“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.”
Afterwards, on the way back home from Chicago somewhere in Kentucky, our 2003 Toyota Camry reached a milestone 444,444 miles. We’re getting closer to our return trip from the moon – it is now at 445,685, only 4,315 (at perigee) miles left to go!
My Saturday Project:
Baked up a batch of my “Laura’s Lovelies” – thusly named by Amy-next-door during a ‘circle’ block party (we lived on a cul-de-sac) in the old neighborhood ~ Lafayette, CO circa 1988.
My Sunday Project:
Eating above Saturday Project – with multiple cups of java of course! 🙂
I’m feeling the FREEDOM of moving forward. I completed important unfinished business from 2023 and let go of the unfinished business unworthy of my time, energy and focus.
During this process, I realized much of what I hung onto – whether perpetually unfinished items carried over to yet another ToDoList, or carefully curated/sorted/organized files placed in physical boxes and/or computer folders, or long decrepit souvenirs/accolades with no place to go but in an ever larger special memory box – were merely outdated ‘crutches’. They no longer serve a purpose because their purpose has already been served. Casting aside those crutches was liberating.
I’m feeling the FREEDOM of release, lightness & joy. Leaning into movement, dance and song takes me to a happy place. A safe place to explore, discover, create and
Dream. Build Upon. Begin Again.
I’m feeling the FREEDOM of community celebration. In keeping with 2024’s Black History Month Theme: African Americans and the Arts, this featured piece by Jon Batiste invites us to embrace our individuality, support others in their journeys, welcome cross-cultural experiences and dance to the rhythm of our lives with a sense of freedom.
While many are experiencing extreme weather across the country, our little corner of the world offered up a few perfect days.
My favorite type of day, in fact. Stiff breezes delivering crisp air and enhanced sharpness to the slanty-rays of daytime sunshine…
While many have detailed their goals in a manner worthy of the New Year, I have been floundering in my own Sea of Lists.
A poem found me. Its truth offered a starting point. Its truth offered freedom to just begin.
New Year Poem (excerpts) May Sarton
Let us step outside for a moment As the sun breaks through clouds And shines on wet newfallen snow, And breathe the new air. So much has died that had to die this year.
We are dying away from things. It is a necessity – we have to do it Or we shall be buried under the magazines, The too many clothes, the too much food. We have dragged it all around Like dung beetles…
…Let us step outside for a moment Among oceans, clouds, a white field, Islands floating in the distance. They have always been there. But we have not been there…
…Let us step outside for a moment. It is all there Only we have been slow to arrive At a way of seeing it. Unless the gentle inherit the earth There will be no earth.
In between getting ready for this coming week of teaching, prepping for a trip back to the Mayo for my hubby’s 6 week post-surgical re-check*, working on a baby quilt for one of my younger cousin’s new arrival, figuring out various details of unexpected commitments – and normal outloud living – I leaned into the ‘perfect day’ call to bake.
Remember to occasionally indulge all your senses with the simple act of baking.
Cream the butter and sugar to its smoothest consistency
Inhale the aromas wafting throughout the home
Embrace the warmth of the oven as it fills the kitchen
Take note of the visual art of the newly baked good before consumption
Relish the act of savoring each bite
*he had a long overdue total knee replacement done at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL just 5-6 hours from where we live. It was hugely successful!
Please allow me to use them as a simple means to illustrate a handful of the many personal revelations/reminders I gleaned during this past year.
I started them the day after reading Laura’s post on making her own “Cookie Plate Crumb Catcher”.
Like her, I needed a fun diversion tucked between my holiday prep and regularly scheduled life commitments.
That was November 19, 2022.
This is December 31, 2023.
Personal revelation #1- I can and do finish projects!
Also, around that time, the overarching theme (for me) of the coming New Year 2023 began to emerge:
Interestingly, each time I journaled about working on my 3 CPCCs in my Morning Pages, the word ‘fun’ is mentioned.
“Yesterday, I started work on another CPCC. I’m finding it fun.”
