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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Wishing Season.

It was the day before Christmas and all
through the stores, no one was more frustrated
than the one not wishing to shop at all.
Not that I didn't want to.
Not that I didn't have occasions to.
No, my frustration was with the whole idea of coming up with a gift to dazzle all other gifts.
Not one thing seemed to fill the bill.
What to do? How to deal with
a desire that can never be fulfilled.
How to play Santa when I know that my people's dreams include
a world cruise
and a car that drives itself
while a  clean-sparkling house and a massage are more what they deserve?
I'm just a child
right now, going between wanting something so badly that only Santa could deliver
and having to be the very Santa who's too old and too practical to keep wishing real.

No, not the books at Barnes and Nobles.
Or the warm pajamas at Macy's.
Or anything and another presented at the Malls of America
Or at the local drugstores.

What I need is an evening back in the old country, a roaring fire in the chimney, snow on the roof top, and the family at the table making the traditional sweet ravioli that would be filled with mashed chestnuts and shaved chocolate, then fried, in a big cauldron, through the night, as we all, young and old, waited for the midnight mass. I would be carried as a sleepy angel baby through muddy and dark streets until we reached the Church.
Then, magically, I'd play my part with other children at the living nativity scene through the Mass and afterwords, through carol singing. After which, back in Father's arms and back home to eat a fried pastry now cool enough to enjoy.

I do hope somewhere in the world these scenes are still played.

I do hope that children everywhere feel the magic of this night in the way they are loved, in the way they are part of the bigger world that treasures them, and keeps peace on earth for all mankind.

May your wishes be of warmth and peace and family.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Promises to keep


Next year, I want to travel to places I've never been to. Quite often, and especially on cloudy and rainy days, on days when my four walls have worn me out, I make promises like this and I mean each and every one of them.

We retired early because we were exhausted from all our work; and we had never had time and money to do much vacationing in places we had dreamed about.  Now that we have time, we notice something we didn't know back in our working days. Then, we slept five hours, worked fifteen, and took care of family and household chores the rest of the time. What we wanted more than anything was more time.

Time when nothing was required of us.

Now that we have time, days and weeks and months with no real important stuff that needs done, we find out that what we really want is energy and passion to start something new, something meaningful and important, something that will allow time to slip by.

We spend so much time just going to the doctors and laboratories associated with our medical conditions, and because  these are too far away,  spending the night at a motel, visiting with family nearby, and shopping in stores that have more than the stores we can access regularly, these medical" necessities suck up all our discretionary funds.

When we return home, we are beat.

It takes two, three days to recuperate from all that traveling. You see, we are genuinely conscientious of every bite we put in our mouths due to our medical conditions. But, when we are away from home, we sin with abandon. Dessert? Sure! Extra gravy? Definitely! Trying a new dish at a new restaurant allows us to forget that these visits are necessities through and through and that after the trip, no more steak frites, no more creme brulee, no more Elmer's Special Breakfast with  Dutch Pancake on the side. Our lives are measured by teaspoons of low-fat salad dressings, mixed greens and  four ounces of broiled fish or broiled chicken. I can be as creative as I want when I cook, as long as I measure carefully, and often.

We have our fiftieth wedding anniversary coming up.

I wonder if we'll have the energy and the resources to pull off a trip of a lifetime to match the importance of this date. I wonder if we should just be happy and satisfied to take our medical mini vacations as long as we can. After all, as long as we keep going, year after year, and enjoy the little pleasures we encounter, who needs anything more?








Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winter Storms



(before the storm)

We live at the far end of the contiguous United States, right by Cape Blanco, Oregon, USA. Here is where all Pacific storms land and gather force before heading east. We are addicted to weather news, and we heed their warnings each time.

A couple of days ago we got the first admonition:
Gale force winds anticipated at Cape Blanco Wednesday eve and Thursday morning.
Yes, indeed, I can assure everyone that the weather channel was correct.

Yesterday afternoon we did the last minute repairs.


At our age, just inserting a tube is a big deal.
Good thing. We have a flat roof, and if water piles at the top, the whole house will suffer.
We went to bed last night knowing we were safe.

Throughout the night, all that wind and creaking of trees and roof and windows kept us awake.
This is what's it like at nine in the morning on Thursday. We're still under a storm watch, remaining indoors and hoping our electricity doesn't go out. We use electricity for cooking and heating as well as communication and entertainment. Without electricity, we're back to the cave age.

(toward the end of the storm)

At this point, it's a dry storm, still able to disrupt utilities and down trees.)
In the next few hours we'll know what the damage is around the neighborhood.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Time and regrets.

My young nephew and niece in this photograph taken in 1970 have just recently gotten in touch with me. Actually, a son of the boy began to research, found my memoir blog and got in touch with me, someone he had never met, someone his father had met only once.

In this picture he sent me, I'm twenty seven years old returning to my homeland after an absence of ten years, all grown up, married and with a two-year old in tow, Pictured here are my nephew and niece, children of my eldest brother.

My niece and nephew, now in their fifties and forties, look today just as they did back then.

I, on the other hand am unrecognizable. I notice how much better looking I was back then! Why didn't I know that at that time? I only remember that I worried about my figure, my clothes, my lack of time, my lack of resources...

Do you feel that way looking back?
That somehow you were better looking and even happier than you remember you were?
That your life was more exciting and fulfilling than you thought it was at that time?

There I sat for this photo, preoccupied, in my own world, while the children, especially little Laura was so eager to accept me. I wish I had kept up with them after that visit; I wish my own children could have communicated across the ocean with their cousins.

Truth is that regrets come with age and usually too late for making amends.
Yet, while I have time on this earth I shall remind everyone of the following things:

1. You are most critical of yourself when you are young. Looking ahead, you'll appreciate yourself more.

2. Keep in touch with your loved ones; they are the ones who put their arms around you right away and are willing to take you in regardless of your worth.

May your holidays be with family and loved ones.



Friday, December 5, 2014

Grateful for Blogger.com

Nobody at this station tells you how to clean the fish you caught just a stone throw to the left. Nobody anywhere around to show you how to cut, fillet, dispose of entrails, or what to do with the heads of the fish you caught. You're on your own. Yet, something quite logical occurs if the tools are intuitive, as the water basin, platform and trash can are.

Why it is exactly this thinking that got most people to jump in and try BLOGGING.

I started blogging exactly seven years ago in December, when I turned sixty five, and had this desire to write some personal pieces regularly. The trouble was that I had very little experience with computers.

