Dell tries on a new hip

It’s not easy to come to terms with your physical and emotional health when you try and put on your shorts in the morning after getting out of bed and you find yourself shoving your left foot through the opening of your right pant leg — so that you have two legs in the same hole — and start to list to the side and collapse on your bed because your right hip has given out and your dog winces and cowers as you scream out in agony and grit your teeth in frustration. Read More …

100 degrees in the shade

I’m sitting on a bench in the shade at the San Luis Obispo airport as the blast furnace of Santa Ana winds tries to set an October record of 105 degrees at noon. A few passengers moving in and out pause to observe my cab as it continues to run in gasps and wheezes, and move on; then glance at me in my brown polyester slacks and yellow polyester shirt soaked through with sweat so that I resemble some soggy creature that slithered out of a swamp. Read More …

SLO County’s Merle Davis and the hanging judge

Early on as a cabby in San Luis Obispo, I was warned about Merle Davis, who drank in McCarthy’s, the oldest bar in town, along with a crew of weathered ranch and farm hands and railroad men and scabrous retirees. Merle was a local legend—decorated war hero as a teenager, owned a ranch out in the California Valley, rodeo guy, champion hunter, notorious roughneck and redneck who went on three-week benders sandwiched between two-month periods of working hard and drying out on his ranch. Read More …