The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: inspiration (Page 1 of 7)

Weekend Notes 1/13-14/2024

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…

Laura Bruno Lilly on back porch
I’m a happy camper!

While many have detailed their goals in a manner worthy of the New Year, I have been floundering in my own Sea of Lists.

Until…

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!

RIP: Michael Chapdelaine

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.

Birthday Bouquets’ Insight Unfurled

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.

Birthday Bouquet, Red Roses

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…?

As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words.


* the date of my birth

When Do Lightening Bugs Become Fireflies?

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!

my prepared guitar set up

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.

Scroll back to April 6, 2023. Hubby was poised at his computer to be one of the first to enter our names in the Congaree National Park Firefly Viewing Lottery.

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.

In that moment, the original title of the piece died along with using my preferred bug nomenclature in the new title.

“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.”


Weekend Notes 3.18/19.23

  • Hubby and I just got back from 2 weeks in Albuquerque (almost home!) caring for a dear longtime friend pre, during and post TAVR (heart valve replacement surgery). Originally on-call to help with the household, that same household* got struck down with RSV and then COVID so details of how we were to help changed drastically. She moved out of her home and into an Airbnb where we three (hubby, myself and herself) spent the duration.

Love is a powerful enabler

  • Meanwhile, her husband held down the fort, miraculously remaining unscathed by the actual virus, if not sleep deprivation. Love is a powerful enabler.
  • As can be seen from this 6-days-after-the-surgery photo, our precious sister-friend is stronger than ever.
Me and Joan along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque
Me & Joan along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque
  • And oh yeah, we drove there and back racking up the miles once again towards our return trip from the moon. Odometer now reads over 430K miles – only 20K left to go!

  • They officially hired me in January, and I’ve since been asked/invited to be a visiting artist/artist-in-residence during their Summer Arts Program for TAG students in the Kershaw County School System. I am turning my attention on preparing for this and am beyond the moon excited!
Source: NASA

*their household consists of her husband, a set of elderly parents, an accomplished adult child with cerebral palsy, and twice weekly babysitting of their spunky 2 year old special needs granddaughter – oh and she and her husband both work by remote from home, too.

Love is a powerful enabler

Weekend Notes 2.11/12.23

As per my last post, I figure it’s time to make an appearance on my own blog. 

As per my personality, I find it hard to just dive back in and post something after having not posted for a good long time.

As per the trajectory of my growth as an individual, here goes!


In the Arts Community, there is this ongoing debate as to whether or not a qualifier adjective is required before the term artist/musician/author/fill-in-the-blank. This overlaps into many adjectives – ethnic, gender, religious, political, educational status, age and other identities. Somehow the adjectives male or white are rarely if ever used.

Implications on this are loudly obvious. As in: the assumed standard is indeed male & white.

However, that is not the point nor within the scope of this set of Weekend Notes. Except in the context of should those qualifiers be used or would it be construed as offensive?

Worth pondering.

(If you want to comment on this germ of a prompt then have at it!)

More to the point of this post, currently a large proportion of the (he)artists on my online ‘playlist’ of cultural personas are also black women.

It’s Also February.

In honor of Black History Month, I’d like to draw your attention to one such (he)artist.

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson

1940-2015

“I began drawing at the age of three. My father would give me wood to paint on and paint in little enamel tins. My studio was under my bed…I never had any doubt in my mind about being an artist.”

Aminah Robinson

Aminah created an immensely diverse body of work ranging from fiber art, scrolls, textile & accordion books, paintings & drawings in various mediums, sculpture, tapestries and huge pieces of quilted mixed media which she was constantly adding to called, Button Beaded Music Box RagGonNon Pop-up Books or “RagGonNons” for short.

Her art was grounded in her belief in the African concept of Sankofa, learning from the past in order to move forward.

Interesting inspirational factiod: she worked on her art from 4:30 in the morning through 12 midnight each day whenever she was in her studio home.

Phenomenal!

for further reading: source 1, source 2 and just google her name for a plethora of articles, images, videos.

Listen for the music connection in her works of art
Watch her stitch buttons onto her huge pieces of fiber art (around 1:11)
A more in depth overview of the scope of Aminah’s life’s work

Peace Post: Silence – E. Kagge

excerpt from: ‘Silence In the Age of Noise’ by Erling Kagge
translated by Becky L. Cook

6.

“Silence can be boring. Everyone has experienced the ways in which silence can come across as exclusive, uncomfortable and at times even scary. At other times, it is a sign of loneliness. Or sorrow. The silence that follows is heavy.

However, silence can also be a friend. A comfort and a source of deeper riches.

Shutting out the world is not about turning your back on your surroundings, but rather the opposite: it is seeing the world a bit more clearly, staying a course and trying to love your life.

Silence in itself is rich. It is exclusive and luxurious. A key to unlock new ways of thinking. I don’t regard it as a renunciation or something spiritual, but rather a practical resource for living a richer life. Or, to put it in more ordinary terms, as a deeper form of experiencing life than just turning on the TV to watch the news, again. “

Catching Up part two

As per Banjo Guy’s suggestion in part one, I spent some time with my Hammered Dulcimer (HD).

Once hauled out from it’s resting spot under the skinny folding work table in my music ‘studio’, and set up in the living room, it was ready & waiting for me to play at my pleasure.

Our house is on the small side at ~1200 square feet. As you can tell, the HD does take up a lot of room. Once set up, there’s a certain feeling of commitment to sit down and really dig into the instrument. This musical outlet worked well for me as the strain to my wrists was almost nil while I worked through scales, hammering techniques and reading/playing HD tunes from HD playbooks and by ear.

Yep, I had fun!

My music ‘studio’ is nestled within a modestly sized bedroom, sharing space with a writing/computer area and a sewing/quilting area. If I have an unusually large project in the works or just need to spread out and ‘claim my space’ while creating (especially musically on several instruments at a time), my ‘studio’ overflows into the living room.

Luckily, Hubby understands the call & needs of the (he)artist. He actually encourages me to spread out  and encroach on our living room whenever I need more space to create.

Meanwhile, enjoy this more traditional HD cover of Here Comes the Sun to get a feel for this dreamy, jangly instrument. If nothing else, that classic Beatles Tune is sure to bring a smile to your face and lighten your mood.

Perhaps you noticed the wall hanging on the brick wall over the fireplace. It serves as a subject clue as to what ‘creative activity’ I’ll be discussing in part three! (I’m) stay(ing) tuned…and yes, I do mean that literally. 🙂

Floating 'L' wall hanging on brick wall above fireplace
‘floating L’ – LBL – MMXX
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