Laura Bruno Lilly

The road ends, but the journey continues...

2021 International Day of Peace

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.

2021 Theme: Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

In 2021, as we heal from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are inspired to think creatively and collectively about how to help everyone recover better, how to build resilience, and how to transform our world into one that is more equal, more just, equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and healthier.

The pandemic is known for hitting the underprivileged and marginalized groups the hardest. By April 2021, over 687 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 100 countries have not received a single dose. People caught in conflict are especially vulnerable in terms of lack of access to healthcare.

In line with the Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire last March, in February 2021 the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for Member States to support a “sustained humanitarian pause” to local conflicts. The global ceasefire must continue to be honoured, to ensure people caught in conflict have access to lifesaving vaccinations and treatments.

The pandemic has been accompanied by a surge in stigma, discrimination, and hatred, which only cost more lives instead of saving them: the virus attacks all without caring about where we are from or what we believe in. Confronting this common enemy of humankind, we must be reminded that we are not each other’s enemy. To be able to recover from the devastation of the pandemic, we must make peace with one another.

And we must make peace with nature. Despite the travel restrictions and economic shutdowns, climate change is not on pause. What we need is a green and sustainable global economy that produces jobs, reduces emissions, and builds resilience to climate impacts.

The 2021 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world”. We invite you to join the efforts of the United Nations family as we focus on recovering better for a more equitable and peaceful world. Celebrate peace by standing up against acts of hate online and offline, and by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of the pandemic, and as we recover.”

I was in High School in Boulder, Colorado when this song was first released – I’m still on that Peace Train!

“Everyone jump upon the Peace Train” – let’s make this world a better place.
Happy International Day of Peace. One Love!!!

playing for change

Credits from Playing for Change: “Peace Train” – Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ timeless anthem of hope and unity – was originally released on the classic album ‘Teaser and the Firecat’ in 1971 and was Stevens’ first US Top 10 hit, reaching number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This Song Around The World version features more than 25 musicians from 12 countries and unites Yusuf / Cat Stevens, singing and playing a beautiful white piano in a tranquil open air setting in Istanbul, Turkey, with musicians such as five time Grammy Award winning blues/americana artist Keb’ Mo’; Grammy nominated Senegalese artist Baaba Maal; Silkroad’s Rhiannon Giddens—also a Grammy Award winner; Ghassan Birumi playing the oud in Ramallah, Palestine; musicians from the Silkroad Ensemble in Rhinebeck, New York; Pat Simmons (The Doobie Brothers) and James “Hutch” Hutchinson (bass player with Bonnie Raitt) performing in Maui, Hawaii; and bringing together conflict regions with Tushar Lall playing the harmonium in Delhi, India, and Joshua Amjad playing the Kartaal in Karachi, Pakistan.

What in your life did COVID-19 interrupt?

That question – cum – title idea for a post has been bouncing around the caverns of my brain for most of this past year. And then a twin question surfaced this Spring as we neared rounding the corner on the Pandemic, bringing with it a glimmer of hope as a surge of people became fully vaxxed (myself included).

What in your life did COVID-19 interrupt?

What in your life did COVID-19 open up?

January 2020 – February 2020
One slice of life we were walking through in bullet points:

  • After a full year of searching, we finally found a business to buy and were in the final round of negotiations for the sale
  • We decided on an area of the country to relocate to, were about to finalize the house hunt and then begin moving – after waiting what seemed like forever to finally do this (I was already 50% packed and ready to go since the beginning of 2019!)
  • Ultimately, we were poised and ready to sign on the dotted line for each of the above
  • Meanwhile the business sale fell through – but we were still on-track with continuing the house search
  • I got sick right before our planned road trip for the final house hunt which in turn delayed that focus and entire move – but we viewed that as a mere postponing of the process
  • Then – March 2020 – COVID-19 took front & center on the world’s stage and everything came to a screeching halt

In our situation, it was more the momentum of our life that got interrupted.


…is what it opened up…

What about you?

Gems from Jackson

a brief catch-up note: As I’m tying up loose ends on some musician stuff, dabbling in finishing some scrappy quilt UFOs and working on business tasks as hubby directs – my modus operandi is strictly in Summer Mode. To be more specific – Languid, Southern, Slow&Low Summer Mode.

I’ve kept up with most of the blogs I follow, correspond with a few buds via email but as for posting anything myself – meh.

