Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Surprising things have happened in the past few days here in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Saturday morning, I found myself overwhelmed by lack of space in my 22-foot Toyota Dolphin. Since I moved here to TorC, I've switched up what I'm selling on eBay. I used to sell mostly small textiles, such as ladies' vintage designer silk scarves, but I wasn't finding that kind of inventory here. So I started selling Western wear, which takes up a lot more room than scarves. Twenty scarves might fit in an envelope, but 20 cowboy shirts takes a banker's box. And there wasn't room for any more boxes or baskets or bags in the Guppy and still be able to do normal living activities like making a meal or getting out the computer or drawing a picture.
I wandered off to have coffee and ran into a friend whose partner owns an apartment building that had a unit available. A few hours later, I rented my little two-room casita, which seems incredibly spacious and luxurious after four months of living in my mini-moho. The attraction here is not just a larger living space. Each little home faces into the courtyard, which is a relaxing place with trees and vegetable beds. The owner's unit has a storefront which will eventually be an art gallery. I have parking for the Guppy and a view of Turtleback Mountain from my kitchen window, where I can sit and watch the colors of the sky change while having my morning coffee.
There are only about a half-dozen residents, and I guess we are all as unconventional as the town we live in. (One of the landlord's interview questions: "Are you psychic?" "Well, yeah, I'm a little intuitive..." "Great, you'll fit right in!")
One of my interview questions to him was whether I may do mosaic artwork on my patio, and the answer was, "Of course. You had to ask?" "Well, no, not really, it was more of a courtesy." This is going to be a very interesting and satisfying place to live.
I moved in yesterday morning. I'd bought a TV before I started traveling in the Guppy, but had never used it. I asked one of my new neighbors how to get reception, and, in the process, another surprise came along. She works at a hot springs spa and lodge a block away, and they need a front desk clerk two days a week. So now I have a job, too. It will pay enough to cover my rent and groceries, and I can continue to do eBay to meet the rest of my expenses. I can also get additional hours to come in and paint trim or other easy projects--AND my new employer would love to have me do some mosaic projects! It's a beautiful place, and they're always doing more to continue beautifying it.
You'd think that would be plenty of surprises, but, oh, no, there are more! I celebrated my 56th birthday on Monday, and I'd invited everyone I knew from AA to join me for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. Amazing to me, since I'd only been in town for two-and-a-half weeks, the big table I'd reserved wasn't big enough and we had to get another one. A dozen folks came to help me celebrate my birthday. Wow! I also had coffee in the morning with a few people who couldn't come to dinner. It was one of the best birthdays I've ever had.
Another great surprise--I was walking past another hot springs lodge the other day. I asked the owner, who was out in front doing some remodeling, whether it would be okay if I stopped by sometime and sketched the beautiful potted cacti they have in front of their building. He said, yes, of course, and introduced me to everyone that works there and showed me the entire facility. This is not just a place to go take a soak--the owner and his partner are internationally known teachers of various therapies such as craniosacral therapy and existential somatics. Don't ask me what all that means. I just know they have a beautiful facility and they get to go spend the summer swimming with dolphins somewhere in Central America. When they come back in a couple of months, they're going to be doing a lot of mosaic around their clinic. They've collected great rocks over the years, and they've purchased a top-of-the-line tile cutter that cuts rocks into tiles. I asked if I could help them with this project, since I'm a mosaic artist, and they happily accepted my offer. We will probably do some kind of barter--my helping them with their mosaic projects in exchange for aquatic therapy and use of their rock slicer. This place is kitty-corner from my new apartment.
So, in a matter of days, I have gone from living near a couple of drunks in an RV park owned by a perennially angry redneck, to having a quirky living situation that is well-suited to my needs, an easy part-time job, and a couple of creative projects for which I'll be compensated. Oh, did I mention that I get unlimited free spas as part of my job?
Now I'm feeling like there was a purpose to my going a little crazy from loneliness and disappointment on the road after all. As it turned out, traveling full-time is not my cup of tea, at least not alone or at this point in my life. But it got me where I needed to be--in a community where I feel very much at home. Sonja is very happy, too.
