Snap Shots

In my notebook are snap shots. As I travel I see moments in time which are meaningful to me. La Jolla was a place of a few vignettes. As I was walking through the beautiful neighbourhood of those who somehow have managed to maintain a flow of funds, I saw a young man walking with  a cross between a fishing pole and a bow and arrow. When I asked him what it was, he explained that he went to the bay and brought home fish which he claimed were unpolluted.
On the bus ride home a family was sitting together on a seat to the right of the aisle. The dark haired two year old girl was cradled in her mom’s arms in the aisle seat and the older brother sat inside next to the window. In the aisle next to the family stood a teen-aged boy with immaculate hair, brilliant white teeth and a gold wrist chain. His shirt read Alejandro and he carried on a conversation with his mother and another female relative who were seated on his left. Alejandro was upset because he didn’t want to go home and then go out to eat. The oldest woman was saying that she wanted to go home first. This was met with arguments, sulking and a good deal of prodding of the mother. She refused to referee the debate. In the middle of the negotiating, the two year old girl leaned around her mother and poked Alejandro hard in the ribs. The little devil turned to me and gave me a big conspiratorial grin.
Another scene viewed from the bus window was at the corner of a major intersection. Two highway patrol cars had stopped a driver and were interrogating him when a car squirreled around the corner at high speed, turned to a 40 degree angle, skidded back and forth straightening out just enough to miss the first patrol car, slid sideways and then straightened out again to miss the second car. After less than two minutes, the highway patrol officers sauntered back to their vehicles and pursued the dangerous car that looked like it was on sheer ice and not a 90 degree asphalt surface.

On an escalator, the gray haired man ahead of me was talking to his female companion.”They are investigating me. My account was frozen as a security threat while I am being investigated by the government. They took my computer.”
In book store in San Diego, the magazine rack held Fashion Doll Quarterly. I found the pictures fascinating and vaguely disturbing.
I met two people on the same bus trip. One was a Ph.D in Epidemiology from London, England who has moved to the states. She was in San Diego to run a marathon. After she left, I was curious about a man with his son who was holding a bag of thick twigs. He explained that he carves canes with emblems of the Padres as special order items.
Overheard in San Francisco airport, “So then they came on the intercom again and said, ‘ Will the passenger who made that joke please identify yourself or we will all deplane for interrogation.'”

One is left after these middle segments of narrative waft back like perfume. There is no lead in and the denouement is left behind as I move on.

In the San Francisco hotel I asked the clerk how to get to Bart. An East Indian man who is checking out said, “You don’t want to miss the day, the sunshine. Walk along the front of the hotel it leads over the bridge to Bart and you can enjoy the water.” He explains carefully in great detail. I am taken by his kindness and the flowers of hair that are blooming out of each ear. When I get on the Bart, there are only four of us aboard. A woman with her lovely young daughter sit quietly together, connected and calm. Further down the car sits a young man holding a bouquet of white and red roses filled out with baby’s breath. He looks happy. I notice on the back of the car a notice: Kick in plastic panel to remove.

When I was shopping at Old Navy, the clerk processing my transaction stopped, made eye contact and said, “I like your outfit. It is very cute.” I felt victorious about my thrift shop prize. Even in San Francisco this heritage item was distinctive. Score.

San Francisco Air Port is a Place

When I got into the airport, I was early so I went to the book store. Walking over to the self help section I was amazed by Easter Egg Pink frosted toe nails on a lovely dark skinned woman. I complimented her toes and showed her my new nails. We started to talk about our failed marriages because we were both holding similar books. The topic was about finding a healthy person to form a relationship with. I mentioned the title of the book my friend Ann had just told me about yesterday: Why Men Love Bitches. Ann said she had asked many men she knew if the book’s premise that women who ask for more get more was, in fact, true. “Yes,” they all told her.
So the woman searched the shelves and found only one copy.” That is yours”, I assured her. She said,” This is my new best friend”. After buying it, she said,”You are my new best friend,” to the book and headed off to the lounge to read.
The clerk behind the counter asked me about the other book I had been talking about with the woman with pinkies. “It is entitled Love in 90 Days”. I explained it and he said he had been without a love for over a year and wanted a partner, a lover, an intimate other so he was going to buy it and start using it. He would order it in. He was incredibly handsome with huge brown eyes. But he explained that he was very shy and had become depressed and stopped trying. He was excited about the book and the possibilities.

