To everyone during this holiday season please have yourself a: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Fabulous Festivus, Sublime Saturnalia, Joyous Juul, Serene Sanghamitta, Zoned-out Ziemassvetki, Lively Yalda, Crazy Kwanzaa, and a Happy New Year.
“Failure is the mark of a life well lived.”
Sanderson, Brandon. Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive (p. 789). Tom Doherty Associates.
(* Note: This is a free day on Pookie’s calendar. You can do whatever you wish but please take care and don’t hurt yourself.)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
Feeling a mix of anger and fear caused by the doctor’s report, I set off to Mendocino and my sister’s house for the weekend and hopefully some solace. Not too much of the drive penetrated my fog of worry, but I remember passing through the lovely Anderson Valley in what was a relatively fast trip. My sister and George were entertaining some friends staying in the Tower House. The woman was a professor of psychology, I think, and her husband a fireman somewhere in the East Bay. They had two delightful little girls that insisted on demonstrating how well they could do splits. I learned that they had once lived in EDH just a few blocks from where I live now.
I did not do much while I was there except walk around the town and eat the great food my sister and George prepared. One afternoon the sunlight was so clear, I walked about the town taking photographs of the houses.
Angela Lansbury’s house in “Murder She Wrote.”
Regrettably, I had to return to the golden hills on Monday because I had scheduled an emergency appointment with the supervising oncologist. The drive back was as uneventful as the drive up.
B. BACK IN THE GOLDEN HILLS:
I had two doctors appointments scheduled for the week. One on Tuesday and another on Friday after which I had planned to return to Mendocino until Christmas. Unfortunately, SWAC had arrived for the holidays and had invited some guests to stay at the house during the holidays. Her strenuous complaints to Dick prompted me to make alternative accommodations to save him from ceaseless tsuris. Although it really does not bother me too much since I have made my life such that I can just float above such discomforts but, I cannot help but wonder what sort of person would want to force someone who may be dying of cancer out of his home in order entertain some guests.
During the two days there, I continued my daily walks but did not swim or exercise at the health club.
On Tuesday, I saw my supervising oncologist for a second opinion. He said that there was only a slight swelling of the lymph nodes and that there was at best a small chance of a reoccurrence of cancer. Nevertheless, he thought I should have a biopsy just to be safe. I agreed.
On another point related to the foregoing paragraph, I was pleased and humbled by the number of people who had read through the last issue of T&T, expressed their concern and offered me their support and good wishes as I dealt with my health problems. Thank you all.
C. A BRIEF SOJOURN IN SACRAMENTO:
So, on Tuesday, I left for Sacramento to hole up with Norbert and Stevie until my Friday doctor’s appointment. My first stop was at Sacramento Campus Commons where Naida and Bill Geyer live. Campus Commons is a marvelously well-done subdivision on the banks of the American River built in the 1960s before developers learned that they could eliminate all amenities and open space in their products and people would still buy into it in their panicked rush to escape the growing presence of minorities in the cities. Bill and Naida moved there to avoid the burden of managing their ranch nestled along the banks of the Cosumnes River in Rancho Murieta.
Naida was recuperating from recent heart surgery but was in good spirits. Bill’s doctors told him there was little more they could do for his spreading gangrene that would prolong his life. Nevertheless, he seemed quite cheerful and accepting of the diagnosis. We talked about old times and joked about our fears for the future. Then we took a walk (Bill in his motorized chair) through the grounds.
Bill Prepares to Set Off on His Motorized Scooter.
Then I drove to Stevie and Norbert’s home to spend a few days before my next medical appointment. The first evening we had a delightful meal at a restaurant in Freeport. There are people one meets in life whose kindness to you goes beyond understanding and whom you could never repay. Stevie and Norbert have been that to me over the years.
The next day, I spent the afternoon strolling around Capitol Park a place I have grown to love.
Then came my Dr.’s appointment. He indicated that although he did not believe there should be a problem, he did feel swelling in one of my lymph nodes and confirmed the prior doctor’s recommendation that a biopsy be performed. Directly after the appointment, I set off to my sister’s home in Mendocino.
D. MORE MENDOCINO DREAMING:
I do not remember much of the drive occupied as I was with a mix of anger and depression that only dissipated when darkness fell as I drove through the redwoods and my malaise was replaced with a fear that I would surely drive off the road in the gloom.
