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Nov 20, 2003 23:00

I just returned from a trip to Santa Rosa to pick up Lonna at the airport there. She had taken a bus from the Oakland Airport. We had dinner in Santa Rosa and did some shopping at Home Depot. There is no Home Depot in Ft. Bragg, of course. There are two Ace Hardware and one True Value Hardware store in Ft.Bragg. The "little" hardware store as we call it, the True Value at the corner of Main (PCH) and Redwood Street, has everything as long as that thing has no appreciable size. Big stuff comes from Mendo Mill and Rossi's Home Center at the North end of town. Ft. Bragg is a community of about 6000 people, situated on the rugged Northern California (Mendocino) Coast. After 30 years of marraige, my wife and I have finally bought our first home.

We moved here on October 1st. The first day here seemed like a dream...a nightmare, actually. We didn't leave Hayward until really late, so we didn't arrive until about 6 AM - just as the sun was coming up. We had been driving for four hours, with the three cats. Our little girl, Chyna, was especially upset. We put all three cats in the living room, and closed the pocket doors. I don't remember if she was going out or coming in, but Lonna decided to use the front door - the direct door to the outside. As soon as she cracked it, Chyna was out like a spirit and running off down the road! She went up a private drive at the end of our orchard and then crossed into a private field. We followed her, calling her name, which just drove her farther away. Eventually she vanished into the weeds and was gone. That was six weeks ago, and we haven't seen her since. We put up some flyers and have even gotten some calls - but so far no sign of her. In fact, we have gone several times to see this one grey cat that hangs around the area near the high school. It isn't her. He brother (KC) went into shock the day she disappeared. He crawled onto the mantle and stared at us with big saucer eyes for a couple of days, refusing to eat, etc. After two days we took him out on the deck then left the front door open - let Cleo out as well. Both started adapting right away. Cleo really took to the place and got all happy on us. That has been tempered somewhat now that winter is coming on and it's getting colder at night.

We adopted a new cat a few weeks ago. We saw her at the adoption center at the PetSmart in Hayward the night we drove our second-to-last trailer load home from the old house. She reminds us of Chyna - the same size and general shape, daintieness, "girlyness". Sweet personality - more gregarious then Chyna was - not shy at all, in fact. We named her Chloe (short for Chlothilda - sort of Cleo inside out. She immediately bonded with the boy, who chases her around the property. She won't wrestle with him, unlike Chyna, but she plays with him, and he loves it.

I guess, since this is my first entry, I should describe the new place. It is in the country area just East of the City Limits. We live on a country lane, in a small (1200 sq. ft.) 1920's era farm house - THE farm house for this particular area. All the properties around us were originally carved out of a place called the Nurnberger Farm - this is the original farm house. It has a converted dairy barn, which now includes a two car garage, a large storage area, and a big workshop room. It sits on an "L" shaped plot of land of exactly 1 acre. It has an apple orchard, and a stand of redwood trees. We share part of a pasture with several neighbors. The house is a "fixer-upper", no doubt about it. We have sunk about $5000 into it this year already - just fixing plumbing problems, replacing electrical recepticals, buying fixtures, and paneling, general carpentry, etc. Also we are wallpapering and/or painting every room in the house. I took the last two weeks of October off for vacation, and worked my butt off from 8 AM until 9 or 10 PM every day for the entire two weeks.

I actually made one last trip to Hayward on my own with a trailer and picked up the rest of the plants, cleaned and closed the old house on Halloween as the kids were starting to trick or treat around the neighborhood.

So now we are here. Most of our belongings are still packed in boxes out in the barn - piled high in the garage and storage areas - but it is all here in Ft, Bragg. The workshop is together - I put in a temporary ceiling and paneled the walls - insulated, etc. I spared ALL expense, let me tell you. I replaced some windows with panes of plexiglass - using Marine Goop (a clear resin caulk that sets like glue but remains pliable like rubber) to "glaze" them into the frames. In two walls I used redwood planks as paneling, assembling it like a jigsaw puzzle. Then I used a faux maple paneling for the other two walls. My guitars cover the entire area paneled in redwood, and I am displaying all but a very few of them. Being able to use the walls from floor to ceiling means I can display about 45 guitars on the two walls. I have them positoned so as not to be visible from the front windows, which are covered with blinds in any case.

Our first big rain hit last Friday and immediately we sprung a leak in the corner of the livingroom near the fireplace. I ran outside to inspect the gutters, which I had cleaned out the day before. It turns out that the gutter near the fireplace was installed backwards. Instead of running the water off toward the ground, this one was plugged at the lower end so it just filled up and overflowed onto the exact point where the two rooflines met at that corner. So I repositioned the gutter as well as I could, and also diverted the spilling water using a heavy duty garbage bag that I tacked up under the eaves. Finally, I crawled into the attic, found the leak and spread some more of that Marine Goop (works underwater!) on the under side of the roof and also on the outside. It worked! The leak stopped immediately and hasn't returned through about 3 storms so far in the last week and a half.

