Friday, November 15, 2013


One of my friends posted this excellent comic on Facebook. It's about making friends with failure. Make sure you read till the very end.

I'm pretty sure I've talked about this before, but I think it's something that bears repeating, especially since I have so many artistic & musical friends. And apparently, we are all really hard on ourselves when it comes to our craft, whatever that may be: rarely happy with our efforts and always pushing harder. As you can imagine, this often leads to incredible frustration and discouragement, but somehow, we keep going.

This strip reminded me of the time a few years ago when Mister and I went to a medieval calligraphy exhibit at the local art museum. (Yes, we have a real live art museum in Nashville, and it's a pretty darn good one.) As I marveled at the manuscripts, I thought about how these long-ago artists had to mix their own paints and make their own inks, as well as make their own brushes and cut their own quills. They didn't have the luxury of going down to the art supply store for a few nibs and a couple bottles of ink. Nope. All those things had to be manufactured by hand. The more I thought about it, the more awed I became.

And then I thought, I totally suck at calligraphy. I'm such a slacker. Why do I even bother?

The same goes for music. I've been fortunate to be able to hang out and play with some stellar musicians, and even be taught by a few. I listen to music all the time, and when I'm not listening, there's still a soundtrack going on in my head. I can wake up in the middle of the night and oh hey, there it is. I practice pretty much every single day. It does pay off (did you hear that, kids? practice actually works!). And yet, I still get this knot in my stomach every time I go down to the pub for session night, because, well, I suck. I don't know ALL THE TUNES yet, and I'm still working on mastering the finer points that still slightly elude me. Just because I can pull if off at home by myself doesn't mean I'll pull it off at full tempo with a group of people.

But you know what? Everytime I sit down to play, there's something that eludes me just a little less than the time before. Every once in awhile, a miracle will occur, and I will nail something I've been working on - after I've already failed eleventy million times. Failing at something means I'm trying, and the more I try, the less I fail. Such a simple concept, and yet, so difficult to grasp.

Till next time ---- go forth and fail.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's not always what you think.

Humor me. I feel like doing a little experiment here. Let me tell you about some people I know.

Person #1 lives in a farmhouse on 5 acres. She owns 3 cars and wears a big sparkly diamond ring. She nearly always has a neat manicure/pedicure and might be seen wearing Prada sandals in the summer. Now. Think about this description and see if you can picture this person in your mind. What about the house? The cars? The salon where she gets her nails done?

Okay. Person #2 dyes her hair. She likes whiskey and has been known to watch NASCAR. She owns a .22 Winchester her daddy gave her. Her parents come from the country. She's not shy about using colorful language among friends. Got an image in your mind for her? Let's proceed.

Person #3 has two college degrees. She is deadly serious about music, history, and literature and will talk forever about one or all three to anyone who will listen. She likes to do research for fun. She wears glasses. What do you think of her?

Person #4 often goes out in public with no makeup. She recycles paper, plastic, & metal household goods. She likes to cook and prefers to use healthy natural foods. Sometimes she whips up vegan meals. She takes care not to buy products tested on animals. She has an herb garden. She does a variety of handcrafts and makes some of her own clothes. Do you have an idea about her?

Person #5 also dyes her hair. She often wears black or gray and takes delight in adorning herself with anything that has a skull on it. She takes a particular interest in songs about dead people and sometimes paints crazy designs on her fingernails. How about this one?

Do you have an image in your mind for each of these examples? How does #1 differ from, say, #5? What about #2?

What would you say if I told you they were all the same person? Yep. Me.

Yes, I live in an old house on 5 acres - it's rented. I own 3 cars, all of which are on their last legs. Two of them run (usually) and the third is there for an emergency backup. The newest one is a 1997 model. The sparkly diamond ring? Inherited. The Prada sandals? Given to me gently used by a friend. The salon where I get my nails done is my own living room, unless I decide to go visit my friend Jill for something special.

The point of this exercise is that you can't know everything about a person from one description, just like you can't know everything about that stranger at the grocery paying for her food with an EBT card. Don't assume things are what they appear to be, because chances are, they're not. You. Don't. Know.

Till next time - take off the Judgy McJudgerson glasses.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oh, the inhumanity.

The story of Puppy Doe has been on my mind all week, and is probably contributing to my overall crankiness. September is always our busiest month with events, and I'm overtired and a little bit prickly. But the story of Puppy Doe is one that would turn even a great day to shit.

