Winter 2016-17

The winter of 2016 to 2017 was the worst winter that I recall while living in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After five years of drought, California was pelted with rain again and again, thanks to the Pineapple Express. Although Santa Cruz County as a whole received a total of 37 inches of rain, Boulder Creek had over 80 inches of rain for the winter totals. That’s over six feet! There were landslides, trees down and tangled with power lines, sink holes, and of course, flooding. I, along with the rest of my neighbors were pretty much stranded in our neck of the woods. We couldn’t get to either the towns of Boulder Creek or Los Gatos as both directions on the main artery were impassable. It was nightmarish.

Bear Creek Road, January 2017

To get to Bear Creek Road (BCR) which is the main artery to the nearby towns of Boulder Creek and Los Gatos, we could go one of two ways. But these storms knocked off half of the road for going the “back way,” which left us with only one route. There are three roads connecting to BCR going the “front way,” and none of these roads are paved. (The back way isn’t paved either.) On a dry sunny day, it takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to drive eight miles, going at about 15mph. Now, add some rain – it’ll take about five to ten extra minutes to drive those eight miles. Add LOTS OF RAIN, and turn those roads to complete mud… where when even in 4WD, you’re slipping and sliding – oh my gosh – SCARY!

Bear Creek Road heading towards Boulder Creek

I’ve been driving for a long time. I’ve driven through snow, blizzards, hail, dirt, mud, and have done my fair share of hydroplaning – nothing has measured up to driving up and down those muddy roads over and over again throughout that winter! And then when we were cut off from both towns for a couple of weeks… when I was having a true emergency. Talk about feeling absolutely helpless. It was horrendous.

Abygayle AKA: Aby

Aby at the veterinary hospital

Aby is my barn cat failure. She lived in the upstairs portion of my house with my other cat, Madeline. But when Maddie died unexpectedly, Aby was all alone. I got her a kitten as company, but she hated her little brother and hid from him. It was about five days or so before I had found her in a hidden compartment inside a drawer!

Oh my gosh, she was just sitting there. She was dehydrated, she was icteric – her skin was jaundiced. I have no idea how long she had not eaten as all of my cats are free fed. All I know is that she definitely hadn’t had any water or food for at least five days! This was an emergency – I needed to get her to the veterinary hospital STAT, but the roads were closed.

Luckily, I am a veterinary technician and have over 25 years experience working in emergency triage/ICU. I also have a stockpile of veterinary meds, fluids that were not unwrapped, fluid lines, and the like. I called and spoke with Callalily who’s also the veterinarian to my pets. I let her know what types of meds I had on hand, and she gave me the dosages. I started Aby on subcutaneous fluids and a mishmash of medications, but I knew that she needed to be seen as soon as the roads opened up.

On January 9, 2017, I was finally able to traverse the roads to the veterinary hospital… but it was later in the day, and it was still raining. Normally I’d just take Bear Creek Road to 17, but that was no longer an option. I had to take BCR to the cutoff of 35 to Gist to Black and then to 17. These roads are very curvy and because of the recent storms, many were down to one lane. Driving them was arduous. What would normally take me about 45 minutes to drive to the hospital took about three hours, but we finally made it. Aby was seen.


The road connecting to BCR

My truck, “Turtle” approaching the scary part of the road
Had to hug the mountain and drive very slowly in 4WD low; the orange cones are sheer cliff
Backside of orange cones
Looking back from driving scary part of muddy road

Black Road

Shortly after I drove Aby to the hospital, this road was closed down
You can see this in the image above further in the distance

Bear Creek Road

I drove under this on BCR the night I took Aby to the hospital.
BCR heading towards Los Gatos
Bear Creek Road 2017

Highway 17

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

It’s difficult to see in the bottom image the very small amount of sand so I tried to get another picture from the web to show the comparison.
This is a better image to show how very little beach there is – none! The boardwalk was actually flooded. The parking lot which isn’t shown was also flooded.
Somewhere in the Santa Cruz Mountains 2017

Vivid Varenicline Dreams

For so long now, I’ve been waking up multiple times a night due to pain in my right shoulder and left ankle. If I happen to awake and the sun is finally up, then I give up on sleep and start my day.

Three nights ago – that changed.

Last night’s sunset – photo by Beth Malbon

Vivid dreams. Ever since starting Chantix (varenicline), I’ve been sleeping deeper, and now I dream.

