Category Archives: Life as we know it

pictures of Zach

I’m going to say that I don’t have any pictures of Zach in my apartment newer than about age 10. I have my little ‘shrine’ with Hobbes and some other little things of his but photos of him as an adult still make me wince.

I’m mentioning this because of the page I created on FaceBook. The purpose was to allow people who want to follow this blog to get notifications when I make a new post. I know there are sexier ways to do it but I couldn’t figure it out in a few minutes and FB was easy.

It works well enough. I suppose if you are reading this and hate FaceBook and want notifications you should contact me and I’ll work something out.

Anyway, FaceBook is all about promoting ‘clicks’ so I am constantly getting notifications that I can get more visitors to my page The Zach Project if only I . . . well, pay them money essentially. I don’t read them, to be honest, because the notifications always have pictures of Zach in them and I find that I always look away and scroll down as quickly as I can.

4.5

I had just gotten back to bed after going to the bathroom. It was warm, and I thought maybe I’d feel better if I cracked the window a bit. The windows in my old apartment are single pane and are rather loose in their tracks. Moments after getting back under the covers, the window started rattling and the bed started shaking. I looked at the clock – 2:40 am.

The rattling went on for maybe 10 or 15 seconds, then faded away. Sleep was out of the question for a while so I flipped open the ipad and went to the USGS web site. There was nothing bigger than a 2.4 anywhere near the Bay Area. The times are always posted by UTC so I spent a few moments trying to figure out the time on the most recent one. Was that 2.4 what I felt? I lay back on the pillow for a moment and then refreshed the page. Now it showed a larger red circle over Berkeley. 4.5 Magnitude 10:39 UTC. So my bedroom clock is a minute fast!

This morning on the news pages it’s a story: Bay Area jolted awake by 4.5 quake!! I don’t know if I would have been ‘jolted’ awake but it sure got my attention.

Well that’s about it. In 1989, after the Loma Prieta quake, the newspapers were full of things like when ‘The Big One’ was going to come. My recollection is that the likelihood was considered very high in the next thirty years. Well, we have two years to go in that window.

Robin’s celebration

I attended the celebration of the ‘life and work’ of Robin Gray last night. The only people I really wanted to see were Kris and Susie but Susie was busy as a kind of a host – it was in her theater – and by the time I got to Kris, it was near the end and she was tired. I was tired. The trip from Pacifica in the afternoon had taken me almost exactly three hours door to door. By contrast, that evening I got home in an hour and 50 minutes including a stop at the grocery store and a stop for gas.

Of the several former colleagues I spoke to, only a couple were people I would like to see again. The conversations were almost exclusively about work. When I mentioned to Kris that I would try to get up to see her at home, she instantly said, ‘No Local 50 talk. We’ve had enough of that for a lifetime.’ I readily agreed.

That was all later. At the service proper, I heard some good stories about Robin but my favorite part was a video that someone had gotten from an appearance she made in front of some theater students. Her inimitable style was in full flower: profane and funny, underpinned with a complete professionalism. I will say that she embodied what I love best about being in the theatre: ready and able to deal with almost any situation, yet never losing sight of the basic goal of touching people emotionally.

‘Band of brothers’ is the phrase that comes to mind but that’s not right since there are many women in theatre. The phrase is also associated with men killing other men, but the idea of a small group of people doing a task that no one outside the group can really understand appeals to me. Robin was a leader in a band of theatre people. It’s a group I am proud to be part of.

I’ve encouraged people many times since the death of Zach to treasure the good things they have while they can. While I regret not understanding better at the time what a treasure Robin was, I treasure the memories I have.

low

Thursday morning, I had an idea for a nice post. I took my laundry down to the laundry room and the sun was coming in low through the foliage in our little central patio/garden. It was very pretty. When I got back upstairs, I sat at the computer to write, but I saw I had a bunch of emails. I looked through those and answered a couple and the moment was gone. I slid into FaceBook and the news of the thievery in the Senate and the sunshine meant nothing any more.

I had been thinking I would go down to Mom and Dad’s later and stay overnight but I found myself sinking further and further into torpor. I tried to come back to write, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t pick up the phone to call anyone. Eventually, I got out to the mall where I wandered around – hardly anyone was there – looking at stuff I wasn’t interested in. I had some vague idea I could do some Christmas shopping. I did get a couple of things at the drugstore and got to the grocery store.

At home about 6 pm, I ate several bowls of sugar cereal for dinner and went to bed.

Friday was much the same, only I never went out. I checked FaceBook, played solitaire, worked on the jigsaw puzzle, actually read some real books (oh, I got to the library Thursday). In the evening, I saw Rose was home so I went over to talk to her. She was working on some Christmas decorations and had a kind of technical problem so I gave her some ideas and then some tools (skinny pliers). Somehow that made me feel better. I ate a decent dinner and again went to bed early, about 8.

Today brought the news that the Senate actually passed that abomination of ‘tax reform’ but I feel a little better. Better enough to write.

It’s interesting. I want to write deep, important thoughts, but often when I’m thinking those thoughts, I don’t want to sit at the computer. Certainly the last two days were like that.

I’ve got the day off so I will try to get back to my sunny thoughts of Thursday morning and share them with you.

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.)

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!

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.