I’m How Old? How Could That Be?

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

This Wednesday at 4:10 a.m., I will turn 70 years old. I don’t feel 70—except for my knees and my back—but every old person says that. Our spirits are ageless. Inside, we’re still 6 and 13 and 28 and 49 . . . .

But the number scares me. When I was a kid, 70 was old/the end of life. There was nothing beyond it. Now, maybe because there are so many of us 70-something baby boomers, maybe because a lot of the diseases that used to kill people early don’t anymore, 70 is barely a tiptoe into seniorhood. We could last another 30 or 40 years. My grandfather made it to 98, my dad to 97, his cousin to 96. On the other side of the family, the numbers aren’t as good, but we won’t dwell on that. Nobody knows when they’re going to die. I don’t know how people who don’t believe in God live with the uncertainty.

My 70-something friends are welcoming me into the cool kids’ club. Most are still very active, despite a few aches and pains. The other day when I walked into my friend’s house with a cane due to my gimpy knee, she brought out six different sprays and creams designed to relieve pain. I took two home; they kind of worked. She also talked about slipping off her diet to eat “pot cookies.” We both talk about buying campers and hitting the road. We grownup hippies are too young to be old.

But I read the obits. People my age die. People my age need hip replacements. People my age get cancer. Or not. I worry more about how most young people perceive 70, the same way I did: old/at the end/finished. I don’t want those perceptions to get in my way.

I’m just getting started. I have done a lot in my 70 years. If God calls, “Time!” I have done enough, but there are so many more books to read and write, songs to sing, people to meet, and places to go. I want to see how today’s children turn out. I want to see how “This is Us” and “Grey’s Anatomy” end. I want to know if my hair will ever turn completely white. The turn of the odometer just reminds me not to waste a minute.

So, here comes 70. I’m planning to go to Mass, hike in the woods a bit, have lunch with friends in Waldport, and, if the weather cooperates, read or play a little music in the sun. Just like I would have done when I was 69. If any locals would like to join us for lunch, let me know so we can save you a seat.

Here are some fun quotes about turning 70: https://seniors.lovetoknow.com/senior-life/turning-70-quotes-celebrate-joy-laughter

WebMD offers a list of the scary changes one can expect between 70 and 80. You don’t have to click on that. Instead, I offer Janet Harrigan Davis’ Pinterest board full of fun and inspiration about being 70.

Check out all these famous people who are in their 70s. Tom Selleck is older than me??? Meryl Streep! Dolly Parton! Go, us!

Whether you are younger, older, or the same age as me, what do you think about age 70? Is it “one foot in the grave,” no big deal, or something to cheer about? Let’s talk about it.

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What Would Be Your Celebrity Brand?

If you were to have your picture on a magazine cover, what would the headlines say?

Designing my fake magazine cover was the assignment recently for a platform-building workshop I’m taking (“Platform” is writer jargon for how to make yourself a household name). I thought it would be fun, but it was mostly frustrating, not only because of the technical challenges—no, that’s not the size I wanted the photo to be! Wait, where did my headlines go?—but because I couldn’t boil myself down to one or even two topics.

Writer or not, I invite you to try it. Definite yourself in one meaty sentence? XXX is the one who ___________________________.

As a reporter, I liked to write about everything. I loved the variety. I still write about many different topics. See my website. But in the book world, folks want to pin you to one thing. I’m the childless writer. I’m the Portuguese writer. I’m the writer who helps other writers. I’m the poet, the memoirist, the novelist, the essayist, the blogger. I’m the dog mom. I’m the musician.

Trying to cover all these different areas might explain why I fall asleep in front of the TV when I finally give up trying to work. But how do I make one platform that will hold everything? If my feet are on 10 different pieces of wood—wait, I don’t have 10 feet. If I’m rowing in 10 different directions, I’ll never get anywhere. But every direction is just as important to me. Can I just call myself “diversified” or do I need to find a central, defining stream that will carry me to glory? You know what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket.

