Category Archives: Family

at Mom and Dad’s

I came down here yesterday because Mom had an issue with vertigo and was going to the doctor. I had the day off and didn’t want her to drive if it could be avoided.

The doctor said basically that there was nothing to be done about the vertigo except rest. Mom had taken some expired medicine she had for sea sickness and thought it had helped but the doc said no, don’t do that.

Anyway, she’s better now. She has an appointment with her dentist this morning to put a permanent crown on so I decided to stay and drive her there as well. Her original plan was to drive up to Jane’s tonight for a Pampered Chef party which worried me. Last night, though, she decided she was not going to go so I feel better.

The weather was warm yesterday, in the 80s, and it reminded me of the air conditioning battle I had waged and lost six months ago. It’s a little after 7 now and I’ve been up for about an hour. It’s beautiful outside but it promises to be warm again today. Mom and Dad close their house up tight every night religiously so this morning the first thing I did was go around and open up some windows and doors. (I had the window wide open in my bedroom.) The temperature in the house has gone from 73 down to 71 in that time. All the fans that were running last night were shut off during the night.

When I lived in Grass Valley, we would set the fans in the wide open windows running full blast at night. The house would be almost too cool in the mornings but we would button everything up by 8 or so including keeping the drapes closed and the house would stay at a reasonable temperature most of the day. I know Mom and Dad want their house to be secure but comfort is a thing too. I am going to try to convince them that there are not burglars going through the neighborhood every night looking for open windows.

Mom did say last night that she will be proactive about going to the library or the movies (for air conditioning) if it gets really hot. I’ve been in my coastal cocoon lately so it was good to get a reminder that it’s summer time in Santa Clara. I’ll watch the weather more carefully.

Jane is finished with school as of tomorrow so she’ll be able to come down more easily for a while.

Rosalie

It’s nothing very unique for a grandfather to be enamored with his granddaughter. Nor should anyone be surprised if I talk about how smart or creative she is. A search in the tag cloud for Rosalie will turn up quite a few of my paeans to her awesomeness. Here’s one of my favorites from almost exactly a year ago.

Jeremy called me the other night. He’s at home with Rosalie while Ashley is camping with her 5th graders in Outdoor Ed. My conversation with Rosalie was marred by the speaker phone cutting in and out but one thing I heard clearly was that she will be celebrating her ‘half birthday’ on Sunday after her Mama comes home. How cool is that? Five and a half. My half birthday was yesterday but I’m not going to put a number on it.

Anyway, I wanted to post about a little thing she did while Sepi and I were at her house in April. Jeremy had gone off to a job interview and we were alone with her. (Ashley was at work.)

Before he left, Jeremy had come up with some scrap paper and given it to her to draw on. And draw she did! Sepi and I were finishing up a leisurely lunch at the kitchen counter. Rosalie was at her drawing table in the dining room. She came over every few minutes with a stack of colorful drawings. Some were representative and she would explain what they were. Some were just patterns or rainbows. As soon as she could satisfy us with her explanations, she would disappear, explaining that she had more papers that had to be drawn on. Maybe ten minutes later she’d be back with another stack of interesting drawings. This repeated for a while until the paper was exhausted. She clearly wasn’t!

We saved a selection of those drawings but they got into Sepi’s house and I haven’t gotten them back yet. I did save a couple of smaller works she did earlier that day. We had each outlined one of our hands on paper which she then embellished and signed. Somewhere along the line they got cut into smaller pieces before I saved them. If you look carefully, you can see the yellow outline of fingers. Since they were our hands, we were required to sign them too.

at Dad’s house

Sepi and I went down to Mom and Dad’s Wednesday. When we got there it was a little early for lunch so I asked what we could do to further the cause. Mom said there were some lemons on the tree that were pretty big and she wanted to harvest them. Perfect!