Three dreams, I remember. No, they don’t make sense.

First Dream

I’m in a parking lot with two of my friends. One I haven’t seen in a long time – Francine, and the other is Callalily – she comes up in a lot of my blogs. This parking lot is near stores, a pet store, and other large brand name stores.

Francine is in my truck bed (a blue Toyota – a truck I’ve always wanted,) and she’s scooping out cat food from a bowl inside a litter pan full of litter.

Meanwhile, Callalily and I are going around the parking lot collecting crates and carriers that belong to all three of us. There are several different kinds and some are contraptions that need to be flattened down. I keep looking back at the pet store, calling for Jason, possibly a dog, but I’m not sure. I’m unclear in my dream if that’s his name.

Then there’s a strange looking wire crate that has an inner door inside a larger door. The inner door has a metal doorknob. I’ve never seen anything like it before. None of us have. We’re scratching our heads, trying to figure out where it came from and how to open it.

Poof – Francine and Callalily disappear.

A man appears where my friends disappeared. His name is Chris. He’s wearing a green, white, and yellow plaid shortsleeved button down shirt with sage green board shorts. He says he’ll open the cage. He says the trick is to walk into the little door, grab hold of the knob and keep walking, the crate will open up bigger.

And then it did – there was a staircase. I told him that I would walk up the staircase and grab a hold of the poles so we could get the crate flattened. The staircase was seriously rickety. It was scary. I had to grab ahold of the poles and swing down from them. Me, in my present state. Ha! But by grabbing hold of the poles, the crate flattened.

Second Dream

Suddenly we were on a beach. I was walking with him and his two children. We were headed to a castle. His daughter was in a black one piece bathing suit with a flowing skirt attached. I was skipping with her, following him and his son.

I saw a beautiful butterfly. It was huge – bigger than my hand! It was peach and yellow and was hovering over the sand. I reached into my pocket for my iphone to take a picture, but my camera phone was back at my truck. I looked back to see if I could run to fetch it. But when I looked for the little girl, she was a dot. When I tried to catch up to her – I lost her, her dad, and brother. There was a huge lake of sea water in the middle of the beach. I didn’t have directions to the castle. I didn’t know what to do.

I started walking around the lake, closer inland and came upon a house. Maybe they would know where the castle was?

Third Dream

Upon entering the house, it was very dark. The walls were made of dark blue cloth. There were people in there – lots of gals and a few men. The men were dressed in dark clothing with hoods, almost like armor. It was cold. The people seemed to ignore me, which was fine by me. The gals were dressed in pink and blue leotards with matching face masks. They were all around a huge room and they were in odd positions. They weren’t talking to each other.

I wandered around looking for the door I entered in, but couldn’t find it. I found several doors. I saw one that looked like an exit door – it was made of wood, whereas the other doors were painted. These were actually double doors. They were super thin. I opened the left one, then the right one, then had to turn the knob on the left one, then the right one, then had to pry the left door open, then pry the right one open, there were several more doors to these doors. I didn’t think this was the way out. So, I wandered around looking for another set of doors.

I found another set, but there was a guard near them. I told him I needed to leave. He said fine, but I needed to open the doors myself. If I get to the red door, I cannot rip it. If I do, I cannot leave. OMG 😱!

I thought these were going to be trick doors. I opened the first one, by sliding the latch open. The next door was simply a twist of the knob, the third door was another latch that went through both doors. Then there was a grate looking door with another sideways latch. The fifth set of doors had the latch on top. The sixth set of doors were blue and were velcro. The seventh set of doors were red. These were attached on the bottom only – I had to go through the doors without ripping the bottom part of the door.

I made it through the doors just to land up in a big pile of powdered snow. I was wearing tennis shoes. My first thought was great, I went through all of that and now my feet are going to freeze.

And then I woke up.

