Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wilder Than Her (Fred Eaglesmith)

I had the great pleasure of seeing Fred Eaglesmith and his band in a very small coffeehouse this past Monday night... and posted the following review to our local folk list - if Fred and company come anywhere near your town... I strongly urge you to go, go, go!

P.S. I spoke with Kori, Fred's drummer, at the break and requested this song - she kindly passed it on, and he played it mid-way through the second set... :-)


I was first introduced to the music of Fred Eaglesmith way back in 1997, when Dar Williams released an EP which included her cover of Wilder Than Her - I always loved that she felt comfortable enough not to change the gender. Seven years later, Todd Snider covered Alcohol and Pills - when two of my faves spotlight another artist's music in their catalog, you can bet I'm going to pay attention!

I was lucky enough to see Fred and band twice at the amazing Main Street Cafe, before it closed - last night I had a chance to reprise the experience at the Luna Star Cafe. The four-piece group might have been a bit "close" on stage... and their trademark merch table (limited edition vinyl, Fredhead coffee, earrings made out of Fred's old guitar strings... not to mention cowboy hats, CDs and DVDs) might have had to shrink a bit to fit on the piano in the corner... but the lyrics were larger-than-life, the musicianship was overflowing and the sense of privilege at experiencing this legendary group in such an intimate setting was huge...

What Fred and band (Matt Simpson on guitar, banjo and vocals; Kori Heppner on drums; Luke Stackhouse on upright bass and vocals) offer up onstage in their repertoire is exceptional (words front-and-center, exquisite harmonies and tight accompaniment, whether rocking or mellow, bluegrass or bossa nova) - what is unexpected but equally charming is Fred's over-the-top personality. David Engels posted yesterday that Fred will make you laugh - what he also does is make you think. He "afflicted the comfortable", with rant topics ranging from socialized medicine to stashed money in Panamanian bank accounts to corporate bailouts - he regaled us with humorous stories of sex, reincarnation*** and his new brainchild: joke-eoke... :-)

Part poet, part stand-up comic, all Buddhist Canadian cowboy (a koan artist?), Fred and company used the power of language and music last evening to full advantage - thanks to Alexis and Bree and all involved at the Luna Star for opening the Cafe on a normally-closed Monday night to showcase such stellar entertainment... in addition to her delicious food and extensive beer menu!

***My new favorite joke, from memory (ack!):

Once there were two nuns who promised each other that whoever died first would come back to tell the other what heaven was like. One nun died and, about six weeks later, the second nun heard the voice of her friend, and asked about her experience.

“Well, first I get up in the morning and have some vegetarian greens, then I make love, then I eat greens again, then in the afternoon I make love some more. Then I have another meal of natural greens, and make love again in the evening before I go to sleep.”

The second nun was quite surprised at this and asked, “So that is what it's like in heaven?”

The first nun replied, “Who said anything about heaven? I’m a rabbit in Saskatchewan.”

SONG: Wilder Than Her by Fred Eaglesmith

BOOK: Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery by Mark Coleman (introduction by Jack Kornfield)

POEM: The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

QUOTE: "First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others." ~ Thomas A Kempis

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Live Like You Were Dying (Tim McGraw)

Confession Time: I am a devoted follower of MTV's The Real World, hearkening back to the very first one, in 1992 in New York (could it really be 15 years ago?) - remember when Becky asked Heather if she were a drug dealer, because she had a beeper?!?

But I digress... :-)

Actually, the segue here is that I've been watching the
latest Real World season, filmed in our nation's capital, and kept seeing the promos for a new show, The Buried Life, whose premiere aired Monday night, but I missed it so I had to catch it on re-runs last night - since I'm always espousing the carpe diem life philosophy, especially after Mom's passing this summer, I of course was beyond intrigued by the show's tagline: "1 Question. 4 Guys. 100 Things To Do Before You Die."...

