Monthly Archives: November 2017

another blog

Ashley posted a link on FaceBook for a college friend of hers. She had a blog starting in 2010. It has the listing of post dates right at the top of the front page so I could see that. I could also see that there were no entries from April 2014 to July of 2017. Part of the reason is that Ashley’s friend developed a tumor on her brain stem. I’ve spent much of this morning looking through her blog and I see that her condition has gone from bad to worse. Her husband has been writing the posts for the last few months because chemo has completely sapped her strength.

It’s all an object lesson for us to treasure the good things we have when we have them.

Best of luck, Jordan and Brack. I’m not a praying person but I am putting positive energy into the cosmos for you.

Here’s the link.

Giving Tuesday

So after two weeks – or more – of ‘Black Friday’ sales, ‘Small Business Saturday’, and ‘Cyber Monday’, now we have ‘Giving Tuesday’. What was Sunday? I suppose ‘NFL Sunday’ is unnecessarily redundant in the fall. Maybe there was something else I forgot. ‘Support the Troops Sunday’? As if an enormous percentage of my taxes doesn’t already go to ‘Troops’. The football coaches are all wearing camo and other military-themed stuff. Sheesh!

Where does this stuff get started? ‘Throwback Thursday’ is a thing on FaceBook. Now there is a thing where you’re supposed to post seven days of black and white pictures. Who makes black and white pictures any more? I don’t look at them on principle.

Today FaceBook is choked with appeals from – mostly worthy, IMO – organizations for donations because it’s ‘Giving Tuesday’. Is it a guilt trip for people who spent a lot of money on stupid consumer goods all weekend? I just don’t know.

I know I didn’t spend any money on consumer goods this weekend (unless you count groceries) so I kind of resent the guilt trip. I give when I can to organizations that, in general, don’t send me appeals all the time. I’ve been writing checks and sending them in the mail more because I noticed that there are now intermediary organizations on the Internet that facilitate donations in return for a fee. Then they hold your money for ’60 to 75 days’ (Network for Good). No thanks. I’ll write a check.

where is god?

I was half – ok, about 10% – watching football today while at work. Running a straight symphony show is pretty straightforward. Pay attention to a few critical things and everything is usually ok. That said, even if I had the time I can’t watch football seriously anymore. Hell, I can’t even watch baseball seriously anymore and I like baseball.

Anyway, I happened to see the kicker right after he kicked a field goal (or something). The looked up and pointed his finger to the sky. Now I am reading into this but I think I’m on solid ground. I’ve seen this type of thing many times in the last few years, in all sports, and even seen it explained. He’s thanking god for his successful performance.

So I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if the successful sports person recognized that god is everywhere and pointed to the ground to thank god. Or even something like, ‘Mother Earth, you rock!”

Yeah, I know, It’ll never happen.

(Why do I capitalize Mother Earth but not god? I don’t know. Just perverse I guess. Don’t tell me god will be pissed that s/he isn’t respected. Puhleeze.)

thanks

Giving thanks is all the rage this week. This post is not about that. There is a lot that I’m grateful for but what I want to say today is simply ‘Thanks!’ to you, my readers.

I used to stress over no one commenting on my posts but recently several people have commented to me in person about something or other that I wrote about. That means more than I can say.

I read what was characterized as a blog post today. I say characterized because it was the blog of the Paris Review. Pretty big time, IMO. And I don’t know why I started reading it because it was mostly about the films of Woody Allen, who I don’t really care about. But about halfway through, it morphed into a polemic about how people who create great art are ‘monstrous’. And the author, a woman, was unsparing of herself in the description. I thought it was very interesting. She said, basically, that in order to create art, the artist has to leave behind norms and be selfish. It struck a chord with me because I wonder a lot about how to partition the various parts of my life, and whether the effort of writing is worth anything.

So, for me, any indication that anyone is reading these words is valuable. Thank you, dear reader. I will go one writing. I hope you continue reading.

Here’s the link to the Paris Review blog entry.

this year

It’s not even the end of the year yet but I saw something tonight that gave me a little shock of time passing.

