Day 226, book, lunch, money, concert

Tuesday, 7/16/2019

In the morning I drove to the YMCA for some exercises. This strikes me ever more strongly as a waste of money. Especially so when, in the evening, I found a letter from the Y saying they were unable to process my monthly payment against the credit card on file. When I logged on to their site, which is apparently a new one to which all accounts have been recently transferred, I found the records in some disarray. First, they had the user’s name as Marian Cortesi. Marian may once have briefly had a Y membership but I’m dubious about that; and the access to the account was via my email address, not hers. Second, when I tried to update the account info, I was able to change the mailing address, but not the name. The account showed a list of four credit cards, all out of date. I was able to remove three of them, but the fourth–actually Marian’s old BofA card which should never have been in there–could not be removed because, the site claimed, a charge was pending against it. Well, duh, you can “pend” against that card as long as you like; it was cancelled six months ago and will never pay.

Thinking about it, I speculate that when the Y set up their new website, they merged a very old, inactive account of Marian’s with my current and active account. That would explain all the dead cards in the payment method list, and the use of her name with my email.

So I paid the pending amount using a different card (one that I am almost sure I gave them the last time they couldn’t charge a dead card, but it isn’t in this diary). But with pending balance 0, it still can’t delete that old card because of “open charges”. Bad website. I really need to transition to things I can do here in the C.H. fitness center. But still waiting on C.H. management to select a replacement fitness director.

Back to the unit, and now I was able to actually order two proof copies of the book from Amazon. They won’t arrive until next week, but, yay. Looking forward to that. I spent an hour doing classifications on Zooniverse. Then went out to lunch with Scott at Gombei, where I haven’t been since… Marian and I might have gone there once in 2018 but I’m thinking it was probably 2017. We used to go there on an occasional Sunday night when we felt like eating out, and most of our regular spots were closed.

At 2:30 I went down to the lobby to meet Deborah. We went up to the penthouse and sat down and went over the accounting from the sale. It was a very successful sale, in her opinion, and in mine. My net take from it, including the money that people paid me directly when they picked up the bed and the desk, was just slightly over $2,000. Deborah had brought my share of the weekend sale in cash! So there I was holding a wad of $1650, feeling like a drug dealer.

I thanked her profusely. She was fun to work with, honest, good-natured. And she saved me a ton of effort and stress. If I’d tried to price and sell all that stuff, oh what a job that would have been. She earned every penny of her share.

At 6 I went out to Stanford for a concert, one more in the Stanford Jazz Workshop series. This was “Sarah Reich’s Tap Into Jazz”. Here she is in performance. There were a few problems with this concert, not her fault. I see in the video she is wearing the same mic, but at Stanford she had consistent problems with it, going dead, or crackling when she moved. There was a video to introduce the show and whoever ran the projector had the sound up way too far, unpleasantly loud and distorted on the highs. And the floor of the stage at Campbell Recital Hall was not as resonant as a good tap floor should be. She soldiered on. The band, only a four-piece group, was tight. It was an OK show but for a fan of Gaby Diaz, just OK.


Day 219, realty and book

Tuesday, 7/9/2019

Started the day with a run, which felt not just normal but actually good. For an hour I worked on the book. Then it was time to drive to Tasso street to meet with Chuck.

There I met Sean, a tall, gangly guy with a wild blond hair and a gentle manner straight out of the 1960s. He’s employed by Deborah to house-sit for security. He’s been sleeping on the used McCroskey mattress and really likes it, so I suggested he talk to Deborah and buy it. (If he doesn’t, I’d just have to pay somebody to haul it.) When not house-sitting, Sean lives in the warehouse of a music store. He’s got a ten year old son in Munich and would love to go back to Germany, but he’s only just managed to qualify for SSI (bad back) and would lose it if he lived outside the U.S.

Aside from the mattress, there is very little left from the sale. All furniture is gone. The refrigerator is gone, and that pleases me; I had come to hate that refrigerator over the past six months and I’m glad it’s gone. Apparently they had trouble getting it out, having to remove not only the back door, but the refrigerator doors as well. But there’s a dusty space where it was. There’s yet another possible buyer for the washer/dryer coming Wednesday.

