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Daylight Savings Time Closes The Week

March 12th, 2017 Jorma 42 comments

After coming home from Nashville there was lots of cleaning up around the Fur Peace Ranch that had to be done. Our good friend Smiles did most of it, of course, but I got my hands a little dirty. I brought a nagging chest cold back from Spokane with me and today is the first day that I’m really starting to feel normal… whatever that is. The girls and I took a killer hike in the hills for a couple of hours and I got some work done on my book. This coming week is the beginning of the 19th full season here at the Ranch and Jack and I will be teaching and doing the concert on Saturday night.

At this point in my life when so many of my friends and colleagues are starting to fall I must share with the universe the gratitude I feel just to be able to get up in the morning unassisted, not to mention all the other things I am still able to do. Life is good, most of the time and I cannot allow myself to take that for granted.

Spring break is over for the kids and Izze is back to school tomorrow with extracurricular activities abounding… Irish Dance, to Photography, to Piano… yep… we’re Izze’s Uber Service.

Jack will be in Wednesday night and even though it’s only been a month since we played together, I’ve missed the hang. Sub freezing temperatures here the last two days, but we barbecued dinner both nights.

Uneventful… but precious!

More will be revealed!

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Goodbye To Larry Coryell… Love Ya Brother!

February 21st, 2017 Jorma 18 comments

Larry Coryell
April 2, 1943—February 19, 2017

I was so sad to hear about Larry’s passing yesterday. Up at the Fur Peace Ranch we were all looking forward to sharing time with him later this year. He was going to teach and play a concert for us at the Fur Peace Station.

Larry and I go back a long, long time. I met him in New York City in 1966. It was one of the very early trips to NYC for the Airplane and we were staying at some ‘affordable’ hotel. It was either the Albert or the Van Rensselaer, I can’t remember. I think Mike Bloomfield introduced us and we became friends. As a musician Larry was light years ahead of me. I was just transitioning from folk music to rock and roll. The electric guitar and I were just getting to know each other. Larry graciously made this introduction attainable. He showed me lots of stuff I could never do, and some that I still do. Thanks buddy!

We reconnected about a decade ago when he graced us with his presence at the Fur Peace Ranch. One of the nice things about old friends is that no matter how long it has been since you saw each other, when you finally get together is seems as if it were only yesterday!

The second time Larry came to the Ranch, G.E.Smith was there too. I recall G.E. sitting in with Larry for a song or two. They did a version of Wichita Lineman I will never forget. Stunning!

There is never a good time for bad news and I was sorrowed to hear that Larry was gone. I will miss our occasional intersections but his spirit and friendship will live in my heart.

Fair winds and following seas brother… fair winds and following seas.

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Things That Might Have Been

February 19th, 2017 Jorma 14 comments

In 2001 a dear friend of mine and her then seven year old daughter were walking to school. They chanced to look up at Dad’s office there in the Twin Towers in time to see the first plane strike. In that microsecond Dad… and so many others were gone. They did not put a photo up down by the church… they did not have to. They knew where he was.

In the years that followed, the little girl grew to be a woman, but in that nanosecond back in 2001 the world changed for her in a profound way. The earth we inhabit would never be her home. Something broke, that would never be the same again. A week or so ago she chose to leave this life. It seemed it was a long time coming.

I have traveled quite a way in life and the times were not always good… yet I always felt there were better times on down the road. I believed my work on earth was not yet done. There is sadness in my heart to know that she did not live long enough to experience the ebb and flow of life. Perhaps for her it was always ebb. It is not for me to know this.

There is a profound sorrow in my heart to know that my young friend could never find peace on this side of the pale. Perhaps this is the way she needed to fly.

There are some broken things that can never be fixed.