In case you've missed it on the Interwebs, a young pitbull mix female was found dumped in a park in Boston at the end of August. The person who found her thought she'd been hit by a car and took her to the vet. If only it had been that simple.

After a thorough checkup, the vet determined that the dog had not only been repeatedly beaten and burned, she had also had her legs pulled in a medieval-style "draw." And this didn't just happen once - the vet's investigation showed a consistent history of severe torture and abuse. The dog only weighed 18 pounds when she should have weighed closer to 40. Because her injuries were so severe, she had to be euthanized, but not before she had the chance to have a real meal and be petted on and fussed over by people who cared.

Now, to give a little backstory, a woman claiming to be the dog's original owner came forward and said she had to give up her pet thanks to breed restrictions in her area, even though the dog never presented a danger to anyone. She rehomed the dog via Craigslist and got periodic updates from the new owner until sometime in July. When contacted, the new owner said she had given the dog away. (These details are still coming out, so who knows if they're 100% accurate or not.)

Y'all, I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around this. Not even one iota. Just like I can't wrap my head around people who beat and torture children and elderly folk. I don't get it. To say that it makes me sad is a grave understatement; to say it fills me with abject sorrow is closer, but it's still something more than that. I don't know that there's even a word for it in English.

What I do know is that law enforcement needs to take cases like these with all the seriousness they can muster, because there is a clear link between crimes against animals and crimes against humans. So far, the Boston police seem to be taking it seriously, understanding that the perpetrator is likely to continue this abuse on other animals or people. (Y'all remember a guy named Jeffrey Dahmer, right?) The person who perpetrated this abuse did it on purpose. ON PURPOSE. Repeatedly. Deliberately. Methodically. What kind of a sick excuse for a human being do you have to be to do this sort of thing?

I don't know. I just don't know. We can insist that the abusers be punished, but the more pressing question is, how do we prevent these things from happening in the first place? What makes a person think it's okay to torture a living being?

I can't comprehend.

Till next time - hug your pets. And your people.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The futility of preserving the ephemeral.

You know how we knowledge geeks are. When we're learning about something, we have to compile every little scrip & scrap pertaining to our passion, no matter how insignificant it may seem to anyone else. This includes a multitude of random sticky notes, scrawlings on old gas receipts, scribblings on cocktail napkins, and especially for us musicians, sound recordings of all kinds. We hoard these things like they're rare gold (my preciousssss!), and in a sense, I suppose they are.

In addition to my sticky notes and old receipts, I have music everywhere: Kindle, iPod, two recorders/mp3 players, various thumb drives, and other computer files. I got myself the iPod Shuffle as a graduation present when I finished grad school a few years ago, and it was GREAT! Between what I got from iTunes and what I uploaded from my own CDs, I had a pretty big library. Then one day I opened up iTunes and . .  EMPTY. Nothing there. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Gone. I also had to reset the device because it was glitching, so the iPod was empty too. SWELL. I had to rebuild the library from scratch. Now the computer won't recognize the iPod, but that's a whole nother story, as we say in the South.

When I started going to Irish session night at the pub a few months ago, a friend suggested I record everything in case there was something I wanted to learn later. I dug out my first little voice recorder, which still works great after 8 years, but it doesn't hold a lot. I discovered that for what I paid for it back then, I could get a recorder/mp3 player with 4 gigs of storage. Shut up and take my money!

Well. I had a great recording of the most recent session, including some mind-blowing uillean piping. I mean, really ultra-spectacular. I sat there doing the Simple Dog Head Tilt, and when I looked over at the flute player, he had this look of disbelief and amazement on his face. I can't even describe it to you. It was that amazing. And I had it all on my digital recorder. . . that is, until I accidentally erased it yesterday.

Yes. I was trying to upload some no-longer-commercially-available archival recordings and in the process, pushed the wrong tiny button. If that weren't cringe-worthy enough, I outdid myself a little later by erasing ALL my live recordings. Every. Single. One. I thought they were stored in a different file, and I was wrong. Poof. Gone. Not recoverable. The archival recordings are safe, but all my live stuff is off in the ether.

In the 17th century, when memento mori paintings were a thing, musical instruments were often included as symbols of impermanence. Before recorded music came along, all music was live. Let that sink in for a minute. If you're reading this, you've always lived in a world where recorded music was available in some medium: vinyl, cassette, 8-track, whatever. In the grand scheme of history, recorded music is a fairly new invention. Once upon a time, not too awfully long ago, if you wanted music, you had to either make it yourself or go someplace where someone else was making it. Once it was over, it was over. You couldn't go back and listen to it again.

