Saturday, October 11, 2003

Brain catching up with reality: I'll need a new Chicken Blog introduction. Something like: "You are visiting Chicken Blog: Deep thoughts and other musings from a woman who writes about the man she loves, their 3 sons, 3 cats, and their life in a home with rent due." Hmmm...perhaps by tomorrow we will have found our new view. No sense rushing these things.
2 days: The amount of time it took for the house to return to it's *natural* state.

2 hours: The number of hours the inspector spent going over every crack and corner of the house; an agonizing process I liken to a public bikini waxing.

2: The number of rabbits I did not mention to the landlord.

24 hours: The time left before we can go to see our new home.

16 days: How much time we have before the movers come.

There has been an amusing aspect to selling this house. I was so anxious about the actual sale and whether, or not, anyone would buy this large and unique property, that I never thought of people loving this place. Yet, "Duh!" It is logical to deduce that someone buying the house would like the house. And still I am befuddled by the praise, "We love everything you've done here," and their interest in things, decor and taste. "Would you be interested in selling your dining set?" and "Will you sell us your bench?" and "We really like these painted pieces, are you keeping them?"

They bought the tractor. No need to feel too sorry for Geoff; he consoles himself with the thought of someday buying "the bigger one." They bought our huge outdoor table and benches, which is somewhat of a relief, because it weighs more than the house. At the negotiating table the selling agent said casually, "And they want the pool furniture." This knocked me on my ass. I never expected anyone to give a second glance to the blue chairs and tables sitting around our pool. I painted them last Summer, with flowers, and a checkerboard, a view, and other garden themes, and I keenly felt my attachment to them, when I heard Geoff say, "Yea, sure." There is some history here: In one home I painted murals on the children's wall, and we sold that house. In our last home I painted framed murals along the garden fence, never expecting we'd leave, but we did. I thought, 'this time I will be more clever and only paint what I can bring with me.' Geoff tries to console me, "Think of it this way, your art sells houses," and he grins at me encouragingly. I am seriously tempted to paint our annoying and dull bed, which we'd be happy to sell.


Friday, October 10, 2003

By the end of the month our time as Jolly Green Ranchers will be over. We came here as green as ranchers can be, but with enthusiasm and gratitude. We sought open space, room to play and breath, room for children and grandparents. We are leaving with the same enthusiasm and gratitude, because of what we enjoyed, achieved, and for all we look forward to.

I wish you could smell the Tara's pink and the rosemary that covers the slope. The trees are broader than last Fall, the grass thicker, the flowers are spreading. The part of the garden, by the horse tie and barn doors, where I wanted to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, is overflowing and abundant. The salvia is visited all day by many hummingbirds; their ruby throats flicker as they dart among the purple spires of sage and butterfly bush. Yesterday I visited a garden party beneath the loquat tree; butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and dragonflies were all in attendance. They drank nectar, danced, and swirled in the constant breeze.

The chicas are well, and you may be concerned, but there's no need to worry. A new family is moving in. They are friendly, and like we did, they have expressed a great deal of gratitude and enthusiasm about living here. Donna, their youngest, very politely inquired about the hens and asked if it would be possible for them to stay here at the Rancho. "She like the chickens very much," her mom and dad have assured me. I can see that she does like them. And the hens like her, and living here where the bugs and seeds are plentiful, where everything is comfortable and familiar. Because I love them they will live with Donna and her family; happy chickens in their home sweet home.

As for us, we are returning west, back toward the coast. We came from there a little more than two years ago. And as I told my friends at Winsome Ridge, it seems a lifetime ago that we were there. Imagine the blessing and adventure of living many lifetimes in one life. On Sunday we will find our key under the mat, and I am looking forward to showing the house to Geoff. There is an apple tree, full of fruit, along the driveway, and four raised beds waiting for tilling and seeds. And we want to go in to the house and find the interesting corners, curious features, and decide where to put the piano, beds and chairs. Later, we'll move in, and bring the cats. I will smear their paws with cream cheese, so that they will sit to clean themselves and not be too upset by their new home.

Cream cheese does not comfort me, but my friends and family do. I think of the support and encouragement we enjoy. My heart is full.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Hey. It's me. Can't sleep. It's cool. I think about my friends; especially the two that came over, insisting on helping me pack. Anne came with boxes, and support and a little sadness about missing the Rancho. She's also encouraging about our willingness to try new things. Yesterday Janice came, with more of Anne's handy boxes. Janice is encouraging too, and she helped me pack all of our Christmas decorations, which is a lot. I thank them for helping me .

