Sunday, May 31, 2009

Healdsburg Jazz Festival

Sarah and I went with friends Richard and Brenda to the Healdsburg Jazz Festival to take in an afternoon of Brazilian Samba music. It was a very pleasant afternoon—warm and lazy. We packed a sharable picnic lunch.

The emcee was KCSM's Latin Jazz host, Jesse Chuy Varela. It turns out our seats were right behind his, so I got to meet him. It was a thrill for me because I've been listening to—and enjoying—his Latin Jazz program for a long time. I'm particularly fond of Latin Jazz, ever since I first developed a taste for music on my own. The first album I ever bought was titled "Getz/Gilberto" a black album with an abstract modern orange painting on it. It featured the bossa nova sounds of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. Great music that is still played today.

Jesse Chuy Varela introducing the first act of the afternoon.

Me, Jesse, and Sarah.

Garden Walk

A group of Sebastopol citizens (OK, I confess, it's us and friends of ours) sponsors free monthly walks about town to promote walking and community. Saturday's 4 mile walk about town attracted 93 walkers.

This large group of walkers toured 7 backyard gardens in town. Three of the yards were owned by professional landscapers and three yards were owned by committed amateur gardens, and one, ours, was a more ordinary garden.

Walkers gather at the Town Square to begin the Garden Tour.

93 people walking down the street tend to stretch out a bit.

The pond at Eric Olsen's house. His yard was like the Garden of Eden: edibles everywhere.

Kathy Oetinger, a skillful amateur gardener, talks about her garden.

In Arlene Kallen's back yard.
Arlene's been a friend since forever.
She recently retired from her career as Sebastopol's librarian.

In Nick Kishmirian's yard. He's a neighbor, friend, fellow hiker, and professional landscaper.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gratitude: Next Year's Class

I've had the chance to meet the children who will be in my kindergarten class next year.

It looks like it will be a particularly enjoyable group of students next fall. There will be 6 grand-students in the mix.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Walk Across the Laguna

Just before sunset I set out for a walk across the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

I hoped that the seasonal bridge would be in, and it was.

The Laguna's waters are quiet all summer long.

100 years ago, the waters much more extensive and included lakes.

The earliest settlers went on boating excursions. Much of the wetlands were "reclaimed" for agricultural uses. Today, the remnants of the Laguna afford habitat for the wildlife that survived human interference.

My friend Richard Nichols was a leader in preserving and restoring what was left when he began taking an interest in the Laguna 20 years or so ago.

This bench has a plaque that features
an appreciation of our earth by Alice Walker.

We have a beautiful mother.
Her green lap immense,
Her brown embrace eternal,
Her blue body everything we know.

The mile-long loop trail
Through a peaceful savanna
Good day, dear, sweet Earth.

Bike Ride with Davy

David, Ian, and me after pizza. The oven is behind us.

I first met David in 1963. We were both in seventh grade and had the exact same schedule. My name being Gurney and his being Heintz, contiguous alphabetically, he sat behind me each day all day in seventh grade. Eighth grade was the same. Fate? Karma? I don't know.

The idea that students may sit where they please hadn't been thought of yet, I guess. Friendship arose out of our administratively-imposed togetherness. We have since shared a lifetime of friendship.

Yesterday we rode our bicycles in Point Reyes National Seashore on the unpaved Stewart's Trail to Wildcat Beach along with David's nephew, Ian. Afterwords we shard a meal featuring brick-oven cooked pizzas in Point Reyes Station.

I love my conversations with David because he knows me like a brother and isn't impressed by anything I might say. He'll ask any question and challenge my points as few people do. Keeps me on my toes.

His nephew, Ian, edits college philosophy textbooks for a living. So our conversations yesterday tended towards the philosophical. It was, for me, satisfying and meaningful. We're planning more meetings this summer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

San Francisco At My Feet

I carpooled to San Francisco with my friends and neighbors Richard, Brenda, and Nick to join the Northbay hike along the California Coastal Trail there. Richard led the hike. Nineteen hikers traveled the 10.5 mile loop beginning at the Golden Gate Bridge and meandered west along the California Coastal Trail out to the Great Beach before looping back through Golden Gate Park and the Presidio.

