Friday, December 17, 2010

An unnatural love

Perhaps even stranger is my excitement that if I have to self cater a fair few meals to swing this trip, there will be a Picard Surgeles around the corner. Foie Gras, escargots, and poor man's macarons, stuffing with prunes, chestnuts, and armagnac, await...not to mention the two meals I'm looking forward to - one of Auvergne-style tripe and the other of AAAA Andouillete.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

frequent flyer ticket booked!

Had the last hardware removal a little over a week ago and am laid up w/ crutches. Husband running around like a headless chicken pulling double duty. Child (who was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago today - what a long, strange trip it's been, indeed), a typical unfocused five year old, with a tendency to whine. Hard to believe it, but everyone is fine with me busting out of here, clompy shoes and boots blazing to go to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. There is one, hopefully more, Phoenix Foundation shows to catch. Bibi in Atlanta and Shannon in Bishop will be partners in crime this go 'round. I try to play Devil Woman to SC in St. Louis.

I know how incredibly lucky I am.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It has been a season of:

  • volunteering the odd hour at Babbo's public elementary school. I have learned heaps by doing this and have learned to like, really like, children.
  • ripping through novels: Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Groet, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green, Hundred Years of Solitude, and now David Grossman's beautiful and exasperating To the End of Land. It took me 40 years to learn to love fiction. Better late than never. Huzzah!
  • lowering A1c (blood sugar) levels for Babbo. We got a 7.0 - the best yet.
  • learning to fight with Matty. After nearly 19 years, we are learning that it's not too late to learn to fight. We will survive these odd, new bumps, and we will keep my bad temper in check. We have to at least try.
  • drinking whisky is still best with friends around the kitchen table. Got our resupply of single origin Michel Cluizel dark chocolate chips to go with.

The November 2 Elections

Tuesday's election has me nervous. On the superficial level, I will say this: there are some very angry, angry people who don't seem to find education, healthcare, equal protection for citizens who happen to be of a different color, sexual orientation, or religion as priorities.

At least locally, Measure C, a ballot measures which at least nominally seeks to protect a citizen's right to have up to four hens, has gotten folks into the practice of healthy discussion.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The hair is having a midlife crisis

Have shorn off the hair. It happens every ten years. I look like a middle aged mother now.

It is nice to get away from the thing that is so tied up with identity. Hair schmair.

Friday, August 27, 2010

But I was very, very sleepy

Kindergarten started, and I'm cycling/driving up to school (only 5-8 minutes away) up to four times a day before 1:15. The first week was super duper intense, but the staff at school are very helpful.

I have had flashes of intense sadness for the kid - he's got years of this stuff (the machine that is school) ahead of him. Luckily, he digs it all and enjoys learning.

The sewer lateral at the rental was broken at the main and $1,000 in diagnostics and god knows how much for the actual repair (apparently, I am married to a good ol' boy with good karma and the city gladly stepped in to do the work near the main - at a discount, when compared to a private plumber - It was major, they had to shut down the eastbound lane of East Line St.) - later, it is done.

Matty didn't get covered in raw sewage today. He's out fishing because work still slow at the office.

It's still nearly 100 degrees each day, and I'm passing out on the couch or bed very, very early.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Still reeling from the show that was

I mentioned that I had a bit of stress during the show because Babbo was a bit clingy, but we had beautiful Sandra there to take him home if he needed it, and how rude would it have been to deny him the chance to see the dude who sings his favorite song of all-time ("She's Been Talking")? Little did we realize that Babbo had long committed the lyrics to memory. The best part was, he learned "Car headlights creep across the sea" as "Cotton ice cream across the sea...."

Perhaps the realization of all that was happening didn't hit me until we (Steve Carosello, Marc Horton, Bibi Gellert, Tony Patti, Chantelle Patterson, Matty, Karen, AT, etc.) were sitting around the kitchen table for the SECOND night drinking scotch with Don McG and folks were happily shouting over what books he NEEDED to take home. (AT set everyone up nicely with a box of uncorrected proofs and new publications from her publishers, and I ran and got another copy of William Boyd's "Any Human Heart" to give away). All this together, with a generous dram in hand, made me do a dance on the kitchen floor.

It was a privilege to strategize about my fantasy Bishop shows with dear friends who wanted the same thing and with the man who could help. The consensus was that one day, one day, a permutation of the Bellbirds (with the heartbreaking Sean SJD Donnelly, Sandy Mill, Victoria Kelly, and Don McG) and Humphreys and Keen would be here. Every one expressed their deep wish to hear H&K's "The Overflow" done live - and it came up more than once over the few days we were together. We have put our good intentions into the universe.... We are a patient lot.....We will wait and see what happens.

