Tag Archives: music composition

Anna’s Hawk

As hubby and I drove the last few yards towards our driveway coming home from an outing the other day, the soundless swoosh of a hawk made its dramatic landing by the side of the road. Just as suddenly, it took flight to who-knows-where.red-tailed-hawk-in-flight

In those few moments, the raw heft of this bird of prey left a palpable presence. Bringing to mind my friend Anna’s novel, The Hawk. 

I’ve been reading it on Smashwords, where she has self-published many of her other novels. I respect the fact that as a creative (he)artist, she does the work necessary to get her work out there for others to enjoy.

She believes her novels are examples of faith in action.  As she says: “And this is where faith comes into the process; it’s trusting your instincts as a creative force to just let the words, or whatever artistic tools you choose, go where they will.”

Thank you Anna for that reminder. Continue reading

It’s All About The Music

My Swimming with Swans project.

Imagine a single sunflower blossom, filling the mind-canvas in O’Keefe fashion.

Sunflower-Eye-copy

The center, filled with potential protein tidbits to be harvested after the bloom has died, is the current focus of my Swimming with Swans project.  It is the source from which all else emanates.

It’s All About The Music.

Prose, dance/animation, fiber art and documentary infuse individual project-petals emerging from that sunflower center.

SanFran Sunflower

My Swimming with Swans project-petals emerging from its music-center

It’s All About The Music.

Recently, I awoke with that O’Keefe-esque visual imprint in my mind’s eye.  Often, the Lord speaks to me through such visuals.

It’s All About The Music.

How that basic fact escaped me during the early days of organizing Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three-year journey between homes can be understood in the reading of its working title. In reigning in the scope of my Swimming with Swans project, first steps were found in the Kevin Powers article I read and wrote about sometime last year.  Still, it only addressed the written aspect of my project.

It’s All About The Music.

From the very start of our Between Homes journey and on through to the bittersweet end, music was my calling card.  Wherever the work sent us, whatever job opportunity hubby pursued – performing opened doors, initiated relationships and provided supplementary income. The Music also served as a precious tether connection with my true self amidst the current Reality we were navigating.

Early on, a colleague jokingly spoke of our Between Homes lifestyle as my personal sabbatical.  While I was certainly immersed in composing, playing, performing and practicing, the circumstance of our journey was not something I’d label as a sabbatical.*

But truly, output gleaned from that Between Homes time resulted in a large body of work.  A large body of quality work, some of which has been presented in bits and pieces on this blog in the form of ‘individual prose-project-petals’ as re-edited vignettes, reflections of re-entry into the mainstream, photos of fiber art created as a result of that experience, and the desire to Give Voice to the experiences of others in similar situations across the country.

All to the exclusion of its core element: The Music.

It’s All About The Music.

To be fair,** the sharing of musical projects on a blog is not easily achieved.  Posting mp3 audio snippets or pdf score excerpts of works in progress is problematic on many fronts.  Copyright protection just doesn’t seem to count for much of anything in this digital age.  Aside from that, there is this old timey view of discussing current projects and ideas that I hold as truth.  Any creative (he)artist knows what I’m talking about: the dreaded speak it, talk it, discuss it, and it will disappear! In other words, don’t share all the details of a current project or idea during the creating of it or the energy will just vaporize; just do it!

And that’s exactly what I have been doing since the beginning of the New Year…

It’s All About The Music.

Swans on a Misty Lake, by Alex Saberi

Swans on a Misty Lake, by Alex Saberi

With the music in its proper place, Swimming with Swans is fleshing out naturally.  It is beginning to glide effortlessly across the lake of completion with strokes of fluid motion, like the swans themselves.

 

 

*Definitely something worth writing about more deeply in another post/vignette.

**and in the spirit of full disclosure: the last few months of our three year journey, I walked away from the deepest part of my self-the music- which took longer to heal after our reentry. That time to the beginning of this year represents a period of restoration and reconciliation that is relevant but not appropriate to recount in this post.  Possibly open to dialogue further in another one, though.

Inspiration during a simple Convalescence

Okay.  So I’m laid up a bit from a pesky back muscle spasm. In my mature wisdom, I know it is nothing as incapacitating as what many of my favorite Wounded Warriors have had to endure in a life less than half the length of my own.  But, when one is on a roll with a project that has been working its way to the top of the slush pile of my creative mind, the intrusion of this mini-disability is an aggravation.

In keeping with a term I earned back during my horse rescue days, I choose to ‘Cowgirl Up.’

Yep, being (he)artistic and horsey walk hand in hand in this lady’s life.

I confess to times of grumpiness, but mostly I’ve been reading lots, listening lots and vegging lots.  Never one to run from the creative crock pot of silence, the waiting is invigorating, but the physical stillness is my undoing!

Here then is a sampling of stuff I love, especially when I can’t position myself on my own practice stool and work on my own music.  Enjoy! Continue reading

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!

My NaNoWriMo Signature Quotes

One of the fun things about doing NaNoWriMo (besides being a month devoted to writing and a great excuse to down gallons of coffee) is all the geeky stuff that’s available for use during the event.  There are word count widgets (yep, got that!), banners and badge buttons (done those, too) to install on one’s website/blog.  On-site, there’s even push-button access to upload images for use as one’s novel cover (pretty cool, but haven’t done that yet; maybe this year) … just to name a few techie toys.

Then there’s the personalization of one’s NaNo presence.  Along with the usual profile set up, there are numerous ways one can do this.  Over these three years of participating in this creative endeavor, I’ve pretty much kept my moniker (desertmountain) and gravatar (a photo of me and Leggy Lady on the compound, sized-down real teeny tiny) the same.  Mostly just to maintain a sense of continuity within and between each year’s NaNoWriMo.

