HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010
Use the links to the left to read a past Month or Year... and then there is always your Backspace to return to a past page.
Would you like to support 15 years of Traveling Piano work without fees, tips or commercial affiliation? Cash App and Venmo:@TravelingPiano - GoFundMe:The Traveling Piano - Paypal Direct: www.paypal.me/dannykean - And of Course this Website Contribution Page.
September 30, 2011
The day started out with a trip to city hall. i wanted to connect with Mary the city clerk who I had sent an email before arriving to ask if she knew of anyone who might be interested in hosting us. She sent the request all over town and that is how I connected with Susan my host. I really appreciate people like Carol of course. As I said a couple of days ago I had never sent out cold emails to a political entity, organizations or busines places to find a host. Even though it worked out this time, I'll never do it again. First, it gave a heads up to everyone that the Traveling Piano was coming which negated a lot of personal discovery for people. Also, along with all the giving people it brought into my life those with agendas other than giving. I am very sensitive when it comes to agendas. Some are good and then some... I just want to destroy! Ha... it is what it is.
In the afternoon I headed to the school. There are about forty kids from elementary on up in this town and even though our time was short I hope everyone we met had some fun. After that I headed over to a new friend, Jeff's house to meet his family and was treated to my first taste of bear meat. I ate myself some black bear stew!!! Known to be a little greasy, it made for perfect stew meat. I felt a little uneasy eating it and feel a little uneasy writing about it but hey, after eating seal flipper in Newfoundland and moose and seaweed etc... what can I say? it is what it is. Can't believe this is the last day of September, what a great month it has been. Termination dust can be seen on the mountain tops here in Alaska. That is snow signifying the end of summer, there practically is no fall season.
I went back into the woods to take more pictures of mushrooms today, at least ten different varieties everywhere in and around big evergreen trees and ferns. My new camera does not take micro shots, I'll need to purchase yet another lens for that, ugh. Before it got dark I drove to the ferry dock to play over the water and it was not long before people began to appeared. One woman with her daughter I had met on the ferry coming over, born and bred in Seldovia. Another guy moved here years ago from Hoboken, New Jersey my old neck of the woods. I have very much enjoyed meeting the local people here and am also glad I got to experience the place while it still has the remnants of an old fishing village. It feels like in years to come it will be mainly a tourist attraction.
September 29, 2011
I'm in a good place here in Seldovia. For the first time ever before arriving I had sent out emails to the arts council, city hall, the mayor and the native association asking for a journey hosting contribution. I had nothing to lose, the village is small and I wasn't sure there would be a place to stay... Susan responded. Even though it was not a convenient time for her she is a strong advocate for musicians and also the executive director for the Seldovia Arts Council... an artist who used to teach art in the school here... has a production company named Crazy Crow Productions that sets up the Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival and holds house concerts and... Susan also owns the Seldovia Rowing Club B&B. Most importantly she is a good person wanting to help out.
What is impressive to me is that she is sharing her B&B with Mo and I and without cost... a business that is her income. She has the distinction of being the first B&B ever in Central South Alaska. All other B&B's follow her path. Mo and I have a full apartment all to ourselves. I slept until I wanted to get up this morning with complete privacy. The rest was needed. The place is built on the water along a historical boardwalk that is really a neighborhood street. It is warm and cozy with big bay windows where I watch the tide come in and out below us. It moves through a big slough. This is not your usual tide. I happened to be here on the highest tide day of the year. When I arrived last night, crystal clear turquoise sea water filled the area to the brim. This morning it was almost empty of water like a small creek snaking its way out into the sea and at least fifty feet down. At night the water is back. Ha, if anyone reading this blog wants to get in contact with Susan for any reason try the Arts Council at this link... Seldovia Arts Council or look up the B&B's phone number on the web.
First thing today Mo and I went for a walk along a trail through the woods to the beach with ferns and beautiful mushrooms everywhere. Mo has an uncanny talent for knocking over mushrooms before I can get a picture of them. Wow, i am so grateful for the grace to keep going and therefore be able to enjoy my relationship with everything that is earth. In the afternoon it rained. Later the sun came out so I decided to create some music by the water. Susan and three of her neighbors Walt, Sachiko and Tim came over. I ended up driving everyone down main street to dinner while Susan tinkled on the ivories. I was going to treat Susan to dinner but Walt ended up treating everyone to help support the journey which was very much appreciated because food here is expensive! It costs a lot to bring it in via ferry.
September 28, 2011
For the second morning in a row the piano would not work. The night temperatures are now in the thirties and with the ocean air, condensation is happening cover or no cover. I used an extension chord from Sally's house to get some sound so I could give her son Alex's tudor and her daughter a Traveling Piano experience. After that and with a lot of apprehension we took the ferry to Seldovia, Alaska. Originally I thought Seldovia was an island but it is in fact connected to the mainland of Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula. The only way to access this place is by ferry. While driving around I stopped to talk briefly with two women walking their dogs. They asked if I needed a place to stay. That issue has been tumultuous. I appreciated the offer big time.
While showing the Traveling Piano to Susan who is hosting us, her neighbor Kris walked over and offered his garage for our use. Huge appreciation here... while in his garage the piano began once again to work. On the ferry ride I watched whales playing in the water. They were diving into the air and flopping back down into the water. Some took dives as I watched their tails flip against the mountain backdrops. They swam about while spouting water from their blow-holes. I have never felt like I did in seeing all that. It was different than the experience of bears in the woods or moose in the fields. There was an exceptionally free feeling from the lack of constructs in the ocean water as they played.
