HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010
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July 31, 2011
Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Mo and I took a fly by drive through Jasper Park in the Canadian Rockies today. I'm really glad I did it but in the future I want to take my time, stop spend the day in one area... I cannot experience nature fully through pictures or just driving through it. Feeling and the taste of air, the smell of life, seeing vistas in slow motion as I walk... I learned what is important from Glacier park last year. I will not rush through Alaska even if it takes all the rest of the journeys money. I loved the wildflowers today, It was raining most of the time and clouds obscured a lot of the mountains but when you are in a spectacular area nothing can stop the experience of being in awe.
Back at Judy and Garys place I continued to learn about my new friends. They have fostered twenty four children. I have said it before, there is nothing that affects me in a positive way more than families that accept everyone as part of family in this world. I know many people who have embraced "outsiders" that is what I was taught they were... as family members totally and not out of pity or need but because it is natural and the right thing to do. I love that this family has invited me in for the weekend. I forgot to mention and want to remember... I ate some moose and deer casserole for dinner, something new.
July 29, 2011
Foot Hills of the Canadian Mountains, Alberta, Canada
When I woke up my hosts house was full of people eating breakfast. Everyone was being invited to stop by for the weekend. I had asked about food the night before and did not get a feeling that food would be included with this stay and... the relatives dogs were to told to stay outside while my dog was inside with me. I was afraid I might be the start of trouble between family members. I sort of snuck Mo outside and came in not knowing whether to stay down by my bed or what to do. When I came back inside Judy called me to ask if I was all right. I told her I did not know who to assimilate into the situation.She said to just ask for whatever and get whatever. After that everything for the rest of the day flowed nicely. How great to watch a full family interact and see everyone function with a lot of energy and no chaos. People camping in the back yard, immediate family as well as extended and friends. I choose to stay behind while everyone went tubing. The truck needed to be cleaned out and everything reorganized from the boarder incident. I washed my clothes and hung out in a simple, calm, beautiful country setting. At night I pulled the Traveling piano truck out onto the grassy lawn to record some music and a had a whole bunch of piano players try out their musical sounds. The mosquitoes, there were about 700,000 of them trying to get at every part of my body. It was daylight until 10pm. When it got dark we had some fireworks.
July 28, 2011
Edson, Alberta, Canada
I had it real nice with Kristen for the last two nights. Alas, it is time to move on. Before I left Calgary, I followed her to work to see her place of business and meet the staff. The time was short and sweet. The ride north was beautiful. I went through a fifteen minute storm just long and hard enough to wash the bugs off the windshield. The clouds were amazing. My new friends Judy and Gary live in a rural area outside Edson in Alberta Canada west of the city of Edmonton. I had contacted them last year but it did not work out. They welcomed me this time even though it is the busiest weekend of the year for them. They have three boys and a girl and all their friends camping outside, a big party going on. Before it got dark which is now about 10 pm at night I played some piano and we had some fun.
The weather is turning colder. It might frost tonight but that does not stop the misquotes. They are big and ferocious. I am told the further north I go the black flies are what will get to us. Judy is an assistant teacher and Gary a forest ranger who grew up in a military family. I'm not sure how much time we are going to be able to spend together because there is so much going on and I do not want to be intrusive. Mo is being allowed to stay with me even though dogs are forbidden in the house. It is a deal breaker for me on this journey because there are only two situations that I can assure total constancy for him and that is when we are with the piano together and when we sleep at night. He is constantly adjusting to every other situation and new people every day. We both need time quiet and together. I would have slept in the truck for the night with him if it was necessary. I'm very glad it was not necessary and grateful. Last year at this time there was no dog in my life and I I did not think to check on the issue with them this time. I'm very appreciate for flexible people in my life!
July 28, 2011
Banff, Lake Louise, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I'm living in the moment. There is no time to think about the future or the past so I do not have a choice but to live presently. Mo and I have been hanging out in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We took a drive to Banff. I could have stayed there with interest for at least a week. There were no in your face advertising for the commercial business, both a city and town feeling with nature completely in the mix. We drove to Lake Louise which was awesome but made me crazy to go hiking because I now know from glacier park what it is all like on the inside. What most tourists see is only the circumference. No time for hiking. We checked out Lake Moraine. I actually liked this lake better because it was not as domesticated as Lake Louise. The water color of a glacial lake... wow! There was a partying group from French Quebec and I kept running into them. Eventually we had to have a Traveling Piano experience.
Iv'e been having a new experience with the Traveling Piano. People have been gawking at us! Ha... thats never happened before. They just stop whatever they are doing and gawk. Once I returned to Kirsten's house a neighborhood happening began. She had hoped the neighbors would come around because she had not met many of them. I created music by the curb outside her house and people came from blocks away. No major crowd (which is good) we all had a time. The next door neighbor for fun came out with a tray full of pizza, carrots, sweet cherries and soda to give to me for dinner. I've been remembering how good the meat is here in Canada especially the bacon. Without knowing this morning Kristen offered me some eggs and bacon for breakfast. She also cooked me some awesome lamb chops with asparagus, and mashed potatoes. Mo got onto the table for the first time last night and got a piece of pork. Tonight Kristen gave him more and I allowed him to have is first lamb chop bone. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that his digestive system can handle these new treats.
July 27, 2011
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I went to the Canadian boarder loaded, prepared with, license, registration, insurance, the receipts for all the work recently done on the Traveling Piano in order to show it is road worthy... my birth certificate, passport, social security card, voters registration, travel plan with destination map with all stop off points, a letter from a friend in Alaska verifying that I was going visit them in a few weeks, a letter from friends in Canada saying I was going to visit them, all the info concerning the friend I was staying with for my first night, info on the organizations I belong to, my bank statement to prove I have money, american cash, canadian cash and Mo's vet papers saying he is up to date with all his shots. The immigration officer gave a little smile noting how I was refused entry last year because I could not prove I had enough money and I was trying to get in to Canada for work. I told him that was not true. My driver's license had expired. The officer had accused me of trying to visit in order to work on pure assumption and no ability to think unconventionally. While waiting a guy from New Jersey with his family struck up a conversation that put me at ease and surprisingly the wait was not too long. Everything seemed great. They asked me to take the truck over to a building for inspection of the contents.
