Posted by: suek2001 | October 19, 2016

“We are living in God’s favorite nation”…

I have been trying to avoid writing about politics…especially the presidential election..I see enough opinions…and cartoons..and have heard words used in a Presidential campaign that I never thought I would hear….

Still, I suppose I should write…and this won’t really be an endorsement of sorts….or even a warning….just a a chance to weep in word form…

My political beliefs have taken some turns in my educated years…Let’s face it, I took everything my mom said about the world as the truth….

When I became a teenager, I flirted with different ideologies..some radical..some weird…and some of my own making…If you read my journals from high school English class(and God, I hope no one ever does…My apologies to Mrs. Debbie Pollard for having to read such crap) I leaned to the liberal side of things…

John Denver always sang about optimism and hope for a better world…and liberalism offered that on some level….and yet, after a time I realized liberalism was almost a paradise that was out of reach…a home for the homeless..food for the hungry…and world peace in our time….It’s nice to think about but the selfishness of man gets in the way of those lofty goals….

I didn’t really give up on liberalism…I just thought about things a bit deeper…and realized that governmental control isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be…..

(I must interject, I still respect those who believe in the liberalism ideology, it just no longer worked for me..)

For years, I believed that businesses and labor worked together to feed our economy and that together, free of deregulation, they were able to give us the best our nation has to offer….

I’m not so sure of that anymore….for the conservative movement has somehow taken the average worker out of the equation and relied entirely on business owners to be the only ones who can grow the economy..and that consumers should just deal with whatever these corporations sell to the people…

..and then we have this election..a choice between a billionaire with no political savy and a woman who is the living embodiment of Frank Underwood..from the TV show House of Cards…

There is a fatalism about this election..and the supporters of each candidate like I have never seen before…as Jimmy Kimmel said “This whole election feels like America’s series finale”…

It’s also given a lot of people a lot of reasons to hate…each other..the opposition…Mexicans…Muslims…Russians…capitalists…women..men..the left..the right…the congress…..

It’s given us stuff to worship as well…we have Evangelicals worshiping the Supreme Court…conservatives worshiping Wikilieaks…and young kids worshiping an old guy from Vermont that promises free college…

It all makes me want to run and hide somewhere…and on the day after the Election..all the noise…all the anger..all the bitterness will still be there…

I have been watching The West Wing on Netflix for the last couple of months..and yes, it is a liberal fantasy but there’s an air of hope to it…people coming together to serve the nation..granted, they have their agendas but on some level, they all want to..not out of fear of someone or something…but out of love for our nation…of course, this was back in the early part of this century…when we still believed in the best of those around us…

To give you an example of how far we have fallen, the latest hit about politics is a show that wipes out the President, VP and the Congress in an attack..and let’s some lowly Cabinet Member in charge….so we’ve gone from a hopeful drama..to one that shows how to cope with a disaster…

Maybe 9/11 did us in….emotionally..spiritually….our pessimism has translated into a horrific election season…and  there may be no turning back…

The saddest part is this election has shown the young ones that  hope is a dangerous thing….and the cynicism we show the younger generation will impact our elections for years to come…if we are around that long…

 

Posted by: suek2001 | October 5, 2016

“..a drink to the living..a toast to the dead..”

It is October…..the skies are grayer…the weather is cooler…and the leaves are turning…..October seems to be a transitional month…we tearfully say goodbye to Summer….and steel ourselves for winter….in my beautiful hometown of Duluth, they are even saying we could see snow in the air..next week…and so ,our five month winter begins….

This is also the time when I begin the nagging sad feeling….weather has a lot to do with it but October is sad month for me..I’ve lost quite a few people I care about during this month…my best friend Dennis 21 years ago…my brother Chris, 47 years ago…and John Denver 19 years ago….

With the exception of a few birthdays, I really detest October….and now, another passing to the list….a friend named Rex De Long…..Rex and I never met face to face but we traded emails and comments online for a good 15 years or so..

We met through a John Stewart discussion group..via email…we would branch off into another email group for fun and provocative conversation…Rex loved music..specifically Ray Charles…John Stewart…and John Denver…and also the old time gospel songs….

