Saturday, July 31, 2010

Unexpected Gold Beach

When traveling the coast of Oregon, you might expect to see a dramatic, rocky shoreline, winding stretches of highway, long agate scattered beaches, lush forests, redwoods, wildlife, fog, lighthouses, sunshine, roadside attractions that include life size dinosaurs, and drowsy little towns filled with tourist-luring shops and restaurants. We did see all that. And certainly it was as Oregon Coasty as could be. Charming, relaxing, perfectly lovely, and not particularly interesting to write about.

To me, the thing that makes travel interesting is the stopping and looking and finding things that aren't in the guide books. It's talking to locals and asking them what they like about their town. A favorite question is, What's the one thing we should do while we're here? Going by one young barista's answer, "Go hiking up the nearby rivers, to where it's hot and sunny", the best thing to do in Gold Beach is to leave Gold Beach. Sometimes you have to ask several people. Sometimes you have to just step out and follow your nose. 

We stayed at a favorite little motel/trailer park/RV park called the Rogue Pacific Motel, where a cozy little two room cottage with a terrific ocean view is only $85 a night. There are less expensive rooms, which have mini kitchens, but no view. The woman at the Visitor's Center called it the "best kept secret" in Gold Beach. I think she was right, and we love it, but I also think a lot of people would hate the place.

And the reason is, it also looks like this...

And this is part of what I love about the motel. It's situated right next to the Curry County Fairgrounds, and we just happened to arrive on opening day of the fair. A small town county fair is pretty much the same everywhere in the US, but this shot, taken from the front door of our little cottage, is the one that really jumps out and grabs my attention. Click on the picture. Make it bigger. Peek in the windows. Snoop around the yard. Consider the stories #312 has to tell. The ferris wheel tiara gives her back some of the glamour she must have had back in her early days as a shining new trailer house, just settling into her place by the sea. She was a beauty queen, I'm quite sure, and in many ways, still is.

There are treasures to be found in travel, whether we wander far and wide, or just to the other side of our own home towns. Ask the questions. Keep your eyes open. Snap pictures. Watch for the unexpected.

~~~~~~~~~

Want more pictures? To keep the clutter down here, I like to post them on Facebook. Feel free to have a look at the Oregon Coast album.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beach Life

Rick and I are in Gold Beach, on the coast of Oregon. He had 3 days off this week, and couldn't bear the thought of staying in the campground, so here we are. Believe it or not, he actually had to beg me to make this trip. I love the ocean, but I was so tired from my trip to San Jose, I just couldn't get excited about packing my stuff again and getting in the truck for another long drive. I'm so glad I can't say no to my sweetie. He said he needed some beach time, but what he probably knew was I needed it too. I feel more alive here, in this lovely, breezy coolness. The sun comes out every day after a foggy morning, and we spend most of our time walking the dogs on the beach. OK. Sure, I should be working, but come on... why would I want to do that when I can do this instead?
We took a little drive north this morning, as far a Cape Blanco, which is the farthest western point in Oregon. I don't know if it's beautiful or not. We saw a lot of fog, and the wind was freezing. I had to wonder how it might be there in January if it was so wintery in July. The Cape's other claim to fame is its lighthouse. It's one of the oldest in the country, truly beautiful, and still in operation. We took the tour, climbed the tower, and saw the very splendid Fresnel lens, an irreplaceable glass wonder made in Paris.
Another highlight of the day was the big dinosaur we spotted on the way back from Cape Blanco. These  are a very popular Oregon coast roadside attraction. Somebody must have made a passel of theses dinos a few decades ago, and driven them up and down the coast, selling them to adventurous entrepreneurs who would plop them into groves of lush Oregon greenery in hopes of luring passing motorists into their "prehistoric gardens". 

Later, we hit the Curry County Fair, which just happens to be right next door to our little cottage on the beach. We saw lots of dear little animals, some fine pies and jams, a lot of glorious quilts, and some darn fine bull riding. I love that county fairs still exist, and that people still care about growing the biggest sunflower for miles around, or entering their child's self portrait in the competition for the coveted blue ribbon. I love it. I really do.
Tomorrow we have to go back to Ashland, to be available camp hosts on Friday night. They need us, and we care about our campers, so we'll be there. But not before we go back to the beach to let the dogs run in the sand again, splash our own toes in the waves again, and toss a few more beads on the beach for anyone who might wander along and spot them. It's really one of my favorite things to do, bead scattering. I did it a lot last summer at Grand Canyon, and I'm doing again here in Gold Beach. I'll bet I've planted over 100 beads on the beach this trip, and I have another bag to distribute tomorrow. This is fun for me. This is the real joy in making beads. Follow me around. You might find some. But don;t ask me to give them to you. That would be cheating. The Secret Bead Fairy needs to be at least a little bit anonymous, and the giving has to be up to me. But I find I do become a lot more generous when I've had some time on the beach. I keep wondering... why don't we live here?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Everybody Deserves Music

Imagine a world without music. No music at all. No Happy Birthday song over your cake. No radio in your car. No Pandora. No iTunes. No CDs or LPs or ancient 8 Tracks or 45s or cassettes. No Holiday Muzak in the mall. No guitars by the camp fire. No soundtracks in movies. No symphony. No opera. No rock n' roll, jazz, blues, country, gospel, rap, or reggae. No dance. No toe tapping. No whistling. No humming in the kitchen. No sweet lullabies for your babies...

Sounds awful, doesn't it? Intolerable even. Music is so much more than background noise. It bridges a place between our minds, hearts, and souls, connecting the dots between the myriad thoughts and feelings we experience in a day. We have personal soundtracks to our lives, and theme songs that express for us what we can't quite put into words. We feel music in our bodies, resonating with tones that soothe, inspire and heal. Music encourages us to be our best selves, and sometime to simply carry on. Music pulses from within us, and connects us in ways we seldom think about. Music is important.

I've known Kit Cressaty all her life, since we moved in next door to her family when she was a tiny baby. She's now a beautiful, talented, enthusiastic music teacher, who gives her all to her students. Kit knows music to be an important part of any child's education, and is about to give almost a year of her own time to go to Austria for further training. She needs our help to make this happen. I'll let Kit explain it further...



"I teach elementary school music... and I am 100% convinced that it is what I have been designed to do.  I am like a small child at Disneyland every moment I get to create music with my 1st-5th grade students.  Orff Schulwerk-- the approach to music education I am certified to teach-- is, in my opinion, the BEST way to educate students in music and movement.


The Orff Institute is located in Salzburg, Austria. Every two years, they offer a Special Course in Advanced Music and Dance Education for current , Orff Certified music teachers.  Offered to 15 educators in the World, I have been lucky enough to have been selected! You see, if Orff Schulwerk was a swimming pool, I'd be on the first step in the shallow end. There is so much more I can learn and experience.  That is why I am leaving my job and jet-setting to Austria for the 9-month program.


This is where YOU come in.  I am having an incredibly hard time convincing the US   Banks, as well as the federal government that I should qualify for a student loan.  A personal loan boasts 24% interest, which makes my stomach hurt.


So. Bottom line. I am leaning on YOU. My friends. My family. 


Go to the "HELP" page of this website and click on the "donate" button. It will take you directly to my paypal site where you can safely "send me to Austria"."


Please visit Kit's website for more information, and to donate whatever you can to help her keep music alive and well in the world. Every dollar helps. Thank you so much!

