Reinterpreted: a backwards glance into the life of Rider South

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Tonight I believe I experienced true humility. I expected a good story; the truth about a man who had an unusual life experience. What I discovered was a great understanding of the intricacies of living life.

Rider South, now 79, is the son of the famed Marshal South who was best known for his the chronicles of his primitive desert living experiment with his family that lasted 17 years starting in 1930. Now living in The Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico, Rider agreed to do a 10-day tour with Diana Lindsey, arranged by Sunbelt Publications, talking about his story on the mountain, which included a return visit to Ghost Mountain. The last stop of the tour was San Diego History Center.

Diana Lindsey, probably the foremost expert on the history of the Anza-Borrego, set the stage by telling the story of Marshal South and his life as a poet, novelist, journalist, potter, homesteader, founder of a local militia, and admirer of women. The stories were above and beyond the history that I knew and had read. Diana painted the picture of a man who sought attention for his passions but quit as soon as his work reached popular demand for fear of it becoming a “job.” He was creative, independent, stubborn, and self-serving.

As Rider took the mic, it was easy to see that he had not inherited most of his father’s traits. He seemed apprehensive even though this was this final time he had to speak. His descriptions of his life and experiences felt distanced from any emotion of his life in the desert. When asked to describe his his return to Ghost Mountain, he described the difficulty of the trail at 79 compared with his youth as well the change of landscape. When asked about whether he felt jealous of other kids upon seeing them in books with houses and appliances, he merely responded… they were just books and other people’s lives. He spoke of returning to civilization and graduating from Point Loma High School as if it were just another day. Rider married the love of his life, Lucile, late in life (she was 68) although he followed her everywhere her path would lead. Last year, she passed away at 100 and 1/2. She was an inspiration in her own right.

After the talk, I had the privilege to meet Rider. We spoke of his miniature poodle, Suzy, who watches him fall asleep every night. He shared how he likes the dry weather of New Mexico and how his town has one of every store he needs, just enough. I learned his brother and sister now live in the rainy northwest and how his grandchildren are spread far and wide. He gushed over our store associate who gave him a postcard after he had inquired the price. He had never heard of a postcard that cost $1.60… He remembers when they cost a penny, and that included the stamp! This simple gesture of kindness he will forever remember.

Self-conscious of his age and the consequences of aging, he expressed his travel frustrations when his friend told him he was too old to drive the trip from New Mexico to San Diego.

“I’m so old!” He exclaimed to me as he picked up a painting his father had painted of him as a child on the mountain. But youth has not escaped him. It was reflected in his eyes when he received the postcard. It could be seen as he spoke about the things that mattered most to him, right now. And, you know what… It wasn’t his father, nor any of the years he spent on that mountain. That was the past. They could stay there. It was his dog, his wife and his simple life in a place that had just enough. Just enough.

Image of Rider South from East County Magazine

Finding Balance… It’s All Happening!

balanceI am constantly looking for ways to keep my life in balance. When I finally feel like work is under control, finding time for working out becomes an issue. And what about writing, reading and making art. And I can’t possibly forget to spend time with family, friends and my husband. I miss going camping or even the occasional hike.

More time always seems like the best solution. There is no way I’m getting up at 5 a.m. to squeeze in more time like Margaret Thatcher and Frank Lloyd Wright. And multitasking has proven to burn the brain since it is really only switching back and forth between things rapidly.

The way I attempt to find balance is by looking at my life in bite sized pieces and press forward in making things happen. I don’t give up on anything and I don’t really want to trim back. Every week I look at my schedule and add in times I can get to the gym or taking a run. I try to read nightly before I go to bed. I plan to add writing back into the mix starting now. I try to write at least two letters or postcards per week (I managed to send one 23 out of the 31 days in July during my challenge). I still need to work on carving out time for camping, vacations, friends and family. Oh, and this blogging stuff.

The hardest time about finding balance is that you actually have to work at it. It is easy to become complacent and fall into a rut of watching movies and staring at your computer screen watching the social media streams flow by. And sometimes you just need to celebrate your successes. Every time I get down about the things I haven’t done, I try to think about the things that I have done… like this year alone I have written more short stories than any other year and read more books than any year since college. We went to Palm Springs and Cambria. I started working at a place I absolutely love. I also feel more connected to my friends and community than ever. Things are happening. I made them happen. And you can too.

Writing for Smiles

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This has been a year of writing for me. For the first couple months of this year, I was writing a short story a week. One of my short stories won second place in San Diego Writer’s Ink‘s Fahrenheit 451 contest. The story, “Paper Heart” was then read on stage by a professional actress from Write Out Loud. Just this month, I participated in San Diego Writer’s Ink’s fundraising event, Blazing Laptops Write-a-thon where I wrote four short stories about my grandfather’s life in nine hours AND raised $300 for the organization.

As this year’s track record seems to indicate (as well as the successes of some of my previous projects like my “What I Learned Today…” series and  NaNoWriMo), I tend to accomplish more in small doses with small goals. I’m still a vegetarian after two years after challenging myself to try it for one week. So I have set myself yet another goal for this year. In July, I will be writing and sending at least one letter or postcard a day to friends and family.

