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Monday, March 24, 2014

Another Day, Another Doctor PLUS MORE

It's not really about the doctor again today.
Just a little.

My turn (again) today.
Test results: All Clear!!

Brain results: Confusion.

The tests are fine, but there is no explanation for symptoms.
End of story.


But today, the story is about my dad.

As it hung for many years


Since I had time today, I finally was able to donate
this piece of art to a local VFW Post.

It's my daddy's ship.
World War II.

I will never know when or how my parents came into possession of it.
I don't remember it from my childhood at all.
But, I do know that it hung in my son's room for much of his childhood.
When he was done with his turn, it went back to me...then back to my mom...
then back to me again!

It is not a piece family members wanted any longer.
So, when we went to see the visiting Vietnam Memorial Wall
last fall, I spoke to someone about making a donation.

They were thrilled, as many at this local post are "Navy People".
So, good.
I felt comfortable with this choice.

My daddy didn't have any connection to this place or people.
But, if you knew my daddy...you would know how OK that is.
I think he would be OK hanging out in my neighborhood.

When I lived in Northern Nevada and now, here in this valley...
my dad (and mom too) always learned about where I was living and jumped on board with local eateries, stores and activities.
He came to my Valley for all of my children's events.
He took shortcuts as the "locals" would and announced it every time!

My dad was a tease, a provider, and women's clothing manufacturer.
He was a family man,
a lover of dogs, especially my Sonny and the best BBQ burger maker ever.

He had a big heart and sometimes a big temper.
We loved him and he adored us right back.

My Daddy, WWII (he is on the far left)
My dad was a man of the same few jokes...the same few stories...
and the same few life-long friends.

One of his stories was of his Navy buddies who sang
MacNamara's Band aboard the ship.
I knew this song as a very little girl.  My son sang this song as a two year old.  When I searched the song out today and discovered that there were verses I never knew about...it fit my dad's story perfectly.
Of course he didn't remember/sing all the verses.
He did it his way...for all those years.

Because he made up words, intentionally mispronounced words and completely butchered the English language (that my mother so lovingly taught to Jr. High students!)
"1...2...3...4...who do we appreciate!" ~ my dad.


I researched this artist and learned that service men could purchase these prints dockside when returning home.  There would be someone there selling them (I presume) and they would add the appropriate ship number to it.  So, my understanding is that they looked very similar, except for the number.  Also, they would add the service member's name on it.  I didn't even know my dad's name was on there until the owner of our local "Fast Frame" shop cleaned it up it for me!  He was kind enough to donate his services and totally refurbished it. The old mat had covered his name for all of these years!



Even that feels fitting for my daddy.



My funny dad, who lied about his age to get into the service early.
My dad who joined the Navy, but never did learn how to swim.
My dad, who played cards with his buddies aboard ship.
My dad, who was trapped below deck during a battle, resulting in him coming home a far different man than the one who had signed up.
My dad, who thought the Navy would give in and fix him food he liked better,
just like his grandma did!
They didn't, he ate.


Now, this artwork that speaks of my daddy, is all cleaned up and will be
displayed in some way at a local
VFW post in a dusty canyon, in the valley I've lived in since 1984.



I do hope I did well by him.
Honored him well.


He deserves that.


Love you Daddy.

Photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2014



More information if you are so inclined  (or so I can find 'em again!!)

The ship 

Wikipedia 

Discussion board on artist 

Friday, March 21, 2014

In Another's Hands

Today it was his turn at the doctor's office.
Not mine.
But, as I was able, I went along.
I ask questions and take notes.

I'm better at that than he is.

After a brief visit with assistants for vitals, blood work and updating,
and after a cruise around the facility while waiting for the doc...

We finally sit in the hall outside of his office for 40 minutes to wait.

I try to read, but mostly stare at the paper name on the closed door and doze in my chair.

It's been an emotional few days.  I'm tired.



 Then the doctor arrives.

And my wondering begins.

He is a tad disheveled.
An older gentleman with wild white hair.

This is the man who's hands hold the guy's health?

Oh my!


We enter his office and after a few minutes of confusion over chairs, 
we settle in, he on his found desk chair, the guy on a rickety desk chair and me on a medical rolling stool, pushed up against the sink in the corner.



The next 10 minutes are spent waiting as he checks the guy's records 
in the computer system.

Click clack go the computer keys under his sausage-like fingers.
It's quiet.

The office is long, narrow and cluttered.
The walls are covered with at least 13 diplomas, certificates and 
degrees of some kind or another, along with one framed photograph of a lone tree on the bluffs looking over an ocean.
I sense it is not a local ocean.

The very tall shelving units are crammed with books, magazines, and periodicals...
and a few scattered framed family photographs, a stone carving 
and one empty basket with a tall handle, Easter basket style.

