Thursday, July 16, 2015

At the Moment: Elder Housesharing Report

My housemate Kate Nehrbass has done aikido for 30 years
I was still traveling in Mexico early this year when Kate Nehrbass emailed me asking whether I would like to share her house. Kate and I have lived in Ashland for many years and we have a number of mutual friends, but we never really spent any time with each other.

The idea of living in her big, welcoming house up in the wooded area of Ashland was appealing, and I sensed that Kate and I could get along as housemates just fine, so I agreed. It felt good to have such a sweet place to land when I returned from Mexico.

And it has turned out to be an excellent experience. Kate is easy to live with and getting to know her better is delightful. She loves to travel and to garden, and she loves kids. Her young friends are often at the house, and she is generous in taking them to camps, plays, and other outings. Kate is also engaged in Buddhism, and that is a beautiful common ground.  I admire her generosity and kindness. Since I arrived, we have been getting along with each other quite well. Harmony in the house! That is so good. And living here with the myriad birds that appear, and the beautiful big garden and nearby hiking trails is also so good.

A beautiful line of old lavender bushes blooms at the side of the garden
I've been engaged in elder housesharing for about 7 years. To me it makes sense. It keeps housing expenses down, provides companionship and friendly engagement and exposes me to new perspectives and people. I imagine that I will keep doing it. It's like a return to the communal days of yore in some ways. But without the constant partying and late nights.

Yes, to be successful the house share must meet your basic requirements in terms of beauty, orderliness, comfort and welcome, and the housemate must be sympatico.

Kale on its way into the oven to become kale chips
 House sharing is becoming more and more popular with older adults. There are a number of national and regional organizations that help match compatible housemates, such as the National Shared Housing Resource Center, a clearinghouse to help folks find a shared housing organization in their community--or start one. There's even an international homeshare organization based in London, which shares news about organizations in eight countries.

Confession Regarding Kale

My friend Sondra can make delicious things with kale, but I have never discovered how to do it. We have some beautiful kale growing in the garden, and I was happy to discover that not only could I make kale chips, but that they are incredibly delicious, so delicious that I simply finish them off in one meal. I am not one of those fanatics who eats kale 3 times a day, but now that I have found kale chips, I make a batch a couple of times a week. It is very easy. Just cut the center spine from the kale leaf and coat the kale leaf with olive oil. I like to do it with my hands, but you could use a brush. Put the kale on a cookie sheet and bake it in an oven set to 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Stay nearby and check it. It can burn easily. Very tasty and of course nutritious.

Butterflies, flowers, the beauty of the summer garden
The Dread Time of Much Zucchini Approacheth

I love vegetables. Kale and zucchini are not at the top of my list though. Now that I have discovered kale chips, I will endeavor to find some delicious ways to present zucchini, which is already very abundant in our garden. This is a good problem to have. We enjoy bountiful foods here. May all beings be this fortunate.

About the Earth

I just finished reading Joanna Macy's memoir Widening Circles.  What a life she has led, and what beneficial work she has created to restore and heal humans and the Earth. Though I do not speak of it much in this blog, I contemplate the state of our planet and our species every day. Lacking omniscience, I cannot foretell what will happen on the Earth. I do pray about it. I pray for those peoples displaced from their homelands, now so many millions of them, for the rivers, jungles, mountains, oceans, creatures, for the elements, for all of us living now in this era. And I highly recommend this book, and the engaged Buddhism of Joanna Macy. She is a real bodhisattva.

Severe Resistence to Oldness--May the Right Medicine Appear to Cure It

The other day I had a meeting with someone I admire and in the course of our conversation he told me that his 85-year old neighbor got very insulted and upset when someone in a social gathering complemented her on being an elder. Vehemently, she insisted that she was not an elder. She was a sailor and a tennis player. Ah, my goodness dearie. Some kind of soul sickness. I want to read her this quote from the African author and teacher Malidoma Patrice Some--but maybe she just wouldn't get it immersed as she is in grasping onto her vitality. Ah, I have plenty more to say on the subject of Elders in Denial, but will save it for another time. Here is the quote.

“Elders and mentors have an irreplaceable function in the life of any community. Without them the young are lost, their overflowing energies wasted in useless pursuits. The old must live in the young like a grounding force that tames the tendency toward bold but senseless actions and shows them the path of wisdom. In the absence of elders, the impetuosity of youth becomes the slow death of the community.”

No comments:

Post a Comment