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.

Nine days after the world changed

Hate is a poison
Love is a remedy
Singing out like the sweetest of melodies
Hope is a ghost in the deepest of memories
Stronger than ten of me
Fear is the enemy
In the dark and it creeps like a shark
In the coldest sea
In the deepest part but
Hope is the beat in the oldest heart
A hand in a hand and a brand new start ….

Love is the truest of words
Love is the last winter bird
Love is the only song I’ll sing

~Passenger, Coins in a Fountain

This past week and two days has been a mood swinging period for me.  Along with a great many other people, it appears.

We have such crazy hopes going, those of us who were knocked over by recent US election results.  Hopes that since the winning candidate flip flops a lot he will eventually “do the right thing” by minorities, women, the LGBT community, understanding the science of climate change and why it is so vital to protect our planet from ourselves.

Then come the cold fingers of realization to remind us of that old Native American story about the person who picked up a snake to carry it away from a danger, only to be bitten by it upon setting the creature down in a better location.  “You knew I was a snake when you picked me up…” it hisses.

But, but… Doesn’t each human being have the intrinsic ability to go suddenly beyond themselves, to get a glimpse of the greater good?  To be inspired?

It is heartening to see a lot of people hard at work, building bridges with others who may have voted differently yet have much in common.  The ones who believe in human rights for people of all colors, genders, sexual preferences, religions, disabilities, who believe in wholehearted support of the Paris agreement, the ones who have lost not only their jobs, but their very way of life that goes back generations in coal mining country, who have had their jobs sent overseas.  I was one of the latter back in 2006, when AOL closed down its American call centers, sending all the calls we once took to India.

The ones in rural areas of the country, including the western states where I have spent decades, fed up with universal federal rules applied to their lives and very particular livelihoods…

And those from any subset who reach across ideological borders to say to one another, “We are all Americans here.”

There is no going back, for anybody, to the days when coal was king, women and minorities “knew their place” and LGBT people kept their heads down in public.  There is also no going back to the days when Planet Earth kept a normal temperature, species were not going extinct massively, glaciers were ice and the oceans had predictable habits around shorelines.

No, there is never any going backwards for the human race, we are left to pick our way through the present towards other ways of life. We can choose what to honor though there is no choice but to deal with these matters or live in a moribund state of nostalgia.  We choose only  how much to work together or put ourselves in isolation, stagnation, the trouble that comes from trying to insist that there is only one angle for seeing things in a 360º circle of possibilities.

Maybe it took this one Very Unusual US President Elect in order to vividly bring into the open long neglected needs and set aside aspirations of disparate parts of the US population?  As some rise, why are others losing out?

On such bridge building I stake my happiness in life.  As a Baha’i woman it is my core belief that the human race is one family, with a common God, on one small planet among countless galaxies with endless suns, many of which have their own planets — and possibilities.

But for over a week I have been subject to periods of very dark near despair in my concern for our minorities who now face an Administration that has placed someone closely allied with white supremacists in its midst, with the prospect of the US going idiotically backwards on the Paris agreements — becoming the laughing stock of the enlightened world beyond our borders. A world in which fossil fuels will be needed less and less as jobs and hopes for a healthy future are shifting fast into alternative energies.

Why is it so hard for some to see that there are jobs and new possibilities that are simply different from what we are accustomed to, to historic ways of life?  Change is the only constant of life.  What good reason is there to assert that skills we acquired in lost industries can’t be adapted into new ways of living?  We must encourage one another patiently  in getting through times of difficulties, knowing that we, too, could very well find ourselves in similar circumstances, rather suddenly.

Don’t much care about being a laughing stock for the more scientifically educated nations on earth, but I’m passionate about the need of ALL of us to do our parts in preserving what we can of life on Earth.  Doing our parts, to me, means including everyone’s well being, not just our own.

But there have been distractions from these larger thoughts for me, which are buoying my variable spirits.

For one thing, I have at last bought a wheelchair van, now being shipped to me from Georgia.  It’s a 2010 Dodge Caravan.  When it gets here it will be set up so that the driver’s seat can be removed, allowing me to drive from my wheelchair.  It will have hand controls, a thing I have always used to drive.  There’s a lowered floor and a side ramp for me and the wheelchair to go in an out.  Space for Elf and Opus’s traveling crates.

Plus — and this is very big — it looks as though the lengthy difficulty in getting new batteries and a footrest for my ailing power wheelchair is drawing towards the finish line.  More on that as facts come in.

Another source of good humor is the January move to Fresno.  January will be the month of several important changes — which I can’t entirely discuss quite yet — and they are very good ones!  For my part, Elf, Opus and I will find a good apartment with dog walking opportunities.  My dear daughter, with whom I now live, will be nearby.

I hope to learn something I currently have no understanding about — how life is for people whose livelihoods are in the middle of Big Agriculture in the US.  This, for me, will also be a return to desert (well, semi-desert) country with extremely hot summers and cool winters.  Fresno features a great deal of winter fog, known to locals as Tule fog, a thing New Mexico sees only rarely, briefly.  This, too, will be interesting to get used to.

