Friday, January 11, 2019

New Math

You have 9 rehearsals scheduled, an hour commute, a lengthy date with a copy machine, a class to teach, another hour commute, 4 lessons, 3 hours of music to prepare for competition and a finicky printer that absolutely must complete a major print job tonight, how do you bend time and space to  take a shower and achieve more than 4 hours of sleep?

You desire to be excessively organized in the morning, so you start hunting down wardrobe options.  If both of your feet exist in close proximity to each other, particularly when removing any shoes, why is it that you can only find one black flat, one black boot and one slipper, but 4 complete pairs of crocs?

Your cat ignores you the entire evening but hogs every inch of bed 5 minutes before you get there.  How much time do you waste trying to solve this problem before deciding you guess can carve out a tiny spot on the edge of the bed?

You wish to be news-savvy but emotionally healthy.  How many baby goats in pajama videos will it take to counteract Twitter?

You should practice for Solo & Ensemble but realize the quality of any instrument you play on will be Saloon grade 5 or worse.  Calculate the importance of being professional musician, factoring in time spent numbering measures, chatting up the other accompanists, reassuring panicky singers, and checking for scores.  Divide by the number of keys and pedals that do not work.  Solve for X, and with the remainder, buy a walking taco.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


Write a letter
Color a picture
Read a book
Take a nap
Pet the cat
Pet the other cat
Do the dishes
Play a game
Delete old emails
Delete new emails
Think of all the things you have to do
Think of all the same things you'll have to do tomorrow
Check in on friends
Fall down the Youtube rabbit hole
Don't update iTunes. Again.
Have a lovely dinner
Wrap up in a warm blanket
Check email but don't actually read anything
Ask Alexa about the weather
Set an alarm
Set two alarms
Do a crossword puzzle
Do two crossword puzzles
Plan how to stop time and space so you can get everything done tomorrow
Start to rationalize an early bedtime
See that it's after 11 and early is gone.
Construct mental arguments for a bedtime before midnight
Win that argument.

Just don't turn on the damn TV.
Don't read the comments
Stay away from political time-sucks and emotional landmines
Twitter will wait
So will Facebook
The battle will still be raging in the morning, so

Actively look for good news
celebrate the successes of others
hold up those who hurt.
Live and love without fear.
Count your blessings, even if you have to fudge the numbers.
Vow to do the same tomorrow.
Drown out the noise of the world with every song you know,
Sing them all. Loudly.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

How Can I Keep From Singing

My life flows on in endless song
There is a song for every occasion
For every emotion
For every purpose
How often is time spent searching
for the just-right ever-changing song

Above earth’s lamentation
Sometimes above
but sometimes in concert with.
Angry, misunderstood, dissonant chords
of suffering, loss, and grief

I hear the sweet though far off hymn
In times of doubt, faith tells me it must be there
In the dark night hours hope comforts me
When the noise is overwhelming,
the melody nearly imperceptible
and the harmony hopelessly obscured
It is there even when I am unable to hear

That hails a new creation
But music returns
In a silent sunrise
a soft rain
a clean, blank page
a baby's cry
a full, fresh breath
a new day

Through all the tumult and the strife
Where there was surely a beginning,
in this singular word
This "through"
we know there is an ending
Through the tumult and strife
Not In, not amid,
Not mired in, or forever trapped

I hear the music ringing
Always, always, always there
Ringing is resonance
Resonance is life

It finds an echo in my soul
Empathetic vibrations
Received and resounding
Some left in the heart
but even more to share
To resonate
To live on
To find an echo in another soul
And another and another
To hear the music ringing
Through Through Through all the tumult and strife
Sweet hymns hailing a new creation
Above earth's lamentation
Life flows on in endless song
In concert with those who sing on earth
and those whose song forever echoes

How can I keep from singing

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Onward and Upward

This is a fairly accurate representation of the survival mode I've been in for the past two years.  The problem is, I'm much more a brain person in this scenario than a heart person.  I really wish it were the other way around, and I had the strength to ignore every last scrap of the news that runs rampant in our 24/7 news cycle.  Intellectually, I know it is healthier to step away. But when I even consider it, there's a tug that seems to say if you step away for a moment, something newsy might happen.  To miss it is to be unaware, and to be unaware is to contribute to what got us in this mess to begin with.