But maybe, just maybe, you could remember how you felt.

I don't know the name of the tune the piper played, and couldn't even tell you how it goes, but I sure as hell remember how I felt. Amazed. Awestruck, even. Grateful and humble that I had the opportunity to be there at that moment with that particular group of people. And those are things you can't capture on a recording, anyway.

Till next time --- capture what's worth saving and don't worry about the rest.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ashes to ashes.

(WARNING: This is not going to be a happy post. I have not-happy things to talk about. Proceed at your own risk and don't say you weren't warned.)

I found out last week that a former high school classmate died of a stroke not even two weeks after his 45th birthday. He was away in Texas working on a project and had been in the hospital while he was there, but was released and seemed to be doing well. He was looking forward to coming back to Nashville soon.

He's coming back to Nashville, but not in the way he imagined, and certainly not in the way any of his friends or family hoped.

I didn't know him as well as I would have liked. In school, we had mutual friends, but he was just on my periphery. We reconnected through Facebook, as a lot of schoolmates do, and I enjoyed relating to him as an adult instead of the awkward teenagers we once were. He was kind, and funny, and he loved music. He had a great many friends who thought the world of him, and now they mourn.

His best friend went to Texas to retrieve his ashes and bring him home. I've retrieved ashes before. It's a surreal experience to carry someone's earthly remains out in a tiny box. And even though I am generally practical about death - because, let's face it, why fear the inevitable? - I still have a hard time making the connection between the living person and the parcel of ashes. Logically I know that the ashes were once a living, breathing person, but still my heart somehow wants to doubt it.

I imagine someone, someday, will pick up my ashes and think the same thing.

Goodbye, Grant. I hope you're having a righteous jam with Jimi somewhere.

Till next time --- shine your light and love your people. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Recover the wonder.

Hi, y'all. I was just poking around my blog stats and noticed I hadn't written anything in awhile. Not because I haven't had ideas or time, but if you create at all, you know sometimes things have to speak to you before you get around to them. (Good thing I don't do this for a living or I'd starve.)

Yesterday I went out grocery shopping alone, since Mister was out of town on family business. I was trolling around the Aldi, scouting for hot deals on fancy cheese, and I heard a little girl singing. Loudly. My first reaction was GAAAAAAAHHHH NOISE, but then I realized the kid had a pretty nice voice for a 6 year-old. She was making up an alphabet song and only got as far as alligators and bears, but she kept singing.

While she was waiting for her mom to check out, the girl amused herself playing with empty boxes, arranging and rearranging them into different configurations, singing and chattering the whole time. Then she found a dime, and was pretty much over the moon. It was all a great wonderment for her.

And I thought, at what point do we lose that? When do we stop singing in public like we don't give a damn? When do we quash that childlike sense of wonder? When do we stop giving people random hugs and telling them we love them, just because we can? Not only when, but WHY?

Now, me, I do still sing in public. If there's some good jams on at the Publix, I'll sing while I'm shopping. I've also been known to dance around in the aisles. I mean, why should grocery shopping be a chore? Heck, more than once, Mister and I have sung in harmony to whatever song was playing on the sound system. We just flat out don't care. Ain't no law against actin a fool at the grocery. (The international grocery is especially fun when they play bellydance music.)

I've noticed, though, that when we perform for real, it can be a challenge getting people to participate. They especially don't want to dance, even though that's what a lot of that music is for. The adults will sit there and listen, but it's the kids who dance. Even at events where we have scheduled dances, it's a challenge to get the grown-ups on the bandwagon. Kids? No problem. They're all over it.

People. Y U NO DANCE? What is it you're afraid of? I promise you nobody cares if you look like a gawky ostrich, because they're too worried about themselves. If you feel like dancing, then GET UP AND DO IT. You're probably way better at it than you think you are anyway.

If you spend any time around kids, you know how affectionate they are. They'll just come right up to you and crawl in your lap and say "I love you" and they don't even have to be your own kids. Now, I'm not advocating that adults necessarily crawl into each other's laps (unless you're in a situation where that's appropriate - winkwinknudgenudge), but why do we have to be so reserved about letting someone know we care about them? Moreover, why are some of us scared to accept that someone cares about us?

