Tag Archives: christmas

Introducing Maddy

Long story short, several years ago I fell in love with a National Res Guitar at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. At the time, I didn’t follow my gut (even though hubby encouraged me to just ‘get it’) but rather my more practical side.  Part of that practical side being financial, but mostly wondering how in heck I could keep from compromising my cg-nails in playing it (even if I could always just use a pick, but still…) and the whole heaviness of the instrument and well, I ended up talking myself out of taking the plunge and entering into its wonder-world.

Zoom to Thanksgiving 2016. Hubby and I drove up to Lansing, MI for the Family Holiday at middle daughter and son-in-law’s new home. The day after our festive feasting, son-in-law and I took an adventure trip to Elderly Instruments just a few minutes’ drive into town.  I like to think it was a great excuse for this mother-in-law and son-in-law to further bond as fellow musicians. We browsed the instruments, soaking in the eye and ear candy. Nothing much tempted me to pick up and caress until my gaze happened upon this gorgeous tenor resonator.

triolian national tenor resonator guitar

Maddy

Fascinated by the four strings on a res body, I lifted it off its display stand.  Son-in-law was playing a nearby steel body 6-stringer res but I was not impressed with its sound…curious as to tonal differences between the two instruments I sat next to him on the bench and began a simple strum on the tenor res.  And yes, she spoke to me. That long ago urging deep inside tugged, and this time I followed my gut!  Hubby encouraged me to take the plunge in honor of my folks.

I view this newest addition to my musical toolbox as a special gift given from my folks posthumously.

Because of that, her name* came easily to me:

                M(a) & (D)addy = Maddy.

 

Continue reading

A Smattering of Yuletide Thoughts

This year I opted to not send out Christmas cards, offer a winter solstice meditation blog post (see a great one here and here) or decorate our little rental in the spirit of the season. It’s not a big deal, just the way things are for me this year (and without little ones, I have the luxury to choose that option). And no, I’m not depressed it’s just that – heck, I still haven’t finished writing thank-you notes after Dad’s funeral in October. And I feel worse about that than my decision to not fully participate in holiday traditions this year. The pull for me to formally acknowledge my deep appreciation to those who offered support during that time – by whatever means – is nagging at my sense of etiquette along with a desire to just say thanks; let them know their sympathies mattered.

Quite frankly, I think I’ve gone a bit too long in finishing them so I am trying to just let it go rather than dwell on my increasing feelings of guilt.

breathe in – breathe out – release the burden

Yet here it is Christmas. My heart is not cold, just a bit into itself and kind of relieved to have what some might deem a boring celebration. Spent more as a bystander rather than active participant. Continue reading

Camden Writers – “What I Wish I Could Tell You”

Transitions.

The officially stated theme for the 2016 Camden Writers Anthology #2.

Starting in January, I pulled about four pieces from my stash of vignettes relevant to the 2016 anthology theme – some started but unfinished, others already firmly written and in need of my critique group’s keen insights and suggestions, still others with germinal ideas and notes-to-self on how to proceed.

I discovered early on during critique presentations that even the one piece I thought was 99.9% ready to go, wasn’t. And that really was fine with me.  I decided I’d use the submission deadline as the catalyst for getting those pieces and ideas in shape for publication.

Meanwhile I was deeply ensconced in a regular routine spent on the practice stool prepping in anticipation of upcoming recording sessions for my Swimming with Swans: the music project.

Progress towards both project milestones were rolling along smoothly. However, I didn’t factor in the possibility of Dad entering into hospice care in April.

Transitions.

Thus began my precious Summer of Dad. Continue reading

GREETINGS

Merry Christmas

My ‘little list’ is probably sick to death of my obsession with goats.  It seems each time the holidays come around, I send on the link to this video along with my e-mail greeting. This year, I’m spreading the cheer to include anyone who visits my site. :-)

Here then is my fav goat video, that also happens to be a great Holiday Greeting. Be sure to visit the Giggle with Goats website, as these guys spread goat-joy to others in places as varied as Alzheimer Units and daycare centers.

 

Strings, Strength and Soup

Well, I hit a wall on my grant progress shortly after our son left on Wednesday.

The energy of juggling regular meals, avoiding each other’s space when all three of us (both hubby and son are over 6 feet tall, so figure three adult bodies) were camped-out inside our homey 1100 square foot rental, balancing rest and relaxation with a few jaunts here and there, and just the comfy, constant companionship of each other’s company must have triggered my resolve to focus on the grant regardless by squeezing in very productive ‘me times’.  (Now how’s that for a sentence?)

