Day 127, history triage

Monday, 4/9/2019

Began with a run, 37 minutes, felt good. At home, suddenly wondered, all those paper manuscripts from the 80s — don’t I have those on disk? Sure, I must do. They were computer files right from the start, typed into Word Perfect under CP/M and saved on 8-inch floppy disks. At some time in the 90s, I remember getting ready to shut down my CP/M system for the last time, and cobbling up a serial connection from it to my then-new Mac, and moving the files across. I must still have these files.

And of course, I do, or most of them. They are sitting quietly in the Documents folder on the Mac. One story appears to be missing, and one major fragment. I’ll key those in today. Then I can recycle all the paper. I plan to keep paper only of the two stories that sold to a major magazine, along with the copies of the magazine itself.

Next project: dumping the slides. I decided to take some pictures of this process. Concentrating on that helped avoid excess emotion.


The slides more than filled the can and the slides from the last boxes went into bags.

pics_in_canSo that’s done. Major check-mark on the to-do list. Major milestone in The Transition.

There remains a large shelf of saved memorabilia that I need to triage but I think I will wait on that until tomorrow. I am really close to being done with clean-outs; close to the point where I could walk through the house filling a few boxes and pointing to a few bits of furniture to be packed, and know that everything else is for the sale.

Today I am going to type in two stories that I want to preserve digitally, and then go have a look at FOPAL, make sure the Computer section is squared away for the sale this weekend.

Later: I did type in one of the stories. Of course as I was entering it, I couldn’t help myself improving it with lots of little tweaks. So I made the copyright line, “Copyright 1986, 2019 David E. Cortesi” which is kind of cool.


Day 126, quiet Sunday

Sunday, 4/7/2019

Breakfast and newspaper as usual. Spent a couple hours looking through the last of the 1985-6 science fiction manuscripts. I was surprised to find that I had during that time worked out in great detail a mostly-water world I called Pelajis. Twenty-five years later I restarted a book based on that world and as best I recall, I did not refer back to the prior notes at that time. That half-finished novel is still an open project, one of two I mean to return to when my living arrangements are stabilized later this year.

Went to a Stanford Baseball game. Here I very foolishly completely misjudged the weather. I had worn a long-sleeved pullover and a sweater going to and from the coffee shop at 8am. Now I kept the long-sleeved shirt on, put on a straw hat, and went to the game where, sitting in full sun, I was pouring sweat after two innings. I got up and moved to stand at the back in minimal shade but that wasn’t comfortable, so after another two innings, I left. I am just not invested in this Stanford team yet to be interested in their efforts for their own sakes. Since I’ve paid for the season pass I’ll keep attending.

Back home, I finished fiddling with the scanned slides on the computer. I made sure they were all properly keyworded, meaning that for instance, the names of the people and places in them appear in the keyword meta-data of the JPG file. I moved them to their appropriate folders by group name. I forced a backup of the disk. I went on to our SmugMug online gallery and uploaded the new images that hadn’t been uploaded before. That completes the effort to capture and digitize our photographic history.

Tomorrow the physical slides go.



Day 125, old stuff, museum, tools

Saturday, 4/6/2019

To kill time before going to the museum for the 12:00 tour, I read some more of my saved

work from 1985.

Parts are good; really good in fact. Unfortunately what I was good at, was working out the details of story backgrounds, the speculative technology and economy of some future time. I had worked out in detail what it might be like if there were human colonies on multiple nearby stars, with communications by laser, but physical transport only at small fractions of light-speed. Why would anyone travel, when a trip might mean being in a suspended animation pod for 40 years? I thought out a lot of unusual consequences.

Or, what’s a practical technology that allows regular passenger travel around our solar system? What would travel times be like; what would a passenger ship be like? I came up with some (I think) quite original ideas, worked them out in detail, and actually started what might be a young-adult story centering on such a trip. I’m keeping these notes, not tossing them.

Another folder is labeled “Fragments!” These were a writing exercise, to write the opening paragraphs of a story you’d like to read. Here’s one, a conventional story set in my birth-land of wet fir trees and tidal inlets:

The carcass of a frozen salmon made an awkward club; even so, Leslie managed three good swings with it before she lost her footing on the wet  dock and fell sprawling amidst the shiny black shoes of the Sheriff and two deputies.

