Tag Archives: challenges

Cleaning the Closet Reveals a Clever Classical Guitar Recording Tip

Laura Bruno Lilly with Prisloe classical guitar - practise selfie

Hello, hello from inside the mirror!

Hello, hello from inside the mirror! This is my attempt at a practice session selfie – using a dinosaur of a camera, no less. Notice the placement of the pillow, the height of the footstool and yes, indeed, those comfy tennies. This is my normal performance set up; albeit with a change of clothes and shoes.

It works.

However, in the recording studio, my beloved Dynarette pillow makes plastic-y squeaks during my playing as I tend to move a bit from time to time while I’m ‘in the moment’.

This is not a good thing.

Hardly noticeable by anyone on stage or off during a live performance, those squeaks wreak havoc to one’s ears while listening to playbacks of pieces played to perfection in the recording studio.

In my early attempts to silence those squeaks, I tried covering the plastic pillow with a cloth, but it only caused my guitar to slip and slide its way off its intended perch. Bottom line: getting rid of those squeaks meant getting rid of that Dynarette. But – how to replace its much needed function in the positioning of my guitar? Then I remembered an old trick: just hike up the footstool to its highest position. Once done, I quickly remembered why I had neatly forgotten that trick: it doesn’t do anything but complicate playability and crumple up one’s posture.

Back to square one.

Often when I am stumped, I’ll do something mindless, like say, clean house. So, I placed the Prisloe on its stand, turned around from the mirror, opened up our tiny clothes closet and began decluttering.

And what did I come across at first glance, but that pair of black patent leather shoes with the chunky 3 inch heels. That pair of shoes I hardly wear, but keep ‘just in case’.

Let me just say right here and right now, I have never ever been a high-heel type of gal. Especially the tall, pointy-sharp kind.  Wedgies, yes.  Pumps, yes.  And sometimes in an extreme circumstance, ones with chunky 3 inch heels. I’m not the most graceful lady on the planet and even less so while bumble-walking wearing skyscraper footwear.

Here in the South, that’s sacrilegious – Meh! – I’ve always been more of an Earth Shoe Mama.

Shoe & footstool set up for recording purposes only

shoe & footstool setup for recording purposes

Shoe, footstool, pillow for performing purposes

shoe, footstool & pillow setup for performance purposes

But here’s the thing: I got this wild idea to slip on that left foot black patent leather 3 inch chunky heeled shoe and try it on for size in tandem with my footstool.

Problem solved!

 

 

 How’s that for a clever classical guitar recording tip?

note: yep, I’m headed back into the recording studio for a brief session to resume work on my SwS project and Puffin Grant fulfillment

project4now status: finished

project4now quilt finished lbl 2016

project4now: whole-cloth quilted throw

The promised update on the results of my project4now experiment follows, but first a photo of the completed project is in order.

Now then, as a reminder, I decided to challenge myself by using different materials and assembly methods in this project. Those challenge-experiments are presented here with results noted in italics. Continue reading

Giving Voice: Cancer, Survival and the New Year

note: I came across this post and felt it needed to be passed on as ‘giving voice’ to someone who needs to know that their voice counts.

Survival

There is nothing funny about cancer. Continue reading

Sharing a Double Grief

The day after my cousins and Aunt Dolores returned to Chicago from Dad’s funeral* in Colorado, my Aunt Betty fell, broke her arm and entered into hospice care within the week.

Unlike Dad, she and his other sibs were/are lifelong Cubs fans. And I confess I caught the cub-bug from them back in the day!  Freshly back from Colorado** hubby and I settled into a regular routine of watching 2016’s historic World Series. It helped ease re-entry into our life away from loved ones, life’s new normal and tending to everyday living in our little rental here in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, my cousins and Aunt Dolores had the television on for all the games, too. They spent time with Aunt Betty during her last ‘dream-sleep’ days listening and talking with her about all the exciting baseball action.

On November 1st, Dad’s sister joined the increasing Family party up in heaven.

When news spread over the Bruno Grapevine about her passing, I took comfort in thinking she had the best seat in the Universe to see those Cubbies take the World Series in all its victorious glory***.

The very next day, Terry and I took to the road again to attend the wake/funeral mass on Chicago’s south side.

Going back to old family locations, rejoining the cousins and the last two remaining of Dad’s sibs proved to be an unexpected blessing in the midst of my own raw grief.

I received an extra gift from my aunt – a chance to honor her – standing for Dad – and a chance to continue in the healing and comfort with Family – Coming back to my roots and laying Dad to rest there, too.

Surrounded by Family still in mourning over the death of Dad; beginning the trail of sorrow again with the passing of Aunt Betty – shared sorrow, shared support.

Joining joyful memories with the present shifting of Family ‘residency’ – sharing in the double grief – makes me think Aunt Betty waited to sit at that Family Table till Dad would be there, too.

