Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Remembering in the First Person

"Everyone needs his memories.  They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door."
~ Saul Bellow

It is about an hours drive from Boston to the last place in which I lived (nestled in the southwest corner of New Hampshire) before departing for California.  I was lonely there but I've since learned that I am lonely every where and I did manage to take many photos and write numerous entries in blogs. On the day of this particular trek, I wanted to know if I still found comfort in that soft green sleepy retreat.


"Memory... is the diary that we carry with us"
~ Oscar Wilde

I stood just above the last place I lived.  It was softly raining.  In November this rain will annoy because it will likely turn to ice but in September is brings a simple chill and gentle mist to the air. I am able to see bits of the house from the road. Someone else is living there now.  They have a Jeep with off road tires and lights mounted on the roof rack and bully bar...I'm just a little envious.  They are prepared for winter and mud season, at least as far as their transportation is concerned.  Is the fire wood laid in? When I lived there, it was a three or four cord winter...and I ran out before the weather turned warm.  Oil and butane ordered?  So many things to plan for when living in the northeast.  Will those folks living there plow their own drive way?  Are they renting or did they buy the property?



"We each need to make peace with out memories.  We have all done thing that make us flinch."
~Surya Das

Up the hill and across the road is an old farm house.  It still stands empty.  It emptied a number of years ago.  The result of infidelity. He cheated, she found out.  The house was their summer place. He most especially loved the location.  She got the house in the divorce and specifically forbade him from coming on the property.  It broke his heart.  I imagine her saying, 'touche'.  Pay back truly is a bitch!  Once hers, she never used it again.  She left it to her daughter, that was in 2007.  I guess the daughter decided against rehabbing the house.  It has no central heating,  and many windows are broken.  I'm sure birds, raccoon, mice, and bats have done their fair share of damage.  I walked through it once.  Up stairs was a page help prisoner in time.  Her dress hug in the tiny closet and his prayer book opened to the last page he read there, all a headstone to a marriage that once worked.  If I had the funds, I would buy it, tear it down and put a ranch-style house on the foundation...a sign on the front door would proclaim "Beware all who enter here...".


"There are memories I chose not to live with, but we hangout at the same bar."
~ Robert Brault (rbrault@blogspot.com)

Back to the main road.  We make a quick stop at the stream that traverses the land there.  It is a nearly a soundless world.  The misty moment punctuated by the trill of chickadees and water passing through on its peaceful path.

I don't want to move back.  So more thinking is needed.  More thinking and more money.  It may drive me out of retirement.  I do know I love the near quiet.  But would like to be within eyesight of a neighbor.  Phone reception would also be nice.


" Memory is a crazy woman who hoards colored rags and throws away food."    ~ Austin O'Mally





Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Return to Wildwoods Retreat 2014



"And when the day arrives I'll become the sky and I'll become the sea and sea will come to kiss me for I am going home..."    ~ Trent Razuor



The long trip home was uneventful.  It was also, in fact, a bit of fun.  Figuring out how to sleep in the car at rest stops, How to get the little dog to eat something other than it's fresher variety of food, how to manage rest stops and still get in 700 miles a day and so on.  It rained almost the entire trip which helped take bite out of the hot, humid days.   It was I-80 most of the way, then I-90 and finally the Mass Pike into Boston and my old neighborhood.  I left in 2001.  Since that eventful moment in the early fall of that year until today, I've lived in Vermont, New Hampshire, California, Washington and Nevada since that year.  It is a sweet moment in life to return to the people and places that one holds dear and loves deeply.  Has the neighborhood changed?  Huge changes.  But somehow fundamentally the same.  The people I knew are almost the same but perhaps older and wiser.  Babies have been born and elders have died,  and the folks my age move more slowly and struggle with the physical problems of aging, the challenge of  trying to stay fit and somehow keeping ahead of bill collectors  while somehow living on Social Security.

I'm staying with a young couple raising a son and both are working.  They are two women.  One Mom is the birth parent and works in the trades ~ a plumber.  The other spouse is the stay at home parent during the day and leaves for part-time work in the evenings when the other Mother gets home.  Eventually she wants to go to law school.  She will make a great lawyer as she is a fierce advocate for what is right.  My contribution to the family is to cook.  So far so good.  One Mother and the son are omnivores and one Mom is a vegetarian.  Sometimes I cook only veggie and sometimes  do both meat and veggie.  How I love dinner time here.  Happy newsy chatter about life, news, the progress of toilet training and other "stuff".  I've missed that connection more than other.  

But my favorite part of each and every day is spending time with this wonderful 2 1/2 year old.  To him I am "Nana Mini" ... I love hearing that in his sweet baby voice.  The innocence of the very young is intoxicating!

Wish there were a way to slow down time just this once.  To make the time between now and mid-October drag out even a little bit.  I know that the task at hand is to move back here.  It's expensive but it needs to happen.  Perhaps by next summer.  We all hope to live in New Hampshire near one another.  We'll see what Fate thinks of the plans.

