Dan Gisvold at Bear Creek

Saturday, August 4, 2012

King for a Day

He was a Leo. King of all around him.

Today he would have been 64.

Today I would have called him and sung a horrible rendition of "Happy Birthday".

He would have answered the phone and, instead of saying hello, would have said "Oh, god, not again" and I would have made the rendition even more off key.

I don't think I missed a Birthday in the last ten years of his life.

I don't call now. But I still sing to him. I just keep it in tune now.

Happy Birthday, Dan. I love you.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Today was the day that the master bedroom began it's makeover. (Note earlier posts on the new house)

Today it was just me and Justin, one of the contractor's employees.

Justin likes music. And he had some great stuff on his ipod.

So, as we worked we talked.

At first it was him telling me how to paint like a pro.

And I told him the stories that Dan told me about painting and restoring some of the old Victorians in Sacramento.

"How do you paint all that detail up four floors?" "You lean out the window."

As I told the story, I could see Dan leaning out some old window, risking life and limb to get an even coat of exactly the right color.

Then we talked about the music. Justin had put on some Beatles. He figured I would like that.

So I asked him what he liked. And he put on some folk-bluegrass. Heavy on fiddle and guitar. With singers like Seasick Steve.

I had never heard of the guy. But I am pretty sure that Dan would have.

It was just Dan music. Skilled, off-beat, and musical.

I missed him so much.

Then I realized that he was right there. Painting and singing with us to Seasick Steve.

Then there was a bit of Queen and things got REAL LOUD.

Glad the place in way out in the country!

Friday, February 17, 2012


I had been thinking that I hadn't heard from Ward in quite a while. I was afraid that there would be no more stories of Dan.

Then this email came.


"We grew up on Westerns. Hoppy, Gene, Roy, they were all there for us to emulate.  Before TV we listened to thrilling episodes of "yesteryear" on the radio.  Plots were purely melodramatic but uniquely exciting to the 8 year old mind.
The first adult Western I can remember was Gunsmoke  and I listened every week, Saturday morning (probably a re-run).  We were  one of the holdouts; I was 9 before we finally got a TV and then, much to my dismay,  Gunsmoke was on after my bedtime!  When I finally was allowed to watch It took some getting used to James Arness instead of William Conrad as Marshall Dillon.
Strathmore was the perfect Dodge City.  I would be so excited to be spending the night with Danny's Grandma Turney.  I think the folks were just as excited.  Visits usually coincided with the local dance club outing of which my parents and the Gisvolds were members.
So there we'd be- downtown Strathmore.  We'd put on our hats, strap on our guns, shoulder a "shotgun" and patrol the town's back streets.   Later on we'd visit the local saloon and Miss Kitty (Danny's Grandma) would serve us up something cold.
Of course those Saturday evenings culminated in our being snuggled down in front of the TV watching the latest episode of Gunsmoke.
During our visit we always went next door to visit Cese. Danny's Great Grandma the oldest person I had ever known. She sat in an old wicker-style wheel chair with a lap robe and had sparkly eyes, sharp as a tack.  I was impressed because she was alive during the Civil War.  My, she and Danny got along famously.  We always played cards while we were visiting her.  She had the first Cribbage Board I had ever seen and I always think of her whenever my wife and I play Cribbage.  The visit was never complete without iced tea and, I think it probably was Sassafras but I can't be sure. 
I'm sure that one of the reasons Danny was such a great caring human being was due, in part, to the great nurturing from the Turney household  in Strathmore."
This brought up so MANY memories. I can see Dan at our grandmother's house (we called her Nana) hiding in the attic, running next door to Cese's house, picking lemons, and helping make pomegranate jelly. 
Ward, keep them coming.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012


A long time ago, I got a call from Dan. He was on the side of the road in Montana. He had been driving home from the truck center. He had been driving for a few days and he was tired.

But when he called he was a bit excited.

He had hit a deer.

On the highway.

Going home.

Wrecked the car.

Hurt the deer.

But he was fine.

