Monday, October 30, 2000

Look to the Rainbow

We all had problems sleeping last night. Peggy woke up around 3:30 and the two of us sat up talking until time for her to take her shower and make the final preparations. Just when she thought she had everything ready to go, she opened one more drawer and found another stack of clothes she had forgotten. But most of them fit in the suitcase. I still have a box to pack and send to her with the two boxes she packed herself. But we did get the suitcase closed and Walt was downstairs by then to help load the very heavy case into the car.

The sun was just coming up as we got to the airport. We had already decided I would just drop and her leave as quickly as possible. We were both having a very hard time holding back tears and the last thing we needed was to stand around prolonging the agony. So we unloaded the suitcase, I hugged her and started crying as I got into the car. I gave one final wave and then sped off.

When I got back to Davis, I stopped by the cemetery. I hadn’t been there since I showed the graves to Peggy shortly after she arrived. If a cemetery could look “beautiful,” it looked beautiful this morning. The sky was pink, there was low-lying fog wending its way among the headstones, and the birds were coming to life. I stood there talking with Paul and David while a white egret flew overhead and some chickadees hopped about in the tree near their grave. It helped to be there.

Walt is moving Kismet into the theater this week, so he spent most of the day at the theater. I tried to get some work done and to give some thought to the review I have to write of the show Walt and I saw on Friday night. I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do about it. I didn’t really like the script, though the production was good. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to handle it. The problem is that it’s kind of a surreal plot and I have little experience with such a thing, so I have to fake it and try not to look like an idiot. I’m told that this is how most critics start out--knowing nothing, but learning as they go. This play is definitely going to be a learning experience.

I spoke with my friend Lynn, in Texas. I hadn’t spoken with her in several weeks and it was good to hear her voice. One of the reasons it’s been so special having Peggy here is because since Lynn and her husband moved to Houston, I haven’t really had a good female friend here in Davis. I hadn’t realized I’d missed it so much until I suddenly had it again. So it was especially good to talk with Lynn this afternoon.

Peggy called from LA during her 4 hour layover before getting on the plane for Japan (her ultimate destination tonight is Singapore). When it came time for her to add more money to the pay phone, she counted it out like a pro. I was proud of her. It was hard telling her goodbye again. I won’t hear from her now until she gets back to Perth at the end of the week and gets her e-mail set up again. But at least we can go back to our daily chats and she can help me get my camera set up so we can do chats with photo accompaniment.

Before she left, we discovered that during her stay here, she’s gained weight and I’ve lost weight. This, we decided is because I’m walking more and she’s walking less. She will soon take off the weight as she gets back to eating her normal diet, running the dogs on the beach and walking around the halls of the hospital where she works as an Investigator. For my part, I promised her that I would keep up the walking habit that we started, so this afternoon I went out and walked for an hour. It was really lovely. I walked through the nearby park, over the freeway, and down by the marsh, which is home to a lot of birds. I sat on a bench where Peggy and I sat a couple of weeks ago and as I looked out over the marsh to the cumulus clouds, I saw a huge rainbow. It was so beautiful. It made me feel peaceful and happy.

When the rainbow disappeared, I walked back home again, feeling much better about things in general. They say a rainbow is a promise. I took the rainbow as a promise that the friendship Peggy and I have formed in the past six weeks will continue and that we will indeed find a way to see each other again.

Sunday, October 29, 2000

No More Adventures

We are winding down the last day. The clocks are about to be turned back, Peggy is trying to fit her stuff into the suitcase, and I'm in my office, trying not to think about a few hours from now when we start off to the airport.

We had a nice last day. We did some computer stuff in the morning. Funny, but we planned to spend most of her visit here on the computer, working together on doing new things, her showing me graphics tricks, our making CDs, etc. Ultimately we did almost none of that. Partly my problem, I suppose. I couldn't get off the machine long enough for her to really bond with it. But also because we were on the go so much we just didn't spend that much time playing at home.

I wanted to have one last walk, so we drove up to the University, parked the car, and took the footpath which winds along Putah Creek and through the arboretum. We've lived in Davis for 30 years and I've always thought I should get out and appreciate the beauty that is at my fingertips. Today was the first day I'd made that walk. It was indeed beautiful. It was grey and the wind was cold, but we bundled up. The leaves fell in front of us as we walked, and the ducks along the bank were fluffing up their feathers to stay warm while they napped. We walked as far as the duck pond, near Putah Creek Lodge, where I remember so many social events during the early years in Davis. We met hardly a soul on the footpath and it seemed we had the whole arboretum to ourselves.

By the time we returned to the car, it had started to rain. We took refuge in Borders Books and Peggy, who needed more "stuff" to fill her suitcase (like she needed a hole in her head), bought heavy books. Sigh. Only two of them, but two more than she needed. One, however, was a computer book she'd been looking for ever since she got here, so it was indeed fortuitous that she was able to find it on the last day.

We stopped for lunch at Pluto's Café, where you order salads by standing at a bin of "toppings" and letting them know what you'd like on your salad. Peggy went off in search of a table and I chose the salad toppings for each of us (hers were different from mine). I was thinking back on yesterday's journal entry and how I mentioned how nice it was to become so close that you know what the other person wants. I confidently stood there ordering Peggy's toppings, thinking how much I'd come to know about her in a short period of time.

It was pouring rain when we left the café and we drove to the supermarket to get stuff for dinner. When we were in Seattle, Peggy mentioned to Diane that if she knew she were going to die, her requested last meal would be roast leg of lamb, roast veggies, and for dessert apple pie with cream. So that seemed the logical thing to fix for dinner tonight. We bought lamb, apples, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips, butternut squash, and cream.

While Peggy packed (she had to pack 3 more boxes to mail home because the suitcase won't close), I cut up apples and got a pie ready. While the apple pie I made for Steve a couple of weeks ago was pretty good, this one was better, since I could add sugar to it (and yes, Steve, I did peel the apples. So there.) Peggy was supposed to do the veggies with the roast, but somehow in all the last minute things, that didn't happen, so I was on my own for that one. I peeled everything, cut the bigger veggies up into chunks, thought it was odd that they would roast cauliflower and broccoli with a roast, but those odd Aussies. I just threw it all in together.

Awhile later, Peggy asked me when I was going to start cooking the cauliflower and broccoli with cheese sauce. Gleep! I told her I'd put it in with the roast. She hasn't stopped giggling about that since. I managed to pull them out and steam them and add some cheese, but I'm afraid my faux pas was the highlight of the night. (On top of that, when steaming the cauliflower and broccoli, I managed to burn the water away!) I also found out too late that in Australia, they roast the veggies whole, not in chunks. Owell. Oh yeah–and I cleverly traced the outline of a map of Australia as a design on the top pie crust–and had it upside down.

But in spite of the goofs, dinner was very good and Peggy was pleased. We are all very full.

Since it had been raining, Peggy couldn't go out on the patio to sit one last time and smoke a cigarette, so she and I took a walk around the block. The stars were out and we just talked about how perfect her time here had been and how we hate to see it end. But I know she's going to be glad to get home to her "girls" (the dogs, Keno and Chippa) and back to normal again.

For me, there is a stack of dictation waiting, I have a review to write, Georgia wants me to take care of a situation on CompuServe, Breaking Barriers wants me to drive next week, we are going to Larry & Steve's for Halloween, I have a business lunch with my old boss coming up on Thursday, and the reality of "life" is going to descend all too quickly, I fear. It's been like a little six weeks of magic. For the most part, I just let everything go and concentrated on getting to know Peggy, enjoying our time together, and doing a lot of traveling. It's almost like it was my vacation as well as hers. But we both have a real life to get back to...