Tuesday found four women piling into the car and heading down to Spaceland in LA. Spaceland is a hard room to play, unless you are loud or 20 years old and look great in a pair of skinny jeans. The sound was wonky. Some die hard fans came from across the LA basin. Singing and writing folks like Patria Jacobs and David Steinhart came for a listen. Chantelle Patterson came after a long road trip which began with the Bishop show. Bless.

Harry Sinclair with his gorgeous silver hair and the director Toa Fraser were also there. Bibi and I know that we can secure CD jewel cases in a minute's notice. Bibi did a great job selling CDs for the two shows. Marc Horton got the poster he created signed.

John Andrew Frederick of the Black Watch bought me a Shirley Temple. Steven played incredibly well even though his guitar kept going out of tune and the cables were failing. Steven is my talented, tortured, loving, generous, brother. I am always indebted to him. I think I gave him my bottle of Paddy too early in the night, though? Whoops? :)

The diffuse nature of the LA show only made me completely understand how special Bishop is.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Don McGlashan broke Karen Robb's heart and she broke mine

Spent much of the sublime show Thursday night watching Karen cry as she listened, really listened, to Don McGlashan's songs. She started crying on the first song "Don't Fight it Marsha, It's Bigger Than the Both of Us" at the line, "and I want you to be happy, but I rather you were here with me/perhaps we can arrange something ...."

Don McGlashan walked in on friendships in progress. Friendships which had begun years ago because of something he wrote and sang and friendships which have grown richer as other new and common interests enter the fray.

Wednesday night found us meeting like pilgrims over BLTs, beer, and champagne - Bibi had come from Atlanta, Steve, from St. Louis, and Marc from LA. AT and Karen helped Matty and me play co-hostesses (but they are the one w/ the mostesses). Steve was a friend from the Mutton Birds-Phoenix Foundation- Humphreys and Keen mafia whom I'd never met. We have been sending music, notes, and in his case, he'd been sending regional gifts - 2 lb tins of Spudmaster potato chips, a membership to the excellent KDHX radio station, since before Babbo was born. Carosello walked in through the kitchen door, after a long drive through Death Valley, and it was like welcoming an old friend home.

Marc finally got to meet AT. They had books and years of working with independent bookstores in common. AT came bearing a box of books for all.

We were settling in when I got a call from Don McGlashan, who came to the area a night early. Bibi and I knew about the schedule change, but I hadn't really mentioned it to the men. They froze.

An advance team of Matty, Karen, and Kate was sent into the streets to round up the singer. Carosello and I sat in the dark comfort of the backyard. In the end, much whisky was consumed, passionate but good natured bullshit shat, and even a fingertip lost (sharp knives, Spanish chorizo, ignoring the cutting board- ooh, dangerous combo). Don McG was lovely, relaxed, amiable, rolling with all the new faces, the non(yet) fans, the diehard fans, the chaos that is our kitchen. We released him into the dark, late Bishop streets, sure that we plied him with enough scotch and sure that he wouldn't get mugged.

The show was exquisite. Parts of it were stressful for Matty and me because Babbo has been in a clingy phase and so he insisted on laying on me during the show. In hindsight, he did just fine for a five year old. Other pilgrims arrived from St. Louis (thank you Tony) andLA (Chantelle, my beautiful sprite from Easter).

The ICA, normally a utilitarian room, was set up beautifully. I got to put out carpets and homey touches like our table, a glass of a big California red, a Fiesta pitcher of water. I got to watch my favorite songwriter in the world from the comfort of my living room carpet, laying out with my dear friends and family. He sang from a relaxed and cheeky state. The Bishopites hung on every word, saluted all the right sentiments (there was big, lovely applause when Don said that he saw his first hummingbird in our yard and that life would now be divided into the life before hummingbirds and the life after hummingbirds). My in-laws, Walt and Cass, and family friend and Matty and AT's 9th grade English teacher, Chris, and Matty's pediatrician Dr. Beck, and a small cross section of the community were there, and they made me so very proud.

Every time I turned to Carosello, he looked like he was in a state of wordless shock.

Don McG's voice is clearer, stronger, suppler than it's ever ever been. The high notes were unreal, the low notes strong. The coloring, coupled with the clarity (I never knew the lyric in"Ngaire" was "I'm standing, but it feels like falling") sent collective chills down every one's spine. Karen, my rock of Gibraltar, spent the night weeping at the stories through a lens of heartbreak and recognition.

I watched her face as she listened to the lines from Pulled Along By Love:

Sun comes up on you and me and we fall out of bed
and we work all day
we're thinking about the weekend
we're thinking about new clothes
we're thinking about touching
but every one's watching.

