Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Cooper Two and the Ghost Town Blues

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
- John Muir

Peale, Pennsylvania

Corn::rows. Corn::rows. Corn::rows. Corn::rows. Picturesque view. Trees; rocks. Trees; rocks. Trees; rocks. Fields. Woods. Rolling hills. Picturesque view. 

There are a lot of great dirt roads to creep along on in my hometown vicinity. By that I don’t mean being a creeper in the creepy sense but rather a creeper in the Jeepy sense. Priscilla is my Jeep’s name, she’s a Patriot and she named herself. She’s been good to me so far, I try my best to be good to her. She’s white like a queen’s horse and basic like a bitch. She’s a 5-speed, she’s durable and she loves taking it slow. Dirt roads are the best, change my mind. There are quite a few to choose from around here. I usually do a Turkey Street scoot every day after getting the mail, a loop around Drain Lick perhaps. A short journey out to Sylvan Grove at times, there are some great trees out there. That’s all on Drifting side. There are several local haunts of interest for the slow traveler. When the boys fall asleep after I drop Celie off at school I just drive around back roads and let them sleep awhile lest I wake them up taking them inside. Sometimes I cut across Pearce Hollow. It’s cathartic and metaphoric, taking it slow. I get to gather my thoughts between the onslaught of noises and responsibilities that has become my life. I get “alone” time. Plus, I get one on one time. Me and Bob Dylan. Me and Tom Petty. Me and [Insert Artist Here]. Me and Podcasters. Me and the closest I can come to a near silence, filled only with the creaks of Priscilla’s bones and a slow, looped roll of rubber over dirt. Our din mimicking the antiquated sounds of a wobbly suspension on a carriage over dusty road, my white mare pulling me through the trees. There’s something wonderful about Jeep rides; not being covered in kids, listening to their cries or screams, a brief sliver of time without demands when they are restrained and harnessed and I am at the reins. I’m basically Aunt Bethany from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: “I love riding in cars!” I like it when I’m driving, anyway. Or when someone I trust is behind the wheel, then it’s a good time. I’ve been on a few hell rides in my life, though. Luckily, I’ve been on some terrific treks as well.  

All of October I drove around taking in the foliage. Daily, I would witness these trees changing before my eyes. It seems to happen so slowly until one day you realize you are looking at the skeletal limbs and trunk of an empty tree you had just watched go through a brilliant display of transition. Full of leaves and color, a moving portrait and then bam—a few wind storms and some rain, a little drop in temperature, and they are gone. Lost forever, fallen to rot at the tree’s base, becoming nutrients for the next season’s show. It’s a cool thing to witness and I am glad to live where we get a good view of the seasonal changes but it can make you sad. It's kind of tragically heartbreaking. Imagine if you didn't know whether or not spring would come. Do you think the trees know their leaves will return? It's hard to keep in mind that the sun will swing back when it starts to move away and leaves us in darkness. The transition of fall into winter can be a hard symbol for that. The cold sets in and you can feel it in your bones.

I used to let my friend Leslie drive me around while I wrote. She’d take the wheel of my Dodge Caliber and we’d go on an adventure through the trees, into the woods, or sometimes elsewhere. She epically drove me all the way to Memphis, Tennessee for my 35th birthday. She also drove me down into Kato, once, and until then I had never been. Kato is a ghost town in her neck of the woods, accessed through Snow Shoe. It also happens to be where my paternal Pap hails from. It’s literally “a town that no longer exists”; it’s just roads through trees and some big rocks and a bridge, I believe. On August 29, 2013 Leslie and I drove to multiple locations as my daughter napped in the back seat, similar to what I do alone now with the boys napping in the back of the Jeep. I, with my trusted red-at-the-time Life Liver's Log spiral notebook in hand (to represent the Muladhara chakra, no less) wrote a song of sorts that day, still a fetus, each verse, a stop on our travels. As simple of a thing as that was, those were some of the best times I’ve had. All I ever really needed was a witness. Leslie came around a lot right at a time when I needed it the most. The years we spent together as friends will always be some of my fondest and even though they were some of my hardest, they were also some of my most "veil-lifting" times. I was writing a lot of odes and sonnets at the time. Manically writing; wound up as my base state, I could unwind and decompress on our car rides. The trees would help ground me. We were just two air signs looking for some earth. We could bullshit somewhat as well while I wrote because I am apt to and adept at dividing focus and Leslie was someone that I felt comfortable with and trusted because she was as equally forthcoming with me as I was with her. For some reason we spoke to each other, mirrored each other...understood each other? Leslie accepted me as me, whoever that was. She also put up with a shit ton of pressured speeches from me. I am grateful for her ability to witness me and for her tolerance of my soliloquies  and lectures which would take place in between the writing. She knew that I often spoke the truth so she took it even when it hurt. She was truly Rock Star about not just simply kicking my ass, though, because she could have, but she loved me and I loved her. Abrasion often rides shotgun with Truth. It polishes by rubbing and it’s often the wrong way. I was just trying to help her out, but the truth is I wasn’t always right. Sometimes I was just mad. She also once told me that I was self-centered. She wasn’t wrong; I was in the midst of an extended episode at the time. I tend to get grandiose. I also am highly distractible and can frustrate people if they need or want my undivided attention. I’ve used her comment for self-reflection ever since, because it hurt, as quipped truths often do. I have since apologized for my abrasive bluntness, or being a bitch, or what have you, and I am grateful that I did have that opportunity. She, in turn, has handed me a few hard, grinding truths as well. Leslie was a real gem, a Dusty Diamond, to be exact. She was a muse. She was a friend. We shared a true kinship. People like that are extremely rare and precious, like jewels in the junkyard of life. This I know to be true, especially when you have trust issues. Diamonds in the rough are a little dusty but shiny and priceless when given a polish. I considered her to be in my innermost circle of trust, which, at the time, only really included my husband. I told her things that I have told no other human or animal. I think it was a divine symbiosis, a mutual decompression. She, likewise, shared a lot of her secrets with me. Our companionship was just what each of us needed at the time. It was also one of the best gifts that she ever gave me and I am grateful for that. She made a real difference in my life. 

