Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summerday (Dar Williams)

Can't believe it's taken me over a week to get around to posting my review of Dar's show at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta Saturday, August 15 - then again, it's not like I've been sitting around eating bon-bons. In the last nine days, I've driven a 16 ft. Budget rental truck across state lines (686 miles/15 hours from Georgia to Florida), transitioned my youngest child back to college and reclaimed my home from three-months-of-bachelorhood status - then there's my concert series planning, of which I'm woefully behind!

Dar was with the same keyboard player (Bryn, a young man) as last time, as well as a multi-instrumentalist (Jordan, a young woman), and both added lovely embellishment in the form of harmony and musicianship - her setlist spanned her career, and she played a few we don't get to hear that often (Calling the Moon, If I Wrote You, The Hudson). She was funny, she was bright, she was *on* - her husband Michael and son Stephen were there... and Dar announced that Michael is heading out this week to Ethiopia to pick up their newly-adopted daughter (she had told me last November but, since it was said in confidence, as opposed to from the stage this time, I kept quiet...... :-)

Stephen Kellogg (minus the Sixers, who many of us remember from Falcon Ridge a few years ago) was adorable as the opening act and I loved hearing his well-crafted songs in stripped-down singer-songwriter mode - he was only alloted 4 tunes, but he absolutely won over the crowd and appeared to sell a good many CDs at the break between shows!

The Dar show was all I hoped for and more - I had e-mailed through her management earlier that week, requesting Blue Light of the Flame for mom. Dar did a most lovely job, prefacing it with some really sweet words about mom having been there last November "with her smile and her oxygen" - she then dedicated the song to Connie, Susan and her family. She also said some nice things about me and my concert series, but seriously, as soon as she starts talking, my heart begins pounding, the blood rushes to my ears and I can't hear a thing - however, somewhere in there she did say "I love Susan Moss"... I swear!

I adore the fact that Dar's stories are never the same, no matter how many times I've seen her - so entertaining... and it was fun to experience it through Kevin, my sister's boyfriend (as it was his first time seeing her) and Julia, my sister's 12-year-old daughter, who is indeed now The Babysitter...

So... Dar came out for an encore and said, "this is a request from someone who's not here to someone who is here, who I will not name"... and started telling the story of how she sang Over the Rainbow with the New York Gay Men's Chorus a few years ago (telling a funny story about Dorothy's braids vs. pigtails), and did the most gorgeous rendition of the song, adding a "Pete Seeger community inclusive spin" (her words) of "if happy little bluebirds fly, why can't you and I?" - when she finished, she looked right at me and said, "that was from sharon goldberg" (thanks, sharong)...

As we were leaving, I was approached by Carolyn, Dar's tour manager who said, "are you Susan? - Dar wants to see you"... and led us behind a curtain where we could hug and chat - really, it was amazing. I had brought her a book Mari and I had given mom for her 70th birthday... and we both signed it again for Dar - amazing night (and much love and thanks to my sister for reserving the table and allowing me to be their fourth!)...

She wasn't looking
when they took this picture:
sitting on the grass
in her bare feet
wearing a cotton dress,
she stares off to the side
watching something on the lawn
the camera didn't catch.
What was it?
A ladybug? A flower?
Judging from her expression,
possibly nothing at all,
or else
the lawn was like a mirror,
and she sat watching herself,
wondering who she was
and how she came to be there
sitting in this backyard,
wearing a cheap, white dress,
imagining that tomorrow
would be like all her yesterdays,
while her parents chatted
and watched, as I do
years later,
too distantly to interfere.

QUOTE: "Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." ~ Henry James

Monday, August 24, 2009

Truckin' (The Grateful Dead)

"What a long strange trip it's been" indeed - where to begin?!?

When last we left our She-ra, she was getting ready to drive a 10 ft. rental truck across state lines - au contraire. Melanie came with me in an attempt to exchange the larger one we used for Mari's move for smaller, but they didn't have a 10 ft. in stock so we had to keep the 16 ft. - I was trying not to freak out, and decided to paraphrase my standard adage: One Mile At a Time...