Rex’s influence on me cannot be overstated…His passion for God..his willingness to love and his desire for peace seeped through every note…and every post…

His faith challenged me at times..I would have moments of rage towards God and he would listen..and then I know he’d pray..and offer the love of a brother in Christ….He was more than a brother in musical love but a brother in Christ….

Rex also changed the way I looked at modern worship music…He made a statement once that he really didn’t like modern worship music because it turned things around in the Church….Today’s modern worship music focuses on us..the believer..as we worship…instead of the attributes of the Lord  we should be worshiping…This is mostly true in the Evangelical realm of worship…my church sings a lot of these songs…and it is the trend…and that changes how we view God..so the old hymns are what Rex loved….and yes, he loved new treatments of the old hymns….

Rex also had a ministry…a puppet ministry….He worked as a worship leader and kid’s minister at Calvary Chapel  in California…he loved children..and loved the Lord…and the impact he had on those kids will live on forever…

There are so many other things I could say about Rex….his humor was legendary…his passion for playing piano and guitar led him to jam with friends from all over the country…his musical past with the Rumblers was something  he loved to talk about…and his years of friendship and work with Allan Thicke translated into a fierce loyalty to him as well…If Rex loved you, you can bet he’d be loyal to you…

I will miss his turn of a phrase…like these.

“Bless your kind heart”…”Wonderment”…and “peredventure”….and although he wasn’t southern..he loved the phrase “fixin’ to”…

The thing that tickled me about Rex was the subtle way he would  use Scripture in every email….but quote song lyrics with it…to make the music and the Creator of music as one…His most frequently used one was this one:

 

So, how can you honor Rex..sure you can listen to Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver or John Stewart (The Folk Triumvirate as he called it)…that’s nice but I bet he would love if we all just showed a little more love and kindness in this dark world..

I really hope this blog pays tribute to Rex in a way that he would love..a.s he was true champion of my writing…and a lot of my observations…..as I was reading through old emails, I came across one where we were all discussing what song we would want sung at our memorial service…and his choice was a simple one….I can’t think of a better tribute…and a better way to close this blog..

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | September 6, 2016

“I was born in the heat of September”

As I write this, it is September 5th…..and it happens to be John Stewart’s birthday…

I was thinking of what to write on this occasion but I wasn’t sure..as my mind wasn’t in the celebratory mood….there’s been something else on my mind….the passage of time….

John Stewart wrote a LOT of great lines on that subject..and also on birth and death…and in Minnesota this past weekend, we had a bit of both….

On Friday, I spent the day with friends…celebrating the anniversary of my birthday…45 years ago…and just enjoying being around people I loved….

Then the news broke Saturday….the remains of an 11 year old boy were found just outside of his hometown…about an hour north…He’d been missing since 1989…and it was an abduction that reshaped the lives of generations to come..

..and with that sadness…..I thought of this line from John Stewart’s song ” I Remember America”…

—–“I Remember America, when kids could walk alone, got to corner for rootbeer float and safely make it home”…

I thought of Jacob Wetterling every time I heard that….and now, the knowing that he’s gone..and was only on this planet for 11 years…touches me deeply….and it’s lyrics from John Stewart songs that speak to me this weekend…

“No one’s getting younger and a few aren’t getting old”—from Kansas…..

…and this one…

“Today’s so soon, tomorrow ,you’re old”–Missouri Birds…

…or this one…

“I was born in the heat of September and I died in the cool of the Fall, oh borning and dying ,we do most the time ,you know know it don’t mean much of nothing at all”…–from Cooler Water, Higher Ground..

 

The last one ran through my head this weekend…as we mourn the loss of a child that will never grow up….and celebrate a man who touched so many of us….and this line struck me most….because it is one I wholeheartedly disagree…

I love John Stewart…I truly do…and his lyrics speak to the hope..the truth…and the longing for better days…we all seek them…and those who love music..are seekers of truth on some level….

