Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘allergies’

Goddess Fortune continues to smile on us.

Not only are we presently wallowing in the lap of luxury at the Marriott Residence Inn in Scarborough (Sheba is modeling the chaise below, just to give you an idea of the wake-me-up décor. And in case you’re with Marriott, she didn’t get up there again – promise!) …

… but, after just three days in Maine we found a perfectly wonderful place to live.

As you can see below (don’t forget to click on photos if you want to see a better resolution version), I’m not going to have to search for ways to actualize my determination to Get Back Into Shape Immediately.

We have been gifted with the Stairs from Hell, and what you see in these photos is only the beginning, since we’re on the second and third floors. After arriving at the front door, you climb another steep set of stairs to the main floor, and there’s yet another equally steep set up to the bedrooms and second bath. I anticipate slimmer hips in a month or less, and not a dollar spent on a Stairmaster.

And why are we moving into such a rigorously demanding condo? Besides the charming appearance?

My California friends may want to sit down for this part. We are getting 1,000+ square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a huge kitchen, expansive living room, back deck and mud room for $725 a month. And, no, I didn’t leave off any digits. $725! And we were paying $1,500 for a poky and highly unsatisfying 1 bedroom in the San Francisco South Bay area. Not only that, this is a very quiet cul de sac, and at a high enough elevation to afford a great view of oncoming weather. And new insulation was installed in the spring.

Here we have beauty all around, a very large patch of woods in our back yard. Our hunter kitty Sneakers will be in heaven, and so will we. And if I ever feel the stairs are insufficient exercise, I can hike through the woods to the “Y” or head down to the playing fields across the main drag.

It was when I asked about those incredibly daunting stairs that I first heard a stock Maine saying which I’ve already come to understand has many layers of nuanced and complex meaning, and which is always delivered with a charming mixture of affection and exasperation:

The phrase? “Well, this is Maine, after all!”

I’ve gotten that answer so many times I’ve lost count … a few I remember are when I asked about a glitch signing up for Comcast telephone service, when my daughter Julia and I searched store after store without success for some sleeping bags to tide us over until our stuff arrives from California (3 weeks minimum), and when I suggested to the Portland Whole Foods deli manager that they might want to sell the terrific parsnip pancakes I found at other Whole Foods across the country. Actually, what the deli manager said was, “Well, don’t be surprised if you have to wait a year or so. This is Maine, after all.”

To add interest and challenge to all this good fortune and delight, I’m finding that, in spite of early Mainers’ assessment, I am going to have to work on a couple of areas in order to really fit in, so far most notably on my sense of humor and my style of driving.

I’ve never been honked at so much in my life (and not just when I’m not sure where I’m going, or when I’m trying to squeeze a largish car down freaking impossibly narrow streets), but – hey! – maybe it’s just the California license plate. So far ours is the only one I’ve seen since hitting New England, although I have seen some Washington state plates.

Also my ironic humor is usually greeted with blank faces and/or confused silence. Very disconcerting!

But everywhere we go we drive next to or over waterways, and the ever-present woods actually began to turn color on the Equinox yesterday.

My favorite moment so far, though, occurred while we were walking thru the charmingly quaint downtown of Bath yesterday. I looked up to see a man silhouetted against the water visible through the wide open doors of a very old warehouse-like building, and he was actually hand fashioning a wooden keel rib for a large boat! It was like seeing a woodcut come to life.

It’s too bad I didn’t have my camera, because I swear the photo would have been an award winner.

We’re moving in to our new place on Tuesday, so the next few days will be busy with packing and provisioning (not many gluten free stores in that area, but plenty around Portland). I do have one more silly story to tell which I’ll upload for tomorrow, and then the next post depends on when our internet is up and running.

Till then … may your fall be abundant and full of beauty.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Okay, where were we when we were so rudely interrupted?

Or, more to the point, why were we so rudely interrupted?

Well, let me tell you!

First, my apologies. I promised a lot and haven’t delivered, and I hate it when that happens. But I have been taking lots of notes, and have several interesting stories to tell, so perhaps that will make up for the lack of news recently.