I went and got the ladder and soon filled the first bag she brought out. Then she got a second bag which was quickly filled. At this point I was having some difficulty in reaching some of the large lemons and also noticed that the tree had sprouted quite a few branches straight up. I knew that Mom and Dad wanted to keep their fruit trees below about 10 feet in height so I asked Mom to bring me some pruning shears.

This is what she brought me.

I remember those pruners from my childhood over 50 years ago! Still, they worked ok. I had to twist a few of the branches I was trying to cut but it wasn’t worth making an issue over it. What was funny was when Dad came out as I was about done. Of course he couldn’t leave the branch cuttings on the ground for the gardener who was coming the next day. He went and got the green compost can and started cutting up the branches to fit in the can.

He immediately said these cutters are no good. (I wish I could remember what he said exactly but I can’t.) I went and got some newer ones and took this picture of the old ones. When we were done it went back into the bin with the others so it will almost certainly make more appearances.

Back in the garage with the camera app in the phone open, I decided to look at his storage cabinet. It’s a microcosm of his thriftiness: reused shoe boxes and hand written labels. There’s an old wired phone that he can’t bear to throw out. In fairness, it probably still works and they do still have a land line.

        

Below those items are another hallmark of my childhood: reused Polaroid film boxes. At work, Dad took Polaroid images of experiments he was running to study and/or document certain things. The boxes would have been tossed – indeed many probably were – but they were sized perfectly for small items as can be seen.

I’ve had occasion to go into some of those boxes in the last few years. What an amazing melange of ancient hardware! They are the result of many years of fixing things and saving the better parts for reuse. The fact that most of them are worn in ways that would make them difficult or impossible to use now is beside the point. Thriftiness in action. How can I not love this man?

marriage news

I feel like I’ve been tip-toeing around this subject for the last couple of weeks but Sepi blew the doors off today with a FaceBook post with all the details. I felt duty bound to re-post on my timeline so it’ll be all over the country by morning. In just a few hours since appearing, her post has nearly 100 ‘happy for you’ comments.

We are working on details of an August wedding date. The wedding ceremony will be rather small but I am hopeful we can bring together many more of our friends for a big party afterwards.

Spokane

Sepi and I got over to Spokane last week from Jeremy and Ashley’s in Duvall. We visited my cousins Dan and Nettie and my old friends Peter and Nanci. Sepi bonded with both women to the extent that there were times when I thought I was invisible. I was just as happy to stay out of the kitchen where they seemed to spend most of their time.

Peter’s friend Charlie restored a 1938 Chevrolet pickup truck that belonged to Peter and drove it up to Spokane last year. We guys decided to get it out and give it a spin.

It hadn’t been driven since last summer. Charlie had called earlier in the day and coached me through a couple of things I needed to know to drive it. He couldn’t have know that it was out of gas, though. In the end, Nanci had to go down to the local gas station to fill up their gas can, get it into the truck’s tank and then pour a cupful of gas directly into the carburetor as I cranked it. Thanks to Sepi’s brother Ike for generous advice over the phone that led to the cupful of gas solution.

Peter was very happy. In this picture I am still clenching from the 5 minute ride we are here just returning from. The truck is a very different beast from what I’ve gotten used to.

On Thursday I walked to the Japanese Garden at Manito Park with Dan where the azaleas were blooming. It’s a beautiful spot . . .

risk

Over a year ago I posted a quote from Jeremy about his impending move from Georgia to Washington.

It’s a risk worth taking, to have a life worth living. Our new chapter begins in June.

Here‘s the whole post. For some reason, whenever I’ve logged into this blog – it’s one of the home pages in my browser so, every day – this post shows up on the screen. I tried to fix it once but it kept coming back so I just live with it. There are worse things to see every day.

It seems particularly apt now as I enter into the next chapter of my life with Sepi. I have asked her to marry me and she has said yes. The risk is in my head after experiencing fifteen years of a problematic marriage and six years of a relationship that turned out to be not what I thought it was. I told Sepi that while I loved her, I didn’t feel sure that I could trust my own feelings. We discussed marriage, as we have discussed many things, at some length.

