Getting an “F” in School and in Life

I consider myself a lover of words. I like to listen to the words of others, and I like to write. I think I have had a pretty broad vocabulary all my life, and I like to make good grades too. You would never know this as you discover a minefield of typos in all my posts on all out platforms. I flunked typing class…yes, an all out F indicating a failing grade. A black mark in my academic record. If I were offered the opportunity to retake that class and expunge my academic record, I wouldn’t. For me it would be worse than a waste, and for anyone attempting to help me overcome the appearance of illiteracy, I would not waste their time.

As an aside, if I could touch type, I could also learn to skillfully play and instrument. If I could play an instrument, I would be out sharing my songs CONSTANTLY with anyone who might benefit from hearing. I am here to say that there is some kind of disconnect between my brain and my hands. I could not change it if I tried, and I have really tried.

About a year ago, I applied for a job. it was a part time job, that after a few months it became just a few hours short of full time. I nearly walked out of the interview because I sensed typing -Data Entry was required! But they hired me anyway, as the rest of my skills seemed to be worth trying to navigate the admitted/confessed risks regarding typing. I’m not sure that was a good choice, but somehow, I am retained…but I will tell you, my body and brains are in pain and agony! I am hanging in. I like the way at the end of the daily adrenal exhaustion, there is usually a neatly arranged stack of completed closeout paperwork, and I got to complete it within yards of planes, and all sorts of fantastic aircraft, and people…and I am humbled…so very humbled. Why they want to keep me I will never know…

It is not an easy thing to make a choice to show up, even though you are certain there will be a degree of failure everyday. The typing thing, among a few other glitches in my artsy fartsy non math-seeking brain [ “Look at the bird!”] have proven to keep me at a level of under performance that is driving my nuts, and taking a toll on my body. I stare helplessly, but loyally and committedly into a screen, when there are faces-Faces I cannot look at , and conversations I can NOT afford to have…I am a square peg and a round hole, and an absolute sucker for acceptance…and planes, yes the planes, my office has a wall of windows on the runway side, if I were not maniacally busy I would likely pine that I am not ON them.

I’ve I stayed many months at an almost full time amount of hours, but wanted warned and begged to be cut back to part-time. I knew I was heading for burnout or worse. Recently there has been additional help, and also my hours were reduced one some days, and eventually I will be back to a manageable amount of failure fraught hours. (Its not ALL frustration, I love my co-workers and the customers, and planes, and after many months I know HOW to do all the many tasks. I am tired but sticking with it. This should ease up once back to my original hours. I do so much miss interacting with my organization clients, interacting with people at a more graceful pace, and waking up with the sun.

My plan was to pass flight attendant training, and lay low through the probationary period, to earn the free form jazz of commuting to base,navigating mass transit in a major US city in order to get form my crahspad to the airport, and how to bid trips. BUT that came to naught when my class date was postponed for nearly a year, then revoked, due to the pandemic.

Musically speaking, I was rehearsing a “farewell concert when everything stopped, and changed for what seems like forever. I was going to take a year to fully concentrate on my new job. Well, everyone did that, and I got a essential worker land based job. But, my plan was to shoulder my new load, then take my music and another venture on the road. I was going to build a network of peers in each city, and try to rehearse a 3 song set in order to be ready for any open mic I might be able to find and participate in on layovers. The plan was also for me to create a podcast of interviews with home grown artist like me, on a specific aspect of how we function withing their own spheres of influence.

The best laid plans…Now, I am knocking on different doors, to see if I can get some much needed face to face interactions before my evening shift, whether earning the difference between almost full time to half that, or volunteering. If I do it well, in the future, I might still be able to earn my wings and still remain deeply connected and invested locally. I will keep you posted, and no longer be as secretive about my day job (s.)Yes, most flight attendants have a second job, so its not far fetched. I guess when I was an unpaid parent doing volunteering, I became accustomed to juggling multiple occupations.

