Why does March rain surprise us?

IMG_20150427_172305014[1]Facebook, that nosy cousin you never asked to butt into your life, keeps popping up with memories of past posts I might want to share again. Sometimes they’re too embarrassing to share, but the practice got me curious about what I was writing here at Unleashed on other last Mondays in March. Turns out this month’s rainy weather is not unusual at all. Here is a quick trip through those past posts and a few updates. Enjoy.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2010/03/   “Simple gifts” Yep, it rains here in March. In 2017. we have had a horrid winter, with several episodes of snow and ice, but so far the wind has not been as bad as usual. My gutters are gunked up again. Rain is predicted for the next 10 days. But miracle of miracles, the blue hydrangea bushes that I was sure were dead are covered with new leaves. The robins are back, the skunk cabbage is blooming in Thiel Creek, and I saw my first trillium flowers yesterday.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2011/03/ “Thank You, I Think.” Oh, the yin and the yang of this one. I have two amaryllis plants now. Each has leaves about two feet tall. They rarely bloom, but when they do, the bright red flowers are spectacular. What really grabs me reading this is my ingratitude. Jill Baker, who gave me the plant in question, passed away last year. [link to that post]. I miss her music and her no-BS attitude. I also need to show more gratitude to the friends who threw me that surprise birthday party only three weeks before my husband died.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2012/03/ “I Missed the Big Oregon Coast Storm” Why is it that every March we can’t believe winter weather is still happening? Re-reading this post, I’m feeling less put-upon by the continuing rain, but I am tired of soggy shoes, and I’m itching for another trip to San Jose to see my dad. [Turns out I’m getting that trip sooner than I thought. See below.]

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2013/03/  “Hugging the Open Mic in Yachats” Dare I say that old singers don’t retire; they just take their guitars to song circles, jams and open mics in Yachats? Four years later, I am still doing song circles and open mics as well as my church music job. As for paid gigs, not so much. I no longer have the desire to play over loud crowds for a few dollars in tips.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2014/03/ “Lost an Earring, Found a New Beach Hangout” Gosh, I’m in a rut. I’m still playing music at church on Sunday mornings, going to Georgie’s with friends for lunch afterward, and shopping at the J.C. Market. I still have those earrings, and I still do not have pierced ears. I still park at Jumpoff Joe’s occasionally.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2015/03/ “The Dead Husband Thing.” Well, that hasn’t changed much. The other day at lunch, I overheard a woman about my age say “when my husband died . . . .” I wanted to run over and hug her. My people! The dead husband club. I know it sounds crass, but these days I feel like I need to tattoo it on my forehead: “Hey, my husband died and I still miss him. If you still have one, you have no idea how different my life is without a husband.” Okay, I need a bigger forehead for all that. It will be six years next month. Hard to believe. I sound so content in this 2015 post. I have not been feeling that way lately. Grief is like the tides. It ebbs and flows, but it doesn’t ever go away.

https://unleashedinoregon.com/2016/03/ “Tucson Festival a Writer’s Dream” I loved last year’s trip to the Tucson Festival of Books and the nonfiction workshop that followed. I loved visiting Fred’s cousin Adrienne and her husband John. I loved the sunshine, the desert, and the new friends I made. I thought about that trip a lot as I was slogging through the rain while this year’s festival came and went without me. Tucson in 2018!

So we’re up to 2017. It’s still raining. The news is still full of President Donald Trump and his crew. Annie’s still sprawled on the love seat in front of the pellet stove. And I’m still in my bathrobe at 10:00 although I’ve been up for hours.

People ask if I’m still writing. If I’m still breathing, I’m still writing.

BREAKING NEWS: My father fell Saturday and broke his leg. I am heading to California to help him. No Wi-Fi at Dad’s house, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post here. Annie will be staying home with dog/house sitter Auntie Jo. Stay tuned. Follow me on Facebook.

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Taking a Vacation Day in Paradise

IMG_20150729_131430517[1]I live in a vacation paradise. People travel thousands of miles to visit the Oregon coast. And with good reason. It’s gorgeous here. We’ve got forests, beaches, parks, fine restaurants, lighthouses, the aquarium, fresh air, moderate temperatures, and more. But those of us who live here frequently find that we rarely pay attention to all of that. We’re too busy taking care of business at home and at work. Beach? Oh yeah, that’s nice. Maybe tomorrow.

But some days are just too fine to sit in an office staring at a computer. Plus a girl just gets tired, you know? So one day last week, I joined the tourist parade and took a vacation day. Leaving Annie sleeping at home, I got in the car and drove south, turning where the muse led me. You might want to try this trip yourself someday.

