Archive for July, 2015

It was his eightieth year to heaven and we all gathered in the Moose Hall in the small Central Valley town where Wayne ran a Rodeo every summer for years. He is known all over the area as “Cowboy”. A steady stream of grizzled men in cowboy hats came thru the bar, obtained a drink, and stood in irregular circles congratulating Wayne on making it to eighty. Barbecued beef, macaroni salad, potato salad, and more delicious eats stood on a table but the guys preferred their drinks while we women and children gladly filled our plates.

A lively young couple began an intricate description of the acreage they had just bought to better house their 20 dogs, 13 cats and a few various other animals. Leanne told me she had found a horse tied to Wayne’s fence, abandoned by someone, and so they needed more room for all the animals she had rescued. Her husband, a handsome, genteel man looked askance at this. Wayne interrupted and waved his glass around saying “No one ever tied a horse on my fence!” He looked significantly at Leanne.  She colored and said to me “Oh. I lied to my husband. Actually the horse had been abandoned and was at the pound. I couldn’t bear to leave that poor horse in the pound.”

Giving Don an apology hug, which he accepted graciously, she then dragged out her phone and showed me trays and trays of blueberries on her dinning room table which they were selling and which were grown on their new purchase near Lake Comanche. She and her hubby are now in the blueberry business. “Wow! How much land is devoted to blueberries?” I ask, astonished that they grow in this valley. “I thought they were grown in wet marshes.” She dimpled up and glanced at Don. ” We have one acre and they are bush blueberries, four feet high, and we had no idea we were getting into the blueberry business when we bought this place. It is a steep learning curve and people call all the time and ask us for “our blueberries” as if we knew who they were. Being new owners we don’t know them but they come over and buy 50 lbs and take them home and freeze them. We never intended to be sellers of blueberries, just to have room for all our rescued animals.”

Pebbles, by Mary P. Williams

Pebbles, a drawing by Mary P Williams

I thought of all the horses pastured at Wayne’s ranch and of the one I had drawn a year earlier. He would whistle and Pebbles would gallop over to be fed while I drew. This year, with the drought and no water for pasture, the number of horses had to be reduced since $15 for a bale of hay prevented any profit from boarding horses. Don and Leanne have boarded 4 horses with Wayne and now must move them. Wayne and the guys drifted into a commiseration about the lack of water and the price of hay. All conversation halted as a stunning chocolate cake was brought forth. Singing, laughter, and another round of drinks accompanied servings of this four-layer sugar castle. Happy Birthday to YOU, Mr. Wayne Cummings!!

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"Can You Hear Me?" by Mary P. Williams

“Can You Hear Me?” by Mary P. Williams

How did this reversal happen?

Ten short years ago people came to my office and listened carefully as I explained the intricacies of “the real estate deal”. There was pleasure in the interaction and conversation about this subject and many others.  The most interesting thing about my job as a Real Estate Broker was listening to the clients describe their own jobs and their lives. Fascinating explanations from intelligent, innovative people who loved telling me about their visions of the future.

Sandwiched between viewing one house and another house they told me how the Internet would eliminate the use of paper. How business would be done without a face-to-face meeting of broker and client. Neither of these propositions happened. The  joy with which they described the speed with which a person could buy the home they would live in and the elimination of useless “personality” in the transaction amazed me. Was it possible that the prospective buyer could simply look at staged photos of a house and buy it from thousands of miles away? What about the intangibles of weather, neighborhood, and those stately trees which add so much to the quality of life?

As they described this future world they ambled thru a house and commented on the lack, or abundance, of light and “how the moon would look seen thru this window.” The rose garden on this property and the raked zen paths on that property were compared and aesthetic decisions were arrived at. None of this could be done at a distance.

The key ingredient in the selection of the “perfect” house for the individual was the presence of a person to listen as the client talked about their desire for this or that ambiance. That was the function of the Broker … to listen and reflect back to the person a list of “needs” and “wants”. Two very different values.  I only “need” two bedrooms/one bath but I “want” four bedrooms/two baths. Listen, listen, listen.

Then came the longed for and dreaded RETIREMENT.  My young, active, movers-and-shakers were replaced by older, settled people in communities for ‘Over 55 Adults’. People who were uninterested in current affairs, politics, and who the latest artist/writer/filmmaker was and which newly opened restaurant had divine food combinations/far-out interior design. Yikes!

Who am I to talk to and listen to now ? My preference is to have face-to-face contact which provides subtle clues … body language, intonation, and facial expression meld together to give a whole sensory experience which cannot be achieved by texting a person. Yikes indeed!!

Oh, for the chance to listen to a brilliant person scintillate in front of me. “ Spouting off” is what I believe some folks would call it … I call it “creative thinking out loud” and it was the thing which characterized San Francisco in the 1980’s, 1990’s and the early years of the 21st century. I miss the enthusiasm with which they talked, debated, visualized, shouted, muttered, sang and otherwise expressed the joy of conversation.

Can you hear Me ?

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Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

The caterpillar and the milkweed cleave one unto the other. Unless the Monarch butterfly can find a milkweed plant to lay her eggs on her future caterpillars are doomed. Oh, one asks, “Why must it be only milkweed?”  There is no answer in the rich mosaic of choices which were made thousands of generations ago by the ancestors of the awesome monarch butterfly.

Why do they hang in clumps in certain trees? Why this tree and not those trees? It appears that the choices are hardwired into each individual and the success of the species depends on the individual repeating the instructions verbatim.

Is our behavior governed by some imperative of which we are unaware?

There are the patterns that butterflies follow … and the patterns that the milkweed plant, with its elegant pods, follows.  At what time and temperature will the pod release its floaty white seeds? Will the seeds grow at the right time to match the need of the caterpillar for succulent foliage to browse upon? Our mysterious world and its magic!

Milkweed pods and their silky seeds

Milkweed pods and their silky seeds

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