Where I’m From

This is my version of the Where I’m From poem by George Ella Lyon.

Some of us are writing our own versions.

I am from years of piano lessons,
from Mel Bay easy guitar method books
and hours of complicated scales and exercises.

I am from the a cassette recorder playing me
playing the piano part to Chicago’s Colour My World
as I play along on the flute.

I am from the smooth feel of the white keys,
the bumpy awkward feel of the black sharps and flats,
the dull but painless pull of nylon strings,
and the satisfying pain of throbbing callouses on the tips of my fingers
as I finally graduated to real steel strings.

I am from mom and dad driving me to lessons
and making sure I practiced, from the sound
of my loud clumsy daily practice
mixing with the smell of dinner cooking in the next room.

I am from mom and dad attending every concert, recital, and show
and mom saving S&H Green Stamps for a real wooden metronome.

From “anything worth having is worth working for”
and “we’re so proud of you”.
From knowing three chords
and sharing each and every one with my Girl Scout troop
on the long bus trip from Houston to San Antonio in the spring of 1972.

I am from Amazing Grace, In The Garden, and Take Me Home Country Roads.

I’m from the valley beneath the Roanoke star,
climbing in and out of ancient railroad cars at the Transportation Museum,
and returning to Roanoke now only for weddings and funerals.

From visiting Virginia Tech with my dad as a child
as he said “This is where you’ll take math”,
from seeing his photograph with the class of 1960
hanging in the building where I got the highest grade in the class
in 5-hour thermo,
and from moving my own son into Eggleston dorm
just like his grandpa of the same name.

I am from sharing the music and passing on the vision.
I stood on the shoulders of some really tall men and women to reach the top shelf.
And I know that the best things are sometimes found buried in the cupboard down below.


Viqui for president . . . said nobody ever

Viqui for president? Well, maybe not. But I really would like to cast my vote for the candidate who upholds my values and beliefs about what’s good for the country.

But really, that’s too much to ask. The only person who upholds all of my personal values and all of my personal beliefs is me. And sometimes, it isn’t even me, because I tend to change my mind from time to time depending on the circumstances.

This post is in response to a petition circulating among the Mennonite community, asking believers to pledge not to vote.  http://www.voterwitness2012.org/

I think it’s just dumb.

First of all, we don’t vote for our God. Choosing a God doesn’t work that way.

Second of all, elected officials are . . . well . . . elected. That means some of us have to vote for them. Some of us have to vote.

I have to admit, I love the electoral process. Choosing a candidate forces me to examine my own heart. I have to listen to all the nice speeches and surf the websites and really listen to both sides. I have to question the positions and decide if I agree.

Then I have to make some kind of decision about who I am and what I believe. I’m going to like some things about both sides and dislike some things about both sides. And then I’m going to have to parse out the real differences and set priorities.

It’s a lot of work to do that much soul searching. I can hear it in the words of my fellow citizens as they react to the speeches and counterpoint. We get angry. We get defensive. We get afraid. We also get happy and feel proud. It’s quite an emotional ride, this election process.

So I’m going to ask you to join me in this journey. Let’s do the hard work of research and self examination. Let’s find out who we are and what’s really important. Let’s choose a candidate and let’s get out and vote.

And after the election, let’s reform as a community and do the difficult work of forgiveness. Let’s celebrate and grieve. Let’s reconcile. Let’s live together.

C’est La Vie (You Never Can Tell)

Mountain Patch

Mountain Patch

This is the story of a gig that seemed to have gone horribly wrong but actually went right.

It was July 1st, 2012, two days into the “Derecho” power failure. The temperature was reaching a daily high of close to 100, with high humidity. At our house we had no power, which meant we had no running water and no air conditioning. We were tired, hot, dirty, and very very grouchy.

We were playing an open mic at a club in West Virginia. The crowd was sparse, mostly other refugees from the heat. They sat huddled around the bar. I couldn’t see their faces or even hear them react to our music. My husband spent his breaks (musicians get breaks) in his truck with the air conditioning running, getting a few minutes of sleep in that nice cool place. My son spent the gig counting the minutes until we could start packing up and leave. I thought we were bombing.

We played the gig. Our friends showed up to play with us. Great friends and great music. Still no reaction from the club patrons, but by that time I had decided that it didn’t matter. If this wasn’t the place for us, we’d just do the gig and get paid, and never come back.

After the gig, several of the folks came up to talk as we packed up our stuff. As they came up to talk, I realized that I got it all wrong.

The patch at the beginning of the story came from a guy named John. He shared with me that he had just returned from the conflict in the middle east. Before he left, he had been an avid guitar player and he had played every day. But due to his injuries he was no longer able to play. I could not guess his injuries because he looked fine to me, but as he talked my heart went out to him and I wondered what kind of wound would keep a person from enjoying the joy of music.

So he asked me for my guitar pick, and I handed it to him, and thanked him for his service. He thanked me and went away, then came right back with the Mountain patch in his hand. John told me he wanted me to have it in return for the guitar pick and for the music. He said our music made him happy and that maybe he’d try to play again. And he wanted me to have the patch. His patch, his souvenir of a sacrifice that took away his music.

So that’s the story of a gig that wasn’t really bad, despite what it seemed to me at the time. Let’s quote Chuck Barry and EmmyLou Harris for the title of this one: “C’est la vie say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.”

Jail IDs

Jail IDs are not a form of ID recognized by ABC