Saturday, February 24, 2018

On his one-hundredth birthday: early diary entries about my grandfather Coco with spelling errors intact and modern explanations in blue


August 13—Tomorrow we're going to Virginia. I'm bringing my ET book & story book, diary, Yes & Know book, Garfield book, solitare, paper & pen, Geraldene & Josephene, & bath room things. When I come back I'll write out my movie. I'll work on it at noni & coco's house. I can't wait to get there. I can't wait to see the new rooms! The movie was the script for the sequel to E.T., which I planned to write and then send to Steven Spielberg - and also eventually star in.

August 14—We are at Noni & Coco's house. Edina skis better than any one exept Freddy. Aunt Sally, Uncle Alex & Nana was here. We sang and played piano before going to bed. It was so much fun!

August 16—I got up on the slalom for the 1st time this year.  I did it on my 4th try, Coco honked the horn.  Mom skied 1st time this year they honked the horn for her too.  I didn't stay up.

August 17—I slalomed again but I fell again.  Mom is learning to slalom.  We sank the rowboat.  Frankie had a life jacket on & he got caught under the tipped over rowboat.  Coco saved him.  We went over to Jeff White's house we had a bad time.  They turned off the lights then threw pillows.

August 25—We took a moon light cruse. I learned that the big dipper's last 2 stars point to Polaris, a star. It points to the north Pole. Coco played "the sting" tape in the car to the market my favorite song is Solice & Easy Winners. The moonlight cruise was us going out on Coco's float boat in the evening. Coco was the one who gave me the little astronomy lesson.

August 28—We slept on the boat. I saw a beaver. I saw a shooting star. On it I wished for Stephen Spiellberg to use my movie.

August 31—We went to Baltimore. I went to a giant aquarium & saw a big ship & went to Fort McHenry. I bought 2 pins. 1 was I [heart] Baltimore & 1 was I [heart] E.T. I got E.T. shoelaces & an E.T. keychain. Speaking of E.T. Henry Thomas' middle name is John.

September 2—I slalomed 2wice. I didn't fall! There was a full-full moon. The big Cok took us out to walk around the circle in the midnight. I thought of a new scene for my movie, a dinner table scene. Coco called himself The Big Coke. Sometimes he called himself The Old Coke.

September 3—Tonight was another full moon. We took a long moon light cruse. We saw the Harvest moon. It was yellow. Afterwards we ate Ice Cream & Noni's homemade chocolate syrup & watched "Dallas" The Harvest moon inspired me a song so I'm writing a harvest moon song. The main tune was already made up by me but the rest of the tune & the words (lyrics in professional talk) are for the harvest moon. It's named "Stay, Harvest Moon."


January 25—Noni & Coco came. Noni came to meet us at school. Coco gave me a book on Jacques Philippe Villeré. We did alot of geneology talk. He has a tree (geneology) that goes back to the 1300's!!! I'd sure like a copy of that for my collection of information.

January 26—Coco said he and I can make me a copy of the big geneology tree!

August 5-12—Heather, Edina & I went to Noni's & Coco's. I can slolam on 1 foot. We met 2 German girls (Heikka & Iris) & saw them again when we went to Washington D.C. I saw the Star Spangled Banner.


It's been some time & now it's March 20th. Well, it's finaly come, the day to change PE games. Of course, 'they' said they were going to retake raquetball. We got in line. They switched & I am stuck in raquetball. I knew the time would come and it finally did. I have no partner & will not have one. I hate loneliness and I hate being a teenager. I hate having no friends and I hate this whole bloody mess. Oh well, does it really matter? I knew it would happen sometime. Noni and CoCo and Sassy & Elsa had one last dinner with us (at Shiki) & left for Virginia. Sassy and Elsa were Noni and Coco's dachshunds.

