This collection of essays follows the lives of two aging Californians and their dog Sadie as they flee Silicon Valley for the alleged good life on the Oregon Coast. “Go north,” the realtors claimed. “You can buy four houses for the price of one Saratoga fixer-upper. The air is clear, the traffic is light, and everyone is friendly. All those rumors about how Californians are not welcome north of the border are simply not true. Nor is it true that it rains 80 inches a year and sometimes even snows. Come on, it’s the beach!”
And so, plagued by debts that two jobs, two home businesses and a city pension weren’t doing much to help, fed up to the ends of our wits with sitting in line on the freeway, and longing for a taste of that good life, we headed north. Was it a harbinger of things to come when the rental truck broke down in Sacramento, leaving us stranded alongside I-5 at the J street off ramp, or that the transmission hose on the truck broke in Corning, or that for three days the dog barked at every passing car and refused to relieve herself? Nawwwwww.
In the tradition of Chris Stewart’s Driving Over Lemons, Anne Morrow Lindburgh’s The Lighthouse Told Me, Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions, Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and everything Bill Bryson ever wrote, with a little E.B. White and Henry David Thoreau thrown in, here is our story.
Shoes Full of Sand looks at the high and low points of our first seven years as we transformed from Californians into Oregonians. The essays, some funny, some sad, all from the heart, include:
Go North–Everyone asks the same question: Why?
Dog-Gone Long Ride--The trip north, at the end of which I open the door for my best friend and scream “Get Out!”
What Have We Done?–In which the author almost gets herself killed and faces the reality that she only knows one person in the entire state of Oregon.
Saudade–We Portuguese use this word to describe a deep longing for the life we left behind. As Allen Sherman wrote: Hello Mudda, hello fadda, I wanna go home!
Which Way is Home?–We commute so often between San Jose and Lincoln County we’re not sure where we live, but I think it might be somewhere near Mt. Shasta.
Porch Songs--I sing on the porch, then take my act to the local pub, where I discover we’re definitely not in California anymore.
We Live Here--Ha, ha, tourists, we don’t have to go home.
Vodka and Lemonade--In which the salmon are as tall as the people, and so are the tales they tell.
Trip Off the Old Block–Should we buy a motorhome, a modular home, a house? We can’t make up our minds. And then I fall down the stairs.
The Taxman Goeth–The husband spends January to March doing his tax business in San Jose, and just about the time he comes home, I wind up working there, too. Tell me again: Why did we move to Oregon?
Take These Wings--So what if the buffalo wings fell on the car floor where they got coated with dust and dog fur. Just wash them off! The in-laws are coming.
Widowed–Dad Lick moves into his new home but doesn’t get to enjoy it very long.
You Got Your Damned House–Women want houses and men want wheels.
Flunking RVing–Okay, so the only time we really used it, it rained so hard there were ducks swimming just outside our door, and then we left it sitting so long in the driveway that it turned into one big mouse house, but we still might go camping someday.
I Been Nuked--The doctor gave me the big radioactive pill, held his hand out as far as he could reach, and said, “Don’t get any closer to anyone for three days,” and that was one of the better parts of having Graves’ Disease.
A Mouthful of Squirrel--In which the dog finally wreaks vengeance on those rats with fluffy tails.
Tubbing It–So what if it’s raining? Take off your clothes, put on your hat and sink down to your chin in the hot tub.
Falling Hair–Fred’s mom exits the way she wants to.
A Tale of Two Knees--Suddenly Sadie needs knee surgery. We didn’t even know dogs had knees.
Caught in the Flight Path--“We’re going to have to chop down a few more trees,” the airport manager said. I put down my notebook and stared at the map. What trees? That’s where we live.
Plus: walks on the beach, along the Bayfront, and through the woods. Still to come, songs. Shoes Full of Sand, the musical.
Sue Fagalde Lick, a freelance writer and writing teacher living in South Beach, Oregon, has been writing for publication for over 35 years. In addition to hundreds of articles, numerous poems and several short stories, she has published give other books, including The Iberian Americans, Stories Grandma Never Told, Azorean Dreams, Freelancing for Newspapers, and Childless by Marriage. She has a BA in journalism from San Jose State University and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is also an engaging speaker, teacher, and singer-songwriter, a pretty good guitarist, and a so-so piano player.
Copyright 2015 Sue Fagalde Lick