"Going home and spending time with you family and your real friends keeps you grounded." 
~  Jennifer Ellison

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Gnawing Hunger

"They that die by famine die by inches" ~Henry Matthews

Even now the desert is no place for the weak.  The low humidity and the harsh unrelenting sun are hostile hosts.  "Drink water",  we are reminded daily, "even if you are not thirsty".  



The Tall Texan and I were sitting on the front porch, in the comforting protection of shade, chatting.  It was a familiar but all to  rare moment when we exchange small talk and pondered my upcoming trip and his busy 20 something life.  We have a tender friendship that has some how managed to cross the barren boundary of a couple of generations.   A man approaches us from the street.  He walks slowly across the tiny front lawn and stops abruptly at the rod iron fence that surrounds the front porch.   His face tells me he must be about 38 - 40 years old ~ beware reader, I know I usually guess wrong about the age of people.  He is short and husky and has muscular arms and chest.  He wears a light jacket even though it is hot.  He tells us that he has come here through Canada but that his journey started in Guadalajara, Mexico.  He stammers that he speaks only a little English.  I tell him I speak a little, very little, Spanish.  Somehow we make it work.  He is looking for work.  His face contorts into the pain of a man choking on emotion.  He is, he tells us, very hungry.  The Tall Texan tells him to wait.  We both go into the house to fetch a little cash and meet in the kitchen to make a sack lunch for this person.  We work in quiet unison.  We throw it all into a plastic bag and walk back to the porch.  The man stands exactly where we asked him too.  I hand him the cash and food.  He kisses the bag, tears rolling down his face and tells us in Spanish "God Bless You Sir and Mamacita".  The Tall Texan worries that he does not know how to tell him how to get to the food pantry.  My Spanish vocabulary is to small to translate that.  I wonder that the Tall Texan knows that there is a small food pantry in the neighborhood.   

I know not where this gentleman from Guadalajara is now.  I hope he found work.  I hope he found water and more food.  His hunger was a brush with my youth in the now distant past.  Now, although I live within the limits of social security, I have a roof over my head and friends and some food in the pantry.  I am thankful for the life I have, whatever the challenges.  When I was just barely 20, before I was a RN and while searching for a job and housing in Boston, I knew the hollow empitness of the unfed.  I was young and strong then, still, hunger hurt.  Gnawing hunger.    It is humbling and painful. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cross-Generation Friendships

"Friendship is the only thing in the world concerning the usefulness of which all mankind are agreed" ~ Cicero







We are an odd household.  Forty decades seperate our life experiences.  The way in which each of we three were raised are as different as day and night.  Still, we have forged sweet friendships.  People ask me "if it is odd living with 20 something guys?"   Yes, often it is just a bit odd, not just for me but probably for each of us.  The youngest is just 23.  The older is 26 today.  They are cousins, both alike in some interesting way and both very different in equally interesting ways.  

This contact keeps me mentally limber.  I've learned the ways in which we use language is  very different.    I can hear that they are not trusting of government, police, politicians.  Neither am I but we've come to distrust via foot paths.  Still they are  both hopeful and happy.  Both believe in the future. As 20 somethings, they have no way of understanding,on a personal level, of the many ways  life will throw challenges and disasters in their path.  Just as well.

Both men are gear-heads.  I'm making a collage that, will hopefully, demonstrate what life looks like when looking into the garage from the kitchen, so to speak...





"This is not a dress rehersal" ~ enjoy your day!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Moving Ever Onward!



"Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep." ~Shakespeare

Okay, I'm over it! I am over a misdirected relationship and over living in the desert.  Time to move on.  Will be traveling back to New England and staying for a month or two.  There is no escaping the desert until I can afford a permanent move and my housemates and I can figure out how to replace my economic place in the home we rent.  But a month or two is a month or two.

Sold my Yamaha motorcycle yesterday.  Kind of sad about that but it will be replaced eventually.  Am pretty sure that the replacement will be a Harley low-rider....just love it when my feet can touch the ground at a STOP.  The little Virago has gone to a rider who is making the transition from scooter to bike and her passing of hands will help finance the trip home.  No longer drive the MX5.  She has been sold several times over. That car was a great teacher. I'm no longer afraid of FAST or switch backs..in fact it's all a liberating joy.  Good Golly Ms Molly, a year ago I didn't even know what "turbo" meant! :) Driving a Baja now ~ its a Subaru and dependable.  It's a trucklet and that is helpful. But its real strength is in its ability to off-road. She's not a rock climber like some of the Jeeps and other 4x4s but still pretty stealth out there in the forest and in the desert.  I do love that.  Will be putting 1" spring risers in sometime soon and replacing the tires with ATs.  Funny because in NV off-roading is a sport ~ in New England it was a necessity.  I have become an unrepentant automotive geek.



