Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Busted, Like Everybody Else

Some days no matter what attitude you adopt, at the end of it, you're still busted.

We started with yet another snow day, which I found to be pretty hard to accept. We got hit with some bad weather in the middle of the night but it seems to me it's gotta be somebody's job to pay attention to that and get on it. On my perfectly uneventful way to work, I passed school buses from a number of neighboring districts carting students off to school. Mine were home with each other and later in the day, a friend, and although things were fine, I was really not. In my district, these kids and their classmates went to school on ONE Monday in all of January and not because of the weather, had a four-day weekend last week, and had two long weekends in October. I'm really tired of that. I'm not sure the value added in whatever the teachers are gaining on the training days is going to be reflected in my kids' education, and I'm not sure I understand why we're teaching our kids that if there's a little snow on the ground, you stay home.

When I was a kid--and I know what you're thinking, but no, I did not have to walk to school both ways although I did ride the bus for an hour -- school being canceled really was a rarity. Drivers threw chains on the wheels and away we went. My elementary education may have been substandard to what kids are getting today, but I don't think I turned out that badly. We almost never had a snow day in high school because our parents took us to school.

But what good has it really done? I walk around in the dark but still have climbing electric bills, I keep turning down the heat but my gas rate still creeps up. Gas, groceries, everything every day is just costing us more and more and more.

But that's not what really set me off. Tonight in an effort to "help" my son set up a load of laundry but overlooked something that was left in the drain sink. The result, as you can imagine, was a sizeable flood in my kitchen and laundry room, a good bit of which I was able to usher out into the garage, and the rest was mopped up by Son of Mando with what clean towels we had. The whole time all I could mutter was, "Well, it's a good thing we didn't want a vacation this year because now we're gonna need a new floor." And I hope that's all we need.

And its just one thing after another and another and another until all I want to do is just close the door behind me and walk into the wilderness. Or, maybe depending on who's doing the laundry, swim.

I'm like a lot of Americans. I'm tired, I'm underpaid, I'm overworked, my kids don't listen, my money's not worth anything, and I'm running out of ideas.

I'm busted.

(Here the Johnny Cash version here, or Tim O'Brien's rendition from Cornbread Nation here.)

(Harlan Howard)

Well the bills are all due and the babies need shoes and I'm busted
Cotton is down to a quarter a pound and I'm busted
Got a cow that went dry got a hen that won't lay
A big stack of bills that gettin bigger each day
The county's gonna haul my belongings away cause I'm busted

I went to my brother to ask for a loan I was busted
I hate to beg like a dog for a bone but I'm busted
Well my brother says there's not a thing I can do
My wife and my kids they're all down with the flu
And I was just thinking about callin' on you cause I'm busted

Well I'm not a thief but a man can go wrong when he's busted
You know the food that we put up last summer is all gone and I'm busted
Well the fields are all bare and the cotton won't grow
And me and my family we gotta pack up and go
But I'll make a livin just where I don't know I'm busted

Got a cow that went dry got a hen that won't lay
A big stack of bills that gettin bigger each day
The county's gonna haul my belongings away cause I'm busted

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Year, New Lineups

Last night my kids and I ventured out to catch Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver at their regular hitchin' post in Wadsworth. As late as we arrived (we all found ourselves stuck on a late-afternoon movie), the OJ Work Auditorium was busy but not nearly as packed as Doyle's shows in the past. It wasn't until partway through the second set, when the band was ribbing departed band member Jamie Dailey, who kicked off a new venture with Darrin Vincent last fall, that it occurred to me whether the new lineup had anything to do with the lighter turnout. My kids and I had perfect seats on the end of the last row in the back of the auditorium main floor, and there were lots of seats in rows ahead of us but less convenient to accommodate a wiggly seven-year-old.

The show was terrific despite the band's recent round of influenza that left several members with bronchitis. Both sets were cough-free and fabulous with the fairly new (except for guitarist Darren Beachley, the entire band had turned over since last October), and fairly young, lineup: Carl White on bass, Joey Cox on banjo, Darren Beachly on high tenor vocals and guitar, Josh Swift on dobro, and Alan Johnson on Fiddle. During the second set there were several acapella gospel numbers that really showed off the talent of this group vocally. Tie it all together with the band's traditional style and signature goofing off and it's a great evening.

The moderate crowd that did turnout enjoyed some of the bands oldies but goodies. The second set opened with this one, one of my favorites, Mis'ry River. It appeared on a number of releases but here's one you might want to pick up. It's a compilation called Cool, Blue, and Lonesome: Bluegrass for the Broken-Hearted. It's got some great tracks from bluegrass music's finest.

