Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I think I have been over every square inch of California: the big, faceless I-5; the pokey little 43; the 46 that goes past the Jack Ranch; all over San Diego and Los Angeles; the Lindsey-Porterville Highway and the Orange Belt Freeway; the old 65.
But there is no road more thoroughly imprinted on my memories—a reminder of colorful, unpretentious family trips to buy new breeding stock or harvesters—than Highway 99 as it bisects the Central Valley from Bakersfield to the Oregon border.
The old 99 was marked out in the early 1900's with a narrow strip of concrete. As the farming blossomed, the little road linked the big cities with the isolated ag towns of Pixley,. Tipton, Tulare, Fresno, Madera,(where Marji lives) Le Grand (where the antique auction is),Merced, Hughson (where Jana lives), Chowchilla, Modesto, Ceres, (where Chrissy boy lives) clear up to Sacramento, on to Redding (where Chris and Brenda lived)
In John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, the fictional Joads traveled on the 99, as did so many real-life Dust Bowl migrants looking for work in the fields. Today, truckloads of grapes, bins of tomatoes, garlic, oranges, cotton bales, peaches, kiwis, almonds, pistachios. walnuts, lettuce, hay or rice exits the Central Valley without being ferried up or down 99 nearly every day of the year.
But the 99 will never rank high on a tourist's agenda. Most people who drive 99 these days do it because they have to—truck drivers delivering goods, people visiting relatives. The 99 will never get you to the California you see in the movies but it will get you to the real heart of the state. Nothing makes me happier than driving through the spring blossoms and being able to name off the crops as we pass---those are peaches, those are table grapes, that's alfalfa....who knew I was listening on all those long drives when I was a child.
The 99 was always the road of choice for long trips...and anyone who has every taken a long trip (before car radios/air conditioning/seatbelts) can sympathize with my Dad, who after listening to us bicker over some toy in the backseat for 50 miles, reached back, grabbed the offending toy and tossed it out the window. We immediately were glued to the back window, as we watched out toy bounce out of view.
Driving along 99 today, you'll find an unfussy, real California in a lovely landscape of almond orchards and vineyards, tidy farmyards and rusty train tracks, peach trees, and Depression-era hamburger stands. The 99 highway passes towns with their handsome old Main Streets and new McMansions. Thriving downtown or not, the elegant old buildings seem to whisper the names of the people who once walked those streets: Serpa, Briano, Valline, Koontz. O'Leary...all immigrants who knew how to husband the fields they found, not streets of gold, but close enough.
Each name on the map reminds me of the hundreds of trips I've taken; to Anderson to bury Uncle James and see the salmon jump; to Madera to meet up with Marji and the lovely Miss B for a trip to the city, to Mount Lassen, where the deer tried to eat us, to the Paige exit, where there were only memorized landmarks, taking me through the fields and groves to home.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
We're over at the beach and it's raining. Ben has been doing his gourmet chef thing...he can throw down...went out to the range and shot until the weather got really wet (yes, we are crazy). I want to go out to the beach to take photos tomorrow (I have that fancy pantsy new Nikon) and we're going out again tomorrow to shoot if it is dry. I took my Saturday sky photo right off my back steps with some BFA lense, as long as my arm.
October 27 2007
From the back porch steps
This was the week that souther California erupted with wildfires from San Diego to Ventura. The sky driving in last night was full of the dark smoke cloud hiding the moon. Today, it rained and rained and rained. (The black line is a power line I've never noticed!)
This one in the middle t is October 20, 2007. The Santa Ana winds were whipping up the waters and the white "fog" you see is the spray from the waves crashing on the breakwater.
October 13, 2007....my front yard
Judy and Gene came out from Provo to visit, so we stayed home.
October 6, 2007
Wow! Isn't it beautiful? This is at the marina, where the boat is docked.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Working in corrections can shorten your life by FIFTEEN YEARS. On days like today-well, in a week like this one is sorting itself out to be, that is a blessing. There are some things you just are not meant to know. And you won't be hearing them from me. Enough that I know.
So that is why I need to get out and walk or drift on the tide or sit on the bottom of the pool with my dive gear on---I need to quiet the noise in my head with just some whooshing. I even sleep with a fan on--I have to have the sound of the air and the feel of the air, as well. Otherwise I feel like I am suffocating under a pile of rocks. How do I sleep at night? You might as well ask a soldier in a war how they can possibly keep putting one foot in front of another. And the thing is, this war? It goes on every day, on every block in every town. Whatever it is that you see on televison? It is pretend.