I'm leaving on a jet plane...don't know when I'll be back again....Oh babe, I hate to see you go....

Saturday, October 28, 2000

...Through Different Eyes

It’s the day before the last day and things were fairly routine today, so rather boring to report on for a journal. We went to Best Buy and bought stuff, we did laundry, cleaned the kitchen, I typed, Peggy ironed, we had dinner, etc. Boring stuff. So I went to look through my collection of quotes and ideas for exploration in a journal and I came across the following quote. I’m not sure who wrote it--maybe I did--but it seems appropriate to address today:

I believe that every close emotional encounter changes us. We may first be drawn to someone because we sense some kinship, but get close enough and the differences become apparent too. And over a long-enough time, we take on some of those new ideas, new experiences and we change.

It's not that we necessarily become more like the one we're close to, although we can. It's that we get close enough to almost live inside the other's skin, to see the world through other eyes.

And we cannot help but be changed by the experience.

As we are preparing to say goodbye to Peggy, I think back on not only the past six weeks, but on the effect of so many people who have come into our lives as strangers over the years, who moved into our house, moved into our hearts, and left our world changed, and whose worlds we changed as well.

I think of Eduardo, the trailblazer for the others. The first to share our life, who had me studying rules of English grammar so I could explain the finer points of the language to him, who taught us all about hang gliding, who took me on a virtual tour (80s style) of Brasil, and who started helping me to learn Portuguese by having me read letters from his mother.

I think of Caico, who was a sports buff stuck in this theatre family, who determined he was going to make the most of his time with us, and who did anything and everything. I remember his face shining as he climbed all over the battleship we toured during Fleet Week in San Francisco, and the way he'd leap over the back of the couch to hide when a scary movie was on television.

I think of Henrique teaching capoiera (the Brasilian martial art) to Tom and David, and then struggling to learn English.

I think of Nelson and Sonia, determined to get the whole family speaking Portuguese, and our nights around the dinner table all trying to learn the nouns so we could ask to have bread passed to us. I think of being the matron of honor at Sonia’s wedding several years later, as she married her Charlie, whom she met here in Davis.

I think of David and his friend Jeff setting up English lessons to teach to Victor, from Zaire, who couldn’t speak a word of the language. I remember Victor’s pained face at the door many years later when he arrived for David’s funeral.

I think of Jane teaching Seymour to “shake a paw,” and then managing somehow to get together with us nearly every year, either in England or here in this country.

I still think of Marcio whenever I hear Evita, and remember how close he was to Tom. I remember the guys who taught David how to give a speech in Portuguese when he was the Brasilian delegate at a school UN Day. I remember making empanadas with the Chileans, teaching the Japanese girls how to cook their own native dishes, and typing resumes for Felix when he decided to remain in this country rather than return to his native Yugoslavia. I remember raising Vince and seeing him through 3 years of high school, UC Davis, and his marriage to Heidi. We were his American family, filling in for his Malaysian family. So many many much love and learning.

It's not that we necessarily become more like the one we're close to, although we can. It's that we get close enough to almost live inside the other's skin, to see the world through other eyes.

And I think of Peggy, learning to see the world through her eyes, and watching her learn to see the world through ours. It’s the big things like dryers vs. clotheslines; sports vs. theatre; John Denver vs. “Stevie boy.” It’s seeing American coverage of the Olympics through the eyes of someone from the host country, whose countrymen were virtually ignored by American media. It’s discussing the upcoming elections vs. the monarchy. And it’s the little things--knowing how we like our respective coffee, knowing styles and sizes and colors (“Next time I’ll send you the money and you can just go shopping for me...”), learning to finish each other’s thoughts, laughing at the same dumb stuff. Crying at the thought of having to say goodbye.

...And we cannot help but be changed by the experience.

The past six weeks has changed me. It’s changed Peggy. She will leave with a greater understanding of Americans (even if she hasn’t been converted to the joys of eating Mexican food) and will leave behind her a greater understanding of Australians and the life down under. In this six weeks we’ve shared the pain of having a pet put to sleep, the exhilaration of our first hot air balloon ride, travel all over the west coast, sharing computer secrets, power shopping, jelly bellies, the Blue Angels, getting lost, fancy dinners in fancy restaurants, and picnics in the rain. We’ve done it without a single cross word between us, with not one moment of tension, and with a lot of laughter. It’s hard to imagine next week without her.

Good bye, my dear friend
I love you and I will miss you so much.

Friday, October 27, 2000

The Further Adventures of Thelma and Louise

Peggy and Bev have had one last escapade and what fun it was. I really did feel like Thelma and Louise as we drove down the freeway with Peggy trying to take a picture of the two of us, holding the camera out in front of her, and leaning her head practically into my lap to get the angle right. The look on my face is a combination of giddiness and terror at the thought of trying to hold that pose while trucks were whizzing by next to me on the freeway!

We left yesterday morning and did a transport for Breaking Barriers, then stopped in Old Sacramento to do some last minute gift buying. We made the mistake of going to a cafe for some food--we'd had to leave the house so early Peggy had not had breakfast--but the cafe coffee was weak and the toast cold and the cheese unmelted and the meal was pretty much a disaster. However, once we left Old Sacramento, our drive up to Lake Tahoe was very nice. Quite a change from our previous trip, when things were still green and the sun was out. It was a grey, wet day and the trees had turned color, so the riot of color we had experienced in Seattle followed us into the Sierras.

We stopped for food on the way up at a Raley's supermarket in Auburn. I've heard wonderful things about Raley's. I hope this was just an off location. We bought a "chook" (cooked chicken) that was supposedly barbecued, but wasn't. Peggy bought some eccinacea for her cold, but it had expired, she discovered too late, and the "chewable" Vitamin-C tablets were so vile I suspect they've been tossed.

We arrived at the condo somewhat late, and had a relaxed afternoon (we both took naps, in fact), had a leisurely dinner, watched the World Series, and went to sleep early. We awoke to snow. Not a lot, but enough to dust the rooftops with powdered sugar and leave the air crisp, clear, and sparkling. We had a leisurely breakfast, showered, cleaned up, packed the car, and headed off to the Ponderosa Ranch.

This is where you can tour the Cartwright house, see a lot of the paraphernalia left over from filming the Bonanza series, and also see some spectacular views of the lake. It is after the peak season, so a lot of things were closed, but Peggy was able to buy some gifts, we toured the ranch house, hiked the trail to the lake overlook to take pictures (I resisted the temptation to take a picture of "the little outhouse on the prairie," as I nicknamed the restrooms), and wandered through the old western town. Then, foregoing a "world famous Hoss Burger," we went back to the car, turned on the heat, opened up the chicken left over from dinner, and sat there eating a "picnic" lunch and talking. One of the things I will miss most about Peggy when she leaves on Sunday is our long conversations. We have found that we are quite compatible and have discussed just about everything you can possibly imagine in the past six weeks. We've laughed and cried and bared our souls. I will miss that sorely.

I decided to take Highway 50 home, since we were closer to it than to I-80, which we had come on originally. It proved to be a fantastic decision. First, however, we had our real Thelma and Louise adventure. At least we were certainly laughing a lot. There is a tunnel that you pass through which brings you out to a great view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. We had gone through it in the other direction a few weeks before, so we knew it was coming up. It was also raining. Peggy wanted to get a photo coming through the tunnel, but it had to be with a clear windshield, so there weren't any rain spots on the picture. It took us four tries, with me making u-turns on the highway (thank god we avoided the CHP) before she finally got what she wanted--but I think that ultimately it was worth it. Maybe.