At that time, our old computer had trouble downloading anything. Yet, my husband purchased a laptop for me, gave me a quick tutorial, and encouraged me to keep learning.  Actually, he sent me to the tutorial pages. There I got lost and almost gave up until a friend of mine in a writing group told me about Blogger.com.

I found Blogger and started my blog with my first entry on a platform that was easy and non-demanding. It took me a year to discover by accident that if you want visitors you have to have a gadget that allows people to sign up. Within six months I had followers, and visiting enough blogs to begin to notice the rich variety of style everyone brought to the endeavor.

Through a blogger, Dave, a journalist from Melbourne, Australia, I learned the simple (yet difficult for me) task of importing pictures. Discovering other tools took much longer.  When Blogger changed its platform, I got lost.

My learning curve had come to a precipice.

I have admired the ease with which other bloggers incorporate media and enrich their presentations. I tip my hat to them. Sure, I could take a course and have the full arsenal of tools available to me. Perhaps, I will feel the need to do that one of these days.

For now, I am grateful that programmers and designers who work for Blogger understand how humans learn and provide us with easy to follow instructions. My life has been enriched by the contacts and the knowledge I've gained through this type of sharing and learning.

A great big THANK YOU to Blogger.com and the talented and patient staff who support the website that allows me to touch the world without ever leaving the comfort of my home.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Like a walk in the park...




For everything I write, I consider the veracity of my statements and attributions, the markers of identification around me, the effect my words will have on my dear ones, how what I write fits in the opus of  my accomplishments...

Even a simple essay as this blog post needs an integrity of purpose, a consistent point of view, and fit the kind of writing exemplified by the hundreds of entries in this blog, as well as the various circumstances I have shared all along in the last six plus years.

In contrast, when I write about my past, while I'm the only arbiter of both content and point of view, the very act of conjuring up the past helps me make sense of it for my benefit and for nobody else.


When I tell stories about my life, I can choose what to write about, and how much to reveal about myself in the exercise. In a sense. I can take any personality I think I had when I experienced those events. Everything I talk about can be colored anyway I see fit as my childhood, the way I experienced it, cannot be anyone else's. Even people who grew up with me or around me cannot bear witness to how I felt at any given moment.

Does all this mean that the writer can make up his/her story the way a fiction writer chooses his characters and their personalities? Does it happen this way?

I cannot speak for other writers; I can only tell you about myself.

When I write memoir pieces, I embody an emotional self that lived at that time, constricted by the circumstances depicted in those episodes, and it all feels, as I write, as though I'm watching myself in a movie, and the scenes spring up like movie sets, colors and lighting, and dialogue trying to be rooted in that time and space for as long as possible.  What happens in those scenes, if any insight surfaces, it is  discovered as it is being told, or within the confines of a few scenes. This looking back, revisiting the innocent and blind state we were in at the time of a decision helps us embrace the person we were then, helps us reveal TO OURSELVES the poignant moments in our lives.

I can tell you that I discovered so much about my journey as I wrote about it.

There is no time like retirement to make sense of our lives; to hold it proudly and share the lessons with those we love. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

By the the river's edge...





Daily, Hubby and I
scour old maps for a
a new trail we've heard of,
or one not trod recently
where dream
landscapes can reset our clocks
for an hour or so, allowing us to
forget achy backs and sore knees
as though we left them asleep in bed, where rain
wind and
pesky news interrupt  our rest so often.


Hope-blown-scarlet leaves
swirl around a wild apple tree
with no known name
as the impeding rain
hurries us on. I take a bite, and fail to recognize the taste.

At the grocery store, before driving home, we look at Fuji apples
all smart and perfectly arranged
(how the wild apples
sprayed  my gums with alacrity,
daring me to like them, to find them again...)
we gather four perfect Fuji
for  our return
to the warm home
and  measured life of polished fruit
and porcelain smiles.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

dAILY reminders of broken trails...

We are a step
no
a hair-width
no
a breadth
a murmur
an eyelash
away
from
Nothingness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fears are Tangible

Here we are, the white-haired bunch, spending an August afternoon parked in our easy chairs, sun hats and comfortable clothes, snacks, extra covering in case the wind picks up, ready to listen to young people entertain us with their beautiful sounds.


Old people love young people.

Time stops for us when we see a fourteen/sixteen year old collecting his wits and budding skills to produce a sound in a public setting. This audience is all smiles; with not a bit of malice or criticism toward them. Why, some are reminiscing about their own experience standing in front of an audience of strangers playing together in a band for the first time. The body language is mostly the same, stiff, hesitant, swaggering or downright trembling with fear. I'm guessing the young man on the cell phone while his colleague is making announcements is the least fearful of this audience.

We have learned to recognize most of our fears in our recurring dreams, in the underlined and repeated conversations with each other, in the packages of supplies we stock up just in case.

Guessing the fear in the faces of these young people is easy enough. At their age, I recall few clear paths out of fear, except to listen to adults and practice. Obedience and shame worked wonders at keeping fear at bay.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stranded at Disneyland

Did you know that when you left your home it
was for the last time
that your special nick- name was dropped
and you had to wear a new badge
and that your family
your toys
your language
your food
your friends
your very identity were no longer yours?

Did you know what Allegiance meant?

Stranded between what you were and what you would become, your journey took decades, continued in your children and grandchildren for centuries in the future.

Did you know that when and if you returned to visit you would be branded with the brand of the new place, though that brand didn't fit you right? That everyone would never share with you again the stories of olden days since you were no longer able to remember such days?

Did you know you would be shunned for daring to leave the others behind?
Did you know you would be shunned for not sounding at all the way the new others sounded?
Did you know that an A student could suddenly become a D student?

Did you know that you would become stranded even at Disneyland?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Welcome to America!

No matter where you land in America for the first time, it will strike you as part MainStreet and part Frontierland. Old buildings will remind you of the old  European capitals and new buildings/bungalows will remind you of those cowboy movies you watched as a child. Clothes, food, mannerisms, expressions will remind you of all the Clint Eastwood's movies you saw at the local cinema.

People all over the world know a lot about America because products like Coca Cola and Malboro cigarettes have introduced the world to Americans and American tastes.

I liked Elvis, The Platters, poodle skirts and rock-n-roll. I knew about hamburgers and drive-ins where teenagers hung out. I had studied English at my high school and earned A+ on every test. I knew enough vocabulary to offer my opinion on everything. I loved everything American.

"How did you like the trip?" my Uncle asked after I landed in Los Angeles. I had slept most of the time, and had no opinion. He was  smiling  and nodding in a self-congratulatory way when he spoke to me in English. I smiled back and responded in Italian that it was very long. "No! You are in America now and must speak only English."  I nodded again, and within minutes, I knew that I had underestimated the whole language thing. I didn't understand, though I did sense the enormous difficulties I would encounter.

