I’d gotten up early. The trailer was still. I lifted the corner of the curtain with my finger and looked outside: it was snowing again, hard. Only the week after Christmas, and already the heaviest winter snowfall on record. I dressed, then walked down the short hallway, plugged in the Christmas tree lights, and started breakfast.
Austin woke up next. He came in carrying the new stuffed elephant that had been poking out of his stocking, holding it by the ear. He sat on the edge of the couch and looked at the tree, his eyes full of sleep. I poured pancake batter into small circles in the greased skillet.
“Hey, bub,” I said.
He rubbed his nose and asked, “When do we have to take it down?”
“No special time. We usually wait until the first of the year and make a bonfire out back. You remember last year?”
He shook his head and looked for the first time at me. His brown hair was disheveled and his mouth drooped like my wife’s.
“That’s all right,” I said. “You weren’t even three yet. You’ll like it. We can roast marshmallows.”
“Like summertime at the lake?”
“Exactly. Go snuggle your mom. Breakfast’s about ready.”
He padded off in his flannel pajamas. I turned the radio on low. The weather report said that more heavy snow was expected throughout the day across the Inland Northwest. I flipped pancakes with the spatula, then slid them with the rest onto the plate that I was keeping warm in the oven. I poured more batter into the skillet and looked outside again. I watched the snow fall in big flakes over the rusted storage shed out back and breathed as slowly as I could. The snow had almost covered the truck tire rims that I’d left leaning against the shed.
My wife came down the hall holding Austin’s hand. She was a big woman who’d kept getting bigger after giving birth. She wore a plaid bathrobe and her strawberry-blonde hair was tied up in a short ponytail up high on the back of her head. They both sat on stools at the counter where I’d set places. My wife and I looked at each other.
She said, “To what do we owe this honor?”
I was holding the spatula like a baton. “Can’t I make breakfast for my family?”
“Sure,” she nodded. “Sure you can. Absolutely.”
It was the same tone she’d begun using with me shortly after I’d gotten laid off at the mill in August. She’d used it especially and often after we’d begun to rely on her meager weekday lunch shift over at Bishop’s Marina on the lake. She looked outside and said, “See you got your woolies on. Going for a hike?”
“A buddy I was in the service with called yesterday from Spokane. He’s coming up to go snowmobiling. Asked if I might want to go along. I told him I thought it would be all right.”
She was still looking outside. “Called while I was at work yesterday?”
“But you didn’t think to tell me about it until now.”
She shook her head slowly. Without looking at me, she reached across the counter for her cigarettes and lit one. Then she pushed off the stool and said, “I’m going to take a shower. Please call if you’re going to be late for dinner.”
I watched the back of her go down the hall. Then I brought over the pancakes, and Austin and I ate in silence.
I was supposed to meet Danny at the Coolin turnoff on Route 57. I had the truck parked back under some trees. But Danny was late, so I ran the heater every now and
then to try to stay warm but not waste gas. No other cars were in the turnoff; very few vehicles went by at all. It was just too nasty out. I wished I’d brought a thermos of coffee, but in the end, I’d just wanted to get out away from home as quickly as possible.
Danny didn’t show up until almost ten o’clock. He was pulling the snowmobile on a trailer behind his truck. I walked out of the trees and Danny pushed the passenger door open for me. The heat from inside hit me full on, and so did the smell of reefer.
“Man,” Danny said, “I’m sorry. This damn weather. I got stuck behind three wrecks, and I left Spokane before seven.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said.
“Well,” Danny asked, “you jacked or what? Could we have picked a better day than this?”
I shook my head. Danny had an old Tom Petty cassette playing in the dashboard. He nodded his head, it seemed to me, to the music. We’d spent some time together at Camp Pendleton, then later at Paris Island, but to say I knew Danny well would have been a stretch.
“All right,” I said and pointed. “If we’re going to do this, let’s go.”
We drove without talking towards Coolin. It seemed funny that we should find nothing to say after so long apart and given what we were planning. Danny drummed his thumbs on the steering wheel. We rounded the big curve before the Dickensheet Bridge, crossed over Priest River, passed the landfill, and turned right at Wood’s service station and tavern, which was shut up tight and dark. We passed no one on that leg, or on the
one to the “Y” up above Cavanaugh Bay where we parked up a little dead-end road that I knew about from riding motorbikes as a boy.