I have an open heart as big as the universe. It's probably caused me more grief and trouble than my big mouth ever did. But I'm not going to waste it, and I'm not going to stop caring. (I tried that once. I was miserable.) I try to find the wonderments amid the chaos and drudgery of everyday life. And I won't lie - sometimes that's almost impossible. It seems like an extra challenge for the chronically depressed, especially when you think the universe is conspiring to hold you back. But even in the dark times, something amazing and wonderful will poke its little head out of the dirt. The trick is being mindful enough to notice.

So, little girl at the grocery, I hope you will always sing when you feel like it, and create things out of boxes and other seemingly useless items, and get excited when you find a dime. We cranky old adults need those wonderments. Heck, if we marveled more at the little things, or sang more, or danced more, maybe we wouldn't be so cranky.

Till next time - see if you can't recover your sense of wonder.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Making peace with the unpeaceful.

Every year about this time, we get to read all about which celebrities gave the graduation address at which school, blahblahblah, etc. etc. etc. Usually it's the same tired platitudes about how higher education gives you such a big advantage in the workplace, you're the future of America, yaddayaddayadda, but every once in awhile, someone cuts to the heart of the matter and delivers an undeniable truth, such as Joss Whedon in his address to the graduates of Wesleyan University: "Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better."

Normally I don't bother reading these speeches because of the aforementioned tired platitudes, but being a huge fan of Firefly, I felt compelled to see what Whedon had to say to these newly-minted graduates. The idea of being at peace with the unpeaceful isn't foreign to me at all, being a yoga practitioner (albeit an admittedly lazy one) and a reader of Buddhist teachings, but seeing it in Whedon's speech sorta hit me upside the head with a shovel. Yeah. Make peace with the part of you that can never be at peace.

Which part, though? I seem to have several. There's always something somewhere I'm just not at peace with, because I tend to want everything to be just so, and of course it never is. And if I do manage to make peace with it, it's only temporary. But I guess that's why they call it "practice." As a friend's young daughter recently pointed out, practice doesn't make perfect, but it does make progress. Logically I know that's true; however, I'm not generally long on patience and I'm constantly wanting the wheels of progress to turn just a little faster, thankyouverymuch. Add that to my list of unpeaceful things to make peace with.

I suppose there is some freedom in accepting that there will always be conflict somewhere, because even when one problem gets solved, at least one more seems to take its place, forever and ever, amen. Some days it seems like an endless parade. And other days . . . well, other days there's a glimmer of hope, a sliver of peace, which makes the practice all worthwhile and reminds you why you make the effort in the first place.

Till next time ---- make peace with the unpeaceful, and aim to misbehave. 

(You can read more about Whedon's speech here.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Murray.

Yesterday was my friend Murray's birthday. I'm not exactly how old he would have been - 60-something, I guess - if cancer had not taken his life just before Thanksgiving 2011.

I first encountered Murray on a history-based Internet message board when we started a discussion about the history of the violin chin rest. Conclusion: even though it had been developed in the 1830s, it didn't become common until after the Civil War, so not using one would be more accurate in historical settings. We had many subsequent discussions about historical music, reenacting, and so on. Finally he made it to Nashville from Arkansas, and we actually got to play together at a small event in Franklin.

Murray was a sweet, gentle man, and he loved music and history. He was thrilled to land a couple of historical music gigs playing with a band out of west Tennessee and an entertainment troupe from Kentucky/Ohio. Like me, he also struggled with depression, and we talked about that as well from time to time. When the Great Flood of 2010 happened, he called to make sure we were all right.

Not too long after that, he was diagnosed with cancer. I want to say it was his kidneys, but I honestly don't remember. What I do remember is the grace and peace with which he faced this trial. Murray was a man of faith, which he shared often in his own gentle way. He was thoughtful and contemplative in his struggle. He never asked "why me?"

Murray knew his time was limited, but none of us realized it would be so short. Isn't that always the way?

So, happy birthday, Murray. I still think of you all the time and wish I could tell you about my latest musical adventures. I think you would approve.

Till next time --- hug a friend.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


You know how sometimes your brain gets all cluttered up, and things just streak through it seemingly at will, with no logical pattern? Yeah. That's what this is. My brain is full. I need to empty it a little.

1. Student Accounts is the office across the hall with STUDENT ACCOUNTS ON THE DOOR.

2. If you love Jesus, seek justice instead of asking people to "repost this if you love Jesus" on Facebook. How about, instead of reposting, you show compassion to someone in need? How about THAT?

