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After an ambitious flurry of daily blog posts for over a week recently, I slacked off. BAD me!

I had hoped to wow and amaze all my readers with this new resolve to post daily, but it just ain’t gonna happen. Besides, none of you even really noticed.  😉

Anyway…it’s time for Hair Sunday again, which is getting me off my butt motivates me to post.

It’s been only a week since the Inaugural Hair Sunday and our hair has definitely GROWN in that time. Although it must look short to you, I am starting to get at that uncomfortably wooly stage in which I usually ask James to cut my hair.

Every day is a Bad Hair Day now. No more worry-free, no-fuss-no-mess routine.

After shampooing, I need to apply “krew comb styling prep” to train those recalcitrant sides under my ears. The first time I used this a few days ago, I applied far too much and not only was my head a sticky mess, it stank to high heaven.

My horn colleague in “South Pacific” made the mistake of noticing my new ‘do and exclaimed, “Oh, you got a haircut!” and proceeded to pat me on the head — she thought that the swoop of bristly brushy hair on top would be exciting to touch.

It was indeed more exciting than she bargained for — her hands now smelled like “krew comb” (which, by the way, you can find at any Sally Beauty Supply store) and she had to wash them. Ewww.

In other news….

Today is the last show of South Pacific. It’s been a great run of 52 performances, which started on September 18th here in San Francisco.

I’m looking forward to the Next Thing (7 consecutive weeks’ subbing with Phantom on the road: Tempe, Durham & Ft. Lauderdale) but I am also sad that South Pacific is ending. The 25-piece orchestra, so very rare in this age of greatly reduced live musicians and increased synthesizers, has been terrific to play in. I can say with confidence that this orchestra sounds every bit as good as the folks on Broadway. And everyone has been great to work with.

James and I “pull up stakes” and tow the Airstream down to Arizona on Tuesday, for the Next Thing aforementioned.

Tomorrow, we will host a day of playing recorders with our favorite folks in the Bay Area; six people from around the Bay area are scheduled to show up here at the Activity Room at the RV park to play through James’ and my original compositions. We always have a blast.

Okay, so here are today’s Hair Sunday Week #2 pictures:

There is a large homeless population in the city of San Francisco; the climate is temperate here and people can live on the streets without freezing to death.

I have always had mixed feelings about the homeless. My heart goes out to them; it is my belief that no-one in this country should be without a roof over their head or a meal in their belly.

Yet, I am unwilling to give them money when they beg for it, especially when they are aggressive.

They tend to be forward in San Francisco, on Market Street in particular. This street is amazingly diverse, containing everything from upscale shopping malls (Westfield, between 4th & 5th Sts.) to titty bars and Smoke shops selling drug paraphernalia only a few blocks away.

The sidewalks are full of homeless, usually propped up against the buildings, often with blankets over their heads like tents. When they hear someone approaching, their heads pop out like turtles from their shells.

“Spare CHANGE?!” they whisper or bark or in loud, accusatory tones.

The more aggressive people block your way on the sidewalk to ask for money. Mostly they step aside readily when they are ignored or refused. But some follow you down the street for a few steps.

After being refused, they often end their spiel with “God Bless You!” or “Have a nice day!”, but somehow the angry tone of their voices belie the kind sentiments.

Being confronted with the homeless issue constantly on the streets of San Francisco is difficult for me; it brings up all sorts of feelings — guilt, compassion, anger, annoyance. I am ashamed to say that I do not want to deal with this issue.

I had a particularly intense encounter with a homeless man on Saturday night, at the Civic Center BART station.

It was after work and I was writing in my journal, as usual. I like to recount the day’s happenings; how the show went that night and any notable interactions with musician colleagues I had.

I sat in my customary spot on the round concrete bench towards the far end of the station, situated in the area between the inbound and outbound tracks.

In the back of my consciousness I heard a commotion to my immediate left. At first I paid no attention to it, having become somewhat inured to the crazy eruptions from the more “out there” citizenry of this City.

But then the babbling became louder, and I looked up from my journal page to see a man sitting on the ground, leaning against a pillar next to the concrete bench. He appeared to be somewhere between his late 40s and death.

