Archive for the ‘music’ 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.

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Tapping on the Buddha’s nose: a dilemma

March 20, 2008

So, I have this new toy, and it’s presenting me with a bit of a dilemma. I’m relying on my faithful blog readers to help me resolve it.

A friend who is an excellent metal sculptor made me a steel drum after learning how enamored I was of the music I heard in the Caribbean. It’s not your standard professional model. It’s a work of art. Hammered on the drum is what I think Fritz intended to be a sun with rays extending out to the edges.

However, the sun’s face looks exactly like the Buddha. If I had never noticed this, it would have been no problem. But since I have, I’m asking this question:

If I hit the Buddha’s nose with my mallet, and I being disrespectful?

I await your answers. This kind of thing keeps me awake all night.

Guaranteed to offend someone, but probably not the irish

March 18, 2007

OK, I admit it. I’m suffering another allergic reaction to political correctness. St. Patrick’s Day has brought it on, and there’s probably no treatment for it but to break out in a rant.

Tonight I bundled up Brenda and we drove to town. We met my brother and his wife there to go to a reading of some prose work by Geronimo Tagatac, a very talented Oregon writer. On the way to town, I started to lose the OPB signal and switched the radio off. Brenda said, “Oh, oh. I forgot to reset Ralph’s radio, the one he listens to in the morning. I changed the station because I was tired of listening to Irish music.”

The reading was terrific and we all had a good time, but on the way home I started thinking about what Brenda had said. I really like Celtic music, but the ballads and instrumentals can pall if you’re in the mood for something else.

My grandmother taught me a lot of Irish songs. She grew up with them; she loved them. She passed them on. St. Patrick’s day was often a raucous occasion around our house. We all new the words to some pretty irreverant and very feisty songs (she taught us some pretty ones, too, like “Irish Lullaby” and “Danny Boy”). And she taught us American songs written about the Irish.

Some of them are probably still played today. At least as I remember the words, “McNamara’s Band” was very lively but pretty innocuous. But I can remember shouting out the words to “Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder?” and falling on the floor laughing. That song will never be played on the radio today, at least not with the words I learned for it. And I think we are the poorer for that.

Please spare me from the sanitization of our wonderful and various cultures. Something has been lost in our anxiety not to offend, and I miss it. I don’t believe in saying hurtful things, but if someone were to call me a “Mick,” I think a great smile might break out on my face.

It’s definitely spring–the owls are mating

February 13, 2007

I think I’ve mentioned the spotted owls singles’ bar above our house before. Well, it’s definitely spring, and the spotted owls are hooting again. We’ve heard them the last few evenings, but tonight they have moved across the road to the neighbors’ stand of trees. However–

I think the reason they moved is a great one. Tonight there is a great horned owl (GHO)¬†calling in the trees not far from our house. As nearly as we can determine, he’s in about the same location as the last place a GHO nested on our property–on the trail to the spring where it could scare the c— out of Ben when he went up to check the water.

These are BIRDS. They’re about two feet tall with a very wide wingspread. They wait in their nests until you’re right under them and then flap out through the forest like a freight train or a bear in the brush. You have to stop and let your heart rate return to something resembling normal before continuing up the trail.

Their call is almost the reverse of the spotted owl’s call. It’s a “hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo, hoo” in a sort of baritone. Very lovely. And we’re very glad to have one back. We haven’t heard them for several years now.

The birds are the best music of all. This morning I heard a whole slew of never-heard-before calls. It made my day.

There are pink somethings coming up in my little flower bed. I have no idea what they are. Ben says he thinks they’re blackberries. I hope not, because I actually replanted one I dug up when I was weeding. I think they actually may be something I planted years ago, but I have no idea what. I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. In the meantime, the first tulips are popping through, and I think the first daffodils will bloom within a week. The hellebores (Lenten roses) are blooming already. Seems very early, but I guess technically Lent is upon us.

