Devil’s Slide

March 15th, 2017

We lived high on a hill overlooking a long beach, a bay and a fertile valley where Portuguese farmers grew artichokes. Just beyond was a mountain where sheep grazed on wild grasses. Our house faced north and the mountain behind us stretched to the west, ending in the ocean where sharp rocks are known as Pedro Point.

South Side of Pedro MT

Along the beach was a two-lane highway that cut through the hills, connecting the little coast towns to San Francisco twenty miles away. The road to the south had been cut through the mountain to reach Montara and Half Moon Bay; this narrow road passed Devil’s Slide, a high rocky cliff that dropped straight down to the open ocean.

One Sunday afternoon after a few drinks, my Dad decided it was time to teach me to drive. He told my little brothers Joe and Pete and my sister Mary to climb in the car. He opened the door on the driver’s side and told me to sit behind the wheel. In those days, there was no need for a learner’s permit. I climbed in and sat down. I remembered a few things Dad had shown me the week before; so, I did some practice exercises, going through the five gears from neutral and low to high. The car was near the road and with a few directions I was able to back up and shift into low for the short distance to the corner where I stopped. Dad said, “Go ahead. Keep it in low. You’ll be all right.” I gripped the wheel and headed slowly down the long steep road. I wanted to close my eyes but knew I had to keep them open as the road was narrow with gullies on either side.  When we reached the bottom, I stepped hard on the brake and let out a loud sigh. The kids began to laugh; they didn’t realize how close they were to disaster.

When we reached the main road, Dad said, “Turn right,” and I wanted to argue because that was the way to Devil’s Slide. He said it again, so I turned the car onto the highway. Suddenly cars were honking as they passed me. The kids started to yell. I kept my eyes glued to the white line on the road and tried to be calm as I knew there was no place to stop and say, “I don’t want to drive.”  Finally, I reached a safe place to park. Dad had fallen asleep.

I wondered how to find the courage to get back on the road and go home. I realized that the lane going north was next to the mountain and the car wouldn’t be near the deep cliff by the ocean. If I stayed in low gear and tried not to listen to the honking cars and screaming kids; if I tried to put Devil’s Slide out of my mind; I might be all right.  I was so disturbed that after all these years I don’t remember what happened next.  I don’t know how we got home. Probably when Dad realized the situation and sobered up enough, he drove us home. I don’t know, but somehow, we did get home.

March 6, 2017








High in a tree that once was a hedge

May 31st, 2016

Here is a picture of Chris cutting the hedge that had turned into a tree.Hedge:FB

Cherry Trees

May 25th, 2016

Remember the “Cherry Rains”
that came in May just when
trees were in full bloom?
This was the Valley of Hearts Delight.

Cherry Trees

One year I cried as I stood in a field
where blossoming trees had been cut.
It seemed like a battlefield.
These were the first to fall

to IBM; then other businesses
took orchards. The hills went
for gravel to build highways
mountain to mountain.

Larry and Sergey came out of their garage
and Silicon Valley was born.
There are few cherry trees now
to bloom when the May rains come.



October 16th, 2015

Corruption crept into my brain.
How that began I do not know.
Surgery was performed.
The Surgeon called for a stronger saw
“This woman has a very hard head.”
She then lifted out the tumor.

At midnight I was welcomed
to the Acute Rehabilitation Unit
by a kind nurse named Tenzen.
I asked her if this was Tibet.
Then I dreamed that people
far away were praying for me.

In the morning a young policeman
came into the ward
and asked for my password.
I replied, “Patricia Grube 8,1, 23”.
He gave me a bag
with my sandals inside.

Then he said he wanted me to know
about his grandfather. “In Holland
during the war, he helped people
to escape. Then he was killed”
He said that he wanted to help people
because he knew about his grandfather.

Perhaps he told me this because I am old
and I know about the war.
In the rehabilitation ward
the helpers had special skills
to teach me to walk again
and to remember my lost words.

This picture was taken one month later (August 8, 2015).
Family: cropped

five Generations

April 10th, 2015

5 generationsI wanted to show the pictures of the women when they were all about the same age.

New Book

April 9th, 2014




“Chickens in Africa” is the title
of the short stories our family
is writing about the two years
we spent in Ndola, Zambia (early 70’s).
Here is a letter our youngest son wrote
to his cousin back in San Jose.


When is too late?

January 12th, 2014

I wonder if
as I walk  along the cliff
and think that it may be too late
to try to use the time that is my own.
Perhaps I underestimate
what was given to me
as my dowry
for free.

The time
has quickly gone
it is no longer dawn.
Each year has been a maze to walk
to stumble, to survive, to persevere
to laugh, to love, to watch the clock.
The time moves on too fast.
What has been passed
is past.

