Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Comparison

Tonight at the market, I heard the ladies in front of me discussing a soap opera and how annoyed they were over some plot development. It reminded me of a talk show I heard once nearly 20 years ago that made an interesting point.

The comparison: soap operas on t.v. give women something similar to what men get from pornography. Now, keep reading. The premise of the program was that men and women have different needs. The soap operas were a fantasy for women in that the men in the shows were attentive, talked a lot about their feelings, brought flowers and jewelry to the women, took the women out to parties and dinners.

In pornography the women were fantasy creatures for the men. The men didn't need to talk to them, bring them stuff, take them out or have any emotional relationship. The purpose of the association was sexual and the men didn't have to be involved on any other level.

The people on the talk show went on to discuss how women who spent a great deal of time involved with a soap opera often began to expect the real men in their lives to behave like the fantasy men on the show. There were various speakers: a psychologist, an actress who was quite famous back then from a soap, and a woman who had actually divorced her husband for failing to be more like the character she'd developed a fixation for on her soap. Realizing that they all had a point to make, I watched the show with some skepticism.

But as the divorced woman spoke, I got uncomfortable as I recognized some of what she said was relevant in my own life. I had a favorite show and I thought of the times I'd changed an appointment or put off my kids just so that I'd be home and undisturbed to watch the show. It was aggravating to watch it---plot developments took weeks and weeks to come to a climax. The writers had the ability to postpone the revelations and keep the bombshell from exploding day after day after day. I had started substitute teaching about then and many days in a row I'd miss the show because I was working. Then when I'd have a chance to catch up on it, N O T H I N G had happened!

Then I watched this show. And I saw myself in these people. I had begun to feel annoyed at my husband because he wasn't like the bad/cool guy on the show--why not? They both wore leather jackets and had long hair?? Why didn't my husband take me in his arms that way and bring me flowers and tell me all that mushy stuff?? And take me to a ball?? ummmm...because he was a REAL PERSON who had to work every night and sleep days and we had a houseful of kids and bills to pay and a car to keep working and he was usually exhausted and I had PMS and...and...

I decided right then to never watch that dopey show again. And I didn't. Months later, we moved to a new town and the local paper had a synopsis of the soaps every week. So I read it to see what had been happening since I'd quit cold turkey.

N O T H I N G had happened! The Big Secret had still not been revealed, the devastating effects on the heroine's relationship had still not occured. Blah, blah, blah...I realized I'd been freed from a bad relationship and I hadn't even missed them. And my REAL relationship with my REAL guy had dramatically improved because he was no longer in a losing competition with a fake guy.

So, the moral to the story is: don't watch soaps and don't look at pornography---they'll both screw up your real life.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Secret of Grandparents

The reason grandparenting is so great was revealed to me this week on a visit to my daughter's family.

The grown child that you are visiting is still beloved entirely by you both. She's your child! Just because she grew to adulthood, and married and produced off-spring doesn't diminish your love. Then, there is the off-spring. This child is at the stage your brain remembers the now-adult child, so you get to experience all the joyful parts of her life again! At the same time you're enjoying the grown-child-parent still---the relationship is different, but the love is still the same. And you get to re-live the exhuberance of childhood with a littler version of her, sort of. This little kid just thinks you are the Coolest Thing Ever, too, dropping in occasionally with new books, new socks, and trips in the car without Mommy or Daddy that involve lemonade and licorice!

All the joy and love again---but this time you're not in charge of the drudgery!

Fitting In

In Seattle, I kept seeing a "type" of woman and I started evaluating myself to see if I'd fit in here.

comfy clogs from LLBean or Bjorn? Check!
jeans or other easy-wearing pants? Check!
fleece vest? Check!
cotton knit shirt under the vest? Check!
little or no make-up? Check!
sensible hairdo? oops...I don't think long, multi-colored (well, the top half is gray and the bottom half is dark blonde) fits into the "type"...bummer.

But I'll keep looking around in different parts of town. Maybe there's an old lady-with-the-long gray-braid part of town here somewhere.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

They All Look Alike to Me

I went to a mall today to return some clothing and after I'd walked around a couple of circuits and hadn't located the store, I found the mall directory to discover that the store from which I bought these items isn't in this mall. Hmm...where was I when I bought them, then? A phone call to Cool Guy at home to Google for me, then he read off the locations and, SLAP MY FOREHEAD, that's right. I remember now...duh. Malls are really so much alike---the little kiosks with the graspy people trying to apply lotion or sell you some over-priced object, the food court, the shoe stores for someone who can actually walk in high heels.

