Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in the Colestin

Looking out our back door on 12/25/08

Here’s how we do Christmas in the Colestin, campers.  We love our kids and of course we want to spend the holidays with them, but given the historic amounts of snow in Portland, and a not negligible amount here with more in the forecast, we encouraged everyone to stay home. Arly Sue and Paul, however, were not to be dissuaded.  After many phone calls and solemn admonitions to be careful, they bought the last pair of tire chains in Eugene and set out south.  They made it to Ashland without a problem, but it was snowing hard on the pass and chains were required.  The $80 chains they had purchased that morning were refundable if they were returned unused, and since their car would never make it up our road even with chains, Sequoia drove to Ashland and picked them up. 

At the last minute, he decided to take my Audi instead of his truck so he would have room for their gear and presents.  Now the Audi is an admirable little car and handles a snowy pavement with aplomb, but it wasn’t really built for our road.  I leave it parked at the top of our driveway when the weather is this bad. So, Sequoia drove his truck to the top of the drive, made the transfer to the Audi, proceeded to Ashland, picked up Arly and Paul, and made it almost all the way home without incident. Almost. The hairpin turn above the last bridge brought him low.  He got half way up before the car fishtailed, slid sideways and almost jumped the embankment.  There they were, less than half a mile from the house, stuck. It was about that time that Paul realized he’d left his shoes in the other car and had nothing but his Birkenstocks.  What could he do but sit in the car while Sequoia and Arly spent the next hour digging, spinning the wheels, digging some more, spinning some more, catching traction, backing into another ditch, and digging some more.  They finally had enough and called me for reinforcements, which must have been a heartbreaking moment for Sequoia. Asking for help violates something deep in the core of his being, and asking ME for help is torture, plain and simple.

While all this was going on I was sitting by the fire all warm and cozy reading my book and drinking hot cocoa.  Upon receiving their call, I pulled on my snow gear, hiked to the top of the drive, fired up the truck and went in search of my intrepid travelers.  Sequoia had managed, by dint of massive effort, to back the Audi down the hairpin all the way to the bridge, so the vehicle was off the road. Once I reached them, he chained up the truck so we could make it back up the hill and we loaded the presents, gear and Arly, Sequoia and Paul into the front of the truck, which looked a little like 40 clowns piling into a tiny car.  I hopped into the back of the truck, settled onto the snow drift behind the cab and we headed home.  We made it about a hundred yards before being pulled up short by a large tree branch blocking the road.  I had just passed that spot not 30 minutes earlier, but the snow was still falling and, when a branch has to go, it has to go.  Whaddayagonna do?  We all jumped out and started heaving the branch for all we were worth.  After a couple of tries and much discussion, we finally got the road cleared. Arly declined the honor of the front seat and jumped in the back of the truck with me, and we bounced and shimmied home.  In all, it was a two and half hour trip from Ashland to our house, and another memorable Christmas in the Colestin.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More pictures from the Blizzard of Feb 08

Just to remind myself how much worse it could be

Call of the Wild

Another day, another hair-raising commute, campers. My car has been parked next to the house since Friday. This time, immobility was due to snow density rather than depth. It snowed and then rained then warmed up; all-wheel drive is of limited use in navigating cement. So, I had to wait until the road was frozen hard enough to be able to drive the car to the top of the hill. Solution? Get up with Sequoia at 5:00 a.m., bounce and shimmy up the frozen driveway, park at the top and catch a ride to town with my husband. I certainly could have made it out to town, but getting home in the middle of the afternoon would have been another story.

One of the nice things about commuting together is that we get to share the animal sightings. Last night we spotted a herd of about 25 elk in the hay field. This morning, we followed cougar tracks from the low bridge all the way out to the Colestin Road; big ones, too, the size of my fist. Wonder if the two events are related?

Well, it could be much worse. I'm attaching a photo of the aftermath of last year's multiple blizzards. We were hiking in and out for days.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost

Mucho Fire

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Colder than...

