Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fantastic Planet of Love (Marshall Crenshaw)

I'm baaaaaaaack! - here follows my post-FRFF post to the Dar-list:

Hello, All - I'm still a bit discombobulated (in a good way, Martha!) and felt my story best told in stream-of-consciousness snippets - thanks to all who once again lifted my spirit and carried my heart... up the hills, through the rain and under the blazing sun... <3

Tuesday, 7/24 - Ft. Lauderdale to Boston... Logan Airport... Stephen/Mosh!... my tent and sleeping bag (which I'd purposely left behind) in the trunk... excitement he had already packed them turned to hilarity they were *still* there from last year... Logan the cat... seafood bisque... air mattress on the floor...

Wednesday, 7/25 - Target run for last-minute essentials... Panera foccacia... our first JT ritual (Jethro Tell's Aqualung)... Mass Pike... Revere Lynn... Tanglewood... Stockbridge... the Great Barrington K-Mart and Amy!... Hillsdale... Dodds Farm... Peace Branch Horse and Bible Camp... Chris Chin!... Reinhard!... it takes a village to set up a tent... Jim G!... Jen T.!... dinner at the diner... what, no tomatoes?!?... Candy and Joanne!... Happy Ice... Sharon G. and Jessie!... Camp Dar song circle... The Carpenters... Santa Dave (Sam and Dave?)... Cami!... Carrot Juice is Murder... Tangled Up in Blue... butt-sucking the moisture from our chairs... Girlock Gone Wild...

Thursday, 7/26 - iced hazelnut... finding Laurie and Dana's RV... chai freeze... monster veggie skinny pancake... if it's Thursday it must be Colorado wrap... Kahlua chunk ice cream... the Lovell Sisters (and middle child syndrome)... Marshall Crenshaw's hipster vibe... the Budgiedome with David Massengill, Jack Hardy, Iain Campbell Smith and our very own Nick and Elizabeth...

Friday, 7/27 - iced hazelnut... Annie Wenz!... Emerging Artist Showcase (wow!)... sharong!, with pink donuts and Buzz Cola and Krusty-O's (oh my!) for Mosh... if it's Friday it must be tempeh reuben... Gene and Isabel!... Twisting and Shouting at the Beatles Forever workshop... Tina!... Jitterz ice cream... Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers (a.k.a. mainstage gymnastics event) who discover that, at FRFF, the accordion is not a novelty instrument... songswap delayed by heavy rain and intermittent lightning... when Mary Gauthier, graduate from the School of Hard Knocks, looks worried, we should be too!... three new Richard songs, including a ten-years-after follow-up to She's Leaving Home, performed at the Beatles tribute... early bedtime due to canopy collapse...

Saturday, 7/28 - tarp meander... back in the tent just in time to fall asleep to more rain... iced hazelnut... early downpour at the Musica Internationale workshop (hooray for sharong's WFUV ponchos)... Candy's birthday Pop-Tart ritual... Tracy Grammer and Jim Henry's great set, with a second annual DTS (Dare to Suck) selection, this year George Michael's Faith... Like a Rolling Stone... neon green polka band covering Over the Rainbow... watching Dar watch (and enjoy) Ellis during the songwriting process (Alleluia meets How Would It Be)... Gimme Some Truth (and three chords?)... exchanging birthday cards, presents and tears with Megan!... Gandalf Murphy's Circus calls Dar (their four-doors-down neighbor) to assist with song by Muslim songwriter (a.k.a. Peace Train)... Dar asking our help in making magic for her three-year-old Stephen (the lights of Iowa)... EFO's carp in the bathtub... ice cream tent closed so apple and cheese crepe instead... Love is Strange(ling)... the road less traveled (euphemism for early bedtime) but lived vicariously through others' adventures...

Sunday, 7/29 - parodies of Naked Folk (Fans) Calendar... "Our Shoots are Rowing" workshop with the Dust Poets... Gospel Wake-Up Call... tent village breakdown at noon... Meg and Kate (with Devin) modeling their galoshes... many group photos around the banner... We Are the Others... Abbie's "I smell like a hippie" quip... Good Year for the Roses (harmonies abounding)... falafel for lunch... Richard and Lucy swapping songs on mainstage... ice cream choices dropping like flies as we stand in line (my Moose Trails is poop-deprived)... Arlo doing Woody's small peace song... Never Turning Back... table for 20 at Four Brothers Pizza... my usual gyro with fries... flush toilet!... running water!... mirror (yikes!)... the traditional, yet never taken for granted, birthday pie... blessings to you all as I turn 53 (but feel 19 in spirit)... the other JT ritual (James Taylor, "the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston")... playing new CDs during the two-hour drive back to Framingham... Logan greets us with as much enthusiasm as a cat allows... one more night on an air mattress...

Monday, 7/30 - leftover Starbucks bottled mocha... birthday card, present and tears with Stephen... shower!!!... lunch with Herb and Gert... sweet potato chips, dark-chocolate-covered edamame and Falcon Ridge wine at Trader Joe's (supposedly opening a store in Florida in two or three years!)... back to Logan (the airport, not the cat)... more tears (equal amounts of residual joy and goodbye sadness)... writing notes on the plane... back to my own house (and husband and children and dog and jacuzzi and bed!)... typing and posting the next day...

