The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: creative dry spell (Page 1 of 2)

Pandemic Potpourri #3

I’m finding it very hard to focus on much of anything these days. How about you guys? I really think it’s a COVID-19 shelter-in-place/isolation induced thing – but that irritation is much better than the actual COVID-19 infection itself, so I’m not complaining really. Just noting it.
~~

I’m not a fast food type of gal, but the other day I craved, just craved, a Burger King Whopper and McDonald’s French fries. Hubby obliged by sitting in each of the two respective drive-throughs to indulge my primal need.
Yeah, he’s a keeper.
In keeping with the French Fry Theme, here is a snappy, happy Celtic inspired piece, Danse des Duex Pommes Frites (aka The French Fry Song) by Steve Baughman and performed in duo with Robin Bullock*.
Musical French fries have zero calories, guys, so enjoy!

~~

Speaking of calories.
About 8 weeks into sheltering-in-place, I glimpsed my reflection in the sliding doors entering the grocery store and my Lord! Forget about that masked (wo)man staring back – is that huge-hipped, thunder-thighed lady, me?

Hubby's favorite 'Bridge' Path - sometimes he comes along for the walk & fresh air, too

Hubby’s favorite ‘Bridge’ Path – sometimes he comes along for the walk & fresh air, too


After the Coronavirus took away my meager 45-minute daily workouts on the elliptical at the Y, my regular walks around the block and on the McLeod Path across town took on a more immediate level of importance.
I even do a few planks on my Yoga Mat and shake the house down doing jumping jacks in the kitchen…but admittedly, the Coronavirus has limited my exercise options.
Whilst (I love that British term!) taking a walk around the McLeod Path a few weeks ago, I noticed a pair of ladies beside their respective cars, a proper social distance of 6 feet, jumping rope. These ladies were ladies of a certain build that made me think: if they can do this, I can do this!
 
Mushroom at McLeod Parking lot

Look what greeted me at the nearly empty McLeod Path parking lot last week!


Thus began my search for the perfect jump rope and determination to add jumping rope into my anemic Pandemic exercise routine.
Last week, with my new rope in hand, and a 5 minute ‘Beginner’s Guide to Jumping Rope’ video on my phone, I drove back to the McLeod Path parking lot intent on re-learning how to jump rope.
Yep. Re-learn. Turns out, that ‘double hop’ us kiddos did back in the day is detrimental to progress in the realm of jumping rope for fitness.
For the next 20 minutes, I judiciously went through the preliminary exercises devised to help in redirecting old habits. When I felt ready, I set forth and did a full continuous three minutes of jumping rope.
Three excruciating minutes of jumping rope the ‘correct’ way.
The guy in the video even concedes it’s a biggie challenge to begin again on the jump rope exercise scene. He suggests beginners hold back enthusiasm in advancement by restricting jump rope sessions to 3 per week for the first 4 weeks.
Shin splints, muscle aches and cramps, coordination misfire whips against the body by the jump rope itself – all can add up, hurt and hence discourage continuing on in one’s advancement of jumping rope as a total body workout. Being an older adult, I heeded hubby’s suggestion to ease into my new jump rope routine to 2Xs a week for 4 weeks.
Tuesday this week was my second date with that ole jump rope. In that same parking lot.
The mushroom was long gone, but I managed to do two 5-minute spurts of continuous jumping rope! 10 minutes total. I never in a million years thought I could ‘advance’ so quickly on something so taxing and demanding.
I am not the athletic type.
I was always the last chosen on sports teams back during School Gym days. But my enthusiasm and persistence have always been my redemption. I love hiking, skiing, biking, swimming, diving, volleyball, softball – I’ve just not ever been good enough for ‘teams’!
And now: Here I am, beginning my new COVID-19 jump rope exercise regimen. And succeeding!
Next appointment with my rope? Saturday. Can’t wait.

~~

 *Hubby and I had a date planned to take in Robin’s show at The Isis Music Hall & Kitchen in Asheville, NC on March 29th, 2020 at 6pm. Guess what happened instead? As I re-looked up the concert venue today, lo & behold to my delight and surprise there is a re-scheduled concert set for September 17, 2020 – we’ll see if we can keep that date!