I'm am sickened by the news of late.  So we won't go there too much.  The outback of Alaska sometimes is very appealing but will probably be satisfied with Northern NH...perhaps not to far from the Connecticut Lakes.  "Won't you be snowed in" some asked....god smite me with it! I've given up most the nightly news and rarely read the paper.  I'm weary to my bone marrow (as it is my bone marrow that is under attack from within that is no small price to pay) of police violence, the growing arms race between citizens and police, our government selling military arms to police and the suffering of humans in general.  Politicians...oh my word, what is there even to say that has not been said.   I will admit that I am still addicted to the New Yorker and the Atlantic ~ guilty pleasures.  Better than shooting up or snorting! 

I return to me original purpose and that is to enjoy photography and write about the "stuff" observed.  I would say it is good to be back in the saddle but I sold my saddle when I left Washington.  Okay, I still have my feet, so...it is good to be back on the path, wherever it leads!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Old Loves and Old Lovers


"Things are not always what they seem; first appearances deceive many."  ~ Phaedrus

He was chatting in that relaxed cheerful manner that I have come to so enjoy. His long legs stretched out under the little bistro table, his feet have captured mine.  Even with his boots on he somehow manages to gently caress my ankles.  He smiles a playful smile, quotes a little passage from a sonnet and my heart skips one beat. This is a young relationship between two people who are not themselves young.  We two are both in our sixties and yet here we are, two aging people basking in a newly kindled relationship born a mere 6 weeks ago.  A well read man who is also hard working construction kind of guy, it always takes me by surprise that he so easily slips in a line of poetry when I least expect it and that makes me smile.  It was something from Shakespeare.  For some reason, the words remind me that we met over coffee.  A mere 42 days ago I noticed a man drinking a coffee as he was reading a novel that I've read.  He asks me is if I liked the book.  
I was startled.  Other than the mumbled good mornings of the uncaffinated, no one ever chats with me while I sip a latte.  An odd silence for a few seconds when I finally realized, that he was, in fact, talking to me and I stammered a response.  He smiled that smile. We met again and again in that coffee shop.  A little flame and so much dry emotional kindling that it was a forest fire before I knew what was happening.  And I loved it!  

So many activities.  We went off-roading together, exploring the woods that surround and decorate the high desert.  I drove most of the time.  Once we took his truck and he drove.  His 4x4  could climb rocks that I could never manage is my much smaller vehicle, not mention my much less off roading skill.  He and I both love photography so no arguments over request for frequent stops.  We made love in that great out of doors theatre.  We had  picnics and shared reading a book out loud together.  Neither of us gamble so there was no casino hopping, just the out of doors and the occasional movie and of course, coffee.  My dogs trusted him, and in fact seemed to  loved him and before long I did too.  How I love to lie in his arms, my head on his chest, feeling his warmth and listening to his strong steady heart beat.  I'm 66 and he is 67.  I never dreamed that I would be able to hear a lovers heart beat again, even though that very thing is on my "bucket list".   And he even joined me on a 100+ mile trip to a medical center where I have chemotherapy.  Yes, I'm battling cancer, again.  Another story which we may or may not explore here.  Anyway, I never go with anyone.  I'm usually too frightened and in a horrible mood but for some reason when I finally told him and he asked to join me, I relented and let him escort me to that part of my destiny.  He held my hand and stroked my arm and read a book to me.  It was the first time I've ever been calm or for that matter pleasant while allowing therapeutic poison run into my body.  The nurses had to wonder at the change in personality.

So here we were again, sipping coffee and discussing a camping trip.  He reminiscences about other trips and other places and chuckles when his mentions "Susan and the boys".  I think my heart stopped.  There was something in the tone.  It was loving and tender.  And I knew instantly that he was married.  His tone conveyed that not only was he married, he was still in love with his wife.  He is a still-in-love kind of cheater.  I remember standing up and wanting to throw my latte in his face.  I put the coffee down and whispered "you're married aren't you?" He softly said "yes".  I told him to "stay out of my life" and walked away.  There have been five telephone calls pleading a second chance.  No calls since yesterday morning.  Its over.  They say everything happens for a reason, then so be it.  I discovered that there is still passion in my body.  I know how much I yearn for companionship.  I know I can love someone who makes my smile.  I'm thinking I may give up coffee.




Monday, September 2, 2013

Driving in the Fast Lane

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqKrG8tcRwg

Yesterday was the end of one of the most remarkable week-ends that I have had in a long, long time.  So after writing that I would not make any more diary entries, I'm going to do just that!

First the Tall Texan asked me to join him at Reno's Rib Festival.  Was that a delicious, aromatic evening or what!  Rib vendors for all over the US.  Armadillos got my vote (due to a four star recommendation from the Tall Texan's mom) but by aroma alone so many were so good it is an almost an impossible to name the best.  If you are ever in Reno toward the end of August this event is definitely a must do.  Next month will be Street Vibrations.  Thousands of motorcyclists descend on Reno (and Virginia City) for the week long event...another must do!

