Los Angeleno by birth, Northwesterner by choice, Second-hander by nature. Librarian, housebound chef, father, and lowly subject ruled over by the needs and whims of a very old house. Partial to Mexican, Italian and Vietnamese cookery but will eat damn near anything. Collector of many strange things..the result is chaos and anarchy and a very pleasant place to live. There is pleasure in accumulation, not just "collecting": music, books and film, in all their multi-formated glory. Outsider artists and those kinds of prints you would recognize if you took liberal studies classes in college. Cooking implements and gadgets for recipes still untried or those ventured. Glasses for most types of libations. Flowers in the garden, herbs in the pot. It's a life of the senses and a good home life reflects that. Walking helps take in all the rest. Requires no special equipment, opens up the pores, brightens the taste buds, clears the decks for further adventures, puts on the miles, widens the eyes and helps fuel the imagination.
Live boldly, play graciously and love with all your heart knowing that true love comes only once or twice in this lifetime. Speaking of which..donde estas, Empress of my Heart?
"Lack imagination and miss the better story" Yann Martel
"Life is a great adventure and I want to say to you, accept it in such spirit. I want to see you face it ready to do the best that lies in you to win out. To go down without complaining and abiding by the result....the worst of all fears is the fear ofliving." Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
"Not I - not anyone else, can travel that road for you You must travel it for yourself" Walt Whitman
And above all, friends should possess the rare gift of sitting. They should be able, no, eager, to sit for hours-three, four, six-over a meal of soup and wine and cheese, as well as one of twenty fabulous courses.
Then, with good friends of such attributes, and good food on the board, and good wine in the pitcher, we may well ask,
Ex-railroad man, homeless guy and library patron. He loved Westerns, biscuits and gravy, his cigarettes and old cars. More than anything, he loved to laugh. Laughing wasn't always easy to do, but he laughed alot. Dammit, Patrick, you're going to be missed.
Tonight tonight I will be out studying the effects of this year's Supermoon, an effect that happens when the moon is in perigee, closest to, planet Earth as it makes it's way around and through the celestial year. My Esteemed Companion has a women's group that meets once a month, in time for and in celebration of the full moon cycle. She called me late last night, filled with a sort of wild, joyous lunar energy, telling me her tale of how grand it was to be out and about with her friends, deep in a country night, howling along with the local coyotes up in the hills. I couldn't talk much about the moon here on the coast as we had a heavy, misty cloud cover kind of night. But I was able to live vicariously through her observations, through her activities and for that I was glad.
In so many ways we are disconnected from the bigger things of life when we step back or ignore the cycles of this wonderful planet of ours. Moving away from a large city existence to a that of a smaller, rural town has helped reshape my world view, has helped to promote a belated but always welcome paradigm shift. When your world is always co-opted and directed by rampant consumerism you find that your "seasonal" calendar is shaped by commercial and political holidays and their respective sales, not by pagan rituals, holy days and the seasons that helped spawn them. Being here on the Mendo coast I am always in awe of what raw nature brings into my life. It may be subtle, in the way that the sun sets way to the north this time of year or overt as when the temps rise over the mountains in the east and it makes for soft, foggy days here on the coast. I now have experienced a full calendar year here, have learned to see and appreciate what seasons are like here on the coast. Our lives on the Mendocino coast can be damp or breezy, exquisitely sunny or morosely overcast, but always temperate thanks to that incredible heat sink we have in the form of the Pacific ocean right outside our door.
I think of my good friend there in the Round Valley and know that her take on the coming and going of the seasons is different but still remarkably the same. We are blessed to be living in worlds that are surrounded by nature, in places where crops and cycles are king and hold trump over cyclical sales and promotional events. I love how, when I visit her at her barn pole house, that her abode, high and above the surrounding hay fields, feels a lot like my place here near the ocean. Standing there on her porch, looking out over the fields in the late afternoon sun, reminds me oh so much of the sea, the gentle hands of wind blowing through the grasses, setting them in motion in a delightful kind of soft wave effect. The bird song may be different but the birds there, like their brethren here on the coast, are active, alive and forever busy. The hills and mountains that I see off to the West are not unlike what I see off in my eastern horizon. In fact, we share those coastal ranges , a sort of common boundary, a kind of high pass that keeps our seasons, our passions, forever stirred up, and, in the end, in check.
The Supermoon is arriving this evening. Maybe I can drive a bit, find a place in the mountains that will allow me to witness this phenomena, without the protective cloud cover the keeps this place in the general range of 60 degrees. Maybe I can find a place this evening that will let me witness this event, and, if I'm lucky, have a few coyotes around to howl with, too.
