Monday, September 24, 2012

California Dreaming

The temperature outside yesterday was 100 degrees. Obviously, not in Michigan.  I'm visiting family and a friend in California--not enough time and gas money to visit everyone I want to, so if you are left out of the loop--I'm really sorry!

There are several angles I can take this blog post--the adventure or misadventure of travel, how fast nieces and nephews grow up, contrasts between CA and MI, the beauty of the ocean, the particular beauty of the high desert (where most of my family tends to live), fun with sisters, stepbrother, Dad and Starla, stepsister-in-law, and missing home and hubby.  And food.  Tons of food.

So, I will take them all. Here goes!

Adventure of travel:  I hate flying.  But I got an el cheapo ticket for 240 dollars from Detroit to Burbank.  Catch is that I had a nonstop connection from Detroit to LA, then a connection to Salt Lake City, then I had a connection to Burbank.  Was the dog leg worth it?  I got to see the mountains in Utah and  I had a lovely chat with an international student from Brazil studying in Washington state who seemed really lonely because he just said goodbye to his family who came up from Sao Paulo to see him in LA.  This was definately an unexpected pleasure. 

At Burbank, I got an el cheapo car rental and drove to my Dad and stepmom's in Palmdale.  At rush hour.  On I-5 and CA-14.   Price I pay for being my own travel agent.  I am so Thankful that this kind of daily commute is no longer a reality for us and I got through it like it was second nature to me--safe lane changes, merges and smooth exit and entrances without road rage or frustration.  If only gas prices were a little more el cheapo. 

Nieces and Nephews:  What are they feeding these kids?  Some of them have their own apartments now and jobs,too.  Like the U.S. Marines and such. And engaged to be married?  A few are now world travelers.  A few are still in grade school--but I know that will change in a blink of an eye. My siblings have all worked hard as parents, I am proud of them. 

Contrasts between CA and MI:  No one talks about weather in California because it is rather boring talking about perfection.  It is actually taken for granted. So shocking to me. Then I remember when we lived here and how I never gave the weather a second thought either.  In MI, it's all we think about because it affects every aspect of our lives.   Oh yeah, there's peaches at a farm down the road from my sister's house, sold off the tree by the 10 pound box for five dollars.   In the store, peaches are .98 cents a pound.  Everywhere I go, there's produce growing or a Mack truck hauling it.  I had to swerve the other day to avoid hitting a box of lettuce that fell off one of those trucks. If I had hit it, I would have made a tossed salad with my car.   No, I didn't stop to pick it up--too dangerous. Again, another thing I was blind to while living here.  However, I don't have a lot of landmarks to go by while in Hanford, CA visiting Amy, my youngest sister.  The houses, rancheros, malls and streets all look the same---I'm gonna get lost.  In Michigan, I had specific visual keys to remind me where I was and how to get where I was supposed to go--there wasn't the sameness that you get here in California with stucco and clay tile roofs. 

The beauty of the ocean:  I took a break from the Mojave and went to Monterey to visit Sun Young Park, who graduated from Michigan State University 8 years ago to work at the Army Presidio's Defense Language Institute.  I spent some time with her at Point Lobos Seashore Reserve--we had some good talks as we gazed at the breakers hitting the rocky shoreline.  Before that, I got an el cheapo room at the Hostel and spent a day in prayer at Lovers Point, where Dennis and I hung out as an engaged couple.  Lots of great memories from our life there.  I watched a guy swimming in the ocean--not an easy thing as the water is terribly cold and he didn't have a wetsuit, and the currents are really strong.  I was tempted to go in myself, but thought that it wasn't a good idea on my own.  The Pacific's beauty I never took for granted, however, I saw colors that I didn't notice before.  I couldn't soak it in enough.

The particular beauty of the high desert:  I spent most of my time around dry wide spaces, which reminds me of  eastern Washington where I grew up and the plains of North Dakota where I also grew up.  Again, I began to see beauty where I didn't see it before.  It's there, and it's more subtle. Thank you, Creator, for Your imagination.

Fun with sisters:   Fran came up from San Diego to Amy's house and we hung out.  We made a run to Starbucks, Target and Save-More, played Pictionary with the kids, Wii with the kids, watched movies, talked, made potato salad--Mom's amazing recipe, but we added bacon-- talked some more and ate potato salad.  I  turned 50, Amy is turning 40 this week and Fran is somewhere in between.  It was a great time of just connecting, listening and making jokes of each other's idiosyncrisies.  And then we ate some more potato salad--Mom's recipe, but with bacon. 

My trip isn't over yet, so I will fill you in on my time with my parents, stepbrother's fam, my Hawaiian aunt and uncle and food.  Did I mention that potato salad?  The one that's Mom's recipe, but with bacon?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Dylan's Tempest

The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 [Disc 3] Composers: Jeff Rosen/Bob Dylan

This is Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand", one of the bootlegged songs that originally was a studio demo. His voice is really haggard and the whole thing is rough and raw--a background vocal is off time and a dog is barking in the distance. I imagine several things--he's in his living room with his kids in the backyard playing with the dog, and it feels personal. The bootleg is like a snapshot, like being in Shakespeare's study watching him bent over his rough draft of Henry V or Michelangelo doing sketches on the Sistine chapel.

 "Every Grain" is a lyrical masterpiece, I love the way it articulates the situation of being a fallen creature fearing but craving the nearness of a holy God--nothing is good without Him, but it is a trembling experience being in His presence, if not for His saving grace. As Dylan expresses it, I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man. He is speaking of damnation. Quite a subject to be sung in such a tender, sensitive song.

Which brings me to my first impressions of Tempest, and the reviews I've been hearing about it. Dylan is sounding violent and angry, and in a video of one of his more playful songs, a kid is beat up and left on the sidewalk, while Dylan and his motley crew steps over him. Not what we'd expect. I've watched it five or seven times. The ending leaves me hanging, and I have to believe the kid gets help (a young punk girl clad in black in the rear of the entourage is missing as the video follows Dylan going on down the road--did she stay behind with the poor kid and become a good Samaritan?)and will resume his relentless pursuit of that pretty freaked out girl.

So, I wait for what I hope will be another insightful work by Dylan when it releases on Sept. 11th. And I know from past experience, I won't be disappointed. The weird thing is, I'm anticipating something good on a day that represents a horrific event eleven years ago, which brings up a lot of conflicting emotions. Including guilt.