One thing the recent election brought home to me is how very much a bubble the Silicon Valley and greater San Francisco area are, how different lives are here than from most of the US.  It has been extremely pleasant, being here from early June among people whose lives center, or have done, on high technology.  People who, confronted with some kind of problem, tend to get a thoughtful look rather than a worried, angry or sad look, and go to work on figuring out a solution in their heads or via the web.

A lot of people in the Silicon Valley have their lives so aligned with science that it is difficult to relate to those whose lives are driven by other forces.  With those who do not live so close to a place where ravages of climate change are only too plain — California’s Central Valley.  Where I’m going soon.  Drought country, a place where people driven by science are seeking new ways of getting/reallocating the water needed for growing crops to feed much of the country and other parts of the world.

As a person with an active left brain I appreciate the ascendency of science around here, while my imaginative right brained side has empathy for people who only see the destruction of their traditional lifestyles and livelihoods by the perceived threat of globalization, the need of the human race to deal with man-made changes in Earth’s air that is bringing on a domino tumble of systems.

These things are bigger than we are, that’s for sure.

This is the most comfortable and, I admit, privileged, place I’ve ever lived for all reasons but financial — rents are higher than any other place in the country, and still rising steadily.  There is no end in sight for the contributions of high tech to the US economy, so there is no likelihood of affordable housing in this area, either.

In the condos where I now live we have a great many elderly German people, some Russians, numerous Asians and some from India, along with Caucasians such as myself.

In Fresno there will be these and more, including lots more black Americans than are present in the Silicon Valley.  Diversity amongst humans is a thing I love to be part of.

That and the lower rents are Very Good Things.  Right up there with a wheelchair van and a fixed up wheelchair.  Yay!

Meanwhile, here is Opus enjoying a good cuddle with friend Paco.





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

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

Drifting by a desert ocean

Hate is a poison
Love is a remedy
Singing out like the sweetest of melodies
Hope is a ghost in the deepest of memories
Stronger than ten of me
Fear is the enemy
In the dark and it creeps like a shark
In the coldest sea
In the deepest part but
Hope is the beat in the oldest heart
A hand in a hand and a brand new start

~from Passenger’s Coins in a Fountain

Here we be on the day that was supposed to bring the closing of my house sale,  Alas, the buyer’s mortgage company fell down on the job and did not get an appraiser here on time.  So, listlessly, we await some form of progress from that mortgage company.  They have not been responding with much energy to the realtor’s communications.

Thus a good deal is on hold while waiting for this mysterious appraiser, who is said to be backed up and not answering phone calls or emails.

Which all revives haunting memories from two years ago when I thought I’d sold my home, only to have the expectation shoved over the cliffs of life when that buyer’s mortgage was denied just a few days before the scheduled closing.

A non-functional appraiser, however, bears little resemblance to a mortgage denied, so hope is strong even if impatience threatens to wreak its malignant effects on my life, if I let it.

Reading Roland Merullo’s good books:  Breakfast with Buddha, Lunch with Buddha and …  you got it … Dinner with Buddha has helped keep my grasshopper mind on track.

brekkie of champions
Fried eggs with fire roasted green chili on a whole wheat tortilla.  A New Mexico brekkie of champions!

So…  The breakfast (sans Buddha) of champions, New Mexico style, starts off another day of gradual sorting, sifting and disposal of years of accumulated belongings.  Stuff stuffed into dresser drawers, garage shelves, the nethermost reaches of linen closets and kitchen cupboards.  The stuffed stuff, most of it long since forgotten and rarely greeted by me with joy, goes into boxes for donations, to be sold on Craigslist or plunked into the trash cart — which is also greatly stuffed these days.


For breaks the dogs calmly allow themselves to be hooked up to their new two-pooch walking system, and we make our way to the back yard.

Sitting in the shade of the big apple tree, my meditative mind finds a desert shore awash with the shadows of leaves on the brown earth before me.  Gazing through the moving shadows I feel as though I’ve been lifted up and away to a mysterious seashore in another dimension.  The soughing of wind through the leaves adds sounds to the senses of moving waves of this desert ocean.

Here’s a brief video of that desert sea, in my back yard:

It is the struggle of decision, of the choice, whatever it may be. And yet it is indispensable to know how to choose, or we will remain motionless on the shores of the sea of life. By far the greatest help in the choices that life requires is to have chosen our supreme Object of love. ~The Four Valleys

Brilliant sun above makes stained glass windows out of fresh green mulberry leaves above.

mu;berry branches above
Mulberry leaves aglow

Nearby the flash of brilliant red desert poppies brightens roadsides and parking lots, reminding me that the bright spots of life appear unexpectedly where I don’t expect them a bit, and that beautiful things will show up in the most peculiar places and moments.

bright poppies

Nearby, on the back fence, two of those most companionable of wild birds — collared doves — keep the dogs and me company.  They preen their long feathers for an hour or more before fluttering off to check on the children they’ve got tucked into a messy nest above my garage door’s light.

two doves

Generally these recent days have a feeling not unlike drifting gently on a quiet lake in a rowboat.  Not really going anywhere, not in my normal habitat, awaiting a bit of wave action to set me moving towards the next goal.

This quiet time has conveyed the energy for a resolution:  Time to give up my pack rat habits with all this stuff hiding in my house.  Down with those old consumerist habits of mine!

Joy in the doves and the good dogs, the wildflowers, the dear friends life brings to me…