Monthly Archives: February 2017

Tom’s visit

Tom Kent came down to my house over the weekend. He’s going all around pimping his new CD to radio stations and club owners. Not so incidentally, he’s playing his music for more people than ever.

Yesterday we went to the San Gregorio General Store to see Jay Howlett and Rolfe Wyer play. Actually, Tom had an agreement with Jay to let him play a few of his own songs plus he got to sit in and play some solos with Jay and Rolfe. It all went really well. I hadn’t seen Jay for quite a while even though he lives in Pacifica. We go back to our freshman year in high school and did some catching up yesterday.

Rolfe and Jay both encouraged me to return any time and sit in. They play there the last Sunday of each month so I’ve got that in my calendar now. I would try to learn some of Jay’s songs except he has so many and he follows the Grateful Dead mode of playing what seems right at the moment. Tom did great just listening and filling in so I should be able to do something similar. He’s got self confidence where I have fears, tho’. Another thing to work on.

Saturday night, Tom played me a demo of one of his new songs and we had some good conversation working on ways to improve it.

Not really germane to the story of this weekend, but about my music, is that tonight is the Skyline jazz band rehearsal. Zack (Bruno, the director) has chosen a couple of tunes that feature guitar. There is another guitarist but his skill level is similar to mine so we both are going to have to step up and play some exposed parts. I’m trying to practice more . . .

Ashley and Jeremy’s move

Moving back west – specifically, nearer to the mountains – has been Jeremy’s dream ever since he found himself settled in Georgia after graduating from college. With a wife who had never been out of the Eastern time zone, he had some convincing to do.

This he has done. They announced their impending move to the world – well, FaceBook, which is the same thing – the other day. At first I didn’t feel the need to write about it here but Jeremy’s words in their announcement kept going through my head.

It’s a risk worth taking, to have a life worth living. Our new chapter begins in June.

Poignant and powerful. They don’t have jobs yet, but they are betting on themselves to succeed. What could be finer?

Naturally, they will have help. I will be driving out with Jeremy with their household goods while Ashley searches for jobs and housing in Washington. Other family members will help there with Rosalie.

Nevertheless, it is a huge leap of faith, arguably at a time when faith in our country has been severely shaken. I cannot say how much I admire them for this act of courage.

Bereavement group

I went to the South City bereavement group yesterday. I had gone quite a bit last year but fell away from it last fall. The regular facilitator, Tracie, wasn’t there which disappointed me. I felt she was a big reason why the group was successful. I remembered about half of the people there from before. One woman whose 15 year old son jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge was approaching the second anniversary. Everyone else had lost a parent or partner to age or illness.

I guess I was in a manic phase, because when it my turn to speak, after narrating the bald facts of Zach’s death, I spoke about Rosalie and her positive approach to life. At no point was I near tears as many others were when telling their story.

It struck me that some who were long time attendees were perhaps thinking too much about the past and not enough about the future. It sounds cold but I am only speaking in relation to me. Their grief is theirs and it is not for me to prescribe their reaction to it.

Anyway, I think I will probably never return to that group. It was important to me for a while and I fully respect what they are doing. Indeed, in my talks with two new therapists in the last week, I credited the group with some key insights. In fact, I mentioned that to the group as well yesterday. The idea that we have to reinvent ourselves after a death was one I got from them. I would even go so far as to say that’s a key concept behind this blog.

Speaking of therapy, I had my last session with Dr Perry and my first with J, the MFT, this week. Maybe my manic phase was due to my three therapy appointments hard upon one another. It nice to have someone listen to you! I’ll give J another session or two before deciding whether to continue. I didn’t get the instant comfort level that I did with Dr Perry but the circumstances are different now. She is young but treated me seriously. At one point she made reference to her own depression so there may be depths there that I haven’t seen yet.

