Friday, September 9, 2011

Last day - stay on home, stay on home

Thursday morning -- how did we get here already?  The snooze button gets another workout.  Probably in part due to the previous night's wine and short sleep, but likely more due to not wanting to say goodbye.

Sylvi, of course, was patiently waiting for her posse.  We joined her for scrambled eggs and lots of coffee (I was obviously feeling better, as my coffee craving was back!)

We had agreed Wednesday that the morning session wouldn't begin until 10:00, so everyone could sleep a little extra after the concert.  But we must have all wanted to savour every last moment together, because by 9:15, we had all gathered in our Heron meeting room one last time.  Everyone was excited about the concert the night before, but there was an undertone of bittersweet, as we knew these magical five days were drawing to a close.

The morning began, as had every morning, with Eric reading us a passage out of a daily meditations book which had been loaned by a friend.  As every morning, it was uncannily appropriate.  This was followed, as every morning, with Louise reading us her blog (which she wakes up at 5:30 every morning to write, even mornings after a two-glasses-of-wine late night).  Cue the tears and sniffles.

Then we did our check-in.  In alphabetical order.  Me first (hmmm... alphabet with a wee zig-zag, I guess).  I told the story of my stupid body tricks the night before, and read the new song I barfed up (it still feels more like that than birthing, even though less poetic).  I made it to the last verse before starting to bawl again and choke out the rest of it.  I heard a sob from Sylvi, Louise (who prides herself in never crying in public) was also crying, even Ahmed looked teary.  The Bray Brothers, of course, were sniffling away, as were Eric and Sari.  Guess I barfed up a good one.  Next step was to sing it for them. I was able to do it until halfway through the last verse, when I heard another sob from Sylvi, which set me going again (I am SUCH an emotional sponge, it's ridiculous..).

Ahmed was next.  His was still a work in progress, but he had done a considerable amount of tweaking, and had completed some new stuff that would rip your heart out.   I can't wait to hear the final version.  Cameron was still abuzz from the night before, glad he'd been able to find a way to stay, and full of new ideas of how to get himself back to singing on stage again.  Don had disappointed us all by not writing three more songs in the meantime. ;-)  He had made a few changes, though, which were polishing the song up nicely.  Louise was happy with her song, and was ready to hand it off to me to sing.  Nice try. :-)   I'd be happy to cover it some day, but today it's still yours, lovely.  Sylvi was still thrilled with her song, and seemed to have gotten a huge boost from singing on stage the night before -- the confidence of her delivery had taken a great leap.

And so, for the documentation!  Cameron had a truck full of video gear, so he brought in his camera and set up the tripod.  We wanted a video of each person's song, as well as our group song.  Everyone did their individual songs. Sylvi made it through her own for the first time without crying on the last verse -- what a performer!  Typical me, I waited until the very end.  Put on my stage face and was determined to make it through without breaking down at the last verse.  Almost did it, too, until a heard another Sylvi sob on my last line...  that's OK, I had already heard a click from the camera.  Cameron had run out of batteries.  Nevermind, he had four more in the car.  Plugged a new one in, and asked me to re-do just the last verse.  I started and... CLICK.  Ran out of that battery too.  Cameron ran back to the truck and came back sorrowfully, apologizing profusely that he didn't have his charger and all the other batteries were dead, too -- this never happens.

Louise came to the rescue with her little camera.  Not quite so fancy, but it could screw on to the tripod and record in HD, so it would have to do.  I made it through the whole song with no tears, and everyone agreed it was the best version (even without the tears) I had done.  Cameron was obviously meant to have forgotten the battery charger, because it allowed the best performance to get recorded.  There are no mistakes, no coincidences -- a running theme of the week.

Time for our group song.  Again, our best performance ever.  E-mail sheets were distributed, as were our song lists.  It was 12:00.  Our workshop was over.  We gathered in a circle, held hands, gave thanks, gave love, promised this wouldn't really end.

Cameron really, really had to go now, and Louise was also going to try to catch the 12:35 ferry.  Big hugs and kisses to them both.  We will see Louise in a couple of weeks.  We will see our new-found cousin-brother very soon.

The rest of us head to the lodge for one last meal together.  It's obvious nobody wants to leave.  Eric and Sari are hoping to catch the 3:10 ferry, but haven't even packed yet.  I wonder if they actually made it, because between the two of them, they put our procrastination techniques to shame. :-)  More big hugs and kisses.  More chatting.  Some more hugs.  Chat chat chat.  Hugs... OK, really going now.  Promise to be in touch and see each other soon.

We are down to four.  Don is meeting with Graemme at 1:30, but promises Sylvi to drive her to her place down-island when he's done.  Ahmed is staying a few more days for "The Haven Unplugged" -- a few days of helping to do cleaning, minor repairs, gardening, etc., around the property.

