Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Gail

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip.
Author Unknown

Just a quick note to say Happy Birthday to my best friend and fellow Leo, Gail who's on the other coast in New Jersey. I'm sorry I couldn't be there today, but I'll see you in September and we'll go out to celebrate both of our birthdays (the chocolotinis are on me). Here's hoping life opens and blooms even more for you in the coming year. Since we both joke about our horoscopes at times I found a meaningful one for you:

Leo Horoscope for week of July 24, 2008

Leo (July 23-August 22)
"Everybody experiences far more than he understands," said philosopher Marshall McLuhan. "Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior." This is always true, but it will have special meaning for you in the coming days. You're about to be inundated by a flood of raw perceptions, sensations, and feelings, and only a fraction of it will be namable, let alone comprehensible. That shouldn't be a problem, though. Your job is simply to marvel at all the novelty that's flowing in, not to be in an anxious hurry to define it.

The Beatles (who else), "Happy Birthday":


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Learning To Fly

Flying without feathers is not easy; my wings have no feathers.
Titus Maccius Plautus

Alcohol stoves, carbingers, internal frame backpacks, ultralight packer...And so goes the language I'm learning as I ready myself to go backpacking in two weeks. Some of my friends think I'm a little nuts for doing this and wonder why I'm doing it. I know exactly why I'm doing it. I've been sitting on the safety of life's cliffs for the last year or so. It's time to throw myself off and see how I fly. Somehow taking the backpacking trip seems just the thing...I'm learning to fly yet again...

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Learning to Fly":


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wasted Wednesday or Is the Stuffing Gone?

I'm knocked out, I've never felt so physically and mentally exhausted, I'm quite stupid with it and long only for bed; but I am happy...
Claude Monet

Wednesday's are often what I call the I'm totally wasted day. Working in a dialysis unit is often like working in an ER. You run through the days on adrenaline because things happen fast and furious. Or at least it does in the unit I work in. I enjoy it, but I come home and my mental/physical stuffing is knocked around after working 32 hours in 3 days. But I'm finding this is when creative possibilities seem to occur the most. Somehow I believe more then ever I can be anything if I chose to be it....

Helen Stellar, "Io (This Time Around)":


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wings Spread or Time to Travel

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between woman and the universe.
Anatole France

I'm spreading my wings and getting ready to wander again.I've spent the weekend completing travel plans for August and September. In August it's the 5 day trip to the Channel Islands on my photography/backpacking trip. I ended up purchasing most of the things I need since the rental is so high. Besides I want to do more backpacking/camping in the future. I had to laugh at the range of freeze dried foods available. You can eat gourmet even in the wilderness. Although the maximum we're allowed to load the pack with is 45 lbs, I'm trying to keep it down as I'm not going to have time to do a lot of conditioning for carrying a heavier pack. This is where being a fan of Olympus is going to come in handy as their DSLRs and lenses are lighter then other brands. Then I finally settled on a week in September to go visit my best friend in New Jersey. Of course we'll go into NYC, but we're going to go to Cape May/Atlantic City for a couple of days as in all my time of visiting we've never gotten there. It should be a good time and satisfy the urges to get out there that have been popping up lately.

Bruce Springsteen, "Atlantic City":


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Awakening or Thanks Jesse Cook

In music the passions enjoy themselves.
Nietzsche

Another concert with a peek into the window of flamenco music. This time with Jesse Cook. Charisma, passion and gypsy soul. That's what his music is made up of. I have never been to a concert where the artist was so free and giving with his audience. Much to my sorrow I had left my camera at home being I didn't want to leave it in my Jeep as it was still in the 90s and they announced we could use cameras in the venue so I missed a chance to photograph him in action. But my disappointment faded once the music began. If the concert last week was sensual, this was sexy in your face music. The band consisted of an additional guitarist, drummer/percussionist, bassist and a violinist/accordion player. The feeling was Mardi Gras meets Spanish Gypsy Soul. By the end of the concert people were dancing in the aisles, in front of the stage and just in their seats urged on by the artists on stage.

Jesse had everyone eating out of the palm of his hand. He was funny and sincere. While he was tuning his guitar to do a solo after the intermission he invited questions, then joked and answered them honestly. He did two encores which the last one was completely acoustic. You could have heard a pin drop in the theatre as everyone was so quiet listening to him give us the ultimate gift. That is that he was confident enough in his and his band's playing to let us hear what they must share when they are just sitting together playing for the joy of it. The man is an incredibly talented guitarist and it was a pleasure to have experienced him live. Also again there was the wondrous event of watching the musicians communicate with each other. Finally for me it was an awakening to follow my passions even more strongly and a trip back to my family gatherings of shared passion for music and fun. Thanks for the céilidh.

Since he told us that Cafe Mocha from his latest album "Frontiers" has become a big hit in Japan, I'll share that.

Jesse Cook, "Cafe Mocha":


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Life of the Party-Not

The life of the party almost always winds up in the corner with an overcoat over her.
Wilson Mizner

After a crazy yet fun week, I'm just relaxing before the next run of events around Wednesday. I won't be shaking the world this weekend.

See you then.

AD/DC with Steven Tyler, "You Shook Me All Night Long":


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sultry Musical Nights or Thanks Ottmar Liebert

Music fills the infinite between two souls.
Rabindranath Tagore

What an incredible night that almost wasn't. Today was boiling and the smoky skies were back again. Then tonight was the Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra concert. Earlier today I had checked the website I used to get tickets and it said the concert was at 8 o'clock. Well it wasn't, it was at 7. We had to drive an hour to get there to start with. Luckily I had planned to get there earlier to pick up said tickets. Missed the first quarter of the concert and was forced to sit in the back as they couldn't seat us in the second row from the stage. Add to the fun was others coming in with the same concept that the concert started at 8 pm. Then we had a bitchy usher who kept commenting that no one had missed anything as the music was all the same (guess she's used to three chord bands and can't appreciate musical complexity beyond that). I pushed her out of mind and settled in to enjoy the music which was incredible.

