Dan Gisvold at Bear Creek

Friday, April 29, 2011

Leon Redbone

Dan loved music. All kinds of music.

He loved Willson and McKee

He loved the Vocal Arts Ensemble

He loved Leon Redbone.

And tonight I had a date with my spouse to go to dinner with our children and share and evening with Leon Redbone.

The kids had no idea who he was. His music wasn't on their radar. But I thought I would introduce them to something a bit different.

I don't know if they liked it.

I know I did.

I know that Dan would have savored every minute.

This You Tube video has the same setting and one of the songs he sang tonight.


It was wonderful to watch him in person and feel Dan so close.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He was Awesome

Sometimes the offspring can spring one on you.

She was suppose to be studying. After all, she graduates from law school in August and takes the Bar exam in February. She is my retirement plan. She better be studying.

But she got to thinking about letting people know about our Farewell to Daniel.

She thought there ought to be a poster. So she designs one.

This is, as she says, her first draft. Of course it won't copy here because the file is too big and it is jpeg in a word document so blogger gets confusilated and shuts down.

So I thought I would at least show the picture. I hadn't seen it before.

Melodie and Dan at Camp Nelson

It was her first ride with him. He was telling her to ride like she was a piece of luggage. They were gone for a long time.

Anyway, she puts his name across the bottom of the picture and fills in the rest with
Then she tells people to come share their stories, songs and memories on the Sunday before Memorial Day at our cabin.

The poster is awesome. But more than that--the love that they had for each other was awesome.

I am so glad that Dan could give her that kind of unconditional, always there love that didn't come with any parental discipline or history. It just was.

And it always will be.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Not a Day

Not a day goes by that Dan is not in my thoughts.

I often find myself wondering what he would have said about this or that. I even wonder what he would think about my writing about him.

I have been deeply depressed from the last few days. I sang at a celebration of life for a long time supporter of VAE and we all sat through the service. It was very moving. The symphony played. Her daughter gave a beautiful eulogy. It was held at the Performing Arts Center on the Cal Poly campus which she had been involved in funding. There were lots of people.

Imagine being able to build this-

And then sing in it.

We sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You".

Yeah, the one that we sang at the end of our concert for Dan and Jed's mom and all the others that we lost these last few months.

And it kinda set me off. Or rather set me down.

I can't put a finger on it. It has just been a malaise. An inability to really do anything except stare into space.

I am starting to come out of it. We start singing for the California International Choral Festival tomorrow which means we sing in about 5 languages which have nothing in common with English. That should perk me up again.

Dan would be so pissed that I let the black cloud show up. Especially because he was somehow the cause. Time to get off my cloud and start living again.

I will think of him tomorrow with a happier thought process. I promise, Dan.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A-1 Sauce

I am cooking up a hamburger for myself tonight and open the fridge to get the A-1 Sauce for it.

Can't have a hamburger without A-1.

Can't have a steak without A-1.

Dad would get really ticked but Dan had to have his A-1 on the world's best filet. If it was red meat it had to have A-1.

We were a family of red meat carnivores. Meat and potatoes. Corn was allowed as were peas. An occasional green been casserole was acceptable at Christmas and Thanksgiving. My mother force fed us lettuce salads.   

Our father prided himself on the exact timing on the barbeque for the perfect steak. If people came to dinner we had steak and Dad barbequed them.

They were served with corn on the cob and baked potatoes. A token salad was afforded guests. Mom went out of her way to make that salad a big deal.

And A-1 was on the table.

The last meal that Dan had at my home was a hot dog.

Guess what he had on it?

I can't look a bottle of that stuff in the eye without smiling.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back in Time

Melodie's father sent me the first batch of pictures that he had taken when we were together. Kit (pronounced Keet, as in short for Chiquito) is a professional photographer now. Then he was an amateur but very, very good.  Most of his pictures were on slides which is why I did not have them and why it has taken 30 years to get them from him.

Thank heaven for scanners and Dropbox!

There were pictures of Melodie right after she was born. Pictures of his stints at the Air Bases in Thailand and Guam. There were pictures of me that I had never seen.

