Friday, January 29, 2010

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to.

So my birthday is coming up. I want a pair of Wellington boots. My $1 garage sale Sperry Topsiders are beginning to develop hairline cracks, so I want some Wellies because I have wanted Wellies for YEARS now and they just don't turn up at yard sales or thrift shops here. Nobody in soCal has them in stock. It appears I am forced to buy them online, which is very daunting because now I can get them in about 20 different colors and two different finishes and frankly that's too many choices for me! Do I go for bright obnoxious shiny shades like violet or pea green, or for camouflagey all-purpose shades like dark brown, black or original Scottish green? I imagine insane scenarios wherein a crazy killer is loose in the woods and I either live or die based on whether I am able to hide in the brush. Knee-high violet rubber boots would surely give away my hiding place.

Yes, I am crazy. I just keep a tight lid on it most of the time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

As if I'm not already busy enough

I am trying to organize a women's musical collective. Composing a Craigslist ad for this is tricky, as I attempt to convey that we are not looking to establish a mystical Lilith Faire-type feminine empowerment group, but rather just looking to play music without having to deal with any male/female sexual tension or the occasional patriarchal nonsense that can occur when working with men. I've found a woman named Linda who is a drummer, and we are trying to attract chicks who play pretty much anything to have a once a week (or once every other week) jam session.

Intermediate Algebra is in full swing. So far I am at 100% but I know that will inevitably slip. I had to turn in today's homework with two "I do not understand the question" answers. Since that's 2 out of roughly 100 problems, I hope I won't get dinged for lack of completion. We are working on linear functions now, using slope and y-intercepts. Do you remember f(x)= m*x+b? It's apparently all graphing from here on out. I find graphing tedious, but Daniel LOVES this stuff so at least I have an enthusiastic tutor when I need him. My professor fits loosely into the "loveable a-hole" category; he is entertaining and loaded with personality and mocks students very gently. He tried to give me a sticker this morning because I got a perfect score on the quiz (YES I'm bragging), which is absolute mockery but I don't mind.

Our insane, possibly drought-busting (temporarily) rains have made quite a headache for me. The chicken's run is soggy mud and their bedding got wet. I need to fence off the veggies and let the girls run loose in the side yard. This SUCKS because I am busy and lazy and the thought of fencing it off makes me want to cry a little bit. I'd better go forage for broken branches in the creek and get started.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some Good News

Amos is going home. His family told him to just leave his things and they will help him get set up when he gets there. His son will buy him a one-way ticket and Amos will bring whatever he can on the plane. Amos is determined to have the dignity of paying me back, so he is going to give me most of his possessions to sell. I did not tell him my conditions for repayment - that if I make more than what the ticket cost I'm sending it to him in Mississippi. Actually, he charged me nothing for all the labor he did at my Mom's house yesterday, so some of the ticket is already paid off!

He's so excited. The part of MS they live in is rural and everybody has horses, and Amos can't wait to ride and rope and be a cowboy again. I'm actually pretty jealous. He says he doesn't want to roam anymore and hinted that he hopes he'll marry "Miss Jones," the lady he met when he was out there. I hope it goes well, I don't want him to get discouraged and feel like running away again.

Friday, January 15, 2010


It's going to take me a few weeks to recover from this.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Long Shot

We are looking at another property up in Silverado Canyon. It has issues, so we may not even be able to get a loan for it. But we're at least going to look at it. Even with the issues, it has excellent potential.

BREAKING NEWS: we put an offer in tonight. There are three other offers. We can only hope ours is the strongest. Bleccchh. I will almost certainly get my heart broken again, like last year with the Avocado House, but what would life be like if we never tried?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Snags & Starts

I promise I will continue the eulogy. But not today.

We've hit a small snag in getting Amos back to Mississippi. Even the smallest U-Haul will cost $1300. I need to investigate truckers with empty or partial loads. Amos is thinking of buying a cheap van (if he can even save any money) and then selling it when he gets there. Dan wants me to gently suggest that Amos sell some of his less-necessary goods and then try to replace them secondhand when he gets home. I'm going to have Amos help me with my gigantic yard sale and then give him the proceeds. I may solicit donations from friends as well.

I start back to school this week. Just one class, Intermediate Algebra, but it's five units so that's plenty. It's the math prerequisite for the introductory chemistry course that I'm considering taking this fall. No matter what field I choose to study, I have to rebuild my math skills. I flat out stink!

We still have absolutely no idea what we're doing with our lives. I had the idea that Dan should look for work in LA, so we could move to Pomona and he could enroll at Cal Poly Pomona to get his masters/credential. But there seem to be precious few jobs for him in LA - again, we are trapped in south Orange County. I hate this golden prison more and more.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Eulogy of Sorts, Part I

Dad was born in Montana in August 1950. He was the third child born to my grandparents, who spent their summers in northwestern Montana (where my grandfather grew up) and their winters in southern California. Grandpa's parents had brought him from Iowa to Montana in a covered wagon in the very early 1900's. Sadly, they emigrated to Montana because the federal government broke yet another Indian treaty, in this case with the Salish (commonly called Flathead) tribe of the Mission Valley. My grandfather always said that he was too stupid to be afraid of the Salish, while his mother was terrified of them.

Grandpa Kinnick never talked about much that happened to him before WWII. Apparently he had a wife who killed herself, and I think another one who left him. We have no idea if he had any children with these women, but I can't find any records of any so I'm going to assume he did not. It always bothered my Dad a little; the possibility he had unknown half-siblings. One family member claims Grandpa and his brothers went to Alaska and opened up a barber shop & pool hall but were run out of town for offering back-room gambling; another relative claims it was not Alaska but somewhere in the mountains of Montana (which is a bit more credible).

