Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Virtual Sex Change . . .

Six weeks before moving to California, the same weekend I listed my house, I attended a Writer’s conference on the Oregon Coast. The conference produces a booklet each year with submissions from attendees.

Shortly after arriving in California, I submitted a poem titled Little Black Dress along with a couple others. As requested, I included a short bio. I must have used first person rather than ‘she’ to describe myself.

Sometime in the summer, an email notified me that Little Black Dress had been selected for inclusion in the 2013 booklet. In October, I received a request for my mailing address so they could send a complimentary copy of the booklet.

The booklet arrived while I was away for Thanksgiving. I opened the package with anticipation. There it was, on page 25. Nice! I turned to the bio section. Oops! Sex change! I’m described as ‘he’ four times. It notes that ‘he’ moved to California to be closer to ‘his’ family.

I fumed. Everyone would picture a man, not me, a fairly feminine older woman! How unfair! How rude! How ignorant!

I waited for my heart to stop pounding before sending this to the publisher:

I just received the 2013 Rogue River Echoes. I'm attaching a photo of me to prove that, though my name and former occupation do not 'announce' my gender, I am and always have been female. My poem, Little Black Dress, should have made that clear, but in the biography section I'm described throughout as male. I don't know what can be done to correct that now.

The next morning I woke with a chuckle. The poem laments my lack of cleavage. I would find an artist to do a pen-and-ink drawing of a burly man in my little black dress, send it to the publisher and ask that it be included as a bookmark. That took some of the pain out of my virtual sex change operation!

Meantime, I’m still waiting on a reply.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Mission of Love

The other day, thinking about my friend Dave, a Neil Diamond song played in my head.

I rummaged through my CDs, found Three Chord Opera and selected A Mission of Love. It’s jazzy, happy, and heartfelt. I know it’s about losing a relationship, but the words rang true for the Caring Bridge set up for Dave: “We got a friend in a hole/we got to help get him out/this is a glorious day/we’re on a mission of love.”

Then I got online and went to the Neil Diamond site. Somehow I found the YouTube video list of his performances and watched a few. The duet with Barbra Streisand, though out of synch with the music, mesmerized me. The connection between them was so electric, so sexy, so palpable it filled me with yearning. I could watch it only once.

It brought up memories, good and otherwise.

In 1980, on a run from Oregon to Maine and back, I memorized the 12 Greatest Hits album. It was a dark time in my life and that tape along with a couple others probably saved my life.

A year or so later, a coworker and I talked about our favorite musicians. I claimed Neil Diamond and Paul Simon.

“I don’t get either of them,” my coworker had sniffed.

I wrote her a poem.

She said she didn’t understand
Neil Diamond/Paul Simon -
the words don’t rhyme,
make sense to your mind,
fit into the party line.

I said you must sip, savor,
then swallow them whole –
musical soup for the soul.
Your heart understands
when your head lets go.

I wrote some other poems using words and song titles from Neil Diamond albums, but most are lost to me now.

For me, Neil, Paul and others (the Beatles come to mind) – somehow condense experience into lyric poems set to music, the words as wonderful as the tunes. For me, they have captured the changing essence and the essence of change through the last fifty years. I often catch myself singing one or another of their songs because the lyrics are perfect for the spot I’m in.

But Dave’s situation reminds me that, healthy as I am, I do have an expiration date. Like kids who participate in Make a Wish programs, my wish – rather than go somewhere exotic or do something crazy – would be to meet Neil Diamond in person, to thank him for saving and enriching my life. And then faint dead away!

At the store yesterday I found another Neil Diamond CD, his duet with Streisand included.

Neil – you always bring me flowers!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rainy Day, Dave Ashleigh

Rain yesterday. Thick, misty, silent except for the sizzle of tires on wet pavement. Heavy, yet not cold.

It matched my mood, gray and grumbly.

On Friday, I woke with my friend’s name in my head. Six-thirty. Far too early to call, so I wrote Call Dave & Marty on a sticky note and began my daily routine.

I made the call before eleven. Marty answered.

“How are you?” I asked.

“I’m fine, but Dave . . .”

NOOO! My head screamed while I listened to Marty explain that Dave was diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia last week and was now undergoing chemo at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. She urged me to call his cell number.

Dave was my buddy throughout high school.

We dated just once when we were freshmen. We barely spoke that night and he seemed to avoid me at the party we attended. I wondered why he seemed so different from the wry, sparkly guy I knew – and got into trouble with – in Spanish class.