Her wry smile- with her beautiful face turned up to Don McG- with her body seated up against AT- was the biggest present of the night.

Turnout was about 45 and 28 CDs were sold.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Don McGlashan at the Inyo Council for the Arts - One week and counting

I am forever indebted to the folks past and present who got us here. Now, fingers crossed for safe journeys to all, no road closures, lovely new fans, etc. etc.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

2,000 miles around the state

The Schoberlews hit the road.

We spent a gorgeous, wonderful, mellow, laid-back day enjoying music at the High Sierra Music Festival. Wellington's Black Seeds never got their visas in time, so they missed their set. Pity too. It was the most well-organized, kid friendly festival. The Carolina Chocolate Drops made me celebrate African-Americans (living in Bishop, African Americans are a rare sight) and bluegrass and traditional music and the March Fourth Marching Band (in their 20 piece incarnation - they can go up to 40) mgade us all fall in love with hot, young, sweaty, talented dancers and musicians.

Karen and AT were there. There was licensed and bonded affordable babysitting (we used it for 2 hours). It was grand. We had our own drinks. There was a great Greek-run gyros stand that Matt and I hit twice.

Went to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. Had a weird, but typical run-in w/ a Bay Area white liberal of a certain age and demographic who gave Babbo and me a hard time for not being Chinese enough and for not being Filipino. Whatever grad student lady.

Camped in Bolinas, the part of Marin County where the kind but loud homeless lady can ask the librarian, "Got any pictures of the Indian six-armed Elephant? I've been channeling to it." It is a community in a true sense of the word - the rich taking care of the poor and the poor absolving the rich of their guilt. Wait, did I say that? No, it was a neat place to visit, but after a few days of not seeing the sun, we were glad to get out.

Met up with the Federmans and Marshall Minobe in Santa Cruz where we at gorgeous Mexican ceviche (shrimp and octopus) for days and Matty made the floors shake at the roller rink.

Came home for a week and hit the road again for a bomber run to LA to see mothers, cousins, doctors at Children's Hospital LA.

The diabetes crept up a bit last quarter. Just have to be more proactive about dosing at odd hours, it seems.

We're wanting to give Babbo more positive experiences around his checkups, so we got a room at the Travelodge across the street from the Hospital and took to the streets of LA. We did our version of the "Three's Company" opening scene and cycled the Strand which runs between Venice and Santa Monica until we couldn't cycle anymore. We're all glad that we made that effort.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chinese fire drill

Today, I miscalculated when Babbo would eat, and he got all of his insulin too soon. He passed out. That was a first, and it was bound to happen. The wonderful women at Country School House preschool knew what to do, and he was conscious and getting back to normal by the time I got there - five minutes later.

It could have been a lot worse. Things ended up just fine, and it turns out, we were all prepared.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Not the hair!"

Babbo finished a swim lesson course. Being our child and being from the desert, he is afraid to have his head underwater. So, he spent five out of six sessions with the toddlers in the 2.5 foot deep kiddie pool. He spent one day with the other preschoolers in the big boy pool, but wept until he could be let back.

For graduation today, they graduated from the kiddie pool to the deep end of the big boy pool. He used the diving board three times and jumped into the waiting arms of an instructor. He loved it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The last few months of motherhood have been full of those emotional interactions that make me understand why it is mothers have a hard time letting go of their little boys.

When I told Babbo that he would, in the scheme of things, fall deeply in love with someone and that I would not be the most important girl in his life, he looked at me with devastating sadness and wept, "No mommy, you will always be the most important girl in my life!"

Having said that, he was kissed by two different girls on the same day.

p.s. His not so wee adult teeth are coming in, and it's possible we'll need orthodontia. All I could think of was, "toodle loo holiday."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My own private 'Nam

It was an intense and reaffirming show at the VFW Hall last Tuesday. We hit our monetary goals, and we earned them because we fucking work hard. This show and Labretta were worth it, but I don't know that I have the stomach for rock and roll - or at least rock and roll in which the booze flows pretty freely. In the short term, I think I'll stick with pop and twee and folk in my own living room with the couple of sixers of micros and a few bottles of wine (unless of course, the Phoenix Foundation ever come back).

Janet, AT, and Karen were indispensable. They always are, but if they weren't there in Vegas on Sunday and Monday, there would not have been a show. AT and Karen spent a whole extra day and night in Vegas waiting for Sean, the fill-in drummer from New York City to turn up. They dropped him off at ours at 10 am (after a 4 hour drive) on Tuesday, and Karen promptly went to work - digging ditches. I don't know how she does it.

