HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010
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June 30, 2011
It feels as though our journey to Joplin, Missouri happened at least a year ago! So ends this month today. The Traveling Piano truck is still in repair shop. Some major decisions are coming and I want to make them when I am ready. Every time I think about quitting something happens like my friend Mark just sent me ten bucks. That feels like love. Ha, how cool is it that a friend would just give to me a... "here's ten bucks for whatever Dan." When I left Ohio my new friend Steven gave me a book and put thirty bucks in it. Simply, friendly gestures. They feel so good because I know they come from the heart. Friends just giving friends money to be supportive. It feels good. Another twenty one year old friend sends me a note, "Buddy! I'm always gonna support ya." How can I stop doing what I do? Part of me wants to do something different or do what I do in a different way, a bigger way. Whatever, I absolutely cannot lose the focus... fun, friendship and respect.
June 29, 2011
Sooo... the Traveling Piano is in the repair shop once again. I'm ok with that but when the journey does a musical truck freeze it gives me time to think and that is not always good. Today, I created music on the piano in the condo lobby where Mo and I are staying. I knew it was important for me. More and more... deeper and deeper my musical experiences become. Four times since I was in Joplin, Missouri I have distinctly heard peoples spirit and life experience through simple notes of music... for the first time ever. I don't look to experience this stuff, really and they were also playing on a piano for the first time ever. Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy but not with these experiences. They were as real as it gets. They direct my life to move forward in music with no other choice but denial. Should I feel comfortable about that? I do not. I'm afraid to. Being the best that I can and showing/giving to the world is very important for me. Constantly, I must be real about that and not judge myself in the illusions of success that surround me. You know the glitz and glamour on television and in the movies, the business of money making in general, luxurious man made surroundings, the security of people, places and things... not that there's anything wrong with all that! Part of me wants those life experiences to the hilt.
June 28, 2011
While in Missouri I purchased a radio for the truck so I could hook up my Ipod. My time driving has usually been spent in contemplation. As we drove through Pennsylvania today the Ipod was randomly playing a variety of musical styles through the radio. Mo heard a lot of new sounds today. It is absolutely amazing to watch him experience different forms of communication. He responds to percussive beats and timbre mostly, but also to different voices and musical vocabulary. He was constantly tilting his head in different ways trying to understand and decipher. It was communication like a conversation in of itself. Traveling Piano Dog Mo is very interested in life... in every way. The Traveling Piano Truck went back into the shop today for probably another thousand dollars worth of work! I'll be without it for several days. Before I left it, I jumped on the back for some "goodbye for now," music.
June 27, 2011
I was tempted to drive straight through to Philly today. I am glad I did not. I was thinking how surprised I was with Columbus, Ohio. I am finding every city has its ups and downs. I enjoyed Columbus and I enjoyed my new friends. I landed in Bedford, Pennsylvania with no plans to play any music. My GPS steered me to a restaurant that was closed but there was a "Carnival for Christ" happening in the parking lot so I asked the paster if he wanted some Traveling Piano. He made it clear that if I was not a Christian I would not be welcomed claiming he was just doing his job. He said the carnival was not for fun. These situations become very awkward especially when the other Christian people around want the Traveling Piano. Why do I even offer myself up for these situations? I appeased him within my awkwardness and had an exchange with a very nice couple who was visiting from Maryland to help out. Onward I drove to find some food. While stopped at a red light three mennonite girls with a little boy in the car next to me stopped and expressed interest. They told me they were going to the pizza hut. I followed and one girl played some music for me and then I played for her. She played a most beautiful song of worship.
As it was getting dark I stopped to get some soft ice cream and a bunch of kids from a softball championship game that had ended were there. A few explored their curiosity and jumped onto the Traveling Piano truck to bang out a few piano keys. Drving into Western Pennsylvania today was more than delightful. The weather was perfect for the entire drive. Ohio was full of white, blue, yellow and orange wildflowers and Pennsyvania is full of green rolling hills. About eight months ago I drove up from West Virginia to get my drivers license renewed here in Bedford, PA. I remembered driving by a motel advertising twenty five dollar rooms. It looked clean. When I drove into Pennsylvania today I found a coupon for a twenty five dollar room. It turned out to be the same hotel. It is clean but the smell is so bad my eyes hurt. This place has cured me of ever trying to deal with cheap motels again.
June 26, 2011
It was a friggin' awesome day! When I woke up it was raining. Then the sun came out and Steven, his sister Nancy, daughter Rachael and niece Emily, Mo and I headed downtown where Columbus Ohio's 2011 Comfest was being held. I had no desire to go inside the festival area, only to do the Traveling Piano as usual. Steve drove while I played up and down the street; everyone hung out in the back of the truck. I worried about breaking their eardrums with the speaker being so loud. We parked at a curb and man that was fun because the people we met were fun! The variety of people made it even more fun. A really good piano guy named Matt inquired what was going on and I got him into the truck to play while I drove him up and down High street, Ha, the constant word from people as we passed by was, "awesome!" Matt kept yelling to people in cars as they passed and were walking by, "what song to do you want to hear?" As he played you would see hands constantly coming out of car windows with thumbs up.
We drove down some side neighborhood streets and a party of guys came running off their porch to blow all sizes of bubbles around the truck. It was very funny! I have two videos I need to upload to the internet showing all this. Later in the day I wanted to explore some other sections of the city so we drove over the railroad tracks and found some neighbors interested in the fact that we were bringing a piano right to their doorstep! We had some real down home relating going on. For the second time a cat jumped up onto the top of the truck. Mo and the cat actually rubbed noses. What a friggin' dog he is so awesome!!! Before heading back to Steves house we stopped at a beautiful park, Mo ran a little and we had yet another interaction with two local joggers. Steves' eleven year old son, Zach improvised in the garage. He Susan, Steven and I went for a burrito, I was treated, and then Susan and I talked into the night about music and musicians. I really enjoy hanging out with people and getting my energy level down to just chillin' out and "being." That can be a challenge because in new situations which is the usual... I tend to be on auto pilot with the switch turned on to maximum.
