Monthly Archives: January 2018

Life’s little ironies

I’ve learned a lot this week.

Unlimited Data doesn’t mean “unlimited” to Verizon Wireless; it means, you get as much as you want on your cell phone but only 15 somethings at high speed on your mobile hotspot after which it drops down to a tiny fraction of the speed unless you pay more money.

The people who can address Verizon Wireless’s misleading sales pitch of their Unlimited Data plan don’t have email addresses.

Internet access through an internet-only provider costs twice as much as internet access through a TV provider; and if you want the latter, you have to have a TV on-site at install.  Life’s little ironies number 1,462:  I need high-speed wi-fi to work from home but I gave away both of my televisions when I moved.

A little 16-incher costs $70 bucks from Amazon. It’s on the way, which eats up 1/3 of the savings that I got from the promotional free-installation.

I’m not complaining, though.  I’ll get the Internet going; and it won’t be too much of a strain on my budget.   It will enable me to continue practicing despite being 1800 miles away from my office, and to swiftly apply for jobs within a fifty-mile radius.  I’ll keep blogging.  I’ll keep working on my book.  I’ll keep in touch, I’ll keep streaming, I’ll keep watching videos from other tiny house dwellers and thinking about what it might be like a year or two from now, if I hitch myself to a pick-up, move a hundred miles north, and go solar.

Meanwhile, it’s raining in the Delta.  The Republicans still have a death grip on our country.  Trump’s still president and despite his rather petulant assurances of being a very smart stable genius, I am not confident that he won’t send us to WWIII in a snit of infantile rage.

But last night we all beheld  a sea of glorious black dresses and tuxedos as the women and men of Hollywood declared that #TimesUp and they will no longer tolerate the sexual abuse and harassment of women or, for that matter, of men.  I had a lively discussion on the phone today about the engagement of millenials in the salvation of our nation.  I got invited to a local Rotary club’s breakfast meeting later this week, and I’m one step closer to having the electronic features promised at purchase installed for free on my RAV4.  I’m feeling hopeful.

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




A thousand words is worth one picture

The lady who documents everything six ways to Sunday forgot to photograph her first real visitors to her new tiny house.  *Heavy sigh*

They came and went, Jim Carriere, his lovely and spunky wife Nancy, and their handsome son Joe.  They drove down from Oakland originally planning to buy crawfish in Isleton.  When their dinner menu changed to crab, they came anyway.  They brought a box of See’s Chocolates, a tiny box of lusciousness with sentimental meaning for me of which they had been delightfully unaware.  They hit the gift nail squarely on its emotional head, reminding me of Easter in my childhood home with See’s candy from my  mother and grandmother.

They made themselves comfortable on tiny chairs and complimented Angel’s Haven.  They listened to tales of real estate horrors and shared one of their own.  We talked about Jim’s and my shared love of Rotary; dissected Joe’s future as a doctor or a vet; and touched on the J20 women’s march in San Fran which I’ll miss because I’ll be in Kansas City.  With an offer of berth for the night before my trip and  safe parking for the RAV4, they bade me goodbye, stopping to admire the expertly constructed deck as they exited.  A thousand words and two hours after they arrived, my first official non-family visitors drove off while I stood on my new porch.

Their car couldn’t have been out of the loop before I realized that I had not taken one picture.

But their smiles remain in my internal scrapbook.  I had a perfect dark chocolate with my coffee.  I sat talking with my son on the phone, sharing how good it feels to have made a lasting friend by virtue of our mutual dedication to service and the KC Shelterbox representative, Jeff Deatherage, who had originally connected us.  The world grows smaller every day, and a registered Republican banker from Oakland with his delightful family has made it a little smaller for me today, a little sweeter, and a little more like home.

It’s the seventh day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

That kind of person

It’s been raining off and on for three days.  I hear the rain on my metal roof and wonder what it’s doing to the white-painted rocker on my porch.  The river will rise, and the weeping willow towering over the creek behind the house will shake her branches and send a cascade of water over the field.

In the morning, I’ll walk down the road to get today’s mail.  I’ll raise my head and take in the fragrance of the San Joaquin. The river has its own special smell.  It isn’t the ocean.  It doesn’t send a call to me.  It simmers against its banks, quiet and timeless.  When I drive the winding levee road, I get no sense of comfort from the river as I do on the road above the sea.  But it has its own existence and I understand that it has seen delta dwellers come and go over time.

I seem to be the kind of person who feels at home alone in a small space.  The silence of this dwelling yields only to the occasional ring of the telephone, the whirring of the electric furnace, and the patter of rain on the roof.  I don’t mind being that kind of person; the kind who does not need more than fits within the confines of these four walls.