"Never mind", I thought in my Emily Litella voice as I drove out of the parking lot.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Pleasures of a Small Improvement

Tonight at the gym I walked vigorously on the treadmill for thirty minutes and felt energized after I finished. Instead of winded, sweaty and discouraged. I didn't expect to make a gain in stamina in only a couple of weeks. Cool!! Tomorrow I'll walk a little faster and little longer.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where is Kitty?

I just spent the last two hours worrying. I had been in the garage and saw the kitty out there, but then I haven't been able to find her since then. She wasn't sleeping on my bed--per usual. She wasn't on a dining room chair asleep. She wasn't locked in the garage or the car (I'd been getting something from the car, and never know. One morning I was fixing my lunch and the lower cupboard door was moving slightly and I could hear meowing--she'd climbed inside where the dishes are when I'd opened it to get a cereal dish and I hadn't seen her when I shut it...duh.) She wasn't under the couch, under the bed, on the spare room bed, in the closet where I'd put away the ironing board. She wasn't in any of the cupboards (yes, I looked). She wasn't coming when I called out the back door, or out the front door. She wasn't on the piano bench, or in the office chair. I could imagine myself still looking tomorrow and having to tell Cool Guy at the airport that she had disappeared and how sad he'd be. I could hardly imagine sleeping tonight without her curled up next to me. TWO HOURS I'VE BEEN FRETTING.

She just strolled across the living room floor--from where?? She's not telling.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Not Neil Diamond...Again

When we were high school seniors, Cool Guy and I (and the whole rest of our class) had a Senior Trip scheduled to Salt Lake City. We would go down on one day and do some stuff, stay overnight, and return the next day after doing some more stuff--like the big amusement park, some kind of entertainment, etc. For 33 years this trip has been a head-slapper for Cool Guy. Don't get him started... I barely remember it for some reason. In fact, until it came up the first time after we were married, I'd forgotten about the trip. Also, I don't recall the whole controversy that occured at the time.

See, apparently the choices for the entertainment on that trip were:

  1. go see Neil Diamond perform
  2. go to the Ice Capades

Now you're saying to yourself: Duh? Seniors in high school were being asked if they wanted to go to the stupid Ice Capades over Neil Diamond?? In 1971, when he was totally famous, young, wild, top of the charts?? Who would possibly vote for Ice Capades in our class?? Probably a couple of people did. I don't remember being given the choice. Really, I don't.

But, our advisor didn't want to go to Neil Diamond and, according to Cool Guy, lobbied heavily for Ice Capades. The reasons he says she gave are now lost to our memories, but when he first discussed this topic with me, he could remember them all, and I believe most of them were just old fogey vs young people and involved a lot of cane-waving.

But, ultimately, we went to the Ice Capades...I have a vague memory of sitting up in the nose-bleed section of the Salt Palace and there are little twirling people down on the floor. Weird...It is amazing to me that a grown woman could be so oblivious to the lives of teenagers.

The weird thing is that just a year later, I did go to a Neil Diamond concert at college and he was AWESOME!! And then ten years later, I got to see him in concert again with my girlfriend and he was still AWESOME!! Poor Cool Guy---he was right.

Anyway, why did this come up? Tomorrow I get to chaperone a group of students from our school to see Disney on Ice. We received 40 free tickets and the lucky ones were the kids who had the highest points accrued through our reading incentive program (read certain books, and then take a comprehension test on the computer for points). Four of my students won from fourth grade and the VP asked if I'd like to go too. I'm so excited for my students: they really earned it and I'm thrilled they get an extra reward (above the obvious one of being motivated readers).

This is the age group that wants to see an ice show. NOT Seniors in high school who are going to the Big City for some fun. Ice Capades, indeed---may I never get that old.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Couple of Boys I've Loved Before; The Finale

I realized that the first section was WAY too long. I'll try to be succinct here. The eighth grade introduced me to another Really Cute Guy, who weirdly turned out to be a life-long friend of Brown-Eyes, but went to a different elementary school than us. He was very cool and I spent the next two years trying to get either of them to be my boyfriend. We were in most of our classes together because our school not-so-subtley tracked us by academic ability and we had many fun times--including almost flunking world history our sophomore year because we knew more about it than our doofus teacher so we mostly ignored him. He retaliated on our report cards. Then, the two of them started to "go steady" with two really awesome girls that completely eclipsed me so I surrendered to fate. I gave up pursuing either of them.