After we passed through South Lake Tahoe and its casinos and wedding chapels, we started up toward Echo Summit. The radio was warning us of snow flurries and telling us to stay tuned for updated information. We finally turned off the radio and turned on John Denver--the perfect "driving through the mountains" music--and headed into the snow storm. There were snow flurries coming down heavier and heavier as we approached the summit. Peggy had never seen it snowing before and got out of the car to take pictures. I greatly regret not getting out to take her picture in the snow because she was glowing just like a little kid. It was the perfect end to the perfect trip.

The ride down the mountain continued to be gorgeous most of the way, until we started to reach civilization again. We returned to Davis while it was still inning one of the World Series. The perfect end to the perfect day would have been for the Mets to have won the game, but alas our luck had run out, and the Yankees won the series. Owell--there's always next year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2000

The Americanization of Emily

(or Peggy or Maureen or whatever the heck her name is)

Once upon a time there was a little girl (ok, so she was pushing “senior citizen.” Let’s not quibble) who lived in the land of Oz and who decided to take a big trip over the rainbow and halfway around the world. She packed her bags and her credit cards and her dreams and set off to find out about how people in another land, far, far away lived.

She came to a house in a quiet town and she moved in with a nice family. The first night she sat down to dinner and pushed her plate away. “I’m not eating this,” she said, of her risotto. “I don't like it.” And the family wondered if this was going to be a long six weeks.

That night she went to bed and in the morning she got up to have some breakfast. She had some toast. The people in the house had toast. When the mother in the house went to put the dishes in the dishwasher, she was aghast. “Dishwasher?” she exclaimed. “It’s only a couple of dishes. You don’t need a dishwasher for a couple of dishes. I’ll wash them by hand.” And she did. She washed them and dried them and put them away. And the dishwasher stood empty.

After a few days, she decided to wash some clothes. “Where is your clothesline?” she asked the mother.

“Clothesline?” the mother asked. "We use a dryer."

“But the clothes smell better and it doesn’t take long for them to dry,” she protested. She went to the store and she bought a rope and she ran a clothes line. She even bought “pins” (as she called them) and soon her unmentionables were flapping away in the breeze.

She asked for an iron. “An iron?” the mother said. “I haven’t used my iron in months. All our clothes are wash and wear.”

“I love freshly ironed clothes,” Peggy said, as she dragged the iron out from behind all the junk in the closet. She even set it up on the patio so she could iron in plain sight of the clothesline.

She studied her money and she tried to make sense (or cents) out of it. “What is all this rubbish?” she would exclaim as she tossed a stack of coins on the table. The mother’s coin jar got very full because she would gather all the “rubbish” and put it away, while Peggy continued to use her dollar bills. They weren’t as pretty or as recognizable as Peggy’s money, but she didn’t have to worry about making change.

Time passed and Peggy began to settle into the lifestyle of the new country she was visiting. Soon she could make change like an American. $5.49? No problem. She no longer held out a mountain of coins to a merchant and invited him to take the proper amount. She counted it out like a pro. The mother’s coin jar didn’t fill up quite so quickly.

She went on a trip to visit the mountains. She was gone five days. And when she returned, all of her clothes needed to be washed. She asked the mother if she could toss a few things into the wash and when they came out, they went into the dryer.

“These clothes look all right,” Peggy said. “They don’t even need ironing.” The ironing board stayed in the closet.

Then the mother and Peggy walked to the supermarket. They bought two ready-made salads for dinner, each in its own little disposable plastic container. They came home and ate the salads with forks from the silverware drawer. When dinner was finished, Peggy said, “I’ll do the dishes.” She put the plastic containers in the garbage and the two forks into the dishwasher.

And the mother saw that Peggy had assimilated into American culture.

The assimilation complete, it is now time for Peggy to return to the land of Oz to see if she could go back to being the same person that she was six weeks before.

And the people in the family wept.

* * *

There will be no journal entry tomorrow. My laptop is still being flaky and Peggy and I are going for one last trip to Lake Tahoe.

Today was a slow day. We went to another outlet mall, but Peggy’s heart wasn’t really in shopping. All she bought in two hours’ time was: a pair of shoes, 7 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of long pants, two pair of shorts, a couple of shirts, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. But, as I said, it was a slow day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Back to Home Base

And so it ends, our week in the Northwest. It was difficult to say goodbye to Diane today and head back to California.

We had a quiet morning. Did the usual stuff we'd been doing, but with the overtones of "last day...last day...last day..." We got the bed stripped, managed to fit all of Peggy's purchases into a box, Peggy showed Diane more stuff on her computer, the two of them got their coffee and smokes and went to the patio. I wrapped in a blanket and joined them. We watched the squirrel cavort on the lawn, eating the bread Peggy had thrown out for him.

Mary Williams, my Compuserve "other daughter" and her 3 year old Emily arrived to be our chauffeur. We got all our stuff into Mary's van and then drove down to the waterfront in Edmonds to have a last lunch overlooking Puget Sound.

We had a little time (or so we thought) after lunch, so we walked down to Mary's favorite beach. Talk about breathtaking. Mary and Emily stopped in a playground area while Peggy and I walked to the beach itself, where you get a 180 degree panorama of mountains, water, ferries, and wildlife. I took this picture of Peggy with Mt. Baker in the background, but the mountain doesn't show up too well in this size:

And then we drove to the airport. Though we arrived one hour ahead, as we had when we left Sacramento, the line to get boarding numbers for Southwest Airlines (which does not give seat assignments, so it's definitely first come, first serve) was already quite long. We were #70 and 71, which meant we'd be in the third wave of boarders. We thought we might not be able to sit together, but we were able to get seats in the "lounge" area (that means two banks of seats facing each other) right at the front of the plane. I never sit there because it means playing kneesies with total strangers, but since it was Peggy and me, it was comfortable to sit across from each other and if knees bumped, it was with a friend, not with a stranger. And the perks include getting your drink and peanuts first, and being first off the plane.

We picked up our luggage in Sacramento's new terminal. The first time I saw this place I got a fit of the giggles. Some clever architect decided that instead of putting in supporting pillers to the ceiling, he would make the "pillers" look like stacks of baggage. They are really quite clever, and it's fun to look at what's in the stacks, which may include things like golf clubs and other easily identifiable items.

We caught the Davis Airporter shuttle back home, which dropped us at the door. Kimba was quite happy to see us. And then, since Walt was in San Francisco with the car, we walked to the supermarket to get food for dinner. I am amazed at my attitude about walking since Peggy's been here. I don't get as winded, I don't mind walking--in fact, I enjoy it. And best of all, I wasn't really keeping track, but it seems that without changing my eating habits at all, I've dropped 8 lbs since she arrived nearly 6 weeks ago.

We had a nice dinner and then managed to find Diane trying out her internet connection, and using Instant Messaging. She was thrilled to find someone she knew on line at the same time. We chatted a bit and then, since both of us were exhausted from being up so late the night before, we just went to bed.

We are now in the last days here, with Peggy starting to do things like check her airline tickets, figure out which things to mail home, doing "test packing," etc. It's really coming to an end. When she was expected, 6 weeks ago, I was nervous about how we would get along. It has exceeded our wildest expectations and we have forged a very close, friendship which we expect will continue forever. It will be so difficult having her at one end of the world and me at the other, knowing that we will undoubtedly never again have the chance to get lost on the freeway, do some power shopping, or just sit together and laugh. But it's been an unforgettable experience and I will cry when I have to take her to the airport on Sunday. It's been a long time since I've had to have a gut-wrenching goodbye and send someone back to another country. Those farewells are always so bitter sweet. Terribly painful because it's the end of something, but sweet because of the joy that the brief time together has been.

