Thursday, August 18, 2016

North by Northwest: Chautauqua 2016, Part I

Founded in 1981, The New Old Time Chautauqua is the world's only traveling, or circuit Chautauqua. The Chautauqua movement began in 1874 on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in western New York, and by 1924 there were over 1,000 circuit Chautauquas, attended by over 40 million people. Chautauqua, the predecessor to TEDTalks and NPR, has always been a blend of entertainment and education, but most importantly a way to inspire and celebrate community. And for me, this could not be more true.  

Thursday 7/7 - LA to SF

No traffic on the 405 North at 7:45am. The drive to the Bay Area is always a memory-a-thon. I’m sailing past the I-5 Junction where I once sat for 30 minutes with The Bobs as we began the trek to Santa Cruz after another crazy McCabe’s gig; there were brushfires on the side of the highway... before Waze or Google Maps… and... Once Were Umbrellas... 

I listen to Neil Patrick Harris read his own autobiography, hysterical and supergay. At some point in it, a hotel desk clerk offers Neil and his boyfriend different bizarre rooms at an Irish castle. I jot “Do you want to stay in the room where the sisters killed themselves?” down as a possible first line for a new song.  

At my usual lunch stop, I check email and FB. My pal, the fierce guitarist Ali Handal says she's ALSO on I-5 North, heading to a Marin County gig with Cindy Alexander, the artist with whom she's been touring! But we can't actually meet - I'm about 90 minutes ahead of her at this point and want to get this boring part of the drive done ASAP. 

As always, the drive finally gets pretty at the Gilroy cutoff to the 101, Route 152 over the Pacheco Pass. Sadly, I have no cash for the many roadside fruit or GARLIC stands, but I CAN open the windows to smell it waft by. And on I-280, at the junction of SR92 at Half Moon Bay, I literally drive under a cloud carpet of epic definition, God, the Bay Area is so beautiful in this way. And it's about 55 degrees, awesome after the San Joaquin Valley!
Scott and Finn and I bundled up in July. It's SF! 

Chez Kecks, after evading the monsters in the garage from their legendary Halloween Haunted House, Finn the Irish Terrier welcomes me back with his usual sweetness. And the furnace is out. There's no heat. So I am really happy! 

We head to a gourmet food truck fest (a BBQ extravaganza for me) on the Presidio, bundled in jackets as the fog rolls in and a band plays under a tent, but you can see sunshine in the bay. Totally gorgeous and so San Francisco. I clock that we seem to be the only people there over 40. But the guys' wool hats look way less hipsterish here than in Los Angeles... because it is actually cold.

Friday 7/8 - SF to Yreka

I am woken by a Finny wetface alarmclock!  I buzz the new Bay Bridge as clouuuuuuuuuds wrap around it, the city disappears and a classical radio station is invaded by static. It's apropo, as my mind feels like a dam has burst and memories are flooding in. I never really knew San Francisco until I joined The Bobs; this was their 80s Eden. And still their home base until about 2000. So I'm simultaneously driving to Chautauqua and to my first West Coast Live taping... in Richard Bob’s car... in May of 1998.

Assholes on 580 are quickly forgotten when I see THIS (L). For those of you who don't know, my personalized California plates say I ARE - that's my publishing company, and those are my initials. I talk to Alex about the painting of our condo building in Los Angeles - will I even recognize my own house when I return in 3 weeks? Sailing over the coffee ice cream hills of I-80 towards Sacramento and I-5, I finalize details of my upcoming house concert in McMinnville, Oregon. Glenna's a big time Bobs fan who responded to my newsletter shoutout for a local host. Really looking forward to that.

Truth be told, I am heartsick these days. I am very troubled by the political climate of the country, by politics having invaded Facebook, by dread of the Big Dumb, the social pestilence of ignorance that has been revealed like what you find underneath a big rock when it's lifted. When billboards for cheap rooms at the Colusa Casino appear, I have fleeting thoughts of hiding out there in the air conditioning, watching Law & Order reruns, ordering room service and sleeping. But until what? Until it’s not 2016?  Until the world is better? Time only goes in one direction no matter how sad and sucky your life, or the world may be on any given day. 