Here are a few pictures I took along the way.

The Golden Gate Bridge. It was quite overcast and chilly.

The mansions in Pacific Heights are among the most beautful residences I know.

The ruins of the Sutro baths.

A rose in the Rose Gardens of Golden Gate Park.

A protea growing along the sidewalk along Park Presidio Drive.

Our group listens as Richard tells us how Mountain Lake is the
only spring-fed natural Lake in San Francisco.

Nearing the finish of the day. Richard received a "standing ovation" at the end of the hike.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Arthur Rubenstein

I like all kinds of music, but I suppose my favorite genres are jazz and classical. One instrument I always enjoy listening to (and wish I had learned to play when I was a kid) is the piano.

One master of the piano was Arthur Rubenstein, pictured above, who not only played well, but also said a thing or two worth remembering:

I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.


To be alive, to be able to see, to walk, to have houses, music, paintings—it's all a miracle. I have adopted the technique of living life from miracle to miracle.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cherry Blossoms

We accept the graceful falling
Of mountain cherry blossoms,
But it is much harder for us
To fall away from our own
Attachment to the world.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gratitude: Society of Friends

The gift of the Dharma exceeds all gifts.

This evening I feel deeply grateful to my friends who came this evening to share tea and wisdom: going round the room, where your presence is felt, still: Christain, Louise, Roger, Walter, Sue, Eve, and Richard.

May you be happy, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you be at ease.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kindness: A Poem

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes

Here is a lovely poem that expresses so beautifully the connection between sorrow and genuine kindness. The kindest, deepest people I know have experienced their fair (or more) share of sorrows.

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

—Naomi Shihab Nye from Words Under Words: Selected Poems

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sailing on the Bay

A good way to go sailing is with friends on their boat. The "pride of ownership" isn't worth the costs and headaches from where I sit.

Perhaps an even better way is to go with a friend who has a membership in a Sailing Club that owns a bunch of boats and lets its members take them out.

Last month a group from my sailing club including my sailing and teaching pal, Mike Witkowski, went down to Sausalito to sail a 38 foot catamaran (an Australian-built Seawind 1160) as the guest of our Commodore, Steve Sarsfield. Steve's a member of the Modern Sailing Club. Steve is certified to take out any boat in their fleet.

Steve planned the whole event, including lunch and dinner on the boat.

Did I mention that he prepared a plate of snacks to tempt us as we got ready to cast off?

We sailed outside the Golden Gate where we saw dolphins, seals, and quite a few pleasure boats. It's often quite wild outside the Gate, but on this cruise we enjoyed light winds and warm temperatures.

Steve encouraged everyone to take a turn at the wheel. I skippered the boat from Alcatraz Island to Angel Island. I enjoyed taking the helm in the best winds all day, which seldom reached 10 knots.

Had a turn on the winches, too.

We got back to the dock as darkness fell after a full day of sailing on the San Francisco Bay.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

iWalk Sebastopol

Today we spent most of the day walking, talking, and singing our way around town. It's all part of a new program called iWalk Sebastopol, a project of the County Health Department to get people in touch with the noblest form of transportation for humans ever: walking. It was great fun to walk and talk and sing!

The walk started—and finished—at the Sebastopol Town Plaza. About 30 people began the loop around town here at the Plaza as the Mayor gave us a little pep talk to begin. Our friends and walking superheroes Richard and Brenda led the first leg of the walk to the high school.

By the time we got to the Peace Park, we had picked up the leader of the third leg of the walk, Jim Corbett, aka Mr. Music, Sebastopol's 2009 Citizen of the Year, here posing with my wife the Mayor. I cannot tell you how much fun I had singing and walking around town. It was like Christmas Carolling, but in a much more pleasant season of the year.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Open House

This was Open House night at Dunham. Lots of conversations with students from this year, from the past, and some from the future, too.

