Boxed in in balmy California

E Boxed inWe arrived at our destination in northern California a few days ago, frazzled by two days and a night of steady driving — me with complaining  back and numb leg, questions as to why I was doing this buzzing ever louder within my grasshopper brain.

Sleep was something that occurred in brief snatches for days on end.  When we got here we functioned like zombies.  The condition has not worn off quite yet.  In the photo I am hallucinating about having a box bonfire right here in my living room.  Which has a lovely fireplace not quite large enough for the conflagration I have in mind for my now unwanted possessions.

Jericha muddled along in her normal state of cheerful serenity, rescuing me any number of times when I had difficulty getting in and out of the Ford Taurus we’d rented, even public restrooms and other stops along the way.  My daughter, however, has evolved into a back seat driver.  This I discovered whenever it was my turn to drive.  She notifies me that I drive too far to the right.  Frequently.

Oy!  Reminds me of her paternal grandparents, who were dreaded by all the family whenever they shared a car.  And to think that Jericha never went anywhere with those grandparents perched in a back seat.

Do you suppose the back-seat driver gene passes silently from one generation to the second one down?

Then began the real exhausting part — unloading belongings from a tightly packed twenty foot U-Haul into a small apartment, which I share with my daughter and another woman.  Lugging that impedimenta up to the second floor took the efforts of five people one day, three the next.  This all caused a certain horror at how proud I had been — in some former life time — of how much I had reduced my stuff!

So here I be, in a small area of sanity set up for my computer in the midst of a large living room that is packed so full of my boxes that there’s not room for anybody but me — in my wheelchair — to sit down.  Friendly arrangement, eh?

How do you do a sudden yard sale in a city?

dogs in new digs
Elf and Opus patrolling the region between the balcony and the dining room table

The roomies work and have evening activities, and hence are gone more often than not.  That’s their opportunity to sit down.  As often as the preschoolers they work with let them, that is.

The dogs and I nap and moan, munch, unpack, nap and moan some more.

In the midst of this striving to compress the matter of the universe into something the size of a pea, my power wheelchair’s batteries got damaged when I failed to observe that they desperately needed charging.  Medicare won’t get me new ones till I’ve seen a California doctor and gotten pre authorizations.  A leg brace picked this particular time to pop a rivet, and also needs to meet up with a specialist!

How further lovely that the doctor assigned to me by Medicare is on vacation for the next three weeks, and nobody else can see me since she didn’t get me in ahead of time.  Not her fault — I was too tired to call for an appointment first thing Monday.  Oh — she was already gone before I arrived, anyhow.  A fact that a Humana representative of my Medicare Advantage plan told me some twenty times meant that I’d just have to wait a month.

“You wait a month to get yourself a set of new legs to get you around when your current ones cease operating early one morning, lady,” I muttered to myself during her infinite loop.

Eventually I got a new doctor.  The process took a whole day.

As for getting anywhere as important as that initial doctor visit — I postponed buying a vehicle in favor of taking some time to explore less costly alternatives to wheelchair minivans.  Now I am at the mercy of ride services in order to get to my new doctor’s office.

The ride-finding process has already taken a whole day and is not done yet.

All is not bone weariness and heaps of cardboard, though.  Here are a few photos from the trip.  Taking shots from the car proved unprofitable, so I didn’t get many on the road.

parting panorama
Jericha and me all ready to climb in the rental car and leave my New Mexico home
helpers at sunset
My travel helpers — Jericha, my daughter, and her friends Brian, who has lived in many places, and Yao, from Beijing.  My final New Mexico sunset behind them.
hot paws
Elf and Opus went to the Grand Canyon, where it was 102º, and their paws got too hot
Grand Canyon dogs 2
At the Grand Canyon with Jericha.  Elf and Opus could bear no more of the burning heat on their paws, so I took over a shady patch with them while the others wandered along the South Rim.  We met a fair number of other dogs touring the place, including a 17 year old chihuahua mix riding in the arms of his human and a jumpy young Akita female.  I found this to be a very relaxing way of taking in the canyon.
dogs on sidewalk
From country dogs to city dogs, Elf and Opus waiting outside a colorful bungalow where we hired a couple of men to finish unloading the U-Haul.
balcony plants 1
One corner of our balcony, where my bonsai join Jericha’s large collection of succulents and Shirley’s flowering plants.  There’s construction on the building next door, so the swimming pool between us is tapped over for now.




