Call of The Void

There’s a certain overpass in San Diego where a couple of freeways intersect and there’s one particular stretch that always gives me butterflies because it seems as if you could keep going and fly off the road.

It’s not that I WANT to go flying, but it’s an unsettling primitive curious impulse, “…if I don’t follow the curve of the road and I keep going, I wonder what that would feel like…”

The French have a phrase that explains it far better than I could:

L’appel du vide

L’appel du vide literally means “the call of the void,” and describes a strong or compelling urge one might feel to jump or fall from a high place, such as from a tall building or precipitously soaring cliff.

L’appel du vide does not necessarily or often imply a suicidal or self-destructive longing to plummet from great heights, but rather perhaps a non-destructive urge or itch to try to fly from a cliff or tall building down into “the void.”

It’s a split second rumination, a momentary lapse of rational thought; a suspension of cerebral control — and of course I keep driving ON the road and the urge passes, but not without a bit of adrenal fight or flight activation and I don’t really like that feeling of losing control.

Whew! Just thinking about that causes a bit of anxiety which is why I usually avoid that area unless there’s no alternative course.

If you live in the San Diego area, can you figure out what freeway location I’m referring to?

Random Chat With a Graceful Soul

Do strangers sometimes strike up random conversations with you in public?

Me, too.

Yesterday, standing outside Trader Joe’s, contemplating their plant display, I wondered if I should bring another one home. I spied a pretty little olive tree. My green thumbed son got one at his Traders and it’s now about fifteen feet tall, but that’s the difference between a drought climate and the Pacific Northwest, I guess.

As I pondered this decision, I noticed an elderly lady next to me seemingly in similar deliberations. She was beautifully attired like my mom would have been to go out for the day in a gorgeous dress with heels, accessorized with a sparkly brooch. Her hair was carefully coiffed.

Such a gorgeous human.

I picked up one olive tree and put it back, not sure if I wanted to potentially kill another living being. It’s difficult to grow a lot of things here with barely any rain and restricted watering. Even if it’s not restricted, the cost to effectively water is prohibiitve.

I pointed to the olive trees and said to her, “Are you thinking of getting one, too?”

She replied, “I would, but I can’t see how big it will get.” She had a bit of an accent.

I read the little informational sticker on the pot and told her, “Ten to fifteen feet unless it’s pruned.”

Then I shared with her my son’s successful experience with the olive tree in his garden and how it already created a few actual olives.

After that, she proceeded to tell me one wonderful story after another about growing up on an olive farm just outside of Rome.

Every fall, “just about this time”, she said, they’d pick tons of olives for eating and pressed olive oil and sold it all.

The olive trees outside of Trader Joe’s brought memories flooding back from her youth and you could tell she was wistfully remembering what were obviously happy times with her family.

I told her it was no wonder she had beautiful skin from all the olive oil and she smiled, reached out a hand to touch my arm, and thanked me for taking the time to talk to her.

Actually, it was MY pleasure.

I could have listened to her talk for hours. The stories about her childhood during and after WW 2 were fascinating. I wonder how and why she came to live in California.

(No, I didn’t get the tree, but it’s still under consideration.)

A Fork in the Road

Literally.

On my walk home from the beach, near the train tracks, I looked down and saw this fork in the road.

A single fork with nothing else around it; not a flimsy plastic utensil from takeaway, but a silver fork with a blue handle, part of set, I’m sure.

Thank goodness it was pointing in the same direction I was heading, because if not, that would have definitely caused me to stop and ponder my next step.

I’m not sure what, if any symbolism I’m supposed to glean from this random fork in the road, but I’m relieved to have quite possibly been given a heavenly sign that I was on the right path.

Regardless, it was the route that would eventually bring me home — and for me, like Dorothy, there’s no place like home.

I left it there to help guide others on their own journey, but I did bring home a silky black raven’s feather to add to my collection.

Remembering Bandit

I love these photos of Bandit because as sweet as she looks, this girl took absolutely no shit from anyone.

One minute she would allow herself to be stroked and loved and her long silky fur brushed, and seemingly for no reason at all, except maybe to herself in her weird kitty brain, she’d lash out and inflict serious damage with her teeth or claws.

Late in life, Bandit was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and chronic renal failure. With the help of a great vet, we did all we could to extend her quality of life as long as possible, but on July 26, 2010, at the age of thirteen, there was no denying that her journey as my spiritual kitty daughter had come to an end. The doc came over and assisted her transition over the Rainbow Bridge.

Bandit is the one I still dream about; freaky lucid dreams as if she’s still here with me.

Rest in peace, my furry little soulmate.

Wisdom from His Holiness The Dalai Lama

How to overcome negative emotions with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama

Every single time I hear him speak, I’m filled with gratitude for the time we spent together and how he touched me: mind, body, spirit, and soul.

He’s a special, special gift of light and love and wisdom.

April’s Angst

I don’t know what the heavens have unleashed, but since April 1 every day seems to bring a new disaster, a series of unfortunate events…

—I tore or somehow injured my medial collateral ligament on my right knee, the one that had previous injury issues! Talk about collateral damage…It’s starting to heal; KTape is my new best friend.

