Tag Archives: Sarah

quotidian

It’s a real word. I’m sure of it. But I’m not going to look it up. I want to riff on it based on what I think it means.

It’s what my life has been the last nearly two weeks. In a way, though, it’s been longer. My trip with Jeremy was fraught with meaning but it was really just quotidian for me. I mean, I planned it, and I did it. No muss no fuss.

Visiting with Rosalie shouldn’t have been quotidian but it kind of was. Jeremy was away and we did some stuff. It was nice but it never seemed unordinary.

When I got back, I took  the CueStation class for three days, then spent an afternoon and evening in Santa Clara (after going to the dentist to have a broken crown fixed), then I had a long day (15 hours) at work, then I drove Rose and her sister Leigh and Gavino’s other grandmother to Pollock Pines for his birthday party. Then the next day I did laundry, then went back down to Santa Clara where I hung with Tim and his family. Then it was Monday and Tony Bennett at Davies. That was another long day. Tuesday I met Tim’s family along with Julian at Davies where I showed them around the whole building. Then I did another Tony Bennett show followed by a load out. Wednesday I went to Alameda for a haircut, followed by lunch with Leti and Hal, followed by dinner out with Rose for her birthday. Today I was back to work at 8 and just got home at 10:45. Tomorrow I get my permanent crown at the dentist and go back to work in the evening.

So there hasn’t been much time for reflection. Tonight the featured artist was a woman named Rhiannon Giddens. A classically trained singer from North Carolina, she became interested in the folk music of the area she grew up in after graduating from Oberlin. She has a band and some Grammy’s so I suppose I should have heard of her but I hadn’t. She sang Summertime and a Kurt Weill song that were sort of ordinary. there was a gospel number before intermission that was cool but in the second half she sang a song she wrote about a slave woman who was sold but her child was not, so they were separated.

I found myself weeping in the darkness of the light booth. Then she sang a song about the four little girls killed in the Birmingham church and I wept some more. Where did that come from? My life was moving along more or less under control and suddenly these couple of songs unhinged me completely. Loss of a child, of course. I’m quite sensitive to that for obvious reasons, but the sight of this young woman standing up there delivering this message almost defiantly was moving in and of itself. Seeing Sarah in the orchestra behind her made it even more intense.

I suppose, compared to a year and a half ago, I’m ‘better’ at handling this. I was able to remember that I could be heard through the glass if I got too loud. I was able to get it together enough to bring up the bow light at the end of each number. By the end of the show I was back to my quotidian life.

After tomorrow I have some days off. I will try to write more here and work on my new jigsaw puzzle. I did get one started the other day. It’s a scene from Yosemite Valley.

Noah’s Dad

Jeremy posted this on FaceBook yesterday (Fathers’ Day):

Fathers Day is a good time to reflect not just on the amazing dads who’ve been a part of my life, but on a guy who rose to an extraordinary challenge — loving and raising my nephew as if Noah was his own — and has been more supportive, open and friendly in the aftermath of Zach’s horrible tragedy than anyone in our extended family had a right to expect. Hope you enjoyed your day, Daddy Dave Richer. You’re an awesome dude and Noah and Myles are blessed to have you as a dad.

As a father, I couldn’t be prouder to have raised a son who can think this way.

I want to add my own story about Dave.

In the aftermath of the tragedy Saturday night in Baton Rouge, by Tuesday the whole family was gathered down there. Wednesday we discovered the existence of Noah, and by Wednesday night Ashley had established contact with Ally. Zach’s friends and colleagues at the school arranged to have a memorial there on the Friday afternoon. As someone with graphics experience, I was called on to help with the program. I was in a daze, though.

Sometime Friday – I think – Jeremy told me we were all getting on an airplane Saturday morning to fly to Michigan for another celebration. I had no cold weather gear; I hadn’t spoken to anyone on that side of the family since our divorce four years earlier. I didn’t want to go, but I couldn’t say no. They all loved Zach too.

So we flew to Detroit, where it was snowing. Everyone there was welcoming and sympathetic to me but I was still in shock. At the celebration on Sunday, I couldn’t speak. As soon as I could I went to a corner and sat mostly by myself. Eventually I noticed that people were starting to leave and I remembered something Sarah had said to me. She had said Ally was bringing Noah to the celebration with her husband Dave. They were driving up from Cincinnati in the snow!

