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Thursday, November 29, 2001

After the storm that pummeled us overnight, we weren't sure if we were going to make it this afternoon. Mom, Suzanne and I had scheduled our monthly trip to the Napa Valley to visit my uncle, but the news first thing this morning was that the roads between here and there were closed by flooding. By mid morning, though, the roads were open, the sun was out, and our way was clear.

I still don't know if the Boss realizes I was gone, since he was on the road today, too. I told him about it yesterday, and he said "okay," but you never know with him. Almost every time I tell him I'm not going to be in the office for some reason, I come back to find three or four puzzled, forlorn messages from him on the answering machine. I think he may have had his own problems this time, negotiating his way across the Sierra Nevada in the aftermath of the storm. What was wind and rain here had turned into wind and a whole lot of snow by the time it got there.

But we had a great trip. The sky was still cloudy, but the roads were mostly dry. The drainage ditches were nearly full, but the next storm isn't expected until Saturday afternoon, so maybe we're in for a little luck. We definitely had it going today. We stopped for lunch in Rohnert Park and got to my uncle's house early. Too early, because he's bed-ridden and we had to wait for someone to let us in. The three of us sat in the car for about twenty minutes, and — get this — nobody started singing! I think that's a first.

(Not that there's anything wrong with singing. Okay, there's a lot wrong with my singing, but that doesn't usually stop me, especially when I've been listening to "Easy Street" and "It's a Hard Knock Life" for two weeks straight. You can't sing "Easy Street" without a lot of room to strut, though.)

Anyway, we were there for a couple of hours. He had a lot of assignments for us, paperwork he needed help with and things that needed to be moved or tossed out. He lives with his care-giver, and she does a lot for him. But change is good. Having members of the family do some of these things is good. And taking one day to have three people get so many petty details cleared up and off his mind ... that's very good indeed.

We probably stayed too long, because he was exhausted by the time we left, but we all felt better for having seen him again. He's had a hard life, and at times he's made it harder on himself. But he's also overcome physical limitations to be active and vigorous, until these last few months started keeping him from getting around. He still knows what he wants done, and exactly how, and he's good at making it clear to whoever is willing to help. I think that also shows a kind of strength of character.

after the storm

Debris in the garden after last night's storm.

Suzanne did all the driving, and the hour or so it took us to get home, in the dark and in heavy traffic, exhausted me as I sat next to her. I can only imagine how weary she must be tonight. For several years I made that drive every day, back and forth to work, even on days when the roads were flooded as they were this morning. Somehow I managed to get through, most of the time. I wouldn't want to do it now, though. I'm not sure I could, and I'm grateful I don't have to.

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