Summertime Sousa

an early bit of art by me

Have I mentioned how much I love being back on the island? While tending to our baby ducks this evening we suddenly heard a Sousa march resounding through the air, followed by applause.  We realized that a concert was taking place in the park, so headed on out to it.

Turns out that the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band was performing. This group is delightful — in non-matching band uniforms (the uniforms come from many different high schools and colleges), and playing seated — no marching at all.  They even have a sedentary drum majorette who performs (as their website accurately says) “performs stunning feats of seated baton-twirling”.

My husband and I both performed in marching bands in high school (and, in my case, one year in college), so many of the tunes were oh so familiar.  I wanted to grab my clarinet (long gone), or heck, even my oboe (I didn’t march with it, but I do recall playing some Sousa marches on oboe during concert band season).  Of course memories of band camp, all the parades, playing for football games and executing half-time routines all rushed back.  Back in my 20s I’d wanted to get away from all the ‘typical” performance music of my high school and university music  programs (marching band music, pops, classical ….)  But suddenly I realize that high school marching bands are a dwindling expression.  I find myself thinking, gosh, if I lived in Ballard I’d seriously consider playing in the Sedentary Sousa Band!

I found I even wanted to wear one of those love ’em/hate ’em band uniforms (in high school I’d been so proud to wear them, but I hated how hot they got.  And  I hated those spats!).

Anyway,  I find myself mystified and amused by the passage of time … the strange mingling of worlds here on the island, as my past, present, and some shimmering unseen future meet ….

1977 - We got new band uniforms in my Sophomore year of high school... boy was I proud to wear it

Continuing The Voyage

It’s hard to know how to resume posting!  Our family now lives in our bermed home on some beautiful farmland.  We are now back in the community in which we’d lived for ten years before our three year wander via NE Oregon and the San Francisco Bay Area.

As I co-led The Celtic Pilgrimage workshop with Carol Spangler last Saturday I felt how my family has voyaged in these past three years, and how I continue to voyage in each new day in this place as we resume our community threads and root into a new place.

Much to write about the land, this unique and beautiful house, about the Celtic Pilgrimage and Celtic spirituality and how the poetry and depth of those expressions can help illuminate our ordinary lives, offering direction and potential that is like a homecoming to me who has journeyed in Celtic-inspired waters in various ways for several decades.   Perhaps it will feel that way to you too, or at least resonate with your own sense of vital imagery and guiding tale.  Story helps us realign our spiritual compasses, and so I will offering such to you in coming posts, to journey with as you will!

In the meantime please enjoy this art that I created for our workshop.  It is inspired by a Fonn (an ancient Gaelic chant) of the An Ceile De, an ancient Celtic spiritual order.  The fonn — and the artwork is —  “Caim Agus Corruch” — “Grace And Coracle”.    We are all pilgrims, wanderers journeying in each in the little boat of our selves, our own bodies.  In each moment we are all encompassed and sheltered and illumined by Grace.

As we journey through choppy waters, may we — like the peregrins, the wandering monks of the Celtic tradition — lift up our oars and learn to surrender to the compassionate hand of the Divine, and allow those spirit waters to guide us home.

Grace And Currach - Art By Jane Valencia

Pilgrimage In Your Own House

So, in a few short weeks I’ll be co-facilitating a workshop with my dear friend and colleague, Carol Spangler.  It’s entitled The Celtic Pilgrimage: A Daily Journey Into The Sacred, takes place on March 19 in Lacey, WA, and we’re both really excited about putting it together.

As the workshop date approaches I find myself reflecting on how any day can offer the opportunity for Pilgrimage ~ which for me, in this moment, means opening oneself to Mystery and surrender, and experiencing one’s life with new eyes, curious mind, open heart.

Yesterday, our movers took most of our things. Today we had planned to leave this house and head to a new chapter of our lives, up in Washington.  But snow threatens along the way, and anyway, our younger child is sick.  So here we are: our days empty, and my daughters and I are pretty much confined to our house.

On the face of it, it’s pretty depressing to be stuck in a mostly empty house, when all we want to do is get moving, get on with our lives, get on with completing a transition that has been on-going in some sense for the past three + years.

On the other hand, it’s just another opportunity to wriggle into the moment, and experience our everyday lives in the everyday setting of the past 1 1/2+ years in a cleansing emptiness.   What magic can we experience today?  What is opening already?

Last night my music partner, Deb, arrived with some of her furniture, and a couple of harps.  She and her partner are moving into this house, renting it from us.   Although the house is empty of most of my grandparents’ things at this point (they had it built in the ’30s, and it’s been in the family since then), Deb is keeping the old-fashioned painting and the large gilt mirror on the living room walls that have been there for more than 70 years.

Deb brought in some of her magic last night: harp art pictures, and various items that just take me to an enchanted cabin in the woods.  And so I find that the emptiness created by the movers taking everything away is now sprinkled with surprise – beautiful and fun things.  A few items that glow in the dark.

It is just as well that we aren’t ourselves moving right away.  Admit it to myself or not, I am exhausted.  Though our family knows this routine of packing up, moving, heading out ~ having repeated this process a few times in the past several years (and had all the boxes labeled and saved to help us) ~ it is just plain hard to move through the process.  Even though it has helped us learn well the lesson of living in and loving the present, of being flexible while also making choices.

We are moving to our passive solar home, though it is not yet completed.  It’s just as well that we are passing a few days here camping out in our own home, because we’ll be living an even more rustic life in our new house (the kitchen isn’t installed yet, though I think the wood stoves will be soon).   Of course we know how to live with a camp stove and no washing machine and how to sleep on floors,  but it’s nice to transition to that mode here, within a familiar framework, even as I cook solely with cast iron and a couple of pots ~ the pans and all the rest of the cookware off on their own journey.

I’m grateful that I kept a few of my medicinal herbs with me, and that we have a keyboard here (a friend’s) on which we can continue to make music.  As well as harps, chickens, and a few books.

Well, this is somewhat of a rambling, wandering post.  I’ll just finish off here, with a photo of our destination.  It just doesn’t seem real that what once was an idea, a dream that transformed into design, and then into the hard work of building (and navigating permits) is almost complete.  It just doesn’t seem real that the house works – the builders only use a very small space heater to help keep the place warm.  It just doesn’t seem real that we will soon be there.

Our passive solar bermed home