But then on special days like today, in the midst of scrolling for the next news hit, you see a picture like this one.  And underneath the crushing sense of despair, the tiniest feeling of hope creeps in, and maybe, without even realizing it, you can breathe again.  This day is so very special because for the first time, so many more of those who represent us look like the us they represent.  Godspeed 116th Congress.  Do great things.  We are all counting on you.

The Parenthesis of Time

Image result for michigan state university winter night

This is my favorite time on campus.

The students are still gone,
enjoying the last few days of vacation.
Gathering strength through home-cooked meals
and time spent with friends and family,
they fill their souls with new stories, cherished memories and smiles,
enough to propel them into the new semester with a renewed sense of purpose.

Some students remain.
For them, home is too far away, or maybe isn't really a home.
Maybe there is a job, or another commitment, or no real reason to leave.
I hope this time gives them what they need in whatever form it might come.

It's so peaceful right now
in this empty or nearly-so campus.
As I leave the building with the sun long-since set,
A light dusting of snow has coated everything.
Settling in on trees and bushes, buildings and statues,
and gardens long since surrendered to their winter sleep.

In this still, sacred moment,
This parenthesis of time,
before everything begins again,
before the runners take their mark,
before the next downbeat,
I stand for a moment in the stillness of a cold January evening
marveling at the magnificence of this silent, unassuming beauty
and cherishing every second.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

One Day More

So here we are.

There is a new calendar with a new year and lots of fresh new pictures.
Social media is full of family pictures and inspirational memes.
The overwhelming feeling today is one of gratitude and optimism,
and I have to admit, I'm right here too
Organizing my house, making lists,
and posting words of encouragement, love, and gratitude.
But the question is -- how long?

How long can I feel grateful?
How long can I read words of inspiration with an open heart and not with rolling eyes?
How long can I sustain a sense of optimism in the face of life, work, obligations,
and well....just everything?

Because I know the day will come when exhaustion will win,
when beautiful pictures of beautiful people in beautiful places will lead me to annoyance,
and when the minutiae of the day-to-day brings no joy.
When I bring no joy.
When I feel no joy.
When the feeling of being overwhelmed is both paralyzing and suffocating.

I know that day will come will come for me.
I think it comes for everyone.

My goal and my hope (NOT my resolution) is to spend one day more
in the hope and joy that the new year brings.
And when I'm feeling like the day has come that will break the streak,
I'll admit to feeling less-than, and know that it's OK.
Maybe you'll still be in that zone of gratitude, optimism and joy,
and you'll have some to share.
I promise I'll do the same for you.

My hope for 2019 --
And more love and joy.

One day more.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The season for the reason

It's the first day of November.

Half of my Facebook page is screaming for joy declaring it's Christmas.
It is not.

Half of my Facebook page is still posting trick-or-treat pictures from Halloween.
It is not.

What it is is the first day of November, which means NaNoWriMo for aspiring authors.
I am not.

So I spent all of about five minutes trying to find out if the November-blog-writing-thing was still a thing.
I still don't know, and I am too lazy to look any further.

Therefore and hence, I'm going to pretend like it is, and make up the rules as I go along.  I'm also not posting any of this to Facebook, so when I inevitably stop posting in about three or four days, I'll feel less guilty about disappointing the handful of readers that mistakenly stumble by.

Welcome November.
This is me, mostly just talking to myself
without benefit of rules and prompts.
But seeing as it's the season of Thanksgiving
and I could do with some happiness in this fractured world,
I'm going to go with every cliche I can think of. 

Good News

I need a reason to show up, so let's see if this works.
Wish me luck, I'm going in.

Saturday, December 02, 2017


What an amazing day.

After two months of incredibly hard work and dedication, it all came down to today.  Nobody knew how it would turn out.  Sure, we speculated, but when it comes to the day, you never really know, do you?  Would the dedicated athlete turn up -- game face on -- ready to meet the challenge?  Would the preparation prove enough?  Had we gone over all the scenarios?  Who would come out victorious?

It's difficult for those who are only spectators to know what it takes to succeed.  The commitment of  time and energy.  The lonely practice sessions, drilling the same things over and over again.  An armchair quarterback may understand in theory the necessary sacrifices, but nobody truly knows unless they have walked that mile, made the hard choices, and put in the work.  It might not be glamorous (and face it, it's not), but it's oh so necessary.

