January - Early February 2015 - Music & Poetry & travels in SoCal, Salton Sea

We developed a new set of music / poetry pieces for our winter presentations during our time in the desert.
Our new favorite poem music piece is called “Blue Ophelia”.
The music is by our friend Mark Miller and poem by Shirley Graham from Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada.  

We project the poems with some images behind us while performing.

We wondered if seeing the poems and imagery would take away from a personal experience of hearing the sung poems.
The general consensus seems to be that seeing the poems and images enhances the program.

We made 2 treks to San Diego & LA from  Desert Shores near the Salton Sea to perform in 9 libraries through the month of January.
During this time, we were able to enjoy lots of beach time and camped in several of SoCal's State Parks right on or near the beach.
Many of these State Park Beaches are right in town, and a few are more remote like one of our favorite's, Leo Carillo State Park north of Malibu.
Colleen's favorite beach house, Encinitas, CA

The weather was pleasant & perfect for beach camping.

The integration of camping and performing has worked quite well for us - sometimes we book a motel on the night of a performance, but otherwise, we mostly camp in our van.

The library venue has become one of the best venues for us for many reasons.
First, librarians are great, we love the librarians, and their communities love  their librarians and libraries too!
Second, those who come to these concerts are great listeners and ask great questions.
More reasons:  We love the music & the poems and find ourselves finding new ways of expression through this form.
The acoustics are almost always quite good, sometimes superb.
Sometimes we play right in the library amongst the "stacks", and often, the libraries have community rooms and sometimes very nice state of the art auditoriums.

Last night, we played in the most beautiful library on our tour so far, in Redlands, CA.

As we walked around the library, every perspective was unique and beautiful, including the grounds.
Daniel is the adult programs and reference librarian and he gave us a tour, including a private tour of the library tower. 
There are many comfy nooks and crannies in this old beautiful library to sit down with a book.
Our performance was in a beautiful old room next to one of the 2 gardens.
There is great art on the walls, including original signed lithographs of Norman Rockwell paintings of Huck Finn in the children's library room.

Daniel told us of the history of this library and the effort made by prominent citizens of the day and especially the effort of A.K. Smiley back in 1890's.
Today, this library continues to have great support from the community and excellent leadership & stewardship from library directors.

Daniel, like many of the librarians we have met, has a keen interest in all people from the community, including the homeless.
The public library is a space where people can still share in the best of what our society supports.
Our libraries are the great equalizer, bringing us all together, rich & poor, young and old. 

Most librarians are acutely aware of the great needs of folks with mental illness and homelessness who often times spend their days in their libraries.
There is a consensus among librarians that the libraries fill an important role for these folks and that they are welcome.
And for those unemployed & underemployed, there are resources and access to the internet to keep them abreast of potential training & education programs and to keep up with the constantly changing computer / internet world.


We were fortunate to have a home base from which to travel to San Diego & LA.
Colleen's brother Jim lives right next to the Salton Sea, the largest body of water in California. 

Jim care takes a community park & he graciously invited us to come and go from here as much as we would like.
We pulled up near Jim's trailer and dubbed our encampment, " Camp JimO " .

This area is quite unique and a place where there is much debate about how to save the Salton Sea.
The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California's Imperial and Coachella valleys.
The lake occupies the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink in the Colorado Desert of Imperial and Riverside counties in Southern California.

There is a lot of pollution from agricultural run-off, and the sea is shrinking precipitously.
Sometimes the smell from the lake is overwhelming, but most times, it is reminiscent of the smells from the ocean.
The "beach" is mostly made up of bones from die offs of fish and birds.

At first we were overwhelmed by the degrading sea, and during a rare wind-storm, the dust became unbearable at times.
But, we gradually became more attracted to the Salton Sea for there is a beauty here unlike anywhere else.
The birds we have seen on and above this lake are impressive.
They are so graceful and seem very content & relaxed in this environment.
They seem to have plenty of food from the sea, mostly Tilapia, which has so far survived the salinity of the water.

Our favorite time to walk next to the sea is near and just after sunset.  The sea often times takes on a pink glow along with the sky creating an ethereal, dreamlike world.

It has been wonderful to hang out with Jim and we thank him for his kindness, gentle spirit & the great support he provided for this part of our tour.

We're heading out today on the 3:10 to Yuma!


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