Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Music I like’ Category

I have a lot of Christmases under my belt.

There were those when I was a kid and followed my mom’s tree-decorating dictates demanding tinsel was to be strung one … strand … at …a … time, then collected in the same fashion when the holiday finished, put away carefully, then stored for the next year. (I swear she was still using some 1958 tinsel in 2010!)

The years my first batch of children were little were at times fraught, but we always had a tree with gifts under it and Santa always did his midnight visit. We’d open gifts and such, then go to Grandma’s house for the feast that never varied. (Okay, once it varied; mom made orange jello-mold salad with carrots instead of green jello-mold salad with the alternating pineapple slice/cherry pattern we’d grown up with. She never heard the end of it … nor did she ever again try that sketchy menu change.)

When those kids were older, money was less an issue and the house was much bigger, so the tree was a sixteen-footer and decked to the halls. Gifts were more lavish and home was the gathering place for relatives from near and far. My brothers played basketball in my living room, the turkey was huge and the table could sit 25.

One Christmas found me in Australia with a family that wasn’t mine, but was still family and lovely. It was my first ‘Summer Christmas’ and a pool party was a novel idea in my mind that took a bit of adjusting to, but there were laughs and fun … and the fire to roast chestnuts was a barbecue. I had my first Pavlova that year and I heartily recommend that addition to the traditional meal no matter where you are.

Christmas in England encouraged every Dickensian fantasy I’d ever had, and my daughter’s decision to spend the holiday with me over the pond made it pretty perfect. We were introduced to crackers and crowns and the weather gave us a bit more perspective on poor old Bob Cratchit’s issues with coal.

By the time the holiday rolled around in Seychelles I was accustomed to the Beach Christmas concept and surrounded by friends. Christmas gatherings were huge affairs attended by people from many countries speaking often up to 10 languages, all bringing their own flavors in food, traditions and entertainment. One year we had Shetland Island folk songs played on mandolin and fiddle by an authentic Shetland Islander, and a fabulously funny game of euphemisms … another word for the male member, the sex act, etc. … which allowed submissions from any language.

Once Sam and Cj joined the family Christmas was again about kids.The tree went up, the house draped in various sorts of holiday tat, gifts went under the tree. We’d host a party Christmas eve, then trot up to Gay’s for what had become the traditional food Bacchanal with participation of people from all over the world. The last time this happened was 2 years ago and the festivities of the Eve and the Day included folks with roots in Seychelles, England, Kenya, South Africa, the USA, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Italy, and probably a few I’m not recalling.

Last year I was back in England to celebrate with the kids in their home-from-home. To say there was a bittersweetness to it would be an understatement, but the ‘sweet’ was very and the ‘bitter’ was easily swallowed. To Cj’s disappointment, it didn’t snow, but it was cold enough to warrant extra coal on the fire. The circle of family had expanded wonderfully and embraced all.

Yes, so many Christmases under my belt.

This one, however …

For the first time in my life I am alone for Christmas. I have already watched the 1951 version (my fav) of “A Christmas Carol” AND “It’s a Wonderful Life” as tradition dictates, but must admit that big a dose of the ‘spirit’ didn’t help much.

Yeah, yeah … I know there are a load of songs on being alone for Christmas, but listening to any of them is not on my to-do list. I’m at loose ends, confounded, stuck between I-don’t-give-a-shit and bawling.

But I’m a grownup, FFS, fully aware that for millions of people this is just another day, and millions of others haven’t one-tenth-of-one-percent of what I have to be grateful and happy for.

Thanks to the age we live in, I will Skype with my kids on Christmas Day … a gift beyond measure! I can take a bottle of wine to the beach and toast the holiday, the ocean, the sky above me and the Earth beneath my feet … and be thankful. I can reflect on Christmas Past, ponder the years, remember those who are no longer reachable by technology, and I can set my focus for the positives.

And I will do all those things. But today, the day before Christmas Eve, I’m indulging in a bit of some whine in the sun. (Poor me. What a bummer. If wishes were horses I’d be elsewhere. Etc., etc., etc. ad nauseam.)

Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas filled with love and food and making merry. I will raise a glass to all with love and hope and to Christmas Yet To Come!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Communication this morning with my friend Paul Leslie has sent me on a breadcrumb chase down memory lane.

An upcoming interview he has scheduled with Peter Noone takes me back to the early days of puberty, that transforming time of budding and busting out of childhood more formative in solid fashion than the proceeding years.

Like most young girls at the time and place, the “British Invasion” took me by a storm of hormones and set the tone for a lifelong predilection for musicians that’s plunged me into more trouble that I’m admitting today.

So many of those mop-headed young men were compelling in so many ways, and … GAWD! … were they cute! FFS, even Keith Richards was pretty at the time.

As King of Cute Mountain, Peter Noone … whose full name — Peter Blair Dennis Bernard Noone — I committed to memory … was an easy crush.

Okay, ‘Herman’s Hermits’ has a hokier-than-hell ring now, but back in the day when monikers like Beatles and Moby Grape were sigh prompters and Steppenwolf was almost OTT intellectual no one was a quick critic of band names. And it was cute.

Cute equalled perfection as estrogen production began; too much “manly” was off-putting, frightening even, for a 14-year-old whose fantasy life was still limited to snogging and maybe the occasional slow dance.

And Peter Noone was such safe fodder. With the widest, warmest smile in Pop and songs like “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”, welcoming him into the imagination was like a slide into a warm bath with a kind of hush.

As I grew up, I lost much of my taste for sugar in my tea and learned to prefer the harsh bite of lemon in tequila and men and music that could scare me just a bit, but pretty men still turn my head and a nice smile still generates heat.

Paul asked if I had a question I’d like him to pose to Peter. I can’t think of one, but it would be nice to pass along how I appreciate his contribution of sweetness to my youth.

Read Full Post »

Photo credit: Wiki imagesA long-tailed tropic bird lifts and turns and swoops over my valley, sculpting shapes from the morning breeze while brandishing a glint of the rising sun on white wings.

It’s going to be a hot one today; clear, yet steamy with the infusion of last night’s rain upping the humidity ante considerably — not a bad thing, being good for the skin and all.

And so begins the last day of my decade that starts with a five.

In reading over words others have written on approaching senectitude I find myself nodding in agreement with some, railing against others, and taking some comfort in the idea I’m far from alone in my ponderings and in interesting company.

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. ~Oscar Wilde

I’m sixty tomorrow (Did I just write that?), still too young to use the word “spry” when self-identifying, so figure Judith Regan’s line can be useful: The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible.

I can do that. Most of the time.

Anniversaries of my birth, however, have long been cause for itchy, scratchy contemplation, and the round numbers ever more so.

There is still no cure for the common birthday.
~John Glenn

As I write, the kids are off with Gay plotting something for the occasion, their enthusiasm bubbling over, excitement erupting in giggles from Cj and admonishments from Sam to keep the bubbles as thoughts so as not to spoil surprises.

Cute and wonderful as it is, the numbers stick in my throat as Cj’s six years get multiplied by ten in my mirror and I check out my reflection for its giggle factor. Single-parenting at 60 was not in the draft of any plan I recall making, but for the life of me I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now if I didn’t have these two marvels keeping my giggle factory up and running.

It’s funny how life loops around, where a wonky trajectory leads, and how stacking decades fashions unexpected architecture that manages to weather storms, deflect shit asteroids and remain standing even with foundations set in jello.

When I indulge myself and send up birthday wish-shaped smoke signals they look like more conventional structures with security struts, corridors that lead somewhere predictable, doors that open and stay that way, closed doors with working locks, storerooms stocked with other than anxiety. But after 59 years of sending such into the cosmos I’m not expecting much more than an ash blowback.

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
~H.L. Mencken

Have I lived 59 years and 364 days unwisely? I can hear the “You betcha! You’ve done some really stupid shit!” from here, yet regrets, I have a few, but, then again, too few to mention. Rather a waste of time and energy at this point in the journey.