Heading south on 101 from South Beach, I turned east on Beaver Creek Road, across from Ona Beach. When I came to the fork with South Beaver Creek, I turned right. Many of the scenes in my not-yet-published novel Being PD take place in this area, and I found myself reliving some of those scenes as I drove through miles of estuaries, pastures, forests and farms. The road was smooth and curvy, the scenery beautiful, and the traffic non-existent. I had heard this road led to Waldport, but I had never tried it for fear of getting lost. No problem. Ultimately I came to a T intersection at Bayview Road and turned right. This road ran along the north side of Alsea Bay. Ultimately it came out at Highway 101.

Over the bridge and through Waldport, I came to Gov. Patterson state park and joined the tourists at the beach. I spread out my blanket, sat on the sand in the sun and wrote in my journal, looking up to watch people passing with their dogs and kids, the waves breaking white and full, the sand dotted with driftwood forts. And the woman walking along talking on her cell phone all the way to the end of the beach and back. Luckily, I had forgotten to charge my phone so it was turned off.

When I got hungry, I drove south to Yachats, a tiny town with a lot of great restaurants. Bypassing the Drift Inn, Leroy’s Blue Whale and the Green Salmon, I decided to try Ona. It’s a little expensive, a little pretentious, but the view of the Yachats River and the food are worth it. My crabcake sandwich with curry sauce was delicious. Unlike at my usual hangouts, I didn’t see a single person I knew. Everyone was visiting from somewhere else. Why not me?

After lunch, I drove around the corner to park beside a car just like mine—silver Honda Element—and take pictures. What a place. It’s got to be a sin to ignore it. When the owners of the other Element came up the path from eating their lunch on a bench overlooking the surf and saw our cars together, they did a double take. We compared years and features and shared our mutual love of the vehicles some folks call “toasters.”

Time to return to reality, but first I stopped in Waldport at Well-Road Books, a well-stocked used book store with bountiful shelves and soft music playing. One book after another called to me. I came out with a stack of novels I can’t wait to read.

This morning, looking out at blue skies and everything in bloom, it’s hard to believe it will be gray, raining and windy in a few months. Now is the time to enjoy this place. Isn’t this why we moved here?

Ten Ways You Know They’re Tourists

This is the time of year when the Oregon coast is flooded with tourists. Suddenly it takes twice as long to drive through town. We have to wait for tables at our favorite restaurants. They wander the aisles at J.C. Market in groups, carrying beer and tortilla chips. I look out at the people in the pews at church, and see mostly unfamiliar faces.

Among ourselves, we curse the tourists, especially those slowing traffic with their RVs laden with bicycles, kayaks and little perfectly matched cars. But in public, we call them visitors to be polite. After all, most of us were once tourists, too, before we became born-again Oregonians. And we know, in our hearts, that we are just as clueless when we go on vacation.

How can you tell the tourists from the locals?

1) License plates from elsewhere, mostly Washington, Idaho, California, Arizona, New Mexico and British Columbia. But we get people from all the other states, too.

2) They walk around in shorts when it’s 50 degrees out—with an Oregon Coast hoodie they just purchased for $50 at a gift shop because they were freezing. OR they bundle up for the Arctic when it’s 65, which we consider warm.

3) They dawdle on the roads because they’ve never seen an ocean before or don’t know where they’re going. If from California, they drive 10-20 mph over the speed limit, not realizing cops actually do give speeding tickets here.

4) They’re not white, and they’re under 60 years old.

5) They say freeway. We don’t have one. They say mall. We don’t have one of those either.

6) They want to know where Main Street is. It’s Highway 101.

7) They mispronounce Yachats (YA-hots), Yaquina (Ya-QUIN-a), Siletz (Si-LETZ) and Willamette (Wih-LAM-ette).

8) They come in bunches, filling the whole car or the whole booth at the restaurant, and they go ga-ga over clam chowder.

9) They use a GPS when all you need to know is you’ve got the ocean on the west and the hills on the east and can’t get lost. Just follow the numbers north and south or the alphabetic tree names east and west.

10) They go IN the water at the beach.

I know there are more. Feel free to add your own tourist clues in the comments. Although they clog up our traffic, our visitors keep our economy going, so we’re glad they’re here. We like to share our beautiful home. After all, Newport’s slogan is “The friendliest.” Besides, most of the visitors will flee when the rain starts. If we had spent the winter here before selling our house in California, we would have fled, too.