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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Feel Like Having Some Company ~ Come and Walk a Mile in My Moccasins with Me

If the reader needs some background, my last post sets the stage for most of what I'll write about here. Or just scroll down, rather than use the link.

All right, if you visit this blog often, if you're one of the wonderful souls who virtually loves me, may I ask you to join in a huge, loud "AW, Les!"? This windy, windy spring in Las Vegas has nearly made me lose my mind. It is oppressive. I'm also physically tired and emotionally jumbly and the work pace has picked up sufficiently to remind me that I used to go like hell at the desk and I'm out of practice. David's off on his cruise (setting sail as I type this) and I got some grief I've come to expect when he vacations. No matter how much preparation is made, how many discussions held, as David leaves town, at least one of the homes will try to pick me off in some way and I have to become The Skirt With a Badge. [Yep, the photo shows my own real badges!] None of them ever gives me any grief when David is in Las Vegas, even if not at the office, but . . . . I don't care for it much, but Saturday I was reminded how levelly and civilly I can behave while leaving no question what will and will not be tolerated. That was on Vacation Day 1: The Man is Not Even Out of Nevada.

I'd come up with a plan to restore and refresh myself by seeking out cactus flowers and horned toads at a spot in the Mojave Preserve I know intimately. It is a location where I have retreated when I've needed to expend some angst. It is a place where I have gone solo in order to perform necessary rituals that are not well-suited to conducting before an audience. They were, however, effective for me as I struggled for balance. It is a place that has been featured in the national news for the past week due to a Supreme Court decision favored by the conservative judges. I'll blog more about that in the future. It is a place that could be squeezed into a very narrow window of opportunity as other demands, other activities, other interests and the schedules of others compete for attention. Although it wasn't to be the preferred full-on weekend trip, it would be sufficient to fill a deep, deep need.

I'm no rookie at planning outings in the Mojave. I know how to monitor weather in even the remotest locations by watching weather conditions in several locations nearby. Which place has the approximate same altitude and where does the mountain range cut through? I know what to pack to eat, how much drinking water to carry, and how to dress for the conditions. I know whether the hikes will be rocky or sandy. I know what is likely to be seen based on the month, and even the time in the month. Different species of cactus bloom at different times, and in a predictable order. Lizards emerge from hibernation into the sun at the approximate time that I do the same. Sunday was to be the day. Claret cups, beavertails, chollas, hedgehogs and prickly pears virtually assured to be in some phase of flowering. Horned toads practically guaranteed in the loose sand at the mouths of the ant excavations, their favorite place to dine.

I'm not a good enough wordsmith to accurately describe my state of shock. For on Saturday night and Sunday, the wind became even stronger, even worse, in Las Vegas. I'm not sure which is more troubling to me, being slammed by it as I walk for 8 or 10 miles, or hearing the shriek that hasn't stopped for more than a day or so in weeks. Before setting out for my walk, I checked conditions at the desert destination. Cooler temperatures than Las Vegas, but not a "wind" icon to be seen. I walked in misery, then ran the laundry and dishwasher, attempted to restore my home to a decent condition after a busy week. Everything everyone else does on their time off, right.? When I took out the trash and walked to the mailbox, I noted the gale was worse. But I was hanging my hat on those weather spots with no wind icons. I was in the market when the e-mail came. "It's worse out there than it is here. What do you think?" What I thought was not printable! "I'll e- you from home. 10 minutes." We e-mailed. We talked on the phone. We pulled the plug. For I am the first to admit that if I stepped out in the Mojave and it was blowing worse than in Las Vegas, I'd burst into tears. "If you still want to go, I'm willing" was the gift offered to me. But, no. I knew I'd be unpleasant company. I knew no horned toad worth his scales would be out skittering around in the sand. No ants would labor at the door of the colony, at risk of becoming a horned toad meal. "How many horned toads did you see?" asked Doozyanner, in commentary. Um. None, Dooz. "Les, you in the desert yet?" chirped Matt on the BlackBerry. No.

