What is hope? Hope is faith that my expectation will come to pass. Hope is confidence, optimism and anticipation. Hope is an act of courage.
I have hope that today will give me what yesterday failed to do. G and I left home yesterday right after I wrote my morning page. We drove down the winding mountain road to the city of San Diego. We were on a mission to get a stamp of approval on our plans for a solar installation at Mountain Valley Retreat.
MVR holds a dream of a sustainable future in the company of kindred spirits. This small plot of land tucked in a mountain valley aspires to be a place of comfort and healing. The giant oak trees and rich soil, the ever-present sun and pristine air and water tell of their mission and we are but their steward.
We arrived at the County Bureau of Land Management and Use with plot map and grant deed, title insurance policy and assessor’s information in hand. It wasn’t enough. With a page of requirements based on California law, Debra, the woman behind the desk, told me she could not stamp my plans because my grant deed does not pre-date 1969. I bought this house in 2009. It was built in 1986.
The back country of California still has a flavor of the old west. The women who have lived here all their lives don’t color or cut their hair. There is a casual attitude toward rules and laws…a live and let live system of operation that I appreciate. When I called the county six months ago and had them come and look at my fence plans the county road guys showed up. “This is the back county. You don’t need no stinking permits,” they told me with a big grin. Well, okay then.
My solar contractor informed me differently. SDG&E won’t hook my solar into the grid without an inspection and the county won’t inspect without a permit and I can’t get a permit without a grant deed that predates 1969.
So we are heading down the hill again this morning back into the stacks of microfilm housed at the County Assessors building. We made two trips back and forth between the Bureau building and the Assessors building yesterday. Each time we thought we had the holy grail in hand, and each time Debra pointed out a missing sentence that shot us out of the water. We finally ran out of day-light and they locked the doors.
Today we return with Hope. Somewhere in those thousands of cans of microfilm, lies the handwritten name of Mary Elizabeth Redfield. Mary Elizabeth’s parents Quit Claimed our land to her in 1946 along with the adjoining parcel that my neighbor now owns. Between 1946 and 1969 Mary Elizabeth separated the two parcels creating the single parcel I bought in 2009. To get my solar plans stamped so that I can proceed with MVR’s mission, we must find the Grant Deed that created that separation. They are filed by year. The names are listed by first letter of last name but not in alphabetical order. The microfilm is dim and the names are hand written.
I know this is a crazy story but it is true. I know the mission sounds impossible, but I have Hope on my side.


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