We were blessed from the start, as Mel found a small silver dragonfly charm in the cupholder (now on a chain around my neck)... which made me decide to wear my new silver dragonfly earrings from Stephen (a birthday gift Melanie had brought up) - then later in the journey we were stopped at a gas station and Melanie laughed and said, "wait until you see what's on the side of the U-Haul truck pulling out". It was the logo pictured above - thanks, Dave (and maybe now... thanks, mom... since her passing date is the same as his, seven years later)...

After the first 30 minutes of driving, I was really enjoying it... and teased that I was going to go back to school to learn to be a truck driver - instead of Rosie the Riveter I'd be Susie the Trucker... which Mel amended to Susie the Mothertrucker... :-)

We had quite a Road Buddy adventure ("isn't that what you would call it?"), logging 686 miles in 15 hours, arriving home about 4 a.m. Tuesday - I am grateful for her company, her conversation and her ability to tune in radio stations with strong signals *and* playing MKOM (My Kind of Music). Long live Diet Dr. Pepper and Sun Chips, Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino and Hostess Coconut Crumb Mini Donuts - Cracker Barrel and Red Lobster rock too!

Since returning home, I've kept busy unloading the truck, moving things around from room to room, straightening and cleaning, getting Eric packed up to return to college, relocating Rob's stuff into Eric's vacant room, etc. - I've been on a mission to de-bachelorize this house!

Mom's belongings are being incorporated into my own eclectic design plan and things look really good - I went to church yesterday, spent the afternoon listening to Michael Stock's show and catching up on some e-mail... and it feels nice to be getting back into a routine...

Truckin' by The Grateful Dead

When things got hard
I used to drive and keep on driving—
once to North Carolina
once to Arizona—
I'm through with all that now, I hope.

The last time was years ago.
But oh, how I would drive
and keep on driving!
The universe around me
all well in my control;
anything I wanted on the radio,
the air blasting hot or cold;
sobbing as loudly as I cared to sob,
screaming as loudly as I needed to scream.
I would live on apples and black coffee,
shower at truck stops,
sleep curled up
in the cozy back seat I loved.

The last time, I left at 3 a.m.
By New York state,
I stopped screaming;
by Tulsa
I stopped sobbing;
by the time I pulled into Flagstaff
I was thinking
about the Canyon,
I was so empty.
Thinking about the canyon
I was.

I sat on the rim at dawn,
let all the colors fill me.
It was cold. I saw my breath
like steam from a soup pot.
I saw small fossils in the gravel.
I saw how much world there was
how much darkness
could be swept out
by the sun.

QUOTE: "There is more credit and satisfaction in being a first-rate truck driver than a tenth-rate executive." ~ B. C. Forbes

Monday, August 17, 2009

Isn't It Nice to Be Home Again (James Taylor)

I have three blog posts floating around in my head which won't see the light of day for another 48+ hours - I'm leaving mom's later this morning, driving a 10 ft. rental truck over state lines from Flowery Branch, Georgia to South Florida (thank you, Mel, for flying up and keeping me company on the way home... :-)

More later - wish me luck now!

QUOTE: “I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” ~ Maya Angelou

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You've Got to Have Friends (Bette Midler)

Entirely too much going on this week to post anything of substance - realtors and moving trucks and estate accounts, oh my!

Will attempt to do justice to the life I am lucky to call my own, both here in Flowery Branch, Georgia... and soon to be returning to South Florida - in the meantime, I've been working on the following (since before mom passed, actually)... and wanted to scatter the seeds now... :-)

TUT: A Note From the Universe (7/16/09)

Every single minute of every single day, they're there, Susan. They may be hidden behind circumstances, people, or light poles. Challenges, closed doors, or lost keys. Camouflaged, dovetailed, or whispering. Purring, kissing, or hissing. But more often than not they're laying about in the open, under a clear blue sky, in plain view. Absolutely. Guaranteed. You'd throttle me otherwise. 10,000 reasons to be happy.

Jumanji, baby -

The Universe

Susan, how many do you see now??

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I remember things too easily forgotten:

The purity of early love,
The maturity of unselfish love that asks --
desires -- nothing but another's good,
The idealism that has persisted through all the tempest of life.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I can find a quiet assurance, an inner peace, in the core of my being.
It can face the doubt, the loneliness, the anxiety,
Can accept these harsh realities and can even grow
Because of these challenges to my essential being.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I can sense my basic humanity,
And then I know that all men and women are my brothers and sisters.
Nothing but my own fear and distrust can separate me from the love of friends.