3. Speaking of Facebook, is it too much trouble to confirm some of the crap you post? I get so tired of seeing the same nonsense overandoverandover again even after it's been debunked. Just STOP IT.

4. Leave Kim Kardashian alone. No, I don't like her either, but picking on a pregnant woman's weight? Not cool, y'all. Not cool.

5. Why can't I just knit and play the fiddle all day?

6. Why don't I have a string boy?

7. Shiny.

8. I need a cupcake.

Till next time ---  be sweet to each other and quit your meanness.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Weighty Matters.

They say a lady doesn't tell her age or her weight. I've already told you how old I am, so you may as well just know: I weigh 155.

One hundred and fifty-five pounds. I've never weighed this much in my life. I got married in a size 4 wedding dress that not only had to be shortened, it also had to be taken up in the bazoom. That was 23 years and about 40 pounds ago, when I wasn't concerned with weight. I vowed I would never be one of those people obsessed with her weight.

Now, 23 years later . . . I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with my weight, but I do think about it. It's hard not to think about it when you pull out last year's summer linen slacks and they don't fit anymore. It's hard not to think about it when you go through your old stuff for the Goodwill and toss out a bunch of S labels because they make you look like an overstuffed sausage, if you can get them on at all. It's hard not to think about when you buy a size L t-shirt and the damn thing is TOO SMALL. Granted, the women's t-shirts now are cut pretty tiny, but still. I'm not LARGE.

Larger than I used to be, yes, like a lot of women my age, but I don't think anyone would say I was LARGE.    However, I have a few size 12s in my closet, and 12 is considered a plus size.

Really? Do any of you who have seen me in person really think I'm a PLUS SIZE? I mean, come ON.

Yes, I have done the diet & exercise thing. The truth is, though, I love to eat and I hate to exercise much. I go for walks, I lift a few weights, I practice a little yoga. Sometimes I dance. I try not to eat too much junk. That's about it. I've held pretty steady at 155 for awhile now, so this may be where I stay. I don't particularly like it, because I don't care for the womanly squishiness 155 pounds has brought me, but it ain't going away overnight. Heck, it may not go away at all, which means I better just get used to the idea.

I'm trying. It's a struggle, when I consider my tiny 21 year-old self, but I'm trying.

I remind myself there's quite a bit of muscle under the squish. I can lift & carry a 52-pound box of copy paper, which always leaves the delivery guys stunned. I can tote a giant bag of dog food on my shoulder. I'm also pretty bendy for an old broad. My last physical therapist called me Gumby. (I thought everybody could bend over at the waist and put their palms on the floor.) And I can still do the splits - not as effortlessly as I once did, but I can still do it. My cholesterol is "beautiful" (doctor's exact words) and my vital organs all still work, so I reckon that's all good. It's going to have to be.

Acceptance is a bitch, but she forces you to be honest. I hate her and I love her at the same time.

Till next time --- accept yourself.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Well, one of them, anyway. How can it not be a fantastic weekend when you go to see Richard Thompson?

Most of you know that I am absolutely crazy about Richard Thompson. I have to admit, though, I am late to the game. I mean, I always was aware of him - heck, I had a Rolling Stone subscription for most of the 80s - but beyond hearing him on the radio here & there, I didn't pay much attention. And then, one evening, I was driving up to Hendersonville and I heard this piece on Fresh Air: Richard Thompson - Looking Back. By the time the show was over, I was completely gobsmacked. Why did I not know about this before??? What rock had I been living under?

I got out of the car to meet Mister and our friends to set up for an event, and I was babbling like an idiot. "OhmyGAWDyouguys, I was just listening to this Richard Thompson interview, and it's like, HOLY CRAP, he sounds like 4 people playing the guitar! And the songs. SWEET FANCY MOSES, THE SONGS."

Mister said, "Yeah, my old roommate and I used to listen to RT a lot back in the day."

I may or may not have accused him of holding out on me. "We've been married 20 years and YOU NEVER TOLD ME???" He just shrugged. The next week I commenced to buying up RT downloads on iTunes. He came to town just a few weeks after my Great Revelation, but we were too broke and too busy to go that time. We finally did get to see him at the Belcourt in an acoustic solo show, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post. Saying that it was magical doesn't even do it justice. The fact that I'm still talking about it two years later should be a clue.