A few years ago, I learned the truth. That evening, he had a horrible case of gas. “You’ve been a family legend,” he told me. “Everyone knows the story of my date with Becky Darling* – cutest girl in the freshman class.” (*my given name)

Our classroom fun didn’t end, though, often earning us stern looks from teachers.

He dated a girl from another high school; I had a series of steady boyfriends. We graduated and went on to college – me to Oregon, Dave to junior college then UCLA with a scholarship in water polo and swimming.

My mother tried to arrange for him to meet my plane at Christmas my senior year, the one time my flight was diverted to Burbank. He visited me in Oregon later that year, when UCLA swam against Oregon. I think he met Marty about that same time.

He went on to participate in Olympic water polo, not once but twice.

We lost contact until our 45th reunion – a small picnic I helped coordinate. That’s when I met Marty. That’s when I was reminded what a gem he is, how blessed I am to know him. And, now, how pissed I am that he’s ill.

So, the rain yesterday gave me an excuse to be grumpy. It allowed me to be the negative voice at my book discussion group. It gave me time to understand why I had hacked up the vines by the back fence two days before. It washed the world shiny, freshened the air.

I pray that the chemicals they’re feeding Dave will wash him clean and well.

Rainy Day, Dave Ashleigh. But the sun's gonna shine soon.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Light and landscape

“All our actions take their hue from the complexion of the heart, as landscapes their variety from light.” –Francis Bacon

My 70th birthday fell on Labor Day this year, so I’m more than a month into my eighth decade. I live in a two-story apartment, running up and downstairs many times a day, yet I feel better than just a year ago: the ache in my right hip is gone and I’m lighter in spirit if not on the scales.

After more than fifty years of Oregon winters with gray in fifty shades, California’s abundant sunshine makes my world happier. And, as the quote from Francis Bacon implies, landscapes change with each shift of light. At midday, distant hills and canyons hang from a dusty sky, flattened by mirage of heat and slant of sun. In the landscape of my mind, I sprawl on the floor in front of our old black and white TV and watch my cowboy heroes ride:

Cisco gallops after bandidos. Pancho bounces along behind, sombrero flapping. The Masked Man sits secure as Silver rears and paws the air, then thunders down the narrow trail. Dum ta da dum ta da dum dum dum. Scout and Tonto slide up in a cloud of dust. From a hillock, Hopalong Cassidy watches, reins held loose. He smiles and pulls his hat low. Topper picks the way down the trail, tail sweeping graceful side to side.

Though I adored them all, I loved Hoppy most. He was gentle yet had a fierce sense of justice. He didn’t drink, smoke or kiss the girls. My folks indulged me with the entire Hopalong outfit: hat, skirt and vest – even a holster and ‘six-shooter’ cap gun complete with a box of rolled caps. In a photo of me at about seven, my permed hair peeks in frizzy clumps from under the hat, framing my ecstatic grin.

And then the sunlight shifts. The mountains reshape themselves and I’m brought back to now.

Now is October 10, 2013. Yesterday in SLO we had our first rain in weeks – a mere dribble measuring .04 inches. Still, I inhaled the scent of fall and savored the damp coolness during my morning walk.

I recently found a quote that captured my feelings about autumn in Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. The novel is about New York, and though New Yorkers would dispute this, New York has no corner on the seasons. The part that resonated for me: “Come September, despite the waning hours, despite the leaves succumbing to the weight of gray, autumnal rains, there is a certain relief to having the long days of summer behind us, and there’s a paradoxical sense of rejuvenation in the air.”

And I do feel energized, eager for whatever comes next. Of course, what comes next after October is November, and then December. I smile and remember what the teacher in Frazz, a comic strip by Jeff Mallett, said: I never trust a month that ends in ‘BRR.’

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The way home

When I left Oregon in April, I was certain Atascadero would become home. I liked the sound of the name; everything had fallen into place—a cat-friendly apartment available the day I needed it, rented month-to-month. I could get acquainted with the area at a leisurely pace. My astrological reading indicated June 5th would be a propitious day; perhaps then I would find my permanent home.

I struggled that first week of June, searching for my ‘forever home.’ It wasn’t until the next week that I realized Atascadero didn’t feel like home. While I love being warm, the heat often governed my day. If I were to jog, I needed to do so early, though I’m not a morning person. My enthusiasm for exercise lags when heat begins to radiate from the pavement shortly after sunrise.

