Zip Line Dream, 11/25/15

I was on a weekend outing walking around with some visiting friends and relatives. We were in a hilly neighborhood with lots of trees on the fringe of a large city, possibly Los Angeles. We encountered an acquaintance of mine who was carrying some kind of climbing gear and he said that he was in transit to a place several miles away to do some kind of recreational activity. He quickly explained that there was a huge network of zip lines which people had strung from tree to tree throughout the area in the suburban greenbelts and that one could cover a lot of ground fairly quickly by stringing together a series of climbs and zips, sometimes with short walks between. The lines were arranged so that coming back along the same route was easily accomplished. Not quick enough to use for commuting but a fun way to get around. People would routinely travel the network to explore and get some exercise, perhaps converge on a point to have lunch with friends and so forth. It was all managed cooperatively and voluntarily. Then he was scaling a nearby tree, hooking in to a line, a zipping off.

We followed the trail down into a park-like vale and enjoyed the views and got separated a bit. I realized that my companions had headed up out of the bowl by another trail and I hurried to catch up to them, scrambling up a steep hillside, pulling myself forward/up using sturdy brush where available. Focusing on handholds and foot placement I found myself a hundred feet or so up a tree. There were a number of others nearby including a guy who was assisting people hooking in to the zip line strung from the tree. I said "Oops" and contemplated climbing back down; no big deal but I'd be climbing down through a stream of people climbing up. The guide said "Don't worry, man." And yelled down that he needed 'carriers' for a couple of 'climbers'. I then noticed another guy who was nearby who also lacked any of the requisite gear. Shortly a very fit young lady in her late 20's was there and they were handing me a harness, clipping it to her rig, getting us ready to zip down the line. I mentioned that if I had my rock climbing harness I could just rappel down but they were non-plussed. She was pretty quiet, whether shy or taciturn or introverted or just bored rescuing another middle-aged dude was a mystery; seemed to have a German accent.

We had a quick a zip down the line, not especially thrilling, and I saw that we were at a major node of the network with many people zipping in and climbing different trees to zip off in various directions. There was even a decent sized shack that was a station of sorts with a separate lounge for the guides. My brother was there, having somehow gotten word that I'd be arriving by zip line. I thanked the girl and asked what people typically paid for the assistance she'd provided and she mumbled "Twenty to sixty dollars." She didn't really seem to care about being compensated. I looked in my wallet and found, to my surprise, that I only had Euros. I offered her a fifty and she made a face so I said I knew I had some dollars stashed in my pack and started rummaging around.

I found some folded twenties but when I looked up from my pack she was gone. Apparently she'd gone into the guides' lounge. I put a couple of twenties into an empty Altoids tin along with a business card from the hang gliding school at home. She was very attractive but my main motivation was to give something back to a similar spirit. My brother had meanwhile done a nice sketch on a small scrap of paper of the station, trees, people, and zip lines. I wrote a note on the drawing thanking the girl and saying she should try a tandem flight some time. Writing the note was difficult - my pen kept skipping and there wasn't much clear space to write in. Peeked in the door of the lounge and there was no sign of her. Didn't want to leave cash just laying around. Mike said he knew people who knew her and we ought to get going to rejoin the others. I left some tandem hang gliding brochures on the table in the station.

Back at the parking lot we ran into her again and I handed her the drawing and the Altoids tin saying "That's not mints."

So far I've gotten a lot done, it wasn't anything I planned on doing, but I'm making progress. When the appliance repair man came over to inspect why my dead refrigerator wasn't working he told me that I had the wrong outlet behind it. When I talked to my ex about switching it out he said he would come over to swap it out. For some reason the fridge is using more amps than it should which is why the circuit keeps tripping. My ex feels that exchanging the outlet won't really solve the problem because then the breaker will blow. When my fridge first started going I read up on going without refrigeration. People have done it for thousands of years, refrigerators are costly to run, and as one blogger suggested, most people's are a collection of condiments and compost. I threw away soft foods that had been in the freezer, cleaned quite a few things out of my fridge, and said a quick prayer that I'm not one to jam either my fridge or freezer full.