His ranting and raving suddenly escalated in both intensity and vitriol. The people crammed around the concrete bench left abruptly, leaving me more space.

I turned back to my writing and shut out the man’s self-dialogue. Then suddenly there was a movement out of the corner of my eye; the man had gotten off the ground and was approaching me.

“Excuse me, sir……sir……SIR!” He stood over me, swaying. I looked up into his faded, unfocused blue eyes, the whites streaked with red — lost-soul eyes, a burned-out, hopeless life flickering from their depths. A crazy, tortured look.

“I hate to disturb your writing, but I need eight dollars and forty cents!” the man screamed at me.

“I don’t carry cash, sorry”, I replied.

“Yeah right….” he said sarcastically, and stumbled away, mumbling, “fuckfuckfuckfuck you….” and then he approached an elderly couple standing next to the bench.

They were very well-dressed, he in suit and she in furs, obviously just having seen “Wicked” at the nearby Orpheum Theatre, programs clutched in their gnarled hands which trembled slightly upon the man’s approach.

The man mumbled something and the lady practically screamed, “What do you WANT?!” The crazy man said, “I’d like thirty dollars but you’re not going to give that to me, are ya?” He stumbled towards the woman, who shrank back against her husband, who brandished his cane at the man.

He suddenly veered off in another direction as though he had been struck by The Force, a scene out of Star Wars. He vanished.

I turned my attention back to my journal. The elderly couple continued to stand in front of me, whispering now. “What is he writing?” the woman murmured. “Probably about what just happened”, her husband ventured.

James and I have sported very short hairstyles for years. James, in fact, says that he’s had short hair since April 15, 1980. I think it’s funny that he knows the exact date, but I’m kind of a date-freak about some things myself and understand where he’s coming from.

I have had short hair since October 1997. Sorry I don’t recall the exact date. I decided to have my hair cut a few weeks after going on the road with Phantom. I was ready for a new look (which, in fact, landed me James a few months later, he claims).

One of the people in Phantom’s Hair Department cut my hair. He wasn’t cheap! But he was tawdry. But I digress. 😉

At that same time, I decided to stop coloring my hair. Oh wow, it’s Truth Time!

I started going gray in my mid-thirties. I wasn’t ready for that, so I decided to have my hairstylist color it. I did that for eight years.

But I finally got tired of the charade, and besides, I was curious how I looked with gray in my hair.

The funny thing is, when I look back at pictures from that time, my hair wasn’t NEARLY as gray (and white) as it is now. Yet I thought I was being so darn adventurous.

Anyway, back to the Hair Sunday thing. James and I have decided to grow our hair long! A few months ago we would have recoiled in horror at the thought. But now it somehow seems attractive; it’s something fun to “do”.

We may end up hating it. But we’ll never know until we let it grow out a bit.

James suggested that we take pictures of ourselves every Sunday to chart our hair growth, and I came up with the idea of posting the pictures to my blog.

So now you have something to look forward to every week, Cameron’s Hair Sunday! You’ll probably be sick of the sight of us by the time our hair grows out.

Here’s the first set of pictures, taken a few minutes ago. Believe it or not, my hair is already longer than usual right now; this would be the time that I’d have James take clippers in hand to give me my usual buzz-cut.

But this will not happen. I’m letting it grow out.

Oh Lord, please give me the strength to avoid itching and scratching and flipping hair out of my eyes — activities which have not been part of my repertoire for well over a decade.

Okay, I can just hear you saying right now, “Which one is James and which is Cameron?” Do you know or do you need me to enlighten you?

Twenty years ago today, the earth shook violently in San Francisco. The death toll was 62, 3757 people were injured and property damage exceeded eight billion dollars.

I lived in Sacramento at the time but just happened to be in San Francisco that day! Here is my journal entry written several days later:

Friday, October 20, 1989

We were in San Francisco on the fateful earthquake day of October 17th, 1989. We were in the City for appointments with a nutritionist that a friend had recommended.

We were done by 4 P.M., and decided to have an early dinner at the nearby Middle Eastern restaurant “La Mediterranee” on Noe St. before heading back to Sacramento.