Until now! HA!

A blogger I follow has been posting photos of her surroundings using a new camera. In her post a few days ago, I thought I recognized the place in which they were taken.  Besides the literal mural of a touristy postcard, my suspicions were confirmed when another photo of an art mural created on the sides of a downtown building appeared within this single post.

I remembered this place, this tiny rust-belt town in rural Michigan from just a single visit and a single positive impression made from that visit last year.

Michelle Lilly Solorio, PhD 2020

Late in September of 2020, hubby and I took a jaunt up to Michigan to visit our middle daughter and son-in-law. At the time, there was a narrow window of reduced regional COVID-19 surges so we decided it was a reasonable risk worth pursuing. (Please click here to read the fun, exciting details of our delayed Family celebration and in-house acting out of Michelle’s PhD Hooding ceremony that was cancelled earlier that month due to COVID).

One of our Family outings included ‘a Sunday Drive’ as it was noted in my Family travels MMXX post. We meandered the back roads from their home in Lansing to destination: Jackson. Streets empty of humans due to COVID closures made for an eerie but delightful walking tour of this place – filled with artistic surprises around every corner. Literally.  

Thank you, Pat, for continuing to explore your new camera and photography skills roaming the streets and snapping photos of the murals on the buildings in Jackson, Michigan. It’s heartening to see that Jackson is keeping true to its rusty rooted artistic flow.

wp5.8 upgrade issues

The Fix was Simple. Finding It Was Not.

Consider this a blogger-buddy public service post…A little over a week ago I set up a staging site to make a few changes to my site, perform updates on various plug-ins and to install the new wp5.8 upgrade. I really like that my hosting company offers a fairly easy way for this non-techie to do this task. I’d even go so far as to say, it’s kind of fun to poke around in my cPanel!

That said, after doing a manual backup, then setting up the staging site, I began my task in earnest.

Plug-in updates – piece of cake. A few other minor fixes – done and done.

Now for the biggie – the wp5.8 upgrade.

At first glance, all looked just like it always looked. Upon further perusal, my site appeared to function as usual.

In my giddiness of having triumphed over the ever looming threat of a broken site due to update/upgrade glitches, I was all set to depress the ‘push to live’ button.

But – and I think this is where my maturity and ever nagging sense of doing things ‘right’ kicked in – I decided to check just one more thing. That being, actually writing up a new sample blog post using the extra Gutenberg Blocks that came with the upgrade.

Blithely clicking the ‘add new post’ button on my dashboard, I expected to begin a fun jaunt into exploring the nuances of the newly added Gutenberg Blocks.

What unfolded before my very eyes, however, was far from being anything fun…What unfolded before my very eyes was…

The White Screen of Death

I could easily navigate back and forth from the emptiness of that edit page to my dashboard, but what good is a website/blog if one has no way to write or publish new content?

Oh and, let’s not forget, I discovered this ‘glitch’ as an after thought! I almost nixxed all my hard work in the protected environment of a staging site with the single ‘push to live’ command.

While hugely grateful to my inner OCD self to have diverted such a disaster, I was more than a bit resentful that I had yet another hurdle to jump over just to get my site up and running on a basic wp5.8 upgrade.

WordPress is not for the faint of heart…but I digress…

Thus began my long and arduous deep dive into troubleshooting. I’ll spare you the details of that deep dive, but I do want to point out that for all the ‘help’ offered, there isn’t much related to what I experienced. So I began expanding my search in more obscure reaches of that ‘help’.

Which lead me to the WP.org support forum for the Hemingway Theme, thinking perhaps it all had to do with theme incompatibility (go here to read the rapid unfolding of what became The Simple Fix).

Turns out, Gutenberg Block Editor does not ‘play well’ with my browser of choice, Mozilla Firefox.

The Fix?

Update that darn Browser and make it ‘play nicely’ with my newly upgraded WordPress site.

Late June, Early July: Hello!

Yep, I’m still here!

So, it’s been another ‘Colorado Day’. Meaning: a non-swampy South Carolina type of day. Sunshiny lower humidity with high temps…reminiscent of the Mile High weather I’m accustomed to. Inviting me to indulge in a modicum of activity like taking a walk around the block unencumbered by the normally oppressive atmospheric humidity.

It’s been this way since early Springtime.

Nice. However, to be fair, 39% humidity is considered thick humidity in the Colorado high country – but here? Sweet bliss.