If you get a chance to see DLQ during their upcoming travel, you'll be glad you did. And break up your winter with a little live bluegrass music wherever you are. No reason to sail Mis'ry River if you don't have to.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reaching Past Pomp and Circumstances

On my way home tonight I turned on my radio and heard Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance blaring proudly. It struck me as quite funny for two reasons. The first is that I was trying to explain to my kids just last week that Elgar actually wrote some very lovely, if grandiose (notice I did not say "pomp-ous") pieces. The second is that on top of that discussion, our family is embarking on The High School Adventure, Part I.

I learned a little-known fact about Sir Edward Elgar and that famous piece we all endure at most graduations. In 1905, Elgar received an honorary doctorate from Yale, and as he received his colors, an orchestra played Pomp and Circumstance. Other Ivy League schools thought that was pretty cool and so they started using it at their commencement ceremonies. You can pretty much guess the rest of the story. Poor Elgar, who wrote so many really beautiful pieces, will foremost be remembered as that guy who wrote that graduation march. That's probably not how he expected things to turn out.

It's good to remember that sometimes, despite all the planning and the work and the credit hours, things often don't turn out the way we expect, either. We are in the thick of scheduling my son's first year of High School. It's an absolute wonder of a process. When I was in high school, we did not face the rigors of block scheduling, let alone being chased toward a particular career path. I knew I wanted to do something with music; I’ve ended up doing things with musicians and when I can, I play music, so I kind of got it relatively right. But I’ll tell ya, times have changed. Son of Mando is having to negotiate all kinds of advice and forms and expectations.

The process here in our little town has a lot of people worried over the next 24 credits their kids will be amassing. Through all the meetings and the copious materials, I have heard very little discussion of how to help students figure out and then follow what they are passionate about. There have been a few exercises here and there that give the kids some kind of idea to go on but it’s a little like astrology: If I like plants but not people, I might make a good grower. I like to eat and I like to be messy, so perhaps I should be a chef.

And then, there are the parents. We're not even in high school yet, and even I’m guilty of worrying that without a four-year degree my kids will not be able to achieve relative security. But look at me – I have a four-year degree and I have no security. I work hard and I have a lot of passion for what I do, but it pays like crap. On the other hand, look at all those people at JPMorgan Chase with their MBAs, out on the street like somebody dumped a bucket of corn feed. At least I still have a job. So, who's to say what "security" means? And how do I translate its relevance to a 13 year old kid?

I think it really takes guts in our society to stick by what we love. Sure, I’d appreciate more financial stability, but I don’t think that means I should have to be a miserable drone while I'm working. I think if you’re not doing something you can be passionate about, you’re just biding your time. I don't know about you, but I’m not here to bide my time.

That seems to me to be the most important discussion that's not being had.
You can pile up the credits, study your scrawny butt off, make the grade, and still end up being a jerk nobody likes. How do we teach our children to reach beyond all that hoop-jumping, all that garbage, to make the best out of whatever education they get so that they can realize their potential as people and still make a decent living?

When I think of Son of Mando down the road, digging up dinosaur bones, designing heat shields for some future shuttle, discovering new galaxies, or dispensing vaccinations in some third-world countries, I only hope that his heart is in it as much as say, Doc Watson’s heart has been in playing guitar, or Miles Davis’ heart was in honking that horn, or John Glenn’s heart was in being a really great astronaut. I want him to know somehow that as long as he is doing his best and following his path, he's doing ok. I love and will support him for whomever he is. This is a gift my own mother gave me and I will never be able to thank her enough. She recognized where my heart and my talents were, and gave me the framework to move forward. She never once sat me down and said, "I want you to get a 90% this quarter in math and a 95% in social studies, OK?" It's not that she didn't care; she just cared about the right things, and let me take care of the rest.

So over the next few weeks, and years, I'm going to take the Elgar approach. Elgar certainly worked hard, he was a very fine composer, he studied diligently. I doubt his father sat him down and demanded that young Edward cough up an 89 or better in social science. While it's important to teach our children to reach, we have to teach them also how to grow into themselves with a modicum of confidence and grace. We have to love them and give them guidance that allows them to become fully capable yet comfortable in the direction they are headed, even, and especially if, it's not the direction we might choose for them (or ourselves). We have to allow them to discover their strengths and yes -- shudder -- their weaknesses, and learn to manage them.