I drove up as a garage door opened. I was instructed to drive in. It was a huge airplane hanger type building. The garage doors shut behind me. Three inspectors dressed in black with black gloves stood around me and the Traveling Piano truck as I got out. There were tables on the side of the truck. They asked if I had any weapons, drugs and how much cash I had. They wanted to see the cash. As I pulled it out I realized "crap" there was a lot more than I had thought. I had just thrown out a number when they had asked me at the counter because I was thinking too much would not be a problem. As soon as they realized I had more money than I had claimed back at the customs desk I immediately became a suspect entering Canada to purchase firearms or drugs. I became a suspect for smuggling money to launder or finance firearms or for a terroristic act. I'm not kidding. These were their words. Also in the equation I became a suspect for illegal pictures so they took my computer and went through every personal file of mine. I felt violated. They told me to put my hands over my head while they did a physical strip search on me. Then they seized my money. While in a room waiting I used my favorite prayer the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the serenity... the peace of mind... this is what was needed for the situation, complete peace of mind. Mo helped just being with me. Another couple came in for a short while. We talked and they were a good distraction. I slipped up. Shit happens.
Damm... the money issues. The guy came out and said they would let me through into Canada but I had to pay a fine to get my money back. It was a level one fine the lowest level, $250. He asked if I needed someone to wire me money to pay! They had seized all my money so I had to get it from elsewhere!!! I said you got to be kidding, and then he said I could also use a credit card. I used my debit card. Last time I was in Canada they asked a few questions and did not even look under the truck covering. They saw the website and understood I am not here to take but to give. This is my life. This is my life? I was thinking about the quote I posted a few days ago... Happy are people who dream, dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true. They went through everything in my bags and truck and I mean everything! I watched them go through my wallet and take everything out then take it all away. I'm surprised they didn't look up my crack. The situation was ludicrous. Was it worth it to go through this for the dream? No, not today. Maybe down the road I'll look at it differently. Anyone who says this type of government action is good, necessary, or as one of the officers said, "for your own protection" ...anyone who thinks this way is DEAD WRONG! The US is just as bad but thats another story. Individuals working in government call the shots according to protocol, bureaucracy and their present state of mind or mood.
Unfortunately, I did not feel happy about entering Canada. As time went on, nature took over for me and then I became happy. The countryside was full of yellow and green with dark blue skies from passing storms. I passed a sign that read Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump play area... obviously a park. That created some humor and levity for me. Still, I am traumatized in this world today, now! As I sat and waited at the boarder I felt real strong about... its just Me and God an Mo. I'm handling that pretty well. Driving for the past few days has felt several times like a parting of the red sea for me. I see severe storms on both sides but manage to drive right in-between them with practically no rain. Today I ended up driving with both windows up for the first time in a long... time. It was actually cold. Then as I was passing through a town I saw in a parking lot with a tent and sign saying windshield repair. I thought that was a little strange but then a few blocks more and I saw four inch mounds of melting snow. How could this be? Then I saw police lights in the road because it was flooded. I had missed a huge hail storm! I thought, "well it cost an extra two and a half hours plus $250 at the boarder. Had I passed here earlier it might have been a lot longer time and $250 for a new windshield. The Traveling Piano windshield would, without question not have lasted through a major hail storm. The day got better and better. Mo got to run for a short while in a park. In Calgary, I met Kirsten who moved to Canada fifty years ago from Denmark. I super love Denmark and have been there twice. Kirsten makes and sells jewelry, has survived serious cancer, has children, a successful business and a beautiful house at age seventy. She looks like sixty years of age easy. She is my host for tonight and possibly tomorrow. Need to make decisions about going to Banff or straight up to Edmonton.
July 26, 2011
Ok, I am back on track. I think I may have been creating chaos in my mind and manifesting it yesterday. Staying an extra day here in Shelby, Montana was really necessary. I needed good long, sound sleep. I took a nap this afternoon. Been hanging out with a few Blackfeet Indians. I feel connected to this tribe. You can read about that from this time of year... last year. Shelby is a very small Montana town a few blocks long with a railroad passing through it. I went to the city hall to ask if they would accept a fax for me and there was no problem. They were as nice as can be. Try that at a big city hall! Ha. I played a little music outside as a result. A neighborhood family from across the street stopped by and a woman building a house nearby. At the motel apartment complex where I am staying a huge guy named Dan got on to play and we decided to use his chair for a piano seat because my chair is so fragile. Later in the day he gave me some special sage with yellow wildflower to take with me through my travels. I still have sweet grass given to me last year from this area of the country. Dan's nephew joined us with the Traveling Piano.
No matter what, there seems to be always something undesirable happening. Maybe I need to start thinking differently. One of the piano keys at the top of the keyboard is now sticking. That will drive me crazy especially since I recently purchased this new keyboard. Even with the severe weather conditions it has been through it should last longer, I think. One issue gets resolved and another pops up. I am determined to allow... and just do the best that I can. My thinking sometimes says it is not a good idea to constantly share on the blog the negative stuff that happens because it is too much, too often, sounds like complaining and who wants to read about problems all the time and... I certainly don't want this blog to be about problems but... the challenges are part of the journey... sometimes they are small, sometimes equal with all the success, sometimes seeming not worth pursing the journey forward. It is what it is. I am hear to tell the truth as best as I can, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.
In the afternoon there was another period of playing around. The owners of the hotel and their children as well as people from the neighborhood. At night I went to the library to print out some maps to get through Canada and play for the librarian, a very nice lady. Of course people coming in and out of the library had to check us out. Mo had some good fun on the lawn with a frisbee and a bunch of young girls. The word "lawn" reminds me... that is what the country side looked like while driving yesterday, the biggest, greenest, perfectly cut lawn ever! The weather could not be better. It is around seventy degrees, full sun with a nice strong summer breeze.
