Grossly Incompetent: Self-Righteous Idiocy

A few weeks ago, Friday March 16, I removed a tick from my inner  thigh. I am unsure how long it was attached, but I can confidently confirm he/she was sucking away. I immediately attempted to remove the tick and found it to be a little more difficult than I had envisioned. When I would tug on him/her the skin on my leg would completely lift up and I could feel the pull. I decided to give a nice big yank and see what happend. I was in luck. I pulled the parasitic abomination out in entirety. I immediately ran to the kitchen and grabbed a paper towel to place the infectious varmen in. I took one quick look and become so overwhelmed that I went directly to the fireplace and tossed it in.

I know ticks carry Lyme so I decided to take pictures of the bite; I would be able to monitor and have a record of what transpired this way. At first it didn’t look bad, but by early Saturday Morning I was a little concerned. The area was still red and had a rashy look. It still was nothing like the horrific google pictures, but it was looking a little conspicuous. I decided to take morning and evening pictures to help my documentation and by Saturday night I was a little concerned.

I sent the pictures to my brother, a medical employee who has years of service as an EMT and a veterinarian technician. His reply was simple, “go to the Dr. and get some Doxy. Time is critical”. Well heck, that’s not what I was hoping to hear. I also sent the pictures to Monique who was out of town for the week volunteering at an event for at risk children. She is also a Lyme recovery and has been symptom free for 6 years. She promptly called and expressed her concern. She also expressed her concern that many doctors do not listen and for me to be cautious to arrogance. Hmmm. I know that battle as I suffered its appearance during my Celiac Diagnosis. I wasn’t going to go to the ER, cost reasons, but I would go, on Monday, to a doctor.

By the time Monday morning rolled around there was no mistaking it. There was a tiny, about the size of my pinky nail, bullseye on my inner thigh. I promptly looked up an infectious disease specialist and gave them a call. I was informed that without a referral I wasn’t going to be seen and they are unwilling to give any advice over the phone. There only advice: go to Urgent Care. Wow, these people could care less whether I was ok or not. I took the advice and went in to our local Urgent Care in Santa, Cruz. It was operated by a large health care chain.

It took about an hour for the Dr. to come in and see me. I explained what had happened and he looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, it looks like a bullseye rash, but it isn’t one. It isn’t big enough. Also if the tick wasn’t on you for over 24hrs you can not contract Lyme. I’ve been doing this for 20 yrs and that isn’t Lyme. However; since you don’t know how long the tick was on you I’m going to give you a dose, two 100mg pills of Doxy, to take care of it. If any Lyme did get in this will prevent it from developing and you will be fine.” What the BLEEP! Monique was livid. I brought her with me as she has dealt first hand with the disease and cares about me more than the Dr. To him I am #6219544. The doctor assures us it’s not Lyme by saying it doesn’t look big enough. No test is ran, no discussion of possible symptoms, and no concern is shown. With this we make are leave.

Monique and my brother are both furious and urge me to start a treatment of Doxy, twice a day, until symptoms are not present. Both are sure I have Lyme; now, I am sure I do as well.

It’s been roughly three weeks since I was bitten and I can honestly say it has not been the easiest. Herxheimer reactions can be down right debilitating. The fatigue I experience is difficult to transcribe, the ache in my joints is beyond bearable, and nothing helps take any of the symptoms away. It’s just part of the die off. The last one I had lasted for two and a half days. I managed not to let it keep me out of life though. I went to a Shen Yun performance and helped collaborate on the development of a childrens pirate ship; however, my external expression was no less than ailing. I can say that I am feeling better now than I have since I was bitten.

I’m not sure how long I will be afflicted with this dreadful disease, I have read some reports of it being chronic, but I’m determined not to let it put me down. Yes, it did knock me down, but it hasn’t put me down. Oh, and I have continued planning and prepping for our long distance hike. I’ll have more to come on that in the near future.

