Personal Life Update

Kept awake by allergies so I thought I’d brief a little on my personal life.

A bit anxious over whether or not I’ll still be able to get insurance first of all, considering I have several things on the preexisting conditions list.  Luckily the fight isn’t over.

The kitten I got a little more than two months ago has really made herself at home. She’s incredibly feisty and bites often, gets into all kinds of trouble, and keeps us awake at night. But she’s also the kind of cat you can scoop up and hug and scratch without having to be too gentle, and she sure does appreciate the attention!  Her rough style of play gets a little crazy though; she has taken a liking to being tossed none too gently across the room to land on the bed. I swear to you, she’s​ purring LOUDLY after you toss her a few times, and she’ll come right up to you wanting another turn. I’ve never had a cat who enjoyed playing so rough.  We’re still careful not to hurt her or throw her too hard or against any hard surfaces, and we leave her alone when she stops enjoying herself. She has a tendency to bite the fire out of you if you make her even slightly uncomfortable so it’s very easy to tell when play time is over.

She’s also an excellent jumper. We’ve measured her maximum leap at close to five feet straight in the air.  Her favorite toy is a blue shoestring and her favorite game is jumping high in the air to grab it. She’s very athletic and graceful. The down side is that there’s hardly a surface in the whole apartment she can’t get to now.

My writing is going extremely well.  That long and terribly involved SF novel I’m working on is nearing completion at a blistering pace. At this rate I should think I’ll have a polished draft ready for my proofreaders by mid-June.  Then, mercifully, maybe I can put SF aside for a while and put my energy into historical fiction.  I don’t think I can abandon SF completely but it’s good to try new things.

Provided I don’t die of a preventable disease or the current dictatorship doesn’t decide to make an example of me for some reason, I’ll be fine.

Photos from the Seven Grey Foxes

My photos from my 2015 stay at the Seven Grey Foxes, the B&B run by the late Anne Dick in Point Reyes Station.  It is the exact same house where Philip K. Dick lived when he wrote “Man in the High Castle,” “Dr. Bloodmoney,” “Time out of Joint,” and a whole slew of other classics but it’s also the site of one of his nastiest divorces.

I didn’t have any clear memories while I was staying there, and the day I arrived I felt no sense of familiarity except for a small knoll some distance behind the house which, once upon a time, Phil’s writing hovel had once been located.  I had some hunches about the place, some correct and some unconfirmed, but nothing conclusive.

I found that many of the online reviews complaining of harsh chemical smells that made breathing difficult and a large number of spiders were true, but I couldn’t bring myself to comment on that at the time.

The morning after I woke from my first night in the place, I got up early.  The birds were singing- so many different kinds of birds!- and a deer was browsing by one of the trees.  Later that evening, my husband and I had dinner on the balcony and listened to coyotes howl.

In all there were only a few spots in Point Reyes station that felt familiar, mostly along the roads.  The rest of it was simply having an uncanny sense of direction for the place with no clear memory of having been there.  But the memories I made while I was there are fresh and new, and I found a new favorite spot to vacation.  I imagine the Seven Grey Foxes will probably close now but there are other B&B and vacation rental properties in the area.

I’ll be back.  I’m sure of it.   I stopped briefly in Point Reyes Station last year, when I went down to Santa Cruz and drove my new roommate up the coast the long way.  A place like that stays with you.

Here are the photos I didn’t share from the B&B itself.

 

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From the driveway.

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The patio, looking back toward the house where the hovel once stood.

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Inside our suite which I felt hadn’t been there originally, or hadn’t originally been a living space in Phil’s time.  I have yet to confirm this.

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Lots of lovely deer in Point Reyes Station!

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The house visible in this photo is about where the hovel once was. I later confirmed this.  The bright pink cruciform lens flare in the bottom left corner is rather interesting and I hadn’t noticed it before!

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The fence along Mesa Drive.  It occurred to me that 50 years of tree and vegetation growth might have made the place less recognizable.

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A very aesthetic view of the sadly dilapidated shed and the field that had once had sheep and horses.

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The house itself.  I suspected (and later confirmed through old images) that it had been repainted but apart from that, it’s about the same as it ever was!

I can only hope Tandy and Laura take good care of the place and don’t sell it to someone looking to make a tourist trap out of it.  The house deserves to be a quiet, out-of-the-way spot like it always was and Anne’s B&B was actually a well-kept secret, even among Phil’s fans.  On the other hand, that property is probably worth millions and, well, I can’t blame them if they have to sell.  I just hope that not only the house, but its relative isolation will be preserved.  I want others to hear the birds in the morning like I did.

 

Farewell, Anne.

Anne R. Dick, with whom I spoke briefly and in whose home (a B&B called the Seven Grey Foxes) I stayed in June 2015, has passed away.  She died at her computer on Friday, still working on her latest manuscript.

I did not disclose at the time that I had stayed at the house or what I had seen there, for her privacy and because the reasons for my trip made that a sensitive matter.  I did see briefly, through a window, that she was on some sort of ventilator or oxygen machine and I knew she was unwell.

I cried a little as I drove away the day I went back to Oregon.  I felt like Odysseus, come again to my Ithaca in disguise, and nobody recognized me.  Nor could I tell her who I was; she wouldn’t have believed me in a billion years, if she’s anything like the person I think I remember.  I knew that the faint glimpse of those oxygen bubbles filtering through that machine in my rearview mirror were going to be the last I ever saw of her.

My husband (then my fiance) said that he had seen his grandmother on an oxygen machine like that a very short time before she died.  I think the fact that she held on for as long as she did speaks to the pugnacious sort of person she was, full of life and plans for the future even in her last years.

In a weird coincidence, or synchronicity, or something, I read this news just as I was listening to a recording of Bach’s Cantata 140.  I suppose it bodes well for wherever she’s found herself beyond this life.

For me, I’m feeling odd… not sure how I should feel or if I should let myself be as upset as I actually am.  I still struggle with whether or not to take full ownership of these memories or feelings.

I need a day or two to sort this out I think.  I thought I was more or less over this baggage.

Sounds Familiar!

I heard this song on the radio today (the classical station in Portland plays a pretty good variety) and it sounded incredibly familiar.  The problem is, Stephen Foster’s music is so evergreen and so well-known throughout the English speaking world that I can’t place when or where I’d heard it before.  I don’t think I’ve heard it in this life but I could be wrong.  But even if I hadn’t, it could pretty much have been any life in the last 150 years.

Music like this isn’t so much a sign post as a layer of continuity, I think.  Music that has been preserved and is still performed with reasonable frequency is a great way to stay connected to the past.