“As fun, I’d like to work on sewing the first few squares for one of the CPCCs sometime today.”
“I’m re-learning traditional piecing with those CPCCs. I ‘winged it’ on certain parts of the first one – a normal process for me – and it came out fantastically well. The second, I decided to be more follow-the-rules with squaring up each block to a certain size before sewing them together and it came out awful. So, the third one I’m trying a combo of both methods and so far so good! HA! This has been a fun ‘hobby’ reliever thing to do during my spare moments. Plus, I just might get a CPCC out of it with two to gift to others!”
While that final quote is a good example of mindfulness in the making of those 3 CPCCs, the consistent use of the word ‘fun’ caused me to realize I needed more of it in my life.
Personal revelation #2- I realized that having fun was more satisfying than seeking happiness. Something I used to know, but somehow forgot. (For the record, joy* is an entirely different gift and one I actively nurture deep within my soul.)
Fun is in the moment and feeds the need in the now before it withers. Happiness is a quest that requires vigilance and can become myopic – in some respects it is frustratingly elusive and not easily sustained.
Shortly before the end of 2022, CPCCs #1 & #3 were completely pieced and ready to be layered with the usual quilt sandwich fixins (batting & backing). I packed them away as I was poised with a mindfulness focus of ‘living life outloud’ in the coming New Year.
Fast forward to November 2023.
In need of my annual holiday prep diversion, I pulled out the 2 CPCC pieced tops and began the process of taking them to the finish line. Again, a fun thing to do, especially as I pieced scraps and leftover small half triangle scraps into blocks to further turn into mug rugs and/or table trivets. Truthfully, I was avoiding doing what really needed to be done in order to finish those 2 CPCCs.
About this time, Wendy posted about taking a fabric therapy break from her own holiday preps. The Tote she produced – and oh so quickly – called out to me. I emailed her about purchasing it and before I could step away from the computer, she responded.
“Could I just gift it to you? I’d love to do that. It’s the season of giving, and nothing would make me happier! So no need to pay anything. I’ve been smiling to myself all day, just knowing I can share this with you! I had no plans for this tote, but I just knew it would have a place to go. I’m just delighted! Send me your address, and I’ll get it on its way!”
(here it sits atop my folded cutting table underneath a few pieced scraps & leftover half square triangle scraps on my design wall – quickly put to use as my new project bag)
Personal revelation #3- I forget that while it’s fun & rewarding to give to others, it’s sometimes fun & rewarding for others to give to me!
As I dutifully cut the backing fabrics and lightweight batting, I had and AHA moment. Why not turn these into more versatile mats that offer both hot and cold protection to table surfaces? That’s when I grabbed the InsulBright used for hot pads and added it to the quilt sandwich fixins. As an unexpected bonus this addition offered a firm bottom layer which enhanced my modest walking foot outline quilting.
Personal revelation #4- I can function in a ‘color within the lines’ type of world, but I really am an outside the box type of gal.
I finally finished my Cookie Mats the other day.
Cookie Mats #1 & #3
Cookie Mats #1 & #3
See the difference orientation makes to the same design? Which do you like best?
Personal revelation #5- Take the time to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor!
* “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.” John 15:11 amplified
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
It’s been quite the year, hasn’t it?
Played against the backdrop loop of escalating violence, senseless shootings, climate catastrophes, wars, heartbreaking stories of real people – multitudes – changed forever due to man’s inhumanity towards man. It’s difficult to not get overwhelmed.
Learning to accept That all hungers cannot be fed, That saving the world May be a matter Of sowing a seed Not overturning a tyrant, That we do what we can.
The moment of vision, The seizure still makes Its relentless demands:
Work, love, be silent. Speak.
The house of gathering (poem excerpt) – May Sarton circa 1988
I’ve been quiet of late. Not by choice. I’ve sat numerous times at the keyboard or with pen in hand struggling to put into words all that is streaming within my mind and heart to no avail.
But now as 2023 nears completion, I find it easier to recount certain of those events and revelations which occurred during the past year rather than as they wereoccurring!
