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Archive for March, 2018

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Almost a week has gone by since I returned from Mendocino. Most of the time, I have felt too exhausted to do much other than driving HRM to and from school, sleeping, and reading. Hopefully, I will get back to swimming this weekend. The weather seems to be getting warmer.

SWAC returns in early March. It will probably better for all concerned that I leave for the month or so that she will be here. While it is a bit of a bother, I look forward to a little traveling if my health allows. The problem I have is in deciding where to go and what to do when I get there.

On March 24th, I intend to accompany Peter to another concert at SFJAZZ. That breaks things up nicely in the middle. Two weeks in March during which I can travel visiting friends in other parts of California and perhaps stay with my sister and George in Mendocino for a few days. Then, my finances willing, spending the next three weeks or so in Italy, or Thailand or on some adventure cruise somewhere. Alas, this needs all too much planning. I hate that. Probably, I’ll just drift and see what happens. Something always does. Didn’t I just go through this a month ago?

Recently, Dick requested an update from the school counselor about HRM’s performance. Amid a generally upbeat report, the counselor mentioned that in a recent History exam on a question to be answered in three paragraphs, the first two paragraphs of HRM’s answer were “positively brilliant” but the third was, “from Mars.” Should we worry?

On Saturday, after almost a month of finding reasons not to do so, some real others make believe, I got it together to exercise again. Even while I sat at the edge of the pool, I still told myself it would be too cold, I was too sick or tired yadda, yadda, yadda and I should simply return home, clutch my hot pad, and put myself back to bed. But, in the end, I dove in and enjoyed myself immensely. I feel good tonight, better than I have felt in a while.

That same night, I had a wonderful dream that seemed to last for hours. In that dream, there was an ancient Roman Ruin located on San Francisco’s shoreline somewhere near Candlestick Point (this is a dream after all). There the Roman Nobility would greet the ships returning from war, their holds full to bursting with treasure. It was decided by the present day city fathers to restore those ruins as another tourist attraction — sort of like Fisherman’s Wharf. To kick everything off, they held a grand party in the ruins prior to restoring them. I assisted in the preparations for the party throughout the day. That night, the rich and the powerful and even the not so rich and powerful arrived dressed in period costumes, togas, chitons and the like. The richest and most powerful men were often old and shriveled with paper thin skin and blue veins pulsing beneath. The women came in all shapes and sizes and were aggressive and bejeweled.

Each room had something different going on — different food, music, dances, conversation, drinks and the like. I visited most of them and enjoyed it, especially the dancing and the music.

During the evening, I noticed there were about five or six people who traveled through those rooms and hallways that had not been fixed up for the party. They clearly were searching for something. One large room was filled with water and they used small boats to search for whatever they were looking for. They appeared to be led by a tall, handsome man dressed in a tuxedo.

Later, after most of the guests had left, I joined them. I never learned what it was they were looking for, but I enjoyed going from room to room with them looking for it. Later, we all sat by a campfire in the corner of a vacant roofless room and talked about lots of things for awhile.

Dawn came. I knew that I would have to wake up soon and rejoin my waking life. I was a bit sad knowing I probably would never return.

While I lay in my bed in that grey time between sleep and wakefulness, I wondered if the dreams of our waking life were our reality — whether life was just a long daily slog from the darkness of the womb to the night with no morning or if it was a series of time garbled one night stands that go on changing each night forever.

The week has gone silently by. Looking out the window as I enjoy my afternoon snacks of Oreo cookies dunked in milk, I watch the days zip by like cars on a freeway.

I have given some thought to my spring travels. One half or about 3 weeks I probably will wander about California visiting friends. The other half, when I began to look into it, seemed to depend somewhat on cost.Thailand, Italy, A Caribbean cruise, and Cuba all seem to cost about the same and may be affordable. Only my dream boat trip down the Peruvian Amazon looks as though it is too expensive. I still need to get a new car. Oh well, I guess I will kick the can down the road for another week or so. Maybe something will happen to force a decision or change my options.

The week has trundled by. During my walk around the lakes this morning, I saw the first greening of the trees. It seems to be a bit early for that. I think of the wintertime in the golden hills as the silver time. The naked deciduous trees have a silver cast to them and the often overcast skies are silver also. Late summer is the gold time — golden hills with deep blue skies. Autumn — red, brown and yellow, and spring — virescent and speckled in brazen pastels.

One morning while driving HRM to school, I in my grandfatherly mode mentioned to him that he is now getting big, adult-sized, and that simple physical actions like suddenly spreading his arms wide or rushing through a restaurant that to an adult would seem cute were he a small child, now that he is almost man-sized would make some people frightened and when frightened adults often act angry. I wanted to warn him that now that he is a teenager simple physical actions that may have drew smiles when he was little may cause a different reaction now that he is becoming man-sized. “Stop!” he responded, “I do not want to hear that. I do not want to be a teenager. I do not want to grow up. Why should I want to?” I could not answer that. Sometimes, grandfathers are just old and not too wise.