I survived this week

This week was difficult. I wasn’t sure I was going to get out of the funk I was in. Living with bipolar disorder isn’t easy. Although I’ve been living with it my whole life, you would think I’d be used to it by now – the ups and downs. I’m on medications for it – three of them. One is an antipsychotic to decrease mania, one is an antidepressant to decrease depression, and one is a mood stabilizer to stabilize my mood to not go into the ups and downs. But there are things that can disturb this very delicate cycle, and one is sleep.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is so important to a person with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, I’ve not been getting enough sleep for months now. I’ve told my doctors this. I’ve told them why I wake up multiple times a night – it’s because my arm and ankle hurt and the pain wakes me up. I average maybe four hours of sleep per night, but again that’s with multiple wake ups. They have done nothing for my pain. I haven’t wanted to switch my primary care physician because my mental health team is hooked with this health department, and they’re really great. But…

Exam Gone Wrong

… after last Friday’s appointment, I had had it. This health department wants their clients to arrive fifteen minutes ahead of their appointment time to be screened and have vitals taken, so that the doctor can see you at your appointed time. Makes sense to me. I needed to get bloodwork done and was fasting and drinking water so the phlebotomist would be able to find my vein easily. I was shocked to find out that we wouldn’t be examined inside, but rather outside in 10×10 tents. (The doctor wanted to do a pap smear on me too.) There was no way I was going to have a gynecology exam done on me in a tent with the “door” flapping open in the breeze. Talk about absolutely no privacy!

I waited for over an hour – 1 1/2 hours to be precise. Nobody came. I couldn’t find anybody either. It was now 11:15. I was hungry, and I had to use the little girl’s room. I was already told that we couldn’t use their restrooms. I walked around to the front of the building and spoke with the receptionist. I was livid. I was hungry, and my bladder was about to pop. The receptionist was aghast that I hadn’t been seen yet. She wanted me to wait so she could call someone. But I told her that I couldn’t wait any longer, and I told her why. She understood. I wasn’t angry with her.

This is when I knew that I needed to switch primaries. I would have to get a new mental health team. But if I don’t get answers for what’s going on with my arm and ankle, if I don’t start sleeping, everything is just going to get worse. I don’t have patience any more. I’m tired. I ache.

Sunday, August 2, 2020 – Bullied

Someone close to me thought it would be funny to offer me a dirty comforter at the end of the street. We had already had this same exact conversation last week when the person had asked me if I was warm enough sleeping in my truck. I assured them I was. But they insisted that they knew where I could pick up a really nice comforter. When I told the person I already had two comforters and a blanket; they told me that there was a really nice comforter at the end of the street… granted it was filthy. I guess this person thinks it’s funny that I’m living in my truck? So, again when they brought the dirty comforter up in the conversation, I became a bit ticked off. I told them that it sounded like they really wanted the comforter and if they didn’t stop bringing it up, I would go get it and put it in their room as I was sick of hearing about this darn thing. Then they told me I was rude, and that they were going to put it in my truck.

This same person likes to kill flies and then likes to offer them to me to eat. As if I would ever eat a fly! It doesn’t matter how many times I tell this person to stop, they just continue to badger me. Now, I’m sure you’re probably wondering why I even bother with this person. Well, the person isn’t always like this. But because this person cannot respect my boundaries and stop when I tell them to stop, I’ve decided that I shall not seek them out to talk with them.


If you’ve never been depressed – you’re lucky. Being depressed is not just being sad, it affects so much more. It’s difficult to do anything. It’s affects daily tasks like grooming, eating, interests, paying bills, life. Crying constantly and then thoughts of suicide creep in when you least expect them. You wonder why you were ever born. Every negative thing just increases 100 fold. You wonder why or how it started. You wonder when it’ll stop. Will it just go on and on? You cry for no reason. You’ll be trying to think happy thoughts and then the tears come, streaking down your face. You try to do something else, anything, but the depression zaps your energy. You feel like a zombie. You don’t want to do anything. And your appetite is literally zilch. You avoid your family and friends. The things you found interest in once are now gone.

During my depressed state, I did feed my dogs and cats. I walked my dogs. My pets are my lifeline. Without them, I know I wouldn’t still be alive today. I know I would have ended my life years ago. They are who I live for. Without me, who would take in my cats? Where would Halo go? I know Roscoe would find a home right away. But Halo has major separation anxiety away from me. I know she would eventually adjust at the right home, but I’d hate for her to suffer in the wrong home. Blur would probably be euthanized, and I’m not sure what would happen to Aby. So, I continue to live for them.

Thursday August 6th – Halo 😇

My sweet Pomeranian, Halo, has not been feeling well for the last week. She has been pacing, wasn’t eating dry, but did start to eat canned food. There was a terrible smell in my truck and I couldn’t quite place it. I started searching for the odor. When I was at the dog park with my dogs, I smelled that awful odor again. I tried to open Halo’s mouth and she screamed. She has severe periodontal disease, but her veterinarian told me that he didn’t want her under anesthesia unless it was a life threatening emergency. Well, I guess that time has come. I made her an appointment, and it was for 11:20 this day.