‘Healing is the return of the memory of holiness…’

Deepak Chopra

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The Measure Of Time

January 25th, 2017 Jorma 26 comments

We all hold the measure of time in our own eye, our own vision. Early this morning I heard of Butch Trucks’ passing and I was saddened by this news. I usually got to see Butch at least once a year at Wanee and we always had a great hang. I’m at an age where I get news about my contemporaries that can go either way… could be good, could be bad. Butch will be missed. He was always in it to win it and in my minimal relationship with him, he lived to play.

Vanessa was lamenting the passing of so many people and it is sad to see the fabric of our world diminished in any way… but we are designed for this. We are gifted with a life on earth and a chance to make something of it. For a while we will have some relevance in our present but as our time passes this will diminish. I know something of my parent’s life, but very little of my grandparents. Their dreams and aspirations will always be a mystery to. My children’s children will know they had a grandfather and probably not much more.

I believe there is an inherent self involvement in those of us who have been chosen to be artists and that’s OK… if not carried to an extreme. Sometimes I look around at the world that surrounds me and my family and I am amazed how we got here from where we started so long ago.

Our world today

Our world today

When I moved to Southeast Ohio in 1991 I could never have imagined how this decision would play out in my life, but here I am. I could not have written this script in a million years.

Nothing by blue skies...

Nothing by blue skies...

Today my world fits comfortably like an old pair of jeans or an old shoe. There was a time when nothing was comfortable, and yet… here I am.

Mr. and Mrs. Kaukonen look to the sky

Mr. and Mrs. Kaukonen look to the sky

Each day is filled with measured duties… some more enjoyable than others, but all necessary. To be able to perform these as needed is a blessing indeed. As for Butch, rest in peace my friend. I’ll miss those spring chats and the fact that we were both on the same side of the pale.

There’s not much more to say.

The Welch boys' stairs behind my house...

The Welch boys' stairs behind my house...

All things are one step at a time.

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Winter Waxes And Wanes

January 16th, 2017 Jorma 57 comments
Fur Peace Station in the snow

Fur Peace Station in the snow

The weather is, well, changeable as the weather. Yeah, there was some bitter cold and a little snow. Never a bad time to put the drone up and take some pictures though.

The tiny Shade River swollen by melting snow and rain.

The tiny Shade River swollen by melting snow and rain.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in the country know what I’m talking about. I’m not a farmer, so I’m not one with the land in that pure and unarguable way. I’m am, however, connected to it enough to feel it breathe and change. The frigid cold came and went and so far the ice storms have bypassed our little part of the world. Lots of rain, but still some breathing time to put the drone up again.

From 380 feet in the air.

From 380 feet in the air.

Yeah, hiking through the woods sure gives a different picture from the aerial shots. I’m getting to know my little corner of the world in a completely different way.

Fur Peace Station, Psylodelic gallery and Company store... in short lived snow

Fur Peace Station, Psylodelic gallery and Company store... in short lived snow

Yesterday there was a break in the weather action and my bud Jerry and I decided to suit up and go over to Athens Fish And Game and do a little shooting.

Nanook Of The North prepares to head out to Robinette Ridge Rd.

Nanook Of The North prepares to head out to Robinette Ridge Rd.

Athens Fish And Game is a beautiful facility that is both family and conservation oriented. I thought about the venison meatloaf I had for breakfast as I was driving over and took a moment out to thank the Great Spirit for sending that buck our way.

My good bud Jer' and partner in crime.

My good bud Jer' and partner in crime.

Yeah, we had a great time plinking around. I came home in time to clean my pieces and eat some of Vanessa’s killer home made chicken soup. Almost all of the food on our table these days comes from the land around us. It’s a nice way to be.

Well… time to walk the Big Dog again… best to all, and honor Martin Luther King on this day!

