I feel like Rip Van Winkle, just waking up from 1-1/2 months of not knowing what our future would be, due to the bankruptcy of our distributors, Publishers Group West. Stressful in the extreme, sleepless nights. Over 150 independent publishers were in the same boat, and there’s been a hair-raising roller coaster of a soap opera going on regarding our future. I won’t go into details here, but it’s been the hottest publishing thing to happen in ages. And as of Friday (Feb. 16), it got resolved, and actually the way I had hoped. Our distribution will be taken over by Perseus Book Group, and we’re back in biz, and a whole bunch of independent publishers are still afloat.
I haven’t been able to do much since the end of last year. In my “Bankruptcy” mailbox, there are now 346 emails since Jan 1. I needed a change from legal and contractual complexities, so I took off Thursday morning about 4AM, heading up the coast on Highway One to hang out with my friend Louie, who lives on a beautiful river in the redwoods. I love going north on the coast, the farther north you go, the more trees and animals there are.
Mom Is 100!
She’s never gone to a doctor. She raised 6 kids, three adopted. I was the oldest and by far the most troublesome and these days she’s vastly amused by recollections of my childhood antics. She’s alive and in such good shape today because of an angel from Mexico: Clara Morales, herself a mother, has been my mother’s caregiver and companion and loving friend for over 10 years. My mother, Virginia Essie Jones, was born in Salt Lake City, the oldest of 4 kids. She and her family moved to the San Francisco when they were in their 20s, and my mom met my dad. Here she is at 100!
Back On the Trails, Roads, and in the Water
My knee is pretty well healed and I’m up to running 6 miles or more, and also once again able to ride my skateboard. I skated about an hour on Friday on a smoothly-paved road going out the the Point Arena lighthouse. I also went surfing today, the first time in months, and I was rusty. Slow in getting up, slow paddling. I’ve got to work back into it. It’s so easy to just give up when you get to be 70 or so, but I’m determined to regain these skills.
Sherm and Merle Haggard
Sherman Welpton is a friend of mine from Stanford, a former athlete and energetic person who is now in a wheelchair. A few years ago i wrote something about him and his spirit and courage: Sherm and the Three-Legged Dog
Sherm and I went out last week and I wrote the following to update Sherm’s college friends:
Sherm hasn’t been able to move his lower body for years, and now he can barely move his arms and head. He shakes off and on – not always. It usually takes him a long time to get out a sentence, but other times, when he’s relaxed, he can carry on a conversation. He lives in a small town house in Oakland, just off Piedmont Avenue, and is looked after by three caregivers and his wife Ruthie (he got married last October). He needs 24-hour care. There’s a wonderful atmosphere at his place. They all get along and they all love Sherm.
On Friday I took him to see Merle Haggard at the Paramount Theater in Oakland. I got to his place a little early and we were sitting around talking with Sharon, one of the ladies that looks after him. It turns out that for his honeymoon he took Ruthie, Sharon, and Beverly to New York. “We stayed at the Helmsley Palace,” said Sharon. “He took us out to dinner to three different restaurants·and then we went on a cruise ship.” They took a five-day cruise up the Atlantic, stopping in Boston, New England, and then Halifax. Sharon was thrilled with the trip. I said, “Sherm, you took a trip with three women and they were all looking after you!” He smirked.
So off we went in his specially-equipped van. Working all the controls (door opens automatically and ramp slides out, etc.) and getting him in and his wheelchair locked in place, and then getting him out takes some doing. We got to the Paramount (a gorgeous art-deco theater) and got to our seats. There were a couple of young women in seats in front of us and one was bouncing around to the music. At one point I left to go get us some bottled water and when I came back, the bouncy woman had reached back and taken Sherm’s hand and was swinging their arms together in time to the music, which she did for several minutes. Jeez, you leave the guy alone for five minutes and he’s flirting. Sherm is bad!
The music was great. The vibes in the old theater were great.
Sherm loved it. He’s just an extraordinary guy. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself and he’s game to try anything.