Monday, April 30, 2007

Fine Tuning

Many of you probably know or have seen a fiddle or maybe a fine violin, or maybe played one. You use the large pegs for tuning within the range. And the little tiny screws at the bottom, your fine tuners, are what you rely on for getting the thing into pitch, for getting it just right.

A short while ago as I picked up the fiddle to get to know it better and start playing it, my good friend Jawbone told me that it's really ok to use those fine tuners. For some reason, I had been hesitant, trying to tune close to perfect with the pegs and relying on the fine tuners only for the very necessary last half-turn.

Lately I've realized I'm due for a little fine tuning myself.

Getting away for the weekend was truly wonderful, especially spent in the company of friends and family. I wish I could do that more often. Part of me wonders what the right path to that is. Is it to go out on my own once and for all? Get a job with a big anonymous corporation where I can just go through the motions but get a fat paycheck and lots of perks? Or just stay put and make a bigger contribution where I am? Or none of the above?

What is the right balance? Where is my perfect pitch?

This question would be much easier if I hated my job or even felt disconnected from my work. It would also be easier if I was something more places needed, like a lab technician or a salesperson or an accountant. But I really enjoy my work with people, and I know that it adds value to the organizations we serve. And because we work for some pretty wonderful orchestras, my job really does have meaning for me, because it's about helping the people inside organizations that have meaning for me and for many people around the world.

And it helps pay the bills. It doesn't pay them all at once, but it helps. Getting my house in order matters to me this year. Unfortunately, my day of being a grownup was to include this evening a visit by a window estimator, who is now officially a no show, thus sending himself and his very well known and expertly-marketed company to the back of the line. I have so little time as it is, I don't need other people to waste it for me.

I think I just sometimes wish I had more time, that I somehow could string together a few days away without forever having to catch up. Or maybe I just wish I were doing all that work all the time on the stuff I love the most. But I'm not sure I can do that yet.

So in between, I tune. I'll put this article down and pick up the fiddle. I don't know how it will turn out, and maybe I'll find a new line here and there, and maybe I'll move along back over to the mando for a while and try the line there, too. Learning these instruments, like fine tuning a life, is a process of discovery, including missed notes and clumsy fingerings.

Casey Driessen, world traveler and fiddler extraordinaire, probably understands that as well as anyone. So while I tune up, you enjoy this one from Casey, appropriately titled, The Confusion Before Dreams.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Gilbert says, "Thanks, Y'all!"

At about 5:30 local time today, we brought Gilbert back home. He was a little disappointed to find that the dogs still live here, so as you can see, he's been reading up on some coping tools. He's also been giving his dear Mama lots and lots of snuggles and headbutts which she really needed. They both want to thank everyone for the kindnesses and good thoughts over the past few days.

At 4:30 a.m., It's About More than Muck

But more on that in a few days.

It's just past 4:30 a.m. and I'm about to hit the road so my friend and I can spend the weekend in Nashville with my beloved sister, her husband, her daughter, her animal friends, and her pond muck.

I'm hoping we'll have pictures to share along the way, but for now I'll just leave you with this get up, get-movin' tune from Sam Bush's Laps in Seven release. It should keep me awake at least until we get to the airport.

(And, thanks all for the good thoughts on Gilbert. Reports are he's doing much better!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This Pig Needs A Pen

Most dictionaries have the wrong picture next to the word, “pig.”

There are several key political and popular figures I would argue warrant the honor. Rush Limbaugh is near the top of that list. (Quick digression: If you guess correctly who IS at the top of my “pigs” list, I will make you a compilation cd of tunes represented here on FTLOB and send it to you free. My email is

Evidently, the Imus circus wasn’t enough. Rush Limbaugh has released a “parody” on the old Peter, Paul, and Mary tune, “Puff the Magic Dragon” as part of a video by conservative “satirist” Paul Shanklin, who sings “Barack, the Magic Negro.”

Now, I have been one to say all along that I’m not convinced Barack Obama, while a stunning orator and decent policymaker, is ready for the Presidency. That’s a big job, a different job, a gigantic administrative job. He probably could hire the right people and get the job done, but the lack of experience makes me a little antsy.

And evidently he makes ol’ fat-n-happy Rush Limbaugh nervous because otherwise Limbutt wouldn’t expend the energy or the cash necessary for the parody. Let’s face it, that’s quite an investment.