Snowin' on Raton


One of the things I do on a regular basis is search and discover ‘new’ (to me) music via a myriad of ways…all part of being a working musician – seeking, learning, creating.
A fine example of this occurred recently. As noted in a prior post, CNN’s short video in tribute to David Olney lead me to seek out more of his music. Which lead me to two other seemingly unrelated musicians/composers. I say ‘seemingly’ because I haven’t a clue as to how I arrived at their respective websites/youtube channels/streaming stations but some invisible google-ly algorithm guided me based upon something related to its way of calculating.
I know standard streaming sites routinely offer up an ‘if you like X, then try Y’ approach to new music seekers. However, my pokes and prods seem more organic, focused, personal – with a touch of human (mine) direction in the seeking. In addition, it is not limited to a particular platform.
Anyway, David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov * who lead to Gavin Luke.*
And then I discovered an unexpected related theme – that of home.
David Olney was an itinerant wanderer, Gregory Alan Isakov is a transplanted Boulderite (my hometown) and Gavin Luke is a composer whose style draws deep home yearnings front and center.
Olney’s cover of Snowin’ on Raton** reminds me of all the traveling back and forth between hubby’s and my family homes…driving over Raton Pass in all types of weather from Colorado to New Mexico and back again from New Mexico to Colorado.
Specifically, two significant snow times come to mind.

1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops

1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops, image from google

  1. January 1979. Just a little over 6 months into our newlywed-ness, we packed all our belongings in the smallest sized U-Haul trailer and hitched it onto hubby’s 1977 Burnt Orange Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham (complete with T-tops and other extras). Moving in the winter was dicey but needful as hubby was set to resume studies at NMSU that semester requiring our move from Boulder, CO to Las Cruces, NM to begin our new married-student phase of life. He, as an older student to finish his CS degree on the last of his GI Bill (at that time, NMSU was on the cutting edge as one of the few Universities to offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science Program). And me, to forge a more direct relationship with my in-laws in hubby’s hometown while exploring our own new surroundings filled with endless possibilities. On the day of our move, we expertly navigated the increasingly dense low visibility January snow storm conditions. We even managed to slip (pun intended) into the climbing lane as we began the long steep grade over the pass…before CDOT closed I25 behind us. Yep, we were the last vehicle allowed on the road to mount up and over Raton Pass into NM. Suffice it to say, we jackknifed only once on the steady upward climb and managed a controlled descent on the other side of the pass into Raton, NM.
  2. January 1982. After hubby graduated in December and with our firstborn less than 4 weeks old, we packed up that same Cutlass – with more precious cargo this time around. The plan was to move back temporarily to CO to stay with my folks while waiting for more details concerning hubby’s new job at HP in the Silicon Valley to determine exactly where we’d be relocating. Again, a January snowstorm. Again, slipping past the road closure signs as the last vehicle going up and over the pass. Safely strapped into her rear facing car seat, our newborn baby girl who’d been sound asleep for most of the trip opened her eyes with a start and immediately began her screaming cries as we began our ascent. She sensed the tension of our situation – and added to it – all the way up & over Raton Pass. This newborn Mother could not – dared not – pick her up to nurse her back to calm – and was thusly initiated into the lifelong Sturm und Drang slice of what it means to be a Mom.

And those are the snowy times when we drove Raton Pass and where listening to Snowin’ on Raton many years hence intersect – hitting squarely through my heart –
Missing home. Missing our baby daughter.

*will discuss these two in a later post
**composer/lyricist: Townes Van Zandt

Re-stringing a Life

Andres Segovia & Augustine StringsA few weeks ago, I finally changed strings on the Prisloe (my classical guitar). After a couple of months trying out another brand, some Augustine Regal/Blue High Tensions as recommended by Segovia himself, I’m back to my standard Blue Pack (Savarez Alliance High Tension 540 J’s).
In addition to his pioneering role in elevating the classical guitar to the concert stage around the turn of the 20th century, Segovia partnered with Augustine Strings in the 1940s to develop a revolutionary (at the time) non-gut string option for classical guitars. For many years since, Augustine Strings were one of very few quality options out there for classical guitarists.
All told, those Augustine’s just didn’t agree with me. My style, my fingers; maybe even my guitar. That’s part of being a working musician, trying different things to see how they enhance or detract from one’s playing. When I know I don’t need to depend upon reliability in sound/tone due to a lack of gigs, or recording dates, I often slap on different strings – brands, tensions, material composition – just to test drive the newest innovations, those recommended by colleagues and/or those with the best reviews by other players.
The Augustine strings offered up a strong rich sound in the basses with less buzzes but were harder to coax out tone colors. Plus, the trebles took several days of consistent playing to settle them into a decent tone – albeit with a plastic-y feel and muddled sound. Yes, they lasted longer and handled my hard-driven playing well, but they just didn’t offer up the variety of subtle tone colors I use in my playing or feel good under my fingers.
They also were harder on my hands. Segovia had huge hands with sausage-like fingers and probably really needed the thicker, plastic-y feeling of the strings to accommodate that physical factor. And as far as the relationship between instrument and strings goes, remember: Segovia played a huge Ramirez with 664 fret scale and larger, 54 mm nut width.
For those of you not in-the-know about the great Segovia, I found a quality, yet un-retouched video of him playing sometime in the 1960s when he was actually in his sixties. I chose this one because it’s representative of his tone/style – his signature technique of finding just the right sweet spot on the fretboard for each note, delivering a rich deep vibrancy – all while showcasing his effortless command of the instrument.