That night, I dreamt I was deaf and dumb. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Of Friends, Family, and Voyages


If you grew up and spent your life in the same place, your families and friends have witnessed most events in your life. Some people know this rooting in place is important, and they treasure the instances when everyone shows up at an event, when  they can catch up with each other on anything that happened out of sight just spending an hour or so at the local coffee shop.

At seventeen,I knew this life intimately.

Because of an enormous desire to travel and experience the world, I left my family, friends and hometown for the great adventure awaiting me in America. Did I have any hint of what was waiting
across the ocean? Did I contemplate the effect such a move would have had on the rest of the family? Did I analyze the pros and cons, the long term consequences of such a voyage?

NO. I WAS ONLY CONCENTRATING ON THE GREAT ADVENTURE IN MY FUTURE.

Did I find all the things I had anticipated? Yes and no.
Did I miss all the people and things I left behind? Yes and no.
Would I recommend such an adventure to others? Yes and no.
Knowing what I know today, I would have a long talk with that seventeen year old....
(to be continued...) 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The lure of a new path

Not all paths are alike, though each moves us to abandon the known
the dark night of comfort
that can choke the air
in that familiar way.

A walking path with secret recesses
and vistas
surprises us with ups and downs, hides the
obvious, squirrels its booty
until we're ready to appreciate them.

Funny how a new path never tires us.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The negative effect of the positive.




We crave to escape our daily lives while reading other people's posts, perusing travel magazines, re-posting other people's vacation pictures, fantasizing ourselves in the same vicinities even when nothing in our present condition can make that fantasy a reality.

Dream big.
Dream often.
Never give up.

We are fed such pablum from the time we are babies. We are shoved into libraries and museums early in life to wet our appetite for big things even when our eyes were opened just long enough for our mother to nurse and change our diapers. By five or six we were  enrolled in some sort of music or dance class, as well as a soccer team, or a craft class to discover our true calling and develop all of our abilities.

 Dreaming big was our parents' shot of vitamins for themselves and for us too. Not working hard at pursuing such dreams would have been a  let down, a major disappointment not just to our parents, but to a whole lot of the adult population that tirelessly produced pictures of the future in rosy colors, saw only the positive things that were to come our way if only we worked hard and believed in that dream.

It must be that humans' DNA has been constantly altered by the infusion of positive spin, the true antidote to grim situations that could barely produce food and shelter in most of our short stay on earth. How else do we explain the natural aptitude for self-positive-talk we all possess?

The building of Great Expectations: 

The phenomenon may be a modern phase. I know,  I'm as guilty of living under its big umbrella and promoting its benefits as anyone.  We have nothing else to replace it. Why, when we begin to doubt its existence, Anxiety, Depression and Fear lurk right around the corner. Instead, we pull ourselves up, dust ourselves out, and sing a happy tune no matter what. If our dreams have not come true is because we have not worked hard enough; we have not built the skills and the desire hard enough. If we begin to have doubts about our dreams, then the slippery slope is before us, and we are doomed to a life of self-doubts, a life of failure.

How we attack these doubts is simple. The pharmaceutical industry is happy to show us the way.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

We're Not Waterfalls


In the woods we call home
walking feels like a  simple proposition, sturdy shoes,  light jacket, a well-beaten path
through dark and ancient growths, and down the path a safe place
where Grandma lives
by a creek
a big stone
and an inviting fire around which to dry our wet bones.

We only have to stay on the marked path and not be lured by strange
shadings, bubbles of color, a mushroom, a flower
a deer looking straight up.
All the reasons we need
to dilly-dally, here and there would take us off our beaten path.

Long-limbed shadows hiding sun and direction
bodies and tails scurrying left and right
under our noses,
can distract us easily as we attempt a steady landing
remaining
grounded in the present.

When last moments come, they
are a gentle slip of the foot
a moment in the high wire act
we call life.

Not at all like waterfalls free-falling toward unknown landings.

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to spot a trend...


This morning Alibaba stock went on sale at the New York Stock Exchange.  This is a Chinese stock that did not go on sale in China's Hang Seng's Exchange because of rules and regulations in China. The stock,like Amazon and E-Bay, facilitates trading and selling of goods.
It's basically a data base.It started trading at $25 above anticipated starting numbers.

And that makes the future of Alibaba rosy for sure. This trend of inventing "intermediaries" products has been going on for a while. You'd think we were already super-saturated.

The way we are super-saturated with Real Estate companies.

But here is the rub; there will be great many more services like this until someone will dominate and send everyone else to the dust bin.  How many nation-wide Real Estate Corporations can you name?

How many of you will walk into a mom-and-pop real estate office to buy a house or an office building? The array of services offered by a big-chain real estate conglomerate will handle so many more elaborate transactions, and they have their long-standing satisfied customers to vouch for them.

Yet, it is the mom-and-pop business that really knows what's available in the area even before it goes on sale.  The owners live in the neighborhood; their children attend the local schools; they drink the water; they know the local trades people; they understand local codes and how long it will take for that special easement to be enacted between you and the neighbor that stands between you and the highway you need to carve a path toward, so your family can have precious privacy, views, and even access to  that precious lot you plan.

Unless your transaction is across states, involving lots of rights and easements and codicils that only an expert lawyer with environmental and geological backgrounds can unravel, possessing a nose for what the local planning commission will or will not approve, you can trust the mom-and-pop business expertise.

As you can trust the ad in the local paper that will allow you to drive right up to see that " armoir" you didn't know you wanted until you saw it up for sale.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Habits,Novelties, and the history of Food Consumption


Growing cherry tomatoes in insulated blankets on the Oregon Coast, Summer 2014.

Throughout our evolution we kept trying to find  new things to eat, in part because we were always hungry, and in part because as our brain grew larger we needed more fuel. I can personally vouch for the need to fuel the brain because after a meeting, even today in my retirement years, just listening to a bunch of facts and figures, not even trying to be attentive and active participant, I'm beat and famished and can't say no to anything put in front of me.

Someone must be using that little fact to present us with food at such meetings that we might reject at other times, sweets, sugary drinks, indulgences of all sorts.

As in potato chips and ice-cream, both invented for fried brains. No wonder that in prime time the advertising on television is mostly about food products none of us really need, but want after a little teasing jingle has wet our appetite.

How could it be that an evolved civilization could be so insensitive and yes, stupid even, as to stuff itself with non-food and feel good about it?