John was great at exposing the heart of who we are…but this ONE sentiment, he got wrong…at least how I read it….and I read it as the actions of being born and dying  have no real meaning to them…

I beg to differ…..I am sitting here in my living room..because I was born….and the impact that so many others have had on my life spiritually and physically, cannot be underestimated…I’m slowly realizing that I have an impact as well….and I try my best to be a good one..failing at it on more than one occasion…

..and John Stewart’s impact….something tells me he never really “got” how deeply his music would change so many lives..He picked up that banjo and one of the greatest folk acts of all time was able to move forward….and then he plowed into a solo career with a staggering amount of output…and resonance…that people STILL want to hear his music eight years after his death…

John Stewart is the reason I go to one of the hottest places in the USA…Scottsdale, AZ….at the hottest time of year…It is the reason, I now have a circle of friends that span the globe…a family of friends….and it’s more than his music…it’s our love for each other that binds us…

I would say his life had a huge impact on a lot of people….

So, maybe John’s motivation might have been for us to examine how our lives have impact? I have no idea….and I thought of that line today, as I saw several mothers hold their newborns…and realized that each birth brings new hope…new chances for impact…and the ripples of our lives will continue…

..and then my thoughts circle back to those remains of that 11 year old boy….his family is in grief….his town is in a reluctant shock…and his home state is in a reflective mode…His life mattered to all of those he touched…and those he left behind…in the 27 years since his disappearance, laws have been changed…and authorities have gotten a bit better at connecting the dots…and parental guidance is a way of life now…

The cliche is that he didn’t die in vain…and there’s truth to that…just like John Stewart’s life wasn’t in vain..his art had impact..his life as a husband and father  had impact far beyond what fans see…

I would love to know John’s mindset in writing that lyric from Cooler Water, Higher Ground…I may be missing the point of it all but the thing I would say to him is that his work here on earth mattered….and we will never forget it…

So, I shall close with some John Stewart videos….these are friends who love the music…and still sing it whenever they can..

Here’s Tim Dismang and the John Stewart Band..Strange Rivers:

 

..and Steve Cottrell and friends singing “July, You’re a Woman”..

 

..and Tom O’Donnell covering “Dreamers on the Rise”..

 

..and the current lineup of the Kingston Trio doing Jasmine:

..and I might as well mention that I covered a John Stewart song in August…

All of these songs mean something to each one of us…that was John’s impact….a light shining in a dark world at times….and it is up to us to keep that light shining long after our friends are gone…

 

Posted by: suek2001 | September 2, 2016

“Smiles awake you when you rise”…..

So…here it is….

September 2nd….my birthday…..the narcissist in me is thrilled…a day where people pay attention to me..all day….the kid in me is thrilled….a plan to join friends for mini-golf later is in place….and the adult in me realizes that it’s just another day for millions across the globe……and all of these thoughts are fine to me…

Mom woke me up before my alarm..Each year she gets just a bit more excited for my birthday than I do….She’s dying to see what I thought of the outfit she bought me…on sale…Smoky grey knit pants(with POCKETS!)..and a maroon blouse with long sleeves…

Yep..summer is just about over…and Fall is here….For me, summer was over when the Kingston Trio Fantasy camp wrapped up a few weeks ago…

..and I suppose I should pontificate on what it all means..

The truth is..I don’t know…..I’m 45 years old today…and I don’t know what life really means….I know that I am doing my best to live for God but human desire gets in the way….I know that I am blessed to have a great mom, wonderful church..awesome city…giving friends..and a large music collection…

..but what does it all mean?

Lately, I’ve had this nagging feeling that my life is somehow not as grand as it’s supposed to be….that somehow, I’m missing some grand accomplishment….It’s a bit of a restlessness….maybe a mid-life crisis…

Maybe,  if I was married…is that the missing piece? Maybe if I was a world famous writer by now, is that what I am longing for?

Maybe, I am falling into the trap of feeling like I should have arrived by now….and that’s a trap that too many fall into…

The longing for what’s next keeps me moving forward..the longing to see if there are things I can still do..people I can still meet…truths about God, I can still discover…love I can conquer….music to absorb..all of that..still awaits me…

No matter what happens on the world stage,  I know this journey will go forward…I know that my heart will still seek…

Yet, I am noticing that my life is changing quietly..My diet is slowly changing…I can scarf down a caesar salad in a good pace…Five years ago, I would have squirmed at the mere thought….I taste the grease and salt in most fast food now….and frozen dinners bore me to tears….and fresh fruit has a sensation all of it’s own…

God knows I’m not a healthy eater but I am willing to try things….

