TOUR 2007

"This Old House: 1213 Shenandoah Road"

This year was all about rebuilding the house, so there's not much to say about the music, though I played a bit, as always. But the essense of the plan is to focus on one job at a time for a while and get these big jobs done and behind me so I can return to my old life, focused on performing. I also again have a lack of pictures, because I just use video more, though I am not sure yet how to include it in this. That is a project for the future.
I'll still try to cover the story of the year, since that is what I have been doing so long. I'll have to backtrack slightly with the end of the 2006 tour journal:

I arrived in mid-October, the earliest I've ever come, expecting to dive right in to the job and have it done in a couple months, then work on the recording the new CDs. I had enough cash to get the credit-card debts from buying the audio and video gear down to the last couple thousand dollars. One more year should finish that long hard job. And I still have the gold I dug to pay for the new CDs when they come, though I have to sell the gold first, the pirce just keeps going up, so it is ok.

I was starting on the biggest job at 1213 first, remodelling the old kitchen-laundryroom-diningroom area that was literally rotting away in spots. I actually started the job before I left for Alaska, planning and drawing up specifications, figuring out the job. I planned to return early directly from Alaska, without my usual stops in Montana and Seattle. This was the real start of the change in focus in my time and energy, coming back here in mid-October. I expected to return just before the cabinets arrived, ordered while I was gone. Instead, it was quite the fiasco. It seems I am really need to keep the project in order. The cabinets weren't almost here on my return, as expected. At the end of the first week, I was halfway through tearing out the old kitchen. I am sitting down with my friend Peter, a master electrician, talking about what to do about re-wiring, when I realize that the printed diagram of the cabinets provided by the store doesn't match the room.. windows in the wrong place, things aren't right. The next day I am frantically focused on figuring out what is going on, what happened. The cabinets hadn't been ordered to my specs, instead, someone from the store came in to measure, and ended up with windows improperly placed and cabinets that were too tall for the ceiling in the room! I head to the store thinking these mis-ordered cabinets will be arriving any day, and find out that somehow they were never even ordered! Well, at least we didn't have to deal with getting and returning the wrong cabinets, but now it would be 6 weeks till the cabinets would be ready.
I had to re-think the whole plan, try to turn it all to my advantage. I decided to do a total job, redo the entire wiring in the room while it was gutted, the best way of course, and replce the old 1960's breaker panel with a new larger 200 amp panel, and run the exterior power and communication lines underground. It also turned out I needed all the extra time and more. As I continued clearing out the room, I discover the rot had progressed into the floor and walls, So the delay gave me time to replace the floor, and jack up the walls to replace the sills and bottom couple feet of sheathing, or entire sections of wall. It turned into a massive job that would take all winter. At that point, however, I was just trying to get the walls closed back in and a floor down so we could celebrate the holidays as the New Year approached. I managed to get everything sealed up and a temporary floor nailed down just in time to break for the holidays, clean up the house a bit, raise the tree and celebrate with my relatives and friends.We have a great tight little community here in Tauxemnont. For New Years, I was at the community party, playing the dulcimer as the entertainment.

I tried to get some small projects happening in the evenings, make some small progress besides this consuming job on the house. I did manage a number of small projects. My brother helped me raise a small woodshed out back while he was visiting during the holidays. I starting the pickup winder. I built a website for my ma, a working actress. Though all told, it is hard to recall. I was immersed in the work, and the knowledge that I would be hard pressed to complete the job by Spring. But it had to be done, certainly. The new year came and I fell into a haze of work that would take me through the winter and on into the beginning of 2007.

So I continued to work on the house though the Winter and into the Spring. I can't begin to describe all the details in such huge job, in fact, I can't really remember it all, but I did it. I replaced the underfloor completely, I replaced the bottom of the walls. With Peter, I drew up and installed completely new wiring and every bit of the electric service: boxes, outlets, and switches. There was digging the ditch and putting the power and communication lines underground, and installing the new panel, rerouting the cable and phone lines as well. Plumbing lines, gas lines, on and on and on it went. Then new insulation and sheetrock and paint, and then one day I was finally installing cabinets and new appliances. We had another dropped ball with the countertop order at Lowes, luckily I was wary and called to find out why no one was calling, and the reason was they'd spaced-out our order once again. A lot of craziness working with those people. Finally the day came for the countertops to be installed, and with that, the new sink. The kitchen at that point was at least functional, though the final flooring wasn't laid down yet, and neither was any of the trim work done. In the Spring I was busy replacing the furnace and AC unit in the temperate period between the cold of winter and the heat of summer, when the woodstove was enough.

I got out and played a few times, just to stay sane. I tried getting out to some of the musician groups. I really don't have time to get out much, but I go to a few hoping to meet other musicians I can jam with or even collaborate with on the upcoming recordings, or just socialize with other artists. In my life there have been only a few times I have gone long periods without performing somewhere. Though that is part of the plan. Another part is playing more with other people. One of the things I miss most is playing with other people, and I love to jam, love to sing harmony. But I have spent my life almost always playing solo. At the house I would play the piano and the guitar, and really focused on getting more of my originals finished and ready to record. I realize that if I can write a few new ones, I'll have enough for two CDs of originals instead of one, a nice goal. One of the groups I went to was a Singer-Songwriter meetup, which was interesting. Though all and all, I didn't have time to make it out much, the house is just too big a job and I can't get distracted. But it was interesting that one reason I was able to even go to these meetups was that I wasn't performing.

