The Song of My People

About 20 years ago we had a home that also served as home to a sweet variety of musicians and artists who needed a home when none (other than ours*) was available.  Me and Mine had the downstairs and Wayne was upstairs, for the telling of this story. HORSEgirl

Wayne played in a band called Technicolor Headrush. While I loved Wayne and Kirk and the other boys in that band (like little brothers,) it wasn’t so much my cup of tea. I still went to the shows and supported local music and all, but it was way more love than actual enjoyment.

It was a Wednesday night and it wasn’t full-frontal Winter anymore. I remember both of these things only because I still notice that so many bands I love all practice on Wednesday nights (that’s why I call it “Band Practice Night” instead of hump day) and I was barefoot. (For record keeping purposes -I wore two pairs of socks from post-Winfield until the daffodils bloomed. aka: leg shaving offseason.)

Our practice shut down by ten because we were old people, all being over 30 and all, and we were settling into the Recap Safety Meeting when Wayne knocked on the front door and asked if he could show us something. I was kinda hoping this would happen because the music I’d heard fall down the stairs all night was a huge departure from the angsty stuff we’d grown used to. Standing behind him in our funkyass mudroom foyer was Kirk with a guitar that had been punched squarely in the face, Jeff (holding what looked like the gas tank from an old Ford truck with a stick in it,) and Eric with a mandolin.

SLRbw
Split Lip Rayfield

(Unless it was a banjo, which it could have been, but I’d think I’d remember that since we already had Richard, and back then we only got about one banjo player per zip code.) They shuffled in past the living room to the dining room which was completely open because it wasn’t really a dining room so much as it was the band practice room and office space for the first ISP in Kansas.

 

I don’t remember what they played first. I remember I was Sofa.King.Exhausted from working a 15 hour day, practicing for 4 hours and raising kids for 19 hours that I couldn’t remember where I left my shoes. I know they started out with strong clear harmonies and a completely  rearranged bluegrass sensibility, but this music had teeth like The Bad Livers got involved in the build while The Pogues added a rogue chromosome to the DNA. I pretty much immediately forgot that I was tired.

It was a late schoolnight and they played 3 songs before anybody drew a breath. Even the rebellious teens hanging out in my sons room smoking my flowers (stolen from the tray under the sofa like shifty baccalaureate ninjas,) came out to see who was making this music in our house. I had a slow motion Matrix-moment where I looked around and memorized the intersection of where I came from and where I was headed.

MOMOauntsI memorized moments like this for a living by the time this night unfolded. The moments when my mother and her sisters busted out their 5 part harmonies at 2am after a pyramid of Schlitz beers and too many Kent cigarettes. We were short enough to listen from under the kitchen table and Aunt Carol always left half of every cigarette she lit.

I remembered singing at the top of my lungs with strangers during my 16th summer, in a war-torn alley in Londonderry when my mom and I had run away from home on my fathers payroll because we could and he pissed us both all the way off (and a country under siege was an attractive option, given the choices.) We locked arms with Italians and Germans and Austrians, that night, and sang till the sun rose.

I remembered how hot my cheeks burned when I didn’t understand the difference between “Winfield Virgin” and actual, bonafide Virgin, but I was rewarded with being taught the entire John Prine catalog by a bunch of editors from the Joplin Globe.

Fast forward a million miles, three lifetimes and all the breakfasts later – I got to see a show last weekend that rolled all those perfect moments into focus. I got to meet new Family (by choice not blood) and be reminded why we do this and how defined I am by the sharing. Music makes me stronger, taller and funnier in the morning. My personal chemistry is totally addicted to the seratonin and dopamine tsunamis that allow me to stay up all night and hatch plans to overtake the earth with love and music and kindness.  (And, Underground Railroads. Viva la Revolucion!)

Larry & His Flask played The Tower last weekend and I got to take in a fresh new breath of how my musical moment memory works  in 2016, after the Mumfords and Avetts and Oh Brother got their fingerpints allllll over this scene.  My scene. The Family scene. LFLASKone

By the time this night ended, I had met all of the parents, most of the best friends and at least half the getaway drivers. I enjoyed one of the best, most dynamic shows I’ve seen in ages (my bar is set CRAZY-high) and I got to be reminded of how happy I am that there are no two-tops in this world. All our tables hold everybody. We need each other to help us build the soundtracks to play in our backgrounds. Me and my people: We’re all mix-tapes and kitchen sing-alongs and I just might be six feet tall.

Meet me at the table.

xomoe

*My kids might still not love this truth. They had to share at an unprecedented level and I continue to hope that they know I know this, and am grateful for their beneficence.

 

 

The Top Ten Ways The Oxford Hotel Rocked my Casbah

OXFORDmeLACEYI recently had occasion to hang out in Bend, Oregon for a minute or two (5 days) and was lucky enough to land at The Oxford Hotel with one of my most favorite partners in crime; It’s prompted me to return to my Love Letter Writing roots as it was one of the most restorative micro-vacations I’ve had in years.

