I’ve just been winding down from five days of sheer, over-the-top excitement after my trip to the Bay Area.  It’s hard to know what to write about on the first day back home after a fun-filled and eventful trip like that, but I have a pretty good idea.

S Eve Jaskot

S Eve Jaskot is my college buddy Baron’s lady, and just one of my great new friends.  In their home, she’s the one moving 25 miles an hour through their kitchen, cooking and cutting and cleaning stuff and putting things away and putting her spices in alphabetical order, on and on.  She’s a dynamo.  Baron warned me about her as he was driving me to their home the first night.

“While so many people will be partying at my birthday jam, she’ll be in the kitchen cleaning up or fixing stuff,” he advised me.  When I got inside their house and met her for the first time, I could see it was true.  She made me tired just watching her putter around the kitchen.

As time went on, Eve started getting to know me better, and through getting to know me better she started getting to know my family better.  The fact that my lovely wife loves horses brought Amy into “the loop” right away, and the fact that she loves all other animals seemed to seal the deal.

Eve and Tonka

Eve loves horses and other animals as well.  She’s had her own “Tonka toy” with her pinto, and you can tell in her eyes the love for that animal just in looking at a photo of her friend.  It’s there for their cat “Cookie” as well, and to this day they still mourn the loss of another feline friend, Ivan, after he was run over on the busy street in front of their house.  Just like my lovely wife would do, mourn over the loss of a close friend like that for months or years.  If Eve wants to sell my lovely wife on the idea of moving our home base to the NoCal area, all she has to do is tell her about being able to ride horses on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean.  And Eve did play that “card” with Amy.  She’s no fool.  If she wants us to move closer to them, she’s figured out how to do it.  And she does it well, with so much thought and heart and soul that she can muster.

Silk painting by S Eve Jaskot

And, like my wife, Eve does her own artistic painting.  Eve does silk work, and she’s mighty proud to show what she’s done through the years.  Eve could talk my lovely wife Amy’s ears off about the wonderful deals she could get on art supplies and where to find them.  She was excited to discover that Amy is an artist herself.  She helped “the cause” toward moving to the Bay Area by talking about how Amy could thrive as an artist there, and how talented my wife is with her art.

“Music, teaching, animals, art … how does she get so talented in so many areas?” Eve would ask me.

I guess I would answer that I just know good talent when I see it.  And that was part of the reason I went out to Petaluma and the surrounding areas in the first place, to see and hear it for myself.  The amount of sheer talent there that hasn’t even been tapped yet is mind-boggling.

And that’s why they call me “The Wrangler.”  It’s my job in a budding new musical “coalition” (where musicians can make the real money).  And now is the time to strike.

Eve is a talented lady in many ways herself.   She also enjoys photography, and she’s very good at landscape photos.  She’s taken some great shots of the coastline and of the sun setting on the ocean, and I’ve been left impressed.  But one thing that Eve is especially talented in is making people feel good about themselves, bringing out the most in people, looking at others with such a positive viewpoint as much as she possibly can.  She praised me up and down, over and over, whenever I’d pull out my laptop and just dial my family in on Skype to see them close to 600 miles away, at how I was such a good father for staying in touch with my wife and kids, how adorable Amy and the kids are, how beautiful our pets are.  She wasn’t bashful while I was there about getting in the camera’s view so she could see my family and our pets and just carrying on a pleasant conversation, when she wasn’t telling Amy about all the advantages to moving to NoCal.

The softest spot I believe that Eve has in her is her heart.  She cares about all living things, and so does Baron.  That helps to make them a nice “fit.”  She cares about people and their problems, and she wants to do what she can to help out friends in need.  That’s pretty special in anyone.

The Baron Chase and S Eve Jaskot home in Petaluma is not fancy by any means.  But it’s comfortable.  It’s very homey.  It’s a nice place to go to after work to unwind, or — just imagining Eve in the kitchen — to wind up.  Their guest bed is their futon in their larger living area.  That’s where I crashed every night for the four nights I was there.  That futon, I was quickly told the first night, has quite a musical history as well.  Some big names in music have crashed there, some even for weeks or months at a time.

