Lush Tuesday… page 83

Day 152 – 08/11/2020

The morning air is fresh and cool and my walk felt good. Strolled until that certain sharp poke in the hip made me head for the barn, all the time carried on the waves of a playlist provided by Thumbprint Radio on Pandora, clearly my muse. We’re like Siamese Sisters – I couldn’t have picked a better playlist on my own if I’d worked hard at it. Twelve tracks played full-on in my ears before stalling out on one that wasn’t me, from the opening piano notes of LULLABYE FOR A STORMY NIGHT by Vienna Teng to the sweet melancholy of Jim Chappell’s GONE. In the middle were his STORYTIMETHE MYSTIC’S DREAM, Jim Stubblefield… RIVER by Joni Mitchell… HOME, Michael Bublé… Sarah McLachlan’s TRAIN WRECK and FALLEN (LIVE)… two Nora Jones favorites… Eric Clapton with LAYLA (UNPLUGGED)… and finally BALLAD OF THE RUNAWAY HORSE by Jennifer Warnes. Best story song ever. It’s a little sobering how much my friend Pan knows about me but I feel so SEEN, oh wait…

Repairs are underway in the intersection below my windows and I’m watching people operate machinery just like the toys that used to live in my yard… skid-loaders, backhoes, big dump trucks, a little crawler-tractor. Pretty sure some of those guys are living the dream, and it’s a great day for it!

Leaving this here for posterity…

Photo Credit: Kim Smith

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Milestones… page 72

Day 135 – 07/25/2020

Got out and walked in the cool air just after six this morning and watched the neighborhood wake up – or not… pretty quiet Saturday so far, but Farmers’ Market was setting up and a few other walkers were out. Increased my distance this morning with half the pain, so I’m calling it a win.

When I was almost home, Kim zipped up on his bike on his way to PickleBall and got cheeky with me, so win-WIN. Sidewalk kisses under a shade tree are great any time, but they’re a must if it’s your 16th wedding anniversary when everything’s a celebration. My future looked like a blank slate to me when I was a little farm kid, but two things took shape as life materialized: I wanted to be happy… and to know that I, the authentic me, had made someone else happy. Feels like it’s all about winning today, of the satisfying kind.

Ms. Brain just asked “Where’s the music?” and now da boyz, Leon and Johnny, are in my head like the best friends they’re becoming. Mr. Russell’s soulful twang… and lord, lord, those pounding chord progressions… and Elton John being his inimitable self. Neither of them will ever know what their gifts to the world are giving to me, that farm girl who had no clue where she was going… but I hope in the economy of the universe they’re both richly repaid. And please don’t tell, but now the girl’s dancin’ to “Hey Ahab,” have mercy! Could just accidentally survive this whole catastrophe.

Things being what they are, we decided to let Anniversary Day plan itself and we’re right on schedule. We’ll have The Breakfast, as is only fitting, with The Best Salsa In The Known World, and then we’ll just hide and watch – the day will be good stuff. Tonight we have tickets for an outdoor cabaret being put on by friends – the audience sits in their cars and listens on an FM station, BYOB and popcorn, what could be better?

***********************************

So simple once you figure it out…

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Realities… page 71

Day 134 – 07/24/2020

“Every time you argue with reality, you’re going to lose.” Proven fact… want stories? John, in off moments between hospital shifts, has been sending me short self-development videos done by a young Canadian woman who’s fun to listen to and easy to look at, and her delivery is quickly growing on me. One of yesterday’s was called “How to Accept What Causes You Pain” and I found it helpful – simple reality is powerful. Here’s the link if you’re interested. It’s about ten minutes long…

Still playing with my new headphones and tracking down music on Pandora. So far this morning I’ve listened to Sam Smith’s “Fire On Fire” three times, Elton & Leon’s “Never Too Old to Hold Somebody” twice, and I revisited Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” just for old times’ sake. Speaking of old… Joe Cocker’s cover of “I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends” is staying on my playlist. But “The Union” is the album that’s putting wind in my sails just as the doldrums have settled on us in earnest, and I’ve discovered that I can match tones again, with the music directly in my head… although I only sing along when Kim’s out.

Notes on the ties between Elton John and Leon Russell:

“At the time of their first meeting, on August 26, 1970 at the Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles when Leon was in the audience during Elton’s United States debut, one of the two pianists had already written two hit songs, played on over a dozen Top 40 records, and was at the beginning of a six-year run where ten of his albums appeared on the Billboard Top 100 charts – including one live album and one greatest hits collection.