As I raced out toward them — the dock was linked floats that plunged and sloshed under my feet — I could see flashes of Leslie, a rubber boot, an arm in a maroon sweatshirt, behind a cage of khaki trouser-legs. Sheriff Townes was closing the second handcuff on her wrist as I reached the group.

“Tricky, they’re taking my boat!” she wailed as the deputies hauled her to her feet.

Would you like to read the rest of that story? So would I! but I had, and still have, absolutely no idea where it could go from there.

I tried fantasy as well. This one shows a strong influence of Samuel R. Delaney’s Return to Nevèrÿon series, which was new at the time:

Across a sodden field, a scrawl in black ink against a sky of plum and smoke, was a bare tree full of doves. The distant flock of them suddenly leapt into the air; their flutter caught Franla’s eye. As he turned to watch it, the spring wind threw a net of raindrops to patter on his leather hood and sting his bare calves. A line of riders was entering the field below the whirling doves. Some wore armor.

I carried that one on for another thousand words: Franla has just sold a flock of cattle to a dealer; he turns back to the village to warn the dealer and help hide the flock from being requisitioned for army rations. Hijinks ensue — or would have, could I have thought of any. But plot, actions, just came extremely hard for me. I hated sitting at the keyboard, cudgeling my wits trying to think up what happens next. Scenery? No problem. Future tech, future economies, even interesting people, all came easily and I could describe them in readable prose. But what those people would do in those settings — nunh-unh. And that’s what fiction requires.

So off to the museum to lead the

noon tour.

Yesterday I had a group of four; today it was over 30, although as usual with a big group, some peeled off early so I ended up with about 25 at the end, and they seemed appreciative.

Back home I found

a letter from Bernadine,

who had been looking through her mother Lolly’s photo collection and found several that featured Marian, from times in the 60s (probably) when she went camping with Lolly and her family in Yosemite. I had seen one of these in a tweet, and asked to see more. Bern enclosed the pics with a SASE.

I sat down at my computer and scanned them, touched them up, put them in the big folder of scans from last week (which I need to deal with shortly, so I can trash the slides). While the scanner was buzzing away I read another story from my 1985 work. I had completely forgotten that I placed two stories with Amazing Science Fiction magazine. I re-read the second one right from the pages of that issue of the magazine and damn, it was good. I re-read the manuscript of another, which was also very promising but unfortunately, was never finished. I still don’t know how to end it.

I copied the scans onto an SD card and included it in the return envelope with the pictures. Then I turned to another job,

triaging my tool collection

and putting the ones to keep into the new toolbox. This only took a couple of hours. Where I had duplicates, I put the more worn or rusty one in the old toolbox. Also there, tools for jobs I expect never to do again, like a plumber’s wrench, or an automotive 12-volt continuity checker.

Everything remaining is items I can imagine using when volunteering at a Repair Café or fixing some small item of my own. The new toolbox with everything in it weighs 38.4 pounds. I can schlep it but I wouldn’t want to schlep it far.

Somewhere in there I refilled the hummingbird feeders. Just about 1 cup of sugar remains in the canister, so the next refill will be the last.


Day 124, finances, docent, cleanup

Friday, 4/6/2019

Began with a run, which makes this the first week in a long time when I’ve actually run three times, M-W-F, which is my nominal goal. I cut the route a little short because of impending rain, but still, over 30 minutes of jogging.

Spent a little more time going through the box of old notes and files from my career as a free-lancer in the 1980s. Most significant were the notes and other items from my attendance at Clarion West, a six-week residential science fiction writer’s workshop. I took some very nice pictures of my classmates, who I now barely remember. I had saved notes from talks by several visiting lecturers, established authors like Norman Spinrad and Suzy McKee Charnas. The primary thing I now remember from that intense six-week immersion in writing and critiquing is that it ruined me for reading for enjoyment for a long time. It was more than a decade before I could pick up a science fiction book, or any fiction book really, and just read it. Well, it also taught me that I didn’t have what it takes to write fiction, although that didn’t stop me trying (and hasn’t yet).

Next up, I sat down with my laptop and updated the Portfolio spreadsheet I created on Day 31. This meant opening the Schwab month-end statements for the four remaining accounts (two accounts for Marian’s IRA now having been merged into mine), and copying figures from them into the spreadsheet.