One thing Sepi insisted on from the very beginning was that she wanted each of us to be ‘all in’. No pre-nups, no hedging of our bets. We each have some assets but they are roughly equal and hopefully enough for a comfortable retirement. Not extravagant. Neither of us is entering into this for financial gain.

Sepi has met almost all of my Northern California family. We will be going to Southern California in May to meet her brothers’ families and other friends. We are heading to Washington tomorrow to spend time with Jeremy’s family. I’ve met many of Sepi’s friends in the Bay Area over the past two months. Everyone has passed favorable judgement.

So my risk is not like Jeremy and Ashley’s but it’s a commitment of a similar magnitude for a person who hasn’t made a commitment like this for many years. It feels risky to me but with Sepi I will be reaching for a higher level of life. I trust that my reach will not exceed my grasp.

at Mom and Dad’s

I only spent about 24 hours there from yesterday to today which included a night’s sleep. Actually about half a night, but that’s another story.

Yesterday was Mom and Dad’s 65th wedding anniversary. They allowed me to join them for dinner out last night. We went to Fish Market in Sunnyvale. Mom kept saying it had been several years since they had been there last. The dinner prices were a little higher than they’d gotten used to paying at Marie Callendar’s or Mimi’s. I tried to pick up the tab but they very firmly (both of them) told me no, I was their guest.

Of course, Valentine’s Day is a big day in the restaurant business and the place was jammed. Mom had made a reservation, though, and we got to a table pretty quickly. There were no booths and the table we got was right in the middle of the action: waiters and waitresses flying by with plates of food, and groups of patrons often with Valentine’s Day paraphernalia. One couple had not only a large bouquet, but an even larger heart-shaped silver balloon. I don’t know what he did with it when he sat down. The cooks were only about 10 or 15 feet away so that added to the show.

It was noisy too. Dad doesn’t say much in the best of situations so he really didn’t say much at the restaurant. Mom sat next to him and leaned over every once in a while to say something to him which he responded to. Until the food came, he watched the hubbub very carefully. He applied himself to the food: salmon and potatoes au gratin, coleslaw, a glass of wine. Oh, and bread with butter before. He took a while but he ate everything.

For some perverse reason, I ordered California rolls from the sushi bar at the same time I ordered dinner. It was too much but I ate about half of them. Mom, after eyeing them distrustfully for most of the dinner, finally tried one, complete with ginger and horseradish. Honestly, they weren’t very good.

We got home in time to watch a Nova program about the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. It should have been interesting after having seen the Churchill movie but I fell asleep while it was droning on. When I woke up, there was a guy rhapsodizing about some project involving the islands in Dubai. Dad had had a nap in the afternoon so, despite his huge dinner, he was awake. Mom was out. I went to bed.

voices of my children

After posting twice already today with posts that were largely written my children, I found myself thinking tonight about my third child, my only daughter, Sarah.

Sarah is a writer too but her writing is hidden from me. At one time I handled some diaries from her youth. I promised I would not read them and I have kept that promise. I do not know if she still writes like that. She is a very busy person although I will go out on a limb to say that her life has simplified in the last year or so.

When she first returned to California after earning her doctorate in music, she took jobs playing music wherever they presented themselves. Orchestra musicians in the Sf Bay Area sometimes refer to these jobs as ‘The Freeway Philharmonic.’ They are rather widely spread. A friend of hers from college had started a music academy and Sarah got some students there. It was nothing like a regular job, though. Her pay was directly dependent on the number of student she had. In fact, she was more like a contractor in both cases.

One reason for coming back to the Bay Are was that she wanted to continue her study of body mechanics called the Alexander Method. There was a particularly good teacher in San Francisco.

So, for two years she juggled all these things while getting more and more discouraged that she could not make a decent living without spending hours in Bay Area traffic. She even talked to me about going back to school to get a degree in something that she could make a living at.