The thing of it is, regardless of the strings used, music is played, compositions are created, techniques are explored, expanded and maintained. For myself as a musician, each time I re-string one of my instruments, there is a sense of expectation. A moment in time where everything seems possible, opening up a wide world of sonic possibilities, hopes, dreams and deep expressions of my (he)art flowing through my fingers into the outer realm.
And when the right strings are strung, those aural rewards inspire and invigorate…
The thing of it is, regardless of the strings used, music is played.
Life is lived.
And when the right strings are strung, life is magical.

I have come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10b NKJV

Snips, Snaps and Soggy Bottom Pie

Catchy title, eh? It’s been rolling around in my head as a title for a poem since 2015.
The alliteration, associated visuals, meanings and rhythmic feel just lends itself to something more creative than yet another blog post. I mean, speak this out loud: snips, snaps and soggy bottom pie.
Like I said, the perfect set-up for something more to follow than just another blog post. I think four years of this title sitting in a Word file of ideas for poems is long enough. It needs to see the light of day.
Which brings us to this day.
Notice that what follows is not a poem – more like a framework of thoughts prompted by said title. Which is handy as I’ve come against a brick wall lately trying to sort through the myriad current events and life events crowding my mind all screaming for first place in being presented in ‘yet another blog post’.
I’m sure most bloggers squash up against that brick wall every once and awhile. It’s one of the commonalities we bloggers share.
I therefore choose to start with Soggy Bottom Pie as the first smack down of that formidable barricade.

Soggy Bottom Pie

My current favorite PBS series, The Great British Baking Show aka The Great British Bake Off in the UK, is rich in such ‘show stopping’ images. (Yep, pun intended, for those of you familiar with the show).
Can’t you just hear Mary Berry intone, “It mustn’t have a soggy bottom,” as she pokes and prods a contestant’s pastry crust in the pie baking ‘Technical Challenge’?

cherry pie a la mode

I like mine with 2 scoops of the creamiest French Vanilla Bean ice cream available!


Truth be told, I am partial to a good homemade pie with, yes, a slightly soggy bottom. Sensuously luscious when the à la mode melts deep underneath the crust, bathing the jammy juices within.
My favorite pie is cherry. My extra favorite is a cherry pie made with Montmorency cherries picked from our own backyard tree*…seems like centuries ago when our kids and the neighborhood kids all helped pick once the harvest was in full swing.

What’s your favorite soggy bottom pie?
What’s your favorite reason why?

Snaps

“Contrary to popular belief, I am a snapdragon…” snapdragonsThus began a post I wrote in 2014. Based upon a now defunct ‘What Kind of Flower Are You?’ internet quiz, it was a fun foray into matching flower personalities with us humans. Or should that be human personalities with flowers?
I came out a snapdragon 8 takes in a row – even though I’m more partial to giant purple irises, deep red orange poppies, daisies and milkweed blossoms. I learned that my cousin Marybeth and blogger friend Deborah (christened ‘flower-sister’) both came up snaps in the quiz. We three are also October babies. Connection?

Snappy, flappy, flower laughing lips.
Caring, sharing, dreamy dew-drop drips.

Snips

Come a Stranger by Cynthia Voigt coverI do relish reading books and finding passages float up from the page past my eyes and into my (he)art. When that happens, I often mark it with a sticky note, reread it later, then if it still resonates, hand copy it into my book of quotes – or snip(pet)s if you will.
I often find lovely prose in young adult novels. Here’s one from Come a Stranger I jotted down 4/15/07.

“Even after everyone had gone home, the house was filled with the good time they’d had, as if it could linger in the air like the voices and music lingered in memory. Mina wrapped the memory up and put it in her heart; there was a quiet gladness, deep like a tree and tall in her.” Cynthia Voigt

 

