Friday, January 22, 2010

It Wasn't Supposed to Be This Way

No, this is not about the house in Georgia.  Still no word on that and none expected until at least the middle of next week.

It's about what we want to do when we grow up, when we are already pushing 70.  Laugh if you want, but I am not alone in this. A Harvard professor wrote a book on the subject last year and my buddy in Eugene feels the same.  On the other hand, I live in a complex where I'm the youngest resident and, I think, the only one who has this sense of restlessness, this sense of needing more.  Two of them, both men, have strong outside activities: one is a photographer who started a popular and successful local photo club when he arrived here the same time I did; the other is a golfer who, in the summer, works at the local golf course.  Both are happy and fulfilled in their retirement.  The rest seem content to sit before their TV sets, or go for an occasional walk.  Granted, most of them don't enjoy the degree of good health with which I am blessed and that seems to make the difference with my personal group and the subjects of the book.

My friend in Eugene has what even he agrees is a good life -- a good consulting business where he works as little or as much as he wishes, good health, long-standing membership in a local private health club where he plays handball with old friends three times per week and works out the other days. Opportunities to travel to the coast and the mountains and other places where he has clients or just for a weekend. Still, it's not fulfilling, and that's what my complaint is too.  I am simply not fulfilled, and even if I had a TV I wouldn't sit and watch it all day.  I'm afraid that would be even more frustrating than the status quo.  Neither of us seems able to come up with an answer.  What would fulfill us? Or, better yet, what would fulfill us that is actually within the reach of possibility?  The subjects of the book were all highly successful people without constrictions of money or anything else, when they reached for their own fulfilling retirements.  We don't have that option.

Both of us want a garden, want to get our hands in dirt, create something in the outdoors.  With any luck, I'll have that soon and I expect that to go a long way towards fulfillment.  He, unfortunately, doesn't have that option because of high housing costs on the west coast and he's not willing to leave Eugene to find it.  If my house deal falls apart, I won't have it, either.

That's part of the question in yesterday's post.  Then what?  I need more money, and can't seem to find a source of that here in Brookings.  A business of some kind?  What? No money to do anything like that, even if I could come up with an idea.  I've thought of starting a free-lance bookkeeping service, but can't really find any enthusiasm for that.  On the other hand, I was working with TurboTax last week to get my income taxes done and found that I really enjoyed that, really missed using my brain in that way.  Not that I want to become a tax preparer, but....something.

I don't have answers for either of us, or for any others who find themselves in the same situation.  There would be plenty of possibilities if one had a bit more income, but that's not the case for me, and while he makes a lot more than I do he can't take off and play or the money would go away and he'd be left with social security only, as I am, and that doesn't offer many possibilities for play and fun.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fact or Fiction -- Unusual Natural Healing

Natural healing methods have been in the forefront of my mind lately, bringing to mind various stories I've heard over the years of 'miraculous' cures.  We've all read these, but there are only two that I remember with any detail and I thought you might find them interesting as well.

The first came from my neighbor/landlord when I lived in St. Helena in the 1980s.  At the time, this man was probably in his 70s or 80s, as healthy and active as can be with a large veggie garden that he singlehandedly tended.  He was a crotchety individual, but for some reason took a liking to me and even gave me a little room in his veggie garden.  One day we were talking and he told me a story I've never forgotten, although the details are admittedly foggy. Lying and exaggeration would not have been part of this man's persona, and I believe what he told me.

He said that when he was a young man, maybe 20, he was diagnosed with some serious disease for which no cures existed at the time, which would have been in the early 1900s.  It was a death sentence.  Tuberculosis comes to mind, but I'm not sure that's what it was and it really doesn't matter.  At the time, he was living and working in Washington or Oregon and decided there was nothing for him to do but go home to his family in southern California and wait to die.   Because he had no money, he started walking south and for some reason I can't recall, ate garlic in large quantities for the time in took for him to walk the length of the Pacific Coast, which would have been several months.  When he arrived home and saw a doctor, all traces of the disease were gone and never returned.  He credited the garlic with his cure.  Since then, of course, garlic has been proven scientifically to have all kinds of healing properties, many of which are probably as yet undiscovered.

