Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feels Like Rain

After 25 years in Oregon I never thought I'd wish for a cloudy, rainy day. This morning I woke with such a craving. But it ain't gonna happen. Just this relentless heat and humidity, I stay snuggled under the comforter with the AC on high.

It rains in southern Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert. It rains (sometimes) in the winter. It rains a lot (usually) in the summer during monsoon season. But here in Kino, in the Sonoran Desert along the Sea of Cortez, it almost never rains. The clouds will start to form over Calle Doce way. They'll gather in a half-circle along Kino's backside like foamy shaving cream. But that sea air keeps those clouds at bay. Twelve rain drops fall - so few we can count them - and that's it, that's all we get.

Some of the best sexy sweaty rainy lyrics are these:

Down here the river meets the sea
and in the sticky heat I feel you open up to me
Love comes out of nowhere, baby, just like a hurricane
And it feels like rain

Written by John Hiatt, I've owned three versions of this song: his, Aaron Neville's and Buddy Guy's. I recommend all three. Here's Buddy Guy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Only Crazy People

I was missing city life in general and Portland in particular the night I met the biker who loved me for three days. I'd been away from Portland for almost a year and here was a man who'd lived in Oregon and who not only knew the music of Lucinda Williams but was a big fan. I figured the universe had put me on that barstool next to that man to ease my homesickness.

Lucinda was my road sister on that trip from Oregon to Arizona. The six-CD changer held only Lucinda. I knew the words to every song. I wanted to go to Louisiana with her and her brothers and hit all the best bars, drop a quarter into a jukebox to see what it would do, hang out behind a dimly-lit bar just waiting to taste a certain someone's essence.

About six months after the biker's disappearance I ran into him at the bar. He asked if I'd heard of The Wreckers and I said no. "Wait here," he said. He rode home and returned with a copy of "Stand Still and Look Pretty."

If the same taste in music made for happily ever afters, me and that biker, we would've been together for more than three days.

If you haven't heard it, check out Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp doing Only Crazy People Fall In Love With Me. I can relate. Maybe the biker can too.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Those Three Days

This past week I've killed two scorpions in my bodega. One I beat to death with a broom. The other froze, tail up, in front of the fridge when I clicked on the light. I reached over for the boric acid and tossed a spoonful on its back. It scurried under a box of books. If boric acid works with cockroaches it may work with scorpions. Had the scorpion been outside, I would've left it alone but in the bodega, no. I didn't want to reach into that box of books and get stung, or find one as a stowaway should I ever leave.

Scorpions - and getting the trailer screens replaced - remind me of this Lucinda Williams song:

Scorpions crawl across my screen
Make their home beneath my skin
Underneath my dress stick their tongues
Bite through the flesh down to the bone
And I have been so fuckin' alone
Since those three days

Once I was loved forever for three days. He was a handsome biker with curly blonde hair bleached even blonder by all those Arizona bike-riding days without a helmet. He was tall with sexy crooked teeth and emerald green eyes. He said he could feel it down to his bones that we'd be together forever. He couldn't wait for me to meet his mom. He kissed me and said I was a breath of fresh air because I didn't smoke or do drugs.

Then he disappeared.

Rumor had it he was shacking up with a skinny tweaker biker chick who smoked.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

La Rumba

In the basement of my grandparents' home was grandpa's workshop. I don't have many clear memories of things that happened, oh, like more than ten hours ago but I can still picture grandpa's shop. It was well organized, warm and cozy for a basement space. I remember hand tools hanging on a pegboard over the workbench. I remember a big vise grip. But what I remember most was his toolbox. It was big enough for a small girl to climb into and it contained everything a handyman could want, all sizes nuts, bolts, screws. Even though I'm as handy as a toad, I love hardware stores. I know it started with grandpa's workshop.

The town smackdab between here and Hermosillo is Miguel Aleman but everyone calls it Calle Doce, 12th Street. La Rumba is Calle Doce's massive ferreteria. I wish I would've taken more time to snap photos but shopping for hardware items in a foreign country is like a double dose of foreign-ness and so it required all my concentration. To make things easier I went armed with visual aids, a shopping list in english and spanish, and a dictionary.