Sarah was walking by so I called to her, ‘Didn’t you tell me Ally and Dave were coming up with Noah?’

She didn’t say anything. She just grabbed me and pulled me to go with her outside. It was still snowing and all I had on was a sweater! She pulled me anyway. Noah was outside playing in the snow. She introduced me to Ally. I don’t even remember what i said to her but I remember what I said to Dave, ‘You must be the step father.’

Dave shook his head. ‘No, I’m the Dad.’

my musical weekend

In order to free up my weekend for personal things, I took on work towards the end of last week that ordinarily I would have dodged. Wednesday night on house electric, Thursday all day until midnight with the sound crew for a Disney/Pixar film, then Friday morning for a graduation, followed by house electric duties again in the evening.

Saturday morning I was pooped, but by early afternoon I was ready to go to a benefit party for Sarah’s quartet. Here‘s a link to their website, by the way.

The party was very nice, in a modest home in San Francisco. The quartet played excerpts from their repertoire, most notably from David Ryther’s transcription of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Even in their opening number, a selection from Vilvaldi’s Four Seasons, it was astonishing how loud 4 acoustic instruments were in a small room. They played in the living room which wasn’t more than about 15′ by 15′ with a normal ceiling.

Hearing a string quartet in such intimate circumstances is one of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had. Saturday afternoon was not one of the best, mostly because excerpts do not allow each piece to develop as it should.

At 5 it was over and I had to run to my own concert. The Skyline Jazz Band’s concert was that evening. We had done a dress rehearsal in the theater Monday and one the last things I heard from my rhythm section mates was that we would do a sectional there at 5 on Saturday. No one seemed to care when I asked if the theater would be open to us then. As it happened, the jazz vocal group was already there and rehearsing so the sectional crumbled. The section is a little chaotic, with three drummers, two bass players and two guitar players.

In theory, charts are assigned so that only one of each plays at a time. It works well, as far as I can tell, with the other players, but my guitar partner doesn’t seem to get it. During rehearsal, throughout the semester, no one is bothered by both of us chunking along, but even one guitar in a big band is arguably too much. Gram is very young, and I am very non-confrontational so I haven’t played the heavy with him. I did complain some weeks ago to Zack, the director. He made some gentle efforts in class to make it all clear. I don’t know what, if anything, he said to Gram in private.

None of it made any impression. Gram just kept playing on every chart! During one that I had been assigned to, in the middle of the concert, Zack came over and indicated (I thought) to Gram that he should stop. Nope.

Oh, well. Zack announced during the concert that Gram is going on to study jazz guitar at SFS State in the fall. I wish him the best, but I’m not going to miss him in the section.

Sunday was Doghouse Blues in Drytown. Steve had graciously smoothed the way for me to have a lesson with Allen Frank. Allen is a good player but not formally educated in music so he’s not a very good teacher. It was mostly do this, try this. Hard to assimilate under the conditions. He’s also the owner of the club so he was a little distracted by some necessities of getting the club ready for a Sunday afternoon crowd. He did let me sit in with the band for three numbers later in front of a nice crowd at the club. Thanks, Allen!

Still, 14 hours and 300 miles driven. That’s a lot for 20 minutes of playing. OK, about an hour including the lesson. I did get to spend some quality time with Steve and Leigh beforehand.

Tonight, I’m back to jazz, sort of. The band is playing in the gymnasium for graduation and tonight is our run through. If past experience is a guide, we’ll play three or four numbers before getting down with P & C for the graduates’ walk in.

work weekend

Well, we had it last weekend. The work weekend, where we picked up the slack for Zach. Quite a few people came: family members, LSU people, Greenville YMCA people. All in all there were over 25 people involved.

I took the red-eye out of SFO Thursday night, arriving in Atlanta around 7 in the morning having slept only a couple of hours at most. Sarah had come in the night before, so she was there. A group from Baton Rouge led by Micah and Julie came about noon. Ashley got home from work about 3:30 and by 4 we were on the road to South Carolina.

Despite promises being made, no one was at the camp when we arrived. The cabins were open and the lights worked but otherwise it was deserted. There was no cell service up on the mountain so reaching people was tough.

Jeremy persevered, though, and after about an hour he got through to someone who told us the director had a family emergency and had to leave. We got the info on where to sleep so we got settled before dark. Ally arrived about 9 with Noah, having done all the driving from Cincinnati. He came into the kids cabin just in time to interrupt Rosalie from getting to sleep. They were glad to see each other.

