Thursday, May 27, 2010

Announcement--In Lieu of San Francisco Diary

I will be among the missing for a few days, and I wanted to share two major developments with my loyal readers. The first is solemn news that turned out well. The second is great news that turned out even better. And both will come as a surprise to most of you. I held off letting all of you know until I had everything firmly in hand.

First, the solemn news that turned out well. Back in early October of last year, I had begun to feel some discomfort which turned suddenly into rather excruciating pain overnight. My son Chris came rushing to my place and took me straight to my doctor's office. Within 24 hours, I had been diagnosed with an exotic form of lymphoma. Now stop thinking what you're thinking. I told you it turned out well. I was quickly operated on by two specialists to determine that it was not connected in any way with my prior aorto-bifemoral arterial bypass, and to do a full biopsy. The result was that there was no involvement with the bypasses, and though the cancer had started to spread to other lymph nodes, it was nowhere near full metastisization.

I have been fortunate to have great doctors by every standard known to the medical profession, and none have ever lost the personal touch. At all stages, my personal physician, my cardio-vascular surgeon, and my new oncologist constantly conferred and kept me fully informed. Once I got past the "how long do I have?" question, my fatherly oncologist chuckled, and said "how long do you want?" This is a form of cancer which is highly-susceptible to chemotherapy. I had six long chemotherapy sessions spread over a little less than six months, at approximately three week intervals. Peeing bright orange after the sessions was my favorite side-effect. Three weeks ago, I was declared 100% cancer-free.

Though my family is spread out all over California, it was all I could do to convince them that I was going to be fine, and they didn't need to drop everything to tend to dad. My son, who lives in Berkeley, was a great help at the panicky early stages. He and his wife ferried me to the early appointments, and checked in on me briefly (as I requested--briefly) several times a week. The girls called regularly, and e-mailed me daily. Even my ex added her two cents by telling the girls to calm down, "he's indestructible." I'm not sure that was a compliment, but it worked.

But having a brush with a deadly disease causes the mind to focus. As you know, I've wanted to move out of San Francisco for a very long time. Events, lethargy, business reasons, and just plain inertia after I retired kept me here. This was just the jolt I needed. I got family, and friends in Arizona and Nevada, started on looking for potential places for me to move to. It wasn't going well, and I was beginning to think that I was never going to find a place in California that wouldn't require living in, shall we say "reduced circumstances," and I really didn't want to move even farther from my girls and my eight grandkids. I saw them little enough as it was.

My younger daughter has a large piece of property in the low Tehachapi mountains. She and her family have been building their own home there for some time now. She suggested that I could move onto a portion of her property. My thought was, "I want to be close, but not that close." But prices in the area came up, and I couldn't believe things were so affordable there. So I gave her marching orders. Find me a place in the general area. She's a smart cookie, and knew better than I what I was looking for.

Long story longer, after a few mis-steps and bad leads, we found the perfect place. As of June 1, I will become landed gentry (or as I told Andrew, a redneck, or a farmer, or a country rustic--something like that). 3 1/2 glorious acres of rolling hills, oak trees, and most importantly, peace and quiet at last. For those of you familiar with California's non-urban/suburban areas, it's located in Caliente, California, in the Walker Basin area near the Sequoia National Forest. It's high desert, low mountains, and it's only about 3.75 miles from my daughter's place. She's in the real forest nearly a thousand feet higher than my property.

I knew she had found the right home for me when she said it has a two-bedroom, two bath, full amenities house with a two-car detached garage, and a root cellar. I haven't seen a root cellar since my summer stays at my aunt's farm in Iowa when I was a youngster. Not sure what I'll do with it, but folks, I have a root cellar. And seasons, four of them. It snows during the winter there, but not the depth of snow that she gets 1,000 feet higher where they occasionally get snowed-in. For those of you who know high desert, it also gets very hot during the summer, which I'm used to from my years in the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley. Spring and fall are more like San Francisco weather, without the icy blasts off the Bay.

So the good news is I have a great new home, and my full health (though thanks to the chemotherapy, not my full head of hair for awhile). I'll be fifteen minutes from one daughter and her family and a little over two hours from the other and her family. Chris and his wife visit Southern California multiple times each year, so I'll probably see as much of them there as I normally do here. My two older grandsons are accomplished archers, and they'll be ecstatic to be able to practice without having to worry about accidentally shooting the neighbor's dog, or the neighbor, for that matter.