June 25, 2011
Broad Ripple, Indiana and Bexley, Ohio
Before I left Indiana Marc, Suzi, Mo and I drove to a funky street area where I created music while Chris drove and Mo sat on top of the piano. After that I drove while Chris and Suzi created music and then I drove again while some kid named Daniel who we met while he was walking by played the piano... as I drove him. It was trippy. Then we parked curbside for about a half hour. The meter maid walked by with her umbrella in case of sun or rain and was ready to give me a ticket before Marc put some money in the meter and then she jumped onto the Travleing Piano to have herself a moment. I'm not sure about being exhausted and over stimulated at the same time. Part of me likes it. I am exhausted and over stimulated.
Four hours later in Ohio we hooked up with Steve and his wife Susan both teachers and also a son and daughter of theirs in a classic all American progressive, liberal, diverse, university Columbus Ohio neighborhood. This was no typical type neighborhood with all those words to describe it... but something more than I ever experienced before. It was full of well educated upscale kids who are not affected and go to public school. Steve's sister happened to be having a summer party down the street and I got to meet many neighbors. The television show Modern Family came to mind but this was no typical Modern Family neighborhood it was much more. It is an ultra Modern family neighborhood with tree lined streets, all houses neat, tidy and clean... a calm and friendly energy with Hasidic Jews, Gays, Reformed Jews, Asians, Episcopalians and everything else walking around peacefully and aware, neighborly and in rational friendly relationships with each other... at least that is what I felt. No airs, no walls, no attitudes, etc... but ice cream trucks are outlawed because a kid got hit by one something like fifty years ago. Traveling Pianos have not yet been outlawed so through the streets we drove picking up kids along the way as many as the truck could hold. This place is unique in my experiences. I am told the neighborhood I am in is a little bubble in Columbus Ohio and within a mile in every direction all the other social niches can be found.
June 24, 2011
The weather for the past few days has been amazingly beautiful. Oh for the love of sunny blue skies and billowing clouds forever. After over five hours of driving I ended up at Marc's house with his girlfriend Suzy. God, only one night again... way too little time. This guy who I never met before had salmon fishcakes on the grill with rice and asparagus waiting for me and the garage cleared and open for me to put the truck into for the night. The ride was excruciating because I am so tired, I mean real tired but ...I came to life completely with his welcome. He introduced me to his neighbors and they phoned their house to tell the kids to run over to us. Suzy and Marc and the neighbors and the kids and me too, we all got some music going in the driveway and when it got dark, in the garage. I did not arrive until after seven at night... damm, damm, damm and I must leave tomorrow when I get up. Never again will I schedule one night stay overs with new friends. One night is way to little time. I wanted the window open in the bedroom but it had no screen so Marc took the window out and taped a screen over it for the night. Wow, hospitality at its best!
June 23, 2011
Creve Coeur, Missouri
So to make it official, if God forbid something happens to me, my friends Dana and Gary will take care of Mo. I drove to meet and stay with Al and his wife Sybil near St. Louis. I was not sure how I felt about this newly glossy black painted piano but I have been getting a lot more attention while driving on the road with it so, I like it, ha. While driving I was reminded of how nature helps to keep me feeling alive. My new friends were great to meet. Al is a very successful vet and Sybil his wife is also a vet turned housewife. It was a big mistake to stay only one night. We did not have enough time together. They have two pianos their house one for Ragtime and the grand was perfect for my improvisation and of course we all played a little outside on the Traveling Piano. Sybil made a fantastic dinner full of colors, variety of foods and tastes and textures. I want to remember how much more enjoyable good food is verses the junk food crap. We had a small conversation about her being Presbyterian and how that works for her life. A friend of Al's came over later and I improvised a bit more music. It is very interesting how I can sit and create music for people. It still amazes me that people want to sit and listen and really enjoy. I am learning constantly how powerful music is, how important, how it affects life specifically and generally and to think I just began to learn about that when this journey began ...after having been a musician my entire life!
June 22, 2011
I don't know what I did today it has been a blur. Tomorrow we will be leaving Springfield. For those who may not know... piano dog Boner passed away here in Springfield, Missouri where Mo and I are presently staying with friends Gary and Dana. I am still experiencing firsts and loss, etc... surprisingly enough. Leaving here means leaving my friends who were so loving to me during that period and once again leaving Bo and my last shared space here on earth. Its difficult. How can this be? I would never have guessed that I would have these feelings of sadness still. It is what it is. I got the Traveling Piano back from Brandon, Gary and Dana's son tonight. He detailed it for me and parts of the truck have been cleaned for the first time in twenty five years! The piano has been painted with a bright black gloss paint. Ha, I am looking forward to seeing it in the daylight. The entire truck has been polished, clean, no dog hair for a couple of hours at least :)
June 21, 2011
The Traveling Piano is still in the garage getting detailed and I know I am going to be happy with the job when it is done! At this time I have many options for what I want to do with my life. Do I continue the journey as it is, work on some of my dreams, quit everything, try once again to take a vacation from everything (not really an option, why do I even bring it up all the time) ...maybe I should spend another year filing and organizing everything. A life full of self made choices is what everyone wants, eh? Well, I cannot get away from accountability and I would like to sometimes. If i'm not accountable to someone else or anything... still I must be accountable for myself. Being accountable for myself is not an easy task. Still, I am grateful I can be. I am getting my head into gear to leave the area... I say to myself, "one foot in front of the other."
