Friday, February 3, 2017

On The Road With Al & Ivy: A Literary Homeless Chronicle - Feb 3rd


..."in exploring the physical universe man has made no attempt to explore himself. Much of what goes by the name of pleasure is simply an effort to destroy consciousness."

- George Orwell (Pleasure Spots 1946)

Getting near the start of my new social network promotion business, centered on Twitter, sometime this week. I've got five clients already so I'm looking forward to a nice start this month. 

It's felt good to be productive in this new venture, and producing some income, though the recent donations have helped me a lot...I'm hoping the balance will be tipped towards self sufficiency by the end of February, which is also around the one year anniversary of becoming homeless. 

Like any small business, I'm sure it'll be long hours and some hard times, but I'd rather have my problems be of a greater magnitude than bare survival.

The atmosphere around here is moving back towards a tougher time for the homeless...not coincidentally, the "caravan" that I've described in an earlier blog entry is back and taken over a section of a nearby parking lot, so there's several homeless vehicles loosely associated around, drawing in backpackers, and of course the police, who seem to be pulling over lots of homeless.

My mistake though; I got absorbed in this new business and became careless and was driving around on city streets near Hwy 152 and 101 (a known drug corridor) during a time that caution and staying off the radar is the sensible thing to do.

One other thing...if you've been homeless long enough, you realize that some are territorial. I've seen that at a rest stop where a large group lived, where they'll even slam a door into your car if they don't want you in that space. 

I woke up one morning last summer to find myself next to a vehicle that always drew a line of young campers from the levee area, and afterwards had a regular stream of bike riders (couriers) ride by at all hours, many making loud sudden noises, looking into the car,  and even making racist settled down once it was obvious that I wasn't a possible snitch (I guess) but that's why many homeless aren't open and friendly, or are suspicious until they really know you...when there's a lot of fear around, the less you know the better.

There's other signs; the area around the levee and fence is repopulating with partiers and transients. There's a new hole in the fence, as wide as a door. That probably means bike deliveries, as smaller more discrete holes are the norm, and the stop I was involved in wasn't a standard warrant/DL was an obvious scan for drugs, and interest in me fell off sharply after seeing my car clear except for the usual homeless type items on the floor. 

However, if drugs are coming back into the area, that's too much trouble comes by for my taste. The ATV and dirt bike crowd are back using the slough and buzzing the parking lots...summer is coming early this year.

To me, the key is this new's the one thing I can do now that can affect my future the most...if the car gets impounded before I can get a replacement or fix it, well, I have my scoot bag and will just have to deal with it, but being forced to go on foot isn't the apocalypse it seemed like a few months ago...not that it's desirable, but with the business and book, I'm finally heading somewhere...if it has to be without a car, then the path is just going to be a little longer...I don't make it very public, but I've been a Christian for decades. I've always believed it's better to manifest one's beliefs than vocalize, so I consider it a private thing. 

Some of the other old timers have already cleared the area, and I'll probably head south this week since I'm now under police scrutiny, though they cut me slack today; I did get the tacit warning that a crackdown is probably coming. The Gilroy police are very kind, and compassionate that way.

There's been a path laid out for me now, so I'm no longer overly fearful of the present; that's also a change in me from a few months ago...and I have Ivy and a lot of friends, so that path won't be lonely or harsh. I'll pray for an easier road though...

"My little rough dog and I
Live a life that is rather rare,
We have so many good walks to take
And so few hard things to bear...

And we travel all one way;
'Tis a thing we should never do,
To reckon the two without the four,
Or the four without the two."

- Excerpt from a friend of Lincoln Newton Kinnicutt (To Your Dog and To My Dog)

"Stay here, I'm going in to start the laundry and I'll be back"

Ivy gives me her "ok boss, glad you let me know because I was going to open the car door with my paw and leap out of the car" look, and resumes her nap.

Living with an animal is partly an unspoken bond between two living beings who develop an empathy that doesn't need words, and partly talking to one's self a lot in the pet's's the age old collision of science versus metaphysics.

Science used to be the notion that what one could observe was real, and life was about discovery, till there was good money to be had; then it became a saint that could perform miracles for cash, or in other words, the successor to the medieval Catholic Church.

Metaphysics used to be the belief that connection to God was an individual experience and senior to the Church, till Saint Peter knocked some sense into the believers and restored the capitalistic verities of the Greek religion.

The fanatics in these two forces of life have been going at it ever since; one side providing reasons to kill each other, the other dedicated to making it an ever more efficient process with better and better weapons.

None of this helps Ivy and me, of course, we're still stuck together like tar babies in an old Cadillac and luckily God made it easier for a man and dog to coexist than with a human female.

To my credit, I realized a long time ago that telling Ivy not to leave the car was really silly but since she'd been hearing that phrase for so long, the real point is that it's the same collection of sounds she hears when I leave and because of that, knows I'll come back...I have no idea how to reduce that to dog sounds, so the phrase became our language for "I'll be back, I'm not abandoning you and the car to continue a solitary journey in shorts and a Ramone's t-shirt." Luckily she can't read my thoughts.

My guess is that Ivy's real thought is "if you leave who's going to feed me"?

Well, she should have finished school and got a degree so she wouldn't be dependent on a guy...

Hours of sitting around in each other's face has resulted in the evolution of a language...we've developed what I call "Lurch talk," named after the famous Adam's Family butler who used to groan a started off as a game, when Ivy would groan, I'd groan back, and then she began to tie sounds together into sentences, and now when she wants to eat or go outside, she groans the appropriate phrase...I don't encourage her to do it with strangers, as it often gets mistaken for growling, though no one's ever become frightened by it either. 