Here's the screen over the kitchen window a little thief slit and the propane tank valve that needs replacing.

This is only a small section of the wall behind the counter. I look at all those tools and think I WANT THEM! All of them. If I had a bunch of tools I'd have to get a toolbox like grandpa had. Of course, I have no interest in actually using the tools; I just want the tools.

All manner of things can be found at La Rumba, from hand-tooled leather seat covers to old-timey cook stoves to brooms. As huge as La Rumba is, this trip wasn't totally successful. They didn't have that rubber stuff you shove in the frame to hold the screen in place (see, a foreign language). And I think I need the whole valve enchilada and not just the knob thingy at the top. But still I was happy just being in the presence of all that stuff.

It's interesting that most of the people working at the hardware store are women. I've only ever see two men working there - the boss and Chapito. Chapito is so small and so delicate-looking that the first time I met him I thought he was a woman. The boss is always trying to fix us up, these two shorties. All I can picture is me on top of Chapito and he'd be squished, my width about twice his.

Florence has a new ceramic tile floor in her trailer (believe me, that trailer will never be moved now that she's added a few hundred pounds to its weight) and our next stop was one of the many secondhand stores; she needed to replace the pyrex dishes she keeps dropping and shattering on those ceramic tiles. She was successful - got two dishes for about 20 pesos. I bought a pair of shorts and a lime-green blouse to match my lime-green toenail polish. Across from the secondhand stores the street is lined with shoe stores, clothing stores, and beach stores catering to Hermosillans on their way to Kino.

Next we went to Santa Fe grocery store. Now one of the things about Mexican grocery stores is that they have shelves and shelves of mayonnaise. I never realized what a popular condiment mayo is. (Sadly, I'm a Miracle Whip person and could they have just one measly jar? Nope.)

We made a few other stops...Florence looking for cheap chicken for her dogs, the Norson pork store, Arturo the auto body painter guy, Pemex for gas. And, yes, it was unbearably hot and dusty and muggy and I wanted nothing more than to get back to my tiny freezer-box trailer so I passed on lunch even though we were both starving.

Back in Kino we made one last stop at Chubby Chicks (the name an old geezer gringo gave to the fruit market) because Flo said they were getting in grapes today and sure enough, crates of grapes were piled just inside the door. Local grapes. Not the usual tasteless big red grapes from Chile. These are seedless and incredibly sweet. Currently the town is brimming with them.

Last weekend at Los Nafraugos Jesus the waiter brought plates of grapes to each table. Two young couples had a bottle of chilled white wine on their table. I saw them ask Jesus to bring them a sharp knife. Oops, no corkscrew. Always diligent, always prepared (when it comes to alcohol) I retrieved a corkscrew from my van and opened the wine for them. A few minutes later a glass of wine appeared at my table along with bunches of red grapes. I settled in for more reading and people watching. It was like being in a real city.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Abuela in the Sea

Grandma is in the water with at least 12 children. It's almost dark and the waves are breaking harsh. Little bodies are tossed into the sand. They stand, shake it off, dive in for more. Grandma has on a white T-shirt and red flowered skirt. Her long gray hair - normally braided - is hanging loose down her back.

I stand at the seawall watching with a gin and tonic in hand. Abuela waves and I wave back then WHACK! she's slammed. Before she stands, she pulls up her skirt, pulls down her T-shirt then pushes back her hair. WHACK! she's hit again before she can stand. Bodies are rolling in the surf.

Supposedly humidity from Mexico is moving into southern Arizona. This will help with the fires, bring on the monsoons.

I wave goodnight to the grandmother. The children wring out their clothes and head home.

Tonight the humidity is manageable. It's the first night in weeks I can have the trailer door open.

Wish Me Luck

Today I'm going to Calle Doce with Florence - not Florence of the Machine but Florence of Kino. Or as Florence says, we're going to Cow-wah doe-sah. I need to get an estimate on how much it would cost to get the roof of my van painted and I need to go to quite possibly the best hardware store in the world, La Rumba, for screen material and propane tank valves and screws.