OK, what am I going to do here? I can jump off the deck or crash my car into a wall. I can laugh or cry. I can become philosophical about it. Oh, right! I'm 57 years old and I haven't landed on "philosophical" yet - or at least not ever landed and stuck there. I could go shopping, and retail therapy is always effective for me, but that means I'd have to go out in the damned wind. What I did with the few "found" hours was a revelation to me. For I did something highly unusual. I turned on the Hallmark channel which was running some 24 hours of I Love Lucy. Lucy episodes make nice white noise for me. And then I relaxed in my own home. It was clean and tidy. I couldn't make work out of anything. I took some books down and remembered how much I love them. I played certain music on the Bose over the top of Lucy. Good music. I ran my hands across the fabric that screams my name, washed and ironed long ago but never made into the project I really and truly do want to execute. I didn't fool myself into thinking I was quite ready to do that project on this day. It was enough to just stroke the fabric. But the thought entered my head that perhaps I will do the project someday soon, as I am exhibiting some evidence of rejoining the living. Coming out of the darkness. I made a wonderful dinner to share. We played cards. I began a discussion about very difficult things and never shed a tear. I expressed myself fully and, though filled with emotion, I was unemotional. My reward was a caring and sincere real conversation, meaning both parties speak and both parties listen.

Monday, I stepped into my office. A full crew had run on Sunday and the work orders and collected payments were neatly stacked on my desk. At first glance, I thought I spied a pink calculator on top of the stack. I don't own a pink calculator, but whatever. There was coffee to brew, homes to greet, computers to light up, my food for the week to be tossed into the refrigerator. When I finally settled, the technician who gave me so much grief on Saturday said something quietly. "I brought you something, Les." I looked at him and he pointed to the calculator. I looked more closely and saw it was not what I had taken it to be. It was something else. Homey jumped up and snatched it, grabbed my BlackBerry, and grinning ear-to-ear, said, "I'm sorry I was such an ass. I brought you a pink BlackBerry skin . . . " He spent the next 5 minutes showing me the ins and outs of aligning the various buttons and how to maneuver the Direct Connect tab we use so frequently. It touched me. For he had also sent me a text message Saturday in the middle of his first job. Obviously, he was still churning about his behavior over the weekend. He has a well-developed conscience. It's one of the things I like about him.

The general public ate us up and spit us out all day long. The phones rang off the hook. I booked so many jobs I had to look back at some spreadsheets to see the last time I'd attained such a number. June 17, 2008. Cesar's steam cleaning machine went down three times at one job and I had to re-route the remainder of the day's work. On GPS, that re-routing thing always reminds me of billiard balls struck hard and rolling in every direction. I don't like re-routing. It distresses me. But I do it well. Three customers hung up on me when I was in mid-cry, something that bothers me far worse than having them call me "bitch". I had listened to screaming toddlers for a full 5 minutes before their mother slammed the receiver down on me. We had a little excitement due to the fact that our imprinted checks and bank cards still have not arrived after our bank account was looted and then closed. The e-mail he typed from somewhere in the Pacific off of Mexico landed in the late afternoon. I felt like I'd been pulled through the eye of a needle and I really didn't want to even look at one of the 7 e-mail accounts loaded into that BlackBerry. But I looked. That's what I do. David! "How is everything going?" I'm quick on the keyboard and I also know that while he would want to know how we were surviving, he is on vacation and wouldn't linger in his e-mail box. "XLNTLY!", I lied. To my surprise he popped back on. "Too few words from you. What's wrong?" "Absolutely nothing. Go take your cruise." I didn't hear from him again. He trusts that I've got his back. Vacation Day 3: Manic Monday.

And so go the days . . . what's been happening in your world? Tell me all about it . . . .

In my ears right now:

Something that charmed me: Driving home from Manic Monday, I spotted something pinkish. Las Vegas is dotted with enormous water retention basins - great holes in the ground to collect rainwater during the monsoon season, thereby preventing the floods we suffer due to runoff. In the area where I live, the basin perimeters are beautifully landscaped with native plants. And there, right on Desert Inn Road in the middle of commute traffic, was a profusion of prickly pears in bloom! I changed lanes tout suite and circled the block. Yes, best in the afternoon sinking sun, I think. I can get out, sit cross-legged on the sidewalk and get right in there. I spun the block again. Yes, I'll try them from a couple of different angles, looking east and then west. It hit me. There is no place to park anywhere near these cactus. Not remotely near, for one may not park anywhere on a major street in Las Vegas at any time. So this evening, I shall leave the office, taking the camera, park on the nearest side street, walk 1.2 miles to the cactus, fold my legs under me on the concrete, snap a few amateurish pictures, unfold myself from the sidewalk and walk 1.2 miles back to the car. Have I mentioned I have a tremendous need to see the cactus flowers?