Now, as to the why …

While we were in Banff, because of the complicated logistics of traveling with two people with special diets, plus a large dog and 2 cats, I had to start planning the next stages of the journey right away. My daughter Julia and I were looking forward particularly to seeing the part of Canada surrounding the Great Lakes, places like Thunder Bay. But it was like beating my head against a wall.

There was a three day stretch of look-at-the-scenery driving where I simply could not find any pet friendly hotels or places to get the food we needed … and at that point I had literally run out of protein I could eat without uncomfortable backlash. And I wasn’t having any luck figuring out where to get it before Ottawa or Montreal.

Then, to cap it all off, we realized that my prescriptions (and our elderly dog’s) would run out in a little over a week.

And, finally, three mornings in a row, I was awakened with a phrase running through my head which seemed relevant … especially since most of the really important personal input I receive from my guidance comes that way.

What was the phrase?

Well, if you’ve read Tolkein’s The Hobbit, or seen a cartoon version, you probably remember that the wizard Gandalf showed up at Bilbo Baggins’ house one evening out of the blue with a bunch of rowdy dwarves intent on dragging Bilbo off on an adventure. When asked if he’d like to join them, Bilbo said something like:

“Oh, dear me, no! Adventures make one late for dinner.”

That’s the phrase that was waking me up at 3 am. To me it meant, essentially, that timing was getting important, and that it was time to quit fooling around and get where we were going, or we’d miss our “dinner.” It seemed to me that it meant that housing opportunities, and job opportunities, would be missed if we didn’t get our respective rear ends in gear. We’ll see if my interpretation is correct … I certainly am not up for anything like Bilbo’s adventure at this point in my life!

Yeah, yeah, I know Bilbo’s adventure rocked all of Middle Earth … but, when you think about it, things would have been easier -at least in the short term – if he had stayed home, though of course we would have missed out on one of the great stories of our time. Tough choice.

Anyway, I shifted planning gears … and, amazingly, as soon as I started looking at a route through the US to Maine, it was simple to find housing and the food we needed. Plus the journey would be a week shorter. So, okay, that door opened when the other stubbornly remained closed, so we headed for the US border with all speed.

(And crossing the border will be featured in a future post … “Being Different – the Good, the Bad & the Ugly.” A tale full of sound & fury, I promise!)

We raced at an angle from Banff through Alberta and western Saskatchewan, crossed into the US in North Dakota, and sped through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire in 9 days … and we finally arrived in Maine yesterday. A blur of cheesy hotels and occasional gorgeous scenery highlighted by periodic philosophical spinoffs, some worth telling (at least I think so!)

During that whole drive I kept wondering why I wasn’t excited. I mean, I was about to achieve a 40-year dream, so why was I feeling so grim? The grimness must have been the result of grinding through 8-hour driving days and marginal accommodations with reluctant pets … and because of lingering feelings about our border-crossing experience …

… because it lasted until about 5 minutes after we crossed the border into Maine, at which point I felt such a lift that I thought I might end up with permanent goosebumps, I was so flooded with energy and emotion. And the first couple of stops we made for prescriptions and other necessaries, when people found out I was from California, they said things like, “Huh! Well, you look like you belong here.” Music to my ears!!!

Julia isn’t quite as excited, because getting her settled is going to be far more complicated and time-consuming, and frankly she isn’t looking forward to the amount of hard work she has facing her to prepare for the GRE and start pitching herself to the research programs where she wants to study … but she’s rolling her sleeves up and getting to work tomorrow, right after we scope out currently available housing.

That brings you up to date. Next blog posts will be about some highlight experiences, and a couple of fun and silly philosophical rants about things like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And a bit more about some things we really liked about Canada.

Thanks for bearing with me! I hope you’re well, and that your life is giving you clear signals.

Read Full Post »

To avoid getting completely tangled up in layers of complexities, here’s a sort of outline presentation of what we’d hoped for versus what has happened so far.

