Friday, March 13, 2015

March 11, 2015 - 4 years post Tsunami

Two years ago, I posted about the recovery efforts in out harbor on the second anniversary of the Tsunami that first attacked Japan and then destroyed our harbor and left one person dead here after being swept out to sea, and another dead just North of here in the Brookings, Oregon Harbor from a heart attack as the Tsunami swirled into the harbor there.
adding the signage to tell people the harbor has more than crab boats here
Watching the slow but steady improvement from crushed boats and crumbled docks to a functional, and prettier harbor than we had before has been fascinating to me, and I hope you enjoy these photographs as well.
now when the water rises, so will the docks


a picture from the information signs here now

and just after 

from 1930 when there was only a bay and a couple piers

from the viewing deck this year

just south of the harbor

and that lighthouse has withstood not only this Tsunami and the Monster of March 28, 1964 but the thirty or more small ones that come through unremarked 

last spring when the Tall Ships passed through

a couple years ago, after dredging the boat basin

the big equipment we've had in and out saved the harbor

Spring 2013

much more work needed done a couple years ago

and now it is beautiful to see how far they have come and not only have the people and boats returned but so have the Pelicans and loons, seals and Sea Lions

Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding the Universal in the small private details

     This weekend, I got to participate in the 20th annual South Coast Writer's Conference in Gold Beach, Oregon.  It was the Friday and Saturday of Valentine's Day and had a reoccurring theme that you have to go back, and dig deep in your roots before you find your own unique voice. I think it is true that everything you write eventually points the way back to who you are.  Even when I published my first fantasy novel, I kept hearing old friends and my Mother tell me, "I keep meeting you on every page."  And I had thought that, Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog,

was not my story at all - but it turned out to be almost autobiographical.  Not that I am a 9 year old boy with Cerebral Palsy who survives a school shooting because the shooter doesn't want to put him out of his misery, but yeah, I'm on every page nevertheless.

Gold Beach is only 50 miles north of my home, on a long stretch of sea cliff Hwy. 101 where all the towns are 25 miles apart.  Just far enough away to feel like a bit of an escape and close enough to feel like home.

for pictures and my other, more writerly based blog

     Back in 1984 when my husband and I moved to Ashland, Oregon we discovered this beauty of a sea coast town and a small motel with cabins on the beach where we came as newlyweds.  I made reservations tree, but my husband of 30 years, flew to Spokane, WA with his All Northwest Honor Choir Students for a Valentine's Day Festival.  That too is kind of tradition, the first date we had was a month beforeValentine's Day and that Valentine's he was out of town at a Jr. College Speech Tournament.  Funny thing (When he transferred from a Wyoming, Jr. College, to Southern Oregon, they gave him Biology credit for that Forensics Class.)

Twice I have posted about Ireland's on this Blog


     So anyway, this time I went alone to this lovely gem of a motel, on a Beach with NO MOSQUITOES on a Valentine's Weekend with 78* weather and gorgeous sunsets and a hot tub deck with 3 hot tubs I had all to myself on the beach surrounded by coastal pines and beach grass.

Then I got to participate in one of the best writer's workshops and it all cycled back to Ireland's again.

In a workshop by Mark Bennion, titled "Close Observation and Resonant Sources" I found a solution to those deadly sessions of Writer's Block and it is simple and worked for me.  He was the only instructor who started out by shaking everyone's hand and making eye contact and stating their name, and he repeatedly stated that in the tiniest local detail can be found the Universal truths that we can all resonate with.  He said, we have to become immune to wonder in order to function, so that eating a banana for the first time is nothing like eating a banana for the thousandth time, but if we want our writing to matter and connect on the universal level than we need to dig down deep in our personal past.

So the first thing that he had us do was make a long list of the things that make us smile, and everyone scribbled away for a few minutes.  Then three more times we had to pick one thing from that list and make a list of everything that one thing meant to us.  By the time we were on the 4th list everyone had more memories and stories flowing through that room than we could have shared in a lifetime, and they did all come back at the core, to things that we could all relate too universally.

His final item was a small red jacket.  A simple, easily forgotten item of childhood clothing, until he wrote a poem explaining in detail how this particular jacket was the one his younger brother played in, lived in, and was buried in.

