Work and Travel and Family

I follow weather patterns much more now that we live the Rural Life, close to the mountains where weather has a real effect on day-to-day activities. It’s something I never optioned much as a resident BayAryan flatlander with my nose embedded in my own singularity and just a small circle of sky overhead. But now there was an impending “atmospheric river” about to hit in just days, the so-called “Pineapple Express” from Hawaii was aimed right at us, and with that there was an urgency and a brief dry window of work to-do before another deluge.
Between the events taking place at the Ancestral Homestead there were some things falling between the cracks. Glaziers had come and gone, refreshing the bathroom. The old roof was coming off and a new one going on – but in a hurry because rain was coming.
Furniture is weird and can be difficult, being so specific to “taste” and style. Some furniture had found a new home, but not all. We were trying to find homes for our parents’ stuff, but some of it was teetering on the precipice. Dad’s rather large sideboard had found a home in a modern neighbor’s house across the street, but the table and chairs were now adrift. We had to rescue the dining table and chairs from the junk-wagon.
So we loaded the truck with extra tarps and shipping blankets and a fat roll of duct-tape and grabbed clothes and a cooler with some food and made ready to travel.
The trip down was marked with a few choke-points where commuter traffic slowed to a crawl. Being two-up we could use the HOV lanes, but there were still spots where the freeway split off and recombined and things just came to a sea of stopped red taillights. Once outside the city and free of the traveling-masses, I was able to spool-up the truck and bomb along through the countryside.
We made it to the woodworker’s shop where the table was before lunch. The legs would be a problem so we removed them, and underneath #4 leg was a penciled notation my dad had left: “New York leading Brooklyn, 2 games to 1 in the Series. 1953.” Wow. We got it into the back of the truck and headed for The House and loaded the chairs. My brother was there on another mission of mercy to grab a bookcase, so we visited. Done and done we went to the hotel, and with a bit of help had the table-top wrapped in a big blue tarp and duct-taped over to keep it dry. We dragged it inside out of the dark clouds and stacked the chairs too. It rained that night and all the next day, while we stayed dry and had lunch with some old friends who we might never see again…
Yesterday we awoke early and the rain had stopped, so we got the wet truck loaded with tarps and layers of shipping blankets, and hit the road again. Up to speed outside the sprawl I managed to avoid a ticket while making quite good time. Getting home safely with our cargo dry and intact, we deposited the old Dinner Table at the Low Granite Outcropping. Mid-Century Modern goes together.

Adiós Catalonia

It’s been thirty-eight years since I rambled around Ramblas, twice on vacation from Vienna. It’s pretty much the main street of downtown Barcelona, a wide thoroughfare mainly for walking and eating and being seen. A central promenade flanked by two narrow, one-way streets on either side for vehicles like delivery trucks and such, the left one going down the street towards the Christopher Columbus statue, and the right one going up to Plaza Catalunia. All along are cafes and shops of every kind, and on the promenade part are occasional carts selling books, flowers, birds and tourist miscellanea.
This is where I attended a small and short riot one night about 9:00PM – police in vans against marchers armed with Molotov cocktails and Socialist Workers Brigade banners. The marchers came chanting down one of the narrow side-streets and flooded onto the promenade, spreading their banners and making the usual Socialist noise – you could tell by the cadence who they were, but the banners helped. Local Spaniards seeing this scattered and ran down the streets like a flock of birds, ladies pushing baby carriages, men in suits running. The Police showed up to contain the demonstration, driving their trucks straight up onto the walking area. One group furled its banner and went up into a building, to emerge on the roof-deck waving the banner and throwing Molotov cocktails down at the police vans. Four or five flaming missiles in all. I ducked into a shop doorway to observe, and was joined by an excited Swiss guy who exclaimed he had been shot (at) by the Police. He wanted me to check his eye where a fragment of a rubber bullet had ricocheted. He had a minor red mark on his cheek and was basically OK, but insisted, “They can’t do this to me, I’m Swiss!” After the excitement had died down and the people had re-emerged, we went into a bar for a shot of cognac and espresso – an early Spanish precursor to Red Bull and Vodka. It was an exciting night.
And I’ll probably never return.

Sun! (and travel)

The bi-polar weather around here is amazing, with a big difference between the Western Slope and the Bay – but the days are getting longer by the minute, and daffodils are in bloom everywhere up here, including on The Embankment at the Ranch.
Drove down Tuesday and spent part of Wednesday with Dad until he got tired of me being there, literally. We spent the evening wading into the piles of paperwork on the kitchen table, figuring out the different accounts and how the money flowed, and sending email notices to far-flung friends. I grilled a steak on my grill-pan that I had brought with me, and it turned out very nice. We talked as we went through the papers, and we choked-up only a few times.
He went to bed early while I stayed up till about 11:00PM when I found a missing link to one past-due billing notice (Mom was correct and they have to fix it), and the soon-due Property Tax bill.
In the morning I got up at 6:00 and went down-stairs to dig-out the coffee-maker and brew a small pot of coffee – and I kept at the paperwork: medical stuff into one stack, billing statements and receipts into another, and Tax documents into a separate basket – and to-shred stuff into a large bin. Dad got up around 7:00 and said it was the first time he had been able to sleep-in that late in years.
We went into the living room and more cleanup began, mostly of old India stuff, but including a discussion about the old derelict 90’s-era TV in the corner which he wanted removed, and identified a few more things to haul-out: an old broken printer and a non-functional garage-sale “shredder” of the old “strip-style” that Mom had acquired. We got the property tax bill written-out and just needed two things – stamps and a working shredder. So we went to Costco.
He used the cart as a walker helping to keep upright in the bright outdoor sunshine, moving from the truck to the brightly lit and bustling interior, but the input of sensations and the effort was a bit much and he got tired. We paused and sat on a metal bench by the Pharmacy. He noted how the powder-coated metal bench would leave grill-marks on your ass after a short sit-down and was NOT the kind of memorial bench we might get for Mom… With a stamp on the bill we went to a late lunch at the Fishmarket, we both got the light-eater’s plate, skewer of rockfish with sliced tomatoes. He mentioned that I might run into traffic traveling home, and I said, “So you had enough of me?” I think I just wore him out, so we took our leftovers and went home.
I loaded the truck with the heavy old 30″ tube-TV and the other stuff, threw a tarp over it, said our good-byes and drove off, wading into the awful-awful terrible BayAryan afternoon rush-hour traffic. At 3:45 It was a parking lot all the way through Milpitas, and my gas gauge showed 1/4 tank as I rolled along at 10mph for mile after mile. Got to Pleasanton and filled-up and hit the road again where things were marginally better, 30mph-ish with bursts up to 50mph. This is awful “togetherness” is shit I do not miss. Eventually things cleared up even more in the EastBay, and getting over the bridge at Benicia the traffic was flowing pretty good at 75mph and better all the way past Dixon, through Davis where the cops were out ticketing (two cars), across the flooded Yolo Bypass, through the dismal bustle of Sacramento, and up into the hills to home at 7:45.