Of course, the house would have been more than enough, but other things came up. I designed and built a web-site for my cousin, setting up the domain and all, mostly working late at night when I should have been sleeping. While I was working on things down in the crawl-space, ma came home from shopping and didn't even look and feel right into the open trap door, gouging her shin to the bone. We were at the hosptital till 4 am. It got infected, and I was back to memories of a couple years back, nursing ma, shuttling to doctor appointments. I look back and I'm just hard put to really figure out how I did it all. I use a lot of lists. Or maybe the lack of sleep is why I can't remember much! I look in my journal and find I really didn't even write much, and when I did it is often a barely legible scrawl that often enough ends with "I am too tired to write..." It also means I finally finished assembling the pickup coil winder late one night, plugged it in, hit the switch, and hadn't noticed that I'd shifted it too near the edge of the table. It swung around once and hit the table, breaking the gearhead on the motor. A stupid error from simply trying to do too much. So I was back to ordering parts, and redesigning, since it was a surplus motor that couldn't be replaced, unfortunately. The new design is more modular, though I never had time to build it this year. Only so much I could do, and there were so many real priorities. There's occasionally a window of opportunity when the house job has me waiting for a little, and not enough time to start a different project on the house. Then the time is gone and back at it again.
I am used to juggling, perfect timing, balance, a moment of perfect effort and it back up in the air and I'm getting ready for the next pin falling. I'm good at pulling things off, but getting it done just on time, which means just in time, can sometimes be tough.. sometime you drop a pin, and you can't just stop right then to pick it back up. And generally, well, I've been doing it so long, and pulling it off so long, that I don't get worried. And I've had things not work out or have had make new plans often enough that that isn't a big deal either. But other times, I'll start to wonder if it will work out smooth, or if I'll be scrambling, or well, fail.. sometimes you do, that's the way it goes, and you keep on trying, but its still a pain I want to avoid.

It was also getting into June, and I was getting concerned about dealing with the boats in Florida and getting back and ready to leave for Alaska. I had to do something about the Hurley. The lease on the land it was parked on would be up in July, so I had to go and move the boat and trailer somewhere. I wasn't sure where, but I needed to do it as quickly as possible and get back to 1213. Finally I packed up the tools in the van and headed for Florida June 13th, just after the furnace and AC replacement was done.

"What a Man Can Do: Stage 3"

I headed to Gainesville for a week visit first, feeling bad about spending so little time visiting Dad this year, but knowing that this was the plan I'd chosen and I had to follow it through. I needed to make this as quick a trip as I could, and see if I could get back to 1213 and complete the floor before I had to leave for Alaska. I didn't know how long this would take, or even just what I was going to do, but I knew I had just a few weeks before I'd have to be back at 1213 and packing for Alaska. I had my ticket for July 17th, and was expected already at the Deltana Fair and Tanana after that.

The short time I spent in Gainesville turned out to be very productive and positive, though also troubling. During the Day I was helping Dad with chors around the house. Dad's eye trouble was macular degeneration, and would eventually leave him with just peripheral vision. Actually, not so bad, but he'd lose the ability to drive and read. But the treatments were still working, so I wasn't needed yet. I had always planned to possibly spend more time here, as I'd promised Dad when he started his second family that I'd be there to take his kids camping etc if he was too old when they reached their teens. He'd told me last year that hes camping days were done, though it also wasn't so obvious that the kids wanted to go hiking or canoeing or sailing like I had. Now the macular dageneration problem coincided with this older promise to make me deide to relocate to Gainesville for the next few years, both for the kids and for Dad. Though his wife can drive, she also works, and really, it is as much about quality of life as nescessity. If I plan it right, it won't get in my way to be around a lot. Which means if Dad wants to go somewhere, or the kids, then I am there, ready to go, taking some of the irritation out of his being unable to drive. In a few years, my half-brother will be able to drive, and he can take over. By the time he is ready to go off to college, my half-sister will be driving.

Its been a long time since I had to roll into a new town and prove myself, meet up with all the old hands and young guns and show I'm the real thing. It was an old story in my life, too, these strange scenes I go through, almost like I'm in a play, except I never know exactly how its going to go. I can be anywahere, really, in a bind or just looking for something to show, and I get out the dulcimer and things happen, good things, great things, improbable things, strange and wonderful scenes, like there's some crazy magic in the dulci when I play and sing. It happens even when I'm just singing, sometimes. I supose that's why I have done it so much, followed it, because it seems like the right thing to do, because when I do, things go right. And since I have a hard time really dealing with a world that doesn't make much sense from where I sit, and since I have a hard time explaining generally, I'll just say that doing what is right is, well, what I do.

