Who needs words when you’ve got a beach?

Recent trips between rainstorms to Otter Rock, north of Newport, and South Beach, south of Newport, yielded some stunning views last week of beaches scoured by the wind and covered with bubbles that blew around like tumbleweeds. Great for walking, meditating and taking pictures.





All images copyright Sue Fagalde Lick. Republish them without my permission and I will send Annie to eat your computer.

What’s Just Around the Bend?

Having worked through the whole weekend, I declared yesterday Sunday #2, put on my grubbies and did whatever I felt like doing. One of those things was a long walk with Annie way past where we usually go. We traveled from our home in South Beach Oregon down what used to be called Thiel Creek Road, the creek burbling along beside us under ferns and skunk cabbage leaves. The views were so stunning I have to share some pictures with you.

I don’t know where this road goes. A steel fence and no-trespassing signs block the entrance, but I’d sure like to find out. Annie, below, was determined to find a way in.

The spring growth alongside the road is lush this time of year with every shade of green.

IMG_20150427_172429213[1]The road goes much farther. I have driven it to the end, but walking gives a whole different perspective. I think I live in Paradise.

All photos copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2015

Oregon Coast birthday runaway

Hi there. Yesterday was my birthday. I decided to run away for the day. Rather than a detailed narrative, let me show you some pictures from my trip which began at the South Beach Post Office, meandered north to Robert’s Bookshop in Lincoln City, then lunch at Kyllos, some time on the beach, a little antiquing and a visit to the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Oh, and a quick stop at Fred Meyer to grab chicken, sushi and red velvet cake for dinner. I rounded out the day with the three-hour finale of “The Bachelor.” Perfect.

AARP arrives on my birthday to remind me I’m getting older.
                                                                Siletz River just south of Lincoln City
                                                             Pippin, the bookstore dog greets me at Robert’s
Located on the D River in Lincoln City, Kyllo’s offered a stuffed salmon special that was fabulous.
I had a horse like this when I was little. Her name was Susie. Ah, memories. Little cowboy hat, little red boots . . .
You’ve got to go to Granny’s and Rocking Horse Antiques when you’re in Lincoln City.


It was crazy cold, but the wide open spaces at the Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge warm the soul.

Spring visits the Oregon coast

DSCN3881According to the calendar, we’re a long way from spring, but tell that to the plants and the trees, the shrubs and the daffodil bulbs bursting through the mud. Tell it to the robins and blue jays who have returned. Tell it to the tourists who came to town this weekend to enjoy blue skies and balmy temperatures. Tell it to the forest, hushed with anticipation, as Annie and I take our walk on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Tell it to the children who ran around the church hall during our potluck on Friday night, swinging around the poles, shrieking and laughing. Picture them 15 years from now when they’re going to college and getting married and still friends . . .

Tell it to the 27 little kids who went to confession for DSCN3879the first time on Saturday in preparation for First Communion at Sacred Heart Church. They approached the confessional with big sighs and exited with fist pumps, going up to the front of the church to light a candle and receive a certificate as I played instrumentals on the piano.

Tell it to me as I feel the urge to clean and plant, to mow the overgrown lawn and start new projects.

Groundhog’s Day hasn’t even happened yet. I know we will probably have more storms. I know that other parts of the country are buried in snow. But I also know that no matter what the calendar says, spring just called and said, “I’m on my way.”

Dripping with sweat in San Jose

Once upon a time in California, I preferred shade to sun. I touched the steering wheel of my car on a hot day with caution and knew better than to leave chocolate or butter inside. I only wore sweaters for a few days in winter, and I bought a new pair of sandals every spring. I did not worry about things left outside getting wet, rusty or moldy. It rarely rained, only a few inches a year. My natural color was tan, and I believed I was a person who did not sweat. Eighty to ninety degrees was normal, and 70 was cold.
Then I moved to the Oregon coast. I sat in the sun whenever I could. We had plenty of shade. The steering wheel was cool, and you could leave groceries safely in the car for hours. I wore sweaters, hoodies and socks every day of the year while my sandals grew mold in the closet. Everything left outside got wet, rusty or moldy—or grew moss. Fifty to sixty degrees was normal, and 70 was hot. We had one or two days a year over 80 when we languished inside while the bugs went crazy out in the yard. Carpenter ants and flies swarmed our faces and knocked against the windows. But no worries. It would be back to 60 and foggy the next day. Or it would rain. It rained a lot. 80 inches a year. . I discovered my natural color was several shades whiter, but I still believed I was a person who did not sweat.
Not long ago, I discovered it was only 65 degrees out and I was warm. I did not need a sweater or socks. I could wear my California sandals. I had acclimated.
Now I’m in California. My father broke his hip and I’m back at my childhood home taking care of him. He’s healing, but progress is slow. The temperature has ranged from 75 to 95 outside and hovered around 84 in the house, with no air conditioning, minimal insulation, and windows left open all day. The living room faces east, the kitchen faces west, so the sun beats through the paper window shades. I never perspired so much in my life. Under my hair, down my face, down my neck, down my shirt, I’m soaked and salty. Cooking or doing dishes, I drown in my own juices, occasionally stopping to stick my head in the freezer or stand up against one of Dad’s fans. At night, I lie with my head at the foot of the bed trying to grab a hint of breeze from the wide-open windows. Meanwhile, Dad says it’s “cool,” asks me to shut the door, turn off the fan, and fetch his sweater.
A couple nights ago, the San Jose weather forecasters predicted rain. Big black clouds filled the sky toward sunset. A man I passed on my nightly walk broke the Silicon Valley code of silence and said, “Isn’t it a marvelous evening?” “Yes,” I replied, soaking in the cooling breeze and the hint of rain in the air. But it did not rain on San Jose. It has not rained on San Jose for four months. Clouds appear and promise rain, then fade away without dropping their load of precious water. The area is in a severe drought. The yards I pass on my walks are full of dead lawns and dead flowers. Cobwebs hang off of everything. Water is rationed, and people can be severely fined if they are caught wasting water.

