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After the Dogpile

May 31, 2014

As I understand it, it goes something like this: The entire Sac-Joaquin Section of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has 49 schools. They are divided into North and South. Davis is in the North section.  In each the North and South, there are four different leagues.  Davis’s league is the Delta Valley Conference.

For the baseball playoffs, the top three from each league advance to a post season tournament.  So, in the North’s playoff tournament, there were twelve teams.  The top team for each league gets a first round bye. Davis had finished second in league play behind area powerhouse Elk Grove, which meant they had an extra, must-win game to play. Single elimination games continue until four teams remain.

Davis won all its games (two or three, I can’t remember) and ended up being one of the top four finishers in the North’s bracket of the S-J section tournament.

So far, so good.

The next phase of the tournament is a double elimination series with the four remaining teams, which, after a couple rounds of play, was narrowed down to two teams: Davis (2-0) and Elk Grove (1-1). Elk Grove and Davis then went head to head.  Elk Grove won the first game, which gave both teams a 2-1 record. Davis prevailed in their second game to win the S-J North section title and advance to the final, championship round.

This is very cool.

Meanwhile, down in the South, St. Mary’s of Stockton rose through the ranks in a similar fashion to reach the best-of-three championship series, played at the very nice stadium of the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

The series began last night and Davis won 7-4. Today, a double header.  Davis lost the first game 1-0. Now the series is tied: Davis 1, St. Mary’s 1.  In the third and final game, Davis won 3-2 to take the whole enchilada.

wOOt, wOOt!

At the end of the very exciting game, there was a dog pile, which I missed because I was clapping and whooping it up with everybody else. But I did get this shot:

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Those boys did a great job.

Peter and his JV cohort (and lots of the freshmen players, as well) showed up to most of the post-season games in support. That was very nice to see.

It will be fun to see what happens in the next two years.  Especially fun should Peter make the varsity team.

Piano Man

May 30, 2014

So wonderful to see Larry today (the man with his head inside the hole where the action goes (action is the word for the part of the piano where the keys are (which are connected to pads that go up and down to strike metal cables (I’m sure they’re not called that (and now I’m totally lost in my parentheses…

Here’s Larry and the piano:

 

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This is the piano my dad (and my Uncle Vic and Aunt Ellie, as well) learned to play on in the 30s. It’s a Cable Nelson, not a first cabin piano, but serviceable for depression era families.  I understand a nice concert piano can go for something like $100k. This is not one of those.

The piano is basically Peter’s… he’s the one who plays it all the time. Knowing it was going to be tuned this morning, he actually came right home from school, dropped his pack at the door and bolted straight over to sit down and play. He was thrilled the right pedal (the sustaining pedal, I think Larry called it) was connected again and worked. Things are going to sound very different around here from now on.

 

 

Lives Lost

May 29, 2014

Last friday, a guy gunned down six UCSB students in Isla Vista. Alienated, disenfranchised, unstable guy with easy access to a gun. Issues of gun control; issues of the lack of services and support for people with mental illness; the randomness, senselessness and sadness of young lives lost in an instant.  All of it: huge and overwhelming.

So.. a vigil was organized and held on campus tonight to honor the fellow UC students who died. I went in part because I liked the idea and the power of thousands of people in Davis gathering in solidarity to show their support for the kids in Santa Barbara–the grace and humanity of it. And I also went in protest and anger and despair over the state of gun policy in our pathetically misled country.

Just what the f*ck are we ever going to be able to do about this? The NRA has played the public and politicians brilliantly. The talking points are pure bullshit and yet our poor, uneducated, paranoid country is stuck in this numbingly stupid theater of the absurd.

It is such a horrible mess of misinformation and fear and stupid.

Okay.. so the vigil wasn’t about any of that. Though Chancellor Katehi, once she’d finished reading some prepared remarks, spoke from her heart and said there are just too, too many guns.  She said they outnumber our population and are easier to get than a bike license, and that’s not right.  Really, she said that. (Which is the absolute truth.)

I also learned that Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was killed, went to law school at UCD. Martinez, through his anguished and impassioned comments in the days following the shootings, has reignited the national debate about gun laws.  A movement is forming called (somewhat awkwardly) “Not. One. More.” I’m really hoping it gets some traction. That’s the gun-related reason I went to tonight’s vigil.

But the gathering was appropriately and movingly about the people who died. They identified the six students and then shared backgrounds and sweet details of each of their life stories. They invited people who might know them to come up on the stage to offer remembrances.  It was really nice. One young woman was there during the shooting and she cried all the way through her recounting of the experience; I think most everybody cried along with her.

Here are some pictures.

This one was taken by Lucas Frerichs and shows the size of the crowd (thousands):

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Here’s looking behind me before things got started:

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Here are the people I sat with… I was looking for and found folks I’d met and/or worked with when I tabled at Farmer’s Market for the Yolo Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action.  (Naomi, her husband Dan, Lucas, Jennie, Susan and her daughter Meg):

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Here’s Mayor Joe… he had some good comments about the stress students feel and how we need to provide more support, not less.

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After the speeches, the candles were lit and remained throughout the remembrances. It was cool to see how candles were lit on one end and, person-to-person, were then lit throughout the crowd.

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Many Benefits

May 28, 2014

At last, the Dinner for Compassion Tour.  Very gratifying to see this project grow from the tiniest seed of an idea to a full bloom of an event.