I won’t blame you for skipping this chapter … it may only interest people who know us already, who can’t look away from train wrecks, or who might be looking for weird plot ideas. Sorry it’s so loooong … but, well, you’ll see why.

The Opportunities

Me – To discover whether New England is as congenial, supportive, beautiful and soul satisfying as I’ve always believed it could be.

Julia (my daughter) – To get close enough to easily explore the most promising masters and Ph.D. neuroscience programs for migraines in the U.S.

Sheba (80 lb wolf dog), Basserina & Sneakers (cats who are NOT best friends!) – to leave behind warm sunshine, a yard, familiar surroundings and a comfortable routine to travel in cramped conditions for a month or more while being uprooted (just after getting comfortable!) almost daily.

The Original Plan

To pack up the household and put most of our possessions in storage in California, to be brought to us after we found a place to live in New England. And then, to make the trip across the continent a vacation, taking up to 2 months to explore places like Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the Canadian Rockies and so on. And to check out various universities on the way.

The Known (prior to July 1) Challenges:

Home Environment – In addition to my general difficulties with Bay Area air quality, pollen count, and so on, there were several really serious problems with where we lived. First, although we didn’t realize it at first, there was something terribly toxic in the back yard. Whether it was from the auto body shops just on the other side of the back fence, or asbestos in older construction, or old and new toxins released during the massive renovation which was announced and commenced about 4 months after we moved in … the cumulative effect was bad enough that it affected not only hyper-sensitive me, but also got to my daughter on the days when she didn’t spend 8-10 hours in an air conditioned lab. Bottom line, as long as we lived in the apartment, I would have to function in spite of both physical and mental challenges, and so would she.

Food – Julia and I are both on highly restricted diets, so, no eating in restaurants. Also, most of what we can eat can only be found in health food stores, requiring extra effort for successful travel arrangements.

Environment – For me, intense urban environments seem to generate too many toxins to be tolerated for even a day without extra meds, and after 16 years on the Northern California Redwood Coast, I had been spoiled by endless clean air, water and low population density. Even an hour or two of freeway driving requires extra medication to prevent backlash, affecting travel plans as well. My doctor thinks this will largely clear up in a different environment (!!)

Multiple Disguises and Varied Accommodations – We need clothes for travel, hotel stays, camping, job interviews and making a good impression on potential landlords. We also need cooking utensils, food storage and health support items.

Space – We’re traveling in a Ford Escape and towing a nifty little PulMor trailer so the fuzzy family members would have at least a little space.

Fuzzy Family Members – See above in Opportunities.

The Unanticipated Challenges

Earlier Moveout Deadline – On July 1 it was announced that the interior renovations on individual apartments in our part of the complex would begin on August 1 rather than the anticipated September 16th. Since I was basically bedridden for 6 months the last time I had prolonged contact with construction/renovation materials, and was already in some trouble due to allergies or intolerances, that meant we had to be completely moved out before they started tearing up the interior and exterior of our apartment. We finally negotiated an 8/12 moveout – thank goodness!

Mercury Retrograde – In case you’re not familiar with astrology, Mercury retrograde periods occur 3 times a year for 3 weeks each time, with an additional week’s residue on either side. These periods are famous for screwing up travel, scheduling, communications, computers, contracts and so on. There’s a deeper intent, of course, but we’ll save that discussion for another time. In this case, if one were cynical, one would say naturally Mercury retrograde would be heaped on top of the rest of the complications! How else to give me an opportunity to fully explore the challenge of meeting chaos and uncertainty by staying centered and present in the moment?!?

Personnel – Julia was working full time in the Stanford lab until August 1, which meant that any work requiring physical strength and stamina had to be accomplished (by her) in the two weeks between then and our moveout deadline, since I literally could not do it.

Last Minute Complications

Trailer – Rather than being able to work with the nifty little trailer we’d found to plan our travel supplies, we didn’t receive it until 5 days before the moveout, at which point we were working so hard on packing that there was no time for thoughtful preparation.

