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Figbuck Chronicles...


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Now let me pause here to give a little back story. When my parents moved to the suburbs in San Mateo County and I was a new kid in school, I was an obvious target. I stuck out. In the City, we wore slacks and arrow shits, nice sweaters and shined our shoes. We used Alberto VO5 or Vitalis to comb our razor cut hair. In the 'burbs there were basically two cliques of kids that were seperated along geographic and class lines. On one side of the tracks were the middle and upper middle class families who seemed to be all surfers. Maybe three quarters of the school were these kids that rode new Schwinn Stingrays and wore white Levi's, blue Keds boat shoes and white T-shirts with a solid stripe. Everybody sported the requsite surfer mop of hair and never owned a comb.


The greaser kids used Dixie Peach Pomade to slick their hair back. They wore black Ben Davis work pants and White Duck brand pinstripped work shirts and pointy black boots they called nigger stompers. Most of these kids took the bus up from across the tracks and had attitude. It was funny to me, because the groups of kids I came up with in city schools grew into gangs that formed along racial lines. Any of the number of white, black, Asian, Mexican gangs could lay any of these suburban wannabees to waste. But, they were still intimidating to the even more lame rich little white kids living in the hills.


I got put into a French class that was taught by an unbelievably hot young teacher named Miss Waldren. She drove a '65 Mustang convertible and showed cleavage that just made the guys crazy. In that one class were the biggest fuck-ups in the whole school and they would continue to hold that position through highshcool graduation. These bullies were what the surfers called hard guys. I guess they never got attention at home and they acted out at school.


In any other class I might have got my ass pounded by these guys. Miss Waldren knew how to wrap them around her little finger like nobody else could and actually got us to speak some French. One kid named Eddie must have been held back a grade... or two. He was the only kid in Junior high that shaved. When we started eighth grade he and another kid had grown their hair long over the summer. I mean it was like half way over their ears, think early beatles. This was so outrageous in 1965 that they got sent home the first morning for hair cuts.


Eddie was the first kid in our class to get a drivers license and have a car a year before anybody else. It was a primered '64 Falcon that was jacked way up and had a big block with glass packs poking out behind some "cut out" racing headers. Seeing Eddie and his long sideburns cruzin' the main drag, made mothers clutch their small children. He was never a friend of mine or anything, but at least he didn't harass me like everybody else.


Eddie had this mannerism that hope I can decribe. I think it was copied from a TV character that appeared on Saturday afternoon wrestling. This guys name was Ray Stevens. Think of Hulk Hogan only old school 'Rastlin'. Ray Stevens talked out of the side of his mouth in a raspy gutteral tone. He had these phrases that became part of his TV persona. "You pencil neck geek" and I'm gonna break your pencil neck", he talked out of the side of his mouth with his jaw way off to one side, and then finished every phrase with a kind of grunt. Eddie had it down perfectly as kind of a Urt or Ert. There was a sort of quick R sound like Rurt. Sometimes it was more like a Rort or Roeett, with the inflection going up at the end.


Eddie was not the brightest kid in school. He had the dumbest sense of humor if you could call it that. When ever he made a funny comment or some kind of condesending cut, after a slight pause, he would follow it up with a quick gutteral, Hutt, like he was laughing at his own joke. Funny how everybody laughed, stupid as it always was. I did, I didn't want him to pick me up by my ankles and shake the change out of my pockets.


When we were like juniors, all of us were sitting around getting wasted and somebody started to do Ray Stevens and somebody else started doing Eddie. This little retort out of the side of our mouths and facial mannerism stuck for a long time. It was the smilely face of that time, letting others know we were exagerating or being ridiculous. As the years went on, the rUrt morphed into a kind of Reet. You could say it staight with clear enunciation. Reet was even funnier if you were in on the inside joke. It got to the place where this got picked up buy other kids at school. They had no idea how it came about and before we knew it, you were hearing it in the halls. Nobody thought this was funnier than Eddie. He pluged right into the new style. First time we heard him say Reet in a high little voice like a girl, I almost died laughing.


Back at Venturi's road house... we go outside to get some air and up comes two brand new, Arlen Ness styled choppers, parking right in front of the door and up along side of the Angel's rat bikes. You see choppers everywhere now. In the seventies this was totally cutting edge stuff. Painted murals and every part tricked out of billet. They didn't build them for show. They were for launching fast and loud in a straight line. I was amazed that they were able to ride all the way out through the twisties in the dark!


