Saturday, August 28, 2010

Morning musings

     Early bike ride - no fog but the late summer chill was in the air.  I was surprised at how cold my legs were (should have worn sweats, silly woman) but I figured if I rode harder, they would warm up (and eventually they did).  I was also surprised to see grapes.  I am well aware of the vines and the beautiful vine colors but, damn! there are really grapes that hang off the bottom of those vines.  I must have always driven by in a car and been blinded by the leaf colors - so much so that I never saw the grapes!  But there they were this morning.  All gathered in clumps at the base of the leaves.  
     There must be a lesson in that.  Blinded by the show and not noticing the substance, not seeing the product.  Somehow I want to tie that in with the treadmill that has ramped up now that school has started.  My days at work are full and I go go go, failing to breathe, catching every task that is tossed anywhere near me. And then I get home and all I want is solitude and silence.  ZOOOOOOOM - there goes life - she is moving fast!  If you are going to catch up with her, you have to move fast!   I am running out of time with life and is this what I want to be doing?  Going so fast and packing so much into days?  So much so  that I can't breathe?  I imagine that endless summer would be delicious but I think I am also afraid that it would get rotten.  Endless summer is good for the summer but how would it feel in November or February or May?  Is the pleasure of summer in part due to its brevity?  I imagine days when I could get up between 6 and 7 and take the dogs on a walk and futz in the yard and ride my bike and keep my own house clean and make real dinners and read my books and take photographs and paint and write and enjoy walks at the beach with Michael and go up to see Pauline and hang out with Alex in the city or Meg in town or go down to Kev's -- or or or or or.  Sounds just fine to me.
     I told my friend Megan about the zooming sound I hear and about how it is life and how she moves fast.  I said I needed to move fast in order to catch up with her (life).  Megan's answer?  "Or sit still and let her light on your shoulder".  Odd thing is, even though my bike is zooming along, I think I am more still than fast when I am on these morning rides.  Maybe that is one reason they are so appealing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Veritable Knots

      I was trying to put words on the way my neck and shoulder muscles feel this week and two words fell  off my fingertips and into the text message I was writing:  veritable knots.  Of course, my mind went immediately to the painted image of veritable knots.  I can see it on the paper and, at some point within the next few days, I will  get that image (or something close to it) out of my head and onto the paper.  In the meantime, I am living with both the image of the veritable knots as well as with the real thing.  The muscles in my upper back feel so tight that they should be cutting the skin.  But I am still not sure how they make themselves into knots.....
     Maybe it goes like this.  Maybe the tension surrounding life becomes like a lava flow.  It starts forming when the energy gets squeezed out of the body and melts the muscle tissue.   This lava flow keeps moving as long as the body is in the tense moment.  When the body starts to breathe again, the lava flow cools off and becomes those steel shoulder blades.  But every time the tension starts up again, the lava starts moving again but not in a straight line.  In order to get started, it has to twist a bit and every twist helps make the knots tighter.  And this body becomes tied up in a twisted maze of knots that will not be satisfied until she has had a minimum of two weeks of silent warmth and rest.  Sounds like a wonderfully accurate imaginary explanation to me!
      Why the tension?  Getting up too early, keeping the brain in the computer at work, not getting to walk the puppy, not getting to take a nap in the afternoon, not reading, very little writing, scant painting - ugh.
Mostly I can blame the tension on having to go to work again.  Love the job, hate the lava that the treadmill releases.  Maybe what I need to do is paint Veritable Knots and put it in my office so I have a visual to remind me to walk away and breathe once in a while.

PS:  I will put a photo of  Veritable Knots on this post when I get it done!

 Veritable Knots #1   :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bell Springs