I very much enjoyed the first episode, in which two of the guys crashed a party at the Playboy Mansion... but they also put on a street show with their breakdancing and raised enough money to buy a computer for a local charter elementary school - it was cute, sweet and inspirational... and I'll continue to tune in...

Here's a wonderful article and interview on the premise and the reactions so far - I've used the poem that inspired them in today's post...

Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw

2DO Before I Die : The Do-It-Yourself Guide to the Rest of Your Life by Michael Ogden and Chris Day

POEM: The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold

Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet,

Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!

I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll.
Yes, yes, we know that we can jest,

We know, we know that we can smile!

But there's a something in this breast,

To which thy light words bring no rest,

And thy gay smiles no anodyne.

Give me thy hand, and hush awhile,

And turn those limpid eyes on mine,

And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.

Alas! is even love too weak

To unlock the heart, and let it speak?

Are even lovers powerless to reveal

To one another what indeed they feel?

I knew the mass of men conceal'd

Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd

They would by other men be met

With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;

I knew they lived and moved

Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest

Of men, and alien to themselves--and yet

The same heart beats in every human breast!

But we, my love!--doth a like spell benumb

Our hearts, our voices?--must we too be dumb?

Ah! well for us, if even we,

Even for a moment, can get free

Our heart, and have our lips unchain'd;

For that which seals them hath been deep-ordain'd!

Fate, which foresaw
How frivolous a baby man would be--
By what distractions he would be possess'd,

How he would pour himself in every strife,
And well-nigh change his own identity--

That it might keep from his capricious play

His genuine self, and force him to obey
Even in his own despite his being's law,

Bade through the deep recesses of our breast

The unregarded river of our life

Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;

And that we should not see

The buried stream, and seem to be

Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,

Though driving on with it eternally.

But often, in the world's most crowded streets,

But often, in the din of strife,

There rises an unspeakable desire

After the knowledge of our
buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;

A longing to inquire

Into the mystery of this heart which beats

So wild, so deep in us--to know

Whence our lives come and where they go.

And many a man in his own breast then delves,

But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.

And we have been on many thousand lines,

And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;

But hardly have we, for one little hour,

Been on our own line, have we been ourselves--

Hardly had skill to utter one of all
The nameless feelings that course through our breast,

But they course on for ever unexpress'd.

And long we try in vain to speak and act

Our hidden self, and what we say and do

Is eloquent, is well--but 'tis not true!
And then we will no more be rack'd

With inward striving, and demand

Of all the thousand nothings of the hour

Their stupefying power;

Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!

Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,

From the soul's subterranean depth upborne

As from an infinitely distant land,

Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey

A melancholy into all our day.

Only--but this is rare--

When a beloved hand is laid in ours,

When, jaded with the rush and glare

Of the interminable hours,

Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear,

When our world-deafen'd ear

Is by the tones of a loved voice caress'd--

A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,

And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,

And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.

A man becomes aware of his life's flow,

And hears its winding murmur; and he sees

The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

And there arrives a lull in the hot race

Wherein he doth for ever chase

That flying and elusive shadow, rest.

An air of coolness plays upon his face,

And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.

And then he thinks he knows
The hills where his life rose,

And the sea where it goes.

QUOTE: “Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.” ~ Jim Rohn

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Heart Like a Wheel (The McGarrigle Sisters)

(thanks to Judi for the link to the above video...)

I didn't know many of the McGarrigle Sisters songs but, the ones I did know, I loved (such as Heart Like a Wheel, made famous by Linda Ronstadt) - so sad to hear of Kate's passing yesterday...

I share with you two special links... the first, a tribute on my friend Joshua's Cover Lay Down blog... and the second, an entire section of The Montreal Gazette, devoted to Kate (R.I.P.)...

SONG: Heart Like a Wheel by Kate and Anna McGarrigle

BOOK: Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Songs and Stories by Dane Lanken

POEM: Wise Men Keep Talking About by Hafiz

Time is the shop
Where everyone works hard

To build enough love
To break the

Wise men keep talking about
Wanting to meet Her.

