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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Shelter in Place - week 1

It's been a strange week at Lake Wobegon.  Woops!  Wrong lake, Michigan's a pair of peninsulas surrounded by Lakes  Huron, Michigan, Erie, and, above our Upper Peninsula, Lake Superior, but it has been a most unsuala week.  On March 23 I posted this on my Facebook page (which is public and open to all to see)
Michigan's governor cancelled as of midnight tonight all activities not necessary to sustain or protect life. .  This, combined with all the other uncertainty, has made 3 (so far) programs rescheduled. I never put a cancellation clause in my Letter of Agreement. My flexibility is something I offer. (One of those cancellations would have had me drive up to Lakeview for live streaming. They have a grant and we'll reschedule, but this made the trip impossible.) I also value the flexibility storytelling allows in how it can be presented. We'll work together yet to have some High Times once we get past these current crazy Dry Times, just trust this Prohibition doesn't last as long as Prohibition did.
LoiS(urely we can all drink to that...with mocktails or otherwise!)

In the meantime I've been doing as much as I can related to our local area trying out the same idea we've seen coming from Italy with people singing.  We have a local site called NextDoor that covers a lot of territory.  A topic popped up called "Play music each night at 6pm."  I said: I'd love to do this, but we're high up on a bunny slope of a hill in a neighborhood where none of us are near enough to hear.

A member, Angela, suggested: 
Since we all have acreage and the houses are not near each other, we gather at my moms house (5 houses away from mine). My mom stays on her porch, some stand in the yard, some in the driveway. (social distancing). We sing the song on the day, chat/catch up for 5 minutes, tell everyone we love and miss them and then we all go back home.❤️

O.k. I wish I had seen it in time to do "Amazing  Grace" since my favorite musical instrument is the mountain dulcimer, but I started the next day when the song was "Sweet Caroline."  My reply was:
Guess the end of our driveway works. Need to find lyrics & possible chords &/or dulcimer tab as I'd like that, but a capella would probably be easier than guitar or dulcimer standing there. UPDATE: Fairly complicated song. Only guitar tab available, but folks might find a search worthwhile including that there are 2 stories about how it came to be. As a storytelling friend of mine, Loretta Vitek, uses as a signature at the end of her emails: There's always a story; it'd be a shame not to tell it!

Here's what happened:
No other driveways had singers, but I started anyway. Along came a jogging couple. She smiled & waved & I did, too. They kept jogging (not necessarily a review on my playing & singing, but confess I came darned near tears & became slightly choked up -- hey, I'm a storyteller, not a musician!)

Side comment here, that's always my standard excuse since I sometimes say I play like an Oriental Rug where there's always a flaw in it.  (The idea, I'm told, is the same as with the Amish -- proving the maker isn't claiming deity.)  

The next day the song was Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" which let me use my preferred instrument, the mountain dulcimer.  Two teenage boys came by, with one carrying a fishing pole from the nearby pond.  Can't say they were 6 feet apart, but maybe they were from the same family.  At any rate they did what teenagers do when they think grown-ups are crazy, irrelevant, or whatever. . . they ignored me.  Sang anyway and figured it was as much for me as for a possible eventual neighborhood event.

Thursday the song was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."  As with "Sweet Caroline", the only online information was for guitar, so that's what I prepared with what time I had between Zoom conferences and other things that needed doing.  Again YouTube let me know the song a bit better.  I'm a classical music lover, know lots of show tunes, and my musical playing these days is mainly folk music.  Got all ready only to come to the door with guitar and music in hand and stop!  It was raining!!!  No way was I going to take my precious instrument and play outside in the rain.  At least with my mountain dulcimer I could play it inside my car with the windows down or at least cracked open.  Once again I figured the playing or at least the preparation was for me.  I can understand the words offer encouragement.  (Muttering to myself: just wish it would stick with folk music.)  At least people in locations with porches could still play, just not my neighborhood. 

By the way WWJ radio, which posted that idea of Play Music on the Porch to Combat Coronavirus Fears said:
Play a song. That's it. Tonight's song will be posted at 8 a.m. every morning on our social media.
Play it loud and proud to spread the message. This isn't the end. We're together in this and we'll get through it.
Have a guitar? Play it. Can you wail? Let's hear it. Break out your high school band clarinet.
Hell, just step on your porch and wave at the neighbors so you feel like part of a community again.
Not a musical bone in your body? Hold up your phone with the song playing on itunes or You Tube.
Somehow I think it has all been worth it, just wish I had a longer time to prepare and the songs were less pop music, but then what do I expect, Beethoven's Fifth?  That would be what I hear on my radio.

Right now I'm sure we all would like  reason to smile and here's my favorite Beethoven story.

While strolling through the Währing cemetery in Vienna a tourist noticed a large hole in the ground.  Looking closer he saw steps leading down into the earth.  He decided to see where they went.  Down, down he went until he saw a bit of candlelight ahead.  Going to it he was surprised to see Beethoven himself, surrounded by papers, and scratching away on them.  The tourist asked, "What are you doing?"  To which a grumpy Beethoven replied "Decomposing of course!"

Stop that groaning!  Let's take our humor however we can find it.

On Friday I felt as grumpy as old Ludwig himself.  The song was our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."  All right there are lots of good stories about that song, but I knew I'd be singing it a capella.  Then when 6 rolled around the national briefing was just beginning.  I hate settling for a selection of what was said, rather than seeing the whole thing and making my own decisions about it.  Instead I sent a grumpy comment to the radio station.  No, I didn't state my preference for type of music, just how it went out in the "boonies" where I live and that the timing might be the reason there haven't been more people out at 6.  

I know one size never fits all and this week's "Shelter in place" is bound to be different in all types of locations.  For my family I phoned some special girls and told them two stories to match their requests.  My favorite mermaid tale was posted way back on March 12, 2014, the first of three stories presented here and collected by Thomas Crofton Croker of Irish stories.  The other story was requested to be spooky.  Again I chose my favorite and it, too, is Irish.  I'm still searching for a Public Domain version to give here, but so far I've only been able to find "Mary Culhane and the Dead Man" in the 1973 book by Molly Bang with the fairly innocuous sounding title of The Goblins Giggle and Other Stories.  The title is misleading.  Finally I guided them in making a story using bits they contributed.  An appointment was made for next Friday and I suggested they help their mother with their school work since "she's been out of school a long time!"  Then I gave them all a bit of an extra assignment in Government, saying we've been hearing their working on school from home might not help them move to the next grade and/or they might have to go to school in the summer to make it up!  Suggested they look up their Michigan State Senator and State Representative (not their U.S. Senators and Representative) and request something be done to avoid these problems, possibly by testing out of their grade.  Of course I also mentioned the many stories to be found here!

Beyond all of this, I'm grateful for that Executive Order allowing me to walk my Beast, a "Malamutt" who's got the best of the genetic background for a Malamute and a Siberian Husky.  The other day we were still able to hike that golf course I mentioned last week at the introduction to the story of "The Coming of Spring."  We were parallel to the nearby road with the leafless trees & bushes forming a separation.  Two women walking apart were picking up trash on the road.  Saw my boy and shouted across how gorgeous he is.  He always gets those comments from "his fans" when he's seen.

Even with "Shelter in place" it's amazing how many cars passed us on the dirt roads Friday.  (The traffic is precisely why that golf course is so appreciated.)

And now to close with these words of wisdom found on the internet:
"If you self-quarantine for your family's safety, please be smart. I can't afford to buy fifteen baby shower presents in December."

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