A Little Bit of This and That

Friday, March 16, 2018

I thought I would post a few of this year’s highlights from down in the desert. Sort of a photomontage, if you will.  Life in the middle of nowhere and things that caught our fancy.

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A most fabulous tostada at the Calipatria Donut Shop.  Yes, they have more than wonderful donuts.  The hamburgers are great as are the burritos, etc.

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I picked up a sweet little card table and two chairs at the “Lark Spa Garage Sale.”  (It’s a nearby RV Park)

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A “Darwin Moment” across the street from us.  The grey object above this dude’s head happens to be a small boulder or large rock, however you choose to see it.  He was removing a piece of metal awning that was blowing in the breeze and driving the neighbors crazy all night long.  He managed to remove the errant awning without incident.  The rock unceremoniously, blew off in the next windstorm.  No one was injured.

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Carol’s cactus.  It still stands proud and tall.

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Helen’s cactus, “Bob.”  It survived the long hot summer, after it’s move last March.  It is sprouting two new arms!

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Repair work.  We had issues with the thermostat.  Thank you, Amazon Prime.

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Yet another “Darwin Moment.”  The stabilizer for this trailer is resting on a jack stand.  It doesn’t look all that safe to me.

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The full effect of how this thing is leveled…..both the front and the back stabilizers are resting on jack stands.

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The Legion Fish Fry at Bombay Beach

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Cotton candy……The HIGHLIGHT of the Fish Fry!

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The FOY Parade.  A rather creative entry.

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Best.  Milkshakes.  Ever.

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The International Banana Museum

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Jesus at the International Banana Museum

And this folks, is what happened during the 2 months in exile.  (Not much!)

 

 

 

 

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Another Season of “Fun In The Sun” Comes to An End

 

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Friday, March 2, 2018

We let the folks on our street know that we would be leaving (somewhat promptly) at 8:30 Monday morning. By 8:15, to our surprise, our neighbors had gathered around our site to say goodbye. The four of us Daisies bounded out of the Hag for the farewell send off. We hugged our friends and promised to keep in touch through the year and assured them all that we would see them next January. Each year we become more and more attached to our fellow FOYites. My personal opinion is that the isolation of the park makes the clientele quite intentional in choosing to stay where we stay. There is a reason to drive to the middle of nowhere and park for an unspecified amount of time. I would say that in addition to the dust, wind, mineral water, and desert, the folks who choose to come back year after year do so to be together. I know that my life and well being have been uplifted by the people who have swept me under their wings these past two months.

I made new friends this year and became better acquainted with those I met in previous years. I was invited to a ladies night at a friend’s place where we sat around a fire pit, on the edge of the desert at sunset, and attempted to right the world. It was a select group of like-minded women and one of those magic moments that I won’t forget. My sewing friends included me on a trip to go fabric shopping in Palm Springs, and fabric shopping could possibly be one of my favorite activities. I have been comforted and included, and for that I am eternally grateful. For two months I have received much more that was possible for me to give. Thank you for being a friend, to me and to the rest of the Daisies. The fact that Dad, at 93, had people who went out of their way to speak to him EVERY day was truly a gift, to me and to him. Again, thank you. We know who you are. We saw (and are grateful for) the things you did and said.

And with hugs, waves, and perhaps a couple of tears, we set sail into the known world of long lonesome highways. Fortunately, this journey home was “meh.” We did the casino thing, the orange picking thing, the hellish drive thing, and then we landed home. Maybe it wasn’t quite that simple.

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The “scenery.”  Miles of nothingness.

We left on Monday keeping a watchful eye on our Accuweather Apps. The weather from Chico, California north was predicted to go to Hell, and by Hell, I mean that an impending storm was alleged to bring snow to the Siskiyou’s and points both north and south.

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The Siskiyou Summit.  It was just beginning to snow as we crossed it.

Our usual plan is to spend our last night out at Seven Feathers Casino RV Park and have a short 3-hour drive home the next day so that we can unpack in the daylight hours. This omen of snow, potentially lasting FOUR days, and Dad thinking that we could spend our time cooling our heels (emptying our wallets and upsetting our digestive tracks) for time immemorial at the casino, spurred the rest of this Daisie clan into heading home. Immediately, and without stopping for much of anything. We all have our limits. Some of us might have already reached that point.

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Lake Shasta.  No trip up or down I-5 is complete without a photo of the amount of “water in the hole.”  It’s looking okay at this point.

