Setting the intention

I began today with a little yoga.

Scratch that. (Yes, I did do yoga, but…) I woke up late, to the strident sounds of the geriatric felines, yowling for breakfast and crying in blind confusion like a fussy infant, respectively. My head was fuzzy and I felt like I was being pried from a glorious dream world. I went to bed just a little too late last night, after knitting and baking most of the evening, and drinking just a touch too much wine. Knitting and alcohol are an odd couple, but somehow they seem meant to go hand in hand.

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Be Where Now?

The final weeks of the calendar year offer an easy excuse for nostalgia, although I sometimes think I’m plagued by perpetual nostalgia, to a point where I sometimes refer to myself as a nostalgiac, or perhaps  nostalgiaholic. Or maybe, barring a bunch of silly neologism and thinly disparaging labels, it’s just a lot of unrealized dreams and sometimes plain and simple regrets tinged with wistful longing.

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Navel gazing and wanderlust in harsh climates

I don’t understand this soul-searching, ‘find yourself’ thing that your generation does. When I was your age, I had to find a career path and a job quickly, to make money and to support my family. That was the choice. I just had to do it.

I can still hear with perfect clarity the inflection and words of Ben, my friend and co-worker, a retiree who ran field drops (also known as Backup) of water and supplies for the groups of kids and staff  at my wilderness therapy job in the high desert hinterlands of northeastern Utah. Before his time in this position, something he did more for the social contact than any kind of necessary supplemental income, Ben had lived another life a world away, as a successful businessman in foreign cities and distant lands. Prior to that, he had been in the military, doing much the same. At one point in the midst of all that, he lost both his wife and his daughter in a tragic car accident. He never seemed bitter or marred by the experience, merely reflective and always just a little sad, though possibly gentler, with a steely reserve and an undeniable, unflappable ethic. He always treated me with a fatherly kindness, tempered by gentle ribbing and sarcasm applied at the moments when I took myself too seriously or allowed the actions of others to puncture my all too transparently thin skin. All of this was balanced by a decent amount of “now, listen here” tough love.

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Sweet mountain home

If this blog was a Gigapet (remember those? I never had one, to be fair, so I only slightly remember them) it would be whining in my pocket, begging for virtual food. Come to think of it, did Gigapets even do that? I don’t remember them very well. At any rate, I’ll try to feed ‘er more often. On that note, I am looking to set a few necessary and achievable goals, namely with writing, and updating this blog falls in there somewhere. I know probably absolutely no one reads this, but it’s an exercise in allowing others to read my writing. Or at least toy with the idea that more than just a lean number of folks possibly maybe might be (again, not very likely, since I am currently unwilling to bring it out of the virtual closet). One of the goals I have is to start a writing group or book club, since I’m finding my desire for intellectual stimulation sorely unfulfilled hereabouts much of the time. Hmmm… I’ve never been a part of one, so I don’t even really know what that entails, apart from choosing and then reading a book and then coming together to talk about it/eat/drink wine with friends at the end of the month. But mostly eating and drinking wine, right? Also, friends – enough of them – who want to show up and who want to be involved. Hrm, that part can be challenging around here. Actually, those are probably the main barriers.

I didn’t come here to talk about goals at the moment though. Or eating and drinking. (Wait, scratch that last one. Yes I did) Or pets, virtual or real. That can wait for another time. Let’s take a break from the heavy for a moment, mmm? Continue reading “Sweet mountain home”

By the light of the full moon

Tonight, after enjoying a late dinner at Lauren’s, I meandered solo through Boonville by the light of the full moon. No pulling, wagging, sniffing, weaving dogs. No tall, pensive boyfriend. No other accompaniment but my own rusty thoughts. The former were at home, guarding the flock so to speak. The latter had made his way to San Francisco for the evening, for a baseball game, skipping town with a friend, and to briefly escape increasingly tiresome obligations. I can see the moon smiling in the sky, warm and glowing, but as far away as nobody’s friend.

The Farmer’s Almanac listed tonight’s as the Sturgeon Moon. Maybe Sturgeon breed under this one, or are ripe for the plucking and the roasting. I don’t know much about Sturgeon, I’m not even sure they populate Mendocino’s waters, and I’m not much aware of their preferred locale. And I’m only vaguely familiar with the Pink, Harvest, and Wolf Moons, as full moons go. I never really make it a point to remember which is when, only having the idea that one is at some point during the spring, one is in autumn, and one is in winter, but I savor their names no less, as if they speak of a time and a world that is not quite lost, but hiding just beyond the mountain’s shadow. I keep telling myself I’ll make it a point to learn all of the names of the various full moons, or at least find out the significance of the less obvious ones. I never seem to get around to it. I suppose I like the idea of it, more than I do that of memorizing something just right of esoteric, and for the sake of what? One day when I am on Jeopardy? Maybe to pull out by the camp fire or just because it’s interesting and comforting to know a little something about how the world once was, when time was measured differently, and when the pace of days was not counted digitally with measured hours but only by the lengthening of shadows and the movements of astral figures across the sky.

As is usual after 9 o’clock, especially midweek, and even at the height of tourist season, town was quietly peaceful, low on any sign of outdoor happenings involving townsfolk, despite the breezy reward offered by a cool evening following a day that crept up just shy of 100. I could see into a few of the houses that sit just back from the road by the post office. Doors were flung open to let in the cool air, and living rooms looked inviting and homey. The observer (or voyeur. Take your pick) in me is always delighted to peep into others’ houses at night. I think partly because I enjoy the doll house view of their lives, as if it all were so simple and neat. Of course it is when you do not know the people or the story. But even the shabbiest of houses can look truly lovely and decidedly cozy in the pinkish-orange glow of a lamp, shining through to the outsider. There is a simple beautifying effect certain light has on humbler places, like an easy, instant face lift that seems to level the playing field, if just momentarily.

Through the door of the house to the north side of 128, I could see a cow’s skull with both horns in tact, set against an adobe colored wall. In the south side house, a buck’s head adorned by an impressive rack hung in front of a grayish blue wallpaper. Both struck me as equally beautiful, strange, and repulsive all at once. The skull in particular seemed almost totemic, a found object that is both horrifying and starkly gorgeous, preserved in its stymied state of decay.

Heading west through town, a handful of cars passed me by, intermittently rumbling on through the sighing night, winding away from the stoic redwoods and glistening grape vines, slowly untangling the roads back to the city; at least, back to more populous places presumably, or maybe just beyond my sight and hearing to a different unpaved lane, to some cabin or mansion, tucked beyond the recesses of a pile of hills.

The closed shops were gently illuminated by string lights and the few street lamps dotting the main strip of 128. The  letters O-P-E-N ascended into visibility in front of The Buckhorn, and caught the corner of my eye as I passed. Even something so small and inconsequential as a neon sign can seem like a major upgrade for such a tiny town. “You are here! You have arrived!” the signs seem to shout to the passing cars.

By the ice cream shop, I could make out the shadowy figure of a tiny cat, silently, cautiously watching me from the shadows, as still as a little statue; black as pitch and motionless, I had to squint to make sure I wasn’t imagining its familiar shape. Its head turned. I approached it, slowly calling out to the little one, hoping to have encountered an unexpected friend, but it fled and disappeared under the fence as I moved forward. I shrugged and walked on, glancing upward to see a shooting star, my first sighting of the Leonids. It seemed fitting, since today is my father’s 66th birthday. Two teenage girls wandered past me, murmuring to each other in Spanish. The Art Deco inspired sign above the Saloon blinked at me as I wandered on, turning the engine of my car and driving on to wind my way back up into the hills above town.