November 18, 1984. I guess this is my last entry in this journal. Noni and Coco, Sassy and Elsa arived yesterday. We took Coco out on a boat ride, rain spitting softly around us. It was a cold, grey day. We came back from the boat and built a warm, crackling fire. It was a good day. I'm to a great part in my book The Talisman. Jack and Wolf were caught by the police and brought to a home. Wolf has turned into a warewolf and is eating everyone.

12/25/84 7:11 P.M. Christmas this year, we had the presents on Christmas eve because Lanaux and Carter had to leave this morning. In here is a way-too-long segment in which I detail all the presents I got. We went out and played fort in the hills. Shena and Mara came by and we took a boat ride with Coco in which we sang songs and saved someone's volleyball. 

2/24/85 9:55. Saturday night, we had a birthday party for Coco. We kids had a chance to go to the Prince concert, but, we couldn’t, because of Coco’s birthday. Oh well, maybe some other time.
       Noni made some great orange cake. I was wearing my new Mickey Mouse shirt, my new grey socks, and fingerless gloves. I talk about my clothes for a while.
       Later on, we got together with Coco and picked oranges in the 'McFerrin orange groves.'

July 16. night. Virginia.
       We awoke very early (4:30 for me) and showered and dressed and prepared to leave for the airport. We drove out in the van to the Disneyland hotel, whereupon ariving, we kissed Dad goodbye and borded a bus which took us to the airport. I had with me a suit case (which I have just discovered has no sweat-shirt in it—necessary for a sleap on the boat), a purse (virtually empty), and a carry-on bag filled with cassettes, my walkman, Salem’s Lot, my diary, my little poetry book, a pad of paper, any- and everything to keep me occupied during the flight. We ate a quick breakfast & borded.
       I sat down by a large black woman who was busy crocheting a small pink square (for a scarf, I found out later), and I immediately (I was so proud of myself) said ‘Hi’—the first step in meeting people—the acknowledgment. And, as the plane ride commenced and drew out 5 hours, I learned alot more about this woman. (2nd step—Conversation)
       Well, Virginia, Cross Junction, the Summit is just as green, and old fashioned & beautiful! It’s great to see Noni, Coco, & Nana, again. Along w/Sassy, Elsa, and Didgeridoo.
       We had a swim in the lake & played a small game of Troll. Had freshly baked (& I mean freshly—the berries were picked by Coco, the day before) blackberry pie—baked of course, by Noni. Troll was when we swam in the lake and Coco hid under the pontoons of the float boat and pretended to be a troll.
       Then, we went on a moonlight cruise (there was no moon, but that’s O.K.). There were so many stars it was spectacular. God, how I love the stars! I picked one out and, as usual, wished on it. Then, Noni & I saw a shooting star. I wished on that one, too, for the same thing as before.
       “I want to be a writer.” my mind screamed, “God Dammit, I want to be a writer!”

