Yesterday was the culmination of three months of procrastination and guilt (for not blogging), but I was roused to action when I heard that Ken Kimes was going to be honored by the Mayor and City Council of Santa Cruz. (You can read the entire proclamation here.)
Pictured here with his wife, Sandra Ward, and Mayor Mike Rotkin, Ken is holding the proclamation with his injured left hand. He lost his right hand and part of his arm in a machine that grinds mustard seeds for biodiesel, one of his abiding passions, in August. While most of us would collapse into terror, self-pity, or just freak out, what is apparent in both Ken and Sandra is the deepest gratitude. He is alive. It could have been so much worse.
Beyond that, Sandra's first email to our community was that they could feel the prayers and love holding them up—and that the sense of humor they share (with the world) is one of their greatest treasures right now. Read this article about Ken's progress in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (September 7, 2010). I can just hear Sandra's alto voice saying, "I can cross-dress him if I want to. I shower him and I can rinse him the way I want to rinse him." Ken, in many ways, has learned to SURRENDER, DOROTHY.
With less than an hour's notice yesterday, I learned about the proclamation, and got myself, along with Paul Cocking, owner of Gabriella Café, to City Hall. The serendipity of parking right where Sandra and Ken were walking was stupendous: I leaped from the car, hugged them both (hard) and said, "You're the reason I'm here!"
I haven't seen them in weeks, and I had tears of joy in my eyes just to lay eyes on them again. We headed to City Hall, where a dozen or so of their friends appeared—I didn't see anyone from the markets except the good folks who occasionally run the New Natives booth.
When I started writing about farms five years ago, New Natives was one of the very first places I visited. They grow a variety of sprouts, wheatgrass, and microgreens, all very popular with local chefs. In fact, their pea tendrils are part of my favorite salad to make: Asparagus, Fava Bean & Pea Tendril Salad.
What you need to know is that I don't know many farmers at all who are a$$holes or mean or unpleasant. One reason I came to love my farmer friends is how committed they are to really good food. Another reason is that they're real—there is so little pretense of snobbishness among people who work so hard—we laugh at the idea of snobby farmers. Among all the farmers I know, Sandra and Ken have been SO kind (especially to Logan, whom they've know since he was barely a year old), and SO funny, and they are legendarily generous in our community—sharing time, knowledge, and physical work with so many people. Paul Cocking told me, "That downtown market would not exist without Sandra and Ken."
After the brief ceremony, we went into the shady courtyard, where I met a bevy of women who are either elves or angels…they are coordinating all the fundraisers for Ken's medical bills. (Those are expected to reach $100K, very little of which is covered by insurance.) There are two fundraisers:
Benefit Evening this Friday, October 1, 6:00-10:00 p.m. at Pacific Cultural Center (1307 Seabright at Broadway). Traditional Berber music by Fattah and Mohamed of Aza; traditional music from Zimbabwe by Kuzinga Marimba. Desserts and refreshments, and a silent auction to help pay Ken's medical expenses. Tickets $25 at New Natives stand at the farmers markets and at the door. You can also make donations at the New Natives stand at the farmers markets: cash or checks.
Additionally, there will be a farm dinner in San Juan Bautista on October 30. I'll post details when I get them. (There is also a benefit dinner scheduled at Gabriella Cafe, tentatively posted for October 28, but that might change.)
Two of the angel/elves walked with Ken, Sandra, and me to Chocolate bistro—for a little wine, a little food, and a tier of desserts prepared and gifted by David Jackman—a dear friend and a farm lover to the core.
It would be hard for me to capture how simultaneously casual and attentive both Ken and Sandra are. He discussed the accident, the rescue, the incredibly detailed procedures on his arm and remaining hand—without any squeamishness or angst. I felt free to tell him what a beautiful hand…hands?…he has, and he admitted he always liked beautiful hands, and said, "And now I only have one," with the tiniest bit of rue in his voice. But forthright and welcoming, and more than anything, both of them ready and able to laugh at things ribald and irreverent. Truly my kind of people.
And I am not alone.
Sorry, Sandra, for the out of focus tilt, but I want people to see the light in Ken's eyes. It's there for all of us. Thank you, both, for all you do.
Finally, Ken and Sandra were some of the many farmers interviewed for the "Cultivating a Movement: An Oral History Series on Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Farming on California's Central Coast" project by the UCSC Library. They both have great voices, and you can read or listen to their interview here. (I definitely recommend listening. They laugh a lot.)
That's all for today. Aren't they beautiful?
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "If the Supreme Creator had meant us to be gloomy, he would, it seems to me, have clothed the earth in black, not in that lively green, which is the livery of cheerfulness and joy." —Janet Graham (1723?-1789), The History of Emily Montague
Thanks for coming. Thanks also if you help spread the word about the fundraisers.