From Havel to California

Published 7:43 am Wednesday, July 7, 2010

“There may never again be people like him, Jan Patocka, because since his day people have become so senselessly specialized that they cannot see the whole picture. Their inability to see the whole picture and to become whole themselves is the beginning of tragedy for humanity.”

— Eda Kriseova

Jan Patocka, a Bohemian from the old country, preceded Vaclav Havel. A book on Havel traveled with me to California for a short vacation, a break from Mello’s control over me when we go out. I’m being told this is not the correct way to train a dog.

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I still haven’t come to grips with the chain collar that is used these days. Jeanne employs this model and Mello responds for her. In Mello’s eyes she is in charge. She has a trainer I’ve listened to who makes every bit of sense but there’s just something about that “chain” that doesn’t fit.

My week away allowed me not to think about work or walking Mello or doing a column for the Herald last week. It was a vacation of sorts. Casey, our oldest son, helped me get into the airport. Instead of going to Northwest Airline I was faced with Delta, the one that I believe bought Northwest out, much to my dismay.

A few years ago, a bunch of us aging Bohemians or part-Bohemians flew to Prague to find our roots. Then we flew on Delta for the first time. While waiting for our flight in a southern city of size to depart, we watched a Delta stewardess slip and fall in the airport and later discovered she was one of many on our packed plane, along with our group of 20 heading to Prague. We had the last rows of this huge plane.

There was a short delay leaving for San Diego, my destination, while a maintenance man repaired two seat cushions on the plane. Before boarding, Delta officials made some promise to folks who would be willing to give up their seat. They had overbooked. I think they could fly out later or leave the next morning and cut some kind of deal. The plane was full when we departed after the seats were fixed. I thought that could have been addressed earlier.

As we neared the Pacific Coast, we were reminded that it was late in the day and that the coastal clouds come ashore then. One puts his book aside and wonders how the plane gets through the cloudy sky while making a gradual right turn. And then there below us we see San Diego. Minutes later I pull my Army backpack out of the carrier and my other little bag that holsters Vaclav Havel’s story, something I intend to finish during the week.

Fortunately my ride is waiting when I get to the arrival area and I’m relieved.

The week was filled with a lot of talking about life, the old days in Riverside, going out to eat a couple nights with some close friends from the late 70’s. I also talked with Annie Lu at Lynne’s on the phone. Luanne was a Larchwood neighbor who earned a gold medal in the Olympics in one of the provinces in Canada that four of us got to witness.

Juanita, my compadra, took us to the coast one day to see the places she lived when she was with her daughter who was facing a short life. We then traveled to Balboa Island, a place I got to know when I first moved to Riverside and met up with Dave Toresdahl.

Balboa Island hasn’t changed. The food store is still on the corner—that has changed. Across the street, outside the public restroom, I found a roughed-up, wet tennis ball I slipped in my pocket and presented it to Mello on Sunday.

Four of us got together with “the cowboy” who lived on Larchwood in the good old days when he was what he called “a man of garbage.” He now lives alone most of the time with his dog about 15 feet from the fairway of a golf course.

Lynne and Bill and Susan and Chuck Wheat entertained us in Riverside during the week and I got to see Juanita’s son’s again and the Mission Inn.

I’m still reading Havel.