Dream Big, People

Twenty years from now?
Twenty years from now?

Art Journaling is the first thing I do on waking. I don’t even get out of bed. I reach over and grab my phone and check the prompt. I sit and think. I open my journal bag and grab the book and pen and draw a picture. Then I write. Today’s prompt: What is you most outrageous dream? Two things about this prompt caught my attention. There’s some synchronicity out there. Firstly, I woke up from a very odd musical dream where Burt and I as the Gypsy Carpenters were playing a stadium sized gig with a back up band. The odd part was that I was singing on a ladder from back stage. We can analyze that some other time. Secondly, last night at dinner with my dad and Sara Gay we confessed our next big dream. Stage two of dream achievement plan accomplished. The confession came about because they asked if we were planning to get a new cat when Mimi eventually goes. No, we are not. We are planning on burying Mimi and Elvis when the times come and doing something else. More here down below.

So life dreams, the big ones, are hard to quantify. It’s a tricky thing dreaming. I could say I want to visit the moon. I do want to visit the moon. I wish I could be a universe explorer. But that’s not going to happen so I don’t spend much though on it. It’s a waste of energy.  I could also say I wish I was thirty pounds lighter and super-fit. Just not going to happen. There’s all kinds of reasons why but mainly I’d rather not be that kind of person that worries about those kinds of things.  I like to focus on dreams that I might be able to accomplish if I have the intention, resources, interest, and luck. Burt and I had a great conversation about how neither of us like to talk pie in the sky dreams but we are good at achieving things many people won’t dare to try.  The phrase “if wishes were horses” does not apply to us. I hate those conversations about if I was rich, if I was in charge, or if I was blah blah blah. I’m a down to earth. I can solve a puzzle. I have enough resources.

Here’s what I concluded today, for me, about dreams. Find a dream where you have the drive, the itch, the passion. Then look for the skills, resources, and luck you’ll need to achieve it. I don’t want to be a super famous performer. I’m happy as a community musician. I like to help our kids but I don’t want to run a school. I do want to explore the world. I want to drive. I want to speak Spanish. I want to drive the entirety of South America.

Just as the seeds of quitting work and hitting the road took root a few months before we did it eight years ago this South America idea has been sitting in the soil of our hearts and minds for a while. There are logistical problems with our current outfit. Then there are the elderly pets. There are money concerns, too. Safety, health, age…But recently we saw our window. Mimi and Elvis appear on convergent tracks of expiration. Two years at the most for either or both or them. First step towards down scaling the living arrangements: No new pets.

Last the idea saw life outside the gNash. Burt and I dared tell others we hope to drive to South America. Like all bold ideas it was met with questions and fears for our safety but also with support and excitement. It sounds like we are on teh right path.

So I insist, go find that first step to your dreams.

Below are the 5k race results. I was super pleased to see I had managed under 20 minute miles. Maybe that super-fit goal isn’t as far fetched as I thought.

The next adventure?
The next adventure?
Carrera de Todos Santos 5k
Carrera de Todos Santos 5k
Carrera de Todos Santos 5K results
Carrera de Todos Santos 5K results
Carrera de Todos Santos 5k results
Carrera de Todos Santos 5k results
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At Jack’s House

Nine toed man shops for shoes.
Nine toed man shops for shoes.

We’re on the cusp of a leap across the Atlantic to see Spain and Italy. Dad’s footing much of our expenses and we are very grateful. Meanwhile we’re racking up some bills just so we don’t embarrass him or our niece and nephew with our shabby clothing. The Gypsy Carpenters have frequented the second hand stores for so long our wardrobe is, to put it mildly, distressed and distressing. Shabby chic departed a year ago. Even all the generous hand-me-downs from family and friends don’t cover the gaps in our attire. As we headed to Jack’s and the dog kennel on I-5 we passed a huge outlet mall. We stopped there and found Burt some shoes, shirts, shorts, and a pair of pants. I nabbed a new handbag and a dress. I think we are ready to summer on the Amalfi coast. Or at least week on the coast. We won’t be hip but we won’t be stained and ragged either.