The only real surprise to me was that nobody wanted the Rorstrand dinner service. I really thought… well, what do I know. It was back on Day 6 that I started restoring it by ordering replacements for all the chipped plates. Then Denise didn’t want it. Just a surprise to me that nobody wants such a handsome, complete set. Well, I suppose it’s that anybody with a household, buys their dinner service early on, or gets it as a wedding present. And they don’t need another.

Chuck arrived and we went over the next steps. In order they are: To get Amy to take a quick look and decide what paint colors she wants; then to get the painting contractor scheduled. When the painting is done, or while it is done, get the area rugs removed. After the painting, to bring in a cleaner to polish the wood floors and clean everything. And then Amy does her staging. Last or nearly last will be to get Richard to apply a new layer of garden mulch, and maybe get someone in to power-wash the brick walks and porch.

Can all this get done in July? Doubtful, I think. Can it get done in August? It damn well better had, because on September 5 I am out of here for two weeks. I really, really want the house sale wrapped before September 1, and I need to push everyone for that.

After Chuck left, the guys from the fireplace contractor arrived, Jose and Noah. They opined that the only way to get electric ignition and a remote control, is to replace the burner and grate that is in place now. Their boss, Eric, is to send me a quote. They didn’t say how much it would be, but I’m predicting it will come in over $1200. Less than $2K I hope.

Back at C.H. I spent a couple more hours on the book. I resolved a nasty problem with cross-references. The publishing platform I’m using supports x-refs but I’m trying to use them within my end-notes file to do op.cit. references, that is, cross-references from inside one note, to another note. Their software wasn’t quite up to it, but I found a work-around and reported it on their user forum.

I am just about ready to generate a final, print-ready PDF, which I can then use to build a book on Kindle Direct or one of the other on-demand publishers, Lulu or Blurb. But I also need to prepare a separate PDF of the cover. To now, I’ve only needed a front cover because that’s all an e-text needs. But a print book needs also a graphic for the spine and the back cover. It will take a bit of creativity to generate those, working from the nice front-cover graphic I purchased way back when.

Ate supper alone at a table for one, reading, like a nerd. But dammit, by comparison, it is stressful to sit with other people and make conversation. Not difficult while I’m doing it, but in the moment of entering the seating area holding my plate of food, faced with the options of, A, going to one of the open tables and smiling and saying, mind if I sit here? and B, going to a small table on the side and sitting down alone and bringing out my phone and opening Kindle to read while I eat, well, A is more stressful and B, more relaxing. That’s being an introvert.


Day 217, half-busy Sunday

Sunday, 7/7/2019

As usual I wasn’t able to sleep past 6:15, but happily the Sunday paper was already under the door, half an hour ahead of the usual time. I made a cuppa and did the big crossword. Then I put the old subwoofer on the seat of the desk chair, and rolled the chair down the hall, into the elevator, through the maze to the garage and into the car.

I dropped the two items off at the Tasso street house, then went on to the old coffee shop in Midtown. I got there just as the cinnamon rolls were coming out of the oven.


There’s a nice Sunday morning, coffee and a cinnamon roll warm from the oven.

My plan was to go to Target to buy the stool mentioned yesterday, but I expected Target wouldn’t be open until, what, ten or so? But I got out Maps and checked and, hey! Target had just opened, at 8am! So off I went to Target in Mountain View, and by 9am I was back to C.H. with the stool in its flat box.

Now I started my laundry going, and then assembled the new stool and tried it out.

IMG_3828It is the correct height, and later in the day I spent about 3 hours all told sitting at the computer, and it was comfortable.

So by lunch time I had delivered items to Tasso, bought a stool, assembled it, and finished my laundry. I was going to the elevator in a happy glow of accomplishment and fell in with Craig and Diane on their way to lunch, and they invited me to sit with them. Nancy and Tom joined us later.

