Tag Archives: Ma

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.

 

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Hurting for Home

in honor of all those displaced due to all manner of circumstances

“Roots are best planted in the hearts of people rather than in a place.”
Mary Lou Mawicke Bruno (Ma)

(Andrew York, ‘Home’)

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

The Liebster: my very first blogging award!

In my over 3 years of blogging, I have never, ever, been nominated for any type of ‘blogging’ award. I figured because I am WP.org (self-hosted) rather than WP.com (WP hosted) that my chances for those sorts of things were stacked against me. So be it.

Well, that all changed during my Summer of Dad time away from regular secure internet access.  LuLu from The Real Adventures of Becoming (whatever this thing is that I am presuming is the authentic and genuine) Me nominated me a few weeks ago for the Liebster Award. She is a gentle soul with a writing style that is deep and pure. Thanks for thinking of me, LuLu!

Liebster Award

My very first blog award!

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Peace Post: Found while rummaging through Dad’s piles

Postcard sent to Ma & Dad, Lakewood, CO May 2005:

Colorado post card to ma and dad

I often send greetings via snail mail to loved ones

Message on back:

“Remember that all music, in general, is a succession of rainbows.” Pablo Casals

Ma & Dad: I hope your day is filled with color and harmony. Love, Laura

Celebrating a Singular Between-Time

 Today is bd Day.
A between-time of singular personal significance.
February 6th of any year is bd Day – Ma’s birthdeath Day.

February 5, 1929 Marylou Mawicke (married – Bruno) was born.
February 7, 2007 Ma passed away.

In those last two and a half years we had left living in our home in Colorado following her death, I spent countless days visiting her new cemetery home – talking to her, sitting against her head stone or laying down beside her. During those two years after losing her to COPD/emphysema I mostly sat cross-legged facing the grey-streaked white marble marker praying, crying, touching her name, cleaning the engraving, walking amongst her neighbors, sometimes bringing Dad along for his own face-to-face time(s)…always leaving gifts – tightly closed rosebuds from our climbing rose bush in the front of our home in Colorado or small rocks and Indian Paintbrush stems gathered from our family’s mountain property, or other tokens like ticket stubs to movies or concerts or Broncos stickers…Most of the more traditional offerings of floral bouquets consisted of blossoms cut from my own abundant garden(s) in our home in Colorado, especially when those Bruno Purple Giant Irises were in bloom that first Spring after her passing.

Once hubby and I sold our home in Colorado and began our between homes time, we’d return from time to time and I’d visit Ma, leaving bits of where we’d been – a perfectly flattened blue hued skipping rock from the shores of Lake Superior gathered in the Upper Peninsula my first birthday away from family and our home in Colorado; a sprinkling of white sand from the White Sands National Monument outside Las Cruces, NM gathered on respite outings after particularly hard days of elder-caring hubby’s mother; a half-opened milkweed pod found along a meadow path in North Webster, IN; a handful of Leggy Lady’s tail/mane hair from the grooming brush gathered during our time on the compound in the desert; a slice of Saguaro Cactus spine from Fountain Hills, AZ…

Each of the two Februarys we had left living in our home in Colorado, I spent February 6th as a Day for visiting her grave as a sort of ritualistic honoring of her life.

I distinctly remember the first of these two bd Days. 

That day in 2008 was unusually grey with a stiff wind signaling an impending snow storm. It didn’t deter me from my mission, though.  I needed to share something with Ma, alone, without family members who’d be gathering the next day marking the first anniversary of her death.

Driving through the Fort Logan National Cemetery on my way to her gravesite, I rehearsed what I had to say and how I was going to do what I needed to do. Coming upon the curb area closest to her headstone, I parked, opened the door wide and pressed play on the car’s cd player.  Walking towards my destination, I heard the beginnings of the music blasting forth from a few feet away…

“Ma, this is what I wanted to play for you the day before you passed away; I wanted you to be the first to hear it – finally finished and ready to record – I wanted you to know – to feel me there with you, to be a part of your leaving us. Me.

But I was too afraid…It’s taken me this long to understand why.  Somehow deep inside I thought if I could play it for you, it would work its musical magic and you’d awaken – and be back with all of us. I couldn’t face you awakening somewhere else, someplace I couldn’t go along with you.”

find the flaw in the fabric

Havin’ a great time with my guys hangin’ around…It’s a funny thing, I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done even with the extra re-focus on providing regularly scheduled and substantial meals.
I’ve found snippets of quality time between meal prep to tweek grant wording and mull over certain sections yet to be written. My days are peppered with long walks with my son, engaging in family banter, and havin’ a great time with my hubby and son hangin’ around…

About ‘find the flaw in the fabric’: Yep, it’s another blogging placeholder, hope you enjoy it.
During my computer monitor’s time off, I place lengths of fabric over it to make it seem less intrusive in my creative space. Lately, this fabric has been staring me in the face. It seems fitting as it represents shared family memories of when us 7 (Ma & Dad, me & hubby and our 3 kiddos) toodled around London, Paris, Rome, with a spattering of New York thrown in for good measure. And then it dawned on me: there’s a flaw in the content of the fabric picture…can you find it? Please let me know in the comment section below…

london, paris, rome, (new york) fabric

yeah, it’s out of focus…your phone camera is better than my old digital…but the flaw is easily seen regardless.