Trips to anywhere are always a trip with Florence but right now she's on a pissed-off tear. She was mad at me for weeks because I went to the movies without her even though she HATES movies. And now she's pissed off at someone in the park and has de-friended him in real life, not social networking life. BTW, I heard his side of the story and I'd de-friend him too if I were her. Oh wait, I already de-friended him because he's an arrogant bastard.

Anyway it's hot, it's muggy. We'll be making lots of stops and Flo will be leaping out of my huge fucking van I don't know how many times. It'll be major exercise for her legs. She's gonna get cranky; I'm gonna get cranky. If only I had Valium.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sand Dollars

There aren't a whole lot of unbroken sand dollars on the beach here. A perfect sand dollar is a real treasure. PJ and I tried to go to Sand Dollar Beach one day but the roads were too wet and rutted so we went to the shrimp farm instead. Supposedly people come back from Sand Dollar Beach with bags of sand dollars.

Last week I went out on a friend's boat over to Turner Island and Dog Bay. As we approached the beach, we saw hundreds of sand dollars alive and in their natural habitat. I do not take live creatures from the beach but Saul nabbed one on the anchor to show me what a live sand dollar looks like. So I, uh, took it. I'm sorry Poseidon. I'll never do it again.

It was all fuzzy, velvety and purple. Absolutely gorgeous. Other finds included vertebrae or whatever they are from turtle shells, lion's paws shells (never ever find those on the beach here), and someone's skull.

Sand dollars are members of the sea urchin family.

The real finds of the week were these itty-bitty sand dollars. They are so delicate, I don't know how they make it to the beach in one piece. And those puffy things? They're also members of the sea urchin family. Talk about delicate! Here's a close-up.

So kids, that's your sand dollar lesson for the day from Miss Bitch, I mean Miss Beach.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sardine Season

That fucking cat - a member of the menagerie I'm watching over - wakes me at five a.m. with his annoying meowing and his fucking bell, the bell I want to shove down his meowing little throat. I get up to put out the cats and dogs. The scene on the beach distracts me from thoughts of a cat-killing spree.

It's sardine season in Kino Bay.

I'm staying at the far end of the bay, about six miles from my trailer. There are birds everywhere - gulls, pelicans, terns, a lone heron - resting and preening on the beach as they await their turn at the sardine buffet. The air is wet, the sky hazy most likely from the Monument Fire north of here.

As the sun rises, the colors change.

The pelicans critique the meal.

The gull waits.

Time to shake off those wings and prepare for the second course.
I feed the two cats, three dogs. We watch the news from Arizona, keeping tabs on the fire. I'm back at my trailer by eight, ready for a nap. Getting up that early is for the birds. Seriously.

The feeding frenzy continues. PJ and I decide to go for a swim. Watching this scene from the beach is one thing; being in the midst of diving terns and pelicans is a whole 'nother thing. We're floating in a school of sardines, they brush against our legs, our arms. Pelicans corkscrew into the water a few feet from our heads. I hope they don't mistake my lime-green painted toenails for shiny little fish.

High tides, high seas, high humidity. It's summer in Kino Bay.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Accidental RV'er - Part One

This photo from Big American Night.
I do not recommend RV'ing if you're afraid of traffic and big vehicles. Which is why I am not an RV'er. I just happen to live in a home which can be moved from place to place. (Well it could be moved if its tires were all in one piece and not spontaneously combusting but that's another story.)

Malia is an RV'er. That woman takes her motor coach all over the damn place - from Alaska to Michigan which is where she is as of this writing. Malia has a passion for exploring new places. Like Michigan. I've not thought much about Michigan but Malia can spark an interest. She's the igniter. However, the likelihood of me ever towing my trailer to Michigan is not slim to none but just plain old none.

A wanderlusting friend who lives in Austin (who's started her own blog) sent an email suggesting I check out Pecan Grove RV Park which is where Malia stays when she's there. Yep, that looks like my kind of place - a trailer park full of eccentric people, a lot of them living in Airstreams. The best part is that the park is in the city, close to music venues and all the stuff a city has to offer. All the stuff I've been missing for six years.

The worst part is it's in the city.

