Joe Coulombe, an Obit and a Tribute to His Founding Trader Joe’s

Raised in San Diego, Joe Coulombe, owner of a masters and bachelors from Stanford, had a vision for a store that was a unique experience for shoppers. It shelved the exotic, the unique and the appetizing, but, at lower prices than the usual 1967 gourmet store. It was a formula that made him quite successful. His genius was lost to us after a long illness on Friday.

My spouse, Kristine, and I have had a rule not long after moving to Southern California in 1977: When you move ALWAYS reside close to a Trader Joe’s. We haven’t broken the rule in 40 years

Why was that so important? Primarily because, it is our adult Disneyland. It is a “happy place.” If you haven’t, add a little Trader Joe’s to your life.

Maria Sharapova Calls it Quits

Never a quitter, but, time and injury caught up with her. Yes, Maria retired. She was a shadow of her former self.

Ever since the shoulder problems and service modifications she simply lost one of the key elements of her game. Reduce Federer’s serve and he is not the same player. The loss of the serve’s effectiveness cost Maria dearly.

She is a brilliant businesswoman whose successful non-tennis future seems assured. She leaves the game with new worlds to conquer.

Thanks for the memories. At the top of your game you were brilliant.

Nam, a Lot of Heat in My 20’s

It was the mid-1960s. I was a college student at Emory University considering law instead of medicine. Completely out of my control the draft and the Vietnam War were heating up.

A lot of now famous men were caught in my dilemma about the future. The thought of being skinned alive or spending a few years in the Hanoi Hilton was a non-alternative for me. Trump ( bone spur), Sanders( age) and Bloomberg ( flat feet) all found ways to avoid those treacherous trenches of torture. Medical school and my internship ended soon thereafter with the end of the doctor draft. The late John Mc Caine took the opposite tact.

For the famous and little known men of the 60s that war put an irreversible stamp on our lives. My sole trip to the Vietnam Memorial reinforced my appreciation for the men who saw it through to their dying day. This memoir is a tribute to their courage in that horrendous conflict.

The Royals?

The complex plans of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan and Harry, have further mystified me as to: Why the Royals?

An elected Prime Minister is the key executive and yet they have a queen. The queen and her family follow somewhat rigid royal protocol. They are paid a large annual sum by the populace. What for?

With nearly three quarters of a century on what Pearl Buck called “The Good Earth” I am at a loss. I understand reading good history and even walking the old cobblestone streets. It’s fun. But, overpaid nobles to which people bow? That seems a relic.

Maybe if I reach 100 I will have an inkling of what this is about. But why Brexit to eliminate powerful Common Market bureaucrats would pass and the Royals continue unabated is a mystery within a mystery.

The Joy of an Overcast Day

As an adolescent growing up in subtropical Miami, bright sunshine on a weekend and glass-smooth water on which to ski were the top of my pyramid. In my 30th year I played doubles tennis on a host of courts with my buddies in Augusta, a town far more notable for golf. That beautiful sun shown down on the four of us almost every day.

At 75, my perspective has changed. Overcast skies bring out the color in the lush greenery of coastal SoCal. Those same skies are calming rather than glaring. I have heard that cinematographers sometimes wait for hours to get those wonderful gray skies.

At its root, whatever one’s age it is all a blessing. In my eighth decade there is just some variation in how I am blessed. Today I awoke refreshed and calmed by that soothing, overcast sky.

Thank you God for it all, especially the so called “little things.”

Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott, a Review

Anne Lamott was born, raised and lives in northern California. That she is an inductee in the California Hall of Fame, as a writer, is an understatement about the extraordinary skill with which she pens her work. Ms. Lamott speaks directly to our hearts.

She did so in this masterful book that perhaps enhanced my own life’s journey to forgive my father. There is even an outside chance it has made me easier to live with, no small task.

 The core of her book is her journey to become more loving, forgiving and merciful. That is, specifically, more merciful to herself and others.

Her personal journey has involved a battle with alcoholism. Its ups and downs are embedded here. To the believer it was our Lord’s speaking through others that guided her in her successful journey as a recovering alcoholic. To any reader, whatever their demons, it is an unforgettable journey. It has some of the essence of how she has managed to cope in her six decades on this beautiful and difficult planet.

The book for me is a valued addition to our library. It’s one you might consider reading during your own precious time.

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance For Me, available on Amazon

Paper Books?

And so I observe the weight, the dust, and the lost trees in the old school version of books stacked in shelves across the studio in which I find myself. Does it make any sense to use the smartphone to leave us reachable for vendors while awake and hackers while asleep? Shouldn’t we counterbalance that with some goodness? It seems to make much more sense to let these time stealers with Kindle apps kill our boredom on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, etc. No pages to turn just a flick of the finger. No books to carry just a tiny little thing that fits in our pocket with dozens and dozens of books “clouded in.”

By the way we read them earlier with a Kindle download. We can access them easily at the tip of our fingers. When you are over 65 , and you may be already, your useful joints in your hands and fingers will appreciate the lack of trauma they might have accepted from those big, heavy, good smelling and feeling things.

You say you love the smell and feel of those things? Over 65 you will lose some of those smells anyway and electronically your fingers will be less painful, particularly your critical thumbs. Life is just too short to weaken those precious parts. Don’t you think?

The one viable argument you paper folks have was spelled out by Stephen King, “If you drop a book into the toilet, you can fish it out, dry it off and read that book. But if you drop your Kindle in the toilet, you’re pretty well done.”

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This? available on Amazon

More Kindness Towards Others per Anne Lamott

“Kindness toward others and radical kindness to ourselves buy us a shot at a warm and generous heart, which is the greatest prize of all. Do you want this, or do you want to be right? Well, can I get back to you on that?

I want to want this softening, this surrender, this happiness. Can I get a partial credit for that? The problem is, I love to be, and so often am, right. It’s mood-altering, and it covers up a multitude of sins. A sober friend of mine says, “I don’t notice that I’m hungry and angry. I just notice that I’m right.” I know justice and believing that you’re right depend on cold theological and legal arguments where frequently there is no oxygen, but honestly I don’t mind this. I learned to live in thin air as a small child.

Thank God I am in charge of next to nothing. Mostly I take care of the garden and pets these days.

The good news is that God has such low standards, and reaches out to those of us who are often not lovable and offers us a chance to come back in from the storm of drama and toxic thoughts.”

Lamott, Anne. Hallelujah Anyway (pp. 12-13). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


“Unfortunately, in our culture vulnerable relationships don’t happen as often as they should. People feel they have to have it together, be totally positive, and not show weaknesses. They are surrounded by warm bodies, but there is no deep connection. The one word that best describes the situation is 𝒆𝒎𝒑𝒕𝒚. On the other hand, a few vulnerable relationships will always create a sense of connectedness.”

Dr. John Townsend