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Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco 49ers’

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

 

Days pass. Discovered Kenneth Fearing, poet, novelist, and founding editor of Partisan Review (see below). He was a good old leftie. Alas, he probably would have become a Trumpite had he lived today instead of drinking himself to death at a relatively young age. Watched the movie made from his book “The Big Clock” starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton and enjoyed seeing Laughton’s wife, Elsa Lanchester, steal the film away from the headliners as she usually does.

I spent time with HRM. Ate lunch with him at Subway and learned that the Slackers vs Jocks contretemps still simmers — the indomitable conviction of youth in the importance of their every experience — sadly to us decrepits we have forgotten how right they are.

Begun packing for our trip into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. I suspect there will be more to write about then — discomfort, fatigue, and, at times, beauty and novelty or boredom. That’s what adventures are all about, a lot of discomfort and boredom broken now and then with bits of terror and fear moderated by a dollop of poetic beauty. The photos are nice, however.

For the second time In the last few months, Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog have been attacked by another dog leaping from a parked car that they passed during their evening walks. This time, Naida was knocked to the ground. The dog’s owners, after securing their pet, rushed to see if Naida was hurt. She responded to their expressions of apology and concern, “Don’t worry, I am one of those eighty-year-olds whose bones do not break whenever she falls down.” More indomitability.

Thinking about indomitability, I have, at times, fought and refused to give up. Now, when it no longer matters, I realize it was not indomitability but merely fear that I would be exposed. I guess that is the way it is with most men.

Now I think it is time to leave this morning’s morass of introspection as well as my recliner and go out and meet the day, or greet it or something like that.

“It’s always something” (Rosanna Rosannadanna.) Lost my wallet. Probably yesterday after I returned from EDH and I stopped for gas at the Shell Station nearby. Perhaps someone stole it. I do not know how. It is a disaster. Losing one’s wallet is one of life’s great tragedies. Everything important was in there. My debit cards, my passport, other things. We are leaving for our trip on Friday. A new credit-card will not be ready by then so the costs of the trip will be all on Naida. Sometimes life sucks. I guess I have to get started on canceling and reordering things. Well, perhaps tomorrow. Tonight I’ll pretend I’m depressed. Tomorrow is another day.

Before going to bed we watched Sidney Poitier in Lilies of Field. I felt better. I’ll cry tomorrow.

It is tomorrow. Oh, happy day. I found my wallet. It was where I thought it was. I always throw the clothing I intend to wear the next day on the floor near my bed. They are easier to locate that way. I thought I had lost my wallet among the accumulated detritus next lying there. Several times I had picked through everything to see if it had fallen among them. This morning, I picked up a shirt I planned to take with me to SF today and there it was lying underneath. So, in happy spirits, we left for the Big Endive by the Bay and my immunotherapy treatment.

 

 

 

B. AGAIN IN THE BIG ENDIVE WITH PETER AND BARRIE:

 

 

Following a surprisingly delightful drive (I napped, Naida drove), we arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home in Noe Valley. After getting settled, Peter and I told each other stories. He spoke about his time in Cambridge and India as one of the famous anthropologist, Cora Du Bois’ doctoral students. In India, he and Barrie lived primarily in Bhubaneswar where he studied the politics and design theories behind the construction of the new capital of the then recently created state of Odisha. I told of my adventures in Turkey (a midnight knife fight) and old Jerusalem and Bethlehem (meeting with the dealer who sold the Dead Sea scrolls). Later Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda joined us for dinner.
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The next day we went to the Mission Bay facility of UCSF for my immunotherapy treatment. Nothing to report here.

We then returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

 

C. BACK IN THE VALLEY:

 

 

The next day we prepared for our trip. I took a brief drive to EDH to fetch Hayden from school and to stop at the pharmacy to pick up the medicines I would need during our trip. After I returned to the Enchanted Forest, Naida and I enjoyed lunch at a local sandwich shop. Later, a box containing about 20 copies of the revised version of Naida’s memoir, “A Daughter of the West,” with her corrections arrived. Naida spent some time checking to see if the edits she had made were incorporated in the revisions. At about ten o’clock in the evening, we left for the train station.

 

 

D. OFF TO OREGON.

 

 

The train to Portland left the Sacramento Valley Amtrak Station at about midnight on Friday. We slept uncomfortably in our business class chairs. I had made a mistake not reserving a sleeping compartment. Nevertheless, train travel, in my opinion, is the most civilized way to travel. It is a shame the United States, unlike almost any other advanced nation in the world, pulled up its tracks, sold the rails for scrap and replaced them with asphalt roadways.

