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Slow and getting slower

It’s hard for me to believe, but I have been post-employed for more than a week now. It seems that I have been quite busy, but looking back it’s actually difficult to recall how I have been spending my time.

The first several days felt like being on vacation, of the “stay-cation” variety. I slept. I slept a lot. For years I have used two alarms; the first one is happy music selected randomly by my iPod and the second, five minutes later, is a more strident buzzer alarm. Within the first few days I somehow accidentally deleted the music alarm completely. Last night I decided to turn off the buzzer alarm. I slept quite late this morning.

I’ve run a couple of times over the past week, but nothing too strenuous. I just can’t get excited about getting up at the crack of dawn, and later in the day it’s too warm and I get lazy. I’ve tried running in the late afternoons, using the local high school track after the sun has gone behind the mountain. That has worked all right and I’ve appreciated not having to be out on the streets in afternoon traffic. But let’s face it, running around a track is almost as boring as running on a treadmill!

So I’ve decided to be good to myself and let myself sleep and rest as much as I apparently need to do in this in-between time in my life. I plan to head northward back home before the end of the month, but I still have things I need to do here — getting rid of stuff and packing and shipping those things that I still want to keep. I’ll get busy doing that soon enough. Right now is about resting and de-toxing, and letting myself be OK with resting and de-toxing.

I haven’t been completely idle. I did a half-day trip around the Salton Sea, and managed to see both interesting wildlife and famous architecture! I enountered half a dozen white-faced ibises together in a marshy field — I’d only seen one white-faced ibis before in my entire life. Despite their name, they are decidedly brown birds.

At the recently-restored North Shore Yacht Club (an Albert Frey designed building at a long-defunct Salton Sea resort) I was thrilled to see two of my favorite things — white pelicans and mid-century modern architecture — in such close proximity that I was able to capture them in one photograph!

I’ve also had my first-ever date shake. I hated dates as a child but I decided to be daring and now I’m wondering how I allowed myself to miss out on this wonderful experience for so long! I highly recommend Windmill Market in Desert Hot Springs (featured in the current Sunset magazine as the home of the “best date shake in the desert”). The place doesn’t look great from the street but yes, the shakes really are that good.

I tried a little hiking on the trails leading from downtown PS straight up the mountain slopes, but the terrain was extremely steep and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable up there. This afternoon I visited Thousand Palms Oasis and hiked a short, flat trail from there to McCallum Pond. Native palm oases are an experience not to be missed! These oases sit directly atop the San Andreas Fault at a location where groundwater is forced to the surface. They are cool, dense havens for wildlife, which are generally heard but not seen amidst the thick trees. At one place in McCallum Pond I could literally see water bubbling up from the pond bottom, which is a little weird when you contemplate the tectonic forces that create this outwardly peaceful place.

Maybe that’s a good metaphor for me right now. I’m outwardly calm (much calmer than a couple of weeks ago) but there are all sorts of forces coming to the surface within me. I’m beginning to realize that all that stuff about “creating a new life” is real and urgently present for me, right now. While I have a lot of thinking and being and doing ahead of me, I also need to let myself slow down and become open to whatever emerges. I’m not so sure that I know who I am right now. My work, right now, is to become comfortable with that not-knowing.

Perhaps I shall become a Slow Happy Human.

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PS Modernism Week: Raymond Loewy House

Dad… this one is for you.

Today, for my last tour of Modernism Week, it was my pleasure to tour the Raymond Loewy House, designed by Albert Frey in 1946 for the industrial designer Ray Loewy. Although Loewy designed everything from locomotives to corporate logos over his long career, he is perhaps best remembered for his iconic designs for Studebaker: the early 50s Starliner and the early 60s Avanti. Today’s tour was graced by the presence of two of these cars, a 1954 Regal Commander Starliner and a 1963 Avanti.

So Dad, here is my question. I know that you had a “yellow and green” Studebaker. The car I saw today was “Ontario Blue over Safford Cream.” The creamy yellow looked right but the “blue” did not look like the “green” that I think I remember. So is this a different two-tone combination from your car? (I know you won’t comment here, so we’ll have to discuss this on the phone sometime…)

Here is a closer shot of the roof, and it does look very blue here under the blue sky. I love the reflection of the palm tree in this photo.

There was a lrage crowd around the Avanti, so I didn’t try to photograph it, but I did catch a shot of this very appropriate license plate:

But enough about cars, let’s move on to the house!

I was excited to see this house for several reasons. It is another Albert Frey design… and I think I have a bit of a crush on Albert Frey right now. It’s in largely orginal condition, although components have been refurbished over the years. The current owner has lived there 27 years, and although he never described the connection, I have a feeling he may have obtained (inherited?) it directly from Ray Loewy. But the most compelling attraction for me was the fact that there is an iconic Julius Shulman photo of the pool at this house. I have a print of it hanging on my dining room wall here in my condo. It was one of the images that finally helped Kurt sell me on the idea of being here. I wasn’t able to duplicate the exact angle, nor did the morning light resemble the afternoon light captured in Shulman’s photo, but this almost captures the essence. Notice how the living room “wall” slides over the pool:

Here I am standing several feet out from the house, looking across the pool toward the bedroom wing. I love the shadows on the water:

One more shot of the pool now looking back toward the living room. Do you get the feeling that I really love this pool? You’re right.

The dining room was an unexpected contrast to the usual straight, horizontal lines of modern architecture — it is round! And bathed in glorious sunlight.

Here is a closeup of those fabulous windows:

Did I mention that I really love the shadows at this house?

Or the way the palm trees interact with the portico (without needing to “imitate” anything but simply be what they are)?

Overall, the house is a simple, modest, graceful design that sits lightly in its boulder-strewn hillside setting:

I like these small, jewel-like, human-scaled houses much better than the super-sized spectacles. The Ray Loewy House was the perfect “dessert course” of Modernism Week for me — it left me feeling completely satisfied.