In the afternoon I finished editing chapter 8 and then edited chapter 9 of the book. One more chapter and I can generate a new PDF. After a few quality checks, I will be able to start the print-ready process through Kindle Direct, so that might happen next week.

I spent some time watching tutorial videos for my new favorite photo software, Affinity, and spent a little time with a game before retiring to the living room to watch TV.


Day 214, a walk, grief, fireworks

Thursday, 7/4/2019

Good night’s sleep, pleasant quiet morning. Edited two more chapters of the book, then at 10am decided to go for a walk somewhere. Where? Some years ago we had a nice outing in Edgewood Park, on the west edge of Redwood City. However, this being a holiday, no doubt the parking lot will be full already, so: take a Lyft. Which I did.

Edgewood park’s trails all start with a stiff climb of about 300 or 400 feet. I do not think Marian could have managed those anytime in this century, so my memory of a pleasant outing there must date back to the 90s. Today was one more in a series of just beautiful days, temperatures in the low 70s, clear and sunny. I went up the hills in decent style, feeling normally strong.

After an hour or so, I called a Lyft and headed back, in time for a special lunch here, barbecue on the patio. Very decent ribs. Got invited to sit with Nancy, Tom and Karen, all retired from the medical field, working at Stanford or PAMF, I’m not sure which.

Played my space game for a couple hours (it’s wearing thin, I think I’ll toss it), and then Deborah texted with a picture: do you want the stuff in this drawer?


What the heck drawer is that? She was working at the house, so I went over to see. It was a shallow drawer in the top of the bedroom cabinet that I’d simply overlooked. Apparently Marian had used it as the place to keep… stuff she didn’t want to throw away. Mostly SWBB memorabilia, but quite a few other things, like the wrap-around sunglasses she used for a while, and her Stanford Blood Center Volunteer badge with its 750 hours endorsement. Deborah suggested I bag it all and sort it later, which I did.

Back at C.H. I went through it and set aside a few items as meaningful to me, like the orange button, “Croix de Candlestick”, for surviving an extra-innings night baseball game there, and some other pins. Several things seemed particularly meaningful for Marian’s life, and I put them in the box of her memorabilia I created some months ago. The rest went into the trash.

During all of that I was sniffling. I haven’t mentioned grief much in the past couple of months. That’s because it has not been a common problem. It hits at widely separated intervals, triggered by quite unpredictable events. This was an obvious one. But anything that recalls the life we used to have, the comfortable, interesting life of “Dave’n’Marian”, is cause for a deep wave of regret. I’m not going to compare my present, very comfortable life to that one; they exist in completely separate compartments. They aren’t commensurable. But the old life is gone forever, and every once in a while I get reminded of that and get a spasm of emotion.

I also still get occasional, brief twinges of the anxiety that I noted in the first weeks. I’m pretty sure it is based in the fact that for 45 years I had a smart, diligent person double-checking me and calling me on my bullshit and catching my oversights. Nobody around to do that now. What am I forgetting to do in a timely fashion? Well, actually, nothing. Nothing I’m aware of, anyway — but that’s rather the point, isn’t it?

So the transition continues.  Later tonight C.H. gathered on the 11th floor deck to watch fireworks in all directions. I stayed at the party for a few minutes, had a delicious rootbeer float (thanks to the Fourth Floor which were the nominal hosts) and looked at distant sparkles. But it was chilly out on the open deck, and crowded inside the penthouse, so I went back to my room. Not without some guilt; I really should stay up there and “network” but I don’t feel like it.

Distant artillery noises–the sound of a distant fireworks show travels better than the light–continued until 11pm.


Day 208, washer, docent, dinner, play

Friday, 6/28/2019

Started the day with a run, ending at yet another coffee shop: Mademoiselle Collette, which Harriet has praised a couple of times. Cappuccino: good. Pastries: legit. I had a Koign Amman, a pastry I first had on our French vacation several years ago. This one was pretty close to the real thing. The only drawback to the place is its small size; it is basically a 20×20 foot cube, about the size of my apartment, and noisy. There are pleasant seats outside, however, and I may try those for Sunday morning.