September 27, 2011
I arrived at the ferry to Soldovia at nine in the morning and then the ferry broke. It was supposed to be fixed and ready to leave every two hours until five in the afternoon when they finally said... tomorrow. They did fix it, a simple chain link. The difficulty came in trying to get a state inspector off his ass to come inspect it. Luckily it was ok to stay with Sally another night. Hey, when the opportunity presents itself I'll opt to stay here and winter in Alaska in order to arrange getting the Traveling Piano onto an iceberg to play some music. The temperature is presently in the thirties and its getting almost cold enough to drive onto ice! Just thought I would throw that out into cyberspace and see what happens... :)
September 26, 2011
It took two hours to write and send two emails today. I just could not get the where-with-all to function. I did accomplish the task and had the time to do it.That is what I want to focus on. Early evening I had the choice to take the Traveling Piano out to play or walk on the beach with my dog. I choose the beach because we had not done that here in Homer. On one side was a high bluff, the other racks and water with mountains and glaciers in the distance, the sea, the sun setting, I got my exercise by watching Mo run. The sand was mixed with black mud and water constantly ran through it from streams in the bluffs. There has been a bit of fear floating around. It feels like I am leaving Alaska with an unknown future. The fact is I'll be here for a few more weeks, I'm just leaving the top part of the state and as far as the future... shouldn't I be used to not knowing what the future will hold after more than five years of living this way? I experienced an overwhelming feeling a gratitude and with that came a phone call from someone in Seldovia where we are heading tomorrow inviting us to stay with them for the full five nights we will be there.
September 25, 2011
Onward... we hooked up with Sally today to stay with her and her son Alex. Many people will fling off my coincidences with "this is a small town" or "its a small world" but not me. There is something else going on. I don't quite know what it is and I'm not so sure it is important but... there is a guy very well know in Alaska named Johnny B a Ragtime, Boogie piano player like myself who used to travel with his piano around the country. His name has come up in conversation no less than fifteen times since I've been here. I emailed two newspapers who had done articles on him to try and get in touch. I was told he lived in Homer but moved away. Yesterday, at the high school homecoming parade I stopped to talk to only one person. She had a dog who's face I was drawn to. I told her she had a very special dog. I had never seen eyes with a spirit like in this dog. Well, guess what... Johnny B lives on one side of Susan, and the woman with the dog lives on the other side. Mo and this dog played all day long non stop. Mo also found a compost heap to roll in and also got into a heap of trouble because he left me for too long a time to run with the other dogs in the neighborhood who were showing him the rounds. Of course they all came back but Mo cannot have the luxury of leaving me for long periods of time in unknown environments.
Sally's son Alex is a bright young fifteen year old who recently gave a Tedx talk. Ted is a worldwide community that fosters learning, inspiration and wonder and seeks to provoke conversations that matter with no commercial, religious or political agenda. Mo and Alex were friends instantly. I did not take the Traveling Piano truck out today. Instead I sat and talked from two in the afternoon until two in the morning with my new friend Sally. We sat on her house deck overlooking the sea and mountains. No pressure, no agenda, no expectations, just hanging out with friendship. Learning about her life was awesome. She sang professionally for twenty years, was married a lot of years, has had a lot of strong life experiences. I learned about bull kelp today. It is the fastest growing seaweed in the world. It is high in nutrients and I had my first taste of it today. Crunchy, somewhat chewy pickled bull kelp, yum!
September 24, 2011
I felt pretty safe that today was going to be a full day without rain even though it did sprinkle at times. It rains every day here. I am told in Sitka and Juneau Alaska it rains almost all the time. We shall see. My goal was to drive to the end of a road today but I never made it because the road I was on got too steep. Mo and I ended up at an overlook and began to meet people from everywhere. A lot of people watch television news! About fifty percent of the people we meet saw us on television. Many who have seen us drive around town say they are happy to have had the chance to interact with us. Me too, I feel the same about everyone I meet. I met a forty eight year old woman Alaskan who is a world weight press champion as well as the people today who create the Milepost publication, the bible of north country travel.
I am absolutely glacier obsessed. Everytime I look at them and become mesmerize, transfixed, full of uncontrollable awe. They are in the mountains in front of me everyday in Homer. While driving through a neighborhood I came across a young guy playing the trombone while he was walking around outside. Soon, he was on top of the piano and his brother landed on the piano seat and they were jamming together. Mo, as soon as he heard the blat blast of the trombone flew off the piano and into the street to get away from it. I should have given him a warning. We went back onto of the piano together until he got used to it.
A woman taxi driver drove by saying, "you should get that truck into the football stadium they are just about to begin the homecoming parade and are lined up ready to go." The kids mom followed us in her van as we raced to get there. At the front gate I asked a random guy if he could drive a stick shift and he said its been a while but he could. The floats were lined up on the running track and I heard the announcer say there was forty eight seconds left before halftime.
We drove right down on the track and got into line. We crashed the Homer, Alaska high school homecoming football game parade! It went really well even though the crowd was totally taken buy surprise. The announcer ad libbed amazingly well saying, "and now we have the Traveling Piano... Bring the Beat to the Street"... and then something nice about Mo and then I heard the crowd cheer and then... we were outta there. The young guy jammed on the trombone and his brother cheered while I played. Mom ran along with us taking pictures.
For some reason today the desire for "friend" was ahead of the "fun" and "respect" of this peregrinating mission. Onward to Bishop's Beach to meet a new friend Jay with four of his seven children for a hotdog roast on the beach. Jay called one of his daughters on his cell phone while we were there to tell her she should come and meet me. She told him that she had played on the Traveling Piano yesterday down on the spit! Along with several other people who passed by one woman took out here cell phone but instead of taking a picture she showed me a picture of me... a friend sent to her from Anchor Point the other day. It was one of the guys working on the road who got onto the piano himself. Now, I know Homer has less than 6000 people but still... what are the chances of these constant encounters happening and... I am never in one place for more than an hour or two. The Traveling Piano got stuck in the beach sand. When asking for assistance, Jays friend said, "you'll have to play your way out of this one."
September 23, 2011
In a few days I will be taking the ferry to Soldovia, Alaska and after that a three night ferry trip to Juneau. People are saying I am crazy. It will be the last ferry crossing of the season for the Gulf of Alaska. I just cannot handle the rough roads again through Alaska to get to Haines for a shorter ferry ride sooo... I will be handling the rough seas instead. Sea sickness is big time for me. I called my doctor for sea sick prescription medicine. The woman selling me the prescription said, "so your going to be smoking water, eh"? I said, "yep choppy and rough sea." She came outside from work for a Traveling Piano moment.