Maybe I’m like a star radiating out in all directions. I’m the hot burning center. That sounds too egotistical. But what is the central thread that I can share with the reading world? What is my brand?

Writer. Troubador. Communicator. How about . . . truth-teller?

How about the representative for . . . 70-year-old, childless, widowed, Portuguese-Basque-Spanish-Mexican-German American, Catholic, left-handed, arthritic, nearsighted, hearing-impaired, pastry-addicted San Francisco Bay Area natives living on the Oregon coast, writer-musician-dog moms?

That doesn’t fit on a magazine cover. I’m not even sure it would fit in a Twitter tweet.

The photo here is not great quality because I took a picture of it on my computer screen. I tried two different websites and both let me design a whole cover, then asked me sign up for a membership before I could keep it as my own. I don’t plan to make a career of designing magazine covers, especially ones with my face plastered all over it. Who does that?

Well, Oprah Winfrey has an actual magazine with her name and face on the cover. It recently ended its print version, but it’s still publishing online. Nobody pins Oprah to one subject, do they? Her brand is “Oprah!”

Then we have Martha Stewart, whose name is synonymous with a lot of things. Cooking, stationery, sheets and towels, jail . . .

Imagine if we all published magazines with our names on them, and they were lined up on a shelf at the grocery store. Sue, Oprah, George, Mike, Pete, Martha, Angelina . . .

We are each the hot shining star of our own universe, but readers are likely to skip to the next shelf for the latest recipes, celebrity news, or sports updates. News you can use, as we used to say back at the Milpitas Post in the 1970s when I was just a reporter and newlywed who sang in a choir. It was easy to define who I was then, back in the days when platforms were made out of wood.

May I’m just a “well-rounded person.”

A little too well-rounded, my doctor might say.

If you were to design your own magazine cover, what would be on it? What photo would represent you the way you want people to see you? What would the headlines say? Try it, using one of the websites below or an app on your phone or tablet. If you find a no-strings program, let me know.

Share if you can. It’s fun and much easier than Wordle (where my score was 100 percent until Sunday’s word shorted out my brain (It was “tacit”).

https://www.canva.com/create/magazine-covers/

https://www.yourcover.com/cover-editor

If you have Apple products, try this: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/cover-me-your-fake-popular-magazine-cover-maker/id842425115

https://techpp.com/2009/03/08/15-websites-create-fake-magazine-covers-own-photo/

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Annie and I went back to the vet last week. She got her last three stitches removed. The wound is doing so well she should be cone-free by Friday. BUT, she tore her cornea slightly poking her face into the bushes and now we’re on a regime of eye drops that she truly hates. That will heal, too. She is rapidly approaching 100 “reactions” on Facebook to the picture I posted last week on her 14th birthday. She’s 98 years old in dog years.

Annie deserves her own magazine cover.

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If Only We Could Believe What They Offer on the Phone

Photo by Reynaldo #brigworkz Brigantty on Pexels.com

This morning during my writing time, my phone rang. San Diego, it said on Caller ID. Those calls with city names are usually the car warranty scam, a credit card scam, or the Medicare scam. 

After a while, I noticed there was a voicemail waiting for me. The phone rang again. San Diego. I decided to get it over with to stop the interruptions. 

The young voice said, “Good afternoon!” It was 10:30 a.m. I said, “It is not afternoon.” Which means, I know you’re not in San Diego because it’s 10:30 a.m. there, too. 

Oh, she said. She proceeded on a long introductory speech that was so fast I couldn’t understand many of the words. It wasn’t that I couldn’t hear, even though I hadn’t put my hearing aids in yet. The voice was piercing, almost unbearably loud. 

She raved about my books. She knew all the titles and who the publishers were. She knew my sales statistics. She wanted to help me sell more of these wonderful books. She wanted to offer them at the Tucson Festival of Books and the LA Times Festival of Books, both coming up soon. She wanted to know if I had ever been to those festivals. Tucson yes, LA no. She wanted to know what I had been doing to promote my books.

