Plus Ca Change

Perhaps one of the more revealing emails that I have received over the past few years included this image of a man and a little girl.

I met Gail Anderson fifty-one years ago. She sent me this email recently, saying that for her it represented a relationship that we had in 1968. She was eight; I was twenty-one..

I met Gail Anderson fifty-one years ago. She sent me this email recently, saying that for her it represented a relationship that we had in 1968. She was eight; I was twenty-one..

Many years ago Jadyne and I took our kids to Hawaii.  We were sitting around a hotel open-air fireplace one cool evening when we overhead a conversation between a father and his daughter.  They had been snorkeling when he lost sight of her.  “Dad,” she said, “You needn’t worry about me.  I was fine, I’m thirty-five!”  He replied, “You don’t understand.  I’m your father!”  Some things simply don’t change.

When Jennifer was 21 she went to Bangkok and traveled around Asia for about fifteen months, living in virtually every country for a month or so.  We were worried about her so Jadyne and I, after realizing that she wouldn’t be home by Christmas, wanted to confirm for ourselves that she was okay, so we agreed to meet her in April in Hanoi.  When I saw how comfortable she was in dealing with the Vietnamese in the markets and hotels our respective roles reversed.  She was now in charge, as she knew more about bargaining, traveling, and simply getting along in Asia than I did.  I realized subconsciously that this signified not only a growth in her but also a real change in our relationship, and that I could put away my worries and fears about her being able to manage in these circumstances. I could rely on her experience to provide advice.  But, as I began to recognize that she had grown into a capable and independent young woman, and second, that in Vietnam our roles had switched, I was (and am), still her father. C’est la meme chose.

My relationship with my two brothers—Jack in Cincinnati and Bill, who lives just five minutes away, has changed over the years.  I was the youngest of three, and even though Bill was a stepbrother, the age difference when we were growing up was the biggest factor in our relationship. That was especially true with Jack, my “real” brother.  Now that we are all grown up the age difference is irrelevant, and what has determined or affected how we relate to each other has more to do with our understandings of who we are today. And by “who we are” I’m referring to our interests..  I have become closer to my stepbrother while maintaining a closeness with my “real” brother.

Jadyne spent two days with her high school friends in Sonoma, which she does once or twice a year.  These are girls (women) who were close in high school. They still enjoy each other’s company for a night once a year or so.  They can talk, but they have less in common today than when they were little Catholic schoolgirls with common interests and experiences. Relationships are living things, susceptible to change in so many ways, especially when people see each other frequently.

Marriages break up.  The couple has grown (or not), and in either case the relationship changes.  Some remain in those relationships “for the kids” even when the love is gone and the relationship has stagnated or failed to meet the changing needs of one or the other. In more successful marriages the couple embraces, accepts, or adjusts to the inevitable changes, and the changes enhance the relationship.

And that brings me back to the photo. Eight year old Gail will be sixty this year. Twenty-one year old David will be seventy-three. Because we haven’t seen each other for almost a quarter of a century our relationship hasn’t evolved the way others might.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Fifty years ago she needed someone like me.  And fifty years ago I needed someone like her.  I was the youngest of three brothers.  I never had a sister.  She was that little sister.  We still write to each other occasionally, mostly about our kids, our grandchildren, and the everyday comings and goings in our lives. We’re friends, maintaining a friendship and relationship that began fifty-one years ago, and even though we’re both grandparents, the foundation of our relationship is still frozen in the image of the little girl holding onto her doll and the man who soothes and comforts her.

Plus Ca Change Plus La Meme Chose

Totally Useless Photo Information

Unlike most amateur cameras, professional cameras have the ability to shoot photos as jpegs (useful for the internet, Facebook, etc.) or RAW (images that contain all the information that the sensor in the camera can pick up).  RAW images make the best enlargements, although they take up so much space on a card in the camera or on a desktop that they can be unwieldy.

I always shoot RAW just in case I’m fortunate enough to capture an image that is so good that I would either want to sell it, print it, or, simply make it look as good as I can make it.

All images can be adjusted by software, but in the case of RAW images, the photographer’s ability to make the most out of an image is only limited by the software.  As improvements take place in software, RAW images that were processed by inferior or older software enjoy a second life.

And so it is with Adobe’s Lightroom, perhaps the most useful and comprehensive software editing program.  Recently, Adobe introduced a new tool called “enhancement” that can only be applied to RAW images taken with a few cameras, one of which is my Nikon D 850.  Here is an image processed in Lightroom. adding the enhancement feature, which Adobe claims improves the RAW image as much as 30%.

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Of course, how good it looks also depends on your computer, phone, or iPad screen.  I currently have 69,173 images stored on my computer, all of which can be enhanced by Lightroom better than they could have been last year, the year before, or 2003 when I first bought a digital camera.

Some photographers pour over old images, knowing that they can be improved. I confess that I occasionally do that, too. But for me, I’m primarily interested in the next image. It’s the shooting itself, the hunting, what photographers call “captures” that I live for. I have a formatted card in my camera. I’m ready.

Antar

Yesterday it rained.  It was also the first of the month.  People have money and they don’t want to get wet, so it was predictably slow at the Berkeley Food Pantry where I’ve been volunteering for the past eight years, providing food once a month to those who are willing to wait an hour or so for some meat, dairy, a few cans of soup or peaches, fresh bread and produce..  We’re open between 2 and 4 MWF, and during one of the quieter moments close to 4:00 yesterday I sat outside where the clients wait for their name to be called.  On busy days it’s a real wait.  Yesterday, by 3:00 there was no one.  Or one.  Antar.  Antar had gotten his food and was chomping on a bagel when I began chatting with him.  We discovered that we had both attended Burlingame HS, although I was a senior when he was a freshman.  Somehow the conversation turned to the guitar, and we both expressed our love for playing. 

He said, “I have about 600 videos on YouTube”, and gave me his nom de guitar, “Antarblue.” I looked him up, and found this version of “Misty.” Rock, jazz, it’s all there. He’s good.

He said, “I have about 600 videos on YouTube”, and gave me his nom de guitar, “Antarblue.” I looked him up, and found this version of “Misty.” Rock, jazz, it’s all there. He’s good.

W know next to nothing about our clients. We check to make sure that they live in Berkeley or Albany, but there are no additional requirements. We don’t ask for proof of income (or lack thereof), marital status, or any personal information. We do make exceptions for the homeless. They get food, period.

Sarah Robinson records the clients’ names on a sign-in sheet. One day she wrote down, “Jeff Borowiak.” Here’s Jeff when he was a bit younger.

