Start at -- or return to -- the beginning Adventures with the Mojave Phone Booth book now available
You will have seen, if you have spent much time at, many instances of "thanks" and "gracias" to a certain "Jean." Petaluma Jean lives in Petaluma, California, and from time to time sends giant surprise boxes of amazing, obscure, and long-looked-for stuff. Hence all those thankses and graciases strewn about the site.

I'd always wondered what Petaluma Jean might be like, but I'd also thought it might be best not to know. You understand, I'm sure: how could the experience of receiving surprise boxes from an unknown out-of-state person be improved upon? But when an old friend found me via a Google vanity search and turned out to be living in, of all places, Petaluma, there seemed to be no way of seeing it as anything other than a sign. I decided that if I made it up to Petaluma to visit Elaine, I would try to meet Petaluma Jean.

I just didn't clear it in advance with Petaluma Jean.

Krishna & Tim H. stepped in to volunteer Petaluma-bound transport. Accordingly, off we went to Petaluma.

The address from her packages made her place a cinch to find -- after, naturally, a stop at Quinley's Drive-In for shakes (for me) and chili cheese fries (for Krishna & Tim, not me, brrrr).

I rang a few times. No answer.

But I knew she was in there.

I stuck one Deuce of Clubs calling card in the doorjam and slid one under the door. Then I took some Wagner photos of the porch to send to Jean later. As we stood at the bottom of the driveway trying to decide what to do next, we heard the sound of a door opening & closing.

I could have rung the doorbell again. Sure. No. I phoned directory assistance. They had her number listed & were kind enough to connect me.

After more than the usual number of rings, a nervous female voice answered. From the calling cards, she already knew who was calling. And she sounded pretty freaked out. And we could see her peeking out at us through the blinds.

Let this be a lesson to those who would mail boxes of unspeakably fun interestingness to strangers.

I told her we could go away for a while and come back ... or we could just plain go away ... whatever she wanted. She requested the former and so we killed a half hour at a thrift store and showed up again on Jean's porch.

This time, Jean opened the door, but asked us to wait on the porch. Moments later she returned with an egg. Before she would let us in her home, she said, there was a required Petaluma tradition to be observed: The Welcome Egg Ceremony. Then she smashed the egg onto the porch.
"It would have been bad luck," Jean explained, "if the egg hadn't broken."

Egg and leg (Jean's)
The fact that part of the egg landed on the steps below signified a safe and successful journey back to Arizona in my soon-to-be-picked-up eBay-purchased van.

This was my own interpretation.

Start at -- or return to -- the beginning