750words March 23 2015 ~ Sol y Mar = Sun and Sea

A few days ago I talked a neighbor into going over to the place where I’ll be living in about five weeks. The address is Sol y Mar #3001.

Sol y Mar = Sun and Sea. It’s all that.

The current tenant, floppy curls windblown every once in a while to dance over his eyes, was friendly enough as he answered questions and pushed gray-streaked ringlets away from his line of vision.

I asked about the path to the playa below the house. “You think a woman my age can handle it?”

A middle-aged surfer, he said, “Do this,” and lowered himself to squat, arms extended.

I was down in a heartbeat, arms extended.

“Yeah. You can handle it,” he said, turning toward the arched door separating his place and the neighbors on the south. Lucky for me—his quick turn away from my squatted response to his directive—because some serious wobbles took place as I stood to follow him through the gate. Rather than offering a hand, my neighbor smirked as I wobbled, then seemed a little surprised I made it up without using my hands to push off the flagstone.

“How’s surfing here?” I asked. I’d already mentioned kids and grandkids who surfed.

“For long boarders, it’s a little piece of heaven. K38 is probably better for short boards, guys who really know their stuff.”

Then we were through the gate, passing between the neighbor’s back patio area and the edge of the bluff above the ocean, stopping at a low fence built from wrought iron window-guard scraps and broken plywood. Maybe a bit over two feet tall, and lower on the bluff edge end—the fence was haphazard at best.

“There are two ways to cross. Some of us step over here—were the fence is low,” he said, standing at the edge of the bluff. He demonstrated. On that end the fence was only fourteen or fifteen inches high; between where he stood and a free-fall of a hundred feet or more (probably more) to the playa below—there wasn’t much room for error. A wobble, coupled with a toe tripped up by the fencing, would not be a good thing.

Maybe he noticed the tilt of my head, the doubtful squint of an examining eye, or the smile I wore—one of those smiles that said, “Not a bluebird’s chance in hell.” Whatever the cause, he moved away from the edge toward the opposite end of the fence and said, “Or, you can pull this open here, and wedge through.”

“Here” was nine or twelve feet away from the fence’s low end (and the precipice). “Here” pieces of ironwork and plywood leaned against a post and could be heaved away, allowing sideways (if not frontal) passage. We sidestepped through, walked on barren ground, and approached an outdoor “living” area replete with two easy chairs scavenged from the side of the road or left near a dumpster for anyone who might find them of continued value. Random surfers frequent this spot; one said “Hi, folks” from the open side doors of his van as we passed. He looked as if he’d been napping, sleeping bag hanging loose from the van’s cargo area to kiss the ground. I pictured him kicked back in one of the easy chairs, feet planted on an overturned bucket used as an ottoman, wood blazing in the makeshift fire pit, gazing toward the horizon, watching the sets come in from this high bluff at the edge of the sea.

From there, we stepped sideways down a slopping trail to steeper terrain with shallow steps cut into the earth, curved right and came to a drop where three steps had been chiseled from the shale, dropped to our fannies to reach footing on the highest cut-in step, and continued to the sandy bottom with the next two steps.

The tenant, already several yards ahead, said something along the lines of, “Little piece of heaven,” and I said something like, “Big piece of heaven if you ask me.” Looking north or south, I found nothing but beauty. Beautiful boulders, shimmering water, stretches of clean sand without a single footprint other than those left by the birds.

Cinnamon colored long-legged birds with long needle-like beaks high-stepped through low-tide shallows, seagulls soared air currents overhead, anemones lined the faces of tide pools, and sand-stone formations offered nature-sculpted places to sit and take it all in.

“From here,” the tenant said, “at low tide you can walk as far north as Las Gaviotas or south as far as Puerto Nuevo.”

I looked at my neighbor. “Las Gaviotas? That means I can walk to Rancho Santini by cutting up from the beach there. If low tide’s early enough, I can still walk to Jo’s for morning coffee!” He gave me the smile, the one that says, “Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen.”