We didn’t speak as we unhitched the snowmobile and slid it off the trailer. Danny took a Flexible Flyer sled with wooden slat sides out from the under the shell of his truck and hooked it to the back of the snowmobile. He put a flashlight, a tire iron, a small fishing tackle box of tools, and an empty meal-sized Tupperware container into a burlap sack, wrapped that in a green garbage sack, and bungee-corded the whole thing inside the sled.
“That’s it?” I asked.
“Yep,” Danny nodded. “That’s it.”
He took two helmets out of the back of the truck and handed one to me. We pulled them over our knit caps and pulled our ski gloves tight. In a muffled voice, Danny said, “Ready, Red Rider?”
He climbed onto the snowmobile and tried three times to start it with the choke engaged until it finally caught, coughing. I got on behind him, gave directions, and we started on new snow down the unplowed road that passed behind the back of the airstrip to the lake.
Danny couldn’t go very fast because of the swirling snow, but he went more aggressively than was safe. I kept my head turned to the side and watched for the lake. For a while, there were only the trees and bushes fleeing by below Sundance Peak. Then
we crossed Cougar Creek, and the lake awaited, as always, long and still on the left, gray-blue, with the Selkirk Mountains behind it along the western shore.
After we passed the tip of the peninsula at Four Mile, Baretow Island emerged, then the gumdrop shape of Kalispell Island, and beyond it the gray-green foothills that lightened in shades like octaves into the tall distance where they eventually stretched snow-tipped along the Canadian border. A kind of gentle flush passed over me, as it always did, watching it unfold. We passed the little incline where my father and I first put in our little fishing boat when I wasn’t much older than Austin. Then we crossed Roaring Creek and I shivered again for a different reason because I saw the first line of cabins along the little horseshoe bay that fronted Eastshore Road as it straightened towards the upper lake. I looked for smoke from any of the chimneys, but saw none, and I realized suddenly how badly I’d hoped to see some.
Danny slowed the snowmobile to a stop and turned his head back. I couldn’t see his eyes through the cloudy shield, but his mustache was crusted with ice and his mouth was smiling.
Danny said, “This smooth, or what?”
“It’s pretty smooth.”
“We could take a damn chandelier out and not break a crystal, it’s so smooth. Jesus H. Did we pick a perfect day, or what?”
I just nodded.
“So, where do we start?”
“Up past that next creek. There’s a logging road to the right that goes up to Hunt Lake and a long drive to the left that leads down to all these cabins.”
Danny grinned and whistled. I followed his gaze along the shoreline.
“Nice places,” Danny said. “What are there, twenty or so along here?”
“And you’re sure that Captain-guy lives far enough up the road?”
“The Colonel. And yes.” I pointed. “See that island? That’s Eight Mile. He lives way the hell up there.”
I’d worked summers for the Colonel as a pile driver on the lake before getting the mill job a few years back. I knew that only the Colonel wintered along this stretch of shore and that his cabin was well past Indian Creek campground more than two miles away. Plus, he’d never be out on a day like this.
Danny gunned the engine, shifted, and we climbed the rise, rounded the bend across the creek, and turned down the frontage lane between the cabins and the road. I tapped him on the shoulder and gestured to a woodshed along the first drive. Danny pulled under the corrugated tin roof next to a neatly stacked pile of tamarack and turned off the engine. We climbed off the snowmobile and took off our helmets.
Danny looked at me and shook his head. “Hell, we don’t even need the damn tarp. Hell, if we looked a little harder we could probably find a damn garage with a space
heater. This is too damn easy. Even if somebody wanted to follow us, was intent on it, the snow would cover our tracks like that.” He tried to snap his gloved fingers.
I shrugged. “So far, so good, I guess.”
“Jesus H.,” Danny said and unhooked the sled.
We started down between the trees to the first cabin, which was like a small log lodge with dark green shutters. At the back door, Danny didn’t hesitate. He just took out the tire iron, shoved it in the door jam, and pulled hard back and forth until the wood splintered and the lock gave way.