We all can use a good bit of howling now and again!
Every time I get to that point where I am asking myself "what cool new thing could possibly happen next?" then something nifty and wonderful comes up and takes me down an unexpected path of delight. This time it was the gift of the moment, a wonderment in the form of a couple of bikes, a sunny late afternoon, a bit of time to burn and a boy to wear down a bit before stories and bed time.
I'm always amazed how the small gods interact with us mere mortals, take our expectations and turn them on their ear. It had already been a good day, a busman's holiday kind of day filled with book buying, library visits and comrade support. It was made better by a light and savory meal thrown together on the fly, a warm day in the Valley and an evening's agenda that pretty much was wide open. But a bike ride was something that neither my Esteemed Companion nor I saw coming. A walk, definitely. A trip down the drive to check on a neighbor's garden for marauding pigs, certainly. But a bike ride? It was the peeking into the shed, seeing the tandem bike just sitting there, that set that little man's imagination ablaze.
So, bike riding it was, the three of us meandering down a country lane to a tired, algae packed creek in the crisp late part of a day. We had plenty of light, practically no traffic and a lane that rivaled anything a big city bike path could have ever thought to throw our way. And while the sun went down a bit earlier behind the mountain than was expected the twilight still got us home well before the mosquitos ever thought to look for us.
It was all good. Somehow a bike ride, with all it's requisite bumps and races and different muscles to explore, is a grand alternative to the walks I take almost every day. Seeing the land from two wheels, or rather, three counting the tandem, was a delight. We covered far more ground than we would have otherwise, we got in something new that now can be seem as a regular kind of joint venture and exercise for us all but more it let us see that our days, sometimes in line to be one way, can be pulled in another and be a really cool thing., indeed.
Here's to serendipity, to boyish joy and to play that comes oh so naturally to this little group of ours!
Ah, tent camping! And while it wasn’t the kind of tent that a traveling circus or a film festival might find a home in it was still a home for all three of us that evening. And such a grand evening it was!
My Esteemed Companion, her boy and I took up residence for a night at Russian Gulch State Park. We were wondering, when we rolled up, if were even going to be able to get a space at all but the small gods of camping and children were about and passed along an offering of last minute cancellations. We found a space that suited us…clean, wide, with a rain canopy of short and inviting trees…all that we could have asked for and more for a first time out experience.
I always thrill to the setting up of camp, as it's always a challenge, always a wonderment to behold once it's up and operational. To go from an rustic empty space with a cold fire ring and a picnic bench to a full out inviting, warm and cozy outdoor abode is an amazing process. Coming into the campground that evening I was amazed to see so many new and interesting kinds of equipment about. I haven’t been on a camp out in quite a while so I haven’t been keeping up on the latest in outdoor technology. I suppose that it didn’t matter much, being old school, for we had all that we needed. Besides dry fire wood, a stove, a source of light after hours, a cooler of full of food, a water tight tent and a bevy of sleeping bags, what more can a person ask for?
Years ago I used to go desert camping with my father. He would bring me along to hang out with his motorcycle buddies who always came along well tricked out with RVs and trailers in tow. He, instead, would load up a cooler full of beer, a package of racetrack steaks, throw his motorcycle on top of the truck bed, then, almost as afterthought, swing by and pick me up, too. Now that was rustic! There is nothing quite like sleeping on a hard plywood bed under the stars next to a noisy encampment full of wild motorheads, soaking in a high desert night time cold that seemed to always find its way through my US government surplus bag.
Still, of all my camping memories it had to be one of the best for it was without expectation, only discovery and joy.
This past weekend was an awful lot like that, too. It came packed to the brim with wild boyish wonder, with a bag of full of corn that turned magically into tent stakes and then back into corn again, with a trek to the sea shore that found us wading through a creek bed back to camp only to find out afterwards, wet shoes and all, that there was a trail with a bridge down to the water after all. We ate well, slept well, coped with the chill and the rain like true champions, took advantage of the after hours quiet time to revel before the fire without all the extraneous noise and found out that a good solid flashlight is really the best tool around to navigate to the restrooms after dark.
It was good fun, plain old fashioned sweet and wonderful fun. We didn’t need the latest in outdoor gear, we didn’t need to have gourmet food in the cooler, we certainly didn’t need a gas generator, an RV full of goodies, a boom box or a GPS device to find our way to happiness. We took ourselves down the shore, found our tentish selves full of hope and promise and lived up to that promise by sharing with each other a lot of mirth, merriment and glee.