I kept telling her I was busy and didn’t have time for this long conversation. I told her I wasn’t going to any book festivals in the near future. I wouldn’t have to attend in person, she said. They would take care of it for me. But I would have to decide immediately because the registration deadline is very soon.   

If my books are going to a festival, I want to go, too. I want to talk to readers, and I hope readers want to talk to me.  But that’s not the point. Her voice was hurting my ear, and I had work to do. Finally I was able to understand the name of her company. ReadersMagnet. As she kept talking, I looked them up online. A site for writers warned that this was a scam. They want hundreds of dollars to plop your book in a booth. Don’t do it. 

The ReadersMagnet website insisted, “This is not a scam!” They help authors. I clicked the link to their Facebook page. Lots of posts about book festivals. Their profile says they have published hundreds of books in the last two years. Hundreds? How good could those books be when most publishers, aside from the Big 5, put out a handful, maybe a dozen in a year?

Oh, now she was talking about how my book Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both would appeal to parents. No, no, no. My book is for people who do NOT have children.They are not parents. 

Before they sue me for libel, I can see that ReadersMagnet does publish books, and it does promote them. But when you haven’t approached them first and they push you to commit to spending money with them, it seems a little off.

I gently hung up. Thirty seconds later, the phone rang again. San Diego. I did not answer. 

This is not the first time I have gotten calls from people raving about my books and wanting to help me sell them. It’s so frustrating. Every author wants that phone call where an editor or publisher wants to publish your masterpiece and make you rich and famous. It’s the stuff we dream about. That companies exploit these dreams to make money is just wrong.

I wasn’t going to publish a blog post today, but I needed to rant about this. My phone rarely rings, but when Caller ID shows no name or just the name of a city, I’m either not going to answer it or I’m going to be rude, depending on my mood.  

 Writer friends, have you experienced this? Writers and readers, have you heard of ReadersMagnet? How do you know the difference between a scam and someone who really wants to help you? 

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Sometimes You Just Need Another Set of Hands

After our walk last Saturday, I unleashed the dog and left her alone while I sprinted to the restroom. Normal, right? Not when the dog is recovering from surgery and can NEVER be without her big plastic collar when she’s off the leash. For a moment, I forgot.

When I came out, she was twisted around in position to lick whatever she could reach on her back end, including the conglomeration of stitches, drains and healing cuts I had been carefully guarding for 10 days. In a second, it could all be destroyed, and we’d have to start over.

I lost my mind, running down the hall, shouting, “No, no, no!”

It was okay. Maybe she didn’t get to it, or maybe she saw her incision for the first time and paused, thinking, “Holy cow. What happened here?” Maybe God grabbed her and said, “No!” I don’t know. I put the collar on and burst into tears, hugging Annie’s plastic-shrouded face. “It’s hard. It’s so hard,” I sobbed as the dog sniffed my wet cheeks.

As I calmed down, I discovered my new mascara is not waterproof. I had black stuff all over my hands and face. I didn’t check when I bought it. Why would they even sell mascara that melts when you cry? (Here’s why).

Why was I wearing mascara during Covid? Before our walk, I was on Zoom for a four-hour workshop, and when you have to look at your own face for that long, you do the best you can to make it tolerable.

After I calmed down, I left Annie alone while I went to the grocery store and the pharmacy, but I still felt the weight of being the only human in the house. I have only felt comfortable leaving her for short trips for a few days, and I pray hard that her wound will be okay when I get back. If someone else were here, they could watch the dog while I take care of other things. But it’s just me and Annie.

Thinking about it later, I decided it’s okay if sometimes I cry or curse or even throw things because being alone is difficult. Ask any widow living by herself, especially if she has no adult children nearby. You’re responsible for everything, whether it’s fixing the car or cooking dinner, figuring out the health insurance or cleaning the bathroom, mowing the lawn or walking the dog. I love my independence, but some things are just easier with other people around.