Next official thing on the calendar was a docent tour, but about 9 I got a phone call from “Tarla”, the person who was supposed to look at the washing machine at 2pm. Could she send George her handyman to look at it now? Oh, sigh, I suppose so. I drove over to Tasso street to meet George who came up in his pickup truck from San Jose. He was tasked by Tarla with making sure the washing machine functioned, and taking it away if so. However, Tarla and he appear not to be the greatest planners. She hadn’t told him it hadn’t been paid for. When I said, the price is $100, he was taken aback, then said, ok, he could pay me and get it from Tarla. Then he looked at the washer and while I was making it run through its cycles, I pointed out that it weighed well over 200 pounds, and he didn’t have a dolly, so how was he alone going to get it up my gravel driveway to his truck, and without a lift gate, how would he load it?

He talked at length to Tarla, who sounded like a confused drama queen on the phone and seemed to want to blame him and/or me for the mixup. Anyway, no sale, and George went off to try to get Tarla to pay him for his mileage and time. Best of luck with that, George.

My docent tour group was the smallest ever, just one couple. Very nice people but it was weird talking to just two. I am so used to projecting my voice to lecture to a dozen or more. I had to back off, and use a conversational voice, and generally lower the pitch of my presentation. But they enjoyed it.

Dinner was a date with Betsy and her husband George. She has the task of introducing new residents at the monthly Residents’ Meeting which is a week from Monday. She quizzed me at length on my work history etc. We were joined at table by Bob. Bob retired from running Stanford’s overseas campus in Germany for many years. All these people are over-achievers, I feel very… modest. Kind of like when I went from high school ace to being just an average one of the herd in college.

A little after 7pm I made the ten-minute walk to Lucy Stern center to see A man with two guv’ners by the Palo Alto Players. I saw a production of The servant of two masters, the classic by Golden, some years ago. This is a modern version, updated from medieval Venice to 1963 England, and played with lots of bravura slapstick physical comedy and bad British accents. It was pretty entertaining.


Day 207, Shustek, Tasso

Thursday, 6/27/2019

I drove to Shustek for a day of photographing artifacts and then, when the “ready to pack” shelves were full so we couldn’t place any more photographed items, Sherman and I turned to packing.

Deborah was to do some pricing and setup for the sale this afternoon. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to work Chuck’s lockbox. She called me, then she called Chuck, and found out the changed combination, so all was well.

I stopped by Tasso on the way home, but she’d already left. I chatted briefly with neighbors across the street. Former neighbors, I guess.

Back at C.H., while getting my mail before supper I was accosted by Betsy, who has the job of introducing new members at the members meeting, one of which happens next week. So she invited me to dinner with her and her husband tomorrow to get some material for introducing me.

Before bedtime Deborah texted wanting me to meet with a possible washing machine buyer tomorrow. I’m doing a docent tour at noon, but we managed to settle on 2pm for that. So tomorrow has: tour at noon, washing machine looker at 2, dinner at 5:45, and I’m going to a play at 8pm. Checked the map. From my new home, I’m just 0.6 mile from Lucy Stern center where the play is, an easy walk.

Big day, better get some rest.

Day 202, docent, washing machine, dinner

Saturday, 6/22/2019

On the way down to breakfast about 8am I ran into Craig, who pointed out that my painting was now properly hung opposite the lounge door. Later I wrote to Dean Linsky and sent this picture. He wrote back later, appreciative of the note and that the painting wouldn’t be sold.


Today I am scheduled to lead the noon tour at the museum. I put on my red shirt and head out at 10:30. I stop at the post office, but it isn’t open for receiving packages on Saturday, so I can’t mail the DVR.

Scott showed up to take my tour. We started with over 20 people. At least 5 wandered away, but the rest seemed to enjoy it. Just after I finished up, Deborah called to say someone wanted to see the washing machine and dryer, could I show it at 3pm? Oh, yeah, sure. I drove back to C.H., changed clothes, picked up the house key, and drove to Tasso street. A very charming couple showed up; they are moving into a rental that, they think, doesn’t have a washer/dryer. They approve of mine, and went away to talk to their landlady. Later in the evening, Deborah texts that they won’t be taking the machines after all.

