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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Deborah Turns 60


Today is our celebration of Deborah's 60th birthday (Oct 27). It's hard to believe we are reaching this "stage", when I can picture us meeting 34 years ago as if it were yesterday. I guess we were "kids" then - 4 years younger than our own kids are today, merging our happy hippy selves into a wonderful journey that will undoubtedly unfold to the end of our days. People are frequently surprised that we, who divorced over 25 years ago, have this best-friend-ness, but it surprises me that it isn't the norm among those who were married. The things we saw in each other in that blaze of coming together were true. Who better to co-parent with and share my inner self with than one who I respect, admire, and who knows me inside-out? In the scheme of things, our marriage was a chapter in our journey.

This afternoon we'll tell stories. I have so many to choose from. I remember the New Year's Day, when she thought we should mark the day in the way we wanted the year to turn out. She got to work baking delicious and healthy muffins and it was my job to go out distribute them to homeless folks. The fly in the batter was that the Manhattan homeless of 1984 were quite wary of strangers bearing food. One after another turned me down, no matter where I went. We had to bring all the bags full of muffins to a shelter instead.

The rainy day in Seattle when I ran from the car into a store and came back to find Deborah in the back seat and an elderly woman in the passenger seat. She'd been waiting without an umbrella at a bus stop and Deborah offered her a ride. After 45 minutes of looking for her destination, it turned out she thought we were in Manchester, England.

The terrible day that my Mom was killed in a crash with a drunk driver; Deborah and I were living apart and she was traveling in Mexico. I was subletting a farmhouse in Sonoma. We hadn't spoken in a month. I left for St. Louis. Deborah had a weird feeling and called the house that day. It should have just rang and rang in the empty place, but for some unfathomable reason, a friend of the woman I was subletting from had stopped by and picked it up. He had heard from the neighbors what happened. In those days before answering machines and cell phones there was no way for Deborah to reach me from Mexico and nobody would be answering the phone in my Mom's empty apartment. She rode buses, a train, and a plane for two days and walked into the St. Louis funeral home minutes before the service began. Now THAT surprises me, so much more than our enduring bond.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

"Hardly Strictly Bluegrass" hardly imaginable

The free 3-day music festival, "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass" is such an amazing gift. Five or six simultaneous acts - each in their own meadow area in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.....folk rock, blues, and even bluegrass. Lots of iconic performers and lots of lesser knowns. A zillion food booths; 5,000 Grateful Dead t-shirts sort of covering bulging bellies; a few million tattoos; hula-hoopers; ganja cookie sellers; beautiful youngsters in ecstasy-fueled eyeball-to-eyeball embraces; lots of young parents with little ones on their shoulders or in little bonnets and earplugs on their blankets; a 100,000 dogs of every size and color, 20,000 barrels for compost, recyclables, and trash - that everyone - even the grungiest street-people amongst us seem to use conscientiously.

And somehow it happens without any entry gates; without anybody checking through the backpacks that most people carry in with them. And with close to a million people together in very close quarters over three days, I haven't heard of any violence. What would the normal crime rates be over three days in a city of several hundred thousand? Thank you Mr. Warren Hellman for making this happen the past 11 years.

This year Sally and I only went to acts we knew....Allison Brown, Gillian Welch, Ruthie Foster, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, Civil Wars, Steve Earle, and Blind Boys of Alabama. All absolutely wonderful. I'll post photos on my flickr site before long.

While walking out of the park on Saturday night, a man asked desperately if any of us had seen a six year old red-headed boy with glasses. Immediately, about a dozen of us started calling out the boy's name, back-tracking or walking up ahead - determined to find him. The dad was holding the hand of the 8 year old sister who was crying her eyes out with worry. Within five minutes a young man approached and asked the man if he'd lost his little boy. The little boy had made it to Lincoln Street on the edge of the park and was looking up at the faces of all the adults leaving the park to find his dad. We all walked up toward the street and when the sister and brother saw each other, they both ran into each other's arms - hugging for dear life. It was so heartwarming.