Carl [a previous partner] & I were the only customers eating at that “in-between” hour, and had nearly finished the delicious meal when the earthquake struck! Our table started to shake vigorously which made it difficult to dip the “baba ganoush” into my mouth. The glasses behind the bar rattled and the floor swayed and buckled as the earth made curious roaring, rumbling sounds. The first shock was immediately followed by a heavier second one, whereupon Carl leaped from his chair, grabbed my knapsack and scurried to the front door. He tripped over himself in panic and knocked into a table on his way out, which crashed to the floor with a shower of glass.

I was surprisingly calm and walked out of the place as the earth continued to shake. Carl went into the street but ran back to grab my arm as I emerged, cautioning me about the possibility of flying glass from the front window. Carl was extremely upset and I wasn’t at all, for some reason. Mother Nature was doing her number and I couldn’t do anything about it – if I was supposed to die, well, then it was time to go…..I found myself fascinated by the whole thing.

Later, however, the gravity of the disaster sank in, and I apologized to Carl for criticizing his strong reactions to the quake.

We stood in front of the restaurant as the shaking stopped, and the entire city was shocked into silence for a moment. Then it erupted into screams and sirens and general pandemonium, which continued into the night.

Carl wanted to leave without paying for our dinner, which surprised me; he’s usually so honest. I still had another appetizer and half a beer to finish, so I went back into the restaurant to eat and pay the bill. The waitresses and cooks also went back inside, where they commented how this was the strongest quake they had ever experienced in the City. Carl, meanwhile, thought I was completely crazy to go back into the building, and paced nervously up and down the sidewalk. The restaurant didn’t suffer any damage that I could see; our food was still on the table and all pictures and ornaments were still on the walls. The only broken items were from Carl’s encounter with the front table; I thought it wryly amusing that he caused more damage to the restaurant than the quake had.

Of course, the power was off and the waitress couldn’t use the cash register, but the bill came to exactly $20 and she threw in the beer for free. I handed her the money and wished her luck. She laughed and replied, “I bet you didn’t think this visit would be so….eventful, huh?” I agreed with her.

I went outside and found Carl, and we decided to walk the three blocks up Noe St. to his parked car, sit inside and listen to the radio. We felt several strong aftershocks as the various reports of damage throughout the Bay Area trickled in. We watched people walking across the nearby intersection holding radios to their ears and open bottles of beer to their mouths, eyes glazed in shock from those fifteen seconds of Nature shaking her booty. I found it difficult to conceive of the quake’s powerful effect. How could something which lasted only a few seconds wreak such havoc?

The radio soon reported the horrible collapse of the Bay Bridge section and mile of Nimitz Freeway, along with the fires springing up in the Marina area. 60,000 baseball fans waited in Candlestick Park for the third game of the World Series to begin. Carl laughed, remarking how ludicrous it was for people to think about baseball at a time like this.

We sat in the car for over an hour listening to the news, then saw the nutritionist Irene passing by (since her apartment was down the block). Carl flagged her down to ask if we could hang out at her apartment while deciding what to do next, and Irene said, “Sure, join the crowd.”  She had been with two women clients when the quake hit, and I quipped, “They really got an earth-shaking nutritional reading today, didn’t they?”

Carl had no intention of trying to get back to Sacramento that night, so I suggested phoning my friend Paul to see if we could stay at his place. Luckily, the quake hadn’t seriously damaged the City’s phone system, so we were able to get through to Paul after waiting 20 seconds for a dial-tone. I told him that Carl & I would drive there after the heavy traffic had abated somewhat.

Irene’s upstairs apartment hadn’t suffered damage except for an overturned bookshelf. She left to check on some neighbors, so the two women clients sat with Carl & me on the front steps. That particular neighborhood of Noe St. just north of Market seemed fine, although the power was off. We watched the news on Irene’s next-door neighbor’s battery-operated TV, grimacing in horror as we saw the collapsed section of Oakland’s highway 880. Many folks congregated on the sidewalk in front of the neighbor’s tiny TV, many of them were in a mild form of shock. I realized that I must have been in a similar condition to have downplayed my reactions to the quake as I did when it was happening, for it was really quite a serious event. It hit me hard later.