I noticed that my watch had stopped so I enquired about a watch. The bookstore owner pointed out the SWATCH store and said,” All of the foreigners buy them”. I laughed and told her that I was a foreigner so I would go buy one.
My first swatch. I bought a simple black leather one that has a window for the date. Happy Birthday to me.
No matter where you come from or where you are going most people want someone who is there for her or him alone. They want someone who is waiting for his or her return. Someone who is sleeping in a big bed with a cold side where their love’s body is supposed to be. A place to be held and received. A love that is sheltering and healing to prepare for the daily challenges of life.
Walking around in this busy airport, I found others who were on another journey rather than the moving from one place to another physically. This journey was to find someone to share a life with who is whole and healthy and dependable. The heart’s place is the destination.
As I moved along the walkway to the plane I heard an information kiosk woman talking to a little Asian girl.” No,” she said to the dark haired girl. “No. This is not Missouri. You are in California. Let me see your ticket.”
I guess there are many ways to be lost.

wedding reception in lobby of marriott san fran

San Francisco

Well Judith Orloff once told me to go to a city and check its vibe. Really open up to how you feel when you are there. I got off of the Greyhound bus with my heavy backpack and dragging my luggage behind. I headed out the door to where the taxi stand was and no taxi. So I went to where I saw there was a hotel on the map. It was close to 11 pm and the street people were everywhere snuggled in for a night’s sleep. They were frankly looking irritated with me trailing back and forth through their bedrooms which were the side streets.
While I didn’t feel actual fear, I wasn’t really comfortable either. The hotel was full and the desk clerk phoned around and all other hotels were full. There was a music festival and some sort of baseball game on so the entire town was booked with tourists.
Dragging my luggage behind me, I set off back to the bus depot thinking I would maybe just move on. I saw a local city bus a few blocks away and I asked the driver which bus I should take to get to the airport. He pointed back the four blocks I had just come from and said I should ask another bus driver for another system. I went to that stop, waited and asked the driver when he arrived.
He looked at me as if I were certifiable and in a very, very bored tone told me I should take another bus system with entirely different markings on the side which was yet in a third direction.
Condemning him with a cheerful smile and an upbeat tone, I dragged my weight to a third spot. When that bus arrived I went through the routine again. He pointed to the first place I had come from and said that would be the bus. I explained that, no, it wasn’t the bus. He shrugged and slouched back into his bus in a disinterested manner.
Now it is closer to midnight and it is just me, the occasional arrival of one of the three mysterious bus systems and the street people.
I was deciding if I should switch into despair mode when a single woman walked past me. She stopped and quizzed me about why I was insane enough to be alone that time of night. Oh she explained you need BART. She walked me to the BART station, showed me how to buy a ticket and told me to go down several flights. A train arrived but I wasn’t sure which side of the platform to stand on. I asked somebody and they pointed to the neon plane image. Oh.
When I got to the airport, I phoned airport hotels because I was just too tuckered to go further. The Marriott had a deal at $119 a night instead of the usual $195 because frankly who else is going to check in that late. Many thanks to the angel of a woman that appeared.

buzzing place in the lobby

The first day was mostly about reconnecting with a wonderful artist/actress/writer, Ann Tracy, from Sacramento. She drove almost two hours to come and visit me and was stuck on the bridge. All in all it was a really enjoyable day. We sat in the sunshine at the hotel and watched the tide recede and return while eating good food. The waiter was droll, attractive and attentive. Perfectly wonderful time and I had no regrets about getting out to the city. Sometimes what is happening is what is meant to happen. I am very happy to have Ann for a friend. She also told me about an astro-cartographer who can do a chart letting a person know where he or she should be living. I had that done since I got back. The universe keeps providing clues. Just listen. Be still and listen.
So the next day I got to sit and watch the tides moving in the beautiful hotel. I walked to the downtown bus and went shopping but the presence of the street people was so aggressive that I felt both deep compassion and fear. The disparity between the rich and poor is so vast. To get transport to the airport was $8.25 one way compared with 95 cents in Portland. The poor and working poor haven’t got a chance.
I was very happy to get on a plane to go to Portland.