I stumbled across this terrific New Grass Revival tune while doing something I never thought I'd be doing -- it popped into my ear while I was working out. It's a great tune for proper goal setting -- it's about finding the flame inside, and making that, not other people's opinions of you, the basis of your success. I hope I can help my son and daughter each find that flame, protect it, and grow it into a fire.

When the habits of a lifetime
Become a painful cage
You want to break out
But you don't know how to change
You may have a vision
Or you may have a friend
Who will come to you
And say these same words again

You got to reach a little bit higher
When the light within becomes a fire
Whoa-oh, you got to grow
You got to reach a little bit higher
To get a hold on all you desire
Stretch your soul
And you'll never grow old


For complete lyrics, visit http://www.rhapsody.com/newgrassrevival/live/reach/lyrics.html.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Music for Real Time

Lesson learned after a long day travelling up and down I-71 for a two-hour client meeting in Cincinnati: Bluegrass is really good workout music.

Here's an excellent example from that excellent crew, Mountain Heart. One of the band's last performances together in this configuration (with Mountain Mando Heart Man Adam Steffey) was on my birthday, and I got to enjoy it from the front row at The Kent Stage.

Take this one on your next run, swim, walk, hike, or weight routine.
From the 2002 release, No Other Way

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bluegrass is an Enterprise and the Work is Never Done

Sometimes I forget that part of what drives me is just not what drives everybody else.

I grew up in a family enterprise, and work for one now. Sometimes I forget that this is as much a part of where I come from and who I am as anything else. The arts is an extension of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Yesterday again, like so many times before, I heard a former university music professor turned orchestra exec say how he would add to the young musician-student's diet less organum, and more financial management. Because like the people who came before me and the people I work with now, and frankly myself, musicians are entrepreneurs. Bluegrass is often a family enterprise.

Bluegrass has never grown much past its roots. Perhaps that's because it' still a relatively young genre not too far behind Rock n Roll. But all bluegrass musicians are entrepreneurs. Most musicians of any kind are in fact entrepreneurs. The idea that still anchors me to "institutional" settings like colleges or performing arts centers or festivals is the belief that these larger organizations can help sustain and swell support for musicians and the music that we love.

Being in a small enterprise whether on your own or with a group is really hard work. Now, folks who work for big companies, manufacturers, hospitals, law firms, banks -- those people work hard and they do jobs that the rest of us need to be done. I'll never be like those folks, a footsoldier of the economy doing my 9 to 5 thing and coming home to my whatever. And I think there's some misguided perception that what I do is easier than that.

But when you're the one putting the bread on the table, you don't really stop. So it helps to love what you do. And when you are in service of arts and cultural organizations, they don't necessarily stop at 5 either; in fact, they almost never do, and finding people who like that sort of thing is part of my work. Moreover, the organizations we serve are the organizations my children and I support and enjoy on a regular basis. The contribution may seem small to some, or easy to others. But if you really knew what goes into it, you would scratch your head and wonder what's kept me out of the loony bin or running for the sweet cover of the Ivory Tower.

That's not to say I won't someday. But being the director of, say the cultural arts program of an institution still requires a sort of independent contributor who can line up artists, cut deals, negotiate with inside support. It's still quite entrepreneurial, if a little safer.

Musicians, like some of those I've met recently, set up their own gigs whether it's a night at the Happy Dog Cafe or a chamber recital. In Orchestras, you're not necessarily any safer. You are the commodity, whether it's a classics concert, a Podcast, a Video snippet on the Web--the latter two, the likes of which were unheard of in the George Szell era, catching everyone off guard. And so even in the orchestra world we have sometimes contentious labor negotiations. One of the more notorious situations was concluded a couple weeks ago. Yesterday, the CEO quit.

Art, music, dance, theatre -- these are experiences that are valued less and less in our society, in our American society. There is plenty of entrepreneurship in these, with smaller galleries, smaller theatre and dance groups and chamber ensembles popping up. How will they stay in business? It's harder for independent musicians, too, to get a leg up. That terrific Andy Carlson band I told you about? Has IBMA ever given them space on the showcase? Would you believe, no? I have listened to their terrific album now several times. I can't figure out why. I hesitate to suggest they might not be bluegrassy enough -- but that smacks of suggesting they're too sophisticated, which wouldn't be nice.

Still, they keep going. If you were born to play music you keep going because you don't know any other way. And all those people with the 9 to 5 jobs come to hear you because you make them smile and sing and tap their toes and forget about being owned by corporate warlords for a while. You don't know how to be any other way. It may not be lucrative and it may just be more work than anyone else is doing. But it works for you.