Lo and behold it's Eddie and GT, unreal. Eddie, goes."Henry, Clary, what the fuck y'all doing up in here... Hutt ? "Henry, "Oh man, just jammin' and doing our thang, you know." Eddie says, "All right, we came to the right place... rURT!"


They go in and join the crowd. We look at these bikes in amazement. There is some serious time, money and a real unified statement of modern chopper style. It's cooling off, and we go back into the hot smokey bar to freshen our drinks and play some more.


Through most of the set, Eddie and GT are playing pool right near where I was. I move my mike stand back into the corner of the room so my horn doesn't get dented by a drunk cue stick. I remember Henry was learning how to play slide really well, and had a Les Paul Custom that he played though a 100 watt Marshall. We were so loud in this little dump, but the crowd absorbed it and the PA and amps were only on seven.


I have a total view of the whole bar. I see the Angels finally get up and leave. In the middle of an Allman Brothers tune, some girl comes running up to Eddie and GT very animated. She is waving her hands and pointing to the front. All of a sudden they bolt out the door. I couldn't tell what that was about, but these drunk Angels had gone out front, seen these choppers parked with their rat bikes and kicked them over.


A minute or so later, I see the front door explode open with a virtual ball of fists and kicks bowling into the crowd. Everybody presses back to give them room. Henry looks over his shoulder at me. I have the horn in my mouth playing backgrounds, so I raise my eyebrows like Whaaat? Henry mouths, "TURN ME UP!", and nods his head toward the amp. I crank it all the way open as the other guys do the same thing. We all keep playing, Henry's slide sound soaring about the mayhem.


Most of the crowd had moved outside and then the brawl with it. I can see the bartender on the phone to the Sheriff. The place had emptied out. We finish the set and go out for some air. There are two Sheriff's cars, a CHP unit and the three Hell's Angels are sitting or laid out on the ground all battered with blood everywhere. No sign of Eddie and GT.


The cops are trying to get the story straight. The girl that came in to tell Eddie and GT their bikes had been messed with, points towards the coast and says, "They went thatta way". The HyPO jumps in his car and tears off. Somebody else says to her, " Hey, you know they went back up the mountian to Skylonda right? She says, "Yeah, I know".


Eddie and GT beat the living daylights out of these three Hell's Angles. The Sheriffs are now patting these guys down and pulling all of kinds of guns and knives from everywhere. An ambulance has shown up and medics are patching these guys up so they can go off in hancuffs.




I've seen a couple of little skuffles in some of the sleazy clubs I have gigged in, but nothing like this. At our thirty year highschool reunion there was a small group of very nicely dressed folks that I didn't recognize, but we had 600 people in our graduation class, I didn't know most people. Later I ask a gal friend that I had seen talking to the group who they were. She said, the distinguished looking guy with the gray beard and hair wearing a three piece suit, was Eddie. No way!! Never would have guessed. I would have loved to hear the other side of that story...



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Man... I just wanna sit down for hours and read mounds of your stories.


I understand Hypo stands for police, but I don't FULLY understand it. What's the deal there?


if i am understanding correctly it means highway patrol.


good story though.

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  • 4 months later...

I been a little side tracked lately. I forgot about this thread. After I wrote the last story, nobody replied to it and I figured you all must think I'm crazy. One time I checked back and the reader count was at 620 and stayed that way for a couple months! Too bizarre! I was surprised to see the comments about my word for CHIPs. Arnold's private army!


The times we live in are getting pretty strange. Just when you think things are going to calm down, the next batch of crazy stuff happens.


We woke up this morning and got a foot of snow in an hour. It is snowing like crazy and even though it is a Sunday morning, all the freeways and surface streets are completely stopped with people that got caught out without chains. Just sitting here watching the live news coverage of idiots trying to drive in the snow. A couple hours ago it was clear, but they have been talking about this arctic front moving in for a week. Glad the Datsun is in the garage, it's a winter wonderland! :D


Yesterday I was going through this big box of photographs that I have been dragging around with me, every place I have ever lived. I came across these photographs I haven't seen at in a long time.


