Summer 2012, Return to Alaska, The Simple Story

The Brooks Range, Alaska, snow-covered

Seattle, October 24, 2012

It is once again 6 months since I was able to write a journal entry, though most of the time I was in the Alaskan wilderness, or in transit, so I have a simple reason. One reason I go there is to get away from everything. Though normally, I don't go away for so long, 6 weeks is more normal.

All the world's a stage coffee cup on crude hearth with coffee filter, saucepan, fire, and snowIt is a personal "Retreat", something I have done regularly throughout my life, both as a annual major event, and as a short tune-up along the circuit. I leave everything and go into the wild, land or sea, to get a clear perspective on my life, "leaving the trail to climb a peak where I can see where I'm at, where I've been, where I might be going", past and future, by excaping the distractions and priorities of living a life, of getting it done, and that nescessary myoptic focus on the present and the next step in front of me. I also say it is "like going into a quiet rooom to tune up my instrument before going out into the noise and confusion of the world to play." This retreat was one of the major ones of my life, when I am not just turning pages but starting a whole new chapter, or even a new book. But I'll reflect on that when the story gets there. I'll need another entry to tell the real story, the long story, beyond the simple what and where. Now, there's no time for the whole story. All I'll do is just a broad overview of events and the major threads, to get back up to date, let people know how things went, where they're at, and where they're probably going. I've started using this format sometimes, writing two entries, the simple story, and the long one.

But for all significance and depth of the Alaska trip, perhaps I can find a simple story in it to tell. The way it happens as I begin to tell the story over and over, to strangers and friends, and each time it evolves and develops, becomes better, clearer, simpler, as the key threads, scenes, and moments that come out of the tangle of memories, the individual events that come to represent the whole experience. Perhaps that is the very point, to get some perspective myself, start to learn from the past, and distill the experience into what was significant, by finding the simple story to tell.

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gold and folksinger card in the goldpan

Alexandria, Virginia, January 4, 2013

1213 house numbers in Fall leaves
Now, I am back in Virginia, just after New Year's, finally trying to catch up this journal, finishing what I started over two months ago in Seattle. I arrive here to find once again, I have to change all my plans, and the result has been a overload of work and exeptional efforts, and no time for personal priorities like this journal, an old story. But I want to get it going as one of my first priorities for the new year, and I want it to be a continuous story, so here I am. This Journal is now over 16 years old. Though I'll will have to save the longer story of the Summer of 2012 for later, and perhaps the longer story of the rest of the year as well, and just focus on the simple story format, and get them finished and posted, and get caught up to the present. The big chore was and is still just going through the photos from the summer and processing selected ones for the journal. I still have video I shot this summer that I haven't even tried to look at. I had problems with the new batteries, so I didn’t shoot a lot of video, but the typical video journal I make is only three minutes, so I have more than enough for that. And though I can say a lot more with text, and pictures show great moments and can speak volumes, video captures actions and scenes I can get no other way. But I need to find, unpack, and set up the studio computers to even think of processing video. But at least I have pictures, and great pictures, that capture incredible moments and tell stories.

wilderness cabin front porch in snowAlaska mountain valley in snowAlaska mountain valley in snow

The Summer of 2012, The Simple Story

I'm looking back after it has all happened, and that can't help but effect my telling, especially because this summer was specifically about reflecting on all that has happened the last two years, since the end of the last trip to Alaska in 2010, and coming to conclusions, resolutions, and leaving it behind. It has been so long that I have to go back and check the last journal entry to see where I left off, and refer to my calendar-journal just to remind myself of how it all happened, day by day.

hearth at the dig with fire and seagull cupOf course, this is one reason I made this trip, to put what came before into the past, make a definitive break, and I succeeded. All the events of the past couple years are now behind me, and obscured behind a more recent experience that is intense and long enough to form a complete break, and that is that. The past is in the past, I only worry about the future. I travelled physically to totally different places, but familiar places, old friends, reconnecting to my old life, so this trip is also a story told before, lived before, with strong threads, positive energy, full of intense memories, experiences, and thoughts. I return to the place where for years I have finished the circuit and started a new one, the point where I mark the end of a tour, complete the circle, and start another. "The Great Circle", as I titled one episode of in the original AK2K video tour journals. The point and place, when and where, I take a regular retreat, at the northernmost point, before I head south and then… do it again.

