Thursday, June 27, 2013

On to Monterey

Monterey Bay, CA

I'm pretty me-centric sometimes, and in my heart of hearts think the weather back home must be similar to the weather wherever I am, which is totally ridiculous, I know.  That said, I think the wonderful weather I drove through today felt just a little better after I checked the weather back home.  Here, it's 73; just a bit on the cool side.  At home, it's 91 and steamy.  Ahhhh....

I drove through San Francisco around mid-day today.  If I ever harbored any illusions I might want to move out here some day, today's drive squashed them flat.  Five lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic - at noon!  I don't even want to think about rush hour.  That said, I've found California drivers to be courteous.  They give me and my out-of-state plates a bit of room; they let me in when I find myself in the wrong lane.  When I think back to my experience driving in Florida, this is a welcome change.

Tonight's campground is just a short bike ride away from the bay, and I took advantage of the evening to give my bike a spin.  It was beginning to look a bit lonely back there, acting as nothing more than a bumper ornament.

Monterey Bay, CA
Once I got there, I started to walk down along the beach, then decided I just wanted to sit tonight.  So, I did.  I found me a good sit spot and watched the walkers and the water and the waves for a while.  and found in my reflections a small measure of peace.

** happy sigh **

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Slippin' Away

James Robb State Park, Colorado River
It doesn't work.  As much as I try to hold the beauty of these days tightly in my hands, it slips through my fingers.  I want to hold on to these times.  Like trying to hold onto water, sand and children, it just doesn't work.  But I want it to.

This is different than the last time I was out in the camper van.  Then, I was content to see the beauty, but to let it pass by, knowing it would remain in my heart and mind's eye.  I think the difference lies in the stresses and strains of the past eighteen months.  My cancer is in remission, but one of the side effects of the disease is an acute awareness that I may never get a chance to pass these ways again.

Great Salt Lake, UT
I am more anxious, fearful even.  I'm not used to me being fearful.  In Colorado, one of my friends had to talk me into not taking the freeway.  That is SO not me.  I spent six months avoiding the freeways.  So, I gathered my fear into a tight bundle, and took the back road out of Colorado Springs and into the mountains.  The way up was fine.  Neither my van nor I could breathe well in the thin air, so I just slowed down and watched the road as well as the scenery. 

Then I crossed the summit, and started down.  My fears got into high gear, but the camper van and the rest of me were just fine.  We downshifted and took it slow, especially around those 10 MPH curves.  I slowed down to five, and let the people behind me fume.  (I also pulled over as soon as I could to let them pass...)  By the time I got to the
Bonneville Salt Flats, UT
bottom of the hill, my fears had quieted - whatever they were.  I'm just sorry I had to do all the driving - it's downright dangerous to take pictures and drive (talk about distracted driving!), so I need to be content with the scenes in my memory.

Also unlike my last trip, my time on the road is tightly bounded, so I went quickly (for me) from Colorado to California and my long-awaited date with a hot tub on the Sonoma coast just north of San Francisco.  I went from the mountains of Utah and across the first part of Nevada in just over a day.  The following day, I drove eleven hours (too many!) to get here to the coast.  It was raining for much of the trip across Nevada; not what I was expecting given my reading and the arid landscape.  It kept raining for the first two days here -
Elko, NV
unusual for the season, but it finally moved on this morning.  (I didn't mind the rain - the mist is beautiful, too.) 

Now, the sun and fog are playing tag across the rocks below.  One minute you can see a ways out to sea (I have yet to see the horizon), the next, you can barely see the birds perched on the rocks. 

Pacific Ocean, CA
Stop.  Breathe.  Relax

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Less Traveled Roads

Hwy 94, Colorado
Once I left the campground, I gathered up my courage, and took the road less traveled by between Kansas and Colorado Springs.  It took courage because the memory of the previous day's storm was fresh in my mind, and I knew the smaller roads wouldn't have a safe place to pull off. 

I'm glad I took the risk.  U.S. 40 to CO 94 took longer than staying on the freeway would have, but this way, I got to get back in touch with the wild loneliness of the plains.  CO 94 is a direct shot from 40 to Colorado Springs, but little traveled.  The cut takes about 90 minutes, and I saw no more than five cars along the way.

As I drove, I was struck anew by the beauty of the open sky and by how big the world is.  My world can get crowded and small.  A drive across the high plains does wonders to bring things into perspective just a bit.

Garden of the Gods
I decided to linger in Colorado Springs for an extra day so I could adjust to the altitude a bit, which was mostly an excuse to revisit one of my favorite spots in the world, the Garden of the Gods.  It's easy to see why the Native Americans considered it a sacred space.  I had delightful company on my walk; my friend Mary's daughter is home for the summer and hiked with me.  As we took the less traveled path up and away from the crowds, we talked of life and futures and pasts.  We spoke of dreams and plans and likes and differences.  We sat for a spell in the shade of the Siamese Twins rock formation and just enjoyed the beauty around us.

It's working better today - Stop.  Breathe.  Relax.