The floor has stacks of more written materials.  Everywhere.
And some paper trash.

I keep looking.
I keep thinking that I hope this guy knows his stuff.

The guy feels confident.  He's met the doc before.

As the doctor is reading his computer screen,
he announces, "I am your doctor as well as a researcher.  
I will fix up everything, including your future".

OK then.

I listen to his accent and add that to the impression of his environment.

His desk is as disheveled as he is.
Covered in more written materials, 
a mug, two over-sized empty paper Coke cups 
and a large empty water bottle.

There's a basket which holds a wood mask in one corner.

In the other corner of the desk sits and open Chinese Take-Out food style gift box.
It's green glittered with red & white peppermint candies on it.

Has that been here since Christmas I wonder?

And then, as if this is all super normal...
I hear an instrumental version of "Oh Christmas Tree" 
float in the open door.

Is this some episode of The Twilight Zone???

At the far side of his desk stands a tall 4 drawer file cabinet.

I can only wonder, what is in there?

On top of it sits scattered artifacts:
A doll with beaded hair
Another, bigger doll...a woman figure with a beaded bodice.
Wood animals, a cup and  twisted candlestick holder.
There is a thumb piano.
There's some wooden stick with its end beaded...
beads cascading down and dangling mid-air.


 I want to get up, move behind him and pick up that beaded wood stick.
But, I don't.


Finally, he asks for the door to be shut
and shares his understandings with us.

Things are not perfect.
But, they are far from anything to worry about.

In fact they are darn good!

Next appointment January 2015.

On our way out, I ask to photograph the wood mask in the basket on the desk.



Sometimes, this is what going to the doctor looks like.

There is really nothing more to say.

Photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2014


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Christopher

This morning, at 9:30 am

Young Christopher passed on.

May he forever rest in peace.


His pain, now eased.
This warrior, held in love by so many.
His family cared for in the arms of  his armies.


The ripple he has left has already been felt by so many.


His impact in his short 12 years, has been huge.


His presence will continue to shine.


As the ripples expand,
we will all join hands and journey on 
together.

Rest well sweet Christopher,

Photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2010

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Soon


The light is changing.

Shifting.

Everlasting Light.


Photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2014



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Christopher is Home


Young Christopher came home on Sunday.
Neighbors, friends, family worked to make this a grand WELCOME HOME for him.
 They succeeded!

A whole team came together to work on his beloved trains.

Take a few minutes to watch the transformation of his backyard train environment.
It's amazing.

 If you are so inclined, here is a link for fundraising efforts on behalf of the family;


                                                        

Please keep this beautiful family in your thoughts, hearts and prayers.

Thank you.

With Love,
Nancy

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Celebrating Pete Seeger

WARNING: I'M PUTTING IN WAY TOO MANY PHOTOS...SOME OF WHICH ARE NOT EVEN THE BEST (due to lighting and such)...BUT SO MANY, SO YOU CAN BE HERE WITH ME AND SEE WHAT YOU SEE AND FEEL WHAT YOU FEEL.
SORRY IF IT TAKES A WHILE TO LOAD.

Today I was at the Will Geer's Theatricum and Botanicum with my sister 
to celebrate the songs and spirit of Mr Pete Seeger.


This is an amazing venue tucked away in beautiful Topanga Canyon.
In the shade of the oaks stands a stage.
The last time I was there was to celebrate Woody Guthrie.  
This was way too many years ago, as my mother was with us that day.

It was too many years ago, because I love this kind of event.
It speaks to my core.

Anyway, today many performers joined the Will Geer family to host 
a tribute to a most amazing man.  
In the spirit of Pete, we all came together for a giant sing-a-long!

Entering the stage
From the moment they entered and we all sang "Oh When The Saints Go Marching In"...
the magic had begun.

There were a few performers I was familiar with, many I did not know of (yet) and a few more I'd like to learn more about.

Here is the program:
(As always click on photos to enlarge)


Enlarge to access artists contact information

There were folk songs, protest songs...songs to embrace humanity.
There were the songs of my childhood.
 (That will be an upcoming post, the songs of my childhood.  
I'm too tired to write that one tonight).

Great Rock-n-Roll songs have a hook to grab you and compelling licks to move you and maybe a drum or guitar solo to carry you away.

But, folk songs...these songs have a chorus that you can sing with.
And the thing about these choruses is that anyone can learn them and sing them.
And once you do...you will never ever forget them, for they become a part of the fiber of who you are.  At least that's how it's been for me.
Along the line, you may learn all of the words to the whole song, or not.
You may remember all of the words to the whole song, or not.
But you will always remember the chorus and today we all got to sing-along.




So we did, this sold out crowd...sang, smiled, clapped and laughed together.

