Every year we try to get together with our old pals from our days with Santa Cruz County. Every year our group of "insiders" gets smaller, although this year it was because of the flu rather than something more serious.
We sit around hashing through those days when one of us taught Italian on his breaks at UCSC, One of us surfed. We played darts and softball and went to breakfast and got up at 2 AM to meet on the beach to watch planet configurations. We were a lively irreverent bunch, even if it's hard to tell that in this picture.
We're mostly grandparents now with Medicare cards, our little group, sort of like a handful of World War II vets or SF Earthquake survivors. We're lucky to have these histories, these 30 year friendships.
A year ago Irene and I joined a local "big box" store. We swore we'd never take part in this type of glutony where you wheel your "stuff" out on huge flatbed carts and end up with enough mayo to feed the US Army. But we caved. I think we bought something "big" although at this point I can't remember what.
We were talked into the "executive membership" because it would "in the end save us money". But in the last year we haven't really gone to this place because that's not the way we shop. We went today though, thinking we should take advantage of our "executive privilege" and all. We asked the front desk about our so called savings and the guy suggested we "downgrade". I've never in my life been told by anyone to downgrade anything.
Today we bought a heavy box of logs and we decided to take advantage of our gray hair since executive privilege wasn't working for us and we asked for help out. To get this help we had to sign a waiver, right there at the door in case anything happened to the helper or the merchandise or our truck while we were being helped. What IS this world coming to anyway?
I once wrote a short story called "The Trip Planner", about a woman who actually never went anywhere but spent her days planning trips down to the very smallest detail. In my days away from the blog I wish I could say I'd been sailing down this road, getting lost in the distance and the rocks and the fresh air. Hope though sometimes comes in 4-wheel drive. I may be ready to go, soon.
Yesterday I was talking to a friend who said she couldn't take time off for the holidays because she "was saving her time". It all came rushing back to me, that work-a-day world where I counted vacation hours, hoarded holiday hours for a real vacation sometime. People talk about living on borrowed time. This is what it must mean, this borrowing of time. I was a renter from bosses who held the mortgage.It occurred to me, my mortgage is paid, I finally own this time I'm spending. I'm not borrowing anymore and I can spend freely. Even if that means doing nothing more than sitting on a rock all day and watching the sun go down.
Yesterday Irene and I went to lunch at Vallarta's Taqueria on 41st near Portola. A great little surfer's neighborhood that has only lately begun the inevitable gentrification. We were pretty pleased with ourselves for our thrifty $3.95 lunches. Afterward though we walked over to Modern Life and fell in love with this shuttered mirror. It's an old window frame from the desert in Northern India and it was one of those must have items, you know? Here our Christmas tree is reflected in one half of the mirror. So much for budgets. Maybe in 2008?
When I was a kid I went to a Unitarian Fellowship in Southern California. This particular fellowship didn't quite "buy" the "virgin theory" so we omitted the word from Christmas carols and of course from our annual holiday pageant. Here I am as "Mary" surrounded by my friends in their bathrobes.
Yesterday we baked 23 dozen cookies. It took us all day and we had to borrow our neighbor, Lisa's mixer and the Davis family wagon but we finished! Today we rolled through our neighborhood and delivered cookies to everybody. What an event! We don't know how our working friends do it and it took two of us! Is this the start of a tradition? Probably not but it felt good this year.
Yesterday, driving into town I passed a motel along the river, just on the edge of Beach Flats near the Boardwalk. The sign out front said, "Open During Name Change." That just struck me as being needlessly helpful...absurdly fundamental...(is it just me?)
I've been playing my guitar for 45 years. Every time I pick it up I have to look again in my book for the chord, I have to remind myself as if it's my first time out. There is a mysterious disconnect between my spirit and my brain. None of that stops me though. Just ask anyone within earshot.
A few years ago I found myself on a city bus during the holidays. We were sludging along, bundled up, grim faced when suddenly a man near the back of the bus began singing "Joy to the World". The bus driver pulled to the side of the street and shouted, "Stop it!" We all looked at the man, then at the driver who had resumed our dreary little journey. The man in back started singing "Jingle Bells" and the driver's face turned crimson as he pulled over again. "No singing on the bus!" he shouted. Then one by one every single passenger began to sing. There were 26 of us singing on key and off and the driver, suddenly a vey little man, shoved it in gear and drove silently down the street.
I seem to be lacking in Blog Stamina. I've noticed it lately getting up early, looking at my dark compter screen and caving to my malaise. Maybe it's a generational thing. Maybe daily witty, profound, energetic blogging is best left to the "youngsters". Maybe I should be shopping for plaid pants and blue hair dye, concentrating on finding old relatives on Ancestors.com. Whatever it is old people do...I'm not sure. Maybe there is a guide book somewhere.
My father was a newspaper man. He wrote for various papers all over California, ending up in Santa Barbara County writing a chess column for the Lompoc Press. In between these jobs he worked on the Great American Novel.
I wanted to be just like him so when I started college I majored in journalism. It turns out though I was allergic to news print and besides that, when I found out we, as young journalists had to focus on the what, why, when and where I believed in my young hippie mind, that these rules cramped my style.
So instead of writing for a newspaper I went to work for one county and another, "saving" my creativity for the Great American Novel.
Hmm, I think my father should have given me a stern talking to.
When my two sons were very young they had an early electronic toy which held tiny slides of The Green Hornet. It was like a projector that you'd point, press a button and watch the slides on a wall.
My kid's father and I waited every night for them to go to sleep. We'd arm ourselves with snacks and stuff, settle in and shine the projector against the side of our claw footed bathtub and watch the escapades in dazzling full color.
I don't know if it was the snacks or the stuff but The Hornet could keep us entertained for hours.
A few years ago I worked as a Medi-Cal supervisor for a local county. I got a phone call one day from a 98 year old woman who had just had to give up her home. She now split her days going back and forth with her 2 daughters. She said, "I feel like a bird between 2 houses with no home of my own".