Wiseman, Alaska roadsignI planned this trip when the I first began the job of settling the estate, for many reasons. It created a deadline, personally and for my relatives, the limit of how much time, a year, I would volunteer to take care of everything for them, putting my life on hold. It was a reward for a hard job well done, and so I had a light at the end of the tunnel, when I would both leave behind the past, and go to a place I would have time to reflect on it, absorb and react to this huge event in my life, especially on a personal and emotional level, rather than the practicalities I also had to deal with. It allowed me to put that reflective time off till I was in a better place to do it, and had a simple life, a simple routine, that didn't require thought, and digging gold is just that, a lot of physical work, but my mind is free, so it is a good time to think, to sort through everything, mentally and emotionally. Not just the passing of my parents, but the fact that spending time with my parents in their final years is what defined the last chapter of my life, and now it was time to move on to the next stage of my life. Another trip to Alaska, a well known path, and a positive place for me, and where I had routinely had my retreat, ending and starting the tours, was a good intermediate step. It was a place I could take that needed time, while still moving forward by making some much needed cash. I regularly retreat from the world and the road I'm on just to do this, end one tour, start another, while I reflect on the past and invision the future. I can let scenarios play out in my mind, let dreams evolve gradually into plans, without having to force the process, but letting it happen slowly and naturally, as the simple routine stretches out day after day and my mind is free to set it's own pace and direction.

On a more fundimental level it is to center myself, like going into a quiet room to tune an instrument, I tune myself again, after becoming tweaked and damaged, and becoming weighted down with bad vibes. I can let the bad vibes gradually fade, in the harmony of nature, good vibrations, and the routine simplicity of the life, the camping, the digging, all a ritual dance.

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sunrise on snowy mountain

sluice in the creek below the digBut this is an old story told many times in these journals. In fact, the last videos I was working on, before I was forced to stop to deal with ma's initial illness, were about this very subject, a set of two, one about the simple "How To" of the gold mining I do, then a second to explain what I was really there to do, if I really wasn't there to dig gold. This trip was a regular, routine episode in my whole life, this return to the wilderness, and for the last decade and more going to Alaska, and handmining for gold there. I was in worse shape than usual, definitely, a lot of damage, and I was taking twice the time I usually spend, both to heal and to possibly double what I could get digging. Otherwise, it was really a return to my "extreme routine" after such a big disturbance and distraction, to the life I consider normal, and sane. Umm.. if you can consider digging a hole twenty feet to bedrock with a pick and shovel, or living over a campfire in the wilderness 350 miles from the nearest store, or hacking a channel through the ice in the creek to keep running the sluice when it gets a bit cold, "sane."

Which raises one of the main conclusions and resolutions that came out of the trip, that I am not going back, but going forward. I took care of ma’s estate, voluntarily, gave a year of my life to serve my family and keep a promise to my ma, and got it done. So that chapter of my life is done, and the house and remains of the estate are not a priority any more, but my life, the music, and the practical problems I have to deal with with boats and rigs and all my stuff, and maybe establishing a new base out west, or building in Alaska, as I leave 1213 behind, take priority. I'm also done dealing with the craziness and confusion, as well, of my relatives, the lack of cooperation and communication even as I struggled and sacrificed for their benefit, and I am through being jerked around by them, having my life disrupted with no appreciation and consideration.


The simple story of the summer of 2012 really starts where the last journal ended. I had finally gone to Florida to put deal with my sailboat, move it into storage, and visit my family there. The trip to scatter dad's ashes at sea was postponed till June, though I made all the reservations for the flights and cruise before I left, timed for just before I headed west, more or less.

I had to draw a line somewhere, a point where my work on the estate would be done, my responsibilities, and it's priority in my life, would be at an end, one way or another, and this was it. I really did get it all done, all I could. I'm taking my life back up again, about where it started in 2010, when I arrived back at 1213 from Alaska, and didn't go on to Florida, on along the circuit, but decided to stay, worried about ma's health, which was the beginning of that story.