It was 8 friggin' degrees farenheit in the Colestin this morning, prompting remembrance of some of my favorite cold weather similes. (If the phrase in question employs the preposition "than" rather than "as" or "like", is it still a simile? Is there such a thing as an anti-simile? Does anyone else on the planet other than me care?)
Of course there's the old stand-by "colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra." But my favorite is one that my dear old daddy used to recite: it's colder than a well-digger's ass in the Klondike. One assumes that well-diggers' asses get mighty cold, particularly in the Klondike.
Here's a photo of your favorite music jokers performing at the Craft Fair. If Cletus's ensemble doesn't warn your heart, nothing will.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Where Have All the Dive Bars Gone?

Jon and Jesse and I played a show at the Wild Goose, one of the last smoky, smelly bars in town, a final holdover from all of the venerable old dives that were replaced by sushi bars and faux Irish pubs. Remember the Log Cabin on Main Street? They used to sell short beers for a dime during happy hour, dimers we called them. Pool table in the back, half a dozen Harleys out front and a tough blonde tending bar. And Cooks Tavern; how many nights did I lose in Cooks? Story goes that in the old days it was the union bar where the men lined up to wait for work. It had a trough under the foot rail so the waiting hopefuls could take a piss without losing their place in line. By the time I got to Ashland, Cooks had reinvented itself as a small town gay bar. On the weekends, we’d push the pool table out of the way and crank up the disco. God, I did I really dance to Madonna? It was no Studio 54, but a lot of drugs changed hands in the corners, and I saw more than one coked up college girl take her top off on the dance floor.

But that was years ago. What was I thinking all these many years later, playing acoustic music in smoky dive? You know the kind of place I'm talking about; Christmas lights hangin over the neon beer signs, laminate peeling off the tables, the ripped naugauhyde booth benches mended with duct tape. As of January 1, all public spaces in Oregon will be designated non-smoking, so this cold night in December was the last hurrah for the cigarette set and the air was thick. I tried to remember the last time I had seen people smoking inside. The floor was sticky, the toilets dark and dubious; in short, we were playing a genuine dump, and music was the last thing on regular’s minds. A group of friends had come out to support us and they whooped their appreciation like a bunch of stevedores, but the rest of sparse crowd couldn’t have cared less. A couple of old boozers sat indifferently at the bar, hollering to each other over the music. One old gal nodded in time until she started to nod off. A geezer wearing a tin sheriff star on his cowboy hat kept shambling in front of us, muttering intelligibly. A few students came in, assessed the situation from the doorway, and went into the next room to play pool, the sound of crashing balls clearly audible. We weren't exactly knocking them dead. But then, Jon would kick his finger picking into high gear with Jesse following right behind him on the banjo, I'd squeeze just the right wheeze out of the accordion, and the three of us would hit a perfect harmony. For one short moment the smokers and the pool players and the drunks and the college kids all stopped cold and listened. They listened. Just for a moment, we had them. It was heaven.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

News from the Road

Funny story from our pal The Kid, who recently completed a tour with his other band, Kites and Crows. They were playing a show in Seattle and had scored a place to stay with a friend of a friend. They were a little apprehensive about showing up a stranger's house in the middle of the night, but the alternative was to sleep in the truck. So, after their show, they made their way to the stranger's house and knocked on the door. After several minutes, the door finally opened to reveal a guy wearing boxers and a tee shirt that read "Sex, Drugs and Flatt & Scruggs". Made 'em feel right at home.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Woo Hoo!

You know that old saying, nothing ever changes? Boy howdy, did we just prove that wrong or what?

