Thursday, May 30, 2013

When a cat takes over your house.

(Newkie and Brian, @ 2003)

Rain puts me to sleep. Sunshine wakes me up.

Newkie, here in bed with my son Brian, her dad since she left her mother, has her own sleeping patterns, and rain or shine, she likes to get up and about at four in the morning by jumping on my bed, lying next to my face for a few minutes or so, then, lick my hands and begin to call me up with gentle meows.

If I tap my hand on the bed I encourage her to lie down and rest by me for a while longer, and sometimes I succeed for a few extra winks. Just a few winks.

She enjoys the opportunity to go out even if there is a storm. If I open a window, I can then return to bed and fall back to sleep for a while. Soon, she'll be back, and will wake me again with more licks and more meows until I'm up and about with my morning routine, while the world is still asleep.

She waits for me at each station in anticipation.
She calls me from the hallway if I spend too much time in the bathroom, or in the laundry room. If I settle down in the living room instead of at my computer in the office, for instance, she stands by the office door and calls me until I get back to that room. She then hovers in the background, coming in and out of the room the entire time.

When she wakes in the middle of a nap she comes down by my feet and stretches all out, calling for a brushing. Yes, she has a special call for that brush, and rolls on the carpet, positioning herself and rolling from side to side just perfectly so all of her long fur is brushed and brushed and brushed.  

When we eat fish, she anticipates her own portion. (I prepare hers "tartare", and serve it on a special plate).
When we eat anything else, she leaves the room and eats from her self-feeding dish in the kitchen.

With visitors, she checks them out when they enter the house by remaining at the end of the hall, and if she approves of them, she might drop in for a very short visit;  if not, she hides for the entire time.

If I call, she comes.
If I motion for her to climb up, she does.
If I go for a walk around the property, she waits until I invite her to come along.
I wonder how I can train her to sleep late into the morning.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The stuff that keeps us.

In my pantry I keep bags and containers of dried food, shelf after shelf of things that I will use one day. All  can be easily picked up  at the supermarket. An entire room with shelves like this one!

I have closets full of boxes with important papers, and more papers hidden in back drawers, piled under underwear, usurping space, keeping me busy year after year, when guests arrive and I need those closets for other uses. I'm constantly reminded of our modern obsessions.

I have papers I have written; and papers others have written, from people I will never meet, from people whose sole pursuit is to create trails of evidence, to point out that whatever goes wrong in life is not their fault.

Did you know the amount of insurance you bought in your youth, regardless of how much you paid, and for how long, that amount diminishes with age? At my present age, (forget those insurance claims that you can get guaranteed insurance at any age!) a onehundredfiftythousand life insurance is worth a meagerly onethousand dollars!

I was cleaning up a drawer, and there I saw the fine print, the print that was not sympathetic to my situation any more. Nobody can buy a cemetery plot for that amount, I thought.

What to do with all your stuff? Store if you have storage room. Let the supermarket store your dry goods. Just buy what you need when you need it, and keep your pantry shelves clean and bare. You are not going to go hungry these days.

Better yet, convert your pantry space to an artistic pursuit!

And for papers?
Read and shred. Feed your compost pile. If you want to keep them because you anticipate collecting benefits, be sure you read the small print, on some tiny line somewhere at the end of the document.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A day in paradise

This is what I see out of my back windows: the ocean and dunes in the distance, the lake, my fenced-in garden plot with vegetable boxes built last summer and planted again this spring. The boxes are made of local Port Orford cedar, a wood that turns grey with age, rot resistant.

Cultivating these boxes is easy for any age, especially mine.

I stand up the entire time; I can stretch across to weed and to plant, and since I am short, I do very little reaching or bending down. I've made only two planting mistakes last season. The first one is the planting of artichoke plants, the tall plants in the top row. I'll have to wait until they die off from the main stock, and then transfer the little shoots on the ground.  Artichokes take a lot of room and need space to expand as they send shoots that will continue to produce for a few years more.

The second mistake was to plant strawberries in the bottom right box with cucumbers and nasturtium all of which sent shoots out, everywhere.  For this season, the strawberries will keep their own box.

Looking up from my boxes, the sea and the sea stacks across the lake, and dunes and clouds offer their own version of a day in this paradise. I never tire watching, listening to the waves and the birds, delighting in the small and big things that continue to surprise me every time I look this way.

This is whale migration season, and we are accustomed to see spouts from entire families on their way to Alaska stopping around here to feed and play.

I can do some fishing here on this stack of rocks, just dipping my pole in. People do catch marvelous eating fish here. I might just do that!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Can we still afford to dream?

