July 6th-10th, Yes Trek Days -4 thru 0



we advance we retrace our story


I left our home in northwestern Ohio with my lovely husband, Jonh, and our four children, Alanna, Damien, Adrian and Liam, on a four-hour drive to Union Station in Chicago. I wistfully deposited them on a train to California, where we would reunite two weeks later at the home of Wendy & Curt Vig for our drive home. It was far more hard than I'd imagined to leave and be away from my family, for despite all the subsequent fun, my heart ached the whole while.


I then began a valiant effort to be myself and take and give pleasure in the company of Yesfriends. Paul Pettengill lives in the Chicago area, and he had invited me to stay with him for the days leading up to Yann Clochec's arrival in Columbus, Ohio. I pulled in around dinnertime to find to my delight he had carried in a fabulous Indian dinner of samosas and curries and chutnies and pulao rice, complimented by a new wine to me, the heavenly-sweet California Gewürztraminer.


paul before gewürztraminer



paul after gewürztraminer


Paul had offered to help me with a recording I meant to present to Elizabeth Gips while in California. (Some of you may remember that Elizabeth interviewed Jon Anderson about fairies, ghosts, Vangelis and spirituality, in the spring of 1997, for her Bay Area radio show, "Changes." She and I began corresponding when I wrote to ask her permission to post a transcript of that interview.) She enjoyed a poem of mine I sent to her, "Skydance," and had asked me to recite it on tape to play on her radio show. Paul told me he'd written a guitar accompaniment to play behind my recital, but he entirely surprised me by transforming the poem into a whole song, replete with melody, harmonies, guitar and supreme keys performed by a professional friend of his, Mark Gleed (who is currently working on a project with Alan Holdsworth of UK fame). Paul played for me the song he wrote for Wendy's poem, "I Wish," then a few songs of his own, to get me accustomed to his unique and sincere sound and style before treating me to the new-improved, multi-dimensional, musical, cosmic "Skydance." Wow, was I amazed. I was to play the song with pride to all the friends I made on the trip out west and to my family after.

-- merry celeste


when i begin to reach for what right is

i wonder, wander while

green trees tower taller

the sky grows deeper, receding

like the other's eyes do the more you stare

the ground below goes softer, yielding.

but my feet are sure

and i am leaving uneven footprints

as i dance along singing.

i remember

that suddenly while i was looking

at you

strange clouds came out of nowhere

and a shower of emotion rained down.

before i know

my steps become

each a reflecting pool

to remind the sky

how wonderfully blue it is.

the sun can and moon can,

each star can see itself

many, many times across the next

day and night

in these mirrors left behind

by the roving gesture of my joy.



I was tired the first night, having endured the emotion that flowed from the wrenching away of my family, and also exhausted from the 5-hour drive. But in my exhilaration I agreed we should have Paul's friend and Vangelis authority, Brad Merriman, come by and give us a slide presentation. He had an incredible show of images from the Going for the One and Relayer eras that really brought back the memories of being at these concerts. I hope that at some point he will make them available to Yesfans everywhere, because they are just too amazing to miss. They transport you back, take you there, front row. Brad also brought along his collection of Vangelis recordings and treated us to the same while sharing with us his vast Vangelis knowledge and lists of Pappathanassiou rarities to watch out for. Thanks again, Brad!


Paul had to go to his computer language boot camp class one day, and he returned that night to excitedly present to me an audio cassette he'd found of Vangelis' L'Apocalypse Des Animaux. A song from this recording, " Creation Du Monde," was played as a preface to each of the four movements of Tales from Topographic Oceans during the live performances in 1974, as Jon Anderson introduced the tunes. It was also the first Vangelis music Jon had ever heard, the recording that caused him to seek out and hook up with his future friend and co-creator, Vangelis. What a find, Paul!


During the rarefied days of my stay, we got the oil changed in the van, drank more Gewürztraminer, and took a walk in Paul's father's neighborhood (he was housesitting for the summer) to seek out blooming fragrant linden trees.


merry in linden


We also recorded another song together -- the first, I hope, of more collaborative music to come from Paul and myself. I had written "Treesong" for the preservation of old growth forests. (I am an unabashed tree hugger and had composed this song of solidarity for an organization called FAN, the Forest Action Network, who are embroiled in a summer-long campaign with Greenpeace and an indigenous tribal nation, the Nuxalk, in the ancient coastal cedar forests of British Columbia, Canada. Together they are blockading logging roads, chaining themselves to machinery, hurtling legal documents and otherwise thwarting efforts to clear-cut the ancient, sacred groves there.) An environmental music singing team named Magpie had expressed interest in recording my song when I sang it to them between sets at a concert they gave on Earthday in April, 1997. I had been wishing to record the melody for them, and being at Paul's provided that opportunity.


recording with Paul


I had never done anything remotely like this recording in all my life and both Paul and I had fantastic fun with it. We downloaded a photo of the forested coastal islands from FAN's web site and taped it to the microphone.



The time I spent in Chicago served to charge me with joy for my journey west and I arrived at an important decision. It had taken a little while to become reacquainted with Paul and relax enough to be able to sing. But we were so close and comfortable toward the end of my visit that we both cried as I was leaving. I regretted not just beginning, the moment I'd arrived, with complete trust in my friend and a playful willingness to indulge in full-blown, celebratory self-expression.


leaving paul's, expressing myself with penny whistle, his tape & letter to wendy,

vangelis' oceanic cd and l'apocalypse des animaux tape,

and my very own intellectual property!


Normally, when you meet someone, you both are reserved and polite, slowly allowing the other's personality unfold at a comfortable, relaxed pace. But timid, get-acquainted platitudes are sometimes awkward and always take time, a luxury I did not and would not have with Paul or the others on the trip. So I decided that I would assert the most exuberant me from the beginning in each of the meetings with Yesfriends to follow. We all would have so much creativity to offer one another -- I KNEW this. This uncommon and brief time I had to myself, unhindered by kinder, would be a perfect opportunity to have the highest time possible. I know there were moments of my being over the top and I apologize to those of you on the Trek and in this story who may have felt at any time intimidated by my outward ways. I hope that reading this gives you some understanding of why I was so energetic. I just couldn't help not helping myself to all the untapped creative energy lying within you all, waiting for a reason to come out to play. It became my goal to provide you all with a reason.


wonder what idea can form this very day

that takes it's time to wake to such a chance

a dream

these words

clearly to my heart

to my heart


my merry tale **** Day 1