I could go on ad naseum about every single detail that made my world a better place and returned the bounce to my step, but I love you enough to squeeze it into a Top Ten List.

Top Ten Oxford Hotel Coolosities (in no particular order)

  1. The Location Snuggled into a righteous corner of downtown Bend, surrounded by all kinds of seriously incredible ($$$) boutique shops, restaurants and salons, it was entirely possible to walk any and every where that held any appeal and it’s the perfect location from which to just adventure.
  2. The Vibe  The attention to detail is evident in every single element and supports the “Upscale” claims in their promotional materials perfectly. It is upscale, but it’s also not so stuffy as to make a girl in overalls feel all judged and inadequate.
  3. The Restaurant 10 Below is tucked away in the basement of the hotel and proved to be a fine place to shake off too many hours in meetings or too many miles in exploration. The service was so good as to be remarkable, the menu was diverse and the vibe was classy without being breathless.
  4. Elevator Voice When she announces the lobby, she says it in such as way that you think of Lolita. It’s both sassy and sultry, and about guaranteed to make you smile if you’re listening. What a great elevator voice.
  5. Guitars & Mandolins available to borrow during your stay. Seriously? This is a first for me and is my most fave bonus feature. The Breedlove Guitar company is located in Bend and has worked out an arrangement with The Oxford Hotel to make instruments available to their guests. This rocks out loud so hard, I’m still smiling.
  6. The Pillow Menu True story. A menu fat with pillow options. Every bit as awesome as you might imagine it to be.
  7. The Staff The people of a place can make or break a reputation and this place has got their happy staff secured. From the servers in the restaurant to the front desk and the bellmen and the turn-down loves, these staffers make kindness look and feel authentic and I’m pretty sure I’ve come away with friends I’ll have forever.
  8. The Bathroom I know this shouldn’t make me as happy as it does, but dang – this bathroom (with the finest robes.EVER) was like movie stars and HGTV got together and built the perfect place to soak in a tub or stand too long under hot water in the shower. Props, you bathroom designers – well done.
  9. The People Watching 2am on the street in front of the hotel was a spectacular place to watch really really happy people call it a night and laugh hard. While the daybreak hours proved best for the small packs of young teen.angsty long-boarders who were more entertaining that ballet and ice skating put together.
  10. The Staff gets another mention here because of the top ten great things about this place, the people and their kindness is probably more important to me than a pillow menu. I did dig the fact that we could choose pillows, though.

New Study Proves: Cannabis Aids in Aging Gracefully

Hey kids. Leave your boots by the door and set your coats on the radiator – I made Butterballs. Maaaaaaaaaaan, I’ve been missing you. It’s superduper Wintery up here in the Cascade mountains of Oregon – just like it’s s’posta be because it’s Winter and all. The days are short and while my will to live is way-high, my will to change out of yoga pants and leave this house is remarkably low. I’m glad you came by so I don’t have to move. This is perfect.

My most productive hobby, of late, has been to find new and clever ways to get better performance out of a body that is pretty-much in full-on rebellion. Arched back, stomping heels into filthy linoleum, ear-piercing shriek of a physical hissy fit it is, and it often calls the shots.

SALVEcompMy body is furious with me and I’m cool with that, given the alternatives. There’s some old war wounds and some new working-too-much monkeys that proved to be great real estate for test-driving some of this $40 salve I was able to legally procure from my local dispenser.

The Bad Knee happened 40 years ago and never got put back together right so it’s some sweet bone-on-bone action up in there and usually just feels like a little pocket knife, not a big boning knife or anything, is jammed just up to the left of my kneecap. Sometimes it cripples, but duct tape, bracing and time fix it fine. The Salve (that I really can’t identify from the labeling and sorta wished they’d work with me on getting something a little more clear) was, for real – The Shiznit on that stabbing pain. It made me smile at my knee for, like, a whole 2 hours. Then it wanted more. I was also writing, not hustling through a station with gear or something, so I’ll know more when I’m back in orbit.

The Abdomen Alien is some seriously pissed-off old scar tissue from a couple things that tried to kill me. It is a bit more than a nuisance and I had my doubts, strongass doubts, that this salve could possibly do anything. It both did and did not disappoint – the old scars near the surface, did stop screaming for a bit. It didn’t do jack for the more serious pain BUT (and this is a big OL’HUGE BUT) I contend that a huge part of pain management can be found in chilling.the.fuck.out. I can’t see how a topical absorption of THC and CBD could be anything BUT good for chilling. Sooo…. who’s to say if I’m not crying less because my system is processing more cannabis. I dunno. I’m just an old white lady spinning words in a tower, looking for kindness, truth and a freakin’break from the alien in me belly.

The maybe I work-too-much monkeys that live on each shoulder are probably the most common ailment I hear the islanders talk about, and I can tell you: IF for no other reason than this alone: BUT THIS STUFF. Holy cow and yes please. I also generously shared with the soles of my feet before I tucked them into fat wool socks and I discovered that my usage of the word “Fuck” drop by 48% within the first hour.