“And the other one was Elton John.

“Leon had a four-decade-wide dovetail relationship with Elton. In the 1970s, the pianist and singer from Oklahoma was a major influence on John’s early piano-playing style and song-writing. In 2010, Elton used his passion for his early mentor to record an album together [at a barebones low point in Leon’s life] and get his name back into the music lexicon, saying at the time, “If Leon can get the accolades he deserves and be financially O.K. for the rest of his life, I will have done something decent with my music,” and their collaboration eventually resulted in a Top Five album and Leon’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In Mr. Russell’s words, “Johnny found me by the side of the road and picked me up.”

In the documentary of The Union album, Leon does a run-through of “In the Hands of Angels” and Elton John breaks down in sobs against a door frame. “When he played that, we just lost it. No one has ever written me a song before. He said, ‘I want to thank you for saving my life,’ and I just burst into tears. It was the most magical of times because here was my idol accepting me. Actually, he could eat me for breakfast at playing piano.

The Union is a seminal work full of pain and promise and I can’t get enough of it in this new age of detached living.

The album came out in 2010 and Leon died six years later at age 74, releasing several more albums during that time. Thank you, Elton John, for those extra years you gifted to him and to us.

Leon Russell and Johnny …

I rode to the farm with Kim on Wednesday for pool maintenance and when we got back to town he drove me around to point out changes since the last time I stuck my nose out. We used to do that with my mother-in-law, he and I, and I sounded just like she used to… “Oh my, when did they redo THAT?” “THEY closed? Really?” “Wow, THAT’s totally different!” I love our space, the quiet, the insulation from chaos, but if we’re forced by misguided egocentric fellow citizens to remain in this state of limbo for another year to 18 months, it won’t always feel so Zen, especially when we look around at how other first-world countries have managed the pandemic – resentment is a totally human emotion and no respecter of persons. From the tone and nature of online comments, I know that people my age group and up are expendable, as are children, so home continues to be okay with me for now. Case numbers in Douglas County are over 500, with two deaths and a predominance of recoveries, so we know it’s being managed about as well as possible, but there’s just nothing I miss enough to mingle. And I could take myself for a drive any day of the week if Kim didn’t tote me along… I obviously haven’t been sufficiently motivated yet.

Past a certain age, people start to become invisible to the energetic viable world, but “Remember: when they look right through you, you’re still there.” – Guante

A tacked-on thought after an hour of internet reading: I wish people would leave Harry and Meghan alone. Love is hard. Life is hard. Relationships are hard work – let them breathe.

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The world on a blue marble…

fog

 

sunday

air cold sky gray drizzle

time for this patch of earth to be

an ice rink

again

 

good day

killer breakfast

cozy fire

man playing liquid melodies

on a champagne stratocaster

 

sweet day

snuggled in blankets

voyeurs of the sportsing

hot chocolate yes please

small world all is well

JSmith 01/7/2018

 

 

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Daily joy …

9274980-Vector-illstration-of-a-Spring-Day-with-Sunshine-and-Easter-Egg-Garden-with-grass--Stock-Vector

messy Sunday bed

singing Sunday birds so loud

sunshine lights the way

JSmith 04/16/2017

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Sacred Sound of the Universe

meditation-class-fremantle1-e1454334609459

 

Constant Reader will remember my brutal fall on the ice in January and the mystifying soundtrack that has inhabited my skull ever since. After nine months’ time, during which the music has morphed from one personality to another, and countless days when I’ve found myself astonished that Kim can’t hear it because it’s so overwhelming and all-enveloping, I’ve finally stumbled across an answer that resonates with me.

It’s a passage from THE NIX, by Nathan Hill, in a scene from the tumultuous 1960 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Allen Ginsberg has seated himself cross-legged in the grass, palms raised to the universe, listening, as the hordes of protesting flower children stream past him toward an unseen ambush.

“He wants to soothe them. ‘The way forward is like water.’ But he knows it isn’t good enough, isn’t radical enough to calm the wild appetite of the young. And so Ginsberg strokes his beard, closes his eyes, settles into his body, and answers in the only way he can, with a deep bellow from the bottom of his belly, the great Syllable, the sacred sound of the universe, the perfection of wisdom, the only noise worth making at a time like this: Ommmmm.