This time, RT had a band with him: drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk, both incredible musicians themselves. He joked about them being a power trio, but that's definitely what they were. Now, I'm not a guitar player, and I don't have any desire to be one, but I'm always amazed by people who make it look effortless. It's like magic. Logically I know it takes work and practice, but still . . . magic, as far as I'm concerned.

I imagine that when you have as large a body of work as RT does, it's hard to choose what songs to put into a 2 hour show. Of course he did several songs from his new album, Electric (just go buy a copy; you'll thank me later), but there were a few surprises, too. I didn't really expect to hear "Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?" or "Wall of Death," but there they were. And if that wasn't enough of a surprise, the power trio launched into "Hey Joe." Yes, that "Hey Joe." It was nothing short of magnificent. A couple of my favorites were missing, but I was pretty content nonetheless. He ended with "Tear Stained Letter" and had the whole house singing along.

The ultimate in geekery for me, though, was "Sidney Wells," a murder ballad (of course!) in 9/8. I love murder ballads, and I love 9/8, so to get both in the same package is pretty darn exciting. And how often do you hear a slip jig played on a red Fender?

So. Richard Thompson on Saturday night, followed up on Sunday afternoon with an Irish singing class at McNamara's with the lovely and charming Michelle Burke. Yeah. Best. Weekend. Ever.

Till next time --- may your weekends be glorious.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thoughts on resurrection & rebirth.

Once again it is Easter, when millions of Christians worldwide celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a child, this meant little more to me than putting on a frilly dress with white gloves and having a tiny cracker and some grape juice at church. Since then, though, I've come to realize that the resurrection story makes some important points for believers and non-believers alike. To wit:

1. Jesus was willing to die for a cause. Are you? Do you know anyone who is? The world is full of people who talk a big game about a great number of things, but when it comes down to it, talking is all they know how to do. If you want anything to change, you have to do more than talk. You have to take action.You may even have to risk death. Are you up for the challenge?

2. Selling out your friends isn't worth it. Judas was so wracked with guilt over the 30-pieces-of-silver incident that he returned the money and then hanged himself. What sounds like a good idea in the short term may come back to haunt you later, with drastic circumstances. Choose wisely and consider how your choice might affect others.

3. If you want to resurrect something, sometimes you have to let it die first. This was something I heard many years ago from a Baptist minister, but it came back to me later when I read Pema Chodron's book When Things Fall Apart. The minister said that Jesus couldn't bring Lazarus back to life until he was actually dead; Pema Chodron writes that in order to rebuild, sometimes you have to let things fall completely apart. Now, this is hard for us to understand, and even harder to put into action. We want to save things. We want to keep them alive as long as we can. We don't want to let anything die or fall apart because it represents failure. I get that. (Oh, believe me how much I get that.) But an end is an opportunity for a new start, and when you let things fall apart, you're free to put the pieces back together in a new configuration. Consider the phoenix rising from the ashes, or Bill Compton rising from a pile of vampire goo. (Sorry, but I just couldn't resist that one. My True Blood friends will understand.)

Easter comes at a time of year when the earth emerges from its dormancy. Whether you celebrate in a religious manner or not, it's hard to miss the omnipresent reminders of death & rebirth. What can you resurrect in your life?

Till next time --- rise from the ashes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wonder what would happen . . .

. . . if we stopped assuming and judging each other?

Because y'all, I'm downright tired. Tired of people tearing each other down for no good reason other than that they're on "the other side." Tired of people judging the lady on welfare who has a nice manicure. (How do you know she doesn't do her own damn nails?) Tired of people perpetually spreading half-assed information on the Interwebs. Tired of alla y'all having these arguments that are never going to change anyone's minds. Tired of people assuming they know what's going on in a random stranger's life. WHY DON'T YOU KNOCK IT OFF WITH THEM NEGATIVE WAVES?

And I admit it, I'm guilty too, especially when I'm feeling extra cranky. I'll argue with a brick wall during those times, although I'm not nearly as bad as I used to be. (Shut up.) I've been known to harsh on such venerated public figures as Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. I complain about some of the students at the Big University. I can get flat get my snark on. But the truth is, I fight it - a lot - because it's not really helpful. Sure, it seems like a good idea at the time, but later on? Not so much. I don't particularly relish adding to the negative waves, but it just happens sometimes. I hope I crank out enough positives to make up for my transgressions.

So I'm asking you: what would happen if you stopped assuming? Stopped judging? We never know what battle someone else may be fighting. We can choose to make it worse, or we can choose to make it better somehow.