(I’ve never been sure about the issue of identifying people in this blog. In general I’ve stayed away from last names in case somebody is looking through these posts for identification clues. I don’t ask anyone if they object to my writing about them. I guess if you do, you have to tell me. I strive to be respectful but I will always be honest.)

Zach on Powder by Jeremy

Jeremy wrote a lovely response to my last post but I want to elevate the meat of it to top billing. Here’s a partial quote:

Zach was quite the cynic when it came to animals. He was a guest in my home probably more often than anyone else in the lifespan of one Powder Lucifer Wood, the kitten I adopted (at Ashley’s behest) in 2006, right before she and I got engaged. Powder got his first name from his snow-white fur, but the middle name is an accurate reflection of his personality, and Zach had a couple of memorable one-liners about his enmity for my cat.
On one visit, when Powder was only a few months old, he was to sleep on a futon in the downstairs (this was prior to Ashley and I moving in together). I offered to take the futon, telling him that the cat sometimes liked to play at night and he said not to worry about it, it wouldn’t bother him.
Late in the afternoon the next day, he looked sideways at Powder, then looked at me and said flatly “You’re sleeping on the futon tonight.”

Another time a few years later, he arrived at our house on Laurel Haven. As Powder often does when strangers enter the house, he greeted Zach with his trademark hiss/growl combination. Zach grinned sardonically and, with perfect aplomb, put on his Sean Connery voice and said “Once again, we play our dangerous game, with our old adversary.” (That’s a line from The Hunt for Red October, one of his and my favorite movies). I went out of my skull with laughter.


The Symphony played Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet tonight. They didn’t play the whole thing – it was the second half of the program – but they played 45 minutes of it. I had forgotten how much I liked that piece. It took me back to my days of working American Ballet Theater (ABT) at the Opera House. They would come in every February for two weeks. It was promoted by the Opera so the Opera department heads would get the call to do the shows. That wasn’t a sure thing for me back in those days so it they were very welcome when they came.

MTT didn’t really do it like a ballet. His tempos were all over the place, but in a good way. It sounded very romantic to me tonight. Of course I’m just listening over a speaker in the lighting control room so it’s not close to the real experience. I suppose I should go out in the hall tomorrow and listen.

And Sarah is in the band! It never fails to give me enormous pride at seeing her up there.

I did have a rather strange trip down memory lane tonight, though. I saw that one of the sections being played was the death of Tybalt. It took me back to the night our cat, Tybalt, died. I was alone in the Suisun house. Nancy had moved out several months before. Tybalt had been very ill for some weeks and we all knew that the end was near. One day I went to work in the morning and didn’t come home until pretty late, 11 or so . He was right where I had left him, in the living room, cold.

All the emotions of the previous months came washing over me and I remember sitting by myself for at least an hour at the dining room table sobbing and telling Tybalt’s body ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.’ over and over. But I texted the kids and Sarah responded. We had a kind of conversation in the midst of my tears. She comforted me.

And I knew I had saved the text so I looked in my (new) phone for a text that was 6 1/2 years ago. It wasn’t there, but upon scrolling back to look I did happen to see this picture of Jeremy, Sarah and Zach taken at the wedding of their cousin Sean in August 2015. They all look so happy and healthy . . .

. . . then I got all weepy again.


I drove to Yosemite yesterday. It was 8 hours of driving for about 6 hours in the park but totally worth it.

Rose had mentioned a while ago that she was interested – apropos the NPS 100th anniversary last year – in seeing National Parks, so I asked her a couple of weeks ago if she wanted to see Yosemite. She was thrilled with the idea but as it came closer I was not so sure. There was a big storm predicted for Sunday in the evening and I had to work (1 am) late the night before.

We went anyway and it worked out great. It was cloudy all day and we only got rained on a little. I took pictures but for the most part they were crappy. Our first stop was the Tunnel Overlook where busloads of tourists emulated Ansel Adams. Here’s my version.

Later at the Ansel Adams store I bought a post card with his version. I’m not going to put it here.