Monday, October 23, 2000

I Was OK, Until I Got Arrested

A day that starts out getting arrested at the governor's mansion can only get better.

We actually got on the road before noon today. Destination: Mt. St. Helens. We had already determined that trying to do the mountain and stopping to see Gabi and Alec Clayton at night in Olympia was probably not the wisest move in the world. However, the weather was so gorgeous that we did make an unscheduled stop in Olympia to see the capitol building.

We were trying to drive around to the backside of the capitol building to see the lovely view across a nice lake when we got waved down by this officer, who said we were trespassing on private property and that we were about to drive toward the front door of the governor's mansion. He wouldn't accept our "dumb little old ladies" story, but insisted on checking Diane's license, her registration and her proof of insurance (??), and when Peggy wanted to step out to take his photo (because we were all holding back laughter), he told her she could not set foot out of the car. However, she managed to charm him and he did finally allow her to take his photo. I'm sure he'd be very surprised to find himself here on the Internet.

After our unscheduled hour in Olympia, we continued on down the road. Again, fall color was blindingly beautiful, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and Diane kept exclaiming that she didn't believe it could possibly be October in Washington.

We had lunch at the slowest-service Denny's I've ever visited and eventually ended up at the visitor center at Mt. St. Helens. It's about a 50 mile drive from the visitor center to the Johnston Ridge overlook, the end of the trail, overlooking the crater of the mountain. Around each curve was yet another gorgeous view of the mountain.

Twenty years after the fact, the signs of the devastation are still evident everywhere. The power of the explosion from the mountain can be seen in the dead trees, still lying like matchsticks everywhere, many larger trees uprooted (and this after years of clean up). There are burn scars on the walls of the opposite hills, and walls of silt/lava many feet tall seen on the floor of the valley beneath the mountain. I remember being in Portland some time after the original eruption and finding volcanic ash even that far away, covering all the greenery. It was an awesome sight seeing it up close and personal today.

We left the mountain around 6 p.m., into a glorious sunset, stopped for gas and dinner in Centralia, and returned home at 10 p.m., just 12 hours after we left Seattle. Now we are trying to pack up, finish the last of the computer stuff for Diane, and, with any luck at all, get some sleep before time to get to the airport tomorrow morning.

Sunday, October 22, 2000

Away We Go to an Island Fair

Time is running out and today was the last day we will probably have to get Diane up and going with this computer, so in the morning, after our usual loll around half the day drinking coffee (and for them smoking), we finally got on the road shortly before noon.

We went to Home Depot, Radio Shack, and Office Max (all in the same complex) and got a bookcase, cords to get the computer attached to the telephone, and office supplies to get the whole system organized (thank goodness for Peggy; Diane and I are not organized people!)

After dropping all the stuff back at home and picking up the cameras, we drove into Edmonds and got on the Kingston ferry, to take us over to the town of Kingston, and beyond to Poulsbo (where they make, apparently, quite good bread). The rain had stopped and the weather was fine for the 30 minute crossing in Puget Sound. A guy on deck was having a great time feeding the seagulls which fly alongside the ferry (sometimes right by a passenger window, keeping pace with the ferry's speed).

As we came into Kingston, I finally decided I was tired of photographing the back of Peggy's head as she took pictures, so asked her to turn around and pose for me. I think the results are rather nice, don't you?

We hoped to stop for lunch in Kingston, but the town flitted by so quickly we didn't have the chance. Instead we headed toward Poulsbo, passing the grave of Chief Seattle en route and going through some absolutely gorgeous yellow, red and orange trees interspersed among the green.

In Kingston we had lunch (at 4 p.m.!) at a lovely seafood place which served locally caught salmon, and then toured the shops. Peggy is getting a little testy with my "bull in a china shop" grace, I suspect. She used to gently suggest that perhaps I might like to wait outside while she shops. Now she says "go outside. Now." I only almost knocked over a bowl of rocks today. Diane is no better, and while yesterday she left her purse behind, today she lost the car keys, which Peggy managed to find back at the restaurant. How will we survive when she returns to Australia? How have we managed to live 57 years without having her here to tuck in our tags, straighten our shoulder pads, and find our missing items?

When we had finished wandering around the town, it was nearing sunset, so we settled ourselves on a bench to watch the sun set behind the mountains. It was a bucolic scene, with the sailboats in the bay, the seagulls settling in for the night, and the smoke from a fire on the far hill starting to spill out across the water.

We drove home at dusk and made wonderful time because we were able to get on the ferry almost instantly. This time we didn't get out of the car, but just sat there while the ferry made the crossing. Then, since we'd had such a late "lunch," we skipped dinner entirely. Peggy put a bookcase together for Diane, I got some software installed and helped Diane start to make sense out of her computer. Peggy was having some indigestion, so has gone to the couch to sleep.

Tomorrow the plan is to go to Mt. St. Helen's, for our last day here, unless Peggy is not feeling any better, in which case we'll probably hang around home, play on the computer, and feed the squirrels. Whatever we do, it will be fine. We've had a lovely time here and will be sorry to return to "reality" on Monday.

Saturday, October 21, 2000

Singing and Laughing in the Rain

Vancouver didn't happen. It poured rain in the early morning and we decided a three hour trip in the downpour to get somewhere and then not be able to do anything was kinda silly (occasionally we use common sense). Instead, hoping things would lift a bit, we decided to go to Issaquah Falls and perhaps do some "nature" stuff...and if it rained, we'd shop instead. We are nothing if not adaptable.

The weather wasn't looking too good when we started out and it didn't get much better as we continued to drive. The ran came pouring down and in spots it was almost impossible to see the road.

But by the time we got to the falls, it had started to let up just a tad. We stopped in a couple of places to take scenic pictures. The area was absolutely gorgeous, with stunning fall color.

The falls were beautiful and, of course, we had to take pictures of ourselves there.

It was obvious that we were going to have rain all day, though, so it was "get out, take a couple of photos, visit the ubiquitous gift shop, get back in the car and go shopping." Diane stopped to make a withdrawal at her bank and I began to realize that Peggy's time here was very short, now and got somewhat emotional about it.

But I pulled myself together before Diane returned to the car.

First we stopped for lunch and then to a nearby outlet mall. I've never been "power shopping" before. Peggy hit the stores like she was coming ashore at Normandy on D-Day. I knew we were in trouble when the first two stores in the circle were a shoe store and a sock store. I think I groaned audibly. Even Diane, who hasn't been shopping with Peggy as much as I have knew that she should just plan to wait in the car.

We started at the shoe store. By now I knew what color, style, and size we were looking for, so I ran interference. finding this shoe and that. I did pretty well in my selections, I must say. But, miraculously, there was nothing that appealed to Madam, so we walked out without buying a single pair. Clouds started thickening on the mountain top and it began to rain harder. The gods of shopping were not pleased.

Next it was the sock store. Now remember that Peggy bought >$100 worth of socks in SF a little more than a week ago. Do you know how much I spend on socks? In a year? Do you know how long it would take me to spend $100? But even with buying socks in San Francisco...and somewhere else that we visited after that...she still found socks to buy here. When she went to check out, they pointed out that if she bought 3 more pair, they would give her a 10% discount. Never mind that the 3 pair WITH the 10% discount would cost more than she was already paying, but by now the disease was in full bloom. She couldn't find 3 more pair that she she bought 3 pair for me! Couldn't waste a good bargain like that.

