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The following is a beautifully written obituary written by Pete Zander upon the death of his beloved brother Corky.

 

In Memoriam: William Paul (“Corky”) Xander
b. 4/10/1943
d. 2/19/2020

As many of you who were former students of my oldest brother Bill Xander — but who was always known to me as “Corky” — have learned, he passed away a little before midnight on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. He would have been 77 on April 10th of this year.

I was up in Twin Peaks, CA, up near Lake Arrowhead, for the week helping my daughter Kristen, who had fallen and ripped ligaments in her right ankle. She has two young sons, ages 5 and 2¼, and she desperately needed help around the house and with the boys, especially since her son Alexander had turned 5 on Feb. 12 (we Xanders pick great birthdays!) and had his birthday party last Saturday at an indoor pool at a resort where around 50 adults and kids partied. And little Evan Xander Flores is feisty enough to keep several adults busy and occupied.

During the night early on Friday morning the 14th, Kristen received a message on her phone from Corky’s wife Maj, who said he was ill and she needed Kristen to get in touch with me. When she told me the message early Friday morning, we figured it was something worse than pneumonia or the flu. A battery of tests and a biopsy confirmed that he had an advanced case of pancreatic cancer, and we feared he only had weeks, maybe even days left.

You’ll have to forgive my referring to him as “Corky” and not “Bill” or “Mr. X.” He never WAS “Bill” to me, and since that was our dad’s name as well, an abusive, alcoholic, 24-karat SOB and proud of it, I have an understandable reluctance to call my brother Bill. So, Corky it is.

Ironically, he felt as if he was in the best shape of his life, quite a statement when you consider he was a letterman in four sports in high school: Football, basketball, baseball, and track. He could’ve had a fifth letter as a swimmer, but on a qualifying swim, though he’d been the fastest of anyone on the team weeks earlier, he was extremely ill from pneumonia and damned near drowned. So I’ll call it four sports but put an asterisk next to it.

It is indicative of the profit-driven health care system in our country that his cancer wasn’t discovered sooner, not that it would’ve mattered in the long run — pancreatic cancer is tough to detect, tougher to fight (fewer than 5% of patients survive it for very long), and in Corky’s case, it hit hard and fast. Like I said, he felt he was in great shape, walking 3 miles a day, working out in the gym on weekends, and doing well.

In mid-December, he felt extremely ill and knew he needed help. So the procedure was to take some blood samples, wait two weeks; do an x-ray, wait two weeks; do an MRI, wait two weeks; do an ultrasound. He had been hospitalized twice for 3-4 days at a time and two emergency 911 calls, certainly enough time ONCE to do all of those diagnostic tests, but there’s no PROFIT to be made that way, of course. It is emblematic of our fucked-up profits-driven system that his first appointment with an oncologist — a cancer specialist — wasn’t even scheduled until yesterday, literally “a day late” and hundreds of dollars short.

I will never think it was a blessing that he was only sick for two months. Having an aggressive form of cancer is NEVER a blessing, but it is somewhat comforting to me that he only suffered for those two months. When an ultrasound revealed some shadowing on the pancreas, a biopsy confirmed that he had pancreatic cancer and that it was already at Stage 4.

When I talked to him on Friday last week, when he was still in the hospital, his first words to me were, “Well, this is really fucked up, isn’t it?” Despite the clearly bad diagnosis and outlook, we had a lighthearted talk, and I told him we’d get down as soon as possible to see him, With Alex’s birthday over with the next day, my son-in-law Ivan Flores drove Kristen and me down to Bonita last Sunday to see him.

He opened his eyes and said, “Hey — it’s my ‘baby brother!’” Yeah, as the third and last boy in the family, I was ALWAYS going to be the “baby brother.” To my mom, who preceded Corky in death by 5 years, I was always her ”baby boy.” But I can live with that . . . especially since it means living.

According to his brother-in-law Albert, he had not been able to have conversations with anyone for more than a minute or so without nodding off for five minutes. So it was remarkable that last Sunday he was able to talk with us nonstop for an hour and a half. He only got sleepy after he’d been given medication that made him drowsy, and of course it was important to keep him on the medication schedule.

I do feel especially blessed that we were able to talk for as long as we did, and our conversation was a rollicking one, covering talking about fishing trips we’d done. I know all of you former students of his will be pleased to know that we even got into Faulkner and Hemingway. Well, MAYBE you’d be pleased to know that! But certainly, he had a love of literature and especially that of his two favorite authors. Me, I’ve always been more of a Steinbeck person; but then again, I was a marine biologist. At least Hemingway was a trout fisherman!

I’ll get into some fishing stories because I truly believe that if he hadn’t been an English teacher and he hadn’t had the satisfaction of sharing his love of literature with all of you, I believe he might have become a fishing guide. I mean, can you imagine it — getting PAID to go fishing??? As the Russian-born comedian, Yakov Smirnoff used to say, “America — what a country!”

Corky was 11¼ years older than me, with our brother Terry born 4 years and 10 days after Corky and 7 years before me. He and I looked a lot alike, and people often commented on it to us. Once, I replied to someone, “Yeah, but I’m the better-looking one!” After that, it became a contest to see who could snap off the one-liner before the other did. Our voices were so similar that his first wife Cat once called, expecting to speak to him. I had answered the phone, and she began talking, under the assumption that it was him to whom she was speaking. After a couple of minutes, when the conversation began turning to a direction I didn’t believe I should be hearing, I interrupted her and said, “Um, Cat — you DO realize that this is Pete you’re talking to and not Bill?”

I know this might shock some of you, but my brother was NOT perfect. Oh, sure — we did the usual brotherly stuff, like the aforementioned “I’m the better-looking one” line. But his imperfection stems from our Thanksgiving Dinner in 1974. We were having the dinner at his home in Mira Mesa, and I was already contributing to the effort. I began baking what everybody calls a “German Chocolate Cake,” but the truth is that the cake has nothing to do with Germany in the least. The sweet chocolate used in the recipe was made by a company called German’s, which was bought out by a company called Baker’s, so the cake is called “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake.” If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourselves on the supermarket aisle where chocolate for baking, coconut, and nuts are sold.

