5-15-13 One Road Ends Where A New Road Begins

the dulcimer with cherry blossom petals scattered across it

May 15, 2013

The Simple Story

Spring comes with thunderstorms and windy days while "the trees are sweetly blooming". One morning on my way to play I gather cherry blossom petals from the windrows on the sidewalk blown down by a storm the night before and scatter them across the face of the dulcimer before I play. The house is surrounded by a sea of flowers, that I planted and propagated for ma over so many years.
houseplants flowering next to my deskBut beside the beautiful energy of Spring blossoming around me, it has been a difficult time, with a lot of resistance and trouble, a lot of bad luck. I am at the final steps of a long, hard struggle, and I am tired, and dealing with both the accumulation of months of stress, and worrying about the last minute complications, as I make the final push to the end. I made every effort on my end, but it isn't enough, and assurances turn into problems, as I am not the only cog in the machine. I also know that once I reach the end, the work really begins, and the clock starts ticking. I have taken on a huge responsibility, and need to plan it right, work hard, and make it through a tight passage to hopefully clear sailing beyond. While what I really care about, the music, remains compromised, both by these new priorities, and new problems. So it is a stressful and difficult month, though I seem to have made it work, at least made through. Though I worry about the things I may have missed, things I've had to let slip in the pressure of circumstances, things that seem OK now but have problems I didn't see, or mistakes I made in working too fast and too tired, all that might surface to cause me trouble down the road. I am facing a difficult job ahead, with a lot of unknowns, and with an indefinite but real deadline. It all adds up to a lot of anxiety, and feeling I don't even have time to do this journal, though I write while I make and eat breakfast, and later, over dinner, and I'll cover the last 6 weeks, April 1 to mid-May, to get it done. Though it makes sense in the circumstances. Though I want to make this journal more regular, my life really happens in chapters defined by events rather than dates. The story happens in terms of practical and specific events, that drive the emotional story, and often naturally define the beginning and end.

the view down the path and boardwalk leading from the driveway to the front doorThe important event is, of course, finally buying the house. As of today, I am the sole owner, and the deed, or the deeds, are done and filed at the county courthouse. The month started with the signing of the sales contract for the house, and I've been dealing with all the clockwork that set in motion. I had 45 days to a May 15 closing deadline. Luckily I insisted on that much time, in case there were complications, and I needed the time. Despite assurances, there were problems, although I had arranged to have everything involved in liquidating my assets ready to go, in the end, it wasn't all ready, a disappointment, and more trouble for me keep making it happen. But at least I had anticipated problems and made time for them. Under the contract, I took sole possession April 15th. My relatives insisted on a property removal clause, so I had to remove stuff and clear the house again so they could come to remove anything of theirs or the estate's, but in the end, they don't bother coming, just jerking me around and wasting my time, sadly typical behavior. But it gave me a bright line, everything left at the house is mine. I started the process of shifting all the utilities into my name, and I am finally able to restart internet service at the house, much more efficient and productive than the limits of using the library, but also new bills.

The Story

a view of the dulci setup on the street with the portrait artists set up alongside beyond itThis journal is supposed to be the story of the music, and despite all the distractions of circumstances, years worth at this point, my life really is the music. Though the problem is there has been nothing much new to talk about, just playing the street week after week, but now I have a story.

It is a simple truth that many people stop and in one way or another say they have an opportunity of some kind, to perform somewhere, participate in a production, record in a studio, jam somewhere, but nothing ever comes of it, almost always. My generally philosophy is to live without expectations, and in this case, the expectation I have to resist is that nothing will ever come of these meetings. I still try to respond encouragingly, but not get distracted by things that aren't real. I can't afford that. I need to stay focused on the path I am on, the one that works, or I won't make it through, even if it is not the best path. As a poor working musician, with nothing else to fall back on, and as a sailor, and a walker in the wilderness, I am absolutely pragmatic and practical, I have to be. It is the nature of life. What works is what you have to do, and you do what you have to, and getting through is what matters. Though it is also philosophical, about distinguishing between what dreams are just dreams, and which are real, visions of things that will be. “Because you can't tell which dreams will come true,” I want to be there for them in case it is real, as there is always a chance, but without investing anything in expectation of any result, since it happens so seldom, and I have no time or energy to spare, and live on a close margin, especially now. It is an added frustration of the present circumstances, since usually I have a lot more slack and can afford to take chances on opportunities, on people, or just do things I know probably won't pay. Usually I am not under such pressure, and have time to play places that can't pay, volunteer at schools or senior centers.