I have a folder in my photos folder titled 2017 miscellany. I use it for things that aren’t easily categorized. Kind of like miscellany. You know, you just can’t get this kind of insight anywhere! Seriously, I think I started on a manic phase this afternoon when I got off work. I don’t have to go back until Saturday!

Any time I go somewhere and take pictures, I save them in a folder titled with the date and where I was. 2017 August Germany is a good example. Often there are subfolders. Miscellany usually turns out to contain pictures of relatives that have been posted on Facebook. Tonight I was looking at Noah’s 3rd grade photo Ally posted. Along with it in my miscellany folder is this one:

It’s from January. It seems like ages ago but I remember well the shock I felt when I first saw it. What a cool thing! Thank you, Laurie, for your efforts to have Zach remembered in this way. May it never fade!

Just him

Tidying up files today I found this quote from Rosalie, written up by Ashley in January of this year:

A friend stopped by this afternoon to give Rosalie a memory box to keep special things that remind her of Zach. After she left, I asked R some questions thinking I would write down her answers for the box.
“What do you remember about Uncle Zach?”
“Bad news bananas!!!” (Smiles and giggles )
“What was your favorite memory, or something that you remember, about Uncle Zach?”
“Just him.”
“Your favorite part was just all of him?”
“Yeah. Just him.”

tea

I had to look it up. It was Christmas 2011. Zach had moved from Oregon to Louisiana the summer before. Sarah had started her doctorate program in Colorado. Jeremy and Ashley had moved into their own home. I was starting to get back on my feet after the economic disaster of 2008 and 2009.

I don’t remember if I helped to finance, or if I suggested it, but with all five of us in one place at the same time, I wanted to get a nice picture of all of us. Ashley’s brother Ryan had a nice camera and generously agreed to take some pictures. there are a bunch of good ones, but this is the one I picked today:

But back to tea. For a Christmas present, my children got together and gave me a teapot and some tea. I don’t know why exactly. I had not been a tea drinker. I didn’t (still don’t) drink coffee. I had become a fan of caffeine over the years when I discovered it helped with my headaches but I had never thought about getting it via liquids.

OK, I have a teapot now. When I got home, I started trying out the teas that had come with the teapot. Eventually, I developed some knowledge of what I liked. The next year for Christmas, Zach sent me a huge assortment of teas. Here’s my kitchen cabinet after they arrived:

I’ve got some nice glass containers now but otherwise the cabinet looks much the same. I keep lots of different teas and drink whatever feels right at the moment. I have some loose leaf teas but use tea bags most of the time.

I thought of all of this last night when I was at the grocery store getting milk. I always go down the tea aisle, even when I have plenty of tea. I guess I look for stuff on sale. At this point I know what stores have what teas so there aren’t many surprises.

What struck me last night was that the Stash tea was about the cheapest tea there. Stash was the brand of the assortment that Zach had sent me and I thought it was pretty good. It’s an Oregon company so I thought there was some angle for him there. They have lots of teas so I was able to try lots of different flavors.

Today was Oolong. Thinking of you, Zach.

back in the saddle

Home. My little apartment. I got back last night after a day of travel: driving from Spokane to Seattle, to the hotel where I rented the car, then walking to the Transit Center to catch a bus to the airport ($2.75, a deal!), hurrying through checking my bag and through security to the gate where the plane was 30 minutes late. Then it was an hour, then another half hour. I got to SFO at nearly 7, twelve hours after I had left Spokane.

I makes me think I should just drive all the way next time.

Today I did laundry and caught up on the myriad things that the real world demands: bringing my checkbook up to date, paying bills. One bill was for car insurance. My traffic light indiscretion last year cost me nearly $500 at the time. Today I found out that it will cost me another $300 on my insurance. Grrr . . . . As far as I can tell, there is no mechanism for removing the one point I now have by any kind of traffic school so I guess I’ll have to eat the increase for the three years! the point is on my record.

There is a thing called Mature Driver Discount that AAA will give me if I complete an online class so I started that today. I thought about shopping other insurance companies but it makes me weak.