 

 

B. RAGGED ROBIN’S NATURE NOTES:

End of January means it is time for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – like many of you I’ve been doing this for years and it is always interesting to read on other blogs what people have seen in their gardens.

It was raining heavily on Saturday and there were few birds about so I did my birdwatch yesterday when it was dry and sunny. Our garden faces South making photography (and even watching birds at times!) a bit of a challenge but it did cloud over a bit for the last half hour.

So what did I see?

House Sparrow x 5
Wood Pigeon x 5
Robin x 2 (sometimes we get 3 in the garden and it is amusing to watch the “resident” robin chasing away the other two intruders!
Blackbird x 2
Great Tit x 1
Blue Tit x 3
Dunnock x 3
Goldfinch x 3
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Starling x 1
Long-tailed Tit x 2

As many of you have commented several species fail to put in an appearance during the hour – here it was Magpie, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Wren and Coal Tit. The Blackcap we had on the feeders for about two weeks has disappeared but the Ring-necked Parakeets are still visiting – they turned up an hour after the Birdwatch finished.
MONDAY, 29 JANUARY 2018

(JP — It appears that the non-native Parakeets have become as common in the English Midlands as Parrots have on San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. Sometimes, when I used to walk home from my office in Embarcadero Center to my apartment, the parrots would congregate in the trees that grew in the little park I crossed to reach my building. They were a raucous bunch, as noisy as a singles bar on Friday evenings. Perhaps they were mating too.)

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Hayden and I, March 2011.

The following post from 2011 describes some of my impressions of California upon returning after spending one year living in Thailand.

“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”

“Some of my Impressions of America after a one-year absence”:

“Following the adjustment of my system to the shock of the relatively cool and dismal weather, my initial impression was distress at the dark, drab, shapelessness of the clothing that everyone seems to prefer wearing. It was interesting to me that when I commented to others about my perception they readily agreed that the fashion was indeed dark and perhaps drab, but they denied it was shapeless. One person even went so far as to hold up a dark grey T-shirt as evidence that some people (himself in particular) did not wear shapeless clothing. And indeed, I could discern that it had the classic shape of a T-shirt.”

“Although the Bay Area looked mostly the same wherever I go, the latinization of the Mission district in San Francisco continues unabated, extending at least another 5 to 10 blocks in either direction along that thoroughfare and into the neighborhoods surrounding it. On the other hand, the Sinoization of North Beach appears to have slowed in favor of the Sunset.”

“The Holidays were, as usual, a mixed bag and the serious illnesses and suffering of several of my friends made almost everything appear listless. Nevertheless, my traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my daughter and seeing my son and his family along with my sisters family and my grandchildren cheered me up.”

“During my stay, I re-connected with many friends, Maurice Trad and his daughter Molly, Bill Gates, his daughter and his friend Tiffany, Peter and Barry Grenell, Sheldon Siegel, Terry Goggin et.al. and Bob and Charlotte Uram. Unfortunately, I was only able to contact others by phone.”

“In Sacramento, I spent three lovely days with Bill Geyer and Naida West on their ranch and a day with Stevie and Norbert Dall. Surprisingly, I was asked to take Hayden with me during this time so that his mother could go off to the coast (Pismo Beach) with “friends”. He had just returned the prior evening from spending 5 weeks with a family he hardly knew in Seattle while his mother traveled to Thailand to have what appeared to me to be a facelift. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his company and was quite sad when I had to leave him and return to San Francisco.”

 

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Bill.

I went to see Bill on Thursday having received an email from Naida asking me to come to visit him as soon as possible and containing the following:

“I have been sitting with Bill next to his bed. His coughing woke me at 5 a.m. He asked me what my name was. I told him and, when asked what I’ve done all day, explained that I am his wife and I’ve been taking care of him. He said he’d been put away into in some attic. I told him he’s downstairs. He said he wants to see out the window. I explained that the sun wouldn’t come up for a couple of hours. He said, ‘OK. When it’s light I want to see out the window.’ He also said, ‘I feel weird like I’ve been separated from all civilization’— followed by his characteristic sarcastic ‘huh’ of a laugh.”

I found Bill lying in bed. He appeared relatively upbeat. While Naida was out of the room scurrying about with the two full-time caregivers and the visiting nurse, I sat with him and held his hand. Later, Naida brought us some cookies and milk. As we drank the milk and ate the cookies, Bill turned to me and said, “You know, I always thought I was going to die with a shot glass full of whiskey in my hand, now it looks like instead, I will go out holding a glass of warm milk and a soggy cookie.”

