HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010
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November 30, 2014
Oh my God its almost December!
November 29, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Today I've been practicing being by myself, still taking it easy, inside all day. The treatment my friend Holly gave to me while visiting Nashville still reels in my mind constantly. We were able to get along as well as butt heads which I really appreciate being able to do with a friend without repercussions. We started out as total strangers. Although people have told me many times that they began to trust and interact with me as a stranger through my music, Holly was the first to say she trusted instantly from hearing my recorded music online. She connected with its truth, totally. Personally, I love my music in of itself but have never much appreciated it in recorded form so I thought that certainly would not be possible from a stranger. How is that for a little self-centeredness? Ha. Anyway, it felt good to be in the urban feel of Nashville. I like cities as I like country. Variety is what I like.
Holly gave me a feeling. Every time I offered to help pay for something she would say, "your moneys no good here." That was incredibly freeing for me. It gave me a feeling of security unlike any other. I felt taken care of so I can take care of others. It was a big subconscious whammy, not having to think about money. She's doing ok with money but not rich herself and at the same time had no reservations when spending it. That also helped me to watch someone not worry about money in action. I have another friend Becky who has also been working to give me the feeling of financial security by creating contribution for the journey. Also, about six other friends have set up a monthly subscription on this website from $3 bucks to $30. Even though it does not make a financial dent in reality, those contributions are the only reason I am able to continue. If you could only be in my mind. They feed me gratitude, they give me a feeling of not being alone. They support not only the journey and my financial needs but my sanity and peace of mind. I try to be on the road less these days because of the expenses. Its amazing that I'm still going without income after all this time. It is because of the people I meet in of themselves musically with the Traveling Piano... but equally because of the emotional support I am able to draw from the people who invite us into their homes and the financial contributions no matter how small or large from those who care enough to help me in that way. Contributions from others keep me secure in faith to continue. The faith in of itself comes from the spiritual realms. Funny how I have learned that this journey is so much not... about money but then again totally about money, but not in a conventional sense... as well as many other things.
November 28, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
I slept sixteen hours and feel just a little lost and definitely weak. I don't think it is only from the head smack yesterday. I know I pulled some neck muscles from the bounce back. Luckily there has been no headache. My head is not as swollen as it was last night. Part of me wants to think trouble has not yet begun. Another part says just move forward carefully and as normal as possible, don't think bad thoughts. The fall was physically stressful. Of course every muscle in my body is going to feel it. Thanksgiving is emotionally stressful. I put out a lot of fun energy with people yesterday along with the fall. I've not had the time to feel the fourteen hours of travel from the day before and then there's the snow... bottom line is I'm writing no less coherent than usual, eh? I was able to update this blog from the last two days and was able to process the pictures for it. (could not do that last night) Still, I wanted to go visit with some friends today but after a few hours awake realized I'm too woozy to drive. Then again later I realized I am too out of it to even hold a conversation by phone. Relaxation is the key to moving forward.
November 27, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
About a week ago my friends Fred and Bernie invited me to their Thanksgiving Dinner and I was planning to go but cancelled yesterday because of the snow. I sat around this morning trying to decide if I was being a wuss or not. Last year there would be no way because the engine was too weak driving in snow but now with a new truck engine I thought about testing it out. It took about five tries up the hill but once on the road, surprisingly everything was clear. I walked into Fred's house thinking it would be filled with friends but it was all family... and me. I felt honored. Also, I was taken back at how almost everyone was a grown up, even his grandkids were in their teens. I'm getting old! Bernie's birthday is today so as soon as everyone arrived and before dark we were all going to have a few moments with the Traveling Piano. There was too much energy to have Mo in the house so I put him in the back yard to run around a bit. I took a step on a cement patio and did a flip so fast I did not know it until I heard the back of my head crack on the stone. My first thought, "heal yourself, relax, breath, don't move yet." After a few moments I checked for blood, was aware that I pulled a few muscles in my neck from the bounce back, while getting up I tried to figure out what I slipped on... snow, ice? It was something orange. Was I dripping something orange? later on we found out I had slipped on turkey fat dripping from a deck above where the turkey was being smoked. Almost immediately after I knew I could stand and walk I thought, "get everyone out to sing happy birthday for Bernie and get a family picture with the truck before I pass out if thats going to happen." So I used the excuse that it was getting dark to get everyone outside real quick. Then it was tricky trying to have a conversation with anyone and not make it all about me and the fall. Nothing has ever happened to me like that. I literally flew through the air as fast as my body weight could take me and thats how hard I landed on my head. The good part... I ate slow, the meal was awesome and I think it kept any pain away. I was trying to not be dramatic about it all and not being the first to leave helped that I think. I feel so special when I am invited inside a full family to experience all the dynamics of their relating. In my family there was a circle of inner trust, privacy, secrecy, whatever that could not have been more guarded concerning even close relatives. Having just one aunt in our "inner circle" Thanksgiving dinner every other year (six kids, two parents) made everyone most uncomfortable. I felt very comfortable, welcomed and wanted with Fred and Bernie's family. Once I got back to where I am staying I couldn't function very well, my head has taken on a new shape. The lump fills my entire hand not just my palm. To bed...
November 26, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
I am really glad I put the extra truck cover on before bed last night because it snowed all day, about a foots worth. Mo and I would have been stuck... not made it back for several days had I stopped at a motel overnight because I can't drive in and out of, up and down the hill where we are with any freeze on the ground. Wow, a major change in environment from twenty four hours ago. Everything is so white and bright. I took a walk with Mo, took a few pictures and listened to white rain falling on the leaves of the trees. I cannot remember a snow storm ever this early in the year. My health from the long drive yesterday is amazingly ok. I attribute it to herbal extracts I took the entire time driving. Extracts for respiratory, shoulders and arms, vision, exhaustion, etc... I loaded about eight different vials on the trucks dashboard and every fifteen minutes took about twelve drops with a swig of water while rotating them. That with vitamins and an airborne immune tablet really helped. Right after I feel asleep I woke up with charley horse cramps up and down the back side of both legs. That was incredibly painful but obviously I got through it. Some extra pharmaceutical medication helped me get to sleep. Mo and I settled into some knowing consistency around familiar surroundings, the most important element... that of sitting in our lounge chair together.
