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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.

June’s a Good Month

June 9, 2021

I love when the month of June finally rolls around and I get to flip over the May page of my family calendar and see Mr. June Birthday himself. It’s just grand, isn’t it?

I still love paper calendars. That said, my calendar complement is down to two these days.. both of which are homemade, both full of fabulous photos, and both of which I love. Hats off to me and the other calendar designer (I’m looking at you, Elliot!).

I should say, the other eleven pages in my family calendar are great, too.. The whole thing works out pretty well with nearly all twelve of my inner family occupying alone the month of their birth. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s damn close.

Wuv

June 8, 2021

I just love this picture. I could look at it all day.

Also? I miss Peter.

Wish I had, but I don’t, a photo credit. Whoever took it: thank you.

Courage

June 7, 2021

This guy was welcomed back to work today with a lot of love and fanfare.

O

On top of an already challenging year for everyone (especially those whose jobs were all but eliminated) Michael was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells). He underwent aggressive, brutal therapies. He had a decent prognosis from the start, but that didn’t mean any part of it was easy or pleasant or without hiccups along the way. He’ll continue some of those therapies but has been given the green light to work again, and he jumped on it as soon as was humanly possible (and advisable/allowable by his doctors and Alaska Airlines). Michael’s attitude has been what it always is: relentlessly positive. He’s been stubbornly insistent about getting back to normal.

And there he is.. just months after the worst of the treatments, on the edges of a pandemic: Back to work and looking good!

I admire my brother-in-law and am especially grateful for his loving partner in life (my brother) and a close, supportive and loving community. They have a great life surrounded by caring friends and family. That makes all the difference.

Steve turned 65 this week, so we had him and Vicki over for dinner tonight to celebrate. I made a chocolate cake.. but something happened on the way to the cooling rack.

I posted this sorry little cake fail on Facebook and got some good comments….

Said Ron C: “Looks like a 7.1 on the Richter scale. I think we lost Coos Bay.”

Said Kent McM: “This is what is to be expected when baking with recipes from the San Andreas Cookbook.”

I also got a lot of theories on why it fell apart: too much baking powder; too little oil; forgotten eggs.. And I have to say, I’m in agreement that it was an egg issue. The egg I used was either too tiny, too old, or both. So… lesson learned: bake cakes using fresh ingredients.. esp those eggs. .

I served it anyway. I cut it into cubes (more or less) and served with a variety of ice creams and gelatos, plus strawberries, raspberries, and pears, for a build-your-own dessert extravaganza (perhaps extravaganza is a bit overstated).

It was a good save.

Geezers Unite

June 5, 2021

So glad life is returning to normal. We still hafta haul around a mask and put it on if we’re going inside most places, but that’s just about all that remains of the covid precautions. Compared to where we were, this feels like a genuine, glorious jailbreak.

Drove to Berkeley yesterday morning to resume once-or-twice-a-year breakfasts with this guy:

Elliot thinks he looks like an old geezer, like Alfalfa’s grandpa in The Little Rascals. I searched the web for a picture of that grandpa, but couldn’t find one… so I’ll have to take his word for it. But I think we look pretty good!

Cusp of Summer

June 4, 2021

So pleasing.

Shadows

June 3, 2021

So… I’m walking into the kitchen yesterday morning, early….like a little before 6:00, I wanna say. And notice this:

It got my attention right away.. but maybe it doesn’t jump out at you in the same way… here’s a closer look.

It’s the shadow on the pillar… recognize her?

It’s RBG!

Ruth sits on our kitchen window sill, welcoming all who appear at our front door (and wielding her gavel and pointing the way toward justice!)…

Her soapbox is an Apple iPhone box (an irrelevant fact), and she shares the space with my Kamala mug (the one where the shadow she casts is of Ruby Bridges, the young black girl who was the first to attend a white school under desegregation in 1960 New Orleans.) It’s hard to see in the darkness of the morning… here’s a clearer image:

It’s Pride Month

June 2, 2021

I love living in a town that honors its citizens, cares about everyone, and shows it.

Like before, a crew of citizens got up early on Sunday morning and painted all the crosswalks surrounding Central Park.

Dinner, Summer Style

June 1, 2021

This is one of the things I love about summer…..

And it’s only going to get better as summer veggies start coming in and fruits ripen. This was sort of an empty the refrigerator dinner.. but it was so good.