Anyway, that year, I did a friend from back East a favor. He knew a girl who was going to school in Pomona, east of L. A., at Pomona Pitzer College. She was going to be stuck in southern California while everyone else at the school went home to their families. She was going to spend the entire four-day weekend all by herself on a deserted campus and dorm, and that was just too awful to think about, so I told my friend Chip that I’d be happy to bring her to San Diego and have her spend Thanksgiving with us.

In order to make all of that work, I had to get up at 4:00 in the morning, slap my face around a little . . . or a LOT, and bake the German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake before I drove to Pomona. It was no big deal — I could do that cake in my sleep, and I pretty much did. But cooks always talk about how, for instance, a bread dough has a proper “feel.” It sounds esoteric but is well-founded in fact. For example, KitchenAid mixers do an AWFUL job of making the dough we use for making our famous Thanksgiving Dinner rolls.

As I made the cake batter, it just didn’t look right to me. I couldn’t identify what the problem could have been, and I merely shrugged it off as being really tired and sleepy. But when I put the three cake pans into the oven, it became apparent quite rapidly that there was something seriously wrong with the batter. In the oven, the batter began burping and bubbling like some God-awful witches brew, and in fact, the goddamned stuff was BOILING. I had no idea what was wrong, but I was committed to seeing this through, so I gamely marched on, baking the layers longer in what eventually was a futile effort to salvage all of those expensive ingredients.

After I removed the layers from the oven, they sagged ominously in the middle. I made the coconut-pecan frosting and tried to frost the thing, but it sagged in the middle like a disgusting soggy doughnut. It clearly was a disaster of immense proportions, and I was mortified.

Of course, the family was giving me a ration of shit over the cake, but I had no idea what had gone wrong. Finally, Corky asked where I got the flour to make the cake. “I got it from the flour canister on the counter,” I said, pointing to the largest of four wooden containers. He began laughing demonically and said, “Pete — there was BISQUIK in that canister!” Bisquik, of course, is an instant mix for making breads, rolls, muffins, pancakes, and the like. It contains flour and the usual leavening agents, but it also includes shortening, so my precious German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake, my pride and joy, got a double dose of fat!

I was livid. “Well, how the FUCK was I supposed to know THAT?” I yelled. “What, did you also put salt in the goddamned sugar shaker too?” I screamed, but all everyone could do was laugh at my predicament. The cake was an absolute disaster, and one of our favorite desserts was MIA that Thanksgiving. Totally mortified, I drove up to Pomona, retrieved my friend’s chum, and returned to San Diego for our dinner. That evening, in what was perfectly in keeping with the disaster that my poor cake had become, we went to the premiere showing of a disaster flick, “Earthquake,” starring Charlton Heston and a host of aging, washed-up film superstars, about a high-rise hotel that becomes a death trap when a massive earthquake strikes L. A. I don’t know if Chip’s friend was comforted by that thought at all, but she survived the evening, as did I. But I was STILL really pissed off about the cake!

Corky helped raise me and also acted to protect me from the worse actions of our dad. One Saturday morning, though, when I was about 7 or 8 and just a scrawny little kid, our dad had beaten me pretty severely with his leather belt. As any of you know painfully well who have had the unfortunate experiences of dealing with an abusive parent, oftentimes there isn’t any reason or anything you might have done that triggered such a response, and as a quiet kid, I certainly can’t imagine what I could possibly have said or done.

He beat me so savagely with his leather belt that the welts on the backs of my legs were swollen nearly ½” high, and the edges of the belt had even cut into my legs and were bleeding. It was a little after 10:00 a.m., and our mom was grocery shopping when this happened. When she walked in the door, carrying bags of groceries, she entered into a surreal situation: Corky and Terry were in the kitchen, wrestling and fighting over a butcher knife.

Our mom set the bags down, ran into the kitchen, and began pulling on Corky. Terry had the knife in his hand, and she was yelling at them to stop it as she pulled on Corky to stop him from doing whatever the hell HE was doing. Finally, he yelled out to her, ”God DAMN it, Mom, STOP IT. Terry’s trying to kill Dad!”

Once all that commotion settled down, she found out why that skirmish had taken place. She came into my bedroom — the one I had to share with our dad — and I was lying on the mattress, face down and crying into my pillow. By this time the welts had turned a horrific red and purple, and the bloody edges of the welts had quit bleeding and were beginning to coagulate.

She stormed into the kitchen, grabbed the kitchen knife, and plunged it against our dad’s belly. “You son of a bitch!” she yelled. “If you EVER touch that kid again, i’ll stab you with the goddamned knife!” Just another typical Saturday morning in lower-middle-class gang war zone National City back in the 1960s.

But Corky just didn’t help raise me or try to protect me from the worst predations of our dad. He introduced me to classical music, still a great love of mine. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was a good enough trombone player (which I’d taught myself how to play after 7th grade, so I could be in the junior high’s jazz ensemble) that I received an offer to become an apprentice trombonist with the Chicago Symphony, at that time easily one of the three or four greatest symphonies in the world, and I would have had the opportunity to study conducting under Sir Georg Solti, the 20th Century’s finest interpreter of Beethoven.

I had also applied for acceptance in a summer-long oceanography program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. If I hadn’t been one of the 41 kids from all across North America chosen from among the nearly 2,000 applicants, I would’ve accepted that fabulous offer and been, at the very worst, a very well-paid trombone player in Chicago. As Fate would have it, though, not only was I accepted in the oceanography program, but the National Science Foundation awarded me a grant to cover the entire cost of the program, and I became a biologist.

Corky and Terry also introduced me to rock ’n’ roll, which of course EVERY kid back then loved. I distinctly remember horrifying Sister Mary Daniel, my first-grade teacher at St. Mary’s in National City when she asked if anyone had anything they’d like to share with the class. Little brown-noser that I was, I raised my hand. “Yes, Peter?” she asked, and I walked up to the front of the class. “My brothers taught me how to do The Twist!” and I began gyrating before the class and the stunned Sister Mary Daniel. Well, what the hell — SHE asked! Guess it was yet another mortal sin I’d racked up . . . .

But let’s go fishing. Or, at least, let’s go trudging through some of the semi-legendary stories of our fishing adventures.