Yesterday my neighbor came and picked me up, I was still in my pajamas when she rang my doorbell. I need to get out more, she wants to do more reading, I think we're a good balance for each other. She mentioned that fifty percent of the conversations we had were about my ex. She explained that she could tell I was hurt beneath the anger, that's true, but I still have some legitimate anger because people should be upset when there is injustice in the world. I took my broom and dustpan back down to the basement. I swept down the walls starting near the well. Years ago there was an illegal bedroom downstairs. There's insulation that needs to be removed, I'd like to pull the studs down, and I'm going to buy one of those big pink plastic sheets of insulation and use it to cover the crawl space we have beneath our sunporch. I was doing more reading in my book, the author recommends dirt crawl spaces be covered with gravel and a plastic barrier installed. I doubt my ex will agree to do this, but I can check into how much that would cost.

Somewhere I read that you should leave refrigerator doors open if the fridge is not in use. I did that and my entire house stinks like refrigerant and plastic. I turned the heat way down, opened the front door, the garage door and the patio door to get some cross ventilation, but it's not warm enough outside to do that for long. Since I was in a cleaning mode I pulled up the rugs in the living room and TV room. I dusted the couch, pulled the cushions off of the loveseat and put those out on the sun porch to air out. I pulled the throw pillows off the couch and loveseat and took those outside to pound them against a bench I have on my patio. If you have any misgivings about the cleanliness of your pillows take them outside and watch the clouds of dust emanate from them when you thwack them against a hard surface. I have to make some decisions about the throw pillows, maybe a rotation system would be best unless I ditch them entirely. 

One positive side effect of these changes is I'm reviewing what is really important and meaningful to me. I had asked the girls to sweep and wash the floors in their rooms before they left. They didn't so I swept in there for them. I cleaned off the top of my oldest daughter's dresser, scooped papers off of my youngest daughter's floor and wondered when I had learned to let my kids treat me that disrespectfully. I'm not going to yell at them. They're going to come home to bedrooms that are clean and tidy, hopefully none of their prized possessions were among the clutter and trash I threw away. I'm piling up things that I want out of the house near the garage door. My neighbor wants me to have a rummage sale. I'm not sure I can handle storing these things for that long. Once I get an idea into my head I want to act on it. The things in our house are not bringing me joy. I'm having to clean, store, and deal with dust collectors, if others can't take care of their stuff it must not be things they really need. 

Another thing I'm going to do is get rid of the desk I put in my closet. I'm going to experiment with putting my bed in there. By the time I'm done my room should have my bed, my aromatherapy diffuser, a basket, a small bamboo stool that I can put books on, a chair I had in the living room that I had to move to make room for the Christmas tree, and my plants. The duct work in this house has never been cleaned, this place was built in 1962. I'm imagining there's quite a pile of dust, debris, toys that fell down the heating vents, and I'm not sure what else making a dense nutrient pile for dust mites and other creepy crawlies that feed on things like the skin cells that people shed. I washed the coats and jackets that were in the front hall closet. I took my coat in to be cleaned. Last night my ex said he would stop by to replace that outlet or at least take a look at it. Normally I'm good about grabbing my phone. I use it a lot less now that baseball season is over and I have a real life again. 

This past Sunday my youngest daughter was singing in church. Normally we attend the later service, but that morning we were there extra early for 8:00 church. I sat in the front row of the balcony. I used to sit up there because I would get dizzy and not feel well. It became a habit. Now I rarely sit anywhere else except for the balcony. I used to believe that I was a firm extrovert. Over the years I've realized that I wanted to get out of the house I was living at because the outside world seemed friendlier than the one at home. After thinking about it for a while I decided that getting an apartment or place of my own was going to be a goal, but I really don't want my kids exposed to the crappy air at this place so I'm working as hard as I can to make sure that the factors that I can control are very controlled. I'm finding that we've put things in places rather than having a place to store the things we want to keep. I used to cook huge meals that my family ate infrequently or not at all. Not having a fridge makes me aware of how much food I let go to waste and how I over prepared and under served food. 