When looking at it all backwards it’s hard to feel remorse when what could be considered mistakes in judgement manifested in some wonderful ways. None of my children are acts of contrition and some of the dumbest things I’ve done have wrangled themselves into experiences it would not have been good to miss.

The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it.
~Arthur Schopenhauer

Seems turning toward 60 I’m still gathering material … commentary to follow if there’s ever the time … and although it’s with neither enthusiasm nor delight I hit this wall — more trepidation and its accompanying angst — I have always been a fan of irony.

Read Full Post »

Tonight's sunset.

I think of my son often, and on evenings alone on the veranda watching the sunset he comes to mind in a way that always makes me smile.

The opening line of one of Jaren’s songs, “Swedish Nutball”, resonates as the sun sinks way too fast into the western sky.

I can feel the rotation of the earth …

I pretty much stop right there, as the rest of the lyrics aren’t exactly conducive to contemplating a lovely end to a day, but there is no doubt I do … feel the rotation of the earth.

Those who’ve never seen the face of Sol plunge at speed into that end of the ocean called Horizon near the Equator are missing one of our planet’s best thrill rides.

From the first kiss of sun to sea to the last wink of brightness over Horizon’s lip all of about 4 minutes pass … the sucker drops like a stone, so fast there is no question or quibbling over just how fast this globe we’re stuck to spins. Whooooooosh!

I own a vast amount of E tickets for this ride and try not to miss it as it comes around almost exactly every twenty-four hours, year in and year out. Being four degrees south of the North/South dividing line, the time varies by no more than a few minutes. Rather than longer days and shorter nights, or vice versa, we in the middle just see the sunset swing from one area of ocean to another, then back over the course of the year. (Google “Declination” if you’re interested, as for some reason the link won’t post.)

Most days I sit and watch, either a cup of tea or glass of wine at hand, but sometimes I do choose to stand for the event. Staring at our star as it does its dip, the beautifully illustrated awareness of how bloody fast this planet spins, can almost make me dizzy.

I live on the west coast of Mahé, a situation I love since it gives me this drama rather than the early morning show of the sun doing his impression of a Pop-Tart emerging from a toaster.

I tend to avoid the bugger as much as possible during that chariot ride it takes across the sky, seeing as how fried is not my best look, but when I see him heading toward the high dive to prepare for the plunge I will drop what I’m doing to watch the form, the style and the amazing ovation the sky and clouds give once he’s gone and the way that echos across the ocean.

That the show is all mine is special, but sharing the ride makes it even better.

Here’s Jaren NOT singing about sunsets …

And, yes, what I’m thinking now, he thought of first.

Read Full Post »

Chopin's grave: 2 June 2010

A few days ago I came across this story on the BBC about some long-lost letters from Frederic Chopin that kicked off a series of brain flares.

Six letters written by Frederic Chopin, thought to be lost in 1939, have been found and donated to a Warsaw museum dedicated to the Polish composer.

The letters, written by Chopin to his parents and sisters between 1845 and 1848, were believed lost after the outbreak of World War II.

After it emerged in 2003 that they still existed in a private collection, moves were made to secure them.

Chopin was born in Poland in 1810 but spent half of his life in France.

According to museum curator Alicja Knast, the letters were last displayed in public in Poland in 1932 and were still confirmed as being in Warsaw in 1939.

It is thought the letters went missing, like many other cultural artefacts, after the Nazis invaded Poland.

There’s a bit of family humor that came to mind immediately, as I have a step-nephew whose birth took my father in a literary direction … as was often his angle. Born to my Chinese sister, Debbie, and her Japanese husband, Dad decided the kids needed a nickname. What came to mind were a couple of James Clavell novels … Shogun and Tai-Pan, one being set in Japan, the other in China. He called the boy “Taigun”, because, as he said, “Sho-pan” wouldn’t work because he was Polish.