It was soon dark —  very dark without electricity. We sat on the front steps and watched the groups of people walking by with flashlights and radios and candles.  Someone warned us that they had heard on TV that scientists were predicting a strong aftershock in about 45 minutes. One agreeable result of no electricity: the stars could be seen shining brightly in a clear sky. Luckily, temperatures were mild that night, after an unusually warm day.

Irene came back and went upstairs to her fridge, and brought down fruit popsicles for the gang. Carl & I thanked her for everything, then decided to drive to Paul’s. Carl allowed me to drive, and after looking carefully at a map determined the best way to go: south on Dolores, which turned into San Jose, on to Monterey and then to Paul’s on Staples. Traffic was light at 9 P.M. and we arrived safely. Amazingly, that part of the city had electricity; Paul & Liza said that the power had just come on five minutes before we got there.

Their house suffered no structural damage as far as they could tell — even their kitchen, an addition to the original house, was fine. Paul was in that room when the quake hit; only a few champagne and wine glasses crashed to the floor from a shelf.  He could hear things shattering in the livingroom, however, and discovered that Liza’s large grandfather clock had tumbled to the floor. Clay pots and knick-knacks on the mantel had fallen, but were cushioned by landing on the fireplace screen which had tipped over. A couple of pictures jumped off the walls, and that was the extent of the damage at Paul & Liza’s.

Liza, meanwhile, was on a MUNI train which had just arrived at the station where she usually gets off after work. No-one on the train actually felt the quake, and wondered why everything came to a grinding halt. Finally, an announcement was made about the quake; MUNI would follow “standard procedure” — sitting tight for the moment. The train hadn’t pulled into the station completely, so everyone evacuated from the front car. All sorts of wild thoughts went through Liza’s mind as she hurried home, and arrived to find that Paul had nearly finished cleaning up the mess. Relief!

By the time that Carl & I arrived, Liza had consumed a couple bottles of white wine and was feeling no pain. I decided to join her. It was wonderful to see Paul & Liza again, even under such bizarre circumstances, and we had much news to catch up on.

Liza reported that the San Francisco Opera House suffered extensive damage; the new additional building (behind the older, main section) had separated from it! So the current opera has been cancelled (and probably the rest of the season) as Management attempts to assess the damage. I asked what happens to the musicians, and Liza replied that everyone’s insured.

Everyone except me went to bed around midnight; I stayed up watching the news on TV, which was fascinating. As the hours went by, the quake information became more comprehensive. The news anchors did a wonderful job of on-the-spot reporting; they were very professional. Finally, at 3 A.M. I went to bed.

We slept late until 11. Paul had already returned from taking Liza to the airport, and he fixed us a delicious breakfast of pancakes and scrambled eggs.

Carl & I headed back to Sacramento at 1 o’clock. We had to figure out a good way to get to the Golden Gate Bridge; 19th Ave. was closed. We ended up driving along the ocean road, which eventually led us to the bridge. We breathed sighs of relief after successfully crossing the Golden Gate….then headed up Hwy. 101 to #37 to Vallejo and Hwy. 80. It was another unusually hot day, strange & oppressive.

We arrived in Sacramento at 3 P.M., two hours after leaving S.F. It was definitely a relief to be home, and we have spent many hours sleeping these past two days.

*     *     *     *     *

One of the things which strikes me the most, reading over this journal entry from twenty years ago, is that the earthquake itself lasted only the few seconds, but the aftermath lingered for much, much longer. For years — even to the present day.


Tuesday through Sunday, I ride BART to the Civic Center station in the heart of downtown San Francisco from the Colma station, a few miles south of the City. It is only a seven-minute drive from our RV park in Pacifica.

The train ride usually takes sixteen minutes. You can practically count on it.

This lulls me into a false sense of complacency; the train schedule is regular enough to make me assume that it will always get me to work punctually.

But of course this is not true 100% of the time. There are occasional problems on the tracks: obstructions, fires or malfunctions, or problems with the brakes on the cars — or more rarely, “situations” with disruptive citizenry in the train stations.

It is amazing, actually, that BART provides as consistent service as it does.

Last night’s ride into work was a different experience, as though I was living in a subtly altered reality. It was not a dramatic departure from the usual routine, but just “off” enough for me to notice.

