Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 before it's too late.


Before sunset, the burnt orange leaves of the vineyards stretch toward the Santa Ynez Mountains under the “cold moon.”   As Winter begins, a Carpe Summer note seems long overdue.  

2018 has been a year of transition, consternation, joy, acceptance and gratitude. 

Cayman Sunrise
The 2017 hurricane changed the destination of our February 2018 vacation from St. John to Grand Cayman.  Our house sat on an unpopulated beach and the water was beautiful blues and greens. But many beaches on Cayman were loaded with junk – random sandals, shoes, plastic bottles and pieces – lotsa junk.  One local blamed it on Haiti.  Certainly, Cayman is well-kept, so I would be surprised if the junk came from here.  So, we had to take the good with the bad:  beautiful water, decent snorkeling, but it is hard not to be sad over the state of the environment.  The recent 60 Minutes report on junk in the Pacific Ocean, even on Midway Island, reinforced the knowledge of uncontained waste killing birds and the environment, generally.  Photographers can crop the crap.  In real life, we cannot.  Life is good, but not perfect.

In a similar vein, we decided to leave Portland’s Pearl District after 5 years.  There are days when I LOVE living there.  I can walk to everything.  I have friends in other condos, making the District feel like a college campus, with friends in dorms.  I run into acquaintances from the neighborhood association. I relax at a favorite restaurant.  There is a much to love about the Pearl District. 
In February, we contracted to purchase a new condo under construction in The Vista, right on a park with a big view and 24/7 person to keep an eye on the front door.  We sold our condo and moved into Couch 9 apartments to wait four months for move in. 

Living in the tiny apartment on the  side south of The Pearl focused us on the “cons” of The Pearl.  The smaller place reminded us how efficient we must be with our belongings.  The one-car space reminded us how much we prefer a parking for two cars.  But mostly, living and walking to work through the humanitarian crises we call “homelessness” reminded me how much I need a break from that. 

Luckiamute: Ken, Scout and Ranger
It hit me one morning when my brother picked me up early to join him and his bird dogs for a day at the Luckiamute Ranch.  He asked me how things are going, and I launched into my frustration with the city’s approach to the issues.  I discussed my research on the difference between Oregon, which ranks about 49 out of 51 (states plus District of Columbia) on homelessness, and other states or cities that have made progress.  I hated the way the Joint Office of Homeless Services wastes money and excludes people with good ideas from meaningful input as they do more of the same, which has not worked.  (Hey, why don’t you sharpen the saw?  Shut up, can’t you see we are sawing as fast as we can?!”) I ranted about being accosted a block from my abode and the crime and the litter and the sadness of walking past 20 people sleeping on sidewalks or benches, or doorways on my way to work and the broken windows of cars and pick ups parked overnight or in the garage under our apartment.  Then, there’s the young man, maybe 30, who has lived in the doorway near my office for over three years.  There’s my guilt when I shake my head “no” to multiple people in need every day.  After ranting for 20 minutes, it hit me:  living in the city is eating me alive and making me unpleasant to be around.  So, I shut up and changed the topic. 
Not long after that morning, we reneged on our contract to buy The Vista so we could move out of downtown.  You can’t have the pros of downtown living without the cons.  You can’t have a beach vacation on Cayman without the plastic. 
Pearl District Sunset

We found a townhouse under construction in the Sellwood neighborhood and hope to move in January 2.

I returned to practicing law in 2018 after my two-year "retirement."  I prefer helping people as a lawyer to other pursuits.  I'm not an artist; I'm a lawyer.  I enjoy the law, mostly.  
Yet, 2018 has been a good year in so many ways for which I am grateful.  My relatives continue good health and mostly happiness; same with my families of choice. One exception is a long-time friend who struggles with cancer.  My most important relationships feel secure and happy.  I’ve enjoyed many wonderful moments from quiet walks in nature to a happy wedding; visits my great-nephew and his parents, get togethers in town and fun weekends away.  I rate myself happier today than I was one-year ago.  
I write this on an airplane to Mexico, a country I love to visit.  I like Mexicans, their spirit, food, culture, forests, coastlines, art.  I hate US politicians who  try to drive a wedge between us and them.  The politics and world events and intrigues of 2018 concern me.  In some ways 2018 has been a nightmare from which I cannot awaken.  Politicians seem to make so many wrong public policy choices on matters that should be no-brainers.  I understand that power and money drive these intentional mistakes.  My understanding only increases my sense of injustice and feelings of powerlessness. 

I eagerly anticipate moving and my next chapter in life, despite the dark clouds of: international trade wars and actual wars, the growing power of Putin and weakening of Western Democracies and their/our institutions, insufficient action against environmental degradation and, as noted earlier, inept leadership at local and national levels. 
As new condo and office towers gleam in Portland while people sleep on the streets, 2018 can be described as, “It was the best of time, and it was the worst of times.”
Mountain Goat in Washington

Indian Heaven

September  Red Rocks, Colorado
Deschutes River
Trout Lake
Wind River in Washington

December Sunrise, Cape Kiwanda, Pacific Ocean
December Sunset, Playa del Tamarindo, Mexico