We grab some comfy seats in the lounge for a while, as Don waits for Graemme to finish his other meeting, and I get started on all the PR that has built up over the last few days.  Damn, real world is coming on strong.  I am approached by Jack [not his real name] -- an older guy who doesn't take any courses here, but comes here for a month-long stay annually and is a local fixture -- who want me to come and watch a video he was talking about the night before.  An hour and a half video of fiddle music.  He apparently didn't read my tone and body language well when he was talking about it the night before.  I smile politely, say we're just waiting for Graemme for a meeting, don't really have time to watch it, but thanks.  Graemme takes about ten more minutes to arrive in the lounge, during which time I am approached by Jack four more times, telling me I should come watch the video with him.  Still no, Jack, sorry.

Graemme came to our rescue as Jack was making his sixth advance.  It was really Don and Graemme's meeting, but I walked as far as the driveway with them, then escaped to our room to recharge my laptop.   Sadly, the wireless does not reach our room, but I answered several e-mails and left them in the outbox for later.

Once the computer was charged, I tiptoed back down to the lodge to hide in a corner of the sunroom and do some PR work.  I was safe, all was well, no fiddle videos for me.  A lovely breeze was blowing off the sea, life was good.  Don came back -- QUITE some time later, happy about his meeting with Graemme, and excited about the project.  They really hit it off, and have the same musical sensibilities (as Don had suspected, but nice to have confirmed).

We drove Sylvi back to the house she rents for the five months she lives here -- she spends the other seven at her home in Ottawa.  It's perched partway up a cliff, then up some cement stairs and into her main room -- studio and kitchen all in one, overlooking the trees.  Up a small ladder is her bedroom and "bathroom" (a composting toilet), and out front is the porch she uses almost as a room itself.  A cute little spot with a great view of Nanaimo if you walk up a little further.  We stay and chat for a little while, then head back to the Haven.  It's just us and Ahmed left, now.

I set up in the sunroom -- my new office -- and Don headed down to his favourite park bench to serenade the geese.  Every time I looked out the window, he had a new audience of geese swimming slowly towards him, listening attentively -- Gabriolan geese are obviously very discerning. :-)

Dinner time!  And here comes Jack... "oh, you're still here?" "Yes, we're staying an extra night."  "Oh, so you can come and see my video, then!"


"No, Jack, not now, we're eating dinner and I've got a lot of work to do."  Damn, should have omitted the 'not now' part...  "Oh, so I'll come get you after dinner and we'll watch the video."  Sigh...   "Don't know if I can, Jack, I've got a lot to do, but thanks..."

We grab our plates and -- oh, what is this deliciousness?  Mushroom Wellington, scalloped potatoes, mustard-roasted kale...   Heaven!  "Mind if I sit with you?" I hear behind me...  I startle a bit, bracing myself for a dinner's worth of demands to watch a fiddle video, but it's Graemme.  His partner, Marlise (hope I'm spelling it right?) is following close behind -- she's going to be leading a body work session for the helpers in the evening.  We have a delicious dinner together, and a lovely chat.  Graemme seems to be eagerly joining the "get Lyss and Don to BC" team, telling me about all the various opportunities for cellists in Victoria.  He might have an ulterior motive -- he really loves the cello (damn, and I thought it was all about our sparkling personalities!).

Jack finishes his meal and makes another round.  "No, Jack, I can't right now.  If I'm able to later, I'll come find you."  I tell my table-mates I should probably just go watch the damned video and put him out of his misery.   They laugh and tell me that would just lead to the hour and a half of question-and-answer period following the film.  I feel a little less like a rotten person and realize I'm just holding my boundaries steady against someone with serious boundaries and people-reading issues.  Yay me.

Marlise gets up to go prepare her room for the session, leaving the three of us to chat for what turned out to be a couple more hours.  Jack sat behind of us for much of that time, clearing his throat often.  I concentrated intensely on the conversation, and pondered what Tai Chi moves I could practise on him.  More great conversation, accompanied by a cricket now, from music to politics to moving us to Victoria to...  Oh lordy, Jack's back.  "No Jack, I'm not coming to watch the video now, we're in the middle of our conversation."  He resorts to pacing back and forth on the patio for a while, as we talk some more.  I make up my mind to hold my ground -- if he comes back after Graemme goes back to the studio, I'm going to firmly tell him I've got way too much work to do, and simply can't take the time.  I never do get that chance.  Jack has finally got the message and, it seems, has taken it personally -- he avoids me the rest of our time on the island (not a bad thing, really, but... geez, if he had got the message earlier, we could have done it without sulking and pouting).

After several threats of "I really have to get back into the studio", Graemme finally does break free of the conversation to go get some work done.  I put my portable office back together, and Don heads out to the sunroom (more of a moonroom by this point) to play some more guitar.  Kind of like life at home, only I can see him from this office.  We've pretty much got the lodge to ourselves for a while, as the Unplugged folks are in session and no other workshops are happening until Tuesday.

The evening session people came back to the lodge for schmoozing, and I uploaded files while quietly eavesdropping on some very interesting conversations -- still in songwriter mode, I guess!  We grabbed a glass of wine ourselves, before heading up to our room for one last sleep.

I could hear the island singing "Come On Home" -- stay a little longer, you just got here, don't rush off...

Musically, blubberingly and lovingly,

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