Brian's shadow on the face of the dulcimerI used to wonder why opportunities never came my way, or come through, why people never followed up on our contact. Is it something wrong with me, something wrong with my website, or my CD isn't good enough, or is it just the typical smoke and mirrors of show business? The truth is also simply that many people in the arts have dreams and visions but they don't always work out, though you have to have the dream, and believe in it, for it to come true. Maybe they are just caught up in the typical whirl of show biz and production, and there are always other performers, and I am just another interesting artist they met, usually on the street. I am not pushing myself, either, I am just not into it, true enough, not my interest or strength. I tried for decades without results and find it hard to keep trying at this point, I just don't believe anymore. I'm not here to force my music down anyone's throat, either. I also know that right now I am dropping the ball on the promotional work I should be doing, need to be doing, contacting potential gigs, researching and following opportunities, trying to think and plan ahead, even under the pressure of circumstances and the uncertainty I have had to live under. I may not believe, but I still keep doing it. But I can’t say for sure when the house will be done and I will have time for music beyond what I am doing now, playing every weekend, when I'll be free to tour, go where the music takes me, which means, practically, looking into booking Summer and Fall festivals outside this area. Though right now, the simple fact is I don't have enough time for all I have to do already.

There is also the simple fact that I make more on the street than what most people are offering me, and though I want to play for everyone, and opportunities sometimes take time before they pay, I have to stay focused on the bottom line to survive, even though I want to pursue other opportunities, and need to move beyond the street. It's also part of the frustration with the present circumstances, where I can't risk jeopardizing the money I need to make every week.

The street is a trap, as well as a huge blessing. I've written about it at length in an earlier entry last winter, but the basic story is simple. I am relatively phenomenal for a street musician, when circumstances permit I get a great response, but often they don't, and I have a bad time, a bad day, a bad winter. The noise, the weather, the crowds that won't respond to a “street musician” for whatever reason. The street is also not "doing more" or a progressive path to new things, but is the well-known, well-worn status quo. But it pays the bills, and always has, all my life, when other venues didn't or wouldn't, and the street kept me and my music, and the dulcimer, alive. It allowed me to play for the People, make direct contact, side-stepping the music business, making it unimportant. flowers alongside the house and the path by the herb garden, leading to the big garden and fruit treesWithout the street, and the money I made and saved this winter, I would have had to borrow money to get the house, or even give it up all together.

There are so many great scenes, too, and I love the street, interacting on a personal level with the people, explaining the dulci, playing for them, finding what they want to hear, not guessing what might work for a crowd in a venue. And often enough, it is the only social contact I have for long periods in an often lonely life. Though I start thinking of how, if I stay here, I can start developing a network, and a social life within the music and art community here. As I start working on the house, I think of how I could make the house a social place again, from house-mates to band-mates, to a general place to gather artists and musicians, even host house concerts, or just as rehearsal and recording space. Though in the end, I may end up on the road again, a solitary gypsy, I start seeing the possibilities of a different life. Though the question for me is what will be best for the music, I can see staying here as making me more productive, and allowing me to work with others, not trying to do it all myself. Yet it could be difficult, financially. I am a working musician who doesn't make a lot, no matter how well I do on the street, it has serious limits. And the pressure of needing a regular income could limit my flexibility with what I can do with the music. There are so many possibilities, but just renting out the house once the repairs are done and going back to the life I know is the most simple, certain, and pragmatic, so it remains "plan A". But I keep dreaming and thinking of the possibilities, "plan B", and even if I leave for a while, I can also come back.

