how I spent my last 10 days
We got home from our mountain vacation at fabulous Daveland a few hours ago and I have been trying to catch up — but with some 1,500 messages, my index finger on the mouse finally gave in. A pity, because all of the stuff I missed was really interesting but my finger says get over it and move on.
I spent some time on the quiet deck of the cabin thinking about the joy of stillness and wanted to say again that sitting still and not being busy (“Idle hands are the devil’s workplace,” of course) are a huge challenge for me. I’m always working off a massive to-do list and have a lot of trouble being here now. At least I recognize that, so I’m getting better — very slowly — at it. Still not comfortable without busy hands. Knitting helps a lot with this, though.
Withdrawal from my invisible Internet friends was a tough one, but it was very nice to sit on the deck of the cabin and watch the sun come up or go down, with fresh hot coffee or a glass of wine (respectively).
Green issues that came up: There is no recycling program in the area we stayed, and a bear problem, so no composting food. We had to take our garbage with us every day and toss it in a Dumpster. It was really horrid to have to throw away “good” compost. But we had to — there was nowhere to put it and after even one day it stank in the house. We dropped our cans and bottles in a recycle bin at the gas station, and I had to fight for that one bec family said it was easier if we just dumped everything in the trash. I couldn’t do that. Nope.
There is no cell coverage or Internet at the cabin so we were truly cut off, and I loved it (despite missing 1,500 fascinating conversations!). Whenever we ventured out and got within range, the teens got onto their cells nonstop, which drove me crazy. One daughter started asking when we were going home on the 2nd day, and partway through asked if her friend could come pick her up and take her home (to an empty house for 3-4 days…uh, right…not likely). Some of the confines of a smallish cabin and 6 of us did get a bit wearing — not so much to me but to the teens, definitely!
However, we cleaned up some junk in the river (North fork of American River) — including a large blue paint tarp that was clogging it up. I picked up lots of cigarette butts (that’s a filthy habit — shame on those of you who drop these. Please stop. Who cares if you smoke? Just don’t litter, please.) Lots of plastic bits, too. Yuk. I also scattered a large canister’s worth of alpine wildflower seeds around the cabin in hopes of adding some plant life to the area. (I checked with the local lumberyard and made sure they were native-types, not tropical beauties). We always try to leave the cabin better than we found it, and another thing I left behind was a reusable coffee filter rather than the bleached white paper ones we found there. Hoping to influence the next set of guests and our dear friends the Getzlers (thanks. Dave and Steph!).
We spent our days at the lakeside beach but I got a bad burn the first day so wasn’t in the sun much after that. Yes, I did use sunscreen, but I was reading and the way I was sitting and the reflection of the sun from the page onto my chest was apparently magnified so I’ve been blistered and am still not over it yet. Lots of aloe and sea plasma have helped. The best thing was not being connected to the phone and email (double-edged sword for me), and sitting in the deck chairs and endlessly knitting. I knitted a cotton washcloth for our kitchen, since I have been longing for some washcloths lately, and made headway on scarves for gifts. I finished one (very cute, pink and cocoa brown stripes) that’s been sitting around for 2 years and also did some needlepoint.
Mr Husband and I went on a terrific hike in the mountains above the cabin, and behind the cabin. Giant boulders, lots of brush underneath, evidence of many animals but none sighted besides dogs, beautiful clouds, the sound of the river, alpine meadows, cool dirt tracks, sugar pinecones, blue jays, and a chipmunk or two. Nice way to reconnect with nature and Mr.Husband of 1 whole married year (though it’s getting closer to 5 years of togetherness already).
We brought all our own food and still have some that didn’t get eaten. And we ate constantly! Luscious dinners, delicious lunches, fabu breakfasts, and each of the kids and us took turns in partnership making meals. Hands-down winners were Simone’s waffles with strawberries and bananas; Savi and Ana’s sub-sandwiches, and Mr Husband’s grilled London broil. Dessert was a toss-up between Mr Husband’s root beer floats or the Boy’s S’mores. All good. And I think I gained 10 pounds just eating and sitting. I re-start the exercise plan tomorrow. (oink)
I took one daughter with me to the thrift store in Tahoe. She scored some back to school clothes for herself, and I got a dozen half-pint Mason jars with all but 2 lids for $2.50. Woo hoo — at the local grocery store, it’s $10 a box or more these days. Found a darling vintage jacket for another daughter, plus some matching yarn to what I was knitting with on the deck, so I was able to add stripes to the scarf. The prices were very, very low and the stock was not picked over by the hip and fabulous as it is down in the Bay Area. I ended up buying a couple of holiday gifts for a buck each and happy to have them on hand already. That’s not “just shopping,” that’s planning ahead.
And finally, we stopped at a farm stand in beautiful rural Dixon on our way home and I got a lug of peaches for $15. Now I can put up some sweet honey peaches for the year. Yay! My garden got really ripe while we were gone and so I picked veggies today and will have my hands full with catching up tomorrow.
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.