I've driven this route many, many times, but always forget that it doesn't get ubergorgeous until Redding. I treat myself to a Black BearDiner lunch. Discovered this chain with Alex in Roseburg, Oregon on one of our many National Park trips in the 90s. So many highway turnoffs to tree-lined heavens. I hit a brief, very hard rain atop the crest of the hill - Mt. Shasta City - and regret not getting new wipers. Passing the turnoff for Weed, California and Highway 97, I smile thinking about the drive up to my first Chautauqua tour in 2014, which began in Sagle, Idaho and went through western Montana. I bullet down into the valley to Yreka. Finally, Shasta appears.

Porch, Magic Porch (in Yreka)
I'm staying Chez Carlson with my LA pal Elin and her parents, sister Lisa and aunt/uncle Nadine and Bob. I'd normally fear a rural Chinese restaurant, but Ming's, a downtown splendor of 60s decor, is the real deal. Here in Gold Rush country, even the menus are gold! I do a mini-concert for my hosts including two tunes in my solo show that were inspired by previous visits here - to this house and the porch in particular, "Satellite" and "Yreka Bakery," both of which I'm hoping to put on my next album, MY OWN DEVICES. 

helllllllup me
The only disturbing part of this lovely visit with Elin and her clan: the clown room in this wonderful house. It's still...well... here's a shot of one section of it. Elin says I could stay in that room, but unless I can turn all of the faces towards the wall, it's a big no. Instead, I head for the basement, where I spend the night learning, hourly, that my queen-sized air mattress has a leak. GAK!

Saturday 7/9 - Yreka to Salem

The mountain is out in the morning. Photo opps with Elin at the Yreka Bakery...and I’m off.

Once I've crossed into Oregon there are FINALLY decent radio choices (aka non-godsquad) thanx to Jefferson Public Radio. Ashland. Siskyou Summit: highest point on I-5. And I'm getting 46.1 mpg in my 13-year old Honda Civic Hybrid! 

I stop in Medford for a Starbux recharge and email check. Thoughts of life in a mountainous place without the stress creep in since I can still see mountains from this 'burby place. I vroom out with Ben Folds Five and XTC. Looking for more cover tunes to add to my show, and BFF's "Kate"  and XTC's "The Disappointed" are good candidates... as is They Might Be Giants' "Dead."

Once in Salem, I'm treated to the palatial new digs of my former LA pals Cindy and Scott. I am always SO HAPPY for hugely talented friends who opt out of Los Angeles (or New York, for that matter). Their son Kyler, who I remember seeing on day 5 or so of his existence, is the soul of cuteness (but necessarily not at the dinner table). Scott whips us up a chili con carnival. It's so nice to see them. Cindy and I exchange some tunes at the piano and she shows me a few voicing tricks she learned in a piano class she took. It is never too late to learn helpful skills!  I SLEEEEEEEEP in their guest room. YAAAAAAY!

Sunday 7/10 - McMinning It

It's still cloudy in the morning, so I don't get to see the 5-peak view they were bragging about... ah well. Everyone sleeps in but Scott, who has a church gig. Doggies Peanut and Daisy snuggle me as we sit on Cindy's bed yakking and Kyler's smile lights up the room. We head to White’s for a super yum breakfast. Salem feels kind of like a more official Eugene (about an hour south of here). I recall playing a club called Lefty’s here w/The Bobs - a place with excellent pizza, where collegiate a cappella groups always opened for us. Back home we all nap. Alex calls, very ill in LA. I hope Hekla is being nice and not biting him (that's a thing with her, sadly). I run through my set as Kyler keeps asking me to watch different movies with him. LOL - even though I know he'll lose interest in about 10 minutes, I have to run these tunes before tonight!