—The day after our big rainstorm, I went out to my pond to empty the filled up basin so I could use the water for the garden. There used to be a waterfall with a motor that kept things moving along, but that’s no longer working cos it’s some sort of big job to fix the electricity.

—I very gingerly knelt down to protect my painful knee. I then leaned IN (not the kind that Sheryl Sandberg wrote about) with a small container to transfer the rain water to a larger bucket. Everything was still slick with the inch of rain we had and as I leaned my left hand on the rocks surrounding the pond (some cemented in, some not) I apparently leaned on a rock that was NOT cemented in which was super slick and my left hand slid right in the water, while my right hand which had been acting as a stabilizer got sliced on the other rocks. There was blood EVERYWHERE.

That’s not even the worst of it. I fell so hard and unexpectedly that the larger cemented in granite boulders directly collided with my upper left quadrant rib area. I have prominent ribs and oblique muscles so there wasn’t a whole lot to cushion the blow, which felt like I got hit by a bus. Now I have either bruised or cracked ribs or cartilage, not sure which as I’m going to wait as long as possible to call the doctor. I think that’s called “blunt force trauma.” I figure as long as I’m not having a problem breathing, I can be pretty sure that my lung wasn’t damaged, not so sure about the spleen, but I’m hopeful the ribs caught the brunt of it.

Did you think that was it?

Nope, there’s more…

—Yesterday I went in the shed to take out all the deck cushions and toys to get ready for a visit from the Angels. (My ribs are sore and I know I shouldn’t be lifting anything heavy.) I haven’t really been all the way in there for a while, maybe only briefly to get a rake or some clippers so I was absolutely SHOCKED to see that everything was covered in layers of fresh and old rat droppings. It is quite literally the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.

Apparently in our tight housing market, the first rats to move in must have communicated this free space to their entire extended family and they set up an elaborate condo development. The rats also ate completely through the plastic bags of fertilizer and snail killer, which was NONtoxic (unfortunately).

I thought about cleaning it up myself, but as I looked around at the filth and contamination, I realized that it was beyond my capability. I don’t even know what I’d do if I saw a rat run out of there; I’d probably be scarred for life. The shed also appeared to be a perfect breeding ground for the hantavirus which I definitely didn’t want to breathe in and become infected with, so I found a company that’s coming with biohazard gear and they’re going to take everything out, vacuum up the droppings, disinfect it all, and help me figure out how to avoid another catastrophe like this in the future.

I love all animals but the not the ones that bring disease.

You have to know that a situation has to be REALLY REALLY bad if I don’t clean it myself. I have pics but you probably don’t want to see them. The only one who seemed interested was Angel Boy 2.0 who wanted me to flip the camera around so he could see.

“Show me the rat poop, Grandma!” “Wow, that’s a lot!”

Yuck. I’ve lost my appetite, hope I didn’t do the same to you.

This garden has possums, coyotes, bobcats, hawks, and owls; all of whom include mice and rats on their menu. I’ve tried to make a hospitable environment for them here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells and all I ask in return is that they keep my space rodent free — and they let me down. They failed. I’m very disappointed in our relationship.

What more could April bring? I don’t even want to know. Tell me when it’s my birthday month of May, OK?

UPDATE: The rat guy left and the infestation was so bad that a lot of stuff had to be discarded!! It’s all clean and disinfected now, but WOW. If anyone’s in the SoCal area and needs similar services, I 100% recommend Pacific Coast Animal Control.

Strange Encounters

Do you listen to your inner voice? Do you pay attention when you’re in a situation and something doesn’t feel right?

I know it’s a been a good long time since we’ve gathered in groups. For me it’s been a bit more than two years because I had a feeling that this mystery virus was worse than anticipated and stopped going to the gym or any other public event at the end of February 2020, a couple weeks before the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Now we’re in this sort of post-pandemic limbo coupled with a country inhabited by repression and rampant racism, banned books, elected officials who want to turn the clock back to a time where women had ZERO rights (reproductive and otherwise), and schools are prohibited from teaching certain subjects and acknowledge individual gender identity — and if we add the genocide in Ukraine, the world seems bleak.

A few days ago I had every intention of attending an all day seminar but I left after a few minutes.

Here’s why:

Right off the bat I got some weird vibes (only way I can describe it) from a group of guys that were clearly in the military. There were about a dozen of them, very young and all unmasked although masks were still required. They stood in the hallway just outside the room. One of them, way too clean cut and extremely militant looking, for some reason picked me out and started interrogating me with rapid fire questions in an insistent, belligerent, almost hostile, overly assertive voice, “Are you the teacher?” “Do you know where we’re supposed to go?” “Are you taking this class, too?” I took a moment to breathe and assess the threat level (haha) and responded, “You sure do ask a lot of questions” and he tried to stare me down before he walked away to stand with the guys he arrived with. It’s not easy to intimidate me so he obviously picked the wrong person. I might be only five feet tall, but that’s misleading if anyone thinks I can be bullied. I can turn into ghetto grandma in the the blink of an eye. (Namaste, y’all.) My initial feeling is that they were white supremacist/Oathkeeper-types. No, I have no proof, only a feeling, and not a good one. Why they were there didn’t make sense.