When you came out today in your dazzling uniforms, your pride showed.  You walked proudly to your formation.  And then it was GAME ON.

We were excited, and at the biggest moments we couldn't help but cheer.  And you?  You executed perfectly.  It looked easy (and that's what practice will do for you...make things look easy), but we all know otherwise.  And when it was all over, the score told the story.  You set a goal and you achieved it.  Every single one of you.  What an amazing team.  What an amazing accomplishment. What an amazing day.

Not this team.

THIS team.
Regional Honors Choir 2017
14 Singers. 14 Successful Auditions
Enjoy your achievements today
Tomorrow we start the work all over again.
You are amazing and inspiring musical athletes.
Onward to 
State Honors Choir 2018

Friday, December 01, 2017


If it's December 1st, it must be time for an apology.

Sorry I haven't written much.  Sorry I've been gone.  Sorry the cute stories are fewer and farrer betweener.  Sorry I'm tired.  Sorry I don't feel funny.  Sorry the weather is cold.  Sorry the weather is warm.  Sorry it's been a bad year.  Sorry our country is falling apart.  Sorry people only seem to be able to yell and not discuss.  Sorry the roads are bad.  Sorry I didn't go shopping on Black Friday.  Sorry the house is a mess.  Sorry it's so late.  Sorry there is no list.  Sorry I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet.  Sorry people can't spell.  Sorry I'm not going to cut and paste and post the thing about the thing so people know that I care about the thing.  Sorry I haven't volunteered enough.  Sorry I don't have a Christmas tree yet.  Sorry I can't be there.  Sorry I took the last parking spot.  Sorry cat, you don't get my supper.  Sorry I don't usually turn my heat up very much.  Sorry you don't like that song.  Sorry I can't.  Sorry I won't.  Sorry I didn't. Sorry I did.

For the past several years my opening post for Holidailies has been some sort of general apology litany for things done and left undone.  Unsurprisingly, nothing has changed much over the past 12 months, so here we are again, ready for another go-round.  Help yourself to any apologies you like listed above, and then sit down, kick your shoes off and let's have a chat. 

I'm glad you're here.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Las Vegas, 2017

No soothing poems

No memes with sunrises, rainbows, or clasped hands
No trite sayings
What good do they do?

"Sending thoughts and prayers" is a band-aid.
Once affixed, the healer moves on
assuming life is mended but forgetful of the hurt.
But little by little air and dirt and life burrow beneath its protection
and it loses it's grip.
Falling away unnoticed.
Leaving the wound exposed and vulnerable to be hurt again.

Write your poems with action.
Shout.  March.
Tell the world again and again and again
"no more"

Take your own pictures but tell a story with honesty.
Sunrises and rainbows have their place
But there is hurt and horror in this world.

We cannot fix what we do not acknowledge,
and it will require more than a stock photo, a colorful ribbon,
a snippet of philosophy, a bible verse, or a tear-stained face.
We need to have long, meaningful, difficult conversations
We need to do something better now
so we can be something better later.

Before all that's left is air and dirt.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Power of Punctuation

From my neighbors to the north.
This is huge!
I have no words!
Counting the days!

From my neighbors to the north.
This is huge.
I have no words.
Counting the days.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Nightmare Before Christmas. Opus 2

Twas a night in December, and all through the house
no musicians were present (can't speak for the mouse).
The dress blacks were gone, no cuff links were there.
You'd have thought we'd been chased out, then eaten by bears.

Other folk were nestled all snug in their beds, 
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
We had no concert kerchiefs. No symphonic caps.
Musicians know nothing 'bout long winter's naps.

For ever December our lives seemed to shatter,
It's always the same. The year doesn't matter.
In dreams, to each concert I flew like a flash,
and hoped I had music -- there was a large stash.

Each night a new program and music, and so
I hoped and I prayed they were pieces I'd know.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a hundred new scores that all filled me with fear.

"Now high notes! Now low notes!
Now, difficult diction!
On codas!  Cadenzas!
Now sing with conviction!
To the top of the scale,
To the back of the hall!
Now sing louder, Sing louder, 
Sing louder all!