Still I reach out.  I joined two writers groups today, and spent a pleasant half hour talking back and forth by text with my friend Jeanne Foster in Kansas City.  Considering we have wildly different political views, we agree on a lot about the world.  I talked to my son, too, about vitamin C and cough pearls, of which I’d never before heard.  I spent a half hour copying blog entries and emailed them to Mary Pettet to start her work for our collaborative creation.  It feels right, all of a sudden, to be here, to be doing this, and to be moving in the direction that I’ve chosen.

There will be days when it doesn’t.  But my skin fits today.  I’m grateful for that.

It’s evening on the fifth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Little Christmas comes two days early

I usually take the Christmas decorations down on January 6th.  In Catholic terms, that’s the Feast of the Wise Men, when Caspar, Melchior, and Baltazar brought gold, francincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus lying in his crib.  My mother called it “Little Christmas”.  She would give us one last gift, something small but cherished.

I stood on the second step to my loft and pulled the lights down from the window with a quick, careless tug, scattering the wire brads which my son had gently tap-hammered into the window frame.  Ornaments cascaded to the cherry table.  I ran a finger over the feathers of one of our little birds. I thought I might let the bird stay on the shelf over the stove where it had landed when it fell from the ladder rail on which my son had placed it.

I feel a bit lonely today.  I know that any of my friends in Kansas City would take a call but it seems kind of sinful since I’ve been bragging about the warm weather while they shiver in zero degrees.  Earlier, I walked to the office Kiosk.  The park manager greeted me with the gleeful pronouncement that  I had a package.  I carried it back over the shortcut to Angel’s Haven and sat down with a little knife to open the box.  Inside, I found another gift from Patrick.  Huh, I thought.  Little Christmas came two days early.  In the box were six multi-tier hangers and a package of Chicago-flag coasters.  I sat on the cedar chest holding them, suddenly teary-eyed.

I’d like to say that I’m not homesick; and I’m not.  It’s a something different. It might be whiplash.   I think I’m grieving the rapid and thorough alteration of my life.  I look forward to the future but still — so much happened, so quickly, after such a long period of planning.  I thought about moving for the last three years.  I carefully conspired with everybody;  My son, my builder, my best friends, even the man whom I started dating just this fall.  At the last minute all of the pieces clanged into place with an enormous, sucking whoosh and I found myself turned into a California girl with the ink still wet on this year’s Missouri license tag renewal.

I’m not complaining.  It got to 65 here today.  I’ve sent out a whole sheaf of resumes and job applications, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be employed by the end of January.  I already have a trip to Kansas City on the calendar.  The folks here in Delta Bay have included me in social gatherings  a time or two, and on Sunday, a Rotarian friend from San Rafael will come to call.  It’s all good.

But really, as Dorothy said, there’s no place like home.  High Five, KC, and a quick down-low too.  The music box on my little shelf plays I Left My Heart In San Francisco, but you and I know better, don’t we?

It’s the fourth day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

From “Nejmah”, the poetry of Nayyirah Waheed


It’s Chai-time in Lodi

I went to Lodi to find a Bank of America branch and buy a rocking chair.

I found the bank right at the outset and did one of the two things for which I had come. The second one seemed to confound the teller.  I sat waiting for “a banker” for fifteen minutes before deciding that it could wait for my next trip.  Back outside, I asked the Google lady for “vegetarian restaurants near me” and for my troubles got a list of chain fast foods.  I tried “coffee” and headed towards School street.

I discovered a personal-pizza place with Gluten Free flatbread as an option next to the coffee place and decided I needed food more than caffeine.  A half-hour later, I found myself the new owner of a Mid-century Modern sewing chair.  Another hour brought me to Secondhand Rose, where a four-foot tall woman hauled a white rocking chair from her storage room and I bought that, too.

On the way out of Lodi, the caffeine urge hit me. I drove through Java Stop and asked for Chai with soy milk.  I watched the lady take a bottle of commercially fabricated brown fluid from the refrigerator case and pour it into my cup.  The house-made chai at Crow’s Coffee flashed before my eyes.  I drove away with the tasteless beverage chilling in the cupholder.

At Marshall’s, a toddler in love with her mirrored image caught my attention.  I stood in awe of her abandon as she blew herself kisses and waved to herself like a beauty queen at the Rose Bowl Parade.  The cackling of a lady whose progress my cart blocked startled me awake. I moved forward, ruefully, wishing for a few moments of the kind of self-acceptance that I’d seen the child display.

I headed out of Lodi with CCR echoing in my ears.  I went home and found an accoustic version and played it loud through the tinny speaker of my ThinkPad as the sun set in the California Delta.

It’s the third day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


John Fogerty, “Lodi”


Lists and litanies

I haven’t prayed a Rosary in many, many years. I almost said “decades” but that would have been too much even for me, loving a good pun as I do.  I own a Rosary which my Aunt Regina (Sister Adrian, of the Loretto order, now deceased) brought me from Rome. I also have my mother’s Rosary.  I keep them in  my jewelry box. I never look at them.