Friday July 19th. day.
       We’re all on the boat, heading for a place to fish. It’s been a couple of days. We’ve skied a lot—atleast twice a day. We’ve begun to teach Chandler to ski, and he’s gotten up many times; Hasn’t yet mastered the staying-up part, but he’s getting better. Chandler is my brother Frank.
       We’ve stopped, now, in a “finger” that Coco & Noni call THE LITTLE BEAVER FINGER. I’m not sure if Coco coined the name, or not, but the origin is that a small beaver house was built (by beavers, of course. Just incase you didn’t figure it out.) somewhere in this finger.
       It’s beautiful; so unlike Canyon Lake. There are foresty trees bordering it, and not a house, at all. They are mirrored in the glossy surface of the water, etched with sparks of sunlight which is reflected from the sky.
       We’re moving again, past the little beaver house, and up to the opening of the finger. Fish-lines are dropped, and voices, too, and Frankie has already caught the 1st fish.
       So, today, Coco, Edina, Frankie,, and I went out to pick blackberries. These berries will be used to make a blackberry pie for Dad for when he arrives. Aunt Sally & Uncle Alex will arrive on Monday; Lanaux and Carter will be comming up, too, during our stay.
       Every morning, after breakfast, Noni, Coco, Mom, Frankie & I (& Didge) take a walk to work off breakfast. Between that and the skiing, we all should get more in shape than get fat (I.E. Noni’s pies), and that’s good.
       We’re slowly drifting out into the middle of the opening of the Little Beaver Finger, and Edina has caught a fish. Elsa is sleaping under the table and Sassy is dozing on the seat behind me where Mom is fishing also.
       We’ve migrated (myself at the wheel) across the lake to what Coco coined (yes, he did the naming) THE BABY BEAVER COVE, and lines have once again been dropped.
       The next door neighbor to Noni and Coco is a nice German woman called Dam Klinger, who also speaks not a word of English. Well, she sent over a nice apricot cake which I think she baked herself, and today, Edina and I went next door to thank her, knowing only the German word for thankyou.
       So, there was alot of German speech and laughing from her, and some utterances of “Dankershan” (which I am sure I am misspelling) from us. She gave us some 7-up and strange apple danishes to eat, and took us around her house, showing us each item in it and babbling a-mile-a-minute in German, to which we just smiled and said, “uh-huh.” We were back up in the kitchen when we heard Coco’s whistle out in the front—he had come to rescue us. She was a sweet woman, but there was no way to communicate.
       Now, we’re back in our finger, drifting and fishing some more. I have done no fishing, because I have been writing so much.
       After dinner, Mom read to Noni, Nana, and Coco some of my journal-writes, and they laughed. Journal writes were creative writing assignments from school. Oh how happy it made me! She read the one about the Garden of Eden, and when she read the part about “Eve’s mother-in-law, whom they called Serpent”, both Coco and Noni burst out laughing. I mean, it just made me scarlet! I got a good pounding on the floor by Coco’s feet for that one.

July 20. day.
       Dinner, last night, was crabs and corn, which was great. Nummers, nummers, & after dinner, we dressed in warm clothes—I in jeans, a shirt, a sweat shirt, a small jacket, my red knit fingerless gloves, & shoes—and went down with our mattresses and blankets, to sleep on the boat.
       It was great. I was snuggled between Mom & Noni, all warm and cozy, looking up at the stars. The stars, the stars, the wonderful stars! Oh, how I love the stars!
       It was probably the last time we will be able to do that, because it’s not allowed back home. Boohoo! Noni and Coco were going to move from Virginia to California where we lived, so this was our last summer at Cross Junction.
       I love it here. So beautiful.
       I was watching the sun come up, this morning, a bright, yellow-orange, its color spraying down upon the water. And it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen. The big orange sun was just peaking through the clouds, shying away from the world, and then peaking out again, casting its glistening (ooh, what a nice word!) tail upon the green mirror lake. Beautiful.

Doing these little posts where I pull pieces from old diaries, I go through computer files where I've transcribed the diaries from books and notebooks. There's a large chunk of time where those books and notebooks haven't been transcribed. After 1995 nothing is transcribed until the year 2000 when I started doing all my journaling by computer. This last segment below is from the next computerized journal after the break  that mentions Coco...

Monday, January 15, 2001, 10:15 am—Oh God, I slept in. Stayed up until after 3 last night. So, Day three: 7:00-9:00, 10:30-2:00, finished up with the flesh tones on figure and mirror reflection figure for white page. 3:00-4:30, background including bear in mirror, little details. ...I write about painting for a while. I was working on my Magical Trunk children's book. A small press publisher was going to be publishing it and I was rushing to finish illustrations before we went on the road for the next circus season, I think. So, yesterday I painted for a total of 12 ½ hours. Now all I have to do on white page is the hair details and the white makeup on face. And snow to do later, I think. Sometime yesterday I was painting and happened to turn and look over my shoulder to the picture of Noni and Coco on the end table. I glance at it a lot, but yesterday I looked at him and my mind said, I'll never see him again, and without warning I was crying. Seemed like my eyes teared up even before I felt the emotion of it. Strange not to be able to see someone ever again.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Astoria: Part Two at Portland Center Stage

I had a chance to see Astoria: Part Two at the Gerding Theater at the Armory. I debated because I hadn't had a chance to see Part One, and I worried that it'd be difficult to follow, coming in at the middle and with such a large cast to track, and I'm not exactly the sharpest tack in the deck.