As dry throats that before the wild holidays fly,
they wiped out our mid-range.   We started to cry.
so up to the drugstore our old Chevy flew,
with a handful of cash, and three-fourths of our crew.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the preening and boasting of basses who goof
As I channeled my dread and was turning around,
a million sopranos shrieked out, "Homeward Bound".

One was dressed all in fur, from her head to her foot,
and her clothes were expensive.  On credit cards put.  
She had a poor flunky, a spine he did lack,
and paid for it dearly when notes he did crack.

Her eyes, they were wicked.  Her manners, not merry.
Her cheeks burned like lava, her nose in the air-y.
Her red lipsticked mouth was drawn up like a bow
that had want of an arrow for fierceness to show.
The heads of her foes she held tight in her teeth,
and the hairspray encircled her head like a wreath.
She had a thin face, and a much thinner belly,
or so you should say, lest she claim you were smelly.

She was bossy and mean, a right nasty old elf,
and I knew to steer clear, to protect my tired self.
A twitch of her eye, and a twist of her head
meant "shut up right now, or else you'll be dead."

She spoke not a word, but sang every work
and stole all the solos, like a really huge jerk.
Then, slaying an alto and several maestros,
she finally finished and struck quite a pose.

She bowed ninety times, and the crowd gave a whistle,
but no one could leave. There was not a dismissal.
But I heard her exclaim, 'ere she hogged the limelight,
"You all come back now for The Queen of the Night!"

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Check, Please

This popped up today on my Facebook "memories" page.  Normally I skip all the memory stuff, but today I happened to scroll through and as soon as I saw this picture I practically screamed YES. My daughter's response when I posted this last year was: We should check.  We should check right now. Truer words were never spoken. A year later?  We should still check.  Tomorrow?  We should still check.  We should check right now.

The beach seems to be a place where I can consider my life: past, present and future.  It invites me to sit, slow down and just be.  If I'm not ready, the ocean quietly yet insistently asks me to reconsider.  Again and again and again, with each breaking wave, it wears me down, convincing me to breathe in peace and breathe out the toxicity of everyday life.  

Once in sync with my surroundings, I dig my feet into the sand and will my toes to be strong enough to root my body and soul to this tenuous spot.  But no matter how hard I try, I know my time at the beach is temporary, so it's important that I cherish every second in this special place.

With no distractions but sand and waves, I notice everything:  Dolphins playing in the ocean, ghost crabs scuttling on the shore, and seagulls gliding over the ever-shifting dividing line between land and sea, searching for that next snack.  I'm a stranger in their home, and yet they accept me without second thought. A lone kite flying over the dunes seems to say, "There's always room for one more."  I'm so grateful for that.

The power of the ocean lies just beneath the intoxicating beauty of the surface.  It takes very little to be reminded how how weak and insignificant we are.  The ocean teaches us to remain aware and never turn our backs to danger.  It reminds us that sometimes it's better to duck and let the fury pass over you.  Approach with caution, and respect your surroundings.

The answer may not be at the beach, 
but peace, appreciation, acceptance, and respect are there.

These might be all the tools we need.

I think we should go check.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
It's always ourselves we find at the sea.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Beyond the Ledger Lines

Dear Melanie,

In two weeks, it will be graduation day.  And what a ride it's been.

It’s been four and a half years of everything college has to offer.  From dorms and cafeterias to apartments and roommates.   From late-night study sessions to Halloween craziness.  From tears and broken hearts to joys and wild successes.  You’ve seen it all, and come through on the other side, not just intact, but better.

Over these years you have grown, and you’ve learned how to navigate university red tape, apartment leases, and dealing with roommates, colleagues and professors.  Although there is no formal class, you have earned a great many credits in adulting.  And yes, although it’s not a real word, it is a way of living that, as unglamorous as it sometimes is, you do with more skill, less hesitation, and definitely less fear.  Be aware that this is a life-long course.  There will always be things you don’t know, but there are others who do.  Never be afraid to seek them out and ask. 

Your graduation regalia includes the pink tassel, representing the academic discipline, music.  I know it’s not your favorite color, but wear it proudly.  It represents the hard work, fierce dedication, and well-deserved accomplishments you've gained in the field you love absolutely and unconditionally. Hold onto that love and remember how far you've come, because, as you well know, this isn't an easy road.