June 20, 2011
We are preparing to travel east. The Traveling Piano truck is getting a sort of "do over." My friend Brandon who painted it back when... is now cleaning it and I mean really... cleaning it. I spoke strongly when I said I do not want to see one dog hair and I am going to scour the truck for any one dog hair! He is taking the seats out to make sure there is not one dog hair under or behind. I asked him to paint the inside piano guts. Who ever sees the inside of the piano guts? Me. I am getting the truck polished, parts reinforced, the bed... I told him I want to wipe my finger on it and then be able to lick my finger, hahaha... maybe a new radio. (the present one is twenty five years old) I made a decision this year that I want to die in a healthy body (if possible) and if the money should run out for this journey and it ends... I want it to be with a clean, sharp, good-looking and fully functional Traveling Piano truck. In either case, I'm going out in style... not that I'm planning to die or end the journey or anything :)
Valerie Mosley a writer and photo journalist for the Springfield Missouri News-Leader publication hung out with us for an afternoon last week. Her article was published in today's newspaper and online with two pictures, one picture was huge. Her work scores a perfect one hundred in my book! I am very, very appreciative when news reporters and journalists can clearly communicate to the general public what I am about and what I am doing. Check out the feature... Piano Man Cheers Onlookers With His Tunes
June 19, 2011
Branson and Highlandville, Missouri
Several people said that I must go to Branson, Missouri so I did. It is a tourist town. The shear number of entertainment and amusement venues were impressive. The lodging prices were inexpensive. It was a several mile resort strip. I could tell that people who vacation in Branson like structure because there was very little walking traffic. If you wanted to do two different amusement rides you need to drive to them. There was about two blocks of old town Branson. I parked the Traveling Piano on the street and had an exchange with a seventeen year old girl named Betsy who was playing the violin outside a store for tips. She jumped up onto the piano to play and then I gave her a quick improvisational music lesson. Without question it jarred her sensibilities... the idea of random notes or any sound being music, even banging... as she has a very straight forward approach to good, bad and structure.
I did not stay long because I was thinking about Busiek State Forest. I had passed it on the way down to Branson. I'd rather create music in nature and I wanted to take Mo out to play for awhile. There was a mighty clean creek where I met people who also had dog... a beagle, english bulldog mix just like Mo. We spent some time in and near the water and then headed back to the truck. Amazingly enough, once again as happened yesterday... we ran into people we had met in Joplin during the first week. I mean here we are in a random forest, a small forest where there are not many people...70 miles from Joplin and for less than an hour. Talk about synchronicity, it is constant in my life and I love it.
June 18, 2011
Today was my last day in Joplin. I feel like it is time to move on but then again a part of me does not want to leave. This place can use a lot of love and wants it... for a long time. I stopped at the humane center and picked up some food for Mo. They are stacked with dog food to give away! I did not create music because the management didn't want it. Next, I hooked up with Sammy, a beautiful young girl I had met the other day and her friend (also beautiful) Merinna and a guy named Daniel. We drove around the wreaked areas and took some pictures.
It has been constantly interesting how I will play in an area where there seems to be no people and then within minutes several people will appear from almost no where. It has also been interesting that no matter how self absorbed people may seem to be, whether it be in picking through what is left of their house, doing business or seemingly tired and sweaty from the dirty cleaning up... every single time when given the opportunity they have come to the piano and played even if they never touched a piano before.
Synchronistically, having no idea where I was driving... I passed by Mark and Lisa's place. The entire gang was there. This was the first family I encountered when I entered into Joplin two weeks ago. They sent me an email the other day... Hi Danny, I just wanted to tell you what a great time we had at our house when you came to visit. First you got all sweaty helping us clean and then you played for us. I have never heard anything as beautiful as when you were playing your piano. It was very uplifting and as it turns out, that was just what we needed at that moment. There have been plenty of bright spots since the tornado but yours shines the brightest. Thank you. Sincerely, Mark and Lisa. That email warmed my heart along with today... several really sincere tight connecting hugs from both men and women. I have not had hugs in awhile. Here in Joplin they have been plentiful.
I wanted to make my first dedication concerning my work with the Traveling Piano today. I dedicated the day for everyone who passed as a result the storm. I wanted to be present and in the moment with everyone who is no longer physically present. Today's intent was for nothing but joy for... and with spirit. On leaving my friends Gary and Dana's house in order to drive to Joplin, I thought about changing my life. My life is going to change no matter what, ha. So then I consciously thought about not changing "the" world but changing "my" world... for the better. All the respect my past, present and new friends give to me... inspires this desire.
Having never been to where the Tornado first started in the city I wanted to check it out and play some music there. I found myself in an upscale neighborhood. It was full of huge houses that had been ripped apart. An investor with his wife who had purchased several of them and was overseeing the work being done to restore them stopped me. He suggested I play for his workers. There were a whole bunch of them putting on a roof. I gave his wife her first piano lesson. He offered me money to come back for the next three days to continue the lessons. When I was about to leave he said, "let me give you two bucks for gas." I said, "you need to give me four so I can buy at least one gallon." Hahaha... I really enjoyed saying that!!! He gave me twenty and that felt good. It has cost me twenty just to drive each way, everyday. On the way out of town I stopped and got some dinner at a Calvary church relief tent where I listened to probably what will be my last tornado story. It was from the guy who led people safely into a tunnel after the towns school graduation ceremony. Over twenty people who did not follow him got swept away while on foot and also in their cars. One car was found with mother and baby five blocks away.
June 17, 2011
The sun has me almost brain dead. No shade and the wind... even though, today was still fun. There were not many people around in Joplin but that was probably because I did not get into the streets until four in the afternoon. It was an hour and a half drive from Springfield. I made the rounds of a few relief tents. That was after driving around in neighborhoods of debris and no neighbors. I stopped at St John's hospital tent. Just about every spot that I have frequented is where people have died, situations so poignant they have been featured in national news. I always find that out after the fact.
