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Figbuck Chronicles...


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Just after the first light penetrated the canyon, my brother got up and administered a dose to each of us, then we turned over and went back to sleep. In about forty-five minutes it was like a two hundred amp circuit breaker switched on in our nervous systems. I sat right up and we were all sitting up in our sleeping bags looking at each other. It seemed so absurd, that we all started laughing uncontrollably. The trip had started.


I knew from past experience that staying hydrated and having food ready to eat through the day was necessary. I got up and fired up my little gas stove to make some tea. Little rays of morning light found their way through the canopy. As I dunked my tea bag in the hot water, I noticed oils from the tea on the surface of the liquid, creating swirling colored rainbows. I could see geometric patterns in the steam coming out of the cup and visual aberrations in the light from the exchange of heat. I watched that phenomenon until the tea was cool enough to drink. The sensations of drinking were at once foreign and familiar.


It was like every sensation and perception was rich with fresh experience. I could write at length about psychedelic trips. It is not the focus of this story. I won

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  • 2 months later...

It was a rainy sunny Portland day Sunday, not to cold not that warm. I went out to the garage to pull some Datsun maintenance and noticed that the Daffodils were starting to bloom. It made me think about my old girlfriend Susan. Her birthday usually fell on the first day of Spring. She lives in Eugene and has a family and a pretty mellow existence. We still keep in touch. I called her and left a message on her cell phone. In a way, I

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After we had lived up there for a few years, Susan spun the 1200 on some black ice one morning and it scared her. I began to see accidents all the time too commuting up and down the Mountain.


One nice spring day we went down into the flats for breakfast with friends. On the way back up highway 92, I came up on a couple of kids two up on a motorcycle. No helmets or gloves, wearing t-shirts, jeans and tennis shoes. We turn at the junction of 35 and head up Skyline. The guy blasts away from us up the first straight into a big right handed carousel kind of corner. I say wow, that guy must know the road and mash the throttle to try and keep up. I pitch it into the corner, take a set and hang onto the wheel. On the exit I see them up at the end of the next little straight already and watch them for fly into the next big carousel corner switching back in the opposite direction.


I think, man this guy is fast and shift down to try and hang with them. I sense Susan being uncomfortable, but I knew she could rip this road well and truly, and that she trusted me. I rail into the second corner after the bike and slide out onto the shoulder on the exit. Looking up the next straight away, the bike is gone! We glance at each other. They must be hauling ass! I glance into my mirror and see a wisp of dust right at the exit of the last corner. There was an embankment that prevented me from seeing them go straight off the road! :blink:


I nail the brakes and hang a U-turn. We get out and they launched way off the side of the hill and were in a about a fifty feet out and fifty feet down the embankment. I scramble down and end up sliding in the dirt and dust on my butt to get to them. The passenger was about fourteen and was really banged up, semiconscious and bleeding all over. The sixteen year old rider was all contused and road rashed but he is up and trying to get the wadded up bike stood up. He is going, Oh my bike, my bike. :(


I say fuck that man, help me get this guy over where we can lay him out. The rider is obviously in shock, but not as busted up as the passenger. We get the kid moved and he goes back over to try point the bike up this insanely steep embankment and fire it off. I rip my tee-shirt into strips and yell to Susan to get some rags and towels out of the trunk. I

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

... I came into this world.


This morning I was looking through my personal journal for something and came across this entry.


November 5th 2008


Waking up this morning, drinking some coffee and watching the news coverage of the presidential election results. Wow, what can I say? Truth is stranger than fiction. If you wrote a screen play and tried to pitch it, nobody would buy it because it seems so improbable. What a story.


*About a month ago, I started to feel what I can best describe as a paradigm shift. *I read where somebody talked about paradigms and wondered to myself if I really knew the definition of the word. *I though it had something to do with how one thought about stuff or perception of reality. I didn't really know, so I looked it up.



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I have a group of friends that I have known since seventh grade. A few of these friends I have been in more or less constant contact with. Others I hear about through the group and some lost contacet with the group and only have been back in touch for a few years.


My friend Randy has lived in London for the last 28 years and I have seen him twice when he came back to visit his family. We were in the same music classes in Jr. college and played jazz together while he was in a

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  • 1 month later...

