#253–Restless Legs Syndrome . . .

I can’t remember the last time I went to a concert or movie––afternoon or evening––when after awhile, one of my legs wouldn’t constantly demand that I move it. And trying to keep it moving all the time is tiring and irritates those sitting on either side of you.  If you don’t move it, the involuntary jerks will really irritate those around you.

I can’t remember sitting down to watch TV or to read in the evening without getting up every little while and walking––usually in circles in another room, so as not to bother anyone else in the room.

I can’t remember traveling by car without having to get out and walk every couple of hours and walking at least 15 minutes each time.

Legs can be a real problem when you have RLS. If you don’t purposely move the leg having the sensations, it will give an involuntary jerk on its own.

I can’t ever remember riding on an airplane as pleasant. If I get up to walk, the stewardesses keep an eye on me. If it’s a large airplane, I move to another section, but eventually, I get caught and asked to sit. Overnight flights are killers. Not being able to get comfortable in the tiny, cramped seats is bad enough, but the real killer is the constant need for leg movement.

Sleeping at night in my own bed was not a problem for me until I underwent five months of heavy-duty chemotherapy. From then on, sleep at night has become a problem––not every night, but at least four nights a week. I would get up and do exercises and then walk. Finally, I found that about 300 steps would do the trick. And I would try to get to sleep before the exercise wore off. Some nights, I would be up walking three or more times.

The absolute worst night for me was when I had my total knee replacement surgery on January 28, 2020. I awoke from surgery and had some food, and they even got me up and had me using a walker to the bathroom. Then as darkness fell, I tried to sleep, but my surgical leg demanded movement, which was difficult since it had blankets keeping it in one position and the other leg was hooked up to a device that kept compressions running up the leg, to discourage blood clotting. Every eight to ten seconds, I would endure an involuntary full leg seizure. I so wanted to get up and walk, It was the longest night of my life.

Sitting and reading is an up and down affair when you have RLS. Hard to sit still for very long.

The next day the physical therapist kept trying to get me up to do exercises, but I was dizzy, nauseous, tired. The next night, I slept for a few hours before the surgical leg demanded movement about midnight. I rang for the on-duty nurse and she walked with me and my walker for at least 15 minutes. I slept. Two hours later, she did it again. Then I finally slept for hours.

When you tell someone you have restless legs, they often think it’s on occasional twitch that is no big deal. Some people don’t see a doctor because they don’t think they’ll be taken seriously.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is defined as a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, because of uncomfortable sensations. It usually happens in the evening or nighttime when you’re sitting or lying down. And moving stops the sensations temporarily.

I’m not the only one afflicted, about 30 million Americans have RLS with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In my case, I’ve had RLS since I was about 12. And by now, my symptoms are considered severe.

Because of RLS, I can’t soak in my walk-in tub as long as I want because of the need to get out and walk.

Causes include certain medications; pregnancy; heredity: and certain diseases such as Parkinson’s, iron deficiency, kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy.

RLS is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease. It can begin at any age and worsens as you get older. For some, it is barely noticeable, and for others, it is incapacitating.

Most people describe RLS symptoms as abnormal, unpleasant sensations in their legs or feet. They usually happen on both sides of the body. In my case, it could be either leg but never both at the same time, thank goodness! Less commonly, the sensations can affect the arms.

The sensations, which generally occur within the limb rather than on the skin, are described as crawling, creeping, pulling, throbbing, aching, itching, and electric. They are rarely described as muscle cramps or numbness, but always as a desire to move the legs.

RLS is generally a lifelong condition for which there is no cure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed by lifestyle changes, supplements, and/or medication.

Lifestyle changes can include warm baths, massage, calming activities before bed, and no alcohol or caffeine in the evening.

There are a variety of supplements. I tried one for years, and it did not do much. I went online recently and found five newer ones that are recommended. I will try the top rated one.

Medications include four types. 1) Anti-seizure drugs like Gabapentin, which is the first line of defense, 2) Dopaminergic agents, which increase Dopamine effect and are used to treat Parkinson’s, 3) Opioids for severe RLS that doesn’t respond to other medications, and 4) Benzodiazepines, which is the last line of defense and has side effects of daytime sleepiness, reduced energy, and affects concentration.

The tiny pink pill is Pramipexole, which is making it possible for me to have a life without RLS symptoms. Hope it lasts!

Since my RLS is now considered severe, the doctor prescribed Gabapentin. I was on it for almost five years and the doctor increased the dosage when it could no longer keep up with my symptoms. The last few months that I took it, it really  didn’t help at all. This past March, my doctor switched me to Pramipexole, one of the dopamine related medications. It worked for a few hours each night but was not strong enough for the whole night. I saw my doctor last week, and now I’m taking the same dosage but twice a day. And I have had no symptoms for a week. Can’t remember the last time that happened. I can’t adequately describe how wonderful that is.

The problem, however, with the Dopamine related medication is that while they are very good at managing symptoms, long-term use can cause worsening of the symptoms. That is why I’ll be checking out the supplements also.

So when someone says they have restless legs, take it seriously. It’s probably more than just an occasional twitch!

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# 252–A totally UNEXPECTED year . . .

Between the writing and marketing, the past three years were busy with my book The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED. This book dealt with 26 places that were so unexpected that even if I knew about them, the first time I saw each one, it was a “What the hell!’ experience. And selling nearly a thousand copies of UNEXPECTED the first year was also unexpected.

My books on display at Backstreet Gallery when I was one of two featured artists for the month. Well, I am once again featured artist at Backstreet Gallery. No reception this year, but my books are once again in the window. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday each week.

But this year is a different story because of the pandemic. With no PowerPoint programs with related books sales and hardly any venues open that carry my books, sales are way down. I’m not putting thousands of miles on my car going up and down the coast and inland delivering books, and I’m not spending all day every Sunday all summer at the Yachats Farmers Market selling books. For all these reasons, my book business is having an unexpected lull.

My book business is only one way in which this year has been so totally unexpected for me and for everybody! Who knew in January how this year would play out!

With the museum closed, I’m not volunteering there every other Wednesday. With Backstreet Gallery only open four days a week, I’m spending less time on duty as clerk, attending only ZOOM meetings, and not helping set up and attend receptions because there aren’t any..  And the Florence Festival of Books held in late September usually takes a couple of days a week of my time all summer long with even more of my time in September. But like with most events with large gatherings of people, it is not happening this year. With all this unexpected extra time, it’s given me a time-out to catch up with my life.

It was April 3 when my ankle, in the shower, started spewing blood. It is still not healed.

Having total knee replacement surgery in late January before COVID-19 became a concern, was not unexpected, but how well it has healed and the lack of problems before, during, and after the hospital stay, all done here in Florence, has been unexpected and wonderful. I had heard a few horror stories. Now the other leg, which also has osteoarthritis, is starting down the same path and beginning to give me problems. It is not yet ready for surgery, I do see it in my future, though. And it will not be unexpected.