I don;t watch scary movies anymore, since I work in the belly of the beast every day. I don't want anyone else to see what I see when I close my eyes.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
This is what it looks like from the water. Today (Saturday), it was like this until I got past the boats moored in the channel. Then the wind kicked up and it got choppy..pretty, but a little rough. Lots of sailboats wee going out, so I had a lot of company. It was rough enough that I put my cell phone AND my camera in a double zip lock. If I tipped over, I could call the Coast Guard (I have them on speed dial)to rescue me. I saw some sea otters and will get them posted later. They looked like they were on a date and were very cute.
Here is my view from the patio. My little house is NOTHING to look at; it is dinky, dinky, dinky; I don;t like the kitchen and I hate the bathroom. But with a view like this every day...really, who am I to complain? I have a tiny patio (enough room for a table and two chairs in the middle, the barbeque and then two chairs and an itsy table up by the front walk..just to look friendly. I really don't visitors! There is just enough "extra" space for me to put in one of those Japanese soaking/hot tubs. I'm torn with this idea...on the one hand, I really hate the bathroom here and would like to rip it out and put in a WOW! shower, with a steam/sauna thing. OR I could put a two person tub out on the patio and look at the ocean. Gee, it is SO a toss up.
The wind has whipped up and that white fog is really spray whipped up against the breakwater.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I will never have the eye that Paulie has. But I can entertain my own self. So the old point and shoot goes to my son, the newer point and shoot just goes in the glovebox (you never know) and the Nikon goes in a camera bag in my car to drag around.
Yesterday, after a bad, bad, very bad day--a Hanibel Lector squared day-I pulled over and smelled the cotton that is baled up on the side of the road. It is a bad year for cotton but it still smells the very same way as it did 55 years ago. Some things just never change. It is't the smell of clean linens...just the smell of fresh picked cotton on the side of the road.
In my line of work, you take joy when you can. Cotton v Hannibel Lector? No real comparison.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Speaking of cleaning, other than the office, which is today's chore, the house is clean on the outside. If the weather is nice, I'm hosing off the porches, which are the source of a lot of the dirt that finds it's way into the house. Then there is the guest cottage and the attic....looks like a huge ebay fest to me.
Speaking of, I am going to have to paint pretty soon,just to protect the wood on this 150 year old monster. Yellow, I think this time. With dark green trim. The other houses on the block are various shades of gray, which I have never cared for. I had hoped to sell the place before I had to paint, but I dilly dallied and now it is starting to look just a tad raggedy.
I have to pump the pond this week, too... all the water (6,00 gallons of it) goes into the flowerbeds and the garden on the south side of the house. I'm hoping that the housing market swings up so that I can get, if not top dollar, within sight of good money for this place. It is big (3,000 square feet) and on a acre with a pool, trees, graps,. garden, koi pond, guest house, outdoor shower and outdoor bathroom, hot tub...really a nice place for someone with children AND NOT ME. Too much work.
All that needs to be actually done at the hotel is the kitchen so I can get my C.O. Oh, I want the floors done again with a heavier satin finish to fill in all of the little and I'm not happy with the dining room and I hate the color the lobby turned out...but other than that and the drapes, it is all good. Once I get all the furniture moved in (I have three pianos plus flotsam and jetsam) I think it will be spectacular. Nothing like this house, which is sort of farm house-y. The room at the hotel are much larger, so all the stuff has room to breathe.
I am going tothis morning for a wooden bowl for the coffee table and some harvest colored candles. The coffee table needs an update.
My big project for last night (while I was watching Season 3 of Rescue Me) was to clean out my tote and handbag. Two different things. I leave my handbag in the car; the tote I drag inside the perimeter. There are all kinds of things I just can't take inside and for some reason, they multiply inside my tote.
More later about my so-called life!
I am insane. I know many of you are nodding your heads and wondering why I didn't catch on sooner. (Marji, shut up.) I'm crazy. I'm flighty, scatterbrained, clumsy and moody. I can imagine that it's very frustrating to be around me for any length of time without being driven to drinking. Which makes me love my family all the better for sticking with my lunatic self. My husband dotes on me like I'm a princess- even when I don't go grocery shopping for weeks and he has no clean underwear. He makes my coffee, he rubs my neck; even when I go from furious to sappy to melancholy in the time it takes to blink. (He thinks coffee is the cure for all ills, It might be.)
My daughter humors me and only laugh at me when
They tolerate my bizarro rambling stories and my kooky plans. I don't deserve it.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tomorrow, I tackle the office, which is the hugest mess. It is my junk room and totally lives up to it's name. I am embarrassed to have this room in my house, it is such an untidy mess.
