This Isn’t An April Fools Post (April Fools! Gotcha.)

Being a grown adult I am more than willing to let my older sister book my flights for me. She is a genius when it comes to finding deals so I don’t mind. My sister told me that my flight would take off 3 pm Tuesday and arrive 8 am Wednesday. The last flight I was on was an alll night flight so this sounded accurate enough. I planned how to get to the airport and I let Andrea, my friend in Oceanside, know; arrival plans were made accordingly. Grandma and I took off early for the airport yesterday morning. I knew she had things to do today and I don’t mind waiting in an airport for a couple hours. On the way to the airport we got to discussing the itinerary I had printed off at the library the day before. She asked about my stopovers and I told her there was just the one, in Dallas. This puzzled her “why is the flight so long then?”

“I’m not sure” I told her. I was driving so I said she could get the itinerary out of my purse if she wanted to look. She pulled it out and gave it a perusal.  There was silence for a few minutes and then Grandma asked me again what time arrival was. “8 am Wednesday,” I answered.

She said, “No.” She told me, “8 pm Tuesday.” This time it was my turn to say no. I turned my head away from the wheel and looked over at the paper she was holding up for me to see. She pointed at the time of arrival and I saw that she was, indeed, correct.

I don’t know if my sister was intentionally looking to play me like an April Fool, but she certainly did. For five days now I have been looking forward and dreading the overnight flight I was going to have to get back to Little Wing. Being a wisened adult I didn’t even feel it necessary to double check the itinerary before make plans. April Fool.

Regardless of this correction and bruise to my ego I was pleased that I didn’t,  in fact, have to hang around airports all night. That bruise on my ego had atleast eight hours in a comfortable bed to heal up.

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I mentioned in a previous post (here) that my motorcycle jacket was not in working order. I had come to find that he zipper had suffered more damge than I had thougt when I went down in Oceanside, CA a few months ago (which I mention here). Well, I knew that wouldn’t fly when I got back to Little Wing, I would need a working jacket for safeties sake. I took it to the leather shop in Aberdeen, SD and asked what they could do to fix it.

My jacket is a mesh jacket. It was the  smallest, cheapest, most comfortable, jacket I could find when I went on my hunt for riding gear. For all those reasons it turned out to not be the best jacket on the market. If I were to get a new jacket I would, first off, look for one with a metal zipper. The jacket has served me well, taken hard falls, and manged to get up for more, but the zippers have all caused me problems.

When I asked the leather shop what the charge would be for something like that, sewing a metal zipper on a mesh jacket, they gave me a quote of at least fifty dollars. I felt goosebumps raise, but I tried not to give away my reaction. I thought there was no way I was going to pay that, but I knew saying that aloud would insult the kind leatherworkers and make future business a pain. I saw the rack of leathers they had and made my way over to it. One of the leather workers followed me over and invited me to try them on. I looked at the leather coats they had, checked sizes  and even found a few I could try on, but there wasn’t a one that fit. Plus, how could I possibly afford one of these coats? I got up the nerve to ask the price and the leatherworker told me that all coats ranged from forty-five to fifty dollars since they were all used.

So either buy a metal zipper or buy a new coat. Hmmm, what should a girl do? I couldn’t afford either option but I figured it would be worth it to buy a new jacket if they ever got one in my size so for the next two weeks I stopped in every time I was near the shop. These visits were fruitless, but I kept hope alive.

I reported back to my grandma what I had found out about my coat. She suggested trying the tarp and canvas shop that was in town. That sounded like a good idea, but it was a suggestion that seemed impossible to act upon because I forgot it everytime I ended up back in Aberdeen. Then one day Grandma invited me along to run errands and by some bit of random recall I remembered to bring my riding jacket and ask Grandma to show me where the tarp and canvas shop was. She was happy to comply and so that morning I found myself at a little old garage that was labeled with the word tarp and canvas. We walked in and were welcomed by a near empty shop and silence. I looked around for someone who might be employed there and able to assist. I finally spotted a face peaking out from behind a sewing machine and when we made eye contact, the stout man that belonged to the face said “hello.”

Grandma and I responded in kind and I waited a bit longer for him to say more. Since it didn’t seem as though he would I took it upon myself to start our business transaction. I walked towards him and, as I did so, I saw that the item that he was sewing on was an industrial-sized tarp draped across an industrial-sized table. As I made my way closer I started explaining the issue with jacket I held in my hands. I told him where I had taken it so far, why I had taken it, and the quote I had been given. On hearing fifty dollars I saw the first hint of emotion on the stoic face I was addressing as his eyebrow rose.

He stood up. “Let me take a look,” he said as reached for the coat. I let loose and let him have it. He moved over to another part of the industrial-sized workbench and picked up a tool. I attempted looking over his shoulder, but even as short as he was I was still shorter. I shuffled over to his other side, hoping I could see better there. I was just stretching my neck around to get a look around his right side when he turned and handed me my riding jacket. “Try that.”

I saw that he held in his right hand a pair of pliers. I asked as I tossed the coat on, “what did you do?”