It's a stunning drive to McMinnville at summer sunset. Cellars and winery turnoffs abound. I'm thinking about a Bobs gig very early in my tenure opening for Al Jarreau at a beautiful Yamhill County winery called Sokol Blosser

Glenna’s garden is gorgeous. We're surrounded by parrots, chickens, kittehs and a sweet doggy. Her daughter brought goat cheese FROM HER OWN GOAT. Glenna made kitteh cookehs. (And she's the only person I've met so far who knew what Hekla meant.) My pal Tami and her b.f. are there - Tami recently lost her dear pup Siddhartha, and he meant to her what Sitka meant to me... My Seattle husband Eben (now living in Portland) and his girlfriend Janet are there with two lovely friends Margie and Greg, who I'll get to know much better later... and the show's a rousing success. Lots of Bobs fans in the house. I really love doing these intimate concerts.

The sun's still dripping behind blueblacks at 945PM as I coast into SW Portland on a back road to the Sloans' place... and learn of Pokemon Go’s invasion. Which I instantly... do not get. But I so love this place and these goofy, smart, wonderful people, whom I've known for about 6 years, and am so happy to be here to chill for a day before heading off to Chautauqua. 

Monday 7/11 - Portlandia

I wake up in the room in which Marc Acito and I wrote most of BASTARD JONES  in the summer of 2010. In fact, I'm on a nice, hard air mattress, right next to the piano, in the ultra-cool basement. That was one of the most intensely creative times of my life. It takes forever to get a musical produced, and we are on the cusp of a New York go in Spring 2017. (If you would like to help us produce it Off Broadway, call me immediately. There will be a crowdfunding campaign later this year, but feel free to help us skip that!) 

A day of final errands before I head into the woods, chart writing (a 32-bar SATB, Modernaires-type chorus of "The Sheik of Araby" for the show), an amazing Mongolian wok fry sans noodles at New Seasons (Portland's answer to Whole Foods), stockpiling more drinks n snacks and e-mailing with the York Theatre in NYC about new dates for TUNE IN TIME in the fall. Posters are up in Port Townsend for my show there in 2 weeks! Should be great to emerge from the woods or desert for a looong shower at that point... And I start charting "The Disappointed" (much more fun than looking up the chords online). 

I love on kittens Bean and Lily and they love on me. Dinner on the back porch with the Sloans, simple and lovely. Sleepy sleepy and I want an early start. Lisa invites me back “whenever you want to come and just hang.” I would love that. This house, its teens, its kitties and its salon-like vibe is a hub of seriously warm cool.

Tuesday 7/12 - Into the Woods, via Stonehenge

Portland rush hour is no biggie - at least not headed to the Columbia Gorge. 84 gets gorgeous immediately, just as I recalled. I stop in The Dalles (Who did shoot JR?) at the first in a series of McDonald's this trip - for the free Wifi. And some are running a 2 for 1 iced coffee promotion... I'm also texting with Eben all day - he's 45 minutes ahead of me the whole time in a Chevy Volt. 

Looking west at the Columbia Gorge, from Maryhill

This time I absolutely have to stop in Maryhill, WA, across the bridge past Hood River. There's a lovely museum, but I am going to Mini-Stonehenge, having passed it up twice when driving I-84 East from Portland already! Alone, in the middle of nowhere, at 9:30 am on a Tuesday morning. A pickup with a huge "NRA Forever" sign, "Blue Lives Matter" spray painted across the back window and an American flag pulls up next to my Honda Civic Hybrid (with stickers for NPR, Berklee College of Music and "Stewart/Colbert '08"), I hate that I feel weird about the truck's possible occupant. That is what this year is like in the United States. 

I get out and offer to take that family's picture at the monument, which is apparently a WWII Memorial of sorts. They look at me like I'm a freak. But ultimately take mine as well. (Because that's how we SHOULD behave in the United States.)

2 East is Washington Wineries and volcanic ridges/rock formations/yellow grasses. The climb up WA129 is spectacular from Asotin, along the Snake River, to Anatone. I dodge deer in the residential area before topping a plateau in extreme SE Washington State - 360 degrees of high plains at 4000 feet. Absolutely spectacular.  

Kristin is the only person at Fields Spring State Park when I arrive at the campsite where we'll be for 5 days. Scattered showers blow through, invigorating and crisp. I have no cell service once in the park. I scope out the cabins. Eben, who stopped for groceries in Richland on the way, says his ubersnoring is no more-ing, so I bunk in with him. it'll be the sleepy old peeps who don't want to stay up yakking cabin!  

