Tag Archives: Sarah

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.

Dia

The Dia de los Muertos concert was today. The art has been in the Davies lobby for about three weeks. As usual, I find the exhibits moving. The same artist that did The Tear last year did something similar. It is a basin with water in it and a pump that circulates the water gently. Visitors are invited to place the name of their loved one on a piece of paper and put it in the water. The ink dissolves in the water meaning . . . something. I walked past this work every day and I could not put Zach’s name in the water.

Many of the concertgoers today were painted in the Dia style. That is to say, they had faces painted in stylized skulls. I couldn’t feel it. I felt plenty of loss. Sarah played the concert, as she did last year, and, like last year, I was able to have a semi-private moment with her. No words were spoken, but we were both thinking of Zach and sharing our grief.

Later, I shared some moments with some of the ushers I’ve become friendly with. I also saw, and spoke to, Martha, who curated the whole lobbies installation. She knows about Zach and gave me a big hug. She told me it was fine that I didn’t put his name in the water. I told her about my shrine in my apartment.

I got to spend yesterday with Mom and Dad and coming in to work today it was hard to get back into work mode. Eventually, I got squared away. Now it is past midnight and I will be getting on a plane at 9 to go visit Rosalie and her Mom and Dad. Yay!

new post

I see it’s been 8 days since my last flurry of posts following the death of my friend Robin. I haven’t been super busy, but I had the grind of showing up for work every day at Davies. On only one did I have to stay past 5 pm. I tried for two nights to go without sleeping pills and the results were not very good. The first night I did ok but the second night I woke up at 3 in the morning and was not able to go back to sleep. That put a bad spin on the rest of the day, as you might imagine. I started feeling like a cornered animal, desperate to escape but not knowing how to do it.

Today Sarah’s quartet is playing a very ambitious program over in the East Bay. One of the pieces, Steve Reich’s Different Trains, requires the use of amplification of the instruments along with the playback of a pre-recorded track of train sounds and speaking. I was able to arrange for the use of some of the Symphonyu’s sound equipment so in a couple of hours I’ll be going back to the hall to gather all that together and take to the concert.

The weather was hot earlier in the week but today the fog is in over Linda Mar. Windows that were thrown wide open just a couple of days ago are shut again.

I finished my jigsaw puzzle this morning. It was only 750 pieces and not too difficult. It took just under two weeks and that included not even touching it at all for several days. With no band music to prepare, I am hardly playing music at all. I might have picked up the guitar for a total of ten minutes in the last ten days.

Last Saturday was a nice day. My nephew Danny hosted a get together with just about all the Northern California Woods. The best part was seeing, and playing with, all the young kids – great nieces and nephews to me. In all, there were 5 under the age of 6 years. Here they all are with Mom and Dad.

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!