Heading back from the dust to the dirt, it’s a privilege to have so many dirt roads to take it slow and decompress on. Grassflat and Drifting are almost like sister villages, nestled on the mountaintop. I spent a bit of time there as a kid. My brother and I would ride with my father through Cooper Two to get there; it’s a dirt road that connects them named after the old Cooper Two coal mine. I’ve traveled this road many times in my youth but not as often as of late. These past months I’ve expanded the stretch of my local drives. I found Cooper Two surreally different because I always, for some reason, expect my childhood  ride home. That Cooper Two is long gone. So is that Grassflat and that Drifting for that matter. Last month during my foliage rides I moseyed out to Peale, which is connected to Grassflat but it also, in a haunting way, no longer exists. Oddly enough, Peale is the ghost town from my neck of the woods, like the mountaintop Kato. I hadn’t been down to Peale since April of this year, when I was still pregnant with Otis. People go to Peale for many reasons, mostly recreational now. The Red Mo race launches from there, of course. Four wheelers have access to Gorton through the tunnel and out to the Viaduct bridge through Peale. I used to ride out on 4 wheelers with my brother when we were kids looking for old bottles on the hillsides, pulling them out from underneath the layers of dead leaves and sediment like we were digging back in time. We found some pretty neat ones. People have camped, drove, rode, walked, and boated in Peale. Some people just come for the spirits, or in an attempt to lift or find theirs. Peale is almost a local Mecca, a local haunt for self-seeking and escape: holy ground. 

Peale, Pennsylvania was an old mining town founded in the late 1800s when the Beech Creek Railroad line was the main way into places. It once held near 2,500 people that relied on the coal mines or railroad for their bread and butter. It was owned by the coal company. After the town diminished with the active train line and mines, people slowly dispersed, some moving up into Grassflat. Several houses as well as a church are in Grassflat now that were from Peale. There were only two camps left in Peale when I was young and now there is only one, as well as a garage structure. One camp was burnt down years ago and it still makes me sickeningly sad. Only one real structure remains and the foundations of some things but you can walk out to look for the lone grave of Martha Renfrew, the only marked grave left in the Oakwood Cemetery. She was aged 14 years, 11 months by the inscription on her tombstone. This was all so fascinating as a kid. At some point, somebody put up a sign to mark the Oakwood Cemetery. I can remember this and it doesn’t seem that long ago but now the words on the sign have since been destroyed and nothing remains  aside from the side posts and a few small boards that a dark piece of fabric is tied to. The changes that this land has gone through during my lifetime alone are phenomenal. To think back farther to when it was a bustling hillside community of over 2,000 is about enough to blow your mind. 

Although not from the bustling Peale days, one structure has remained for at least my entire lifetime, and that’s the bridge, however it is really starting to show its age. Anyone local who’s anyone local has some memory of this bridge and probably that big crack in the side that seems so much bigger than I remember it being  every time I see it. But it’s a reminder that bridges will eventually crumble. Rebar protrudes from the cracking concrete, a strong skeleton that will only keep the bridge together so long. Time wears on everything; everything eventually turns to dust. I’d spent the past two months watching the leaves fall and transition, thinking of how many changes I have endured during my short lifetime alone and how many more await me. 
And so there I sat on the Peale bridge at the reins of Priscilla pondering the past with one too many ghosts riding shotgun. We try to reach back with our minds, like I dug with my brother into the dirt, excavating for any unbroken remnant to hold in our hands. Our shined up, dirt-plucked vessel can be a wonderful memento and it will even hold water but it’s place is in the past and therefore it’s a relic. 

Peale looks entirely different today than it did as a kid. The drive across Cooper Two is the same way. Entire hillsides are cleared. Peale Camp has burnt down. So many trees are gone. The landscape is drastically different and it hollows it out, making it seem less of a shelter but more of a marvel, because it opens up the hillsides to the expanse of trees and better shows the distance from here to there. You can get a glimpse of the forest through the trees now. It all seems so far away. Going to a ghost town is akin to visiting a graveyard.  Lost in time, a fog from long ago settles over your  mind. These hills used to be filled with homes, people, families...life. My gram’s sister lived in one of the last houses out here. Some were moved board by board to be reassembled in Grassflat. The church was moved. Peale was a once bustling country town set up with all the trappings of a city and is now a quiet place of refuge and recreation. The Red Moshannon has brought its race crowds, though, time has been unwinding here for decades, the mines still bleed into her beds and mark the creek with their rusted blood. Enjoy her splendor but don’t drink the water. 

The lines from the Day Song seem even more pertinent today, as well as my embryonic Dusty Diamond lines, in a ghostly way: "All alone with those inner demons...where's it hurtin' tonight girl?" In an attempt to understand the present we try to reach back into the past with our minds but the past will never come back to you. We remain haunted like these towns are by the specter of the past. But maybe it can be a friendly ghost? 

Verse 1:
I went to an old house sitting out in a field.
My body was shaking, my spirit was thrilled. 
Empty without the life that we bring.
Silent without the songs that we sing. 

Oh, but it’s still standing. 
And I think it always will. 

Verse 2:
I went to a town that no longer exists.
I give into whatever my spirit insists. 
Once upon a time, maybe we were trees.
Twin oaks, side by side, all in a dream.

Oh, but we’re still standing.
And I feel we always will. 

Verse 3: 
I went to a church that holds no services.
My spirit is pious, despite its perverseness. 
Echoes throughout with the sound of silence.
No evil, no anger, no hate, and no violence. 

Oh, and it’s still standing. 
And I believe it always will. 

Verse 4:
I went to the hilltop and gazed at the mountains. 
The clouds were rollin’ and my spirit was shoutin’. 
Open expanse of trees and sky; 
Will your memory never die? 

Oh, no, it’s still standing,
And I know it always will. 

On my way home I came to the crossroads,
I took a wrong turn into one of my episodes.
I got stuck in the mud, shed a little blood.
I’ve been having these visions for years,
Wiping tears through the forest of fears,
And I’m headin’ home the hard way. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

“Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say.
Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away.”
 ~ John Heywood, 1546 AD

I fall down a lot of rabbit holes through my days. I have a highly distractable mind and I follow a lot of thoughts away from the party and into the woods. It can be a problem but I do explore ideas and concepts and learn a lot of new things because of it, so, all in a day. 

Recently, in exploring quotes and sayings about hay because of some photos I had taken, drawn to and interested in local hay bales because visually I think they are like giant fields of Shredded Wheat, I discovered this gem about making hay: Make hay while the sun shines. The saying apparently originally appears in John Haywood’s “A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue” dated 1546, although it is thought to have originated much earlier from Tudor farmers of Europe. The saying warns farmers to make their hay while the sun is shining. It is about taking advantage of an opportunity while the opportunity still presents itself. 

