February 28, 2010

View from Berkeley

Here's a panoramic view of last evening's sunset from the Berkeley hills. We've had several spectacular storms with high winds and driving rains. Very exciting from this vantage point with the eucalyptus trees visible in the photos. These photos don't pick up the distant details of downtown San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, but they are surely out there. On another very clear day I'll try to capture them. Today began with a heavy cloud cover below although we're far enough up the mountain that directly overhead, the sky is clear.

We're working on getting things somewhat regulated each day between Rob's needs, Linda's, and hospice. It takes a village, we know this. But things have been harmonious in this small house which feels spacious because of the vista everywhere. You've only to look out the window and you feel enormous breadth. Being able to look to the horizon is luxurious for me coming from a place in Olympia where the trees surround our land and the sky is obscured by large stands of big leaf maples and cedar that have grown considerably since we first landed in that settlement.

My daughter Laureen and I went out to lunch yesterday in downtown Berkeley. After a night of heavy rains, the skies had cleared and the beautiful weather brought everyone out. At the noon hour, Shattuck Avenue is dotted with small groups of people standing outside restaurants waiting for tables. The restaurant we chose is a busy and thriving somewhat French restaurant La Note. I say somewhat French because no one in the restaurant is French or speaks French, only the menu leans toward the language. Les Oeufs and l'omelette that we ate looked very American on the plate although they were delicious.

While waiting for a table, we fortunately had a buzzer from La Note and were able to hang out at Pegasus Bookstore next door, one of the few remaining independent new and used bookstores left in the area. We browsed the art books and bought two unusual books on Cezanne, Laureen's favorite painter. As Laureen has two empty canvases sitting in her apartment just waiting for paint, we got these books for a little inspiration and study before she sketches in an idea. Nice time together and lovely to be with my daughter.

It always amazes me, the difference between outside any house and walking through the portal of any house anywhere, and the amount of life, challenge, and difficulty it contains. The houses look innocent and beautiful sitting on the steep hills, and as you drive past them you imagine yourself living here or there untouched by the reality of change. We passed Isadora Duncan's house, just down the road from Rob's, a gorgeous place Duncan had built long ago, looking stately and prosperous in its design. But the outside views belie what is actually happening within these homes. And I certainly felt this as I left Laureen's car, waved to her headed down the mountain having together admired the various architectures, and walked the few steps to the doorway, opening into the challenge of life and the activity and intensity of illness and pain management.

So, we go forward this Sunday, quietly and easily after a few challenges. No visitors today at all. This is quite welcome to be uninterruped from simple daily life and being here.