Something Beautiful Happened

I always drive to my local 7-eleven for coffee in the morning. I drove there the morning of Halo’s appointment too. There was an older Hispanic lady sitting on her walker outside 7-eleven. She kept putting her fingers to her masked mouth. I walked into 7-eleven, got my coffee, and then while getting back into my truck, I saw the woman repeat the gesture. Oh my gosh, she’s hungry. I looked into my truck. I hadn’t gone to the store the night before because I was too depressed. I didn’t have any food to offer her. I opened up my coin purse. I had a $5 bill, and a $10 bill. I don’t have a lot of money to be handing out to people, as I am homeless too. But I couldn’t turn away from her either. I grabbed my $10 bill and walked over to her and handed it to her. She looked me in the eye, and said,

God bless you, sweetheart.

Right then and there, I knew. I knew why I was where I am. I’m doing God’s work. It’s not about me. It’s about God. Thy will be done. I made the sign of the cross and thanked God. I thanked Him for not forgetting about me.

Halo’s Appointment

So Halo saw the doctor. He couldn’t really get a good look in her mouth either. But he agreed that bloodwork should be done. I asked for a full comprehensive panel (chemistries + CBC + differential.) The doctor sent her home on antibiotics.

Halo is on the mend. She’ll still need a dental, but her mouth is healing. She has a bounce in her step. 🙂

A Good Citizen

Later on Thursday, my friend and I were hanging out at the dog park. We do this every day, she and I. We actually met at the park a year ago. She has a Maltese and I have an Italian Greyhound mix. Our dogs are friends too. We hang out, just outside the dog park fence – we are regulars. We know everyone and everyone knows us.

This lady with her dog came into the park. We’ve never seen her before. My friend was sad, and we were talking. As we are a “pod,” we don’t wear masks around each other. This lady approached us and said,

You need to wear a mask. It’s the law. If you get caught, it’s a $100 fine. I’m just being a good citizen. God bless.

We were both taken aback. First, we were discussing things that have nothing to do with this lady. My friend is emotionally distressed. Second, we were in an open public space and it was just us and this lady; the lady clearly doesn’t know the mask mandate law. My friend looked at me and then asked me if I knew that carrying a gun out in the open was illegal. I laughed and said, “What? I had no idea!” The lady walked back into our space and told us that if we had something to say to her, we should say it to her face. Excuse me? Now this lady is just being nasty. My friend said that she wasn’t talking to the lady, but in fact was talking to me. She told the lady that she should just walk her dog.

The lady mumbled some stuff and then eventually walked into the big dog side. She said something to someone else, and they put their mask on for her. My friend and I talked for a little while longer and then forgot about the lady and began to eat our lunches. Then the lady came back.

We were still eating our lunches when the lady mumbled something. I caught the word, neglected, but wasn’t sure what it was in reference to. Then the lady said something about animal shelter. Huh? What was the lady talking about? I was still eating my salad, watching the lady and my dog. The lady then said something very loudly,

I think these poor neglected dogs have been abandoned. I’m calling the animal shelter. Unless… do they belong to you?

Oh my gawd! She didn’t! I got out of my truck. I looked at her. I think I actually glared at her. My friend started videotaping the lady right then and there. I told the lady that the brown dog was mine, and the white dog was my friend’s.

The lady asked my friend if she was videotaping her. My friend said no, that she was actually doing an interview. But the lady knew. The lady became angry. Telling us again that she was being a good citizen.

Covid Craziness

In this craziness of sheltering in place, wearing masks, social distancing, along with the protests and rioting going on, presidential election coming up… now more than ever, we as the human race have to have more compassion, more empathy. We need to not tell people, especially strangers that they need to wear a mask. That they need to keep six feet apart. That they need to not go out unless it’s essential. We’ve been doing this since mid-March. It gets old.

Hugs 🤗

As humans, we are a social bunch. We need hugs on occasion and if we’re not getting it from our family, we need to get a hug every once in awhile from our closest friends. It’s that emotional bond that keeps us sane.