I knew what I was along for. I was the pack mule. She chose, tried on, bought, and handed the bags to me. We went to the next store. Van Heusen. Oh dear. We found lots of pants and shirts for her to try on. We filled the dressing room and then she sent me out to exchange sizes, colors or whatever wasn't quite right. On the way to the checkout counter with the purchases here, she passed.....socks. More socks! (Yes she bought more. Had to match the new purchases, you know.)

And so it went. My arms got fuller and fuller of shopping bags. Diane met us several stores down the row. She had been sleeping in the car for an hour. It finally started pouring (I'm not sure why, 'cause we had certain appeased the gods of shopping by now) and we were going to get into the car to drive back...but unfortunately between us and the car was the Naturalizer store. Shoes. "We'll just go in and have a little look," she said. I scoffed. Two pairs of shoes later we were really going to the car. Diane said it was raining too hard and she would get the car and drive it over. But first, Peggy wanted to "just peek" in the clothing store next to Naturalizer.

It was all Diane's fault. We were almost out the door when Diane said she was going to run to the restroom and would be right back. "Ooooo...look at that," said Peggy. Soon I was adding another sack to my bundles. At least she did manage to pass by the sock rack....but not without checking them out first.

When we got into the car, Peggy squeezed into the back with all her parcels, she suddenly realized we had come to Seattle with one suitcase, into which I managed to squeeze my pitiful collection of clothes, while she filled the rest with her winter wardrobe. Our challenge now do we get all of this stuff home???? I think we may have to visit a luggage store. God help us if it's near a shoe store.

It poured ran most of the way home, and we hit rush hour traffic, but we had a marvelous time, laughing and singing terrible songs. We stopped for groceries and then Diane cooked dinner while Peggy and I worked at getting Diane's new computer system operational--we had the computer up already, of course, but we set up the printer and scanner, while Diane sat here, head in hands, moaning softly about how she would ever learn all of this after we leave. It was midnight when we realized the time. Diane's eyes were drooping, but Peggy was just getting her second wind. If there had been an all night sock store, she would have been ready to do it all over again.

Friday, October 20, 2000

Sleepless in Seattle

[2010 note: It's surprisingly painful to work on this entry now, so soon after Diane's death]

Well, I don’t have my computer up and working (actually, I haven’t tried plugging it in this evening), but Diane has hers working now, so I’m just writing this in Microsoft Works and will do a cut and paste and get something put up. This, children, is why you learn HTML before going to a wysiwyg program! (except I can't figure out why the pictures don't show up on here!) Peggy didn't like the first crack at this journal entry, so I'm now expanding it.

So we arrived yesterday, were met by Diane and returned here to her house in Edmonds.

It's absolutely gorgeous around here, with the trees turning color and the landscape a vivid patchwork of yellow, red and orange.

Diane and Peggy hit it off right away, so things have gone quite well. We spent yesterday afternoon--for too many hours!--at CompUSA, spending Diane’s money buying a computer, monitor, printer and scanner. Lemme tell you, if you want to get a bargain, take this Aussie dame with you. Diane saved about $400 on the system just from Peggy’s wheeling and dealing. We had dinner out while the computer was being upgraded and then brought it all home, littering the house with boxes, plastic wrappers, books, and twistie ties. But after some machinations, we finally had it up and running and to test the sound system, we played the Steve CD.

Today we spent most of the morning doing “computer stuff” and then took off to do sightseeing. We went down to the waterfront, did some meandering around the shops (where Peggy picked up a few things), and stopped at a cafe to have some lunch (delicious New England clam chowder!). Diane was learning how to use Peggy‘s digital camera and we had a good time taking pictures of each other.

Peggy has been quite long-suffering. Diane and I do not have the grace of gazelles and she's been taking care of both of us. She refuses to let me in shops while I'm holding parcels, because she's afraid I'm going to bring some display crashing down (I think she's not afraid of the crash, but of the embarrassment of admitting to knowing me). Diane left her purse on a bench (containing a significant sum of money she'd just liberated from the credit union) and Peggy was able to sprint back to get it. Diane also has difficulty getting in and out of parking lots in the correct lane. I know Peggy is going to be very happy to be finished with the responsibility of having to manage both of us.

Then we went to Pike Place Market and walked around looking at the beautiful displays of food

After we'd gone through the food/stalls section of the market, Diane was pooped, so we parked her in a french bakery with some coffee and an almond roll and Peggy and I went looking at other shops (I had to admit to Peggy that a month ago, I would have stayed behind with Diane, so I guess all this exercise and walking jazz is really paying off now). We found some mildly interesting shops, but then we hit pay dirt with a dog shop. This is a shop where all the merchandise pertains to breed-specific dogs. Thank god German short hair pointers are apparently not a very popular breed otherwise I don't know how I would have been able to drag Peggy out of the shop. As it was we came away with a huge sack full of GSP-related merchandise.

We hit the freeway at rush hour, but were able to use the expressway, so weren’t too delayed. We stopped back at CompUSA to exchange the printer we got the previous night for a better one. I’m sure they cringed when they saw us come back in the door because our prior dealings had been so horrendously complicated. We discovered that the clerk who'd waited on us had been reprimanded. And, since he wasn't around (while all the other ones we dealt with were), we are wondering if he got the sack over this deal.

We went to a lovely restaurant here in Edmonds. I'd been there before with the CompuServe group and remember having some of the best crab cakes ever. This time around they were as good. And then we came home to check the pictures we had taken thru the day and plan our itinerary for the next couple of days (Vancouver tomorrow, probably overnight, so I won’t have a computer until we get back here), and then home on Monday afternoon.

(change of plans from original writing--it's pouring rain and we've decided to stay home instead of going to Vancouver. We'll work today on getting Diane's system completely set up and making sure she knows how to use it)

It seems like it’s almost over and we just got here!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Back to Basics

The personal trainer is back.

So today it was back to exercise again, though I will admit that a lovely walk in the autumn trees can’t really be "exercise," now, can it? We stopped and sat on a bench overlooking a marsh where there was a riotous cacophony of birds singing their hearts out. You couldn’t see any of them, because they were all hidden in the bullrushes, but occasionally a red-winged blackbird would fly up and across to the other side--perhaps going to visit another bird family for tea.

We stopped by the freeway where many of the trees are starting to change color, and we took photos. Peggy did some fancy stuff and tried taking pictures through the lens of her sunglasses. The results were pretty striking.

Mine were a bit more down to earth, though I do like this one of Peggy.

We rushed home so we could get to the theatre in time to see Dr. T and the Women, the new Robert Altman film which Peggy wanted to see. It has an amazing cast--Richard Gere, Helen Hunt, Shelly Long, Laura Dern, Farah Fawcett, Janine Turner, and some others. The opening scene had me giggling, with all the women in the waiting room of the gynecologist’s office. Brought back a lot of memories of my old job.

Altman started to lose me in the first scene, with Gere doing a pelvic exam on an older women, obviously very nervous, and without a nurse in the room. In fact, the nurse excused herself for barging in unexpectedly.

Basically, though reviews for the film have apparently been good, I was falling asleep and Peggy was grumbling "this is rubbish" throughout most of the first hour until we finally decided that it was a waste of our time and we left. I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a film. But unless you’re a big Altman fan, I’d give this one a wide berth.

Instead we did mundane things--we to the grocery store, bought gas, came home to do laundry and (for Peggy) ironing. She set up the ironing board out on the patio, so she could iron al fresco.

Tomorrow we fly off early in the morning for Seattle and we’re trying to get ready. For me "getting ready" means writing the second of two feature articles I have to turn into the newspaper before I leave (the first one was easy--it was on Steve and I could write it in my sleep), and finish at least one more transcription. For right now I’m just trying to stay awake long enough to stick clothes in the dryer so I have something dry to take with me to Seattle.