We tried to go at least to the bridge below Vernal Falls but the parking lot was full. Yosemite Falls’ trail was severely reduced due to ice on some of the foot bridges. Everywhere we went, there was evidence of the recent flooding. This is just below Yosemite Falls.

Finally, towards the end of the day, we made it back to Bridalveil. I hadn’t gone in there earlier because that parking lot was full. Rose finally got the experience of getting slammed with spray from a big waterfall. There’s nothing like it!

All day long I was trying to remember the last time I had been there. All the scenery coming in on Highway 120 felt familiar to me but it turned out the last time I was there was in May 2003. Only 14 years ago! My best memory is going up the 4 mile trail to Glacier Point. The trail had only just opened the day before and there were a couple of dicey spots. One of them caused Sarah and Nancy to turn around but the boys and I persisted and we were rewarded with being the first ones at the top on a spectacular day. Here’s a taste:

And earlier, a little lower on the trail:


Buzzing around some previous entries I find some loose ends. One has to do with the work weekend in May. Ally and Noah are coming to join us in North Carolina! That means I won’t be driving to Cincinnati which simplifies things. I’m still waiting to hear from others attending whether it’s better for me to fly to Charlotte or Atlanta.

In other travel news, I am now planning to attend the 100th birthday of my cousin Leni Hangauer in Germany in August. Mary Beth and I will be going together. Besides the party, which includes seeing all the German relatives, the only thing I really want to do is visit the grave of Franz. We are planning on two weeks so there will be more.


So much in my mind while driving, then so little when I get home. Actually, lots when I get home but it’s all action items: laundry, lunch, email, texts (occasionally), real mail, bills. Some of it involves sitting down at the computer and the blog site is always there, waiting.

This morning I went to see a psychiatrist. My regular therapist, a psychologist, is moving and closing her practice here in the Bay Area. A couple of weeks ago, when I was making appointments, I was in a downward trend so I thought I should at least look into the idea of medication for depression, thus the psychiatrist.

By the time today actually rolled around I was feeling pretty decent. I worked one night, Tuesday, since last weekend and I’ve gotten a lot done that’s been hanging fire for a while. Not only my laundry and groceries, but my taxes and a visit to Mom & Dad’s.

So I told the psychiatrist my sad story and cried a little, remembering, but I didn’t feel hopeless, panicked, suicidal, or any of those other symptoms she was looking for. My only major symptom now is I’m still having trouble sleeping. She said I could start a low dose of a different medication from what I had (some years) before but I could see her heart wasn’t in it. Neither was mine, so we parted amiably with a promise to be in touch if anything changed.

I have one more session with Dr Perry, with another one scheduled with another therapist – only an MFT this time – next week. It’s good to talk with someone but I believe equally important is the usual stay healthy rules: eat well, get enough sleep, exercise. I’m renewing my commitment to reduce my work hours and do more for myself. Stay tuned.


I just finished seven straight days with SoundBox and I’m struggling to write something. Hopefully I can do better tomorrow. I didn’t expect to have to work today but circumstances Saturday night dictated it. It turned out to be a satisfying although tiring day. A colleague from my Opera days was on the call and he expressed sympathy to me for the loss of Zach. We were both busy and he could have just said hi but he stepped up and I really appreciated it. Thanks, Frank!

bringing it all back

Heading into another SoundBox week, I wanted to make a post today but I’ve been avoiding it. Usually avoiding things involves rummaging around on FaceBook. Jeremy shared a post by the company who did the Z Wood graphic at UREC. They put in a lovely statement:

We didn’t have the pleasure of meeting this young man Zach Wood but judging by those who did, we missed out on knowing a great human being. It was our honor to donate this small tribute to him on behalf of LSU University Recreation (UREC). Life truly is fleeting and we should never take a single day for granted.
Zach never did

Also in the post was a link that I didn’t recognize. It was an article remembering Zach from the LSU newspaper.

It brought it all back.