At the eight-week point in my knee recovery, I had one of the most unexpected experiences of my entire life when my blood started shooting out of my ankle across the shower in a steady stream for no apparent reason. Talk about scary! It was months before I took a shower without covering that ankle. It has not bled since, but it also has not healed. The scab is still there after four months. And it’s still a mystery. The area around it is tender and makes it difficult to wear shoes. I saw the doctor this morning, and we’re going to give it another couple months to heal before doing anything else.

During my extra free time, I’ve done a lot of reorganizing in the house, working in the yard, and having major projects done. And I’ve had a chance to be creative with my Haiku poems and cards that I sell at Backstreet Gallery and on my blog. Designing cards has been a totally new experience for me, and I’m enjoying it.

Cat litter made of soy. And the pee balls dissolve in water.

I normally don’t buy much online, but these last few months I have begun to do so, just like everyone else. One of the strangest purchases is the green cat litter made from soy that dissolves in water when it is shaken. Every time I see the litter in the cat box that is the color of lime sherbet, it is so unexpected. So far, so good, though! Sir Groucho seems to like it.

Another change in my life is my grocery shopping. I would never purposely head for the grocery store at 7 a.m., but there I am every Friday in a sparsely crowded supermarket with my pick of parking places and no lines at check-out. Everybody wears a mask, and it’s easy to social distance with so few people. The fact that I’m there at that hour is what is so unexpected. I think it’s the least crowded time.

I had to go in the bank one day because the drive-up window does not handle cashier’s checks. So I made an appointment and knocked at the door at the appointed time and was let in. How’s this for surreal: I walk into the bank with my mask on, go up to the teller, and request money. The only thing missing was the gun!

It just looks like an ordinary hose, but it has the personality of a monster constantly showing me how strong it is. It is a constant battle.

A couple weeks ago while working in the yard, I was thinning out dead fern fronds from a deer fern growing out of a railroad tie on one of my back terraces. I felt a prick which stung. Knowing that ferns don’t have thorns, I checked it out. It turned out to be a yellow jacket that stung me. I now know that behind that fern is the back entrance into a yellow jacket nest. From the other side of the old railroad tie, you can see their nest within the tie and the yellow jackets going in and out. A yellow jacket nest! First one in 35 years. That was totally unexpected!

I’ll end with two situations with unexpected twists. I bought a new hose because I was tired of all the leaks in the old one despite replacing a couple of washers. And I have to admit that this new hose, which does not leak, is very strong­­––stronger than me actually. I try to coil it and it is a battle that it usually wins unless I’m willing to fight every coil and take at least 15 minutes. It’s a 75-footer. The advertising says it doesn’t kink. The first time I pulled it behind me while watering, I looked back and saw 10 little loops (potential kinks), but when I pulled, the water only temporarily stopped, and each kink turned back into a loop. That’s a good thing! If I try to set the hose down when it is spraying for just a second to attend to something, it whips around so fast with so much force that I think it could knock me over as well as soak me. I have to turn it to just about off and then lie it down carefully. With this hose, I have to really work to be the one in charge.

My new “smart” printer is probably spying on me as I sit here at the computer.

Then there’s my new “smart” printer that I discovered is smarter than me during the hours of set up. I finally got it to work, but the process was like one step forward and two steps back. It plugs in for electricity, but the computer connection is wireless. I had to chuckle the first time I shut it down. If this printer is so smart, why does it have to remind me every time I shut it down: “NOTICE: When turned off, this printer will be unavailable for printing.”  Duh!

A hose stronger than me and a printer smarter than me! What is this world coming to? Actually, both fit right in with this totally strange, bizarre, and UNEXPECTED year in the age of Coronavirus.

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#251–Getting things done . . .

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You know how sometimes in the middle of the night you wake up and think of all the things that need to be done and picture yourself getting right on it—one project after another. Check, check, check! Then the next morning when you really are awake, you realize that it was all wishful thinking. In my case, it’s just not gonna happen. I no longer have the strength, agility, or stamina to do much of what I want done.

Doing a program about my book Devil Cat in a a bookstore in California last August.

During the last few years, my life had become really busy. Nearly every day I had to be somewhere. And three times a year, I took off for two to three weeks to see family and friends in California, and the third trip would be to take a vacation with my sister. During this time, my knee was starting to make walking more difficult. So, although the past few years have been successful as to marketing my books and enjoying my trips, they have been a frustration in other ways. I had gotten into the habit of putting off anything that wasn’t immediately necessary.

I had put together this four-level shelving, but now I needed to sort and organize my office. Groucho was happy as long as he could get to his perch.

So walking around the yard was a frustration because everywhere I looked needed work. The house needed work inside and out. My office, the garage, the basement, and my walk-in closet in my bedroom were all just begging to be cleaned up, sorted, and organized. So everywhere, not just the yard, had become a frustration.

Two years ago, I started getting things done. That’s when I had the house painted. Last year, I hired someone to pull out all the ivy that was more dead than alive before having Laurel Bay Gardens landscape the two top terraces in the back and weed and replace the gravel below the house and put in railings on the slope in back so I could get down and up easier. Then this year, I had the roof replaced. That was major. And I had the garage doors painted with a semi-gloss paint. I went for a more expensive roof and I really like the way it looks. I also like the newly painted garage doors.

I love the new roof and the newly painted garage doors.

And Todd, who used to just do the weed whacking down below, now keeps the roof cleaned off, the gutters cleaned out, and drains unplugged. All jobs that I used to do. He also uses his blower on the front driveway and porch and front steps. He also power washed the front driveway. It had never been cleaned so thoroughly before. And just yesterday I talked to him about cleaning off and then re-staining the red gates, fencing and door to the basement, which I also used to do, as well as cleaning up the area behind the woodshed which has been neglected for the past few years. He agreed! He has been helping me for more than 30 years.

I used two former bean pole supports to restart the vine, and it worked.

He also makes my ideas come true. About three years ago, I cut back a vine that had become a monster––a bushy vine that grew to two and a half stories high that clung to deck and balcony. I thought it would die when I cut it back to only a stump, but it didn’t. It sent out dozens of feelers. So a few months ago, I had Todd put up two sturdy supports that I used to have for pole beans. I threaded the feelers through. Before long leaves started appearing and now it looks just fine. I don’t plan on letting it get any taller this time around.

Another idea of mine was how to prevent deer walking through one area. I had put up fish line many years ago as sort of a fence to keep them out. It didn’t keep them out and was broken and tangled and looked awful. So I thought about mesh fencing that I’ve seen around construction projects—usually in orange. Todd found some in black that is six feet tall. He stretched it around the metal posts that were already in place and attached it. The new fence looks just fine and keeps out the deer.

