Week 24

 June 11, 2017 – SUNDAY

Photos: oasis, pride & buildings

Almost over:  Before we leave for home via Barstow, we spend the morning touring Flagstaff, Arizona. The town is surprisingly delightful, and like San Francisco on this day there is a ‘pride’ parade. After a picnic lunch, we drive though the desert, past a gas station that looks like an actual oasis – gas, it turns out, is a buck and a half more expensive per gallon – and by countless trucks on our way to our destination one sleep away from our own bed.

Where American cars lack color – they seem all white and black and gray – truck cabs come in more than rainbow colors and all bright-shiny. Car colors are boring, but trucks are now the jewels of the road, at least on this almost “Route 66.”

Truck colors:

  • Red: red-pink; red-orange; crimson; fire-engine red; cherry red; chili pepper red;
  • Yellow: Bright yellow; lemon yellow; mustard yellow; gold;
  • Green: Kelly green; emerald green: yellow green; chartreuse;
  • Orange: bright orange; fruit orange; pale orange; terra cotta; rust;
  • Blue: baby blue; pastel blue; navy blue; royal blue; cerulean blue; and
  • Black, Brown; White and Silver!

In one short period in which I counted truck colors, I saw: 52 Blue; 12 Brown; 50 White; 72 Green; 7 Black; 1 Orange; and, 18 Red truck cabs.

The evening brings a pastel sky and a meal at the “Big Bear” or some such place, a restaurant where bad food is piled high. “I’d like better and less of it! Thank you very much.” And those horrible young voices starting with the waitress that are creeping across America, here, everywhere here. Again, “Get me out of here!”

Sometimes my eyes seem a Google camera, taking in all, the good with ugly. Some shots I would keep, but the minds images fade and then I wish for a Google photo.

June 12, 2017 – MONDAY

Photo: or front door, Hills ????

Arrival: Inhale (oh, sea level air and OXYGEN). Exhale (relax, home sweet home).

June 13, 2017 – TUESDAY

PHOTO: bad food on the road & cat

The Return: Yesterday’s descent: Why is the drive north more beautiful than the drive south? Why the difference (or perceived difference) in beauty? How can direction make a difference? Somehow it does.

Yesterday a long drive from Barstow, California, to Oakland. The drive beautiful through golden hills, hills that were emerald green when we entered the state and made our way on a drizzly day to Oakland on March 1, 1980. Over those hills, electrical power towers, between the hills aqueducts full of water, water from dams, water carried, all at taxpayer expense to farmers, farmers who post signs protesting water rationing. They would have all water to themselves and seem to have cared little for fish, the fish that spawn in streams if there is water and then make their way to the ocean, grow and return, providing livelihood for fisherman. As a result of the drought, fish stock dramatically declined. Fishermen did not fish and lost years of income as a result. Yet farmers thought the water theirs, only theirs, and the fact that fish needed fresh water and, because its lack, fishermen lost their livelihood was of little concern to them. During the worst of the drought, the farmers were uninterested in sharing, thought only of themselves, demanded more water, pumped water out of the aquifer with little heed of tomorrow. Their tattered signs attacking the US Congress lined I-5. But as Thoreau said, “Who hears the fishes when they cry?” Farmers did not. Citizens felt the fish’s’ pain (and the farmers) and cut back on water usage so there would be water for farming and the fish. (We reduced our water usage by 50%.) Yet the lack of water was not, it seemed, blamed on the worse drought in over 5,000 years, but the lack of water was blamed on Congress, the very Congress who had built damns and aqueducts so farmers might farm an arid landscape in the first place. What help farmers got from the government was deserved and water for other purposes they resented. They were owed. Others did not count.

We arrived home in the late afternoon. Our cats seemed delighted at our return. Just as we had altitude legs, we now have sea level heads. Both JM and I found ourselves dizzy. I felt as dizzy as I had after I cracked my skull on the edge of my glass desk. The gash was stapled but dizzy days follow the stapling. Today, again, my body felt top-heavy, my head a giant watermelon. Holding that melon in balance took some doing. Neither JM nor I developed altitude sickness on this trip, but altitude did affect us with loss of appetite, dizziness and an inability to sleep well. After two weeks at high altitude, we had not anticipated that adjusting to sea level would be an issue, but both of us feel top-heavy, unsteady. Too much blood in the brain – or less because more oxygen in the blood? And then there are the spots on my abdomen, spots that are between a blood blister and a freckle. I suspect they are the result of broken capillaries. Did they burst at high altitude? Did capillaries burst in my brain, too? That makes me wonder if there is a higher per capita occurrence of strokes at high altitudes?

June 14, 2017 – WEDNESDAY

Photo: Oskar on sofa back ?????seed jewelry; suitcases bath lint???? Seed pot

Joy in Place: Suitcases emptied (& supply suitcase restocked). Laundry done. Cats in need of attention: laps provided; ears scratched and hands clapped for play. Purrs and meows and cats dashing wildly through the house, up and down stairs, all suggesting cats are welcoming us home.

