Chaos into calm

Turquoise pools of summer…

disconsolate beneath 

the clouds of winter


Matcha mountains in my tea bowl

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another, says the first law of thermodynamics.  This week’s chaos brought me too much negative energy — which I now offer back to the world, filtered as transformative energy.

A person’s reality depends upon how one perceives a thing.  These same iconic California apartment swimming pools, mentioned in today’s haiku up top, by turns might feel exotic, refreshing, cold, evocative of shivers, reminders of dreariness.

This past week gave me pause to consider questions about reality.  Reality increasingly settles on shifting sand, to me.

A week back I was anticipating an excellent week to come.

My power wheelchair repairs, eagerly awaited for a record period of six months of Medicare hell, were at last scheduled for Monday.  The repair company called me to make a Monday appointment, then misplaced the parts. Without them on Monday, then, the technician left the office.  Three calls into the aging day turned up that explanation for why no technician had appeared on my doorstep.  I explained politely that my entire week was built around getting those long-promised repairs done that day.  Ultimately the tech said he would come very early on Tuesday.  As early as 7 a.m.

So up I rose on Tuesday, earlier than my normal 5:30.  To wait, and wait… and wait.  The man eventually appeared sometime after 9 a.m.  In no time it was apparent that this was one squeaky clean tech, brand new to the trade.  He was deliberate and careful, but seemed to me to be doing things in the most complicated manner.

Still, I bit my tongue.

Five hours later my daughter and I knew that our planned trip down to Fresno to check out apartments and deliver packed moving boxes was not going to happen.  The six hours of driving back and forth wouldn’t give us the time needed.

Plus I had cancelled my Monday appointment at California’s busy Department of Motor Vehicles to both register my wheelchair van and get a California driver’s license.  The legal bit about driving…  Now I would have to accomplish this complex matter later in the week, without an appointment since no more were available.  Using time previously blocked out for other really important matters, such as finding a place to live in Fresno. Time closes in around me.

My stomach got all clenched up, the rest of me kind of hottish and uncomfortable the way things go in the presence of stress.

We thought this way and that way about the proceedings after the tech left us and my beautifully fixed up power wheelchair — deciding that the best thing about the long day was that, well, there it was, the well functioning machine of mine.

That unclenched the stress, for a time.

On Wednesday the DMV visit was in order, with no appointment.  Long lines at these various offices are legendary, so — hoping that the upcoming holiday would keep people busy elsewhere — I arrived at the Santa Clara branch twenty minutes ahead of opening only to find a good one hundred shivering people lined up in a long snake across the front door area.

So off to the next closest DMV in San Jose I went, with Google Maps to guide me.

Google Maps, which works so well in my daughter’s Android phone, which kept us flowing unconcernedly along highways, through places we had never been, so many times…  Google Maps, almost the gold standard of GPS for drivers.


Lately it’s been a question to me, whether Apple deliberately sabotages Google Maps in iPhones, because whenever I have departed from the programmed course GM has sent me in circles, aiming me at my destination by pointing through infinite numbers of small residential areas and crowded downtowns, not directing me to the highways that I know must be somewhere close by.

The Wednesday trip confirmed the suspicion that, for whatever reason, GM Does Not Work Well in My iPhone.   For once in San Jose I missed a turn, kept going in the assumption that I would simply take the next right turn and be right as rain. Ha!  GM went off into Rerouting mode and stuck there for ten minutes.

Meantime, the ABS warning light started to show up on the dashboard.  Heavens, are the brakes already failing in my new-to-me van?

Eventually I stopped in a parking lot to check the meaning of an ABS light in the van’s handbook, discovered this isn’t an emergency, but should be looked at in due course.  Fine, next week.  Then I tried resetting GM, discovering that it was only going to send me in loops around the same dozen city blocks until, again, I would have to concede defeat.

So I stayed in the parking lot and did what any sensible mother of a mature daughter might do — I called Jericha, who put up with my sniffles of emoting before she directed me to the DMV.

