To recap the week:
Last Saturday: I arrive at the Wild Basin benefit in a billionaire’s backyard. He has a real castle on top of the hill, with secret passageways, and a full sized pirate ship on the lake. There are about 35 little cottages, some up in trees, down by the water, and I performed on an exact replication of Shakespeare’s theatre, complete with fire burning torches placed just so on wooden beams supporting an open air roof. People are milling about eating samples from local area restaurants under groovy, giant tents….and there is wine a-flowing! Someone asks me (actually, almost EVERYONE asks me!), “Would you like me to get you a glass of wine?’ And I have to keep laughing that it would be a bad idea, but thank you. This is me after a few sips of wine: Hysterical laughter over jokes I find unbelievably funny, say, like your grocery list…and then ZONK! I’m asleep. Not good for stage.
I have a blast! I jump out on stage (after a very, very, verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry long set by an authentic string group playing lutes and zithers and quiet percussion….I thought they were just warming up, waiting for sound check, but then the woman running the back stage area comes up and asks me how to politely get them off the stage. I give her the finger across the throat sign. “Stand out in front of the stage and do this, ” I say, my finger slowly slicing off my head. “Ah,” she says, “Of course.” I nod and say, “They’ll understand, no matter what century they are from.” I have a new friend.
So, the Very Quiet Band Who Looked Very Serious leaves the arena and it’s my turn and whoo! A superb intro from a lovely newscaster via KXAN and my dear friend, Lily, who is 5 1/2 years old and looks like she is from Norway. White hair and big blue eyes and a happy heart. Such a joyous spirit! The newscaster asks Lily over the microphone, “How do you know Sara?” and Lily says, “She’s a singer!” Ha ha. That kills me! I thought she’d say from church!
Now, this stage is about 8 feet ABOVE the audience, all snuggled into raw, wooden benches (remember: Shakespearean times here), and there is a balcony waaaaaaaaaaaaaay above me, again, lit by real torches. And there is a bright spotlight knocking my eyes outta-sight, so I can’t see diddly-squat, so what do I do? I become a STRUMPET, yes, indeed, I do, I do. Because, had I known, I woulda come out on stage with me friends pushed up to the stratosphere in a corset and long skirts and laced up boots and we woulda had a good time, now, wouldn’t we? (All said in an Olde English accent, ye see.) Or did I sound like a Pirate?
An English Pirate Strumpet? Ah, who can say!
So, I’m jamming, I’m laughing, my teeth are reaching for the stars, my smile was so big, my energy so bursting with love and joy and enthusiasm. The crowd was hilarious….we bonded instantly and a perfect evening. A man named John jumped on stage with me and almost ripped his shirt off, he was so into the vibe! And then, Little Lily comes back on stage with me at the end and dances a dance of unbelievable danciness, the crowd went wild! One of those nights where you go to bed extremely happy.
SATURDAY NIGHT after performance: I make it out to my van, in complete darkness (the man owns acre after acre of land), and just as I’m about to head off, a man in a tie-dye shirt approached my passenger side and asks if I’m Sara, and I say, “Yup” and “Hop on in” and he tells me he is a nudist, a new fan of mine, and can he get my autograph. So, he has the “Naked” calendar (wasn’t that a nice segueway he gave me?) and I sign, “I celebrate your nakedness” or something like that.
I drive on (minus the nudist) back home; I’ve forgotten my cell phone. I have to drive way out near Marble Falls, it’s 9 pm at night,
and there will be lots of empty backroads. (I want my phone! I always think of Dan Akroyd and A. Brooks in the remake of “The Twilight Zone” and what happens on that long dark road.)
I make it to Marble Falls….Lance and the girls have arrived earlier in the day. We are spending the night in a cute cottage on the property of Candlelight Ranch. It is owned by a fantastic couple, the Barrs, and it hosts children every year who have cancer, disablilities, or any other life challenges. They have 164 acres, horses, swimming, a giant treehouse (fantastic! and we get to come back and sleep there sometime, too!), canoeing, you name it.
SUNDAY We wake up and head over to the main house for some breaky (breakfast), although no one is really hungry because my neighbor, Emily, gave us a box of donuts the day before, so we all wake up and consume donuts. Mmm. And cold milk. The cottage is decorated in red, white and blue….Texas flags! It is so cozy, our temporary little home away from home!