In five months less this last week, I’ve received three hugs. In this last week, I received four hugs. Four hugs from the same person – those hugs are something to live for. Those hugs are a connection. I used to be able to hug my Dad every time I saw him, but once Covid started – no more hugs. 😭

A hug is so powerful. It’s comforting. It’s someone telling you they got you, they’re not going to let go. It’s a life preserver. And I’m so glad I know that I have a hug coming to me every day now. 🥰

Miss Blur

Introducing Blur

Blur is most likely a Japanese Bobtail, a domestic shorthair cat breed, but she is definitely not a purebred. The typical colors for a Japanese Bobtail are white with orange or tri, but they can also come in white with black too. They are very docile with loving purrsonalities. They are also quite petite. The most Blur has ever weighed is about eight pounds. Now, she weighs significantly less.

I got Blur from my friend, Callalily. I was actually watching her pets for her and later had commented on her new kitten. She had told me that she was actually fostering it for one of the cat rescue ladies as her house was overflowing with kittens. Callalily asked me if I wanted the kitten, and I said, “yes.”


Callalily and her Jewish boyfriend were thinking of calling the kitten yarmulke (pronounced: yamaka) because of the black cap of fur on her head. But I ended up naming Blur, “Blur” because every time I went to take a picture of her with my Canon power shot camera, I would literally end up with a black and white blur as an image instead of a cute little kitten. A lot of people misspell her name as Blurr, and I’m unsure as to why. Her name does not have two Rs. She is not blurry. She’s just Blur.

Sweetheart, even with Mice 🐭

Blur is probably the sweetest cat I’ve ever had. Although she has teeth and claws, she has never bitten or scratched me. She has also never been mean to any of my other pets. Never raising up a paw to swipe at another cat or dog. She doesn’t even hurt rodents! Now that’s saying something.

Many a times, rodents have come into my house. Heck, I’ve had lizards, frogs, crickets, and scorpions come into my house too. When you have three of your cats staring at the refrigerator… you begin to suspect that maybe, just maybe there’s a mouse 🐁 behind it.

So after moving the refrigerator out from the wall, the mouse took off and ran behind the range. Good grief! I had to move the range out from the wall too, but there was no mouse. Hmm 🤔 where did it go? I looked behind the fridge again, but it wasn’t there. Then Blur was staring at the drawer below the stove. OK… I opened the drawer and out popped the mouse. First, my cat, Velcro carried the mouse around telling it all about his day. Then he dropped the mouse. Next Blur picked up the very live mouse. When the mouse made an eeking sound, she dropped it and it proceeded to run under the stairs. At this point, I had my arms up in the air, waving them around, telling my cats,

Will one of you worthless cats 🐈 please kill the mouse already?!

But nope, then No Mar picked up the poor mouse, played with it and then dropped it. So, this little frightened mouse whom I couldn’t catch to release outside, ran down the hallway into the living room, and then into the bathroom. It darted under the tub. Lance, my Shiba Inu, jumped up from the futon he was laying on and ran under the tub right after the mouse. The mouse was killed instantly. My dog killed the mouse, not my cats. Go figure.

Friendship and Food

Blur with No Mar

Blur had a best friend which I will talk about in another blog – his name was No Mar. Those two were major cuddle buddies… never far apart from each other. I honestly didn’t think Blur would be able to live without No Mar, but she has been trekking along without him for a couple of years now.

Blur with Aby

Blur and Aby haven’t always been friends. Blur tried to be friends with Aby, but Aby wanted nothing to do with her. Aby would swipe at Blur’s face with her paw. But then when I was moving and was vacuuming and cleaning carpets… these two were hiding together under an upside cat bed, scared out of their wits from the loud noises. They became fast friends and have stayed friends.

Friskies may not be the most expensive, or the most high quality food, but Blur loves it. She loves Indoor Delights, the dry food with its tasty morsels of chicken, salmon, cheese, and greens. She especially loves her Friskies canned food. Although she’ll eat the pate, she especially loves her poultry flavored shreds with sauce. Yummy.