1213 street numbers with spring flowersI return to 1213 to continue working on getting my life moving again, literally. I'd asked again for a decision on the house from my relatives, as I needed to make my summer plans, which depended again on whether the house would finally be sold. The issue is still that if I end up buying it, I'd focus on renovating rather than moving, or if I didn't buy it, focus on moving west to. I made it clear I was going to Alaska for the summer gold season, as planned the last trip there in 2010. I also told them it would help me to have a decision on the house by the time I got back from Florida, and had to commit one way or another, I had to make plane reservations, and there was a lot of work I had to do before I left, but not the same work, depending on which way I'm going. Otherwise we'd be able to make no progress till I got back, since I'd be out of touch in the wilderness while I was gone. There was no decision when I got back, so I had to go with the default option, moving west. I went ahead and committed the time and money to that work.new decking on the trailer For example, repairing and rebuilding the trailer, a major job. I had to add brakes, add decking, repair the wheel wells, replace the rotten upper part of the boat's cradle, and build new dry deckboxes. Then I had to pack it up with the last of my stuff. I put a down payment on a parking place in Montana. By the end of May, I was ready to go, with just a few things to pack and prep, and 10 days left before I was scheduled to fly to Florida for a long weekend to scatter Dad's ashes, then return to Virginia with 10 days to drive to Missoula, store the van and trailer till next summer, and catch my flight to Alaska from there. Things were on schedule and ready to roll.

Then, with only days to go, my sisters decide they want to sell the house, with the normal disregard for what it cost me, or the disruption to my life. Though the last bit of craziness and confusion forced me to change my plans, and cost me a lot of money as well to do so, I did it. In a last huge effort, I packed up my rigs, clear the house, put ma's remaining stuff in storage, and pack my bags to fly west instead of drive, as I'd planned. I arranged for an old friend to take my power of attorney to deal with listing the house and either selling it, or setting everything up for me to take ownership when I got back from the Arctic in the Fall. But I kept on course, headed for Alaska via Montana and Seattle on schedule, almost.

spacerIsland in the Bahamas

And on top of all that, just before I leave, I fly down and take a ship to the Bahamas with my family there to scatter Dad's ashes. It is a good trip, though I am dead tired, it is the first relief from a pressure cooker life. I am so happy to be at sea, and the islands are beautiful, and appropriate. I came here with Dad, and had my first professional gig here at 14, and I mark it as the beginning of my professional career. Five days later, I'll be at the Pacific Ocean. A few weeks later, I'll be north of the Arctic Circle.

I was pulling free of a mire of chaos and trouble created by other people, while I did my best, and did it right. I pushed it through, though it cost me way more than it should, in every way. So it goes, so it went, but in the end, I knew I would get it done, and I did. I reach the point where I am done, and my responsibilities end with my word fulfilled, and I am gone. I haven't slept in two days, but I get on the plane and my last memory is looking down at the house as we bank to head west after take-off, then I pass out, and wake up as we reach the Rockies.

Alaska 2012, The Summer of Remeberance

my Ranger pickup at the Arctic Circle sign
I return to Alaska after missing just one summer. I know just getting back up there one more time in my life is a great success in itself. It is still one of the great adventures, even if it is another "routine extreme" for me. I go not knowing when I’ll be able to get back again, or if I’ll ever come back, at least to this place. My life is changing, and times are changing. The road is being paved, and more and more people are coming up. Though the reason I chose to make Alaska one of my bases is that I know it is so vast, I can always find new places to go. But that is balanced against wanting to return to familiar places, see my friends. The practical knowledge of a place that makes it all easier, and thus more practically possible, from basic logistics to the intimate knowledge of mining small area for many years. Success is not easy, hand-mining in the Arctic wilds. Though the truth is that it it’s Alaska that is the problem, but that as I go ahead to "do more" with the music, Alaska doesn’t have a place in those plans.Still, I know that whatever happens with the music, Alaska will still be here for me when I have the time again, when I return again.

