Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spending some time with an old friend.

You know how once in a while you get all comfortable and settled in at home, thinking you will have some quality time all by yourself? Know the feeling? Yea! That's usually when something happens... right?? and you have a CHANGE OF PLANS.
The Prospector was getting ready for another weekend with his Mother in Stockton.
Her granddaughter/caretaker went on a vacation and he has been helping his sister, who works full time,  care for Mom until her granddaughter returned.  My MIL, Vi, broke her hip and shoulder last fall and has , at ninety years of age, had a slow recovery. He planned on going down to help out for the second weekend in a row so they wouldn't have to hire someone to be with her.
The problem was that a few weeks ago the old guy did a bit too much work on some projects around here, hurt his back and pinched a nerve. It was getting better but he went down to his Mom's last weekend and did some yard work for her. That's when he did some further damage.   He even decided to go to the doctor last week because he was hurtin' so badly. He couldn't sit, lie down, or get up easily and he was IN PAIN.  
 The doctor told him he had a pinched nerve and needed to take it easy. SURE! This is like telling a mountain lion not to eat the live rabbit in front of him, telling a fish not to swim or a chicken not to lay an egg. My husband is not one to sit still or take orders but the PAIN was speaking to him loudly....  like a Sergeant in boot camp. He was HURTIN'.
So by Thursday night I realized that even driving down to Stockton, about an hour away, was going to be difficult for him so.......
I volunteered to go down their myself.
That's when I knew he was really in bad shape. He never turns away when it comes to his mother so I knew this was serious PAIN.
Friday, I packed my bags, said goodbye to the animals, gave the Prospector a kiss and left the farm for a few days. 
I have to say that my Mother-in-law has always been really good to me. From the first day I met her, until now, she has always treated me with respect and love. We have a good relationship and that's not been easy for us sometimes. We are very different people. But we keep our differences to ourselves. 
I learned, early on, that your don't throw anything away that can be use again and that if you can keep walking until you're well into your 80's you will live, almost illness free, to your 90's.... and maybe beyond.  Forty years ago she taught me how to soak and wash diapers, use a pressure cooker and make Borscht from a can of beets. 
Now, she doesn't cook anything. She sits a lot, and doesn't like getting old. She says that she doesn't know how she fell and broke her hip but she's determined to get well and on her feet again... without a walker.
So I spent the weekend with my Mother-in-law. We talked a lot. We took naps. I knitted. She watched TV. She can't read books anymore. She says she can't remember what she reads. Her memory is not so good now and she gets confused easily. 
On Saturday we went for a ride. I had a CD of Rod Stewart's in the CD player. It's a disc of him singing old songs from the 40's. She loved the songs..... IT HAD TO BE YOU*, I'LL BE SEEING YOU*, MOONGLOW* and THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT*. She was singing along to the music. She knew all the words to these songs. They were the songs of her youth. She danced to these songs.
We drove out to highway 5 and then turned off on Eight Mile Rd. We drove west out into the Delta. This is the  flat watery land that many of the rivers in Northern California finally run down through, out to the San Francisco Bay and into the Pacific Ocean. 
We drove out on the levy roads that cross from one island to another, with marinas and farms in between. 
The weather was nice. Later in the day a strong wind blew clouds in, bringing rain that night but while we were out driving it was really nice.
 We turned off of the highway, drove west past a huge shopping center, a very upscale housing area and a golf course. This is all very new. There use to be nothing but farm land out here but Stockton keeps expanding in all directions. 
We drove out to the second bridge. past a huge nursery. The sign said Atherton Rd and West Eight Mile Rd. The map said Bacon Island Rd.
The resort is the King Island Resort and I thought I saw a trend here. A lot of HOUSE BOATS. Folks are living out here. These were not just pleasure crafts... many of them were being lived in and I think that it wouldn't be a bad place to live.  I would imagine that some folks live out here because they choose to live a lifestyle that isn't about "keeping up with the Jones". Some by choice and some because this is what they can afford. I, personally, think that this is a good way to live. Simple and without ostentation.
The people were friendly.... many were walking their dogs, visiting with each other and enjoying the sunny weather.
Some had gardens and houses on the inside of the levee road.... that's the side that is not water. It's the island side or the area that the levees protect.  This is some of the best farm land in the world because of the Peat dirt that was formed by the old tidal marshes. There are five rivers that feed into this river delta: The Sacramento, San Joaquin, American, Mokelumne and the Calaveras all end up here. You can read more about the Delta HERE.
The Levee System is old and there is the constant worry of levee failure throughout the area.
It has it's own quiet beauty....
IT was very relaxing being on the water.
Then I spotted something....
This cute little house boat. It was across the slough, up against a marshy area. It didn't look like the rest of the houseboats. It looked handmade. 
OK! I could live in this little place. This was very cool. No one was living in it.  It was EMPTY! How could that be?
It was just waiting for us.... the perfect little summer cottage on Bacon Island Slough. What fun!  A row boat would be needed to get over there but it's a very short distance and .... well, can't you just see it with a few hanging flower pots, some lace curtains in the windows and some chairs under the lattice overhangs. This all flashed before my eyes. The PERFECT SUMMER COTTAGE in the DELTA. Fishing, boating, two Corgis and (believe it or not) ELECTRICITY. 
There was no "for sale" sign. I may have to go online and check it out . Maybe it's just waiting for someone. Maybe it's waiting for US.
My mother-in-law waved at people as we drove to the end of the road , turned around and headed back to Eight Mile Rd. We saw this huge vine growing on something. It had completely covered what ever was underneath it. The vine looked like a yellow trumpet vine. I didn't know they came with yellow flowers so maybe it's a different kind of vine. It was beautiful and interesting.
We left the little community on the water, drove back to Stockton and picked up a few things. Vi kept saying that she hadn't been out in such a long time and she really enjoyed driving around.
Before we went shopping, I took her to Jamba Juice for a fresh fruit smoothie with bananas and granola. She had never been there before. She spotted a cheese roll that looked good so we bought that too. This is a woman that doesn't eat much at all, but she sure liked that cheese roll.She ate most of it. 
  Then we stopped at Walgreen's and Beverley Fabrics. I told her she could wait in the car while I got some things but she wanted to come in with me. She got on that walker and out-walked me in both stores. 
That night, when her daughter came home from work, we went out to dinner.... Chinese food that was really good. She was still going strong. I was the one that was tired. We slept very well. She said that she slept better than she usually does. Must have been the fresh Delta air and the smoothie.
On Sunday I waited until her granddaughter got home, in the late afternoon, and then I drove back up to the farm. The storm that had blown in during the night was going full force on the highway. It was kind of scary. 
I hit a storm cell on the highway. It was so strong that people were pulling off the road because you couldn't see through the windows. The wipers were useless.
The rain turned to hail and then to slushy rain. It was intense for about 4 or 5 minutes. Then I got beyond the big, black cloud and found my turn off. The rain stopped and as I drove on over to highway 99 and up the highway to Jackson, I stopped to stretch and took these photos of the storm I had just passed through.
IT was a beautiful sight but I was glad I was ahead of it. 
When I got home I just got settled in when the storm hit us. The black cloud came right over us and it gave quite a display of  thunder and lightening with hail. I was glad I was home... and safe.
The Prospector was glad I was home too. He was feeling better and was very grateful that I went down there for him. I said I didn't mind at all. It was fun. 
"I got to spend some time with a lady who still find enjoyment in small things. When we were leaving the Delta we stopped so I could take some pictures and I picked her some Queen Anne's Lace that was blooming on the side of the road. She brought it home and put it in a lovely little vase on the kitchen sink. She would look at it and say, " It's beautiful isn't it? She noticed how each of the smaller flowers seemed to be surrounding the big one in the middle and the small ones seemed a little different. They looked different but they were the same flower. She noticed this. She saw the beauty of this lovely wildflower. She said that there must be a great force at work in this world that makes something so beautiful. She's not religious..... but we talked about those things that man can't make.... like that wildflower. We talked about life and a lot of things. It was a good visit. 
When I drove away she was standing at the window waving at me. She has never done that before. I think I need to go down more often. 
It was a very good visit.....



