Tag Archives: music

Remembering those who Perished in the Philippines

Remembering those who perished in the Philippines. Perhaps we all have a touch of empathy fatigue. This is a busy time of year with fall holidays for many of the major faiths practiced in the United States. Have we forgotten, or not yet truly absorbed, the terrible fate of many who perished and others who cling to hope–though there may be no help on its way–in the Philippines?

It is Sunday, a quiet day for many, whether or not they hold it holy. This music suggested by a friend who is a musician in Chicago, is a fitting tribute.

Just in case you haven’t taken Latin recently, or ever, and are not a musician, a requiem is “a hymn or dirge for the repose of the souls of the dead.”

May they rest in peace. May we. who have received some measure of peace, and some rest this Sunday, go into the world remembering that there are many among the living who still need our help. And if we are among those who need help–we all are at times–let us not be ashamed to ask.

And let’s hope I post something cheerful tomorrow! I can almost promise that I will do so.


A Serviceable Set by Circespeaks

Drum Roll

Not long ago, in the middle of his senior year in high school, my son and his girlfriend came home and proceeded to unload an entire drum set from the trunk of her car. They trundled upstairs with the set, and it wasn’t long before the house was filled with the sound of drumming. It was not just the bashing and smashing I had feared.

At first I thought the mom who was so thrilled to see her son’s drum set leave through the front door was the lucky one. And I almost felt as though she should have asked me. She probably did say “Are you sure this is okay with your mom?” And of course he answered “Yes.” But, drums don’t have many needs. And like most musical instruments, they are quite good-looking. He has gone through phases with saxophone–lengthy–piano lessons–painful–and electronic keys–brief, so I wasn’t surprised to see a new instrument appear. Music lovers all in the family, we two are among the less gifted, but active participation compensates for native talent in many areas of life. (So maybe when he is not home, mom will be drumming?) Honestly, I just don’t want to hear a beginner on violin or viola, but am surely persuadable on that point as well.

Today, the free and serviceable drum set–with the exception of some nice cymbals–is about to be replaced by a Yamaha drum set formerly owned by a professional musician. The original owner is a jazz drummer from Colts Neck, New Jersey who played with the Springsteen crowd. Next time I speak with the musician and friend I purchased the set from, I will ask him whether it really was the guitarist, Richie Sambora, of Bon Jovi’s band, who played at the new set, or whether it was the drummer. Seems that it was Bon Jovi’s drummer drumming, but more importantly for those from NJ, it has Southside Johnny roots. It has history! I really do hope it will fit in the bedroom dormer where the free set now sits. Otherwise we have just lost a family room, where I enjoy sitting by the fire in the winter. Like my son, I am often more impulsive than practical. I knew that I could purchase this excellent set for a very reasonable price. Never did think to measure the set or the space.

Not that much of a realist, either, my plan is that by the end of Thanksgiving break, or at least the end of winter break, he sounds like John Bonham. Something like this? At least his hair is perfect. He’s got the early ’70s look.

My Dry Bones will Rise

My dry bones will rise one day.
They will rise crying and complaing.
Not about all the wrong I done
When I was young.
They will cry out against the crushing pains,
Self-inflicted daily,
in adult life.

Go, children! Disregard all convention. Throw off repression.
They have: No encouragement required. Camp Bisco, soggy or not, here they come.

Never consider finance & education & self-worth simultaneously.
May you never pour over a 529 or a 401.

Pour yourself instead into ceramics, gardens, drawing, and music.
Delight in such delicate things as the native grass
with fine stalks & tiny
yellow-eyed blue flowers.
It grew up only because the hose bib leaks.

Learn to live from, and to respect, the earth again. Eat dandelion greens.

Love justice, but one another most of all. Walk neither humbly, nor with a puffed up sense of your own importance: there is no one more or less important than you.

Keep music in the center of your lives and souls. Keep embodied action–being in nature, recognizing the inimitable beauty of the perfect pass, stroke, dive, or block, executed in milliseconds, making love, & hugging friends–in the center, too.
Keep grades, diplomas, and all manner of achievement, in the periphery.

Should you become a parent, may your children be born in Canada or Europe. It will be safe to return when we stop making war, lay down the guns in our cities and towns, cease to uphold marriage as a divisive tax-benefit, and provide health care for all.

If it please you, communing with a loving, nonjudgmental God is fine, too. “In [God] there is no darkness at all.” Bless you, always, in the name, dirt, rivers, rocks, lakes, oceans & trees of Mother Earth and Jesus, our common names for all love, all-enveloping.

Disregard all advice. There is no authority higher than your own conscience.

–Circe, on the anniversary of her older son’s birth (apparently channeling Dr. Bronner.)

Whistle a Happy Tune

Do you still whistle? I just tried a Swedish song about whistling & failed. Any fellow Swedes probably know the folk song “Kan du vissla Johanna?” The interlocutor asks Johanna if she can whistle, to which she replies that she certainly can, and then trills away.

So I tried to sing and whistle the song. The singing part went well, but as for the whistling…clearly I need practice! It may have been ten or more years since I whistled last. The first try was just whispery nothings. On the second I hit a few notes. On the third a few more, but the result was still unremarkable at best.