Well, either that made perfect sense or its just really late at night and I should be sleeping, not writing an update. No matter, with all this in mind, I went off to a local open mike/porch jam place in town. I'd had fun there last year. This year was better. It was a blues jam the first night, but I had to sit outside in the back with the dulci because it was too loud for my ears inside (a usual thing with me). I tuned up then jammed a bit during a quiet moment and met a couple guys who happened to have a local recording studio, and asked me to come on by and talk. Later, I did, and helped by tuning a Koto they had there. It seems like what I am looking for. They are a central network for local musicians, and I can trade session time to them for help finding and recording local musicians to add to my mixes. Pretty cool all told. The next night I was back and thought I might do the open mike thing inside, but what I really wanted to do was jam on the prch with people. Sometimes the dulci is just too big, a distraction and intimidating to people. The guitar is familiar and easy to follow, so I left the dulci in the rig and grabbed the guitar. I was having a good time singing the blues when a guy came over from the other end and asked if I was looking for gigs. I said I was just passing through but planned to be back the next year and start spending time here, so I was interested in the long run. But I said that before he left, I should show him the dulci, so I got it out, then the cat was out of the bag, so to speak. I spent the rest of the evening jammed with folks there, till the place closed and it was time to go. Of course, there was a beautiful woman sitting across from me, singing and playing the drum, but I'll never have a chance to get to know her, though she'd trouble my dreams for weeks to come. Another scene I have been through too many times, and I know it is really a dream and the hope that springs eternal, and not her fault, not real, just that lonely, longing, crazy heart of mine, my heart and spirit and mind and body, all still searching for the love I've never found.
I was invited to a Solstice party on a farm north of town by a drummer I met at the jam who remembered me from the folkfest the year before, but the next day I was headed south to get to work on the boats. Maybe it was just realizing that I had to stay on the path I was on, and though the music had started all the doors openning, I didn't have time for them now. I had things to do, and I woud be back. Also that is was a party, and I don't have time just to have fun, not right then, though it was a music contact and there would be a big jam and a opportunity to meet musicians, still, it isn't so simple. I do great relating with people musically, on stage or on the street. I like talking with people too, and do whenever the opportunity arrises for conversation. Yet I am not used to going to parties, it is something I have seldom done, and if I'm not playing music I am often lost. I can be the life of a party, yet I am not really there with them as for them. Playing for the people, serving them, but I am in my own world still, not of their world, and when its over, I'll be going on my way again. We are not on the same road, just crossing paths, and it makes it hard sometimes. Playing music insulates me from the details of lives and roads, meeting people on some essential level of heart and soul and humanity that transends such things, transends even time and space. That is my world, the one I live in, but it is not theirs, and that simple fact keeps me an stranger. Maybe too it was meeting that girl, it always leaves me feeling upset, wondering why I have never met someone, why I have to live this life alone. Maybe I was afraid I'd meet her again, and make it worse, or meet another girl, and still, I'd be going away the next day. I can't change the fundamentals of my life and being, the road I'm on, that I have chosen and has been chosen for me. The music is my life, and the Way, and that is that, but I'm not always happy about it.

I arrived in Stuart to find that the craziness was somehow endemic to the region. This time I returned to find a sailboat about the size of mine tied off the stern of my boat. Not a good idea, since in the battle of winds and tides they were sure to wrap up, bash and bump. This is bad for my steel boat's paint, and very bad for whatever boat it is bashing against. The rumor line told me it hadn't been there long, luckily. Then I headed for Hobe Sound and the Hurley, to see what was up there, and just have a place to sleep. Often it is hard enough just to find a place I can feel safe just to park and sleep undisturbed.
It was funny to see the Hurley all but smothered in vines again, the jungles of Florida trying to take it back again. I waded in with the machete, and pretty soon I had cleared it off. While I did, I had to decide what job to tackle first and right then. I decided to get to work on Dueodde, so I still had to get the dingy, Percheron, off the trailer. I had to do somethng about that boat tied to the stern immediately, and once I was there, I should do everything I needed to do out there. Then I could return to work on the Hurley and be ready to go and keep going once I had the trailer hooked up to the van.
It is late June, hurricane season is on, the season of tropical storms and heat. It is going to be a hard trip here, besides the craziness, I'll be struggling to work through waves of thunderstorms and pouring rain, and blistering sultry heat in between. Even night gave little relief. One of the reasons I have to head north is that it just becomes impossible to live in a vehicle. The days are so hot, that even a night, a vehicle is too hot to sleep in. If you are in the wrong place, the mosquitos, gnats, and no-see-ums swarm so thick they find some way in somewhere. Without sleep, things get harder.

The first business was the boat tied astern. I went aboard, and couldn't find anything to identify the owner. In fact, it was sort of strange, with a toolbox and various parts left open, and the boat filling with rainwater. I could see they'd started to add some noce winches and such to the boat, then seemed to have abandoned it. As far as the heresay went, sthe boat had been dragging around the anchorage, then someone came and pulled the anchor up, took it and tied the boat to the stern of mine, and left. Craziness. So I did the only thing I could. Of course people told me I should just cut it adrift, but it is the same story as always, I can't blame the boat for the sins of the master, and to just cut it loose would be wrong. So I got my oldest, junkiest, but good enough anchor and chain and went and anchored the boat between me and shore in a good spot. I bailed out the accumulated rainwater and tried to make it as ship shape as I could. The rest is up to fate, amybe it will bew there when I come back ths year, maybe not. I am past caring after all the craziness I have encountered in that anchorage. Surrounded by such tremendous irresponsibility, a whole culture of irresponsibility that seems to have overtake America, I can only be responsible, because I am. It is a real problem, in a society that worships passing the buck. I believe that being responsible isn't just about taking responsibility for your actions, but in being responsible when someone has to act responsibly. It is doing what must be done when you come upon it, not worying about who is actually responsible for causing the situation. I cannot control other's behavior, and am not responsible for it, I can only be responsible for my own behavior.
Funny, a good example of that was when one of the boat owners came by the first day I was there. He needed to get out to his boat and bail it out. He offered to pay me to do it, but I said that I had too much to do, though if he came by when I had the dingy, I could give him a ride out. I never saw him again, but while I was working on my boat, and was stopped by pouring rain, I went over and bailed out his boat. He didn't know me well enough I guess, to know to just ask me instead of offerring me money. Or to know that even if he didn't, I would probably do it if I could. Just because it was the right thing to do, and as much, it was about my relationship with boats and the sea, not with the owners of the boats.
That night I tried to sleep in the van in my usual spot just outside the park, but it was impossible. I lay sweating, unable to sleep, while the bugs swarmed outside finding every crack. Finally I grabbed my blankets and took the dingy to the beach and rowed out to the boat to sleep on deck. I didn't even open the hatches this year, so there was no way to get below. But it was cool on the water, with a breeze, and only a couple mosquitos. I sleep an hour, maybe two, when I am wakened by a clap of thunder, and moments later, pouring rain. I grab my gear and row over to the boat I'd anchored astern and duck inside to wait it out. I head back into the van as the rain passes, and get inside the van just as it starts to pour again. I try to sleep, though there are mosquitos everywhere, from getting in and out. It is soon getting light and I can move into the park itself, and manage to get the dingy off the beach just as it starts to pour again. I crawl inside and sleep a few hours at last. So it goes.

