And the road goes on forever...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Piece of My Heart

Escaping the heat with our boat in tow, Marc plans to head north to Oregon tomorrow. As we drift further into the abyss of joblessness, the boat just has to go. So we are giving it back to the dealer.

It, like our bike we had to sell three shorts month ago, represents another lifestyle and another time, which now seems so foreign and far off. Now we scrimp to have money to buy groceries, utilities, fuel, vehicle maintenance and nothing else; then we had money for enjoyment, toys, and good times. I can’t look at it without remembering gently bobbing on the bay, sipping hot coffee or cold beer, while we waited out the necessary soak time for our crab pots. Reading the tide chart was a morning ritual.

If there was ever a case of a planned-for-future not working out as planned, Marc and I are living proof. Now we don’t make plans; we drift from day to day wondering where the next dollar will come from and when it doesn’t, what we will lose next.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Growing Fond of the Desert or Daft From the Heat….

It’s about as official as the Duskes can ever predict such a thing: we are more than likely going to settle in as permanent Yuma residents, better known as Yumans.

With the development and growth of my service helping seniors and my great enjoyment in doing so, I feel myself more and more reluctant to consider anything beyond Yuma. Yes, it could still be necessary for Marc to leave for a steady job, but it would take a great deal to get me out of here.

Yuma came to be by default. We hung on a little too long to a lot we intended to develop and flip for a good profit—we got torn away from it many winters and couldn’t complete the improvements in a timely fashion and then the market simply drained away. Having no great impetus to sell, why would we now at a loss? Besides, Marc spent thousands of dollars and four back and forth trips getting much of our stored goods from Bend moved here, all at tremendous effort. For better or worse, this is home, baby.

Is it just me or does aging make contemplating change more difficult? Suddenly the temptation of far-off exploration and grass is greener syndrome just doesn’t seem to hold water for me. Maybe being the consummate wanderer, I have finally seen enough. For once in my life, I am trying to appreciate the nuances of remaining static; trying to build the ties that bind one to a community in blissful contentment. I know others have done it; why has it always eluded me?

The searing heat of our desert summer doesn’t make this an easy task but perhaps it will be an enduring one. Where else do we have to go; where else do we have to be? Am I at last finding the meaning of “home”? Frankly, I’m tired of moving, tired of the transience, tired of all the money spent and frittered away that we now so desperately could use. I want to watch my plants grow, I want to see my business grow and I want to remain on my own piece of desert dirt. There’s no doubt about it; Yuma’s climate is hell on earth for about three months out of the year. But its climate is also heaven on earth for at least six months of the year. That’s more than an equitable trade I would say.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Niche during the Trying Times

The endless blue skies which so captivate us during a Yuma winter now stretch into a miserable summer. Although heat came late to Yuma this year, it is finally arriving with daily triple digits. The signature moment of transition is when even the nights no longer cool down to make for a refreshing morning. How refreshing is it to wake up to 75 degrees at 5 a.m.? My plants bake; the concrete bakes, we bake. But we have been told it is as nothing as yet; just wait for July and August.

Our days have assumed a normal that is typical with working folks, although Marc’s remodel job is drawing to a close. My service to the seniors is building, week by week, and I cling to the hope that it will get much busier when the snowbirds arrive back in town by November. It is still a pittance of the income we really need but it has brought me great joy to work with these people so I persevere. At the very least between it and the volunteering I still do, it keeps me busy, out and about meeting new people, and helps me from falling back into the glumness that has been our life for the past three-four years.

Recent news on the economy is not real encouraging either. From all indications, the US is on the verge of another trek back into recession and my brain keeps reverberating with a quote from some government official who stated “Nine percent unemployment may be the “new normal” for the next 10-15 years.” That sounds like political hedging to me—the parties getting ready to make their lame excuses, heading into election year, just as always, while we on the bottom tier bare the brunt of all the Wall Street folly. The latest speculation is for a massive stock market crash by summer’s end—if indeed it happens, again wiping out the common man’s futile attempts at building something for retirement income.

I keep telling myself, don’t despair, it’s only the summer doldrums. I have better things to do now; taking care of my seniors, all much more desperate than I. At least it appears to be a recession-proof job. When you’re old and have no one else around and you need help—you need help. They are all so thankful for my presence—it is a joy to work for them. And in turn, I am thankful to each of them; they keep me going. I keep hoping I am building something meaningful. So far it sure feels right. (Google stock photos).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nothing Like Getting Caught Up in the Drama

As most of you have probably heard by now, a disgruntled man, age 73, involved in a bad divorce decided to take it out upon people in a horrific way in Yuma today. Six people were shot, five dead. The other clings to life in Phoenix.

In a very vicarious way, I was there. You see, I was doing my Helping Hands transport with a gal that needed to see a doctor on 4th in the morning. As we were pulling up to the major intersection of 16th and 4th, cop car after cop car came screaming by with sirens blasting. As I was in the middle of the intersection on a green left turn arrow, an unmarked car with lights flashing came into the intersection from my lane—in other words, heading head on into me in the wrong direction so I slammed on my brakes to let him pass. A block later, I dropped off my lady and started to head back out on 4th to run an errand when I received a call from our coordinator at Helping Hands. It was a police emergency she said and I replied “Yeah, I appear to be right in the middle of it on 4th”. Right at that moment an ambulance was blasting towards and past me from the direction of Yuma’s core downtown. Both my transport and I had thought “Oh, very bad accident” but instead I hear the words “There is a man shooting who started in Wellton (a small town 18 miles east of Yuma) and has shot five people. He is driving a silver PT Cruiser, dressed in green so be very, very careful!”

My head went on swivel patrol as my nervous eyes scanned constantly left and right looking for silver cars. Not knowing any details until later in the day, when I picked my lady up to drive her home I took back roads, thinking it was probably safer than taking the freeway in case someone was trying to make a getaway.

The details as of now seem to suggest that at the time we were downtown; the shooter was still lose and had just finished killing people. At the time the police cars sped by me, they probably were chasing him out Hwy. 95, which is the main highway heading towards Quartzsite from Yuma, and approximately at the junction with Fortuna Rd, which is out in the Foothills where we live, they found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, saving us all the bother of a trial.

The man’s rampage lasted half a day and took in a great swath from Wellton to Yuma. What a senseless tragedy. What a day to have to go into downtown Yuma! *Jerrold Shelley, the only victim so far identified beyond the shooter, was a prominent Yuma divorce and criminal attorney.

Timeline of calls, according to the Yuma County Sheriff's Office:

5:07 a.m. - First call came in. Yuma County Sheriff's deputies respond to a residence at Avenue 22 1/2E and Highway 80, where they found one victim who had been shot. That victim was taken by air ambulance to a Phoenix hospital and is listed in critical condition

8:19 a.m. - A second victim was found at a residence near Avenue 35E and Highway 80. The victim had been killed.

9:21 a.m. - Yuma police respond to an office on 2nd Avenue, where they found the body of Jerrold Shelley.

9:43 a.m. - Deputies respond to another call at Avenue 32E and Highway 80, where two victims were killed.

10:20 a.m. - Deputies respond to Avenue 36E and Highway 80, where another victim was killed.

10:47 a.m. - Deputies respond to Blaisdell area, where they found the body of Carey Hal Dyess, 73. Dyess, who police have identified as the suspect in the killings, was killed by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

UPDATED 5:20 p.m. - The suspect in a series of shootings around Yuma County is dead, police said. Carey Hal Dyess, 73, of Yuma, apparently shot and killed one person in Yuma and four people in Yuma County before shooting himself, according to a press conference this afternoon.