Peregrine flight

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Light and darkness © Robert Sommers 2015
I have been trying to get a bunch of things done before the end of the year.

I have plans to photograph some magical birds at a far off sanctuary but weather so far hasn't been too helpful or permitting.

 I still think it will happen, insh'allah.

Have been hunting down a new plant for my garden that is rather scarce at the moment in the exact form that I want it, a bluish yucca rostrata. They look like this when they get big. Sort of a cousin it thing.

courtesy: Brian's Botanicals

I can't tell you how much joy I am getting out of my new cycad, palm and succulent garden.

I am very cold where I live (chipped ice off the window this morning), so I can't do a lot of the tropical or more exotic stuff but what I can do still has its own naive charm and will look pretty awesome in about three more years.

Wish the jubea would hurry up, they stay small and get fat and then one day they just spring.

The accent mark said, "See, you have a reason to live" at lunch yesterday. I guess I was pretty down but she is right, the little garden does make me happy. As do a bunch of other things.

Like most couples, after 26 years there are days when we don't see eye to eye and we unfortunately bicker. Yesterday evening was the occasion for just such an occurrence.

Nothing serious but frosty. I always have felt that if a couple never argues, one of the parties is repressing something and eventually Mr. or Mrs. Subordinate will turn into a monster and pull the kitchen shears out of the bed stand.

In any case we go at it more than most, both being fairly controlling people who each knows best. Rarely do we go to bed mad or carry things over, things get worked out or laughed off pretty quick.

Anyhow I called Leslie after my colonoscopy pre-op this morning and I heard a bang as she answered and she said to hold on, that she had dropped her broom. And without skipping a beat I told her to call me when she had flown to her next stop and she said that I was going to die.

I have been reading some heroic stuff of late. I read Heaney's translation of Beowolf this weekend and Tolkein's Lays of Sigurd and Gudrun. You see where a lot of middle earth stuff comes from, especially the philology of the Rohirrim. And where Wagner found his nibelung. Probably will reread Homer next. I loved Gilgamesh, so much human stuff there that is still profound, down to earth and insightful after 2500 some odd years of human de-evolution.

It amazed me that I am still finding brilliant writers like Bester and Kuttner that I had somehow missed. Didn't even know that Zelazny, my literary father and hero, finished the Bester book Psychoshop. I read it recently and it was like chancing upon a hidden 1925 Chateau Lafitte Rothschild, perfectly cured and decanted after a gulf of time, waiting for my personal discovery after a near century.


The GI doctor's office is right over my urologist's. I went to his door to say hi and there was an unfamiliar sign on the door, he had evidently moved out. I asked about it when I met the nurse practitioner upstairs and was informed that John had died some time past.

John Greisman M.D. was a doctor from Toronto that I loved more than any doctor I have ever met. An incredibly brilliant and devoted physician, intensely private, he only truly felt happy and in his element, in his scrubs, in surgery.

Dry, witty, a kvetcher nonpareil, we developed the closest affinity and bond I have ever had with a doctor. He was like family to me, the acerbic uncle I never had. Bitched a lot about how they were ruining medicine, how he was going to quit.

I first met John when I was about 19 when he operated on a major medical problem for me. Seven years later he was my cancer doctor, removed most of my kidney, performed many operations on my bladder and ureter, lived with me through imminent demise and continual dread.

I fired him once, rehired him when the cancer knocked again on my door so many years later. My body is a visceral roadmap of John's handiwork, forty years worth, who knows if I would be alive today if not for him?

I am shocked. I really loved the guy. As did my brother and late father. John would go to Toronto and come back telling me all kinds of stories about the wonders of my brother Buzz's pastries at his Toronto Restaurant, the much loved and sorely missed late David's Bistro. Great guy, devoted son, always liked my wives, he wished that he could meet the perfect woman. Horrible taste in art, the guy loved Patrick Nagel. Never developed the decorative side, mainly he was happy when he was working.

Fuck, I can't believe, another one gone. You wake up one day and your friends are old and you are older too and they start dropping off. Petey Stephens gone too, never got to say goodbye to either of them. You don't cultivate relationships, just like gardens, you get a weedy bunch of nothing. And then, Bam, they're gone. I have friends in my nineties, how the hell did we get so old? Pretty sharp still, I must say...

Did I ever get to tell John how important he was to me? God knows I tried, did he ever get it? He never wanted to. That is what he did, he fixed people. I still don't know the story but did find out that he wanted to keep his illness private to the very end. I heard that it was cancer.

I told him that I was tired of taking tumors out of my body, I couldn't go through this stuff anymore. We did an experimental surgery with a new device and it didn't go so well. I told him that I needed to stop my malady on the cellular level and I will never forget what he said. He looked me in the eye and said that you come to my office with an arrow going through your head, I remove the arrow, I don't ask how it got there. I said that's not enough.

And we parted ways. Which pissed him off. But we didn't let it interfere with our friendship and he ended up taking the rest of the kidney out and things moved forward without a hitch on every level.

John, there are so many of us that will miss you so much. You were an exceptional man and doctor, truly one of a kind. Such a wonderful, surly mensch.

We had a hawk hanging around on a new telephone pole in the neighborhood, they are starting to look for new spots to nest, Hanging out on my windmill and the redwood too. Will be interesting to see where they finally perch for the next seasonal hatch.


Unknown said...

My parents were good friends with Dr. Greisman, and I'd met him on several occasions. My grandfather was misdiagnosed with a gall bladder ailment by another physician, who removed G-Pops gall bladder. He continued to not feel well. A couple of months later, Dr. Greisman diagnosed a tumor in his bladder. We were in the waiting room at Scripps La Jolla when Greisman walked in with tears running down his face, they had lost G-Pops on the operating table (heart attack). My mom always felt that if we had gone to Greisman first my grandfather would have made it and recovered. RIP Dr. John.

Ken Seals said...

Great tribute to Dr. John. Moving...

The photos are really nice, as usual.