For 2 weekends, one in June and one in July, I stepped back into my home organizer for hire role, helping a family to de-clutter and prepare a property for the market.I loved the more relational ad conversational type of interactions with my clients It was utterly brutal to work full time hours over a weekend book-ended by regular near full time work weeks, but it was certainly definitive, and for reasons too complicated to explain in the post, I should be making another album this coming year, if we do not have a repeat of last year.

My empty nest clock began ticking December of 2019. It got off to an amazing start when I put in my application to a major US airline on New Years day at midnight, was interviewed on February 5th, and immediately and extended and Conditional Job Offer, and was scheduled for training in the beginning of April, and then everything changed…

I may have gotten an F in typing, and my posts are chock full of typos, but I was a straight A student in high school, while moonlighting as a corporate flight attendant intern- what an after school job THAT was! I volunteered like crazy and was very engaged socially…then I stopped for several decades to be committed to providing good for 4 other human beings to find thier callings.

If you read this far, thanks for letting me get more personal, now my posts can be a little less ambiguous. Music is just one aspect of the whole. My tag line on Instagram is “I am a bird -I sing, I fly” Sometimes I can figure out how to post there. If my social media platforms ever start looking good, I’m either paying someone else to create content or living a lie. Typos may be my unique seal of authenticity!!!

Funeral Singer

I took a break off of social media, for the most part, because there were some life passages I had to go through, and I did not think I could go through them publicly. The death of a parent is nothing you can casually comment about.

I do not believe I will list it as a public performance, but I sang at my own father’s funeral. I only could do it because I felt it was a service to my family and the those who came out in droves to attend. By way of video clip, even more powerful, was my father speaking at his own funeral, about that which was most important to him for others to know.

I selected two hymns, for sing along. The first was to bolster up our family for the coming hours, weeks, months and years. The closing was with my niece, who is a professional singer and actress. We choked our way through.

My mother requested that I sing an original song, and suggested “While My Father,” but while planning the service, that song felt like it would be a performance, and did not feel appropriate, even though the story part of the lyric is compilation of childhood memories with my father. Instead I chose to sing ‘Waiting for Heaven, because the last week of my D ads life, we lived into the story behind that song as wee surrounded him, keeping a 5 day vigil.

This post is a 2 for 1 deal- 2 Stories behind the songs, in one post.

“While My Father…” Do you remember falling asleep in the car, and getting carried into the house and tucked into bed, “as is?” Your parent left you in your clothes because you were out like a light, but alos somehow you recall it. Did you ever wake up when the car stopped in front of your house, but fake being asleep, just the be carried into the house, just because it felt like love? That vignette is in my lyrics. Another childhood scenario surrounding the moon appears-what person, child or adult is not captivated by looking at the moon. I recalled cozy nighttime car ride thought- questioning if the moon is moving, as if following the car. As usual, my mind is never satisfied to think one thought at a time, I recalled a more specific memory or series of memories in which my father was my knight in shining armor…

Cats…they like me, because I try to avoid them as much as they would like to ignore and avoid me. Sensing my kindred avoidance, they then begone to pursue me, and then the trouble begins…the sneezing and wheezing, runny eyes…I am allergic to cats. My Grandmother lived in a trailer and had two of them. Each Christmas, and after waking up early to open presents before my Dad went to work, we would leave our little pile of presents and my mother would take us to our Grandmother’s, where their would be Aunts, Uncles, and cousins, and well as great Aunts Uncles and 2nd cousins. It was sardine packed, and not only was it hot and catty, the cigarette smoke was a thick as a cloud. I faced that long afternoon and evening with unspoken dread. I looked forward to my Dad’s arrival after his workdays was through. Dad was also allergic to cats, so when he arrived, my own exit was secured. After he made up a plate form the compilation of yummy leftovers, he stayed just long enough in order not to be rude, and we would be out. I’d have been sneezing for hours, and he would kindly open the window if it were not bitterly cold, so the fresh brisk air could cool my face and burning nose. One such trip I recalled looking at the stars in a clear sky, and singing contemplatively about the moon, and asking if it as following,…I really WAS always singing and making up songs.