When is
it too late to plan;
put bacon in the pan;
to play another game of bridge;
to bid and make a slam or take a chance.
Is there time to find some courage
to thrill because one lives
one who forgives
and gives.

Patricia Hernan Grube

©January1, 2014

Short Stories

October 24th, 2013

I have finally finished 12 short stories that I hope to publish in the spring. They are all about the two years in Zambia. It is mostly my viewpoint right now but a new inspiration is to have the now grown kids look back and write something they each remember about the experience. They were all very interested to be a part of the book. The next step is to choose pictures from the many color slides and the black and white prints.

A World View

July 18th, 2013


I am writing some stories about our almost two years in Zambia, Africa (1970  –1972). Lester had a contract to be the Poultry Officer on the Copperbelt Province. The goal was to increase available protein. What I am thinking of now is what this experience was for our children, Patrick, David, Alice, Donald and Chris and how this adventure expanded their world view. Many opinions, decisions and our direction in life are affected by our view of the world, it’s size, it’s customs, it’s needs, it’s resources, it’s governments and most of all, getting to know people not just reading about them.

When we left home the children were looking forward to an adventure but that was weighed against their unhappiness at leaving their friends. I believed then and now that it was a plus. They also gained some knowledge of other countries. We spent a month traveling and on our way we stopped in Ireland, England, France, Greece and Israel.

When we landed in Lusaka we were told that our accommodations would not be ready for a while, so we stayed in the Victoria Hotel; although we didn’t know from day to day, it turned out to be almost another month. The kids had become somewhat used to “bed and breakfasts” and small hotels but it was a challenge to keep them amused? There were of course card games, checkers and chess. Believe it or not there was none of the electronic diversions we have today.

One day someone told us that there was a river, not far away, where we could see hippo’s. Looking at the old pictures brings back all the excitement of seeing our first really wild animals not in a zoo. It took a few days to buy a car; what with the money exchanges between banks, authenticating our resident status and I can’t remember what else. We were surprised to find there was not the same freedom we have here; on our drives there were many checkpoints where we were stopped and had to show identification papers. One day we explored a road to the soapstone mines and were surprised to see monkeys in the trees just outside the car windows. A great find was soapstone that had fallen off the trucks. We picked up pieces and the kids spent many creative hours in the hotel carving little statues. In the evenings as the sun went down we watched out the window to see little boys collecting flying ants from the bushes and were surprised to learn they would fry them to eat.

Existing in a hotel was a different way of living: a knock at the door in the early morning when they brought us morning tea. We were all dressed in proper clothes when we went to the dinning room for breakfast. We also had lunch there or could ask for boxed sandwiches to take on our excursions. There was a rather loud bell that announced dinner and as I recall we had a limited time to appear. The waiter always called Chris, “Little Bwana.”  A woman from India told the boys that the geckoes that came in the rooms were good because they would eat up the creepy crawling bugs and mosquitoes. The point of this is to say that living was different. When we finally settled in Ndola, we lived almost as we always did. Even then there were changes.

When I talk about expanding their world view, I don’t mean just because of the places they visited but also the experience of living where everything in day to day life was different and also that they met people, who not only looked different, they had different goals in life, some who had a lot, some who did not.

NOTE: Writing stories based on events that happened more than 40 years ago, I rely on more than a faulty memory. There are some letters I wrote at the time, there are some things I wrote in the early 70’s in a class at UCSC  and there is my play, “Nshima” which was produced in the late 80’s at Santa Cruz County Actors’ Theatre. My current goal is to publish a book of these stories.





June 4th, 2013

A few years ago I was listening to the story of Rip Van Winkle. The time was the last half of the 18th century in which changes were enormous as it was before and after the Revolutionary War. Thinking of this made me more cognizant of the changes in the world in my life. Although I have not been asleep, I can see that things have changed in front of me and things are changing all around me.

My children’s world is not my world, their children’s world will be different from their own.

A different world in every way, not just technology, not just society, not just morality, not even the meaning of life and on and on infinitum. Here I go with what can be interpreted as preaching or lecturing but that is not what I mean this to be. It’s just that I want to share my insights gained from observations through the years.

A sense of one’s own worth is discovered not only from going inside but also from examining the world around us.

Sometimes we let ourselves be defined by the roles we are given or by our relationship with the universe. Although we can escape these stereotypes they actually are part of who we are and they change, sometimes slowly through the ages; sometimes so quickly we can’t keep up. From the time of the invention of the wheel and even before with the use of tools, these things have become extensions of ourselves.

Escape is more than looking outside a box that holds us inside.  It means redefinition and commitment and much soul searching. Going back to Rip Van Winkle, he was the same person when he woke up as when he went to sleep, but the world had changed. Did he realize that he had to change as well?