Life in a Senior Residence Community is challenging and cherished.

Archive for the ‘Walking For Our Lives’ Category

What Do We Have Here?

Wednesday evening I joined nine other residents of Friends House at a Home Concert in Vera’s apartment. Barbara and Vera take turns once a month hosting a musical evening. They leave a sign-up sheet in the lobby and because of space, limit the attendance to ten. Each person brings a snack: cheese and crackers, popcorn, Mrs See’s chocolate-covered raisins, salted nuts, apricot-chocolate-nut bread from Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola.

Vera started the CD, turned off the lights, and we sat quietly in the dark submersed in Beethoven’s Piano Quartet, Op 16 (Emanuel Ax, piano; Isaac Stern, violin; Jaime Laredo, viola; Yo-Yo Ma, cello). After a lilting Vivaldi, we enjoyed the intermission snacks and Vera’s warm apple cider. Then we settled down for Brahms’ Double Concerto with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

I, satiated with chocolate, awash in symphonic music, and surrounded by friends, sat there in the dark and thought of some of the ways in which we here care for each other.

Last week Betsy stopped by to ask if I like parsley. She had a sprig of large flat-leaf  parsley to show me. When I told her yes, she grinned and said, “I’ll pot up some for you and leave it outside your front door.” Next morning, there it was, with all its green vigor.

Charlotte called to me. I stopped pulling weeds and she came over, “I just want you to know I pruned your roses and left some plant food by your faucet. I’m hoping you can feed them.” We’ll have healthy roses this year, one the award-winning Peace Rose.

Marion phoned, “I remembered you said your goal is to walk all the creek paths in Santa Rosa so I called the Chamber of Commerce and asked for a map. They have sent a very good one and we can mark off the areas we want to walk next.” Marion, Nancy, Ruth, Elspeth, and I walk most Saturday mornings.

Ruth knocked and pushed open the door a crack. She called out a yoo-hoo, came in, and sat in the rocking chair. She waved two old-fashioned round cake pans. “I borrowed these from Joanie,” she said, “And I’m going to make a birthday cake for John like his grandmother used to make. Want to come to dinner tomorrow? Do you eat shrimp? We could have scampi.” You bet!

Joe is our computer tutor, a resident who is on call at all reasonable hours. Whenever I have e-trouble, I call Joe and he comes right over, fiddles around, mutters to himself, and then announces, “It’s okay now.” Sometimes I feel that I might be imposing and hesitate to call him, but his wife Joan says he likes helping people. “It’s part of his service,” she says.

I overheard Dorothy, who still drives, saying to Marie, who doesn’t, “I haven’t gone to the market yet today, but I will in a couple of hours so before I leave, I’ll come by to get your list.”

The other day Nancy told me, “I’ve renewed my driver’s license, but it won’t arrive for a few weeks so I can’t drive. Would you take me to the dentist’s office? I’ll walk home afterward.” Of course.

As I passed through the lobby to mail some letters, Sally called out from the wing chair where she waited for friends who were coming to lunch. When they arrived, she took a box from them, handed it to me, and asked, “Would you like to look through my father’s Beatrix Potter books? Mrs Tiggywinkle, Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin. They’re all here.” Little did she know that Beatrix Potter is one of my favorite people; a writer and sheep farmer whose life inspired my dreams of becoming a combination writer-farmer. I brought her father’s books back to my “Rabbit Hutch,” sat in the sunshine, and read and read those treasured little stories.

However, it’s not perfect here. We are bound to have concerns and differing points of view. The rents will increase three to five percent each year. We are worried that no care is available for those with severe memory loss. Maybe that will be included in the proposed expansion plans, which are, in themselves, causing concern.

The grounds crews whack back the shrubs into concentric globes instead of encouraging them to grow naturally.

But multiply the random acts of kindness by 80 residents and we are what I was looking for. A community.

I Wanna Make a MOVIE!