But the deciding factor came that, on Tuesday, June 11th. I planned to attend a 7 p.m. writing-related event in San Luis Obispo (SLO), less than 20 miles away. Plenty of time, I thought, as I got on Hwy 101 just after six, buoyed by the prospect of meeting fellow writers.

Less than a mile later, a sign warned of an accident ahead. At that point, traffic was sparse and still moving at freeway speed.

“Well,” I reasoned, “if they’ve had time to put up the sign, it’ll be clear soon.”

How wrong I was. After I passed the last exit familiar to me, traffic began to pile up. Still, from there to SLO was less than eight miles. I might be a little late.

But between me and my destination loomed the Cuesta Pass, a grade that goes up to 1522 feet, then winds down into SLO at 234 feet. There are no exits in the eight miles between Santa Margarita and SLO. Well, that’s not exactly true. Part of the highway is non-freeway, with side roads providing access to dwellings and wineries but not to other routes over the pass. Turning left across the other lanes seemed dangerous. Besides, I’d gotten stuck in the middle lane of three.

We crept along at less than my own jogging pace to the crest, then slithered down.

Where the hell is this accident, I wondered. I could see nothing but cars, inching around each of the wide curves. Finally, beyond the bottom of the grade, after the road narrowed to two lanes, we cleared the overturned semi.

I arrived at the first exit for SLO at eight-thirty. Though the event was only about six miles further, I got off and turned back to Atascadero. I would have arrived as the event ended. And darkness loomed. I don’t see well at night and searching for a place I had never been seemed pointless now.

I learned later that the truck had overturned at two-thirty in the afternoon. I have no idea what time the rig was actually towed away.

Thus began my search for a place in SLO.

At first, the prospect of living near the vibrant downtown seemed perfect. I scanned Craigslist every day, marking the ‘cats okay’ box. I visited a number of available units, was told of a potential ‘grandma’ house, and submitted an application for a fabulous apartment a few blocks from the center of town. My heart sank when the owner of that beauty said I was her second choice.

Then, on Saturday, June 29th, I visited an expensive, pet-friendly unit so unkempt inside and out, it made me want to run. And I did.

Back in Atascadero, I wrote a list of what I wanted, not only in the apartment itself, but also in quality of life—things like quiet yet not isolated, shopping nearby, feeling safe.

On Craigslist, I dropped the check mark on the ‘cats okay’ box. A unit popped up. Nothing about pets, but I hesitated. The ad was all caps, like someone shouting the glories of the place. And it wasn’t downtown at all!

I called anyway and mentioned my cat, Simone. The owner said we could talk. I could see it anytime. He lives next door.

Oh, dear! Would that be good?

I grabbed my keys and headed to SLO for the second time that day. My GPS guided me to Madonna Road then Oceanaire Drive. I chuckled as I turned onto Atascadero Street, the street that curves into Galleon Way and my new safe harbor, my new and perhaps ‘forever’ home.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Leaving Home, a poem


Living my dream of leaving home,
believing doors that swung so wide
beckoned to my aging bones
with sun and warm and clear blue sky.

Grieving all I left behind,
searching for the energy
to make this new place mine
and drain the part inside of me
that sloshes still,
reminding me against my will
the joy of running in the rain
and raindrops on the windowpane.

Yet I glory in the light,
sunbaked and barefoot in the spring.
Changing, changing everything –
changing everything but me.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Finding Home

On May 10, 2013, I opened the San Luis Obispo Tribune. My eye was immediately drawn to the green ‘O’ on bright yellow – none other than Jordan Hasay in her Ducks singlet, racing across the top of the page. "Hasay's Running Makeover" the headline read.

Wait a minute, I thought. Where am I? Eugene? I looked around. No, not Eugene. This is my new home. Atascadero, California, just north of San Luis Obispo.

I hadn’t remembered that Jordan is from San Luis – SLO as they call it here.

I turned to the Sports page. Another nice picture of Jordan winning the 5,000 at Hayward on April 19, complete with lengthy article about her move to longer distances.

It reminded me how completely we adopt our sports heroes and heroines, no matter whether they’re really ‘ours’ or not.

And it took me back to a sunny August afternoon in 1984. The Los Angeles Coliseum, Olympic Track and Field. My friend and I chattered about the upcoming race, crossing our fingers that our favorite would win. The group in front of us turned.

“Who’re you talking about?” one asked.

“Joaquim Cruz,” we replied in unison. “He ran for the University of Oregon.”

Another, after studying the lineup, spoke up. “But,” long pause, “he’s running for Brazil.”

My friend and I shrugged.