The evening was almost shut down when the VFW manager, who had been very awesome to me, peeked in and happened to see the one time Labretta got up on a table to dance. He lost it and tried to get her down. A few drinks went flying. Luckily, the VFW bunting and the flags escaped unmolested. Karen and I apologized profusely. My body went into adrenaline overdrive (I think because I had the same gut response from the League of Women Voters' forum the week before, and it was just too easy to revisit that feeling). Weirdly, my body is still not fully recovered. I'm such a weenie.

The sound was wonky (we set up wrong for a cinder block room), and I was freaking out a bit because there were heaps of folks I didn't know. In hindsight, folks were actually super well behaved and enjoying the hell out of the show. Folks loved the spectacle of it, and one nice woman in her 50s had tears in her eyes. She said that she grew up here and never thought she'd see such a thing. Rural punk teens found kindred spirits in the band. Max, the bassist, wore very, very high heels, orange hot pants, and fishnet stockings. I was so proud of my little town that nobody, not even the crusty old vets, said anything mean or homophobic.

The end of the night found me scrubbing the VFW lino, Janet vacuuming, and the VFW fellas admiring with our work ethic and being very pleased with the bar take for the night. We drank all the beer. I was invited back any time and was told very, very touching and personal Vietnam War redemption stories. The manager who threatened to shut us down asked if I could arrange a date with Labretta. "If not a date, how about a dance?" A city councilman offered to write a letter of recommendation for me in the "Inyo Register." We had tears, we had a virtual group hug.


The surreal and emotional nature of the night made me think of it as my own private Vietnam. Maybe I was too sober? I came home to find the band and AT and Karen and Matty arm wrestling and shouting declarations of love. Yes, I was too sober.

Mammoth was perhaps even a weirder show still. Wow, the nature of bars is so strange -you get people to part with their cash over booze so that they have a license to act like babies? Labretta won over a large audience at the Dubliner (the manager came 'round in the end and gave them a show). She climbed bars and the backs of large young Latino security dudes. The crowd went wild. I stomped and had a great night. It was great not to have a care in the world. The crowd was still a bit tight fisted with their cash when it came to the Koha/donation bucket. What's up, Mammoth? Nevertheless, all these weird promoter types came out of the woodwork after the show talking money. Some thought that Labretta and I were a couple. Bless. Davey Celloboy Huebner warned me about promoters a few months back. I am coming to understand why and view them with some suspicion. We all got home at 3 after driving in a white out.

The upshot from the week is that Labretta has grown her audience, and I think it could really go off from here. She's been invited to come back for bigger shows, and I'm so very happy for her and proud that we brought her here first. She really is an entertainer - polished, pitch perfect, and cheeky. As a performer, she wants her audience to become a little unhinged, and I think she does that oh so well. As a manager, she's bossy, and I can relate.

She and Johnny are family to me and the girls. Looking at the two of them play their drum (Labretta)/guitar(Johnny) encore was pure magic.

There were A LOT of late nights, bouts of insomnia, weird days of not eating properly, etc.
I was still getting up in the morning to get Wyatt off to school, or, to look after him AND to work.

I slept in Babbo's bed a few nights to make up for the fact that I was running around like a headless chicken for much of the week. Come to think of it, I don't know how I did it.

It was a joy to take the band to the hot springs on a day off (Labretta looked like a 1960s dream with her jet black Greek hair pinned 'round her head and a vintage two piece), to get some Big Pine Chevron burritos, and to tailgate at Klondike Lake (aka Redneck Pond). We had a goofy, beautiful late spring evening watching the moon rise. Babbo ate a whole enchilada!

It was a joy to gossip about New Zealand music.

It was lovely to see Johnny and Labretta thoroughly enjoying a bit of the Mule Days Parade.

I found the bassist Max totally endearing and the drummer Sean touching. Max, who left Wisconsin five years ago for New York City, had the humanity and sweetness of the Midwesterners I love. He is a boy young enough to be my kid and has lived several rough lifetimes in that big city, but he still retains his humanity and manners. Max and Sean (who are in a band called the Othermen) taught Babbo how they celebrate in Brooklyn and loved his stream of consciousness singing and kept saying, "We should write a song like that."

In other music news, am still hoping that something becomes of the Don McGlashan pitch. I'm hoping the ICA will want to host the night. Bibi and I have come up with a modest guarantee. There was a kid who professed his admiration for Don McG at the VFW show. It came out of left field. I took his email address and promised I'd contact him if something happens. Somehow, I had focus enough the next morning to dig the crumpled slip of paper he'd written on out of the trash. I guess that's how one grows an audience, too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Speaking of wonderful 80-something year olds, I am missing my feisty, lefty, vegetarian, sparky, rabble rousing friend Blanche tonight. She passed away two weeks ago. Her parting dare to all of us was, "celebrate life."