Some photo credits: J. D. Morehouse


  1. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
    -- Reinhold Niebuhr
    Smiling is infectious; you can catch it like the flu. Someone smiled at me today, and I started smiling too. -Anonymous

  2. @ Tag ~ Oh, Friend, you've got my number! I should apply the Serenity Prayer to many facets of my life. I don't do serene all that well. I am proud to say, however, that I'm a star student at smiling. I seem driven to do both things: gnash my teeth and then grin like a donkey.

  3. @ Kirk ~ I thank you for feeling my pain, Friend!

  4. See Les, I was so overjoyed when dial-up seemed to be connecting with blogger properly and let me write a comment to you earlier. It seems that it's lost in the ether and the last step didn't go through
    What I wanted to say was that my retired self was even more embarrassed at my whiny post (which you assured me was my due, thank you) after reading your WORKER BEE post along with hellacious wind etc. I find out that the high desert paradise I was raving about is also experiencing 40 to 50 mph winds since we left.
    The sun is out now and 18 hours of light in this magical land!
    I'm mucking about in my studio spaces organizing and being overcome with our cluttered life, trying to make the space usable and calming to the eye.

    I am heretofore extending an Alaskan retreat invitation should you ever need a genuine getaway. Not desert or horny toads but Mountains and wildflowers with an occasional moose in the yard.
    We do have our share of wind here though!

  5. Badges! We don't need no stinkin' badges!

  6. @ Kim ~ you struck so many chords in that one comment, I don't know where to start playing my instrument back to you! I'll just follow your comment from the start, I guess. I happen to know that Blogger has been having problems today, so it may not have anything to do with your dial-up connection. I got an e-mail hours ago saying "I tried repeatedly to drop my comment in your blog today and it won't go."

    Working or retired, Kim, we can find ourselves stressed by some transitions. Some of us feel these things more deeply. Everyone is not the same, and we all think different things about others are admirable or unadmirable. But I am one (you see that I said this to Tag in comments above) who HAS to tell about the angst and ALMOST always ends the deal with laughter or understanding or at least acceptance. I just have to process everything both ways. Maybe to some I sound whiny. Maybe to others (when I laugh) I sound too cavalier. But that's how I have to deal with things.

    Ironically, I'm about to go to Arizona for a few days' stay and my hostess just recently e-mailed to say "We're suffering the same winds here." [She reads my blog and comments privately through e-mail.] By the way, visits to her home include the torture of dial-up that moves at the speed of the glaciers. Mostly I don't use the computer at her place. And this time I've got the BlackBerry.

    You ARE in the most glorious location and I'd love to see it some day. My Alaska experience has only been to fish for salmon at Yes Bay. It's a wonderful experience, but not all-inclusive of your wonderful state, of course. I love lots of other natural settings besides the desert. That just happens to be where I'm planted now, and I took to it immediately when I was properly introduced to it 7 years ago.

  7. @ Kim2 ~ I WONDERED who was going to quote the badges line and when. I would have thought it might have been Kirk, the movie aficionado. Good on you, Kim!

  8. Speaking of pink, I saw a pinkish colored rattle snake on the road while climbing the Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon yesterday afternoon. The wind has howling and I was hugging the shoulder and nearly rode over him. It would be fair to say we were both startled. And he really was a rosy pink, not beige or grey or even the kind of green the Mojave rattlers take on. Pink. Go figure.

  9. @ The Badger ~ Well, Badge, it is sure-as-shootin' good to have you ring in! I must say, however, pink rattlers make your credibility as a desert expert come into question. But then again, you also saw the green one with attitude and took his picture to prove your encounter. And we both saw the orange snake eating the white snake and had to study that awhile to determine what we were witnessing. So, OK, a pink rattlesnake if you say so!

    You know . . . if you see that snake's skin after he sheds it (do NOT hunt and kill a snake, please), perhaps I could cobble a coin purse or a case for my sunglasses to match my BlackBerry skin!

