Friday April 24, 2015

I haven’t meant to be away so long. In my head, I’m here all the time rambling on. Life has taken so many  turns and every time I think to sit and write something I am overwhelmed and like that phone call I mean to return, I keep putting it off and off and off and it grows larger and more difficult to make the call because so much time has passed.

But here I am.

The children have moved and the compound is quiet. Most of the toys are gone from the yard and the house is a shell littered with boxes. I am in the process of wading through a lifetime of “stuff”. Toss, donate or keep. The keep pile is very small since the plan is to sell the house and go on the road in a trailer. I am being ruthless. The few things I can’t part with and can’t take with are going into a couple of bins to be stored in some one’s garage/home/attic.
My once massive wardrobe of beautiful clothes is now down to a very few practical pieces and I expect will be cut even further once we get under way. I may yet adopt some kind of nun’s robes. First I’ll have to invent my religion. It’s on my list of things to do.
The other is to knit a trailer cozy.

I woke up on the cynical jaded side of the bed this morning.

Receiving a chance to win a prepaid cremation from the Neptune Society did not help.

Neither did going to the new market in town. $13 for a jar of tahini. Really? They had some great stuff like ceramic water bottles $30, and a camping stove for $130. A bakery and a deli with delectable looking food. Young, scrubbed fresh looking smiling faces working the counters and old affluent white people shelling out their dough for gluten free, gently farmed, free to roam, organic goods.

The place used to be called the Hamlet. It was an old restaurant with sticky floors and nasty food but they had jazz every Sunday afternoon and there was a spectacular garden made up of giant old and rare cactus. They tore them all out and planted a mostly edible landscape which I think is grand but I also hated because of the tearing out of the old cactus.

See what I mean?

Meanwhile, I made this yesterday.

Turquoise from Afghanistan, red jade and sandalwood beads from a mala the monk gave me. The big amber bead is resin I think. 

 And I came home to this…

My grandson’s Harley festooned with sourgrass.

Slow Landing

I am home safe and mostly sound. I feel as though I have not fully arrived. That Mexico crossing was long and difficult. Over 2 hours to get across the border. Two hours of peddlers selling candies, ices, trinkets of all kinds. After spending every dollar and peso in my bag, I had none to give when the maimed started begging the closer I crept to the border. It was a heartbreaking experience that is still haunting me.

I drove two full days to get home lickety split. My trusty steed did not let me down. I rode it hard. Thank you Helen Hellenbach!

My grand babies are bigger and louder. Mr Chips is talking in sentences and his words are clearer now though there are some we still cannot decipher.  Dear Leader Baby is thinning out and exploring his world but not with the vengeance his brother did. Baby is quieter in nature, a little shy. He is a careful observer.

I am landing here…

and here…

San Felipe Baja California

We’ve been in San Felipe BC for five days. We arrived right in the middle of the San Felipe 250 off road race which meant nothing to me but was a big deal to A LOT of people. Trying to navigate this tiny town’s roads was kind of a nightmare. With 5 vehicles trying to stay together and no phones or maps with which to communicate and navigate, it was only a matter of time before we lost each other and it was nothing short of miraculous that we found each other again among the masses.

Our first night’s camp was in the sandy parking lot of the town’s stadium. We circled the wagons and settled in. Earlier in the day I spotted an interesting vehicle and stopped to chat with the owner who turned out to be, like everyone else around here, Canadian. A. He was accompanied by James and Sarah who had just sailed their boat from Vancouver to Ensenada and had just driven into town to see the race before heading back to Canada. They were great fun. And they shared food. We all crammed into Ted’s groovy Chinook and feasted on crab tacos and clam chowder they’d brought with them from their friends restaurant in Ensenada.  We could not have planned a better introduction to Baja. In the morning they took off to watch the race and some of us went off to find provisions and a more suitable camp.

Turns out we were only a block away from the beach and a perfect camp spot but there were no spots available because of the race! We spent the next night on the street right outside our current camp spot at Rueben’s. A very bare bones, seen better days campo. Still, they have one hot shower, an ocean view and the place to ourselves. The town emptied out like a Tequila bottle after the fiesta. 
Race Day….
After the race…
We’ve settled in.
Breakfast and wifi at Rosita’s on the beach…
we sometimes stay until lunch.
garlic octopus!
then we walk…

then we come back to camp and look out at the water and have a cerveza and talk some more story…
Toby comes by for a rub…
I am wondering why it took me so long to find Baja. 
I’ve gone and left Quartzsite. I spent the last two days looking at rocks. It’s an amazing array of gems and I was so out of my league. This morning I found a vendor that took me by the hand and showed me his “million dollar suitcase” filled with the most astounding strands of opals and garnets and such. He wore a cowboy hat and was smoking a big cigar. He told me how he started cutting stones when he was 17 at some hippy shack in West Virginia. It was more than I could absorb. I bought an Orbicular Jasper pendant that caught my eye and wasn’t too dear.

I paid $1.97 for a gallon of gas on my way out of town. Up 8 cents since yesterday.

I drove 86 miles south to Yuma. Drove through the US Army Yuma proving grounds where Colonel Randy Murray is in command. Of what? I couldn’t say. There were signs everywhere to watch for the wildlife but the only wild things I saw were the Canadians zooming past me on the two lane highway.

I drove straight to Q, the casino right on the border of Arizona, California and Mexico. This is our meet up place. A group of us are crossing the border on Friday and heading to San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez. I don’t think driving 175 miles for a fish taco is too crazy. Do you?

I thought I’d go in and throw $5 at a machine but wound up spending $11 on a martini and watching everyone else gamble instead.

