Saturday, May 30, 2009
Greetings from a bright summer Saturday on Vashon Island, or as the natives think of it, “another shitty day in paradise.” OK, the natives don't think of it that way. I saw that on a t-shirt a guy was wearing in a documentary about the South Pacific Islands a few years ago.
It was warm yesterday and is on track to be warm today and tomorrow. Rick is recovering from yesterday's BCG treatment, and at the moment is playing Go Fish with our grand daughter Allysan.
Our older son JD is at WORK! Yay! The kid has a job! He's going to spend the summer with a shift running the register at the Chevron station up in town. His friend and music collaborator Charlie has the same job at Mom's, the 76 station south of town, so they figure they will be the convenience store kings of Vashon and will have plenty of grist for the rap lyric mill from their experiences.
Drew is still asleep. It's what he does during the day.
We had a busy week. Friend Sonya (you can see her above, getting prepared to drive back home on Thursday) came up on Monday and we had a good week together, hitting Granny's and the Lost and Found store, celebrating my birthday and Rick's, and visiting friends Alice and Becky, both of whom were under the weather (surgery, and pneumonia, respectively). And we talked of old times and old friends.
It is a great thing to talk with someone you've known for over 40 years, remembering our youth and the people we both knew then, telling each other more current news about the ones we've each kept in touch with. Some of them are gone now, including Sonya's ex-husband, Randy.
Randy was a storyteller, a punner, a bluegrass musician, and a welding major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, when I met him back in 1967. In that arid place and time, he ended up playing rhythm guitar and dobro in the rock band I was in. Thanks to Randy we were playing country rock before it had been recognized as a genre.
It was a little strange, especially considering that Van Webster, the leader of the band, had announced that he wanted to form a blues band. I was in it to imitate Janis Joplin as much as possible without the drinking and drugs. Bruce Willard was the bass player, “as loveable as a speckled pup,” as Randy said. Drummers came and went, as drummers do. It was in college that I began to suspect that all drummers were crazy. Crazy or not, there's something different about them.
We played at a coffeehouse in Cayucos every weekend for the first year or so, and finally gelled as a band. In 1968 we started playing for dances, private parties, restaurants, and bars, for which I had to put on make up and pretend to be 21, as well as appearing at Poly Royal, Cal Poly's annual “country fair on a college campus.”
One month I made $100 from singing with the band, and felt like I was on the road to prosperity. Turned out to be a really short road. All you musicians know what I'm saying.
Sonya was Randy's on again, off again, sweetheart in those days. She occasionally came down from Santa Clara to visit him, and that's how I met her. We became friends. Sonya took me on my first trip to a Salvation Army, the beginning of a lifetime of second handing.
My mother was mortified.
There may have been women at Cal Poly with whom I could have made friends. I guess I never met them. I wasn't interested, at the time, in meeting girls who were there to get their “MRS degree.” It wasn't that I didn't want to get married myself; I thought there was more to life than that, that's all.
Randy and Sonya married in 1970, I believe, down at Montaño del Oro State Park. We ate the chili which Sonya had prepared, tossing in clove after clove of garlic. The cloves all disappeared in the chili, which was a mystery to me. Where did they go? How could a whole clove of garlic just melt? I guess if you apply enough heat and time, that's how.
In 1972 I rented a room from them in their house in Santa Clara, where they lived with their infant daughter Mackedie. During the months I lived there Sonya and I hit the thrift stores, the tofu factory (deep fried tofu cakes...mmm), and the store that sold Deaf Smith peanut butter (heroin in a jar). We got into my '58 Chevy and drove up to Skyline Boulevard to enjoy the forests and fields and views up there. We went to see Funny Girl at a drive-in. “The shoes are all wrong for that period,” Sonya said. We went to the Montalvo mansion in Saratoga, which is now the Montalvo arts center. We went to the Winchester Mystery House and took the tour. We went to Cost Plus Imports and looked at the goods, and I bought a red enameled silver ring which is long gone.
We went and saw Dave Van Ronk in concert up at the winery on top of the hill overlooking Los Gatos. When Mackedie began to cry at one quiet point, Dave Van Ronk growled, “Broil that child.” Big laugh from the audience. “Fuck you,” Sonya said. This was an appropriate use of profanity, in my opinion.
I was supporting myself by working for a temp agency, so it is amazing to me that we did so much in the few months, less than a year, that I lived with Randy, Sonya, and Mackedie, but we were young and having a good time. Friends came over to their house and we played music and ate great food and laughed a lot. I'm not sure why I moved out and came up to Washington to live, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. I came up here and met Rick, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It's all history now, but it's great to sit down with Sonya to relive a little of the past, and to go out with her and hit a thrift store again, and make more history.
Oh my gosh - got all the way through that and forgot to tell you what that other picture is: that is Dick and Jane's Spot, the house and yard that is art over in Ellensburg. That is a whole 'nother blog. We'll get to it in time.