“He feels the hot holy breath in his mouth, the lifted-up music breath released from his lungs and his gullet, from his guts and heart, his stomach, his red blood cells and kidneys, from his gallbladder and glands and the long spindly legs he sits on, the Syllable issues from all these things. If you listen quietly and carefully, if you are calm and you slow down your heart, you can hear the Syllable in everything – the walls, the street, the cars, the soul, the sun – and soon you are no long chanting. Soon the sound settles into your skin and you are simply hearing the body make the sound it has always made: Ommmmm.”

The music inside my head is simply the sound my body has always made, and when I’m intentional about calming every cell and listening it sounds like Ommmmm, the sacred sound of the universe. It’s a G-major and I would deeply miss it now if it ever went away…

 

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

In a new post, specifically created for this challenge, share a picture which means PATTERN to you.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/weekly-photo-challenge-pattern/

Photo by Kim Smith

My beloved conservatory grand piano.  The pattern of the keys has been imprinted on my brain since the age of six.

Keys

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It’s the little things …

Daily Prompt: Describe a little thing — one of the things you love that defines your world but is often overlooked.

 

The freshly-ground coffee my husband makes every morning before my eyes are open.

That oversize steaming mug, delivered with a kiss.

Hot showers, satisfying work, the quiet rhythm of my house.

Music, music, music, under over around all of life.

Joy because this:  My husband.  My son.

The little things are the big things and there could never be just one.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/daily-prompt-little-things/

 

Music …

My husband Kim and I on mandolin and keyboard, recorded in his studio a few years ago.  This is an Irish folk tune called “Be Thou My Vision.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9At3gEBGlZs&feature=youtu.be

K&J Framed

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Life is full of joys …

Oh.My.Gosh.  My husband spent time this morning building a killer playlist for my iPhone.  Tears and chills … I could never get tired of this music.  The closing track is the two of us on keyboard and mandolin, recorded several years ago in his studio.  I somehow completely forgot we had it.  Such an amazing gift.  Bonnie Raitt’s “Feels Like Home,” playing now, says it all.  Thank you, love … for everything.

pianobr_tile_coaster

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Cleanse your soul …

Music Cleanses

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Shoulda, woulda, coulda …

WordPress Daily Prompt: Shoulda, woulda, coulda.Tell us about something you know you should do … but don’t.

These are words I try to avoid at all costs — they fall into the category of “useless thoughts and emotions.”  My heart and brain, however, recognize that, like other things we skirt around in life, they do have their place, if only as a cautionary tale.

There are things I know I should do every day — things I could do — things I would do — if only.  If only I weren’t so busy … so preoccupied … so shockingly lazy.

Every day I should spend at least an hour playing my incredible piano.  I should write constructively — or randomly — for yet another hour, minimum.  I should make the phone calls and send the emails and hand-written notes that languish in the Vault of Good Intentions.  I should keep my house spotless and the laundry forever caught up and all the bills paid immediately upon receipt.  I should walk at least two miles every single day.

The list of shoulds is virtually endless.  And the incontrovertible truth is that I could do those things.  And I would!  If only …

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/daily-prompt-shoulda/

Word Press Daily Prompt: All About Me

“Explain why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you.”

When I decided to move my blog to WordPress from another host, I wanted a new name befitting the change.  Before I had time to give any thought to the matter, the words “Playing for Time” popped into my mind.  I googled “quotes about time,” came up with Dr. Seuss’s words, “How did it get so late so soon?” and knew I had my hook.

I’m well aware that “Playing for Time” was a 1980 television film based on Fania Fenelon’s autobiography, The Musicians of Auschwitz.  Although my blog carries no such heavy significance, it does “play” into my interest in music and also the consciousness that time is passing very quickly for me now.  It just seemed right, and still feels perfect to me.

Finding myself now at retirement age, I want to fill my time with play, music, and life in general.  Having the time to write seems like play to me … and when my mind and heart temporarily run out of words I visit the beautiful little grand piano in my living room and play myself into creativity again.

I have fallen into a happy love affair with my blog — it brings me joy every day, as do the people I meet on WordPress.  Playing for time suits me just fine.

Conservatory Grand

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/daily-prompt-all-about-me/

Can you hear me now?

This will come as no surprise to those who know me best, but I’m kind of a geek.  I’m not much on technical manuals, or even reading a simple instruction sheet — I’d rather muddle through and see if I can figure out whatever it is I’m trying to do.  I love discovering that some electronic gadget I’ve spent money on will do things I never knew it had the capacity to do.  I love when things work.  I love being connected to the world via my tech toys — primarily iPhone and iPad — to the point that my husband refers to me as the Porta-Hottie.  Oh, bless him.