     I just returned from a couple of days at the family homestead on Bell Springs Road in Mendocino County.  What a world away from Sebastopol this place is!  I actually grew up in an unincorporated section of eastern Los Angeles County.  My father was a steel worker who got fed up with the his work, his supervisors, and the way the semi rural neighborhood had changed  in the twenty plus years they had lived at that residence.  What had once been a safe, quiet, rural road , populated primarily with elderly neighbors and surrounded by orange groves had transformed into a tough neighborhood that was starting to show signs of serious urban crime.  Where once he had a spectacular garden and raised steers, pigs, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, and children, my dad now had to fear for the safety of his children and his property.  One winter in the mid-1970's, my father found his escape in a twenty acre parcel of undeveloped land, five miles up a dirt road off Hwy 101 between Laytonville and Legget.  It wasn't long before my parents  sold the house on Fellowship Street and began the real pioneer phase of their lives.
     It wasn't just my parents who moved to the primitive but beautiful rural Mendocino County.  Several of my brothers also purchased adjacent twenty acre parcels on Bell Springs Rd and together then have forged a simple and sustainable life in this often harsh country.  After over thirty years of living and developing the land, my parents, my brothers, and their families have become an integral part of the rural community.  Two of my brothers were popular and strong teachers in the Laytonville schools.  Another brother served as counselor and later program director with the Mendocino County Mental Health Department.  All three of these men are also very capable carpenters and builders (one has a contractor's license) and they have, over time, build comfortable and cozy homes for their families.  They have spectacular gardens, with veggies galore and always fresh flowers.  All the families have planted trees, both fruit and shade, and the families together have created a pond.  The pond not only provides water storage but also fire protection and a resting place for migrating birds.
Did I mention that this land was undeveloped?  Specifically, that means that, when purchased, the land had no electricity, no phone, no water system, no graded building sites, no nothing.  One of the first tasks was to get the building sites selected, graded, and a road graded to the sites. Simultaneously, an underground spring needed to be channelled into a useable, gravity fed, water system. Indoor plumbing needed to be put on hold while more immediate concerns were addressed (outdoor privy certainly can work ....).  Although it would eventually be possible to hook into the phone system (this was pre- cell phone days), PG&E would never be putting power lines up here - way too remote.  For years, power was provided by propane, a gas fed generator (used sparingly for many reasons) and candles.  The heat source was (and still is) woodstove.  Later a twelve volt battery system allowed more access or power and, more recently, solar and wind power systems have been developed.  The water system has been refined, reducing the need for the privy and enabling the residents to enjoy hot baths and showers.
     My father died in 1996 but my mother and brothers continue to live off the land.  It is not an easy life as much time and energy goes to sustaining daily life.  Valves for pumping water must be open and shut, firewood must be cut and hauled, brush needs to be kept trimmed (the ever present fire danger is a serious threat),  the pond and the septic tanks must be maintained, snow in the winter brings its own collection of issues, and, of course, gardens are always in need of something.  As much as possible, food that is eaten is produced in the garden and canned for use all year.  Keeping the garden going all year and preserving the veggies is a monumental task.  There is no quick trip to the grocery store to get lettuce for the salad.  It is 18 miles to Laytonville,  which has a grocery store, post office, bank branch, a couple of gas stations, a number of stores that are useful for those living a rural life, and several hamburger type joints.  The larger town of Willits is about an hour's drive and affords more opportunities for errands but, either way, that is a lot of driving.  And, since Bell Springs Road is not paved, the first five miles of the driving is done on a dirt road.  That also means that residents on the road need to make friends with dust.  You will never be able to completely get rid of it for long so embrace it or die trying.
     I  enjoy visiting on Bell Springs Road.  It is a relaxing drive, at least when it is not raining or snowing. No matter what season it is, the hills, vineyards, trees, and small towns along the way provide plenty of eye candy.  The gardens, no matter the season, are inspiring and the land is breath taking.  Sunrise, sunset, and nights are especially notable.  You want to see a star filled sky?  Spend a clear night on Bell Springs Road and you will never be satisfied with the night sky in Sebastopol again.  I deeply admire my parents and my brothers for making the choice to live in such a place.  I don't believe I have what it takes to be happy there - not yet, anyway- but I can be an appreciative and joyful visitor.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Everything Changes (again)

I know, I know, I've done this before but the truth in "everything changes" never ceases to amaze me.  I don't think I really got that idea until maybe 5 or 6 six years ago.  Before that time, I knew it on some level but not enough to really understand and accept it.  And it's not good or bad.  It just is.

                                                            Seasons turn,
                                                            bodies evolve
    and minds change.
   Attitudes adjust,
   families are born and die.
   Health comes and goes.
   So does love.
   Laugher one morning,
   tears the next.
   Awake and asleep,
   cranky and silly,
   alive and dead,
   everything changes.
   That's all that doesn't change.