And I think about the election and all the views and gripes, accusations, generalizations...I am really not too worried about the results. I think there are too many misperceptions, and a bit too much bias. For instance, since the results I have heard quite few people say that there has been some kind of conspiracy against democracy, because of the recall. Well, most of the time we are functioning in what is more accurately described as a republic, and in this recall there was actually a very democratic opportunity for the will of the people to be heard. Californians were free to recall or not recall.

As for the "circus" and the long list of candidates; sure it was ridiculous, but the original election was worse, when we were faced with choosing between two career politicians. I distinctly recall feeling like the choice was between a rock and and a sack of gravel; neither candidate seemed right, inspiring or genuinely motivated to be representative of California first and foremost. And I longed to see a candidate with something different; something that would shake up the status quo.

He, he. Guess we have something different now. Arnold is governor of California, and it may be that he is not the best person for the job, but I can't seem to muster the absolute rage to completely polarize my views against him. I have heard arguments against him, but now that his presence in our government is a reality I want to hear him out. Can we agree that the media is not always unbiased, or fair? In the past I have been convinced that newspapers and television are most eager to report dirt and sensationalized hyperbole, and maybe there has been some of that in this case as well. For instance, why has so little about Governor Davis's temper made the newspaper covers? He has been known to rant and curse at his staff, and has physically attacked at least two women in his office. Apparently this is known by the LA Times, but they didn't find it newsworthy. Unlike Mr. Schwarzenegger, Mr. Davis has not explained his actions, publicly apologized or offered to reform. I don't condone bad behavior, but I do look favorably on a person that can show remorse and a willingness to change their ways.

Another allegation has been that Arnold is racist, and a Nazi. As a person that represents several minorities, this is an issue that catches my attention. I see the smoke, but where's the fire? Apparently if you take some quotes out of context you can construe that Arnold is a Nazi, but that seems, frankly, very weak as a constructive and rational argument for him being a hate mongering, Jew hating, fascist. And really, in Hollywood, how successful do you think he could be working in an industry that is well represented by people of the Jewish faith? I was fascinated to see that in other news articles, with smaller headlines, Schwarzenegger is admired for his contributions to Jewish organizations, he is known to have interfered with pro-Nazi demonstrations, and is admired by Jews from his birth place, and California. Incidentally, while Schwarzenegger denies being a racist, Cruz Bustamante frequently appeared with, and is in support of MEChA. The racist significance of this is found in MEChA's motto: "For the race everything. For those outside the race, nothing." Caramba! Personally, I express my racial pride with a lot more political and social inclusion.

We all know how to do the deep and monotone, "I'll be back," and we all know Arnold has made a lot of tough guy, monosyllabic movies, and that he started as a bodybuilder, not a scholar. But, in the spirit of fairness and cooperation I want to take a closer look, before I write off his intelligence. It is a racist generalization to equate an accent with ignorance; English is not his first language, but he has mastered it sufficiently to become a successful business man, to lobby for after school programs, to address legislatures and senators, to woo a Kennedy, to promote physical education, and support Special Olympics. His success in life is not pure dumb luck. I recognize his success as the classic dedication, and appreciation of opportunity, so often found in immigrants; I do believe he has been a hard working, and appreciative citizen. Optimistically, I would kind of enjoy seeing him apply his ambition and skill as effectively to California as he has to his bodybuilding, to his business, and movie career, family and personal causes. He has, in all honesty, a undeniable success rate and determination.

Change is so difficult that we often avoid it, but eventually things do change. You can see this in nature, and politics. I don't want to be embarrassed and apologetic for California and our governor. It isn't productive to behave as though we are witnessing a complete and tragic disaster. Schwarzenegger will have to work with a Democratic legislature and a staff of experienced politicians, in an established and heavily bureaucracy-ed government. He may be successful and find the charisma and inspiration to facilitate good change in our economy and policies. He may get mired in partisan stalemates and find he can't effect any significant changes. And if he sucks, and nothing improves, then very soon new candidates, with an appreciation for the will of the people, will come forward and the electorate will choose again.

Pass the popcorn, this is going to be interesting.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Long Nights

Seems like old times. Basketball, a game, is being finished and facing the typical last minute debugging traumas. Of course I am not there, at the office, and I don't even know how to write programs, let alone how to fine tune software, but I imagine it's something like preparing for finals or cranking out a really important school term paper; one that the entire grade depends on, for all the class. In the twenty one years I have known Geoff this has been an unprecedented 9 months; he has not had nearly as many 100 hour work weeks and all night programming sessions. Of course the reasons for the slow down are frustrating, but we have made the most of his easier schedule, and I think I had almost forgotten how rough it can be. This week has been a terrific reminder of why when Geoff is working in his usual mode it really helps to have a laid back lifestyle. Get rid of the commute, get rid of huge house projects, get rid of demands that steal any more of his time or peace of mind, so that when he is home he can enjoy family, friends and life.