June 16, 2011
Route 10, Oklahoma
My planned host for the night... her boyfriend called at the last minute to say he did not feel comfortable with my staying with his woman. Phooey! I knew the situation was not about me but still it hurt. Having been through this route before... caveman stuff and unfortunately prevalent in todays societies... it makes me angry because it pushes emotional buttons for me. I was raised in an abusive environment where fear was used to manipulate the relationships I was allowed to have. For various reasons and with insidious ways I was told who I could relate to and how. Onward... I was driving to Joplin, Missouri having no idea where I would be staying for the night. When this issue arrises well, I think it is the most difficult for this journey. I'm not interested in roughing it. As I drove I said to myself, "if this is to be the last day for you here on earth, how and where would you spend it?" There has been a spot I have had my eye on while driving back and forth on route 10 in Oklahoma. It is a big open lake area and I drove straight for it. Ahhh.... a favorite natural environment for the Traveling Piano.
I had no idea that it would be my spot for interactions today. It is a rural road in the middle of nowhere. A family from the back woods stopped by, a family that had family from my old neighborhood back east, a girl who had been in the Walmart in Joplin during the tornado, a guy who had a brain tumor, etc...... wow, we made some great connects! It began to rain and oh, by the way... it was almost cool today. I had forgotten what that felt like. It has been over ninety degrees everywhere I have been for at least a month. It began to rain so I threw the tarp over the piano and continued onward. I stopped at a flea bag motel, could not do... and then checked out a nice motel... could not justify, and ended up at my friend Gary and Dana's place back in Springfield, Missouri. Today, I also returned the umbrella I brought for the truck yesterday. Too much baggage to deal with although it sure was nice to have.
June 15, 2011
Seneca and Joplin Missouri
The day started at a casino. Ha, it was a big casino by Oklahoma standards and nearby where I have been staying. I was told the food was good and cheap. I ordered take out. They had penny slot machines. I asked, "are they really penny slot machines? It was easy to picture myself dropping pennies for hours a day... and then progress to nickels, dimes, quarters, dollars... I passed on it all. Mo and I drove in and out of different Indian nations while I began to feel my way through the day. There was the Wyandotte, East Shawnee, I have been staying in the Seneca/Cayuga Indian Nation. A woman named Maggie who I met several days ago phoned saying she had her children with her and would love for them to meet me. She was in Joplin... an hour and a half away. Up to Joplin. On the way all the cows in the fields were huddled under trees because of the hot sun. I thought, "am I going to let cows be smarter than me?" I stopped at a store to see if they would lend me an umbrella. The manager suggested I buy one and then return it in a few days when I leave. When I put the umbrella up onto the Traveling Piano Mo reached over to lick my face profusely.
I'm really glad that I follow through with whatever I say in passing while interacting with people. Over the past few days I told a woman at a gas station in Seneca, Missouri that I would stop back to play a song for her. The same went for a checkout girl in the local supermarket. They did not forget and I would never have dreamed they would have remembered. Those few minute fly-by's were really fun for everyone. In Joplin, we parked in one spot for the rest of the day. Maggie came by with the kids, many volunteers and people from the community. A most beautiful woman sat on top of the piano with Mo in her lap and I became most inspired to create music! On the way out of town I got lost and came across a bunch of Lutherans. They asked me to play a song. How could I resist? I have always liked Lutherans!
June 14, 2011
Joplin, Missouri and Grove, Oklahoma
The plan was to hang around today down here in wherever I am land because Joplin is a bit of a distance and I may never get back to wherever I am, ha but... I forgot that I promised a girl from a Springfield, Missouri paper that I'd give her some pictures so... off to Joplin. This morning I woke up in this place where I am staying, in wherever I am land all by myself and that felt really good because I needed to be by myself. It helps me to focus. I made myself some coffee, sat and chilled a bit, took a shower, had a breakfast shake, organized myself, took care of a little business, created a few pictures for the web (only two but a little is better than none) and now I was ready to go out and do some work. When I wake up with someone else in the space I am sharing it is difficult for me to do all that.
Every day is in the mid nineties and the forecast says that will continue so I want to stop thinking about it so often and just deal with the reality. Before Valerie and I hooked up in a store parking lot one of the attendants jumped onto the truck and then so did Valerie. She is a photo journalist and shared most of the day with us. We went to my favorite relief area and Scott the guy who runs the area took us and another friend, a girl named Alex onto the road (Scott drove, I played) with water and cameras. Getting pictures was difficult because I was dealing with three people who had no experience with how the Traveling Piano process flows. I really appreciated their willingness in taking direction from me and embracing the different situations because I tend to come across harsh in my directives especially when I am thinking a million things at the same time... you know, keeping everything flowing and watching out for anything unexpected... and trying to get pictures and be appropriate with that. At one place we stopped there was a prom dress high up in a tree. You can see it in one of the pictures today if you look close enough. They were having the high school prom at the time of the tornado
The interactions I had were significant as always. I gave away my very last Raggin' Piano Boogie cd because I wanted it to help communicate to the one family how significant they were. Grandmom sat at the curb of her home now destroyed while daughter with grandkids searched through the mess. The stories today were complex as always and just validated once again for me people here have a need to talk. Something very special happened with one guy who was playing notes on the piano for the first time. I heard all his feelings. It was truly amazing because I never expected that it could happen, that someone could do that with music having had no experience, that I would recognize it... I think he took my lead from when I was improvising. He connected with his feelings through music and it was natural. To communicate his feelings musically was natural because his spirit and intent were pure and without affectation. He kept it very simple. And then it got more amazing. His mom joined him and they communicated jointly. I could hear all their feelings as one... not only with each other but all feelings as one feeling (all present wonder... what was happening to him in the moment...fun, newness, exploration, respect and friendship as well as the past... resolve, angst,sadness, loss etc... through each musical note. That was a major life experience for me.
