How Not to Serve Clam Chowder

Today, for the first time since quarantine began, I went to visit the Getty Center. There was an interesting exhibit of paintings by Hans Holbein the Younger, plus the usual permanent collection.

After seeing the Holbeins, I walked down to the café and ordered a cup of clam chowder. It was good and hot and tasty. I got up to get some black pepper, but when I returned to the table, I managed to dump most of the chowder into my lap, with some going on my shirt and other bits on my work boots.

There is no way to look cool when you are wearing a serving of clam chowder. I did the best I could to wipe the chunky bits off my clothes. Then I looked for a bench in an isolated part of the grounds and sat there to let the soup dry off my clothing.

On the plus side, I did see some interesting paintings. The idea came to me to write follow-up postings on individual art works that particularly impressed me—which I will start in a day or two.

I regret to say that I am off clam chowder for the time being.

Last Look at an Old Beauty

My 1994 Nissan Pathfinder: A Last Look

It doesn’t look its age at all, does it. (Of course, the accident marred the other side only.) As my vehicle was insured with Mercury Insurance, and they declared it a total loss, I was faced with a difficult choice. Before long, I would have to start spending big bucks on a new engine, new automatic transmission, and so on. Or I could take what Mercury offered me and lease a new car. I chose to do the latter. Already, I would rent a car every time I took a longer field trip, to Santa Barbara or the Desert or other point farther afield. The combination of impending repairs and car rentals would soon begin to weigh heavily on my finances.

So … sniff … good-bye.

This afternoon, I leased a 2018 Subaru Forester for 36 months.

Double Whammy

Martine at Captain Kidd’s Fish Market in 2006

Troubles, when they occur, rarely occur in isolation. Today, I was inundated. First of all, Martine has decided to leave me two weeks from today. We have been together for thirty years—not actually married—but man and wife for all intents and purposes. My little French girl, like her mother before her, has a tête Normande, a so-called “Norman head,” famous for stubbornness. Around the same time, she got tired of Los Angeles, my apartment in Los Angeles, and me. I know she is initially headed for Sacramento, where she lived when I first met her, but where she goes from there is anyone’s guess.

I still love her and would give anything to continue our relationship, but that does not seem to be enough for her at this point. Once before, in 2005, she left me for several months. But that was to take care of her mother, who was not being well cared for in the institution where she was housed. She came back then; and I hope she will come back again. If not, my life must go on.

Every day, I see large numbers of crumpled-looking old people who can barely get around to do the basic chores of their life. I have no intention of succumbing to that condition. As Dylan Thomas wrote:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I still have places to go and things to do. And books to read.

A second trouble also hit me between the eyes today. You may recall I wrote about an accident I had last Saturday. Today, Mercury Insurance declared my car a total loss, which it really isn’t. Although my 1994 Nissan Pathfinder is twenty-three years old, it is still a gem of a car, with relatively new tires. But I may have to give it up, because, once it is declared a total loss, I get nothing but Blue Book value (plus or minus). Perhaps it would be cheaper to lease a new car than to deal with upcoming major repairs, such as a replacement engine or transmission. So it goes.

I loved both my girl and my car and must say good-bye to both of them around the same time.



It Eventually Had to Happen

My Right Front Headlight

I have been twenty-two years without an auto accident. It had to happen eventually, and fortunately no one was hurt.

On Saturday, Martine and I went to the Greek Festival at Santa Sophia Cathedral near downtown. It was a hot day with temperatures going up to 90° (32º Celsius) or more. We spent most of the time in their air-conditioned parish hall sampling the Greek goodies. When it was time to go, we went to our car, which was parked at Saint Ignatius High School’s parking lot and headed north on Dewey Street. Just as we approached Pico Boulevard, a driver in a parked car opened his door, which my Nissan slammed into, wedging his driver’s side door hard against my passenger side door. Martine was seated about three inches from the impact.

My Nissan Pathfinder is now having some body work done. It appears that I will have no blame in this particular incident, as my car was parallel to his when I hit his car door.

The driver was a Latino who didn’t quite understand how accidents are handled in the United States. I felt sorry for him. Luckily, he was insured. He wanted to call the police in. I encouraged him to and offered to wait. He was disappointed when, upon calling them a second time, they told him they weren’t coming out unless someone was injured. He shook his head and said he didn’t understand how this country worked. That’s OK: Neither do I. In the end, we wound up shaking hands. I didn’t turn out to be the Gringo pig he expected (at least I hope).

Damaged were to my front bumper, right headlight, a gash on the panel to the right of the engine, and my right rear-view mirror, which hangs on two thin wires.

An Improving Broken Shoulder

How I Looked Before Physical Therapy

How I Looked Before Physical Therapy

Well, it looks as if I no longer qualify for that bellringer’s job. Before showing up at UCLA Rehab last week, I looked like the character above. But thanks to the skill of my physical therapists. aided and abetted by blasting caps and a jackhammer, I am able to move my arms almost as well a monkey in the trees.

This is hardly new to me. In 2002, when I had a left hip replacement, I had my first experience with physical therapy—with such success that my surgeon had to check his records to see which hip he had operated on, so natural was my walk. Then, in 2006, I slipped and fell on the ice during a blizzard in Tierra Del Fuego and cracked my humerus against a high concrete curb. Again, the PTs brought the affected limb back to life. Now, I broke the other shoulder on Saturday, March 14.

I am almost convinced that there is little that physical therapists cannot do. Well, not quite. They weren’t able to do much for the right arm of the guy in the picture below.

A Really Challenging Case for Recovering Full Range of Motion

A Really Challenging Case for Recovering Full Range of Motion

So my hearty thanks to Lynn and Prachi and their colleagues at UCLA Outpatient Rehabilitation and the miracles they accomplish.


A Matched Set

Yechhhh! I Did It Again!

Yechhhh! I Did It Again!

I went halfway around the world in 2006 to break my right shoulder by slipping on the ice in Ushuaia in Argentina’s Tierra Del Fuego. Last night, I did it again—this time to my left shoulder—right across the street from where I live in West Los Angeles. Last week, the city had scraped off the surface asphalt from the street in order to lay down a fresh layer, eventually. Unfortunately, the street surface was wildly uneven, and it was dark. While returning from a Persian restaurant across the street with my friends Bob and Suzanne, I stepped off the curb all right but missed the second step-down. My body twisted and I fell down hard on the street.

Fortunately, my head did not make contact either with the street or a nearby parked car, but my left knee and right hand got bruised. Suzanne, who is a nurse, immediately suggested I go to emergency; and they kindly drove me to the ER at Santa Monica UCLA Hospital.

Tomorrow morning, I will have to make an appointment with an orthopedist. Although my left shoulder is disrupted in several different directions and I may require surgery, the pain level is tolerable. I won’t be able to drive for a few weeks. Actually, my bruised knee bothers me more than the shoulder; and I’ll have to have that looked at as well. (In the ER, as Suzanne explained it, my shoulder trauma prevented my knee pain from throbbing .)

So it goes.