Tag Archives: birthday

Dad’s birthday

Dad turned 87 today. Teresa hosted a party at her house. All the Bay Area Woods were there. Mary called and sang him ‘Happy Birthday ‘ over the phone. He couldn’t hear her with the handset so Paul got the speaker phone going and that was better.

After dessert of lemon meringue pie (his request) he opened the cards from his children. All contained heartfelt personal statements of love and admiration. He had trouble reading them because they were handwritten, though. Jane was sitting next to him and helped out.  He was in good humor all evening and even made a couple of jokes but sometimes the conversation moves too fast for him and he checks out. Other times he makes self deprecating remarks that recognize his limitations.

I had tea and conversation with Tom V yesterday who I haven’t seen in nearly a year. He lost his mother in the spring of 2015 and many of his reactions to the loss were familiar to me. He’s still feeling the effects. All death is traumatic, even when one is older and has lived a long life. It just makes me treasure Dad and Mom all the more. One day they’ll be no more and all we’ll have left are memories.

my week

I’m going to try to just describe my week.

Last Sunday morning I was still in Georgia. In the afternoon, we had Rosalie’s party. All of the Hall’s except for Lauren were there along with three of Rosalie’s chums from school. 2year old Parker Hall was another little one. The party started conventionally enough with people arriving and setting gifts on the hearth. Ashley and Rosalie had spent a lot of time preparing fairy houses which were set outside so soon we were all out in the back yard. The little plastic ball – perfect for kicking around the yard – and the swing set, however, proved to be more of a draw than fairy houses. It was cool and windy so sitting quietly outside was not optimal.

After a while we were back inside and Ashley brought out the strawberry and carrot cake cupcakes for everyone. Rosalie chose a strawberry one for her candles. The room became very quiet as the eating of the cupcakes proceeded.

Then it was out to the living room and the opening of presents. Rosalie went into full Christmas morning mode, ripping presents open and turning immediately to another one. I’m sure she’ll appreciate them eventually! Soon the balloons for all beckoned and before long the children were chasing each other in a circle through the dining room, the kitchen and the living room shrieking. This went on for at least 20 minutes (I wasn’t watching a clock). One balloon popped and another was lost (it later turned up behind the toilet in the bathroom) but no one was hurt or even had hurt feelings.

After everyone left, we cleaned up and went out to Ted’s for dinner.

Back at home, I explained to Rosalie at bedtime that I had to leave early in the morning to go home. We sang one more song with the guitar and she went to sleep. In the morning I went into her room and said goodbye again but she wasn’t really awake. Jeremy took me to the airport and we had some good talk on the way. His dream of moving back out west is very close. I told him I would be available to help him do the move if it happens.

Air travel. It’s like democracy: it’s terrible but the alternatives are worse. I’d love to be able to relax on a bus or a train across country but that would be time better spent with Rosalie so I fly.

At home Monday afternoon I tried to rest and then went to jazz band in the evening. Before leaving, I had told JJ that I was available for the Berlin Philharmonic Tuesday and Wednesday nights. He sent me an email confirming that along with the request that I come in for maintenance projects on both days. Oh well, I just had a week off and I have 5 days off following that. But those were long days: 9 am to 10:30 the first day and 9 am to midnight the second.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and the Woods were to gather in Santa Clara as is our tradition. It was also my birthday so Rose came over early with a birthday gift. We got down to Santa Clara a little before noon and set out food and started to eat. The day was fine and low key. Happy birthday was sung after dinner but otherwise there were no references to aging. I really pooped out about 8 and was back on my way home by 9.

Friday was laundry day and then a return to Santa Clara. Several people were there from out of town and were leaving Saturday so I made the effort to spend more time with them. Sarah had stayed there and wanted to go to The Starving Musician to look at violins. She asked me if I wanted to go with her.

Now, I had been to this music store many times. It’s a guitar shop in my mind. They have guitars, basses, amplifiers, keyboards, and drums in the main showroom pretty much like any other music store. I had noticed the little room for band instruments in the back before but Sarah told me she had been in there a couple of years earlier and seen some violins. She remembered one of them was pretty good and she wanted to see if it was still there. She needed an inexpensive instrument to teach with as her main fiddle had gotten damaged recently by a careless student.

It turned out there was a whole violin showroom – small, but nicely finished – upstairs in the back! Sarah spent a happy couple of hours going through the 50 or so instruments and chatting with the owner/luthier about arcane details of each one. We left with two on evaluation. She will take them back in a week or so. Depending on the opinions of various friends who know things, she may buy one.

That evening at dinner, Jane led the conversation by asking our Aunt Kathleen lots of questions about her journey into the sisterhood. I like to call her Kathleen but she really prefers Pieta. Technically she is Sister Pieta but she’s still our Aunt Kathleen. Pieta is 89 and my mother’s older sister. She’s been out in California since the 15th. We younger ones learned a lot about her life from 1945, when she graduated high school and went into an Army nursing program, until 1950 when she went into the nunnery. There was much more, of course, all very interesting. Pieta’s choice of name is very apt: she is deeply religious and serene but also down to earth so talking with her is always easy.

At the end of the evening, Sarah asked me if she could come stay at my house that night. Of course I said yes. We got the futon set up and then ended up talking Chinese philosophy for an hour or so. She had a copy of the Tao te Ching that she had gotten for Zach originally. I had brought up Chuang Tzu at the dinner table when Dad had spoken of his visit to the Abbey of Gethsemane while he was in college. Thomas Merton was famously in residence there at the time. I commented that Merton wrote a book of Chuang Tzu stories set as poetry which I had in my library. I read a couple of them to Sarah. We talked about the pros and cons of setting goals and striving for them and whether I was happy with my life choices.

In the morning, we were slow to get up but eventually we got out for breakfast at the Chit Chat where we ate and drank our tea watching rain squalls over the mighty Pacific Ocean out the window. I still didn’t have the energy for anything outdoors so we settled on going to a movie for the afternoon. We saw Arrival, which I thought was very interesting. As with any science fiction, one needs a willing suspension of disbelief but the story hung together reasonably well. It is based, so the credits say, on The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang. I had actually noted that when I saw the trailer a month or so ago so I’ve really got to do it now.

Sarah headed home after the movie and I did the same. There were a lot of cut up vegetables left over from Thursday so I did a stir fry and Rose joined me for dinner and glass of wine. Her ribs are still bothering her so we parted with a gentle hug and I went straight to bed.

Today I have another trip to Santa Clara for lunch with Charlie Centofante after which I will again go to see Mom and Dad and say goodbye to Aunt Kathleen.