I was in the Army Band and stationed at Fort Ord in Monterey, California at the end of 1974. My roomate was a really good piano player that grew up in Topanga Canyon. He drove a Datsun 1200 and we were pretty tight. His sister was a ski bum and had a job working at the ski resort at Mamouth Mountain. She said we could come up and stay at her place during the Christmas holidays. We had some vacatation time saved up so we took off on a road trip.


For the most part there wasn't very much snow and all the roads and passes were still open. The second day we were there, people started talking about a big storm that was moving in. In the afternoons, after the ski lifts closed people either used to hit the bars or else drive down a couple miles into the desert, east across highway 395, to a place called the Fish Hatchery.


There is a gravel road off 395 that ends in a big parking area for the hatchery tours and there is also a trail head where you can walk down to a big creek that drains off the mountians to the west into the flat desert to the east. It is ice cold, crystal clear snow melt, except that there are hot springs all over the area. There are a couple of fenced off places where there are swiming areas for the public and signs warning of deadly hot scalding areas closed off for sarety.


The creek is only about three to five feet deep and anywhere from twenty to thirty feet wide. The bottom is fine sand and hot water bubbles up out of the sand heating the creek to over a hundred degrees. Depending on where you swim, you can pick the temperature you want. If you get too hot you can float over a few feet into ice cold snow melt. It is like the ultimate hot tub. Great views of the sun setting over Mamouth mountian to the west and the surrounding desert.


I have been out there in the summer and it was totally deserted the whole after noon I was there. During the ski season there can be a hundred or more people soaking in the hot water after skiing all day. It is the biggest naked party I have ever been to. Hot chicks and hunky guys, buck naked, smoking bongs and drinking ice cold bottles of champagne chilled in the snow banks around the creek. Pretty wild place every afternoon.


We are sitting in the hot water watching naked girls and the sunset. Slowly it looks like wind is whipping the top of the mountain. Some people are starting to talk about leaving so they don't get caught in the blizzard. Bilzzard? There is blue sky and a full moon rising. In just a few minutes Momouth Mountain is covered in a snow storm. We just made it back to the little house we were staying at when the blizzard hit.


The next morning we woke up with everything covered in snow.




They closed the ski lifts because of high wind, so we decided to take our tobogans over to the closest ski lift and have some fun. This was early in the morning. Later in the day the truck was not even visible any more. I'm going, WOW SNOW!!




My friend and his sister...




Every run we were hiking further and further up the hill until we were completely out of control at the bottom. I actually crashed so hard that I dislocated my right shoulder. My buddy had to pull my arm to get it to pop back in. It's been messed up ever since. It was snowing so hard that we got a little turned around trying to find our way back to the house. We got snowed in for the next two days.


We needed to drive back and report for duty right after New Year's Day or risk being AWOL. It stopped snowing during the night on New Year's Eve and so we decided we needed to dig the truck out, chain up and drive up to Tahoe and go back over the Seirra Nevadas on Interstate 80. The weather was clear but we were driving pretty slow . It had been plowed but there was virtually no other traffic and it was a mess.




Late in the day, between the failing light and the returning snow, we were not really sure how close we were to the turnoff to Tahoe. My windshield wipers were starting to freeze up and I wasn't alway sure where the road went. Finally we we came up behind a big truck that was cutting a great path for us and could actualy see where he was going. This was very encouraging for like twenty miles, until he puts on his turn signal and turns into a little side road. :eek:


It is dark now, snowing like crazy. We are running out of fuel, getting cold and having a really hard time seeing through the frozen winshield. At one point I just stopped because I was afraid I was going to crash. The situation was getting pretty sketchy, when my friend said we got to keep going or we are going to die out here.


We scraped the windshield one more time and made it up another mile where the intersection to the short cut to South Shore Tahoe was. I can't remember the name of the grade. It is really steep and long, but way shorter that driving all the way up to Carson City and then over 80, plus we were out of gas. There were two snow plow trucks that came down the grade and we followed them back up the grade into Shouth Shore. Pure dumb luck or we woud have been a Datsun-sickle.


We hit the buffet at Ceasar's Tahoe and then drove all night to make it back to Monterey.


You know, I used to think nothing about taking road trips all over the place. Gas was $.48 a gallon and we would run down to LA on Friday night and come back on Sunday night. Or run to Tahoe or go up into Northern California and camp in the Redwoods or Lassen, Shasta or Yosemite. I used to drive the Datsun thirty or forty thousand miles a year. The last few years I was lucky to drive it three or four thousand miles a year.


