Yesterday my brother in law came to visit. I hadn’t seen him in about 15 years. The biggest reason is because of the woman he’s married to. Rebecca is difficult and has created a chasm between mother and son, brother and brother because of her critical nature. I don’t include myself in that equation and am only affected by the fact that it hurts people I care about but not me personally. I could but won’t enumerate the many things she has done because that’s not the point of this story, BUT we or anyone else for that matter including her own family are not welcome in her home. Ever.

Sadly, it has been seven years since my husband and mother in law were visited by him. Every once in awhile, she (Rebecca) lets him out to come visit family, hence the visit. He said this would probably be the last time.


The last time, I saw Dave was when we blew out our knees climbing Pyramid, a fourteen-er in Aspen, Colorado.  The pitch was such that it put a great deal of stress on all of our bodies, especially the knees. You might ask, how does one blow out their knees climbing a mountain?    It’s not the climbing up, but the coming down. When you have an extreme pitch such as the one Pyramid has, it’s best to take it slow.  Being guys the two brothers did the macho thing and practically ran down its slope. Imagine running down Chichen Itza  in Mexico and imagine dropping your weight down hard on your knees with each step…you get the picture.  Well, the truth is I didn’t blow mine out but they’ve been a bit more sensitive since. I, fortunately  became acutely aware, feeling the impact on my knees almost immediately and realized that if I didn’t make an adjustment I would pay for it later. Clever me, though feeling like a sissy, took preventive measures and descended mostly on my butt taking each step gently, easing myself down. Needless to say I took a long time to get down. Dave did not and paid for it,  never climb again after that.  Russ and I continued to scale other mountains in the years to come, but that was the last trip for Dave.

This week, when we arrived at my mother in laws, I could tell by the look on her face something was amiss and then he rounded the corner. I almost didn’t recognize him. It amazed me that he had aged so much in that time. There is only two years difference in the two brother’s ages, but he looked like an old man, tired and beaten down. Russ looked vibrant by comparison. I know my mother in law believes it’s “that woman” and it probably is, but it was sad to see.

BIRDING – Life’s little pleasures.

Dave is into birding or perhaps I should say bird watching.  While at my mother in law’s, he set up his tripod and telescope to see what new birds he might find in the area. When he came to our house, he only brought in a pair of binoculars. I was disappointed because I knew that with my neighbor’s bird sanctuary, he was bound to see even more birds, but he didn’t seem interested.  I guess he was too tired and besides he recounts to us about how he had already spotted a couple of eastern birds while at his mothers anyway, recorded them and broadcast it on his birding “channel” and I guess that was enough for him for now.

Instead he sat down to enjoy my “fine” cooking and only then went out into the backyard with only the binoculars to see what he could see.


GetAttachment (9)
Homeless camp center left

Our backyard overlooks a canyon where the Sprinter train takes tourists and locals to either the beach and/or to other connections, beyond that are industrial buildings. It was there, tucked in the midst of the trees by the tracks that Dave spotted the homeless shelter, just below our house. Since it was well camouflaged, we’d never noticed it, not that we were looking for it.

Call it timing but a few minutes later, we saw someone walking the tracks carrying a backpack and bag.  We figured, he’d been shopping and was bringing dinner home or maybe he actually works a job and was returning home.  I took the binoculars and watched him as he kept looking up at us. I wondered if he really could see us or if he knew we could see him.  Perhaps it was his typical precaution. We didn’t know for sure if he was the tenant but we followed him anyway waiting to see where he’d go as he walked along the track. As it was, he passed the trees where the logical access to the camp was before dropping down and circling back, so for a time we thought he’d continue on. He was guarded, being extra careful in case we or anyone else might see him.  I couldn’t make out his face, but I noticed he walked with a limp and wondered what his story was. I wondered what his “place” looked like. I thought of the tumbleweed forts I’d made as a child and knew they could get quite cozy.

Russ said, he didn’t care if he was there as long as he doesn’t inadvertently start a brush fire.  Understandably. California is known for it’s lack of water and dry conditions and living above a canyon made it difficult for us to get insurance on our home as it was, so fires are of great concern.

I was grateful of Russ’ compassionate response. I agreed, just leave the man be. Life is tough these days, he’s made a spot for himself there and as long as he’s not hurting anyone, let him be. I still want to know his story though.

I thought about going down there myself and check it out, but maybe that would be risky.  I suppose “we” (my granddaughter is coming out for a visit this week), but we could walk the track and leave a bag of groceries near the trail by the tracks, it’s not far from the depot…

I wondered too if any of my other neighbors have noticed? How do they feel about it? I dare not ask and call attention to it.


Sometimes coyotes get to running in the canyon, howling and yapping eerily, I wonder how it sounds from there in the camp?  Is there any danger in that?  Yet it’s been awhile since I’ve heard the coyotes; seen one down our street, but there’s not been the usual howling each night. Perhaps his being there has something to do with that? Hmmmm


I gave some bills to what appeared to be a homeless young man, for bus fare he said. He wasn’t limping but I was compelled because of ‘our” homeless guy at the bottom of the hill. I thought about mom but almost shouted after him to “pay it forward”.

2 thoughts on “Homeless

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