November 25, 2014
Talk about providential! I decided to drive straight through from Nashville to Berkeley Springs in the panhandle of West Virginia to see how much stamina I still have. Sometimes I like to push boundaries and limits. I need to know how much I can handle so my decisions on what I choose to do are not simply whims of fancy. It took 14 hours with stops and siting through someone's traffic accident for an hour. While over the Smokey Mountains and through Virginia there were constant winter advisory signs which was confusing. I attributed them to "weather drama." We just drove out of sunny and cool temperatures. There were small squalls here and there of snow dustings so I pulled over and snapped the tarp over the back of the truck, no drama. After arriving in West Virginia at two in the morning, of course I could not get to sleep. My head was spinning from the last two weeks. The internet said there was a chance of snow here in West Virginia, one to three inches. After going to bed I had an impulse to check another internet website and it said up to eight inches starting... now. Internet weather reports are often a guessing game. In not wanting to take a chance I pulled out my extra truck cover from the cellar where I am and trudged outside to put it on. Before leaving Nashville Mo and I spent a few minutes with Robert and the Traveling Piano. Robert is Holly's my host's husband and I just met him last night. He had been away. I didn't push him to get onto the truck or for a picture or anything. We stopped to see Holly at her work on the way out of town. It was a beautiful day.
Once on the highway about an hour out, a few kids I had met in deep in the woods a few days ago passed us while driving to Blacksburg, Virginia. Shortly after, all traffic came to a standstill. It was an vehicle accident. After an hour of sitting, waiting, I took an exit ramp to get gas and again pulled right up next to them again. The girl did not play last time we met. She told me she had been in a bad mood. She played today and she plays piano well! While I filled up the tank with gas another friend jumped on and then all three were in the truck for a picture. Local guys began to mill around and a few of them tried out some music too. Travis Tritt a successful country and western singer showed up incognito to get some gas and to pick up a few things from the store in an old beatup pickup truck. He started a short conversation about loving what he was seeing and that he was singing in a concert later on today but kept moving obviously in not wanting anyone to recognize who he was. Onward... after another few hours I turned on the truck radio (rare) because I was boring myself with thoughts. It was mostly country and western music... male/female ballads and I enjoyed them all for the first five hundred and then, enough is enough already. Radio just gets more and more homogenized as time moves on like everything else. A few people now own all the stations and purchase the same twenty pop songs to play over and over day and night although, there were a few pockets of new and creative music and always from college or universities towns. My head does not feel very clear in writting this blog right now.
November 24, 2014
It was back to sun and brisk but not cold temperatures today. While having some time constraints, I refused to allow that to affect my short opportunity to spend time in Alabama. I stopped in the first town I thought was across the boarder form Tennessee and played on the street only to find I was not yet across the boarder. We were in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. While driving through the small town I saw a senior apartment complex and decided to turn around and go back to play at the curb. Right away people began to come to their windows. A guy close by on a bench was fixing his wheel chair. The entire time I was there he did not look my way. Someone actually tired to get him to see what was happening outside of his fixation, but to no avail. Another guy sitting in a rocking chair on the porch began rocking and then showing everyone who was coming out what was going on as though he was playing the piano with his hands in the air. He had seen me drive down the street and turn around and knew I was playing the piano but everyone else could not see that from where they were standing. A blind guy walked by with his cane lead by a little ball on the tip guiding him in the groove of the sidewalk cement. His care taker, an older woman followed shortly but got distracted when she saw us and jumped onto the Traveling Piano for a few notes. She forgot about the guy walking until he was over a block away and jumped off running when she realized he cannot cross the street on his own.
I drove into the small town of Bridgeport, Alabama and found the community center preparing lunches to deliver to shut-ins' around the neighborhood. They invited me for lunch and also came outside to see the Traveling Piano. One older guy jumped on to play Amazing Grace. I was going to follow the food truck around town from behind but it was too awkward of a situation. At a local grocery store, the owner came out and waited until the coast was clear to jump onto the piano for a few minutes. Clear coast, as in no vehicles passing or people around to see him do it. It was lunch time and so I stopped at the elementary school to ask the principal if he could handle a little spontaneity for the kids to come out to see the Traveling Piano. He said no. I had been driving through beautiful roads that were tilted and curvy. We found a large lake and I stopped to create music just Mo, me and nature all alone and it was really, really nice. We passed a cave that looked irresistible but the area was in a closed seasonal park which was of course irritating. If I had time I would have parked on the road and taken a hike to see it anyway. The idea of closing parks for the season when there are beautiful days to enjoy them all year round... when no one is there to watch them in-season anyway, and especially when there is nothing to watch, that really pisses me off.
Another cave, a national monument was not too far away, about five miles. Even though my time was short, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity. After driving through more beautiful countryside I found Russell Cave in a place called Dorans Cove. People have inhabited this place since prehistoric times from 10,000 B.C. to 1640 A.D. It was used as a home for many communities through the years and the've found archaeological artifacts inside to create one of the most complete records of prehistoric culture in the southeast. There was a very deep, appreciative and loving feeling to experience inside that cave. Back at our host's... Holly's place in Nashville, her husband Robert was able to catch an early flight home from work and so we readied the place for him. I helped put up some Christmas lights and their Christmas tree. Being able to meet Robert was unexpected and I'm really glad I had the opportunity. We were all bushed as in tired so our time was short before bed. I can feel our being taking care of by people through a power greater than ourselves, God the universe working through people. It is important for me to not analyse too much how and why it happens but simply carry out the purpose, the journey I have found. The more I analyse while doing, the less I accomplish doing and my time can become a waste of energy although I must give credit to all my psychoanalysis in life. I would not be me or have accomplished "everything" I have done without deep, long and thoughtful analyzation, prayer, meditation, whatever you want to call it.