Tuesday, October 17, 2000

To Everything There is a Season

As I drive along the freeway, I notice that the leaves are changing from the dull brown-green of the dying days of summer into the brilliant yellow, orange and red of autumn. It’s the last brilliant display before they fall and the trees stand bare and empty, hanging on through winter until the buds begin to blossom with the promise of new life for the tree.

I love autumn and I love spring. It’s more than the weather (though certainly weather plays a big part in it), but I love the signs of promise that I see in the trees. It’s an affirmation that life can have brilliant moments, so wonderful you want to shout to the skies that the world is a beautiful place. For the trees of autumn, even though the display of color is short-lived, and the cold of winter is coming, the leaves seem unaware and content to glow as brilliantly as they can before they must fall from the tree. And in the spring, the buds which begin to appear give promise that the tree will live again and that some day there will come another fabulous display of color.

Davis has some of the most beautiful deciduous trees around. The color that surrounds us in the middle of autumn rivals some of the sights that we saw on the east coast last fall. My favorite tree is the Chinese pistachio tree, which line one of the main streets here, and is found everywhere around town. Its autumn color can be flaming red, or flaming orange, or a glowing gold, or a combination of all three.

Many years ago we decided to plant a tree in our back yard and I said it had to be a Chinese pistachio. I couldn’t wait until it became mature enough to present us with a yearly display of color. But it never has. We probably have the only Chinese pistachio tree in Davis that goes from green to brown without passing through any spectacular display at all.

But after David died, friends of ours decided they wanted to have a tree planted in his name. We had it planted outside the theatre, which seemed appropriate. They asked what kind of tree I wanted to have planted and of course I asked for a Chinese pistachio tree. It’s in its second year now and is already showing a hint of color. I hope that as it matures it will present us with many years of gorgeous color display. It seems so fitting for David’s memory.

Peggy is back. I dropped Steve at the airport at the crack of dawn yesterday and then drove to Alameda to gather up all of her stuff (she only did "a little shopping" she says. Yeah. Right.) It’s nice to have her "home" briefly. I’ve missed her laughter and her camaraderie and I haven’t been out walking since she left--well, except for following Steve around the Stanford campus, of course.

I also haven’t had someone to go taking pictures with. We watched the passing parade of colorful trees as we drove into town yesterday afternoon and decided that we need to get our cameras and go out and take pictures. It will be a good excuse for a walk, and a wonderful chance to capture some of that fleeting beauty to remember on days when the leaves are bare and the weather turns cold.

Tuesday, October 10, 2000

October 10 - 16

Peggy spent this time in Alameda
visiting with Olivia


Bev sent this time squiring Steve
around to various events
in the Bay Area

Monday, October 9, 2000

Advice for Tourists

For those who are considering a visit to everybody’s favorite city, San Francisco, I have a few pieces of advice for you from a third-generation native (me). If you want a leisurely, uncrowded, unhurried pace for your visit I advise never visiting the city when:

1. It’s a pleasant, warm Sunday;
2. It’s a major holiday that comes with a big celebration;
3. The fleet is in;
4. The Blue Angels are putting on a show; or
5. One of the major sports teams is playing in town

So today it was a beautiful warm Sunday afternoon, the fleet was in, there was a Columbus Day parade through North Beach, the Blue Angels were performing and the 49ers were in town.

And we. were. there.

We wouldn’t have been there at all, but it was Steve’s fault. He was participating in the services for Dolores St. Baptist Church and I dragged Peggy to the services with me. This fallen-away Catholic and the Aussie who hasn’t set foot in a church for 25 years. What were we doing there?

We got hung up in football traffic on the bridge, had a slight "let’s double check the map" moment, and then, of course, couldn’t find parking right away (but Gilbert finally came through with a spot just half a block away--he was Jewish; he didn’t know from Baptist services). So we were 15 minutes late. I felt somewhat uncomfortable sneaking in while the service was going on and couldn’t immediate find two seats together, but finally Peggy spied a couple in the second row, and so we grabbed ‘em.

There was a session for the little kids and then a dramatic reading from the book of Job, and then a nice sermon on people’s search for God and how he’s not always to be found within the confines of organized religion. This segued into Steve’s singing "Where Is God?" and talking about his own story, singing a couple of other songs. I asked him beforehand if he wanted me to take pictures. He said he would like a couple of shots just to get the ambience and so he could use them in his journal. Unfortunately when Peggy and I chose our seats, we didn’t realize that the bench of the piano would be behind a potted ficus tree. So this is my picture to show the ambience. I call it "Where is Steve?"

After church services, we took Steve and his friend Ken back to Ken’s apartment, and the four of us had a bit of lunch, after which Peggy and I set off on our own. I was giving her the rest of the tour we didn’t take a couple of weeks ago. The important parts--like where I went to grammar school, the flat where I grew up, and, of course, Gilbert’s chiropractor’s office. (They don’t include these on the regular tours, you know. Only for special people.)

So there we were, lined up three blocks long on Lombard St., so we could drive down the twisty hill, Peggy standing up with her head out the sunroof so she can take photos and suddenly she makes comment that there must be an airport nearby. I realize that I don’t remember hearing such noisy planes there before (it’s my old neighborhood). And we look and there is a stunt plane doing loop-de-loops. Then, as we went over the top of Lombard St., I looked down into North Beach and there is a parade going on, with floats and balloons and bands.

As we drove down in the direction of the parade, I saw signs for "fleet week parking." I had hit San Francisco on a Red Letter Day. We were trapped by a bazillion cars looking for parking, barricades keeping us away from the parade, horse vans and even a HORSE in the middle of the street, a mass of people all waiting for the Blue Angels to begin their show, and I didn’t even know at this point that on the other side of town the 49ers were playing.

Instead of doing the sensible thing and just getting the hell out of there, we found a parking lot which let us park for a mere $20 ("flat rate; pay in advance" --someone was making a mint on that deal, let me tell you!) and we went over to the ships, getting there just before the Blue Angels started their show. I’d never been to an air show before and lemme tell you, it was something pretty spectacular. It went on for about 30 minutes and we got some nice photos.

When the show was over, we walked around looking at what was going on, elbowing our way through the crowd. I can believe that I suggested we walk a block or so on ine direction and then turn around and head back in the other direction. I must be getting into this walking jazz. We ended up on Pier 39, where Peggy did some shopping ($100 for SOCKS??? --she had to do it. If she bought 12 pairs, she got a "free" traveling bag...)

We also looked at the seals lounging on the platforms next to Pier 39.

Finally we’d had enough, walked back to the car, and got in the traffic jam to get out of town. It took about an hour to get onto the bridge. The radio was talking about the mass exodus from San Francisco onto all freeways, all bridges were jammed, etc., etc. We didn’t sweat it. Peggy went to sleep and I just sat there waiting for traffic to move.

Eventually we got onto the bridge and traffic opened up a bit, so the rest of the ride went more or less uneventfully, or at least until I started feeling sleepy and Peggy began feeding me jelly bellies to keep me awake.

We spent the evening looking at photos, organizing all the stuff we bought on our trip to So. California, and sitting on the couch reminiscing about all that had happened over the past few weeks, marveling at what good friends we had become in such a brief time.

Tomorrow we head back to the Bay Area and I trade Peggy for Steve for a week. I’m not sure when the next entry of this journal will be written. I’m spending the next 3 days with Steve and Ken at Stanford (Steve is a visiting speaker there), and won’t be home until Thursday. I’ll have the laptop with me and may or may not post reports on our time at Stanford. If you don’t see a new entry, I’ll write a catch up when I get home.