Part of my year’s journey included the above ‘revelation’ which clearly set me up for greater freedom in living my ‘everyday life’.
That said, I hope to compile a ‘part two’ followup post which will highlight some of those ‘events & revelations’…but then, maybe not! 🙂
Michael Chapdelaine 1956, San Diego, CA – November 16, 2023, Boulder, CO
“Please, play Michael’s beautiful music and smile with us. Share his love for the guitar with your friends and family.” – Suzanne Dove Chapdelaine
Michael Chapdelaine, a local, regional and international (he)artist with whom I was acquainted, was the only guitarist ever to win First Prize in the world’s top competitions in both the Classical and Fingerstyle genres – the Guitar Foundation of America International Classical Guitar Competition and the National Fingerstyle Championship at the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield.
A contemporary colleague within the world of classical/acoustic guitar who was generous with his time, knowledge and playing, Michael’s presence will be greatly missed.
Upon waking on the 18th of this month*, flower bouquets greeted me in two of my favorite places inside our home.
The kitchen table held the joy of these Gerbera Daisies – watching over my morning coffee preparation ritual, prophesying the beginnings of a glorious day.
As I rounded the short distance to my studio, caffeine delight in hand, these Deeply Red Roses nestled within surprised me – lending approval, distinction and beauty to the (he)art I create therein.
Both bouquets spoke love from the one who deftly placed them in their respective spots the night before.
The Gerbera Daisies began to wilt shortly after the first week.
The Deeply Red Roses are still going strong.
In fact, the photo shows them more than holding their own after almost two weeks.
Look closely at the water in the bottom of the vase. Kind of murky and yucky. A great indicator of the age of the bouquet, yet they haven’t even begun to fade or show signs of shriveling up any time soon.
Both bouquets unfurled insight on my entry into the ‘Nines’.
I entered into the ‘Nines’ this year. As stated in the post reference, my times in the ‘Nines’ have tended to be fraught with trepidation. Simply put: my journey through the ‘Nines’ can be a bit rocky.
In a non-angsty way, I have been questioning my own relevance and place in these present times and ridiculously ageist American society since the New Year.
Enthusiastically re-imagining a life-path, I am forging my own way and am confident, yet…?
What makes these intriguing to me is not only the fact that they are used to give to children as holiday gifts, but that they are one third of a triune gift drive. Carole’s Quilt Guild partners each year with local teddy bear makers and the Woodcrafters Guild. The woodcrafters create all-wood toys such as cradles, wagons, rocking chairs and such in which to place the hand-crafted teddy bears and quilts.
Using 100% fabrics and scraps from my stash, here they are – ready to be popped into the snail mail.
Center block #1
Taz on point
Taz & baseball backing
Thank you to Roseanne & Carole for the opportunity to give in this manner.
According to those in the know ‘sus’ means suspicious.
When author/editor (and friend) L.Marie posted about current slang used among teens, the term ‘sus’ came up.
My comment to that post went as follows:
“Sus (suspicious)” HA! Had to laugh at this one. As a musician, ‘sus’ is common reference to a suspended chord and/or melodic line suspension. Often said, Csus7 as an example; or There’s a sus on measure 3, forth note.
My comment to L.Marie’s post on current slang
That’s my simplified attempt at using ‘sus’ in a sentence. As a musical, technical, theoretical term go here & here for explanations and examples of suspension.
Excerpts from pop music of where different ‘sus’ chords are used can be heard in the video to the left. Keeping in mind that this is a composition technique used in many other forms/styles of music.
The beauty of this particular musical sound is that once heard, most listeners regardless of musical acumen recognize this in whatever genre of music it is heard.
That sound can now be connected to its name – suspension, or ‘sus’.
Full pop song example of ‘sus’ chords in instrumental sequence (first begins ~ 0.18) – Enjoy the music!
I’d say we got off easy, though not without cost. Over the years I subtly prepared for this eventuality by adjusting clothes and boxes for the least amount of damage once the dreaded occasion arose.