Now, what more do you need on a camp out than that?
Tonight after closing I am going beach camping with my Esteemed Companion and her boy. The weather, which is always iffy here on the coast, changed over from sunny, bright and warm to a funky grey haze, complete with mist and an unknown kind of outlook. But as my coworker said, if you have a tent, what's the problem? Everyone should have a go at camping in the rain. And go we will.
Have you ever had a wild stroke of luck happen to you? Something that came about out of thin air, something completely unexpected, something filled with sweet grace notes, somehow topping the "oh my god" meter? Somehow, something I did along the way handed me a mighty fine and lucky ticket to this grand show I am working with here. But more somehow I have been gifted with people who care, who let me know, almost on a daily basis, that my being here is one to the best things that ever happened.
Somehow I think that I am beginning to believe it. At first I thought it was just hard work leading the way, but then I stepped back and realized it was more than hard work, going out and making connections, seeking out the mysteries of the community and making those mysteries mine as well. It seems to be that in the giving you get back, not just what you put into it but much, much more. Somehow in all my wanderings, in all my years of dealing with folk, in all my years in the industry, I haven't caught on to the message, or it was missed somehow, or somehow it was tucked away, like a small gift under the tree, waiting for me to find it amongst the litter of wrap and bows. I found it here, after years of travel, after a lot of thought, angst and indecision. I think in the settling, in the giving over, in the surrender, the decision to be here that gift popped up out of the blue and said to me "here it is, the answer to all the questions you've been waiting for".
Simple answer, truly.
Live a simple life. Be genuine. Love without strings. Give and know that your heart, hard work and efforts will be rewarded.
It's all good.
Let it rain for I am happy! Let's go play in the surf for I am already swept away!
It doesn't seem quite right to drop a set of resolutions right into the middle of the year. Well, technically it isn't quite at the half way point but you get my drift: I should have posted this ages ago. So much has changed since the end of December, so much life has been lived, so many lines in the sand drawn, washed out by the tide, immortalized or blown away by the winds that frequently buffet these Northern Californian shores.
I guess I should be happy that I didn't scribble anything down back there at the end of the previous year. I still was getting my bearings, finding my way, looking for answers, turning over rocks. Somehow, in the intervening months I have found a sort of clarity that only comes from making hard decisions, from making really tough choices, from tears and sweat and laughter in abundance. I think that many signals have been made clear, that the skies, once clouded, have opened up, let the star shine through. I have sat in the rain, the cold, watched the fog roll in, walked cliffs towering up to the sky, looked out over ocean and looked for the swells that started somewhere off the shores of Japan. I have been looking hard here since I've arrived, looking hard for answers, trying my best to unload old habits, look for good ones that would somehow revitalize this old soul and I think, after almost twelve months of hard searching, of a goodly amount of wine, of establishing a great work place, of making community, that I am ready to say, here I am, this is where I want to be, this is where, for now, until my heart and soul tell me otherwise, I'll stay..
55. That is a lot of resolutions. Maybe we can look at that word a bit. Maybe I shouldn't say "these are the things I want to do, fix, change". I've been doing plenty of that. Maybe when you come into something like this midway into the year you can look at dreams, wishes, want lists instead. Maybe, just maybe, I can chalk this up to what I want to be, where I want to go, what I wish to see in myself, in others. Instead of selfishly making up a list that will fall apart by the time the aspirins wear off on New Years Day, maybe I should make a list that will inspire not only me but my kids, my work mates, my esteemed one. Lead us towards something grand, light, beautiful. Maybe it's all to Zen but I think more anything that right now anything is possible.
Things to do!
1. Never forget to smile!
2. Wake early and put the gift of the day to good use.
3. Write one good letter a day.
4. Set an example and get to work early.
5. Be present.
7. Learn a new skill that adds meaning and interest to your life.
8. Swim lessons so I can swim with the kids, with the Esteemed Companion but more so I can learn to sail.
9. Work on one good new recipe a week.
10. Learn what there is to know about a gluten free cooking, not only for my own knowledge but so I can take care of my Esteemed Companion as well as she takes care of me..
11.Drink a cup or two of green tea every day.