Watching him, I thought of that muggy evening on a bluff near Beaufort, South Carolina, where we’d first talked about this. It was late after a day of daring one another with girls on the beach. We were drinking beer and looking at the stars over the ocean. Danny had told me about how he and a buddy had broken into some places at a resort lake in Minnesota just before they’d graduated from high school and Danny’s dad had moved his family west. Seven little cabins in a row, Danny said, maybe an hour total; they’d only been interested in cash. I’d told Danny about Priest Lake, which Danny had never visited even though he’d lived in Spokane for two years before enlisting and it was only ninety miles away. As we drank more beer, the idea somehow evolved into a winter scheme and Danny said he knew some guys in Portland who’d pay well for jewelry, silverware, credit cards, things like that.
We got sent different places after Paris Island and lost touch. I forgot about our talk, or at least rarely thought about it again, until the day before when, out of the blue and after four years, I answered the telephone and heard Danny’s voice. I’d been out of work going on five months with nothing in sight. And my wife had her attitude. I thought it wouldn’t be hard to dole out any money I got a bit at a time. And if she became curious and started asking questions, I could say I’d won it playing poker with my old pal Danny and some of his cronies after snowmobiling.
So, with my heart hammering, I followed Danny into that empty, cold cabin with its pine walls and its still-new smell and looked through the bathrooms and living room
while Danny searched the bedrooms. I found an old Rolex watch with a chip in the face and Danny found three paper-clipped travelers’ checks for fifty dollars each under some socks. We put both in the Tupperware container and I followed Danny through the snow to the next cabin as he pulled the sled behind him.
After that, it was pretty easy to keep going. Since noise and stealth were not factors, we used the crowbar with regard to neither. Although the electricity was turned off in most of the cabins, there was plenty of natural light from outside to search by. And it was too cold not to wear gloves, so leaving fingerprints was of no concern. We moved through the first few cabins quickly and with some urgency, but gradually slowed our pace and began searching each cabin unhurriedly. In one, I came upon Danny in a bedroom with his face buried in a pair of woman’s underwear; in another, I came downstairs to find him sitting tipped back in a recliner smoking a roach and flipping the pages in a movie magazine. I began to linger over photographs: families on docks, at bar-b-ques, out on boats, couples in embrace at sunset, children growing older on dim hallway walls from one picture to another. I recognized a number of people vaguely from my days working on the pile driver. I came across one snapshot in a standing frame of an older man I’d helped change a tire on the side of the road one early fall evening outside of Priest River. I was almost certain the woman in another had been the valedictorian in my older brother’s high school class.
We did better that we’d hoped finding things of value: several checkbooks and credit cards, a set of antique silver in its original cherry wood box, a laptop computer, and over several hundred dollars in cash, which Danny kept adding to a roll in the zippered pocket of his ski pants. The Tupperware container was better than half-full of jewelry.
We came upon two things at the end that I would later regret. The first was a Husquvarna chainsaw sitting next to the backdoor of the last cabin. It looked as if it had never been used, but when I squatted down next to it, I could see that it had just been extremely well-cared for: cleaned and oiled, and the teeth individually sharpened.
“Boy,” I heard myself say, “that’s something.”
“What?” Danny asked.
“The chainsaw. Mine’s busted to hell. Shot.”
“You want it? We got room. Take it.”
“Hell, man,” Danny said. He lifted the chainsaw himself and slid it into the burlap sack. He crisscrossed the bungee cords over the load on the sled, strapped it tight and we started back up the path on fresh snow, the flurries now blowing into our faces.
The second thing was the scratching at the back of the woodshed after we’d reattached the sled to the snowmobile and were about the leave. We stepped around a
box of cedar kindling and saw the source of the sound: a ground squirrel caught in a trap by its right hind leg. It lay on its side pawing weakly in the sawdust, its mouth yawning slowly, a trickle of blood coming from its ear. My eyes and the small, marble-like, black eyes of the ground squirrel met. I knelt down next to it.
“Let’s go,” Danny said, “Damn thing probably has rabies.” He pulled on his helmet, climbed on the snowmobile, started it the first time, and backed it out of the shed. “Come on, cowboy. Time to hit the trail.”
I stood up and pulled on my own helmet. I looked back at the ground squirrel, then at Danny. “Maybe we should put it out of its misery. Bury it somewhere.”
“Not in this life,” Danny told me and throttled the engine. “Come on.”