I can’t express enough, how good it feels to be getting things done. Now when I walk around outside, I’m pleased with how things look with both house and yard. There is still plenty to be done, but not overwhelming like it was.

Once things are back in shape, I should be able to maintain.

The roofers, Evan and Paul, were the same fellows who painted my house two years ago and repainted the garage doors this morning. Before they left, I asked them about two smaller jobs. One replacing the side door on the garage because the frame is rotting away on one side. And to brace the main support beam in my double-car garage. It has a bit of a sag in the middle, and I worry about it collapsing in the event of an earthquake. So after considering various ways of handling it, they came up with a plan. In a couple of weeks, they will do both jobs. I’ve worried about that beam for the past 18 years; that’s when I learned that it was a potential problem.

Inside, I’ve got the garage cleaned out and organized. And the same with my office. I still have the walk-in closet in my bedroom and the basement to do.

My wooden cabinets in the kitchen needed work, and last year I got them refurbished by a fellow with lots of experience working with wood. This year, I had him refurbish the wood trim around the tile counters in the kitchen and both bathrooms. It had been such an eyesore. I’m so glad it’s done.

Refurbished cabinets, refurbished wood trim around tile counter, and new vinyl floor.

The major project in the house is having new vinyl floors installed in the kitchen and dining room as well as the guest bathroom a month ago. I had wanted this done for about five years. Around the sink in the kitchen, I had created quite a debris field of where I had dinged the floor by dropping stuff over the years. No more dings. I love the new floor.

I also ordered a new wall clock. I loved the one I had when the chimes worked. But for the past few years, the chimes haven’t worked and the pendulum doesn’t work unless the clock is tilted just so. And it is actually too big for the spot and nearly everyone who comes upstairs bumps into it. Then the pendulum quits working and it takes some doing to get it working again. It’s been a frustration.

New clock has wonderful Westminster Chimes.

I decided to do something about it. I replaced it with a similar, but smaller, wall clock with chimes that work. And I’m loving it. I’ll donate the other one to Restore because it still keeps perfect time and looks good.

I can afford everything I’ve done only because I worked really hard selling books the past few years, and saved what I made. And, of course, this year none of it was spent on trips to see family and friends or to go on vacation. By the end of summer, I’ll have spent it all. So I’ll need to get back to selling books again.

I’m really loving getting things done.

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#250–Taming the wilderness . . .

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The mariner motif in the center section really appealed to us.

We had done our research when deciding to move to Oregon, and settled on the area around one of Florence’s lakes as the ideal place to live. So when the Realtor took us to a home overlooking Mercer Lake, we were already inclined to like it. Little did we know that we both would decide that it was THE HOUSE FOR US without ever going inside, and it would have nothing to do with location. For Walt, it was the level spot next to the existing garage where he could envision another garage with workshop. For me, it was the front door. I’ll explain in a one-paragraph backstory.

This is how it looked in 1984, We have changed the garage door after adding a new garage and changed the shake roof in 1996.

Backstory: We had bought a lot in this area four years before in 1980 and put in a septic tank and drain field. We also had drawn preliminary house plans, which included choosing a very special front door. All that was before being told by the county that a building moratorium had just gone into effect. And we would not be able to build because of a watershed situation. When we got over the shock, we were determined to buy a house, already built, and not go through any more aggravations and problems involved with building from scratch. Besides, we lived in California and wouldn’t be moving here until late 1985 and didn’t want to have to drive 500 miles for every little problem.

So there we were in April 1984 on the porch of a house that had the same exact front door as we had chosen for our dream house. The owners had already moved, so the house was empty and we could take our time to look it over carefully. After exploring it with the Realtor, we were doubly convinced that this was the house. It was only 1 ½ years old and had the rooms in basically the same plan we had drawn except this house was split level and ours had been a straight two story. So we wanted it from the get go!

As to the yard, only a small section in front was landscaped. Since the area is hilly with mixed forest, it would be “taming the wilderness.”

In 1985, we had a new garage added to the house. Had to move the septic tank in the process.

We came up twice a year when I had breaks from teaching. Walt would be retiring in 1985, and when the school year was over in 1985, I would take a year’s leave. That way, if it didn’t work out, I would have a job to come back to. If all worked as planned, I would resign the following year. So during that interim period, Walt had his second garage with workshop built. He had just a shell built and did all the finish work himself after we moved in. During that period, he was a very happy camper!

In the yard, I had moved a few camelias in pots that were sitting in the area where the new garage’s driveway would be. I put them alongside the house on the bare east slope. Then I planted some colorful Scotch Broom on that rather steep slope. I also placed stepping stones to help on walking downslope. Along the edge of the property was a bank where salal was starting to take over. I let it grow there, but drew a line at the top of the bank where I wouldn’t let it get past––endless battle. About halfway up the east slope on the edge of the salal, I planted a tiny redwood seedling that a neighbor gave me.

Moving plants to bare east-side slope.

Down below, we had a graveled level area, then a steep slope, another level area, and then it was solid blackberries to beyond our property line. We didn’t do anything about the blackberries during the 1 ½ years between buying and moving in. So by the time we moved in, blackberry vines were actually climbing the stairs. I had nightmares of them covering the house.

When my folks came to visit in the summer of 1986, we picked blackberries and canned jars and jars of blackberry spread—sort of a jam without seeds. Then we worked to get rid of the blackberries that were on our property. What a lot of work! My dad was a big help. I should say we only started to get rid of them on their visit. It actually took several attempts. When we had a big pile of what we’d pulled out, we’d burn it. We did that over and over. Then when we thought they were all gone, new sprouts started coming up everywhere in that back area. I think I took kerosene and dribbled on the plants whenever I saw them for a couple years. ( I know better than to do that today.)

These railroad ties turned the steepest area of the backyard into four terraces.

In 1987, we saw in the paper where a lot of railroad ties were for sale. So we called and had a bunch delivered. Some up front and more down below. Then we hired someone who had helped build the house to construct a RR tie retaining wall out front as part of our new RV driveway and to build terraces down below with the remaining RR ties to hold the steepest part. I remember the man we hired as a big guy and very strong. He could pick up a RR tie in each hand and carry them around. He had a helper, and it didn’t take them long.

The trees were short enough in the front of the house that we could cut down the ones we didn’t want.

On both sides of the house in front were mini forests of Douglas fir and cedar. Most were no taller than 12 feet. At that size, they were easy to cut down. I would grab the tree and saw the bottom and toss. So we thinned out both sides. We left about a dozen trees that we wanted in the front of the house and maybe eight on the driveway side.

Then we had a woodshed built on the driveway side. On the street side of it, I planted four rhodies and other plants. Before they had been there long, a freak summer storm blew over the woodshed. It had not been anchored yet and crashed down on my rhodies. I was out of town and the neighbors helped Walt get the woodshed back up and rescued three of the rhodies. I had worked so hard on clearing and planting that area, that no one wanted to be the one to tell me that all my rhodies had been smashed and ruined.