After I finish the novel I’m working on, I plan to write a book about living alone. I want it to be upbeat, with more emphasis on what we can do alone than what we can’t. I hope it will make people laugh.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for ways to make living alone easier. Should I rent a room, move to a senior community, try online dating or what? I love my home in the forest, but it’s a bit much for one person who would rather be writing, playing music, reading, or enjoying nature than doing 101 chores.

If anyone knows a handyman (or woman) in the Newport area who is skilled, dependable, and doesn’t make me afraid to let them in the house, let me know. I have tried several who were worse than no one.

If you live alone, please share in the comments what you find the most difficult to handle. Let’s see if we can help each other figure it out.

Back to Annie. She is doing fine. We go back to the doctor on Thursday to remove her stitches. Annie being Annie, she will still have to wear the cone for a while to keep her from licking the area, but relief is coming. The tumor was not cancer, just a really ugly benign fatty lipoma, so she should live to drive me crazy well past her 14th birthday next week.

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We Survive January’s Storms and Carry On

No shame in wearing the cone of shame

It’s the last day of January. The holidays are already a fuzzy memory. What did I do for Christmas? New Years? Um . . .  

So far, 2022, despite the mellifluous sound of its numbers, has been a rotten SOB. 

  • Storms, storms, storms, with wind damage, roads collapsing, landslides and a lot of wet feet and wiping off the soggy dog. See earlier post.
  • Much worse storms elsewhere in the country causing destruction from which it may take years to recover. 
  • Insane Covid numbers and some people still refusing to get vaccinated. 
  • My brother-in-law died. My friend’s sister died. My sister-in-law’s uncle died of Covid after that branch of the family’s  Christmas celebration sent him and two others to the hospital. The others are okay now. 
  • Eight writing submissions have been rejected. (But two were accepted, so maybe that’s okay).
  • A tumor on my dog’s hip was diagnosed as cancer and then not and then maybe. After a month of blood and ooze from the ugliest-looking bump ever–think blood sausage–it was surgically removed. Her heart nearly stopped under the anesthesia, but the doctor was able to bring her back to a safe pulse rate. Now she has a huge, oozy incision with drains and smaller cuts around it. She has been wearing the big collar, aka cone of shame, for over a month and will continue for at least two more weeks. We are $3,000 into this now, but she’s worth it. Annie will be 14 on Feb. 16. That’s 98 in dog years.
  • My hot tub cover slipped while I was closing it one icy night and clobbered me in the head, giving me a headache and a two-inch cut from my hairline to my nose that just missed my eye. This led me into all kinds of dark thoughts about the danger of living alone. 
  • My annual doctor visit resulted in another pill to take and referrals to three different specialists. None of it is life-threatening, but it is all annoying and takes away from my writing time. Getting older is a drag, but there are still so many great things to do that I am not ready for the alternative.

So January has sucked, BUT there are good things. 

  • The cut on my forehead is healed and fading away. I did NOT get badly hurt by the hot tub cover. Since that incident, I have taken steps to make the cover much safer to deal with.
  • Post-surgery, Annie and I may finally see the end of this oozy mess and get rid of the cone of shame.
  • I have not gotten Covid. So far. With all my shots, if I do get it, I believe it won’t be too bad.
  • My new air fryer arrived on Thursday and I’m having fun trying new things in it. It’s pretty slick. I welcome your recipes and suggestions.
  • I am making great progress on my new novel, the sequel to Up Beaver Creek. Dare I confess that I love this book? I think you will, too. 
  • The bulbs are sprouting in my garden, which means spring is coming. 
  • I have wonderful friends, in-person and online. Annie does, too. She has more Facebook fans than I do, with over 100 reactions to my post about her surgery. 
  • A new episode of “The Gilded Age” will appear on HBOmax tonight. 
  • The tsunami that drifted over from Tonga Jan. 15 did not damage the Oregon Coast.
  • I’m still here, writing by the fireplace, dog at my side, guitar and piano nearby, forest out the window. Two hummingbirds just hovered at the window. God is good. 