The bad news is, I'll have to come up with something to replace my San Francisco Diary. Andrew and I have kicked around a few ideas, like "The Farm Report," or "The Rustic Chronicles." I'm still working on it. So now you know why I'll be out of touch for a few days while I get settled in. No DSL, and no cable, so I have to get set up on satellite. Meanwhile, I'm still adapting to the idea that I'll have my own well, and therefore, no water company to bill me each month. And the concept that I might see an occasional stray horse or cow, but nary a single homeless person with his hand out thrills me more than you could ever know. Instead, I can sit out on the redwood deck that overlooks the basin, and contemplate God's green earth. And then there's that one requirement I most emphasized--I can walk out any door, and look out any window, and not see another human being that I don't want to see.

I'll be back online as soon as possible, and I'll be chatting with all of you then.

41 comments:

CrisD said...

Praise the Lord!

And...new abode sounds like great diggs!

AndrewPrice said...

Good luck with the move Lawhawk -- we'll keep the lights on for you until you return. (And don't forget to buy a pitchfork! Now that you'll be living outside of San Fran, you don't even need a license!)


Re Scheduling:

We're planning to keep up the two posts a day plan -- one at 9:00 am (EST) and the other at 4:00 pm (EST).

LawHawkSF said...

CrisD: The old saying is that the good Lord watches out for drunks and small children. As a longtime former drunk, I believe it. I have been blessed on so many occasions, that I thought I had used up my quota. PTL, I was wrong again.

I'm unbelievably excited about the move, and unbelievably exhausted from the packing. Twenty years of living in the same place and collecting everything that interested me has turned into a monumental task to move. But I'm finally down to the small, last-minute stuff.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Don't forget me, and don't let the Boiler Room Elves take over my office. LOL

I'm already wondering how to answer neighbors when they ask where I'm from. San Francisco and Berkeley are definitely not the right answer in that area. I figure I'll hedge my bets and just say "up north for awhile," but I'm actually from Simi Valley and Downey (both heavily Republican).

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Don't worry, I've got a brand new Elf Basher 3000!


Yeah, I wouldn't tell them you're from San Fran. They might lynch you on principle. . . I would. ;-)

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I'll have you know I look good in tar and feathers being ridden out of town on a rail. Believe me, I know. San Francisco has done it to me several times. LOL

BevfromNYC said...

OMG LawHawk! Thank God you beat that stupid cancer! OMG! Okay, now that I've calmed down...(because it's all about me, you know!)

And big congrats on the new home! Enjoy all your new trees! They can be much more interesting to talk to than neighbors, but let us know if they start talking back to you, promise?

Am I going to be the only one living in liberal, urban craziness?? I feel so alone...

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: I talk to the trees, but they don't listen to me. But why should they be any different from my law students?

It's up to you now, soldier! You have to carry the conservative message to the urbanites. I'll be teaching it to the squirrels and raccoons.

My biggest obsession was having a dog again. A big, slobbery male, preferably. I was considering getting a mastiff like my old Winston, or a St. Bernard like my old Petunia, but there's a Great Pyrenees breeder in the area, and they're great dogs for the environs, at least when they're not mating with the coyotes.

When I finally told my older daughter that I was in chemotherapy, she said "cancer picked on the wrong guy this time." Thank the Good Lord she was right.

BevfromNYC said...

Law: I guess I'll muddle through the Urban Wars without any help. But watch those trees! They're filled with all sorts of things like leaves and birds and stuff. {{{shutter}}}}.

I hear there are alot of chihuahuas that need good homes too! If you get a couple of dozen of them and stack them up just right, they could look like a Great Pyrenees!

Have a good move and enjoy the country life. I look forward to hearing all about it.

StanH said...

Well that’s just farout my friend! I’ve always felt bad for you in SF, a beautiful city…but wow! Your new home sounds perfect, and I know the man whose written so many well considered conservative post, will be most welcome in any Red State, district, or otherwise known as real America. Welcome home buddy, and may your life continue to be eternally blessed!

PS: You still are the head of the SF Beer, Bread, and Wheelbarrow Syndicate, you’ll just be directing affairs from your country home! LOL!

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: I've been warned about the birds and bees before, but I think it was in a different context. Caliente Chihuahas, now there's a thought.

I will start extolling the virtues of the country life as soon as I've recovered my my packing prostration. I'm glad my daughters will be nearby, since I can never figure out which china, silver, and glassware goes with what and where you're supposed to put them.