~~~~~~~~~

"Tell me, I forget, show me, I remember, involve me, I understand. "
Carl Orff 

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."
Victor Hugo

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spoiled

I stopped for breakfast in Susanville, CA yesterday, after a two hour drive from Reno, and had a sufficient bowl of oatmeal and strawberries in a small hotel restaurant where we once saw Diane Lane and Josh Brolin. (Diane ordered oatmeal that day, as I recall.) I was disappointed to sit all alone in the over-cooled corner with my tea and porridge, no celebrities in sight. I had been all set for a lively chat with Diane and Josh, but I guess that was kind of a long shot, now that I think about it.

After fueling myself, I pulled my Kia rental car into the Chevron station at the north end of town, and whipped out my credit card. The card worked, but the pump didn't, so I tried again, and then went inside for assistance. I tried paying outside, paying inside, pulling around to a different pump, and running back and forth to the consult with the Gas Guy at the register at least 7 times. Nothing worked. I was standing there with my hand on my hip and my face in a bunch, ready to give up and try another station, when Gas Guy came out through the grimy glass door, and in a moment very much like the one in "Nation Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", where Ellen finally figures out that the secret to getting a gazillion tiny Italian twinkle lights to work is to simply flip the light switch, he flipped up the handle on the pump...

Angels sang, gas flowed, and all I could say was oh-for-gawdsakes, in exactly the same tone my Granny used to use when something just floored her. To Gas Guy's credit, he was a total gentleman, and did not laugh at me or try to make me feel any more stupid than I already felt. I assured him that I had indeed pumped my own gas on many occasions, but that living in Oregon, where it's illegal, mind you, to pump your own gas, had maybe spoiled me just a little bit.

Back in the Kia, I headed for Oregon as fast as I could. Back to where I can let the nice Gas Guys pump the gas for me, so I can concern myself with more important things. I don't know what those things are really, but it's nice to free up some time and brain power in case I should come up with something.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Making Adjustments


I remember going on the train from Roaring Camp, in the Santa Cruz mountains, once when I was a kid. It's an old narrow gauge steam engine that takes you up to the top of Bear Mountain, through the redwoods and madrones and delicious smelling bay laurels. It was so long ago, Dad didn't remember it at all, but Linda and I both had faint recollections of the train, the place, the trees. After riding the train again yesterday, I wondered why I'd never taken my own kids on it. It's a lot of fun, and a really special, beautiful ride up through those big trees, to the top of the mountain. (Danny, Lauren, Julia - I'll make it up to you if I get the chance!) My Dad looked up into the branches and said, "These trees were made for hugging." If you know my Dad at all, you know that's just a wee bit out of character. That's how amazing it is up there. It will make a gruff old guy talk all soft and cuddly, even though he let Linda do the actual tree-hugging.


After the train ride, we went on over to Santa Cruz, my favorite old stomping grounds from high school, and had lunch almost on the beach. There's a great spot right next to the beach and the pier, where you can sit outside with a view of the boardwalk, beach, and pier. The prices are too high, and the food is nothing special, but to have a place to sit so close to the sand and sea and happy beach-goers was well worth the price. 




Our Dad has trouble with his knees, after a career as a sprinkler fitter, carrying heavy metal pipe on his shoulders, up and down ladders for 35 years. Walking is a painful chore for him, that's almost as painful for his daughters to watch. We've climbed mountains with that man more than once, and run around on lots of beaches with him, so it's hard to see him unable to do the things he loves, but it's also a real pleasure to be able to do something that's close, that's still out there in the world, in Nature's lap. It's a not so gentle reminder that these machines we live in can only take so much, and will only go a limited number of miles. The good news is, the juice that keeps us going doesn't have to dry up. We can choose to stay interested and connected, and shift the way we do things even when our bodies change the rules and allow us less than they once did. I'm encouraged, and for the millionth time in my life, inspired by my Dad. He's an amazing guy. Some would call him stubborn. Well that's OK. Nothing wrong with a little stubbornness if it keeps you moving through life more or less on your own terms. A few of the things I've learned from my Dad: Stay stubborn, make adjustments, appreciate the trees, eat good food, learn a few good jokes, laugh a lot. Thanks Daddy. I think you're really great. 


(All the pictures here are of my sister Linda and our Dad. Linda and I look a lot alike, but she's much smaller... I'm the Big Sister in more ways than one. Linda is the Middle Sister. Jill, the Little Sister, had to work. Phooey! It's much more fun when we're all together.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?