My younger son–not the one who sings so beautifully that friends ask why he is “wasting his time” in law school–has whistled from a young age. He doesn’t reply to many of my random texts, but when I texted “Do you still whistle?”, he immediately texted back that he loves to whistle and does so every day.

When I had my “OMG, I don’t remember how to whistle!” moment, their father, standing right there, whistled a clear and sweet tune. He claims to do so often. Sorry, husbands of the world: mothers of the world are more closely attuned to their sons. But in this case I had failed to tune in to simple joys provided by father or son.

One of my favorite moments of the year is spotting my first firefly. When I excitedly report this, I am inevitably met with “Oh, I saw one a week ago.” This does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for fireflies.

Mosquitos or not, ninety degrees and humid or not, I insist on dining al fresco. During that time not only fireflies, but also bats flit about, sometimes audibly squeaking. I wonder where they sleep during the day. We make sure to leave the clover patches intact to attract the bunny-of-the-evening. One day a larger bunny may stop, sniff, and nibble, quite confidently, barely out of reach. The next evening the bunny may be smaller, and more skittish, as young creatures are. All of this is my version of “taking time to smell the roses,” a gift my father had cultivated well, and attempted to instill in me as a child.

Why was I particularly attuned to the fleeting gifts around me yesterday? First I brought some lettuce, a whole freshly picked bag full, straight from my garden to my mother, brother, sister-in-law, and niece who had all converged just around the corner. Many of the Golden Globe cherry tomatoes will be ripe by the end of the day today, but there was only ripe yesterday, so it was for mom, naturally. They were all impressed, as though I had performed a great miracle. It is nothing, I thought. But really, it is the product of several years work. First building the garden boxes, then amending the soil, then planting and tending, shading and watering. Watering was crucial when the seedlings first sprouted. hand-watered them then, to conserve water. Now when there has been intense heat and no rain for a few days, I water early in the morning before the sun’s rays hit the leaves of sunflowers, tomatoes, summer squash, pepper plants, carrot tops, herbs, and lettuce. If we did not live on a busy corner at which every large truck or van speeds by, or worse yet, makes a u-turn, and the background noise was only birds, not construction and traffic and the annoying hum of weed whackers, this would be truly idyllic.

But life remains imperfect. Yesterday I learned over and over again of acquaintances, family friends, teachers and students–most in middle years, full of responsibilities for children, spouses, and work–who were struggling with, or have succumbed to the contemporary plague of cancer. The news was so overwhelming that the best response seemed to be that of the victims themselves, to enjoy the day as I was able.

I may whistle a mournful tune as well when I have recaptured the ability, but for now, I am going to work on once again learning how to whistle a happy tune.

Student Driver: Keep a Safe Distance

My father’s old Rover, a British Racing Green stick shift sedan, was the car in which I first took to the road. It ended up in at least one ditch, but men in a pick-up winched it out, and the driving lesson continued. I must have passed the road test, of which I have no recollection.

I do recall that my mom and I were both amused and annoyed at having to show up at the insurance agent’s office to prove that I am female, my unusual name notwithstanding. The guy was probably looking for an excuse to lure my glamorous mom into his office.

Six months after the arrival of child number three in So Cal, where driving is unavoidable, my back & I were tired of jamming kids into the back seat of a sedan. The boys were pros at every bucking-bronco car-seat-spurning move. So I popped the baby in the stroller, walked down the hill to the local Ford dealer, and bought my beloved Ford Windstar minivan. It was “champagne” in color. Sure enough, I baptized its bumper at the local toy store the very next day.

Two coasts and many cars later, I never thought I’d be a student driver again. Just yesterday, I allowed “the kids,” as I now call “the baby” and his friends, to take my Acura to a folk music festival in PA. Their cell phones are all turned off, so life at the festival and in their new tent (early graduation gift) must be good.

Since my car was always the road trip, camping, ski trip, kid car, I have not driven a stick shift in many years. Today I asked my husband for a morning ride. When he was late picking me up, I decided the time had arrived for me to get behind that wheel. Five minutes later, I triumphantly texted a friend that I was ready for my yellow Lamborghini. You know, the one in the Bond movie.

Two hours later, I expected, but was not offered, a ride to an appointment further away. Relatively confident and a bit late, I took the shortest route. Traffic was backed up a busy, hilly street. Creeping stop-and-go traffic on a hill is not the neo-novice’s driving dream.

It started raining right before I left the house. Not knowing how to operate the windshield wipers and the bunny-hop jumps up the street should have been sufficient signs to plead for help. But I was in “I can do it myself” mode. And off I went. The traffic and “the fool on the hill” (Lennon-McCartney) were a problem. I braked and put the car in neutral, and was sure not to give it too much gas when it was time to inch up the hill. I forgot all about the hazard of sliding backwards into the car behind me, and very nearly did so.

At that moment, I earnestly wished to bring out my “student driver” sign, but I have none. Choosing between the lesser of two evils, I mercilessly rode the clutch, left leg shaking a bit, up that hill. I made it to my appointment, stalling out only once, in the destination parking lot.

I was a zippy, if slightly choppy, driver on my way home, but I was right: I can do it myself!