Edge-of-my-seat hours to pass

Today’s quite a day.  I’ll get to the bit about me, but first, in the greater world scientific advances and very much good energy, many prayers are needed.

The news brings a report of bacteria that resist all antibiotics, including those last ditch ones that desperate doctors use to try to stop such monster killers as flesh eating bacteria and extreme forms of tuberculosis.  ’Tis the End of the Age of Ant’biotics — sung to the tune of Dawning of the Age of Aquarius if you’re old enough to remember that one…

A writer friend’s elderly mother two days ago underwent surgery to remove a blood clot.  Yesterday there was a massive stroke, the doctors say it is only a matter of time for this dearly loved woman…

Somewhere in the northern midsection of the USA on Friday a determined, hard working Native American boy is graduating from high school.  Because he rose to meet his challenges bravely in order to finish (being Native in a white school can be a form of walking over fiery coals) his People gave him an honoring feather.  That is, a feather of the mighty Golden Eagle, a feather that solely Native people are allowed to possess in the US.  And because they are ignorant, administrators of the high school have decreed that the boy shall not wear his eagle feather of honor if he means to graduate from their school.  Christian crosses, Stars of David — fine.  But eagle feathers belonging to people who have been the targets of genocide by white incomers to the USA for five hundred years — sorry, kiddo.  We prefer not to be reminded of your unwelcome race and religion.

The proud eagle feather was likened to the miserable Nazi swastika.

The sickness  that holds humanity in chains deepens when people think like that.

As an aged white woman pleased to belong to a multi cultural nation I want to rush into the offices of that high school, grab people by the shoulders and shake them till their heads roll.  As a Baha’i woman, pleased to belong to the global family of humankind, I stay put and pray for the illumination of souls that abide in such limiting darkness.  And I write, because this hurts so much.  When will we humans learn to celebrate our differences and find ways to get along with one another on this wee blue planet we all inhabit and urgently need to take better care of?

Nobody sees when you try to fight dark with more dark.

…I confess to a  quiet wish that a screaming Golden Eagle would dive bomb the administrators during the graduation ceremony…  Those giant birds are far more terrifying than the relatively gentle Bald Eagle that became the official bird of the USA long ago…

My personal good news includes that once again I traversed Belén’s bumpy roads — cracked and alligatored, potholed and uneven as though those ancient dormant volcanoes we call the West Mesa around here had awakened recently and shaken the tiny city a bit — and my power wheelchair did NOT stop dead.  And that though I have recently leaned down many times to pick things up off floors and the ground there was no falling out of my wheelchair since the last couple of blogs.

So why am I sitting here writing this?  Because this morning’s email brought me the excellent news that the USDA and its busted down computer system have released my house buyer’s loan (two days late) with a stamp that says Approved.  That my realtor is pushing hard for a Friday (tomorrow!) closing and funding for me.  That the lender has put a rush on the whole thing, and a sharp eye at the title company is watching for the title to come through.

Tomorrow could end up being a Big Day hereabouts.

So what did I do in my joy, before barely assimilating the emails?  Called the van company guy who does the shipping to wheelchair customers all over the US, from Atlanta.   They’ve been holding up another delivery in hopes of a speedy closing so I can pay them for the van I’m buying.

And what did he tell me? …. “I wish I’d known this yesterday.  I just put the other van we have going to New Mexico on a truck that left here about two hours ago.”

