I wrote a new song called “Turn It Off”….it’s about turning off the TV. I like it very much. I use the word “freakin'” in the lyrics. Ha ha!
OK….That’s where I was this weekend, figuratively and literally….I went to Oklahoma City, OK for a weekend of making music.
Friday, I landed in OKC and was picked up at the airport by a very frisky, perky human being named Sherry. I had arrived to sing at a Christian Camp for disabled kids the following night. We got in the car and the first thing I said was, “I notice you’re Disciples of Christ…just to let you know, I’m a Methodist…” and she laughed and said, “Oh, girl, we’re even more liberal than you are!”
It’s very confusing to have so many different kinds of Christians in the world. Some Christians get very pissed off.
Some Christians are praying for souls, including mine. Some Christians love me the way I am, mistakes and all, and some are all and more and so I try to just be what I am and allow God to move me in mysterious ways. I try to be a conduit for a moment of love, a moment of connecting. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the enormity of it all. Saturday afternoon I was studying the bible,
looking up passages that had to do with making decisions and confusion. The bible is a never ending source of interest to me.
I was thinking how much J.K. Rowling’s books and the bible have in common: death, fear, blood, family, betrayal, lies, adventure, travel, kingdoms falling into ruin, kings being challenged, main characters who want to do the right thing, main characters who stray and become lost in a tangle of denial or desire, giants, wine, lots and lots of water, sea creatures, darkness, light, resurrected beings, snakes, crazy people, caves, even unicorns. Yes, the bible mentions unicorns, did you know that? At least that’s what I seem to remember. I’ll have to look, but I believe they are mentioned in Genesis, or around the time of Noah. (I know that Shel Silverstein also mentions the unicorn in his song about the ark, but that’s an entirely different conversation.)
I stayed in Guthrie, the nation’s largest historical district. None of the buildings built were over four stories tall. I stayed in what used to be an 1800’s bank, later turned into a hotel in the early 1900’s. All red brick and white mortar. I walked into Room 304, right up the stairs, and thought there was a mistake…my room was enormous, with two four poster beds and windows that reached from ceiling to floor. (The hotel also houses a theatre (“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” was the current production) and a coffee shop called “Freedom of Espresso”. I bought a macadamia chocolate cookie. Whoo! It was tasty.)
My friend, and yours, Robin Macy came over from Kansas for a visit, since I had Friday to play around. We drove outside town to sit and chat with her parents in paradise. We sat in the evening air, under an arbor of green leafy vines and tiny white flowers, sipping water (me) and wine (her dad) and coffee (her mom) and nothing (Robin.) We chatted about life and love and the 100 year old farm I was enjoying. The farmland was all red, red dirt, although down the road there was some milo growing, and the grounds of the farmyard had a variety of flowers and growing plants.
If you haven’t witnessed the dirt in Oklahoma fields, you can’t imagine the shade. It is poignant; it is compelling. I wanted to walk over and roll around in it. It was so LUSH. It is the red of a blush from a first kiss. It is the red of a pouty baby’s mouth. It is red dust, settled over centuries into a silty clay that turns trucks into giant lipstick tubes.
The Macys still own 160 acres of farmland. I can’t even picture how much land that is….just on and on, that’s what 160 acres sounds like to me. Sounds like I need a horse to get to the other side…
The night was so still. A hummingbird came and lighted on a branch, momentarily. I had never seen one sit down before. The sprinkler was sh-sh-sh-shing the wide open sky and happy grass as we ambled on, time a tickin’ lazily, laughing, sharing views on religion and marriage and open heart surgery and hernia operations. I went inside the centenial house and thought about all the people who had walked across the worn, wooden floors. I imagined ice cold lemonade and babies being born with out the aid of a doctor; of a coyote howling at night, the stars not being held back by city lights. I thought of people making love and growing old and moving on and missing the land. I fell in love with Robin’s family pictures; one even had Will Rogers in it with her grandfather. More so, I fell in love with the history of a family, the heartache and the adventures and the will to survive and count blessings. It made my heart ache for my little family…and then, just as quickly, joy filled the same heart for all the history we are creating here, in the house of many colors, in Austin, Texas, and I wanted to come home and kiss my daughters’ faces. I wanted them to be there with me, too. I wanted to see Lance’s two-colored eyes, calm and clear, taking it all in, his fingers wrapped around mine as we swang on the wooden swing. Another time…I will bring them here, I know.
So, Robin spent the night with me at the bank/hotel. We stayed up late (late for us: 10:30 pm!!!). We traded songs on the guitar; that Robin! She ‘s such an explosive blue grass player on her old Martin. I had to ask her to tone it down just so I could hear the words of her beautiful songs. Her curls are still piled on top of her head and her presence lights up whatever room she enters.
People can’t help but notice her….in all my life, I don’t know of anyone like her. She looks unique, she is unique, she never falters from cracking me up with her bounce and joie de vivre. She has got to be some math teacher in the class room!!!
She sang a song for her mother; she sang songs about teachers. It was an A+ evening….
We slept well, and I even kept my eyes closed until 6:15 am. The window shades were broad, wooden shutters, so the light was nudging me as soon as it could creep in. I got up and did some stretching. I could see Robin across the room looking just like a tiny robin nestled in a giant bed, her little head and mass of hair poking out from under the picadilly throw.
We walked the square, saw some antiques, ate breakfast at a great diner called Katie’s. The seventeen year old waitress kept saying, “Girls, what can I getcha?” or “Girls, more coffee?” Ha ha. We were loving that! Girls! As if!!!
