Day 152, shopping, fitness, paperwork

Friday, 5/3/2019

First thing, I called Angela’s number at CH and to my surprise, got her live. Arranged for her to leave the upgrade estimates at the desk for me to sign. Then went on a a run. Then headed out on a shopping expedition.

First stop was Stanford Federal Credit Union. Back story: in April I used the SFCU website bill-pay system to pay a medical bill, $504 to Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Early in May I got a note in the PAMF messaging system asking if I’d please pay my $504 bill. So I replied that I had, $504 on 4/9. They replied, we don’t see it, but send us some proof, email to blah blah include account number, etc., and we’ll try to find it. Grump grump grump, off I go to SFCU. Nice guy opens up the account and prints off a couple pages showing indeed, $504 went out from my account to PAMF’s account on 4/9.

So later in the day I scan this and start to append it to an email to the given address when I have a thought. The SFCU bill-pay app was set up by Marian, with a menu of known recipients; for each one, an account number etc. Looking at the summary of recent payments I see that in fact that payment of 4/9 went to the recipient named “PAMF-M”.


Yup, in the menu of recipients is another named “PAMF-D”. Looking at the details, the one I paid to had Marian’s PAMF account number, not my PAMF account number.

So that led to a considerable change in the tone and content of the email to Sutter Health billing department. From “Look how wrong you are,” to “Can you straighten out my stupid goof?”

From SFCU I drove to Wegman’s Nursery, and then more or less on a whim, to another nursery on Ralston Ave. in Belmont. Neither had anything like hanging plant post I need.

Now on to Stanford shopping center, Macy’s Men’s store. I had various clothes that need upgrading or replacing. One, my Jockey shorts are wearing out, not surprising they’d have holes being at least ten years old. Easy enough to buy a dozen of those. Two, I need a couple of pairs of jeans. I tried on a bunch and finally didn’t choose any. I did confirm that despite having lost over 10 pounds in the past year, my correct size is still 36W30L exactly as it has been for ever. But I couldn’t find the right combination of color and fit, and decided to go home, check what I had, and order exact replacements online.

Three, polo shirts. My standard summer shirt is a Lands End Supima cotton polo. Sadly Land’s End isn’t selling the one of their colors that I like and looks good on me, a deep brown. Maybe I could find a nice polo shirt at Macy’s? I looked at a bunch and didn’t like any. Not even actual Polo ones, the kind with a little polo player embroidered on them. Or the ones with an alligator. No good colors and all felt crude to the hand. Back to the internet.

So I zipped home with my bundle of tighty-whiteys and quickly changed to shorts and a t-shirt and drove back to CH for my Fitness Evaluation with Clark. Clark (his last name is not Kent, despite his definite mild manner) had me do six or seven things while he timed me. How many times can I stand up and sit down again in 30 seconds, and so on. He promises in a few days a consultation and a fitness program.

Signed Angela’s forms so work can start on my unit, then back home again to start the laundry, send that email to PAMF Billing, order the wax plant poles from Amazon, order two pairs of jeans from Levi’s, order one black and one dark gray polo from Land’s End. Also waiting at home, the statement for my next six month’s of car insurance. I note that I am protected at $1M for bodily injury, but $100K for property damage. Catherine the insurance agent had suggested upping it to $1M for property damage also, but on consideration, I don’t see it. I wrote to her saying I would leave it as-is.

Throughout the day I’d been hoping for a call-back from Poppy, the tour organizer at CHM, and it never came. That’s very disappointing and I am going to take myself off that tour…  done.

At 7:30 there is a concert at Dinkelspiel I want to attend. Time for a quick supper and a nap first.


Day 116, Yosemite, laundry, music

Thursday, 3/28/2019

Started a load of laundry and then headed out to do museum work at the Yosemite drive warehouse. I spent the day with Steve, cataloging the parts of a donation of a Data General file server from the mid-90s. There was a “deskside” server, a box about a the size of an ottoman and weighing a couple hundred pounds, full of big circuit boards, with its associated terminal and keyboard; and a RAID array of twenty plug-in disk modules, and a heap of spare parts, extra disk modules, extra power supply modules, circuit boards, cables. Over a 6-hour day we cataloged 24 items, with another 15 to go when next the volunteers hit Yosemite, in two weeks.

Back home I ate and continued the laundry process, and then had to go out to a Voices of Music concert. This is a local organization that puts on Baroque and other classical works. The musicians are skilled and I find some the music very enjoyable. Some, kind of boring.

Voices of Music was Marian’s discovery; she found their concerts a couple of years back and signed us up as season subscribers immediately. I considered not going to this, the final concert of their season, mainly because the prospect was causing uncomfortable emotions. I just have to get used to the fact that thinking about anything that she enjoyed is going to cause prickly eyes and constricted throat. That doesn’t seem to be changing with time. If I were an actor and needed to cry on stage, I could do it easily by thinking about her favorite azalea plant. Or in this case, her favorite concert series.

