Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Less is More?

Man, it's cold.

Enough years of an endless summer and Arcata in April feels...well, Arctic. The flannel-shirted, Indian-robed, long-skirted, costume-wearing denizens of the town don't seem to mind much. Like the Glorious Founder of the Great Kinetic Sculpture Race, Hobart Brown used to say, "If the sun is out, we race anyway." When the sun is out, the locals still gather in the plaza, the homeless still camp next to the freeway, the crazy old man still accosts unwary visitors with his flying glass pipe.

We finally have a phone! And thank you, Dan and Cheryl, for letting us piggyback on your WiFi! But we still have no furniture, washing machine, dryer, oven, dishwasher or cable...the usual comforts of Life in America. When I wrote that to a friend of mine, she encouraged me to harass Big Dog into buying more appliances. It made me laugh because she's not the only one. Why does everyone thinks it's BD who is so eccentric and making me live like this? I miss the oven, but most Japanese homes have no oven either. Sleeping on foam pads on the floor is also commonplace and we have two brand new foam pads this year. (They look just like the fold-out foam pads that are called futon in Japan, but these were being marketed as some kind of deluxe yoga pad!) None of it is a big deal and to fill my life with more STUFF just doesn't make much sense. We have a working shower and toilet (indoor plumbing! woo-hoo!), a laundromat near by, and best of all, our health and strength.

Besides, we are in Humboldt where people with PhDs live in cabins with no running water or electricity. Where a house in town could be getting their electricity from the house next door. Where a twenty year anniversary present is sheetrock. Or indoor plumbing, as they joked in the Northcoast Journal. We're waaay normal.

Here's a typical Humboldt dwelling. Big Dog lived in this house many years ago. It actually has indoor plumbing! And electricity! But the biggest appeal is the awesome privacy, so close to town, the huge redwoods and Strawberry Creek babbling year round. Who cares that it's a little...Tabacco Road-y.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Strange how we talk of "saving" the planet. Don't we know that the planet will no doubt continue spinning around the sun a long time after it's completely inhabitable? Save the ability for life to exist on earth, is more like it. I've also noticed a lot of media attention on the subject and am distressed at the optimistic spin they try to put on the whole thing. "Well, we've woken up just in time!" "Now that everyone's on board, we can start to make progress."

I hate to pop anyone's balloon, but it's already so late.

And population control still seems to be The Big Taboo. No one wants to go there, but with the human population growing at this alarming rate, nothing we do will matter.

How did we celebrate Earth Day 2008? By driving down the coast of California, once again, of course! Polluting the air with our pick-up truck, buying $3.89/gallon gas, even getting a fast food burger on the way!

We'd actually left Arcata yesterday, pulling a small U-Haul trailer stuffed with some furniture, paintings and books that Big Dog had kept in the Victorian for decades. I'm not sure what we accomplished by making this trip now, but it had to be done at some point and the thought was consuming Big Dog.

Once again, rambling through the string of tie-dye towns, each with smiling girls in long skirts and boys in dreads trying to hitch a ride. We would have gladly picked them up if there was any room in our truck.

We stopped for the night at the Motel 6 in Ukiah. For years, we avoided these franchises and stayed in rickety little motels, all of which were operated by East Indians. I think the Indian motels are actually one big franchise. They just give each one a different name to confuse us.

The people in the next room were coughing all night. Hack, hack, hack. Gee, I hope their germs don't seep through the walls... After a while, though, I began picturing a couple of kids with a huge bag of pot rather than old folks with emphysema.

"They're kids!" Big Dog confirmed for me this morning as he brought in two small styrofoam cups of coffee from the office. Yappari! Just as I thought.

As I set my cup of coffee on the night stand, I noticed that there were bits of un-vacuumed green stuff littering the floor between the bed and night stand.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Behind the Redwood Curtain

Last Tuesday, we drove past all the familiar sights on 101, from Central California to Northern Humboldt. Including, of course, the statue of Padre Junipero Serra pointing the way, next to the highway near Palo Alto. It's kind of a rough creation and looks as much like Yoda as it does Father Serra. It's one of the sights I look forward to everytime we travel north.

"So where IS Yoda, already?" Each time we rounded a bend, I was sure we'd see it.
"It's near the reservoir, right?"

And there it was. Father Junipero Yoda. In all his dune-colored glory. It was right after the Yoda House, a strange bubbly stucco house with rounded roofs and organic form, straight out of Star Wars (the first one which is always Star Wars One to me, not Episode Four.) The house used to be white but now it's a bright, dark orange. Much less Star Wars; much more Moomin.

"There it is! Yoda! He's pointing the way. 'Use the force, Luke.'"
"'Pull my finger, you must. Quick, Brother Juan. Pull my finger,'" Big Dog as usual, had buttholes on his mind. I play along.
"'Hurry! Brother Miguel, come pull my finger.'"
"Are you Yoda or Serra?"
"'Why will no one pull my finger? Oh, Dear Lord, will YOU pull my finger?'"
"'Oh, why not. Everyone's asking me to pull his finger. First Adam, now you.'"

* * * * *

It is early spring in Arcata. Our little apple tree is just beginning to bloom. We missed out on the daffodils, but there are wild onions and little purple flowers everywhere. A stray tulip is trying to bloom in front of the house.

The unseasonably sunny weather we had for the first few days is waning. There's more mist and fog in the morning and sporadic rain. And it's cold. We have no internet connection, no phone. We really are hidden behind the redwood curtain. So if you don't see many new entries for a while, you know why. It's not because I'm zoned out of my mind in the forests.