During my working years, the last thing I wanted to think about was preparing a meal from scratch, as in home-made soup or stews at the end of the day after a long day and a long commute, to a waiting family that might need not just food, but supplies to rush and pick up at the store for tomorrow's presentation in one of the classes the children attended, or an activity like soccer or ballet, or...

 Well, someone came up with canned and frozen products that almost made the working mom feel good; why the advertising said, "Uhh, uhh, Good!!!" What we never knew was that food chemists were working double time to come up with "invented" taste, adding extra vitamins on the label to reassure the housewife that the product they took home to feed their family was as good as home-made.

Now that I have the time to truly read the labels, to truly shop carefully for food, I'd rather go back a thousand years in history, (in my own family, we go back just one generation), and grow my own food, then freeze the excess for those winter days when a bag of frozen peas can be added to that risotto and make spring reappear on the dinner table. Nothing beats the taste of that tiny tomato you grow, sweating over it as if it were your own baby growing under that insulating blanket. And months later, roasted, herbed and frozen tomatoes will have nothing of the "tin" taste of canned tomatoes.

Isn't it ironic?


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Togetherness Factor

I grew up in a small family, just my parents, an older brother and I. Just before I left for America, my baby brother was born. Since there is quite an age difference between us, each of us felt like only children. I got Dad  to take me places I wanted to go for over twelve years before the baby took over everyone's attention. Yes, we had a big extended family, but we didn't spend much time with them.

My son Scott married into a very close knit family.

In this recent picture, his wife, daughter and immediate family decided to come together on vacation to Oregon. This is the extended family's first visit to these parts.

 First, they all had to agree right up front on the need for such trip, the purpose of it, the destinations, and the arrangements, such as where to stop to spend the night, etc,,,

I have known them for a long time, a very close-knitted group, supportive and generous with each other. The reason for the trip: dropping my/our grandchild off at Reed College in Portland. Hence the reason for them to stop over on the Southern Oregon Coast to visit with us, the in-laws. My son Scott, a teacher, was not on this trip, as his school calendar had already started.

Our grandchild has been raised by the entire family.

Raising children with the help of a large family becomes everybody's responsibility and everybody's joy. Uncles and aunts contribute their time, energy and resources in making sure the new generation is well supported, well guided, well equipped to face the larger world facing them. My grandchild is lucky to have been born among such caring individuals who many times put aside their own needs and wants to join her and become her biggest supporters. At every activity she has been involved in, she's had a loving audience there, cheering for her, congratulating her, joyful with her. And so, as she goes off to college, the family too will stop by the famous campus, visit the halls, inspect the living quarters.

Most importantly, she'll learn through example, will internalize how and what a family does, and will look forward to a union in her future that is this fulfilling and this rewarding.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Authentic Self.


When do we ever just act on our instincts, not caring to please and be accommodating, discarding others' expectations, jumping into situations with joy and thrill and self interest? Do we do this only as children and by the time we've grown up we have internalized bibles of do's and don'ts to serve us well in most situations? How invested in our public image do we become? What would the real you look like, act like, if your private and public self were one and the same?

This particular morning, we planned  to go take a walk on the beach, in our sweats, walking shoes, sun hats. On a whim, my husband drove an additional twenty miles before finding a place to walk that was new to us. (Somehow, finding a new place to walk is our version of fun these days.)

Before noon, tired and hungry, we saw a country fair sign advertising free-entry for seniors,  and talked ourselves into dropping by. I looked at myself in the car visor mirror, and accepted the fact that dirty and sweaty was not going to change our experience much. Usually, I'm quite particular on how presentable I am. Not this day. We were too far from home, and the chances of running into anyone we knew were slim.

As we sat at this outdoor stand, waiting for our burgers, I noticed the rest of the audience.
We do feel anonymous in a big crowd, I thought. What if that lady's boss from the bank, for instance, would see her today in this T-shirt?

Within seconds, we ran into a couple we knew who joined us right there at the burger counter. Somehow this much exposure of  my authentic self ended up giving me indigestion.





Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why Blog?


(Grandson Nico with his dad Jason on a hike.)

We blog, we take and post pictures here and there, most obviously to keep a record of our lives for posterity. As I look back at my life, I wish I had many more pictures, many more accounts of incidents that in retrospect I seem to have lost in the caves of my memory.
This need to record, take pictures, share moments that continually define our existence is very strong with most of us, even for those who are not afraid they may forget.

Do we actually observe, and capture the moments that define us?

In these moments that seem important, do we wholeheartedly record everything, or are we constantly curating our lives now that instant messaging and instant pictures allow us to keep the best of our moments tucked away in a gallery of pictures, a storehouse of observations we choose to keep?

Perhaps it is not recording that we do.

After all, every time we sit to write, or point a camera, we are removing ourselves from the situation, becoming observers, not actors. How can we extrapolate meaning if we haven't spent time with the situation?

Aren't we altering the situation when we ask people to pose? What about that camera pointing at us, by a smiling, loving person, don't we want to please them and sit up straight and tall, flashing a big smile, wiping out any doubt that life is sure grand?

Notice how irritated we can become when a "candid" picture shows up in our cache!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

All those old times...



I've always felt that my life was fluid, not because of anything I did or wished, but just how circumstances worked in my life, allowed me to move across continents, grow in different settings and  attract different people who could and became friends for a while.

However, I do miss all those childhood friends and relatives left behind when I moved to America. I tried to stay in touch for a while; but after a few years, it was hard to talk about things we no longer shared.

Lately, this idea that I've not maintained life-long friends bothers me. Something is lacking when your closest friend is also your spouse. Oh, I don't mean there is anything wrong with it. But, your history together may not include all those occasions in childhood that formed the way you grew up.

I remember how it felt the first few months in a new country, trying to start or respond to an inquiry from someone in a language I could hardly understand, feeling that people avoided you on purpose, feeling you were making all the right moves and yet...
Such experiences cannot be shared with a spouse who didn't know you then; worse, never had to live in a foreign country and has no idea how hard it is to communicate in a new language.

We can't talk much about our childhood,  those pesky neighbors, those difficult classes in high school. Not having a life-long friend limits your conversations to politics, weather, and current events.

Yet, those stories about old times get better and better when they are retold to a trusted old friend.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rules for new grandmas

The last time I was a new grandma was eighteen years ago!
Things have changed during two decades or so.
So, to help you avoid many mistakes, here are my new observations:

1. Don't post pictures of your new grandchild without permission from the parents, even if you took those pictures.

2. Don't start showing off pictures of your grandchild at a party; unless, someone asks.

3. Don't tell the new parents what was the 'right" thing to do in your days. Medical science has grown faster than you know.

