Tag Archives: Teresa

showing pictures

Mary Beth and I had our first picture showing yesterday. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but it was still good for Mom & Dad and Rose to see all of our pictures and hear our stories.

I forgot to bring my packet of souvenirs including my journal even though it was sitting right by my front door. Mary and Jim flew down but took a relaxed approach in the morning so they didn’t arrive at Palo Alto until about noon. Mom had the lunch spread ready to go when we got there so we all dug in and had some good visiting. No one was in a hurry.

I think it was around 2 that we all got up and got serious about showing our pictures. I had loaded mine onto my laptop because it had an HDMI output that I knew I could plug into Mom and Dad’s big TV. Mary had hers on her iPad and also on Google Drive.

The first problem was that the computer wouldn’t talk to the TV. I was using an HDMI cable that I had that I was sure I had used before. I fiddled around with all kinds of settings but nothing worked. Mary wondered if the USB  on the TV would take a connection to her iPad. No, that was no good. The input selector didn’t even have USB. What’s the USB for???

Then I saw another HDMI cable under the TV. That worked! Yay!

Then I had the issue of figuring out what program to use to show the images. The laptop was running Windows 10 but it’s setup to be my work machine so I hadn’t used it to show pictures before. I thought I could just go to the file manager and select the folder and start the slideshow. Not so fast, pardner! I finally got a program going that showed the images from each folder only. I had to exit the program ( I don’t remember what it was called) each time I finished a folder – and I have many – then reselect a new folder and start again. Tedious.

Of course I showed every picture I took, including pictures of flowers and multiple images of essentially the same thing at different exposures. I think everyone nodded off at one point or another.

Finally it was time for Mary to show her pictures. The TV was working well so she logged onto Google Drive on my computer and started showing her pictures. But the videos didn’t work. There was a message about restarting ‘your device’ to make them work. Never mind, now we’re getting short of time.

Mary and Jim had to time their activities so that they could be back on the ground in Auburn while there was still daylight. When the issue came up, Mary was about halfway through her pictures and it was 5:30 already. They needed to leave by 6. Oh, too bad about dinner! Then some of my images that were on Google Drive started showing up along with Mary’s. What?? She soldiered on and we got through at 6 exactly. Rose and I had picked them up on our way down but we wanted dinner so I ran Mary and Jim up to PAO and came back. 40 minutes round trip.

The four of us had a nice dinner on the patio and we left a little after 8 but the whole day had seemed way more rushed than I liked. Teresa is going to want to see everything as will Jane so we’ll likely have a chance to do it again. On our drive to the airport, I suggested to Mary that we consolidate our better pictures on Google Drive in a special folder for showing. I don’t know what we can do about the videos. There’s work to do.

I left the original HDMI cable in the trash.

cleaning teeth

I went to the dentist about a month ago. That’s news because I hadn’t been for 2 1/2 years. The last dentist I went to insisted on ragging on me about not flossing. This even after I warned them that I wasn’t going to start at age 60 after being nagged by dentists for at least 40 years. And I told them not to do the thing where they poke at my gums and hum and haw over the depth of my pockets and talk like it’s a miracle I haven’t gotten gangrene or something and all my teeth fall out. They did it anyway! Screw them!

The dentist before that I got mad at for announcing that she was giving away candy at Halloween. Really?

But I went back to her because Teresa was still going to her and I did think she was a good dentist. I had actually gotten an email from her office telling me I was due for a teeth cleaning so I went ahead and made the appointment. It had been 4 years since seeing her. Persistence pays off sometimes.

I did it all through email. I have a sig on my email that has a link to this blog. I didn’t think much about it but when she came in through the waiting room the day of my appointment she immediately said she had read the blog and how sorry she was over my losing Zach. That night I sent her an email in which I said, ‘I want to tell you how moved I was this morning when you offered me sympathy for the loss of my son. I could go to 100 doctor’s offices and not have that happen.’

Best of all, when I told her and the hygienist about not flossing, they rolled with it. How nice, to be treated like an adult! So then I  agreed to the deep cleaning they wanted to do.