Anyway, the thing is, while this blog is not all that intentionally political, there are times when I just can't take the likes of Rush. There are so many things that bother me about him. Like, "Oh, I think I'll take a folk song that was popular with children and turn it into a vehicle for propelling my fat-assed, fascist racist spew even further forward into the housecat masses that listen to my show."

And those housecats, by the way, number almost 20 million.

That means, not only to lots of people LISTEN to Rut, er, Rust, um, Rush, but they actually LIKE it.

But I think he's just fat, old, and in the way.

And that fabulous 70s band, Old and In the Way, featuring -- are you ready? -- Jerry Garcia (banjo and vocals), David Grisman (mando and vocals), Pete Rowan (guitar and vocals), Vassar Clements (fiddle) and John Kahn (acoustic bass), would almost certainly agree.

This old tune just came rushing to mind this afternoon when I saw the article below (presented in part). OINK.

The article from DiversityInc:
Rush Limbaugh yesterday delivered a jaw-dropping video called "Barack, the Magic Negro." ....

The video (watch it here), entitled "U Da Real Negro Al, Screw Obama," was a parody by Paul Shanklin, a well-known conservative political satirist famous for his voice impersonations, who tries to imitate Sharpton's voice and includes a slideshow of images of Sharpton and Barack pointing out the differences in their "blackness." Toward the middle of the video, Shanklin harmonizes "Barack, the Magic Negro," a twist on the 1963 hit song, "Puff, the Magic Dragon" performed by Peter, Paul and Mary, which seeks to suggest that Barack is somehow a manufactured black man.

This would not be the first time Limbaugh has attacked Sharpton and Obama. According to
Media Matters, Limbaugh once said the attendance of Democratic presidential candidates at Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) convention was similar to Republican presidential candidates attending a hypothetical convention of "The Rev. David Duke's—whatever, whatever organization." Media Matters also has reported on Limbaugh constantly referring to Barack Obama as "Obama Osama." Many are now wondering whether this new video footage will warrant the same criticism Imus received.

Limbaugh, like Imus, is the host of an opinionated talk show popular for its right-wing content. "The Rush Limbaugh Show" is a national radio show distributed by Premiere Radio Networks, a division of Clear Channel, with approximately 20 million listeners per week, according to
Premiere Radio Network's web site.

During a recent taping of "Paula Zahn Now," Zahn took note of other on-air personalities like Imus who have made similar derogatory remarks, including Limbaugh.

"And while radio host Don Imus calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team 'nappy-headed hos' is certainly beyond the bounds, it is not the first time offensive comments have been spewed on the radio. Conservative Rush Limbaugh, who has offended just about every minority group, drew special criticism for attacking actor Michael J. Fox," she said, recalling Limbaugh's charges that Fox went off his medicine to show the severity of his Parkinson's symptoms in a plea for federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ode to A Nashville Cat

This is Gilbert.
(Yes, that orange furball there on the chair.)

Gilbert is in the hospital. He's a real live Nashville Cat whose lived with my sister for almost 16 years. Seems he hasn't been doing too well lately, he's in a bit of a kidney pickle, and we don't know whether he'll make it through the week. If you're inclined, please do send him some positive healing critter thoughts. I'm thinking he must have 2 or 3 lives left in him.
At least we hope so. My pals and I are headed down to Curry Lane this weekend for muck and trouble at Pondfest 2007, and we sure would like to see him at his old Southern catcantankerous best. And I'm glad we'll be there with my Sis. It's going to be a rough week. Seems like a lot of folks in my life have lost either a human or an animal family member in the last month, and it's no different, one from another. Love is love.

There seems to be a whole lot of chaos swirling about these days. My own little uninteresting everyday dramas not withstanding, friends and family near and far seem to be bumping into some formidable turbulence. I wish I could be like Elastigirl in the Disney release, The Incredibles, and just turn myself into a big stretchy parachute with my arms wrapped around these special people and critters in my life.

So this track from Donna Hughes recent release, Gaining Wisdom, seemed apt. Yeah, you know you know it, and I hope it gives you a lift and a chuckle. Ok, Shannon, how many versions of this can you find?!
I just want to say to all the ones on my heart how much I love y'all. You each are just so special to me, and I'm here, y'all, time after time.