I went to the Homer spit that I wrote what that is a few days ago. A nice steady stream of people stopped by the entire time I was there. Mo needed to run. He is a great dog when he gets enough exercise and he is totally uncontrollable when he does not. He ran all over the beach and far enough away that I could not catch him when he found the biggest, smelliest and most dead fish on the beach. He rolled in it deep. It was a great big ugh! ...like getting squirted by a skunk ugh. When I questioned him about it, he tilted his head as though to say, "what is your problem?" On the way back to where I am staying I stopped at the supermarket to purchase some tomato juice to neutralize the smell with the bath he got.
I purchased a new camera today. This is a very scary yet exciting thing to have done. It is a professional quality camera with two separate lenses. Wish me luck on learning about it all. I have always used a point and shoot on automatic because I am a slow learner and cannot read directions without major confusion. Unfortunately a point and shoot will not give me photos I can publish for a book. Its time for professional equipment especially before my funds run out. I may be able to use this camera to enter back into the money making world if needed.
September 22, 2011
Everytime I think I have experienced the worst possible road I am wrong. There is always better and worse. Today's potholes broke all past records. I drove down a road where some of the holes were over a foot deep and there was no getting around them but I made it through... to and from. The road I drove on was above Homer and I had no idea where it was going to take me. I was looking for the end. I found it. Along the way, the line of view was of the fall trees and then behind that was sea water, then mountains and then glaciers... I just never tire of it. Look at the picture I posted. I could not get the bright fall trees or the water in front but did get the mountains and a sea of glowing blue glacial ice moving down into them. On each side of the ice... mountains of snow. From above, a storm surrounded the glacier. Going down to the end of the road I wondered if I was going to be able to get back up. I was glad the road was not wet. It would have been slippery mud.
When I'm already in a situation where thought of road trouble comes into play there is no choice but to follow through and start thinking about options. When I got to a spot that I knew only a four wheel drive could handle I stopped and began create music while looking at two glaciers across the bay. I heard rustling in the trees and though it was a bear. It was a guy picking berries. I shouted, "what kind of berries are you picking." He said, "whats it to you." Just curious, I replied. He said he was picking rosehips. An older gent rode by on a four wheeler. He settled here in the forties. After getting on the piano to hit a few notes he drove off to take care of a bear that had been causing trouble on his property. This area of Alaska not too far from Homer reminded me of the feeling I had in Newfoundland. A very different... not secluded, rural, domesticated or dominated by people kind of place but a feel that of peace and quiet... undisturbed nature.
The bear guy told me I was in the small Russian village of Voznesenka and pointed to a road that would help get me up the hill with less trouble. On that road I came upon a small school and church. There were kids playing and we connected. I found out the religion of the village is considered old school Russian from the days of Rasputin. I was curious because of the clothes they wore. One girl walking down the road had fur around her head like she was in Siberia. We stopped and chatted for a minute. Fun! The kids, we were all getting started with big time Traveling Piano fun and it began to rain. I played in the rain even though the equipment was getting wet because I was just not going to let the fun get destroyed. Eventually I had to stop. It was way too short of a time. At night while my hosts were out celebrating their wedding anniversary I played away on their seven foot steinway grand piano for over an hour none stop without much thought. As I write this I think about how important salmon is to the culture here in Alaska in everyway. I'd eat it everyday if I could.
September 21, 2011
Anchor Point, Alaska
Today we found Anchor Point, Alaska. It is North America's most westerly highway point! Last month we ended up the farthest north one can drive on paved highways in Dawson City, Yukon Canada. Ha, and a few years ago we found the most eastern tip you can drive to in the northern hemisphere at Cape Spear, Newfoundland. Its not like I am looking to have these things happen. It sure is fun when they do. So there we are Mo and I sitting on the waters edge. Rain is spritzing, I can't tell what is going on from the sky because everything is there all at once. The sun is out, also clear blue, dark rain clouds, rain falling all around not far away... This guy found us and took pictures. Fun... and then about six workers who were running heavy machinery on the other side of the bushes made there way over. The one guy says, "I was wondering where that awesome music was coming from." I was surprised that they could here it over the sounds of the machinery.
I drove all around Homer and especially enjoyed the spit. A spit or sandpit connects to land and extends out into the sea. It is a type of bar or beach and this one was over four miles long. I'll be going back that spit! I want to create music on it for sure! Wish I had a better camera because the views are amazing but distant. Later in the day I had some fun with a very interesting woman named Cecilia. She's originally from New York and is a published writer. Ed and Janice had her over. We all had dinner together. Yesterday my drivers side window seemed to have broke. As I turned the handle it just turned the window would not go up or down. I had to jiggle and pull up the glass with my hands. Luckily I got it up because it was pouring rain. Today... it was like nothing ever happened and worked fine. Also, my truck bed latch seemed to have busted. I had to use bung chords to hold it up. Ed took a look at it. The workings are filled with dirt. I need to now massage the latch part everytime I want to close it. That is a hell of a lot better than having to find what broke, replacing it and taking the whole thing apart to do that.
September 20, 2011
Piano Dog Mo... we have been partners now for one year! It is amazing to think about what has happened in one year. He now acts more like a playful adolescent than a playful child. This morning I woke at eight thirty, put on my clothes and coat, got myself out of the yurt and onto the truck to begin playing music. Ha, I think I set the record for the earliest Traveling Piano start. Dan had to leave to go work on a project and I wanted him to hear me play before I left and to also get a picture. Heidi came out to find music in the yard and Dan followed with his cup of coffee. It had just stopped raining. My sleep was short and ever so deep in the yurt where I stayed. Before leaving Heidi and I went into Kenai to the parking lot of a small business complex where I met some people she works with her sister in law and a few random passersby and then began to drive to Homer. Rain also began again and continues as I write this.
My new hosts Janice and Ed live high above the main town center of Homer. As I drove into Homer it gave me a feeling of a place very different from what I have ever experienced. I hope to see the mountains out in the sea on a clear day before I leave but in the meantime... Janice has a Baldwin upright piano and a seven foot grand Steinway in her living room! Can we talk joy? She has been a nurse, is a writer, a musician and I am sure I will learn a lot more about her once we get to know each other. Ed is a dentist and pan cooks great halibut. They both read a lot and are very cultural and art savvy. The place feels great.