Sunday, October 8, 2000

A Walk in the Woods

Today we walked in the woods... the cornfields... the pumpkin patch... among sunflowers... and the length of a mall. It was a lovely day.

I had plans to take Peggy to meet my mother and then for the three of us to drive to Guerneville, on the Russian River, for lunch, after which we’d go and look at the Coast Redwood trees (the tallest trees in the world). Despite getting a somewhat late start and encountering more traffic than we’d bargained for, we managed to make it to Guerneville in decent time. We had a nice lunch in town and then couldn’t pass up the inviting "SALE" sign on a shop across the street. Peggy made a killing there, getting some very nice things at end-of-the-season cut rate prices. It’s been very fortunate for her that she is at the end of our summer and will be returning to Australia for the start of theirs.

We then drove out to Armstrong Woods. Most people who come to the San Francisco area and want to look at the redwood trees drive to Muir Woods, which is just across the bay from San Francisco. But Muir Woods becomes a parking lot on weekends and it’s like trying to commune with nature during rush hour. It has a souvenir shop that is packed with tourists and you meet lots and lots of people on the trails. I have always preferred to take people to Armstrong Woods. Same big tall trees, you get a redwood slice so you can see the dates back to 965 AD, when the tree started to grow, but when you walk along the pathways you can go for long distances without encountering another soul. You can really commune with nature, take time to check out the moss growing on the trees, investigate redwood burls, take lots of pictures and really get the feel for the mighty forest. You can hear voices in the distance, but nothing seems intrusive. Your own voice gets lost if you move too far from your companion.

We hiked for about an hour, stopping to take pictures and read the signs on the path. Eventually we had to leave the soft path and return to the pavement and go back to the parking lot. It was really a lovely afternoon.

We decided it was too late to drive out to Bodega Bay and home along the coast road, so we went back to Hwy 101. En route we passed a pumpkin farm with a cornfield maze and a patch of sunflowers. We had to pull off and go investigate.

Finally Peggy was able to take photos of sunflowers and she got some lovely ones.

We went to the pumpkin patch and took more pictures there and Peggy was also able to get her wish of seeing what it was like to walk in a cornfield. We bought a small pumpkin to bring home and cook up for dinner tomorrow night.

And then down into civilization, leaving all this nature behind, we went to the Northpoint Mall in Terra Linda, where Peggy and I both bought new clothes at Lane Bryant (for once I out-spent her), after which we tried out a new Chinese restaurant for dinner.

The evening ended at my mother’s, where Peggy used her sewing machine to fix the hem on some new slacks she’d bought ('cause obviously there is no available sewing machine here!), and, after a cup of coffee, we came on home.

Peggy decided she was very pleased to have met my mother. The two got along very well, as I knew they would.

Friday, October 6, 2000

My Personal Trainer

My body ached. My feet were killing me. Oddly enough I had stopped panting and was almost breathing normally. I was starving and HOME was in sight.

It was my first day of "training" with Peggy as the trainer. I didn’t realize this was her plan. After three days of walking around parks and zoos, watching me huff and puff up the steep hills of the San Diego Zoo (but doing it), she’s decided she’s not going to let me slack off.

It was to be a little "walk the dog" morning. Kimba hadn’t been out in awhile, so we attached her harness and out we went. Peggy was already feeling smug when I stepped on the scale this morning, for the first time in a long time, and discovered that on a week of NOT watching what I ate (including eating junk food) and doing all that walking, I’d lost four pounds! I’m assuming it was four. As I say, the "18 lbs" that has been sitting in the left column has really been a lie. I haven’t weighed myself and I know I’d gained weight before Peggy got here. But I have lost at least four lbs. She’s determined not only to keep it off, but to instill good habits in me that will last beyond her return to Australia in 3 weeks.

So off we went with Kimba, who looked like a sausage with legs as she marched ahead of us. We hadn’t gone too far before Kimba decided this wasn’t as much fun as she anticipated. First she lagged behind, then she limped. Peggy carried her for awhile, but she’s darn heavy for a little dog. We decided to return home. (Good move, Kimba, I thought...I get a reprieve!) Alternately carrying, leading, and dragging the panting Kimba, we returned to the house. But was this the end of our walk? Noooooooooo. Peggy, the taskmaster, wasn’t going to let me off so easily.

I suggested we walk to RoseMarie’s office, forgetting how far it was. Peggy didn’t set any breakneck pace, but managed to keep just two steps ahead of me, whether I walked slowly or whether I walked fast. She was determined I was going to keep up. I have to admit to being right proud of myself when we finally arrived at RoseMarie’s office. I wasn’t even winded.

We sat and chatted for about 15 minutes and then had to make the walk back again. It’s a longer distance than what I used to walk from my old office to home, and we made it in about the same amount of time. I take this as progress.

Exercise has always been "the ‘E’ word" to me. I cannot remember a time in my life when I have been involved with sports of any kind. I did ride a bike as a kid (up and down the hills of San Francisco was no mean feat, lemme tell you!), and for a time I took ice skating lessons, but I was a real klutz (which will come as no surprise to Peggy, I’m sure) and never learned much more than the simple forward movement. There was also a time when I did some roller skating in a rink (I even did secretarial work in a roller rink for a very brief time). I liked swimming, but not appearing in public in a bathing suit. There was never really a sport that I participated in and definitely none that I enjoyed.

In grammar school there was no sport stressed. At recess, I was the one who was usually off in a corner with her nose in a book. I walked a lot, though. It was some 8 city blocks to school, and that included climbing some pretty steep hills. I often went to the public library after school and then walked home carrying the six books I’d read that week. It was exercise, but it wasn’t "EXERCISE." I was uncoordinated when I participated in games with friends and was usually laughed at, so I preferred not to expose myself to ridicule and just bowed out.

In high school, I was extremely active in a lot of activities. In my senior year there is a picture of me on almost every page in the book--from classroom pages to extracurricular pages to theatre pages. The only pages which have no pictures of me are the sports pages. My high school must not have required P.E. for everyone because I can’t really remember taking it. At least not for long.

In college we went on camping trips and I did do a bit of hiking--but it was never for the thrill of hiking; it was more a means to an end--the only way to see the view from atop that hill is to climb to the top of that hill.

UC Berkeley did require that all students take a P.E. course. But I discovered that "social dancing" would meet the requirement and so I learned to samba, rumba, tango and cha cha cha rather than suit up for some sport on a playing field somewhere.

When I went to work, of course, there was no time for exercise and after Walt and I married, I started birthin’ and raisin’ babies, which is exercise enough. There was a very brief period where we tried doing the Royal Air Force exercise program at night. I remember "walking" across the floor of the living room on my butt--then having the downstairs neighbors ask what in the world we did each night that made those weird sounds. That program died a quick death.

So I have grown to senior citizenry without having acquired a love of moving for the sake of moving. My joints now resent any demand made on them. Sitting for longer than 5 minutes causes creaking and pain upon arising. The weight makes the knees protest when climbing stairs. Walking is fine up to a point but sooner or later the ankles cry out "Excuse me? Remember us? I don’t think so!"

I don’t expect that Peggy’s enforced program is going to change my life. But the fact is that it is easier for me to walk today than it was when she first arrived. And I managed to walk for as long as we did today without my lungs burning. I was even able to carry on a conversation, when I was able to catch up with her.

I’m sure this is very frustrating for her, having such a slug to go and do stuff with, but she’s being very patient and just, in her quiet way, very insistent that I am going to get off this lazy butt and get out into the air for a bit.

