Coming to Cambria

Coming to Cambria: The Cloths of Heaven

Special to The CambrianMay 2, 2014 

Where’s Ula?: Name the location where Elaine Horn’s Harlequin Great Dane Ula is perched and earn the respect and admiration of your peers for your intimate knowledge of Cambria. Email the answer to Winner of the April 17 non-contest is Kathleen Conway, who correctly said Ula was beside the water pump at the back of the Cambria Historical Museum.

ELAINE HORN — Special to The Cambrian

Day 31: I’m headed back to the SLO airport for a grueling turnaround to exhume my passport from its safety deposit box back in Virginia. All so I can get a California driver’s license. Oh — and BTW Cambrians — it’s raining. It’s not just raining; it’s a wicked, howling onslaught. Let the record reflect that in my first month in Cambria it has rained FIVE times.

Today’s tale begins at my first post-move Sandy and Charlie concert when super-nice Sandy and Gale advise that I can make an appointment at DMV to get a driver’s license. You mean, have an actual appointment instead of waiting in line for hours? How marvelously efficient!

So, I make an appointment and expend $10 in fuel motoring to SLO only to be told that: option one, you need your passport; or, option two, you need BOTH your birth and marriage certificates. Ah, no, I didn’t read the pamphlet in advance, silly me. I was under the impression that the Republic of California (ROC) was part of the USA and that my Virginia driver’s license would suffice. Mine is (another) expensive boo-boo.

Of course, I’m glad to see my mother and stay in her chic, well-appointed condominium. I just wasn’t expecting to be here less than five weeks after I’d left. One week later, passport in hand, I head off to my second DMV appointment. I pass the driver’s license test, although it takes two tries as California law is fraught with unknown perils. Next is car registration. I move my car as directed into the “verification” lane, ring the bell and wait … and wait some more. I go back inside and the man behind the counter (we’ll call him Mr. “Not Me”) says he has heard my rings but he is “too busy” to help. He suggests I come back in 2-1/2 hours, after the lunch-hour rush. Oh, and move your car, you can’t park it there. Totally drained, I return to the beleaguered receptionist who is genuinely perturbed. Apparently having an appointment does trump all. She “reports” Mr. Not Me to his supervisor, who asks him about the conversation and — Mr. Not Me denies it. He’s 50-plus years old. Sigh. Some people never outgrow recess.

It gets better. The supervisor performs the verification but explains the car registration process can’t be completed without an emissions test certificate. I schedule a third DMV appointment. A week later, I learn something that blows my mind. Apparently, the ROC doesn’t require any kind of annual vehicle inspection, just the SMOG certificate every two years. Now, let me get this straight: the most populous state in the country will register a car whose owner may choose not to maintain even the basic fundamentals (tire pressure, oil change, engine warning lights)? So, when said car has a blow-out or other mechanical failure causing destruction and mayhem, we can all take comfort (in our last gasps) that the derelict driver’s derelict car’s emissions were not the cause. That’s a load off.

Segue to “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” (William Butler Yeats). My favorite poem. “Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths … I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

I’ve shared my dream of coming to Cambria, hopeful and determined, scared and excited, etc. I came with an idealized perception of unworldly proportions. Then, reality bites. Cambria and Cambrians are special but still part of planet Earth. And the reality is that, wherever you live, there will always be people who want to tear you down. How do bona fide artists, public servants, sports greats stand it? (Talent? Ambition? Money? Grit? All of the above?).

Recently, I’ve been subjected to three nasty, verbal attacks in four days, totally out of the blue. Bam! Pow! Eyaahh! Two happened on “Happy Hill!” Misnomer? I think not. Ninety percent of my experiences thus far in “Slab Town” have been very supportive and positive. So, I’m shaking off the naysayers. I don’t know what they do when life hands them lemons. Personally, I don’t make lemonade; I make a margarita.

Next up: My Kingdom for my Horse!

Email Elaine Horn via

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