 And then there was this one.

Dan, Gael, Bill, Barbara Gael, and Giz - Chrismas, 1972    
The Gisvold family at Christmas in 1972. Mom was so excited. Dan was home from Germany and out of the Air Force. Bill was out of the Army. The only one still in harm's way at that time was my husband, Manuel (better known as Kit) He was in Thailand and its environs flying around in B-52s. (You might have guessed that he didn't take these pics!)

But everyone had gotten together that Christmas.
Add Melodie, and Bill's family-wife, Bernie, Jill (on Giz's lap), and Heather
These were our usual Christmas poses.

I remember that Dan would regularly have to find the outside just to get away from the group and the crowd. With us that winter were Kit's parents, and Bernie's family. It was a BIG DEAL.

That is why a huge backyard was a good thing. It was possible (and Dan often did this) to walk all the way out to the edge of the orange grove and no one could see you. You could stand there and look at the stars and hear the sounds from the house and still feel free. We both did that a lot.

These pictures are the reason that I used to celebrate Christmas by decorating every inch of any house I lived in. I hoped to recreate that Christmas.

The closest I came was 2009. Dan was stretched out on my couch, the kids were here and Mel and I made something very simple for dinner. We were happy. We were all very happy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Orange Blossom Festival. Huge deal in my hometown.

See Lindsay was carved out of an orange grove. Or that's what it smelled like in April. The sweet smell of those blossoms meant many things but to us kids they just smelled good. And they meant OBF.

Every year the high school and junior high bands would work very hard on their marching skills. The baton girls practiced tossing and catching. And the local civic groups made floats. Some were quite simple. And then there was the DeMolay float.

It was the year that Dan was the Grand Master. He and his friend Jon Awbry made (I thing Jon's mom was in on this,too) a red dog house with a life size, paper mache, Snoopy on the roof. Straight our of "Peanuts". Happiness is.......

It was grand.

I remember watching it (and them) go by our dad's office that day. Dad was so proud. Mom was all excited. I remember laughing.

Yesterday was OBF in Lindsay. I hope it left a good memory or two for some kid living there now.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Traffic Cams

Driving to work this morning I saw it. I should say I noticed it.

The traffic web camera.

It hangs on a huge pole right at the entrance ramp to Highway 101 at 4th Street in Pismo Beach.

I almost slammed on my brakes. Then I noticed that 1) I was in the middle lane, 2) I was going a bit over the speed limit and 3) there was a giant truck on my bumper. Not a good time to stop and reverse time.

You see, Dan would have me take that on ramp some mornings (instead of my usual one), pull over to the side of the ramp, get out of my car and wave at the camera. He would be sitting in his truck, on his computer, looking at the pictures from that web camera on the internet.

He said he waved back but I couldn't see him.

Then I would get back in my car and slide into traffic. He would always tell me if cars or trucks were coming and when it was safe to go.  Always protecting his little sister.

I think he waved at me today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Planning the Wake

The "plan" is to have a barbeque up at the cabin at Camp Nelson over Memorial Day weekend.

The initial thought was that we should do something at the little chapel there. My daughter gagged at that one. Dan hadn't been there since our cousin David got married some 30 years ago! Heaven (literally) only knows when the last time was that he stepped foot in a church except for a VAE concert. He just wasn't that kind of guy.

So the back deck is where everyone will be. Overlooking the South fork of the Middle Fork of the Tule River. Looking up the canyon past the "Umbrella Tree" to Slate Mountain. Listening to the wind come up the river gorge and sing through the pines and manzanita and oak. Pretty good church for a 1923 cabin.

One of the things that Dan did not get to hear that he wanted to hear was Jed, Melodie and I sing together. We never have done the trio thing. I am thinking about that. But it is hard to sing when you are crying and singing for him just might do that to me.

I shall cogitate upon the thought, as Dan use to say.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Encore

Tonight was concert night. It was the first concert since Jed's mom had passed. It was the first concert in the Mission since Dan had died.