I’m huddled here in the parking lot between hundreds of million dollar rigs! This is THE stopping place for Americans on their way to Algodones Mexico where one can get a million dollar smile for less than half of what it would cost here in the USofA, only 2 or 3 miles from the border. I’m guessing there aren’t too many dentists making big bank in Yuma.

Scenes from Quartzsite…

I moved camp yesterday. My spot was great but it wasn’t terribly level. I didn’t mind it much but the water in the shower wouldn’t drain unless I righted the ship.

I moved closer to Lesa and Evelyn two solo nomads. Evelyn is a retired cowgirl/dog groomer who drives a big old truck with a camper and has a black standard poodle named Charlie.  Lesa is by her fire every morning making cowboy coffee in a big black enamel coffee pot. This morning she had an amazing apple crisp and yesterday she baked bread. On the fire. Yea. She can cure what ails you.

At night there are lots of small fire rings with small groups sitting around them talking story under a star filled sky. Primal.

The free pile continues to be the best place for a nap…

And when camp gets too boring…


The winter rubber tramp rendezvous is in full swing. This morning a small group of us sat meditation. When the starting bell chimed, the first drop of rain fell. It fell for a few more moments and then stopped and then the wind started to blow and then it stopped and the rain started again. It was a beautiful practice. Not only sitting through the weather but the sounds of a camp coming to life was, to me, a perfect opportunity to practice being present and not attached. It all comes and goes no need to do anything but watch.
And then do the laundry.
Drove the 6 or 7 miles to the laundromat where you can also have a shower and eat breakfast whilst your clothes become clean for around $3 and where you can listen to conversations about 6 volt vs 12 volt batteries for you rig. I rode my bike around town for a bit but hurried back to camp after stocking up on water and ice. There are seminars every morning and organized (and unorganized) get togethers. Tonight was a very well organized chili dinner. Everyone brought something to add to the pots of beef, vegetarian and vegan(?) chili.
Thanks to Justin from Salt Lake City, I now have a solar panel installed on the top of my little Helen connected to an inverter which is connected to a battery which connects me to….the world! Out here in the middle of NOWHERE, I have water, heat, and electricity! And a tribe.
And chocolate.

I do not cease swimming in the seas of love,
rising with the wave, then descending;
now the wave sustains me, and then I sink beneath it;
love bears me away where there is no longer any shore.

Al Hallaj

Mantras for Precarious Times

Deva Premal

A miraculous cure for a cranky baby. He lays in his bouncy chair staring out the french doors, eyes at half mast. Thank you Pandora for Tibetan Chant Radio.

Little Dog curled into a donut on the sofa.

Little boy playing with his dinosaurs in the dirt.

Yes. There is a new member of the tribe. His name is Bruce. Bruce Wayne.

Es muy guapo. 
The kids are teasing because I’ve bought him a couple of things, one of which is a sweater. It has skulls on it for dog’s sake! They are worried I’ll turn into an old lady with too many cats. And rightly so.

French Chocolates

If you have your health, you have everything
is something that’s said to cheer you up
when you come home early and find your lover
arched over a stranger in a scarlet thong.

Or it could be you lose your job at Happy Nails
because you can’t stop smudging the stars
on those ten teeny American flags.

I don’t begrudge you your extravagant vitality.
May it blossom like a cherry tree. May the petals
of your cardiovascular excellence
and the accordion polka of your lungs
sweeten the mornings of your loneliness.

But for the ill, for you with nerves that fire
like a rusted-out burner on an old barbecue,
with bones brittle as spun sugar,
with a migraine hammering like a blacksmith

in the flaming forge of your skull,
may you be spared from friends who say,
God doesn’t give you more than you can handle
and ask what gifts being sick has brought you.

May they just keep their mouths shut
and give you French chocolates and daffodils
and maybe a small, original Matisse,
say, Open Window, Collioure, so you can look out
at the boats floating on the dappled pink water.

Ellen Bass

weekend update Oct 2014

I’m back from my shakedown cruise to the lake.  Our new bug out vehicle, which I’ve named Helen, performed admirably. She’s steady and sure and cozy. I had one big wrinkle which drove me home earlier than I would have liked but I knew it was not a big deal and that Tearful would “fix it” and he did. He’s an enlightened genius.

I picked the lake for this trip because it’s close and I’d been before and loved it. The town of Lake Isabella itself is kind of a sad little place. Not much to it beyond the gas stations and the Vons, a funeral parlor in a strip mall.  The draw for me was the free camping along the lake. There were a few other RVs and the weather was lovely but like last time, the wind at night was crazy go nuts. I felt like I was on a small sail boat being tossed by waves all night long.
Sometime in the middle of the night a man started shouting a name I couldn’t quite make out but I did make out that he was calling him a child molester. It went on for a while and I finally fell back to sleep and dreamed I woke up and there was a circus setting up right outside my windows. I think I’m over camping at this particular spot.

I do love the spots I found all along the Kern River, north of the lake and a hot springs, just south of it. There’s a little town, Kernville, where I stopped in for breakfast at the Big Blue Bear cafe. Had one of the tastiest breakfast burritos I’ve ever had and stopped to watch old ladies rockin’ out on banjos at the car show.

How can you not love a place that has rooms to rent above the saloon?

My Baby Girl Got Married

Under the oak trees at her Grandfather’s house.

She was a gorgeous bride.
It was a glorious day.
All went well.
Tearful walked her up the aisle…

Mom fussed at her dress…

We are recovering after all the festivities. Big smiles on our faces. Grateful for the many blessings bestowed upon us.