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Showing posts from July, 2010

Unexpected Gold Beach

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When traveling the coast of Oregon, you might expect to see a dramatic, rocky shoreline, winding stretches of highway, long agate scattered beaches, lush forests, redwoods, wildlife, fog, lighthouses, sunshine, roadside attractions that include life size dinosaurs, and drowsy little towns filled with tourist-luring shops and restaurants. We did see all that. And certainly it was as Oregon Coasty as could be. Charming, relaxing, perfectly lovely, and not particularly interesting to write about.

To me, the thing that makes travel interesting is the stopping and looking and finding things that aren't in the guide books. It's talking to locals and asking them what they like about their town. A favorite question is, What's the one thing we should do while we're here? Going by one young barista's answer, "Go hiking up the nearby rivers, to where it's hot and sunny", the best thing to do in Gold Beach is to leave Gold Beach. Sometimes you have to ask several …

Beach Life

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Rick and I are in Gold Beach, on the coast of Oregon. He had 3 days off this week, and couldn't bear the thought of staying in the campground, so here we are. Believe it or not, he actually had to beg me to make this trip. I love the ocean, but I was so tired from my trip to San Jose, I just couldn't get excited about packing my stuff again and getting in the truck for another long drive. I'm so glad I can't say no to my sweetie. He said he needed some beach time, but what he probably knew was I needed it too. I feel more alive here, in this lovely, breezy coolness. The sun comes out every day after a foggy morning, and we spend most of our time walking the dogs on the beach. OK. Sure, I should be working, but come on... why would I want to do that when I can do this instead?
We took a little drive north this morning, as far a Cape Blanco, which is the farthest western point in Oregon. I don't know if it's beautiful or not. We saw a lot of fog, and the wind was …

Everybody Deserves Music

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Imagine a world without music. No music at all. No Happy Birthday song over your cake. No radio in your car. No Pandora. No iTunes. No CDs or LPs or ancient 8 Tracks or 45s or cassettes. No Holiday Muzak in the mall. No guitars by the camp fire. No soundtracks in movies. No symphony. No opera. No rock n' roll, jazz, blues, country, gospel, rap, or reggae. No dance. No toe tapping. No whistling. No humming in the kitchen. No sweet lullabies for your babies...

Sounds awful, doesn't it? Intolerable even. Music is so much more than background noise. It bridges a place between our minds, hearts, and souls, connecting the dots between the myriad thoughts and feelings we experience in a day. We have personal soundtracks to our lives, and theme songs that express for us what we can't quite put into words. We feel music in our bodies, resonating with tones that soothe, inspire and heal. Music encourages us to be our best selves, and sometime to simply carry on. Music pulses from wi…

Spoiled

I stopped for breakfast in Susanville, CA yesterday, after a two hour drive from Reno, and had a sufficient bowl of oatmeal and strawberries in a small hotel restaurant where we once saw Diane Lane and Josh Brolin. (Diane ordered oatmeal that day, as I recall.) I was disappointed to sit all alone in the over-cooled corner with my tea and porridge, no celebrities in sight. I had been all set for a lively chat with Diane and Josh, but I guess that was kind of a long shot, now that I think about it.

After fueling myself, I pulled my Kia rental car into the Chevron station at the north end of town, and whipped out my credit card. The card worked, but the pump didn't, so I tried again, and then went inside for assistance. I tried paying outside, paying inside, pulling around to a different pump, and running back and forth to the consult with the Gas Guy at the register at least 7 times. Nothing worked. I was standing there with my hand on my hip and my face in a bunch, ready to give up…

Making Adjustments

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I remember going on the train from Roaring Camp, in the Santa Cruz mountains, once when I was a kid. It's an old narrow gauge steam engine that takes you up to the top of Bear Mountain, through the redwoods and madrones and delicious smelling bay laurels. It was so long ago, Dad didn't remember it at all, but Linda and I both had faint recollections of the train, the place, the trees. After riding the train again yesterday, I wondered why I'd never taken my own kids on it. It's a lot of fun, and a really special, beautiful ride up through those big trees, to the top of the mountain. (Danny, Lauren, Julia - I'll make it up to you if I get the chance!) My Dad looked up into the branches and said, "These trees were made for hugging." If you know my Dad at all, you know that's just a wee bit out of character. That's how amazing it is up there. It will make a gruff old guy talk all soft and cuddly, even though he let Linda do the actual tree-hugging.


