Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lazy Week....

Another quiet week with little to report but yes, I am still here and still alive and well.

I'm not sure if it was the weather or what, but I just haven't had much interest in going out and exploring this week. I've been sleeping well, thank goodness, and have morphed into a rather strange sleep pattern that I've fought in the past, but which actually seems to work for me. My drowsy times are generally in the early evening -- 6pm-9pm, or thereabouts. I've fought this because it seemed counterproductive to sleeping well during the night. Lately, with little real reason to worry about having to get up in the morning -- no work! -- I've just relaxed into this and if I doze off while watching a movie, I don't fight it. Oddly enough, it revives me just a bit and then I settle in to watch another movie before getting drowsy again and actually sleeping through the night. Big stuff, for an old insomniac like me.

One would think that sleeping well would lead to more energy, but that hasn't been the case. I haven't felt tired, just -- comfortable in my peaceful pursuit of reading and watching movies. I've been a good girl, done my exercising as scheduled and puttered about a bit. But mostly -- I read.

Three wonderful books came my way. First, I finished Riverwalking by Kathleen Dean Moore. This lovely little book is a series of essays that mostly involve the writer's experiences in, fascination with and love of -- moving water. She is wonderfully, beautifully eloquent and aside from the beauty of her words, I was really moved by the beauty of herself and her family, all of whom share her water-borne adventures.

Then, on to Finding Beauty in a Broken World, by the famous environmentalist writer Terry Tempest Williams. This is her latest and I admit that I had some trouble getting into it, but in the end I am SO glad I persevered. After that initial reserve, I couldn't put it down and once again I was moved as much by her personal inner beauty and her long, happy marriage as I was by the story she told.

And then -- the unauthorized biography of Ernest & Julio Gallo, fittingly called Blood & Wine. What a story! I just finished that one today. Go out and buy some JosephFarms Cheese (Google it), produced by Joseph Gallo, the 'unknown' Gallo brother who by all appearances was robbed of his parental inheritance AND blocked from using his own name on the label for his cheese. Incredible.

In the midst of today, to take a break from the heaviness of the Gallo trials, I watched Bottle Shock, a movie that I just loved, but had never heard of. Released in 2008, it's the story of the famed 1976 Paris wine tasting that virtually made the Napa Valley world famous, when a local chardonnay and a local cabernet beat out the best of the French in Paris by French judges. I moved to the Valley in 1979 and this tasting was still a big topic of discussion. Maybe I was moved more because I know the story and the wineries, but even if you didn't, it's still a really well-done feel-good movie about the little guys winning over the big guys. And the cinematography of the Napa Valley is exquisite -- although that could just be Kitty feeling a little nostalgic for days long past.

Aside from books and a lot of movies, I also made a faux Mexican casserole, some banana bread and some yogurt this week. AND I have fought -- and lost -- with IKEA and North American Van Lines regarding my furniture delivery. IKEA is wonderful -- unfortunately the goods are being held hostage by the van lines in Portland until they have a truck coming this way. Last week I was told "Friday", then on Friday I was told "next week" and now this week I've been told "next week" once more. I am not amused.

Alas -- not exciting to write about, but pleasant enough to live. Let's hope for more interesting news next time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Lovely Surprise!

I had a truly wonderful weekend and so far, the post-holiday week is trending fairly well also. The sun is shining bright, the air is warm, life is good.

Aside from the parade and other Azalea festival events on Saturday, my best friend from Eugene decided to pay me an impromptu visit on Sunday. Nothing could have been better than that! He arrived mid-afternoon, left Monday morning, and while it wasn't a long visit, we had a great time and I am SO glad that he was here. I needed that contact -- needed to see someone dear and familiar to me. We didn't do much -- a couple of shops to visit in town for him, then lots of good food, good wine and good conversation. I hated to see him go, but more happy that he came at all. So, thank you, my friend. It was wonderful sharing my new home with you.

And speaking of my new home, it's finally beginning to actually feel like home. I expect part of that was because with a guest in the house, I finally needed to use my kitchen for some real cooking, and of course, share the results with someone I care for. I bought some tulips to brighten up the place, and was happy to find them this late in the season. Today, as you can see, they're opening up and still looking quite lovely.

