Looking for answers to life's questions

Archive for August, 2012

In Search of Kindness to Animals

My first stop on the trek back to where I want to call home was Albany, Oregon. My niece and great-nieces live there. It had been almost a year since my last visit and there were lots of changes in their lives as well. Albany is a small town an hour south of Portland. Like many other cities and towns, it is showing the signs of economic distress.

After spending the night in a motel in town, my niece allowed us to tag along with her and her girls to a favorite yearly city function. It’s a street fair raising money and awareness for animal rescue and shelters. My niece’s home has its’ own rescued dog. She is a sweet Pit Bull mix that loves everyone. Too bad they have such a bad reputation because most of the Pit mixes I’ve met are absolutely endearing.

Sweet, sweet Amy

What I loved was that a good portion of the town was in attendance to help. It demonstrated real community in action. This brought tears to my eyes, and was part of the reason I felt Oregon had to be home for me. That day had me missing my little dog more than usual, though I’m happy she didn’t have to endure the moving around I’ve done this last year since her passing. Dogs love unconditionally. We need to step up and Albany was doing just that.

Dogs and neighbors getting to know each other

I noticed also was how well all the dogs got along. Big, little, fluffy and sleek; they all said hello to each other with a friendly sniff. Why can’t we be that nice to each other? Not one growl in the bunch. It would be really nice not to need an animal shelter. Maybe one day that will be the case. Right now, this little town has stepped up to do what it can to bring the community together and take care of their furry friends. Animals can’t help themselves. It’s up to us to be responsible. Don’t even get me started on neglect or abuse of animals. I have Animal Control on speed dial in each city I live in or visit.

getting aquainted

Each morning while I have my first cup of coffee and read my e-mail, I click on the Animal Rescue site to donate food for the animals. It’s free and something anyone can do with only a computer click. I like to spread the word. Most of us are kind and caring of our pets. When you see the love expressed in the eyes of any animal, how can it be any different. Yet, the neglect and abuse remains prevalent, especially in light of so many no longer being financially able to care for their pet. Is your town stepping up to the plate and how?


The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

~ Mohandas Gandhi

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Snow

The drive to Oregon gets really beautiful just after you are out of Redding, California. I always spend the night in Redding so I can truly enjoy the scenery after being rested and wide awake. It was especially beautiful since I was finally heading to where I want to call home.

The Mount Shasta area can be so breathtaking with trees climbing the ridges on both sides of interstate 5. I’ve done that trip so many times now; some by myself with my little dog looking out the window and enjoying the view. Twice with my daughter who did the driving for me and this last trip was with my son. He had always flown but this time he drove my car and the rented trailer back to Oregon. It was his first view of the spectacular scenery. This time I noticed something. Mount Shasta had almost no snow. It was all but bare.

I love this view

I realize its summer but I’ve traveled this stretch in summer before and the snow on the peak was always breathtaking. The water levels have also been lower each time I’ve passed over the lakes of Shasta,. Lack of snow on Mount Shasta is the sign of even lower water levels for the region. Maybe this winter can turn things around for them. I certainly hope that is the case. Snow means water.

Another angle of Mount Shasta

I have to admit that I gave up on living in snow the year I came down with Bells Palsy. In the mountains of Arizona at 7200 ft., we would usually get around three feet of snow spread out through the winter season. The winter of 2010, we had six feet most of which was dumped on us in one night. I spent days shoveling after our canopy over the truck, jeep, tractors and miscellaneous tools collapsed on them. It took a bull dozer to dig us out. I didn’t care to ever see snow after that winter.

Multiply this snow by three and that’s what brought that canopy down the next winter.

Somehow, in all the moving, I’ve lost the photos of that epic snowstorm. Maybe they will still turn up.

We had an epidemic of shingles outbreak that winter which is the same dormant virus that causes Bells Palsy. Many alternative practitioners say the cold and wind have a lot to do with the dormant virus becoming active. Add the stress of an unusually hard winter or other stressors, and you have a breakdown of the immune system.