I spent quite a bit of time informing our banks and credit card companies of our plans. Automated systems cannot understand SPAIN. Please tell us where you are traveling…You’re going to Maine? No, SPAIN. You’re going to Bahrain? No, Spain. You’re going to (I kid you not) Peru? Close, they speak Spanish there…I’m in pain yelling Spain. I should have used Spanish. This happened at two companies. Eventually the computer overheats and they put a human on. Both companies informed me all charges overseas are now subject to a 3% surcharge. Wow. Talk about annoying. It used to be credit cards were the cheapest way to travel. A traveler was guaranteed the best exchange rate for the billing cycle. Not no more. I’ll be applying for an international card when we return. I filed my annoyance with both companies. The Costco card person tried to remind me that I wouldn’t get a 1% cash back dividend if I changed cards. I didn’t take the time to point out the grievous math error.

I’m finding leaving the country logistically difficult. It’s weird. We live in Mexico half the year and everything is so easy. But then when we go there I have the dogs and my car and driver. I have the cards permanently approved in Mexico. We bring cash. Among the pre-trip prep work was arranging the airport shuttle. It’s $25 a day to park and the SFO parking lot versus $63 for two to get door to door service. We’re leaving our truck at Marla’s house in Marin County. Thanks, Marla. The dogs are $39 a day for two in a kennel out here in the boonies. Mimi’s care is free. Well, sort of free. Burt installed a new water heater for his dad. Add to that the $10 a day to make the phone work in Spain and Italy. There is no such thing as a free lunch but I am not complaining. We’ll be back at work soon and make up this deficit.

 

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Dear 22 year old me,

Only two instruments were broken in the boy's class. All in good fun.
Only two instruments were broken in the boy’s class. All in good fun.

Wow, that Spanish shut y’all up. Don’t worry, it won’t happen again. Life is returning to normal. Elvis likes his happy pills. He is gamboling. Olive continues to look sad and angry but also is ready for hugs and belly rubs.

There are only 7 more writing assignments in this project. I will soon be flailing about looking for subject matter on my own. Send in your ideas, please. Today we have: Write a letter to your 22 year old self. It’s easy. Twenty-two was a watershed year and I remember much of it clearly.

Dear Susan,

You were absolutely correct to divorce that SOB you married at 20. You were absolutely correct that going back to school was what you needed to do after dropping out to marry. You will make it through many tough times ahead and remembering the fortitude you had to divorce and get a job and work through college will provide strength and comfort. Your foresight will enable you to support yourself for the rest of your life. You knew all that. Too bad you didn’t ask for the car though. You should demand a car. He had several. It’s not too late get a car. You didn’t take anything and you should have taken a car.

xoxox,

Susan

p.s. Taking Cara back to school with you was a great idea. I hope she wasn’t too scarred by it. While you are caring for her you realized you hated your husband and were happier when he was away. Thanks, 8 year old Cara.

All of us and Burt, too, fit in our 1991 Exploder.
All of us and Burt, too, fit in our 1991 Exploder.
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Semi-Retired is Darn Fun

Welcome to Helena chicken dinner with Rosemary and Ed.
Welcome to Helena chicken dinner with Rosemary and Ed.

This is our first summer free of work in 5 years and 3 weeks in we are loving it. No work deadlines are looming and we can do whatever we want. A very freeing feeling. The first 2 weeks were spent traveling up the west coast and reconnecting with left coast friends and family and making trailer repairs. The last week has been in the Helena area. Helena was home for 30 years for Burt and 20 for me. Connections are diverse and deep. It’s always hard to figure out what to do and who to see. Generally we play it loose and see what happens. This was our first visit in two years. Many connections have naturally faded and some have strengthened despite time and distance. My friend Ed and I think it all depends on a person’s preferred method of touching base. There is texting, facebooking, emailing, phoning , snail mail and more… If you do not share the same preferred manner of communication the lines are quiet. Add to that the demands of jobs and children and who has time to chat?

This visit has had more elements of loss than earlier returns to our former hometown. Some people have noticeably declined and others died. My musical mentors are a generation older than me and the changes there are most noticeable but the loss of my peer, Linda, the sharpest pain. We had Linda’s husband over for dinner with Rosemary and Ed and it was a joy to reconnect. I only cried once when I learned half of Linda’s ashes were spread up on our favorite running trail. Linda and I ran it together the first time when I was 34. That run became a regular part of our lives for many years. From that 7 1/2 mile route we hatched our idea to run a marathon. The ridge trail with its varied terrain and expansive views became the mainstay training run as we added longer and longer weekend runs to our schedule. Frequently the ridge trail was the last bit of a 20+ mile endeavor.

