I tend to pull most of my thoughts and words from a place
that is (for me) intangible. A location that I am never quite able to reach,
but all the while am floating upon. A place with no name / no address / no city
/ no state / no country. A place that I presume exists in each and every one of
us. Now, whether or not we ALL speak from it’s corner, from time to time, is
dependent on the individual. This corner is the same that can cause one to
fatigue and tire from it’s relentless and often time non-sensical battering.
As of late I have lived on it’s sidewalk, in constant observation of it’s ever rotating contents, a cast of faces, both strangers and non, but I grow so tired of it. It rips from my hands every ounce of energy that I don’t possess after a day of running here and there, fixing this and those, conversation and cooking, cleaning and singing, the pull and poise.
Yesterday found me inside of a car, steering rapidly through traffic, making my way across the interstate from Las Vegas to the valley of the Wasatch Mountains. This stretch of nearly 400 miles gave me a bit of time to think on the said place from which I have found myself. It is nothing new to say that life twists / tears / breaks and (from time to time) steals the minute difference that differentiates a man from a beast, and as the years have taken me all the way from birth to the current I have found it harder and harder to not let that twisting/breaking/bending element of existence keep me from that corner. As we pulled up over the ridge that sits on top of the city of Fillmore, that expansive view of the mountain range that sat firmly and quietly to the east, I found myself, albeit brief, letting the majesty of the mountains replace “the twist” of my mind. All my thought released, slipped through my ears and out the backseat window. I felt ALL RIGHT, and between you and me, “ALL RIGHT” is all right with me.
[I know I was going somewhere with this.]
[Yes, yes, I was.]
As this place that I explained earlier has been my location of breathing / living / existing throughout the last six months of my life I wanted to (today) escape from it and just talk / type / thing about things that “feel” light, things that feel “all right”
One thing that just never quite computed with me was the concept of arrival, be it of knowledge, faith, love, mind, body, and on and on. The arrival (personally speaking) of any thing such as this seems to not exist. I don’t ever see myself arriving to the point where I say / feel / communicate that
“YES, YES HERE I AM.
I FEEL THAT THIS IS IT.
THERE IS NO MORE TO BE LEARNED FROM MY LOVER / PARENT / GOD / ROAD / FRIEND / LESSON.”
I hope to die searching.
(So much for the “lightness” of the (one-way) conversation)
Over the last two months, every night, after the babes have
laid down for the evening and the sun has fallen behind the western side of the
mountains my lover and I seat ourselves down at the table, and with the minuscule
amount of energy that our bodies provide for the remainder of the day / night
we find connection through craft.
This can come through in many forms.
Sometimes it’s sewing.
Sometimes its shaker making (We hollow out an ornamental gourd from the previous year’s garden harvest and fill it with rice, lentils, beans, etc, and then paint it)
Sometimes it’s letter writing.
Sometimes it’s acrylic painting.
Sometimes (and often times) it’s stamp making.
BUNNIES in “blood” red.
Shirts for Little Bodies / Bunnies
Be Kind or Die / Skull Face
Be Kind / Backwards.
Stampin’ Sunday / Get REAL.
An Egg a Day / GET REAL.
I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. I attended a (at the time)
new elementary school.
Julius Humann Elementary.
At this particular elementary school the art teacher was one that was passionate about what he did. He, through his teaching and unwavering artistic example, showed us children that ART can heal a heart, a break, a body, a mind.
It wasn’t until the 5th grade came around that I was introduced to “Lino Cutting”. If you have never heard of it, let me tell you that I find it EXTREMEly gratifying and fulfilling. Maybe it is the CUTTING of something that I enjoy, the removal of a certain part of the linoleum to show the part that I want to be seen by the rest, not much unlike US (humans).
For the remainder of the 5th grade school year and into the following year I was a linoleum cuttin’ advocate. I couldn’t wait for Art Class to come around so that I could sit in my seat and carve my minds contents into linoleum. As the end of the 6th grade rapidly approached my mind turned to different things. Summer things. Things of the opposite sex. Things that had nothing to do with linoleum. And as quickly as the “lino-cutting” practice entered my life it exited, and it wasn’t for MANY, many years that I was re-introduced to the process.