So the hygienist suggested that, since I wasn’t going to floss, I try a Water-Pik. I bought one on the way home and I’ve been using it ever since. The procedure is to do a regular brushing, then go through the teeth with the Water-Pik. What is remarkable to me is that every night, I can see bits of stuff dislodged by the Water-Pik and landing in the sink. It’s pretty undignified, leaning over the sink with this thing stuck my mouth, essentially drooling, but my teeth are cleaner. And I don’t have to floss!

Now the deep cleaning is done and I’ll be going back in 3 months. Finally  I can feel good about going to the dentist. How weird is that?

Mom and Dad

I went down to Mom and Dad’s today. Originally I was going to see them this weekend for a birthday party but now the party is happening Saturday when I have to work. Happy Birthday Jim and Teresa! And Happy Birthday to Connor on Monday!

So, it was kind of an old-fashioned day for us, like the ones we used to have (seemingly) all the time before 2015. The only difference was that they had to go to a funeral and didn’t get home until one pm. Normally, I got there at noon or 12:30 for lunch and stayed through dinner. Today wasn’t much different: I ran a couple of errands on the way down and got to their house a little after 1.

We had a leisurely lunch and sat around the table in the sun room talking for over an hour. Before the funeral mass, they had gone to their exercise class so they were pretty tired. About 2:30 they went in to take a nap and I went to the computer to work on their taxes. Actually, their taxes are done. What I’m doing is running the numbers through Turbo Tax to see if there are trouble spots with an eye towards doing the taxes for them myself next year. It doesn’t appear that the tax guy is putting in any kind of special sauce for his $500 so now all I have to do is convince Dad to let me do it.

After a while, Mom came out and started working on her genealogy program. She determined that she isn’t keeping up with the various families as much as she wants to. Then she looked into a letter she had gotten from the Kaiser people about her password. She got that fixed then asked me about downloading Dad’s health record. Pretty cool! We got it done, then for good measure downloaded hers as well. Now they’re resident on her computer in PDF form.

About then Dad was up and got the News Hour started on the TV. It usually drives me crazy but today it was fairly reasonable. They had a long story about the Great Barrier Reef dying off because the ocean temperatures are rising. They also had a pretty balanced panel commenting on the Supreme Court vacancy hearing today.

Then it was time for dinner and Jeopardy, followed by Wheel of Fortune. Tradition!

I usually leave right after dinner because I’m tired and I don’t want to get involved in the evening TV watching. Tonight I was getting my things together when their friend Chacko called. Chacko is part of the 10 am community at the Mission and a regular on Thursday afternoons at the coffee shop. He’s at least 10 or 15 years younger than most of the Thursday crew but he was calling to tell them his back has gone out and he won’t be going tomorrow. He apologized for missing the funeral Mass too. We all commiserated, then he signed off and I headed out. My father said, as he often does, ‘Drive with care, everywhere!’

 

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.

good things – people mostly

This past year has been one of much sadness and tears. On top of that, I’ve never been a fan of the Christmas season. The days are shorter and the ubiquitous ‘buy’ messages everywhere are cloaked in false bonhomie. Feh.

So it was with a bit of surprise the other day when I found myself thinking of all the good things that are in my life now. Jeremy, Sarah, Ashley, Rosalie, Noah, Mom & Dad. Teresa and Jane, my two sisters who live nearby and keep checking on me. Tom, Mary and Tim, my brothers and sister who live further away but I treasure them as well. Rose, my neighbor who is also my best friend. Allyson and Dave, Noah’s Mom & Dad.

Work is going ok, too. I got through SoundBox with only a couple of glitches and the show got great reviews. There is a great group of Local 16 people that I get to work with at Davies Symphony Hall. All are competent and congenial. I hate to name names because I would leave someone out but Hal and Gus are my long-time compatriots in the Sound Department and extra special to me. JJ, the unquestioned head of Davies stagehands, always willing to share his knowledge. In management, Michele stands out among many fine people.

Of course, many of these people were in my life before Zach was killed but the experience of losing him has made that which is left more precious.  Merry Christmas!

‘Thank you for your service.’

Veteran’s Day. I’ve been out on Facebook already this morning and seen this phrase, or variations of it, quite a few times. So I’ve got something to say about that and being that this is my blog, darn it, I’m going to say it.

Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are when this sentiment gets thrown around the most, but we see many other examples throughout the year of this. I think it was one or two Sundays ago that I noticed the NFL football games had some kind of ‘Thank you for your service’ theme. For the most part I just let it slide but today I’m going to rant about it.

