California Dreaming

I was sitting at the dining room table yesterday morning blowing into my flutter when I heard screaming out on the street. The type where you stop what you’re doing to listen again. Is it kids? Something else? Definitely something else when I heard the second scream. I walked out the back door and looked over the fence and saw a woman who lives a few houses away, her face red, blotchy and wet from crying. Someone stole from her. Money and a computer, she claimed. She had her children taken away not long ago, too. Another neighbor was helping her. Sometimes people do scream in pain like in the movies. Yes, they do. And it wasn’t pleasant to watch. So I didn’t and went back in the house.

Life in the big city

I was pulling out of the gas station the other day when a man driving in stopped next to me so our windows were facing each other, his vehicle’s rear end sticking out in traffic, a magnet for honking horns, which irritated me. Then he asked me for two bucks for oil. Oil? Who buys oil anymore at a gas station with a market in it? Do they sell oil? Or did he mean gas? And asking me while we’re in our cars? I didn’t say anything to him. Not a word. I shook my head and drove off.

The local Barnes and Noble has become a hot spot for begging. And I usually give in. Hand the person a buck if they have a good story. Once it was a young girl who looked like she lived in Topanga Canyon. She wore feather earrings and a leather vest with fringe, like she might be a healer or hippie time traveler. She needed money to buy gas to get home. Do time machines run on fossil fuel? I didn’t ask. I gave her five bucks. She was someone’s daughter and mine was standing next to me. There have been others asking for money. More in the last year than in the prior 20 or so.

The lawns in my neighborhood look terrible. We have watering restrictions this summer. And LA DWP raised rates. But that’s not the whole story. Limited watering causes brown spots. Some lawns in my neighborhood haven’t been watered at all. Water isn’t cheap. Neither is electricity. The combo bill is a killer, as we live in a desert with most summer days over 100 degrees, though this summer has been cool. Many have chosen to save money and let their grass die. Other lawns are full of tall weeds where neighbors have decided not to water and mow. Or they’ve abandoned the house. One neighbor’s lawn is gone. It’s dirt. Just dirt. My lawn looks more green than brown and I water it on the days I’m allowed. But would I if I were unemployed or about to lose my house? I doubt I would.

Just a few years ago, large metal trash bins for remodeling littered the streets of my neighborhood. But those bins are long gone now. And what they left in their wake isn’t pretty.

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