It’s been three weeks and I am still not caught up on this blog. The European trip takes so much time for just a little bit of research. Meanwhile my knee hurts and so does my hip. We averaged more than 8 miles a day for two weeks. I’ve been trying to rest the legs and, still, I cannot catch up to present life.
We already worked in Alpine, OR. Currently we are working for Baja friends in Seattle. Burt is working. I am typing. I help some. Seattle is nice and cool. We’ve played some Bridge and some music. My mandolin went in for much needed maintenance and it is way more fun to play. The dogs have a good yard to visit. There is also a dog park 10 minutes away. Elvis thinks he is the doorman. Nobody can enter without a thorough nose frisking.
Mimi wasn’t eating when we got back from Europe. It was also in the high 90s. She has resumed eating but is noticeably odd and smelly. I wonder how many years she can hang on as odd and smelly. I remember that tune from the TV show Friends, Smelly Cat. It might be time to learn it. HERE it is. According to the song it’s all my fault.
When we finish this artist’s studio here we will return to Oregon. We have more work in Alpine and Oakridge.
Just three days ago we were leaving Pescadero. Today I was at a two-story Bed Bath and Beyond with only pesos in my pocket. It all happened so fast I forgot to get U.S. dollars. Good thing I carry plastic. The drive was very easy. I slept. Burt drove. Years ago I used to sleep as soon as I got in a car. I traveled all over the south at napping pace. A couple of decades ago I lost the ability. Maybe the beauty and drama of the inter-mountain west was more interesting than the pine trees of the southeast. Now I suddenly can sleep again. It’s a nice way to cover the world. Burt puts in a book on CD. I check out. Every hour or so I have to wake up and change the CD. Sometimes Burt has to fill in the gaps in the story. This trip was Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Instructions. Entertaining science. Stupid plot. Poorly disguised science education. A for effort, Barbie, but if people don’t believe in climate change and the disasters that await this book won’t change any minds. It also irks me that Barbara reads her own work. It’s too precious. Her honeyed southern accent seems to self delight in her own wit. For crying out loud you sound too darn happy with yourself. Remind me to never read my stuff out loud. But maybe I will since this is fact and hers is fiction. I am writing about me after all.
Here’s some gross me stuff. I have been managing a bit of a female infection down there as we travel. A few days ago I was overcome by female troubles. I was gonna try and ignore it and see if it cleared up. Burt dragged me to the pharmacist. He helped me ask the pharmacist for the hongo medicine because I was too shy. The young man was totally professional. Silly me. The hongos were cleared and I realized I might have a UTI. Driving 1200 miles in three days with a UTI might be the definition of discomfort. Not exactly agony but always on my mind. I never peed my pants but I was reduced to climbing in the back seat with a Tupperware while stuck in LA traffic. The lyrics from two songs swapped back and forth in my head… ‘I drove all day and never even left LA’ and ‘if I ever get off of this LA freeway’ as I executed the move. Thank you yoga.
Today I called my BFF as I was waiting for an urgent care to open. I thought we’d catch up while I waited. When I told her where I was she said,”so and so’s here. Talk to him.” So and so happens to be my primary care physician and BFF’s husband. I try not to abuse our relationship but this was the perfect situation. Doctor hubby had me relay my symptoms and agreed with my diagnosis and sent a prescription to Costco saving me an office visit. Do you have a urinary tract infection? Painful urination and cloudy pee (the Tupperware revealed this) are the hallmarks. I was doubtful because there was none of the urgency I remembered from my last infection some 20 years ago. I can blame this one on menopause and wearing a wet suit and my husband.
Swamp water and mud has a mighty aroma. Smells like love to a dog. Yesterday we took the dogs to Playa Las Palmas and did a bird stroll. I’m prepping to take out a pair of paying clients next week so I thought I’d tour the local bird hot spots and see what I could see. Most of the water is gone from our local oasis and a bunch of deep dark mud remains. Olive and Elvis plunged into the reeds and found some fetid, foul water and happy danced among the green. Swampy water reminds me of the back of a forgotten gym locker or a particular closet in my grandma’s house. Stale, anaerobic, moist, decay. The decay turned out to be actual rather than imaginary when Olive dug up the skull of a raccoon from her wallow. Mmmmmmm, good!
