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Thursday, January 27, 2011


coming down the mountain

the peak, whitehead

fender mountain, whitehead

This morning was one of those days beautiful to behold. A wet snow of maybe an inch in the night stuck to every little twig and branch. The trees were white and black everywhere you looked. The sun came out and made it all the more beautiful. White trees against blue sky. It wasn't long after the sun came out the snow started melting and falling off the twigs, sliding off the roof. The car's hood had about 3 inches of yesterday's two inches and last night's one inch on top of it, plus rain that packed the snow almost solid on the car and froze. First I had to sweep the snow off the ice on the glass, then scrape the ice. It was on there to stay. I left a good bit of the ice on the glass for the sun to melt when it heated the inside of the car. By the time I wanted to go to town around 2, the glass was clear. I took the speed up to 60 on Thompson Flat attempting to dislodge the ice from the hood, but it held firm. I love it when all the snow on the hood rises and crashes to smithereens on the windshield. It's gone as fast as it happens and the wipers clean the glass.
I heard that Dean Fender died yesterday. Hwy 88 in Ashe County, maybe headed toward Jefferson, possibly ice on the road in shaded curves the road graders didn't get, a tractor-trailer hit him head on. Killed him instantly. Heard it took 5 hours to cut the body out of the wreckage. Bad to think about, but a good, quick way to go. No lingering for years with cancer or strapped down in a nursing home begging God to take you. I didn't know Dean but to raise the forefinger from the steering wheel in passing. He was friend to several of my friends. He's had some hard times along his way. He and Jr thought a lot of each other. Everybody I knew of that knew Dean thought a lot of him. He may not have won many piety awards, but when you needed somebody you could count on, Dean would be the one to go to. I mean really count on, like to the detail. He drove an old Chevy pickup for years and years that didn't look so hot, but he kept it running good all the time. He was one of the Whitehead men like Jr was and Welter Hamm still is, who did everything he turned his hand to well, had a good mind and treated everybody right.
Drove to town to take a box to UPS counter at drug store, a good excuse to get into town to go to Selma's for a mocha. Already had morning coffee. I figured a good espresso in milk, chocolate milk with coffee flavor, wouldn't be so rough on the stomach as straight coffee. Selma makes a good mocha. I used to laugh at paying attention to varieties of coffees and things like mochas and lattes. Being in there becomes an education seeing other people order things I'd never heard of and see what they are. Talked with Joe at length. We talked of Tolstoy, his life, his writing. There I sat in Sparta talking with somebody about books, about reading. It was as foreign an experience as the time a woman said to me at Deborah Sherrill's apple cider party last summer, "What are you reading?" It comes by remarkable surprise. For so many years I longed to have somebody to talk about reading experiences with. Had a friend who read, but he played one-upmanship all the time and wasn't any fun to talk with. I reached a place where I didn't care anymore and now it happens. A saying comes to mind, you get what you want after you stop wanting it.
It was fun talking with Joe about good writing. He was an English major at I think he said, Marshall College, Huntington, West Virginia. Fundamentalist childhood. It turns out when we fall into conversation, it's interesting. Being of the mountains, he's not one to run his mouth, or like they say of a dog, bark to hear his head roar. Easy to talk with because he's not talking to fill the void of silence. Like somebody of these mountains, he's comfortable with the silence. One of the regulars at Selma's I'm getting to know as new people in my life. This the beginning of a new 7-year cycle that started last year. Gradually seeing the cycle's nature. I believe this one has to do with some of these people at Selma's and the Front Porch Gallery people on Friday nights. Last cycle was involved in distributing mountain music via store and radio show. This cycle appears to have to do with making videos of the music, writing about the music, painting musicians and writing this blog every day. Not certain I'll make it through the cycle, but that doesn't matter. Maybe this is the last 7 year cycle. It will be fun to observe it as such.
Seeing in the later years that my life has come to find its meaning in the distribution of mountain music, getting it into people's music collections, people who wanted it and couldn't find it, playing it on the radio to the people who wanted to hear it, now videos on YouTube. It feels good to see I've dedicated myself to something worth pursuing. I've never made a penny at it. Have done all of it at my own expense. The store was nothing but a major expense, but I regarded it buying the opportunity to make this music available to the people that want it. I bought my own cds. I didn't care about the money. The radio station didn't pay anything. I didn't want anything. I'm of the belief that an awful lot of people around us are tremendously talented in a lot of ways. My psychological makeup believes money takes something real and makes it into something unreal. Don't know where that came from, but it's been with me all along. Never could find a way to be comfortable dealing with money. Possibly all the years of preaching that penetrated my skull, whether I listened or not, had something to do with it. Not complaining. I don't like to think about money, have seen it do too many really weird things to people who value it.

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