Friday, December 26, 2008

Morning sky, Bisbee, AZ

On Christmas day we hiked a long distance looking for an open store that sold milk. The wind was howling. I had to carry Annie B. so she wouldn't blow away.
At the 7-11 a young woman in black with razor blades dangling from her ears bought a hot-dog with mustard and ketchup. In the parking lot a desperado unloaded suitcases from the trunk of his rusted-out car and tossed a spare tire into the brush, then reloaded the suitcases. I think he had body parts in the suitcases.
A bearded man was hitchhiking with a 7 week old puppy that crouched in a satchel. I gave the man $10. "I can't give you a ride"I said "but I can give you some money."
The puppy made me do it. All in all, an interesting Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The inconveniences of celebration

We have a little tree in our rig. We forgot to bring the plastic stand so the tree is in the sink. Every time one of us brushes our teeth, the other has to hold the tree.

Queen Mine

Christmas Eve day. Some of us rise. Some of us descend. 'Sonny' here has been doing both for 70 years, first as a miner, now as a tour guide.


At a saloon on Christmas Eve. 'Lover' carved into the bar. A cowboy standing next to us with a shot of something dark. Cartoons on the TV. We're drinking ale and toasting the bartender, a woman with a neck tattoo named Kate.

Bisbee, Arizona

A saloon on Christmas Eve. 'Al' writing furiously at an outside table. We met as we all left at the same time..
Me: I took your picture through the window. I hope you don't mind,.
Al: Oh, I don't mind at all.
Me: Were you writing?
Al: Always.
Me: If you have email I'll send you a copy of the picture.
Al: No. No email. Happy Holidays.
Me: Good night. Happy Holidays to you.
And Al headed up a side street to Bisbee's mission, open all night, no drinking or loud noise allowed.

Ajo, Arizona

Never abandon your craft.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

Tomorrow morning we're headed out on an exploratory journey. If we find something astounding I will try to make contact with the blogging world, otherwise I'll be back in touch on January 8th. Happy Holidays to all.

The Navy to the rescue!

We lived in a tumble down house in East LA with a sagging porch and a dirt front yard. The whole neighborhood suffered hard times.
Imagine our surprise when a huge package came to us in the mail just before Christmas. It was from my brother in the Navy who we hadn't heard from in years. In the package was a cardboard put-it-together-yourself-submarine for my kids!
It was a definite hit and our humble little house became the neighborhood hub, (until the rain came and took the starch out of our sails.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Series

Ty and CC lying on the dirt road that we will attempt to drive down Saturday in our 4 ton RV. (sans snow tires or chains.) I figure if we get stuck we can just stay where we are and breathe all that air.
We were in this swimming pool a couple of months ago.

Blue skies on Zing Rd.

Split personality

This is the first beach I came to when I moved to Santa Cruz from the high desert. I remember sitting at Aldo's, a rickety restaurant overlooking the harbor, thinking, oh, am I the luckiest person in the world to be moving right here!

Three decades later I take my morning walk, the December sun glimmering off the sea and I'm thinking of the desert with such hunger and wondering why I can't be in both places at the same time.

Mojave Desert

My son's family compound on a dirt road 10 miles from town. (click on pic to see the size of those flakes!)
Inside their courtyard

Ty and CC in front of their house.
We're driving there on Saturday morning on our way to Arizona, if they open the Grapevine; if we can get our 'rig' down their dirt roads; if Arizona isn't snowed in and the sky doesn't fall; if if if. That's the thing about plans....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To avoid fainting...

...keep repeating, it's only a movie.

We moved into our first Mojave Desert house in 1972, a broken down abandoned place that was the last house on the left on Goss Rd. It was haunted by a ghost named Norma, doors opened and closed on their own and at night we heard invisible cars circling the property. We held seances and trembled when our table moved all on its own.
We didn't know it at the time because we had no electricity, no TV, no phone and only one rickety car that was usually on empty, but that was the same year the horror movie, The Last House on the Left was released.
We all could have starred in it.

Health programs

Last night we decided Annie Bones is too fat and must immediately go on a diet.

We came to this conclusion while we were polishing off half of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

Eyeballs and whistles

Recently we signed up up for some TV bells and whistles, like premium channels. We thought we'd save money by not renting DVDs and going to a weekly movie. Today while vacuuming I watched The Diary of a Madman with Vincent Price.
He said things like, "When evil takes over a human soul, society must smash that human like a bug." And he'd look up into the camera as he banged his curled fist into his other hand and his eyeballs looked as if they could roll across the floor.
Whatever happened to actors with eyes like that?
Now I'm watching some horror flick and the teenage star is locked in the seedy bathroom of a greasy spoon by a madman.
I'm just loving these bells and whistles. To heck with the vacuum.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


We saw the movie, MILK, this week. Powerful, sad and uplifting all at the same time.