(This is a terrific recording, by the way, produced by Tony Rice and full of great songs and great musicianship. Hughes is a classical pianist by training and trade, but shines as a songwriter and singer on this sophomore effort. Check it out.)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

No no, I don't need you to call my mobile phone. That's the name of the Tom T. and Dixie Hall song that Doyle Lawson and Jamie Daley recorded on the new Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver recording, More Behind the Picture than the Wall.

We hadn't yet acquired the recording when Jamie and Doyle sang this tune tonight at their Wadsworth, OH show. It's just about the last track on the album, and sounds darn near like anything the Carter Family might have done.

It was a fun time, even though my little girl couldn't quite get the nerve up to tell Jamie that she loves to sing Four Walls while he signed my son's copy of the new cd. Then again, neither could I. Maybe next time I'll have the nerve to tell him I'm ok with the fact that his voice is higher than both mine and A's.

Enjoy your evening with one called Can You Hear Me Now?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Get Out from Behind Your Four Walls April 21--Doyle's Coming to Town!

This is a quick reminder that Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver will be at the OJ Work Auditorium in Wadsworth, OH this Saturday night (April 21). Doors open at 6 p.m. Also playing your favorite bluegrass tunes will be of course the host band, the Bluegrass Mountaineers, along with guests Matheson Family Pride.

DLQ just released another recording, More Behind the Picture than the Wall. My son is already preparing to stand in line for 20 minutes to get his copy. I hope I can find our Special Bluegrass Fan Sharpie.

There is something about this band that is very special. The band is officially in its 25th year, although some of the faces and names have changed over the years, as is the bluegrass way in some cases. But you won't be disappointed if you come out for this terrific bunch of pickers and singers. They were voted best vocal group by the International Bluegrass Music Association five years running.

This irresistible tune is one of the all-time favorites at my house. The kids and I all sing it. We're looking forward to the real deal on Saturday, and hope you'll get out from behind your four walls to join us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Watch THIS Video Instead

I'm guessing a good many of you have spent an evening watching pieces and parts of the now-famous video of Cho Seung-Hui. So I thought you might like a little "break," pun intended.

This video was made just a few years back, and it features now 15 year old Sierra Hull and her friend Ryan Holladay, who is now somewhere around 14. Ever since I found this gem (in search of different versions of Salt Creek which has been under my skin for the last week or so) I find it's been very hard to come up with excuses not to practice.

Sierra Hull is not a lot different from some of those kids who were killed in Virginia, except that she's a good bit younger. Last year at IBMA she participated in a mandolin workshop I attended. She is poised and articulate beyond her years, and completely at ease playing alone or in front of a crowd. This video is, I believe, an out take from IBMA's education program video, "Discover Bluegrass," designed for classroom use.

I might be considered quirky, turning off the tv and pulling out board games and instruments for my kids to play and play with. And there's no guarantee that my kids will be nicer or smarter because of it. But I do feel that as a whole, we isolate our children far too much so that we can indulge our own childish needs, shove them off in front of the tv or with a handheld game instead of engaging and challenging them. I can't say whether what I do will keep my kids from hanging out on summer nights in parking lots. But if they do, I hope they have their instruments, and they had better be in tune!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Even Now, Try A Little Kindness

What misery is visted upon families of students at Virginia Tech today.

I have two nieces about to go off to college this year. Most of us send our kids off to school every day with nary a second thought. We don't raise our kids to keep them from the world. We raise them to send them into it.

The week will be long with memorials and too much news and eulogizing the dead young men and women, alongside the painful uncomfortable relief of parents whose children were not among the 33 (and counting) dead students.

What enormous pain or anger compels a single human being hurling toward such a ferocious act of violence? What might have been the last straw? There's no telling. But I do know how I feel when I've had a really bad day or gotten myself into a difficult spot and I have an encounter that makes it all worse. Conversely, I'm always all the more grateful for the person who comes across with a smile, who understands, who shoes me a little respect, or who takes the time to listen.

I try to be that person more often, even though it isn't always easy. Most of you who stop by here I suspect already do what you can, making up for a lot of others who wouldn't stick their necks out to save themselves a lick of trouble much less help someone in need. And you don't always know who's in need.

So just try a little kindness. It doesn't really cost anything, and you never know who it might touch.

