Friday, August 31, 2012

Last Week's Bugs.

On Friday, I was drove down I5 South. You were sitting in the passenger's seat. It was dark, rural, and just past twilight when the bugs hit.  We couldn't see them, but all of a sudden our windshield was being pummeled by so many tiny bugs, we thought it might actually be raining. 
But there was no rain.  Just a lot of bugs. 
Our car still bears the carnage.  Which just means we haven't been to the car wash yet. 
Which just means I'd rather spend my cash on Starbucks.
We drive that particular stretch of road so often that the car wash seems pointless; we'll get the car clean, then drive through next week's bug storm, and we wont be able to tell which carcasses are which.  Last week's bugs look just like this week's bugs when they are splattered, am I right?

On Sunday, you were driving back up I5 North, when it was dark but getting darker.  We could see where the sun was going down behind two distant hills beyond the empty fields where the bugs had been two days before.  I watched the sun set until my eyes hurt and I couldn't easily make out what was directly in front of me without a lot of blinking over a little bit of time.  I kept saying "look at that, look at that," and pointing to the lowering sun, even though you were driving and needed to keep your eyes on the road, needed to not be blinded by the light of glory just then.

By the time we got home, it was fully dark. You said "do we have to bring everything in right now?" I said "yes," so we did.
We walked inside, put everything away.  You said "I like that you put everything away, right away."  I said I couldn't rest until I knew it was done. 

On Monday morning, I went running down a now familiar path.  I looked up and saw that the sky was blue, it was definitely blue, and right above the blue, a line of smoke. 

After that, I took it easy.



I now own a little hand held canister of pepper spray, complete with a comfortable hand strap so that it's easy to hold.  When worn correctly, the word "MACE" shows on the outside of my hand, so that any approaching mayhem starters will be psychologically overcome before they are physically overcome, and will think twice before attacking me.  In the event that it is a mountain lion who attacks, I hope that I get the one lone mountain lion who can read, and then retreat with it's tail between it's legs back to the rocky craggy cave like hideout from which it originally sprung itself the moment it sensed my presence.  I made sure I knew how to properly use the little hand held spray canister, in hope that I will never have to use it.  My husband gave me a pepper spray tutorial.  He said "you can't just sort of spray it and shriek and run away; you have to keep spraying it directly into the person's eyes until he is incapacitated." he said "Pretend you're me, I know you can do it."  He also said "You are basically armed with a weapon."  I told my husband, "I really don't think anything will happen to me on the trail, because when I run, God goes with me, and there are a whole lot of angels that surround me."  He smiled at me and said something like "that's nice, take the pepper spray."
When I was a very young child, my father used to say to me, "If anyone ever tries to hurt you, poke him in the eyes."  and he demonstrated by pushing two pointed fingers into the air in front of him so I would know the proper eye poking technique. 
So far I have never had to poke anyone in the eyes.  I'm glad because aside from the obvious reasons, eye poking feels much too personal and squishy.  I don't even touch the eyeballs of people that I like.  At least with pepper spray, I can keep a ten to twelve foot distance.
     So armed with my weapon of choice this morning, I added a mile on to my usual run, the first half of which was a steep uphill incline with sharp curves.  What enticed me was the sign at the base of the hill which read "Steep incline and sharp curves, next .5 miles."  I reasoned that if I ran to the summit, I'd have to run back down, which would be exactly 1 mile, and then I could say that I'd done it, which is my favorite reason of all, and the downhill part would be easy, and then I could finish my usual run.  I also reasoned that my 20 year old self would have run it even without pepper spray and without question, because my 20 year old self was just a little bit more naive and insane than my 36 year old self. 
 But not much. 
 I don't mind that. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012


