Sunday, September 14, 2008

At the new windows

In July, if asked, I would have assured you I deal very well with chaos. I am accustomed to doing several things at the same time; I am usually fairly graceful about it. Or so I would have told you.

In early August, if asked, I would have cheerfully told you, "No problem; yes, it is complicated, but all is well."

That would have been true, but it would have ignored the month or so to come, and the late night times of "I do not want to lift another box of books in my life" and the dust in my hair, and the fights with my partner, and the poor confused critters.

But now--well, the view from my desk is of the beautiful hillsides I fell in love with more than 30 years ago; the hills I wandered with a friend, that slope to the winding river. The view is of some redwood trees across the street, of a little park graced with plum trees, and of my vast porch and windowbox and the very old grapevine clambering up the building on the north, and the sheltering plums, locusts, oaks and bay on the south. Old rock walls support the porch; the grapevine makes a graceful arc over the steps down to the path north. The steps south lead up to town.

When the sun sets I watch it over the distant green and gold hills, and my heart is at peace.

True, I still go to a shelf all confident in search of a book and stop.."oh, gee, that one isn't in alphabetical order yet..." But that is easily remedied.

We are on the main street of a pretty little town, and people can wander down to chat with us and buy books and pay proper attention to Champ and his feline companions.

The main street is also pretty much the highway for hitch hikers; I can be found by my wandering friends when they need me.

I hadn't figured on moving, though. The universe is full of surprises, and some of them come as shocks.

This move...well, it all started in late July, when there was some controversy over the installation of a portable toilet in the lot of the post office near our bookstore. It's a long and tangled tale, and involves allegations of destruction and such by folks without homes, causing the closure of the PO during evenings and weekends.
This was quite the problem for people who live in the hills and come in once a week--no one could pick up their mail. It was about a year long problem, and some folks got together to work out solutions with the PO. Seems there was a meeting, and the portapotty was one of the factors.

Not a bad idea. I mean, we all do have bodies and such, and many the tourist came to my shop wondering where on earth they, go. We were informed of the portapotty by a rep from the Chamber of Commerce and by a candidate for the board of supes. Okay, fine by us.

Except we were told it was being placed next to our front door, near the roses I'd planted and tended.

Big reality time. My partner was enraged at what he saw as a deliberate slap in the face. I talked him down, because when I thought about it I figured...hey, we ask people to be compassionate. We ask people to go beyond their personal comfort all the time. How can we block this.

He grumbled, and said I was right.

So the glorious toilet day was coming, and the postmaster came to tell us it was being placed "tomorrow". And I was figuring, okay, I'll build screens and plant vines and all will be well...but then I wondered if anyone had bothered to talk with my landlady.

Well, no.

So I suggested the postmaster phone her.

And thus I became...well, lord knows what she was told, but she'd wanted for a long time to renovate the building, so...we, who invented homeless people (I gather) and had held the meeting to bring her property values to the ground (though we hadn't been there) didn't have to move that day, but tomorrow would be nice.

Sure, I know that's not legal. But here's the deal: I hung up the phone, told partner and daughter, and daughter phoned her boyfriend who said "hey, so and so is moving her office next to where I work...get on it".

And we did. Within 10 minutes we knew where we were moving a zillion books and...oh, you don't want to know about the piles of leaflets and the odds and ends.

It seemed to go on forever. A week stretched into another week. My partner started likening it to a hostage situation "day 22, and counting..."

But the help that came was so amazing. Not a day passed without someone unexpectedly showing up with a truck, or a strong back, or a vat of coffee. Old friends, sure, but people I only knew vaguely as customers--the guy who loves French literature turned out to be a great carpenter and built me a wall of shelves; the guy who reads sci fi spent a whole weekend carrying heavy boxes. My street friends, who could get some good money for the sort of heavy work they were doing for me, refused payment. "You've been our friend for so long, let us give you something back".

Although it was exhausting, although I seemed to live on ibuprofen and strong coffee for a few weeks there, it was also touching and astonishing.

We are settling in with joy and gratitude. The town cemetery is not too far north of us, down a lane lined with redwoods. When I first arrived in the area I used to walk there and sit and collect my thoughts, wondering what I should be doing with my life. These mornings Champ and I walk through, startling the bluejays, admiring the autumn roses, plotting guerrilla planting of daffodils, and noting the many friends whose markers rest delicately beneath the old cypress trees.

It's a good place. It feels right. And the whole move, though so tiring and so long, felt all along guided and protected. As I say, sometimes good changes come with a curious shock.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad things worked out for you. Two things that are dear to us in this house, bookstores and cemeteries.
I'm glad you plant daffodis. That is one thing I have been doing through the years on old grave lots. It's so nice to see flowers in some forgotten place in the spring. And only you know who put them there. ;-)

4:51 PM, September 14, 2008  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

Well, nothing like having to move on the spot. I'm certain you handled it with more grace and fewer bouts of swearing that I would have. So, how far are you from your previous location? It's nice that you still have ties. What of Bear and the Cabin? Truly, I'm happy for the unexpected change for you and that you had friends to help.

7:23 PM, September 20, 2008  
Blogger Joumana said...

you have always dropped a much needed word on my blog... and little i can do to repay...this has helped me:"No heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." Coelho

1:35 PM, September 23, 2008  
Blogger Amy Branham said...

It's good to see you back. Your description of your new place sounds absolutely devine and someplace I really would love to be. Many happy blessings of joy and prosperity for the coming years!

12:33 PM, September 25, 2008  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

cemeteryconsort--we are kindred spirits, indeed. I am so delighted with the thought of all the daffodils that are going to be mysteriously showing up around here.
You'd like some of the older stones in our graveyard, very pretty and poignant.

livewire--I have been thinking of you. And I had my bouts of swearing, and my bouts of lying on the floor saying "no, I'm finished". We are only 2 miles from the former location, though in another town (oddly). Actually on the same street. Very easy for my old friends to find me.

Bear (new bear) has really been active at my cabin; it is pretty bad there. But the bear is happy.

beautiful quote, joumana!

Thank you, Amy. It is a good place, I feel as if it was simply waiting for us.

10:17 PM, September 25, 2008  
Anonymous marly said...

Confetti, jarvenpa!

And I think it sounds like a good move, bookstore-wise. Very heartening, all that help.

But new bear? Ack! Isn't there a magic bear plant to send them down the hill? Like marigolds against insects...

8:02 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...


Glad to read about the wild changes, the sweetness of help given, the dust starting to settle...

7:10 AM, October 12, 2008  

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