Blue Room Bar – Artist In Residence

Michael will write about this in more detail but I’m so excited I had to let everyone know that for March, he is playing as Artist in Residence at the lively Blue Room Bar in Cartlandia (a part of Portland).  Every Thursday he’ll be there playing and sharing the stage with mates.  There’s a link talking about the Blue Room on the links page but just in case, here’s another – Blue Room Bar.  We’ll post every week to remind you but check out the venue and come visit Michael as well.

The Key

We have a banner hanging in the bedroom of our RV. It Is supposed to be a quote from Buddha. It says:
“The key to happiness is not success.
The key to success is happiness.
Do what you love, and you will be successful.”
[this would fit into the Eightfold Path under Right Action and Right Livelihood, I would say]
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were three straight days of doing what I love, here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. On Wednesday night, I met a gentleman who is a songwriter for cabaret shows (he has actually received checks from ASCAP, which, I admit, is something I am still hoping for at some point).
On Thursday, I was playing the Casa Real Healthcare Center, where I met the staff psychologist. She introduced herself, and told me of growing up in Brooklyn, struggling with Spina Bifida. She told me of a couple of volunteers who would regularly visit the hospital (where she underwent several surgeries for her condition), and they would read to her and the other children. She told me that one of those volunteers was Malcolm X. She then told me how precious and healing it was for me to come and play for the residents of the healthcare center, and thanked me for my good work (she also agreed to send me an email with some suggested Spanish songs that I might learn and add to my growing repertoire).
On Friday, I was at a small, private nursing home, where I had an audience of maybe ten. I played without a sound system (very much in the spirit of a House Concert, as it were). At the end of the show, the owner asked me to remind her what my fee was. To be honest, given the small audience and all, I was sort of bracing for the need to negotiate a lesser fee than I usually charge, especially when the owner’s eyes went wide in apparent surprise. But to my surprise, she said, “Can I pay you more?” She paid me almost double my usual fee, and told me to be sure to call the next time I look to be in town.
Yesterday, I was reading one of my handful of books on Buddhism, when I came across an article that described a zen center here in Santa Fe. I looked them up on the internet, and found a schedule of meditation sessions open to the public. I intend to visit this center and see what I may learn.
The last few days have been joyful. They have been filled with good work (Right Effort), and I have been filled with a feeling of being at peace with my world. We still have our challenges, here and there. The water heater is acting up in the RV, and we have not yet figured out what’s wrong (we suspect a bad fuse, which will mean a trip to Camping World on Monday to find a replacement). There is work to be done, and problems to be addressed, and yet, for the most part, I feel a very welcome sense of calm about it all. Lately, Pony has taken up the practice of expressing gratitude in posts on Facebook. I guess this is my version of the same, here.


Wally’s picks of the week.

So now that you know who I am, I’m now going to share my  picks of music for this week.My instrumental choice is “Spinning on a Blue Planet” – written for an injured friend as a promise for recovery and a bright future

and my singer/songwriter choice is “The Land of Remembering When”  – a beautiful tribute to age, anyone with a grandparent will identify with this one.

They’re both HERE at the bottom of the Welcome page too.  I’ll update this every week and you can listen to something new and see what you think.

Cheers Everyone – please enjoy

Who is Wally?

Just in case any of you were confused by posts by Wally appearing in the mix, I thought I should introduce myself.  I am Michael’s number one fan.  I travel with him and send you tidbits that tell you what’s going on.  In America, I am known as Waldo – as in “Where’s Waldo?”  so look for the hidden one with the striped shirt and the glasses and you’ll always find me.   :)

The World of Names

I can’t remember the first time I was told that the Eskimo have several (dozens? hundreds?) of names for snow.  It should come as no surprise that I find myself reflecting upon that factoid these days.  There are the various forms of falling snow: from small, stinging particles to fat, fluffy flakes.  And there are the various forms of snow that lie beneath the foot that can range from an easy, thin layer that barely covers the ground, to large drifts of powder that one can sink into as easily as any quicksand, to hard packs of heavy snow that can be traversed on foot, or even more easily with the benefit of snow shoes. 

Pony has been getting the hang of snow shoes.  I haven’t given them a try as yet, but expect that I will before too much longer.  Rufus has developed an interesting, low-crouching gait as he tests out a patch of new snow.  We are, all of us, learning new things about winter on Casper Mountain. 

Our room-mate, Trey, works for the Fort Casper Museum.  This requires him to rise at about 6am each weekday to get showered and dressed and heading out the cabin by about 7, to trek the half-mile up to the main road where we park our cars.  He has been willing to swing by the grocery store on the way home at night for the odd extra item.  We have made two trips since installing ourselves in the cabin; both times stocking up on a prodigious load of supplies that were then carted down to the cabin by way of a small, purple, plastic sled. 

But, for the most part, we are content to stay in or near the cabin.  My morning usually begins with throwing on clothes to take Rufus out to do his business.  This is usually followed by carting some wood and coal from the bins into the inner part of the cabin to use in the two pot-belly stoves.  We use only one stove for most of the day, waiting till evening to fire up the second stove in the kitchen (in this way, we try to pace ourselves in the burning of wood).  We have more coal available to us than wood, and consequently try to make greater use of it.  But I am still learning about coal.  Put too much in, and it can damp the fire and even put it out.  There is almost an art to find the right amount to feed into the fire, and to gauging the timing of it, as well. 

After loading in the coal and wood for the day, it is usually necessary to clean out yesterday’s ashes from each of the stoves before rebuilding a fire.  Each stove has a lower chamber, with a tray that catches ashes from the grill that holds the fuel in the upper chamber.  In this way, one can remove most of the ashes that have fallen down into that tray and still have hot coals glowing from the night before with which to rekindle a fire.  I generally wait on getting a shower until after all this labor of loading up fuel and setting new fires.  By the time these various chores have been attended to, breakfast is usually served about mid-morning. 

The rest of the morning and the afternoon are devoted to practicing guitar, working on booking for the next leg of the tour and dealing with other matters of business, interspersed with moments outside with Rufus.  At around sunset, I take some time to meditate, followed by playing more guitar, while Pony puts dinner together (a couple of times I have taken on the duty of fixing dinner, but the former arrangement works pretty well for both of us).  Trey usually returns from work to find us engaged in these activities.  He and I had talked about the possibility of his grabbing an occasional guitar lesson (he has a used Ibanez acoustic that will do nicely for such), and he had his first lesson with me last night.