You will find yourself explaining your choices and defending your career path.  There will be inane professional questions: Why that dress? Why those shoes?  Why is your hair up instead of down?  Why is your hair down instead of up? Why that aria?  Why that teacher?  Why that school?   There will be dismissive questions along the lines of, "but WHAT can you do with a music degree?"  People will tease you and make little jokes and then say they're just kidding.  But those little jabs hurt, and quickly become tiresome.  Be prepared for punchline where you ask people if they'd like fries.  It's as unfunny as the trope those who can, do, and those who cannot, teach and the extraordinarily wearisome it's not over until the fat lady sings.  The temptation will be to counterattack, but don't bother.  

Instead, live the life you know you are meant to live.  For many people, music is a hobby.  For you, music is an integral part of who you are.  Never apologize for that and never feel that this thing that brings you so much happiness is any less worthy of a degree than business or medicine or science.

We live in a world that is insistent on measuring things and calculating their worth.  We itemize, prioritize, and make action plans based on the bottom line of a ledger sheet.  Dollar signs are the universal language of the world, and money not only speaks, it also makes decisions for us.  But music doesn't work that way.  Yes, musicians like to make a living like everyone else, but it isn't the primary reason we are called to this field.  You've been told by some very important people, "we don't pick music, music picks us," and it's true.  We are musicians because for us, it is as important as food, air, and water.  It's how we express ourselves and how we communicate with others.  It's our tool for bringing people together.  In music, we share an experience, tell a story, encourage imagination, memory, and empathy, bring hope, joy and comfort, and ultimately, through this shared experience, strengthen our sense of community.

So, don't be bound by the ledger lines.  Listen to that still small voice.  It has served you well for all these years, and I have every faith that you will continue to make decisions and follow a path that speaks to you and what you value the most.  Everyone knows the saying, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  But as you look ahead to what comes next, maybe you should flip the script and remember: Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Happy Holidailies

It had been so long, I forgot the URL.
I was surprised to discover I had changed it to a "dot net" address.
I'd like to think I remember doing that, but I really don't.

It had been so long, the domain name expired.
Just yesterday, but still.
I found the email where they asked me to renew it, but I hadn't even opened it.
It was buried, with everything else unread.

I scrolled through my entries that have gotten drastically thinner over the years.
With today's entry, my count for 2016 will be..... one.
It won't take much to beat all of 2015 which topped out at a whopping 5.
I'm a far cry from the 660 posts in 2007 or the 932 posts in 2004.
Did I have that much to say then?  Why don't I now?

It's easier when kids are small.
When the days are filled with stories and adventures,
and it's fun to retell the darndest things that have been said,
that become both family legend and blogging fodder.
Still, time marches on, and rightly so.  Things aren't supposed to be the same forever.
But December 1, 2016 is a world away from September 21, 2003, when this all began.

I no longer mark the years by lost teeth or school dances,
and while (at least in my family) there are always darndest things being said,
they are much more adult in nature.  Some funny.  Some serious. Some devastatingly sad.
And as I sit today to write a post, I'm still very aware of one thing:
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Maintaining a balance between public story telling and private life living
is something I take very seriously.

So here we are nearing the end of the year.
It hasn't been kind to a lot of people.
The world is louder than ever.  Angrier too.
I don't want to add to the noise, but I don't want to be silent.
And now, maybe more than ever (and maybe this is just for my sanity)
I have to remember and acknowledge and say out loud:
There are good things.
There are good people.

Thank you, Holidailies.
Even on the first day of December in the last month of 2016
when uncertainty seems to be the only thing I can count on,
You're there to remind me that my words don't need to be noise,
And a thoughtful voice still makes a sound that can be heard.
We've done this dance for many years, you and I,
and although I think it's fool's task to recreate the spirit of Blog-posts past, I'm OK with that.
Now isn't then.  It's not supposed to be.
I'm ready to accept the challenge of finding my today-voice and writing my today-stories.

....and post.

Friday, December 04, 2015

The Gentle Art of Persuasion


Here are actual opening phrases found in the subject headings of emails still (and probably forever) unopened, in my Inbox.  It's easy to be annoyed, but it's much more fun to laugh.

From my friends at Sears, who specialize in passive-aggression

  • A special surprise!
  • Psst... Friendly reminder
  • OMG (What?!)
  • Did you forget?  
  • (We're serious!)

