Gathering sticks in my sleep

Yesterday I was driving to town because my van had an appointment at the shop, and I noticed some big piles of Redwood trees on the side of the road. They've been clearing some trees away from the site for the new road that's going in right now. We haven't had the rain of last year, and the hillside a few miles away has stayed hillside, rather than becoming one with the road, but they have been hard at work at a plan to reroute the whole highway away from the sight of this one notorious mudslide.

Anyways, I saw the wood, and my immediate thought was, "firewood!" and, noticing the other stack of branches and smaller wood pieces, I thought, "kindling!" which all goes to show you just how much living here has affected me, this last year and a half. I actually thought, "kindling!" in a more neurotic way, the way you see Tetris blocks moving behind your eyes if you've been playing too long, or the way my sister, when we were younger and were helping my parents redo their kitchen floor by scraping all of the gunk off the bottom layer, would say, "scrape scrape scrape" whenever she saw gum on the sidewalk, for quite a while after.

But yes, I see twigs on the highway and I think of kindling, and I see wood and I think of firewood, and I think about fire a whole lot, actually, because fire is the way we heat our homes, and I may fiddle with not only one fire during the day, but two, maybe three. It's really beautiful, there is nothing more psychologically soothing than a watching a fire, other than maybe watching our river run by. I've learned a lot about heating with fire, about hard wood and soft wood, and about how the whole point is to get the stove really hot, because that is the only way you will heat a room. This may seem obvious, but you could have a little piddly fire all day long and never get any heat. There needs to be a roar, blazing coals; it needs to be rocking.

I never thought much about firewood in San Francisco. When we lived there, I thought about our landlord a lot, and how he would never come over and fix our plumbing. I thought about parking a lot. I think I was as neurotic about parking as I am about kindling now, and parking is not a healthy thing to be neurotic about. I can't tell you how many times I almost gave myself an ulcer protecting our four little spaces in our parking lot. There were actually only two, but we doubled up, out of sheer necessity, in our flat of many people. We lived next to Amoeba Records, on Haight St, so a lot of people wanted our parking, all the time. Once a man parked there and we asked him to leave. He got all huffy and got into his car, tearing out of the spot and smashing into our little blue car. I ran over to look at the damage and he got out and said, "that was already there." I'm just going to tell you, you don't want to say something like that to me when I'm pregnant and you've just crashed into the little blue car. I love that car.

Anyways, I've lived in so many situations, but most of the time I think of myself as a city girl. Chinua is definitely a city superstar. His life looks like this: Detroit, Long Beach, San Francisco, Seoul, back to San Francisco then here? This little tiny town in the middle of nowhere?

I remember when I was a teenager and we moved from Edmonton to a little farm town in B.C. City kid that I was, I mistakenly went for a run, thinking that country roads were kind of like city blocks, that you could just turn left a bunch of times and come back to where you started. At the start of my run I was so happy, running amongst sheep grazing and corn fields, feeling very Anne of Green Gables (although I don't think she was a jogger) until my experience ended up with me getting lost and suffering through some embarrassing events with long-lasting, painful effects.. (All I'll say is that they involved having to use the bathroom desperately and getting stuck in a blackberry thicket being attacked by blackberry thorns on my bottom.)

I had to learn to navigate country ways. I still am trying, here, although you couldn't call this tiny town country, you'd more call it "woods". Every once in a while, I look around and think, "Where on earth am I?" Like the other night, when Renee and I wanted to watch a movie that we couldn't find in the local pseudo grocery stores, because it was too old. We had some kind of delusional moment, and decided to drive to the town north of us to find it. Delusional, I say, because no movie is worth a round trip of an hour, but every so often I like to pretend that the town north of us is much closer than it is. It wouldn't have been too bad if the video store had been open. It wasn't. It was closed. At 8:30. So we went to the big, real, grocery store.

That's when the real small town living became vivid. These local people are so quirky, and so nice. We told the store workers (the store was about an hour away from closing and mostly deserted) about the video store being closed, and one lady, indignant, asked her manager what time it closed. "Probably whenever they want to," was his reply, and she shook her head, saying, "these girls drove all the way out here..."  I don't know what she was thinking of doing about it, but she wanted justice. They wanted us to find our movie, so they called over to the adjoining town, to the liquor store, to see if it was there. On the other end of the phone, the man at the liquor store in the adjoining town said, "We have no idea what movies we have, they'll just have to come look." And I got a reassurance from the man who had called that they had lots of movies, including old ones, so off we went.

When we got there, we found a dimly lit store with LOTS of likker, and two old guys talking together, with white hair and beards, wearing flannel and suspenders with their jeans, who basically ignored us while we were there, except for a brief nod on the way in and on the way out. We also found one revolving rack of dusty VHS movies, some of which were old, none of which were the one we wanted. We headed back to the big grocery store, where they sympathised and joked with us until we picked the worst movie ever (My Super Ex-girlfriend, I don't recommend it, it had maybe two redeeming moments, and good grief, PG-13 movies have become a lot more crass. It's just stupid. "Ha ha ha, it's funny to talk about sex. Through the whole movie. Funny funny funny. Stupid innuendo is funny.") and left the store amid everyone calling goodbye! Goodbye!

I think it was about a two-hour experience, and all we got out of the deal was a dumb movie, a bag of chips, and some friends at the grocery store, which Renee and I agreed was pretty good, after all. Our favorite part was when we were thanking the man who called the liquor store for us and the manager complained, "what about meeee?" and so we said, "Thanks!" He ducked his head and said, "Awwww. You guys are the best."

Woods living. It's quirky, that's for sure, and in the winter you may become a little too fixated on firewood, and there is no decent Thai food anywhere, and definitely no Pho, and nothing that compares to the San Francisco Library, but. Still. This is by far the most beautiful place that I've ever lived, and we made friends with one of the managers at the grocery store and he said that we're the best.