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Posts Tagged ‘Eureka’

I have returned. From Eureka, that is. Actually, I’ve been back just over a week, but it’s taken me this long to recover from nearly three weeks of sleeping on a cot in my mother’s living room, and two 16 hour trips on buses and trains. I’m still dealing with a wonky equilibrium. But maybe that part’s because of the renewed sinus and ear BS going on.

The whole time I was up there, I had no sinus issues. I could breathe freely, didn’t have a dripping nose, didn’t have that crap sliding down the back of my throat, didn’t have constant itching ears because of fluid build up. I spent the entire visit breathing cool, ocean breezes laced with the scent of roses, redwoods and eucalyptus. I was able to sit outside on the porch in the afternoon and not feel like I was cooking in a microwave. For all the drama that was going on otherwise (the reason I was there), it was nice to just sit and enjoy the day.

Then, about halfway through my trip back, the sinuses reminded me of their hatred of SoCal, and I’ve had some level of a headache ever since. Plus it’s been hovering around 100°F outside, with a “monsoonal” offshore system that is pumping the humidity up to Gawd-Awful (at least for this part of the country). The house AC is working its little condenser off, as evidenced by the latest whopping electric bill (and we have the thermostat set much higher than we’d prefer), but the truck AC decided to die. My hubby has to deal with that heat all day, his only relief when he manages to stumble through the door in the evening. Have I mentioned that I hate Southern California?

The other piece of crap news is that Jasper the Wonder Mutant decided to take his walk across the rainbow bridge while I was gone. Hubby had to deal with that all by himself, and I didn’t get to say a proper good bye. We’re all out of animals now and the house feels weird. Except for a couple years in college when I lived in the dorm, there have been animals underfoot my entire life. Mostly cats and dogs, some fish, lizards and turtles, a few parakeets, and even a dark chocolate colored mouse I named Templeton Kern. Working from home meant having many deep conversations with whatever animal was nearest. Now there is nothing but empty house and the occasional flit out of the corner of my eye of some shadow sneaking out of my subconscious. I’m not liking it.

I’m not liking a lot that’s happened lately. The situation in Eureka is far from over. Nobody died or is terminally ill, but in some sad way that might almost have been better, because then we’d have a resolution and/or a definitive course of action. As it stands, we just have lots of family angst, bewilderment at the amazingly inept authorities involved, and anger at a system that still considers mental illness “all in your head” and leaves those that suffer hanging out to dry. I feel sick about it all, and find myself crying at the slightest, most unexpected things. I have a problem with injustice and stupidity. Combine those two with my inability to really do anything to change any of it, and you get Cheri’s Most Miserable trifecta.

And don’t bother to guilt me into feeling better by pointing out how terrible people are having it in Syria, or Iraq or Gaza or West Africa. Knowing that kind of ugliness exists in our world, when we supposedly have the intelligence and technology to do so much better, doesn’t help. It only makes me all the more depressed. I can’t do anything about those issues, either. I am powerless, and that is the one feeling I just simply can’t stand to have.

Each of us has our own set of bullshit to deal with. Whether it is fighting an Ebola breakout, jihadi militants, iron-fisted tyrants, or the Spirit of Christmas Past, we each are trapped in the world around us. There is very little we can do to change what is happening. We can voice our outrage, or write our congressman, or dance a jig on the graves of our enemies, but none of that does little more than let some steam off. The path is already set. There are no do-overs here. At least, not in this particular time line. Depending on one’s theological leanings, maybe there’s a next time, maybe you can decide what you need to learn or maybe the gods roll the dice for you. But here and now is all you know for this life. The only thing you have control over is you: how you react and how you feel. Right now I’m reacting very badly because I feel like crap.

The last three years have been a constant beating. Yeah, compared to the lives of others maybe it’s not so horrible. But that’s my reality. I shouldn’t have to defend feeling crappy and depressed by that beating because children are being bombed in the Middle East. Those are two separate issues. I have a right to my feelings. That doesn’t mean I’m unsympathetic. It just means I only have enough energy to worry about one thing at a time for a while, and right now I choose me.

 

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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Last week my husband and I journeyed to Eureka, California for the expressed purpose of witnessing my middle niece graduate high school. The same high school I graduated from thirty-five years ago. While I’ve been back several times over the years (even attended the 20th Year Reunion of my class, for reasons largely unknown to me now), it’s weird to walk the old campus and sit in the old stadium. In fact, it was kind of weird in general, because so much has changed despite so much staying just the same.