As it was, we landed at the farm around 5:00 on Wednesday night. We were tired. Some of us were cranky. Some of us were happy. One of us was absolutely elated and bolted out the door of the Hag and ran like the wind through the field at top speed. And, no, that wasn’t me. It could have been, but it wasn’t. Stella ran and leaped and gave me a look that said it all. She was done with the desert; done with confinement; done with being on the end of a 6’ leash; and quite ready to run free and make her own decisions.

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Stella, at full speed.

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As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.” Unless, of course, you’re arriving home at dinnertime, with a fully loaded RV, after a 425 mile day of driving. Then, it’s not quite as magical as it seems. I have heard that some folks approach the unloading and cleaning up phase of traveling with a relaxed pace. That doesn’t happen with the Daisie clan. The comfort of not being inconvenienced, due to missing your personal effects, is strong here. We accommodate this quirk, and so we proceeded to unpack for the next 5 hours. A long day. A short night. That appears to be how we roll these days. That aside, we are home and my people are reasonably happy. And that, my friends, is a good thing.

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The Sunday Church at St. Laundry

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

We adhere to a fairly rigid schedule here in the Hag, especially when we’re in the middle of nowhere. With four of us, and I’m including Stella in this head count, it is really the only way to make things work so everyone’s needs are met. My people need to be fed and be able to go about their business with clean clothes, etc. As for Stella, a schedule means she can DO her business, which is important to all of us. Additionally, as my dear Dad is a retired civil engineer, I have been told that this orderly way of life is the only way to go.

Sunday is my laundry day. Craig and Dad go to breakfast, and I go to the FOY Laundromat. This sounds like a lop-sided plan, but it works. It’s good to clear out the interior of the Hag before sorting laundry. We have had uncooperative weather, and this year that means: Wind. Not just a sultry little breeze, but 20-30 mile per hour sustained BIG WINDS. Sorting laundry outside would send our stuff airmail to Mexico, so the Hag empties out and I have room to do my thing.

Almost from the beginning of our stay this year, a FOY neighbor and I have happened to be like-minded regarding our laundry schedules. In other words, we meet in the laundry. Every Sunday. It is a curious point to note that one of the religious denominations at the park holds church service in the room next to the laundry room. We watch them stroll by and they watch us being heathens on the Sabbath. It’s not really a big deal, at least to me. We get a chuckle and possibly they do too. And, it’s also possible that my laundry doing on Sunday has nothing to do with my personal heathen status. I might have earned that years ago.

When my kids were in their grade school years, we took a 3-week camping trip ending up outside of Yellowstone National Park. We stayed at a campground that was adjacent to a lake where we happened upon a couple that was fishing using float tubes. They were a gracious pair and explained to the kids what they were doing. The man part of this duo happened to be a retired Episcopal priest. For many reasons, organized religion was difficult for my kids, especially my dear son. Perhaps the most notable of these issues, was linked to acolyte duties and the person who commanded these young charges. This was the late 1990’s and the adult leader ascribed to a stricter viewpoint of appropriate attire than the group of acolytes. Wristwatches were verboten, as were certain shoes, hairstyles, etc. My son mentioned this to the fishing priest. His reply was perfect for my son, and my thanks to him are immeasurable. He said, “What?!!! No watches? Why? You don’t need a building or to be an acolyte to serve.” Then he swept his arms far and wide and said, “This is where God is. You are in church right here, right now.” And, of course, he was and is right. The center of our being surrounds us wherever we are.

All of which brings me to my Sundays of laundry doing. For me, the highlights of any day here at FOY are the encounters with friends, be it a wave, a brief hello, or a longer chat. Sunday morning – early – like around 8:00, Linda and I (and sometimes her husband) do our respective laundries. Most of the time we visit while advancing our loads, but there are times when we are out of sync and conversation isn’t as easy. (One of us is just beginning the task and the other is heavy into folding) Linda and I have had some wonderful, insightful, cherished conversations, a few of which occurred in the laundry room, and some that didn’t. You may shake your head and feel that “church” and Sunday laundry room conversation are two entirely different beasts, but I think you would be mistaken. There is a spiritual element to both living and life itself. And that would be EXACTLY what we would be doing. Perhaps it is multi-tasking. There is the laundry, and at the same time we mull over the things that are on our minds, we pep talk each other, and wish each other well as we finish our task. Hmmmm……sounds familiar, only with a little less guilt.

May peace and joy surround you on this day.