The new woodshed with newly planted rhodies and an azalea and pinks.

Those first few years, there was always something happening in the yard on all sides of the house. Every few years, we would thin out trees and every year, I would trim up trees. Finally, they were high enough to plant rhodies and other plants under them. I loved the look of the trees as they got taller. And I loved the look of the yard in front on both sides as we could plant under the trimmed up trees.

As the trees grew and we trimmed them up, it provided space to plant under them. I loved being able to do this.

The back area took the most work. After the terraces were built, I had to put decent soil in them. Much of our property is sandstone because it had been leveled. So all good forest duff was gone. I would start with a crowbar and break up the sandstone and wheelbarrow it away. Then I would add all kinds of planting mix and amendments.

The top terrace has roses interspersed with ivy, second terrace was more ivy interspersed with white-blooming perennial, and bottom two were for veggies. The cover on the bottom row is to keep out deer, dogs, and rabbits.

We had a very steep bank adjacent to the terraces that was loose dirt left from leveling for the new garage and RV driveway. So I planted it with ivy and then put ivy in every other planter section of the top terrace alternating with rose bushes. The second terrace had ivy in every other section alternating with a white-blossoming perennial. The bottom two terraces would be for vegetables.

Here is the greenhouse and terraces with picnic table and in the distance, RR tie steps.

In 1988, Walt and I saw greenhouses for sale in a grocery store parking lot. The price was right. They were not beautiful glass, but Fiberglas and resembled septic tanks. But, hey, they would have lovely diffused light and provide the extra warmth needed for warm weather loving veggies—like tomatoes. We had tried growing tomatoes, and all we got were lots of green ones that never turned red.

Walt wasn’t well right after we ordered the greenhouse. So neighbors helped me get a spot leveled for it and to set it in place. Then I spent some time leveling the area and then built steps with RR ties around the terraces to be able to walk between the house and greenhouse without slipping on the fairly steep slope. And before any weeds grew back, I ordered gravel. One of the neighbors, who helped with the greenhouse, helped me wheelbarrow gravel around three sides of the greenhouse and inside it too. And, also, between the steps leading up to the house. What a lot of work! I had wheelbarrowed heavy plants in containers and heavy sod. But nothing is as heavy as gravel. That was exhausting.

Planted in 1985 when it was 2 inches high, it now towers over the house at about 70 feet tall with a substantial trunk. This view is from my dining room window.

Over the years, trees grew, creating more shade, which required changing out some plants. The tiny redwood seedling did well, in spite of being surrounded by salal. It is now about 70 feet tall with a substantial trunk. It shades the east slope and that side of the house. It’s a real beauty.

The ivy in the terraces, which I kept under control, was great for about 25 years, and then the deer started eating it––much to my surprise. Seeing only the gray branches and stems was really ugly. So I had it removed in 2018. 

Almost 20 years ago, in 2001, Walt passed away after numerous illnesses. In spite of friends trying to talk me into moving into town, I decided to stay put. And I made it possible by having help in the yard. I have someone come in on a regular basis for the big stuff. (The same person has been helping me for more than 30 years.) And when an area starts to overwhelm me, I hire someone on a temporary basis.

More shade and flowering perennials instead of veggies. Notice the railing built along the RR tie steps. I absolutely need that to access the lower area. And deer are an ever present part of the scene and must be taken into consideration whenever planting anything.

As it became more difficult for me to get up and down the stepping stones of the east side slope. I hired a lalndscaping company to put in steps and sloped walkways. And last year, I had railings added alongside those steps as well as the steps alongside the terraces.

Anyone with a yard knows it’s a never-ending, ongoing work in progress. But it’s worth it . . . once you’ve tamed the wilderness.

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#249–Gardening with arthritic thumbs . . .

I garden with arthritic thumbs and unsteady legs in a yard where the trees cause a lot more shade than they used to. My back area is on a north-facing slope, so the sun is limited to mid-March to mid-October. And that’s where my greenhouse is located. It was the only place large enough and without trees.

A deer is browsing on the other side of the railing. there are four terraces on the slope between where the house is and the greenhouse. It takes work to keep everything weeded, watered, pruned. And in the case of the tall white Shasta daisies, they need to be tied up or they will blow over.

When my late husband, Walt, and I moved here 35 years ago, the trees were my size or a few feet taller. None were taller than the house. And down below is a steep slope to some houses very close to Mercer Lake. And we had a fabulous view of the lake. Now my lake view is nearly gone. Trees have grown quite tall along the slope between the ridge and the lake. And so have the trees on either side of the house. The alders between my neighbors to the west and us are also quite tall now. When we moved here, they were so short, we had shouted conversations back and forth. It took several years, before the alders blocked the view of each other’s houses and backyards from the decks. Now they are quite tall;  I can only see the house in winter when the trees lose their leaves. The back edge of our property was defined by blackberry bushes. It took some doing, but there are none remaining on our property. So I planted 18-inch high vine maples. along our northern boundary. There were a few years when the deer thought they were quite tasty, but they survived and are now about 20 feet tall.

This shot was taken just after the tree trimming was done last week.

I have changed also. I used to run up and down the slope and two step our back stairs skipping every other step. I used to carry heavy redwood chairs up the stairs to the decks in the summer and take them back down to the basement in the winter. I used to be able to work out in the yard all day long.

I still two step the stairs, but now that means, I place both feet on each step before moving on. The same redwood chairs are on the deck all year now. And when I work outside for a few hours, I have to come in and take a nap. I walk very carefully up and down the slope. Since last summer, I’ve had a railing along two sections of steps and sloped pathways that make it possible for me to go down to the greenhouse and back. I couldn’t do it without the railing.

I used to grow all kinds of veggies in the greenhouse and in the terraces down below. But the shade now makes it difficult to grow veggies.

Last year was the first year not to grow tomatoes in the greenhouse. I only had petunias in there last year. I love petunias. Unfortunately, so do the deer and rabbits. I have some petunias on the decks also. I filled the greenhouse with petunias and dahlias last year. I used to have lots of dahlias, but they need full sun. So they gradually got replaced.

A variety of petunias on one side (left) and zucchini and sugar snap peas on the other side.

Now all my veggie beds are filled with perennials. Most years I have filled in with nasturtiums, but they did not self-seed this year like they have in the past. So I planted marigolds instead.

This year, I couldn’t resist the lure to grow some veggies. So I planted two favorites. I have lots of zucchini plants in the greenhouse and three pots, each with several sugar snap pea plants. They are trellised up tomato cage like structures.

Good thing I just love zucchini!

Last year, I had one very kinked leg because of an arthritic knee. It really restricted what I could do. This past January, I had total knee replacement on my right leg and had physical therapy up to April. And didn’t attempt walking down below until May. My second leg is heading in the same direction and is beginning to give me trouble, so my surgical leg has become my strong leg. It has healed very well.

