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June 19, 2021

People have been celebrating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans since June 19, 1865.. well, some have, anyway. And now, as of a couple of days ago, June 19th is officially, finally, appropriately and forever a new federal holiday. And now everybody can not only celebrate the end of slavery, but we can begin to work from a shared set of facts about our history of slavery in this country and try to understand its impacts, still, today.

Thanks President Biden!

Our president just keeps racking up good moves. He is doing right by the American people–restoring truth, compassion, dignity and honor to our country. It is surprisingly relieving. It feels like stress is just melting away with every passing day.

Not everyone feels the way I do.. which I always find so baffling and disappointing. I’ll never understand people.



To wit:

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Trevor Noah’s tweet has to do with the states that are up in arms about the idea of teaching critical race theory in schools. I don’t understand what people are afraid of, why they can’t accept that slavery–a monumentally significant part of our history–has shaped so much of our culture and continues to define and affect the views and behaviors of so many today. Who would dispute it? What is the threat in shining a light on that?

The establishment of Juneteenth as a national holiday is one of many important steps toward honoring truth and respecting the dignity of all Americans.

What Goes Up..

June 18, 2021

Our funny son.

So, this afternoon, I’m wandering through the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, deeply immersed in art, and I get a text. It’s from Peter and includes this picture, without explanation….

We exchange the briefest of texts…

So… best I can figure: Peter’s in his office on campus. Alone. Maybe he’s bored. His mind gets to wandering. Wonders if he could jump straight up and touch his head to the ceiling. Thinks, “Yeah, I could do that.” Sets up iPhone to video. Walks around to front of desk and jumps for all he’s worth. Bonks head on ceiling. Captures entire event on video. Isolates the head-touching instant in a single frame. Proud, sends photo to mom.

It’s interesting to me to see his office (shares with numerous other students). So unfancy. I love the chalkboard with graphs, charts and calculations on it. And a cat. Also noticing the string of Chinese characters and wonder what that says…

I’m happy he’s finally, after nearly a year, able to be in his office, able to meet and work with his group. I’m amused he’s finding such worthwhile things to do to pass the time.

It was ever thus.

[hashtag: onehundredpercentPeter]

A cafe au lait and chocolate cake, homemade both.

I know, I know… another post about patio furniture. But… patio furniture! Do you realize, in all our years in this house, we’ve never sat outside to eat on patio furniture (a time or two we hauled our table outside to the porch, but that doesn’t count). In fact, in all my years in Davis, I’ve actually never lived in a house that had patio furniture (at least I can’t think of one). It’s sort of a homeowner’s staple, a place to have one’s morning coffee on a warm summer morning, or a place to eat a BBQ’d dinner with friends… and that’s just never been part of my experience. Weird, huh?

Well…rectified!

I feel like I’ve opened a whole new chapter of backyard living. A garden, a beautiful hammock, a second story observation deck, a shaded deck with two rocking chairs [soon] …. and now, today, a table on a patio, under an umbrella… with wifi, no less.

Dining Out

June 16, 2021

There is so much to write about. Have you noticed I haven’t really written in a long time… I’ve just been posting quick pics with limited commentary for weeks now (mostly). No political ranting. No pandemic blues.

I should write about California opening up on June 15. Sorta, anyway. That is enormously newsworthy.. very milestony after fifteen months of pandemic life.

I personally feel on the cusp of a life inflection point… for reasons having to do with the above, and so many other things. Been thinking so much about that, too.

But, it’s late and I’m pooped.

So, instead of the big stuff… I’m going small ball again for today’s post.

~~

We ate outside tonight, sitting at our new table, on our new patio, in our new backyard. Vicki and Mark were our guests, as Vicki and Mark sorta made this final piece happen, what with Mark being an outdoor furniture expert and Vicki playing matchmaker on the sales deal.

Mark brought the missing piece of the umbrella to our house this evening (forgotten by the delivery guys yesterday). And, drumroll, here’s the completed look..

It fills the space quite nicely, no? What you can’t see in this picture is the work I did this morning to clear away the last vestiges of remodel messy mess. Hard to appreciate, but this backyard is clean and tidy! Not quite done (wood screens, arbors, a sail shade, planters, another round of deck stain and a few more chairs and tables to be located here and there), but… what’s here is done and gorgeous!