There were several fun crushes in the ensuing years:
  • the boy from another town I met while riding my horse around the county fair
  • the summer of the Student Body President dating me, then dumping me
  • the guy who worked at a restaurant with my sister
  • the guy who came up to Wyoming to spend the summer on his grandpa's ranch
  • the guy who supposedly was tutoring me in geometry but mostly we'd just make out and then we decided it was ruining a perfectly good friendship and went back to just math

I dated a guy my whole senior year just because I needed a date for a number of functions due to my involvement in school government/clubs and he had a really cool car. He was very nice, and fun and I respected him, but he was not talented academically and I was a horrible snob about that.

I went off to BYU and found that only certain freshman girls get pursued by the RM's. I was not one of them. But as a sophomore somehow I was introduced to an RM who really liked me and dated me often, came home to meet my family (I was so oblivious to the ramifications of this--I was just proudly showing off my farm and my beautiful valley). He invited me to spend Thanksgiving with his family at Lake Mead (he was from California). I agreed, but then overheard my roommates discussing excitedly (thinking I was asleep) about me returning from Thanksgiving with a diamond and I suddenly realized that I was definitely not at the same stage of the relationship as the guy. So I just got a ride home to my parents for Thanksgiving without telling Mr. California that I was leaving town NOT with him. I was a really rude, inconsiderate person. But he was NOT The One.

Guess where I found The One? Sixth grade, it turns out. I did go to California the following year but it was to live with a girlfriend, who, like me, was flunking out of college. We moved there to be wild. It worked. We were. I dated the Really Cute Guy from world history for a few months since he was in the Navy there. And since Brown Eyes was also in the Navy there, and the two of them were inseparable, it was the three of us going to the movies, eating out, them rebuilding their motorcycles in a rented garage, me sitting around watching after I got off work. It soon became clear that World History Guy was in love with someone else--I was just the girl in town--and Brown Eyes' girlfriend of four years got engaged to someone else for Christmas....and soooo

Thirty-three years later we're still married and I have forgiven him for making me cry in Science. And he's really sorry for it, too. (Even though he has absolutely no recollection of doing it--nor of any of the other momentuous occasions I recorded in my diary. But, they didn't happen to him. So why would he?)

I'm An Old Lady Too, But...

...I would never flop myself down in a movie seat next to Someone and whack them with my purse, and then put my drink in the armrest that the Someone clearly has her arm resting on. And then proceed to eat my popcorn in the noisiest, most bag-rustling fashion, CHEWING WITH MY MOUTH OPEN, talking to my companions in a full voice even after the movie started.

So SOMEONE finally got totally fed up and ten minutes into the movie just stood up and apologized profusely to the two gentlemen to the right of her as she climbed over them to another seat so she didn't suddenly have to shout at the person to the left to KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY.

The movie was very lovely after that and was so engrossing that finally Someone rarely noticed the chewing/talking that continued and could be heard from four seats away.

A Couple of the Boys I've Loved Before

There's been a rash of True Confessions on the family blogs here and there so I thought I'd talk about puppy love for a bit. In third grade there was a guy who bought me a cookie while we were on a field trip at the bakery, and then in fourth grade, he chose me to be his folk-dance partner for a program on a day when I was absent. I was very flattered. I liked him because he was cute and he was kind of naughty. Hmmm...Another boy in elementary school I liked was his good buddy and taller than me, and that was his main attribute. He was really nice too, but tallness was an asset. The tall one eventually married a good friend of mine from high school and we are all still great friends, and we sometimes laugh about grade school. There weren't very many boys to have crushes on: there were only 17 kids in my school. We were the odd class they didn't have room for in the "town" school, so for K-5, I attended a one room school out in the farm area with these same kids. We changed teachers every year, and we moved up to the next grade together, but we mostly we were alone in the little building built by the WPA in 1939.