In real time I missed it all. I was living on a dirt road in the Mojave Desert concerned that Joyce down at the T-Bird had raised the price of a draft from 25 cents to 30.

Better than a potato chip

We have a moth living in our bathroom. It's been there for weeks. I usually 'get rid' of things like this. For some reason I've spared this little guy. I figured, how long can a moth live anyway? During the day it moves to a spot on the wall touched by the sun. When it's dark the moth moves over to its place just above our nightlight.
Today I looked closely and I think it's beginning to look a little like a crucifx. Could it be? It is the season afterall. Should I contact our newspaper? People have sold potato chips with curious images on them. Why not me? Why not our moth? (click image for finer detail. Prepare to become a believer.)

Higher education

Parks and Rec's new catalog has arrived. I'm studying it.

Irene, let's take this Beginning Gaelic class!
I don't want to.
What? Why not?
I have no interest in learning Gaelic.
What do you have against Gaelic?
Nothing. I just don't want to speak it.
Well, then, how about Beginning African Marimba?
Now you're talking.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Littlest Novelist

My grandson, Amadisto Sol McCarroll Gallegos, AKA Booji, looking decidedly more perky than the last photo I saw of him in the ER. He's working on the Great Canadian Novel, I just know it. (I lifted this pic from my son's blog: )

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Road trip

Today I saw an old man 1/2 block from an assisted living facility. He was using a walker and was in heavy traffic in the road surrounded by trucks, cars and buses. I drove on, went shopping and on my way home I saw the man again.
He'd gotten about a block from where I'd first seen him. He looked determined. He definitely looked as if he had a destination in mind. Was he escaping? Going shopping, heading home for the holidays? Should I have intercepted him, wrestled away his walker, spirited him into my car and forced him back to the "home"?
He looked pretty happy to me. He looked pretty free too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who knew?

Years ago my son was a chef at a very famous restaurant in our town. A Santa Cruz icon, a destination for all the movie stars filming in the area.
Aaron used to drive his old Toyota station wagon to Moss Landing to pick up the squid which was their signature dish. Then he'd stop by our house on Depot Hill and pick the mint that grew abundantly next to our leaky backyard water faucet.
Nothing more glamorous than that: an old car, an old faucet and a young eager cook.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On the way to somewhere

We came home yesterday after 5 days away to find our friend, Kleya has painted a spiral on our back deck, very near the door-to-nowhere and on the way to my writing room.


I've just come from the dermatologist's where I had still more skin cancer lobbed off my face, this time my chin.
I've come to think of all these sporadic surgeries as the poor woman's face lift.
What joy to think of all the loveliness that awaits me in my 90's.

Walking the land

We went to the Russian River...
And I fell in love with the land....

I think I only saw the water once, then just a glimpse through the fog and thicket of trees but its rushing glimmer didn't attract me. I was pulled again and again to the sound of my feet whisking through fields and down trails made by animals during the night.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


We're hitting the road this morning for a few days. We were looking forward to getting away from all the gadgets, all the connections.
So far we've packed: one computer, 2 digital cameras, 2 cell phones, one Nintendo DS game and one video camera.
It's hard to imagine that once I moved to a desert house on the end of a dirt road 6 miles out of town with nothing more powerful than one kerosene lamp.
See you on Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Odetta died today. One of the best folk singers I've every heard. In 1963 she marched to Washington, that powerful voice singing, "I'm On My Way". It had been her hope to sing at Obama's inauguration. I have a feeling she will be singing that song on January 20th. I know I'll feel it in my bones anyway.

My son, the Sad Superman

Two days ago my 2 1/2 year old grandson, Amado was badly hurt in a fall at his daycare. He's got stitches, swelling, broken teeth and the whole family has a brand new realization of how fragile our so-called invincibility really is. See my son's blog if you want to see the little guy in ER:

Harper St. Mystery House

I went to a writing workshop at a friend's house years ago. Her front door was a work of art painted by a local artist. I told my friend if she ever tired of the door to let me know. Then I forgot all about it and haven't seen this woman in several years. A few months ago she called me. "You still want the door?" she asked.
"What door?"
"Our front door, the one with the painting!"
"Oh, that door!" I exclaimed although I still didn't remember it.
"Sure I do." We picked it up and yesterday a friend hung it on our new little deck in our back garden. It looks like it leads to a room in our house. But it really is the door to no where.


