Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Revolution and Resolutions

"A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear"
John Lennon

Two days from Christmas and I have been thinking about this past year, (and the one ahead), the losses, the gains, resolutions, accomplishments ...and the unfinished projects. What truly matters and what divides us, friends, countries and how it plays out overseas in the name of war, or here at home in the political drama waging over healthcare. Fearful uncertainty is prevalent and it takes a mindful attitude to live in the moment- hopeful and happy, at a time when bankruptcy is potentially a medical emergency away, or losing a job means losing your home and everything you have worked for and more. I remind myself to concentrate on what counts, and whats icing on the cake, like family and friends. I am so grateful to have the creative work I have been blessed with this year and a loving relationship of substance and support. I lost Maggie, my beloved border collie in February and then adopted another in June. Thanks to Facebook, my circle of friends has expanded, and as a result of Alzheimer's my Mother lost a little more of her mind and beautiful spirit. It is nothing short of providence to have my Brother back home taking care of her, his loving patience -challenged daily by a lack of appreciation, is simply beyond measure.

Looking ahead, instead of unrealistic resolutions I hope to start the new year with the best intentions: less stuff for starts, no more garage sales or treasure hunting the thriftshops - my cup and barn overflows. I'm embracing a 'less is more revolution'.
I reap what I sow... therefore I channel and commit to cultivate and nurture a positive attitude daily. My serenity haiku, "Don't worry be happy, The inbox will always be full, The only thing to fear is fear itself". Its the mental affairs in life that are the hardest to control and the truth is, its all we can control - unless like my Mom its totally out of your control. In her case, there is a pill to slow it down - but not one to understand it, change it or fix it - or the accompanying depression.
My desire is to end 2009 with compassion and understanding, and to look ahead to 2010 with hope and trust.
Peace on earth, goodwill to everyone.
May we all live without fear, and continually count our blessings that surround us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MO'regon and beyond...

After revisiting my trip to Myrtle Creek in 1995 in my last blog post I have thought about the random decisions that sometimes have unpredictable and life changing consequences. I still question what gave me the moxie to ask my client Annamarie that day if I could stay at their vacation home in Oregon. I do remember needing to get out of the city, road trips allowed me to be a balanced and happy urban dweller in San Francisco, and those days I was up and down the West Coast from Baja to Seattle in my little Honda hatchback. Gas was cheap back then and a trip of substance was accomplished on a shoestring.
When she said yes and added "you are welcome to take the dogs", in a New York minute I was mentally packing and planning my music for the drive. The girls were, as my friend Martina says, "outside of themselves" to be in the country. Everyday spent there that week was foggy but simply gorgeous. I had packed my watercolors to paint and the house was stocked with wood to burn and paperback books to read. I didn't want to leave, and twice extended my stay, exploring the countryside ...when I wasn't buried in a novel or hiking their land.
I had recorded a few cassette tapes for the drive, one got stuck in my car tape deck playing over and over an odd mix of Screaming Jay Hawkins on one side and Roger Miller on the other, (funny how music emotionally connects you with certain times and situations)... 'I Put a Spell on You', started one side of the tape and then 30 minutes later I'd be singing along with 'Trailer for Sale or Rent'. I clearly recall the death grip I had on my steering wheel driving Interstate 5 sandwiched between semi trucks first over Mt Sexton then the equally harrowing Siskiyou Pass. I don't think I ever listened to that tape again after returning home from that trip and getting it out of the unit.
That trip was the deciding factor for my move North.
My move to the West coast from New York was equally random. I probably should back track to my adventure hitch hiking cross country from New Orleans to Oakland and the motivating decision, but I'll save that for another post.
It was at a New York City Christmas party in the winter of 1977, and I ran into an acquaintance from college. He had been living in San Francisco and wanted to move back to New York, I had just returned from a six month trip to Europe and wanted to return to the West Coast. In spite of the fact that I had just spent three months hunting down an apartment and only moved in a short three weeks earlier, we joked about swapping apartments, and with hardly a phone conversation, two months later I was driving across country with two fantastic guys I connected with via a classified ad in the Village Voice, delivering a Stella Dora bread truck to San Diego with a fraction of my belongings packed in the back.
Phillip introduced me to a few of his friends in San Francisco before he headed back East to my apartment on the lower East side of Manhattan, and I settled into his rent controlled apartment in the Castro district, my lifestyle radically different from the one I left behind, along with all my friends and a relationship that had ended.
Supersize one door closes and another door opens ...and skip the fries.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fire and Rain

I've seen fire and I've seen rain,
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end...

The summer sunshine is of course a distant memory and the drone of icy rain rattles my windows along with the random squeal of tires skidding on the curve outside my driveway. Its a dangerous corner and when icy, cars easily underestimate the drop and bend and can go completely off the road or wind up nose first into the oak tree that once was. After two days without power except for a few brief respites, I am so grateful right now to have lights, internet, water flowing and the heater humming at my side. The temperatures have been hovering in the teens, coldest its been in eleven years.
Meanwhile, a blazing fire burns in my woodstove while I work.
My downstairs studio is a sweet space and currently unrented, it feels so cozy complete with two creatures cuddling and yes, holding hands in front of my warm and crackling' fire. I have missed the process of building a fire, the upstairs has a propane fireplace, a flick of a button activates the fake flames rippling behind some faux logs that resemble a pair of petrified steaks.
When I lived in my cute little cottage in San Francisco on top of Potrero Hill, after a few years I installed a Franklin stove. Along with my gravel driveway, ample parking, and drop dead views, it was a one of a kind rental for where it was. I lived there for thirteen years, fixing the place up from the funky shack it was when I moved in, to a place few of my friends could believe I was leaving behind for rural Oregon. Back then, I was the only one I knew in the city with a wood burning stove, and after some research, found a wood lot in South San Francisco I would drive to every month in the winter and load the back of my Honda hatchback with 20 dollars of wood.
In 1996 did the math on the rent times thirteen, and decided I could have bought a place, and so the hunt began. Up the coast of California from Bolinas to Mendocino, fueled by the roof that had started to leak in earnest and the fact that one of my aging dogs was having trouble negotiating the three stairs to the backyard.
It was the week that Bill Clinton was elected President, a rainy week spent at a clients' family house up in Myrtle Creek, Oregon that was the deciding factor.
It rained all week, and a fire burned in the woodstove, it was as good as it gets, and on the way south stopping to visit a friend I picked up a newpaper, and the rest was history. Six months later I was moving into this place where Stella could enter without steps to fall on, and I could rent the downstairs if I needed to.
Each winter I think about relocating to someplace warm and sunny and wonder if I can tough it through another Oregon winter, counting the days until Spring rolls around.
Brrrr, time to stop whining and make a fire!