Transiting & lemon squeezing

wind farm
A tiny part of the wind farms around Temecula, California.  Drawing by Emily Lee

Moving involves a fair amount of self re-creation and may bring into play the re-discovery of potentials we once glimpsed, only to let slip away.

You think you are a country person, and here you are, by your own choice, in a city.  You used to roll your badass power wheelchair around quiet village streets, now your daughter bumps you along crowded sidewalks in a rickety little manual wheelchair, your two small dogs attached to your waist by a bungee coupler — hoping they don’t wrap themselves around a pole, or the legs of that umpteenth geeky guy striding eagerly towards you as he listens so intently to something on his smart phone that you are sure he thinks he’s the only person for miles.

Who would expect, though, that little city trees in somebody’s yard would produce wonderful lemons the size of grapefruits, that you could make the best lemon-honey tea ever from?  Things like that, visits and dinners with good friends, provide some golden times here.

Life in California’s Silicon Valley is pretty much what you expected, except you did not anticipate that upon your arrival in this quirkily fascinating place between techie mountains named Google, Apple and Facebook, your wheelchair batteries would go south and your leg brace would pop a rivet.  Again.  And when you discovered that these medical mishaps were occurring, you sure didn’t expect to find yourself sobbing loudly because you knew you were about to be grounded in your apartment for months.  Three of them, anyhow.

Had you foreseen how extraordinarily slow this process is right here, you would still be wailing.  Happily these misfortunes are not revealed to us all at once.  A series of small wails is more bearable than one big heart-busting fit of doom.

This is thanks to Medicare, the system which distrusts power wheelchair users so profoundly that it takes a few months to get authorizations for emergency repairs.  At least it does whenever you get into a new system, or need an especially expensive repair, or a new chair.

It was particularly galling to learn that I cannot even BUY a set of batteries privately.  “We need to wait for Medicare’s first refusal,” was the airy response to my stunned reaction at this piece of information.

So I’m grounded, other than when the aforementioned daughter manages to squeeze time in for a roll around the neighborhood one evening, or a weekend afternoon trip to pick up a friend in Salinas, where you get to see the sign — whoo hoo! — for the John Steinbeck museum, and wish you were free to visit it.  Salinas, an old, established place, is well worth a look around, anyway. So different from Mountain View, where we now live, where today’s vacant half lot is tomorrow’s newest spot for apartment development.  They squeeze these complexes into unimaginable spots…  This place, at least the section where we are, is wall to wall apartment complexes of different styles and ages.  Mountain View took off with early semiconductor companies in the 1950s, and  growth has accelerated steadily ever since.

And you sure didn’t foresee not having a vehicle of your own for the first time since you turned twenty two.  That was forty six years back.  A good long time to thumb my self-reliant nose at anyone who insisted I stay put when I was not so inclined.

To be fair, you suspected but were still stunned to discover that the cost of a decent used wheelchair mini van is around $35,000.  Not real feasible to somebody intending to survive on Social Security in the most expensive housing market in the USA.

So here I be, observing progress of balcony repairs and restorations in this and nearby buildings. Of roof repairs on condos on the other side.  Lots of time to think about how lovely my two dear roommates (and faithful dog walkers) are, how grand that I noticed a tiny hummingbird mom checking over our balcony plants one day, and was able to get a feeder up promptly for her.  How lovely that she came back with a friend or six.

Lots of time to muse over spending more time cultivating my neglected bonsai trees, over investing funds from the sale of my New Mexico home, becoming more of a non-consumer, lessening my carbon footprint, figuring out the best way to use Mountain View’s free ride service.  Time to catch up on reading, binge watch Netflix (of which I weary easily), and to blog.  Time to figure out how to get over to the bay just east of here to check out the birdlife, to visit the Googleplex on the way by.  To view progress on the Apple Donut going up in Cupertino nearby.

These days, rather than doing my daily meditations in my enclosed back yard, I sit in our second floor living room while the roomies are at work, facing the balcony.  Our newly resurfaced balcony, now that the Spanish speaking fellows have finished their work.  I find myself missing their rapid fire conversations, the lilt in Spanish that makes me smile.  They are nice guys, even moving the bonsai and other large plants into our living room during the resurfacing project.  Later they returned to put the plants back outside.

What worldly news there is lately to run through my mind is…. Just awful.   So many police officers have been shooting more black people than ever, especially young, or youngish, men, there’s no surprise when a veteran, probably black, has made a stand and shot a lot of white police officers in Dallas.  We are a racist society, definitely, and it’s time to bring that right out into the light.