And mostly, although sometimes I miss the relatively copious vacation or cushier benefits that came with working in a larger organization, it works for me.

To all those bluegrass musicians famous and no so famous yet, thank you for doing what I know you love to do. Thanks for sustaining and growing a good old American brand of music, thanks for turning kids on to acoustic string instruments, thanks for providing an alternative to everything produced by the big radio and recording monopoly so that us freethinking music loving people have a choice. YOU are my valentines!

The Cox Family is one of bluegrass music's more traditional bands. Here's a Valentine sort of tune, a few days late. It's called "Everybody's Reaching Out For Someone" and it's a lovely sampling of their beautiful harmony singing. Enjoy -- I'm reaching out for my keys to go with friends to hear some live music and hope you'll do the same this weekend, too!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dear Bluegrass Diary

That's sort of what this blog has become, and frankly, I ain't too proud of it.

In going back over some old blogs for fun (and to remind myself that, nah, he deserved it) I realized how far away things have gotten from the music. I keep pledging to turn it around but some days it's not easy. Some days, I have to explain to my kids why being an ass is no way to impress people or make or keep friends. A lot of days are spent painfully choosing the high road. The working out is probably a good thing because Lawd, the way it is steep. Give me strength.

I did hear that Jim Lauderdale, whose songs and singing I adore, won another Grammy, this time for his album, The Bluegrass Diaries. There's not a song I've enjoyed of his that I didn't wish I'd written or recorded myself. He's such a joy to experience in concert, too. A quiet, strong command.

Here's to Jim and working long years to make a dream come true, and having fun all the while. That's a model worth following. It's such a long journey, to get it right, to leave the crap at the side of the road, to not hug the porcupine or bite the hook. At some point you realize all you get is a poke in the finger or a hole in the roof of your mouth, and that just slows you down.

Enjoy a toe-tapper from Lauderdale's 2008 grammy score. It's appropriate fodder for "throwing in reverse" some old habits, and it's called "This Is The Last Time (I'm Ever Gonna Hurt)."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

All In Stride

Today was really a pretty perfect winter day. For one thing, it wasn't very wintry. It was warm enough to be out and about moving around early, and stayed pretty nice the entire day. We were very busy but it didn't feel exhausting as it usually does. It was sort of a day taken in stride.

The focus on the middle of the day was my daughter's last ski lesson. While she was on the slopes -- having acquired the highest level of difficulty for her class, Black Diamond -- I spent some time with my son going over the things he'd been doing at school to prepare for selecting his first semester of high school. The methodology involved is really something more akin to college scheduling than anything I ever experienced in high school. However the fact that he can take Latin and Sociology, two areas of study mastered by any archeologist worth his salt, bodes him well. And he seems unfazed by the process.

My daughter finished her lessons beautifully. She really is a natural on the slopes. To celebrate and to take advantage of a girls-only evening (my son was spending the night at a friend's who is celebrating a birthday), we designed a sort of "sleepover" for ourselves. We determined that this would be a good occasion for a homemade pizza, so we acquired the ingredients early in the day. We crafted the dough from scratch, and it was a beautiful thing to see rising. We covered it with all kinds of lovely things -- special black olives, sundried tomatoes, some mushrooms I sauteed, some roasted red peppers, and of course a LOT of cheese. And as we prepared to move it to the baking stone in a sweltering 450 degree oven, we encountered severe technical difficulty. Since we didn't have the right board on which to prepare the pizza, this great thing of beauty had stuck to the surface on which it had been prepared and rather flopped on to a very hot stone, beginning to bake almost on contact. It was quite a conundrum. But we managed through this very messy moment -- our beautiful dough now had great holes in it, and through them fell cheese and olives and other ingredients that immediately set to cooking, and yet the dough was so copious that had we done it on the proper surface it still would have been too big for the stone. Nonetheless we ended up with one of the most delicious pizzas we've ever tasted, ever.

Sometimes it's best just to take it all in stride.

Since it's already Lent, and nearly Valentine's Day, which brings us ever closer to St. Patrick's Day, I'm throwing your way this wicked good number from Solas. It's called The Stride Set and it's from their release, The Words That Remain. It's a kind of "just keep going" collection of reels and such, perfect for renegotiating a flopped over pizza or just about anything else that throws a challenge your way.