Enough of me and mine. How has January been for you? 

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Genealogy Search Yields Another Author in My Family Tree

I have always believed I was the only writer in the Fagalde family. I was wrong! Looking for a missing in-law led me to Genealogybank.com, which led me to discover May Eliza Frost, aka Mrs. Glenn Fagalde, who wrote pulp fiction under the name Eli Colter. And she wrote it in Oregon! Our names have both appeared in the Oregonian!

In a clip from the society pages of the March 29, 1936 Oregonian, the columnist writes about a gathering of authors that included Mrs. Fagalde. “Eli Colter (Mrs. Glenn Fagalde) is just as individual a personality as her many novels. Although she is known for her western stories of characteristic flavor, she has also distinguished herself in the writing field of the supernatural. The titles alone of her novels intrigue all ages from 8 to 80. Bad Men’s Trail, The Adventures of Hawke Travis, and Outlaw Blood are typical examples of this unique woman writer doing westerns with a swagger.”

Back in the olden days, many women writers felt the need to take male pen names in order to get published and respected. I imagine readers would have trouble believing Wild West and supernatural stories written by a woman named May Eliza. It’s such a sweet name. But Eli’s characters are anything but sweet. 

It’s fascinating to realize she was spinning her tales in the years when my dad was young, reading those old hardcover westerns with blue or green covers. He might even have read something by Eli Colter, with no idea she was married to one of the Oregon Fagaldes. 

I just finished reading The Adventures of Hawke Travis, originally published in 1931. This is a real Wild West tale. Hawke Travis is a roaming gunman and gambler who doesn’t mind breaking the law for a good cause or killing a man who deserves it, but he will never double-cross his friends or kill for no reason. If the law ever catches up with him, he’ll probably hang, but he has a gift for slipping away just in the nick of time. Hawke claims to have been a teacher, a lawyer and a few other things, changing like a chameleon to fit in whatever place he wanders into, but beware those black eyes and the Colt 44 he keeps tucked in his waistband. Is the story realistic? No. But it’s pure pleasure to read. The old-time language trips off the tongue. It feels as if the narrator is sitting right next to you telling the tale. And if they appropriate Spanish words–calling each other “hombre” and such–and use “that’s mighty white of you” as a compliment, well, we have to consider the era in which the stories were written and let it go. At least the few women we encounter in Hawke’s adventures are feisty and damned good shots. 

When I first read about Colter’s books, I thought they would be difficult to find. But Amazon.com has them. So do various other booksellers, thanks to Colter’s estate and publishers keeping the books in print. I may have to read some more. This is very exciting to me, even if the Fagalde name isn’t mentioned in conjunction with her work. 

In addition to westerns, Colter wrote stories of the supernatural for pulp magazines like Weird Tales. Black Mask Magazine, and Strange Stories. Through the miracle of the Internet, I downloaded “The Last Horror.” Shiver. Look out, Ray Bradbury. 

In a bio of Colter at the Weird Tales website, the writer says Colter’s tales in Strange Stories alternated with those of an author named Don Alviso. Both sets of stories came from the same mailing address because Don Alviso was actually Glenn Fagalde, her husband. Alviso was my great-great-great grandmother’s maiden name. 

The couple eventually left Oregon for Azusa, California, where their household became the center of a writer’s colony. Glenn Fagalde died in 1957, and “Eli” lived on to 1984. By then, I was writing my own stories in San Jose. 

Times have changed. I feel no need to write under a man’s name, although I like the sound of “Sam Lick” or how about “Slick Lick.” Very macho. How about Dona Fagalde? At most writers’ gatherings now, live or on Zoom, most of the participants are women. But I’m proud of May Eliza. She had spunk and could spin a damned good yarn. 

You know what else? In her younger days, she played the piano and pipe organ in movie houses to make her living. We have the piano in common, too. 