12. Road trips to Idaho to see the kids at least twice a year, more if possible.
13. Read all those books that come to me via book groups and be ready to talk about them meaningfully.
14. Put on a good face in the face of all those things that are unpleasant and not so much fun to deal with.
15. Walk, no matter what, no matter how far, each and every day.
16. Get a complete physical.
17. Ditto on a new set of glasses.
18 Find a new dentist.
19. Take trips to San Francisco for things other than business.
20. The passport: get it done now that the name is changed.
21. Plan a good long road trip with my Esteemed Companion to someplace neither of us has ever been.
22. Toys for the boys and sweet things for the girl.
23. Camp at least twice a month this summer.
24. Make volunteering in the community a regular way of life.
25. Dia de los Muertos in Fort Bragg: the committee, the altars, the community.
26. First Friday art walk every month, maybe even Second Saturday in Mendo, too.
27. The radio show: finish training, get on the air.
28. Film programming: expand, explore new film ideas, new genres.
29. Read new fiction, old classics and share, share, share.
30. Buy more vinyl.
31. Empty out at least one of two storage areas.
32.Finish out the Sacramento workshop expectations with a bang. Get to know John and Becky.
33. Stargaze with my Esteemed Companion and her boy.
34. Go to an opera.
35. Eat a little bit of chocolate, good chocolate, every day.
36. Try out a few new wineries in the Anderson Valley.
37. Make good on those promises with the Mendocino Film Festival.
38. Go beyond the coastal map and walk new beaches, more headlands. Point Reyes, anyone?
39. Find one really good Vietnamese restaurant on the other side of the hill and frequent it as often as possible.
40. Give business to the locals.
41. Find my way into the Valley at least twice a month in order to share the time the gas and the distance.
42. Get my bike out of storage and ride!
43. Bake weekly: bread, dulces, whatever and share.
44.Provide a real face to my staff and to the community no matter what.
45. Let integrity be the guiding light in my life.
46. LIVE as if there is no tomorrow.
47. Bridge old relationships.
48. Take a drive down to LA and leave flowers on the graves of my ancestors.
49. Offer up a mass to my people who have passed.
50. Tour Nevada so I can better understand what my Esteemed Companion is all about.
51. Be as transparent as possible.
52. Give myself over to love.
53. Learn to drop the defense mechanisms.
54. Be the best possible man I can be within the limitations of my being.
55. Love with all my heart.
I have arrived. Not just a destination but a place where I have been able to grow. Not so much reinventing myself but finding new ways to learn about life, about my possibilities, about all those things that somehow eluded me the last seven or eight years.
Going through old posts made me realize how far I have come. I am now working as the Branch Librarian in a small coastal town. I made my way from Idaho to the edges of the continent last year around this time. It was touch and go for a couple months but once I understood not only my limitations and the boundaries of the region I got to be mighty comfortable with my surroundings and myself.
I have found that as much as I love a big city, and with San Francisco close by I have as much Big City as I can handle, I can do well here in the small pond. I have found, too, that the penchant I have for volunteering is a good thing here. I have given my time and my heart to a number of agencies and non-profits that needed a strong back, a welcoming smile, a bit of intellect. In return I have found that the community that I shared my time with has given back ten fold.
My library is a welcoming, wonderful place to be. The crowd is mostly younger families, older retirees, wild cats from the Beat and Hippie days, old radicals, intelligensia, writers, photographers and artists of all stripes. I love how on some days it feels as if a concert just got out across the street, but on others how the potential for renewing the hopes and dreams of a once vital and industrious community is right around the corner. We are if anything hopeful here. Helpful, too. I have never seen a place go out of it's way the way it happens here to make sure that things get done. Done well, thoroughly and with a lot of passion, thought and care.
We are a place of light and magic. We are a place that is caught between the savage beauty of the sea and the unforgiving ruggedness of the mountains. We are one with savage beauty but because of our isolation and increased sense of independence, do not suffer fools gladly. This a place that, once you pitch your flag in the sand and make your strand, is determined to draw you in, make you whole, make you the best possible person you can be. Otherwise, if you don't wish to go that route, you can choose to be forgotten, a reminder of a life well lived or a wrecked shell pressed hard against the rocks. This place really does require that you pay attention, that you maintain a high sense of decorum and that be as real as you can possibly be.
Yes, being real here on the coast has been nothing but good for me. I have found life blossoming all around me here and I look forward to further discoveries.
And, ah, then there's my new and most delightful friend on the other side of the mountain...how happy I am! How lucky I am to have found her, for her to have found me! A mutual Like society of two, spreading the word of happiness and joy. Life is blossoming and I am filled with a sort of mirth, sunshine and glee that hasn't been seen in these parts a long, long time.