• Guardian of the Tide Pools and Friend of the Ticks Loses Her Home

    by Erika Fiske

    She’s been as much a fixture in Pacific Grove as the Post Office, or Lover’s Point. For years, residents have passed her big, old motor home parked each day by the ocean, near the tide pools, not far from the lighthouse.

    But not anymore. Recently, someone crashed into the back of Tricia’s home on wheels and fled, leaving his car behind. The driver was never found, and the owner listed on the registration says he sold the car. Tricia was listed on the accident report as a “transient,” and her old motor home with its leaky roof, and the words “All Life is Sacred” scrawled across the back, couldn’t be fixed and was towed away.

    After removing her belongings and putting them with friends and in storage, Tricia and her old black cat Maui (pronounced Mooe) became homeless once again.

    These days 69-year-old Tricia calls home a room at the Motel 6 in Marina. The door is open most of the time, as she needs fresh air as much as the birds and bees, and 15-year-old Maui comes and goes like a jungle cat. He entered her life years ago as a stray, stalking Tricia as she hung clothes on a line, and biting her toes. He nearly died recently, when one of his companions–another of Tricia’s old cats named Chiana — passed on at the age of 15.

    “She was a wonderful tide pool companion,” Tricia said, recalling how Chiana loved to roam among the tall grasses near the water. The day Chiana stopped eating, her companion Maui stopped as well. Finally, Tricia called her “intuitive” in Mill Valley, a man named Greg Booi, who’s able to heal and balance humans and animals from far away. Soon, Maui began eating again, and Greg used his powers to clear up another problem, tumors around Maui’s bladder.

    Cats have always been an important part of Tricia’s life. “I consider myself their person,” she said. But in fact, there isn’t an animal she dislikes. When she had her motor home, it wasn’t unusual to see a ground squirrel climb into the side door looking for a snack. A blind raccoon in the area also found a kind heart in Tricia.

    Like the abalone we work so hard to protect along our coast, and the otters who entertain us daily, Tricia is something rare and precious to all the local creatures, from the tiniest insects to the largest whales. She’s often told the tale of how she became one with even mosquitoes and ticks, which she says no longer bite her.

    For years now, Tricia has made it her job to pick up trash and watch over the tide pools, protecting them from poachers, or people who don’t realize how easily the creatures and plants are injured or damaged. Tricia will be missed by those who make their homes along our rocky shore.

    While local agencies try to find a place for her, she never knows what the next day will bring. Even at a weekly rate, motels are too expensive for her with what she gets from social security. Her Canadian friend Sharon, a retired animal communicator, sent some money recently, worried Tricia wasn’t getting enough help in this community she calls home.

    But money isn’t her only problem. Tricia has dealt with a lifetime of bipolar depression, trying to live as healthy as possible without using meds. She looks fit and full of life. Over the years, however, she’s had her down times, when she just asks to be left alone to read books–with her cat napping nearby. Tricia is an avid reader, something that helped her transform her life from partying to contemplation.

    Right now she has a dream she’ll probably never realize. She’d like to find a motor home that runs on solar and alternative fuels, pack her things and go on a cross country trip with Maui to Minnesota, Ohio, up to Prince Edward Island, down the East coast through the Southern states, New Mexico, Colorado and who knows, maybe back here eventually.

    It’s a dream, she knows. But what’s life without a dream? Or a spiritual quest?

    Tricia began her quest in 1980, when she gave up a high-flying life and even her television to pursue her spiritual studies. “Life wasn’t working for me as it was,” Tricia said. “I’d done a lot the first part of my life, but there was this big gap.”

    That gap seems to have been filled by all kinds of helpers—over 30 guides, for instance, led by one talkative fellow from the plant world named Green Bean. They flitter in and out of Tricia’s thoughts, dispensing their wisdom. And then there’s Francis (the Catholic St. Francis who looks after animals and is channeled by Tricia). He’s the one who talked her into living in the motor home to begin with. Tricia was introduced to him by an animal communicator, and soon learned that Francis had other plans for her than living a normal life in a regular house.