This was the final thing that I had been using Marian’s iMac for. I have demonstrated that I can use Godot to open all financial websites and update the portfolio info, so the machine on Marian’s desk is now superfluous. The obvious next steps are to format its disk, and  put it into the nice Apple return box that’s waiting on the floor by the desk. I stuck the Mac OS boot USB stick into a USB port on the back of it and then stopped. I was starting to cry, and damn it I have to go and do a Docent tour in an hour.

This shit is not getting easier with time and practice. Bleagh.

I went to the museum and led the noon tour. Attendance was light and my tour group had just four people!

On return I spent some time reading more of my writing from that mid-80s period when I tried to be a science fiction writer. I did some good thinking then, and came up with some interesting ideas. What I didn’t produce was any good characters or plots. Nor do I like the prose style I was using to describe my ideas, stuffy, pseudo-academic.

Driving to and from the museum I was recalling how Marian would have felt about my sentimental regard for her computer. I believe she would have said, “That’s pretty silly.” So, channeling her pragmatic personality, I booted the iMac from an install USB stick and formatted its drive. Then I packed it up. The Apple return program provides very nicely designed packaging with a clear instruction sheet. It took five minutes to have the machine securely boxed up and ready to go.

I got an email from Channing House: my walk-through and meeting with Angela, the manager for upgrades, will happen at 10am Tuesday. After that I should know for sure when I can start moving in.

I planned to go to a Stanford Baseball game starting at 6pm, leaving at 5:15. To pass the time I read the first three chapters of On the Road and for fun, read it aloud, which suits Kerouac’s prose. Then I left, stopping at the FedEx office to drop off the iMac.

I stayed at the game to the seventh-inning stretch, but the Candlestick-like chill had me shivering and yawning so I left with Stanford ahead 1-0, listening to the game on KZSU going home and at home. The rubberized drawer liner I ordered was on the porch, so I lined the drawers of the new toolbox while Stanford got ahead 2-0, and then UCLA tied the game in the top of the ninth. Now it’s after 9pm, and the bottom of the ninth, and I’m so glad I left early… ok, it’s a tie game, bottom of the ninth, two on, two out, full count. Here’s your live play by play: foul… ball four. Bases loaded, winning run at third. Ball. Ball. 2-0 count, hit into left, it drops! Stanford wins, 3-2.

Still glad I left.

Day 123, trash, Yosemite, trash

Thursday, 4/4/2019

In the hour before it was time to leave for a day at the Yosemite warehouse, I completed clearing those two shelves from the shop. Carted 50 copies of Secular Wholeness to the blue bin along with some other books, and wheeled it to the curb. That book was my first effort at self-publishing, and I ordered 50 copies. I had some notion that I’d be asked to give talks and could sell books at those talks. I did give one talk and sold a couple of copies. That was it; and the rest sat on the shelf for fifteen years.

Also cleared out about 50 CD-ROMs of old pictures. In the years after 2004 or so, when our photography was fully digital, I’d load the images on my computer. Then we’d cull them jointly, on the screen. Marian, always practical, assumed that the rejected pictures would be dragged to the trash can. Me, I was always worried I’d want to go back and recover something. So after the group of images was all organized into a folder, I would burn all the rejected image files onto a CD-ROM and save it in the shop. All those discs of rejected images went in the black can. I saved the jewel cases, thinking a pile of jewel cases might sell in the estate sale.

After I dragged the roller cans to the curb for pickup tomorrow morning, I went in the house and had a few minutes of emotion. Actual crying, sobs and sniffles and all. Crying over “shards of the old life, going away,” in the phrase I came up with back on Day 15.

All those saved checks, saved pay stubs, saved books, saved image files — records that we never once referred to over the years — what was the point of curating that collection? I think now we were (unconsciously) trying to make a monument to our lives, something that proved we were here, we were competent, we behaved in a laudable way. That nonverbal message was the only possible value for that stuff.

Now, throwing it all away, I was grieving for a life that is over. Not Marian’s life, although her death precipitated this clean-out, but the comfortable, stable, quiet, mediocre life that we crafted for ourselves for forty-odd years. The life’s gone, and the evidence of it, that we had so carefully organized and hoarded, is on the way to the landfill. And that reveals just how pathetically sad and futile it was to save it in the first place, which is another good reason for crying.