The entire country is broiling and truth be told, our respite from high humidity is a concern.

We’ve had the occasional soaker rains. Which I so enjoy – as do the frogs!

🙂

But for the most part, the swamps are pining for the soupy wet summer days of old.

The summer, she is yet young.

Perhaps tomorrow?

Tadpoles by the side of the road after the rains

A Boy And His Tuba

Dear Kaden,

Your Ma texted me some pictures and a video she took of you playing at your most recent concert. You sat tall and straight and played your part well – without tapping your foot – yes, I noticed! Good job.

A few weeks ago, I won this book for you. I read an interview a writer friend of mine had with the author, Mary Winn Heider, about her newly released book, “The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy”. Learning that one of the main characters was a boy whose best friend was his tuba – I knew I had to enter the contest and try to win this book for you! And I did!

I waited to send it on to you because I wanted to read it, too. Your Ma might like that it has references to Chicago (our shared hometown – we’re cousins, you know). I suspect the football team and stadium described in the book is based upon Northwestern University in Evanston, but it’s still fun to have that Chicago connection along with the tuba connection.

One of Winston’s (the tuba player in the book) favorite pieces to play is Darth Vader’s Theme from Star Wars – The Imperial March. So, I printed out a copy for you. Who knows, you might play it in a concert next year?

I found a very short 1-minute YouTube of a student about your age practicing playing it on the sousaphone. Which as you probably already know is the marching band version of a tuba. You might like to see it here.

I also am sending you a link to the author’s book trailer. This is a very short 1-minute Vimeo video where she talks about her book and shows you how she works out her action sequences – very fun!  

I am proud of you Kaden. Keep playing your tuba – it is way cool.

Lots of love & hugs (I get to say that because we’re cousins, too!),

Laura


Thanks to all you music teachers in the schools – you serve as first introducers to the glorious variety of instruments there are in this world to try out and play. And a huge thank-you to L. Marie – you help connect kids with books and readers with authors.


Resources for inspiring aspiring Tuba Players

Losers at the Center of the Universe book cover
  • Let’s start off with this book. It can be found here, here and here.
  • Free sheet music of arrangements of popular tunes for tuba at various proficiency levels by TubaPeter can be found here.
  • Your local Tuba Player Musician/Teacher (ask your music shop or school band teacher for recommendations).

COVID Clench, Pandemic Hair and Cardamom Braids

In my fantasies of what I’d do first once I was fully vaxxed, getting a haircut was the primo #1 Big Thing.

I’d been gearing up for the Big Leap into an enclosed, hair salon experience during the 2 weeks-after-my-second-jab clearance and figured it’d cross off two ToDos at the same time.

#1 – Getting that haircut!
#2 – Re-entering the world at large in a calculated and precise manner.

However, my teeth had other ideas.

Over the course of those 2 weeks, jaw pain, migraines, searing earaches, and weird teeth nerves asserted themselves to the point of my having to call the dentist for an appointment. Considering my last checkup/cleaning was in 2018, and we’ve since dropped dental insurance, I was a bit miffed.

Long story short, I passed my exam with flying colors. In fact, the dreaded cleaning itself was deftly performed by the dental hygienist with narey a wince on my part. Strange to say, but I had a fantastic experience.

So, what was the source of the pain? If not a rotting tooth, then what?
Something dentists are seeing a lot of lately – teething grinding (or technically, bruxism).

Aha. Makes sense. Only I’m calling it “COVID clench“.

The day after my dental needs upstaged that longed-for haircut, I called for an appointment and got in that very afternoon. I also got out in less than 30 minutes. The strange part was not the actual haircutting, but the torrent of words that flew from my mouth whenever I opened it to say something simple like, ‘please cut it a bit more’. Instead, a tumbling jumbling of words totally out of my control followed in quick succession.

I apologized to the hairstylist and ventured to tell her that I’m usually the lady in the chair who’d rather not chat with the one cutting her hair. But somehow that statement didn’t ring quite true to what was occurring at that moment.

Aha. Makes sense. Re-entry means remembering to use certain social skills.

Laura Bruno Lilly Mother's Day 2021
Luckily, I got that stringy Pandemic hair whacked off in time for my Skype Mother’s Day celebration…

As for those braids…(obviously not of the hair type)…I had a hankering to try out a non-sourdough bread recipe. Like many of you, my kitchen was dubbed The Sourdough Lab during the height of the Pandemic. I’m sick of it. All of it. But have a slew of very cool sourdough this and sourdough that recipes I created and perfected during that season of isolating in place. Someday they’ll see the light of day again, but not right now.