When I was still in high school, Corky and I would go fishing in tiny Santa Ysabel Creek, a little stream that in the winter and early spring months was occasionally stocked with hatchery trout. Remind me to tell the story about the bull at Santa Ysabel Creek, okay? Not verbal bull or even bull trout — a BULL, a real, snorting, no-kidding, charging bull.

Oh hell . . . . Well, screw it. Why wait? I mean, if my brother’s recent illness and passing is to be used as a learning experience, it is that anything could happen to any of us at any time, and that life has to be LIVED. There’s no waiting around for Life — you’ve got to grab it by the horns if you will. Yeah, that is a pretty cheesy introduction to the story, but what the hell!

So, about The Bull. To former students of my brother, who was a great fan of Hemingway and Faulkner, it sounds like a Hemingway short story doesn’t it?? “The Bull of Santa Ysabel,” right?

Corky and I had been fishing in Santa Ysabel Creek, which is just about a mile north of Dudley’s Bakery in northern San Diego County, an amazingly popular bakery that draws people from everywhere (their Dutch Apple Bread is awesome . . . their cinnamon bread is pure heaven; and — well, they ALL are).

Anyway, there is a large pasture or grassy meadow there, right up against State Highway 79. You have to go under a barbed wire fence and cross the meadow to get to the fishable upper portion of the creek in the hills to the east (interestingly — at least to me — the DFG had stocked Santa Ysabel Creek back in the 1930s with 15,000 Paiute cutthroat trout, an incredibly rare trout and native to just a couple of headwater creeks above waterfalls in Alpine County, tributary to the East Fork of the Carson River). We had been fishing for a couple of hours, it was getting late in the day, and we were at the meadow.

We’d never seen any cattle there before, but on this fateful day, there was a very large longhorn bull at the far side of the meadow. We were minding our own business, and so was the bull. Unfortunately, at that very moment, the bull’s business was US.

As we walked, so did the bull. As we walked faster and faster, the bull did the same thing, matching our pace. With about 30 yards to go, the goddamned bull began charging to cut us off, and we both began running for our lives. The bull had the angle, and the only way we would get out safely was if we ran down to the fence at full speed and slid under the barbed wire fence, a dangerous move even if executed successfully. Of course, Corky didn’t have to outrun the bull — he just had to outrun ME. But back then, I was a really fast runner, and we were neck and neck, hauling ass to get to the fence and to safety.

I yelled to my brother, “We have to slide underneath the barbed wire on the run!” and he yelled back, “Yeah — I KNOW!!” We got to the fence just about the time the bull did, and we both slid on the gravel under the fence like Jackie Robinson stealing home. Only then, safely on the other side of the barbed wire fence, complete with skinned and bloodied elbows, could we laugh our asses off at the craziness of challenging half a ton of pissed-off pot-roast-on-the-hoof trying to gore us. I mean, FUCK Pamplona, right?? But we survived.

In 1974, a geography professor, at San Diego State, Gene Coleman, who also taught at Southwestern Junior College in Chula Vista and who became a good friend and a trusted personal and political advisor, told me about Pauma Creek — really, the classic version of the “secret fishin’ hole” of fishing lore. He only told maybe one student a year about this little piece of heaven on Earth, and he knew that I was the kind of person with the right ethic who would appreciate the stream and respect its solitude and relatively unknown existence.

Pauma Creek is a rugged little wilderness stream, flowing from Palomar Mountain State Park, formed from the confluence of Doane and French Creeks, and draining the southwestern slope of Palomar Mountain in northern San Diego County. It is a sometimes tributary to the San Luis Rey River (now blocked to would-be spawning steelhead by a concrete bridge abutment).

From Gene’s description, Pauma Creek sounded like a much better stream — a rugged wilderness stream that involved a lot of rock-hopping and crawling, but more importantly, the trout were not stupid hatchery fish but real native trout, remnants of the original rainbow trout/steelhead that arose in streams in San Diego County before the most recent Ice Age, the ancestors of all rainbow trout throughout their range from northern Baja California to Alaska and to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. These were not mass-produced production-line factory trout — they were the real thing.

The only non-native fish in the stream were brown trout that had been stocked in the 1930s — and WHY??? — and I had caught the only one we’d ever seen there, and green sunfish washed downstream from Doane Pond. We’d only ever caught two, and we killed both since they are voracious competitors with the trout for food and would eat baby trout. Since I’ve had green sunfish as pets, I know how aggressive and voracious they are, so we did our own habitat enhancements to benefit the trout. The trout were native, not stocked; the green sunfish are found east of the Rockies but have been planted everywhere, so it was “Vaya con Díos, piscas verdes del Sol!” or however “green sunfish” translates into Spanish. Sorry about that. So much for being forced to study German in high school, a REALLY helpful language if you were going to become a biologist in San Diego! Yes, even the college and university system is a screwed-up educational mess. But to students of my brother, that won’t come as any damn great surprise.

The fishing in Pauma Creek was superb and tested our skills at reading water, even in miniature, and required stealthy approaches to avoid spooking the skittish wild fish. We could always tell when another fisherman had accessed the creek ahead of us by sliding down a steep primitive trail from a road about halfway down. We used ultralight gear, 2# test line, 1/32 oz. Dardevle Skeeter lures with barbless hooks and released all of the trout we caught.

Within a couple of years, I’d named some pools, something that occurs on famous salmon and steelhead rivers, not creeks you can jump across. At the first waterfall, as one goes down from Palomar Mountain State Park, there is a very large deep pool with a waterfall plunging over the granite boulders to climb down and over. My knees were hurting, and Corky wanted to fish that deep pool for the monster trout that surely was there (one that he finally caught, years later, and had break off before he could land, photograph, and release it). I found a split boulder above the pool that was a perfectly comfortable granite chair, so, resting my knees, I named the waterfall pool “Orthopedic Rock.”

There were others with similarly offbeat names; but after all, look at who the crazy bastard was who was naming them!

