Senior Awards

May 31, 2016

Every year, DHS gives out a whole bunch of awards–academic, athletic, leadership, service, effort, etc–to [some of] its most fabulous graduating seniors.


I’ve read about these awards in the newspaper for years and always projected ahead to our graduating class, wondering who would earn what.

We didn’t expect to be attending to watch Peter receive a prestigious scholarship or service award. I thought it was within the realm of possibility that he’d get a physics award… if numerous were given out (nope, only one). But, when I got home from work at about 6:15, I learned that Peter was, in fact, on the list of kids receiving awards tonight (ceremony started at 6:00).  The list has been posted outside the career center on campus for about a week, but I figured Peter would have mentioned if he was getting anything. (I’d temporarily forgotten who my son is..)

He knew he was getting something because his name was on the list with probably another 100-200 kids, but had no inkling of what award he’d received. He figured it wasn’t anything of note, decided to prioritize his Spanish homework (you heard that right) and chose to stay home. Ray, who’d been hanging out with Peter when I got home, was dashing out to attend (late though he was… he was getting one for band excellence). He’s the one who told me Peter was on the list.

Well, being that parent, I decided I’d go… one, out of curiosity, two, to support/enjoy all the other kids, many of whom I’d surely know (yes and no, as it turns out).

Cutting to the chase, Peter got something called the Seal of Biliteracy, awarded to students achieving a certain level of proficiency in a second language:


There were a smattering of honorees in Chinese, Japanese, German, and French and a LOT of Spanish students who earned this distinction. the huge number of bi-literate Spanish students is largely because hundreds (a new crop of ~100 annually) of Davis kids attend Cesar Chavez and start on the path of language proficiency very early.

Which is not to diminish Peter’s (and his comrades’) achievement at all. I am extremely pleased that Peter can speak Spanish, even as he flounders in his Spanish literature class this year. Let’s remember, it’s Spanish SIX. It wasn’t always pretty, but he stuck it out.. something HE wanted to do. I’m really proud of him for that. And, with a little bit of luck, he’ll pass that bugger of a class (thus his opting to stay home and do his final round of homework) and have under his belt a reasonable proficiency and.. an award for same.

The list of ~143 reads like a Cesar Chavez Elementary Who’s Who… here’s most of it… (my picture misses most of the “S”s and on):


I have to say, there were many kids receiving awards that I didn’t know. Peter didn’t run in organized academic circles (clubs, federations, societies and competing academic teams of this and that), and didn’t knock himself out in service and social clubs. But, I did know a good number of the kids, and enjoyed cheering them on.

Here’s a shot I managed to get… you know… iPhone from a distance in the dark:


Kiddos I know: Ryan K., Jonathan W., Madison T., Chenoa D.

Principal Brown was on stage and got a better shot. He posted this one to Facebook… same kids, much clearer. I think, in addition, that may be Julia K. next to Ryan, and Conner A. in the back. Had Peter gone, he’d have been seated up on stage, as well, with all the student honorees (of which there were about 200). Parents and families were seated in the audience.

seniorawards (1)

Largely, it looks like the future’s in good hands.



Michael Ann posted the lyrics to a song she wrote about her dad, Peter. I think it’s a beautiful statement of love and honor. (Her dad is alive and well, and enjoying his daughter’s songwriting.)

I appreciate the glimpse into the hearts and experiences of those who serve in the military.


One Soldier’s Love
A few years ago I wrote this song in honor of all soldiers, but especially my dad, a career soldier who fought in Vietnam. This is also to honor the families of soldiers, who sacrifice much. Still yet to be recorded but I wanted to share the words. Thank you soldiers… I love you Dad.

Once upon a time a soldier left for war
Wearing his dress uniform, he headed out the door
With a kiss for his wife and a salute for his son
He went to fight a war that wouldn’t be won

The letters that he wrote were cheerful and upbeat
He didn’t want to worry them, although he felt defeat
He had to just keep going
To make it day by day
He was a soldier in the Army
That’s the soldier’s way

One soldier’s love for his country
The red, white and blue
One soldier’s love for his people
He fought for me and you
One soldier’s love for his family
His son and his wife
One soldiers love so strong
He would lay down his life

He tried hard not to think about
All he’d left behind
He was there because he had to be
His life was on the line
He knew he had a job to do and he would do it right
Honor, pride and loyalty
Commit to the fight

One soldier’s love for his country
The red, white and blue
One soldier’s love for his people
He fought for me and you
One soldier’s love for his family
His son and his wife
One soldiers love so strong
He would lay down his life

Yes it’s a love so strong…
He would lay down his life

Three Part Harmony

May 29, 2016

I pretty much ate my way through this day. Started with brunch at Bernardo’s with Jim, a regular thing. Within an hour of getting home, took off again to join Janet for lunch (and may I say the salad bar at Whole Foods is amazing). Within an hour of returning, took off again for late afternoon wine and apps with Frances… took a bunch of food and wine over to the park across the street and sat under a tree, which was cool and pleasant on this 90 degree day. Then headed over to the I-House for sort of an open mic concert, at which they served desserts and I apparently hadn’t had enough to eat today, so I got a large brownie.