Women sometimes pronounce the word God
A little differently:
They can use more feeling and skill
With the heart-lute.

All the world's movements,
Apparent chaos, and suffering I now know happen
In the Splendid Unison:

Our tambourines are striking
The same thigh.

Hafiz stands
At a juncture in this poem.
There are a thousand new wheels I could craft
On a wagon
And place you in -
Lead you to a glimpse of the culture
And seasons in another dimension.

Yet again God
Will have to drop you back at the shop
Where you still have work


QUOTE: "A loving heart is the truest wisdom." ~ Charles Dickens

Monday, January 18, 2010

Love Shack (The B-52's)

January 18, 2010

Choose Love

What We Are Made of

Love is often presented as the opposite of fear, but true love is not opposite
anything. True love is far more powerful than any negative emotions, as it is the environment in which all things arise. Negative emotions are like sharks swimming in the ocean of love. All things beautiful and fearful, ugly and kind, powerful and small, come into existence, do their thing, and disappear within the context of this great ocean. At the same time, they are made of the very love in which they swim and can never be separated. We are made of this love and live our whole lives at one with it, whether we know it or not.

It is only the illusion that we are separate from this great love that causes us
to believe that choosing anything other than love makes sense or is even possible. In the relative, dualistic world of positive and negative, darkness and light, male and female, we make choices and we learn from them. This is exactly what we are meant to be doing here on earth. Underlying these relative choices, though, is the choice to be conscious of what we are, which is love, or to be unconscious of it. When we choose to be conscious of it, we choose love. We will still exist in the relative world of opposites and choices and cause and effect, and we will need to make our way here, but doing so with an awareness that we are all made of this love will enable us to be more playful, more joyful, more loving and wise, as we make our way. Ultimately, the choices we make will shed light on the love that makes us all one, enabling those who have forgotten to return to the source.

This world makes it easy to forget this great love, which is part of why we are
here. We are here to remember and, when we forget to remember again, to choose love.

I work very hard at not repeating songs (or books, poems and quotes)... but this one begged for duplication... especially since today is my sister Mari's 42nd birthday and, not only did she turn me on to The B-52's... but she is also a huge fan of Sugarland (so imagine my surprise and delight at discovering the above video!)...

Today I e-mailed, I called, I sent flowers - I am shipping a present that is currently out of stock. Mari is hosting a slumber party this weekend so I'm having something delivered then (it's a surprise!) - however, the very best present (in my mind) is that I've asked my collaborators at Star Maker Machine if we could choose songs with Mary in the title as our theme for the week of January 17-23... and they very sweetly agreed. Go here to see my kick-off post yesterday (which links to my post on this OV site about Mari almost two years ago)... and here to check in throughout the week to see what's been added - the proverbial icing is that I'll make a mix CD of all the contributed songs as an additional gift (thanks, SMMers... :-)

It's been hard, since this is Mari's first birthday since Mom passed July 19 - we miss her always... but special occasions evoke such a mix of dread and finality (it hits home that Mom won't be calling to wish us a happy one)...

SONG: Love Shack by The B-52's

BOOK: My Sister, My Self: Understanding the Sibling Relationship That Shapes Our Lives, Our Loves, and Ourselves by Vikki Stark

POEM: And the Cantilevered Inference Shall Hold the Day by Michael Blumenthal

Things are not as they seem: the innuendo of everything makes
itself felt and trembles towards meanings we never intuited
or dreamed. Take, for example, how the warbler, perched on a

mere branch, can kidnap the day from its tediums and send us
heavenwards, or how, held up by nothing we really see, our
spirits soar and then, in a mysterious series of twists and turns,

come to a safe landing in a field, encircled by greenery. Nothing
I can say to you here can possibly convince you that a man
as unreliable as I have been can smuggle in truths between tercets

and quatrains on scraps of paper, but the world as we know
is full of surprises, and the likelihood that here, in the shape
of this very bird, redemption awaits us should not be dismissed