Then, for sixth grade, the little schools were all closed because the bigger one was completed in town, and for the first time I had more than 17 kids in my school. (Now, cue the slow-motion video, and the dramatic music...) there, in my classroom, sitting to the left of me, was a Really Cute Guy. He had sensational brown eyes, an awesome smile and--he read the dictionary for fun! Sadly, I was invisible. Actually, it wasn't so much that I was invisible as that I was somewhat out of sight, because he rarely had the occasion to tip his head back that far to look waaaayy up and see me there, towering over him. Our class photo shows me standing on the back row, a full head taller than the teacher, with him sitting on the front row, feet dangling above the floor without touching. I was a flagpole in sixth grade, and he hadn't started the growth spurt thing yet.

It didn't keep me from admiring his vocabulary or impressive manners, however. And every fact I thought I had exclusive rights to (from reading a large range of esoteric materials) seemed to be at his command. Hmmm...Plus he was really wild--he had a dirt bike! And he skiied. And he had amazing self-confidence and lots of friends. He also read naughty joke books, tucked into his lap, disguised by his social studies text propped up in front of him.

Naturally, I had none of these qualities, including the friends. Sixth grade was a tough year. I hadn't really had any friends in little school--lots of the girls there were related to each other, or were neighbors and I wasn't in the clique. But, I was determined to just join right in and make some friends in this new environment. I remember one snowy day when we had to stay inside for recess and I saw a group of girls over by the bookshelves chatting away, and I headed over to join in. As I approached, I heard them say, "Now, only girls who live on [a street near the school] can be our friends, except for Patty, cause she just moved, but she used to live there." So, I quickly pretended that my real errand was to pick out a dictionary just to the right of them. Not only did I NOT live on that street---I didn't even live in town. I lived seven miles south of town on a farm. Talk about wrong side of the tracks---I was on the wrong side of the barnyard.

But, there were two boys in our class with whom I developed awesome friendships, and they stayed my loyal friends for years after high school. Brown-eyes wasn't one of them. But did I let that deter my devotion? Of course not! I continued my outrageous campaign for his acknowledgement of my existence throughout junior high. I made friends with all of his girl friends, I made friends with all of his buddies. Actually, my friendships with the boys was independent of their association with him. These guys were just fun and, somehow, I always had more friends that were boys than I had friends that were girls. I was much more comfortable with boys. I think it was because at the time, I was living more like a boy than a girl. At home, I milked the cows twice a day, fed cattle, cleaned the barn, and in the summers hauled hay with my sisters. When I was 13 my dad gave me the colt born that spring and I spent two years training him. So, maybe I felt more compatible with boys because I wasn't doing my nails and hair and talking on the phone at home every night.

Except that I did use the phone to sigh and discuss Brown-Eyes with whichever sort-of "girlfriend" of his I'd befriended at the time. I really did like these girls. They turned out to be great friends, each one of them, and when his attention wandered off (as is the way of 14 year old boys) we remained good friends and so I did gain that benefit from my unrequited love.

I received a diary for my 13th birthday and faithfully wrote in it for a year. There are entries recounting every moment our lives intersected. Once, I recorded, that I got to write my name on a library card under his. Once, I sat behind him in an assembly that was a movie, so the room was darkened---ooohh---almost romantic. One extremely memorable time was dance class that was in lieu of gym every Wednesday in seventh grade. We usually learned folk dances like "Oh, Johnny, Oh" and square dances. I really liked dance class because the dances were fun. I'd learned most of them from my fourth grade teacher in the little school because she put on a full-blown program for every holiday--even Columbus Day--with singing, dancing, recitations, and costumes. (Good grief---I grew up as Laura Ingalls Wilder...) class in gym. Four girls formed each square. The boy foursomes rotated with each chorus to the next group of four girls. My failure to be in any obvious clique resulted in my being one of the leftovers and I was grouped with three other oddball girls, so that, by contrast, I was the "cool" one. Sigh...junior high is a cruel, cruel environment. When Brown-eyes and his three friends saw that we were next, they all got down in a track stance, for the "race" to be my partner. Brown-eyes won the race (I can still picture this) and grabbed me by the waist and twirled me around saying "I got you, my love!" Which, interpreted that day meant, "Whew....I don't have to dance with [the girl whose mother made her wear little zipped up overshoes with furry tops] or [the fat one who has bad skin and squinty eyes and weird hair] get it. BUT...despite my understanding the hyperbole of his exclamation, it meant everything to me that, for four minutes, I could hold his hand and do-si-do and bow next to him. They raced off to the next square with just as much enthusiasm.