I’ve spent most of my adult life far too many miles away from home. I did my undergraduate work in Texas, and moved to Los Angeles in 1986 to work on my graduate degree. I’ve been in Southern California ever since. The expense of traveling over 700 miles has kept my visits home to a minimum. Something I am continually frustrated about, especially as my mother gets older and other family issues keep cropping up. And it’s not just that my family is there (and north into Oregon), but I just really love the area. It’s green (not as green as usual since the drought has touched there as well, but still far more than in SoCal) and cool, with ocean breezes, clean air and a sun that doesn’t feel like you’re under a microwave.

The area is home to some of the most beautiful examples of Victorian houses:

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The Gingerbread Mansion               Ferndale, CA                

And some of the largest and oldest trees on the planet:

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Coastal Redwoods, Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park            

It used to be a hub for the fishing and logging industries, but those were eco-regulated into near inexistence in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Now economically depressed, the area staggers along as a tourist destination, but it’s lost a lot of its charm and independence as it sells its soul to survive.

This is the first time my husband has made the trip with me. He’s never been to the Pacific Northwest and since we’ve been talking about moving north, I thought it would be a good idea for him to see for himself just what we’re likely getting into. While the temperatures were much nicer than down south, the usual fog and rain never made an appearance during our visit. That was the first noticeable sign that things just weren’t the same anymore. I really miss fog.

And since my husband hadn’t seen any of the area before, I made it my mission to play tour guide and exhaust us both exploring all my favorite places. On Monday we hit Old Town. The area was far less appealing when I was a kid, but there has been a concerted effort over the last two decades to clean it up and bring in nice businesses as part of the area’s effort to attract the all-mighty tourist dollar. I discovered that a couple of my favorites were no longer in business, but I made up for it by spending too much money in the ones that were still around:

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Ciara’s Irish Shop   Old Town Eureka, CA

And:

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Yarn (yes, that’s actually the name of the place) Old Town Eureka, CA

There never seems to be enough money…

On Tuesday we visited the Blue Ox, an historic millworks combined with a community school that teaches various hands-on trades to at-risk youth. My husband the blacksmith was particularly interested in their resident smithy:

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Blue Ox Blacksmith   Eureka, CA

He groused about its setup and organization, but given that all tools and materials are donated and the teacher is barely out of school himself, I’d say they at least get points for the effort.

On Wednesday, we made the sojourn to Ferndale.

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Main Street Ferndale, CA

A lovely little town, I was particularly dismayed to find several of my long time favorite shops out of business. Most of them were owned and run by locals who have now retired and had no one to pass or sell the shops to. Even more sad, they were replaced by less artistic/crafty more touristy places. My husband was happy to see the blacksmith shop I’d spoken so highly of was still there, but admitted to being underwhelmed by the rest. It does still have one of the most beautiful cemeteries you can find, though, despite my husband’s superstitious refusal to visit it.

We made up for our disappointment by visiting the Loleta Cheese Factory on the way back to the hotel. They have a viewing area where you can watch them make their wares (during our visit, it was cheddar), and free samples for nearly all their varieties. Every one of their cheeses is fantastic, but we managed to hold our purchase to only four different ones. It will be hard to control ourselves once the eating starts…

Thursday found us at my most favorite place: Fern Canyon.

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Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

To give you some perspective, that’s my 6’ 3” husband in the middle of the picture. As you might expect, the area is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Besides the usual insects, we also witnessed a lovely garter snake, a fledgling bird still figuring out how those wing things work, the ubiquitous banana slug, and, most striking of all, these:

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Roosevelt Elk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

We encountered about a half dozen Roosevelt Elk grazing along the side of the road out of Fern Canyon. They are protected and have obviously become used to us tourists snapping pictures of them. This one was only about fifteen feet away as we drove along, and barely paused his grazing as we stopped for our photo op. Later as we came to the exit of the park itself, we encountered a much larger herd of about forty animals. They were a bit farther off the road than this guy, and in tall grass so those pictures didn’t turn out very well.

It was a good bit of walking down the canyon and then we took one of the short hikes into the forest itself. I huffed and puffed my way through it, getting my feet wet (literally) in the creek, tearing my jeans on a broken branch, smacking mosquitos (Mosquitos?? Here?? Wow, things have changed) and loving every second of it. I’d be a whole lot happier and healthier if I had that to walk in everyday, but I guess I’ll just have to make due with what I have in SoCal for the time being.