Well. That’s a lot of navel-gazing for 8:30am. Off to Yosemite for a day of cataloging and other museum scut-work. On the way home I detoured to Lowes in Sunnyvale, because last night I found they carried a toolbox that is about 30% bigger than the one I have now. Brought that home,unboxed it, looked at it. It’s ok but the metal drawers need lining. Ordered rubberized drawer liner from Amazon Prime, to be delivered tomorrow. We live in a wonderful world in some ways.

Then I started going through a big old box of files from my days as a free-lance writer in the 1980s. Found some reviews of, and ads for, my early books. I tucked those under the covers of the single copies of the books that I set aside yesterday.

I found a program that I’d designed, coded, and documented in 1978, while working in England. That was a fun read.


Day 121, life is just packed

Tuesday, 4/2/2019

I am four months along as a widower. Yesterday I had a mailing from Pathways, the company that handled Marian’s Hospice period. They have sent several supportive post-mortem mailings over the months. This one had a particularly accurate section, headed “Grief Bursts”:

Grief bursts strike like a lightening bolt. You are driving, listening to the radio when a song comes on that you both liked, grief grips your heart, tears sting your eyes, and you wonder what hit you. Grief bursts may be more disorienting to those who have gone back to their normal round of activities and who feel “okay” some of the time… By acknowledging these feelings as normal you can recognize the progress you have made…

Case in point: Today was walking back from the gym and for no particular reason started deleting unwanted photos from my phone as I walked along. Lots of casual pointless pics over the past few months, delete, delete, … and then I hit the last couple I took of Marian, and choked up. And a few minutes later I walked in the front door and noticed the big box that is the Apple return box for her iMac.

Yesterday I carefully used Godot to visit the sites that I’ve been using her iMac to visit these past months: Chase credit card, Schwab, and the credit union. It’s been very convenient to just go to her desk and use her machine which “knew” all the passwords and filled them in. But now I’ve got all the passwords on LastPass on Godot, and have verified Godot to those sites (they all wanted two-factor authentication for a visit from an unfamiliar machine). That makes the iMac now superfluous. I can box it up and send it back and soon will receive an Apple gift card worth $250.

Between those two things, seeing those last pictures, and the prospect of disposing of her iMac, I am now an emotional wreck, quivering lip, sniffles, the works.

I’ll be fine. Onward.

Got an email from designer


she can’t join me Friday to look over the C.H. unit, which is probably just as well because I wasn’t positive I could make that happen anyway. Replied asking if she would have time next week.

Got an email from Chuck; his retired office manager has recommended a woman,


who might be willing to manage an estate sale for me. I called Debra’s number and had to leave a message.

Got a reply from

the Attorney,

who didn’t seem to have read the details attached to my message, just asked “who is your accountant” and what number to call me on. Since she has received (1) an email from my accountant and (2) an email from me mentioning said accountant and including the text of their first email, I kind of wonder at her reading skills. But anyway, I replied politely with my phone number.

All this before 11am, such a life I lead.

Suli arrived about 12:30 and we talked about how she will probably come one more time, maybe two. Then I packed up two laptops in the Apple return boxes (but not the iMac yet) and headed out for a round of errands. Errand one was to drop off the two MacBooks at FedEx.

Errand two was to stop at the local hardware store and see what they had in the way of

tool chests.

I need a somewhat bigger tool chest. I have a small three-drawer chest that I’ve owned for decades, which holds the essential fixing stuff; I schlep it to the Repair Cafe sessions. But there are some more tools that won’t fit into it. For The Transition to Smaller Quarters (does that work as an acronym? TTSQ?) I want to, one, triage my tools, and two, fit them into one portable chest. The current chest, which is 19x9x8, is just too small, as well as having a broken latch. So I spent time on Amazon last night shopping. Finally thought I’d see what the one remaining local hardware store has (damn, but I miss Orchard Supply). They had basically nothing, some cheap plastic thing. So back to the internet for that.

Errand three was to run down to

Jean’s place

and drop off a thumb drive with a selection of the pictures from the recent slide-scanning orgy, pictures that I thought she’d want in her collection. Her news was that she’d received the printed and bound copies of volume 3 of the history of St. Joseph’s Parish in Mountain View. This is the church she and Bill attended for decades. Bill initiated the project of producing a parish history back in 2006 and did the first two volumes. He had a lot of material toward the third at his death in 2016. Jean’s been working on it ever since, and is very happy and proud to have it finished and done with.