I hope to rid myself of a lot of my pissiness and dread.

May 20th

You were quite a day.
You were full of mini-highs. I heard that Don McGlashan might consider a Bishop date. I got to wish Liam Luff, a DJ I've listened to for over 8 years, well in his new endeavors.
You were full of bumps. Auld Dubliner canceled its Labretta date. I scrambled around to a few would-be venues, did some emailing, and talked a bit on the phone. Why are venue owners so flaky?
You were full of soul-sucking dread. Three hours have passed since the League of Women Voter's candidates forum for county candidates, and my stomach still effing hurts from the stress and conflict of it. We dropped the ball and didn't ask the most obvious question of one of the candidates (Uh, dude, you were charged with accepting methamphetamine in lieu of payment for representing defendants in criminal cases. You were charged with being high in court.), and we let people down. We fielded over 30 written questions and had about 5 minutes to organize them. We had to throw out half. Almost all the candidates got softballs as a result.

LWV is supposed to be a nonpartisan organization. Maybe one dude, the crossdresser in town, was the only one who didn't have an ax to grind.

There are three of us who participate in the active running of it and with three of us, it's not working. After several decades of being in the area, the three of us are considering folding the organization. I know we are letting those wonderful 80-somethings who started the organization and who still nominally participate down, but who who among us has the time? Who has the time after work and family stuff to disengage the zombie and use, gasp, brain power?

Please, can I dream of wee burros and cocktails and holidays tonight?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Si, si.

Babbo has an assessment interview for the dual immersion Spanish-English kindergarten program on the 26th. No pressure or anything, Babbo, but it'd be sweet to have our own personal translator.

We've also applied to get Babbo into Round Valley Elementary. This school is 15 minutes away in a green pasture and where Matty and Walter (my father in law) went to school as wains.

Buffalo - The new Phoenix Foundation release is out

I was already obsessed with this tune, but in light of the BP oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and tomorrow being May Day, I'm spooked.

<a href="">Skeleton by The Phoenix Foundation</a>

the economics of a Bishop Potluck Society Presents potluck

Old Coyote Moon played in the living room last night.

Dave Huebner described OCM as a jam band, which was new territory for us. It worked well in the house party setting. Folks filtered in and out over the two hours, had a good boogie to the country, funky, bluesy, folksy tunes, then wandered back into the kitchen to catch up with somebody over a some new dish that'd just come in. The band expanded from its normal five (drums, bass, two guitars, and a didgeridoo) to seven, with the addition of banjo and mandolin. They made joyous sounds, and it was a lovely, lovely evening. I still am a sucker for Huebner's cello playing.

These musical potlucks are a bit of a financial roller coaster for me. I always offer a guarantee (my motto is, "My guarantees may be modest, but there's whisky on the rider.") because we are a very, very long way from anywhere and because, frankly, it seems that fewer venues in the big cities do so anymore.

My sister-in-law Kate used to handle the door, but she's wanting to catch more of the music these days. I don't blame her. With Kate on the door, we always took in more than what I guaranteed. Blink, who brought Over the Atlantic and Disasteradio, never worried about the guarantee because he could tell how good Kate was. We just handed over the "koha" (Maori for "donation") bucket at the end of the night, and all was good.

Since Kate became a punter, we've tried using unmanned donation buckets. It's been so-so because folks don't see or choose not to see the buckets. A few folks do come in with their donations over the next few days. Last night, we tried the donation buckets, plus Matty going around with a hat . That worked better. There are always some folks (Karen Robb) who give too much, and I've got to work on finding some middle ground.

There is the perception, especially by some of the younger kids in town, that I make money at these shows. I don't. All donations from the shows go to the bands and to Derik, who usually provides the sound/lights. The only time I've ever paid myself back was when I fronted the money for a hall.

Labretta is coming next month, and I've extended a lot cash for this show. I had been a bit nervous, but I've done a fair bit of Bishop-style, word of mouth promoting. Things will be fine. The"koha" bucket will be in the doorway of the VFW hall, and we'll take shifts handing out wristbands to those who've donated so we know whom to hound.

I can't and don't want to put on these shows as a proper business. For one, the economics are such that I can't afford to pay $300 (often more than my minimum guarantee) for event insurance for each show. I believe, and I may be wrong, that as long as these things are ostensibly not-for-profit private house parties/potlucks, they are covered by our homeowner's insurance.

I'm lucky that I'm still married to an easy going and generous guy who understands how much fun I have. He enjoys hanging out and meeting new folks, (maybe even more than I do). He plays co-host, and together we provide a bit of food and drinks for all the folks who come through.

