Meeting us in Three Rivers was Steve, Karol's son, and his family: his two girls, Karey Anne and Kristen, and their mother Karen. Because Steve now lives in Michigan, he took this opportunity to spend a little time with them, even though it was no family vacation. Steve was committed to helping us get the stuff into the truck and to the ministorage space.
Three Rivers is home to a vacation home my father and stepmother developed, using two prefabricated fibreglas domes. My father designed a wood deck that looks over the river, on which the two domes were placed. He designed a separate outside bathroom for river bathers in between the domes. One dome is living-kitchen-dining, the other is bedroom-bath. The domes were installed many years ago - I think in the 1980s, as a stopgap way to have a home on the river without spending too much money and to have it ready before my stepmother died. She had emphysema and was a few years older than my father, and none of us knew how much time she had left.
Over the years we had many Thanksgiving dinners there, mainly my father, stepmother, brother Mike, and our families. After Elizabeth, my stepmother, died, my father's third wife, Francisca, joined us. These were not the dinners of the Hallmark cards or phone company families. But that's a story for another time.
Our rendevous yesterday was with our memories. It was hard to look at what had become of this place by the river, to recognize that we could never go back.
Since my father died we tried once to have Thanksgiving there again, Mike and I. It wasn't bad but we haven't done it again. The domes and deck have deteriorated badly, to the point where it is not safe to walk on the deck. A few years ago my leg went through. Yesterday Karen went through completely. Fortunately, she wasn't hurt!
The stuff. My father and Elizabeth and Francisca brought things into this home from their other home, and after my father and Elizabeth died, karol hauled much from their apartment to a storage area below the deck. Thus the home was fully equipped and then some, until persons unknown broke in and stole whatever was saleable. I think we were lucky in that, in a way. Less to worry about and it wasn't personal stuff. What was left was books, records, sheet music, drawings, kitchen equipment, furniture, slides and photographs, and miscellaneous miscellaneous. Our mission: to separate the wheat from the chaff, particularly the heavy wheat, and get that out of there. My notes follow, notes I made "as it happened", as they say.
Friday, November 12
It is 6:21 in the morning, Friday, and I can't get online. I am in a Holiday Inn Express that has network cables in the rooms and has wireless access in the lobby. I brought my cell phone, which I figured would be my way in if other options failed. But I forgot to bring the cable that connects it to the computer. And I discovered last night that my ethernet driver is not installed, and is not on my drivers disk (which I did have with me) so I can't connect to the cable in the room. I went down to the lobby this morning and detected the wireless network and presumably was connected ( my computer said I was) but I could not go online.
So I write, hoping I'll be able to upload this later.
How could I not have that cable with me? I keep it in my laptop case. But for some reason I took it out and left it at home. I presume at home. Where else? Part of my trying to rearrange my laptop case to function better, I believe.
The room also does not have phone books. I thought maybe I could locate a T-mobile place near here and see what a cable would cost.
Yesterday was insane!
I left home THursday morning at about 6:45 a.m., drove to the Burbank airport, with one stop for the bathroom. I picked up Karol at the airport at about 10:10, we went to the Getty to see an exhibit of Cezanne watercolors. We also viewed another exhibit on the development of watercolor over four centuries, and took in a Greek exhibit - "coming of age" - children in Greek art. We wanted food but the line at the cafe was too long to fit into our schedule. Because Karol had made a reservation at the LA County Museum of Art to see a special exhibit - the Phillips collection of impressionist art - for 2:00. We hightailed it from one museum to the other, actually were out of our car in the parking building for the LA museum at about four minutes after two. We needn't have rushed so much. We picked up the tickets and were told we had to wait in line. There was quite a line for the 2:00 viewing. The way it worked was that people would go in at their set time (initially, anyway) but could stay as long as they wanted. So new people could only get in when others had left. We got in late, close to 2:30.
It was so crowded! I felt there was a protocol on where you could stand, so I did my best not to get in others' ways. MOst of the people in there had opted for the exhibit tape - that is, the thing you listen to on earphones as you look at the pictures. I usually see a few of these but not this time. Almost everyone had them. Did they know something we didn't?
The crowds really made the experience not so wonderful. But in the collection were some absolutely fabulous works. As Karol said, it was worth it for just one of the Renoirs. A garden painting that just lit up the room. The Boating Party, I think is the name.
