Monday, June 12, 2017

Endless summer, Wyoming, Colorado, grief, love, camping, road trip

Our “endless summer” started in May 2016, though we didn’t name it until May 2017. 
A small section of a very big sky!
…into Wyoming, highway up and down and around in rolling high arid steppe – lots of sage, scattered livestock, a few herds of antelope, into a fertile river valley with green fields, herds of livestock, the majestic mountains in the near distance, the Snowy Range coming into view, coming closer to Centennial, where Jean came deeper into herself. 
Jean's work, 1970s
What does it mean to be with a woman like you – who opens me to my tears – who opens me to deep awe and joy. Driving across the Wyoming high country, across the BIG SKY country feeling as if we’d taken something psychedelic – so high and so good. “It’s good to have been high before, because now we know what’s happening now.” 
The dream is reality.
Willows!
In the Snowy Range
You told me I help open places in you – as you help open places in me.
That song you sang – “Wy-Wy-WY-oming.”
We stayed with Helen in Golden and with Kenny and Diane in Silverthorne. Good shopping trip with Kenny. Wonderful hospitality from nice people. Colorado and into Wyoming after a stop at Cataract Lake.
Centennial, Wyoming. Population 270. Jean called the woman who bought her house 40 years ago to see if we could come by and walk past the house to the river. The woman told Jean that she was out of town, but the back door was unlocked, so we could just come on in. And we did. And we walked the 30-40 feet from the back door to the river running fast (we heard a big fish break water). Standing there in the cold rain in this place of tremendous growth for Jean.
In the Snowy Range
We spent the night at the Old Corral Hotel, Peet's coffee and fruit and yogurt for breakfast in our room. 
The highway (opened yesterday) up out of Centennial into the Snowy Mountains. I first saw these beautiful mountains about 1963 off in the distance on the way to somewhere in Wyoming with my friend, Renn Fenton***. I’ve seen them in the distance 5 or 6 times since; and now, driving into the mountains through pine trees dusted with snow and a little snow on the ground, now more, stopping the car down a smaller side road and getting out to be in the snow surrounded by trees with the snow too deep to walk in. Driving up and up with deep drifts on the side of the road and the snow coming down and at the top of the pass the snow is coming down sideways, stinging our faces – Yes!
The Bighorns
The endless arching of this endless summer from Berkeley to Mendocino to Dallas to Santa Cruz to San Francisco to Vancouver to the golden afternoon of Big Sur to Marcia’s house to Indian Rock to The Temple to Flagging to the Edge of the World, to Yosemite (walking with faeries in the forest) to the beach the seashore the waterfront to La Honda to Esalen(!) to massage class to New York to Spain to our beautiful life in Berkeley to Colorado into Wyoming into the place where Jean became so much and arching across the beautiful Snowy Range! This is the train. Here is a moment on a Mendocino beach that captures when the endless summer started.
At the beginning of the Endless
Summer - Mendocino beach
Driving out of the Snowy Range it was a short drive to Saratoga, to visit the hot springs there. The Saratoga Hot Springs hotel was overpriced and the restaurant mediocre, but we had a great time along the river and in the room. (More later on the municipal hot springs – a much better option than the “resort.”)
From Saratoga, we drove north - first to Medicine Bow for breakfast with bikers (and not 50 year old divorced guy "bikers" with do-rags) - and onward to the Sheridan area to visit Jean’s friends, Katie and Hal for a few days. We hung out on their ranch, then drove up into the hills, parked, and walked along a dirt road lined with lupines. Hal forged ahead with the dogs (Dan and Marty) and Katie and Jean walked through the lupines and I wandered along in my own world. Lunch was at a café in Bighorn. After lunch we went to a “roping” – a cowboy Memorial Day get-together and a birthday party and so there we were, standing along the corral fence with the “headers” and “heelers” roping the steers and the other people sitting on their horses and a few along the fence.
Sheridan roping
And THEN, it was time for the “boil” – a huge pot of boiling seasoned water, with potatoes, sausage, corn, and shrimp – plus bread and slaw and macaroni salad and watermelon and rhubarb (harvested yesterday) pie and coconut cream pie and a humongous tub of ice cream and nice people – though most are probably farther to the right than I am to the left.
A great Memorial Day.
At the "boil" after roping
Memorial Day 2017
From Sheridan we headed south to Thermopolis for a short time in their municipal hot springs, then on to Lander (home of the National Outdoor Leadership School – NOLS). Good times and good food in this pretty Wyoming town.
We drove the few miles from Lander to Sinks Canyon where we camped in a state park. This was Jean’s first night in a tent in 40 years. Very windy and rained for awhile – a great night.
(“Grief is the final act of love, and recovery from it is the necessary betrayal on which the future depends. There is only this one life, and we are the ones who are here to live it.” From NYT review of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.)