Foreign Body

Kong toy

Speaking of shreds, when I had my APBT (American Pit Bull Terrier), Brad, he had lots of toys. One of his toys was a red Kong. He was still an adolescent, and I had no idea the chewing powers of this breed! Well he destroyed that Kong. He tore it into little pieces. My colleague was astounded – she said it was almost like the Kong was made out of sponge instead of the hard rubber that it actually is. The little pieces were about the size of a dime – this would not have been a problem for Brad. Unfortunately, Blur had been playing with the small pieces…

I found some vomit on the staircase and my first thought was it was coming from my cat, Velcro who gets into everything! So, I treated him with injectable antiemetics. Well this of course didn’t solve the problem because it was the wrong cat! Then about a day later I noticed Blur vomiting. Eek. I knew she had been playing with the Kong pieces before I swept them up. I gave her some famotidine subcutaneously, hoping beyond all hope that this would help her and that she didn’t swallow a bit of Kong. This didn’t help, and I took her to work with me at the veterinary hospital the next day.

Lo and behold, the doctor in surgery that day had four exploratory surgeries – none that were scheduled on the books. All were emergencies! I had already told her about Blur’s possible foreign body, and she told me if there was any way it could wait… . Another doctor did the preliminary ultrasound and saw something suspicious in Blur’s intestines. We gave her some barium, a white opaque liquid that would show up on both radiographs and ultrasonography. Blur was also started on intravenous fluids. A few hours later, she had another ultrasound – the barium stopped in one spot – definitely conclusive of a foreign body. Because the surgeon couldn’t do any more surgeries that day, the doctor who had been doing the ultrasounds on Blur “cut her open.” Sure enough – positive for a foreign body which just happened to be a piece of the red Kong. I threw away all of the red Kongs that I had and bought black Kongs for Brad, which are made of a tougher and indestructible hard rubber.


Although Blur is a very short name, she is called other names as well… longer names than her real name. I call her Miss Blur and sometimes, I sing 🎤 to her.

🎶 Blurby Blurby Blurby get your adverbs here.

I don’t know how long I’ll have with Blur, but so far she has lived longer than I thought she would. I’m also not certain what is going on with her liver. When she first had the problem, I couldn’t afford to take her to the veterinary hospital. Since moving back to the Central Coast, a veterinarian has looked at her, but not in a veterinary hospital setting. We tried her on a course of medications, but they didn’t really help her. As long as she keeps eating and is enjoying life… then she will stay on this Earth.

Sadly, Blur went to join her feline friends Tuesday, August 25, 2020. Until we meet again Miss Blur – I love you. 🌈 bridge

Home in the Santa Cruz Mountains

View from my deck

It was 2004 when I found this gem – a one bedroom, two story cabin rental in a small town called Boulder Creek, in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was literally in the middle of the forest, off-the-grid, at 1700 feet with well water and solar electricity. The views were breathtaking as you can see from the image above. The majestic redwoods, oaks, and madrone trees provided shade and homes for an abundance of wildlife: deer, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, the occasional mountain lion, jack rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents, quail, finches, wild turkeys, skinks, salamanders, snakes, lizards – both alligator and blue bellies, scorpions, spiders, and so many more.

I still remember the ad that was in the back of the free publication, Good Times. It read:

1 bedroom cabin $950/mo 1st mo free. Views of Monterey Bay. Must have 4wd, be quiet & clean. No smoking. Fenced yard. Pets? 555-1234

My friend, Callalily and I had just finished eating lunch at the Boulder Creek Brewery. C, as I call her, actually lived in Boulder Creek and said that she’d help me search for a place. We had looked at a few places already and left messages. When we were leaving the brewery, which has the best raspberry iced tea, I grabbed the Good Times.

I showed C the ad and then called the number. Dee answered the phone and our conversation, not verbatim as this was about 16 years ago, went something like this:

Me: Hello, I’m calling about the ad in Good Times.

Dee: Yes, it’s still for rent. May I ask why you’re moving from your current place and how long you’ve been living there?

Me: I’m living in a duplex and have been for the last seven years. The lady who owns it is 90 years old and if she dies, I’ll only have 30 days to find another place. I have pets…

Dee: Well, we’re looking for a long-term tenant. How many pets do you have?

Me: (whispering into the phone) I have nine. (Louder) I work at a veterinary hospital.

Dee: Oh my (laugh), that’s a lot of pets. What kinds are they?

Me: I have six cats and three dogs – a pit bull, an older mixed breed dog, and a miniature pinscher.