I wondered if I would need to change the name of my blog once I settled down in TorC, but I think not. Even though I won't be traveling full-time anymore, I will definitely be using the Guppy as my eBay reconnaissance vehicle, heading out to make buying trips throughout the Southwest. With the bulk of my possessions (eBay inventory, vintage fabrics, sewing machine, sheet music, art supplies, books, etc.) moved into my new place, I can travel much more lightly with my motorhome and bring back all kinds of great stuff to sell or to make into art. And I can travel just for the fun of it, no longer having the purpose of finding where I belong.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I'm feeling very good about my move to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I can honestly say that I already have some good friends here. I had one, Brian, before I moved here. And since then I've met a lot of great people in and out of AA.
Last Saturday morning, I went to the farmers market for the first time, and I bought some local organic produce as well as a fantastic green chili salsa. I thought about stopping at Black Cat Books for a cup of coffee on my way home, but decided against it because it was kind of late in the morning and I didn't think there would be anybody there that I knew. However, just as I passed the doorway, my friend Dhultky popped out and said, "Hey, Sue, come and have some coffee!" So I did, and then moments later, Stacy and Dick showed up, too. A few minutes after that, Barbara and Joe were at the next table.
It's that kind of town. I see people I know everywhere I go. When I go to get my computer fixed, Dave the Computer Guy knows my friends and becomes another one of them. When I go to the swimming pool, I see people I've met at the Black Cat's monthly poetry reading. I see my neighbors whenever I go shopping at Bullocks Grocery or the CHF Thrift Store.
I have a feeling that this would be a difficult town in which to keep secrets. It's a good thing I don't have any these days!
I tell everybody I meet that I'm new here, that I'm recently divorced, that I'm in AA, that I'm building myself a new life, that I sell on eBay, that I'm a mosaic artist, that I have a transgendered kid, that I recently got my feelings hurt again, and that I'm trying to be healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have never been so transparent before in my life. There is no point in being anything else.
I didn't dare take one, because I recently
heard about a guy who almost got arrested
when he took a photo of a municipal swimming pool.
Something I like better is the community garden. I met the garden manager, Paula, at the farmers market, and now I have my own 5 x 20 foot plot. It needs a lot of work. It's been well taken care of for four years, so the soil has lots of amendments, but now it's overgrown with grains and grasses. So I'll spend the next few weeks cleaning it up and then put in a fall garden. Gardening in this part of the country is completely new to me. I'll learn a lot, and I'll have to get up really early in order to get the work done before the day gets too hot for me. Last night I set my alarm so I could start getting up at 5 a.m.
My new eBay approach of selling funky Western wear seems to be working. I'm getting into the swing of hitting the thrift stores frequently so I can be the first one to see a new pair of boots or a brightly colored Wrangler shirt when they come in. I'm going to the Post Office just about every day to mail stuff that's sold.
My 56th birthday is coming up in a few days, and I decided to be proactive and figure out some fun things to do. So I've been inviting my friends from AA to meet me for dinner at La Cocina that evening, and so far there are about a half dozen people committed to do this. So that's a party! I'm also going to have coffee with Stacy that morning, because she has to work that evening, and I'm taking my neighbor Phil out for ice cream in the afternoon.
Phil lives in the motorhome next to mine and he has been very helpful to me in many ways. He's an excellent bicycle mechanic and he's on the lookout for a good used bike for me. I also have put entry forms in at Bullocks to win a cool metallic green Schwinn coaster that they're giving away next Tuesday. Wouldn't that be the greatest birthday gift, if I win? It says Bud Light on it, but I can live with that.
There are a few odd things about this town. Well, more than a few, really. For one thing, in the 1970s when so many mentally ill people were released from institutions, some of them were given one-way bus tickets to Truth or Consequences. From what I've heard, only a few of those folks are still alive, but it kind of set the tone for tolerance of individual differences here. And there are a lot of those.
Another thing is, I've never seen so many Chihuahuas in my life, and I've actually had people ask me if I need one myself. No! I don't! But thanks for asking, and don't leave one on my doorstep while I'm out, okay? Leave chard or zucchini or whatever else you can't get rid of, but no little dogs.