It's impossible to drive into San Jose without humming the old song. I sort of know the way to San Jose, but I come back so infrequently, I have a hard time now finding my way to the house I grew up in, even though my Dad still lives in it. It's weird being here. I feel uneasy, and I'm not sure who to be when I'm in this place. I sit here chatting with my sisters and my Dad, and I flop back and forth between old versions of my young self, and the grown up self who knows just what to do in the world... everywhere except here. I imagine most of us go through this. There are movies to tell us we are not alone, like "Home For The Holidays", one of my favorites, a dizzy whirl of family dynamic that rings true every time I watch it. Get a family, any family together, and it will most likely be crazy and fun and sad and odd and familiar. We watch each other grow up, and grow old. We notice who is missing, in our case, Mom, and we try to ignore it most of the time, but the shadows still trip us up in the hallway now and then. They're not gone. They're just not here.

I'm dashing this off this morning, still in my bed at my sister Jill's house, hiding in a dimly lit, early morning room. Today Linda and I will take our Dad to Felton, while Jill works, to ride the old steam train through the redwoods, something none of us has done since we were all little kids. Later we'll have lunch in Santa Cruz, something we've all done many times, and something I find particularly comforting. My job today is to get my balance. I'm safe here. I'm with people I love. Whatever my expectations are, of them, or of myself, it's a good time to drop them and just shine my little light. Every time I come back, I have to remind Old Self wander off into a corner with the shadows, and to please be quiet, so we can all be who we are now, in this strange and familiar place.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just Passing Through



These signs always make me a little uneasy. Am I supposed to stop at such a sign and wait to be granted permission to drive on? I imagine a long line of Alien Drivers sitting there in the road, scratching their heads and wondering what to do. I always pass, and I always get away with it, but I feel as if I've done something rebellious, like a cop might pop out of nowhere and give me a ticket, or at least a good stern talking-to. So far, so good. I passed a lot of these today, driving from Ashland to Reno in my dandy little Kia rental car. Another Automotive Manifestation. My beloved golf cart (dubbed The Pony), was returned to the golf cart store last week, and I went on wishing for a nice little car of my own. And what do you know? I have another one. It's only a rental, and still only temporary, but hey - it's a car. And besides, everything is temporary in this world, so I think it counts.

I do enjoy a short solo road trip now and then, and today was a dandy. Mt. Shasta was in fine form, watching me watching her for miles and miles. A mountain like that can make me feel protected, for which I'm grateful. 



I've been feeling somewhat vulnerable lately. Not really sure why, but I think it has something to do with Stuff, or more accurately, the lack of it. Sometimes I get this dumb feeling that because I don't live in a house, and have acres of personal possessions surrounding me, I'm somehow "less" than people who do have those things. Stuff can give us the illusion of security, and illusion is a lovely thing, even though there's no such thing as real security. It can all change at any moment, and sometimes, without all the padding the illusion provides, I feel like I might just spin of the world into space. Thankfully, that hasn't happened so far, and I'm also aware that I'm mistaken when I think that way. My exercises in peeling away the layers of non-necessities can be challenging. But most of the time I feel safe and protected and free. I keep running a Janis Joplin loop in my head - Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose...

This morning I hopped into My Car, and drove to Reno without unpleasant incident, and with a sense of happy adventure. Travel is what Rick and I meant to be doing, and well, we've been stalled for several months. We'll get going again soon, and a day like this tells me that moving along is what I really want to keep doing - at least until I don't want to anymore. "Do Not Pass"? I don't even know the meaning of it. I'm just passing through. We all are, aren't we?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Any Questions?

We have a New Feature here: "Ask Kim". I have a feeling you might have questions about what I do and why I do it, and I'd like to take a stab at answering some of those questions. I'm aware of the unusualness of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anyone else's. So go ahead, ask away. Ask me anything. I'll pick favorite questions now and then and use them as blog post topics. You shall remain anonymous, and I shall attempt to give you thoughtful, entertaining answers. Send your queries by email to kim@kimmiles.com. I think this will be fun.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Converted

I have something to admit to you, and I know it's going to sound nuts.
(Aren't we all used to that by now?)
I am afraid of naps.
There. I said it.
It started a few years ago, when a friend of a friend, someone I knew and liked, stayed home to take a nap while her husband and son went out to get something to eat. She was so exhausted she just didn't want to go along, and then... she died in her sleep.

It happened to another friend's wife a few years later, and yes, she had a heart condition, but it still freaked me out. I quit taking naps, fearing that if I was so tired that I couldn't keep my eyes open in the middle of the day, I was probably going to die in my sleep. Irrational? Obviously. But how do you deal logically with irrational thinking, even in a usually-rational person? I kind of think you don't bother trying.

I've been somewhat sleep-deprived for years now, between kids and menopause, and work, and the stresses of Life In General, and now camp hosting is taking a whole new toll. I try to be the Camp Mom who stays up late and shushes people after 10 PM. Ranger Rick has to be up at 5:30 to go to work, so it seems only fair that I would take on the late shift. Things are usually pretty quiet at 10:00, mostly because people who are going to drink too much and get loud are just getting started about then. There are nights like last night that will seem calm enough to take a shower, and get into my jammies, hoping to crawl into the Nest and get a little reading done before nodding off. But being Friday night and all, it's pretty naive to think I can call it a night so early. And sure enough, stepping out of the shower, and straining to hear above the AC fan, I heard the beginnings of the "WooHoos"...

Beer Pong, in my limited experience, only tends to escalate the noise level of any given group of people. The "kids" in 13 and 14 were gathered to see a friend off to a stint in the Navy, and several of them were firefighters for the forest service, who had to stay within range of their own home port. It was hard to get grumpy with them. They were doing some good things in the world. But the third time I had to go out and ask them to Please be quiet because it's after Quiet Hour and I'm really tired, I had to play the "Next time I have to come out there I'll call the Sheriff" card. I hate that. I never want to do it, but somehow, like with God and my kids and even Rick, nobody hears me until I become a raving bitch. Gah! It's so frustrating!



I got about 3 hours of sleep last night, and as a result, got very little done today. I'm not 20. I don't bounce back the way I once did. I got a little bit of computer work done, mumbled to myself a lot, made lunch for Rick, and then stuck a note on the trailer door: "Please Do Not Disturb... Siesta Time."