4. Accept what the parents are doing as they are the ones who are responsible for that child even after you've left this earth.

5. Don't buy stuff for the child without consulting with the parents. Even toys.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On the wings of a dove...

Curry County, Southern Oregon, home to more senior citizens than any other county in this state, and threatening to receive more in the next ten years. At this event at Azalea Park in Brookings last Sunday a couple of hundred souls partook in this free activity sponsored by local merchants and local community groups.

Most of us knew what to do, bring a lunch or snack, a blanket or coats, sunscreen and hats in case the sun suddenly showed up and sit back and enjoy the performance.Notice in the picture that there is a couple up and dancing. Dancing, as in on their feet and moving is a great exercise at any age.

Dancing was encouraged quite often from the stage as the music, a Louisiana rhythm of blues and bayou zydeco, blue grass variations we heard quite a bit when we lived in the South, was quite easy to move to.  The performers' vocal spokesperson  was from Modesto, California,  he said. Modesto is in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, with nothing in common with Bayou country. But he got us in the mood for some old time bayou jumble nevertheless.

We, Hubby and I, lasted an hour wrapped in jackets.  Rather, were able to sit, eat a take out meal from the Colonel down the hill, and talked about everything except the weather. You see, Brookings is 60 miles south of us, and is known for its balmy 80's most summer days. On this day, the temps had trouble reaching 60.

Getting our stuff from the parking lot to the lawn, an up and down to the place where the band played, constituted a good part of our exercise for the day; lugging stuff tires us more than anything; and going up and down seems to put an additional strain on our backs and our heart. Dancing, therefore, was left  for those who were spared rheumatism and pace-makers.

The audience, as you can tell from the picture, was way past their prime, and most of them had probably spent their hours commuting from one sitting position to another. Most folks we meet in Southern Oregon have moved here from Southern California, from places like Sacramento, Modesto, Los Angeles, all commuting meccas.

We are on foreign soil here; though, because there are so many of us re-stationed here from California, we feel at home, nevertheless. And running back to California is easy too, just a short ride down 101 past the Agricultural Station, and we're back in California where we'll pay an additional 8% sales tax on most purchases;  and housing will cost us double right at the border. So, living across the border is a no brainer.




Friday, July 4, 2014

When do you know?

When do you know that those trees must go.
That pampas grass is taking over your view.
That you need to get up and do something about your place before it is condemned, as in not habitable? Do you really need to keep all those Tupperware lids saved up?

Most of us continue to nest, adding more of this, a dash of that, shoes for this and that activity, a dish for that special party, an easy ugly chair that your parents gave you for your first apartment and you have kept all these years.

We have been lucky. We moved a few times, and each time, there was someone who could get rid of/or take possession of our extra stuff without us spending an arm or a leg in finding suitable receivers. In a sense, we have never downsized properly except this last time. Twelve years ago, as we planned our retirement move to the state of Oregon, a long way from home, we asked our children to take what they wanted and what they didn't take would go to Goodwill.  The three of them took just about everything, and what they didn't take did go to a charity.

Ahead twelve years, and our house now looks as crowded and as full of stuff as our original house.  If we had to move again, we'd have a very tough time downsizing. No, we no longer have the family silver. We no longer have lots of memorabilia. What we do have are very comfortable furnishings chosen for our present home. Furnishings that might as well remain behind, as few of them would look as well somewhere else, especially in a tiny apartment where we figure we'd end up in our doddering years, close to family and doctors. And our children, some living quite far, would not care to collect what we collected.

We are doing a few things differently.
We are regularly purging, donating and upgrading furnishings and implements.
Regularly, our books go to the library, our clothes and appliances to the local charities. If we have to sell the house, it will have the simple furnishings that remain, with fishing poles, life jackets and canoes in the boat house.

Even our landscaping taste has changed through the years. Perennials in the ground, mostly natives. Annuals in pots. Every thing has automated irrigation so humans have to do little thinking ahead.  Even our mail receptacle, a p.o box, is big enough to keep three-four weeks worth of mail, should we be hospitalized and out of circulation for a while.

We can digitize all our files and pictures and send copies to our children.
Did we forget something?


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Final Plans.


When do you start talking about final plans? You know the end is inevitable, and statistically for most people even predictable. So, why is it so hard to make final plans?

Could it be that we are really not good at these things?
Could it be that we so fear our own ending that even contemplating it abstractly causes anxiety and fear?
Could it be that we are not programmed to think about sad endings?

I wonder how many people have their final plans all wrapped up and in a safe place.
We, hubby and I, have gone as far as writing a will and choosing/paying for a cemetery plot. We have medical directives with our doctors and we carry the same with us to and from hospitals. We spoke to our children about all this; but they, as most young people, didn't really want to hear anything.
How many other people our age have gone this far? 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We Graduate Every Day.



I have never felt more grounded as I feel now.
Golden days arrive as small surprises rather than big storms, in a grandchild's ebullient smile, in the play of shadows and colors I notice often as I am able to take a leisurely walk in the front yard, in the admiration I feel for the gift my granddaughter has been. My own children receiving gifts, and giving gifts.

These moments are both temporary and long in coming.
They are surprises and hopes anticipated for a lifetime.
And unlike big events like graduations and weddings, they may be forgotten tomorrow.
Yet, these are the moments that truly grace our human soul; these are the moments that tell us how beautiful and rich our lives are.

And we appreciate them simply because we see the end of our path approaching, a milestone that will be our last one.

We think of graduations as stepping off one stage and climbing up on another, all the while full of hope, cussedness, confidence. Each moment in the limelight feels like something we are entitled to, the fanfare, the adulation, the perfect rhythm of life just aligned for our pleasure. We hardly know anything about the stage we leave behind before entering another.

Life is full of mileposts, first graduation, first love, first marriage, first job, first child, first illness, first loss....

Each milepost allows us a day in the sun when the concert goes off without a hitch; when sights and sound, weather and transportation, food and entertainment all are delivered with a masterful hand as augury for an occasion everyone looks forward to.

Never do we think that  mileposts were also mothers' and fathers' and teachers' mileposts. They took all the right steps, paid all the costs, smoothed all the paths so these mileposts became full celebrations for us.

As I enjoy the smiles and giggles of a new grandchild, the beauty and talent of a graduating granddaughter, the gift of family, at these moments, aware of the intricacies of connections and experiences, I'm appreciative of all the gifts I have been bestowed in my lifetime.  