But the seriously great part of the week-end happened at home.  The Tall Texan worked magic with the MX5 Miata.  The roadster now has new (to it) carpet, honest to goodness door panels, cup holder etc. The seats need to be replaced but that is very low  on the "To Do List".  Next we are upgrading the suspension, getting the alignment just right, putting in a roll-bar and a harness, putting on a hard top, up-grading the exhaust (we currently have a 1.8 L engine on a 1.6 L exhaust system ~ very restrictive), four point sway control and then paint it and put it on the track with other Miatas.  The Tall Texan is a canyon racer.  Not I ~ I'm still learning heel toe down shifting...and struggling!  He'll use the Miata for the canyons and I'm going to learn to race on the track with other little Miatas...eventually.  :)  Yesterday I had my first experience with canyon racing.  We went up Six Mile Canyon and down the Gieger Grade.  It was very fast and those hairpin curves at 60 miles an hour can be unbelievably breath-taking RUSH!  I simply don't have the life-time left to learn to do that kind of driving nor do I have the physical strength.  Still it was amazing to be a passenger.  I totally get the adrenaline rush of the whole thing. The Tall Texan doesn't get the rush.  The managing of the road, curves and car make him "feel good"...I heard pilots and surgeons say the same nonchalant thing.  OK, but it was a major thrill for me.  

Before we even put ourselves into the Miata we'd been riding our bikes for several hours.  What a day.  The Tall Texan is an excellent coach and helped this 65 year old over come anxiety I've managed to develop about riding in traffic.  And I was able to watch him manage his sports bike.  Wow.  How nice to be 25 and enjoy competence at so many sports and yet be calm, cool, collected and kind.

 I am determined to put a camera mount in the MX5 and on my bike. I'm not the Driver but would love to document the Tall Texan behind the wheel. Of course he knows how to take a car completely apart and put it back together again so he knows what his vehicles can or should be able to do.

 After last night's drive going sky diving (now on the bucket list) seems not such a big deal! :)



Monday, August 26, 2013


Forest Fires at the End of Summer

"And where two raging fires meet together 
They do consume the thing that feeds their
fury"
~ Shakespeare



There are many forest fires blazing in the west.  But two are of particular concern: the American River fire and the Rim fire (near Yosemite).  The Yosemite fire is a week old and only  20% (and what does that mean anyway) contained.  We are about 200 miles from the intensity of this blazing fury.  But every day more smoke billows into the Washoe Valley and beyond.  


The haze, which on some days appears to be thick fog (were it not for the acrid smell of a mass of burning wood).  The pervasive and invasive smoke has reached past Reno and Sparks.  It has crawled down the canyon that is I-80 and sits heavily on my little town of Fernley (some 30 miles east of Sparks).    A TV newsman this morning told us the forest service  said the fire many not be out completely until this winter.  This morning a caller to the TV news said Carson City had ash falling like snow .  And today we had an earthquake ... 4.2 something.  Always good to be reminded that we are after all, only human.



Lightening strikes started the Rim fire. 'They' are running out of money (nothing new here) to fight fires.  Brave firefighters are out there doing their best (in rugged terrain, summer heat intensified by the heat thrown off by a conflagration) against a monstrous blaze.  Let's talk about cost just a little later, eh!   In the meantime, the rest of us must continue our lives as if it were easy to breath, that our eyes weren't stinging, and that smoke doesn't smell.

Ironically the Burning Man Festival started today.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Precious Gift of a Woman's Friendships



“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindness there is at last one which makes the heart run over. ”

Samuel Johnson 1709 - 1784

I drove 775 miles to see my friend graduate only to become hopelessly mired in traffic in the very last leg of the trip and managed to miss the ceremony.  We were on the cell phone until protocol for the pomp of awarding degrees cut us off.  I drove to her home on the plains below Mt Rainier that is Enumclaw, Washington and wandered through the rooms I know so well.  The scent of her life and the lives of her family filled the rooms and my heart.  Friendship is so tender.  Friendship that cross time and miles are particularly precious. While waiting for folks to return from their big day, I showered to no avail because it was Western Washington and I've become a desert rat in one short year.  The warmth and high humidity had me sweating as soon as I emerged from the shower.  Well, at least the grime of a hard drive was gone.  Shortly afterwards Caroline arrived home with her son, mother and sister.  I've not met "Mom" nor her sister but like Caroline they are alert, magnetic and very kind.  Caroline's son just graduated with a degree in psychology.  I've known him since he was 12.  Now I realize that although he is just 21 he is a man not the boy who use to house sit for me.  Bittersweet to see the off spring of dear friends grow up.  Three years ago I announced to Caroline that I had the perfect job for her but first she had to become a nurse.  Then listened to the usual crap about fear of math etc.  That was then and in the now she has managed to graduate with distinction.  So much for math phobia.  She was voted most likely to become a nursing instructor.  I wouldn't be remotely surprised if that was not the path she takes on this her now second career.  She use to be an installer for an IT company.  She worked in the land of men and handles herself well there. She was also a shop steward and knows how to argue and negotiate.   Probably why she can ride her huge Harley with complete confidence. :)  She is one of those women who is completely comfortable in her body.  She is fierce in her loving and protecting.  We all went to her class's graduation party.  Fun to meet her fellow students.  Most much younger than Caroline.  I loved watching her move through the room.  Every encounter was happily passionate.  Caroline can drink me under the table and stay standing.  And luckily for all us when the party is over the drinking stops ~ who could live like that!  We talked and danced and toasted for many hours.  I heard the news about the new guys in her life to the pounding of music.  It was glorious.  I've not danced in a long time and almost forgot how liberating it is and how good it feels.  A year since we had seen one another and we've not missed a beat ~ a time warp that made us feel that there had been not seperation at all!