I arrived at the Colma station to the sound of a train pulling in. I didn’t know which direction it was coming from but I wanted to make sure to catch the train if it was going into the City.

I started to jog towards the escalator leading down to the tracks, but a station manager was standing nearby to wave me apologetically down the stairs, as the escalator was out-of-service.

Difference #1.

The train turned out to be coming from the City, disgorging a huge number of commuters after their long day at work. There were so many of them that they completely took over the stairs on their ascent, leaving me little space to walk down. I squeezed along the extreme righthand side of the stairwell, hugging the bannister as I inched my way through the surge of humanity coming up.

I felt like a salmon fighting my way against an inexorable current which was in danger of sweeping me along in its wake.

I probably should have turned around and gone back UP the stairs and waited for this rush of humanity to pass before trying to go down, but I was in the middle of the staircase when they had suddenly appeared. Besides that, I am stubborn. Committed!

Most of the commuters didn’t even LOOK up to see if anyone might be trying to descend the stairs. Perhaps they assumed that no-one would be going into the City during rush hour; what are you, crazy? What do you mean, you work a night job? This is not normal!

One man in particular was on a collision course with me. He kept his gaze studiously down on the steps he was climbing up, one by one, and I was being pulled into the middle of the current of humanity directly in front of him. He finally saw my feet appearing on the step just above him and he changed course at the last possible moment before disaster struck.

Difference #2.

I waited a few moments for the inbound train, which arrived on schedule. Everything ran smoothly until just after the 24th St./Mission station. The train was moving more slowly than usual and then it came to a full stop in the middle of the tunnel. Not once, not twice, but three times. I heard a faint click of the intercom in our car, then a brief rasping crackle of static on the speaker indicating that the train operator was making some sort of announcement — but the audio system wasn’t working in this particular car.

I briefly considered going to another car where the intercom worked — the knowledge of what was going on would somehow be reassuring, even if it didn’t make my arrival any faster — but in a few seconds the train slowly crawled into Civic Center station.

After a series of jerky stops and starts, it finally positioned itself along the tracks to let out the masses.

I was so anxious to get OUT of there that I didn’t notice the train had stopped in a completely different place than usual. The escalators weren’t working at this station, either. I saw what I thought was the staircase I usually used and went up it (I don’t ride the escalators most of the time, anyway), only to find that it was a different staircase which put me onto Market St. farther away from the theatre, and ten minutes later than usual.

Differences #3, #4 and #5.

This commute felt like one of those dreams when everything is a bit off, an altered atmosphere, almost like being in a parallel universe. Do any of you ever feel like that?

It seems that the “Creatures of Habit” theme is continuing in my life, with the reminder to maintain flexibility if at all possible!

Ever since Tuesday’s record-breaking rainstorm, it has been unusually mild and humid in the Bay area.

It almost feels like the East coast in the Fall BEFORE it snows (I’ve heard that it’s snowing out there today).

I am amazed at what a difference a few degrees make here. It’s usually in the upper 50s by the beach and a few degrees warmer in the City. But this week it is five degrees warmer, and I can actually feel the change.

The climate here is very temperate, without too many extremes. So I suppose that any variation seems more dramatic.

Now I understand it when local residents complain that 70 degrees is a “heat wave” and that 50 degrees is a cold-snap.

One thing I have not seen around here are Fall colors. The only indication that the season has changed is that the air is slightly more crisp — at least until this week — and the profusion of Halloween decorations.

Last night immediately after the show, I was struck by how it is human nature to have certain habits and routines.

The pit musicians have a space downstairs in the Golden Gate Theatre to store instruments and change clothes. We call it “The Bandroom”.

There are three separate spaces: the smallest room has cubbyholes and shelves to store the instruments. The middle space is the largest, where people usually congregate, eat or relax. This is where the main entrance to the bandroom is located. The third space on the opposite also has its own entrance, and is midway in size between the other two rooms.

As this run of South Pacific has progressed, each musician has designated his or her own “territory”, so to speak. I always put my knapsack, hat and coat in the same spot, on a high bass stool nearest the clothes rack in the largest, middle room.

Then I put my horn case in the smallest room with the cubbyholes, and have taken over a certain one which is big enough to store my particular instrument.