This past Christmas I bought my lady a book on stamp making.
She had expressed an interest in making a return address stamp as to avoid the
constant writing of the same address time and time again. I purchased the book and didn’t think
much about it. As December 27th rolled around, after the lights and
trees and sentimental decorations have been placed in their 11-month tomb, we
got the book out one night and started reading through it. The feelings of
excitement, once again, returned to my mind. I remembered the carving, the
cutting, the expression that comes with that little linoleum-cutting tool that
I had used (oh) so many years ago.
Over the next couple of months it wasn’t uncommon to find us (Emma and I) huddled around the table, listening to George Jones and Tammy Wynette, carving, little by little, at a block of linoleum that would eventually stamp out our final dreams / nightmares / ideas. Through the carving and communion with each other it seemed to bring us a touch closer and help us see through the quickly rising and fading days, as they seem to blend one into another (OH, how it can become quickly fuzzy).
Therapeutic findings in Lino-Cutting has proven to help my
I am fine / moving / breathing / through for the moment.
Joshua (a wolf)
A sound of dire need came screaming from the room adjacentto that in which I find most of my sleep. My baby boy had risen from the morning’s sleep and was making it known that he was ready for the day to begin. My eyes were having a hard time adjusting on the floor below. Each step felt heavier and more disorienting as I felt my way around the bed to head into Ollie’s room, the morning’s normal routine had been altered due to the late night that had put me into sleeping position at around 3:30 AM. A string of life living and altering events had got me to this point and for that I was appreciative, though I could’ve done with a bit more sleep.
St. Patrick’s Day, from what I understand, is a celebration
of the entering of Christianity into Ireland, a life altering and cultural
shift for many in the early rise of Christian traditions. Celebrations often
include parties, parades, and the wearing of green clothing and or shamrocks,
which are three leaved plants (representing the holy trinity). For some it is
another day in the race to the finish, a day at the office, a small foot note
on their already over scheduled calendar that hangs on the right side of the
fridge. I never paid much mind to the day of St. Patrick; maybe it was my lack
of interest in the connotations that accompanied the said holiday. The gluttony
and cirrhosis styled drinking that one would willingly put upon themselves rose
a bright red “retreat” flag and I never found myself too akin to the tradition
and celebration. Five days ago was St. Patrick’s Day. Here in Utah, at least in
the area surrounding Willamette MTN, there isn’t too much of a “Luck O’ The
Irish” crowd. I didn’t see stumbling drunkards at the pub or half dressed
middle aged women with strings of beads around their necks singing “Irish
Rover” at the top of their lungs. No, for the most part it was a beautiful
sunny day in which seeds were in the need of being planted.
Beets and Carrots / Mama & Ollie
The planting of 2 rows of Happy Jack Kale, 2 rows of Blue Kale, 2 rows of Detroit Red Dark Beets, 1 row of Golden Beets, 1 row of Cylindra Beets and 4 rows of various carrots was all in the morning’s chores that beautiful St. Patrick Day. There was trimming of fruit trees, filling of animal water feeders, checking on baby chick status (of the Glliformes Order) and other “tidy up” jobs as the approaching season comes closer. This is the season that is ALL consuming for me. It is a work intensive couple of months as all of the plants are watched and watered, trying to give each plant a fighting chance against the odds of destruction. Our wearing of green, here at Willamette MTN, consisted of Dandelion Root, Bull Thistle, Houndstongue, Field Blindweed, Yarrow, Crabgrass, Stinkgrass, Quackgrass, and a whole slue of other weeds that are in constant fight for their survival in the Land Of Cauliflower that resides in our back lot. After the “crops for the day” had been put into the ground and the chores had been completed it was nearly 5 o clock in the afternoon, our bodies felt achy and a rest was in order. There were soft rumors floating around the group of friends that we hold close, leading us to think that there might be a celebration in the works for the day of St. Patrick. Sure enough the party was set in motion. A potluck style gathering that would start at 8pm. The hours ticked by until the small hand hit the 8. Friends gathered inside of Willamette MTN, discussing their current life joys, stresses, struggles and triumphs. Food and drink scattered the kitchen counter and the sounds of laughter filled the MTN, it felt good to be near them.