Love to all - see you next year for my tenth... and the festival's twentieth (zippity... :-)

A journey continues until it stops
A journey that stops is no longer a journey
A journey loses things on its way
A journey passes through things, things pass through it
When a journey is over, it loses itself to a place
When a journey remembers, it begins a journal
Which is a new journey about an old journey
A journey over time is different from a journey into time
An actual journey is into the future
A reflective journey is into the past

A journey always begins in a place called Here
Pack your bags and imagine your journey
Unpack your bags and imagine your journey is done
If you're afraid of a journey, don't buy shoes

QUOTE: "How does one keep from "growing old inside"? Surely only in community. The only way to make friends with time is to stay friends with people…. Taking community seriously not only gives us the companionship we need, it also relieves us of the notion that we are indispensable." ~ Robert McAfee Brown

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Traveling Again (Dar Williams)

Your Horoscope for JULY 24, 2007

Today, SUSAN, you may appear to be blocked on all sides. Beloved projects may be put on hold; mix-ups at work might have you worrying about your job; romantic matters also seem to be stalled. It's times like this when you need to get away from it all and try to recoup your energies and get your thoughts together. Get in the car and take a short trip out of town, preferably by yourself.

How f*cking funny - I was planning to do just that... :-)

Leaving in an hour for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (see previous post) - back late Monday, July 30!

Traveling Again by Dar Williams

POEM: The Clause by C. K. Williams

This entity I call my mind, this hive of restlessness,
this wedge of want my mind calls self,
this self which doubts so much and which keeps reaching,
keeps referring, keeps aspiring, longing, towards some state
from which ambiguity would be banished, uncertainty expunged;

this implement my mind and self imagine they might make together,
which would have everything accessible to it,
all our doings and undoings all at once before it,
so it would have at last the right to bless, or blame,
for without everything before you, all at once, how bless, how blame?

this capacity imagination, self and mind conceive might be the "soul,"
which would be able to regard such matters as creation and
origin and extinction, of species, peoples, even families, even mine,
of equal consequence, and might finally solve the quandary
of this thing of being, and this other thing of not;

these layers, these divisions, these meanings or the lack thereof,
these fissures and abysses beside which I stumble, over which I reel:
is the place, the space, they constitute,
which I never satisfactorily experience but from which the fear
I might be torn away appalls me, me, or what might most be me?

Even mine, I say, as if I might ever believe such a thing;
bless and blame, I say, as though I could ever not.
This ramshackle, this unwieldy, this jerry-built assemblage,
this unfelt always felt disarray: is this the sum of me,
is this where I'm meant to end, exactly where I started out?

QUOTE: "One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." ~ Andre Gide

Monday, July 23, 2007

Beware the Killer Tents (Moxy Fruvous)

I do not even know where to begin to describe the feelings/memories/sensations regarding the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival - to quote Joni, it is "in my blood like holy wine". This will be my *ninth* year - seems like forever... and just yesterday at the same time.

I became a fan of singer-songwriter Dar Williams and subscribed to her online discussion group in July 1997 (hey, I just realized it's been ten years this month!) - I would read posts about the festival that summer and the next with complete envy, wishing that one day I would be able to join everyone. In the meantime, I had begun e-mail friendships with a few people through the list - when the opportunity presented itself for me to attend FRFF 1999, I jumped (metaphorically speaking!).

It was amazing to finally put faces to names and spend a three- (now four-) day weekend with people who shared the importance of music, values and traditions - whether Dar is performing or not (this year she is!), we have a Camp Dar/Dar Camp/Damp Car area which can attract as few as 30 or as many as 100. My routine is to fly into Boston on Tuesday and meet up with a friend who lives there - we make the 3-hour-ish drive to Hillsdale New York the next day, arriving mid-afternoon to set up our tents. We count on dinner at the diner the Wednesday night before and a Sunday evening decompression at Four Brothers Pizza after the festival - there are song circles, loaves-and-fishes brownies and hugs abounding. I have a favorite food vendor and a preferred coffee tent and I, so used to an overflowing Day-Timer, pride myself on going into non-decision-making mode for the entire festival. Oh okay, I do have to choose between coconut almond and expresso (we have ice cream for dinner every night)... and the pesto quesadilla or the tempeh reuben - talk about win/win... :-)

As I explained to "the people back home", going to Falcon Ridge that first year and meeting other Dar-listers was akin to attending a reunion of people I felt I knew intimately, but had never seen before - oh, the blessings for this lovely extended family (which continues to grow each year... <3>

I jokingly say that Falcon Ridge is chiseled in stone on my life calendar and, if I'm not there, I'm dead - actually, I'm serious...

POEM: The Prayer by Richard Jackson

Blessed be the year climbing its cliffs, the month crossing the fields
of hours and days, the bridges of minutes, the grass where we stood
that first moment, the festival music keeping our time, the hood
of the season's sky above us, the moment's fictive shield
against history, her tattered glance, her broken smile, everything real
or imagined, bless the rivers I invented to carry us, the woods
I planted as our own, bless even the sweet hurt, even the herd
of stars that trample my real heart which she has taught to heal.
Blessed be these trackless words running downstream
following the remote valleys she has cut through my life,
and blessed be the sounds they cannot make, but mean,
and blessed be all these pages watermarked with her name,
these thoughts that wander the unmapped roads of strife
and love, her blessed world whose dream is always a dream.