Another story I remember was something I read in the autobiography of the actress Gloria Swanson, who was probably as famous for her affair with Joseph Kennedy as for her screen work.  When diagnosed with cancer, which at that time had no known cures and was also a death sentence, she refused to accept the inevitable and did some research of her own.  Again, the details are fuzzy, but in essence she learned that protein was the basis of cell formation and since her goal was to stop the formation of cancer cells, she took protein out of her diet. Her cancer disappeared completely.  Fact or fiction? Who knows, but that was her story.

Our local rag has a weather station in downtown Brookings which recorded a high wind gust of 51mph on Monday night around 9pm, the highest in 4 years.  No wonder I felt like the house was going to blow away!  It's still blowing and raining out there, too, although the bluster has thankfully lessened. For now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Boost Your Immunity the Natural Way

A few weeks ago I had an unsettling blood test showing a big drop in white blood cell count and a few other more minor abnormalities.  My ND (naturopathic doctor) who ordered the test told me to see a hematologist for more tests and interpretation.  Not surprisingly, there are none in Brookings, but I found one in Coos Bay and eventually saw her in Gold Beach. She seemed a bit annoyed that I was there, since I was planning to leave the area shortly, and told me to see someone in Georgia since there wouldn't be time to get the required tests done and interpreted, much less treated, before I left. She made a rather unsettling preliminary diagnosis, but in doing some research online I'm not so sure I agree with her.

Putting all that aside, however, I certainly need to do what I can to boost both red and white blood cell counts, platelet production, and function of such organs as the liver and kidneys.  I've always eaten with a bent towards health, and take plenty of supplements, but now I need to do more.  I've done more research online and thought I'd share some of what I've learned with all of you, since we can all benefit from a better immune system.

Exercise:  we all know exercise is important for a myriad of reasons, and I like exercise but certainly am not doing any to the extent I should, despite all my walking.  Yesterday I learned that it takes 30 minutes of aerobic exercise to sweep white blood cells back into circulation, making one's immune system run more smoothly.  I'm going to add this to my daily routine. It's easy enough -- I just need to walk faster or, better yet, spend more time on the hated treadmill.

Diet:  This is where it really counts, not surprisingly.  I found this information yesterday on the Prevention Magazine site, all supported by excellent research.  These power foods boost immunity:

Yogurt -- and not all yogurt is the same, when it comes to immunity.  All yogurt contains strains of lactobacillus, but only one US brand contains lactobacillus reuteri, which stimulates white blood cells.  That brand is Stonyfield Farms, so while I'm devoted to Eugene's own Nancy's yogurt, I'll be switching brands.

Oats and Barley:  I didn't make any notes on this one.
Garlic -- 2 raw cloves per day, plus more in cooked food.  I'd already heard lots of anecdotal information on this subject and added more garlic to my diet, both in the form of garlic oil capsules and the real thing, which I love.

Fish: shellfish and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel.

Chicken soup:  Yes, your mother was right.  Chicken soup blocks the migration of inflammatory white blood cells. This is thought to be due to the amino acid cysteine, which is released from the chicken during cooking. Adding garlic and onion to the soup adds even more immune-boosting power.

Tea: 5 cups daily of black or green tea, which contains the amino acid L-theanine.  I'm not fond of this kind of tea, but I've added it to my diet nonetheless. Don't know if I'll manage 5 cups, but whatever I get will help.

Beef: contains zinc, which is important for the formation of white blood cells. I already take a zinc supplement, so won't up the amount of beef I eat.

Sweet potatoes:  For Vitamin A, which gives healthy skin.  Healthy skin is a big part of the immune system, as this largest body organ (yes, it is an organ) has the capability of rebuffing an attacking virus or bacteria before it has a chance to enter your body.  Other orange veggies and fruits work, too.  I already get plenty of Vitamin A through my daily cod liver oil, but as a good southern gal, I don't mind eating more sweet potatoes!

Mushrooms: These increase the production and activity of white blood cells.  Shiitake, maitake and reishi have the biggest punch and only 1/4 to 1 oz is required daily.  This is another bit of info I'd already found on-line, anecdotally, and I've added a shiitake supplement plus fresh shiitake to my diet. They're pricey, but really tasty.

