Coming through the White Mountains with naught but pine trees for miles, it's a real startle to see the blue LIBRARY sign on the highway. But sho' nuff, thar hit be....The Baldwin Cabin Public Library.
Hit whar Thurs et 11:30, but no one wuz in sight. Hit war snowin' on 'n' off so ah figgered they'd 'cided to leave erly.
Sometime after my fascination with dinosaurs I became interested in whips. It's a phase many children pass through, often marked by realizing"It's not as easy as it looks." So when I saw this book on the library shelf I thought I could "reframe" my early childhood. I was delighted to discover the author quotes Franz List, has a vocabulary that includes polysyllabic words and whose writings can be applied to life's mysteries. For sure someone at a "Munch" will know where to get a whip.
I took Hurricane Road, a twisty, single-lane dirt track, up, out of the Carrizo Plain, over the Temblor Range to the tarmac and speeds above 17. The plan was a 10-day-trundle to Albuquerque to see (pun intended) about a cornea transplant to restore sight to my left eye.
Coleman's planned obsolescence had me on the hunt for a stove regulator. So, along with the many diversions one encounters on the road, I was stopping (they don't make it easy) at likely places -- the internet just said NO! -- to see if anyone had one in stock. In Ojai (a mini Santa Fe where crystals & alternative therapies reign), there's the Surplus Shop (even hippies need ammo cans), Ace Hardware and True Value; no luck. In Taft I tried Kmart. Somewhere near Sam Bernadino I looked in at Tom's Novelties & Adult Book Store and a Sally's. Further east, on approach (that's Sky King talk) at a Big 5 Sporting Goods...the phone rang. It was Vince Distasio calling to say he was dying of lymphoma.
C O V E T I N G G R E A S E B U R G E R S
He related how the prev Friday, surmisaling he might have pneumonia, he'd sought an opinion. They, as we've all come to expect, took some blood, his vitals, patted his ass and sent him home. But then, the next night, at 11:00 p.m., came the call. They said his levels were bad and urged him to visit an E.R. (emergency room) and get a bone marrow biopsy (BMB). Too cagey to be caught in that trap, he thought "No way." Sunday came and went.
H E J U S T C A N' T F I G H T A N Y M O R E
Monday, after the BMB, they sent him around to a couple of other hospitals...to be sure (and tuh give everyone "uh piece uh duh akshun"). Finally, they told him he had a few days, or weeks ("These things are still hard to guage," they said), to live. He thanked them and went home where he was paying bills, buying a new washing machine (GODDAMNIT!!! They're 'sposed to last FOREVER!!) and trying to find an electrician to solve some problem with the tenant in his rental.
I told him I thought I could get there by Thursday, less than a week. It's a trip we've all made, in our day, in mere hours. But now, for me at least, it takes a week, usually longer. It's Thursday and yesterday we, Smith & I, camped a few miles east of Superior, Arizona. We're taking the scenic route, at least part of the way; it's my way of pleading with Death: "Please give me a little more time to absorb this."
Morbid souls, we have, in recent years, talked about how we're gonna get outta this. He favored a walk up a lone arroyo...with a pistol. I tended toward the hibachi method...quieter, with notes of Zen and mesquite. I teased him that he was cheating -- you gotta hold yer nose and blow really hard afore yer brains'll come out; lymphoma's too easy.
Spiteful, boiling over with cultural scatheittude (except for foot & basketball), he gives the lie to "No Man's An Island." His adamant refusal of a caregiver and vituperatively delivered, "I'll die alone!" have been thrilling and rival scenes from The Taming of the Shrew and/or The Days of Our Lives. His daughter, grand-daughter and son are doing what they can, but out of respect for his need for self-annoyance, they don't hang around.
T H E B I G G A M E
When I called this morning he was delirious; verging on hysterical. The hospice nurse said it's cuz he won't use his oxygen. He, like Porky, the porcupine in Pogo, hates everyone, "Including mySELF!" and is reveling in the steady ramp-up of the angst.
(Thank god!...the final paragraph!)
He's a model of health. In spite of having attended Notre Dame and an advanced degree, he ENJOYED physical labor; sought it out! When not digging (ENTHUSIASTICALLY!!) ditches or mixing adobe for custom homes, he worked out at the gym two hours a day, rode his bicycle everywhere to spite ("I'll show 'em!!") the oil companies, skipped the parties...so he'd live longer. His cousin, 93, has recently opined some concern, just a little, about getting old. Others in his family are REALLY old. 78 is TOO YOUNG!!
I'm gonna miss him.
The black sheep of a wealthy, east-coast family, he excoriates status.
I was noodling around at the South end of the Carrizo Plain Nat'l Monument and stopped in at Tina's Restaurant to chide her about her nationalism (note flag out front).
She's a lovely and incredibly intelligent woman who (I hope) will add the flags I'll be sending her each month. She suggested the United Nations but I started with Canada's in hopes of increasing her walk-in traffic. The coffee was good; the conversation was nonpareil!!
The shack, as she called it, in the right corner, is her family home in the Philippines.