In Tudor England farmers didn’t have the technology that they have today to determine the weather. The best they had was “red sky at night” to help them decide. So, they had to get it whilst the getting was good, you could say. If they waited another day to make their hay they could risk it raining and ruining their harvest and the growing season would have all been for naught. This was a pretty big deal. That’s where this Proverb came in. While it was sunny and the conditions were good it was best to make the hay lest they lose the opportunity. They said this so often to remind themselves and others that it became a verbal chunk of wisdom you handed out and repeated, passing on the knowledge for posterity and, let’s face it back then, survival. Think of how important hay was back on Tudor farms when animals were relied on even moreso than they are now.  Getting your hay made was akin to getting your business done.

This saying struck me when I found it. I thought it was neat. As far as I could recollect I had never heard it before. I wondered why, after years and years of these hay bales. There are cornfields and fields of grasses galore where I’m from and I’m still here. I’ve been driving these roads since I was a kid, literally. I rode plenty a dirt road atop a cooler or in the back of a pickup. Suffice it to say I’ve seen a bale of hay or two. I remember my dad parking us on the side of the road to go out into a field and climbing up on one when I was young. Being placed on one, perhaps? Hay bales were huge as a kid, they’re fairly big to an adult but as a kid they are giant things. It felt like you were on the top of the world as a kid, sitting on a hay bale. Or at least like you were riding a horse or some other mythical creature made of grasses. It was fun and my dad knew how to have fun because he also followed ideas and thoughts away from the party and literally into the woods. He could be rather impulsive and curious; we never knew what we’d be doing. Sometimes we rode hay bales. 

Fields and fields of hay made by local farmers, we drive by it all the time. Shredded wheat, it resembles, I’ve often thought; if I were to make a diorama of a farm I think I would use Shredded Wheat as hay bales. Frosted Mini Wheats for winter scenes. Sometimes they wrap them in white plastic. This makes them look like fields of puffy marshmallows. Marshmallows would be great in a diorama too. I digress. 

I pondered this advice in my own life, for there are times that I have left my hay to rot in the field and wasted a perfectly fine harvest. Motherhood is teaching me to weed out what isn’t necessary and boil down what I need into a condensed stock of wants and wishes. I reckon that's a fancy way to say prioritize. Adding a third kid has lit yet another fire under my ass. If you want to be a breeder and a creative you need to learn to make your hay when the sun shines, get it while you can and move like you stole it. Conditions are never right for long. If you don’t move on something when the opportunity is there chances are you’re going to miss it. This sounds like a call to impulsiveness but it’s not. Much of life is about timing and yet it’s hard to tell when the time is right for anything. I am never going to have uninterrupted large chunks of time to write or create or do anything that restores me but I desperately need to do those things or I do not function properly, my soul begins to feel imprisoned. I need to take full advantage of opportunity, however elusive it may be, if I don’t want to lose myself in motherhood. This is a call to seize the opportunities that present themselves while the getting is good, whether that’s a job change, or a creative endeavor or simply getting anything done with 3 children in tow. It’s about getting your business done, finishing what you set out to do lest you not be able to finish it at all and sometimes just riding those hay bales.

A field of frosted mini-wheats this morning.

Monday, November 11, 2019

My Favorite Veteran: The Man I Call Pap

Happy Veterans Day to all of the veterans who have served our country. My favorite veteran, if one had to choose such a thing, would be my late paternal grandfather, Joseph Veneziano. He was born in a small village that is now a ghost town, as in it no longer exists. He didn't have a middle name. He was simply "Joe” to many folks and Pap to the lucky ones. 

When my grandfather died I remember my father saying that he had forgotten to thank him for his service in the military, he had believed he never did. They talked a lot, about many things and a lot about his time in the service. He may have even thanked him and just didn't realize it, but regardless, Dad was disappointed he never thanked him proper for that. I'm sure it was understood, but you often like to express things directly when given the chance but sadly often you miss that chance. I stopped at my grandparents’ grave this morning to pay my respects and I'm sending out a thank you to Pap on this Veterans Day as well as to my aunt, uncles, cousins and friends who have all served. Thank you. 

We lost Pap in October of 2012 and it's still weird not having him around. It took me awhile to get used to not seeing him going down the road from time to time as he was prone to do, still doing errands and what not near up to the end of his days. Still getting used to not visiting the house too. He lived 93 years. Had black lung. Had already had 3 heart attacks in his life before the one that took him, I believe. He was an amazing man, he really didn't stop. I think that was actually his secret. He was working on projects up until the end. Mending wheel barrels, fixing lawn mowers, whatever he found to tinker on in his garage. 

His garage is a wonderful thing. It’s all patchworked together with scrap pieces of wood that he had in some places, but it's not ridiculous at all, it's quite the spacious and enduring structure. He lived through the depression so he didn't throw stuff away. He saved all kinds of things and would use them in anything he was making or fixing. He wasn't what you would necessarily call a hoarder, though. He used the things and kept things fairly in order. Somewhat. There was just so much stuff. When you’ve gone without, though, you can find value in almost anything.

Pap was somewhat of a quiet man. He loved to talk about current politics, though, or tell old stories of his younger days if you asked. He watched The Young and the Restless for as long as I can remember. If you got him talking he’d tell you all kinds of stories from the places he’d been during his life. He had a quiet disposition about him though, going about his day. I spent a bit of time with him when I was a kid while he was working on the house him and my gram moved into for the last part of their lives. He used to keep a 3 gallon soda bottle filled with water on the steps and I remember drinking from it, how you could still taste the lingering flavor of generic soda. It seemed like he worked on that house all of my childhood. He did an admirable job of remodeling that place, I can remember it slightly from when they started, and there are pictures of it sitting back behind my parents' house long before that. It was an old house that a distant family member of my grandmother's had lived in at one point long ago. They raised all of their children only a mile away in another house but moved into the new house a bit after their last daughter left the nest. That's where they spent their golden years together. Lucky me, it was right in my back yard. I often curse myself for not visiting them more when I had the chance, but what did I know, I was a foolish kid. I still visited and saw them a bit, but you always wish you had done more after people are gone even when you did enough.

