Michael Chapdelaine 1956, San Diego, CA – November 16, 2023, Boulder, CO
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.
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’.
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.
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…
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.
I cannot get past the coincidence of today’s Labor Day Monday and the Come Monday Monday also being a Labor Day Monday. It pushed me over the edge of posting on this Monday, Monday. But then, that’s a different Monday entirely!
While I like me a fine Margarita, this song (and video) by the late Jimmy Buffett is more reflective of the mellower times I remember in the 70s. Since it became a hit in 1978, I can imagine & remember the early days of being a newlywed. And our time as a couple with a newborn living in the Bay Area shortly thereafter.
Hubby was the country/cross-over fan, introducing me to Jimmy, Waylon and Willie! 😊
Of those three, I’d say Jimmy was the one who grew into a good lookin’ old guy – respectfully written I assure you.
RIP Jimmy – an everyday musician who didn’t let his unexpected fame (via that other hit song) spoil his joyful, gentle, persona.
On a side note: I hope this Labor Day ushers in cooler weather for everyone. Take care, all!
Hello Readers! While my blogging absence has been partly due to mindful summery activities/work/projects/laziness, it is mostly a result of managing a string of migraine storms over the course of the past 8 weeks – and counting. I’m in an in-between migraine wave space and really wanted to get a post out that’s been simmering over the duration.
Earlier this month, I spontaneously took out my phone and recorded a mini-video of the sunlight illuminating aromatic steam arising from my morning cuppa. I liked it so much I decided to do something Canva-esque with it at a later date.
As I’m partial to the quiet of the moments captured, here it is ‘as is’ for inclusion in this long overdue post!
While this is not that Canva-esque moment, “Aromatic Steam Arising” (cool name, eh?) has joined my small file of phone vids I want to edit and use in future projects. Thus, scratching the itch to explore DIY vid/music creations via the myriad of free tech tools available to the general population – especially to those of us non-techies who just want to try doing this.
I mean, I have the vid, I have photos, I have plenty of my own music to use, some Canva skills, a plethora of ideas…just not the time or patience to embark on this new spark of a project right now.
That said, I’m always up for squeezing in time to bake and cook! HA!
Many of you know of my deep appreciation for lavender in the realm of edibles. During our Mother/Daughter trip in late June, middle daughter and I came across an ice cream shop, OWOWCOW, nestled within the old Silk Factory building complex near Easton, PA. Its siren call beckoned us to enter and indulge!
The heat wave in that part of the country was on the verge of bursting forth, but bearable. So, we gladly & without guilt lost ourselves to the delights of ice creamy refreshment after our walk along the Karl Stirner Arts Trail.
What flavors were offered? A world of possibilities. I chose two scoops of a luscious looking chocolate and one scoop of an interesting Honey Lavender as an experiment to share with Michelle. In my eagerness to satisfy my own cravings, I neglected to take notice of what she ordered. But I do know we both ordered scoops without cones – less calories, ya know? 🙂
Would you believe me if I told you the Honey Lavender was to die for? Yep, believe me. It easily surpassed the chocolate – which was one of the best I’d ever had aside from the expensive, teeny scoop consumed during a trip to Paris years ago.
This re-encounter with Honey Lavender inspired me to re-dig into related recipes. I found a simple Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookie recipe on-line and baked up a batch.
Its simplicity allows for the tastes of buttery lavender and subtly sweet honey to shine forth – leaving a clean and refreshing taste upon one’s palette.
Excellent with a morning cuppa!
Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies
on-line recipe refined & adapted by Laura Bruno Lilly
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons dried lavender
In a large bowl of the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy. Add the flour, salt, and lavender (gently crushed). Mix until combined. Place two sheets of waxed paper, parchment or plastic wrap on the counter. Divide dough in half and place one on each sheet. Using the wrap, roll & shape the dough into 2 logs that are approximately 1 ¼ inches in diameter. Shape the logs into squares if desired by pressing gently on the top with a cookie sheet to flatten the log slightly, then turning the log on its side and pressing again. Freeze thirty minutes or refrigerate 2+ hours, or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 325. Remove the dough from the fridge or freezer. Slice into ¼ inch slices. Place 1-2 inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool completely before serving.
Note: Baked cookies freeze well. Also, can freeze dough and bake at later date – freeze in 5-inch long logs. Defrost, keeping firm, between 5-10 min before slicing into cookies. Bake as usual.
Over the course of a long love story, what was once a single ‘our song’ becomes a whole playlist of songs. Marking myriad events in the ups, downs; ebbs, flows; crushing sorrows, magnificent joys; everyday living out of our love & life in this world hand-in-hand and in His Hands.
Here then, is one such song released in August, 1983 and added at that same time to our playlist during a particularly defining event that occurred early on in our life path together.
The year was 1983.
We were renting the bottom unit in a quadplex in the heart of the Silicon Valley – San Jose, CA. Hubby pursuing the dream of working for the hottest tech company of the time, Hewlett Packard.
Me? Living life in the Bay area as a new stay-at-home-college-educated Mom of a one-year-old and precariously on track with our fourth pregnancy.
A seemingly viable one after a rocky reproductive history of 2 previous miscarriages: one around 15 weeks (twins) and later, an early ectopic pregnancy that spontaneously resolved itself. Nestled between those, our much wanted beloved daughter, Hava was born!
