With Steve’s art gaining attention, we thought it would be fun to share the story of Crispin’s guitar as one of the seminal stops along the journey that brought us to this place in time.
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Musicians make music. It’s what they do – discovering truths in progressions and phrases, curling up in the spaces between the notes.

But Crispin Mungure was so driven to catch the melodies in his mind that he did more than make music. He made his own guitar.

It’s likely you’ve never seen a musical instrument as crude as Crispin’s handmade guitar. In his tiny village of Weya in rural Zimbabwe, 17-year old Crispin lives with his father and younger siblings in a mud hut on communal land, land with marginal agricultural promise that was given to native Zimbabweans when white colonists came to their part of Africa. The economy in Zimbabwe is near collapse; in the village of Weya, known for its women artists, there is no money to buy musical instruments.

So Crispin took a single plank of rough wood and carved it in the shape of a guitar, hollowing out the body until it looked like an empty bowl. Across the top he affixed a piece of flattened metal cut from a colorful vegetable oil can, with a hole in the middle. He fastened it to the body with handmade nails fashioned from scrap copper. He scratched fret marks across the neck with a knife and fashioned rough pegs from wooden sticks. Now all he needed were guitar strings; he removed brake cables from old bicycles in his village, stripped off their plastic sheaths, unwound the wire and affixed it to his guitar.

The tone was tinny and faint. But Crispin had his guitar.

“The person who works with me in Zimbabwe, named John, said to me, ‘There’s this guy in Weya who’s a really talented musician. He’s composing music as well as playing and singing. You have to hear him,’” recalls Dick Adams. After years as a professor at Lewis & Clark College, Dick left in 1999 to create the nonprofit Zimbabwe Artists Project, to help the women of Weya become self-sufficient by marketing their art in America. Last fall Dick was in Zimbabwe and heard Crispin play his homemade guitar.

Dick was so taken by Crispin’s talent that the next time he phone Portland he suggested that his wife, Wendy Rankin, stop by Artichoke Music in Portland and pick up some real guitar strings for Crispin’s guitar. Dick’s brother was about to visit Zimbabwe and could deliver the strings.

So Wendy went to see Steve Einhorn, who owns Artichoke Music with his wife, Kate Power.

For the uninitiated, Artichoke Music is a retail store that sells musical instruments. “But it’s also about the music,” says Steve. “We need the retail business to pay for the teaching we do and for the performance space in the back. It’s very important that we continue making music.”

Wendy described Crispin’s guitar and asked about guitar strings. Steve Einhorn responded, “Sure, we have guitar strings. But would he rather have a real guitar?”

A new shipment of Godin guitars had just arrived. “Their guitars are our bread and butter,” says Steve. “We sell hundreds of them…and they’re beautiful.”

Wendy called Dick in Zimbabwe, and he talked to his Zimbabwean associate, John. Would it cause a problem in the community if Crispin had a nice guitar? Would it get stolen? John thought it was a good idea.

Steve picked out a beautiful blue acoustic guitar, put it in a case and tossed in guitar strings, and Dick’s brother carried them to Africa.

“We drove down these ravines and tracks … to Crispin’s homestead,” say Dick. “John said to him some wonderful and wise words” about the need for Crispin to obey his father, continue his commitment to his studies and care for his younger siblings.

Then they opened the case and handed Crispin his new guitar. “He was stunned,” says Dick. “It was just the most wonderful thing. Crispin started playing. His friend, Tatenda, took out sticks and started using the guitar case as a drum.” Crispin put on an Artichoke Music T-shirt; Dick took pictures of him with his new guitar.

And then Dick asked if Crispin would consider giving his handmade guitar to Steve Einhorn in gratitude. “You could see in his eyes there was no question,” say Dick. “He was delighted to have this guitar and delighted to give up the other one.”

So that’s how Crispin Mungure’s guitar ended up on the wall at Artichoke Music, in Portland’s Hawthorne district. “We deal with a lot of gearheads who have a lot of money, and they’ve been on the Internet and have learned everything there is to know about everything there is to know,” says Steve. “How to emphasize this, how to get rid of feedback – and they’re not playing music.”

“This kid wanted to play music and he’s very poor, so he made himself a guitar.” Steve’s customers ask about the rusted, rough-looking contraption: “Everyone is so moved by it, so taken by it.” Steve says the guitar “is a symbol of what it’s really all about; making and performing music. It’s a reminder. It’s a charm.”

Margie Boule – The Oregonian

Kathleen~Cathleen

Kathleen~Cathleen

Kate here… Memorial Day ahead. The temperature belies Spring. I’m still in my black down jacket, ducking in and out of rain showers and errands today.  Now I get to settle in for the evening.