Matty said the nicest thing to me after Easter when I thanked him for letting me host what was really just a huge sleep over for a bunch of New Zealand music geeks. He said, "Well, these shows are like your powder days" (ski terminology for the kind of day you call in sick for to play hooky). Yes, yes they still are.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Out of the infirmary gates, running

with love to Patria Jacobs for use of the photos.

The girl that you were in the back of a car
there was nobody left there to tend to your scars
all the aspirin in the world
couldn't make you less that girl
do yourself a mischief
if you could

Steven Schayer sang those words Easter Eve, and I think there were a few of us old gals in the audience who could identify. Heh. It *was* a week, and I'm glad that I came out the other side, alive, smiling, and still humming from the gathering we had.

Bibi flew out from Atlanta on Tuesday. It was stormy as hell, and her flight to Mammoth was canceled. We figured out how to get her on a bus to Lancaster, and I tore out of the house and picked her up 3 hours later. It was an interesting drive, with at least 3 semis knocked down from the west winds picking up speed out of the Sierras. The Owens Dry Lake looked like a 20 mile long witch's cauldron. We celebrated our safe return to Bishop with a few single malts. This was Bibi's fourth visit to Bishop, and she hit the ground running and made good use of the workout and caffeine resources we have while I did a bit of work and started to makes lists for the weekend.

Sue, AKA "the new girl from Wis-CON-sin," flew out Wednesday. She got to use Mammoth Airport, and it was smiles all around. She was a trouper and fell in to the flow of drinking what we were pouring (tea, wine, belgian beer) and thoughtfully chiming in about all things New Zealand music and everything else. Her New Zealand music "thing" started in earnest in the early 1980s and predates Flying Nun. Meeting Sue was like meeting a long lost sister- one who'd been to all the best shows and had all the best memorabilia.

Friday found the first wave of musicians Patria, Volita and Moss - a sister and brother from Auckland who are in the States to play and to record- rolling in from Los Angeles. I'd met Patria briefly in LA at Steven's last solo set in October, and we kept in touch over the months. I hoped that culturally and politically, she'd find Bishop full of kindred spirits. She is wry and cheeky and nurturing- my kind of woman.

Karen, my rock of Gilbraltar, regaled us all with love (in the form of her famous crack and mac mac and cheese, West Coast brews, and promises of freshly caught trout), tales of playing pool with Jeff Buckley, and her enthusiasm. Uncle Sniffy Mark came from the Bay Area and brought the gorgeous and kind Renee, who'd been raised in Mexico City, but conceived in Russia! It was lovely to sit in the semi-dark around the fire and the stage, telling tales, hearing snippets of live songs (including one from Volita called "From Russia, with Love"), and having a good laugh.

The second wave of musicians, Steven, Marc Horton (whom I met from the Mutton Birds' list back in '03 or so), and Chantelle, arrived early Saturday morning. Sue and I were bathing in the glow of Facebook on two laptops when they arrived. We promptly whipped out the meat products (tri-tip and carnitas), shots of single malt whisky, and silly hats. Steven treated us to cartwheels in the backyard and tales of an intensive New Zealand tour with the Black Watch.

Five shots of whisky (Old Pulteney, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, Springbank Sauternes finish, Bowmore, Jameson) later, we bade each other a good night and went to bed. Incredibly, nobody was hungover the next day. I credit ginormous pots of Irish Breakky tea.

Owen, the Kiwi who flew out from Chicago, arrived with with his friend Amy Saturday morning. They had a hell of a long day coming from Phoenix, getting stuck on Hoover Dam, overheating in Owen's '66 Mustang, and calling it a night in Beatty, Nevada. They still had what I refer to as "the alien abduction highway*" to contend with, so I'm glad they tackled it with fresh eyes and some sleep.

Matty took some folks to see Sky Rock, our local petroglyph. The soundchecks went well. Davey Cello Man Huebner turned up after a ski and met Steven minutes before their set.

The wind picked up. There was to be no potlucking outside. I forgot to cut the rum punch with seltzer. Folks arrived. I was strict with the kids about where they could and couldn't play - I hope I wasn't too mean. Patria picked up Derik, my sound man, for country lead guitar and Chantelle for pick up drums.

Wee babies - Eloise, Amaya, Soren, and their mommies and daddies turned up. Cousin Deanna and Nellydog (both whom we hadn't seen in ages) turned up.