Aside from our grueling and expanding schedule of eating with friends we managed to play tennis and bridge and music AND visit the doctor for checkups. We’ve scheduled some shows for July in Helena with former bandmates Mike and Barb. Announcements coming soon. We also took a tour of the former Asarco lead smelter with Betsy. Betsy and her team have done an astounding job reclaiming this heavily contaminated industrial site. I feel very lucky to see the work I first imagined happening in 1998 nearing its conclusion. I feel even luckier that I didn’t actually have to do most of the work.

After 5 non-stop days of play (thanks Ed and Rosemary for the constant doggie daycare) we headed to the greater Yellowstone area to retrieve our rowboat from Sue and Jay’s river house. The Sea King rides again. We are headed to Montana’s northwest territories and her many streams and lakes. Fish will be eaten. Jen and Robin will be visited. Pinochle will be played. A few nails might be nailed. But first Yellowstone….

Brunch with Claire
Brunch with Claire
Up on the slag pile again.
Up on the slag pile again.
By pass and new channel of Prickly Pear Creek at former Asarco lead smelter.
By pass and new channel of Prickly Pear Creek at former Asarco lead smelter.
Pickup tennis match.
Pickup tennis match. We ran into a friend of Burt’s. These two have skills but we managed to beat them. A grudge rematch will be scheduled soon.
Jay looks like he's giving Burt a lecture but he's not.
Jay looks like he’s giving Burt a lecture but he’s not.
Burt gowning around.
Burt gowning around.
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Last class this year

Lucero, Daniela, Anahomy,
Lucero, Daniela, Anahomy, Yerasca, Frixia, Mareli, Vince, Janet, Paola.

I did learn all their names but like a mother with many kids I didn’t always apply them to the correct kid. Yesterday was our last class of this season in Mexico. we are packing and making arrangements to vacate the premises. My guy is going to watch the property and occasionally water. Tools and toys moved out of the truck and trailer in January are moving back into the truck and trailer in June. It was a completely different season than previous stays. The surf was down. We weren’t inspired to perform. We did learn to play bridge and birded the heck out of the neighboring areas. And we got involved in the lives of our neighborhood kids. Next year I hope we add more music and more surfing.

I am already thinking about six months from now because I still have lots of ideas. My desire to teach music has blossomed into teaching other things. Arty things, exercise things, English things. I’m thinking along the lines of start small. Help a couple of kids but help them deeply. Take them places, show them things.

As part of our packing we assessed and purged a bunch of clothes and bedding. Stuff left behind by Jen and Robin and other visitors went into 4 big bags. I had some dresses I no longer wore, too. The bags were in our car when we picked up the kids and they spotted it. Some of these kids come from very, very stressed economic situations.  They live in shacks. They don’t have reliable vehicles. Their clothes don’t fit. They are surrounded by wealthy gringos. Extreme poverty has given these particular kids eagle eyes. They saw the bags of clothes in the car and just straight up asked if they could have them. I had planned to find a way to give them to them without making them uncomfortable. I need not have worried. We went through them together so I could help split them between the two main families and each individual girl. Everybody was happy. Blankets and towels and hand bags and dresses and shoes. Yippee.

One of these families has a granny that is 102 years old. April and I joke that we are afraid to even look at her because our glance could turn her to dust. Granny used to sit on the street and catch the rays every day two years ago. I thought she had died because I had not seen her this winter. I guess she was hibernating. Recently she’s been out. I’m hoping she got one of the new blankets.

This could be the last post for a while. I presume we’ll have intermittent access until we reach the states. xoxoxo

Mareli, Daniela, Yerasca
Mareli, Daniela, Yerasca
Vince shows me his zombie moves.
Vince shows me his zombie moves.
Class and t-shirt
Class and t-shirt
Cancion Mixteca
Cancion Mixteca
Last Hokey Pokey
Last Hokey Pokey
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Shopping Like Crazy

My newly polished tootsies
My newly polished tootsies

We left Portal two days ago. We got to San Diego and found our friend sick with a terrible cold so we abandoned him and headed north to LA to see Burt’s Aunt Carol and Uncle George and cousins. We are burning through our hard earned wages like we won the Powerball. I have a new iPhone (the 6s), yoga mat, clothing, and a 6 month supply of hair conditioner, chocolate and tampons. Mimi has cat related supplies that will hopefully last as long as she does. The Mim-ster is officially 17 years old. The dogs only got some biscuits and a bag of food. They will have to eat Mexican Costco dog food for the duration. Burt has a supply of shaving cream, dental floss, and cooking essentials. The trailer is overflowing with groceries and DVDs and plain old stuff.

Aunt Carol took us out for some much needed grooming. I got my fingers and toes done and, and, and my eyebrows. My visual impairment (progressive lenses that never have the focus in the right spot) and the dim light in the trailer makes eyebrow plucking very hard. I’d rather higher out the job than face the grim realities of seeing my aging flesh in direct sunlight with a magnifying glass.

Tomorrow I am going to try to get the new phone updated with all the data and apps my old phone was using. It could be a rough transition. Don’t panic when we fall off the internet Sunday morning. It could be phone issues or just Mexico.

The phone purchase filled me with trepidation and I had been procrastinating despite my 3 1/2 year old 4s showing signs of an imminent demise. The battery only held a charge for an hour and the glass front had become sensitive to any pressure. I was but dialing and texting people every time I put my phone in my pocket. I didn’t want to pay more for a new phone. I liked the 4s size and it’s camera is great. I was feeling techno-phobic. Lucky for me I found a great guy, Anthony, at the Verizon desk in the San Juan Capistrano Costco. Anthony got me $200 in rebates and a cheaper data plan with more data. My new phone and larger data plan are actually costing us less a month, even without the rebates. What a surprise. And no contract.

Back to Aunt Carol and Uncle George. Aunt Carol is Burt’s mother’s sister. She just moved into the house Burt’s dad, Jack, was born in. This house has been in the family, on one side or the other, for over 85 years. Carol’s son John bought it from Jack in the 80s and now Carol is renting it from her son. Norma, Burt’s grandmother, was the original family owner with Burt’s grandfather.  They bought it before 1929. When Carol moved in this past June she planted a rose bush that she has moved from house to house to house almost all her adult life. Norma gave Carol the rose bush many, many years ago. Isn’t that a sweet thing?

What to eat: 2EEs in Pasadena.
What to eat: 2EEs in Pasadena. Uncle George and Aunt Carol.
Burt is manly enough to get his feet tidied up.
Burt is manly enough to get his feet tidied up.
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Closing in on it…

False Portal Peak
False Portal Peak and beyond

I’m in the gNash and Burt is outside attempting a repair of the steps into the trailer. Two weeks into living life in a 22′ travel trailer we mangled the stairs when we forgot to put them up while moving from one campsite to another campsite. I happened to be riding in the trailer when rock met steps and it was so jarring I haven’t dared to ride in back again. Since that day 6 years ago the stairs have never been right. First up was a patch job in Northern California by the guy who welded our bumper back on. (Yeah, the bumper kind of fell of right away, too.) The stairs were stable but leaned a wee bit to the right.

Over the years the stairs have been rebolted, propped up with wood, and abandoned completely. Like dealing with black water they became a general lifestyle hazard that kept us on our toes, or faces when we weren’t paying attention. Elvis and I are the only ones to regularly face plant coming out of the trailer. Everyone else has mad moving steps skills. The other day one side of the stairs completely detached from the trailer while I was using them. I managed to stay upright when the final break occurred. It was like snow boarding. I just road the stairs to the ground. Still, I’m glad I have stout bones and a long history of learning to safely fall in Judo.

After 6 years Burt has decided something MUST be done. I (despite being the #1 victim) remain ambivalent. I think it must be harder to watch me fall on my head over and over again than it is for me to take the actual falls. I guess it’s love. So he’s out there doing something. Again. We’ve considered ordering new steps and having them welded into place but that would delay our departure to Mexico. I’d rather spend 6 more years minding my footing than delay our trip south.