In addition to all this, I've taken alcohol out of my daily diet to support the liver and allow it to do its job better.  And, I'm doing other things like using an herbal detox tea.  It'll be interesting to see how much difference all this makes in the numbers on my next blood test.  I'll let you know!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yum Yum

I've been itching for some fish & chips at a funky little place in Port Orford, about an hour's drive north of here, for months now.  It was on my MUST DO BEFORE I LEAVE list.  We've been waiting for a sunny day, but since time is running out, we gave up and went today.  You can read the whole story on my Southern Oregon Coast blog if you're interested. 

I'll suffer for this -- my tummy resents all the fried food -- but oh, I must say it was worth it!  It's the best and I'm sated.

The weather started out dreary but calm.  By the time we left home around 10am, it was still dreary but really, really windy.  When we'd stop and get out of the car, looking for good photos of all the big waves, I could barely stand up.  Holding the camera still was really an issue, particularly since I was using the telephoto and that doesn't offer much leeway for movement.  Jack stood behind me at one time, blocking the wind so I could stand still.  I took several shots of this one rock being blasted by exploding waves, over and over.  Good show.  There are more photos, more story, on the other blog.  Right now, I'm kind of blogged out so if you want to know more, you know where to go.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Nature's Show

One thing we can almost always count on around here is that after the storm comes high surf.  Not something you want to play in, but incredibly beautiful to watch.  After hearing a high surf advisory on NPR this morning, and watching the sun come out to play for awhile, I decided to go down to the Port of Brookings to have a look along with plenty of others. I felt as if I'd barely gotten started when my camera battery died.  Didn't I make some kind of resolution recently to recharge it after EVERY use, regardless of how little it had been used? Now I just need to follow that advice.  On the other hand, I was using it almost like a motor drive, one photo after another to capture what I could, and I ended up with 50 photos.  Still, I'd barely gotten started.

I like using the end of the breakwater for scale -- for more interest in general. 

Funny what color differences appear from the same location, depending upon whether I'm looking north or, as here, south.  It's just the way this camera deals with bright light, much of the time.  The gulls were everywhere, having a real hey-day with all this activity.

Now I wait patiently for the battery to recharge, and I may just go back and do it all over again. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shake, Rattle and Roll!

First time I've ever been in the area of a big earthquake and not felt a thing!  We were actually down in California, near Crescent City, when it hit, but we were in the car and never knew it happened.  Somehow, I feel left out.  Not that I like feeling earthquakes, because I don't, but having experienced several on the large size and countless smaller ones over the almost 60 years I've lived on the west coast, I also no longer live in terror of them.  Oh, well.

My buddy from Eugene visited this weekend -- opted to drive to Brookings rather than meet halfway and that was fine with me.  I wanted to have a look at the Smith River, see if it was full and raging yet, so we drove south and, as I drove, I thought that since we'd be near the access road we might as well take a drive through the redwoods.  The river was flowing, but it certainly was not as full and exciting as it was last Easter when I first saw it.

We drove Howland Hill Road, which is a narrow dirt road full of potholes that goes deeper into our local redwood forests than any other road, and travels 6 or 7 miles through a deep, peaceful forest.  Every pothole was full of muddy water, of course, and my car now looks like it's been christened.  It's probably also why we didn't feel the earthquake -- the car was rockin' and rollin' pretty well all by itself because for the most part, the potholes were unavoidable.  I'm not sure we were still on this road when the quake hit, or if we'd already emerged onto pavement, really.  We stopped once, walked down a trail towards a pretty stream that was pumping whitewater.  A sign told us that a bridge was out 1/2 mile down the trail and that was fine because we didn't need to go any further than that.  We both thought it didn't feel anything like 1/2 mile -- more like 1/4 mile, maybe.  Not enough, really, but it felt great in the cool foggy mists.  The above photo was taken at the point where we needed to stop.