Not all of those big names have brought very pleasant stories with them.

One name in particular was very big at one time.  But he has had and probably still has more than his share of personal demons — drug and alcohol abuse, philandering, homelessness, begging for money for the next high.  This is a person with all the talent in the world, but it’s wasted.  I know personally that he has one son in particular that would love nothing more than to meet with and get to know his father, but chances are that won’t happen, and probably for good reason.

Baron and Eve have tried to help this friend of theirs, but they refuse to go the route of becoming “enablers.”  Instead, they insist on that friend getting help to defeat his demons.  And I have to admire them for that.  Baron told me on Tuesday he has seen his own “light” when it comes to keeping your life in shape, staying on the positive track.

Again, I have to admire him for that.  And I surely do.

But this one musical friend in particular who could have been a giant if he’d just stayed clean, sober, and settled down more … he was a particularly heartbreaking story.

Eve has kept a black, leatherbound journal in her bookcase for nearly two years now.  It was being saved for this special friend who’s been choosing to throw his life away instead of choosing to nurture the God-given musical abilities that were once so prevalent in his playing at a very early age, seeing it all get thrown away, and she’s been wishing those abilities could return someday through a lifelong commitment to his musical craft … and to LIFE ITSELF.

In February of 2010, Eve wrote inside of the journal in the top right corner starting with the first initial of the friend’s name, a middle name that says it all, and the last initial of the last name.

Underneath that, she wrote with a black pen, “New beginnings — Restore your past here.”

Eve wanted their “lost” friend to restore the passion and fire he’d once had in his career.  She was hoping beyond hope that would happen.  It hasn’t yet.  And nearly two years have passed since she wrote that note just inside the cover of that journal.  She’s wanted that journal to be used by its intended recipient — badly.

Eve was busy putting up her own photos on Facebook Monday night from our trip to the woods and the ocean, and while she’d sit at her familiar place in front of her computer in the living room and I’d be working on my own photos on my laptop at their kitchen table, we got to know each other very well through constant chatter.  It was like we were co-workers.  And I liked that.

Toward the end of the evening, when Eve was done with her work but I still had a lot left to do to get the photo blog post ready, she was talking to me at the kitchen table about some very deep subjects.  She stopped and said she had something for me, walked over to her bookcase, and pulled out that special black journal she’d been saving for her friend for nearly two years.

“I want to give this to you, because Eve says so,” she insisted with a gleam in her eyes.  She opened the cover so I could see what she’d written to her friend, whom Baron and I had admired for his playing from as far back as our college days and we’d play record albums with him in it, having a major role in their sound.  But Baron and Eve actually got to know the man on a very personal level — demons and all.

I was floored when I saw who the journal was intended for.

From Eve to John ... a "new beginning"

“Here, let me write something in below what I put before,” she said.  And with that, she wrote, “John – Because Eve says so (I told her I wanted her to be sure to write that in there so I’d remember that glimpse of a moment) … this new beginning belongs to you.  I know you will use it with love, passion & artistic creation.  Glad to have you on the Arc.  xox Eve Ray”

She got a couple of hugs from me after that.  She told me that she didn’t want that journal to just sit and go unused, it had to be used for a special purpose.  There came a time when I could break it in.  I needed to restart my laptop and I wanted to write down some notes that I’d need a bit later.  So why not use my new, very special gift from Eve that greatly touched my heart?

So I did.

Let this musical coalition begin — full-force!  It’s time some unrecognized talent that’s just bubbling near the surface finally decides to blow up and make names for themselves, before that talent just lies there and ends up … wasted!

That’s why they called in “The Wrangler!”  That’s me … complete with cowboy boots, a long Australian riding coat, cowboy hat.  I dig it!


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