Monthly Archives: November 2016


The first anniversary of Zach’s death is coming up. I’ve spoken before about how the 14th of each month was an important day of remembrance in the early times. Now the true anniversary is upon us. At one time I was planning a complete review of the events of that evening. Now I don’t think that’s going to happen. It won’t happen in the next week anyway. I do still intend to do that but it will come out in its own time.

My therapist commented that there are many examples of humans treating the first year after a death as particularly important. My feelings today are not any different than what I posted a couple of days ago so I won’t belabor the point.

Before last November 14th, life had a certain kind of meaning that seemed self evident. Those ideas were shattered and this blog is a testament to the difficulty of picking up the pieces, to reconstruct meaning.

My therapist early on suggested that I read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning but after a few more sessions said I should wait. That was in the summer when I was depressed. I will ask her about it today but I know that meaning must come from within not without so I will continue to look – and think – on my own.

the morning after

This blog is never going to be a political blog, but politics affects us in all parts of our lives, whether we like it or not. Time will tell if last night’s results are historic or a blip. I feel that it is neither. Conservatives have been trying desperately for decades to reverse trends that may be irreversible but they have been spectacularly successful. Liberals, or progressives as I like to characterize myself, have tended to feel that their goals are so good that they are self evident and have so far not gone to the mat to defend or promote them.

I spent a few minutes this morning going through Facebook and reading the wails of despair. For the most part I agree with them but I believe we all have to recognize that there are lots of people who don’t see the world as we do. With social media such as Facebook, it is easy to select sources of information that reflect our biases. After a while, we come to believe that reality.

I will post a link to this post on Facebook because it is the best way to publicize my blog and I want more people to think on the human issues I speak to. I call on everyone to make the effort to broaden their horizons and reach out to people – enemies even! – and make common cause with their humanity.

The Tear

Does one call it a ‘sculpture’? Or a ‘display’? Or a memorial?

Whatever you call it, I found it very moving and wrote about it last week here. I promised I would take a better picture so here it is:


After the concert day Saturday there were a lot more names on it.

I don’t know what the little flag things are called but they are beautiful. I filched some small ones yesterday and put them in my own little memorial:



. . . or maybe ‘bewilderment’. It’s the feeling I’ve gotten the last couple of months whenever I think of Zach. I don’t have the debilitating sadness of the early months of the year nor do I have the overwhelming fatigue I developed in the summer. Now I’m just confused. Where is Zach? Intellectually I know I will never see him again, or hear his voice but emotionally I’m confused, puzzled, bewildered.

My remaining children, Jeremy, Sarah, Ashley, have been a great comfort to me. Their loss is as great or greater than mine yet they carry on. Sarah and I got to share a (semi) private moment of grief for Zach the other night at the conclusion of the SF Symphony’s Dia de los Muertos concert. Jeremy and Ashley have the future in their care and I will be joining them for a visit next week. I am looking forward to many good hugs and a triple dose of Rosalie.

Catherine Frances Wood

I believe in my posts about my Denver trip I mentioned going to the graveyard (cemetery) in Lawson. Lawson is about a half hour west of Denver on I-70. The neighboring town of Georgetown is better known.

But Lawson is what I have programmed into my head. Lawson is what I remember from stops there as a boy. Here is a picture from my visit there in 1982:


That stuff is all gone now. I didn’t take any pictures of the town this last time because there’s basically nothing of interest there.

Why am I thinking of Lawson again? Because of a photograph I saw at Mom and Dad’s the other day. It’s an image of Catherine Frances Wood, who was my grandfather’s older sister and is buried in the Lawson cemetery with her father. The image has always reached out and grabbed me with her calm appraising stare at the photographer.

The tombstone reads,
‘Katie F. Wood 
Died Jan. 15, 1890 
Aged 8 Years 3 Ms. 5 Ds. 
Rest in Peace.’

And down at the bottom of the stone, ‘Gone but not forgotten.’


Dia de los Muertos

Every year the Symphony does an art exhibit in the lobbies to commemorate the Mexican Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos. I’ve been peripherally involved in past years. This year I happened to be on the crew that helped the artists bring their works into the building. Without exception, they were lovely people, very respectful of the building. We in our turn did our best to help them realize their artistic vision in our house.