We talk of our spouses and the terrible grief. Driving up the highway across the Wyoming steppe and through the mountains, singing Grateful Dead and Beatles songs together - Here Comes the Sun! Such an emotional trip. Tears just beneath the surface... Attics of My Life - not about a person as much as self... attics = past - I laughed with delight.
In the tent
Onward back across this magnificent big sky country to Saratoga, where we stayed in Hacienda motel on the edge of this small town and drove five minutes to the municipal hot springs – free, sandy bottom, convivial scene. Back at the cowboy motel we rested then went to the Wolf Hotel for a prime rib dinner.
Vedauwoo campsite
Continuing south we again camped, this time in the Vedauwoo area – we had a great campsite among the hoodoos. Our nearest neighbors were a hippie family on their way to the Rainbow Gathering in a great bus. The man and I were talking about an Incredible String Band song quote on the side of bus (“We love you, but Jesus loves you the best”) and he and I sang a few lines together. Later I recalled that I sang that song to Keo as she was dying last January.
Camping with Jean was great. We were comfortable in our warm sleeping bag and tent, enjoyed our camping food, and had good times hiking around and watching sunsets.
From the Vedauwoos we drove to Fort Collins to spend the night, but it was too cityish, so we drove into the mountains and rented a cabin along the Fall River in Estes Park. This was a great move – clean mountain air, rushing river, and… a bear walked by less than 20 yards from Jean!!! This happened a day after we talked about our spirit animals (mountain lion for me; bear for Jean)!
Sunset Vedauwoo
In the morning we took off up Trail Ridge Road across the Rockies. It’s been more than 50 years since I was there and Jean had never made it across that pass at 12,183 feet. Wow! Surrounded by tundra and snowy peaks and the thin air and clear skies. Now over the pass toward Winter Park and then Golden to spend the night at Helen’s (and her dogs, Louie and Stella).
Jean and Helen were talking about a car we saw with a bumper sticker – Women for Trump. Jean said, “Don’t they realize their bodies are sacred.”
Denver airport and flying from one paradise (Wyoming/Colorado) to another (Berkeley/Bay Area).

Bear outside our cabin. Photo by Karen
*** Renn Fenton and I lived together in a cabin in Estes Park and climbed in Estes and the Needles in South Dakota. While Jean and I were traveling in Wyoming and Colorado, I told her a little about Renn. When we got home I googled him. I discovered that he died in 2007. Here is something from an internet forum: “I am a travel nurse who has taken care of Renn while he was in the hospital. I wanted all of you to know that I have felt privileged to be one who got to spend time caring for Renn during his last days. It was clear to me the first time I laid eyes on Renn that he was quite a character - when I googled him, I found this site and saw a comment that made me want to respond. I was actually able to "break through" with Renn and get him to talk back to me and say my name. I will forever remember his vivid blue eyes and "cat that got the canary" smile. I just wanted all of his friends to know that there are several of his nurses who have appreciated Renn for being the kind of person who makes this world interesting and feel honored to have cared for your friend.” 
Renn's country - Jean's country - my country


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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dancing at Flagging, on the train, congruencies