the dulcimer hammers sitting crossed on the strings, their normal place
It even troubles me that I do so well, that I get such a great response from people, but it is simply proof that I should be playing somewhere else, that I should be “doing more” with the music, rather than spending my life playing on the street, which is essentially what I have done, not recording, not creating the music I hear in my head, or writing new music, working with other musicians, working with sound engineers and producers, not building the designs I have had in my head for 20 years. As I talk to people it seems crazy that the electric dulci is 20 years old and I have never built even a second with the other half of the plank I built the first from. But I don't seem to be able to escape the grip of circumstances, and the street takes all my musical energy to just keep surviving, and unfortunate circumstances take up all the rest of my time, as I work 12 hours or more a day, seven days a week. I can't remember the last time I took a break, really. Sigh, don't mean to vent my frustration, but that is a big part of the story now.

a view of the dulci setup on stage, Bossa Bistro in Adams-Morgan, DC
All that said, It was so great when a couple young women stop late one night, and we have a nice final scene on a cold night, one of them singing along. She says she is putting together a show if I'd like to be part of it, a showcase on a Sunday night, and after a moment's hesitation, as I wonder if I should risk losing an evening, I say I'll do it, though I can't totally know why. I often have to depend upon being able to make spot decisions based on instinctive or intuitive judgment, when there isn't time for reason, and I decided to go. Later, I could understand the reasons that tipped that instant weighing of the balance that happened in a flashing moment. I weighed this person I met, and she was sincere, and enthusiastic, had a positive energy. She sang along with me as I played, which is so cool and a great pleasure for me, I miss singing with other people more than anything, but it is also a true measure, because we could sing together, it worked, and it doesn't always. I weighed the opportunity. I could still play the street during the day and then go somewhere for an evening set in DC, so the day is not lost. Perhaps most important, though, is I need to start somewhere to get off the street, and here was an opportunity to do just that. It was making the effort that was important, not the results, and I needed to take the risk. As I wrote her later, in my life as a performer, I don't worry about any specific show, or song, or day, or place. There's always ups and downs, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes there a reason I can learn from, sometimes it is just the way it goes. My focus is much more on making sure I am headed in the right direction, on the right path, and if that is right, then I just ride out the rough spots and enjoy the perfect moments, "when the cosmic clockwork clicks into place, and life is So Fine".

a view of the dulci setup on stage, Bossa Bistro in Adams-Morgan, DCIn the end, it worked out fine. She actually came by the house a couple times to practice some vocal harmony, work out a short duo set, so I was working with another musician again. I played the street Sunday, then got over to The Bossa Bistro in Adams Morgan in NW DC, and was able to park, get there with time to tune, and then relax and wait to go take the stage. I was tired, but still full of energy, as I am when I have been playing for hours and days, and feeling very calm and centered, at peace, riding the tide of good energy and endorphins that remain after I play, glad to be there, making it happen, feeling the simple confidence of a lifetime of shows. Though we'd planned a more quiet set, to match her set with her band as a jazz backed poet, but the house was restless and she wanted to get it moving, so I went up and rocked it instead, the quiet lion roars, had them stomping their feet, shaking down the house. Felt good. Though I really enjoy playing quiet, sensitive, romantic music with a lot of texture, I can rock the house too, and I did. And in the end, the tips were good, so I did OK on that count as well. Then left as the house closed, and made it to the car before it rained, heading home with the familiar echoes of a show in my head, to eat and sleep, and get back to work.

violets, periwinkle, and moneyplant blooming in the yardI kept playing the street, and the month began with the first warm night, and a couple warm weekends where I made the type of money I make when I am playing a good place in a good season, a welcome change. The cherry trees are blooming all over town, and the violets, periwinkle, and moneyplant surround the house with shades of purple.