“I tightened the zipper up. Sometimes they just get a little loose.”

I tried zipping the jacket and to my pleasure it actually zipped. I reached for my purse to pay him something and he told me no. He informed me that he was currently closing the shop and so was finishing backorders. He wouldn’t be in bussiness much longer and he was happy to help me no cost. I realized I had got there just in the nick of time. The leather workers didn’t tell me the jacket was a simple fix and if it weren’t for the tarp and canvas guy I would have been out at least fifty dollars. My eternal gratitude goes out to the stoic man with the plyers. Needless to say, my day was made.

My day was made again Monday, the day before I took off for California. Grandma and I had errands to run, one of them being the printing out of my itinerary at the Aberdeen Public Library. We took off earlier than usual to get all the stuff done. I was sure that Grandma had her reasons for getting started sooner than later, so, though curious, I didn’t bother to ask. After I finished up printing out, but not reading, the itinerary at the library Grandma said “we have time for another stop.”

“Another stop?” I asked. Grandma responded with a coy grin and so I just left it at that. Grandma’s suprises are usually good ones.

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We ended up at the old Central High School. The same school that Dad and all his siblings attended. A beautiful, historic, building that has been retired from its old duties of being a school. It was adopted as a city building, and one of the largest rooms on first floor has become an art gallery that is host to different exhibits through out the year. The current exhibit is a collection of work from talented prison inmates across the state. This is the exhibit Grandma knew I wanted to see.

The idea is to promote self therapy with artistic expression, something I am in huge favor of. One of the goals is to lower the recitivism rate, which is a huge problem all across the country. Here’s the article from the Aberdeen News. I was touched by this exhibit and even more touched that Grandma knew it was important enough to me that she wanted to make sure I got there before I flew to California.

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I painted this watercolor for grandma.

So, I flew to California. I am here now. I got here last night, around 8:20 pm, right around the time my itinerary had predicted. I was welcomed by the busy busyness of San Diego Airport and a long wait at Baggage Check for my, small (unnecessarily, but required), checked bag. Then I walked out to the sidewalk where a sea of vehicles parked along the curb, and the first lane of traffic. I knew Andrea was waiting for me. She had called me and told me that she was going to drive around the block once to appease the security who was clearly getting antsy. When she told me this I was holding my spot in front of Baggage Check, waiting for the motor to start up and deliver my bag. I knew when I got the bag she would be out there. I looked toward the conflagration of vehicles. I saw a old truck with the letters T O Y O T A printed on the back. It was small enough.. and who else in California had a short cab Toyota truck and drove that they drove around regularly? The truck was stopped in the first lane since all the curb spots were taken up with hugging, crying, people who had left their luggage on the sit sidewalkas they made their emotions known. I made my way swiftly, tossing my blue duffle full of commitments over my shoulder to save wear from the strap on my filmy shirt, like I had seen the old army guys with their huge military packs do in the movies. I half feared Andrea would take off on me, I was sure she hadn’t seen me. I tossed the duffel into the bed of the truck and I saw her start as I reached for the doorhandle. A huge grin spread across her face when she saw me in the door frame, “Sweetie!” I heard as I got in. I let go of my coat and purse for the first time. Our hour drive to the organic farm was started.

We filled the cab of the truck with conversation as we made our way. There was so much to discuss, so much that had happened in both our lives since the first time she made a trip to the San Diego airport on my behalf. I watched her switch the vent from cool to cooler and turn up the fan, and at that moment I knew I wasn’t in the Midwest anymore.

How strange to be so far away from where I was twenty-four hours ago. I am physically and mentally in a different place. Is that good or bad? I think it is what it is. I’m here NOW. I picked a flower today, a pretty one that had petals that faded from yellow into white, like an inverse sunshine, and when I did I came up with a new motto:

Now is good. If now isn’t good then pick a flower and stick your nose in it.

Not quite Tich Naht Han, but getting there. The cheesieness, though clear to me now, was not apparent in the moment. I felt great. I was questioning what next, what if, should’s, could’s and but’s; you know, all the useless stuff. I realized that, wow, here I was. Here now. I was in California. Reunited with Little Wing, walking in paradise, sweating in the heat. What about later mattered so much that I should miss now? I looked down at my flower, stuck it up to my nose, and inhaled deeply. Breathe Diamond, breathe. Smiles flourish on a good breath.

Andrea and I arrived back to Blue Heron Farm around 9:30 pm, and the first thing I noticed as I opened the truck door – and set my first foot out onto the closest thing I have found to Shangri-la since ever – was the smell. The perfume, the aroma, the redolence, the spice, the bouquet, the scent of the blooms clung to me and entered my lungs as I inhaled deeply. Life was meant to be lived with plants and good smells, that is all there is to it, and my soul has been enriched since yesterday as I have been reminded of one of the things I love the most with travel, breathing deeply.

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The farm.

I went for a ride today. I was welcomed by three new packages piled with the commitments I had left behind. In one was a GPS wrapped in changing chuck and topped off with a bumper sticker to add to my windshield. The inside joke associated with the packaging made me smile, but the GPS inside made my dreamer start dreaming as I thought of all the places I wouldn’t get lost now. Another package had an oil filter and the final part for Little Wing’s rear breaks, a spring that I was very happy to put on and find much more effective than the last.