I've even washed ALL the curtains in the house...and the carpet guys are coming on Monday, if it doesn't rain.
And no, I'm not climbing any ladders, lol!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I'm a little compulsive about cleaning. My friend Marji says I'm a wee bit beyond compulsive; I'm Martha Stewart crazy. And it is true that I have never been able to find a cleaner to suit me. So I have this huge house to clean by myself. Just me, clorox, my Dyson and boiling water.
I vacuumed the whole house three times-there is something satisfying about dumping that canister full of dirt. It doesn't help that I have THREE inside dogs and Tank sheds enough to make a spare hound every other day. Used all of my little attachments and did all the upholstered furniture, the stairs and the part where the carpet meets the baseboards.
I can vacuum the tile in the kitchen (nuts, I know), sweep it, vac it again and then mop it. I use clorox first and then boiling water. Then I have this stuff that makes it shiny. I clean the bathrooms with boiling water, too. But it looks so nice when I'm done! I did the fridge and the microwave and the stove, too. Everything is all steamed and boiled clean.
Lisi is not as particular about the laundry as I am about the laundry; so I got all of that done, too. I'm really picky about what gets washed with what and what cycle it washes on and if it is dried on the line or what. I got all of that done AND put away, so both my kitchen table and coffee table are clear. (Major accomplishment.)
And I love to dust and polish my furniture...not often, but when I do manage to get it done, everything looks so right-with-the-world.
I even managed to get all the beds stripped AND remade on the same day.
So right now, I am sitting in a clean house with no housework looming over my head. Dinner is ready and the trash is out at the curb.
All is right with the world.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
I'm constantly tossing guys who cross the line out of class. There's all kinds of stuff they can't do, and like defiant children, they try to do it anyway. This one guy (an LWOP with an enhancement) tried to tell me that I had hurt his feelings so much that he spent the afternoon crying in his cell.
Like I care.
Not only is he a grown man, he's a violent murdering felon. I wonder how many people cry over his crimes?
Another fella just won't stay in class--typical for Level 4's--they want to get to the point where the teacher (me) doesn't really know where the inmate exactly is. I don't even allow them out of class without permission and a hall pass. So it is always a battle that they think one day I'll just roll over on....but me? I'll never roll.
(Dude. You are in prison. Someone has to know where you are every minute of the day. Right now, it is my turn.)
The old guys just do their time. It's the younger ones that I have to battle with every day. Not the same guys; they rotate being ingnoranuses. (That's when you are ignorant and an asshole.)
I did manage to get them to quit swearing; they all get that they cannot talk that way in front of me. And they will check each other, which helps. Of course, I had to throw them all out one day when my last nerve crawled out the door and curled up in the corner. THAT was effective.
Now all I have to work on are the born again Baptist/Catholic/Muslim
I was talking to one of the C/O's on the phone about my Yoga class and how I take it before work...just to get my brain ironed out. (Inmates listen to EVERYTHING). Later, one of the inmates came up, wanting to talk about the meditation/yoga service in the afternoon..could he go? (No; get up in the flippin' dark LIKE I DO and do it before school, you goof ball.).
They are as bad as telemarketers...once they get a second of your attention, they try to get you to see it their way. Doesn't work real well on me. Try someone else. There are lots of goofy staffers...I'm just not one.
If anything sounds the least bit odd, I call someone and check. And when I tell the inmate to "Hold on a minute. Let me call the LT and check. He was in my third grade class...no no no..it is no imposition AT ALL"..depending on how adamant they are about me NOT calling, the more sure I am that I am getting played.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
We wake up EARLY in the morning, which is fine by me. The day is still fresh and I haven't managed to wonk it up yet. So we bought some coffee, we over to the rock and waited until the range opened. I tried out some new arrows---Mike restrung my bow, so it is tighter and supposedly better. I could whine and say it takes a while to get used to any change but the truth is, I'm just rotten. I'm like those Chinese gunners in the Last Samurai. Totally not good. But I like it. And it is probably the least dangerous thing I do outside.
Mike got all bent out of shape when he caught me coasting down the hill here. I got the same tired story about how I was going to break my neck. It seems like every fun thing I do winds up with me getting knocked around, beat up and bruised and just a little bit hurt. Honest! It looks worse than what it felt like. But every Monday, I get a (loving) scolding from someone at work, about how I need to be more careful. I was being careful!