Which means traffic. Traffic and a city I've never been to before are two things that scare me when it comes to driving a normal-sized automobile much less a one-ton van with my home attached to it. But if I really, really wanted to go to Austin, I'd make it happen. I'd take a deep breath, call on my road angels, and head out. From here to Austin I'd have to deal with two cities - El Paso and San Antonio. Okay, I've driven through El Paso before so I think I could do that. Can I skip San Antonio? There's a road from I-10 to Austin through Fredricksburg. I wonder what that road's like. I'd stay outside of Austin in Dripping Springs or some such place, leave the trailer and head to the city on a recon mission. I'd find Pecan Grove, map out my route, go back and get the trailer, leave Dripping Springs before the crack of dawn so as to miss rush hour traffic....

Whew. What a lot of work. The thing is, I've gotten lost on backroads while towing and it wasn't fun. I got lost in some California suburbs the day before Thanksgiving, pulling my trailer through Albertson parking lots and that wasn't fun either. I've had to slam on my brakes in freeway traffic and that was even less fun.

What was fun was towing my trailer on Hwy 82 from Nogales to Tombstone, a two-lane road with minimal traffic. A two-lane road through some of the most beautiful desert country I've ever seen. That was my image of my new life before I left Portland in November 2004. That image of a lonely desert road, sun bouncing off the shiny aluminum trailer (which is no longer shiny but that's another story too).

So in a way I became an accidental RV'er, someone not interested in visiting every state in the U.S. but someone looking for a place to rest - a place that could change every year or two or three when I became bored, when the newness wore off, when my adult ADD kicked in.

There are lots of other reasons why I don't consider myself an RV'er but those will have to wait for another time. Right now I have to rescue the rock guard (the big plexiglass thing that protects the trailer's front window from rocks) which is de-riveting itself from the trailer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sudden Death Syndrome

I like the way Mexicans ask how old you are. Margarita says, "Annette, how many years do you have?" I say mucho, more than Perla can count.

It's unusual for a person with these many years not to be on at least one prescription medication. The question is, am I healthy or merely undiagnosed?  Lately I've been convinced that I have at least one serious medical condition, maybe more.

That pain in my left big toe - gout.
Numbness and tingling in my right leg - diabetes.
Low back pain - kidneys.
Stabbing pain down my left arm - angina.
Neck pain - bone cancer.
Hip pain - bone cancer.
Dizziness upon standing or bending - high blood pressure.
Leg cramp - claudication.

Without medical insurance - and, therefore, without doctors' visits - who's to say? A couple years back a friend died suddenly (or he suddenly died - never sure which is correct). His yoga students went looking for him when he didn't show up for class and found him dead in his bed. It was a real shocker. Turns out he had a heart attack. Did he know he had high blood pressure? It'd been years since he'd been to see a doctor - a REAL doctor, not just our friend J. who ran across the border buying meds for everyone. "Can't get it up? Here, take these. Stressed? How 'bout these? Too fat? These ought to help." Self diagnosing, self medicating is common among the non-insured set.

I'd given up curmudgeon-dom for the last three days of Lent and it's kind of held on since then but today I woke up pissed that I don't have medical insurance. Even the director of CIMA hospital here in Hermosillo - an American, conservative, Mormon, retired military - can't understand all the anti-universal healthcare brouhaha.

I want medical insurance, damnit, and I want a public option. Because I tell you what, if I die tomorrow over something that could've been treated with a pill, I'm gonna be even more pissed off. And I have a feeling that a pissed off ghost is gonna be a helluva lot scarier than this 4'11" curmudgeon with a lot of years.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Mexico in August

Money goddesses willing, I want to drive around New Mexico in August.

I want to go to all the places I love - Silver City, Zuni Pueblo, Gallup (yes, I love Gallup), Taos - and visit the many, many towns I've never been to. I'm looking for a home post-Kino. Although I've got to say, this year in NM (I'm thinking Albq and Silver) winter held on tight and I've gotten a little cold-weather phobic. So I'm thinking I'll have to settle south. Las Cruces?

In order for this New Mexican adventure to materialize I need these things:

Money. Over the next two months, I need work to come in. Lots of transcription work. Maybe my mom'll do a novena (she's good at that).
It would be nice if gas prices would drop.
Tying in to the money thing is the need to get the van roof painted thing. A rusted van roof in a monsoon downpour would not be good.