Back home another email arrived: congratulations, you have been

officially approved

for residence at Channing House! Please make an appointment to walk through unit 621 with our Renovation Coordinator, Angela. All right! I reply promptly with my availability,  which is tomorrow and Friday.

I think I’ll close this entry now; that’s quite enough news for one day.


Day 119, art, visits

Sunday, 3/31/2019

Coffee and newspaper at the usual place. On impulse, I purchased a “cappuccino card”, a discount card where the last two of twelve drinks are “free”. Then I wondered, will I really be back here for twelve more cappuccinos? Or, if I’m living a mile-plus distant at C.H., might I come back here for Sunday mornings anyway, or would I find a nearer coffee shop? Transitions: breaking old habits, or adapting them. Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANges! Thank you David Bowie, back in your box.

At 10:30 drove to Menlo Park to meet with Darlene and Jessea, who had invited me to join them looking at an exhibit of Ansel Adams photos being auctioned to benefit the Sempervirens fund. There were about 20, pretty much the gamut of Adams’ standard subjects, breaking waves, Sierra mountains, trees. It all seems very familiar now; partly because we’ve seen his pictures over and over, and partly because we all take these same pictures now, over and over. Adams showed everybody how to see these things, what to look for through the viewfinder, and the views are now clichés. But for any cliché, somebody had to coin it.

We talked about the technology changes. Take this shot, his Timber Cove breaking wave,


He did this with a big old wooden box on a tripod and a plate. How many very expensive 8×10 negs did he expose? Mind you, he wouldn’t have known what he had before he was back in the darkroom. (And maybe he didn’t go out to shoot a breaking wave; maybe he was there for the rocks, but back in the darkroom, he discovered he’d gotten lucky.)

Today, you’d sit on the same bluff with your digital camera, trying to time the waves, click, look at the back of the camera, nope, that wave doesn’t perfectly echo the shape of the rocks, do another — until you had the right one. And walk back to the car with your camera with its 128GB micro-SD card capable of holding a year’s worth of zillion-megapixel images, in your pants pocket.

So we had lunch at Anne’s Cafe, a throwback to the 1950s, which they enjoyed, talking about cameras and slides. Darlene and Jessea have the same problem as I, with thousands of slides, and not sure what to do with them. We talked about scanning, and they came back to the house and I showed them how I did slide scanning, which was fun for me anyway. But it emerged that they have a bigger problem in that their slides are nowhere near as well organized as mine were. They don’t have a catalog file saying what every slide is, organized by groups. More like, organized by rubber bands and shoe boxes. So just as they were leaving I remembered something: the slide sorter Marian used. A collapsing box, that opens to support a translucent screen with a bulb behind it, so you can move slides around, arrange and cull them in a batch. It would be worth nothing in an estate sale (not many buyers would even know what it was), but they could use it. So I pulled it from the back of the closet and handed it over.

Later in the day I ran the recorded game, #2 Oregon vs. #1 seed Mississippi State. Oregon won, and will face UConn in the Final Four on Friday. I have no plan to go to Tampa, but if Stanford should (against all odds) sneak by Notre Dame… nah. Probably not.




Day 114, mental exam, slides, art

Stanford gave its fans two agonizing quarters, seeming to be unable to penetrate the BYU zone defense while hitting exactly one of their first 12 three-point shots. Then in the third quarter they found their defense and offense at once, and put on a 17-2 run to take over the game. On to Chicago to play Missouri State and then, hopefully, Notre Dame.

Tuesday, 3/26/2019

First up today was an appointment with Dr. Melissa Frederick, the C.H. medical director. She’s a cheerful, young (by my standards) woman, very pleasant to talk to. This turned out to be mostly a brief test of my mental acuity. For example, in the next one minute, name as many words as you can think of, that start with the letter ‘F’. I thought that was quite a challenge; I could only think of 15. Turns out, eleven was enough. Phew.

Later I got an email saying I had passed. So, ok. Now only waiting for approval of my financial documents.

Back home I waited to see if Tyra, Chris’s designer niece, would call as I’d scheduled at 12. Meanwhile I finished inspecting the Japan slide group, and started scanning them. One more session will finish that job. When Tyra hadn’t called at 2, I figured, ok, so much for that. Then it occurred to me to wonder if I really sent that email. Um… no. Still in “drafts” 😳. So I changed it to say, call me Wednesday between 11-12 and actually clicked Send. Tyra responded shortly after.