Sunday, June 8, 2014

Getting Away




Retirement is different things to different people.
Hubby and I did not know what we wanted for our golden years. We never talked about it during our working years, too busy to keep everything else straight and on task. The one thing we had agreed on was that if we moved away from our children,  the place had to appeal to them too, so they'd drop by and spend time with us.

We wanted to downsize and simplify our lives.
We wanted fewer possessions to go along with fewer needs.
We wanted solitude and natural beauty.

 We could not afford Malibu, or its neighboring suburbs. We actually started out in the hills of Malibu, visiting those beautiful beaches every weekend we could getaway. When we looked for a place to relocate, Malibu and all other towns in California were out of our reach.

So, we kept going North, as in moving to Oregon.

The greenery and the remoteness became very attractive. Hubby commented that it felt like "going home" for him, a child of the Northwest for most of his formative years. I had never seen so much greenery; so many rivers and forests and unspoiled beaches. I did not know people could exist in such tiny hamlets.

We kept looking for a place that would feel like a vacation spot.  We took many pictures on our first foray, and back home, we shared  these vistas with our grown children and friends. We became the envy of everyone even before we retired.

Yes, indeed, we were satisfied with our quest for a vacation place that everyone would love to come and visit us.
Only, to reach us, our children and friends had a long way to go.
Too long.
Long enough that dropping in unannounced would never be the case.

After twelve years, we still love our place. Only, our children don't come up to visit us that often; and we do miss seeing them. We got what we wanted at a price we didn't know we had to pay.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Oh What a Night...

Instead of watching Jeopardy last night, I drove to Pacific High School Auditorium, where the graduation stage and chairs were still lined up from last Friday's eve event, this time to celebrate the end of the school year with Driftwood Elementary Band. I almost didn't go. After all, the school had hired a new music teacher just last fall, and there had not really been a band in the past years.


Our Song Along the Driftwood Shore
We are pleased to present a selection of vocal and instrumental pieces with a special performance media presentation.

They, k-8 students, rocked the house last night, from ballet movements of the lower grades to a jazzy band of the upper grades who could play  anything given them, including a piece they wrote, arranged and expertly "taught" the audience how they put the piece together.
Many children had  solo parts, both as presenters and as performers.

The talented  piano/voice of Nathan Malamud received special recognition.

Would you believe these band members have only been practicing together for one year?

 Way to go, Driftwood.

 The house was filled with families and community members like myself, enjoying the dances, the music, and even a film written, acted, and produced by the 4th/5th grade media class.

Kudos to the performers and to Mr Morganti, the music teacher and director of all productions, who harnessed the talent and imagination of the children through hard work, practice and sheer joy that comes when a job is well done and shared easily.

Indeed! Every child was enjoying himself/herself, and family members beamed the whole time. I felt transported to the times my own children were young and in school productions. But this performance didn't take place in a big school, with a big budget and hundreds of parents with special skills.

I close with a quote from Mr. Morganti on the back of the program:
"...We have found Port Orford to be a warm, honest place that values quality education for its young people..."

Our thanks to Mr. Morganti, staff and support groups, who value education and their young people to see that the arts and all academic areas are of high quality.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We're a click away...

I began blogging to think aloud.
And to discover the bigger world around me.


We moved from a big city, Los Angeles, where neighbors hardly saw or spoke to each other, to a small hamlet on the Oregon Coast where neighbors know each other, where walks on the beach means meeting tourists as well as locals; where a stop at the post office to pick up mail is an opportunity to catch up with the town's gossip wheel.

Somehow, though I don't receive mail anymore from friends or relatives (excluding special occasions) I marvel at how much I know about them through the social media outlets we subscribe to. Facebook lets me keep in touch almost instantaneously, drop a congratulatory note or ramble about my hobby horse without interruptions, and at the end of the day, when I see that a friend from work I have not seen for decades likes my post, I feel re-connected to my old self.

What is even more remarkable is the connection across time and space that none of us would have predicted. Recently, I met a young student from England, researching her grandfather's life. She saw a name on my Memoir blog she recognized from a signature on a portrait her grandfather had left for her painted in India during WWII. 

She emailed me, wanting to know if that artist was the relative I had talked about in my memoir.  

Serious research may have to go different routes; more scholarly routes are available through university and government institutions. But common folks with common curiosity can certainly feed such curiosity with just a click away.

We can live anywhere in world; purchase goods from anywhere in the world; work in the privacy of our living space; and on a day when we want to talk/skype or connect in real time with a loved one we can phone, text, leave messages here and there and in no time we are back together.

It sure beats sending a note in a bottle, or mailing a flimsy air-mail letter that might take months to get across the ocean.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Men retire; women re-direct.


( Portland, on the Willamette River, @ 2010, early morning cruising. No, this is not our boat.)

I don't have to convince any women my age that retirement for women is different than it is for men. Men and women may be in the same boat, but they focus on their surroundings differently.

Men talking to women:
1. Let's do nothing today.
2. Better yet, let's just go down river...

Women:
1. I have laundry to do.
2. Were you not going to clean the garage today?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dreaming of Retirement?


If you have a lot of money and want to retire, you don't need to do anything, at all.

You  never have to plan for the time when you can no longer make a living. You have only to decide how and where you spend your money. Not, if you can survive without that paycheck.

People with money have more confidence, fewer anxieties, more luck. People with money make money work for them. If they work for an employer that matches their retirement savings in their 401K, they have found the golden key to retirement.
The more they save, the more they are gifted
Their money will make money as long as they don't spend it all.

It turns out that if you are one of those people with money, you are also healthier, and seeing doctors and dentists regularly will guarantee you remain healthier. Your resources will allow you to have more choices in life than those people who must work and scrimp every minute of their lives.

People with money most likely received a free-paid by their parents-education, a free wedding, free loans or low interest loans to get started in a business. They married better partners; they left the marriage that had not worked out; they moved on to careers that were more rewarding.

People with money have always had more choices.

What about the rest of us? 

Since the last recession took a bit bite out of their investments, if they had investments, the average family is not equipped to pay for their children college education. Settling the younger generation with substantial debt before they have their full career ahead of them is bound to complicate things for these children for decades.

Should the parents become incapacitated and in need of help, their children will not be able to take them in, offer assistance, pay for the extra help to maintain a minimum of amenities and lifestyle. At all stages of life, the average family does not have sufficient resources to achieve the American dream.

If you feel comfortable in your present lifestyle, and are planning to retire soon, do a bit of research before you quit that job.
If you can, continue to work part-time, see if you can live on half as much.
If you are young enough to start somewhere else where you will be happier and fulfilled, make that move. Retirement may be postponed. Retirement is not all that it is cracked up to be.