Here's a song about that from Bobby Osborne, a pretty unique and talented figure in the bluegrass world. I was mighty taken with him a few weeks back at the Southern Ohio Indoor Music Fest. I've been wanting to write something about him ever since, and while this isn't the best reason, it's as good as any.

I know some folks will come by here and get angry that I posted this perky tune on such an awful day. But if more people followed Bobby Osborne's suggestion, we might see fewer days like this.

Meanwhile the Va Tech family from students to parents to faculty, admin, and alumni are all on my heart. May the path to healing be free of the heavy stones of regret.

Try A Little Kindness

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Do-Nothing (Almost) Day

Today was the first Saturday without a giant to-do list in almost three months. I had plenty to do--I'm proud to say the house is almost clean enough now for a crew of MightyMaids to come in without embarrassing myself. But that's only because I didn't run off in some direction other than here, right here.

I did leave the house once, to run a load of recycling out and to drop off another sizeable bag of Goodwill-bound clothing. But other than that, I stuck to my home base, rooting out dirt from under many overlooked places, releasing two small bags of too-small clothes from my son's closet and drawers, quietly slipping two or three lidless purple lip gloss containers into the trash, braving a look under the kids' beds to see what, or who, might be recovered.

And, I played Salt Creek ad nauseaum, because it's a fun tune.

And sometimes, I actually sat still. I read a book, about three chapters worth, on the emotional development of boys. I also have my son's copy of Eragon waiting in the wings for later, when I can't sleep because the two scoops of chocolate ice cream I just ate have just enough caffeine to create a small stir in my brain when I least need it.

It seems it's gotten hard for even me to stay home and tackle things without coming up with an excuse to leave the house (or spend money). Several times today I was certain I needed to go to the grocery store -- and several times I reminded myself that I had enough groceries to last myself and the children through several weeks of delicious meals during the next Spring in Ohio snowstorm, which is due anyday now.

As a society we are restless, not just the bold and self-destructive constantly moving restlessness riding around through shopping mall parking lots in Hummers, but restless in the sense of unable to be still, really still, and think about our lives without being overcome with a sense of urgency about needing to add something new to them.

It may have been easier for me today because I've been on the go far more than I usually am. The last couple of months, with travel or some outing every weekend and the last week that included a very busy household and a trip for a funeral, heightened my sense of disconnection from my home and my focus. The wrecked condition of the house was starkly apparent last night when I came in after an evening at The Kent was bad enough that I forced myself to unload the dishwasher at midnight, just so it would be one less thing to do this morning.

So now things are more at peace. And so am I.

I hope that all the people I care about are finding more peace. Lots of folks are going through inner turmoil, some self-imposed, some the natural outgrowth of real growth, some because life imposes it upon them. Real peace does truly seem elusive sometimes. I find that taking the time for just tending to simple things like chores and clearing spaces of clutter and stopping to do something I enjoy, like play a little music, helps to clear the inner clutter as well. It's quite satisfying to feel less "out of place" in my place and refreshed and happy in my place in life.

Tomorrow holds a little of the same, perhaps playing some music with friends, a little bit of grocery shopping (there are five days of lunch to consider, after all), more reading, more quiet time for me. Whatever your day holds, I hope it brings you to a happier, more satisfied place, too.

Meanwhile enjoy this simple tune I learned today, a standard jam session number called Salt Creek, played here by Bill Monroe. Now that my house is almost clean and there's a little more room maybe all you pickers will stop on over and we can give this one a try.

But first, I think I'll watch a movie ... (gasp!)

Friday, April 13, 2007

You Ain't Been Eight Miles High...

...until you've heard this version.

GREAT show at THE KENT STAGE tonight. This was on the menu presented by Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen.

Dig it....

It's the perfect thing to play along after unloading the dishwasher at midnight after a great show.

Between dust bunnies and gum wrappers, MandoMama is going to be taking her instrument into a whole lotta new kinds of new places this weekend.

Hope you'll do the same!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Tie that Binds

It's been a pretty extraordinary couple of days. The experience of returning to the X Family Fold in order to grieve the passing of my former mother in law taught me many things, not the least of which that this woman stood by her man.

My Xs parents were an extraordinary couple, and they had a love that I don't think I understood until today.