QUOTE: "We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free." ~ Starhawk

Sunday, July 22, 2007

When I Go (Dave Carter)

Dave Carter: August 13, 1952 - July 19, 2002

K and I got together today for our annual Dave Carter labyrinth walk/remembrance/seize-the-day ritual - we meet halfway (meaning we each drive about 30 minutes) to a lovely retreat center. The labyrinth is in the back of the property, fairly isolated, and our tradition is to sit on the benches for an hour or so, catching up on each other's lives - we then walk the path, mindfully, me giving her a 5-minute headstart so as not to crowd. It always seems to take me the entire journey toward the center to clear my mind, as there's just so much swirling and competing for attention. The return walk finds me cleansed and open, tabula rasa - the storm that threatened all afternoon waited until we were finished to let loose (thanks, Dave... :-)

Our tradition is to then drive into the town of Delray Beach to find an interesting restaurant, where we drink a glass of wine, share some appetizers and chat some more - we discovered a very cool Asian bistro this time, trying their shrimp/veggies tempura and their chicken dumplings (yum!).

My story of Dave Carter begins in the fall of 1998, when I began reading articles/reviews of an up-and-coming songwriter who was winning all sorts of contests and had just released a CD, with Tracy Grammer, his "partner in all things" - I found out they would be performing at a folk music conference I was attending in February 1999 and was intrigued enough to make a point to go to their showcase (actually three of them), where I promptly fell in love with Dave's smart, layered lyrics, Tracy's violin and their combined harmonies. I wasn't able to buy the CD until six months later and continued to be enthralled - saw them again at Falcon Ridge 2000 and not too long afterwards got a call from their agent, asking if I would present them in May in my just-begun house concert series.

I drove down to Main Street Cafe, where they were playing the night before my show and met Laurie, the proprietress (more on her another time) - Dave and Tracy performed in my living room the following evening and it was a magical time I'll always remember. I saw them at Falcon Ridge a few months later and the next spring they came to West Palm Beach with Joan Baez, who had become enamored with their music, even covering one of Dave's songs - Dave was very sick that night and, when I had a chance to chat with him after the show, said he'd see me in July at Falcon Ridge, as usual. He suffered a heart attack and died a few days before the 2002 festival, a month short of his 50th birthday (see my post of a few days ago) - a reliable member of the folk community posted the news, at Tracy's request, to their online discussion group that Friday afternoon... and it was difficult to believe but impossible to ignore...

My husband was out of town that weekend and I wept for hours, inconsolable - a dear friend (also a fan of their music) called and "talked me off the ledge", keeping me company on the phone for more than three hours, as we both tried to process the idea of a world without Dave Carter. The folk community was devastated - amazingly, Tracy insisted on going to Falcon Ridge, where a beautiful tribute was arranged (when their mainstage set was supposed to have taken place), with many folk artists covering their songs. Tracy said she couldn't imagine being anywhere else except in a place where they were so loved and she knew she'd feel strength and support - the entire weekend was surreal...

My post the day after Dave's death barely scratches the surface of everything he meant to me and others - he was dear, he was special and he is so much missed, even five years later...


Take my hand.

We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.
Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

What if you knew you'd be the last
to touch someone?

If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line's crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't say Thank you, I don't remember
they're going to die.

A friend told me she'd been with her aunt.
They'd just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt's powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon's spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

QUOTE: "Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life." ~ John Muir

Saturday, July 21, 2007

May I Suggest (Susan Werner)

Today I found out a woman from church died during an operation - J's passing is still very much on my mind. I read this poem and thought of my friend T, who lost *two* sons to bizarre accidents, one a car crash and the other a lightning strike - we worked together and every time we heard an ambulance siren, she would begin to tremble. I can't even imagine - our children are supposed to bury us, and not the other way around. It's easy to get lost in the abyss... which is why we should embrace Gandhi's philosophy - otherwise, it would be too painful to put one foot in front of the other each day. As Todd Snider sings, "I've learned nothing but that there is another sunrise coming all but one of the times it sets" - words to live by (pun semi-intended... <3 )

POEM: Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins

It is possible to be struck by a
meteor or a single-engine plane while
reading in a chair at home. Pedestrians
are flattened by safes falling from
rooftops mostly within the panels of
the comics, but still, we know it is
possible, as well as the flash of
summer lightning, the thermos toppling
over, spilling out on the grass.
And we know the message can be
delivered from within. The heart, no
valentine, decides to quit after
lunch, the power shut off like a
switch, or a tiny dark ship is
unmoored into the flow of the body's
rivers, the brain a monastery,
defenseless on the shore. This is
what I think about when I shovel
compost into a wheelbarrow, and when
I fill the long flower boxes, then
press into rows the limp roots of red
impatiens -- the instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth from the
sleeve of his voluminous cloak. Then
the soil is full of marvels, bits of
leaf like flakes off a fresco,
red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick
to burrow back under the loam. Then
the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue, the
clouds a brighter white, and all I
hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone, the small
plants singing with lifted faces, and
the click of the sundial as one hour
sweeps into the next.