We'll have to put up with this view for a week
Band rehearsal in the lodge
Eben and I bring wood into the giant lodge building where we’ll be HQd and he builds a great fire, which we will really need tonight. Band rehearsal at 6? HA! The bus of most Chautauquans finally arrives from Seattle around 630ish, as does the U-Haul with everyone’s stuff. It is so great to see everyone again, even though it seems like a not so long time – after all, most of us did the NOTC benefits on the San Juan Islands Memorial Day weekend. Band rehearsal is held after dinner as it thunderstorms on and off. I take half of an Ambien and get half a night's sleep. 

Wednesday 7/13 - Fields Springs Eternal

I begin a serious vitamin regimen this morning, as well as best stuff-leaving practices - it's very easy to forget where you leave your phone/camera, music, laptop, water, etc. at camp - so I try to leave at least two items if I have to leave something somewhere other than the cabin. - it ups the odds I'll remember. :) 

I excavate my likely lame French (but I did study for 7 years!) in front of Lilian, a conductor from France who found us online and is playing in the band - and she is... polite. I will try again later!

Morning conference room

Kara's Kingdom
Karl asks me to run the first morning meeting, which is an honor. We do intros – name, whether you're wearing deodorant and what kind, and what you hope to do on NOTC. Newbies are amazed and amazing, stepping up immediately to volunteer for stuff. New kitchen queen Kara is off to a running start, ably assisted by the wondrous J Rain. NOTC vets know they are so lucky to have the well-stocked Puffer Butte Lodge kitchen as their first foray into Chautauqua life! I check in with Erin about a costume for the show and the parades. And I make mp3s for some of singers for that SATB chart I wrote. We'll try it tonight!

Eben and I told the youngun's that this sign meant you got WiFi
if you turned your phone upside down.
It means there's an amphitheater ahead. Bwwhaha!
They say there's wireless at the Ranger's Station about 1/4 mile away, through one of the paths in the woods, but it's not working on anyone's phone or computer except Phina's Mac. She lets me do a quick check. Oddly, I am able to get and send texts standing outside the station, and receive calls on roaming but not make them. Alex manages to catch me there in the evening - he's feeling much better and Hekla the velociraptor is being a good girl - mostly.
Phina is so boss on the tuba

An all-rehearsals day and band rehearsal marathon. Eben had to prepare a ton of new pieces for a series of swing band gigs we're doing this tour for the Nez Perce and Quillieute tribes. These tunes were done by an all-Native American swing band called the Nez Percians. I'm singing "Sentimental Journey." And despite the now creepy/rapey lyric vibe of "Sheik of Araby," Phina, Carey, Val, Harmony, Scarlett and Rod nail the clustery 32-bar chart I wrote. My "Minute Waltz" also starts to takes shape after about the 5th run. 

Favorite conversation of the day:
Aerialist/all-around badass Carey is eyeing the crossbeams of the Puffer Butte Lodge to see if she can set up a practice rig. But Rio can't find a ladder tall enough to get up there to do that.
Amy: I've seen you use trees for this before. Could you use that big one in front of the lodge? 
Rio: Don't be silly. How would we get it in here?

All keyed up after the night's rehearsal, I listen to 4 podcasts in a row - RadioLab and This American Life - but then am undone by the snoring in the cabin from a surprise source…. a GRRRRR night!

Thursday 7/14 - Lapwai Not?

… and rise (aka sit up) for 7am breakfast. I vow to change cabins. I can't do this for 5 days!

It's so comfy in Eben's car, and I don't want to drive mine more than I have to anyway, so Anne, JRain and I ride with him back down through Lewiston to our day in Lapwai on the Nez Perce reservation. And boy, do we get to enjoy the stunning plateau - we're stuck behind a paint truck for 20 minutes! Which would be fine except that we're headed to the very first community show of the tour, where surely they'll be expecting us... 