When we awoke, we had a pleasant breakfast, even if not of the quality offered on the Orient Express. Our breakfast companions were an interesting couple from Irvine who made it clear they were not married. “Neither are we,” we chimed in gleefully as though we all were old folks reveling in our naughtiness.

We spent the day mostly sitting in the observation car watching wooded northern California and Oregon landscape pass by. We arrived in Portland at about four PM.
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E. PORTLAND AND PUYALLUP:

 

 

We were met at the station by Naida’s cousin Debbie and went for a walk along the Willamette River. There are many bridges spanning the Willamette. I had not noticed that during my previous visits here. Walking along the riverside path I felt as though I was walking under a freeway interchange.

As we strolled along the path, I noticed on its inland side the Portland Food Festival was under weigh. It extended for many blocks. It was lunchtime and we were hungry but we decided to skip the festival and find a local restaurant.
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Naida and Debbie on the Waterfront.

 

After walking around a bit, we found a Chinese restaurant that looked interesting. I had not eaten Chinese food in a while and was eager to do so now.

In Italy and in many places in the US recently, I have noticed that a goodly number of Italian restaurants have been taken over by Chinese immigrant families resulting in mushy noodles and a poor understanding of the cuisine’s use of herbs and spices. Every national cuisine begins with its own traditional mix of herbs and spices. Failure to get them right may still result in a palatable meal but it cannot be called an example of those nations’ traditional food.

So, we entered. The waiter seated us and took our orders. I ordered Mu-shu pork. When he brought us our meals he told a lengthy story about learning to be a mu-shu pork folder and considered himself to be the best mu-sho pork folder in Portland. I had never known there was an art to folding mu-shu pork so, I asked him to show us this talent of which he was so proud as I was sure he wanted me to. And so he did.

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Folding Mu-Shu Pork.

 

After that, we went to Debbie’s house and promptly fell asleep.

The next day, several of Naida’s relatives from Portland joined us for a late lunch. Many interesting stories were told but, alas, T&T is not a venue in which I can share all of them. Debbie’s father, a renowned Methodist minister, was also an accomplished amateur mineralogist and jewelry maker. When he died, he left Debbie his immense store of rocks, semi-precious stones, and jewelry making equipment. Debbie and her son Nicolas have avidly continued his father’s avocation. Tumblers hummed all night, and piles of rocks and minerals covered much of the yard.
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Some of the Rocks. 

 

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The Tumblers.

 

 

Later, we visited with David, Naida’s son who assists the well-known regional sculpture Bruce West (Naida’s ex-brother-in-law). We met at the studio. Bruce was unable to join us because he suffers from late-stage Parkinson’s.
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Naida and David.

 

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Some Works by Bruce West.

 

Debbie then drove us to the train station and left. We had hoped to take the train to Puyallup, Washington to spend the night at the home of Debbie’s sister Colleen. Unfortunately, the train was full (since when do trains in this day and age get filled up?). So we trundled, in the rain, dragging our luggage a few blocks to the Greyhound station. Alas, the bus had left for Puyallup a few minutes before we arrived. The amused ticket agents suggested we try another bus line a few blocks away. Once again, we struggled through the drizzle to the place where we were told we would find the bus.

When we arrived where we were directed, there was no ticket office to be found. We noticed a bunch of people across the street who appeared to be waiting around for something. We went up to them and asked if they knew the location of the ticket office. We were told there wasn’t one but, they were all waiting for a bus from that company to arrive and had already bought their tickets already. So, we waited there standing with them in the light rain. Eventually, the bus arrived. The driver told us that if there were any seats left after everyone with tickets had been seated he would sell them to us. So we waited some more. After everyone boarded, he announced there were two left. Relieved, we paid him and prepared to board. At that moment, a young man approached and handed the driver a ticket. The driver told him that the ticket said he must arrive at least five minutes before the bus departs and since he did not so the tickets had been sold. So, we boarded. I felt bad for the guy, but not bad enough to give up my seat.