After a not very restful sleep at my sister’s house, I walked through the town of Mendocino and that evening accompanied Maryann and George to the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual Christmas Dinner. It was pleasant and enjoyable.
During the pre-dinner drink fest, a woman came up to me and said, “Hi, my name is MaryJane and I married a clown.” I eventually learned that she grew up in Queens NY in a very large and loud Italian family and when she arrived in her mid-teens promptly ran away — she did not run away to the circus, but she did get a job as a ticket taker at Madison Square Garden where, when the Ringling Bros. Circus came to town, she met her clown and after a brief but I am sure fun filled courtship married him. Alas, “He was a good clown but, a bad husband,” she told me and so they soon divorced. She traveled about the country married and divorced a second time and eventually found herself in Mendocino. “With a name like MaryJane where else would I end up other than where the best marijuana is grown.” Here she married a carpenter who also doubled as a volunteer fireman and who was retiring that evening. “I finally got the turnout outfit I wanted and now I am retiring,” he complained to me. (A turnout outfit is the gear provided by the department that a fireman jumps into when he goes off to fight a fire.)
There were many other stories from that evening I could relate but I think that one is enough.
The next day I walked through the town taking photographs and trolling the shops for Christmas presents. I was told, later, that Christmas sales are down because most of the shops depended upon the expenditures of the dope growers spending their gains from the harvest but now with legalization, they are wisely hoarding their profits.
Mendocino in the Morning
That evening Mary and George had their Christmas Open House. Peter and Barrie and Norbert and Stevie drove up from San Francisco and Sacramento respectively. There was plenty to nibble on including something delicious called a taco-ring and plenty to drink including Champagne and Prosecco. At one point I was talking to a local artist who was aware of my health problems. She told me here previous husband, a well-known sculptor, had the same cancer I have and described in detail the horrible three years of intensive suffering he went through before he died. He had been someone who had always exercised and was a bit of a healthy life fanatic and could not understand why he became so sick. During the period of this turmoil, their 17-year-old son was discovered to have an abnormal heart and had to endure a series of heart surgeries. After her husband died and the son finally had recovered, she began to suffer from PTSD and after two years was hospitalized in an effort to cure it. After she was discharged, she married a local fireman and woodcutter and now lives happily in a large house in the forest with a 10,000-foot studio where she makes large elegantly dressed dolls that are sold at Neiman Marcus for $5000 each.
The next day, Peter, Barrie, and I toured the firehouse while George explained how the various pieces of equipment were used and told us stories about brilliant rescues of people who had fallen off the cliffs and into the ocean and about fighting fires and paramedic techniques.
Peter, Barrie, and George at the Firehouse
Then, we visited with MaryAnn at the West Company economic development center in Fort Bragg. After that, we walked along the magnificent Ft. Bragg shoreline park that extends about 10 along the coast. Later, we had lunch outdoors in a restaurant at Noyo Harbor where a young man was cooking freshly boiled crab that he shared with us.
Barrie and George Enjoying a Crab Lunch
That night, Peter and Barrie, and George and MaryAnn each described and argued over the specifics of their long and amusing courtship. I had little to say since most of my marriages were spur of the moment affairs.
“Lichens. Neglected but remarkable. For one thing, they’re not one organism, but two.”
‘“All lichens are joint ventures that combine a fungus and an alga. The fungus does the rooty, mushroomy stuff. The algae do the photosynthesis part. A neat trick. And they’re tough little critters. A few years back, a Spanish scientist, don’t ask me why, put some lichens on a spaceship and bounced them around in open space for a fortnight. Cosmic rays. Heat and cold. Total vacuum. Not great for the health, you’d imagine, but when they came back to Earth, they were just fine. All tickety-boo and ready to carry on lichening around.”
“There are drawbacks to this way of life, however. Most pertinently, lichens grow slowly. So slowly, indeed, they can be used to date the exposed surfaces of rocks.”
Bingham, Harry. This Thing of Darkness (Fiona Griffiths Crime Thriller Series Book 4) (p. 59). Sheep Street Books.
A. Hannah Arendt on Top:
From “Origins of Totalitarianism.”