With frequent reapplication, (including soles of feet and extending to my temples and forehead) I noticed that I no longer noticed and was in a way-better mood, writing shinier sentences … donating to kickstarters. Seriously. I think I recommend this stuff.

It did, for certain and without doubt, kick all kinds of ass on these old arthritic hands. That rocked. In fact, all the old broken bones responded well to this. Truthfully: I’m just kinda surprised at the outcome, I thought this rubbing it all over you thing was just kinda silly and excessive. Maybe not.

I’m lucky to have no shortage of both empirical and anecdotal data on this stuff and I’m more than happy to share. Next time we’ll talk about what I’ve seen in sexy-time cannabis; It’s gonna crack you all the way up what the kids are doing these days. Bring that bourbon your son gave you for Christmas, I’ll put out some flowers.

xomoe

 

 

 

Adventures in Going West

Sweet Row Boats

Hey Pioneers – I got all wrapped up in seeing every single little thing and I forgot that I write for a living. Colorado sends it’s warmest and sunniest howdies and says that you should come visit because they are totally loving all those tourist dollars. I would say that they’re completely digging the company, too – but that might be a lie. I think the pleasure of your company is often a necessary evil and you are gently tolerated.

Thankfully, the literal, freakin’awesome beauty of these surroundings has completely eclipsed the fact that I’m not getting hugs and compliments with every convenience store transaction. Every day I see something new and I’d be lying if I said I’m not tripping – I whisper.gasp way too much. This place is so incredibly alive and verdant (bam! wettest May on record) and full of splendor. Yea. For real: Splendor. Purple mountains majesty. Blindingly beautiful wildflower fields. Winds that smell of pine needles and freshly turned gardens or little baby skunks and tart morning grass. All the rivers and streams are way up and so clear that you can see down to the bottom. I swear the fish are just coming by to say “hey” and be all chill. It’s a trip like Disney cartoons are a trip, complete with little chirping birds wearing brilliant colors.

This was May 2015
This was May 2015

The place I’ve come to love the most for this flavor of chill is just outside Eagle, Colorado and is probably one of those “Best Kept Secrets” kinda destinations. It goes by A.J. Brink Outfitters at Sweetwater Lake but everybody I know (all 5 people) just calls it Sweetwater. It’s about as full-service as any of the outdoor adventures I’ve heard about and the scenery and remote location make it ideal for my wants. Mostly my wants involve less work and more play. This place rocks for that.

It’s also, as luck would have it, a perfect place for naps. I found the absence of city sounds indescribably welcome and I’d bet some people would pay extra for that. You can hear the Falcons and Eagles and Hummingbirds (like a full-time Jetson’s cartoon just playing the flying cars part at a real low volume) and probably about a hundred other birds, but no motors or engines or air conditioners. If you’ve never been in a place where all that abstract background noise is gone, do yourself a solid and GET.out.

Imagine that summertime cartoony image of a little lake fat with constantly jumping trout, nestled among pristine mountains under skies so blue that the color hasn’t even been named yet. Yea. Imagine that and white puffy clouds. And, you can see the West Coast! Okay. I lied about that part, but there are some views that are guaranteed to make you feel especially small. I built a nest and slept on the deck one night, under this blanket of Milky Way that was so bright I could taste it. I’d recommend that over Prozac, if I were a doctor.

SWEEThorsesThere are guided horseback tours and boats that float a stocked lake with a few campsites and cabins tucked in here and there. It looked like you could have as much privacy as you want and that it could be as affordable as you make it. Personally, I’d work overtime to sleep in a cabin or room in the motel-like stretch of accommodations, but I just roll that way. The campsites I toured were remarkable cool and all offered views like none other and not terrible hikes to bathrooms., so there’s really no way to go wrong.

SWEETrestrntThe hub of the operation is a restaurant where the food made me way happy and the wifi sated my itchy typing fingers. I think you check-in here but I know for sure I got ice there and every single thing I’ve had from the kitchen was really, kinda, over-the-top. Because I’ve been grandfathered in by virtue of a stunt-son who works there on occasion, I’ve eaten some of the Crew meals (don’t even get me started on the killer smart and ambitious crew) and some things from the menu and they all made me feel like my mom was in the kitchen and I’d gladly clean-up. I didn’t have to clean up, but I would have. Gladly.

When I was a kid, our entire family would book a resort in Branson, MO (before it got all bedazzled – we owned.that.place) and 30 of us would swarm and test limits and stay up too late and gather our family mojo for about a week. This place in Sweetwater would be perfect for that. You gotta want it, though because it’s not right off the main highway or anything, but the location is a huge bonus if you want to get all.the.way away with yourself or people you love. SWEETkayaks

Gotta bounce. Headed to Ouray for the weekend, will let you know if it’s as cool as I remember.

xomoe