It's been the hottest, driest Junes I can remember in a while… My arms have grown stronger from carrying buckets of water to the poor plants, the poor orphan garden made of seedlings that friends and neighbors have given me, and the ornamental or food bearing plants that I've brought in over the years to dress up the bachelor farmstead. I could easily spend all day long just tending to plants. And I would easily agree to do that for a job, if I could earn a fair wage doing it. I feel like I'm doing something useful, by keeping something else alive. I never was a grass/lawn waterer, but my heart goes out to those plants that give us back something to eat, even though if you crunch the numbers, buying a zucchini in the store is waaaay cheaper than the time and energy and water spent on keeping one alive. In a way, the social media game is kind of like watering a dry, dying plant. If I completely stop posting updates, funny stories, videos, photos, then my connection to the world will wither. The inquiries for shows will stop coming in, orders for tshirts or art or music will dwindle. If we dont have some kind of regular presence on the socials, folks will assume we've tied the laces of our travellin shoes together and hung them from a high hook. But honestly, my arms are growing tired of watering. I am running out of things to say. If it weren't for the antics of the animals, I'd have almost nothing at all to report. At least that's how I feel right now…. the words coming out of my brain are like the last words left in the tube, and it takes all my energy of the thumb and forefinger to stroke them up out of my brain. But tomorrow might be different. Tomorrow might be a firehose of new things to talk about. I hope you will stay tuned.
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After one of the very few White Christmas's I can remember, the melting white is blinding through the window. I "see the light"! This is the reflective week, one of my favorite weeks of the year, where I transition from looking back at the year I just lived and all the things I did, places I went, and people I met, to a year ahead, where I don't know yet what I will enounter, but I can only dream and imagine. It's pretty schizophrenic. Too much thought. Better yet, maybe I should live this week like a cat or dog, in the very present moment, not thinking behind nor ahead. That might be the best way to get through this week until next year.
No, It's too hard for me to do that. I have to at least think back. It was a fine year, with alot of travelling. A trip to the UK, east coast, E.TN, and out west for more than a month in New Mexico. New friends, new shows, three fun music camps to teach, a number of things checked off my bucket list. New songs, and lots of new paintings. The year was not without it's losses.... a few friends checked out of this earthly hotel. Sad but not unexpected, for the most part. My old dear cat Herschel moved on. He was old and sick, and I was prepared. But still sad. i But I adopted a new barn kitty Pippa, and life moves forward, upward, and onward. Is there an alternative? I don't think so. Certainly not.
Its not spring yet, though we've had a few teaser days. Right now I'm sitting out an ice storm next to Mr Bowlin's Vermont Castings woodstove, with 5 cats and one border collie clustered all around my feet. I've got the fire roaring and the room cranked up to 80 degrees and it's feeling good. I was chilled to the bone earlier in the day, working up at my farmhouse, trying to move the stuff inside my poor little hillside barn out of harm's way. We got several inches of soaking rain the other day, and it was just too much for the retaining wall foundation to handle, and the whole east side buckled in. Can you imagine my disappointment and surprise when I walked in there to grab a tool and saw that horrifying mess. I am not going to let it get me down though. I am looking forward to a new music season, hopefully without a virus to worry about or work around, and we already have 3 music camps and a number of concerts on the calendar, with hopefully more to come as details are ironed out from events that have been in discussion.
2020 was a tough year. 2021 was a tough year. 2022 is starting out to be a tough year, but I am determined to rise above adversity and try to make it the best year ever. I am so looking forward to seeing the first daffodil blooms on my hillside in front of the farmhouse. Every year I divide clumps, from my own collection and from my mom's collection, and each year they never fail to disappoint, as each variety takes the stage. The earliest ones are just a week or so from flashing their bright yellow smiles. There is something about the daffodils that give me energy and optimism for the season ahead. The daffodil is my role model. They first come during the "end of winter nasties", that time when the weather is so unpredictable and sometimes very unpleasant. They bloom anyway. And they keep blooming no matter what. They'll bloom under the snow. You can dump a bag of heavy mulch down, and they will push it up and get through it. The last warm weather varieties still glow yellow among the tulips and irises, the warmer spring plants. I just love them. I am going to try to be optimistic, despite all the uncertainties, and despite all the little disasters. I'm going to try to bloom anyway.
So as spring approaches, and some great shows and camps, I hope that we will see a few of the friends out on the road, that we haven't been able to see for a couple years.
My first blog post on my new website was written at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. No one knew what was to come. No one knew how long this was going to last. No one knew how we were going to get through it, after all the concerts got cancelled. It's a year and a half later, and we all know alot more about the virus and its mysterious ways. But those existential questions are still not answered. We are all still vertical and drawin' breath, still on the right side of the sod, and for that we are grateful. We have lost a number of friends and heroes in the past year and a half. Most were elderly, but some were our own ages, a true wake up call, and a couple were younger. We lost some of our bigger shows this fall, but then we gained a few others. That's a hopeful sign that the work might trickle back in. Our concerts are mostly of the more intimate, indoor sort... small theaters where you can actually see folks faces and heckle them from the stage, and house concerts, which are our favorites. I hope those will start trickling.... like the gentle autumn rain through the tarps on my still unfinished roof.
These are the craziest of times that we will hopefully never live again, but strangely enough now, after a month or more of "lockdown" the crazy has become normal. It is normal now to go out wearing my mask, and my plastic gloves, and to talk to a cashier through a plexiglass shield, and to spray down every can of soup I buy with 70% alcohol. I dont think a thing about it now. That's how flexible and adaptable most of us still are. We say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but this old dog can still learn some tricks!! One thing I have been pondering though, is how this pandemic is going to affect all of us creatives on the tail end of this shitstorm. I am imagining it will take a long time for everyone to recover financially. The folks who wanted to buy a tshirt, or a cd, or some cards at christmastime, will now think at least twice about spending that extra money for what seems like a luxury. There will be venues that will fold, or festivals that will have seen their last gathering back in 2019. This is all farther down the line and I'm not going to worry about that right now. What I am thinking about today, as I roll through my list of friends on the FB, is how many of these music fans are still with us? I mean, many of the folks that like to listen to my music are baby boomer and beyond. Folk and bluegrass is that way. I stumble upon a contact there who has passed on without my being aware. I am thinking that this virus might be taking out a greater number of the friends than usual. And the thought of that hurts my heart. Be safe, stay at home. wash your hands, like ALL the time.