I was willing to perform in front of a room full of people this year….haven’t done that in years..and I came out of it fine…

I am noticing the simple beauty in the flowers outside of my workplace…I have no sense of smell and they always looked nice on a basic level..but there is true art in a flower bed….

I am learning to savor the way my friends and my Mom laugh and share their joys…I don’t ever want to take those relationships for granted…

Five years ago, I felt triumphant on my 40th birthday…I overcame so much to be where I am….now, I am just trying to savor life…as it zips by too fast…I can no longer say I just turned 40..I’m knee deep in them now…

So, what is ahead for me? I am have no idea..I trust God to know.and I trust myself to explore more….and just savor that after so many years of self-loathing..this decade has freed me of almost all of that….

So, I trust….in my Mom to always support me,,trust in my friends that they will laugh with me…and trust that God will always love me…

So, with all of that support, I don’t really need the answers right now…I just need to know “the road shines bright, when you’re going home”….

 

Posted by: suek2001 | August 27, 2016

“Rubber Ducky, I’m awfully fond of you”….

It happens every year….I should prepare for it but I never do…..and I never knew how deep it would go but it always does…

It’s the post-Fantasy Camp depression that sets in…..and it’s weird because Camp falls right before my birthday in September..but Camp is so awesome, it turns my birthday into an afterthought…

(Mom is busy sending me cookies and fudge though)…

So, I come back from Camp feeling a bit withdrawn…and then I see it..sitting in the harbor…no, not a really cool ore ship….although we had some cool Tall Ships docked…(nine to be exact)..

It’s all there..in it’s bright..yellow glory…

..the world’s largest Rubber Ducky……

 

This photo was taken from my camera with  zoom lenses…but was taken from my window about ten blocks away…

The Duck is inflatable and floats on water….It is part of the Tall Ships Festival….

Here’s a shot of one of the Tall Ships…

Now, every couple of years we have the Tall Ships…so while it is cool to see, they are here so often, I take them for granted….but a Giant Rubber Duck????

 

Seeing it up close, reminded me of that weird artist Cristof that used to hang curtains in Central Park….as sort of an art experiment….

This was so much cooler..It was in the Duluth harbor..

Oh sure, Duluth loves it’s ships…it’s craft breweries..it’s hiking trails..and hockey games…we brag about our lake…our bridge and our community spirit…

…..but this Duck  set this town on fire when it was here……Lines were formed to get a picture with the duck…People came from cities around the region to pay $15 to get a mini-rubber ducky(you can buy those suckers at Wal-Mart, or so I have heard)…

I finally figured out why we loved this duck….for a couple of reasons…

  1. Adults can say rubber ducky…how often do we get to say that especially single people with no kids? Face it, it’s just fun to say the words “Rubber Ducky”..Try not to smile when you do…
  2. It’s bright yellow….and at night they put a spotlight on it..so it glows..so it lingers long in your dreams…..
  3. With the darkness of our world, the anger in this election, this adds a bit of joy and hope to our world….

 

So, it may be strange..it may be unnecessary but it’s cute…and weird…and since I am cute and weird..I completely understand.. and what I love about the concept, it’s not just a Duluth thing….apparently, it’s made stops all around the nation..a friend told me it was near PA last year and it was the hit of the state….Looking out my window, I can see why…

I had my picture taken with it but the thing is so large, that I looked like I was standing under a giant yellow breast….some kind Facebook friends pointed that out to me…I quickly changed my profile photo….

Still, the after-Camp blues set in and the Duck gave me a lift..as Duluth inches towards fall and the chill of winter….we needed that Duck.to give us one last quack at Summer…

..and now she’s gone..and I am sad..but in my dreams and my photographs, the duck will live on..it’s all it’s 65 stories of duckiness..

 

Posted by: suek2001 | August 21, 2016

A star is born???

This will be my last entry on Fantasy Camp…although you never know..more esoterica could show up….