Pap was an important influence in my life, one of my biggest male role models, which are also important for little girls. Pap was retired by the time I came around so he mostly was just working on the house all of the time. Even after he was done working he wasn't done working. He never worked for as long as I could remember but he always seemed to be working on something, if you know what I mean. 

Back when he was sick in February of 2012 he stayed in the hospital briefly and I was at home with Celie, couldn't make it out and my parents had gone to see him or something, I believe. I had wanted to go but had Celie and it would have been hard, so instead I decided to put my attention and focus onto my grandfather and I sat down and penned a tune. It's playable, it's a neonate if you know my filing system; I'm still swaddling it, but suffice it to say it's a song. There are a few embellishments for the form but it’s about 99% biographical. Even though he never heard it or knew it existed it makes me happy that I wrote it while he was still alive; it was originally written in more present tense. When Pap died later that year, during the viewing and funeral this song was playing on a loop in my head. I could hear myself singing it, and that's all I could hear as I witnessed my father solemnly watching as his own father was lowered into the ground. Laid to rest after 93 years of a busy and fruitful life. Thank you for your service, Pap. 

Born in a town that no longer exists,
A man came forth somewhere in the midst,
Heart so strong, it must’ve been steel. 
A poor man so rich it doesn’t seem real.

Listen up here: you wanna know where it’s at?
I’ll tell you a story ‘bout the man I call “Pap”.

Pap caught fish, sold ‘em to the man. 
Just a boy when daddy said to do what you can. 
“Son, poor ain’t nothing but a frame of mind.” 
Gonna make himself a fortune all in due time.

Black lungs and a triple tempered heart,
Pap served his life by playing his part.
Strength showin’ through in every slow step,
Gifting us with each one of his breaths. 

Pap traveled the world, explored foreign lands,
Gaining skills, learning the art of his hands.
Work in the West and war in the East,
Building things up to get bombed by the Beast.

Pap met a girl, her daddy sold ‘em feed.
Letters during the war were just what he’d need. 
From friendship grew love, and they settled down. 
He farmed, raised a family, and mined this ol’ town.

Pap worked the mines most his livin’ years,
Forging a life with his blood, sweat, and tears.
The dust got his lungs but couldn’t get his heart. 
Aged with love, a faithful man plays his part.

Pap worked the farm, sowing all the rows,
Every season, every harvest, you know how it goes.
Tended to his garden, clearing the weeds.
Some earth and the will are all a man needs. 

Pap prayed to God, sat in the first pew,
Every Sunday, all the while his family grew.
Crafted 9 lives, and he raised ‘em up right.
He taught ‘em how to stand and fight the right fight.

Pap raised a family, he provided so well,
How he really did it ain’t so hard to tell.
Faith, hope, and love; a good bit of the word. 
A loving wife and a family, a fortune from the Lord. 

We’re all in your face, in your eyes, in your lips,
We’re in your heart and your hands, your fingertips.
Gratefully letting your legacy grow. 
Strength is found reaping what we sow. 

(February 26, 2012)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Laughing Through the Flames Together

Parenting is a lot of things. It’s an honor, it’s a blessing, it’s a privilege and it’s also a job. Parenthood can either be the most joyous time of your life or a living hell from which there is no escape. Honestly, even though we are encouraged and expected to “cherish every moment” the hard truth is that parenting is often both. Parenthood is the hardest job anyone will ever have...except for maybe that guy that gets his heart ripped out by Mola Ram and is lowered down into the firey pit on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They aren’t without their similarities, anyway: High pressure. Sacrifice. Rip your heart out. In a cage descending into fire. Very hot. It burns!  

Okay, it’s not all that bad but it helps at times to keep things as light as possible and to not take it too seriously...even though you need to because you are single-handedly making choices that are in part forming your beloved children’s personalities that they will then be at the mercy of forever...and even though they will go forth with these personalities into the world either to make it or break it. Kiiind of totally a huge deal. But don’t worry. No pressure. “Kali maa shakti de!!” 

What could be harder than parenting? Single-parenting, obviously, would take about a thousand cakes on that one. But actually sometimes, albeit to a much lesser degree, it can also be co-parenting. Parenting is hard in general to wrap your will around but meeting another person on the same page who has their own preconceived notions of what parenting is or should be and staying on the same page when it comes to your beliefs on raising children and consistently standing by said beliefs in the face of distraction and frustration…two different heads of the same snarling beast and they both chew your face off. My husband and I can agree that this is often really shitty. Call a spade a spade. We both can also agree, however, that it is the best thing to ever happen to us so where do we meet in the middle of this? That’s the million dollar question. That’s also where the continual relationship work resides. It’s no laughing matter...except for when it is. 

This past weekend my husband and I were jokingly talking about our day, and he had an errand to run. I had the baby on the boob and the other two were being their loud and annoying selves because yes, kids are often loud and annoying no matter how many times you post their pictures on social media decreeing them your angels and your everything. I said, “You guys should go with your father,” giving him an eye and a Cheshire Cat beam. We knew I was mostly joking. His face visibly sunk in an exaggeration of protest because everyone knows it takes twice as long to do any errand with kids in tow, and he said, in a wailing womanly voice: “You haate me!” We laughed. Humor is often your saving grace. It’s also wonderful when our daughter chalks up everything that goes over her head to “adult comedy” as she calls it. We’re not entirely proud but this is where we find ourselves. Parents make jokes because you either laugh or you’ll cry. 

Later that day, after earlier having discussed how his truck has gotten him over 100,000 miles, he said how he had to go out to work on it for awhile. I teasingly accuse him: 

“You know, you’re truck hasn’t needed anything big but you SURE do work on it a lot? What are you sabotaging shit just to get out there and get away from us? ‘OOoh NOOOOoOOO my BRAKE line broke, I better get out there and FIX that today for sure!!’ Is that how it is? ...’Cause that’s what I’d be doing.”

Again, we laughed. Humor through parenthood is like saying that the knife wound in your side kinda looks like a face. It’s simultaneously both denial and complete and total acceptance. We started doing impressions of him taking out his brake lines and other truck parts because they really did go out recently and it does seem he is perpetually working on his truck during his brief time at home. It’s seemingly never ending; duties and projects drag on into a balmy eternity. Everything moves like chilled molasses because there is never enough time in a weekend. It’s funny because the poor guy is actually out there as I write this working on it again. This weekend it’s universal joints. Lucky bastard. It’s funny because it’s not funny. At least we have humor. 