We had to look at the museum shop, briefly, and bought a few things, then we had lunch at the cafeteria-style cafe. Really nice choices! Very reasonably priced, too. What a find. Then back on the road again, with the hope that we'd get to the motel in time for the meeting. The meeting was to begin at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
We just barely made it to the hotel in time for the board meeting Thursday afternoon. For once, everyone was there just about on time. The meeting lasted three hours or so, usual for this gang, and we discussed a ton of stuff, also usual. Karol and I agreed to meet Frank again the following morning (Friday), with Nicholas, a man who has been tentatively chosen as curator for a major Lautner exhibit at the Hammer museum. He is at the beginning of the process right now and he wanted to meet karol and me.
I woke Friday morning before five and couldn't get back to sleep. I was thinking about the troubles I had the night before getting online with my laptop. I was unable to connect using the ethernet cable in the room, and we didn't have time to go downstairs to check the wireless connection in the lobby. I figured I would go downstairs, connect and download the needed driver for the ethernet connection. So I was up and showered and downstairs and I couldn't get online. I was connected, according to the icon, but I couldn't get online. I asked the clerk at the front desk if he knew anything and he didn't, so I gave up. Later, today, I tried to get connected at a Starbucks through a T-mobile hotspot and the same thing happened, so I am thinking i screwed something up with my wireless modem configuration.
One item on the agenda at the board meeting was the printing of "fine art prints" of drawings of Lautner buildings. Drawings from the archive. I was interested in seeing the type prints that Duncan was talking about. Duncan being the board member who did the research. Duncan said we could call him the following morning and he would give us the address of the printer - in Santa Monica - and we could go meet him and see samples of prints. So we figured we would do that first, then meet with Frank and Nicholas.
It's Saturday night now and I am sick and tired, literally, but for some reason I do feel an obligation to continue this chronology. There has been an insanity to every day so far on this trip.
Yesterday morning - Friday - I made coffee and had a cup, then Karol got up, got dressed, and we took a walk in the Silverlake area. We were at a Holiday Inn Express near a freeway and we saw several murals painted under the freeway on our walk. None of the murals had been graffitied, and we wondered if they might have a protective coating.
After our quick walk we packed up, checked out, and headed for Santa Monica. We found the art print place and talked to an artist who was sharing the space and to the bookkeeper because the person who runs the print shop was out of town. We learned enough, saw enough, to make us feel we knew what was what, so we were satisfied. And we were in time to get back to Silverlake for the meeting with Frank and Nicholas, at Frank's office, which is close to the hotel.
As this day wore on I realized that i was in fact sick. For a few days before this trip, I had an earache and wondered if I might be getting sick. I was able to answer that question. I sniffled and sneezed from the moment I arrived in Los Angeles, and progressively got worse.
We met Nicholas and Frank after 11:00, because Nicholas got stuck on the freeway getting there. He lives in Ojai and never knows what traffic he's going to hit. We had a good meeting, learning a lot more about the exhibit and how Nicholas and Frank see it, then we went out to lunch at a cool restaurant called "Netty's" nearby. It went a little long, though. We finally got out of town at three-ish, after stopping at Radio Shack to buy a new cable for the laptop. Thinking maybe we'd be able to get online here in Three Rivers.
The gas level in my car was low at this point but far from critical. So we figured we'd get onto I-5, then find a convenient stop to get gas.
It wasn't long before we ran into heavy traffic
Sat night, 7:57 p.m.
Yes. Traffic on I-5 took a turn for the very worse not long after we got on it. There was an electronic sign that said there was an accident on Valencia and it was one-lane only at that location, and there was congestion all the way there. I did not know how far we were from Valencia, did not know how long this congestion would last. I think if we had any clue we would have looked at a map for a way to get onto 99 that did not involve I-5. We were stuck in traffic for over two hours, bumper to bumper, the very worse type driving for any car, including my baby hybrid. After many long minutes the gas gauge started looking ominous and the battery was depleting as well. I knew I had to get off and find gas but there was no way off, not for miles. By the time we found an exit I was feeling very nervous. I did not want to run out of gas in the middle of a traffic jam on I-5. We frantically searched for a gas station and rushed into the first we found, a Chevron.
But it was not to be quite that easy. I ran Karol's credit card through the slot and flipped the handle, but no gas came out. I tried again. Nothing. I figured the pump was bad because it was looking worn and was slipping, so I moved the car to another. Then the credit card came back "unauthorized" even though we had not added anything to it. The guy at the pay booth said they couldn't authorize two charges from the same card. What the hell?? I paid the asshole twenty bucks, having by then learned that they were out of regular, and got the next grade up.
Heidi was feeling much better then. The battery started to recharge and we all felt happier. But hungry. It was about six then. So we found a Mexican restaurant across the street from the gas station and had dinner there.
