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Friday, December 12, 2014

PAT AND JOHN AND THE OLD-TIME FIDDLE

vincent van gogh

It's been a couple days of good vibrations all day long, good feeling, good vibes, good friends. This morning started with a phone call minutes after I woke up. From then on, seeing people of the first circle around my heart, friends of many years. Friend I wrote of yesterday, our forgiveness story, called wanting to know where he can find a banjo for his youngun, who wants to learn to make music. He has talked with the kid at length about school sports like football: kids come out of football with permanent physical problems, and when you're out of school, football is over. He told the kid if you want to learn something after school, learn to make music. You can play a banjo the rest of your life into old age. Why do something that comes to nothing when it will only bring you broken bones and concussions? I felt like it was sound counsel to be passing to a kid just starting out in his life. I feel like making music would be an immense help to the kid all the way through school and the rest of his life. If he takes to it, the great unknown. He talked at length. The donkeys heard my footsteps in the house and were braying for me to bring carrot and hay. Caterpillar wanted her catfood. She maoed repeatedly unto the pleading mao with the upturn at the end. All I could do was show her my open hand to mean, not now. She finally gave up in frustration, turned and went to the bedroom to her bed. He kept on talking, donkeys at the fence pleading to me with their eyes through the window. I went to the refrigerator, put three carrots in a pocket and went out the door with the phone. I didn't have to talk. I carried the wireless phone taking carrots to the donkeys, fed them carrot chunks with the phone in one hand. At the moment I thought he was done, he needed to tell me about a bar-B-Q place to take somebody I really want to impress. You can get out of there for less than ten dollars. He described every detail in the place, exactly how to get there. It seems like it could have been annoying, but it was not. This is one of the few people whose dark side I know as well as the light side. His dark side is definitely from hell, hell within, and his light side is a wonderful human being with a true heart. A mountain boy, who is who he is and no apologies. 

vincent van gogh

He talked the whole time I gave Jack and Jenny their morning carrots, and let me go when I was about ready to throw them hay, needing two hands. I was amused. He's funny when he gets going, tells good stories, explains endlessly and makes everything funny, except when he's talking about the twenty people that want to kill him, "and four of them mean it." Keeps him alert. I figure it keeps his heart pumping. It's his life he made for himself the way he wants it. It's his business, not mine, unless I happen to be around when the drive-by he's expecting with A-Ks occurs. He was funny to listen to, as always, like a stand-up comic with a telephone and an audience of one. Adjusting the blue tarp over the bales of hay, John and Pat's car came down the road and parked by the mailbox. I was still in the clothes I slept in--even slept in a sweater last night, it that kind of cold--with a jacket on to keep out the cold. They came inside and we talked awhile. I suggested I make some Ethiopian coffee and they wanted to go to town to eat, it being almost noon. I thought what the hell: I probably smell fairly rank in the clothes I wear at home. I've managed my wardrobe such that I sleep in the clothes I wear during the day at home. If I don't go to town for four days, I wear and sleep in the same clothes for four days. I think I'd slept two nights in what I wore today. I told myself that everywhere we go, I'll know people and they all know my scent anyway. If they didn't before, this their day. Therein lies the freedom that goes with white hair and a certain age. If I carried a cane, people would open doors for me. That sorry old man can't take care of hisself no more. It's with this license I put a hat on going out the door, no more concerns about my scent preceding me. Pat and John and I are close enough that we fart with no problem. We drove to town to the Tex-Mex restaurant, Mis Arados, had a good brunch and good conversation. They live near Hillsdale, NY, on the Massachusetts line. Pat said she can see Massachusetts from her kitchen window. I likened her to Sarah Palin, who makes us both bend over laughing and throwing up at the same time.  

vincent van gogh

Pat and I go back to 1975 in Charleston. In the next year, I moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains and she moved to NYC. She and John met in the City and have been together ever since. They reproduced twice, two intelligent, beautiful grown girls, who have a personal friend relationship with their mother and will all their lives. She is who she is and she has allowed her girls who they are. All their lives they've had a free-thinking character for a mother. John is the same kind of dad for them. He has watched Wizard of Oz at least a hundred times with one of his babies sitting on one leg, the other on the other leg, watching it with them every time they wanted to see it. The girls grew up feeling safe that John was their papa. Both Pat and John stood up for them, caught them, encouraged them along. They're both fabulous women now. I mean by fabulous, my own estimation of them as what I call true human beings, women who, like their mother, are who they are, no apologies. They are people I'm humbled by the opportunity to know. I saw them grow up and was awed by them through childhood and on up. I feel blessed that these are my dear friends. That they are my friends is certainly a blessed experience. John was looking for a hand-made fiddle. I called a musician friend in SW Virginia and asked for some tips on who is making fiddles and has them for sale. He gave me the name of one in Boone, then added he had one for sale, one he's owned for several years and played a lot; in fact, played it that morning. I told him we'd be by there in a few hours, will have lunch and hit the road. John has a friend who plays fiddle and offered to teach him to play for no charge. John wants to learn something challenging to exercise brain in a time of life when you use-it-or-lose-it. He assessed the fiddle a considerable challenge. Friend told him to start with a good fiddle. Since he's going to the Blue Ridge, he'll have a good chance to find one hand-made. 

vincent van gogh

The fiddle is made by Robert Glier, of Cincinnati,1855-1924. He evidently was known for a lot of fiddle for the bucks. It has a rich, full sound. It has tiger striped wood on the back and the neck. The man made violins all his working life. He left Germany age 30. I'd say he learned his craft in Germany, more than likely an apprentice, trained in the old world way of fiddle making, sound its purpose. I'd reckon these mountains have a number of his fiddles, especially up around Kentucky, West Virginia, eastern Ohio, Virginia. A lot of traditional music has been played on Glier's fiddles. That my friend who sold it, Scott, owned it is a testament to its sound. He's been buying his instruments from friends in the region who make fiddles. I suspect he needed to get rid of the one that was not made locally to help pay for a new one by someone he knows. John was happy with his find. The price was right, the source was right, the time was right, the fiddle was right. He's looking forward to showing future fiddle teacher his find. We fell into a good flow the whole time they were here. None of us had an agenda, none of us was in a hurry, we relaxed and went with the flow. On the way back I suggested we stop by and see my friend Carole, who I wanted to meet them and them to meet her. I called her on John's cell phone. She was receptive to a drop-in. Carole fell into our flow, like stepping into the boat with us, and we had an open, free-flowing conversation in a circle in her sitting area, which just happened that way. Good vibes. They were as if they'd known each other twenty or more years. Before Carole's, we ran into a friend of Carole's and mine, Beth, when Pat was shopping for a wire for her i-pad to facilitate something I don't understand, which could be anything, how to turn it on.            

vincent van gogh by himself


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