The next morning I had breakfast with my sister, Casey.  We took up space for hours but this is in Enumclaw so no one rushed us.  How I love this woman.  She is younger and my polar opposite.  She is so feminine and quite elegant.  Speaks French fluently.  Has traveled the world.  Always dresses beautifully and has her make-up on...and  I, well, I am an unrepentant life long tom-boy.  We make each other laugh...until our sides hurt.  She is delicate and fearful in a way that I am not.  Funny how life shapes us.  She was always a perfect student and rarely in trouble.  I didn't know I could be a good student until I put myself through college.  Frankly, I've spent my life "in trouble", if something is not right...I have to say something. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is not. There is afterall an arogance to thinking you have the right answer to so many things.  It is a problem with being the Briggs Myers INTJ.  But she is younger and grew up listening to the terrible violence that was our home.  She did not want to be beaten or molested so she learned to be submissive, funny, a spectacular writer and an academic star.  I have always been, well, not what Casey is and took the brunt Lady Blue's irrational furies and the advances of her many male partners.  I do not know the right and wrong of any this need of mine to speak out except for one thing ~ no one should beat their children ~ there is no right reason for assaulting a child. On this matter I will always be loud and adamant!  Casey calls me "TEOS" ~ the Evil Older Sister...a nick name I've come to love.  In the now, Casey and I can laugh at almost anything and we do.   I love her so much.  We are sisters as an accident of birth but we've become friends over time.  It was very hard, almost painful and desperate to say good bye.

Then my last visit was with Juanita Jo.  She is my age.  I met her in 2004.  She was the realtor that I engaged to buy a house.  As it turned out she lived just down the street and we started walking together.  Somehow treading those many miles on foot together led to a fast and loyal friendship.  We've stood by one another through the loss of family members, break-ups (I've had some whoopers), s.o's with addictions, miles of seperation and life threatening illness but the fast friendship persists.  It is in this friendship that we can both indulge in a acerbic humor that we don't use with the rest of the world.  JJ is impeccably honest and can manage money better than anyone I've every met.  Ah what a treasure she is!

I had to leave late Saturday night to make sure the Tall Texan could get to work on time.  It makes my heart hurt even now as I recall saying good bye to each one of these women as they are in so many ways the air that I breath.  I want them to stay healthy and very much alive.  If wishes were facts they have not a thing to worry about!  Good thing about long drives is the thinking time it affords.  I was able to recall details of each of these cherished gals and how they have each impacted my life.   I am thankful to my bone marrow that they count me as a friend.    I have several dear friends on the east coast as well ~ another post perhaps.  Each person is an anchor. I am so blessed that chance meetings blossomed into enduring, loving friendships.  A blessing that friends see the strengths and weakness, the light and dark sides and find a way to love one another anyway.

  PS: I realize that the last number of posts have been perhaps to much of a diary.  I will be returning to the "normal" wildwoods in the near future...like the next post!  :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Boca ~ The Mouth




 It has been hot, hot, hot here in the high desert.  A few days ago the heat demanded that the Miata and I head to  the Sierras again.  The only happy critters were folks like the tailless lizard  above who seemed to think that baking in 100 degree heat was a great idea.   In fact I think that is how he lost his tail in the first place.  Sprawling lazily on a hot rock, he no doubt stopped paying attention while tanning and some predator wing thing made off with a partial lizard lunch.   Yum.  

Lizards aside, the Miata climbed I-80 up to the exit for the Boca Reservoir.  We took a spin around it and the Stampede Reservoir ... because it was there and it also had a road full of twists and turns.  Both bodies of water had cool breezes and lots of shade.  It was so deliciously cool and just plain old pretty that a stroll on a few paths seemed like a good idea ... the Miata took a break the shade for a while.  But did I have my fishing gear with me....NO!  ~  a symptom of a life out of control! :)  Note to self: clean the damn tackle box and put fly rod and spin rod in the trunk of the Miata...keep it there forever!  Oh and get a fishing license!





Then, alas, it was time to head back to the desert.  At least I know that RELIEF is just 45 minutes away.  Tonight I jump in the car again and head to Washington State.  The Tall Texan is house and dog sitting for me....God Bless Him!  A dear friend is graduating from college with a degree in Nursing.  She is beginning a second career in her early 50s.  Well done!   This lovely lady also rides a Harley.  Another nurse on a bike...could this be a wave of the future?  

I look forward to driving to NorthWest tonight.  I love the desert but I've had it with constant heat (I'm mourning the loss of air conditioning!). The weather there is in the 70s.  I momentarily wondered if I should take a jacket.  Humidity and cool air ... what a novel idea!