On the Road Again!

Cedar Bluffs State Park, Ellis, KS
I'm on the road again - time for my annual leave from work.

Stop.  Breathe.  Relax.

It's taken me a bit to shift gears.  The day I left town, I packed up, then stopped at work to pick up a few things, went to the grocery store, went back home for some stuff I forgot, back to the grocery store, then on the road.  About an hour down the road, I realized I'd forgotten the stuff from work - yes, the stuff that was the whole reason for my stopping there in the first place.  **sigh**  This relaxing stuff takes practice.

As I drove, I began to smile - I'm free!, if only for a month.  To keep the drive interesting for me, the weather had decided that I-70 across Kansas was the invisible dividing line for a weather front that day.  To the left, it was clear skies, to the right, thunderstorms.  The line held until I was about twenty miles out from my night's campground.

The skies grew dark, the lightning flashed, the wind picked up.  I slowed down.  The rain came down fast and furious.  I slowed down some more.  The wind blew harder, hard enough to blow my windshield wiper out of line so it no longer worked.  I pulled over, stopped, and took off my seat belt so I could find a tool to fix it.  The rain came even harder, the hail started, it was loud.  I sat back down and put my seat belt back on.  It was scary - this IS tornado season.  It was exhilarating - nature showing her fierce beauty. 

Either an eternity or about fifteen minutes later, the wind and hail let up, and I got out to fix the wiper.  I couldn't get the wrench to take hold in the rain, so, grateful for my waterproof raincoat, I just moved the wiper back where it belonged, and got back onto the highway.  I had to stop three more times to put the wiper back before I got to the campground.  The rain stopped about thirty minutes after I got there, so I was able to get a better wrench out of my toolbox in the back of the truck, and fixed the wiper.

The combination of freedom, fear and awe worked its wonder around sunset.  I fell into bed, and had the best night's sleep I've had in ages.

Stop.  Breathe.  Relax.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cat Logic

I do not allow cats on my counter tops.  Period.

When Joe came back to town (he is using my place as a waystation), he brought his two white cats with him.  He brought them to the basement, where they promptly shot themselves up to the rafters and stayed for the better part of a week.  One of them is still spending a good part of his time up there, though he does venture out in the evening, but the other got bored much more quickly, and has deigned to join the household.

Unlike her old house, my new place has a window above the kitchen sink.  While she understands she is not allowed on the counters, she also understands she IS allowed to sit in the windowsills.  And, she's decided the window above the sink gives her the best view of the backyard.  I've been chasing her down to the floor, but yesterday morning, she decided she was right, and held her ground.  I told her to get down; I even got out the squirt bottle and tried to squirt her down.  She just hunkered down and glared at me.  I finally picked her up and put her on the floor.  It's amazing how much weight a cat can put into passive resistance when it doesn't want to be moved.

As soon as I moved away, she hopped back up there again, and looked at me as if to say she was within her rights when she went to perch on the sill.  The fact that she had to pause briefly on the counter tops to get to the windowsill didn't count in her book at all, as long as she wasn't actually wandering around on them. 

At that point, I conceded the battle.  It's hard to argue with a cat who's convinced she's right.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Junk, Junk, Mess, Mess, Mess!

A long time ago, the pool used by the Good Shepherd community, a home for developmentally challenged men here in Kansas City, was broken for the summer.  I heard of their predicament, and invited a group of about fifteen of them over to use my pool one summer day.  The gathering went well; some of the guys got into the hot tub and didn't get out until we pried them out several hours later when it was time to go.  (I know, don't think that direction.  That's why pools are chlorinated.)

At one point in the gathering, I went down to the basement to get something from the backup fridge we kept there.  One of the men, curious, followed me down.  When he got to the bottom of the stairs, and saw the pile of semi-organized tools, boxes and car parts my then-husband had filled the basement with, he went rigid.  "Junk, junk, mess, mess, mess!"  He turned, and stiffly walked up the stairs, hands fluttering in distress.  "Junk, junk, mess, mess, mess!"

I feel much the same way this week.

There are boxes everywhere, with paths through the rooms.  Last week, I pushed everything to one side of the rooms, and gave half the walls their final coat of paint.  Saturday, I pushed it all the other direction, and painted the other half of the walls.  (with some welcome help from a friend...)  Now, I finally have the furniture in place - and I've run out of energy to empty the rest of the boxes.

I look at the mess and am overwhelmed by the size of the task.  I tell myself NOW is not the time to get discouraged; the remainder of the boxes should empty quickly now that the various cabinets are ready to be filled with their loads.  Yet, I look at the pile, and all I can think is "junk, junk, mess, mess, mess!"

It's time to go back to the basics and break the task down into bite-sized pieces.  Each evening, empty just three boxes.  I can empty three boxes.  Even when I'm tired, I can do that much; that little.  If I stick with it, I'll have some order in the place by the end of the weekend.

Which will be good.  I'm slightly better at concealing my distress at the continued disorder than my long-ago guest was, but then I do have the advantage of superior social skills.  supposedly.