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Tuesday, June 12, 2001

My friend Barry from Houston finally surfaced this afternoon. I hadn't heard from him since late last week, and with the reports of serious flooding over the weekend, I got a little concerned.

But he's fine, and his house is fine except for some water in the basement. He stayed up almost all of one night draining his pool to keep it from overflowing. He finally checked in with me because he could use the phone line again.

He's surrounded by devastation, but he lives under a lucky star. Even though bad things keep happening to him, and all around him, he always gets through them. He lived in the Bay Area during the 1989 earthquake, and he survived that with minimal trauma, too. (But he now prefers floods to earthquakes, so I guess he's truly a Californian no longer.)

He's also come through personal and professional crises time after time, and yet he remains one of the sunniest, most upbeat people I know.

Mom went to her first water aerobics class this morning. It's a four-week session that meets three times a week, and she can repeat it, four weeks at a time, as often as she wants. This is how a woman of 75, who has back problems and gets out of breath walking, stays active and engaged.

She's really only 74, but she likes the sound of "75," so we let her get away with giving that as her age. She will be 75 later this year, but not until December.

Then this afternoon she sat in a driving class for four hours. It's a program that offers auto insurance discounts to people of a certain age, as long as they take this class periodically. She also has plans for every day the rest of this week, at least through Sunday.

Me, I'm just working my way through the latest version of my to-do list, pulling up a few weeds and keeping my yard watered.

Giving David cash for his birthday last night was embarrassing. It wasn't just that after twenty years I ran out of ideas. It was seeing it dumped out on the table in front of the whole family. I know it probably seemed I was giving him too much, to compensate for my lack of imagination.

I could have given him a check, but the idea of $20 bills for a 20-year-old was my one modest bit of inspiration. He also got a couple of gift certificates, the amounts of which were nobody's business and kept that way. I'm going to have to try a little harder next year. Maybe I should start planning now.

On the other hand, his next birthday will be his twenty-first, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

lavender hollyhocks peeking out from behind the red ones

As I watered the side yard late this afternoon, a mockingbird sat importantly on the peak of the roof and ran through its entire repertoire. It performed the songs of every bird native to Northern California, plus a few it could have heard only over the wireless. It was a veritable avian karaoke.

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