    “From the time I can remember, I’ve been having conversations with God,” Tricia added. She even remembers having those conversations in the days when she played pool in a topless bar she owned with her former husband in Los Angeles.

    That’s right, a topless bar. Back then she went by the name of Patti. It might as well have been another lifetime—of which Tricia believes we have many. It was a time before she learned from her studies and conversations with guides that anything that isn’t pure energy is just an illusion. Love and light are part of the pure energy that makes up the universe, she said, while hate and fear are illusions. And it was a time before her mother died, and before St. Francis urged her to leave Pacific Grove and move back to Minnesota.

    Before all this change, Tricia was a jet setter of sorts in L.A., a little wild, living in a world of nightclubs, alcohol, drugs and lots of guys. She was born in 1942 in Fargo, ND. “My father and I were two peas in a pod,” she said, recalling his immense energy, the twinkle in his eye, and the smile on his face.

    After the war, the family lived on various farms in Minnesota, with no electricity and only a radio. Her mother played the piano, her father the guitar. Tricia would sing, even at three years of age. They had lots of animals, including a couple of work horses named Bill and Kate, and a riding horse named Blue Boy.

    Tricia’s mother hated the farm, and developed Addison’s Disease. “It was hatred turned inward,” Tricia explained. But Tricia’s father didn’t like the city life in California, which his wife preferred. If he was going to live in a city, it would have to be Moorhead, MN. There he transported milk from dairy farms to market and later drove trucks for a living.

    Tricia worked as a car hop and at the local theatre. She liked to have fun, partying with the other kids, smoking and drinking. She was the first family member on her father’s side to graduate high school.

    From there, she went to Hollywood and attended a top hair styling school, Comer and Doran. She worked at a variety of salons and owned one, Patti Laine. She provided facials, pedicures and body wraps, and learned massage at The Palms of Palm Springs. Soon Tricia began living life on the wild side.

    In August of 1964, she married and got into the nightclub business with her husband Dick. The go-go bar offered hard liquor, beer from the tap and seating for 250. Eventually go-go dancing gave way to topless dancers. “The vice squad said we were the best run topless nightclub,” she added with a smile, noting that her dancers at least put something on when they were out mingling with customers.

    Tricia wore conservative, tailored clothing and heels while she played pool it her club. “I partied in Beverly Hills with the best of them,” she said, even snorting cocaine on one occasion. Then, on a party night in Malibu, Dick fell and cut himself badly, requiring hospitalization and surgery. Tricia had to learn to run the nightclub, doing the books and payroll for about 50 employees–bartenders, bouncers, dancers and waitresses.

    The couple lived in a mini-mansion in Santa Monica, near Beverly Hills, with a four-car garage and two new Cadillacs a year. But there were problems. Dick was a womanizer, which eventually led to the couple separating. “I was always a prima donna. I didn’t like to play second fiddle,” she said, laughing. “Sometimes I did tit-for-tat.”

    One of the tit-for-tats was Harry, who entered Tricia’s life after she left her husband. Later she lived with a fellow named Buddy. Tricia moved from place to place in the area and had a variety of jobs. She remembers seeing Sonny and Cher often in the days before they became famous, and recalls working for a star of Peyton Place, cooking dinners at his West Hollywood home for many celebrities, including Charlton Heston. She even worked as a “chip girl,” dressed in a white blouse and black pants, collecting money from patrons at gambling establishments. “I was a Jack of all Trades,” she said.

    Tricia started her spiritual journey after receiving counseling in 1979 at a free clinic. Then, in 1981, she attended a presentation by the Swami Muktananda. During his three-and-a-half-hour program, a peacock feather he was wearing kept touching Tricia as she sat in the front row. It was a sign from the Universe, and she’s never turned back.

    Tricia believes she has worked many lifetimes for God, “or whoever created us,” she said. “We’ve all got God energy within us.”