It's time for a road trip again.

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Yeah, I read about that Datsun Weekend. It sounds like it would be worth doing. I know most all of the Northern California back roads. I will have to look for some pics of my excursions for those stories! It ain't a thread if it don't have pics... right?


I'm still rummaging around in the big box of photographs and I came up with a few that brought back great memories. I'm not complaining, but 2008 will not be a year that I have especially fond memories of. When I look at these pictures, I am reminded of particular days and times when things were good and everybody seemed to be doing well.


I got turned on to sports cars and racing when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I belonged to the Central YMCA in downtown San Francisco. I was a member of the Swim Club and our sponsor was young Chinese/American guy named Boni. He lived in Chinatown and spoke all these dialects of Chinese but also grew up on the streets and spoke english like we all did with no hint of an accent. He was about 21 or so and had a brand new Austin-Healy 3000.


One time, another kid and I went with him up to Sacramento for some Y Club deal. Driving up Highway 80 out past Vacaville, maybe by Dixon, he rolled it on and we were wide eyed as the speedo went past 110 MPH. That thing was so low to the ground, and the howling dual exhausts were right under the floor, it made your heart pound from adreniline. Ten years old and I was hooked on speed!


On Saturdays after our swim club workouts, we used to go up into a room with no windows that we used for our club meetings. Boni set up a 16mm movie projector and we cut the lights off. Every week Boni brought these films about cars and racing. We used to watch black and white documentaries of vintage Formula One racing in Europe. There were color films sponsored by Miller High Life Beer, The Champagne of Bottles Beers... If You Got the Time We Got the Beer!! They were films of the first NASCAR races, only they called them stock cars. Film of the first Daytona 500s run on the sand at the beach and later races with Richard Petty and Fireball Roberts at Talladega, or The Lady In Black, Darlington. The stuff I liked the most were the yearly documentaries of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


When I was in the Army, stationed in Monterey, I got turned on to Laguna Seca Raceway. The first races I saw there in the '70s were early IMSA (International Motor Sports Assn.) races and the CanAm Series. In the '80s I got hooked on AMA Motorcycle Road Racing and the CART IndyCar series, but still sports car endurance racing was it for me. Through the years I was very lucky to ride fast motorcycles at Laguna and then Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma. After racing bikes I lost all desire to have or drive cars. Motorcycles feed the need for speed for way less money. The Late Great IMSA champ and Indy veteran, Al Holbert used to say: Horsepower equals cubic dollars. Unless you can afford 600 or 800HP, we are not really talking about going fast.


So here are some photos of a couple cars that I followed for all the years they ran them until the IMSA sanctioning body got sold. Some of my track rat buddies and I use to have a saying: The worst day at the race track is still better than the best day at work. I used to drive my truck to the races for Friday Qualifying and sleep the camper all weekend, engaging in the important things in life, watching hot girls, fast cars, drinking cold beer and hanging in the pits watching teams thrash on their machines.


These were some good days and good times. I wish I could convey the sound of twin turboed Porche sixes screaming down through the world famous corkscrew at Laguna, or the chirp, chirp of the waste gate on the Nissans backing into the slow corners at Sears Point Raceway. These pictures don't give you the smell of race gas, castor based race oils, scrubbed in sintered brake pads or toasted clutches.


Here is a series of pics from some of the best days of my life. Great days with no bullshit, only sunshine, racing drama and knowing you witnessed a little part of history.


I think they ran a prototype of this car in '83 with no sponsorship, white paint with numbers and no stickers. It qualified but blew up early in the race. In '84 they had a sponsor with California Cooler. This car used a part of the rules to exploit a four cylindar turbo with a ton of boost. This car was bloody quick and so freaking loud. The first races it qualified on the pole and ran away from the field until it blew up. Still it was an awesome car.




The paddock at Sears Point.






Rolling out of the paddock at Sears.




Screaming down through the old turn 10 at Sears point, full throttle.




The 1984 year, Electromotive Engineering fielded this car. I believe Jeff Brabham drove. It was the first version of many Nissans for years to come that would re write the record books with number of pole positions, race wins, driver and race win streaks as well as championships.


Shot in the paddock at the spring race at Laguna.




Rolling out of the paddock at Sears to qualify on the pole.