I'm surprised at the depth of my exhaustion but I wanted to mark this occasion with something somewhat happy. As I watched a wonderful slide show my former brother in law prepared, I was struck by one thing: there was underneath all the nearly 44 years of marriage between S and C something more genuine than most people realize.

I was really grateful that the love they shared extended far enough into the future to allow me the privilege of sharing this important day with people who by rights wouldn't ordinarily even still be speaking to me as an outsider. I'm grateful for that, because it allowed me to feel and release my sadness at losing this wonderful woman not just once, but twice -- through divorce and through death.

Regardless of my rocky relationship with X, I will always love his family. It is a privilege to have been part of that family and to have deepened their joy by sharing our children with them. That's a tie that binds, for better or worse, beyond and above the disagreements of the past and future between X and I.

This sweet song is dedicated to Senior and C. Thanks for touching me and my life in so many ways.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

For Carrie

The long days of waiting for my former inlaws are over. Now they'll be coming together, to say goodbye to their mother, life partner, sister, friend.

Even though our contact was lessened through divorce, Carrie was always there. By virtue, I suppose, of having her grandchildren, we shared a bond that really could not be broken. We also shared an understanding about many things, and there were many times I was grateful for that.
I know what it is to lose your mother, and my heart goes out to my formers because it's one of the hardest things one can ever go through. And with the long illness, I believe worse: I wouldn't want to go through what they went through for five more minutes with my own mother.

So this blog will be dark for a couple days while we get ready and make the pilgrimage. Thanks to all who kept the family in their thoughts.

Sending this out to Carrie's family, I hope you enjoy this tune called "Prettiest Flower There."

Prettiest Flower There
Rhonda Vincent, All-American Bluegrass Girl, 2006

I came into the parlor
A precious soul had gone home
I grieved with the family
Who'd been left all alone
The tears were freely flowing
Their loss so hard to bear
It was then I looked around me
She was the prettiest flower there

Angels stood at attention
When she was called away
For she'd held the hand of Jesus everyday
Heaven's choir played her anthem
As they welcomed one so rare
Heaven knows she's the prettiest flower there

I placed a rose by her side
It seemed I saw her smile
I remembered how she'd blessed all those
She'd met o'er the miles
Eternally she's resting now
In a garden so fair
And when Heaven looks upon her
It sees the prettiest flower there

Angels stood at attention
When she was called away
For she'd held the hand of Jesus everyday
Heaven's choir played her anthem
As they welcomed one so rare
Heaven knows she's the prettiest flower there

Heaven's choir played her anthem
As they welcomed one so rare
Heaven knows she's the prettiest flower there
Heaven knows she's the prettiest flower there

Saturday, April 07, 2007

We Need The Light

It's Easter Vigil. For Christianity, this is supposed to be the holiest night of the year. It's definitely a night of waiting.

Life is full of waiting, and these days are filled with waiting, and uneasy anticipation for many. Every day we learn some new stupid human trick pulled by the leader of the free world. We come closer to adding war with Iran. We hear a new puppet is about to run for president. We hear that New Orleans is no closer to being rebuilt than the days following the great flood. We wait while our personal mysteries unravel and reveal themselves. We wait for answers. We pack our minds with ideas and guidance and knowledge in hope that it will lead us, to a job, a new life, the love of our life, an answer.

But answers don't necessarily come, because we're not necessarily entitled to them just because we want them.

Many people may think I'm a spiritless person simply because I question the existence of an omnipotent creator, or force. That's entirely false. I believe in the spirit of human connectedness, and in each of us to reach his or her potential as a human being, which includes becoming a loving, giving, forgiving person. I believe that we each possess an inner flame, a light that we're bound to protect, because it's that light that directs us in thought and action. When I don't know where to turn or what to do, I look inward, and try to discern what right action is, what's fair, what feels right, what my passion is.

I believe the Easter season is largely about that, even though I no longer hold to the Lenten calendar or any of the rest of the church calendar. I do believe that at one time, maybe nearly two thousand years ago, the rituals and mysteries of the church held some symbolic meaning that actually helped people to make good decisions and be better people. I also believe that's been over for a really long time, and that now the church, and most organized religions regardless of faith are about controlling other people and harnessing their power, their money, their influence. Even the most personal of "religions" -- religion from the Latin, re ligare, to bind up, to join -- has made as its goal the groupthink, rather than the re ligare of self, to bind ourselves closer to our purpose and to putting our best foot forward for humanity.