Oregon gets cold and wet; but there is no shoveling required. I prefer to leave that now to the younger generation. I like to visit the snow or pass by it from a good distance. It’s vital to our lives. I’m sad to see Mount Shasta so barren. Is there any hope of turning things like this around?

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defence of our resources is just as important as defence abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? – Robert Redford

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Identification

With packing and getting ready for my next short-term move, I almost didn’t notice the movement in my son’s back yard. As I passed the back door on my way to the kitchen sink I saw a bunch of fat looking black things way out at the fence line. My vision is limited so I stared really hard to see if my eyes were playing tricks on me.

Then they moved. Like small rubber balls they moved as one unit. I called my son to look and see if he could make out what I was looking at. They appeared to be birds but my gracious, they were so fat, could they even fly?

We both got out our camera’s and I went for the zoom. The more you zoom out the more steady the camera needs to be held. I held my breath and clicked away. He’s what we saw.

I have never seen anything like these fat little dumplings and at one time I lived in California for over 20 years. It’s a large state and I visited a great deal of it but these little lumps were something new. I was in awe.

After I downloaded the pictures to my laptop so I could see them better I noticed the funny little topknot on their heads. They were scratching at a pile of weeds I raked into piles earlier like chickens. The ground was dry and hard. What could they find there? Doves eat tiny rocks but these were not doves. So off to Google I went.

Look hard way in the back. Those fat little butterballs are California Quail; I think. That’s what they appear to be from my research. I noticed that one stood guard while the rest worked at finding whatever they were looking for in all that dirt. What a treat on my last night in California. Glad they were happy with it. I was happy with their visit and so lucky to have seen this beautiful creatures.

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.

~Henry David Thoreau

From my heart to yours,

In Search of the My Youthful Self

At the age of a retiree, I did not expect to look or feel like my 25-year-old self. I guess it’s possible and if you have the right set of circumstances, even probable. Stars and athletes still look remarkably young so why not me. Betty White and George Burns are my hero’s. I want to be able to drink, smoke, (well, maybe not smoke) carouse and live to 100.

I was so close to getting there in 2009. After spending an entire year rigidly watching my diet and exercising at the gym and walking the dog twice daily, I managed to lose 50 pounds. I had no sugar or refined carbs and felt pretty good about myself.

Well, guess what? After two and a half years with Bells Palsy, the stresses that brought it on and all the changes that have transpired in my life, I’ve managed to find almost 40 of those pounds and it doesn’t feel very good. Bells Palsy affects only the face for most people and everyone says “it goes away, doesn’t it?” Well, for me it affected my vision, balance, hearing and thought process. So I sat down and stayed there except for some walks with a cane, gardening and daily chores.

My son had some get-in-free cards for the gym at his club where he plays tennis. He works really hard to stay fit. I don’t like to sweat unless it’s in the garden moving boulders. Being a good mom, I took him up on the get-in-free card and tried out the treadmill and weight machines. Surprise, I can do them as long as I hold on. That’s a lot of healing in the last year. So I guess I have no more excuses to be lazy.

Now, on to the food part of the problem. I have not been eating well. When life is stressful, I soothe myself with comfort foods. Divorce and all that comes from it brings on mega stress. Mostly, my comfort foods are sweet, salty or fatty. Why can’t they be broccoli and spinach? My all-time favorite food since I was eight is french fries though I have managed to substitute the sweet potato version to make myself feel better about the indulgence. Oh, how we deceive ourselves. Then it was on to organic coconut fruit bars. Some days I have some control, most days, not so much.

When I look in the mirror, there is a strange, plump, old woman with a bulbous nose staring back and using some not nice words at me. She should have her mouth washed out with soap. She needs her hair styled big time, but I’m not going to tell her.