Betty Jane (Bruno) Evans
2/7/1928 – 11/1/2016

Miss all of you…

Last trip to Chicago with Ma (2004) - missing only 4 oldsters. l - r: Adua, Dennis, Dad, Elmer, Betty, Frank, Rose, Ma, Dolores with Lizzy

Last trip to Chicago with Ma (2004) – missing only 4 Bruno oldsters. l – r: Adua, Dennis, Dad, Elmer, Betty, Frank, Rose, Ma, Dolores with Lizzy

 

*Dad died 9/22, we held the funeral mass, internment and celebration of life feast on 10/14 to enable more out-of-town family to attend

**Terry drove out of Hurricane Matthew on 10/8 in order to be with me pre-post funeral, and most of all to bring me back home with him; we left 10/21

***Cool tidbit: another cousin got to see the celebration parade up front since he has a law office on Michigan Ave

Answer to Riddle

Re-read the Riddle of the Wind Turbines post, ponder it once again, then scroll down as directed to read the answer-comment and our replies to that comment.

Congrats to Chris for being the first and only commenter to get the answer to this riddle.

Hope you guys had fun with this challenge. Now excuse me while I go watch the second game of the World Series…go Cubs!

Riddle of the Wind Turbines

Note: Now that we’re back from CO and home in SC with 24/7 access to secure internet, I’ve wondered how to re-enter the blogging scene after my precious ‘Summer of Dad’.  Hubby sent this Riddle to his co-workers today, his first day back to work and it seemed the perfect segue…I asked him to pass it on and post it here for your comments/solution…Enjoy! ~LBL

Driving on I-70 in Kansas there is a stretch of highway where there are hundreds of giant wind turbines used to generate electricity.  On Friday, October 21, 2016 Laura and I were driving through the area.

A common sight driving through Kansas along I-70

A common sight driving through Kansas along I-70

The wind was from the west going east.  The wind turbine blades were moving from west to east (at its apex).  All turbines were facing south.

Laura pointed out that some of the turbines were rotating clockwise and some were rotating counter clockwise.  Given the above information, how could this be?  Can you solve the riddle?

And oh, by the way, Yes, we are back.

———–
Answer starts at Chris’ comment below…read replies to her answer-comment for further explanations by both myself and Laura.  

UKE to the rescue

This coming Saturday morning, I leave for my third and quite possibly, last, scheduled trip to Colorado to visit with Dad (note-operative word here is scheduled). With it comes the usual deliberation on what to pack; most of which is rote routine. But those few variable items that require more thought on just how to pack along for the trip are often troublesome.

As a musician, it’s always about the music.

Yes, I have my NOTION software available to me on my laptop if the muse tickles my fancy, or I feel the need to work on compositional works-in-progress.  Heck, I’m so old-school I consider it a badge of honor to whip out my staff paper notebook and jot down ideas using archaic graphite dots.

But that’s not what I’m meaning. And I’m not talking about iPod, streaming or even radio station music, either.

I’m talking about how does one pack that part of your essential being that doesn’t fit into a suitcase, in the overhead bin on an airplane, or be safely transported as general baggage without risk or costing a fortune?  This common question faces all instrumentalists, yet there is no one-size-fits-all answer to it.

Coping with life – the good, the bad and the ugly (to borrow a phrase from a fav Spaghetti Western) – has always been reflected in my music. Prayers, supplications, questions, acceptance; hurts, healings and happy dances; all the dialogue, working through, pouring out – done with my instrument.

Rental 'beater guitar' placed across scrap quilt I made for Ma & Dad ~ 1983

Rental ‘beater guitar’ placed across scrap quilt I made for Ma & Dad ~ 1983

Borrowing or renting a classical guitar is not as easy as say, a violin. I won’t go into the technical details of why, but suffice it to say that the “beater guitar”* I scouted out to rent during my first extended visit, while hard to procure, did deliver as a sort-of security blanket instrument during that five week time span.

My second visit lasted two weeks, a doable length of time to go without direct instrumental contact so that counted as an easy fix.

But…those were solutions for then. What about now?

This time around, I’m slated for a three week stay. As much as those visits are a precious blessing, they are also very intense; filled with tender moments alongside heart wrenching end-of-life realities.

This time around, hubby booked my flight on another airline, one which allows 1 bag and 1 personal item for free as carry-ons.

This time around, I’ll stuff the computer bag with my wallet, snacks and paperback mystery novel as usual, and tote my UKE as the other carry on.

After all, George Harrison composed ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ on his UKE when his primary instrument was unavailable for use.

*”beater guitar” is a term used by cgers and acoustic guitarists alike that refers to an instrument that can be taken anywhere without fear of ruining it…case in point: around the campfire during wilderness treks.

***

One of my fav renditions of this piece follows and indeed, inspired several of my students at the time to ask me to teach them the UKE…thus forcing me to pursue a certain level of mastery over this little gem of an instrument -

 

Spider Webs, Jacob’s Ladder and ‘Losing the Strand’

Golden Orb with stabilimenta, South Carolina

Our front porch Golden Orb, spinning a ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ addition to its web base

The first full summer we lived in the South we encountered massive and prolific webs of this indigenous species of spider, the Golden Orb.