so easily. Each year, days swivel and diminish along their inscrutable
axes, then lengthen again until we are bathed in light we were not
prepared for. Last night, lying in bed with nothing to hold onto

but myself, I gazed at the emptiness beside me and saw there, in the
shape of absence, something so sweet and deliberate I called it darling.
No one who encrusticates (I made that up!) his silliness in a bowl,

waiting for sanctity, can ever know how lovely playfulness can be,
and, that said, let me wish you a Merry One (or Chanukah if you
prefer), and may whatever holds you up stay forever beneath you,

and may the robin find many a worm, and our cruelties abate,
and may you be well and happy and full of mischief as I am,
and may all your nothings, too, hold something up and sing.

QUOTE: "Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile." ~ Franklin P. Jones

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Surrender (Burns Sisters)

January 14, 2010
The Wisdom of Surrender
Relying on Others

Most of us pride ourselves on our self-sufficiency. We like to be responsible for taking care of ourselves and pulling our own weight in the world. This is why it can be so challenging when we find ourselves in a situation in which we have to rely on someone else. This can happen as the result of an illness or an injury, or even in the case of a positive change, such as the arrival of a newborn. At times like these, it is essential that we let go of our feeling that we should be able to do it all by ourselves and accept the help of others.

The first step is accepting the situation fully as it is. Too often we make things worse either by trying to do more than we should or by lapsing into feelings of uselessness. In both cases we run the risk of actually prolonging our dependency. In addition, we miss a valuable opportunity to practice acceptance and humility. The ego resists what is, so when we move into acceptance we move into the deeper realm of the soul. In needing others and allowing them to help us, we experience the full realization that we are not on our own in the world. While this may bring up feelings of vulnerability, a deep feeling of gratitude may also emerge as we open to the experience of being helped. This realization can enable us to be wiser in our service of others when we are called upon to help.

It takes wisdom and strength to surrender to our own helplessness and to accept that we, just like every other human being, have limitations. The gifts of surrender are numerous. We discover humility, gratitude, and a deepening understanding of the human experience that enables us to be that much more compassionate and surrendered in the world.

A quick follow-up on my doctor visit of a month ago, to get the results of the blood and urine tests I took - suffice it to say I was more than a bit worried about the outcome... but everything actually turned out okay...

After being on the blood pressure medicine for four weeks, my blood pressure was perfect - yay! My blood sugar was great, which was a huge whew!... as diabetes runs in my family - my cholesterol was on target too (169... recommended is below 200), another relief. My calcium and Vitamin D were both a bit low, so she suggested supplements of both - also, I showed borderline-hypothyroidism (low), and she felt a thyroid medication to shift my metabolism back where it should be was indicated. Interestingly, I have felt much more energy since beginning the pills (lowest dosage, once a day), which is a nice change of pace - I think that's helped balance my emotional peace of mind as well...

I still need to schedule appointments for a mammogram, a bone density test, a colonoscopy and a chest x-ray (because of mom's pulmonary issues) - I've been involved in the planning stages of a busy music weekend here in South Florida... but I promise to... what, Susan?... follow through!... and will make those calls first thing next week... :-)

SONG: Surrender by Annie Burns

BOOK: Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver

POEM: Primary Wonder by Denise Levertov

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; cap and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng's clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

QUOTE: "We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Right Where You're Supposed to Be (Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags)

A few hours after I posted about my vow to be more open to new music, I stumbled across this moving piece by Lisa Lepine (who also managed Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer) regarding the early passing of Scotland Barr (lead singer for the Slow Drags) - I love it when the Universe works this quickly (and the Oz quote at the beginning of Lisa's article was a nice meant-to-be perk!)...

It motivated me to read about the band (who I'd never heard of before) and listen to their songs... and I was touched and impressed (so tragic and yet so hopeful) - earlier today, I made a donation to the Finish the Album Fund... in memory of Vic and Sean (paying it forward for all the "folk angel" acts of kindness these two wonderful men performed), and sending warm thoughts of peace and healing as well as best wishes on keeping the music alive to the remaining band members...