I imagine that if she did want to growl, it'd be frustrating to have people laugh at how cute it is...kinda like how women feel when they get pissed and the guy tells them they look cute when they're angry...and they don't have the option to go nuclear and bite or sleep with their furry white butt on my pillow.

Having your dog thinking she can talk is a mixed blessing, but having her as a road buddy isn't...

...emergency and disaster preparedness for the homeless...

In some ways homeless emergency preparedness is a simple subject...we're already in a disaster and live our lives by the emergency measures in place beforehand...but let's move off the materialistic view and assume that within this new universe, greater disasters can occur.

I'm sure most of you've read some material on emergency preparedness and have measures in place for the worst case scenarios in your region...I spent over 12 years in the security field and as a supervisor had to take a multitude of courses that made me a Red Cross medic, a low level but full suited chemical handler, anger manager, and of course, a sort of expert in emergency response.

Very little of it applies to homelessness, but some basic principles apply. You should be prepared for the worst case scenario and your supplies should reflect what you'd do first (more steps can be implemented if you have the cash).

 A cynic might say that our first basic emergency would be how to get drugs when flat broke...and truth be told, I imagine for some homeless that would be the worse case scenario...a meth head that's crashing won't think of much else, and the proper ERT response would be panhandling or some sort of street crime, though given the cost of meth, it's not as common a reason to commit a crime for as heroin or crack, but that can change once the person moves into the more refined vintages of speed and crank.

Meth is relatively cheap and simplifies life, though a meth head might want to spend a couple of hours explaining why...but emergency preparedness is simple; what's the big disaster and what measures do you take to cope with it.

One problem is that some prepper entrepreneurs have turned survival into a uniquely American trip, that is to say, into a boutique industry where even the most basic gear can be rediculously expensive and in many cases, too complicated or unrealistic...expensive dehydrated meals when clean water might be scarce is a good example, and a real life example was third world babies getting sick on US made formula that required mixing with water.

The ultimate fetish is the "scoot bag," a pack or bag with basic stuff that can be grabbed in an instant when suddenly having to leave a place or finding yourself in a survival situation.

Being a gadget geek, of course I have one...I've spent many happy hours contemplating various scenarios and configuring my cool little bag of tricks to ensure mastery of the situation.

Luckily, as time has passed, I've become more sensible about it and sold off the Bear Grier Super Duper survival knife and other stuff like that...I realized that my chances of being stranded in the middle of the Amazon jungle was slim, and it's easier to just carry matches in the handle of a ten dollar Bowie Knife than bang a 50.00 knife against a flint to make fire...though I admit that the Bowie knife isn't in my scoot bag anymore as it's too heavy and keeping a cheap butane lighter is even cheaper...I still haven't figured out why I'd want to create a fire within city limits though...

The operative word is cheap...the scoot bag has stuff you'll probably never use, so keeping items like a 50.00 knife or really nice lightweight jacket in it is really more of an upscale hobby.

In my case, my scoot bag doubles as a light hiking bag/whatwouldiwantonmeifmycarisgonewhenigetback type thing, so it's a gaudy collection of cheap stuff, my devices and battery packs, useless paracord knife (kept losing it so putting it in the bag keeps it in a safe place) that'll I'll probably replace with some loose paracord, a Cliff bar, dog dish, water bottle, flashlight, and so varies according to my current state state of paranoia and weight considerations if it gets annoyingly heavy on a walk where I'm already carrying Ivy, whose weight fluctuates.

It's the fun bag...there's a more serious backpack in the trunk that I can grab if need be if there's time and I'm caught out in walking clothes in the winter...but the scoot bag has the key stuff; my papers and phone. If I'm caught with just my beloved scoot bag, the last thing I'm going to be thinking of is survival in the cold...I'm going to make sure I can call for help and communicate till it comes. 

If I'm living out in the boonies, then it might be a different situation and I'm sure there'll be many happy hours spent creating the perfect scoot bag for that situation.

There's really only a couple of basics...if you're in a car, then make sure it always has a full gas tank and always have a working phone with plenty of backup power...everything else is a distant second.

-Al Handa

Please consider a contribution to keep this blog going and support my activities:

My intent isn't to become a donor funded homeless blogger, I'd like to do much more...until then, a donation would help Ivy and I to survive and continue efforts (like seeking work, etc) that can bring us out of homelessness as opposed to dropping further down into a transient lifestyle.

The Al & Ivy Homeless Literary Journal Archive:

THE IVY CORNER: Ivy seen below in various ads in her new job as shih tzu supermodel for Boogie Underground Media...very fun to be working her as a partner in this new venture.

Here's the blurb for Boogie Underground Media:

Boogie Underground Media promotion.

Email for list of services and prices!

Yes I did say video was coming but I haven't worked out all of the bugs yet :-)




Eric Wilder's "Blink of an Eye"

#Paranormal #mystery #thriller


Catherine Mesick's Pure: Book 1 of an exciting paranormal series!

#fantasy #romance and #urbanfantasy.


Angela B. Mortimer's sexy SciFi meditation on sacrifice, rites of passage & illumination!


Stories with Humor, The Impossible, and Love



Tia Shurina's Journey from half happy to all in happiness, Everything and a Happy Ending!


  1. I enjoy your blog and wish you and ivy the best

  2. You have a very nice blog, I have followed you on twitter

  3. Thanks for helping me out with your great Promo's on twitter
    All the best AL and IVY

  4. I do pray for you Al. Keep the faith.

  5. Thank you all for the nice comments :-)