It feels great to meet, stay with and learn about Alaskans. Homer calls itself the Halibut fishing capitol of the world. Ed made dinner for us and guess what he made? It was delicious. I am a fortunate man! An interesting trait I have found consistent with every Alaskan man and woman so far... their politics... not one has been all liberal or conservative. They have been extremely both depending on the issue. I am used to people following a conservative, liberal or have middle line opinions in general. Not with my present friends but for example, a woman will be completely pro owning guns of any type and also a vegetarian, religious person. Ha, I don't know what I'm talking about except for when I say I am grateful for all the people who have been sharing their lives, homes and food with me!
September 19, 2011
Today we took off for Kenai, Alaska. It was raining, cold and windy. I stopped and Beluga point outside Anchorage to see if there were any whales around and sat for hours hoping the rain would stop so I could see the scenery on the way down. No wales and the rain did not stop.It was cold enough while driving that I considered my winter gloves and had the heat on. The wind was so strong I had to keep a strong arm on the steering wheel. My thinking, "I am getting my fill of fall with the amazing vivid colors." I never saw so many shades of green and yellow especially with the rain. It was like a picture who's color is over saturated. I loved the amazingness. I could see it raining with the fall colors and look up a little way to see a wintery snow at the same time covering the mountain tops. Streams of fresh water rushed down the mountain sides and water gushed out of rock on the sides of the road. The mountains were endless, luscious, spacious, rounded and layered with cone shaped tops. The Kenai river was the most beautiful river I have seen to date. I have seen glacial lakes but never a roaring river of pure rich blue and turquoise color. Areas reminded me of what a fjord would look like. Maybe they were fjords? The rain created just a different kind of beauty today than the sun would have created.
I reached Heidi and Dans house where I am staying before they got home from work so I headed to Cooks inlet named after captain Cook and met Noah a guy working at a small educational fishing site run by the Kenaitze indians. The truck bed inside was soaked from the rain, how it happened I do not know. (big pain in the ass) The area here is flat and for the first time a place that reminds me somewhat of the New Jersey shore areas back east. I wished until the drive ended... but could not capture my visual experience, the essence of massive mountains dropping straight down into water. As I was afraid would happen, one night only with my new friends... way to little time. We stayed up talking into the morning and probably if we had a few more hours (and energy) would have sunk into some heavy debate. As it was, I did most of the talking. They were perfect subjects for my ramblings being professional mediators... listeners for family, community, business and organizational level disputes and plannings. When I first drove into their driveway I thought, "crazy meets crazy." Ha, Along with their mediation business and other things, this is a family of fishermen. There is a super large fishing vessel sitting next to their house with fish netting around the property to try and keep moose out of the garden and... they have I yurt for me to sleep in. At first I thought, ugh but... wow! My first yurt experience. A yurt is a tent-like circular structure with wood lattice frames traditionally used by Turkic and Mongolic nomads in Asia. With the rain this will be one of the most sound sleeps I have had to date. Lamp light, electric, heat, down comforter, nature, quiet, my dog in a Yurt!... ahhhhh.
September 18, 2011
Eagle River, Alaska
The Traveling Piano truck ended up back in the repair shop today. When the fuel pump was replaced yesterday they said dirt or moisture from condensation got into the system. It kept stalling. There is also still a loud whistle sound which is a exaust gasket problem that I will deal with until I get into the lower forty eight. A booked several ferry slots today in oder to get back into the lower forty eight at a hefty price. It is what it is. The Alaskan Ferry Booking website has been completely inconsistent everytime I have looked for information and the same goes for about six other people who have tried to help so I will need to call tomorrow and see if I have in fact booked reservations.
Before the day ended I went to visit Coley who was the first person in Alaska to offer a place to stay once I arrived. I hadn't taken a picture of him and that is the only way I can remember people. I meet and stay with so many people and remember more visually than anything else. A new friend Cynthia and her husband Jim who is a piano player emailed me offering a few nights to stay at their house but I am heading down the peninsula tomorrow. It is her birthday today so I stopped at where she was having dinner with her family to celebrate with the Traveling Piano for a few minutes..
September 17, 2011
The day began with Leslie cooking sourdough pancakes from a starter over 100 year old. A starter is simply a self perpetuating yeast mixture that when mixed with flour and stuff creates dough over night... a special tradition here in Alaska that began in the old gold rush days at the turn of the century for survival. Today was the third time I was treated to this treat! Mo and I drove the Traveling Piano to an area today where a lot of homeless people were hanging out. For various and complex reasons there are more homeless people I've seen in Alaska than anywhere else. A fairly huge woman was sitting next to the truck in her wheelchair watching me and I asked her if she wanted to play some piano. She literally jumped out of her chair and used the sides of the truck to climb around it to get in the back. Someone from behind warned me that she was mentally ill. I said that I did not care. The woman began playing and really knew her stuff. Most everyone around was stunned. (they all pretty much all know each other, hundreds of people) I had to tell her to give someone else a turn and then someone told me that she probably soaked my seat pillow because she pissed herself. I thought, "damm I just purchased a new seat cover yesterday" but... the woman was not stupid, she knew she pissed herself and in fact was respectful. She had taken the pillow off the wooden piano stool before she sat down. "Whew" People are amazing.
The Traveling Piano truck has been giving off a major fuel oder that I have been trying to ignore but it has been getting so bad that everyone keeps telling me about it. I do not want to get stuck on the Alcon highway which is a long ride with no services anywhere. More so, people have been concerned about the fumes causing something to explode. The local Toyota dealer was able to look into the problem without waiting and the fuel pump had an actual hole in it. Yikes! Had it been a new car it would have caught fire or blown up. My twenty-five year old Traveling Piano truck has the fuel pump on one side of the engine and all the parts that could have caused trouble on the other side. Leslie and Jon had friends over for dinner and everyone had tickets for the K.D. Lang concert in town so... I got to enjoy dinner, meet some new people and ended up with a last minute concert seat about twenty rows back dead center. It was a most perfect seat. I figured that if I put out over three hundred for the truck today I could put some money out for myself too. I also went looking for a new camera with Jon today. The present one is wearing fast. Mo stayed back at the house with Leslie. He played outside with the neighbors huge Saint Bernard.
