The Drought

14.11.30 TheWholeRuth DesertsAreBeautifulToo

Surprised to read in the LA Times that “…right now [California] has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one…”

I’d like to see LA want to switch, in our hearts, from lush landscaping to desert terrain. Palm trees aren’t native plants. The way the hills and canyons look is our natural terrain. Sprinklers often come on at night when people don’t see them, so I think people assume grass naturally grows here. But if we don’t manually water it, it dies. Anywhere we see green grass is an alert that someone is wasting water (except in the rainy winter). Even in fancy places or landmarks we love that take our breath away.

Moving from South Carolina to Tucson, Arizona was a shock, but I got used to the fact that I lived in a desert so it looked like a desert. Southern California needs to gently accept that we’re actually in a desert pumping in water to make it look tropical. It will be hard to give up the way we have perceived our home for decades. Deserts are beautiful too though. Especially when there’s enough water in them to drink, bathe, cook, grow food and live.

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Math on the Beach

 

TheWholeRuth Succulent Ice Plant Flower

While our East coast friends are stuck in the cold, here in LA, the desert flowers are blooming. I went to the beach to do my physical therapy sand walking on a Tuesday at the end of February. And it was much more than therapy for my body. Rain had fallen the day before, which in LA is a rare and sky-changing thing.

TheWholeRuth Rain AlmostLooksLikeSnow

The sky always changes as it rains, but here, it’s the sky the day after the rain that makes the whole town look different. There is usually a black dust in the air from pollution and it’s on the cars, on the porches, even on the window sills- on the inside of the house. The rain gives the city and its sky a bath. (The inside of the house is up to you.) The next day is clear and blue… And puffy, plump white clouds stretch their arms, sometimes with puffy, plump deep gray clouds rumbling punches behind them, ready to rain again. It’s beautiful. I like to imagine that the day after rain is how it must have looked in the 1920’s when Charlie Chaplin lived here. It’s a time machine day where we get to see it as he did.

15.2.24 TheWholeRuth Beach Physical Therapy Chaplin

The beach was therapy for my soul and my foot. It was wildly windy, in a way I’ve never seen it. As I lay on the blanket I brought, the wind would whip around the sand so much that whatever part of the blanket I wasn’t covering, would just look like sand. At some points, I had to cover my head with my towel so I wouldn’t drown in air-sand. Even though that doesn’t sound peaceful, the sun was hot, the breeze was cool, and there was something animalistic and freeing about letting the sand do what it wanted around me like I was lying in the middle of a tribe of sand grains who were chanting and dancing, mad with joy. I felt honored that they let me be there.

And when I stood and walked around, the blowing sand stayed low and I could breathe the brisk salt air and enjoy feeling my foot roll through and my leg extend further back behind me than it has in years, knowing the next step would come and this would continue on in a rhythm that makes me feel like a Lion Queen.

I was even smitten with the sun light in the bathrooms.

15.2.24 TheWholeRuth beach bathrooms

I’ve been going to the beach about twice a week for physical therapy for a few weeks now. Sometimes it’s in the day and I get to go in the water up to my waist. A friend asked later if the water was cold, and since the Pacific is usually like ice, it was the first time I remembered that it probably was cold. But it hadn’t dawned on me. When I’m there alone, I’m not worried about someone else being uncomfortable in the water with me and I can get lost in the gratefulness to be walking, in the ocean, in the middle of the day, on a weekday, in February. I remembered that when I’m there, I first set my toes in with the intention to ice them, since I have to do that three times a day anyway. And it’s so exciting to be leg wrestling with the waves that all of a sudden, I’m in up to my thighs and it doesn’t feel cold at all. Sometimes I go at night and there are bonfires. Once, a woman in a bikini top and a flowing skirt was juggling flaming rings. Sometimes I go for fifteen minutes in my jeans, just to take off my shoes and let my feet move through the sand.

When I walk there, I can roll through my foot with no pain. I can only walk in five-minute increments, rest, and repeat, but it feels so wonderful to be able to do that. And it’s adding up.

15.2.24 TheWholeRuth Palm Trees Snow Mountains

 

 

20 Ways to be #PositivelyPoorInLA

  1. When you can only afford water at the bar, you can say you’re on “a cleanse.”
  2. When you can’t afford shampoo and your hair gets clumpy and wild, you can say you’re from Venice Beach.
  3. When you’re wearing the same clothes you wore decades ago because you could never buy new ones, you can say you’re being “retro”.
  4. When your hair is greasy, your clothes are dirty, and you’re too skinny from hunger, you can say you are a “hipster”.
  5. When you need work, the tranny hookers in your neighborhood are a reminder that there are always jobs out there.
  6. When you can’t afford a gyno and Google’s advice is fingering yourself with tea tree oil, you can say you “like holistic healing.”
  7. When becoming homeless feels like a possibility, you can take solace in knowing everyone has a car to live in.
  8. When you start selling marijuana to pay your bills, you’re not alone.
  9. When acne takes over your face from being in survival mode,  you can say it’s because you’re going to be the lead in an acne infomercial.
  10. When you have to ride the bus, the other people on the bus are a bright reminder of how sane you are.
  11. When you are biking because you can’t afford gas, you save money on gas.
  12. When hitchhiking seems like a good idea, you can say you are into “innovative networking.”
  13. When you’re late from walking miles to get somewhere, you can blame it on traffic.
  14. When you arrive somewhere sweaty from walking, biking, chasing the bus or from anxiety during your hitchhike you can say you “just got back from  Runyon Canyon.”
  15. When you can only eat rice and beans, you’re “gluten free.” And dairy free. And soy free. And meat free. And nut free!
  16. When you eat other people’s food left on the table at a restaurant, you can call yourself an “adventurous foodie”.
  17. When you get caught eating out of a trashcan, you can say you’re putting together your audition tape for Top Chef.
  18. When you’re starving, you can call it “fasting.”
  19. When you become too hungry to respond emotionally to life, you can say you’re really into this new “natural botox.”
  20. When you write about how poor you are on social media as a cry for help, you can say your manager told you to strengthen your online presence.

Ruth Gamble Beach 2014 Thank you to Christopher Schram and Shane Portman for their contributions.