All that to say, due to a unique ricocheting leaking process, water puddled on top of the big red plastic bin as well as on the floor beneath it.
Fine. Except not really.
I placed a sturdy U-Haul cardboard book box filled with my latest & most special composition books, journals and pieces of writing atop that big red plastic bin in order to keep it from being soaked in the event of such an eruption.
Best laid plans…it was soaked.
However, no clothes or shoes were ruined (big sigh of relief) and the damage to the notebooks numbered three journals soaked, with manageable wetness on another handful.
Honestly, minimal damage on that front. Though of course, those three notebooks soon became the most important of the entire lot.
At first, I thought, ‘Okay, time to just let my decades of journals, Morning Pages, etc go. At the very least, grab the earliest entries, skim and toss.’
But then…let’s just say that one of the soaked three was nearest and dearest to my heart. It contained my Summer of Dad entries – including those made during my last days with him.
“Hard times, these days. Yesterday’s huge take away for me was when I kissed Dad good bye ‘before you get all messy from lunch.’ And I spoke in the Italian as he’d been going in and out of Italian, ‘Io t’amo, mio Padre.’ To which he emphatically – immediately responded with, ‘I love you, too!’
The other two, though not as poignant, proved hard to let go of for a different reason:
The Pandemic “lockdown” and its historic if not creative significance in my myopic life at the time. One even contains pre-Pandemic scenarios morphing into the unrelenting reality of the early months of the Pandemic. Thus, easily highlighting the contrasting paths of life interrupted in one compact composition book.
Last page, last paragraph taken from the 1/2020 – 4/2020 journal:
“The myriad turn of events and the speed with which they’ve occurred is phenomenal…Just within the pages of this compo book we went from being in business negotiations poised to buy that new business in San Diego, to finding a rental home in Austin to be closer to business partner, to changing plans & gearing up for a move to Las Cruces, NM fully pre-approved and in pursuit of purchasing our chosen home, to being packed and ready to move once all i’s were dotted and t’s crossed, to almost death by Symbicort*, to dealing with the cold reality of life in the time of COVID.”
I spent most of that day blow drying those three drenched journals. Focusing on my Summer of Dad one, which emerged a questionable save. The other two are reasonably saved. But what of those now puffy, ugly, hard-to-read and unwieldy three? What of those outer visual reminders of the broken times contained within?
Some practical things I learned:
School glue-sticked articles, photos, magazine pictures and other creative extras used to decorate and punctuate the pages release their hold once wet and then blown dry.
Of course – that’s why it’s for school use!
All except normal Bic type pens are subject to performing the disappearing act when exposed to drenching water.
But even then, writing on both sides of the paper becomes all mixed together and harder to decifer.
I’m not ready to go through those accumulated journals (which were in that big plastic bin) and am no nearer a resolution on what to do with them all before I die.
This singular event spun off re-dedication in going through ‘important’ papers, projects, not just the journals. The ephemera of a life mindfully collecting said ephemera!
To clarify, I am a periodic purger, so it’s not like this stuff hasn’t been scrutinized and gone through multiple times over the years – organized and available for use if and when needed.
In my case that includes many published articles in complete, virgin condition magazines and other publications. Plus, multitudes of concert programs, printed reviews, promo materials, permission to record requests, proof of said permissions, etc, etc, etc.
In short, the curated files of a life’s career before, during and after digital replaced paper – which actually added to the paper and created the Rabbit Hole of associated computer files.
On top of those considerations, I keep hearing the mantra: Purge your Portfolio. Which means making certain that whatever is kept, should reflect best efforts at the very least.
Seriously, I do purge old recordings, score attempts, early drafts of anything on a regular basis in order to clear the clutter of creative thought. But sometimes, it’s handy to see the progress of the process during a certain project’s creation…
Is it vain of me to feel like I just can’t chuck it all?
How do you reconcile the legitimate stuff to keep?
Input? Ideas? Help!
*my doctor casually handed me free samples of Symbicort to supplement my asthma rescue inhaler treatment, to which I had an immediate life threatening serious reaction…obviously I survived.