That's the job of our inner light.

This song is still about relying on that heavenly light, but if you listen closely, it does speak about the need for a guiding love. We all have that capacity, for human love, imperfect human love that still endures and makes every effort to heal and to soothe and to contribute to the future. What if, those who believe could combine that power they feel from their God's love with that of their own, sort of a new matching gift program? Would we still be raging at war? Would we let despots take our tax dollars and ruin our kids' futures? Maybe not.

Entering into this week, it's a solemn time. I am hoping that the understandable anxiety and sadness that my X's family is feeling can be balanced with their own effort to reflect and act on the light, and that of those who want to console them.

Something I have to look forward to in a few weeks is a stop in Ohio by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. They'll be playing the OJ Work Auditorium on Saturday, April 21. This is one band whose praises I can't really sing enough. They are the heart of both classical and gospel bluegrass. If you hope over to the link, you'll hear the fun standards of their more popular music. But this song I'm presenting is from their Gospel side, and I present it both because it talks about the light and to honor all the people I love and care about who do believe. I am not the kind of person to raise my beliefs above some others. But I hope this season brings others an opportunity to think and examine their relationship with religion and whether it in fact serves any purpose toward guiding them through the human work of human relationships. Personally, I've found that to be my job, although I certainly have brought insights from different teachings over the years and am still working on how it all goes together.

Wishing all my readers deep peace, clarity, and awareness now and throughout the rest of the year.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holy Burrito Brother, Batman! Get to the Kent Stage April 13!

Since it’s going to be a heavy and busy week, I wanted to take the opportunity to tout a terrific upcoming show at The Kent Stage. Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, formerly blogged here for their contribution to the Out of the Woodwork recording with Larry and Tony Rice, will be making a stop next Friday, April 13 at the Stage in support of their latest release, “Way Out West.”

These dudes have blazed a hot bluegrass trail that started all the way back in the 1960s. Chris Hillman was an Early Byrd (fellow Byrd Roger McGuinn played the Kent Stage last fall), and later headed up the Flying Burrito Brothers. Herb Pedersen had been sideman in a litany of projects before replacing Doug Dillard in The Dillards, to which he brought, in addition to his banjo playing, seriously polished vocals. Herb and Chris, having played here and there together since 1963, built a band in the mid-1980s called The Desert Rose Band.

One thing I love about this little journey I'm on is learning about these amazing acts whose heydays were about 20 years ago. Unfortunately, I'm also realizing that, their heydays were almost 20 years ago. I find myself fairly concerned that the acts of today, with barely an industry leg to stand on, may not have the staying power. I have hopes pinned on the Infamous Stringdusters and King Wilkie and the like, but even Nickel Creek, a sure bet, kind of petered off when bandmembers started to move into their own careers (not that this is unusual, but a more experienced band member, like Rhonda Vincent, seems to be able to get her team to do both.) So I'm moderately concerned about the future of our music given that the leaders are all between the ages of 50 and .... how old is Dr. Ralph Stanley?

Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen have been part of the California Bluegrass scene since the beginning, and their bands have been top-shelf in a state that has one of the most active bluegrass associations in the country. I hope our weather is a little more hospitable to them than what we’ve got right now, an icy 30-some degrees and blowing snow.

So at the end of next week, which holds for me the Easter holiday, the kids’ spring break, a ton of work, and a difficult memorial service for my late former mother-in-law, I’ll be more than ready to enjoy Chris and Herb. The only thing that could make it better would be if some of y’all were to come on out and enjoy it with me. Show is at 8 p.m.; tickets at the door are $23. Did I mention The Kent Stage has lots of great beers on tap?

I'll send this one out to all the folks I know who are feeling life's challenges. I've got friends ready to pull their hair out, friends wandering in the forest, friends who lost their mama, my kids getting ready to bury their grandmama, and a little of everything in between. This song's called Good Year, and it's what I've had so far and what we'll all have if we just hang in together a little tougher.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for listening.