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“Jeff Borowiak (born September 25, 1949) is a former professional tennis player from the United States, who won five singles and three doubles titles during his professional career, reaching a career-high ATP singles ranking of World No. 20 in August 1977.” Wikipedia

Sarah asked, “What happened?” Jeff replied, ‘Sometimes things don’t always work out.” Jeff needed food.

Here’s Charlie Musselwhite, the Grammy-nominated blues harmonica player:

Charlie hasn’t been in, but his steel guitar player lives in Peoples Park in Berkeley, has played with dozens of famous musicians, and used to come in monthly for food for himself and for his friends.  You don’t have to be famous to get food, just hungry.

Charlie hasn’t been in, but his steel guitar player lives in Peoples Park in Berkeley, has played with dozens of famous musicians, and used to come in monthly for food for himself and for his friends.

You don’t have to be famous to get food, just hungry.

When a Boy Becomes a Man

This morning I updated my Tesla Model 3 with the software that crossed over my wifi system last night and found this, buried among a handful of bug fixes that make the ventilation system run more smoothly.

I tried it out today, running through the seven different fart sounds that the engineers at Tesla created, then shared with those of us who have plopped down the many thousands of dollars we plopped for the privilege of being green or being cool, or whatever motivated us to do what we do to own a Tesla.

I confess.  I can’t remember laughing out loud.  Ever.  I like to believe that I have a sense of humor, that I love the New Yorker’s cartoons and short articles called “Shouts and Murmurs”, that I find that irony often amuses me.  I laugh inside, but I just don’t guffaw, snort, or make noises.  I love to listen to music, too, but it doesn’t move me to dance.  Perhaps that’s because I’m a really shitty dancer, but I can be moved inwardly, I can dance without actually flailing my arms and legs.  I can still do the Twist and the Stroll

With the update, though, you see a cartoon whoopee cushion on the giant screen in the center of the dashboard, and because it’s a touch screen you can move the cushion to whichever seat in the car you choose.  Once placed you can choose from the seven different fart sounds:

  • Not a Fart: A two-part toot.

      1. rts Ripper: As the name implies, an extremely short sound. Good for turn signals.

        • A slam on Tesla stock short sellers, who Musk regularly trolls.

      2. Falcon Heavy: Aptly named and powerful.

        • Named after the SpaceX rocket that launched Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster into orbit.

      3. Ludicrous Fart: A long, victorious display of windy harmony.

        • Named after Tesla's high-performance acceleration setting, Ludicrous Mode.

      4. Neurastink: A generic fart sound effect.

        • One of the more indistinguishable companies that Musk fronts, NeuraLink .

      5. Boring: Rumbly.

        • Another play on The Boring Company .

      6. I'm so random: Literally picks one of the above fart sounds at random.

The sound is generated from speakers placed near the seat where the Whoopee cushion is placed on the screen and activated either by the turn signal or by a rotary knob on the steering wheel.  So, just as someone enters the car, the driver has the world at his fingers.

Confession. As I drove down I-80 to pick up the Christmas Honey-Baked Ham I hit the litle knurled knob on the steering wheel, with sound set to “I’m so random.” Over and over again. I disproved my theory. I can, absolutely can, laugh out loud.

In an hour I’m driving to two different elementary schools to pick up three of my grandchildren, ages 9, 8, and 6.  I wish I could record their faces when they sit down.

So, to answer my question, “When Does a Boy Become a Man?” In my case, never.

Happiness

After seeing this video I started to think about what happiness is to me.  I began by looking at what others had to say, and several comments and graphic designs with messages superimposed resonated.  The rodent in the video sought happiness through external means, none of which leads to real happiness.  The wages of sin, it is said, is death.  And so it is for the rodent in this video, falsely believing  that the pursuit of happiness comes from without.

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Some of the screen shots that I found dealt with happiness in a different way, one isn’t as deep or so relevant .  “Happiness is having what you want and wanting what you have,” and a variation of that, “Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time; it’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it.”

The more spiritual nature of happiness has nothing to do with things. It is a choice that comes from within, that, as Buddha is reported to have said, “that it doesn’t depend on what you have or who you are, but what you think.”

Apart from what spiritual leaders think, I am happy when I’m doing something for someone. Whether it’s washing dishes in the men’s shelter on Center Street before breakfast or a comment from a friend thanking me for something. This happiness works both ways. Sometimes it’s something I’ve said or done; sometimes it’s what was said or done for me. It’s all one. I have friends whose presence in my life simply makes me happy.

Though happiness is a choice, a decision, the path to happiness means overcoming obstacles, some of which are insurmountable.  I spend part of three days dealing with the homeless.  It’s easy to choose happiness when you have a roof over your head, when you’re well fed, in good health, have companionship and love.  When your pillow is a rolled-up sweatshirt in a concrete doorway it’s a different story.  You don’t have the opportunity to make the choice to be happy because your growling stomach is loud. and your dirty threadbare jacket can’t keep out the cold.  For some happiness is as unlikely a prospect in their lives as a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. 

One of those avoidable obstacles is the smartphone. “Whether it’s someone you’ve never met or it’s friends and family, spending time with people face to face is linked with happiness.” Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology. Some estimates of smartphone use suggest that the average person touches his phone over two thousand times a day. That means that two thousand times a day he isn’t seeking social interaction, trying to understand other people and other perspectives.

Maybe the focus shouldn’t be on being happy, but on the acceptance that so much of what we feel, who we are, and what we do, are decisions that come from within.  In George Bush’s funeral his son said that, “hate corrupts the vessel that contains it.”  Perhaps choosing to love, to do good, to be useful to others, activities which enrich and strengthen that vessel, ultimately make it possible to overcome those obstacles, to achieve real happiness.

 

Christmas

As a boy Christmas was pure magic.  The official beginning of Christmas took place when we cut down the tree, plugged in the lights, (replacing the six or seven bulbs that gave up the ghost during the year), retrieved the boxes of ornaments, placing them in no prescribed order.  We still have a little round ornament onto which I glued sparkles with the name “David”, I think from as far back as Cub Scouts.  We have ornaments that Teeny made, that the kids created, that we’ve bought during our travels, funny ornaments that mean little (an alligator) or some that simply reflect who we are, such as a camera and a guitar for me.

But that is now.  We’re repeating today what we all did sixty years ago, although with our kids grown and gone, it’s really not the same.  Sixty years ago we went to All Saints Episcopal Church for the evening service on Christmas Eve.  Johnny Schmidt had already opened his presents, which I always thought was a terrible mistake.  What did he have to look forward to tomorrow?  My mother once said that the worst Christmas she ever had was the one where she opened a closet door and discovered all her gifts, leaving her nothing to look forward to Christmas morning.