I have trouble matching up teacups with their saucers. And now that I have a built-in mirrored china cabinet, I should be able to tell the good china from the cheap stuff. I now have two daughters and five granddaughters to correct my twenty years of bachelor ways.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: Thanks a million for the kind thoughts. I know I'm going to be a lot happier living where I don't have to watch every word I say, where I smoke, which trash goes in which container, look behind myself constantly to make sure thugs aren't following me, and generally living a much more relaxed life. No more smelly, dangerous Muni buses. No more anti-war riots. No more council meetings to decide if they should allow sex tents on the public street. And best of all, I am willing to bet the entire bank account that Barack Obama won't be having any fundraisers in Caliente.

BevfromNYC said...

But don't worry about the serial killers living behind the trees... Bwaaahhhhaaaahaahhaaa

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I hear feathers are very popular in San Fran? ;-)

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: Did I forget to tell everyone my actual name is Ted Kaczynski, Jr? I'm moving to a remote area so I can write my manifesto. LOL

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Wrong kind of feathers. But I do occasionally accessorize with a feather boa. When I was on the bench, it looked very nice with my basic black dress, um, robe.

AndrewPrice said...

I always knew there was something wrong with you judges! LOL!

darski said...

Congratulations and congratulations. The good Lord takes care of his own.

LawHawkSF said...

Darski: Thanks. This is a huge change in lifestyle for me, but I am really looking forward to it.

Monica said...

I'm very happy for you, on both counts!

LawHawkSF said...

Monica: It truly was a double bonus. The scare turned into a kick in the behind that said "it's time to quit dreaming, and start packing." I will now be going to my oldest granddaughter's middle-school graduation on June 2, which I would have missed (like so many other events in their lives) if I had stayed in San Francisco.

ScottDS said...

I know I'm late to this party but, as a suburban kid from Florida, I have to ask: What's a root cellar?

No more council meetings to decide if they should allow sex tents on the public street.

Sex tents? I assume you're not talking about these.

(Bad pun... I know.) :-)

LawHawkSF said...

Scott: A root cellar is a place to store certain vegetables and fruits to keep them dry and neither too hot nor too cold. It's always underground or partially underground. It's also a good place to store homemade booze, but I only know that from others. My aunt had two huge root cellars, but that was because she was in the flower bulb business (The Waterloo Bulb Farm), and those cellars are perfect for storing roots--hence, root cellar.

In San Francisco, the only time the locals would use your kind of sex tent is when they wanted to find a guy in blue so they could say "hi, sailor, new in town?"

BevfromNYC said...

You know, Scott! I am impressed that you even knew what a sextant was!

Hey LawHawk! You can now use the phrase "You kids get off my lawn!" It makes so much more sense when one actually HAS a lawn!

patti said...

thank you jesus on all fronts. little known patti fact: caliente is my favorite word to say with an accent! happy moving!

USArtguy said...

Congratulations, LawHawkSF on your new home and, most importantly, your good health report. You're lucky you have hair that will return ;-)

I guess now you'll have to drop the "SF" from your handle...

I've lived in the country and (currently) the city. While not as convenient to stores and such, I much prefer the country. If I have the right area in Google Maps, it looks like you'll actually be able to see more than a handful stars at night.

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, I didn't see stars for nearly ten years when I lived in D.C. -- too much light, too much humidity. I LOVE Colorado!!


Bev, Let's keep it clean. . . "sextant" indeed! ;-)

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: It's even more rural than that. Now I'll have to say "hey, you sheep, get off my lawn (or goats, or cattle)." LOL

LawHawkSF said...

Patti: I give those thanks every day.

When my kids were growing up, I had them convinced the words to the song "Cuando calienta el sol" meant "when hots the sun." I knew just enough Spanish to be dangerous.

LawHawkSF said...

USArtGuy: I thought about the name change. I haven't entirely decided. I've used that handle for nearly fifteen years since I first got on the internet, and it's hard to give up. LawHawkFormerlySF doesn't look too good. I'll work on it. LOL

I bought a telescope a long time back to watch the ships coming in through the Golden Gate. Now I can watch the stars and the planets and the moon instead. Cool, huh?