I proceeded to do the normal upkeep on my boat, chip and paint the decks and cabintop to make it last till I could get time for real repairs. I was able to use a little inflatable kayak I got from Dad to get out to the boat. Then I was able leave the dingy tied off the stern of the boat so I wouldn't have to deal with bring it ashore every night. That also freed me to leave the park at night, and drive out of town to park by a canal in back of some fields. It was cooler, with a breeze coming down the canal from the water, a highway for the air. I would watch the storms moving across the sky, sometimes far off against the horizon, sometimes marching towards me as I tried to cook dinner. They are beautiful, and I love them, though they caused me a lot of trouble this time.
The sun is intense in mid-summer Florida, especially out on the water. The metal hull too hot to touch in just a couple hours. Still I chipped and sanded and then started to paint, timing everything with the storms. Sometimes I'd paint, then stop just in time for it to touch-dry before it rained. Then it would pass, the sun would come out, I'd wipe the boat down with alchohol and in minutes the boat was dry enough to start painting again. It was pretty crazy, storm after storm, not sleeping enough, not eating regularly, but I got it done.
It was a strange time, too, and stranger still because it happened so fast. I saw a few cool people, and friends on their boats. I had a great dinner with a couple god friends, a man and his daughter, both live-aboard sailors, each with their own boat now. I also got hassled by people who think we shouldn't be free to anchor in a public waterway. There's a local movement to drive out the cruising sailors and turn the public anchorages, the public waterways, into private marinas and moorings just for those who can afford them. There's more and more rich people who want a place to put their toy, and there's little private waterfront left. So they want to, in practical terms, privitize the public water and waterfront and turn it into private, "exclusive" enclaves. Thought it is actually unconstitutional, they want to keep making local anti-anchoring laws till there's no place left to anchor, unless you pay, to drive out the "undesirables". This is the ugly, hypocritical, fascist face of America, "Conform or get out". As a sailor, and a citizen, and a true patriot, I object to the hypocritical vendetta against freedom that's going on in America, against the freedoms and rights our country was founded on, and are written into tht constitution. I actually believe in and defend the constitution and the principles of this country, unlike these "patriotic" fascists. But fascists have always called themselves "patriotic". But is really comes down to the simple fact that we are either a nation of equal citizens with equal rights to liberty, or a class society where rights and liberty and freedom are reserved for those with money, and there rest of us are peons, to be excluded and I will be so glad to leave that place, and wish I had never stopped there in the first place. Though unfortunately, this attitude has spread through a lot of America, not just the Florida waterfront. Its just that as a sailor, I often end up in the places they want to exclude "my kind" from. Even though they are the irresponsible ones who do all the damage and then run off for handouts after the hurricane comes. At least when I am on land, I can go among the unpretentious people. It is no wonder I so often end upwhere there are few people at all, seeking out the public lands, where a citizen should be free to camp, if that is how you wish touse your liberty to pursue some happiness.. or at least, to feel free from persecution, free to make a cup of coffee or get a night's sleep, without someone coming to say you're not welcome, by look or by deed, that you are not a free and equal citizen, and the constitution, and the republic, are just idealistic dreams or hypocritical wallpaper over the ugly reality or a class society. So it goes.
As you can see, it is not just the problem of finding a place to exist, and get the work done I need to do despite the impediments, but to dea with my own anger and disgust. Eventually I am able to bridle my anger and subsude into a sullen hate of the evil behind these people. I cannot hate the people themselves, though they are the ones who chose irresponsibility or bigotry, who chose to abuse authority and shred the constitutional fabric of the republic. But I will always hate the evil they chose to embody. Even though I know, and have at times, managed to ease this hate from my being, despite the traumas of my life in the underclass. But eventually, the best I can do is to hate without anger, a cold, clear, brilliant light like the sun on polished steel. Where everything in me stands in opoosition to that evil, with compassion, with empathy, with compassion, but without sympathy.

Finally, I was back down at the relative peace and security of Hobe Sound. I had just a few days if I was going to make it back to Gainesville for their July 4th party. Before I tried to move the boat, I had decided I had to build a wooden cradle supporting the Hurley's hull so that the weight no longer rested so much on the keel alone. The keel is really meant to hang from the hull, not press upwards constantly. This was putting bad long-term stress on the hull, which could be serious in the bouncing and shaking of rolling down the road any serious distance. So I got out tools and got to work. I had enough salvaged wood to do the job, including some critical strips of heavy plywood from a dumpster I spotted on the way down. It was now so hot I could hardly sleep at night, especially if I drove the van that day and had the extra residual heat from the engine. I had to leave the hood open to help draw heat from the van, and shade it as much as I could during the day. Still, it was brutal. I powered through the job and got it done, hooked up the trailer and started strapping everything on and down. I almost made it out July 3rd, but another storm rolled in at mid-day. I didn't want to chance driving at night the first time I tried hauling the Hurley any distance, I wanted to be able to keep an eye on things. So I had to wait till morning to finish packing up. I stopped by Pendarvis Park to check the load and take a last look at Dueodde, then I headed north. I didn't get into Gainesville till pretty late in the evening, and the party was down to just a few folks. I almost made it, but there's only so mauch a man can do, especially when I was dealing with so much. One storm less and I would have made it, and been there. Though its not that I wanted to be there to party, but to play for their party, help make it a happening. But you can't have everything.