We tend these days to think everything that happened before the turn of the current century is too old to pay attention to, but there’s gold in them thar old books. 

Read any good old books lately?

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Why Would Writers Compete for the Most Rejections?

“I’m up to 60 rejections for my writing so far this year,” I said.

“Oh my God! I couldn’t take it. All that rejection.”

“I know. It’s crazy.”

But true. As my friend Cheryl and I sat on her back deck watching Annie nose around the garden and steer clear of the cat giving her stink eye from a chair by the door, I tried to spin my usual story about how I’m selling a project. Like any product, a lot of people will choose not to buy it, but eventually someone will come along who wants exactly that item. Look how many people pass by the handmade earrings at the Farmer’s Market. The earrings are beautiful, but they’re expensive and they aren’t looking for earrings. They want fresh strawberries. Think of my essays and poems as earrings.

But Cheryl was stuck on 60 rejections in six months.

She didn’t ask how many acceptances I’d had. Three.

That was in July. I haven’t told her that I finished 2021 with 98 rejections and a few more acceptances.

I belong to a group of writers who try every year for at least 100 rejections. In poetry, that means for a group of poems, not for each individual poem. In order to get that many, you need to submit a lot, and that’s the point. If you don’t put your work out there, it will never get published.

Cheryl, who lives in the woods down the road from me, is not a writer. She’s a reader and a fan of my books. My dog loves her because she keeps a big jar of treats in the garage.

When you look at it from her point of view, it does sound awful. Nobody tells the plumber after he’s fixed the sink: “Well, I’ll see if I like it and then maybe I’ll pay you.” No. You hire the plumber. They do the job. You pay them. Like the plumber, we’ve done the work. Time to publish and pay!

But that’s not how it goes.

My father, an electrician, had trouble understanding this too. For him, work was only real if you went to a job site, worked for eight hours, and got paid every Friday. After a few years, you were promoted to foreman and bossed other people around. Eventually you maybe even owned your own company. But this business of sending in writing and getting it rejected? That’s not a job. That’s not work. That’s a waste of time.

My parents were proud of the things I got published, but they didn’t understand the process.

I make every submission believing that this essay, poem, or book manuscript will be accepted, that it is a perfect fit. I study the market, follow the guidelines, and meet the deadline. More often than not, a few weeks or months later, I receive an email saying thanks but no thanks. They wanted strawberries, not earrings. Or they love earrings, but they have too many earrings right now. That does not mean my earrings aren’t lovely.

“How do you stand it?” Cheryl asked.

“Well, I have been doing it a long time.”

So long. Since high school. Since the days of typewriters, since rejection slips arrived by mail, along with your wrinkled, coffee-stained manuscript.

But there have been acceptances, triumphs even. Publishers have said yes to my books, articles, essays, short stories and poems. They have included my writing in their anthologies and nominated it for prizes. Readers thank me and tell me how much my words mean to them. That’s far better than eight hours on a construction site or under a sink.

When an editor says yes, I still shriek so loudly the neighbors probably wonder if I’m all right. In 2022, I have already had three rejections. Why bother? Because when they say yes, it’s better than sex.

Writers understand. Anyone can grow strawberries, but some of us are meant to make earrings.

Brevity blog editor Allison K. Williams recently published a good piece on rejections. Read it here.

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2022 Comes Roaring in Like a Hurricane

I lay awake in bed last night listening to the wind push, pull, and tear at everything in its path. It had already toppled the garbage and compost bins, upended the chair and table on the deck and torn the hot tub cover half off. I had gone outside in my nightgown and new slippers trying to fasten it back down, but the wind had no respect for skinny leather straps. I looked around at the writhing trees and said, “God, it’s in your hands now.” 

Just getting comfortable under the covers, I heard another bang. From the window, I could see the exposed lights of the control panel on the spa. I decided there was nothing I could do alone in the dark. I was just a small thing, an ant in a big world gone out of control. I could only tuck myself into my blankets and clean sheets and hope for the best. I thought of the people in Kentucky whose houses were demolished by tornadoes, the people in Colorado who lost their homes to fire, and the folks in New Orleans whose homes were flooded out by Hurricane Katrina. This wasn’t as bad as that, was it?