Our cat Chango stayed out all Saturday night and we did not see him all day Sunday. When we hear the coyotes calling and whining we always want to know precisely where our pets are. So, needless to say we were feeling anxious. William especially aches when we can't call the cats in. We made several searches for him, and kept porch lights on hoping to attract our sleek gopher hunter.

In the meantime, we needed trivial distractions from our anxieties, so I lit our first Autumn fire, and popped popcorn. We brought mattresses, pillows and quilts to the living room and watched one of our favorite October traditions: Meet Me In St. Louis. The last time we saw this movie was almost a year ago, when we suddenly found ourselves snowed in and remotely stranded in Custer State Park, South Dakota. Margaret OBrien makes this movie (based on true stories) a gem. And we feel a special connection to the musical numbers; some of which were written by an old neighbor of ours, Mr. Martin. And best of all are the Halloween scenes. Vincente Minnelli's film served as a nostalgic escape from the tragedies of WWII. We watched the movie with a keen awareness that the events depicted in the film were from 100 years ago, and for us it served as a welcome break from our anxieties. Geoff worked all night, but Chango came home before the Trolley scene.

Here is our Chango.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Dry Diego

Fluff cycle. No starch please.
FAQ: Apparently there are unanswered questions on people's minds:

FAQ #1: Why are you suddenly selling and leaving your Rancho?

Suddenly? Actually, we have been telling friends and family that expectations and trends are changing in Geoff's field of work since last January. We have been alluding to the possibility that we might have to make some difficult choices since Spring. We have been diligently debating our options and thoughtfully weighing the pros and cons for a long time, and we have taken a lot of factors in to account. We have considered our lifestyle and changing needs, job security and ethical choices; we have also tried to be sensitive to the needs of my grandparents, and thoughtful of other family. And we have openly discussed much of the debate in Chicken Blog, personal emails and in conversations.

FAQ #2 Well, I thought you were happy, so why would you give it all up?

Life is neither all sad nor all happy, at least not for many, and thankfully not for us. We have enjoyed good, and challenging, times here. I suppose it would be easier to understand selling our house, pool, tractor and view if we had been miserable here. Maybe if we suffered and bitched about being profoundly disappointed, then we wouldn't be confounding so many people. What I can't understand is why anyone would believe that loving this place and being happy here somehow entitles me to stay here indefinitely. Of course I love it here, and there are also aspects I will not miss. I hope people can see that this decision was not made lightly, that we are sad about it, but also realize that we are trying to be realistic, to be flexible. Rather than wait for the strain and wear of Geoff's career and his commute dictate our lives, we have chosen to proactively adjust our circumstances. Rather than postponing the pursuit of different options and possibilities for a later "some day", or after retirement, we have chosen to take advantage of our opportunities. Rather than dwell on difficulties and frustrations from life's inconstancy we are choosing to make the most of what is good in our lives. I do not want to change my home, job, hobbies, interests, or even my dreams only after I have been miserable, or forced to by tragedy.

Please consider what we are not giving up: our values, our love, our respect for each other as husband and wife, and as friends, our children's security and well being.

FAQ #3 We don't know whether to be happy for you; who knows what you'll do next. What if you just pack up and move again?

Well, what if we did? What if we moved to, say, Minnesota for example? And what if we found it wasn't what we expected, and though there were enjoyable aspects and experiences we benefitted from, on the whole we decided it was not our best choice? Should we stay there and just lump it? Sure, if we had no choice we could stay put and make the best of it, but we do have choices. Starting over is an option. We haven't asked anyone to be happy or excited for us and our plans, and we didn't realize it might be such a challenge either. I have not always had the luxury of being able to adjust my circumstances to meet changing needs or interests, and as long as I am able I will exercise this option. Whether I choose to sell a tractor or move to an Island is rather trivial compared with the difficult and unpredictable things life can throw at us at any given time and place. It seems safe enough to be happy that we are healthy, still happily married, interested in life, concerned about family, and willing to adjust to changes in our dynamic lives. If we moved to Hawaii, or anywhere, and then packed up and move again, then I would think: "Thank God we had that time there, because it was good and we enjoyed it. And thanks too, that we are able to do what we feel we must to fulfill our needs and desires."

Each of us finds a way to cope with life, and those that do not, suffer a great deal. Perhaps some do not agree with how Geoff and I have decided to deal with our circumstances, and I appreciate that there are many ways of going about living our lives. If you are not excited about our changes or can't figure us out, that's okay. We never expected to be predictable, or to satisfy everyone's expectations, and sometimes we can't figure ourselves out. We have rarely ever acted rashly, we have agonized over most choices we make, we have gone to great lengths to be considerate of loved ones, and most importantly we have been able to honor and support one another, and we are happy about this.