     I am learning that summer in Redding means that you never know when it's going to be smokey outside.  One day it may be clear, but then the next you wake up, and the air is thick with smoke. When it's smokey outside, you are not supposed to go running.  It's not good to breath smoke into your lungs.  It will hurt them like smoking a cigarette, but you don't even need the cigarette, you just need to breath deeply. On smokey days, I like the smell when I open my front door.  It smells like someone is having a barbecue, or camping, and I was once again not invited.  But then I feel guilty for enjoying the smell, because I know, I KNOW That it means there is a fire somewhere, so I hope and pray that it's on a hilltop far away from any homes and that no one is hurt or needs to be relocated.  
     It's been smokey all week, but I can't tell from where the smoke comes.  So I can't tell to where I should go. Safest bet: stay inside.   
     Today I learned that the first state in the union was Delaware.  I'm sure I already learned that in 5th grade, but I have since forgotten, so I learned it all over again today.  I learned by driving behind a car with a license plate I did not recognize, it was black with orange or yellow writing, so I read it, and  above the numbers it said "The First State," and below the numbers it said "Delaware."  I thought, "I wonder who ever even thinks of Delaware anymore, yet it was the FIRST STATE, the one from which all other states followed after, including, a long while later, my beloved California."  Of course the people who live in Delaware are always aware of it's existence, but what is the current population of Delaware, anyway?  Like 7?  Our ancestors got over it a long time ago. 
      (The other night, my husband said to me, "Do you ever think that it's weird that our country is called "The United States?") 
     I'd like to talk to those 7 (or so) people.  I'd like to interview them just to find out what their lives are like, how they grew up, how much of it was so much like mine, but which parts were different, and which of these differences are different than ones that my next door neighbor could give, because they are unique to having grown and lived in such a physical place and climate as Delaware. Of which I know nothing, neither from personal experience, nor from book reading.  I'd like to know if they have TJ Maxx there; I'd like to know if they wash or warsh their clothes.
     For as long as I can remember, I've never lived out of this state, but even moving to a city four hours north of where I grew up, I find there are so many cultural and climatic differences.  Unlike San Jose, we have Winco here, and I find that the women wear an unusual amount of lace.  And yet we share the same Governator.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wild Berries

Tell me if this has ever happened to you: I opened my mouth to say a mundane truth, but what came out of my mouth instead was a profound truth, the kind that has the potential to ruin you, then rebuild you back. It was the truth that had been nagging at the back of my brain, but I hadn't given it full frontal attention yet, at least not in a long long time; I hadn't given a voice to it, and saying the words out loud: "I am afraid, this is what I fear," healed me in a way that only when you shine a light in a dark cave can; where the light burns and burns away at the grime around the edges of that place, the walls start to erode, and in come the flood waters, and the next thing you know, you are weeping and even when you feel controlled enough to stop, you continue to weep because it feels right, it feels good to let the moving water wash that place OUT now that the light is shining on it.  You fall asleep exhausted but then wake up feeling the emptiness of that space you'd cleared, but keep the light shining there, look at it, wait and see, wait and see.  Awkward in your own skin because new steps don't feel natural or even comfortable when they are still new, when you are still blazing a new trail through your own heart vines. 
      I remembered how on Sunday night, we were walking through ruins of old broken down brick buildings; this was in California, so obviously these buildings were built in a time before building with bricks was prohibited in California (earthquakes) and behind the ruined buildings were the brambles that had grown up through what used to be someones home.  Yards and yards of berry bushes; bramble and bushes ripe and dripping juice, just behind what was once a great catastrophe.  We ate berries, they were sweet, berry sour and abundant, but if we don't pick them this week, they are going to all start to dry up and rot on the vine. But it is not easy to pick wild overgrown berries; left untended so long, they are surrounded by protective thorns, and who knows what thrives in the dark depths of their bushes, probably snakes and rodents with sharp teeth and diseases, so fast things can get taken over, when not consciously and vigorously maintained.

Monday, August 20, 2012 riding a bike...

I have noticed that people of all ages ride bikes in this town.  They mostly seem like they are riding  for riding's sake; like a bunch of little kids let out of school, and now they're whizzing off on some bike riding adventure or personal pleasure mission.  People of all ages, yes, but a large cross section of them seem to be old men.  Old men, reliving childhood joy.   This is how it seems to me. 
     In San Jose, from where I moved 3.8 months ago, a lot of people ride bikes, but it's different.  There, bike riding feels like a technological advance, along with recycling, campaigning to save snow leopards, and eating vegan, often all at the same time; San Jose-ans (and Bay Area-ans in general) are nothing if not multi-taskers. Even the clothes they wear for bike riding seems technologically advanced,  as aerodynamically smooth and reflective as possible, their bikes the lightest weight, for the purpose of race training, triathlon or tour De France. Even if they are not actually going to be in the Tour De France, they want to be able to ride as if they are. A picture of engineering at it's finest, by a group of engineer type thinkers who know how to cut everything down to it's most scientifically finite particle.
     Here in Redding?  It seems to me that people wear whatever feels comfortable on a bike.  Including but not limited to baseball type caps with bells and whistles and twirly thingado's and of course, a smile.  Because when you ride your bike in Redding, you can't help but smile as you ring your bike buzzer to let a person know you are coming up behind her/him on the trail.   
      Throughout childhood, I used to love to ride my bike around and around the block, getting extra air where the roots of a neighboring tree had the nerve to push the sidewalk up.  I'd ride on pretend adventures in which my bike was not actually a bike, but a car or an airplane, and it never once occured to me that I was exercising anything other than my wild imagination. 
      I haven't owned a bike since I was a kid; I haven't even really thought about it since, but living here is reminding me of how fun it was, then.  Even my husband has a bike. Yesterday, when we were almost home from church, a group of bike riders rode past our car, and Sam turned to me and said "I wish you had a bike, too." He knows that when I do get one, we'll  ride around town together and ring our bells at anyone in front of us, just for an excuse to ring them, perma-smiles plastered on our faces as the wind carries our laughter up and over the Sacramento River.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lordette of the Flies