I felt like the little pig who built his house out of wood, easy for the Big Bad Wolf to huff and puff and blow it down. Go away, Big Bad Wolf!

I woke up at 5 a.m. and switched the radio on to hear the news. Nothing but hissing. Apparently the wind took out the local NPR station. I flexed my arthritic hands and feet. Time to get up and assess the damage. 

The dog was asleep on the couch, the plastic on the protective cone around her neck shining in the Christmas tree lights. There are times when it’s handy that she can’t hear. I opened the door and went out into the wind and rain. The hot tub cover was completely off. In the dark, I couldn’t see where it was. It’s heavy. I will need help to get it back on. But it was nothing for the wind. I could see no other destruction, but it was dark and would be dark for another two hours. I went back in, poured my juice and turned on my computer. 

I thought a lot last night about wind. What is it? It’s just air. We can’t see wind; we can only see its effects, the moving branches, the swinging wind chimes, the shingles torn off the roof, the hot tub cover thrown across the lawn. What is wind? What makes wind? 

I found a great article from the National Geographic Society. It’s designed for junior high and high school students, but I’m still struggling to understand it. “Wind,” it says, “is the movement of air caused by the uneven heating of the Earth by the sun.” Okay . . . 

Then there’s this: “Differences in atmospheric pressure generate winds. At the Equator, the sun warms the water and land more than it does the rest of the globe. Warm equatorial air rises higher into the atmosphere and migrates toward the poles. This is a low-pressure system. At the same time, cooler, denser air moves over Earth’s surface toward the Equator to replace the heated air. This is a high-pressure system. Winds generally blow from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas.”

Now they’ve lost me. But it’s a swell article with details about things like prevailing winds, the Coriolis effect, jet streams, storm fronts (no storm backs?), and nor’easters. What do you call what we had last night? I’m going to wait for the news to come back on to explain it to my poet brain. I just know it blew hella strong and knocked stuff over. Come daylight, I’ll assess the damage. At least, my house seems to be still standing, and the deaf dog slept through it all. 

Dawn: Aha.The hot tub cover blew all the way up against the fence. Even the dog is impressed. No reception on the country music radio station either, but newslincolncounty.com tells of power lines down, streets blocked by trees, and a general mess caused by last night’s southerly wind. 

They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It looks like 2022 has come in like Godzilla, and we don’t know what’s next. 

Remember last week’s playful post about how the weather is a never-ending show? Well, we had more than 12 inches of rain in December, we had serious snow last week, and now we’ve got wind. I hope that was the grand finale.Time for all the actors to bow, remove their makeup and go home. 

Stay safe wherever you are. May 2022 treat you well.

How are you faring in the winter weather? Your comments are welcome.   

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Oregon Coast Weather is a Never-Ending Show

On the phone yesterday with a friend who lives in Texas, I couldn’t help punctuating our conversation about families, dogs and physical ailments with a blow-by-blow description of the weather. 

–It’s snowing.

–70 degrees here, very dry.

–It stopped.

–Still 70 degrees.

–It’s raining, washing away the snow.

–Still 70 degrees and nothing.

–Hail! Can you hear it?

–Nothing in Arlington.

–Oh, now the snow is back. So pretty.

–I don’t understand. I thought you lived at the beach.

–I do.

–I can’t picture snow on the beach.

–Well, it looks like sand, but it’s white.

–Okayyyy. 

–Hey! The sun is out. Annie and I need to take our walk. 

Never a fan of heat, she mostly stays in her air-conditioned house. Me, I want to be outside especially if there’s a lick of sun, but also in the snow, rain and hail. I want to feel it all on my face, be part of life, not just observing it.