I just started reading the second page of this thread, but I have to say I'm really enjoying these stories from your life. So many different emotions can be had from all this You don't need to write a book about your life if you can share it with all of us on here. :)

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I come across your posts a bit randomly Fig. I see the length and think I don't have time....then I read a few lines and before you know it....I've made the time :) There's something about your writing that takes me out of my head for a few moments of peace. Thank you. :)

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figbuck im not much of a reading guy, i've never finished reading a book or a simple magazine. ''not even in hihg school'' i read all your stories, they are excellent. thanks for sharing them with us... :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

Edited by 2dat0z9
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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

I have been driving my Datsun to to work every day. It keeps running well. It does not have much power, but once it gets rolling, it handles like a slot car. There are only two corners in my current daily commute that are fun. Other than that it is pretty boring.


I keep odd hours so I can avoid traffic. It takes me 45 minutes to get to my shop if I start at seven or eight and 14 minutes if I start at at like 10 AM. I leave the shop at 11 PM. If hit the lights right, it takes me 12 minutes to get home at night. I drive way to fast, but there is no traffic at all. Way too tempting to blast.


My little game every day is to see how fast I can take this one turn and not use any brakes on the entry. I have a pretty good landmark that I use for my turn in. I want to get to the the far outside of the entry line, then as late as possible, crank the wheel and start to roll the throttle on as I clip the apex of the corner. One of the tricks is to keep looking as far ahead as I can and look to see how far I can run out on the exit.


Last week I hit some black ice right at the entry and the thing broke loose. It was one of those deals where I was looking at the guard rail coming at me fast and I hit the brakes in panic. I was sideways and just as I thought I was going to total it at about 50 mph, it unexpectedly hooked up and corrected direction in a big tortured chip of tires. Bang, I was sliding in the direction of the exit... I just nailed the gas and came flying out of the corner in a brilliant display of car control.


Ha, ha! Dumb luck. I saw two tow trucks trying to winch a 5 litre Mustang that flipped over the guard rail at the the same place last winter. I was thinking about some of different places I have lived and some of the routes that I have commuted over and lived to tell about. I lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains two different times. In the '70s and then in the late '90s. I used love hustling the Datsun through corners on back roads up there.


I worked at this place where I drove down the county highway for about five miles, then six miles down a twisty one lane road that was patched pavement for part of it and gravel/dirt the rest of it. There was never any traffic and so I use to drift the 620 through the corners as hard as I could. More fun than is allowed by law.


This is a story from that time. It seems like yesterday but I know it's not. It was a chain of events that led to my interest carpentry, then building cabinets and furniture. All these years later... I'm still driving my Datsun and woodworking full time.


I have met so many interesting, talented, creative people in my life. A couple months ago I was looking for something else and came across a web site for a vineyard in Sonoma. The owner Brian, was a contractor who had an office in San Carlos, on the block where I had a shop during the middle

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The Gallaways bought 43 acres adjacent to their first parcel. A young man James F., bought ninety three acres next to them and the bulk of the old mill property was bought by legendary musical artist Neil Young. Neil has acquired nearly five thousand acres.


All these properties are pretty special places. James lived in a tent or lean-to while he built a gigantic shop with a crane so he could drive his bulldozer, back hoe or loader into the shop and pull the engines. Later, he built a second story over it as a huge open apartment. He built a stained glass workshop and made gigantic clear storiy windows that looked down the coast for many miles. James sold his machine tool business in Silicon Valley and moved all the industrial tooling up to his shop. It was a mechanic

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I used to see Bill and Tommy on the road all the time coming or going from the Mill. Tommy would encourage me to learn more about woodworking and cabinets, Bill would just give me crap for wanting to be a musician. He would ask if I was making any money and ready to quit my day job yet.


Marthine’s brother was a commercial contractor and so everybody that ever worked there, including Bill, got checks paid from his account, so the Gallaways as owner/employers were covered by worker’s compensation. Bill didn’t have a contractor’s license or any insurance. One day while we were eating lunch, Howard told me that we were getting to the point where I would be done in a few weeks and I should go talk to Bill about work. I said that I would never ever work for Bill again. After the crap I went through trying to fix his screw ups and then having to chase him down for pay. As faraas I knew, I was done with him a year ago, when he let me go. My band was working every night and didn’t think I would have a hard time finding a carpentry job.


Howard got really quiet and looked at the ground eating his sandwich. Kirk looked at me with a sheepish grin on his face and shook his head. Later Kirk told me that way back, Howard had ask Bill if I could come work with them to help with the finish work. Bill said, that he should get something because he needed me for his own projects. They worked out a deal where Bill got a check every week for “tool rental” from Howard. I went crazy. I said, what do you mean tool rental, bill had let me go. I had bought a ton of new tools as I worked there and the thought of Bill getting anything for me was just an insult. I wanted to talk to Howard right there but Kirk said to just let it go. He could tell Howard just realized that Bill had gotten over on him.