It has been a dry year in Oregon, too, but we have had rain. We will have more rain. It will be wet, and it will be cool. I’m sure my lawn is tall and green now and the berries and ferns are poking through the boards of my deck again. Meanwhile, I’m here, completely acclimated to the Oregon Coast, sweating in epic quantities, seeking shade, and wondering how I ever stood it before.

The human body adapts. When my father returned from his World War II service in the Philippines, he could not get warm. He huddled in his father’s heavy coat in the middle of summer and shivered. Doctors told him it would take a while to reacclimate to the California weather. I’m hoping I’m not here long enough for my body to get used to California heat again. It turns out I am a person who sweats.  

A poem from our daily walk: this time the forest won

Annie and I walk most days up a gravel road through an area that used to be all coastal forest. It lies in the airport flight path and was once planned to be a large recreational complex with a golf course, houses and other buildings, but they were never built. Over the years, we have watched big machines rip out the trees and leave sections nearly bare, but the plants always grow back. The rabbits, deer, cougars and snakes return. However, a couple of the old bulldozers remain. I don’t understand this waste of machinery that just sits there and rots, but they are here, slowly falling apart as the forest reclaims its land. Today I share this picture and poem with you. 
Long ago the bulldozers came,
jaws ripping down the pines and Sitka spruce,
merciless tires smashing through
blackberry vines, cow parsnip and buttercups,
leaving a graveyard of sun-bleached trunks
among which the deer could find no food.
Now the hard-hat men work somewhere else,
but they left their big machine behind.
The grass has grown so thick only a rabbit
could run to the rusting steel hulk
to sniff at its cracking leather seat,
its gears, its knobs, a forgotten glove.
Scotch broom surrounds it like a fence,
seed pods rattling against the rails.
Thorny vines wrap around its rotting tires.
Crows perch on the top and shit
while a single purple foxglove plant
dances in front of the deadly jaws.
Copyright 2014 Sue Fagalde Lick (Please don’t republish this anywhere, including online, without my permission)

Coastal Fourth: Halibut, elk and la de da

Ah, Fourth of July on the Oregon Coast.

We started with the La De Da parade in Yachats. It’s a parade unlike any other. No marching bands, no floats, just ordinary folks in their most outrageous get-ups marching in a big circle from the Commons to the park that overlooks the waves crashing off the rocks and around the bend and down the street overlooking the bay. You’ve got your umbrella drill team twirling umbrellas in unison, your tree huggers decked out in ivy crowns, your folks from the pizza place dressed like giant pepperoni slices, your dogs in patriotic sweaters, George and Martha Washington taking a stroll, a rock and roll band playing blow-up plastic guitars, and the local ambulance and fire truck drivers rumbling through, honking their horns. The onlookers are as colorful as the marchers. In a half hour, it’s over and folks are gathering to eat barbecue and homemade pie.