June 13, 2011
Joplin, Missouri and Grove, Oklahoma
I took my time and then took off for Joplin today. Dave phoned about staying at his lake house in Oklahoma near the Missouri border. That felt very reassuring and gave me a lot of respect for him, his calling me first before I called him. I need to feel wanted. Driving once again into Joplin's disaster zone was to revisit ugliness that I would rather not deal with. I was hungry and pulled into a food tent area. Immediately a girl came up asking what I was about and I was too zoned out to just jump into work so I suggested she and her friend just get onto the piano and mess around while I got a hotdog. They had really good hot dogs from Chicago. I've been getting sick of hotdogs now I like them again. I took the second without the roll, ha! A lot of fun ensued. About five cars full of police stopped by and several guys got up to mess around on the piano. It always feels good when law enforcement don't have an strictly enforcing attitude. These guys were really enjoyable to interact with. I had to move on and get out to meet Dave, it was not easy because there was a lot of fun to be had. The guy running the help area and who heads Action Missions, his name is Chris and he came up to me to introduced himself. He said he had seen me once before but did not get a chance to greet me. It felt really good to experience another Christian ministry truly reaching out to everyone.
I drove into Seneca Missouri and waited at the intersection of route 43 and 60 for Dave to drive me to his place. There was a restaurant selling smothered chicken. I went inside to see if the chickens were killed by being smothered before they were cooked. The answer... no, they grill it and then smother it with onions and mushrooms. Silly me. The cook came out, a lot of people were circling, two waitresses came out to give me their tips with genuine good will. They didn't even now what I was doing there. It was about fifteen minutes after hookup time and I realized something was off. I was at the old intersection of route 43 and 60, the new one was down the street. I raced to meet Dave, he was with his wife Dotty, a grandson and another boy who has joined his family. We drove another twenty five minutes through the most beautiful rural area as I wondered why more people do not live in Missouri and Oklahoma. We ended up on a lake that has three thousand miles of beach. It was almost dark and we got on Dave's boat to troll while fishing. Wow, what a treat... a relaxing drift into the moonlight on a huge body of water on a warm summer night. We stopped to listen to a whippoorwill singing in the trees. Mo had his first outing on a boat and seemed to really like it. Everyone left and I'm sitting here in this house on a lake wondering what is to come next. Before I wonder too much I'm going to put on some bug repellant. With the wind over the water and through the trees it all almost sounds like ocean waves.
June 12, 2011
This morning I woke up not feeling well mentally, physically or emotionally. I dragged myself outside. It was hot and humid. The focus was to take care of myself, try to feel good. Mo and I went for a walk in a park. Rain had been falling. I called ten friends and talked to their answering machines. Six of my friends called me back within a couple hours. Talking with a depressing tone will do that. A garden of irises brought beauty into my life. I came back to Dana and Gary's house and fell asleep for an hour with Mo by my side. When we woke up I took my friends to dinner and we hung outside eating until dark. I felt much better. Dealing with uncertainty concerning where I am going to stay is getting more difficult as time goes on but more so, people waffling with their decision concerning stay over's really drains me. Tomorrow I'll drive into Joplin again and look for a motel if no one comes through with a place to stay. Letting go of the money issue is most difficult even though I know in my brain it is just a distraction from feelings.
June 11, 2011
I finished redoing and updating the menu links for this website blog. It took two days of intense work. I feel like I can't stop even though there is no more to do. My mind is hazy. Finding places to stay has been draining my energy. The only answer is to get "present" and feel good and be thankful that I have Dana and Gary in my life. (friends who I am staying with). I took the truck out to hook up with some "like" friends after dinner. As I pulled the Traveling Piano out of the driveway I rammed the side of Gary's two month old pickup truck. Not good at all. It was dark by the time I got to create music with people but it happened even if for a short while.
June 10, 2011
Finally, Iv'e been updating the website. I was looking through old links and found a page suggesting how people can support the Traveling Piano and it had my old house address on it! How many years has it been since I sold my house to help pay for this journey? Ha. A few days ago I was making a purchase at the local supermarket and had a very brief exchange with a young guy full of spirit and energized about his joining the military this week. I told him I would stop by today while he was working... never in a million years thinking he would remember because our exchange was so brief. Well, he not only remembered, he remembered my name. That was super impressive to me. I wanted to support this guys energy which is why I followed through in doing what I said I would do. Several employees of the store jumped onto the Traveling Piano for a short time.
Later, I found the center of Springfield and just parked in a random spot on the street. It was outside a grocery store with tables out front for sitting. A group of transient kids were milling around. Two pregnant women with their men were sitting at a table and as I parked. I heard one of the girls say, "hey look, its a fucking Traveling Piano!" I looked out the window and said, "did you just say hey look, its a fucking Traveling Piano?" In less than a minute they were on the trucking tickling away. In less then two minutes the police where there. Apparently the store I was in front of... with its fear based mentality... impulsively thought and then acted out with, "hey, look, its an alien at the curb outside, kill it..." The policeman almost got onto the truck to create music. I knew he wanted to but had to keep his demeanor for work. Lots of kids got on the truck, my kind of kids because they so much wanted to be empowered and the Traveling Piano is a perfect opportunity for that. Several knew how to play songs.
I was impressed with what I found going on. Someone had gathered as many transients and homeless kids as they could find in town... got a bus and some money... and is paying everyone to work in Joplin for two days to help clean up, good pay too. They were all ready to earn some money and... I asked (because there were about thirty kids) "what if the money doesn't come through for you all?" Their reply, "well, at least we got to do a good deed." My hat is off for whomever thought up, arranged for and found the money for this deal!
