Roll into Ojai about 3pm. GPS is amazing tool. Look to my left and spot Michaele on the sidewalk. She sees me at the same moment, waving from truck. We smile and greet. Nice to see a friendly face. All grown up at 40. Last I saw her she was 17 klunking across the floor in Doc Marten boots. Her teenager angst drove me up the wall. Now she’s a beautiful woman, no longer rambling nonsense (now it's me rambling nonsense!) Checking driveway I see immediately a problem. I do not have required backing skills for such a tight operation. The driveway’s 12’ narrow with plenty of length. An oak and pine tree on one side and a telephone pole the other. After crunching the AC at gas station I don’t even want to try it. The neighbor happened out and we start out with a few niceties. She has an RV in driveway and mentions her husband drives big rigs and heavy equipment. Nothing to lose so I ask her if he might back my RV into driveway. She says she'll get back to me. Otherwise I may have to find a campground to park. I leave RV on street and Michaele gives a tour of her mothers home. Has the comfortable feel of country cottage, same as her home on Seattles' Queen Anne Hill. Gigantic oak tree with arms 60 feet long twisting and winding reaching out and up towards the sky. A decorative brick paved walk to porch. Stucco with wood windows and doors. Inside is homey with brick fireplace. 5 cats! Kitchen, small and it works. Backyard has a central pond with fountain, bird feeders, and abundant plants. A nice size lot. A building in back size of a double car garage. A bit rough but Michaele is happily living there, bohemian style!
I get a call from neighbor. Her husband’s home. His name is Danny. Friendly blue collar type of guy. Scopes out the situation and after some talk we get down to business. His son helps to stop traffic as Danny very deftly guides the 28’ rig through a space with no more than 2 feet on each side. I thank him profusely and leave a case of Coors Light (his brew of choice) at front gate. Michaele and I meet Sylvia at a cool restaurant called Deer Lodge. We have a few appetizers and chat for an hour. It's like 10 years was 10 minutes. Sylvia looks the same. On the other hand, I’ve started a belly, wrinkling and sagging. Cool thing about Sylvia is these cosmetic things don’t seem to matter. Down to earth, unconventional and practical as can be, some of her viewpoints are surprising. A bit unpredictable. When she took a job teaching fashion illustration in Saudi Arabia I go “WHAAA?” She’s living in a secured encampment for foreigners teaching at private women's college level. Teaching young Saudi women figure drawing! How is that possible? Drawing human figure is against Muslim Sharif Law. I guess it’s ok to draw just a head, or just a body, but not a head with a body. She’s limited where and when she can go. She wears head cover and is not allowed to drive. She's used personal finances to make a cat rescue center at encampment. So far, 125 cats have been spayed or nuetered and are cared for on a daily basis. Sylvias an inspirational person. A bus picks her up, takes her to school, and drops her back home. Once you get to know the Saudi people she says, makes her realize how much we’re really the same. Men dress in shorts and t-shirts, like American counter parts. No alcohol is allowed in Saudi Arabia. Not even wine. Women dress elegantly and sexy most of the time, at home and beneath cloaks in public. Men are allowed up to 4 wives (with 4 wives maybe then men could be faithful).
In my opinion our own human nature is what we have to be afraid of. Somehow we are struggling against our better and worst selves. You can find that struggle in oneself.
My tarot reading this morning says “come out of your shell and express inner thoughts. Make sure your life’s tasks are big enough and worthy of the energy you bring to them.” It's nice to have the freedom to say what you want (well, you may lose your job)
1/1/2016 New year has come. Good bye 2015. I’m here for another 4 nights, exploring area during day. Hiked with dogs a rocky trail up through Rice Canyon to Kennedy Ridge. Met a woman on horseback and a guy on mountain bike. Ojai is a town split clearly in two. Clean stucco walls mimic ones of the old country; Spain. The shops in downtown are truly unique. Corporate franchises not allowed downtown. The other Ojai is earthy, hippie, and blue collar. Michaele calls it ghetto as a term of endearment.
We visit Ojai Sunday Market where one may find the best and freshest produce I've ever seen. I have a hankering for beets; tomatoes look splendid; I indulge. Not many crafts offered; a farmers market.
Ojai is serious about being local and different. Lots of oak trees situated along multi-canyons.
Gotta nasty cold and it’s hampering activities. Dipping to 30’s at night. Colder than usual I’m told.
Sylvia took me to one of her favorite spots; Meditation Mount. Follow a short trail, lined with beautiful trees, shrubs, and cactus. The ridge leads out to an overlook viewpoint to take in the spectacular view of canyon with Ojai in distance. The valley is lined with citrus farms. This is a spiritual retreat where people come to meditate. The following day we go to Taft Gardens and Nature Center, a privately owned non-profit garden retreat. Tucked away and kind of hidden. Amazingly Awesome. Breathtaking. Operated by the Tafts who live in splendor on a ridge close by.
Its fuller and more plant abundant than most botanical gardens I've been to. We had the whole place to ourselves on a sun dappled afternoon. Colors and textures to delight the eye. Several deer in the garden continued grazing while we strolled by.Got a load of great pics.
We had a light lunch at Lennons in Meiners Oaks.
Saying goodbye to Sylvia and Michaele on Wednesday.
Going to Ventura and have RV tended to. Then head up California coast on 101.
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