Now this is an historic shot from the outside of the track, top of the hill at the Corkscrew at Laguna. This is the little short shoot right at the top before you hook a blind hard left into the Corkscrew. You are hard on the gas probably in top gear after charging up the hill, only to drop 800 feet back down the other side. The next year after this, they completely reconfigured the infield section where the lakes are in this photo to change the length of the track from 1.87 Miles to Grand Prix length at about 2.43 Miles.




Another hundred feet up the track, hard on the brakes, waste gate chirping and carbon brakes squealing, a split second before diving into the corkscrew.




Crossing the start finish line at Sears Point. Flat out!




Up the hill through the old turn 1 at Sears. The cars were not only quick and fast but they built them to live for three hours of racing and spank the Porche 962s.




I panned this one right at the stripe to take the checker flag and race win.




These shots are the short uphill section after the Carousel, hard on the gas in fourth with the turbo lit.






OK Motorsports fans, I don't know how to embed YouTube so you are going the have to click on this link...



Edited by Figbuck
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I wrote a book but it's not a happy story. Nobody wants to read it. It's a true story titled "Expensive Lessons". You could read it for free... You would only pay if you don't learn the lessons.


Just a few more days until the winter solstice. There are a couple weeks there in October where you really notice the days getting shorter and then the weather here really changes. Living in California, I never paid too much attention to the length of the days. I mean, I don't ever remember it having the effect that the it does on me now. I get pretty sad and introspective. Not depressed, but I don't really feel like jumping up and down, clapping my hands either. I guess it's just depressing.


Time runs down into this time of year and I start thinking, another one shot down the tubes. What the heck happened to this year? It's a glass half empty or half full kinda deal. I had a few times when things went great and there was joy and happiness, but precious few. I know better than to say it could have been worse, or dumber... It can't get much worse! Yeah it could.


I can't wait for the days to get longer. It still isn't going to get warmer or drier anytime soon, but just knowing that the potential or opportunity for long sunny warm days helps cheer me up.


It's hard for me to be optimistic, but even though a bunch of booby traps blew up in my face this year, really it could have been worse. In a few weeks or a month, I won't have these doubts and misgivings. The days will start getting longer and we will have another shot at it. I have to remember to be grateful for what I have. I have to remember to remember my personal mythology. Who am I, what am I about here, what the fuck... over?




Ahh, V-4 Liquid cooled, four valve heads, chain driven cam train, six speeds and brakes that made your eyeballs flat. I'm felling better already thinking about all of the fun I have had riding motorcycles.


Near ecstasy, on the gas in the middle of the Corkscrew at Laguna.




In the summer of '90, the motor of the FVR was just getting broken in and I was on a long Sunday ride out in the middle of nowhere in Central California. It was a spectacular day and there is no better feeling than to be on a modern superbike with a full tank of gas and fresh tires. It's possibly better than sex or playing music.


I decided that I hadn't really explored the horsepower in sixth gear since it was a new bike. I crested this hill onto a five mile long straight through a long valley. With nothing around, I started to roll it on in fourth gear. I let fourth go at about a hundred and ten, then fifth at about a hundred and thirty-five. It was pulling strong at nine and a half or ten grand in sixth. I was trying relax, keep my head and body down behind the windshield and fairing. I wasn't able to look at the tach or speedo because at that rate of speed you must focus as far ahead as you can see. Just as I felt the vibration of the intake and the exhaust valves get to a point where they were howling in unison, I knew there must only be a few hundred RPM left to redline. I saw something come at me from the right side.


It happened in an instant. A small bird flew at me from the side and hit the corner of the visor on my helmet. It felt like I got hit in the head with a baseball bat. At something like a hundred and forty five miles per hour, you don't do anything very quickly, especially chop the throttle or hit the brakes. I tensed up for a second but realized that it was over before I could even process what had happened. I rolled off the throttle slowly and started to sit up at like ninety miles per hour.


I slowed down and turned around. I was way out in the middle of this huge desert like, arid valley with not too much around but barbed wire fences on each side of the road. I spotted the bird, lifeless in the middle of the asphalt. I got off and picked it up in my gloves. My blood was still racing. My heart pounding in my ears and the mechanical tick of the cooling engine were the only noises around. I felt so devastated. It was such a beautiful little creature. I couldn't understand why I had just taken it's life. I was out there fucking around and I had killed this innocent animal.