I think if you can laugh together you have a lot to work with. If you can’t make each other laugh, then it’s going to be a hard road for you because it can get a tad rocky and you’re going to feel every bump and stone. If you’re laughing you kinda just roll over the top of some of them and it doesn’t seem like such a bumpy ride even if your shocks are shot. Who you have as a co-pilot traveling with you as your partner in crime on the road of parenthood matters a lot. It helps if you get along with your celly. Your partner ultimately helps to determine how bumpy the ride will be and even when you have a good one the struggle is still real. Parenthood is where relationships go to train for the UFC; it will either make your marriage stronger or take it down blow by blow. 

That poor bastard in the basket on Indiana Jones didn't survive the destructive flames in the pit. He evaporated. Kali needed her sacrifice. It all seems so gruesome. We can just say he represents your egoic parts that need to surrender to the sacrifice. In Hinduism, Kali is the goddess of death and destruction. In her earlier depictions she is often a crone with red eyes, holding weapons and severed heads, with black skin and protruding tongue, a real bad bitch. Westerners generally view her as evil because of her form and requirements of destruction and human sacrifice. But in her complexity, she is a dualistic goddess, in her later Kali Ma form she is also a symbol of Mother Nature, nurturing and benevolent. Kali is like the transformative power of tough love, your darkness transmuted. When we are breaking apart from circumstance and heading into darkness that is Kali, but when we are fitting the pieces back together and finding our light, that is also Mother Kali. From my understanding, that is. Maybe you can see where I’m heading with this metaphor. 

Dealing with the stresses of parenthood together exposes you to each other’s deepest wounds. If there is anything ugly in your core kids will pull that dark shit right out of you and cover it in glitter and boogers before shoving it directly and repeatedly into your frame of view. “Look! LOOK! Do you see this?!” Kids are Mola Ram invoking the power of Kali to tear into your chest and hold your still-beating heart in front of your face before sacrificing your ego in a pit of flames. In short: kids’ll fuck you up. You need a strong resolve to survive the destruction of the goddess Kali. It requires a tight connection, a sturdy bond to hold your relationship together in the fire as the flesh of your old selves is seared away in sacrifice. Parenthood is some serious shit. It burns a good bit but as with much of life, it helps to laugh. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Autumn’s Delight

I embrace the air and let it embrace me, 
Wrapped up in my hair like the leaves on the trees. 

Stirring me gently, like honey into tea.
Rolling my thoughts like the waves in the sea. 

Slipping inside me at moments with its chills.
Seducing me gently like a luring lover thrills.

Thoroughly caressing my skin through my clothes, 
I deeply inhale its essence through my nose. 

The leaves, they are falling, discarded from limbs. 
Through air they are floating and riding on whims. 

As the trees shed their colors, I am thrilled by the sight,
Of the ground being covered by Autumn’s delight. 

November 4, 2014

Saturday, October 26, 2019

EBF Sonnet

So soon to wake after a night time rest? 
Soft cries alert my ears that you must feed. 
I pull you once again onto my breast. 
I answer every want and every need. 

With forlorn eyes I gaze upon your face. 
Your baby blues, two pools of water, still. 
To care for you I need a sense of grace. 
To breastfeed requires an iron will. 

A mother’s milk supply is on demand.
Her baby takes all that her body gives. 
At beck and call; “Your wish is my command!”
On this sole sustenance her nursling lives. 

I sacrifice my peace of mind and rest;
For in my heart I know that breast is best. 

#shakespeareansonnet #poetry #forfunsies 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Length of the Rainbow Bridge

Over two years ago now, on Saturday, May 20th 2017, we had to make the hard decision to put our buddy Buster to sleep, our beloved boxer mix dog, our family companion and friend. I haven't posted anything about it online yet even though it was awhile ago now. I wrote up most of a blog awhile back but then never finished or posted. A year after I still had his Pill Pockets in the closet and a bin of his supplements stuffed in a bottom cabinet. I'm not entirely sure why it is that I didn't post anything about it, perhaps because it was a difficult phase and decision for our family to deal with and make. Maybe I was too emotional at the time for the outreach, I don't know. I also had just given birth to our second child at the time. It was a time of transition for our family, but we have had some time to deal. Celie and I had a chat about him awhile back and we decided that we "don't feel horrible anymore" so I'm ready to post about it I reckon. Now, two years after she has started to ask about getting another dog. While I am not ready for that step quite yet, and am also currently preoccupied with now gearing up to have our third child, I suppose I could at the very least finish up the blog post. 

On August 4th, 2016 Buster was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer after we took him to the vet for a swollen neck and a persistent hacking cough. They delivered the sad news and I knew I had to reframe it for Celie somehow. She was just 6 at the time. It was also only around a week before we found out that I was pregnant with Jasper. We were excited to be having another baby but simultaneously sad for the impending loss we had ahead of us. The vet told us that dogs usually only live 4 to 6 weeks after diagnosis so we had to tell Celie something because we didn’t think we had much time. We were obviously heartbroken and were not looking forward to saying goodbye to him so soon, but I made the choice to tell Celie up front and talk to her about it through it all because I thought that he would die or that we would need to decide to put him to sleep within a month or so. Being 6  years old at the time, I felt that it would be good for her to be told up front in an age appropriate way. I immediately bought her All Dogs Go to Heaven and did my best to explain cancer to her and what was happening, also so that she would be aware that he wasn't feeling well and would act accordingly because we had no idea what was ahead of us. It forced me to break down death to a child's level while simultaneously reexploring my own thoughts and beliefs. It was painful, sad, and vulnerable, but in the end I am grateful that I had the opportunity to explain it to her using a dog companion first instead of a human one, as it was her first rememberable experience with death at the time. 

I am grateful for the pure love that Celie and Buster shared. We already had Buster when she was born so Celie was raised alongside her furry friend. “Buster” was even her first word. He was her four-legged older brother and he was so patient and gentle with her, despite her high energy. For that I will also forever be grateful. If he was a mean tempered dog, it could have been a bad experience but he seemed to understand that she was a tiny people, one of us, and very dear to us, never doing anything overtly aggressive unless in a defensive manner and having a great way of judging how gentle he needed to be with her. It helps to keep in mind that it was special for her to have a good connection with a dog so early and this was a gift in itself. It still hurt like hell and was one of the most heartbreaking things to witness and have to explain to her, given her mix of emotional reactions through it all especially because it ended up taking much longer than the vet initially told us.

