Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gray Day

This morning we all woke up tired and no one got out of bed on time. The sky is sobbing and there is a gray mist hanging all around. The soggy bottom boys ran down the quarter mile drive way in the rain and stood under a shelter for 5 minutes before their bus arrived.

The animals look a little glum, but they stand out in the rain and graze all the same. Right now the llamas are in our yard. They are quiet, slow and focused. Something about the way they walk and eat seems other worldly, like they are big puppets being controlled by someone else. They don't get upset about anything, but every now and again they will give you a hairy eyeball.

We are caught up in the endless comings and goings. School and work, music, sports events, and holidays keep us from getting the house work done. When I am home alone I am usually not catching up on the house work, I am busy planning our next escape. Last Friday we had a really good one. I found a flier at the music school for Bunker Hill Bluegrass and Old Country Jam.

We passed the Christian Fellowship Hall a couple of times before we found it. It was sitting low in a holler and was hard to see on the unlit country road. There was a small sign but no light on the sign. By chance I looked down the hill and saw cars parked all over the grass and a bit of a glow coming from the windows of a white box building.

The kids hopped out into the bitter cold and we followed an old man to the back of the building. I tried to greet him but he couldn't hear me. I wasn't sure if his ears weren't working or if he really didn't expect that I was talking to him. He was concentrating very hard on walking. He would throw his right leg out and around and then catch up with his left leg, stumble a bit, and do it again. It looked very difficult, but he was determined to get to the door.

There was a faint odor of sweat and medicine when we entered the steamy building. Inside the crowd of elderly folk all turned toward us, some smiling and some a little concerned as if perhaps they might have to give us directions because we were lost. They had a donation box at the door and when I tried to put a twenty in it, the man at the door said, "That's waaay too much. We're only trying to cover expenses here." and he opened up the box and dug around until he could find sixteen dollars in change. Meanwhile my bottom was in the way and no one could shut the door.

On the stage was an absolutely fantastic old time country bluegrass band. They stopped singing long enough to say something that sounded like, "Let ‘em in or they won't be back," and then continued on with their songs of constant sorrow and suffering. The Banjo player was really spectacular. He looked like an ancient elf. His arms and legs were little sticks and his ears were huge. He sat perched high on a stool, his face made you think he could already view heaven from where he sat. He had all kinds of little tricks to show off his enormous talent like using the tuning pins to modulate the sound in the middle of the song. There were 2 singing guitar players and someone slapping a stand-up bass in the back. To the side, a man had a wheel of harmonicas for his mouth and a holster of harmonicas around his waist. The voices weren't beautiful but they were harmonious and charming.

We sat down with a group of elderly women. Some of whom could not take their eyes off of Joshua and Sean. Sean, 6, and the gray-haired woman across from him shared the same toothless grin. The boys kept asking me why all of the old people were staring at them. I gave them several answers: "You remind them of their grand children...because you're so cute and they are happy to see you here." But the boys were uncomfortable until they figured out how to communicate with their table mates.

By the end of the performances we had all made friends and the kids won door prizes. Everyone was hoping to see us again at the next jam. Sadly, as much as we enjoyed it, I don't know that it will be on our regular schedule of events. I would like to visit again some time and even take others to see this little gem. But I worry about disturbing their ritual. It was clearly 'the' bimonthly gathering for most of these people, perhaps something akin to church worship. It really made me wonder why there weren't more children and grand children around. Wayne thinks that they probably do the same thing every time and the kids just want to do something new and different.

I am churning over ideas for a next tale. People have asked for tales from my travels but I find that very easy and difficult at the same time. I am beyond wanting to do simple travel writing but don't feel ready to really plumb the depths of another person's culture. I am still struggling with what I don't know about my own culture.

I was considering a story on collecting, an OCD tale. It is very hard to see characters for stories anymore. With a psychologist for a husband, no one is a character anymore, they are all disorders.

Please write me something! I need a distraction.

Peace on earth good will to all.
OCD = Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. yay! I just wanted to say that the post was interesting! I'd like reading about your travels-the people you've encountered. Not everyone knows much about Nepal for instance, except for the unrest.

  3. I'll work on it. I'm still processing Nepal. It seems ridiculous that it should take so long to digest even after I have traveled there 15 times. But nothing seems quite real in Nepal, it's distorted or exaggerated. Colors are heightened like a painting in chiaroscuro. Poverty is more desperate, not merely misery, but life and death. And my dreams are as reality whenever I am going to or coming from Nepal... I was in Nepal when much of was electrified years ago. Before electricity, the older people say that they could see gods and goddesses walking in the streets. I do have one really good story. It is true, but very freaky and I have been slowly churning it over for 15 years.

  4. Hey there, Katie here.
    You know Jeri, some of my friends have noticed your jewelry that I wear. Although, it is mostly your modern pieces, when I tell them that it comes from the general area of Nepal, Bangladesh, and Tibet, they were all quite interested. And I realised that I don't have any stories or information to tell them.
    Long story short, you might get some good responses from a good Nepal story

    Signed, your niece

  5. a wheel and a bottom in the way...the elf description....what good stuff and fun reading.

    Ideas for stories? How does it feel to be an aging hippie? Tell the story of your house, the old walls and the new front wall, the low ceiling and waves of small stop suburbia? What happens in a house when a child practices music?

  6. I have known you and Wayne for many years now and have enjoyed your writings.
    Thank you for the information of the "goings-on"
    in Nepal.
    I admire both of you for the adventurous heart that you both share.
    Liked the blog and seeing your boys...growing fast.
    Take care, M. Cupschalk,