Most people enjoy working and contributing to society.
Most people do not have enough hobbies or money for hobbies. And even if they did, how much fishing is too much; or golfing; or needlepoint?

Ask yourself if you are prepared financially first and foremost:

1.What can you cut back on? Your retirement funds may have to last you thirty years...
2. Things will break down and will need to be replaced: cars, roofs, teeth...
3. Prices will go up for your basic needs such as food, medicine, transportation...
4. Traveling and hobbies will take a big bite of scarce resources.
5. Your medical costs, even if you have always been in good health will no longer be paid by your employer, or subsidized by your company. Even with Medicare's coverage, you are looking at increased medical costs. Plus, as you get older your body needs to be checked more often, at the very least. You will see more specialists, take more drugs, require glasses more often.

Last, but most important, why are you retiring? If your job is fulfilling and rewarding, keep working, but take as many vacations as you can, check out places and activities you might want to pursue to remain active and happy in your later years.



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Home is all about the neighbors.


This small incline at the top of the picture brings me joy every time I see it. Notice the houses. You can't really see them. Mine is the fourth on the left, at the stone column marker. If I hadn't told you you couldn't even guess that houses hide behind those trees.

Most are vacation cottages, occupied for a few weeks every summer or holiday. Out of the eight that would be in this pictures if trees didn't hide them, only three are occupied year round.
Ours is one of them.


This is the view you'd get if you walked up from the street to my residence, a long gravel road and a concrete pad in front of the house. We have houses on the side of house that are barely visible; and one straight ahead at the other side of the street, usually unoccupied all year long, surrounded by trees and water. My cat has this view early in the morning, when I open a window and let her out. She jumps out and down to the pavers and on to the gravel until she finds a smell she likes.



She doesn't like meandering toward the lake on her own; she waits for me to go down toward the lake garden before she attempts to get close. Then, she sits and waits quietly until I retreat back to the house. She scurries fast and furious to get into the front door before I close it.


When I walk out my driveway for the short walk toward the beach, my cat stays behind. She has no idea what fun I have on the white sand.
She and I enjoy the solitude this place provides, rain or shine, though deer, herons and beavers may think we are overcrowded.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Motherhood is a voyage...


Happy Mother's Day!
The only day when everyone around you feels guilty that you are up before them....

Monday, May 5, 2014

Closing the distance



I'm lost and found here
among trees, fog,
occasional sun rays,
and mostly rain.
What I have become is
enough for now; a breadth
to get me over the bed posts
of each morning.

You have to drag me out screaming some mornings as
I sit here behind the lacy curtains of this windowed world
listening to the blue jays screaming out at my cat-
"We can't help it!" I shout back
"Go on-go-squawking elsewhere
while I go down to the
vegetable garden and demand respect from the slugs.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

When old people rant...


There is us, and the structures we build to keep things and people in place. There is nature too, reminding us that we are vulnerable at every season, even if our mortgage is paid, and our utilities are up to date, and the life we are constructing feels as good as we can afford to make it. We used to consult our priests, our neighborhood banker, our parents. Now, we believe what we can glean the truth by doing "research" on the internet, reading the first article in the top listing that comes straight from the admirably-cheating-enabler Wikipedia.

In my days, (I know, pre-historical) we had no insurance, no mortgages, and no credit cards. What we had was the food we grew; and the ability to trade our extra food for clothes and other necessities. Life was laid out simply and visibly all the time.

Yet, with all the modern conveniences and automatic searches for knowledge I have had a deep feeling that truth is hidden deeper than it ever was. And I, in my little corner of the world, have had no impact whatsoever in creating more transparency.


I have never been able to put my finger on the status of my soul until just now, after a lifetime of work, after burying a son, after facing challenges I didn't expect to face,  trained and prepared as a model mother, worker, wife, citizen...

I have begun to rant.

But how could I have been any braver when  all day long, decades after decades, all I heard were a litany of lies from individuals and from institutions. Even simple exchanges are manufactured cliches, all empty shells:  "How is your day?" "Terrific!"

In most encounters, when we need to sign on the bottom line because we need that mortgage, that loan, that job, our lives are not our own.  Someone else is inventing ways to take advantage of the situation and rigging up the exchange so they, not you, are protected in that encounter.

We realize early in life that lying, painting a rosy picture works to bring us more joy or satisfaction. Our wounds might be festering; our souls raped and assaulted by our work place back stabbing, but our attitude is stellar, satisfying the needs of all around us.

So, late in life we begin to see the whole scheme we tacitly engulfed ourselves in. Heavy debts like student loans were never portrayed in their ramifications; they were displayed as a pittance in the big scheme of things, the big money we were going to make once that degree got us into the door.

The trouble at this time is that nobody out there wants to hear the bad news.
Nobody out there wants to consider the consequences of a life without many choices.
Nobody out there wants to listen to old people ranting.

Remember those old seers in ancient times telling Achilles or Priam the truth?
They were classified as crazy old people ranting to the wind...







Monday, April 28, 2014

Change from within


Soon, right around the bend, we'll be receiving pamphlets and literature about local, state and national elections, as well as  about measures that will affect local quality of life. My front yard will display what we believe are the right  candidates and the right measures to support.

Were we always this open about our political views?
Not really.

Most of our adult years were spent raising a family and providing for the present while hoping the future would automatically get better by itself, somehow. We accepted rules and the status quo automatically. After all, we were just cogs in big machines.

The first time I experienced a change in policy occurred accidentally.

I was pregnant with my youngest child, and had ten days to go to finish my third year of probationary status as a teacher. Ten days. If I didn't teach those ten days, I could not become permanent.  Ten days at the end of a school year are the most difficult days to teach for reasons teachers know well : teens are most erratic at this time; their families angry at the school and the teacher that dared hand out failing marks; and vandalism can occur even among "good" students. The child was due at the end of April. Returning to teach for the last ten days of school in June meant that I would have to leave a small infant too soon.

I spoke with my administrators about my situation before I left for maternity leave. They told me rules were rules. I offered a compromise. What if I could return to work and bring my newborn and a nanny so I could still nurse him as necessary and not disrupt his life at such a stage? Though this meant that I needed to run to the lounge that existed in the next building over at break time and rush to nurse in the ten minutes left, they agreed it could work out.

The administrators were more than willing. They moved my classes closer to the lounge, and they provided both a rocking chair and an extra heater for that room.  A colleague with a free period before break came by ten minutes ahead of schedule to cover my class and released me to go nurse for a whole half hour!