But the music would be good and I have an on-going goal of getting the heck out of the house and to performances. So, go. (And, note to self, sign up for their next season. Their usual venue, the Episcopal church at 550 Waverley, is about four blocks from C.H.)

This was a selection of works by Handel and by Bach, and like most of their concerts in my experience, some pieces were snoozers and some were wows. Most of the wow this time came from the vocal performances of Amanda Forsythe, a soprano.

Here she is with a group very similar to Voices of Music doing a similar Handel number: youtube link. Brava! It felt like a privilege to be in the same room as that voice. The thought occurred to me during some of her twiddly bits, “How come there are no sopranos in jazz?” Because what she’s doing is not that far from scat, except Ella et. al. did their scatting in a much lower register.

So that was good. Back home to fold the laundry and crash.

Day 78, busy Saturday

Saturday, 2/16/2019

A busier Saturday than it had to be, as it turned out. The Museum is preparing to open its new Education Center, and I am signed up for two events related to that. The first was for docents only, today, from 11:30 to 2pm. And I was signed up to lead a tour at 2pm. The other event is for the public, next Saturday, starting with a brunch at 10am. Somehow I had mixed up these two events and thought today’s started at 10, so I arrived at the Museum at 10, and spent a while searching all the conference rooms etc. for the meeting until I got myself straightened out and had an hour to kill. Anyway…

The Education Center is going to be a very interesting experiment. It’s a cleverly designed space that can be put to all sorts of uses. We’ll see how it goes.

There was a biggish crowd — probably 35 or so — for the 2pm tour, and I managed to keep at least 25 of them to the end. I’m getting better at ending my talk cleanly, so the audience knows it was the end, and will start clapping. Often before I just kind of wound down and nobody realized I was finished; they would kind of stand around waiting for what I’ll say next, and I don’t have anything. Today there was a definite end and a nice hand.

Then home for a one-hour turnaround before heading out to Chuck and Suzanne’s place for a concert. They are music teachers and I expected student work, but in fact the star was Hanna Huang whom Suzanne introduced as “a professional musician who happens to still be in high school” and this was not overstatement. She ripped through a Beethoven Sonata with the skill and authority of a much older musician. After that I wanted to jump up and yell “Brava” but the rest of the audience of 40 or so — mostly parents and relatives, I would guess — didn’t stand, so I didn’t. Hanna also accompanied a young baritone, Austin Thompson, singing two Schubert leider, and then she was joined by a high-school-age cellist and violinist to do a Brahms trio. They played that very competently but I kind of lost the thread in that long and complex piece and my mind was wandering. Kudos to the kids for just being able to play it.

During the snacking and hospitality period after the music I managed to get some time with Chuck, to ask him if he would represent me in selling the house, and was glad when he said he’d love to. He was our agent back in the 80s, first selling an apartment house in Menlo Park, and then buying a rental complex in Seattle. Those deals were the real foundation of our fortune, such as it is. We came back from our years in England with a surplus of cash, which we put into the Menlo Park place; then (with Chuck’s help) did a tax-deferred trade-up for a larger place North of Seattle. I’m trying now to remember when we sold that; it must have been late in the 90s. Anyway the appreciation on those properties left us comfortably fixed. So I am confident Chuck can help getting the best value out of the house here.


Day 47, not in hot water

Thursday, 1/17/2019

Today I was scheduled to spend a full day (10-4) doing cataloging at the CHM Shustek Center in Fremont. Prior to leaving I took a shower and… noticed the hot water wasn’t, or at least was only warm. I immediately knew the water heater wasn’t heating. It was familiar because, I dimly recalled, we just recently had that same problem fixed. So once dressed, I pulled down the big red three-ring binder in which we have kept all receipts for household repair for the last oh gosh, since the 1980s? Earlier maybe. Flip flip flip to the tab for “plumbing”, wondering did I file that receipt last fall, or just scrap it? Yes! I had. On 10/18 we had a repair person from “Water Heaters Only” in to fix the temp sensor so the pilot would light.

Called them. They could come today; sorry, I can’t be home today, tomorrow? Sure, 12-4pm; great, tx bye. Off to work. Cataloged some old stuff: parts of a Motorola EXORciser, a microcomputer development system from 1975. M6800-based box with a motherboard and a bunch of cards plugged into it, oh, a mighty 32KB memory card there. And a heavy (52 pounds, we weigh these things) dual 8-inch floppy drive box. This was a donation from the California Department of Transportation. What the heck was CalTrans doing with a Motorola development system in 1975? Perhaps developing some piece of embedded traffic control hardware based on the M6800. But why had they held on to it until now? Maybe because they only just retired the last of their whatever-it-was embedded traffic light controllers, who knows?