Still, this needed a blog entry all by itself….Almost ever year, my friend Fred Grittner(check out his awesome blog here:

https://52tracksblog.com/)

..hosts a seperate event from all the official Fantasy Camp events…

He calls it From the Suites to the Stage….a chance for those who have sung in the Suites…or anywhere else to sing…you can’t be a camper..this is basically an open mic with a very appreciative audience…

Late last year, I volunteered to perform….I have no clue what possessed me to but I did….I hadn’t sung in front of a crowd since 1994..and that was leading our church choir in “Battle Belongs to the Lord”….I recall Mom wasn’t that thrilled..as she didn’t think I could sing….to be fair, I spent years telling her she couldn’t sing either….turns out..we’re both wrong…(although I think she has a better voice than mine)…

So, as the time drew closer, I realized what I was about to do…and I knew I couldn’t top the other performers that really had skills…and I didn’t want to butcher the tune I loved…..I chose a song that means lot to me….and it was in celebration of my 15th anniversary of moving to Duluth…It’s called “The Road Shines Bright”….

 

I was nervous about killing the song I loved but with the help of Debbie Pinkney on harmony vocals…Bob Moore on banjo..and Charlie Woodward on guitar, I knew I couldn’t back out..and knew I wouldn’t be alone…

As I arrived at the event, I found out that I would be following one of my favorite performers….Steve Cottrell…the man’s voice just melts me….and I was a bit nervous to follow Steve….that’s like asking Tiny Tim to follow Adele…Still, I figured I had a room full of friends to cheer me on….and a very dear friend filmed the whole thing…It meant the world to have him there to share this moment…

I noticed that George Grove and Rick Dougherty of the Kingston Trio were in the back row..I felt a bit pressured….actually, I felt a bit queasy…and my prayer before I went onstage was that all my bodily functions would remain in check…

As Fred introduced me, I knew it was too late to run…and then Fred said it..”Suzy-q is a big fan of one member of the Kingston Trio in particular”…..and then I heard a loud “YAY!!!!!” with hands waving up….and I knew it was George Grove….I laughed so hard all my nerves just flew away….and I knew I could do this….and it warmed my heart that after years of screaming at the mere mention of his name in concerts, George had done the same for me..sort of…as Rick pointed out, he was screaming for himself….whatever the reason, I felt like I could take on the world….

..and so I did…..and sang the song….I wasn’t exactly ready for American Idol but I think I did okay..vocally…and I loved that everyone clapped with me..and I threw in an adlib about “let’s have some church in here today”….and just like that, it was over….and I heard that applause….

I was relieved it was over…I was relieved all my bodily functions remained intact…and yet, I had a euphoria that I had never felt before….Truthfully, I couldn’t tell whether I wanted to fly…or have sex….instead I stood in the back of the room and watched a few more performers….it was all a blur…except I remember a bear hug from George Grove….and then all my friends started saying what an awesome job I did..I figured they were just being supportive…

I saw the video and realized…”Eh..not too bad…”…I knew the real test would be a few days later…..I heard John Stewart’s “Road Shines Bright”..and I smiled…I enjoyed it still..and it flashed me back to that feeling…Yep, I succeeded….and I have a bit more confidence than I did before..so I may just do it again next year..and Fred suggested I do “Country Roads”…..I can handle that…

..and someday..when I work up the courage to upload it to You Tube, I shall…for now…just your imagination will have to do…

 

Posted by: suek2001 | August 21, 2016

“…and oh here comes those songs once again”….

It’s been a few days since the Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp has ended…and I am still recovering…

In 2012, the year of my first Fantasy Camp, I was excited at the prospect of seeing The Kingston Trio every night I was there…..and they did not disappoint…

However, the last few years, I have grown to love watching my friends sing and play…It really is a special feeling hearing other people sing the songs you love so much….

I have been a fan of The Kingston Trio for close to 30 years…my first concert of theirs was almost 20 years ago….and if someone had told me that night, years later, I would be sitting around a room listening to people play “Genny Glen” or “MTA” or any number of songs with people from all across this land, I would not believe it…Not only do they sing along, but their passion for the music matches mine….

The Internet is a wonderful thing. If I hadn’t logged on to that computer in college, I might still be enjoying music on my own….and music is really a communal effort…There is joy to be found in that community….

Listening to so many people, young and old, play and sing gives me hope that the music will go forth….