I stay a few days, looking for someplace to park the Hurley, but most places are full. As I look, I come to the conclusion that the best plan is to just keep on and haul the Hurly to Virginia. It was travelling well, and looked like no trouble. Once the Hurley was in Virginia, it was done for the moment. I could take it off the agenda and focus on the real priorities till I had time for it. In Virginia, it even gives me a chance to make progress on it if I have time, without any pressure to do so on any schedule. I could use a little relief from that pressure. The other side is it allows me to focus on Dueodde, which was the original plan when I put it in the boatyard so many years ago now. But then circumstances turned against me and I have been fighting to try just deal with them, get back to a place where I can make progress on real priorities, not deal with circumstances. On July 8th I am on the road headed north, ready to hit the ground running, a bit over a week before I have to be on the plane to Alaska.

"Troubled Waters"

I get to 1213 and clear a place to park the boat, that job is finally done, even if there is still a lot of work to do. It can rest easy here, and I can go on to other things. Which I do. I pack for Alaska, so I am ready. Then I get to work on the house again. With only days to go, I am hoping I can finish the sub-flooring so that the final flooring can be installed while I am in Alaksa. But it is not to be. As I reach the end wall, I discover that when they put in the new floor to ceiling picture window, they didn't replace the sill it rested on, as I had asked. They just set it on the rotten wood and covered it up with trim. There was no way I would have time to rebuild the wall, so I left the last few feet of floor undone, and screwed down a temporary floor of plywood, and it was time to go.

I arrive in Alaska again, and glad to be there as always. I call my friend Mark at the Cooperage and he comes by and picks me up at the airport and takes me to the new shop, introduces me to some friends. It is a beautiful evening. That "night" as I visit with him and Wendy I am able to start stringing up the dulcimer we built of local materials in his shop so many years ago. It is a fine thing to do while eating a couple tacos, then it is time to go again, off to the motel to wait all night for the 6 am bus to Delta Junction.

Though this was a nice beginning, it turned into a troubled summer. It is a hard story to tell. I have to take everything seriously when life is so delicately balanced, and justifying returning to Alaska every year is difficult, no matter my long term plans. And even those are just plans, and I never count on plans. But I do love Alaska, and it would hurt to see it slip away, as it has hurt to watch other dreams and plans slip away. But I am on a raod, and I go where it leads, because that is my fate and destiny, and I chose it, not whatever plans I make that will work with what I think might lay ahead. But I do not believe I know what is beyond my simmedieate sight, and then things come out of nowhere. Other times I have a great sense of the future and more or less, things often work out as I expect. Still, there is that fear that Alaska is something I can depend on.
On the other hand, though I take life seriously, and I have to take everything seriously, I know everything isn't serious, and there's no need to be serious about it, or take it all seriously, because a lot of it isn't. I have been through a lot of troubled water, enough to know that sometimes you just have to glaze over the rough spots and focus on the long term stability and rightness of a certain course. In the day to day of life, there are so many ups and downs that you can't take them too seriously. I have learned that serious things can be revealed in a tiny event, if you notice, like the flick of the tiger's tail. Somtimes they are indications of a trend, or even a fatal weakness. But sometimes, they are just the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and just have to be survived and gotten through and left behind. Especially in human relationships, it is important to be able to gloss over and ignor the regular misteps and mistakes and shortcomings, the outbursts and inconsistancies, and focus on the long term and the deeper. By not making a big deal out of small things, it keeps them from being more than just that, small imperfections, and keeps the focus where it should be, on the long term relationships that work and survive, that are the foundation and continuity of our lives.

During the winter Dave called me up and said he had a deal for me, a little 4 cyclinder pickup for $500. I was looking for a toyota really, and more, a wagon rather than a pickup, but mostly I wanted something so I had my own economical transportation up in Alaska. This was a old Ford Ranger, but I looked it up on the internet and found some good reviews, so sent him a the money. It had a blown trani but came with a replacement, he said it would be easier to swap it with two people so I told him to wait till I got there, no problem. I was wrong.
It turned out that it really was a wreck, and I worked on it for a couple weeks before I left for the fair, and couldn't get done. And Dave ended up leaving as soon as I got there, so I was left with a job and truck I knew nothing about, and no idea where all the tools are kept, as well. The trani was just the beginning. But the real issue was why would Dave tell me it was a deal when it wasn't. I could only think that he didn't realize he'd been taken, but there were indications that it was part of some deal to get an engine he wanted and he overlooked the problems and passed it on to me, assuming it would be cool. Not like him. It was troubling. He could have been distracted by other things and let it slip. It happens, but it didn't help. It was also that I expected him to help, and instead as soon as I arrived he left. Which I could understand, but I was left to try and work on the rig without even knowing where tools were or anything about the rig, which made the job a lot harder. I wasted hours just searching for tools around the place.