“‘Freight Train’ Pool,” about 3 miles down, where an enormous trout would come charging out but was never hooked solidly. In order to get the fish to come out, we got one cast only: The lure had to be cast sidearm underneath overhanging tree branches so that it bounced and ricocheted off two boulders in order to get the lure back where the trout had its lair (note to a beloved former girlfriend of mine: Try doing that when you’re fly-fishing, Beckie!). Sometimes the little barbless treble hook would tangle with the line, making it impossible to hook the fish and spooking that pool; at other times, the fish was charging too hard to get a tight enough line to set the hooks; and

“‘Nettle Nuts’ Pool,” where the only way to get downstream was to do the splits and bend way down under a fallen tree, where stinging nettles growing up toward the tree made the effort, um, a very very cautious one. Well, you get the drift.

My brother and I had made a number of trips down to Baja, going all the way down to the very tip of the peninsula at Cabo. In fact, the town at the end of the Transpeninsular Highway was named San Jose del Cabo, NOT Cabo San Lucas. But all of the norteamericanos — well, all of them but for us sticklers for proper use of the language! — called it Cabo San Lucas. Mexico eventually gave up and called the whole damned area Los Cabos, though there’s only the one cape. Whatever.

Hell, I can’t even get away with using adverbs after the verb or not ending a sentence without a preposition without ignorant people bitching at me. If you knew Corky, then maybe you have an inkling as to what my attitude is like — I refuse to give in to ignorant assholes, and God knows we’ve got more than our fair share of those in our society. Even had some as President of the United States. Er, had/have. At least Corky dedicated his life to helping thousands of kids over the decades wade through the mess that is the English language, without resorting to the typical bullshit like forcing students to diagram sentences.

In talking to my sister-in-law Maj, Corky’s wife, Thursday morning, she shared a story with me. Before he passed away, she had a video monitor on him so that she or the attending nurses or the family members helping out could know if he needed assistance. On Tuesday, he became restless and tried to get out of bed. Then, she said, he was doing something odd in his sleep, even for a Xander: He was raising his right arm in the air, waving it around slowly (see? Adverb after the verb!). Then a little while later, he did the same thing but with his left arm. She didn’t understand what was going on with him until it dawned on her later: They had been planning a trip to Scotland so that he could go fishing for Atlantic salmon in some of the world-famous rivers there. She thinks that his subconscious, in one of the last actions of his life, was having him practicing his fly-fishing casting in preparation for that trip.

I once read a short story about a trout fisherman who’d died (and ladies, I’m sorry our misogynist society and language makes anything but a male version of the language seem clumsy and awkward). He didn’t know whether he had gone to Heaven or Hell, but there he was in the afterlife, standing in his chest-high waders and fly-fishing in a beautiful river. There was a hatch of insects on, and there were trout rising everywhere. He was giddy with anticipation — so, he was in Heaven! He flicked out some line, began false casting, and stripping out more line, and there, near the opposite bank of the river, was a truly spectacular huge trout.

He laid out a perfect cast and began stripping in line in short twitches. The huge trout turned and began to pursue his fly, but a plump 14-inch trout grabbed it instead. That fish jumped everywhere, and the guy was thrilled! He played the trout for a minute, enjoying every second of the experience, then brought the fish in, used pliers to remove the fly from the trout’s lower jaw, and gently released it.

He began false casting again to dry the fly, and sure enough, the monster he’d eyed earlier had resumed feeding. He again laid out a beautiful and perfect cast, right in the goliath’s feeding lane, but again, a smaller trout grabbed the fly. This time the man brought the fish in rather unceremoniously, released it, and resumed trying to catch the monster.

But try as he might, every time he thought the huge trout was going to take his fly, a smaller trout always beat the big fish to it. It was then that the ugly realization dawned on the guy: He wasn’t in Heaven after all — he was in Hell!

It is a sad but inevitable reality that we all die someday. I personally want to believe I’m immortal, and I will continue to think that way until and unless, of course, I find out otherwise the hard way, as I suppose all of you mortals will discover yourselves. But if one has to die, as my beloved brother did a few days ago, what better way to end your days than to pass away with your mind getting ready for the wonderful fishing trip that he, unfortunately, did not get to take.

Very few of us get the opportunity of choosing how we leave this plane of existence. But what we leave behind — the people we met, the lives we changed, the improvements we made to our society, to our nation, and to our world — will be the testaments to who we were, what we did, and how we made a difference.

All of you whose lives he touched, affected, and hopefully made better, are the testimonials to his lifetime of service to education. I hope you have wonderful memories of my brother and will continue to live the lives he hoped you all would, that will you pass on to your loved ones the lessons learned under his tutelage, and be the men and women he hoped you all would become. Thank you, each and every one of you, for being a part of his life and for giving his life the meaningfulness and sense of reward he felt.

— Pete Xander

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From Swan Valley Idaho to Jackson Hole and Two Nights in a Conestoga Wagon in Buffalo Valley Montana.

Sadly, we left Christy and Swan Valley, drove across the Continental Divide, and dropped down into Jackson Hole. I had passed by this way several times before on the interstates that pass by the town of Jackson Hole on the north and south but I had never driven through it. Those trips included cross country jaunts with my daughter Jessica on her way to Harvard, a cross-country hitch-hike adventure many years ago with my son Jason on our way to Italy, and several on my own. The town itself struck me as up-scale and undistinguished. We drove through it without stopping and continued on to our lodgings in the Grand Teton National Park.
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The Grand Tetons.

 

We drove to Buffalo Valley where we had made reservations to spend two nights in a Conestoga wagon. It was interesting. There were no bathrooms in the wagons and it rained on and off both days. We would have to walk across a field to a bathroom.
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We stayed in the wagon on the right of the photograph.

 

Adjacent to the Wagons and Teepees (yes there were a bunch of them too) there was a lodge that, according to a brochure, was originally the house of a notorious outlaw.
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Pookie rides…

 

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The Community Room at the lodge.

 

We also began to feel the effects of the altitude so the first day we spent most of it napping and recovering. Later in the afternoon, we went for a drive up the valley and then to a small burg named Hatchett where we had a good dinner after which we sat on a sofa by the fireplace. It was cozy. Out of the window, we could see that autumn had arrived. When we left Sacramento it was still summer. We had now driven into autumn. The world outside the window was bright yellow and gold, the sky overcast obscuring the tops of the mountains. The descending dusk and the flickering light of the fire made the evening magical.