Health – As anyone with allergies can tell you, moving can create problems, starting with exposure to accumulated dust and so on. One of the big surprises was that anything which had been kept in the back yard (lawn chairs, bike, etc), as well as the expensive Uhaul boxes we’d saved from the move last year, had somehow soaked up whatever toxins were back there, making both Julia and me sick. Everything in the back yard, and everything in the storage unit (which had carelessly been filled with 30 to 40 year old roofing debris during the earliest part of the renovation) had to be trashed.

Day-Of Surprises

Things went really well with the movers. In fact, the lead guy suggested that we could work for Bekins any time, our packing was so professional.

You probably know that the last part of any move, when you have to decide what to do with the dregs and the stuff you need to keep available to use till the last minute on moveout, and first thing when you move in. We had a lot of it, and I – the Virgo in charge of lists and space planning – had not spent much time considering what went where. Nor, as mentioned, had I been able to work with the trailer.

Picture this:

It’s 2 pm and Julia and I are standing in our apartment parking area surrounded by a clutter of bags and boxes containing clothes, cooking utensils, and miscellany left behind by the movers. Within 6 to 15 feet of us, above and parallel, are at least a dozen construction workers, ripping off 30 year old shingles, revving skill saws as they cut pressboard to replace the shingles, rat-tat-tatting with nail guns to put the pressboard in place, and generally filling the area with sawdust, construction chemicals and bellowing  male exuberance.

I’m standing there in my allergy mask (which makes me look like Miss Piggy) and Julia is drooping under the combined pressure of hard manual labor and chemical exposure. And the critters have been waiting impatiently in the car since 8 am.

We have just discovered that we have approximately twice too much stuff and must make some instant, difficult decisions, because staying another night in the apartment will only make us both less able to make coherent decisions (the HEPA air purifiers have been packed, so all allergy protection is gone), or to act on them.

We ended up dumping all our new camping equipment, tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses and cooking equipment, and at the same time completely eliminating what had been an important part of our plans to manage the food part of our travels. (We did leave behind some pretty happy campers among the apartment complex staff, though.)

By the time we finally pulled away from the apartment complex at 3 pm, Sheba was cramped in a postage stamp place in the back of the car …

the cats were howling in their carriers, and Julia and I were poleaxed and exhausted.

Fortunately, I had made reservations two days earlier at a hotel about half an hour away!!! All that remained was for Julia and I to carry everything in the car and trailer into the hotel room – the equivalent of about a block in each direction from car to room – settle the critters, and sleep for as long as possible.

But Wait! There’s More!

Poor Julia woke up in the middle of that first night with a ferocious, full-body case of hives which is better now, 5 days later, but still giving her fits.

We spent 3 days at the first hotel, inventorying everything, rethinking our plans, and giving away things like my favorite cast iron pan to hotel staff. By the time we left we still weren’t rested or recovered, but at least the critters had enough room to travel in relative comfort.

Oh, and the wonderful ironies!

Remember that we raced to get out of our apartment to avoid the renovation? Our first day in the hotel someone knocked on the door midafternoon. There on the doorstep was the desk clerk with two huge construction guys who needed to come into our hotel room right then to measure and tap and examine in detail for – you guessed it! – renovation!!!

The next day we went to a nearby Whole Foods Market to pick up stuff for our fussy food needs. You of course, have guessed what we found … the market was completely torn up and chaotic, hung with visquine (sp?) throughout, and right in the middle of … renovation.

More than one friend has speculated that the Universe was just making sure we didn’t dawdle on our way out of the Bay Area.

And, once we left the Bay Area things did begin to clear up, almost miraculously.

There was time and space to feast my eyes on the rounded, feminine shapes of the land in the Napa Valley area, to soak up the sight and smell of Redwood groves, to smile over memories of my many years traveling up and down California Highway 101.

When we got back to the Eureka-Arcata area, aside from having to troop in and out of the Red Lion lobby with tons of stuff in tacky old boxes and grocery bags, including a litter box, things got easier and easier. Our favorite old Co-Op had all the food we needed. The scenery got more and more beautiful. Driving became the pleasure it usually is for me, and we all (including the critters, I  think) began to get into the spirit of our adventure.