At this point it was 3:30. In the morning I’d used Google Maps to make a list of all the local furniture stores. I’m determined to find a pleasing, open bookcase to display some objects and my few books. I can exactly picture what, in college, I would have built out of glass blocks and planks. Now I decide to drive to the southernmost of my list, Cost Plus. I remember visiting Cost Plus with Marian several times, although I don’t recall what specifically we ever bought there.

55782_XXX_v1This time, they have one that is almost exactly what I want. The only problem with it is the shelves are only about 10 inches high, and my taller books won’t fit. They could be on top, held by a heavy pair of bookends I have, but I am going to keep looking.

I headed back to C.H. where I’d been invited to join Patti and Craig for dinner. We sat for over an hour chatting, that was nice.


Day 199, gym, tidy up, counters, FOPAL, furniture

Wednesday, 6/19/2019

Between breakfast and time to leave for the museum at 10:30, I totally blitzed a bunch of unsorted stuff. Weeks ago I cleaned out the desk by moving all sorts of office and stationery items, also some electronics and things like cameras, into the drawers of a tall narrow chest. Plus there was a big box of office supplies of various sorts.  Now I went through all of that.

toffee and biscuit tins at work

I populated the two “desk” drawers, shallow drawers at the top of the file cabinet that sits under the drawer-less computer desk, with the usual things, neatly arranged. Back in 1975-77 when we lived in England, we accumulated the cute little tins that the Brits sell candy in. They make perfect little drawer organizers.

I moved often-used printer supplies into the little table the printer sits on. I put lesser-needed supplies and such into drawers in the tall chest, but more rationally organized.

Then I cleared off the plywood counters in the bathroom and kitchenette in hopes the real counters would be installed today — and in fact, just as I was ready to leave, the guys with the counter tops arrived!

I joined the other docent named Dave to lead tours for a group of Berkeley students. Not the usual Comp. Sci. class, rather a group of Swedish exchange students doing graduate studies in management. So older, and not quite as tech-y as some student groups. Older, but not old enough. When I hold up a vacuum tube and say, hands up who knows what this is, not one one hand went up.

The 1401 team was there early and volunteered to give this class their demo when Dave and I finished our tours, so the Swedes got the full deal. They seemed appreciative.

Then I got some lunch, and changed clothes (I didn’t want to wear my fire-engine red docent shirt to FOPAL, and brought a Tee and jeans) and went to sort books. When I signed out at 4:15, I was honestly bushed. I stopped by Tasso street to look for the indoor/outdoor thermometer, but it wasn’t there. It must be packed in one of the 2 boxes I’ve not opened yet — I hope.

On arrival home I found my Corian counter tops installed, but still no sinks or faucets.

There is a possibility that a guy will want to look at and maybe buy the sofa tonight, and I really hope he cancels. I don’t want to go out again. As soon as I had settled in to writing this and relaxing, a man arrived to install the sinks and faucets. Then Harry, the guy who borrowed my old Kodak carousel projector, called to ask if he could come return it. So it’s a three-ring circus around here.

Deborah texted; Tony wants to pick up the sofa. So I grabbed a quick supper and went back to Tasso street. Forgetting to bring the front-door key. Oh, wait, the secret back door key stash is still there, I think. Yup, so I could get in. And now have moved the secret back door key to the bag with the other keys, so that won’t work again.

Tony took the sofa and one chair and the ottoman, but couldn’t or wouldn’t spring another $100 to get the second chair. Off he went and I went home to find both my sinks and faucets in. But the kitchen sink has a slow leak around the trap, so there’s that to fix.

Craig called to set up his formal floor-manager interview with me. And finally it was the end of a long day!




Day 180, dining table exit, real estate

Friday, 5/31/2019

I went for the usual run in the morning. I don’t recollect now (24 hours later) what I did to pass the time until the scheduled feature of the day, the arrival of the people who’ve bought my dining table and chairs (day 164). They showed a bit ahead of time and we loaded the table, the two leaves, and the six chairs into their rather large SUV. It all fit well, and off they went.