July 25, 2011
Stress... me so stressed! Here at the Canadian boarder, people from Alaska said they'd fax a letter for verification of my plan to travel through Canada and stay with them in Alaska. They couldn't get the fax together. I am not going to deal with the boarder police unless I am one hundred percent prepared. Feeling rushed, I booked another night so I will be staying in Shelby tonight as well as tomorrow night. It will take me a full day to get my act together, to get my where-with-all, my wits. I really do wish tasks would not take so long for me to accomplish. I want every new move to be easy. Ha, I'm fifty six years old and still waiting for that. It is what it is. Unfortunately I had planned to stay with friends first in Calgary, Canada but they will now be away once I get there. I'll need to schedule, book pet friendly hotels, map a route, create a timeline to Alaska while in Canada. This is so counter the Traveling Piano free spirited modality... its all good, its all good, its all good... My cell phone service is useless and my calling card will not work up here in the boonies of Montana. Tomorrow will be a challenge for sure. I wonder a little bit if a tendency to sabotage this part of the journey exists from within... out of fear. No matter what, I am keeping my eye on the ball... Alaska, come hell or high water or snow or sabotage or fear! Before I left Billings today, thirteen year old Alysha who lives in the house where I was staying woke up especially early to make sure she got onto the Traveling Piano to have a go with music before I left. For her like me... 10am is early. :) It took seven hours to get to Shelby.
July 24, 2011
I've been getting my pegs lined up... or something like that. My papers, Mo's papers... the documentation I may need to get into Canada and on up to Alaska, a few places to stay, validation letters that I have people to stay with, etc... It all frazzles my mind. I'm hearing all kinds of information about the roads to Canada, "don't get lost," "stop at every gas station you come across," "don't take the wrong road because you will be driving on broken gravel and rocks for a thousand miles," "last year the floods and storms broke most of the roads" ...on and on. Anyway, I am really glad to have stayed where I am for three nights. I got a feel for a very different way of life. Living with eight people who are incredibly different from each other... who are together because of what I would call from my life experiences... unusual life circumstances. They found each other from roommate ads in newspapers. A mother and daughter who have been struggling through life with just each other, a guy who lived in a big expensive house and then on the streets and now has his own home again, guys who live an almost communal functioning life while drinking a lot, people who have spent their life moving around from place to place (ha, thats now me) or with constantly changing roommates, adults who literally live from dollar to dollar, people in one house from five different countries...
I was originally afraid, nervous, uncomfortable, uneasy. Now I am understanding, appreciative and curious. Everyone in the house has given me the opportunity to adjust, have the experience, be part of, explore the why and how it works, the dynamics, harmony and flow of living in such tight quarters, tight but clean quarters, etc... I went from sleeping on the floor, to the couch to an air mattress. I can do this now! Hahaha... not that I want that for a life style... not at all! I can handle it better now if needed. Throughout this journey I constantly experience from people, relationships, houses, neighborhoods... "what it looks like on the outside is not what the reality is inside." Neighbors came out looking for me so they could play on the piano today, to explore the Traveling Piano. Vaclav my host got his dog Nicki on top of the piano with Mo. Mo tolerated it. Nicki did not want to get down. I've been feeling a lot of respect for Vaclav. He's a very easy, simple guy and totally intelligent about that. Simple is good. Complex is good.
July 23, 2011
Fried, the electronic equipment inside the Traveling Piano... kaput. I was aware that I did not want sympathy but wanted the world to know for the purpose of empowerment. No commiseration, I needed to hear myself and other people say, "keep going" "it is what it is" "you can deal with it" "its all good" etc... type of energy. I took deep breaths, I took my time to get the nerve to deal with it, I kept my eye on the ball. (the journey) My new friend Vaclav hung out with me and we worked as a team. After a day of troubleshooting and $700 later the Traveling Piano is back on the road. I came across a quote today that I really like... Happy are people who dream, dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true.
Before heading back to where I am staying Vaclav wanted to stop at a shopping center to get a few things. Within seconds people began stopping by, a local musician from Montana, a dad with his kids from the Northern Shawnee Indian nation, a really nice couple who have been living on the road for years... the couple in their late fifties work by day going door to door to solicit small jobs enough for a nights hotel room. If they don't make enough money in a day for a room they pitch a tent somewhere. Earning enough money for several six packs of beer comes before earning the money for a hotel room. Back at Vaclav's house I played for the neighborhood, it was getting dark. A young neighborhood kid jumped up and a young Ukrainian girl named Nataliya, a guy named Matt... Vaclav was too chicken.
July 22, 2011
When I go into a store to purchase food... I constantly must tell myself, "its not about the money." in order to make the most nutritious choices. I continued to drive through my heaven of open space today, the smooth forever rolling green hills et al. We passed through South Dakota, Wyoming and into Montana and the Shawnee, Crow and Lakota Indian nations. After a rain storm the smell of sweet sage was intoxicating for both Mo and I. The feeling of returning to this area of the country after only a year is unbelievable.
After driving seven hours I ended up meeting a new friend Vaclav. He is from the Czech republic. He has a small house with seven room mates... two young girls from Taiwan, one from the Ukraine, a guy named Matt who is thirty years old, a guy named Skip who is fifty eight, a woman named Melissa with her teenage daughter Alysha and a dog named Nicki and two cats. Needless to say I am not going to get much sleep. I'm on the couch where the cats lay (I'm allergic) and all the bedding is in use! Vaclav and I took a quick trip to visit with my friends Robyn and Nick who I stayed with last year while in Billings. I had sent my sheet music collection to Robyn a few months ago. Their house is also filled with relatives from England. Unfortunately, the Traveling Piano is not working. I took half of it apart but it started to get dark so I'll deal with it tomorrow. I'm feeling very exhausted.
July 21, 2011
Badlands, South Dakota
I decided to stay an extra night in the area. I felt a strong impulse to check out the the Badlands, a national park. The day started out with a Mexican guy jumping up onto the piano outside my motel room. He wanted to bang out a few musical notes and have his picture taken. After that Mo and I took a Traveling Piano journey break and went for a swim. It was especially fun because there were no people around. The water was perfect and the temperature outside was in the nineties. Mo found his way into the water by sort of slipping in and then I caught him. That was our first time in a pool together. This was great!