Till next time - what will you choose?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why I changed my mind about the Kindle.

In my first-ever blog post, I talked about how I made friends with the bread machine after initially resisting it. Well, friends, technology has won me over yet again, and I am not ashamed to say so. I bought myself a Kindle Fire for Christmas and I love it.

Now, don't get me wrong - an electronical gadget will never replace real books for me. Some books are just better and more useful in real paper form, especially books involving detailed photographs of historical clothing or musical instruments. They're typically oversized anyway to accommodate the graphics. Plus, there is something innately satisfying about cradling a book in your hands and feeling the paper. I can't quite describe it, but I think most of you know what I mean. And sheet music? The Kindle is way too small for that. (Note: I know "electronical" isn't a real word. I just happen to find it amusing, like "strategery" or "misunderestimate.")

The Kindle's greatest attribute, for me, is its mobility. I can take it anywhere. If there's a wireless connection, I can get on the Interwebs. Heck, since I don't have a teevee at home in the bedroom, I can take the Kindle upstairs and stream "Twilight Zone" episodes from Netflix all night long. (what???) I watched the first two seasons of "Walking Dead" entirely on the Kindle. (I don't recommend watching that at lunchtime, though. "Fawlty Towers" is a much better choice.)

And Sweet Fancy Moses, the music. Right now I have about 40 full-length albums on the Kindle, mostly Irish stuff. (Richard Thompson is all on the iPod, along with the Beatles, in case anyone was wondering.) I've had to give myself an Amazon 1-Click budget so I don't go broke. Imagine hauling 40 CDs around with you - not that I've ever done that, of course. Now imagine hauling 40 CDs and about 40 books. That's what I've got on this gadget and the gadget fits right in my handbag. How could a book & music nerd NOT love that? I can read anydamnwhere I want!

To be fair, though, e-books aren't always cheap, and sometimes it's still more feasible to buy a used hard copy. One thing I've really enjoyed about books on the Kindle is the ability to highlight key passages. It saves them all on a Notes page so you don't have to worry about remembering what you highlighted where. This is great for me because I always seem to find myself without Post-It flags when I'm reading a hard copy book. Kindle highlighter? No problem!

And so, this 19th-century girl goes kicking and screaming again into the present, but it's really not so bad. I still don't have The Cable, though.

Till next time --- remember, if you don't change your mind about something once in awhile, you may be dead.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Showing my age.

The other morning, I caught part of an informercial for an anti-wrinkle product. Said infomercial was hosted by actress Minnie Driver, age 40, extolling the virtues of this product and how it made her look so much younger.

Really? You need to look younger at 40? Exactly how much younger are we talking? It ain't like 40 is ancient. When did it become a crime to actually look your age?

They say a lady doesn't tell her age, but I'll just tell alla y'all right now, I'm 45. FORTY-FIVE. I'm not ashamed of it. I'm thrilled that I've lived long enough to experience all the joys of being a middle-aged woman: weight gain, crazy hormones, gray hair, tiny wrinkles. I earned all that stuff, as inconvenient as some of it may be. And it's all MINE. I plan on keeping my hair red as long as I can, and when I can't anymore, it's going gray. End of story.

Now, granted, I don't look what most people think 45 looks like. I'm fortunate to come from a family of fairly young-looking people, so I do have genetics on my side a little. I also have better science on my side than my parents and grandparents did. Because of that, I think many of us in my age group do look younger at 45 than our parents probably did. I mean, we have sunscreen now that will actually keep you from getting a sunburn (unless you're in Jamaica, but that's another story).

Why the fascination with youth? It pains me to see women like Joan Rivers and Priscilla Presley go under the knife so many times they look freakish. What's wrong with owning those wrinkles, like Helen Mirren or Judi Dench or Maggie Smith? The Dowager Countess would look ridiculous if she were all young and smooth-faced.

I have to admit, when I had my last birthday, I did have a little bit of a quandary. It was like, "oh shit, I'm 45, I guess I have to start acting like an adult now." This lasted all of about a week, if that long. I already gave up ultra-short skirts and bikinis awhile back (although it nearly killed me to admit I just wasn't shaped properly for them anymore), but I ain't turning in my collection of skulls, or my quirky t-shirts, or my crazy shoes, or my outrageous eyeglasses. Nope. Not happening. I may be getting older, but I still plan on having fun, even when my hair goes all gray. Heck, when that happens, I may just shave my head and wear turbans all the time.