I've heard that T or C is the home of some sort of transitory energy vortex, but I'm not going there today.
Something I know for sure is that it's close to Spaceport America, where private companies shoot rockets into space. The first rocket successfully launched from there in 2005 contained cremains of some famous people, including James Doohan, who played Chief Engineer "Scotty" Scott in the original Star Trek series. The payload landed on the White Sands Missile Range, but for a few minutes, Scotty actually went into outer space.
So that's what I know about my new town as of today. Stay posted!
Friday, June 17, 2011
Well, I've been in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, for a week and a day now, and I now have a new sales line on eBay: Funky Western Wear. For the past couple of years, I've focused on selling textiles, particularly vintage silk designer scarves, but I probably won't be finding a lot of this sort of inventory around here. So, as they say, it's easier to plow when you go around the stump. What I can find here in the TorC thrift shops is Western wear, so that's what I'm gonna sell.
I'm settling into a simple life here. I've already met almost all of the other AA oldtimers in town and I'm going to meetings a lot more frequently than I could while on the road. I'm also becoming a regular at Black Cat Books & Coffee. So far it hasn't cost me anything to drink coffee there, because I keep bringing in books that they give me credit for. I've met a few new acquaintances there, and I've attended the monthly poetry reading, which has inspired me to write a couple of poems.
I have The Guppy hooked up at an RV park that's right downtown, so I'm able to walk almost everywhere I want or need to go. I'm on the lookout for a bicycle that will extend my range a little bit. I'm planning to unhook my motorhome about once a month to go on an exploring and buying trip to other towns. I'll need to venture outside TorC a bit in order to find sufficient eBay inventory and mosaic supplies.
So far, I haven't had any hankerings to get out of town. I'm enjoying just finding out about and participating in things that are going on around here. In addition to AA and the poetry reading, I've been to the Art Hop, the movie theater, the library, the grocery store, the variety store, and the post office (I have a P.O. box!).
Tomorrow I'm going to the Farmers Market, a place where I may eventually sell some artwork. I also have a lead on some possible studio/gallery space. There's no hurry on this, though--I sold and gave away all of my mosaic supplies before leaving Oregon, keeping only my tools, so it will be a while before I have any finished pieces to sell.
So that's the news from TorC...where the slogan you're most likely to see on T-shirts is, "We're all here because we're not all there."
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Written on my son’s nineteenth birthday
My son is raised now. It’s just me and the cat.
I’m supposed to miss him. We’ll see about that.
There are those moments of looking back
When the current silence seems to lack
An energy, perhaps a soul
That ought to go inside this hole.
But then I remember—teens don’t talk
To their parents, that is. They turn and walk
And grunt or groan or loudly sigh
To every question, statement or reply.
So, off I went, in my nest on wheels,
To be free for a while, to see how that feels.
And it feels pretty good most of the time.
I’m finding my own space, rhythm and rhyme.
I call him every week just to check
If he needs anything, but what the heck?
Even if he did, what could I do?
I did it all when he was new.
And now he’s grown and needs his space
To make decisions, to fall on his face,
To soar, to climb, to make his way
And I have so little left to say.
Now it’s time to be my own mother
To give to myself, not to another,
The time, the space, the healing calm,
The gift of quiet. I need that balm!
So I travel, I walk, I read, I sit.
I do some artwork, but I won’t knit
Or rock or go to the senior center.
That’s a phase I’m not ready to enter.
Our longer life spans don’t come at the end.
They come in the middle, when we can tend
To all those things we didn’t get to do
When we wanted to, back in ’72.
So Stop the War! Save the Earth!
I won’t give up just because I gave birth.
It’s time for me and folks of my kind
To gather together and speak our mind.
I may be older, but I’m not so far gone
That I can’t experience another dawn
Of awakening, energy, power and peace.
I’ve got the time now to work without cease
For all that I wanted back before
That marriage and the child I bore.
I homeschooled him for many years.
I bandaged his boo-boos, calmed his fears.
Now it’s myself that I homeschool.
I’ve dipped myself in a deepening pool
Of knowledge, wisdom, love and light.