I have had a few "unofficial" gigs at Headlands Coffeehouse since I came here. I performed on the October open mic (first Monday). There were only two other performers there, so I ended up playing for about a half hour. The host then invited me to perform on their monthly "Friends of Acoustic Music" program, two weeks later on Saturday. That night I met a drummer and a bassist, who I am still waiting to hear back from. Meanwhile, I did the November open mic. Then, on the 9th, Pierre and Cathy showed up - here from Colorado to look for a place to buy near Clear Lake. They stayed with us for a couple of days. The afternoon they arrived, I bundled Pierre into the car with a borrowed guitar (my 1935 Gretsch) and hustled him over to the coffeehouse. I had called the owner (Dave Gealey), who I have been working with for several years now (we would come here on vacation and I would book appearances at the coffeeouse), and asked if my friend and I could invade his venue for an impromptu show. He said, "Sure." So Pierre and I played a couple of sets and I thought it went over pretty well. The next morning we inaugarated the new studio as Pierre and I recorded about 2 1/2 hours of jam session.


December 10, 2003 23:00

I am writing this from Atlanta, GA. I traveled here on Monday (this is Wednesday) for an IKON U Learning Technologies group meeting. I found out on Friday that I am being moved back over to the Digital Express team, so this is also a chance to reconnect with my old team mates here. I was kicked off the team two years ago during a budget crunch and have been languishing at IKON University. Actually, the situation had improved dramatically in the last 6 months or so, after I was assigned to the LT team. I was actually beginning to feel a little more at home - but my "druthers" have always been to return to supporting the application I helped invent back in 1997 when I first joined IKON. Interestingly, John Gehlken, the "father" of DX left the company this summer, so I am the only remaining member of the original team. As such, I have achieved somewhat legendary status among DX folks and certainly feel a lot more respected than I ever did at IKON U.

We have been in Ft. Bragg now for almost 2 1/2 months. Winter is coming on and since there is no city gas service out our way, our main source of heat is a wood stove (a fireplace insert, actually) in the living room. I bought a cord and a half of oak firewood and keep the fire burning about 4 to 5 hours each evening in order to maintain a livable temperature. That also means that I have to regularly chop firewood. About three days a week I cut kindling, to keep a small supply available, then each day I split enough of the oak firewood to last for the evening. Some people in our neighborhood run their wood stove 24 hours a day - but I am not ready to go that far yet. We bought a couple of oil-radiator room heaters, which are very efficient and cheap to run. We keep one in Lonna's office and one in the living room to make my work environment tolerable. In the evening, I turn off the living room heater and fire up the stove. We'll see whether or not this scenerio will suffice as the weather gets colder. In any case, I enjoy the labor involved - I have always been rather proud of my skill at swinging an ax :-)


Feb 22, 2004 04:21

This weekend I performed for my first official musical engagement since Lonna and I moved to the Mendocino Coast back on October 2nd. I've played a couple of times at Headlands - Open Mics, a "Friends of Acoustic Music" show,and one Saturday afternoon when Pierre and Cathy came for a visit - but this was the first actual scheduled gig.

It was for a homeless benefit - an organization called The Ford Street Project put on a two night concert called "Voice for the Homeless". There were a dozen or so acts presented over the two nights. I opened the the show last night, then performed in the middle of the program this evening. I got on the program after reading an article in the local paper, then contacting the lady who organized the show.

I was originally scheduled to perform with a back-up band, but those arrangements fell through. I met a couple (a drummer and his bass player girlfriend) at Headlands a couple of months ago. We talked some and they agreed to call me in a couple of weeks and get together with me. I saw the drummer the next day at a local store, where he works, then I didn't hear from them for the next month or so.

In the meantime, I talked to another local bass player, who expressed interest in working with me, but said he was too busy right that moment, because his band was also going to be playing the concert, and they were rehearsing non-stop leading up to the gig.

I dropped by the store where the drummer worked a few weeks ago and asked about him. I was told that he had been preoccupied with a family crisis over the preceeding month, but that he would be back at the store the next day. So I went over there the next day and we immediately scheduled a rehearsal for the following Tuesday.

That Tuesday I showed up as planned and met the guitar player they worked with - a 40 year old "kid" who was quite talented, if a bit immature. We played around with some of their stuff - mostly Grateful Dead and similar "jam-band" material - then I introduced them to some of my songs. We clicked right away and I went away convinced that I had a band for the show. The only sour note was the bass player, who was pretty amateurish and not at all disciplined. Getting her to settle down and rehearse was like pulling teeth.

As the weeks went by, we rehearsed each Tuesday or Wednesday, and the situation with the bass player just got worse. Finally, last Wednesday night, I confronted her about her behaviour and told her that if she didn't buckle down, I would have to jettison the band and do the gig on my own. At first she seemed to take it to heart and we actually got through a couple of songs - then she just walked out of the room! When I tried to get her back, she started getting abusive. We argued, and I ended up storming out.

As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. I decided to play a solo acoustic set and took my Lyon & Healy oak parlor guitar along with my Gibson L-50. I used the flat top to open the show with a couple of my fingerpicked blues tunes, then switched to the Gibson for some jazz tunes and a cowboy song before going back to the flat top for the last two songs. I ran into Jammin'Gino - an old aquaintance from a previous visit to the Coast - and had him up to accompany me for the end of the set. It was a dynamite set - I got plenty of compliments on it. The event coordinator asked me to come back for the Saturday show (tonight) and I did two songs - My Mama Ain't Me, and Weary Rag, again with Gino on harmonica. The performance was a triumph - I met several local musicians - a fiddle player inquired about getting together with me, and also the leader of a local ensemble called the Big River Band took my card and said he'd call me.

My next gig is at Headlands this Monday. I hope to draw a little crowd - and Gino has promised to stop in and lend a hand. All in all, I feel like I have had a good introduction to the Mendocino Coast music scene.


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To comment on anything written here, please email me at Earl@Solie.org