November 23, 2014
As expected it rained all day and that felt really good. I'm in a great hotel room. First thing, I watched a movie on a regular television screen which has not happened for several years. I usually only have access to my computer screen. I thought about how I'm going to do nothing all day except relax and then realized that would not be possible. Seven hours of processing pictures later along with doing this blog... I was getting back logged with my promise to send people their pictures. Its all done. Last night I took a picture of the Chattanooga Choo Choo train station hotel sign. Its on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby I stopped at a gas station, convenience store which was the most overtly corrupt spot I've ever been in. There were several tables setup outside with not only bootleg music CD's for sale but all the equipment to make them on the spot. It was a huge operation with several black vehicles around, of course windows all dark and a lot of people walking around with large billfolds of money in their hands right out in the open inside and outside the store. There was a lot more than music going down on the premises. I was totally intrigued and asked one of the guys if the police ever bothered them. They said no, they are more interested in going after murderers and rapists in the area. Secretly I thought, "yea, and making triple pay to keep that focus." If I had not been so tired I would have moved in on them with the Traveling Piano. They would have been receptive, I'm positive. Its all about Fun, Friendship, and Respect... with them you can add Money to that agenda, lol.
November 22, 2014
Fairyland, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee
Originally, with an earlier start than yesterday I was going to try again for Alabama today. My friend Holly knowing I have not played in Georgia or Alabama suggested I got to Chattanooga Tennessee where I could hit all three states within a half hour. She treated me to a hotel room for two nights with her frequent flyer miles and, what a treat! Also, what a difference $25 bucks more for a hotel room makes. (I usually stay in the least expensive motels possible) The room, lots of room, rug on the floor, truck outside the door, nice cushiony sitting chair with ottoman, sliding glass doors onto a grassy area... Traffic delayed my arrival by an hour so I did not get to Alabama. Mo and I headed for Stone City, Georgia. It was confusing because I did not know that Stone City is a commercial tourist destination and not a city unto itself. (a bunch of rocks with great views and gardens) all around it, a town called Fairyland. (all the streets are named for fairy tale characters) The place was closed by the time I got there because they were setting up for a Christmas display so I drove around the residential streets and had some fun. I've never been to such a hilly and winding area with streets that were so clean and paved. We were up high on Overlook Mountain.
Just before it became completely dark I found a jump off point for hand guilders at Lookout Mountain Flight Park on scenic route 189. People live in houses on a cliff all along this road with an almost ninety degree drop off for what looks like miles down. I met a young student there from Covenant college which was a short distance away. Can we talk money college? He is there on scholarship. When I got back to Chattanooga, even though it was dark, tonight was my only chance to play here because it is supposed to rain all day tomorrow. I drove around the streets looking for a spot. I was just about to give up and wanted to take a pizza back to the hotel room with me before returning. I found a great illegal parking spot and asked the guy in the pizza place to bring my order out for me when it was ready and told him I would be creating music out on the street with people in the meantime. The first people I met, two guys... the one had just became engaged a few hours earlier so he ran into where they were about to have dinner to get his fiancee. She came back out with him so they could jump onto the Traveling Piano for some music and a picture and a kiss. The building across the street was a climbing adventure place and people were climbing the sides of the building on the outside of it about ten stories up and down with colored lights constantly changing. I could have stayed in that spot all night but knew I had to stop. Falling asleep after days like today seems impossible.
November 21, 2014
Belle Meade, Tennessee
Damm, I wish I could get up earlier: have said that too many times. My first impulse was to drive into Alabama before leaving Tennessee as I don't think I've ever created music in that state. Once I finally got going it was early afternoon and knowing it would be about a two hour drive each way with little daylight left... a local park sounded like a better plan. A Mexican restaurant nearby looked kinda good and I had not eaten. I took whatever I ordered (I never know what is what... with Mexican food) and found Percy Warner park to sit in and have a relaxing meal. There was a huge national youth relay setting up with lots of people from Kansas City, Missouri. They were all on a large equestrian track and high up on a hill above, I found a parking area overlooking it all. After I was done eating I jumped into the back of the truck to play for a little and at the same time the entire crowd from far below began to trickle towards me. They looked like a large trail of about a thousand ants heading up and there was no way they were all going to come all the way up to where I was. Well, they did... for pictures in the viewing stands right below me. As it all started I took a picture and then they just kept coming and coming out of nowhere so I continued to play music.
I was in full blast, create music mode for them and having so much fun knowing their experience of it all... finding us from a distance, the music, Mo on the piano, the truck, the fact that it was all live, in the moment, spontaneous, synchronistic, etc... One mom, a teacher out of all those people came up directly to the truck. We had fun, took a slefie, she would be the official messenger for everyone as to what was going on. Lol, After that I began to drive through the park which was beautiful even with almost all the leaves off the trees. The only problem was there were only three, two car spots I found in the entire park where we could stop. Pausing to take a picture anywhere... too dangerous because the road was too narrow. I stopped deep in the woods at one of the spots and began to create intense music. Several people found us. Two of them said they heard the music from the outskirts of the park and was so enticed, they had walked a mile in to find us. One guy had his cat with him! The neighborhood I drove through on the way out was the first in which I thought... I could never live in one of these houses. It was full of old money, very large estates set back with huge front lawns and everything looked very affected with too much wealth. I would lose touch with reality living in an environment like that, too separated from humanity as a whole for my taste.
I took Mo for a long run in huge open fields until dark. I felt so tired I thought I might have to take a nap in the truck before continuing back to where we were staying but... my friend Holly said I must stop and eat at the Cafe Loveless for some real down home southern cooking. It is a famous tourist trap. The food was awesome as were the people working there, I told the manager it was the most unaffected tourist trap I've ever experienced. He said the secret was that they care about and treat their employees well. It was the first restaurant I've ever eaten at where I took a dogie bag home and the entire meal was only twenty one bucks... home made muffin's to die for, three different fresh jellies, fried battered catfish, fried chicken, pulled barbecue ribs over a pancake with mashed potatoes and gravy and the best, most fresh creamed corn I've ever tasted. I wish I had not been so tired, I would have thought to take a picture of it all. Nom, nom, nom... On arrival at Holly's house I found friends putting up Christmas lights. The musical fun, continued.