He was the perpetrator of my Most Humilating Moment of Science Class that year, too. We had science first period and he and my So-Called friends snatched my purse off my desk and went up to the front of the room to dump it out and investigate the contents. There wasn't much to see: Avon lipstick samples, a comb, some Certs and---my Little Book from Health Class. Which he immediately opened and pretended to read, saying with each page, "Oh, this is interesting, oh, look at this, oh, really, hmmm...."

I tried snatching the purse back, but one of the friends was even taller than me (a miracle) and held it over his head, and after they dumped it out, I didn't think I'd be able to go on living because of the mortification at having the Little Book being displayed for all to see. At that point in life I had not yet started needing any of the Kimberly-Clark products they discussed in the Little Book, but the mere fact of them displaying to all the world, or at least my Science class, that I was an actual girl with a uterus and a vagina as illustrated was so embarrassing I can't believe I didn't die. I did start to cry however, and asked the science teacher (one of my mother's many, many cousins) to make them give back my things. Which of course he did. As the years go by, I realize now that I was probably the last to know, in that group of kids (including the boys) that I possessed a uterus and a vagina and why.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hot Dog-O-Rama

Thursday Menu: Two grilled hotdogs w/yellow mustard and bread and butter pickles, macaroni & cheese; glass of milk

Friday Menu: organic brown rice, groat sprouts, glass of wheat-grass juice


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

NOT a Health Food Diet

Did you ever get a food craving? On Monday night I left the gym and there was Der Weinerschnitzel. I love their food. Periodically. Ever since I first ran across DW in San Diego many, many moons ago, I occasionally get a serious need for a hot dog and they have a couple I just love. But on Monday, I successfully resisted the urge to drive through. Instead, I went to the grocery store and bought a pack of Ballpark Franks and a package of buns.

Monday Menu: Two hot dogs, smothered in canned chili and grated cheese; glass of milk

Tuesday Menu: Two hot dogs, covered with grilled [sauteed] red peppers and sliced onions; glass of milk

Wednesday Menu: Two hot dogs, toasted bun layered with alfalfa sprouts, avocado slices and brown mustard; glass of milk

Thursday Menu: stayed tuned!! There are still two hot dogs in the fridge!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Law & Order: Grammar Police

I walked into Walmart tonight to pick up some eyeglasses we'd ordered, and there was a handwritten sign posted at the doorway saying,

"Sorry, are WIC machine is broken today. "


I was buying pens anyway. You KNOW what happens next. Yes, of course I scribbled out the wrong word and put in the right word. Duh.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Desert Trek: Part Two--The Indulgence

So on Saturday we headed west for the border again. We stopped in Tecopa. No, I'd never heard of it either before we drove through it last week. I lived in California for twenty years and drove north across the Mohave many, many times on the way to the Grandmas in Wyoming, but somehow this town escaped my attention. It isn't exactly on the beaten path...but many people do find their way there to soak in the mineral springs. Tecopa isn't a spa a la Palm Springs or La Costa. It's a little desert kind of place where snowbirds hook up their travel trailers to the electricity in the campground across the street from the hots springs buildings, and then walk over in their bathrobes and sandals, with towels draped over their arms.

So, we parked and went in and paid our ten dollars each and went out back to jiggle door handles to find an empty bath. There are several little rooms where you go in, lock the door, take off your clothes, hang them up and then step down into the pool that is about 10 feet square. You are NOT allowed to wear a suit because it could contaminate the mineral water with residue or whatever. The water is about 104 degrees--we only heat our hottub to 100, so this is quite a bit hotter. You'll only last about 20 minutes. But, unless there is a crowd waiting for the tubs, you can go back in again after you cool off a bit.

There is no ceiling in this little "room", it is open to the sky, and the water is just continually dribbling in through a pipe coming through the wall. It smells lovely (unlike the faint chlorine smell of our hottub) and the feel of the water on your skin is soft and silky because of the mineral content. When I get out of our hottub, I always hurry right in for the lotion to soak up my feet and hands. Many times, I'll jump in the shower to rinse off the chlorinated water. But this mineral water just felt wonderful on my skin and I didn't need to slather myself with lotion.