The summer of 2010 was a great season. This time, it really was not a "good" summer, though I succeeded in what I came to do, it was not easy. The tide was against me, and things did not go well. But I persevered, and managed to do what I came for, barely, from getting enough gold to pay for the trip to finding my way back to a positive attitude. So I made it into a ok summer, though in truth it was a brutally hard to do, but that also made it a powerful experience, which is part of what I come for and came for, significance, depth, and raw, powerful energies.

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snowstorm and light in arctic mountains

blue enamel plate with the summers goldPeople always ask "how did you do?" meaning the gold digging, so I'll start there. Practically, I'd hoped that by taking twice as much time as usual I might be able to earn twice as much as usual, which would be a big help. In perspective, a good year I might get three ounces, my best year was five, and I've found less than an ounce. This year I got four ounces, but took at least twice as long to get it, and pushing it to the limit. Which is to say it was like two poor years of two ounces, both in one summer.

I don't count on luck, but with more time, I could take more time and try more spots, hoping to hit a great spot. It is always a lottery up there, since there's always the possibility of hitting a crack that caught a bunch of gold, or finding another big nugget, but I count on just making wages by moving enough dirt. We didn't have much luck over all, though had some serious lucky breaks, which pulled the fat from the fire in what was really a bad year. That is the way it works, you balance luck with a lot of work, hoping one or the other, or a bit of both, really, will produce in the end. sluice in the creek below the digI always chose perseverance as my priority and just moved a lot of dirt, and in the end, did ok, though I also dug a huge hole for which I got almost nothing. I also had some great luck, and so did my partner. That is the way it goes, and it has happened before. One reason for having a partner and digging more than one place.

It was a hard year. It was crazy weather, almost continually overcast, rain and drizzle, till we were swamped with landsliding mud and flooded out of our holes. Two holes turned into running streams beds, complete with cascading waterfalls and pools we named in our own honor. We needed some humor to deal with the bad luck. We had 6 different holes in the end, trying to make it work. I'd hoped to have 6 ounces or maybe more, but at least, I wasn't counting on it, and I managed to pay for the trip, even though it was way more expensive than usual. I actually pushed it further than I ever have, taking risks I don't usually do and hope to never to again, but I was desperate to make it pay, with so much riding on it, whether I could swing the house, whether I could save my boat. Still, I was able to pause and be grateful just to be there, in that place, that I was able to take this time, and succeed in other ways, while just spending another short time in my life in this incredible, beautiful place, living a life I love.

wilderness camp, tarp along the creekhearth at dig with cooking pot, gold in pan, and hatthe creek wth sluice and bucket, covered in heavy snow

Perhaps it was better that way, since regaining a positive attitude in the face of bad summer is a greater and surer victory than being able to feel positive again when everything is going right. And that was the primary goal, to recover, and to regain a positive attitude, tune my human radio to a positive channel, and smile again. And I did, and the level of resistance, all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the craziness of the whole world, the little pains and big problems, become ridiculous. When it goes over the top, it is comical and you smile a crooked, ironic smile, shake your head and laugh, somehow, and instead of becoming enraging with all the negatives of frustration, disgust, anger, discouragement, and despair. Though I only managed to turn the corner, and it is still a struggle to hold on to that change, every morning, day and night, yet I did turn the corner, and every day it gets more natural, and a positive attitude becomes more entrenched, though it may never be easy, it never is, as the negatives keep coming. But I did turn the corner, and that was perhaps the greatest success of all.

the best gold nugget sitting in my handLike any story, it is really so many little scenes that had significance and meaning, sometimes standing alone, sometimes in the context of the bigger story, sometimes both, sometimes standing alone insignificance, sometimes significant in adding up. The smallest scene can still be of great significance in the whole play, in the flow of energy. In a really crazy trip like this one, it gets surreal enough, the level of improbable events itself becomes significant. As great weights are shifted, they still can balance on a single point, and though it is a small part of the journey, turning a corner can change everything.