 

“There is nothing so stable as change” ~Bob Dylan~

Soap Box Truth: A Hasty Retreat, Avoidance, Dismissal, and Shunning

Current world events are staging to redirect the entire populace of this beautiful planet towards the vulgar, grotesque, repugnant, cringeworthy, abominable, nauseating, and insufferable disgust that is war. Don’t plan on being informed of this by your local news outlet, e.g., newspaper, journalist, news station, or any other form of controlled, artificial news. These types and forms of news are designed to distract and persuade to the point of control. It is their “job” to drive how the populace thinks. Check for yourself. All one needs to do is tune into a news station and try to find a story that is beyond, or far removed from, sensationalism. Find a story promoting a coming together of nations, a unifying of people, or a conflict solution through synergy created by collaboration. All very tough finds.

Truth is a kleptocratic governing body will steal more than just your wealth. They will also rob you of your free will and oppress you to the utmost while increasing privation all the more frequent. This governing body is made up of more than politicians. It includes news anchors, journalist, police officers, military personnel, teachers, supervisors, managers, sales representatives, and any other position that places morality on the back burner for purposes of economics and blind obedience. These perfidious parasites spew their mendacious venom in all directions and play biase to their income generator. In doing so they divide humanity, incite riots of race, spark violence as a solution, and educate for conformity. So how do we help change this course of self destruction?

Simple, we change ourself. When we do this and operate within a construct of moral, righteous behaviour we inspire our self; however, that inspiration isn’t limited to our self. It touches others as well. This wouldn’t be a bad thing to perpetuate. Yet how many will take up the call for the betterment of humanity? How many will be courageous enough to follow their true, inner self?

As unpleasant as the truth is it is still no less than truth. I would encourage all, myself included, to stop and consider the moral implications of what we each do in our day to day lives. Consider as well: One does not have to follow an order because it is demanded of them. Fear oppresses freedom, obedience oppresses free will, and oppressed liberty is slavery’s welcome.

“If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.” ~John F Kennedy~

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Transient Pleasures

As one directs efforts and attentions towards goals they may find inspiration leading them in a different direction. It may sprout, like a spring flower, slow and after the appropriate circumstances have developed. Then again, it may develop, like a supercell thunderstorm, fast and furious over a rather short period. Regardless of how it came to be, the creation is so strong it changes the entire course and direction of their life. Welcome to our current situation.

As we worked and applied efforts toward our Alaska adventure we couldn’t help but feel the pull of a familiar nature. Like a fish toying with the fisherman’s bait it would tug and then release, tug and release. What was this intermittent tugging and why was it reaching for us? Neither of us could define the answer or cause, yet we couldn’t help but listen. We knew, just as a fisherman does, we will eventually catch the fish or miss it altogether, but an attempt to catch success would be made.  Then, one night, while working in Santa Cruz, it happened. The fish was hooked!

It happened as Monique and I were sitting at the dinner table. I made, audibly, the observation that it seemed neither of our hearts were in the venture we were planning. Yes, we both enjoyed the thought of traveling to Alaska, the numerous opportunities it would present, the wonderful people we would meet along the way, and the freedom, but the enthusiasm was lacking. Not just from her, but me as well. There was something else we both wanted. I asked, “what do YOU want to do? What resonates within that aches to be released? Her response, “finish the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)”. As the last words left her lips I felt my internal vibration jingle a jangle that is the voice of truth. This same desire had been weighing on me. It is one of the two incompletes in my life.

It took all of ten seconds for us to decide that this is what we wanted to do, but not just the two of us. We want Lyla to accompany us. She can already outpace me on all our day hikes. Within moments of this decision we were already planning. We had, within an hour, a gear list for Lyla and a timeline plan. However, the most beautiful reward of this is seeing the sparkling oceans of Azure that belong to Monique. 

