It's been a few months since I returned from the far north and my efforts to get a roof over Suzanne and her kitties, so here's an update:
There were many generous pledges made for Suzanne, but unfortunately not enough to get her housed. We collected enough for her to have her truck fixed so that she could make the trip back to Los Angeles, and for her to cover some of her immediate expenses like gas and cat food.
She's returned to Los Angeles (Santa Monica, more specifically) in the hopes of getting subsidized housing. To that end, she had a meeting with the board yesterday. They gave her a pile of papers to go through ("You have to be a lawyer to figure all this out," she said) and sent her on her way with the suggestion she call back in ten days.
The system is complicated for someone who's already got a multitude of daily challenges. You have to call once a week to check for new vacancies, then go up to the office with your voucher and card to show that you are actually part of the program, then they'll hand you the list of new vacancies, then you and every other person on the program go door-to-door meeting landlords, filling out more applications, all the while hoping they're part of the "section 8" rental assistance program and all the while hoping they haven't found a "better" candidate.
All the leg work and paper work is discouraging for Suzanne, who's getting worn down by the battle.
But Suzanne being SUZANNE, she continues to write in her journal with the intention of making it into her life story whenever she gets a real desk and some stability. She continues to want to offer her talents, art and services to the world. She's looking for work as a massage therapist, and has already begun cleaning apartments for some friends she's met while walking their dogs by her truck.
She continues to meet Angels on a daily basis, but she refuses to ask for help. A small few know intuitively and leave her special gifts; others simply say "cool truck" and smile as they walk by.
I continue to hold hope that this network of Angels will pull through for her and find her and her 4 kitties a cozy place to live.
Please send this far and wide.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I made it! A little road-weary and happy to be out of the saddle, but safe and filled with a new appreciation for warmth, comfort, a hot bath...
I arrived back in Venice on Saturday evening, six weeks after departure, exactly 13,654 kilometres or 8,484 miles from the starting point here in Venice on August 19.
I've burned through a set of tires, lost a drive belt, ridden in snow, fought wind and rain, narrowly escaped being turned into a leather and steel pancake, lost the legendary Outhouse Race in Dawson City, spent too much money on bike repairs, and loved every minute of the adventure.
I've encountered ANGELS along the way. Angels without whom I could not have completed this epic ride.
Angels like Jim Deitschman, who on day 2 went out of his way to ensure I had a working battery leaving Suzanne's camp in the redwoods.
Angels like Mark, Richard and John, who not only rescued me from the potential nightmare of breaking down on the Alaska Highway, but managed to solidify, triple-handedly, my belief in human goodness, and raise the standards of decency higher than I could possibly live up to.
Angels like 78-year-olds Ron and Betty Barnett in Fort St. John who made me feel so welcome when my rescue squad brought me along for dinner, then again the next day when the rescue squad broke down themselves, spent the better part of their day getting us all back on the road.
Angels like John and Gail Hendley, and Lee who three years running have welcomed me to Dawson City like a long lost friend and made me feel like I belong. And their angel sister, Dawn, who provided Henk with saddle bags and originally suggested I trudge all the way to Dawson.
Angels like Kevin, who had the Dempster portion all planned out with equipment, bikes, gas, inner tubes, food and Courvoisier, so all I had to do was show up.
Angels Ron and Leah, our partners, who supported us unconditionally.
Angel Johnny McPhee, who gave me the blessing of the Great Spirits in Williams Lake.
Angels hidden behind the eyes of bears who gave me calmness and courage when I needed it.
Unseen Angels who pulled the throttle down faster than I could ever think to and flew me swiftly out of harm's way when the driver of a red sports car in Santa Barbara changed lanes without looking and came within inches of Henk.
Angels who have made pledges of money to help Suzanne and her kitties into shelter.
Angels, family and friends, who have followed along in spirit and offered words of encouragement.
And Suzanne, herself a true Angel who's welcomed me into her private magical realms where a word of kindness is golden, a warm gesture, healing, and compassionate action...transformational.
Friday, September 28, 2007
I first met Moira on the seacoast of Santa Monica, California, in early springtime, 2007. Our friendship developed over several weeks. Moira indulging me by my reciting newly composed poetry, or excerpts from my in progress autobiography. We bonded through mutual inspirations. I looked forward to our encounters; exchanging ideas and encouragement from this lovely Canadian artist and writer.
Our weekly visits included her bringing me fresh organic salad greens, that were comprised of tiny orange and purple flowers. Thus I named them Faery Food, which describes the donor as well. I was enormously grateful, having been without refrigeration to store fresh food, as I had been residing in my tiny, hand hewn camper for a number of years.
