3 June 2021: Two days, two friends, one person

I and my friend and former colleague from Merritt Hospital days did not, in fact, discuss “healthcare.” (The reference for this statement is found in the last paragraph of the previous journal entry).

Tim, I learned through our rapid and extensive conversation, was a history major for his undergraduate degree. I avoided history until after I retired, then dived deeply into selected parts of world history.

Much of the discussion touched on world conflicts and we seemed to agree that we are in ‘world war three’ now, one that is not localized but distributed in many places around the world, and not confined solely to armed warfare. On another front, we do agree that Mother Nature will win humanity’s assault upon the earth. I referred Tim to a relevant book I am carrying with me, containing many marginal notes, exclamations and under-linings: Straw Dogs, by John Gray.

I always have a stimulating conversation with Tim McMurdo. I asserted to him we need to meet once per year to charge my batteries.

That was yesterday. Today I visited a friend I first encountered in July 1995, Bernal Hill, part of Santa Teresa County Park in San Jose (Santa Clara County).

I haven’t performed any exercise for too long, certainly since early May this year when I left Sweden for this long visit to the USA. Before that, long walks with Eva and some mild gardening chores were the extent of my physical exertions. The Gym I visited regularly, until Covid appeared, I haven’t visited since then.

So, it was with mild trepidation that I addressed the three short but steep inclines of the 1.6-mile path to the summit, going slowly with two walking sticks I borrowed from Ken.

The first incline is the steepest (and harder to descend than to ascend):

Looking up from the trail head—Looking back—Looking down. Really steep.

After the first grade, the path winds around a stand of trees and bushes, giving a brief respite from the hot sun. I saw evidence that California scrub-jays still live here.

The flowers were not profuse, but were everywhere: poppies, a purple flower I can’t identify, wild mustard, white morning glories, dandelion and false dandelion, and others.

The larger picture:

After negotiating the three steep parts, with the noise of the city finally out of range of hearing, my objective came into view, the Blue Oaks circling the summit:

I reckon my pace from the beginning was just about one stride per second, but around only 18” per step. As I continued the last, brief uphill, under the shade of the oaks, even this pace seemed a bit rapid, but I made it, and it was all downhill afterward.

In the distance is Coyote peak which I have visited uncountable times. It was my morning exercise several times per week before going to work. I will visit the peak at least once before I move on to the next leg of my journey.

These hills nourished me at a time when I needed such nourishment. I wrote about it:

Days in the hills

I will be absent here for a few days while I travel and visit in the Great Central Valley, and in Berkeley.

Foe the next journal entry: GO HERE

Stay tuned.

2 June 2021, San Jose, CA: Octogenarians Rock!

I don’t know exactly how old Bill and Gary Sanders are, they whom I visited two days ago and reported in the previous Journal entry, but if one or both is/are not yet 80 they fit the category, having five great-grandchildren. I also then reported on my visit with Al and Lydia Montaño. Lydia is my age, and Al is a few years older.

Yesterday I visited Barbara and Chuck Kingsley in Palo Alto. Chuck is an ‘octo’, for sure, being 87, and Barbara is a small number of years younger, I believe. Anyway, there we were, chatting away about all the things octos chat about: family, the state of the world, health, and with Chuck, in particular, MUSIC!

Yes, Chuck was my ‘music buddy’, starting ‘way back in 1958. (Fred Pape was my first music buddy, starting in high school, 1952).

I have reported elsewhere that wherever my family lived my father had a portrait of L. van Beethoven affixed to a prominent wall. In Chuck’s (and, therefore, also Barbara’s) house the portrait is of Dmitri Shostakovich. After a few hours of tea and chat, Chuck and I left the house to get a takeout lunch, and thence to a park. We sat under two marvellous old trees in Mitchell Park, Palo Alto, eating classic bagels with cream cheese, etc., from Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels. (Barbara stayed home knowing we needed to talk about music, well beyond her level of our obsessive interest).

Composers remembered and discussed, along with their interpreters, were Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Bach, Beethoven, Alan Hovhaness (a greatly under-appreciated American composer), etc.

It was good.

By dinner time I was back in my temporary home in San Jose, having ordered a takeout Vietnamese dinner, sitting in the backyard while eating Phở Gà and fresh spring rolls, surrounded by the succulents and other plants nurtured by granddaughter Sonya:

(A small portion of Sonya’s garden)

In a few hours I will be eating lunch with a friend and former colleague from what was once the largest private hospital in Oakland, CA., in the mid-1980s. No doubt we will talk about hospitals, “healthcare” (which is really “sick care”, a much better and more accurate appellation), old mutual friends (at least one of which is following this journal—yes, you, Peter), and whatever else may flow through our minds while sitting outside ‘Par Three Restaurant’, Poplar Creek Golf Course, San Mateo, CA, a public course.

Stay tuned.

Next Journal Entry.