Now comes the hard part...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Winners and Losers

In this season of winners and losers, I’ve been thinking alot about dominance and submission. Why is this dyad the organizing principal of the human condition? In our relationships with our parents, our children, our lovers, our siblings, our friends, colleagues, co-workers, electoral opponents, there are always top dogs and underdogs. Humans are composed of leaders and followers, passive receptors and active aggressors, predators and prey, and the fight or flight impulse (advance and retreat) is hardwired into our biochemistry. The balance between the two (or lack thereof) manifests differently in each individual, but in every relationship, someone is always lion and someone is the lamb. Why is that?
The Marxist wanted to believe that the lion and the lamb could lie down together in a utopia of communal cooperation; from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. See how well that worked out. Rather than lions lying down with lambs, the dogs ate the dogs, and it wasn’t pretty. I hear that the “greatest generation” shared a common purpose during WWII. Perhaps shared sacrifice is the key, but even then there were black marketers and war profiteers. Why do so many humans naturally default to “me and mine” rather than “us and ours?”
For one weekend each year, the campout community generates a sense of “us and ours." We each contribute according to our ability and take according to our need. Is there some way to sustain that in our every day lives?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Music Club Rules

This work in progress needs your input. Please email additions and corrections to

Music Club Rules

1) Singer picks the key, but pickers reserve the right to modulate a half step. (In other words, Eflat my ass.)
2) Each musician gets one veto per night, except Joe. He gets two, coz he’s the bass player.
3) No shakers. I don’t know why; that’s just the way it is.
4) Regarding the introduction of new songs: you bring it, you drive it.
5) In case of a musical train wreck, don't stop! Keep playing till that puppy jumps the tracks.
6) All musical ideas will be considered, if only to demonstrate how ludicrous they are (a didgiridoo with a string band? It seemed like a good idea at the time...)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hamfist Harvest

It's Hamfist Harvest Time!

Friday Oct 24th
Elks 944

Hamfist will be covering Neil Young's album HARVEST from beginning to end. If you're like me, you spent hours laying around in your bedroom playing this album over and over again. It's a joy to approach the material as a musician as well as a fan. We recreate some of the songs note for note, but many of them have been arranged specifically for Hamfist by Jesse the Kid. So, come on out and relive 1972 with us. Extra credit for anyone wearing a suede fringe jacket and Frye boots.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Only Thing We Have To Fear

Thanks so much to James Dean for forwarding Franklin D. Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933. The more things change, campers...

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself— nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.

Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.

Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

There are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.

Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are in point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.

The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts of the United States—a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.

In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.

If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.

With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.

Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.

It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.

I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.

But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.

We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.

We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.

In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

water wheel in motion

rock me mama like a wagon wheel

As usual, Robert Hunter said it best: the wheel is turning and you can’t slow down, you can’t let go and you can’t hold on, you can’t go back and you can’t stand still, if the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.
The subject du jour seems to be Change with a capital C, campers, and what better metaphor than a turning wheel? With that in mind, I am attaching photos of James Dean’s new water wheel. Yup, Jimmy got a wild hair this fall and constructed an electrical generation system powered by the creek. The technical specs escape me; I only know that it looks like a ferris wheel for squirrels. It makes a steady thumping noise, something like a metronome; I think Hamfist should record a song with the wheel keeping time. It’s moving mighty slow right now because the creek is so low. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the creek is at full flood.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fasten your Seat Belts

Earlier this summer, conservative columnist George Will was on the Colbert Report (yeah, Colbert is one of my guilty pleasures). During the interview, Will stated (I’m paraphrasing here), that the difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives value freedom above all else, while liberals value equality above all else.

