The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: my hubby (Page 1 of 6)

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!

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

Come Monday. That’s Today.

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!

XLV

1978-2023 (and counting!)

June 17th.
Our 45th wedding anniversary.

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:

1. Pituitary Gland Brain Tumor

or

2. Early stage MS

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.

They wouldn’t.

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!

But we knew it was our ‘miraculous intervention!’

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.

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 2.18/19.23

Love, Harp Guitars, Oatmeal Scotchies…and back again to love.

February is the love month.

You know, the 14th is St Valentine’s Day and all of that.

In our family, holiday celebrations often last longer than the actual 24-hour day. Hence, here it is a few days after the 14th and yes, hubby and I are still enjoying the love month.

What’s that got to do with harp guitars and cookies? Bear with me. I’m in one of those ‘everything’s interconnected’ type of mind right now.

I remember when I saw my first harp guitar.

It was hanging on a wall at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, CA.

The same time and place where I strummed that special resonator hubby encouraged me to get, but I declined.

McCabe's vintage harpguitar

McCabe’s is a wonderous place. Museum-like with vintage stringed instruments hanging on walls in rooms filled with bookcases of sheet music and racks of pick-me-up-and-try-me instruments for sale. Bustling with the local musician community of both the vintage and newbie type, too.

Scroll up to 2020/2021.

I found an orchestra made up entirely of harp guitars playing The Water Is Wide in a virtual performance on-line.

It touched me deeply while in the midst of ‘lockdown’.

A folk song of Scottish origin

…which brings me to the oatmeal scotchies.

Get it? 🙂

Every so often, I get a hankering for something butterscotchey. Simply popping a Werther’s wasn’t going to satisfy this time around. So, the handful of butterscotch baking chips I had leftover from who knows how long ago, got baked up recently in a batch of oatmeal scotchies.

Oatmeal Scotchies Recipe on chip bag

The recipe (on the back of the chip package) calls for 1 2/3 cup of those chips, but I had to supplement them with leftover choco chips and walnuts to come to the 1 2/3 cup requirement. Along with my normal adjustments on commercial cookie recipes – replacing the flour, baking powder/soda and some of the salt with self-rising flour and swapping out ½ cup of the 1 cup of butter with ½ cup of Crisco – I also decided to continue adjusting the recipe by replacing ½ t of the 1 t vanilla with ½ t orange extract.

Yeah, that’s how I follow a recipe.

However, believe me, those cookies turned out fresher & brighter because of that vanilla-orange combo.


The water is wide I cannot get over
Neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

chorus from ‘The WAter is Wide’

…we both shall row, my love and I…


Life Is In The Doing

I’m just doing the doing. More some days than others. A steady doing of doing that is mostly mindful, often delightful, surprisingly productive and always so very daily.

Hubby and I took on several home improvement projects since buying our little rental home October 2021.

Doing needful maintenance the landlord avoided doing – even when we volunteered to do certain necessary items.

Doing homey stuff the landlord didn’t allow us to do – even if it enhanced aesthetics such as hanging plants on the front porch or planting flower gardens.

Now that we’re homeowners again, we’ve been busy.

TWL on roof Spring 2022
Terry on roof Spring 2022

From power washing the vinyl siding, to cleaning the gutters in the Spring & Fall, to planting/hanging porch plants and garden areas, to sanding, sealing, repainting said porches, stairs & railings, to replacing the crummy kitchen countertops, sink & oven fan/hood, repainting said kitchen, changing out all electrical outlets/switches & updating some electrical issues, to installing new, working ceiling fans/lights in the kitchen, Living Room, Master Bedroom and hubby’s office, to replacing the flimsy flusher pixie toilet in the hall bathroom…and more.

All without breaking the bank or dumping too much money into the place from an investment point of view.

Here are a few snaps of just one of the many projects begun & completed as mentioned above –
before & during prep of the kitchen (notice new hood in last photo):

Who knew we’d ever be able to afford granite in our modest home? When we ordered new counter tops, it was during a small window of time when supply of cheaper laminates were limited and granite actually was only a few hundred dollars more to buy & install!

BTW: this phone video is titled, “Glee over our Granite!”

If you listen closely to this vid, you’ll hear my signature laugh against hubby joking with the sales lady speaking in a typical South Carolina accent.

Kitchen 7
Lookin’ good even before we re-painted the walls (Sherwin Williams ‘Greek Villa’) and installed the new electrical plates/outlets/switches.
FYI: the kitchen is done, but I have no final photos to show here – I’ve been too busy baking & cooking up a storm and making foodie & coffee messes!

I guess we have been busy.

Our lives have certainly been enhanced by the doing.

Plus, we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor and share it with our kiddos over Christmas Holiday this year. Our first time to host (for various reasons) in about 6 years.

Can’t wait!

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

One breezy afternoon in April

One breezy afternoon in April – in the days before it gets too hot and humid…

…hubby and I trekked to the new soccer fields/trails on the outskirts of town to play in the great spacey outdoors

we each took turns taking sneaky photos of each other

…then packed it all up and called it a day!

Wishing us all times like these to refresh our souls and replenish our spirits.

Shortest Day, Longest Night

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5

These past few years I’ve been heavy on the ‘longest night’ part of reflecting upon life’s unfolding during the winter solstice. So herein I am pondering more of the ‘shortest day’ side of things.

I like sitting this side of the solstice – winter’s frozen heartbeat on the cusp of a new beginning. Almost but not quite on the other side of darkness.

Bright spots. Glimmers. Slanting, lingering glow-rays.

Those are the things any day can bring – and are especially darkness busting on The Shortest Day.

Offerings I grasp onto, hoping to not miss any scrap of sunshine put out there to encourage me along the way through.

This year’s ‘shortest day’ forced its way into my brain. Insisting I pause, recognize and think on the myriad kaleidoscope bright spots, glimmers and slanting glow-rays of MMXXI.

From getting vaxxed, which enabled something as simple as getting a haircut and grabbing my first coffee at the new shop in town, to meeting up with a quilter-blogger buddy for the first time face-to-face at her home (and fantastic quilting studio) in NC. Plus numerous road trips made to Michigan and Chicago…mostly for fun, family gatherings, but also one that included sharing the grief with family due to the passing of my Aunt Adua.

In many cases, what was interrupted by 2020’s COVID crisis began to re-start this year in different ways…for our son that meant ‘how to get engaged, married and go on a honeymoon’ during a Pandemic. The beginning of the Pandemic caught him and his girlfriend hiking the Patagonia wilderness – a miracle story in and of itself of how they even got back on American soil…They are now honeymooning in Thailand.

🙂

In conclusion (!), the following just seems to put ‘the shortest day’ and ‘the longest night’ into a sort of musical representation of what I’m trying to convey in this winter solstice pondering – give it a listen.

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