Five years ago we camped with our family in Half Moon Bay. When Irene and I left I forgot a pair of my socks in my desert family's fifth wheel. A couple of months later my 9 year old grandson surprised me by hiding the socks in my suitcase while we visited them in the desert. I found them after I got home and a tradition was born.
Ty and I have spirited these socks back and forth ever since. Yesterday while I was cleaning our 'rig' for an upcoming trip I opened the microwave and there they were, the Socks!
It's my turn now. There is no doubt I'll be hiding these socks in Tyler's college dorm room and maybe he can get them past security at the local assisted living facility.

Swinging from polar opposites

Yesterday I was excused by the judge in a 4 count first degree attempted murder case with gang affiliation.
I read about meditation and generosity last night at Gateways Book Store. A resounding success. Over 100 in attendance. A room filled with love and spirit.
It is hard to reconcile such polar opposites in an 8 hour span.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Good Old Days

Irene paid $1.79 for a gallon of gas yesterday. It's been a long long time since gas was this cheap. We feel like filling every gas tank in the neighborhood, or at least buying a cistern and doing a little hoarding.

One Angry Woman

I have to report to jury duty this morning at 9:00 AM. I'm supposed to spend this day getting centered and grounded for my book reading tonight. I'm going to ask the judge if he minds me practicing outloud. Meanwhile, just pray you aren't the defendant.

Opening night

Tonight I'm reading at a local bookstore. I've had little sleep. I have the heebie jeebies. You'd think it was Broadway or something.


There is something wrong here. I woke up without a brain. FEMA has been called in. The FBI, Nancy Drew. I've been sent to look under the bed. We're all a little concerned.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sign of our times...

...and I don't care what anyone says.

Madam Secretary

Good to see you again, Hilary.

The Little Group that could

Last night we went to our annual gathering of old friends, this year a little spare because of illness and trips abroad. We've known each other for almost 30 years and we have no doubt we'll be getting together always, kind of like the Titanic survivors or World War II buddies. It's tradition and tradition is good and it's fun, and fun is very good.

Twirling fire

We came across some fire twirlers on West Cliff Drive last night. It seemed to be an impromtu event with music from a boom box and unusually high surf crashing just beyond the cliff.
Who they were and exactly what they were doing, we don't know. We just know we were lucky we took this road on this particular night.

The Rime of the Anicient Mariner?

Last night as we stepped out onto the front deck and looked into the sky we were amazed to see the Moon, Jupiter and Venus all lined up in the clear sky. These planets will not be in this close configuration again until 2052. We don't go out after dark much. We thought this is what the sky always looks like. (of course you can find a better image almost everywhere but I kind of like this one taken with my little Canon.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Harper St. Women Writers

A new blog! Every month a small group of us meet to write together. And we now have a blog that we think will fill the gaps between our meeting. We invite you to tune in.

Duty calls

I'm on call for jury duty this week. Every year they call me. Every year I sit and wait for my turn to be grilled for suitability and every year they pick their 12 angry men and women before they get to me.
I've known people who served on the Manson jury for 9 months. I've had friends who were part of the Scott Peterson trial for 9 months. These people, rather than basking in the post-trial limelight and signing lucrative book deals, were basket cases in the end.
A friend of mine told me her mother always got out of jury duty by answering their questions with completely unrelated answers: Like, 'Do you believe in capital punishment?' And the mother would answer: 'I don't think global warming is man-made.' They finally gave up on her.
Last year I waited through the selection process for a triple murder trial. An old man was called up. 'What?' he said to every question. They gave him a hearing device but still, he'd crane his neck and say, 'What?' to every question until they finally released him.
I think it pays to listen to our elders. They seem to know how to navigate this world.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

In keeping with our pledge to purge this winter, Irene has donned her no-nonsense cap and is selling stuff at the flea this morning. The crowds are small. Even though our prices are rock bottom people can still get it cheaper at Mervyn's.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Reasons to smile

Everything is wet and fresh from last night's rain.
Before dawn the owl hooted from the cypress tree.
I'm baking a peach pie for dinner at Irene's daughter's house today.
And in my sleep I dreamed the end of a short story that has been giving me grief.


I always miss my boys. But never so much as mornings like this.

Short end of the stick

A few years ago circumstance led us to eat Thanksgivng dinner at a local restaurant. We were waited on by staff who had obviously drawn the short end of the stick. Our particular waitperson had blue hair, trembling hands and thick surgical stockings.

"I'll have everything but the turkey and gravy," I said.

She: We can't do that.

Me: What?

She: Just serve potatoes and vegetables. Each of them would be a-la-carte.

Me: For more money?

She: Yes. Well..a-la-carte.

I'd come prepared. I pulled a plastic bag of sliced tofu turkey from the pocket of my blazer.

Me: Here. Plop this on my plate. Just pretend you cooked it.

She: You want a roll with that?

Me: Is that extra?