Monthly Archives: October 2018


If you suffer under the misimpression that living tiny eliminates chores, let me educate you.

Yesterday, I did two loads of laundry, took all my throw rugs outside to air, vacuumed the entire house (except lofts; okay, the first floor — about 175 square feet), and completely disassembled my entire daybed in order to change the sheets and rescue my winter blanket from the storage area.

It got interesting at that point — dare I say, even comical.  To retrieve the blanket, I had to remove two body-pillows, two bolsters, three large pillows, two medium pillows, and four small pillows.  Following that, I slid two sewing-machine drawers off of the platform along with the jewelry box which sits on top of them.  I then hoisted the cedar chest which completes the end-cap assemblage until it could be slid around to hold one side of the mattress.  I maneuvered my body under the other side of the mattress, using my head as a sort of tent pole.

With one lily white spastic hand, I inched open the 1/2 sheet of plywood which forms the storage cubby lid.  I forced it perhaps two inches, with the weight of it on the only three fingers of my left hand which have never been broken.  Straining against its pressure, I snaked my right thumb and forefinger under the wood, snatched an edge of the blanket, and began pulling.  At that point, my left hand failed and dropped the lid, but the thickness of the blanket allowed me to continue withdrawing it, inch by inch.  Mind you, I still had the mattress balanced on my head and the cedar chest.

I kept thinking:  I really need to redesign this underbed storage.

When I finally got the blanket out, I reversed the disassembly, first putting clean sheets on the mattress (no easy feat for a crippled girl shorter than the dimensions of the bed platform).  I collapsed onto my dining chair, gazing at the finished product.  The entire affair had taken me ninety minutes.

When my neighbor Laurie stopped by for a visit, I told her the story over glasses of Lodi wine.  We could barely contain our laughter.

I slept well last night, on clean sheets, under my favorite blanket, with the cool air of a Delta autumn night flowing through Angel’s Haven.

It’s the twenty-ninth day of the fifty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Each time someone suggested a way to make the bed look more like a couch for visitors, I deployed the suggestion. The cedar chest rests on the platform to the right under the window. Still no one uses the daybed as a couch! The back half of the under-bed platform has a lid which is unhinged (like me at times) and heavy. Remind me not to store the blanket there next spring! #mytinylife


Darkness lingers in the valley,at sea level, with the mist of a Delta morning trailing through the trees.  Long before my alarm sounds, I have activated the burner under yesterday’s carafe of coffee and stumbled around the narrow confines of my tiny house.  My eyes scrunch beneath heavy bangs and behind the blur of inadequate lenses.

In a little while, my camera and I will go in search of whatever the river wants to show us.  Fortified by another mug of java from the local restaurant, I’ll find the bend in the road by which a fisherman with a line cast in the San Joaquin.  Tall masts will pose for my amateur’s fingers.  The rusted bellies of relics will puff when I turn the Canon’s eye in their direction.

I don’t know much about life.  All of the knowledge that I thought I had garnered falls away like rotting scales.  I’m left with the basic, immutable precepts of childhood.  Put your best foot forward, my Nana told me.  Keep walking,  urged my mother.  But these too:  Always play the house odds, said my Dad, along with, Never draw to an inside straight.  I’m thinking of letting these four rules guide the last third of my life.

But just now, I’ll throw on some leggings and an over-sized shirt, and go out into the park to see what the day holds.  Later, there will be a Halloween gathering, and more pictures to take.  By and by, I’ll find my way back to the 200 square feet in which I now live and breathe.  There will be rest, at the end of these proceedings.  Whatever life provides today, I am ready.

It’s the twenty-seventh day of the fifty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Laughter / Lightness

I don’t understand most laughter.

When I hear a joke that I perceive as funny, I sometimes laugh.

But if you fall:  I do not laugh.

If you tell me about  your frustrating day, I do not laugh.

I don’t laugh at alcoholism, including drunk jokes.

I don’t laugh at abuse, including punch jokes.

I don’t laugh at clumsiness, incarceration, or destitution.