I am once again humbly reminded of how important it is to put our money where our mouth is (and where our hearts are) - it is also a reinforcement of how powerful songs can be, in conjuring memories of our past... leading us to future discoveries... or allowing us the pleasure of enjoying the moment, right here and now...

From the band's website:

After Scotland's diagnosis, the Slow Drags had to quickly change directions. Instead of planning out tours that take months of lead time, the band turned their attention to recording the next album. Unsure of Scot's health, the band began to feverishly sketch out ideas and rough tracks for the double-length LP We Will Be Forgotten. Significant progress was made, as four tracks have been pre-released to the public. However, without the ability to play live shows with any regularity, the band's source of income was essentially cut off. People close to the band know that the next record was important to all of us, especially Scot. Each song detailed an era of his life like a storyboard.

The fact that he chose the name We Will Be Forgotten was ironic, as the concept of this record was to, almost desperately, have people remember. Maybe not Scotland, or the band, but meaningful events their own life history. The band fully intends to see this vision through. The Slow Drags would be humbly honored by anyone that is willing to donate money towards recording the next album. Feel free to visit our website and donate via PayPal. We'll also kindly accept cash or checks made out to Scotland Barr and the Slow Drags. The band graciously thanks you for your generosity.

SONG: Right Where You're Supposed to Be by Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags (can't find the lyrics to this song, but you can watch the YouTube video of their song Dirty Old Waltz)

BOOK: The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature by Daniel J. Levitin

POEM: Walking to Oak-Head Pond, and Thinking of the Ponds I Will Visit in the Next Days and Weeks by Mary Oliver

What is so utterly invisible
as tomorrow?
Not love,
not the wind,

not the inside of stone.
Not anything.
And yet, how often I'm fooled-
I'm wading along

in the sunlight-
and I'm sure I can see the fields and the ponds shining
days ahead-
I can see the light spilling

like a shower of meteors
into next week's trees,
and I plan to be there soon-
and, so far, I am

just that lucky,
my legs splashing
over the edge of darkness,
my heart on fire.

I don't know where
such certainty comes from-
the brave flesh
or the theater of the mind-

but if I had to guess
I would say that only
what the soul is supposed to be
could send us forth

with such cheer
as even the leaf must wear
as it unfurls
its fragrant body, and shines

against the hard possibility of stoppage-
which, day after day,
before such brisk, corpuscular belief,
shudders, and gives way.

QUOTE(S): "But people hear music in all kinds of different ways. Some people experience music as colours; others just see grey water pouring out of the speakers. Some never listen to lyrics, they just fall under a spell. Some eat it whole. Some just take a bite. Some of us like to get on our backs and roll around in it like a dog." ~ Tom Waits

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..." ~ Nick Hornby

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside (the James Taylor/Natalie Cole version)

Hi Susan! Here is your Daily Horoscope for Tuesday, January 5:

Though you may be the life of the party on other days, right now you'd rather sit quietly with close family and read or play games. It's not a sign of anything serious -- you just need a break!

It is f*cking freezing here in South Florida - I have not left the house in four days. It is the first time I have turned on the heat in years - with highs in the 50's during the day and lows in the 30's at night, expected to extend through the end of the week, this is not normal!

My bundled-up household attire has ranged from a thermal dress, a long black sweater and some knock-off Uggs I got from Target (rather than springing for the real thing, which cost upwards of $200)
... to my cute embellished-on-the-*ss sweatpants, a long-sleeved fleecy nightgown and some chenille slipper socks - over the last few days, I have made a big pot of my ground turkey and vegetable soup... as well as my sister's chicken-corn chowder recipe, both amazingly delicious, nutritious and cold-weather-comforting... but soon I *must* get dressed to venture out to Publix, because I am out of everything (d*mn these menfolk of mine and their appetites... :-)

My friend Stephen is always trying to get me to move north (to the Boston area) and I repeatedly tell him there aren't enough socks in the world - however, it's a nice change of pace to stay inside, watch mindless TV, catch up on wishlist reading and To Do computer stuff... and just generally hibernate (bears and bears and bears, oh my!)...