Later in the afternoon we set out for the park. I could have spent a week here in the Badlands because now I know after Glacier Park what it is like to hike on ground by foot verses seeing everything from lookouts and by car. Today was about driving and music. We had many stops with people and also a few very special moments with just Mo and I alone where I recorded some music. There were magnificent storms all around us with double rainbows on rock formations sharp and round in every shade of color.
Imagine... being in a city of a thousand castles. You are driving around on top of the castles... on their roofs. You are roaming around in the Traveling Piano truck at the bases of castle domes and cones that can be found in every shape, size and height. The bases that you are driving around show large expanses of land extending outside the castle areas for hundreds of miles. Now look down. What you see while driving around on the roof tops... around the bases and the structures up to the tops? Flip that view upside down and that is what you see from the roof tops looking down into the ground. That is my description of the Badlands in South Dakota. The entire experience created a ethereal effect within my spirit. Gratitude comes to mind.
July 20, 2011
Walls, South Dakota
The avoidance of "smelling the roses" that I wrote about a few days ago... well I need to smell the roses and I need to share the Traveling Piano whenever the opportunity presents itself and I want to stop and take a picture when I feel moved to do so and... the idea of driving as much as possible in a day well... a minimum of four hundred and five hundred maximum, that is what is possible. I can feel myself falling into a rhythm. Alaska is the goal but enjoying the process is more important. My days are now spent driving, playing with the Traveling Piano, blogging, pictures, lining up a place to stay, eating, showering and exercise when possible. There is time for absolutely nothing else. I stopped along the road to take Mo for a walk and after three minutes my head felt like a frying pan heating up. I couldn't believe how much the top of my head hurt and how it got hot so fast. Mr. Balding piano man here luckily has suntan lotion with him. Thank god the humidity has lessened. I am so thankful that I pushed through a difficult time the other day in moving forward. It was worth my life. The first half of todays drive was spent working on thinking with a positive attitude. After getting some gas at a station the truck once again would not start. I took a deep breath and relaxed. After a minute it started with a puff of black smoke. It's simply a problem that does not demand my immediate attention today. It was not the first time it happened and it will not be the last time.
After a couple hours of driving my world began to really shift. I arrived and found once again my heaven here on earth. All power lines, poles, farm houses, vehicles, billboards and people began to disappear and nature began to present itself with all its purity. It makes me feel like I want to cry being back here once again on the plains and prairies with the rolling hills and grasses, the wheat, corn, cows... ha. The mountains will be next. Sometimes it felt like I am riding on the floor of the ocean. I could literally feel myself as I drove today, riding around the world with the curvature of the earth. As far as my eyes could see there was a three hundred and sixty degree expansive panoramic view of nature. I became "one" with basic purpose beyond this journey and that is to simply "be." Mo has been hanging out while I drive lodging his snout between the window and side view mirror while becoming lost in all the smells of nature for hours at a time.
A friend booked a motel room for me in Walls, South Dakota. The lady at the desk immediately expressed interest in the Traveling Piano and I had told myself only a few hours earlier that I would "give it up" whenever anyone shows interest. Enough of holding back, saving energy, waiting for the right time, etc... I took the tarp off and began to play music in the parking lot next to the pool. People meandered around curiously, one guy later told me he wanted to come over to thank me because I created a big smile for him. Three young and pretty girls working at the motel for the summer from Turkey jumped onboard. We all had some fun.
July 19, 2011
Yikes! I drove through the night and stopped this morning thinking I had gone about six hundred miles and it was only three hundred and fifty. Last night I was thanking my lucky stars I choose night time driving because there was a lot of construction along the way which would have been disastrous for the truck engine with traffic backups and stopping, starting, overheating in the hot daylight sun. I did not get going until eleven at night. It took everything, every ounce of mind, body and spirit to move forward. I could have stayed where I was. I encountered a toll booth first thing with no attendant and spent a good half hour in the dark tearing everything apart that was packed nicely... for frigin' sixty cents. Stuff was spilling all over me, falling everywhere, sweat was pouring out of me. It did not feel pretty.
Driving through Coon Valley, Minnesota in the middle of the night was to say the least... a challenge. The fog created visibility of about six feet in front of the truck. It was pitch black and I drove the entire route at sixty five miles an hour trying to keep up with tractor trailers so I could use their back lights for a guide. I prayed the entire time. The humidity was so bad my windshield wipers were always on and water constantly dripped into the truck from my side window. The air could not be thicker to breath. Still, I was thankful the sun was not out. If it was ninety degrees in the middle of the night... can you imagine what it would have been like to drive in the daylight?
Once I got into Minnesota, I found the rest stops shut down because the government is shut down. Everyone is bickering over finances. I was drawn into Austin, Minnesota about six in the morning and found it pleasing enough to want to stay. The local inn gave me a deal I could not refuse. They let me sign in early because a bed was available, I got a pass to use the next door hotel pool and Mo was allowed. (ten buck not happy fee) I slept most of the day freezing by butt off (happily) in sixty six degree air-conditioning. The room had a deep jacuzzi tub so I soaked in that, ate sardines in the bed and spilled the juice everywhere. I thought about the Traveling Piano and how everything was frying and exploding under the new black tarp outside from the heat and sun but there was nothing to do about it.
Once the sun began to set I felt propelled to go out and play a little. I remembered a very nice park area by a lake while driving in, so there I headed. Did you know the Spam Museum (Hormel Foods) is in Austin, Minnesota? Knowing it was close by was enough for me. It was too hot for people to hang out so no one was in the park except for me and Mo. Within a minute as usual and like clockwork...a couple on bikes arrived. Fun people, a doctor and his wife the retired mayor of Austin. That experience segwayed into meeting Bob the local piano tuner who arrived to care for the parks purple martin bird houses. Did you know that purple martins only eat what they can catch while flying in the air? He brought over to the Traveling Piano a baby that fell out of the house too soon and could not fly. After that, two local guys came over who had their boat with them arrived. As I was driving last night I experienced a deeper sense than ever before of being a free spirit. The feeling was not good or bad just... different. I must cling tight to my purpose and the fun I am having with the work. If I let go of it for a moment and forget or begin to focus on difficulty I just want to quit. It is what it is.