I mostly remember singing the traditional carols on Christmas Eve, everyone joining in, standing next to my mother, who only sang on key about as often as a stopped clock tells the real time.   When the service ended we piled in the Gray Ghost, our 1953 Ford Sedan, headed home, and I climbed into bed, waiting for the arrival of Santa.  Of course we left a cookie or two on our fireplace mantle.  Its disappearance the next morning was the first sign that Santa had made it safely to 6210 Ridge Avenue.  Had he remembered to bring me my Mattel Burp Gun?  Did he bring enough roll caps so that I could shoot up the Post Office the next day?  Did I get the Stallion .45 caliber pistol with the interchangeable black and white handles?  Seeing the extraordinary array of wrapped presents below the tree gave no hint as to who got what or what was contained inside.  I knew what was in at least two presents.  I had bought $.99 45 rpm records for both my brothers, records that I wanted for myself, rationalizing that they might like them, too. 

Since we had all gone to church the night before we didn’t have to accompany Dad as he led the sparsely attended Christmas morning service, returning home to a late  brunch of eggs, bacon, toast, and of course my mother’s delicious sour cream coffee cake. I wolfed down breakfast, anxiously waiting for everyone else to finish, so we could attend the main event—the opening, appreciating, and lamenting the wrong toys, contained within the gaily wrapped packages.

In the evening we drove to my Aunt Helen’s house where all my mother’s family gathered, had dinner, then once again repeated the entire ceremonious unwrapping of gifts, oohing and aahing, insincerely thanking our aunts, uncles and cousins, listening while my Uncle Andrew told tasteless and cruel Polish jokes, which none of us understood anyhow.  And that was Christmas.  Then.

We always had a Christmas tree, usually purchased at a lot. We’ve saved ornaments, too, and they mean more each year. This is one I made with my name on it. I put glue on it, then sparkles to make the letters. It’s probably sixty-five years old.


David

David

Part II was a repeat of Part I, except we’ve never been churchgoers, so the carols were out.  (I miss that part).  The kids all went to bed early.  We left ketchup and oranges for Santa.  (I insisted that he loved ketchup).

We still had brunch, and Jadyne learned how to duplicate my mother’s sour cream coffee cake.  And we still had presents.  Here are two color slides taken on Christmas morning that echo in Jason the feelings that we all had (or have).  I’ve always meant to print these together and call them, “Different Presents.”

Present 1.jpg
Present 2.jpg

But Christmas for the five Buchholzes were not without other memories as well.

Teeny made this in 1985

Teeny made this in 1985

So now, 2018, we don’t even celebrate Christmas on Christmas.  With families scattered from El Cerrito to Sacramento, we find a time where everyone can be together.  This year it’s December 22nd, and we’ll host six adults, six grandchildren, and all will be as it was when we were growing up and when our children were growing up.  For our adult children and their spouses, though, they will celebrate Christmas on Christmas, with their own families of four, in their own houses, at their own times, and in their own ways.

Jadyne and I will be at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, walking along the beach, or perhaps at Point Lobos, near Carmel, celebrating Christmas privately, giving thanks for the celebration three days earlier, for our families, our health, for the love we have for each other.  And we will remember, that although we don’t attend church or raise our voices to heaven, that the message that Jesus brought two thousand years earlier still resonates, and for that we will give thanks.

Zhongbing

Zhongbing. He’s at the Ancient Szechuan Restarant in El Cerrito with his wife and the female half of his twins.

YaZheng, Ziyan, and Zhongbing

YaZheng, Ziyan, and Zhongbing

Zhongbing is my current “CP” or Conversational Partner. A couple of years ago Jadyne saw on the Kensington kiosk a request for volunteers to pair up with graduate students from UC Berkeley who, being from foreign countries, wanted to improve their conversational English. If you think of the language in three parts—reading, writing, and speaking—many ESL learners can manage two of them. The third, speaking, is often taught by ESL teachers who don’t speak it well themselves. In China, that means that Chinese teachers, many of whom have poor conversational skills, are the ones guiding their students. Naturally, their focus is on reading and writing.

Zhonging can read and write reasonably well, but when it comes to speaking, oh me oh my. When we first met a year or so ago I couldn’t understand a word he said. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. The previous year my CP was Hao Yun, who was pursuing his second Ph.D. He already had one in Optical Engineering and felt that he needed one in Chemistry, too.

Both Hao Yun and Zhong are in their thirties, married and have children. Hao Yun spoke good English and our conversations centered on fairly sophisticated subjects—the relationship between the US and the two Koreas, elections in the US, social issues, such as abortion and homosexuality. We would walk around Berkeley looking at personalized license plates, many of which were puns, and he would try to figure them out. We might spend an hour in Andronico’s, looking at breakfast cereals and talking about what Americans eat.

Alas, Zhongbing is another story. When I first met him I couldn’t decipher a single sentence he spoke. We have English-Mandarin dictionaries on our phones, and we frequently summoned them to complete a thought. It wasn’t that Zhongbing didn’t know the word. He did. There are so many sounds in English that aren’t replicated in Mandarin, and Zhong would show me the word in the dictionary, a word we both knew, and then I would make him say it over and over again, trying to get the sound of the word right. The “V” sound in English comes out as a “W” when Zhongbing says it. When he says “very” I hear “weary.” After a year we’re making progress.

“Zhong”, I said this morning, “How many hours a week do you speak to someone else in English?” “None,” he answered. He studies, lives, and spends his time with Mandarin speakers. There are 168 hours in the week. I spend an hour with him. Not much, but it helps. He’s improved considerably in the last year.

YaZheng, however, came over for three weeks, her first visit to an English speaking country. She spoke exactly 0 words of English. And his daughter? Another story.

Here he is. Or here she is. When Jadyne first saw her she thought that she was a he.

You be the Judge.

You be the Judge.

Zhong wanted Jadyne and me to meet his family, so he hosted us all at the Ancient Szechuan Restaurant for a midday banquet highlighted by this incredible fish dish.

The tail emerges from a sea of peppers and vegetables in the front of the pan.

The tail emerges from a sea of peppers and vegetables in the front of the pan.

Jadyne has a conversational partner, too. Here we all are in front of the restaurant post-banquet.

Danesh, Celia, YaZheng Ziyan. Zhong, Jadyne, and me

Danesh, Celia, YaZheng Ziyan. Zhong, Jadyne, and me

Danesh loves to drive. He never drove in China and was scared to death to drive here. When he took his driving test he turned left into oncoming traffic at which point he was told to “Stop immediately and get out of the car.” A few weeks later he passed. Zhong, Danesh, and Celia all took their tests in Corte Madera, eschewing the El Cerrito DMV because word spread through “We Chat”, an Asian version of Facebook, that the test was easier in Corte Madera, despite the fact that it was several miles away, across a toll bridge. Danesh doesn’t speak English at all, but he loves to eat. Celia, however, lived in Australia for a year, and she’s almost fluent. She and Jadyne carry on conversations once a week for an hour, too.

