Monday, September 7, 2009
Connections to good times/friends
Camp Connell, CA - Labor Day Weekend -- The photo which tops this blog really requires little arrows pointing in various directions, because each element of the picture has a story to tell about friendship, travel, adventure and maybe even aging well in good company.
Since I do not have the computer hardware to make the arrows go where I want, I'll try to do this simply in text so all my relatives can understand...
(That didn't sound right, but you can ask questions later in the comments section. Be sure and state exactly how we are related before asking anything serious.)
First, the location is the front deck of our home in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 100 miles due east of San Francisco and 4,980 feet up Ebbetts Pass Highway.
Second, the time was Sunday morning, after everyone woke up after an evening of music and food, and a little wine, got cleaned up, and all were ready to smile.
Here comes the complicated part: how six different people came to be know each other.
From left to right, that's me with the umbrella growing out of my head. I would normally be wearing shorts and a T-shirt from Mexico, but I've worn most of them out hauling firewood so the shirt is a "Stomping Grayzies" team shirt from the annual Grape Stomp Festival in the gold-and-tourist-mining town of Murphys. My grand-daughter and son-in-law made up a team and I was a cheerleader. Symbolic of a slight shift in life style, don't you think?
Next is my beautiful spousal unit Pat, wearing normal clothes and a smile, and including a red flannel shirt to keep warm as it is beginning to feel like Fall in the early mornings.
Third in line is Dan Olson, sailor and retired state bigwig, from San Diego Sacramento El Dorado Hills in the past and this year from Cartagena Columbia. Dan stood in back because he is very tall. His wife Lorraine, dressed like a normal person, is probably the quietest of this group, which is a reflection of her high tolerance level. Maybe she is just being polite.
Dan is wearing a bright green T-shirt that says "Sabbatical" on it, even though his boats are named Zephyr and Zephrus. Sabbatical was a big sailboat owned by the couple on the far right (photographically, not politically) who have since swallowed the hook (translation: sold the boat) and moved to Mexico (more on that later, it gets too confusing).
Pat and I met Dan and Lorraine in San Diego almost ten years ago on a dock, and they were present the day we took ownership of our sailboat Good News. They showed up on a New Years Eve with champagne and a suggestion for the boat's name, which stuck. We since have been with them in places ranging from the Oakland Estuary to the backwaters of Tenacatita Bay in Mexico. Dan even hauled me up my 50 foot mast in a bosun's chair, once so you know I trust him.
Their current home is on a small sailboat in Alameda, near our boat Good News, and their normal home is a larger sailboat waiting for them in Columbia where they plan to continue their cruising the Western Hemisphere lifestyle in October. We may see them next in Belize, or maybe the Caribbean. Probably Oakland.
Next in line is Prof. Sylvia Fox, who with husband Michael Fitzgerald, also a professor, have been entangled with Olsons and LaMonts for years in various ways.
Michael is wearing a Tenacatita Bay Regatta T-shirt from several years back, the year he helped win the big race. Or came close. Or something like that.
Other than playing the fiddle, teaching journalism, marrying Michael, living aboard a sailboat, having a home on Seneca Lake in New York and the other in a small Mexican village with no other gringo residents, Sylvia's pretty normal. She is the brains behind a lot of the mischief these six people cook up, and almost all the fun.
Michael is part sailor part journalist, part politician and part musician. His current instrument is the ukulele, and his current residence in a shared home in Sacramento near the University where they both teach the Fall semesters. He shares those other homes in Mexico and New York, and may be planning to have a few more before he and Sylvia decide which continent is best. Don't be fooled by the smile and the happy uke songs, Michael is also a sharp critic of foolish politicians everywhere, and particularly anti-union forces in California. (We met through journalism, but got over it.)
Together Michael and Sylvia have begun to bring positive change to their village by providing a veterinarian to help the residents. More important, probably, is the bridges of friendship they have forged with Mexican neighbors and friends, and helping their animals get healthy, and providing free English language lessons for the village children. No guessing what they will do next, but it will be interesting.
It's hard to believe that we only go back a decade. We've shared interests in government, newspapers, politics, the web, sailing, Mexico, music, wine, and each other's families for long enough to feel thoroughly connected. We've lived together in shared homes a few times, even shared a great old dog once, and watched the children and grandchildren grow and mature.
We enjoy music together and I am pretty sure that our band "The Four Headlamps" has now become the "Six Headlamps" since we added Dan on a noisy apple-shaker and Lorraine played sticks this weekend. Someone suggested the "Dim Bulbs" would be a better name, but that did not carry the vote. Check out the band on one of Michael's blogs: http://thefourheadlamps.blogspot.com/
I'm sure we six would never agree on everything, but then again, we wouldn't care about that. Friendship does not require agreement.
None of these folks will ever starve so long as I have a can of beans in my cupboard.
They're on my friends "list" even without Facebook.
Even without arrows drawn on the picture, we are all connected.