Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sprinkles on The Sundae

Here I am, 2 months since my last post on either of my blogs. I could not really explain how those two months passed so quickly.  I need to apologize to the few of you who read my posts and had learned to look for it at least monthly.

 The quote in the collage above, if it is too small to read on your device, says, "you know all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the Sundae." by the late Paul Walker.
 Unfortunately, for my family, those things that matter have been difficult to keep a grip on in the last couple months.  I've been really sick. And even on my best days have been in a lot of abdominal pain. The world is beautiful, and at spring break, where I live is like paradise, but I have been in debilitating pain, with vomiting and diarrhea which has made me cancel work enough to cut my income nearly in half, and that creates more stress in Dr. Bills and income tax that don't get paid in a timely manner.
 so when I am functional, I'm always behind, and my husband, who is also in his busiest time of year as a High school music teacher with concerts and pageants and graduations and field trips, has also been sick and depressed.

 We have gotten outside locally to enjoy some of the beautiful weather, and I have added 10,000 words to the novel I am writing and we got to celebrate out Granddaughter's first Birthday, just after Her Dad moved in with us again, and has her every other night.  A joy and a heartbreak all in one.

 Life can be good, and even in the difficulties I try to remember that, but thinking positively isn't always easy or even much help at all.

 Then again, it can be more than wonderful. Still, if you are going through your own problems remember, you are not alone even when it feels like it.  Send me some positive thoughts, and I'll try to return the favor. After a nap.

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.