Now my arthritic thumbs make my hands not nearly as strong as they used to be. I can’t push the trigger on most hose sprayers. I have to have the old-fashioned nozzle style to water the yard and wash the car. I hand water; I don’t have sprinklers. I think it’s not necessary to have sprinklers here, since I only water the total yard in July and August. So far this year, I’ve done it once. I will now do it once a week until the rains come back.

My arthritic thumbs make pruning difficult if the branches are very thick. I have ratcheting clippers that make it possible for me to handle all but the heaviest pruning jobs. They cost about 10 times as much as regular clippers, but for me, they are worth it.

I can still bend over and get a lot done. And I have a bench that I can move along and sit on to do weeding. But I don’t get down on my knees anymore. It’s just too hard to get up!

Yardwork just takes a lot longer for me now, and I don’t have the stamina I used to have. And the trees provide more shade, so I’ve had to replace several plants and change from vegetable garden to more perennials. I just had the trees pruned for about the third time in the last 20 years. This latest pruning will give the rhodies in the front more sunlight. A few of the rhodies had only a few blooms this year and are becoming leggy as they reach for the sun. So it was time for more tree pruning.

Sugar snap peas in their tomato cage like trellis pots.

I wouldn’t dream of cutting down the trees. I love their silvery trunks. Many years ago, I dreamed of a house with trees just like my trees look now. So I’ve waited a long time for these trees to become what they are now.

I love working in the shade because I have a love/hate relationship with the sun. Those of us who live where it rains a lot, love and appreciate sunny days. But I have had about 50 skin cancers, including one melanoma on my face, so I am leery of being in the sun from about 10 to 3. I really appreciate the shade my trees provide—even if I can’t grow veggies and dahlias.

I have someone who whacks down the grassy area below, prunes the larger shrubs, cleans out roof gutters and drains, and blows off the driveway. He also does special projects from time to time. When he first started working for us, he was about 22. Now he is in his mid-fifties and thinking about cutting back.

Friends have asked me why I don’t move into town and have a smaller house and yard or just an apartment with a patio. And I have thought about it. But I like the view. I like my neighbors. I like having lots of space around me, with no neighbors really close. I don’t want to hear someone sneezing or coughing next door. All this space has spoiled me.

I had many more blossoms on shorter, stronger branches on my hydrangeas before the additional shade.

And I like the fact that up here on the ridge, we don’t have the fog that is right along the ocean’s edge and up the river or the wind that comes up in summer afternoons throughout most of Florence. Those of us who live here, refer to it as “paradise.”

So as long as I have the railings to help going up and down the slope, someone to help with the big stuff, and am willing to take the extra time and effort to make it work, I’ll stay here and do much of the gardening myself. I love it here.

Next week I’ll tell about what it was like when we first moved here and the trials and tribulations of landscaping (taming the wilderness) ourselves.

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#248–Crossings Guide updated . . .

Note: To buy books or cards, check the menu bar above.

When you write a guide, you are giving people the most updated facts about whatever the topic is. In my case, when I wrote about the historic bridges of the Oregon coast, I was giving a little history and some little known interesting facts as well as current improvements underway or planned as of 2012 when The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans was written.

Program about the historic coastal bridges and Conde McCullough in Bandon at the library in 2014.

After The Crossings Guide came out in January 2013, I continued giving programs about the bridges. Before long, I became known as “The Bridge Lady of the Oregon Coast.” And whenever something was happening to any coastal bridge, people would ask me what was happening. For about five years, I knew and could answer. It was in the book. I was in the loop.

The last couple of years, though, I realized I didn’t know what was happening at a couple of the bridges. So last fall, I decided to update the guide. I contacted Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and found just the right person—Andrew S. Blower, Bridge Preservation, Corrosion Protection Engineer. I sent him all my specific questions about particular bridges and asked for updates on all the main bridges.

He came through. And I learned that ODOT has a new, less expensive way to apply the cathodic protection. That’s the preservation process that ensures that these bridges will continue on for decades to come. It took me awhile and some back-and-forth emails to get the new process understood well enough to explain it in the introduction of the book.

Bob, my publisher, and I when the Second Edition of The Crossings Guide came in. (2014)

With new information for each bridge to add, I had a problem. The book has a format, most bridges have one page for text and one for full-page color photo. A couple have two pages for text with two for photos. There was no changing the format. In fact, throughout the book, I would be constrained to not have any text go over to the next page. That meant that I would have to delete or condense existing text to make the additional text fit. This is a skill I honed while working at Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines. Lots of counting words. When I had done the best that I could and still needed more space, my publisher, Bob Serra, made the historic photos smaller to provide extra space. Actually, he reworked the text and small historic photos on several of the text pages.

We finally got all the changes made and reformatting done. Then it went back and forth checking for misspellings, etc. When we were both satisfied, we worked on the covers—front and back. Bob is the publisher of four of my books, and we work well together and seldom disagree. The only changes he wanted to make to the front cover was to enlarge the letters of the title and my name and bold some of them. We both agreed that it was an improvement. He didn’t want to add the words “Updated Edition!” I did. So he put them on the back cover in a very prominent way. I liked that, but I lost the battle to have them on the front cover.

The stickers are only about one inch round.

I know the venues that sell my books. They will want their customers to know that this book is now different by just looking at the front cover. So I ordered stickers. They are a one-inch circle that is totally clear with the words “Updated Edition!” That’s it. Very small, very subtle. It fits right in the upper left-hand corner without detracting from the fabulous photo. When I deliver books, I will provide stickers and each venue will have the option to use or not.

That brings us to early March when we sent the revised manuscript to the printer. Because of the Coronavirus, they were running behind. But eventually the books were printed and arrived mid- May—all my venues were locked down by then. My timing could not have been worse.

Fifteen hundred books sit in my garage on pallets.

All the venues that carry my books were closed, the book fairs and craft shows where I sell books were cancelled, and I was not being asked to do programs because no gatherings were being allowed. So . . .

Fifteen hundred books arrived in May and now it is July, and I’ve sold none, zero, nada.  I’m assuming that all venues still have copies of the Third Edition. The updated one is the Fourth Edition. In the past few weeks, some venues have reopened. Books N Bears (every day) and Backstreet Gallery (three days a week over weekends) here in Florence, Cape Perpetua, and Books and More (every day, previously Mari’s Books) in Yachats to name a few. So I will send out emails to all the venues that carry my books and see if anyone needs any more. And, of course, I’ll mention the new updated edition of The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans.

Third Edition is above and Fourth Edition, the updated edition, is below with the sticker in the upper left-hand corner.
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#247–Creating cards is addictive . . .

Six weeks ago, I had no cards. I only had books. Then I decided to do three cards with my Haiku poems that I had written about the Coronavirus situation. That was such fun, I did another card where I used my “Sleep! What sleep?” poem. I wrote about that in last week’s blog. I thought that would be it as far as creating cards.