My lists started with people and places I've loved and narrowed to Ireland's pay phone where I took the call telling us when we could come pick up my newly adopted baby boy who had only just been born, and where I stood and told my Dad about my healthy second son, a year later on the day we got him out of the Newborn intensive care unit a month before my Dad planned to visit.  It was also where I was the night my Mom tracked me down to tell me my Dad had lost the battle with esophageal cancer.  So I started writing, inspired again, and that small act quickly took me back into the novel I've been stuck on.  Nice to find a tool for getting unstuck.  Just start by remembering what makes you smile, then you will find all the things that make you feel, that make you human.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January is Almost Gone

Once upon a long time ago, I tried to keep a few simple New Year's Resolutions and I wrote them down. Then when I found my lists a decade later I realized the goals were always the same, and never successful.  Then I found an interesting article in one of my Mom's Good Housekeeping magazines while I was visiting back home in Wyoming.  The article said we were not unhappy because of the big issues in our life but because we ignored the little issues, and that ignoring those things took more energy than dealing with them.  It challenged us to find 100 annoyances that we just tolerated and list them.  It was easy that year, I went through my home, mentally and listed things like the pile where the mail accumulated, the broken light switch, the way the coffee pot timer didn't work, and then mentally moved to the cat, the stuck latch on my old red van, the cracked windshield, tun to the yard, and to my relationships.  Listing the 100 tiny details made me see that the cumulative effect was huge.
Angel and I just before she moved away
So over the year, we dealt with a lot of the issues, tore out old carpet, broke up and hauled away a dysfunctional hot tub, moved and cleaned in small steps and come net New Years, it was fun to put a star by each issue, some a decade old, that was no longer an issue.  That year I couldn't even think of 100 things but the new list had 60, and some were carry overs but that was OK.
The wood shed gets emptier 
Now, I still have the same goals I had then, be healthier, be less in debt, spend more time with family.  But I am so much happier and healthier mentally and even though I'm still overweight, I'm less so, and more active and have more friends.
old split rail fence along the Oregon Pioneer trail here
This month, I looked at those old lists and realized I've gotten out of the habit, as it became less necessary, but I tried again.  I realized I have learned, it does take a ton of energy to avoid the small jobs and the relief I feel when I have handled it is great, so I don't tolerate a 100 things anymore.  I'm still bad about putting off uncomfortable phone calls.  I still don't force myself to write my own books on days the words don't come easy, but I am happy.  When it doesn't snow I make artificial snow with my students and paint scenes of penguins.
We have no snow so I made fake snow with my class

posing some figurines in the artificial snow

No Snow, but the April flowers are blooming

hanging our penguin paintings

Sunrise happens just as I have to leave for work

My granddaughter and I

again, no snow but we improvise

The road home
When I am feeling low energy, I get up and tackle one of the things I've been procrastinating on.  It gives me enough energy to smile and say, I can work on something for ten minutes and stop whining about it for the rest of the year.  My house is still old, but we are comfortable here, and I am inviting friends and family in, even a book club of women with beautiful homes.  I might have to wipe down the folding chairs, but I can put some January Daffodils on the table and good food out to share.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas 2014: 30th Anniversary and Becoming Grandparents

Merry Christmas and A Happy 2015 From Dixie and Greg

Greg and I can't count all the blessings and all the love and all the changes and sorrows and joys that we have shared since we got married but we both agree that we never suspected that 30 years could pass so quickly.  Yet, here we are - no longer 1984, and no longer thin or flamingly red-headed, or young.  Still thirty years with the only person who knows me at both my best and worst and still is willing to stick around for another 30 if we get so lucky.  It is possible, after all, my in-laws just celebrated their 64th anniversary this summer.

So after 30 years together, we find ourselves firmly in the "sandwich Generation" as it has been named to describe those years when you are one of the Generation who still has health and strength and has established some stability, and is sandwiched between kids and grandchildren who still need some help - and aging parents who can no longer be your strength but now need you to be there for them.  It is a time when you are acutely aware of the passage of time and the fact that you are still lucky enough to have this much family, but also coldly aware that it can't last much longer.  You want to spend every moment enjoying being needed and wanted but every time you are one place you feel guilty for not being in at least three other places at the same time. 