Then, Robin took me around town, and I heard about her great-grandmother’s home over on such-and-such street, and we drove by that very house, and the ones where her mom and dad grew up, and the strange Masonic temple and another home that had been in the family that is now a B & B…..
After Robin had to go, I hung out at the hotel, showered and practiced some on my new Takamine….I am so pleased with my new baby! Did I tell you? I called up Takamine and asked them about my endorsement from a thousand years ago, and it was still good, and so, after 10 years of the same guitars, I am on the path to new guitars, and it is very exciting and almost too much. I have one here with me, and I am on the road to acquiring three more….things have changed so much since my last guitars! Next blog: all about my journey with the Takamines, from pawn shops to sitting in a show room. Maybe I’ll also throw in the story about the pink pick and the man behind the glass…we’ll see.
So, anyhoo, Sherry came to pick me up and take me out to the camp site….We got there about 4:30ish, and the first praise band was getting ready to play. That’s right, I was performing after three praise bands!!! This was a first for me, and I wanted to see what the bands were like. The first one was a trio that was well-intended; they were giving it all they had and giving thanks to the Lord. They were completely devoid of ego and just giving their all.
The second band totally rocked!!! The lead guitarist, an incredibly awesome guy, was a huge fan of the Talking Heads and
the CBGB scene in NYC; he was even sporting a CBGB shirt. I told him he reminded me of Eno; he thought it was cool I knew who Eno is! Ha ha. I almost told him, “I’ve opened for Fripp…” but decided that would be bragging so kept it to myself.
So, I loved the second band. Their lead singer was a young woman, maybe 23, whose name was Eva, and she jumped around in a neon green shirt with black sunglasses and I was up, hopping around in the dry dirt mosh pit all alone….I was sweating and having the best time; I was so sure someone, some of the kids, would hop up and dance with me….Nope! The bass player had a shirt on that read LLAMA PATROL and that just made me laugh out loud. The drummer was back of stage, banging away,
and Eva was just pointing and singing and thanking God in her music. It was very cool! I’d never heard the Sex Pistols meet
Stephen Curtis Chapman!
Then the praise band from First Christian Church got up…whoa! Maybe 15 people, including the musicians? Lots and lots of people. The cool thing about praise bands is that they can have sheet music on stage, like jazzers sometimes do. This band was having a GREAT time; by then, I had walked around and talked with many folks, including a young man, oh, about 25 who
was mentally challenged, comes to the camp every year…we had ridden around on a golf cart, and he kept yelling, “Honk the HORN!!!!” but the horn didn’t work, so I just kept yelling out, “HONK….HOOOONNNNNNNKKKK!” And I met several of the kids in wheelchairs with MS or other heartbreaking, dibilitating problems. Talking and hugging, playing bocci ball with several of the counselors kids; buying rubber bracelets from James, a ten year old boy with a heart of gold and a green dirt bike (he started it up for me…nice and LOUD!!!)
By the time I went on, the sun wasn’t so hot and the shade of the trees was my friend. Nice stage and sound….a man named Frank behind the board and Bruce helping on the monitors. My new guitar is a monster and so, even though I asked a few times for more voice in the monitor, the monster wasn’t leaving me any room! I am going to have to work on strengthening my voice to keep up with the new baby. Man. It has a tube pre-amp IN THE GUITAR, coil pick-ups under the bridge AND a pick-up for my fingerpicking directly below the strings. It’s a terrific set up, but gosh, all new to me!
So, I played kids songs and adult songs and by the end, all the kids were up on stage with me, and then I stayed around and talked with so many terrific people and finally back to the hotel, chatting all the way in the car with two jubilant brothers, Cooper and Conner. Lots of Star Wars and talk about horses. I was exhausted when I hit the hay.
Next morning, up at 6:15 to get ready: I was playing at two church services AND doing a children’s show in-between. I’ll just say this: wow. I wish you could have been there.
After services, we all went out to lunch…I haven’t mentioned Chris, the minister, or his sweet wife, Beth, or their two amazing children, Paxton and William. (Paxton played Vivaldi on the violin for me: Vivaldi that he taught himself by picking out the notes, one by one, and stringing together a flawless, ten year old performance for me….) William has the longest eyelashes on a five year old you can imagine. Like a camel, they are so long.
Lunch was great….I sat with a bevy of kids and drew requests: pictures of hammerhead sharks, fairies and a chihuahua (my first chihuahua I’ve ever drawn, that I can remember.) I tasted my first sugar grapes. I had some fresh pineapple. I ate
homemade macaroni and cheese and drank lots of water. We talked and talked until I thought I would fall out of my chair.
Mostly, I just listened. I gave away a Tinkerbell I had nestled in my backpack to a little girl named Zoya. Her brother, Trevor, is going to be a famous fashion designer…mark my words. All the kids I met this weekend, disabled or not, had me by the heart the minute I met them. How could they not? They are the most wonderful people you could ever want to meet…
Flew home last night, and Lance had dinner waiting for me. The girls ran out to the car when they heard it pull up and I dropped to my knees and held them tight and we kissed and laughed and ran inside and questions questions so many questions and updates on the weekend from everyone and Lance was happy because UT had won and I ate my meal and took off my shoes and isn’t that what life is all about….sitting down to a good meal, good conversation and knowing, later, you can put your head to a pillow and dream of a day like no other?