QUOTE: "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." ~ Gandhi

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wildwood Flower (A. P. Carter)

My friend Maryanne was on the front page of the Miami Herald two days ago... or at least the rare orchid she discovered was - how f*cking cool is that? (rhetorical question... :-)

"Rare ghost orchids found near Naples
A mysterious plant found in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples was found to be the exceedingly rare ghost orchid.

Recently a woman took a walk in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and discovered a ghost orchid in full bloom.

This was not an everyday or even an every-year occurance. There are not many ghost orchids on the planet. Fewer than 1,000 are known to be growing wild, and their locations are, by and large, kept secret by the botanists who study them.

This is because ghost orchids have a habit of walking off in the bags and baskets of orchid enthusiasts. They can be sources of profit or private enjoyment.

Maryanne Biggar wanted neither. She was looking for owls.

In the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, 20 miles outside of Naples, she walked down a boardwalk that winds through sawgrass marsh and some of the state's last remaining old-growth cypress forest. There she stopped to scan the tree canopy.

Owl-spotting may well be a more rewarding activity than ghost orchid-spotting, because ghost orchids are virtually invisible except when they flower. They do this infrequently and irregularly.

They are fiendishly difficult to cultivate, and occur naturally only in Southwest Florida and Cuba. Even here they are hard to find. While researching The Orchid Thief, author Susan Orlean spent months tramping the backcountry and didn't see a single one.

On this particular afternoon Biggar spotted a gray-brown barred owl with its head tucked into its breast, napping. And something else -- a spray of brilliant white on a bald cypress tree 150 feet distant, perhaps 60 feet high on the trunk.

The spray turned out to be nine flowers, each as big as a child's palm, with narrow petals and a broad lip from which descended two long tapered tendrils. The flowers seemed to float in space, not unlike hovering ghosts.

Biggar, who runs a gardening business in Homestead, knows her orchids better than most. But her walking companions -- husband John Ogden, a chief scientist at the South Florida Water Management District in charge of Everglades restoration, and their friends Jean McCollom and Mike Duever -- are all research biologists.

''I just knew they would all pooh-pooh it,'' Biggar said.

It was, after all, improbable. A series of frosts in the late 1980s and early 1990s killed many of the Corkscrew orchids. Some survivors were stolen by enthusiasts.

And Mike Owen, a botanist from the nearby Fakahatchee Strand who may know more about ghost orchids than any other man alive (he was featured in Orlean's book, and the character based on him meets an untimely death in the movie Adaptation), has said he's never seen a ghost orchid taller than 23 feet tall, or with more than three flowers.

That any ghost orchid exists at all anywhere on the planet is improbable. It is the compulsive gambler of the plant kingdom, evolutionarily speaking. ''Every one has gone through a gantlet of improbabilities,'' Owen said.

A ghost orchid seed will likely die if it's not infected by a particular strain of beneficial fungus. It will likely die if there's not enough peat to nourish its giant cypress host. It will likely die if there's not enough water in the slough below to saturate the air and mediate temperature swings. It will likely die if the tree canopy isn't dense enough to shelter it from the wind and desiccating sun.

Even if the ghost orchid has covered all these very long bets, it can be pollinated only by a giant moth that flies only at night.

''The survival of the ghost orchid as a species is completely dependent, as far as we know, on one species of moth, the giant sphinx,'' Owen said.

The giant sphinx moth feeds only on two kinds of flowers, moon flowers and ghost orchids, Owen said. 'It has a six-inch wingspan and a six-inch proboscis. It's sometimes dubbed `the flying tongue' . . . and it's flying around the swamp at night trying to detect these flowers.''

The flowers emit what Owen unscientifically but poetically dubbed an ''odoriferous chum slick,'' stronger at night, to attract the giant sphinx moth to their nectar. It sticks its tongue deep inside the flower to reach the nectar, picking up a packet of pollen in process, and then it ``sips up all that high energy sugar that fuels its flight to the next flower, like jet fuel.''

Owen has cataloged more than 300 ghost orchids at the Fakahatchee Strand; around 600 are in Big Cypress and about 60 are in the Panther Preserve. Nobody knows how many are growing in the smaller Corkscrew Swamp.

So everything had to go exactly according to plan to cause this particular ghost orchid to come into being 30 to 50 years ago (judging by the extensive root system); and at some more recent point a view-obstructing cypress branch had to fall; and Biggar had to visit during a particular two-week span of an irregular blooming cycle, so a woman on a walk on a rainy Saturday afternoon could see a flower. The word for this is serendipity.

''If you spend a lot of time in the woods, you kind of know what's there, what to expect,'' Biggar said. ``You're looking for that little blip that's out of the ordinary.''

She stared at it for a while. Then -- scared of losing the flower for the forest -- ``I took my shoes off and pointed them in a line with where I was looking.''

When she told McCollom, the scientist did not pooh-pooh. ''She was more than ready to believe,'' Biggar said.

John Ogden looked at his wife's face. ''She had this look -- real excitement. Amazement,'' he said. ``And she had that I told you so look. She's good.''