The spiders themselves get to be quite large and are wickedly beautiful…meaning, these are gloriously colored arachnids that come equipped with some seriously sharp and long legs.

What I found most intriguing was the amount of detail in their webs. Many spiders offer intricate designs in their web-construction, but these Golden Orbs use those as a base on which to further weave additional layers of web construction.

I call them the Jacob’s Ladder addition. Continue reading

My Son – The Sharp Dressed Man

please, enjoy the music while you read the following, I promise it is related to the main thrust of this blog post…and since there are several guitar solos, well, you don’t really need to watch the lyrics up on the screen

Okay, so I’ve been starting and stopping in the writing of several blog posts.

I need to feed the blog, yes, but I gotta say my focus has been a bit wonky since returning from my five weeks visiting Dad.  I started to write about that in a post entitled “Spider Webs, Jacob’s Ladder and Losing the Strand” but could only get so far when I’d lose the strand…(to be finished and posted at a later date).

Then on to a relatively easy Shoutout about the great Maestro Ricardo (and my friend) receiving a prestigious award at the annual GFA Convention in Denver, held just one week after I left. I wanted to attend, but those plans got trumped (don’t know if I like that term anymore…) with the Dad-card. No regrets at all, but it does leave the “Shoutout: In Honor of the Maestro Ricardo” in the queue to be sent sometime whenever I can do a final edit on it…again, the focus thing is the limiting factor here. It may never get finished and sent out since it’s more (out)dated news.

I discovered early on that I didn’t have the energy required to return to my current Swimming with Swans projects. This of course lead to frustration because I needed something to do in the realm of creating while navigating this new pattern of four weeks here and two weeks there; along with the emotional stuff that goes along with end-of-life and long distance elder care.

So I picked up the needle…that phrase is loaded, eh? I first mentioned this phrase in my post “The Rusty Quilter” that describes my history and re-introduction to quilting and fiber art.

Whole-cloth quilt top basted and ready for straight stitch machine-quilting

Whole-cloth quilt top basted and ready for straight stitch machine-quilting

That said, I began in earnest my new ‘now’ project totally unrelated to anything other than as a pleasurable creative outlet: the whole-cloth quilted throw; which will be discussed in greater depth in yet another WIP blog post, as yet unnamed.

During today’s immersion in some straight line machine quilting, I listened to an Amazon Prime Classic Rock Song List.

When ZZ Tops’ tune, The Sharped Dressed Man came on full blast in my earphones and into my brain, I remembered my Jo-Jo and his new obsession with dressing snappy for work.

Joe Lilly is the Sharp Dressed Man

Joe Lilly is the Sharp Dressed Man

Here’s Joe in his Tuesday morning duds, posing in the dining room of my folks’ house, with the telltale cleaning supplies and messiness in the background. One of the fantastic things I got to do while visiting Dad was to make dinner for our kids. Some of Ma’s cooking stuff is still in the kitchen and so I was able to throw together some makeshift family favorites.

Since Joe still lives in the Denver area, he purposely carved out time to stop by after work and/or pick me up for doing fun stuff together during ‘down times’.

One such outing was going to his gig at the Oriental Theatre. Actually, my sorella-amica Lisa and I went to see our sons* at this wonderful venue. Like most musicians, he’s in several bands/ensembles. This one, Heavy Medicine**, added a horn section recently, of which Joe is their main sax-guy.

The Sharp Dressed Man with his Heavy Medicine Bandmates playing the Oriental Theatre, Denver, CO 6/2016

The Sharp Dressed Man with his Heavy Medicine Bandmates playing the Oriental Theatre, Denver, CO 6/2016

Me and my son - the sharp dressed man

Me and my son – the sharp dressed man

Lots more of this mother-son stuff is in the future with each trip back to visit Dad.

Oh and on the marquee behind us is the name Leon Russell, significant in that another blog post in the queue needing to be finished is called, “The Buena Vista Social Club, Leon Russell and Dad”.

Just sayin’.

 

‘Tis a blessing to be loved…

 

 

*Lisa’s son, Ted, is fourth from the left
**The track ‘Dangerous’ includes horns
acknowledgement note: last two photos taken by Lisa K.

Giving Voice: JANE’S STORY

note: still visiting with Dad and Up a Creek, but wanted to send this on in the interim.

It’s just not going away, people. Joblessness & Homelessness is still an on-going reality.

Jane is a blogger-buddy of mine. She is an Everyday (American) Canadian*.

Like you. Like me.

This lady speaks candidly and with more courage than I ever could during our own between homes journey. Her journey-details differ from our own, but the pattern is rote: no job – no home. The experiences and feelings felt are similar if not the same in some instances.

I stand with you, Jane. Continue reading