If I can trust others, accept them, enjoy them,
Then my life shall surely be richer and more full.
If I can accept others, this will help them to be more truly themselves,
And they will be more able to accept me.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I know how much life has given me:
The history of the race, friends and family,
The opportunity to work, the chance to build myself.

Then wells within me the urge to live more abundantly,
With greater trust and joy,
With more profound seriousness and earnest service,
And yet more calmly at the heart of life.

QUOTE: "Good friends and excellent teachers -stick close to them! Wealth and power are fleeting dreams but wise words perfume the world for ages." ~ Ryokan

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Loving Hands (Christine Kane)

To: ozwoman321
Sent: Wed, Aug 5, 2009 12:50 pm
Subject: Your TUT Adventurers Birthday Wish!!!

Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu,
Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu,
Happy Birrrrthday Dear Susan,
Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu!

A few years back, not so long ago, heaven and earth erupted into a major celebration with the news of your impending adventure into this very time and space. You see, someone like Susan doesn't come along all that often. In fact, there's never been a single one like you, nor is there ever ANY possibility that another will come again. You're an Angel among us. Someone, whose eyes see what no others will EVER see, whose ears hear what no others will EVER hear, and whose perspective and feelings will NEVER, ever be duplicated. Without YOU, the Universe, and ALL THAT IS, would be sadly less than it is.

Quite simply:

You're the kind of person, Susan,
Who's hard to forget,
A one-in-a-million
To the people you've met.
Your friends are as varied
As the places you go,
And they all want to tell you
In case you don't know:
That you make a big difference
In the lives that you touch,
By taking so little
And giving so much!

Susan, you are so AWESOME! For your birthday, friends and angels from every corner of the Universe, including buddies you didn't know you had, will be with you to wish you the HAPPIEST of days and an exciting new year in time and space. You won't be alone!


P.S. - Susan, this is going to be YOUR year!!

"And it always starts here"... to quote Dar Williams - oh... little did I know what an amazing day it would turn out to be... :-)

The original plan was for my sister to come over yesterday so we could continue our clearing and cleaning of mom's house - "are you sure you want to work on your birthday?", Mari asked... and I said yes because, quite frankly, I anticipated the alternative of having a big pity party for poor li'l ole me and spending my birthday *alone*.

However, because of something that happened about midnight on the cusp of my birthday, I e-mailed Mari first thing yesterday morning with a change of plans... and I'm so glad I did - who knew the sort of magical day that would unfold? (rhetorical question)...

Actually, my celebration began Tuesday afternoon when I received a birthday card, in the mail, from mom's (and now my) friend Rose (who actually lives just across the street) - about 11 p.m. I received an e-card from my friend Eileen...

A bit after midnight (on August 5, my actual birthday) I somehow got the urge to clean out a drawer in mom's liquor cabinet - Mari and I had already gone through it last week, and I knew it was mostly filled with cocktail napkins and votive candles... but the urge for organization was there and I succumbed. Imagine my surprise when I found about 10 bookmarks in the back left corner, one of which was decorated with beautiful flowers and the following text: "Today's your birthday and I celebrate the journey of your life!". I am absolutely convinced I was led to find the bookmark as a Happy Birthday message from mom - signs are everywhere, if you pay attention...

I was up at 8 a.m. for exercise class, and dropped my sister an e-mail that I had changed my mind and would prefer a day off and to myself, if it was okay with her - the phone rang at 8:30 and it was mom's friend Claire, wishing me a happy birthday. I did a quick e-mail check before leaving the house and had birthday notes from Nancy and Mari - as soon as I got in the car with Ann and Diane (mom's friends), they both wished me a happy birthday, and Diane gave me a present of a lovely stemmed candleholder, with a purple votive included. Everyone in class wished me a happy birthday, and Ann and Diane took me out for brunch at Einstein's Bagels afterwards - at this point with mom's friends, I feel as if I'm living the movie Steel Magnolias (and yes, there is a Shirley MacLaine character... :-)

I came home to a package at the front door from sweet Melanie and, as I walked in to unwrap its contents, my cell phone started ringing - it was my dear friend Fred who, although we've e-mailed, I hadn't spoken with the entire time I've been here... and we chatted for close to an hour. I had no sooner hung up than I received a voicemail and text from my brother Brad and a voicemail from my daughter Sarah - I was finally able to open the package from Melanie (she reused the box and Atlanta Journal-Constitution page in which I had sent El Toro - inside joke), and it was a card with the most beautiful sentiment, and an "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" Oz figurine, with Dorothy, Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West...