Once we're down from the mountain, we all have cell service. I don’t even look up as we drive through Clarkston and Lewiston… not so much for social purposes, but business ones. Is this a vacation? Yes and no. Can an independent contractor ever really be off the grid? (No.) Then, we get lost trying to find the community show... there aren't a lot of street signs here so it's more like we're just looking for the NOTC bus in a clump of official buildings. We finally spot the U-Haul truck going to the service project, in which Chautauquans will be clearing a Native American graveyard of overgrowth (a frequent endeavor).

Eben does the half-tux as we unpack the truck in Lapwai, ID
I emcee the first community show at a elder care facility. And somehow the event didn’t make it onto their calendar… so they weren't actually waiting for us to show up. Sometimes this happens. I laugh with Rod, another fellow professional performer who's toured the world, "You know, some days you play Lincoln Center, some days someone says, 'We’ll go around and wake some people up for your show.'" Which will be unnecessary once the marching band enters the courtyard! I get to see some acts that are new to me, like jugglers Wren & Della from Anacortes, and young Miles (Stefan's son), who I get tongue-tied introducing as the world't youngest juggler -a Youngler! 

Nez Perce teens created a float for our parade to welcome us!

The Café in the Lapwai Community Center smells good. Sumi the cook says Moco Loco is a hamburger, onions, 2 fried eggs mash. This excites me, since I'm still lo-carbing, which is difficult on Chautauqua since a lot of what's served involves rice or bread. But I know I can have a protein sandwich lunch today, so I pass on the moco loco. We parade through a market (one of my favorite things) and on residential streets in the Rez in mammoth heat, kids and Earthball in tow, leading people back to the Community Center. I am really beat already from not sleeping and the heat, so I chill out during the workshops and do some writing. 

Beautiful Nez Perce girls try on costumes with our new costume czar Meghan (Erin had to leave for a job - I know that drill) and teen boys learn how to walk on stilts across the parking lot with Rio. 

Soundcheck for tonight's shows, since it's a gym and the system is very limited, is brief. Gyms are not good for tunes with lots of lyrics, but as this will be my first go for The Minute Waltz, which is wall-to-wall, that's actually fine. If I mess up, no one will be able to tell!

The placemats at our potluck with the Nez Perce Community -
A vintage photo of the Nez Percians band
Paul and the Nez Perce welcome us to the potluck
The potluck dinner with the community is AMAZING. I am deputized by Nez Perce policemen, who I hang out with while they cook burgers and salmon. There are tons of kids. And before the meal, we say the Lord’s Prayer phrase by phrase, not in English but in Nez Perce. The best part of these potlucks is the people you meet. I have dinner with locals Darlene and Alfred and their granddaughter a feast of salmon, burgers, hot dogs the locals brought and salad, veggies and fruit we brought, and desserts (very gone very soon because of all the kids) in the giant gym. When Darlene asks about my family history and my nationality, it occurs to me that no one ever asks me that. I tell her about Philip Engelhardt’s bus company in Jersey City. We talk about all the places they lived when he was in the Navy... she liked the fried food in Mississippi best, and he wants to go back to Anaheim!

Listening to the Nez Perce presentations
New arrivals include pals Karl and Jeremiah from Bellingham, and Harry (Mud Bay Jugglers). The show is great despite muddy sound. Wren and Della's rope act is terrific, Carey and Rio debut a new aerial act with him accompanying her breathtaking artistry on percussion. The blanket/quilt exchanges between NOTC and the Nez Perce, with Joannie leading the ceremonies, are beautiful. And it's a homecoming for beautiful Carole Craig, who has come from Ireland to travel with NOTC for a very special reason. Carole is the great-great granddaughter of William Craig and his Nez Perce wife Pah Tis Sah, daughter of Nez Perce Chief James/Big Thunder. Carol’s mother, Faith Petric became a folk singer, joined Chautauqua in 1982 at the age of 67 years old and toured with them until she was 95 years old. Faith is practically one of Chautauqua's Patron Saints.

do not mess with me!
The Minute Waltz premiere is also a big success despite the sound - I can see by their faces that the audience is really into the ridiculousness - and so appreciative! A little girl in glasses hugs me afterwards, asking, “Were you the lady who sang words really fast?” A guy who I think is one of the policemen holds my hand and thanks me from the heart. It's really moving. The "band gig” part goes well, too – with Toes, Meghan, Val, and Erin leading the dancing w/locals.