A…

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?

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It's impossible to drive into San Jose without humming the old song. I sort of know the way to San Jose, but I come back so infrequently, I have a hard time now finding my way to the house I grew up in, even though my Dad still lives in it. It's weird being here. I feel uneasy, and I'm not sure who to be when I'm in this place. I sit here chatting with my sisters and my Dad, and I flop back and forth between old versions of my young self, and the grown up self who knows just what to do in the world... everywhere except here. I imagine most of us go through this. There are movies to tell us we are not alone, like "Home For The Holidays", one of my favorites, a dizzy whirl of family dynamic that rings true every time I watch it. Get a family, any family together, and it will most likely be crazy and fun and sad and odd and familiar. We watch each other grow up, and grow old. We notice who is missing, in our case, Mom, and we try to ignore it most of the time, …

Just Passing Through

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These signs always make me a little uneasy. Am I supposed to stop at such a sign and wait to be granted permission to drive on? I imagine a long line of Alien Drivers sitting there in the road, scratching their heads and wondering what to do. I always pass, and I always get away with it, but I feel as if I've done something rebellious, like a cop might pop out of nowhere and give me a ticket, or at least a good stern talking-to. So far, so good. I passed a lot of these today, driving from Ashland to Reno in my dandy little Kia rental car. Another Automotive Manifestation. My beloved golf cart (dubbed The Pony), was returned to the golf cart store last week, and I went on wishing for a nice little car of my own. And what do you know? I have another one. It's only a rental, and still only temporary, but hey - it's a car. And besides, everything is temporary in this world, so I think it counts.
I do enjoy a short solo road trip now and then, and today was a dandy. Mt. Shasta w…

Any Questions?

We have a New Feature here: "Ask Kim". I have a feeling you might have questions about what I do and why I do it, and I'd like to take a stab at answering some of those questions. I'm aware of the unusualness of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anyone else's. So go ahead, ask away. Ask me anything. I'll pick favorite questions now and then and use them as blog post topics. You shall remain anonymous, and I shall attempt to give you thoughtful, entertaining answers. Send your queries by email to kim@kimmiles.com. I think this will be fun.

Converted

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I have something to admit to you, and I know it's going to sound nuts.
(Aren't we all used to that by now?)
I am afraid of naps.
There. I said it.
It started a few years ago, when a friend of a friend, someone I knew and liked, stayed home to take a nap while her husband and son went out to get something to eat. She was so exhausted she just didn't want to go along, and then... she died in her sleep.

It happened to another friend's wife a few years later, and yes, she had a heart condition, but it still freaked me out. I quit taking naps, fearing that if I was so tired that I couldn't keep my eyes open in the middle of the day, I was probably going to die in my sleep. Irrational? Obviously. But how do you deal logically with irrational thinking, even in a usually-rational person? I kind of think you don't bother trying.