However, each year’s signature quote has been different.

Interestingly, they reveal something about that year’s novel/project while not specifically chosen as such…a sort of foreshadowing of whatever wanted to be written/worked on during that year’s NaNo.

For NaNo 2012 I pulled a favorite quote from a snippet of Carl Sandburg’s poem, Lesson. peaches in tree 

“Come clean with a child heart.  Laugh as peaches in the summer wind.  Let rain on a house roof be a song.  Let the writing on your face be a smell of apple orchards in late June.”  – Carl Sandburg

Little did I realize my novel for that premier year would revolve around the lessons and seasons of life within The Peach Orchard Project or My Life as a Peach.

My second NaNoWriMo,  I found a quote revealing the effectiveness of fiction as a form of literary social commentary from a favorite author.

“A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” – Madeleine L’Engle

I plunged deep into the realm of my characters.  They cried out for justice in an unjust world while I grieved the passing of the ugliest and hardest of my street people characters who died a hero, defending The Woman Who Didn’t Belong.

This year’s signature quote jumped out at me while reading, When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams.  It gives me hope that the creation of (he)art as truth is an important endeavor; one which compels me to soldier-on in doing.

“To withhold words is power.  But to share our words with others openly and honestly is also power.” – Terry Tempest Williams

Me & Leggy Lady on the compound ~November 2010

Me & Leggy Lady on the compound ~November 2010

Honesty is an undeniable foil, it flashes whether bidden or not.  In order to be true to myself, I have to speak.  I must share my words, my music, my (he)art, my Musical Non-Fiction, regardless of whether or not it is seen, heard or read.

 

It’s that time of year: NaNoWriMo’s just around the corner

NaNoWriMo participant 2014 bannerAt the stroke of midnight, October 31st, 2014, I will embark upon my third NaNoWriMo.  This year, I’ll be doing what I wanted to do my first NaNo: focusing on completing my non-fiction WIP (Swimming with Swans) for submission in this month long challenge.

In NaNoWriMo lingo this means, I am being a rebel. Continue reading

Ecco là – Coffee Beans – è Finito!

Thought I’d spice this up a bit with some of my good ole Italian…besides, a picture is worth a thousand words, so if there’s any question of what that title means, just take a gander at this:

Coffee Beans Means Love to Me, back & quilt label

Partial view of quilt back with label signed and dated

Yep, Coffee Beans Means Love to Me is no longer a WIP, but a completed project.

Last seen on the table ready to be basted a few posts ago, I experimented with using large quilter safety pins.  In general, I liked the way they held the 3-layered sandwich together while I machine quilted.  However, the holes they left in the fabric after being removed left me wondering why I didn’t just do it the way I’ve always done it.

Basting together pieces of (he)art

Basting together pieces of (he)art*

Live and learn.

Perfectionist that I am, I feared I’d wrecked the whole thing.  Then I remembered: part of our between homes experience was embracing the ‘strange life path’ He had for us.  So what’s a few microscopic pin pricks?

Still living.  Still learning.

 

Finishing Coffee Beans has been freeing.  A sort-of final transition stage where our between homes past has been pieced together into something beautiful to be seen in the ‘now’ as a reminder while we proceed into the ‘next’…

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The road between homes has ended for now, but the creative journey has not.

*creative confluence: Coffee Beans Means Love to Me (2014), my NaNo Novel, ‘The Woman Who Didn’t Belong’ (2013), my hand scored original arrangement of ‘Mo Giolla Mear’ written while I was ‘Swimming with Swans’ in IN (2010), favorite guitar strings and an old photo of me with an anonymous horse in Montana during Spring Break (circa 1977).

 

Creative Confluence

Confluence.

I love how that word rolls about in the mouth; how it feels like its verbal definition.

Confluence.

Defined as a coming or flowing together, meeting or gathering at one point.

Most often used in reference to the joining of different rivers forming a larger waterway, it offers up a powerful image describing the perpetual movement of life.  Regardless of point of origin, the joining up of these liquid forces produces newborn paths, vision and vitality.

Confluence of the Mississippi River & Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois

The confluence of the Mississippi River & Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. (© Nathan Benn/Ottochrome/Corbis)

Confluence itself is sort of ‘messy.’  Look at the bottom tip of Illinois where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers come together.  During our first year on-the-road between-homes, we often traveled the bridges over these two rivers around Cairo, IL. Continue reading

Saga of Mama Goat and Her Kids: FINALE

 from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #7)

September 2011 (Fountain Hills, AZ)

On Sunday, September 25, 2011, Mama Goat passed away.

Being a rescue, there is no way of really knowing how old she was, except to say she appeared to be on the older side by way of subtle physical cues; not that it affected her personality or zest for life. The good news is that she didn’t suffer a violent death by the teeth of some coyote roaming the range.  In fact, Billy tells a common enough story of her final day. Continue reading

Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon (part two)

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #5b)

February-March-April 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

“Happy Easter, Happy Spring everyone”…thus began the preface to the e-mail I wrote to my ‘little list.’  I hope this longer vignette offers to you some music interest along with a little encouragement in whatever you’re facing today. And, this season instead of thinking ‘bunnies and peeps’ think:  goats!”

After recounting my ‘goats in the garden’ incident; revealing both my strange emotional response to it as well as the overall musical inspiration I’d been receiving from those goofy goats, I pushed the ‘send’ button.

It was quite cathartic. Continue reading