Of course, when they talk about freedom, they are referring to the “free market” not freedom of reproductive choice or freedom from warrant-less surveillance. But, I’ll accept the questionable tenet that conservatives love Freedom, if Will accepts the truth of that old right-wing trope, “freedom is not free.” The last few days have reminded us that the so called “free” market is built on the backs and paid for out of the wages of the working class. We produce the goods and services that power the “real economy.” (btw, I’ve heard that expression “real economy” several times in the last few days and would be grateful if someone could explain it to me. What the hell else is there but the “real economy”? The “fantasy economy?” That would explain a lot.) The CEOs who received multi-million dollar payouts while they were crashing our “real economy”? Those payouts came out of the salaries of the secretaries, IT staff, building maintenance workers, etc. etc. Middle class wages have remained stagnant or have dropped in real dollar value, while the share of the nation’s income going to the top 1 percent of wealth-holders increased from 15.8 percent in 2002 to 20.0 percent in 2006. Not since 1928, just before the Great Depression, has the top 1 percent held such a large share of the nation’s income. It's deja vu all over again, campers.

The public infrastructure that makes a free market possible, the roads, ports, and railroads for transporting products, schools to educate workers, health care to keep them on the assembly line, none of it is free; it all costs money. I personally think that health, education, welfare, and public infrastructure have value that goes far beyond the financial. Even if profit is your highest value, you must acknowledge that old capitalist saw: you’ve got to spend money to make money. But, the oligarchs haven’t been willing to spend money on the public good, have they? Taxes are the new red scare. For a capitalist economy to function in a sustainable manner, individual rights must be balanced with community responsibilities, but don’t tell that to Dick Cheney. You’ll end up on somebody’s watchlist.
The Bush administration cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans while simultaneously pouring money down the rat hole of Iraq. They spent billions of dollars that they didn’t have, but the criminals who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks have not been brought to justice and Al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in Pakistan. They spent billions on Homeland “Security,” but couldn’t be bothered to evacuate New Orleans before Katrina and haven’t managed to rebuild the city since. They talk about fiscal discipline but spend money like a drunken sailor, cut taxes on the wealthiest 1%, turn their eyes while the oligarchs drain our economy dry, and when the bill comes due, they sell more T-Bills to China. The dollar is in the toilet, the nation is on the verge of the biggest economic crash since the Great Depression, and they have to unmitigated gall to scold Americans for “living beyond their means.” Living beyond their means? What else has the Bush Administration been doing for the last 8 years?

It’s a scary, world Campers.

Monday, September 8, 2008

HAMFIST - upcoming events and stray thoughts

Craving your Ham-fix?

Sept 12th
Ashland Elks Club
(this is a low key, acoustic affair around the piano with No Joe)

Sept 28th
OSF Green Show

Sept 29th
Ashland Armory
21 and over, $20 admission. We're playing a 20 minute warm up set for a women-centric burlesque show. We've settled on a set list, but I would love to hear your input on the most important issue: WHAT THE HELL SHOULD I WEAR?

Nov 8th
Wine Auction

Dec 5th
OSF craft fair

The members of Hamfist continue to grapple with the eternal existential issues: Who are we? What are we doing? Are we a string band? A folk-rock band? A country-comedy act? We have so many musical axes to grind and each of us brings our own strengths and preferences. The beautiful thing is that we all make space for what the others want to do. There's a real generosity of spirit here, and it's precious to me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Revenge of the Nerds

It's another beautiful day at the art factory. I'm currently writing playbill bios for dead playwrights. Did you know that as a young man, Miguel Cervantes was kidnapped by pirates and spent five years in captivity in Algiers? After four unsuccessful escape attempts he was finally ransomed by a family friend. I love that kind of stuff, which officially identifies me as a hopeless theatre geek. It's the only category I've every "run" on Jeopardy (well, that and 19th Century Authors, but that's another obsession.)

I've been thinking about geeks this week as I watch the convention. One of the raps against Obama is that he's too wonky, too geeky, too reserved. He doesn't come off as a Joe Six Pack. Since when has geniality become a requisite for leadership? Here's a ferociously intelligent man, thoughtful, nuanced, complex, and people won't vote for him because he doesn't watch NASCAR? What the hell is the matter with this country?

It's all just code for race isn't it? When the right wing conveys the message that Obama is exotic, unusual, not like us, their talking covertly about race. When they refer to his supposed elitism, it's code for "uppity negro." They don't want to vote for a black man, but they can't admit it, even to themselves.

