RETIREMENT ISN’T EASY STEP FOR THIS LIFELONG WRITER

It is difficult to retire if you are a writer. I know because I attempted to quit on New Year’s Day and failed.

To keep the record straight, I have retired several times, first as a newspaper journalist, then as a teacher and then as a freelance writing imagesphotographer and writer. I continued to write, however, and concentrated on writing memoir, fiction and essays to post on this blog site each Friday.

I have reason to retire, to quit working, to stop doing anything I don’t want to do. I am nearing my 87th birthday and spend more time thinking about exercising than doing it. I also spend more time talking to friends about my aches and pains than I do about fishing, hiking and biking.

Now, it was time to quit writing. Time to embark on a new adventure. Time to pour a cup of coffee and park in front of a television screen and spend the day watching football.

That’s what I did on New Year’s Day. Spent the day and much of the night watching games that ended 41-7, 45-6, 48-20 and 44-28. I discovered that this type of retirement is almost Continue reading RETIREMENT ISN’T EASY STEP FOR THIS LIFELONG WRITER

VISIT WITH STREET COUPLE DELAYS TRIP TO BAKERY

I recognized the couple as I drove through a busy downtown intersection en route to a bakery in south Eugene. I first met them last fall near a church that was providing some assistance to the homeless couple.

I parked the car, crossed the thoroughfare and renewed HELP SIGNacquaintances while one of them held a sign inviting contributions from passing motorists. It’s called panhandling, a practice as old as civilization.

My first brush with this culture occurred in 1949 when I completed my undergraduate degree and spent the summer in northwestern Montana piling brush and fighting forest fires.

A half dozen men who called themselves “winos” worked alongside us and told stories about living on the road and how they created stories that played on the heart-strings of strangers to finance their addiction. They were “drying out” for a few weeks while working with our Forest Service crew. When their first paycheck arrived, they returned to the road and some ended up drunk in the Libby jail.

I parked the car, crossed the busy intersection and renewed acquaintance with these friendly, personable people who apparently elected to live as street people rather than to take advantage of Eugene’s outreach to the homeless.

They said that a friend had loaned them the use of a garage during the winter but that it was unheated and had no electrical service. They only had one sleeping bag, and it has been “a cold winter.” Continue reading VISIT WITH STREET COUPLE DELAYS TRIP TO BAKERY

TASK DIFFICULT IN PICKING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

A professional journalist should never expresses a political view so that he/she may remain fair, complete and accurate in reporting events. I am now retired, which permits me to comment on the 2016 presidential race.

I soon discovered, however, that the task of picking a favorite candidate is a formidable and an imprecise undertaking.

First, I established  ground rules for choosing a candidate:

2016 election1. The person must be qualified to serve as the commander-in-chief.

2. The person must be able and willing to work with Congress.

3. The person must be trustworthy.

I qualified as an astute political expert by listening to speeches of candidates on C-Span and to most of the presidential debates, which really weren’t debates in the classical sense but often were “gotcha” sessions often conducted by television political commentators.

We didn’t hear from all of the candidates on both sides of the aisle during the so-called debates or in any other forum. They were classified as third-tier wannabes or were ignored completely.

Eventually, the Republicans winnowed the list to less than a dozen and the Democrats to three prior to the first primary election in Iowa. When the dust settled there, only two Democratic candidates survived.

On the Republican side, former governors John Kasich, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush attempted to convince voters that they are not part of the “establishment” and can right Continue reading TASK DIFFICULT IN PICKING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

MEETING YOUR NEIGHBOR MAY CHANGE THE WORLD

Residents in our neighborhood decided to band together and to prepare for a predicted catastrophe with the approach of the year 2000 in what was known as Y2K.

The problem existed because most computers were programmed to automatically assume the date began with “19” as in 1977 and 1988. But when the date was to turn from Dec. 31, Three old men1999, to January 1, 2000, programmers feared that computers would become so confused that they would shut down completely.

So, a dozen families in our neighborhood organized. A few of us went from door to door enlisting help. Two families owned generators. Several families had propane-fueled BBQs. Some of us had fireplaces. Two families owned RVs.

We began buying extra food and water. Then we organized a get-acquainted breakfast and distributed lists containing names, addresses and telephone numbers.

Y2K passed uneventfully, but our neighborhood remained organized. The breakfasts became annual affairs, usually on a Saturday morning in the fall, early enough to avoid competition with the start of university football games. We update the telephone list annually.

We became well enough acquainted that we could discuss problems with neighbors amicably. We also welcomed newcomers and explained that we would file a complaint if a Continue reading MEETING YOUR NEIGHBOR MAY CHANGE THE WORLD