future, and checks in with his past.
Waking up in my new apartment on the new Mission bed with the sun streaming onto me from the
east-facing window remains a daily delight, particularly when the day is Sunday. Some Sundays --
very few, but some -- are relatively laze-about Sundays, which means I am able to read the
entire Times, check in at one of local antique malls, and make it to shape-note singing
at 5pm before heading off afterwards to the weekly gay-lesbian two-stepping at Lee's Liquor Lounge.
Yes, that defines a free Sunday. Last Sunday was not one of those Sundays.
To begin with, Jim had determined that we were well past due to gather a few friends and sing gospel
songs. Of late Jim and Denise have become wholly enamored of the seven-shape gospel tradition.
In fact, Jim's "well past due" to sing this stuff translates into "twenty minutes since the last time."
I, myself, am not quite so devoted to this particular tradition, but I am passionately devoted to
getting together with my friends to sing. Singing with Jim and Denise (and whoever else we can round up)
is perhaps the greatest delight of my current life (except for the occasional sublime Morris dance moment
such as a good partnered mid-air splitter for Queen's Delight or Orange in Bloom).
On perhaps one day's notice Jim had managed to gather another five folks to meet over brunch on
Sunday. I picked up some food and I picked up Denise, stopping to confirm with her husband Michael
that he would be over at my apartment with his drill at 1pm -- but that comes later. Our friend
Cathy was already at Jim's, and we laid out our food and just as we were about to start eating
Jim said that first he wanted to sing "Bright Morning Star". So we did and it just soared, loudly
and buzzingly and gloriously, and I said, "Is that what you wanted? Can we eat now?"
The other folks showed up soon but I couldn't stay long because I had to head off to meet up back
at my apartment with Russ (a fine person to partner for splitters in Morris Dance) and also
Michael. They had previously agreed to help me with some fixit work around the apartment that
afternoon. I had to stop on the way to rent some videos for Michael and Denise's daughter Anna,
who would be there; Anna has no tv or video at home, which means she can be easily entertained by
the novelty. I rented Fantasia and a production of Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella,
which turned out to be successful choices.
Russ had volunteered to fix my leaky bathroom faucet. Michael was aching to replace the broken light
switch in the front hallway, and to get back to some tasks we hadn't had time to complete the last
time my Morris team came over with their drills. Michael brought his daughter and our friend
Shannon, who wanted to see the apartment. Shannon hadn't known Russ would be there as well; she
greeted him in surprise and said, "What, do you have to have at least half a Morris side to do work
around here?" and we replied, baffled, "Of course." What fun would this be otherwise?
You know, it was a lovely fun afternoon. Russ and I drove around South Minneapolis in quest of
replacement plumbing pieces for a fifty-year old (at least) sink. Michael got to take apart
a light fixture. Shannon looked through my old merchandise catalogs and cried sentimental tears
over the Cinderella video. Anna enjoyed Fantasia.
My work crew went off to their dinner engagements and I got ready to attend a concert that
folksinger U. Utah Phillips was giving that night as a benefit for the Cedar Cultural Center
(which happens to be where my Morris Team practices). This meant that I had to miss shape-note
singing and the two-stepping, but those occur nearly every week. U. Utah Phillips is an old
friend of my parents, and he was around a bit when I was in high school, so I both wanted to
see how he was doing (he's had some serious health issues in recent years and almost never travels
to perform these days) and I needed to offer greetings from my parents.
As I was heading out the door for the concert, I got a phone call from Tom G., the current percussion
section leader of the Minnesota Freedom Band (from which I on am indefinite leave at the moment --
after 15 years I needed a break from hauling percussion equipment around and my duties as Squire
of Ramsey's Braggarts Morris Men were starting to take up more and more of my time and focus).
Tom began "I know you're really busy right now..." and I knew what was coming. They have nobody to
play bells this season, for the December concert. Well, that's the short version of what Tom said.
I wanted to say, "You know, you couldn't possibly have picked a worse time on a worse weekend to ask
me this." But instead I said, "Ok, I can't be at practice tomorrow" (a friend is visiting from out
of town and because of the weekend I could see him only on Monday) "but I will come next week and we'll
see." That's how these things happen.
The concert was great. U. Utah Phillips mostly tells stories at his performances these days,
but he remains compelling and entertaining. He was very sweet about remembering me, as well,
and asked specifically after my brothers and parents.
Then home again, to snuggle beneath the quilts. Swiftly and Smoothly came sleep.