The Good Doctor and Other Neighbors
By Fred Owens
The Africa story will continue in a week or so, but first we start off with news about our neighbors
A Good Doctor makes you feel good, even if the news is not good. Fran is an almost-retired pediatrician. She lives up the street a short ways with her husband Brian. They just returned from a visit with their daughter in Brisbane, Australia. They got off the plane in Los Angele and were not screened in any way, although Fran was not too disturbed about that. I think she is not easily disturbed in the broader sense. Fran and Brian invited us over to pick some oranges from their tree and to have a nice driveway chat at the right distance. News of their family and ours. Talk about how the fruit trees are doing. Fran says they have never had much luck with apple trees. Laurie said the opposite -- that her apple trees run pretty good, and, as if to prove it, she had brought a quart of frozen apple sauce from her own back yard tree.
There are only two important things to say about this. We kept our distance, that's one thing. The other thing was how calm I felt after talking with Fran about this, or about anything else for that matter. Good doctors like Fran make you feel good. They have training and experience to be sure, but it's a basic healing quality that good doctors have, and good nurses and other health care professionals. It's not magic. It's just some people have this quality about them and they become doctors and nurses and take the training to go with it. Healers. We need them now. And thank goodness we have them.
We will visit Fran and Brian again for more driveway dialog. In the meantime we stopped at the house next door. We saw Alex sitting in his garage with the door open, caressing a can of beer. He gave us a friendly hello. Alex is always out in his yard doing a project. Keeping busy, we can hear tools banging and motors humming. He sometimes keeps a horse in the back yard. The time was when most of the people in the neighborhood kept horses and there were easy trails about. But the increase in development closed most of these trails and you don't see horse riding like times passed.
On the other side of our house live dear friends Dede and Jim. We love going to their Super Bowl party every year. Jim is the football fan. Everybody else comes for the food and drink, and Dede can put on quite a spread. She and Jim own a well-known Italian restaurant in Santa Barbara called Arnoldi's. You think of a restaurant owner being all stressed out and quick-tempered. Not Dede. She presides with a principle of niceness. Nicetude, but nice all the time and everybody loves her. In the summer Arnoldi's has bocce ball tournaments in the back patio. If you ever visit Santa Barbara you would want to dine there. Try the calamari.
Across the street things are changing. Mabel Rye lived on this road longer than anybody, nearly sixty years or more, before there were any other houses. She and her husband Norris raised one son, Rory. She lost her husband some years ago, but Rory lived not too faraway and came every Sunday for her home-cooked dinner. You could see his car parked in the driveway on those days.
She lived alone for many years. We gave her many rides to the grocery store and swapped books with her. She is such a lively soul, almost turned 99 this year, but she is in the nursing home because of a broken hip and not coming back to her home. Her granddaughter was given the house and she is fixing it up. Mabel is very matter of fact about these changes. She takes it in stride with a surprising strength, an inspiration to me. Lately she has been talking about going to Heaven and what it's like when she gets there.
Well, those are some of the neighbors as we enter into our second week of social isolation. I have to say we don't feel lonely because of these friends who are only a shout away.
I will write more next time about our families here and there. Laurie's kids, my kids, and all the others.
The Plan is to put out two issues a week. One devoted to current matters in Santa Barbara. The other issue will be a continuation of the African story. Aunt Janet was my favorite of all Precious's aunties. I only knew her for a few weeks. She was barely past forty in age and she just died. That's African style -- sometimes people just die.