Till next time --- be proud of your age. Namaste.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Come on, people now. . .

Smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.

How hard is that, really? Well, it certainly isn't EASY or there wouldn't be so many people struggling with it, or songs sung about it,or books written about it. It's not easy. That's why you have to try.

Yeah, I know, some of you are shaking your heads at me, calling me a commie pinko leftist hippie or something similar, but I am none of those. (Okay, maybe a little bit hippie.)  I'm just a human being, like you. And lately, I've been giving this concept of loving everybody a lot of thought. We have a limited time on this earth, and I don't know about you, but I don't want to waste time being angry or hating anyone.

I'm not talking about being BFFs with everybody. I'm not talking about insisting the sun is out when it's obvious it's raining. I'm talking about not bearing grudges or resentment over things that don't matter. Because really, guess who feels it most when you hold a grudge? YOU. And those things that do matter? Don't hold grudges. Talk about it instead, then let it go, or else be dragged. Maybe you'll come to a solution, maybe you won't, but at least you will have tried, and that's all you can do.

And then there's forgiveness, a concept too many people don't seem to fully understand. Heck, I'm not sure I understand it altogether myself, if you want to know the truth. But here's what I think: forgiveness has to do with letting go of your own destructive feelings. It doesn't mean you have to let the person who hurt you back into your good graces if you don't want to. I mean, let's face it - there are good and valid reasons why some relationships shouldn't be repaired, but there's no reason for you to harbor bitterness over it for the rest of your life. Because I'll guarantee you, the other person doesn't care.

I have a large circle of friends who all have varied opinions on different issues. They're not my friends because we agree on everything - trust me, we don't. Even a few of my oldest, closest friends have opinions spectacularly opposite of mine. They're my friends because we bonded over something that was way more important than who we voted for in the last election. If I based friendships on political opinions  . . . well, that would just be a complete fiasco, wouldn't it?

I know sometimes it's hard to love humanity, but I think there are more reasons to love it than not. You'll find them if you give it a good honest look.

Till next time --- quit your meanness and go to lovin' folks.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pearls and Black Dogs.

Well, hi-ho and happy new year. I hope 2013 has gotten off to a good start for alla y'all. As for me, I was doing just fine, thank you, till this week of gloomy weather got me all out of sorts. Now the Black Dog is  trailing me, nipping at my heels, just waiting to jump, as frequently happens during this cold, dark time of year.

Originally I had written a gloomy post about depression, which was cathartic for me, but when I read it, I decided I couldn't take you all down with me. Just because I'm swimming in the mud right now doesn't mean you need to be in it too. But while I was feeling all sorry for myself, I checked some of my links on ReverbNation to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be, and in doing so, got smacked upside the head with my very own words. Usually I hate it when that happens, but this time I chuckled.

I wrote this song many years ago after being inspired by one of those insipid daily horoscope things. (Hey, when the Muse speaks, I don't question.) It said, "Oysters couldn't make pearls without irritating grains of sand." Well, of course. Irritation or dissatisfaction is the thing that spurs us to action, so all those irritations and inconveniences - or as my friend Shawn describes them, "steaming piles of teachable moments" - could be a gift in wolf's clothing. I try to remember that nothing is permanent, that this is only temporary, and maybe this grain of sand might just turn into a pearl.


There’s no pearl without a grain of sand
It’s been that way since time began
No joy without sorrow
No night without tomorrow
There’s no pearl without a grain of sand

Sometimes this world is full of every doubt
You can’t believe everything will all work out
The answer lies within your hands
There’s no pearl without a grain of sand

When it seems like tears will never cease
And the burden on your shoulders just won’t ease
Remember when you can’t keep up with life’s demands
There’s no pearl without a grain of sand

There’s no pearl without a grain of sand
It’s been that way since time began
No joy without sorrow
No night without tomorrow
There’s no pearl without a grain of sand

So round, so perfect and so small
Revered and loved by one and all
The tiny gem in the palm of your hand
Used to be just another grain of sand

Many struggles and trials we shall face
And the heartaches that time just won’t erase
It’s all part of a greater master plan
There’s no pearl without a grain of sand

There’s no pearl without a grain of sand
It’s been that way since time began
No joy without sorrow
No night without tomorrow
There’s no pearl without a grain of sand
There’s no pearl without a grain of sand

(You can listen here: just click on Pearls.)

Till next time --- consider the pearl.