If it doesn’t kill Kimba and me, I’m sure we’ll both be better for it. We might even continue our morning walks after she leaves. But the jury is still out on that one.

At least all this walking I've been doing in the last 3 weeks is good preparation for following Steve's long stride around Stanford next week. I might even be able to keep up without wondering if I'm going to collapse on the spot, as I did at UC Santa Barbara.

Thursday, October 5, 2000

There's No Place Like Home

We are home. It was a long day, but we finally arrived here at 8 p.m., missing the opportunity to go to the San Francisco Symphony by about 3 hours. Fortunately I had foreseen that this might be a problem and so had arranged for a friend to take my ticket. With that accomplished, I was free to take my time and not push it too much heading home.

I actually slept all right last night, but for some reason, all I had to do was get behind the wheel of the car and Peggy was asking me if I was OK to drive even before we got on the freeway. Maybe it was because I decided not to make a pot of coffee first and so was flying caffeine-less.

But whatever, as we approached Solvang, less than an hour up the road, I decided it might be a kewl place to stop for a coffee break. As it turned out, it was one of Peggy’s most expensive cups of coffee. Solvang is a little Danish village stuck out in the middle of nowhere and a favorite of tourist buses. It offers a little bit of everything--mostly Danish crafts, but also things from Europe, Indian art, and the usual tsatskes that you find in souvenir shops.

We started off with coffee and a bear claw at Solvang’s most popular bakery (or so the sign said ). Both were excellent. While I was finishing up my coffee, Peggy went off "for a minute" to check a store. Half an hour later she was back with some GSP stuff ("German short hair pointer") and a lead on another store which might have more of same. We traipsed down to that store, did indeed find more GSP stuff, bought that, and then made a significant dent in a store that features Indian crafts. Oh yeah--we also checked out the sale at the Izod store and Peggy took advantage of the slashed prices.

We finally got on the road again, though it was by now nearly lunchtime.

Peggy photographing the James Dean Memorial

W set the CD player to cranking and cruised up the road to Lawsuit music (Peggy hadn’t heard the band before; she probably won’t again either), and then lots of John Denver which got us as far as the Harris Ranch, where we bought some steaks to bring home, and picked up some snacks for "lunch." We sat outside by a fountain and ate muffins and drank coffee. Peggy informed me she’d bought more snacks which she would dole out at appropriate intervals if she felt I was getting too sleepy.

Many miles and many potato chips later, we finally turned our wheels from I-5 onto I-80 with the next stop Davis. Kimba was very pleased to see us and Walt was in San Francisco.

The car got unpacked, the telephone messages listened to, and then we sat on the patio reminiscing about the week and marveling that we’ve now been together for almost all waking hours for nearly 3 weeks now and we are still friends, we are still laughing, and nobody has had any short temper at all. Given that we are now at the halfway point of this trip, we figure this is a pretty positive thing.

Finally Peggy went off to bed and I turned on the computer and picked up my 70 e-mail messages and started to ease back into "normal." I promised the psychologist that I’d fax him a report tonight so he’d have it first thing in the morning--and around midnight when I went to do that, discovered I hadn’t typed it yet.
So I’m back to normal with a bang and though I intended to be in bed and sleeping soundly by now, it looks like I’ll be transcribing again for the next hour.

Wednesday, October 4, 2000

Keep the Wagons Moving

We took no pictures yesterday. This is pretty much a monumental thing since we seem to have been averaging about 100 a day each for the past week or so. But it was a travel day and we saw no lions or tigers or bears (oh my!) and the order of the day was just to get started on the road home.

I hoped to be on the road by 9:30. We were on the road by 9:28, which is in itself something of a miracle. I thought it was going to be a 2 hour drive to LA, but it was more like 3 by the time we arrived at Steve's. We didn't get lost and we only stopped once, for gas, so we're starting to feel like we know what we're doing. On top of that, as we drove through Huntington Beach we felt right at home. We even got off on the Magnolia off-ramp, when it was time for our gas stop, since we spent so much time wandering around on that street on our drive down and we more or less knew we we'd find there.

As we drove through LA, the offramps now seemed like old friends -- Mulholldand Drive, Sunset Blvd.... We could reminisce about being Lost in Beverly Hills just a few days before.

We got to Steve's shortly before 12:30. Today is his birthday and I'd told him we'd take him to lunch to celebrate. We drove to an eclectic cafe in NoHo (North Hollywood). I know it was an eclectic cafe because it was called The Eclectic Cafe. Steve and I ordered baked chicken and Peggy ordered scallops and when the waitress asked if she wanted them blackened, she said yes, thinking they would broil them or something. She didn't realize that "blackened" meant they would come Cajun style, and extremely spicy, so after she took the first bite and smoke poured out her ears, I decided to switch plates with her. I'd never had an order of scallops before (though knew I liked them because I'd eaten them before). They were quite tasty and Peggy was much happier with the roasted chicken.

After lunch we walked over to the El Portal theatre, which Steve's partner Jimmy runs, stopping en route at the office of Ronda Espy, in whose recording studio Steve had cut a demo CD a week or so ago. But when we got to the El Portal, Jimmy was out galavanting, so we didn't get the chance to see him, or to give Peggy the grand tour of the theatre complex, though Steve did talk about the city's planned renovation of the NoHo area and how it was going to become a big entertainment complex, with the El Portal at its center. It all sounds very exciting. (Maybe I'll come down and review some theatre for The Enterprise now that I'm a big theatre critic.)

We went back to Steve & Jimmy's for a bathroom break before getting back on the road again. Steve played his latest song for us (even Peggy, who is not a fan of Steve's music, liked it) and explained his concept for his next show, which sounds very kewl indeed.

And then for the last leg of the trip, the drive to Santa Barbara, which was another short jaunt. We took a brief turn around downtown Santa Barbara just so Peggy could get a feel for what the town was like, and then we came here to Walt's sister's house to wait for her to get home from work. Oddly enough even after so much time in the car together in the past week, it was very nice to have the chance to just sit, without the motor running, and to talk, watching the crows flying overhead through the open sun roof. We reminisced about our activities thus far, and talked about the time Peggy has left of her vacation here. I enjoyed it very much, and I realized what close friends we have become in a short period of time and how much I will miss her when she returns to Australia.

Alice Nan returned from work, followed just a few minutes later by Tom so after introductions, we all piled in Alice Nan's car and drove out to see the new condo she's just purchased while there was still some daylight left. It backs up on property owned by the University of California Santa Barbara, an area called "the bluffs" and, I think she said "the marsh" and will be just great, because she has a vast expanse of land between her back fence and the cliff overlooking the ocean, and no threat of development in the foreseeable future. She said when she was looking at the house she was already wondering where I'd plug in my computer when I came to visit. With luck, it will be at a window overlooking the ocean. I might plan an extended stay....

Dinner was at Harry's, the hauf brau for the "in" crowd of Santa Barbara. Nothing fancy...just good plain cooking. Peggy's style. And after dinner we went up to show Peggy Tom & Laurel's new apartment and to allow her to get her dog fix by playing with the two big dogs, Sierra and Akila.

Then back here to visit for a bit until we were all having drooping eyelids. Tom went home, Alice Nan and Peggy went to bed and I sat here reading the 50 e-mails that had accumulated during the day. I was going to write a journal entry, but I was too tired and had nothing to say. When I awoke at 5 a.m., I was no longer too tired, but still really had nothing exciting to say, and now I've said it.

It's not a great story. It's just what happened.

Today we'll head out as early as we can and hope to get home in time for Walt and me to get into the car (groan) and drive to San Francisco for the symphony. It's Blomstedt conducting! How can I miss it? I just hope I snore in time to the music.