I kept trying to think and sort out what had happened. I felt so guilty. There had to be some cosmic message or lesson here. I wanted to bury the bird, but I didn't have any tools and there wasn't a twig or stick around. The ground was hard and dry as a bone. I decided to cover him with rocks. As I made a little pile of stones as a monument, I spotted a piece of brilliant white quartz like rock. It didn't look like anything else anywhere around. I don't think that it came from that valley. It had to have come from somewhere high in the mountains I believe. For a second, I was going to use it to top the little pyramid that I was building, but instead, I put it into my motorcycle jacket pocket.


That rock has been in my jacket every time I put my hand into the pocket for eighteen years. It is something to remind me how fragile life is. It could have been me that was gone in an instant.

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I've had a few experiences where things have happened to slow me down or to somehow force me to pull over (and/or otherwise at the time felt like something was simply "in my way"), only to find that potential doom/peril/serious injury was laying in wait only one or two corners/hills ahead. I always like to see those events as the hand of the great unknown supreme force intervening and letting me know that today was too early for me to go.


It would be neat to see a picture of the brilliant white quartz like rock because it sounds as if that neat rock has helped to keep you safe and alive, in one piece, for 18+ years. If you think that posting a picture of it might jinx things, I understand - I don't like to mess with the balance of some things.


Oh yeah, your stories are really interesting to read. Thanks for writing them and posting them.

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AWESOME stories, Sir.

Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your past with us.

I can almost imagine you chillin' with Hunter S. Thompson.

I remember a small bit of that flavor you described during the 70's.

I was a child, but I still clearly recall it.

I guess all those weird metallic greens and browns were pretty appropriate for the times.

I moved away from Cali (SF East Bay) when I was 17.

Lived all over the country, and just recently moved back, from Ohio.

I miss it back there. So much more chill, much more greener, old forests...


And now, Cali is just lame, expensive, over-rated.

And I was told by an illegal at my last job I "Need" to learn Spanish.




Cherry old cars though.


Can't wait to get the hell outta here.

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I have a friend named Ted, that I have known since 7th grade. We spent many summer days riding skateboards and learning tricks. We were pretty tight.


We grew up and went off to do what we did. 35 years later, I get a phone call from him. In the passing years, Ted had been a very sucessful painting contractor, bought property in a remote part of the Northern California Coast and built a very special house that took him many years to construct.


The reason for his call, was that his house had suffered some leaks in the harsh coastal environment and he needed a carpentry contractor with advanced remodeling skills and the capability of setting up a small woodworking shop onsite to restore his house.


Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with emphysema and he ran up some huge medical bills. He needed to fix the water damage and put the property on the market. No way he could do any kind of work. He is rarely able to even go outside.


Ted calls his house the exquisite prison. He gets up with the sunrise and goes into the kitchen to make coffee. He watches the the pair of Ravens that live on the property, as well as the flock of crows, quail, 65 chip monks, two different spiecies of rabbit families, herd of deer, bobcats, skunks and an occasional black bear that travels through the back patio.


Emyphasema is an insidious disease. Ted is on oxygen but only to allow his heart to work less. He has less that one percent or normal lung capacity. Getting oxygen is not the problem, but his lungs getting rid of CO2 is the problem. If he exerts himself too much, the result is much like drowning. Ted is a fantastic artist, designer, painter & cartoonists. Mostly his day is spent on maintenance. Eating, taking medications, washing dishes, but just relaxing and taking it easy, listening to music and reading.


Mostly he sits in the dining room, with its huge picture windows on three walls, watching the sun travel across the sky and his animal neighbors. He likes to draw, but can't get too into it, or his heart rate will rise and cause his lungs to spasm. Just listening and grooving on music can cause him breathing problems. He told me that even thinking too hard or worrying about things will cause him real problems.


Ted sent me this e-mail earlier in the year.


Lime Forrest Celedon Hunter Asparagus Heather Pea Pine Olive Chartruese

Deep Light Warm Dark Bright Cool.


