Peaks So High, They Touch the Hands of . . . the Goddess
September 24, 2006
Peaks so High, They Touch the Hands of . . . the Goddess
Or . . . Where the Heck Have You Been?
Regular readers of The Betty Blog have sent messages to inquire about the September silence. Well, I’ve been up north to Alaska. I have been down yonder to Nashville
. . . Two very different worlds on the same planet, yet decidedly
connected by universal themes sung by the troubadours . . . music being
so very “there” every which way I've turned on both trips.
weeks of back-to-back travel after 20 months avoiding planes, it is
good to be home . . . in the Castro. I have learned much and seen much
and thought about much, all the highs and lows of life and the sadness
and the joys.
Margie, my pal and songbird, joined me on the deck of the Ms Statendam that morning we visited the Hubbard
and Turner glaciers, and I knew on that deck intuitively that I was in
the company of those who are genuine when they say they are my friends
and that they care . . . Margie, Ann, Kit, Grace, Mary Ann, Michelle,
Mary, Marcia . . . and more wonderful, wonderful women who traveled to
Alaska to experience Olivia’s cruise . . . and share some time together through our “Betty Ann” group.
It was a journey of reconnections with friends I hadn’t seen in years .
. . Ann, Iris, Ellen, Joanne, Kate, Lé, Lori, connections with new
friends . . . and connections with women who will be friends because
they pay attention. They not only pay attention, they know that what
one says or does has ramifications for the lives of others and that it
is a responsibility we all bear . . . to pay attention. Is this not a
reoccurring message here in this blog?
The music of Margie, Meg Christian and Roxanna Ward. The humor of Karen Williams and Kate Clinton.
A chance to dance, walk on ice, ride trains and helicopters, mush a
dogsled and sleep to the gentle sway of a big ship making its way
through the Inside Passage.
Meeting up in Juneau with a pretty girl named Althea who comes down to Mecca
now and then . . . who gave me a private tour of everything I wanted to
see and she wanted me to see, took me to her favorite milkshake place,
toured me around Douglas Island where she lives and went with me to the
top of Mt Roberts in a tram for a soda in the Timberline Bar & Grill and a live look at Gastineau Channel. Who showed me where the Juneau web cams (cruise ship dock, noaa, Juneau webcams, Pedersen Hill cams, Juneau Harbor cam) are located so I would know where the one with the view I like to check originates. Who took me and others to the Red Dog Saloon where she used to perform ragtime every night.
that fabulous train that runs from Skagway to the summit at White Pass
and beyond. Taking photos this time and having the memory flashbacks I
knew I would from a previous visit there with one who is no more in my
life, she and her troubled woman-child. For me, this ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route
Railroad was a reclamation, setting aside memories from that other time
when no one was happy and I had to learn again what it feels like to be
alone even when you're with someone.
The train ride this time
was hardly the same . . . the views more beautiful, the tunnels a
deeper shade of dark. Four train cars packed with women from our ship
broke spontaneously into song, "I've Been Working on the Railroad,"
when we made an unscheduled engine switch just a few miles out of town.
Four train cars packed with women waved and smiled and laughed hard at
the straight people in the cars of a train going the other way that we
passed somewhere near the summit and Canadian / US border there. Yes,
priceless moments to behold, sing along, laugh along and be part of.
So no, it wasn’t all a barrel of fun because life happens . . . even
when you are making plans . . . and yes, I'm human and have my
sensitivities. Do you? There were times when the prevailing norm of
“coupledom” among the 1200 aboard ship drove me to the edge and I
longed for a day when the single person is viewed as equal to one who
is ½ of a couple . . . that unspoken and sometimes spoken dynamic that
values those who are “married” more than those who fly solo. I believe
that dynamic to be real and sometimes it fuels my work and drives me to
do all I can to make sure that those who dare to come alone will know
they are so very welcome . . . and wanted, too.
moments when I was too tired to make much sense, and moments of
reflection thinking about those who might have come along had
circumstances been other than they are.
There was the instance
when I realized I needed to spend time in Sitka sitting in a pharmacy
seeking the refill of an eye drop prescription, knowing that meant I
wouldn’t be going on a shore excursion seeking the sea otters and
whales and birds that day.
But, yes, it was worth it, and I knew
that during those moments of ecstasy looking at the grandeur of
snow-capped mountain peaks, looking at the swirl and twirl and spray of
whales or the historic path where wanna-be miners and their animals
trod more than a century ago . . . some of whom gave up their lives for
a cause or a dream they simply believed in. I feel that way sometimes,
too . . .
It was all worth it when I had the chance to see
dramatic photos taken by friends who work a camera better than do I,
and when the ship’s staff sang to us and presented flaming Baked Alaska
to everyone at our tables during dinner . . . whether we had ordered it
or not . . . and to be sure, no one went hungry on that ship.
was worth it on our last day at sea when I walked out on the aft deck
not expecting to see much . . . and there was yet another range of
mountains in the distance with dual peaks that soared so high they
touched the hands of . . . well, you know the phrase . . . they touched
the hands of the goddess or the great spirit in the sky or whatever you
choose to think about that.
And, I do tip my hat to the
hardworking staff of Olivia, with special thanks to Laura Fitzpatrick,
who did their best to make sure that we had a grand time, a great
vacatioin and our every need was met. This was my fourth cruise and my
first with Olivia. Will I go again? I hope so and we'll see what the
future brings for Betty & Ann Presents . . . in terms of taking our groups on future trips aboard ship.
@ I was home from Alaska just long enough to wash the underwear and then head off to Nashville with Kitty Rose . . . another important story that begs its own day's entry, and so . . .
. . . “Tautugniagmigikpiñ,” as the Inuktituts say in Alaska,
or “Qaukpattauq,” as the Inuktituts say in the Yukon or “So long little
doggie,” as they say on the western trail, or “Y’all come back now,
y’here,” as they say down south in Nashville, sure to be the setting of
our next blog entry yet to come, bringing a perspective from the Americana Music Association’s 7th Annual Convention and Awards at the famous Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Old Opry!
Added by BettyS @ 7:55 PM
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