What in the world is wrong with me?

I’m a good eater.

This was the concert…


Five-Three-Oh. They sing 60s oldies and also perform a bunch of their own stuff.  I’ve heard them numerous times and always enjoy their energy. They have great chemistry and always come across as people who enjoy one another and enjoy singing and performing together. My favorite tonight was a song called, I think, Once in a Very Blue Moon. Nancy Griffith performs it, though I’m not sure she wrote it. In any case, Michael Ann sounded great singing it.


Peter submitted his Statement of Intent to Register at UCSD tonight. I’m impressed and pleased.



This is what Peter’s doing instead of college paperwork.

(College paperwork…right…old term. It’s all online now. Whatever. The point is, he’s not doing it.)

If you’ve been following this transition-to-college saga, and I wouldn’t blame you at all if you’re not,  you might remember that we were all but done with the lion’s share of the bigger decision-making aspects of this process. He’d decided, if begrudgingly, on UC Santa Cruz–which was the granddaddy of all decisions. Huge decision; I’ve written a lot about it. He had made his college-within-the-college selection and been accepted into Stevenson, which seemed a good fit. He’d filled out the dorm application and decided on a meal plan. We’d selected a date for our orientation (yes, our, because parents simultaneously attend their own orientation), and built our summer plans around that and move-in day and the first day of classes. He’d even, with the help of our friend Wes, set up a face-to-face meeting with a real live Santa Cruz physics professor, one who wrote the book on string theory, literally, which was going to help him feel connected and confident and enthusiastic.

We’d made great progress! We were finally settling in for the summer. The college application-acceptance–enrollment process was almost just a fading nightmare.

But then something extraordinary happened. But before I mention that, a little more backstory:

Recall that way back when, all the way back to last Fall and extending into February, he’d had to decide which colleges to even apply to. This was one laborious, teeth pulling process. (Ha, ha, did I say “process?” A process might suggest some method to the madness. There was some, but of course it wasn’t the kind of process one imagines and hopes for, the exhaustive and thoughtful process outlined in the numerous books that offer guidance on such huge, life-altering, momentous decisions.) He’d not only had to narrow down the universe of schools and select a reasonable number of reach schools, good bets, and fall backs, but he also had to pull together the applications for said schools. That was months of sheer hell, a smidge exciting, but largely difficult. Wrote plenty about that, too.

Still, he managed twelve applications. I’m not sure how, but he did, with help (thanks to Brooke), but wow. Twelve applications in by deadline. He ended up getting accepted at four, waitlisted at four and rejected at four (which somewhat, but not completely, corresponded to the reach, good and sure bet distinctions). High among his hopefuls was UC San Diego. UCSD emerged as a top choice when Berkeley and UCLA seemed ridiculously unattainable, and NYU and other out of state schools too expensive. Alas, UCSD turned out to be one of schools at which is was waitlisted. Which was a little heartbreaking and left him with choices that did not excite him. Blah blah blah… Santa Cruz it was.

Well, cutting to the chase here..

Lo and behold, at 1:30am a couple of days ago, he learned he’d been accepted at UCSD. Practically his dream school (discounting Cal Tech and MIT, which he didn’t even bother applying to, and the aforementioned Berkeley and UCLA).  He’d made a practice of checking his admission status at UCSD daily–often several times daily–since the date he’d been notified of his waitlist status. Some UCs were admitting students from their waitlists, but not all. It’s a big UC shuffle thing, based first on one’s qualifications, and secondly on who’s accepted where, and where they ultimately decide to go. I presume the whole thing is just very complicated and it’s also different every single year, completely dependent on the applicant pool, which is ever evolving. Well, with a June 1 close to the UC acceptance process looming, his chances were dwindling. He hadn’t heard from either UC Irvine or UC San Diego. But he still checked regularly.

So, as you might imagine, when he casually checked his status, not expecting anything different than the hundreds of previous checks, and found his status changed, he was ecstatic. His acceptance was huge news–thus the announcement at 1:30am, excitedly, loudly delivered next to our bed.  He was over the moon.