September 16, 2011
Leslie, my newest hostess with the mostest and I had a discussion this morning. She lives a yoga centered life and is a strong woman. Last night I was telling her and her husband Jon my story and they both said "your losing us" ... yep, and I said, "thank you!" Ha, what a relief. I was spouting endless details about my life and they wanted me to get to the point. Some people want me to go on forever or edge me on, some tolerate the foreverness, some sit through it without listening or just confused and it all gets so draining for me. Sometimes, most of the time, I just can't stop.This morning Leslie told me an observation she had. I tell the same story over and over to people like I'm holding onto it. We discussed this observation at length and the conclusion I came to was that I really want to let go of the story and just be present with people to allow whatever to happen. I can do that. This is what I want to practice doing from now on. Enough about that...
A guy named Jerry emailed me early in the week asking me to come to the Mirror Lake middle school where he is a gym teacher. I did a lot of fudging with it in my mind, then got sick and then it sort of just happened. FUN! I set up in front of the front doors to play while hundreds of kids came running out to surround the truck. About twenty of them played actual songs and many others just "played" as in play the piano by... hitting, banging, playing notes, etc.... All the students in this school, almost 700 take either music or art classes. Eighty five percent are involved with extra-curricular music or art activities. Fantastic and it showed in their enthusiasm for life. Mo was so excellent. He never dealt with so many kids at once. Teachers got onto the Traveling Piano to play and then parents picking up their children.
A woman named Denielle had also emailed me early in the week about her after school program. My guard started to come up to protect myself from being used in ways that do not flow with the journey like with structured programs and agendas. I got over myself and called her. She was thrilled and I was thrilled to find another teacher and school system that can handle synchronistic spontaneity for the sake of their students. This was a program in the Anchorage school system at Mountain View Elementary for about seventy kids from all walks of life who have schooling issues of some type. I loved everyone of them. Denielle was waiting for me on the street when I arrived. I was impressed and then first thing... presented me with a new pullover sweater in appreciation for coming. Double points! :) The children and I, we had a lot of jamming together. All I experience with children like this is appreciation from them... for being allowed to be themselves and play with an adult and his toy even if for a short period of time. It does not get better for me because I don't have to deal with the daily challenges that are ever present in this school! Ha, what can I say, it is what it is... love and fun. With both schools I felt honored to be a part of the enormous care I experienced from the teachers and the respect they have for their students. I mean that with all my heart!
September 15, 2011
I so much want to relay how my life works but it is so complicated... ha! I lost internet access last night and could not post the blog so before heading to Homer today I stopped at a McDonalds to use their internet. I was concerned because it would be a long drive, I wanted to take my time, my health is fragile, and as usual I was getting a late start. I sent out a last minute request for a place to stay at a halfway point in Kenai last night but forgot about that. In addition to internet work I had to put in a call to an iffy host about visiting on my way back. The plan was to visit the bottom of the peninsula and then return through Anchorage and then Wassila to stay with my new friend Coley and figure out what to do next. I went to check my email. Two new emails came through. The last minute request person accepted my request and then the iffy person sent an email saying I would be welcomed today through Monday. Wow, I thought it was all an iffy, not sure, maybe, needed a lot of notice, wouldn't be ready for a couple more days at least... and here they were planning on my visit with them to start today and they were giving me four days more in Anchorage.
This changed everything because now I will stay in Anchorage and have time to visit Coley in Wassila, visit an elementary school I wanted to visit, get stuff done here like buy a new pair of sneaks and visit some spots in the city I did not have time for and not need to backtrack from Homer. If I can catch a ferry from Homer south and not have to back track through most of Alaska it will save an enormous amount of time and I won't have to worry about snow. I took Mo to the dog park. He hadn't been out in a few days because I was sick. We started to connect with people there. One old threesome, a husband, wife and dog, they were so fun and interested. The dog was holding himself up like and old bent over man, the guy had sticks for both hands and the lady began to dance when I played. She used to be a dancer and it was really joyful to see her come to life with the music! At Leslie and Jon's... neighbors came buy and also friends on a honeymoon. They got on the truck for a smooch. Lastly, hows this for a coincidence... Leslie and Jon are friends with Heidi who I will be staying with on the way to Homer. Wish me good synchronisity concerning the ferry system schedule. I heard they run only one day a month down south.
September 14, 2011
Christine suggested I stay another day with her until I get an idea of where I'm going and this was a good idea. After half the day sleeping I thought I should try and venture out to get some cold/flu medicine. I stopped at the army and navy store look for a pair of sneakers. How that happened from what I planned to do I have no idea. Before I turned the truck engine off a guy came up from Cape Spear in Newfoundland. He's working here laying pipe. For anyone who knows the journey from years past, the Traveling Piano has been to Cape Spear on the other side of the hemisphere. Alaska is full of interesting guys doing very different kinds of work for periods of time. A steady flow of people began to appear. After awhile I went into the store and while inside saw a bunch of fireman in uniform surrounding the truck. I thought I was getting towed or something. They were fun loving guys who pulled the firetruck over in front of the Traveling Piano to check me out as they had seen me on television.
After that I drove to the top of a local department store parking lot to get some pictures from a rooftop and met a young couple who did me the honors. The day ended with a visit to the Anchorage main fire station, wow what an amazing place! The guys invited me for a burger. Not just a burger, this was my first stuffed burger with mushrooms and bacon and cheese and jalapeno peppers and, and... it was huge and delicious... with beans and fries. They gave me an extra meal to take with me in a doggie bag. We pulled the Traveling Piano inside the dock for a few songs, I was given a tour of the place. Silly me I did not know that firehouses still had poles to jump down. I really appreciated hanging out with the guys. I don't know how I will feel when I come down from todays high, letting the journey take over in spite of my not feeling well but whatever... it was worth it.
September 13, 2011
Mo and I spent most of the day in bed, ugh! It is always a guessing game, do I push forward and risk getting more sick or do I just lay low so it passes faster. This dog of mine, I did get him out for a little walk in the afternoon, he knows I'm not feeling well... what a companion he is. We are talking major comfort when it comes to our partnership. We are coming on a year that he has been in my life. We'll be heading out of Anchorage soon to where I have no idea.