Port Orford's little league field, as all little league fields, is supported by volunteers, coaches, managers, field preppers, concession moms and dads, sponsors of uniforms, bench builders and transporters. City fathers who see that  the premises are safe and cleaned up before and after the season is over, know that these were  dreams they had, and their cousins and fathers had before them. Keeping up the tradition of little league is a matter of honor for everyone involved.

Nobody ever complains that we are spending so much time and money and labor as a community to see that children experience what we experienced at their age. If we own a business, we'll support the team by writing up the cost of uniforms, awards dinner, trophies. The picture of the team will remain prominently in the halls of the business, to remind the community that this was a very good thing! Even if the team lost. Even if the team lost year after year.

Helping children fulfill their dreams is a natural high for a parent; for the community.

How often we buy stuff we don't need from a boy or a girl who comes to the door and tells us about this dream she/he's pursuing?  A child who dreams of becoming something or someone must be assisted to achieve that dream.

How about more basic dreams, about being safe, educated,  with access to great health care, to experience what every child should have in the course of his/her development?

When I started college, the cost of education at Los Angeles City College was $10 a unit. Everyone could afford  college then; and everyone who couldn't pay even the ten dollars received scholarships and other assistance.

Nobody I knew became bankrupt before they started their career.
When did education become a luxury?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

You must remember this...

Do you find pictures of yourself you don't remember anything about?
This is me, or a woman with the same stride, hair color, size and general build.

It must have been taken a few years back, when Brian was still alive. The clue is my son's dog, Butters, behind me, stopping to sniff another dog. My son must have taken this picture with his phone, when I wasn't watching, his object to chronicle Butters's better pursuits.

Butters was just a year old or so.

(I found this photo as I perused the downloads from his phone after his death.)

I can tell you that we walked, Brian and I, all through his neighborhood, and with his dog. I remember attempting to hold on to her leash with determination because she had a habit of grabbing the leash and playing tug with me. It was not a game I enjoyed with such a strong young dog. My son, on the other hand, enjoyed his dog's strength, agility, playfulness.

I worried out loud about this habit. He reassured me that he had all under control.
Grown up children don't know everything, I thought.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Do you know your neighbors?

We lived in Los Angeles most of our adult/working lives. In our last place, we occupied the same corner house for twenty years and except for families with children in the same sports as our son, or the same activities as our daughter, we didn't know too many people. People didn't stop and say hello to anyone.

They were on a tight schedule; we all were.

We retired to Port Orford, on the Southern Oregon Coast, a small hamlet that sits quietly behind pines, day in and day out, looking out on the Pacific and bordering the forest.  In winter, the town seeks relief from the constant wind and the constant rain by shutting itself in and exposing its thoughts through artistic pursuits. A town of twelve hundred, maybe half of whom are full time inhabitants, here and there and in the surrounding hills, manages to support the arts and wild life with equal fervor.   There are fourteen art galleries in this town.

I've begun to feel like an artist here; something in me wants to live without schedules, between days and nights; garden in the moonlight, write in the sun, cook only when hungry, declare love at every thing and everyone who's listening, take up music, poetry, watercolor, and drop love stones wherever I've walked from the beach with a pocketful of agates.

There is a rumor that this town lives in its own time zone; people wake up and show up at the Post Office when they know they have mail, and the rest of the time you might not see them for months.
Once you know someone's schedule, you honor it. You manage around it and soon it becomes a normal thing to meet for coffee at the spur of the moment when both of you are not running off to a doctor, a dentist, an errand to the hardware store you hope stocks sprinklers for your new lawn that is dying out because, unlike every year since you have moved here, this year, for the first time, the weather has been dry for weeks and you need to turn the sprinklers on your new lawn.

Unlike many beach towns where Main Street is full of trinket places, this town supports small enterprises that provide needed services and support, hardware and lumber stores, a laundromat, four or more RV parks and campgrounds, a school, a park, coffee shops, restaurants, motels and B&B's, a car repair, a hair salon, real estate offices, a quilting shop, an ocean resources office, a dentist, a newspaper, a data business with offices all over the nation, a couple of manufacturing places for machine parts, and unknown numbers of small home businesses, in addition to ranching and cranberry growing.  The port served commercial fishermen as well as sports enthusiasts. A marine reserve, run by the Marine Studies Dep. of Oregon State U. sits right off Table Rock at the Visitor's Park. The reserve is set to study the future of marine life in this part of the world

This town is full of part timers; yet, when they do show up, they fit right in! Unimaginable anywhere else. And since everyone knows someone you don't know, if you need a repair person, start asking around. Did you know that your neighbor used to be a plumber?

Did we know this before we moved here? No!
We moved here to be on the water.
We moved here for its beauty and affordability.
All things that everyone knows.
But what's keeping us here are the people; smart, open minded, eager to engage, perceptive, well read, good stewards of the environment, and mostly, friendly and acceptable of each other's idiosyncrasies.

We are lucky, that way.