As we sat around talking of this and that I glanced over to
Emma as she was making a startling face. She gave me a grin and with very
little concern on her face softly spoke: “Uh…my water just broke.”
The feeling of excitement held firmly to her cousin, fear.
It had arrived (the day / the hour) in which our second child would be born. We called the midwife as the gang helped get the kitchen in order. There was a celebration and it was a celebration that was IN ORDER this beautiful St. Patrick’s Day night.
The childbearing woman. Something I can’t properly describe
(my feelings on the subject). My lover and companion in this wickedly wild
journey of living has shown me twice now the POWER in which she has been
created. The ability to conceive, grow and birth a living human being is within
her. It is something that I have a difficult time in wrapping my head around.
As the waves of contraction would take over her being Emma, with each passing
swell, drew closer and closer to the arrival of our baby girl, Millie. At 4:32
AM, March 18th, 2015 this beautiful, tiny human being arrived in our
bedroom. Breathing and healthy, vibrant and beautiful. The surge of emotion was
almost more than my fatigued mind could take.
Life shifts. There are times where I feel that I am in the seat that controls the direction.
Life shifts. I think much less in those regards.
Life shifts. I find it liberating.
That disorienting, beautiful, confusing, breath-taking Thursday was a whirlwind. I hardly recall the events of the day. Baby. Breathe. Mama. Sleep. No sleep. Baby. Confusion. Elation. Devastation. Amazement.
My Girls / Emma & Millie
The Wednesday that Millie was born I was scheduled, with my
partner in this musical journey that I am on, Evan, to fly to San Francisco to
play two shows. The shows weren’t until Thursday and Friday night. With the
MASSIVE support of this incredible woman in my life I was able to make a quick
trip to California to sing for two WONDERFUL crowds of people in San Francisco
and Santa Cruz (or just outside of Santa Cruz). Both experiences were wonderful
and slightly exhausting. My mind wasn’t there (in California), but rather back
with the girls and boy that sleep in the same house as me. The madness
continued as we flew back to Utah to play that night in Salt Lake City
It doesn’t stop.
Life shifts. But, it doesn’t stop.
Take it in stride. Slow is OK. Not ALL done, is OK.
Playing in a Snail-shaped House / Outside Santa Cruz / California
Oliver & Millie / Californian Wine
It can be tiresome. It can be amazing.
But it doesn’t stop.
Here is to old life.
Here is to new life.
Here is to the Grandmother.
Here is to the newborn.
Here is to the dream.
Here is to the nightmare.
Here is to the fertile.
Here is to the baron.
Mine Is such a light load, but the weight can feel heavy.
Walking across Hwy 2 in Lincoln, Nebraska can strike fearinto the steadiest of legs and firmest of hearts. It is 4-lane highway that stretches across the capital city of the heartland’s state. It also was the well-frequented route of kids returning home from their allotted time served at Pound Middle School. This said route was the one that I would wander across, as I would return home from school. It would be prudent to make known the winter’s preferred environment in that city was slick roads and snowy drifts, and it was right in the middle of this type of weather. I could barely gather my footing along the sidewalk that lead to Hwy 2. As I got to the crosswalk the snow was falling to the point of blindness. The crosswalk beeped and showed a dimly lit walking man on the light pole across the hwy. I started across and from the right of me I could see headlights moving much too quick to be stopping at the stoplight.
The car was sliding, with speed, across the intersection right toward me. I was 2 feet away from the vehicle as it squealed with intention of stopping right to my side. The man rolled down his window and with sincerity remarked:
“Geezus, it sure is icy on these roads t’day. You Ok, kid?”
“Yea…I’m ok..” I replied as I kept walking across the hwy.
I made it the rest of the way safely and was left with my overly working heart and barely working brain. Every thought of algebraic equations and taxation without representation had flown the proverbial coop (my mind) and was replaced with thoughts of “What if..” or “How will it feel…?” and “What happens when…?”