I remembered the long lecture I got about driving on dark roads in the country. After all I had just had a physical discussion with a boar and my father-in-law's car. (The boar lost)

So he was at the side of the road with a crushed front end telling me to be careful.

At the time I could have strangled him.

But today, driving to our new house in the middle of nowhere, in the Coast range, I almost got my own deer. Four of them to be exact.

Two of them came leaping across the road and I had plenty of time to miss them.

The third one had to have been on a death mission. I missed him with significant room but only because of what Dan had told me.

Watch the sides when you see one.

One leapt out and the fourth stayed put.

They were beautiful creatures and all I could see was Dan at the side of the road.

Lessons well learned.

Thanks for the lecture, Dan.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Dan would be livid.

Absolutely livid.

Not because I am upset but because HE would find this kind of lily-livered, politically motivated, STUPID decision by the Susan G. Komen Foundation INSANE.

You see, Dan used to help out with Planned Parenthood. His first wife and several of his friends worked at PP in Sacramento. He got me a part-time job there when I was in law school. Dan's support of women's health was total.

He was all excited when I decided to support SGK walks. He loved reading the stories that my friend Karen wrote about her training for the Walk. He thought that the cause was not only worthy but was free of politics.

So when the news hit last night that SGK was pulling its support of PP because of a congressional investigation, I could hear him hit the roof. Especially since there is NO investigation. There has been a request by a Republican congressman for an investigation. There has been no hearing scheduled. Just a threat.

And I thought McCarthyism was dead. So did Dan.

He would be really glad for all the people that have stood up on Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Who have called and signed petitions and made their voices heard.

I can hear him saying "what are you thinking?" to the SGK people. Then he would note the change in the administration and say, "what did you expect?".

I guess we all expected that SGK would want to help women.

I hope we aren't wrong.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The New Place

We have purchased a new house.

It is ten miles from the nearest hamlet and 20 miles from where I work in San Luis Obispo.

It is nestled in the Coast Range in what is considered high desert.

There are pastures and oaks. There are deer. Probably a bear or two. Raccoons for sure.

It is on a private well. It uses propane and there is NO cell reception.

It is a perfect place.

For Dan.

He would have loved the isolation. He would have loved the quiet. He would have loved the wildlife.

The other day I took a break from the interior painting. (Fumes, you know!) And I am standing on the back deck looking out at the neighbors pasture.

I had been thinking about how Dan would have loved the place. How much I wished he was there with me.

Then I realized.....

He already was.

It felt like he was everywhere I looked. Every place I touched.

He was in every rock and tree and bush.

This was a place he loved.

I am at ease with that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

76 Trombones

Ward is a wealth of stories about Dan. Things I had no way of knowing (I was the baby sister, after all.) and Bill had left for college when most of these things happened.

But when I discussed the latest of Ward's musings with Bill, he, like me, could just see Dan doing the things that Ward describes.

So here is the latest from Ward. Thank you for putting a grin on my face as well. By the way, I have shortened the name of the villain to avoid any repercussions!