Sitting outside in Eben's car, I call Alex as people pack their props into the U-Haul, The harvest moon glows, low on the horizon. We shadow the bus back uphill in the still, gorgeous night. That plateau (3900 feet) – the Palouse – is still gorgeous in the dark as Clarkston sparkles in the distance.

Since the mattresses in the cabin I am moving to are lumpy, I drag the good one over from my first cabin, and grab only the stuff I’ll need tonight. It’s 12:30 and I can’t do everything now. I’ll go back and get the wooden board in the morning. Maybe I’m princess and the pea about this, but that’s the me I am – and I just don’t care what anyone thinks! Jabali, my roomie, Kym's droll teenage son, is a sweetheart. He said we’d have a “slumber party.” WHICH WE DO in the sense that it’s really quiet, and I get through the whole night without ANY earplugs, pillows, white noise apps or fan noise – all of which I am here to tell you ultimately do NOT block out a determined snorer! In fact, it’s ME who wakes up stuffynosed, hoping I didn’t annoy Jabali! : )

Friday 7/15 - No Sweat. I'm in a Beautiful Place.

I didn’t realize how angry I am on mornings when I've gotten no sleep having to deal with snoring. I mean, it's no one's fault, but I feel so well-rested right now (even though breakfast is a carbfest and I have to grab an Atkins bar from the car), it's astounding. At the morning meeting we discuss high and low points of our experiences yesterday. Kristin announces that an invitation has been extended to Chautauquans to come back down the mountain for a sweat with some of the Nez Perce community leaders – this is a HUGE honor. And If I didn’t really dislike being hot, I would SO GO... 

I spend the next hour scraping out giant muffin tins in the kitchen with Michelle, Karl and JRain from yesterday's yummy egg cups. It's difficult and time consuming, and all I can picture is the $2 packet of cupcake liners I walked right by in the market.... grrr!

“Auditions” for the show committee (me, Harry, Eben and Paul) are next. I think these shouldn't be called auditions, but "Show & Tell," or something less nerve-wracking for people who aren't full-time, professional performers (about half of the NOTC). Jorgan shows us her magic act. And Della (who I just met) does a comic striptease so unforgettable (a pic will be posted in Part II of this blog) and compelling that Carey’s Beyonce routine group across the lawn is completely derailed with distraction! 

Favorite line of the day:
Della, walking outside with the Show Committee before showing us her new act: “Ok, wait here – I have to change into my flying pig outfit.” You just don't hear things like that every day!  

Per Paul's request, I have re-written the lyrics to "Hernando's Hideaway" from The Pajama Game to be "My State Park Hideaway."  Today I'll talk with the multi-talented Phina so she can choreograph to it after a meeting is held to cast it. There will be four dancing State Park Rangers and a gaggle of "woodland creatures." Rod, Scarlett and I will sing it as geeky tourists. A gooftacular in the making!  

Paul presents a demonstration of his infamous workshop, "How to Fold a Fitted Sheet." 

Meals on Chautauqua are actually quite gourmet - you would never expect to eat so well on such an endeavor. But they are very grain-heavy. Which is totally understandable considering how many people are being fed. So when lunch and dinner turn out to be very carby too, Eben taps me on the shoulder to ask if I wanna go back to town because it’s slim pickins for us meat eaters, I quickly yup! This time down we stop at the Anatone town signs for photo opps (R).

Once down the mountain, I Yelp us to a Italian place called Tomato Brothers in Clarkston, WA for dinner. The Italian chop salad truly hits the spot. Eben orders a giant pizza topped with things he knows I won’t eat. Both of us wifi for about an hour. Eben sends his daily blog to friends who couldn't do the tour this year. Miraculously, Alex calls while I have service down here. No, sweetie, I don’t wanna hear about a coup in Turkey... it's too nice being off the grid trying to put positive things into the world... This kind of thing will be a recurring theme...

Before we reclimb Route 129, Eben and I buzz the town McDonald's... because someone at camp - a fellow carnivore whose name I cannot reveal - saw us leave and begged us to bring him back a Quarter Pounder!  