I, of course, not wanting to accept the death sentence even in my adult mind, initially Googled my fingers off about dog lymphoma and things. I frantically considered chemotherapy briefly, read up on that. Decided against it. We purchased supplements and ebooks on dealing with canine cancer. I started him on a mixture of vitamins and things. Most notably we switched his dry dog food to grain free Blue Wilderness. Ultimately, though, his lymph nodes continued to swell and eventually he was hacking and could no longer eat the dry dog food. About a month after diagnosis he wasn't in the best shape, but he was still here. The swelling in the lymph nodes in this chest and throat eventually became so significant, though, affecting his ability to eat, that we decided to put him on prednisone to see if it would shrink them and give him some relief. This is basically the first line of cancer treatment with dogs anyway. Luckily it worked, the swelling went down, he was able to eat better again, and he just kept going. 

I had planned on making him his own homemade dog food from recipes I found on the internet in canine cancer support groups and the ebooks that I got, but in the end we just switched to Blue Wilderness canned food for the most part, mixing it with the grain free dried kibble. He seemed to love most kinds, he was hungry because of the prednisone so at least he kept eating. We were fortunate to be able to afford it because grain free dog food is so much more expensive and it added up! I switched up kinds when they were on sale but stuck to grain free, high protein. Merrick’s was a brand he liked a lot also and some of it honestly looked so good I would have eaten it! All through my pregnancy we were in this limbo state where we gave him his medication and bought him his special food, every week we repeated the drill and it somewhat stayed the same. I called in and refilled his prescription at the vet so many times. I broke his pills in half and put them into chunks of Fresh Pet loaves. All the while he slowly got worse but still remained basically Buster, playful and social with a happy tail. 

We switched him to a completely grain free diet when he was diagnosed and I attribute this to most of the bonus time that we got with him. Aside from his diet, we also refrained from giving him any table scraps unless it was a pure protein or fat source like meat or something. He lived quite a few fairly active months after diagnosis, fetching tennis balls a month or so in and even playing tug of war with Celie close to only a month before the end, but he slowly got worse, though, and the cancer ultimately took over his body. In the end it was in his stomach, which became swollen, and in his skin that started to harden and peel although it didn’t seem to bother him. He was uncomfortable but didn't seem to be in significant pain. I continued the supplements that I had read showed the most results in other dogs with cancer. In the end I still feel like I failed him, not trying aggressively enough with the supplements or not making him his own homemade food or not doing this that or the other. But who is to say Colloidal Silver would have done anything? If I had tried crazy baking soda treatments I could have sent him into heart failure. I wasn’t sure of anything, but my mind was awash with all of the things I had read or ever heard that could fight cancer, this invasive beast that had killed so many family members. Now it was taking the best dog I had ever had who was the equivalent of a human only in their 50s, no where near done with life with still so much love to give. Son of a bitch. 

Seemingly selfishly lost in my own depression at the time and dealing with my pregnancy, I feel like I wasn’t able to give him my all.  While that was true with everything else happening, I know that it is also true that I did try my best to keep him as healthy and comfortable as possible through it all. I believe it got us a good amount of extra time, the equivalent of a human living for 5 more years after diagnosis versus the 1 year sentence they were given.  That’s fairly significant considering most of those months were decent months.

I remember nights of me putting my legs up to ease my swollen feet. I would grunt and rub my swollen belly and he would grunt as well as he rolled onto his swollen belly. In my limited positioning, he would snuggle his face into my toes and I would rub the side of his head with my foot as we gazed into each other's eyes in an understanding misery, only mine was temporary and self-induced, the creation of life, while his was an unfair sentence that would take him from this place, the slow destruction of life. He held on and watched me grow our new baby, though, almost like he wanted to see the family unit completed to where it was advancing to before he left. He wouldn't give up the happy tail and seemed only in mild to moderate pain. After 8 and a half months, though, his front legs began to swell. We had all of this time with him to prepare for our goodbye and in the end it didn’t seem long enough. 

At one point one of the tumors on his side burst open and he needed a vet visit. She said she thought it was a cat bite or something like that, but I knew it was one of the growths he had on his side that must have broken open some how, or he dug it open himself. It was squirting blood, regardless of how it happened. We thought that was the end but we bandaged and tended to it, covering his dressing with pet sweaters to keep it in place...and he continued. When his legs started to swell and his one front paw seemed as though he had punctured it on something simply from the pressure of the fluid, we once again thought it was the end. We took him into the vet again and they said it was most likely the beginning of the end and this vet was actually so surprised that he had such a happy tail and was in such good spirits. We got him on an antibiotic to help with the swelling, and it did take it down temporarily. Because of the antibiotic we got around one more month after that point, but it was apparent that the stubborn old boy wasn't going to go on his own laying out in the sun one morning like we selfishly hoped would happen. After the course of the antibiotics he started to go downhill pretty fast.

He had taken to standing instead of laying down, we are unsure if it was because it hurt his stomach to lay on it or what, but it was a weird stage. At first we thought that it was just the pain pill we had been giving to him at the end to keep him more comfortable but he seemed to be slipping out of consciousness while standing in the yard, almost dropping to the ground at times like someone falling asleep and then catching themselves. This is when we made the decision. He had taken to nodding out standing up in between lucid moments of happy tail interaction, but he looked in your eyes like he knew something big had changed. He sat out in the yard in different spots just looking around the grounds, like he was becoming aware of something we were missing. He was a mere 9 years old, only 57 in dog years, but in those moments he looked to be well over 100 in dog wisdom. Something was changing and we knew it was time, but it took us a good day to accept our responsibility. Nobody wants to put their dog to sleep. Nobody. The only reason we "want" to do it is to ease their suffering because there comes a time when our responsibility to them is to take their life, to show them mercy. There is a lot of guilt involved in trying to make the right decision when the time comes, a lot of dilemma over when the time is right and I think we did good by our boy. In the end, I think he'd understand we were trying to give him the most life that we could without allowing him to suffer unnecessarily. 

