We now put our paws on oranges and olives

Olives and oranges dot backyards and some sidewalks here in Fresno.  In lots of other California localities as well.  This is, however, a bit of an anomaly for Elf, Opus and me, being fresh from New Mexico where neither tree grows, much.

Whoever thought these dogs might find themselves No-No’d for trying to snack on the fallen fruits?

 

A corgi is a

serious sort of dorgi

Funny and regal by turns

^^^

Dachs-terr, one bundle

Of snuggles and heart tugs

Soft eyes shine with joy

We have begun The Official Birthday Month of Elf the Corgi and Opus the Dachshund/Terrier.  Elf having been born seven years ago as of April 8, Opus twelve years as of May 1.

I figured there is no harm in giving them an entire month (almost) of being special between their natal observances this year, our first in Fresno, California.

These days when the two set forth on their trots around the ‘hood the fragrance of orange blossoms is powerful along the driveway behind out apartment compound and the lovely homes behind us.  The olive tree marks its presence by dropping lots of black  — very, very black — olives all over the backyard in which it stands.

Feral cats and brazen Mockingbirds, as well as the occasional tiny little chi-dog zooming by in its minuscule sweater, give E & O the urge to leap after them.  Alas, they have pretty much learned the hard city lesson about walking on bungee leashes.

Elf has been with me since the first few weeks of her life.  Opus for exactly half of his.  Do they ever miss the lovely dog door and fenced back yard they had in New Mexico?  Hard to be sure.  I suspect the company of my daughter, Jericha, and her husband, Francisco, goes far to dim any memories of the pleasure of running in and out at will.  Their outings are certainly more varied and far ranging than they were in our former little back yard.

In fact, we have all made a pretty good adjustment to city life, in California to boot.

Happy birthday, you little ones.  May your paws long take you through pretty vistas, where Mockers sing you their dazzling repertoires and olives might tumble on your innocent heads.

Silvio Rodriguez, the long-time Cuban poet/folk singer, often provides background music for me when I am a creative mood.  I love his gentle, thoughtful music and musings.  So today I am including ¿A Donde Van? (Where Are You Going?).  It’s a delightful wondering about what becomes of us, and things.  For an amusing insight into what it might mean, try using Google translate to give an English approximation of the Spanish lyrics.  For example:

What will my old shoes be converted to? 

Where did they go to give so many leaves of a tree? 

Where are the anxieties 

That from your eyes they jumped for me? 

It is a lovely song, though…

¿A Donde Van?

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.

Elf and Opus go to the sea

Elf and Opus went to the sea, in a beautiful pea green Jaguar.

Really.  Here they are, cruising by Pebble Beach….

Elf and Opus in Jag

During a morning walk on a lovely holiday weekend in September the pair  observed a vintage auto parked right in front of their rose-covered front yard.  Slung temptingly low to the ground, it had no roof to bar canine entry.  Best of all the tan leather seat was open to the air with nothing to stop occupants from following their noses wherever they led, the flow of delicious air in their ears.

Both canine minds instantly awoke to possibilities when they further observed that keys dangled within.  Most astonishingly, the old machine was fitted with hand controls for the driver, who must have been challenged for leg mobility just like their own person.

Lightning struck.  Elf and Opus looked at each other, light of possibility blazing from their eyes. They knew exactly what to do.

Managing to keep their condo door from latching as their person brought them back inside, out they sneaked at the first opportunity. Lurking in the dark hallway, still as statues beneath a usually useless silk philodendron, they waited until an elderly German neighbor, burdened with bags, opened the elevator door.

Whoosh!  In the duo hurried, tight behind him.  He being tall and they being about eight inches at the shoulders, they were never noticed. Out they flew behind his heels in the basement garage.  A squeeze through the bars of the rolling door was simple for them.   From there making their way to the front of the building was simple.

Before they were missed upstairs those two were seated in the beautiful machine — Opus had to leap in first, then open the door for Elf.  With her sturdy but short little legs she lacked his jumping abilities.

Being bossier, and aware of her status as royalty on the British Isles, she promptly took over the driver’s seat and off they went.  One powerful paw on the wheel, the other moving the hand control.  How many times had this intelligent Pembroke Welsh Corgi watched her person operate such adaptations.  She knew perfectly how to manage.

Not wishing to attract attention she piloted sedately as she and Opus used their noses to aim for the ocean that they had never seen.  She remembered the hop and skip to the Highway Going to Everywhere.

And see the Pacific they did, rolling up and down the coastal highway with the wind in their ears, ruffling thick fur and filling keen noses with scintillating whiffs of salt water, fish, sea birds, heavenly hot dogs and steaks cooking.

As for the people who gasped, pointed and stared at two dogs out for a holiday cruise, Elf and Opus steadfastly pointed their noses ahead and ignored them.

Maybe they’d think this was a new kind of Google self driving car.

They stopped long enough to chase somebody’s abandoned purple beach ball across a sandy spot on the shore — where there was even a yellow brick road to lead them back to the Jag when their tongues hung out almost to the ground from all the exercise.

Elf and Opus with palms and beach 3

…And when they woke up, there they were in their own condo, Opus sprawled on his blue duvet, Elf curled up in her bed beneath her person’s computer table.

All the person ever knew of this adventure was how deeply her beloved companions were sleeping today, and yet how their noses kept sniffing and snuffling…  How fast Elf’s front paws moved occasionally, what joyous little yips she let out, just like when she chased her purple jolly ball around their old back yard.  And how fast they had emptied their water bowl the moment they awakened!

The vintage Jag has vanished.  The purple jolly ball, tucked away in our storage vault, seems to have been moved around.

So here sits the human, haunted by a waking vision of her canine cutups.  Into her head pops a sketch:

E_&_O_Jag_sketch

Uh oh, have they been up to something again?

Opus on duvet
Sleepy Opus on his duvet.  This boy, eleven years of age, is ready to take off on an adventure at the drop of a kibble bit.