Back Home in Time for a Desert Concerto

Peaches had a hard time adjusting to life in La Quinta when we came home from Madeline and Cliff Anderson's house. She stayed there while I was having my knee turned into a tool box.

Then the Andersons took me from Huntington Hospital in Pasadena to their house in Monarch Bay. That's at the end of the Crown Valley Parkway and just north of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which stands in splendor on top of a cliff above the Pacific.

Monarch Bay has a powdery beach, and watching the waves pound in or roll gently shoreward is a soul-healing sight. The water ranges from lime green through azure, emerald, violet and into seamless black toward the horizon.

After Jean Erck picked us up at the Andersons' and drove us home to La Quinta, Peaches walked into the house and looked over her shoulder at me, saying plainly, "Oh, back here again, huh?"

And then the rains came, the glorious rains, leaving the mountains I see from my kitchen window dusted with snow. For two glorious days and nights, the rain made its music on the roof and the patio. It is an alien sound in the desert, like the rippling sound of a concerto for flute.

After we'd been home a week, Peaches had a slump-shouldered acceptance of her surroundings. Then she was almost her usual frolicsome self, skipping through the house with her curly bottom waving. She looks as if she were wearing ruffled cancan panties.

When we came home, Mary Jane Dillon, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, had arranged for me to receive service. It was a great help for four days until I was well enough to get around the kitchen. My son Tim and his friend, Sylvia, went shopping for me, and I am now marching, or rather hobbling, along on my walker.

I have a kind of a book bag that straps onto the walker. My friend Jerri Hamane sent that along with a wonderful smock apron with great big pockets. It's heavy cotton in rich Jacobean colors of red and green. I could smuggle a middle-sized kangaroo in the front pocket, solving the problem of how to carry something and still have two hands for the walker.

Carl and Nettie Bellen, my neighbors, are beyond belief. Carl took my trash can out and fetched and carried whatever I couldn't, which was everything. Nettie brought me soup, antipasto, pudding, fruit--all kinds of goodies.

Wonderwoman Jean Erck has taken care of all of the blizzard of paper that goes with doctors and hospitals. I cannot. It is not that I won't. I cannot.

My stomach clutches just as though I were about to go into a geometry test. Jean does all that awful stuff and presents it to me to sign and it goes away.

Jean is going to act as an ambassador to the exhibiting artists at the La Quinta Arts Festival (to be held March 14-17 from 10 a.m. to dusk. This is the ninth year of what has become one of the best outdoor art shows in California.

Last year there were 3,500 requests to take part in the show. A board of judges has the trying job of selecting the most worthy. The 170 finalists will display their wares at the La Quinta Community Park.)

I'm sorry that I won't be able to attend this year, but even with my walker, I don't think I could make it over the grass.

Still, it's lovely to be home, with the snow on the high peaks, the sun gently shining after the rain and Peaches making do.

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