All those childhood scenes made it into that song as well as the feeling of being loved, taken care of, and taken home…it gets existential, and I convey that I anticipate that my ultimate home-going will be equally or more so attended with such love and care. As the song is about MY hoemgoing, and my memeores, ablet my best memeies of my Dad, it was too mch !st person.

I selected another song about home-going called “Waiting for Heaven.” For the reason stated already above, it acknowledged the long journey our family had just been through, while also pouring out so much hope!

“Waiting on Heaven” was a song inspired as I watched a mother lovingly tend to a grown son, who had gotten very ill in his infancy, leaving him in a state of infancy for the rest of his life. I wondered what it was like for the young man. I marveled at his loving mothers, and I witnessed first hand times where his blind eyes looked toward, and his open syllables expounded some sort of joy and longing when he was at church…it was sacred. What must it be like for souls stifled inside such physical brokenness. Hos mother was one of the most joyous and resourceful people I have ever known, genuinely encouraging others, and I believe genuinely content. I sat and wondered what was going on…The song begins with a toneless but deliberately heart beat speed of a cajon…the climax of the songs is a series of two-word questions, and two word answers, “Wasting away? {NO!} Wasting NOTHING!!!” “Going Away??? {Nope! } Coming HOME!!! Followed by a small piano riff that to me sounds like a royal pronouncement—Hear Ye! Here ye! So and so has just arrived!!!

Children and Grandchildren came to catch a few of my fathers last moments, and at the appointed time, some of us were there in that when my Dad’s soul, trapped for days in unconscious not so restful sleep departed his earthy failing body. We watched for another pitifully labored rise and fall cycle of his chest, there was none, and in the silenced it was we who gasped, in awe that we had witnessed the very moment his soul also began to experience ultimate aliveness! That song kindly walked through the labor, the questions, and hope.

What more can be said….

Just Above This Curtain April 2020

Well good morning. the sky is blue, birds are singing, and spring is finally obviously springing. but the world has changed in ways few of us could have imagined. the amount of suffering, sorrow, and distress in the world is almost inconceivable, we listen, but the front-lines know.

 

I am finding that I am not writing songs in the midst of additional hours and days. My mind is busy.  I’m finding that my lyrics fail. When I think about posting a song, I don’t. Even though most of my songs are about courage and hanging in. There’s always something lacking. 

 

This morning I woke up in my own bed, but as of 3 weeks ago I was scheduled to be waking up in a different city, and experiencing my first day of a month-long training for a new job A  “day job” well actually probably an all-night job too. I waited for this day for more years than I should probably say in public, but I am not sad. I am right where I am meant to be. 

 

I want to give this hurting world something. I have always felt that way probably all my life. All I have to offer are some shabby songs. I ask myself this morning which songs should I tell the stories behind today? The only one that came to mind was “Just Above this Curtain.”

 

 As I sit here any type plane on short-final approach flies over my house and think about the people on board. Who are they? They are landing nearby, but ultimately, where are they going? Right now the people who are moving from place to place with gravity, duty, or perhaps fear.  

 

“I  would like to be home by tonight but it’s not in my hands on this flight…”In this song, I refer to a “bumpy ride” – aka turbulence.  I refer to not knowing what is coming next. I refer to a fight, which could be interpreted as everyday daily battles, or something bigger. 

 

The bottom line is a message of  assurance, even if neither I nor others appear to know the scoop, or seem to be in a whiteout, and not sure where we are going 

 

I trust who I will see when I am just above the thin veil which separates the life I know now, full of challenges and the life which is to come for those who’s faith and trust is well-placed.