Luckily we got the seats after intermission. The music went from incredible to sublime. I have to explain. I've been exposed to music from childhood due to my Celtic ancestored family. Guitars, fiddles, mandolins and the occasional bodhran came out regularly at family gatherings. I began playing music while in high school (guitar mostly) and continued on to performances sometimes solo, sometimes with others (now an avocation). Also, once I hit college my music tastes exploded and I haven't looked back. So the opportunity to watch the musicians interact close up on stage always brings me back to my roots. That's why these days most the concerts I attend are in smaller venues. To watch musicians communicate with each other while playing tells you as much as the music itself and it's an intense pleasure when the musicians are so obviously into what they are doing.

The stage itself was set up simply with 2 sets of colored screens in the rear. There were the 4 on stage consisting of Ottmar Liebert, another guitar player, a bassist and a percussionist. They also had synthesizers. In front of theme were lit candles, there was also a soft smell of relaxing incense. There wasn't much talking, just the music and what music. Ottmar Liebert's music (both on his own and with Luna Negra) has been called nouveau flamenco, new age, jazz, but his music defies labels (which is what I enjoy so much). You can definitely taste the flamenco flavor, but the musical stew they cook provides it's own relish. He isn't afraid to use an electric guitar which surprised some people around me. The music flowed easily between him and Luna Negra. It was sultry, spiritual and spicy by varying turns. But they weren't selfish, they invited others in to share the intimacy they were creating amongst themselves. Each took turns showing their musical gifts. There was an assuredness yet spontaneity in their playing. We talk about being in the "flow" these days. This concert certainly was in that. It went so fast it was hard to believe it had ended. I had waited 10 years to catch them in a venue and it was even better then expected. We agreed we had climbed the stairs of musical nirvana.

While I have most of the CDs available, I did find one I didn't have. The weather had cooled to a bearable level so we drove home with windows/moon roof open, CD playing, wind teasing our skin, the half moon tailing us and laughter ringing out. I dropped my friend off, then headed home. While stopped at a light a car full of teenage guys next to me wanted to know who I had playing. The song happened to be "Snakecharmer" one his more famous compositions. So I gave them the info and off they went. It was the perfect end to a fantastic night. Thanks.

Ottmar Liebert, "Snakecharmer":


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cycles and Shifts

Nature is forever arriving and forever departing, forever approaching, forever vanishing; but in her vanishings there seems to be ever the waving of a hand, in all her partings a promise of meetings farther along the road.
Richard Le Gallienne

Three days a week I commute to work, a 40 minute drive by freeway, a 45 minute commute using 2 lane back roads. In California, the freeways are crowded even at 5 in the morning, so I choose the back road. The bulk of my commute is through flat farmland with mountains visible on 4 sides. In the year I've been commuting, I've come to know the cycle of nature intimately.
There are four very distinct seasons in the Midwest/East Coast where I spent my life before coming to California. When I first arrived, I didn't think there were 4 seasons here, really only two. Now I've realize that where the seasonal changes are announced by broad brush strokes in the other states where I was, here they are subtle and you have to observe closely to see them. There is a sameness that I see, yet constant changing. I've come to watch for and know hawks who hover on certain power poles, an elderly Latino gentlemen wearing a white cowboy hat who strolls every morning and horses, cows and llamas who blink at me sleepily as I drive by. Yet there are changes too; a rice crop growing this year that wasn't planted last year, a whole orchard of apples trees being pulled out, and a new field of grape vines coming to life for the first time.

I've come to enjoy my morning commute as my meditation. I play soft music, sip a cup of tea and watch life emerge, change and endure in all it's cycles and shifts.

Lucinda Williams, "Car Wheels On A Gravel Road":


Monday, July 7, 2008

Dreaming of Lands Unknown

The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.
Anais Nin

The last week has been unusual. Next month I will celebrate what to me is a significant birthday. This time last year I had set many goals that I wanted to accomplish. In looking back I see these goals weren't completed due to a number of events that have occurred this past year. At first I was upset that they hadn't and then I realized that I've been given a gift in this. Now instead of asking what are the goals I want to meet, I'm asking what are some of the things that I enjoy/dream about, i.e. what is the journey I want to take. I have to give a bit of background here. One of the dreams that I frequently have when I'm sleeping is about an area of California that I fell in love with 12 years ago, the Santa Barbara/Ventura/Oxnard region (they run along the coast for those who may not know). The dream is always about water in some way and this region is connected with it. In the dream, I've visiting places connected to these cities (I haven't visited the region extensively, so it's not a factual place). When I'm in this place though, life is magical and full of opportunities. I always wake up feeling happy, relaxed on one hand, yet yearning for something that I've never been able to pinpoint on the other. So I've never been sure how to interpret this dream other then to think maybe this is my mystical Shangri-La...

Last week I had had the dream again. The next day an opportunity arose for me to go to Santa Rosa Island the weekend of my birthday for a photography workshop. That definitely woke me up so to speak and gave me a chills up the spine moment. Why? It so happens Santa Rosa Island is part of the Channel Islands and is 40 miles off the coast from Ventura/Santa Barbara. I will be backpacking in and camping for 3 nights. So I'm not sure what the journey will bring. Maybe it doesn't have to bring anything other then teaching/helping me to listen, continue to enjoy life's magic and not be afraid to dream of lands known and unknown.

The Cranberries: "Dreams":


Beauty Is...

  "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." -Anonymous  I went outside tonight and found the waning moon in a glow surrou...