All the exhibits are thought-provoking but one in particular has held my attention. It’s called ‘The Tear’ by Indira Urrutia. I took an artsy picture of it one day. The idea was that you could see the piece in the mirror. You can, but only if you know what to look for. I guess I’ll have to take a better picture.

I’ll quote from the placard since it’s hard to read here: ‘A Tear has been hand woven on wire with crochet wire baskets techniques originating in Mexico. A tear is our first reaction when we lose a loved one. No matter where we are from or what our rituals are in connection with death, a tear is one common thing we all express.

‘This work was created to honor those that have gone ahead of us.’


After weeks of looking at this nearly every day, and seeing many additions to it, I finally gathered my courage tonight and placed my tribute to Zach on the tear. It says simply ‘My Z.’


I mentioned Tom Kent in these pages not too long ago. Tom is very gregarious and when he moved back to Northern California from New Mexico, it wasn’t long before he had found people to play music with. For the most part I have been content to tag along and sit in with Tom’s band when I could. Starting around the same time, Tom & I got together with our old band mates from the ’70s about once a year.

Even though I had played guitar in that band, I had played more bass in the intervening years so I was usually the bass player.

The bass player in Tom’s band was a crusty guy just a little older than me named Franco. I say crusty – he was friendly enough but perhaps a little suspicious in those early days of Tom’s old friend showing up at jobs. He was in his element at bars and seemed to know everybody. I remember one time early in our relationship when I had come down to the Valencia Club in Penryn to hear and perhaps sit in with the band, Franco was slow getting back to the bandstand after their first set. After they called several times and he didn’t appear, I plugged in my bass and started playing with the rest of the band. That got him back out there right away. He was nice but firm: ‘I’m the bass player.’

As the years went by I hung out with the band a few times a year, less often at jobs than at rehearsals at Vince’s house in Loomis. There we could relax when not playing and chat without the distraction of bar patrons and we became friends. I had made it clear that I wasn’t trying to get into the band permanently on either instrument. The band, especially in the early 2000s, was pretty busy, playing 3 or 4 times a month around the Gold Country. I was still getting my feet back under me musically.

Franco was not a flashy player, but he had been playing professionally for a long time, mostly in country bands. He knew what sounded right and how to do it. I always enjoyed watching him work with Tom and the band on parts of songs. He was not the leader – Tom was – but when something wasn’t right, he demanded that it get fixed, and stuck with it until it was.

As time went by, Franco let me sit in on bass every once in while. Usually I was the third guitar player. By then I knew most of the songs the band played so there wasn’t a huge let down in quality.

It was about this time 5 years ago that I sat in for Franco for the last time. Of course I didn’t know it then. The band was playing at a pizza restaurant in Cool. Just before the second set he said he wasn’t feeling so good and would I mind playing. No! I had gone outside during the first set and I remember marveling at the strong and clear bass sound that carried well out past the parking lot.

I don’t remember how the evening ended; whether I played bass for the whole rest of the evening or Franco came back. There was no indication that anything serious was wrong but it was only a little over a month later when Tom called me with the news that Franco had died.

I was honored to play through his rig with the band at the memorial. Later I bought it from his nephew and treasure it still. Franco wasn’t married and had no children so the nephew was the closest relative he had. The band has had a few bass players since but none to match Franco.

Rest in Peace, Franco Giovannoni. The heavenly band is better for your presence!


This morning I was excited to see I needed to approve a comment. (This happens when someone new makes a comment. Once your source email has been approved, you can continue to make comments without my approval. Well, I’m the admin so I can remove comments any time, but I will not do that to real people making real comments on the posts.)

Sadly, it was not really a comment but a spam post. It said, in part, ‘I see your blog needs some fresh & unique articles. Writing manually is time consuming, but there is tool for this task . . .’ hit this link.

Uh, no thanks. I don’t post as often as I’d like, but I don’t want any automated tools to wrote for me.

That said, I’ve got to go now. I’ll try to post something real later today.