 

From the book I read from first thing every morning, come familiar words and phrases, ‘fire in the night…cloud’  a navigational system supernaturally and mercifully placed to guide a people coming out of terrible times, and into a Promised Land. 

 

 Because I make music across a wide range of platforms,  among many people, I try to be very careful, not to use language which would be hard to understand. I hope that when people meet me they can sense the sincere love and concern that I have for each one. 

 

Without that love and concern. Nothing that I do from preparing meals, washing dishes, laundry, cleaning, writing songs, sharing songs, or working a day job of hurling through the sky at 35000 feet, at several hundred miles per hour…No, none of it would have any meaning, without Love.

 

“I’d rather Cry by a fire in the night, enveloped in Cloud and no one can see where I am going. oh yeah it’s been a bumpy ride, yeah, I’m still hurting, but one thing is for certain, that I will see you with my own eyes just above this curtain.

 

Clouds in my eyes – Can’t trust my own sight, Guide me through blindness like a fire in the night.  Tracing my tears, shaping my song…No time for fear – keep pressing on…

 

The lyrics are played by my band with a happy hopeful upbeat island sound. I do that, I wrote gut-level angsty lyrics, and can wrap them in a hopeful sound. I wonder if I were skilled at playing my own instruments If I could or would create a different pace and feel? 

 

I have been quiet for quite some time on the songwriter front. I did give fair warning that I was shifting gears, but I really wasn’t specific about that. my days had been filled with studying three-digit city codes, identifying flashcards with pictures required equipment,  and a whole new set of terms and definitions which were to become a new language for me.

 

I had laid aside my songwriting, with the exception of having had assembled and been rehearsing a coffee house event which was to be a sort of a farewell, and though there still may be a farewell oh, I’m not sure if there will be an event like that. So much has changed.

 

I have to figure out a way to work within the walls of tasks and also feelings.  These are some of the hardest times I’ve ever known in my lifetime, but not for me at least not yet for others. and for that, my songs are not enough…we must all love our neighbors and do our very best. 

 

So much Love,

Rebecca

 

PS

 

I have been writing books based upon canine characters, and for now, the names have not been changed as they are Loosely based upon our pets. the purpose of these books is to illustrate some of the ways in which children who have experienced trauma might respond in a home and family setting afterward and while learning how to do life and family again. 

 

My hopes are that the books will foster both empathy and discussion with other children surrounding little ones who have suffered trauma about some of the stress and misunderstandings. The books are turning out to have a comforting cadence, and tackle some odd subjects, with so much love, that there is assurance and security.

 

A Sheepish Confession, but Wheat-Free

What? Look, I have enough trouble thinking up song titles.  I pull out a reasonable preposition like a 3m hook and put it up. Sometimes, upon peer or professional review, another title is suggested as more suitable, and though it does make more marketable sense, resistant to change, I keep my comfy preposition. My bad.

That was not the confession.

In thos post I want to highlight the song I have so far called “A Grain of Wheat.” It has barely and roughly bee recorded in alive setting, but I have not yet been able to swing the production of many more songs. Perhaps when I do, someone will suggest a title change, for now that is the name, and I am stiking to it, even though I am gluten-free.

That was not the confession.