I brought two young friends, Ashley, who just moved down here from Alaska, and her friend Matt, who lives in Davis, California. This was their first introduction to Yachats. They were appropriately delighted with both the parade and the sunny but not too hot weather.
For lunch, we joined the noisy crowd at the Drift Inn. As we ate and talked, this guy came in, shouting, “Fresh halibut!” He carried a gigantic dripping fish over his shoulder as he walked between the tables where tourists ate nachos and clam chowder. They put down their forks and spoons and applauded. He brought in two more halibut. I wonder where he put them in the small kitchen at the back. It would be like trying to fit a Buick into a Barbie garage.
After lunch, my guests headed north while Annie and I took our usual walk, then relaxed with a bit of the “Sex and City” marathon happening on TV. Still to come were the Newport fireworks.
Most years I decide I’m not going to go. Too crowded, too late, I don’t need it. But then I start hearing the popping of the aerial displays. I can’t see anything because of the trees that surround my house. I can’t stand it. I get in my car and drive until I can see some of the fireworks from some illegal parking spot on a hill. This year I decided to go see them on purpose.
By 9:00, it seemed everyone in Newport and a few thousands tourists had gathered on both sides of Yaquina bay with their folding chairs, their glow-in-the-dark necklaces and their boxes of do-it-yourself fireworks. In every direction, Roman candles shot up into the air, little kids swirled sparklers, and big kids lit up things that went boom. The smoke grew thick like fog. The air over the bridge and over the hills lit up with starbursts of color. Dogs barked, kids screamed, and mosquitoes went crazy with so many people to bite.
The official fireworks started at 10:00, lit from a barge in the middle of Yaquina Bay. All around me, people raised their Smart Phones and iPads, trying to take pictures. Me too, until I realized I could either take pictures or actually see the fireworks. Pop, bang, ooh, wow, ahh. I’ve seen bigger displays, coordinated with patriotic music, but this one was good and the company was great.
Then came the applause and the traffic jam, but nothing like I remember back in San Jose when it might take two hours to get home. When I drove into my neighborhood in the woods at 10:45, my headlights picked up a young male elk standing in the street. As I paused, he ambled over to the neighbor’s yard and calmly stared at me as I drove to my house at the end of the block.
And people wonder why I moved to Oregon.

Folks get crafty on the Oregon Coast

The 17th annual Spring Arts & Crafts Festival took place Saturday and Sunday in Yachats at a former school now known as the Commons and used for just about everything.

Yachats, about 20 miles south of Newport, is the kind of place where you find people in tie-die shirts or long skirts selling everything from flavored vinegar and scented soaps to carved walking sticks and jewelry made out of shells and rocks. Walking down the aisles looking for Father’s Day and birthday presents, I saw racks made out of animal parts (including horns and feet), a ukelele made out of a tin can, and a woman spinning wool into yarn. The displays included lots of jewelry, photography, paintings, teas, chocolates, herbal remedies, crocheted items, books, glass, and wood. And oh yes, my friend Ruth whipped out her violin to play a duet of “You are My Sunshine” with the ukelele guy.

The big festivals in Yachats only happen a couple times a year. The fall event is perfect for Christmas presents. But we have weekly farmer’s markets in Yachats (Sundays, Fourth Street next to the Commons, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Waldport (Wednesdays, Community Center, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Lincoln City (Sundays, Lincoln City Cultural Center, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Newport (Saturdays at City Hall, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), where you can find many of the same items, plus locally grown produce and other great stuff to eat. People on the Oregon Coast are crafty, always making something out of whatever materials are at hand, especially when it’s raining outside. I wonder: Did they come here because they liked to do arts and crafts, or did they start doing arts and crafts because that’s what people do here? All I know is there’s nothing like it back in San Jose.

An Adventure at the B-E-A-C-H

As I get into the car with Annie, she lunges at me, soaking my face in kisses as I giggle and dodge her six-inch tongue. She knows we are going to the B-E-A-C-H.
South Beach State Park, two miles up the road from our house, is a vast complex with a campground, trails, a picnic area, and a wide beach that extends from Yaquina Bay’s south jetty in the north to Seal Rock in the south. Cars with license plates from all over the U.S. and Canada fill the parking lot. Young men with surfboards struggle into their wetsuits, families gather up their beach towels, buckets and snacks and troop toward the ocean, and dog owners let their pets run free.
On this day, fog coats everything in a silvery mist as Annie tugs me toward the surf. Like all beaches around here, it’s not easy getting to the actual sand. Some parks have rocks, some have long walks, and this one is steep, hard on my bad knees. But Annie helps, pulling me like a tractor.
Our feet plunge into the soft sand as I scan the horizon for loose dogs. Mine tends to fight if another dog approaches so I keep her leashed and avoid confrontations. A couple large dogs to our left, tiny dogs to the right. We go right. Annie is excited, pulling as I stumble along behind her, letting her violate all the rules of dog obedience.
The tide is way out. It feels as if we could walk forever and never reach the waves. The wet sand shines. Annie pulls hard. She loves water. “I don’t want to get wet,” I tell her. I’ve got good shoes and new jeans on. We come to a puddle. My massive dog (77.5 pounds at the vet last week) throws herself into it, moving her legs as if to swim, but it isn’t deep enough. “You goofy dog,” I laugh.
We move on. Another puddle, another dip. Suddenly the ocean is coming toward us. The tide has taken a curve and the water, looking like a lace slip, zooms toward our feet.