November 20, 2014
East Nashville, Tennessee
We headed to East Nashville. It was known as the slummy area and now it is an up and coming hipster area... a place where locals support each other, full of musicians, one big tight neighborhood everyone says. There were guys on the streets and outside stores selling religious rags from an organization called FaithUnity. They make money off the homeless buy selling them what they call street papers... bible propaganda. They get the homeless people to purchase them for .35 cents and then the homeless charge a dollar to people who think they are being helpful. Taking advantage of the homeless, creating competition between them, making profit off religion and the poor in the name of Jesus, that disgusts me. I saw one intimidating clean, tall, well built guy on a street corner selling the rags which puzzled me. Then I realized he was intimidating a regular panhandler nearby from panhandling. Ugh!
I wanted to find a sunny spot at five points, in the center. There was only one spot in the sun but the truck would have been about two feet into a parking lot exit of a closed restaurant. There was enough room for one and a half cars to get through easily but thought I'd better ask the owners and make nice anyway. They said no. What dicks! That destroyed my energy for sharing the Traveling Piano there, it was all bars anyway... not my scene. I drove around the neighborhood and found a funky hotdog stand built into an old volkswagen bus up on a lawn. I went to make nicey with the people running the stand, they were indifferent. A guy came walking down the street and wanted his picture on the truck for himself from his phone which I took for him but wouldn't let me have one of him with my camera. He practically ran away once he got what he wanted. Cheeezze, another dick! Still, I liked where I was parked on the street so Mo jumped onto the piano and I began to play.
Then the kind of people I like to attract began coming up to us. A woman brought some hotdogs for me, lol. There was a music store nearby and a guy working there came over. The owners did too but had no interest in interaction. A life long local guy my age came by and we had a great talk about the area. After a while I felt a pull to a big school down the street. When I drove up to the front of the school I saw a perfect triangular area I could pull into. I asked the crossing guard what time school let out and he said, "right now" and pointed to about a thousand kids heading in our direction. It was perfect timing, a total treat for the kids as well as for myself. It felt right to keep playing while they all passed but I wanted to interact. Once they were all passed I turned around to find a huge group still behind me hanging around so I just turned the truck and piano over to them. As always, kids are totally respectful when shown respect. They policed each other, I didn't have to do anything but step away with empowerment for them. They were all over, up and in the Traveling Piano at the same time. There is not better feeling then empowering people without restrictions, boundaries, limits, etc...
I've been feeling a vibe here in Nashville like I could easily live here. I've been feeling a pull in the ground to settle down which is curious because my experience of the city has been marginal especially with the cold and rainy winter weather. When people talk up the musical vibe of the city, I've been conscious not to get caught up in any romanticism about that although something has definitely been going on personally with the vibration here. During a random discussion with a woman from Australia she mentioned that there are ley-lines under Nashville which I had never heard of before. A ley-line is a straight fault line in the earth's tectonic plates. The native Indians knew about them even before they became scientific fact. Indians call them spirit lines, they are filled with electro-magnetic energy. Anyone who has read through my journey about the different vortex's I have found myself in... we'll my spirit is a proven vortex magnet. I am super sensitive to vibration, electro-magnetic whatever, the full moon, spiritual energy, etc... it is what it is. I never presuppose. Its when I look back on things that happened, that is when everything makes sense.
November 19, 2014
West Nashville, Tennessee
The day was spent babysitting Holly's three dogs with a housecleaner here. It was a little frustrating with the temperatures outside bearable for the first time in a week. Part of me wanted to be out with the Traveling Piano but I told myself there is plenty of time and I want to give a hand to Holly who invited me into her home without ever having met me, no references, just the website. Tonight she brought food home from an amazing Turkish restaurant. I'll be leaving here soon but I'm going to miss my new friend. At night we've been bingeing on television episodes of Blue Bloods and The Killing. Having someone to hang out with and do nothing... its been a long while in doing that.
November 18, 2014
Downtown Nashville, Tennessee
Even with the temperatures in the upper twenties to low thirties, I really felt the need to go out and make use of the time and opportunity here in Nashville. I drove to East Nashville and by the time I got there, it was just too cold for me. I was also really tired and this morning I was feeling afraid mostly because there are no thoughts in my head. Lol... go figger. I was listening to my phone messages and one came through from a young kid who was on the Traveling Piano a few days ago. He was at the library and was hoping to see his picture on the website. I called him and we got talking. Last night he and a few friends found an abandoned warehouse to sleep in and he was presently on the street playing drums on plastic containers trying to get enough money for a train ticket out of town so... I drove to meet him and to give him some money. Of course he was elated to see me again and when he found out why I drove there some love started to flow all around. Another homeless woman happened by at the exact moment with a meal someone had just given her. She said that she knew how to play the piano. That started the fun and then a few others appeared. People in dire straights share much more than those who are not in dire straights. They help each other out totally with no one person having more or wanting more than another from my experiences. It is wrong to have anything but compassion for someone living without shelter or food.
Every person homeless or not deserves compassion. Every person's situation in having no food, money or shelter is unique. It is impossible to know what a person goes through in that situation if you have no experience with it yourself. What others say, what is described or shown in anyway is almost worthless. Some say there are many shelters and places to go. The fact is if you do not know where or have transportation to a shelter, the fact that they exist means nothing. It is impossible to understand how a mentally ill person feels or the trauma people experience in being bullied, looked down on or robbed in shelters. A shelter is not an option for many. Anyone who says it should be, those who have an option, they need a shot of empathy. The best thing I could do for these people today is spend some time in Musical Fun, Friendship and Respect because... I need as much of that as possible and thats how I get it. People who seemingly have nothing have as much fun as people who seemingly have something. Anyway, I left feeling both whole with my brothers and sisters and then again also very angry in remembering the recent four billion dollars people endorsed for political use in the recent mid-term elections alone. Later after dark, I met with more friends who had never seen the Traveling Piano and were just too interested for me not to share it with them... cold and dark or not. Lol, man, we had a good jolt of energy. Feeling gratitude for my desire to participate in life with other people, my ability to do it an the grace to act out.
