The road ends, but the journey continues...

Strings, Strength and Soup

Well, I hit a wall on my grant progress shortly after our son left on Wednesday.
The energy of juggling regular meals, avoiding each other’s space when all three of us (both hubby and son are over 6 feet tall, so figure three adult bodies) were camped-out inside our homey 1100 square foot rental, balancing rest and relaxation with a few jaunts here and there, and just the comfy, constant companionship of each other’s company must have triggered my resolve to focus on the grant regardless by squeezing in very productive ‘me times’.  (Now how’s that for a sentence?)
I admit, I panicked.  After all, my goal is to have all but the Budget Section finished sometime within the first full week of December – which is right around this weekend’s corner. Yikes. So what did I do to allay that panic?

Took a walk. No good.
Took a shower. No good.

Cleaned up the kitchen. No good.
Cleared out the leftovers in the fridge. No good.

Stayed up all night staring at the computer monitor hoping the words would come. No good.
Downed two, yes, two, pots of coffee in the hopes that would help the above. No good.

Then it hit me…It’s all about the music.

I picked up the Prisloe and began playing.  Way good.

Got tired too soon, probably due to all of the above prior incidents and decided to change out strings. There is something therapeutic in that for us cgers.  The rhythm of unwinding the old, thuddy, brittle strings and replacing them with a fresh set is quite uplifting.  A whisper of future serenades and unspoken communing between ourselves and our instrument lingers with each turning of the tuner keys…

Savarez-540J-Alliance-Nylon-Strings High Tension

my fav, go-to strings of choice

After decades of playing and performing, my go-to, very favorite strings are Savarez Alliance High Tension 540 J’s.  (or, the blue pack)
One year, while on the road between homes, I accidentally received two packs of Savarez Alliance Standard Tension 540 R’s (or, the red pack) in with my mail order. I tried one set and wasn’t impressed, so never used the other set, but kept it as an emergency pack in my case.
savarez 540R normal tension

okay in a pinch, but don’t last long under my fingers

Now this string change, I chose to use ‘em up.  Get rid of them before I re-enter the recording studio realm where those 540 J’s will carry my pieces successfully through the sessions. I also had another motive in putting them on this time around.  As my practice sessions have increased, the fatigue factor of my left hand has hindered further time increases.
While I won’t go into all the cool details of the pros and cons of each set of strings, I will say that these ‘soft strings’ are just the thing for helping me gain strength and endurance for this re-entry into a more active/demanding playing/recording/performing schedule. A kind of PT (physical therapy): serving to allow my left hand to execute movements without excessive straining.
I spent most of Thursday in a longer practice session without pain of any sort. This confirmed to me that the warning signal of ‘pain’ was not related to my technique, but in the need to work up my left hand muscles to the level of intensity of when I was gigging/performing regularly.
Let’s see, that about covers Strings, Strength and oh yes, Soup. Friday I purposely avoided all contact with anything remotely related to the grant, including practicing. I actually got out and about seeking Christmas gift ideas, immersing myself in the quaint activity known as ‘Window Shopping.’
The weather was a bit nippy, thus igniting the urge to set a big pot of homemade soup on to simmer for the evening meal. I mixed up a batch of homemade cornbread to accompany the soup which added to the enjoyment of our repast.
Here then is my thrown together version of Black Bean Soup…I dub it:

Bruno’s Brazilian Black Bean Soup

Use the equivalent of 3 cans of black beans – I cooked partially pre-soaked dried beans in a combo of chicken stock and water with oregano, cumin, garlic salt, black pepper, a 1 inch chub of peeled ginger (quartered), 3 cardamon pods (optional), a few smashed garlic cloves, 1 small carrot (chopped) and a bit of chopped onion till tender. In a small fry pan, saute 1 jalapeno, garlic, several mini-peppers of varying colors and more garlic. Fish out the ginger and cardamon pods, then add sauted veggies to soup pot along with the juice of 1 orange. Simmer till done. Serves 2-3.


  1. Joe Finnety

    Let the grants begin. I grant you a long and sustained period of peaceful time in which you may write, cook, create and play music for all those you love.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh Joe, those are grants worth receiving.
      Thank-you my darlin’ Finnerty.

  2. Donna

    I know what you mean about getting some distance when creating – stepping back and tying to do something else. Hope your grant comes through too. Black bean soup is tasty, I like that you made the cornbread too, I love cornbread.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Sometimes when we’re in the midst of it all, we forget to ‘step back’. In my case, it was the sense of having gotten behind in my deadline-schedule rearing it’s head as panic that prevented me from allowing myself to ‘step back’ at first.
      Take care

  3. Anna Scott Graham

    So many pertinent points in this post, as well as calm which at times comes from stepping back from the process. That soup recipe sounds delicious, makes me want to start a pot today!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Tell ya what, I’ll bring the soup if you make the pie (get it?)…wish we could visit over a potluck table.

  4. Geralyn

    Good luck with the grant. I usually work best under a deadline or when I’ve got a lot going on and I have to multitask. Maybe practicing and making soup did help! And, to me, taking a walk is never a waste of time, I’ve had some good ideas come out of my walks.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yeah, you’re right, lots of my progress occurs quite tangentially!
      And pounding the trails always helps clear my brain, too.
      Thanks for the good wishes. Have a great week.

  5. L. Marie

    Great post, Laura! Will say a prayer about that grant and you having everything you need to finish it.
    Love this line: “A whisper of future serenades and unspoken communing between ourselves and our instrument lingers with each turning of the tuner keys…” I’m glad you found peace in your music.
    I’m exploring grants myself. I’m just at the exploration stage. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for two agents to decide on my manuscript.

    • laura bruno lilly

      How exciting about the two agents…but I understand about the waiting bit – it’s hard to be patient! 🙂
      Thanks for the encouragement. Really made a huge dent in today’s grant writing progress. WooHoo!
      Keep me posted on agent decisions and grant exploration progress, Linda.

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