At which place I rapidly discovered one very nice thing — they have a special line for handicapped clients, and nobody was in it.  Once at the counter I discovered one not so great thing — that in these days of illegal aliens and terrorists a person cannot expect to wrest a simple driver’s license and registration out of a DMV as we could the last time I registered a vehicle (2004).  Oh, no, I had to have my birth certificate, which I did have with me — alongside documentation of my life’s name changes, which I never anticipated submitting to any bureaucratic process like this.

So I called my faithful daughter again.  She rummaged through my file cabinet till she found the requisite marriage certificate and divorce decree, which she drove down to me.

Thinking, oh, joy, home stretch now, off I went to the registrations desk.  The DMV website states that any vehicle six or less model years old does not need a smog test.  “Yes, it says that,” said the snappy Latina at the desk, “but I still need a smog test from you.”

And, it appeared, they also required that I go to a different DMV for “vehicle verification,” to assure that my van, bought in a different state, was actually the same one as the one in the title and on the purchase invoice.

Off to get the smog test I went.  Courtesy of Apple Maps, I found a testing place without much difficulty.

On came Day 4 of the difficult week.  Ditching Google Maps in favor of Apple Maps, I chose to use H.S.Highway 101 rather than the more pleasant routes (and their various road changes) for the twenty minute trip to San Jose.“It’s working so well,” I chortled to myself as Apple Maps seamlessly delivered me to the address of the DMV.  There was no view of the building as I drove up with the pleasant Siri voice telling me to turn right. Parking carefully in a wheelchair van spot, I made my way to the front door thinking what a warm and friendly DMV!  … A burly pony tailed man swept open the door for me, revealing a room…. full of tables where people were eating brunch.

Uh…  This doesn’t look like a DMV, I muttered.  “Oh, that,” said Burly Man, “The DMV is two blocks in the other direction and on the other side of the street.”  Which would have been a left turn, not the right turn Apple Maps commanded me to do.

So much for Apple Maps.

After two hours at the appropriate DMV I left — triumphant!  Resisting the urge to kiss my brand new California license plates and the DMV employee who handed them to me, I was so pleased to be in that moment and not some other over the past four days that I barely noticed that I was exiting via the enter-only driveway of the DMV — while two or three “peace officers” were standing around behind me, staring.

Thankfully a polite driver stopped to let me out onto the street before the cops got around to waving me down…

So now here I be, satisfied with the past week after all.  My daughter made a solo visit to Fresno to both check out an apartment for me, and deliver a bunch of packed boxes to her fiancé’s garage.  Then she brought him back here for a long weekend — so she is happy despite my inability to get myself down there with a van full of boxes.  She had been rather glum about that for a while.

Still feeling the spirit of celebration today, while Paco and Jericha were off doing things, I made myself a tea bowl of matcha…  Which, once drunk, left exquisite patterns all around the interior of the bowl.  Hence today’s photos.

Sure, these macro images show dredges of matcha powder.  A different way to read tea leaves.  Well — I don’t read tea leaves and don’t ask anyone to read tea leaves.  But when I look at these I see that if an avatar of me were to enter the lovely scene in the top photo from below she would be first faced with the option of marching into a dark cave of discovery at the bottom.  Should she decide, instead, to climb up a steep wall, before her would roll high and lovely green mountains, from which she could see the world unfolding all around.

And it would be a good, green, sustainable world, thought I.  Somehow, people will find ways gradually to unite and rally around the prospect of making it so.  I would send my filtered bad, stressed energy back out into the world as something different, transformative.

And with that, I say, happy holidays!  May the hard bits make upcoming challenges sweet as we appreciate good results from our collective efforts, as we come to appreciate our differences as strengths, creatively applying ourselves to big human problems.


Energy through matcha, different view

Driving through some changes

Something Wild, uTube with Lindsey Stirling and Andrew McMahon

If you’re lost out where the lights are blinding

Caught in all, the stars are hiding

That’s when something wild calls you home, home

If you face the fear that keeps you frozen

Chase the sky into the ocean

That’s when something wild calls you home, home

~Something Wild, Andrew McMahon and Lindsey Stirling

“You’re stronger than you know.”

Good to be thinking.