Blue Grey and Yellow.




the show was just begining on the tips of the tallest firs and in the

shadows of oaks, redwoods and madrones. the beauty of this cloudless

sunrise would be on the ground in the colors of needles, leaves and on the

blades of fresh new grasses.


i had forgotton about spring. but spring had

not forgotton about me. it reached deep inside to rescue me from my wintery gloom.


later i would stay outside and stare as the textures of bark changed with

the slow shifting of shadows. witness a few brave flowers bloom early on

this warm spring-like day in early february. i'd watch light pierce dense

green canopies and walls of forrest to spotlight grey decaying logs,

blankets of dead needles, and hollowed stumps.


i listened to the sounds of surf coming up the canyon and pictured the greens change to tan then white then Sky Powder Navy Berry Slate Royal Ice Gingham Midnight Deep Light Dark Pale Bright Cool.


Green Grey and Purple.




once i watched as scattered diamonds on windswept water turned to embers of burning driftwood. between the stars and the deep water below tangerine and gold dragons battled to stay afloat.



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I packed up my tools and spent the summer of 2006 in Southern Mendocino County, high in the Redwoods over looking the Pacific Ocean. Ted's wife Debby, told me that she had to go feed her neighbor's cats each night and would walk down the road to the ridge overlooking the ocean. This went on for weeks, until I ask if the neighbors were ever coming back. Debby looked at Ted and they smiled at each other. Ted said, "Why don't you show him the place?". She said, Ok let's walk over there.


Slowly, Debby told me about all the years that they lived on the ridge property. They could have bought this other property out on the cliffs, but they thought that the 37 acres they ended up with had a more sheltered home site, trading a direct ocean view for protection from storms. They shared a common road through the ridge property and so, when... let's call them the Jones, bought the cliff property, they had many common dealings.


Ted described Jones as a survivalist wing nut. The Joneses wanted to move out into the sticks and be self sufficient, so when the end of civilization came, they would be able to live in paradise.


Wow, this was a pretty mind blowing location I thought, as we got to the end of the narrow gravel road and spotted the ocean through the forest. The house was not visible until you got right to the edge of the cliffs. I could see a narrow wooden stairway between two boulders about 40 ft. in diameter. The stairs were set into pockets chipped out of these huge boulders. At the top, the stairs connected to a weather beaten deck that wrapped around to a similar looking, three bedroom house perched like an eagle's nest on the side of this thousand foot mountain.


The inside of the house was beautifully decorated, modern, and had picture windows all across the western elevation with sweeping vistas of the Pacific. Sure enough, here were the cats. They didn't go outside. Debby said Mrs. Jones spends most of the year in San Diego. Debby fed the cats and said, let's go look at the house site.


I was confused. We walked out, back down the stairs, down a path to a big flat area. It too had a sweeping views of the coast. There was a big building that reminded me of a county or state road maintenance facility. It had three big commercial style roll up doors with glass transoms as wide as the doors. It had a standing seam, metal, shed roof that went from two stories on the ocean side to three stories on the eastern side. There was a big 6' thick concrete driveway with a Case 580 back hoe/loader, a little Ford dump truck and a Ditch Witch, all in new condition, parked in front of each door.


I'm taking all this in as Debby unlocks a man door on the side and lets us in. I find that we are in someone's dream garage. There are big Snap-On rollaway chests on each side of two big work benches all strewn with tools. There are lockers chock full of every kind of mechanics tool you can think of. There are book shelves with repair manuals and a desk. On the floor, is a built-in hydraulic auto lift, with all the goodies you would expect in a auto shop. There were welders, plasma cutters, transmission jacks and rolling oil drain pans.


I'm stunned. This was the last thing I would expect to find way out here in the boondocks. Debbie walked away to check on something while I took it all in. On the ocean side of the building was a big furnished office with picture window so you could see into the shop area. In back of the auto repair area was a staircase going up to a mezzanine over looking the shop and a furnished apartment with a full kitchen.


The thing that struck me as odd, was the tractors and truck being parked outside. In the bays, were row upon row thousands of used books in eight foot tall book cases, cobbled together out of #2 1x12 pine boards. I start looking at this "library" and realize that they are all how-to kind of books. How to make Stained Glass, how to can vegetables, how to make whatever.


Debbie comes back and motions to me to follow her. I'm not really putting two and two together, and ask what all this stuff is. I ask what does Mr. Jones do?


Do? She replies. He doesn

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When I was reading this, I was reminded that the greatest possession you will ever have is not what you collect or amass, what you buy or earn or are given. It is priceless beyond the imaginings of those that daily take it for granted. If you have good health and know it's true value, all the problems in life are truly put into perspective.


Merry Christmas

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