 

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Ultimate Grand Supreme

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Yesterday was the annual Craft Fair here at FOY, and again, just to be perfectly honest none of the Daisies was awarded “Ultimate Grand Supreme,” which would actually be known here as: “Best In Show.” If you happen to be a fan of the reality show, “Toddlers and Tiara’s,” this reference would have some meaning, but if not, just know that the comparison is funny. Really funny.

As I drove up to Hays Hall to drop off and set up Dads and my entries, I happened to be on the phone with my dearest daughter. I mentioned that I was heading up early to beat the rush at the sign in table. She laughed and told me that she needed to let me go so I could pay my “big entrance fee,” (there is no fee – again a throwback to the TV show) and that she hoped I had my hair adequately fluffed up, and my makeup and flipper under control. That show was truly a guilty pleasure, along with “Dance Moms” which is so close to dance studio life that it never shocked us to watch it. What doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. And, if by chance you happen to be a previous studio comrade and think I am referring to a shared experience, I’m probably not. But, I have digressed. Monumentally gotten off topic.

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Dad’s Craft Fair entry.

So, back to the Craft Show. Dad entered a braided rug that he made the first month we were here. His entry completed, he then began another rug, which was the one he worked on at his demonstration table during the Craft Fair. Dad and his rug braiding have become quite an item at this event. It is not unusual to see a crowd of very intense crafters surrounding his table anxiously wanting to know how he does what he does.

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Dad at his demonstration table.

It has been my heartfelt wish that his braiding efforts would earn him an “Ultimate Grand Supreme,” but alas there is no competing with the quilters. One of them takes home the “Best In Show” every year. Be that as it may, this year Dad received a BLUE RIBBON in his category…..that would be FIRST PLACE! His category, “Large Crafts 20” or More,” had a LOT of entries. He was happy and that made the rest of us Daisies happy. The two previous years had gotten him two 3rd place ribbons, so this, the third year, happened to be the charm.

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Dad’s a WINNER!

For my entry, I stitched up a couple of heads using a pattern that I found online, (from Carrie Bloomston of such-designs.com) which I call “See Me,” but what I really wanted to call, “See Me As I Am.” Although my point of view is aligned with inclusiveness and acceptance, unfortunately, I would have to say that not everyone on this little “island” feels the same. Additionally, I am acutely aware that those folks are most certainly NOT going to change their mindset based on anything I may or may not say, do, or stitch up. Perhaps this is one of the “benefits” of aging? Make your mind up and leave it there. “See Me,” the androgynous, pierced, tatted, and brown hand-stitched heads, provided a subtle message, if only to me. Retaliatory stitching for being subjected to “Faux News.” And again, I have gone down the rabbit hole of digression, or maybe it’s just time for me to head home.

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“See Me As I Am” — my 2 heads

In the interest of detailing my technique, I used coffee grounds to dye the felt to approximate skin tones. Since these pieces won’t be washed, I didn’t concern myself with making sure the dye “fixed,” or wouldn’t bleed if they got wet. It’s hard to make that happen, so I didn’t do it. I stitched everything together using embroidery floss. After they were stuffed with polyester fiberfill, I embellished them with things I have collected or found here at garage sales and also with a gift of “diamonds” given to be by a FOY neighbor.

I like making these small 3-dimensional pieces, as they tend to “come to life” as they progress. And maybe, what I’m actually saying is that whereas most artists plan their work, I let my work (vex the Hell out of me and keep me awake at night) errr……..”unfold without the constraints of a rigid end result.”

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Renate and I also demonstrated.  She was carding mohair.  It looked like a luxurious stack of wonderful cotton candy.  I did hand sewing.  It’s possible that these are all (carding, braiding, and hand sewing) not exactly mainstream hobbies?  It works for the three of us.

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Second Life

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Being here, in the middle of nowhere, is most certainly an experience that fosters some soul searching. The isolation, the poverty, the heat, and the barrenness of this desolate location would stir the most hardened heart. We come for a visit, and in so doing, we live next to the folks who call this home 365 days a year. I’m not one of those and I really doubt that I have the fortitude to pull it off.

If you have followed us on this journey, you might remember that my sleepy time is spent on a fold out hide-a-bed sofa. To say that this causes discomfort would be a gross understatement. I’m just guessing that 18 years ago, when the Hag was an infant, the mattress provided somewhat more support. Like the “Princess and the Pea” we have added foam pads (2 of them) mattress pads (also 2 of these) and have discussed various other ideas to level out this undulating sleeping plane. After six seasons on this damnable bed, we threw in the towel and ordered a new mattress, which in retrospect, we should have done years ago.