They went back to McCollom's and Duever's house and celebrated with cocktails. E-mails went out that afternoon to South Florida's small but hardy band of wild orchid enthusiasts. The Fort Myers News-Press reported the story; The AP picked it up. The blogs followed.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary volunteers had trained a telescope on the flowers so that visitors could see them in perfect detail. The number of visitors -- which drops during the sweltering summer months -- has surged.

Sanctuary manager Ed Carlson noted that the ghost orchid isn't the only pretty flower in the Swamp -- ''Our hibiscus are vermilion and big as dinner plates, our sunflowers are like gold,'' he said -- but even he seemed a bit awed.

''It's unprecedented,'' Carlson said. ``I don't know a better word for it.''

More maddened enthusiasts are on the way, rumored to be flying in from all over. The flowers, up for now, will drop off over the next week.

Carlson is welcoming everybody, but he took the precaution of moving infrared cameras normally used to detect panthers into a protective perimeter around the flower's host tree. "

Above the snow, a single maple holding forth
its dying flame. Among the feats of Nature:
the wild
greening from dry bulb, sour alchemy of rot, a rusty
handprint of lichen;

the eager
space-seeking species springing up after fire,
as though they took no lesson from destruction
but to begin again, twice as joyful.

QUOTE: "May our heart's garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Between Here and Gone (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

Dave Carter died five years ago today - for now I'm copying and pasting information from his website... and, after getting together with K Sunday, I will follow up with personal remembrances/experiences. He is so much missed, musically and personally - major understatement...

Love From Tracy - Sunday, July 21, 2002

Dearest friends and sweet fans,

I am with you in tears and bottomless sorrow. This loss is indescribable. He was endless spring to me, he was bountiful joy and gentleness and laughter. He was my soulmate, my partner in everything wordly and otherwise. I visited with him one last time today and he glowed golden and ageless. His sister and I agreed he looked like an angel. He was absolutely beautiful.

Yesterday, shortly after he went unconscious, he came back for a lucid minute to two to tell me, "I just died... Baby, I just died..." There was a look of wonder in his eyes, and though I cried and tried to deny it to him, I knew he was right and he was on his way. He stayed with me a minute more but despite my attempts to keep him with me, I could see he was already riding that thin chiffon wave between here and gone. He loved beauty, he was hopelessly drawn to the magic and the light in all things. I figure he saw something he could not resist out of the corner of his eye and flew into it. Despite the fact that every rescue attempt was made by paramedics and hospital staff and the death pronouncement officially came at 12:08 pm Eastern Time, I believe he died in my arms in our favorite hotel, leaving me with those final words. That's the true story I am going to tell.

I am so, so very moved by your recollections. I have a thousand hugs and tears and words waiting for whoever wants or needs them. I will meet you at Falcon Ridge on Saturday, if not before. We need to keep this music alive, it was always my mission that the world hear and know the poetry and vision and wonderful mystical magic of David Carter. This path is broad and long; I hope you will stay the course with me.

In the center of our hotel window earlier tonight, by lamplight, came the shadow of a bird to my curtain. He held steady for a four flaps of the wing, maybe five, and then he pivoted away. My heart froze for an instant and then I felt some relief. I took this midnight messenger as a sign. You know that I have been desperate for a sign.

My love to you,



"Dave Carter, 49, folk artist touted as 'major lyrical talent' - by Scott Alarik, Globe Correspondent, 7/23/2002

Dave Carter, who with partner Tracy Grammer was one of the fastest-rising acts in folk music, died Friday in Northampton of a massive heart attack. He was 49.

He and Grammer recorded for the Western Massachusetts label Signature Sounds. Their latest compact disc, ''Drum Hat Buddha,'' was seen as a major breakthrough record, prompting the Associated Press to say of Mr. Carter, who wrote the songs for the duo, ''He writes songs that can stand with the best of contemporary singer-songwriters or sound like they were written 100 years ago.'' Many predicted Mr. Carter and Grammer would become major stars. The Los Angeles Times announced Mr. Carter as ''a major lyrical talent,'' and Great Britain's Folk Roots magazine said his songs were ''destined to become the stuff of legend.''

The duo was just becoming known outside the vibrant subculture of modern folk music. Joan Baez had recently embraced Mr. Carter's music in the same fervor with which she famously promoted the songs of Bob Dylan in the 1960s and Dar Williams in the '90s. She planned to record several of Mr. Carter's songs and to use them in a world tour, as she did nationally last spring. In a Globe profile of Mr. Carter and Grammer last fall, Baez praised Mr. Carter's ability to write intimate songs that ''are available to other people. It's a kind of genius, you know,'' she said, ''and Dylan had the biggest case of it. But I hear it in Dave's songs, too.''

Jim Olsen, president of Signature Sounds, first heard Mr. Carter and Grammer in 1999, and immediately signed them to a long-term contract. They released two CDs for Signature, ''Tanglewood Tree'' in 2000 and ''Drum Hat Buddha'' in 2001. They were scheduled to go into the studio again in December. ''What made Dave such a great songwriter in my mind,'' Olsen said yesterday from his Whately offices, ''was that he had one of the most diverse knowledge bases of any person I've ever known, studied all kinds of music. His songs were very complex and sophisticated, and yet he was also a master storyteller. He grew up listening to a lot of country and folk music, and that tradition of accessibility and storytelling worked its way into his music.''