There are really only three orchestras in the Bay Area that pay well enough for members to live decently without taking other work: San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and San Francisco Ballet. Sarah took auditions with all three of these organizations but did not play well enough to be hired. She did play well enough, however, to get put on the substitute list for all of them. Who would call first?

It was the Symphony. In October of 2015 I had the great joy of seeing my daughter’s name on the list of string players for that morning’s rehearsal at Davies Symphony Hall. I don’t think it was that first morning, but not long after, my colleague Nancy Foreman snapped this picture of the two of us in the hallway just offstage right:

I told everyone in sight how proud I was of her, and how amazing it was that she was working for the Symphony, but she always told me to be quiet. She said, ‘I’m just one mistake from never being called again!’

While perhaps not literally true, it was true in one respect: if you didn’t continue to play well, the Symphony would call someone else to sub. Sarah knew – knows! – that there are many good violinists out there who would love to play in the Symphony.

So she kept her head down and practiced like a mad person, tried to predict when the Symphony would need another violin and adjust her schedule accordingly. I don’t remember exactly how the early days went. She got a week in October, then I think it was a while before she was called again, then it was more weeks with nothing.

But by a year ago she was working almost every week for the Symphony and she had shed most of the other activities.that were discouraging her so much. Unlike the early times, she now knew sometimes as much as three weeks before the first rehearsal what music she would be playing. (At the beginning, they would often call on the morning of a rehearsal. Come in in two hours and sight read difficult music under the eyes and ears of the best musicians in the world. No pressure!)

I tried my best to allow her space at Davies. When I was there I had my own work to do and I didn’t want to add to the pressure. We see each other when it is needful and most people there know of our relationship. I’ve had the experience of tenured orchestra musicians coming up to me when she isn’t there and asking me why she’s not there, where is she, if she’s all right.They like her!

Best of all, I get to see her step out onto that stage and take her seat with that great orchestra and take care of business.

Back to my original point . . . I caught her backstage Saturday night to give her a birthday present. It was early and few other musicians were around. We chatted and I asked her how she liked the show she was doing. It was Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide with MTT conducting. No pressure.

I was actually surprised when she said she was really enjoying it. She said she could see the singers and hear the dialog. I said, ‘Isn’t the music difficult?’ She said yes but she practiced it.

You can see her name here in the middle of the second violins for her first week in 2015 but most of the last year she’s been playing in the firsts.

Jeremy

Jeremy posted on FaceBook yesterday. I didn’t see it until this morning but I thought it was worthy of sharing here as well.

For those who don’t know, Jeremy has been working as a basketball referee for a few years now. He’s been working his way up and has been doing some college games this year. These games from yesterday are high school games, though. I particularly like how this post shows, in clear and concise writing, Jeremy’s calm, professional attitude and work ethic without losing sight of the best that team sports can offer.

Just completed a span of a little more than 24 hours where I officiated:
-A competitive girls JV game where both teams played full-court pressure.
– A girls varsity game for the ages that went to overtime. On the short list of greatest basketball games I’ve ever been a part of.
– A relatively humdrum boys varsity game
– A competitive boys C-team game that came down to a last-second shot
– Competitive girls varsity game
– And in the finale, a tough boys varsity game whose final 30 seconds featured an intentional foul, three made free throws, a made three at the other end, an unforced turnover by the leading team giving the visitors the ball with a shot for the tie, said shot missed, home team rebounds and gets fouled, makes the first FT then misses the second (they’re up by 3 now), shooter crashes in and fouls on a rebound just before time expires, team that’s trailing gets two FT (after we put .5 back on the clock), makes the first FT and purposely misses the second, shooter commits a lane violation and the clock is inadvertently started so we have to put time back again, and finally we’re able to inbound and dribble out that last half-second and go home. I am one tired puppy and ready for date day tomorrow.