Zhong and YaZheng met in college. He is a professor; she is a building designer. Zhong’s major is “Building, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.” They study and design ventilation, heating, and climate controlled systems for high rises. Zhong writes papers on subjects so obscure that I have no way of knowing what he’s talking about. I can, however, match subject and verbs, help him with parallelism, and other English grammatical tricks.

Jadyne’s brother and sister-in-law are visiting from Colorado. We’re taking them to the Ancient Szechuan Restaurant in El Cerrito. Zhongbing tonight will be our honored guest.




ZZZzzz

"Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,
That slid into my soul." 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

Sonoma County Fair

Sonoma County Fair

If you're as fortunate as Jadyne you fall asleep within five or ten minutes after you turn out the light.  We could be in mid-conversation.  I ask her a question.  "Did you hear me?"  I ask.  She responds, "ZZZZZ"

I'm not nearly as lucky.  I'm currently in a period in my life at 72 when I actually can sleep.  Not enough, but I can sleep.  By 8:00 pm I'm flat on my back with a book or my iPad in my hands; by 8:30 I make one last visit to the bathroom.  By 9:00 it's dark and so am I.  "Do you really go to bed that early?" my friends ask, incredulously.  "Yes, I do," I respond, annoyed.  "I often wake up between 3 and 4," I say, "and by 4 I'm heating hot water to warm my cup, then grinding the beans for the six cups of Peets Major Dickason blend that greet us in the morning." The SF Chronicle arrives at 4, and more than once I've heard the thud of the paper on the driveway as I stumble up the flagstone to retrieve the collection of yesterday's bad news that accompanies my first cup of morning joe.  This morning I went face-to-face with a neighborhood skunk who was emerging from the Patton's driveway.  We stared at each other, not making a move, before he slunk into the gutter that runs down the north side of Rugby Avenue.  A couple of weeks ago Jadyne was sprayed as she went to get the paper.  Several days before the smell dissipated.

But not all has gone well.  I've had periods when I've slept less than five or six hours, fatigue be damned.  I lie awake for hours, my eyes closed, the room dark and quiet, the only sound the occasional train in the distance, "It's like a crypt!" exclaimed one of our friends who spent her first night here.  No disturbances, that is none from outside.  But here am I on the inside.

Insomnia.jpeg

He's counting sheep.  That doesn't work.  Nor does counting anything.  Or playing a song in my mind on the guitar.  Or, when I used to play golf, replaying a round, shot by shot.

What does?  Well, Ambien does.  Now that the patent on the original drug has run out there's a generic equivalent called "Zolpidem."  When I was an Ambien devoteé my doctor would prescribe thirty pills at a time in 10 mg sizes.  Here's the deal with Ambien.  After two or three nights taking Ambien you think you've reset your sleep clock, paid your debt to the sleep bank.  You're rested and refreshed.  The fourth night you don't fall asleep nearly as fast.  You tell yourself, "If I had taken an Ambien I would be asleep by now."  You lie awake for another thirty minutes or so, then take another Ambien.  Presto.  You come back to bed and fall asleep.  But now you know that unless you take an Ambien, you will never get to sleep.  That's not true, of course, but you've bought into that thinking.  Now what do you do?

Dr. Dean Edell, a now retired doctor with a radio show, tells the story of a night he spent camping with his wife.  Unable to seep, Dr. Dean took an Ambien and immediately dropped off.  In the morning his wife asked, "Where's my thyroid pill?"  Never overestimate the power of placebos.  I cut a 5 mg Ambien into quarters, effectively turning them into placebos, and off I go.

Some people can sleep anywhere.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Great Barrier Reef, Australia 2003

Great Barrier Reef, Australia 2003

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

San Francisco's BART trains are the only bed for many.

We get it where we can.  People ride BART from one end of the line to the other and back again.  It's warm.  No one bothers you.

We get it where we can.  People ride BART from one end of the line to the other and back again.  It's warm.  No one bothers you.

I'm reading "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker who makes a persuasive case for eight hours of sleep every night.  He describes an incredibly powerful drug that's in front of each and every one of us.

                                                AMAZING BREAKTHROUGH

"Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer.  It enhances your memory and makes you more creative.  It makes you look more attractive.  It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings.  It protects you from cancer and dementia.  It wards off colds and the flu.  It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes.  You'll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious.  Are you interested?"  Yes, please hand it over.  I'll pay anything.  Is it legal?

It is a myth that we need less sleep as we age.  Eight to nine hours for every adult, every night.  I've been in bed for eight hours straight (not counting tugs of the bladder), but asleep?  Nein.  This is a wonderful new project for me.  Sleep.  Eight hours.  Who knew?

Millions of adults have sleep issues, the most common of which is insomnia.  There is no shortage of information available on insomnia, sleep apnea, and the myriad of other issues that beset those of us who have trouble sleeping. 

To overcome my tinnitus I was introduced to "cognitive behavioral therapy", a collection of mental and psychological exercises that are designed to help the patient deal with and overcome the triggers that made coping difficult.  I haven't enrolled in any classes that deal with insomnia, but the most promising and long-lasting treatment is, you guessed it, "cognitive behavioral therapy," mental processes that help us overcome the stressors and other issues that have led us down the path of unwanted awakeness.  

At the moment I'm doing well.  No heavy dinners, a cool bedroom, darkness, no iPad in bed, no late night cocktails, and a consistent routine, unusual as it may seem to others, that begins to shut my body down after sixteen hours and wakes it up, early though it may be, eight hours later.  Hello, 4 am, skunks, the morning Chronicle, and three cups of Peets.

 

Angels in America

Three hours and forty minutes after the lights went dim at Berkeley Rep, Jadyne and I stood to applaud the actors who had just mesmerized us with just the first half of a two part play written by Tony Kushner in the early eighties and revived and brought back to stage by Tony Taccone.

For those of that certain age who remember the AIDS epidemic, the mysterious fatal disease that was responsible for the deaths of over 7,000 people in 1985 alone, Angels in America is a somber reminder of the hopeless situation that thousands of gay Americans as well as hospitalized patients who received tainted blood transfusions faced as their friends and lovers died slow and agonizing deaths from a disease that the medical community had never seen and had no idea how to treat.  Tony Kushner, the 36 year old playwright, spent time in the mid-eighties along Sonoma County's Russian River, creating this "gay fantasia", which features gay men struck by AIDS, a heterosexual man who discovers his inner gayness, and such diverse and unexpected players as attorney Roy Cohn (who died of AIDS), and Ethel Rosenberg.  Three hours and forty minutes later, we were ready for Part II.