But it doesn't last. The third weekend is colder, and the last weekend of April I am forced out of the prime spot I had been playing in all winter by the arrival of the cut-throat competitive street performers, and the panhandlers and beggars, arriving with the warm weather, and showing up early to grab the best spots. I am relegated to the street, which has become a nearly impossible cacophony of motorcycles and loud-exhausted status sports cars, and the cars pumping loud music through now open windows, or convertibles with their tops down. It is depressing, as season starts with crowds pouring into town and onto the streets, but my income, after that short peak, drops back to what I was making during the dark and cold of winter. As I wrote before, it is not unexpected, but it still depressing. If it wasn't for the house, I would probably move on to someplace where there isn't the competition for space, a smaller tourist town, where they need performers, and I can find a better ambiance and atmosphere. I think about Annapolis. I long ago chose to leave the competitive music business and play the small towns, small festivals, small venues, that are not interesting to the competitive crowd seeking either fame or more money or both. I also chose the street, but I've seen many places become just as competitive, with cut-throat, aggressive people, with the egos and the same selfish justifications I've heard too many times before, literally fighting over spots to play. These are the people I've always tried to get away from. It is one reason I stopped playing in Alexandria back in 2006. But then, I had other things to do and other places to go.

white and pink azaleas by the house, the ones outside my bedroom windowThere's the general influx of newcomers as well. It's good to see new performers, cooperative street pros new to this place, and new or experienced performers just trying out street performing for the first time. I try to encourage them and give good advice. There is a camaraderie and often a good community among the street performers, artists and vendors, just as at the fests and fairs.

But there's also some arrivals that are just depressing and pathetic acts. Some are just really not very good, a sad truth. Some are essentially just begging, not performing, or using a gimmick rather than art. What troubles me most, though, is to see little kids playing, sometimes just the same couple tunes over and over, and often obviously being worked by some adult. Even the ones who have some talent and ability shouldn't be there, because street performing is work, and I object to child labor. The street is also a hard and often discouraging stage to play on, and young and sensitive artists shouldn't be forced to endure it. And frankly, the only reason they are there is because they are little kids, and are being exploited by adults for money, which is absolutely wrong. They are children, not assets to be exploited, not pet monkeys to be made to dance for the crowds for the money they throw. This sort of exploitation we tried to leave behind long ago. Worse is that the crowds respond sympathetically and profitably for the handlers to the pathos or just the natural desire to nurture a child by applauding and throwing money, but it encourages what I see as wrong. There are places for child performers, it is an important part of learning to perform, and I performed as a child, but the priority was learning and having fun performing, developing and nurturing my talent. It was a critically important time for me as a performer, and I remember it well. I still love the smell of greasepaint. It is always a fine line on the stage, as people are born with their talent, and a gifted artist can quickly gain in ability with practice and training even at a young age, to become a true professional-quality performer, and there are many plays with roles for children. But they are still children, not adults, and performing is work, and the emotional and physical stresses of performing, and of the hard work it takes, and simple craziness of show business, are real and difficult even for adults. It is not right for children to be on the street, or any stage, when they are really just being exploited for cash. Enough said.

close-up of the blooming lilacsAt the same time, just last weekend, I was able to give advice to a couple new performers, and they did well by it, and thanked me,and it made me feel good to have my advice work for them. I really want everyone to win, want to help us all make the street work for us all. That is why the competitive, “every man for himself” attitudes of some performers depresses me.

There was a new guy, just passing through, traveling from California in an Alfa Romeo, running out of money from a breakdown, and never played the street before. I was able to tell him to move from the spot he was at, which was not good for the shopkeeper there, and go sit in front of his car, which was great, and drew people by itself, and really, was his story and greatest asset. I told him how he needed to interact with people, be a storyteller, and let them take pictures, and generally, give them a great experience to carry away, and not worry about the music so much except as background, because he wasn't really a performer, though he could play well, it was more ambient than entertainment. And it worked for him, almost every time I looked over, he, and his car, had some people stopped. He was smiling when he drove away.