I'm feeling very fortunate to have such a nice place to work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Teacher Appreciation Day

Today, I am grateful for the expressions of appreciation that I received at work today.

  • Dashiel gave me a balloon bouquet.
  • The Student Council put on a breakfast buffet which you can read about over on Mr. Kindergarten.
  • And the PTO brought in a masseuse who gave me a wonderful massage this afternoon.

It's psychic income.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Don't Laugh at Me

Many years ago at the Sebastopol Apple Fair I saw a singer songwriter whom I thought had unusual talent. His name? Steve Seskin. He co-wrote the song, Don't Laugh at Me sung here (click the title) by Mark Wills.

Something about this song really gets me. For many it's probably overly sentimental, but oh well.

I hope you'll enjoy it, too.

I'm grateful for music, especially songs that touch my heart, as so many of his do.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Riddle's Answer/Gratitude

Delwyn and Sarah Lulu got the answer to the riddle, or the one I had in mind: Love.

Love can be created, but is not seen. Love can multiply, but is one. Love is felt, but cannot be touched.

Love is an aspect of reality that is apprehended by the mind, the sixth sense, in the Buddhist accounting of the senses.

Gratitude for the day: the sun, the wind, and the stars.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Riddle and Gratitude

What can be created, but is not seen? What can multiply, but is one? What is felt, but cannot be touched?

(Answer tomorrow)

Gratitude for today:

Living close enough to the California coast to be able to take a hike—on Mother's Day—with my wife.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another Poem from Mary Oliver

This poem below by Mary Oliver is a delectable pairing with Suzuki-roshi's quote from yesterday about bugs being Buddhists, too.

I first read this poem last month when I was vacationing in Mendocino. It has lodged itself in my brain since then. In a pleasant way, despite being a thought that borders on intrusive.

Thanks to this poem, animals feel like closer relatives....

Here it is:

Almost a Conversation

I have not really, not yet, talked with otter
about his life.

He has so many teeth, he has trouble
with vowels.

Wherefore our understanding
is all body expression—

he swims like the sleekest fish,
he dives and exhales and lifts a trail of bubbles.
Little by little he trusts my eyes
and my curious body sitting on the shore.

Sometimes he comes close.
I admire his whiskers
and his dark fur which I would rather die than wear.

He has no words, still what he tells about his life
is clear.
He does not own a computer.
He imagines the river will last forever.
He does not envy the dry house I live in.
He does not wonder who or what it is that I worship.
He wonders, morning after morning, that the river
is so cold and fresh and alive, and still
I don't jump in.

—Mary Oliver
from her book, Evidence

Saying Grace

Here's a few words of grace I'm going to try out for the next few days before I eat or drink anything. I got them from my teacher, Dharmajim.

I invite you to join me in this practice, and comment as we go along....

Here is Jim's grace, edited ever so slightly by the guy who can't leave well enough alone:

With every bit of food
The whole world sustains me.
With every breath I breathe
The whole world sustains me.
I now accept this food
With gratitude and thanks.
May I use this gift of food
For the benefit of all sentient existence.

If you already say grace, keep doing it. Maybe you will decide to share your words of grace in the comments section.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Suzuki Roshi Quote

Shunryu Suzuki had a wonderful way with words. Here's something he said that I ran across today:

If you are not a Buddhist,
you think there are Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

But if you are a Buddhist
you realize that everyone's a Buddhist—even the bugs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gratitude: Those Who Stand by Me

For all who've stood by me, I am grateful.

And that's a lot of people.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gratitude: Listening

Tonight I feel grateful to the following 5 people for listening to me and coming to a decision that was informed by the heart:

Dave, and

You made my day.

Also, I want to thank the Society for sending me their thoughts and prayers. I believe you made a difference.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Think Locally, Act Neighborly

As I was going through the check out at the locally-owned produce stand where I buy a lot of my food, I picked up this little note about supporting our local economy.

Spending money in businesses that are owned by people I know is really important to me. If you click on the picture, you can enlarge it and 6 reasons why local economic activity is worthy of your consideration.