It worked. I slept for an hour and a half while the AC hummed along, drowning out all outside noise. The dogs slept too, and Rick worked and made a special effort to not come home for a drink of water. They have water in the office. This is a somewhat civilized place. And the best part of all... I woke up. I did not die in my sleep. The spell is broken. If I'm so tired in the middle of the day that all I can think about is sleep, well then, hello... the only appropriate response is to take a nap! I get it. I am so relieved. Refreshed, even.

It's Saturday night, the "worst" night of the week here in camp. People are still streaming in after 9:00, looking for sites and setting up in the almost-darkness. Some of them will just go to bed, like good campers. And probably someone will break out the red plastic beer cups and ping pong balls. I'm ready for them. Go ahead. Keep me up half the night. I have an eye mask that blocks out all the afternoon rays, and I'm to afraid to use it.

I'm also not afraid to call the Sheriff.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hair Wars

Let's go back to something really important today. Hair. Come on... we all obsess over it, don't we? Look at the time and money we spend on it, and the drama we go through when it just won't behave. I have thrown hair brushes at the mirror more than once. I've refused to leave the house on bad hair days. I've loved it, hated it, cut it, grown, it, braided it, twisted it, colored it, and put it in all sorts of terrible bedtime bondage, only to hear it go crrriiiinnnnng in the morning fog, and poof out like a tumbleweed. It's wild and unruly and has a life all its own, which I keep interfering with. For years all I wanted it to do was be long and straight and blonde. It mocked me by remaining frizzy and brown, no matter what length I hacked it to, and I was always amazed that other women would actually pay good money to have hair like mine. I even named my hair Loretta, for the Beatles song, "Get Back". I'm forever pushing  it out of my face, and saying, Get back, Loretta... It's been a very unhealthy relationship for a very long time.

It's only been in the last few years than I've begun to make peace with my hair. I finally learned that curls, these precious curls, are to be treated like fine fabric. Despite their rebellious appearance, they're much more delicate than straight hair, and tend to dry and frizz and break ever so easily. I learned that I should never "launder" my hair, but instead, should gently massage dirt away with buckets of conditioner, followed by more conditioner, and then a little more conditioner left in as a styling product. I trim it myself every couple of weeks. I've thrown away my brush, and no longer use a hair dryer. I just wait for it to dry on its own, which it knows how to do, all by itself. And finally, finally, after so many years of Hair Wars, I have called a truce. I didn't think it was possible, but Loretta and I are friends.

Since simplicity is the theme of my life right now, it makes sense to keep paring things down to to their essential best. So I'm taking it one step further. I think. I think I'm going to stop coloring my hair, and that's something I've proclaimed over and over again I would never do. But here I am, long before "never" has a chance to happen, tired of my hair being various unnatural shades of orange, purple, and black, and pretty sure all those chemicals I've been absorbing through my scalp can't be good for me. I'm not fooling anybody, except maybe myself. I've been slopping dye on my head for so long, I'm not at all sure what my real color is. I know there's some grey in there, but I'm going to call it "silver". It might look good. Who knows? And besides, I just really want to know what I really look like. Maybe there's something hiding on the inside that's been trying to get to the outside. Or maybe I'll just look old and tired and crappy...

I have sworn Rick to honesty at all cost. If I begin to look like a weathered old hag, he has the dangerous duty of sitting me down and telling me... Honey, it's time to talk to your friend Miss Clairol. He is Very Brave and has put up with a lot of hair silliness over the years. And long before I did, he liked my hair.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stealing Daylight


When the going gets weird, some people go to sleep. But what I need most right now is more daylight hours, so today I got up early. Really early. Before the sun was even considering making an appearance. I made tea, got dressed, and slipped out to the Bead Tent before 5:30. I felt like some kind of mutant Farm Wife, on my way out to gather up the morning's fresh eggs for breakfast, but the "eggs" were yesterday's crop of beads, pulled fresh from the oven to make way for the next batch. It was cool and quiet out there, and no one came around to ask where their campsite was or to buy firewood. I was out even before the fishermen, and that's saying something. I made beads until breakfast, which since we're vegans, was Ranger Rick's famous oatmeal instead of eggs. With lots of cinnamon, raisins, apples, and nuts, it's like dessert for breakfast, which I am a big supporter of. After Rick left for work, I walked the dogs, and then got back to the studio. I got a lot done too, shutting off the torch at noon, just as it was starting to get too hot to breathe.

I'm not sure if I'll keep doing this early riser thing. Something will have to give, like staying up past 9:00 at night. But I'm just trying to keep my balance here, and when you're stealing daylight, the only place to get it is at the front end of the chicken...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Puzzled

Just when you think things have hit the red zone on the Weird-O-Meter, steam starts coming out of all the cracks and the world goes even deeper into strangeness. I had an email from the people who rent our house this morning, telling me they are going to move. What??? I didn't see that coming at all, but maybe I should have. I won't say anything bad about them because we really like them, and they've been great tenants this past year. The sticking point for them is that they have adult daughters who need help, and they have a lot of pets. I mean a lot of pets. We knew there were several when we left Taos, but the numbers have somehow grown significantly since last July... to 19 cats and 14 dogs. I'm not kidding. And probably like you, I am slightly stunned. Maybe it's not a bad thing that all those animals will no longer be in our house, but we sure will miss having tenants who love the house and pay their rent on time.

I guess all those plans that were so up I the air yesterday have sorted themselves out to a certain degree. Thanks, God... We will have to go back to Taos in September, get the house back in order, and decide whether we want to rent it to someone else, try to sell it, or surrender to living in it again for a while. I really don't want to do that. One thing a year in a trailer has confirmed for us is that we love the way we're living now, and going back to a big house in a town we don't love sounds like such a terrible defeat. Might as well clap a rusty old ball n' chain to my ankle and send me out to move rocks.