It couldn’t have been much past two o’clock and already the light was falling. The snowmobile idled two-stroke oil exhaust into the white snow. The wind had lessened, but the dizzy canopy of fat, slow flakes still tumbled everywhere. I glanced back at the squirrel a last time, got on, and we left.
Back at the truck, Danny first started the truck’s engine and heater. We secured the snowmobile on the trailer and put the sled with its load in the back under the shell. When we got into the cab, it was already warm. Danny took off his coat, gloves, and hat, cranked up the music, and sang with it while we drove back to where I’d left my own rig. Danny pulled in behind it, then put the truck in park, leaving the engine to idle. He put his right arm over the back of the seat and turned to me.
“Well,” he said nodding, “that was sweet.”
I nodded back, I hoped, without apparent reluctance.
Danny asked, “So, how do you want to play this?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re the expert.”
“Well, we could do it several ways. Seems to me fifty-fifty’s pretty fair. You found the gig, but it’s my old man’s snowmobile. You’re taking a bigger chance living up here, but I’ve got the contacts to run this stuff.”
“That’s fine,” I said.
“All right. I guess we’re on the same page so far. So we can just split the cash and I can send you a money order or something for half of whatever I get in Portland. Unless you want to drive over with me tomorrow.”
“No,” I shook his head. “I’m not interested in making that trip.”
“Course you could just take the cash we got and I could sell the rest for whatever I can get. Course I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it’ll probably be more than a few hundred smacks. Maybe considerably more.”
“That sounds all right,” I said. “That’d be fine by me.”
“And of course the chainsaw’s yours. I’m thinking of heading down to Palm Springs for a while, get out of this weather. Not much use for a chainsaw there.”
Danny grinned and stuck out his hand. I shook it. Danny took the roll of cash out of his pocket and handed it to me. Then we climbed out of the cab and walked to the back of the truck. I wrapped the chainsaw in the green garbage sack, and Danny followed me with it to my truck. I slid the chainsaw behind the seat, climbed up into the cab, and started my own engine and heater. Danny stood in his plaid workshirt and dark ski pants in the falling snow holding the open door.
He said, “Well, I’ll call you after Portland. Tell you how things turned out.”
I shook his head. “You’d better not. My wife might get suspicious.”
“Okay.” Danny nodded his head. “And I guess we’d better not think about pulling another stunt like this around here anytime soon.”
“So, you know how to get in touch with me in Spokane.”
“Give me a call, we’ll go get a beer.”
Danny was still nodding his head. He looked up the road, then slowly back. “You ever hear from Drexel or Bannister?”
“Nah.” I shook my head.
“Me neither. Peterson get married?”
“I guess. Last I heard, that was the plan.”
“He still in?”
“As far as I know.”
“Those were good times,” Danny said.
“Yes, they were,” I lied.
“Damn straight.” Danny slapped me on the thigh. “Listen, you take care.” He stepped back and started to shut the door. “Drive safe in this mess.”
Danny closed the door and I watched him walk back through the snow to his truck. We both backed out. Danny went south towards Priest River, and I turned up Route 57 towards home. I flipped the headlights on. I wished I had a radio to listen to, but it was broken.
At Nordham, I stopped at the mini-mart for gas. I chose a family comedy to rent from the video rack and bought a frozen pound cake, a package of microwave popcorn,
and two sixteen ounce cans of beer. I talked with the cashier, a guy I’d played junior varsity basketball with in high school, about the snow and logging permits for a few minutes, then walked back outside into the twilight that was wild again with blowing snow.
I drove slowly watching the snowflakes dance in the headlights and finished both beers before I reached the trailer. I turned off the engine and sat for a moment looking at my wife and son through the trailer’s front window. They were taking down ornaments from the tree. I could see the television on behind them. I thought I’d wait until my wife was at work on Monday to move the chainsaw into the shed. I tried not to think about the man who had owned and cared for it. The beers helped a little in that regard. I thought he’d keep the cash in the shoebox with my military memorabilia. I thought that would be
a safe place, but I felt lousy about keeping it there and I hadn’t had enough beer to dull that; I had more in the trailer.
I was sorry to see the Christmas decorations come down. In fact, I felt close to tears. I was becoming cold. I climbed out of the truck and walked inside.
I was able to convince my wife to leave the lights up on the tree. But shortly thereafter, we got in another fight. I hadn’t realized the movie I’d rented was one we’d already seen. And I’d forgotten to get a can of pork and beans.