July 18, 2011
This morning the weather report this morning said I would be traveling into a reloaded atmosphere of severe storms targeting me with threats of damaging winds, thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes... a strong disturbance coming out of the rockies will interact with warm, moist air masses all organizing into line segments to develop and set the stage for widespread damage. The storms will congeal into more organized complexes and race eastward producing high wide gusts to 70 mph, hail to the size of golf balls or larger, torrential downpours and tornadoes... power outages, flight delays, knocked down tree branches, and one or two inches of rain can pour down in a matter of a couple of hours resulting in a significant flash flood threat. Driving on roadways, interstates with water over them will put your life at risk. I did not make any of this up. That was the weather report for this morning and like a complete idiot I listened. All day it was sunny, hot and humid... nothing else, period. None of the hysterical crap happened.The problem... it has been in the 90's with 99% humidity and no breeze all day. I cannot survive in that. It is now near nine pm and I am about to leave and drive all night with the temperature to stay in the mid-nineties?
July 17, 2011
My new friends asked if I wanted to go to church with them. Hmmm... how could I not? Jean is a retired educational psychologist and Lou is a retired corporate lawyer and a secular humanist and they both belong to the Geneva, Illinois Unitarian Universalist church. The music chosen for todays service offering... jarred my sensibilities. It was so much fun! I asked Lynn the church piano player to come outside and play it afterwards on the Traveling Piano! Check it out... Church Offering Music ...Mo sat on top of the piano and chewed the tree limbs from above while people tried out the piano. By the way, I learned that I won't make friends with people from Illinois if I do not say the state name correctly. There is no "S" pronounced at the end of the word Illinois .
I had my first peanut butter, cream cheese sandwich today. It was very interesting and tasty. I meandered around the area in humid heat and found a perfectly luscious spot on the Fox river at a boat ramp in St. Charles, Illinois next to Geneva. Most everyone left us alone so I was able to create music until I was tired... this, for the first time in a long time. A woman stood with her baby for a good twenty minutes and when I stopped she said the baby would not stop crying until I began creating music. As soon as I stopped he began to cry again. It made me realize how little time I spend creating music on this journey now because other people come into the days events and get onto the piano for themselves which is as important as it can get. Today, I became part of the environment and it was wonderful under a shady tree by the waters edge. People milled around on land and by boat. I was treated to a salmon, avocado, artichoke, corn, asparagus, mushroom diner by my hosts. Feeling good....
July 16, 2011
I ended up in another musky smelling hotel room last night. I choose that rather than a marathon drive and was too tired to try another place. I've found even more clarity about what is different now with the journey today. I have no plan to return anywhere. I have no home and no secure home base as in the past, this may be the longest time on the road and the farthest distance traveled if the truck and my body hold up. I left Cleveland and felt really good driving in the sun with the warm breeze. The sky reminded me of the open ocean. I knew I was going to stop along the way and connect with people to share the fact that it has been twenty nine years ago today since I have not had alcohol or a recreational drug in my body not that theres anything wrong with that for anyone else... I just would not be alive today if I had continued trying to have fun through the same old, same old ways.
About two in the afternoon on a whim I decided to randomly call someone in my travel book to see if they would like a last minute visitor. Wow! Jean and Lou responded without hesitancy and so about seven hours later I ended up in Geneva, Illinois about forty miles West of Chicago. It used to be the town outside of Chicago at the end of the railroad line where old ladies used to take a ride to shop. It is now a city and there are two more railroad stops after it. How fantastical that I can phone people and ask if they would like a visit from a strange piano man will arrive to stay the night with his piano in the back of a truck and with his dog who sits on top of the piano... and they welcome us with open arms having no idea who or what we are about. People who enjoy, are interested in and want to learn about other people with trust. This is the best of life... people open to and willing to explore relationship with humankind. Immediately I began meeting people in town, a really nice town! One ladies said, "I can't believe this tightly wound woman got up onto a truck to play a piano." She had never tried to create music before.
July 15, 2011
The Traveling Piano has departed for Alaska!!! No specific plan in place. Maybe we will drive through the night. What is major about this departure... in all my other experiences there were specifics of a sort. I had a plan to meet or be with someone at the other end to start. With Katrina I had a Mardi Gras parade that came to me at the last minute and those people got me started there. With Mexico, it was to hook up with my friend Cory in a tribal village, in Canada it was again Cory and I would not have gone to Newfoundland without a friend. Piano Dog Boner was my catalyst to cross country last time heading for Hollywood and live to the best of our ability every moment while he was alive. Recently, I had friends to connect with near Joplin Missouri after the tornado. Now... nothing! Ha, I'm scared, really scared especially as I have no one lined up to stay with because my plans are to drive as much as I can each day which means hotels and motels, food, the price of gas and my dwindling funds non-stop. Oh, the Drama! Really, I can line up people if I want to and I am heading to Alaska to continue creating the journeys mission, what I have been doing for the last five years and also to give myself the present of this earths nature to enjoy.
I hope not to create the Traveling Piano experience until I get there, unless the journey demands it. I'll drive continuously and stop only when I have to stretch, eat, sleep and ponder. Who am I kidding? I will not rush but also try not slowing up to "smell any roses." Well, as best as it is in my ability not to "stop and smell the roses." I'm speaking metaphorically. It is already late in the season and I want at least a month to play in Alaska and possibly find a situation where I can stay if that is meant to be. I would like to experience spring there before returning to the lower states. If I was in better shape physically with more energy, that would be helpful. My hesitancy about this whole thing would be less. Last night I had dinner with my friends Kathy, Johnny and their kids. We had fun with the Traveling Piano and neighbors. Johnny was like, "I don't see a plan, it doesn't feel right, I don't have a vision to share." They gave me the movie the Edge to Watch on my computer. It is another scary Alaskan adventure movie. I may never return! I may get lost in the wild. How many time am I going to think that! Hahahaha. So be it.