Fortunately, I was able to get through the three hour performance with only one real bad coughing spell.
I warned the woman next to me that I am asthmatic and may be heard coughing.
I was a bit embarrassed, but tried to drink water and carry on as gracefully as one with a chronic illness can.  I hate these asthma moments because not only do you get the tickle induced cough that you can't stop, but it also comes with those moments of panic because you can't catch your breath.  Those of you with asthma know what I mean.
Anyway, this is only a part of the story because I wanted to sing...I needed to sing.
This stuff feeds my soul.
Mine has needed filling lately.



Anyway, there were so many beautiful, unique voices and
a stage filled with almost more instruments than I could count!
over 10 guitars, a mandolin, a Dobro, auto harp, flute, fiddle, 3 banjos, a piano, drums & rhythm instruments.  I tried to get pics of all so I could show the guy when I got home!
Seeing all of those guitars made me wish I could play!




I loved seeing and hearing all of the diverse players.
Sitting among the others in the crowd, I noticed a sea of gray hair and sunhats protecting thinning hair or possibly skin that had already spent too many years in the California sun!
I noticed tie-dye and beads and funky floppy clothing, with the scent of patchouli drifting on the breeze.
The audience was mostly Baby Boomers, with only a few children in attendance.
I wished this was different.
I wished children today were getting this music, these values...these meaningful experiences.
They will be doing a second performance in July (since this one sold out).
They're calling it a "Re-Pete"!!!
It was mentioned that hopefully more youngsters will be there!
I hope so.


There was one child performer.
A young girl with a beautiful voice and a demeanor so poised and serene,
that I could not take my eyes off her.
Her solo performance was powerful, her presence was filled with light, and
her inclusion with this group, necessary perfection.
I applaud her.
Carry on Lily.  Carry the torch towards the future.
Here is the song she sang: I Come and Stand
It was respectfully silent as she sang.


Of course, as with every great folk/protest sing-along,
this one was also filled with story.
Words woven among the songs to tell the story of Pete Seeger and his music, his spirit.
Stories that told of particular times.
Times that have passed, but may come again.
Important times.
The stories spoke of the storytellers deep connection to Pete.
They were funny, charming, and profound.
They were filled with love, passion, compassion and memories.
They were poignant.


Emma's Revolution sang Sing People Sing, their tribute song for Pete.
You can read the lyrics, complete with beautiful chorus, on the link.


Len chandler shared his story of visiting Pete in his last hours and Pete's request to hear Shakespeare's Sonnet 65:

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
–William Shakespeare
He told us the last song they sang together, which I can't recall right now.
He also told the humorous story of his song Beans in Your Ears, which was banned by the NY Board of Health when it came out because of the over 33% increase in children putting things into their ears after hearing this song!!  He said he continues to live by the lesson that music does indeed impact its listeners.








The variety of instruments was so great, but even more amazing to me was how some of the musicians jumped from one to another.  That ability to play to many instruments mystifies me!



Then Gerald Rivers performed as Dr. Martin Luther King
and brought some of us to our feet!
We Shall Overcome!


Of course, we sang many of my childhood favorites:
"Goodnight Irene"
"Wimoweh"
"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"
"Turn, Turn, Turn"
"Follow the Drinking Gourd" (haven't heard this one in years)
"This Land is Your Land"
"We Shall Overcome"
"If I Had a Hammer"
and
"Guantanamera"

And even Peter Alsop performed
my beloved Abiyoyo!  I first learned this treasure in 1977 in my first teaching position, where one of my mentors played her guitar and sang/told this story.  I bought this very recording (in the link) for my young son a few years later and have been singing it ever since.  I have sung/told this story forever and had kindergarteners who adored acting it out!
In my humble opinion, this is storytelling and even though Pete himself collaborated on the book version...
this will always be storytelling in the oral tradition to me.
Storytelling where the listener uses his/her imagination to become a part of the story.
Everyone's Abiyoyo is unique to them, therefore I can't bring myself to use the book.



With all of the emotional attachment of a lifetime to Pete and his music, I was caught off guard when The Garden Song brought me to tears!
This is another song that I have used in my classrooms with young children
for many, many years.
I have always enjoyed it in that way.
But, today it felt like a metaphor for our lives.
A metaphor for the seeds I've tried to plant and grow.
For the life cycles of all living things, not just garden plants.
But us.
Pete.
He planted seeds that are still growing and being spread far and wide.

May we continue to mulch, pull weeds and pick stones...
And may the rain, rain down on us all.

Inch by inch...
 Row by row...may we all tend to all of our gardens...
and those of one another.

If you have read all of the way through this very long post...
Thank You.
I did it this way as much as a record for myself and my children, as a way to share this experience with all of you.  
I added way more links than I first planned to.
But, how could I not?
It was to deep and wonderful not to share.
If you want to learn more, you can always search out the other artists.

And Thanks to my sister who is always ready to share a powerful good time!


Photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2014