Just a short note..... Friday was a horrible day of "reality" losing Nancy. . . . . . . .. BUT. You learn these complex minds, bodies we have although SO frail it seems we're always just a few millimeters from cashing all the chips in, the little spirit inside tends toward life impulses........ Saturday was a day of coming out of fog, Sunday, putting most things into perspective, and now by Wednesday......... I'm beginning to think "life" again. I'm ready to join the community of friends/family once again. This won't replace Nancy.....she remains locked in the heart forever along with other friends/family members I will miss until I also take the next "step" . . . . . For now.......... I'm thankful to be still full of life, and it begins immediately! The dog arfed, "YES! NOW, let's get OUT int the rain!"
On my father's side of the family, we received a call 2-3 weeks ago from cousin Stan H, a brilliant and successful architect/developer to find he's been suffering from "MDS" for a YEAR or two. After enduring Chemo, etc., he was "approved" to be part of a study here at OHSU involving a bone marrow stem cell transplant once they found a donor..... . THEY FOUND the donor in his sister Gayle, and just last Sunday, he called to say he was on his way here for testing/etc.... of COURSE, he and Mary would stay with us "if they wanted to", and they did. ALL three days of his visit were spent at OHSU in classes about what would occur, what to expect, setting up living situation, doctor consultations, etc. I led them to OHSU 2 of the days by car so they wouldn't get lost. We enjoyed 3 evenings of chatter and actually getting re-acquainted. Stan grew up in LA so I've truly only seen him 5-6 times in my life, and the last time was 11 years ago near the time Mom passed away. So with ALL the "trepidation" about what his upcoming summer's going to be, we enjoyed their being here. THAT being said...................... ON the SAME morning he called, I received a call to find out a very CLOSE cousin I grew up with, who had "just" returned from Central America on a retreat to enjoy meditation, yoga, etc., had been taken to ICU after a too-long bout of digestive upsets. She may have waited too long..... each morning brought more worrisome calls.....her condition worsening until a coma was induced for them to buy time to hopefully rid her body of the crisis, WHILE trying to determine just how much damage had already been done before she came to the E.R. We couldn't go visit, they wouldn't ALLOW visitors, she was to be left quiet and undisturbed....... WELL, THIS morning, "that" call came, and husband Bruce advised he'd like us to get up there, hopefully, in time, as the doctors had told him she was "gone", that the ventilator should be disconnected. Cousin Nancy M and I packed as fast as we could, Nancy got as far as the gas station on the way to my house when we were advised..... too late. This is hard to absorb. Nancy M, her sister Sandy, Nancy P and I grew up together in that little rural SE Section of Oregon. Nancy's family were the kids of one of Oregon's LAST loggers, uncle BO..... BO and MERLE met as they were returning from Navy service in the South Pacific after world war II. Nancy was their first child: She showed she had a brilliant intellect as a mere HS student: She was part of the maternal RAY reunions a couple times a year all the while we grew up (**Embiggen** the pic to see everyone. Nancy's third from left, standing by ME.....and cousin Ray to my left): Our friendship grew even closer as Rodger & I moved to Portland in 1996. When she and Bruce's son Jay moved to the east coast, they spent the last couple of Christmas holidays with us as well as the famous AUGUST Pickling weekend that we proudly began doing just two years ago: **Last August, we finished 106 quarts! We were a proud group. Nancy M and I are the youngest in OUR family groups, Nancy the oldest, but we were all the same age. We had often discussed how it's likely to be when the older cousins/siblings pass away....... this current reality was NEVER a consideration. It's been 7 hours since that call came. I'm familiar with death, with loss, and have been many times in my life, bit it seems I'm at a complete loss right now and unable to even finish ironing a shirts I began long ago. It's a WEIRD feeling packing a suitcase as fast as you can.............and it still sits on that bed waiting for the "unpacking" . . . . . . . I feel desperately for Bruce.....Nancy and he had JUST both finally retired this past year and decided where that settling place would be (Boise). They'd been packing and preparing the house for sale all winter............... We're gonna MISS our dear Nancy P.......she has been a bright star in our lives forever. Lesson: We are in frail, complex bodies.....and are SO lucky that they continue to perform, for the most part, well enough that we enjoy life spectacularly. Love life and those close to you for ALL your worth.
