Sunday, June 27, 2010

Roll Call

Turtle is back in da house! After an absence of several weeks from the quiet Glen Echo Creek pool in Adams Park, the turtle was once again sunning himself on his rock as I passed by today on the way to the lake. It took a moment to be sure it was he, as he was so covered in seaweed, which also trailed off his back and down behind him, that I thought it might just be a new rock on top of his larger customary perching rock. In order to confirm what I thought I was seeing, I strayed off the sidewalk and moved to the railing to get a closer look. This was a bit much for the turtle, and he quickly jumped into the water, disappearing under the mud and murk that lay on the creek bed.

I had not evidently scared him quite to death, as on my return trip from the lake 20 minutes later he was back in position, but with somewhat less seaweed on him.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A “Typical” Day (Part III)

Hi, Dear Readers,

Forthwith, the report on the next segment of the day I was describing in my last two posts:

When we last left our aspiring hero, I had just finished changing the tire on Linda's car. My next move was to change out of my grubby tire-changing clothes and, believe it or not, take a nap. I assure you, readers, these are no ordinary naps we've been taking these days. These are power naps. Because of the lifestyle we've designed for ourselves, I have learned to set a timer for 10 minutes and do some fast, deep sleeping. None of this fooling around with “drifting off to sleep.” There's no time for that. So my head hit the pillow, I slept heavily for 10 minutes, then awoke refreshed and ready for whatever the Muse was calling for next.

In this case she was calling for me to feed and walk the dog. I put on some nicer, around-the-house clothes, fed Spritzie, and took her for a stroll around the block. As we were walking back into the house, Taj and Evelyn pulled up in Evelyn's minivan with Taj' new mattress inside. They asked if I would help him take it upstairs to his room. I took off the beautiful rust-colored leather jacket that Marty and Ruth had given me when we first arrived in California, and went out to the car to lend a hand.

I change costumes as often as five times a day. I have to notice what clothes I'm wearing at any given moment in case I get surprised with a new activity. Don't want to get my nicer duds dirty or torn while doing something like moving a mattress. And, just because I have a construction project planned for some time later in the day doesn't mean Lynne wants to have to look at me in work clothes while I'm hanging out with her or socializing with our housemates.

After Taj and I hauled his mattress up the stairs from the street, and then up the next flight of stairs to the second floor into his bedroom, and then hoisted it up into his sleeping loft, the next item on my schedule was to do Withhold Monitors' practice with Nicole. She and I were each students in the month-long Withhold Monitors Training Course, along with six others in the house, and a regular part of the training is making half-hour appointments with each other to practice what's referred to as “pulling” withholds. Nicole is a pleasure to practice with, as she is a dedicated student and makes the session feel safe. (BTW, all eight of us that were in that training have since been officially certified as Lafayette Morehouse Withhold Monitors, including Lynne.)

At 6:30, Lynne and I started getting ready for the part of the Effect Course I was allowed to help with, as someone who wasn't allowed to know anything about it: I would be driving, with Lynne, to the home of the Effect Course student to pick her up and bring her to the house at exactly 7:00, when her course was scheduled to begin. When we got to her house, Lynne went up to her front door to fetch her. She came out of her house dressed to the nines in a colorful pants ensemble of orange and brown silk, totally psyched for what lay ahead. She chattered the whole trip back to our house about how much she was anticipating the evening. We had to moderate our speed on the freeway to make sure we got her there exactly at 7:00. After escorting her into the house, Lynne and I followed through on our personal plan for the evening, which was to go out to dinner together.

Well, folks, I thought this would be a good juncture at which to tell you about a comment I received after one of my last posts. One of you wrote:

You long winded son of a gun ! how am I going to read all that?”

As I'd rather tease you than bore you, we'll continue with the events of the day (and there are plenty more) in the next post. Thanks, as always, for all of your feedback.

Best Regards,


There is no end to how good life can be if you find it good in the first place.

