California Change

A high of 31 C is expected today in Rocklin, California, which is where I happen to be. I’m here assisting my mother in sorting through the material side of my grandmother’s life.

Rocklin is 35 km north of Sacramento; it’s all big roads and big stores. I’ve heard rumours of a historic town centre, but so far I’ve just seen ginormous stores, which leads me to believe folks here like to shop. I too like to shop, but I prefer consignment shopping, local designers, boutiques, Etsy, that sort of thing. I do not like shopping malls and big box stores make me aggressive. I’ll admit to liking Costco but since I don’t have a car I almost never go there. I abhor Walmart.

Since arriving, mom and I are spending most of our time in nanny’s exceptionally large bedroom, a room larger than any apartment I’ve ever rented. Actually, if you combined the en-suite and walk-in closet, you’d have a square footage about the size of an average Tracey-apartment.

I prefer a Tracey-sized apartment to a big house–you spend less time cleaning and you  have less room for stuff.

Of the 38 designer handbags I found in nanny’s ginormous closet, mom chose the three most suitable for heavy lifting. Through the sorting process we’d found plastic baggie after plastic baggie of loose change stashed in various drawers and armoires throughout the room.

Unless you have an American bank account you can’t just waltz into a bank and demand your coins be turned into bills. Not a problem as my mom had already sleuthed a solution. “We’re going to Walmart,” she’d announced. I cringed, but–for my mother’s sake–only on the inside.

Walmart has this change counting machine. Our collection of enough pennies to build a little-person-sized Statue of Liberty needed one. The machine is called CoinStar, it reminds me of a Vegas slot machine without all the bling. We dumped one baggie after another into its metal screen of a mouth and it recorded the increasing amount visibly on its large screen, for anyone to see. I briefly entertained the idea–in true American-style–that some wayward Walmart shopper would rob us on our way back to the Buick.

After a few minor spills–shouldn’t have worn a minidress–and 20 minutes we’d hit the jackpot: $739.43! Walmart told us it had been the biggest ever Coinstar pay out. Walmart then took 9.5% of it.

After collecting our winnings, we entered the shopping part of the store. My mom suggested we get a frozen lasagna for dinner. I got mad, rolled my eyes, and in my 13-year-old voice declared, “Mother, ew!” We left.

Back at nanny’s house, both of us irritable, mom went to lie down and I went to the fridge. I pulled out the roasted chicken that was to serve three for dinner and devoured half of it. Despite being delicious, my mood dived further as I thought about those poor chickens — I’m a vegetarian.

I needed to move my body. My Fitbit confirmed this by informing me I’d only taken 5,660 steps and it was already 6pm. So, I changed into running attire and headed out into the bright early evening. By 6839 steps (10 minutes?) I was back inside the air-conditioned house. It was too burning hot and I hadn’t brought water nor was I wearing sunscreen–the only toiletry item nanny didn’t have as she never sat in the sun. Still a little grumpy, I ate a bowl of cereal and retired to my room to watch an episode of Madmen on Netflix. I was asleep before it was over.

That was yesterday.

Today, I’m more in the swing of California things. Up before dawn, I’ve drunk two coffees and written for two hours. I’ve located the local trail system using Google maps. I’ve loaded my iPod with a mix of deep house and punk rock. I’ve slathered on the mineral-based sunscreen. I’ve filled up the water bottle. And now, I’m ready to hit the trails!


  1. Hahahaha! wearing a mini dress to Walmart converting change into bills…..
    Fortunately you won’t end up on the Website “People of Walmart” . Hope you and Mommy have some great Mother-Daughter days. Jealous that you’re in 31C. Here it feels around 16/17C and it is sunny. Went for a loooooooong bike reide with a dear bud. xoxoxo


  2. I hear more of your melancholy for the memorial than I do your love for California and that’s about right.

    Btw, what’s a Celsius and Kilometer? Kindly translate degrees and distance BACK to our standard of Fahrenheit and miles before handing out headaches and mixing us up with the rest of the world.

    P.S. Did you make it to the coast yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and for the great comments. From now on I promise to include Fahrenheit and miles while in the good ole USA. Strangely, us Canadians still use imperial for weight and height–go figure.

      I recently learned a useful trick to convert Celsius and Fahrenheit – and one that’s headache free!
      To convert F to C, subtract 30 and multiply by 2:
      90 F – 30 = 60
      60/2 = 30 C

      For C to F do the same calculations in reverse:
      30 C X 2 = 60
      60 + 30 = 90 F

      It’s not exact, but close enough for my purposes.

      I won’t have time for the coast, unfortunately–not until I’m back in Vancouver. Arrived in Arizona last night to take care of my grandmother’s other property.


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