I've been somewhat sleep-deprived for years now, between kids and menopause, and work, and the stresses of Life In General, and now camp hos…

Hair Wars

Let's go back to something really important today. Hair. Come on... we all obsess over it, don't we? Look at the time and money we spend on it, and the drama we go through when it just won't behave. I have thrown hair brushes at the mirror more than once. I've refused to leave the house on bad hair days. I've loved it, hated it, cut it, grown, it, braided it, twisted it, colored it, and put it in all sorts of terrible bedtime bondage, only to hear it go crrriiiinnnnng in the morning fog, and poof out like a tumbleweed. It's wild and unruly and has a life all its own, which I keep interfering with. For years all I wanted it to do was be long and straight and blonde. It mocked me by remaining frizzy and brown, no matter what length I hacked it to, and I was always amazed that other women would actually pay good money to have hair like mine. I even named my hair Loretta, for the Beatles song, "Get Back". I'm forever pushing  it out of my face, and sa…

Stealing Daylight

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When the going gets weird, some people go to sleep. But what I need most right now is more daylight hours, so today I got up early. Really early. Before the sun was even considering making an appearance. I made tea, got dressed, and slipped out to the Bead Tent before 5:30. I felt like some kind of mutant Farm Wife, on my way out to gather up the morning's fresh eggs for breakfast, but the "eggs" were yesterday's crop of beads, pulled fresh from the oven to make way for the next batch. It was cool and quiet out there, and no one came around to ask where their campsite was or to buy firewood. I was out even before the fishermen, and that's saying something. I made beads until breakfast, which since we're vegans, was Ranger Rick's famous oatmeal instead of eggs. With lots of cinnamon, raisins, apples, and nuts, it's like dessert for breakfast, which I am a big supporter of. After Rick left for work, I walked the dogs, and then got back to the studio. I…

Puzzled

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Just when you think things have hit the red zone on the Weird-O-Meter, steam starts coming out of all the cracks and the world goes even deeper into strangeness. I had an email from the people who rent our house this morning, telling me they are going to move. What??? I didn't see that coming at all, but maybe I should have. I won't say anything bad about them because we really like them, and they've been great tenants this past year. The sticking point for them is that they have adult daughters who need help, and they have a lot of pets. I mean a lot of pets. We knew there were several when we left Taos, but the numbers have somehow grown significantly since last July... to 19 cats and 14 dogs. I'm not kidding. And probably like you, I am slightly stunned. Maybe it's not a bad thing that all those animals will no longer be in our house, but we sure will miss having tenants who love the house and pay their rent on time.

I guess all those plans that were so up I the…

Yelling At God

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I don't want to write one of those "and then, and then, and then" blogs that tells you all about every little minute of my day. Who cares! Yuck. I sure don't. So I'll just quickly say that I had a great birthday, and a great visit with Rick's family over the weekend. I'll talk about "aging" another time. I'm 53 and I have a few things to say about it, and, I don't care if you know how old I am. Right now I want to talk about yelling at God. That's what's on my mind today. I know it's treacherous territory, so before I start, I'll ask you to please try not to be offended, and don't bother scolding me. I'm not opening up a religious debate here. How absurd would that be? I'm just talking from my side of the cheese, which is whole other story, and some of you long-timers have read it. So here we go...
It's a goal of mine to make this a mostly-positive blog, but I'd be a liar of I led you to believe there a…

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

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Not only is it my Birth Month, it's my Birth Week, which means it's high time we started the festivities. A few days ago we got the chance to buy half price tickets to see "Merchant Of Venice" at OSF, and that was just too good to pass up. The play last night was great, and the theater itself is so much fun. It's like a trip back in time to Shakespeare's England, with it's tudor styling and open air magic. You can feel the breeze as birds swoop by the balcony, and hear the occasional dog barking outside the theater in Lithia Park, where dogs are not allowed.
I snapped this picture illegally, it would seem, just as the friendly announcer reminded us all to turn off our cell phones (duh), and that photography and text messaging were strictly prohibited. I quickly texted the pilfered picture to Lauren, just because I'm feeling rebellious this week.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I do not feel old, although I'm well aware that I'm no longer young. We can …

Sharpie Love

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I have a Camp Host Tip to share that might apply to some of you who are not camp hosts. I'm very excited about this, as I stumbled across it all by my little self. When we started here, there was very little guidance, and the advice we did get from other hosts was mixed and conflicting. If someone's written a book on how to be a camp host, I haven't found it yet. If nobody's written it, maybe I should do it. I'm feeling pretty smart right now.