The story behind the song “A Grain of Wheat” goes like this. Once I hard a story from a man who spent most of his working life in East Africa. He and his family were sent to the beach for some much needed R&R. Offshore there was a reef, and behind the reef was a story. It was a story involving a shipwreck, and the wrecked ship became a part of the reef on which it went aground.  The ship was loaded with grain to be sold, during a time of great famine. It was suggested that some or part of the grain be unloaded, and perhaps the vessel could go on. Perpahs local people could help with this effort, and be rewarded with much-needed food. The owner refused the suggestion. The boat sat, in the heat, tides alone would not dislodge it. As the grain sat, in a watertight hold, gasses built up. Finally, the owner decided to offload some, but the gasses killed anyone who tried to release the grain. The entire load was lost, as well as the ship, which became part of the reef. This is a story of greed. There are words in this song that allude to this story. “A grain of wheat, festering in my hold.” It was suggested to me that I switch out the word hold, maybe for the word hand, but I did not, I wanted to keep the nautical vessel term. This becomes critical to my upcoming confession.”Hold” is a near rhyme to the word ‘soul.” Hold only that thought, that rhyming pattern, for my later confession, but that can wait.  So the song is based on a combination of three things: The story above, the Holy Bible [John 12:24, Mt 19;29, and the Parable of the Sower from all 4 Gospels] and lastly, a quote from 1950’s martyr Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.” You can see the similarities. The Bible is fair game because at this point it is public domain, and my reference to the Elliot quote is found in this allusion, “nothing to keep, and nothing to lose” Lots fo source words and ideas in there. But there is one word I knew shortly after the song was finalized, I had heard elsewhere, crust. My husband has a favorite song, by a father missing his son, and it uses the word crus and soul in the same phrase. The rhyme is with the word control, but still, I am sure that the fact that the idea of a crusted soul could not have been original. Though not plagiarism, or sampling ( am music plagiarism term) it always sort of bothered me that if ever that person, whose music fed me so very much, heard that line in my song, they would think…Hmm sounds familar…eye roll.

I try hard not to name drop as it directly relates to my music unless  I have had asked and been granted permission. There are those whose music and ideas mean so much to me and have nurtured me so much, I feel tongue-tied in their presence, even though I know they are people just like me.  But I had forgotten about this crusty little soul secret of mine until very recently. I was attending a conference where the speaker was one of those people. I saw others walking up and talking to this very approachable brother, but I was not going there. But, I did find others who I had been delighting in getting to know throughout the event. One was a man with an accent that sounded familiar, but not quite, like he could have come to form a part of West Africa I had been to twice, and I had to have word with him. Turned out I was wrong, he was from East Africa. Decades ago I could tell the difference between upper west and upper east African accents…weird, I know. But as I was wrong, I do a bit of name-dropping to move the conversation a hair off of awkward, and say, Oh you were from this region, did you know so and so? So-and-So is the man whose story my song is based upon. Then I tell them this story. it has happened before, that my conversation mate does know So and so, and yesterday, yes, it happened again. As the event was artful and spiritual, and I am an a songwriter, I say I worte a song based upon the sad story of the shipwreck, and the conversation continues to ramble about and move and make the world seem like a smaller place. BUT yesterday, I felt a quick shot of horror to recall that the presenter was whose crust I must have gotten my crust. I know, I am weird, I do not think anybody cares a bit about this, but this is just typical me. My mind runs circles around itself, and I second guess myself far more than anyone else ever would. I like to unwind others who are like that too, so I am trying to have grace with even me. At Ease!

It have tried so hard not to let my lyrics music be influenced by anyone else’s. I aim to be on the very safe side of original. I am pretty sure, with the exception of Biblical themes and references, I have stayed in my own lane. I am so thankful that I can only create songs on that which my uniformed butterfingers can play, so far so good. Exceot this word, and eaht is there are others, that I do not know about. But one word, My word, I need to chill out. So I am. I hope to look back and laugh at mid-life me someday.

This brings me to a story within a story. This songwriter, whose I heard speak, and whose music nurtured me from my late teens, through early and mid-parenting, and still has an impact on me, helped me through dark times, helped me to understand things I had read and wanted to get deep into my heart to overflow into do ing, not just thinking.   I can honestly say that his teaching had a direct influence and can be credited, though  I am sure he would not want to be associated, but with my band name and the foundations of my fake name. (By the way, I pronounce Selah with a hard “A” and an accent on it. it is a play on words, and dances lightly on my real name. I chose a fake name, in case I ever worked a job where it mattered, that there could be a degree fo separation. I have found out that that was an over-kill thing to do too, I sure am a person of extremity! But it is too late now. I’m in the interview process, and it has added a layer of complication to my paperwork. But I digress on my digression.  The fact is, I am finding out that everything seems to have been influenced by something. I watched yesterday as this speaker artist performed his songs, the looking at the lyci sheet, and not the crowd—(way easier and cooler to do when you self-accompany, rather than front a band, with no wood or electronics to hid behind!) I watched as he enunciated for clarity, with a sense of feeling like maybe me and my dense lyrical content are OK. I have been told to weed out words, and not make my songs instructional….yet such songs have preserved me for decades….scary hard decades. I listened as I heard songs which made me feel more at home in my own life and caused me to imagine and do better in my whole life floated on the air from the front to the very back where I was sitting, enjoying seeing the delight and attentiveness of the crowd as well.