sunrise on mountain and amazing cloudsIt is essentially still the story of what I always come here for, and go to the wild places anywhere along my circuit, or simply centering in the morning over the casually ritualistic ceremony of making and drinking my cup of coffee, my personal tea ceremony. I return to a way of life where it is the energy flowing in things that is significant, is important, not the physical manifestation. In some way, the part of me that listens to music, can listen for the same harmony and dissonance, the same rightness, in all the energy around me, a spiritual, mystical philosphy of physics as a sense, as a perception, and a state of being, a sensory experience, just like music is in me and in my life. I return to the harmony of nature, of physics, where I can watch the energy dance around me, physically manifest in the pure and simply complex ways of the natural world, and find again the heart and spirit of the life I have lived. I come to remember what I am really doing, and return to that way of being.

brian weighing out the goldI also come to remember who and what I am, here alone in the wild, to be myself, and remember who and what I am, and what I am capable of, and how capable I am. What is normal for me is extraordinary, so I tend to not notice it, or really appreciate what I do, and the man I am to do it. I have done so many amazing things, over and over, not to prove anything, or without serious consideration and careful planning, not without doubts and a careful measure of risk, not without deciding sometimes to turn back, or to try a different way, or not go at all. I know I have limits, and I can make mistakes, and have physical limits. But beyond all that, I just get it done, somehow. This last summer, my digging partner, who has lived in Alaska most of his life, and wintered in these mountains, and yet, he looks at me one day, casually living my life, and tells me I am tougher than he is. And that is saying something.

I guess it is a long story, a great story really, like the story I am trying to tell with this whole website, all my webjournals, all my music, and all I say and do. I wonder when and if I'll have the chance to tell it all. I keep my journals, so in a real way I at least have written the story down, day by day, as it happens, the significant and the insignificant. But will I ever write "The Book", well, I guess that is another story.

This is the simple story, so, well… I did it again, completed the great circle and made it back to the Arctic wilderness. I did what I came for, and saw it through, did what it takes, remember that I have what it takes, feel the steel in me, one more time. It was also a summer of improbable events, a time of improbability, one I still seem to be following. Yet I made it work, by just keeping on keeping on, making that extra effort, and not giving up or giving in. I made a list of the great words, like Discipline, Determination, Resilience, Honor, and Perseverance. I wrote new songs, and knocked another hole in my old guitar. I faced my fears and worries. I didn't really solve any problems, I just remembered that I can deal with whatever problems I have to deal with, whatever happens, with quiet confidence. There were a lot of great scenes, great moments. It didn't come easy.

The last big piece of the story was that this was "The Summer of Remembrance."
the bottle and the cup, along with the two coffeecups I brought, All the world's a stage and beach with seagulls I came here to remember my mom and my dad, pay tribute to their passing, celebrate their lives, and slowly go through the pages of memory, the scenes and picture, connect to their spirits and lives, what has passed with them, and what of them lives on in me and others. I brought two coffee cups, one of mom's I took for my own and I brought from 1213, "All My World's A Stage", and one I bought here by chance in the thrift store, one with a beach and seagulls, something I shared with Dad. I bought a bottle of rum, here in Alaska, the last time I was here, and I was here in the Arctic when he died, and a friend hiked up with the news. I bought this bottle of sailors rum, Black Seal, when I got back to Fairbanks, and it waited here till now. I bought an old china cup at the thrift store, too, just for this, and when the time was right, here in this cabin in the wilderness, I drank from the Cup of Remembrance, shared it with an old friend, and we drank and talked of several people we had both lost since last we met, a different person different nights, with several days between remembrances, as we continued remembering through the days, bringing them to life in ourselves, and laying them to rest as well. In the slow course of the bottle, I toasted to and was reunited with the great people in my life, the ones who live on in me, from great mentors and friends, to great authors and places, the known and unknown, and as we do every year, to the gold miners like us who came before, the living and the dead.