Then I remembered two photos from a trip I took to Cornwall back in 2006 that I always thought would work well on cards. Up to now I’d only designed cards that used poems I’d written. That way, what I was doing went along with me being a writer. And at the gallery, I’m only juried in as a writer.

I checked, and it was okay for me to do cards that had photos and no poetry, as long as they were on card stands with other gallery members’ cards. I would not be able to have them at my space where my books are displayed.

So I went ahead and designed my two Cornwall cards. Two friends and I spent two weeks in Cornwall where we stayed in one location and saw different towns, hiking trails, estates, gardens, and pubs each day and then another week was spent on a sampler tour of the rest of the U.K.  During our stay in Cornwall, we took in at least three activities of the Daphne du Maurier writers’ conference. We signed up before leaving for England.

One of the activities was a hike to a place famous for its Scrumpy cider. The hike was cross-country—right through cow pastures filled with cows and going over stiles when we encountered fences––as we climbed up over a ridge. I stepped out of the group to get the photo of our group climbing. It was quite an experience and was similar to an experience in one of du Maurier’s writings. As we crested the ridge, we saw the empty chair. I was mesmerized by it and thought of all kinds of reasons for it being there.

Heading down the other side, we ended up in a narrow canyon with a small river at the place that served the apple cider Scrumpy–– their claim to fame. Apparently, this hard cider was developed in western England and originally was rather harsh to the taste and made from unselected apples. Any batch of apples would do. But I had read that Scrumpy had become more refined over the years, less harsh.

After the long hike, I was thirsty and had great anticipation. But when I actually drank some, it was the most awful stuff I had ever tasted. And I generally like cider—hard or not. This time, I settled for water. This Scrumpy must have been made the original way—definitely harsh. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps, the Brits have a taste for that sort of thing.

Both Cornwall cards are from that hike. I enjoyed designing them and liked the way they turned out. Once they were done, I figured I was done with card making. When they arrived in the mail, I put them in their clear sleeves, stickered them with price and number, and took them to the gallery and put them on the card stand. I thought I was going to be given six slots, but it turned out to be 12. Since I used one slot for bundles of three Coronavirus Haiku cards tied together with a bow, that meant I had room for five more cards if I wanted each slot filled with a different card. Hmm!

That evening I went through my 4,000+ photos and found five that I thought were good enough. I designed a daylilies card. I made it small with a background that I think complements the daylilies. I loved this photo because two days after I took it, the deer ate the blossoms and did so from then on. I never got to see more than one blossom at a time after that. So this photo was the only way to see more than one blossom.

The next day, I designed the other four. Actually, I did no designing. I simply uploaded a photo and that was it. No words, no background, easy peasy! I just let them have the white paper they were being printed on as the background. And I loved the way they turned out.

One of the four was my favorite photo from Devil Cat where Groucho is sitting on the 6-inch balcony railing with his tail hanging down on one side and a front leg on the other. Good thing, he has good balance. It’s a long way down.

Another horizontal photo was the Yaquina Bay Bridge. I must have taken at least 20 shots of that bridge over the years, but this was the only one I considered good. I took the photo on a rainy day when I was doing a trial run before one of the Lane Community College Outward Venture trips to see the historic bridges. I would be leading the trip. It rained until just before Newport and by the time I got to where I wanted to have a photo op on the trip, the sun came out and the clouds were breaking apart. It became a photo op for me right then. It is a beautiful bridge from any angle and my second favorite of the coast’s historic McCullough bridges. My favorite is the Siuslaw River Bridge right here in Florence.

Then I did two vertical cards. One was my favorite rhody photo. It is of ‘Mrs. Furnivall,’ and I used it in my blog post “#241–Rhodies, glorious rhodies” about six weeks ago. On the day, I  was taking photos to use in that blog, I really worked to get just the right background, composition, etc. on several photos. But not on this one. I just snapped it and moved on to another plant. Who knew it would turn out to be the one I liked best.

The other vertical is one of my favorite shots from The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!! It was taken at the O.H. Hinsdale Rhododendron Garden near Reedsport. I thought it wouldn’t turn out so good because no matter how I tried, the white rhody blossoms kept getting in the way. And, of course, that’s what makes the photo so special.

These last five cards arrived in the mail yesterday, July 1. I got them all packaged with their envelopes in clear sleeves and stickered and in packs of 10 before dinner. And this morning, I went to Backstreet Gallery and placed them in their slots on the card stand. They all look fabulous. I am so pleased!

I still can’t believe how happy these cards have made me. Even if nobody buys them, it has been such fun creating them. And when I was on duty last Sunday, I sold three “Sleep” cards and someone else said she would be in to buy two “Sleep” cards tomorrow.

I’ll keep you posted on how they do and if I decide to do any more cards. . . .

There’s this bridge picture I have of the bridge open with a ship going through at sunset. Might make a nice card. Hmm!

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#246-Sleep! What sleep? . . .

Toss and turn, toss and turn. On my back, on my side. Legs curled up, legs stretched out. No matter what I do, I can’t get comfortable. I count sheep, cats, dogs, and anything else that comes to mind. I even count as far as I can. Then I think of all the good things that happened today, this week, last week. I plan out tomorrow, then plan it in detail. I think of projects I need to do and plan them in detail. No matter what I do, I cannot get to sleep.

Sir Groucho loves to sleep in my bed. And he even knows how to use a pillow!

So that night, I finally gave up getting to sleep and got up and wrote a poem “Sleep! What sleep?” This actually happened a few years ago, and I’ve read the poem at a couple of different writer’s forums. And it always goes over well because folks can relate.

And now because of the pandemic, difficulty in sleeping is an even bigger problem. Last week on the radio, I heard at least three different reports on how the stress caused by the pandemic is affecting people’s sleep. More and more people were finding it hard to get to sleep with so much to worry about. And not just adults. One report was on how it is affecting children’s sleep too. And the third report was on the various ways to make it easier to get to sleep.

Because sleeplessness is now more of a problem than ever, I’ve decided to make my poem available to folks.  I’ve incorporated it into card format, and it is now for sale at Backstreet Gallery in Old Town in Florence and on this very blog under the menu item CARDS.  

On the front of the card is the word “Sleep” with a photo of Sir Groucho sleeping peacefully, Inside is the poem “Sleep! What sleep?”

This is the front of the card.

I’ll share a couple stanzas:

Sleep! What Sleep?

You can’t sleep. You’re tired, irritable, and everything is conspiring against you:

As you press your head into the pillow, you realize even your hair hurts.

beneath your leg, the wrinkles of your pajamas begin to bug you

and with each breath, you hear the rustling of the pillow beneath your ear.

With these petty nuisances, you’ll never get to sleep.