I’ve generally enjoyed making changes in my life, despite being a methodical person who depends on regular little daily sub-schedules, on things staying in their assigned places so I don’t need to spend time hunting for them.  As a handicapped individual with mobility challenges this aspect of organization serves me well.

Sometimes a whole lot of changes show up in a short period… and I do feel something beyond simply dizzy.

Such as now.

Only last June Elf, Opus and I found ourselves squeezed into a rental Ford Taurus that had hand controls different enough from those I’d been using in other vehicles that I barely managed to brake in time to avoid T-boning a big white panel truck.  We were accompanied from our long time home in the middle of New Mexico by an enormous rent-a-truck jammed to capacity with three generations of family belongings.  Headed for California’s gorgeous Bay Area.  Which in short order I learned to love for its glorious trees, land, mountains and salt water, for the tech companies all around, the whizz-bang techie culture, the marked diversity amongst the humans, plus many other things.

Maybe a tad less the super laid-back vineyard-visiting, fine wine cultures that can … once in a while … feel … a bit … removed from normal American life.  But hey, I’ve been a middle class person mainly,  without time for too much laying back.

Now we are preparing to leave this pleasant, if costly region for the more normal all-American mid-section of California known as the Central Valley.  That’s the place where corporate farmers struggle for water to continue growing nut and fruit trees and where over half the fruit, nuts and vegetables in the US have been grown — despite a severe five year drought that depletes ground water supplies alarmingly.  Cities are sinking as the water level drops, along with farming acreage.

It’s a place where big issues will continue playing out for a long time regarding global warming, the difficult and sometimes awful choices to be made about what lives and what dies.  Endangered salmon versus thirsty almonds.

Occupying a huge section of California between the coast and the mountains just before Nevada, this valley starts around Bakersfield in the south, ends was up around Redding in the north.  In the middle near Yosemite, Fresno, at something over half a million people, is its largest city.

My own preparations for this next move began with acquiring my first wheelchair van, a 2010 Dodge Caravan with some 76,000 miles on it.  Time to knock off denial of my gradual physical deterioration.  My dream was to whizz around in a gorgeous new little Tesla, but the reality is that electric vehicles aren’t ready to provide power for the ramps nor the space that wheelchairs need. Soooo….

Meet the van, which goes under the working nickname WV (Wheelchair Van) for now.


I’ve had it three weeks today, and as of next Monday it will (hopefully) be registered with the DMV and I’ll have my California driver’s license.  Such is the busy-ness of the state’s motor vehicle division that it takes that long to get the necessary done, by appointment.

Getting WV all set up with the kind of chair anchoring system you need in order to drive from your wheelchair rather than the usual seat took the entire Thanksgiving week, and then some.   Then began two serious learning curves of wheelchair driving — one, figuring out how to position the wheelchair into the lock so that the mechanism would agree to unlock and let me out when I needed it to.   Still working on that, though things are improving.  The actual driving, if one has been doing it for over forty years, comes back even after six months of inactivity.  The second adjustment — for me, anyhow — is adjusting to Google Maps on my iPhone, which must sit in the cup holder just under the right wheelchair arm.

Either Apple makes getting proper directions a bumpy process where its arch rival in smartphones is concerned, or I’m missing something.

My first trips alone in WV were up and down 101, sort of — because Maps would send me off or away from the highway and into useless little residential regions of Silicon Valley.  Where I experienced the dull thud mentality of passing streets with names like Semiconductor Way near Texas Instruments in…  well, I don’t actually know if that was Santa Clara, Sunnyvale or what.

Alone I also indulged my love of watching salt water riffle in the wind out near the western bottom of San Francisco Bay.  Seabirds wove their powerful way through air currents on business only they can understand, sailboats bobbed as pines along the shore bowed to air power.  The kind of cool, windy day in the Bay Area that makes me glad to be observing the outdoors from inside a warmish vehicle.