We mostly sat in silence but now and then we talked about old times or about our respective maladies. After a few hours, the skies began to darken and I left promising to return again tomorrow or Saturday on my way to San Francisco to return the cane Peter left behind at my sister’s house.

On my way home, I wondered about how brave people die and why we do not throw up monuments to all those who face the endless dark with grace and humor.

I have not gone swimming in the pool since I returned from Mendocino. It is not that it has been too cold. It is more than I have felt too cold. I walk and lift weights but I feel especially tired and lethargic. Is it a harbinger or merely a result of sleeplessness? My nights are spent in repetitive dream states both exciting and disturbing. I wake often and now and then fear going back to sleep. I have a disturbing feeling in my stomach — heavy like constipation but it does not move.

 

Moe.

Moe has died. I received this from Ruth today:

“I’m not sure how far the grapevine has already reached, so you may already know that, alas, Moe passed away yesterday afternoon.”

“His last round of difficulties began a few days after Thanksgiving with overwhelming inability to breathe. Luckily the property manager stopped in as he was gasping and called 911. I didn’t find out about any of this until the following Monday, by which time Moe was able to talk on the phone. He made it out of the hospital into rehab a few days after that, and Jeoff and I visited him on Saturday 12/15 where we ran into Olga and Marshall. He was to go home, with help, the next Thursday–which was the day I flew to Vancouver, where I still am. Apparently, he did go home but then had another no-breathing episode which put him back in the hospital. He was in a ventilator, but they were unable to wean him from it and he seemed to lose brain function, at which point friends and family did what they (and I) were sure he would have wanted.”

“All I have heard so far is there will be a memorial but not immediately.”

“Please notify anyone you think may not already know and would want to.”

“And I wish you a happier year next year.”

More than an acquaintance and less than a companion, Moe was someone whose life and mine have intertwined or another one way for over 40 years. Rest in peace Moe.

Is it my age or the time of the year that is bringing such sorrow and loss? I do hope it will be a happier year next year.

HRM’s winter vacation is drawing to a close. I do not see him too often. He is at the age where he drifts in and out of the house, a sly smile on his face as though he has just discovered something that the rest of us could not possibly know or understand.

 

Bill.

I was too ill on Friday to drive to Sacramento and visit Bill but on Saturday, feeling a bit better, I set off again. I first stopped at Raley’s and bought some cookies, candies, and dates for them. Remembering Bill’s quip about milk and booze, I purchased a small bottle of Jack Daniels.

When I got to the house, I found Bill fairly comatose and Naida understandably distressed. When I showed Naida the whiskey and explained my reasons, Bill, who we had thought was asleep, let out an explosive laugh and whispered something that sounded like, “I don’t believe it.” Naida found a shot glass and we put it into his hand, filled it with the Jack and helped guide it to his lips. He drank it down, gave the expected cough and went back to sleep. It was probably my imagination but I thought I saw a bit of a smile play across his lips.

Back in EDH, I drove HRM and his friends here and there, read a bit, and spent more time than I would like in bed feeling a bit under the weather. On New Year’s Eve, we all retired early. The next morning I drove HRM and his friend, Tyson, to the Skate Board Park. From there I called Naida to see how Bill was doing. She told me that he had died in the middle of the night just as the old year also passed. She was understandably quite distressed. During her ramblings about his last hours, the many things that need doing now and reminisces she mentioned something about Bill that I had not known before.

Apparently, many years before Bill, Naida and many other parents in the neighborhood were upset with Little League because its rules and regulations excluded many children from participating, so Bill created and for several years managed a youth baseball league open to everyone, boys, girls, and those too young or too un-athletic to thrive in the Little League. The kids loved it. Naida added that throughout the years since they would run into people who had played in that league who would tell them how much it meant to them and how much they enjoyed it.

I spent the rest of the day moping around the house.

2017 was an awful year. It began awful and ended even more so. It began with “Not My President” taking the oath of office and me in treatment for throat cancer and ended with the death of friends, fear of cancer’s return and “Not My President” still in office. I hope for all our sakes we do not experience its like again.

 

2018.

January 2, 2018, began with clear cold sunlight slashing through the windows. Dick had already left for work and Hayden was still asleep in his room. I puttered around a bit hoping that H would wake up soon so that I could take him and his friend Tyson to the Skate Park. After all, this is the first day of the rest of my life and I am determined to make it a good one. A great day is not required, pleasant will do —even better than average would be acceptable but I will try for great. I think I will do the laundry today.

As that great American philosopher Scarlett O’Hara opined, “Tomorrow is another day.” I certainly hope so.

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