SONG: Baby, It's Cold Outside by Frank Loesser (and there are a bazillion covers!)

BOOK: Santa Claus: Super Spy--The Case of the Florida Freeze by Ryan Jacobson

POEM: Cold Watercolor by Wyatt Prunty

We saw the birds jockeying for the feeder.
Inside, the networks fed us New Year's Day.
And then there was the snow, in thick raw blots
Down past a row of windows where it caught,
Turning the sills to ridges, as outside
The streets, houses, and yards thickened
From their named and numbered ways into
A watercolor unreadably white . . .
And all the while the manic snow descending,
Sometimes glazed against a pane but mostly
Falling from itself into itself
Under a low, bruised, and indefinite sky . . .

Until the things I watched to measure change,
A recent stump, raised flower beds, porch steps —
Had disappeared, with the snow still falling
And the gray January light fading,
Fusing the trees and houses in one shade . . .
Suddenly a shadow now, beyond the glass
That mirrored us with looking out,
Ourselves out there, watches and rings reversed —
As reporters had the years reversed,
We said, looking out, seeing us looking in.

QUOTE: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” ~ Edith Sitwell

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Here Comes That Rainbow Again (Kris Kristofferson)

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to LD at The Adios Lounge - his December 31 post (which I discovered mid-morning January 1) was life-changing for me, not in a hyperbolic sense but truly, madly, deeply...

It is no secret that I love music... but, much as I pride myself on discovering new songs and giving new artists a chance, I do tend to wrap myself in the cloak of comfort with tunes and musicians who are familiar and therefore safe - when the going gets tough, the tough steels herself with, and crumbles to, the soothing strains of Dar Williams, Dave Carter, Joni Mitchell, Todd Snider, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Danny Schmidt, etc... and, in the grand scheme of things, they are quite the impressive company of friends...

I've mentioned before that, a bit over a year ago, I was invited to be a regular contributor to Star Maker Machine, a weekly-themed music blog - that site has led me to so many others (you can read their blogroll in the right sidebar), and it's been a sincere joy to be a participant in, as well as a voyeur of, a diverse circle of amazing music...

Names of lots of new-to-me artists have been bandied about, and sometimes I'd click on a link to listen... but, after a snippet or two, I'd move back into my safety zone - with mom's passing almost six months ago, I retreated even further inward, pulling the metaphorical (and sometimes) literal covers over my head to "surrender the day" (lovely image, Dar)...

I'd been reading about Spectacle, Elvis Costello's show on The Sundance Channel, most recently on the Joni-list, and had been meaning to get around to checking it out... but hadn't yet - rewind to the first paragraph of this post, in which I read LD's entry, watched the YouTube video of Jesse Winchester's song and bawled like a f*cking baby. The single tear trickling down Neko Case's cheek had been preceded by coursing tracks of my own, during which time I experienced an epiphany visceral and profound - why hadn't I been paying attention to the signs, the portents, the attempts at introduction, all these months?!?

I am fond of quoting the Buddhist proverb that "the teacher appears when the lesson is ready to be learned" - I can honestly say, at that moment, a weight was lifted... my grief began to dissipate... and a message was delivered. I am allowed to mourn but there will be no more wallowing - Mom was letting me know that I need to find my "be here now" self again...

So... I've been scrambling like a madwoman (in a good way, Martha!) with the OnDemand feature of my cable company - I found the full episode and watched it (at 3 a.m.) and I viewed, at 11 this morning, a re-run of Spectacle, Season 1 with Norah Jones, John Mellencamp, Rosanne Cash and Kris Kristofferson... and f*cking cried all over again...