We started music in grade school.  It was an important entity to Lindsay's persona.  Mr. Kemper was our first instructor and he helped us and our parents select the instruments we were to be married to. (Kemper also owned the local music store and sold or rented out most of our horns.) I got the clarinet (something about my mouth shape-I was really hoping for a trumpet).  Danny started on the trombone.  At first it was bigger than he was but Kemper must have been a prophet cause when Danny grew his physique emulated that instrument. 
By the time we were in the Jr. High Band we had uniforms- hand me downs from the high school, I think.  Ill fitting scratchy wool gaberdine - they said I looked like the organ grinders monkey with the tin cup.  The crotch of my pants almost reached the floor with the waistline at my armpits.  Danny's hung like clothes on a stick scarecrow.
We never took anything seriously in those days, especially band.  Band was an enjoyable release from scholastic activities.  Sour notes and other interesting sounds could be produced on our horns at inopportune moments.  Band teachers failed to appreciate our efforts.  None the nevertheless we had a succession of instructors that whipped our band into an award winning entity. Mr. Kemper passed away of a brain tumor and was replaced by Mr. Roach, a young cocky trumpeter who we adored and would do anything for. Roach got hired away and Henry Leal was his successor.  Dark hair, tall, mysterious looking Mediterranean, he gave us the score to Victory at Sea which we all loved to play.  The band was excellent.
Mr Jones came to stay when I was in my Sophomore year, Danny was a freshman.  We soon discovered that he had a temper and we could get his goat at will.  To counter our subterfuge Jones, Fella, Mr. (our name for him)  appointed Dave, DRUM MAJOR!!! Dave took his job and everything else much too seriously and soon got slaunchwise with Danny and me; because he often was seated next to the trombone section, he gave Danny an especially hard time.  He often made life miserable on band trips especially on the bus where there was very little supervision, if any.  Danny took a lot of guff from this bully and came close to throwing punches.
So here's the story.  There was a big production of THE MUSIC MAN in Visalia.  The call went out for trombones and trumpets from every county high school.  The finale had trumpets and trombones marching down  the aisleways of the auditorium to the stage playing "76 Trombones.  ( Now Danny got a great big grin and glint in his eye when he told me about this the Monday or Tuesday after it happened, and he had the same look when he retold the story some 50 years later.)  It seems to Danny's incredible luck that the trombones marched behind the trumpets and going down the path just in front of Danny was Dave.  Danny's words were the same both times he related the story.  " I never played a note.  I just got as close as I  could to Dave and kept ramming my slide into his backside with every step."  There was a lot of marching in place and Foster just had to take it.  Poetic justice was served.
So as I was throwing feed to my chickens and peacocks, feeding and petting my foster cats, I remembered Dave's name.  I had everything else as sharp as the first time Danny told it, just couldn't remember the villain.  I started to smile, then grin and chuckle cause I can just see Danny strutting down that aisle whanging away at Dave with his slide.  I can see him in the band room stretched out on his chair blowing for all he is worth and the tune is either "76 Trombones" or "Victory at Sea".

And that is where my brother's grin comes from!!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Others Remember

We are still finding people who do not know that Dan is dead.

It is so hard to say that. I don't like to think that he is. He is just gone and somehow that thought lets me believe somewhere that he will be back.

But I will always have my memories. No one can take them from me.

And so do all of his friends.

The following is from Dan's childhood friend, Ward T. Ward was one of the ones that just found out about Dan. Through his tears, he wrote me this:

Bikes.  Growing up we were always on our bikes and we went everywhere.  It's  interesting  that Danny's last bike was like the bikes we grew up on.  Three speed Sturmey Archer "Mary Poppins" style bikes.  Danny's was red.  I had a black "Indian".  School, music lessons,(Hannigan's of course), Boy Scout meetings, baseball practice, swimming pool we were all expected to get  there on our bikes unless it involved being after dark or it was raining.  A flat tire was like being grounded.

I don't know where the idea came from, but Danny and I would drop the front wheel off one of our bikes and then bolt the front fork over the back wheel of  the other bike and, presto!! - an articulated tandem.  We rode all over town like that.  I don't think the idea was too popular with the folks.

There was nothing quite like the carefree freedom we had and the independence bestowed on us via our bikes.
We grew up in a wonderful town at a wonderful time. We were allowed everywhere (well, almost everywhere) And we were watched by everyone in town. We felt so very safe. 
Thank you, Ward. He is alive with our memories.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

At the Feet of Hemingway

Dan loved the writer's conference that is held every year in Idaho. Bill would (at first) sneak him in and later got him tickets. Dan just absorbed all of the intellectual discussions and thoughts. He was in "hog heaven".
He tried to go every year but couldn't always get out of the truck schedule.

So when Bill was in Idaho this last week, he took the remaining remains of Dan to the site of the writer's conference. There is a memorial to Hemingway there and some grassy areas that Dan loved.

On the memorial is written:

Best of all, he loved the fall.
The leaves yellow on cottonwoods
Leaves floating on trout streams
and above the hills
The high blue windless skies
…Now he will be part of them forever.

He lies there now. 
At the feet of Hemingway.