It’s OK, it is all ok, and it is going to be OK. This weekend of being a “Mary” came in the midst of a most “Martha” season. I am entering something new and took a year to count the cost. I have had three paths to choose, and as I have knocked on many doors, the one that is opening is leading me to let go of some long-held ideas about how I was going to most likely spend the rest of my life. Doors which have opened might close others. I tried so very hard to make space for the other 2 paths. I was told I could do both. On Monday, there will be phone calls, and bags packed, and my shoulder is to the plow and I can’t looks back….except Oh NO!!! that was very lyrical, and I might have to write that in my song-hook book, which tyr as I might, I cannot shut out, because I hear lyrics and music in everything I think about and even when people are speaking, I hear words in tones.

Oh my very few readers, I must leave this lyrical life for a while. I must go where I am lead, and if all doors are open to me, this is going to be an intense year or learning and grasping a job that I am wiser to do, but it would have been easier to do in my 20’s. But it is good, and if I am supposed to be making music full time, or as was suggested, on a dual track, where I can self-fund by music-making alone, then it will be un-mistakably known. For now, I might not be here very much, my mind has got to be on pressing knowledge inot my brian, and polices and procedures into my memory, and catching every cold and virus my body has not already pitched out, I might lose my voice. No matter what I lose, I will be losing only things which I could not keep anyway. it is possible, that this “day job” will make it eaierfor me to work on newer projects, eventually. Them I could say that letting all these songs fall, over 70 in my regular performance catalog, then if they yiled 100fold, then I cannot imagine the good that could come from laying them down.

I am sorry for not coming out with my music earlier in my life. because when I heard about how heartbroken many singer-songwriters were about being on the road, I was afraid, really afraid to even make dated commitments on a calendar for events within even my own community, for fear one of the kids would fall out of a tree, or have a burst appendix, and have to go tot he hospital, and I would be off singing soehere, with my heart torn in half. Now, the itinerate life is upon me, but will not involve music, it involves loving and caring for people, in ways that have been proven to give back to me as fast as I pour out, and I am even gonna get paid…I will not know what hit me! I mut do this to be able to continue to give music freely. I have had interest from an independent filmmaker, and I do have some projects for film sync submission to quick get in the studio and do before I head out for hurling novicely for a feature film, and I might even see if I can hire someone to clean up a privately released album, and excepts form a live album, if I think my voice is going—rather than wait to re-make them. Those are things I must tie up in the coming weeks, or try to get back to as soon as I can add it back.

Who knows, But I DO know that the kindness of God is going with me.

Thank you to each one who has come to my live events, or has contacted me via the internet, or those of you deeper in the business who have reached out to me to encourage me toward suggestions and plans you had for me. I know, I winced, but you don’t know my heart or the needs of those nearest and dearest. Maybe if I weened out, I will get tougher, and come back to you somehow, with more stores and songs, because maye the stories and the songs will never stop, but for now, I am assuming that this chapter may very well close. But it is OK, and it is going to be OK!!!