Well, I wish I had known yesterday too, dude, dear.  Long after the van business had closed down for the day on the east coast, we here across Earth’s curved crust in Mountain Time were still chewing our nails and I had a hissy fit.  Told the realtor that if the funding wouldn’t get through by the early part of next week — holiday and all — I would call quits to the whole thing.  Might as well, since my helpers would not be available to load and drive the rental truck otherwise.  And no, they couldn’t leave without me, and no, I couldn’t climb into the rental truck for reasons that have to do with me needing a wheelchair van to begin with.  And no, the van company would not be thrilled to have to deliver my van to me later in California rather than New Mexico, either…

If I hadn’t received word that all was good for a closing date of May 11 I wouldn’t have gone ahead, ordered the van, scheduled moving into the new rented condo (really expensive!) in Mountain View, California, and my daughter wouldn’t have booked her flight here after recruiting two good helpers to come along and drive our rental truck with my belongings back. All three of them have already rescheduled their trips, with penalty, once.  No more, no más,  So there.

This morning I felt rather ashamed of myself for the sharp words.  Yet, I asked Elf and Opus, wasn’t it true?  Much as living in a French (or Anasazi) cave with no clocks but the sun appeals to me sometimes, that isn’t the way the real estate world works.  Hours make a big difference in business.  And my hours to complete this earth shaking (to me) project are running right down on the wire.

When I read the lender and realtor emails a couple of hours ago I felt so elated that I wanted to grab boxes and start throwing in dishes and such.

But…  That felt a little like a jinx.  Hey, Me, you aren’t superstitious, eh?  No….  But why not take a bit of time out and write a blog while you give the title time to show up and the process to unfold itself?

So, that’s what I’m doing.

My last post had a suddenly inspired drawing I did on an iPad after falling out of my wheelchair in the backyard.  It depicts a bizarre sunset I viewed out my kitchen window over the West Mesa a couple of years ago.

This time I thought to share with you one of my earlier attempts to draw that peculiar, brilliant scene.  Once again I left out the clutter of buildings and trees between my home and the mesa.  I also greatly simplified the structure of the mesa and the tendrils of the crazy clouds.


Doing that same artistic erasing of background “noise”, here’s another iPad drawing I did during a snowstorm a while back.  It’s the tall banana yucca in my front yard against the back drop of that same mesa.  My neighbors might blink at the disappearance of their homes and trees, but hey, who’s doing the drawing here, eh?

Yucca in snow sm_1024

Tree glow

The Moving Blogs

When needing away time from the steady sorting and selling of possessions that dominates my life for the time being, I seek reassurance that the world spins, madly, joyously or ponderously depending on your frame of mind.  That the sun shines through clouds that have been covering the skies here, more often than not, for several weeks.  Seldom giving more than spits of moisture to this arid spot on the planet.

Emerging leaves hang limp as wilted flowers on some trees.  One day of gentle rain does not a season make.

My old friends, trees, stand ready to suggest ways of defining one’s life in a material world other than by the steady procession of chairs, cupboards, antique tools, carving benches and breadboxes hand painted in the 1930s.

Not that part of this selling and sorting hasn’t been fun.  Some neat and nice people have drifted through here, stuffing little cars and SUVs with such items as my dear old wood carver’s bench, shelving, a pine cupboard, all manner of artist stuff, blocks of good carving wood, my dad’s old oak dolly, the odd chair and more.

Even the bartering has been amusing.  One guy tried hard to get me to accept big, messy pieces of sound equipment in return for two board feet of curly maple.  Ha, what does downscaling me need with a monster like that, with its wires hanging out all over the place?  Eventually I gifted him with the maple in return for his good efforts.  He had come all the way down here, on his last drops of gas, to collect something the previous day’s amusing barterer had forgotten to take with him.  After paying for it and all.

We appear to function in a perpetual state of bemusement around here.

These New Mexican trees are friendlier to me now that word has come through that my daughter, a friend and I were not chosen to rent the wonderful house in Santa Clara that has orange trees and beautiful flowering things in its yard.  So the search goes on in the Silicon Valley by my daughter and her colleague at work, who would share our living space.  Which is to say, they spend their lunch hours driving about, checking on leads, searching for a place to share, while I am feverishly downscaling the number of things I can take from my house to fit into my portion of said living space.