Good Year

Heaven knows we've seen tough times
This past year seemed to swallow us in
And you held onto me, and we held on to him
Darlin' wipe away those tears

We've seen trouble come in many different colors
From the darkest black to a shade of blue
So you picture me, and I'll picture you
Oh having us a good year

Down the back road, through the memories
Let the dark disappear
Hold me under, send me thunderin'
I've got a way out of here
Oh, it's gonna be a good year

Feel like your caught in a spinnin' whirlwind
Storms of life can be sometimes so severe
Hold my hand and I'll walk you through the days up ahead
'Cause we're gonna have a good year

Every moment is a blessing
Those who've gone before tell us hope is in the air
And we'll count all the steps up to heaven
One for each day of the year

Down the back road, through the memory
Let the dark disappear
Hold me under, send me thunderin'
I've got a way out of here
Oh, we're gonna have a good year
Oh, it's gonna be a good year

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Free to Be...

Since I had a lot of time alone in the car over the weekend, it gave me the opportunity to sort of open up and think about my life, where it's been, where it is now, where it might be headed. Every time I go through this I always come out thinking how fortunate I am, and I really am.

There are just some things that we can't know until it's really time to know them. Today, I was thinking about how lucky I am to have the friends I have, and to have the time I have to enjoy them, and to have the life I have that includes such incredible freedom and quite a bit of joy considering all the constraints I could see instead.

It finally dawned on me how little real freedom I've really ever had until now. I haven't really had the opportunity to enjoy being alone. Either I've been married, hooked up with the wrong person, trying to be the right person, or worrying about it. Through it all, I rarely felt comfortable truly being myself. Now that I'm making a conscious effort to steer clear, I'm realizing how good it is to really be on my own. Sure, I love to get together with my friends or go out and hear a show, but I truly don't mind coming home to my own quiet place. Maybe that sounds weird. Now, I mean, if I could have a loving partnership in my life that would allow me to be myself without reservation, I'd be open to it, but right now, I am exactly where I need to be.

Last evening I spent a few hours with a good friend over dinner. We were talking about the good things about being alone. It's likely though that we couldn't really pull it off without having the friends we do. The friends I have in my life all know I don't pull any punches. I have my BA degree, not a BS degree. Sometimes I think it's a miracle that I have any friends at all. But really, they keep me in balance. And the best part about all of them is that they still love me when I'm just being my real me, which can be pretty odd at times.

I love that, too. And I love them.

And, I love my life. It's not the easiest, or the most exciting. But it really is mine, and it can be whatever I decide it needs to be.

I've been spending a lot of time listening to Tony Rice's album, Unit of Measure, a must have for any Tony Rice fan. Sort of right smack in the middle of the recording between a couple of heavy hitting, hard-driving instrumentals is this stunningly beautiful song called High Noon. It's title is intriguing to me. There's no duel here, just maybe the duality of what we think of as the brightest part of the day and the deep quiet peace this track conveys. I was explaining to someone how listening to Tony Rice always helps me to feel grounded, and this song is exceptionally good for that. It is absolutely gorgeous. Perfect music for the end of a very good day.

High Noon

Monday, April 02, 2007

Goin' Fretless

This evening I've been thinking about my sister. I love her so much, because she just gives and gives. I'm a little concerned about her but she's a smart, strong woman and she knows what to do. She just tends to fret, for good reason.

Later this evening I went to see my pal Jawbone who helped me with a little fiddle repair. I decided it was time to learn the basics if I were to properly understand Son of Mando and his desire to fiddle. Jawbone is a fine fiddler and a treasure trove of knowledge. He doesn't know it but he's also a fine teacher. It felt good to thread the string through the peg, tune the fiddle, and learn how to hold it, and to hold the bow. Before I left I got the hang of where not to put my elbow, and how my hand should feel at roughly a 45 degree angle with a bow cradled between my thumb and third finger.

When I got home, I fully expected to have forgotten most of what he showed me. To my surprise, I didn't. I love the feeling of the fiddle, the closeness and how the sound resonates through. I love trying to find the notes, which I tried for Cluck Old Hen and Amazing Grace (my late mother in law was on my mind). I find that goin' fretless ain't too bad.

We should all fret less, and play more. That's what John Hartford did, and he did alright. Here's a little story and an old tune called Bonaparte's Retreat. I'm sure I'll learn it someday. Some of the parts and phrases will sound slightly familiar to you, as they should. (If you don't know the Copland ballet, think, "Beef: It's what's for dinner.") Of course, this is just one of many hundreds of renditions that have been recorded, not to mention those that may not have been. Maybe yours or mine will be next.

Bonaparte's Retreat