I have come to know the benifit of keeping a blog. When I opened the box of parts and found an oil filter I wondered, did I change the oil? Is this for the next oil change in 3000 miles or is it for now? My stressed out thinker finally remembered that all that info is archived on a website created just for this type of ponderance. And the verdict is… I changed the oil about a thousand miles ago so I’m good for now.

The third box, whuch is actually the first one I opened, held the pair of pants I had ordered just before heading to South Dakota. A pair of Sliders. A kevlar reinforced pair of jeans that are designed specifically for the next time I go down, but dude, I’m not planning that. Anyway, now that I have new pricey jeans I new I had to try them out and I decided to use that as a great excuse to take Little Wing for a spin (as though I needed an excuse).

I was amazed to find that I rode well. I had not forgotten everything I had learned, on the contrary, I appeared to remember it, like riding a bike. I started off slow, one of the reasons being the new spring I had put on the back brakes, I wasn’t sure if everything was right, but it actually turned out the back brakes worked better than they had in months. The other reason for starting slow was the nerves. I had this small worry that I had forgotten what to do, and, like I said, that was a unfounded. One thing that I noticed was my confidence. It seemed to come back to me the moment I slipped my riding boots on, but it only increased the more distance I covered. I felt the swagger as I parked the bike and took off my helmet, and I remembered the true feeling of independence that I only have come to know through art and – on a much larger scale – through adventure. Sorrow and being back with family had made the independence hard to see. It was covered by the newness of the reasons for being back in South Dakota. I knew it was there, but I wasn’t sure which emotions to move around to look for it. Like a discarded t-shirt at the bottom of the stack, independence was tucked deep below the million other feelings that were being tossed about.

Now here it is, my feeling of independence. I can breathe it in when I inhale deeply. I can walk around wearing it, and best of all, it can keep me comfortable on the back of Little Wing.

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I found this bird in a nest today. It didn't move a wink when I moved the branch around to get a picture. I think it was under the impression it was invisible.

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The first ride in a month and a half took me to the store In Fallbrook, CA. I had a mission other than testing my new jeans. I needed two ingredients at the grocery store for a batch of cookies. Sugar and butter, two things Andrea didn’t have on hand. I wanted to make her, and all the neat people that come to the farm, the same cookies my Grandma had made me when I was in South Dakota. Grandma had come across a recipe in a knitters magazine, and decided she wanted to try it. We mixed them up together in the warmth of the kitchen. We talked about things, and listened to the radio, and baked. And when we were done we had some of the best cookies I have ever had. I am still unsure if it was the recipe or my grandmother, but something made those cookies special. They are a ginger slash spice cookie and they make a house smell like a cozy blanket when one inhales deeply. When the boys, Grandpa Larry and Dad, came in we handed them each one, and instantly we were met with smiles. Dad doesn’t always like cookies, he liked these. I knew that I had to share them with Andrea. So I went to the grocery store and picked up the ingredients.

Grandma had packed me three of the ginger slash spice cookies to take on the plane, from our last batch we had made together. I ate one in the Sioux Falls Airport while people watching and typing. I started conversation with a young gal who was siting by the power tower when I moved over towards her to charge my battery. I never caught her name, but I found out we were going to be on all the same flights since she was flying to San Diego to see her fiancé. We stood by each other in the Dallas-Fortworth Airport as I ate my second cookie, and I found out she was twenty years old, and that when people didn’t reciprocate her smile she liked to stare at them with a huge cheshire grin on her face, because “why not?” I liked her. I found out she was going to college for early childhood education in South Dakota, but she was originally from Iowa. While we talked, and I ate my cookie, I people watched.

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Louie, the father of all the lambs I watched enter the world this spring. Cocky bugger.

There are so many people in this world, all doing different things, and don’t you just wonder what those things are? Where is that person going? Where are they coming from? Why? The truth is I probably won’t see them again, but the beauty is I have seen them once. I have seen their face, and maybe, for a brief moment, they saw mine. They were a part of the enormous world that is inside my head, and I got a chance to be in their’s. I find that amazing.

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Could they get cuter?

I ate the last ginger slash spice cookie this morning before setting off on Little Wing for sugar and butter. Atter I picked up the ingredients I brough Little Wing back to Andrea’s garage and I baked. I inhaled the smell that came from South Dakota, and when i stepped out for a walk later and inhaled the smell of a flower, I wondered what was the difference?

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The smell of California has welcomed me back, but I have brought with me the smell of the Midwest. The taste of fresh citrus this morning was as sweet as the taste of the ginger slash spice cookie I finished off from Grandma’s care package this morning. I am here, I was there. I smell different smells, I see different faces. I talk to different people and taste different tastes, but its all the same. It all makes up independence. It makes me.

Sometimes it makes me an April Fool.

Now is good. If now isn’t good then pick a flower and stick your nose in it.

Happy first of the month to you!