But the truck ended up being the least of my problems. The trouble had just begun, and it quickly turned into a nightmare. I went through some serious bad experiences, and some troubles. I ended up moving as far away as I could from everyone at Dave and Lanna's, leaving the camper. I camped at the far side of my property and staying away from their place all summer, as much as I could, like a ghost in the machine. It is easy for me to slip through like a shadow. It is sad that I should have to. I dont know if I need to tell the whole story, also, when it starts to involve people's lives, not just my own, I start to cross the bounds of privacy. The details of it all aren't important either, bt only the real important point. Thoughout the summer, Dave did a lot of odd things that make me wonder if I can actually depend on him anymore. I try to balance the real mess he made this summer, in so many different things were he got me into trouble and didn't seem to be concerned that he might, with the fact that he has been a good friend and a dependable partner for many years. The fact is, he was losing his grip and letting things slip. I would say that they were wrongs of inattention rather than intention, or of taking chances with other people's lives, in a intentional naivity and faith that everything would just work out by luck, with no plan if it didn't. This is serious. I don't have problems with my friends being undependable, I don't expect them do be, and that way, I am not dissappointed and they don't have to feel bad for messing up. The fact is, I know I can't depend on myself, I am not perfect, though I try my best, sometimes it isn't enough. So I plan for contingencies and make sure things are covered in case I fail myself. I do that for other people as well, if I can, because I am responsible, and because failure is easier to deal with when you have a safety net. The difference is in having a partner, someone to do things with. Then I do need dependability, which means knowing they are thinking of our best interests, as a partnership, not theirs. That is why I usually work alone, because I am dependable in getting things done and not letting them slip, not cutting corners or making shady deals. I've done a lot of things, and I know what it takes. You can't count on luck, and pretending doesn't do it. I am also a man of honor and duty, and believe that I can never win by someone else's loss, and that it is my duty to do all I can to make sure that by my action or inaction someone comes to harm, I must be responsible for everyone and everything, to be responsible at all. It is a romantc ideal, and I live a practical life. But it is a pragmatic, practical life based upon romantic idealism, and that is all the difference. I am not perfect, nor to I try to be, I try to do my best to do what is right. I do not expect the same of others, but I hope, and it pains me when they do not. That is why I so often live alone, and work alone.
My partnership with Dave is one of my first attempts the late 70's to try working with someone to some purpose, and all told it has gone well. We are not the same at all, he does not live in my world, but we are friends, certainly. I do not expect my friends to live like me, or be like me, they are simply my friends. My friends are my friends, and I know them for that, it is all I need to know or have. Being friends doesn't mean that they cannot make me angry or piss me off, though it is harder, certainly. I try to give people leeway, but I don't ignor the drift. I am too serious. If need be I drift away, but I don't play the game, or perhaps it is that people drift away from me. We meet at some border of worlds, some common ground or no man's land, and I won't cross over, or get drawn into their world. If they head away that is their choice. I do as I must, like it or not, and my feelings aren't really part of it. I also know that in the long run, my friends are my friends, and perhaps I spend a lot of time with them, for me, or maybe I don't, maybe sometimes they make me feel good, maybe sometimes they don't, but they are still my friends, and life goes on.

The Fair, it too was trouble. To start with, I ended up having to borrow the old truck, which ended up being more trouble, though it made it to the fair and back. For years they had just given me the keys since I was there first and left last, and let me stay in the trailer when I flew in. New security rules meant I couldn't leave my gear in the trailer, and couldn't stay in the trailer at night. In fact, I never used it at all, since I had to come in and start tuning before they openned it and it was locked again before I quit for the day. I ended up spending the fair in the parking lot, trying to camp on the tailgate in the wind and the rain. I mostly stayed in the Gazebo, would go in and make my coffee and breakfast there, and tune up. I had to try and drag the gear around through the gravel parking lot or the grass, which frankly, is physically pretty hard for me. And all the adversity only serves to draws my energy from the task I have before me, serving the music and the people. All told, it was really harsh, and I suffered a lot at this fair, and it was a strange thing. One of the things that had originally impressed me so much about this fair was its human side, the warmth and hospitality, the understanding of the needs of someone far from any home. I used to tell people they practically walked around with warm milk and cookies when it rained. Well, I guess that is past.

I don't complain, I become stoical, philosophical, quiet and withdrawn. My music became dark and sad. Make no mistake, I played very well, and I had a lot of really great shows, but the music was full of pain and sadness, a darkness, and a terrible beauty. There was no joy in the fair for me, though it was still good to see the people I know and meet new ones. The people there are still great, and I love the place, the sights and sounds, the smells. Still, I have to wonder again if it is worth it any more. I am not sure, anymore, and that alone is sad. Though I know that it is quite possible that my promise to do more with the music will quite probably mean that I have to go places other than Alaska during the summer festival season, if I am invited to perform. I may have to, just to "do more" with the music. I have to abandon my personal desire to stay in the shadows, in the fringes, playing for people with all my heart and soul, serving them and the music, but avoiding the spotlight. I have no need or desire for it, only for the music, and the people, for the Way, and the wild, and my service. In fact, if anything, I have at every turn chosen to avoid opportunity or effort that might have led towards a place I did not want to go, away from my anonymity and quiet purpose and calling. But now, if that is where the music leads me, that is where I have to go. In the end, I felt that if I was able to get a new CD together, I could justify the return to the fair, otherwise, it was something I would do if I could, or if I came to Alaska anyway, at least for a couple days.

The Fair was done, and it was time to head north to the Brooks. This time Dave came but had to bring his daughter with him because he felt she couldn'ty stay alone. I was pretty well just trying to be supportive and hold up my end. I ended up driving the old truck with all the gear and he and his daughter took the van. It was not a good trip. Dave had said he would be distracted by her, but he seemed unable to get control of the situation really. It was pretty crazy and pathetic. I camped up at the dig, while Dave and his daughter stayed at the cabin. I worked hard, and Dave well, spent too little time working, and then tried to work too hard. We also just didn't have great luck, moved a lot of dirt without finding a lot of gold, though we found the second biggest nugget ever, a half-ounce. I started a new dig upstream that also didn't produce well, though that is expected starting a new dig. We did find a significant piece of contour that helps our understanding of the valley, but it didn't produce well. Dave got pretty childish as well in his frustration. I just held my silence and let it all ride, kept working, but it wasn't good. Though it was a relief to be camping alone down at the dig. I had my evenings and then long quiet mornings till Dave showed up late in the morning. I was still glad to be there. Honestly, I was satisfied to "make wages", the minimum I might expect to be ok, while Dave is under a lot more pressure to produce profits now he has his daughter up here with him. But it was just a crazy time, and I felt the strain, still, I take it as it comes. It is just one season, while we have been priends and partners in the dig a long time.