There are two things percolating I want to write about. One is about “the one thing” that strikes me on any given day. This is a theme that has been working at a slow boil on my back burner for months now. It will need its own page…

The other is the announcement of two new blogs: mothertone –  That’s me.  A me you might or might not know.  Either way, it’s a slice of life as I know it and a possible surprise to the unsuspecting friend, acquaintance, fan or customer. Blog “mothertone” speaks from my voice as a birthmother.  I’ve been in reunion with my forty-something daughter, Cathy, for twenty-two years now.

Cathy and I have been writing Kathleen~Cathleen for seven years.  It is a memoir from two perspectives, me the birthmother I am and she as the child-in-reunion she is. For seven years we have been brewing on the same chapters, designed to describe the turning points in our relationship.  We are committed to being in relationship for life. Kathleen~Cathleen explores the challenges inherent in a long term relationship-in-reunion.

Housed in the framework, the culture of our times, we found ourselves in an undiscovered place – a crossroads with no roadmap. There was no language, literally no words, to tell us what to call one another or how to introduce each other or carry on in society. Even today, there is still no word in the dictionary for what is only recently referred to as “birthmother.”  An ancient delivery system of child to an family, the word itself seems to have been banished from a designated definition, place or description in the book of words. No discussion can exist that uses a word that doesn’t exist.  A turning of the linguistic back created an invisible wall between what is and what is not to shield the saddest of separations in the family domain, that of child from mother and mother from the child.

Cathy and I are protective of the truth harboring our relationship.  Since the conception of our book in January 2004, we decided to write freely – together – but not to share our writing with one another until we were done.  We would leave the truth of our words to describe our mutual experiences and let them grow in a  garden of chapters, unaffected and uninterrupted by the gaze of birthmother on the words of her child and the child’s eyes on the mother’s as they attempt to describe the journey from and to each other from the inside out – a memoir in duet.

Kathleen~Cathleen.  Our names are just one of many synchronicities common in our story.  “At 18” opened in labor & delivery and was followed by an eighteen year-old girl calling the adoption agency to inquire after birth records only to find that her birthmother had called the same day.

From beginning to end, this story describes life-in-reunion in the long term – after the honeymoon glow grows dim and the shadow of loss comes to anchor in grief, and the journey through the uncharted rift of relinquishment-in-reunion that comes to roost in all the colors and shades of reconciliation.

Many drafts in, the beginning is finished and our friend and editor, Barbara, hand-delivered it in New York City on Mother’s Day, two weeks ago.  For the first time, eyes and hearts will take in both sides of what we’ve each written and they will decide what we’ve got here.

We think we know what we’ve got here.

We’d like to share it with you.

So now, we’ve started new blogs to begin to talk about it.

My daughter, Cathy’s (Cathleen) is ReunionEyes and mine (Kathleen) is mothertone – our side roads from the life and adventures of she, as mother of two young sons in Portland, Oregon and me on the maternal side of the singing, string-playing songwriter you’ve been running into over music all these years.

I know it’s on the personal side. That hasn’t stopped anybody from following the thread of our history over the years – the music, the art, the writing, the shop, the stories – it’s ALL been personal – all along.

We just happen to be in a business that is about people, folks, community, music, harmony; and this is one of my stories about being a girl who came of age between two worlds and grew old(er) and wise(r) with some grit, salt, tears and laughter mixed in. It’s all in there.

If you prefer, you can stick with the music, the ukulele, the song-singing, the music calendar and not stop to worry yourself about the intrepid territory (did she say birthmother?) described there.

We’ve always been out, Cathy and me, but that’s a whisper in a noisy storm of unspoken stories shifting to be heard.  It’s been a very quiet theme all these years, decades, centuries – why yell about it now? Well, it’s too a quiet story to hold it back forever.  It may just be that the time has come to let this story out.

So this is just one way of talking about our story. Blogging from both sides is an interactive side-journal to writing the book.  The blog is one way for both of us to talk about our process and the things that we think about – inside and outside of our chapters.  We’ll write freely about mutual topics we choose. We won’t expose ourselves to each other’s views and answers to our questions in common just yet.  YOU, the reader will learn what we both think  – long before we do – and you’ll come to your own conclusions – a bit wiser than either of us. The story is bigger than the two of us put together. That’s why we decided to tell it.

Kathleen~Cathleen and the two collateral blogs are a social experiment between Cathy and me.  We have chosen to commit our experiences to words, in the hope that understanding for people affected by adoption, relinquishment and reunion, will grow and that they will be encouraged by what is possible.  Imagined or realized, reunion opens much more than a door to a greeting from a long lost relative.  It is a family claim.

Now, according to ground rules Cathy and I established for ourselves seven years ago, we are going to blog freely without visiting each other’s blogs or writing.  We are still deep in drafts of Kathleen~Cathleen. Our aim remains to remain in a free-zone from the influence of each other on our writing until we have completed the story.

Someday soon we will read it all and this part of our shared privacy protecting words and chapters will be finished and over.  Until then, we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing for a long time now. It’s a safe way for us to tell the story. It gives us the room to breathe as we approach turning point chapters in our relationship and spit out the hard parts along with the rest, some in words that haven’t been said out loud before this.