Here's what I'm looking for in my new home:
A trailer park with cheap rates and a pool. It's gotta have wifi too.
No geezer RV park.
The park can be on the funky side but not too funky.
Good weather as in not freeze-ass cold winters.
A nearby saloon.

As you can see, my needs are few.

It's time to hop on the internets and do some research but if ya'll have suggestions, send them my way.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Movie Monday

Upon entering the mall we entered a state of rapture. It started with the restaurant at the mall entrance - Tabu, a sushi and martini bar. BAR!!!! Then the clothing stores, shoe stores, eye glass stores, jewelry stores - real mall stores with Sears as the anchor.

Tears welled as I took in my surroundings. It was as though I'd been incarcerated and just now released into the real world. On our way into town we'd been telling our new Kino friend, Lorraine, about the things we wanted/needed but couldn't get. Things like underwear, bras, toilet paper, ziploc bags, pizzas. She couldn't relate. She'd just come to town from Reno, Nevada. She hadn't yet been here for an eight-month or yearlong stretch without a trip to the U.S. She didn't understand our cravings for coffee or Wheat Thins. All this giddyness over a mall cracked her up.

Then we stumbled into the food court. "FOOD COURT!" I fell into Demo's arms. Every food stall was super clean, the aromas enticing. The Chinese food concession was run by a Chinese and not a Mexican like in the U.S.

At the Cinepolis we checked the movie times. Our criteria were two: VIP lounge, english. We settled on Hangover II which is called "Que Pasa Ayer."

Time for lunch.

Back in the car Demo expertly maneuvered through Hermosillo traffic and got us pointed in the right direction to our destination, the Italian restaurant Stromboli. One of the things I like about Demo is that she shares my seafood sentiment - we don't care if we never again eat another shrimp. Give us Italian! Give us Chinese! Thai! Hell, give us Mexican! Anything but seafood.

Stromboli is a lovely restaurant in the heart of town. The menu is extensive - everything from calzones to pastas to pizza. House wine served in a large glass is 26 pesos which is about $2.20. With that price, the food could've sucked and I wouldn't have cared but the food was excellent, from the bread with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the salad to the main course. I had fettuccini alfredo with chipotle and chicken. I'm looking forward to the leftovers even though they sat in the car for four hours in 110 degree temps. I'm sure they'll be okay.

Back at the Cinepolis Demo bought our tickets for the VIP lounge which cost around 60 pesos each, about twice the price of normal tickets but still way less than a movie in the U.S. (As of this writing the exchange rate is about 12 pesos to the dollar.) Inside was a bar. We were handed a menu which I didn't even glance at - someone said something about pizza - I was too barstruck to pay attention. I ordered Micheladas for me, Demo and Angie.

The theater had reclining leather seats, tables with lamps. There were buttons at each seat in case we needed to call our waiter. Can you believe it? I couldn't.

The movie itself wasn't important. I mean, really, "Hangover II"? (Which is ironic because the last time I was in a movie theater was two years ago in Portland having pizza and microbrewed beers at the Laurelhurst watching Hangover I with friends Marcia and Allen.) I did enjoy reading the Spanish subtitles. Never once did they use "fuck" but instead used the more genteel "shit" (mierda). "Chicos" is the word for "guys". I bet I could learn Spanish this way.

What was important was being there with friends, taking off on a Mexican adventure, taking advantage of what the big city has to offer.

We had to miss Margarita Monday for Movie Monday but it was worth it. We have other Mondays lined up like Mall Monday where we'll have lunch and shop before the movie. There's always Medical Monday where we can hit the physician office building at CIMA and get things like gyn exams and skin tag removals. I'm looking forward to Martini Monday (we may need to take the bus for that one.)