 

“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” ~GANDHI~

Life Nectar

It’s easy to walk into a kitchen, grab a glass from a cabinet, and fill it from the tap. Presto, thirst quenched in under a minute. What happens though when that option isn’t a viable avenue? What if on top of not having a kitchen you can’t purchase water either? How does one procure the life sustaining drink when the two most culturally accepted methods to obtain them are not pursuable?

I have found, through experience of trial and error, a couple things that helped resolve the above questions. The first being a water filter. I cannot begin to emphasize the value of this little contraption enough. It has the power to turn a brown, cloudy liquid into a clear, crisp revitalizing refreshment. It also removes giardia and a host of other contaminants. We opted for a four liter gravity system for our travels.

The system itself allows us to be hands free while it filters. No squeezing or pumping involved. I simply fill the “dirty” bag with water, hang it from a limb or lay it on a slope, and gravity does the rest. It’s a simple process, but does take time and a water source. Usually around ten to fifteen minutes per gallon. I pass the time by attempting to meditate or sitting quietly just being in my surroundings. E.g., today I filtered five gallons from a mountain stream in a national forest. the water is clear, no cloudiness like when you get it from a city source, and has a crispness that I cannot transcribe. As I listened to the stream I found my thoughts roaming ever more inward until my focus was blurred and time was no place to be found. It is most rewarding. It was in one of these states that I understood a second, helpful tool for the acquisition of clean drinking water. Perseverance!

Yes, I said perseverance. I didn’t associate this with the collection of water until I actually tried gathering it from alternative sources such as mountain streams or springs on numerous occasions. This new understanding arose from much personal experience. A couple contributing factors are unreliable water sources and people. Let me elaborate more on the first factor.

Water can be indicated on a map or atlas by a blue line. This blue line can be either broken or solid, both indicating water. The broken line usually refers to intermittent or seasonal water while the solid line, supposedly, represents a reliable, year round source. Unfortunately with the ever changing climate these solid lines are becoming less reliable. I know, from personal experience through years of travel, that some of these water sources have dried up and some are intermittent. I see this currently in California. Imagine having half a liter of water and driving through a particularly long dry stretch. In the middle of this dry stretch is a solid blue line on your map. However, when you arrive at said blue line you find a riverbed occupied by only loose gravel and dirt. The only option at this point is to drive, even if it’s out of the way, to the next reliable water source. Don’t be discouraged though; not all water sources are like this. I actually believe the second factor to be more irksome.

People, sometimes they’re the worst. They can pose problematic when you aren’t living the way they believe is appropriate or their rules and regulations tell them they are not permitted to accept what you are doing. We were in a National Forest recently when we ran into a rather annoying situation. We came in the back way to avoid the hordes of people and traffic. This has always been a solid way to circumnavigate the delays and avoid being in the way of others. On this trip it was considered the winter season in the forest so I knew not many people would be here. It’s late February and the temperature is swinging from a low in the forties to a high in the sixties. As we entered the park we could see the river about five hundred feet below us, but there was no possible way to descend the drop. Luckily there was a day use area to our right that had a trail leading down to the water. The only problem was a locked rail preventing anyone from entering the area by car. The sign read closed for winter. No worries. I can park off to the side, there are no “no parking signs”, walk around the gate, and down to the water source. We decided to do this and Monique would walk Lyla while I filtered. It took a whole five minutes before I was approached by a forest official saying I wasn’t allowed to be parked where I was, I wasn’t allowed to get water from the stream, and we must leave; safety reasons of course. He didn’t care we had no water and he didn’t seemed concerned if we got any. Our safety and health wasn’t his problem, but the safety of the closed area was his problem and he was to protect that safety at all cost. Perhaps he was concerned the toilet would spontaneously combust and needed to be sure the fire apparatus could make it through in a timely manner. I couldn’t say either way, but I did manage to fill up our four liter water bag. I returned to the van knowing I had at least managed to retrieve a gallon of water. I don’t think he noticed the bag I was holding had water in it. We then drove to the overflow parking near the campground to filter the water. Surely we would be out of the way and not bothersome to any. The campground was open and held around five campers on the forty plus lot. As I set up our water filter a second forest official came over and informed us we couldn’t be in the overflow parking area. Perhaps they were expecting a mass exodus of city dwellers to converge on the campground that evening and we were in great parrel by being parked there. I can’t say for sure though. I politely explained we were filtering some water and then would be on our way. He mumbled something about fifteen minutes and then left. We drove another fifty six miles after this and filled the rest of our water via a stream on the opposite side of the park; there were no officials in this area whatsoever.