I've been a city boy so long, that when I was eight or nine, my family visited some old friends who had moved to an area near Caliente. It was a warm day, and I fell asleep on their lounge. When I woke up, it was night. I looked up, then ran into the house screaming "the sky's on fire." I didn't know those were stars. All that time, I had thought there were maybe five or six stars, plus the moon. I promise not to do that this time.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I know what you mean. I went from Chicago, to Downey (Los Angeles), to Berkeley/San Francisco, to New York City, to Livermore (not far from Oakland) to Simi Valley (just across the Los Angeles County line), and back to San Francisco. Never lived anywhere in a city with a population of much less than 100,000.

I'm now moving to a booming metropolis of 1,019 souls with one general store and a bar/restaurant about four miles away. Now, if I walk a half-mile, I'm either downtown or at Fisherman's Wharf. After the move, I have to walk a half-mile to get to my mailbox. This is DEFINITELY a change.

USArtguy said...

"Never lived anywhere in a city with a population of much less than 100,000. I'm now moving to a booming metropolis of 1,019 "

Yikes!

I hope you can take all that tranquility or else we'll be reading here a year or two from now how you miss the big city and are itching to get back.

Anonymous said...

That's great news on both counts, LawHawk! Hope all goes well with your move and I'm sure you'll enjoy the peace and quiet.

My sister married a farmer and they lived way out in the "boonies". It was really nice - a car would pass by maybe every 3 hours or so - and the silence was palpable. It wasn't an eerie kind of silence either, just peaceful. TJ

DCAlleyKat said...

LawHawk :-) on your good health results! And welcome to the land of wide open spaces! I love it and am sure you will also, in no time you'll be just another hick in the sticks...hey, you could title it
"The Hick Chronicles" or "The Stick Journals"! Far out man....

Writer X said...

LawHawk,

So very glad to hear that you are feeling better, although it would have been cool if you had picked Arizona. I'm very glad to hear that you've got great digs with your family. Family is really all that matters, when it comes right down to it, especially when you can stand to be around each other. :-)

Best to you and your health!

rlaWTX said...

I know that this is very late (- but with the move, maybe it'll be timely for when you get set-up again?) Anyway, congrats all around!!
I can't imagine how you felt, but I identify with your kids (- but the chemo killed my dad's heart instead of the invaders.) So, here's a hearty WOOHOO for this turn out!

I was in DFW for the weekend and was thrilled to see the stars as I drove home last night. They give an "Almighty" feeling!

Best wishes!!!

LawHawkSF said...

USArtguy: I scared my son half to death when we got about halfway down I-5 and I said "I changed my mind, I want to go back." For some reason, he didn't see the humor in it.

LawHawkSF said...

TJ: I don't see cars passing by at all. My house is the last turnoff from the main road, and this is as far as it goes. I do occasionally see my nearest neighbors coming home from work, but that's about it.

What is wonderful is that I'm located near a spur of the Southern Pacific. About twice a day, I hear the clackety-clack sound of the train's wheels, and that wonderfully mournful train whistle.

What's hardest to get used to is just how dark the dark is. No city lights, no light pollution, no nothing. When I turn the lights off, it's as black as pitch.

LawHawkSF said...

DCAlleyKat: Yep. I've already started chomping on a piece of hay to keep the salivary glands in good shape. LOL

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: Arizona had been my first choice for multiple reasons. But I stuck with California because of the kids and grandkids. It was fantastic. It's the first time the whole family has been together in one place in at least six years, and there were a lot fewer of us back then. Two of the grandkids have already announced that they're living with me (are they in for a surprise?). But for the first time in a very long time, I can have the Thanksgiving get-together again, and unlike the case with San Francisco, they don't have to drive six hours to get here, and I have room enough for everyone and then some.

LawHawkSF said...

rlaWTX: I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out for your dad. I have been blessed many times, but I can't for the life of me figure out why.

Your avatar reminded me that there was one little being who wasn't at all happy about any of this. Kitty Kelly was a wreck for two or three weeks. She knew something was up, but she wasn't sure what.

Then, about four days before the move, she decided to play in one of the grocery bags I had lying around for trash. As she came back out, she got her head caught in one of the handles. My sweet cat suddenly turned into a rabid mountain lion. And somehow, she blamed me. Once I got the handle off her, she was still angry. And then there was the indignity of having to ride 475 miles in a cat-carrier.

But she has now systematically sniffed out and nosed into everything in the new house, and has declared it a winner. She has more room to wander in than she ever imagined. Still, right now, she's sitting on the desk portion of the computer cabinet as usual, watching me typing my comments.

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