Alice Fulton Quote, Beethoven and My Music

Alice Fulton Quote

‘It will be new whether you make it new or not’ – Alice Fulton, Poetry, October 2013

I have to admit that when I first saw this quote, I didn’t fully comprehend its meaning. While the artwork makes for a beautiful visual, it didn’t aid in my understanding of the written text. But something subliminal captured the attention of my subconscious brain, prompting a silent rumination over the course of several months.

Bits and pieces of enlightenment would come to the forefront of my consciousness, until at last I had a mini-Aha! moment:

Beethoven and my first encounter with his 9th Symphony.

When I was a teenager, I dug out my parents’ old 78s from the shelves in their walk-in cedar closet.  Sorting through the stacks, I recognized most of the tunes and placed them in their respective piles – Ma’s stuff, Dad’s stuff and corny stuff.  My baby brother and I grew up dancing in the living room listening to all of it, including the ever present live gig-prep practicing of Dad’s – From Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (Ma’s stuff) to Charlie Parker’s Yardbird Suite (Dad’s stuff) to Jimmy Durante’s Bill Bailey (corny stuff).

Scattered among those records were some 33s pressed on yellow-vinyl. Intrigued, I noticed they were mostly classical (by genre, not era) recordings. Beethoven’s Symphonies were recorded in a huge boxed set of 33s. I decided to listen to all of them, going from last to first.

That 9th symphony – composed in 1824 – was new to my 1971 ears.

“It will be new whether you make it new or not”

I listened to it over and over alongside some of my favorite records at the time: The White Album, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Beethoven, the Beatles and Andrew Lloyd Webber. A motley crew, all strangely powerful and new to me.

Now, I am no Beethoven, but that mini-Aha! moment became more of a major-Aha! moment for me recently.

Since last May, sales of music from my cd, unexpected, increased significantly. Why? This recording was released in 2007.  In terms of musical output, it represents old stuff. I use it now more as a demo of sorts; an example of the breadth and quality of my playing for marketing, colleague introductions, resume point of reference and so on.

There have been many projects, performances and pieces learned since then till now. Immersed as I’ve been in my Swimming with Swans: the music project, striving to put out this new material, I’d forgotten that to those who’d never heard my stuff before:

“It will be new whether I (you) make it new or not”

Below is the single off of unexpected with the most digital listens since its release in 2007, Hatikvah.

 I wish you peace.

Simply Asparagus

Simply Asparagus: Easy, Yummy, and Healthy

½ bundle fresh asparagus, rinsed and snapped
3 or more large garlic cloves, peeled
~ 1T butter, cut into thirds

Place all in small glass microwave container, cover.  Zap on high for ~ 1-2 minutes.  Remove from microwave while still slightly crisp. Enjoy fresh, lightly buttered, steamed asparagus with garlic tidbits.

Serves ~ 2-3

La Crema ChardonnayNOTE: It’s hard to find a wine that goes well with asparagus, but Sonoma Coast’s La Crema Chardonnay fits the bill!

Snippets of an Inner Childhood Soundscape

Lately I’ve been remembering quiet times as a kid, with a sharp ear for what actually occupied my time. I’m realizing that my prayers, thoughts and stories were all relayed via inner music.  I sang declarations of love to my God, hummed certain discordant intervals when I was scared, and then snappy tunes when happy.

1959 olive green vw bug

1959 olive green vw bug, just like our own family car (we kept it till ~1977. After that, it spent its last days transporting hazardous materials within a local landfill!)

During family trips in the car, I arranged the sounds and rhythms filling my head into satisfying story soundtracks. Sharing the back seat of a VW bug with my baby bro was not the most exciting of adventures.  No, I take that back, we managed to stage plays between fights for space.

He was most talented at wrinkling up his face to accompany the different voices we made up for various characters.  In fact, he’d do my favorite character, Blob, upon personal request.  Yeah, I guess baby brothers came in handy that way.

I had a rich inner life.

my homemade cannoli

My homemade cannoli

And an enriching kid-life. A life filled with colors, aunts, uncles, cannoli, swimming, exploring and dissecting the stinky frogs packed in purchased science kits.

Stars, bonfires and leaves.

Museums, ice skating, tobogganing, and walks with cousins. Day camp, girl scouts.

Ma’s art lessons she gave to all the cousins, the smell of linseed oil mingled with freshly ironed cotton shirts.  Growing gardens – Ma’s flowers, Dad’s tomatoes, and always a peach tree.

Baby bunnies hidden in our front yard, forts built with scraps of plywood, and music.

Always music.

Ma’s opera and dorky Barn Dance albums, the old 78’s and wonderful new LP’s of musical theatre.

Dad’s jazz. Practicing alongside Coltrane, Charlie, cool blues. Crazy kid-dancing to his sax, clarinet, guitar, and cowbell.

Grandpa’s banjo and zampogna*.  You Are My Sunshine sing-alongs.

Laying on my bed at night or looking up at the clouds on a warm spring day, in my quiet times, I didn’t read.  I didn’t color.  Well, yes, I did those.  But mostly, I ‘did my music.’

Even then, ever with me, from the inside out.

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.
~ Psalm 108:1

*more on this instrument in another post…suffice it to say, my love of goats has a family history as well!