By June of 1987 AIDS activists began the NAMES project, a quilt to remember the names of the many thousands who died of AIDS.  To date more than 48,000 panels commemorating the many lives lost to AIDS have been created.  Two panels were on display in the lobby of the Berkeley Rep theater.

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Although AIDS hasn't disappeared from the American medical landscape drugs have been discovered to prevent the spread of HIV and to prolong the lives of those who have been infected with AIDS.  Berkeley Rep brought the play back to the stage because  the political climate that was uninterested in helping those in need (think Reagan), is so similar to the political climate that we're facing today.

Footnote.  When our son John was about ten years old he became ill, and as concerned parents we took him to the hospital.  The doctor who examined him was puzzled and called in another doctor.  The two doctors poured over John's test results.  John was there watching.  At first clearly flummoxed, the doctors conferred and came up with this conclusion:  John had been vaccinated against the Mumps, but somehow had contracted it.  Meanwhile John broke into tears.  Before the results were in I asked him, "Why are you crying?"  John's reply:  "I thought I had AIDS."

Sedona/Antelope Canyon

May Day, 2018.  Jadyne and I climbed on one of Southwest Airlines' 737s for the ninety minute flight to Phoenix where we met friend Jerry Stack for brunch before heading out in our rented Buick Regal for the two hour drive to our Air B & B in Sedona.  One of our first stops was at Bell Rock, famous for its being the center of what was purported to be a "global shift", scheduled to take place on December 21, 2012.

Bell Rock, still intact (although it wasn't predicted to be).

Bell Rock, still intact (although it wasn't predicted to be).

From the Sedona Historical Society,  "While we don’t know what may or may not happen in the next few weeks, it is fun to take a look back 25 years to the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 (days of not so yore) to see what the hoopla was all about.  If you are not conversant with New Age/New Wave, it is the moment outlined in ancient Mayan calendars to note “the precise calibration points in a harmonic scale that marks the moment when the process of global civilization climaxes.”  For those of us old enough to remember the Fifth Dimension of the 1960s, it is the “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” Sedona is one of the 12 “power points” or sacred sites worldwide.  The other points were not too shabby: Stonehenge, Mt. Olympus, the Great Pyramid, Machu Picchu, and Mt. Fuji, plus a few others not quite so notable.  The Mayan calendar marked the date, and the planets cooperated by aligning, also known as a Grand Triune.  Local believers took the event very seriously. Organizers of the “world harmony days” anticipated thousands of celebrants to rejoice in the shift from separation and fear to unity and love. Celebrations were expected from international to local levels.  In Sedona, there were hot lines of information and free newsletters to keep everyone up to date. The ultimate ritual was 7 minutes of humming at noon Greenwich time (5 a.m. Sedona time) by those actively calling in the era of peace and harmony (not easy to do -- try humming for 7 minutes).  Obviously, rumors ran rampant. A space ship would be landing on Bell Rock…Bell Rock would crack in two and the space ship would fly from Inner Earth to Outer Space.  The morning humming was to levitate Bell Rock since Bell Rock was to be the spaceship.  Devotees were dancing naked around Bell Rock (a rumor only). There even would be a human sacrifice off Apache Leap (west of Bell Rock).  Traffic along Hwy. 179 was a nightmare. Remember this was before I79 was reconfigured. Cars were parked from the Circle K northward to the “roller coaster”— do you long timers remember the beloved roller coaster on 179?  Flashlights lit the north face of Bell Rock like giant fireflies. Lights from airplanes illuminated the sky over the big red butte. There were some suggestible Bible students who said they saw the stars turn green and a group of stars around the moon change into the shape of a cross -- a sign out of Revelation.  The Forest Service counted 1,800 folks on Bell Rock, and motels logged in over 4,000 reservations in town.  That would overwhelm the available rooms even today. Three Phoenix television stations were shooting the activity at Bell Rock.  The event was great for the local economy. Crystals were for sale on every street corner. Coffee Pot Restaurant (just about the only available eating place in town) was packed from before opening to after closing. What a time!A local pundit called it a “Moronic Convergence.” Alas, had he no romance in his soul!"

Bell Rock, minutes before two unsuspecting jacket-less hikers were pelted by hail.

Bell Rock, minutes before two unsuspecting jacket-less hikers were pelted by hail.

We spent three days hiking in and around Sedona, attending the tacky souvenir shops and the art galleries, where a sculpted bear was priced at $500,000. 

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From Sedona to Flagstaff, past miles and miles of barren land belonging to the Navajos.  Highway 17 was dotted with mean little houses adorned with pickup trucks and RVs.  Along the road in numerous tents and fallen down sheds Navajos were selling, well, I don't know what they were selling, as we didn't stop.

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And then to Page, where we spent one night before our morning tour of Antelope Canyon, one of two reasons why people flock to Page, the other being its proximity to Lake Powell and its 186 miles of shoreline.

Lake Powell Marina

Lake Powell Marina

And then Upper Antelope Canyon, a heritage site on Navajo property.  To see Antelope Canyon one must register with one of five companies who lead people through the maze.  Called "Tse Bighanilini" or "the place where water runs through rocks", Antelope Canyon has seen over 100,000 visitors in the last month...and I think that they all visited there last Saturday.

"Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding.  Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways.  Over time the passageways eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic "flowing" shapes in the rock.  Flooding still occurs.  A flood occurred on October 30, 2006 that lasted 36 hours, and caused the Tribal Park Authorities to close the Lower Antelope Canyon for five months."  Wikipedia

Here is one of the hundreds of images I was able to make amidst the crowds at Upper Antelope Canyon last Saturday.  The canyon and the experience were at odds with each other,  The former was a dream; the latter, a nightmare.  Besides the number of people flooding the canyon, there are additional photographic challenges that beset amateurs unaccustomed to atypical conditions, the most important of which is the wide exposure range, often 10 EV or more, that make it impossible to render any given image properly.  Only HDR images, taken by bracketing as many as three to five exposures, allow the photographer to sandwich images to capture the darkest darks and the lightest lights.  And doing this among the hundreds of sightseers tripping over the tripod legs, required a full plate of patience.

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Check here if you're still reading this. If I were you, I wouldn't read any more.  Don't waste your time.  You have better things to do.