  10. It's been a long time since I've seen The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

  11. @ Kirk ~ But you get very high marks from me, Kirk, for knowing the movie title as soon as the quote was made!

  12. I walked the mile and the moccasins are worn out. I'm exhausted just reading this, but then I was already pretty tired. My son drove his family home because my ex's sister died. She was a beloved aunt to my children, but I didn't feel comfortable going to the funeral because there is one crazy sister who just can't get over the fact that I divorced Golden Boy and uses every opportunity to loudly proclaim my errors. Saturday was hard, thinking of all the family that used to be mine, then Sunday came and darling Amelia was blessed and most of the family, minus the crazy sister were at the open house afterwards and I got to hear the song my sons and their father sang at the funeral. It's especially exhausting to take my mom along on these outings. I have to see to her oxygen, help her around, etc. Monday was another awkward party for oldest granddaughter, Kathryn. The ex is so phony and posey. Then today the home called and said Mom had fallen out of bed. Hours sitting with her, seeing that everything was O.K., then another Birthday Party for visiting family's youngest. Even happy events are mixed and exhausting. Winds of all kinds blow through us, don't they Les?

  13. Argh, don't you just hate it when you can't get away - especially when you NEED to get outta Dodge or in your cast Vegas.

    Hope you make it to the desert soon and that the cactus flowers will be there waiting for you.

    Run.run.run on that hamster wheel of life - it's what we all do.

    I heard a bit of sage advice on the radio that went something like this...make a list of everything you do, once you are finished the list reduce that list by 50% and that's what you do...from that point forward.

    Easier said than done, I assure you. Hugs - Julie

  14. @ Kass ~ Cookie, I was wondering where you'd gone off to, and now I know! Talk about exhausting. I'd rather clean carpets (meaning literally, the physical burden of it) than walk through the emotional minefield. You hit on a theme I often visit: "all the family that used to be mine". Ugh. In case anyone had or hadn't noticed (ahem) I haven't written about some of the deeper emotional stuff for some time. I'm currently taste-testing some of it to learn whether it is suitable for serving. Mostly (so far) it's just pretty bittersweet.

    I'll be thinking of both you and Mom. Sending a bouquet your way. You know the kind. Awe-flowers of the heart.

    And, Girlie, I think you hit it. It's all a mixed bag of stuff. Gentle zephyrs and shrieking gales passing right through our beings. We don't control it and it doesn't take requests. We just deal with it the best way we can.

  15. @ Julie ~ Welcome aboard my pink bus, Julie. I'm glad you stopped by! Now, to be straight, I know that I can control some of the chaos that seems to rule right now (not the weather, certainly, but my own fast-paced, overfilled days). Since I don't move to take that control, I have to wonder why I insist on creating the chaos. What are the things I'm attempting to veil or hide? I like the advice you heard on the radio. I'm processing that information as "reduce, organize, simplify, let go, go on." I hope you'll visit again, and I'm going to pop over to look at you on your blog now.

  16. I'm a tad exhausted after reading this, Les. all that hot wind.

    It's not surprising you need the occasional break from blogging. You work too hard, harder even than me. And like me perhaps you'd like to have the opportunity to live two lives, to fit it all in.

    I suppose the time has come to utter the words my husband and I exchange at regular intervals: 'We must soldier on'.

  17. @ Elisabeth ~ I know you didn't mean it this way, but when I first read "hot wind", I immediately thought, "Oh, yes, I've been accused of expending a lot of that quite often." Sorry. Now, I know you actually meant screaming desert winds. It is exhausting.

    I do work hard, Elisabeth, but that's not only about my actual work for which I am paid money. I put a tremendous amount of energy into anything I take on. Mostly that's a good thing. Sometimes not. I have to confess that I wonder what it would be like to approach things from a "that's good enough" stance. I haven't been able to do that so far in life. I only know one speed: "Take this on and do it as well as anyone could possibly do it. Now try to do it better." I haven't yet learned "relax, slow down, stop". But I'm not complete yet. I like to learn new things. I like new challenges.

    I'm a grand soldier! Learned across 57 years of "have to". I may have trepidation about taking something on or about continuing on, but I just do it. Nike should hire me as their poster child: "Just Do It".