It's been an absolutely wonderful end of 2008 and opening to 2009.
I left for NYC Dec. 25, to spend a week with Micah Rudy. We did it all. Everything rolled beautifully with out cramming. From live performances to elbow time catching up, looking at pictures, talking of literature and philosophy, and following up on a few projects which had lost momentum. A bicycle and a guitar, and a new winter coat.
Micah and I worked his Uncles bicycle on the wrought iron veranda of the brick apartment building. His street, slung low with small mature trees and electrical wires draped closely, criss cross back and forth from building to building and are subject to downages during a big windstorm, like the one they'd just had. Coupled with heavy ice accumulation, there were many red plastic taped fallen power lines clouded with the scent of burnt ozone, strapped to similar wrought iron gate works all along the street.
This Queens neighborhood is equipped with one of the best Asian grocers, department store complexes, subway stop, and families of every immigrant status in the modern world. I was able to meet and visit with the Chinese father of Micah's landlord, a guy in his early 70s. We chatted over stolen cigarettes about his richer days when two or three bottles of good cognac a month and his state of the art European aluminum racing bike, able to be lifted with one finger, was the direct result of high status employment. He's enthusiastic that Micah is a good man; a studious and quiet man, always ahead on his rent and able to fix his own bicycle; clever. I concur.
We caught A Prairie Home Companion at Town Hall on the 27th. It was odd watching our favorite old school satirist, faithfully listened to since my early days in Alaska, and shared with each of the children since infancy. There he was forty feet away. Could have swept over and kissed him. And Micah and I just kept laughing, marveling and sucking in as deeply as possible. Town Hall felt like our Chilkat Center, on only a little larger scale. The theater had red velvet cushioned seating with a wide curved balcony, resplendent with an adoring audience. There were many gray heads, but just as many younger fans enjoyed the show.
The scripts and musical choices felt hand picked for us and left us feeling connected in ways which are only magical. We laughed at our country, at our need to be spiritual and relevant, at ourselves. Garrison read our own personal message which I nearly missed and was caught hoping, someone from home was listening. We sang Auld Lang Syne first for the listening radio audience, with gusto, while recognizing our New Year's had come a few days early. Then we sang again off air, with both conviction and commitment, as if among 1800 new old friends.
We stepped out of the theater to find Russ Ringsak waiting with the big beautiful semi-tractor and trailer, ready to haul back to Minnesota all of the production equipment used during the four NY shows. Russ' story is here. He's quite a delightful author and well worth reading.
Micah then took me out for my first introduction to Thai food. The establishment known as Spice was as eclectic and authentic as it gets. The music caught my interest as did the waiting diners lingering around the door. Micah introduced me to Standing On Line, Manhattan style and vintage Techno from the late 80's. Vintage for a clientele of no one under the age of twenty-eight, other than myself. The food was all "Vegan friendly", and as hearty as a SE, Ak. spread of venison and Ptarmigan. Sumptuous.
We then went out for a couple of dark beers at an old, worn, neighborhood watering hole until it started getting rowdy enough that we couldn't talk with out yelling.
The next day, a quick train trip up to the Berkshires brought me for my first New England visit with sister Melody and her family. Once again, the feeling that family matters a lot was brought down. Wonderful food and closeness were capped by a return to the city with my 13 year old nephew aboard the great public train transportation that makes East Coast existence so rich. The young man was making the trek to purchase his first electrical guitar with his other Auntie, Mickey, the center of our distant family relations. Our hub.
All together the next night, we hit Prospect Park at eighteen degrees and a good strong head wind to freeze our way through a dandy fireworks display and the change of the New Year. We danced a few frozen steps with a funk band at the park gates.
Bidding Mick and Dakotah good by beneath Grand Central station and thousands of Times Square revelers, we frozenly hobbled our way back to Micah's warm apartment, nearly keeping our Town Hall agreement of an early New Year's celebration.
It is so wonderful when new infusions of home blood come on board and rekindle your day to days.
I returned to Merrick and Joey reaching the Southern terminus of their West Coast tour. We've spent the past few days working on projects and venturing out to explore the stunning mountain surroundings of the Southern Sierra's.
For the first time since leaving California in 1971, I discovered an area here in the mountains where I could almost envision myself growing older. Among mountain Oaks hanging off vertical hillsides, we frolicked above the southern string of Sierras while Kern County lay fuzzed in fog and blue haze, gullied below. Atop individual granite pillars, we watched the birth of the new full moon of '09. The chilled air sparked with frost and last weeks big snow, newly melted into the ground where we were sucking up the fading blue sky filled with weakened sunlight.
At Grandma's we spent a rich week together working on art in the backyard. Making silver ornaments cut from garage sale silver platters and helping to prepare for a puppet show which they're taking on their travels down into Mexico. We all crammed into Ma's tiny bedroom, the large wooden chest stage with props, Seven Marionettes, two willowy puppet masters, six large family members piled up to watch the Lampoon debut in Spanish. It was a riot.
Now those two left this morning, in the deepest of chills from this winter. They're driving towards the Mojave and the hot springs in the gorgeous "Lola" a 1977 maroon Mercedes. Styling!
And I'm left welcoming in the New Year still!