May
Jean at Summer of Love installation at de Young Museum
Temple door
Jean and I and David and Charles went to a party with about 200 people in a meadow in a park on a beautiful Sunday (Mother’s Day) afternoon. (This is the same meadow where David and I had scattered Leslie’s ashes.) Today, the music was feel-good EDM and we were feeling good, feeling an irrepressible urge to dance – so there we were, dancing at the edge of the meadow, then into the forest, back into the meadow, and into a redwood grove. Yeah, this is the way it should be. I danced with Jean, her friend Courtney, my son, my son’s husband, and random people. It was more “cozy” (as Jean said) than euphoric. We enjoy open and intimate connections every day, and a fair amount of magic in our daily lives – we talked about how this day and its magical experiences are part of living the dream; about our shared commitment to that reality. We walked out of the park, Uber to train, and train home. Really tired the next day, but felt good.
~ ~ ~
Uncoupled couple on the train. Riding the N Judah train from Embarcadero to Duboce Park. A couple got on and stood, each one at opposite sides of the door, standing facing away from one another, staring with flat affect into their separate spaces, never speaking, just staring, unhappy looking.
This is the train – better to be alone with one’s memories I think, than uncoupled like that.
David at Flagging in the Park party
This is the train – riding through/within each precious unrepeatable moment.
This is the train – I want you to put on your pretty summer dress.
This is the train – face time, our faces inches apart, holding you, watching you fall asleep, watching you sleep, forcing myself to stay awake for each precious unrepeatable moment in the firelight, in the dark, in the light.
This is the train. 
~ ~ ~
Lunch with David, 3-4 days/week. How sweet is that! 
~ ~ ~
Jean and I talking of our beloved spouses.
~ ~ ~
Stairs in Berkeley home
Hippie Lady. Our home is sacred space. Living consciously. Flowers everywhere inside and outside the house. Uncomplicated relationship. Free. Lying together, face to face, looking into one another’s eyes – our “face-time.” Recognizing the magical moments of congruency.
~ ~ ~
I discovered that you were making notes about our relationship. And they were the same sort of notes I was making! Things that we both love or congruencies or similarities…
In common/likes/congruencies
Dogs
Creating – art (JC) and hospice (CK)
Being outside
Nature
Sex
Love – loving and being loved
Oh yeah - Jean in redwoods in AIDS Memorial Grove
Grief
Rock and roll
Dancing
We’re alive!
Feminism
Practical politics
Fairies
Walking
The Bay Area, especially Berkeley
Pleasing the other
The importance of the relationship – recognition of the beauty
Working on the relationship
Romance
What we see as beautiful
Travel
Sunsets
Celebration of hip culture
Living fully/following our dreams/visions
Van
Respect
Acceptance
People (JC) – Humanity (CK)
CK in garden in Berkeley
Art (JC) – Service (CK)
~ ~ ~
Dallas: Humid warm night with the fragrance of old fashioned four o’clocks heavy in the night.


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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Spain: Barcelona, Granada, Valle de Abdalajis, Cordoba, Barcelona