During the course of the show, Kris said the song he was about to perform was inspired by a scene from Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath... and that Johnny Cash wrote in his autobiography that it might be his favorite song - I am still astonished this tune has been floating around out there for 28 years... and this morning was the first time I'd heard/heard of it...

There are two more episodes available for viewing OnDemand... and I've bookmarked those for later in the day ("the teacher appears" indeed) - lesson learned... and I'm off to follow the trail of Jesse, Neko, The Decemberists, Brandi, Andrew Bird, Avett Brothers... and all those other musical breadcrumbs that have been left for me in the last year, if I'd only been listening (pun fully intended!)...

P.S. Not to jinx myself but... I realize this is my fourth post in as many days - I do believe the epiphany extends to acknowledging a desire to embrace life once again...

P.P.S. I am quite proud of the fact that Richard Julian (who used to open for Norah Jones and then segued to being a member of her band, The Little Willies, while retaining his solo singer-songwriter status) appeared in my house concert series in June 2002 - okay... I have/had my moments of coolness... :-)

SONG: Here Comes That Rainbow Again by Kris Kristofferson

BOOK: The Soul Would Have No Rainbow if the Eyes Had No Tears and Other Native American Proverbs by Guy Zona

POEM(S): Back Yard by Elizabeth Spires

It didn't rain.
And it didn't rain.
And it didn't rain.
Returning, after a month away,
from a place up north.
we saw the parched and dying yard,
the hose coiled like a snake.

As if the present were past,
I walk from this thing to that,
touching dry leaves.
Here is my daughter's herb garden
where we buried the snail.
Here is the dogwood
that bloomed when T. was dying.
Here is the sunflower, ravaged by July,
and here is the rose of Sharon
coming, in August, into its own.
Here. Here. And here.
The arbor. The wisteria.
The bamboo, tenacious as ever.
The empty swing, motionless in the heat.

The Beautiful Lawn Sprinkler by Howard Nemerov

What gives it power makes it change its mind
At each extreme, and lean its rising rain
Down low, first one and then the other way;
In which exchange humility and pride
Reverse, forgive, arise, and die again,
Wherefore it holds at both ends of the day
The rainbow in its scattering grains of spray.

QUOTE: "My deepest impulses are optimistic, an attitude that seems to me as spiritually necessary and proper as it is intellectually suspect." ~ Ellen Willis

Friday, January 1, 2010

Black Crow (Joni Mitchell)

As has been my tradition, I have chosen and unveiled a Word of the Year each January 1 - some years have been more effective than others but, rather than emphasizing broad goals and resolutions, it helps me keep some sense of priority as to what I'd like to work on in my life for the next 365 days!

After much pondering, I've decided on Follow-Through as my word for 2010 - I am the first to admit that I have the best of intentions in anything I do... and come off the starting block fast and furious... only to fizzle out before the finish line. It's a combination of low energy, limited time and boundless To-Do's... but there is really no excuse for my lack of completion - I have vowed that, over the next 12 months, rather than having a million things hanging over my head, I will do my very best to deal with issues as they come to me, in a no-nonsense, "one touch", make-it-happen way...

It gets frustrating, always allowing myself to be distracted (look, something shiny!) - focus, Susan, focus... :-)

P.S. I received a phone call earlier this evening from a dear friend who, for various reasons, I have been out of contact with for the last 2+ years - it was a surprise and a joy to have an extended conversation, picking up where we left off ("in search of love and music" indeed, Joni!). He told me that a new year is meant to bring about action in some form or another - I am immensely grateful the thought extended in my direction...

SONG: Black Crow by Joni Mitchell

BOOK(S): The Follow-Through Factor: Getting from Doubt to Done by Gene C. Hayden

Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload by Lucy Jo Palladino

POEM: The Year by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of the year.

QUOTE: "Every new year people make resolutions to change aspects of themselves they believe are negative. A majority of people revert back to how they were before and feel like failures. This year I challenge you to a new resolution. I challenge you to just be yourself." ~ Aisha Elderwyn