I’ve been back from the Estados Unidos a couple of days now. It’s good to be home. My own crazy home. From the PV airport I took the local bus into El Centro but couldn’t bring myself to lug my heavy bags full of essential Trader Joe & Ikea stuff up the hill to Camp Aldama, so I took a cab. The whole tab: 450 pesos or $4.50. I dumped the stuff inside and sprinted across town to get Margaret from Liana’s locked parking area. I waited an hour for someone to show up with a key. But it was a good hour. Dana & Mark Zellar, an expat couple, from NYC, were singing Broadway tunes in an art gallery across the street for a fundraising benefit: ” If I were a rich man…la la la.. The place was packed and folks spilled out onto the street. Sweet.Come to find out the gate only looked locked. But who cares about that.
I feel heady with my new legal-to-drive status. Under the dappled sky lit by a quarter slice moon, I headed up the Rio Cuale to Paso Ancho to get Sophie. I bumped and jolted over cobblestones many of which I’m certain were last anchored into the street around 1912. I zipped along, dodging people, critters & hot carts of roasted papas and plantains. I dipped into culverts and leaped over speed bumps that are called topes or sleeping policemen here, as if Margaret were Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Not even the dumpster diving horses were fazed. Many people let their livestock mosey around town at night and collect them in the morning as they do on the Lions Trail from Tehachapi to Bodfish.
Carolina, the primo dog sitter in Paradise, has a lively, colorful, bungalow that she built herself. The dogs share the space with her; no outside kennels for her guests. It’s the Regency complete with grass for rolling and your own bed. This evening in addition to Sophi, she was hosting three chihuahuas, her adorable mutt, and a rowdy golden retriever who just wanted to play, dammit. Sophie tolerated the crowd like an aging great aunt.
On the way home I stopped at Rizzos, the local market that caters to everyone. After asking three different clerks for leche de soya we finally found it. Soy Dream-SoyMilk Original Classic USDA organic. The boy read the label. “Soymelk. soymelk.” Si, I said. “Milk – leche.” Ahhh.” I threw it into the cart and headed thru the aisles for peanut butter to go with the bunch of celery I had found. Celery on steroids. Truly, the stock or bunch is as long and thick as the calf of my leg. I am not lying. But, all of the Mexican peanut butter I could find seemed to be a product of the US but had added sugar. Why is that? Finally, I found Laura Scudders Natural Peanut Butter. Yes!
This morning, in the light of day, I saw the prices of my coveted items. Soymilk: 62.42. Over six dollars for soy milk. Jesus, Mary & Joseph! And the peanut butter with nothing but fuckin’ peanuts: even more 63.26. Good thing I’m wealthy.
I’ve only been gone six months and all the kids I know have grown like they ate one of Alice’s magic cookies. My grandson, Avery, still 2 til April, aside for asking, “Grandma, What you doin?” a zillion times a day is so-so grown up, he has formed definite opinions. “No. I not using the potty. Not now. It’s not so good.” We bonded in train town.
I loved visiting with my friends and their families. Michelle and Miranda, Stan, Sabrina and Miles. I kept Stan up way past his bed time. We met at the famous Holy city Zoo comedy club on Clement St in San Francisco, maybe around 1980. What a treat.
And Tehachapi is home. Since I was ten I’ve never lived anyplace where I feel so loved. And my friends know how to play. Well, just look at the picture. There is Pat, Kathy, & me in the Bouldin’s hot tub. Dave is our personal ‘pool boy.’ Cindy took the very tasteful, don’t you think, picture. Not one nipple showing. How did she do that? Dave, delivering libations, including the aged, pure agave tequila Kathy requested I bring from Mexico said, “Being pool boy is lots of fun.” I admire him most though because he is a man who weeps from the force of love for his granddaughter, Lilly.
Cooper, my granddaughter, who is a young woman of 14 now, wrote her name in the wet concrete on the stoop at Falling Apple Ranchita when I bought it-6 years ago? Some of my son’s ashes are at the Kirby’s: most of them are in Pennsylvania nestled in a box Steve made in the 7th. grade. Annette, my partner in crime, my sister. Family. Sisterhood. It’s a true thing in that small mountain town.
But I got off the track.
The Lathams came over and helped us drink the tequila. One shot at at a time, it was gone. Poof. The following morning, the lovely tequila showed it’s class by not a single one of us having a hangover. When I was 5, my grandpa took me on a train to NY where I attended my first horse race.” Always bet on class, Honey,” he advised. He was a wise man.
Where did the time go?On Coronado Island I stayed in Cooper’s room as I usually do. This time we planned for our Hawaii trip this summer. And we had sushi twice and Vietnamese food. It was like having a three day sleep over with a good friend.
My daughter, Alice, is a photo maven. Her walls are lush with photos that evoke memories for me: my son laughing with Johnny Cash, Alice, age four or five, pushing her younger sister and friend Marvin in the stroller. Her arms are straight up because she can barely reach the handle, striding. It’s a b&w photo I took and printed in our basement, in the old days.
She has a Ruth Bernhard nude print. (she gave me one a few years ago for Christmas). Beauty in a box. There was a woman who knew light. She could see. What a wonderful photographer. Ruth just died in the last year or so. She was 101! Ruth Bernhart. Wow.
And I love to shop with my daughters. Alice has this eye for detail that I’ve never had. Franz, her dad, said I was knitted with a big needle- loopy. I’m not sure what his point was? Maybe it had nothing to do with detail.
Today, from my window I watched with binoculars as a mom whale taught her baby to breach. I can tell you it takes many belly flops, patience and perseverance to become a ballerina. The mom swam around her while the baby repeated the moves over and over. I bet they were out front at least 15 minutes, just doing these maneuvers. After they left two more showed up within the hour. It was a trip.
“Damn the lights. Watch the cars. The lights never killed nobody.” -Jackie
Paz en tierra
& have a raucous St Paddy’s day