My body is making its stand and refuses any more junk. Who would have thought it possible? It’s forcing me to be kinder to myself and giving it a rest from all but the minimal amount of food. This time I’m listening. Maybe I’ll be younger tomorrow.

So what constitutes youthfulness in the older person? How does one keep that youthful glow in spite of life’s trials? It’s a skill I have yet to learn. I think what I’m looking for is that young at heart feeling that expresses itself in the body. I’ve said before I was born 108 years old with tons of responsibilities very early in life. So I’m trying to age backwards. I think Benjamin Button had it right. I am so ready for playtime and toys. Any suggestions? I could certainly use them.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~ Sophia Loren

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Real Compost

This morning I spent a bit of time in my son’s back yard taking pictures. I want to remember all the work I have put in these few months here. I am so going to miss having a yard to play in but I won’t miss the heat. This is high desert where the winds blow fiercely and it can get cold enough in winter to freeze typical California plants.

Two years before I had spent several weeks here and planted the whole perimeter with Bougainvillea. I expected the thorny vines to climb and cover the chain link fence keeping possible intruders from climbing over as well as hide the ugly fence. Most of them froze and died the first winter. When I checked with the nurseryman, he said they were required to carry them but did not encourage their use in this area. Big box stores won’t tell you those things. I only buy from the nursery now. A few plants have been saved and seem to be getting a second chance.

They were beautiful!

We decided to plant some hardier shrubs for privacy and maybe to give some protection to the Bougainvillea. We’ve lost one of the new shrubs already and I can’t figure out why. I think it was too much water or maybe it was too little.

I love gardening and I like to do it organically. So I’m big into composting kitchen green waste. Now, we have no structure for building compost at my son’s so I figured I’d just dig holes and bury the green waste letting it decompose underground. Surely that will help amend the soil at some point. I picked different spots all around the yard to bury the green waste that will eventually feed the shrubs and trees.

A funny thing happened on the way to decomposing. I have odd little plants all around the yard that are not weeds but I’m not real sure what they are. One looks like it might be a squash of some kind from the seeds I buried.

Some kind of squash maybe?

It could be a tomato














It’s trying to eat the rosemary


I also have something that may be watermelon attacking my rosemary. Wonder how that happens with seedless organic melons?

So it’s obvious that I need to work on my composting skills. Though growing stuff I haven’t really planted seems to come natural. Maybe I’ll get it right on my next trip down. I know you can buy compost in a bag. Just like making my own and seeing what happens. Happiness in the garden is the surest path to health.

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

From my heart to yours,

In Search of a Better Blog

I was in a workshop yesterday at the Santa Clarita Senior Center to learn about blogs. Only a couple of us had already started blogs. I was hoping to learn how to improve mine and get more conversations going. My writing teacher was the person giving the workshop.

What I did hear once again from her was that blogs should be kept short and frequent. My posts are usually long and only once a week. It’s hard to keep things interesting and entertaining while trying to share or receive information. I have so much yet to learn about writing and blogging.

Sitting in on another writing class before the workshop I was privileged to hear so many wonderful stories from other seniors. Several brought bust out loud belly laughs and then brought you to tears. That’s what I aspire to become; the kind of writer who runs you through the whole gamut of emotions. But mostly I want to give you a laugh. That’s going to be a tough one for someone who was born 108 years old to start with.

Lighten up is my new mantra. Find the fun in life and share it. Maybe that’s the key to wellness also. I’ve tried everything else. There has been no response to my query on how to recover from this oddly long-term, seriously debilitating Bells Palsy. So unless it miraculously disappears overnight, the subject will fade into the background.

This gypsy is on the move again so short posts will work just fine right now. I have a week to pack then off we go to find a place for me to live quietly (or not) alone. It’s just another adventure for this old woman.

Wish you were all in writing class with me today. I’m bringing treats as if we were in grade school. It’s my way of saying thank you and goodbye to those who have been so kind to welcome this stranger. So tell me, what works best for you, long posts or short?

From my heart to yours,