January 11th, 1996

[Riding on the B.A.R.T. train to San Francisco]

Riding on B.A.R.T. to MacWorld - a good portion of my life is spread out before me in the landscape that passes by outside [and below] the windows - more homes, friends, events, places schools, heartache and heartbreak, passionate nights, beatings, skateboard hills, school dances; a fast-forward and simultaneously high speed reverse [I sat facing the rear of the car so was traveling "backward"] through my personal history.

I can name all the streets and see what happened there so long ago and not so long ago: was it really so long ago that a little boy walked down Hampton Road to [elementery] school, crunching through the fallen autumn leaves and breaking the ice sheets like glass on the mud puddles: and I can still smell the wet mushed black walnut hulls and leaves and feel the cold bite in the air on the way to first grade

How many little boys have walked those same paths. But none will play pirate and hunt polywogs in the San Lorenzo creek again, long ago encased in concrete and shielded from childish footsteps by chainlink and barbed wire.

Bill Nelson 5 years and Phyllis his sister 7 years old on front lawn hampton road, arm in arm The oranges still fall from the old trees and rot [on the ground] and troops of children still cross Meekland avenue to go to Colonial Acres School, to sit in the same rooms and play in the same school yard that a long ago grown up boy once played in

No, I am not simply going to San Francisco - I am a time traveler criss crossing back and forth like lightning through the ages of a man

While moving my belongings out of margarets house yesterday, I found two photo albums filled with memories that wafted out like a cloud of potent fragrant incense - [my son] Joel striding in his diapers and holding a walking stick with such a bold sense of purpose [in Big Basin park] - [My daughter] Rachel playing with [wild] abandon on a tire swing - my eternally youthful little girl - Maud with her dark smokey rich eyes so deep - so full of romance [now] so dead and in the past - little children grown into men and women - men and women long dead or grown old and decrepit. And a world that passes by, drones on in small talk and meaningless conversation that will be forgotten tommorrow - completely unaware of the small lost boy living still inside the man sitting alone on a B.A.R.T. [train] car on a sunny January morning in the middle of forever and nowhere at all.

January 12th, 1996

[I move into a delightful 'granny unit' at the end of Wiley and George Hughes house in Castro Valley. It has two floors. I can almost see Rita's place in Mt. View from the upstairs window. My rent is working on the Hughes yard plus a hundred dollars a month. Not a bad deal. Sometimes Wiley knocks on the adjoining upstairs door and asks if I want some dinner and later knocks again and asks if I want some dessert. I almost feel adopted.

I had been working for Dr. Gerald and Darlene Lee just down the street when she stopped to ask if I wanted to work on the house right across the street from the Lee house, which she was selling. I took on the job. I had known the people that lived in the house. The old man was pleasant and cared for his wife. After she died, he began to decline and finally passed away. The son had moved in afterward and he and I had a few conversations when I worked for the Lees. The son brought in some friends and they wound up partying excessively. One night, while drunk, the young man crashed through a window, hanging in the broken window until he bled to death. That's when Wiley stopped by asking if I would maintain the yard.

Later, just before margaret lost her house and I had nowhere to go, Wiley stopped by as I was working and asked if I was interested in a place to live! Talk about incredible coincidences. So within the week I was living with Wiley and George. I stayed there until about the 18th of August, the week before Rita and I married and I moved to Mt. View, to live in the cottage in back of 366 Loretto Street.

The Hughes had a really huge back yard that sloped downhill for perhaps 250 feet. They had a fish pond, a lawn with apple trees, and a large area for a vegetable garden. I was free to work on whatever part of the yard I wanted and enjoyed working in the vegetable garden section.

The home of Steve Atwwod, owner of Clyde Robin Seed Company was close by. I collected wild seed on a part time basis for Steve for a number of years, one of the most interesting jobs I ever had. One assignment had me way back in the Hamilton Range, 30 miles out of Livermore, and some 40+ miles from San Jose over Mt Hamilton road, and some 30 miles west from Patterson (VERY isolated!) collecting Artemesia californica for a CalTrans contract. I had discovered Rhamnus californica berries quite by accident which was a plus, and sat down to lunch at the side of the road, the berries nearby to be collected after lunch, and wild trout swimming at my feet in the small stream.

"Work" does not get much better than that!]

August 25th, 1996

[Rita and I marry in Petaluma. While I'm waiting under the arch for her to walk out with her brother, and Randy Wohler is waiting to give the wedding talk, inside the house Rita's brother is telling her he has heard bad things about me and that she should not go throuigh with the wedding. Of course, I don't learn about this until MUCH later. Obviously Rita was afraid to tell me. Thanks Charles!

Weddings hardly ever go 'according to plan' and ours was no exception. Rita had arrived as a passenger in my sister Margaret's car and I had driven over with my friend Will Ashford from his house in the Knight's Valley, so neither of us had a car. Only AFTER the wedding when all the guests had left did we realize we had no transport (small oversight). My sister had given us a stay at the Blue Violet Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Napa but now we had no way to get there!

I called my friend Will, who had by now arrived back home in the Knight's Valley (an hour's drive). He generously drove back to Petaluma and gave us a ride to Napa and the Blue Violet Mansion and then (finally) drove himself home. My poor long suffering friend: That was a LOT of driving!

After our stay at the Mansion, Will drove BACK to Napa, picked us up, then drove us back to his house at the Foote Ranch above Calistoga. We stayed for three days. The first night, the three of us walked up to the first of three lakes on the ranch, and, under the full moon, I paddled Rita around the lake in the ranch canoe while Will waited for us on the shore, watching the stars. A more romantic night is hard to imagine. The only thing missing was a Ukelele.]