After that, Jeremy got a campfire started and more people I didn’t know started showing up in the darkness. Soon, stories of Zach were being told. I had the foresight of bringing my little hand held recorder and I let it run for a solid 45 minutes while stories were told around the campfire.I gave up around midnight. There were a few hardy souls still there.

The next morning after breakfast, everyone headed out to ‘Zeke’s Place’ to see what we were up against. Here’s what we found:

Before we started work, Jeremy got everyone in a circle and we all spoke briefly of our relationship to Zach. Ashley used her lovely phrase, ‘Brother-in-love,’ to refer to Zach. One of the Greenville people – I don’t remember who, but male – said they had a crush on Zach. That was after one of the women said the same thing, to knowing nods all around.

Then, to work. Noah jumped in and helped as much as he could.

We broke for lunch and returned to an afternoon of rain showers but the work continued steadily. We weren’t quite done when it was time to go to dinner, but some elves left quickly after dinner and went back to finish the roof before the light faded.

The next morning, almost everyone reconvened at the site for a celebratory picture. I never heard who Zeke was but heretofore, it will be known as ‘Zach and Zeke’s Place.’

Before that, on Saturday, there was an important other celebration to have. It was Noah’s birthday! Ashley had made a cake and someone – I never found out who – went into Brevard for Dolly’s ice cream. Gifts were given and songs were sung; cake and ice cream was eaten.

YMCA Camp Greenville has a chapel called ‘Pretty Place’. It’s where Jeremy and Ashley had gotten married nearly ten years ago. I never felt that ‘pretty’ was the best word for the spot. It’s much better than pretty. Anyway, Jeremy had encouraged everyone to come out to Pretty Place for the sunrise Sunday. I had heard 6:45 but when I got there about that time, the sun was already up and many people were already there. After the rain the day before, Sunday had dawned clear and warm, but pockets of fog were in the valleys below.

After snapping a couple of pictures, I sat down next to Sarah and took in the fabulous view and thought of the wonderful people that were there with me, giving some extra for Zach. I completely broke down.

cleanliness

For many years, I thought that if only everyone in the world could get a hot shower every morning, we would have world peace. For myself, a shower in the morning was a given before just about anything.

Recently, I’ve come to the realization that there might be another way. It started when I was visiting Sarah in Amsterdam in 2013. She had a room in a house and one of the other roomers very graciously found another place to stay for the week or so that I was there. It was winter and, although we rode bikes everywhere, I wasn’t doing much sweating in the cold weather.

Europe, in my experience, is much more attuned to the need to cherish our limited resources. The extensive train system is well known. In Holland, there are many thousands of bikes in use on dedicated bike paths. The houses are smaller in every way, except perhaps the ceilings as the Dutch are tall.

So I didn’t shower every day and I found that I didn’t get all itchy. Or, rather, my skin passed through the itchy stage into a comfortable stasis.

When I got home, it took a while to really learn this lesson. As the drought worsened in California, I eventually remembered my Holland experience and resolved to shower less to save water. I found that showering every other day, or sometimes every third day, was sufficient to keep me clean and not smelly.

I do wash my hands often as that is a disease vector, and I keep my face clean. I have a filter on my shower head that is supposed to be good for 10,000 gallons. The paperwork that comes with it says it should be changed ‘with normal use’ every six months. I did a calculation. If I use 15 gallons of water in a 5 or 6 minute shower, I can shower 667 times before changing the filter. At, say, 200 showers a year, that’s 3 1/2 years of use!

Zach and Sarah

I’ve made much of the special relationship between Zach and Jeremy. His relationship with Sarah was no less special. It was strained in recent years because of their divergent opinions on what kind of relationship they each should have with their mother but the deep love never went away.

Even at an early age, Sarah showed that she had a talent for leadership. I remember noting once that when she got Jeremy to try cutting her hair it was Jeremy who had to shoulder the blame. He was, after all, older and should have known better. He might have been 5 and she was 3.

With Zach it was more of a traditional older/younger relationship. Sarah was brimming with ideas and Zach was happy to be included in the fun. Sometimes it was with one or more of Sarah’s friends but most often it was just the two of them doing drawings, writing plays, or goofing around with the cassette recorder.

