Monday, June 20, 2011

Jethro Tull, a Message Worth Hearing

Jethro Tull Concert-June 16,2011 
Cuthbert Amphitheatre Eugene, OR

      Father's Day came just in time this year to see Ian Anderson perform at 63 years old, a father of “rock-n-roll” singing songs of yesteryear with messages that are still relevant today.  
      Gates opened at 530pm and a group of hardcore Tull fans sat waiting on blankets eating brownies made with magic oil conversing about concerts of the past and the old ballrooms that rocked.  When we entered the gates, Frank Zappa’s voice sang, “Give me…your dirty love” and flashbacks from the 70’s appeared before my eyes as cohorts wearing berets, beads and tie-dye filled the amphitheatre now buzzing with conversation and dance.
      Under blue skies and sunshine most of the early birds chose to sit on the lower lawn spreading blankets though some brought their lawn chairs and sat where they were allowed in the upper section.  I didn’t see any altercations the whole evening as most of us appeared to be there for one reason and that was to enjoy the music of an artist that began his career over 40 years ago. 
      I noticed there were fewer women than men and maybe that explained the small amount of cell phone chatter that we heard.  We vowed two years ago after seeing Jackson Browne perform that we wouldn’t go to another concert since it was hard to listen as there were so many cell phone conversations thanking place all around us, made me wonder why people pay to see performers do what they do best.
      As we waited for the show to start, we befriended two of the young women guarding the assigned seating section in front of us, one with a shirt that said, “STAFF” and the other that said “Crowd Control”.  I asked the latter if she even knew who Ian Anderson was?  She replied, “oh yea, my mom listens to him all the time.”  My husband spoke of his first time seeing Tull perform at Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan when the admission was  $4.50 a seat.  One of them said, “you paid more for your beer tonight than you paid to see the band then.”
      Next to the price of tickets at $35 apiece, our beers were the only money we spent.  No paid parking, we walked.  Food we brought with us, most of what came from the homestead.  Omelet sandwiches made with our eggs, onions and garlic, re-hydrated tomatoes, lettuce and sprouts served on a local bakery bagel with a few kettle chips.  Compared to what I could see being sold and consumed on the premises, (not to mention the cost) ours was a meal to envy.
      I should have checked the price of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, it had to be pretty close to the cost of a beer at $6.  I heard a guy tell his wife not to bother buying a t-shirt since they wanted $35 for one, said he could get one online for less.  David brought his out of the hall of fame in perfect shape since it’s only been worn a couple of times.  I imagine it soon will become a piece of artwork on one of our walls. 
      The image of the old man from Aqualung is sketched onto our memory and we sometimes wonder if it’s the same guy we see on the street corner in Eugene, holding a sign, “I won’t tell a lie, I need change for a beer”.
      At 7pm sharp, the group walked onto stage and started playing just as I assume they did in the clubs of Blackpool.  Most of the band members wore sunglasses, and Ian commented that it was his first time to perform wearing sunglasses.  He’s played here enough to know that it’s normally the mac and umbrella that you need. 
      Wearing a black do-rag and stretch pants, Ian appeared with flute in hand waving to the crowd as he performed the opening tune.  It appeared that he was wearing black leather tennies in place of the laced up boots he once wore.
      The audience was mostly baby boomers and senior citizens, sporting hearing aids, canes and smiles.  It felt good to get out and enjoy ourselves since we don’t often indulge in spending money on entertainment. 
      We certainly got our money’s worth and have never been disappointed in any of the eight or more times we’ve seen the band perform.  Charisma, charm and energy filled the stage for over two hours as we celebrated together the 40-year anniversary of Aqualung.  The entire album was played except for “Wind up” which we’ve yet to see him perform live.
      The words to most of the group’s songs were written by Ian and in many ways he warned us of “how not to play the game.”  His message of religious indoctrination, system hegemony and resource wars were ours to listen to, maybe we didn’t buy the hearing aids soon enough.     

“When I was young and they packed me off to school
and taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
or if they said that I was a fool.”
From Wind-Up
Jethro Tull

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Soldiers of a Lifetime

Soldiers of a lifetime
Fighting to provide
A world with much to offer
Their children to survive.
Their love is your armour to protect and defend
Against the enemy, use it to mend
Learn from their honor
And believe in their trust
They will give of their lives
For you if they must.
Know that no other
Can fill in their boots
As they work every day
To give you your roots.
Grow strong and stay true
To the lessons you've learned,
And know in your lifetime,
Your Father, Your Friend.

I wrote this in 2005 when I began to realize how important it was to my husband to help our daughters understand how different their lives would be in the future.  I listened as my husband shared pieces of history with them,  hoping to open their eyes to a different reality than what they believed to be true.