Wait. Today's April 20th. Okay, so maybe I am.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Up & Down

Things that make me proud:

We are getting to be veteran road warriors.
Packing up our lives is easier all the time. We know what the essentials are, and that life will continue even if we don't have that potato masher (but I do!) or that rolling pin (I opted not to pack it.) Packing up for 2 months is cake.

I'm getting used to our minimalist lives.
We had dinner last night at Horse Girl and her mother's new place just a ways into the valley from us. They have real furniture and appliances, place settings and pets. In other words, everything that makes a house a home. When we returned to the ranch after they had moved out of our house, we both thought, wow, this place is barren. But you know, it's not bad. I actually LIKE not having my life cluttered with all the little things that everyone seems to have. I actually LIKE living in a zen monastery! I look outside and it is crazy with variety and color and species and I think, why do I need to fill my life with more man-made things?

I am further on the road to Satori.
Grasping onto the ephemeral is Bad.

Things that make me sad:

Not having continuity.
Nature is all about continuity. There's something ridiculous about planting anything when you aren't going to be there for its life cycle.

Living without much of a social base.
When your work is media-related, your social base is huge. I've turned around 180 degrees. My work now is completely solitary and I have no one but myself to talk to. (OK, Big Dog is usually around, but he's not very interested in what I have to say anyway, preferring the announcers on public radio.)

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Season of Love...again

A beautiful, metallic blue lizard chases Plain Jane around. Nose to tail, they chase each other in circles for a while, every so often leaping into the air like graceful acrobats. It's then that I notice the lovely blue of their bellies.

Super Red is the alpha male turkey tom. His neck is redder than the others and he loves to strut around, all puffed up. For some reason, he always has a second in tow. Maybe this is Beta Male. Beta Male does not dare to puff up in front of Super Red. He's probably happy just to get leftovers.

("Sloppy Seconds," says Big Dog.
"Eeeeew," I grimace.)

Super Red makes a strange hollow tapping noise when he puffs up. It makes me think of the tsuzumi drummers of Kabuki, especially since Super Red is a bit of a kabuki actor himself. He holds his wings down, trailing them on the ground as he shuffles forward -- just like the hero of a kabuki play.

My body is a wreck from weeding, hoeing, raking and dumping the mountains of weeds, but it's the Season of Love at the ranch so while I walk slowly, my heart can't help but do a crazy jitterbug.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Colossal Land

It's true.
California is a miracle-magical-wonderland.
"Just add water, watch it grow," I used to laugh, but it's no joke.
We're back at the ranch, after a rather rainy winter and everything is colossal size!
California poppies the size of baseballs. Roses the size of grapefruit.

Remember the baby turkeys from last summer? They are giant, strutting beasts now. If you could harness them, you could ride the two huge toms.

I wish you could see it all. Unfortunately, my digital camera finally died.
(And we have good old 28000 baud rate dial up for internet connections.
"This is like 1978!" muttered Big Dog in frustration yesterday.
"Uhhh, we were still using telexes in 1978...")

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

End This War

Some people have been very busy in our West LA neighborhood. All the stop signs in the vicinity have been altered!

Will it happen? It's a shame that we'll have to wait at least until 2009. But maybe there will be a miracle.

Last night, we had dinner with an interesting mix of people: a video tech wiz, a film/video editor extraordinaire, a film-maker whose feature film is finally debuting, an aspiring actress/singer and us. I couldn't believe it when one of them thought that China was in debt to the U.S. To be so wrong -- by hundreds of billions! Don't these people read the news? (And in case you don't...and this is all news to you...there's a simple article from the China Post here.)

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Airport Shrines

Airports are boring sterile places for the most part, but every airport has something that is strange enough to make it interesting. Like Houston. It has a bigger-than-life bronze statue of George Bush. No, not W., but his dad. Though, initially you are a bit confused because the statue is of a young GHB. It's in its own alcove, like one that would have a famous work of art, or maybe a statue of a saint, and is surrounded by posters depicting highlights of his life.
The funniest thing is that Young George has his flight jacket (I think) jauntily draped over his shoulder, but I guess the artist wanted to add some dramatic flair and the jacket is not so much draped as it is flying from his shoulder.

It's a Very Stiff jacket!

"If it was windy enough to make his jacket blow like that, why wouldn't his hair be blown back, too?" Big Dog laughed.
"Maybe the wind is coming from right below..."

Memphis is Rock'n'Roll Airport. Rock and roll themed diners, an Everything Elvis shop, rock and roll memorabilia... You can tell who the rock and roll pilgrims are right away. They're the skinny British and Japanese rockabilly boys, the middle aged blues aficionados carrying guitar cases instead of roller bags, maybe that lady with the super red lips and big hair, too. If America has a Holy City, this is it. Pilgrims from all over the world come here to find Grace(land), Salvation and Redemption at the birthplace of Rock and Roll.

I wish they didn't keep focusing on Fat Elvis, though. It would have been so much nicer to have had a Young Elvis costume. Also, the Headless Elvis is a bit too disconcerting...

I was happy to be flying via Memphis yesterday, but after landing in LAX, the Jester went to work and made a fool of me. A couple of bad decisions turned a 10 minute cab ride back to the condo into a two hour bus ordeal. The 30 dollar difference just wasn't worth it! I can be a real jerk when it comes to Traveling Cheap. Guess I deserve to have it blow up in my face. Beware The Hubris, my friend!

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