Category Archives: Grace’s gifts

Grace’s gifts

Grace was a remarkable mother,  a weaver, a story-teller, a social worker at a halfway house for schizophrenic youth for a few years, administrative secretary for a nurse practitioner program at UCSF, and even a school bus driver for developmentally disabled kids.  Across our years she was a hardworking aide, editor, and sounding board for my work in diverse fields.

In stereo poem for My Lady I there’s a description of what could be Grace’s foremost gift to the world:

My Lady’s Hexagram
is K’un, The Receptive.
She would flourish
in a forest or a prison,
in a castle or a desert.
She receives life
wherever she is.

This is how others have described this unconditional love:

Sweet Gracie,  I have many happy memories of every time I’ve been with you, and each one is accompanied with a sense of peacefulness, joy of life and pursuit of the real beauty in each moment. Though long ago, I vividly remember the time mom and I visited you in Berkeley.  It had been stormy for days, and during our visit, the sun finally came out. You put on the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”, and gave us the gift of happiness in your sweet laugh and pure joy of the moment. You shared banana bread right from the oven and the aroma was as sweet as it gets in your sunbathed home. With you dear, it’s never just a moment, it’s always better than that. Thank you for these gifts you have given to me, I cherish them forever. My heart is with you. -Kerri Fry

For many years I’ve had this small “family” of personalities that live in my mind. From time to time I’d hit some obstacle in the path, and then figure out how to get around it, and then I’d see a face. You are one of this small club of folks. Your smile is epic, and on more than a few occasions it has appeared like a Cheshire cat. There’s a kind of “we’ll see” behind it all. And all those visions you’ve heard me rattle on about? It looks like it’s all going to happen, largely because I didn’t give up, because my friends didn’t give up. Much love to you.
Christopher Swan

Auntie Grace – Through the many years that we’ve been apart and the years that we’ve spent together, you’ve always left an impression on me. Your beautiful spirit, kindness and lovingness is thorough. You’re an incredible person and an admirable influence. Your spirit, personality and beauty is one of a kind. You’re an inspiration to me and an inspiration to many.
-Rhonda Debrum

Grace’s weaving

Mama's wall hanging

Grace was a weaver in the 60s, studying with Kay Sekimachi, a noted fiber artist with studios in Berkeley and later in Sonoma County.

This gallery has a number of her pieces that have traveled with us. They include a vest that I wore from 1968 to 1975 and a scarf I continue to wear in 2014, with care!

Grace’s letters and journals

Journal entries

Grace and I were on our way to India for an extended visit. We stopped at my mother’s ranch before leaving, and the docs told her she had pancreatic cancer. Success Valley in Tulare County became our India. This is how Grace experienced life there. Vairgen was our copper colored Siberian Husky. Harry, my brother, Kate, his wife.

Sept 22, 1982

Vairgen to obedience training 14 dogs & nervous owners.  Mostly Shepherds & 2 Dalmatians – 1 Bouvier and mutts & us.

Vairgen went crazy!  He had been walking & heeling the country road just fine.  But all the smells drove him crazy.  He sniffed & pulled.  I pulled & snapped.  Can you picture 14 of assorted breeds, the yups, whines & barks in a circle or marching across the field with shouts of no! heel! good dog!  What a sight.  To teach this weeks lesson –stay! The teacher asked for a consensus of the group as to which dog would be the most difficult and everyone pointed at Vairgen.  She said – oh, this probably won’t work.  Then he went right along with the drill and did it perfectly.  By the end of the hour I was sweaty, exhausted and had a sore back.  When we got back home I asked Vairgen if he still loved me and he gave a lick on the cheek.

Its warmed up again.  Back up to 90 today but fall is coming soon.  Grandma – in Sta. Barbara for 3 weeks with more to go according to the Doc in Berkeley at the rad lab  – Liver only functioning at 1/4 it’s capacity.  Jeanne & Ron say they see only 2 more months of this for her.  Maybe she can change and regain her will to live.  Harry says Kate keeps her cheerful and bright.   Harry won’t look at me when I talk to him.

I’ve been alone for a week now.  Finally sleeping upstairs listening to every sound – Cats fighting, owls outside the window, cans banging, horses kicking their water troughs.  Cows & bulls singing to the moon.

Crescent moon – wondrous starry sky last night.  Really nothing to fear.  Aggie called.  She wants to go to Carmel for a night owl walk.

First day of Fall!

Looks like rain. There is a new feeling in the air. Vairgen lifts his nose to smell and I do too. A light breeze rustles the trees. Birds know its going to rain, rustling around in the trees, looking for a place to settle. Much earlier than usual. Mama cat who always looks so skinny and emaciated looks now full & sleek with her belly full of kittens.

The following is a note to a friend who edited the Growing Native newsletter

Dear Louise,

When I was 6 and newly arrived in California from South Dakota the school I went to had a “victory garden”.  While waiting for veggies to grow I became fascinated with pill bugs.  Daily I would collect one to take home in my sweaty little fist only to discover the creature crawling across my hand that so delighted me was curled up in a tight ball. Thinking it dead I would bury it in the flower bed.  This went on all year, after which I pretty much forgot these little bugs.

Recently, in a Sue Hubbell book I’m reading , I found a whole chapter devoted to pill bugs and their kin.  Seems they are isopod crustaceans related to crabs and shrimps and eons ago crawled out of the sea, shook themselves off and began a new life on land.  Sue agrees with me that they are appealing little animals.  They do a good job processing dead leaves and waste material into soil.  They do no harm, cause no disease and are quoted as being amiable companions to mankind.


Grace’s lovely voice

Grace and I recorded several chapters of William Kotzwinkle’s The Bear Went Over the Mountain for a friend recovering from brain surgery.  Her voice at 78 years sound like a young woman as she reads this chapter about Arthur Bramhall’s date with a New Age fur-bearing woman in backwoods Maine, whose manuscript is being stolen by a bear.  (The bear goes on to literary fame as the New Hemingway.)

Chez Gracie—le bistro tres hot

Even as a child Gracie showed a unique interest in food.
Even as a child Gracie showed a unique interest in food.

Perhaps there’s popcorn in the bag. Much later in life Grace created the popcorn as entree dinner for those nights when she couldn’t think what to fix. A big bowl of popcorn and olive oil, humus, soft goat cheese, and balsamic glaze to dip in. A salad and olives on the side. Fresh fruit for desert.

two favorite recipes Grace preserve in the end pages of a 1969 Joy of Cooking. Warning! Forget the lamb breast, its hours of work to separate the meat from the fat!
two favorite recipes Grace preserved in the end pages of a 1969 Joy of Cooking. Warning! Forget the lamb breast, it’s hours of work to separate the meat from the fat! Use lean lamb stew meat instead.


Browsing the food page in the Chron