Ended the day at a great BBQ place, where we shared food and conversation with my dad. He had made the trek from San Antonio for graduation and it had been years since we’d actually seen each other, so it was awesome to just sit and chat. It’s amazing and depressing at the same time how fast time flies, and how much we miss when we can’t be close to family. Gotta fix that.

The end of the week brought us to graduation:

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Albee Stadium, Eureka High School

My niece has grown to a lovely young woman and will be continuing her education, looking to do something with interior design. She’s talented and determined so I have no doubts she will be successful in whatever she decides to do. My only regret is that her father couldn’t be with us to see how beautiful his daughter has become. I’m sure he would be the proudest father on Earth.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Saturday found us making the arduous twelve-hour drive back to our abode in SoCal. This return trip seemed to be hardest of all. Not because anything out of the ordinary happened on the way, but because I was leaving the one place I’ve always felt most connected to once again. After all the years of moving because of the Air Force, all the new schools and new kids to get to know, and new houses, my family finally settling in Eureka gave me the one constant in my life I’ve been able to hold on to for almost forty years. It’s lush greenery and huge trees and fresh, cool ocean breezes embraced me from the moment I set foot there and has never let me go, no matter how far away I’ve always been. I love my husband and I love the house we share and the life we’re trying to build together, but Eureka, despite its changes and its struggles, will always be home.

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

All photos by Cheri K. Endsley.

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There has been so much negativity in the world these last few years. It’s spilling over everything, creeping into every day and every corner of our lives. The media oozes it at every opportunity, because “if it bleeds, it leads.” They don’t just simply report the facts anymore but put their own flawed spin on things. We are bombarded constantly with religious zealotry, racial bigotry, gender suppression, rights erosion, and all-around-just-‘cuz-hatred. I have reached negative sensory overload. And it’s not like I needed outside help for that, anyway.

I think it’s time we each stopped a moment and took a good hard look at ourselves. We each in our own way have perpetuated this ugliness. I have ranted here endlessly about the problems I see in the world, but often don’t have any solutions. I’ve “liked” a nasty meme on Facebook, or forwarded an email that bashed those groups I love bashing. I sit at home stewing in my depression, and then get mad because nothing changes.

So tonight I’m taking an emotional time out. I’m not going to stew about the things I haven’t done, but be proud of the things I have. Instead of griping about all that’s broken, I’m going to be thankful for all that isn’t. And I’m going to forget the things I hate, and remind myself of the things I love.

Like my hometown of Eureka, CA, with its iconic Carson Mansion, and many other gorgeous Victorian homes.

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And the duck pond at Sequoia Park in Eureka. That’s all six feet of me standing among some of the smaller coastal redwoods in the park. It’s always green and cool and peaceful there, and helps me de-stress almost instantly upon arrival. If you want to see more than ducks, go visit the Sequoia Park Zoo – the oldest zoo in California. It is small but mighty.

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And string. I love playing with string. I must have been a cat for at least nine of my past lives. Cross stitch and blackwork are my favorite needleworking styles (the German in me must still have order, your know), and I really enjoy tablet weaving, but I’ll play with just about any format, especially if it involves silk.

SCA stuff 145

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I also love my home-away-from-home, the medieval tent my husband (that’s all 6’3” of him to the left) and I use for our reenactment events. It’s a bitch to get set up, but once it’s done, we have a comfy retreat that can withstand all sorts of weather.

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And my animals bring me great comfort. The dog (my husband’s before our marriage) tolerates me only because I’ve proven I’m the alpha bitch. Jasper the Wonder Mutant (he has six toes on all his paws) was sent to me for comedic relief. He’s about as graceless as any animal I’ve known, makes more noise coming down the stairs than the 50 lb. dog, and has been known to walk on the treadmill with me. We’re convinced he’s an alien in disguise. He’s convinced he’s here to help us by blessing everything we own with cat fur.

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Not to forget writing and music. Both have been with me most of my life, and have always given me someplace to go when I didn’t want to face the world. Which is most of the time, but I think that’s more to do with what’s going on out there than what’s going on in here.

That’s why we need to stop and get out of our rages. If we all take a moment to think peaceful, positive thoughts, maybe peaceful, positive things will begin to happen.

© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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