Here are a few fun pix from the archives:

In 2014, Zach made what was to be his last trip to California. I don’t remember for sure, but I think both he and Sarah stayed at my apartment for a couple of days. One morning they sat at the breakfast table for a couple of hours and just talked quietly. I stayed out of the way but I did take this one picture.

diaries

At the risk of incurring Sarah’s wrath, I’m going to confess I saw some of her diaries yesterday. Honestly, I didn’t look at them except to determine what they were. I was transferring some of her things stored at my apartment from old boxes into a nicer plastic tub.

The reason this is blog-worthy is that it struck me that all of my kids are writers and that makes me happy. On my front page I make reference to Zach’s prodigious writing being an inspiration. Now I realize that Sarah has written a lot as well. I haven’t seen anything of Jeremy’s writing but I know he’s done a lot.

Last year Mom brought out – I don’t remember why – a diary that my grandfather had written in 1915 of a train trip he took from Denver to southern California. Very little philosophizing, just the gritty details of travel. Great stuff!

It’s an arguable point as to whether pencil or pen on paper has more value than these electronic squiggles. I’m the first to agree that handling the actual paper that my grandfather held had value more than the words themselves. Paper can be free form in a way that is more difficult in e-writing.

It’s all valuable. I treasure those glimpses of my ancestors as I hope my descendants will enjoy a look into my mind, whether it’s this blog or some moldy spiral notebooks. Write on!

Tim Wilson

I just read this article and tears are in my eyes. Tim and Deanne Wilson were good friends of ours during our time in San Francisco at the Opera. They were passionate, caring people then. The article clearly shows that that hasn’t changed.

When we went away, we didn’t stay in touch with Tim and Deanne. We really didn’t stay in touch with anybody at the Opera but that’s another story. I worked Opera in the Park a couple of times after I came back to SF and said hello to several members of the orchestra who knew me. In the brief conversations we had, no one mentioned Tim and I don’t remember asking.

Now he has glaucoma and other health issues that are serious enough to make him quit his job – again! What makes me sad is not just that Tim is ill or that I’ve ignored a friend for so many years. It’s that our society – our country – values music education so little that heroic efforts like this are needed.

OK. I’m resolving right here to get back in touch with Tim and Deanne. Meanwhile, I’ll put up one picture. It’s Tim, but you can’t tell. He’s showing Jeremy and Sarah how to make pizza from scratch. I’m pretty sure it was vegetarian, too.

Winnie-the-Pooh

Now I’ve got the Pooh books out and I’m looking through them, remembering.

I remember the night at our home in San Francisco when, after reading from one of those books at Jeremy and Sarah’s bedtime, I lost track of it somehow. I asked Jeremy where it was and I thought he said he had thrown it out the window. Jeremy wasn’t more than three then.

The sill for the bedroom window was low and the window opened sideways so it was possible. I became frantic and went out onto the short roof outside the window to look for it. It wasn’t there so I thought maybe he tossed it farther and it went down into the back yard. I couldn’t find it there although it was dark and I could have missed it. All I could think of was that this was the book my father had given me as a child and I’ve lost it.

Then we found it. I don’t remember where it was. Behind a chair or something. Boy was I relieved.

Here’s a little bit from the last story in Winnie-the-Pooh:

‘When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’

‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’

‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.

jigsaw puzzles

I guess I never wrote about my jigsaw puzzles. I’ve always liked doing them. Many Thanksgivings and Christmases in Santa Clara featured a jigsaw puzzle. Mom likes doing them and had has one going occasionally. Dad thinks it’s foolishness so he ignores the whole thing.

I had talked about doing them here at my apartment for a long time. I even went shopping for a folding table but the ones I found were funky so I blew it off.

Then Rose came over one day and brought a table that she said she never used. It was nice: good support and surface and size. A week or so later she brought over a new puzzle. I was off!

That was about a year ago. Since then, I’ve had a puzzle going pretty much all the time. I’ve gone through everything that Mom has. I’ve bought a few puzzles and Sarah gave me one but a couple of weeks ago I finished one and had nothing in the pipeline. Barnes and Noble carries puzzles as does Target, but I didn’t care for the ones they had so . .  to the Internet!

I started at the website of the last one I did. It was made in USA and decent quality. That led to Puzzle Warehouse. They had some that I liked. As I put the first couple in the cart, they announced free shipping for an order over $75. Oh well, I don’t do this often. Six puzzles later, I’m done.

They came a couple of days ago and now my puzzle table is full again! Now I just have to figure out where to store the others . . .