As we headed back north, including an obligatory stop at our favorite liquor store (presumably because of differences in state taxes on alcohol, liquor costs much less in California and this store gets a LOT of business from Oregonians). This is where we first learned about the earthquake. We also couldn't help but watch the spectacular show that nature was giving us as the sun lowered on the horizon.  When we got into Brookings, I took an impromptu turn down to Chetco Point and when we walked out, this is what greeted us. We were just in time. It was so spectacular -- no photo could do it justice because the entire sky was filled with clouds of different textures and designs, all different colors.  Quite a lovely ending to a lovely afternoon.

And yes, the lower the sun traveled, the more spectacular the colors.  Hard as it is to believe, this is only the second sunset I have actually watched in the 9 months I have lived on this coast.  What a waste!  Most of the time, we don't have clouds to enhance the sight so it's not this spectacular.

As always, it was hard to say goodbye, to let him go again for what most likely will be the last time, or the last time for a good while.  I know, I said this last time he was here, but assuming all goes well my time here is getting very short.  Still, I am immensely grateful for his presence in my life, and for the incredibly wonderful, beautiful friendship we have, for the rocky roads we've traveled together these last 6 years to reach this point, even as I will miss the personal visits and hugs.  Email and telephone still reach Georgia, and I have to believe he will visit at least once.  And yes, since you asked, I DID get my Tequila Sunrise!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Weather and Other Oddities

Everyday -- often several times a day -- I check the weather here in Brookings, in Eugene and in Cedartown.  Mostly I'm just interested in Brookings, but they all show up on one page so I see them all.

Here in Brookings, waaaaaayyy up north, we are in a warm spell.  Wet, but warm.  In Cedartown, waaaaayyyy down south, they've been in the teens for days now.  Eugene is almost always colder than Brookings, a fact explained by our proximity to the (relatively) warm Pacific Ocean.  Right now, it's 54 here, 39 in Eugene, and 18 in Cedartown, where it's already afternoon.  I expect they had at least a dusting of snow overnight, too.  Brrrrr.  Glad I'm still here in Brookings!

I guess that's the best thing about delaying my move.  The longer I delay, the warmer it's likely to be down in the deep south.  I remember from my 10 years in Atlanta that January is always a pits of a month.  Cold, windy, icy.  Yuk.  After that, it tends to warm up a bit although there is always the chance of another cold snap.  A few years before I left Atlanta we had a huge snowstorm blow through in March that literally shut the city down for several days.  Thankfully, the weather gods had the kindness to bring it on a Friday night rather than during the work week.

The weather reports had been saying the snow was coming for days, but most people seemed to ignore that.  I opted to listen, then went to the video store for a good supply of entertainment and to the grocery store for a good supply of food, so whatever outings I took were for pleasure, not necessity.

I walked out of my apartment complex the next morning just to have a look, found people walking to and from our end of a dead-end street to the nearest supermarket, mostly seeming to be carrying home good supplies of beer.  A young woman in a cloth dress coat and cloth sneakers, nothing on her head, was walking in that direction.  Not good attire for the cold and snow!  As a hiker/backpacker, I had my good hiking boots and the right clothes to protect myself against hypothermia!  Our road ran alongside an interstate and I walked down to the crossroads a block or two away to have a look from the overpass: nothing but a big blanket of snow as far as the eye could see.  Maybe one fool out there creeping along in a car, or stuck on the side, I don't remember which.

As I was walking back home, I heard a large 'crack' that could only mean one thing and I took off running.  A huge pine tree came down right about where I'd been walking.  Whew!  That was a little too close for comfort.  The following day I walked to the video store to return my rentals.  Fortunately, the power stayed on all weekend so I was warm, entertained and well-fed.

Monday morning, I donned my hiking boots and slogged through snow and lots of snow/ice masses piled up alongside the streets and made it to work, after an hour or so of walking.  I knew somebody would be needed to answer the phones, and I was right.  My little Ranger pickup did not do snow and ice, and neither did its owner.  I got a ride home with one of the partners, in a 4WD truck.

No, there has been no word yet on the loan.  You'll hear it here one way or another and, oddly enough, I am quite content to accept either eventuality.  That's my Buddhist training and, indeed, a big part of the overall goal of Buddhist practice, so I'm really happy that I'm in that place.