 

 

 

Where the Water Tastes Like Wildflowers

In my mind, I can recall the drive from the airport in Anchorage to My grandfather’s house in Homer, Alaska. After long cross country flights on unpredictable non-revenue standby status, our parents had to stand in the airport searching schedules and prices for any available and affordable quick one hour flights in small battered commuter planes, some seating as few as 12. Of course, being impatient, we children preferred getting there in only one hour.  Sometimes that worked out, but not usually, and especially not at first when the whole family needed to have a full-fare ticket. Then it would be standing hopefully in line at the car rental counter, negotiating whether we would better afford to drive and drop off the rental car or keep it the for the whole ten days.  Then we would be off, leaving the city which stood in the shadows of Mount McKinley/Denali.  Very shortly we would be looking for Dall sheep and rams up the mountains on one side, and looking down at muddy clay patterns in the tidal basins on the Cook Inlet side. This went on for hours, and I was never bored, even though at home I would be looking hungrily at restaurants and asking when we were going to stop at one, there were none, or maybe one pastry shop on the 5-hour drive back then, but somehow, I did not mind, I was well fed by earthy yet ethereal beauty. As the roads were coastal, I recall as we got closer to our destination, one side I would see lush green, interrupted at intervals by strange places where some kind of natural disaster suddenly killed and stripped communities of some sort of pine or spruce trees, still standing, though weathered and grey. I always wondered if it was from some earthquake or with a tsunami pushing saltwater suddenly too far inland and messing with the freshwater in the lowlands, but I never asked, or if I did ask, no one had an answer. The longing for answers yielded to the longing to turn up the lane into Pap’s Spruce Cove. A five hour trip with no stops, not even for a bathroom, there were none to be seen from this road seemed long, but it never was. It may have been for my parents who were running on jet lag and too little sleep.

Though it would always be the middle of summer snow-capped mountain ranges with ice fields filling the valleys in between stood at a distance, but also seeming so close. In the pristine absence of roadsigns volcanoes, rising above the others marking the way. When going past small signs on one side for Kenai and Soldotna, on the other you could see Mount Redoubt, when you Mount Iliamna you could begin to get excited, and I am sorry to say, I cannot recall seeing Mount Augustine come into view out into the bay rising unmistakably from its own little ash island, because I was eagerly looking for roadsigns, like “10 miles to Homer.”  When we saw signs for places like “Anchor Point” you were allowed to start acting goofy, after about 24 hours or more of being awake, or only catching cat naps on planes, or between waiting on standby at gates hoping to catch the next flight further up and further in. I cannot recall the scenes we were approaching the outskirts of town, that memory is lost to me. All I know is that once we hit the town we would see THE (Yes only one) grocery store, Proctor’s, and beside it, WildBerry jams and gifts, the gas station, the Post office, Toby Tyler’s Art Gallery, and the turn off to head toward the Homer Spit, a piece of land which served as a marina and harbor for fishing vessels and ferry boats, and beach campsites for summer cannery workers, called spit-rats. Before long there was the log cabin style Baptist Church, then finally the Pioneer Cemetery with its victorian era wrought iron fence where brave homesteaders silently rest below, and there it was, the lane. The lane was lined with beach stones and pebbles tumbled smooth and flat in the waves so that they squeaked under wheels and underfoot. The air was clean cool and sweet-smelling, even if it was raining, and I suppose, that when the rain,  filtered down through moss and loam comprised of millennia of perennial flora, grasses, and berry bushes, that  Pap’s well water tasted “Like Wildflowers” to me. 

