As soon as this trip was planned, I arranged visits--hoping to spend time with folks with whom we've stayed in touch over the intervening 26 years. (Well, actually, some of them had visited us in Ohio, but even those happy events were long past.)
A rainy day greeted us the next morning, but we dodged the raindrops, and--carrying a gift bottle of the DHubby's wine--we drove into Cupertino to visit The Robinsons: Maddie, Robbie, and their son Dave--once our next-door neighbors on Boise Court in Sunnyvale, now living in a retirement center villa, . I can scarcely come up with adequate words to describe how important these dear people have been to our family. Maybe I'll just show you their smiling faces:
Maddie and Robbie, now both in their Nineties (!) have been married more than 71 years. Both of them have been generous, caring, and helpful to us--as neighbors and as long-distance friends. They are our children's 'real grandparents' in many ways.
Maddie shared her wisdom and support during some hard times. I gave Maddie my non-performing orchid plant...which immediately began blooming for her. I got photos of it in bloom for years!
Robbie came to my rescue when the hot water heater began leaking and when the bean trellis blew over in the wind, and on and on. He retired from Lockheed during our years in California, but he continued as a Certified Flight Instructor for many years after that.
It was a tradition for Maddie and Robbie to come to dinner on Christmas Eve; I always fixed lasagna. The Christmas that we all had the flu, they brought us dinner!
Sweet son Dave Robinson has a mild degree of hemiplegia, walking with a limp and having limited use of one hand. Dave is an important part of our family story, and I'll share the reason here:
We moved into the Boise Court house in June, 1983--one jump ahead of the stork, so to speak. (There is somewhere a picture of me--smiling because I think I have only 4 more weeks before Nathaniel's birth, when instead it was six--planting out tomatoes.) I was full of energy and anxious to get as settled as possible before the birth. Laura was happy to play in the grassy back yard while I worked to get the all-important kitchen arranged. The DHubby, as always concerned with the performance of the electronics, climbed his extension ladder and got onto the roof to fiddle with the antenna.
Now, although she was not yet three years old, Laura was a very bold and (hyper)active child, little daunted by her disabilities. We encouraged her from earliest days to do as much as she could, and we regarded her high activity level as helpful and even vital. (Honestly, anyone else would have had the sense to give up in the face of the challenge of walking. She fell many, many times each day.) So....meanwhile, back on the roof,.suddenly Don hears, "Hi, Daddy!" --and he turns to see Laura's smiling face peering over the top of the ladder at the edge of the roof. He moved quickly to get hands on Laura and began shouting for me. Though the doors were open, I heard nothing... and in my condition, I don't know how I would have managed a climb....but Dave next door did hear, and he quickly came over. He got himself up that ladder and rescued Laura, saving us all from a dreadful situation. He will always, always, be our hero.
(Years later, reading Ann Proulx's The Shipping News, I came across a similar scene; protagonist Quoyle is roofing the house when six-year-old Bunny comes to 'help.' Uncanny, evocative, and too close to home!)
We all shared photos, viewed their cozy space, admired their patio with its roses, and enjoyed a lovely lunch in the gracious dining room in the main building. The rain had nobbled our plans for a hike with Nat and Karen in Rancho San Antonio preserve, and perhaps that was fortunate, because it gave us more time to reminisce and catch up with the Robinsons. Finally it was time to part.
The day ended with an amazing dinner prepared by Karen (say, did Natty help?)--Ceviche, made with some lemons from their tree. The DHubby is not always a fan of fish--especially not fish that is officially raw--but this dish was wonderful. I plan to nag for the recipe...
In lieu of the rained-out stroll around Deer Hollow Farm on the Rancho preserve we four opted for a walk around the neighborhood where Nat and Karen are renters. I'm always interested in people's yards, plants, gardens. Housing in Silicon Valley, despite several 'dips' during economic downturns, has continued to grow phenomenally more expensive. Modest houses in Sunnyvale are selling--within a few days--for more than a million dollars with multiple offers that push the final sale far above the $1M+ asking price. (Maddie and Robbie described the letter that their successful buyers had written as part of their offer; sellers have many choices and can make decisions based on minute criteria.) We came upon a house that had a big sign posted next to the sidewalk, and we crossed the street and read that the City of Sunnyvale was accepting Public Comment on a proposed remodel that would add to the size of the house by going the only possible direction--up. At that point, the woman of the house popped out the door, asking if we had any questions. It turned out that the entire neighborhood was up in arms in opposition to the proposed addition of a second story. With four children, the family desperately needed more space; moreover, the house was the one the husband and father had himself grown up in! We expressed our sympathy and support--and this story continues to haunt me. Wish I knew how this was playing out!
5/28 I was able to check the City of Sunnyvale's online listing of building permits. The project was approved! That made us very happy.
Stay tuned for more doings....