I’m getting ready to go cook a risotto. I’ve got a whole bunch of leftovers that need to be used, including some wonderful slices of roast pork with picatta sauce that I think will serve very well. And I can bring the thing to a boil and set it on the living room stove to finish while I toss a salad. Yum-m-m-m.

Now off to dinner and another installment of my geology DVDs. I spent some time today reading about the earth and its beginnings. There is a poem here. I know it. I’ll find it.

Blackberries, bread, the joy of science, and other randomata

February 1, 2007

This post will probably make my friend Phil unhappy again, but I hope he’ll forgive me.

It’s been a busy two days. Yesterday I spent all day going down to Waldport for my writers’ group meeting. That was fun. Tuesday is my day for me. The weather was gorgeous, the beaches lovely, and all in all it left me feeling rested and refreshed. Today was a different matter.

I started bread mid-morning, and things didn’t go right from the start. I know where I fouled it up. I proofed the yeast in water that was just too warm. When I looked at it, I knew that, but I used it anyway. And it worked, sort of, but it’s not up to the standard I’m used to. I’m sitting here waiting for the timer bell to see how dreadful it really is. If it’s too bad, I’ll go bonk moles on the head with it.

But while the bread was rising (or in this case not rising very well) I went out and worked on the area behind the house that’s been so neglected. That’s where the blackberries come in, and the part that will probably upset Phil.

As I may have mentioned, we have three separate and distinct forms of blackberries here: mountain berries, Himalayas, and ground berries. I love the taste of blackberries. I buy blackberry yogurt, blackberry scones, make blackberry pies and cobblers, and so on.

But I think how you feel about blackberry bushes is really dependent on where you live. I live on a hundred acres of subtropical rain forest. We had just an inch shy of 100 inches of rain last year. I have seen blackberry bushes put on as much as 6 feet of new growth on a single runner in a day. Keeping them under control is a major problem. If you don’t keep them under control, they quickly take over and suffocate everything else.

A friend of mine who lives in eastern Oregon (where they get about one-tenth the rain we do) once wrote me proudly that he had trellised the blackberries in his yard. After I picked myself up off the floor from laughing so hard, I wrote him back a sort of smart-aleck note that I suspect insulted him. But the truth of the matter is that here the only way you can really pick berries in quantity is to throw a piece of plywood across the front of the mound of bushes and walk up on it to get to where the really good berries are. The blackberry bushes suffer from this for at least an hour and half. Then they grow another six feet.

But the worst are the ground berries. They crawl along the ground taking root every few inches, or send a runner root snaking out 4-5 feet with a bud every few inches that will grow into a new plant. So I spent most of the afternoon pulling these plants and roots out of the duff in my little garden area behind the house. I killed a lot of blackberries today, or at least I will have if we actually get them hauled away before the root at the edge of the golf course/meadow.

I sat up late last night to hear the last of my “Joy of Science” lectures and discovered another reason that SETI research my not succeed that’s sort of related to the one Brent pointed out. Any intelligent life able to communicate would quickly become bored with radio technology and switch to something more advanced. So there might be a very narrow window in time for all of those radio signals to succeed.

I don’t know if you’ve ever even heard of The Teaching Company, but they’re willing to teach you something on almost any topic you want to know about. These are individual courses offered on CD or DVD or both, depending on the importance of visuals to the course. The courses rang in length from 12 half-hour lectures to 84 half-hour lectures. I’ve done several of their courses, the latest being the 60-lecture “Joy of Science.” I think what I like best is that they help me put a lot of the miscellaneous information I’ve accumulated in a lifetime into a greater context.

Ben just interrupted me to come hear a tape of him playing the guitar and singing a little more than 38 years ago. It was about the time I met him. He’s had these reel-to-reel tapes all this time and no way to play them. But that’s story for another time. Remind me to tell you about music and Guild guitars if I forget.

Now, my dinger just went off and I need to go see how bad the damage really is.