Students shine at the Dunbar talent show; catching up with the Aguilars
The folks of Glen Ellen
Where all kids are above average
As I promised at the end of last week’s column, this week I have news about our Glen Ellen hometown school, Dunbar. Last week, on Valentine’s Day the school community presented their annual talent show. That event has been going on for even longer than I can remember and it’s always a hoot – touching and beautiful, too. This year, I was alerted to the show first by my mentee, who played a beautiful piano duet with a friend. Then, a couple of days later, on a sunny Saturday, a loud knock on our door called me to answer, and ended with an enthusiastic endorsement of Dunbar’s talent show.
Wagon load of cookies
There standing still on my stoop, was the cutest elf of a girl I’ve ever seen. Pleadingly, she asked, “Want to buy some cookies?” Looking at her empty hands, I asked to hear more. Turns out her papa was parked just behind the hedge with a homemade green wagon, filled to the top with Girl Scout cookies, all varieties, in ample quantities to satisfy even the most voracious customer. Which, I must admit, I am not, having already eaten my lifetime allotment of such things.
I only purchased one box, and that was simply because Sophie, the little Girl Scout, was utterly charming. She could have sold a box of cookies to Scrooge himself. Turns out she had more news than just about cookies.
Sophie was excited to be in the following week’s talent show at Dunbar where she is a second grader. She told me she had written an original song for the hummingbirds that frequent the feeder at her home. Sadly, the feeder had broken. I imagine her multi-versed melody included an apology to the hummingbirds with the good news of a new feeder.
Sure enough, on Valentine’s Day, Sophie appeared on stage, dressed in a beautiful full-skirted party frock, which made her look like a living angel. She spoke loudly in introducing her song, but once she began to sing, her sweet voice was drowned by the enthusiastic appreciation of her audience. I’d love to hear Sophie’s song in person. If she and her papa will just bring more cookies to Creekbottom, I’ll buy a few boxes for her to give to our Glen Ellen firefighters. They are the kind of lively folks who can eat boxes of cookies with impunity. Yes Sophie, and I will listen silently to your lovely hummingbird song.
Among my favorite acts at the talent show were fourth grader Gabe’s rendition of “Gangnam Style,” Phillip’s plaintive and emotional version of “What a Wonderful World” and Piper’s rousing version of the “Annie” song, “Tomorrow.” What talented kids, what poised and powerful entertainers.
While those were among my favorites, I also appreciated Jonathan and Tony dancing, Hailey singing “Some Nights” and Margarita and Marcela’s piano duet, “Twinkle, Twinkle.”
Super hula hoopers Ella, Cole and Victoria impressed their classmates with wild moves that I never knew back in my hoopin’ days (before all those cookies). Cole came out again with a few expert gymnastic moves, while Carlie and Daphne celebrated their friendship with a sweet ballad, “Friends.” Daphne then returned to sing “Lean on Me,” the mentoring center’s favorite song.
Alexa read two poems, “If Turkeys Thought” and “Thirty Days,” the simple rhyme all of us old folks learned long ago to recall the number of days in any given month. The talent show continued with Esteban M and Esteban V dancing a wild wrangle to “Everyday We Shuffle,” which I thought was the theme song for nursing homes. No way: the two Estebans showed me just how wild a shuffle could be. Thank you, gentlemen.
Antonia stood up and recited a couple of tongue twisters that I wouldn’t attempt, with Diego up next sharing some good down-home jokes. Justin sang a beautiful rendition of “Can You Feel It,” which sent chills up my spine, then Chloe stepped up to dance “Fireworks.”
The next act featured Piper, again, this time with her friend Amelia reciting a 99 second version of “Harry Potter.” After Piper sang “Tomorrow,” Amelia came back to perform a few great gymnastic moves, wowing the audience with her graceful splits. Luna and Sara played and sang a beautiful version of the ancient carol, “What Child is This?” Emma and Lily B sang “Count on Me,” while Michaela and Isabella recited the poem “Mermaid.” Michaela performed again, this time on the piano. After dancing his rockin’ “Gangnam Style” routine, Gabe also did a few gymnastic routines, including again, the splits. Lily H was charming with her magic act, while the trio of Jaymee, Katrina and Yolanda performed another magic act. Dominik sang “Fireflies” and Jason and Kurtis played their instruments. The penultimate act was done by the Dunbar Garden Coordinator Alissa Pearce and her daughter, Jayme, as they played a funky and fast-paced duet with cups. Banging the table in unison, in rhythm, and counter-rhythm, the song they played and sang was jolly. The final performance included almost all of the Dunbar teachers in a rousing rendition of Aretha Franklin’s ’60s hit, “Respect.”