Bored, I started walking around the house collecting all the art works I want to take along, and identifying those I could. One is a print we bought in San Juan Island around 2000. We liked it as an excellent rendering of the look of the Puget Sound as we often saw it from the Washington State Ferry boats.IMG_3651The name “Spaulding” is on the bottom margin. A little googling found a married couple of printmakers of that name, on San Juan. I emailed them enclosing a snap like the above, asking to verify it was theirs. (Note from November: they never replied.)

I also cleared out another couple of shelves of storage from the shop.

Day 113, jewelry, FOPAL, basketball

Monday, 3/25/2019

Began the week with a run, 40 minutes of my 4.5mph pace, felt just fine. I had a list of things to get done. One was that Louise was coming with the jewelry she’d taken for appraisal, at 10:30. Two were online, so I did them while waiting. One was to review my museum schedule and sign up for docent tours for the month of April.

The other was to go to Apple’s trade-in page, and arrange to trade in three Macs for apple store credit. The process is simple; you enter the serial number of the device and answer a few questions about its condition. Then their recycling vendor sends you an email to confirm, and later a custom box to return the device. When it is received, you get a gift card in the amount. I’m returning Marian’s old Air, which was made in 2006, I learned after entering the serial number. Got lots of good use out of that one! The other two are my old 2011 MacBook Pro, and Marian’s 2017 iMac which sits on her desk. (It was a recent replacement for a Mac mini that served her a long time; and it was preceded by a Cube — remember the Apple Cube?)

I realized from the email that the return offer is only good for 21 days. I’m not sure I’ll be ready to send off the iMac in 21 days. I use it for all financial stuff, bank statements, reviewing brokerage accounts, credit card bills. Just because the Chrome browser in that system knows all the passwords for those accounts and fills them in. Silly! I have the passwords; there’s no danger of getting locked out. I can do that work equally well from laptop Godot or my big iMac.

Louise texted she’d be an hour late, so I zipped out in the car to take care of two more items. One was to go to the Stanford ticket office and make sure that my WBB season ticket account was alright. Yup, it turns out I had indeed unsubscribed from emails from them (while shutting down all Marian’s email subscriptions). That’s why I never had a chance to buy a good seat for this weekend’s games. Fixed now.

The other job was to return some fluorescent bulbs to the hardware store for recycling.  Back home, I had an email from Canopy about the memorial tree planting for Marian, now with a time and other info. So I composed an email to the people who wanted to attend. While I was working on that, Louise showed up. So I answered the door sniffling and had to go blow my nose before talking to her. She’s done a marvelous job documenting Marian’s bling. We talked about how to sell some of it, and she will get back to me with more info.

After she’d gone, I headed out, first to Office Depot because I wanted to see what kind of office furniture they had. For the new place, I want some kind of cabinet to set the printer on, with space for printer stationery and hopefully a file drawer. And I looked at desks, because initially I’d been thinking I’d keep Marian’s desk, but now I’m inclined to want something a little lighter, more open. Office Depot stuff didn’t attract me. Ikea’s desks are better.

From there I stopped at FOPAL to check on the Computer section. There were several boxes waiting, so I culled them and priced the keepers. Two hours logged in the book. I learned something today about the bargain room, where I send the unsaleable Computer books. But time presses, I’ll record it later.

Had a few hours to relax and eat some supper; then it’s out to the Stanford second-round game against BYU. I’ll report on that tomorrow.

Day 112, stuff, and baseball

Sunday, 3/24/2019

Another Sunday morning. Walked to the coffee shop for a cappuccino and to read Sunday paper and do the big crossword puzzle. On return, went to brush my teeth and noticed that the Braun electric toothbrush head was looking distinctly worn. Well, I know where we keep spare ones; and in looking found another trove of


There’s a stack of little drawers — part of the custom cabinetry that was made for our 1974 bathroom remodel — between the toilet and the shower. Toothbrush heads are in one of those. So I started opening them, and was immediately reminded that here was another goddam set of drawers that needs to be cleaned out. So I went and got a plastic trash bag and discarded years-old cough and cold meds, bottles and tubes of sunblock and bug spray, stuff Marian used on her nails, etc. Down in the last drawer there were a couple of spare Braun toothbrush heads. I kept those, and some of the fresher cold remedies.