Alright, my husband's going to give me a hard time for saying that, so I'll clarify. I tend to get a little lost when a lot of details are coming at me fast, and the biggest thing: I have a really hard time recognizing faces. Often when we're watching movies at home, Stephen will lean in and quietly murmur during a pause in the action, "Remember that guy's the ex-husband of the older sister."

He wasn't with me Friday night when I saw the play, and of course I wasn't going to lean in to my date and periodically whisper in that packed theater (incidentally full of people who probably knew every character from last time): "Wait, who's that guy?"

So when the lights went down and the large cast of mostly men started to range across the stage, I thought, oh no.

And it was true—there were times when I thought, wait, who's that guy, but in the end, it didn't matter.

I'm here to tell you that even if you haven't seen Part One, even if you're as faceblind as I am, you can thoroughly enjoy PCS' beautifully produced, thought-provoking, action-packed, fully-contained epic Astoria: Part Two.

My early panic over face recognition quickly gave way to the realization that I didn't need to track every character because this was a much bigger story. There are individual plotlines that are fascinating to follow, of course, but for me, this is a story about big picture. About groups of people and the things that drive them apart and the things that bring them together. The instinct for survival being one of them.

The Astoria story follows the adventures of the Astor Expedition of men—and one woman—to establish trade routes to the Pacific Northwest, ultimately leading to the founding of Astoria, the first permanent United States settlement on the West Coast. The plays are adapted by Chris Coleman, based on Peter Stark's very popular book Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire, A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival. Portland Center Stage's productions are their world premier.

It's a harrowing tale. Driving home afterward I was mesmerized by the streaks of streetlight red and green and the streetlamp yellow along the rain-wet asphalt streets. Me in my car with the classical station on and the heater going. My god, the lives these people lived, trekking across the wilderness of early-1800s Oregon, fighting to survive, unwittingly helping to lay the groundwork for the easy life I live today.

Like many old Hollywood epics, this play included a cast of thousands. OK, I guess that's not true, but I didn't look at a program before or during the production and was surprised to find out, when I got home and started looking at PCS's website, just how many different characters had been portrayed by their robust 17 person cast. It really did feel as though there were something like 75 different cast members filling out the show.

Standouts for me included the fabulous Leif Norby and the very versatile DeLanna Studi who play not only various characters along the arduous trail—including Marie Dorion, the one woman on the 1811-12 overland expedition— but also John Jacob Aster and his wife Sarah Aster in their much more comfortable New York City home setting, creating a fantastic contrast to the brutal wilds of the American Pacific Northwest.

But it really was the ensemble that was the true standout for me. The way the cast told the story, breaking sentences up, back and forth, between them like some leapfrogging Greek Chorus underlined the fact that this was a tale of people, not persons. And my favorite thing? The music. I hadn't expected to find that Astoria is a musical of sorts, with that large cast breaking out in beautiful harmonies, in songs that felt completely authentic to the time. The music again reminded me that this story was a far larger tale than just the individual threads of the particular characters, but it also seemed to make the statement that no matter how difficult and, at times, cruel the world—and the world of men—can be, there is beauty in that world and in what man can make of it.

Astoria: Part Two is playing now through February 18th on the Main Stage at the Armory. More information—including a video you can watch to refresh your memory of Part One (which I did not watch, actually, before I saw Part Two [for more information on why I failed to do this, see the last line of paragraph one of this post])—is here.

Thank you to Patrick Weishampel/ for the photos.