I felt a bit emotional about seeing this furniture go, but not as much as I feared I might. It was one of the first things Marian and I bought together, but I cannot now remember the actual buying of it. I’m sure it came, like most of our furniture, from Danish Concepts or some similar Scandinavian-flavor place. The round table occupied the center of our octagonal dining room for about 40 years. At least 15 years ago the table top had accumulated some scratches, and we sent it out to be refinished.

The leaves got little use. For maybe 20 years, through the 90s, we hosted a party of five every other month when we would meet with the Kellehers and our mutual friend Randy. To set for five required putting in one of the leaves. I have a couple of pictures of times we hosted Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner for more people, and put in both leaves to seat eight or nine, but those were rare events, a dozen times at most.

After Randy died we continued to alternate months between our house and the Kelleher’s but with only four diners, no leaf was needed. For the last few years, since the Kellehers moved into a retirement home, we didn’t do any hosting, and only used the table as a convenient place to set things. We ate our own meals in the living room, watching TV.

Once the table was gone, I proceeded with the plan I’d had in mind for a week, since Deb texted to say the table was sold and would go on this day. Namely, I moved all the boxes of furniture I’ve bought for the new apartment, into the dining room, and stacked the other things I’ve already packed for my move on them. It makes one compact cubical heap about 4 foot on a side. That cleared out the spare room, and there I have collected all the things that are also going with me but which need professional packing by the movers, art work and such.

During this Chuck texted to say that Lawyer Lady’s agent had been in touch. Her client has apparently been working 20 hours a day on a major project at her law firm and hasn’t had time to ponder our counter-offer; could they have through Sunday? Sure, no problem. And also, she would like to visit the house one more time with her friend the decorator. Could they do that today at 4? Yeah no prob.

So I tidied up a bit, and left the house at 3:30. I sat for a while in the car near Peers Park, then drove over to CH and sat reading in the lobby until the dining room opened at 5:30. After supper I came on home.

In the evening Jean emailed to ask if I would be willing to drive her to the wedding of Robert Lacrampe. Robert is probably late 20s, early 30s? He is the youngest child of Pierre Lacrampe, Marian’s and Jean’s cousin. I last really interacted with him when he was a teenager. I remember him as a cheerful and intelligent kid who liked to pronounce his name the French way, hhhrrro-BEAR.

Anyway he is getting married on July 20 in Calistoga. Ceremony at 5, then “cocktails (formal)”, then dinner. Google maps says 2:30 to 3:00 hours drive time on a Saturday. That means a 1pm departure for me, pick up Jean, drive to Calistoga, and even if we skip the dinner and leave after an hour of schmoozing, probably a twelve hour round trip, 5-6 hours of driving. Plus, I no longer have a suit; and if I have a necktie I probably don’t have a good shirt to wear it on. Nearest I can get to “formal” is a brown sport coat with gray slacks and a black turtleneck.

Well, I spelled this out to Jean in an email, not saying “no”, just saying here’s the deal. We’ll see.



Day 172, Shustek, room divider

Thursday, 5/23/2019

Drove over to Shustek for a day of cataloging. Only notable item was a Kuri robot, a cute little thing made by a Redwood City startup that unfortunately didn’t achieve much in the way of sales and terminated after a year.

In the midst of cataloging, Deborah the sale lady called. She wants to pick up the big room divider/media stand. She and her daughter came by in two cars, and with some effort we moved the three pieces of the stand into them. She took a few other things and gave me my share in cash. This is not at all a money-making proposition. I look at what we paid for these things in the home inventory that Marian carefully maintained, and stuff is selling about 10 cents on the dollar. No capital gains to report for sure.

I think I’ll double up the Kiva chocolates tonight: 10mg/10mg. Later: 90 minutes after taking two of the choc. squares I feel: nothing unusual. I’m yawning, but I always do this time of night. Hmph.