two wheeled cart loaded to the maximumThen, it is done, too, and it is time to go. I spent a day ferrying huge loads down the mountain, leaving them below on the flats of the main valley. Though I tried to fit everything I could, in a powerful coincidence, the last load took everything but a small pack and my guitar. So I left the cart below and as daylight faded, walked back for that last load. So I left, coincidentally, without planning or trying, in a scene just like a story, classic, magic, and beautiful. There is a last cup left in the bottle, so I sit in the doorway of the old cabin to drink it and toast to it all. Then I start down the old abandoned road away from my cabin in the wilderness, my pack on my back and my guitar in my hand, The Folksinger, singing a song, heading out on the great circle, the circuit, to go do a tour that will be one of the greatest ever, certainly. The snow began to fall through the twilight as I came down off the mountain. It was perfect, and beautiful, and Right. I was on the way.

campfire in snow and darknessBut true to the whole trip, it don't come easy, but I was feeling good as I staggered on through pouring snow and darkness, dead tired, carrying my sleeping gear from where I'd cached it to where I cached everything else. I'd realized after I'd run the first load down to the highway that I couldn't do that with the rest, but had to cache it the first place I could off the mountain, past the last serious creek crossing at the foot of the hill. I could see the snow was coming and I had to focus on getting all the loads just down off the mountain and across that last bad creek crossing before it did, maybe with the ice I dealt with that morning under it. I camped in the snow that night, still managing to build a fire and warm up something to eat, because I had to.

campfire in snow and darkness
I woke to a world of white, to light my fire again and make coffee. It was great. Then I start carrying loads the last miles to the road. By that evening the snow had turned to rain, and I was in the truck and on the road, headed to the village and being among people again. I always stop in the village with the intention of experiencing some of the best of civilization as my first step to re-entering the world, always a difficult transition after being alone in the wild for so long.

This time it is exceptionally great. I visit old friends with their new baby, so cool. That night I am at the house of other old friends, telling stories and entertaining a room full photographers on a photo safari, reciting poetry, drinking a glass of good wine and eating home-made blueberry cake. I love the true great aspects of civilization, whether it is the great books, all the great art, and of course, the great food, simple or fancy, and of course, the company of good people, the ambiance of a great place, the simplicity, depth, and subtle complexity of great experiences. This is one. Definitely so fine.

guitar in case, old boots, and journal in the cabinLife is clear, so clear, so obvious. I go to the wilderness so that I can feel and see the energy flowing so clearly, and live a life where the energies are flowing simply and clearly.

I've often said I go to the wilderness so I can just be myself, away from the dulcimer, away from the people, so I am simply who I am there alone in the wild, when I am not being what I am. And without planning or trying, coincidentally, as soon as I return to the human world, I am just what I am, “a teller of tales” to quote ma talking about herself, coincidentally enough, and entertaining a room full of people, before I have even left the Arctic.

When I reach Fairbanks a couple days later, again, the strange dance with chance and circumstance, of coincidence and improbability continues. I go to get the treat I've dreamed of that summer, a big mocha expresso with lots of whipped cream, but I walk into a room with a lot of people with guitars, and after I order, I have to ask what is up, and it is an open mike, and the moderator is saying it's time to start but no one is signed up for first place. I reply that I can grab my guitar from the truck, if he likes, and go first. Before I can even have my mocha, I am on stage, Brian the Folksinger, again, performing for a room full of people, hearing the room erupt in applause as I finish, while my drink ends up forgotten at the edge of the stage where the MC kindly set it. So it goes. I head out and shop, then drive to Delta Junction that night, pulling into my place in the middle of the night.

the ranger pickup parked at the Wiseman, Alaska miner's museum


Yes, there are a lot of stories. But this is the simple story.

I am back on tour, being what I am, like it was written. I've stopped wondering why. Or what it is I am. But I accept it, and I know the play well, and the character I play, and all the world's a stage. I go to live out my role on in, in it, my "hour upon the stage", "the show must go on", and will go on, though I have many scenes yet to play.

airplane parked at the airport terminalIt begins as it ends. I really am continuing on the endless circle, continuing to complete the circuit. The last journal entry was from Florida, where I put the boat in the yard, and now I'm in Seattle, on my way back to the boat again.

I'm visiting old friends, this “moon of friends', first in Montana and now Seattle, and places I have lived, the regular oasis in my gypsy life, beads on the thread. Places I plan to visit and live in again, since I've really been scarce for years, focused on other places and chapters, just passing through for a few days. Though I am spending a few weeks this time between both places. Playing music, thinking about the possibilities out here for me, and playing music, jamming with my guitar-player brother musicians.