Better get back to my sleepover while my powder hound kid still thinks it's fun to hang out with me. I'm a goofy mom but the kids have learned to take it in stride.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Little Bluegrass Engine That Could

It's been a couple days of recouperation and redirection. The experience on Saturday in Granville was not only truly fun and badly needed, but it also helped me jumpstart Month 2 in The Best Year Yet. I had decided last year that 42 was going to be a good year, and so far it has been.

As I went about the usual suspects on my to-do list this evening, it occurred to me why I think that is. Even though I've managed through some challenges in my life, my prevailing attitude often had been that "I can't." This was the result of any number of experiences to be sure. But more and more I feel the grip of this self-defeating world view losing strength.

While I'm not suggesting that one day I bounced out of bed and proclaimed, "I CAN!", I am seeing the world a little differently, a little at a time. The slightest shift in perspective and value can make a huge difference. I am not an athlete but I can challenge myself physically and become a stronger person. I can develop more endurance, eat better, sleep better -- and yet sleep a little less. I can swim right past the hook. I can listen to Vivaldi and then play bluegrass. I can work more effectively -- and more creatively. I can take better care of myself overall because my kids need me. I can live without ever seeing Vegas. I can train myself to sit and chop on my mando for 20 minutes without making any music, just to improve the chop. I can always use less resources. I can let things drop and life goes on. I can learn to ski, although as my son told a neighbor, it might take me a couple years. I can make a contribution wherever I decide to be. I can be loved for my brain as much as the rest of me. And I can teach my children that it's ok to be smart, funny, creative, and different, because they are, and most people love them that way. And I can teach them that it's ok not to worry about the people who don't see them for who they are, because someone wonderful always will.

So it seems this year is about learning and unlearning. Doing where I thought I couldn't, and not doing where I thought I should. These are different roads for me, and seldom seen...but not too long.

Different Roads
The Seldom Scene
(I'm sorry, but, I love this band. Don't you love the Seldom Scene? Who sings like that anymore? WHO? Ok, maybe Randy Waller, and, well -- nope, that's it.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Day In Gran-nash-ville

Yesterday I set out for a sort of homecoming, except that I was about to experience my alma mater in a totally different yet full circle kind of way. For several years now, Denison violin instructor Andy Carlson has organized a bluegrass festival on campus. This is the first year I've been able to make it down, and now I gotta wonder what I've been missing.

First of all, Dr. Carlson is actually a master fiddler from Georgia. I don't know how Denison found him or how they managed to keep him, but he is a treasure. The blend of hearing him talk about the essentials of musicianship and then hear him play an absolute barn-burner was total brain-candy.

The weekend actually began on Friday with a performance of some of Andy's suzuki students, followed by The Andy Carlson Band with special Guest, Bobby Hicks, who played with Bill Monroe's band starting in about 1954. After a series of workshops on Saturday, the community was treated to a solo performance by guitar legend David Grier followed by the Steeldrivers. I have never seen Burke Recital Hall packed like that, for anything. My friends and I sat the entire time on the floor, but we loved it.

I arrived Saturday just in time for the start of the mando workshop, held in old Burke rehearsal room. Since I got there so late, I didn't have time for a flashback to days pacing the room pre recital or piano jury, or adjusting the rather noxious tour attire that was part of any Denison Singers tour. I unzipped the case, checked to see that the mando was not badly out of tune, and grabbed a chair.

The Mando workshop was conducted by Andy Carlson Band mandolin man Michael Smith. I actually learned a few things and did not panic playing in a group. Mike is quite a talent and a durn good instructor, and it was really nice to see so many folks there, including a number of students! A young man sat down next to me with a lovely center-hole mando. I asked him if he was a Denison student; he said he was and was a music minor. I said, "Hey! So was I. Twenty years ago." We thought it was pretty cool. Of course, I didn't tell him that 20 years ago there wouldl have been no such acoustic activity at Denison. I do hope Lee Bostian and Elliot Borishansky are not rolling over in their graves, although I suspect both of them would have been delighted by the upsurge in music students taking on traditional instruments like these kids were. It made me miss them to think how surprised they might have been to see me sitting there with a deer in the headlights look.

Sandwiched on both end by music was a badly needed day with friends from the area. As I gathered up myt things I was greeted with a surprise early hello hug by my longtime friend and one of the first people I met at Denison, Leotaprof. I spent the afternoon catching up with Mr. and Mrs. Shameless and a couple of my favorite teenagers, along with Mr. and Mrs. Ipsissimus (Mr. Ips has just released his debut recording called Cake. More on that soon!) Later I headed over to Leotaprof's for dinner with Dr. Leoprof and their adorable, clever, and delightfully inventive boys before she and I headed over to Granville's WINE BAR -- yes, there is a wine bar, Nona's, in Granville -- for a glass with the Ipsissimus Two and a walk to Burke Recital Hall for the concert.