Hollywood seems to me to be that unattainable haven of movie-making. Full of larger than life characters, romantic and remote settings, filmed stories written and directed by people of unimaginable talents. A place of fantasy, dashed dreams and glittering glory… clichés and heroic epochs. All inaccessible.

Several people who have read Walking for Our Lives, have suggested it would make a good movie. I would love that! But how is that achieved? I’ve thought of several directors who are social activists: Ron Howard, Robert Redford, Ken Burns, Betty Thomas…but I have no idea how to approach them. An agent? How do I find one who is good? What IS good? (more…)

My Protest

Twenty-six years ago, the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament was camped at the brand new Green Valley Resort in St George, Utah. Below is a quote from Walking for Our Lives, the chronicle of the three peace walks that I joined in the 1980s.

The resort invited us to enjoy the swimming pools, Jacuzzis, tennis courts and showers, and served us a poolside breakfast of individually prepared omelets. The townspeople accepted our invitation to visit the camp, to meet us, and listen to Peace March musicians perform original songs. At the same time, two representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency visited to try to explain away the effect of nuclear testing upon the residents of southern Utah. (more…)

Tuesdays and Thursdays on the March

This is an excerpt from pages 78-79 in Walking for Our Lives. In these paragraphs, the Great Peace March, a little town walking east on our way to Washington, DC., is climbing the West Slope of the Rockies

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the days we didn’t walk because those were our work-days, Shelah and I wakened a little later than usual to the symphony of zippers zipping and Velcro ripping. As others were preparing to walk, we picked up our notepads and found Peace City’s  Mayor Diane to see what she needed us to do.  Diane had the exuberance of the nursery school teacher she had been. She had won the mayor’s position after she started the trash patrol along the routes we walked. She had set the example by collecting aluminum cans and glass bottles to recycle, as well as stuffing roadside garbage into plastic bags to be taken to a dump. Dubbed the Litter Lady, she was organized and colorful, animated, and always recognizable in her perky red hat. Often she asked Shelah and me to find the mayors of the next three towns, set up Keys and Trees Ceremonies, and let the Chamber of Commerce know about the Peace March’s arrival. (more…)

Twenty Six Years and We’re Still Protesting Nuclear Weaponry

This is an excerpt from my newest book, Walking for Our Lives. In 1986, The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, trooped out of Los Angeles on our way to Washington, DC. It was a nine-month, grass roots saga. Heroic in many ways. These paragraphs are from Chapter 9. We are in Las Vegas.

By now, I loved to walk through a town, raise my hand with the peace sign and shout, “Good Morning to you! Peace!” In Las Vegas, on April 12, 435 of us buoyantly paraded down the Las Vegas strip and I thought about the many times in my life when I had stood on the curb, so to speak, and watched life flow by. I thought I was, by nature, not a strong leader, but an enthusiastic follower. I didn’t carry the flags at the front of The March, but remembered my son Sam’s advice – “Stay in the middle of the pack, Mom. It’s safer there.” (more…)

California! Nevada!

Twenty six years ago we were camped on BLM land within sight of Whiskey Pete’s across the California-Nevada border.

The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, 1200 people strong,  left Los Angeles amid great fanfare on March 1, 1986. Eleven days later in the Mojave Desert, about ten miles west of Barstow, the founding organization declared bankruptcy and told us it was over. “Go home.” Eight hundred did just that, but four hundred of us stayed. After a surprisingly genius reorganization of people and money and some desperate fundraising, we got our feet under us (pun intended!) and started walking. We walked fifteen miles each day, our little tent village of 400 moving toward Washington, DC, step by step. (more…)

25 Years Ago Today

Twenty five years ago today  The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament stepped across the fifteenth state border and walked into Washington, DC.  We had done what “they” said couldn’t be done. An event originally budgeted for $20 million came in at under $1 million. A dream that fell apart in the Majove Desert became a grass-roots movement of 400 people who walked all the way from Los Angeles to Washington in nine months. On November 15, 1986, we had grown to 2,000 marchers and 15,000 supporters. (more…)

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