“A mixture of gullibility and cynicism have been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses.”
“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true….Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.’
B. Satchel Page, “On the Mound”:
“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”
C Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Because Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court are in the hands of a single party willing to use almost any means to retain power, should Mueller be fired, it would represent the final act in a slow-moving non-military coup to replace a flawed democracy with an oligarchical power structure directed by a consortium of the so-called malefactors of extreme wealth, religious and other fascists, and agents of an enemy power.
Now, this all sounds like just another conspiracy theory but, wouldn’t it be ironic if the conspiracy theory elites (Faux news, A. Jones, etc.), the neo-fascists, fanatical evangelicals, the right-wing moneyed elite, the Republican Party leadership and Vladimir Putin are the real agents of the Illuminati?
D. Today’s Poem:
The Oath of Fëanor
“Be he foe or friend, be he foul or clean
Brood of Morgoth or bright Vala,
Elda or Maia or Aftercomer,
Man yet unborn upon Middle-earth,
Neither law, nor love, nor league of swords,
Dread nor danger, not Doom itself
Shall defend him from Fëanáro, and Fëanáro’s kin,
Whoso hideth or hoardeth, or in hand taketh,
Finding keepeth or afar casteth
A Silmaril. This swear we all…
Death we will deal him ere Day’s ending,
Woe unto world’s end! Our word hear thou,
Eru Allfather! To the everlasting
Darkness doom us if our deed faileth…
On the holy mountain hear in witness
and our vow remember,
Manwë and Varda!” —
C.Some Comments on Previous Post:
1. From Joey:
“Sorry to hear about the discovery by the doctor Joe. I hope your efforts to rid this cancer are successful.
I want to thank you for giving me a little view into your life. Most people are too afraid to be as open as you are and I appreciate your openness to share your joys and your difficulties.
I’m not someone to judge people and have thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts. It has been interesting for me because we look at things in this world differently but I respect your perspective.
Because someone believes in God does not make them weak and shallow looking for an easy way out at looking at the complexities of life and death. To believe strictly in science will give no more securities to the questions we all have.
I am not someone to be so righteous as to say there is only one way to a better place after this life. Of course, I have no idea just as anyone else as to what happens after this life. We can only speculate. But there are things we can listen to that are beyond the typical realities.
Your love for HRM as an example cannot be explained by science. You feel it in your soul. You express it through your actions. Where did that come from? Why? What is the point?
All the effort and good will you have done in your life will be forgotten and unappreciated in a very short time after your departure from this world. You know this to be true based on people in your life and the memories you remember or not remember over time.
So what is our purpose? Why are we here? If we go to sleep to never remember the memories and relationships we have developed in our lifetime makes this life not worth living.
Maybe there is something more after this life. My hope there is. When we look at infinity 70-80 Years is a very short time. What can we do with the knowledge we have gained in this life if it just disappears after our final rest. This to me seems futile and depressing.
What is wrong in believing in something more? Believing in God and an afterlife? I bet you have had many discussions with God during this life. Why?
I will tell you the truth, Joe. I believe in prayer and I believe in God. That is no more crazy than to believe in nothing or science or whatever.
Understandably you are thinking of these things as you get older. What have you lost if you believe in an afterlife and God? If your wrong then you get what you always thought but if you’re wrong it could be amazing.
Joe, you are a good person. You might not think you have always been a good person but when I hear your thoughts I see a good person. You have shown through your actions to be someone with a good heart. Things may not have always worked out the way you thought but that doesn’t take away from the core of who you are.
I appreciate you as a person and I don’t know you well but have read all your blogs and the little glimpse I have been fortunate enough to see through your writings has been inspiring.
Thank you, Joe, for sharing a piece of yourself. I will pray for you and there is nothing you can do about that. Haha.
2. Burma Richard:
Dearest Papa Joe,
I am so disheartened to hear about the reoccurrence of the demon in your lymph nodes.
You mean a lot to me and
I treasure the time we spend together and am greedy for more.
You are a wealth of a lifetimes worth of golden information with the critical eye of the poet and I cannot accept your absence.
We pray for your health and
kick the gods in the nuts
to draw attention that for
those who love you, you mean so very much to us all.
Best prognostication in this coming week and keep us informed.