Moving On

La Jolla was a bit of a bus ride out. When I got onto the bus a group of Chinese women who teach English were sitting around me. The one in the seat we shared informed me that she had a 2 year old and a 4 year old. Teaching full time at the local University kept her so busy that she made food ahead of time on the weekend. That dispelled my belief that all Chinese were obsessed with fresh ingredients prepared over a fire for hours for the evening meal. She didn’t know where to get off the bus and neither did I. So we asked two women in front of us. The first one I spoke to had no idea but her friend did.
So that is how seven people ended up in a line like a mother duck and her ducklings walking down to the beach.
Two tourists from Portugal were very disappointed and were coming back up the hill. The two young guys said, “Not pretty. No good.” They were headed off to find a nicer beach.
For recreation there is a public golf course that costs only $25 a round and is accessible both financially and physically with an ease that keeps locals on the greens.

San Diego: the tour continues

The information that I recorded in one day is providing the content for this travel blog over a three day period for ease of writing and also, hopefully, to keep you coming back for more.

beautiful buildings, blue sky

convention centre

Sitting in the bay as we went past on the tour were two ships. One was the Star of India which has been around the world 21 times and the other was the USS Midway which now serves as a tourist attraction. Along the embarcadero is a sea side “village” which is actually just a tourist shopping area. Within the buildings is a carousel originally carved in 1895. The sea port village by the water front was build by Walt’s folks and has that plastic fantastic feel to it which is so Disney.

star of India

Jerry Lewis’ yacht was revealed to us as we passed the area. When we reached the convention centre, the driver pointed out that the cement structures out in front of the large building were replicas of waves to look more in keeping with the nautical theme. Cement waves on a gray overcast day, well perhaps.
The Dole packing plant and shipping yard were next and the fact that 12% of all bananas in the U.S. come through this area gave the driver cause for simulated astonishment.

In 1963 an artist began a protest against the proposed freeway and posted his reaction in graffiti art around the city. By 1969 the protest had a name, “border art”, and the leader was teaching at San Diego State University. One can still see the works that act as a border on the cement supports under the bridge where a local park has sprung up.

Coronado Island Hibiscus are giant

Coronado was the next destination and is truly artificial. It was an island created by dredging the bay. I spend most of a day there and walked from one end of the island where the ferry docked to the other beach which is gorgeous and favored by many families who live in the area. The entire ferry crossing was $7 and well worth the sense of exploration. Apparently, a bridge is in the works to span to the island in the near future. Many of the beautiful houses on the island were floated across the bay on barges. Giant hibiscus blossoms are everywhere and some are larger than a hand. Interesting that I was just reading that hibiscus blossoms are now found to be a wonderful anti-oxidant. So they provide a lifting of the spirits in several ways.

The dunes on the beach spell out Coronado so the pilots flying over in military planes have a welcoming sign. The four drunk women who were on the trolley with us and were giving the driver a run for his money were calling out, “I want to see them. I can’t see them.” This is the first time I heard about the flight attendant that pulled the shoot out of the plane as Victor suggested how they could really enjoy seeing the letters. Vodka on a 90 degree day does not create a pleasant personality. The women were so loudly taking pictures of one another that much of the narrative was lost from that point on. They were wearing very expensive jewelery and kept moving from seat to seat expanding into the space. When they finally got off, all of those on the trolley spontaneously applauded.