To further complicate matters I'm providing a link below to additional images that I've placed on my web site, including a dozen or so images from Upper Antelope Canyon.

http://www.davidkbuchholz.com/sedonaantelope-canyon-2018/

One Inch

We've all heard the term, "a game of inches."  In New York drawing flood maps is a "game of inches".  As FEMA revises the maps to account for climate change, deciding who is in the flood zone will be a battle with millions of dollars at stake.  In the Miami Open Roger Federer is "undefeated in the game of inches.  He clipped lines and found hair's breadth passing lanes to outlast a player blessed with greater youth and firepower."  And from Baseball Magazine, "Every sport is a game of inches. An inch can separate an incomplete pass from a reception, or a first down. How about that putt that stops right on the lip of the hole? In soccer, lacrosse, or hockey, a shot that hits the pipe or cross bar, rather than going into the goal, sometimes that’s just an inch as well.  And then there is that jump shot that circles the rim, endlessly spinning within the perimeter of the basket, or perhaps bouncing above it, and you are watching in agony, wondering if it will fall in or turn into a rebound?"

Sadly, for the first time in my adult life I've discovered that my weight is also a "game of inches."  And where the putt dropped, the pass was completed, the ball hit the top of the fence and bounced into the stands, my inch has brought me only despair.

BMI is an acronym for "Body Mass Index", perhaps the truest measure of the effects of poundage on the human frame.  BMI measures body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.  It measures the body weight in kilograms divided by the height in meters.  It isn't perfect.  Two people might have the same BMI, but one of the two might have more muscle and be more fit than the other.  Other techniques—MRI, glucose levels, calipers, hydrostatic weighing, blood pressure, and measuring waist-to-hip ratio, offer a precision that BMI can't.  And of course there's always "dual-energy X-ray absorptionmetry" (?)  And bone density?  Jadyne was told by her swim coach in high school that she had "dense bones and heavy muscles."  Of course BMI doesn't measure that at all.

Here's the BMI table:

I like it for the pretty colors.

I like it for the pretty colors.

Here's a BMI calculator.  I've entered my height (5'6") and my weight (157 lbs.) into the table, and this is the result"

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I thought that I was really 5' 6 and 1/2", and maybe at one time I was.  I've definitely lost that 1/2 inch though, as the years have accumulated.

I wondered how I might have fared had I been one inch taller.  Here's that table.

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According to the pretty chart my BMI would be "normal."  Yeah, at the very tippy-top of the "normal" range, but nevertheless "normal."  So here's my choice.  Either I can try to lose about seven pounds, which means fewer Kettle chips, less Chilean Malbec, only a handful of pistachios rather than the full cereal bowl I have almost every night, no butter on the popcorn, and staying away from Graeter's salted caramel ice cream....or, I can try to grow.  Just one inch.

Which is more realistic?  Lose about seven pounds or grow an inch?  It's only an inch.  Just one.  One frigging inch.  Just because we tend to grow the most in our youth does that mean that we stop growing in our seventies?  I've found some tips online that I think might help from "Grow Taller 4 Idiots."  I am that.

1)  "Breathing is very important when you are trying to grow an extra inch or two."  Noted.

2) "While getting plenty of sun helps plants to grow, it does the same for the human body."  Got it.

3) "Working out can help your body grow taller and at the same time keep you in better health." I do that.

4) "Drinking plenty of water is excellent if you are trying to grow taller." OK.

5)  "Massage is an excellent choice when trying to grow taller." Need to work on that.

6)  Maintaining proper posture is bery important when trying to appear taller." "Appear" is the operative word here.  Not helpful.

7)  "Avoiding drugs, alcohol, and nicotine is important if you want your body to grow."  Two of three isn't bad.

8)  "If growing taller is your goal, you should follow the above steps and be patient.  None of this will happen overnight." It is.  I do. I try to be. 

Stay with me.  I'll keep you posted.

 

1980

When I left Room 6 at Cardinal Newman HS in 1980 I had hoped that I could find a way to make a living in photography.  I had three more months of my yearly salary of $14,000 coming to pay the summer’s bills—the mortgage, food, and the care of three children.  I had nothing in savings, and the three months I had off from school represented my first opportunity to find work that could sustain us.

I had two irons in the fire, though.  The first was the senior portrait contract for Cardinal Newman and Ursuline High Schools.  I was able to persuade Bill Finn, the principal of Cardinal Newman, to grant me the opportunity to photograph the upcoming senior class.  Although I had no studio at that time, no lights, and little experience, I was able to turn window light at the school in one of the rooms into something that would allow me to make passable images.

The second iron never went into the fire.  Bob Moratto, a real estate mogul and parent, proposed to pay Jadyne and me salaries for five years while we mucked around trying to find a way to make an income.  At the end of those five years we could have the business appraised, and we could buy him out for half.  Five years of salaries and security were a welcome invitation, but after my attorney friend John Kemp wrote a twenty-two page partnership agreement I took it to Bob, thanked him, and told him that I couldn’t accept it.  If I did, I knew, I never would have known if I could have made it myself.  So, I threw that iron away.

This left me struggling for ways to make a living.  I had a couple of weddings on the books.  I photographed a corpse for a mother who had no photographs of her son.  I did a real estate brochure for which I had to go to small claims court to get paid.  I imagined that I could take my best art images, frame them, then sell them to interior designers or furniture stores.  I applied to work for Larry Simons, a Santa Rosa architect whose work I admired.  I failed miserably at everything.  I have said many times that “if I knew how little I knew I never would have tried at all.”  I wasn’t desperate.  Yet.

But one thing did work for me.  Through a connection I discovered that  Judi Allum,  a woman who ran a ballet school in San Leandro, a former dancer herself with the San Francisco Ballet, was looking for someone to photograph her students.  I got the job.  By then I had lights and a long roll camera back.  I knew how to take strobe light readings, and although I had no experience with ballet, I was only required to push a button once Miss Judi had posed the girls correctly.  We spent two weekends in her studio, photographing little girls.  I bought a giant wicker peacock chair as a prop.  Miss Judy did all the rest.  We were both pleased with the results. 

But Miss Judi had other plans.  For the better dancers, the more experienced girls, the ones who might have a future in ballet, Miss Judi wanted to take them outside and have me photograph them in a place where they would look so pretty—gardens, the Palace of Fine Arts, places in and around San Francisco where the costumes, the poses, and the attractive girls could show off. 

I had a different idea.  Beautiful flowers wouldn’t set off the beauty of the dancers.  But junkyards do.  I was looking for contrast.  I  tried to think of places to photograph the girls where the sets were at the opposite end of the beauty spectrum.  My first stop was Fort Point, a Civil War fort underneath the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was there that I took Denise.

Fifteen seconds later the sunlight flooded the area, and the image would have been lost.

Fifteen seconds later the sunlight flooded the area, and the image would have been lost.

