Less than twenty-four hours prior to leaving for my sabbatical to Yachats (as per last week’s post (The Life I’m Not Rebooting)  I received news of the passing of Davis W. Baldwin, M.D., my beloved former employer, mentor, and friend. Next week MH will travel to the Bay Area to attend his memorial service. While I was in Yachats MH forwarded me the link to DWB’s obituary.
Join hands with the nearest sentient being and cue the Circle of Life. News of Dr. B’s passing should not have caught me off guard – he was 89, after all. Still, there are some people I think will live forever. And he’ll continue to live on, in the way that my father lives on for me, and in only way we all will: through the stories told and memories held by colleagues, friends and family.
I’m not ready to write much about him. One story would be too many and 100 would be not nearly enough. How can you not love a man who, when he tells you why he doesn’t like rhubarb pie, relates the story as if the WTF?!?!?! reasons for his rhubarb antipathy were the most logical consequence in the world? (When DWB was a child he and his brother played outside during the summer, for as long as they could, running through the fields, and when the young DWB heard nature’s call he would ignore it for as long as possibly, and then finally he would pee in the neighbor’s rhubarb fields rather than take a time out to return home to use the facilities at home.  Thus, he associates rhubarb with an uncomfortably full bladder).
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Department of Oh…So…The Trip Thing
My self-described/imposed sabbatical. My trip began a day earlier than planned due to inclement weather complicating my route to the coast, and was cut short due to the more inclement weather…plus yet another extended family concern. 
While I was in Yachats I received a request for feedback from friend KW re a song he’s working on, “The Blue State Blues.” KW asked how my trip was going. I sent him yet another deflecting-sorrow-through-crass humor explanation, along with my suggestions for possible lyrics for his next musical composition:
I like the guitar! A very heavy-angry, I-am-so-fucking-depressed/pissed vibe is essential to the song…. Cutting my trip short due to Life Happens, in the form of having to plan one memorial service trip to the Bay Area, for my former boss, mentor and friend Dr. Baldwin, and possibly coordinating hospice care for my mother, who has taken a drastic turn for the worse. How inconsiderate of others to mess up my plans, eh?
I guess I should stop complain about turning 60 on Friday, but I wanted to wake up on my birthday at the coast, not in Hillsboro. At least I’m not waking up in Alleppo….
♫ I organized a getaway
From daily cares I ran
There’s people sick and dyin’
Hell, that’s fuckin’ up my plan!
I got dem how-in-the-hell-am-I-sixty,
Cranky ‘bout my big-ass-birthday blues ♫
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Once again, I digress.
Sorry to disappoint longtime friend JWW and others who requested, re last week’s blog post, something ala “I hope you find and discover everything I’ve always wondered about in my own life. Then let me know about what you found out.”
I didn’t find Big Answers to the Meaning of Life ® for several reasons, including
(1) I don’t think there are any one-size-fits-all answers, Big or Small, to such questions;
(2) I don’t think such questions (e.g., “What is the meaning of life?”) are valid, relevant or translatable; 
(3) There is no reason #3
(4) I didn’t find answers to “the big ones” because that’s not what I was looking for.
Here is one answer I did find: how to pronounce the name of one of the many trails I hiked, The Ya’Xaik Trail. I had no problem with “the” and “trail.” As for Ya’Xaik, when I say it properly (Yah’ khik)) I sound like…well, imagine a Chihuahua retching up the world’s biggest cat hairball.
The trip served its purpose: to either affirm or rebut what I’ve been feeling, for quite some time, about my work. My dissatisfaction reached critical mass this year, thanks in good part to the persistent, evidence-based (i.e. it’s ‘s not just my personal experiences and/or feelings) – research and communiqués, from the Authors Guild and other professional writers advocacy organizations, on the state of /changes in the business of writing fiction.
What I was able to affirm is that I am done. I, simply but emphatically, don’t want to be part of that world, anymore.
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Department Of There Must Be An App For That
A world I do want to be a part of, career/life work wise? There’s the rub. Preferably, I’ll find one where oxygen breathers can survive.  More ruminations to come, dealing with another evidence-based reality: while such dilemmas aren’t easy at any age, the simple truth is that one’s possibilities get narrower with age.
Whatever/wherever that world is, I hope it’s filled with opportunities to traverse trails with unpronounceable names and be impressed with and humbled by big ass rhododendron leaves.