I admit, I panicked.  After all, my goal is to have all but the Budget Section finished sometime within the first full week of December – which is right around this weekend’s corner. Yikes. So what did I do to allay that panic?

Took a walk. No good.
Took a shower. No good.

Cleaned up the kitchen. No good.
Cleared out the leftovers in the fridge. No good.

Stayed up all night staring at the computer monitor hoping the words would come. No good.
Downed two, yes, two, pots of coffee in the hopes that would help the above. No good.

Then it hit me…It’s all about the music.

I picked up the Prisloe and began playing.  Way good. Continue reading

find the flaw in the following quote

I am currently enjoying getting ready for our son’s 10 day Thanksgiving Holiday visit starting Monday. Very excited. He’s coming straight from his 2.5 month vacay in the Dominican Republic on his way back home to Colorado, so we’ll have even more catching up to do! I’m also frantically working on a grant that’s due the end of the year to help fund recording expenses of my ‘Swimming with Swans: the music’ …thrilled with the prospect of the assistance, but won’t know if I will be awarded anything until after the New Year. Meanwhile, I will be getting ready for our middle daughter and son-in-law’s visit with us over the Christmas Holidays and hubby’s b-day. They’ll be driving from their new digs in Michigan, so we’re hoping the weather will co-operate and allow us this treat. I love it when things get bunched up because of family gatherings…for me, this is true bliss.

As concerns my blogging frequency: I keep trying to finish several blog posts I’ve got in the queue, but just can’t seem to focus. So, please accept this little quirky, made-up-by-me game “find the flaw in the following quote” as a sort of blogging peace offering and placeholder.   Continue reading

Tattered and Torn, Loved and Worn

One day, years ago, Amy-next-door came to call. She often came to visit with her two little girls in tow to play with my youngest two kiddos as they were all around the same age. This time, she stood holding two paper grocery bags.

“Look what I found!” Amy said as she thrust the two bags into my arms.

Feeling light as a feather for all their fullness, I immediately knew they were filled to the brim with fabrics.

“I found these at a garage sale for $0.75 and I thought you might like to use them.”

More than just neighbors, Amy-next-door and I were enablers…always on the look-out for each other’s vices: she and her buttons, I and my fabrics.

As I began rummaging through the brown paper bags, I noticed they contained more than just scraps or random cuts of material.  There was a huge piece of white cotton flannel, a stack of pre-cut 10 ½ x 10 ½ flannel squares, a handful of 3 ½ x 3 ½ ones and miles of uncut flannel fabrics of varying designs and colors.

This was someone’s UFO (quiltspeak for ‘UnFinished Object’). Continue reading

It’s Beginning to Smell A Lot Like Christmas

Holiday prep has been fun.  Just the fact of being able to search out Christmas gifts for loved ones is a blessing not taken lightly.  Ever frugal, this quest has held plenty of intrigue, mystery and excitement.  Except for that, though, one would never suspect we were getting ready for the holidays with mucho-gusto. Continue reading

quiltgift2001

Dedicated to those who are in need of a quiltgift and those who provide these works of (he)art.

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
July 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

One Christmas, I made and gave a quilt to a special person who was experiencing a period of extreme grief, hoping my creative handiwork would provide some solace. I found it easy to part with my artistic endeavor, trusting the new owner would enjoy it. I feel the same way when performing as a musician.

Recently, the quilt unexpectedly came back into my possession. This turn of events has offered me a unique opportunity to see my quilt in a different light. It has yielded unexpected insights into the person I was then, who I am now, and what I’ve learned in between times.

When it was returned, I first viewed it as an artistic piece. I was surprised to discern that I did not like it as my quilting style has changed significantly, more than I thought. It clearly showed a point in my life from which I have evolved, similar to what I and other musicians experience when we hear a recording made some time past. It surprised me to see this tangible evidence of where I had once been as a quilter.

Then, I began to remember the circumstances that prompted me to offer this person a comfort gift. Foremost, I recalled the deep need that drove me to give of myself in a nonverbal way, pouring out my heart-love during the process of making it. The quilt brought back the memory of offering prayers, crying tears with each stitch, and knowing it was not only cathartic for me in its making, but a symbolic gesture in the giving of it.