Naida’s cousin Colleen picked us up at the bus stop and drove us to her home in Puyallup. Coleen’s home, a one-story building, appeared small from the outside but was surprisingly large once you got inside. She took us on a tour of the house. It seemed to me to be one of the more pleasant houses I had ever been in. For forty-seven years Coleen, her husband, and her mother lived in that house, constantly changing and remodeling it to better serve their needs and comfort. After Naida and Colleen exchanged a few family stories with each other we went to sleep in a far too comfortable bed.

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Colleen’s Back Porch.

 

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Naida and Colleen.

 

 

A ninety-nine acre heavily wooded park surrounds Colleen’s home on two sides. Waking up in the morning with the sun shining and the encircling trees rising up behind the yard was delightful.
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Later, Naida and I went for a walk around a nearby lake. It began raining as we walked along, a light drizzle at times interspersed with more heavy downpours.
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Following the walk, we returned to the house. Naida and Colleen worked on a puzzle together and quietly talked and reminisced about family and things while I sat on the sofa and played on my computer and dozed until it was time to leave for the airport and our flight to Boise.

Colleen dropped us off at the bus station for the brief bus ride to the airport. We flew to Boise on a prop plane. It has been a long time since I last had ridden on one.

We arrived in Boise at about 11pm. After an adventure securing our rental car, we drove to the hotel on the river where we were going to spend the night.
(More to come)

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A few years ago I traveled from San Francisco to New York City for some reason that I no longer remember. I arrived in NY on the A train. After a few days, I left it by taking the A train again to Far Rockaway. “Far Rockaway.” It sounds exotic. One could almost imagine emerging from the subway onto a sandy beach by clear blue waters — perhaps there is a boatload of buccaneers waiting offshore to attack. One does not usually associate NY with broad sandy beaches. Actually, it is one of those few major cities with large beaches within its city limits, like Rio. True Rockaway Beach, Jones Beach and Coney Island do not quite conger up the same images in one’s mind as Copacabana or Ipanema, (or even Venice Beach in LA) but they do have their own quirky and gritty charm. In the summer, those beaches were packed with beach-goers and sunbathers like subway cars during rush hour.

When the train emerged from the tunnel and into the sunlight over a section of outer Brooklyn or Queens (I never could remember which it was out here near JFK) we rode above the rows of brick attached homes and trees, lots of them, and passed Aqueduct Raceway. I left the A train at Howard Beach and boarded the AirTrain, taking it the last mile or so to the terminal at JFK.

Boarding the car with me were two New Yorkers dressed in SF Forty-niners shirts on their way to SF to see the Niners play the Giants. One of them was a large pear-shaped man with a pencil thin mustache and wearing a Joe Montana shirt. He announced to everyone in a very loud voice that he was a Niner and Joe Montana fan for all his life no matter what his friends and coworkers thought about it. In an accent that could only be from Brooklyn, he told several of the other passengers that he was a scraper, someone who scrapes the paint off bridges in preparation for repainting and that this was only the second air flight he had ever taken.

So while listening to the two of them express their excitement and their plans about what they wanted to see when they get to SF (Fisherman’s Wharf and the Crookedest Street), I pleasantly passed the time until we arrived at the terminal where I boarded the plane and left NYC behind.

The Niners lost that game.

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I, and I assume others when they reach my age, sometimes think back over our lives and speculate about what may have been or what it is that we really regret. With me there are many things such as the death of loved ones or pain I have caused others that bring me sadness or fill me with remorse. But, in almost all of them, although I wish they never happened, I do not see how avoiding or reversing them would have altered my life all that much. There was, however, one recurring event in my memory that I am convinced may have made a difference.

It was during the early Nineties. I was visiting Rome and it was as hot as it gets in that town at the end of Summer. I was standing in line with my then wife Denise to buy tickets to enter the ruins of the ancient Roman Forum. There was only one group ahead of us, a family made up of man and a women with three or four strikingly blond pre-adolescent children in tow. The woman was about six feet tall, blond and movie star attractive. The man was even taller, sandy-haired and athletic looking. Suddenly I recognized him. It was Joe Montana, the legendary American football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. I guess you can say I was gobsmacked to see him there in Rome and standing so close to me.


In addition to the victories and the statistical records that most sports use to judge excellence and without which all else is almost irrelevant, what I admired most about Montana was his preternatural grace and his gamblers instincts. I recall once watching him play in one of the Superbowls, he had just thrown a pass that the receiver eventually caught for a touchdown. Nevertheless, it was the fluidity with which Joe leapt into the air and threw the ball that enthralled me. He was every bit as graceful as a ballet dancer; not tutus and en pointe ballet graceful but something more masculine and forceful.