She managed to "evict" me, occasionally, from a semi hermetic crawl space, to the healing graces of her gourmet cuisine, and lavish me with fragrent soaps and hot showers. Gestures of kindness demonstrating the enormous altruistic nature of this woman.
One cannot imagine my stunned amazement when Moira created Suzanne's Angels, and embarked on such a huge undertaking. A journey of epic proportion to the Far North on my behalf, in hopes of generating the funds towards shelter for myself and my darling felines.
Words can never thank her and those brother and sister Angels who have reached out to help me through what has been a long and difficult journey.
Thank you, with all my heart... SUZANNE
Although I had had the front row view of the mighty Pacific and the solace of my feline family and sea-gull companions, it has been an arduous task of endurance keeping mind and body sound and safe, for, now on five years. Crippling pain from a serious accident in 1999, due to multiple fractures was enough. Then to lose my career which took a lifetime to build. My life as a choreographer, dance instructor, and massage therapist, was over; indefinitely.
Enduring this, and the peripheral loss of dignity in having to face homelessness from the inability to earn my financial independence, I retreated to my tiny cabin on wheels.
I was down on my luck. The telephone was strangely silent. There must have been something to be said of many former friends and associates who were no longer calling. It seemed, in some folks' judgement, that I was choosing to remain in this homeless situation. Adding shame to injury.
Then... What can be said of a society that turns a blind eye to such numbers of homeless individuals, many of whom are greatly disabled? The abject neglect of the Armed Forces veterans? How does the America I once loved so dearly allow the police to profile and criminalize the disadvantaged?
I had no results in obtaining low-cost housing, even after repeated and exhausting efforts, from government or other agencies. Rental accommodations in Los Angeles County have become increasingly prohibitive for those with minimal fixed income.
I've always attempted to bring artfulness into my lifestyle, but with the conditions of this stark experience, I was so often bereft of inspiration, with searing pain being a constant companion.
Despair was undermined by lending a hand to others. Those less fortunate in many respects. The shopping cart homeless.
I often had to dig deep into my dancer's discipline and Scottish ancestry to maintain hope and generate momentum to face another day.
On my path, I've encountered encouraging and interesting individuals with their own challenges. I've received kindness from strangers, all of whom made an enormous difference in keeping hope alive, faith in spirit and human goodness.
I've had an inordinate length of time while recovering from injuries to ponder on the anatomy of these experiences; and the process of reinventing myself.
To this end, I am at present recording some evidence of miracles in my autobiography.
I persevere in attempting to improve my health, and recover some aspects of my former creative skills, which that too, is part of the healing process.
I thank my angel sisters and brothers for assisting me in overcoming the daily struggles in what has been a long and difficult journey.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I'm in central Oregon, probably three days from completing this epic ride.
Now that Henk has new rubber and a new drive belt, he's running like a dream. But I'm getting tired. Tired of crappy road food, tired of battling wind and rain, tired of crawling into my tent that's no longer waterproof to sleep, tired of wearing my helmet all day, tired of taking ten minutes to pee because of all the damn layers I have to peel off, tired of missing my kitty and tired of being homeless.
I can't imagine how Suzanne feels after five years without a proper home.
I'm hoping to stop in for a visit with her on my last night on the road. Also hoping the weather holds out a while longer. It's been beautiful and sunny since I hit southern BC, but Suzanne says the first cold rains of the season have already fallen in the redwoods east of Santa Cruz.
I'm getting anxious for her to get set up in a little studio somewhere warm where she can get cozy with her kitties for the winter and complete her book.
I've been doing the math while riding, and though I've had very positive response with pledges, I'm still looking for more!
Every time I need an angel on the road, there's one (or three) a breath away.
I'm trusting that Suzanne's will come through for her in the nick of time.
Please pass this on far and wide.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I'm in Prince George awaiting motorbike repairs. I'm hoping to be back on the road this afternoon.
I had a chance to upload some raw videos of the day I broke down and my rescue.
If you go over to www.firehorserider.com and click on the blog, you should be able to view them...
Again, thank you for all your support and words of encouragement.
And thank you so much to Richard, Mark, and John who went way out of their way to rescue me. Real life heroes and true angels.
This photo is of Richard trying to fix the rescue vehicle when it broke down! When the rescue squad had to be rescued, their friend Ron in Fort St. John, a 78-year-old angel, jumped in to drive them an hour down the Alaska Highway and an hour back to get the part they needed.
We were delayed another half day, but that's what happens when adventures collide and angels respond. We all made it home safe and perhaps forever changed by our serendipitous encounter.