June 9, 2011
I've felt brain dead for most of the day. As everyone knows it is hot just about everywhere. The truck was in the repair garage. I paid the guy for looking at it and then took it out. He was going to charge me over $300 more than another place... the price of a factory kit while using an after market kit. Cheeze... I am so sick of these repair people, most often unreliable and taking advantage. I don't know what I am going to do about it. Most of the time I am trying to remember to have fun and not let details, limitations, decisions and choices get in my way. The friends I am staying with Dana and Gary are so great... putting no pressure on me as far as staying with them. I've been putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on my self. Mo and I are staying in the bedroom where Bo and I spent our last moments together. Bo died in this house where I am staying. So anyway, I updated the website menu today and did other internet work for most of the day. I was over a year behind with the website menu. After dinner Dana and I went to the local park. I found a spot for the Traveling Piano way in the back in an almost empty parking lot. Mo ran around a bit and we laid together in the grass together basking in the sun and our closeness. After that I began to play music to empty out my head and then two Italian ladies came over. Mo had intensely worked them from a distance with a pleading stare for a visit. They were fun sports and jumped onto the truck. A young guy named Ryan came over after that. He had been working in a nearby building and said his blah end of day work mode shifted instantly to good feelings with the synchronicity and spontaneity he discovered... a piano in the back of a pickup truck in the park with a guy playing it and a dog sitting on top of the piano!
June 8, 2011
We are in Springfield, Missouri and it feels good. So what happened was last night... I met up with a guy named Dave to stay with who is a friend of a friend. I couldn't tell what was going on with him and it did not feel right to inquire. He had a house father away that we were going to stay at but then he changed his mind. He didn't want to give us an address so we met on the side of a road. He knew I had a dog but told me at the last minute the dog could not be in the house. That was a dead end for me because Mo has never been by himself overnight and now is not the time to introduce him to the idea. All day long Mo deals with new and insecure situations and environment. At night while sleeping is when we get to feel safe and secure together, silent, and this is the only time to recharge. Dave was ready for that. He gave me a hundred dollar bill for a motel room. Nice eh? We talked for a couple of hours and the plan is still on to use house that is further away. I checked out five motels in Neosho and they were all filled. Joplin workers and people who have lost their homes seem to be filling every bed for a hundred miles around. We've been lucky so far.
I stopped at a store on the way out of town to get something to eat and ran into a kid who had been on the piano in Joplin. He was with his friends so of course the ride forward was delayed for some nighttime fun. An immigrant worker from Joplin staying in Neosho spotted us and stopped me to shake my hand, "we saw you from the roof top of a house we were clearing out while you were playing and the truck was driving down the road." I guy I met named Patty who filmed some of that, you can see it on Utube... Traveling Piano, Joplin Missouri ...check it out. When all was said and done even though it was after ten at night I drove almost two hours to my friends Dana and Gary's place in Springfield. I needed a mommy and daddy fix for security. I've been listening to and adjusting myself full time to other people, environments and needs. In Springfield I can just do nothing. I took the truck in to get more repair today. While at the shop the guy was at lunch so I decided to play a bit of music while I waited. Immediately people began to drift into the Traveling Piano space.
June 7, 2011
I said goodbye to Lois and Bill. We headed to stay in Neosho, Missouri with a guy named Dave who I have never met. We arrived around three in the afternoon. It is now six thirty and I'm still waiting to hear from him. Hmmm..... In the meantime we found a park with some shade and a watering hole. I created and recorded music... people swam and hung out. It was very low key on a hundred degree temperature day with a slight breeze. A fine fellow originally from Guatemala came over and played around a little. He was telling me how his family had to leave because someone wanted them all killed for the land they owned. I am realizing how I waste no time and have no time to waste. I'll need to find places to stay where I can come and go as needed because the work I do takes precedence over all time. I wanted to jump into the water hole with Mo... damm. next time!
June 6, 2011
Today was powerful. I very much did not want to do play in the heat. The thought of going back east crossed my mind. I thought about ways to get out of staying. There was way too much focus on the heat. One hundred degrees, I wouldn't play in that kind of heat for money let alone for nothing but... I'm not here in Joplin for nothing or money... I'm here to experience fun, friendship and respect. I pushed through and... it ended up very powerful on the other side. The day started out with Lois the woman I have been staying with.Her granddaughter was driving the tractor for the fields (a really big tractor) ...today. We tried to get a photo shot from inside the hug shed looking out to the fields but the sun was too bright to show the magic of it all.
I milled around in the heat. I was concerned for Mo. I turned on the air conditioner in the truck and the engine heat index arrow shot to red almost immediately. So much for that idea. I went looking for water and found a bunch of guys from San Diego unloading a truck of stuff. They said I stopped at just the right time and all prayed on me. I was amazed at how much they remembered in prayer from out short conversation. They intuitively knew my needs and asked God to give me the support needed. I found a six foot area of shade from a tree by a curb and knew I would get about five minutes of shade from it so I went for it. People began to come out of their houses to interact with us. One guy was emptying out his house and I asked if I could help. We talked for about two minutes and he said he wanted to let me know upfront that he was gay in case I wanted to change my mind about helping him. To me that was a ridiculous question but I understood his concern. Our exchange led to a very interesting conversation.
All day long people were expressing neediness for what the Traveling Piano has to offer.It seemed odd to me. There were those who have already seen us, asking how long we were staying with the hope that we were not leaving, seventy five percent of the people we interact with reassure us that Joplin needs us. People insinuate that they will need us much longer than two weeks, etc... Several people cried from relief on the piano today. One women came out of her yard ever so slowly... I did not think there was a chance in hell that anyone on the porch where she was sitting, there were four people... would come over to the truck... she came over and opened her arms to give/asked me for a hug. Everyone came over. One guy got on the truck to bang away at the piano keys and blurted out to himself without thinking, "oh, my god I'm actually smiling."
I stopped randomly at one spot where practically no one was around and a bird came and sat with us the entire time. I went to take its picture and there was no color to be found in the camera lens. At another random spot there were more than eight people hanging out on a porch and after they started coming over to the truck I asked if they were all related. They told me they were all neighbors who had never known each other before the tornado. They told me how they are all like family now and take turns cooking for each other, going over the house that has electricity for television, they care for each others kids... I am always amazed how the littlest gesture that I put out to someone is felt so strongly. I really shouldn't be... I feel the same way when someone makes the littlest gesture towards me.