From there I jumped to Paris where I shot the photo you see here at the grave of the real Chopin on a day I solitarily rambled the Pére Lachaise Cemetery in the company of my son’s spirit on the first anniversary of his death … Jaren’s, not Chopin’s.

So it was the second of June last year I sat for a time at Chopin’s grave. Listening in my head to his “Nocturn”, I contemplated the accomplishments of his mere 39 years of life and, in keeping with my situation at that moment, his doomed relationship with the writer George Sand and the heartbreak that virtually ended his days as a composer … and as a man among the living.

His grave is lovely, a peaceful, perpetually flower-strewn resting place reminding all of not only the music, but also the passionate transplanted Pole amongst Parisians … his heart, by the way, rests in Poland at his wish it be removed upon his death and buried there … the complicated lover to a complicated woman.

As often is the case with artists, neither Chopin nor Sand were easy and their relationship was unconventional. She was an older woman with strong passions of her own and a long string of relationships.

“She was a thinking bosom and one who overpowered her young lovers, all Sybil — a Romantic.”
~ V.S. Pritchett

He was physically weak and needed such babying she referred to him often as her “third child” and a “beloved little corpse”.

Artistically, neither were easy:

Chopin is at the piano, quite oblivious of the fact that anyone is listening. He embarks on a sort of casual improvisation, then stops. ‘Go on, go on,’ exclaims Delacroix, ‘That’s not the end!’ ‘It’s not even a beginning. Nothing will come … nothing but reflections, shadows, shapes that won’t stay fixed. I’m trying to find the right colour, but I can’t even get the form …’ ‘You won’t find the one without the other,’ says Delacroix, ‘and both will come together.’ ‘What if I find nothing but moonlight?’ ‘Then you will have found the reflection of a reflection.’

That they lived and loved and died is history, as everything eventually becomes. Their lives were what they were, and 162 years after his death he fills me with music and sets me to pondering the bumpy, uncomfortable roads traveled and the resulting detritus of our journeys.

The news that letters have been found feels almost like a gift from that grave I visited, and I’m more than pleased that email wasn’t an option in those years between 1845 and 1848 when he wrote them.

I’ve not seen the letters, and it doesn’t matter much if I never do. Here, however, is an example of him finding the reflection of a reflection:

Read Full Post »

Cleaning out Lent


Sisterhood

Girls! We’re tough
we’re smart, we’re strong
and even those don’t get along
should know that cheating on the sisterhood
will never do but some ass mister good
We’re women and together we can
hold the man in a firm hand
to limits that constrict his playing
And when we share the shit he’s saying
he has no choice but to confess when
all that bullshit he’s professin’
might actually achieve some traction
to those who don’t quite get his action.

Yes, Girls! We’re tough
we’re smart, we’re strong
Could give a shit about a song
composed of lies. Don’t sing along
Instead believe your sisters good
rely upon the sisterhood
and learn the answers you must find
are for the sharing … we don’t mind …
It is so right to tell what we know
and help you to avoid the blow.
You may not thank us then, or now,
preferring to be some dumb cow
who buys it all, just laps it up
but those who have drunk from that cup
know too well that taste of poison
have heard those nasty notes of noise, and
have come out the other side
still in tact, and with our pride.

Girls! We’re tough
we’re smart, we’re strong.

Sack of shit

A sack of shit
I stepped in it
It made a mess of my shoe

Gave it a toss
Said adios
And finally I’m done with you

And now a bit of music …

Read Full Post »

Anse Soleil rainbow

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I woke this morning to an odd dream, not unpleasant, set in Victoria Lodge, a fab Five Star B&B in North Devon that belongs to my friend, Jacqueline. It’s a beautiful place in a lovely English village on the Bristol Channel where I passed my days walking Jac’s sweetie of a greyhound through the Valley of the Rocks as I pondered my future.

Jac’s friendship and hospitality were huge gifts, and her house was my bolt-hole, a life-saving haven, a calm harbor in a storm-tossed sea.