From the swamp we headed to the beach. My dogs took off at a run and left me trying to decided if I was seeing Common or Belding’s Yellowthroats. I counted 8 house finches and decided it was a Common Yellowthroat. When I finally looked up to find the dogs I saw them about 100 yards away rolling in a dead sea lion. Great Googly Woogly. This was a banner day to be a dog. Not such a great day to be a canine companion. Sara Gay and dad had mentioned seeing this poor dreature the day before and I had forgotten. My poor excuse for a nose could not detect the rotting flesh but it was obvious the dogs smelled it from a long way back. I saw the dogs see me and hear me and they got in one last roll when they decided I was too far away to exact a punishment. As I approached they ran off and kept a safe distance from me. They knew the fun was over. I looked over the carcass and decided it was too disgusting to snatch the skull. The smell was overwhelming up close. The turkey vultures hovered nearby waiting to get back to their feast. I remembered reading vultures don’t like putrefaction and pondered how far along flesh can be before it is too gross for a TuVu. Maybe a sea lion is just too tasty to pass by even with maggots.
Personal Manifesto: After yesterday there is so much hurt and pain in me that I do not want to manifest. Our goal for today was to write about our personal manifesto. I want peace. I want community. I want enough. I don’t know where it is. I told Burt I am so angry I could harm the human that did this to my dog. If I can’t get over this how can a person get over a bomb that killed their child or any of the horrible things we intentionally do to one another? I will get over it. I am already getting over it but I hurt.
I believe the dog was a used as a tool to intimidate us, the community. Once, twenty years ago I was working on a big, local enforcement action. My dog was poisoned. It’s not the dog. It’s the dog as our guardian, representative, friend, soul mate. That dog survived and so did Olive. Here a large condo complex owner doesn’t want locals and dogs on his beach. It’s illegal to kill people and it’s illegal to keep us off the beach. Kill a dog and a lot of locals will stay away. It was even implied that I was to blame for walking my dog there. Heavy sigh. I cannot manifest why that is the wrong thing to say to a person. Gross alert…I can only manifest the desire to go back and take a dump in full view on their beach. I’ll get over it.
Ollie-belle is recovering. She’s eating, peeing, sleeping. It remains to be seen if she has permanent eye damage. Today her pupils won’t contract. She cannot see outside. It’s too bright. It’s likely just a residual of the muscle relaxants in her body. The drugs can take several days to clear.
On the getting over it side of life the Gypsy Carpenters were asked to play some songs at a women’s rally in Todos Santos this morning. Our patron wanted Spanish and English songs that the crowd could sing and that were apolitical. Tourists and foreign nationals cannot have political events in Mexico. Due to their history of colonialism and occupation Mexico frowns upon outsiders telling it what to do. No problem for me. We are guests here. This event was bicultiral and bilingual. I tried for two weeks to find a native born singer to join our band for the event. I had no luck until I got a text at 9:30 PM last night from Mireya. We met Mireya a few weeks ago at the Hablando Mexicano school where I take Spanish lessons. She can sing. So last night I texted her the names of the songs and she learned them on her own and then showed up at 8:30 AM this morning ready to join the band. This was a gratifying moment in my effort to work in community and I hope it is the start of a new collaboration.
If I have to manifest today it is I want to manifest community music as a way to build bridges and work with my neighbors. There’s a Facebook video circulating of us doing Cielito Lindo. Check it out.
Here’s hoping for the best after just experiencing the worst. I noticed a wobble in Olive’s step and then some drooling. By the time I covered the ten yards between us she was convulsing. Poison. That was my guess. Just 5 minutes earlier I had trouble getting her to come and I spotted her off eating something. I picked her limp body up off the ground and literally threw her in the car and drove away. She was in the far back and I could not see her. Dead or alive or somewhere in between. The car left the ground twice on the horrible beach road and then I hit 85 driving the highway to the vet. I made it in 10 minutes. I pondered the irony of killing myself and both dogs by driving like a maniac in our decrepit car but I could not slow down.
I screamed, “Ayudame, ayudame” as I ran into the vet’s office. Lucky for us all, he was available. Olive was doused with a hydrogen peroxide and several intravenous medications immediately. She had a high fever that was causing her convulsions. She pooped on me. I mistakenly thought I’d know if it was life or death when I reached the vet. It was in between still. The vet couldn’t say if she could survive. I regained my composure. It will be whatever it will be. I had done my best and so had the vet.