November 17, 2014
It was raining with snow showers all day. This is a good opportunity to post the video of my nintey year old friend Hector playing Fur Elise in Cookeville, Tennessee a few days ago.
November 16, 2014
Downtown Nashville, Tennessee
My host Holly, her husband Robert is off working this week so I have not had a chance to meet him although the three of us did connect by phone. It rained all day so it was a perfect opportunity to meet with her dad Glenn who is now retired from a successful life long singing career. Like my friend Pat who owns the place I use in West Virginia, his clarity of mind is fading. It would be easy to allow myself to get very frustrated about the cold and rain and snow in the forecast because I am jonsin' to be out and about with the Traveling Piano but just as good, worthwhile and important is my being able to intimately connect and personally interact with people like Holly who unconditionally can invite a stranger into their home. The idea of strangers becoming less afraid of each other, that is a passion of mine.. not to say it is an easy pursuit. I left West Virginia a few weeks ago to head south for some fall color. I wanted to spend some time in Charlottesville, Va and then head to Nashville because Nashville has been calling to me for a few years now. I could not find anyone to stay with anywhere and after two nights south, I chickened out anyway. Mo and I headed back to our temporary digs in West Virginia.
The night we got back, as I was randomly adding followers on my Twitter account. A random tweet to come visit came my way. Whenever that happens anywhere, I always react with the statement, "if you have a place to share with us we will visit for sure." 99.9% of the time there is no response but Holly answered with a positive. I checked her out and found out she was from Nashville where I had just chickened out from going to. Its been a week now and we will soon be heading out. The whole experience has felt providential. We are very much alike so there has been some very animated conversations! When we first met a thought crossed my mind that had happened only once before during this journey. Our connection is not about the Traveling Piano, (that is the vehicle) the connection is about us, specifically the personal relationship that can only happen from spending time together. I thought if I never get to create music the entire time here or share the piano with anyone it will be ok because the fundamental purpose had already been achieved. Holly has an amazing voice and along with being a musician, she is also the grief support coordinator for the cities largest hospice as well as her fathers caretaker. She recorded and album named Mister Rogers Swings! ...a vintage jazz album and you can find her on ITunes and Amazon. Absolutely... go to this page to listen to some of her beauty. Ella Fitzgerald sounds like her. Here... six easy listening, soft jazz melodies... Holly Yarbrough
November 15, 2014
Downtown Nashville, Tennessee
While the weather is still tolerable we headed for Centennial Park in the center of Nashville where my friend Holly and her dog Theo joined us. There is a huge replica of the parthenon in the center of the park built in 1897 for the Centennial Exposition. After getting some pictures there, we pulled into a parking area by a lake and interacted with people. Before it got dark I felt the need to spend time in the center of one of Nashville's party areas so we drove to lower Broadway. Like a charm I found a perfect parking spot on a street corner and we stayed there until after dark. I purchased a coat for Mo at a store, a little large but not a rip off in price and it did the job. We would never have been able to play today without a coat for him. Sitting basically in one spot in the cold without a coat... he would have lasted only about five minutes. I had some significant personal interactions with people where we were.
Can we talk music? The street reminded me somewhat of the Las Vegas strip in energy, but no where in the country have I experienced as much live music coming out of every building. It was a lot of fun and incredibly stimulating. The timing was perfect, late afternoon into early evening so the we missed the real nighttime craziness and crowds. It was perfect and I had to force myself to leave before I pushed myself too much. Now, I'm feeling like I want to get out to listen to some live music! When I got back to where we are staying, Holly had a large glass of apple cider and a full plate of Calypso chicken (name of a popular cafe), callaloo greens (a caribbean dish from west africa) sweet potatoes topped with coconut and boija corn muffins ready and I was thankful because I could not give myself the time to have a glass of water or eat anything all day.
November 14, 2014
Keeping my head (brain) rightly oriented with the cold weather, (its 26 degrees right now and the colder weather will be in two days with snow) its a challenge to embrace what is and enjoy what is possible. I took a walk with Mo across the Shelby Street Pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River. From where we found street parking we met some people who literally while passing by jumped onto the truck, banged out a few notes, got their picture taken and continued on their way. I met a graphic artist who went to school in Philly, a bunch of guys who were starting out a bachelor weekend and a gaggle of women who just jumped off a pedal tavern. Thats a bar hopping street vehicle where everyone sits around an open bar while pedaling as in bicycle pedaling through the streets from bar to bar to go drinking.
While walking down a street full of live music coming from almost every door I met a group of valets who were interested in Mo. I ended up going back to get the Traveling Piano for them and then they jumped into the truck, banged a few notes, got their picture taken, etc... The one guy was telling me that the building on the end of the street was the first free standing building in Nashville and how a cellar was built into it to create a tunnel which now runs under the street and around the corner to Printers Alley. It was used to smuggle liquor into where the first speakeasy bars where located in the 1940's during prohibition not that anyone cared about prohibition. Liquor was not legalized in resturants here until 1968, not that anyone cared about legalization, ha!
November 13, 2014
West Nashville, Tennessee
I spent time after waking up thinking that there was no way I could play with music today. It would be crazy with the temperature in the low thirties but... I'm missing my Nashville opportunity! Part of my reality is that I'm afraid to do what I do still after all these years... but also know I always have fearful impulses and often deal with it by finding excuses to bail out, like I'm feeling sick, going to feel sick, too tired, too cold, its too humid, etc... The reality is when I am juiced up and in a Traveling Piano mode, whatever the environment everything is fantastic. My job is to simply throw myself into the mode so I did. Since, I'm planning to go back to West Virginia before I go on a longer jaunt, I did not pack all my clothes from the temporary place I've been using back there. I only brought my light jacket because there was practically no chance of having sub-freezing temperatures for the week but I was wrong. By pure luck I found I had packed my winter coat, clothes, gloves and hat. Was that pure luck, or subconscious foresight? With the new truck engine I thought the truck would start easier in cold weather. Well, that was a good thought but not reality. It was difficult to get it going, but I did.
