complete flip

The year 2014 brought an interesting flip in how Terry and I do things.

TerryCalendarFor a number of years we have been creating a calendar from the photos of our trips. Initially the pictures were all mine. But as Terry got interested in photography we started including her photos as well. The first year that we included Terry’s photos three of the twelve were hers.

At the same time that Terry was getting more interested in and getting better at photography, I was hit by the realization that trying to get the right picture was interfering with my enjoyment of the particular moment. I also realized that I wanted to communicate more through my writing.

This meant that the balance of the calendar continued to shift. For our 2013 calendar Terry had nine photos and I had three. And then this year, our 2014 calendar, all twelve photos were Terry’s.

I’m fine with that. Terry is a good photographer who keeps getting better, and I enjoy writing.

It all works.

most things to many people

I’ve written about how we enjoy our local family owned market, Rocca’s. The full-service meat counter means that we rarely buy meat at the supermarket any longer. I was thinking about the various constituencies that Rocca’s serves, based on my observations while shopping.

  • There are people like Terry and me, the foodies. We like Tom Rocca’s quality cuts of meat which we can get in whatever amount we need. There is Poppy’s fresh seafood. There’s the cheeses, sliced to order. They carry locally made Frantoio Grove olive oil and local honey. And, of course, the wine department curated by Dan Rocca with his selection of  local wines.
  • There’s the guys who are serious about their grillin’. Perhaps they don’t do a lot in the kitchen, I don’t know, but I imagine they know their way around the gas grill. They come into Rocca’s knowing they have the best meat.
  • There’s the folks from the surrounding neighborhood or driving down Monterey highway for whom Rocca’s is the convenient spot for their beer and junk food.

For us, we appreciate Rocca’s for the first point. (And to a lesser extent, the second.)


when in doubt, sing

I met with my spiritual director, Linda, last week for the first time since she retired in December. It was good to have the opportunity to (virtually) sit together again. We have been meeting via Facetime since my company closed the campus that housed my cubicle and I’ve been working from home. It was a different experience seeing her in the surroundings of her home rather than the parish, and even stranger seeing her without her clerical collar. But it was wonderful to meet again.

I talked about the loss of Pete Seeger, and the fact that I blogged about San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik’s tribute to him.Garchik wrote about his marvelous ability to get his audiences singing, and how people would feel “a little more optimistic about life’s possibilities” after hearing him sing. I certainly do.

Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault

One song that Seeger was well known for teaching audiences was “Somos El Barco.” There’s a video of that on my Garchik blog. I told Linda about that song and sang a few bars. I then said that I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, a perception I’ve long had about myself. She said, “You just were carrying a tune.” She told me about seeing Cynthia Bourgeault at a clergy conference, who told her audience that we can all sing, that singing is a different way of knowing, and that we shouldn’t let others tell us that we can’t sing.

She also pointed to the bookshelf behind her, where she told me was a copy of the book by myWheninDoubtSing friend Jane Redmont called When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life, a title I introduced Linda to shortly after we began meeting. The book suggests a wide variety of ways in which one might pray. If you have questions about your own prayer life, take a look. At more than 400 pages there is almost certainly to be a method of prayer there that works for you. The title comes from a chapter near the end of the book that discusses music as prayer.

Linda mentioned the phrase attributed to Augustine, “When we sing, we pray twice,” which is also an epigraph to that chapter in Jane’s book. Based on that session, I feel a little better about singing in private. Still, there are some deeply ingrained inhibitions there. They go back to sixth grade at Hemet Elementary when we had a roving music teacher. She came to our class perhaps every two weeks. She would walk over to me, lean over my shoulder, and not like what she heard. I was never able to make adjustments to satisfy her.

Indeed, my cat Clea of blessed memory never liked my singing. When Terry and I would sing she would glare at us with a very clear message of, “No singing.” Think of Shrek in the original movie saying to the Eddie Murphy donkey character, “Don’t sing!” Even Tasha gave me an annoyed look the other day when I was singing a couple of lines.

This is, nonetheless, perhaps a small start to a new relationship with singing.

Secular Music Friday: Turn Turn Turn

Be sure to note Roger McGuinn’s tribute to Pete Seeger before he launches into the standard Byrds version. Thank you for this, Beth!

remembering Pete Seeger

PeteSeegerAfter Pete Seeger’s death I paid tribute in Sacred Music Friday, but I didn’t write anything. Certainly I admire Pete greatly, but I couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t sound trivial and a repetition of what everyone else was writing. Then Terry pointed out Leah Garchik’s tribute in last Friday’s San Francisco Chronicle, itself somewhat belated because she was in Europe at the time of his death. I never had the privilege of seeing Pete in person, but Garchik did. She writes about seeing Seeger at summer music camp when she was thirteen.

quoteWhen we responded to his irresistible invitation to join in and sing, our individual voices were swallowed up in the full sound of the chorus he’d created. The thrill was not only in the sound, but it was as though the sound was a metaphor for the whole Seeger ethos, his social and political idealism; yes, we can all do this together.

She concludes the tribute by telling us:

quoteYears later, as adults trying to pass along some of his magic, we took our kids to hear him at Stern Grove. Not much had changed. Fans listened to Seeger, loved him and walked away from his performances a little more optimistic about life’s possibilities.

That’s it. I walk away from hearing Pete sing a little more optimistic about life’s possibilities.

Thank you, Leah.

And thank you, Pete, for all you gave us. We miss you.

team effort in the kitchen

When it comes to cooking, generally it’s either Terry or me in the kitchen. There are exceptions. Certainly both Thanksgiving and Christmas are team efforts. On a typical Saturday morning, I squeeze the orange juice and cook the country sausage and then Terry takes over for the eggs.

We’ll also do “surf and turf” for a Saturday dinner. I’ll have my halibut or other seafood and Terry has steak. I get the baked potatoes into the oven and then prepare the marinade for my fish. I then get out of the way and let Terry take over. It works out well

For breakfast last Saturday I had, earlier in the week, suggested huevos rancheros. We had in the freezer country sausage from Rocca’s, leftover Tri Tip from our local barbecue place, homemade refried beans from when I had made tostadas, and leftover guacamole from a pervious meal. We always have generic brand Egg Beaters on hand and Terry usually has her eggs in the fridge. All I needed to pick up were the tortillas.

Saturday turned out to be wet and rainy — perfect for such a breakfast. I took care of the orange juice, and then fried the sausage, warmed up the refried beans in a sauce pan, and heated the Tri Tip in the microwave. I stepped aside. Terry fixed scrambled egg beaters for me and fried egg for herself then assembled everything.

A perfect breakfast for a wet, rainy morning.

reading a novel

novelsAn article which stated that “being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading” was making the rounds on Facebook in January. Since I have been reading strictly nonfiction for quite some time now I paid attention.

The last time I read a novel was when I had a physical Kindle. Being an iPad user with its Kindle app since August 2011, it’s been at least two and a half years. It’s probably been longer than that, because if I recall correctly the last several books I read on my physical Kindle were nonfiction.

I’ve had a few novels among my Kindle samples for quite some time, but when it came time to read the next book, I kept selecting nonfiction. That has changed. I recently saw a reference to The Last Enchantments by Charles Finch. Perhaps that article had some influence on me, but what really grabbed me was that the setting of the novel is the campus of Oxford University.

So once again I’m reading a novel. I’m enjoying it so far.

We’ll see if this creates a new pattern.