I don’t know what ever happened with that. I went on to work for a series of local contractors framing big custom houses for a few years, then I got my California Contractor’s License and ran a small business for twenty one years. I never got to go back up to the Ranch. Brian Gallaway built an addition on his Mom’s art studio in the ‘90s. Howard and Marthine lived in their dream house for another twenty five years.


Howard had a ‘54 Williys that he bought new. After driving it up and down the mountain and hauling materials during all the years they were building, it was retired to the Ranch. Howard had rebuilt the engine and transfer cases. He had a spare battery system and upgraded the electrical from six to twelve volts. It didn't look like much, but mechanically it was a work horse. Howard got up every morning early, threw his chainsaw in the bed and went off around the property cleaning up dead trees, branches and hauling it back to his monster wood pile. Brian now has the Williys up on his vineyard in Sonoma.


The property had ben logged in the past and tan oaks, madrone and other what Howard called “weed trees” sprang up. These non natives grew in the spots where the big redwoods had been logged and let light in. His mission was to pull these weeds, so that the redwood forest could regenerate itself and maybe one day be the magical place it once was. Still, it was a pretty magnificent place they lived.


About 2002, I was here in Portland in the process of moving my woodworking machines from my shop in Redwood City. I got a call from a contractor friend that worked with me on Bill’s framing crew. He had known the Gallaways, and worked for Brain for a number of years, including the Studio addition. He told me that Marthine had passed away. She had driven down the Mountain to a church in Redwood City where she attended a reuniun of her University of California Berkley class from the 1920s. When she didn’t return home by ten PM, Howard became woried and called Brain down in San Carlos.


They drove up and down the mountain looking for her and called the Sheriff. They looked all the next day when somebody thought to drive a couple hundred yards down the road to a big turn around where it dead ended. There was her car high centered on a berm. She had driven all the way back, but must have missed the mail box and the gate to the property. She tried to turn around. It was very dark at night and I remember she was blind in one eye. She probably realized that she was only a few hundred yards from the house and started to walk. She went off the road and fell down an embankment but manage to crawl back almost to the road where they found her. I was devistated by the news and worse, I couldn’t get back for her memorial service.


There are things in your life that you tell yourself you should do. One of those things was to go up to the ranch and visit with them. I always put it off. I was in the area all the time for years and never got around to visiting. It is a lesson for me to try and keep in touch with people.


About a month later I drove back to Redwood City to finish moving. I had just driven twelve hours and stopped in San Carlos to get something to eat at a Carl’s Jr. As I was standing in line, I noticed this old man, all bent over, waiting for his order. I had the thought that there was me in another thirty years. The cashier called his number and ask if he wanted catsup or something. He said, no and thanked her. I instantly recognized the voice but it took me a second to see the sixty five year old that I knew, in the now ninty year old man.


I called his name and the same thing happened to him. He knew my voice but the twenty five year old was now fifty. I gave him a big hug and told him how bad I felt about Marthine. He said he was doing OK, but he “Wasn’t quite out of the woods yet”. I just don’t know how it would feel to suffer that kind of loss. We talked a bit and I let him go.


I had lost contact with Brian twenty years ago. When I stumbled on his web site, I sent him some of these pictures. He wrote me right back and said as soon as he got my e-mail, he called his Dad who was living in an assisted care home in San Carlos. They rented the Ranch after Marthine passed and still owned the property. He said Howard was still sharp as a tack but that his eyesight had failed some. He had one of those little electric scooters and drove downtown to his favorite little cafe for lunch twice a week and bought a lottery ticket. He wanted to win so he could finance an idea he had for power generation that could be used in third world countries.


So, Howard is going to be a hundred years old this next May. I sent him a letter and his daughter wrote me back saying how much he enjoyed reading it. It is staggering to think all he has seen happen in these years.


So, check out my slideshow. I had photos of the house when it was finished that were in a portfolio I lent to a client who lost it. These are the only photos I have left. Click on the full screen mode or the pics are too dark...


<a href=th_ForestMeadowRanch1.jpg' alt='th_Fores

Edited by Figbuck
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good stuff.


Reminds me of when I was 25 and spent 3 months in Nakusp BC in the late fall. My old friend Brent has an unfinished A frame shack up on Box Mountain we had to finish before winter set in. There was no electricity and water ran from a 300 ft hose from further up hill in the creek. It was at least a kilometer walk from the closest we could get the 4X4 on a good day. I slept on a board floor against the air tight stove. A couple of times a week a neighbor would hike over through the woods after dark with only a lantern and play cards with us. At the time I was barely aware that these were going to be some of the best memories of my life.

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