    It was Tricia’s spiritual quest that led her to Pacific Grove, Bill Little and the Pacific Coast Church in 1982. “I was devoted to the church and him,” she said, becoming very involved in fundraising.

    Among other things, Tricia gave facials, massages, pedicures and did waxing and electrolysis at various salons in Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel. After a fall in 1990, she struggled with pain and depression. She would learn later that she’s been “doing the depression for a whole soul group—a group of people having problems with depression.”

    In 1995, St. Francis asked Tricia to return to Minnesota, where she had many magical experiences living on a farm. In fact, Tricia’s life seems to have been one big adventure, which grew more difficult in recent years back in California, when she had to live in the motor home full-time. As it aged, it developed mechanical problems and leaked when it rained. She and the cats had many cold, damp nights.
    “I didn’t particularly like the 12 years of homelessness, living on the streets,” she admitted. The suggestion that she buy the old motor home and live in it came from St. Francis.

    Tricia returned to Pacific Grove in 2000 and stayed with friends, in motels, at a monastery and finally as a volunteer at Dorothy’s Place in Salinas, where she met the founder, Robert Smith. “Robert was a modern day St. Francis,” Tricia said.
    Because people there were dealing with so many problems, from drugs to alcohol to homelessness, Dorothy’s Place “pushed every one of my buttons. I had to spend time there to clean out my buttons,” she said. But she also learned something. “I’d look into their eyes and see God,” she recalled. “They taught me all the ropes of living homeless.”

    Tricia eventually wound up on the shores of Pacific Grove, where she’s tried to educate people about our fragile ecosystem. “We need to stop using all the chemicals that are poisoning our air, land and sea. We need to stop trashing Mother Earth,” she said.
    She’s especially concerned about all the cigarette butts thrown on the ground and winding up in tide pools. “It’s not acceptable. The water system is too fragile,” she said.

    Tricia has seen people take drift wood, shells, abalone and buckets full of snails from the tide pool areas, all prohibited. “And they harass the crabs something awful,” she said. “They take them out of their environment, leaving them on the beach to see where they’ll go.”
    Despite all she’s done to protect these areas and pick up trash, Tricia’s had her problems with locals who didn’t want her parking by the ocean each day. Her vehicle was egged, she was visited by police and she was given a $400 ticket once, but Tricia remained. She also made a lot of friends.

    Among them were the owners of Hollister RV. “Over the years, they did a lot of work as a gift,” she said. “And they gave me presents on Christmas and for birthdays. It would take me three days to tell you all they did for me.”
    Since losing her RV, Tricia has stayed at motels, with some help from MCHOME Homeless Services. The agency told Tricia it could take one to three months to find her a place to live. In the meantime, she continues to dream of that special motor home she would like to drive someday. And if there’s a tick or a mosquito anywhere near her Marina motel room, chances are she’s already introduced herself, and made another friend.

    Ed. note: We met Tricia when she let us know that someone had decimated a dune near Asilomar searching for treasure with a metal detector. We ran the picture on the front page to remind people of how fragile our environment is.
    When Erika Fiske submitted this story, she asked us to run it this week as Tricia, having lost her motor home, was about to lose even her motel room.

    That afternoon, a local lady with three aging dogs in tow came into our new offices and said that a previous story we’d run about a homeless veteran who needed an operation but couldn’t leave his dog had touched her heart. She cried, she said, and she wanted to offer to care for the dog while the man was hospitalized, and then, when he was out of the hospital, to care for him as well. She had a spare room, she said. Would we put her in touch with Erika?

    We reached Erika, who wanted to know if the woman could possibly offer a temporary space to Tricia and her cat. Last Wednesday, Tricia and Maui moved in with the Pacific Grove woman. It’s temporary, of course, but what a story it makes and we are grateful to Erika for brokering the arrangement. We hope Maui can cope with the little, old dogs (one blind, one missing an eye) at least until an agency can find a place for Tricia, or even a motor home.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on June 15, 2012

    Topics: Homeless Chronicles

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