Talking to my friend Sally the other day, we came up with a good analogy for what's happening to so many of us right now. It's like working a giant 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, but all the pieces aren't even facing up yet. So many variables. So many unknowns. I've spent today in sort of an emotional rolodex, spinning from worried to curious to freaked out to happy to annoyed to resigned. At the moment, I'm just throwing my hands in the air in surrender. There's nothing I can do but wait for the rest of the puzzle pieces to be turned over. I can turn some of them, but a lot of this is out of my control.


Since we don't need to go until sometime in September, there's time to gather information, process emotions, and make decisions - for what those are worth. They say Taos Mountain either loves you or kicks you out. I guess it wants us back for some reason. I just hope it's only a small favor that needs to be done, and not some sort of big messy job, so we can get back in our trailer and go to the beach.

Photo shamelessly, but gratefully lifted from: http://doniganmerritt.wordpress.com/

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yelling At God

I don't want to write one of those "and then, and then, and then" blogs that tells you all about every little minute of my day. Who cares! Yuck. I sure don't. So I'll just quickly say that I had a great birthday, and a great visit with Rick's family over the weekend. I'll talk about "aging" another time. I'm 53 and I have a few things to say about it, and, I don't care if you know how old I am. Right now I want to talk about yelling at God. That's what's on my mind today. I know it's treacherous territory, so before I start, I'll ask you to please try not to be offended, and don't bother scolding me. I'm not opening up a religious debate here. How absurd would that be? I'm just talking from my side of the cheese, which is whole other story, and some of you long-timers have read it. So here we go...

It's a goal of mine to make this a mostly-positive blog, but I'd be a liar of I led you to believe there are no bumps along this road to home. This morning was a particularly frustrating one. Mondays tend to be hectic and messy, and today we're short handed in the park, so I thought I was going to have to jump in and volunteer - again - for a job that the summer helpers are getting paid for... when they show up. Ranger Rick let me off the hook though, probably because I looked like I was going to cry, and was blathering on, hands flapping like a worried killdeer, about all the things I have to do that get in the way of doing the things I want to do, and how I'm not getting paid to do any of them right now. You know those days. Everything is swimming along just as sweet as a school of guppies, and then blam-o, someone drops a big old cranky catfish in the pond and everything goes straight to Chaosville.  I've been a happy guppy for weeks, but not today.

My problem is this: Most of the important things I need to do in a day have to happen before lunch, and Rick takes lunch at 11:30, meaning I have to stop what I'm doing at 11:00 to be the Food Maker. So my mornings go something like roll out of bed, slam some breakfast, walk the dogs, clean up the breakfast mess, check email, wake up the studio, and make beads for a couple of hours. Ideally I'd also write in the mornings because I'm wittier then, but it's more important to get the torch work done before it gets too hot. Once the sun moves around to the back side of the tent at about noon, it's all over. So it's beads before blog. Sigh...

Rick pushed his lunch to 12:30 to help me out, and went off to work, no doubt glad to not have to hang out with me. Relieved but still flapping, I went out to fire up the studio. It wasn't even 9:00 yet, but it was already hot outside, and hotter in the tent. I opened up the front and back walls, knowing the wind would be an issue, but I'd worry about that later. Next I had to find the heavy duty electrical cord that feeds juice to the studio, as it had wandered off to recharge the golf cart's batteries. I reclaimed my cord and got everything plugged back in the way I need it for work, but when I turned the kiln on, I got the dreaded "Err2" message on the controller. This was very bad news. It meant I was going to have to reprogram the controller, which takes some time and brain power, and I had already lost a lot of time (and brain power too I suppose) flapping and re-plugging. By now I was stomping too, and starting to sob a little bit, as I dug through the storage box looking for the paperwork that tells me how to fix the controller. I found the stack of pages, and flipped to the part I needed, and looking at all the "do this, then this, then this" instructions, and it was all too much. As the meltdown began, I wadded up the papers like I was planning to swat flies, but instead I starting hitting the studio walls and stomping and flapping ever more furiously. And this was where the yelling at God part happened. I felt like everything in my life was discouraging me from making beads. And what's a girl to do when the thing she's been doing for so long no longer feels like the Right Thing? Just stop and walk away? Maybe, but that felt too scary, so I yelled instead.

I yelled, as quietly and still forcefully as I could, so as not to disturb the campers, If you don't want me to make beads anymore, then find me something else to do for a living! It wasn't the volume so much as the intensity that qualified this as yelling. One blast, followed by a few minutes of sobbing like a big baby, and I began to calm down. I realized that tent walls don't care very much if you hit them, and that God probably doesn't care very much if you yell. I fixed the kiln, fired it up, and sat down to make some beads, which is usually a good time for thinking. The wind was bad. The heat was bad. And lizards like to wander through for a spot of shade, which makes me wonder if snakes might do the same. Interestingly, it turns out that a tent makes a better winter studio than a summer one...



So I sat there thinking about writing all this, and how I was going to explain just why I think it's OK to yell at God, and hoping to not start a big nasty ruckus in the process. I've done that a couple of times, and it really wasn't fun. The human brain, when it gets to thinking, tends to like to define and explain things, and put them in pretty frames and hang them on the wall, or even just in a drawer where they can be found later. My own personal brain's thinking - in a molten tent with dragon-breath wind and creepy little visitors - brought it to the following, which I will own as I write it, but reserve the right to re-define whenever it seems right... Things change so fast these days. Surely you've noticed...

I think God is a He/She/It that's too big and incomprehensible for just one name, or gender, or religion. And I think God is also too big for one form of communication. Some people pray softly and sweetly. Some cry and plead. Some recite ancient prayers. Some make it up as they go. Some chat matter-of-factly to Whoever Does The Listening. Praying is talking to God, and we all have our own styles, or no style at all, which is yet another option in this Free Will setup we have. When I was a kid, sitting through Catholic mass after Catholic mass with my Mom, I used to listen to the old ladies whispering their prayers as they fingered their rosaries. Pss, pss, pss, pss, pss. I had beads too, of course, and would kneel there with the smell of face powder and ancient paper and wood and bad breath, fiddling with my own little rosary, and whispering pss, pss, pss, pss, pss, right along with them. And I meant it with all my heart. Those little wordless prayers came from a place of innocence and sincerity, and I'm sure they were heard exactly how I meant them. 

