Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ponderings on Slower is Better

This summer has been delightfully slow, deliberate and full of things and people I love.
 I finally finished a little book I picked up entitled Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The book was published in 1955 after the author spent a short vacation in a small beach house on a Florida island by herself. The book has a lot to say about slowing down and incorporating simplicity into our everyday lives. There are many jewels in this book, but in her last chapter I found real inspiration.
A rather lengthy quote from her last chapter:
"My life back in Connecticut, I begin to realize, lacks the quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on, the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures.... Here on this island I have had space. Paradoxically, in this limited area, space has been forced upon me. The geographical boundaries, the physical limitations, the restrictions on communication, have enforced a natural selectivity. There are not too many activities or things or people, and each one, I find, is significant, set apart in the frame of sufficient time and space. Here there is time, time to be quiet, time to work without pressure, time to think, time to watch the heron. Time to look at the stars or to study a shell, time to see friends, to gossip, to laugh, to talk. Time, even, not to talk. At home, when I meet my friends in those cubby-holed hours, time is so precious we feel we must cram every available instant with conversation. We can not afford the luxury of silence."
"When I go back home, will I be submerged again?..... Not only by distractions but by too many opportunities? Not only by dull people but by too many interesting ones? The multiplicity of the world will crowd in on me again with its false sense of values. Values weighed in quantity, not quality; in speed, not stillness; in noise, not silence; in words, not in thoughts; in acquisitiveness, not beauty. How shall I resist the onslaught? How shall I remain whole against the strains and stresses? For the natural selectivity of island living I will have to substitute a conscious selectivity based on another sense of values.... signposts toward another way of living. Simplicity of living, as much as possible, to retain a true awareness of life. Balance of physical, intellectual and spiritual life. Work without pressure, and space for significance and beauty. Time for solitude and sharing. Closeness to nature to strengthen understanding and faith in the intermittency of life and human relationships.
I have had time this summer to re-evaluate where I am in my slowing down process. After retiring from work, I was plunged into a dizzying round of caring for my sick and aging parents. No time for deliberate living, for thinking or solitude. Sometimes life is like that and we cling to Jesus for a lamp unto our way. But since my parents passed away ten years ago things have been a bit muddled. I have read that women my age struggle with finding a new purpose in life, of being needed. (Probably men too if retired). It's so easy to become addicted to 'accomplishing things', and I have a tendency to do that each day and then measure the days worth by that yardstick. That yardstick is not found in scripture however, but it makes me feel more fulfilled somehow. There are certainly good and worthy things to fill our days with, different for each woman and personality and circumstance. But the key is the slowing down mentality, to release the stress and pressure and evaluate our days by God's measure not ours. I also think this concept varies greatly depending on where you live. The city is the worst, and living there increases the speed of life tremendously. We live in what I would call a mini-city, not in size but in mentality. Bend wishes it were a big city in many ways, and people are streaming here to live, so that might happen some day. The stresses here are much the same as in city living. I think the smaller and more rural the town is the slower the pace of life. Isn't that the true attraction of country living? Certainly not the back breaking work that accompanies living on a farm or ranch. In my own case, I have taken a break this summer from teaching piano, and have found a great freedom. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't resume my schedule this fall, (with the goal of helping more people learn the language of music), but the summertime space and time to think about these concepts, will give me more focused and hopefully God-honoring days, work without pressure, and time for simplicity and solitude as well. I won't get everything done, but that is a lesson I need to learn, just as much as the woman who needs to learn to get more done. Isn't it wonderful how God keeps on teaching us and leading us towards lives lived for His Glory and Honor?
*A point of clarification:  There are concepts in this book that I don't agree with, so read with your discerning glasses on for the nuggets of wisdom.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Poem Shared

This is a drawing our grandson (and Julie's son) Samuel sent to the insurance man for Father's Day. It is a Native American arrowhead, submerged in a stream. It came along with an original poem that Sam wrote for his Papa. I asked him for permission to share it here.

"Here he lies, the old arrowhead
who sits undisturbed
on the quiet creek bed.
Through sun, moon and stars
his path has led.
When he was  young he used to fly
like some bird of death,
high into the sky.
Though from the day he was lost
he was made here to lie.
But now without knowing it
a hope he has got
though lies he abandoned
he lies not unsought,
because we remember the battles he fought."
Samuel Jones 
June 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Oh My... Ice in July!

 We had a short but intense thunder storm yesterday.
 Large marble sized hail, some as big as quarters. 
This does not even begin to show the damage that was caused. It just looks kind of pretty here. Let's just say this morning I have a new appreciation of what it must be like to clean up after a tornado or hurricane, or tropical storm.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Feeling a Bit Domestic

 It's July and it's hot outside, so I typically garden first thing in the morning and try to be inside by around 10am. I am free from piano lessons this summer, and so have decided to do several cleaning chores and some extra cooking with some of my free time. The first thing I decided to do was to try and make sauerkraut like Julie posted on here some while ago. I cut up my head of cabbage, and decided to use the crock above to ferment it in. After adding my salt, I put it into the crock above and weighted it down with agates in a bowl. After all it is summer, and the agates remind me of the beach, the cool beach. I think I left it in the crock for 6 or 7 days. I had never done this before, and I don't think I have actually tasted sauerkraut many times in my life. Certainly never homemade. A real adventure. The insurance man was dubious....