Now I was on a roll. I gathered up a pile that I had been dithering over for days. This was a collection of Stanford Women’s Basketball Media Guides from 1996 through 2015. Marian had gotten a Media Guide (a glossy magazine with player bios, team stats, records, all the deets) each year since we became season ticket holders. I had thought there would be a continuous run, but when I looked through them last week, I was surprised to find the run stopped with the 2015-16 season. Had it been complete with the last two (2016-17 and 17-18), I would have felt really obligated to find a new home for the collection. (Although I have been dithering for days over how to advertise such a set to fans, how to find the one fan who would want it.) Now I know it isn’t complete, so… Right. Today’s a good day for clean-out. I dropped the stack into the blue recycle bin. End of that dither.

There was column in today’s paper about the problems faced by children when a parent dies and leaves them with the dilemma of a house full of stuff to dispose of. I can well believe it! I’ve been tossing stuff for weeks and am strongly aware of several pools of stuff still lurking and looming and daring me to come at them. I can sympathize with any elderly, feeble person who shirks the task of de-cluttering right to the end.

Each piece of stuff has no intrinsic value, is worth zero, zilch, nada, to you or to anyone else — yet each piece has associations that tug on you. Marian referred to those media guides when she updated the alumnae section of the fan website, or checked on prior records when a player seemed to be approaching some kind of team landmark for scoring or blocks or whatever. The pile of media guides was of no use to me, in fact it had negative value because I don’t want to spend the mental energy to figure out where to store them or how to preserve them in the future. Their highest and best use is to be pulped in the recycler and to become new grocery bags. But throwing them out somehow suggests I am denigrating the use Marian made of them, denying her diligence in documenting the team. Which is really stupid; and indeed I can imagine her disdain of any such sentimentality.

Continuing the roll, I cleared a couple shelves of one of the big brown steel cabinets in the shop. Two big roasting pans into the recycle. When was the last time we roasted anything large? A couple of the slides I scanned last week were from a Christmas dinner we hosted in 1992. That may have been when that roaster was last in an oven. But there it was, carefully laid away in the shop for the next time we needed it. Doing these discards and thinking about the care, the practicality, and the ultimate futility of it all, caused enough emotion that I recorded a symptom on the app for the Zio patch I’ve been wearing (and which I can finally take off in two days). Time:10:30 to 11, symptom: skipped/irregular beats, activity: strong emotion/grief.

Well, off to a

baseball game.

This was my first visit to Sunken Diamond in a couple of years, and my first sight of the seat I selected when I bought my season ticket. Sunken Diamond is a very nice place to watch baseball. Here’s the view from my seat.


Also this was the first time I’ve watched a baseball game in several years. I’d forgotten how slow a game it is. Stanford had a two-run lead after seven and I decided to do something else and left early, following the rest of the game on the car radio on KZSU.

What I wanted to do before 5pm was to hand off one of the four (4!)


that are cluttering the place up. There’s Marian’s old MacBook Air, it’s at least 6 years old, I think older. It was getting flaky, the keyboard and track pad not acting right, so about this time last year I got her a new one. After that I installed Ubuntu Linux on the old one and it actually runs fine that way. My MacBook Pro of 2013 was also showing age so as noted in these pages I replaced it with the slow-arriving Godot, that I’m using now. So, too many laptops. Apple has a buy-back program that I need to start using. (Putting that on my to-do list for tomorrow right now.)

In the meantime, I offered Marian’s newer Air to her sister Jean, but Jean wasn’t interested. So instead I offered it to Diane, a long-time friend of Jean’s who I’ve met a few times. She wanted it, so I took it down to her this afternoon.

Stopped at the Westwinds Nursery on Middlefield on the way home, looking for plant hangers and stuff. I’m thinking ahead about that big deck on my C.H. unit. I plan to take 5 or 6 plants, 4 for the deck and at least one of two similar ones to hang indoors. I don’t really need to get any hardware now; I just had a notion to remind myself what’s available.

In the email, finally a response from Chris’s niece Tyra, the decorator. She’s really busy she says, but is curious to know what I am looking for. I’m thinking she doesn’t listen well, because I was standing there when Chris left her a phone message describing me and what I was looking for. But whatever. I replied with a sentence or two, and left it open that if she was really busy, perhaps it wouldn’t work out.

It’s a bit awkward because I also asked Chuck to tell his designer Amy that I wanted design help. We’ll see who’s more interested.