After the long trip through three states and back, it’s time to stay put, recover, and visit with family.
I’ll resume my journey two days from now, with overnight stays in Henderson, Nevada and Oakview, California, near Ojai, which town is my objective. My former wife Mary and lived there with our three children, and we all still love the place. See here about it.
I also had a job there, as chief executive of the community hospital, thirty years ago. I am hopeful I will be able to visit the current executive to see what we may have to say to each other. I am among the small percentage of people who like hospitals; I especially like the people who work in them.
Then I’ll move on to visit my son Alex in Santa Barbara.
While Andrea has been working at her job, I’ve been doing a few chores for her. Everything requires car travel here, unless one lives next to one of the many large strip malls and shopping centers. This gives her more time at home, and more time for us to be together. One of the delightful things about this visit is to sit with her on her little patio in the morning, to chat or just be.
This picture was taken at mid-afternoon, so the morning birds are avoiding the high sun. They are all over the place in the early morning, offering us a pleasant racket as background.
I didn’t get all of skooter, the cat, in the lower left. He doesn’t bother the birds, but they may bother him.
One early chore was to get some things at the local pharmacy.
Returning home the short distance, I saw some youngsters waving CAR WASH signs for the church near Andrea’s home. I was not in a hurry, it was not yet hot, and the young people were engaging, so I laid out a mere $5 for a splendid car wash. I brushed off the feeling that I was supporting slave labor; there were so many people attending my car, in fits and starts, I felt that there were more person-hours than $5 should buy. But of course, they were volunteering for their church. I felt good about it.
Another chore today entailed a visit to a large, upscale shopping center in a nearby city. I arrived around noon, so I thought I’d take lunch with myself there. There were many places to eat, around the central area containing the boutiques and department stores. I chose one because the menu offered sushi, even though it offered mainly beef steaks and the like, as well. And, it was close by where I had to perform the chore.
It has been said before in rants, ironic jokes, and in despair: there is no quiet establishment which serves the general public, especially if it serves food and drink.
Three masked young women greeted me at the entrance counter of a fancy-looking (but ersatz, by my taste) restaurant/bar. One of the women greeted me rapidly in a high-pitched, girlish voice, through her COVID mask.
“I’m old, I don’t hear well, please slow down and speak more distinctly.”
I guess she tried, but I have found that the less experienced service worker is so programmed that an unusual request is not computable. I still couldn’t get what she said to me.
The tallest of the girls lowered her mask and said in a deeper voice and less rapidly, “bar or dining area?” I got it and explained to the three that high-pitched voices usually defeat me, and I could better understand the lower-pitched voice of the other girl/woman. The latter smiled nicely, and someone led me to a table after I thanked them all for their patience with me.
At the table: audible content from the sports bar 50 feet away; thumpity-thump music overhead; voices of other diners, mostly high-pitched and female, bouncing off the hard surfaces everywhere; the occasional outcry from an infant.
The female waiter listened better and did respond accordingly as we tried to understand each other. (Notice what I did there? I did not call her a waitress, which I would have done without any self-consciousness ten or twenty years ago).
Once the waiter and I locked onto each other we both repeated my order three times to be sure there was no misunderstanding.
There were a few minor missteps not worth mentioning, because the waiter was pleasant and trying her best. Upon receiving the bill, I was astounded at the price of the meal. The menu was printed on a computer printer, both sides, and had been shrunk to fit. I don’t remember seeing any prices but assumed it would be similar to other places at which I had eaten. No! I am not easily off-put, but I am still growling to myself about it. (I did leave a standard percentage tip).
Now, you must be thinking I’m some kind of curmudgeon, and you are right. Former wife Mary, 40 years ago, gave me a T-shirt to wear which had the legend “Curm” on it. I wore it, occasionally (certainly not at work), until I felt I had done my penance.
I am thinking nostalgically of the old-fashion café I visited in Cortez, Colorado. No piped-in music, quiet conversations, sound-absorbing wooden walls and fixtures, lots of support beams, vertical and horizontal to break up the sound. Order takers who spoke clearly and directly and listened well.
Here’s a little fiction I wrote on this subject two years ago: Curmudgeon