It’s my time now! It’s my right!
So, yes, I admit, I miss my child,
But he’s not gone. It’s me that’s gone wild.
And when I’m gone for good, I hope he’ll say,
“That Mom of mine—she did it her way.”
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
It's my first full day living in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. So far, it's been really good. I have the Guppy parked at the Artesian Spa. My space gets shade in the morning and evening, and my neighbors helped me figure out how to set up my awning, so I get a little shade in the afternoon, too.
This RV park is very affordable, $130 plus electricity per month. I also get my hot mineral baths for half price ($3 per hour), and there are showers, a bathroom, and a laundromat. I stayed here when I was visiting TorC earlier this year, and I liked it enough to come back.
Today I discovered there's a freezer in the laundromat that I can use, as well, with a sign that says it is only for FOOD. I don't want to imagine what prompted that sign to be posted.
The location is great. I can walk to the grocery store, post office, movie theater, bookstore, etc. I'm thinking I will probably get a bike with baskets. My new next-door neighbor rebuilds old bikes and I can probably get some help from him if I buy a used one.
I was thinking that I'd need to find somewhere else to live soon so I could have someplace to do my mosaic artwork. However, the spa owner said it's fine if I start out doing some mosaics in the little yard area that I have next to the Guppy. He'd rather have someone doing artwork than rebuilding an engine. So, for now, the Artesian will work for me.
Later on I will need more space, probably a store front or similar building, for a business I'd like to start here in TorC. But I'm not in any hurry to do this. I don't need to pay rent on a commercial building until I have all of my plans in place. And who knows? If I am content just making and selling my own artwork and continuing to sell on eBay, I may not need or want to do anything more.
I started out my day with a long walk, about 6:30 a.m., while it was still cool. I enjoyed looking at this mural that was designed by artist Dean Stanton and made with the help of 240 TorC Elementary School students just a few months ago, in April 2011.
The mural includes all sorts of scenes related to Truth or Consequences: farming and ranching, the Rio Grande, Native American and Hispanic history, boating and fishing, the hot springs historic district, and more. Sorry my photos aren't better today! I'm having trouble with my mouse and couldn't crop them as I usually do.
I did some thinking about my own artwork while I walked. I'm not sure whether to fold my art blog into this one, or vice versa, or what. Anyway, it seems to me I need to do some sketching of images that are found in my new environment. It will be like learning to draw as a little kid again--you draw what you see every day. Here in New Mexico I've seen lots of windmills, mourning doves, cacti, adobe and stone buildings, mesas and mountains, and sunrises and sunsets. Eventually I'll work some of these images in mosaic. I'm going to take it slow and easy, and just soak up my environment.
I have already learned the advantages of taking a midday siesta. It gets hot by about 9:30 a.m. and stays that way until the sun goes down. It's not an unpleasant sort of heat by any means. I've taken several more walks today to get groceries, a book, and tent stakes for my awning, and so long as I take it slow, it's fine. Perspiration evaporates quickly. But around high noon, I might as well read for a while and take a little nap. Why not?
I have the air conditioning on low here in the back of the Guppy, and it keeps the house pleasantly cool. My fridge is full of cold water, Jumex juices and fresh fruit and vegetables.
My friend Brian is picking me up for a meeting tonight, and I've been on the phone with a new friend I made the last time I was here who will also be the meeting tonight--I'm thinking of asking her to be my AA sponsor.
A bonus today is that I called the mechanic in Oregon who had my old car and he sold it! So I'll have a little money coming in from that, and I can cancel the insurance I've been paying on it.
I'm gearing up to be ready to start selling on eBay again as soon as tomorrow. I can use my shady little patio area for taking photos in natural light. Besides my usual inventory of vintage silk designer scarves, I plan to expand into the area of funky Western wear. Last time I was here in TorC, I saw some great cowboy and cowgirl shirts in the thrift stores.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I am back on the road, and I'm not taking pictures along the way, because I'm on the freeway most of the way. I have seen some awesome big red ball Soaring Sunrises and Soaring Sunsets, but my photography skills don't do them justice.