But I got slathered...during the massage I had after the soak. There is a little courtyard in the middle of the soaking rooms, and one of the doorways has a sign identifying this room as the office of a massusse. So I went in and signed up for one hour. If you've never had a massage, then RIGHT NOW google your area and find a theraputic massage office and book yourself an hour of bliss. Ahhhhh....ooohhhhh....ahhhhh. That's all I can say. Someone rubbing your tired old muscles with warm cream while you lay silently on a soft table listening to new age-groovy wah music. OOhhhh....ahhhh. Doing this right after you have soaked yourself into a state of relaxed bliss in a hot mineral spring adds a fillip of decadence. Now, go---google!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Pant, pant, pant

This is the third day that Cool Guy and I have GONE TO THE GYM---yes...and walked vigorously on treadmills. We printed off a 10 day pass and then tonight we actually dived right in and bought the ID cards. We're hoping to stave off decrepidness for a few more years. It's actually quite envigorating and I'm sure my calf muscles will sign on to this program soon.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Trek in the Desert

We went for a drive on Saturday, headed for Death Valley, but we didn't quite get there. Unlike the classic cartoon of the skeleton in the desert, we were just distracted by a detour. We headed straight west from Las Vegas and after crossing a small but beautiful mountain pass watched over by a big horn sheep perched on an impossibly pointy chunk of rock, we descended into an enormous valley just over the California border that stretched to the horizon in every direction. If you looked up "gawd-forsaken" in the dictionary, it would be a photo of this place. There were no curves in the road--not needed--no obstacles to this highway. Around the rim of the valley to the south were some mountains, so we turned left at that intersection (passing up the chance to buy "elk, bison or beef jerky--FRESH!!") to head over to China Ranch.

The desert is actually quite beautiful in its own way. It is so completely different from the other places I've lived---hardwood forested east-coast; chapparal/beach west-coast; alpine forest Rocky Mountain valley. In the desert you get geology--unfiltered. The variations of the earth's plates are all thrust up and exposed. It is so obvious where each layer begins and ends and sometimes a hill right next to another hill has its layers moving in a completely opposite direction and you hope that God has an IMAX so when you get to heaven you can watch the tectonic wrestling match that must have caused this.

And the colors!! There are some canyons on the west side of Vegas that have the most precise stripes of startling red sandwiched in the layers of beige and brown and tan. It's like Mother Nature made a delicious PBJ and then Father Nature accidently sat on it, curving it around with all the colored layers.

Desert plants are no less amazing. You're gazing out on a scene so stark you'd think it was the moon, when you realize that the sides of these mounds of fossilized gargantuan elephant dung(actually...hills)are dotted with tiny little bushes. The leaves are the size of a piece of oatmeal and there are teeny little flowers in the center of each leaf group just blooming away. What pollinates these flowers? How can they grow in this hill that is just a huge lump of tiny rocks cemented in place by hard pan dirt?

As we go further down the canyon between these giant dung heaps we pass by fenced-off areas with stark red warning signs to stay out of the abandoned gypsum mines that are dug out under these hills. You can see the old timbers supporting the edges of the openings that are cut way back under these mounds. Now you know why the shape of these hills is so unique---they are just huge repositories of this mineral formed under prehistoric Lake Bonneville. As the water evaporated, it left behind these lumps and gradually the desert wind blew in enough soil to form a little eco-system with the essentials to support those tiny plants able to thrive on top of a pile of gypsum. Cool.

Then we turned a corner on this road that had narrowed and become a gravel path and voila! An oasis of date palms and bamboo appears like a mirage! (A cliche--but you can see why the old prospectors had to rub their eyes in disbelief after passing through the miles of moonscape to come upon lush greens and water.)

According to the sign a Chinese man started a farm here at these springs in the 1800's and sold food to nearby mining camps. He "mysteriously" disappeared and someone else took over the property and finally in the 1980's the most recent owners have planted date palms and have a little Bed and Breakfast. The property is only about 50 acres, tops, but it is thick with trees and a couple of ramshackle buildings. A small stream runs through it that is completely obscured by reeds and cottonwoods and apparently just disappears into the ground right outside the hills of this tiny valley. The owners pipe the spring water into their orchard and use drip irrigation to keep their trees alive. They make a living, and it is a lovely place to walk around and smell the moisture and marvel that anyone stayed alive in their trek through the surrounding deserts to find it in the first place.

I found myself thinking that I was grateful my ancestors were cow milkers and chose a remote, high mountain valley that is exquisitely beautiful to establish their dynasty of genteel poverty from which I could descend. I don't think I'd have liked growing up the progeny of hard-scrabble miners in the tiny dry villages that dot this area of no-man's land on the border of California and Nevada. But, many people living here are the off-spring of those crusty old loners, and wouldn't have it any other way.