Last weekend my daughter, Elf, Opus and I took our respective spots in WV for an apartment-hunting expedition 160 miles southeast in Fresno.  That’s a place, in the midst of the San Joaquin Valley, I had not visited in the past, so it was with keen interest that I took stock of subtle changes in geography as we left the green coastal areas, crossed the Coastal Range east of Gilroy in the rain, to flatten out in what looked just about perfect for New Mexico.  Scraggly batches of trees crowded together in corners between tracts of land here and there.  Sky, sky, high and all around, so much vaster than what lies below the atmosphere with its burden of carbon, methane and other abnormal quantities of chemicals.  It presses down on the endless fields.

At first we were in another natural New Mexico landscape — sheep country.  Except here, rather than out with Navajo sheepherders and their dogs in rough chapparal or mountainous terrain the woolies grazed in large, flat, empty-ish square areas.  All sorts of sheep in various colors and sizes, with and without horns and black faces.  Despite the vast surrounding lots, true to their nature as herd animals the sheep clustered together.

After some miles of them, up popped a few red country billboards.  Make America Great Again, some alluding to a contentious water bill then moving through the US Congress — Is Politics More Important Than Food?

For those of you who care about the environment and/or the food grown here for so much of the country (and world) — the bill passed a few days ago.  Pitting California’s two long-serving women senators against one another.  One favored holding enough water to protect endangered species of fish and other creatures further north, the other was intent on striking a balance — of sorts— between the environment she also has long fought for, and the interests of Big Agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley.  The latter was what passed in the bill this week.  (And I have much simplified what is in its complexity.)

All of that latter matter served to make getting acquainted with a special Baha’i woman near where I now live all the more inspiring this week.  She, too, is deeply concerned with sustainability and other environmental questions, and has come to champion no till farming as an emerging method that does the earth good with every crop.  A question perhaps for a different blog, no till or carbon farming has chiefly been adopted by farmers in Great Plains states — notably a “red” region of the USA.  Which serves to bring people of differing political persuasions into collaboration when it comes to things so basic to life as agriculture and maintaining a healthy earth.

If I’d thought the acreage around the lovely Gilroy area was spread out enough to be “Big Ag”, my daughter had scoffed at me.  As we got closer and closer to Fresno I could see what she meant.  That acreage goes on till the earth curves in the distance.  Often in all directions.  Never saw anything quite like it before, in person.  All in a zone of semi desert.

We will be moving to lovely Fresno within the next month. Once landed there we met up with Paco, my soon-to-be son-in-law, to visit a couple of apartment complexes, lunch with Elf and Opus at tables outside a Subway, admire a lot full of Christmas trees sprayed with fake snow, chase the dogs away from an encroaching rat, then to experience a medium-heavy rainfall that discouraged further apartment checking for that day.  After a lovely dinner at Paco’s off we rolled into the night, where there was only music to muse about amidst the blackness of scenery during our return trip.  The wistful, rhythmic violin of Lindsey Stirling with various pop singers kept us awake.

Altogether it feels like WV and I will get along, assuming that Paco doesn’t mind keeping the removable, substantial driver’s seat in his garage.

With the wedding a mere month away we now begin that awful process known as Packing the Boxes.  Moving them south bit by bit.  Sorting through furniture and other things with an eye to parting with as much as we can.

Oh — and planning the wedding, creating the decorations that Jericha wants to fill the hall they are renting.

Not dizzy much, me, till I start thinking of moving and marrying at the same time.  Thank heaven that it is my daughter and not myself doing the marrying!

And that’s the reason for the song up at the top. When life makes me woozy it’s the Something Wild that restores my belief in the goodness of being alive.

Down time beyond the next month I will love looking back at our days and friends here in Silicon Valley, at the wonderful wedding, at our WV journeys, the discovery of another new home area.  While I’m rattled those wild places do, indeed call me home even more powerfully than usual.

Changeable times

Holidays in the Bay Area are not what I have been accustomed to in New Mexico.  Early December shows off  tall palms waving in the sea breezes, while the streets of Mountain View are a riot of color with trees glowing warm in their fall hues.  There may be snow in some mountains, but down here one is sheltered.

Lots going on this season, starting well before Thanksgiving when my daughter became engaged to Someone Very Special — our friend Paco Rendon.  AKA Francisco James Rendon, who lives in Fresno at present.