I had the awesome pleasure of listening to a Kingston Trio-like act called The Lions Sons….One of the members is Nick Reynolds son…another is a cousin to Nick and the last one is a close friend of that family…

Seeing them perform in the KT’s trademark striped shirts….and hearing Josh Reynolds belt out “Tatooed Lady” almost made me weep….The first KT concert I attended was in June of 1997 in Minneapolis, Nick Reynolds was still touring with them at the time…and one of the songs he did was “Tatooed Lady”….My Aunt happened to be with me that night…I will never forget the look on her face, when they broke into that song…We couldn’t believe it…here we were..only a few rows from The Kingston Trio and Nick was belting out a song, we’d heard a hundred times out of my Aunt’s car stereo..It seemed surreal….

 

As the Lions Sons concert went on, they dazzled us with KT hit after hit….all done to a great perfection…and with a touch of awe and love by the performers…but the song that got to me wasn’t a Kingston Trio song…It was a John Stewart song…

Mike Marvin, one of the Lion Sons, explained that he used a John Stewart song in his movie “Hot Dog”….the song was called “Earth Rider”….(I’d post a link but couldn’t find one)…

The song propelled me back  about 14 years ago….My Aunt and I were doing a road trip from Minneapolis to Glenwood, MN…we were going to see The Kingston Trio…and on that trip, I introduced my Aunt to John Stewart…I still see us criss crossing farm country with that song blaring from her stereo..seeing her fingers tapping on the steering wheel..and smiling…She fell in love with John Stewart on that trip…and the remaining years of her life were filled with his music…and I do believe her outlook on life changed as a result…

So, there I was, listening to this group..made up of KT fans and lineage nail a John Stewart song that sent me into a time warp…and for a few moments, I felt my Aunt was with me…for it all….

Music has that power…and it takes a special kind of performer to accomplish that….I knew she was there…and I even felt a bit younger…..

There were more moments like that over the course of a week…hearing songs that my Aunt would have loved….and we sang to…all weekend..from The Kingston Trio…but mostly the Campers..and the jammers…

I send this blog out to the performers….These people practiced..gave their hearts…gave their joy.and left it all on the stage…and in the Suites…every note that I heard, filled me with joy..filled me with hope…and filled me with memories…

…and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you…for keeping the music alive….and for keeping the memories of those long gone, lingering still…

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | August 14, 2016

“Gonna ride that boat to the gloryland”

It is Sunday morning as I write this…and once again sleeps escapes me….It must mean I am at The Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp…

Every year I count down to this week.and every year, the week zips by….

As I write this, most of the members of the Kingston Trio are heading home…most of the Campers are heading home…..with another successful week in the books…

Every year, it gets harder and harder to blog about Camp..My love for this experience has not diminished but the spiritual nature of it has increased tenfold for me..that putting it into words seems futile….

This year had a theme of family…..Every year, it seems like there’s a theme of family but this year, it felt the strongest…

As most people know, out there in the real world..folk music is not that popular….There are pockets of acoustic music on the radio but the old folk songs of yesteryear seem to be fading from the airwaves…

So, this week feels like folk music rules the world…..on the stage and in the Suites….

So when we all get together, we want to celebrate the music of The Kingston Trio that moved so many of us…and yet, we celebrate each other…

I once wrote how the people I meet are a “family of friends”…

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/a-family-of-friends-a-tribute-to-bloodliners/

..a folkie fellowship, if you will….

This year, in the span of a week, we celebrated the return of a lady who has had her health issues….and gave emotional support to a gentleman battling ALS…..We dedicated the Camp to people who have passed away…and celebrated their memory in the Suites…

..and each show seemed to be a celebration of the performers…and the groups…and boy, did they wow the crowds…

One of the hallmarks of any Kingston Trio song is the harmony….and this year a lot of the Camper Trios nailed that harmony….

Some people think it’s the crazy banjo licks that draw people in….it really isn’t..it’s that tight harmony….and I noticed that the members of the Kingston Trio didn’t hold back on their parts when singing with Campers, they sang right along..and found the harmonies that worked…and the audience was taken on a journey…..and when the Kingston Trio finally took the stage…they wowed…but it was almost like an encore to all the other performers…

The Campers really outdid themselves…and it must be because they care……they care about the music….they care about each other..they care about the audience….

Oh sure, there will be moments of hearing Bill Zorn do a great banjotastic version of Fast Freight in the Suites….and quiet conversations with George Grove…and laughter and running gags from various friends..but the Campers….their heart..their soul…their joy….

..that is what I will take with me in the coming days….