This slice of heaven arrived Wednesday afternoon. We opened it up, and laid it flat on the two “braiding tables” that we bring down here for Dad. By evening it had decompressed. We did a mattress swap by the light of the moon, unceremoniously propping the old one against the front of the Hag, and had our first decent night’s sleep in a month.

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Out with the old.  Looking at the mattress from this perspective, it’s pretty easy to see why it offered such discomfort.  The added pads are waiting off to the left.

There was some worry that this new mattress might be too thick to fold back into the sofa, but the gods of sleep were with us and the hide-a-bed can be forced to, once again, transform itself back into a sofa for daytime sitting.

As happens when you replace something that has lived out its alleged usefulness, the cast off item must be dealt with. Sending this old mattress on its way to the landfill, located within site of this park, seemed like a bad idea, at least to me. We are 10 miles from East Jesus, an artist colony whose medium is salvage art. I contacted them and they were happy to take this full-sized innerspring mattress off our hands. It was one of the items they listed on their website as a “wanted item.” The mattress, and all its accompanying pads of comfort, were loaded up and off we went.

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There she goes…..

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East Jesus is an intentional, sustainable community at the edge of the world. I did not come up with this phrase; this is somewhat close to how they describe themselves, both on their website and when taken on a tour by one of the residents. They have solar panels and battery storage for such, composting toilets, and a simple camaraderie that seems to work well for all of them. It is communal living, however this may strike (or not strike) your fancy.

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Music studio with a Grand piano!

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One of the latest contributions.  Visitor’s quarters are in the background.

Each time we visit, which is usually once per season, I am amazed and humbled by the work this clutch of artists create and the simplicity of their lives. Under the best of circumstances it would be considered hardscrabble living, and life here rarely occurs under the best of circumstances. The environmental concerns, the dust, and the oppressive heat would make life here something a little closer to living either in, or next door to, hell. Again, I’ll repeat, it’s not for everyone.

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A car door gate.

We brought them our old mattress, which we thought would be stripped down and used sculpturally as it was too old/lumpy/uncomfortable for us. Instead, the recipient was delighted to be able to use it for sleeping, a message that stabbed deep into my soul. When we only see things through our own lenses, we miss a great part of life. We are all pretty much the same. It is the basic requirements of life that bind us. We are all just folks. We need shelter, food, and water. The rest is simply a bonus.

And so, in the mundane activities of everyday life, rest all of life’s emotions; the things we so casually take for granted. What we considered useless will be given several more lives, as it rightly should. It’s more than “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” I’m thinking it’s wake up, look around, and try your hardest to make a difference.

In the silence of life, don’t forget to listen.

I wish you peace in your thoughts and actions on this day.

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March On

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Friday, January 19, 2018

One year ago, I left this glorious slice of dystopia that is my sometimes life, and flew home to march with my daughter, along with 99,998 other likeminded folks, at the Portland Women’s March. The raw energy and hope of this experience buoyed me through the past 12 months. Maybe that’s too Pollyanna. In the darkest days of this past year, it did give me some hope. It’s been a dismal year filled with some pretty awful folks doing and saying some extremely hateful things. It was hard to live through and equally hard to rehash. So…….I won’t. We all know what happened, which means that once again, we need to regroup and push on.

I have a longtime friend here at the park that has known me since my teens. I see him occasionally, and each time our paths cross, he tells me something I had no idea that I needed to hear. He was out taking a stroll and I happened to be doing the same, and so we stopped for a chat. He uses a walker, which is not a problem for him, as several years ago his doctor told him he would be wheelchair bound within a year. This was not the direction he had in mind for his life, so he began walking every day. He beat the odds. He does water aerobics several days a week; he walks, and engages with people. He has calm and thoughtful words that he happily shares. He mentioned that the thing he misses most in his life is a sense of purpose. He said, “At this point in my life, my purpose is me, and that is not how I like to live.” I told him that his purpose has simply changed and that he does have purpose. He gives to others. He gives his presence to others EVERY DAY, and that is a blessing to the rest of us. His words and attention to those around him make a difference. I have mentioned that I have a Guardian Angel here at the park. It seems that I also have a map-reader, who would be this particular friend.   In life, one needs someone to assist with the directions and someone to watch over things. I am lucky to have both.

My friend is right. We each need a purpose. Sometimes that is small. Sometimes it’s not so small. Personally, I spend my days caring for my Dad. I don’t speak about that here, but it is pretty much what I do. I miss being of service for the greater good, but life takes us each in unique directions and, if we listen, the path is truly part of our life’s education. You don’t know what you are able to do until you find yourself immersed in the task. This is not to say that I don’t fall into sadness over the smallness that life has taken me, but I have learned that there is a time when you use what you have in a different way.