My habit of yelling at God started some years back when I just didn't feel that I was getting through. There's so much competition to be heard these days. Talking to God felt like talking to my kids, or my dogs, or even Rick, who reminded me at lunch today that he, like the kids and dogs, sometimes doesn't really hear me unless I yell at him. I don't know why that is, but it is. It's like I'm invisible, or at least inaudible, until I say, Hey! Listen up, buster! I got somethin' to say!

Deep breath... 

I feel better now. I think I was heard. I think God is taking me more seriously now. I'm perfectly willing to be the hands and eyes and ears and everything-else that helps our Creator to experience Creation in this physical world, but I can't see any reason to cause myself struggle and frustration in the process. I keep hitting wall after wall with the bead thing, and after almost 14 years of doing this particular job, I'm really rather tired. I'm beginning to think I'm being sent a Divine Message - Time for something new, Kim. Are you ready? 

Maybe I'm slow to get the messages that are sent to me. Maybe God feels the need to yell at me, in the form of slow sales, and wind, and heat, and a general feeling of banging my head against the wall. Maybe I'm the one who's not listening... And maybe we're speaking the same language now, God and me. Maybe I can go back to a simple pss, pss, pss, and know I'll be heard. But just in case, my answer to that last question is, YES! I'M READY! JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO NEXT! 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Oregon Shakespeare Festival



Not only is it my Birth Month, it's my Birth Week, which means it's high time we started the festivities. A few days ago we got the chance to buy half price tickets to see "Merchant Of Venice" at OSF, and that was just too good to pass up. The play last night was great, and the theater itself is so much fun. It's like a trip back in time to Shakespeare's England, with it's tudor styling and open air magic. You can feel the breeze as birds swoop by the balcony, and hear the occasional dog barking outside the theater in Lithia Park, where dogs are not allowed.

I snapped this picture illegally, it would seem, just as the friendly announcer reminded us all to turn off our cell phones (duh), and that photography and text messaging were strictly prohibited. I quickly texted the pilfered picture to Lauren, just because I'm feeling rebellious this week.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I do not feel old, although I'm well aware that I'm no longer young. We can talk about that later. Today I've cleaned my house, sprayed lavender water all around, and think I'll go play on the kayak this afternoon. Birthday Eve is like Christmas Eve. It's an important part of the holiday! Celebrate with me if you like. Campground Cocktails at 5:00!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sharpie Love

I have a Camp Host Tip to share that might apply to some of you who are not camp hosts. I'm very excited about this, as I stumbled across it all by my little self. When we started here, there was very little guidance, and the advice we did get from other hosts was mixed and conflicting. If someone's written a book on how to be a camp host, I haven't found it yet. If nobody's written it, maybe I should do it. I'm feeling pretty smart right now.

An important part of this volunteer gig is to keep the reservations straight each day, and to clip little pink Rez Cards to the campsite posts. Not exactly rocket science, but important nonetheless. The pink cards are my job, and I take them very seriously... almost as seriously as I take trash...

As our first reservations came in for the season, I was handed a printed list, a stack of pink laminated cards, and a skanky old grease pencil. Who still uses those things anyway, with all the wonderful, modern writing instruments we have access to? The grease pencil writes like a cheap broken crayon, it smears, and it's a mess to clean off the cards. I saw them using dry erase markers at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Amateurs! You breathe on that ink and it wipes right off, just like it's supposed to do. What we need here is something that stays on, and comes off, so I decided to try one of my beloved Retractable Sharpies.

The Sharpie writes beautifully on the plastic lamination, with a nice bold, dark line that's easy to see from a bit of a distance. And because I've read that it's alcohol based, I figured the "permanent" ink would come off relatively easily with rubbing alcohol. It worked OK on cards that were freshly written on, but I found out the hard way that after they've been out in the sun for a week or so, the ink gets rather stubborn. I had a fat stack of cards to clean up after the 4th of July Weekend, and was feeling discouraged and exhausted from scrubbing, when zap, a little thought popped into my head. The thought was "Nail Polish Remover".

Being a girl who enjoys her polished piggies, I happened to have a bottle of polish remover in the bathroom. I poured a little on a rag, wiped down one of the cards, and oh happy day, the Sharpie ink came off as easily as dry erase marker. Sure, it's a small thing, but you have no idea how happy this one little trick of the trade makes me. It's the small things, friends. The small things. Do try this at home.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm Becoming Such a Trashy Girl

I know better than to try to map out a day and think it will go as planned. This morning I went to the other extreme, and said to Rick and the dogs, I have no idea what I'll do today. I must have kind of winced when I said it, feeling a little guilty about not "planning" to get myself back to the studio, back to work. Ranger Rick quickly switched hats and became Holy Man Rick, and gently replied, You're doing everything just right.

I took the dogs for a walk on the dam, where the wind was blowing at freight train force, the way it did so often this past winter. The rowing club was out there, as usual, but it was too windy, even for that group of hard cores. Three of the boats were blown into the rocky side of the dam, and had to be carried out, with the help of some friendly fishermen.



The dogs and I braved it though, and as a powerful gust came up, I watched a pile of trash on the beach blow up into the air and scatter itself among the rocks. Damn! I was going to have to go back later with the golf cart to clean it up. People. Bah! I grumbled all the way back to camp, and then headed straight back out there with gloves and bags, before things could blow around much more. I got right to it, and raced around grabbing cups and newspapers, boxes and banana peels, a whole big bag of yucky stuff,  and several empty envelopes... all with the same name and address on them.