Mr. Carter perfectly fit the old showbiz saw of the overnight sensation who was years in the making. Though he studied classical and world music (he had a master's degree in music theory from the University of Oklahoma), and was an excellent jazz pianist, he did not pick up a guitar to write a song until he was 42. He was born on Aug. 13, 1952, in Oxnard, Calif., and raised in Oklahoma and Texas. He worked as a mathematician and computer programmer until 1994, when he began to pursue songwriting seriously. By that time he had moved to Portland, Ore., where he met Grammer at an open mike event. They quickly became a duo, both professionally and romantically, and her fiddle arrangements and rich vocals greatly enhanced the easy melodicism of his songs.

Mr. Carter had the rare ability to pen songs that were at once deeply spiritual, often mystical, and yet universal in their emotional scope and melodic allure. His melodies carried an unmistakable blend of modern pop and what Baez called ''something kind of Southern-rootsy.'' It was that melding of the folksy and the urbane, the ancient and the modern, the dense poet and the welcoming troubadour, that had so many in the folk world deeming Mr. Carter a major new songwriting voice. The future seemed unlimited.

When we signed Dave and Tracy,'' said Olsen, ''the promise I made them was that they may not make the big time because what they do is so personal and sophisticated, but that they were going to have a lifelong career. That appealed to Dave very much. But the truth is,'' Olsen said, ''I always believed it would only take one cover by a major star to unveil his work to the rest of the world; and I was convinced that was going to happen. Somebody was going to open the door for them; and the thing about Dave's music is that once people heard it, they became lifelong fans.''

Mr. Carter leaves Grammer; his father and stepmother, Robert and Charlene Carter of Tulsa, Okla.; and a sister, Elise Fischer. "

SONG: Between Here and Gone by Mary Chapin Carpenter

POEM: As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is—
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

QUOTE: "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. " ~ Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Morning Has Broken (Eleanor Farjeon, *not* Cat Stevens!)

This is one of the hymns we sang in church this past Sunday... and I was stunned to find it was *not* written by Cat Stevens, after all these years of believing otherwise - I wonder how many other people know this?!?

A bit of googling unearthed the following from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"Morning Has Broken" was an obscure Christian hymn that became widely known when Cat Stevens included it on his 1971 best-selling album Teaser and the Firecat. It became a signature song for Stevens. The lyrics were written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1931 and is found in the hymnals of many denominations. The tune to which it is normally sung is called "Bunessan", based upon a Scottish Gaelic traditional melody. Before Farjeon's words, it was used as a Christmas carol which began "Child in the manger, Infant of Mary", translated from the Gaelic lyrics written by Mary MacDonald. The English-language Roman Catholic hymnal also uses the tune for the hymn "This Day God Gives Me".

Writing credit for "Morning Has Broken" has often been erroneously attributed to Stevens because of his version of the song which brought it out of obscurity. The familiar piano arrangement on Stevens' album was performed by Rick Wakeman, a classically trained keyboardist with the English progressive rock band Yes. Wakeman was not credited with nor paid for his contribution at the time of the recording; years later Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, acknowledged Wakeman's contribution and paid him. In 2000, Wakeman released an instrumental version of "Morning Has Broken" on an album of the same title. Although Stevens is credited with the musical arrangement, the familiar piano intro and general structure of the piece was heard already on Floyd Cramer's 1961 album Last Date. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including Judy Collins, Floyd Cramer (twice), Dana, Neil Diamond, Art Garfunkel, Nana Mouskouri, Aaron Neville, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition and Roger Whittaker."

For M... <3

POEM: Morning Poem by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

QUOTE: "I am comforted by life's stability, by earth's unchangeableness. What has seemed new and frightening assumes its place in the unfolding of knowledge. It is good to know our universe. What is new is only new to us." ~ Pearl S. Buck

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What Do You Hear in These Sounds? (Dar Williams)

It is difficult for me to believe this is my 65th blog post in as many days - if I channeled this much focus and dedication to other areas of my life (nutrition, vitamins, sleeping, walking, reading, interpersonal relations, etc.), I'd be a different person (thinner, healthier, more-rested, wiser, connected, etc... :-) As it is, I *am* a different person, after these over-two-months-of-public-journaling - with my life circumstances these days, I am rarely alone... and this daily exercise has provided me an outlet for solitude, serenity and self-analysis. I've said this before, but I reiterate... I really don't care if anyone else is reading my posts - just having/making the opportunity to write them is enough. As Dar sings in the title song, "oh how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself" - re-filling my well through this literary exercise has helped take the edge off the world for me, which I desperately needed...

Someone inside says, "Get busy."
But I've got appointments to keep,
I have an abstemious love of equations calculated quickly
While the tepid day melts into design.

And the high cheekbones of the beautiful life
Bear the loose look of a calendar by lamplight.
I search for patterns in everything.
I am tied in knots of comprehension.