We slept well last night in the cool Bay air. The cats slept with us, and Charlie’s loud purring reassured us that he remembered. “Be it humble, there is no place like home.” And we missed our cats and they us. Through the day cats attach themselves to our suitcases and packages, requiring us to change the order of emptying. We sorted and resorted, but tomorrow more sorting to be done so the cats still have new places to sleep.

We saw many a pretty pot on our trip, but none more beautiful than our perfectly made seed pot that we bought in Northern California. I’ve spent hours (over the last few years) looking for the pot’s artist and finally found her.   She is a Mexican potter, Maria Acosta, a potter in Mata Ortiz, a small ‘art’ pueblo in Chihuahua, Mexico. Borders cross tribes dividing people and people cross borders sometimes understanding that what is now possessed by others was once theirs.

I hold our pot, exquisitely formed, a tactile pleasure, fascinating graphically and a visual delight. On its bottom, a snake within a fish, the artist’s ‘signature’ animal indicating it uniquely hers. I hold the creation and marvel.

June 15, 2017 – THURSDAY

Photo: Hamilton

BIG DAY: We have almost finished unpacking. Laundry completed, but ironing yet to be done. It is good to be home. Routines started: Cats fed; Coffee for JM; Tea for me; Newspapers in and read; E-Mails viewed & sent; Sweeping & Dusting; Flowers watered, and……. life is filled with untold tasks demanding attention, tasks requiring time, but, done, make the living of life more pleasant. Home we are. Here we know where each turn leads. Here we respond to the movement of the sun, opening and closing windows and shades, following the sun about the house through the day. Other places are grander, but none more intimately known than this, our home.

We were going to attend the Warriors victory parade, but the Oakland Museum, where we planned to watch from its roof gardens, was not to open (apparently others had the same parade-watching idea), and that resulted in us deciding to watch the parade on television. I’m not fond of crowds partially because I am short, and I can see only the back of the heads in front of me and little of the event taking place on the street. It’s claustrophobic. In today’s parade, although short, I might have seen the players riding on top of double-decker busses. Basketball is a ‘tall sport,’ but someone thought of the short among us and placed the players high up for all to see, but alas I did not know how players would travel the streets, so decided to enjoy the parade just a few miles from my door on television. JM and I once celebrated New Year’s on Melvin Belli’s yacht. We went out onto the boat’s deck to look at the fireworks on the Bay in front of San Francisco’s Ferry Building. Melvin watched them from the comfort of his chair, in the boat’s living room on his big television screen. We laughed, thinking it odd that he chose to watch on his TV the fireworks just off his bow. But, like him, here today rather than experiencing the event directly we watched the electronic version instead. There is a disconnect between an event and its media portrayal.

Late in the afternoon we dressed for the theater and rode BART to San Francisco for Hamiliton, the musical. (The tickets were expensive and JM said it would have been cheaper to exhume the body.) I’m not sure why it is so good, but it is. There on stage, talent, deep talent. A more perfectly staged production I have never witnessed. It was amazing!!!!! Even the original production of Les Miserables in London paled by comparison. On the stage eminently talented people. Each represents hundreds, nay thousands, of individuals as talented, people who, for whatever reason, never are recognized for the talents they possess, while others claim fame and fortune with lesser gifts, and they spend lifetimes with unexpressed, unrecognized talents. What a waste. Life, we understand, is not fair.

After the show, fans lined up to see the cast members exit. They have talent, and Hamilton provided an opportunity to showcase it. Enjoy the adulation. You deserve it.

Greg and Joanie, Michael and I saw Hamilton because of John and Mary Jane, who, last December, when procuring tickets over the net failed, put their bodies on the street and took turns waiting in line for an entire day to get our tickets. We appreciate your time, your endurance and thoughtfulness. Tonight, I hope you found what you did for us worth your while. Unfortunately, I likely would not have done the same. Thank you!

June 16, 2017 – FRIDAY

Photo of fireworks

Glories of the night: The Oakland A’s beat the New York Yankees for the 2nd time in two days! Goooooo Aaaaaaaaaa’s! And after the game, fireworks, glorious fireworks. If I were rich, truly rich, I’d host them nightly or maybe weekly. Fireworks are ethereal – they burst into beauty – luminous color and light – there, gone. Is it art? Likely. The sky a museum.

June 17, 2017 – SATURDAY

Photo of Vernors

Baby it’s hot outside: We thought we left the heat when we left the Southwest, but here it is. It has followed us home, and we have no air conditioning. What to do? JM suggested a Boston Cooler made with Vernors ginger ale and vanilla ice cream. The one good thing about the heat is the cooler, its taste and its memories of my Detroit area childhood.