LIFE: The last week or so has been an interesting journey – literally and figuratively. Christmas was okay and our (would’ve been) 38th anniversary, December 23rd, worked out to be an adventure. I was feeling a tad sad, off and on, leading up to our anniversary. In the early stages of Huntington’s Disease, the holidays were rough on Kathy (and rough on me). There were some Christmas days of depression and silent anger. Anniversaries with torn up cards. Screaming and outbursts if I got her a gift. But after 38 years it’s important to sort out the good in front of the bad. And those nasty days were few and getting smaller in the rearview mirror. Yesterday, as I was going through more stuff, I found some of Kathy’s homemade cards that she had given me for my birthday. I don’t remember what year but they remind me there were more ups than downs.
Anniversary: I was probably more apprehensive about out anniversary on the 23rd than Christmas itself. For Christmas day, I figured the Jewish side of me was hungry for some Chinese food. I decided that if I could plan something for December 23rd I would have something to look forward to. Music is always my comfort zone. I found an open mic on that Wednesday night. This one was at the Towne Crier Café in Beacon, New York. The club has a great reputation but it is a 2 1/2 hour drive (on a good night).
It was a dark and stormy night.
The above is an understatement. I took Marty for a walk and instead of bringing him into the house I wrestled him into the car and we departed around 2:30 in the afternoon. It was just kind of dark and gray out at the time. It was a bad time to hit Hartford and there was construction off and on. Then the skies opened up and it started pouring. It gave me plenty of time to think over what I was going to sing and plan the small talk between songs. I had hoped to stop in Newtown, CT on the way. I still shake my head when I think about the school shooting there. It feels so close but I couldn’t deal with it at the time that it happened. That pilgrimage will need to wait for a different time. Marty sat on the floor behind the pulled-up passenger seat for the whole trip. I was able to pet him throughout the trip and he seems to be safer down there.
We arrived around 5:30 or 6 PM and I parked across the street. I signed up for the open mic then Marty and I went for a long walk in the heavy drizzle. Beacon looks like a really nice artsy town from what I could tell. Once I settled at a table inside (Marty was not permitted) I ordered coffee and some Dal Soup, an Indian lentil soup. It was very good but a little salty. Later I ordered a plate of hummus and toasted pita bread. Since I have home-made hummus almost every single day, you would think I would have ordered something more imaginative. But it was excellent and much better than my version. They probably don’t improvise and use real ingredients.
The talent at the open mic was really excellent. The host Don Lowe opened with one song in what he told me later was in a drop C tuning. It reminded me a little of some of the low growling guitar tones Peter Mulvey gets. The first performer was receiving condolences because his mother had just passed away. I think he was her caregiver but I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. I decided not to say much about Kathy’s passing except that tonight was our anniversary. Like most open stages and open mics, there were regulars who come a few times a month and a few newbies, who were very young and brand new to playing on stage. There was one large entourage that pulled together two or three tables. I didn’t see any guitar cases come in with them. When the time came, a young 13-year-old sat at the piano. She was a little shy until her mouth opened. But everyone was listening as she belted out her songs. Amazing voice and poise. There were some excellent songwriters and guitarists as well. I hope to get back there when the weather permits. I drove back a different way using the Taconic Parkway and the Mass Turnpike. It was longer. But even with the rain, it was less stressful and there was less traffic. Marty and I were in bed before 1 AM.
These are the two songs I did. Sorry about the sound quality. The first tune Oh, Babe was written for our fifth anniversary. It is on my CD Love on the Line. The second tune, Dear Mr. Santa Clause (Did you lose my list?) was originally written for a benefit compilation that Signature Sounds put out back in the 90s. Signature Sounds wasn’t even a record label then.
Christmas: I ended up visiting my relatives in Connecticut on Christmas Day. It was very relaxed. We ate leftovers from their Christmas eve dinner and too many cookies. I guess my Christmas with cashew chicken will have to wait another year.