July 14, 2011
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Everyday day that I think I will leave, I don't. It is taking every ounce of spirit, energy and faith to begin a new chapter for this journey. I am heading for Alaska one of these days and I am sick of hearing myself talk about it. It was one of the first thoughts I had when started the journey back in 2006. I have had an animation of the Traveling Piano playing on an iceberg, penguins and all in Alaska and I have had it on the website from the start. After three attempts, I'm going to go for it once again. I'll not cross Canada even though it would save me a thousand miles. I'm too chicken after the boarder police gave me so much trouble last time I tried in September. They thought I was a busker entering to live there and began pulling out immigration and 9/11 bullshit. This is even after I showed them I had already visited the maritime regions of New Brunswick and Newfoundland having been documented and featured all over the news and on Canadian National Public radio. Finally, I discovered my drivers license had expired and I returned east to renew it and unknowingly at least consciously to accept now piano dog Mo into my life. Another reason to cross the country in America... if the truck dies for good now heading towards 300,000 miles of use, I want the truck to die here in America. It feels like there would be a lot less hassle to deal with. Today was beautiful. I slept through most of it.
July 13, 2011
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
I was parked on the street and a guy said, "Your having fun!" I said, "Am I?" He said "Yea, your Traveling' around with your Dog and your Music having fun!" I thanked him for reminding me. I just finished uploading all the pictures from last months journey to Joplin, Missouri after the tornado destroyed thirty percent of the city. I heard they are still finding bodies and I am not surprised at all... while being thankful that I did not come across any. I published almost seven hundred photos, check them out... Gallery 01 Joplin, Missouri on this website.
I was hiding in my friend's spa all day getting the pictures done. People were looking everywhere for me. I knew it. The sun was to hot and the future was dominating my mind. At dusk when I was leaving I felt better able to cope with life. A woman from across the street said, "when are you going to play some?" I couldn't resist and that started a parade of new people who had already seen us from a distance through the past few days and then old friends happened by... a special one, Conner. Do you know the history of Conner from this blog? He was on the truck before he was born and then again six days after and then again sycronisitcally on his first birthday!
July 12, 2011
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
The humidity got to me today, I broke down and pulled a small air conditioner up from the cabin cellar. It helped. Later in the day I went to the lake to record some music. Mo went swimming and running up and down a steep hill. I think he prefers to fetch from water.
A young couple happened by for the mountain sunset by the lake with blanket and chinese food. What a find for them eh? Their own piano man with piano added to the occasion. A family from my original home town area happened by on their way traveling south. I was thinking since it is so humid and I am wet that I wouldn't need water. Sometimes I scare myself with my thinking. I ended up running to the lodge and drank almost a gallon straight down.
July 11, 2011
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
I am having a little mini vacation of sorts. With the heat in the nineties, no breeze, full humidity in the mountains, no people or distractions, (except for my mind) and under an umbrella of trees I sleep... enough to have semiconscious dreams. Ahhh.... I wake up and then my mind starts.... ugh... so I write to transfer the thoughts wanting to go back into peacefulness. As I have mentioned many times in this blog as I travel I find it disturbing that all land is now owned by people or government. Land is no longer public as in not pay money to use. I cannot find a beach to be in and enjoy without paying money or mountains, plains... more and more I must cough up the cash to create music in nature. Thank God for friends who share their nature and space and also for the state parks that still do not charge. The next step? For the last fifteen years I have been watching society become conditioned into paying for water. Yesterday for the first time in a supermarket, next to each other... 2 litters of soda $.99... one gallon of regular water $1.05 cents. In Joplin, Missouri last month after the tornado the largest wasted relief resource... payed for bottled water, crates and crates sitting in plastic, baking in the sun. There is no turning back but I find it all like a cancer. The answer... do I focus on the sickness, recovery or good health. Good health is the answer for me and any recovery process needed comes naturally with thoughts of good health. Good thoughts... they take work in the form of practice from me, thoughts of good health in mind, body and spirit. I do the best that I can... practice, practice, practice. What I accomplish is not as important as the conscious practice. This I know for sure. Everything I just wrote... a distraction from feelings associated with leaving everything now familiar and heading towards Alaska. My English Bulldog, Beagle went fetching in water today, he likes to swim!
July 10, 2011
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
No computer, television, radio, I can get incoming phone calls and call out with a calling card where I am... but resisted even turning the phone on this morning. The experience of being still and quiet and one with nature, no clothes on a very warm summer day laying on a recliner, body completely relaxed with Mo at my feet listening to the trees, birds and bees... I feel very fortunate but am aware that I worked to have this experience, the work was in giving it to myself. The work is all about staying grateful for life and what I experience. Tendencies towards neediness, scarcity, aloneness, etc... still exist but I know they are simply illusions. I just ate the biggest most perfectly ripe, tasty banana... ahh.
My friend Barbara visited me today and noted a concern. She sees wonderful smiling blog pictures but the words over the last week have not been all so wonderful. It is a fact that when I am working on the Traveling Piano all is wonderful and when I am not working on the Traveling Piano life has its ups and downs as is with most humans. This blog is personal. It is not only about the journey I have created, it is about me and my experience, strength and hope. The purpose of this blog is to share my life "it is what it is" to show the truth as honestly as it can be... it is a reality blog. Ugh... what a thought. I am so not into reality shows. It is what it is. Really, this blog is not for "show" it is for connection, relationship, inspiration, contribution, empowerment and love.
July 9, 2011
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Today is my birthday. I don't want it to be big deal but I want it to be a big deal. Having my niece and her three children here with me in this cabin I use in West Virginia is absolutely surreal. They came to visit in total love and for a myriad of reasons but primarily to be with me on my birthday. I am loved. Hundreds of people have acknowledged my birthday today. This is amazing to me and all I can feel about it is gratitude. I've never been so "in the moment" without a sense of urgency although the idea of heading to Alaska does need immediate attention because of the change of seasons. Also it will be the biggest leap of faith yet that... all is right in my world.