I made a wonderful soup for dinner. A few weeks ago I read in the NY Times web edition about Rancho Gordo, an heirloom bean company down in Napa, and ended up ordering some. Along with the article came the recipe for Rustic Rancho Gordo 'Yellow Eye' Bean Soup. My only complaint is that when you order the beans they come in one pound packages, about 2 1/4 cups of beans, and the recipe calls for 3 cups of beans. I know -- the world has bigger issues. Still, rather than try to re-proportion the entire recipe I used it as-is but with fewer beans. It was wonderful! Anything that has 2 whole heads of garlic in it can't be all bad, really. We enjoyed it with some fresh-baked southern buttermilk cornbread and I have lots left in the refrigerator and freezer for future use. Yum.

I'm heading down to visit friends in Napa soon, and hope to get some more of those beans while I'm there. They're a bit pricey, but worth it. Besides, if they're good enough for The French Laundry (home of Thomas Keller, about the most famous chef and restaurant in the Universe), they're good enough for me. I tried the pinto beans first, and let me tell you, I've had a LOT of pinto beans in my life so I didn't really expect any surprises. I got them anyway. Who knew pinto beans could be so much better when grown and packaged like this, and sold about as quickly as they can get grown and dried. Highly recommended.

I love this bay window in my living room, especially when the sun starts streaming in early in the morning. I tried the table and chairs in the 'dining' area of the room, but it didn't work for me. This works.

I'm still awaiting a call from North American Van Lines regarding delivery of my furniture from IKEA. I can't say I'm happy with them. Last Wednesday the IKEA people checked with them and relayed to me that they had a firm delivery date for last Friday and would call to set a time. When Friday morning rolled around and I hadn't had a phone call, I called IKEA again -- and North American gave them a different story this time -- said they'd be calling me this week for delivery this week. OK, it's only Tuesday and they would have been closed yesterday, but still no phone call. My guess is that my stuff is sitting in a warehouse maybe in Grants Pass or some larger city waiting for a convenient time for them to make the trip over this way -- or a truck headed this way. I'm not a happy camper on this issue, but will continue to bug IKEA as needed. With any luck, by the end of the week I'll be able to show you new pics of the living room. I want my footstool! Everything else is less important.

Anyway -- the sun is shining and the air is warm. Life is good. Stay tuned.....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quiet Sunday

I'm feeling really pensive this afternoon. Perhaps it's the effect of the book I'm reading, which is Trespass, by Amy Irvine. I've been immersed in it for days and am nearing the end. Is it her personal struggle for inner peace and contentment that's bothering me, or is it her sad but beautifully-written tales of how the desert wilderness in her world of Southern Utah is being desecrated? Perhaps it's both. I've found some sense of connection with her personal plight, even with some of its seeds and perhaps with some of its meaning -- or is the meaning only of my personal plight as it parallels hers? Hard to tell. And, perhaps I'm simply feeling content with my day and that alone has awakened the pensive mood.

It's been a beautiful, warm and sunny day here in Brookings. Since there was no morning fog, I went on a very early walk of exploration of a state park less than a mile from here -- no need to drive, I simply walked down the road. A couple of hours later I returned home and have since spent the day puttering and reading and.... being pensive.

I miss my friends and contacts and yes, even the street people and strangers on the sidewalks of Eugene. I'm much more isolated here -- much less contact with people and I'm needing contact. I could, of course, go upstairs here in the building and no doubt find people in a community room, but so far that has not appealed. Most folks here are a good bit older than I am and not as active and I just don't feel like partaking of the necessary conversation that takes place as people first meet. I get tired of questions, of talking about myself and my past. There's a community dinner next Friday night and unless I get a better offer, I'll probably go to that with my neighbor the artist, who has made the offer.

Lots I want to do this coming week -- check out the local Azalea Park to see if the Azaleas are in full bloom for next weekend's festival; follow a path off the highway in search of a particular beach; and drive back north to Pistol River to walk that extraordinarily beautiful beach and check out the little village of the same name. I also am beginning to itch to ride my bike -- take off on a short trip up the highway to see how strong my biking legs are after a winter hiatus. Busy, Busy, Busy. But -- those are all solitary activities and I think I need to find something less solitary -- perhaps check out the local animal shelter to volunteer. That's been in the back of my mind since I first came down to check the town out, and I need to check it out. My furniture should also be arriving this week, although I don't yet know what date. More Busy, Busy, Busy.

My legs and ankles feel the barefoot walk in the sand -- which is a good thing. More muscles being awakened and used and strengthened.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What to do?