All in all, as Demo would say, it was the best day ever! Salud.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shipwreck Beach

We went to the beach. Yes, I live on the beach but the dynamics change when you actually pack up chairs, noodles, lunch and a six-pack of Tecate Light and drive to the beach, the beach that's an hour away and you're never sure you're going to get there - or out once you're there - because the road is gated. Used to be there was only one gate at the top of the road blocking entrance to a proposed housing development that never materialized. Something to do with lack of water. If that gate was closed and we were in a jeep or other four-wheel drive vehicle, we could drive over the berm on either side of the gate. Or we'd take the road before the gate and get to San Nicolas Beach that way. But now the whole area is being turned into a shrimp farm and there are five gates we have to pass through. There are signs warning that this is private property and trespassers will be fined. When the gates are open, we forge ahead. We can't help but worry they'll be closed for the return trip and we'll be stranded. I make sure my friend has her Mexican phone in case we need a boat ride off the beach.

The beach is different there on the other side of the bay. Although it has its share of plastic, beer cans and remnants of beach fires, the water seems cleaner, warmer, more of a sandy bottom with less seaweed clusters. The shipwreck adds an interesting focal point but now the wheel house is gone; the last time I was there we watched salvagers dismantle it.

The shells are different there. White puffy sea urchins and tiny tiny sand dollars, both so delicate they have to be kept segregated from the other shells. This used to be THE spot for jingle shells but they seem to have migrated over to my secret beach.

After our first sweep of the beach while the tide is out we have beers and burritos from the Sahuaripa stand in town - tortillas filled with refried beans, wrapped in bacon, fried. I'd eat anything wrapped in bacon, probably even tripe or cows' eyes. The air is warming, the water is warming, we grab our noodles and wade into the sea. A slight chill but not too bad, we're in up to our necks in no time. We slip off our bathing suit straps and let the girls get a little color. There's rarely anyone on this beach and only the occasional passing panga so I doubt anyone will see those gleaming white orbs (and, boy, do they need some color. yikes!).

We explore one more beach before leaving the housing development that never was. It's isolated, clean, a beach people would pay thousands to vacation on. We dub it Crab Beach - sand crabs scurry everywhere. There are so many it's as though the beach is moving. We stand motionless and wait for giant crabs to poke out their heads but they're too smart to venture out of their holes. They sense our presence and stay hunkered down.

Satiated with sun, shells, sand, we make the drive home, relieved the gates are open but confused as to why the road seems more washboarded on the return trip.

Back at our trailers we rinse off, change clothes, meet for happy hour cocktails then decide, hell, let's take our chairs and sit in the surf on "our" beach. Next thing we know we're once again exfoliated by the churned up sand. Rinse, change, repeat.

Later that night I sit on the sofa staring at the television. I'm exhausted and my body is toasty. I'm awash in feelings of being a 12-year-old after a day at the lake with the family. We've gotten sunburned crispy in the days before we knew we shouldn't be doing that.

It's funny how going to a different beach brings back childhood memories. A tiny change in scenery, a tiny change in perspective and I'm a kid again. Which I guess is another one of those lessons I keep learning and forgetting: change the course of your thinking and your life will follow. For a new lease on life, change your beach.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Single Bed

When you live in 160 square feet - give or take a foot - some things have got to go.

I slid my bed back into the single size. Now it looks as inviting as a nun's cot.

Which is fitting being as I haven't had sex in four years.

Which is sad because four years ago I was on such a roll - a sex roll - and I thought those good times were here to stay.

As the sexual drought moved in I comforted myself by thinking it was good I had no men to distract me from the tasks of writing a book and finding a job. Now that those tasks have been accomplished, the universe could throw a man or two my way. I'm ready. Actually that's not true. I could care less about racking up sexual partners - I've had opportunities for that over the last four years - old gringos and young mexicanos. I'm more interested in something long-term, something lasting or semi-lasting.

Some may say that returning my bed to a size barely big enough for one shuts the door on "calling in the one" but I beg to differ. My man monsoon happened spontaneously with the bed in its narrowed manifestation (during monsoon season, I might add) and so I'm willing to test that particular law of attraction theory.

After six years of the luxury of a double bed it took a couple nights to adjust to my new berth. I kept banging my elbows on the wall. I would wake whenever I needed to roll over because I was afraid I'd fall out. When I'd fling out my leg it'd dangle off the side of the bed. But now that I'm used to it, I don't mind the narrowness and I love the added space. I have room for a yoga mat to be laid out on the floor. I can get to the overhead cabinets without standing on the bed. It's nice. And if someone comes along who is worth opening the bed to the double size, that'll be nice too.