I used to attend performance of the New York City Ballet when I lived in the Big Apple. The principle male dancer at that time was, Jacques d’Amboise. When he stood on the stage he looked a lot like a champion body builder who had just put down his barbels. When, however, he moved it was as smooth, graceful and beautiful as drops or water slowly dancing in the sunlight. Balanchine, the choreographer for the Company then, believed that the role of the male ballet dancer was little more than a mobile post upon which the ballerina was displayed. Nevertheless, when d’Ambiose lifted his partner up and carried her across the stage everything else on that stage disappeared except the image of his power and grace. So it was for me with Montana on that pass. It was as though I had achieved satori. Everything else on the field disappeared but Joe when, as though in slow motion, he pushed off with one leg, rose into the air and in perfect synchronicity arced his arm across his body as he released the ball.

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His gamblers instincts were not those of a risk-taker but of someone who knew the probabilities and above all the psychology of whatever game he was playing. At one time during an interview, I recall him describing a drive, probably in one or another of the Superbowls. He said something like, “I was driving them crazy, dinking and dunking (throwing short passes for 3 or 4 yards) them here and there, until they couldn’t see straight and began to lean forward and inch in, and then I threw it over their heads for a touchdown.”

“He possessed an almost mystical calmness in the midst of chaos, especially with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. While others saw turmoil and danger after the snap, Montana saw order and opportunity. He was Joe Cool, the unflappable king of the comeback.”
Larry Schwartz, ESPN

So there he was, in Rome, that day, standing about a foot away from me. One part of me in my excitement screamed at me to say something, something like “Joe! Joe Montana, what are you doing here in Rome?” while another part terrorized me into silence at the realization of how stupid that sounded and how embarrassed I would feel after saying it – especially if he ignored me.

I thought about mentioning to Denise that Joe Montana was in the line in front of us. Denise was a woman of legendary assertiveness and a tongue as sharp as the edge of a Samurai’s sword. She would not have known Joe Montana from Bozo the Clown, but she was much more likely than me to strike up a conversation, lacking the shyness that comes with awe and idol worship. Alas, I could see that she was already annoyed at how long it was taking them to buy their tickets and well on her way to flinging some insult at them as only she could. So, I hesitated fearing that she would offend them and I would lose the opportunity to become friends with Joe.

They eventually got their tickets and passed through the gate into the Forum. We got ours and followed. Right behind the gate we came upon them again. The children were sprawled on various broken bits of Roman History complaining bitterly, as children often do, about the heat and whining about why they had to be here and not back in the hotel at the pool. I could see that Joe Cool was at the edge of losing the legendary calmness that allowed him to bring Notre Dame from 22 points back in the fourth quarter to win in the Cotton Bowl. He snapped back at them, probably a lot like like any other parent in a similar situation would when being harassed by whining children “You can’t. You have to learn about culture. There is a lot of culture here.”

I knew that I could step in and help out. Over the years I virtually haunted the Forum. I knew more about it than any guide. I knew the history, the gossip, even what was traded in the market that was set up in the swamp between the hill on which the future rulers of the world lived in somewhat upgraded caves and the larger hill on which the more respectable Sabines lived and from which their wives and daughters were to be carried away by the Romans in the dead of night. Upon the fecundity of those wives and daughters an empire was built. I had crawled into places few are allowed to go or for that matter ever went or even would want to go. I knew which toilets were the cleanest. I knew where to find shade and the location of the coolest water. I knew I could keep the children entertained and enthralled and that Joe and his wife would like that and we would become friends.

I imagined that since I had lived in Rome for a few years and knew interesting places to go and appealing places to eat that Joe and his wife would never otherwise know about or go to, we could go out some evening and have dinner together. I knew that Denise with her bottomless reservoir of humor and behavioral oddities would amuse them and we would become friends.

But I did not do any of these things. I just stood there. Then Denise irritably called out, “Hurry up, it’s hot.” and I went on. For a while, as we made our way through the rubble of an empire, I would see them prowling through other parts of the ruins. Then they were gone.

Since that day, every now and then, I think about what could have been. Even as I write this now, I am convinced that if Joe Montana had become my friend, my life might somehow have been better, happier even. Some of my other friends might even have become jealous. I would have liked that.

 

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