June 5, 2011
Mc Cune, Kansas
The day started out in church... again! Every year it is working out that I am going more and more. This is because of the people who invite me into their homes. Today was an opportunity to be with my new Church of the Brethren friends. To be welcomed and learn about, appreciate and witness their values and community, it is awesome. This was a small rural country church with strong music... four part harmony among the congregants and not one but three keyboards playing at the same time. Everyone was alive! Ha. Even though it was extra sunny and in the nineties most of the people stuck around afterwards outside to have some Traveling Piano fun and then many of us went to Chicken Mary's for eats after that. I was taught as a child that my family was not to associate with people outside our "inner church circle of trust." I am very thankful I broke away from that.
What a gift to be embraced for a day by community. At the restaurant a bunch of employees came out for a quick song and photo. The rest of the day... I could not handle the heat so I just hung out at Lois and Bill's house. Mo and I took a short, long walk in the farm fields. We played together, I did some computer work, we ate... I ate more chicken because Chicken Mary's gave me a whole bunch to take back to the house along with a loaf of bread, soda and string beans as a gift. My friends and I talked, watched television... both Mo and I are very grateful pups. I found this community deep in rural Kansas through a book called Mennonite Your Way which is basically meant for Christian travelers like Warm Showers is a group for Bicyclists, Servas for international travelers and Couchsurfing for traveling friendship. Mo, Bo and I have also stayed with people from Facebook and just blindly asking people (yes the guts I have) from the internet, and friends of friends.
June 4, 2011
The day started out in search of the humane society. I had heard they were holding hundreds of pets. The volunteers invited us in and were thrilled we were there. The people running the place were not. I hate when that happens. Whatever the reasons, the fact is the fact. We were not welcomed. So much for happy volunteers. Onward... I stopped at a supply booth because one of the workers was standing on the road waving a sign to get people to come and get food and stuff. They looked like they could use some company. We had some fun and other people pulled off the road to meet us. I stopped at many houses where people were cleaning out but did not take pictures of the interactions because I did not want to make the Traveling Piano a show and also I could tell that some people were embarrassed concerning their homes with the misfortune they have encountered.
It was near a hundred degrees again. Mo was so hot, he ran under the truck to hide in the shade and when I went to find him he hid further behind the wheel under the truck. He's a cute guy I tell you! We stopped at a medical station and met a few nurses and a guy named Stephen who walks with a cross. That is his ministry, he walks the earth bearing a wood cross made of discarded wood. He brought the cross to Missouri from Texas tied to the top of his truck with his traveling friend who came in a separate truck. Once in a while he will create a revival. I really liked the guy and he appreciated my sense of empowerment. Before we left they all prayed on me just like a group did the other day. I must say I like the attention but more so I really appreciate the support and do believe in the power of prayer especially when there is more than one person involved. I stopped at a motel I've had my eyes on just in case I have no place to stay. There's no chance I'm staying at that place. The guy at the desk ran out for a moment to check out some piano playing. I played until the sun set in the center of where the storm passed.
June 3, 2011
Liberal, Missouri and Pittsburgh, Kansas
The sign on the road today said it was ninety-eight degrees. It seems that my life lands up in extreme weather at least ninety percent of the time. I just go with the flow. When I am in "journey mode" I almost don't even think about it.
I drove into the center of town in Liberal, Missouri and it took about three minutes before the fun began. I was looking for gas and stopped at a little corner store thinking the antique gas pump still worked. I asked the woman who was working to take a picture of me in front of it... a bunch of kids drove up,.. Mo and I got invited back to a local house building project... it was lunch time which was perfect. We found a family with eleven siblings, dad had passed and mom wanted to live closer to everyone so the kids all got together with the grandchildren to build a new house for mom. Family came from Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri to help out. Most were too shy to get onto the piano but one beautiful girl did and a mom got up and played. There was some beautiful southern gospel singing going on. Mo had his first full sized Burrito. It was big. He took it out of grand mom's hand. What could I say?
After that I was stopped on the road while driving, by another family member interested in what was going on around town and then the "news guy" found us. I spent a good hour with Willis and his wife Billy who was the piano player for the local Southern Baptist church. I can tell you that was a lot of fun! We drove to the church and Willis got the hymn book out for Billy to play hymns on the back of the truck. Afterwards we all went inside Mo included to create music on the church piano. I gave Willis his first piano lesson. Onward to Chicken Mary's on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Kansas. After having a piece of chicken at this place... I must say the most reasonably priced chicken ever... I thought, "the world is a good place with Chicken Mary's chicken in it." Ha. As I was leaving a few of the employees came out to jump onto the piano...
I drove into the center of the Pittsburgh, Kansas which is a university city and a cop lead me to the spot behind the administrative buildings where I could get the strongest internet connection possible from the truck. Nice guy, eh? When ever police give me trouble I need to remember the good ones I've encountered as of late. Mo laid in the grass, in the shade, in total bliss while I called friends on my cell phone. I have had five friends from around the country call me in the last two days. That helps me to feel grounded. Back on the farm Lois, Bill's farm wife, made be the best sweet corn ever with scalloped potatoes and hamburger. (last night it was chicken) Dessert was homemade blueberry cobbler. Lois has the most amazing counted cross stitched pieces of art she made hanging all over the house. Works of art that I keep going up to thinking they are paintings but are all hand sewn. Before dinner I recorded music outside in a most luscious breeze while I watched a perfect Missouri sunset. I am in my most treasured environment both natural and rural. I drove through virgin prairie grass meadows today with rabbits running in every direction.
June 2, 2011
Joplin and Liberal, Missouri
I was planning to stay out of the major destruction area from the tornado in Joplin, Missouri today but felt compelled to go back. I found a relief tent area and basically stayed there the entire day. It was in the mid-nineties again with no shade. People were on the Traveling Piano for most of the time. Once again I connected with several people who needed to talk. Stories of how people survived, what saved them... one guy came out of his home with only two windows broken in it to find every other home in the neighborhood gone and deceased neighbors on the lawn, people talk about climbing out of rubble, kids told me how they climbed over debris from miles away to get back to their parents, on and on. The piano worked as a sixty second moment of relief for about thirty people.