And then it came to me - one of those wonderful/awful Grinchy ideas. I decided the only right thing to do would be to return that bag of trash to its rightful owner. After lunch I'm going to box it up, enclose a nice note, and have Rick send it off to them when he goes into town to mail some beads for me. The note will say something like, "Dear _____, While enjoying the beautiful shoreline of Emigrant Lake today, I found several items which I'm sure you must have accidentally left behind. Fortunately, you also left your address for me. I'm so happy to be able to return your things to you, as I'm sure you must have been very worried about the loss of them. I also found some money fluttering amongst the papers, which I've tucked deep inside the bundle for security. I thought you might enjoy a little treasure hunt. Please enjoy. I trust that the next time you take your family for a picnic, you'll be more careful to tend to your personal belongings.

Sincerely,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Warrior Goddess of Truth, Light, and Beauty"

(I think it's best not to use my real name or return address. Maybe I'll make it returnable to the County Environmental Office, or the Sheriff. I like the idea of being an anonymous good deed doer, and there's really no need for the owners of the trash to thank me. It's all for the greater good...)

Walking in the wind this morning, I was feeling generally rattled and unsettled. I even said out loud, to the wind, I guess, I'm confused... and just then, a huge dragonfly flew straight at my face, dodging me by only an inch or so. I've been reading, in Grandmothers Counsel the World, that dragonflies signify transition. Transition... wow. OK then. Bring it on. I'm up for a good transition. Could it be that I'm being prompted by the Universe to become some sort of Rebel Vigilante Activist Earth Steward, one of Mother Earth's Warrior Goddess Attendants? The Dear Girl certainly needs some tender loving tending, and who am I to ignore the call to service, if that's indeed what's happening here? I wish I knew. Until I do, I'll be like Mary Poppins. I'll go where this crazy wind blows me, do my work, and then move on. I wonder if this job comes with an umbrella, or maybe one of those cool carpet bags. If I'm promoted, I'll want a super hero cape of some sort.

Mary Poppins (45th Anniversary Special Edition)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Made It Through The 4th

It's relatively quiet in the park today, after a crazy 4th of July weekend. I guess it was pretty much as we expected - lots of people, a full campground, big groups with kids and boats and jet skis and dogs, noisy campfires, a few over-indulgers, and a couple of Really Bad Ones we all wished would just go away. For the most part, people were well behaved and nice to have in "our" camp. I did have a run-in with one mean, terrible jerk though, that had me hiding out on my trailer for most of Saturday. No need for details. I chose to vent on Facebook, so you can read it there if you want to. I feel better now. It's behind me, and I'm OK. There are bound to be some whackos from time to time. Better get used to just letting them go.

I spent part of the 4th in town watching the parade with my friend Serena. Ashland was packed like a big ol' can of sardines. Madness, but the fun kind. Later, after the parade, the crowd spilled into Lithia Park, which was lined with booths of all sorts; food, crafts, clothes, local organizations, the usual assortment. I was so glad to not be selling beads there. Those asphalt-and-mob shows are exhausting. I did run across a jewelry maker (not a beadmaker), who called herself a "Beadest", with an "e". I don't know what that means. Maybe it's like, Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the beadest one of all?...  I guess I should have asked.


There was music in the park all afternoon, but we only stayed for a little bit of the Ashland City Band playing a medly of all-American patriotic standards. It was kind of cool, in a vintage Americana sort of way. I told Serena I felt like we were in "Witches of Eastwick", but we were missing our third witch, Mitzi, who was home with a cold. So we did not change the weather, and didn't have to deal with Jack Nicholson. What a relief. I just wasn't up for that after the day I'd had on Saturday.


These two were so beautiful, all bronzed from head to toe. All they did was pose for pictures, which was quite enough to earn them some good tips I think. I must have felt rushed, and used my technique for "blind photography"... I don't like to dig out my glasses, so I often just line up what looks like a balanced image, and push the button. Sometimes I get great shots. Sometimes I get a blue potty in the background...


In the evening, Rick and I walked out to the dam to see if we could see the fireworks. We didn't want to go to town, and kind of felt like we should be here to keep an eye on things. I guess we can say we technically "saw" the fireworks, but they were so far away, and it was so windy on the dam, we couldn't hear the Boom, or feel it in our chests, which I think is one of the best things about fireworks.


I've spent most of today picking up trash, which at first made me really cranky. Not because I had to do it. I didn't have to. I volunteered. What got to me was the amount of crap people left behind. I was almost in tears this morning, just wondering what is wrong with people. So I decided it would be my gift to the park, and to the planet, so help clean up the mess. Sort of like taking Mom to the spa for a pedicure, you know? She deserves some pampering from us. 

I realize that a lot of the litter is sort of accidental, like bottle caps and fly-away bits of paper and stuff. But what about cans and bottles and cups just dropped on the ground or thrown from car windows? And those little wrappers for juice box straws! Those are everywhere! And I'd have to say that piece for piece, there were more cigarette butts than anything else. I don't get that smoker mentality, where their particular type of trash doesn't count. Can somebody explain it to me? And don't even get me started on the dog poop issue... 

Sadly, there will always be the people who are just basically pigs. You can't do much about them, but I did get the attention of a group of them sitting around watching me with my gloves and trash bag today. I picked up a dime, and said All the money I find is mine. They perked up a bit, and the beer-for-breakfast guy, with his gut hanging over his American Flag shorts, said, Bet you find some good stuff, huh? I looked at him over my glasses, and calmly said, Oh yeah... I've found a couple of hundred dollar bills before. People get drunk and lose their money without even knowing it. It's not true. I've only found a dime so far, but I'm thinking those guys just might become interested in litter control. You never know.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thinking Small

Since we have a trailer to haul, we also have a truck to haul it. A big truck. I'll drive it when I have to, but I really don't like it. Ashland is a small town with small streets and even smaller parking lots. The truck makes me feel like a big mean dumb bubba, rumbling through town with my noisy diesel engine. People turn to look. The truck scares them, in their pleasant little mommy-cars, their Volvos and Subarus and Smart Cars. I try to smile and wave and look as friendly as possible. I want to assure them that this truck is not an extension of my personality or nature. I probably look like an old rodeo queen out there. 

I've been wishing, wishing, for a small car. Maybe even a tiny car. An electric car would be nice. I want something that better projects who I am, and also fits better in a parking space downtown. I should have been more specific in my wishing... This arrived in our driveway the other day...


