Mountains in Montana

              After almost 2 months at home, i’m back to road work again and just returned, late last night, from 5 days in Montana – one to play music, 4 to travel with my brother Gary (who returns to Afghanistan in a couple of weeks). A happily-anticipated reunion with friends Tom and Diane Morgan in Big Fork, a pleasant musical evening with a hundred or so of their friends, and then 4 leisurely days of driving through Glacier/Waterton National Parks added up to an easy ‘return to work’.  Two days of hiking, where laughing did more to take my breath away than the actual physical exertion (my brother is a funny guy, and my favorite person to hang out with), and lots of driving at very slow speeds, gave Gary and me the chance to enjoy Rockie Mountain scenery, both U.S. and Canadian, that one must see to appreciate. While i am perpetually on the hunt for song material, there are times. like this one, that i try to forget that i’m a songwriter and simply enjoy what’s around me.  At some future time, maybe a memory will surface and turn into something musical. (The picture below was taken from our moving car in Waterton National Park in Canada. See what i mean about beautiful?)

              While on the trip i read two books i’d highly recommend: Silas Marner, by George Eliot, and My Bondage and My Freedom, by Frederick Douglas. 

This and That

             i’ve spent a lot of my time the last several days digging holes. Really. The work is being done in anticipation of planting trees before next spring. Jack of all trades, BJ Baxley (the one from A Day With Bobby Joe, on Tap the Kaleidoscope) worked with me last week, breaking brick hard ground with his back hoe. Since then i’ve been replacing top soil and adding compost to the holes so that, when young trees are planted there, the ground will be conducive to growth. July heat has meant some sweaty days but has also meant deep sleep at the end of the day. i work with no noise – no music, radio, conversation. It means that i have good time to pray and to think and to turn my brain off.  And twenty or fifty years from now, there might be something beautiful – oak, poplar, sycamore — in these presently un-treed fields. i’ve loved my time at home these past few weeks.                   Went to Columbus yesterday for visits with friends (a regular practice this summer). An elderly woman, a Mrs. Tharpe, approached me at a Starbuck’s and asked if i knew the location of a local residence for old folks. She lives there and was lost, apparently due to a failing memory, and couldn’t remember how to get home. i called and got directions, then lead her the couple of miles to her destination. She was grateful. “i know where i live; i just don’t know how to get there.” There’s a world full of souls like that i think. That’s why Jesus’ people are called ‘sent ones’ – to help folks find the way to the place their hearts know they are meant to be.

              New CD is about done.

New CD Nearing Completion

              I’ve spent much of last week on the pleasant task of finishing the CD begun back in February. In what can best be described as alchemy (‘transformation of base metals into gold”), Ben Shive of Nashville has done wonders, with the help of friends there, to the tunes we chose to work on for this still-untitled album. …  Ben has been sideman for Andrew Peterson for several years, is a married father of four, is remarkably musical and, much to my delight, is a skilled wordsmith. Check him out at www.benshive.com and particularly his new CD, “The Ill-tempered Clavier.” …   The tracks we’ve been working on are now being mixed and, we hope, will be all done by end of July and available shortly thereafter. I really like the way the songs are coming together. They’ll be mostly brand new (having never or only once or twice been sung in concerts) and i am looking forward to sharing them this fall. When I gave the songs to Ben, they were like threadbare children. They’re dressed up now in a way to make a daddy proud. Stay tuned.