I think, how useful it might be
To pierce all the hands of the earth
With an oath of pins encircling snarling planets
But talent and shallowness sewn together

Is nothing but a kerchief tied around a survivalist's head,
And it helps to know the feet wriggling through a hole
In the universe will land for an instant
Upon the cushions of the dark,

And that after marching one doozy of a kilometer after another,
We each come upon the same poem scribbled in invisible ink
Taped to the door of a room
In which an austere justice is burning for us.

QUOTE: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Poetry Man (Phoebe Snow)

Yesterday at our UU church was the fourth annual poetry/spoken word/song event, in which congregants submit personal favorites, which are then chosen to be read throughout the service, along with a brief description of what makes them meaningful - I always participate and in the past have picked some poems near and dear to my heart written by others... but this time found me brave enough to want to share my Prayer to St. Margarita (Be Careful What You Wish For), which was very well-received. In addition, there was a soliloquy from King Richard II, a goddess song to the tune of Ode to Joy, some Adrienne Rich and some Omar Khayyam - we also had a returning member present a poetry workshop before the service, showcasing his latest book of verse, as well as reading some selections along with ours. Second only to music, poetry fills me in ways I cannot begin to describe - the service, paired with a mid-afternoon nap lulled by the sounds of a heavy rainstorm... and I was ectoplasm the rest of the day (much-needed, I must admit!)

POEM: How to Be a Poet (to remind myself) by Wendell Berry

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.

QUOTE: "Poetry is thoughts that breathe and words that burn." ~Thomas Gray

Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Hundred Names (The Nields)

The following is for Patty, whose infant granddaughter is hospitalized with a serious illness - through M's blog, she posted a few comments on my musings and I was compelled to investigate her Morning Ramble/ Daily Wanderer, finding a fascinating, inspiring, spiritual woman who's a wonderful writer and a freethinker. I'm convinced it's more about the questions than the answers - Patty honors the fact there is more than one path, literally and metaphorically, on the journey, and she seems to be traveling hers with great intent...

I am burning my purple candles, sending skyward thoughts and holding the vision for Mei-Ling's swift and full recovery - amen and blessed be... <3

Re: Prayer Flags, from the Daily Om:

"For centuries, humans from a diverse range of cultures have inscribed the whisperings of their souls onto pieces of cloth that served as mediators between the heart and the heavens. These prayer flags shared their messages of peace, wisdom, healing and love with the wind, which then carried their energy and their intent across the world. The flags are designed to inspire reflection, promote focused thought and spread a message of wellness amongst all beings. Displayed indoors, these flags act as a beacon of calm. When hung outdoors, they provide a means of sharing prayers with the world. If you choose to place your flags outside, as time passes the breath of Mother Nature will send a unique message to all beings while weathering the physical substance of the flags themselves. Tibetan Buddhists regard prayer flags as a tool that allows people to carry their compassion to the four directions. Even if you may be the only one to bask in the beauty of your flags, their meaning will travel outward, bringing blessings to the world."

POEM: Psalm by Jonah Winter

Emptying the trash,
going to sleep at night,
just daring to speak
in any language to anyone:
Our prayers are answered,
even if the words we say
are just dreamt-of
admissions of love to strangers,
unsent letters
shoved away, forgotten, at dawn,
like street lights turned off
as the sky begins to gray
above the black fields--
all of this is being written down somewhere.
See. Even that ladder leaning up against the barn
wants to make you feel better.
See how easily the dew collects on its white slats,
the way the morning hardly breathes?
See that man who drinks himself to sleep,
how his face is pressed against the kitchen table--
see how the light from his kitchen shines through the window
of the old farmhouse?
Somebody sees that light.

QUOTE: "May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. May all beings be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow. May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless. May all live in equanimity, without attachment or aversion, believing in the equality of all that lives." ~ Buddhist "all-purpose" prayer

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Talk to Me (Joni Mitchell)

My friend M was nominated for the following award, and tagged me (below) - I told her it was both a hoot and an honor and I'd graciously accept... and it even comes in silver, my favorite color... of hair *and* jewelry... :-)

" schmooze (shmz) Slang v. intr. To converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.

Now, it is my turn to share the wealth and pass along the honor to 5 worthy bloggers. But, which ones? There are so many lovely schmoozing ladies and gents out there! Ok, using the definition of schmooze above, I nominate:

My dear friend Susan at Optimistic Voices because she is lovely and southern and is the best schmoozer I have ever met! This woman never, ever takes no for an answer and you find yourself groveling at her Birkenstock-clad feet and thanking her for it.

So, here are the Schmoozer Rules:

1. If you are the recipient of The Power of Schmooze Award, write a post with links to 5 blogs that have schmoozed you into submission.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the award.

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Power of Schmooze Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (there is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog). "

So... I guess I earned this award honestly as M, who's known me over a decade, can attest - I'm one of those people that can talk to anybody... but what I've come to think that *really* means is that I *listen* to everybody. Whether it's the doctor's waiting room or in line at Target or in a group of friends, I just seem to have one of those faces that invites conversation - when I'm with someone, I'm paying attention and giving them my whole self. I am genuinely interested in other people and their stories, stories - I am fascinated by the life experiences of others...