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Jahrzeit For My Father

January 8th, 2017 Jorma 21 comments
The Shade River from the A-Frame Trail... Jan. 8, 2017

The Shade River from the A-Frame Trail... Jan. 8, 2017

Jarhzeit For My Father
Jorma Kaukonen,
October 24, 1910-January 8, 1997

Dad on the fridge gallery... circa 1944

Dad on the fridge gallery... circa 1944

Twenty years ago I had driven over from Hillside Farm to the property on St. Clair Rd. where the Fur Peace Ranch would bloom the following year. Though it was January, it was not an exceptionally cold day like it is today. Ranch construction was already under way and the following year we would open for the first time. I was down at the little A frame which at the time was a functioning studio. I don’t remember why I was there on that winter day, or what I was doing. We had been in California over the New Year and had spent time with mom and dad and my brother Peter. We had only been home a couple of days.

Dad circa 1995

Dad circa 1995

This was before any of us had cell phones, if you can imagine such a thing. I had just returned to Hillside Farm and as I got out of my truck and walked across the driveway in front of the barn, Vanessa called out, ‘Your father just died,’ Vanessa told me. ‘You have to go back to California.’ Mortality is always with us but sad to say, for me up to this point it was an abstract concept. Friends of the family had passed… true. My grandparents had passed… also true… but for some reason in the order of things that’s just the way it was.

This was different on many levels.

Vanessa couldn’t leave the farm untended at that time soI was on a plane back to California the next day. I got together with my brother Peter and our dear friends Chuck and Donna and along with my Mom, went to the funeral home where there was a viewing. The moment was so surreal. We had just seen dad the week before, and here he was in a funeral chapel…

My father was as human as any of us. In life he was, as I am, an imperfect man. That said, he always did the best he could and loved his family with a passion all his own. In life that kid who was born in 1910 in Ironwood, Michigan in Gogebic County to Finnish Immigrants would stride across the world with very long legs. My relationship with him as a young man was always contentious and in retrospect that is more on me than it is on him. Late in life I was blessed to be able to call him friend. We were often able to show love for each other… to be able to say, ‘I love you!’ Death leaves many things left undone, unsaid… but this was not one of them.

I remember so well the last time I saw my father. After our time with mom and dad over those Christmas holidays Vanessa and I stopped by their house in Mill Valley to say goodbye. Dad already had a far away look in his eyes, as if he could already see another place waiting for him. I did not see it then… but over they years I have came to recognize that look when I see it today. We all hugged each other and as I was getting into the car dad went up to Vanessa. He looked at me and then at her and said, ‘Is the kid going to be all right?’ I don’t know what Vanessa answered but I can tell you today, ‘Yeah dad, the kid is all right.’

I miss you dad.

May your memory be a blessing!

Jormason and Maverick contemplate the world

Jormason and Maverick contemplate the world

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

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Happy New Year… We Welcome 2017

January 1st, 2017 Jorma 18 comments
The Chinese Lantern Festival at Columbus Expo

The Chinese Lantern Festival at Columbus Expo

In the waning days of 2016, Vanessa and Izze and I joined some friends on a snowy cold night at the Chinese Lantern Festival in Columbus. Well worth it!

An amazing show...

An amazing show...

It was Freeze Ass Cold… but only the strong survive!

The mighty Dragon... I'm Year Of The Dragon...

The mighty Dragon... I'm Year Of The Dragon...

This is really good stuff!

This is really good stuff!

That was on Thursday… then on New Year’s Eve we joined Kevin Morgan and his wonderful family for a New Year’s Get Together. We’ve been doing this with the Morgans for a decade and a half. Back home at the Fur Peace Ranch in time to watch the ball drop in the comfort of our own home, and today a New Year’s adventure in Vinton County.

Sy's place... Truly remarkable!

Sy's place... Truly remarkable!

The Union Ridge Wildlife Center is an amazing place in Vinton County, Ohio where wild animals that have been mistreated or otherwise out lived their usefulness in previous surroundings find a home for life!

Here there be tygers...

Here there be tygers...

These animals are so beautiful!

Oh my...

Oh my...

Sy and his friends are doing awesome work, giving these beautiful animals a place to live out their lives in peace!

Proud as a peacock

Proud as a peacock

What a great facility!