And here we are, actually eating outside on a night when the temps (at 7:30pm) were still in the mid-90s. Ouch.

After about 30-45 minutes of sauna like air, we moved inside to finish dinner (the dessert part). But that was sufficient time to christen the table. First meal: grilled swordfish, grilled asparagus, brown basmati, a salad that Vicki made and ice cold chardonnay.

Today’s Arrival

June 15, 2021

Populating the patio… I’ll have a place to sit when I get pooped from all that vegetable harvestin’!

We took the first step today in the last front yard task… the replacement of the fence between our and Mary’s house/s.

Here are a couple of before shots. I have very few front yard shots that include the fence because that ratty ol’ fence has always sort of embarrassed me… I’ve always carefully photographed around it in all of my front yard photos. I’ve also avoided including much of Mary’s house in any front yard photos I take because of all the junk she collects in her front yard. It’s a little heart breaking when you live next door to a person who “collects” stuff. Subject for another time… (and for the record, we enjoy our quirky neighbor).

Here’s another.. pre-new-landscaping. This one shows the tangle of vines that totally engulfed the fence…

And unrelated to the fence…. look how pretty all that crazy, wildflower-dence, colorful growth was in our front yard before we re-landscaped.

Anyway… here is what happened today: removal of growth and fence, and placement of metal posts.

And.. just for literary enrichment, here is Robert Frost’s poem, from which the term Good Fences Make Good Neighbors originates:

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Big day in the Frame/Peterson [and Espitia/Hickman] household!! First harvest of the season, and first harvest of the brand new garden (thus credit-sharing with Ruben who built the beds, and Mary who advised on and executed the first plantings).

Check out this first haul!

That is a very respectable pile of green and red Swiss chard, and a handful of plums. The plums are a bit hard — not sure they’ll ripen adequately — but at least they are not half-munched by birds and squirrels yet. Jury’s out on those.

But that chard! We are big chard eaters around here, so this crop will keep us happy this summer.

And here’s what Jim turned it into tonight:

Something old: last night’s french pastry pizza, Friday night’s asparagus, goat cheese and tarragon tart and Friday night’s salad

Something new: the chard we already had in the vegetable box that needed to get sauteed up

Something borrowed: leftover Crepeville potatoes (this is a stretch of a designation, just go with it)

Something from our garden: fresh, tender, newly picked chard to add to the other chard

This is summer dining extraordinaire… fans going, doors thrown wide open, sun setting in the west, and fresh, organic, locally grown vegetables and wine (Turkovich, of course).

Some Saturday Notables

June 12, 2021

First off, it’s graduation weekend in Davis, and wow, downtown was amazing this morning… gowns everywhere, families accompanying people in gowns everywhere, people taking pictures of those families everywhere … lines out the door at popular restaurants.. a very crowded Farmer’s Market.

This is exciting and a bit sad on numerous fronts. Exciting because it’s wonderful living in a college town and being immersed in college town energy. It’s great seeing kids get to this part… the culmination of a billion years of school, on their way, hopefully, to pretty decent lives. God knows we need educated people in this world.

A bit sad because, damn, we didn’t get to see Peter graduate from college last year. Life sure coulda been a lot worse during the pandemic and I’m grateful for so much, but man… that college graduation milestone came and went with nary a nod. He deserved to walk across a stage and have a chancellor hand him a diploma, deserved the pictures in gowns and all the kudos that come with. We’ll try again in about 4 years…

~~

For Jim and me, it was your basic Saturday… Farmer’s Market + coffee and muffin on bench in Central Park, a trip to Lemuria (me) to pick out a bunch more vegetable and herb starts… and picked out a new front porch plant: a red dragon Japanese Maple!

Mary our new gardener (she’s so much more) planted said vegetable and herb starts. Here’s just a portion of what we planted — strawberries, shishito peppers, more eggplant, watermelon and some lemon cucumbers in this bed and in the other big bed we planted some tarragon, honeydew, and maybe one or two other things.

Also planted some rosemary and thyme along the north fence:

And then Janet came over for dinner and we made this… puff pastry meets pizza… it was a bit weird but edible!