      Speaking of being in not enough places at a time, My Brother Brett is amazing at being there for Mom and Lance. Lance still lives with Brett in Virginia and was delighted at the flood of birthday cards that he got, but he is also old enough to remember both Grandma Grace and Dad as they got sicker and died. So he understands illness enough to be very worried that Mom might die.
Mom became more and more confused and paranoid, and she couldn't do the basics of taking care of herself anymore. Then she ended up in the hospital, and from there into a nursing home that she hated and was afraid of.  Since then Brett found her another place, still not far from Brett and Lance, where she is comfortable enough that she has relaxed and calls it home. However she did fall and fracture her vertebrae and need 4 staples in the back of her head.  The first nursing home had her overmedicated and she is doing a lot better with her blood pressure and diabetes better monitored that she was getting.  Dementia is a cruel disease and it is nice to hear her being more happy than she has sounded in months.  She even went to Brett's for Thanksgiving and then said of her room at the manor, "It was good to get home."
Mom and Lance at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian

For those of you who remember the many Christmas cards and letters she has always sent, her new address is at

Priscilla Miller
Greenfield Of Berryville
413 McCellen Street
Berryville, VA 22611
Phone (540) 955-4557 (Not her room but the manor number)

Lance after receiving his birthday cards

His address is Lance Miller
PO Box 865
Middleburg, VA 20118

Thanks to everyone who took the time and money to make him smile like that.

So what else happened in 2014?

I got a couple long term teaching jobs at the school where I taught full time for 10 years, and Emerson is working there now too, so I have seen him a lot more.  And Emerson and Lula made us Grandparents on April 28th when Lula gave birth to Daisy Grace Goode

Greg and I have done a bit of traveling together without the boys for the first time really since we became parents.  This summer we went back to Wyoming and visited our Goode family relatives including Greg's parents and one brother, and both surviving sisters.  We also visited a couple nephews and Aunt Melissa and Rose.  It was low key and fun mainly.  We let our easy going way dictate the pace, and read Harry potter novels to each other while we drove, we went to see the sights like the Rocks at Vedauwoo and then visited Fort Laramie in a downpour and that seemed strange since out temperate rainforest home is in a drought.  But I had never been there, even though I wrote about it based on research in my Oregon Trail Novel.  We went to the Black Hills Playhouse (where Greg and I worked that long ago summer we were married) with my Father-in-law and had a couple picnics in the gazebo at my mother-in-laws nursing home.
We went Camping with friends up by Oregon Caves,  and we went to see "Into The Woods" at the Shakespeare Festival.

    In one week in August we had three friends die here in Crescent City, one our next door neighbor for the last 18 years, and one a fellow music teacher with Greg and a very dear friend since we moved here 25 years ago.  They were all older friends, more our parents generation than ours, but they were good friends and our world is emptier without them.

     I managed to publish two picture books for kids. One, Rainbows around Us, is a book about colors using my photographs and the other, Moonrise, is a lullaby I used to sing to the boys 20 years ago, along with finger paintings I did on the table top and lifted as prints.  So now you can google Dixie Miller Goode and find five of my books on-line or available for your local bookstore to order.

    Greg has changed back to straight vocal music instead of doing just high school band and choir, he does 5th grade through high school Choir this year, and as Christmas gets closer he has an incredible number of performances scheduled, but he ended up with a record number of his students being selected via blind audition to go to the All Northwest USA choir festival, as in RECORD (Triple the  number he has ever had before)

    Austin and his girlfriend Tricia are around quite a bit and are always working. They have kept us in firewood while also helping her family while Austin is driving for GH Outreach.  He drives handicapped adults to work and helps supervise them on the job sites. They pick up recycling and do yrs wok and he seems to really enjoy the work.  I kind of blame Lance for the fact that I have so many years teaching Special needs kids and now both of my sons work with people with handicaps.  Once you have known Lance, you realize that people need to be given a chance to be their own best self.

     Anyway, life is still LIFE, busy, happy, sad, crazy, wonderful and exhausting. It looks like we will make it to 2015 with a smile and a prayer that you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy 2015.

Much Love,

Dixie and Greg
Flat Stanley Came to visit

4th of July here at the Crescent City Display

I was finally sailing on a tall ship with my fifth grade class when Lula texted me, "My Water just broke" 

The Lady Washington

Dad, Grandpa and Daisy

Camping with family 

exploring only 4 miles from my house

Austin and Tricia

Family in Laramie, Greg's Sister Wendy and John, and their two boys 

Me, at Fort Laramie

Mother and Son

Harvey (My FIL) front and center

At Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The two picture books I published this year

Which makes 5 books published and more on the way

My Beautiful Angel

Emerson, Daisy and Lula on Halloween
Could you guess?

Being Grandma

Greg with Gasp 52 candles!

Singing Happy Birthday

Uncle Austin and Daisy

The Christmas lights getting turned on at Ashland Oregon

Dixie, Marc and Thomas

Already getting ready to run

What December looks like here.