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Naida by Jackson Lake.

 

Through Yellowstone to Gardner Montana.

The next morning we left for Gardner Montana at the North entrance to Yellowstone Park. We drove the length of the park from south to north to get to Gardner. We stopped a few times including at Old Faithful. The area around the geyser had been greatly developed since I last visited about 20 years ago. There were now several large buildings including two hotels. It made me sad especially since the quality of the food had not progressed as much as the development.
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Two Old Faithfuls.
We continued on eager to get to our lodging at Gardiner at a reasonable hour. Along the way, Naida told about her childhood memories of Yellowstone Park. She came here often with her father for day trips. She said she always considered the Park to be in her backyard.

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As we drove on, I began to become disappointed that we had not come across any of the large mammals that I expected to see. Then we came upon this bison grazing by the side of the road.
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After which we passed this wonderful and magical rainbow:
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As we approached the northern entrance to the park, we saw a crowd of cars and people watching two elk attempting to rut. (Naida told me it was rutting season now) I took a photograph of the buck. Later, because he was so far away across the meadow, I enlarged the picture hoping to show him better. I liked the result. It looked a bit like an impressionist painting. Here it is:
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At dusk, we arrived at the small western Montana town of Gardiner that serves as the northern gateway to Yellowstone Park and drove about four miles beyond the town to a small hotel in which we were to spend the next three days. After checking in, we drove back into the town for dinner at a western bar and restaurant named The Iron Horse Bar and Grill where we had a surprisingly good meal of lasagna for Naida and shepherd pie with bison for me. I also learned one of the differences between Idaho and Wyoming, and Montana. In Montana, they are willing to drink publicly. Idaho and Wyoming because of the Mormon influence they are more discrete and tend to do their drinking in their homes.

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The Iron Horse Bar and Grill in Gardiner Montana.
We then returned to the hotel where we took long pleasant baths and went to sleep.
(To be continued)
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1. From Boise to Idaho Falls:

 

The next morning after breakfast we left for the long drive across southern Idaho. Upon leaving the city precincts, we crossed the bleak high desert covering eastern Oregon and Southern Idaho. During the hours and miles, Naida kept up a running narrative about the pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail along the same route and their hardships, technology, and social relationships. She told about the Native Americans who lived in the area prior to the arrival of the pioneers, how they lived, their horse breeding prowess, and their initial reactions to the arrival of the white immigrants. Eventually, as we approached the Snake River patches of green cultivated land, some of which were on the bottomland of the river and others on lands watered from the massive irrigation projects of the New Deal.

We eventually arrived at Shoshone Falls, about halfway between Boise and Idaho Falls. Until the installation of the nearby hydroelectric project diminished them, the falls were reputed to be higher than Niagara. Directly downstream from the falls the Snake passes through the steep canyon where in 1972 the entertainer Evel Knievel attempted unsuccessfully to jump across the canyon on a rocket-powered cycle. Although I had watched the failed attempt on television way back then, I had no idea how wide a canyon it actually was.
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Shoshone Falls

 

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Knievel attempted to jump this canyon.

 

Following the brief diversion to the falls, we continued on. About halfway to Idaho Falls, we came upon a poorly signed detour on the Interstate. We became confused and took the wrong road and found ourselves traveling along a ten-mile detour, five miles out and five miles back. There appeared to be no place to turn around. After about two miles, I noticed an automobile parked at the edge of the road. As we approached, I realized it was a police car and mentioned it to Naida who was driving at the time. She tried to move into the left lane but couldn’t because a truck was passing us. Just as we approached the police car, its backlights began blinking. We passed it. I then watched in the mirror as the cop pulled out, caught up to us, and motioned for us to pull over. This annoyed me since I suspected this was just a speed trap, especially since the rental car had California plates. We pulled over to the verge with the police car directly behind us. He walked over to the car, motioned to me to roll down the window and announced that we had failed to move over one lane when passing an emergency vehicle parked at the side of a road. After my failed protest, he gave us a ticket and returned to his vehicle.

Our rental vehicle was a new RAV4. It came without an owner’s manual. As a result, we could not figure out many of the intricacies of its operation. So, as Naida started up the car and while trying to determine how to put it into drive, it began rolling back and panic ensued. We crashed into the police car. Naida was mortified. I found it the amusing high point of the whole trip so far. The cop was non-plussed and since there was no serious damage simply told us to drive on carefully.

A few miles after returning to the Interstate we arrived a Rupert Idaho, a small town where Naida spent part of her childhood. Almost every storefront, many of which were empty, had a plaque affixed to the facade declaring it a historical landmark and telling a bit about its history. What fascinated me most was a massive fabric shop catering primarily to the quilting crowd.

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Naida at the Rupert town square.

 

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Pookie in the fabric shop.

 

We returned to the interstate and arrived in Idaho Falls at dusk and drove directly to Naida’s half-sister Christy’s home. After a few minutes of relaxation, Christy got into her camper and we followed her in the Toyota for about 45 minutes until we arrived in the mountains to the east of the city at an area called the Palisades. There, we turned into a box canyon that terminated at the foot of Sheep Mountain and after a brief climb on the curving, unlighted dirt roads that snaked up the side of the canyon we arrived at Christy’s small but comfortable A-frame cabin where we would spend the next few days.

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Sheep Mountain.

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The cabin.

 

 

2. Christy and the Cabin at Sheep Creek.

 

Christy a hard-living, hard-drinking, dope-smoking, gun-toting, Mormon hating, radical woman of the Continental Divide spent her life hunting, marrying, selling real estate, boating up and down the Snake River, raising children and cooking the greatest pancakes I had ever tasted. That first evening as we got settled, Cristy mentioned that moose, grizzly bears, and other large mammals visit the cabin now and then. I told her about my pathological fear of bears especially those of the grizzly kind. She responded, “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” and immediately strapped on her pistol which she kept on her hip the entire time I was there. How can you not bond with someone like that?

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Christy, her pistol and I.

 

We spent the next few days eating pancakes in the morning, sitting on lawn chairs by the cabin staring at the palisades across the valley, smoking, drinking and telling stories. Christy spoke mostly about her third husband. She loved him very much. He shared her lifestyle, carousing, boating, racing their ski-mobiles through the forests in winter and the like. She was devastated when he died in an unfortunate accident.