In a couple days, I'm flying back to DC, though the plan is to immediately move everything to Florida to work on the boat, and repair, replace, and consolidate everything I own, in one place, then going mobile again. In another improbable event, the ticket I bought last Spring gets me to DC at the same day as a hurricane, Sandy, which is shaping up to be a bad one, and as a sailor, I know hurricanes well.

the dulci, guitar, piano, and a bunch of other instruments at 1213As for detailed plans, I'll move everything to Florida, not take anything west yet, and plan to take a couple years to repair, replace, and consolidate. It may be shorter, but the plan is that I'll really focus on the music first. Which means heading out to fests or road trips and tours as needed, maybe a trip out west starting to move stuff that way, maybe not. I'll keep returning to keep working on getting totally mobile again, boat and vehicles, so I can leave with nothing left behind when I go, but that won't be the highest priority, so if it takes a couple years, fine, as long as I am making steady progress with the music, and when I go, I'm ready for another long series of circuits. I'll expect to be on tour again during the Spring, Summer, and Fall fest season, and generally performing steady, picking up where I left off on everything back in the end of 2010, the year I visited Alaska last. More important, I am going to do more with the music, which in turn, will have the greater effect on what I do and where I go. It is a new chapter and I am heading out on uncharted water, with no idea where the road will lead. I plan to start world touring, but how it works out, flying out to travel by land of cruising in the boat or both, I don't know, and it doesn't matter. My course is pretty clear, and if I keep the right course, it will take me where I want to go, even if I don't know where that is.

the van and toyota in the driveway at 1213But right now, I have to just deal with immediate practical circumstances, like where I am going to sleep, how am I going to live, and how am I going to get it all done, step by step, and I need to hit the ground running. I've got to move, and move everything, get set up back at the boat, plug into the music scene, start performing, recording, and dulcimer building, sing the boatyard blues, and get back on the water, and then.. get moving again.

I try to distill many experiences into simple statements that represent what has happened, the essential concept, theme, or conclusion. The conclusion, the resolution, from the summer's retreat was that I needed to "get my house in order." The recent events and a bad decade and more had left so much out of order, and the main task was to work on the foundation, on the unfinished tasks, the scattered things, and the basic practical things my life rests on, which led to the plan to gather everything together to "replace, repair, and consolidate.". Though the end result of the plan is to end up mobile again, so I can follow the music wherever it takes me, and be able to be productive and self-contained wherever I am and no matter how long I stay there. My "house" is a concept, or as a gypsy is my road-rig or my boat. Still, I'll stay open to the opportunity to buy a place if I find a great place and have the money. Or settle someplace for a while if it is a good idea. I've been a gypsy all my life, really, and it works, and I like it, when the cops, criminals, creeps, fascistic rich, and "concerned citizens" leave me alone to be a free American, living the life I chose, within my rights, just pursuing liberty and happiness. I tolerate them, I wish they'd tolerate me.

the van and toyota in the driveway at 1213Though I’ll admit that, in staying with ma, I have realized how effective and productive it can be to stay in one place, have the space, not have to pack and unpack, accumulate things. Just to leave work half-done and set up, and be able to walk in and pick right up, have the studio set up and ready to go, instruments and equiment ready to go at the touch of a switch. I spend ten years on the road with great studio gear that I seldom used because it was too much trouble to set up, and recorded only one CD, and that was when I did settle down in a cabin in Montana for 6 weeks just to get it done. But it can all wait to play out in the future. I have plenty of immediate priorities to deal with, one step at a time.

It is really about the music, and being mobile and self-contained gives me the greatest flexibility to follow the music where it leads, react to opportunity, as well as being a practical reality for the low-income work I do playing music, both the boat and a road rig, because it makes it possible. I choose the gypsy life because it works for me, so I can go back to the wild regularly, wherever I can find it, but be able to go stay in town, whatever town it is, and play for people, talk to them, shine while I can… then do it again

spacerAll My World's A Stage cup on the dulci setup on the street

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