Then the mail carrier rang the bell, with a package from Eileen: another lovely card, two books (one novel, one children's) and a few magnets - Mari called then, and we talked a while... and I did another e-mail check and found dear blog comments from Catherine, Amy, sharon, Kate and Michele...

My son Eric called and, as soon as I hung up with him, the phone rang again and it was my son Rob - I had every intention of taking a long, hot bath... and a nap... and curling up with a good novel... but the day had flown by... so instead, I squeezed in a shower, watched Oprah and read the lovely children's book from Eileen (noted below)...

I called Eileen, Nancy and Melanie to chat - left voicemails with all three, and ended up talking with the first two a bit later (by this point, my phone had died, so Melanie and Nick... and Susan P!... left a message while it was charging)...

My dear husband called and we talked a bit... and Rose phoned... and my friend Dan called (he didn't know it was my birthday but he invited me to a get-together with a few friends Sunday evening) - Amy had posted my birthday to the Dar-list, and a few people wrote on- and off-list to wish me a happy one. Received an e-mail from my brother's girlfriend Donna and an e-card from my sister's boyfriend Kevin - happy, happy, happy!

A bit before 9 p.m. I cooked a Kashi roasted vegetable thin crust pizza, poured a glass of pinot grigio and segued into folk dork persona by watching the PBS Great Performances show of Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Celebration from Madison Square Garden - what a perfect way to celebrate my own!

During a break (it is fundraising week after all), I lit a candle and placed it on top of a piece of cake I had defrosted (after mom's funeral, I hid the remaining desserts in the freezer) - Nancy had sung to me earlier on the phone... and I thought of our call fondly as I blew out the candle. My wish had already come true, as it was the most Perfect birthday I'd had in quite a while - glad I trusted my instinct, so as to allow it unfold as it was meant...

"It's those magic little moments you never have to understand, wondering if it's luck or loving hands" - indeed... :-)

SONG: Loving Hands by Christine Kane (scroll about halfway down)

BOOK: Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth

POEM: If to Say It Once by Gregory Orr

If to say it once
And once only, then still
To say: Yes.

And say it complete,
Say it as if the word
Filled the whole moment
With its absolute saying.

Later for “but,”
Later for “if.”

Only the single syllable
That is the beloved,
That is the world.

QUOTE: "What is laid down, ordered, factual is never enough to embrace the whole truth: life always spills over the rim of every cup." ~ Boris Pasternak

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Can't Drive 55 (Sammy Hagar)

Rob Brezsny
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):
If you really knew how much you were loved, you would never cry again. A sublime relaxation would flood your nervous system, freeing you to see the beautiful secrets that your chronic fear has hidden from you. If you knew how much the world longs for your genius to bloom in its full glory, the peace that filled you would ensure you could not fail. You'd face every trial with eager equanimity. You would always know exactly what to do because your intuition would tell you in a myriad of subtle ways. And get this: A glimpse of this glory will soon be available to you.

Today is my 55th birthday - how in the f*ck did that happen?!? I continue to say that I feel 19 until I pass a mirror and think, "who is that old woman?" - my outside definitely does not match my inside... :-)

Not sure what the day bodes, especially since I'm still at mom's and not surrounded by my own loved ones: family and friends - there will be time for celebration when I return (plus my brother, sister and niece are taking me out for a birthday lunch Saturday to mom's favorite restaurant)... but, in the meantime, I'm just glad to have logged another year on the planet... and am already plotting as to how to make these next 365 days productive, peaceful and pro-active!

I Can't Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar

BOOK: What Your Birthday Reveals About You: 366 Days of Astonishingly Accurate Revelations About Your Future, Your Secrets, and Your Strengths by Phyllis Vega

POEM: You See I Want A Lot by Rainer Maria Rilke

What do you want?
You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery easy of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it's not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

QUOTE: “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” ~ J. M. Barrie