I still have not figured out what I did in either situation that was problematic. Both officials seemed burdened by our presence and only wanted our removal as timely as possible. This I deduced through a correlation of words and actions. I must note that not all forest officials are like this. There are service members who commend us for reusing plastic instead of always purchasing new ones, thank us for practicing leave no trace, and express inspiration in what we are doing. These are the stars in the night that give me strength. Don’t be discouraged by naysayers, the opposites, the friendly, encouraging service members, are worth the brief discomfort.

“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules, but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages” ~Banksy

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A “Rusty” Memory

I was working for a rehabilitation and nursing home in Englewood CO., as a custodian, and received the universal gift, love. It was mid-day when I found myself in the room of Mr. Rusty, having a fun round of questioning as I cleaned. This was a reoccuring theme between me and many of the residents. Our conversation soon led to his past and the boxes of pictures residing in his bottom dresser drawer. I’ve always enjoyed looking through photos and enjoying the memory of another’s past experiences.

 

As curiosity tugged at my mind I thought of some things; I have an opportunity to help, psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally, the well being of another. It is a life reward that will bear no financial acquisition, but if money isn’t a motivating factor the treasure is immeasurable. I recall thinking, if I go through these photos my list of “corporate chores” will not get done and there is usually a questioning of why from my superior. I am confident my, although valid and justified, reason will be dismissed and shunned. At this moment I laughed and smiled thinking “I get it”, promptly asking if we could go through the bottom drawer.

 

For the next two and a half hours I sat in a small room of a nursing home learning, laughing, and loving. Turns out Rusty was a fisherman who enjoyed travel. He had an old 1970 something full size truck that had a camper attached to the bed. I still remember the yellowish tone and white stripe down the side of the pickup. The top of his little camper rose up to provide more head room too. He would take this camper to alpine lakes mainly, fishing for trout. He had been doing this, on and off, since retiring from the Denver Dept. of Water. This portion of his life filled an entire photo album. I am still honored knowing he took time out of his day to share a portion of his life with me; however, like all good things, it ended.

 

I was found in Rustys room, sitting cross legged like an Indian with pictures and a photo album around me. The look of shock on the face of the nurse will forever be engraved in my memory. She very curiously asked what I was doing so I informed her. She had an odd, unknowing smile and then told me I was being sought for the last hour. Evidently some water had spilled in front of the nurses station and no other associate had the ability or competence to create a solution: at least one beyond putting a yellow caution sign over it and then looking for the janitor.

 

The smile and joy on Rustys face when I left his room was worth all my trouble, or lack thereof. My supervisor, Clark Kent, never questioned me about the incident either, but I believe that my choice was admired that day by more than just Rusty.  
“There is more to health than physical and more to life than money” ~Team Juice Box

Classy, Employable Homeless

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Securing work is an extensive and arduous undertaking. There are many hours of travel required, countless numbers of estimates wanted, a constant attempt at networking, job cancelations at the last minute, and maintaining a positive, never give up attitude all the while can be daunting. These are a just some of the obstacles we have faced throughout this venture. Nevertheless, we remain steadfast and determined to achieve our goal of procuring enough financial security to travel, via van, to Alaska.