“Watch him. He’s really fast,” I said. “And handsome.” I had passed near him at Hayward Field earlier that year, and had blushed when he noticed me admiring his face and physique.

Our support for an athlete from another country unsettled those around us. But he was ours. We celebrated his come-from-behind victory in the 800 while those near us had seemed stunned.

On May 24th, The Tribune reported that Hasay’s running move to longer distances, hit a bump. She failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 10,000-meter preliminaries in Austin, Texas. There’s still the 5,000 though. Eugene and SLO will be watching.

It reminds me how connected we all are, no matter where we go. On a trip to Cambria, I had another ‘where am I?’ moment. We parked in front of a rock shop, the kind that sells real rocks. I did a double-take on the name. Planet Yachats. I turned to my companion.

“Yachats is my favorite Oregon Coast town. S’pose it’s connected?”

He didn’t seem interested and we moseyed to a restaurant for a late lunch. As we returned to the car, I knew I had to find out.

The clerk sat in the back at a small desk, eating her own lunch and reading.

“I’ve got to know,” I said. “Yachats – any relation to Yachats, Oregon?”

“Oh, yes,” she said. “The first Planet Yachats is there. The owners buy from all over the world – Morocco most recently. This is their second store. We’ve been open five years.”

The clerk has never been to Yachats, Oregon so our conversation died rather quickly. But I left with a Planet Yachats business card. On one side, the address in Cambria. On the other, ‘Corner of 3rd & Hwy 101 in beautiful Yachats.’

I’ll keep it to remind me that wherever I am, I’m home. And we all belong to each other, no matter where we’re from.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

California Driver

I’m now a California driver, my car has California plates, and I’m registered to vote in San Luis Obispo County.

I had made an appointment with the Paso Robles DMV office for 12:45 p.m. Friday, May 3. Bev, the blond woman who helped me, got everything done in less than an hour.

Because her desk sat across the room from the photo machine and from the front door, we did a number of do-si-dos, with Bev going through the office and me skirting outside the U-shaped counter.

First, we met at the front door and went out into the heat (96 degrees!) to check the car for mileage and verify numbers on title and registration with the one in the dash.

“We’re on a roll,” she said as we returned to the building.

Then the eye exam. Until my last renewal in Oregon, I never needed glasses to pass. Now, even with my new prescription lenses, I fumbled through three lines of letters when using only my right eye.

“Whew,” she exclaimed after I read the smallest line perfectly with my left eye. “I thought we were in trouble for a minute.” I didn’t say so, but it worried me, too.

She handed me a pencil and the driver test. I said a mental ‘help’ to the power of the Universe before I began. About three questions into it, in spite of signs at every desk prohibiting cell phone use, brrrrp, brrrrp from the cell phone of the guy sitting next to me! He fumbled to shut it down. No one said a word to him.

Then, a young man renewing his license missed four questions, one over the limit. A DMV worker read him one of the questions he missed – several times in a loud voice – so the kid could pass. Nice, but another distraction. I plugged my ears.

I finished, not daring to review for fear of second guessing a correct answer. I watched Bev grade my answers. She marked one on the first side. I held my breath as her pen drifted down the second side.

“Good job,” she said. “You missed just one.”

She handed me the test. I should have trusted my first choice on the one I missed. Still, I exhaled in relief.

“I hate to give up that number,” I said as she punched a hole in my Oregon license. “It’s so easy to remember.” She nodded.

She retrieved the car registration forms set aside earlier and entered my new California driver number in the space provided.

A young man trying to expunge his record leaned on the counter near me. Bev had called for a coworker to help, but he whined his questions at Bev. She replied, calm but firm, that she didn’t have the answer. He asked the same question several ways. She repeated her reply with patience. Her coworker arrived and she turned back to my papers.

“You need a screwdriver?”

I shook my head. “Brought my own.”

She smiled. “Put the stickers on in here. It’s too hot outside. The one with the stickers goes on the back,” she said, handing me two shiny new plates and one set of stickers. “And bring me your Oregon plates.”

I frowned. I had told her when we were outside how I remembered the number: “ZPF 812. Zane’s Pet Frog Ate One Too.” And she had laughed.

Now, I asked, “Can I keep one?”

“Well, I only saw one plate when I was checking your car.” Did she wink?

I returned a few minutes later. “Thanks so much,” I said and handed her one Oregon plate.

I’m going to write a letter to the Paso Robles DMV about the excellent service I received on a busy Friday afternoon.

I walked out humming that old Beach Boys tune. I’m a California girl again.