If I disclose that I’ve been besieged by inaccessible facilities and you laugh, I will not instantly perceive you as being nervous or mistaking my consternation for amusement.  I’ll think you are laughing at my difficulties, and I will retreat.  I notice people always want others to take themselves lightly, and often give that advice after they’ve already done you the favor of dismissing your troubles as insignificant.

Today I got stuck in a chair because it was too low.  I had no choice of chairs.  I had no option but to use the room in which the chair sat.  I don’t have the body strength to rise from a low chair, and a chair on wheels poses particular issues.  I panicked. I started to cry.  I pulled myself together and used my feet to push the chair over near a wall.  I pressed my hands against the wall and forced my body against the weight of my hands.  Then I leaned out of the chair and took a chance that my hands would at least hold my body long enough for me to wiggle upright.

This is an accurate if embarrassing portrayal of how I got out of the chair.

I later told someone that I had gotten stuck in the chair and though I would have to call 911.   She laughed long and hard.  Aghast, I left her company.  I sought refuge in the corner of a room in which I work at that facility.  She realized her mistake, followed me, and apologized.  I let her do that. I submitted to a hug.  She apparently has no idea that I’m actually as disabled as I am.

I try not to take myself too seriously.  I realize that doing so can spiral into self-pity.  But today challenged me.  The trouble started with my car’s “you need gas” light activating after I had driven as far as Walnut Grove.  The only available gas station at that point has no pay-at-the-pump.  I had to go inside to pay through a door too heavy for me to open.  This required me to wait until someone came  along and follow them.  Then I had to hand my debit card over a counter higher than I can reach, go back out the unyielding door, pump the gas, struggle back into the station, and reach over the elevated counter for my card.  On the way out, I tripped over a box of stock, falling into the closed door which chose that moment to swing open on its hinges.  I sailed through the doorway and into the surprised path of a man who jumped back rather than touch me.

A few hours later, I got stuck in that blasted chair.

Laughter seemed beyond my reach today.  Maybe tomorrow I will channel Scarlet O’Hara.  Or  maybe Stephen Hawking.  One can dream.

It’s the twenty-fifth day of the fifty-eight month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.



i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

The famous poem by e e cummings speaks of a love for his darling. The love that I feel for my family and friends is not of that nature.

Nonetheless, I carry their hearts with me in my heart.

Every night I take a box out of a small cubby. I run my finger along its surface. I read the message on it before opening the lid. From it, I take a half-dozen bottles and in turn, from those bottles, I take 6 or 7 pills which sustain the functioning of my body which, as we all know, I have pushed well beyond its expiration date.

I pour cold water into a crystal glass and drink to wash down the life-sustaining medication. Then I put the box back into its cubby. I stand for a few moments thinking of the sister who gave me that box. I reflect on everything that I have received from those whose hearts I keep within mine.

I reach to turn the light out and I crawl in bed. I wait for sleep to bring me whatever measure of rest I can garner. Regardless of how I feel in the morning, I will go about my day with a smile, a glow, and the certain knowledge that I am loved.

I read something the other day which resonated with me. It went like this: “If they do not mind your absence, then they did not value your presence.” I recognize the truth of that assertion. But I  dwell instead on its converse. That is to say, those who protest your absence, valued your presence. I am missed enough to understand that the people who regret not seeing me are the people who enjoyed my company when they shared it. As for those who clearly can live without me, I shall allow them to do so.

It is the 24th day of the 58th month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.

Autumn nights

The cold descends on the Delta as soon as the sun sets, while we’re still swatting mosquitoes.  I hand the dishes of nosh across the railing to my neighbor.  Then we take ourselves over to her house and walk out the redesign of her bed-sit area.

Back at home, I spend more time than I planned scrolling for innovative bed designs.  I sense what might work in my neighbor’s home but I don’t have the physics knowledge to underwrite my plan.  We’ll figure it out.  Then I get caught in a hopeless tangle of attacks by a friend of one of my sisters who has apparently decided to convert me to Trumpism.  I read her rambling paragraphs and then decide to ignore her tirade.  That’s the beauty of the internet.  I don’t even have to hit the mute button.