The information about Orange street came through as they nodded off for a while. The idea was born to barge in orange trees but the rabidly hungry rabbits made short work of them so today the palm trees stand along the sun baked street. Apparently, they enjoyed the cedar trees as well. Yummy.

The tour

Interesting isn’t it to hear that the entrepenurial spirit is imbued in San Diego culture. The builder/developer of the street cars was disappointed with the weekend profits, so he oversaw the 1914 construction of the giant, outdoor organ in Balboa park to create a destination. The same spirit motivated another individual on Coronado Island, to create a destination for profit.
The tour driver, Victor, informed us that the replica of Lindburg’s plane is on display in the air and space museum. At the end of my day in the park, I acted as a guide to two men from Paris, France who were in California studying the aero industry for the decades of 1930 and 1940. Strange that someone as directionally challenged as I am ended up escorting two Parisiens out of the park to the downtown core.
The starlight bowl was built to have an outdoor venue for arts performances and acoustic experts were imported to the city to create the best experience for audiences. But no one reckoned that the outdoor arts scene would be directly under the path of an airport. Actors, performers, musicians have to use discretion but frequently the performance is halted at the direction of a spotter who calls out, “Condition yellow” as the plane approaches. “Condition red” is a signal for the actors to freeze until the air is clear again. The record for most times that a play became an experience of human statues is 42 times during one performance.
The city itself, Victor informed us, has experienced a 40% growth in the last 10 years and follows a policy of Smart Growth which forstalls urban sprawl and is forcing up height. The area designated as “Little Italy” is the largest in the country. The Italians were in San Francisco tuna fishing when the 1906 earthquake hit. Many of them moved to San Diego to continue fishing. Today there is no longer a tuna industry. I noticed on the side of a government building a sign proclaiming “Naturalization Ceremony Today”.
Strangely enough San Diego’s period of greatest sunlight is November because May and June are know for May gray and June gloom.
The area called Old Town is in fact a very old town. It was the first permanent group residence designated as a town in area of the United States. In 1850 the area became officially a U.S. property instead of a Mexican settlement.
The coastal area held 21 missions in total each 30 miles apart to allow for one day’s ride on horseback. The goal to convert, to prostelize, to spread the priest’s culture was the motivation.
The tour also pointed out the economic energy that the presence of the military brings to the region. A Marine Corp recruitment and training centre oversees the honing of 20 thousand men a year into Marines.
Circling the city on the tour was a great way to get a feel for the geography and social background of the area. I frequently used to joke that I wanted to paint our house plaid, so I was really thrilled to see a van which was boldly plaid with the sign JackMcDuff.com on the side.
It was parked near the airport which sees 18 million passengers traveling through each year. Apparently, the flight path is directly over homes so the last flight is at 11:30 pm and starts again at 6 in the morning so as not to disturb the residents.

bay in full sunlight

Tuesday, August 10th

Do the Thing You Fear Then the Courage Comes Afterward

I read this in one of the myriad self-help books, on line newsletters, inspirational quotes that I have been exposing myself to as a kind of swimming in hot springs water to heal woundedness. I drove to Vancouver by myself and found my way around the city. Booking into a hotel, seeing the Impressionist show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, having lunch with an internet friend John and driving back home were all out of my comfort zone. But like the shoe trees that I used to buy to stretch my shoes, I am stretching my limits lately.

right next to major transport Bristo Hotel

Linda with the generous heart

Even during the grief of dealing with the death of my step-father, I traveled alone, sat death vigil with him alone and flew back home alone.
The journey to San Diego was much more light-hearted. First because the city itself was experiencing a lift in the gray, foggy weather it had been experiencing for months. The citizens were gloriously happy in the days of sun that began propitiously enough for me the day I arrived. The day I left, on Friday, the weather was back to unseasonably low. In fact, the month of July was the coldest July in 22 years.
Leaving my beautiful hotel which was conveniently right next to the transit store on 1st avenue, I bought a three day pass for $12 and got on the #7  bus to Balboa park. The sun shone and the palm trees whizzed past for a fun and exotic ride.
When the bus arrived, a bunch of us got off and gathered around the map. Three women, including myself began a discussion of where we were and what we were intending to see in the huge park. A blonde woman with two children expressed her interest in the zoo and headed off. Linda, a semi-retired nurse who worked with patients with addiction issues was in town with her husband who was attending a convention. She was taking the opportunity to enjoy the city and had ridden the bus and a train for over an hour to stand beneath this map with me. The two of us formed a friendship and set out to explore the cactus garden.