What bugs me is that the implication of this phrase is that it is referring to the military performing some kind of ‘service’ that is worthy of this kind of adulation. We’ve been set up to think that this is a superior kind of service to our country. Yes, men and women in the military have sacrificed their lives and limbs in war. But we have to recognize that there are other forms of service that are just as valid. Is Jeremy performing less of a service to our country by being a firefighter and never having been in the military? Is Ashley or Jane performing less of a service to our country by teaching our children and never having been in the military? Is Teresa performing less of a service to our country by being a nurse and never having been in the military? No.

And there are many people who do time in the military who are never near the front lines and whose lives are never in any more danger than any other American. My uncle Pat was in the Army during World War II and he drove a supply truck behind the lines. My brother Tim served in the Army during the first Gulf War. He went to Iraq and was a guard at a prison compound. As far as I know, he never fired a shot in anger nor was he ever shot at by enemy troops. Tim, if I got this wrong, please tell me.

The point is that while the military is an organization designed to kill people for the state, the part that actually does the killing is relatively small. And nowadays we have soldiers sitting in air conditioned room playing video games (running drones) for their service – killing people for the state.

So I think we should talk about what service we really want to value in our country. I remember reading about the ancient Greek city states in school. Athens, where democracy reigned supreme, and warlike Sparta, where everyone was a soldier. My takeaway from that was that ultimately Sparta failed because democracy was good and war was bad. Now here in America we have a kind of democracy but we are also very war like. It pains me that we don’t value forms of service to our country that don’t involve killing people or blowing things up.

Jeremy, Ashley, Jane, Teresa, thank you for your service!

loss

My sister wrote me an email today with a quote in it from a book she’s been reading. She said it made her think of me ‘and others close to me that have lost loved ones’.

She stood quite still. Late people do not altogether leave us, she thought; they are still with us in memories such as that, wherever we are, no matter what time of day it was or how we were feeling, they were there, still shining the light of their love upon us.

     — Alexander McCall Smith  in The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

 

I believe my sister is without guile. She loves me and I love her unconditionally. So it troubled me that this quote does not move me. It has troubled me that most of my family does not seem to be affected by the death of Zach. This of course is grossly unfair. They did not see me weeping, as I did a few minutes ago, alone in my apartment. How do I know they do not grieve similarly? And what right do I have to determine how they, or anyone else, grieves Zach?

Well I wanted to write a response that is respectful of her feelings yet also representative of mine so I thought of the Ursula LeGuin book The Lathe of Heaven. It has quotes at the beginning of each chapter that have to do with time and permanence. Actually it was this book that began my interest in Chinese philosophy, in particular the writing of Chuang Tzu.

Sadly, no quotes seemed appropriate for my goal. Thumbing through the book, however, I remembered the story of the man who dreamed changes in the world. He has a wife he loves but loses her in the dream changes. At the end he finds her again and when I read that I started crying.

It’s a book I’ve kept in my library for years through many winnowings, partly through sentiment because of the introduction it provided to what is now my core philosophy. It’s a good book, not a great one. Arguably it’s a sentimental ending.

So why cry over the ending? It made me think of the last time I cried like that. A couple of weeks ago, the promo track for the Broadway show ‘Jersey Boys’ came up on my MP3 player in the car. It has snippets of the hits from the ’60s by the Four Seasons. Good, not great, I suppose, would apply as well. But there I was, driving on the freeway, crying my eyes out.

Zach had no connection that I know about to either the book or the tunes. I wasn’t thinking of Zach before I started crying. Thus the mystery of grief.

To go back to Teresa’s quote, I do not have any feelings of Zach watching over me. Indeed, one of the confusing things about the last couple of months has been a lack of feeling of Zach as presence. I’ve set aside his phone and ipad and given up on converting his texts. With one exception I haven’t read in his journals for quite a while now. I suppose you could call my arrangement on my dresser a kind of a shrine. (See the post ‘reaction’ at http://thezachproject.us/index.php/2016/07/20/reaction/ for a picture.) I do look at that every day and sometimes I just can’t connect to the idea of Zach as a living person. It puzzles me and perhaps that is contributing to my depressed state.