A pleasant tiredness settles over me.  Morning will arrive before my body has rested, my daily fare.  I still have a vivid recollection of the first doctor who conceded that I will have to get used to that.  “It’s called ‘fatigue even at rest'”, he explained.  “It’s a function of your post-encephalitic state.”  Not my imagination, then.  I felt a surge of relief.  Having an explanation changed only my perspective.  Somehow I found comfort knowing that I really, truly, am always tired.

I notice that the angels shifted position during  my two-week absence.  We might have had a little trembling, a rumble in the underpinnings of our park, the fault lines asserting themselves.  Now the angels face the window.  That seems fitting.  I leave them and go downstairs, to wash dishes, put on pajamas, and crawl under the covers.

It’s the twenty-third day of the fifty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Ever hopeful

Some people simply refuse to abandon hope. I have always striven to be one of those people despite the immeasurable examples I have encountered that would otherwise have convinced me that hope had died. Last week, I experienced one small — in fact, tiny — example of the possibility that positivity will be rewarded.

When I went tiny, I downsized 1252 square feet into 200 square feet. In doing that, one of the categories of belongings which needed substantial editing could be found in my 12 x 20 walk-in converted attic closet. I downsized from 12 ft of hanging clothing, and a 4-drawer dresser, to 21 inches of hanging clothing and a small wicker cabinet in which I store my delicates and socks.

Ah, socks.

For the last 10 months, I have been jealously guarding a single, unmatched sock. It was one of a pair which I enjoyed wearing because it was soft, fit well, and looked good with a variety of leggings. Anyone who knows me will recall that my standard outfit for the last 4 years has been dresses and leggings. Year-round: spring, summer, winter, fall. I wear lightweight leggings and cotton dresses in warm weather. I wear knit dresses with heavyweight leggings in cold weather. But whatever the weather, nothing completes my standard uniform like a cute, comfortable pair of socks.

When I returned to Kansas City last week, I took possession of a number of things which friends had stored for me. Among those things I found a single, unmatched shoe, one of a pair that I often wore. I lamented the loss of its counterpart. However, I rejoiced when I saw tucked in that shoe the matching sock to the single, lonely little sock which I have kept in a drawer in California since I moved.

If these two sole-mates can be reunited, hope endures. In fact, hope might even float.

It’s the 22nd day of the 58th month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.

Yeni Yil*

My favorite part of staying at HI Pigeon Point involves the human connection.  We gather in the kitchen in the Dolphin building, a ragtag collection of people who did not previously know one another and who might never see one another again.  We share stories, and chocolate, and eggs.  One has butter; another bread; a third contributes a pie from down the road.  We ask from where each has come and how we happen to be bunking at a hostel on the Pacific Ocean.

Occasionally, I band with another traveler for a few hours or a day. We venture into the surrounding area and share the experience of the red wood forests or the wetland trails.  Today I went to Año Nuevo State Park with a neuro-psychologist from Turkey by way of Virginia.  Because she accompanied me, I could walk the 4-mile round trip as far as the Staging area.  I waited for her there while she climbed the rest of the way to see the sea lions.  When she returned, we made our weary way back, greeting the children who scampered past us with their patient parents.  We spoke to a couple of docents, one of whom let me take his arm over a particularly rough spot.

When we returned to the hostel, my friend, whose name is Gunes (pronounced ‘Goonesh’) made a Turkish vegetarian dish for us to share.  My brain and my legs had gone to mush by then.  I could not get my mouth around a proper thanks.  I became too fixated on loading some photos of our day to Google Drive so that I could share them with her, but the lightness of the air or the nearness of the sea interfered with my connection.  I received a mug of green tea almost without thought.  Suddenly she had gone, down to the point to watch the sunset or over to her own dorm room.  I realized that in my fatigue, I had let her wait on me.  It felt as though a sister had come to the place, and soothed me with the kindness which flows in common blood.  Or perhaps, it seemed as though my old friend Mona, with her lilting Lebanese voice, had returned to scurry around the kitchen and fuss over me.