And I'm still grounded from diving because of my head. I know for a fact that there is not only nothing wrong, there is nothing in there, either.
Here are some photos of the wetlands and bird sanctuary we can see from the house. It is right off the back bay, where the boat is docked. Depending on the tides, the back bay shifts from being full of water to a smelly, muddy tidal flat. Although the latter state is not as picturesque as the former, it does provide an excellent cafeteria for the many sea and shore birds that make their home here.The place is just teeming with wild life...lots of birds, harbor seals, sea lions, otters, all kinds of fish and then bats and owls, deer, foxes, coyotes, raccoons. Sometimes we go out at sunset onto that little spit of ground right behind Mike...it overlooks the wetlands and we can see all kinds of critters tromping around. It is kind of cool in a wilderness family kind of way.
My friend Cher is having a new baby grand daughter and wanted a simple little cross-stitched poem , suitable for framing. Well, I can do that!
The odd looking writing is me custom charting the poem.It's not complicated;First you have to find a font you can stand; then all you have to do is chart out each line and then find the middle so everything is centered.
Then you drag it everywhere you go and create it a stitch at a time. So easy anyone with an opposing thumb can do it.
I've been doing this for oh,. about 25 years. It never ceases to entertain me.
And here is the finished products..all three of them!
Saturday, October 06, 2007
So once it got light outside, went on my little paddle...and believe me, it in NO WAY resenbles any of the many paddles Steph and Joe takes. Like my knitting, this is a ZEN experience. I'm doing it to empty my brain of the disturbing images I carry around. This is my recharging time.
I'm obviously not the only one out here, well, once it lights up a little. It's about eight miles round trip, but most of it is not doing anything except floating and drifting. I can tell real paddler's; they have blisters and calluses at the base of their fingers. Most of the people I run into out here...and there are a BUNCH...are in some kind of race with themselves. They must be training for something sweaty, because they are entirely missing out on the Zen.
No critters this morning. I think I saw the footprints in the water of seals or sea lions...they just had better sense than to surface. The water looks sort of matte and odd, sort of like the "footprint" migrating whales leave, going south.
This has just been a very taxing week...I like my life to be very organized and zipping off hither and yawn (literally! ) throws my clock off. I like getting home at x time and having dinner ready at y time. Getting home late and at odd hours just messes up my little organized life.
I think I'm not taking enough chances and I'm getting boring. Obviously time to buy some new shoes.
Later on today:
Went on a drive a took photos of what my little world looks like her on the Central Coast. One of the things I really love is driving out thru the country, thru the little farms. The dirt is so beautiful and rich and brown...if I could find that brown, I'd wear it all the time. I took photos of artichokes (end of the season), a new field of winter lettuce, napa cabbage and some other stuff.
Later on in the year, once the gourmet lettuces start to leaf out, I'll post again, It is so beuatiful to see butter lettuce, french black seed, red lettuce...all next to each other in such beautiful colors, with this dark, rich chocolate brown peat-y earth...just gorgeous. Mike never gets as tickled about the truck farms the way I do, but he'll go along with me chattering about how lovely it looks. You can take the girl off the farmland but I'm afraid that farm stuff runs right thru my DNA. When I drive to work, I go out thru the half dozen country back roads, just so I can see stuff growing. It just makes me happy in some deep-in-my-heart kind of way.
Friday, October 05, 2007
The pipe leading from the bathtub split last night, when I was draining the tub. I don't know about the rest of the world, but I just pull the plug and leave. I don't stand around and check. So all that water in my big claw foot tub leaked into the foyer ceiling during the night, soaking the Oriental rug, warping the hardwood floor and making a huge mess.
When we were getting ready to leave at o'dark thirty four, we realized that we had a leak and taped a nail on the end of a yardstick and poked a hole in the blister....water poured out!
The insurance will pay for the whole thing and lucky for me, I know a contractor whom I can trust to come in while I'm at work.
The floor was just soaked, so of course the dogs tromped thru it all and my kitchen floor is muddy now...but Lisi, who just spent an entire 3 hours at work.....Mother! I've been driving for, like, at least 30 minutes....doesn't want to go to the market, while I stay home and scrub the kitchen on my hands and knees.
Mike has torn out the warped floor and the soaked ceiling, so they can dry out. I have this huge hole in the foyer. We're leaving at o'dark in the morning (our regular time) and going to Morro Bay for the long weekend. So Lisi is going to clean up the mess and then at some point, it will get fixed.
Note: two weeks until Thanksgiving. The drywall is done but not painted. The floor is still ripped up. Not complaining, Just sayin'.