Her loyal mother agreed not to mention the matter via social media till the couple had finished privately telling family and friends, then made their own announcement.  So here we are!

Now I am longing for the mid-January wedding so this weekend commuting (nearly three hours each way) between Fresno and Silicon Valley by Jericha and Paco can be done with.  Just a teensy little wedding in the works with, oh, not more than a hundred dear friends on hand to witness it.

I was hoping for not more than six people, including the couple and parents — but that was shot down as a miserable excuse of an idea.  He grew up in the Bay Area, she’s lived here for years, and both are outgoing with lots of friends.  Silly old mom.

Elf and Opus are fortunate that Jericha, who has lived in Silicon Valley for quite a few years, has friends willing to pick up dog walks when she is out of town.  And they love their outings with Paco when he’s here.  He’s 6’5” and gives those short little legs a great workout.

Jericha and Paco at Apple

Here are Jericha and Paco in a not-too-long-ago photo, mugging it up at One Infinity Loop, Cupertino, California.  We were visiting Apple’s old campus because of my desire to see it before the big move over to their new donut building on the other side of town. Which won’t be for many months — we also checked construction there.  I, too, am off to Fresno shortly and may not get back to this area any time soon.

Our seasonal holidays have been a bit unusual so far this year.  There was an early Thanksgiving dinner since Paco needed to be in upstate New York for the actual holiday.

And so, being my daughter of the familiar old habits (not obsessive, but definitely driven) Jericha spent the actual holiday (bracketed by days around it) dyeing her wedding dress in our teensy galley kitchen, till she achieved just the shade she was going for.

I’ll show only the beginning and finished colors (before the dress dried rather lighter than in the photo).  This was a long, drawn out and messy process, and Jericha loved every moment, boiling water and all.  The dogs…  maybe not so enthusiastic since no food was being dropped.

Jericha starts the dye process while the dogs look on
All done!  Once dried the color lightened to a warm tan, as Jericha intended.

She also set up a living room production line for creating big, colorful paper flowers.  Yup, lots of dyeing and drying involved with these, as well.

But those holidays won’t be ignored.  Our roomie, Shirley, is involved in theatre and other thespian events, and she gifted us with tickets to a long standing, popular San Francisco tradition, the Dickens Fair.  That’s a recreation (of sorts) of the kind of Christmas that inspired Charles Dickens to write his best loved book, A Christmas Carol.  Scores of actors in period costume put on shows, sing, run a Punch and Judy booth along with various other shows.  Some promenade about the enormous Cow Palace while speaking in tongues …  Er, in Dickens style English.  With English, Irish and Scottish accents.

Mr. Dickens even makes an appearance from time to time, and met up with my iPhone camera.

Jericha was so enchanted by a jewelry concession that we spent about three fourths of our time there in choosing a wedding ring.  They are ordering Paco’s ring separately from a design that he picked out.

There is news — for a different blog — about my new wheelchair van, but since it had not arrived in time for the Dickens Fair Jericha was pushing me around in my manual wheelchair.  As we journeyed through the immense, darkened, old London-like Cow Palace I propped my iPhone on my lap, popping off photos of people in costumes going about their business as they would have when Mr. Dickens wrote his Christmas Carol.

The last photo of the day was of Mr. Dickens himself, who graciously posed in front of me even though he did not realize I was taking photos — at least, I don’t believe that he did.

So here are a few favorites from the ones that turned out well enough to survive the mass deletion process. Click on them to enlarge.

Fall colors in December, sailboats bobbing on San Francisco Bay off Shoreline Park, moving boxes everywhere in our condo, a daughter venturing into a new married life, Elf, Opus and me into our separate headquarters nearby — and a whole new-to-me part of California to explore, now I have a wheelchair van.  Man, am I dizzy!

Paco is a journalist in the music industry.  He probably wouldn’t pick this song for right here any more than Jericha would.  But whose blog is this, anyway?  I like Ho Hey by the Lumineers and it is about being in love.  😉  This video features seasonal type lights and was filmed in a darkened building reminiscent of the Cow Palace at Dickens Fair time, so there you go.

Ho Hey, Lumineers