An important part of this volunteer gig is to keep the reservations straight each day, and to clip little pink Rez Cards to the campsite posts. Not exactly rocket science, but important nonetheless. The pink cards are my job, and I take them very seriously... almost as seriously as I take trash...

As our first reservations came in for the season, I was handed a printed list, a stack of pink laminated cards, and a skanky old grease pencil. Who still uses those things anyway, with all the wonderful, modern writing instruments w…

I'm Becoming Such a Trashy Girl

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I know better than to try to map out a day and think it will go as planned. This morning I went to the other extreme, and said to Rick and the dogs, I have no idea what I'll do today. I must have kind of winced when I said it, feeling a little guilty about not "planning" to get myself back to the studio, back to work. Ranger Rick quickly switched hats and became Holy Man Rick, and gently replied, You're doing everything just right.

I took the dogs for a walk on the dam, where the wind was blowing at freight train force, the way it did so often this past winter. The rowing club was out there, as usual, but it was too windy, even for that group of hard cores. Three of the boats were blown into the rocky side of the dam, and had to be carried out, with the help of some friendly fishermen.



The dogs and I braved it though, and as a powerful gust came up, I watched a pile of trash on the beach blow up into the air and scatter itself among the rocks. Damn! I was going to ha…

Made It Through The 4th

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It's relatively quiet in the park today, after a crazy 4th of July weekend. I guess it was pretty much as we expected - lots of people, a full campground, big groups with kids and boats and jet skis and dogs, noisy campfires, a few over-indulgers, and a couple of Really Bad Ones we all wished would just go away. For the most part, people were well behaved and nice to have in "our" camp. I did have a run-in with one mean, terrible jerk though, that had me hiding out on my trailer for most of Saturday. No need for details. I chose to vent on Facebook, so you can read it there if you want to. I feel better now. It's behind me, and I'm OK. There are bound to be some whackos from time to time. Better get used to just letting them go.

I spent part of the 4th in town watching the parade with my friend Serena. Ashland was packed like a big ol' can of sardines. Madness, but the fun kind. Later, after the parade, the crowd spilled into Lithia Park, which was lined with…

Thinking Small

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Since we have a trailer to haul, we also have a truck to haul it. A big truck. I'll drive it when I have to, but I really don't like it. Ashland is a small town with small streets and even smaller parking lots. The truck makes me feel like a big mean dumb bubba, rumbling through town with my noisy diesel engine. People turn to look. The truck scares them, in their pleasant little mommy-cars, their Volvos and Subarus and Smart Cars. I try to smile and wave and look as friendly as possible. I want to assure them that this truck is not an extension of my personality or nature. I probably look like an old rodeo queen out there. 
I've been wishing, wishing, for a small car. Maybe even a tiny car. An electric car would be nice. I want something that better projects who I am, and also fits better in a parking space downtown. I should have been more specific in my wishing... This arrived in our driveway the other day...

I'm already becoming attached. I'm wondering if I can d…

One Year On The Road

One year ago today we set out on this Big Adventure. We had sold or given away most of our possessions, and stashed the things we couldn't part with in a small metal shed behind our house in Taos, NM. We rented the house to some lovely people, and then we packed up everything [we thought] we really needed into our new-to-us 29 foot fifth wheel trailer, loaded up the dogs, said a tearful good-bye to our friends, and set out to travel for "a year or two", in search of a new home. We had been in Taos for 8 years, and we knew we didn't want to stay there forever. It's too far from our families, and we also knew we didn't want to get old there. Sounds funny, but we hope to get old someplace, and we're not young enough to think we can go on wandering forever. Or can we...?

One year later, things look entirely different than they did when we started out. Nothing is what we thought it would be. And most of it is better than we expected. We focused most of last su…