The sun was in and out all day. I drove down Charlotte Pike towards the center of the city having no idea where I was going and started to see groups of kids on corners waiting for buses. After I broke my cherry with them, officially I felt "in the mode." Then it felt easy and natural to just stop anywhere. I stayed on the street as I was close to my home base and did not want to get stuck in rush hour traffic trying to get back before dark. As cold as it was we met several people on random street corners and I had a good long conversation with a life long ex-philly guy who knew all my old haunts while growing up. So far, my limited experience and feeling of Nashville is that of a very friendly, easy going, pro gun, conservative, church oriented and as time passes, more and more a very hip city. I can't imagine anyone saying they don't like living in this city and I'm looking forward to meeting a lot of musicians. Everyone tells me that I'll find more musicians and a more supportive musician environment than in most other places in the country.
November 12, 2014
I woke up with new wrinkles in ma' face and finally, after all these years I get the Traveling Piano to Nashville and... the temperatures are freezing! Snow is in the forecast for a few days from now and the high tomorrow is supposed to be thirty five degrees. It was dark and cloudy all day. If the sun was out I might try to go out and play with some music anyway. Mo and the dog Theo we are with, they get along if Mo lets Theo give him a constant tongue bath. It lasts for hours and must be where Mo likes it behind the ears or in his butt. Mo needs to constantly growl at Theo to compensate for his smaller size and strength and tell him to relax a little. Theo's still a pup, a big pup!
November 11, 2014
It was surprisingly balmy with the temperature around seventy and the sun was shinning when I got up. After leaving Cookeville to head into Nashville, everything gradually changed. The skies began to get darker and darker, the temperature dropped. I was hoping the rain would hold out until after I arrived but my luck ran out. It was dark, rainy and the temperature dropped by thirty degrees. The yellows and oranges of the trees that still held leaves were the most vibrant I have ever seen, ever! I wanted to get some detailed pictures but it will probably be too late by tomorrow. They will probably all drop from the rain and temperature tonight. Anyway, before leaving Cookeville, I headed to Tennessee Tech to meet with my old friend Hector who I had stayed with when passing through the area in 2007. He never made it to the college campus for the talk because the student who went to pick him up got lost on the way. Hector no longer drives. Before leaving the campus Mo and I had some short musical interactions with a few students. The road to Hectors house is amazing. You can read about that here in an earlier blog entry. February 2007 We all met with Hectors wife Susie and two other friends. Hector climbed into the truck and played a rendition of Fur Elise which I knew was courageous for him as he has not played in years. It was amazing to synchronistically be here with them. They have few urban conveniences for example, no plumbing but their internet service is better than in most cities. Their neighbor takes her kindle into the outhouse to read while taking a dump. Hector at age ninety had no problem climbing into the truck and it took a lot of courage for him to sit and play while I videoed him after not having played the piano in a long time. Without question my greatest joy from this journey, even above having created music in the most beautiful natural environments of the world, has been to meet people like Hector and Susie and to have experienced their contribution of unconditional giving and sharing with me and the world.
In Nashville, I met Holly and her three dogs for the first time. We hit it off immediately and I know from experience that fact can be both a good and bad thing. It was too good... so I felt a need to keep reminding myself about reality... the relationship between two strong minded, interest, smart people with passionate egos... for when the original infatuation ends and the fullness of relationship hits the fan, lol. Holly's one dog was fine, the other old with a bit of dementia and frustration from arthritic pain and then there is young Theo who fell in love with Mo instantly. Theo cannot leave Mo alone with licking and humping. Mo has been trying everything to tolerate him. He'll try being passive, then try being aggressive and then give up and just try to jump in my lap to get away from him. This issue is not a first for Mo concerning other dogs. We'll figure it out but... by the end of the night my nerves were wrecked. I began to get nasty with Theo and then thought it best to retreat into my bedroom. I was past exhaustion. With all the stimulation from the day I almost cracked into pieces mentally, physically and spiritually. Mo had a wart on his ear that I've been applying apple cider vinegar to every day for weeks. Theo licked him so much he licked the wart off! That was a good thing, ha. I had to carry around a towel to dry Mo off because he was so wet from Theo's slobber. Theo by the way... a big, totally loving dog. Before the end of the night, Holly treated me to dinner at a favorite restaurant of hers where we had believe it or not deviled eggs topped with bacon slivers for an appetizer. All I can say about that is... Yum! Then I had the best hamburger ever... it really was special, with fries and a piece of keylime pie for dessert with a real whipped cream topping. Generous people, the world would be nothing without them.
November 10, 2014
I'm very blessed with beautiful travel days. I really appreciate that. While driving through Virginia, I was thinking about its characteristic hills. They are like waves in an ocean. I stopped to get gas in Pulaski, Virginia and was reminded how I passed through back in 2007. The gas station attendant today was so pleasant, I had to create music for her. You can be sure that made her day! I have these homeopathic herbal remedies to take while driving. They are for respiratory issues, shoulder and neck pain, my immune system, etc... This morning I was thinking of my old friends Alberta and Jim (both have passed) descendants of the first original herbalists in New Orleans. I met them while in the areas affected by hurricane Katrina during the beginning of this journey in 2006. They were a very short couple who worked in complete sync with each other and they turned me onto the remedies. Thinking about Alberta and Jim led me to thinking about Hector and Susie who I stayed with while passing through Tennessee back back in 2007. They are amazing people. You can read all about them in February's blog from 2007. After driving a few hours I thought it a good idea not to push myself so I called my friend Becky to ask her if she would book a room for me online somewhere on the way to Nashville. She booked a room for where I am now in Cookeville which happens to be where Hector and Susie live! I had forgotten Cookeville is on the route to Nashville. Becky found their phone number for me online. I called and we are going to meet tomorrow before I leave. Hector has an appointment in the morning. At ninety years of age he's giving a talk to the Students of Tennessee Tech in Cookeville!
I'm going to rant about motel rooms. I can tell if a room is going to smell musty by the smell of the lobby even though they are different smells. If I take a shower to wipe off the grim from a days driving and the room is greasy (like the one I'm in now) I have to shower again after I wake up to wipe off the rooms grim. The smell, ugh! I'm lucky I won't need to turn on the heat. The dry air that blows through the dirty filters... a killer. Many motel rooms now have no rugs. There are plus and minuses to that. A rug is more comfortable for me while being in denial of what I was probably walking on. All the motels in my price range now have homeless people living in them so I feel right at home. People talk to each other on phones even though they are in the next room. Don't drink the water! Mo incessantly hogs the center of every bed.