The day we knew it was time, Celie had left for school and I was having a chat with Buster in the yard. He gave me the look. I didn't want to accept it, I sent Celie to school that morning half knowing. The dilemma was then that it was a Friday and I didn't want to put him to sleep while she was in school so that she wouldn't get to say goodbye and know he would be gone when she got home. He seemed to be okay with it. I wished there was an at home service in our area for pet euthanasia, but there isn't. So we kept him that one last night so that Celie could say her goodbyes and wouldn't be jarred with him just being gone. So Buster got one last night at the ranch and that next morning as he sat in the yard in his drowsy state in what had become his favorite spot I watched from the window as my husband walked Celie over to tell him goodbye before he took her to my parents’ house. I will never forget his reaction to her approach, snapping out of it and immediately going into his happy tail and walking up to her. He was running on pure love at that point. I believe he knew he was going to die, or at least knew that something was up, but he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to leave us, but regardless of all feelings from all parties involved it was time to say goodbye. 

We had to travel to Mezger's in State College because of our decision, because our normal vet was closed on Saturdays and we didn’t want to make him wait until Monday, fearing he was experiencing a lot of pain. I had asked my mother to watch Celie for us, but Jasper was only 2 months old at the time and was still nursing so he had to come along. When we got there, the vet on call had an emergency surgery he was in. We were preparing to put him to sleep in the back of our Jeep in the parking lot so that we could avoid any added stress on him by taking him inside a weird and scary place in his state. Two nurses came out to put an IV into his paw as I nursed Jasper in the back seat. They said it would only be a little bit of a wait. We spent the time crying and loving on Buster in the back of the Jeep with the back hatch up in the parking lot. I bounced and held Jasper all the while in one arm while petting Buster with the other. 

At one point a stranger approached us in what was an odd interaction. In retrospect, I imagine she saw us upset and was just moved to do anything to help. She came up to us and asked if we were putting a friend to sleep that day, which was pretty obvious, I guess. She asked if there was anything she could do, offering to take a picture of us. In my surprise at forced conversation at such an upsetting time I almost told her to get lost then paused and thought she surely must have just wanted to offer anything she could. Given his state and appearance, though, it seemed like a weird request, but I did give her my phone and let her take one last picture of the four of us in the Metzger’s parking lot. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first, but in the end decided on appreciative. It was a kind act of a total stranger and a final documentation of our sad time. 

By the time the vet was out of surgery and able to put him to sleep we had waited going on two hours. We had waited so long for his transition that when it was finally happening it was surreal how quickly it was over. He wouldn’t lay down so he was sitting up as it was done. The vet, my husband and myself positioned ourselves to catch him. I lovingly rubbed his furry face. The vet did the first injection and then with the second his head immediately dropped into my hand and we all caught him as he fell, gently letting him settle onto the blanket we had placed under him. Buster Buddy was finally resting. I cried and stroked his snout and we both pet him, apologizing. I think that the vet felt bad for us having to wait so long and with a baby in tow and all. He said Buster seemed like he was a really nice dog. I agreed, through my tears, that he was the best we had ever had and he was so great with our kids. He apologized for us having to wait and to our surprise said he would give us the euthanization free of charge. We thanked him heartily. 

The ride home was sad and the wrap up was bittersweet upon our return. We were happy to know he wasn’t suffering but had to make him a box, dig him a hole, and help Celie process her big feels. We saw her through the curious touching of his lifeless body. We witnessed her raw reactions, at one point screaming his name up into the sky like some dramatic scene from a movie. We felt his soft floppy ears, his favorite part to be rubbed during life. He would always push his head against your hand and grunt and groan with pleasure as you gave him a good ear scratch. One last stroke before we covered him up, burying him with his favorite squeaky duck toy and some tennis balls. We chose a spot under the hemlocks where he would always lay and bask himself in the morning sun. We could see him from both the kitchen and living room windows there. 

In the end, it was our duty to help Buster transition as comfortably as possible. We grant them that act of mercy despite our qualms, guilt and personal pain. It’s the least we can do. It will always make me sad that he didn’t live a longer life but he had just made it to his 9th birthday in February and we ultimately gave him a pretty happy life. He had survived having Lyme disease as well as anoplasmosis a few years back and had outlived his cancer prognosis by a significant amount of bonus time. His diagnosis led to a longer walk across the rainbow bridge than we initially anticipated, but I like to think he would understand that the choices we made were made out of love and compassion. Him was a good boy. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Just a Blog After the Show

Graham Nash
Whitaker Center, Harrisburg, PA
March 13, 2019

When I was around 10 years old or so, on television at the time they were using Teach Your Children in a commercial for something or other.  I immediately loved it and latched onto that song, asking my mother who sang it, wanting it on cassette tape. It had spoken to me...because it was timeless and it says a lot, even in part in a commercial. And so I received my first CSN album for my birthday that year. I honestly can’t even remember if it was CSN or CSN&Y or Deja Vu or a Greatest Hits? Regardless, it had Teach Your Children as well as Our House on it, and it was a hell of a good start. 

My mother also listened to The Hollies a bit, so I was also exposed to that good stuff as a kid. The commonality, of course, being Graham Nash, a vital harmony in both bands and the one who penned the song that grabbed me in my youth. I loved their harmonies. Not enough can really be said about good harmony. Some groups have such distinct harmonies, they’re almost familial and their combined tone serves as a stand out voice in and of itself. The Beatles, The Mamas and the Papas, The Beach Boys, etc....Crosby, Stills, & Nash. It’s a wonderful thing.

So, this Christmas I needed a gift for my mother and nothing is better than a concert experience in her book; I stumbled across Graham Nash’s tour and found a small venue in Harrisburg where he would be performing and jumped on some tickets for her and myself. I am currently pregnant with my third child but at the time figured I wouldn’t be too pregnant to go by the time of the concert, so it was a doable wait. I saw he had been playing Hollies songs and classic CSNand/orY as well as his solo work during concerts, so it would be exciting to share that with my mother and I was sure she would enjoy it. Music is the gift that keeps on giving! 

I had never been to this venue in Harrisburg before, The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. Overall, it was fairly easy to navigate to and the trip wasn’t a pain at all. The weather was good and there wasn’t much city driving involved, it was on the outer side of Harrisburg on Market Street. The parking garage was connected to the building so you could get to the theatre through the building, which was neat and nice for my near-waddle pace. We made it with a spare hour to grab some grub, so we hit up a Freshido restaurant nearby. I’m convinced it’s Korean food, even though the webs told my mother it is Hawaiian; my dish was called the Gangnam Style plate and there was bulgogi meat and kimchi? I rest my case. It was a little spicy but good and didn’t even give me heartburn, which was pleasantly surprising! So much winning! 

