Friday, September 25, 2009

Seeing the future

I watched the Miss Tehama County competition last night at the Tehama District Fair. Six young -- young -- women answered questions and demonstrated talent and poise on an outdoor stage right on the fair's midway, supported by friends and family and a host of onlookers.

And I puddled right up as they came out, one by one, escorted by their fathers or family friends.

They are so beautiful, each of them, in their youth, their optimism, their courage, their hopefulness. They are the up-and-comers, the next generation, the ones who, in another couple of decades, will be the lawmakers, the parents, the CEOs, the cornerstones of the business world.

Maybe that makes me officially "old." But I can see this passage of time so clearly, almost physically feel it move from my generation to theirs.

I remember feeling that way when I was young, like there wasn't anything I couldn't do if I wanted to do it. I remember a time when my hair wasn't grey, my face was unlined, nothing hurt, my muscles were stretchable and lithe and strong, when life was full of possibilities, and I could pick from everything.

I don't think I really understood my potential then. And I'm not sure I ever reached it, the highest I might achieve, looking back at my life now.

Maybe that is the source of the tears: both the beauty of youth and the yet untapped potential each holds within herself, and the understanding now that we have all these choices available to us in our youth and that we ourselves are responsible for determining our own destiny as we choose, as we act over the years.

It's not that I don't still have choices and options and potential: I know I do until I take my last breath. But I had no real idea how much power I did have back then; I'm not sure any of us do until much later in life when we have made the choices that have determined our futures.

Perhaps it is always that way: the older generation realizes what a gift the younger generation has in front of them, but young seldom listens with to old with any real comprehension of what we're trying to say. And the curse of the older generation is that we have this knowledge within us, but it is rarely recognized for the insight that it is.

I'm sure I'll continue to puddle up at weddings and graduations as I grow older. And I hope I will gain wisdom and more insight along with the years. And what I truly hope is that somehow I will be able to communicate that through my words so that someone, some time, will understand what a gift youth is, what an incredible opportunity we have in time, what thoughtful care we should take in making our choices and decisions. And how we always have second chances, even when we find them hard to see.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Responsible pet ownership: a sad kitty and a starved horse

Weather is still unseasonably hot with little relief expected from temperatures in the triple digits until next week. Everyone is sick of it, and I'm sure you're tired of me talking about it. Tough.


I was in Petco the other day to get the indoor boys some kitty food -- they seem to be doing very well (meaning no barfing) on one brand for indoor cats especially. Of course there were the animal cages holding kitties who are adoptable, most of them young, cute, playful. Mostly they sleep -- I don't know if that is simply because they are cats (who sleep some 20 hours a day anyway) or because they're bored or drugged.

But in a bottom cage there was a large Siamese (picture may not be the same cat, but was similar), all tucked in like a sizeable loaf of bread, just sitting there. The sign said he was about nine months old -- around there. You could tell he was stressed. He didn't react to me at all. And I thought who is going to adopt this big boy? How did he even get here -- he is a beautiful cat with beautiful markings? Where did he live before? And will someone take him home before he gets killed?

I puddled up right there in the store and hastily went to the cat food aisle, where I picked out the cat food and wiped my eyes.

So then I was eating lunch and reading our local paper, and here is a story about a horribly starved horse (caution: this link is only good for about seven days but by that time the Safe Haven Horse Rescue hopefully will have info on its site). I'm thinking about how someone can allow an animal to starve to death right before their eyes? To let it wander on its own and try to keep from starving by eating pine needles and dirt, as did another horse saved by Safe Haven?

I know part of it is the economy. Many cannot afford their pets. Craigslist is full of listings from people who must move and cannot take pets with them (although the ones who try to "rehome" said pets with fees of $50 and up seem to be doing that more for the money than for concern about the animal's welfare). But there are always people who collect pets because they're cute and then don't take care of them.

And part of the big problem is, of course, that people do not spay and neuter their animals. Yes, it costs money, although there are organizations nation-wide who offer help. Our local PAWS group gives certificates to help with the costs, available on a first-call, first-given basis every month.

We are so attached to our kitties, especially the inside boys, that it makes us both puddle up a little when we see unwanted animals who are abused and tossed aside. I regularly look at the pets section of our Craigslist -- not that I'm in the market for more cats right now -- and there are so many kittens and puppies available. Lots of pit bulls and older animals too --

Puppies and kittens are cute, no denying that. But they grow up quickly into mature animals, and some of the cuteness wears off (although our indoor boys, at the ripe age of five years, still exhibit the occasional "awwwwww" moments). They are dependent upon us for shelter, food, water, and care. If you can't afford to take care of yourself, you can't afford to take care of a pet. I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but here is a checklist of pet owner responsibilities.

I don't know that I'll stop by the kitty adoption area the next time I'm in Petco. I can't take them all home and love them. We have seven cats right now, all cared for, fed, vaccinated, and sheltered. I figure any others we're meant to have will find us eventually, pretty much the way all of ours did. But that sad Siamese will haunt me for a long time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

And the days keep rolling on...

It's been hot again here in Lake Woebegone -- er, Red Bluff.... gusting to 106 yesterday. It is supposed to plunge tonight to a high of only 82 tomorrow, and a possibility of showers for Monday. We'll see.

This is the time of year when everyone is sick to death of brown crunchy landscapes and hot temperatures. The trees have turned that desperate blue-green color of late summer, those that haven't already dropped their leaves and turned up their twigs in despair -- I worry about the pair at the front of the house because they look dead-dead-dead right now. Acorns are dropping, a good thing, since the deer don't have much left to eat and are looking mighty slender.