November 09, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
It didn't happen today as in leave, I'm not ready. I sat around and also cleaned things up and got ready... for first thing tomorrow... to be... On the Road Again. When and if I return here I want to come back to a clean, familiar and orderly place. That will be if no one uses it while I'm gone, or the crazy neighbor doesn't break a window and throw a feral cat inside or something like that. Its been done!
November 08, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
I can be so ridiculous! After spending time with some friends today well, its at the end of the night and I have not started to pack to leave tomorrow for a week. I just can't do it! Last night I spent a few hours packing what should taken five minutes. Its not like I don't know what to pack or have a lot to pack, I've been shuffling around like a snail, can't think, don't want to... anything. it seems more and more difficult to get going even though I know once I do... everything will be fantastic. Its going to happen, I'll be leaving disheveled, forgetting something, not in an orderly fashion, a mess to come back to if I can come back... nothing really matters. Oh, the drama! lol
November 07, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
So... I'm numb from yesterday, laying low to recoup. The temperature has gone below freezing!
November 06, 2014
My plan is to travel to Nashville, Tennessee for next week. My clothes needed to get washed but there is not enough water in the well to wash them so it was off to the laundromat today. Mo and I headed for Winchester, Virginia because I had a few errands to run for example to get a new on top of the piano rug for Mo. I've been using a bath floor rug for years and every time I get a new one the quality I find is worse. The product lasts for a shorter amount of time. Most stores do not carry what I need anymore. JC Penny for example, the lady told me they supply what they sell most. As a result I am not exaggerating here, one entire wall of the store was curtains and the bath mats... they had only about eight on the shelves. I drove to Kohl's where everything has been 50% to 70% off for the last ten years and purchased eight cheap undershirts... $40 bucks! I found the rug at Bed, Bath Beyond which will rip you off if unless you make a purchase with their 20% off coupon sent to your house. Without the coupon because I have no home, the friggin' rug cost $60 bucks! A half year ago the rug cost $40. In Target where I was looking for the rug a lady who was putting up Christmas decorations said to me, "I'd like to enjoy Thanksgiving first but the stores have to do this" I laughed and said, "No... they do not." I am so glad I do not have to shop often and it was a big reminder to stay away from stores, the holidays are coming!
At a laundromat I found machines facing the parking lot through large windows. It was not dark or cold so I figured I would play some music while watching my clothes get washed in the machine. Lol, people were very curious, a few came over. One guy asked if I would play in his restaurant when he gets a piano and to please come over to his place across the parking lot and play in front of the restaurant. He offered me money and a meal. I told him I don't play for exchanges like that and he said, "no exchange, I just want to do it." He was not into wanting anything from me but simply to give because he enjoyed what I was doing. I want to write about this in detail because I enjoy milking situations like this to the fullest. It is people like this with unconditional "significant" gestures of giving who keep this journey going. I put my clothes in the dryer and drove across the parking lot to his place. From where I sat on the piano chair I could still see my clothes in the distance tumbling in the dryer. Lol, again, eight bucks to wash and dry clothes! We were in a strip mall in the north part of Winchester, VA. It was a bland area, definitely not upscale but I could tell the businesses cared about their space. It was clean with a few pansies planted around, thats it.
I assumed the restaurant was a typical strip mall asian place, a little slimy. I was wrong. The restaurant is upscale, totally comfortable and has a super welcoming feel not only from the owner Lee, but also from the staff. The menu is Thai and Sushi. Lee's wife Parni is from Thigh- land, like an idiot that is how I pronounced it out loud, hate when I do that. Lee told me that Parni is the only female in Japanese history to become a five star sushi chef! I was treated to a Dragon Roll made of avocado, two different types of shrimp, cucumber, a homemade spicy mayo sauce, specially seasoned, steamed rice and more. I started to pick up a fork because my hands were too shaky to try and use chopsticks. Lee came running over and said, "ok, now I'm going to teach you like you did with me and the piano." He said Sushi is only to be eaten with chop sticks or your hands... never with a fork. He handed me cheater chopsticks made with a rubber band and board between the sticks. Hell, I love to eat with my hands, I prefer that over a fork! The meal was excellent! I told Lee about a great Sushi meal I had only once before about ten years ago in Philadelphia and how I never forgot it. He said I would not only... never forget his meal, I'll dream about it. Lol... no kidding, he was right.
I enjoyed how he sold the restaurant with pride in saying things like "In Winchester there is my restaurant, and then all the others start as the cream..." as in his restaurant is the cherry on top of all others. I believe him. The meal cost only $10.95 for customers and that could not be more reasonable. I had not eaten today and I was fully filled from it! Then I was treated to a healthy drink made of honey, ginger and a blend of green tea. He handed me $20 bucks for gas as I was leaving. Can you believe this? Before leaving I met Bubba and Nemo the most popular fish in Virginia. Bubba came over to show off and gave Lee a kiss through the glass. If you know me from this blog or meeting me in person you know how much gratitude I have for people like this who randomly extend themselves to strangers. Here is the link to the Sucilee's House Of Thai , check it out... Lee is getting a piano for his restaurant. I told him to email me and if I am in the area I will come and break it in for him. I found out that bands now play in some places and get paid per song. Thats a new one on me. Anyway, I appreciate being able to give to givers... I totally appreciate this. How could I not? Giving for the sake of giving... it does not get better. Before leaving Winchester I was near a movie theater so I checked out what was playing and ended up getting a ticket to see the movie Interstellar, senior citizen price. Ha, I can pass for sixty five years old these days! Yikes... oh yea, there's a full moon out with strong clouds.