I’m thinkin’ it will. I’m thinkin’ “Fooled you when I stood up without using my hands. That walk’s gonna happen.” All I have to do is get past those easy chairs up on the bluff before I sit myself down and put my feet up to take it all in …

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20 October 2008 and Irene in White Tights at the Green Gate

The enclosure around my patio, the patio with turquoise green fence and gate on one end too high to see over, also includes a two story stucco wall the color of green olives, a one story stucco wall that is white, and the back wall of mi casita with its iron barred door on steel wheels with a lock and its sliding glass door that opposes every effort to slide for every inch it is slid.  I mention this to give readers a sense of where it is that I pace between paragraphs added to Irene’s saga.  I have sixteen feet more or less to walk up and down with the olive wall on my right, then my left, alternately going towards the turquoise gate or the one-story white.  After a while, I duck back inside through the sliding glass door opening, an opening seldom closed for the reasons mentioned above, and sit again at my chunky table in my chunky chair and add more chunky moments to the threads of moments I have tried to weave around the body of Irene. 

For more than two years I have tried to clothe that girl, that woman.  She is, no fault of her own, a difficult woman to dress in time and circumstance.   I no sooner force her head through a neckline of needs she never asked for and does not like, than she’s stripped them clean off and run naked into the surf.  Like any good, or halfway good caretaker should do, I pick up her discards, shake them out, fold them neatly and wait for her dripping return. 

While waiting, I pace those sixteen back and forth feet between the green gate and the white wall.  Sometimes, as now, I open a bottled cerveza to ease my tattered patience, help me recall a tender fondness of this woman/child/dare-devil/heroine of a time and place as distant from Rosarito, Baja in 2008 as Jupiter is from the moon.  It is good, this cerveza.  And the paces I take.  And, every now and again, the words chunked together begin to hold a little shape.

Chunky table and chunky chairs with roses from Carol and Trevor

Chunky table and chunky chairs with roses from Carol and Trevor

12 October 2008 : Dinner Served

I could not cook myself and so I served soup and the table was beautiful.  My favorite plate was the square white one with the blue rooster and the green Mexican limes halved and the yellow lemons halved and the red radishes whole.  It was a festival unto itself.  The soup was as good as expected.  The chopped cilantro was pretty in the red bowl; the chopped onions were pretty in theirs.  There was great wine, a red, from Joel.  There was a great lemon soufflé pie JoAnn brought.  Alice and Enrique also brought a red from Gainey Ranch in Santa Ynez.  There were wonderful jokes, mostly ethnic: Mexican ones told by Enrique and Jewish ones told by JoAnn and Alice.  I don’t know about JoAnn, but Alice is of Jewish ancestry and when she speaks the speak, it is so right on … We all laughed.  I told no jokes.  Just enjoyed. 

            Before they all arrived, I used the green handled pocketknife to scratch “Lynn” into the tabletop.  Before the evening was gone, my guests had all done the same.  One day it will, if I am lucky, be filled with the initials and names of people welcomed to my table.

13 October 2008

Today I drove south six miles, or ten, on Blvd. Benito Juarez to the bierriea where the kind and exasperated man let me leave yesterday without paying in full for a tall pot of their soup.  The pot cost more than expected at Commercial Mexicana and I hoped the 180 pesos leftover would be enough for the servings requested.  It was not.  I went to my car and searched every nook and cranny, dumped my purse and my pocketbook, came up with all the nickels and dimes I could find.  I was still a dollar short.  He waved me off, shaking his head, and I took the pot of bierriea (I am certain I’ve misspelled the name for this wonderful stew) along with the two baggies full of radishes, halved limones, chopped cilantro, finely chopped cebellos, and hot chili sauce.  I had five people coming to dinner and didn’t have all the tools to cook a proper meal for them.  What kind of crazy loco woman am I, to invite five people to dinner without the means to feed them? 

            I took the tall pot of soup, the best beef in the best beef broth you could ever want to taste, and put all in my $25,000 red Prius while he shook his head and watched me back out and drive away.  “Poor gringa” he must’ve thought.  “Poor foolish gringa.”