Justice.  We must create that together, or perish apart.

News of the presidential campaign as it is gradually shaping up is fully as divisive and dismal as news of the shootings.  News from abroad is — well, should I be surprised or just shrug my shoulders — also very divisive.

How is the human race ever to get past glaring accusingly at one another’s differences if we keep focusing down on our otherness-es?

This stuff has snowballed to the point where it’s only too easy to miss the good news that is whispered as the rest is screamed.

Several quotations run through my mind  of late:

…”for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness.”

“When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.“  ~Baha’i

One cannot meditate constantly, however homebound they may be.  Time to bring back other pastimes, other ways of moving the mind outward, away from that scared, shivering little self not wishing to be hemmed in by a broken down wheelchair and fading strength.

Lately I’ve been remembering scenes that flew by us as my daughter and I drove here from my former home in New Mexico, followed by two friends driving a rental truck with my excessive belongings in it.  I love my friends a lot, but once I got here and realized the extent of size difference between my old house and my new rented condo I … almost … wished the truck had rolled over a cliff while my friends were out of it for a few minutes.

Fitting into a different space, that’s a story for some other time.  Today I am writing about mind space, adaptability, life’s inevitable changes, attitude towards that.

Part of the adaptation process has taken the form of me drawing on my iPad, using the Procreate app.  Since it wasn’t possible to take photos while driving — we were in quite a rush —I fixed a couple of scenes inwardly.  Keep it in mind that I make no pretense of being a painter or of being able to draw.  I’m a wood carver, a three dimensional artist, turned two dimensional of necessity.  These drawings are my way of exploring things I’ve seen, stripping away the irrelevant bits.

Here from my hours of enforced sitting arounded-ness, are two sketches I did this week.  One, below, is a wisp of memory from something I’d passed a number of times on I-40 headed west, in New Mexico.  It’s a Navajo type outfit, with a small ranch house, a hogan and a corral with an earth colored horse in it, set against towering cliffs.  I simplified it in my artist mind. It wouldn’t take much to visualize this place in Tony Hillerman stories.

The other, above, is of the spooky looking wind towers sticking every which way out of miles of mountains around Temecula, California,  It  (als0) wouldn’t take much to imagine these great hulks waving their flexible blades around way up there, chatting with ET.  Waves of future energy, menace to birds, bats and who-knows-what-else?

Oh, science, why is its growth so poky?

horse and hogan touched up
Some fantastic cliffs in northwest New Mexico, with horse and hogan.  Drawing by Emily Lee

…To me growth is so likely when we focus on the good, and so slow or non existent when instead we choose to look at things we hate.  To act rather than react, that is the big question.

Here is a prayer for America written in the early 1900s, more about what we can be than the way things are just now:

O God, Almighty Protector! O Thou Who art the confirmer of every just power and equitable empire in eternal glory, everlasting power, continuance and greatness! Strengthen with the abundance of Thy mercy every government which acts with equity towards its subjects, and every dominion under whose flag the poor and weak find protection.

We ask Thee by Thy holiness and bounty to pour out Thy blessing upon this government which has stretched its tent over citizens from every land, that its inhabitants, its industries, its territories may be penetrated by justice.

O God! Strengthen its executives, give authority and influence to its word and utterance, protect its territories and dominions, guard its reputation, make its ideals to echo throughout the world, reveal its traces and exalt its principles by Thy conquering power and wonderful might throughout the kingdoms of creation.

Thou art the confirmer of whomsoever Thou willest. Verily, Thou art the powerful and the mighty!  ~Baha’i

Author: Rising Over the Smoke

Rising Over the Smoke is me looking for larger patterns, hidden meanings in what goes on all around us. The world gets more conflicted and confused from one year to the next, or so it seems. Some days life feels fresh, open, energized, connected, others more nuanced, confused, distanced, lethargic. To me writing is a way of exploring my place, and perhaps that of others. I am Baha’i, thus my thoughts are affected by my faith. Beliefs include independent investigation of truth, equality of men and women, the essential harmony between science and religion, that there is one God from whom all the world’s religions spring, that we diverse humans are all of one family. The Baha’i Faith is unlike other existing world religions as it does not claim to be the only “true” path or religion. The Baha’i Faith acknowledges all sacred traditions and religions as equal.

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