Last week I came into some new technology that is making my life infinitely easier, more interesting, and less stressful.  More on that in a bit.  First, by way of explanation, I’m bringing up another post from my original blog, this one written in August of 2012 …

I am listening

Odd how life keeps moving, whether you’re paying attention or not.  Strange things happen, and unless you pause just long enough to catch the blur, you might miss the whole thing entirely.

During a hospital stay for my husband (in July of 2012), I picked up the phone in my hotel room, held it to my left ear, and buzzed the front desk.  There were tiny scratchy-sounding noises on the other end but no voice, so I assumed the phone was out of order.  Not exactly.  The extremely polite young maintenance man who came to my room could hear just fine.  Cue icy fingers of dread on the back of my neck.

Two weeks later, Kim and I found ourselves sitting in the office of an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist.  Holding the results of my hearing test and looking intently at the two of us, she said, “So.  What took you so long?  This is bad.”  To which we answered, at the exact same time, “Pride.”

Somewhere along the line, in the process of living a full and busy life, and most likely helped along by my years as a tractor jockey, I’ve lost all my highs and lows and a considerable amount of what’s supposed to be in between.  It happened so gradually at first I wasn’t consciously aware of what was taking place, but I did know I was missing things people said and that the problem was growing steadily more frustrating.  I couldn’t figure out why Kim always deliberately lowered the sound level when we were watching TV, and I uncharacteristically snapped at him for it.  I was irritated that nearly everyone seemed to speak rapidly and in very subdued tones.  It was becoming much more relaxing to stay home rather than put myself in situations where I had to strain to keep up.

I was aware on some level that I was perpetually asking Kim to increase the TV volume … but not that I was plastering him against the back wall of the living room ala an old Maxell ad.  Patient loving soul that he is, he never really let on.  He knows I don’t react well to being told what to do, so he was in the process of, in his words, “gently leading me to the proper decision.”

The day of my exam, this card-carrying senior citizen (gasp!) became the proud owner of a set of high-dollar, high-tech personal audio enhancement devices.  They’re sweet little triangle-shaped computers about an eighth of an inch thick that nestle behind the top part of my ears, and each one is attached to a tiny, almost invisible, tube that ends in an extremely small speaker that tucks inside my ear.  My hairdresser and I conspired on a slightly modified haircut, and no one on God’s green earth would know I wear these little guys.  Except that I’ve just told you.

There’s a reason why I chose right away to break my silence (pun intended) about something I was originally very reluctant to admit I needed — life is too brief and too beautiful to risk missing out on.  If you suspect that your audio capabilities could use a boost, don’t wait.  What I thought would make me feel older instead makes me feel infinitely younger.  For one thing, constantly saying “What?” does not make you seem hip.

Suddenly being able to hear again was something of a shock.  The sheer mass and variety of sounds was overwhelming at first.  But it’s been a very gratifying trip to sit back and observe while my brain does what it’s designed to do — delineate and categorize the individual kinds of input and label them important, not so important, okay to ignore, and so on.

There are myriad sounds I hadn’t heard in a very long time but didn’t realize I was doing without.  The swish of my own bare feet on our tile floors.  Birds outside my office window.  The tick of my star-shaped clock on the wall.  The rush and patter of rain, with its thunderous applause.  A hundred sweet little accompaniments to the ballet of daily living.  Sometimes it touches me so deeply to be able to hear again, it moves me to tears.  When I take my ears off, my world instantly reverts to mute.  The contrast is staggering.

If you identify with any of what I’ve said, an audio test is one of the best gifts you could give yourself and those who love you, and it would be a shame to let pride rob you of some of life’s purest joys.  I’m far too young to “need” this technology … and yet I do.  And it gets better …

Maxell ad

At last week’s appointment, my audiologist sent me home with a blue-tooth device that lets me control my hearing aids from my iPhone … and a little microphone that sits next to the TV (or wherever I want to transport it) and puts the audio directly into my ears.  I’ve been listening to my iTunes music wirelessly as well.  And at the dinner theater where my husband is chef, I can choose yet another setting on my phone that puts the “house” into my ears.  I’m getting younger by the minute.

Music is …

Music is ...

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Winnowing the Chaff

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