You’d think we could have planned ahead and ordered stairs last spring. Oh well. Below are some things we did remember to get before blowing out of the US. New eye glasses, a new wetsuit, Dr. Who DVDs…

…Also some work pictures. Today we tiled. Only a couple days left to work. We can make  it.

We are planning ahead
We are planning ahead. A new wetsuit for Mexico.
really planning ahead
Really planning ahead. New glasses.
Hanging doors
Hanging doors
Gutter folding machine
Gutter folding machine
Hose bib into a sink
Hose bib into a sink
The wandering board.
The wandering board. This board has been a shelf in a basement and a well house for 30 years. Now it is being promoted to molding.
Custom made work desk
Custom made work desk
My job
My job
Laying tile
Laying tile
I took out the sliding glass doors and didn't break a thing.
I took out the sliding glass doors and didn’t break a thing.
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El Torneo de Tenis

Burt's #1 fan, Jasub.
Burt’s #1 fan, Jasub.

I have loyally and happily (mostly) attended Burt’s tournament tennis play for three years. I give pep talks and cheers. I analyze the opponents. I do a pretty good job of being wife and fan. This year’s tournament went pretty well for Burt but I lost my job as number one fan. This cutie pie on the left is Jasub, son of my Spanish teacher, and former music student of ours. One run of Go Burt, Go Burt, Go Burt! out of his five year old mouth and it was obvious I could not compete. Sadly despite the most vociferous cheering section Burt lost the game.

Tomorrow we hit the road. Sad to be going and happy that we are sad to be going is the mood around here. I’m glad we’re never feeling like it’s time to go. Mexico is our home and this year we made great progress towards a life of blended gringo and Mexican friends and activities. Plans are already brewing for next year’s projects.

The rumpus room and bodega are nearly sealed up. The gNash is cleaned and organized. This year we’ve hired some staff to keep watch on the place while we’re gone. It’s official, we have a gardener and family. For $50 a month he or his wife or father-in-law are going to water and check the property three time a month. That’s the plan anyway. You never know what will happen when the boss is away. Hurricanes and family disasters can ruin the most ambitious workers. I do know that our guy, German, is a nice young man with a nice family. We’ve helped them a lot and he and his wife, Vikki, are eager to help us if they can. Part of the plan is for them to weed and clear debris before our arrival next year to make settling in easier. I’m pretty optimistic we’ll be wondering why we hadn’t made arrangements like this in previous years.

Another sunflower and Burt.
Another sunflower and Burt.
Mimi proving a cat can go old school and lie on a legal pad if there isn't a keyboard available.
Mimi proving a cat can go old school and lie on a legal pad if there isn’t a keyboard available.
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Running out of Mexican Time

Soon this flea filled rolling aluminum box we call home will be on the way north. I can’t say I’m ready to leave but I am looking forward to ease of communications with family and friends and a few follow up trips to the cardiologist. The last week has been eventful medically. My heart palpitations are on the rise in number and intensity after a nice month of smooth pulses. I’ve been dizzy and tired. Most likely I was just pushing too hard since I was feeling so good. We’ll find out soon. But because I’m kind of puny there isn’t much to report. Time to eat spaghetti.

 

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Ione Gig Cancelled…Music up on MySpace

The people of Ione, Oregon have canceled their fundraiser because all the important people are planning to be out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend.  We are overly bummed about the cancellation of a non-paying gig.  I think we were eager to get in the swing of traveling and getting involved with people in the places we go instead of just passing through.  We’ll just have to head on down the road and see what we can drum up on the coast.  If you have any ideas, pass them on.

We got our recordings converted to mp3s yesterday.  My fiddle teacher, Will Harmon, did it during my lesson yesterday.  The are posted at www.myspace.com/themittelstadts.  You can click on the link on the left to hear them for yourself.  They will be posted here soon as we figure out how.

I went out with some of my former co-workers last night.  We had some wine at Sommaliers.  I miss them, but I do not miss work at all.  I was especially happy to have Sandy Wardell come out and bid me farewell.  Sandy’s husband John had been my boss for 17 years before he died this summer.  Sandy had some great suggestions for places to visit on the Oregon coast.  I’m hoping she remembers the name of the cheap seafood restaurant before its too late.

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