Eventually I'm going to work on getting more variety into my diet. I've been eating a lot of tuna, sardines, and sweet potatoes. I love Asian sweet potatoes even if the insides aren't that pretty once they're cooked. It's a food that stores well, it's a safe starch, and I'm not allergic to it, hooray for that. Sunday morning a woman I've known since we joined the church tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I was going to be going to knitting club which meets every second and fourth Tuesday. My initial response was tepid, but when I gave it some thought I decided that it was in line with what I was trying to do more of, namely get out of the house, meet new people, and live a more sustainable life. I could drop my coat off at the cleaners which is next door to the bookstore where knitting club meets, and if I was feely truly extravagant I could buy myself a tea at the shop that adjoins the bookstore. I should have bought water because I was very thirsty. The coffee shop closed before I wanted a tea, but hey, that's two bucks I saved.

Most of my life has been spent loathing things like sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. I never liked doing crafts at school and hated most art classes, especially as I got older and they seemed to require more and more skills that I just don't have in the quantity others do. I was dubious that this woman that I didn't always think very kind thoughts about could actually teach me to knit, but I went and figured if nothing else I was out of the house and could talk to the two sisters who were there with their spinning wheels. There is something very relaxing about watching people spin loose wool into yarn. I was probably aggressive and hostile when I first sat down. My defenses were up for no good reason other than I felt out of stupid and out of place there. An older blonde woman joined us. The woman who had invited me wasn't anywhere to be found so I felt even dumber, they were very kind, but I was sitting there watching them being industrious and that added to my discomfort.

To make conversation I asked how they had gotten into knitting. They were all wearing things that they had made. Scarves, a beaded shawl, the blonde had an interesting short sleeved sweater, throughout the night people asked if she was cold, but she maintained that she wasn't. When the woman who had invited me finally came I was so grateful I could have burst into tears of gratitude. Members of the group including her daughter chided her for giving me metal needles which are slippery according to others with experience. I didn't know any differently, but I found out what they meant a couple of times when I had stitches fall off the needle although that was probably due to inexperience as much as anything else. I had a pair of ocean blue needles and buttery yellow yarn that was left over from a baby blanket. My friend knitted the first row and then had me try it. Others have tried to teach me how to knit in the past, my mom has explained it and showed me several times. Whether I had a better teacher, a better attitude, or I was just ready to learn I found myself making some awkward attempts that could have been worse. 

For anyone who hasn't tried it, learning to knit is mentally taxing work. Several women said it was therapeutic, I couldn't see that, but they explained that it took your mind off of other things, and that part was certainly true. For the time I was there I had to focus on my fumbling fingers, the yarn that seemed to have a mind of its own, and the slick of the needles. I had a line of sixteen stitches, by the end of the night I had added several rows and even found myself getting into a rhythm that was inevitably interrupted by mistakes or other problems. I had to take a couple breaks just to clear my mind. That helped and I was able to pick things up and continue. I didn't get very much accomplished, but I left with a tiny rectangle feeling quite pleased with my efforts and tenacity since I had visions of hurling the fluffy snarled mass into the picture window and being done with knitting for the rest of my life. 

I really don't want to go to Thanksgiving at my mom's, but I'm going to since I feel like this is a thing I can do to help the relationship. I want to see my other relatives who will be there, and maybe I can take some turkey home so I don't have to buy groceries as soon as I would otherwise. I have a bag that I was going to get rid of that I can use for my knitting supplies. There were two men in our club who arrived later that said bamboo needles were fairly inexpensive, my friend said that you could find them at the thrift stores, but you have to make sure that both needles are the same size. My neighbor used to knit and now I'm kicking myself for not snagging her needles and yarn after she passed and it was sitting out for the taking, but I didn't know then when I know now so onward and forward. My plan is to take the girls when I have them, it might even be something my ex would be willing to drop them off at since the bookstore is a short walk from the condo. This is much longer than I thought it was going to be, ever since that editor told me he needed 2000 words I've found myself hitting that target more consistently. I'm not sure if it's good, bad, or just is, but whatever. I had a lot to say and I feel better for having written it down.

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