From my friends at eBay, who just want to be my buddy, guy.
  • Here's an invite!
  • To: You, From: Us!
  • You're in!

From Gardeners Supply, who attempted a pun, then went for full-on guilt
  • Have a Crate Christmas
  • Come back!

From Best Buy, who wins the Grim Reaper award
  • It's Your Last Day!

From Expedia, who employs a Jekyll & Hyde-type strategy
  • Yay!
  • Oh no!
  • Woo-Hoo!
  • Uh-oh!
  • Calling all travelers!
  • Beware, all travelers!
  • Lucky you!
  • OMG Alert!

From Petco, who is convinced I'm too slow for their liking.
  • Run, Don't Walk!
  • Hurry!
  • You Have Until the Stroke of Midnight!
  • The Clock is Ticking
  • THIS. IS. IT.

But despite all the holiday hustle and bustle, it's clear that E! Online remembers the one true reason for the season.
  • Kylie Jenner shows her butt!

Happy December, y'all!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The Thinnest Line

One word
Three lives
separated by the thinnest of margins

One Wants
It is consumed with resentment, jealousy, and rage.
It lashes out,
blind to the damage and loss left in the wake
of the fight for what it doesn't have.
There is no consideration of the terrible cost.
Justifications rain down through the destruction it created.
There is never enough.

One Surrenders
It is overwhelmed by sorrow, disbelief, and anger.
It weeps again and again
tears of betrayal, thought to have been fully spent the last time.
Hearts ache
Words of explanation echo dully while 
Words of consolation are impossible to form.
Was it only yesterday?
This enough is too much.

One Lives
It is satisfied with life on this thin line
that separates the too much with the not enough
It dances lightly and breathes contentedly.
It lives a life marked by love and grace.
It is full and rich.
It is enough.

Tell Pharaoh to stop the wars and set the captives free
There is enough.
Call Elijah from the mountain and comfort him
There is enough.
Stop and look around you.
From the starry heavens to the immense earth, beauty surrounds you.
Look in the eyes of neighbor, friend and stranger and see
that life on the thinnest of lines
is enough.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Love the One You're With

Over the many years I've taught singers, I've been a big advocate for songs.  Not any particular song
(though I have my favorites, to be sure) but just, songs.  All of them.  One my my familiar studio speeches is to have my students love the song for what it is.  That is to say, figure out what the composer wanted to express, and then appreciate the message for what it is, and convey it the best way possible.  But make no mistake -- even if you love the song for what it is, you don't have to love the song at all.  You don't even have to like it.  But what you do have to do is understand it and then convey the thoughts and feelings behind it.  To do this convincingly, one must have a wide set of musical skills.  But beyond that lies a greater challenge: the ability to study, learn, and perform any song with a great sense of empathy.

Empathy.  The understanding and sharing of the emotions and experiences of another person.

This is a concept that has been on the decline for quite some time.  The ability to set your feelings aside and consider those of others.  The ability to articulate and share the emotions of someone else.  The ability to share the experiences of someone else.  It's the polar opposite of selfie and in this increasingly self-promotional, hyper-politicized world, I have to admit that I really miss it.

To have empathy for something or someone doesn't mean putting yourself aside.  It doesn't mean you are less important or weak.  Quite the opposite, I think.  It means you are strong enough to look outside your own orbit and recognize there are other thoughts, other people, and other paths.  It might not be your path, or your thought, and that's OK.  In my studio a song might not be your favorite.  Maybe the problem is the poem.  Or the composer.  Or the music.  Maybe the song is too happy. Or sad. Or silly. Or somber. Or long. Or short.  Or boring.  Or weird.  Or atonal. Or monotonous.  It doesn't really matter what too it is.  There are a million reasons not to like something, and generally one  is more than enough for most people.  But when you approach anything with a sense of empathy, you allow yourself the opportunity to step beyond your orbit of existence.  You allow yourself to experience the the feelings and stories of others.  You allow yourself to hear their songs.  You give yourself the chance to understand.

You don't have to love it.  You don't even have to like it.  But to perform with a sense of empathy makes anyone a better artist.  And to live with a sense of empathy makes the world a much kinder place.