Before ANYTHING else can be said, our visit to the place where things that happen, are supposed to stay there, the REAL goal was to renew our old friendship with Jim & John..... THAT goal was met in spades, and not just at the casino. It was fabulous to see them, and nothing there was as exciting as being with them for that short visit. EVERY time we get to see them, we end up wishing we lived closer to them than we do. The visit began with that interesting drive from Riverside through the desert....that I had forgotten completely was bordered by the snow-capped San Bernardino mountains to the west....peaks I had "assumed" were much lower than the Cascade range in the Northwest....NO, a quick google taught me these rugged mountains were over 11,000' high! NO WONDER they look so beautiful at the desert's edge. If you live in the rain forests of the northwest, you have limited long distance views....not so here. It seemed unsettling to reach a little high point, and look out to a highway that vanished straight ahead in the far distance. I had forgotten about "color" in the desert.....nice viewing. Not so much the last few towns in California....Victorville (made what it is by the big prison there), Barstow, Baker, do not seem like cultural centers I'd love to have been raised in. We DID, however, pass one of the most unique Road Names I've ever seen at one exit: Zzyxz ? Are you kidding me? Named after..... ??? Well, link can tell you....it DOES have a history..... NEXT time I have an urge to go rock collecting, I'll have to book a flight into Zzyxz ..... We continued bravely on, and fearing gas spikes in Vegas, fueled at the last CA stop...Baker. Woops! $4.07 a gallon? (We later found gas in Vegas to be stable at $3.52...... gees, should have known, everything in Vegas is subsidized to make SURE you have a few coins left when you enter about any building there, eh? SO.....we continued, using the Droid as our gps guide, and soon arrived at a quite elegant, beautiful gated community.... What a fabulous place the boys allowed us to stay in........ The boys took the days off we were there, and kept us busy............... touring ALL the time except Sunday Night. Why would that be? We arrived at the gated estate to find party preparations underway! Huge platters of snacks, desserts, baked puff pastries awaiting US and the beginning of.........Oscar Night !!! We didn't need to go ANYWHERE! We spent a lovely evening renewing all the old gossip not just about us, our old friends and everyone we knew, but about all those rich celebrities too! THANKS, Jim & John, for a fabulous evening! When asked, it became apparent I was a fashion nobody. I was wearing Levi Strauss and a lovely sweatshirt...yep, it was cool in town. Day TWO: Up early, after a fabulous night of rest (in fact we came home from THAT visit to trash our Sleep Number Bed and get one as close to their guest room mattress as possible)..... We began a tour of the Vegas "STRIP" . . . .land of the towers now, the new moneyed part of town. First stop was at the BELLAGIO for BRUNCH. You enter the restaurant after walking through the domed gardens that are changed seasonally (and lavishly. (((THE LINK just above is directly TO the Botanical Garden there... you should see it) ...I can't imagine what this costs to get done)....the pic chosen not for the gorgeous sections, but for, of course, that gorgeous bunny: What a brunch! Crab benedicts and a luscious hollandaise.....yum. The food itself was top notch. One strong visual highlight for me was the lobby of the Bellagio. I'm truly curious what Dale Chihuly was paid to do this, but the ceiling is a huge installation of his, and is absolutely striking: Then we walked through the attached high-end boutique shopping mall to learn THIS little fact: This mall takes in more revenue than any mall in the world. Rodger liked a pair of designer swim shorts but declined when he found the price was at $595. plus tax. We enjoyed the designs of the place for sure, excesses everywhere: Walking through the "Cosmopolitan" we found the Bar famous for the Chandeliers....this ONE pic doesn't do it justice. The glass sculptures were enormous and everywhere: Near to that, this boutique wall was covered end to end with old antique sewing machines....yes a high end craft store: We wandered all through this area and when ready to leave, entered NY NY casino for two things, a great lunch at the NY Deli, and ride on the NY NY roller coaster set along the roof of the hotel......FUN DAY. DAY 3: A day trip to Hoover Dam, tours into the power chambers, seeing the massive turbines spinning...... The new Bridge over the canyon was magnificent. I had completely forgotten about the RICH colors of the canyon: **Ah, our hosts, the famous and fabulous Jim and John! We walked across that bridge above, saw things about this dam I'd not known. Evening of DAY 3: A chance to see the old old Fremont part of town. Here was yet another completely different set of players.....seems this was the blue collar set, the retired locals, some younger kids wanting to ride the zip lines, and higher returns on your Casino gambling...... The highlight was seeing the fabulous light shows that happen here ......all themed different. We saw two: One about Anime, one about the Doors and the music matched the show perfectly: I learned more about Las Vegas than maybe I was comfortable with..... there are neighborhoods, sections of town that ARE different but there is NO getting away from the primary goal: Get your money away from you. From the noveau Riche visitors to the blue collar vacationers in the Fremont District to the poor locals, even senior citizens at the several neighborhood "stations". When we went to the "SUNSET STATION" for a Breakfast Buffet (if you can imagine a 'breakfast' buffet with a few "hundred" items to choose from)....there was a catch-you gimmick for seniors lined UP to gamble away for about an hour....with some "special" offer thing that mostly meant they went home poorer than they were. Last stop, that evening, we drove back to the BELLAGIO to see the spectacular Water Fountain show....... Las Vegas is QUITE a place, and we KNOW two of the FEW MOST fabulous, delightful, lovely, fun people there! THIS friendship has history....Jim and I have been bestest friends for 40 years now..... that is a treasure to me. Thanks, guys.