We made it back in and found our seats after checking out the swag stop on the way in. There was the usual array of t-shirt, CD, and vinyl memorabilia but also a section of signed photographs, one of Joni Mitchell in a rearview mirror, signed by Nash, and copies of his new book “Our House” that just came out. Inside the theatre, actually the Sunoco Theatre inside the Whitaker Center, was about as big as The State Theatre, in State College, if you are familiar. It was quaint and lovely, with an orchestra section, where we were seated, and mezzanine and balcony sections that were directly on top of each other. They even had moody string lights along the balconies. We had a great view from our seats.

After some dimming of the house lights Nash and co. came out onto the stage to a cheering crowd. He greeted everyone immediately, waving to the balcony folks. He humbly thanked the Universe for bringing us all together at this moment in time. He said something akin to all they had were songs but they were “gonna sing the shit out of ‘em!” They opened with Pre-Roads Down, going next into Bus Stop which was exciting to witness with my mother. I was fairly sure he would play it because he has been but also really hoping he would because it was one from The Hollies I had heard a lot growing up. Afterward, he commented on the cheering, saying it really showed how old we were as a crowd, stating jokingly that we must be well into our 40s. He was pretty playful and funny the entire show. 

Different artists do different things on stage and have different relationships with their audiences. Graham Nash had a casual and intimate way about him. The show was, in a way, a mini Story Tellers; Nash introduced most of his numbers with a little anecdote about the song’s conception. Some introductions were short, one liners, at times just the song title and/or the year he wrote it, while others were lengthier tales. 

He started into I Used To Be a King after the quip “I wrote this right after breaking up with Joan” and then afterwards went into Wasted on the Way. Before Better Days he mentioned he wrote it for Anita Baker. Then Carried Away. Right Between the Eyes. Moving into Military Madness he said he was so tired of playing the song, not because it’s a bad song but because he wrote it about his dad leaving for WWII and the wars keep happening—-so he must keep singing. 

He introduced his two man band right away, after the first or second song. It was impressive how well they harmonized together covering classic vocals with Nash that you were so accustomed to hearing with CSN/Y; my ears deemed it totally acceptable! Shane Fontayne, who he said was most notably English and had played lead guitar with another band in England as well as Sting and “more importantly for you Americans”, Bruce Springsteen. His keyboard player was introduced as being from a musical family, hailing from Lubbock, Texas, which got some cheers. To the cheers, he said “If you know, you know!” This was a little setlist foreshadowing. 

Shane Fontayne was remarkable! It was fun watching him switch guitars from among his rack and recreate classic riffs. His guitar playing was superb and he did a lot of great emotive stuff, most notably on Wind on the Water, where he made sounds akin to a whale’s call, fitting to the song. Graham told the story of being off the coast of Africa on Crosby’s boat and having an encounter with a blue whale that was bigger than their 80 foot boat. He said that it was a near spiritual experience and he was inspired to write the song. 

They did a really cool rendition of The Beatles’ song A Day in the Life, after which Graham noted that it was great and “if you were a singer wouldn’t you want to sing that song?” Agreed! Before Marrakesh Express, he told of a time he was in Africa, taking a train from Morocco to Marrekesh. He spoke of his writing and said “most of my songs come from ordinary moments” although something like this might not be too ordinary to us, to Graham Nash, it was! The band took a 20 minute break after this. 

Coming back from break, Nash looks at Fontayne and playfully asks if he thinks they should really do this [next song]. To much delight, they break into Love the One You’re With! I was thrilled. I never would have expected to hear it, so it was perhaps my favorite number of the evening? Perhaps. Taken at All; Golden Days; Immigration Man: he tells of the time he was stopped at the gates after a trip to Canada and denied re-entry to America. They let Crosby and Stills in. Even Neil Young, he said, was allowed back in but he was denied. He was a mad Englishman as his friends laughed at him from the other side. He said he wrote Immigration Man before he even made it home. 

Just a Song Before I Go was dedicated to the child of a woman that he had met on break. He shared how he wrote this one on a $500 bet from a low-level drug dealer whose house he was at while in Hawaii. He still has the $500 and said that the song became CSN’s most popular hit and had he known, he would have written a better song. The conception of Cathedral was, perhaps, the funniest tale of them all. He said that while in England touring with CSNY he had a day off after the last show. He chose to rent a Rolls Royce with a driver, find a dealer, and then drop acid, spending most of his day laying in the grass in the middle of Stone Henge, which was accessible at the time and wasn’t fenced up back in the day. He later made his way to the nearby Westminster Cathedral where he said he walked over top of a grave of a soldier and had the weirdest sensation in his legs, not from the acid, as he attested to knowing the affects of the drug. Upon inspection he noticed the day the man in the grave died was his birthday. “I don’t know if I was him or he was me or what?” but what followed was an ecstatic experience that led to the writing of Cathedral. It was interesting to learn that not much of that song was made up, which one would be led to believe, but rather gathered from a completely real experience by Nash. 

He mentioned again about the ordinary moments inspiring his songs, and went into a tale of an ordinary “shitty rainy day” when he was simply out walking around with Joni Mitchell window shopping. Joni spotted an interesting vase in a window and bought it. We could excitedly see where this was going. He said they came home to a chilly house and he lit a fire, she filled the vase and then he sat down and wrote Our House. 

As for the foreshadowing, the keyboard player was from Lubbock, Texas, which is, incidentally, where Buddy Holly hailed from. The three of them moved center stage and played a lovely harmonized rendition of Holly’s “Everyday” which was excellent. I had read they were doing this, but forgot all about it in the excitement so I was still pleasantly surprised. Their final number, which I was able to record (although I wish I had captured Love the One You’re With or even Everyday) was what I had expected, Teach Your Children. My mother went to hug me, but saw I was recording on my phone, although that didn’t stop us from exchanging happy glances and singing along. We had come full circle. A good time was had by all, even the baby who had been kicking away the entire concert. 

Graham Nash at the Whitaker Center was truly a bucket list epic show. I am very grateful to have been able to experience it with my mother and especially in such a quaint venue. Nash’s intimate explanations and introductions to his songs were wonderful and insightful. I love when artists actually take the time to connect with their audiences like that, especially ones who have played for so many years. It really makes for a better show. His sharing of his writing process was insightful. Although somewhat less “ordinary” than the lay man’s moments, it was neat to see that most of his songs basically did come from ordinary days and events in his life, each was “a day in the life” of Graham Nash, if you will. Who wouldn’t want to sing about that?