Dream on, old woman. You're just another California driver!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

On the Way Past San Jose

Tuesday, April 16, 2013. I breathe deep and look out the window to clear blue skies. Home.

It’s been a long two weeks. The scramble to pack up my household goods became complicated.

First, I began getting warnings from Verizon. My minutes had been devoured by all the calls necessary to negotiate my move.

Then, on Tuesday, April 2, the sewer backed up again (see ‘Grateful for the sh**!’ from November 13, 2012).

I called the plumber. Quick response and the problem appeared to be fixed.

On Wednesday, I ran a small tub of wash, then dove into packing. I began to hear little burps from the toilet, though I was not running any water myself. I headed to the office, not wanting to use up any more phone minutes.

I rounded the corner to see the plumbing van at my neighbors. Hmmm. I rang her doorbell.

“Are you having a plumbing problem?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “He’s back there now.”

“Could I talk to him? I had a problem just yesterday. Maybe it’s related.”

The plumber – not the same one who worked on my place -- was adamant. Absolutely no connection between the two problems. I declined to argue, returned to my house and sure enough, water, thankfully clean, burbled up from the sewer cleanout.

I nearly ran to the office. The manager called the plumbing company. They would send the guy from my neighbor’s when he had finished there.

I returned to packing, wondering if I would get to wash my pile of dirty laundry.

Then, just before three, I washed my hands and went to the title company to sign closing papers.

Late that afternoon, the plumber came to the door. He went on at length about why he’d left the cleanout open.

“So, I can’t use my water,” I said.

“You can use it, it’ll just flow into the yard,” he said. I started to explain why that wasn’t okay, then just walked away, leaving him standing at the door.

Shortly after that, I noticed a man in a work vest on the deck near the cleanout pipe. I went out, hoping he had a solution. Nope. He was the cable guy and had been notified of a water problem near their cable connection.

I called a friend. She asked what she could do. “Come give me a hug,” I said. She popped in a few minutes later with that hug. By then I knew I needed a break and we went to dinner.

I was up until after one a.m. packing, tossing items wherever they would fit.

The next morning, the movers arrived on time and were in and out quickly.

All I needed to do now was pack the car. I’d overestimated what the car would hold, so when another friend called, I lured her over and gave her my beautiful Christmas cactus and what I thought was the rest of the stuff from the kitchen.

Then I locked the door and went to Valley River Inn for the night. Room service and a bath! How glorious! But I woke in the night remembering the few items I had left behind – locked securely in the house along with my last key!

Early Friday, I texted my realtor, asking if she could let me in for those items. But by the time we connected, I had gathered Simone from the cat hotel and was headed south. Was I running away? I shook my head. More like a boat being shoved from the dock.

I was in Redding when I got another text from my realtor. “Did you give someone permission to take plants and move stepping stones from the yard?”

Oh, oh. I was pretty sure the plumbing company had been there to fix the sewer problem. But I hadn’t given anyone permission – that was up to the park manager.

“No, why?” I responded. She called immediately. Here it was, four in the afternoon, and no one had spoken to the manager! I suggested that option. I never heard more.

A rainstorm pounded through the night in Redding and the next morning, we left in sputtering showers that dissipated by Corning.

Simone slept all the way past San Jose to our new home in Atascadero.

My furniture arrived, late but all accounted for, on Sunday. The money from closing showed up in my account on Monday.

Yes! Done!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March Sunshine

I spent the first weekend of March in Yachats at another writing workshop. I shivered in the damp fog and developed a backache from scrunching under my coat during the workshop. Even though Yachats is one of my favorite places, I couldn’t help congratulating myself on the decision to move south.

During one of the breaks, I visited the local bookstore. Noting copies of Fifty Shades of Gray, I spoke to the woman at the register. “When I first heard the title, I thought ‘oh, someone’s written about Western Oregon.’” We both laughed.

Friday, March 15: I made a reservation for an apartment in Atascadero! Cats are welcome. The manager seemed real nice over the phone - and there's a place available on April 6! It's an end unit, upstairs, so only one side neighbor and one downstairs. Hope I like it! It's month-to-month; I can move if it doesn't work out.

And you're wondering why April 6. Well, the folks buying my house want me to be out by April 5 at noon. After much hemming and head scratching, I agreed. I've scheduled a mover and am in the process of packing a bit at a time. I've sold some items on Craigslist and have more to go.

In preparation to take Simone with me, I took her to 'Doctor Tom' for her shots. He cleaned her ears, one of which was really clogged. Afterward, it became infected. Two more visits and she's now on antibiotics for ten days.

