Friday, July 27, 2007

Almost Heaven

Friday, July 20

The Killer Lady and I drove straight through and arrived about 23 hours after we left - including stops for dinner in Placerville yesterday, breakfast this morning in Grand Junction, and driving around in circles in Aspen to get to the grocery store.

Being on a road trip reminds me so much of all the other road trips I've been on. I've never done this route before, through Nevada. The Killer Lady (who has incredible endurance and drove the entire way with only a 40-minute nap at a rest stop around 730 this morning) and I got a big kick out of the signs for Wendover, that told us how far away it was every seven to ten miles. Wendover straddles the NV/UT border, and boy was that obvious: We went through after midnight and half the town was bright with Las Vegas neon and the other half was black.

Our favorite sign was the one that warned us, "Stay Alert! Lane Shifts Ahead" - only because we'd been on the road for hours and were not being warned to stay alert because we were in a car. Heading out of Aspen and over Independence Pass the signs told us to "Avoid Broken Windshields. Obey Speed Speed Limits." I guess punishment is terrible and swift in the Rockies.

Saturday, July 21

I don't know if it is exhaustion or just "is" but it's been tough so far, being here, thinking about Phil. Both The Killer Lady and I pretty much arrived in tears with the pain of wishing Phil would just walk in the door and say, as he used to, "How's it hanging?" The fifteenth anniversary is bothering The KL as much as it is bothering me. We keep looking at each other and asking, "How is that possible?" In 1992 I knew that someday this day would come. I'm still so sad about his being gone, and I'm surprised in a way that I still miss him so much.

Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.

~ Richard Bach, Illusions.

Mrs. P wrote in an email that Cabinstock is a great legacy Phil left us. It's started me thinking that maybe his mission on earth was to organize this annual event that has created sort of a community. We wouldn't have met each other any other way, let alone remained friends for so many years, without Cabinstock.

Sunday, July 22

I suggested that we rewrite "When I'm Sixty-Four" so it's about doing Cabinstock in the future (I'll be 64 in September of 2032!). The Killer Lady and I helped, but Spudwhip really ran with it. I have the chord notations but I'm not going to include them because I know they won't format correctly. Y'all know the tune, anyway.

Note: There are a few inside stories, but the only one I'm going to comment on is the dry compost toilet, which requires some good use of the Kegel and suchlike muscles.

"When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now

Will you still invite me to the Cabinstock?

Tunes and hooch still served on the rock?

If we play on till quarter of three, will you scream for more?

Will you play for free here, still be a tree here, when we're 64?

You'll be older too

And if you say the word, I could tent with you.

I could be handy, mending a tube

When your amp is gone

You could drink tequila by the fireside

Monday morning, whimper and hide.

Doing a keg lap, smoking some weed, who could ask for more?

Split pee and poop here, fall off the stoop here, when we're 64.

Every summer we will storm the Cabin by the river with a keg of beer

Three vacation days...

Guitar on your knee

Singin' through the haze

Send me a flyer, drop me a line, at least by May or June

Indicate precisely when the dates will be

Yours sincerely, Mister Bony.

Scrape up the money, scrape up the time, scrape me off the floor

Huevos and beans here, measure your penes here, when we're 64.

Drown in the creek here, still be a freak here, when we're 64.

Soak up the scene here, play key of Gene here, when we're 64!"

Monday, July 23

The music starts one piece at a time and adds up. We have lots of guitars this year, a washtub bass, an electric bass, harmonicas in the major keys, a fiddle, and a drum kit. Lots of voices, of course, including mine.

The music is hella loud in the Cabin. We've been in and out because of rain. I asked SRV Rick if the music is louder than in years past, but he said no. Guess it's my old ears!

This photo is from the first night when most people - and the PA system - hadn't arrived yet. Kid Paully and SRV Rick are picking up where they left off last time.

Tuesday, July 24

I am really in touch with the fear-is-part-of-anger thing today. Spudwhip and The Killer Lady crossed the river and on the way back, The KL lost her nerve and was pulled downstream by the current. Spudwhip grabbed her, but then he started down the river too, and Shawnee, who'd gone with them into the water (but not across the stream), lost his balance when he grabbed Spudwhip and the three of them headed downstream.

The KL went down the river once before, in 1995, when she lost her balance, and I was just filled with dread about their crossing back. I have this sense of everyone else positioning themselves along the rocks in various places, as if we all expected someone to head downstream. It was like we were Team River and were taking our places. Johnny Half-Song and I stood near the confluence of the river and the creek, and when I saw them coming toward me reached out for the three of them. For less than a second all five of us thought they were going to make it, but they didn't. Johnny and I didn't want to pull too hard because we didn't want to go in the river also. Shawnee said he saw how quickly I was moving; I don't remember moving at all. I didn't realize I was wet up the chest until I dashed in the Cabin to get towels and heard my sandals squelching on the carpet.

Shawnee and The KL came up against the first big rock and were able to climb out; Spudwhip went around to the next one and was also safe. All's well that ends well but I was furious. I had to hide on the next-door property to sob for two minutes to get it out of my system. The KL was abashed, and quietly took the lecture the OG gave her. Shawnee was pretty calm, smoking a cigarette afterwards - he said he figured that they would get out. Spudwhip was jacked up on adrenaline and I just wanted to smack him. I felt like he didn't really understand that the OG and I were angry that he put himself and The KL in danger, even though he apologized for scaring me.

Spudwhip brings the mama out in me.

Wednesday, July 25

Yesterday was a long day. It felt like several days in one, in fact. The morning was full of people packing up their vehicles and leaving, and there was music. Johnny Half-Song, Marko, and Spudwhip played some of Johnny's original tunes until some kayakers appeared. All the times I've been to the Cabin, this is the first time I've seen kayakers. Marko says this stretch of the river is famous for kayaking and the Cabin is called "the crooked cabin" in kayaking guidebooks.

We had the swimming in the river incident, and more music. The OG and Shawnee played some CSN, and the OG taught me the secret parts of "Teach Your Children."
After dinner those of us who hadn't left had a long talk and Marko played his fiddle in accompaniment to the OG's guitar and voice. When I went back to my tent, I was exhausted.

Today has been very low key, as Marko, the OG, Shawnee, and BJ were gone by early afternoon. The KL and I took down our tents very quickly, thinking it was going to rain, but so far it hasn't. Looks grey and gloomy, but we're still at the Cabin and The KL has built a nice fire.

Thursday, July 26

I'm reading Three Cups of Tea. It's about a former ER nurse/mountain climber who builds schools all the non-controlled, high-altitude parts of Pakistan. Each chapter has an epigraph, and I adapted this one from "The Warrior Song of King Gesar":

This beautiful and splendid land
With snow-covered rock mountains, cold-crystal streams,
Deep forests of aspen, pine, and spruce,
Is as much my body as what you see before you here.
I cannot be separated from this or from you.
Our many hearts have only a single beat.

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