Instead, I treated myself to a non-sourdough bread making experience. Using Cardamom, a spice first introduced to me by my Palestinian sister-friend Hiam back in the early 80s while we were living in the Bay Area.

She used it as the defining ingredient in the making of her fabulous coffee. As a result, I have been enamored with other uses of Cardamom ever since.

Her basic recipe?
A handful of cardamom pods, a handful or two of sugar, a handful or two of whole coffee beans in a pot of water set to boil until it becomes thick.              

I’ve never been able to recreate that luscious and potent brew by myself. She did it best.

I miss you, Hiam.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for my Cardamom Braid Bread.

It makes for a delicate flavored loaf with a good crumb. Tastes good with both sweet and savory meals but I like it best by itself, smothered in butter!

Cardamom Braid Bread

Cardamom Braid Bread

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) or 2 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons 2% milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions
  • In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, cardamom and salt. In a small saucepan, heat 1½ cups milk, butter and honey to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough (dough will be sticky).
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Divide each portion into thirds. Shape each into a 14-in. rope. Place 3 ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Brush with remaining milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375° until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Giving Voice: The 8th Wonder of The World…

…Stevie Wonder.

On the many wonders of this world…

“There are more than 7 wonders of the world – he (Stevie Wonder) is #8.”

Angelo Roman

Innervisions – Stevie Wonder

One of my favorite albums during my college years (1972-1977). Here’s a studio clip on recording ‘Living for the City’ which is as fresh and (unfortunately) relevant to today’s issues as it was then… all (he)artistically mastered by a master. What follows is the whole song as recorded on Innervisions.

For a touch of relief in this world of many troubles and plenty of social injustices I end this with Stevie’s “Don’t You Worry About A Thing” on this same album, Innervisions.

Thank you, Stevie.

Poetry as a Pandemic Life Line

~~~
Today, this last day in April 2021, is also the last day of National Poetry Month.
~~~

Poetry is a life line.

me, Laura Bruno Lilly

Poetry speaks to our aloneness and draws us into a community of common experiences.

Allusions illuminating the seen and unseen – the felt or unfelt.

Resonant expression. Targeting the heart. Melting into one’s soul.

Before, during and post Pandemic – Poetry is a life line.

Pandemic Potpourri #6

As mentioned before: herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality. In other words, this space is reserved for escaping/managing Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!

It’s been awhile since I wrote one of these posts.

t’s been awhile since I’ve posted, period.

I’m tired. I’m worn out. I’m wasted. Yet, excited to be alive.

Sounds paradoxical.

Perhaps the title of this should be renamed, Pandemic Paradox #1.

Just sayin’…


Three weeks ago, while standing in line for over an hour to get my first vax jab, my line-mates and I rejoiced that we ‘got this far’ through the Pandemic. We even fist-bumped as we each left the 15 minute sit area afterwards. I felt like dancing a jig and until the first stirrings of side affects occurred, I did enjoy a bit of rambunctious behavior around the house!

Today marks the day I received my second vax jab. I was delightfully surprised to see one of my first jab line-mates round the corner into the 15 minute sit area after my second jab today. We ‘caught up’ and reconfirmed our thankfulness for having gotten ‘this far’ and not taking anything for granted.

It did my heart good.

As I left, we fist-bumped a final farewell…and took care to resist the urge to hug.


Mama’s got a new bag of beans!
I opened a new bag of beans today.

(for me that refers to the only beans worth opening – coffee)
They are potent.
As if I’d been imbibing decaf these past weeks rather than the real deal.
The beans know.
🙂


While our latest Family photo (shown below) was taken during a not-so-recent ZOOM Thanksgiving in 2020 we continue to stay close.

I am hopeful that we will gather face-to-face during Family Dinner some day, some how in the months to come.

I wish the same for you and those you hold dear.

Thanksgiving Family ZOOM Time
The Fam, ZOOM Thanksgiving 2020 (l-r: new-to-the-family Lindsey & son Joe in Colorado, Hubby Terry in our living room, me in my studio, son-in-law David & daughter Michelle in Michigan)

Hope, I know, is a fighter and a screamer.

Mary Oliver
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