Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Hawk flight wide open
wings catch air draft, current, glide,
soar view of our world.
The adventure set I mentioned last week had a variety of living conditions that came with it. In my adult life I moved 24 times in 20 years at the whim of landlords. Oregon law requires no reason for eviction, merely a 30 day notice. I never have and never will qualify for a standard bank loan, so my auto-didactic education brought me the knowledge of an owner-carry contract, and to an owner who was willing to risk my signature on a contract.
I have been in my own home 15 years in September. The creation of a modicum of stability is one of the greatest gifts I have given myself. I complicate my own life by living with pets, but with all the money spent on deposits, application fees and key fees, start-up and connect or re-connect fees, storage unit fees, and moving transportation expenses I could have bought my home twice over and have it paid for by now. What a waste of money and time. I have another 25 years on my contract and as you all know I’m 60.
But it’s better than those nights years ago I spent on the floor of gas station bathrooms because I could lock the door, have a toilet and running water at my disposal. Now they keep the doors locked all day so vagrants like me can’t do that any more.
And better than the nights spent under highway bridges in the desert outside El Paso, Texas. It gets really cold in the desert in Texas in November; the bridges offer no real protection from the weather.
And it’s better than living in my old 1965 GMC school bus in a mobile home court when you share a shower with every body else whose mobile home doesn’t have a working shower. And where people scrutinize every spark out of your chimney and every movement you make. Yes, that’s me, bleary-eyed, tottering to the restroom at 2:00 AM with my flashlight and waiting for the folks shooting drugs to get out of the bathroom so I can pee.
Because I am working poor I couldn’t always immediately find another place of my own to rent so I’ve had to share with other individuals or families when I was between houses. I was never very good at sharing homes with others though I’ve had to do that several times. My habits and those of my family are quirky enough without theirs to bother me. Since I don’t smoke or drink, those were the hardest habits to live with. Snoring, bulimia, night owls, undisclosed mental health problems, you take what you get when you are begging for help.
I’ve been creative when it comes to getting homes. Back in the day I tied up a phone line for 6 hours waiting for the landlord to pick up the phone and since I was the first caller I managed to rent the house. Phone lines don’t work that way anymore and now landlords require applications and application fees, background checks, credit checks, proof of income, and a medical report before they even select you as a renter. Another time I drove by a house and saw the landlord pounding the “For Rent” sign into the ground, waited until he left, then I hid the sign and called the landlord until they answered, and again lucked out and rented because I was the first contact.
One tiny tacky little duplex I got into started out with “rent” being paid in the form of family hair care, until the husband figured out what was going on and came over a few months later demanding rent, blowing up at me in the barn where I was tending my horse. Told him of course I’d be happy to pay rent, but this was the first I’d heard of any change in the agreement and all he had to do was negotiate the change in a calm manner. No need to go ballistic. He didn’t like that because he was looking for a fight and I wasn’t going to give it to him. I’m not your wife, dude, and shame on you if that’s the way you treat her.
Another desperate time I found an abandoned trailer house and located the owner as a resident at the Oregon State Mental Hospital. I made arrangements with his advisor to pay him rent. The place was in disrepair so the first month’s rent was free while we cleaned and sterilized (I was pregnant), coated the roof, and moved in. Every six months we coated the roof with stop-leak stuff and the landlord let us take the materials off the rent. We never charged him for the labor, because he was a nice guy forced into the hospital because of mistreatment by other members of his family, and he didn’t charge much rent in the first place. The ceiling had Rorschach style stains and grew molds in a variety of colors and dimensions. Eventually the stop-leak quit working, the trailer was just too old, and rats from the creek between our place and the neighbor’s had chewed their way through the walls. Time to leave.
Landlords have illegally entered my homes, removed my property, charged me illegal fees (I didn’t know until later), damaged my personal property, killed my animals, and verbally abused me. I’ve been in court twice asking for the court to request leniency from the landlords so I could continue to remove my belongings from the house. In both cases I was already in the process of moving, but it was taking more time than I had because I didn’t have the money for a U-Haul truck nor the folks to help, so while working full time I would fill up my 1972 Ford Econoline window van as many times as I could and make as many runs as I could in the evenings until I would drop from exhaustion. The courts gave me two weeks extra and the landlords were allowed to charge me the extra rent. I was fine with that. I just wanted to get out without them violating the possessions I still had to move. What a waste of time and money when the landlords could have given me that dignity when I asked them in the first place without involving the courts.
Times are interesting when you don’t have your own. I consider homelessness, housing, and property insecurity to be one of the major issues in our culture. Certain skills have been forgotten and rendered beneath us. Remember in The Little House on the Prairie series how Pa Ingalls built all the Ingalls family’s houses with his own hands, knew how to harvest the timber, how to make it into lumber, how to nail it together so the weather doesn’t come in? And how Ma Ingalls could make a broom from straw, and curtains from flour sacks, and rugs and quilts from the scraps of cloth left from other projects? They didn’t want for much, didn’t waste anything, and they were able to create or harvest what they needed.