I loved this image.  I thought that Miss Judi would love it, too.  When I showed her the 4x5 proofs of all the photographs I had taken that day she passed it up in a split-second.  I was puzzled.  " I really like this image," I said.  "Don't you?"  She said, "She's on flat".  Ballerinas, I learned, only look like ballerinas when they're on point.  I understood.  I also knew that it was a fabulous image regardless, and I submitted it to a magazine sponsored photo contest with a grand prize of a trip to Hawaii.  I won.  And we arrived in Honolulu one day before the biggest hurricane in fifty years.  The magazine folded with that issue.  But that's another story.

I did take the girls to the Palace of Fine Arts, built for the San Francisco 1919 Exhibition.  Here's an image from that shoot.

The girls were game for anything I wanted them to do. Judy, more reluctant at first, obliged.

The girls were game for anything I wanted them to do. Judy, more reluctant at first, obliged.

The next year I discovered that an MGM movie location scout had built an entire Western village on his property near Sebastopol.  He had filled it with movie memorabilia that he had collected over decades of work.  Here are Denise and Jeannette with the wagon that Clark Gable drove Vivien Leigh in in "Gone With the Wind."

Not your traditional ballet image.

Not your traditional ballet image.

I kept thinking about contrasts.  My last images (and alas, I saved none with the girls) were taken in a blacksmith's shop in San Francisco.  If I didn't save the images of the ballerinas, I had enough sense to photograph the blacksmith himself.

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Where would I have gone next?  A Hell's Angels rally?  I ran out of gas.  By this time my business was thriving, and I left Miss Judi's employ and Los Ayres, her studio.  Photographing the dancers  away from the artifice of lights and backgrounds gave me a much needed foundation for location portraiture. 

It''s been almost forty years.  Los Ayres is closed.  Denise, the dancer in the archway, is nearing 60.  Miss Judi, 74, has remarried and lives in San Ramon.  And me?  I'm using this blog to send Father Finn, Bob Moratto, and Miss Judi belated thank yous for believing in me.

One Year Later.

February 25, 2019. Monday afternoon. On Thursday I received a text through Facebook from one of the dancers. She said that Judi’s memory had left her, that she’d had several falls, and that she spent the last couple of years in a memory care unit. Judi died Friday morning, and her son put up a FB post in her name. Former students have put up both testimonials to Miss Judi and photographs of themselves in costume. Her son Michael posted a three minute video of Miss Judi taken last year in the memory care unit. As patients walked by in their walkers and wheelchairs Miss Judi watched Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. And as the story unfolded on the television Miss Judi did what she had done all her life. She danced.

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Once a dancer…

Once a dancer…

March 17th. Yesterday was the memorial service for Miss Judi, a two hour event at the Crosswinds Church in Livermore, punctuated by videos, testimonials, and tears.

Handing out programs

Handing out programs

A commemorative dance

A commemorative dance

The program.  For me it was coming full circle.    The three people who made it possible for me to succeed in photography, Fr. Bill Finn, Bob Moratto, and  now Judi Allum, have all passed.

The program. For me it was coming full circle.

The three people who made it possible for me to succeed in photography, Fr. Bill Finn, Bob Moratto, and now Judi Allum, have all passed.

Scott and Beth

Jadyne and I, both avid bridge players, left Santa Rosa fourteen years ago to a relatively unfamiliar community, the East Bay.  In addition to searching for competent plumbers, hardware stores, groceries, restaurants, good pizza, and the like, we needed to fill the hole in our card-playing life previously occupied by weekly bridge games with North Bay friends.

We found that the Berkeley Jewish Community Center sponsored weekly bridge games, and we joined.  It was there that we met Scott and Beth Wachenheim, a couple who had lived in a central coast area in an equine community that one of their horses came from originally and loved.  He (the horse) convinced them to escape Lafayette which was changing too fast.  They thrived there. Scott and Beth were former teachers, who had taken up residence in Berkeley and were on the same mission as we were.

Dissatisfied with the poor play at the JCC, we four broke away from the weekly bridge nights there and began our own four person bridge nights, alternating between their Creston Avenue home in Berkeley and ours on Rugby Avenue in Kensington.  We became more than bridge partners, enjoying each others’ company for dinners, sharing mutual interests, talking about our children and grandchildren, and celebrating special occasions.

We were pleased to join them for their seventieth birthdays at Greens, a vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason, San Francisco.

Scott is sitting second from left, looking away from the camera, and Beth is in maroon, just left of center.

Scott is sitting second from left, looking away from the camera, and Beth is in maroon, just left of center.

Scott has Parkinson’s disease.  In the ten years or so that we have known them we have also noticed a small decline in his physical condition.  They used to travel extensively, many times with their grandson Dakota.  Those days, we suspect, may be coming to an end.  Scott also has “restless legs syndrome”, and the hot tub that they had on Creston Avenue was a source of relief and comfort to him.  Last year Scott’s infirmities prompted them to leave Berkeley and move to Rossmore in Lafayette, a huge retirement community with a golf course, restaurant, swimming pools, daily club meetings, exercise programs. In a sign of the changing times Rossmore even hosts a “Cannabis Club.  No more gardening, no more house maintenance, it’s all taken care of for them.

In an earlier life they both taught elementary school.  In an earlier life, too, they created a business in Lafayette in the middle seventies that was designed to lose money for seven years so that they wouldn't have to pay taxes, money that would have gone to support a very unpopular war.  In an earlier life they were also both avid equestrians, having ridden the Pony Express route, a twenty-four hour distance run {The Tevis endurance race, a precursor to the human race), officially called "The Western States 100 Championship", riding in Escalante and Torrey. In Scott's words, "we rode Valour and Ria up Boulder Mountain, although several champion horses ahead of us tried to turn around dangerously, but we finished the fifty miler of that day and went on to complete the three day ride." They’ve ridden through the desolation of Nevada, and through a large part of the United States.  We asked about Scott’s Parkinson’s disease.  “How did you discover it?” Scott added, "Dansky, a  female, asked why I was no longer using my left leg to cue her.  She wanted a correction.  She wanted me to continue skillfully to ride her.  She begged me not to quit, saying she'd be good and not give me trouble."  Puzzled, we asked Beth to explain.  “She told me that Scott couldn’t ride her any longer, that he was physically unable to manage her.”  Nonplussed, we searched for an explanation.  “She told you?” we questioned.  “Yes,” she answered.

This didn’t surprise us.  Earlier we had teamed up to buy a case of homemade salad dressing from one of Jadyne’s sister-in-law’s friends in Colorado.  When Beth’s check was lost, she said, “I should have waited.”  “Why?” we asked.  She answered, “Because Mercury is in retrograde.”  “Uh-huh”, we both thought, exchanging glances.  We pretended that we knew what that was all about.  When we returned home we went to Wikipedia.  You don’t conduct business when Mercury is in retrograde.  That, we discovered, was why the check was lost.