We head down to the lake. Lily wants to swim. We get down to the water and realize there is no ladder to get back up on the boat dock, and once anyone is in the water, there is really no place to swim because the far side of the lake is rocks and mud. Lily wants to get in; no one else does. Finally, I say, I’ll get in and take off my bra and shoes. One, two, three! Lily and I hold hands and SPLASH! The water is perfect! Kinda mucky looking, but the temp is just right. Ahhhhhh. We are chatting and swimming in circles; Lance and io have walked up a hill and are looking at a red canoe and flowers.
Suddenly, I see a snake swimming towards us! “Lance,” I holler, “Lance, snake in the lake. Come get us!” I’m trying to holler calmly, so as not to upset Lily, or upset the snake, of course. Lance bounds down with io and Lily is out first, then me. The snake has positioned itself between the boat dock and an attached floating thing. We are all very intrigued by the snake….we watch it for almost thirty minutes. It is so beautiful. Lily says it is a water moccasin.
io has a runny nose. Lance reaches over to wipe it away. I feel a song coming on, and start chanting (in a very Winnie the Pooh sort of way):
Snakes and sticks and snot
It’s the morning that we’ve got
Snakes and sticks and snot
Who can complain?
Soon, we are all walking around in red clay mud and rocks and chanting this song over and over, with Lance always saying (in an Eyore kind of way), “I can” right at the end. Then we all crack up and start singing it again.
We find some tracks. We’ve been very into tracking over the last few years. We identify a raccoon, several deer and bird feet.
The mud is perfect, not too squishy, not too hard. We see the animals have come to drink from the lake; some of them, the deer, have a baby in tow. Great morning find.
The day wears on….we shower and dress and get ready for the afternoon festivities. All women musicians playing at today’s benefit concert…I go on after Toni Price. It’s a relaxing day today, the sun is high and it’s hot out….people are walking around, eating fajitas and checking out the silent auction items. Everyone has on shorts and big smiles. I fall asleep on a couch in a family house; the girls have found friends are are running around playing tag, occassionally stopping to draw at a giant, old oak desk. Lily teaches her new friends how to make fortune tellers. When I wake up, I find the chocolate chip cookie stash in the freezer. Oh, they are so tasty, frosty cold homemade cookies! Perfect on a day like today.
Finally, my turn to perform. I’ve enjoyed watching the other women (when I wasn’t napping); a fourteen year old girl who sounds like Reba with her dad (?) playing guitar; Willie Nelson’s daughter, Paula (missed her, during my nap): Barbara and her husband, Kevin (missed them, too, dagnab it…I was tired!) and Toni….caught they last half of her rootsy, gyspy, bluesy honkin’ fairy fun….She has a huge flower in her long mermaid hair. My guitar, my dear comrade of my entire life, and yet my newest friend (only my third week to have this baby)…we haul up to the mic and start to play. The crowd is very gentile compared to last night’s robust hunger for antics, and I respond, quietly, in kind. However, that lasts about three songs and I can no longer contain myself…soon, I have everyone up from their folding chairs, here, under the beautiful outdoor ampitheatre, complete with a stone fireplace and view of the hill country, here I have them up and dancing and singing along. To be in nature, full of chocolate chip cookies and a swimmy head full of snakes and naps and Texas flags and my love of family. It is a fantastic time.
THE WEEK Finish re-mixes, do a V.O. on a “Dump the Pump” commercial for the Austin bus system, do a ton of laundry, clean house, start licensing music for new cd (this is a load of work, but interesting), talk with the artist who will be creating the painting for MOTHERLODE, teacher conference for Lily (they now know to have a box of Kleenex handy…I get so verklempt with love and pride!), work on more art for the upcoming school carnival (I’m creating probiscis monkeys and swordbill hummingbirds and cake walk decorations and a rain forest back-drop for photos…fun!), get my hair cleaned up (finally), meet with Hali and Sarah and Glyn and Deena about a big convention performance next May (super fun morning….we eat lemon cake and have hot tea and laugh our asses off…Glyn is from England, so you know we bridged the communication gap talking about the strumpet party); Vic and Reba Heyman come in for the SWFolk Alliance, and I get to see them for breakfast at Curra’s and I love them so very much….they are down to earth and smart and funny and just great to hang out with. We talk about everything you can imagine….most particularly, our waiter, who is most peculiar. I ask for hot tea, and he says they don’t have hot tea. Reba says, “I have a tea bag in my purse,” so the water says he’ll bring me hot water. Which he does. In a tall DRINKING GLASS, and as he places it on the table, he says, “Watch out. That glass is hot.” And walks away. And we wonder: why not a teapot? Or a coffee mug? We are puzzled by this. I ask him for a mug (and creme), and it arrives. That was just the start of weirdness. We ask for bacon on the side. It comes chopped to bits in a tiny bowl. We ask for a side of fried bananas. We get warmed up bananas on a platter with melted butter and RUM. Ok, there you have it. Bizarro world in Austin!
