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Dan Philips Grateful Palate & my high altitude dreamin’

July 15, 2008

When I was in college, my environmental lit and writing class taught by Page Stegner (Wallace Stegner’s son) went on a rafting trip through the goosenecks on the San Juan River in the American Southwest. I traveled there with other students in climber Mike Carville’s brand new VW pop-up Westfalia campervan, and we stopped on the way at his dad’s place at Northstar Lake Tahoe which he was developing. That night I had a very vivid and strange dream which included walking in a leather mini-skirt along a trail in the redwoods; it was night but there was a raven and a glowing banana slug talking and walking with me. In the morning, over coffee, I shared the dream with Mike’s dad. He said having these kinds of dreams happened all the time to his clients who came up from the sea level in the San Francisco Bay Area; evidently the rapid change in elevation contributes to bizarre dreams. Another theory proposes that it’s related to lack of oxygen in the brain. The change in elevation might explain the dream I had at the White Mountains the other night. I was at an arts and crafts fair, much like the one held Fourth of July in Ventucky where my sister was showing her mosiac artworks.

In the dream, I stopped to look at some mosaics made from abalone shells, mainly the blue ones I associate with Australia. I notice a familiar face amongst the typical oceanic patterns. Who was it? Someone I knew, I’d met, but who, I wondered in that dream like way. Then I realized it was Dan Philips, owner of the Grateful Palate–the artist had turned his image into not one, but several mosaics of different sizes! Nearby she displayed an article about him with a picture. Mosaics were also decorated with the words “grateful” and “grateful palate.” When the artist saw me looking at the pieces with Dan’s image on them, she rushed over to gush about how she was inspired by him, inspired so much by his devotion to aesthetics and storytelling that she decided to do these mosaics in homage to him.

Maybe I can blame this dream on the altitude; after all, I was sleeping at over 10,000′ elevation. But I had also just enjoyed a bottle of Marquis Philips Roogle shiraz, and have been mulling over how to write about meeting the Grateful Palate himself.

And yes, I did find meeting him, and hearing about his commitment to quality, to art, to a purely aesthetically inspiring approach, inspiring, and motivating.

Someone told me once about a strategy of dream interpretation where the dreamer is everything in the dream–that everything in the dream is the dreamer–and to write about the dream as the different items in the dream as in “I am the mosaic artist,” ” I am a mosaic of Dan Philips,” “I am a mosaic of the word grateful”…maybe even “I am Dan Philips” ! But I don’t think I’ll do that. Not any time soon anyway. I’ll interpret it instead as a good sign about the job I am dreaming about…

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