Jed and I had talked about how strange it was that his mom and Dan had become friends the night of our Christmas concert. His mom was so upset when Dan passed.

It was very hard for Jed to be there. But he got into his spot and he sang. And I got into my spot and I sang. He was thinking of his mom and I was thinking of Dan and his mom.

We made it all the way through the program. We were enjoying the performance. We were singing well.

But VAE has a tradition.


Our director used to say "we will sing you one more song and then you really must go home." Tonight he changed his language a little.

He went to the microphone and said the he wasn't going to name people because it could cause some tears but that members of VAE had suffered losses of loved ones this year and the encore was a benediction for them. 

He wasn't just talking about Jed and me. There are at least 3 other people that have lost brothers, parents, and other relatives in the last few months. It has been devastating.

Gary acknowledged all of us. And then we sang.

"The Lord Bless You and Keep You" by John Rutter.

It is really hard to sing on key when you are crying.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've Had It

Enough with the dying. Brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, parents. It seems that everyone I know is losing someone.

Tonight Jed learned that his mother passed away. Suddenly. No warning.

The wound just can't heal. It keeps getting ripped open. I met Jed's mom once. At our last Christmas concert. She hadn't heard Jed sing in years and he brought her up to San Luis Obispo so that she could be here for our performance.

We went to dinner and had a wonderful time. We laughed and talked about life and our children. Right in front of them, of course. She was vivacious and full of life.

She cried when she found out that Dan had died. He had helped she and her husband get around the night of the concert. He had made a friend of her. Neither knew it would be the last time that they were to hear us sing.

My heart aches at the loss. It aches for Jed. It aches for all the loses.

Please tell me that this will get better. Please.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Golf. That was the object of Saturday according to our father. Every Saturday. He was out of the door before first light and back snoring in his recliner with a golf tournament on the TV by 4pm.

He made sure that Bill and Dan knew how to play. He occasionally took them on Saturday. He got them clubs and shoes and lessons. Me? Not so much. In Dad's era, women did not go on golf courses except to accompany their husbands on Sunday. And he wasn't really comfortable with that.

When I married Melvin, I took up golf. It was that or never see the man as he loved the game. So for the first time I got to play golf with my brothers.

I remember a round with Dan in Montana. It was at the local public course. Dan never kept his score. He just loved hitting that little white ball as far as he could. And the two putt rule was in play for every green.

We walked the course. I remember laughing as those long arms and legs twisted around into something that was suppose to be a golf swing. He had such fun. He wasn't into wearing the "proper" clothing or making any kind of low score. He just wanted to be outdoors having fun.

I, on the other hand, wanted to have a serious game. I think that lasted for one hole. I just gave up and had a good time.

Montana was green, the sun was warm, and my brother was with me hitting a little white ball all over the place.

I know now how to play 18 holes on a 9 hole course without passing the club house. We had a lot of fun.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fred and Ethel

Dan had profound effects on my daughter's life. From sitting with her at her first Christmas to encouraging her through her law school studies. He was in such awe of her intelligence and her focus. In fact, when she was about 6 he quit playing the card game of Concentration with her because she would whip his behind every time!

But my daughter is very serious. There is logic in everything. There is purpose in everything. She will make a great lawyer because fun for her is working.

Dan worked very hard to get her to play. To let go and just be.

Enter Fred and Ethel

When Dan took her somewhere and wanted to be silly he became Fred and she became Ethel. As Ethel, no one knew her, she didn't know her, and she could be silly and free.The first time they did it was on a beach in southern California. She was only about 7 or 8 but it was a lesson in not being embarrassed with being yourself.

It was hard for her to do. It was a foreign way to act and think. She was not allowed to analyze her actions or her thoughts. She was only allowed to act. It took her out of her comfort zone and showed her how many people live their lives.

She still has trouble playing. But every once in a while we pull out Fred and Ethel.

Malcom, Melodie, Trish, and Wendy learning to play spoons at a sugar shack in Canada (Vocal Arts Ensemble Tour)
He was an incredible uncle to her. He was an incredible friend