We watched the movie anyway, and I had a couple more beers. For a while, I could forget about things and focus on the movie. Afterwards, I gave Austin his bath and tucked him in. But that reminded me of my father and then I was in trouble. Because my father had cared for his tools, too. And then there was the fact that he’d been a fly fisherman who was strictly catch and release. I kept thinking of the time that cutthroat had swallowed the hook and got itself tangled in submerged tree roots and by the time my father was able to unsnag it, the fish had fought the life out of itself. I couldn’t forget how grim and quiet he’d become afterwards.
If not for those things, I might have gotten away with it within myself. Instead, I knew as I was toweling off Austin from his bath, and noticed for the first time that his ears were my own and those of my father, that I’d try somehow try to undo things. I didn’t know how, but there was no question in my mind that I would try.
I tucked Austin into bed laid down next to him. I listened to his breathing slow into sleep. Later, I heard my wife turn off the TV, heard her heavy footsteps lumber down the hallway, heard our mattress sag, heard her begin to snore softly herself. In spite of the alcohol, in spite of the things I’d try to do to calm himself, in spite of the perfect stillness, I knew that sleep would be a long time coming for me.
The next morning before dawn, I rose, dressed, put the cash in my pocket, took an apple from the kitchen, and went out to the shed. The snow had lightened, but was still falling. It was dark and very quiet. I found my old pair of cross country skis and a knapsack, stored them in the truck, and drove out to where Danny had parked at the Y above Cavanaugh Bay the day before. I ate the apple while I strapped on the skis and put the chainsaw into the knapsack. I fit the knapsack over my shoulders; the weight was awkward but manageable.
It had been years since I’d used the skis and I knew they weren’t properly waxed. I took a couple of tentative slides and could do little more than lurch and scoot a bit. But it was better than walking. I figured it was two or three miles to the cabins. So much snow had fallen that there was no indication that I could see that the snowmobile had ever been there. The sky above Sundance was just beginning to lighten, like a tiny splash of
cream in black coffee. A small breeze tossed around the few snowflakes that still fell. I started down the road behind the airstrip.
It was slow going and I was badly out of shape. I grew hot inside the jacket, but kept it buttoned. A few times, one of my skis sunk into a drift and I found myself
crotch deep in snow. It was a production to free myself and my breath came in heaves, but none of that really mattered. I plodded on.
At Cougar Creek, I stopped for a drink of water and the first glimpse of the lake, gray and still, the islands to the north just visible in the softening light. I upset a flock of quail a little past Roaring Creek, near the old logging road that headed up to the falls, but that was all. Otherwise, it was just my forced breaths, the stillness, the delicate wisps of snow, and the gathering light of morning until I reached the long drive to the cabins.
I skied down to the last cabin first. I replaced the chain saw carefully where I’d found it. Then I continued along and just divided the money up randomly, setting a portion inside each doorway where we’d been the day before, working my way back hastily to the first log cabin with the green shutters. I didn’t try to figure out what had been taken where; I simply portioned out the money as fairly as I could. I didn’t even get out of the skis, and I didn’t study the damage we’d caused. I just wanted to be done with the whole thing as quickly as possible.
On my way out, I did pause at the woodshed where we’d parked the snow machine. Snow had drifted over all but the squirrel’s head. It was dead now, stiff on the dirt, its black eye still open, the trickle of blood dried and darkened. I brushed away the snow and released its leg from the trap, then brought it behind the wood shed under
the eaves and scooped out a shallow grave in the pine needles and hard dirt there with my gloves. I covered the squirrel with needles and rocks.
I stood for a moment and looked over the tops of the cabins over the lake. I said, “That’s it, then.”
They were the first words I’d spoken that day. I couldn’t tell if I felt better or not. I felt numb, but I always felt similarly when I hadn’t slept. I wished I could do something about the ruined doorways and the other things wed taken, but I couldn’t. And if somehow, Danny got caught, I could only hope it wouldn’t lead to me. A chill tumbled down my neck. I thought, stop it. I thought, that’s all I can do. I blew out a cloud of breath and started back up the frontage road.