First, David Grier. What can I say? I think it was a bit of an unusual venue for both these bands. Burke is a "sit quietly and listen" kind of place, and the space is pretty durn intimate. But it was packed. I thought we'd arrive to a half-full house and crickets chirping. Instead, people were seated AROUND THE LOBBY. I still can't get over it. I can't believe I forgot my camera, because no one would believe it. Fortunately I have Ipsissimus and Leotaprof to prove it and of course along with Andy Carlson who gets credit for making this whole thing go.

Oh, ok, back to Grammy winner David Grier. EXQUISITE, even with the glass-eye joke. His playing is like buttah, his self-effacing demeanor making the experience a little different. Dave's father was a Bluegrass Boy in the 1960s so when Dave when to school he thought it was natural to ask the other boys, "So what does your dad play?" Check out his Web site and the recordings in the Media section.

On to the Steeldrivers. It was award-winning Steeldrivers banjo player Richard Bailey who suggested to Andy that he invite Richard's new band to the festival. Great idea! We were all captivated by this unique Nashville band, with the intense bluesy vocals of songwriter Chris Stapleton. The only drawback was how short the set was. Even sitting on the floor we all coulda enjoyed a bit more.

The surprise of the night, for me, was what happened at Brew's afterward. Mr. Leotaprof had scored a pretty awesome table upstairs where we enjoyed a fired-up set by The Andy Carlson Band. This is a seriously talented, take-no-prisoners bluegrass band as good as any I have ever heard on the IBMA Mainstage. The band is Andy on fiddle, Michael Smith on mandolin, Greg Earnest on banjo, Casey Cook on guitar, and Keith Morris on bass. Do these guys from Georgia really know how good they are? I'm not sure.

Despite the protestations of my friends I headed home, my head full of music and my heart full of amazement that this is the same Denison that popped me out newly formed twenty years ago. I loved my experience there, and the time I spent in the music department working on my minor was probably more important than the work I did in my major area of study. I would never trade that experience for anything, but if I had had the opportunity to fall in love with bluegrass a little sooner, under the tutelage of a PhD who happens also to be a master fiddler from Georgia, well, it might not have taken me twenty years to figure out what really matters to me musically. But it's never too late, and it was so heartening to see this happening at Denison. The crowd at Brew's was filled with students who had their instruments in tow, young men and women who will someday leave that blessed place and take their own "Downhiller" experience with them forever.

Needless to say, the whole thing caught me like a Deer in the Headlights, which is the title of this track from the Andy Carlson Band release, log-a-rhythm (ha! So professorial, and considering my X was a math/comp sci major, fairly ironic). Check out all the tracks at CD baby. I can't wait for mine to arrive, and even more, I can't wait for next year.

Congratulations, Dr. Carlson, and thanks for an amazing day of music and memories. This old lady thanks you from the bottom of her heart for bringing Bluegrass to Denison.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle--But For Good Reason

This week was a pretty big deal for my ex's family. His brother and sister in law gave birth to one of the most beautiful baby girls the world has ever seen.

What's the big deal? It's not big so much as nearly miraculous. It was not an easy road. My BIL nearly missed the turnoff altogether. Luckily he took a detour that brought him this amazing little person and someone just as amazing with whom he can raise her.

This momentous occasion brought full circle a year that was really difficult for that family. Just under a year ago they lost both a mother and grandmother. Who knew that in such a short time this little bright light would come along and bring so much hope.

I'm deeply, deeply happy for them. For the first time in a while I am reminded how powerful love is, and that regardless of what is said or done or believed or presumed, the love I feel for my brother in law, who sat cradling my own new daughter in his arms only seven short years ago, and his new life, is real. This is the accomplishment of his lifetime and he and the missus deserve all the love that can be rained down on them and their new bundle of amazement.

Baby Bee's birth starts a new circle, one full of hope and sadness and tears and joy and all the rich things of life. My heart is just full for them, full of happiness and gratitude that they've got this wonderful ride to look forward to. No better song to celebrate new parents and the ferocious and poignant eternal love a baby evokes than Joni Mitchell's Circle Game.

All my love to the delightfully sleepless family in the great Pacific Northwest.

The Circle Game