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University of Puget Sound Commencement
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President Obama, Bye Bye Birdie and Rain
by Don and Peg Doman
Not each Friday, but many Friday evenings a loosely knit group of friends get together. We call ourselves Friends and Fridays. This last weekend we gathered for dinner at Fusion Bento to kick off the weekend.
Fusion Bento is a great place to eat wedged in between Albertson's and Big Lots among a little computer game shop, take-home pizza, and a clothes cleaner. It's just across the parking lot from Shari's on North Pearl. The soup is always good and they always have two specials: one combo and one a sushi roll. Peg and I usually order a special and a sushi roll, so it's perfect for us. Our favorite sushi features unagi or fresh water eel.
After dinner we sometimes play games and drink a little wine. Friday was different. Peg and Jan along with Jan's neighbor Donna were off after dinner to the Brubeck Brothers at the Rialto. If we had expanded our net a little bit I think others would have enlarged the group somewhat. The Brubeck Brothers are a jazz quartet and many of our friends appreciate good music, no matter what the genre. Music, films, and books were points of interest that united Peg and me when we first met at the University of Puget Sound.
I had purchased two tickets earlier in the year for Peg and me. We've always loved Dave Brubeck. A friend of our's, Pat Steel also had a ticket for the jazz quartet, but chose instead to see Desmond Tutu at the Tacoma Dome. He gave me his ticket and then sent me another ticket that he found and in a note said "BE SURE TO READ."
The concert was originally set for the Pantages and then moved to the Rialto. So, we had four tickets until Pat burst my bubble two days before the event. What I had was a combination of Pantages and Rialto tickets. In reality, not Rialto, I had three tickets . . . not four. After dinner at Fusion Bento, Peg, Jan and Donna went to the concert and I joined the other FandFers for banana cream pie (with roasted pecans and drizzled chocolate sauce) and an early bedtime. It was a sacrifice.
Brubecks Chris, on bass and trombone, and Dan on drums were wonderful, with their quartet rounded out by guitarist/composer Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb. Chris, the elder Brubeck, talked about the men’s musical roots and introduced each number as they were going to play it. He introduced a romantic number written by dad Dave for Chris and Dan’s mom Lola, a waltz for their sister Cathy (incorrectly labeled Kathy’s Waltz by the record producer) and later told a story about why he liked President Dwight Eisenhower. After WWII, Eisenhower had enough of bombing the heck out of the world, and decided to send jazz musicians around the world to show good will and the universality of music. Their dad Dave Brubeck and his group were sent on several of these tours, as was Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. One time when Dave was in Istanbul, he heard a street drummer playing an unusual rhythm and stood listening to him until he figured out the time signature. Chris tapped out the rhythm on his guitar and Peg said, “That sounds familiar. I know that sound!” It was for Blue Rondo a la Turk, Peg’s favorite of Dave Brubeck’s recordings. That made the evening for her.
Peg had a great time and after the concert Jan and Donna brought her home and they had a chance to look over Peg's latest artwork for the ATC (Artist Trading Card) exchange between the Sequim and Tacoma Calligraphy guilds. Usually, participants will make a set number of one image based on a given theme. This time the theme was “A Single Letter.” Everything for Peg is a color study, with variations in color (obviously), texture and contrast. So she went for several forms of Rs in different colors and backgrounds. One of her favorite forms of “fancy writing” is the Versal; the name is based on the use in medieval times of decorating the first letter of a verse in the handwritten and decorated Bible. Most of Peg’s forms are Versals, but there are variations based on Palmer and non-Palmer penmanship, as well as fanciful forms. Jan and Donna stayed for a few minutes and left; then Peg sat down to finish a few more Rs.
Saturday I drove by Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound. I talked to members of the staff there in preparation of videotaping the Commencement program on Sunday afternoon. Saturday evening Peg and I dined at Cafe Divino with her sister Pat and the three of us continued on to Auburn to watch a production of Bye Bye Birdie. The production involved Messiah Lutheran Church.
We've seen a number of church productions and they are always fun. They almost always include family and friends as well. For this musical Nancy Kirk Patrick and her husband, Brent (son Patrick's mother-in-law and father-in-law) along with Scott Gilliett (son Patrick's brother-in-law) amd Patrick himself were all involved behind the scenes. On stage were our granddaughter Bailee, her cousin, Marin, and her aunt, Christie. Daughter-in-law Wendy collected tickets as we walked in. We had a great time.
Driving home from Auburn was not so much fun. Over an inch of rain was recorded as the downpour made driving difficult. I was afraid that Sunday would bring more rain . . . and it did.
The students at the University of Puget Sound know how to have fun. Although most of the graduating student are not from the Pacific Northwest by the time they've four or five years in Tacoma they are used to the weather and can ignore it at will. As the wind blew and the rains came, the student walked onto the track and Baker Stadium waving, laughing, and talking. It's fun to see what extras they bring in addition to their robes. Sometimes we see messages taped to their flat mortar board hats and this time it was interesting to see the many different colored Wellingtons they wore. This year I only saw a small handful of sandals and flip-flops.
This year the featured graduation speaker was Cecilia Muñoz, who is the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs as appointed by President Barack Obama. She served as Senior Vice President for the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), where she supervised all legislative and advocacy activities conducted by NCLR policy staff. She is the daughter of immigrants from Bolivia and was born in Detroit, Michigan. In June 2000, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in recognition of her work on immigration and civil rights.
Muñoz has an easy-going manner and talked about the differences in diversity today from what it meant just a few years ago . . . and is probably different from what it will mean a few years from now.
The worst weather of course came when Muñoz was speaking. The rain didn't come down horizontally, but it had a definite slant. The wind picked up and I saw one parent with her lower jaw chattering from the cold.
I spent most of the afternoon holding onto our camera tripod, while son Del worked the camera. Del grew up helping us with camerawork on various TV shows and industrial video productions. We set up our tripon on a platform UPS always provides for us. Normally, I would have taped down the feet of the tripod. There was standing water on the platform, so we had to improvise. When I took over the camera to give Del a rest, he sat and held on to the tripod as well. Gusts of wind often catch the umbrella like a sail and can rock the tripod and therefore the camera. Before the last remodel we would have taped our large umbrella to the old track clock, which was at the base of the concrete stadium and the only place where there are electrical outlets. Without the clock we taped our umbrella to the tripod. We needed it to be high enough to accommodate our heads behind the camera and low enough to not block the view of parents sitting in the first seats of the stadium.
I was surprised to see no ROTC members from UPS on the field. In the past they have helped with crowd control. This year we relied on a staff person to keep a clear path. Relatives like to get as close as they can to take photographs of the graduates and this sometimes deminishes the view for our camera as well as the reserved seating on the track. This year with the rain many people had their own umbrellas, so this added a couple of feet to their height, which could block even more of the view. Our man in the yellow staff jacket worked hard all through the second half of the program, but often as soon as he turned his back to the stage others would appear and block the view. We like to zoom in on the presentation of awards, but we like to see the first few steps down from the stage. You never know what a happy graduate might do after shaking hands and walking away with their diploma. "Once a logger, always a logger."