It came out beautifully, not too strong but rather salty. I decided to add it with other ingredients my first time out, so I sliced up some sweet onion and bell pepper, and stir fried them with the sauerkraut all together and added some large chunks of Italian sausage. It was good, but could have used more seasoning. We both liked it. I am going to try a different recipe for the kraut I have left.
Another morning I decided to clean out and organize the freezer. It's so much easier to find things, and to organize the meat we have to use it better. Each year we get 1/2 of a beef, grown by some good friends in Prineville. Anyway, I found 2 packs of soup bones and decided to make my own beef bone mineral broth. 

I cooked the bones with lots of veggies and scraps for flavor, and cooked the whole thing for 24 + hours. My first time to cook it that long. It made a nice rich broth when strained. The recipe said that the broth would gel as it cooled, and sure enough it did. I added the veggies and spices for a nice beef soup and could just feel all that goodness going down. There was actually a lot of meat on my soup bones, not like the photo above, so the soup was really yummy. (I even shared the cooked bones with a couple of black labs visiting next door.) It made a lot of soup, so it went into my nice clean freezer for another soup day.
And finally, I made up some freezer jam. It was and is a good year for berries in Oregon. I made strawberry, raspberry and a batch of strawberry/raspberry combo. We will be enjoying that this autumn.  

Tomorrow I am going to polish my silver in the morning. Next week I have in mind to clean out my china hutch and wash all the dishes. Who knows?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Summer Evening Walk Past Cabins on the Metolius River

 We went camping this past week-end, to the beautiful Metolius River not too far from home. This is one of our favorite spots to camp and hike. There are a couple of bridges spanning the river and good hiking trails on both sides. Each evening we crossed the bridge to the west side and hiked the trail about a mile downriver to Camp Sherman. Along the trail are some wonderful old river cabins that the Forest Service built starting in 1916, but most in the 1930's. People now own the cabins and lease the land from the Forest Service. I love these old rustic summer homes and the touches people have added, and took some photos to share here.
The big screened in porches are wonderful in the evening. Some people were dining out on their porches, and some were empty like this one.

The people that owned this cabin had faced it with bark from the ponderosa pines all over the area. It gave an interesting look. The also made a path down to the river with tree stumps of differing heights, which kept it rustic.

This cabin had a path to the river and then a bridge to the island in the center of the river. We crossed over and saw that it would have made a wonderful place to play for children, in the tall grasses and wildflowers on the island.

 Here's a shot of the other side of the river and what the cabins looked like from a distance. They are not spaced too close together and it leaves a lot of privacy.
 There were swings of many kinds, but this one along the path was so rustic and homey, and looked just like it belonged.
 This one is a rustic gate and fence. You should click on the photo to see it well. The cabin is almost hidden back behind the grasses. The photo below is of the same cabin after you enter the gate. It looks really old, and simple and I could almost imagine one of our pioneer homesteaders sitting on the porch, rocking and smoking a pipe.
 Some of the cabins are a bit more updated with new windows, doors or roofs.
 I think some people live in these updated versions all year round. Please do click on these photos to see all the details, and charm of these cabins.
 Not all of the cabins are wooden. There are a couple like this one made of native stone. It too is charming. They have built on a deck and the furniture for it is all made from the surrounding forest. 
And then we arrived at the small 'town' of Camp Sherman. We stopped for a short break on the Post Office porch, where we shared a bottle of water purchased from the country store, below. 

 After watching the river for a bit, we started back on the trail on the east side of the river.
 It was growing dusk by then and it looked so comforting to see the lights lit and the smoke curling in the cabins along the way. Not all the cabins are Forest Service brown, but the majority are.
Some cabins had great rock chimneys, again made from local lava rock. I bet that one lets off a lot of heat in winter snows.
This cabin had a man sitting and rocking in one corner of this porch. He didn't seem to mind us snapping a photo of his wonderful cabin, with the lights glowing behind him.

 And finally some cabins even had country curtains, although most did not. This cabin had the homey touch of knotty pine interior walls with a brick chimney and fireplace.
Lucky families who own these beauties and pass them on to their children and their children's children. And lucky us, to enjoy the walk and the cabins and the river.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Individual Desires Eclipse Sense of Social Duty

Following is a quote I wanted to share that I appreciated this week.  It comes from the book When Fathers Ruled:Family Life in Reformation Europe, by Stephen Ozment.  My husband read it to me during a dinner discussion that we were having about the differences in the way that children are trained (or not trained) today and the way they have been taught in times in the past.  The main difference we were discussing had to do with table behavior and conversation, but it applies to all conduct and decision-making.  Manners taught in times in the past (for instance, at the table) were a reflection of a greater value system where kindness to the group was more important than individual expression.