Thinking back about the event from an older man’s brain I am sure that much of my fear and recall has been blown out of proportion, much like an Alaskan fishing trip, to the point of thinking that things happened “bigger” than they really did. All that being said the sentiment of what I felt that winter’s day has stayed with me long after the snow melted and turned into spring.
I couldn’t help but think about how it is I will go / die / decay. What event will claim my heart and brain?
Moon Gazers / Fire Friends.
Three nights ago I was able to see a fantastic friend /
singer / searcher perform in downtown Salt Lake City, before going to the show
Emma and I had the fortune of going to Chanon Thai located off of 900 s. in
Salt Lake. The wait was long and the post-order delivery even longer. This gave
time for us to talk (really talk. This can become infrequent). Somehow the
theme of “what will you do when I die?” came up. We talked about our wills and our
desires of what we would want to have happen when we pass through, into the
great black Nothing. It seems we move around in such a lighting pace, we can
barely even conceptualize the fact that one day we won’t be (moving around, at
all.) The preparation for the inevitable day is one of the last things to cross
my mind. The theme seemed dark, but it felt good to have my lover know what it
was I would want when I died. How I would want to be buried. What could be done
with the animals, etc. We finished dinner and ran off to the State Room to see
Gregory Alan Isakov sing to a sold out crowd of onlookers. Brilliant he is.
Sunday rolled around and my mind had been scattering itself all night. Little sleep. Partly due to the talk of death, and partly because of my shoulder’s inability to re-cooperate swiftly enough after pulling a ligament during a beginners class to Yoga (oh, the body, the beautiful and ever-weakening frame o mine).
Ollie-VER / Table Dancing.
Goat Sheering / / Shirley
5 am rolled around and it was up and to the table. Computer out. Google search: “Making your own will and testament”. As you can imagine there are hundreds of sites that were pulled from the inner workings of the Internet. As I scowered through site after site I settled on one that fit Utah laws and was (seemingly) quick and easy. It didn’t hurt that the cost was $0. I put in the proper information and printed out the document. Needing to have two witnesses when I sign it I decided to leave it on the breakfast table, figured it would be a good pancake eating conversation starter.
“…Good morning, babe…uh…Joshua? What is this?”
Perfect start to a Sunday.
Sunday Morning and In Love
The whole rest of the day I was transfixed on Death and the preparation of her inevitable visit. I came to the conclusion that that night I would dress myself in black, paint my face and sit down at the table to write what it was I wanted at my “departing fiesta”. Where I wanted to be buried. Who would be getting my whittling knife kit, and the list goes on. I made mention of my plans for the evening, and though there was a little confusion in the acceptance of an invitation to the table of “death preparation” I think that it sank in that it would be something that might help with those that would take up the responsibility of relocating your dead weight. And so, around 7pm, as Emma was finishing up on a new granola recipe that she had been “tagged” for in the confusing world of Pinterest, I dressed in all black, painted my eyes and sat down at the table. Emma looked over at me and with the same playful smile that I fell in with said: “You have grown strange.” On the stereo we played songs such as “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths, “Knockin on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan, “The Great Gig In The Sky” by Pink Floyd, “King’s Crossing” by Elliott Smith and “Life Goes On” by 2Pac. We scribbled down our last wishes as songs about death were being sung pleasantly on the turntable.
On My Own Death / Version One.
Lovers in Life
What started out as a silly death based date night around the kitchen table turned out to become a highly enjoyable conversation on how, if given the choice, we would go. A thought on what song we would want our friends and family to hear as they were in gathering after our passing. Who gets the goats?
Plant my ashes with a tree.
Don’t wear black.
To remember the dead is for the living.
Give my guitars to Evan.
Funerals ain’t for me; I suppose they never were for the dead.
Listen to Sam Cooke.
Listen to Grease (1) Soundtrack.
Don’t listen to Grease (2) Soundtrack.
Tell my babies to LIVE.
Some reading and recipes for the week:
In Case Of Emergency Document
Live a good life. Have a good death
(grim? probably. SO BE IT)
Joshua (another wolf in the world)