This retirement gig isn't as easy as I thought it would be. Sure, if I'd stayed in Eugene where all was familiar and the only thing that changed was that I didn't have to work, it would have been a piece of cake. But combine that with a move where everything is new and unfamiliar and home doesn't feel like home yet and it's another story.

This is the first day I haven't had a bunch of stuff to do and while on the surface that sounds wonderful, I'm also not quite sure what to do with myself. My mind isn't settled down enough to while away the hours by reading yet. I don't have the energy today to go out and walk or explore. Nothing new I need (or can afford) to order for the house. I can only spend so much time at this computer. Mostly, today I feel like sleeping, although my mind is a bit too restless to allow that. I think I'll walk down the block to watch the ocean. That should cure all ills and remind me why I'm here.


NOW I remember why I'm here. And I think it's time to take a short journey and spend part of a day on a beach, rather than just looking down at one. By the way -- I learned today that the island in the distance is Bird Island, which is the largest island off the coast of Oregon and is breeding ground for many sea birds, inclucing the tufted puffin. Cool.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Here at last!

This is the view from my bedroom, and also from the living room, minus the deck. As soon as I have the energy (!!) I'm going to fill those holes on the railing with pots of petunias, so I can have that sweet smell wafting into the house.

Yes, as you can see it is a picture-perfect day here in Brookings! Warm and sunny and utterly delightful. Yesterday was the same. Windows open, door to the patio open, birds singing, the occasional raucous seagull. Lovely!

The move went off without incident and I have almost everything unpacked and my car filled with flattened boxes for recycling. "Almost everything" may be an overstatement, but still, there really isn't much left. Most of it will go on the bookshelves and I'm almost ready to do that. Had to figure out how to layout the room, then get the phone/internet setup. Thank goodness for the laptop! I could not possibly have put this desktop together yesterday -- too brain dead. Almost too brain dead this morning, but it's working, and so is the stereo so all is well.

I am SO glad to be here! My heart started singing yesterday when I first began following the Smith River (I cut south into California for speed purposes), and kept singing for miles and miles as the road followed that beautiful green river that has much more water than a few weeks ago. Then a few redwoods, and then a few minutes later the distant blue of the Pacific. This really is where I need to be -- if I had any doubts, they are long gone. I met a couple of men leaving the building this morning with hiking sticks and asked about beach access. There is none here, but they told me how to find a lovely overlook down at the end of the street, and that will be good enough for an evening or morning walk when I need to clear my head. Like right now!

There is still so much to do here -- and yet, the body needs to rest a bit, if I can force the mind to allow that. The kitchen is wonderful! So large, so many cabinets and so much storage space everywhere. Much, much more than the apartment in Eugene. Cabinets are fitted out with glide-out drawers and a swing-out corner shelf. But again, the dishwasher door won't open all the way unless the refrigerator door is open, so it has its quirks.

I'll post more photos of the apartment once I get the boxes cleared out. For now, adios.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The First Day of the Rest of My Life.....

It really hasn't sunk in yet, totally. Still, there have been moments this morning when I reminded myself that the time didn't matter, that when and what I ate for breakfast didn't matter, and that I am free to do whatever I wish today. Each of those thoughts brought a smile to my face and I must say, it feels really good.

My bosses and coworkers gave me a lovely parting party yesterday. Piles of pizza, lots of good wishes. My boss (ex-boss!) is one of those people who has a rather phenomenal knack of choosing gifts that really fit the recipient, with lots of imagination used in the process. I am not one of those people, so I really appreciate her talent. Sometimes, it's a little scary to think how well she knows me. For example, this card is so appropriate -- she said it reminded her of my long ago bicycle trip through the Colorado Rockies. Perfect.

And then there was this lovely surprise gift, for taking to the beach, she said. A perfect self contained thermal wine carrier (including wine!) for two with an over-the-shoulder carrying strap. This is something I've always thought would be terrific to have -- for the beach or????? Now I just need a willing partner in crime to make good use of it. Any volunteers?

And then there was a fabulous and beautiful chocolate cake -- chocolate inside and outside with a bit of raspberry jelly and wonderful spring flowers cascading down the side. I think my penchant for chocolate is well-known, but how did she know that one of my very favorite combinations is chocolate with raspberries? No way!

So thank you, all of you. You know who you are. I'll miss you, but please understand when I say I'm really, really happy not to have to go to work today!

So, onward. Lots of errands today and not many days left to get everything done that needs to be done, but all will be well.