More Than Dirt

Alf and I got tired of the lunar look of our backyard, with its deep ruts and crevices and dead everything. We used to have steady visitors of cats and squirrels and noisy ravens, but lately even the butterflies do fly-overs instead of landing. So with the help of a longtime neighbor, who builds commercial nurseries for plants, we are working on a new garden together. photo (47)

I quickly sketched my idea of an English garden with pathways and gravel and flowering plants. Something that Alice in Wonderland would choose as she read and conversed with the Cheshire Cat.

I didn’t want a lawn. I was convinced of the versatility and beauty of drought-tolerant plants. I’m a survivor of too many droughts and didn’t want the demands of water guzzling green things anymore. They remind me of crying infants when they’re hungry. I don’t have time to invest in pruning, trimming and talking to them either. I hardly have time to do this with Alf.

I’ve been learning a few things about myself through this. I’m impatient. I thought the re-design would take a month. In my mind it was a simple idea without a lot of fuss. Dig up the dead lawn, and then stick some Woolly Bluecurls, Tree Anemones, and Sticky Monkey-flowers in there, and let them duke it out. I was wrong. I have no understanding of soil, bricks and greenery and what it takes to put all three together in an artful way. It’s taken all summer.

Another problem arose. My neighbor’s taste and mine are not in sync. It’s an act of high level diplomacy every time we disagree. We compromise. We change things. We discard stuff. Always smiling. It’s like a marriage. I’m sure he goes home muttering under his breath. But through it all, a glorious garden is coming into view, and the best part is we haven’t filed divorce papers. That’s the important thing. It may not be ready for the fall, and by winter it will be too cold for tea parties, but then there’s next year. The plants will be settled and feeling good about their new home. And maybe the squirrels and ravens will return chattering and cawing their approval.

When the project is complete, I expect my neighbor to be over many times, showcasing me as his still-friend and my garden to future drought-tolerant fans.

Calvin says, “I’m not so stinking happy. You took away my favorite pee spots.” beagle

Road Trip

I just returned from a road trip from San Francisco to Tulsa, OK with a friend who was moving there.

It took us five days on I-40. First overnight stop was Bakersfield, CA followed by Flagstaff AZ, then Albuquerque NM, onto to Amarillo TX, and finally into Tulsa OK.

The thing that caught my attention in Bakersfield was the Barnes & Noble Bookstore. It was packed with people reading in there. Gave me goosebumps.

On our way out of CA to AZ I spotted kiwi orchards, orange groves and a plane boneyard that loomed in the middle of the Mojave desert. There must have been hundreds of aircraft parked there happily decomposing in the heat.

The drive through Northern Arizona with mountain ranges of pink rock flanking both sides of the highway left me wide-eyed. The word beautiful doesn’t even come close. IMG_8258

Albuquerque was a disappointment. Old Town turned out to be a bust. It looked like a movie backdrop with stores offering goods made for the tourist trade. There was nothing authentic about it. Molly, the border-collie who greeted us at the reception desk at the hotel was the best ambassador for the city.

It took forever to get out of New Mexico. Clearly you’re not supposed to leave. Eventually we crossed the state line into Texas and were greeted by miles and miles of windmills. And when we left the hotel the next morning, we were greeted by the smell of cows and their waste. We ran out of Texas.

As soon as we got into Oklahoma the green light switch came on. Trees, rolling hills and natural grasses flanked both sides of the highway. So was the 100 degree heat.

I have crossed the country many times by plane. Now I can say I have driven most of it. Would I do it again? Probably not, but I’m glad to have done it. It gave me a greater appreciation of the enormity of our country.

Calvin says, “You could have taken me, you know. Every one of those hotels were pet-friendly and I could have announced my presence in every state.”

beagle

 

 

Look Up, Will You!

This is the time of year for majestic sunrises and sunsets.

I see them because I’m on the subway at those hours.  IMG_5728

While I’m busy clicking away, my traveling companions have their earbuds and electronic devises on.

They’re watching their shows, but missing a better one outside.

This phenomena even happens on a walk in the country. FullSizeRender

The trees are in full blossom, the creek is gurgling, the ravens are cawing in the trees, the squirrels are zooming across meadows full of wildflowers, and the hikers? They’re plugged into their music with heads down watching their feet.

Thank you technology.

You’ve made us blind.  We now prefer our inner landscape where there’s nothing to see because it’s dark in there.

If we can’t enjoy nature anymore, what makes us believe we can enjoy each other?

Calvin says, “That’s why you need a dog to watch so he doesn’t roll in that wonderful, foul smelling cow manure.” beagle

 

 

 

A Little of Nothing

On our walkabouts, we see things that capture our attention. Here are a few you might enjoy:

 

bed

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The bed lives at the entrance to a B&B in Half Moon Bay. It’s covered in pink flowers and crawling vines. It’s not a sample of what you’ll find in their rooms. In them it’s down quilts and naked geese quacking their complaints.

The nymph statue is perched on top of water fountain in Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon. It’s an escapee from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Puck harassed it so much, it fled.

The sun hugs a fence to somebody’s garden in Half Moon Bay. It’s Picasso-like expression was the reason it was rejected during auditions as an understudy for the real thing.

Charlie spends his time walking the streets in Niles reminiscing about his earlier movie making days. He’s the silent type. You won’t get a word out of him, but he’s hoping to be spotted by a talent agent who is out antique shopping.

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I think the price of a therapy session has gone up since then, but Lucy is one of best. She’s irritating, impatient, and you’ll get what you pay for.  If you’re desperate she keeps office hours at the Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa.

Calvin says, “That nymph’s spray rivals anything I can produce.” beagle

 

Shakespeare with a Spin

We just returned from the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon where we saw four plays, two of which were from the Shakespeare canon. The Comedy of Errors was ridiculous, The Tempest was great. The other two were modern dramas full of angst and despair, the kind of thing I like because it’s kinda where I live. It also brings out the best in a cast.

Alf and I have been going to Ashland for 27 years now so you can imagine how many plays that translates into – yikes we should be experts, but we’re not. Acting companies muck around with the settings and costumes and even with some of the lines so every play looks and feels different from year to year. We’ve seen Julius Caesar performed in gym outfits, The Taming of the Shrew in a boardwalk setting (right picture), and Romeo and Juliet with a Mexican backdrop.  Screen shot 2013-05-11 at 2.46.42 PM

ErrorsThis year an African-America cast did the Comedy of Errors (left picture) and the director set it in Harlem, so you can imagine the farce and mayhem on stage. The costumes were everything you’d expect to see in a Sunday church setting. Alf loathed it. I enjoyed the spin.

Our biggest adventure was missing out on the Groucho Marx play, The Cocoanuts. All the other plays were at 8 pm and I assumed this one was too, but no it wasn’t, it was a matinee, and we were at the mall shopping while Groucho was yucking it up with the audience. I could have kicked myself. We rushed to the box office, told them our plight, asked to be added to the next performance only to be told it was on the day we were going home. So Groucho came and went without us. “Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.” Alf couldn’t agree more.

Calvin says, “All those settings, all those new smells, why don’t you take me with you? I know the hotel takes pets. I checked online.” beagle