Day 1: November 8
Feather River Highway stunningly winds alongside Feather River on the way from Chico, CA to Quincy, CA, way up in the mountains in Plumas County. This time of year, the leaves are all yellow, which is breathtaking against a blue sky. You have to see it to believe it. It was with a lot of excitement that we traveled this route on Day 1 of our Quincy Artists in Residence. Last time we did this drive I was having a rare and weird anxiety attack so I missed everything. Jesse heroically drove the windy roads, aware of our lateness, holding my hand as I sat with my head between my knees, and he just kept telling me to breathe. That day in April of last year, we arrived just in time to set up and play, were treated like royalty, had a wonderful show, and fell in love with this extraordinary little town. One thing led to another, and now we’re here, doing another AiR in one of the most beautiful and welcoming places on earth. The radio spot we did before our show was one of the most fun and satisfying in our experience, and the show itself was again a special one. Almost every audience member came up to us after the show with a hug or a kind word or a generous offer. Looks like we’ll be treated to dinner and breakfast a few times, as well as to some massages, and a unique tour of our surroundings by a local forester. People are amazing. It will be a real pleasure to meet people and hear their stories about Quincy - stories we hope to incorporate into a new piece of music. And to step into this town for a week. What else? Aside from one more show up here, at a tasting room in Graeagle tonight, we’re here to work on our new album, create a song inspired by this town, and I’m not gonna lie. We’ll probably watch a few episodes of BBC’s Sherlock. Our new favorite show. My other goal is to shake this cold that has been hanging on since the first of the month. I’m grateful to get sick so rarely. I’m grateful that we haven’t had to cancel a show and that our schedule is such that we have the ability to rest as needed. But I’m done experimenting with this cold, OK Universe??
Day 2: November 9
I feel great. I love this life. I love it that it’s my “job” to share love. And I not only do this through music but also with the energy healing work I do. I’m thinking about this now because I’m doing a week-long series of distance healing sessions with a friend who is experiencing some dis-ease, and he’s responding so well, and it makes me feel connected to him and fills me with the most incredible, humming, expansive feeling of LOVE. I’m so excited to experience him tapping into his own healing abilities. As a channel of healing energy, my philosophy is that everything that comes through in a session is drawn in by the client - I’m merely an antenna, an amplifier, a translator. It is so fulfilling to cheer someone on, encourage them in their self-healing and reflect back to them how empowered they are. And I think this isn’t so different from the music. At last night’s show, people were again aglow. Somehow, there is a transfer of energy that seems to enliven folks. It’s beyond the words, although sometimes the words bring people inspiration - maybe it’s a memory of something in their life, or the reminder of how amazing they are in their wholeness, all of which has nothing to do with us. The audience appears to receive the music, the harmonic vibrations, the message, the energy, and it brings them back to themselves, and it brings them back to pure joy. Someone at the show apologized for the small audience. Wow! We so don’t think in those terms. We got so much more out of that small show than we did performing for thousands at Summer fests earlier in the year. And I have to state again how much I love small towns, as well as my tendency to fall in love with these places. “I could live here!” is my mantra, especially in these magical villages. Jesse chuckles. The reality is, as nomads we do live in these places. I’m a lucky lady to be able to live here in Quincy for a whole week. I’m feeling extraordinarily grateful.
Day 3: November 10
There’s a nice rhythm here as it relates to the whole of our life. As much as I enjoy eating out, I love that I can cook each day here, eating homemade meals. I love that I can catch up on booking work from the comfort of our cozy bed, babying myself through this cold. I love that Jesse and I can work side by side, me on the business and he on mixing some music, while we’re simultaneously soaking up this town and allowing creative ideas to percolate. I love how the stage manager at the theater where we played on Friday heard my call for a humidifier and dropped one off hours later. Ask and it is given! And tonight was a real blessing - a delicious, nourishing meal, enjoyed in the company of a bunch of new friends, eaten with fun and love and appreciation. Followed by an impromptu jam session that left one new friend saying, “Music is fun to play again!” In this month of thankfulness, I am fairly overflowing.