After an hour of treatments her fever was down and she could stand. The vet said to come back at 5, so I left. Olive is under observation. Hopefully she won’t need to be sedated. That is a sign she’s taking a turn for the worse. It’s impossible to tell how much might have gotten into her system. Burt is off on a day long adventure out of cell range. There’s no point calling anyway. He’d just be dragged into limbo with me. By the time he returns the question should be answered. It’s easier.
I thought my discourse on duality would be about feeling more at home as a foreigner in a foreign land than I do as a native in my homeland. Not today.
I have so many hard to articulate thoughts on the Malheur jury verdict. Firstly, it renews my pain of having spent 5 years on an ultimately futile criminal prosecution. I know how hard it is for the feds to win a criminal prosecution. Without actually taking bullets into federal law enforcement bodies it’s easy to say we were only peacefully exercising our rights. It’s either Ruby Ridge and Waco or it’s a stand-off without escalation and these SOBs get to walk free. It’s got my goat. I personally advocated for law enforcement to be patient at Malheur and avoid violence. I find myself hardening against this fringe that thinks all of America feels the way they do. I hate that feeling. I want to be able to see things from their perspective. Secondly, I know I’m dreaming here, but perhaps the right wing conspiracy theorists can see that the deck is indeed not stacked against them. They were acquitted by the same system they say has taken their rights. From their perspective they can say the system is working…
Meanwhile, we went on a short birding excursion. Yesterday we worked and played Bridge. A few days ago we tried to get in to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This museum is the latest and last to be built on the National Mall at Washington DC. The NMAAHC (my new acronym) opened last month and tickets are free but all claimed through March. You can show up at the door daily for a limited release of timed tickets but you’ve got to get there very early. Burt and I were strategizing a plan for an early arrival when a neighbor said, “Hey, do you want these tickets?” “Yes!” We were very excited. D.C. here we come! And there we went. Parking is very difficult with a vehicle taller than 6′. After driving from parking garage to parking garage or 9:00 AM arrival turned into 9:45 and we were three quarters of a mile away with on street parking for only two hours. Our tickets would let us in the museum at 10:15. We walked as fast as my slowly beating heart would allow. At 10:09 we were at the door. Sad news is our parking time was already 25% gone. Instead of spending 45 minutes inside or facing the towing of the truck and the Olvis, too, we gave our tickets away to two very happy people waiting outside. Like ticket angels we showed up and delivered entrance to the museum to two strangers just minutes before they were valid.
Once we let go of that dream we took advantage of the fine autumn weather and walked the rest of the mall. We also came up with a leave the dogs in the truck at a metro station and take the train in plan for another day.
It’s fall in Montana. Leaves are turning. Trout are hungry. Stickers and burrs abound. Olive is caught in a Catch-22 of freeze or collect stickers. To take her outside with us with long hair is to invite a coat full of needles. To shave her is to guarantee hypothermia. Since we have no plans to head south soon we are debating a shave and a new coat or do we spend more hours cleaning her fur. Burr removal is a thankless chore. Olive hates it and resents every minute of our work. Yesterday we went fishing at the confluence of the Dearborn and Missouri rivers. There was an abundance of those football shaped burrs and some hound’s tongue for variety. After 2 hours of fishing we spent 40 minutes of de-burring. The fun to work ratio is pretty low. Anybody have advice? Should we shave? Should we keep up the removal? Mall walk? Leave Olive home?
Below is a raspberry tort I made for a dinner we had with Sue and Jay. Pea soup, salad and tort. The tort was from a recipe for Italian plum cake. The NY Times says it’s the most requested recipe in the history of the newspaper. I find that hard to believe since prior to this summer I have only known my grandmother to regularly make plum cake. I made one once a decade or so ago but I found the recipe on-line. I loved my grandmother’s plum cake but it was a rare seasonal treat. We probably got one piece a year. Burt’s daughter made one last week and like learning a new word the recipe was everywhere I looked. Facebook and the NY Times were filled with it. The benefit of the flood of commentary and news articles is I found the suggested variations. This cake is ready for anything you can throw at it. Since we had a bunch of Sue and Jay’s raspberries in our freezer we went that route. Soon I’m going to try the canned Portal pears. It’s simple and tasty. Give it a go. I used a casserole dish. The gNash is too small for a springform pan.