 

Neither of us mind the travel aspect of our jobs. It’s a requirement actually. We are continuously driving thirty to seventy miles, in one direction, to find a suitable gig. We have had to do this for a week straight before finally landing a job. This is an expense, gas, that we must make; however, we have no guarantee we will regain the financial expenditure. It’s a fickle beast, economics. Spending the majority of our time traveling does allow us to see much of the countryside and get to meet many delightful individuals along the way. It also gives us a unique perspective of the climate, geology, and population density of the area while venturing to, sometimes, remote locations for an estimate.

 

One warm Friday morning Monique and I found ourselves in the middle of a Redwood forest looking for a potential clients home. It was a beautiful location, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life in and around San Francisco. As we drove up the quarter mile winding drive, discussing what the estimate was to entail, we checked our schedule to determine an appropriate start date if we were chosen for the work. When we arrived we were greeted, as usual, with smiling faces and welcoming gazes. We were then shown the rooms to be painted and then asked if we had any other areas of trade. I confessed I had drywall experience, but wasn’t up to any job in that area. I also informed them I had practiced roofing roughly 12 years ago and enjoyed it. (I must mention that many times we go to these estimates there is more than painting being wanted. Yes, they advertise as a paint only job, but then want someone who can paint, do drywall, and build a couple shelves all for one low cost. I guess they’re trying to bundle like a cable company to save money. Sometimes we get passed up because we aren’t skilled in multiple trades. I was hoping this estimate wouldn’t be the same as many prior ones.) After looking at the roof, taking measurements, and discussing the entire project we arrived at a conclusion: the roof needed replaced, there was drywall work that needed to be accomplished, some insulation needed replaced due to water damage, exterior and interior paint was required, and a general, overall cleaning was required. All this from a painting ad. Nonetheless, we gave our best attempt and are waiting to hear back.  

 

Along with these estimates we constantly network, talking to locals and people we meet along the way hoping to get a lead. E.g., today Monique met a gentleman at the dog park who is a plasterer. They talked for some time, his dog and our dog playing enthusiastically with each other like cosmic friends who haven’t seen each other in eons, discussing what each did for employment and enjoyment. He shared pictures as the discussion became more friendly and personal to better understand the character of the other. After some time, the gentleman who we shall call Emerald, asked for Moniques number and offered to send us some business if he heard of anyone who needed some painting done. This is our most favorable way to network, nonchalant conversation. Although we do, occasionally, get opportunities this way it also comes with cancellations.

 

On more than one occurrence we have arrived at a job site to only hear it has been canceled. I can recall one job where we finished three quarters of the home only to hear the financial backing had fallen through and the job was no more. We both, Monique and I, enjoy seeing things through to completion so it was disappointing not to be able to finish. We understand this was beyond our control and derived from nothing we had done, but we still felt awkward leaving the job uncomplete. Another time we showed up to the job site the morning of only to receive a call telling us they had chosen to go another route. This being after we made the 35 mile drive, one way, to the defined location. Still on another occasion we were informed, during our walkthrough and estimate, that multiple days would be required and the workload was sufficient enough to involve three complete days. Unfortunately when we arrived they changed plans and only had one day worth of work. This not only plays havoc on scheduling but also on the amount of work we do. These obstacles make it difficult to maintain an upbeat attitude.

 

I found myself, especially in these circumstances, feeling completely alone. Abandoned at the helm of a ship whos controls and understanding are foreign. I stood upon this deck, shirtless and battered by howling sleet as evolutions fury unfolded. Hopeless, everlasting privation gnawing at my insides, muttering words of vicious discouragement. It is in these times that I actually grew an understanding of myself and who I truly am; even if only in the slightest of degrees. As I sulked in my dismay a couple things occured to me. I realized I wasn’t alone. Monique was here, supporting me with encouraging words of optimal positivity and providing a different perspective. I also became aware that my thoughts were influencing me in a negative manner. These unwelcome circumstances are all a part of the life I am living. How I react and adjust to these situations will directly influence my well being and influence those around me. Having a bad attitude or resentment towards another will not provide propitious avenues.