September 12, 2011
It was a Moose of a day. I've got a cold/flu whatever and as a result now bad thoughts are trying to swirl around... paranoia, fear, hopelessness, feeling a bit lost, alone, time to give up, where do I go, where can I stay, etc... no worries, I'll be fine. It is not fun when I don't have anywhere secure to cuddle into when I'm sick especially now when I don't know where I am going to sleep in two days. I was told the local news station aired my segment two more times this morning. Nice! God, I want to nest for a little while but where and with whom or by myself... pay? I've been feeling that a lot lately. Staying with people can be work, it is part of the journey. I enjoy my work. I'm conflicted over many things. Wintering here in Alaska to work and fulfill the iceberg dream, getting a book, movie, television show and other things going, or just keep going until I drop... working the journey till I drop takes one hundred percent of my time. To do anything else I would need to change focus and have a supportive environment. Outside the bedroom window today I woke up to a huge moose on the lawn. Check out the pictures on this Facebook link... The Moose is Loose
September 11, 2011
KTUU News2, Alaska's NBC affiliate posted their Traveling Piano news segment on its website. Check it out here... Traveling Piano Man Reaches Anchorage It is very discouraging to see myself getting heavier on television, older and I'm feeling more out of shape. The journey will not last if I do not do something about it. For the first two years, health was a priority for this journey and I've lost that once again, a constant life struggle for me. Putting that aside, I appreciate having an official media report of my being here in Alaska. I must pinch myself (sort of) everyday to realize we made it.
A woman named Maryanne emailed me as a result of the television segment asking where I would be today. We ended up at her house. She has a dog not feeling very well and thought the music might help. I hope it did. While there I met the neighbors. They sort of drifted in and out for about two hours. Now I can officially say... I play baby nursing music. One neighborhood mom nursed her two year old from the back of the truck while I improvised. A bunch of neighbors went for a ride with us around the neighborhood on the back of the truck as I drove them.
Afterwards I took Mo to the local dog park. This place won the "best of" to date award for a dog hangout. There were at least a hundred people around and some brought as many as five dogs. There was a wide long road, trails, a huge lake and field. Not one dog fought. Everyone was super happy. It was a sunny day and around sixty degrees and also very clear that people are milking the last days before winter. I noticed while driving... men doing yard work and sunning themselves without their tops on to soak in whatever warm rays of sun are left. When I returned back to Chrsitine's place I was treated to a ride in her red 1965 Austin Healey, super fun!
September 10, 2011
I'm not sure how to begin writing today I don't know why. It feels a little crazy to be in a city even though it is not huge with skyscrapers etc... After driving down the road only a few minutes I came across a three exuberant young girls waving signs and jumping around working on the traffic to stop in and get their vehicles washed for a fundraiser in a shopping center parking lot. They were working to make direct eye contact with people driving by and in fact did... with me. There was no chance that I was not going to respond to that! I was so drawn in by their high flying pure spirit I decided to turn the truck around and go back for a carwash. It feels good to be out of the mud and dirt roads and probably, (hopefully) it will be for awhile. To feel clean all over is very important. This was an opportunity once again to empty the truck out and reorganize. There was a lot of dirt in the truck bed.
The local television station wanted to do a segment with me so I called them and suggested we connect with the fundraiser for the community. For the second time this week I had a bunch of kids on the truck musically banging away along with me. I very much enjoy empowering them to be so close and hands on with the Traveling Piano experience and it feels extra nice when I am with them in the mix. The television guy was really great and I knew he was going to get what I am about. He filmed while I played and everyone washed the truck. Can we talk fun?! There were a lot of transients hanging around and I was constantly encouraging them to participate. They were too shy and cautious to try but one guy who could really play and sing got onto the truck. The kids hung around him while he entertained them and that felt good for me to see anyone be around a homeless person without fear or uncomfortably in the mix. His music was the connector for relationship.
During my playing for the television camera the guy broke out in a spontaneous verbal jam and self conscious me stopped him. He walked away and I had wanted him to play when I finished. Later he came back saying he had to walk away after I improved because my music was making him cry. That was very fantastic for me, what a gift for my day... his hearing the truth of my spirit through music. Later at night I saw the television segment. I hope they put it online so I can post it here on the blog but anyway, it was really a fun segment my favorite part being that they included my saying I have a Wild Dream for the Traveling Piano truck to be on an iceberg or glacier for a few minutes of music and that I really want it to happen! Ha, I really do... maybe someone will help as a result of seeing Mo and I on television, who knows? This guy Charlie drove up to get his car washed. I asked him if he had been in the movie The Wizard of Oz because with his beard he looks exactly like the lion in the movie. I really enjoyed his company with his girlfriend. He enters beard contests for fun and because it makes people smile.
There was a little time left for the day so I headed to the mall to get some clothes. It is time for new clothes, for sure! In the covered mall parking lot a fun guy showed interest first thing. He, his family and I had some fun for a spell. As I was driving back to where I am staying I stopped in another shopping center to get Mo a new rug for the top of the piano. The old one keeps slipping off. The girls working in the store came out for a Traveling Piano experience. All day long wherever I stopped we had short synchronistic exchanges. It seemed word was getting around about me because people in cars began to send out smiles as it became dark. When I got back to Christine's place I found out a teaser trailer for the night news had been on the early evening news. With that kind of quick response I'm feeling there will be a lot of opportunity for fun throughout the next few days... in this city and everywhere else because the news segment was broadcast throughout the state, yea!
September 08, 2011
On the way driving out of Knik to Anchorage we stopped in Wasilla to meet Raymie the son of Joe Redington who was the Father of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He and his wife jumped onto the Traveling Piano and also a friend of theirs. Driving onward... the mountains are indescribable, as I may have said before, I have always been an ocean boy but now also have a passion for mountain scenery and hiking. They never look real to me here in Alaska. Usually they have a slight cloudy gloss over them that make them look like painted pictures. There was a fender bender on the highway which resulted in miles and miles of rush hour traffic backed up. Ahh... back to the city. Luckily, it was all coming out of Anchorage in the opposite direction. Once I got into the city center, glass, concrete and steel were the words that came to mind... culture shock, back in an urban environment! I am staying with a new friend Christine. She chairs the Alaska Highland (Scottish) Games which I am told is a major event here in Alaska. We were in her driveway when Mo saw the neighbor dogs across the street and off he went. I used the excuse to draw Roger, Christine's neighbor over to the truck, a true go for it kind of guy... he wasted no time in having a go at the piano and then his wife joined him.
