Posts Tagged ‘family’

I Finally Did It!

They say my Santa Ana Canyon, early Californio ancestors were “Born to the Saddle.” Before I left Orange County, I was determined to touch the horizon that dominants the skyline: Saddleback Mountain. My ancestors and this land have lived in me as a River Beneath the River, always guiding and affecting my life. It is my destiny to record their story in the grandest novel I could conceive.

I planned the hike for Spring Equinox, the day my youngest son turned 18. It was a day to claim freedom and stability. When I heard the NFS was dynamiting historic dams and prohibiting access via Holy Jim Falls, I found another way. We hiked out of Blue Jay Campground – a 28 mile roundtrip with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, vs 16 miles from Holy Jim and a 4,000 ft vertical climb. I made myself forget how far that distance actually was.

Two miles of climbing later, I pulled out my phone, looked at the map and had a truly spectacular hissy fit. It was too far. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we go the other way? Joey tried to help which made things worse. Slowly I pulled myself together and we started to walk again.

We passed through a pine forest and the scent lifted my spirits, along with the vibrant yellow primrose flowers and the shiny brick-colored manzanita bark with white flowers that look like tiny beads when they fall on the decomposed granite path. The blooming white sage and  century plants infused me with endurance. And then around a bend, I saw Santiago Peak. Tears came to my eyes. I was filled with such a fervent desire to stand on that mountain. The wind blew in the bucolic ranchero era that lives in me so deeply, so passionately. The ancestors and this land gave me the strength to push onward. I couldn’t think. I was like an animal, simply aware of being aware, walking mile after mile: 11 miles the first day, 17 miles the following day.

I told Joey the story of the young boy who cut a hole in a cocoon to help a butterfly that was struggling to free itself. The child did not know the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly had a swollen body with shriveled wings and would never, ever fly.

I have long struggled living on a land that does not coincide with the freedom and natural beauty that I see when I close my eyes and look inward through the memories of my ancestors. Though I love this land so very deeply the struggle is over and I see things as they are. In three months, I am moving where wildflowers grow, rivers run and stars speak and I will write a tale of family and land inextricably woven together.


Pennies from Heaven

gRANDPYI absolutely believe in the power and protection of loved ones from the other side. One of my most favorite Angels is my GraChicamandpy Joe who once again has reached across the veil that separates the living and wherever he is at to provide for his family.

Skyler wanted to go on a surf trip to Chicama, Peru, home of the longest left, but couldn’t imagine how to pay for it. I suggested we ask for donations in his graduation invitation with the faith that the family would rally for him. He just needed to pay it forward and trust it would come back. Our family is crazy, dramatic and above all loyal. I knew they would come through for him.

I didn’t expect to reIMG_0194ceive a call from Grandma Chris and two huge jars of coins that Grandpy had saved. He’s been gone more than 8 years and still Grandpy has found a way to give my son $240 worth of spare change for a change of air.

Grandpy used to call just to ask, “Who loves you baby?” There was a call and response routine. I would say. “You!” and send a long kiss. He would say “Caught it!” And then we would  hang up. That’s it. And I would be all warm and cozy inside, feeling loved and positively protected.

Sometimes there is just no way to deny how harsh life can be. How bruised and battered we can feel when dreams die, love leaves and work grinds out the joy. But when the angels reach through the clouds to help lift the load, I am reminded that life is but a dream and I will get through. All will be well.  I just need to look for those penniesSkyler Graduation Invite email from heaven and one way or another, they will come.

“Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven
Don’t you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven?
You’ll find your fortune’s fallin’ all over the town
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love, you must have showers
So, when you hear it thunder, don’t run under a tree
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me.”

Pennies From Heaven is 1936 American popular song with music by Arthur Johnston and words by Johnny Burke. It was introduced by Bing Crosby in the popular movie Pennies from Heaven.

Rambling Roses

I had the best intentions of finishing that rambling road trip to Oregon awhile ago, but life, or perhaps I should say death had different plans for me. October is the end of the Celtic Year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and if you pay attention you can feel the spirits on the other side as the darkest time of the year prevails. With my best friend dancing with cancer for the entire year, I was walking the line between Life and Death – living large for me and Melinda, so I could come home and sit on her couch with my now bald friend and tell her stories of my adventures, so listen up friend….

bad ass cancer babe20150922_122839Joey and I left our wooden haven for Crater Lake and picnicked by the deep blue waters. (I ate too much cheese). Then we headed for the quaint town of Bend to visit Deschuttes Brewery, where we met a lovely couple who told us we must visit the waterfalls in Silver Falls. silver-falls-state-park

By the way, you get FOUR FREE tasters at Deschuttes (my favorite is Fresh Squeezed). We walked behind the falls and I grazed my hand on the wet rock and moss covered railings, leaning over to feel the mist. Fairies live here – spirits on the other side of the veil.

We shot out to the coast and camped in Newport with a visit to Rogue Ales Pub House. The boats creaked in the harbor, as salty as the characters in the bar. And the kimchi crab sliders were insanely delicious!!

20150923_174715We got fresh oysters in Coos Bay to barbecue at the family wedding on cousin Elise’s Oshala Farm, where Joey met another 20 or so of my free-spirited, gypsy relatives and see how very close this apple stayed to her roots. We stayed in a tree house in Cave Junction, about 40 feet above the ground.

IMG954100Oh yes, Melinda, it was a grand time. A few weeks later I went with good friends  to the Hollywood Cemetery in celebration of Dia de los Muertos. It was then I got the first real awareness that you were not going to be with me much longer and next year, I would be dedicating an altar to you. I just about lost it. So I wrote you a letter and told you how close to the veil you felt and asked you to give me a sign so that when you were gone, I would know you were nearby. We forgot to do that.

Or maybe neither one of us wanted to admit what it meant to have a tumor so big. Or that when it popped or whatever it did that the poison was now filling up your entire body. We made plans to go on a double date to Big Bear the first week of December. But you were too sick, so Joey and I went alone. I beat Joey in bumper pool and wanted to have you there. You never met Joey.20160110_124811

Three days later you went into the hospital, two days later home to hospice and two days later you transitioned to the invisible realm, behind the veil. Ah, girl, I miss you. You passed the same day as my father five years ago and again I await El Nino to mirror the deluge of my tears. I hope you felt honored with the ceremony I created for you. The day after your transition is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who has always been a source of comfort to me, and who has offered signs of her omnipresence for 500 years.Virgin Guadalupe

I recently looked up our text messages

YOU: Thinking of you and all I love and how I want to spend the rest of my life showing my love

ME: I hope you take decades

YOU: That’s the plan.

I still feel you, girl. I know you are here and I will continue to share my adventures with you, my beloved friend.