As Annie and I were walking down a road graveled for traction, a snow plow passed. There was no snow left to plow. The driver waved; I waved back. The sky darkened. We turned toward home, awaiting the next development. 

The weather show changes constantly here and rarely disappoints, although it often inconveniences. Friends who planned to leave the coast for Christmas saw the snow on the mountain passes and changed their minds. A week ago, floods narrowed our street to a narrow strip of dry land. The ditches and rivers overflowed and roads fell down. A chunk of Highway 101 a half mile north of here collapsed under the weight of the constant rain (more than 12 inches in December so far), and a mudslide blocked the highway south of Yachats. The road between Florence and Eugene was impassable. You’ve got to keep up with changing conditions around here or stay home.

Branches still litter the yard from recent windstorms. When I went out the other day during a moment of sunshine, the rain came pounding so hard I decided to wait for another day. 

On Christmas, when I got home from dinner with friends, it was clear. Stars were shining. I shed my clothes and went out to the hot tub. Bam. Rain and hail. Good thing I was wearing a hat. And earrings.

Climate change? No, I hear this is how it has always been on the Oregon coast. In fact, at one point white would-be settlers declared it uninhabitable because of the weather.   

But my friend, who grew up with me in San Jose and then moved to Texas, finds it all hard to believe. Other friends who live where it snows in feet not inches, where the temperature dives below zero and stays there for months, laugh at our little weatherettes. For this San Jose native, it’s a big deal.

Some days, I stare too much at computer screens, but often  there’s a better show outside. Besides I lost the remote control to my streaming TV and Annie swears she didn’t eat it. Amazon is sending a replacement. 

Whatever your weather, enjoy the relaxing days after Christmas and a chance to clear away the dregs of 2021 for a shiny new 2022.

It was snowing when I started this post. Now the sun is out. Stay tuned.

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Did You Ever Think God Might Be Santa Claus?

Merry Christmas! Today I decided to share a poem, hot off the laptop. May your holidays be filled with peace and joy.

Photo by Laura James on Pexels.com
MAYBE GOD IS SANTA CLAUS

Five days till Christmas, we huddled by the tree,
counting the presents, guessing what was inside.
We studied our reflections in the shiny balls,
blew gently on the strands of tinsel
tinted by the red, blue, and yellow 
bulbs shining warm, leaking white light
where the color had been scratched off.
We had sat on Santa’s red velvet knee,
sharing our requests, and we knew
he would grant them, for Santa Claus
never said no, it costs too much. 

Yes, we saw Grandpa hauling gifts
from the blue Chevy to our door.
Aunts and godparents brought more,
but it was Santa we were counting on
to bring those extra special things,
not pajamas but a bike or the doll
that walked like a real little girl. 

All we had to do was be good
as we sat in our dress-up clothes,
hands neatly folded in our laps
at Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve
where the tree was taller than the sky
and a train chugged through a village
made of houses, toys, and mirror lakes.

When it was finally almost Christmas day,
we went to bed early but couldn’t sleep.
We heard sleigh bells ringing in the yard,
reindeer clomping on the roof,
Santa making his delivery. Oh!
And when the night was finally still,
we scrambled to the heater vent
and saw the ribboned bicycle,
the bulging stockings by the tree. 

We waited impatiently for dawn,
then scrambled shrieking out of bed,
waking Mom and Dad. Come on!
Oh, the joy. Every wish fulfilled,
We didn’t see Mom’s flat stocking,
only her smile as we poured out
pencils, Lifesavers, and chocolate coins.
Can we have one? No, not yet.
First we have to go to church.
We sat in the pew swinging our feet,
looking at pictures while the priest
prayed in Latin far away, and then,
more presents, breakfast, company.

We never knew other kids
might have no gifts, no pine-scented tree,
no Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve.
as we sat in a sea of wrapping paper,
playing with our brand new toys
while Mom cooked pancakes and sausages.
God gave us a taste of heaven
to get us through the coming years,
a memory to counteract the tears.

--Sue Fagalde Lick

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