So, here we are in Coos Bay, Oregon, finally getting rested and caught up with organized and presentable packing, blogging, accounting and travel planning, fulfilling fantasies and dreams of staying in the Olympic rainforest and riding ferries around Puget Sound.

Next, I’ll post a couple of “Fond Memories.” We’ll start traveling again Saturday …

Read Full Post »

The day I began my blog I had no idea that the light I saw at the end of the tunnel was actually an oncoming train. Fortunately, it missed us by a hair, but we have been madly buffeted by roaring, clattering and gusting wind as a juggernaut of awful possibilities thundered by mere inches from our noses.

Perhaps if I hadn’t dared the gods with my initial comments about how the chaos and uncertainty of a leap into the unknown keep me fit and refreshed, the past 10 days would have been easier to navigate … but probably not.

I think the real problem lay in two things: first, we were being pressed from behind by potentially damaging circumstances which couldn’t be mitigated, and second, the gifts which I depend on to navigate successfully through life seem to have been blunted to the point of uselessness.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a professional psychic. It’s one of the three ways I support myself, the other two being writing and management-level office work, and I have for most of my working life cycled through those three modalities as opportunity and whim dictated.

When doing readings for others I’ll often use astrology, Tarot and even numerology, but in my own life I depend on feedback from the world around me to let me know if I’m headed in the right direction, and when it’s time for a change. Jungian psychologist Jean Shinoda Bolen said that there’s so much meaning in the everyday experience of life that it can be interpreted like a dream, and I have found this to be true.

Even more, I’ve found that in my case, if things are going well, then I’m headed in the right direction. If the going gets hard and heavy, then it’s time to make course corrections, and keep making them until the road smooths out again. And often small events, ones most people would consider insignificant, will quickly validate when I’ve made a good course correction. A bird flying past my windshield, a serendipitous purchase at the grocery, a casual remark by a passerby … when I’m alert, that’s normally all the guidance I need. And it works! Usually.

However, for the past year, nothing I’ve done has achieved that shift in energy and circumstance which signals to me that I’m back on the right track. It’s been a complicated, slogging uphill grind since I moved with my adult daughter, Julia, from coastal Redwood country in far Northern California (Humboldt County) to the San Francisco South Bay area, where she spent the past year on a stem cell research scholarship at Stanford University.

A quick bit of backstory, here. My family has allergies and intolerances, and mine (I thought) manifsted mostly with foods and chemical vapors like formaldehyde and petroleum (yep, that foundational chemical of our culture). But when I got to the Bay Area the problems exploded in all directions, to the point where I couldn’t function normally. Foods, chemicals, odors, freeway exhausts, pollen, dust … all of that and more could lay me flat in an instant. Not only that, but it has affected my daughter as well.

Of course, a typical allergy symptom is mental fog, and mine has seemed debilitating this year. I was fortunate to find a truly outstanding allergy specialist who not only believed me (the first M.D. who has), but found a couple of simple, straightforward ways to treat and manage the worst of it until I could get out of the cauldron of triggers which the Bay Area proved to be for me. Of course, part of it involved staying indoors, doors and windows closed, and HEPA Blue Smoke Air Purifiers cranked up high – which, since I’m a fresh air fanatic, I hated!

Even with treatment, though, I’ve essentially been flying blind for a bit more than a year, wrapped in a numbing fog, completely without the sensitivity and mental acuity which I have depended on all my life to inform my choices and decisions.

So, I guess we’re talking about a rock and a hard place, here. The allergies are the rock.

Tomorrow, in “The Gory Details,” I’ll tell you about the hard place, the combination of circumstances that developed into a full-blown speeding train that, as I said, barely missed flattening us. Or at least that’s how it’s felt.

After that, you’ll be up to date, and it’ll be time for musing and reveling in beautiful scenery as we travel up the coast through Washington state, across Canada, and back down into New England.

Read Full Post »