The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.
~ Plutarch ~
Absolute privacy. Is there really such a thing? Possibly, but it is not assured, even on the private, ocean-facing deck of a pricy rental cottage operated by an upscale innkeeper on the Pacific coast. Yesterday morning, we decided to take advantage of our private hot tub/whirlpool on the deck of our delightful getaway. Being the modest guy I am, I chose to wear a swimsuit. Mi novia, though, was having none of that modesty crap; she walked onto the deck, draped only in an inn-supplied robe, and immediately took it off and hung it up for use as a post-soak garment. We then managed to climb into the tub and let the powerful jets whisk away the residual pains caused by so much time sitting in the car during our trip west. We sat in the tub, gazing at the water and the birds and the waves crashing up on rocks on the islands just offshore. When we were ready to begin the rest of the day in earnest, we climbed out. When I emerged from the water, it seemed pointless to cover up…there was nothing but an empty field filled with wildflowers and sea grass between us and the rocky cliffs leading to the ocean below. So I took off the suit, hung it on a chair to dry, and stood naked on that very private deck. But, a few moment later, I heard the sound of a lawnmower. And the sound quickly grew louder and closer. Just as I wrapped another robe around me , the source of the sound came into view; the man pushing the mower nodded at me as he pushed the mower through the tall sea grass just below our deck. I suspect the guy has seen many people in various states of undress on “our” deck and the ones on both sides of us. And I suspect people who have stayed in the units on both sides of us have wandered to the edges of their decks and looked back at ours, only to see old naked me enjoying freedom from restrictive garments. It’s really not a big deal. But “public” nudity is such an unusual and uncomfortable and, apparently, dangerous and degenerate activity that many of us shrink back in horror at the thought of it. I do not. Not in the least. But I grudgingly accept that some people would find my untoned, white-as-cotton, bloated-as-a-balloon body unappealing in the extreme. So I’ll try to respect privacy in both directions. But, really, wandering around, nude, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean feels extraordinarily free and wonderful! As I strolled around the deck, before the encounter with the lawnmower man, I thought I’d attach another identity to myself: the Nude Pacifist (inasmuch as I was nude and was standing by the Pacific Ocean). It would not make sense, though, sitting fully clothed on a chair on my deck in Arkansas. Not even if I chose to sit naked on my deck. Then, I would have to call myself the Nude Arkie. That appellation is not quite as appealing, though probably more realistic.
Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. ~
Later in the day, after we had lunch at a restaurant on the port at Fort Bragg, we returned to Mendocino and strolled around one of the touristy shopping areas, a place littered with an assortment of shops and restaurants and inns and the like. Unfortunately, some of the places have not yet fully recovered from the Time of COVID; some may never recover, especially since COVID seems to be making another comeback in and around the west coast. But the places we visited were interesting. During our wandering, mi novia bought me a very nice hat, made of all cotton but that looks like leather. And she bought me a t-shirt. And I bought her a couple of trinkets, as well. It was an entirely pleasant day, all the way around. When we finished our shopping and strolling excursion, we went to the grocery store to stock up on a few items (similar to what we bought the day before) for dinner and breakfast. Between two trips over two days, we bought sourdough bread, two kinds of cheese, some wine, bananas, strawberries, olives, liverwurst, salami, and some blueberry breakfast rolls. Maybe more, I don’t recall precisely.
After shopping, we went to explore the “affordable” houses we had seen advertised the day before. They are two miles inland, situated in an enclave of modular homes (similar to mobile homes, but configured more compactly and more attractively). We went inside one, the cheapest one, and quickly decided it would have to be taken down to the studs and fumigated to remove awfully offensive odors. Others, which we did not enter, looked much more appealing from the outside. And the entire little community was quite attractive and full of lush plants and flowers. We learned, while visiting the office of the community, that the residents had recently purchased the community’s assets (pool, streets, community center, laundromat, etc,, etc.) from its former corporate owner. And we learned that the residents financed 110% of the $16 million+ price tag. That purchase had the effect of requiring each resident (each unit, actually) to pay $1247 monthly to the collective association so it can pay off its 30 year mortgage and related expenses of management. Even with that hefty price tag, though, I believe the cost of purchasing housing there is considerably less than almost anywhere else on the coast. But we are not ready to jump ship just yet. So we will continue to dream.
When we got back to our room at the inn (which, by the way, is situated down the road a ways from the main inn, and seems secluded when compared to other accommodations in this area), we went outside to soak in the views of the Pacific as the sun began to set. During that time, while we were engaged in an otherwise peaceful, trance-like experience, being lulled to serenity by the waves and and wind and sounds, an enormous seagull swooped down and landed on the deck just a few feet from us. We fed it pieces of pretzels and spoke to it.
During our time sitting on the deck, we marveled at another bird, a hawk (we think) that had a fish in its talons. The bird soared up from the water and above us just a short distance west of our location. It disappeared from sight, but we assume it took its prey to a spot where the bird could rip the fish apart with strong talons and sharp beak. As brutal as Nature can be, watching it unfold—even in all its fierce and callous beauty—can be absolutely spellbinding.
Our daily meals lately have followed a pattern: a small, simple breakfast (except one morning while we were in Berkeley my sister fed us smoked salmon on bagels, along with the obligatory cream cheese, purple onion slices, and capers), followed by a lunch “out” at a restaurant, and capped off with a simple “at home” meal consisting of cheese, olives, a little meat, bread, and wine. I rather like that, though I suspect it could begin to feel more like a rut than a pattern if it were not occasionally shaken up.
When we visited mi novia‘s mother, she asked me what she should call our relationship. She is not my mother-in-law, nor am I her son-in-law, because I am not married to her daughter. I was not sure how to respond; I told her I would think on it. And I have. I came up with something by using the Thesaurus as a guide. I wanted the opposite of “law,” and I came up with “transgression.” And I wanted a description that did not involve “mother” (but not sure why); I decided on “parental woman.” So, the description could be “Semi-Parental Woman in Transgression,” or SPWIT. As for me, I might be the “Semi-Spousal Man in Transgression,” or SSMIT. I am not married to this terminology. My SPWIT suggested I aske readers of this blog to make suggestions, so I am doing that. What do both of you other readers think?
I like this guy. And his fish. I wish I had the skill to create such stuff. It’s a real shame that I do not seem to have either the creativity nor the technical skills necessary to create such carvings. I would of course accept him with welcome arms, even though I did not create him. But it would be even better if I did it myself. Absent that, I could love those sculpted pieces of wood created by a friend. Do any of my friends do intricate wood sculpture? Asking for a friend. 😉
The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.
~ Plutarch ~
Rhonda, thanks for the creative idea. I’ll definitely consider it.
Debbie, I’m glad you feel the tranquility of the Pacific; and I’m honored that you seemed to enjoy the icing! 😉 Please share any ideas you have about an appropriate term of endearment. 🙂
Since you and Colleen are bound by love and not law, how about “mother-in-love”? 🙂
I love this blog. Knowing you two are there, along with your descriptions, allow me to feel the tranquility of the ocean. You flashing the gardener was the icing on the cake. I’ll be thinking about a good name for you to call Gladys.
Okay, Becky. I’ll keep trying. And I’ll keep shocking. 😉
Transgression is defined as an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct; an offense. No, John. Keep searching for a better term, please. And, the frolicking on the deck outside the safety of your own backyard…. shocking!