Day 4: November 11
11/11, a magical day indeed! We’ve become quite the social butterflies here in Quincy. In the morning we met up with Sheri, who gave me a gift certificate for a massage. Thank you, Sheri! We met her at a coffee shop, which was open for a few hours even though it was Veteran’s Day. She brought her friend Joe Willis along, who teaches numerous earth and physical sciences and has many interesting stories to tell. He has a blog called Black Oak Naturalist and he leads hikes in the area. What a cool guy! He was telling us about a class he will be teaching at the college on Wednesday that will focus on women nature writers and he said something like, “I wish you guys could come and play a few of your nature-oriented songs for my students…” Well, why not? We were all in when he said there would be a hike involved. So that will comprise a little chunk of our Wednesday, and I’m excited about it. What else today? I had a two-hour phone conversation with my high school friend Alix, during which I walked all around town, circling around and back around again. It was great to talk to her, and for such a long time! Back at the “ranch” I did more booking work, lined some things up, crossed some things off of my list. It felt good. Now I’m back in bed after having gone to the regular Monday night jam at a restaurant in town called Pangaea - what I understand to be a quintessential Quincy experience - or should I say Quincy-sential? I must admit I’m exhausted. There are numerous possible reasons for this, but my heartbeat quickens when I consider one possibility - this was our first month trying to conceive, and today marked the end of the 2 week waiting period. In other words, I usually start my period today, usually like clockwork, and I didn’t. It’s far too early to jump to conclusions, but the possibility is there, and it is an intense feeling to think it might have already happened, might have happened so quickly. It feels weird to blog about it, but it’s what’s up for me right now, and I figure nobody reads this anyway - ha! So with a warm feeling, I settle in to release this day into the next. Joyfully.
Day 5: November 12
Whoa. I can’t remember the last time I felt so exhausted. What a day! It started with a walk under beautiful gray skies to Patti’s Thunder Cafe in downtown Quincy. We met forester Mike De Lasaux there, as well as his friend John, and we all enjoyed a delicious, hearty breakfast at this hippie enclave. It established itself as such many years ago, as the nutty granola contingent, with its conservationist ideas and longing for a simpler life, settled into the traditional logging town. It’s positioned on Lawrence, a one-way street, and there’s an interesting metaphor at work. On Main Street, the other one-way street that goes in the opposite direction, there is (or at least used to be - I couldn’t find it with a Google search) Bob’s Fine Foods, a haven for the loggers and “the old guard”. These factions have been adversaries for a long time, and their problems and sagas are many and complex. Mike De Lasaux is a man who wants very much to see that gap bridged, through a widening of perspective that might result from a thorough and compassionate education about the many facts and some meaningful dialogue. His mission today was to give us a nuanced picture of what is happening here within the wider context of the town’s (and county’s) history. It’s no simple matter, and if there was one overarching thing we took away from the day, it was that. The day-long adventure, which can (however inartfully) best be described as a tour and nature walk with a focus on the ecological and utilitarian aspects of forestry, included a drive past the big mill and surrounding countryside where we were able to see examples of the various forestry/logging practices up close. Mike’s passion and heart are so big that it was really wonderful doing this with him as a guide. We learned a lot about the ins and outs of some of the larger issues here - namely the forest fires that have become increasingly problematic since the early 90s (and the reasons for this), the forestry practices and how they impact the industry and the ecosystem, various problems faced by those who work within an industry that is losing its infrastructure, and… well, I feel ill-equipped to speak intelligently on the matter. I might ask Mike for a good link or book recommendation because I think these are fascinating and important issues for everyone to know about, and not in some lame, one-dimensional way. That’s what I really like about Mike - his knowledge is so vast and he cares so much, but he’s not black and white about things and you can tell he really wants people to get over their limited thinking and to come together to create solutions that work for the whole community. And these are all things we learned about as we drove to our trailhead about 45 minutes outside of town. When we arrived we hiked for about 5 miles in varied terrain, and along the way learned more about forestry, about the different tree and shrub species, about some of the wildlife, and a little about Mike, too. I was so exhausted that I felt a bit wimpy and that was kind of embarrassing. I usually pride myself on my strength and endurance, and it was just hard. But it was so gorgeous and interesting, and when we reached the middle of our hike at a lovely little… lake? pond?… the clouds finally began to disperse and the sky was a pretty vivid blue underneath. The hike back to the car was much easier, and even though we traveled the same trail to return, we saw many new things - a patch of snow, a large felled tree - things we’d missed on our way in somehow. Isn’t perspective interesting? On the drive back I was really fading despite my interest in everything we were talking about, which included some more about the landscape, ideas for places we might play in the future, some town member’s responses to the High Sierra Music Festival, and a discussion about extreme weather in the world. Back in Quincy, we parted ways with big hugs. Such a likeable person, that Mike De Lasaux! I feel lucky to have spent the day with him. Both Jesse and I took a brief nap on our return and then I got up to have my massage. A glorious thing after a hike! And now we’re here in the bedroom of the place where we’re staying, hunkered down with our separate projects - Jesse doing some music editing, me working on (surprise!) more booking. It’s not even 8:30 and it feels like midnight. Filled with new knowledge, ideas and feelings, I’m ready to rest.
