Some of us came down to Malibu Beach to watch the sun go down. Chilly but lovely.
We are visiting Allysen’s brother Andrew and his family in L.A., as well as some good friends. It’s great to see everyone. The weather is surprisingly chilly in southern California, not all that different from the temps back in Boston. Here are a few scenes—not including the humans we are visiting, because I always forget to take pictures when we’re gathered. Here’s Allysen with the local glowing-eyed canine crew…
Yesterday, Jayce and Allysen and I took the train on a scenic ride up the coast to Santa Barbara, where we strolled on the pier, had some good seafood, tried a wine tasting, and strolled some more while awaiting the train home. A lovely interlude. Here’s the Pacific Surfliner…
And here’s Jayce and Allysen at the beginning of the pier. The view was beautiful, a small city nestled between the hills and the sea.
Amtrak got on my good side on the pleasant ride up, with a friendly conductor who explained everything we needed to know, and a great view of the ocean. Yay, Amtrak!
Amtrak got on my bad side on the ride home, where we were left to scramble to find an open door when we reached our stop at Camarillo. Upon alighting, we found ourselves on the wrong side of a cyclone fence separating the two tracks, and us from our car. The way across was long and climby and very poorly signed. No elevators for the disabled, or for the heavy-breathing gent with the oxygen pack on his back. Bad Amtrak!
The sun is now setting and illuminating a gorgeous cumulus cloud behind three stately palm trees! Lovely. I just tried to take a picture of it to share. Can’t even see the cloud in the photo! Bad camera!
We are in shock and mourning. Our beloved border-collie mix, Captain Jack, has left us. Just two weeks ago, he was joyfully chasing a younger dog round and round at a friend’s house, totally exhausting us just watching. However, three days ago, he abruptly went into a precipitous decline—not eating, having difficulty walking, and even standing. I realized with a start that he had lost weight, which I hadn’t noticed. Despite long sessions in two different animal hospitals, the cause remains uncertain. But probably it was a return of the cancer that almost took him a year ago. Here he is, enjoying a last review of the property during a brief rally toward the end.
Many of you will remember that he had radical cancer surgery on his jaw a year ago, resulting in a new lease on life, though one with his tongue hanging out for lack of a place to park it. He enjoyed that year, and we are deeply grateful to have enjoyed it with him.
The timing was uncanny. He abruptly showed serious symptoms on the very day Allysen and Jayce were flying back from Puerto Rico. I was at the hospital with him the very hours that they were in a plane coming home. We are all devastated, but grateful that the whole family could be here to say goodbye. A lovely vet named Dr. Johnson, who makes euthanasia house calls, came to our home to ease his way. Many thanks to her, and to Jackie and the other dog walkers, and to our regular vet Dr. Parker, and to Jack’s oncologist Dr. Cronin, and many others who helped make his life the amazing life that it was. I have owned (and said goodbye to) many dogs, but never one about whom so many people have come to me to say, “I love this dog; what a great dog; he was the highlight of my day.” We already miss him terribly.
Still with us is Lady McDuff, aka Duff-Duff, aka Septima, aka Nugget, aka Possum. She was Allysen’s mom’s dog and is now ours, and she has found her own way into our hearts. Here she is with Jack in happier times. No doubt she is mourning in her own way.
I have always had a gratifyingly warm relationship with my relatives on my mother’s side of the family, the Sherricks. What with the older generation passing and folks scattering to the ends of the U.S.A., I don’t see any of them very often anymore. Fortunately, my cousins periodically organize a reunion, a.k.a. Sherrick Shindig, at some different location, typically not where anyone lives. This year is the first time in ten years I’ve been able to attend, and we are gathered at a lakeside house in Tennessee, which is a state none of us lives in. We’re having a great time. Swimming, boating, relaxing, talking…
That’s after calming down from the last six miles of the drive here (Allysen and I driving the Winnebago mothership). The road in to this location could very well serve as a roller coaster track for Cedar Point. Up, down, twist right, twist left, twist and climb, twist and drop. The mountain roads of Puerto Rico got nothing on this road. But we made it!
Here are a few pics.
My cousins Kianna and Lois, and me:
My cousin Bruce, with Allysen:
My cousin Stewart and his grandson Luke:
Some of the Sherricks gathered around:
Can you find me in this picture?
This is where we’re all staying:
A good time for all!
Nosebook. It’s such a time sink.
Allysen’s mom died last Sunday, of Covid-19, at the age of 90. The senior care facility where she lived had managed to stay free of the virus until just a couple of months ago. Then it got in, and it was just a matter of time. Fay tested positive on Tuesday, and Sunday night she was gone. The end was remarkably peaceful, a quiet ebbing away, without apparent discomfort. She (at Allysen’s wise insistence) stayed in a quarantine bedroom in the facility rather than being taken to a hospital, which she would have hated. The staff were great, and so were the hospice people who helped out at the end.
Fay was a remarkable lady, well educated and well traveled. She and Phil, my father-in-law, had roamed the world for decades, finally settling in Ponce, Puerto Rico after his retirement. She was witty and generous and interested in all kinds of things, but especially art and art history. During her “retirement” years, she worked at the excellent art museums in Ponce and San Juan, and her house was full of art gathered from all over the world. She loved her dogs and her kids and her grandkids. She used to introduce me to complete strangers as “the world’s greatest son-in-law,” which was both heart warming and undoubtedly undeserved. She noted when Allysen and I were married that it would be awkward figuring out what I should call her. “Mom” didn’t seem right; even Allysen didn’t call her “Mom.” She finally settled on “Mm” for her and “Mmm” for Phil.
We are all terribly sad to see her go, but we know she didn’t want to hang on, as time robbed her of her faculties. We are grateful that the end was merciful and peaceful. We know she’s glad, too.
Fay, I hope you’re enjoying your reunion with Phil, and all the dogs, and all the others who went before you! God bless you.
Having shown you what working from home does to the wife, it only seems fair to reveal the converse. I think I’m holding up quite well under the strain, don’t you?
What happens when the wife works from home for too long…
They say those masks make your skin glow, but I dunno, I’m not seeing it.
I came across this picture—on photo paper! The year was 1998. The year we hung on.
This is me with my family, gathered around our one-square-yard wheat crop. We harvested that wheat, and still have the unhusked kernels in a Mason jar, to remind us of when we survived. I take this as a sign that perhaps we should try gardening again this year.
Can you tell that I came from a farming family?
…to warm you on those chilly nights.