A day or two ago the heavily pruned apple tree in the back yard showed off glowing green leaves against the southern sun, while overhead a fruitless mulberry offered bright tassels.  Which, I noted dolefully, were firing off volleys of the pollen that so plugs up my nose with allergies every spring.

apple tree light
The pollen shooting mulberry and big apple tree

I was, nevertheless, pleased enough to be away from things long left to grow musty in closets indoors that I grinned up at the pollen cannons, marveling that I had never before observed the spouts of fine dust being ejected somehow from one tassel after another.  Remarkable!  How does the tree do that?

And, in case you didn’t know, fruitless mulberries are only too capable of reproducing themselves even without those red-purple berries on real mulberry trees that stain everything they touch.  So I think they’re scarcely an improvement on the original.

Having sold my faithful Ford truck I am without means of transportation other than my wheelchair for the time being.  Farewell trips to the Very Large Array (featured in Carl Sagan’s Contact), Chaco Canyon, the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, Indian reservations where there are social events going on, even the Gran Quivera ruins nearby are out of the question. But even with the Ranger in the garage they were inaccessible, so what’s to fuss about?

Thus my farewell tour of the state that’s been home for 24 years altogether involves pausing here and there as I do my errands.

community garden - spring
Belén’s Community Garden from across the way
pretty bug_1024
Long horned beetle on a globe mallow, at my old place

Today I stopped to contemplate Belén’s cheerful little community garden in its spring form.  In between my visits troops of people had swept in, cleared away the dead stalks of last year’s growth and begun preparing soil in raised planters for a new year of cosmos, tomatoes, zinnias and squashes.  Rows of giant sunflowers go around the fences, mostly.  It is fun to see that they’ve worked in a few native globemallows, too.  With their bright orange flowers on tall stalks those featured in the wildflower “meadow” in my previous big yard.  Even more exciting were the long horned beetles they attracted.


A few blocks away at the public library the first little red poppy of the year was poking its perfectly round, fire engine red head up from amongst creeping junipers lining the sidewalk.

poppy in a crack_1024
A little red poppy growing in a sidewalk crack by the public library, from last summer

A long-boarded up building has been transformed into offices where children experiencing difficulties in public school go for various support services.  Even decaying little old cities in the desert, far from anywhere important, can renew themselves.

It’s soothing to my grasshopper mind these days to find the human world as well as nature going on doing what it generally does, quite unaffected by what little folk like me think of as galumphing great changes ahead of us.

And I think of a few lines from the late Native American activist John Trudell’s poem, The Moremes:

There’s me, there’s the other me

There’s another me, and then

There are the moremes

We’ve all got a domino to play so

We’ve been trying to work it out

We don’t know how your life turned

Or what all that means

But me and the mes

We’ve already seen

What we couldn’t do

This is what I’m doing these days, awaiting the closing of my house.  After that, scheduled for May 13, I can fund the wheelchair van I’m purchasing from a place in Georgia that specializes in such conversions.  It will be a 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan with about 86,000 miles on it.  After it arrives — and I learn how to use the various adaptations! — we will pack a truck with furniture and boxes, get Elf and Opus into their travel crates and head out down the highways.

Over the mountains, across the salt flats — such as they are these days — and into busy, empty, crowded, dry, wet, green, golden, urban, agricultural, tech hub, beach-y, desert-y, forested by giants, mountainous, multi cultural, liberal, conservative California.  The laid back hippie descendants, the hard headed business people, the gentle gurus, the Hollywood types, the migrant workers, the tree huggers, the almost exterminated Indian tribes clawing their way back from oblivion into public acceptance, the acquifer drainers, Big Ag, innovative small farmers, the youthful tech entrepreneurs with laser focus.  Such crazy contradictions as make up the Golden State.

Can hardly wait.  Especially to find out exactly where we are going to be living!