I was able to nurse the baby every two hours and the school didn't have to get a sub at the end of the year when any change would have been most distracting to students.

It was this act that changed my viewpoint about rules and regulations. Rules are meant to enhance our quality of life not diminish it. When I became an administrator, I made sure my staff had time to attend to their own children's needs.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How old dogs learn new tricks

We do what we do the same way we did last week, last month. Heck, we can count back to last year, and last decade. Most things we do, we do because they are easy and automatic. Most of human inventions have created a world where we hardly have to do any thing besides sit on that desk, walk next door to a meeting, drive an automatic car back and forth, and at the end of the day, pick up food before heading home to finally lounge on that couch that supports our weary backs,  and enjoy the 100+ channel television with a remote control that can automatically switch to a pre-determined program.

We skipped breakfast, ran off to work or play and by noon we'd be ready for a lovely lunch at our favorite restaurant with a glass of beer or wine, a slice of cake, and enough calories to last us for the next twenty four hours. In a stupor, we craved afternoon naps and long rest breaks, too tired for anything else the rest of the day. We managed to stay awake with coffees and energy drinks, and since we all had long work days and work weeks, we accepted that we had to make time to go to the gym as well after our work days.

If the family never saw us, it was not our fault!

In my family, our evening meal, if it was cooked at home, occurred late.  Until the children were able to start a roast or reheat a casserole,  they all relied on me to get  the big pot to boil water for a pasta meal. Satiated, we'd watch television until we fell asleep; or until one of the children needed help with homework.


We lived like this for decades.

Only after we retired, and  after some serious health scares, new habits had to be incorporated, spoiling all the routines we had cultivated for decades.

Now, we don't leave the house without water and snacks, and identified places where we can exercise and sit down for a healthy lunch.

Usually, as soon as we wake, early most days, we  eat a balanced breakfast, whether we are hungry or not. An hour or so after that, we're off and running, physical movements prevailing, long walks, chores like gardening or cleaning, and driving off to doctors and pharmacies.  When we do go out for lunch, we share an entree, and each gets a salad. Sharing had never been part of our earlier routines. At dinner, I don't have to use my big pot to boil anything. Vegetables can be steamed or stir fried easily in a smaller pan, and fish or chicken is grilled quickly on the side. Noodles, pasta and pizza, our favorite stand-byes, are now almost dessert. They appear on special occasions.


We are conscious of our physical needs all the time; we park as far away from a place as possible, and walk the rest of the way. We do our house maintenance just because we need to use certain muscles. We even bought shoes with laces so that bending and lacing up keeps us limber longer. We store stuff in the big garage freezer that requires a conscious effort and consciousness before we choose to eat up the house.

We used to rest after our meals in the past. Now, we try to stay active, cleaning up, folding laundry, watering plants, sweeping the deck, or taking a short walk around the neighborhood. Smaller meals do not make us drowsy; and moving about after small meals is easier than after big meals.

Our refrigerator is full of vegetables, fruit and dairy.
Our pantry has nuts, beans, grains, oils and spices.

Of all habits, feeding ourselves, and moving consciously have improved our lives the most.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Free to define this Living

Writers and Artists Exchange-Port Orford, Or. 2013


For decades, on freeways and byways, driving miles and hours to and from work in the early and late hours of the day, I could only concentrate on two things, the road and the immediate problem facing me at the end of the trip.

Sometimes, the time that it took for me to drive, that distance, physical and emotional, between my problems and the rest of my life though long in miles and time, was enough to help me see that the bigger question was never asked; and the bigger decisions were never in my in-basket. I could only think of the most pressing tasks ahead, while the bigger things in life were deferred, day after day, months after months, decades after decades.

The bigger things in life moved at their own pace.

How and when did I define my life?
Did I contribute much to the direction my life took?
When did I have an opportunity to be bold and unafraid and state what was most important in my life?

By my count, five times stand as markers:
1. When I came to America
2. When I moved out to live on my own.
3.When I got married.
4.When we decided to quit our jobs and pursue higher education.
5. When we retired.


What do I wish I had done consciously during all those years of work?

1. Take sabbaticals.  I could have planned three to six months travel studies in all the major parts of the world. Our lives would have been enriched immensely.

2. Take more vacations.

3. Write

4. Learn to play an instrument

5. Pursue hobbies and other activities on my own, not just what my family needed from me.


How about you? Were you free and conscious of your decisions?




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nico and Me

 Nico and me

Oh, I know what this means to you, a bragging grandmother talking about her grandchild! No, this post is not about his alertness and cuteness, his wonderful smell, his smiles, his singing along...
It is not even on the way he recognizes me after an absence....

What I will  tell you is how my grandchild Nico has invaded my life, and my dreams, and everything I do. Just walking through Barnes and Noble, I scour shelves for books he may not already have, toys he can begin to appreciate, mobiles he can engage with.

....I will not tell you how as I walk and sing to him, he sings back; his head moves toward me to see my lips; his legs push up and down in rhythm with the beat of the song....

I will tell you how I move differently when I cuddle and rock him; how I stand firmer and taller because I want to make sure he's well supported; how I sing made-up words about what life is like the minute we're together; how we burp after a meal; how happy we are to recognize each other; how we dream long dreams about each other; how strong our legs are; how everyone around us, new or old discusses and appreciates every little change they see.

Nico does not know this now: His smile are just the vitamins I need to live two more decades; to see him through kindergarten; to see him through high school. He'll tell his girlfriend, as they walk down to pick up their diploma:
"That lady there who can't stop smiling at me, she is ninety years young!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Am I blending in?


Water is the ultimate medium.
It has power to soothe, to destroy, to awe.
This is Elk Creek Fall behind me, a short walk from a county road by Powers, Oregon, the reward after an hour drive up a winding road.
Here, I'm congruent with each step I take, each breath I inhale, muscle aches reining my enthusiasm.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When do you know it's time?

I've been aware of certain signs, the currents and moods
of each circumstance that separates me from the mainstream of life.
It started a few years ago, after my son died, when I began to have trouble clearing my
thoughts enough to stay on topic.

I thought that was a good time to quit.

I started another blog; and yet another. But, I stopped writing my personal pieces.
I joined a new organization and waited to see if my life turned around, if my own circumstances
were ready for a change. Daily, thoughts of quitting bubbled up at inopportune times, as right at this moment when instead of taking a photo of the beautiful walking path in Eugene by the Willamette River, I took a selfie.  Disgusted with my lack of abilities, I turned off the camera and buried it in my pocket.

I used to love taking pictures and talking about my world.
I used to love writing about everything.

How do we know when to move on?