            When I drove south today I did not find the same men working behind the counter.  I was sorry not to find them.  I wanted him, the one who shook his head at my predicament and counted my change out over and over only to find me short, to know I was true to my word, that I had come back to make it right, even though I am sure he did not understand a word I said.  Still, I put 50 pesos in the little box on the counter for propinas.  Perhaps one of the others told him about the loco lady in the red car who paid so much but took no soup, no service.

Made of Yarn

On November 13 of last year I dreamed I was made of yarn.  At first [and again later on] I was a blue skein with a paper explaining my contents – 65% wool and 50% cotton and 20% silk and there were too many components, too many.  I was sometimes loose and unmade in my wrapper of explanations; sometimes crocheted too tight.  Once I was knitted perfectly, perfectly, and, watching myself in the dream, I wanted the pattern for that perfection so that when I wore through and a break began to unravel I could pick up the lost stitches and make myself perfectly whole, recycle me once more. 

This was a good dream, this yarn dream. 

Now it’s 2008, already half way through the first month.  I haven’t had any bad dreams in a while.  The bad dreams are the ones when my finger joints are too swollen to bend and I can’t hold the needles, can’t hold the hook, when my eyes are blue white with cataracts and I can’t see the holes in the weave, can’t see them to fix, only feel them with fingers that no longer bend.  No.  I haven’t had any of those in a while.

“I would give up anjou pears for you”

Just read an opening line on a poem in the Crab Orchard Review that went something like “I would give up anjou pears for you” — That’s not the whole line, or probably even quoted exactly right [pg. 99, Ruth Ellen Kocher, vol. 11, no. 1 if interested] but it made me think about the “you” folks sometimes have in their lives and if I have a “you” just now–someone I would give up anjou pears for.  I would give up anjou pears for my newest grandson, for any of my three grandsons.  I would give up navel oranges for my granddaughters and apricots, I would give up apricots for my friend, Bonnie Jean.  I would give up butterflies for . . . uh oh, uh oh.  I don’t think I could give up butterflies.  Not just yet.  I can’t think who would ask me to give them up, at least and especially for the sole purpose of writing a line or two in a journal entry.  To write I’d give up anjou pears or fruit of whatever faith is one thing.  I mean, how much bad karma can come from such a note?  But to write I’d give up butterflies, that’s another.  That’s giving up a lot of wings, a lot of colors, a lot of flight, a lot of dust on those wings, a lot of legs, antennae, trips, dips, nectar exchanges, blooms, cocoons.

Back to the fruit:  I would give up green apples for a new cat I could love like my old one, Kate.  I would give up Haas avocados for a canary who could and would clean his own cage and keep the cage door open, always.  I would give up Sunday meatloaf for a year for three weeks of gentle rain, the kind that can soak in and not erode what’s left of banks.  I would sacrifice my most embroidered, patched, repatched, mended, worn, and worn again blue jeans for the spotted fawn that hung itself on the hogwire fence to have another chance, another jump to make when older. 

good dream/bad dream

On November 13 of last year I dreamed I was made of yarn.  At first [and again later on] I was a blue skein of yarn with a paper explaining my contents – 65% wool and 50% cotton and 20% silk and there were too many components, too many.  I was sometimes loose and unmade in my wrapper of explanations; sometimes crocheted too tight.  Once I was knitted perfectly, perfectly, and watching myself in the dream I wanted the pattern for that perfection so that when I wore through and a break began to unravel I could pick up the lost stitches and make myself perfectly whole, recycle me once more.

 

This was a good dream, this yarn dream. 

Now, fifteen days into 2008, carpel tunnel syndrome kicked in due to crochet abuse, the bad dreams are the ones when my finger joints are too swollen to bend and I can’t hold the needles, can’t hold the hook, when my eyes are blue white with cataracts and I can’t see the holes in the weave, can’t see them to fix, only feel them with fingers that no longer bend.