Lost an earring, found a new beach hangout

I didn’t expect yesterday to be very exciting. Church. Lunch. Grocery store. Laundry. TV. The usual. But it didn’t quite turn out that way.

When I got home with my groceries, eager to shed my church clothes and sprawl in the sun on the deck with a good book, I discovered one of my earrings was missing. This is not the first time I’ve lost an earring. I don’t have pierced ears. I wear antique clip-on and screw-on earrings, and sometimes they fall off. I have lost and found some earrings three or four times, and I have quite a few single earrings whose mates are gone forever. I especially liked this earring, silver filigree around a shiny amethyst center.

I searched my clothes and my car, traced my steps from the garage. No earring. Dang. It was already 2:30. I had the laundry and other chores to do, and Annie needed a walk. But I wanted my earring back. I changed my clothes, put the dog in the car and we headed back to Newport. First stop, Georgie’s, where my friends and I had enjoyed our usual delicious food and ocean view. Checked the parking lot, the booth where we sat, the restroom. Nope. Next stop, church. Not in the chapel, the music room, the rest room or the sanctuary.

By now, Annie was going nuts, needing to walk. There’s a path through the woods right in the middle of town, and it’s not too far from Sacred Heart Church, so we headed there. It was sunny and smelled like flowers. We jumped over the mud puddles, glad to be out walking. The path ends at a playground and skate park. I thought we’d just go through there and walk back to the church. But Annie had other ideas. She tugged me toward the beach and a new discovery.

For years, I have heard about Jump-Off Joe, a massive rock formation that started falling apart at the turn of the 20th century and is now mostly gone. There are legends about how it got its name, but the most logical and likely explanation is that the rocks blocked the whole beach. People who wanted to get to the other side had to climb up and jump off, so they called it Jump-Off Joe. Read about it and see pictures at http://www.beachconnection.net/vtour_newp28.htm.

But I didn’t know there was an area up above the remnants of Jump-off Joe where people can park and enjoy the beach. The little parking lot off NW 11th Street leads to the concrete remnants of a building that I told myself must have been the natatorium where people came to swim in the early 20th century. But no. It’s the remains of a condo complex that fell victim to the constant erosion in the area. Now it’s a maze of graffiti-covered walls and steps at the edge of a bluff overlooking the rocks on the beach.

Annie and I both enjoyed sniffing around there and standing high above the beach. Judging by the graffiti and the abundance of beer bottles, we might not want to hang around there at night, but what a fun discovery. I know, local friends, I’m a dunce for not knowing about this, but it’s so exciting to find a new spot after almost 18 years here.

Eventually Annie and I wandered back to the car and started toward the J.C. Market. I actually drove past it, weary and thinking nobody’s going to find a tiny earring in a massive grocery store. Did I lose it while picking out potatoes, in the meat section while debating between pork chops and steak, or in the cereal aisle, where I grabbed two boxes of Red Zinger tea? At the cash register? But then I thought, no, they won’t have it, but you’ve got to ask.So I turned around.

At the service counter, I told the clerk I had misplaced an earring. She smiled. “Was it a clip-on?” Yes. I pulled the one out of my pocket and she pulled its twin from a drawer. A customer had found it in the parking lot and turned it in. Thank you, whoever you are.

God is good. I found a new place, and I got my earring back. We got home at 4:30 and took advantage of the sun still shining on the deck. The laundry could wait.

Yes, I could get pierced ears, but then look at all the fun I would miss!

This is what spring looks like on the Oregon coast

March is unpredictable on the Oregon Coast. Sunny one day, stormy the next. When I took this picture yesterday, it was windy, drizzling and cold.  Today, we have sun, but rain is forecast for later. People are flocking to the beaches for spring break, but I wouldn’t spread my towel on the sand just yet. Go to the aquarium, blow a glass float, visit our art galleries and museums, or try our clam chowder, marionberry cobbler, and locally brewed beer. Don’t forget your hoodie.

All winter, our berry vines have looked like dead sticks, but they’re coming back to life. These salmonberries are determined to take over the space between my deck and the fence. Meanwhile, the daffodils are blooming like crazy despite the rain and wind. Trillium decorate our trails, and in local creeks, skunk cabbage plants are starting to spread their giant leaves and send up bright yellow flowers that do indeed smell like skunk spray.
Happy spring to all. May your storms ease, your snow melt and the sun make everything bloom.