September 08, 2011
I found a great spot with a magnificent view along the road in Knik, Alaska. It was recording music time. Knik is where Alaskas famous Iditrod (dog sled race) began. Mo and I had exchanges with several couples and families. One lady asked what I was up to and I said, "fun, friendship and respect." She said, "well we have the friendship and respect going." I asked about the fun and then decided not to pursue that line of questioning, ha. Coley showed up and we drove to an old airstrip overlooking the mountains and water with Anchorage in the distance far away. It was a beautiful spot on a cliff. Below were the carcasses of several cars and trucks and one moose head. Coley thought Mo might have been interested in the moose head and at one point I thought he had fallen off the cliff. He had been climbing around on it like a billy goat.
Back in the tent where I am staying I worked on pictures and dealt with an internet scam listing to sell a picture of the Traveling Piano with Mo and the website name front and center along with my license plate... as a greeting card and poster! Can we talk about confusing my non-commercial agenda? When I addressed the issue the guy sent a penny to my paypal account. You know what is going on there right? Enough said on that. I learned something new about walking with Mo in the woods. Bears have always been an issue but I never heard about moose being a problem. Moose do attack people and animals. If it should happen I need to run behind a tree because they can't turn fast... and those things can run fast! Ha, some Moose trivia that might save a life, even mine and Mo's.
September 07, 2011
Fish Creek, Alaska
We took off today to hook up with Coley a military guy I met on the road when first entering Alaska. He offered his place to share if I got into his neighborhood. He was incredibly patient and considerate with me going back and forth concerning the day I would arrive. On the way I stopped at Witchwood and met two witches. I asked the head witch if she was a good witch or a bad witch and she said, "yes." We had some fun. There was a little apprehension on arrival at Coley's place having no idea what to expect. He's a single guy in his forties... army, did a year tour in Iraq and two years in Afghanistan and he just finished working the Alaskan state fair for two weeks. Coley is the first military guy I have met to interact with as a friend. I felt comfortable immediately with both him and his friend Aarin who is in the airforce, visiting. Aarin jumped onto the piano for a pic.
Coley gave me the run of his house which is well kept and his couch to use or... a tent set up down the way from his house in the trees a few feet from a babbling, luscious creek where I could hear running, splashing, gulping, jumping water all night long. I have seen these tents from a distance several times so far. They have given me the heebie jeebies as in, "what if the journey goes to the level of living in a tent?" Here I am staying in a tent! But... it is super amazing shelter with a plywood floor, carpeting, a huge air mattress with fleece bedding and blankets... a desk, table, chair, LCD lights, screened windows, bag for waste, paper towels, salt, pepper and an amazing thermal electric fan that works off an oil stove. I could have slept naked all night long without covers, ha! The tent has an unbelievable internet connection!!!
Before it got dark we went to the Knik Alaska bar restaurant, community gathering place... It felt like the old television show Cheers and we drove there in Coley's cruiser. I had to get Coley to drive me back to get the Traveling Piano for these people. Having it there with everyone was major fun! An exception was made for Mo and he was allowed inside with everyone else after we were all done outside. I was treated to a major bacon, cheese, mushroom burger with taters. The idea of camping for a life style scares the shit out of me even though it is totally comfortable, private and fun. I want to drop these stereotype ideas of how I should be living, how I need to live, what is acceptable or not acceptable for my security, shelter and sleeping comfort. Bottom line, if I can feel rested after a nights sleep, it does not matter where, how, or what conditions that happens in.... while keeping the reality as Coley said, "tent living can be great for a few weeks."
September 06, 2011
Trapper Creek, Alaska
After waking up this morning I used the outhouse. People are happy with the discovery of using styrofoam around their outhouse holes. Styrofoam does not get cold in the winter. Kathy made a moose, cabbage, potato stew for dinner. She retrieved some of the fixings from her root cellar. I had never heard of a root cellar before Alaska. The are areas created under ground outside to preserve root type foods like cabbage, potatoes and carrots as well as jared foods.
I had my first taste of a watermelon berry today. There are lots of berries in Alaska for the picking' right now, everywhere! Huckleberries, currants, blueberries, high and low bush cranberries. raspberries, salmon berries and more. It is just a berry lovers dreamland! The Traveling Piano day started out with my creating music for a bunch of sandhill cranes. They were not interested. On a drive out to the main road I stopped where a bunch of cable workers were having lunch. They were not interested. Do you know the kind of people who impulsively say no to everything and have no idea what they are saying no to? Onward... I was driving down a paved road and hit gravel, dirt and rocks without notice. Ouch! There were two, grey bearded, very backwoods hunters packing up their gear where I turned around. They thought Mo was cute and gave me a very uneasy, queasy sort of dueling banjos type of feeling.
I caught the tail end of a porcupine walking down the road. An elementary school full of kids climbing all over the Traveling Piano before they got onto their buses to head for home. Their school teachers followed with a bit more of civility. I visited a german lady who makes great pizza and she gave me some bagels for the ride out. A family of six found us and we had some fun. A lady working at a store called Mikes-Mart had her two little dogs walking on the piano keys. I went to visit a guy named Red who grows potatoes and chickens. On the way I got lost ending up outside an old cabin where I met a guy named Joe who is a champion musher having won the Alaskan Iditarod in 1980. His wife from England jumped onto the piano to play a few notes.
Back at the homestead where I have been staying Kathy and Rick wooed each other with a few musical notes before it got dark. Earlier, Kathy had taken me for a tour of the newly built Trapper Creek ambulance station/library. There is a lot of fire weed brush in the area and it is beautiful to see but makes everyone nervous because it is a big sign that winter is just about here. Anything outside that needs to get done, there's not much time left to do it. Cross country skiing and snow machining are on the horizon.