So, today I will use numbers as graphics. This will also simplify (I hope) the computer skills required, since I have no batteries left in my mouse and am using the touchpad with limited skill.
Three is the number of days I've been back on the road. I was done with my housesitting duties in Georgia on Sunday evening. I had the Guppy all packed up, with my cat Sonja living back in the motorhome, by the time the homeowner returned from her fabulous Italian bicycling trip. So Sunday night, I slept in my rig, and I took off from Serenbe, just southwest of Atlanta, by about 6 a.m. on Monday morning.
Zero is the cost of my overnight stays so far. I stayed at a Love's Truckstop somewhere in Arkansas on Monday night and a Flying J Truckstop just west of Oklahoma City last night. My friend Brian is right--Flying J is the best. They have a nice big parking lot for RVs so you don't have to be right next to the noisy trucks.
Miles per day covered so far, at Guppy Speed, which is pretty darned slow. The Toyota Dolphin has a small 4 cylinder engine that would be more appropriate for a little pickup. Instead it has a motorhome on its back. So it was overloaded from the time it was built nearly 30 years ago. I usually don't go over 60 mph. Engine temperature is optimal at 55 or less.
Miles on the Guppy's new engine that was installed in San Francisco, closer to the beginning of my trip. Actually I'll hit 6000 today when I reach Amarillo, so I'll stop at a Walmart for an oil change.
The number of hours I thought that Sonja was missing on Monday. I stopped to take a break when she sounded very distressed. Parked in a shaded spot in a church parking lot somewhere in northwestern Arkansas. When I went to the back of the rig to check on Sonja, I could not find her anywhere and one of the windows was wide open. So I assumed she'd jumped out. I spent four hours calling her, offering Fancy Feast, crying, cursing God, begging God, reaching out to friends during the limited time my Internet was working (cellphone did not work at all there), etc. I finally drove sadly away, convinced I would never see her again. However, at my next stop, I went back into the rig to change clothes and there was my idiot cat. Apparently she'd hidden in a cupboard under the stove, a place I had not checked.
Four is also the number of cups of coffee it takes me to drive this much every day.
And four is the number of months it took me on the road to figure out some of my onboard electronics, such as my invertor and GPS. When it comes to technology, I'm a person who gives up easily, but fortunately I tried again as I started my trip back West.
Number of lives, out of the original nine, that I figure my cat has left. Sonja was dumped in a park in Edmonds, Washington, along with her littermates and mother back in 2008. I got her at the pound. Since then, she's had two major times of being missing from my care (once on the first day I got her in Edmonds, and once in San Francisco). Monday's faux escape doesn't count.
Pounds I've lost while traveling. I weighed myself yesterday for the first time since leaving Oregon in February. I knew it was a lot. I've had to buy all new summer clothes as I've traveled across the South.
Times I've filled up the gas tank since leaving Georgia.
Temperature in Fahrenheit degrees that it was yesterday as I entered Oklahoma City in the early evening. I saw it on a church electronic reader board, so it must be the God's truth. Fortunately about the same time I stopped at Flying J, a wind came up and cooled things down, so I had the best night's sleep I'd had in a while. Unfortunately, the same wind was blowing really hard this morning, so it felt like I was driving a billboard or a four-masted ship for the first several hours of driving today.
One precious life is what I've been given. Still trying to get it right. I think I might be getting closer.
Also, I'm down to one last nerve sitting here in this messy, noisy McDonald's, so I'm outta here!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
after the prolonged engine fiasco
Serenbe, Palmetto, Georgia
This will be a blog post that has only random pictures of flowers and such, because I can't really show you pictures of the places I haven't been yet.
In one of my recent posts, I shared that I would be moving to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. At that time, I figured on going to New Mexico in the fall or winter, when I'd want to seek warmer weather. I also planned on spending the summer up in the Midwest with family and friends.
However, on consideration, I've decided to go to New Mexico as soon as I'm done housesitting here in Georgia this weekend The reasons are varied, but mostly it comes down to two things that I can discuss publicly. First, my travels having cost me more money than I expected, due largely to needing an engine replacement in San Francisco. To continue to wander about, spending money on gas and places to stay, simply doesn't feel right until I get my slate clean again.