We all lost an hour, but I gained a year in California

When the time changed last Sunday, I was in California. It happened to be my birthday, so I not only lost an hour of sleep but added a year to my age. Now I’m a nice even number.
When you’re my age, birthdays aren’t what they used to be. My mother, who used to make sure birthdays were special, has been gone for almost 12 years, and my husband, who did his fumbling best, has also passed away. My dog doesn’t do birthdays. In recent years, I have had some great celebrations with my friends and some quiet ones with myself. Many years I have bought myself a tiny cake and eaten it alone, but don’t cry for me, Argentina. I enjoyed every bite.
This year, I found myself in California with the family. I had heard about a poetry workshop that sounded wonderful, realized I could arrange the time off from work to do it, and could combine it with a visit with Dad, whom I last saw at the hospital after his heart surgery in December. The fact that my birthday fell on the day after the workshop was a coincidence.
Dad is doing great, by the way. The sparkle is back in his blue eyes, and he mowed the lawns while I was at my workshop. The fact that he feels well enough to do yard work again is a darned good birthday present. Anyway, it was Sunday. We got up early and went to church at St. Martin’s. Then we took our usual trip to the cemetery to visit Mom and the rest of the gang.
By then, my brother and his wife were on their way. After they arrived and I opened my gift of scarves and fuzzy socks, we sat around and talked a bit, debated a while over where to have lunch, and ended up at Red Lobster. It’s a lot more expensive than the commercials imply, but the food was fabulous. After gorging on shrimp and lobster linguini, I was encouraged to order dessert. My red velvet cake in a jar—seriously cute—arrived with a single lighted candle on top, and the servers sang “Happy birthday.” I heard my sister-in-law, brother and father singing along, a first. Unlike me, they don’t sing. So nice.
Back home, I talked to my lifelong friend Sherri on the phone. She moved to Texas three years ago. She’s about six weeks older than I am, and we always call each other on our birthdays. We had a great talk, although she had sad news. Her old dog Gus died. She has a new pooch named Pepsi. Much worse, her older brother is dying of cancer. Nuts. Getting old is tough. I was sitting in the patio looking out at the lawn and reminded her of those summer evenings when we used to play badminton out there until it got so dark we couldn’t see the birdie. I can still feel the grass on my bare feet and the moths rising up around us. Those were the days, we agreed. No troubles, at least none that mattered. Thank God we’re still friends.

My sweetest birthday gift was the one I gave myself, that poetry workshop led by Ellen Bass and Roger Housden. If you’re into poetry, check them out. Great people, great poems, great workshops. Of course Dad’s response was “Poetry???? What do you get out of that?” Never mind. The workshop took place at Dominican University in San Rafael, which happens to be where I attended one of my first writing conferences in the 1970s and won first prize in the poetry contest. So, I had good memories. Of course, nothing looks the same and the drive through Bay Area traffic added a few gray hairs, but Dominican is still a quiet world of trees and squirrels and stately old buildings.
For seven hours, we poets talked, wrote and shared what we wrote. We could write anywhere we wanted, so people spread out on the lawn, the stairs, and the benches scattered around. Most of us were boomers, nearly all women about my age who knew the value of a day with nothing pulling at us. We had time to think, time to write, and time to make new friends. Two of us were celebrating birthdays on Saturday, and mine was Sunday. Lots of Pisces are poets. For me, that day was the perfect gift.
So, I have survived another birthday in good health. And the Facebook good wishes are still pouring in. Thank you to everyone. I am blessed.

Focus! Running on Overload, as Usual

My life is like a kaleidoscope, full of different images that come out different every time I look. What I need is a telescope that focuses on just one thing.

You see, I have this problem. I keep signing up for stuff and starting new projects, then find myself so overwhelmed by all that I have to do that I can’t do anything but play Spider Solitaire or read posts about the latest episode of “The Bachelor.” Or, I spend all my time getting organized and don’t have time left to do anything. But look at all these nifty folders with their neat little labels.
This morning I’m longing for one great thing to focus on, and I don’t know what that is. Part of this is post-novel depression. My new novel is finished as far as I can go for the moment. Now I’m in the marketing phase, which consists of a lot of sending things out and waiting for responses.
I’ve got a million other things to do. Okay, not a million, but I’ll bet I could come up with a hundred. The list of writing projects is endless, I’m teaching at the CatholicWriters Conference and the Northwest Poets’ Concord in the near future, I have countless songs I want to learn or get better at, I’ve got work to do for my music minister job, I have friends and relatives I should call, yoga I should do, more books than I could read if I live to 150, errands I should run, and the house needs lots of TLC. Now I’m the new acting president of Writers on the Edge, which is looking very much like another job. It’s wonderful. I’m happy about it, but it’s time-consuming. Plus Annie always wants to snuggle, eat, or go for a walk.Generally I finish everything that needs doing, but the non-essentials get put on indefinite hold. For example, I haven’t washed last night’s dishes yet. I was busy watching the Academy Awards and folding laundry. And responding to emails during the commercials.
Anyway, my most recent agreement was signing up for the A to Z blog challenge. Oh yes, I did. It happens in April. (Isn’t that the month I’m doing the Poem a Day challenge?) The bloggers who sign up agree to publish a post inspired by a letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. We will also visit each other’s blogs, comment, share, and add them to our blogrolls.
I know, I know. I already see a therapist. Besides, I know I’m not the only one addicted to staying busy.  Do you say yes too much for your own good? Please share in the comments and make me feel better.
I thought I’d warm up for the A-to-Z challenge by starting with numbers. Today’s number is one. One task down, 99 to go.
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