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So for me, this is not a year to march. This doesn’t mean that I can’t be a part, and herein lies the message of the day: Sometimes we do, and sometimes our part is to make this thing possible for others. I give my deepest and most heartfelt thanks to the half-dozen women who did their part to make marching more possible for one. And to you, dear one, know that you are in our hearts and minds this weekend. We wish you strength, safety, and resolve.

There is a power within our greater collective that will move mountains. It always has.

Resist and persist.

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And The Fun Begins……

 

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

There are a few things that cause stress when you drive an RV. Pulling off to stop for virtually anything, but most specifically the gas station stops, can be a nail biting experience. The Hag is a long gal, and we tow the Jeep for added drama, so a mis-step mandating a do-over, (like backing up) is not an option. We happened to be in just that sort of a situation, half in and half out of a Pilot Station waiting for the dude in front of us, in a U-Haul, to return from his Big Gulp break to fill up and leave, so we could pull in. There was much anxious conversation in the Hag (this means the tension was high) when a woman appeared at the driver’s window and said, “Hey! Just what are you doing?!” Very, very, very fortunately (for all of us Hag dwellers) she is a fellow FOYite and they were behind us, sticking out even farther into the street, with their truck and trailer, waiting for gas. She recognized us and came to say hi! We must be memorable, although I can’t imagine why. They were also heading to the Orange Grove for their final night out before landing at FOY to stay the winter in their fabulous re-conditioned/re-wired/re-plumbed/completely gutted and re-done Spartan travel trailer. (If you’re not sure what a Spartan is, do a little Google search. They are classically cool, hailing from the 30’s to the 50’s.)  We exchanged pleasantries and hugs and said that we’d see them at the Orange Grove.

Due to the fact that we have a rigid park arrival and set-things-up schedule that is particularly unwavering in its execution, and that there were oranges that some felt needed to be picked immediately, we did not roam the park and look them up.

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Delicious oranges.

But…….they did seek us out! THEY FOUND US, AND CAME IN FOR A VISIT! I mention this with grateful surprise, due to the fact that we don’t get a lot of visitors, and I tend to forget how wonderful and needed companionship is. Our lives are fairly solitary, which suits one of the Daisies. The rest of us, out of courtesy and respect, go along with this until our 2-month exile, when we enjoy conversation with the rest of the world (or our little world) on a daily basis. We caught up on life, they left, we went to bed, and Ground Hog’s Day began, once again.

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The last day of the drive to FOY can be the most harrowing. In the past, we have taken I-10 through San Bernardino and Palm Springs. Regardless of the time of day you drive this road, there is a lot of traffic. We have noticed that folks have become less happy to drive from place to place. A drive almost anywhere seems to put you in peril at the hands of the other less patient commuters. With this at the forefront of all our minds, we decided to take another route, which we were told, was ever so slightly longer, but with much less traffic. Our friends from the previous night drive this way and mentioned that they always stop at a little restaurant in Lucerne Valley (Café 247) for lunch.

It is general knowledge that once the wheels on the Hag begin turning, they don’t stop until either the driver has to stop for the call of nature, or we have reached our destination. As we drove this, new to us route, we came upon the aforementioned restaurant. The driver looked over, exclaimed that our friends appeared to be enjoying a lunch break, and he PULLED INTO THE PARKING LOT! This is big news for us. The Daisie group headed into Café 247 and had hamburgers with our FOY friends. It was a treat…..a cook’s treat! The food was good and the company even better.

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This is it.  We ate here.  It was good.

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We saw a Roadrunner outside the restaurant!

And with this, our respite in the desert began. We arrived at FOY, without incident and well fed. Our neighbors and friends happily welcomed us back for another winter’s stay in the land of the sun and retired folks. Linda, from across the street, brought us pulled pork and hamburger buns, (cook’s night off, again) Jan and Bryan, our next door neighbors, brought us donuts from Calipatria, and Dick and Helen, our Oregon friends, brought Dad his favorite donut holes. There were hugs and laughter. This is an isolated place out here in the middle of nowhere, but it’s not a place to be isolated. Surrounded by people who care for each other is a pretty good spot to be, at least for the Daisies.

Peace

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Stella and Dad have assumed their positions.

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Dad, hard at work with his braiding preparation.

 

 

 

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