Songs from both sets sent shivers down my spine. Patria sang with an effortless grace about grown women and little boys. Dave and Steven played beautifully together - like they'd been playing together for years. Bless Dave for putting in the time to learn Steven's songs. Bless Steven, the boy with the voice the size of a house, who, for the sake of decorum, changed the phrase "God damn" to "Gosh damn" on Easter Eve. Steven made Karen cry with his line that goes something like:

I'm going down to the Mission
going to light a candle for my mother
everybody says this won't hurt a bit
that's a lie that people tell each other

Post show, the group staying at the house and a few others sat around for singalongs. We Humphreys and Keen fans murdered the tune "The Liquor Talking" but did an alright Able Tasmans' "What Was That Thing?" with Owen on drums. Steven scatted a fine "Blister in the Sun." Marc and Chantelle led lovely Verlaines (Joed Out?) and Big Star tunes. Chantelle is this gorgeous auburn haired, dark blue eyed slip of a woman who plays drums. I am in love.

Volita and Moss played an impromptu set, rocking out and letting Karen and me to shake a leg.

Davey Huebner is a genius and slayed folks with his cello playing and singing. His "House of the Rising Sun" made me come running out of the TV room (I was hanging out with Babbo and Orin, who were watching Sponge Bob) because folks were stamping and hooting. Steven kept saying, "Please make him stop. It's depressing me!"

Steven tried out a very punk stream of consciousness "Walk Like an Egyptian" on Davey's cello.

We ended the evening with drinks, cups of tea, leftovers, and more drinks, with most of the crew going to check out the local honky tonk, Rusty's. Karen was the tourguide for the expedition and Matty, the chaperone. A few of us more sedate girls stayed home and got our jammies on. I had to send Humphreys and Keen's Peter Keen a note about the evening. I'd been calling the weekend a convention in H&K's honor and Marc, without knowing that, turned up with the chords to "The Liquor Talking" learned and the lyrics printed. All our geeky threads are long and intertwined.

The drinking party returned like waves of loud geese - so loud that Patria and I got out of bed to see what we'd missed. I came downstairs to find Karen madly making scrambled eggs for everyone. She had to get up at dawn to get AT from LA. Folks stood around the kitchen proclaiming how much they all loved each other and how talented they thought everyone was. Steven was plied with eggs and meat products and put to bed.

Babbo was in his element that week. Aunties and uncles played with him, read to him, sang to him. He got to play boy host. "Steven, my mommy made you this yummy (as he's chomping away) Carnitas!" He wouldn't dance to Steven's set, but did play a little light sabre air guitar.

Most of us went to Macey's Easter Sunday potluck in Keeler. My dad was there and it was nice to introduce him to folks. Sundays at Macey's are mellow affairs, and it was a good place for us to say our goodbyes to the LA-folks and to Owen and Amy.

Perhaps one of the loveliest memories for me from the entire week was being in the car with Bibi and Sue on the drive down to LA on Monday. We sat for long stretches without talking, but we did sing along to hours of the Able Tasmans on the car stereo - all this, without apology.

The weekend had been a Jameson and pots of coffee/tea-fueled affair. That, coupled with the late nights and adrenaline made it a wee bit hard to come down. Over a week later, some of us are still floating.

* alien abduction highway = HWY 168 desolate, mountainous, full of free range cattle and sheep, dark as all get out, and you're going to get abducted and probed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 8

Eighth day in a row that I've not been sick! Huzzah! Prior to this, the longest streak since December 17 had been a whopping three days. The viruses have rendered my arms funny - they tingle most of the time now- but eh, I'll take it.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Spring is coming and the boys have been here

Day 5 of feeling virus-free.
The Juncos, Sparrows, and House Finches (aka Sparrows dipped in red ink) are having breakky just outside the kitchen window.
The volunteer arugula has already bolted, even though it's been a cool winter.
The Hunzakut apricot tree hasn't blossomed - making this one of the later years in years.
Babbo is up at Mammoth at his ski lessons. Bless Matty for all those early Sunday morning starts.

Konrad came back from South America and spent a few weeks here before moving to the Coast for a while. Even though he's come and gone before, there was a bit more finality to this move, and I was wistful the day he left. He's been my practice 30 year old son. It was lovely to hang out with him, and it was lovely that he gave us a bottle of Bowmore.

Chris Dio came down from Juneau, Alaska, and spent a few nights here and there with us. It was lovely to see him again after the two or so years since he moved away. Babbo loved him very much and shouted "Uncle Chris!!!" every time he was downstairs in the morning.

Matty Birch is in the trailer. He plies me with cups of tea, and he's easy. Glad I don't have that crush on him anymore (going back six? seven? years now) - makes life much...simpler. He is here to climb those crazy hard boulders of his. He doesn't have that pressure he's had those other years to finish his project - and he seems more liberated and content.