November 05, 2014
The weather is grey again. Mo helps me to keep going everyday with his humor and playfulness. I've been writing specifics about Mo in blog posts while the thoughts are on my mind. Mo has a healthy resistance that can be hilarious. For example, I can call for him to come to me and if he's in the mood for resistance, he starts wagging what little tail exists because he wants me to go get him by grabbing his front legs to playfully drag him across the floor while he creates a dead weight. Its really very funny. Sometimes if he jumps into my lap for a hug, he sticks all four legs straight out against me to push away while at the same time wanting me to force him into the hug. A most striking characteristic is his dry humor. When he's in my lap and I comedically talk to him messing around, he drops into a dead pan face and stares at me with no reaction because he knows I want him to respond. He assumes a blank expression with an impassively matter-of-fact look. We also have stare downs right into each others eyes sometimes less than a foot away from each other. He usually wins. They can last up to five minutes each. He tries to call my bluff to test my limits with say, going to grab a treat from my hand or jumping up at me to simply be obnoxious. If I act like I'm going to hit him with his attempt, he will take the hit to see how far I will go. Its all in fun. Emotionally with people on the Traveling Piano truck, sometimes he needs attention over me and there's no stopping his trying to get it. Physically, he's like me and this journey. Mo loves to sprint. He'll be walking and then suddenly sprint into a run with wild abandon taking off like a jack rabbit and not for any specific reason. When I say "like me and this journey," more and more I find myself sedentary for a spell and then once I get going, I jump into action making up for what might have been considered lost time. I don't gradually pickup speed with anything. I jump into whatever and then work like a wild thing until I'm done and then plop back down to rest. I keep telling myself that I'm getting ready all the time, I'm working my way into moving on, preparing but the truth is... I reach a point and then just jump into the work every time.
November 04, 2014
Cacapon State Park, West Virginia
The temperature outside today was about seventy and it was sunny. Nothing was going to keep me inside. We drove to the park where I recorded some amazing music for over an hour. When I finished creating the music, I realized I forgot to press the start button for the recording. Absolutely hate when that happens! Anyway, while I was creating music I noticed two hikers in the distance up in the mountains. They found a bench up there that sits overlooking the area down where I was. It is always enjoyable when people find us and I can sit and see them trying to figure out what they are seeing and hearing from a distance. Lol, because I know the wonder they are experiencing and get to enjoy it with them. After a while I saw they had made their way to the bottom and were exploring the waters edge around the lake in front of Mo and I.
I figured they were kids the way they were moving around and knew eventually they would find their way to us. They did and it turned out they were an older couple. We has some fun together. Even though I was happy to have all that space and time to myself, I cannot understand why there were not hundreds of people in this park after work on such a beautiful day when winter is so near. On the back to where we are staying I stopped at a small market to get some bread. A mom works there and her two children hang around while she works. I've seen that before in this area where kids go to work with their mom. I heard the youngest girl gasp to her mom, "its the piano man." Of course I had to acknowledge her interest, we all got talking, they have an interest in the piano, have seen me in the past but were to shy to approach Mo and I... within minutes I was taking the cover back off the truck and we had some fun between customers.
November 03, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Nice day today, I feel the need to take advantage of every nice day so I ventured outside and nope... not ready yet, still too weak, don't want to push it. The leaves on the ground are perfect, not crunched up yet all crisp and brown with tons of texture. The tones of brown with leaves still on trees, they are the most vibrant I've ever seen. Mo and I played a little bit, he's very smart and funny. From the age of six months we have played a jumping game where I wave a stick around and he jumps up and down trying to get it. Of course there are times when I let him win. And then there are other times where he decides if he can't get the stick from the air he will go for the source... me. He starts jumping on me to try and take me down to get to the stick.
November 02, 2014
So I have a cold. Part of me wants to call it a flu. (the dramatic part) Part of me wants to say I need to stay in bed and drink lots of liquids (which I have been doing) and that I cannot go outside because of it. The reality is that I want to burrow in my temporary nest and the cold is a great excuse. I really don't want to see people or interact or anything. Its too cold outside anyway. I'm not isolating because I'm depressed but I think maybe because I know I'll be moving on again soon and need to... can't think of the word... build up my umph? I do feel a need to be connected with people all the time. Not specific people but people in the world, in general. Television used to supply that need, the feeling of knowing people were sitting down at the same time everywhere to watch a show... now its the news online. People constantly connect to read the same shit together. Lol, gotta change that. The social online timelines are not personal enough for me to garner any satisfaction. People are too one dimensional in personality via social networks.
I want to document more about Mo. We are connected physically at lease half of everyday. As I sit in the recliner to do computer work, he's between my legs. Often while driving, he is leaning up against me, at night sleeping he's with me as I mentioned yesterday. He is as docile, submissive and tender as a dog can be in my arms and yet when playing... as pushy, crazy, uninhibited and obnoxious as can be but also considerate. He shares. Mo is interested. He trusts me to physically handle him 100%. He's never snapped with his mouth at me. When he gets too crazy because he sees someone he knows or someone is coming to the door... I pick him up and hold him from under his front legs and he becomes completely passive. He becomes paralyzed, lol. Sometimes his heart is beating 100 miles an hour but physically... nothing. Holding him like that for only a minute helps him get a grip on his crazy dogginess.
November 01, 2014
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
I've been nursing whatever it is I caught, a flu/cold and enjoying taking it easy. Outside it is gloomy, I have candles going and a heater buy my side with lots of water. It has been amazing to me how much drizzle and clouds there have been over the last month but little rain so of course the water has been dribbling through the sink faucet as the water well is basically dry where I've been staying. Mo, what a fantastic gift he is in my life. His companionship fulfills me. Really, I enjoy people and everything else in life but our bond gives me a feeling of never being alone. He does nothing that he does not want to do. In fact will rebel to death if ever someone tried to force him into anything. Everything he does is because he wants to. I trust his love of me 99% as does likewise. Ha, there is no such thing as 100%, thats an illusion. He often sleeps in bed with me and starts under the covers down by my feet. Once I turn on my side he slides up along my back and stretches full length as a warm back support. Sometimes, I just need to sleep by myself so before I get into bed I spend about five minutes with him cuddling and smothering him. That does the trick. After that he doesn't even want to get into the bed and simply plops into the recliner for the night.