The Last Days of 2011

Or…things that make me want to live longer.

Like the smell of hot milk.

Or the glimmer and smell of a fresh tree, delivered fully decorated, a surprise from a dear friend.

Or being greeted by flowers and pampering after a lung biopsy.

Or a lung biopsy that goes well, with a male nurse (Manny) who made sure I felt no part of the procedure unlike last time, a technician (Cassandra) who’s done my scans for the last five years, with whom I can talk books and life, a Japanese-Irish surgeon named Eamon Keniiche Kato who checked on me twice in the recovery room and called M personally after the procedure, and nurses Marietta and Molly who nourished my soul and my hunger before and after the procedure.  (Note to self:  always schedule outpatient surgery for the day before a holiday weekend, when no one else is having anything done, and you have all the nurses to dote on you.)

For this I feel truly blessed, happy to be alive and breathing.

It’s a sunny and brisk New Year’s Eve.  I may not be able to party the night away but it just drives home the knowledge that there are millions of people around the world who are lonely and alone, hungry and otherwise in a bad situation on this night.  Specifically I think of my brother, so this would be a good day to heal the bonds and start anew.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we’ll take a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

“Today is the last day of 2011. The last day of the last year in which Caroline lived.”

There is so much to this that resonates with me.  Her husband JW has posted a year-end review of 2011 and a memorial video of a New Year’s Eve tradition they followed in the short time they shared together.

I may do a year end redux, painful as 2011 was.  I have hope for 2012.

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Le Garage

Spent the morning watching a bit of news online, reading ex-Vox neighbors’ blogs, doing laundry and finishing off the ultra-yummy, original lemon curd Sis and I made years ago. The limes need picking – time for lime curd.

Got gussied up last night for dinner at Le Garage in Sausalito.  Casual French bistro but I hardly go out so good excuse as any.  We drove through the City to get there, which was nuts.  The drive back over Richmond Bridge was nice.

The food was pretty good – definitely casual.  Le Hip waiters wear uniforms that look like mechanics’ outfits.  Our waiter had the exact haircut as the guy at Numi (without the Gucci glasses) and probably the exact grommeted belt.  They might have been brothers.  We almost started laughing when in a very thick french accent he mentioned the soup of the night – carrot with cumin and something else…We spent the rest of the night laughing about Flight of the Conchords, dreadlocks, hills for ski resorts on the east coast, etc.

Had duck confit, leafed brussel sprouts with sunflower seeds, and a molten chocolate lava cake with a hazelnut white chocolate ganache inside.  That was too rich.  I should’ve opted for the foie gras confit appetizer instead, but everyone was ordering Kennebec fries, herring salad, bacon-wrapped artichokes…  It was nice.  I drank a bit of wine which gave me a raging headache.

Spent the day with Mike at the shop, which is sadly vacant, waiting for its final clearance of forklift and fixtures.  Had lunch at the Up & Under in Point Richmond, wandered Costco.  Long day, I’m surprised I had the energy for it and then make supper.

Christmas Day

At home.  Very quiet.  Watched some movies.  I feel strange, like I’m supposed to make it more cheery than it is.  I want to go to the movies, but millions probably have the same idea, or maybe go for a walk, but can’t breathe the cold air.

I read some of Caroline’s posts from last Christmas.  The very same feeling she speaks of greets me every season – will this be my last Christmas?  The ribbons are worn, should I buy new things…And then the joy when it’s up and the house is cheerful.  But still the underlying sadness in the private place that no one sees.

I have little interest in material things anymore.  I feel my heart will burst from the thought of “my peeps”.  I think I better get some strong eggnog and watch a silly Christmas movie before I succumb to the dark place –

There are a million ways to go

…and I want to go in a Jaguar E-type hearse!  (at least to the crematorium)

One of my favorite films/soundtracks of all time, Harold and Maude (god bless Hal Ashby and Cat Stevens!).  Such beautiful views of the SF Bay area (pre-development…).

Eddie Vedder cover here (although he scrambles some of the lyrics).

Eating and drinking went on late into the night…

I miss reading Richard Brautigan.  Not sure whatever happened to those books.  I think I actually special-ordered those.

It was fun, finally seeing Karen after 30 years, and meeting Bernie’s wife Veronica.  I wish our reunion had a more homey feel, hosted at one of our houses.  In retrospect, it would have been perfect here, had I been healthy enough to host.  But I’m not.  I’d have loved to clean up both rooms and have them stay, make breakfast or at least have a quick jaunt out.  I feel like much time was lost going back and forth, etc.  Still, the fact that it happened at all was terrific.  A great way to end a year so full of strife and sorrow.

Karen gave me an antique typewriter key bracelet that says, “Writer”.  I’ve wanted one of those forever, but the fact that she gave it to me really underscores…so much of what she understands.  I don’t know if I scared her off with all the stuff I talked about on the way from Santa Cruz back to Alameda.  She’s such a good listener and so disarming, but I noticed she didn’t divulge much about herself.  She never has, at least to me.  She sort of did a bit, when I worked in Yosemite, but she’s been largely very private.  She has aged beautifully and gracefully, looking just like herself with less firm skin.  She’s exactly the same size I think.

I’d planned to return those Merrell mary janes, but was so busy and thought I might find something else to exchange them for.  She admired my Ahnus so when they came over Saturday morning, I asked her what size she was and had her try on the Merrells.  If they fit and she liked them they were hers (she was wearing a green pair of hiker/joggers so I knew the Dusty Olive was perfect).  She wouldn’t accept them as a gift and left me $100 and the remainder of some really good dark chocolate from SF.  She also brought the original Yosemite photos so I could scan them in high resolution.  Anyway, I guess she must’ve liked them – she was wearing them to go home (perfect for airports, the velcro strap).  Even though she bought them from me, I hope she thinks of me when she wears them.  She’s VP of Environmental & Remediation at the San Diego office of Brady & Associates.  It’s a small engineering firm but they have all the contracts for the military bases and alot of infrastructure work.  She’s in Mike’s industry.

I’m feeling somewhat pinched.  I want to send packages out, it’s the 19th, I feel better than biopsy week but I’m getting wheezy again.  At least it’s sunny.