I skied steadily, getting into a kind of rhythm without the weight of the chainsaw. I was most of the way down road behind the airstrip when I first heard what sounded like a motorcycle approaching. Blood rose up through my chest, up the sides of my neck, behind my ears. I stopped and turned around. I listened to my own heaving breath slow in short cloud blasts as a headlight neared and I recognized the Colonel on his four-wheeler spraying two feathers of snow behind him. I swallowed.
The Colonel was wearing one of those fleece-lined jumpsuits the old timers at the mill favored in the winter and a fleece-lined, flop-eared cap. He stopped the four-wheeler next to me and pushed his goggles up over the front of the cap.
He squinted and said, “That you, Timmy?”
“What the hell you doing? Out exercising?”
“Getting some fresh air. Cooped up with all this snow, you know. How are you, Colonel?”
The old man just nodded, then said, “Drive all the way over here to ski? That’s a lot of trouble, isn’t it?”
I gestured the way I’d come with a ski pole. “Pretty over here. Quiet.”
“It is that,” the Colonel said.
“My old man and I used to come over here sometimes to do this when I was little.”
The Colonel nodded some more. I looked back up the road. I couldn’t tell to what extent the falling snow had covered my tracks. It was impossible to determine at what point the Colonel had noticed them. I wished it was snowing like the day before, but it wasn’t.
“How is your dad? How’s he feeling?” the Colonel asked.
“I haven’t seen him for a while. I’m glad he’s improving. He’s a good man, your dad.”
I nodded and said, “Yes, he is.”
“And you used to ski together back in the day?”
“Not far. Maybe down to the put-in by the creek.”
“That’s a pretty good fishing spot,” the Colonel said. “You can still catch some there, but too many people know about it now.”
I said. “I guess you’re right.”
“Good memories, though,” the old man said. “All right, then. I saw the tracks back there and wondered, what the hell?”
I didn’t know what to say, so I just nodded and stamped snow from my skis. I knew that later on, the whole thing might still blow up, but there was nothing I could do about that. I looked at the Colonel again and thought about the time we’d spent together on the pile driver when I was just an ornery kid that didn’t know squat. The Colonel looked the same as he had then, grizzled and sharp. The snow was beginning to lighten and there were streaks of blue to the west.
The Colonel asked, “Where you parked?”
“Up at the Y.”
The old man grinned. “You almost got her licked.”
I waited for him ask about how far I’d skied, but he didn’t.
Instead he asked, “Any word about the mill rehiring?”
“Not that I’ve heard.”
“Maybe down to Priest River?”
I shrugged and said, “Maybe. Have to wait till spring, I guess.”
The Colonel nodded and looked me over. Standing there, and with the snow lessening, it had grown colder.
The Colonel smiled and asked, “Don’t suppose you want a ride the rest of the way.”
I shook his head. “Nah, I’m fine.”
The Colonel nodded some more and throttled the engine a little. “Okay, say hello to your dad for me.”
I nodded and lifted a pole in farewell. It seemed to me a meager gesture. I watched the old man go off up the road. I watched him grow small and listened to the motor die away until I saw his four-wheeler turn left and disappear at the Y.
Maybe the Colonel was going into Coolin for breakfast. Maybe he was just out for a ride. I had no real inkling. All I knew was that it didn’t matter. What was done was done. You broke a glass on the floor, then you swept it up, but it was still broken. That was the thing. Even if I never got caught, that was the thing. Even if I found a way to save some money and get it back to the people in those cabins, even if it was enough to pay for repairs and the other stolen goods and I was never caught and I never heard from Danny again and I went home and hugged my family, even if we went over to my parents’ for Sunday dinner and my dad and I talked about fishing and my dad seemed a little stronger and then the mill called and I got my job back and things got better with my wife, it wouldn’t matter. As far as what I’d done went. As far as what I’d chosen to do. That wouldn’t go away. I could never precisely be the same. Even if I became better somehow, if my character improved, the exact person I’d been when I’d awakened the morning before was irretrievable.
I’d ski up to the truck, then get in it and decide what to do next. But, I thought, what did it matter? Whatever I did yesterday was done, couldn’t be undone, and
whatever I did today would be history tomorrow. That would never change. It was so cold.
I said quietly, “You’d better be careful.”
About the Author
William Cass has had a little over seventy short stories accepted for publication in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies, including the winning selection in The Examined Life Journal’s writing contest. He lives and works as an educator in San Diego, California.