Friday, August 9, 2013


RIP Denver and Rio Grande Western RR

An open letter to Sage:  re: railroads in Provo Canyon

Dear Sage:

Thank you for your comment to my recent post.  It sent me on a hunt for information.  You obviously know your railroads and trains!   I've taken a new interest in the various trains, freight and passenger, that I see chug past my home here in Fernley!    When I was a girl, that sound meant the potential of freedom, of seeing places beyond the rugged mountains of Utah.  I didn't know then how much I would miss those high places, rattle snakes, bears, deer, mountain lions and all.

I am 65 and when I was a very little girl the train that is now the historic line you called the Heber Creeper was the Denver and Rio Grand Western RR.  It ran some kind of service from 1899 to 1967.  I was in the canyon off and on from 1950 to 1960. Anyway the Denver and Rio ran a service that connected Heber to Provo. Springdell is probably 6 miles up the canyon and well south of Bridal Falls.  When I was young six miles might have been a million for all I knew.  My cousins, friends and I were little Mountain Rats. My grandparents owned a home in Springdell and my younger sister and I would summer and even winter with them.  Lady Blue sometimes lived there with us when she was between marriages (six that we know of).   Any free moment found us outside roaming mountains, exploring the river, sneaking into Canyon Glen, finding horses to ride bare-back and of course, walking the railroad tracks.  We use to feel for the vibration of an on-coming train with our bare feet on the rails.  We placed pennies on the track and waited for the train to flatten them.  The flat penny was each kid's badge of honor and courage.  It was in this canyon that the older guys taught me how to track every manner of four legged animal.  My Dad appreciated the skill as he took his daughter deer hunting with him...I was the ringer.  I mentioned rattle snakes earlier.  We (the boys and I) collected the rattles as another badge of honor/courage and a kind of currency (a story for another time).  Now I respect rattle snakes and to this day can hear that rattle from a great distance - I no longer follow snake tracings in the sand, to shoot them :).   As an adult I leave them be and hope they will do the same.  Obviously I was a complete dyed in the wool tom-boy by the time I could run faster than Lady Blue...so I would say by 5 years of age.   By the way,  I have a deep and abiding fear of water moccasins.  The Dell has a huge pond in it (to this day).  Kids for several generations have spent hot summer days swinging on a tree rope and dropping into the freezing spring water that filled the pond.  The down side...we used to see water moccasins swim there too.  Nothing could clear out the water faster than one of that snake!

So that Sage is part of the story.  The vibration of train weight on tracks and the wail of the engine whistle, and yes, Brian the squeal of wheels and brakes...all (as with you) call me.  As trains roll by this little house, I can almost smell the Aspens mixed with the mint garden of a neighbor's in the Dell  and hear the night wind blow through Provo Canyon.  And yes Walking Man, it was a blessing to have that calm, safe, yet wild  place in my life.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"I cried at first . . . and then, it was such a beautiful day, I forgot to be unhappy"

~ Frances Noyes Hart 1921

Leading a Linear Life : a view from the other side of the tracks...
~ WR 2012


I tried, quite to my own surprise, to be sad about the sudden changes life has presented.  Tears, my tears, flowed suddenly and happened at odd and inopportune moments. I started to unpack and sort at night, in part, because it is about 40 degrees cooler but also,  in part, because I didn't want to be around other people who seemed so, well, satisfied with life.  Don't they know about 'sudden change'?  Don't they know how 'confusing and off kilter' life is?   Suddenly, yesterday, I hopped in my little beat up Miata and drove to Truckee to 'cool off' in every sense of the word.  
I noticed people were smiling and I didn't need to begrudge them their moments of joy.  I smiled back and my face enjoyed the experience.  The drive home was fun.  I love the 70 mph speed limit and with the convertible top down even a beat up Miata is a cool place to be.  

Arriving at home I noticed that in spite of my best efforts to be angry and depressed (the same things actually) I have, in fact,  unpacked.  I have even moved much of the excess to the storage unit in the back yard.  So life begins again in Ferntuckey.  I have to get a job.  Retirement, that lasted oh ... a month and a half ... is over.  Oooops, too bad.   I would like to not be a nurse.  But that remains to be seen...not even sure it is possible.  I want to have time to ride my bike and work on the Miata and photograph all that good stuff out there.

Life in this mobile park is actually very sweet.  I have great landlords, my neighbors are very nice, yards are tidy, people wave and say 'hi'.  I do wonder about living such a linear life though.  Single wides, or at least the one I live in, have a living room/ kitchen in the middle and a hall way with a bed room and bath at either end.  When one lives in a straight line does it change how ones sees the world?  Of course this is compounded by the trains that move by on their straight tracks.  Adding another simple joy to an ongoing list - watching, from my front deck, the trains roll by the house.  Where are they going?  What are they carrying?  All speed and power -  rushing to keep up with what?

Life is good ~ even when it's changing.  The journey continues...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Buried Under Boxes ... But for the First Time in Weeks ~ Smiling!