dates in cactus garden san diego

We came upon a group of first cousins who were all women from differing home town who had gathered for a holiday. A few of them were from Canada, Campbell River and Winnipeg, I believe were mentioned. So now I who had headed out alone am surrounded by friendly, energetic women exploring the world. After we all took one another’s pictures in various groupings, Linda and I set out to the Natural History Museum where we used the facilities and bought lunch at the Dinosaur Cafe beneath a moving replica. A little girl began a narration for us about what the best aspects of the museum were with such an adult confidence that we quickly fell under her spell and listened to a long narration.
The plan began to form, find the free events. We went to the Botanical Gardens with its orchids, venus flytraps and tall tropical plants. Next we visited the small art gallery which held a few pieces by well-known artists. Reuben’s Portrait of a Young Captain and David’s Portrait of Mr. Cooper Penrose were on display and because of the size of the museum, one could stand very close to them to enjoy the technical aspects of the work. After walking along the promenade a while, Linda decided that her travel time dictated her leaving in order to catch up with her husband for the evening. I was truly thankful for her company because she was so enthusiastic about the art, the gardens and interested in everything around us. She was great company.

art deco architecture

After she left I went to the Museum of Photographic Art’s Taking Aim exhibition of rock and roll photos. I have seen reproductions of some of these shots but it was really interesting to see them up close. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Jimmy Hendrix, John Lennon, Blondie in her underpants working on getting her guitar ready for a performance and Jim Morrison to name a few were stars in the exhibit. In an alcove off of the main exhibit were some wonderful shots of people from various places around the world. The character, vitality and presence of the subjects really brought home our mortality. All of them have passed on, yet their spirits were available for the camera and through the lense to us, today. As we exist to see them, we are very aware of the fact that we too will be gone. It is a circuit of awareness.
Walking around in the sunshine amid happy families, people laying on the grass with a languorous dog with them reading books, fountains playing in the sun, palm trees lined up along the roads was relaxing and deeply satisfying. People’s bodies were relaxed, slow and their faces were smiling. The sense of communal enjoyment was palpable. I did not hear one child cry all day and there were dozens around me at any given time.

public art all along the sidewalks

I caught the tour trolley in the parking lot and for $34 heard a narrative about the history of San Diego that filled me in on the import of things that I was seeing and also gave me a lay-out of the city.
When I returned to Balboa I was feeling a bit lonely. Walking past a family, I saw the Asian father taking pictures but behind him his three black haired son were all wearing red shirts and had climbed a black iron stanchion. With their arms circled around one another elevated in the air against the blue sky, they were beautiful. I pointed out the shot to him. I have a policy which prevents me from getting pictures of children unless their backs are turned or they are at a distance. Not wanting to cause the parents anxiety, has prevented me from taking some amazing pictures.
The father after getting the picture said, “model.” He waved his camera and I thought he wanted me to take a picture of his family. He pushed me between his wife and her sister (perhaps) and I stood there with their arms around me. The sun was shining and I was being held by a family. I felt the gratefulness rise up in me. He said, “California model.” Walking away I had a big smile on my face.

walking around looking at architecture

cactus from around the world, exotic

Balboa cactus garden

Okay, Now I know Why

As soon as the door to the plane opened, one could smell the sea. It wasn’t the stale air of sweat, old socks, plastic and anxiety. It was the odour of spicy sea food.
The palm trees everywhere were rimmed with the 6 pm light of the setting sun and strangely enough, people had smiles on their faces. I went down to the gaslamp district and had dinner sitting outside in the warm air. Eavesdropping on two men talking about the downsizing of office places and how one of them had the job of reclaiming the computers that were left when people were shipped off to unemploymentville. So many partially heard conversations today. I love the feeling of being a part of people’s lives, of learning about what they are feeling or doing.
A 9 year old girl and her grandmother went the whole way with me and the girl talked about her surf school in San Diego. We stood in a 500 person line when the air port in Seattle was just jammed.
I am pretty tired tonight so I will put up pictures tomorrow of this beautiful city and my great hotel.