Dee gave me the address, after making sure that I did in fact have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. C and I drove up there, taking her AWD Subaru as she had GPS. Except back then, GPS didn’t work so well. Even while I gave her directions, without any street signs, we still got lost. We drove the main road to the first sign and made a left, then drove until we came to a “1301” posted on a white sign and made another left up another dirt road, then when we came to the fork, and made a right. The next fork in the road, we made a left up the hill. Those were our directions as the roads were not marked with signs. With eight miles of roads in between, and “driveways” veering off to the left or right, it was very easy to get lost in the woods. These roads were not paved, they were more like fire roads. There were no houses like in a typical neighborhood, just pure forest. When we drove up the hill, we saw a brown painted clapboard house off to the left, enclosed in a huge yard. According to the directions, this had to be the place, but for $950/month? It looked huge! In comparison to the dinky two bedroom duplex that I had been living in for the last seven years, this place was huge!

We drove down to Dee’s house, which was grand, and retrieved the key to the cabin. We got a tour of her house – there was an atrium in her house with a wood plank walkway that curved around the atrium into her office. There was also a tree in her house! Wow! 😮

First Impressions

My American Bull Dog-Pit Bull Terrier, Brad Pitt in the living room with the old wood burning stove.

The entire downstairs was wood flooring – the front door opened up to the dining area with the kitchen on the left hand wall. Then there was a long hallway that led to the stairs on the left, and the original part of the cabin which was the living room and a full bathroom that was added on later. The living room and full bathroom had laminate wood floors, whereas the rest of the downstairs had pine wood floors. There were huge double pane windows that made up the whole right side wall of the dining room, along with one corner area where the propane stove was. The living room was wood paneling and had one large double pane window next to the sliding glass door that opened out to the deck. The deck didn’t have a railing around it, nor did it have stairs. There were 8 inch wide by 2 inch thick planks of wood that were about 10 to 12 feet long that sat on either side of the deck and were angled down to the yard. There was a claw foot tub in the bathroom with a pedestal sink. There was also a very small wood burning stove in the corner of the living room, nearest to the bathroom.

The upstairs consisted of the bedroom, a narrow hallway, and a one half bathroom that was as big as the downstairs minus the living room. The bedroom had light beige carpet, the narrow hallway leading to the half bath was turned into a closet on one side, but no doors. Speaking of doors, there were absolutely no doors inside the house – no door to either bathroom and no door to the bedroom. There was also no heat in the bedroom. (This wouldn’t be added until about eight years after I had been living there.)

After looking at the huge bedroom, the large yard, and knowing how little rent I’d be paying – I wanted this place! No walls to share with my neighbors, the location was closer to work, and it was just absolutely peaceful there. Dee called me a week later and said the place was mine if I wanted it. 🙂

Home Sweet Home

The stairs leading from the deck to the yard.

Throughout the years, Dee’s husband, Monte built a wood shed for me, replaced the tiny wood burning stove with a larger wood burning stove, built a carport, and stairs leading down to the yard from the deck. I supplied the fencing for the railing around the deck to make it safer because having a deck about ten feet off the ground with absolutely no railings of any kind around it is absolutely terrifying if a child or animal falls off of it. One night I was sitting with my legs dangling off the deck, and my Miniature Pinscher, Gwenyth was sitting on my lap. Well my Pit Bull, Bradley, came over and was nuzzling Gwenyth and he nuzzled her right off my lap, and she fell off the deck! Ten feet down and hit solid ground – boom! She lay there very still. I was scrambling to get my butt off the deck to run down one of the board planks to check on her, but then she shook herself off and was OK.

After eight years of living there, I even got a heater in the bedroom. (Mind you, I didn’t realize that this was a mandatory thing in California.) It was cold in that bedroom. In the winter, it would get to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit in that bedroom! Brr. My bed had fleece sheets, a thin blanket, an electric blanket (but it never worked right with the solar electricity,) a thicker blanket, and two down blankets. Not to mention, I would go to bed with socks on my feet, dressed in fleece pajamas, and wear a beanie on my head, and mittens on my hands. It was that cold! Having all of my pets snuggled in the bed with me just to keep me somewhat warm. The heater in the bedroom was a godsend.

But despite all of the problems with this house, it was my home. It was the longest place I’ve ever lived in my entire life. I loved it there. It inspired me to create jewelry. It inspired me to write poetry. It inspired me to learn how to draw. Dee and Monte didn’t care how many pets I had. They, at one time, were like my second parents, taking care of me – when I was their only tenant. They bought me a cord of wood one year, which isn’t cheap. They didn’t raise my rent for years!

And then 2017 happened… 😭

Next blog: Winter 2016-17

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