Friday, April 29, 2016

The self, the others, and the next election.

You are on a bike path, crossing a river, to get to another path, and another crossing, to get to work after five miles of enchanted exercise and good air. You do this daily, back and forth, impressing yourself and your family and your colleagues who prefer arriving to work with their skins unblemished. You even brag that sweating is natural, and healthy.

You can do this forever, you think, until one day you come to a dead end, a closure up ahead  you could not have anticipated, something you never read about in your local papers because you no longer read your local papers or any papers. The bike path stops abruptly, and there is no way for you to continue on your way to work.

You think, what the @?

How are you going to get to work under these conditions? Your wife and kids took the family car. You can't even call work because you are stuck in the semi-wildness that is your bike path, a wildness you and your friends fought hard to achieve by parading your bike at every council meeting for the last five years, a wildness that  lacks cell towers, or even old fashioned call booths, and that's just how you and your bike friends liked it.

You retreat, down the same path, until you get home, call work, and try to remember where to catch a bus that will take you downtown, and then transfer you to another bus that will take you closer to work. You walk to the bus stop in a bad mood. You do not know whose fault this is; and your plans to bike to work have to be reworked. You think about this all day long.

You had invested five years of your life to fight for your health, your environment, your right to say where and when services were or were not needed. You had made passionate statements at town meetings when mayor candidates talked about urban development, infrastructure, accessible services. You stood there, among people whose bottom lines were profits and urban expansion and talked about the future, about the children who will appreciate open spaces, and the ability to walk to and from school on their own, the way you did as a child.

Today though, your politics may change.

You are forced to use public transportation and suddenly you realize how substandard, clunky, old and dirty it is. Today, as your freedom is restricted, and your mood suffers, you think of how you might afford another car for the family, how you will miss the birds, and the flowing waters under that bridge and the future happiness of days spent to and from work over that enchanted bridge you have come to love.

Today, your focus has taken a sudden turn. All day long, and after dark, you think of nothing else but the need to build a more reliable, efficient public transportation system. Today, you grow up to think for a group, for those who have no choices but earn a living by hopping  on the bus and trudge through town the only way accessible to them. Today, you have left your self behind, and you are thinking of the need of the many. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

There is no place like home, no place like home, no place...

April is a cruel month, cold and wet one minute, warm and dry the next.

April also represents spring breaks when Brian would come up to Oregon and spend a few days around Easter, as he and his dog would venture out on the lake and spend hours throwing and fetching balls. This time, in 2011, the lake was full of reeds, and young Butters had a difficult time paddling back to the dock after fetching the ball Brian would toss out. At one point, on this very occasion, Brian had to intervene and pull Butters out of the lake as the reeds prevented her from finishing the run successfully.

But the lake was warmer and safer than the ocean. I worried about having Butters swim in the ocean, with its crashing waves and rip currents. Butters, though, was indomitable, even at a very young age enjoying any type of water, growing stronger and more determined with each stroke.

April is Brian's birthday, and it has come to represent his life, his energy, his curious spirit throughout the month. And since he visited us often here in Oregon, we see him around every step, every corner.

Every time we take a beach walk, we can point to a spot and reminisce.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Needs Stabilizing (Part two)

You can escape the cold, the heat, the rainy weather, even the tax man as the Panama Papers revealed this week. But, you can't escape death, old age and sickness. And Yes, they do go together, and statistically, the older you get the closer you are to getting a major disease.

I read, just this week in the New York Times, that living well, such as exercising, eating the right kinds of food in moderation, getting enough sleep, eliminating stress and abusive behaviors, doing everything the experts have taught us to do, all that will not prevent death. They will not prevent sickness and old age. Yes, some people in the mountains of Sardinia have shown remarkable capabilities for staying health through old age.

But, most of us will get sick, and eventually die.

After a major illness or casualty we hope and pray, and look around our environment,  for things to do, food to eat, changes to make to achieve that previous state we left behind when we became ill. We are hoping to achieve stabilization, a return to the normal we have been accustomed to for decades. This wish for normalization, for stabilizing, keeps us sane, keeps us relatively happy.

But what happens when what we are faced with is not stabilization, but a status we dread, a continuous imbalance that has to be accepted as the new normal?

What happens when the new normal includes pain, misery and a death sentence around the corner?

Doctors and nurses and social workers have learned a few tricks to deal with such issues. Mostly, they rely on prescribing new, expensive drugs that the patient may not be able to afford, or procedures that cause more pain and more money spent in order to give the patient more hope for achieving stabilization.

How do we plan for these stages?

How do we alleviate our fears that this meal, this reunion, this experience may be the last one?
How do we even sit down and have a conversation about our health issues and ask the question, is this procedure going to make me better so my life can return to normal?

I'm of the opinion that the bravest thing to do, as you age and become more and more infirm, is to live as though everything is just as it should be, great and rewarding. That nothing would make you happier. That you were brave and smart and conscientious in the previous decades of work and child rearing, and spousal companionship, and life was good to you.

Then, keep smiling, keep giving gifts as long as you can to as many people as you can. After all, you can't take anything with you. This will be your way of stabilizing the muddy pavement you're stuck on, the unknown you can't wish for, take, or give.

This stage of life aims at subtracting from you. 

Well, you can do additions, and multiplications. Set up a trust fund for that baby still to come; help your poor relative with purchasing that first house. At your funeral, someone will remember that you substituted in their class on the day their child was receiving an award miles away, and that teacher you substituted for was able to attend that event. That's how you stabilize a roaring ocean that aims to destroy the peace and tranquility of your neighborhood.

Stabilization is a human attribute. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Needs Stabilizing

If I were to rate our current lifestyle, as opposed to our previous lifestyle, the one we enjoyed when I turned sixtyfive and started this blog, (my husband and I are the same age, btw.), the phrase I would use is:

"Needs Stabilizing."

After a series of storms the previous winter, Lake Garrison breached, or rather, the Pacific Ocean breached the lake, and we, those of us living on the lake by the ocean were now facing the mighty Pacific. The dunes had been washed over and property owners whose houses were on lower grounds took the task of forming canals that opened up the lake so it could drain into the ocean, not the other way around. These home owners hired machinery and in the middle of night took it upon themselves to drain the lake. Yes, it drained, down to a few feet of water. We could walk around the perimeter and visit each other lakeside and know, at a glance where reeds, boulders and other landmarks were scattered about.

The project of stabilizing the lake took a few years to complete, involved many agencies, and it has worked well in maintaining the level of the lake, most winters, at a steady level. Even after this winter's series of major storms, and a few incidents of lake rising, for the most part, the engineering project worked.

On the next post I will continue to reveal how our lifestyle needs an engineering feat like the one put in place at Lake Garrison.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Day's end.

As hints of night
smudge my glasses-
signs of aging, old and new
disabilities scurry around
like ants in early fall
finding ways to stretch the day, as though seasonal changes can transform smells of early decay
by dressing themselves in gaudy colors.