Grandpa served in WWII, in the navy. He was an older soldier; by the time the war ended he was 42. He met my grandmother when, quite shockingly, she was not yet seventeen. He was a handsome, friendly veteran and I imagine as a teenage farm girl from a stern Norwegian family she was quite smitten. They married, and my uncle J was born 7 months later. Yes, you read that right.

After Uncle J came Uncle Steve, then in 1950 came Dad. So I guess this is where the story of Dad starts, and where Part I ends.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Nerding Out

First, Yosemite was AWESOME once I let go of my expectations. I had a rather pissy moment when I realized that we had schlepped the snowshoes all that way just to find the snow on the valley floor not deep enough to warrant them. But we hiked to Mirror Lake, went to Badger Pass and learned the basics of cross-country skiing (which is much cheaper and better exercise than downhill), and saw AMAZING views. There was this one moment coming back on the bus from Badger Pass and we went by Tunnel View... I found a picture from somebody we must have driven right by. SERIOUSLY DOESN'T THIS MAKE YOU DIE:

I'm going to get that printed as a gift for Dan. OHMYGOSH. My Mom seemed to enjoy the trip as well. We stayed at my Uncle J & Aunt Joan's for two nights as well, and my Uncle Steve and Aunt Debbie and cousin Joel came down to see us on New Year's Day and it was the most glorious ball of happiness anybody could ask for. My uncles make me weep with laughter and Aunt Debbie gave me another Elnasuper sewing machine and a quart-size Ziploc FULL of vintage sewing feet and my Aunt Joan is just the best hostess anybody could ask for...I LOVE my family.

As for the nerding out, I got more backpacking stuff. For my friends who are not into this magnificent obsession, I have a gigantic weak spot for cool ultralight stuff that lets me enjoy what I do without crying every time I put on a backpack. Dan got me a space-age sleeping pad, a NeoAir, that weighs stinking 13 ounces and is fatter and longer than my old pad that weighed in the neighborhood of two pounds (but made for an awesome night's sleep). I should compose an entry tracing my history with getting into backpacking and then "converting" to light/ultralight packing.

In the sad news category, tomorrow is one year since Dad died. Wow, that is surreal. Some people would probably drink a lot, and believe me since I come from a line of alcoholics I can empathize. I'm listening to louder music in the car a lot more often. I need to finally write a eulogy of sorts. He was such a great guy.

Monday, January 04, 2010

My Friend Amos

I met Amos some time after we moved into this house. I was on a junking expedition in a neighborhood close by and saw a driveway full of stuff. I wanted a table in the pile, so I stopped to ask if it was all being sold, junked, or what. Amos answered the door, but he was only renting a room in the house so he had no idea. He was bleary-eyed and his speech was slurred and I had obviously woken him up. We chatted a bit, he admired my big old Suburban (I miss that monstrosity) and we parted ways. That pile of stuff stayed in the driveway for weeks, and I stopped one other time, only to meet Amos again and be told that the owner was a hoarder with a house and backyard full of stuff, but would accept $100 for the table. No thanks, I said.

Weeks later, Amos came to my door, very pleased that he had recognized my car and found my house. This would normally be a scary thing, but I could sense a good heart in Amos so my only fear was in doubting my judgment. I decided to not be afraid. We talked more and it became obvious to me how financially destitute Amos was. He is a handyman, jack-of-all-trades. I told him I wanted to learn to work with wood and he offered to teach me, and I began offering to drive him to local jobs to save him hours of walking or inefficient bus routes. Over the months of our friendship I discovered he was originally from Mississippi, had adult children there (Amos is easily old enough to be my father), but I suspect a restless heart and probably some depression/alcohol issues led him west in search of something, although I don't think he's drinking at all now. He would never say exactly why he came west. He calls himself a cowboy; his nickname is California Wild West, or C.W. for short. I asked him if life is so hard for you here, why not go back to family? He'd just say that he had to be out west. He moved to Anaheim when the people he was living with moved there, but was unhappy because the people really didn't want him with them anymore. He still had customers in my area so he still stopped in every couple of weeks.

Last fall I hired him to do some work for my mother. I'd pick him up in Anaheim and drive him to Chino. One morning we drove past a park and he said "That's where I used to live when I was homeless." The man he lived with had hired him and some other homeless fellows for crude labor and when Amos suggested a better design for storing his ladders the man hired him to do that and said Amos could live with him. Another morning, he told me he was trying to save money to buy a plane ticket back to Mississippi. His son, Amos Jr., was getting his Masters and Amos wanted to see the graduation. I said I'd try to find him more work, intending to hire him to do some work for me. I also offered to buy his ticket and he could pay me for it gradually, because I knew I could get a better price by searching online.

So I bought the ticket, knowing full well there was a remote possibility I'd be scammed. But I bought it anyway because without trust where are we as human beings? Amos got sick and lost quite a few work days and didn't have a dime to his name, but I gave him the ticket anyway and he went to Mississippi for two weeks. He went to his aunt's funeral, he went to the graduation, he spent Christmas with his grandchildren. He called me from Mississippi to have his grandchildren talk to me and his son, too. Everybody called me "ma'am," even after I assured them that wasn't necessary. He came to see me yesterday morning, all alight and happier than I'd ever seen him. He gave me a copy of the graduation program as "proof" (which I never asked for) and told me he wants to move back to Mississippi as soon as he's able. He told me to make a list of jobs he can do to pay me back before he leaves. I can't... I can't find words for what I felt. He was amazed at how much love he'd felt being back home. He also met a lady. He's all fired up. I want him to go back to his family. Now I just have to keep him excited and not let despair set in. I have to get Amos back to Mississippi!