I am so looking forward to voting for a fellow geek. I've been waiting my whole life to vote for someone who doesn't dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator. Those jocks who kicked our asses in high school? They voted for George W. Bush. It's our turn now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hamfist City Hall Recordings

New recording of the Ham and Squash 08 tour available at:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hell Outs

James Dean has some friends in a band called The Hell Outs. They roam the streets in a pack, pile into a bar unannounced and play loud, obnoxious music until the owners scream at them to "get the hell out!" Hamfist was channeling the Hell Outs last night. We were supposed to play the pre-show for the OSF Aids benefit on the courtyard stage from 6:00 to 7:00, but at about 5:00 it started pouring rain and we were cancelled. As we sat in a bar nursing our wounded pride, Jon Bates said, "You know, no-one's in the Bowmer" (OSF's older indoor theatre.) Jon tracked down OSF's production manager who gave his blessing, Jesse turned up the lights, I made some signs, Ellen acted as house manager and within 15 minutes we were onstage in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. It was very Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland; "hey, my uncle has a $20 million theatre; let's put on a show."

To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, we ain't proud...or tired. If someone is dumb enough to say we can play then, goddammit, we're gonna play . We ain't in this for the money. Anyway we already had our band outfits on, and it's a shame to waste couture...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

God Bless Hank Williams

Why, you may ask, am I posting a photo of Hank Williams? No particular reason, other than he's freaking AWESOME.

Ah, the many hours I spent in the front seat of Smitty's Chevy Caprice, his Pall Mall smoldering the ashtray, Hank Williams wailing on the radio. I used to turn up my nose at my dad's favorite musicians, people like Hank, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, etc, etc. Ironic, no?

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Flies

When the flies arrive in the Colestin, campers, we know that cattle have been grazing along the creek. It’s August, the creek is low, the grass is dead, the cows are ranging far in search of forage and Musca domestica season is upon us. Jean-Paul Sartre reimagined Aeschylus’s Furies as flies pursuing Orestes across the universe for his primal crime. Our flies certainly feel like punishment for something, but I don’t ascribe cosmic significance to them. It’s just another season on Cottonwood Creek and, as that great Zen master the author of Ecclesiastes said so beautifully, “to everything there is a season.”

(btw, if you ever have a hankering to re-examine the Bible as literature instead of the received word of God, I highly recommend starting with Ecclesiastes. Its Hebrew patriarchy crossed with Buddhist detachment is remarkably enlightened. All is vanity, indeed.)

We had our season of heaven, that brief period between Mud and Dust when the mock orange is in bloom and our world is green and fragrant. It’s now the season of the flies, when the flowers wither, the grass dies and the topsoil blows away. We’re left with smoke, stickers, snakes and bugs in abundance, but they all have their purpose. Soon it will be "fly season" of another kind, when the helicopters begin their harrying. The only purpose they have is sinister. Give me the Muscas any day.

Sequoia and I drove home from Ashland late on Saturday night. As we crested the Siskiyou Summit, we could see a patch of wildfire glowing on a ridgetop to the southwest. No telling how far away, but too close for comfort; put the fear of god into us, that's for sure. This is what late summer is like in west, my friends. Meandering green threads mark the dwindling watercourses. Everything else is dead, and much of it is on fire. We live in a desert, we just refuse to acknowledge it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We had a great time at the camp out this year.Thanks to everyone who worked hard & played hard...the pizza was wonderful... special thanks to Lowell. I really enjoyed the music.So many good players & singers.Ham Fist is a dam good band...I would love to be a "special guest" at one of your shows some time

We had an uneventful journey home to AZ.Lots of smoke from the fires in No Cal though.Now we are back to work & getting Micah prepared to go away to college & Sierra is getting ready for junior year.

See everyone next year.Some of you we will see sooner then that