When I came home from my run this morning, I accidentally let in a fly.  I didn't even know I'd let it in until I felt a smallish itch on my arm, looked down, and found that the itch had a source outside of myself.  It was a fly.  I swatted at the fly immediately and automatically, so it flew off, but then flew back.  Again, I swatted at the fly, immediately and automatically, and again, it flew off, then flew back.  It kept flying back to me, like an inconvenient truth. My next act of genius was that I started speaking curses on the fly and verbally banishing it from my body and my home. I opened the door and held it open for a minute or so, in hopes that the fly would fly away.  I knew that holding the door open could bring more flies into my home, but I was willing to risk it for the sake of ending my current psychological torture.  I don't know if the fly flew out or if it just found a window at which to buzz out the rest of it's life, but at least I was left alone from that point on. 
     I have noticed a strange phenomenon since moving to this particular city exactly three and a half months ago: The native flies are attracted to me.  I do not enjoy this, nor do I approve of aggressive fly behavior. So I left my house and went to Starbucks.  This particular Starbucks contains a lot of windows, some floor to ceiling.  Which would be lovely if we were in Maui or Spain, but in the middle of a small, "nothing to see here except for the Walgreens across the street in one direction and a moving and storage shed in the other" city, it seems to me that floor to ceiling windows are only good for letting in a lot of heat, and then containing the flies that fly through the door. (Have I mentioned that it's hot here? It's hot here.)  I don't mean to make it sound like there are very many flies in Starbucks today; there are not many flies, only one or two, three at the most, I think, yet it/they keep flying at me.  There are other people only a few feet away from where I am sitting, and I have yet to see a single fly bother even a one of these people.  I have yet to see another human lift an arm in swat ready mode. Yet I keep having to swat my general air space.  Or is it possible that the flies are indeed attempting to interact with the other humans here, but instead of banishing them, the natives have adopted these flies as some type of community pets? Small consciences buzzing necessary reminders not from the inside of their individual brains, but from the outside? "Can't we all just get along?" or "Share the Road," or somesuch logic?
Was there a committee meeting about this which I missed or slept through?
I don't belong to any committees.
But here is a true disturbing thing that happened right when I got here today: I was lowering the blinds next to my chair on one of the floor to ceiling windows when all of a sudden, from where the blinds had been wound up, I unleashed not a fly, but a wasp, which fell immediately to the bottom of the window and buzzed there, apparently dazed.  Wasps are about a jazillion times worse than flies, inflicting actual terror and grief, so I ran my wimpy self up to the counter and told the barista, "There's a wasp in the window!" This young, shorter than me by several inches, tiny creature of a girl apparently old enough to be a barista, walked over to the wasp and stepped on it as she looked at me like I was pathetic. No fuss, no flinch, just a calm step that ended it's natural life. 
 As for a wasp afterlife, I can't say. 
All I can tell you is that things in this city are unnatural, to say the least.
But I like living here; I really really really do like living here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


When she looks at me,
her eyes, her smirk, lit from within
and above,
I see
a person I had never seen before I knew her.
But when she turns away,
I recognize
the side of her head
from pictures I have seen
as the face I use
to not face  anything
in front of me.
It is the side of the moon
turned away from
the Earth.
( did you know there are rivers,
gold and caves on that side/
I wanted to tell you but the timing
was never right)

How did she,
clever little daughter,
learn to make her cheek,
her nose,
flatten into
seriousness hidden
head on?
Sparkling eyes widely unseeable
from the side
I recognize
as my own.