 

Yes we are essentially homeless and do not have a permanent residence, but we are honest, good hearted people who are no less than employable. Our lifestyle is one of a counterculture nature and a path that we find rewarding. It may seem weird and inappropriate to the untrained mind, but in reality our business practices are much more rewarding psychologically, emotionally, and financially for all parties involved. It’s a success when no one feels the black hand, dripping with iniquity, giving a vice like hand shake at the conclusion of a partnership.

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“Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor” ~James Baldwin 

Equitable Barter

It’s a joy to see, in the actions of another, altruistic love. Especially when that love is directed toward you. It has a way of building upon itself, creating a foundation ever strengthening. If both parties are aware of the transaction it can amplify the reward too! I had this experience recently. Now that I think about it, it was multiple times in the same day.

 

Monique and I are making our way towards Santa Cruz, traveling south on the coastal highway towards a potential job. There’s a boat load of estimating that accompanies any form of construction or remodeling work and that’s what we are on are way to accomplish. We decided, since we had a couple days without work and couldn’t find anything small to fit into the availability slot, to go ahead and head towards the estimate a few days early. This would allow us to take our time and have a nice little weekend experience. Turned out to be a most rewarding choice.

 

As we traveled the coast we stopped at a couple beaches to allow Lyla some play time and us a little time to stretch our legs. We aren’t fans of “marathon driving” and find, for us, it’s rather taxing. Instead we chose to take a little longer and enjoy the surroundings we travel through. We stopped at a cliff side parking lot, i.e., a rut and pothole infested dirtch patch roughly two hundred feet long and fifty feet wide.

At first glance I couldn’t see the appeal. The view isn’t very nice and I don’t see any way down that doesn’t live on an angle less than forty five degrees. After about fifty feet of walking between waist high brush a wonderful view opens up and I see the way down. I’ve been here before. It’s a concoction of climbing rope intertwined around a large drainage pipe with hand holds every ten feet. I also notice that I could throw this cobra, it’s lylas frisbee, and have a chance it will stay out of the surf, but it also might go to far and be swallowed by the simple looking waves. I weigh the options and consider them worth it. With that I throw the frisbee and watch Monique look in disbelief. We are at an elevated position so it looks like it flys for a rather long distance. The disc itself flies in perfect form, standing up and then fading with a decent glide at the end, but landed at the surfs edge. I can’t let the ocean eat Lylas disc so I grab the top of the rope in my hand and take two steps down, quickly realizing that although fashionable, sandals aren’t the best footwear for climbing. I couldn’t go back and change shoes, but I must fulfill a quest. I push through the obstacle in egos fashion and run down the final twenty feet of pitch to the sands edge. I retrieve Lylas frisbee just in time too. For the next forty minutes we walk the beach throwing the frisbee for Lyla. Enjoying our time together with each stride. As we did this Monique suggested we stop and see a friend of hers in Pescadero.

 

After returning to the van and heading south again we find ourself arriving at Pescadero beach around five in the evening. It’ll be dark soon and we both agree, waiting until the following day would be a better time to make an introduction with Monique’s friend, Sapphire. We opt to make a zucchini and grilled strip steak salad as a main dish with an accompaniment of Lebanese lemon parsley bean salad. We work in unison, chopping vegetables, herbs, and beef to eliminate the prep work in a flash. As I cook up the steak Monique is mixing the salad and in no time we are enjoying the fruits of our labor. As I savor the unique flavors of a zucchini strip salad I notice the vibrancy of the sky. I’m witnessing a sunset that intensifies with every beat of the wind. I stare, meditatively at this magic, then glance over at the angel on my left. No, I’m not talking of Lyla either. My heart leaps with anticipated excitement at this opportunity. I am thankful to be sharing this moment with one who loves me for me; in all my fallible glory. I continue gazing until she looks at me with sparkling hues of sky. Smiling, she simply says I love you and pulls me within her wings. I relish in the warmth of a loves touch.