One of my least favorite songs.
But I love Purcell, and I have to imagine that
his composition made someone happy for whatever reason that may be.
And so, if asked, I would sing this song with great joy and imagine
my two most favorite words in the whole wide world are "Nymphs and Shepherds"
because they are repeated 95 bazillion times in 2 minutes.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Unconscious Mutterings

I say :: and you think ...

1.  Your point :: is?
2.  Scarf :: winter
3.  Termite :: wood
4.  Willing :: the spirit is
5.  Silk :: scarf
6.  Center :: of attention
7.  Flash :: never works
8.  Warehouse :: crime scene
9.  Costume :: NO
10. Candy corn :: gross

Been awhile, eh?  And guess what?  This was last week's list.  Maybe, just maybe I'll do two today.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ice, Ice Baby. Part 3

Day 8.  I won the Pioneer Spirit certificate. Everybody gets a prize!
"Lucky octopus turned out to be as effective as local utility company. Just Googled "things that come in 9s". Welcome to Dante's nine levels of hell."  #endofdayeight #reallynotfunny
Meanwhile, things were an even bigger mess (if that was possible) with the BWL. The number of outages started increasing rather than decreasing, and that wasn't due to worsening weather.  It was due to the fact that NOBODY HAD POWER.

As power was slowly being restored (somewhere) customers were actually instructed to leave their lights on to show that they had power.  Why they thought driving down every road in a 50 mile radius was an effective way of determining outages, I'll never know.

But at least we got a new OUTRAGE map.

Day 9. On the 9th calendar day, and into the 10th 24-hour period, we finally saw the light.
"And lo, on the 9th day, The Lord got sick and tired of the whining, and he bestowed upon the land the Holy Transformer of Antioch, and said it was good. And at the end of the 9th day, there were lights and heat and all manners of comfort. And he said it was good.
There are so many people to thank who helped us, encouraged us, calmed us, sympathized with us, REPAIRED THE TRANSFORMER, hunted down utility trucks, bribed exhausted crews, tended to pets and to the home, dealt with the garage and everything else in between. You were our lifeline and our lifesavers time and time and time again.
The nightmare is over for us, but we're standing in solidarity with those still without power. "Endoftheninthdayforsome  #Timeforthistoend

Amazingly, and sadly, others were without power longer than we were.  And once power was restored across the grid, as it were, the story got interesting, and the people got very, VERY angry.


Ice, Ice Baby. Part 2

Day 4. No power. No miracle. But incredibly grateful.
"Still very cold and very dark at home. Grateful tonight for family, warmth and light. Merry Christmas to all."
After Day 4, it was impossible to know what to do or how to feel, so life was a mixture of humor, despair, anger and worry.  The interesting thing was, between the three of us, we somehow managed to never all be angry or depressed at the same time.  It was as if we had silently agreed that one of us would be the voice of optimism to help the others 
"For those of you playing along at home, cue the sad trombone music. Despite it all, we were grateful for a warm sleep last night with family, and are mindful of what we DO have, even while we wish, pray, and yes, grumble loudly for what we don't. Merry Christmas, everyone."  #whereslinus #lightsplease
Day 5.  The situation was incredibly difficult, and no matter how we felt, none of it helped.  We had no power, and we were powerless.
"Knock, knock. Who's there? Not electricity."  #notfunny
Day 6.  No end in sight.  Nothing in sight.  It's dark.
"Answer: no.  Question: do I have power, patience, heat, any viable groceries, or hope?" #endofdaysix #bythistimegodwasgettingreadytorest
Humor, when we could manage it or stumble across it, was a savior.  Twitter came to the rescue as some genius made a fake BWL account (Board of Water and Light) to keep us updated in the manner that we were, thus far, accustomed, which meant, not at all.  Thank God for sarcasm.

Day 7. Now what?  It was hard to keep saying the same thing over and over again, but all that was happening was the same thing over and over again.
"My house has been declared an Amish-only zone.  Cats are currently growing long bears and learning to craft quality furniture."  #endofdayseven #buyingluckyoctapustomorrow
The biggest problem (aside from the whole ice and electricity thing) was the abysmal lack of communication.  For example, we were told not to call BWL to let them know that the power was out because they already knew exactly where all the outages were.  That would later be classified as a pants-on-fire lie.

The next thing missing was the lack of any sort of outage map which would show people where the outages were, or in other words, provide visual proof that BWL knew where the outages were.  But, since they really didn't know, nor had any mechanism for constructing such a thing, an outage map never happened.