September 05, 2011
Trapper Creek, Alaska
Today was cloudy again. Half the day was spent on the computer doing pics, the other half was spent listening to hundreds of sandhill cranes feeding in the fields while dancing around. Overhead, I watched them practice flight for their migration. I did that while stripping fresh, ripe currants from their stems faster than I could stuff them in my mouth. Towards night Rick was going to treat me to pizza but I ended up paying because it was the right thing to do, ha. While waiting for the pizza I had a strong Traveling Piano impulse and almost ran outside to set the truck up and create music. I met a bunch of local people while mentally kicking myself in the ass for not bringing my camera. Luckily I had my cheapy spare in the glove compartment. How many times will it happen that I have absolutely no plan to uncover the truck for a whole day... only to end up uncovering the truck. It felt great to meet everyone. Originally I was planning to leave tomorrow but two days is just to short anywhere. People have been very patient and flexible with my constant change of plans. I very much appreciate how they honor, accept and embrace the journeys movement which I do not control.
September 04, 2011
Trapper Creek, Alaska
The word massive came to mind as I drove from Denali to Trapper Creek today. It rained for most of the day. Through the clouds every once in a while I could see mountains high in the sky. My new hosts are Kathy and Rick. Mo and I are back to outhouse, rural Alaskan living. From where I parked the Traveling Piano I walked through what looked almost like a tropical forrest of ferns.
My friends belong to SERVAS which is an organization who welcomes travelers into their homes for some peace, understanding and cultural exchange. Rick who is now sixty nine once belonged to the peace corps, is a biologist, taught and was also a commercial fisherman. Kathy who lives her faith strongly is a Lutheran who belongs to a church with a membership of three families. There are not many people living around here. She is also a math and chemistry teacher. They have two grown children one living in Brooklyn the other in Portland.
I was treated to an Alaskan dinner of Moose roast. There are a lot of people out in the woods right now, here in Alaska moose hunting. I went with Kathy to the yard to get potatoes (Kathy and Rick are growing eighteen varieties) we got some lettuce and we had onions, broccoli and carrots from the yard for dinner. I picked my first carrot from the ground! On the way back into the house I stripped a couple strands of fresh currants from a nearby bush to stuff into my mouth. For the first time I had an Alaskan specialty item, pickled devil's club tips... wild food.
After dinner Rick went to bed as he has a big day tomorrow. He is the business manager for the Dale Saunders Sandhill Crane sanctuary across the road from his property. I have been learning a lot about sandhill cranes such as they are living fossils and their sounds can be heard two miles away. This is the second time I have come across a sandhill crane sanctuary in Alaska. Kathy had to run out after ten at night to answer a call for a road accident. She is an EMT (emergency medical technician) and has been one for over twenty five years. I was amazed with her doing that job at her age and she said she knows of a woman seventy two years old on the job.
September 03, 2011
Denali National Park, Alaska
Today is the last day for this place I paid for. I'm giving the day totally to me. Stayed up till three am listening to mindless television while I worked on photos, slept until 11 am without worrying about a host thinking I am sleeping too late. I'm going to just hang out and do whatever I want. Its funny thats what I always do, right? Not... I have incorporated a sense of commitment, service, continuity and purpose into this journey and there is no getting around the fact... that equals a certain amount of obligation and expectation for myself. Even though, I often think I need to take some time to gather my thoughts. Today is a day for that.
I took Mo for a hike in the woods. No dogs allowed but I didn't care. I was thinking that the idea of government and people owning parts of the earth is ridiculous. The government restricts access to most of Denali. You can only drive into it for a few miles, there are not many trails. If you want to really get into the park you can pay to ride on a bus with the rest of the cattle. Restrictions and control for the sake of my protection and the parks protection. That is really bullshit. The rules are for the sake of the people who got the control to make their own rules. It the earth needs saving or protection I realized how to do it. It does not come from government, laws and regulations. The earth lives on because of the people who enjoy it. This is idealistic. I have no problem with that. On the ALASKA! link I just posted 188 more pictures, some of them are amazing!
September 02, 2011
Denali National Park, Alaska
It was the strangest thing this morning when I woke up. Mo was stretched out by my side, there were no human sounds. No people foot stomping, luggage banging, car doors and engines... just the sound of the river and breeze. Mo and I and no one else. I sat on the small balcony overlooking the mountains with a morning chill and my slippers, hat, soft pants and sweater while drinking a hot cup of coffee feeling appreciation and the ability to deserve the silence. (from other humans) Ha, I can't help myself its true, sometimes I just want to be left alone. This morning, I got what I wanted. I really love sitting with the top of bushy thin evergreen trees. The new growth is lush and free. And then... towards night new people took over the room upstairs. It has been three hours as of this writing. Back and forth, back and forth... stomp, stomp, stomp... what the hell could they be doing?
The day began sunny and then it got cloudy, rainy even. I was going to take an eight hour bus ride in the park tomorrow. No oomph, and what if I want to stop and take a picture Went to check out a plane ride as I'd really like to see Denali mountain close. $350 for an hour and six minutes, no landing just flying around with twenty other people... not. I was thinking, "Is the getting onto the plane part of the six minutes?" There was angst about moving on with the journey after taking a two mile hike. Normally after a leg of the journey like I have been experiencing here in Alaska, I head back to somewhere. Not this time, I'm too far away from any home base and its times like this I wish I still had a home to return to. Found a coffee shop with internet, five bucks for a cup of soup almost five bucks for a gallon of gas. I have been getting pictures together. Music seems to have taken a back step even though it still happens everyday.
September 01, 2011
Denali National Park, Alaska
I saw awesome, spectacular beauty today beyond... well, I'm afraid to post the pictures once again... I used to say pictures cannot show... but the pictures I took today do show. The colors were astronomical in scope. The depth... I just kept thinking, I am so graced with blessings to see what I have been seeing. This earth is so spectacular. Deep reds and greens...the lighting constantly changing on a moments notice... the way the sun shines and clouds cover, I've been catching moments that I have never seen in photography pictures... people were driving twenty miles an hour as everyone was in a daze. I met women park rangers who were gaga over Mo. Random people with the Traveling Piano... at night I played some at the cabins where I am staying. I don't know... the pictures, I think I am now an artist with photos as I am with music. The pictures are showing what I see, the colors. I cannot wait to post and share them. Internet at the place where I am staying is five bucks a half hour. Screw that, ha! I'll wait.