One morning Christy drove us in her van around the valley. We stopped at the base of Sheep Mountain. Naida told me that the canyon and Sheep Mountain had been leased by her grandfather from BLM when he was raising sheep on a ranch somewhere near Idaho Falls.

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Naida and I at the head of the Sheep Creek Trail.

 

During the summer, he would drive his sheep into the canyon where they would graze along the creek on the way to the slopes of the mountain where they would spend the season. He would spend most of the summer there with his sons and ranch hands and his sheepcamp.
sheepwagcampbellcnty10
A Sheepcamp.

 
We also walked along the trails and dirt roads. Naida would try to identify the flora that we passed by.

IMG_6994

 

At one point she mentioned that she thought the mountains thereabout were part of the Grand Teton mountain chain. If they were they were not particularly imposing. I decided to call them the Puny Teton Mountains.

On our last day there, Naida and I met with some more of her relatives who we met in the nearby town of Swan Valley.

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Naida and Brian Miller and his family.

 

and then, after saying a sad goodbye to Christy, we left the Puny Tetons and headed to the Grand Tetons and the second half of our trip.

 

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The Palisades and Christy’s Boat.

(To be continued)

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The following was sent to me by my cousin Lou. It’s a little sappy and a little long-winded but at our age (Lou is a little older than I am) being a bit sappy and long-winded is how we spend much of our time.

“THIS IS RIGHT ON THE NOSE. …….READ IT SLOWLY… I DON’T KNOW WHO WROTE IT, BUT I AM GUESSING IT WAS A SENIOR!!! I FIRST STARTED READING THIS EMAIL AND WAS READING FAST UNTIL I REACHED THE THIRD SENTENCE. I STOPPED AND STARTED OVER READING SLOWER AND THINKING ABOUT EVERY WORD. THIS EMAIL IS VERY THOUGHT-PROVOKING. MAKES YOU STOP AND THINK.

AND THEN IT IS WINTER You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.

It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. But, here it is… the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like. But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me…but, I see the great change….Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so…now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!

But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over on this earth…it’s NOT over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done…things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!

Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.
LIVE IT WELL! ENJOY TODAY! DO SOMETHING FUN! BE HAPPY! HAVE A GREAT DAY!

REMEMBER:….
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
“LIVE HAPPY IN THIS YEAR AND EVERY YEAR!

LASTLY, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU’VE EVER BEEN, YET THE YOUNGEST YOU’LL EVER BE SO – ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS.
~Your kids are becoming you…….
~Going out is good.. Coming home is better!
~You forget names…. But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!!
~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything
~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore.
~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.
~You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch..
~You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…” when?”… “what?”. ???
~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere.
~You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”?!!!
~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~Everybody whispers.
~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet…. 2 of which you will never wear.
~But Old is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!

Stay well, “OLD FRIEND!” Send this on to other “Old Friends!” and let them laugh in AGREEMENT!!!
It’s Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived.”
Robin Stevenson, January 7, 2016

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A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 
I am sitting here this morning in my favorite chair in Peter and Barrie’s house typing this. Naida sits at the table across the room reading the newspaper, her coffee cup at the ready by her right hand. Barrie has gone out into the misty morning to walk Ramsey. Peter has disappeared upstairs to prepare for the day. Boo-Boo the Barking Dog has just finished barking at imagined threats to the safety of the household and now lies quietly, head between paws, on the black sofa to my left. It is a good beginning to the day.

Naida and I arrived last night and today I intend to spend most of the day at the hospital for my immunotherapy infusion.

We agreed that Naida would spend the day here tending to the dog while I went to the hospital. I got into the car and had driven part of the way from Noe Valley to Mission Bay when I decided to check my wallet for my identification and credit card. I could not find either of them. In a panic, I returned to pick up Naida so that at least I would have someone with me with the means to pay for whatever may be needed. Later I discovered the missing cards were in my wallet exactly where they were supposed to be. And so, another senior moment passes through my life.

The only interesting thing that transpired at the hospital was the doctor informing me that my previous CT scans seemed to show cancer spreading. Adding that it was so small he could not hazard a guess at to what it may mean. So, he ordered new scans to be done before my next infusion and assured me that even if they do show some spreading of cancer he has me scheduled for participation in some clinical trials.

The next morning, after we left Peter and Barrie’s house, we stopped at Red’s Java House on the Embarcadero for breakfast with Anthony and his girlfriend. Anthony asked me to tell some stories as he has begun to take an interest in family history. I told a few of them including my midnight knife fight in the dark alley’s of Istanbul in the early ’70s. We then returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

B. THE SATURDAY MORNING COFFEE.

 
The following morning we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. It was our “dear leader” Gerry’s birthday and so we had a cake and sang happy birthday to her. Later Winnie and I told each other a few stories. She told me that Ducky, the woman in the group whose white hair was always perfectly coiffed had some interesting stories also. Ducky lived and traveled in many places in the world with her husband who was in charge of a US submarine squadron. One of Ducky’s stories about her being kidnapped at knifepoint in Japan, she felt was worth hearing. So, she called Ducky over and left. I asked about the kidnapping. Ducky, said “it was nothing as serious as a kidnapping. It was more like being taken hostage.”

She explained that they were living in Japan at the time and she had gone to the bank. As she approached the teller, a Japanese man rushed up behind her, grabbed her, put a knife to her throat and demanded the teller give him money or he would kill the American lady. Ducky was proud of the fact that somehow for some unknown reason she had the presence of mind to signal to the teller to call the embassy. The teller cleverly gave the thief two large bags heavily filled with coins to slow him down as he tried to get away. The thief then dragged Ducky and the bags of coins across the floor of the bank and out into the street where he threw her down and tried to make his escape. Unfortunately for him, weighted down with the coins, he was quickly subdued by two policemen armed only with batons.

What happened later was the most interesting part of the story. Everyone, the thief, Ducky, the tellers, bystanders, and the two policemen were all taken to police headquarters, placed in a large room together where they sat around a table and each gave their account of the events. Then they were all taken back to the bank where they each, in turn, had to reprise their role and movements in the drama. They then were all returned to the station to review their statements once again. After about 12 hours of this, the embassy secured Ducky’s release. But wait there is more.