Remembering Mrs. Krempely
The entire show was dedicated to the memory of the late, much-loved Dunbar teacher, Kathy Krempely, whose husband, Dennis Krempely, was in the audience.
To end the show, all of the assembled teachers led the student audience in Mrs. Krempely’s rousing chant, which roughly goes, “Hip, Hip, Hooray! Hip, Hip, Hooray! Thank you and Have a Great Day! A Great Week! A Great Weekend!” Mrs. K was known for happily and loudly singing that little ditty to any student who deserved it, or to any parent volunteer, or simply anyone who needed a little encouragement. The crowd that day loved it, and Mr. Krempely left knowing just how much his late wife was loved and appreciated for all her years at Dunbar School, the gem of Glen Ellen.
The wonderful Dunbar teachers that we have to thank for all the work involved with this year’s talent show include Karen O’Hara, along with Wendy Wellander on sound, with Cheryl Coldiron and Renea Magnani leading Mrs. Krempley’s chant.
Winter chill in GE
Remember last week when the wind whipped up a little storm, the temperature dropped and hail pelted our roofs? That’s California’s version of winter. Within minutes, the sun was peeking out behind the clouds and a rainbow arched over Glen Ellen. Ah, life is good in our hometown.
Three days earlier the temperatures had approached near 70 and my cohorts at the indoor ACAC pool were singing the praises of outdoor lap swims. I remained inside in the soothing 90 degree waters stepping through my usual routine: water walking, jumping jacks, shooting stars, accordions, cake slicing and bicycling. Sounds so adventurous, while truly it’s rather mundane and routine. The only things that keep me focused are talking to friends as I exercise and, several times a week, basking in the sensuous pleasures of Milena Pritel’s water yoga class.
Tropic heat in Cameroon
But ’tis true that the temperatures have been up and down in our part of town, mostly down I’d say. On one of those nasty, almost frosty mornings where even our phony fire failed to warm me, I was finally thawed by a beautiful description of air so warm that one’s skin comes alive with the prickle of sweat and the embrace of heat, all compounded by the disguise of red dust.
The transporting and extremely brief message of skin temperature was from Glen Ellen hometown gal, Kirsten Aguilar, who is currently in Cameroon. Her blog (found at kirstenincameroon.wordpress.com) easily guides one to another world, full of new adventure and disorienting views of the world, while following Ezra Pound’s advice, “Keep it new.” Kirsten is in Cameroon for four and a half months as part of Middlebury College’s Study Abroad Program. Kirsten’s major is international studies with a focus on Africa. Since French is the language of postcolonial Cameroon, this also tied in with Kirsten’s studies.
Cutting teeth at the I-T
Back in the day, Kirsten honed her writing skills by working as a high school student reporter at The Sonoma Index-Tribune. Her dad, famous local musician David Aguilar, tells me that his favorite pieces of writing from that period were “The Funny Thing about Death,” and another one about learning language in school. Kirsten also wrote a piece I loved about buying a bike (in lieu of her dream car).
Her blog from the Cameroon city of Yaoundé keeps her friends informed about her adventures half way around the globe, while it calms her parents’ nerves.
Believe me, I have some inkling of the anxiety, mixed with admiration, that David and his wife, Kirsten’s mom, Wendy, are experiencing. When our younger son, Gabriel, took off for a semester in South Africa, Sweetie and I were fraught with both emotions, especially with extra-mural adventures like participating in an AIDS demonstration in Capetown that was televised on the evening news as a wild and riotous event. I didn’t see it (thankfully) though Gabe’s papa (aka, Sweetie) did on his computer. Turns out that Gabe’s days in Jo’burg (Johannesburg) and on safari where much more dangerous on the whole. Once, when my friend, Joan Riebli shared a harrowing tale of J’burg with me as I was perusing the happy movies at her store, I almost fainted.
Yet, Gabe fared well, as will Kirsten. I know this to be true – in retrospect – but meanwhile it’s hard for parents to not stress.