I apologize for not getting back to you sooner but I have been experiencing a but of fairly insignificant turmoil in my life recently that has caused a lot of going around in circles eating up time. As for my health problems, after consulting with two other doctors, it seems that although reactivation of cancer would be unusual in my case, at least one lymph node is enlarged and just to be safe a biopsy needs to be performed. I am now enjoying myself at my sister’s house in Mendocino waiting for the biopsy appointment to be set-up.
I hope you are well.
Joe my friend, I just read your post re your Lymph nodes. I would be concerned, but far from panicked. Swollen lymph nodes absent other symptoms, such as lack of Energy, unexplained pain etc. are a precursor To a lot of things, including an infection.
Sounds like your doctor is a bit on the Negative vibe side. Before you consider surgery, please get a second opinion. My father had surgery to deal with esophageal cancer and spent his last 18 months needlessly miserable. UCSF has some cutting-edge anti-cancer treatments, including immune therapy activating your T cells to attack the specific cancer cells in your system.
This all assumes you have a recurrence of cancer. Which you may not be experiencing.
As a survivor of sudden death syndrome in 2010, I can tell you that “miracles” created by modern medicine do happen all the time. Keep an open mind and investigate vigorously all options, and utilize the SF UCSF campus that you helped to create.
All my best and concern for you, your friend,
4. Ruth L:
I was all wrapped up in your dreams and savoring your lovely writing until the ending. Damn.
I loved the de Tocqueville quote and recall another one which I’ll have to find again, but it observes that he’d never seen a people so devoted to money as Americans.
Delighted to know that you are a fellow lover of The Powerbroker. My father did the appraisals of the Long Island estates in preparation for opening up the island to the public. I recall that Moses managed to insert something in a bill that the Legislature didn’t understand or misinterpreted so that it gave the state the power to create access to roadways blocked by the super-rich and to create new ones. And Jones Beach was my destination every summer.
Were you brought up around there?
My best wishes to you and to defeating the guy in the red nightshirt (W.C.Fields called him that) once again.
Thank you for your kind note. I am waiting for my doctors to schedule a biopsy. The supervising doctor indicated that he thought a positive result was unlikely and any enlargement was due to other causes. We shall see.
Yes, I also like the de Tocqueville “money” quote. Here’s another one you might enjoy. It is taken from a letter he sent to his mother after attending the rather vigorous ceremony in an American rural church. “Can you imagine, my dear mother,” he wrote home, “what aberrations the human spirit can fall into when it’s abandoned to itself? There was a young American Protestant with us who said as we left, ‘Two more spectacles like this one and I’m turning Catholic.’ ”
I did not live too near Jones Beach, (I lived in Tuckahoe) but spent many an enjoyable day there. I had always hoped that the Coastal Conservancy could do for the environment what Moses did for public works, make environmental preservation and restoration a major thrust of government attention. At least in California, we seem to be doing better, but in DC not so much.
Once again, thank you,
Could be worse. After all, physics (and other disciplines) attempts to answer the questions of epistemology: How do we know what we know? Many don’t really care, of course; God knows, that’s good enough. Defund public education, kick back and enjoy your religious insanity. But the question of Why: agonizing over this one generates angst and cosmology. And then, who considers that Heaven might indeed be boring, and it may be best after all to just join the hamsters on the treadmill of karma down at your favorite watering hole-cum-pleasure dome. The problem ultimately arises from lack of a sense of humor: dreariness in next to godliness, except that after a few hundred thousand recitations of the Diamond Sutra – or whichever — another matters anymore.
Since you quote Melville: As you may know, Barrie is once again working with people here to arrange another nonstop reading of Moby Dick. This year they hope to have it at the Maritime Museum down at Aquatic Park. Looks like there’s some interest in making that happen. Interesting potential fund-raising possibilities for this and that.
“Igors were loyal, but they were not stupid. A job was a job. When an employer had no further use for your services, for example, because he’d just been staked through the heart by a crowd of angry villagers, it was time to move on before they decided that you ought to be on the next stake. An Igor soon learned a secret way out of any castle and where to stash an overnight bag. In the words of one of the founding Igors: “We belong dead? Excuthe me? Where doth it thay ‘we’?’”
Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 421). HarperCollins.