Finally, it was time to go, and I headed down to Wiseman to visited my friends again. It was nice to be there, even for so short a time. It snowed the morning after I arrived, and I camped in the snow outside town, freezing my toes waiting for Dave, who was supposed to meet me there. It is a microcosm of the summer, where Dave just is letting it slip, telling me to wait for him, then letting me sit and wait in the cold for hours while he sits by the woodstove at one of his friend's place. Seriously inconsiderate, and unfortunately, not an isolated event that summer. It just got worse, because I needed to talk to him about the truck, and the troubles I was having with it. But again, later that day, as I am off visiting friends, he takes off without talking to me. So I am left on my own, with no tools (they are in the van) and no idea what is wrong (it's not my truck). I don't have a problem with driving a truck with problems if that's what we needed to do. What I didn't like was that he left me, both on the trip up, and then on the way back, for no good reasons. With all the potential trouble, the thing to do was to travel in caravan, in case the truck broke down, but he left me on my own. I was lucky to make it up. I didn't make it back. I ended up stranded about 50 miles short of Fairbanks. Again I was so lucky, no thanks to Dave. The truck failed on a long downhill, and I coasted down to the bottom and was lucky to find an access road to pull off on. This is a road without many access roads and often steep banks, it could have been very bad. It was also lucky I had water and food. When I was driving down I told myself that maybe the truck would make it and I wouldn't get mad at Dave since it might all work out. Now I had to take a walk and get over it. I camped that night by the truck, a bad place to camp really, right by a river, which means a highway for animals, like bears. In fact, I had a moose cow and calf walk outof the brush just a dozen yards away. I had no way to secure the gear in the truck bed, and I had to lock my valuables in the cab and trust to luck, leave it there and hitch-hike to Fairbanks.
I was lucky, and again, it was coming back to the music. I sat by the roadside, walking back and forth to stay warm, knowing that bad weather was on the way, and waiting for the rare vehicle to come by. Finally a large van came by, and it was the Carlsons, who lived just 5 miles back. They remembered me as the dulcimer guy from the Fair. They took me back to their place and got me what I needed, which at least tempoarily was just gasoline, but compared to hitching to Fairbanks for it, this was great. And they refused to take money for it. I couldn't have asked for more, not just the help, but the cool people when I was feeling well, pretty much abandoned by my friend and partner. When we got back to the truck, I got out the duclimer and played it on the tailgate for their visiting friends and relatives, gave then a CD, the least I could do. But they loved it, especially for their visiting friends. A bit of real Alaska for them. Though they were in a hurry to get to town at this point, they made sure I go the truck started before they would leave. That is something I would do. I made it into Fairbanks. I made it back to Delta Junction, too. The truck was barely running and eating gas. I found out later there was a crack in the carburator, getting steadily worse as I drove. Worse was, a mutual friend later told me that Dave knew the truck had problems before we even started the trip. Which wouldn't have mattered if we'd just stayed together on the road. He just wasn't thinking, and caught up in trying to cater to his daughter, in a heat to get back to town. But the fact is, the adults have to make the decisions, not the kids, because the kids don't have judgement and consideration, don't look beyond their needs and desires all too often.
I got back, pretty well fed up the whole scene, but so it goes, I moved on. I unpacked the gear, and then withdrew to my camp. I got back to work on the little truck, hoping to at least get it running to use next year. It was a great day when I finally got it started and drove it around to my camp. By this time it was snowing and freezing regularly. I took some time between working on the truck and packing to fix my driveway as well. It was almost time to go. Satrting to get heavy snows. I managed to get the little Ranger out on the highway and up to speed once, went and visited Dakota on my own. Went and visited my friends in town for the first time snce I had my own vehicle. That was good. But the truck still has problems, the floor pan is totally rotted out. I really wonder if it was worth fixing. A couple people told me that it probably wasn't, this is a small town, and even the vehicles have histories that are common knowledge. I did get an offer from another friend to find me a much better deal for the same price when I got back, a wagon this time. That was kind, thugh I don't really have the money for another vehicle, I wonder how long the truck will last, or whether it will still need more work, or if the engine will go next. But again, that is not the real story, which is why did Dave saddle me with this piece of junk in the first place? I can only assume he didn't realize how much trouble it would be.

Dave never did come over to talk to me. I'd told him I wasn't coming over to his place as long as this psycho-alcoholic friend was staying at his place. I am compassionate. I wouldn't want to deal with one of my old friends from highschool showing up at my place and turning out to be a alcoholic nut-case, not sure what I would do in his shoes. But I had all I could take already. I resented being driven away from my property by him letting people like that stay on his and make trouble, but I don't make an issue of it, its a bigger problem in the end for him than me. But what I can do is to just fade away and take my energy elesewhere. But again, its just more details of the larger story, which is about whether I can still count on Dave or if this was just a bad year and he let things slip, lost his grip on the situation, which is what I hope and expect. He was definitely acting pretty crazy, and I dont really know if I can or want to depend on the situation there. I don;t know whether I still want to even count on this piece of land as a base, or look to go somewhere else. After the first trouble there, if I had had my usual road rig I would have been long gone and not been back till it was time to go, if then. It is just as likely I would have found a place to park for the winter nearer Anchorage and not come back at all.

Still, I got the truck running just before I left. Dave gave me a ride to the bus and I told him that yes we were friends but he needed to get a grip because he was letting things slip, and sincerely wished him uck dealing with the situation. Said I'd write hiom later when I was able to see my end clearer. I recognize that it is often better to let things slide at the moment, when feelings are strained, just depend on the continuity of year of friendship to ease over this rough patch. Though the situation need to be addressed, and the problems and feelings spoken, but better done after I've cooled down and had time to reflect and gain perspective, like now.