Suddenly, your arm lying across your stomach feels much too heavy,

your leg lying on top of the other has made the bottom leg numb,

and your eye develops an unbearable itch.

You get up and look for the eye drops; you’ll never get to sleep. . . .

And on it goes for another three stanzas.

For some folks it’s only an occasional night of sleeplessness. For others it happens more often. And for some it happens so often, it’s considered insomnia.

The poem is on the inside.

Now that I’ve listed through the poem many of the ways to not get to sleep, I’ll devote the rest of this post on how to make getting a good night’s sleep easier. These suggestions are from an article in the summer 2019 issue of Cancer Health titled “Sleep Solutions” by Bob Barnett.

“To fully tackle insomnia, the best treatment, according to the American College of Physicians and other medical groups, is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-1). . . . CBT-1 works by helping you make changes in sleep habits that sound easy but are really hard to achieve.

These include:

*limiting daytime naps

*avoiding stimulants, such as coffee in the afternoon and avoiding alcohol in the evening

*going to sleep only when you feel sleepy at night, yet getting up at the same time each morning.

*not spending too much time in bed (seven hours of sleep out of eight hours in bed is better than seven hours of sleep out of nine hours in bed)

*establishing a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual, such as reading

*making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and free of distractions such as cellphones, tablets, and TV.”

Anytime, anywhere, Sir Groucho has no trouble falling asleep.

So if you are one who has trouble getting to sleep, try some of these and see if they help.

And check out my Sleep card. Even if you have an occcasional night of sleeplessness, you’ll relate.

One friend, after reading the entire poem, emailed me, “OMG! Have you been in my bedroom???”

Like I said, folks can relate!

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#245­–A life of white privilege, who knew . . .

I am a white woman and, therefore, have “white privilege.” Although, I didn’t know that until I was in my 70s and started hearing the phrase. With all the Black Lives Matter protests since George Floyd’s death, we’ve heard the phrase a lot lately. It got me thinking, and I tried to remember interactions with the police throughout my life. As far as I can remember, they were all civil. I was never afraid of the police. I thought of them as a source of help in time of need, and I still do. That must be my white privilege talking. As a kid, though, they were scary up close.

I was about six (in the middle) when a policeman visited my classsroom. First time to see a policeman up close.

When I was in elementary school, we lived in middle-class neighborhoods in or on the edge of cities. My first contact with the police was when a policeman visited my first grade class. I was impressed with how big he was in his uniform. A little scary for me. We lived on the outskirts of Vancouver, WA, and a few years later, a police officer came to the door one evening to tell my dad to go pick up the trash he dumped off the side of a back road. This officer as I recall was big and scary too in his dark uniform. Before he left, he thanked my dad for leaving the address on envelopes and boxes, making it easy to find who did it.

I remember the whole situation. We had a bunch of stuff to drop off at the dump. Because it was out in the country, my folks thought we would make a day of it and go for a drive. So the whole family was along. As kids, we were about seven, eight, and nine years old, and I was the oldest. After awhile, we seemed to be driving in circles; my dad simply couldn’t find the dump. So he found a remote spot instead, and we all pitched in, dropping bags and boxes of stuff over the bank. After the police officer’s visit, we went back the following weekend and retrieved it all. It took awhile to find the exact spot. And it was hard work to haul all that yucky stuff up the bank and put back in the trunk of the car. It didn’t help that it had rained. What a mess! That whole experience made such an impression on me, I still remember it..

We were about seven (Edna), eight (Harry), and nine (me) when our family got caught dumping trash in the countryside.

When I was 13, we moved to the Kern River Valley, a relatively remote area about an hour and a half northeast of Bakersfield, CA, in the southern end of the Sierra Nevadas.  We moved into a small community of company housing at a power plant when my dad started working for Southern California Edison. There were two communities of company housing along the river near each end of the valley, and we lived a few years at each of them.  

The law enforcement in the valley in the 1950s was minimal. There was a local rancher/part time constable who I think took care of the entire valley. That seems an impossible job, but I don’t remember anyone else. And there was a deputy sheriff, from an adjoining county, who was in charge once you crossed the county line and headed upriver. This deputy’s family had one of the best steak houses in California quite a ways upriver––McNally’s on the Kern. And in a back room, illegal gambling took place. Everybody seemed to know about it and nobody seemed to care. He was also the father of one of my friends. So I knew him mostly as her dad.

One time when I was in high school and on a double date, which did not include his daughter, I saw him in action as the deputy sheriff. Four of us, two couples, were parked at a wayside upriver. Deputy Sheriff McNally came cruising up to check out our car. He gave each of us a big “Howdy” cause he knew each of us. He told us it was probably time to head home. And his parting words were, “See you in church tomorrow, Judy!”

Terry, my boyfriend when I was about 15. He may have been the one with me when the Deputy Sheriff checked out our parked car and told us it was time to head home.

My next remembrance was a year or so later, I cut my finger on a broken glass in the soapy water where I worked at a summer job as a dishwasher/waitress in a small breakfast place––Cozy Corner Cafe. We couldn’t stop the bleeding. So the other waitress ran to another restaurant looking for the constable. She found him. Our constable had no special uniform. He wore his ranch clothes, including his cowboy hat and boots. No police station either. His office was any of two or three restaurants in Kernville—the largest of the towns in the valley. And he used his own car because, you guessed it, no police car. So he came roaring up to the restaurant in his big, blue and white Buick with his portable light on top flashing away. He also had a siren. Off we went siren blaring to a nearby town that had the only doctor in the area. What a thrill! I loved it! My finger needed a few stitches and then he took me home. I can still see the scar.

Those were my connections to the law when I was growing up. There may have been more, but these are the ones I remember.

From the time I was a young woman all the way through middle age, I was pulled over a few times for traffic violations. Here are the ones I remember.

As an adult, I was stopped for various traffic violations from time to time, but I was never asked to step out of the car.

One day in the 1980s I was coming home from work in heavy traffic in the San Jose area. A car in front of me sat at an angle trying to get into the left-hand turn lane and blocked my lane. As soon as the car moved, my light turned yellow. I shot through the intersection, not realizing a police car was on my tail. He pulled me over and told me I had run a red light. I told him that it was yellow and that if he was behind me, he must have been the one to run a red light. Of course, I got a ticket, but no body search, no breath test, no handcuffs, no beating, no jail time.

In 1985, we had moved to Florence, OR. In the mid-1990s, a young policeman pulled me over for going 37 mph in the 30-mile zone. He asked me what in the world was I thinking to be going so fast? I told him that I was thinking about what I was going to fix for dinner, and that’s what I thought about every night on my way home from work. He gave me a long lecture on keeping my focus on the road and gave me a ticket. He looked all of 20 and was so patronizing. I just wanted to slap him but refrained from doing so. He was just doing his job—albeit, just a bit too sure of himself!