I lay there, awake, for the next three hours processing this. UCSD is more his concept of the college experience: a bigger school, taller buildings, more students, greater energy, lots of sports programs. UCSD is highly ranked among other UCs academically and has a very good physics program. It has a great study abroad program, a baseball club team, a beautiful library and proximity to a big city (sorta). Peter’s very good friend and fellow pitcher Ray is also an entering freshman and Ray’s older brother Bobby is a senior this year, on the baseball club team and can serve as a bit of a mentor. Torrey Pines golf course is across the street. Our friend Rick’s son is a professor there. Did I mention tall buildings?

UCSD is my alma mater.

He’s thrilled. UCSD speaks to him. He’s proud of himself. Instead of feeling resigned about his choice, he feels excited, and very, very pleased. He is ready to be identified as a Triton. (But really, who wouldn’t want to be a Banana Slug??) As his mom, I’m so grateful he is starting off his college experience feeling good about where he’s going instead of the alternative. We were making a lot of lemonade about Santa Cruz. Truth be told, it would have been a fine experience, but he was lacking the kind of enthusiasm you want them to have when embarking on such a big chapter in their lives.

So it is all fantastic. And it’s a bunch of forms, processes, refunds, to do lists, calls, emails. We have to undo all the Santa Cruz stuff, including that nice meet up with the physics professor, and start anew with San Diego. With everything: his UCSD account, mail, ID, his orientation, dorm, meal plan. All the dates to know, all the deadlines. And it’s all bearing down on us in the next two days. All of it has to be done. On this holiday weekend.

One would have thought that with all this new-found enthusiasm and gratefulness, he’d plow through the forms like nobody’s business, that he’d be so quick on the draw it’d make our heads spin. Like he’d want to confirm and secure his spot and quickly get to where he was just a couple days ago with Santa Cruz: done and ready. He’d done it before, he’d just do it again.

But no.

He says he hasn’t fully decided. (What?! Jim says that is about controlling the process, being in charge, being independent. Not to worry.) Peter is going to let this go right up until the final moment. If it’s not due until May 31, he’s not going to move on it until then. I’m going to have to back off, let it go, chill.

Not my strong suit.

All I can do (or should do) is watch from the sidelines and gently support when/if asked. Let him fail if that’s where this is going. Santa Cruz is a fine choice!

And I can document with incriminating photos.




Remembering Annita

May 27, 2016


Jim’s Aunt Annita died on April 18 at the age of 92. I wrote about her here, when she went into Piedmont Gardens a year and a half ago. Her passing was very peaceful and she was comfortable, though I’m not sure she was very aware of much. We all felt like we’d said our good-byes long ago.

The service was today and it felt so wonderful to gather with everyone and celebrate her. She was a devout catholic so there were elements in the service–called a committal service–that were important to include.  The chapel was filled with many non and former catholics and I thought the priest did a great job of honoring her faith, and still making it meaningful for those remembering her.

Here’s the chapel:


Here is our whole group:


She was cremated and her box was buried way up the hill, right next to her mom and older sister (Jim’s mom Sonia):


Here’s her husband, Uncle Dean, at the gravesite:


Teresa and Chad:


The John Frames:


My guys:


We went back to Monica and Dror’s following the service. Here are a few family shots:

Her grandkids: Matthew, Dean, Peter and Ben (unable to come: Maia and Brian):


Her two daughters, Marie and Monica, with Peter and Ben in foreground:


Teresa, Marsue, Alan, Marty:


Dror and John:


Jim and his siblings:


And one I particularly like of Ben and Peter.. cousins and friends:


RIP, Annita. We love you.









Hot Dog!

May 26, 2016

Moving right along….

Popped this in the mail today:


That is Peter’s dorm and meal plan application/contract thingie. Had I not had a chance encounter with the mom of another UCSC-bound freshman at the food coop the other night, I’d have never known we were up against a May 25th deadline for getting this application in, the failure of which would have meant no on-campus housing for the first year.

Thank you Ruth. Thank you universe.

Let’s just say the flood of end-of-year paperwork is substantial and keeping up with the logistics of graduating from one institution, while applying to, registering for, and enrolling in another, is a lot of balls to keep in the air. On top of grad party(ies) planning, 18th birthday planning, baseball season wrap up, grad night committee work, graduation trip planning, summer vacation planning…

have I whined about this already? Probably.

No place I’d rather be.


And then there was a little of this, a little later in the day:


Waited here this afternoon, while Peter tried on his fancy new, freshly tailored blue suit. The sales associate at Nordstrom told me the style was modern and fashionable, perfect for a college-bound man–narrower cut than traditional, some prominent stitching on the lapels, discreetly placed band of color (purple, actually) beneath the collar… all designed with hip young adults in mind.

Good job, Jim and Peter.