What a great facility!

After an hour or so at the preserve, we returned home and Izze helped me fly my drone.

The path to the Fur Peace Station

The path to the Fur Peace Station

I love taking aerials of the Ranch!

Some afternoon...

Some afternoon...

And last but not least…

Izze and Dad contemplating the controller...

Izze and Dad contemplating the controller...

2016 was one of those years when we lost a lot of colleagues and friends. It’s quite a list and it’s easy to find so I don’t need to enumerate it again here. I’m getting to that age when the sound of the phone ringing could be good… could be bad. I know none of us will live forever but friends are departing for the other side at an alarming rate. The guard is changing… eras are beginning and ending and the only constant is change.

Here’s to us and those like us! Damn few left. May 2017 bring serenity and enlightenment to my family… and all of yours.

Be well, and keep smiling!

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“Tis The Season… For So Many Things…

December 24th, 2016 Jorma 21 comments
A fiery dawn greets my birthday...

A fiery dawn greets my birthday...

Red sky in the morning… sailors take warning.

Well, Dec. 23, 2016 was indeed a red sky and it did start to rain later, but what a beautiful way to start the day. Seventy six… the eighty side of seventy. Time is indeed slipping away at a faster pace and since there’s nothing we can do about it, it just has to be all right. Left to my own devices, I would have just let it be another day… but my girls made it special for me. I got so many calls, texts and emails wishing me a happy birthday, it really touched me. Thanks to all of you who did that. The girls gave me a drone and no matter what they intimate, it’s not plug and play. I’m updating firmware and I’m going to take my time with this baby. I don’t want to crash it on the first flight.

Later in the day Izze and I braved Krogers in Athens.

Krogers on the 23rd

Krogers on the 23rd

Indeed, only the strong survive. Last night a delicious dinner with family and friends at Salaam and then a quiet evening at home. Today we went to ny sister in law’s joint for our traditional Hannukah/Christmas dinner.

Yeah... I know there's ham... but it's spiral cut!

Yeah... I know there's ham... but it's spiral cut!

Dinner, family, lighting the menorah… people dogs and cats socialize… Peace on earth!

The Ohio River off Main St. in Pomeroy on Christmas Eve

The Ohio River off Main St. in Pomeroy on Christmas Eve

Home for the holidays with family… good for anyone at any age.

May you all be as blessed as I am today.

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The Measure Of A Man

December 20th, 2016 Jorma 32 comments

This week was bittersweet on many levels, but it has been a blessing too! I was able to honor two good friends… one living and one gone. My dear friend Walt passed unexpectedly last week, but I’ll get to that fine gentleman in a moment. On Sunday evening Vanessa and Izze and I joined the Hurlbut family and friends to celebrate the 95th birthday of their Dad… Ray.

Ray Hurlbut 95, Jorma Kaukonen 75

Ray Hurlbut 95, Jorma Kaukonen 75

Ray is my buddy John’s Dad. One of the oldest living WWII Vets in the state of Ohio, Ray served in the Navy as a radio operator on a bomber in the Pacific and other venues. The Hurlbut family and the Kaukonen family have become very close over the years. Our daughter Izze carries the name Lucy on her passport. Lucy was Ray’s wife… John’s mom.

Liam, Ray, Nessa and Izze show team effort with candle duty

Liam, Ray, Nessa and Izze show team effort with candle duty

‘How are you doing?’ I might ask… and Ray is just as likely to answer, ‘Still cheating Death, Jorma. Still cheating Death’ That’s a dark witticism… but Ray is not dark at all. To have a friend such as him is such a blessing.

Ray at 24 in 1944

Ray at 24 in 1944

And a hearty thanks to Kevin Morgan for his great poster!

That was Sunday with Ray and the Hurlbuts.