They are tearing down the hospital here. It was a new nine story structure. Aside from most of it being blown out and apart the entire structure twisted around off its foundation four inches. I find that amazing. Before it got dark I headed to Liberal, Missouri to stay with Lois and Mike on their farm. The place is without question the most rural I have visited. This is a huge farm for corn, wheat and soybeans. You can see miles in all directions. It is peaceful and calm today, beautiful. The two lane highway's speed limit is sixty five miles an hour. Lois and Mike are now retired, their children run the farm. They belong to the Church of the Brethern and have invited me into their home as a witness to their Christian faith. I found out the Church of the Brethren is a peace church, they do not believe in going to war and they are "ana baptist" believers which is about becoming Baptized out of choice. I really appreciate their hospitality and learning about farm life while climbing around equipment, into silos and into the fields. Farming is a major gamble with the weather that has paid off for them.
June 1, 2011
It has been several days now with too little sleep. I'm still going and so is Mo, I have been watching him closely for sensory overload. It felt like it was a hundred degrees out today and of course there is no shade. Things are beginning to rot, the smells are beginning... Writing this blog and doing the work on the truck with no down time is difficult. There is unbelievable destruction for miles and miles and the tornado path is many, many city blocks wide.
I am struck by the signs of what people have painted on what was their homes, "we are ok", trespassers will be shot," there are many signs saying "thank you for all the help." I found a completely flattened nursing home that was called The Greebriar Nursing. Many people died there. Outside were used wheelchairs and mattresses and boxes of depends that were salvaged in case someone might need them. Without question spirit still exists there. I was drawn today to the place not once but twice. I musically played out some of my love for whomever was in reach.
Pictures cannot show what I saw for almost ten hours all day long, mass destruction. I started following a truck load of kids ready to distribute food. We drove up and down the streets looking for people to feed, help and for whom to provide a musical platform. It was too hot for the kids so it all ended after not too long. My new friend Angie drove and as I created music with Mo onto of the piano nonstop for miles. The reception from people in cars, working on houses, law enforcement, etc... was surprisingly more appreciating than I had anticipated. I am constantly validated that what I have to offer is needed and wanted... without the feeling that people are just trying to make me feel good.
The opportunists are arriving big time. I am getting a lot of practice deflecting other peoples agendas and self serving causes... people being paid by organizations of all types... they are out to work and promote, to create a show for themselves in front of whomever will witness... for example, I was standing outside the Traveling Piano truck and five broadcast quality cameras descended on me with two all American boys holding bags of junk food to help feed me. Did I look like I needed to be fed? I probably wouldn't have minded so much if it wasn't all dollar store junk food. I guess all the money went into the expensive cameras. They wanted to show what good boys they were.
Am I sounding cynical? I'm very, very tired right now. I was uploading yesterdays blog at a Mc Donald's before heading back to Gerald's place where we are staying and a bunch of local kids found us. I say we as in Mo and I. We had a good time together. The experience of being here is magical, fulfilling, fun, graced... it is very obvious that people just want to connect. I am very grateful to be involved. If I died doing what I did all day long today... that would be a create way to die! The day started out with a picture of Gerald and his fiancee Linda. Their front lawn has a pond in it... the shape of a grand piano with cemented white keys and wood stained black keys. What are the chances of a coincidence like that? Gerald and Linda have a bed and breakfast and I randomly emailed them from the internet to ask if they would host us for a few nights.
May 31, 2011
I got it together and drove to Joplin, Missouri. They had a devastating tornado here. I couldn't believe how wide the storm was and what resulted in its path. I am to meet a guy named Gerald to stay overnight with but everything was very sketchy. He's busy and hesitant about bringing a stranger into his home. About so many details about today I would like to write but it would take forever. I had very little interest in seeing the destruction. I was more interested in scoping the place out for Traveling Piano possibilities in order to create fun, friendship and respect. The first thing I came across was a huge mega church with a parking lot full of huge tractor trailers from some relief organization... tents, people eating etc... I parked, got myself a hotdog and struck up a conversation with a guy playing guitar who freaked out because I was a musician trying to move in on his territory. I tried to assure him that I had no interest whatsoever because well... first off, I had just arrived and knew absolutely nothing about anything. When I left the area I thought I'd get the spot over with and find out if anyone would want us to come back after we got settled. I went to ask the church pastor if he would be interested in a Traveling Piano visit. The interaction was ugly. I was talking to the second in command who was full of skepticism, mistrust, an obvious self serving agenda and who had fear of conflict. Knowing nothing about me and obviously having little interest in learning... I was a guy who was trying to bring secular music onto his property, (I don't play secular music) looking for attention (no need for attention here) and any potential to make money... (ha,ha,ha... not!) He hurt my feelings directing false motives on me that were ever so graciously disrespectful. The bottom line, I was not welcome and he could not respond in a responsible manor. He could only imply the fact and therefore to me it was not clear. I wanted to hear him say no... or we are not interested... or thank you but no thank you... all he could say was "leave." That was not appreciated, I moved on.
Having pushed through all negativity, I drove down the street and stopped at the first house I came across with people cleaning out. I asked if they wanted any help. They said sure and then the journey here began. They were a great family, they understood what I am about. They told me their story as they were in the storm when it happened. The story of running to hide and then seeing everything etc... I realized then and there that what people in Joplin want more than bottled water, hot dogs and media coverage is someone to talk to, anyone. I helped them clean up some and then they joined me on the piano and I simply felt everything this journey has to offer. They did too. After that I continued to explore the area a little until I found an intersection where many people died. As soon as I began to create music, people working the nearby relief tent came over and we all had a great time until it got dark and a city curfew started. Gerald came through, the guy I am staying with, I'm at his place for the night. He has no internet. He is a major character which I'll need to write about later. The landscape is as intense as it can get.