I had planned to drive to San Luis Obispo for a week to look around and find a place to land.

But Simone would have to stay in the cat hotel. While telling a friend of my dilemma, I realized I was being told to slow down. So, I'm staying in Eugene until April 5 - or whatever day the papers are signed and my furniture heads down the road!

March 19: The rains are back. On days last week when the sun shone, I doubted my decision. Today I reminded myself that weather like this often continues through May. Last year, I had my heat on through the drizzly middle of July!

So I’m pleased my application for the apartment has been approved. The manager offered me a different unit, one that’s above their (empty) model. My sister wondered if they thought my heavy-footedness would disturb downstairs neighbors, but the manager claimed she doesn’t want families with screaming kids above the model. Neither my sister nor the manager have heard Simone howl, usually for no apparent reason. In the more isolated unit I won’t risk being reported to the SPCA!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Force is with me . . .

I began the process of moving south a couple weeks ago. First step: contact a realtor. I tried to locate the woman I’d bought my place from, but she wasn’t listed under her name. A friend forwarded another name for consideration. Still mulling my options, I opened a section of the local paper and there she was! She and her husband had started their own firm shortly after I met her in 2007.

I left a message for her on Friday, February 8th. By Monday morning, no response. I fussed. Should I call again? Go to their office? Something told me to wait.

As I left the house to meet with friends at noon, key still in the door, my phone clanged. A youthful voice chirped a happy greeting. She and her partner had been assigned to represent me, if I wanted. I did. We made an appointment for Thursday.

On Thursday, the sun shone bright. The agent toured my place, snapping photos before settling details for the listing. On Friday, she brought the window sign. Then, under fog-filled skies, I left for a writer’s conference in Gold Beach.

At Winston, the mists cleared. Sun warmed the weekend, temperatures reaching the mid-sixties. Perhaps the brightness opened space for me to participate, to feel I belonged in this group of talented writers, and inspired the poetry I scribbled on scraps of paper.

Sunday, on the way back, my realtor called. I pulled over to listen to her message, then called her back.

“You’re not going to believe this,” she said. On Saturday, she had tried to create a video walk-through for the listing, but the camera hadn’t worked. On Sunday, her partner tried, but somehow locked herself out of the house!

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m just south of Cottage Grove. I’ll be there in thirty or forty minutes.”

As I approached the entrance to my manufactured home park, my phone rang. I picked up, expecting it to be my agent. Wrong. Another agent had showed the unit across the street from me. They’d seen my sign and wanted to get in.

“I’m almost there,” I said.

“We could just run across and look before you get here,” she said.

“No, no. You can’t. I’ll explain. Be there in a minute,” I replied as I rounded the curve and saw five people standing in my neighbor’s driveway.

They toured the house while I walked around the neighborhood. As she left, their realtor hinted there might be an offer.

There was. Is. OMG! Stay tuned for the woo-woo rest of the story!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Migrating South

I left the message for my California chum. She was maid of honor at my last wedding, my second broken marriage. I missed her return call and laughed out loud at her message: “Well, you coulda knocked me over with a gin bottle! I never in my wildest dreams thought you’d move to California! I think it’s a fabulous idea.”

Like a bird who forgot to migrate south, I get restless each winter, flapping my mental wings at our foggy, soggy, dark and clammy Willamette Valley.

To be clear, I’m a California transplant. I was raised in Southern California. Whittier, to be exact. It’s a college town with older homes and lots of trees. In certain sections, the sprawl of “The City” – cue the music from Dragnet – can be ignored. I came to Eugene via the University of Oregon in 1961 and am still here.

But my sister, brother-in-law, their two daughters and their families live in the L.A. area. They are my closest blood relatives. I visit at least once each year. Getting from Eugene to Los Angeles by any mode of transportation is not simple. There are no direct flights from Eugene. The Amtrak takes at least 26 hours and has been anywhere from 2 to 12 hours late. Driving can be hazardous in winter and takes more than one day no matter what time of year.

And, yikes! My next birthday will mark the beginning of my eighth decade. How can that be? I’m healthy and active, yet everything takes me longer, requires more effort. My last drive from here to my sister’s in October wore me out.

So, I’ve begun my research. My plan is to stay somewhat north of L.A. and near the coast but not on it.

Last Sunday, I put a sign in the window of my manufactured home. I’ve gotten one call from an interested neighbor. Who knows? I may be outta here sooner than I think!