Vic and Reba come home with me to relax and read while I fold laundry….I love having them in my sitting room, the morning sun
reaching around their shoulders with comfort. I love being still with people. (Stop it. I hear you laughing. I do.)
Last night was PLAYLAND Skate night for our school, so the girls and I meet Lance at Playland, and skate and skate and skate and skate! We do the Hokey Pokey, we do the Limbo. All the girls are on the rink for “Girls Only”, and I am whizzing around with Lily holding one hand and our friend, Elise, in the other and I feel like I am flying. I am so deliriously happy. The music is a big, mushy, overproduced love song, but it is working it’s charm on me. Everywhere, there is this music, and the girls are laughing, and I am going round and round with their sweet hands in mine and the colored lights make everything heavenly. I feel like I will burst, I have never felt so much joy! Later, we have slushes and take pix in the photo booth and I win Lance a green goblin toy out of the Claw; he’s fallen and bruised his arm, so I want him to have a soft something to hold while he sits with his ice pack.
We buy some glow sticks…blue and purple. They are so pretty. The girls have them on strings around their neck; I love going our school and all the parents and the kids and the glow sticks remind me of ET’s finger and how he says, “I’m right here….”
That’s how I feel: RIGHT HERE.
On the way home, with the girls in the backseat, swinging their glow sticks, we get pulled over by a police officer. Actually, two seperate units. Those ding-dang lights they have are terrifying. Incredibly bright and blinding and they make me feel like I’ve done something horrible, just by the intensity of their ray. Then the cop sidles up to the side of my car like I’m a bandit. I just want to lean out and holler, “Cut it out! I’m a MOM, for God’s sake!” But I know better. Another story.
Anyway, I tell the girls I am frightened, which I shouldn’t have, because then Lily is worried I will be taken to jail. The officer gives me a ticket. I ask, “Don’t you guys give warnings anymore?” And he says the traditional “No, ma’am”…
All the glow from our sweet evening together has been sucked instantly from our car. The night seems really heavy and dark and we feel very alone and I put on my strong-as-nails mommy face on and turn and tell the girls everything is ok.I’m holding LIly’s foot in my hand. Lily is crying, now, as the officer walks off, back to his car. I lean out the window and wave my hand, signaling for him to come back.
I say,”Could you please reassure my daughter I am not going to jail?” And he walks around the car and opens the door (!!!) and tells the girls he’s a good guy and he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt and that Mom isn’t going to jail, no one’s going to jail, he just wants to see smiles, see? He’s closest to io, who isn’t saying a word, and in the dark, I have turned and I am with them, right there, and Lily is sort of smiling through tears, and we tell the officer “thank you”. It felt unnatural.
We get home and Lance is worried; how did he get home before we did? I tell him we got pulled over and he gives me a hug and then Lily and I head to the bathroom where I show her how to fix her blister (which she does by herself, proudly, and with curiousity) and we clean it with medicine and decide no band-aid, so the blister can fade away in the night.
Now, this morning, I am packing for a show with SW Airlines tonight and SMU tomorrow night and the State Fair (family fun!) on Sunday. And the day is very cold; we wore jackets and scarves on our walk to school this morning. io actually wore gloves, too!
And I have to decide the final sequence of the songs for the new album, and it is hard. But the time has come and so I’ll squeeze in some time before the flight because I’ll only have Monday, again, to make sure I like my decisions, and then, Tuesday….and Tuesday is the day of mastering the record. (Or “CD” , as you kids call it nowadays….)
Until next time, I am wishing you snakes and sticks and snot and the morning that you’ve got.
You know who