Sunday, December 7, 2014

what was I thinking?: a pea-picklin’ diary

Monday
Well, I’m not sure I can do this. Stop this journal. Make it only about the beeswax. Maybe there should be more beeswax here, now and again, and maybe all this personal stuff just confuses potential customers (not to mention others!), but not to do this? Not to do what I’m doing right now? I love doing what I’m doing right now.

Perhaps this is withdrawal or quitter’s remorse or something. What happened is this: I was searching for a document, my lip balm labels document, to take to a Staples or somewhere to have the labels printed on the full-page label stock I have (then I cut out each little label with scissors because that is the cockamamie way I do things), and I couldn’t find the document, but finally I did, and I was putting it on the little gizmo thing I think is called a zip drive to take to the Staples or wherever, and there’s all sorts of things on this little gizmo drive, and I got curious about “14624,” an image file, no doubt a picture of the cabin I left back in the U.P., and I kept ignoring it, but then finally, opened it.

"14624"

I started crying.

That’s the cabin—my house—soon after I bought it. And there’s Buster on the porch.

Later the mail arrived. Every day here I get mail. Five days out of six it’s ads. Then, on the sixth day, who knows. But today it was a Bed Bath & Beyond circular with a huge advertisement for state-shaped cutting boards. Pictured were Texas, California, and Michigan. But wait—that’s only part of Michigan. The lower part.

Hullo. Why not chop off the Texas Panhandle?
Which part of California shall we delete?

Did you know that Michigan consists of two separate peninsulas? One is called the “lower” peninsula and one is called the “upper” peninsula. Each of these peninsulas then has more peninsulas—the Keweenaw, the Leelanau, the Thumb, the Garden—but that’s another story. The peninsula pictured in this ad is the lower. The Upper Peninsula (we like to capitalize it) may contain about 30 per cent of the state’s land, but it only has about 3 per cent of its population, so, occasionally, it is left off maps, including one documented case that involved an elementary school textbook that was being used in, now wait a minute, the Upper Peninsula.

Maybe you’re familiar with the U.P., but maybe not. Look at a map. (Go on, I dare you.) The U.P. is that crooked finger hooking off the top of Wisconsin. It doesn’t even touch lower Michigan. (They are connected, however, by a huge, scary bridge.) Now, if I were making a cutting board in the shape of the state of Michigan, I would include the whole state. So the cutting board would come in two parts. Kind of a nice deal when you think about it. What I wouldn’t do is just shrug and say what the heck, that’s too complicated.

Tuesday
It’s raining. Really raining. It started raining last night and it has been raining all day. It’s raining, it’s pouring, it’s divine. Lights are on and even the heat is on. I almost didn’t go out—on the radio talk of mudslides and floods and spin-outs and all those things that happen when a place that seldom gets rain suddenly gets rain, a flood of rain, all at once, made me hesitant. But, what, I don’t know rain? Josie and I went out, drove to the post office, and all we ran into were raindrops and puddles and those huge crazy dried-up palm fronds that fall from the sky.

This palm frond was in the middle of the road before
someone moved it.

At first I thought this thing-that-fell-from-a-palm-tree looked
like a crime scene, but now I think it looks like a reindeer.

Thursday
There’s this thing called a barranca behind where I live. It is a concrete gully that leads to the ocean. If it ends at the ocean, I do not know where it starts. If it starts at the ocean, I do not know where it ends.

You see what I mean.

I do know that the water level in the barranca goes up and down with the tides. Sometimes there is no water (low tide); other times there is a few feet or more (high tide). Whatever the tide, there are often ducks in the barranca. This morning there were a number of mallards and these other guys, I’m not sure what they are—do you know?

Unidentified birds in the barranca which is, obviously,
protected by a chain link fence.

The mallards were just messing about in the water (I think). The other guys—maybe Pacific Coast Slime Eaters?—were nibbling green slime off the wall. Anyway, meanwhile, Bed Bath & Beyond found the Upper Peninsula and made a cutting board out of it. Bless them.

Mallards in the barranca.

Friday
Seriously, why would I stop doing this?

Saturday
There’s a trolley that runs through town and it’s free and it stops nearby, well, maybe almost a mile once I think about it, but, it seems nearby (is closer as the crows and gulls fly) and I hear the driver clanging the bell sometimes when I am in the kitchen or bathroom or bedroom, clang clang, and I’ve wanted to ride the trolley—take it from here to downtown or from here out to the ocean and the ice cream place out there by the ocean—ever since I found out about it, which was pretty soon after I got here, so maybe two or so months ago. Dogs are welcome on the trolley, so I thought wow, Josie and I will do that, one day real soon, we’ll check out that trolley. But we never did. Until today. I took the trolley downtown. Josie stayed home. There was this big street fair downtown (and late this afternoon something called a “wine walk” and then this evening they make it snow, somehow, and it’s all very exciting, I hear, but I don’t know what that’s all about, anyway, I decided to skip the wine and snow), and dogs were welcome at the street fair (I estimate small dogs in attendance outnumbered large dogs something like sixty-three to one with medium-sized dogs numbering about five), but I left Josie home because I thought I’d go in some resale shops—Ventura is the Crown Jewel City of Thrift Stores—to see if I couldn’t find a white sheet or cloth of some sort for three or four dollars that I would then put under the tree I plan to get—my first Christmas tree in years—because I want a tree for the scent. The pine scent. You see, I walked out of a grocery store one day recently and right there were some Christmas trees for sale and the scent—the scent of the woods and the pine and the tar and the north and I could even imagine snow falling and just someplace else altogether—well, it stopped me cold. I stood there breathing deep. So thankful. And another day at a stoplight we were next to a truck pulling a flatbed trailer full of wire-bound fir trees stacked on their sides one on top of the other and Josie started growling and barking. The trees were on his side of the road and the window was down as it always is when we are at a stoplight and he wants to sniff and see where we are. Where we’re going. Josie growled and barked at this load of Christmas trees. I have plenty of room for a tree and I’ll get a string of lights and make some ornaments and the scent will be pine, beeswax, and, maybe, even, I hope, eucalyptus. And cinnamon. And we’ll play some Christmas songs and it will be Josie and Elliott’s first Christmas and first Christmas tree and hallelujah.

Maybe I’ll order those rib tips from Hecky’s, have them shipped.

I found a white sheet for $2.95.

And there goes the trolley, clang clang.