Archive for the ‘guitar’ Category

A shining. . .

June 2, 2008

There are some evenings that simply glow, and this is one of them.

I have been absent from this space for awhile, and I apologize. I had many things that I thought of writing about, but when I sat down in front of the screen, they didn’t happen.

I don’t know if it was a delayed response to my brother’s death or some other form of malfeasance of the spirit, but I just didn’t want to write.

But tonight I am full of joy. It’s Ben’s birthday, and our daughter Inger has come to visit. She brought with her an electric bass guitar and a 12-string acoustic that she rescued from oblivion. For the last hour or so I’ve ducked out and listened from the sidelines to Ben (one of the finer guitar players I’ve ever known) showing her little tips and tricks.

Ben and I play the guitar. Ben is proficient, I am competent. Inger does not play, has never played, but something caused this leap of faith that she could play. And I suspect she will. I hope she finds the same magic in it that I have.

I worried when she was young because she did not sing. I grew up singing, and I thought everyone did. Now she is seemingly discovering her music, and that makes me very happy.

My daughter has given me so much joy in life. It pleases me immensely to watch her finding her own joy.

Another day, another $.50, blah, blah

May 6, 2007

Elsewhere, Rabbit has written aabout the difficulty of writing in a blog when you don’t feel like you have anything to say. But she is determined to write anyway, and I applaud that.

So I’ll try to emulate her example even though I still don’t have anything remarkable (or perhaps even worth remarking on) to say.

My daughter is out visiting this weekend, so I’ve actually had a rather enjoyable day. We listened today to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” my favorite NPR show, and are still laughing tonight over dinner at one of the new stories.

A group of kindergarten children in California were completely traumatized, to the point that they went home and told their parents, by an old weird man with a guitar who came to their school and sang really scary songs. The story: Bob Dylan decided to entertain his grandson’s kindergarten class. Presumably the teacher was old enough to be a Dylan fan and acquiesced. This was the result.

Today I planted onions and beans to join the rest of the crops already there. I’m fighting with my in-house starts–squash, cukes, and melons, for the most part. I picked up a seed packet a week or so ago to read it and almost fell on the floor laughing. When I could talk again, I read it to Ben: “Plant a week after the last frost, when soil temperature reaches 70 degrees.” Here in the Northwest, soil temperature reaches 70 degress about 4 months after the last frost, so clearly alternative methods are called for.

I don’t yet have a greenhouse, so I start these things on my kitchen counter. From a temperature standpoint, it works pretty well, but my kithcen has limited daylight, so as soon as the seeds sprout, they start getting really leggy and I have to move them outside where even when the weather is clear the temperatures aren’t what one would want. I’ll be able to give you a better report on success in a couple of months.

Today we made apricot scones and bacon for breakfast, catch-as-catch-can lunch, and  grilled fresh halibut with steamed broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes for dinner. It was actually pretty yummy.

The current New Yorker magazine has a terrific profile of Barack Obama. Despite my apoliticism, this young man has appeal for me. I’ve seen him in live TV appearances a couple of times, and I’ve always come away impressed. He reminds me a little of JFK, and for a lot of the same reasons–an outsider, limited experience, a member of the “other” (people have forgotten what a big deal it was that Kennedy was Catholic), and seemingly infinitely calm and sane.

It’s hard to say what Kennedy would have left as a legacy had he survived. I don’t really understand why anyone would want to be president of this country. It seems to age everyone who serves at an incredible rate. But Obama’s reason seems as good as any–he thinks he has something “special” to offer. 

OK, I’ve done my $.50 worth for today.

Be careful what you wish for: Department of Unexpected Consequences

March 13, 2007

Things are very odd around here right now. Our spring has become much more silent.

A post or two ago I was rhapsodizing over the appearance of a bird we believe is a merlin, a species of falcon. This bird preys on other birds. It likes to pluck them right from the air or from the ground where they are feeding and devour them, leaving only a pile of feathers for evidence. And there are plenty of feather piles around the meadow.

Result: Most of our birds have moved out. The flock of juncos that hung around the yard have disappeared. I haven’t seen the kinglets all week. The robins, newly back from their winter residence, have done the same. The hummers are fine. I suspect they’re not worth fooling with. As Ben is fond of pointing out, it would take at least 1,000 hummers to make a decent hummingbird tongue sandwich. . .

I’m not too worried yet. When you live in the country for awhile, you discover that everything is cyclical. It’s like the logging. It’s a necessary function, and where we live the trees grow back so fast you hardly have time to notice they’re gone. (That comment will probably get me some hate mail, but I’m tough, and I actually believe that. In my tenure here, most of our valley has been logged. If it’s done with care and replanted promptly, it just makes for healthier landscape.)

My prediction: As his food supply dries up, the merlin will move on. Then the birds will come back. We have one of the last largely undisturbed good-sized parcels of property in the area. The birds love that, and they’ll be back. But in the meantime it’s weird.

For those of you who think nature is largely kind, serene, and beautiful, well, all I can say is that you’ve probably never lived with it. I just hope the merlin likes squab and sticks around long enough to lay real waste to the pigeons. We don’t use poisons and such. You just need to find the right natural antidote to whatever is causing you grief.

But spring keeps on springing–trilliums poking up everywhere, today the Solomon’s seal is up in my back yard, a real (purple, not the yellow “wood” kind) violet is blooming in the backyard, the plum trees in blossom. It’s lovely. But I’m missing the plethora of songbirds.

Yesterday I was treated to the non-stop operation of two brush saws for several hours. Ben and Ralph were clearing the salmonberry and ferns that shelter the rodents that do so much damage. If we eliminate their cover, our owls will take care of them for us. The guys made a heck of a mess, but I’ve put my trusty new pink rake into action, and it’s getting cleared away.

Unless something untoward happens, I’ll be MIA tomorrow. I’m going to take a run up to Portland for an evening meeting, spend the night at my daughter’s house, visit the tax man on Wednesday morning, then go on a profligate shopping spree at Kitchen Kaboodle and New Seasons. I have a long list, and the advantage of going to the store instead of the Web site is that you never know what else you might find.

I’ll stop on the way to town for a visit with my brother and his wife. His interim radiation treatments (to try to shrink the size of the tumor and relieve his headaches) start tomorrow morning. I know he’s feeling housebound after being so active, so I’m taking him my Gibson Hummungbird guitar to fool with. I play my little Guild F20 when I play anymore, so maybe this will take his mind off some of the ugliness.

He heard from the Boston hospital and they’ve told him to sign up as a patient. Then they mentioned that they’ve lost all his records and need to find them so they can do the evaluation. As Ralph says, there’s never a sense of urgency unless you’re the one who’s dying. So it looks like a trip to Boston may be in my near future. It’s probably my favorite city in the U.S., but I’d rather be going for different reasons.

Now it’s time to get the heck off of here and go put the vegetables in the pot roast. The bread is cooling on the rack.