Saturday 7/16 - My State Park Hideaway

Fields Spring State Park

What's going on today, Scarlett?

AMAZING SLEEP!  But SOL at breakfast – French toast, cinnamon bread and oatmeal. Then all of sudden, Eben, who's on cooking duty, leans out of the kitchen. "Can I make you an egg?" Now THAT’s a friend! I break out the last of the gorgonzola and apple I've been keeping in the giant refrigerator here - it's from Portland - and offer it to him and everyone else, but it's too stinky for most of them. What a shame...

Another morning meeting with the blue jays and hummingbirds…they're all over the campsite. So beautiful. Sweat lodge stories from the lucky attendees include "opposites prayers" intended to humorously mislead... In fact, the good humor of our Nez Perce hosts permeated our time with them. It is remarkable that they have found a place of humor and understanding in a place so wronged, generation after generation. Chris tells us one of the guys made a big deal about a gift he was about to bestow being "traditional" and "sacred." Chris thanked him sincerely and reverently. They totally had Chris going - it was actually something like dog poo. After their group sweat, a Chautauquan said it didn’t seem as hot as they'd expected. One of the leaders said this was "because you are sincere people.” Jabali sums up the experience for those of us who didn't attend: “You guys totally missed out.”  I believe him.

Do not mess with this posse
(Val, Harmony, Carey, Meghan)
Costumes are tried on at the 1st real rehearsal for "Hernando's Hideaway." State park rangers and woodland creatures ARE SO INTO IT! I am so happy, and Phina’s work is simple and adorable.

After lunch we head out to learn more of the Beyonce dance w/Carey. SO MUCH FUN. I keep thinking, "Oh yeah, I used to do this…. Kinda...before it was Beyonce..." I start to pack for tomorrow. The band rehearses in between act music and Galen and I discuss sound system grants for NOTC. A newbie, already smitten with what Chautauqua does, Galen is super gung ho to help. I understand that, boy howdy! 

Julie from Lewiston walks into the lodge with a camera around her neck. She says she brought a beef stew for the potluck later, invited some friends, and knows several of the park rangers coming at 4 for workshops. Woot! She tells us the water here is the purest anywhere in the country - the park is named for the person who donated the water for its system – it comes from Mr. Field’s Spring. (DOY)

Eric schools us on the scenery

The State Parks people are so GREAT. Geology is the focus of Ranger David's talk (“Hey, you’re an arranger? I’m a Ranger!”). The Earthworks people show us how to create art in beautiful places without disturbing them. I take the history hike with Shaun to the Corrals, with, Doug, Yonna, Linnea, Michelle and Matthew. Shaun is the Construction and Maintenance Person for this Park, and his young assistant Trayson (about 11) is completely amusing - he keeps accidentally hitting himself with stuff as Eric fills us in on the history of the park. We learn more Nez Perce history gazing out on the hills that are now part of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. This land can be very inhospitable - but the US STILL took it from the Nez Perce - you know, just because they could. Now the tribe is are trying to BUY back their own land. Grrrr. 

Local guests include Brooklyn, who drove all the way up from Lapwai. A State Congressperson addresses us about the government's "accomplishments," Brooklyn follows it with heartfelt, connected, amazing and inspiring tales of his people's constant struggle.   

Lilian, Michelle, Harry and Brooklyn enjoy the cookout
Fiona arrives from Alaska after dinner and shows us a wonderful, pixietastic tune she plays on ukelele - while singing and dinging bells with her toes. it’s going in the show tomorrow. 

The night culminates with Joannie's BINGO birthday party in the lodge (admission price: wear a goofy hat) - with silly prizes and a group nightcap of TERRIBLE jokes. This is one of the best moments of the tour for me, because pretty much EVERYONE tells a joke, including the non-performers in the company. And Brooklyn did, too! 

The stars are epic. The moon is mammoth. It's nice and cold. I'm packed and ready to go West in the morning.   

Amazing art in the sketching workshop!
Brooklyn gets his first juggling lesson from Dmitri Karamazov!


1 comment:

  1. Amazing would be only the tip of the descriptor iceberg. What a blast! Please get part two done soonest!!! Thhppphhht!