I observed another man, older, also unmasked, making the rounds of the room before the seminar started. He seemed to think it was one of those instant speed dating events as he chatted with all the women. When he came up to me, I purposely made no eye contact but he didn’t seem to care. “You must be cold. YOU MUST BE COLD.” I glanced at him. “Your arms are folded, you must be cold.” I ignored him. I don’t play the “friend finder” game. He was annoying and obnoxious. He walked away without escalating his sales pitch, thank goodness.

I don’t think it was ME — I wasn’t spewing negative energy — I was minding my own business.

The instructor showed up and closed the door. I was sitting all the way in the back nearest the exit and counted about fifty people in the room with only ten masked, including myself. All I could think about was the newest variant and how it might not be prudent to be stuck in a room with no open windows or air circulation.

When I quietly told the instructor’s assistant that I didn’t feel comfortable being there, she was extremely gracious.

I feel like I totally did the right thing by leaving for all the reasons.

I wonder what the story was all about with those Marines because they were out of place. I heard the instructor and his assistant talking about them too, so I know it wasn’t just me. Something didn’t fit. Something wasn’t right.

Are things back to normal for you now? Would you have stayed?

Fly, Dragon, Fly

Isn’t this the most vibrant orange? I’m in love with this little guy.

Flame Skimmer, Libellula saturata

Dragonfly species that are orange include a variety of skimmers, such as the flame skimmer, firecracker skimmer, golden-winged skimmer, or Needham’s Skimmer.

Orange dragonflies can symbolize joy, creativity, wellness, and sensuality. This relates to the second/sacral chakra, which is orange.

There is magic all around, if you stop and look.

As Robert Bly said, “To be wild is not to be crazy or psychotic. True wildness is a love of nature, a delight in silence, a voice free to say spontaneous things, and an exuberant curiosity in the face of the unknown.”

Are You Worried, Too?

It seems to me that we’re all still worried about this and that and everything else; I was grateful to see Mary Oliver pop up at the right time to share her wisdom–as always.

Don’t worry though, I still won’t sing–nobody wants to hear THAT, so I’ll leave it to the birds.

I Worried

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?
Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Danger?

On this beautiful new moon Lion’s Gate day, I woke up extra early to walk to the beach and back, about six miles or so. I like to get home before the blazing sun gives me heatstroke.

As I walked past the house of a friend of a friend who’s a Shamanic practitioner, I heard her voice in my head saying, “You’re in danger.”

I mean, I heard it as clear as if she was standing next to me. I actually looked around to see if she WAS there. It was absolutely the furthest thing from my mind. I was focused on a spectacular morning, walking to the ocean, and awesome exercise.

In the old days, I would have ignored these voices, messages, warnings, but I have learned to pay attention.

“Oh well” I said to myself. “Forewarned is forearmed.” Right?

A couple blocks further, I noticed about five crows sitting on a fence. I swear, one of them looked right at me. I said, “Hi cousin”, because that’s how I always refer to my crow family.

One by one, they flew in front of me and away.

Hmmm. This was a bit strange but not dangerous.

I continued to walk. On the next block, I saw smoke billowing out of the garage roof of a house on the corner, It didn’t smell like barbecue-type smoke, so I knocked on the door. I knocked and knocked and no one answered. I walked back around the corner in time to see five foot flames and a woman throwing a bucket of water on them but it seemed as if that wasn’t working. At this point, other neighbors came out and we all called the fire department at the same time. The fire was quickly extinguished but it could have been really bad because the garage was packed with things and the entire house could have been lost.

Was that the danger I needed to be aware of? Where there’s smoke, there’s fire???

I continued my Odyssean-like journey to Lake Pacific. Not only were there no waves, but I didn’t see whales or dolphin, either.

Walking home, I looked down and saw a crow feather. A few feet away, I saw another, and this one I picked up and put in my backpack.

At a four-way stop, I crossed the street in the crosswalk. There were cars at all the stop signs, but I was clearly in the middle of the street when a car decided to inch forward, ignoring the obvious fact that my visible body was right there. I looked at the driver. He looked at me. I said WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK ARE YOU DOING and other un-princessy things like that. He continued, as if to hurry me along.

OH HELL NO.

This former Detroit ghetto girl still has the ability to be a stubborn beeyotch. I slowed down to a snail’s pace — so slow that a sloth would have won the race — while the people in the other cars gave me a thumbs up and shook their heads at the nerve of that entitled Range Rover. WTF was that all about?

When I eventually made it to the other side of the intersection, I wondered if THAT was the danger I needed to protect myself from?

The remainder of the walk was uneventful. I’m home now, the sky is blue, it’s sheets changing day. Maybe I’ll spritz a little Chanel on my thousand thread count linens to greet me tonight and envelop my body in the lingering fragrance of Chance.