Yes, stress, fret, and worry at the same time we are thrilled and proud of our peripatetic kids who adventure to places far from home and far from the slow and steady happenings in Glen Ellen.
Reading in Hayward
Meanwhile, while the Aguilar’s daughter Kirsten roams west central Africa, their daughter Ashley Aguilar is relatively near home working as a site coordinator at Partners in Reading Program in Hayward. The program is affiliated with the well-known and highly lauded AmeriCorps Program.
Ashley graduated from Brown University in 2011 and happily returned from Rhode Island to the Bay Area. She is the process of earning her teaching credential. We love hearing that brilliant and caring young people are choosing to become teachers. It is a rewarding and important career.
Daughters Kirsten and Ashley came up in conversation when David and I were talking at intermission of the excellent French Gypsy Band show, “One Night In Paris,” featuring Glen Ellen local, French blues singer, Michel Saga, at the Sebastiaini Theatre recently. David often does the sound for special shows at that venerable Sonoma institution. He’s a dedicated and talented musician himself and he makes sure that other musician’s talents are well presented on stage.
As for the musicians on stage: what a delight. Michel is often seen at our local farmers’ markets singing and playing his beautiful 19th century instrument, the French barrel organ. But the show with his talented musical cohorts was a revelation, as they performed Gypsy jazz and swing numbers in the style made popular by the legendary Django Reinhardt and his Quintette du Hot Club de France, a cultural icon of 1930s Paris.
Romantic vision returns home
While we were gabbing about his daughters, David pulled out his phone to show me a stunningly beautiful portrait of Ashley at about age 11 or 12. Rendered in the style of Paul Gauguin with broad, flat brush strokes of blazing tropical color, Ashley looks like a serene Tahitian princess.
The portrait is a masterwork by artist Stanley Mouse, best known for his psychedelic concert posters. But, clearly, Stanley is an accomplished portrait artist, too.
Years ago, when Stanley painted this portrait, Wendy and David begged to buy it. Stanley was adamant, “No.” He felt it was one of his best pieces, and he wanted to keep it. But he promised the senior Aguilars that someday they could buy it. Just recently, and quite by surprise, Stanley presented the portrait to David and Wendy as a gift. Talk about thrilled: David was eager to share the little phone pix of this splendid portrait, this beautiful romantic vision, with anybody who would look.
When David went home that day with Ashley’s portrait in his car, he was floating on a cloud. Blessed by his friend’s gift, awed by his daughter’s beauty and grateful to all. He instantly told his wife, Wendy, that he had a great surprise waiting in the car. “The best!” he offered. Wendy guessed, “Is it a dog? A new puppy?”
“Better than that,” David countered.
“A bag full of money?” she asked. “No,” he said. “Something more valuable, more precious, more wonderful.”
Meanwhile, David’s anxieties reminded me of all the worry we two Crawfords have experienced with our boys. First, when Sky talked us into letting him go on a wild surf trip down the coast of California when he was still in high school, with a group of buddies not much older. Later, it was his trips to the rocky, big wave island of Madiera, a former Portuguese colony off the west coast of Africa. Then came the trips to Japan, initiated by Gabriel when he was still in high school. Those were many and frequent and included long, long stays, two years at a time.
The good part is that Sweetie and I got to visit Japan, shown around by a Japanese speaker familiar with the best of that country: our own son, Gabriel Holbrow.
Scariest of all
Midway in those adventuring years, Schuyler and Gabriel together planned an off-road adventure down the coast of Chile and Peru with one of Sky’s surf buddies from college in Santa Barbara. They were away, and out of all contact, for several months as they roamed the desolate coast of Chile seeking the best wave, the best ghost town, the friendliest village. The rural part of the trip was apparently the safest and most memorable for them, while some of the city sojourns that were part of that adventure south were scarily memorable. Traveling on a tight budget in third world sections of South America can be fraught with unexpected adventures, which later become armchair tales to frighten you parents and regale your friends.
While Sky and Gabe were off exploring South America, that year Stephen and Justine Ashton chose to show a film during their summertime Wine Country Film Festival about the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the mothers of the disappeared. It’s a story of the evil of military dictatorships in South America. I left that film—which played up on Sonoma Mountain—more than a little shaken.
All for the good
But that was then and this is now. Of course, our boys returned home safely and happily and now are living out their blessed lives with all that young adventure behind them, much to the Senior Crawfords’ relief. Be heartened Wendy and David: this is all for the good.