Some say it takes guts to talk openly about collapse with your children, but for him it's a responsibility that every father has and just because it hurts to tell them what they don't want to hear,  is no reason to stop.  I'm blessed to have a husband who always encouraged our daughters to ask questions, listen well and to be independently strong.

To all the men in my life that have loved me, taught me, supported me and listened---thank you

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beauty and Pain

     Our blog name may suggest that I’m enjoying the changes that are happening all around me, but only for nature do I welcome them.  Maybe I’m just one of a few because I realize how much a part of nature I am, nourished by the food I eat, the water I drink and the air I breathe. 
     As a nurse’s aid in my younger days and a hospice volunteer now, I have watched patients fight to breathe their last breaths and I have seen and felt death against my lips as I kissed my first real boyfriend one last time while he laid to rest in his casket.  Some may say it's morbid and I'm not so sure I would do the same today knowing how cold and hard his lips felt against mine, but at 16 I only knew I wanted to say goodbye to someone I loved.  The beauty of our memories together made me forget the pain as I knelt over him.
     Today I don't relish dying but I certainly don’t want to think about living in a dead world.  I wake often to hear the birds singing and every season it’s a different song.  I get out of bed knowing that in nature I’ll see beauty and feel pain throughout the day.  I realize I'm living now through collapse and I see the differences taking place before my eyes and I feel the pain as if it was my own.
    Two Big Leaf maples right off our patio provide shade in the hot summer months, though not many  anymore.  They were the selling point for me when we bought the house, reaching high and wide I knew we would welcome their shelter.  Many evenings before dinner we relax under their arms full of birds singing their different tunes.  Though still beautiful, it’s pathetic to see how they’ve changed.  I remember a few years ago when looking up all I could see was green.  The canopy now is half the fullness and the leaves are smaller and fewer.  Once we noticed the color change, now they quickly turn from green to brown and fall.  Even in their pain they still offer compost to the garden where they’re laid to rest.  Though hurting, nature continues to shelter us and provide us with life.
    Herbs that return every year vibrant and strong offer us medicinal qualities in a variety of ways.   This week I harvested comfrey to make tea for the vegetables and salve for our aging bodies after a hard days work.  It made a nice addition to my medicine chest alongside the cayenne and arnica salves.  I ought to call it my Marley shelf with jars of red, green and yellow.
    Yesterday I noticed our large Oriental Poppy began to open it’s salmon colored paper flower to display a deep burgundy inside and the Iris’s are beginning to share their beards of purple on white.  I also spotted our first swallowtail butterfly swooping through the garden not planning on staying anywhere for too long and the swifts are back flying through the air like torpedoes hitting their targets as they catch the meal of the day.
    The bees no longer need their sugar water as the berries are beginning to bloom.  Even some of our turnips, rutabagas, and kale from last fall are flowering now and their beautiful yellow flowers are attracting their attention.  How interesting the taste of honey will be.
    For the last four years we’ve had babies in the birdhouse which is now about 20 years old.  It was a gift that David made me for Mother’s Day complete with shingles for the roof.  I still remember it hanging from a small wooden fence around our backyard in the suburbs of Denver.  I never thought I’d see birds in it there as it hung just a few feet from the ground, but I did, though it took years for the paint to weather and the birds to feel at home.  This past Christmas David made me another from a gourd we grew.  Its psychedelic paint job will hopefully attract something colorful.
    While I see beauty all around me, I feel pain.  While some view collapse from the eyes of the artificial world I see horror on the ground and in the sky above.  I watch from knees in the garden planes spreading their white trails overhead contaminating food and soil.  More of them every day, I can’t wait till the day they disappear over the mountains never to be seen again.  That’s hard for me to say since I had always hoped to travel more. From just months old until I was 15 I visited England seven times, once every other year while my grandparents were living.  Now I watch memories on a disc made from 8mm film of my Granddad holding me while watching ships on the Portsmouth Harbor.  I doubt if I’ll ever get to see my cousins again, some I’ve yet to meet.
    Sadness does try to overtake me sometimes but not before guilt takes hold.  We were given such a beautiful home in nature and it matters little of what I want anymore.  I only have to look out the window as I write to see the pine trees dying while standing up, a walk up the road shows signs that we humans cannot live within the limits of nature.  Old tires, rusty bedsprings, and thousands of red plastic Remington caps lie abandoned on the side of a dirt road where others have entertained themselves or maybe they’re preparing to protect and defend, time will tell.
    It’s unfortunate that some can no longer see the beauty before their eyes and the only pain they feel is self-inflicted from the artificial world.  I embrace living every day some more than others but I notice all I can while I sometimes laugh and cry at the same time.