Then there is work. I called in and the Christmas crunch is getting rolling. We’re ok through next weekend but after that I may be working 5 or 6 long days each week. That’s 60 or more hours for those of you who haven’t been paying attention. Welcome, real world!

that awful night

‘That awful night’ has been my code phrase for the night two years ago when Zach was killed. I’ve been thinking about it a lot in the last couple of months. Actually, not about the night itself, but the anniversary of it. I’ve been thinking that while I certainly won’t forget what happened on this date, I want to focus on celebrating Zach on his birthday rather than his death day.

The group I was going to in Santa Clara, Compassionate Friends, begins each monthly meeting with a reading of the names of those who died in that month. They also read the names of those who were born. I was never comfortable with that, though. I really wanted – and I still want – to focus on moving forward rather than looking back.

This blog, which began as a tribute to Zach, has become a chronicle of my activities and thoughts. Sometimes they are looking backwards, but more often they are in the moment and with a positive outlook. This, I believe, is how Zach would prefer that he be remembered. In the words of his grandfather Clark Ewing, ‘Pick up the slack for Zach.’ Do something positive, push yourself a little.

I’ve been staying since Monday in Spokane with my friends Peter and Nanci. Peter had a stroke three years ago and has limited speech ability and his right side is paralyzed. The three of us have had discussions about trauma, about change in our lives, and even some good talk about people we knew in high school. In some ways, Peter’s condition reminds me of my father’s. In both cases, their intellect is intact but the mechanism for connecting that intellect to the rest of the world doesn’t work properly. For Peter, there have been some positive signs: he can walk a little with a cane; he has been able to speak a few new words. For my father, I fear there will be no return.

For both men, those who love them have to treasure what we have and not get wrapped up in what we don’t have,

Yesterday was a good day. I helped Nanci hang some cabinets and fixed a broken door. The wind blew the hot water heater pilot out in the afternoon and I helped relight it. But we didn’t go anywhere, we just stayed near each other and talked and treasured the moments.

Museum of Flight

Or, as the sign in front say, ‘Museum of Fligh . . .’

Really, it was a nice museum. Yesterday was the day all four of us would have together and going to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle was the chosen activity. When we walked in to the main hall, we were greeted by the sight of dozens of aircraft, some on the floor and some hanging from the ceiling. An SR-71 Blackbird dominated the whole scene.

I thought it looked great, but at that moment realized we were there with a 4 year old. OK, almost 5 but still very young. But at that moment, we saw right in front of us a nice young man inviting us to the kid’s project table. They were going to demonstrate how to build a catapult in just a couple of minutes. Rosalie listened attentively to the presentation using a tablet and stood patiently in line to get her materials but was less interested in the details of actually building it. It was actually a simple little trebuchet built with popsicle sticks and rubber bands. Given the task of decorating the sticks, however, Rosalie came to life.

After it was built, she stood in line for some puff balls to launch and chose two small purple ones. Once explained the technique of launching, she took over and entertained us by launching her purple puff balls for us to try to catch.We walked around the hall. She sat in the SR-71 cockpit with Ashley:She found the kids play area and tested the wind tunnel machine:

Checked out the view from inside a light plane cockpit:

Tried the hurricane simulator with Mom:

Then we had lunch. After lunch was the Hall of Heroes, which is a review of the two World Wars with an emphasis on American planes and flyers. Then we walked across the skybridge to the pavilion which contained, among other things, an Air Force One, Boeing 727, 737, 747, 787, a Concorde, a B-29, a B-17, a B-47 and some others I don’t remember. In other words, lots of planes. We were able to go through most of the commercial airliners and AF One.

About 15 minutes into the ride home, this was the scene in the back seat.

Back at home she perked up. Momma made some chocolate chip cookies for an early birthday party with Gramps. I had found a nice jigsaw puzzle at the Museum store for her so we set to work on that after singing happy birthday.

Hmmm, can’t find the picture. Maybe tomorrow. I got up this morning and drove across the state to Spokane. I am now safely ensconced in a bedroom at Peter and Nanci’s. We took a nice drive this afternoon out Palouse HIghway. The fields, some of which were newly planted with winter wheat, were lit up nicely by the setting sun. About half the sky was clear, while the other half was turning all kinds of colors.