It was a surprisingly good restaurant. I had a veggie burrito that included freshly grilled vegetables and rice and black beans, with a corn relish on top, and a side of fresh avocado. It was also a very busy restaurant, so we ate in the bar. Where we met a woman who came in after us - Karol offered her a seat at our table - and she told us of an alternate route to avoid the accident traffic. She told us that three semis had crashed at about 11 that morning and they had been cleaning up the mess ever since.
Refreshed and refilled, we found the alternate route and, with a few false turns, followed it until we could see that I-5 was flowing freely again, then entered it. At this point it was well after seven and we were really just at the beginning of our journey. We didn't reach Three Rivers until after 10:30 last night. We had to bang on the doors to roust someone at the motel where we had a reservation, then he charged us ten bucks more per night than karol had been quoted. She had a few things to say about that and he finally dropped it to about three bucks over, and we accepted that. We gratefully slid into our beds after having a glass of wine.
Sunday morning, 5:19 a.m.
Surprisingly sleepless night. My mind wouldn't turn off. Karol too was up several times and even stayed up a while at one point.
Yesterday morning, Saturday, we woke early as usual and tried to make coffee in the room coffee maker. But the water didn't pump through. It just sat there. Frustrated, we dressed and went to the office for their breakfast bar at about seven. It is supposed to be ready at seven but the doors were locked. Karol banged on them until a woman came to let us in. She was in the process of filling up the various parts of the breakfast bar. We told her about the coffee maker and she said she would have someone look at it.
We had breakfast. I gather these breakfast bars are all the rage now. This one had a do-it-yourself waffle maker. Two, actually. I had to have a waffle just because it was there, and added cold cereal, juice, coffee, and a piece of a cinnamon roll. We were thus fortified for the beginning of another long day, and headed back to the room to get what we needed for the first Three Rivers step. This was checking the domes and seeing what we needed to reinforce the deck so that heavy things could be moved out. Then buying the lumber, finding a storage place and renting it, and finally picking up a moving van from Visalia, about 30 miles away. When we left the motel room to go to the domes I tried the motel room door and found that it did not lock. The card key was meaningless because the door was always open. Back to the office to report this difficulty. The woman said the lock person would look at it later. She offered to move us to another room but we decided to stay in this one. Figured it would be fixed by the time we got back, and we would have our most valuable items with us anyway.
We found the property well disintegrated. It wasn't safe to walk on the deck. There were several holes in it. I did not look into the domes. Karol and Steve did. So they apparently had an idea of the space that we needed to store the stuff that was of value.
By a stroke of luck, Dana, a man who has been cleaning up the property and doing other odd jobs for Karol, had called earlier and put her onto a new storage place in Woodlake, about twenty minutes from Three Rivers. There was also a lumber yard there. We trekked over there, Steve in the van, Karol and I in my car, to acquire lumber and to look at storage.
Steve had arrived in a van Friday night with his two girls and their mother, whom he had been visiting in San Jose. They were staying at another motel that had more room. The three women were still asleep at this time, so it was easy enough for Steve to take off.
The lumber yard was easy to find and the price right and the people helpful. Steve took off with the lumber in the van while Karol and I took off for the storage place. We found a nice young man in the office, many fresh new storage units. He showed us the ten X fifteen size, which karol thought was what we needed, the price was right, we went for it. Then off to Visalia to rent a truck. Another reasonably easy transaction. Karol bought four largish boxes there, too, in case we wanted to pack dishes and so on. While she drove off in the truck, back to Three Rivers, I stayed behind to see if I could get my laptop online. I went to Radio Shack, where I learned that they wanted $70 for the software that went with the cable another Radio Shack had sold me. I said forget it, and they refunded the money. I tracked down a cell store, which was closed, and tried to track down a T-mobile dealer, but it wasn't where advertised. By this time it was noon, so I grabbed a sandwich at Subway and ate it on the way to Three Rivers, after picking up the boxes that Karol had left behind (she called). It was during this time that I attempted to go online through a Starbucks hotspot but couldn't. I talked to Elaine on my cell phone, got her login info, but I could not get connected right. the same thing that happened in Los Angeles. I am afraid I will have to spend time with Dell on the phone when I get home.
The whole gang was on its way to lunch when I arrived, so I joined them. Then we all returned to the domes and worked on cleaning up and hauling things to the truck. I had suspected that we wouldn't really need that large a storage space but I hadn't seen what was there. Turns out I was right. After working several hours we didn't even half fill the truck. We did, however, get a ton of stuff into trash bags and piled by the door. Easier to differentiate that way. I decided to take the photos and slides home so I can look them over, scan what's worth it, and then send them to karol or to Frank for the archive. There turned out to be a lot more than I expected, and Karol says there are a lot more in the locked storage below the domes.
To be continued...almost done, promise...