So, I hereby invite you, dear reader, to witness a previously unexposed part of the life of Kate; the Kate you know and the Kate you don’t.  My blog at mothertone will reflect the dilemmas and victories of a birthmother-in-reunion. You are also invited to Cathy’s blog and thoughts from the world of an adoptee in longterm reunion at ReunionEyes.

We hope that our work on Kathleen~Cathleen will create a roadmap for anyone seeking reunion and that it will give them courage to seek what’s possible by reading our story.

We appreciate your comments as we bring our project, book and blogs into the world. Another birth of sorts – only this one belongs to the family of man – the story belongs to all of us.

Feel free to explore mothertone and ReunionEyes for a taste of what we’re up to and respond with anything you’d like to share.  This is an interactive effort that we hope will benefit anyone interested in understanding or pursuing reunion.

Harmony is no small gift. We appreciate that much of what is discussed on these blogs may come as a surprise to readers, even close family and friends.  Please bear with us as we allow the true discussion to cross the table – if not yet with each other, then with you. We appreciate the protection of our privacy as we begin to introduce our process of writing Kathleen~Cathleen and the variety of forms its effect may have take flight.

Thank you for the incredible support so many of you have given us over the years – in our music and art – as we continue to participate in the ongoing parables of Life we share, observe and sally through as a community in art, music, heart and soul.   – kate

A few paragraphs from October 13th and now it’s November 12!  It was almost a month ago since I sat down to try to describe all this – and even then I only got as far as two paragraphs….

I woke up scared.  Eyelids fluttered like window shades up and down as thoughts of this trip ran back and forth between the memory of looking at the map at the kitchen table back home and this ribbon of road we were following up and down to the cadence of an automated British accent from the GPS on the dashboard who says which way to turn, sometimes just in time, sometimes not at all.  She seems to have a speech impediment and is starting to show signs she’s moody.  “Her” name is Serena.

Shades of Serena’s unwitting emphasis on the wrong syllables as she directs our turns ahead sends us laughing as we imitate her gargling the last syllable , turning “boulevard” into gutteral bits, spitting from the garbage disposal “boul – e – vaaaaarrgh! that would send us again into hysterics.

Vapor trails of people from the tail end of sleep.  Heliotrope flips from snap dreaming to awakening.  Consciousness becomes the room we’ve been waking in for the past 12 days.  Snug in the couchbed, Steve’s head is countersunk like an egg in carton tucked in the oak corner on the open bed with the personality of a couch, perched between the stove and the side wall.  The driver’s side.  His back follows the van, his footprint beneath the windows that surround the midline covered from view by lined natural linen curtains.

Now it the 43rd day and we’re in Punta Gorda, Florida.

We’ve been through Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington DC and headed south for Florida.  After a wonderful concert for the Greater Washington DC folk society in Andy & Sondra Wallace’s historic home in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, we blasted into the rainy night for Jacksonville.

It was a long drive this morning from West Palm Beach.  Thunderheads lined the sky all day, deepening the blue contrast between light and dark. We are with my parents.  We will be here for a few days.  It’s been a coupe of years since our last time together.  We are all a little older and it’s so good to see each other we are just taking each other in, hello.  It is a time to savor.

Then it will be a mad dash for the west coast.  We need to be in Carlsbad, California by a week from Monday at 7 o’clock.   Then it’s Thanksgiving at Mary’s in Los Osos on the Central California Coast and a few days off the road.

Today is Thursday.  We’re in the southern gulf coast of Florida.

Dad gets his favorite guitar, the one that’s leaning on the kitchen table, and picks it up with a “What do you say, how about a song?”

Steve gets his.  I pull out the banjo.  It’s a beautiful thing.  “When I was falling like a leaf from the tree…” sings out from between the strings.  Harmony.  It’s right it should be, this song.  I wrote it for him after all.  “Ole Dad”.  He grins with a smile that takes up his whole face.

Dad’s got a songs he learned from his Happy Traum’s Homespun DVD.  He loves Happy Traum and says, “I feel like I know him from his tapes” and the song is sweet.  He’s been learning guitar bits from Happy’s instructional videos for years now.  Soft, not too loud.  Just loud enough to hear it.   It’s a version of “I’ll Fly Away” in G with a dropped D.  It’s got the Happy trademark arrangement and sound that makes it his.  He picks the tune sweet and naturally, no tension as though fingertips must have been made to tickle sweet melodies out of the guitar strings waiting to be plucked.  It’s a fine thing.

Many miles ahead of us.  Today it’s time to be with my parents and take in the life they have here.  We’ll give a uke workshop here tomorrow and a concert in the evening.  Then it’s 2641 miles from here to Carlsbad, California by November 23.  One foot in front of the other.  One song at a time.Day