A few weeks later, Ducky received a visit from the parents of the thief. Apparently, following the trial, the parents were ordered to beg her forgiveness. Much to her embarrassment, they then crawled across the floor to lie at her feet and apologize for their son’s behavior.

Still later, she was ordered to appear at the prison to view the cell in which the miscreant was imprisoned. It was a small room. Ten prisoners were kept there. There were sleeping mats on the floor and a bucket by the wall. The jailer assigned to the room, she was told, checks the prisoners very closely every night because if one escaped, the punishment was for the jailor, himself, to take his place. Finally, she was informed that when the thief in question was let out of prison he would be prohibited from appearing in public without a member of his family accompanying him.

 

C. SMOGY THINGS.

 
Naida drives a white 1991 Mitsubishi sports car. It is the model that allows one to choose a touring or sports mode as they drive. In sports mode, the car can reach into the 180 mph range. Alas, while seeking to re-register the car for 2019 (yes, we are grossly late), it failed its smog test. As a result, we agreed to switch cars (she the Toyota Forerunner and I the Mitsubishi) while I set about doing whatever needs doing in order to secure the smog clearance. We first sought the opinion of something called a “smog referee.” That worthy, we were told, was supposed to assist people whose automobiles fail the smog test. “Not so,” he said. His job, he informed us, was to do the same smog inspection as had previously been done. And so he did with the same results. So, after that I enlisted the assistance of my grandson, who had worked for a few years in an auto repair shop, as well as Hayden and the Scooter Gang — they being at that age when adolescent boys obsess about all things automotive.

On Monday, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills to confer with my automotive consultant, Hayden. He informed me that he and the gang reviewed the referee’s report and believe that the repairs to the engine needed to bring it into compliance should not be too expensive. He agreed to seek out some estimates.

While driving back to the Enchanted Forest, I realized how much I enjoyed driving a sports car and decided to try to persuade Naida to make the switch of automobiles permanent.

IMG_7833

 

D. AT NIGHT WITH NAIDA AND ANNABELL LEE.

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One night, perhaps it was the same night, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills, Boo Boo the Barking Dog lay strangely quiet on the chair beside me. Naida sat at her computer happily pounding the keys in order to produce the paragraphs making up volume two of her memoir. I, in my black vest over a red sweater, sat in my favorite reclining chair, my laptop set properly upon my lap, flipping through the poems in one of my favorite poetry sites (PoemHunter) when I happened to strike with the curser a tiny arrow and a somewhat reedy voice with what sounded like a British accent emerged and filled the room with a recitation of Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabell Lee.

t was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.I

And so on.

The dog raised his head for a moment then returned to sleep. Naida suddenly stopped typing, turned from the computer and began reciting the poem word for word along with the narrator. When they both had finished, she sprang from her chair and exclaimed:

“He said it all wrong. He sounded like he was selling aspirin. He is no poet or actor. To Poe, this was highly emotional. There were angels and demons and sadness and loss.”

She then sat back down and returned to her typing. Shortly thereafter she got up and took the dog for a walk.

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“O sanctissima” (O most holy) is a Roman Catholic hymn in Latin, seeking the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and often sung in various languages on her feast days. The earliest known publication was from London in 1792, presenting it as a traditional song from Sicily; but no original source or date has been confirmed for the simple melody or the poetic text. The tune is often called “Sicilian Mariners Hymn” or similar titles, referring to the seafarers’ nightly invocation of Mary as their maternal protector. (Wikipedia)

“Travellers all agree in their account of the effects of the simple air called ‘The Virgin’s Hymn,’ sung in unison by the whole crew of the Sicilian seamen on board their ships when the sun sets, or when it is the twenty-fourth hour of Italy.”
William Seward 1792.

Imagine if you will, a calm evening on the black waters of the Mediterranean. A group of small fishing boats bobbing gently in the swells, a few lights twinkling like the stars above. Then from the boats the rough voices of the fishermen rising in uniform with the solemn strains of the hymn.

Also, note the interesting rhyming pattern in the Latin version.

O sanctissima, o piissima,
dulcis Virgo Maria!
Mater amata, intemerata,
ora, ora pro nobis.

Tu solatium et refugium,
Virgo Mater Maria.
Quidquid optamus, per te speramus;
ora, ora pro nobis.

Ecce debiles, perquam flebiles;
salva nos, o Maria!
Tolle languores, sana dolores;
ora, ora pro nobis.

Virgo, respice, Mater, aspice;
audi nos, o Maria!
Tu medicinam portas divinam;
ora, ora pro nobis.
O most holy, o most loving,
sweet Virgin Mary!
Beloved Mother, undefiled,
pray, pray for us.

You are solace and refuge,
Virgin, Mother Mary.
Whatever we wish, we hope it through you;
pray, pray for us.

Look, we are weak and deeply deplorable;
save us, o Mary!
Take away our lassitude, heal our pains;
pray, pray for us.

Virgin, look at us, Mother, care for us;
hear us, o Mary!
You bring divine medicine;
pray, pray for us.

 

Many, many years ago, I was a mere callow lad and altar boy in the Italian-American Parish Assumption Church in Tuckahoe New York. The parish and church existed mainly because at the time Italians were discouraged from attending the much larger so-called American Church nearby. At morning mass most of the worshippers were black-clothed vecchiadelli (Old Women). I would often listen to them singing this hymn in that strange reedy nasal voice that characterizes Sicilian singing. It has remained a fond memory of mine, even until now 70 years later.

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A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 
I  sit here this morning in my favorite chair in Peter and Barrie’s house typing this while Naida sits at the table across the room reading the newspaper, her coffee cup at the ready by her right hand. Barrie has gone out into the misty morning to walk Ramsey. Peter has disappeared upstairs to prepare for the day. Boo-Boo the Barking Dog has just finished barking at imagined threats to the safety of the household and now lies quietly, head between paws, on the black sofa to my left. It is a good beginning to the day.

Naida and I arrived last night and today I intend to spend most of the day at the hospital for my immunotherapy infusion.