 

We wrap up dinner and work together to eliminate the dishes. As we are doing this I note to Monique that the sun is down and the park is now closed. For those of you who have not traveled I shall let you in on a secret. Park officers are some of the nicest people I have met; however, they do not allow you to stay past park hours or sleep overnight in their parking lots. They aren’t unfriendly about it and most the time provide alternate avenues to help solve your dilemma, e.g., providing information where you may park, overnight, without a fee or being woken by a uniformed officer. If you’re unsure or made a mistake regarding regulations they usually inform you of the error and explain how it was made. I have yet to meet a ranger of unfriendly character. Tonight was no different.

 

Shortly after sunset a white SUV parks behind us, turns on the flashing strobes, and asks how we are doing. We inform him we are aware the park has closed and will be removing ourselves as soon as we complete our dishes. I notice he glances at the pot I’m drying in my hand and then the skillet Monique is washing, politely replying “Have a nice evening”. He then moves to the vehicle beside us and wakes the occupant. They have a short conversation, and seeming satisfied, the officer leaves. Shortly thereafter, the individual he awoke leaves as well. Don’t fret, Monique and I were to follow his lead five minutes later. We drive one hundred feet away from the parking lot to the other side of the street, literally, and park for the night. Here we are allowed to overnight. I spend the rest of the evening listening to Monique play the banjo until I retire for the evening.

 

As I awake the following day I notice the sun hasn’t began it’s transitionary migration across the baby blue ceiling. There is light on the horizon, but the sky has yet to show it’s iridescent awakening. Monique and Lyla are both still dreaming of whatever they may be dreaming of so I decide a walk with seagulls sounds rewarding. I walk across the street and arrive at the coastline in two minutes. Maybe even less. I notice the tide is receding, but only recently. I decide to walk North as the route south is impassible. I absorb the salty sound of nature’s touch and chant a mantra: nam myoho renge kyo. This form of meditation lasts for around fifteen minutes before I have to regain control of my thoughts. Sometimes, even when meditating, I can’t always control my thoughts. It’s something I’m continuously working to improve. After a short time more I conclude my session and rest, peacefully gazing at the ocean and listening to its siren song. Before I realize the sun has shone itself and I can feel it kissing the back of my neck. I acknowledge the gentleness, ever thankful it lives. I should return to see if Monique is awake and I can start breakfast.

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When I return I find Lyla eager to make her exit of the van. Monique is still buried under the sleeping bag, but awakening. I kiss her good morning, thankful for having her to share such a beautiful journey with, and inform her I will go ahead and take Lyla for a jaunt. I grab Lylas frisbee and make my return to the beach. I provide a mixture of playful wrestling, frisbee throwing, and frisbee rolling. Yes, you can roll a frisbee. After almost an hour I return to the van to find Coffee and breakfast bagels. Woo Hoo! That’s a nice reward for enjoying the companionship of a K9 friend.

 

We each spend the remainder of the morning, and shortly into the afternoon, enjoying the our personal pleasures and the sea. I practice Irish Washerwoman on the ukulele, enjoying the distinct challenge to my coordination. I also practiced my photography skills. No, I don’t have a fancy DSLR, but I do have my cell phone. I am unable to change settings, but it does the job and allows me to focus on my rule of thirds and angles. Monique used this time to color in one of her drawings, a mandala she drew the previous days. She also listened to an audio book. If I recall correctly it was a recommendation I provided: Lewis and Clark: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. I found it rewarding and I hope Monique will too. When I next look at the time I notice it is one in the afternoon. I inquire if contact with Sapphire was still sought; being a yes we pack up and head that way.

 

We make the short drive of 5-10 Minutes to outskirts of Pescadero. We turn down a small, pothole covered road and drive roughly a quarter of mile before arriving at a small farm. We park the van along the road. The drive beyond the fence is littered with ruts and gouges that I don’t believe the van can handle. I notice there are two gentlemen in the field working as the sprinkler system provides a much needed drink to natures lunch box. Assuming one must be Sapphire I ask Monique if he is the one with the hat. She informs me it is difficult to discern from the distance we are at. We will simply have to let ourselves in and discover first hand. The logical idea sounded reasonable enough to pursue so, opening the gate and closing it behind us, we make our entry.

