It’s NOT been a busy summer friends. I am here living. Doing everything I ever did. Reading, writing, drawing, sitting, walking, napping, catting. All below the digital radar. I’ve tuned in and dropped out, but a couple of recent comments on my last post and emails gently tugged on my line. So here I am. Peering through the warm glaze of summer to touch base with you. And happy to do it, I might add. I need the occasional nudge these days to leave the analogue sea where I’m bobbing in a warm current. Paddle back towards the digital harbor. Check in, send out my smoke signals. Touch base. Say hello. Read the postcards that have been accumulating.
In a nutshell these are the happenings since I last wrote in mid-June.
My sister visited. My garage and house received a good strong Swedish death cleaning. I gave away lots of old treasure on Craig’s List. I took a trip to Mendocino for 10 days. School ended and then almost started. I went on lots of walks. My cat died.
I went on a massive decluttering mission, which I now do each summer. But this time I went deeper. Looked in every drawer, cabinet, trunk, and box. Sorted through some family memorabilia and photos. Above is my beloved pop when he was just a kid in his very early 20’s. (kept!)
Below is my maternal grandmother, whom I never knew as she died in 1936, Crisanta Florentina Guerra with her brother Efrain Aurelio Guerra. Dear isn’t it?
I sent packages of letters and photographs to siblings, and gave away boxes of treasures from my travels and early life, including this giant wooden angel head I watched being carved in a small town in the Mexican highlands.
I got rid of journals from childhood and teenage years and young adulthood. Essentially if something was hidden away in a box for safekeeping, it’s gone. EXCEPT. I kept one box of memorabilia that I will revisit next summer.
I took photos of everything and listed the items in the FREE section of Craig’s List. I wrote little story blurbs for everything. Here are a few:
I’ve recently come to the realization that if something is packed in a box where I can’t see it, I have no need to hold onto it. No matter how precious it once was, I’m now able to send the objects on their journeys. I took photos to remember the things I’ve had since childhood (like this wooden monkey) and simply passed them along to their next caretaker.
It feels good to pare down, tidy up, and clear the path of debris. My version of Swedish death cleaning.
The best part by far were all the wonderful people I met. Even though it was a no-contact pick-up I did meet most of the people. One woman was going to deliver an old fold-up rolling bed, blankets, and towels to Tijuana to help the poor. Another young artist was going to hang my decades-old wall hanging in his studio. A young woman was going to use the dishes and kitchen items in her first apartment. A married couple from the valley loved my mom’s 1950’s floral bedspread. I wish I had a photo of the sweet man who came in his big truck to pick that up! A nice guy named Ron, wanted a stack of old poetry books. Charlie took the wicker basket and even sent me a photo telling me where it was going to go.
As is my way, I wrote about each item and the recipient in my journal. Almost everything was claimed within 24 hours of listing it. Oh the wonders of living in Los Angeles!
From my mother’s old samsonite to home decor items, dishes, old pet carriers, old ledgers, vintage life magazines, travel souvenirs, you name it. I LET IT ALL GO.
I also culled my library and eliminated an entire bookshelf full of books that no longer seemed important. A friend has embarked on a no-buy challenge with me that feels right. Aside from the bare necessities I am committed. No purchases. Sounds extreme, but it isn’t. I’m figuring out replacements or substitutes. If I run out of ink for my printer, or need a water filter, I will buy it. If I need a new pair of leggings, or tube of paint, I will not.
I love visiting old cemeteries. When I walked at this one I had no idea of the wave of grief that was heading my way.
At the very end of July, my dear old girl, Corky went downhill rapidly in a week’s time. Cancer of the mouth. I comforted her as best I could. We had a lovely summer together. She was 16 and Wyatt is 17. All this to say there is only 1 member of the cat posse left. Corky left the earth on August 3rd, bound for who knows where. The rainbow bridge analogy doesn’t work for me so I won’t use it here, but in the words of MOONRIVER, a song I listened to a lot this summer, “Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way.”
I present mostly old photos of everyone’s favorite member of the cat posse. She was known for her extreme friendliness and good nature. I adopted her as a kitten from the school parking lot in November of 2005. She had a long life of extreme sports here at Moss Cottage. Tree climbing, roof climbing, leaping, jumping, morning running, fence climbing, running from her brothers. The most energetic playful cat I’ve ever had! Never sick a day in her life until now.
Lap of Love pet hospice came out to the house on Tuesday. The most compassionate vet I’ve ever met administered such peaceful end-of-life care to dear Corky. We had her on the porch because more than anything in life, Corky wanted to be outside in the great outdoors. Rina brought the basket with purple cushion to the porch after Corky died and I placed her in it. Then she covered her with the purple blanket. She was taken away in the front seat with her little head uncovered. I will get her ashes in a couple of weeks and will bury them in the front yard near the oak trees.
I’m grateful that I was not working and could be fully present for Corky as she always was for me. On her last day on earth I drew her and made a memorial photo where it now sits next to the one for Buck Moss.
The perils of keeping and loving animals. I will not stop doing it. Not ever.
Worth every single tear and heartache.
On her last morning Corky stared out the window. She wanted to be OUT THERE, among the wild things.
These next photos are from a few years back.
On my bookshelf
Summer reading has been a pleasure. Fresh Water For Flowers is from a French writer and is a beautiful treatise on life from start to finish. I was saving and highlighting so many gorgeous lines, I lost count. If you have a poetic bone in your body, you will simply die. But don’t. So you can finish it.
Unsettled Ground – quite good. I read it in 1 day in my cottage retreat by the sea, coming up for air only to walk the headland paths. Simply fabulous!
My least favorite of the books above was The End of Loneliness. The writing felt stilted at times and amateurish. The characters motives at times were puzzling and cliche, nevertheless I finished it and liked it enough to list it here.
I didn’t finish Digital Minimalism, but found it a fairly good listen. I will eventually finish it.
Everything else was outstanding!
A new school year is right around the corner.
Here is my latest DONOR’S CHOOSE project if you care to contribute. Bill Gates is stepping in to MATCH 50% of ALL Donor’s Choose donations on August 12 only. This means if someone donates $20 on August 12, that donation will become $30. If you’re a classroom teacher I urge you to submit a project NOW for whatever you need in the upcoming school year.
I look forward to hearing from you in the comments. Regale me with stories of your summer. What you’re reading, eating, seeing, doing. All of it. Everything. Tell me how you are. I await word.