Moved this week end.  It was hectic and messy.  Lady Blue swung between anger and tears (that is simply the two sides of a single coin).  Now we've said our good byes and she is moved to a "5 star" assisted living facility.  I'm living in a single wide mobile home in a mobile park in a place the locals call Ferntucky but formerly I'm living in Fernley, Nevada.  I live on the last street in the park and my street abuts the rail road tracks.  When I stroll with my lab Tye in the evening I can see the lights of the truck stop on the not to distant horizon.  My new neighborhood is a mixture of Latinos and whites....almost just like me....if we had a few homes for Navajo people it would be perfect. So several stars.  I feel certain that I am the only Jew here but that seems to be about right since leaving Reno in March.  

I just heard the rumble of a train rolling through.  I am awash in memories from Provo Canyon in my childhood and the trains I could hear from my bedroom when I lived in Sacramento and the MBTA rattling over the raised tracks when I lived in my first apartment (a three story walk up) on Beacon Hill. That rumble is a auditory comfort food, so to speak.  

The "house" is full of boxes.  Last night I excavated a living room, where I am now sitting.  Just being able to find a chair in which to sit is a giddy pleasure.  My landlords (two younger married women) use to live here.  Now they live next door.   They are both very nice except they root for the wrong football teams.  Both house holds are devoted dog people.  Both homes have fenced yards so the hounds can safely be outside.  What I don't have is central a/c.  This is the high desert and it will be in the 90s today ~ well, almost every day until October.  Hence the need to get up early before the sun is up in order to work before it is insufferable inside and out.  The front and back bedrooms have window a/c so sleep is pleasant but all these boxes must be opened, sorted through and items placed, given to the Good Will or thrown away.  That is the part of moving I hate...making it all fit in the "new place".  THE SORT is now happening in the living room and kitchen.  Both rooms emit the steady white noise of the hum of fans.  At about 3 pm it is nap time because the temperature inside is just slighty cooler than outside.

Alas it is time to get to work.  The master bed room needs to be unearthed today and tomorrow's project is the office...I can just barely open the office door because I have shoved everything in that is not immediately needed into that very small room.  Off to the salt mines I go.  Oh before signing off,  I took the Virago out for a spin at sundown.  What a sweet ride!  Kept the face shield up because it is just to hot to wear it down so got to really feel the evening breeze.  Another simple joy! ;)

Be safe and happy!  More later....


Sunday, July 21, 2013


The Yay and Boo of CHANGE!

"If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude." (!)
~ Maya Angelou

Times have been troubling here in the high desert.  A battle has been lost.  Lady Blue and I had hoped we would live together until she took her last breath.  We have been unable to over come family members with more clout, connection and legal know-how than either of us has or could afford.  Last week she was appointed a guardian (it was voluntary and we both agreed to it). Then the Tall Texan and I were both fired. 
BOO!

 Funny how life can turn upside down in a heart beat.  Lady Blue is being moved to assisted living and her house sold.  I found a rental home some 30 miles away.  And, yes, once again I am packing.  Lady Blue is blue indeed but she will survive this event, as will I.   We will remain close.  There has been far too much hard work to get to know one another, too forgive and to forget, to let go of it now!

YAY!

 The Tall Texan remains a dear friend to "his Ladies".

YAY!

Signed a six month lease to a neat rented home.  Six months to think.  The landlord allows two dogs and a kitten!

YAY

Then today the spirit was uplifted by finally finding a great deal on a beginner bike (Gotta love Craig's List and oh yes, the Tall Texan). 

YAY! 

When life is gray and feeling pretty dismal...there nothing like the open road to free up feelings and remind one that tomorrow truly is a new day.  Starting over at 65 is not the end of the world!

Yup, just a girl and her BIKE!  

YAY!


And one more time...thank you Tall Texan ~ you are my hero!
  YAY!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Of Mothers and Daughters and Birthday ~ Oh No!


Motorcycle Vector Graphics

“Probably there is nothing in human nature more resonant with charges than the flow of energy between two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement.” 

Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution

Last week Lady Blue and I joined the Tall Texan in a hunt for a good used 250 bike  for me.  She had to join us of necessity as she can no longer be left alone.  Over the weekend she told the Texan that if I got a bike she would never forgive him.  It was his fault, as far as she was concerned.  He used to have a bike after all.  She lectured long and hard about what kind of people use bikes.  All this polemic deeply rooted in the prejudices of her youth.  She called me white trash.  "Okay if you really are white; I'm of mixed race"... that undiplomatic moment bought me 10 minutes of peace in the 45 minute drive to Reno.  Once in Reno we met up with our friend the Tall Texan and he did the work of investigating bikes.  He examined them, listened to them, asked all the right questions about maintenance, dents and other suspect things.  I just mounted and dismounted...if I can't get on and off there will be no riding!  We didn't find the ONE.  I got back in to the car and she said "You look okay on a bike"  - it was a full pardon!  What a moment in time!