After I aged out of the system for free flight benefits via my father who for a major legacy airline, I could no longer go to my grandfather’s primitive homestead. I have heard that things have changed so much and that I would not be happy if I returned there. On the one hand, I believe that. I observed changes in the town over the years, as it shifted from a fishing village to a seasonal tourist attraction. I know that though my grandfather’s house still stands, even if I were granted a kind tour of the inside, the 1940’s refrigerator, with it’s tiny “pretend” freezer at its very heart would not be there, nor the smoothed pine trunk furniture hand hewed most likely during the long winter months in order to to make a pine board and batten shanty into a home. His house was neat and tidy, and the gardens were a feast for both stomach snow weary eyes, and supplied long dark winters in his root cellar. His yard was a fairyland for a little girl aged 2 on up through 17, where she could watch for moose, fetch buckets of smoothed round pieces of beach coal for the cook-stove where each morning a batch of hotcakes and home stuffed sweet-spicy sausage were made right on its top surface. I could opt to use the one tiny bathroom indoors, or the original plumbing, an outhouse with a proper cut out of a waxing moon on its door, or stand mesmerized as he cleaned and fillet fish on a wooden table for in the nearby smoker At least one large batch would be carefully prepared and tended and wrapped in small brown paper parcels so that we could take a whole suitcase full home for family and friends back in the “Lower 48.”  Smoke was an essential part of the welcoming sights and smells. It curled up all day from the stovepipe above a roof covered with moss, and each morning, when trash from the day before  was burned in a barrel stove on the bunkroom side of the cabin, taking off the chill from even a mere three hours of darkness of summer nights, and of course at least once during our stay the smoker, crafted from two 55 gallon drums, once housing a winters worth of fuel for Pap’s hardy pick up truck, but now smoked fish.
Oh the drives boucing along the road in the back of Pap’s old blue pick-up to the Homer Spit to check Pap’s net, and further back in time to his fishing boat the “Toot” which took us across the Katechamak Bay to the foot of the mountain range over which the summer sun presided and promenaded each evening just above the snow-covered peaks and ice fields between them, filling them up with what looked like a breaker heading toward us through his Pap’s two big bay windows.
We spent long days just swinging on a swing made of a thick scratchy rope tied into a high tree with the truck so side at the base three kids arms still could not span it in a hug. Some swung with one foot atop the other in the bend of the rope, and their hands grasping on for dear life, and another option notched board, or boards, as one was a two-seater. To swing you could go back and forth, but when you pooped-out, I would have to jump down into a gully,  ditch sometimes muddy with dishwater. if you tired just to go back and forth, you had to turn to keep your eyes always on the rooty bank, because you would have to course-correct constantly, or risk hitting the trunk full force and getting the wind knocked out of you, or worse. The older kids and cousins would stand in line to take a turn. For one side of the tree, they would run in an arc, starting as far around the tree as possible, then take a flying “roundhouse” out and over the gully, then hopefully land on your Flintstone-running feet safe to the other side. A wimpy take-off might make your meet the wall of the gully or the trunk of the tree…so you had to be brave and strong. My Brother would challenge himself to NOT land on his feet, but keep wrapping around the trunk. He was boss at that, except for a few times he was clobbered, but it was worth it, and gave me a squeal of excitement to see him fearlessly wrapped around and a few feet off the ground up the trunk, then unfold sending him back out an around the other way almost as fast as he had come the first time, if he could get a quick last-minute  push with his feet as he came away. I have to scan the pictures and digitize the film. Kids can make fun out of anything if given a few simple materials and un-scheduled time.
Each time I went spent a summer vacation, I came home stronger in many ways. Far from the usual trappings, like, grazing network re-runs of cool retro sit-coms of the late 60’s early 70’s on TV–I found things out about myself and the world around me. There was no TV.  I had time to think about who I was, and who I was becoming, and what I might have to offer the world. I still think about those things, as we all should, but not with the same expansiveness as then. The landscape has changed, but the mountains surely have not uprooted and moved south, winter-weary. They have not passed away to the shadowy unseen like those asleep in the Pioneer Cemetery. But I am not asleep yet under dirt and stone, so the verdict is that I should like to go back, come what may. My eyes long for looks at mountains. Tying in another song title here, though I would lift Up My Eyes to the hills (I did not write the words, those were written long ago,) I know where my help comes from, and I have hold of the constant, in the midst os s shifty world. This is the longing behind the phrase, “Take me back, to where the water tastes like Wildflowers. “