By Fred Owens
Going to Santa Cruz. Laurie and I are driving up the 101 to Santa Cruz on Sunday. It's an easy 5-hour drive. We are going to visit her daughter Shannon who has just started nursing school at Cabrillo College. She recently moved to Santa Cruz from the Big Island in Hawaii, where she got used to warm weather every day. Her boyfriend Casey worked as a helicopter pilot giving sightseeing tours around the island's volcanic surprises.
Casey got tired of flying tourists over the volcano and repeating the same jokes over and over. He is seeking a chopper pilot job with more variety.
Shannon, although she has her doubts, will make a very good nurse in my opinion. She is intelligent, she is tough and she is caring. It can be a very satisfying occupation and I expect her to thrive. She did spend three hours watching a surgery all the while shivering in the cold because the surgeons like it cold in there, and she did not know if she could wear a sweater under her scrubs.
And the Band Played On. I decided to up my gay game. My daughter Eva was bored when I called her two weeks ago. I said why don't you hang out with Russell. Russell officiated at her wedding to Lara, which is how I know him. Eva explained that Russell had his own gay friends and gay men and lesbians don't really hang out that much together. I said I did not know that, but maybe I should up my gay game. So Eva suggested reading And the Band Played On, politics, people and the AIDS epidemic, by Randy Shilts. This is a well-known and very well written book. It is a gripping drama of the 1980s. We didn't know. There was so much we didn't know and it was frightening. I remember that part. This is a very good book. I am on page 143 of over 600 pages.
The Treme. We are watching Season One of this HBO special about the Treme, a neighborhood in New Orleans where many jazz musicians live alongside other lower income folks, mostly African-American. The series takes place in the months following the Katrina disaster when all of New Orleans almost surrendered to hopelessness, because the city was so damaged and so many people had left for Houston and Atlanta. But New Orleans and its unique culture, founded in good music and good food, was too precious to abandon. This colorful series is about that struggle to come back to life.
Illabot Creek. In 1971 we camped on Illabot Creek, a tributary of the Skagit River. Illabot Creek tumbles down from the mountains rushing and splashing over jagged rocks, but when it reaches the valley floor the creek spreads over smooth gravel shaded by alders and overhanging maples.
The humpies come there to spawn on those gravel beds in the late summer and early fall. The humpies come to spawn in odd-numbered years, as they did in 1971, and as they will spawn again in 2019. Spawn and die, eaten by eagles. But in 1971, the humpie salmon were eaten by hippies who camped on the shore of the creek and built hootches for living and cooked over fires and drank the sweet, pure water of the creek.
I lived with my girl friend on the creek that summer. We had been together two years by then and had many wonderful times together, but there were issues and we split up and I was very unhappy. It's a story that might be worth telling. The girlfriend is a very strong character and such an interesting person to write about. But am I the one to tell that story?
I wrote to Young Dave in Oregon about this. He would be in the story if I told it. Should I use her real name? Young Dave consulted with his wife and suggested no. Why stir up someone else's life? Just call her your girl friend. But that is too vague. Maybe I should create a name for her..... Sage. Her name is Sage ...... but then is it still a true story?..... Yes, the story about Sage is true if it is truly told.... and I can do that..... Young Dave described Sage as being a fully self-realized woman..... True that..... She did what she wanted to do......
Rain. Saturday morning in Santa Barbara. We are getting lots of rain. We leave for Santa Cruz tomorrow morning.