I took my family up to the park overlook and created music, we sat and talked, met a few people, we drove around town to meet a few friends, I played but not much and I wasn't into getting people to play because I did not get a lot of sleep last night. I set the alarm for eight this morning because I did not want to lose or waste any time being with my loved ones. The Traveling Piano seems to be creating more interest wherever I go then ever before. There was a time where I would get a break between people. Now whenever the music starts I have to create the stopping of it all at some point and it seems almost a disappointment for people who arrive too late because my stamina seems limited as well as my energy level. Going back to the cabin alone tonight seems very scary because I have not been alone for a while without stimulation, people or distractions. There is no television, internet, neighbors phone etc...
July 8, 2011
Ok, so... onward to West Virginia. We stopped after about an hour and a half of driving at a rest stop. We stayed stopped. The truck would not start... and I am going to drive this truck to Alaska??? It just goes to show that I can be aware and prepare and prepare and prepare and it can all be for nothing. After months and many thousand dollars of getting this truck in shape... it still broke down. Someone gave me a jumpstart... onward we went. In West Virginia we hooked up with my niece and three of her children. Can we talk love? In a sort of temporary home base where I have been staying on and off for a couple of years I laid down in the bed and felt and thought... I'm not leaving this place of peace. I quit, I feel too comfortable, safe and secure in my familiarity. I'm not leaving for a long time. Mo thought... "ditto."
July 7, 2011
My last day here in Philly has been very low key. I went to a chinese buffet with my friend Ed. Sat in a hot tub nursing my hemmoriods... too much information? That issue can take on a major role with the idea of my sitting in the truck and driving for two weeks straight to Alaska. Mo spent time playing with the neighborhood dogs. I read a little about thinking out of the box concerning my life and staying out of what can seem to be a very natural abyss in my head. I want to become more aware of the constructs and labels I tend to create... that get me stuck and prevent me from moving forward. We will be heading to West Virginia tomorrow with no plans once again to return to Philadelphia.
July 6, 2011
Crescentville Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
My friend Mark joined Mo and me today. We hung out. I wanted to drive around and take pictures but there was too much business to take care of. I had to go sign a tax return at my old accountants place. It is almost unbelievable that the IRS has come after me. With all the money to be collected and all the con artists getting away with millions and millions of dollars in tax evasion they spend time and money coming after someone who had an earned income of only thirty three dollars worth of tax in 2008. Then I went to deal with for the last time... a new truck tarp. After an hour of waiting I thought I should check on the guy putting on the metal snaps. I found him inside his garage sipping on a coke. I told him he needed to get to work, get the job done. After two more hours the job was done and Ester the woman who sewed the tarp said, don't take it off until after it rains. I was like, "not on your life I need to check this thing out." Glad I did, the guy had not replaced the metal snaps and some of them were loose. They tried to tell me thats the way it was supposed to be. I told them that I have been using the truck for twenty years, I know what is supposed to be. What the hell is wrong with people!!! I told him to replace the snaps, do the job he was paid to do. They both went to work together. After another hour I wondered what the hell was he thinking for the three hours he was supposed to be working... that I would not notice, not care? Oh my God I cannot tell you how frustrating... So anyway, the job is done. Still, all the snaps were not replaced but I wore out. The new tarp will either work or it won't. The new snaps will either hold or they will not hold. The metal snap quality is without question not the same as the original but... its done. I'm done.
I got to see my friend Tim, hang out with my friend Mark, walk in the woods, eat some great pizza and a pastrami sandwich from a great northeast Philly Jewish deli... The tax people and the pizza delivery guys got onto the truck... the tarp couple I did not even try to get on the truck so I just took there picture next to it... a very hungry looking lady hanging out in the parking lot where we were eating pizza got some music and pizza to enjoy for herself with Mark and I. It has been easy for me to be angry the last few days. When I am not presently "in the journey" I look to anger for a distraction because I have choices to make. Imagine... having a problem over what I should do... what fun direction should I choose for my life. I get angry because I have a problem choosing so I look for reasons to be angry and not focus on the fun choices. I have difficulty making choices. This must change. It takes practice, practice, practice and awareness.
July 5, 2011
I am one hundred percent wiped out and exhausted from yesterday. It all was without question fun! This makes me revaluate seriously what my next move will be. Every day I could not vacillate more as to wether I should make a straight drive to Alaska before I get any older and the season begins to cool down... or if I can handle staying in a cabin in West Virginia without the convenience of places to walk, internet, television, people, roads, etc.. or visit a friend for a few weeks... maybe I should just stay on the road day by day and then I must deal with the pain in the ass of constantly finding overnight lodging. I'm going to turn fifty six years old on Friday. God, I wish I did not know that. Ha.
July 4, 2011
The Traveling Piano breaks squealed as I drove down a garage ramp today. I no longer care. No more repairs to this truck unless it becomes an absolute must. Onward... to Oreland, Pennsylvania. I have friends in Oreland so I joined them for their Fourth of July parade. This is a parade I have participated in for many years. The guy driving me his name was Dan and he said, "I've been watching you in this parade since I was a kid." That blew me away because Dan in almost my age! Hahaha... Bea and her daughter Michelle came to see us. They were at my first performance ever on the Raggin' Piano Boogie truck in 1987! My niece... family in tow were all there to surprise me. It was like a reunion and the town treated me that way. They were all seeing Piano Dog Mo for the first time and appreciative to see us. I have not been in the area for several years. Everyone, having loved Piano Dog Boner... communicated their happiness in seeing me with my new companion Mo. I feel a strong connection with Oreland mostly because of my friend Sid who runs the parade. He has always made it clear that what I have to offer is valued. Mo and I ended the parade. "Its not the end of the parade until the piano man and dog pass by."
Afterwards we stayed around for hours while people met Mo, jumped onto the truck to create music as usual and I met a guy named Andy and drove him around town while he jammed on the back of the truck. Onward to my high school friend Patty's house for a barbecue with old friends. Patty gave me the idea for putting the piano on the back of a truck and helped me get started with promoting it twenty five years ago. To be with old friends and watch us age is amazing. I had a lot of fun eating and Mo... he ate up all the attention he could get and whatever he can find on the ground.