Days such as these give me precisely what I need.  My bones ache.  My muscles protest.  But my spirit soars, thanks to a day’s worth of Vitamin D and a slender woman who quietly walked with me in the stunning beauty of northern California.

It’s the twentieth day of the fifty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

*I explained to Gunes that “Año nuevo” meant “new year” in Spanish.  She taught me to say “new year” in Turkish — “yeni yil”.

A Taste of Why

For your edification and enjoyment, I here present a taste of why I love this place:

Evening, Pigeon Point, 19 October 2018

Along the Cabrillo Highway

In Downtown Local, Cat Stevens continues his search for a hard-headed woman.  The counter canisters advertise Quaaludes and Downers, but contain varieties of penny candy.  A lady with extraordinarily long and curly grey hair exchanges her shades for bi-focals at the table outside.  Her tan Fedora tells me that she’s a transplant from the Bay.  Cat Stevens knows that he will be blessed.  I tend to agree.  Then he launches into one of my divorce songs and my heart cannot help but clench.  Oh, baby baby it’s a wild world.

I’m ten miles from Pigeon Point and feeling fine.  But Cat croons about Sad Lisa, reminding me that somewhere people don’t fare as well as I.   My head bows; I wish those unfortunate souls the strength to endure until grace comes to ease their burdens.

A text sounds on the phone in my purse but I ignore it.  Outside the sky rises clear and blue, though a fog still lingers at sea.  The road rose and fell in the winding tendrils of the ocean’s shroud.

Along the way, I saw swimmers and children chasing the waves on the beach below the highway.  The tension eased from my spirit as it usually does this close to my Pacific.  I played tag with a couple on a tandem pulling a little carrier.  At  first I thought that a child rode in the back, and I shuddered at the nearest of death.  But after the third time of passing them, I realized that they must be on a southern journey down the Coastal Highway.  The woman had the seat in back.  Her hair streamed loose from beneath her helmet.  The sight touched me.  She leaned deep over the handle bars and pumped the pedals with an enviable vigor as her partner recognized my car and waved.  I didn’t honk; I didn’t want to startle them.

My mid-fall journey took me as far east as Lake Shore Drive and will end two hours inland at my tiny house community in the California Delta.  Just now I’m miles from nowhere.  Like Cat, I’m taking my time.

It’s the nineteenth day of the fifty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.



Sometimes a place and an experience become so sullied and muddied with the dregs of the past that you purge them from your life.  Sometimes you feel that you’ve sunk so low that you’ll never be granted redemption.  Your spirit flags.  You cower; you shrink away from fields which once held golden wheat.  You bury yourself in the dank depths of a silent cave.

Then a blaze of light penetrates your exile.  A hand draws you forward.  A soft voice beckons you.  The radiance of an unblemished warmth surrounds you.  The ice which has wrapped itself around your heart cracks and falls away.  You take a timid step forward and the path opens to you.

Today did that; and not just for me, but for two people who once crept with such hesitance on life’s broken road that you could hear the quaking of their spirits and feel the tremble of their tears.  I witnessed their emergence from whatever hell had threatened to consume them as their love grew over the last few years.  This afternoon, they exchanged a pledge so pure that its wide embrace included everyone, even me.

As I pulled onto State Line Road today, leaving the party which followed the marriage of Abigail Vogt and John Heitman, I let the last vestiges of a lingering grief fall to the rain-soaked yard of the Alexander Majors house, in Kansas City, which I once called home.  I headed east, to the waiting smile of my sister.  In the morning, my journey will resume, eastward and then north.  I’will spend four days with my son on the shores of Lake Michigan, another lovely  place which I hope to reclaim.  But first I will rest; and I suspect that I will sleep well tonight.

It’s the fourteenth day of the fifty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Congratulations, John and Abbey.  Best wishes for your wedded life.