Heading into middle age, my brother, sister, and I are still protected by our white privilege. This was taken at a high school reunion in the Kern River Valley.

In 2000, I was cruising along the speed trap just west of Veneta going about 70. It is the one place along Hwy 126 between Florence and Eugene where the 55-mph speed limit is really enforced. And it’s the only place where the road is actually straight for miles. I suddenly realized that I needed to slow down and got my speed down to 64 before a police carl zipped by. He made a U, came up behind me, and pulled me over. I held my tongue and didn’t say how relieved I was that he didn’t catch me going 70. I was very pleasant. He was very no nonsense as he wrote out a ticket for $210.


Jan at the South Coast Writers Conference a few years ago. She was with me, when we were heading home and got stopped for having my tires hit the fog line too often! I think the officer thought I was on something

Fast forward 15 years, and I’m a senior citizen with gray hair. Now, I not only have white privilege but old-lady privilege going for me. Here’s what I mean.

I was heading home from Gold Beach one February where a friend and I had attended the South Coast Writers Conference. I was pulled over because my tires were touching the fog line too often. I think he thought I might have been on something. After he told us why he pulled us over, my friend in the passenger seat explained that whenever I talked, I used my right hand. She told him how I would take it off the steering wheel and the car would veer slightly to the right each time. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. So the officer told her to make sure I kept both hands on the wheel and wished us both a good day. My friend was also a senior citizen and white.

A few years ago I was coming back home after doing an afternoon program in Port Orford about the historic coastal bridges. It was winter and getting dark. When I got close to Langlois, I didn’t see the slow to 30 sign and drove into town going 40. I slowed as soon as I realized where I was. But there was a police car already on my tail and pulled me over. The officer was very nice and simply told me to be more careful in the future.  I felt I had really gotten away with something, because no ticket.

Heading home after this event, I got stopped for going over the speed limit, but no ticket.

Just last spring, I was coming back from a trip to Gold Beach, where I made 16 stops (some going and some coming home) delivering books. I left Florence about 7 a.m. that morning and was returning about 7 p.m. and it was dark. I was tired and so relieved to be back in Florence safely. That’s what I told the officer after he finally got me to pull over.  

At the end of the bridge as you enter Florence is a sign that says 30 mph. I continued on at 40, not realizing that I should have slowed down and not noticing that I had a police car on my tail. When the officer saw that I wasn’t slowing, he turned on his lights. I didn’t notice the lights either. He expected me to pull over, instead, I speeded up to 43. This irritated him, and he turned on the siren. That, I did notice and pulled over one lane to let him by. But, of course, he followed me. So I turned on a side street and pulled over, and he was right behind me.

Besides white privilege, now I’ve got age going for me when it comes to dealing with law enforcement.

He was very patient and pleasant as he told how he tried and tried to get my attention. And I told him about my long, tiring day. He gave me a brief lecture on paying attention to the speed limit signs and strongly advised me to check my rear view more often. And then he let me off with a warning. I was so, so surprised that he didn’t write me up!!

Evidently, being white as well as old is like doubling down on white privilege. Who knew!

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#244–Mari’s Books is now Books and More in Yachats . . .

Back in 2011, when I published my first major book, Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges, I was given some very good advice from a few authors I looked to as mentors. Bob Welch, one of Oregon’s most well-known authors, was one of them. He said I should check out Mari’s Books in Yachats. I did. It was love at first sight. They liked my book and I liked them and their cozy bookstore.

Mari’s Books was a fixture in Yachats for 14 years.

Them was Mari Irvin and Mary Wiltse, who were sisters and co-owners along with Jeannine Jansen. Either Mari or Mary were always on duty whenever I came in and we became friends. They also sold more of my books than any other bookstores that carry my books. Every time I published a new book, they tried it out.

They even got to know my spiel for my books almost as well as I did. One day, I happened to be there delivering some books. While I was filling out the invoice, I heard Mary telling folks about The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans. Then she said, “How’d I do, Judy?” That’s the kind of close, friendly relationship I had with Mary and Mari. I often spent 15 or 20 minutes having delightful conversations with Mari after our book transaction was completed.

A cozy, friendly place to be.

For the past six years, I’ve been a part of the Yachats Farmers Market. So on Sundays, Mari or Mary would tell folks interested in my books, that if they wanted to buy the book directly from the author, to walk over to the Market only a block away. One cold, foggy Sunday, while I was freezing at my booth, Mary stopped by and handed me a hot, steaming Cappuccino and a chocolate croissant. I don’t think I ever enjoyed anything as much as that.

Mary Wiltse (left) and Mari Irvin of Mari’s Books became my friends over the years.

When doing sales trips up or down the coast, I always call ahead to see what is needed and schedule a time to stop by. But with Mari’s Books, they didn’t mind if I just popped in. A few years ago, Mary went back to the Midwest to be with family, but the wonderful relationship with Mari’s books continued on through this past January.

Then last February, I received a call from Mari that she had sold the bookstore, but the good news was that she had sold it to local folks and that it would continue on basically the same. I was both saddened and relieved. I will miss seeing Mari but was so glad the bookstore would still be there.

In my latest book, The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED, of the 26 places covered, two are in Yachats and one nearby at Cape Perpetua. So the book sells well in Yachats. One of the places covered within Yachats is the Little Log Church. And one of the new owners is Mary Crook, who is the officiant at the Log Church. As you might expect, she is particularly fond of that book. And when folks seem interested in it, she will often point out pages 34 and 35. She was totally thrilled one day when someone came in and bought the book and asked her to sign one of those pages.

Now, the nearly-the-same wonderful bookstore is called Books and More.

So the bookstore continues on, but their timing wasn’t so good. They opened March 1 and had to close shortly afterwards due to the pandemic.

Now, under Phase 2, they have reopened. I could tell because I received a call from Mary Crook saying she wanted six copies of the UNEXPECTED. So I delivered them and got to meet her co-owner, Yvonne Erickson, who was on duty that day. She also owns the shop next door called Just Local.

When I walked into the bookstore, the only difference I saw were some framed photographs on the walls by locals. Besides books, Mari’s, during its 14-year run, always had local stuff such as notecards and felt products. Now there will be even more. The new name is Books and More: Something old, something new, something local. There have always been gently used books as well as new books from locals, meaning as far away as Eugene, and that won’t change.

Mary Crook, wearing face mask, is holding up my Guide to the UNEXPECTED. Her sweatshirt reads, “There is no such thing as too many books!”

It wasn’t even a week later that I received another call from Mary and she wanted six more of the UNEXPECTED. So I made another trip to Yachats. This time it was Mary on duty. The shop is open with masks on the proprietor and requested of the public. And social distancing, while difficult in such a small bookstore, is attempted.

So next time you’re at the coast and near Yachats, check out Books and More. It’s still a wonderful, cozy bookstore––and more.

Note: Hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Located in C&K Market plaza in downtown Yachats.   

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