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FLOODS, FESTIVALS & FAMILY…

Stephen is now in Wroclaw, Poland for the European Premiere of BIG JOY. I am settling into Soundcliff for this period until Thanksgiving while he will continue his rather constant traveling this year… attending some 15 film festivals around the globe since March’s world premiere in Austin.

We return from a week visiting his family in Edina, MN… after attending together the Port Townsend Film Festival the next weekend… both after the week in we’d planned for mid-September around the DocuWest film festival in Boulder & Golden, Colorado… thus as well the opportunity for a long awaited visit with my mother, who lives in Fort Morgan.

So… I’ve been traveling too!

We flew on September 10th to Colorado… not knowing this would become the “week of Noah”.

We drove in rain from the airport into Denver to be hosted our first night by my deep friend Dwight. As always he is doing fascinating creative work, even in his new smaller studio.

The next day’s drive was wetter yet, arriving Patti & Rob’s home on the creek in Four Mile Canyon above Boulder for snacks & cocktails before driving back down to Golden for the opening event of the film fest… seeing Good Ol’ Freda, a documentary about the Beatles’ rather quietly retiring fan club secretary… Quite fun!

Another drive back up to Black Swan Cottage in a deluge… fairly skiing over water beginning to collect in low spots. After a bowl of fab-cook Patti’s home-made wild-mushroom soup, but our evening was interrupted within the hour by an order to evacuate!

We packed-up & went across the road to their long time friend’s house, higher & safe enough, but rented for the winter to folk we did not know… we expected them back at any time, not knowing that conditions prevented any after us to drive up the canyon… We did not use their beds, but instead fitfully slept on couch cushions with small throws. Next day we again settled in for some duration, but when we were out on the road surveying damage, the sheriff drove by & suggested we leave ASAP since the road was compromised & expected to fail…

After that evening’s opening festival event in Golden [some 30 miles south of Boulder] we drove back on roads flooded in low areas… fairly skiing in some places! We arrived to be welcomed home with a fine late supper of wild, farmer’s market, mushroom soup, only to be warned within the hour by the phone call to evacuate that earthy mood… the creek in their back yard was rising toward flood stage, with prediction of a much larger surge coming down from the higher drainages!

They have, of course, made contingency plans for such event, having long ago prepared by moving all their important items of furniture, collections of memorabilia & art, plus essential paper files, into storage. They continued inside such straights to create a rich life… what with Patti’s amazing kitchen, paired with Rob’s wine cellar & his collection of fine gins… however… living for so long in “camping-out” mode is certainly not the preferred style for this lively couple!

Patti had polished her collection of my bells, displaying them on the mantle so we could finally accomplish our plan to photograph & catalogue them. Rob has been gifting them to her since the beginning. He & I regularly struggle to remember which ones she already has when he wants to add a new one. In the hurried process of vacating the house she tossed their bag to me. I got only a cursory count of 41 as I gathered them up without accomplishing any proper documentary inventory.

Patti made certain to pack food from the kitchen so we would be well fed for the duration, including a pork roast she’d planned for the next dinner.

The new renters of the house belonging to their old friends, who had given such permission to take refuge, were not home & we did not yet realize they were stuck down in Boulder by the storm for the night. We made paletts of questionable comfort out of bulbous sofa cushions & small thin throws, not wishing to disturb their beds.

Next morning we woke to the aroma of coffee… plus roasting pork. We were happily resigned to spending the day of exile in creative ways. After mugs of java we prepped ourselves for a foray out to survey the terrain. I’d already made photos of a new active creek running through a second driveway to this house built next to what was usually a dry wash… fortunately there was another, on which our cars were parked.

While we were marveling at the result of water running off barren slopes, moving rock walls built to restrain such force, a sheriff’s car came driving cautiously over the rubble washed onto the road. He strongly advised we get out of the canyon because the road would probably be washed-out in the surge expected later that day. We were encouraged to pack-up & get out…

The road was indeed soon narrowed to one lane in a spot where we could only drive in the left lane… giving me views, out my rider’s side window, of the creek roiling where the right lane previously had been…

We refugees were welcomed at the home of a friend of theirs, where we made a rather fine party inside adversity… our dinner: a well weathered pork roast!

At the time we’d scheduled driving to visit Momma was when the flooding made any travel ill-advised. We four had gratefully accepted hospitality at another couple’s home for the next two nights, happily allowing us to be easily present for BIG JOY’s screening at a venue which had been closed for two days due to high water, canceling a slice of the festivals schedule.

However, there was an unexpected showing of Big Joy on Friday evening at the venue in Golden to fill a cancellation… back we went, fortunately on a more benign evening… so Stephen could be present. We had a rather fine dinner at a place called Sherpa… where I enjoyed eating my first yak meat! It was one of several “dates” for us, which have been quite rare this year!

We brought along the couple with whom we’d chatted at a nearby table… adding to the sparse audience. The entire area was in a bit of shock & confusion due to the flooding… creating understandable lack of impetus for getting out to see a film!

Saturday evening was the scheduled Colorado premiere at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder… a good crowd…. many friends of our hosts! I got to meet people I’d long heard about, or had correspondence with over the years as they became bell clients… Something like a Boulder “bell diaspora”.

A comfortable theater with a good system made for a technically fine screening. There was a lively Q&A, with much general appreciation. This was the evening we’d traveled for… all finally seemed good!

Everyone had been affected somehow by the floods… I found it curiously comfortable to be a tourist inside so many tales of diversity. This was indeed an epic storm… we often found ourselves quoting James BIG JOY Broughton:

Adventure!  … not predicament.

Not quite knowing… from the various sources we’d been monitoring, we began driving toward Fort Morgan several days later than we’d planned. Out onto the plains, where all that water we’d witnessed was moving down, flooding into the Platte River, closing only the last of several exits to our designation… Momma was unaware of such events.

We immersed & subsumed ourselves into her world’s bubble. Stephen expanded that by showing her his film… which she seemed to like & to appreciate, marveling, as she often does, at the media of this age… obviously mostly incomprehensible to her. She is so sweetly here & now… seeming to me like some sort of Biblical Zen.

Stephen made this insightful duo-portrait of Momma with my youngest brother Terry.

We left from her to make a rather sunny drive to the airport. We flew home into NW wet, which accompanied us next weekend to the Port Townsend Film Festival, the opening event of which we led the parade riding in the back of a vintage pick-up. Being part of a staged event for a disparate crowd postures the various realities of romantic notions about such events.

Stephen with Ian [BIG JOY cameraman] & Molly Hinkle, posing for me on the straw bale seats of our carriage…

Then standing after our arrival & introduction… the colorful cape was a prop in James’ film

Ian made this shot of Stephen & me… capturing our satisfaction in the moment.

Such moments of connection inside all the current flurry of our life hold our center…

Taking that energetic to Minnesota, we flew together again to spend a week with his family.            
Staying in Helen’s guest room displaces brother Mark, who cheerfully moves to a couch-bed for          the Friday & Saturday nights he regularly spends with his mother as her “weekend buddy”.

The Silha schedule is always full: supper at the Minnetonka; dinner at a good pub before a great        new musical, well staged in a deliciously barren industrial theatre space; one lunch with Stephen’s       HS friend; another with a mutual friend of ours; family meetings, including Mark’s annual review; a    hike on Merrywood; an excursion to the unique Russian Museum; then culminating with the             annual lecture at the Silha Center at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Center… the main            event for our visit. James C. Goodale, [a counsel for the New York Times, & author of the new book, Fighting for the Press: the Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles.] delivered

 it in eloquently with references.

Here we are after the our walk…

Now home to a week of foggy cold weather…