Another great adventure while in Riverside at Norm & Naomi's was a trip into old-town where several old places have all been renovated and are enjoying new life. The MISSION INN is probably the high spot for Riverside, a city I have really been rather unfamiliar with although Norm's lived there for years. The movie Gone With the Wind had its world premiere in this town....at a theater just now restored and open to many art events. The University California at Riverside is one of the LARGEST universities in the state and is on a beautiful campus. Students come here from round the world. I had no idea. You tour through this grand hotel under the impression it was one of the old missions, but actually, it began life as just a "guesthouse" in 1876...... Presidents have stayed there, it was a getaway for the wealthy years ago...... I hope these few pictures only ensure you'll try to visit it if you just take that little exit off of I15 to see it. The entrance is inviting: ****** . . . Or just another view: . . . Then you're in a lobby that doesn't seem to be pompous...... but once you pass through there, you see how the place would be inviting . . . . . . ****** . . . And moving on.......... . . . . . . **** . . . **** . . And moving on.......... . . **truly, it looked like an OLD mission........ . . . . ***** . . NICE architecture whimsy............. . . . . ***** . . . I think by now, you can see how this place has gotten patched onto and onto for 100 years................but it's sure got charm. . . I was surprised to see an early art window done about me.....obviously I was a little younger when I was playing here 100 years ago, eh? Oh well, it was a great visit followed by some fabulous food.............. Don't miss having breakfast or lunch at SIMPLE SIMON'S across the street from this Inn. Ah. Vacation.
Finally! Rodger has worn himself out since last summer when his Dad Chet began his last months with us by breaking his hip, not getting emergency care, finally surgery, a struggle to improve, decline at home, onset of pneumonia in late fall, resistance in going to hospital, etc etc, and his passing Christmas Eve. Rodger's life has been turned upside down by this being the only child left, and Shirley, his Mom having passed away years ago. BUT, there WAS hope..............that we could take just a bit of time to have a little get-away sometime, and that we got a couple weeks ago. Perhaps a get-away isn't the right word for everything, since that meant Mark insisted we finally go visit his oldest brother, now 74, who has been sounding a little slow and distant in phone calls, in Riverside CA. WE did manage to get a few days away to Las Vegas to see dear friends Jim & John, but THAT is another "post"..... SO. Today's diary story is about just two highlight stops in the Los Angeles area they accompanied us to, their favorite places. The *** The HUNTINGTON. Library, Collections, and Botanical Gardens *** is impossible to write artfully enough to do it justice (with my writing skills anyway)..... It IS a place you "must" get to WHEN it opens, because you will be there until THEY shoo you out at closing. Okay..... what is the place? Like many American Showplaces, this is the estate of the Huntingtons.....a marriage of massive wealth, he from the family famous for building railroads in the west, and she by inheritance...Arabella had originally married Henry's Uncle, and when he passed away, she then married Henry... hmmmmm. Together they were serious collectors, and that's what they finally became this public place. There are only a tiny FEW Pictures of what we saw that day. After entrance, Mark & Rodger we're often distracted easily at every turn..... BUT, first a stop at the HUNTINGTON LIBRARY, a vast collection of material, so MANY original documents, first editions of writings hundreds of years old, some in calligraphy, some early prints, including a First Edition Gutenberg Bible. This lovely gem was a perfect example..... all calligraphy bordered by artwork: Some books were missing, each with a card saying "by reader request" meaning a researcher had the book checked out for a project....wow. Room after room, here one about nature and drawing of animals hundreds of years old.....times have changed, eh? An original copy of James Audubon's Bird Book left me wishing I could turn some of the pages, but the glass wouldn't let me close enough: Rodger shows you, this is NOT a small book: **** Room after room..... this one showing animal drawings, some hundreds of years old: We finally left the building, and here Mark took the walk up to the burial Mausoleum of the pair...... Soon we were back on track and inside the Tropical Plant Collections....... a beautiful place, many orchids, many carnivorous plants, beautiful settings.... Then from there, we took a short tour through the fairly new and growing Chinese Gardens..... This and the Japanese Gardens are a place that will be fabulous in a few years. There were some photo ops however....... We loved this window: And this entryway nearby: These few little pics can't give you a feel of the hundreds of things we'd already seen. We sat at a cafe', imbibed, and began again.....eventually touring the Desert Plant Gardens....that was magnificent, and NO picture can display the grandeur in the size they're shown here. Finally, we took a short walk through the "palace".... a big art gallery, really. And here's just a tiny bit of odd-ball things WE liked, but we're off the beaten path... These were women, but muscled thoroughly......rather exotic: These babies would NOT be approved of by the current religious right's stern view of moral behavior, but they seemed to be having a good time: This huge vase/bowl was a story on its own....about the butchering of animals for food.....(it did get a little more serious on the other side): I did love this piece, seems that we all should be doing a little more dancing, eh? This final huge sculpture needs now words, it's beautiful: I almost forgot to mention, I was thrilled to find a classic painting devoted to my own people. I believe this my family were the models for this, so we were glad to know WE are part of the Huntington Collection: SO......it was time to go.....the place was closing. We drove from San Marino to Rosemead to dine at a fabulous Los Angeles old family Italian restaurant, Di Pillas.....still run by the daughter of the founder. **IF you do glance at that menu, you'll be astounded..... it's massive. My brother first ate here in 1963........... We rested well that night.