Day 6: November 13
For no other reason than pure exhaustion, this might end up being my shortest post so far during this AiR. I’ve finally decided it must be the altitude here causing the weariness. EPT says I’m not pregnant, so that can’t be it. I’m over my cold for the most part (yay!) so that’s not it. A bit of a mystery. Nonetheless, life is good. Joining in on the class at Feather River College today was great. It’s amazing to me that Jesse and I can speak to the very issues that are being discussed in a nature course of all things. I mean, it’s no secret that we’re nature lovers, but I didn’t fully expect this to be quite the match that it turned out to be. It’s going to seem very mundane as I describe it now, but I assure you it wasn’t. The class, though small, was diverse in many ways and filled with interesting students with fantastic perspectives and compelling observations. They had a lot of questions about our lifestyle, our philosophy and our overall perspective. The feedback we received was really heartening - namely that what we hoped was true IS true - that in shining forth our own joy and passion, we touch others in meaningful ways, and perhaps offer inspiration to follow their passion and give permission to do so. Now that may seem obvious, but sometimes it just seems like lip service. But the experience today was in every way genuine. Simply by being who we are and sharing our experience, we had an impact that was not insignificant. I can’t explain it, but there you have it. Perhaps Joe will comment out there on his blog and I can repost it here. He undoubtedly has the energy and insight that I lack at this yawn-y moment. Joe? Are you out there? Send me your take on the afternoon, will you? The day ended with a brief hike that brought us to a beautiful vista. Ach - there’s so much to say but I just don’t have it in me! I’m so thankful to Joe and Joan and all the fabulous students who participated today. It/they even caused me to have a little education itch. I always love learning and imagine myself to be the sort of person who is always soaking up knowledge in one way or another, but today I felt the distinct, crisp love of academia welling up in me. It felt good!
Day 7: November 14
By the time we reached the final day of this AiR, we were ready for a break! There has been so much activity during this particular residency - unbelievable! And that’s one of the wonderful things about these adventures, because they’re always distinctly different. I love it! The highlight of a day that was a blur of booking and finalizing some creative work was going with Erin Roth, a local DJ we became friends with, to some little hot springs outside of Quincy. Connected to a trailer park with rental cabins owned by a wonderful lady named Rocki is a little path that runs down to the river. Beside the river, overlooking a great forested hillside, is a cement tub ever-filling with deliciously sulphurous water. Completely natural, the sides are delightfully slimy with greenish something-or-other, and getting in is in every way a feast for the senses. The sensation of the water, the smell of it, and of the river and forest beyond, the yummy sweetness of the fruit Erin brought to snack on, and the glorious night sky, opening up to us as it grew later, with an almost-full moon like a spotlight on the countryside… And the stars! I saw a meteor, the largest and most brilliant one I’ve ever seen, streak across this starry sky. It was truly magical, and as the ending to our time here, the equivalent of a firework show finale. Thank you, Quincy. We are in love.