But sometimes, such as when the burning in my legs exceeds a tolerable level, I find  myself reciting the Hail Mary over and over.  I do this in times of genuine stress —  like the instant in which I got run over by a car; or the terrifying moments when Alan and I crept over the bridge during the flood of 1995.  I often can’t remember anything beyond the first line but my mutterings have the feel of litanies.  Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  An endless drone, the vibrations coursing through my body, comforting me as nothing else can.

I also make lists, endless lists of goals, desires, duties, and burdens.  Most folks know or read about my combined cleansing ceremony in which I wrote a list of troubles on Christmas paper, burned it with sage, and set my dining room table on fire.  I blame my Catholic upbringing for both the list obsession and the drive for ritual.

My noncomplaining has taken this form.  I create a long mental account of everything that’s bothering me. I tear the page from my virtual notebook and light an imaginary fire.  I watch the insubstantial pages curl and turn to ashes.  I damp the flames with a ghostly snuffer.  I barely blink until tears sting my eyes.

The first item on every list is pain.  Other woes tumble from me in a hurried rush.  I can’t get the match lit fast enough.  I want to be shed of all my troubles.   I crave a more permanent relief than the temporary respite of venting.  I want to truly embrace a state of nonconcern about the petty foibles which besiege me.  Is that too much to ask?  Too big a challenge for my limited psyche?

As  my year stretches into its fifth iteration, I begin to understand that my quest has deepened. I don’t any longer yearn simply to foreswear complaint. Instead, I crave a genuine, deep, abiding level of acceptance.  I see this as the difference between offering my suffering for another’s betterment (another Catholic thing) and walking in a state of grace despite discomfort, no matter how great.  I’ve a long way to go to reach that existence.  I’ll keep walking though. I’ll make it, eventually.

It’s the second day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Happy Newest Year to All

My sister Joyce called as per usual to find out if I’m still alive and take a barometer reading.  I’m good, I told her. It’s true; I’m good.  Only a few annoyances must be handled, and mostly ones of which I’m already aware and OTJ.  Solutions continue to elude me but I have not lost hope.  i’ll find someone to install the new drain pump in the lovely little LG washer-dryer combo on which I depend for laundry.  Joe the handyman will seal the bathroom.  I’ll figure out how to change the filler in the composting toilet.  Employment will present itself.

In the meantime, Joyce asked how I spent NYE.  I read; I blogged; I contemplated life.  I got online and donated to worthwhile causes:  Heart to Heart International in Lenexa and the Midwest Innocence Project in Kansas City; the Equal Justice Initiative; the ACLU Foundation (tax deductible) and the ACLU itself (not); Rotary Foundation; Shelterbox; In These Times; Direct Relief.  I used Charity Navigator to check ratings.  I’m a Rotarian, so the RF and Shelterbox were no-brainers.  The late Jeanne Jasperse introduced me to Heart to Heart because of her mother.  I know about the Midwest Innocence Project through Elizabeth Unger Carlyle and other capital defense attorneys who do similar work.  I joined the ACLU after last year’s election, because I knew we would need good lawyers to defend our waning democracy.  EIJ supports concepts in which I believe and has high ratings.  Direct Relief does what this federal administration shuns, and also gets a 100% mark from CN.  My son serves as an editorial intern for In These Times and introduced me to its spectacular journalism.

You get my drift.  I’m not rich, so each donation was small.  Just tokens, really; to let these agencies know that I recognize their worth.  I also joined the DSA and bought a subscription to In These Times.  In this wicked era when civil rights face devastating government curtailment, I need to be informed and active.  I considered making a donation to Planned Parenthood, but I did so in the name of the VP last year, so I let that lay.  Coming out as the socialist which I’ve been accused of being made enough of a statement.

I stayed awake until midnight.  I posted greetings as the newest year began in each time zone where people I love reside.  I dozed between 11:00 p.m. and midnight PST, but woke in time to hear fireworks on the river.  Then I slept until five a.m. when my friend Jeanne Foster let me know that baby, it’s cold in Kansas City.  I felt a tad bit remorseful but not much.

So now it’s  2018.  I have no idea what the next 365 days holds for me.  I want to “work my values” as my son would say.  I strive to live life as defensibly as possible.  I’ve already been told that I have a cruel sense of humor for mentioning that it’s 55 in Isleton while it’s below zero in Kansas City, but hopefully the person didn’t really think I’m cruel.  I want no part of negativity.

Outside my tiny house, Joe has moved a tractor in place to position my new deck.  Tomorrow I’ll go into Lodi and find an antique store or a thrift shop.  I couldn’t fit either of my porch rockers in the car.  I gave one of them to the lady who bought my house.  One is on Rick’s patio; hopefully, I’ll enjoy spring from that perch.  So I need one for Angel’s Haven.  The sun shines; the sky spans in radiant blue outside my window.  I have no complaints.  I could find a few, I’m sure; but why?  Being positive holds so much more promise.  I choose joy.

It’s the first day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.