A  week later:  
"We wanted to put 65 candles on you cake but it would have to be the size of a coffin!"  ~Unknown

Today Lady Blue is silent.  She is giving me the evil eye and responding with one word answers.  She is angry because last night she told me to get my hair out of my eyes and I said "NO" albeit in a less than diplomatic tone.  This diplomacy is really hard!  I reckonned that a 64.999 year old can have her too curly bangs in her eyes if she wants (would that be a 2 or a 15 year old regression?).  She knows it is my birthday but then she has never really celebrated it with me.  So what the heck does she care.  I actually don't care about the birthday either but the silent routine is really getting annoying.  My son sent me roses!  It has worsened her mood.  She has memory loss.  How long do you suppose this can go on?

" 'Andie slammed the car door. "You know what I'd like for Christmas, Flo? Boundaries. You can gift me early if you'd like.' ” 
 Jennifer Crusie, Maybe This Time

Monday, June 24, 2013

"The air of summer was sweeter than wine."
~ Longfellow

(Lake Tahoe - this photo taken by the Tall Texan) 

It has been a nearly perfect week-end.  I took the motorcycle safety course.  LOVED it.  Am as sore as can be.  I learned the hard way how much I have to do in terms of some serious strength training. The time will pass anyway so might as well dive deeply into a healthier and stronger way of living while I float on the stream of the clock's tide!   Back to the gym it is for some weights and other stuff (while it all still hurts and I can clearly remember which muscles are so weak).

'What else?' you ask. Sold my lovely, dependable Galahad (2006 Subaru) for a Miata convertible roadster that is a mess!  Will be putting (if all the stars are correctly aligned) an exhaust system into it this coming week end. But running lights need to be fixed (all together missing right now), there is no a/c and never will be, seats need to be replace,  some Bondo, sanding and paint. Alright I admit, it needs almost everything but it does run. I am anxious to begin this project, with the tutoring and help of the Tall Texan...assuming he will tolerate a kind of aging apprentice.  In a few days I'll be 65.  It's time I knew something about what makes the automobile GO.  Am also searching for a used bike (1980 something like a Honda / Suzuki / Yamaha 250).  Eventually something similar in an ATV.  I don't need a 'rock climber' but sure-footed transportation on mountain paths (and sandy beaches etc) would be a good thing.  I rather love being a desert rat and want to be able to get into all the cracks and corners with my camera.  Lady Blue is not happy about any of this.  Oh well.

The Tall Texan took Lady Blue and me (he refers to us as 'his Ladies' - it is very dear but also reminds me of how old I am) on a wonderful drive to Donner Lake, back home via Lake Tahoe and Carson city.  What beautiful country.  Will try to get a little fishing in at Donner.  There are so many docks available and if one gets there early some serious fishing is to be had!  The waters in both lakes are blue, blue, blue and then some.





The week end ended with the solstice moon gracing our skies.  Wonderful sight!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

About On-Line Dating: "Lions, Tigers and Bears, 

Oh My!" ~The Wizard of Oz, 1939




" I'm not the girl who always has a boyfriend. I'm the girl who rarely has a boyfriend. " ~ Taylor Swift



I recently signed on to an online dating sight for people over 50. Is it mean spirited   out there! One guy wrote about what the older gals included in the 'must have' list: " must shower daily ", "  No bar flies " sow your oats some place else " ; ( and my personal favorite) "cannot have teeth in a jar".  Wonder why no wrote "must always put the toilet seat down" or is that assumed?  Men include rather prominently 'must be slender' or 'physically fit'
and want women who like to cuddle/kiss/hold hands and so on. Most seem to be wanting a serious relationship
Both men and women seem to be saying they are looking for sex. Some say they are looking for marriage.  Ah, the criteria leaves me out any number of times. Moreover, I am fat.  The dating service descriptor is 'big and beautiful'.   So although I am looking for friends or pen pals I can't seem to get beyond physical attributions. Plus (speaking of attributions) when I am asked a question I answer it. One guy (he's from back East)asked what was on my bucket list; I shared and he wrote that my bucket list wasn't a list it was a dumpster. " MMM. Dumpster? It does have almost 10 items on it. I didn't know Bucket Lists had a fixed limit? Is it like a checking account? If you have four too many items on the list, you are over-drawn? At almost 65 I remain a a goal oriented person.  I am also a fan of Maude (as in Harold and Maude ~ and old cult film) I've always heard the clock ticking with the rapid passage of time. With a light heart but an awareness of built in expiration dates, I want the list completed...even if it is too long ergo a DUMPSTER.

 
I thought perhaps having someone to write to or chat with would lessen the stress and isolation of care-taking and having only an 85-year-old person with dementia to talk to day in and day out (except week-ends, when the tall Texan comes to visit with the parent-person). Nevertheless, '45 views' and just one 'contact' is telling me otherwise. Perhaps it is better to leave on-line dating to a younger, friskier and a more emotionally flexible group of people.

Were you ever the only person not chosen on a kickball team in grade school....what me fragile?

Who needs this when I await the arrival of my Medicare card in the mail? :)

(may or may not be continued...)