Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cabo Notes 2

While Ron and I were in Cabo San Lucas, Sudi went to Baja separately with friends (the Van Pattens, who paid for his trip, that lucky bum). He stayed at the Villa del Faro in Pescadero, a small town up the coast from Cabo and just south of the artist colony Todos Santos. Villa del Faro is owned by David and Kelly Raitt, the musicians. They had a portable sound studio at the Villa so Sudi and his friend Brett spent a week composing and recording music together. Ron and I rented a car and drove up to Pescadero and Todos Santos for a day. The car was so small that I had to get Ron into the driver’s seat with a shoe horn. The top of his head grazed the ceiling. I called it the clown car. We drove for an hour through monotonous desert scenery with nothing but cactus (that looked straight out of an old Western), sand, and these stunted mangled tangled trees that all looked the same. It was some of the ugliest scenery I have ever witnessed. With billboards every fifty feet selling pieces of this ugly desert as timeshares. “Build your paradise here in Baja.” The Mexicans must think Americans are crazy, buying up this barren desert. Why? Because it’s near the beach? Always sunny?

Villa del Faro was lovely. You can visit it on the web at to see what it looks like. It’s a half-acre oasis in the midst of the desert. According to the Raitts, no Mexicans live near them. Their neighbors are Americans, and many of them are from Mendocino County. Why anyone would leave the extraordinary beauty of our local landscape to live in that desert escapes me. The Raitts took all of us to nearby El Cerritos Beach. El Cerritos Beach was like a place in a Fellini movie. In our itty bitty rent-a-car, we turned off the highway (a two-lane paved road) onto a dirt road that led straight into the desert with nothing on either side. We followed this road for a couple of miles, taking care not to turn off it onto the other dirt roads we encountered leading off into nowhere and really fit only for dirt bikes, but here we were in a car. All we saw for five or ten minutes was cactus, sand, and those mangled tangled trees. Then suddenly we arrived at a parking lot (dirt not paved) full of cars and a large cantina with a thatched roof. The ocean spread out magnificently before us. We met up with Sudi, the Raitts, and the Van Pattens, who were seated at a large table in the sand where they were eating and drinking refreshments they had purchased at the cantina bar. A band on a wooden platform in the sand played music. Only a few feet beyond the band, the children were swimming, body surfing, skim boarding, and generally having a blast on a gorgeous beach with perfect mild waves that came gradually into shore. It was one of the most lovely beaches I have ever seen. I decided that the lesson I learned in Baja is that paradise is wherever you make it. A good lesson for someone in the process of moving off 40 acres into town. (More to come about the Todos Santos adventure, stay tuned.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cabo Notes 1

We returned from Cabo late last night and have spent the day decompressing, unpacking, and contemplating the nature of reality. I thought I would have internet access in Cabo and planned to post to my blog every day. Not. We bought 15 minutes of internet at a Sports Bar one night to check email. Otherwise, we had no internet (no cell phones either). So I'll be filling you in on Cabo piecemeal for the next few days/posts.
When we arrived at the airport in San Juan del Cabo, we were accosted by swarms of salesmen trying to get us to make a down payment on a timeshare. Ron called them the "sharks." They tried to entice us with their "free activities." The free activities are when they trap you in their car and drive you all over Baja showing you timeshares, but they call it a "free tour." After shaking off several sharks in our effort to get to the exit door, we were finally cornered by one who demanded, "let me pick you up at your hotel tomorrow morning, free tour, free breakfast, free activities..." "NO ACTIVITIES!" I told him, "we don't want activities." "No activities?" he asked with mock incredulity. Or perhaps we didn't fit the mold of American tourists eager to jump at anything free. "You don't want to do any activities in Cabo?" the shark asked. Ron answered, "We don't want any activities. In fact, we might not even leave our hotel room." Here's a link that should take you to our view from that room:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sneaking Away to Cabo