I remember talking with David months and months ago, maybe almost a year ago, about where he goes from here.  The idea of taking the compassion message on the road seemed like a perfect next step.  It may have been months after that that the idea of a benefit dinner came up. But ever since, our small group of six (and then we were seven) has been meeting and planning.

It was a lovely and eclectic evening that included an exquisite Indian meal, live music from a guy named Brett who performs blues music most often as part of a four-member band called Packard Slim, hula and belly dancers, two teen girls who offered henna tattoos, a silent auction with a fantastic array of items, a raffle, comments from David about the tour and what lead him to this moment, and finally some wonderful MC’ing by council candidate and likely/hopefully Davis’ next mayor Robb Davis.

Here’s a picture of Robb–this was toward the end of the evening when, with the help of his able assistants, he distributed silent auction items to the highest bidders, and conducted a raffle.

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Here’s a look down the silent auction table. I’m pleased with the variety of items.. from original photography and some wonderful art, to massages & acupuncture sessions, to homemade honeycomb, pies, french macaroons and wines, to CSA subscriptions, to a wine tasting, to garden services and tennis lessons, to Rivercats tickets and goodies from Guatemala.  And all those generous donations brought in about $1000.

 

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And here’s the raffle table… again lots of local stuff… gift cards, note cards, books by local authors, balms, sachets and more acupuncture.  Plus the un-bid upon silent auction items.  It made the raffle fun to have so many wonderful things. Yay.

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Here’s a shot of the food spread: Chicken Biriyani in foreground, chard and potato (what eventually became of the chard I cut yesterday), carrot & yogurt raita, and samosas with mint chutney.  Dessert, not shown here, was rice pudding. All incredibly good:

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Here’s Mary Philip, who personally buys all the ingredients and oversees the entire cooking operation, a process that takes a day of shopping and two days of cooking:

She is a gem.

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And here’s my good friend David, delivering some closing comments about his five-year  journey to date and the upcoming one-year tour, and a heavy dose of inspiration:

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Closing shot of Jeff’s magnificent painting of David on the corner of 3rd and C. We’re planning to hang it in a downtown location, hopefully close to the corner, so there will be a reminder of David’s five-year tenure in Davis.

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Samosas

May 27, 2014

Final touches on the benefit dinner for David’s upcoming Compassion Tour.  The Compassion Tour Team has included David, Carrie, Margaret, Michelle, Jeff and me. Later, Kristin joined to assist with some of the logistics. I like everybody.

You know?…. I’ve been out of the work force for awhile. Some things have changed: We arrange meeting times via Doodle. We conduct virtual meetings over Google Hangout. We share planning spreadsheets, to-do lists and meeting minutes on Google Drive.

The rest is pretty routine event planning.  But nothing is really that routine.

Nobody’s really in charge and David is content to let the universe speak; things will happen. He sometimes opens meetings or closes them with inspirational comments, he assures us we will all be changed by this experience. He states this with absolute certainty and with a characteristic sparkle in his eyes. I love these meetings. I actually love this whole non-process.  A couple of us are administratively minded, another couple of us are deeply passionate, and David is enough of everything to keep the ball moving down the field.

To wit: the dinner is tomorrow night and I think we’re ready.  David and I had lunch yesterday and said: People will come. There will be food. Funds will be raised.  It will happen.   And that’s all that matters.  There’s a lot of love, so, really, that’s all that matters.

So today, prep cooking happened. I cut chard, basically. I was in and out, mostly out, so my role was minimal in the cooking department.  Tomorrow, I’ll cook more.

Here are some of the volunteers. They are part of a regular crew that supports Mary Phillips, who, with her husband, puts these dinners on. For free. She acquires all the ingredients, mostly from local farmers, and spends two days with a crew of volunteers — anywhere from six to ten — cooking for very large  groups of people. Kind of amazing. I’ve had her dinners three times before, and they are exquisite.

This is the samosa portion of the program (you just can’t imagine how heavenly it smelled):

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Tomorrow: more prep pics and dinner pics.

Excited.

 

Some disgusting and gut-wrenching stories grabbed this morning. Sure you’ve read them, they appear daily.

There is a lot to despair over, starting with the injustice of random violence, continuing through the stranglehold that greed and power have on our government and the insanity and inequity that brings, and so many other soul crushing and heartbreaking realities of american life (NRA, climate change deniers).

There is just too, too much of it  — the sheer stupid that leads to the condition of our world… it’s numbing.

And yet.. our time here is so limited.  It’s just too sad and too overwhelming to squander our precious lives in that place of despair.  So we do what we can do in our small ways to contribute to something better. In every single moment. Be kind to your kid (so that he learns kindness and returns the same to others), offer what you can to those who don’t have as much (that was sweet last night, Jim, when you offered some food to those two women who have set up residence at the corner of E and 3rd), vote for the right guys and gals (go Robb and Joe), support the causes you think will make things better.

It’s what we can do.

There is a good side to humanity, there’s joy, humor, soul.

I read this poem this morning and it validated another thing we can do: see beauty, live in it, revel in it, love it.

 

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

There is beauty.

So..let’s see…  a picture.. hang on, digging something(s) out of the archives..looking for a couple places where I have lain quietly next to still and beautiful water..brb.

Here are a couple:

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I do love those moments and those places, and appreciate them profoundly. These moments of beauty bring me to intense inner peace.

And that’s what we all need.

Modern Scorekeeping

May 25, 2014

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Scorekeeping has come to this: an iPad, a program called iScore, and extra bliss if you’re seated in the shady, quiet, cool announcer’s booth on a 95 degree day.

I just love this.