Valle de Abdalajis
We flew Newark to Barcelona in Delta coach. It was a seven hour flight and we were glad we’d paid extra for a little extra legroom. Aeroport bus to the center of the city, then taxi to the Air BnB where we met Gemma, the woman we were renting from She was still cleaning the apartment after previous renters, so we dropped our luggage off and walked to the nearby Cathedral Familia Sagrada, hung out in a park, had something to eat, went back to apartment and settled in.
La Familia Sagruda
Thursday notes: Sitting in a coffee shop near the university, soft guitar music, watching all the pretty people walking by, decent salad, good espresso, feeling good with Jean. We visited the Catedral de Barcelona (more traditional than the far-out La Familia). There were many shrines within the cathedral, some old tombs (from 1500s), and a realistic wax figure of a priest in a confessional. When I leaned in to look closer, he blinked! It was a living person, not wax – talk about startled!
We went to La Familia Sagrada, a strange edifice designed by Antonio Gaudi, the penultimate Barcelona architect. The cathedral has been under construction since 1882 and is scheduled for completion in 2026
Walked to Barrio Gotic, a maze of narrow streets, upscale shops, a whole tourist scene. Jean went into the Picasso Museum and I hung out on the streets. Got a text from Kristina, who has passed her state boards (NCLEX) – congratulations!
Las feministas 💖
Walking back to our apartment and up ahead we hear chanting, cheering, lots of people. Checking it out – las feministas! Into the flow now, joining in long enough to be able to say we were there. It was a happy and intense time – yet another life bookend for me – thinking of Leslie and when she bought the early Our Bodies/Our Selves at the Whole Earth Store in Austin; how in those early days feminism seemed radical (it was, actually); how she was an avowed feminist until the end of her life; how she put her beliefs into action, working with and lifting up women all her life. We were raised in the 1950s, raised ourselves in the 1960s and now, 50 years later, in a march with Jean, another serious feminist! Fortunate me! Days later, walking through an area of Barcelona called, “El Clot,” we picked up a flyer that said, “El Clot esta FEMINISTA o no sera.” Yes!
At dinner in a neighborhood-oriented tapas café we watched part of a soccer semifinals game. Barcelona won and the café erupted, as did the streets – honking, cheering, fireworks. Great fun.
On to Granada – we missed our flight, and got another flight. After several misadventures, we got to the Hotel Leo for our first night in Granada, and then moved to an apartment. The taxi to the apartment couldn’t take us all the way because of a religious parade. So we hiked quite a ways and when we were in the middle of the parade, a parade marshal let us through and we kept on hiking and hiking up narrow cobblestone streets until finally reaching our apartment at #90 San Juan de los Reyes.
La feminista; mi corazon
The apartment was incredible. First floor entry, second floor two bedrooms and bathroom, and third floor living room, kitchen, and veranda. From the bedroom and from the veranda, there were stunning views of Alhambra. And at night, when the fortress/palace/mosque was lighted, our bed and we were bathed in the light.
Our tickets to see Alhambra were on a cold and rainy day and so there we were again, walking in misty gardens all wet with rain. Happy days. Alhambra was spectacular, though somewhat crowded. We could see our apartment across the little river running beneath the ramparts.
By now, I’d lost track of regular writing.
While we were traveling, we observed the date of Leslie’s passing, Leslie’s birthday, the anniversary of Jean’s husband’s passing, and Jean’s wedding anniversary – March is quite a month, grief-wise! On Leslie’s birthday, Jean asked me what time it was. I said I didn’t know and so Jean checked her phone. As she opened the phone, the time clicked over from 7:46 to 7:47 – 747 being the number of greatest meaning to Leslie. Hi Leslie! Sigh.
Our bedroom in Granada
Leslie and Jean are different in some ways and similar in others. One profound similarity is that both of these women do something I call believing in people. And through the power of this belief (and other factors), somehow, some people are lifted up, sometimes literally saved. Once again, I ask, how can this be? How can I have ended up with these women!?
Granada was a high point of the trip: our incredible apartment and view, narrow cobblestone streets, little bus up to (what we called) hippie hill, street musicians, good food, good Spanish wine, romantic everything. I actually had not thought that Spain would be any more or less romantic than our usual life. But it was very romantic.
Our street in Granada
We rented a car in Granada and drove to Antequera and from there through the countryside to the Valle de Abdalajis, near one of the “white villages” – so-called because all the houses are painted white. The drive was beautiful, though to me (the driver), stressful because of the difficulties finding our way. But after some challenges, we found where we were spending the night – at Maggie and Elio’s house. We were able to walk into Elio’s olive tree grove – several acres of trees!
We drove up above the village for a lovely time along a deserted road. Dinner in Antequera was unusual – including an orange and salted cod salad, rabbit and garlic stew, a sausage potato and egg dish, and bread with olives and olive oil.
From the valley we drove to Cordoba, where we stayed at a hotel half a block from the entrance to la Mezquita de Cordoba. Once again, we were in narrow, cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, and among friendly people.
The Hope of a Condemned Man III.
Miro finished this on the day the man was executed
From Cordoba, we drove back to Granada, where we stayed one night at the Leo Hotel, then flew back to Barcelona. We stayed at another Air BnB in an urban neighborhood, nice, very quiet.
We walked from our apartment to El Clot, a transitional middle class and art-oriented neighborhood. Nice espresso at a nice community center, where we picked up the flyer that said, “El Clot esta FEMINISTA o no sera.” Yes! I read a few days ago that at the University of Texas approximately 1 in 7 women has been raped. The president “just grab ‘em by the pussy” of the united states is a misogynist sexual predator leading a republican party that despises women, except as sex objects – in case anyone thinks feminism isn’t an immediate issue.
Enduring Granada memory -
a little psychedelic band
I had an epiphany on a visit to the Joan Miro Museum. I was looking at large triptych titled, The Hope of a Condemned Man. I learned that “Miró painted this triptych in reference to the hope of grace as he prayed for the life of the young anarchist Salvador Puig Antich, finally executed by garotte” (from Wikipedia). I understood then that my life of seeking justice for the dispossessed and underserved could be connected to art. This mattered a lot to me, since Jean has dedicated her life to art.
Easy days and nights in Barcelona. Several wonderful dinners at a small upscale restaurant, Vivant. These are the days!

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Home in Berkeley
We flew Delta business class from Barcelona to NYC (great flight), then Virgin America NYC to SFO (poor flight). Ahhh, back to Paradise (Berkeley).