So we still have not sold our house. We don’t even have an offer on it, although the lovely buyers who looked at it a couple of weeks ago have assured us they will be making an offer soon. Soon appears to be relative. Meanwhile, we have seen a house we might like to buy and did approach the sellers. But we can’t move forward to buy until we move forward to sell. Meanwhile, I have just come off four months of grinding and relentless work, writing far more grants at one time than I have ever done before. It just seemed like a good idea at the time to take the work and make the money. I know I need a break when I am writing grants in my dreams. Negotiating house deals in my dreams. Moving walls, signing contracts, filling in forms, figuring out budgets in my sleep. OK, enough already. On Saturday, Ron and I are sneaking off to Cabo San Lucas for 5 days and 4 nights to celebrate the 30th anniversary of when we met. Sneaking because if the buyers find out we went to Cabo; or the sellers of the house we might buy find out; they’ll think we’re rich and won’t negotiate a price that works for us. How would they know that we have not gone out of the country in about 25 years. Have not taken a vacation to an exotic place together, just us, well, not ever. My 24-year-old daughter asked me, “What are you guys going to do in Cabo?” I guess she thinks we’re too old for sex or romance, too old to go dancing, too old for night life and long walks on the beach, and exotic drinks with little umbrellas in them, and…. Let me at it! On Sunday night, Ron said, “This is going to be the longest week.” When I turned my light out to go to sleep, I realized I forgot to start the dishwasher. I turned the light back on. Ron muttered, “Is it morning already?” I answered, “Hey, it’s Friday.” I’m there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Master Creator

When I was in college, I wanted to be a playwright. It seemed like the best way to merge my two greatest loves, writing and theater. I earned my undergraduate degree in a dual major, English and Drama. I never could decide between my two loves. In graduate school I studied English, all the while working to put myself through school as what we called in those days a “techie.” I worked behind the scenes in theaters building, painting, and sculpting scenery; running lights and sound; moving walls and furniture around. I worked as a techie for about a dozen years all told. I loved the magic, the ritual, and the spiritual journey of theater. As a techie, I was privileged to make the magic happen in many ways. Secretly, I still wanted to be a playwright. I wrote drama late at night, but never showed it to anyone come morning. Looking back over it all, I think what I really wanted was the power of the master creator. I wanted to write a place and people and objects and have them become real. I wanted to write a red wagon on the stage and then see a red wagon on the stage. I have been thinking about this youthful desire lately. After ten years as a successful grant writer, I see myself as that master creator. I have used my words to make that wagon appear—the wagon I make appear is therapeutic services, programs for children and families, medicine, education, empowerment for people in distress. I am the playwright on the real stage. It was hard to give up the glitter and imagination of theater. But my talent was for another use. Still behind the scenes. But I am proud I have not squandered it. I always tell young people when I go out on author tour “Figure out what you love and what you are good at and pursue it with a passion.” I am walking the talk.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I woke up this morning with a twitch in my cheek. Too much stress. We put in an offer on a house yesterday and I spent the night lying awake moving walls around in my head. Thinking how to remodel, what to change, how to do it with the limited money available. A wonderful family came to see our house on Saturday. They had two adorable boys, age two and six. The six-year-old, Lucas is a precocious, inquisitive, delightful child and Ron and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him while his parents explored our house and property. The next day, his mother emailed to thank us for the lovely visit and to let us know they plan to make an offer on our house. She said that Lucas was surprised and disappointed to learn that Ron and I don’t come with the house. I replied to her email and said, “Unfortunately for you, we DO come with the house!” We are hoping that when we return from our upcoming vacation in Cabo San Lucas (5 days 4 nights starting March 23, Yippee) we will quickly go into escrow on two homes. Meanwhile, I can’t stop thinking of remodel plans for the house we might buy if all goes well. More to come about that in future blogs. The twitch has gone away this afternoon; but I do hope I’m not going to turn into a quivering basket case during this transition. The question is, can we get through it all without the French-talking pineapple this time around?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chronologically Impaired Brother

Today is my brother’s birthday. I called him for a little chat. He has ADHD and has learned many tricks over the years to help him stay organized, because he really has to work at it. This week disaster struck. Apparently his computer didn’t make the switch to Daylight Savings Time on the new schedule. To add insult to injury, his hand-held computer/phone/datebook/everything is keyed to his computer. And of course his entire schedule is in the hand-held device, which is now all wonky and won’t give him a correct date or reminder on anything. My poor brother has spent the better part of the past two days on the phone with tech support trying to straighten out the problem, which apparently has afflicted a lot of people. Meanwhile, he can’t reach his wall clock in the kitchen because he has too many objects piled up on the floor below it. And his alarm clock in the bedroom died. He can’t get his electronic assistant devices to tell him what he’s supposed to be doing this evening, or tomorrow, or what time he has his next work gig. When I told my son about the situation, he commented that his uncle probably didn’t realize that today is his birthday because according to his computer it’s still yesterday. My husband is threatening to send him a Salvador Dali card with the melting clocks. Time is relative.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hair Cut