I have always enjoyed writing letters. In middle school, high school, and even college I had various pen pals. Sometimes I would write quick stories, other times I just write what comes to mind. I truthfully miss it. Plus there was the added bonus that sometimes people would write  back.

What I really want to do is build habits and bring smiles to others. If you want me to send you something, send me an email, DM, PM, leave a comment below, or even send me a letter. Like all my other projects, I will continue as long as I don’t get distracted, but I will for sure last the month. Based on my number of contacts, I could probably continue for almost a year before having to repeat. Yeesh!

Poll: Which design would you wear?

Happy birthday to me! Next week is my birthday and I seem to be starting a tradition. Last year we silk screened shirts at my birthday party for the most amazing theme ever: Put A Bird On It. And birds were put on things… 32 items were screened! This was the most popular of the two designs I created.

Owl

This year’s theme makes me think of my horrible fashion choices in the 80’s but represents so much more: My Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades. Once again, we will be silk screening t-shirts (or any item people want screened) but this time for a donation to Classics 4 Kids, dedicated to educating children through the music and the arts.

If you can’t make the party, we can still screen you an item. Just text, email or DM me and we will figure it out.

Help me decide this year’s design. We will only do one design, but in two different colors. Pick a design you would wear. We will be burning the screen this weekend, so make sure you have a say. Even if you won’t be there and don’t plan to get a shirt, do the poll. Admit it, polls are fun.

Shades

Short Story: Instincts

This year is starting out great in terms of writing. Thanks to a writing class from San Diego Writer’s Ink, I’ve been keeping up a pace of one story per week so far. I plan to submit my more polished stories, so many of the great ones you won’t be seeing here. But some of the shorter ones, I will post, as there is not much of a market for them. So here is a shortie that I hope you enjoy!

Instincts

She saw the car coming from 100 feet away. Following the path hundreds of people made each day across the asphalt divide, today she crossed alone. The cars will stop, they always do. Her strides kept on pace as she reached the halfway point.

Her eyes stayed on the car as it made the turn in her direction. “The driver has to see me now.” she thought as the blue sedan careered toward her. Mere feet from her, the car maintained its speed. Instincts took hold. Rather than sprinting the 4 feet left to the curb, her brain gave her the next logical choice. Crouched down in attempt to save her fur, she managed to cry out as the car continued along its path.

Feeling a bump, the driver looked back in the rear view mirror to see a small carcass flattened in his wake. Remorse hit him for a moment, until he realized he was late for work.

Four = I love you even more

Thomas wildwest

Three into four. The transition ever so slight but the signs all point in one direction: the boy is growing up. The toddler is gone and what is left is a little boy with loads of opinions and a fresh perspective to boot. This year, I decided to ask him a few questions to track over the years (if I can keep it going) so here is what I found:

  • What do you want to be when you grow up? a trash truck man
  • Favorite color: blue and gold
  • Favorite food: quesadilla
  • Favorite super hero: Iron Man, no… Batman, no… Iron Man AND Batman
  • Favorite book: Tickle Monster
  • Best friend: Theo
  • Where to you want to go to visit out of anywhere in the world? the dump
  • Favorite movie/show to watch: Power Ranger Samurai
  • What does it mean to be 4? What can you do know that you couldn’t before? I’m stronger.

Some of our favorite moments of the year:

  • Requests for the “chicken in the pot” song (“What I Like about You” by The Romantics. See the movie, Surf’s Up).
  • Your love for slap stick comedy. Actually we’ve caught him doing prat falls.
  • Incredible improv skills. Throwing an invisible bomb around the kitchen.
  • Attempts at knock knock jokes: “Knock Knock.” “Who’s there?” “Sandwich.” “Sandwich who?” “Sandwich and I’ll tell you.”
  • Your empathy.
  • Your ever steadying hand as you learn to trace and write letters, numbers and other shapes.
  • Your ability to involve yourself in conversions with kids and adults of all ages, yet still clam up when it comes to talking on the phone.
  • The words of wisdom that come from your lips. Today’s nugget? They do what they do.
  • New freckles appearing each day.
  • Nightly hugs, kisses and squeezes.

I know each year you become more and more your own. We will continue to love and support you (and your loves) every day. You do what you do and you will be amazing.

Back on track

Toucans (mine and the boy’s)

I never looked forward to daylight saving time ending until this year. I usually dread the dark evening hours and the chilly nights. But every morning for the past month has been a fight to wake up. And not just with my own body. The boy has been late to school almost everyday. And he hates being late.

Beyond that, I still hadn’t adjusted to the new schedule with my new job and the addition of driving Thomas to and from school each day. Personal time was no where to be found. This weekend may have just been the thing to kick-start me back into the world.

After chatting with Roger about my stress and lack of me time, he granted my wish. This weekend I painted, I took a writing class, I organized my stories for submitting to publishers, and I started a new short story. And look, I’m blogging!

I have seen the light. I will never again complain about turning back the clocks. One extra hour means the world, and I’m not sure if I will be as keen this year to make the switch back. But perhaps the time alterations are just the motivation I need to rediscover me… over and over and over again.