Thursday, October 7, 2010

Memorial Trees: Fall is for Planting

Autumn is a melancholy joy, such deep and abiding beauty, and behind the gauzy veils of Fall's Bright Tresses, sits Lady Death, She Who Weaves, She who takes in this thread, and cuts another. I see Her rocking at my pond side, counting the leaves, and as Dr. Clarissa says, tapping her foot and folding and unfolding her gloves.

When I was around eight years old, we moved out to the Country, to a big house with a scorched earth policy. They had scraped the top of the High Chaparral acre clean and clear of every shubbery and plopped a square white house on it. But it was "in the Country", and I loved it. My Grammy took me for a walk one day, with a shovel and a small bag and walked us down to the property line and unveiled a small Brazilian Pepper tree sapling. She told me to start digging a hole. When it was big enough to her satisfaction, she showed me how to tickle the wee tree's roots, and nest it into it's bed securely and safely, tamping the soil over the top. When we were done, she stepped back, looked at me, and said words that will follow me forever: "This is the Kathy Tree."

That tree is still there, Lo! These 40+ years ago, huge, magnificent, healthy. I moved from that house long and long ago, but the tree still calls my name in the breeze, if only I listen carefully.

When Grammy bought the house next door, we proceeded to plant the Unca Richie Tree, (an eastern redbud) the Auntie Lorrie Tree, (a Parlour Palm which was supposed to only grow to 8' tall, but when we planted it, beneath the patio at the corner, loved the site so much, that it pushed the roof. We eventually cut a hole in the roof, and the tree grew to a grandiose height of 25' tall. I moved from that house, where I took care of my Grammy, six years hence, but those trees are also still there, and also call my name on nights when the warm winds comes up from the South.

For Chrsitmases, I always bought a live tree, and planted them wherever I was living. San Diego is dotted with evergreens from my many residences, before I came home to take care of Grammy.

And now, the leaves are turning and Fall is brushing her long luscious locks, shaking her hair out. Fall is for planting. I bought a pink dogwood for Jerry Lipetzky, and I have his hole all dug out and ready next to the pond. The Jerry Tree. I think he'll like it there, listening to the ducks and the Great Blue Heron. I bought an Eastern Redbud tree, and I shall plant that next to the aspen tree, to shed dappled dancing light and shade into my living room during the hot hot spells of Summer. She shall be the Grammy Tree.

It will be like coming Home.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Jerry Lipetzky

The World lost an Advocate of Laughter last month, and today, everyone who knew him will either be at El Monte Park, or will be there in spirit to remember him, to laugh with him again, and to share what the man meant to so very many.

Jerry's Celebration of Life

Legacy Page

Jerry's Art (Besides the obvious!)

I hear Teachers say "I took this job because I wanted to make a difference", and Jerry truly did. He took a 9th grade required class, and unscrewed our parched mind and hydrated us with thinking, with vicarious living, with safety, with Nature, with the simple joy of breathing and laughing. He was Gallagher before Gallagher was Gallagher, smashing watermelons to demonstrate the audacity of maps, peeling oranges to show how they got that weird round blue marble onto a flat surface, squishing a sow bug to show what Europe looks like. He was most of our first glimpse into haute culture, preparing escargot, loving the smell, but unable to get past the fact that Johnny kept telling me he'd seen an antenna frantically squirming from between my lips "Help Me!" nibbling on small pieces of limberger cheese and crackers, pinkie extended, don' ya know..

And the extracurricular classes like the Bike Club where I joined the elite of Alpine at the Peugeot Plunge, adding my Subhuman monster to the collection of twisted limbs and spokes in the Malstead Mash, and later in the Season of the Vaqueros, the Lake Henshaw trip, where I was clipped by a trucker, and proved my ability to bounce bodily like a big rubber ball, and where that night, I caught a volkswagon bug on its' way into the gas pumps by jumping through the open driver's window and steering it -just barely- to the left where it hit the curb, but missed the gas pump. Picture it if you will, it is dark, and I see a volkswagon trundling straight at me, no lights on. "OH aren't you funny!" Wait, I can't see who is driving.. Goodness! They are shorter than I am ! Odd.. Maybe the dog is driving.. No wait.. No REALLY, wait now.. NO DRIVER??? uh oh .. What do I do? OK, do something to make car 1 not hit gas pump 2 and go boom. Yes, that's right. Go ahead OW!! I hit my noggin!

And the Summer of Archeology with Jeff Abshear at the Bancroft House where I suspect they still have our journal on display, Jeff with his outrageously delightful illustrations and me with the gift of gab and goofiness. We discovered three extraordinary finds! A proj point obviously used for brontasauri, an incredibly rare leaverite, and grape stakes from the orchard. Finding the joy in dirt, sweeping each dusting of the past away to reveal the puzzle pieces of that past. In this case, a rather interesting juxtaposition of Native peoples, Spaniash peoples, and Western European peoples.

Yes, Jerry was pivitol in our lives, in all our lives. He gave us a safe place to think and ponder, a safe place to question authority, an exciting and safe place to explore. He also gave many of us our first glimpse into living sustainably. Some of us needed this safety. Some of us needed the space to open our wings. Some of us went along for the ride, and what a ride it is! Thank you Jerry, for every smile, for every brush stroke, for every laugh at the absurd, for every Gift of yourself you gave us. Thank you, Jerry for being such a wonderful Teacher, Mentor, Delight and Inspiration. Thank you, Jerry, for your time.

With All My Love and Undying Admiration,

Kat Malstead
Class of '75