"In the sixteenth century children were raised and educated above all to be social beings; in this sense they had more duties toward their parents and society than they had rights independent of them. This did not mean that the family lacked an internal identity or that loving relationships failed to develop between spouses, between parents and children, and among siblings. Privacy and social extension were not perceived contradictory. The great fear was not that children would be abused by adult authority but that children might grow up to place their own individual rights above society's common good. To the people of Reformation Europe no specter was more fearsome than a society in which the desires of individuals eclipsed their sense of social duty. The prevention of just that possibility became the common duty of every Christian parent, teacher, and magistrate."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Southern Oregon Break

Bridge at Gold Beach, Oregon
 In 1962 my family took our summer vacation as usual in Los Angeles, visiting my grandparents. Not as usual however, we took along our travel trailer and traveled down the Oregon Coast. I was 12 years old, and don't really remember much of that trip. The one thing that stuck with me over the years was a trip my Dad arranged for us up the Rogue River, out of Gold Beach, Oregon. This is the place that the wild and beautiful Rogue River rushes into the Pacific Ocean and is one of two rural mail routes left in America along a waterway. In 1958 an enterprising soul thought to make boats that could hold tourists as well as deliver the mail up-river. Somehow my father found out about this, and we were among some of the first tourists to go by boat up the Rogue to Agnes, Oregon about 36 miles up-river. They offered lunch at the Singing Springs Ranch, and then returned us all to Gold Beach. The beauty of the river and the fun of the trip never left me, and to repeat the trip eventually became an item on my bucket list. When the insurance man and I decided to take a short break from the hectic pace of May/June, I immediately knew that this was the perfect time to head to the south Oregon Coast. 
After a few adventures driving over from Central Oregon, we arrived in Gold Beach on a Thursday night. We crashed, and did virtually nothing but eat and rest on Friday. But by Saturday I was ready for a repeat trip up the Rogue.
 I was a little concerned about how it might have changed in 52 years, and gotten more 'sophisticated'. But one thing was reassuring right off the bat, in that the boats were virtually the same (although enclosed in 1962) and still made right there just for their purposes.
 Still the same company, and even some drivers left from the 60's.
They offered 3 different trips, the main one plus two other white-water rafting trips that went further up the river through rapids and took a whole day. We picked the same trip that my family took which started at 9:00 am and returned at 3:00 that afternoon. Our boat was full of eager river travelers, and with slightly cloudy skies and cool temperatures we all dressed warmly in layers. The scenery was as beautiful as I remembered, and we traveled against the current up the river canyon. Our driver was lots of fun, with great stories as we traveled. He also stopped to let us see birds and wildlife as we went. We saw several bald eagles, and a few on their nests high in the tallest parts of the trees overlooking the river. Wonderful views!
For lunch we had the choice of three different places that offered food, and again we chose the one that my family had been to, the Singing Springs Ranch. I need not have worried about changes, I don't think much of it had changed at all in 50 years. We hiked up a trail from the river to the top of the bluff, and there we found a simple buffet and took our meal out on the deck to enjoy the views of the river. Nice people and great memories.

I'm always on the lookout for flowers, and found these beautiful wild rose bushes along the trail with the river below.

You can't see them, but there are green leafy boughs over my head, and the river is below. Can you tell I'm on vacation mode?

On the way back the boat driver did lots of loops and fast turns to have some fun, and spray water all over us. Fortunately for me, the insurance man was on the outside and he's the one that came back soaked! 
Returned safely and satisfyingly, another bucket item crossed off my list.
We stayed in the area for several days, and checked out the towns of Brookings, Gold Beach, Port Orford and Bandon. Lots of hard working people there, and lots of fishing going on from the ports. We had a great dinner one night overlooking the harbor and celebrated our 43rd anniversary. On the day we visited Port Orford, we stopped at a Coast Guard Lifeboat Museum.
This is one of the actual lifeboats used until the early 80's, now decommissioned and on display. Interesting to see how things were stored and how this boat worked to rescue sailors in the worst possible storm conditions in the ocean.
This was the crew quarters for half a century, and is now the museum. They do a great job of depicting life here, and the risks the men took. It also showed some great history of how the Coast Guard protected our Western shoreline from enemy attacks in WW II.
This photo shows the safe harbor at the bottom of the cliff where the lifeboats were stored and launched. The Coast Guard crew had to run up and down the cliff to take supplies and rescue equipment to their boat before setting out on a mission. The lives they saved were impressive.

We also enjoyed walks on the beach while we were there.
 Interesting and beautiful beaches, with lots of rocks and few people. One thing we noticed was hardly any seagulls or sea shells. Just miles of sand and rock.
The views from our motel room were great, and the sunsets just were incredible. 
All in all a good break from routine, and we are back in full summer swing here in Central Oregon.