Also below is a helpful Public Service Announcement. Clean out the grooves on your log splitter before they fill with a rock hard debris. This log splitter had filled to the point that the splitter could no longer split. It took heavy application of hammer and chisel to remove the pressure hardened splinters from the groove. Team Gypsy Carpenter and Sue got the job done but we all agreed preventative cleaning would have been easier.
Today (Tuesday) we are in Whitefish, Montana. Locally known as Whiteflesh due to the pervasive, low-hanging clouds, Whitefish is another Montana spot I have only rarely visited. We were brought up to this northwestern nook big sky country because it is currently the home of Burt’s daughter Jen. Added bonus: Jan has a huge fenced yard and a spot to park the gNash. Even if she was merely a friend she’d be high on the visitation list. Jen took us on a walk at Woods Lake this fine drizzly day. Sixty-four degrees and mostly cloudy. Perfect hiking weather. We’ve all been thrilled to find ourselves in Montana during a wet summer rather than one bedeviled with fires and public land closures and thick smoke. There’s still time for all that but this week of July rain has surely delayed if not eliminated the fire season.
Last night we picked pie cherries from a neighbor’s tree. Today we’re going to have to do it again because we ate the whole pie. Pies must be made and eaten while the season is upon us. Today’s hike was about 3.3 miles. We took an hour to cover the first mile because there were so many birds to try and see and Burt found a ball of mating garter snakes. The ball fell apart as soon as I tried to get a picture but we saw at least 6 distinct snakes. Apparently a fertile female attracts males from all around and they all get at it in one big blob. Since time was an issue (Jen has a job) we finished the last 2.3 miles in 40 minutes. Yay, me. Now I am pooped.
There are presently 5 dogs at this RVers Nirvana. Three dogs (Olive, Elvis, and Plum) are visiting. Lupita, a 3 month old heeler is Jen and Robin’s new canine companion. Lupita is darling. Pita is trying to make Olive love her but so far Olive remains uninterested in her attention. Olive prefers a more mature, tall, dark, handsome dog. We took 4 dogs on this morning’s hike and they were admirably well behaved. A swarm of kids on mountain bikes did not cause a row. Lupita won most of the attention and that was just fine with kid-despising Olive. Not one pup ran off during our almost 2 hour walk. And no fast moving mountain bikers were chased. Coincidentally, this trail system was discussed at length during the trail event where we played music. I can attest that the system is well signed and mapped. They even have posted numbers to refer to if you happen to become lost or hurt. You can call EMS (presuming you have cell coverage) and tell them you were mauled by a bear at sign #77. The EMTs will know where to find you.
Our symptoms remain unabated. Throbbing heads, laryngitis, mucous, coughing, body aches, fever. It’s the flu. We are just miserable. To pass the time we spent $1000 pesos on a bunch of TV shows on DVD. Game of Thrones, Network…I can’t remember and I’m too drained to look. Instead of dwelling on our discomfort I present you with some pictures of a trip from a couple of days ago.
As part of our effort to bird the heck out of the area we visited a spot behind the dunes that sometimes holds water. I presume it’s brackish given the puddles proximity to the ocean but it fulls with mostly rainwater. I tried to count sand pipers and plovers but my dog and my binoculars failed me. Olive was too tempted by the shallow water and gooey mud. She tore the place up. Meanwhile my binoculars are broken. The center part that hold the two optical tubes together partially detached. The lenses are cockeyed. Looking through is instant vertigo. The only way I can use my formerly fantastic binoculars is if I close one eye and use them like a telescope. Spotting the birds is much more difficult with one eye. Just a big bummer. In summary: I counted a couple of birds with one eye and then Olive chased them away.
Meanwhile Burt was on the beach having a drastically bad time with Elvis. A poor sea lion had beached herself and appeared to be grievously injured and dying. Of course Elvis was onto the situation before Burt. With Burt screaming himself hoarse Elvis chased the weakened animal into the ocean. Elvis went into the waves with it and made some kind of effort to herd the thing back onto the sand. Burt said Elvis took quite a beating in the shore break before he heeded Burt’s commands to leave it. With Elvis back under control the sea lion crawled back onto shore. It was moving poorly. A sad scene indeed. The only thing that could of cheered us up was if a great white shark came out and gave the lobo marino instant death. But then what fun would swimming be after seeing something like that?