Another young guy, been around a bit, not sure where to play, and I gave him a run down of the spots and suggested he go play at the end of the dock where there are benches and people come to the end and pause, often sit down, and would have time to listen. And then the tour boats come in and drop crowds right in front of him, and they often mill, gathering their groups, deciding what to do next. He came by later to say he'd done well, and he was smiling, too.

view of the front yard with flowers blooming, and the blue tarp on the roof standing out clearly
Both the show at Bossa's, and the problems of the street, make me want even more to take time out somehow to move forward with other options, street scenes or gigs, festivals or local venues. It is something I need to do, but this is just another push, or just raises my frustration level as there is so many priorities I can't do what I want, or even what is best, but what I have to do. I have to swing the house, and as the first heavy rains come, the roof starts leaking again, and I clear the roof of the van, then use that tarp for a second layer on the roof, try to make it last a little longer, give me a little more time. I am just one man, and there are only so many hours in the day, and I already work till I have to stop just to eat and then sleep, then get up as soon as I can stand to do it again.

It troubles me that in the last decade, I have stopped playing as much as I used to, stopping playing all together for many months at a time. As the street, my life-long refuge, becomes harder to face, from the unconstitutional official prohibitions and pressure, aggressive contentious competition, and ugly and depressing scenes, till it just gets to be more than I can take, just to play for people, something I want to avoid, though I have no other options. I have found myself pretty easily justifying stopping playing to deal with family and dealing with unfortunate circumstances. Even going and mining gold in the Alaskan wilderness, though that is also fulfilling my commitment to my old friend and mining partner up there, it is also just getting away from it all. view of the back yard leafed out and greenI see a slow drift away from playing all the time, like I used to. For years, I was satisfied with the life I have had, with the way I have successfully survived as a musician, content with playing the street, with playing small places out of the mainstream, with being unrecognized and unknown, but still playing for people, all the time, and living a simple life as a folksinger and a working musician, not needing to "do more". I wonder at what point does "do more" become trying to do to much? Though one reason for "doing more" is to seek other paths for the music that won't be so hard, personally, so my music doesn't suffer from what I have to do and go through to play, becomes too associated with negatives, though it is one of the greatest positive forces in my life. Though when I step back, I recognize that I am not living my normal life. I am dealing with circumstances that both make doing anything else difficult, and are not good emotionally, psychologically, a hard time, which is not the time to judge how things are going. I know I am emotionally worn out by the last couple years, though I recovered a bit last Summer in Alaska, I returned to another hard winter here, and all the negatives involved, with simple results. At this point I have lost most of the positive attitude I had regained in Alaska. I work to moderate, or just ignore, my doubts, depression, and negative emotions, just persevere till I get this hard time behind me, then I'll feel better, naturally. As an over-emotional artist, I have learned to accept and remain untroubled by my emotions, to not take them too seriously and just keep moving forward, riding out the storms, while keeping the ship on course and secure. But while I can ignore the ups and down that pass like the weather, I still feel that I am am drifting away from the music, not tired of playing, but of what I have to do and go through to play, so I play less and less. But in the middle of a song, when things are right, it is still great. I know I am making great music, and people love it, and the children dance, and I dwell in that moment, and carry on. Life it short, and it will all be over soon enough, and I want to play as much as I can while I can, share my gift. Vincent never sold a painting in his life, and I long ago accepted that I will possibly leave no real record of the music I have made, like many an actor on the stage, simply bring some beauty into the world for a time, then be gone, like the Spring flowers.

And there are still the pressure of trying to "do more", beyond just performing. A man in Florida who called about whether he could buy an electric from me, but he wanted a standard one, having seen Kenny playing in Key West a decade ago. The electric is so rare that from that, he contacts me, who happens to be the person who built Kenny's dulcimer. And as we talk, I remembered that I thought I still had the one solid-body I built along the lines of Kenny's, a standard two bridge, but with single strings on the left bridge, but with pins for two strings on the right bridge, though still single string wire, room for a second wound string an octave lower.the pile of boxes from the van stacked in the dining room I think it is stored in the van, and say I'll get back to him, though I have to offer it to people first in line. And I do find it when I finally unpack the van. I call him leaving a message that I found it and it looks like just what he wanted, but haven't gotten a call back.