You have to pay a permit fee to cut down a tree on your own property today. Flour no longer comes in cloth sacks. Clothes are bought off the rack, so no scraps, and if you want to make a quilt you can buy pre-cut pieces in a package with a set of instructions and put it together as easy as any cooking recipe. I won’t say easy as pie because a good crust is not always easy.
People need homes. A place to call their own, where they belong, that they won’t be kicked out of, that won’t be taken from them by the threat of some creditor. Housing prices are so crazy an “affordable” home costs more than a quarter million dollars. Affordable for whom? Nobody on minimum wage and feeding a family. Nobody who has student loans hanging over their heads. And who really needs a great big home with granite and marble and tile? I’ve seen some amazing documentaries of living conditions in other countries, conditions Americans would call deplorable, but the residents have what they need and are happy. They have a roof, protection from the elements, food, a way to cook, a semblance of sanitation, some water, and family.
For our musical interlude and listening pleasure today Bonnie Raitt sings us a sweet song written by Karla Bonoff about Home.
I have what I need. I have a roof that does not leak, walls that protect me from the elements, windows that open to let the air through. The woman who carries my contract is kind, lenient, and flexible. I have a little space to spread out and a small amount of privacy. I have a kitchen, electricity, and appliances to keep food and cook it with. I have my own private bathroom, a huge luxury, even if I do have to share with my two guys. The biggest luxury of all: I have running water, both kinds, hot and cold.
My perfect world would give this same small amount of security to all Americans. Many people need less than I have, and I could probably downsize, but what a luxury it feels to be able to spread out. There’s all kinds of housing out there, and sad to say much new housing is of poor quality and construction and the older quality built homes are left to rot. What a waste when people need homes.
I understand wanting more. In my little fantasy world the home I own looks nothing like my reality. But I don’t “need” that lovely mega Arts and Crafts style home with all the gleaming golden woodwork and floors and the swimming pool out back and the acreage for the cows and chickens (of course in my little fantasy world, I am able to employ all kinds of people who love me for my benevolence and would rather milk my cows and keep my home and pool clean more than anything in the world).My little fantasy world is about desire. I have what I need, though my housing security always feels tenuous doubtless because of my history of questionable housing; I still dream of the nightmarish horrors of moving, of frantically packing boxes because you have to be out today; of leaving things behind, of landlords stealing from me, of the animals they killed.
I would love for others who need a home and security to have what they need. And there I go wanting again.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I stand botanically corrected in the photo I identified last week as geraniums are actually begonias interspersed with pale green coleus, how I love learning from my readers;pure white trailing petunias; pretty pink dahlias; brilliant lemon yellow squash blossom; a red rose bud, yes, roses are still blooming in the Pacific Northwest; these dime-sized creamy white fairy star bursts I still don’t know the name of, on a vining plant; the green air underneath a lovely catalpa tree; and the beauty of the long green catalpa bean seeds; I have no idea what these trumpet shaped flowers are but I love the light cherry red of them; dew drops upon a dark red pink; a pale yellow squash, fruit of bright yellow blossoms; this magnificent unidentified magenta velvet looks like it’s giving the world the finger, I couldn’t get close enough to see what the construction of the blossom is. How much I love catching critter action, the bottom picture of this spicy bright lily has a daddy long legs spider in the blossom on the left if you look closely; bee action on a neon bright coreopsis; the paler seed head left when the petals jump ship; and the most popular yellow squash blossom on the vine, step right on up to the Pollenectar Squash Blossom Bar.
Currently Reading – The 48 Laws of Power (1998, psychology) by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers; The Dud Avocado (1958, fiction) by Elaine Dundy; The Fluoride Deception (2006, medical politics) by Christopher Bryson; How to See Yourself as You Really Are (2007, philosophy) by the Dalai Lama. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Open doors and cool evening breezes.
- Being a shameless and unapologetic auto-didact.
- Watching the joyful flight patterns of three very large hawks above my house. Nothing tasty in my yard though I would have welcomed them helping themselves to a few of the little garden snakes.
- Glorious end summer days and oblique angles of light.
- The abundance of soil and plants and flowers and seeds.
- Happening upon the final moments of a bee. He was still kicking when I took this shot.
- Different kinds of music to suit or soothe any mood.
- A 20 year old friend busy today having her first baby boy. Anxiously awaiting.
- Her mama, another friend, who is helping birth her first grandchild.
- Knowledge and truth which can never be taken from you.
- Still being able to work.
- Time for writing.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch