Wednesday, September 30, 2009

P.S. to Entracte


Meadow and Sierra Nevada

Lake Tahoe from eponymous town in California

One advantage of this blog is to make me examine things. Why my mixed feelings about Yosemite? My never having been able to get to it, I realize, caused in childhood feelings of inferiority, of being unworthy to get there and my family's being incapable of doing it for me. On reflection, I am sure of that. Similar feelings about Tahoe were removed by my friends from the Oakland High School yearbook, the Oaken Bucket (I had been art editor), taking me there, as well as up into the Sierra to their cabin.
And my significant memory of a drive from Eugene, Oregon, which took us to another, smaller lake, surely another one in a crater (the Cascade Range is all volcanic), still and clear and deep blue, is surely connected with my child's desire to see Crater Lake itself.
Also, though the irritating Mr. Cronon continued to irritate, the account of the struggle to save Great Smoky Park, the one park that I actually have driven through a corner of, in the midst of congressional fights yet again (for health care), struck home. Perhaps I can drive up there myself again, just to stop and look and take pictures. It is not too steep or precipitous for me, if I don't try to hike, and I'll take a cell phone as well as one of the better cameras. If I manage to do so, I'll put a few pictures in a posting here. Like Margaret Gerke, I am old enough to be glad to get home and not to try anything manic. Finally, no matter how much relentless background fiddle playing with voice-over annoys me (the way that exhaust odors in Yosemite and overheard inanities annoy others), I am much impressed with Dayton Duncan's script; I can't imagine how having to write for everyone could be done better.

My friends' cabin

All photos Summer 1997. I hadn't even known that I'd want sweat togs as well as a muumuu, so they stopped for me to get some at a strip mall. Twelve years ago; note vintage Nikon camera case.

P.S. I remember now: in indulging myself in driving the Coast Route from Oregon to California for holidays, whenever the weather permitted (not to get stuck in snow either en route to the coast or in the Siskiyou), I did drive right through the Redwoods, the beloved Redwoods.  To be sure, I was inspired by Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, not by awareness of their being a National Park, but they had been so named by the time I was driving my own car.  The Coast Route was pretty windy for a VW, original wheel base, but lovely to look at.  Farther south, I went inland.  South of San Francisco the scenic route traffic was a bit much for a novice driver, being Monterey and all that jazz.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Entr'acte: Our National Parks

As a Californian and as a teacher of History of Photography for more than a decade, I could not resist turning on PBS for Part I of the multi-part documentary by Ken Burns, and company. And, though his prose is anything but Biblical or Shakespearean, I do revere John Muir.
Yesterday, on C-SPAN, a caller deplored the entrance fees that now make visits to the National Parks prohibitive to whole families, especially those with children of just the age to be taken to them. That is not quite new, either. Though it is right to prohibit tent camping and campfires in the park, the cost of staying in approved accommodations also adds greatly to the expense. The Parks certainly are not accessible to everybody, and they never were.
I was a child of the Depression and the War years. Both parents worked, neither earning very much, and never having vacations or sufficient (coinciding) weekends to go to Yosemite. In any case, we never had a car that could be counted on to get up to Yosemite—or gasoline coupons sufficient, either. I am very grateful, however, to the California State Textbooks in Social Studies that had pictures, as well as to a few of my grandparents' stereoscope views, mostly of Sequoias, which brought them as close as . . . as close as the moon, photographed by the Palomar telescope. When I was at university a friend, R. A., who had a little English car, was driving two of us up to see Yosemite, but did not realize that England had not counted on such altitudes and had installed a vacuum assist (I think it was called) on the clutch. So we only got half way.
In elementary school, I had a children's book, called Carmen of the Golden Coast, from which I learned of Crater Lake and was possessed by a desire to see it. In later years, when I taught at the University of Oregon, given its short open season and my friends' having seen it already as children and my not getting a car and learning to drive through half of my tenure there, I never did get to Crater Lake which had been (dare I confess) the one thing in Oregon I looked forward to seeing. I did go to Timberline Lodge, a really great WPA project, on Mt. Hood shortly before leaving Oregon, though of course not to stay.
My roommate of the 1950s, M., had earned her yearly expenses for tuition, books, etc., by working at the hotel in Yosemite, and I thought that was wonderful.
The best thing I have to report is that, after his retirement, when they were in their sixties, my grandparents did go on a sort of long-delayed honeymoon (as both of them called it, in separate conversations) to Yosemite. Never mind that they were past hiking; they went. It meant a lot to them.
I am not complaining. I have seen much that summer vacationers never see, because all my adult travel itineraries have been governed by what I needed to study: needed to for research; research for tenure and promotion, which sometimes took me, walking around cities, where tour groups did not go and allowed me (museums close early) to stop for as long as I wished to look at things.
But no one should say that the U. S. National Parks are for everyone. They were for The Bobbesey Twins and their friends. They are for those who can take cars a long way, for those who could take trains (while we had them), for those who do not need to stay at the cheapest chain motel. In Europe, on the other hand, I can spend all day on the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace free of charge (respecting the gardening and avoiding littering, of course) or even, as of the one time I did so, at Versailles. I think I could wander all over the glories of Switzerland, too. Of course, it may be necessary to charge admission to maintain the American parks, since Americans are exceedingly quick to call socialist anything that is publicly funded, but it is not true that ours belong to everyone and theirs don't!
And then there's the Religion thing. First, John Muir was not a Christian, any more than Emerson was. Second, strings of rhetorical questions on the order of Only God can Make a Tree, etc., etc. are asinine and offensive. Persons who know what awe is don't talk like that. Those who know what awe is do not belittle the work of the architects of cathedrals any more than they belittle John Muir. All the way through the public schools, pious dimwit teachers drummed into us that we are small and Nature is great, harassing us brutally if we asked whether it isn't great to perceive the vastness of it all, never considering that "Nature" does not consider what the creatures capable of awe might really be. It was worse than a dentist who typically jams one's mouth full and then preaches about oral maintenance, repeating just what one has known all one's life. Third, there's the nation's worst painter, Bierstadt, who sold his work as Nature, even divine Nature, and in fact not only worked indoors and away from site but falsified the colors (those vile, lurid colors) and added gratuitous figures and copied his own pictures, serially, rather than going out to take another look. Sometimes he even used a photograph by one of his contemporaries rather than go outside at all. His painting has far less sense of light and space and natural form than any of the photographs, even the commercial stereoscope ones. Yet, sure enough, here's Mr. Burns' script, extolling Bierstadt. Besides, the documentary has this man named Cronon whose love affair with the camera and whose curious waving of his face and whose words spoil every sequence that he's in.
I have thought, I'll have a look at the book, or perhaps I'll get the DVDs and play them with the sound muted, even though I was delighted to be reminded of my favorite childhood Sunday School song:
This is my Father's world / And to my listening ears / All Nature sings and round me rings / The music of the spheres.
I hadn't heard that for more than half a century.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Around and about the apartment on Durant


For perhaps as much as a year, I guess, I lived in a building, once a large family house, I think, on the north side of Durant, behind the bank on the corner of Telegraph and Durant (the Google street-level shows that building at least, now with the present-day logo of Bank of America), opposite a big Lutheran church, no longer standing. I shared an apartment with Nancy and a girl who, probably, was the one who drew once or twice in my sketch book, named Mary Lou; at least she was there for a while. Our apartment was at the extreme rear, the bedroom at least being a made-over rear sun porch. In the sixties when I was mostly in Oregon, a copy shop, perhaps an early Kinko, was built right on the street concealing the house front, perhaps concealing its actual removal. I'm nearly sure that this was the apartment where I heard a back-porch screen door slam shut on its spring as a family went in and out next door. It certainly was the apartment where, sitting at our tiny kitchen table, we could hear through the single-board thickness of the partition wall absolutely everything in the bed on the other side (no, I never met these neighbors, as it happened, so know nothing else of them). It was here that we came to know some graduate students in History. Nancy married one of them a bit later.
I had known this address once before, when a student teacher in Art at Berkeley came to our class at Oakland High School and subsequently invited several of us to visit her in the afternoon (the same public transportation that took me to the Elmwood Theater went up to Bancroft Way, very conveniently). She had a made-over apartment in a garage between the rear of the bank and the house where our apartment overlooked it. She had large non-objective paintings and she seemed very, very sophisticated to me. If she didn't know Allen Ginsberg and David Park, she certainly mentioned them. By the time I lived in the Durant apartment I still knew no one, though David Park's wife worked in the UC Library and I knew her by sight, but David and I had taken the A train after classes at CCAC and certainly knew the King Ubu Gallery (though ignorant of the source of the name) and the City Lights Book Store, though making the acquaintance only of stacks of pre-War magazines, Vanity Fair by choice.
(I am reminded of one of the sensory memories of living on Kittredge: the Berkeley electric train, the F train, which ran up the middle of Shattuck Avenue, ringing its bell to warn intersection traffic, was as audible as the early-morning fog horns on the Bay, and right on schedule. When the electric train became the F bus line, I would wake up on schedule, not hearing it, for weeks afterward.)
The main things about living almost on Telegraph Avenue, and then at 2308 Haste, less than two blocks from it, was that this mid- to late-1950s milieu was my village: not where I hung out, not where I remember coming with my "mom" or with friends, but where I lived. Having no car I did everything, major and minor, within a mile of the UC campus, and that on the south and west sides of it, mostly. The F train or bus made San Francisco easily accessible; the 51 bus went to Oakland (I forget which bus I took to the Tower Theater at 51st and Telegraph, which was in Oakland, for first-run foreign films, but those were special occasions since by then we had not only the Elmwood but our own Cinema Guild). A cross-town bus, on Dwight Way, took me to the Poultry Market for as long as I worked there; I remember once or twice taking a Final Exam with my feet tucked behind, under my seat, because I'd barely gotten back in time to take it, and my saddle shoes had chicken guts traces all over the toes. Classes I arranged with a view to my work hours, but Finals were scheduled beyond anyone's control. That felt heroic, but I don't think anyone noticed.
Towns and cities are always changing. For nearly 30 years I've watched Baton Rouge, LA, changing. Businesses come and go. In Berkeley, though, Telegraph Avenue, south of campus, suffered badly, being smaller than San Francisco, perhaps. Everybody's runaway children attracted, at best, all the motorcycle gangs and everything else that preyed on the kids. Haight-Ashbury today is not nearly so altered. Of course, it is several years since I visited. Amsterdam and Rome are not nearly so junky as they were five years ago.
If I could find anything describing this neighborhood in my youth as I actually remember it, I wouldn't try to evoke it here. But only the journalists' Berkeley survives on line.
I think that radical change began with Sproul Plaza, a planned open space, instead of Telegraph Ave. ending at Sather Gate with original sidewalks, shops still lining the west side and the Administration Building, as it was simply called, on the east side, practically off campus. The Bears' Lair was still in Stephens Union. Among the shops was a branch of Roos Bros., high quality fashionable clothing, and a hangout called the Southgate for wannabe philosophers (the coffee shop in the Annex to Dwinelle Hall was still brand new and was not yet a real hangout). There was, as I recall, a Rexall drugstore. When I was an undergraduate, the tenants of these buildings could not renew their leases and closed, one by one; Roos Bros. moved around the corner to Bancroft Way, until, like everything else supported mainly by the Greek living groups and other well-to-do nearby residents, it closed. I think that Sees Candies was in that block, too. Turning west onto Bancroft Way, there were still merchants on the north side as well as the south side of the street. There was, for example, that Maoist book store that I never saw anyone patronize, so it must have been sustained by, well, by Maoists. A door or two from it was the sandal shop which made, by hand, sandals shaped to one's own foot, which they would fix or alter as needed. For those who did not object to the attitudes of the women who owned it (it was plain that making sandals was a favor, not just a business, and you were expected to approve of them, too), the sandals were wonderful, even worth their price, which I could not afford, but I had friends of both sexes who owned and treasured theirs. I think there was a jewelry shop, too, real designer jewelry, silver, not the jangly bangles later sold on the street pavement. These disappeared when the Bears' Lair and the new UC bookstore and assorted appurtenances were built, not to mention Zellerbach Hall so that Berkeley no longer had only the City-High School auditorium at whose opening in my teens I had sung in a mixed choir a generation earlier. Of course, the Department of Music on campus has its own chamber music auditorium with a baroque organ.
On the east side of Telegraph between Bancroft and Durant were, inter alia, Sather Gate Books and Berkeley Commercial Photo (I still have a few of their envelopes with the negatives and prints that they processed). Sather Gate Books was a conventional bookstore that also sold good letter-writing supplies and greeting cards, and so on, but was by ordinary standards a far from contemptible book store, even for Berkeley. It lasted till the late 1960s, I know, because I got my sister's children gift books when they visited me and my niece Debby, then only a year old, a genuine Raggedy Andy doll, which she tells me she loved for years. This is the kind of shopping that you no longer can do on Telegraph Avenue, though, it must be said, the campus is still a joy for children. Though taken in the 1960s, I attach here photos of my niece with her doll and of the boys at "Ludwig's Fountain" (like Humphrey GoBart for the shuttle bus, typical Berkeley humor: the Ludwig in question was a German shorthair pointer that came daily, for years, to enjoy being a waterdog in a fountain that really had no other distinctions):

In the group picture, the three boys in trousers are the same ones I photographed by Ely Cathedral (see above), and the little boy in short pants and the little girl are my brother's children, also visiting that day. The fountain was from the time it was built practically the center of Sproul Plaza, since the shops and the Bears' Lair and Zellerbach Hall were at a lower level, to the west.
On the west side of this block, between Bancroft and Durant, was one, at least, of the big independent bookstores and a record store (though I bought most of mine from the back of UC Corner) and, if it wasn't farther up, Sees Candies. A very fine women's shoes, I think was on the NW Corner of the intersection; I think it was shoes before it was very nice, really fashionable, really wearable women's clothing, and I've been trying for days to remember its name. Someone on line (to which eventually I resorted) mentioned "Nicole", but that is not a name I remember, thought it might be the same shop. We bought fine sweater sets at Roos Bros., but dresses usually elsewhere.
I think that the News, Paperbacks, and Records called UC corner was on the SW corner of Telegraph and Durant; I already have described it as my Second Campus, or Open University. Between Durant and Channing there was still a wonderful Variety Store, large, name forgotten, with everything inedible that one needed. For example, perfectly useful Japanese flatware and knockoffs of Arzberg, till one could order the real thing from Frazer's across the street. Less satisfactory, reduced imitations of the famous canvas-seated, continuous steel rod framed chairs: the imitations were lighter, thinner, hinged pot metal, and cheaper, thinner canvas, pieced besides. I'd love to have my big orange canvas vintage butterfly chair! Most of those sold now, when you can find any, have joints and are poor. The real McCoy, like everything of lasting beauty, came from Frazer's. When I was at CCAC we were sent up to Berkeley to study design there. I craved everything they had, and Williams Sonoma (for example) can't match them on every size and shape of wine glasses. At my age, of course, some of my favorite chairs are hard to get out of. Later, the premises of that variety store served other tenants; for a while it was an excellent cafeteria run by Iranians. Then there were more bookstores, an Asian imports store (small and actually Asian). Opposite, starting at the SE corner of Durant and Channing, there was another News Stand. Then Larry Blake's, which is still there. The tossed salad was famous, justly famous. Then they sold beer downstairs and called that the Rathskeller. What I can't remember is the name of the place next south of Larry Blake's. It started in very high style, sold mostly beer and snacks and congeniality for those who really liked its Eames chairs. It wasn't so noisy or so crowded with fraternity boys as Larry Blake's, but neither did it last so long. The big specialty cafes, with big espresso machines and nice pastries, seem to have put out of business all but Larry Blake's; the first one, at the NE corner of Haste and Telegraph, took the whole premises of a Lucky supermarket. That was shortly before I went to Greece.
I simply can't remember everything, and I've left out the grocers so far. There was another store, with china and other small furnishings that had some wonderful things. At the NW corner of Telegraph and Channing there had been a store as old as the recording industry, perhaps, a record store that barely survived into the LP era and did not survive into stereo. It was set up for the 78s that had prevailed for so long and was called Art Music Company. A place that mattered. They would order 78s from Europe for you. They had listening booths, an amenity incompatible with vinyl records that required very nice handling and very good pickups and frequently replaced styluses. After we moved to Berkeley and lived for a while when I was still in high school at 1736 Hearst Avenue, I would go and haunt Art Music Company whenever I could. And now I remember: in the 1960s there was a women's wear shop, a good one, which I patronized whenever I came down from Oregon, where Art Music had been. Art Music was the sponsor of Doug Pledger's Polka Party program on KSMO, which became KKHI when stereo FM came in. By subscribing to KPFA-FM for an extra $10 one got an FM tuner, which one put into one's component system. It drifted off station but it worked fine if you tended to it. KSMO and then KKHI also broadcast Music of the Italian Masters, the gift of Frank de Bellis (to whose memory Henry Clay Lindgren dedicated the second volume of his publication of Ancient Greek Bronze Coins). In those days, too, on regular commercial radio, the Giannini family, the Bank of America, la nostra banca, sponsored the Italian-language half hour on KRE-AM, with good Italian singers on all the songs and arias that Beniamino Gigli and Luciano Pavarotti grew up on.
Maybe I'll write in another posting on the Berkeley Market, the Berkeley Grocery, the Blue and Gold Market, and the Garden Spot, as well as the Viennese bakery still run by an elderly Viennese couple. They were the ones who made cats' paws with real almond paste filling. But I'll close for today with the King Pin, which has survived, as well it deserves, still making donuts on the premises. It seems to have expanded a little but the production (in a photo on line) seems to be the same, and, with one omission, so are the donuts. I strongly recommend the raised dark chocolate dough with dark chocolate icing, though the others are good, too. The one that is missing was a delectable thing the size and shape of a Danish 'snail' which they called (I'm almost sure) a Bismarck. It was the sort of pastry that wouldn't hurt you if you ate it only two or three times a year... The King Pin was at Dwight Way. It had little booths, ideal for a couple, served over a divider as in a highway diner. It refilled your coffee mug, too. It was usually busy, but not too full, and unless you saw that it would be inconsiderate to others, the King Pin did not mind if you sat and talked for an hour. Add to that, it was a clean, well lighted place, par excellence.

If only I had known that no one else was taking pictures of Telegraph Avenue in the 1950s. It was simply our street, and, like Greeks in a village, we came out and strolled and browsed after supper almost every evening that we weren't at work. In the 1950s, no one wanted a house with a yard; we had our Avenue, with all its bookstores, with all its wonderful windows full of treasures, and no need even for a single policeman. It was better than a village. It was our true ivory tower.

Friday, September 4, 2009

One More Overtly Self-centered Posting

In 1961, when I came home to Berkeley from two years in Greece, to finish my dissertation, I found an apartment in an old school building at, as I recall, 2437 Haste St. That is to say, it was entered from its row of mailboxes there, the building being right in the middle of the block bounded by Telegraph Ave. on the east, Dana on the west, Channing Way on the north, and Haste on the south. The building had two storeys above a basement (where my apartment was). Many of the renters were Fine Arts students. If we went out the back way, and across a parking lot, Kip's was handy; according to Google, it has morphed into a real restaurant with a liquor license, but I think the one-mile-radius dry zone, to keep alcohol off campus (though there were deliveries to fraternities and beer was OK at restaurants that sold food) was still in effect in my days. Kip's made the best cheeseburgers (real aged cheddar, broiled on coals, buns toasted on the perimeter of the grill; horseradish and other condiments available self-serve) in the world. There on a rented L. C. Smith typewriter I wrote and typed my dissertation (three carbons).

Long before, in Alameda, I had had a black cat called Midnight. When I went to the Pound now I chose a very tame and gentle black female and called her Persephone and let her have kittens (spaying being too expensive for graduate students with impoverished parents).

It was at this time that I got the aegipan chair. It was brought into my grandparents' shop by my mother's high-school English teacher, preparing to enter a retirement home. Her parents had gotten it new when they were married, and a date ca. 1885 seems likely. Chairs to the same pattern, except that some have lion's faces instead of goat Pans decorating the back panel, could be found all up and down the west coast in antique stores in the 1960s (they certainly are factory-made chairs), most of them stripped, the revelation of bare wood being part of the Nature sentiment of that generation. All of those I've seen are of oak, and so is mine, visibly on the arms where the finish is rubbed thin. Perhaps the only rare thing about mine is that, always in one family house, it retains its black Japalac finish. Seekers on line will find the name Japalac highjacked by a Group, but Mrs. Sollers, when she brought in the chair, said that she liked the Japalac, which my grandfather pronounced a varnish with opaque black, such as lamp black, added to it. It seems to have been sprayed on. I like oak as well as anyone, but its grain pattern fights with carving.

If anyone knows where and when these chairs, which look like ornaments for men's clubs or library-smoking rooms, were made, I'd love to know.

I still have it. My students always have liked it (or else were politely silent, if they supposed that I thought it older or valuable or hand-made); when my students came by with their children in due course, the children loved to put their fingers in the lion finials' mouths. With a cushion added, it is remarkably comfortable and serves as a reading chair. After about a century and a quarter and several moves, it is only a little loose jointed.

When I bought my present house in 1986, the things too large to have been brought here in a car, or kept in a housekeeping room on campus, the Aegipan chair and some other pieces that my younger sister had kept in Davis, CA, came South. For a while they were almost the only furniture in this now overstuffed house. Not all cats like this chair, but Lydos came when there was no sofa or rugs, and he liked it. Moving into a house newly painted largely dark rose (and perhaps recalling Kittredge Street), I acquiesced in the color scheme. The floor was already dark, and I added black mini-blinds. The Aegipan chair fit in perfectly. Lydos was called Lydian because of his luxurious fur and nature. He was a found cat: wandered into my friend Denise's parents' yard, wounded and already middle aged, but he looked like a real "Russian Blue". The only flash I had was the tiny one on a tiny Olympus XA, which did the best a pocket film camera could do. You still can't see the Goat Pan face very well. I once had a photo that my grandfather took in his front yard in full sunlight, but it was in a box of especially treasured photos and negatives that my younger sister's husband dumped out when they moved; that photo was taken to show me the chair to ascertain that I wanted it. It wasn't expensive; Mrs. Sollers hadn't found another taker for it.
A tiny digital camera with a digitally controlled flash shows the chair better, only about a month ago. My present cat is quite leery of it. I could not begin to go into the autobiographical content of the rest of this snapshot. The Aegipan chair, which I've now owned for nearly a half century, still as you see preserves its Japalac finish. It normally sits in the other front room of this double shot-gun house. I never, I swear, painted a room dark rose pink (I dislike, besides, the process of painting my living space as much as any cat does), but my friend David did the orange water color, which he said showed his parents in a snowstorm, in January 1954 (it is dated at lower right) in the days of the housekeeping room on Kittredge Street, and it is just as much at home here. The friend who gave me Lydos (her mother did not want him inside) gave me the photographs of her own cats. The drypoint below the watercolor came from my friend Nina in Sofia. That's enough. I may find a picture showing the lion's-head finials of the chair.
Like all the other images this one can be 'clicked' to zoom it.  If I hadn't seen so many I'd wonder if these chairs were made for photographers' studios.  In this case, with a Nikon F2 on a tripod, we were holding still for seconds on end and still couldn't achieve Julia Cameron's effects.  But it is better than flash, and it shows the lion's head whose teeth fascinate small children.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Fuzzy Post: Things, Images, Time, and what to do with Love?