I asked Scott to edit my blog for accuracy.   He wrote, "We are honored that you would find us people of importance in your life.  And yes, Beth's belief system isn't quite standard.  Scott's is possibly unstandard also."

Scott and Beth introduced us to AJ Lee and the Tuttles at another of their parties:

Entranced by the incredible skill of these musicians I went to see them at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage and promptly fell in love with Molly Tuttle, the oldest “child” in this musical family.  She was twenty-three, and I was sixty-eight.  I was married; she's single.  She's one of the finest acoustic guitar players in the country.  I suck.  It was a relationship doomed from the start.

We had dinner last night with Scott and Beth at the appropriately named "Chow" in Lafayette, chosen by Scott and Beth because of the good "vibe" and because all foods are organic and locally sourced.  (They turned up their noses one time when we told the we were going to Sizzler.)  Chow was no Sizzler.  "Thank you," Scott said at the end of the evening, "for not abandoning us."  Rossmore is about forty-five minutes away, an inconvenient drive, and we won't see them as often as we did when they lived in Berkeley, but we won't abandon them.  We don't abandon friends.

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Eve 2.0

Yesterday was Eve's life celebration at the Hillside Club in Berkeley.  By 1:20 Graeme took the microphone, welcomed the hundred and sixty or so guests, and began what turned out to be a most unusual ceremony, one filled mostly with musical performances, all punctuated by reminisces and testimonials.  Eve worked at the Berkeley Art Museum and there was no shortage of kind words about her delivered by the director and her friend Julia, also a worker there.  But in between the kind words Graeme wanted the guests to know what brought him and Eve together—a mutual love of Indian music, recorded on a CD and played through loudspeakers and Chinese opera music, performed by a singer/dancer on stage.

The love of Indian music was what brought Graeme to London, as he produced hundreds of shows featuring Indian musicians, among them the famous sitar player, Ravi Shankar. It was the love of Indian music, too, by the Beatles' guitar player, George Harrison, who invited Graeme to his house on Christmas Eve.  "Graeme, this is Patty, and this is my mum."

But it was the love of the Beatles that brought Eve and me together.  I sat by her bedside on New Year's Eve and tried to play all the Beatles songs I knew by heart.  She whispered to Graeme, "Play While My Guitar Gently Weeps", the last words we heard from her.  It was natural then, for Graeme to ask me to play that again at Eve's service yesterday.  I practiced for two weeks, put on fresh strings, polished the spruce soundboard, and then, after the opera performer finished, I brought over the microphone, a little stool, my step, and last, my beautifully polished, recently restrung Martin D42.  "I'm the second white guy in this family," I said, "marrying even before Graeme and Eve.  My wife Jadyne's father Henry was Eve's mother's younger brother."  I then told those assembled  that in Eve's honor I would like to play "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." 

The first two or three seconds went okay, but as mistake after mistake piled up, I stopped and apologized.  "I'm sorry," I saId, "I'm just a bit nervous."  I started again, but unlike the ice skaters who fall, get up, then continue their program, I made even more grievous mistakes.  "I'm sorry," I said again, "but I can't really do this."  People applauded.  I turned red.  I put my guitar back on the stand, climbed down the steps, then sat down beside Jadyne.  I closed my eyes.  The program continued. I looked longingly at the door, barely three steps away.

I had given my phone to Jadyne.  Since she was sitting in the front I thought that it would be a nice memory if she would take a couple photographs of me.  She did.  Or, at least she tried.  She took two photographs of the floor at her feet.  We all make mistakes.

More speeches.  More music.  A pianist played two pieces.  A May concert dedicated to Eve was announced.  Two violinists, one from the SF Symphony, and a friend who flew over from Germany played.  More piano.  More speeches.

The final two pieces were by three symphony members—a violinist, a violist, and a cellist.

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I couldn't wait for the service to end.  I wanted out.  Finally, as all came to an end I rose, picked up my guitar, and was met by two very kind people, each of whom expressed their appreciation for my efforts, that in my words and emotions I revealed how personal and important it was to me.  I thanked them, then came home.

Last night I wrote this:

"We learn so much about ourselves...I have been practicing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" for some time now...I made a few efforts to play it yesterday before recording it and posting it on YouTube...I went to Eve's service today...there were a hundred people there...many professional musicians...I was fine until I got on stage...I told anecdotes about how Eve and I related about several things, but mostly the Beatles...I told them about sitting by her bedside, playing one song after another, and how her last words to us were, "Play While My Guitar Gently Weeps."...I then tried to play it...I couldn't...I played the first few seconds or so very badly, then tried to start over...a few seconds later I told every I couldn't do it...I couldn't do it...I was both too emotional and too nervous..I left the stage and sat down next to Jadyne...I closed my eyes and listened to the rest of the service, some remembrances, three pieces by a concert pianist, a duet by two members of the SF symphony, then a two-pat finale by three more from the symphony—a violinist, a cellist, and a violist...two people thanked me afterwards for the effort, recognizing that not only was I not a professional musician, but that they saws that within my stories a connection something that was missing in the other pie"ces by the other musicians...I was embarrassed...I'm okay now...we never stop learning."

This morning I wrote Graeme a letter:

"You arranged and put on a lovely service for Eve yesterday, and I was very touched to have been included.  Obviously, I was disappointed not to have been able to perform the song.  From my performance you wouldn’t have guessed that I had practiced quite some time, even recording it on YouTube on Saturday.  I hadn’t played in front of more than one or two friends in forty years, and I had no idea that I would be unable to do so yesterday.

But this wasn’t about me.  It was about Eve, your love for each other, and the many connections, both spoken and performed, by those who have meant so much to both of you.  If we get can get away from my “unperformance" and focus on something that I hoped you and the other guests recognized—that both of you are dear to me and Jadyne, and that we feel Eve’s loss ourselves while we continue to feel for you, too."

He wrote back...

"Darrin our remodeling assistant, and who helped in clearing out my office for the hospital bed, phoned last evening and we both agreed that your performance was so real, and emphasizes the human side of yesterday. If your performance had been perfect it would not have been the same. I am sure most felt the same."

Whew.

Graeme concluded, referring to George Harrison, Eve, Indian music, and all..."Thanks for the touching comments. Darrin who had set up the chairs for the expected 150 from RSVPs, said at least 160 came. The two sons of Ali Akbar Khan and their mother surprised me because I knew their younger sister was about to go into labor. Eve and I remember when daughter Medina was about four, her coming at stage at the large Marin Center to crowning her father king. He was the last living famous court musicians. Yesterday they asked what favourite ragas Eve had ... for the May 25 concert at BAMPFA. And I said if George had not given the burst of interest in Indian music here in 1966, literally none of us would we have be here. Their mother would never have met their father and me Eve. True karma."

True karma, indeed.