 

As we walk toward the hatted gentleman a white and black dog appears, wagging its tail with the speed that would impress an aircraft pilot. Lyla instantly shares in the excitement and displays her own drum beat. Within seconds they are acting like two lifelong friends who haven’t seen each other for years. They will spend the next few hours reconnecting and catching up. Monique lets me know the dogs name is Olive and belongs to Sapphire. We walk 100 feet further and Monique says hello, with a smile and sparkle, to her friend. He smiles with altruistic love, sharing his sparkle as she does, and welcomes her openly. I watch all this unfold while feeling fortunate. Fortunate I’m able to see the reality of what transpires within the unsaid, fortunate I am able to be a part of the experience, fortunate that Monique has such good friendship in her life, and fortunate I may build the same. After a quick introduction we ask if we may purchase some produce while we are here, or work for it; this is my prefered method as it will all me to become acquainted with Sapphire. A bonus being I can learn a good deal about organic farming, soil conditions, weather cycles, and insect prevention to give some examples. We’re in luck. Sapphire refuses our money, but does allow us to help him on the farm.

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Sapphire says he doesn’t have much to do, but we can help him unload his van and then pick out the produce we desire. Being from a farming community in rural ohio I know all to well a farmer hasn’t completed his day until the sun is no longer visible, unless it’s harvest or planting season when they work many hours after and before sunset. My mind refuses to accept the unloading of the van, consisting of few items, as equitable for both parties. I also know Monique isn’t going to find contentment in Sapphires current definition of sufficient. So we do what anyone with logical, common sense would do. We continued to negotiate until we reached an accord requiring us to unload the van, help harvest some produce for the market he is attending tomorrow, and enjoy the beauty that is altruism.

 

As the three of us walk towards the row of red cabbage we will be cutting I can’t help but feel nostalgic. I’m holding a sickle, cutting market ready cabbage with a hand held tool, and sharing sparkling conversation with two beautiful Beings; bargained and accepted by all parties. Sapphire, Monique, and I spend the next three hours sharing the tales of our memories, discovering the philosophy of another, and passing around knowledge and wisdom where we can. Sapphires enormous generosity, which he promotes through his actions, is inspirational and deserves no less than emulation. By the time we finish up it’s approaching evening. We need to get going and Sapphire has already been scheduled for the remainder of the night. Someone, in my opinion, was a lucky and fortunate recipient. With our pockets full, procured through barter, we bid our goodbye.

 

The following morning Monique and I awake within minutes of each other. I offer to cook Breakfast and provide coffee if she would like to give Lyla some attention. She has accepted before I finished the offer and was scampering across nature’s playground before I could retrieve the stove. With that settled I got to work and we enjoyed the fruits of our labors. It was getting close to lunch and we had an estimate to be at in about an hour so we decided to head that way. Before we departed Monique, ever worrying if I have eaten enough, asks what I have to snack on for the ride. I replied that I had just ate breakfast and would be fine. I just needed to use the facilities before we left.

 

When I returned from the bathroom break I got in the wagon and began the journey south. As I’m driving I notice something is making a crunching noise. I’m slightly confused as to what it could be because I had just rearranged the wagon and knew there was no trash or paper any place; upon further inspection I found the culprit. It was a bag of blue corn flour tortilla chips that Monique placed in the passenger seat while I was using the restroom. I smiled all the while eating them, knowing she loves me true. The reward of seeing, understanding, and receiving altruistic love is a welcomed reward. By the time I finish the bag we are moments away from arriving at our estimate. I wash down the chips with a swig of water as we pull in the driveway.

 

Wish us luck, friends!

 

“You have done something that will inspire the youth of our continent” Nelson Mandela, (Madiba)