El albergue

El albergue

Monday, September 29, 2014

The reason for the delay

I was all set last week to pour my soul out through my fingertips, ready to explore a theme I had been turning over in my head for a few days, and then something came up that trumped pretty much everything in my life except work. Sounds important, right? I wish it was something that warranted happy smiles and maybe a shout or two of glee, but it’s mostly caused grimaces and groans on my part.

So what is this all-consuming issue?

It is the crowning glory to a lovely group of three… blood sucking parasites. Literally, blood sucking parasites. First came the lice from out of the blue a little over a year ago. Frenzied shampooing and the kindness of my brother in spending hours going through my hair strand by strand thankfully took care of those little creeps. Then there was the tick I picked up while on a hike in Australia, which my sister-in-law bravely took care of while I winced and looked away. And now, NOW, I have been hit by a plague of fleas. FLEAS!!!

The previous tenant in my new place of abode didn’t seem to think that her two indoor/outdoor cats needed much in the way of flea treatment, because there those creepy little guys are, jumping around my carpeted floor. The first week, I didn’t notice them, as I don’t think there were many. And then I saw one on my sleeve one day when I was stretching on the floor. That’s about when they started to explode in numbers. Oh goody.

My housemate thought we should try natural remedies first, so we strewed eucalyptus branches about (apparently repels them). A couple nights later, since they didn’t seem to be going away, we put a lit tea light in the middle of a bowl of soapy water, in hopes that the fleas would be attracted to the light, fall in the water, and not be able to get out. In the morning, as the dead candle listed sadly to one side in the water (which was completely corpse free), and the eucalyptus shed its dry seed pods everywhere, I moaned in disappointment at the fleas I continued to find making their home on my feet. The middle of my carpet looked like a crazy shrine to some fickle spirit that had a thing for branches and candles, and those crafty fleas were still sticking around.

Well, so much for those passive methods of flea control! The next day I happened to have the afternoon off when a coworker asked to switch shifts, so after taking care of guests at the inn in the morning, I came home to do battle. I washed every piece of bedding, throwing pillows and un-washable things in the drier to fry any flea that dared to hide on them. I took everything out of my room that I could, vacuumed every inch of carpet that I could reach (and threw away the vacuum bag!), and covered every bit of the ground in baking soda, which is supposed to kill them and destroy their eggs over a few days.

The fight isn’t over yet. I still find a couple desperate characters every day trying to escape death by poisoning by attaching themselves to my feet as I go about my daily business. Today, we’re going to vacuum again, with a chunk of flea collar in the vacuum bag to kill any and all that get sucked up, and when I go home this weekend for my grandma’s wedding, my housemate is going to treat the carpet with some stronger chemicals. 

In the mean time, I find myself scratching at phantom itches and thinking every speck of dirt is a flea coming to claim my life’s blood as its own. I’ve also been avoiding my room. Sad, I know.

Basically, I can’t wait until this is all over, and I can go back to a state of unconcerned barefootedness, the constellations of red spots all over my ankles quietly fading into distant memory.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Here we go adventuring

The native in her (now) local environment
I think one of the things I’m most excited about for this relocation of my life to Mendocino is all the possibilities for exploring nature. Coming from the dry and dusty flatlands of Central California, this wetter coastal landscape offers vistas and habitats completely different from anything I’ve ever had the opportunity to spend much time in before. Here, the ocean meets the rocky bluffs in gray crashes. Salty fog creeps inland between towering redwoods. Green greets me everywhere I turn (and we’re even in a drought right now!). A lonely lighthouse stands guard like a stolid old man. Flowers bloom profusely, even more so I’m told in spring, when the wild rhododendrons go crazy.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

The Mendocino Botanical Gardens are enough to take your breath away.

And the beach, I can’t forget the beach. Being an inlander, getting to spend an evening at a beach BBQ / bonfire I got invited to by a new friend I just met was like a dream come true. Watching the sun go down, the flames grow brighter, and the smoke drift away (or over us as the fickle winds dictated) was enough to paint a big smile on my face for days. Or what about running on the beach?! That was amazing. I joined my housemate’s community running group on Sunday, and they took me out along a broad, open waterline speckled with whitened sand dollars. I even got some homegrown pears out of the deal because one of the couples had a surplus from their tree.

Yesterday, the adventuring continued with a great hike through Russian Gulch State Park with two friends I’m getting to know. So beautiful. It put me in mind of a resolution one of my best girl friends made for her birthday this year – to go on close to an average of one hike per week for an entire year. And now I want to do that too! I’ll just have to start a log of all this lovely activity and adventure!

The redwoods of Russian Gulch were awe-inspiring.

The windy day brought a little friend down from the trees above.

This serene waterfall was a lovely end goal for the day's trek.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Well, that was quick!

Hmm. Wow. As I sit here contemplating all the things I’ve neglected writing down this past fair bit of time, I’m kind of overwhelmed. There’s so much to tell that my fingers have been baulking all day at the monumental task my brain has been trying to prepare them for the past few days. The last thing I wrote about happened a whole two months ago. TWO MONTHS!!! Did I drop off the face of the Earth? Die a tragically sudden death? Randomly decide that the internet is as evil as *they* say it is and should be avoided at all costs humanly possible?

Well… no.

A whole lot sure has been going on though. For starters, I spent two more lovely weeks in Sydney after that Tazzy trip, enjoying really great quality time with two visiting friends from back home for a little while and then just with my brother and his wife. We spent two nights at a cabin, hiked fun trails, went wine tasting, explored exciting restaurants, and had lots of hugs. Then I was welcomed back to the good ol’ US of A by my oldest brother, his wife, and their charming baby girl, a precious little thing that I got to know during the two nights I spent with them in LA.  A week in San Diego with three of my very best girl friends, and then I was back home in Shafter, unsure of what my next step was going to turn out to be.

Now this is where things get interesting.

During my year in Sydney, I decided that I wanted to get into the Hospitality sector, more specifically small inns or Bed and Breakfasts. Well, remember those friends who were visiting during my last bit in Australia? When I was telling this decision to one of them, she got really excited and burst out with the news “My godparents own a B&B in Northern California!” While I was in San Diego, she emailed her godparents to ask if they needed any help around their place, CCing me of course, and they replied that although they didn’t, they could get me the contact information of two other inns that were going to be in need of an innkeeper soon. A lot to keep track of? I know – this is what I came home to when I finally opened my email!

So I called up the two inns that were looking to hire, and after a little phone tag and mismatching of schedules, I ended up having basically a phone interview with one of them that finished off with the pleasant words “We think you’d be a really good match for us, and we’d love to meet you and have you come check out our inn.” So two weeks into my stay home, and I was heading up to Mendocino for an interview! My mom was a champ and went with me on a lightning trip – 9 hours up, sleep, one day there, sleep, 9 hours back – and by the time I was back home, I had two jobs and a place to live all lined up, ready and waiting for me to start a new life in two weeks.

I had one week of working with my dad and one week of prep, running around trying to make sure I had everything I needed. In that time my little sister was also packing up and heading off to Prague to teach English – craziness was going on in that house, let me tell you! And then it was my turn to grab my parents and make the long drive up to Mendocino from Shafter on my birthday. God bless my parents for helping me out!

Now, here I sit on my bed, in a room looking out on woods and a back yard lit up by the late afternoon sun, nearly a full week of work logged in the books. It seems all a bit surreal to tell the truth. I should leave it here though, because there’s a birthday party I’ve been invited to, and as my new roommate says, “To have the chance to meet people and make new friends in a new setting right away is a blessing.”

So, more later!