Monthly Archives: September 2020

As fall unfolds

My mood gravitates between edgy and hopeful as fall unfolds.  If the political darkness hides a dawn, I have yet to see the merest glimmer on the horizon.  But my tiny house has come to be a comfortable haven.  I spent a handful of happy hours puttering around the place yesterday; another declutter; a few more honest assessments of what I do not, after all, need on the counter.  

The birds begin to show themselves with greater boldness at the river and in the trees overhead.  I watched a heron launch herself from a high wire the other day, catching a shot just as her strong legs pushed from the metal in the easy morning light.  I did not get a picture of the egret in a nearby tree.  A truck roared past between my lens and the branches, startling her, sending her aloft.  I watched with something close to envy as she glided down the course of the slough.

A quick flick of red tail launched a hawk from a telephone poll just ahead of my clunky shutter.  But in the next moment, a crow held still while a single shaft of light glinted from her wing as I watched.  

Soon I will celebrate my third anniversary here, just before Christmas, when the year’s end looms.  By then our destiny as a nation will be written.  I will not speak of my fear.  I will walk with gentle steps as the finch flits overhead and the mourning dove coos.  My soul has found some comfort here, amid the quiet strength of nature and the migrating birds.  I sit on my porch, close my eyes, and listen to the wind in the trees while my coffee cools and the sun warms my tired face.

It’s the twenty-sixth day of the ninety-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

If you want to see videos of #mytinylife and learn about #mytinyhouse, Angel’s Haven, visit my YouTube Channel HERE.   I am not a frequent poster.  The videos are only about my house and my life as a tiny house dweller.  Nothing else.  I’m not trying to be an influencer, just keep a few dozen people informed.  You can subscribe.  I post about once a month.  I do not professionally edit my videos; I barely edit them at all.  They are purely amateur attempts to document the process of living tiny.  I have a new one in the works, so watch for that in the coming days.  Enjoy.

#ForRuth

Dear Friends — 

I don’t mean to complain, but 2020 has been brutal for the world and for the USA most particularly.  I couldn’t bear to post something cheerful in the last week, devastated as I have been by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the contemplation of a locked 6-3 conservative Supreme Court or a nominee that believes that women should not have a choice as to what to do with their own bodies.

I will reel in the whining as soon as I can. When I do, I will try to upload some of the egret photos which I have been taking over the last few weeks.  In the meantime, please head over to my other blog and read last night’s post:

In Which I Confess to Taking My Heritage For Granted

In the coming days, I shall take myself by the scruff of my neck and force myself to soldier forward.  After all, it’s what the notorious RBG would do.

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

The Isleton Bridge, Isleton, California

Renting a Room at the Happiness Hotel

Those of us who live on the islands resist gong Over The Bridge unless absolutely necessary.  We’ll take 12 to 5 and comb the outer limits of Stockton’s shopping district for what we need.  We troll Amazon, upping our searches at the midnight hour, convinced that We Can Find It Online.  We drive our friends crazy asking about hairdressers, doctors, restaurants, and grocery stores in Lodi, Fairfield or even — gasp — Sacramento.

Eventually, inevitably, we drag through the bottom of our bags for dollars to pay the toll on the way back from Brentwood.  Then we head out Twitchell Island Road (only a tourist takes the 90 degree angle; the rest of us cut across the middle).  We hang a left at the river and make our way to the Antioch Bridge and the commercial quagmire which tells us that we’ve begrudgingly left the Delta.

I made the journey yesterday, though after two-and-a-half years, I’ve finally bitten the FasTrak bullet since the pandemic has taken away our toll booth operators.  I sailed through a bank of lingering smoke and landed on 4-East, then Balfour Road, and finally in the parking lot of the John Muir medical complex where I met my latest Nazi Physical Therapists.

I had my temperature thermally gauged and gained admission upon a flashing green analog announcement that I had PASSED PASSED PASSED.  I proffered my newly minted Medicare Supplement Card and took a socially distant chair after smiling behind a fresh disposable mask at the young lady protected by the Plexi-glass counter shield.  Fifteen minutes later, I settled in front of a slew of measuring gadgets.   As she gently encouraged me, I strained to prove that I could squeeze clay as well as the average sixty-five-year-old, which it turns out that I cannot.  

After an hour with the Handmaiden, I got deposited in Room Two (In Use For Patient Consultation, Do Not Enter) where a man of indeterminate age behind a space-age face shield asked me what my goals for physical therapy might be.  He put me through the paces that I’ve come to know so well before gently asking, Now, Can You Stand From That Chair Without Using Your Hands?

Well, no.  But in all fairness, I never could.  His eyes looked sad above the cloth covering what I gathered must be a frown.  Then he uttered a phrase that I dread every time I go through one of these new patient evaluations:  Will you let me see you walk?

Three hours after my car had descended on the Brentwood side of the Bridge, I started the climb towards home.   I texted Louis, the young Frenchman who lives with his husband Helix in my tiny house community.  I’d arranged for him to help me with some chores beyond my strength.  “Almost home”, I typed, while waiting for one-way traffic to let me over the Three Mile Slough Bridge.  I turned onto the western end of Twitchell Island Road just as the you-need-gas-woman icon flashed.  I grinned.  Them’s fighting words, I muttered, and set the pedal to coast.  

A couple of hours later, Louis and I drove into Rio Vista to get sand for my front walk, take the car to the self-serve car wash, and fill the tank.  While there, Louis fixed my fussy gas cap door after exclaiming over the inconvenience of the two-person-and-a-flathead-screwdriver method which a kind stranger had devised the first time it failed to open.  Louis grinned as he demonstrated its restored functionality.  When he resumed the driver seat, he noted that the tank took 15 gallons.  I laughed at my daring but accurate assessment of How Far I Can Drive After The  First Glimpse of the Warning Light.  We headed home through the ashy air, back to the twelve-acre park where I’ve rented a room at the Happiness Hotel, Come On In, We’re Glad You Finally Made It.

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

Milestones

My mother told me that I arrived in this world on my due date and with little effort on her part.  I have, as a general rule, been on time ever since my effortless arrival but I cannot say that my life has been as simple as my birth.

Yet here I am:  On the eve of my sixty-fifth birthday, about to turn another page and walk into the next chapter without fanfare or commotion.  I’m just stepping forward and embracing this particular milestone.

Being this old does not upset me, though being six years older than my mother ever got to be causes no end of dismay.  My fashion sense tends to skew young and I color my hair, so I get a lot of wrong guesses.  But the crows feet and the grey of my eyebrows give me away to the more careful observers.  Perhaps my tendency towards a certain strictness of grammar and my one-fingered text-messaging adds to the conviction that I belong in the retirement bracket.

Yet  I still work; I still put my best foot forward such as it is.  The thirteen-year-old who lives with her parents in our marina loves my clothes.  You’ve got a great sense of style, she told me a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure that Stacy and Clinton would approve but their show got cancelled, didn’t it?  I pull on bright leggings, cotton dresses, and my pale-blue Duckfeet nearly every day.  I suppose it’s my uniform.  I’ve hid behind worse in my time — a size 00 body; deep cleavage; baggy pants.  

Sixty-five does not feel old to me.  When my son was six, I spent weeks at a time in the hospital.  He asked me once if I would die before he got big.  No, Buddy, I assured him.  I’m going to live to be 103, and I’m going to nag you every day of your life.  He thought a minute and replied, Then I’m going to annoy YOU every day of YOUR life.  

He hasn’t, though.  He’s made me proud; he’s stuck by me in difficult times; and he’s supported all of my crazy decisions.  And as I promised my mother, I keep walking.  I’ve walked myself to the western edge of everywhere and the gorgeous sunsets of the California Delta.  I’ve walked myself out of the blues and the shakes and the doldrums.  I’ve walked myself in circles and straight up the mountain.  I keep waking to each dawn.

I do not know what life holds for me.  Every notion that I ever embraced of what my existence should resemble has been shattered into a thousand glittering pieces.  I never expected to live this long or come this far from home.  When I married, I thought it was forever; when I divorced, I thought my life would end.  I surrendered any thought of parenthood just months before I conceived my son.  I expected my mother to give me advice about parenting; I thought I would watch as she aged.  I thought I would have published my book by now.  

The world keeps shocking me.   Graceful birds span the sky above my astonished gaze.  Fairy dust falls from the swaying crowns of the towering oaks in our meadow.  Egrets raise their graceful necks and flutter glorious wings.  I have not yet seen everything that I crave, nor have I uttered all of the words brewing in my soul.  So I will not yet surrender.  I will take each day  that I am blessed to see.  I will embrace whatever hours remain and fill them with enduring goodness and a sweet glory.

And If this year brings my twilight, then I will spin the rays of the setting sun into gossamer yarn.  I will weave a fine length of cloth.  In its beauty will I wrap myself, and lay down by the river to rest.

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

Friends: 

As you know, most years I have held a fundraiser on my birthday to benefit Rose Brooks Center.  I posted one on Facebook; and I ask that you take yourself over there and make a donation to that amazing and important agency.  If you are not on Facebook, you can go directly to Rose Brooks Center‘s website and make a donation.  Thank you. 

If you or someone you know needs help with family violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. There is always a way.

In the dark of night

The house to the west of mine wears a crown of cafe lights which gleam in the dark of night.  The rays cut through the clean Delta air.  Wind has cleared the lingering smoke from the fires to the north and west of us.  

The neighbor’s lights brighten my house.  They don’t seem to be on a timer.  With the peculiarity of my pain, I sometimes fall into an exhausted sleep before nine and snap awake several hours later.  Those lights might have dimmed by then; or they could still glisten against the midnight gloom.  I close my eyes and burrow under the quilt, wishing for something, not pills but something, to make the long hours more bearable.  Tea, maybe; or a distracting novel.

The pain comes and goes in ripples and waves.  Occasionally my legs snap taught.  Then I must struggle to sit and steady my feet on the floor so I can strain against the cramping.  At such times I study the outlines of the park.  Is that a willow, to the east?  Do  I see a critter scampering through the narrow piece of ground between our tiny houses?  My head falls to my knees.   I desperately need rest but I’m afraid.   This weird condition which I have battled for sixty years does not lend itself to comfort.

The curtains ripple as breezes dance through the open window.  A constant howl tells me that the morning air will be sweet and the meadow strewn with fallen branches.  I close my eyes.  Darkness swells through the open space between my small bedchamber and the rest of the house.  A crow calls.  I watch the flickering shadows on the transom.  My eyes grow heavy.  Sleep claims me as plaintive chirping sounds from the graceful crown of leaves high overhead in the towering old oak.

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

Bonnie Raitt, “Valley of Pain”