Last week Michael Krasny (who plays on our local NPR station mid-morning) devoted an entire show (replete with a variety of sociologists and psychological experts) to bragging—particularly to bragging by parents about their remarkable kids. Yep, I’m guilty. Mea culpa, and then some. But I figure all’s fair in newsprint. You can wrap my column around your fish or line your birdcage if these ramblings don’t interest you. It’s different, I’d guess, when somebody’s right in your face, blabbering on about their amazing kids.
But my point is not so much to brag about my kids, nor to brag about David and Wendy’s. It’s to help other parents deal with the inevitable anxieties of raising adventurous children in this new world where international travel is far more frequent than it was in our day.
Remembering Holly Golightly
Last week my friend Donna Adamson and I went to the Wednesday afternoon show at the Sebastiani where a beautifully glorious and young Audrey Hepburn was playing Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” An unusual name for an unusual gal. The scenes of mid-century New York were fascinating. Audrey, of course, is gorgeous. Every single outfit she donned looked fabulous and absolutely up to date. She’s funny, engaging, and simply delightful to watch. I’d never tire of that film, but truth is, I’d forgotten it. I saw it first in 1961 when I was way too young to understand the implications of Buddy Ebsen marrying a 14-year-old when he looked 60, or to speculate just how it was that the spritely little Holly Golightly afforded such an elegant apartment and such fine fashions. What a revelation to view it again.
Donna and I left the theater, hearts touched by all the beauty and wonder, innocence and love, in that little movie. If you missed it at the Sebastiani, try Netflix. But, I gotta say, there’s nothing like the big screen with a movie-loving crowd in attendance to make a film come alive.
Donna was the perfect partner for the day. She has, over the past three years, improved her health through exercise and diet, re-styled her hair, purchased a new wardrobe and she looks great. Her renewed enthusiasm for life is infectious and energizing. We loved our afternoon movie, followed by Basque coffee. I recommend that you plan a similar outing with your girlfriends next month for Roger Rhoten’s special Wednesday show benefitting Friends of the Sebastiani Theatre.
Lenny at the Home
A fascinating story that Donna shared as I drove her home involved a Leonard Cohen concert at the Sonoma State Home (as it was then known) back around 1970. I could hardly believe it. Lenny, my love, came up in conversation because, as Donna sat down in my old Volvo’s front passenger seat, a ton of Cohen CDs spilled out of the glove box, falling onto her lap, cluttering her feet. Did I like him? Donna inquired. You betcha, and a lot. Then I told her about the recent Leonard Cohen concert in San Jose that Sweetie and I had attended.
She trumped that instantly with the story of Lenny coming to SDC and playing to a tiny audience where Donna claims, “I was only a few feet away from him. Tall and handsome, all in black, and brilliant.” Yep, that’s the same Lenny that Sweetie and I saw last fall. Turns out that Lenny did a concert for the clients at SDC in Dawson auditorium, but he thought he was with mental patients in Napa. Nonetheless, he was beloved and appreciated by all.
Donna said the front two rows were mostly occupied by a group of little old ladies who needed to return to their rooms before the concert’s end. As they filed out, ever so quietly, Leonard broke from the song he was crooning, to sing “Good Night Ladies,” to the departees and the amused staff. That must have been one heckofa scene.
May returns, ‘Chasing Ice’
Next week I hope to fill you in on the talk by Sonoma hometown gal May Boeve, who now lives in Brooklyn and is the executive director of the international climate organization 350.org, named for the maximum safe atmospheric carbon dioxide level of 350 parts per million.
Like Ashley Aguilar will soon be, May is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, where she first began working with her mentor and colleague Bill McKibben, environmental activist and author of “The End of Nature,” a must read for those who doubt climate change. May will be speaking at the Sebastiani Theatre’s presentation of James Balog’s film “Chasing Ice.” We’ve seen clips from the film and know it’s spectacular, but we’re going as much to hear May as anything else, wondering if she will be coming straight home to Sonoma from the Feb. 17 demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
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The Glen Ellen Column continues online. Read it there, at sonomanews.com under the heading Lifestyle and History. Share your good news with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at 996-5995 or P.O. Box 518, GE 95442. Or email me at Creekbottom@earthlink.net. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least two weeks before the run date.