However, we DID get an OUTRAGE map, which was amazing.

One week gone. What next?

Ice, Ice Baby. Part 1

The one-year anniversary of day 1 was December 22nd.  It was a Sunday morning, a huge church music morning (Lessons and Carols) and we got an ENORMOUS (caps-lock, bold, leaned over) ice storm.  I woke up several times during the night thinking I was hearing things, and at about 4 am I was playing window monitor, trying to figure out where all the noise was coming from.

The answer was, it was coming from the ice.  Breaking things.  Mostly trees.  Which then broke other things. 

I could see periodic flashes of blue in the sky just barely over the tops of trees.  If that would have been Northern Lights, I would have oohed and ahhhed for quite awhile, because it was strangely beautiful.  But I knew it wasn't The Northern Lights. It was transformers that were exploding.

The ice was causing branches to break and trees to fall which took out power lines and transformers, and consequently, the electricity.  At about 5 am we thought maybe we should open the garage and free the cars just in case.  It turned out to be one of the best decisions we made.  At 5:15 am we lost power.  And thus it began.  Day 1.

At first we were good humored about the entire situation.  From Facebook:

"Obligatory post about losing power.  Slight annoyance that across the street seems fine. Major win that we opened the garage 20 minutes earlier.  Wondering about church, knowing cleanliness will NOT be next to godliness. 

All weather considered, church turned out to be a rather heart-warming event.  Despite the fact that an overwhelming percentage had lost power, the choir turned up en masse, and sang our traditional service of Advent and Christmas music.  It was as if nobody was going to miss this Sunday, no matter the weather.  We returned home hoping for the best but expecting the worst.  We got the worst.  But still, we kept a good attitude.  We'd rough it out for the night, wear lots of extra clothes to bed and be surprised in the morning with the roaring heat and blinding lights.  From Facebook that night:
"Power update.  Still none.  Looks like I'm going to make good use of my hoarders stash of candles."
That was another fortuitous event.  I had been forever working on cleaning the basement, and had run across of an obscene number of candles.  I had previously gathered them all together and stashed them in a plastic bin.  Thank Goodness.

Day 2 brought nothing.  No power.  No heat, and now the temperature had plummeted and it was COLD. Luckily (which one never says on a Monday), it was Monday so I headed to work (no use staying home and freezing) with every electronic device possible.  With two days until Christmas, all things considered, the mood was still optimistic and upbeat.
"Why yes, I do look like I got dressed in the dark, but the upside is it's warm and not dark at work and I'm busy charging a pile of electronics.  #LemonadeOutofLemons"
 and later....
"I have achieved master ninja level in finding the only available electrical outlet in any given public establishment.  #ChargeItUp
This was starting to become a challenge. Working at the University meant work closed down at 5pm due to the holidays, so I couldn't stay late, and warm and lit.  We began to travel to different locations with a bag that was stocked with the essentials: a multi-plug power strip, a massive tangle of cords, and every electronic device necessary.  We'd find a restaurant, find an outlet and charge up phones and tablets so we could communicate with the world.  It was annoying, but at least we had contact.  And believe me, we weren't the only ones.  The power outage had crippled the city, not to mention much of the state.

The only thing missing from this picture are all the phones,
which were in our cold, communication-starved hands.

Meanwhile at home, the cats were NOT amused.  They seemed resigned to the situation, assumed a cranky attitude and just hunkered down on the bed, glaring but not moving.  For once I was grateful that they were the hairiest beasts known to man, figuring that had to help because the house was really, really cold.  And dark.

As bad as the cold was, the darkness made it worse because by 5pm it was DARK. There was only so much my candlepalooza was able to do, and even with candlelight, what was there to do but look at each other being miserable?  So, we went to bed really early and just hoped for the best.

Day 3.  Christmas Eve.  No power.  This was no longer an adventure.
"That was the most realistic dream I've ever had. Dammit." #StillNoPower
"You may now call me 'travels with power strip.'"
"They always warn you about carbon monoxide poisoning, but never about the toxic fumes from competing scented candles."  #woozy  #whiffy
We gave up being hearty adventurer's on Christmas Eve night, and after late church, we headed to stay with family, and fell asleep, hoping for a Christmas miracle.