-- Vic Baranco

Roll Call

A pair of terns were fishing today, with quite a different style than that of the Brown Pelican. Terns are closely related to gulls, although they are smaller, pointier and sleeker. These guys were about a foot long. They hovered above the water, maintaining a stationary position with very rapid wing beats, in much the same manner as a hummingbird. When they would see fish that were swimming close to the surface, they would plunge to just above the water and grab them in their beaks. It was infrequent for them actually to dive below the surface, as they are reputedly poor swimmers, but sometimes they would.

A “Typical” Day (Part II)

Hi Folks,

At the end of the last post (see Part I), I was getting ready to remove my tools from Sierra and Jess' balcony before they would be returning home from their trip to Africa. Oceana had said that they would be arriving by 3:00, and would I have my tools out of there by 1:00? It's a good thing she planned ahead so deliberately (as is her wont), because we got a phone call from Tom and Joy, who were picking Sierra and Jess up at the airport, saying they were arriving two hours ahead of schedule. Oceana had been finishing sprucing up the room, Virginia had been hastily hanging curtains, and Lynne had been bringing up the food to be put in their welcome baskets. The three of them scurried to wrap things up, and I barely had enough time to remove my last batch of building materials, when the doorbell rang.

As I came downstairs, the door opened and in walked Sierra and Jess, followed by Tom and Joy. It was great to see all of them. As anticipated, Amenshi went a little nuts with happiness to see his mom and dad after such a long absence. There were a few minutes of communal hellos back and forth, and then Sierra looked over at Lynne and me and said, “Oh, my new housemates!” and came toward us with her arms spread wide, and hugged us both simultaneously. This was sweet and unexpected. I took some of their bags upstairs and left them alone to continue being greeted by the other well-wishers.

I had promised Linda that I would change her tire that afternoon, as she had punctured it pulling up to the curb when coming home the day before. I put on a pair of latex gloves and went out to her car to inspect the situation. She was already outside waiting for me, and insisted I put on sunglasses. I had considered doing that prior to walking out of the house, but thought that dark glasses might be an impediment while trying to see to change a tire. I still have to get used to the quality of the sunshine in California being different from that in New York. Sunglasses here are a higher priority. Linda lent me a pair of hers that she had in the car.

The whole time I was working on her tire, Linda was emptying what seemed like an entire household's worth of belongings from her trunk, because we were going to have to put the damaged tire in there after I installed the spare. It was kind of comical: Every time I looked up from my work, there was Linda pulling yet another item out of her trunk: An oversized bag of crayons, followed by a raincoat...a large quantity of high school text English saddle... It was as if there were a large hole in the bottom of her trunk and she had a posse of clown henchmen passing stuff up to her from under her car.

I had trouble lifting the car using her jack, which I was unused to, so I took the one from the trunk of my car, which was conveniently parked right next to hers. After that, the entire process went miraculously smoothly. I'm used to at least one or two obstacles arising when I change a tire, but this was a surprisingly easy job to complete. Linda was very appreciative, which made it that much more fun.

Friends, I'm only at about 3:30 in the afternoon of the day I'm describing. What say we call it a night and wait until the next post to see what transpired in the late afternoon and evening of this “typical” day?

Thanks so much.

Best Regards,

There are no steps to rightness. You either are or you aren't.
-- Vic Baranco

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Roll Call

Today on the main stage (the big lake), a newcomer: A Brown Pelican maintained what seemed like a constant 40-foot elevation above the water's surface by alternating a steady flapping of its great wings with holding them still in two graceful arches, banking in circles, all the time looking for fish in the water below. (The average wingspan of a Brown Pelican is about seven feet. Imagine someone as tall as Kareem-Abdul Jabbar lying down; that's a Brown Pelican's wingspan tip to tip.)

When something would catch its eye, it would shoot its feet straight up in the air and its beak straight down. It would then dive-bomb into the water with a splash. One time I actually saw it come up with a fish, which it tossed a little ways up in the air to position it correctly for swallowing. After gulping it down, it circled back into the air to repeat its elegant ritual.