This made for a fun and interesting Sac excursion with the boy.


And a final pair of photos:

Peter’s dinner dog…


…which I thought he did a nice job of decorating… er… condimenting.

And mine:


I was in an unadulterated mood.

It was my second hot dog of the week, though, so I’m pretty satisfied.


Yolo Surrounds

May 25, 2016

For a day spent largely buried in Grad Night Committee planning, I’m surprised at how many great pictures I got. (Yolo County did all the work.. I just had to pull over and shoot.)

Out at about the intersection of Roads 29 and 99:


It was just so pretty, I had to stop and take pictures in multiple directions:


Even my car looks great in front of a yet-to-be-planted field…IMG_3023

And coming home, this is around the corner from us.. just some nice tall yellow flowers I couldn’t resist:




There was one funny thing that happened while holed up in my office today… this:


That is about 50 senior citizens walking down the middle of street, lead by the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh, playing a rousing rendition of White Rabbit. Yep, not kidding. It’s the annual celebration of fitness month. (I’m telling you… our place across the street from the Senior Center is going to come in very handy one of these days!)



The weird news: I went to a baseball game tonight with my baseball pal Dianna.

The bad news: Davis wasn’t one of the teams we were watching.

It was a semifinal playoff game between Elk Grove and Oak Ridge… powerhouses, both. We’d beaten each once and lost to each once this season.

The true news: We shoulda–coulda easily have–been there.

The good news: I didn’t cry. Almost did, but didn’t. Instead, just cheered on Elk Grove, because: Delta League (they lost), and used my nostalgia filter to capture the moment.


Bear with me. There won’t be too many more tortured baseball posts.




Yes, as a matter of fact, I am blogging about the kitchen sink. Midnight approaching and desperate for a topic? Well, yes… but also, I really like this new faucet and think it’s worth writing about.

In fact, this new faucet is so great it makes it feel like we’ve gotten a whole new kitchen. I found dish-doing so novel tonight, I actually enjoyed cleaning up.

Okay.. so here’s the before:


(Boo, hiss, just look at that thing.)

And, ta da, here’s the after:


Slick and shiny and functioning.

The thing to notice about the new faucet is all the space beneath the spout part. Lots of room to maneuver! It makes our sink suddenly feel so much larger and deeper. Also–you can’t tell by looking–the faucet moves effortlessly from one sink to the other.  Just a dainty little swipe of the finger and the nozzle is exactly where you need it to be.  The one we replaced took all your muscle to move it left or right. And the removable spray element stays put; no more of this dangling appendage thing. And Jim also replaced the soap dispenser, so that works like a dream, too, just like it yoosta.

There is just so much to be happy about. We won’t have to move after all.



Teasing the Boundaries

May 22, 2016

Our dear friend Rick, a retired California appellate court judge, and his librarian wife Linda, gave Peter this set of books as a high school graduation gift.


So nice to have learned, wise friends.

It came with a typed letter, with explicit instructions from Rick about the exact order in which to read these books.

Unliterary me was not familiar with Lawrence Durrell, who wrote this particular set of four books–the so-called Alexandria Quartet–in the late 50s/early 60s, and the entire series was even on the short list, it was later learned, for the Nobel Prize. Durrell palled around with Henry Miller and Anais Nin, so says Wikipedia, and was all kinds of respected for his writing, which is said to be sophisticated, poetic, masterful. These books follow a love story from a variety of perspectives, set in WWII Egypt, and are exotic, erotic and memorable. “Breathtakingly inventive, written in sensuous, shimmering prose, blazing with emotional intensity and intellectual fire, hailed as modern classics.”

Rick says: essential reading.

I’ll go with that. And it seemed to pique Peter’s interest.

It sounds heavy for a guy who doesn’t read many bookish books.  Peter does read and explores endlessly, but almost exclusively online. I always admired him deeply for his curiosity. There is no question he is an intellectually driven guy.. but not typically in that curl up with a good literary masterpiece kind of way.  So we shall see.

I’m thinking maybe I’ll dive in first… the description sure appealed to me.

In any case, I thought it was a very fine and thoughtful gift, and hope that it will inspire Peter to broaden his scope a bit. Tis what college is about, eh?


Now, having said that Peter is not a great reader of books…. quite unusually, when I came home yesterday, and on and off since, I noticed Peter with his nose buried in a mountain climbing novel… with another on the table beside him. Inspired, likely, by his intention to do some backpacking and climbing this summer with Solly. It was quite a surprise to see him sprawled out, Jeremy-style, actually reading a book. A book with a cover. And pages. So last century.

So… maybe… maybe he does a little reading this summer. Maybe Rick and Linda’s gift will light a little fire.