There are also more set-backs. I unpacked the studio computers and set them up earlier, and though the Linux box failed the old W98 box that actually held the audio and video processing studio worked, and I began moving the DV footage from last summer into it to process, even as another summer looms ahead. Another frustration. But I run out of hard drive space, and try to swap the network card, that allowed me to move data to the linuxbox for archiving, for a usb 2.0 card so I could dump to the portable Terrabyte drive. Instead, the computer won't boot when I try to restart it, and I have lost the studio. I'd hoped and planned to start producing video for everyone again, after two years without posting anything new, an eternity in show business and the internet. But with all the pressure to deal with the house, I can't do anything about it, and even the potential to make progress, and the real need to produce new video to promote with, are frustrated. It is very discouraging. Though I intended to use this time to replace my aging gear, I needed it to just last even a few more months, till I could. And it is another hard bit to add to the list of what this has cost me, because it was all set up and working fine, before my sisters forced me to pack it all up into the van, where two years of heat and cold killed them. And in the end, just as with so much I did, the time, money, and hard work I spent fixing the trailer, putting ma's stuff in storage, clearing the house, and so many other things, are all unnecessary in the end. A point I made clear from the beginning, that if I kept the house, none of this would be necessary, so it would help me a lot to settle the house, then only pack up if I was leaving. It is just another straw, another log, on the camel's broken back. Though as I recognized last summer, I grieved for the possibly permanent divide this has made, built of the abuse and disregard, the unnecessary costs and efforts, the pain and suffering they have cost me, the damage to my life and music, that can never be undone or forgotten. So it goes.

Now that I know all my money is going into the house, and I really have no other choices, I think of reviving my Kickstarter project, to record new CDs, perhaps set up new studio gear and a mobile hardware platform so I can get the video tour journals going again. The fact is, on my own, I just can't seem to do it. I survive on the street, but "doing more" is proving beyond me, or simply so slow that I'll possibly run out of time and energy before I accomplish much. I am not young, and I have only so many years left, assuming I stay healthy till old age starts slowing me down and I have to stop, and in any case, can't play the way I can now. I even wonder if I play as well as I did 10 years ago, but I think it is more emotional tiredness than physical. A life of discouragement weighs you down, slowly but surely, and though the love of the beauty of the music and the wonder of the dulci remains, the enthusiasm for life, for what I have to do to play for people slips away. Though I know it is as much the stress and trauma of dealing with the estate, coupled with having to put everything important in my life on hold and make no progress for years, hardly play for years, as I wait to settle the house. It is hard to feel positive, even as I finally am getting the house, I am so tired and worn out I can't even find it in me to celebrate, after such a long struggle, and facing so much work ahead, with no time for the music, still. But I know I am on the path to resolution, at last, and no longer in limbo, and there is some relief there. I have the house, ma would be happy, and I have persevered. I know I can get the work done, and make it work, or I wouldn't have tried, or kept trying. Just as the green comes back, and the hacked bushes sprout new growth, I know that slowly, as I get on top of this, as I get past dealing with the immediate priorities of the house, and am able to make progress with the music again, I will start to feel more positive again, about everything.

spacerview of the front yard with flowers blooming, the house almost hidden in greenery

It is a watershed month, indeed. I have been waiting at the divide, waiting to know which path I'll take forward. Now I have started down the road ahead. And the craziness comes home, that all my stuff has been packed in the van for almost two years, since October of 2011, just four months after ma died I had the estate essentially settled and was ready to go, or stay, depending on what happened with the house. I had to do my taxes, the point being that when I do, I look at the whole financial picture of the year before as I go over the accounts. The most significant thing was reading the report form the year ago, where I am saying how everything is on hold as I wait to find out which way the house goes, and expect to know soon one way or another. But instead, it is another year later, and I have traveled from 1213 to the Bahamas to Alaska and back again, and gone through more abuse and trouble, my life still in limbo. It is just crazy.