Back to center city Philadelphia for the nighttime 4th of July fireworks. I took Mo right to the front, so close the ashes fell on us like rain. He was a little nervous but there was no need to cover his ears until the finale. The experience was a success! He is trusting me more and more and getting used to loud sounds of all types. I carried him over my shoulders out of the crowd... mobs of people. There were way too many people moving in way too many directions for him to get a grip in order to deal with it all. Bacl at my friend Ed's house, I'm trying to get the pictures from Joplin, Missouri after the tornado finished so I can post them. The journey to the devastated area in June was amazing. It was an amazing month of pictures to share and now time to move on.
July 3, 2011
Rosbel and Franz who hung out with us yesterday joined us again today. We started out driving to Traveling Piano picture perfect spots for... pictures! I pulled over to a curb to take a picture with the city in the background. Within seconds security arrived. "You are outside a federal building you cannot stop here, you can't even take pictures from here." I left wondering if this is my country or a governments country... where the country's people who are trying to move around freely can no longer stop, stand, walk or take pictures from "public" streets that run near governments buildings, where the buildings are not even in the pictures! Yesterday, I drove Rosbel and Franz by the Liberty Bell. There was a time you could see it from the street behind reinforced bullet proof glass walls. Now you need tickets, go through a security check and then walk down a half block indoor corridor. It is now behind a fortress of thick stone no windows. Ugh! Ok, to the good stuff.
As usual, synchronistic people began to appear wherever we stopped. "Hey, I know from Glenside, PA!" I used to do the 4th of July parade in that town for ten years straight... but not for the last five years since this journey began. "Hey, I'm from Oreland." I heading to Oreland tomorrow to be in the 4th of July Parade! "Hey, didn't you used to play at Harborfest in Somers Point?" Yea, before the journey began. "Hey I saw you on the internet, my friend sent me your link!" Ha, it feels good to be known... especially because I don't get paid anything from it all... in the conventional sense at least.
Again, I took my computer to get repaired and as a result ended up on 16th and Walnut street in center city. I was there for hours. While I was in the shop which was a major hassle and drag trying to get people to do their job... Rosbel and Franz took over my job outside on the street and directed people up onto the truck to create music and then they took pictures for me. Lots of people were looking to be entertained. Lots of people had a chance to entertain themselves... and they did! It was very much fun. I had my water with me today but still not enough. My friend Ed said that the Traveling Piano is my "raisons' etre." I looked that up on the internet... yea, I guess it is. That scares me a little for some reason. In any case Piano Dog Mo inspires me to pursue my "raisons' etre." :)
July 2, 2011
We met Rosbel and Franz from Mexico. They look just like a couple I met while with the Traveling Piano while in Mexico a few years back. Rosbel and Franz are just friends and have never been to Philadelphia so they got to see some of the city through Traveling Piano eyes. I drove them through the streets while they improvised music and Mo hung out with them on top of the piano. We stopped at random spots and interacted musically with people until the sun began to set. I wanted to go play by a bunch of people who are living on the grassy areas in front of the cites cathedral. An older homeless woman came up and asked to play. She sat and enjoyed playing all the songs and finger exercises from her childhood piano lessons. She said, "I don't have a home and I do not know where I am going to stay tonight." I told her that I also do not have a home. She said, "Oh good, then I can stay with you and sleep in the back of the truck tonight." I laughed and I think she laughed with me I wasn't sure although we sure did have fun.
With it being the July 4th weekend the city is full of people. I could have had thousands of interactions anywhere and everywhere. It took me a while to get my energy going. Like a fool, I did not take water with me so my energy once I got it going did not last long. The security around the city irritates the shit out of me. The rationalization... its the tenth year of nine, eleven on the fourth of july. Can the paranoia, drama and excuses to generate more money and expense get more ridiculous? All it is... fear breading fear... I want nothing to do with it. At night I took Mo out to get used to fireworks in the distance. He has a major sensitivity to anything that sounds like guns or bombs. The fireworks were beautiful. I started on a diet... again today. Will I make it through the night? Ha, whatever. I do the best that I can.
July 1, 2011
Today, another Traveling Piano truck repair finished, a thousand bucks more. Where did the money come from? I'm more focused on where its going. The truck is purring but it is difficult to feel optimistic at this point. The clutch and carburetor still give me problems from time to time. While walking the street down by the Philadelphia Art Museum I passed a sign saying massage sale sixty bucks for an hour. I said to myself, "if I can put over five grand into my truck I can put sixty bucks into myself." It has been years since I have been able to treat myself to a massage. A friend treated me to one while in Colorado over a year ago. Usually I feel zonked out, sometimes in pain or experience shifted pain after a massage. This time I felt totally energized! It was crazy, ha I never felt more energy after a massage before. Anyone in Philly looking for the best massage ever check out Nicole at Fairmount Family Integrative Medicine 2601 Pennsylvania Avenue. It was amazing and I needed it to deal with what came next, the damm computer repair store... wasted time. While heading back to where I am staying Mo drew some people in on the street and we had a chat but I had to get the truck out to create some music. It was a beautiful night and I needed my fix of music. On the way down the street I stopped to have some fun with my new friends and of course that spilled over into other people.
Afterwards, I was starving so I drove to South Philly for a cheese steak. There are two rivals across the street from each other, the first place was full a attitude and I felt ripped off... $12.50 for a friggin' lousy cheeseteak and small soda? I ate it and went across the street to the other place to fulfill my desires. The attitude was better at that place. The guy gave Mo a ball of steak. I gave the guy some music and of course that spilled over into other people. I am now exhausted. Oh God, it hurts me to put this in writing... because it signifies commitment. It looks like I am going to drive the Traveling Piano truck to Alaska very soon and will need to drive straight through to get there at least a month before the snow starts. I'm supposed to feel good about this right? I know once I "just do it" it will be the dream of a life time but I'm scared, hesitant, concerned about the physical aspects of all the driving, the truck, Mo, blah... blah... blah... I just need to do it. Alaska had been on the agenda since the second year of the journey and this will be my third attempt. I must experience the nature of Alaska for my world and to express it with as much music as possible. I'll most likely leave on my birthday or the day after. I feel driven to do this.