I seem to be hanging around with real old guys this year.
Then there has been the whole Covell Gardens (which is officially "Atria Covell Gardens," so I may call it "Atria" instead of "Covell," since others seem to do so).
Today I was paying belated birthday greetings to Bill Baker, who turned 99 last week.
This is the third year I have driven to the Bay Area to celebrate Bill's birthday, belatedly. I missed the big party, but was there to visit with him and his friend, and fellow blogger (Yes, Bill is a blogger, perhaps the Internet's oldest), Wilma Scott (also a blogger, which is how we know each other), who flies to California from Canada each year for the event.
Bill reports that he had a great time at his birthday party, which was, he says, mostly family (and Wilma...who I think is adopted family by now). The Pirate Festival in Vallejo the next day was also fun
(This photo is from 2012). Bill, you see, is known by his pirate name, Billy Bones, when he attends the annual Pirate festival. And apparently pirat-ing is a family affair.
But I didn't see Billy Bones today, I saw Bill Baker and had a lovely lunch with him and Wilma (who flies home tomorrow). Wilma made a delicious Chinese-ish lunch and fantastic chocolate brownies (who ever thought of using candy bars instead of frosting on a hot cookie?)
Bill told me about his latest invention. a solar stove which can be folded up into a package about 7" in size and which will cook anything a stove top will cook. In addition to being a pirate and a nonagenarian, he is also a retired physicist who is always thinking of new inventions to make life better. Last year he showed me the container he had spent the year inventing which lets cake batter cook the same way it would in an oven...and tasted more moist than an oven-baked cake.
Being 99, Bill doesn't have the staying power that he once did (though his mind is crystal clear!), and so after telling me about the pirate festival and his invention, he excused himself and went in to lie down on the couch and take a nap, while Wilma and I had a lovely conversation, and I learned more about her fascinating background. For one thing, I knew she was the publisher of Coffee News, but I didn't know that this newsletter is a weekly advertising publication that features good news and other fun, positive items. Created by Jean Daum, it began in 1988 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and is available across the United States and worldwide (when Wilma bought the franchise there were only a handful of other franchises in Canada and none worldwide). Its slogan is "News To Enjoy Over Coffee" and, as such, is delivered to restaurants, coffee shops, bars, pubs, and other small businesses.
I also learned how she happened to become a lay minister for her Presbyterian church.
It was a lovely low-key afternoon and after spending every day at Atria for most of the last month, it was nice to have a chat with someone who can remember what I say five minutes after I've said it!