We agreed that Naida would spend the day here tending to the dog while I went to the hospital. I got into the car and had driven part of the way from Noe Valley to Mission Bay when I decided to check my wallet for my identification and credit card. I could not find either of them. In panic, I returned to pick up Naida so that at least I would have someone with me with the means to pay for whatever may be needed. Later I discovered the missing cards were in my wallet exactly where they were supposed to be. And so, another senior moment passed through my life.

The only interesting thing that transpired at the hospital was the doctor informing me that my previous CT scans seemed to show cancer spreading. Adding, however, that it was so small he could not hazard a guess at to what it may mean. So, he ordered new scans to be done before my next infusion and assured me that even if they do show some spreading of cancer he has me scheduled for participation in some clinical trials.

The next morning, after we left Peter and Barrie’s house, we stopped at Red’s Java House on the Embarcadero for breakfast with Anthony and his girlfriend. Anthony asked me to tell some stories as he has begun to take an interest in family history. I told a few of them including my midnight knife fight in the dark alley’s of Istanbul in the early ’70s. We then returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

 

B. THE SATURDAY MORNING COFFEE.

 
The following morning we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. It was our “dear leader” Gerry’s birthday and so a cake with candles brought out and we all sang happy birthday to her. Later Winnie came over to where I was sitting. We told each other a few stories. She mentioned that Ducky, the woman in the group whose white hair was always perfectly coiffed had some interesting stories also. Ducky lived and traveled in many places in the world with her husband who was in charge of a US submarine squadron. Winnie felt one of Ducky’s stories where she had been kidnapped at knifepoint in Japan, I would enjoy hearing. So, she called Ducky over and left. I asked about the kidnapping. Ducky, said “it was nothing as serious as a kidnapping. It was more like being taken hostage.”

She explained that they were living in Japan at the time and she had gone to the bank. As she approached the teller, a Japanese man rushed up behind her, grabbed her, put a knife to her throat and demanded the teller give him money or he would kill the American lady. Ducky was proud of the fact that somehow for some unknown reason she had the presence of mind to signal to the teller to call the embassy. The teller cleverly gave the thief two large bags heavily filled with coins to slow him down as he made nis getaway. The thief then dragged Ducky and the bags of coins across the floor of the bank and out into the street where he threw her down and tried to make his escape. Unfortunately for him, weighted down with the coins, he was quickly subdued by two policemen armed only with batons.

What happened later was the most interesting part of the story. Everyone, the thief, Ducky, the tellers, bystanders, and the two policemen were all taken to police headquarters, placed in a large room together where they sat around a table and each gave their account of the events. Then they were all taken back to the bank where they each, in turn, had to reprise their role and movements in the drama. They then were all returned to the station to review their statements once again. After about 12 hours of this, the embassy secured Ducky’s release. But wait there is more.

A few weeks later, Ducky received a visit from the parents of the thief. Apparently, following the trial, the parents were ordered to seek her forgiveness. Much to her embarrassment, they then crawled across the floor to lie at her feet and apologize for their son’s behavior.

Still later, she was ordered to appear at the prison to view the cell in which the miscreant was imprisoned. The cell she was shown was a small room. She was told that ten prisoners were kept there. The only things in the room were sleeping mats on the floor and a bucket by the wall. The jailer assigned to the room, she was told, checks the prisoners very closely every night because if one of them escaped the jailer himself would have to take his place. Finally, she was informed that when the thief in question was let out of prison he would be prohibited from appearing in public without a member of his family accompanying him.

 

 

C. SMOGY THINGS.

IMG_7833
Naida drives a white 1991 Mitsubishi sports car. It is the model that allows one to choose a touring or sports mode as they drive. In sports mode, the car can reach into the 180 mph range. Alas, while seeking to re-register the car for 2019 (yes, we are grossly late), it failed its smog test. As a result, we agreed to switch cars (she the Toyota Forerunner and I the Mitsubishi) while I set about doing whatever needs doing in order to secure the smog clearance. We first sought the opinion of something called a “smog referee.” That worthy, we were told, was supposed to assist people whose automobiles fail the smog test. “Not so,” he said. His job, he informed us, was to do the same smog inspection as had previously been done. And so he did with the same results. So, after that, in order to find someone who could to the proper repairs required to enable the car to pass the smog test, I enlisted the assistance of my grandson, who had worked for a few years in an auto repair shop, as well as Hayden and the Scooter Gang — they were at that age when adolescent boys obsess about all things automotive.

On Monday, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills to confer with my automotive consultant, Hayden. He informed me that he and the gang reviewed the referee’s report and believed that the repairs to the engine required to bring it into compliance should not be too expensive. He agreed to seek out some estimates.

While driving back to the Enchanted Forest, I realized how much I enjoyed driving a sports car and decided to try to persuade Naida to make the switch of automobiles permanent.

 

 

D. AT NIGHT WITH NAIDA AND ANNABELL LEE.

 

 

One night, perhaps it was the same night, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills, Boo Boo the Barking Dog lay strangely quiet on the chair beside me. Naida sat at her computer happily pounding the keys in order to produce the words that will eventually make up volume two of her memoir. I, in my black vest over a red sweater, sat in my favorite reclining chair, my laptop set properly upon my lap, flipping through the poems in one of my favorite poetry sites (PoemHunter) when I happened to strike with the curser a tiny arrow and a somewhat reedy voice with what sounded like a British accent emerged and filled the room with a recitation of Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabell Lee.

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

And so on.

The dog raised his head for a moment then returned to sleep. Naida suddenly stopped typing, turned from the computer and began reciting the poem word for word along with the narrator. When they both had finished, she sprang from her chair and exclaimed, “He said it all wrong. He sounded like he was selling aspirin. He is no poet or actor. To Poe, this was highly emotional. There were angels and demons and sadness and loss.” She then sat back down and returned to her typing. Shortly thereafter she got up and took the dog for a walk.

Later after Naida and I went to bed, the dog joined us, nestled in and quickly fell asleep knowing he would have to wake up early the next morning to begin barking in order to protect the house from the ravages on rebid squirrels and itinerant leaf-blowers.

IMG_7829 - Version 2

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