It finally happened. I got my hair cut. My hair dresser is back on her feet. I’m having a good week. It started on Sunday when I found the perfect swim suit. It says on the label that it trims off 10 lbs. So that means I can put it on, get on the scale, and subtract 10. I’ve been lighter all week. Then my husband’s stepson’s stepdaughter had a baby on Tuesday, which makes me something like a step step step great grandma. Whatever it is exactly, the upshot is that I’m getting old. But I don’t really care because I lost 10 lbs. with the swim suit. And my hair cut makes me look more human and, dare I say it, younger. I think the hairdresser must have cut off at least a pound of hair. I should be able to get on the scale and subtract 11 lbs. And I should get bonus points for things like passing up the green tea ice cream when we took my husband out to dinner for his birthday last night, drinking water all day instead of anything with calories in it, and today I’m going to clean the house (burns up lots of calories). I think that I’m on a roll. Swim suit, hair cut, no dessert, house cleaning. I’m subtracting, say, 20 lbs. off the scale weight. Good. Wow. I’m in terrific shape.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Memoir Fakes

I have had about enough of these people who write fake memoirs and pass them off as real. It started with that Frey person who wrote the Million Pieces of My Split Personality book and duped Oprah into thinking it was real. He described his descent into substance abuse and street life. One horror story after another so unbelievable that if it hadn’t happened you would say it was contrived. Guess what? It was contrived. Today I read about two other fake memoirs. One was written by a woman who claimed she was a Native American foster child raised in South Central Los Angeles and that she had run drugs for gangs but overcame it all and went to a college in Oregon. Turns out the author is an Anglo (she’s Episcopalian) and was raised in Bakersfield or somewhere by her own parents and has never been to Oregon. She was outed before the book was launched. The other fake memoir was written by a woman who described her childhood in Nazi Germany as a Jewish girl who hid out in the forest and was cared for by wolves. Come on, people! Did some editor actually believe this happened? Was it one of the editors that turned down my fiction because it was contrived? Anyway, turns out the Jewish-wolf-girl author is actually Christian and she spent the war safely and comfortably in Brussels. Would someone tell these memoirists that you have to suffer to sing the Blues? There are no shortcuts. I’m outraged. Here these privileged individuals are passing themselves off as ethnic minorities to make a buck with some reality-show drama memoir. More institutionalized racism. If they want to imagine a story then they need to put it out there as fiction. Then let the editors reject their manuscripts as “contrived” along with the rest of us.

Monday, March 3, 2008

More Hair

The hair situation continues to escalate. Fortunately I got through Monday without a cancellation call from my hairdresser. Go drugs go. Go drugs go. I hope those painkillers and anti-inflammatories are doing the trick. Meanwhile, my hair is filling with cobwebs where it has been brushing the ceiling. And I discovered over the weekend that the only thing worse than shopping for a swimsuit when you’re fat and middle-aged is shopping for a swimsuit when you’re fat, middle-aged, and need a haircut. Can’t someone invent a shrink mirror for the Macy’s dressing rooms that will slenderize your reflection and make your hair relax? Sit, no lie down, no roll over. My hair needs obedience school. A couple of nights ago I came in late from the grocery store. While bringing the bags in with Ron, I noticed a low-flying bat gliding through the fir trees in front of the house. “Look,” I showed Ron, “there’s a bat out here.” He replied, “It must have seen your hair.” Thursday. I just need to make it to Thursday.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Apple Pie or Waffles

Cindy-the-Realtor is bringing a family to see our house on Saturday and she says we’ll love them. This family lives in the Bay Area and they have been looking for country property up here for months. They have two little boys. One is 2 and the other is 6. This sounds painfully familiar. It will be 17 years ago in May that Ron and I received a call from our realtor who wanted us to drive up and look at this property right away before it went on the market. We lived in the Bay Area at the time and had been looking for country property for over 2 years. Ron and I took a day off work and (while our children were in child care for the day) drove up. We walked the house and the property and fell in love at first sight. We made an offer that day. It was a long road that summer before we sold our duplex in town and made the move in August. That’s a whole other story that involves a psychotic realtor, a grossly redundant Christmas tree, a paranoid buyer, two tenants, a dozen Japanese iris bulbs, a quasi-tranquilized cat, and a French-talking pineapple. The family Cindy has found already reminds me of us and I am hit with a wave of nostalgia for all the good years in this house. I remember the day we moved in like it was yesterday and although part of me is comfortable where I am, another part would like to go back and start at the beginning again. But the question of the moment is, do I bake apple pie on Saturday morning or should Ron make waffles? Something incredibly homey and incredibly country to offer to the little boys. I’ve heard it’s things like the smell of apple pie, the spinning wheel on the hearth, the baskets on the wall, the flowers on the table, and the cat in the easy chair that sell a house. A potential buyer needs to imagine coming home to this place. I hope I’ll be able to find another place that feels like coming home somewhere else. And I hope we can do the move this time without assistance from the French-talking pineapple.