 A tisket, a snip(pet)
A green and yellow kismet.
~~~

 Snips, Snaps and Soggy Bottom Pie

What comes to your mind as this phrase echoes about?

*we’ve since moved from our ‘growing-a-family-and-garden’ home…sigh.

Insights into the creative life…Quotes

Couldn’t have said it  better myself…the following quotes by J. Michael Dolan

Uptight, Worked Up & Edgy!

Every single day, a plan, a plot, a project, a scheme or a great idea screams to be on the front burner: A song that needs to be recorded. A video that needs to be shot. A business deal that needs a push. A website that needs to be built or updated. A relationship that needs to be dealt with.

Important because sometimes our best-laid plans work out, far beyond our expectations. Other times they fall apart and fade away. That’s the nature of a creative, independent lifestyle. However, truth be told, it’s all those big plans, worthy projects and bright ideas that we’re NOT doing that continue to keep us uptight, worked up and edgy.

Two Fisted Advantage
(italics mine)

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs & stories you already know that I’m a huge advocate for artists & entrepreneurs. That’s because I’ve been both all my life and in my world there’s no difference between the two. They both dwell in the land of uncertainty and risk and they both have to use creativity and innovation to negotiate their way through it. That’s not all…

A songwriter (composer) composes the music he hears in his head.
An entrepreneur creates a vision for the future that she sees in her mind’s eye.

A painter prepares a canvas for her next artistic expression.
An entrepreneur prepares a Powerpoint presentation for his next keynote.

A writer processes words that stimulate and entertain.
An entrepreneur processes words that motivate and inspire.

A singer (instrumentalist) nervously stands in front of his audience and shares his soul.
An entrepreneur nervously stands in front of her shareholders and shares her vision.

Neither one would last long in a regular 9-5 job because both have a relentless muse and an untamable creative spirit which they simply MUST follow. And unlike others, A&E’s have an advantage: the unique ability to devise, create, invent, fabricate, formulate, manifest and cook-up ways to make a buck.

Important because if our world ever crashes, it will be the crazy, genius artists and risk-taking entrepreneurs who will survive to inspire us and point the way out of the rubble and into the light.

Plays Well with Orange

I tend to let loose with my color splashes in the fabric realm.  Grabbing scraps and stitching them together with a rough nod to the log cabin process of construction is my usual modus operandi when in need of a creative break.

Dora Quilt and Future Shock Book

Orange Color Scheme Examples: Pastel-y/candy-ish Dora quilt and garish orange & black book cover


This time around my bottom line need to use up scraps in spontaneous quilted creations has been utilized in a very different way. I found a pattern (yikes, I haven’t used a pattern in years) that incorporated Charm Packs…and applied it for my personal use. I don’t own a single Charm Pack, but have plenty of 2½ inch strips of fabric from decades of projects that can be adapted for use in anything requiring 2½ x ? pieces. In this case, the pattern required 25, 5 inch square pieces of fabric cut in half…resulting in 2½ x 5 inch pieces to build a block as directed.
It’s been a long time since I colored within the lines. Continue reading

A Project for 'Now'

Often when I am stalled out creatively, unable to work on my main music or writing projects for whatever reason, or stressed out in the midst of life’s issues, I’ll dig through my fabric bins and baskets. The rooting about itself often gives artistic satisfaction and aesthetic relief in the form of color and design eye candy.
As I mentioned in a prior post, I needed a creative outlet during the ‘four weeks here’ part of my new Dad-visitation routine. Something to pursue requiring less focus than my Swimming with Swans related endeavors.  This lead me to begin work on the pre-printed quilt block fabric whole-cloth throw I’ve had in mind to do for quite some time. Continue reading

Look What I Found!

Unfinished Mother-Daughter Quilt Top Center

Look what I found!


Roaming about the unpacked boxes in my studio space, I came across this unfinished, but not forgotten WIP.  Carefully set aside to be finished at a later date, this Mother-Daughter Quilt Project was started when my middle daughter was in High School.  We worked on it through her first two years of college getting the entire quilt top center finished, with only the borders and binding left to sew.  It got put on hold as our business of over 17 years was going through bankruptcy and major changes were shaping the course of our lives. Once we packed up stuff to go into storage a few years later, it was definitely a WIP that I figured would never get done.
Borders, Backing & Thread: Ready to Go!

Borders, Backing & Thread: Ready to Go!


What’s so cool is that in its recent re-discovery, I know that now is the time to finish it.
Moreover, packed alongside the rolled-up quilt top were the materials needed to complete the project; all cut and ready to go.
My Michelle’s favorite color is no longer pink.  She has grown up, become a confident, professional woman and married a fine young man.  But our Mother-Daughter Quilt still speaks of the ties that bind: times past, present and future; the good times and the bad; what it means to love and be loved; forever and always…Amen.

One Year Later: Why Blog? Why Now?

In commemoration of my upcoming one-year blogging anniversary, I’m referencing Why Blog? Why Now? using it as a foil for reviewing the year-to-date.  As the introductory post written on 8/30/13, it serves as a starting point for re-assessing goals stated therein: whether they were met and/or if they’ve changed.  I guess you could say this is a sort-of evaluation post, re-examining the purpose of the blog along with how to proceed into its second year.

Why Blog? Why Now?

The obvious answer to this is of course, ‘Why not?’
Comment:  And thus began my official entry into the blogosphere… Continue reading

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