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Department Of Assume The Guru Pose
Observations after hiking each day, every day, for a week: some of the most interesting trails, for me, are loop trails. Does this mean, you may say to yourself, she thinks her life is going in circles, or is she attempting some kind of it’s the journey vs. the destination – it’s the journey as well as the destination metaphor? 
Not exactly re the former; maybe/kinda re the latter
I’ve come to the simple realization – be prepared to be whacked with the Stick of Profundity ® – that when I’m not primarily focused on a destination (gotta make it to the spectacular viewpoint/the highest ridge) I pay more attention to the details along the way.
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Department Of Making New Friends
Last Saturday early eve I went to a wine tasting at Yachat’s only wine place.  As I opened the door to the small shop I saw eight people, each cradling a wine goblet in their hands, seated around a rectangular table in the middle of the shop. These folks were regulars at the shop’s tasting events, not visitors such as moiself …or so I judged from their palpable familiarity with one another.
A jingle bell on the shop’s door handle announced my arrival. Sixteen pairs of eyes turned toward me; affable, anticipation-of-greeting-a-friend expressions quickly morphed to who-is-this-newcomer?
After one or two beats of silence, a man seated at the head of the table lifted his glass as if to toast me, and said, “Welcome to Yachats’ Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.”
I waited another beat, then replied, “Worst. Wine. Shop. Ever.”
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Department of Today Is My Birthday
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The Old (er) People I’m Making Happy
Someone is here!
I heard the gasp before seeing the source of the enthusiasm: a mid-seventies  woman who scuttled out from a supply closet at the Waldport Visitor’s Center. She didn’t seem to mind that my rain hat, coat and boots and I were dripping/tracking water all over the foyer. I was, at 3:30 pm, the only visitor the center had had that day.
I had similar encounters at other coastal town Visitors Centers, and also with at least five  volunteers at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. Would you like me to show you around? Remember, if you’ve any questions…. The urgency in their voices made me realize I needed to ask them some questions. Legitimate or otherwise. (Please, validate my existence. Besides, you’re the only one who showed up in the pouring rain.)
The Visitor Center at Yachats was manned by an overly enthusiastic and chatty Older Man Wearing An Unfortunate Bill Cosby Sweater ®. I checked the guest register which, OMWAUBCS assured me, every person who walks into the Visitors Center must sign. If that indeed was the case, I’d been the only visitor to the center in three days. And, gosh golly gee thanks, OMWAUBCS, but truth be told, I’m not really interested in the Come Meet Santa! gathering at the community hall (“Great fun for families and all – young and old everyone is invited.”), and I’d rather trim my nostril hairs with a weed whacker than sit through a two hour Community Christmas choir and hand bell concert at the Presbyterian church….
It didn’t hurt me to listen to the various guides and volunteers. And so I did, with mild/faux enthusiasm, each and every time.
My work here is done.
* * *
“There ain’t no answer.
There ain’t gonna be any answer.
There never has been an answer.
There’s your answer.”
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Department Of The Petty Pleasures I Live For
One day on my trip, between courses at a seafood restaurant, I was checking my email on my phone. The subject line in one email was about a fundraiser for the Children’s Cancer Association, but the organization, due to space constraints, was abbereviated, Children’s Cancer Ass.
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Department Of Secrets Of The Great Outdoors Revealed
Note to all ye who walk your fearful/unfriendly yippy dogs on hiking trails:
When I approach to pass you on the trail you try, unsuccessfully, to stop the machine-gun barking and leash-tugging and other aggressive behaviors your dog displays at non-threats such as moiself. I smile and greet you, then speak in kind, soft, non-threatening tones to your frantically vocalizing dog, even as I am thinking, Why can’t you do us all a favor and leave that miserable, yowling mop rag of a mongrel in the RV?
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May you enjoy each and every petty pleasure;
May your patient if faux interest make a volunteer guide’s day;
May you remember to leave your yipster in the RV;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 about my thinking-things-out, week-plus “sabbatical trip” to Yachats.
 Or defile your own family’s field.
 The declining health of my mother, who is being evaluated for hospice care.
 After the recent election debacle, I have my doubts as to my fitness for my home planet.
 Stop talking to yourself, or people will think you’re daft.
 Mid-Seventies as in my guestimage of here age, not that she was dressed indisco-area attire.
 “Senior,” once again.