the damaged ceiling torn out in a big, clean opening, showing the raftersAs the house begins to disappear into the greenery, I start seeds for summer vegetables and more herbs, and I set up internet at the house. It is now mid-May. The money cleared into my account the first week of May, and I closed the deal with my sisters. My brother had been in town on business in early April and signed his deed then. I've spent the last two weeks unpacking the van, then like a good beast, it started up on the first try, and rolled again. I unpacked the trailer, as well, as was only just lucky to not have any damage from mice and water that leaked in. I set my plans in motion and begin tearing out the water-damaged ceiling and walls, start replacing the old wiring. I need to get a couple bedrooms and a bathroom done so I can move in a house-mate or two ASAP, while I finish the repairs. Then I'll decide to either rent the whole house and hit the road, the life I know and know works, while the house takes care of itself, or start down a new path, keep sharing the house with people and keep a base here, more or less, try and make it a keystone of being more productive with the music. That is all that matters to me, going and doing what I need to for the music. But that is down the road, and can wait, the next steps are clear, the work before me, and the clock ticking to get it done before I run through my cash reserves.

my desk with the roses growing outside the windowSpring passes and progresses towards summer. The cosmic clockwork clicks away. The flowers have bloomed in changing collage of overlapping waves, then fade and are replaced by the green of leaves, and the fewer late Spring blossoms, and the first roses start blooming. The trees first bud and flower in a fringe of green, then leaf out, and the yard smells of shade. The first thunderstorms arrive, which I love, even when the power goes out. Climate change shows with the increased extremes. Early in April it hits 92 degrees. Last night, 6 weeks later, it hits 39 degrees. It is supposed to be back in the 80's today, with a chance of thunderstorms. The garden grows, and I've been eating bamboo shoots, now past, and fresh mustard greens. A lot of the peas are munched by the rabbit and the deer, as I don't have time to fence them, but some survive, lost amid the mustard greens. I plant trees from the Arbor society, and some live, and some don't, though I have to abandon working on the yard and garden to focus on the house itself, now that I know it is the road I am on. I am able to work, setting up accounts, studying books on taxes and legal issues for renting the house, so I can plan ahead and plan right. I still bought and planted a few big peppers and tomatoes that were on sale, to have some early produce as my seeds were started late and are only barely started. I buy new basil plants, and I'll make new cuttings from them, starting over, new ones replacing the ones that didn't make it this winter. The apple tree blossoms for the first time, and it seems a few apricots both got pollinated despite the snow, and they haven't been eaten by the squirrels or birds, yet. A pair of mourning doves comes and build their nest right outside my window, a few feet where I sit at my desk now, amid the rapidly growing and leafing rambling rose arbor. Life goes on.

a closeup of the dove on it's nest from the background of the last pictureapple blossoms
apple blossoms

the front door of the Epicure Cafespacerthe dulci leaning against the piano inside the Epicure cafe, my stuff on a table by it

And now, as I finish writing this, I sit again in the Epicure Cafe, where I spent so much time two years ago, from the time ma went into the hospital till just after she died. I told the owner, Gus, that while I really did love what he was doing here, I might not be back for a couple years, just because of the way my life worked, and I was right. Sometimes it seems I just know. They have an open mike tonight, and so I came here after going to the County Courthouse this afternoon to record the deeds, the final step of a long, hard road. And rather than fight my way back through traffic, I meet a local producer for a quick face to face, talk about possibilities ahead, and the practical limits I have to deal with right now, then come here to work on this web-journal, and wait for the people to arrive, to tune the dulcimer and play, one more time. Maybe I should see about doing a show here, though I don't want to get caught up in business, just now. It is good to just relax for a moment in a familiar place after so long, feel the strangeness of continuity, know I could come back, and maybe I could do a show here. I need to look into booking gigs, and I like this place, though there are other things to do first. I have no expectations, not sure what lies ahead, but there are things I have to do and a lot of possibilities, it is all about starting down the path, and I'll see what lies ahead.

spacerview of the back yard with flowers blooming in the shade, bamboo and the shed beyond

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