Today Vanessa and I drove to Cincinnati for our dear friend Walt Sample’s funeral. Walt was called Home suddenly for reasons that may elude those of us left behind. Was his work done? Was it simply the way it was? This is not for me to say. I do know that Walt touched many lives from many worlds… different sorts of people with humanity in common. Today at the funeral home Walt bound us together with his spirit and I shall hold this feeling close to my heart as long as I live.

You made a difference Walt… and you continue to do so!

We love you brother!

We love you brother!

Honor, love, respect… These are the measure of a man! Ray has them… and Walt will always have them. I can only aspire to follow in the footsteps of such truly good men!

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I’ll Be Seeing You Walt…

December 15th, 2016 Jorma 32 comments
Walt Sample & Toby

Walt Sample & Toby

It is ten degrees this frosty morning (Thursday, December 15, 2016) here at the Fur Peace Ranch in Southeast Ohio. Maverick and I just came in from a chilly but necessary walk across the parking lot and down the old road to the A Frame. The remains of the Super Moon were falling slowly into the tree line. From our vantage point on the road we could see the lights twinkling from Donnie’s farm over there by SR 681. My heart was heavy with the loss of our dear friend Walt Sample late last night. December 14th, 2016, was just shy of becoming December 15th when Walt’s son called to give us the news.

There is never a good time for bad news and I realize that on this planet we call home, millions die each day. That said, each of us humans navigates the world with our own universe and the circles of these universes may or may not intersect. There may be magic in these meetings. I have been fortunate in my life to have had a number of these meetings but one of the most memorable was with Walt Sample. He came to us at the Fur Peace Ranch a number of years ago… I can’t really remember when. It was immediately apparent to me that we were born to be friends and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

He was a man of infinite spirit with a love of all things good in this world and the rare ability to find good in most things. He had talents in many fields. In his art whether it be music or painting, the purist of truths always shone through utterly free of artifice. One must check out Big Mule Music and you will get some small idea of what I’m talking about.

Walt & Jorma at the Source Of The Sacred Soil

Walt & Jorma at the Source Of The Sacred Soil

In late August, one of our dear friends, Rob McNurlin, was down on The Crossroads in Mississippi and brought some dirt back from said crossroads. We called it Devil Dirt… and there was something dangerous about it. Walt thought we should strike back on the good vibe and came up with the idea of Sacred Soil from the Fur Peace Ranch. We had been doing some excavating so we had a huge pile of dirt. Walt loaded up the sifter, we made labels and le voila, Fur Peace Ranch Sacred Soil! I say ‘we,’ but it was all Walt, sitting in garage next to the Harleys giving substance to yet another dream. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well here in Southeast Ohio and every little bit counts.

Walt and another kind of mule

Walt and another kind of mule

A renaissance man…father… husband… brother to all who were authentic. He didn’t suffer fools handily… he disdained poseurs… but he treated all with respect.

He passed suddenly, without warning and he although it is not for me to say how any man perceives his own passing, I would imagine that Walt would have wanted it this way. His great heart, having done its duty, retired the field. He had many different relationships with all he knew. I did not write with him. We thought about it… talked about it… but never got around to it. We were, however, friends!

All of us who knew Walt will miss him in our own way, but none of us will ever forget him. For me that ever-present smile, hearty handshake and the sly look that said he had something really cool to show me will live in my heart always.

At this point in my life, unexpected phone calls as often as not do not bring good news. Simply put, as the book of life is opened some of us do not make the next page and that’s just the way it is.

So in closing this sad but yet celebratory little note as I looked at the Super Moon last night and early this morning I was immediately reminded that by some strange coincidence yesterday morning I was listening to Jimmy Durante singing I’ll Be Seeing You by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal.

I’ll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day and through
In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children’s carousel
The chestnut trees
The wishing well
I’ll be seeing you
In every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s night and day
I’ll always think of you that way
I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you
I’ll be seeing you

I’ll be seeing you my friend… in my heart always… In the meantime

Fair wind and following seas brother. My the spirit wind always be at your back!

Big indeed!

Big indeed!

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