The third space is currently being used as the women’s dressing room, as the 25 musicians are evently divided between the sexes. The other two spaces have been taken over by the men.

Last night after the show, I was packing up my horn in the instrument storage room as usual, and was just about to store the case in the cubbyhole I’ve always used — when the flute player quickly shoved her case in it!

She must have sensed my faint annoyance because she asked, “Oh, did I take your spot?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“I’m sorry,” she said, on her way out of the room.

“No you’re NOT,” I rejoined, and we both laughed — as she continued to walk away.

So we tend to be creatures of habit, but can be adaptable when routines are disrupted.

I was in this frame of mind when I arrived at the BART station a few moments later.

I always catch the same train, so I have come to recognize a few of the regular riders who have a similar work schedule to mine.

One man always stands at the same black tile strip where the train doors open; there is a series of them along the track. I always stand at the adjacent strip next to him, because this particular door of the train opens immediately opposite the staircase at my destination.

Another man always waits for his train (a later one than mine; he never gets on when I do) at the foot of the nearby stairway which has a bannister made of stainless steel, which is wide enough to serve as a counter. He reads or plays with his PDA there.

I’ve also figured out that the Staircase Man is an usher for one of the theatres. He always wears black slacks, white shirt with a long black tie. The other night, he had two narrow, tall empty cardboard boxes marked “PLAYBILL” (the name of the show programs used in all the theatres around the country). So this made me realize that he’s an usher.

One night, my train was about to emerge from the tunnel at the end of the station. There is always a high wind which the trains push ahead of them, marking their imminent arrival. This wind is so strong that I have to hang onto my hat. It was also strong enough to blow those empty cardboard boxes marked “PLAYBILL” away from Staircase Man and rapidly towards me, standing right by the tracks.

I had to react quickly to save the boxes from tumbling down onto the tracks, recessed nearly five feet below me. I grabbed them and handed them back to Staircase Man, who smiled and thanked me. I didn’t have time to ask him which theatre he ushers — it’s either the Orpheum where a long-running production of “Wicked” is playing, or at the Golden Gate where “South Pacific” has a six-week run — because I had to get on my train.

It was interesting that the theme of “creatures of habit” came to me so vividly last night. But there are always variations, such as the flute player taking my cubbyhole and Staircase Man’s boxes blowing away.

James and I just arrived back at our Airstream parked at the beach in Pacifica. We drove through a very heavy rainstorm with high winds which has hit the entire region.

The road was often obscured by rain and there were large puddles which cars ploughed through, sending huge jets of spray in all directions. Most drivers were cautious and we were lucky not to be caught in any slowdowns, although there were a couple of accidents in the opposite direction, heading east on Highway 80.

It started raining early this morning in The Woods and intensified as noon approached, and got worse the further we headed west towards San Francisco.

The power has been out here since noon throughout the Bay area. Our big elementary-school style electric clock on the Airstream kitchen wall stopped at twelve on the nose.

My computer is running on battery power and we are lucky to have a “Mi-Fi” 3G card to get on the internet. The card can run for a while if it’s charged up — thankfully, it is at the moment.

I’ll make this short for now in order to save power. The storm is still raging now at 3:30 p.m.; sheets of rain are pelting the stainless steel trailer and the high winds are rocking it gently to and fro.

I haven’t heard anything about the show possibly being cancelled tonight. Apparently BART is running. There are probably areas of downtown San Francisco which do have power; hopefully the Golden Gate Theatre is in one of them!

James picked me up from the theatre immediately after yesterday’s matinee ended at five o’clock, and we made the four-hour drive back home to The Woods for my single day off today.

It took about forty-five minutes to get out of San Francisco and over the Bay Bridge; there was lots of traffic late Sunday afternoon. Hordes of people were leaving two major events, a baseball game and an air show put on by the Blue Angels.

One of my colleagues in the pit of South Pacific advised me to ‘put on my patience hat, there’s gonna be a LOT of traffic this afternoon!’ so I took her words to heart, and felt more relaxed about the stop/start aspect of our crawl out of the City because I was mentally prepared for it.