One Night in the dark

One night in the dark,
we went for a walk
on the street behind our house
that is not lit and contains no houses.
In the middle of the road,
you pointed up and showed me
and a rare constellation
which I am sure
only a few people know how to find.
I thought to myself,.
"How fortunate am I
that I know one of the ones."


Not a lover

I'm not a lover of women who yell and scream at their men in public.  I'm even less of a lover of women who passive aggressive underhandedly insult their men in low tones in public.  The yeller is at least being honest.  I shouldn't be surprised that BOTH of these types of women are expecting the same response from their men: that he tuck his tail underneath him and whimper like a corrected puppy dog; that he lap up her insults with an acknowledgement that she is, indeed and once again, RIGHT and that he is, indeed and once again, in need of correction and THANK YOU for helping me understand what's REALLY going on here, I had no idea, I never thunk a thought in my life, I don't know how I get out of bed every morning, I just do it cuz it's what I do, and I don't think or ponder, so how grateful am I to have you, lady, to point a thing out to me.  Or I'd have walked into it and hit my head and and ended up sitting on my butt, seeing stars and wondering how I GOT here. Gosh, how lucky I am, I thank my lucky, lucky stars every day that you are in my life, I am now going to go out and buy you a huge bouquet of roses and a large piece of jewelry, large enough that you will be the envy of all of your friends, they will never doubt that I love my woman and take care of her.  OH!  HOW I LOVE you, Woman! It is INDEED not good for man to be alone!"  And then he will go off and howl at the moon for the rest of the day, leaving her alone to do whatever it is that she needs to do without having the nuisance of HIM around, for as long as she needs, world with out end, but when she's done with that, he will run straight home and not look back and BE THERE FOR HER when she gets home and RUB HER FEET while she talks and talks and talks and talks and OH LORD in HEAVEN, help us; what has happened to the females of the species these days??  I see this type of behavior and thinking pattern all the time, and it makes my heart sink. 
Exactly four days ago, I sat by in silence and tried not to look at a girl (I refuse to call females who behave this way "women," though she was probably around my age.) as she spoke down to her...boyfriend?  I gathered this is who he was from the ensuing monologue.  She started off telling him how he needed to behave, how he needed to respond to different situations, how he needed to stick up for her in this case and that case, how he was the only person who had ever told her he loved her more than anyone in the world, (why does everyone in Starbucks need to know this?) but how she didn't feel she could COUNT on him, and, oh, she made a point of saying that the point of this "conversation," was to REACH OUT to him.  Huh.  Her list of issues and self righteous self defenses just went on and on and on.  She reminded me of a bird with a large beak and she was peck peck pecking him to death. 
 I wanted to punch her in the face. 
Dude finally walked out at about the point when she was "explaining" to him that she likes who she is and is "not going to change anytime soon."  And that means she's going to go out every week, for at least four hours, she's a very social person, and he, (she said) doesn't really have any friends.  She was still saying all this to his back after he walked out, as she followed him, still pecking him as far as her pointy beak could reach.
Yesterday, I found myself yet again overhearing the conversation of two "girls" at a nearby table.  At several points in the conversation did I inwardly shake my head and shudder; I wanted to lean over the table and say "GIRLS!!! You have no idea what you are TALKING about!!!"  But I did not say that, I did not say that at all.  They wouldn't have heard me anyway; the noise inside their own mental fog being so deafening and all.

(Note to self: Don't ever treat this man in such a way. Shudder.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012


(Pre-Script: This post best read without any music.  The music is an original score that we are still perfecting.  Bear with us.)
In a six (6) week period of time, I fell in love with my husband, moved to a town four (4) hours north, and married him.  Ok, he wasn't my husband at the beginning of that last sentence, but he was by the end of it.  Nothing in life could have warned me of this, nor should it have; it was more fun not knowing what was coming, and WAH!  Jumping in and watching the stream of water swirl all around us and carry us away down some new stream of thought that turned out to be one exciting adventurous ride.  It's like life: chapter 8.  You had no idea chapter 6 would end, but when it did, you found out that chapter 7 was actually longer than you'd ever expect a chapter in any book to be.  Impossibly long, but page after page, you got through that one, and found out that low and behold, your story's not over.  Welcome to chapter 8, here's where it gets good.