Second, I'm ready to settle down in a community again. This surprised the heck out of me. All my adult life, I've dreamed of getting into a little motorhome and meandering indefinitely. To some extent, that's what I've done on this trip. I've driven all the way across the southern part of the United States, and I've taken months to do it.
However, I also had some commitments and desires that required me to be in certain places by certain times, and that meant driving right past a lot of things I might have stopped to look at, had I given myself completely over to the idea and practice of meandering. I will definitely give traveling another stab in the future and do it more randomly.
At any rate, my travels and my experiences along the way have brought my needs into better focus for me, and what I need to do now is to stop traveling and build my life in one place for a while.
I've been lonely on the road, and for a while I filled that loneliness in the wrong way, by being highly susceptible to sweet nothings and cowboy poetry from a guy who turned out to be wrong for me. I recently cut him out of my life, and things are calmer now. While it's tempting to blame him for my loneliness and the unhappiness that resulted from getting involved with a womanizing snake, another way of looking at this is that he was an angel who dropped into my life and left it at just the right times. His presence and then his absence brought my needs into focus. For whatever reason, his higher self allowed him to take that role in my life.
Contrary to my lifelong beliefs about myself, I am not happiest being a loner. I do need large amounts of time to myself, but I need significant contacts with other people as well. I also need some routines, commitments and practices that bring some stability to my life. The incessant dailiness of things like work, household chores, and committed relationships used to drive me pretty crazy, but lack of these things can drive me pretty crazy, too.
This brings me to the conclusion that it isn't the traveling or the staying put, the work or the leisure, the chores or the sloth, or the choice of being committed or going solo that require my attention right now. What I need to focus on are things inside me that need to be discovered and brought into the light. When I find these jewels that make up who I really am, I'll know exactly what to do.
I just got back from having coffee with a new friend that I met here in Georgia, a very evolved individual. I was telling him that I saw myself as having a mountain of personal work ahead of me. He said that having a mountain is an okay image, if you're a mountaineer who will enjoy the climb and the vistas. But I'm not. I'm a person who has driven a little 4-cylinder motorhome up some mountains very slowly, sometimes scared witless in blinding snow. Mountains aren't my favorite thing.
So my image today of the work ahead of me is the mosaic artwork that I look forward to taking up again once I settle in Truth or Consequences.
Mosaic involves many small, decisive steps. I break china and tiles. I pick out the best bits and dispose of the things that won't work. I carefully nip the pieces I keep into desired sizes and shapes.
Sometimes I go outside and find bits of nature that I can use, or I'll get shiny things from other artists to include in my own work. Occasionally I even make my own tiles from scratch, carefully forming them, firing them several times--a lot of effort for little tiles, but the result is something unique that will stand up to all kinds of stresses for a long time.
I look for a solid base to mosaic. A piece of furniture with "good bones," as they say in the antique biz. That means high quality wood and clean lines, a design that can be enhanced by the addition of the precious materials I've so carefully gathered and prepared.
Then it comes together. I stand up and survey the entire collection of items, and begin solidly gluing the tesserae into place. When the glue dries, I go back over everything with grout, and then clean away the excess. The result is a piece of artwork that is both beautiful and functional.
Usually the result is not what I had planned. I have an image in my head of what the final piece should look like, but while assembling it, I'm in a happy, meditative state, and then it turns out some other way. I often think that God is the one who actually decides what goes where in this process.
This is exactly what I need to do with my life. Break it apart, select the good, remove the bad, and bring it all solidly together, with God's help and direction, in a new way that will be beautiful, lasting and rewarding.
I've spent the last year-and-a-half leaving my old life--a long time marriage that should probably have lasted only a handful of years. For a year after separating, I tread water in Oregon. When the cold, wet grayness became more than I could take anymore, I went on the road. Now it's time to start building the life I'm meant to have, in the sunshine.
So I leave Monday. I haven't figured out my itinerary. I don't know if I'm going to take time to visit folks along the way or just hightail it to New Mexico. I don't know much of anything right now, but I know...I really do know...exactly what to do.