"1213 - A Job Well Done"

I arrived in mid-October, once again, after a brief stop in Seattle again. It reawakens my desire to spend more time there again, but I have to be patient. I have to follow my plan, and it does include re-establishing my Seatte base once I am done with the recording etc projects. I get right back to work on the house. I want to finish the kitchen-laundryroom-diningroom project by the end of the year. Then I am done with this biggest stage of the house remodel-repair and I can go on to the next stage of the plan, back to the music. Though I didn't find so much gold this year, I was able to sell it all, at a higher price, so I can get by in the months ahead. The gold from last year is still unsold, and the price is still going up.

I got to work where I left off, finishing out the subfloor, which meant repairing the end wall as well. Once this was done, I was able to pull up the temporary sub-floor I'd left last summer and put it back in permanently. I didn't have to entirely rewire the room, only about half, then install new insulation and drywall, and then paint. In the process, I dealt with a fallen tree at our community pre-school Though it was a distraction in the moment, we heat with wood here, so getting a major load so close to home was a great windfall(!) I was glad to take advantage of. Finally the floor was installed. It was amazing what a difference it made. With the bare playwood exposed, it still looked under construction, despite the fact it was 95% done, and had been in use for months. The simple change of finished flooring made it look finished, even though there was a lot of small trim still missing. Even more, it really looked good.

I got to work on the trim and other details. Finally, in the week before Xmass, I was able to move the dinning room table out of the livingroom and back to the dinning room, making room for the tree! I had it up and decorated by Xmass eve, just in time. I still had some trim yet to go in the kitchen itself, and doorsills to finish. I also had to finish up the outside of the walls I'd repaired, replacing the siding I'd taken down. The more critial job was replacing gutters and soffits on the outside wall. The soffit boards were rotten, and I needed to replace tham so I could install the exterior floodlights. That would complete the electrical work, which would allow me to call for the final electrical inspection. But in the true big picture, I was done, and I look back on what I did, and it is pretty hazy, but what is important is that I can look at what I have doner, and it is done, and it looks good, and it all works. It is a major serious job done, and done well.

There was one final possibly important development. My cousin from Michigan came to visit before the holidays. He made me an interesting proposition. He wanted to invest in a piece of property in Alaska for his son, a place to build a cabin where they could come and vacation, hunt and fish and explore the truely great outdoors that is Alaska. His son loves the outdoors, and he wants a place that he could eventually go an stay at if he wanted to. The proposition was that if I would be the local agent for him, the person up there, finding the land, making all the arrangements, and eventually, building or overseeing the building on the property for him, I could get a piece of property of my own out of the deal, either by buying lots in the same subdivision or subdividing a larger lot. It seems like it might work out. It is certainly within my abilities, and gives me a way to get another base in Alaska. It means a job building on his property as well, though I don't need one. I am more concerned I don't really have time to take this on. In fact, I'd just decided not to do anything immediately with my property because I weanted to focus on the music and touring. But this could alter my plans by providing the funds and reason to build immediately, push the process, and then I would have a place in Alaska. Though it may be that all I do is find the property for him first, that is enough to start. I certainly won't want to take time off from the music projects till they are done, but after that, taking a summer off to build a few cabins might be welcome after a couple years mostly in the studio. The more important point of all this, is that it means I have a reason to return to Alaska, and unexpectedly, it is not the Fairs, or the gold that is justifying the trip this time. Strange how things can come out of nowhere sometimes, though I am no longer suprised.


All told, Everything is going according to plan, which really is a great relief. This was a big decision and a major change for me, and I had a lot of doubts. I still have doubts, especially about getting distracted endlessly. Still, I chose one of the big jobs, and I focused on it, and now it really is done. Not only that, the job was essentially done as planned, as the focus of 2007, even though it certainly didn't go as expected. I actually got a lot more done than I had originally planned, and all to the good. Now 2008 will be the year to focus on the music. Getting this job done on the house makes em feel more confident that this next big job, the recording and other music projects, will also get done. It feels more sure, like I have started this big wheel turning now, and ot has momentum and inevitability now, no matter if I have only a vague idea of exactly how it will all happen. But looking at the job I did to the house, I feel a lot more confident of the road ahead. It is odd, perhaps, to be so doubtful of my abilities. I have done so much, and some big jobs, and always managed to show a great competence and capability. Yet its also true that I've had a lot of plans that didn;t happen because things came up, things I couldn't do anything about, chance and circumstances beyond my control, where competence and capability only allowed me to cope, but my real plans had to be set aside. Now I finally am trying to complete them, and I worry still that something will come up to derail them again.
Like this new deal with my cousin to be his man in Alaska to find and purchase land for him and his son. I had practically decided I might skip Alaska this summer and stay here and focus on the recording, start in the Spring and work right through the year. Now I am fairly committed to going to Alaska, even a week or so early, to look at land and try to settle on a property. But it isn't a big change, in fact, it maens staying on my routine actually, the fairs and the gold, Alaska itself. But the real job will only be set aside till I get back to it, and remains what I am doing.

All told, I look back at the year, and things seem to be going fairly well, despite all the troubles and difficulties. I made the change, and the big wheel really is turning. I tackled an enormous job, but now it is done, and done well. I finally stand on the threshold of the task that I have planned so long, and has been delayed so many times. Though I have been disappointed too often to have any true confidence or expectations, I do feel a sense of certainty, of inevitability. Perhaps it is just that I know that I will persevere, despite whatever comes up or gets in the way. Even if it might be two or three or four years till I finally get it done, I will get through it. Once I latch on to a job, I just keep hammering away till I am done, sooner or later. I am persistent and committed, doggedly pushing my way through to the end. Now, I am finally started on the music projects, on this next big job. And it really seems like once I start a job, no matter what, I usually finish. Maybe that is the essential truth. That while I have a hard time getting started, once I do, I just don't let up till I am there. Just like climbing a mountain, once I take that first step, I just keep putting one foot after the other till finally I am there.