Also, I remember trying to tame my “crazy-scrap-quilt” style, shaping it into something more “palatable” to this person’s tastes and trying to tone down my own bolder color palette for their more subdued powder baby blues preferences. In so doing, I think it diminished the quilt’s artistic value, but not its worth as a gift of love and compassion.

What I think I’ve learned in the interim is an ability to incorporate others preferences more easily into a piece, presentation, or gift of which I can be proud.  I do so when, as a musician, I gear programs, concerts, or performances towards a particular audience. It’s a smart thing to do. The trick is to give ‘em what they want with a twist….an appropriate twist, but a twist just the same. Examples of what I’ve done is to include one of my own arrangements of a Celtic piece for solo classical guitar into an otherwise traditional setting or by playing a wildly exciting 20th century classical guitar piece in a program filled with standard fare, fluff.

The following seems to sum up the above while giving it greater credence given its famous and honored author. It also reminds me of the conversations we often have with each other as colleagues.

The Two Poems*
by Kahlil Gibran

 Many centuries ago, on a road to Athens, two poets met, and they were glad to see one another.

And one poet asked the other saying, “What have you composed of late, and how goes it with your lyre?”

And the other poet answered and said with pride, “I have but now finished the greatest of my poems, perchance the greatest poem yet written in Greek.  It is an invocation to Zeus the Supreme.”

Then he took from beneath his cloak a parchment, saying, “Here, behold, I have it with me, and I would fain read it to you.  Come, let us sit in the shade of that white cypress.”

And the poet read his poem.  And it was a long poem.

And the other poet said in kindliness, “This is a great poem.  It will live through the ages, and in it you shall be glorified.”

And the first poet said calmly, “And what have you been writing these late days?”

And the other answered, “I have written but little.  Only eight lines in remembrance of a child playing in the garden.”  And he recited the lines.

The first poet said, “Not so bad; not so bad.”

And they parted.

And now after two thousand years the eight lines of the one poet are read in every tongue, and are loved and cherished.

And though the other poem has indeed come down through the ages in libraries and in the cells of scholars, and though it is remembered, it is neither loved nor read.

*from “The Wanderer-His Parables and His Sayings”

Longest Night of the Year: 2013 Reflections (part one)

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” –Steve Martin

Winter Solstice: a day with the least amount of sunshine potential; the shortest day and longest night; a time of reversals.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac:  The word solstice comes from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still.” In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day; the high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day. At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. The next day, the path will advance northward. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon” on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice days are the days with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year.

Winter Solstice, Hilton Head, SC

Winter Solstice, Hilton Head, SC

To me, the Winter Solstice feels more like the ending of the past year with the dawning of the true ‘new year.’  An organic New Year’s Eve, so to speak.  Perhaps this, then, is a good time to reflect on the past year, letting go and easing into the ‘new year’ as each day from this point in time gains length.

2013 Reflections: December 2012 – December 2013

~ 12/5/12   Jazzman Dave Brubeck died at the age of almost 92.  Almost.  One day short of 92.  I remember that really hit me hard as my Jazzman Dad was ‘almost 90.’  Almost.  Was he going to make it to 90?

~ Our first Christmas after weathering three-Christmases-on-the-road-between-homes was super charged with getting to share it with our daughter and new son-in-law.  Gathering together in our little rental home blessed our ‘first Christmas’ with their first Christmas as a married couple.

David, Michelle, me & Flash (above my head) Christmas 2012

David, Michelle, me & Flash (under lights) Christmas 2012

Unpacking a few decos from the boxes that survived three plus years in the storage unit and the move from Colorado to South Carolina that year was like mining truths of traditions past. But even while in the midst of that newly unlocked comfort and sentiment, our first thought was to find a place for Flash.

Flash

Flash in our car-home

Flash gave his all for us during our lonely holiday times while on-the-road-between-homes…traveling 24/7 with us dangling from the rear-view mirror, faithfully swinging from side to side and blinking festive blue&red lights inside his white plastic snowman physique.  Flash now graces a place of honor inside our little rental home 24/7, blessing us and reminding us we were not alone during our three-year-journey-between-homes. Deuteronomy 31 vs 8 script

~ Watching Les Miserables, the movie, with my cousin Chris.  Experiencing the quality acting on screen, and being submerged in the surround sound scoring of the classic Victor Hugo novel; bonding over the inequities of life, past and present; the power of God, hope and dreams while living in a world of harsh realities…all contributed to strengthening and deepening our relationship.

Not much has changed about society’s perception and treatment of those less fortunate. Continue reading