“Come on!” I yell. Annie and I run, but we’re not fast enough. Water and sand coat my good shoes and my new jeans. A handsome man coming from the opposite direction, also dodging the wave, laughs. “That was a surprise,” he says.

“Yeah!” I gasp, still running.
We walk on higher ground now, our eyes scanning the beach. The newspaper says people are finding lots of debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami lately. Boats have washed up on our beaches, along with smaller items like bottles and plastic toys. But I don’t see anything today. Annie finds dried-up crab legs. Earlier in the year, she would have eaten them, but they must taste bad now because one after another she spits them out. I find only shells and rocks until, up ahead, I see something shiny and lead Annie toward it.
It’s a bottle. Captain Morgan Rum. Empty. It’s too clean to have been there more than 24 hours. I collapse on the sand with my dog, take pictures for fun with the rum bottle, read its label. Spiced rum. Best with Cola or straight, it says. I wonder who drank it, who left it here.
After a few minutes rest, we get up. I let Annie pull me up the sand toward the beach exit by the handicapped viewing area and the bridge that crosses a sea of beach grass. We’ll take the paved trail back to the car. Through the fog, I can see the upper curve of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. I hear the foghorn. I bring the bottle with me to deposit by the garbage can at the trail junction.
The trail, which threads through trees and salal, with offshoots leading to the jetty and the campground, is usually easy walking, but today it’s full of bugs. Mosquitoes swarm around my face and hands and dot Annie’s tan fur with black. People I pass on the trail swat and curse at them. One guy runs back to his car for a can of repellent. If I had mine, I’d be putting it on. An itchy bump rises on my middle finger where I’ve been bitten. In 17 years walking here, I have never seen this. But it has been a weird muggy May with days of record-breaking heat interspersed with days of light rain. Global warming? Annie wants to explore every leaf and blade of grass. I pull her along through the mosquito cloud.
In the car, sand falls from my pants and shoes onto the floor mat. Brown water drips from Annie’s wet fur onto the seat. Her golden eyes are bright with excitement, and she pants so hard it fogs up the windshield. I give her a hug and she licks my face. Oh, how we love the B-E-A-C-H.

Y is for . . . Yellow

The A to Z blog challenge is almost done. I’ll be finishing tomorrow at Childless by Marriage. I have also been doing a poem-a-day challenge. Today I am combining the two with this poem about the Scotch Broom that grows wild where Annie and I take our walks. It is considered an invasive plant that should be removed, almost as ubiquitous on the Oregon coast as the wild berries that sprout up everywhere. But I like them. Here’s my poem.


Never mind its reputation
for allergy-causing pollen
or its tendency to ravage
every patch of ground it finds
or its upended broom shape
or the way its seed pods rattle
as the wind blows them open,
scattering plants from road to ravine.

Ignore the talk at City Hall
of forming a vigilante group
to tear the unruly intruders out,
guests that no one invited,
that scatter their golden dust like laughter
and wear flowers so gaudy and bright
against the dark widow sky
that they melt the clouds and make it rain.

Stand in fields of Scotch Broom,
bury your face in yellow
and dance, dance as if you are on the sun.

There’s one more day left in the A to Z blog challenge. My posts have been spread among my three blogs, Unleashed in Oregon, Childless by Marriage, and Writer Aid. See the schedule below, and visit Childless by Marriage tomorrow to find out what Z stands for.

A Newsletter–A is for Annie
B Childless by Marriage–B is for Baby
C Unleashed in Oregon–C is for Crate
D Writer Aid–D is for Deadline
E Unleashed in Oregon–E is for Ear
F Unleashed in Oregon–F is for Fur
G Unleashed in Oregon–G is for Gunk
H Childless by Marriage–H is for Harley
I Unleashed in Oregon–I is for I-5
J Writer Aid–J is for Job
K Unleashed in Oregon–Key is for Keys
L Unleashed in Oregon–L is for Lick
M Unleashed in Oregon–M is for Milk-Bone
N Childless by Marriage–No is for No, I Don’t Know Children’s Songs
O Unleashed in Oregon–O is for Oregon
P Writer Aid–P is for Prompts
Q Unleashed in Oregon–Q is for Question
R Unleashed in Oregon–R is for Rhodies
S Unleashed in Oregon–S is for Shoes Full of Sand
T Childless by Marriage–T is for Talk About Childlessness
U Unleashed in Oregon–U is for Unleashed in Oregon
V Writer Aid–V is for Virus
W Unleashed in Oregon–W is for Weed-Whacker
X Unleashed in Oregon–X is for Xerox
Y Unleashed in Oregon
Z Childless by Marriage

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