Over the course of this latest pregnancy at 5 months gestation, the increasingly troublesome eye blind-spot symptoms I was experiencing could no longer be ignored. At the end of my eye exam, the optometrist explained that he ‘could not be responsible for me’ and felt he couldn’t tell me his suspicions on the cause of my blind spots. (Yes, he was an odd duck) Instead, he promptly picked up the phone and scheduled an appointment for me with a neurologist colleague ASAP.
Thus began the whirlwind of expedient & lengthy testing.
Of course, the neurologist explained further concerns at the next day’s appointment. It appears my symptoms suggested two possible diagnoses:
Neither a good choice or something to hope for. But we prayed for the best along with a miraculous intervention.
Apparently, Pituitary Gland Brain Tumors grow exponentially & rapidly if the patient is pregnant – hence the haste with which these medical professionals carried out their testing and treatment plans.
I underwent numerous tests that lasted hours over a two day period prior to an impending operation date within 10-14 days. It was assumed I had the tumor and several tests substantiated those assumptions.
Between sessions, I talked with my OB-GYN to make sure that the scheduled CAT scans (MRIs weren’t readily available at that time) wouldn’t hurt the new life growing inside me.
Further, the doctor spent time patiently answering my flood of ‘what if’ and ‘what about’ questions – mostly focused on how to protect my unborn child from harm during possible brain surgery.
And you know what? My OB-GYN made a point of letting me know that prenatal care is as much for the care of the mother (me) as for the baby! He was there for me, too. Every step of the way.
A few days before the looming ‘possible’ brain surgery was to be performed, the latest CAT scans baffled the medical staff. The original tumor dot cluster seemingly disappeared!
Even the neurologist said it was unexplainable (often their way of acknowledging a miracle of sorts).
So they cancelled the immediate mandate to operate post haste.
That left us with diagnosis #2 … which at the time was only confirmed via a spinal tap. I asked if we could postpone that until after the baby was born and/or indefinitely and was told, “Yes”.
Relief. We’d deal with it later, if at all.
Now we could celebrate and enjoy getting ready for our new arrival.
Aside from periodic monitoring with a world renown Neuro-ophthalmologist* at Stanford, I ultimately ended up with a clean slate.
Sadly, I miscarried again**, this time at 6 months gestation.
But the Lord has been my (our) stronghold, And my (our) God the rock of my (our) refuge.
Psalm 94:22 NASB
*there’s an hilarious story that goes with our visit with this doctor, but isn’t quite in line with the focus of this post – perhaps another time it will be told!
**for completion’s sake, we went through 4 more pregnancies, resulting in 2 more live births (middle daughter and youngest son) but losing 2 more babies at 12 weeks gestation each. In total, 9 babies, with 3 live births. All wanted. All beloved.
June is fast approaching and there is much scheduled.
The beginning of the month is my highly anticipated Visiting Artist Presentation/Performance at the Arts Center. The last weekend of the month is a long-planned mother/daughter trip. In between, there’s hubby’s and mine 45th wedding anniversary and Father’s Day. All-in-all a hearty, well-paced meal of events I’ve been looking forward to devouring for several months! HA!
So, what’s all that got to do with the question posed in this blog post title?
In prepping for my presentation/performance, the focus morphed into spotlighting prepared guitar in musical compositions. I fooled around with other composer’s pieces, most notable ‘Kalimba’ the featured piece for a rhythm study by A. Hirsch on the Aaron Shearer Foundation website. The sound was sort-of right, but not quite.
Plus, I wanted something I could incorporate into one of my own compositions. I dug out an experimental duo piece I wrote for classical guitar and banjo about a year ago when I was collaborating with banjo guy. I played through the guitar part in prepared guitar mode and voila! It was made for just such an application!
As often happens with original compositions, until something is marked as Fine// on the score, it is still a WIP. So, I adapted the original duo into a short solo prepared guitar piece to play during my Vising Artist Presentation/Performance. I had loads of fun experimenting with a final guitar ‘preparation’ and ended up using staples on 4 sets of strings to get the sound I wanted.
A great example of Kalimba/Mbira sounding prepared guitar can be heard in this piece played by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ):
“Okay, but what about the Lightening Bug/Firefly thing?” you may be wondering – albeit a bit impatiently.
About 10 days later we were informed we acquired our first-choice date for the event.
In planning for this, I asserted my usage of the term ‘Lightening Bugs’ over ‘Fireflies’. It’s the term I grew up with and cling to even now as a point of identity!
The night of our excursion was a perfect night in the swamp for observing the lightening bugs’ synchronous light show. As we were immersed in Lightening Bug Glow, they seemed to be blinking a tempo (in sync, remember) to the prepared guitar piece I planned on playing for part of my Visiting Artist Presentation/Performance. The piece wafted through my mind (in sync) as the images of the lightening bugs hovered over and around us. I whispered to my hubby about my delightful discovery and he caught the vision, too.
“Fireflies Arising for prepared guitar” rolls off the tongue nice and smooth. It’s a rhythm thing.
What’s your preferred term for these wonderful critters?
About the following video:
“Every year tens of thousands of fireflies (Photuris frontalis) emerge from the leaf litter in Congaree National Park to begin their bioluminescent mating ritual. As darkness falls, this species of firefly, also commonly called a “snappy sync,” begins to flash in unison. The effect is like watching the heartbeat of the swamp, pulsing lights hovering over the bottomlands. This short film was created during the COVID-19 pandemic when the National Park was closed to the public and when the fireflies could be viewed without the interference of external lights.”