Here is a bit of Chuang Tzu via Thomas Merton’s ‘The Way of Chuang Tzu’:

“The Master came at the right time
Into the world. When his time was up,
He left it again.
He who awaits his time, who submits
When his work is done,
In his life there is no room
For sorrow and rejoicing.
Here is how the ancients said all this
In four words:
‘God cuts the thread.’

“We have seen a fire of sticks
Burn out. The fire now
Burns in some other place. Where?
Who knows? These brands are burnt out.”

more reaction

In my post titled ‘reaction’, I remember thinking about my reaction when I started it but ended up doing mostly just a news story about the weekend. Jeremy and Ashley left on Tuesday morning and I’ve been low ever since. Actually I’ve been low ever since that Sunday when I got home.

It hasn’t helped that I’ve been working way more than I’d like to be. in the 13 days since that Tuesday, I’ve worked 11 with 2 other days being evenings only. I thought I’d be ready to get rolling right away after but that has not proven to be the case. Part of the problem is that JJ’s wife went in the hospital last weekend and I ended up working three extra days to cover for him.

I hate to say no in a case like that but at some point I’m going to have to. We are scheduled for maintenance work all this week and next followed by a week of shows followed by possibly more maintenance work followed by the Symphony Gala week. There are a couple of holes in that schedule but not enough. JJ was supposed to be in today but he bailed to care for Amy and now he won’t be in tomorrow. I feel obligated to stick it out to help him so it’s hard. Maybe I can get out of next week . . .

I got a call from Teresa today just checking in. That made me feel better. Also I saw Dr Perry tonight so that helps as well. Onward! (Still using sleeping pills, tho’. Tried a couple of times to go without but that didn’t work.)

reaction

It’s interesting to read the generally upbeat tone of the last post from the perspective of a few days later. I had left the larger group to their activities and went off by myself, first (after breakfast) heading over to Zephyr Point where Nancy had had the bench installed. I suppose I was technically trespassing as I was not a guest there. No one challenged me and I did not stay long. I was well familiar with the conference center layout and went right to it.

It’s a lovely spot and a lovely bench. The day was the best that Tahoe could offer:

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I drove on up the east side to Incline Village, got some lunch and headed down the hill to the Kents in Grass Valley, where I spent a good couple of hours just talking. Then to my brother Tom’s, where the foothill Woods were gathering.

That was very nice. I especially enjoyed watching the cousins play together. We stayed the night at Tom’s and got up early the next day to have breakfast with our former neighbor Patsy. Originally I wasn’t going to go since Nancy was going to be there and I didn’t want to harsh anyone’s buzz. The children prevailed upon me and in the end it was fine. We were both on our best behavior. After breakfast, Emily & Linda loaded their stuff in my car and I took them back to SF to fly home.

All that went well. I felt pretty normal most of the time; no big weepies or anything. I knew I was going to need a nap when I got home. Both nights away had been really short. So the three hour nap Sunday afternoon didn’t surprise me but going to bed again at 8:30 and sleeping to 6 am did. Then Monday morning after I did laundry, I was really tired again and had to lay down some more. I had driven 625 miles by myself from Friday at noon to Sunday at noon with a total of 8 hours sleep.

Jeremy was coming back from Grass Valley and Teresa had a big dinner planned but I was logy the whole afternoon. Finally after they called to say they were there at Teresa’s, I walked over without enthusiasm.

Before I even got in the front door, I was hit with a 3 1/2 year old lightning bolt named Rosalie who doesn’t do sadness. So that was good. We had a wonderful evening. Rosalie wanted to go to the beach and Ashley wanted to go to the pier to look for whales again. Luckily, there is beach near the pier. The whales were still putting on a show and Rosalie played in the sand and watched the birds and fisherfolk. Then we came back and ate and visited some more.

The next morning we saw the Georgia folks off to the airport from Teresa’s. Jane took them in her van. We got one last photo then I headed home for more laundry and cleaning up. Nancy had wanted the oak box that held Zach’s ashes for these last few months so it was gone.

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I put Hobbes in my bedroom next to Poochie and took the dead flowers out to Rose’s little Zach garden and laid them there.

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I don’t feel sadness so much as I’m just really tired. I’m going back to work today so we’ll see how that goes. I had agreed to work on Friday which would have made four straight long days working. The thought of that was making me weak so I bailed out of that one. Hopefully I can keep it together for today and tomorrow and recover on Friday.