….only 344 days to Fantasy Camp!!!!!!

 

Posted by: suek2001 | August 4, 2016

A bridge too far?

Sometimes little moments create flashbacks for me….

I saw a woman today…older than I..wearing a tight fitting t-shirt….The Aerial Lift Bridge was emblazoned on the front….

I smiled….I love my Lift Bridge..it is the Duluthian landmark that people remember…..

 

Some might say I have an obsession with this bridge….Okay…I do..It speaks to me on some level……I can stare at it for an hour and it can put me in a trance…

When I was a little girl, I had that bridge on postcards..magnets..posters…t-shirts…..Come to think of it, I still have that bridge on all that..plus a key chain and a coffee mug….Some think if the bridge were a person , I would have married it…

“Sue, you are the only girl I know that has a crush on a structure”…said a friend years ago….

Recently, some friends started this “Spousal challenge” that required them to post pics of their husbands/wives…I was grateful I wasn’t tagged..as I would have posted pics of me with my bridge…..

So, my memory was jogged by seeing that t-shirt this morning….I sighed…as I thought of the great looking body I had in my early 20’s..Mom would dread it when I would wear my Bridge t-shirts with pride..My chest was wonderfully ample and upright…Mom said that the bridge always looked like it was up…

The older I get, the more close to the water level it gets….I think about improving my body shape..make things skinnier….and certain areas gravity defying.but then I would be trapping myself in a time warp, I would need to get out of…

Besides, if I did all that to my body, how would anyone know I’ve been on a journey? Life is that after all…and I have the wrinkles to prove it….

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | July 30, 2016

“..and heaven to gain..”

Some songs stick in my memory and connect me to time and place….Good Vibrations takes me back to when I was five years old and hearing it the first time as I was swimming in a kiddie pool…I heard MTA on an oldies program one Friday Night in 1987 and was hooked on The Kingston Trio for the rest of my life….

..and then there’s a John Denver song called “Alaska and Me”….It’s from an album called Higher Ground released in 1988..and the song was featured in a TV movie(unsold TV pilot actually)..a nice ditty…folky and charming but it wasm’t one I played a lot…there were other songs on that album that I played more…

…until the Fall of 1994..I had just started Bible College…met a man named Dennis Mertz….the story has been told here before:

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/i-asked-god-for-all-things-that-i-might-enjoy-all-things/

So, I won’t go into too much detail……One aspect of his story that has been alluded to but I never really got into was how Dennis shaped my view of some music…He loved John Denver..and didn’t “get” the Kingston Trio….which broke my heart..but that’s okay…not everyone is perfect….

One day, he told me of his dream to be a missionary in Alaska…the spirit of the wilderness and the wide open spaces had an allure to him that was akin to how Duluth was a dream for me…

One night, I was doing homework and listening to John Denver when Alaska and Me came on..I stopped..and smiled…and thought “I have to tell him about this song”…

The next day, we were waiting at the bus stop in front of the City Center on Nicollett Mall in Downtown Minneapolis….and I told him that Alaska was featured in several John Denver songs…and one in particular “Alaska and Me”….

I am not a singer by nature and very rarely sang in public..but I had to sing it to him..and there was no one around….

So, I sang all the lyrics..and I watched Dennis smile..and weave in time to the beat…that smile…still gets me all these years later….and those eyes sparkled..hope.dreams….joy….all in his eyes….I swear I even saw a couple of tears….as I sang the lyrics to this John Denver song that I liked but never really paid attention to…

When I was done, he said, “That is me…that song is truly me”….so on that street corner, that song got him..and wouldn’t let go…

I would make him a mix tape of John Denver songs with Alaska and Me and others…and we would sing it to each other every now and then…..

It became his anthem…and after that, the song never sounded the same…

The day after he died, that song happened to come up on my Aunt Betsy’s car stereo….I wasn’t ready to hear it but for Dennis..we sang it at the top of our lungs……a week later, at his funeral, it played as they closed the casket…and the funeral began….and I looked around and all those who knew him were smiling.. that song fit him to a tee…

I hear it now…and  I still see him smiling..weaving and joyful on Nicollett Mall…and I will post it again today on Facebook…to celebrate his birthday….

He lived every day like the first or the last one……and here’s his song..

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