San Diego for no particular reason

I am headed to San Diego tomorrow for no particular reason other than I had a “feeling” that I should head there. I spent most of the day today surfing around finding plane tickets and looking for hotels.
According to the reviews there are some options that should be included in the travel booking sites: 1. no smell of urine 2. no pubic hair in the sheets 3. toilet seats that aren’t broken and repaired with tape 4. no carpets torn up to form leg hold traps.
I hadn’t thought of these options until I began reading the reviews. So now I am suggesting that they be included with the list: internet, swimming pool, work out room. What do you think?
My wonderful neighbour Sarah took me through the process of printing out my boarding pass and to repay the favor, I took her glasses home with me and left her semi-blinded. This is the second time that I have removed her glasses from her home after a kindness. By now, she should come to expect it.
Tomorrow I am hoping to get pictures out of the plane window to post. I don’t know what the weather will be like there, but it is very muggy and still here. It just feels heavy.
I mowed the grass, cleaned the house, repacked and got tickets and hotel reservations. Not a bad day all in all.
It was really fun to see my son with his tiny muscle dog, Tyson. He is a French bull dog/terrier cross and really adorable. Frequently, he stops and strikes a pose like a big, muscular beast and stretches himself out with his head raised.
I am grateful for all of the help and support that I have had in this last melt down and I am hoping it is the last melt down. Why does grief take so long? I wish I could find some cough medicine for it. Maybe just drinking it would help.

Where am I and Why?

Never in my life, except one summer school stint in Bellingham, have I felt so lost and disconnected. The trip to Vancouver was through gray, acid smoke from 400 fires. While most of the journey was unobstructed with vehicles, the last two hours was deadly slow because of construction.
A few drops of rain on the windshield were the only sense that there was a connection to a natural world. The acrid taste of smoke accompanied most of the journey. It was reminiscent of California when we drove through the summer fires.
This morning I met a man from New York who struck up a conversation in the elevator. He is meeting his daughter from San Francisco here in a compromise for travel. Walking down the street, I was engaged in conversation by a young man from Spain. When he said, “Spain” he grew visibly taller and pulled himself up in a proud stance. He is here to study English and was thrilled to hear that I taught it.
Thoughts of tutoring again crossed my mind. If just connecting on the street could open possibilities? In the Blenz Coffee shop where I am grabbing a coffee and using the internet, the girl behind the counter is fresh from Ireland. She came over to get work because there is none there, she informed me.
Once I start moving today, I know my spirits will improve. I intend to leave my car in the hotel lot until I go to the art gallery and meet John to view the exhibit. He is a photographer from Port Coquitlam who is very serious about his “hobby” and takes classes on Whidby Island quite frequently.
My neighbour Candy loaned me a gigantic, bright pink suitcase that is 1/2 empty at this point. Wonder what it will hold in a week.
Driving is very hard on my hands and hip. The dull, ache sets in after four hours. I will need to really pace myself. Mostly, I am feeling very much as if I am looking for a purpose. Not knowing where I should live, what I should be doing and who can show up to love me in a way I deserve to be loved is such a strange state. Floating. Unattached. It is not an easy state for a person such as myself.
My goal is to head out and find things to fill myself up. Life give me a top up!
I had a giant suite to myself last night because the clerk gave me a upgrade. It was huge and on the 14th floor. The result was to create such a feeling of singularity. My presence was so small in that giant room. Some of the pictures I took were interesting from the vantage point.
Pursuit of food and amusement comes next today.

protection: gps and buddha