New View on the World

June 11, 2021

I remember a long time ago, my aunt Ellie was taking a drawing class and she was very excited about it. I was a young kid at the time, but I still remember what she told me about how, when one changes their perspective on the world, a whole new world emerges. She showed me how it’s easier to draw, say, a photo of a person’s face, if you turn the photo upside down. She said you’ll see it more clearly, and appreciate the nuances and subtleties of the portrait if you remove your preconceived notions of what that person looks like. Our brain has a tendency to be lazy, to not really see a subject or a view and instead rely on an already imprinted idea of what that person or place looks like. She told me to really see what’s in front of you, you’ve gotta change things up.

(It reminds me of when I was little and would lie on my back with my head hanging down over the edge of the bed and look at my room upside down. I’d pretend the ceiling was the floor and vice versa. Suddenly I’d see pictures on the wall in a whole new way, or I’d see a flaw in the paint I’d never seen. The relationship between space filled versus space empty was a whole new ballgame.)

Anyway, I changed things up today… not quite intentionally, but I achieved that desired effect. I was doing the whole loop around Putah Creek with Darlene. I always walk clockwise around that far end of the Arboretum, but today we walked counterclockwise around the lake (sorta lake). This meant I was seeing views I’d not quite seen before (well…. not in a long time anyway). Same creek, same trees, same islands in the middle of lakes, same trail… and yet, everything at that end of the Arb looked different.

For example, I never come to this fork in the road when walking clockwise, I’m just on one fork or the other.. but walking in the opposite direction it’s quite forky, isn’t it?

This view was also a bit gasp-worthy:

I’m certain this has implications well beyond creek views.

The Art in Heart

June 10, 2021

A couple weeks ago, Davis artist Mark Rivera passed away. The memorial for him this evening included an art walk from the Davis Food Coop to Central Park, passing eight of his pieces along the way. Eight. Then, several hundred people (by my estimation) gathered in the plaza for a memorial.

Again, I didn’t know Mark well, but was grateful to be in a familiar setting, among familiar faces, on a truly exquisite evening in my town, surrounded by a lot of love for one of our own. I was glad to have crossed his path, to have shared a small part of a wonderful project (the Compassion Bench, appropriately enough), and certainly understood, from my experience of him, what everyone was feeling. That is exactly the kind of community I cherish.

Andy — friend, pub quizmaster, former poet laureate — was the master of ceremonies. He wrote and presented this poem:

The Work, The Art

A Poem for Mark Rivera (1971-2021)

We walk past them, the grandiloquent creations

That appear as fantastical polychromatic sentinels,

Modern gargoyles standing guard on Davis street corners,

Artworks that fill our strolls and perhaps our dreams with color.

The creations guard against complacency, against tedium,

Daring even the hurried traveler to imagine something wild.

Reminiscent of an artistic renaissance, the intricacy astounds.

Each stone, each tile, each precisely chipped luminescent pebble

Has been imagined, formulated, and then perfectly placed

By a laborer, by a craftsman, by an artist who crafted

By heart and with heart, assembling collections

That reach towards transcendence, that coalesce into wonder.

A child tries to name what he feels as he gazes upon the work:

A spirit soaring towards sublimity, and then resting upon gratitude.

Two folks sang Gentle on My Mind, which seemed so fitting. Family members told stories of Mark’s past and the early life and traumas that shaped him. And then another hour of folks coming to the mic to reflect on the Mark they knew. Most spoke of the heart in his art, his kindness, his joy and loving spirit.

One friend begged people to get sober and at that moment I understood what had happened. I thought of Jeff and his memorial just a month ago.

Man.

Here’s some of the art Mark leaves behind. I found myself wondering how long the pieces will survive on walls, in front of downtown buildings, in people’s homes… 50 years? 100 years? More? Isn’t that a weird thought?

The Carrot in front of the Coop, from 2010

(sneaky photo credit: Andy).

Taking the Scenic Route, 2007, adjacent to the USDA building. This follows the ramp from the parking structure, wrapping around walls. It’s just stunning.

This is the Phoenix at 3rd and D. And in the picture is Donna Billick, his mentor and long time collaborator. She led the walk and made comments at the memorial. She told me they’d worked together on 85 pieces of art.

He’s all over town.

It’s a wonderful piece of yourself to leave behind.