Back home, I just had time to snatch a bite and a quick nap and then had to head out to a house concert that started at 7pm in Santa Clara. Concert was OK, a trio of people doing bluegrass and old contra-dance tunes on fiddle, banjo and guitar. I’d expected more bluegrass, but the lead guy was big into work songs — he gives workshops teaching people to how to sing during manual labor, didn’t think there’d be a lot of demand but, well — and we the audience got coerced into singing some sailor rope-pulling songs a capella. A lot of the audience were into contra dancing, which is apparently quite a thing in this area, to judge by the long list of upcoming contra dance events that was circulated at the break. Come to First Methodist Church in Palo Alto Saturday evening and if you don’t know how to dance, we’ll teach you. Um, nunh-unh, thanks.

That was implementing part of my “being a bachelor” plan that I’d worked on last fall. One of the bullet points is, “attend at least one performance event per week”. Well, I’m over-achieving because, movie last Sunday, concert tonight, basketball game tomorrow. The unwatched TV is stacking up on the DVR. That is not a problem.



Day 3

Tuesday 12/4/18

It seems incredible it has only been 2½ days since Marian stopped breathing. I’ve accomplished just a ton of stuff in that time, busy busy busy. But first, a few words about


It just comes on at unpredictable times, then passes off. Something reminds me of our life together — as when, yesterday morning, I passed the local ice-cream store and suddenly remembered she always ordered mocha almond fudge flavor — or it will be nothing at all, just a sudden uprush of pity and regret. And the eyes prickle, the throat constricts, the voice, if I’m talking, becomes thick and broken. A deep breath, a shake of the shoulders, and it passes off.

So these little fugues, every couple of hours or so, are the metronome to my days. But in between them, today I was

Making Arrangements

Walked to the Y on Ross Road, did my little round of exercises, walked back in plenty of time to strip the bed and put the linens in the washer. Then drove to San Jose, to the office of the Neptune Society, where Maria led me through reading and signing all the papers that have to be read and signed in order to get somebody cremated and scattered at sea, all proper and legal.

There’s a decision to be made: do I want to see the ashes scattered off the Marin coast near Angel Island? If so, I have to reserved a spot on a sailing of their “family” boat for $495. Or I can just let it happen anonymously on their standard scattering cruise where nobody witnesses the operation. That service is included in the fees we paid back in 1997 (Marian’s signature on the contract, from back before her handwriting deteriorated…)

I’m on the fence about this. Do I want the finality of this little ceremony? Marian is gone; the ashes won’t be her in any sense. I’ll consult with her sister, see if she wants in.


On return, Suli, our cleaning lady for many years, had arrived, and had already guessed from the rearranged furniture what had happened since her last visit two weeks ago. But we shared a bit of a cry. “Oh, I hoped I would see her one more time,” she said.

After Suli had finished and left, I sorted the rest of the laundry and got that going. And put the sheets back on the bed. And called a two of Marian’s insurance companies. Oddly, the drug benefit company said they would be informed by Medicare, and would process the termination then. The other, AARP medicare supplement, didn’t say that, and processed the change at once. Whatever.

Finally I reverted Marian’s phone, an iPhone 6s, to factory default and then installed Uber and Lyft apps on it with new accounts. The plan is for Marian’s sister Jean to use that. She’s not had a smart-phone; and I’ve offered to let her use this one, while keeping it on my T-Mobile family plan. It would probably cost me money to go back to a single line plan anyway.

Still plenty of time then, for


About 4 weeks ago, while I was sitting in the audience at the Pear Theater waiting for the play to start, I checked my email (as one does) and saw one from the Fox Theater in Redwood city announcing a concert by Jake Shimabukuro. Knowing he sells out quick, I managed to get two good seats before the lights went down in the theater. A week or so later it was clear that Marian’s strength had declined such that she wouldn’t be able to attend using her walker, but the theater assured me she could come in the wheelchair.

Well, that didn’t come to pass, and yesterday I contacted our friend Wally and asked if he’d like to come. I left early in order to get a quick supper at the Five Guys burgers next door to the Fox, which was fortunate since traffic was a mess. I know how traffic is, on a rainy evening at 6pm; yet it always comes as a surprise. Anyway I did manage a quick bite, met Wally, and attended the concert.

Jake is truly a master and for this tour he has teamed with two other virtuosi, Dave Preston on guitar and Nolan Verner on bass. Still, I thought the concert was a little bit long and repetitive. The absolute best moments where when Jake stood alone and played a standard, acoustic ukulele. His ability to pull sophisticated, complex counterpoint out of that tiny instrument is amazing.

So home to fold the last load of laundry — including Marian’s three favorite tops; another grief spasm — and write a blog post.