A family group visits around suppertime every day and includes a pair of twin fawns who largely have lost their spots now. When I come out to water the herbs and plants on the back patio, they prick up their ears and step closer in hopes that I'll toss out some peelings or past-their-prime veggies, not that I have a lot of those this year. I always worry about them too at this time of year, wondering if they'll make it until the rains come and grass starts growing again.

The vacation glow has worn off, although it stayed mostly through the first week back. Tony said while he was processing all the photos we shot that it made him want to go back to Bandon! Wish we were a little closer to the coast and the beautiful ocean. Even in the fog and rain, it is a wondrous sight, a reassuring constancy that no matter what else happens, it will be there, rolling in, rolling out.

You can see the coast pictures here -- taken by both of us.

Did I mention that the vacation rental we stayed in had 57 steps from the parking area to the door? Did I mention how our legs quivered after we climbed up them every day (and had to stop at least twice along the way?)

We were out and about every day, and made an excursion to Shore Acres State Park near Coos Bay. Gorgeous gardens with the ocean right there. Tony has a new lens and had a ball shooting pix; I used my trusty 18-200mm and got some nice ones too.

My flowers at Shore Acres, Tony's flowers.

Next foray will involve a trip back to Fayette, MO, the home of Central Methodist University, for my -- gasp -- 40th college graduation reunion. It oughta be an experience seeing all those old people, hm.

I'm hoping for a taste of fall weather there, and also that by some miracle the weather will change in the few days we'll be gone and that we'll be into fall weather here by the time we get back. (delusional, I know...)

We got to see our cutie-pie grandson last weekend for a few hours, and just marvel at how quickly children change, how quickly time passes as we age. All the time in the world that we had when we were young has now shrunk to something far too finite for comfort in some ways, and it makes us talk seriously of retirement and of doing things we hope to do, like more travel and more play. Not yet, we think, but not too far off either.

We have always felt that the Universe presents us with choices and options at the appropriate times, and that doesn't feel right just yet. Nonetheless, we are keeping our eyes and ears and minds open and watching. I feel a bit at loose ends right now about the "right" things for me to do, and seem to be reacting by not doing much of anything substantial. Little bits of writing here and there, little spurts of cleaning and refurbishing and weeding out stuff. We shall see what comes of it.

Meanwhile, we are in transition yet again from late summer into early fall, anticipating the rains and change, whatever it brings. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time, doing all we can to be where we are....

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Taking time

We spent last week in Bandon, Ore., in a charming beach house with windows that looked like picture frames because of the beach and ocean views from every one of them. We had no agendas, nothing that had to get done or places we had to go. It was marvelous.

The weather was cool -- a few days we actually got slightly above 70 -- and mostly sunny: one morning of fog that lifted by afternoon; another morning with rain showers (loved it) that also lifted later in the day. We walked on the beach, picking up agates, taking pictures of waves and gulls and starfish. We visited a couple of lighthouses. I spent an afternoon poking around the stores in historic old town and came home with several tops that I adore, plus gifties for various people. We read, we watched mindless television and movies. We slept with the roar of the waves echoing through our place. It was wonderful.

The only complaint about the whole week was that the house is 57 steps below street level, and they are steep steps, the kind you want to hang onto the railing to go down. But going up -- wow. What a workout for the legs! Cardio workout for sure. I never made it up there without stopping at least twice. The beach was only about 15 or so steps down, not nearly as steep.

We needed the time away. It has been a hard year in so many ways: emotionally, physically, spiritually, probably mostly emotionally. And it did what we'd hoped it would -- gave us a welcome respite from day-to-day life and stresses.

I think the trick is to create more of those moments within day-to-day life -- to declare a phone-free day, or sit and read a book, or watch mindless television, or cook from the freezer case instead of from scratch. Because there was no cell service in the house, our phone contact was limited to either when we'd go out on an excursion, ending up usually at the grocery store to buy that evening's dinner, or to the cumbersome phone card which we had purchased in anticipation of no service. It was lovely, actually.

We had internet -- and had brought the laptop, mainly so Tony could upload pictures as we took them -- and did check e-mails, but did little corresponding. We did keep up with an unfolding drama that infested the local art community here via e-mail, but did not respond to it, having taken a vow some time ago to stay out of that particular crock of manure. Well, okay, we did correspond briefly with a few of our friends who got spattered, just to offer our support and concern....

It was good to have that much time together, though -- with Tony working and out of the house so long five days a week, we really treasure what little time we do have. When we first came here and were in real estate, we were together pretty much all the time -- actually, that was one of our primary goals when we moved here -- and we have missed that. We know the current situation will end eventually, but right now it works...

When it is so hot outside, which it is here pretty much at least four months of the year, you don't really want to go out and about much, so we tend to cocoon indoors in the summer where it is cool. But that is not necessarily healthy either -- it's good to get out and do something interesting, even just taking a drive, or going to the mountains where it is at least cooler. Heat tires one out, too, and there is never a lack of things that need doing around here, although in the summer most of them are indoors. In the winter, my favorite time actually, it can be too cold or rainy to do stuff outside, and then we cocoon inside with the wood stove and pots of soup!

I guess my lesson in our little vacation by the sea is that we need to find some mini-breaks at least a couple of times a month, and get away from the house and the to-do lists, and just be with each other. Life goes by so quickly, and the most important part of it is our relationship with each other, not all the things that need doing. It's that balance lesson again, hm.