We arrived home to pitch black darkness at 9:30, and crisp cool temperatures in the 40s. It’s always such a shock to be drenched in such silence after being in an intense urban area. My mind seemed to race even more, against the backdrop of this contrast.

We couldn’t have picked two more different environments in which to live!

We needed to come home once more before we hit the road with Phantom, so that James could winterize the water pipes leading out from the well.

Fall has definitely come to The Woods. Splashes of yellow adorn the deciduous trees, and there are patches of golden pine needles sprinkled throughout the evergreens. The meadow grass is brown and crackly. The sound of birds is curiously absent; perhaps they have already migrated South.

This is the time of year just before the rains and snows set in. A time of waiting for the transition to Winter.

It will be interesting to see if we can bring the Airstream trailer back home in mid-January; it is entirely possible that the mile-long, steep, rutted dirt road will be impassable with ice and snow. It usually snows in early January, as much as two feet in a single storm.

When we get back to California sometime the second week of January, we will call the town postmaster — who is also one of our nearest neighbors — to ask about the road conditions. If it’s bad, then we’ll probably park the Airstream in my brother’s driveway in Sacramento for a week or so, before venturing up to The Woods. We did this last year, and had a lovely visit with the family.

So we are enjoying our brief time at home now, and will drive back to our City Life bright and early tomorrow morning. Back to work!

There are two weeks remaining of the run of South Pacific in San Francisco. I am already waxing nostalgic about it; this has been a wonderful production to be involved with. I will miss playing in this excellent orchestra. It’s very unusual to have twenty-five musicians (with NO synthesizers) in the pit for shows these days. I’m so glad that this full-scale revival of a Broadway classic is being done now!

I am continually amazed at the variety of climates going on in the San Francisco Bay area all at the same time.

This phenomenon is due to the fact that this area is bounded by the ocean on the west and by hills on the east, with combinations of both elements inland in various directions. It’s a complex physical environment which results in many different micro-climates. It can be cool and foggy on one side of a hill and hot and sunny on the other side.

Here at the beach in Pacifica, just south of San Francisco, it is usually foggy and cool. The temperature usually stays in the 50s when the fog layer comes in.

James drives me over a rather steep hill to the north when he drops me off at the BART station to go to work. When there is fog in Pacifica, it is usually at its thickest at the top of this hill. Then we go over the crest and downhill towards the intersection of highways 1 and 280. Suddenly the hills to the east and the City to the north come into view, in blazing sunshine.

This does not always happen, but often enough to be a pattern.

Sometimes the fog stretches northward past Balboa Park. When I ride the train, I’m not sure where the fog ends exactly because BART is underground after that station. But it is frequently sunny in downtown San Francisco when I emerge to street level at 7th & Market.

The fog creates changeable weather conditions very quickly. James told me the other day that there were at least three short periods of sunshine yesterday at the beach, none of which lasted more than an hour, and usually much shorter.

So if you don’t like the weather, stick around a minute!

I was amazed this past summer at the variations of temperature around the Bay area, even when it was sunny everywhere. It would be 60 degrees at the beach and over 90 degrees a few miles inland.

My friend R.A. lives in Lafayette, at the extreme eastern portion of the Bay area. You have to go through the Caldicot Tunnel, which cuts through a major range of hills separating Oakland from the rest of the East Bay, to get to Lafayette. The western side of the tunnel would be 70 degrees and the eastern side twenty degrees warmer. Then it escalates quickly as you proceed further east.

There is often a 50-degree difference between San Francisco and Sacramento (90 miles inland) in the summer.

I have a theory why Pacifica is such a laid-back, unpretentious community. It may be totally off the mark but it entertains me to think that it’s because the area is so foggy. If it were brilliantly sunny here by the beach all the time, it would attract wealthy people wanting to build fancy homes overlooking the ocean.

Obviously, Pacifica residents don’t mind the fog. James and I can tolerate it for a few days in a row, but it gets kind of old after two straight weeks, which happened in mid-July. It was maddening to be stuck in fog all day and then drive over the northern hill to find blazing sunshine, barely two miles away.

So I suppose the remedy is to get OUT of the house and take the train to more sunny environments. In the San Francisco Bay area, you usually have not far to go!