My persuasive powers do tend along the lines of Roslyn Carter's steel magnolia reputation, as I grew up in Atlanta and still maintain a Southern drawl (one friend refers to my voice as mellifluous) - I'm easy-going and have a high tolerance for frustration, which makes some people (mistakenly) think doormat. I go out of my way to avoid conflict and attempt to accommodate everyone's way of thinking/doing... but when push comes to metaphorical shove, if I feel strongly about something, I have no trouble expressing my opinions and preferences - I believe this behavior traces back to growing up in an alcoholic household, where my father "accused" my mother of controlling everything/everyone. I didn't/don't want to be that so I lay low if the choice is immaterial to me - however, I *will* make a decision if no one else steps up!

Back to the power of schmoozing... I've always been a people person and, whether coordinating our elementary school PTA Cultural Arts Fair or organizing a crossing-state-lines-for-a-favorite-musical-artist road trip or booking a monthly concert series, I do believe I have the gift of encouraging people to "sign up" - I'd like to think it's not that I'm trying to sell the proverbial bridge or swampland, but because I'm enthusiastic about my passions... and how in the world could anyone resist and not be thrilled about being involved as well?!?

Come on, Just Do It - you know you want to (and the first one's free... :-)

P.S. My book choice not only fits the theme, but is also perfect because M turned me on to Elizabeth Berg's writing when we first met... <3

SONG: Talk to Me by Joni Mitchell

BOOK: Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg

POEM: What I Like and Don't Like by Philip Schultz

I like to say hello and goodbye.
I like to hug but not shake hands.
I prefer to wave or nod. I enjoy
the company of strangers pushed
together in elevators or subways.
I like talking to cab drivers
but not receptionists. I like
not knowing what to say.
I like talking to people I know
but care nothing about. I like
inviting anyone anywhere.
I like hearing my opinions
tumble out of my mouth
like toddlers tied together
while crossing the street,
trusting they won't be squashed
by fate. I like greeting-card clich├ęs
but not dressing up or down.
I like being appropriate
but not all the time.
I could continue with more examples
but I'd rather give too few
than too many. The thought
of no one listening anymore—
I like that least of all.

QUOTE: "When we talk about understanding, surely it takes place only when the mind listens completely - the mind being your heart, your nerves, your ears - when you give your whole attention to it." ~ J. Krishnamutri

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'm Lucky (Joan Armatrading)

Can't ignore Friday the 13th - I promise the Art of Southern Schmooze tomorrow, M... :-)

I've been a fan of Joan Armatrading's music for as long as I can remember - I have fond memories of driving around Carrollton, where we used to live, playing this cassette... and hearing my daughter S (now 25, then 2) chiming in from the backseat in her sweet, sing-song voice ("I lucky, I lucky, I lucky").

*I'm* the lucky one - always chaos, but very few complaints. I have my health, an almost 31-year marriage, three wonderful children, amazing friends, an enjoyable job, many passions (music, in all aspects, being first and foremost), fabulous weather and a jacuzzi in my backyard - to quote Gershwin, "who could ask for anything more?"... <3

POEM: Starfish by Eleanor Lerman

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who says, Last night,
the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?

There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.
And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave,
so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
were born at a good time. Because you were able
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.

QUOTE: "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Coconut Telegraph (Jimmy Buffett)

Lately I have been thinking strongly about my dear friend K who lives about an hour north of me, but who I only see about three or four times a year - we e-mail and we phone chat, but we both lead crazy, busy lives. I arrived home from work today to find a package from her... and inside the box was a delightful card and one of her famous coconut cakes... just because - how unbelievably sweet (pun semi-intended... :-)

I met K through the Dave-and-Tracy discussion list quite a few years back - she lived in Portland at the time (where Dave's music began to flourish) and then posted to the list she was moving to Florida to live with her boyfriend. I dropped her a note welcoming her to my state - we found/made occasions to connect. Dave Carter died the following year (more about this in my upcoming July 19 blog), a huge loss to the folk music community and to those who knew him, me somewhat and K very well. We vowed to get together annually on or near the anniversary of his death - this will be the fourth year we'll meet halfway, at a labyrinth in Delray Beach, to walk, meditate, reminisce, catch up and then go someplace to eat, drink and laugh. Dave would love this - actually, wherever he is, I am sure Dave *does* love this!

Naturally I've already cut into the cake and of course it's delicious... as well as testament to a strong friendship that has survived time, distance and tragedy - I am a lucky woman to have such special people in my life... <3

POEM: Coming Home ~ Mary Oliver

When we're driving, in the car,
on the long road
to Provincetown, which lies empty
for miles, when we're weary,
when the buildings
and the scrub pines lose
their familiar look,
I imagine us rising
from the speeding car,
I imagine us seeing
everything from another place—the top
of one of the pale dunes
or the deep and nameless
fields of the sea—
and what we see is the world
that cannot cherish us
but which we cherish,
and what we see is our life
moving like that,
along the dark edges
of everything—the headlights
like lanterns
sweeping the blackness—
believing in a thousand
fragile and unprovable things,
looking out for sorrow,
slowing down for happiness,
making all the right turns
right down to the thumping
barriers to the sea,
the swirling waves,
the narrow streets, the houses,
the past, the future,
the doorway that belongs
to you and me.

QUOTE: "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You, too? I thought I was the only one." " ~ C. S. Lewis