Animal Crackers are not what they used to be, but I do still have a rose bush, given me by a student (who didn't know what chord it might strike when she bought it at the open-air market about two years ago), similar to a Cecil Brunner except that only the centers are pale pink. Imported Mexican tiles are not what they were in the first first quarter of the 20th century, when in 1918 (in my mother's 4th year) my grandfather made a oak coffee table inlaid with four of them for my grandmother, who very much later confessed to me that she never had liked it, because it was an inch or two higher than it wanted to be in front of a sofa. She didn't refuse it, but marriage being marriage, my grandfather knew what she felt and eventually replaced it with a very nice walnut moderne coffee table of the requisite height, made with equal love and craftsmanship. Well, there were magazines with patterns for weekend cabinetmakers then as now, and many hundreds of plain saw-cut tables, with typical orange and blue Mexican tiles, made of pine or ash and finished with varnish stain, survive to this day. Perhaps Nana did not quite grasp the difference between those and hers. I did. It is something innate, for better or worse, to see and 'read' style. The oak was carefully chosen. The turned legs were carefully designed. The tiles were exceptional even then. This was not a patio table. As so often happens, probably neither he nor she understood what bothered the other. "You praise my eyes, but not for what they see," he wrote half a century later in a verse for her. She could not, and would not, tell him what the table that she hoped, and so assumed, he was building would look like.
Be that as it may, when I moved to Eugene, Oregon, and my brother drove up, bringing me some things from California to help furnish my new post-doctoral life, the Cribbage Table was one of the pieces. I think it came at the same time as the Aegipan chair (my name for it, but I had my own name for the table, too). This is the table where my grandfather had taught me cribbage and tirelessly had played it with me, he sitting on the sofa, I on the footstool opposite. My grandmother had made the 1935 cake and wreathed it with pink Cecil Brunner rosebuds. For my 21st birthday, though she had suffered serious heart attacks, she made me another cake with seven-minute icing and carefully, when I wasn't looking, walked down to the neighbor's where the Cecil Brunners were still blooming. I did not yet drive, but I took the Greyhound bus straight down US 101 through all the orchards; leaving Berkeley shortly after Finals were done, I could be in San Luis Obispo sometime in June. I wept when I saw my cake; the grandparents did not know that I was not then their 'innocent' granddaughter; my grandfather's picture (on the last post) gives no hint of the facts. As soon as I could when I came back from New York City (1981), my first thoughts were to recover the Cribbage Table and the Aegipan chair, not that nothing else was important. By then, however, I had lost both grandparents. I have both that chair and the table, and other things, here now.
My grandfather was teaching school in Chico, CA, when he made the table in 1918. At 91, it is almost officially an antique, but it is simply mine (and theirs), since it qualifies neither as folk art nor as fine furniture.
The other day I took the digital picture. Like the first one it is a deliberate still life and a memento, with my beloved mid-century Artzberg for coffee, a student's china beaker for my friend's wine, and an air letter from Vienna from a dear friend nearly my own age. I took it when the air letter turned up under a stack of CDs to send to him, since he's been ill, but I had in mind also to celebrate the Table for this blog. The housepainter unknowingly cut down the rambling rose bush, so I post at the end of this the last roses of early summer (the bush is growing back, from being cut to the ground, very rapidly, though the graft of the pink to the white may have been lost, but for the time being the previous pictures will do).
Some people do not value things and images, as neither alive nor real, respectively. What, though, is love, what is human in our consciousness, if associations made of a fabric of living memories are not kept alive by images and objects?