I'm already becoming attached. I'm wondering if I can drive it into town. I want to decorate it and give it a name, but sadly, we only have it through the weekend, which is actually a lovely surprise, as there's a lot of running around, and checking, and organizing to do. If I had to do it all on foot, I'd be exhausted by noon. If we're lucky, the park will buy us one of these for keeps. I'm wishing, wishing really hard...

I'm also fine tuning my wish for a "real" car. Pray like a lawyer, I always say. Don't leave anything out. Include lots of clauses. And always speak in positive terms of what you do want, never what you don't want. They manifest in the same way. The Universe hears us in sweeping, literal generalities. Like the time I asked loudly for a "break", and five minutes later broke my arm. I am learning to be very specific. And judging by the golf cart, I'm getting a little better at it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

One Year On The Road

One year ago today we set out on this Big Adventure. We had sold or given away most of our possessions, and stashed the things we couldn't part with in a small metal shed behind our house in Taos, NM. We rented the house to some lovely people, and then we packed up everything [we thought] we really needed into our new-to-us 29 foot fifth wheel trailer, loaded up the dogs, said a tearful good-bye to our friends, and set out to travel for "a year or two", in search of a new home. We had been in Taos for 8 years, and we knew we didn't want to stay there forever. It's too far from our families, and we also knew we didn't want to get old there. Sounds funny, but we hope to get old someplace, and we're not young enough to think we can go on wandering forever. Or can we...?

One year later, things look entirely different than they did when we started out. Nothing is what we thought it would be. And most of it is better than we expected. We focused most of last summer along the west coast, concentrating on places we thought we actually might want to live. The plan was for me to make beads in the trailer at stops along the way, which turned out to be a bad idea. All the set-up and tear-down was too much trouble. I wasn't getting much work done, and we were spending money like we had it, which we didn't. We began to realize that we were on a wonderful, expensive, three-month vacation, and that we were going to have to make some changes.

We had planned to stop in Ashland, Oregon for the month of October, to take a closer look at a place we'd long thought about calling home. One thing led to another, and we're still here. We never intended to become camp hosts, but once that happened, Rick decided to start looking for a paying job in town. It took six months to find one, and as luck would have it, he was hired on for the summer at the park we host in, and now has the possibility of a permanent job starting in the fall. If that happens, does it mean we've moved to Ashland? I don't know. I'm still not sure this is The Place. Then again, I'm not sure any place is the place... We'll know when we know. As always, we're just waiting for further instructions.

While we wait, we do a lot of pondering, planning, and plan changing. There are things we'd change, and things we'd keep just as they are. Here's a quick assessment, for those of you who might be wanting to do something similar. First, I'd have to say, Yes! Do it! It's been enormously freeing to part with so much of the "stuff" in our lives. Simpler is better, easier, more fun. We actually love living in our tiny "house", and when it sometimes feels too small, we just go outside. Certainly summer weather is easier for living an RV life. Winter can be challenging, and an important consideration is to get an RV with a good layout for your needs, and enough space to move around a little bit. We can dance in ours, which we do, fairly often.

We fixed ours up to look like a cosy little house, removing, replacing, and remodeling almost everything that had that "RV look". Now it looks more like home than vacation, and we're comfortable in it. I'd also suggest replacing a crummy RV mattress with a really good one. We removed the queen size mattress that came with the trailer, along with the built-in night stands and overhead storage. You have to think hard about giving up storage space, but it was well worth it in this case. We were able to squeeze in our king size memory foam mattress, turning the bedroom into a bed-filled nest where we sleep like baby birds. A good sleep is so important!

I've got my beadmaking studio set up in an EZ Up tent behind the trailer now, and while it's OK, it's not ideal. These days, in a perfect world, I'd be ready to give up beadmaking as my main gig, and bump it back to hobby status. Business is slow, thanks to the economy, the explosion of new beadmakers in the US over the last few years, and the glut of crappy imported lampwork being brought in to the US. Forced to compete in a cheapened market, my best guess is it's a good time to find another way to make a living. But since whatever that is hasn't presented itself yet, I'm thinking of another way of having a studio. If we stay here this winter again, which seems likely, I'd like to get a tiny, older trailer, that I can gut and remodel as a bead studio. I'd like more protection from the wind and cold than a tent offers, and I like having a permanent space for work. As always, we'll see.

I guess if we could wave a wand and change things to suit us a bit better now, I'd vote for a small "toy hauler" motor home, so we could stretch out more when we're driving, park easier (I can't back this trailer to save my life), maybe carry along a tiny Smart Car (if it would fit inside), and pull a Studio Trailer, or set up the studio in the "garage" part of the rig, and pull a small car. Configuration possibilities are endless. And really, we're OK the way we are. Better than OK. But I'm noticing that the longer we stay in one spot, the more stuff we feel we need. We still make sure everything we buy has a place and can be moved when we go someplace else, but I imagine we'll have to get rid of some things when we leave here.

The real question is... When will we leave here? Or will we leave here? So much is up in the air right now. So much depends on Rick's job. We'd be foolish to turn down a permanent position with the county parks, but we also know we want to do more traveling. Right now, we're non-traveling travelers - more like vagrants - which feels sort of weird. If we had a good way of making a living along the road, it would be an easy decision. We'd go. But for now, it looks like we'll be here for a few years, maybe 4 or 5, maybe living in the trailer, maybe staying on as camp hosts, maybe renting a house, or selling our Taos house and buying one here... Who knows! At some point, we plan (knowing how plans are made for changing), to hit the road again, not with the intention of finding home, but for the pure adventure of getting out there and exploring. We can only "see" so much. We keep reminding ourselves that we don't have all the information, and all sorts of things could happen that we haven't begun to imagine yet. We have great trust in The Way Things Work. We know that wonderful things come from Chaos. We do our best to stay fearless and to take delight in uncertainty. And most of all, what we know after a year of looking for home, is that wherever we are, we are home, because home is a place inside of us.