  1. Not sure who benefited the most from your visit! Sounds like Vi needed to get out and see new sights with someone she could share the beauty. Lovely story...

    I've heard of people scaling down and living on the water in houseboats and this one is waiting for you. Go for it!

  2. I hope your husband is better and able to get some work done. Your visit with your mother-in-law was fun sounds like you had a good time. All the pictures are great. Glad you made it home safe. Thank you for your visit to my blog. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  3. this was a convergence
    of love
    what a fine day you two had
    you gave her a slice of breathing life
    a day of wandering and meandering
    oh joy Farmlady
    hope the boat cabin is yousr soon
    and yes it does need a few hanging baskets
    God bless your giving loving heart
    and yes I do know that feeling you spoke of in the beginning of your post
    had one yesterday

  4. It sounds like the memory of that weekend will be one you both treasure for a long time to come. Blessings in disguise.....

  5. Connie your words and beautiful pictures shows me just what a wonderful time you had with your MIL. Glad you could go and your Prospector could rest this time.

  6. It sounds like this weekend was meant to be. You and your mother-in-law both had love and "gifts" to share with each other. Truely wonderful.

    I have that CD, and I can picture her humming along. (Rod has the perfect voice for those tunes)

  7. I am absolutely worn out reading your story. Very nicely done. I could never write that much. I realize it is not always easy, but under the circumstances you should definitely go back and let the dear lady enjoy your company and outings. I would hope someone would be that kind to me when I get her age. I am not too far away.

  8. Let me know what you find out about that houseboat--maybe we could go in halfsies! And for GAWD sake--stop taking pictures while you drive in the rain! Thanks for taking me along on your trip!

  9. I love the idea of that houseboat, too!
    Sounds like a very nice weekend, despite the challenges. I have all of those Rod Stewart CD's where he sings the old standards and I love them. I know all the words, too- and I'm a bit younger than your mother-in-law. :)
    I was driving home from Placerville on Sunday, and between El Dorado and Plymouth I hit the WORST patch of weather I have had the bad luck to drive through in YEARS. I seriously considered turning around and heading back to my sister's house, fearing I would be driving in it all the way home! There was thunder and lightning and a major hailstorm which quickly covered the road and made it into a slippery icy slushy dangerous mess. Aarrgghhh! I slowed WAY down, and, thankfully it was just a patch of bad weather in that one area - as all the rest of the way home, the roads were clear and dry, with barely a sprinkle of rain here and there.
    (Sorry for such along comment!)

  10. These kinds of days are the ones that keep us all going...for you, to notice her, noticing all the beauty, is of great importance. You are both blessed and beautiful! All creatures great and small hey? Love the storm pictures...I can see how the drive home was introspective for you.


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