Friday, May 31, 2019

Alien landing - and a volunteer opportunity

It's hard to come back home after six and a half months in Arizona. I feel like an alien.

Here's what looks different when I first get back:

  • Lots more traffic in Seattle than in Tucson - and lots more than this time last year. 
  • I notice what WASN'T here when we left. New buildings, old houses replaced by new houses, scaffolding for new buildings-to-be, more tents along the highway and under bridges.
  • Green, green everywhere. Including tall weeds in our yard. 
  • Inside the house, little things in different places, from when our tenant lived here.
Here's what I've done since I got back:
  • I had to change my insurance after 30 years, because my Washington provider doesn't have services in Arizona. I visited a new optometrist the day after I got back, rather than the friendly woman I've been seeing for 30 years. All three pairs of glasses need a new prescription, so I'm experiencing a little eyestrain (no old pairs to fall back on) while I wait for the new ones.
  • My housekeeper retired, so I got references from friends and hired a new one.
  • I want blue and purple highlights in my hair that don't fade. I asked for recommendations and, after I'd traveled 25 minutes to a new person, I said, "My only requirement is that it last for six weeks." So far, so good. Still, I felt a little remorseful about not going to the salon where I've been for the last seven years or so.

  • I mediated in small claims court on Tuesday, after seven months away. Most of it came back to me - like riding a bicycle, you know - but I forgot to fill out one form and had to go confess to the judge, who forgave me.
  • Conversation with my friend Gail, as though it's only been a week or so instead of half a year. She came up with an idea for recruiting Washington volunteers for the asylum shelter in Tucson where we spend time in the winter.
  • Lunch with my friend Marilyn, just like it was yesterday. She verified that Gail's idea for recruiting volunteers is a good one, and said she might want to go with her daughter and granddaughter.
  • Coffee with my friend Lillian and her friend Cheryl, and further conversation about the need for volunteers in Tucson. Cheryl's son has Tucson contacts.
  • Conversation with my neighbor Jennie, with interruptions from her three delightful children. They are all taller, of course, and I am a little shorter. I got to listen to violin practice from a back bedroom.
  • A conversation with my former medical provider; they have a more recent prescription for my CPAP machine, which I'll need in order to buy a smaller one for travel. I'm going to Iceland and England with my granddaughter next month, and I want to have the smaller machine by then.
  • A water exercise class, more vigorous than the one I attended in Arizona. I'll get used to it.
  • Pulling weeds in my yard. Half an hour is about my limit these days.
So, here's the deal about the volunteer opportunity in Tucson. 

Art and I volunteered every Saturday night from November to May at a shelter for asylum seekers. I have talked about that several times in this blog. We miss those Saturday nights.

The shelters in Tucson need volunteers in the summer and fall because snowbirds, who make up much of the workforce, have gone home.

I have a friend at Voyager, the 55+ RV resort where I live in the winter, who has three rentals (park model trailers). He will make them available to volunteers for $45 a night from now until October. There are a LOT of summer activities there, as well as three swimming pools, hot tub and sauna. Tucson has theatre, music, a university and excellent medical facilities. It is hot, but "it's a dry heat". For me, that's far easier than when it's humid. And Tucson sunsets are spectacular.

There is also a family offering an RV spot with full hookups, available free for volunteers.

You can come for days or weeks. You can work as many or as few four-hour shifts as you want. Or you can be a drveer. You can bring your children along. Each shift is guaranteed to have a Spanish speaker, in case you aren't one. On your first shift, it's guaranteed you will have someone experienced to show you the ropes. It's not strenuous, though it can get hectic. It's a fabulous experience. If you're interested, let me know and I will give you more information and help set you up. 

So, I've landed in Washington, feeling less like an alien. But I've still got my eyes on Tucson.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The time between

Usually, at the end of the winter season, I fly from Tucson back to Seattle. It takes three hours and then I shift immediately from warm desert to cooler green. I don't have much time to process the change or adjust myself to the different surroundings that await.

Art did that this year. But I'd made plans with my traveling friend for a road trip from Tucson to midcoast California (Los Osos, just west of San Luis Obispo). My friend's sister has a place there, and the sister would be in France for a month, and my friend - and I - were invited to spend some time in the coastal cottage.

It was a two-day drive, with a stop in Yucca Valley for the night. We avoided Los Angeles by taking back roads through the high desert east of there, including Joshua Tree National Park.

The freeway went by Lancaster, in the Antelope Valley, where I lived 45 years ago as a young married woman. The only thing that was familiar were the street names and the mountains around it. But just past Lancaster, going north, it looked exactly the same as in 1975 - scrub desert.

Between the vineyards south of Bakersfield and the Pacific coast there's a mountain road - Route 166, I think, passing through the Cuyama Valley  - with gorgeous views. The early afternoon sun provided contrasts of sun and shade among the greens and golds. I've spent many years in California but had never traveled this road.

We've settled into my friend's sister's place in Los Osos. 

So far we've explored Los Osos, Baywood and Morro Bay, eaten unhurried midday meals at local cafes, explored state parks and hiked on cliffside beach trails.

Our "cottage" is heated by a gas stove, just right for cooler evenings and rainy days. We read, and snack, and nap, and break the silence of the place with occasional conversation. It is the perfect place for me to be in this time between.

In four days I'll get on a plane in San Luis Obispo and fly to Seattle, ready to embrace the challenges and the pleasures of the suburb we've called home for the last 25 years.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Bag Lady is traveling again

Where to this time?

To Iceland and England? No, that's in June with my granddaughter Cory.

To Iceland - again - and Greenland? No, that's in August with my friend Terra.

To Denver, to Tyler and Jake's wedding? Nope, September.

To New York City? No, that's in October with my friend Ellen.

Our next trip - on May 15 - is to Seattle. To our house, where we lived for 25 years - full time until eight years ago, and now for just six months of the year.

We're going home. Leaving our little place in Tucson, where we spend the other six months.

Going home. Well, that's not entirely true, because Tucson is now home as well. It's where Art rehearses all winter for a spring play. Where I play handbells and go to discussion groups on current events and foreign affairs. Where we chat with friends and neighbors at the post office and play dominoes with our neighbors. Where we ride our bicycles. And this year, where we volunteer in town at a shelter for asylum seekers.

Home in Seattle is where I mediate in small claims court, meet friends for coffee. Where we plant and maintain a fruit and vegetable garden. Visit with our kids from time to time.

For me, more and more, home is Tucson. For Art, home is still Seattle, where he has lived nearly all his life.

So I have my going-home list of things to do. Stop the paper in Tucson and start up the one in Seattle. Forward the Tucson mail and unforward the Seattle mail. Stop the cable/internet in Tucson and start it up in Seattle. Change the address with Netflix, Amazon, our medical insurance companies, and the magazines. Make arrangements for summer care in Tucson, make an appointment to have our Tucson car battery disconnected for the summer, find a ride to the airport in Tucson and from the airport in Seattle. figure out what to take to Seattle that I'll need when I travel to Greenland (jacket, gloves, hat). Say goodbye to good friends in Tucson.

Traveling again. Going home.