Several hundred tomato and pepper seedlings potted up. Giving away half dozen to a dozen away each day, but at some point in the near future, my attention will turn outdoors and the seedlings with suffer. It is par for the course in spring.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

There is a god and it is a vengeful god

I don't know how, but I seem to have picked up another virus. Except for maybe three or four days, I have been with lurgy since December 17th! Luckily, this one seems to be of the 24 hour variety. This is good, too, because we're supposed to go to Disneyland this Friday.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I was giving advice to a Scottish man I know about how he and his fiancée could get married here in Bishop. They are coming out from Scotland for a climbing trip and thought it would be lovely to be married someplace as special as the Sierras. It made me sad to think that gay friends who actually live here are not afforded the same access to the simple forms needed to get married.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A thought for my Gung Gung

My mother's father passed away this week in Hong Kong, not far from the Donguan, China, where he was born some 86 years ago. He died in the city where he settled as a young adult. Circumstances found him in Southern California for 35 some odd years, but circumstances also found him back where he probably belonged.

At 40, he became the single father of nine girls, having lost the really capable, independent, and fierce wife he loved so much.

He was a husband and father who was ahead of his time. My mother, the oldest, remembered the letters of love and encouragement he carried in his pocket and gave to my grandmother each time a new baby - always a girl- was born. She also remembers that they were the only couple of their generation to hold hands.

My grandfather found himself in his 40s suffering a catastrophic stroke. Prior to the stroke, he had been very outgoing. After the stroke, he led a rather introspective life. He wrote long letters to friends with his left hand (a skill he forced himself to master. The Chinese, like many others, believe the left hand has sinister connotations, so folks from his generation were right handed). When he first moved to the States, he wept openly when he heard Chinese folks songs. He and my grandmother had been traveling performers during World War II. They went from village to village performing and doing things to subvert the Japanese presence in Guandong. As the years went on, he listened to the songs less and less, but I don't think a day went by that he didn't think of her.

In old age, he was very fond of basketball and mah jong. He was so good at mah jong, he could "read" a tile by running his thumb over the relief.

He is going to be buried with my grandmother's remains.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dr. Perry released me from his care today

and, as soon as the lungs have healed, I'm going for a ride on my bike. I've missed watching the birds, and I've missed the sun.

Planning some Bishop Potluck Society Presents houseconcerts. Steven Schayer and Patria Jacobs, with dear friends in supporting roles, will do a variety hour for us come Easter. Bibi Gellert will fly out from Atlanta for it. Awesome!

Speaking of Bibi, it may have transpired that our hand clap debut survived my being in it. That, or the fellas in the Phoenix Foundation felt sorry for the chick w/ no rhythm (me) and overdubbed the hand claps until they sounded okay. At any rate, we appear on Track 3 "Forget It" on the release, Merry Kriskmass. The release is a big psychedelic wig out that has really grown on me. When I first heard it, I was reminded of the 8 track tapes that warped in the Southern California sun and that used to scare the shit out of me when I was a wee kid. Nah, it's heaps more melodic than that.

In other neat musical news, lovely Steve Carosello in St. Louis introduced KDHX DJ John Wendland to Humphreys and Keen's The Overflow and John has been playing tracks off it on his fine, fine show "From Memphis to Manchester." It's probably the first airplay H&K have gotten in the States. From little things big things grow, indeed.

Speaking of growing, we killed my four potted up Pimiento de Padron plants in the hard freeze we had, but I have germination from new seed! And so, a new year *does* begin.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The longest two weeks ever

Mid-December started with a virus, which struck me down like a fool and gave me a cold, two weeping pink eyes, and sinusitis. You know you have sinusitis when you beg for a wood chopping maul to come along to split your head open like a pumpkin - anything to relieve the pressure building behind your eyes, ears, nose....

I am still part of the walking wounded. As a party trick, my body decided to fake a pulmonary embolism on what was supposed to be my first day back at work. After a few hours of intermittent, painful, heart clutching stabs, I followed my dear friend Diane's advice and went to the ER. After an ECG and CT scans (the iodine contrast makes you feel for a few seconds that you might be dying. The heat from the iodine spreads over your body like a wildfire and your lungs feel very heavy. Glad that they warn you over and over that this will happen), it turns out I have pleurisy, which is just inflammation of the lung lining. It's another viral thing, probably residual from December. I'll take it. I feel silly having had all this state of the art testing done on me, but I guess in the end, it beats thinking that I will leave Babbo motherless.

Eh, enough whining about viruses.

How about that new year? We had some wonderful, wonderful visits from Jean-Michel and Lucie, Mayumi and Erika, and Motorcycle Michelle. The visit with Matty's mom went well and so, for all that, I have no complaints.

I am one exhausted mo-fry, though.