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Napa, California.
January 25th, 2000

Through The Viewfinder
I walked to work today and managed to dodge the rain. I was heading for the garage when I looked outside and noticed it wasn't raining and there were breaks in the clouds and, well, what the hell, one of these days I'm going to get really wet walking home anyway so it might as well be today. Winter in Oakland. Cloudy, temperature in the 50's. I know. I read the papers. No complaints. The weather in California is pretty good. You've heard that before? Well, it's true. You get used to it and forget, sometimes. As an old Seattlite I can attest to it. My sister in Portland will back me up. Sun, wind, water and if you want more, you can go south. The state extends south for another four hundred miles. Seventy degrees in January. I know. I've read about it in the papers. Viv mentions it. Los Angeles. City of Angels. And highways. And automobiles. (You can stop now. Right. Stop drifting and drink some cocoa or something. Right. Maybe something with caffeine. Wrong.)

Bill was back at work today. They're thinking type 2 diabetes, he says, although they're not At one or another recent lunch. really sure yet. Type 2 is the kind you can often manage with diet or diet and pills, although I suspect none of it is altogether easy. One thing I hadn't understood - diabetes symptoms here - is that Bill had lost 35 pounds in the last two weeks. He was thinking it was the flu, wheezing and sneezing and peeing, but it was his body not being able to metabolize sugar and therefor making do by metabolizing itself. Cells eating cells. Hell of a way to lose thirty five pounds. Anyway, he looked fine, his first act being to hand me a full box of peanut butter cookies he had stashed in his desk (no more peanut butter cookies when you have diabetes, I guess) which I put out on a table for passers by. This is a week I'm looking to lose a couple of pounds of my own and a peanut butter cookie ambush early in the week was avoided, but narrowly. Narrowly.

My grandfather, who died at the age of 39, died, the story goes, of diabetes. Later there was some suggestion of diabetes and alcohol. This is the male side of the family and both my sister and I learned very young not to trust any of the family histories, vague stories that were related to us occasionally, mostly by our mother, but each story a little different and sometimes a lot different and sometimes antithetical. Diabetes? Alcohol? We know something of the line back to the 1850's when they came over from Denmark, but little of their likes and wants and habits. Except for one of their (our) diseases. We think. Diabetes and alcohol, we're told, don't mix when you're 39.

And so the day progressed. A day of meetings and putting out fires, little fires, but fires. A day to welcome back a coworker diagnosed with diabetes, a day to have lunch at a Cambodian restaurant (The house noodle soup. Three shrimp, two fish balls and a submerged bird's nest made out of egg noodles. Good stuff. Still thinking about those two pounds, you'll notice.) No photographs. Lunch with Bill and Mark and Ola and Beth, all of whom I've shot so many times they don't roll their eyes anymore and the camera on the table has become something like a hat or gloves or glasses, an inanimate and ordinary object, not much need to pay attention when I pick it up and look through the viewfinder.

The banner photograph was taken in downtown Napa two weeks ago. The poster covered windows once housed my barber's shop. The lady is a coworker at lunch.