I awoke with a smile, although wondering why such strong images of that time and place presented today …

until …

I drifted into full consciousness and realized today’s date: 2 March.

It was on this day in 2008 my husband of 15 years informed me of his betrayal and plans to hit the ejector seat button on our life together. Nope, didn’t see that coming, and the sideswipe almost send me careening off a cliff.

Mark was the man I’d left my life behind for, my trusted partner in building a future from scratch, in parenting two children, the only person I’d ever felt completely safe with.

Shit happens.

Three years have come and gone, and although I can too vividly recall the moment life’s path forked drastically I’m still following my feet. The road’s been rocky and strewn with potholes and no few twists have needed navigating, but it is what it is.

I’m surprised to find this date so deeply burned into my psyche that a dream as profound as this morning’s presents even with no conscious connection, but it’s often my inner awareness that keeps better track than my waking mind. I’m too busy to dwell upon losses and it’s the future I must look to, not the shadows of what might have been.

I’ve taken my lumps and my lessons … and the gifts that came with. I’ve had some amazing moments that could not have happened if the path had not diverted and managed to love and be loved again. There’s been music created and named for me, some magical experiences, joy-filled pauses that required a change in circumstance to occur.

Three years ago, I could no more have predicted a moonlit proposal or a romantic wander through ancient pyramids than a visit to Mars, but those happened and wouldn’t have had the shit not happened, too.

Of course, Sam and Cj are blessings, and they alone provide all the “reason” there would ever need to be for the path to have wandered where it did.

So, there are no regrets … simply memories and the knowledge that what happens, happens, and will keep on happening. There is more life behind me than ahead, but that’s no reason to live in the past. The future won’t play out as long, but I’m still in the game, and although I have no expectation that the rest of my road will be smooth there will be reasons to smile.

Today, as I remember my losses, I look forward to gains with gratitude for the fact that it’s rarely been dull.

The last year alone provided enough not-dull to spawn a raft of words (Check out “It Gets Verse”, a book of poems that spilled out in 2010.), and continues to inspire.

So, on that note, I’ll close with a bit more wisdom gathered, more experience collected, more words strung together as life goes on …

Scoundrel

What is it with a man
who has it in his head
that no matter the hour
and the fact that I’m in bed
can’t stop his hands from dialing
my number every night
with a need to tell me often
how his life is now a fright?

I don’t want to hear his needing
or his fucking endless pleading
for the chance to maybe seeding
a new bed

He has sown those seeds to women
who have no idea he’s givin’
it about around the world from here to there
(And I wish so he’d get out my damned hair)
But me, I learned my lesson
and no longer spend time guessin’
if he’s lying or he’s truthful
cuz there’s no doubt that what’s useful
it’s the only motivation
he can bear

He’s as shallow as a puddle
and although he seems a muddle
he has all his ducks so lined up in a row
that he’s aimed upon his targets
and the women he has marks up
are too clueless in their thoughts
that he’s their beau.

He is yours if you deliver
and he’ll have you all a quiver
just as long as there’s a payoff in the end
For he goes nowhere ‘les it’s paid for
but you’re guaranteed a lay, for
he’s a horny little bugger,
(Ask his “friends”!)

So, Yo! New girls …

Never say I didn’t warn you
Give your heart and see it torn, you
should really pay attention when I say
he’s a lyin’, cheatin’ scoundrel
fewer morals than a hound, you’ll
be knowing this already in a way
But you’re probably ignoring
all the signs that you’re deploring
and pretending that I have gone away

And I have, at least I try to
but he’ll never let it lie, too
much ego in the man to let me be
Plus he loves the life that I live
and he’s hoping I might still give
him what I have, or half,
and all for free
with not even any word of
honesty, that’s just unheard of
in that world of his that’s all about “ME, ME!”

Yes … I live and learn and live some more, catch whatever stardust floats by, grasp at rainbows and ride out … and write out … the rough bits.

It is what it is, intangible and indescribable as a tint of morning.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »