Summer is here but we are all still inside, waiting for the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine with those we love. While I am waiting, I am so grateful for friends that are contacting me and asking me about musical things. I might not know all the answers, but it is lovely to be asked. Yesterday I got two thought-provoking requests; one was about writing lyrics, and the other was a question about an unusual love song. I will touch on these topics a bit this month, but if you have any thoughts to continue the discussions, please add them in the comments. And, at the bottom of this page you will also see a couple of interesting reference links related to standards in general.
*Yeah, I added the number one to this blog post title because I expect to have a follow-up post in the same format for July. Stay tuned.
LYRIC WRITING TIP (June 2020):
Even though there are plenty of songwriting resources, online and offline, to get your writing started in a structured, organized process, I thought I would share one of the ways I create lyrics when I do not have a melody yet, or when I am not feeling very inspired. Just a little random writing tip from me to you.
Choose an existing song that has a clear form. I like to choose a song where I do not know the melody at all so I will not be influenced by it. For this exercise, I am going to use a child’s song as an example, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, but you will probably want to apply this technique to a standard (AABA form).
Print or write out all the lyrics and circle or highlight all the words that rhyme:
Twinkle twinkle little star
how I wonder what you are
up above the world so high
like a diamond in the sky
twinkle twinkle little star
how I wonder what you are
Now write your new lyrics making sure to:
1. follow the rhythms of the original lyrics (the same number of syllables and the same stresses), and
2. create the rhyme-pairs in the same locations as the original lyrics
Here are my new ones:
In a world of shadowed mist
comes a day the sun has kissed (mist and kist = a near-rhyme)
Dreams are filling up the air
Troubles fade without a care
People can’t believe it’s true
But I know it’s ’cause of you
After you have drafted your lyrics, if you want to try and create a song with them you have a few options. But, remember, there are no hard and fast rules for you to follow except to have fun with the process, that is one of my personal rules:
If you are not used to composing melodies, start out by singing them rhythmically, on one or two notes. Then try adding some additional notes that are close to the ones you have chosen.
Alternatively, try singing your words with little motifs you know from other songs or classical melodies. This might spark you to compose a variation that suits your lyrics. (In my mind I just heard the first two lines sung quickly to the opening theme from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – it was quite funny, wish you could have heard it too.)
Go on YouTube and try singing your lyrics against random backing tracks, ideally tracks that follow your song’s form. Choose tracks of songs YOU DO NOT ALREADY KNOW – you don’t want to sing that song, you want to create a new one and the chords will give you some structure.
Of course, another option is to share your lyrics with a friend that composes to see if they are inspired to create a melody line. I would recommend that you do not refer them to the song that inspired your words; that was just your song’s template.
I hope you will be inspired to write a melody that makes you happy. Don’t expect instant results. Let your mind rest between melody attempts. And, you will always have a personal poem you created in a unique way, even without the music.
LYRICS TO PONDER:
Every once in a while I am asked ‘lyric interpretation’ questions. I have many singing friends who do not speak English as their first language. Sometimes they do not know a word or two, but often the overall message of a phrase, or even the whole song is misunderstood. I answer these questions as best I can, from my limited perspective, and sometimes I saved the conversations in the hopes that one day I would have an interactive platform in which to discuss them further with other musicians. So I suppose this is the day and this is the platform!
The question for this post is regarding a love song titled: “I‘m Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life“. I first heard it on a Thursday a very long time ago. (Yes, it was a Thursday, long story.) I did not sing it that afternoon, but yesterday, as I was discussing it again with my friend, the lyrics took me right back to that jazz moment.
I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life Songwriters: Cy Coleman / Joseph McCarthy Jr.
What does it mean: I’m gonna laugh you right out of my life ?
Ah, very interesting question. Even the singer of this song knows it is not possible to make a joke out of a love that was so very real to her. She is telling the man that she is over him, and can laugh about it all now. She is saying she made a mistake to care for him when he did not feel the same way for her. And, by the end of the song she seems to have convinced herself that she can laugh about it, but inside her heart she knows if she does begin to laugh, it will quickly turn to tears of sadness because, she did love him but it seems like it is over. They have said goodbye to each other. By saying she is going to laugh she is telling him “you did not mean that much to me either, and look, I am not in pain. I am laughing.” but she is lying to him and to herself.
I’m gonna laugh you right out of my life, Laugh, and forget this affair Guess I was foolish To care. So, I’m gonna dance you right out of my dreams, Try to be carefree and gay I guess I’ll learn to play The part. ’cause when our friends begin that Heartless rumor, I know I’ll really need my Sense of humor. I’m gonna laugh you right out of my life, Make it a beautiful joke. No one will know you broke My heart. But if I find you and I Really meant that last goodbye, Then I’m gonna laugh so hard, I’ll cry.
Please take a moment and check out one of my favorite sites for backstories and links to important standards – JazzStandards.com. Look for the “Search” function, it is located at the top of the page, in the middle of the navigation ribbon.
And, a couple of extra links for you: While I was googling around looking for a songwriting template to share (this is a pretty complete overview – found at the song foundry, I came upon a site called Song Lyrics Generator which has a sort of Mad Libs algorithm to create a song – did not work too well when I tested it, but it was fun.
[When I post my related “Writing Lyrics and Lyrics to Ponder” entry next month, it will be linked here.]
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” –Aldous Huxley
There is so much going on now that I am at a loss for words for this month’s post here. I am turning to music to help me keep my center. I hope all of you also have music in your life.
My dearest wish is that my friends and family are all safe and surrounding themselves with things that make them feel comforted as imbalances around them are corrected. Please know that even if I have not spoken to you, I DO care for you, I DO think of you, and I am sending you the energy from deep within my heart. Stay well, stay strong. -Laurie
I know I worked a little past 7 PM Wednesday night because as I was filling out my timesheet, adding up the time I had spent on different projects, I heard the sound of my community cheering in gratitude outside my window. “Ah, it is seven!” I thought to myself, and I began to sing a little of the tune “Thank You Very Much” from the movie Scrooge. Here in New York City, as in other cities around the world, we are all very grateful to the healthcare and other frontline workers who are keeping us healthy and safe, or being there with loved ones when family and friends cannot be there for them. There is a lot of gratitude mixed in with all the other emotions that come and go each day during this time of social distancing and self-isolation. At 7 PM each night, during this time our New York Gov. Cuomo has called PAUSE, the sound of community is clearly heard.
Last week I heard a bunch of people singing “New York New York” after the 3-minutes of cheering had concluded. Frank Sinatra led the sing-a-long and it was so joyful. Our city’s theme song, led by a man from Hoboken New Jersey; very fitting! On the tv news yesterday I watched a story about an amateur trumpet player who played “Taps” each evening after the cheers as a farewell to the souls who had left the Earth that day. So thoughtful.
Music is such a versatile medium, it can be used as a balm for healing, as a vehicle to express appreciation, as a way to soothe or inflame emotions, and a way to entertain yourself and others. Musicians have the added bounty of being able to tap into their personal creative flow, to compose, to interpret, to let their mind focus on beauty, maybe for just a fleeting moment, before the reality of something difficult comes back to mind.
I tried to remember if there was any other time I could hear my neighborhood unified in such a loud way, and other than some random cheers during sports events (when you could tell everyone was watching the same game on television,) I could not think of another New York City moment that even comes close to this nightly 3-minutes of pots and pans clanging, children shouting “thank you!” and bull-horn blasts. However, I did recall some sounds from my suburban childhood that reminded me that I was surrounded by neighbors that cared.
My little 1-square mile, victorian “gaslight and gingerbread” village had two sounds of community that will always be recorded in my memory. First of all, we had a volunteer fire department. There is almost nothing scarier to hear as a child than the fire siren randomly blaring out its call for the firemen to report to the firehouse. My mind would race, “someone’s home is on fire! Probably someone I know.” It could happen day or night, and after the siren began, I could hear cars starting their engines, up and down my street, as the men, fathers and brothers of my friends, emerged from their homes to answer the call.
And, a second, more pleasant memory–on the hour, a local church used to play Westminster Chimes and so everyone always had a pretty good idea of what time it was. If you had a fixed dinnertime, you could hear the bells telling you to start for home.
* * * * *
Wishing you all safety and happiness in your homes as we wait out this virus. I know we are all trying to be good world neighbors, to prevent inadvertently spreading this unexpected virus, and to give our healthcare system a break. -Laurie
For this month’s topic, I will highlight a form of visual poetry I have been creating during this time of self-imposed ‘social distancing’. So, this is my attempt to focus on the upside of isolation; an opportunity to explore creative projects I enjoy, but at a deeper level. However, I will begin with a personal insight from earlier this week.You see, as I come to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic that is totally changing our daily lives right now, it occurred to me that my life has *already* been shaped by another pandemic.
I grew up with a keen awareness of the sudden, devastating and traumatic power of influenza. I was aware of this because a beloved Aunt’s mother was struck down by the Spanish Flu when she was just a small child (1918-1920). Her widowed father re-married and he had two more daughters, the younger of which became my adoptive mother. My Aunt V loved her step-mother (she called her “Mamma”) but the loss of her first mother was always acknowledged as a sad event she had learned to live with. Aunt V is gone now and I like to imagine that she is happily reunited with both of her mothers in the next world.
Pondering this chain of events, I realized that if V had not lost her mother to the Flu, my mother would not have been born from the parents she had, and she would not have met my adoptive father, and I would not have been added to their respective families. I would still exist, but my name would be different, and I would have grown up in a different town, attended different schools with different friends.
My mother also introduced me to the Early Family, so I might not even be married now, or have two daughters. I would almost be a totally different person! I say “almost” because I believe I would have the same core personality, but many behaviors would be different as I have adapted to conditions (good and bad) that I have experienced.
So, this time of quiet isolation and introspection has brought me to a feeling of increased connectedness to the global energies that shape our individual lives.Everything about my current life has a mysterious quality to me right now. Is it destiny or fate that I am here, with this persona? If I have value to the planet and the global community in my ‘current configuration’ then perhaps my current condition is an *upside* of a 100-year-old tragedy.
BE WELL and stay safe everyone – I am buoyed by the phrase being used in Italy right now:
“Andrà tutto bene”
SO-ON by Laurie Early
Okay, so POETRY… which is what I had planned to write about before the world spun out of control.
On New Year’s Day I found a book at Strand that is designed to be used for ‘Black Out Poetry’. Seeing it there, hidden in the stacks of new and used books, reminded me of how much I used to like to play with this poetry form.
Basically, you take any block of existing text and you eliminate all the words that do not belong in your poem, essentially you ‘black them out’ using an unlimited variety of methods. I am reminded of this quote that refers to 3-dimensional work but expresses the same idea:
“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”—Michelangelo
Transition by Laurie Early
I bought two copies of the book so I could give one to my younger daughter for her birthday and keep one for myself. I thought it would be interesting to compare the poems we create using the same source material. (We have yet to do this – rumor is she has completed 4 so far, and I think I have 8) The book begins with a few instructive and inspirational pages but the bulk of the pages are for creating poems. The paper is heavy-duty weight, ideal for this creative writing style.
Spring Haiku by Laurie Early
I include a few of my recent poems here. They are each slightly different in terms of the materials I used to eliminate the superfluous text or to add visual elements. However, process I use for discovering each hidden poem does not really vary for me, I usually do the following steps:
Read the page through a couple of times.
Overlay a sheet of very sheer tracing paper (this allows me to write on the page, but erase, and re-do and make lots of changes without damaging the page itself.)
IMPORTANT! (Especially when using permanent markers) Place a sheet of plastic, waxed paper, or cardboard directly behind the page to prevent bleed-through to the next page.
Using a pencil, I start by lightly circling words or phrases that jump out, or especially appeal to me.
Then I search for the story these words hint at, or the memory they invoke, and look for other words I can link to that will add to my idea.
I like to write the poem in my personal journal and read it out loud to myself, before I commit to it on the actual page.
Sometimes I let it rest a day or so and I go back and make changes before I am ready to commit to the poem. And,
sometimes I feel like the poem is ready to be isolated from the other text right away, so I decide how best to do this based on the layout of the words and phrases on the page.
I make visual/artistic decisions – how do I want to isolate the phrases in the poem in the poems? Will I outline the words or phrases with a pen or other tool?
How will I ‘black-out” the unwanted text? Dark markers, white-out, paint, tissue paper, or images? These decisions are often based on how much time I have, or how much disruption would need to occur. Pens and markers are very quick and easy to use. If I want to paint, or use images and adhesives, I need to clear an area to work, in my room or on my little table (I have a small apartment.)
After I have thought through design ideas, I consider adding an additional image or decoration to enhance the theme of the poem.
The poems on this page all use different methods: SO-ON: Black and silver ‘Sharpie’ permanent markers, yellow highlighter, blue gel-pen. Transition: Magazine image, silver Sharpie marker, and acrylic paints. Spring Haiku:Acrylic paints, clear acetate, and colored Sharpie markers. Tears’ Lesson:White-out (White liquid paper), watercolor paint, and fine point Sharpie.
Most people do not know that I enjoy soft-block carving and printing. Years ago I carved stamps of different sizes of this 7-petaled, “CREATIVITY”, Adinkra symbol. I used my stamps this month to finish up a sketchbook I titled Ebb and Flow. It needed to be mailed by February 15th to the project organizers and I was very happy to have the pressure of this hard deadline to motivate me to do something creative as I have not been feeling well for several weeks. I will spare you all the details, but I caught a horrible cold on top of a recurring nerve pain in my lower back. These and other issues have kept me home bound (aka “hibernation mode”) for most of this winter, however I am proud to say I have been using my alone-time constructively.
In addition to working on the Sketchbook Project (which I will briefly outline further down this page) I have spent an inordinate amount of time decluttering and sorting through all of my art supplies. For example, every sheet of paper, art tool, and bottle of paint I owned was inspected. Every pen was tested and deemed worthy or unworthy of continuing to stay in my collection.
Oil Pastels BEFORE
Every ink pad was pressed to determine if its foam had disintegrated or its saturation of ink needed to be reapplied. If I could repurpose something I did, if I could recycle it, it was placed in the appropriate bin in my basement. I even wrapped up all of the old, dried out pens to mail to “Pen Guy Art“; an artist who uses dead pens to create his work. (I am glad they will be reused and I will not be making my global footprint larger.)
Oil Pastels AFTER
Over an hour was spent cleaning oil pastels I have had for decades, some of the craypas are older than me; they belonged to my grandfather. I learned online I could remove migrated colors by rubbing them with corn meal. It worked fairly well to remove the surface grime and I finished them off by rubbing them lightly with a paper towel infused with a little oil. It was an oddly satisfying exercise. I did it in silence and practiced being totally in the moment. A nice relaxed activity – mindfulness.
The decluttering process and re-evaluation of my tools and art supplies put me in the perfect mindset to finish my sketchbook and to create some new works of art! I am ready now to revisit other creative projects that have lain dormant for a long time.
EBB & FLOW: The main event for me this month has been the completion of my sketchbook titled “Ebb and Flow” which I created for the Vol. 15 exhibit of “The Sketchbook Project” sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library. There are no real rules other than avoiding the use of art materials that might cause pages to stick together unintentionally. I looked at the blank pages for many months waiting for an idea on what to draw.
Ultimately I decided not to “draw” much on the pages at all. Instead I filled them using watercolor, collage, and my hand carved block prints. Inspired by Hilma af Klint’s “The Ten Largest” I decided to create an abstract journey from creation to the return to source. The only text I included is the title.
MY PROCESS: Here is a little glimpse into my planning notes – another notebook I used to flesh out my watercolor layouts and collage ideas. The first image is a filtered example of “clustering” that I did on the idea of “FLOW”. You can see that word is in the center. [I learned this technique many, many, many, years ago from a book called “Writing the Natural Way” by Gabriele Rico; it is an excellent tool for writing, creating, and introspection. Click on the word “clustering” to read about the steps involved.]
Based on the aspects of flow that came to me during this writing/brainstorming exercise, I mapped out the different stages of the book. You can see the final map in the second image. I made a lot of changes during the book’s creation so my map got very messy (messy in a good way–smile).
Another decision I based on my clustering was the color palette. I pulled out all the watercolor pans and used them as reference when selecting images for the collages. After images were selected I decided how to arrange them on each page and mapped out where I needed to background paint first. The downside of this sketchbook was that the quality of the paper was most suitable for drawing, NOT for watercolor paints. I caused a lot of buckling with this choice. I used watercolors because I did not want finished pages to stick together, that happens sometimes with acrylic paints.
In addition to the collage images (that I cut with tiny little scissors while I wore some magnifying eyeglasses) I added hand carved stamps. If you look closely at the center of the largest, teal-colored, “creativity” image in this photo, you will see that I cut a circular portal to suggest the travel from one stage of life to the next. Some of the pages are connected using this idea of dimensional travel.
FINAL PAGES: Life is a series of forward movement and times of rest and retreat – Flow and Ebb – Ebb and Flow. I created each set of pages based on separate concepts (natural-earth/elements and spiritual). As the energy of life passes through the stages its form changes shape from stars to spirals to wedges, but the essence of life remains the same, always in the moment with past recalled and future imagined. Instead of describing in detail what each page and stage means to me, I would rather let them speak to you directly. Perhaps they will say something different to you – here they are. I have created a GALLERY view, so you need only click on the cover image and then you easily can scroll through the sketchbook by clicking the arrows.
FLOW is my chosen theme word for 2020 and I have been focusing on staying in a calm, creative mindset as life swirls all about me. I am exploring all my art supplies, organizing all my music projects, and gathering and sorting all kinds of multi-media materials–my inspirational triggers, all in an effort to keep me in a creative frame of mind for the year ahead.
Today, when I decided to write about this theme here, as luck would have it, my first issue of Flow Magazine arrived in the mail from the Netherlands–a holiday gift subscription from my mother. I took it as a confirmation from the Universe that I am truly in the groove!
Part of my personal process, as one year ends and another begins, is to prepare a daily journal to reflect on my theme and to note the things in my life that make one day different from the previous ones. I find that if I do not keep this practice, one day can blend into the next and into the next, and I start to forget the little wonderful things that made me feel something (happy or sad or amused or grateful.)
I bought this year’s blank journal at Fiumicino Airport in Rome. I saw it at the Vatican Gift Shop there and I liked the weight of the paper and the protective cover. It is a little smaller than the journals I have created before, but I figured out a way to divide each page to allow for two days worth of bulleted entries.
As I set up my journal this year I sporadically stopped to take some photos and I thought I would just add a few of the images here to illustrate my process. You may be able to tell that in addition to choosing a theme for the year, each month I choose images and inspirational quotes to use as separation pages in the journal. This year I selected 4 colors of washi tape to define the seasons:
I was able to squeeze in all 365 days of the year by dividing most of the journal pages and using small rubber stamps to designate the date and day of the week. Yes, you may notice that I used a little liquid paper to cover up any ink that decided to go rogue.
I left blank pages after each monthly page in order to lay out a special focus for myself. I don’t know in advance what each monthly theme will be, but I find it easier to be creative when I set some wide parameters for myself. (This is true when I am creating a song, a collage, or an introspection practice.)
One of the cool things that happened while I was gathering images was finding a postcard with an image of seed pods. It is a photo from the 1920s taken by Karl Blossfeldt. Finding this image prompted me to explore his other work and I was blown away by his sense of balance and esthetics. His photography inspired many of the visual artists of the day. I created a bookmark out of it. It seems like a simple photo, but it is NOT, and I continue to see more each time I gaze at it.
January is over now and all its pages are filled with the highs and lows of my daily life. As I prepare to choose my February theme I will find some quiet time to reflect on what I have accomplished so far and what my hearts calls for next and then I will fill more pages with these thoughts and goals.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2020, full of things that make you feel happy and fulfilled!
Times Sq. confetti collected on New Year’s Day 2020
P.S. In addition to the Flow Magazine issue 34 that arrived today, for further introspection I have begun a 5-Year journal called “One Question A Day” and I’m reading this brilliant Flow hardcover book from 2016 that I found practically new at a local used book store:
Happy 90th Birthday to Dr. Barry Harris! Many of his loved ones, friends, and students are gathering tonight in New York City to celebrate this wonderful occasion. I want to take this opportunity to post my crazy little birthday song in the hopes that I can sing it to him at some point.
Happy birthday, Barry! And happy birthday to anyone who hears this song on the day chosen for them to be born here on planet Earth (big smile). Today’s the Day!
Today’s the Day An original “Happy Birthday” song
by Laurie Early.
Today’s the day today’s the day today’s the day that you were born
and the world’s not been the same
not since you learned your name on this wonderful day when you were born.
Today’s the day today’s the day today’s the day that you were born and the world’s not since we heard your name so here’s a HOORAY!
that you were born
on this wonderful,
(can’t say enough
‘cause it’s totally magical)
day when you were born
This day is so lucky
it was chosen
as your day
to be born!
I almost cried when I saw the artichoke; it seemed to be trying to hide from me as I lifted off a small cardboard cover. I did not yet know what other surprises awaited me but it almost didn’t matter because I knew that a Sicilian-style stuffed artichoke was in my near future!
This is the story of my third weekly shipment of fruits and vegetables from Misfits Market, a delivery service that brings farm-fresh produce right to my door. I also like how it forces me to plan my meals a little more thoughtfully as I need to eat (and/or cook and refrigerate) everything while it is still fresh.
As some of you may know, I live in Manhattan. There are no farms here, at least none that I am aware of. I had a dream once of growing vegetables on a rooftop garden. I took a bunch of books out of the library and researched what I would need to do to build an elevated garden based on the square-foot gardening system. Unfortunately, even though it was entirely possible for me to construct the frames and buy the potting soil and other supplies, I never lived in a building that would allow me “rooftop access” for this project. [Here is a NYTimes article about the method that has a nice couple of photos.]
A few years ago friend in Italy sent me a fun duo of melamine plates that I usually use on special occasions. But yesterday I decided to use the orange colored plate as I prepared a cucumber, mango, and blueberries for breakfast. I was struck by how pretty it all looked arranged it on the cheerful plate. I took a photo of it and created a “painting” using a filter. I have used it as my main photo (above).
This week’s shipment reveal:
LINK to Misfits Market – This post was my idea, I wanted to write about something from my ‘regular’, non-musical, day-to-day, life. I am not getting paid to promote this produce delivery service. However, as luck would have it, I got this referral link in my email yesterday and if you click on it and subscribe you will save 30% off your first order and I will get 50% off of one of mine. So, as we say in NYC, “Such a deal!”
Here is a photo of everything that arrived this week, with a few descriptions of how they were prepared and/or consumed. I buy the smallest box they sell but it is the perfect amount for me right now.
Starting at the upper left are 3 onions which are all gone now, 2 days later, as I chopped one up and mixed it into veggie burgers, one was added to some pasta sauce, and the last one was sautéed with the 2 zucchini (upper right corner). At the top is a bunch of “Organic Sweet Baby Broccoli” which I steamed and served as a side dish with the burgers.
You can see the beautiful artichoke (which I did stuff and eat and it was delicious!) next to the zucchini and next to that you can see I also got 3 apples. I ate one of the apples, but I still had some left over from the last shipment, and so I will be making either applesauce or apple cake, it all depends on how hot I want my apartment to become in July (turning on the oven to bake is not always the best idea.)
Underneath the artichoke is a small bunch of red-leaf lettuce that was immediately thrown into a salad. (I don’t think it was more than an hour or two after I had put everything in the refrigerator. It was the first thing totally consumed from this group of goodies.)
The butternut squash, tucked under the red leaves a bit in this photo, is still waiting to be roasted. I am waiting for a cooler day as the oven will need to be on for an hour to properly cook that. The same goes for the 5 small red potatoes, if I decide to roast them I will need to wait. I may end up boiling them, will see.
It is hard to see, but in the plastic container is a bunch of fresh blueberries. They did not last long. Half of them went in my breakfast (see photo of orange plate full of fabulousness), and I do not know who ate the rest. There are also 2 mangos and an English cucumber. They have not been eaten yet as I still had a whole mango and half a cucumber leftover from last week. It takes a few days for the mangos to ripen and so far I have gotten 6 of them. I now seem to have one ready to eat a couple of times a week, love that!
Lastly, nestled in the green plastic bag at the lower left corner of the photo, are 2 green bell peppers. I am glad I cut the bag open and checked on them because they must have had a rough trip to my apartment. One of them had a spiky, sword-like, stem; it attacked the other pepper with it, sliced it open! Not a problem at all, I simply washed it, chopped it up, and sautéed it with one of the onions then added it all to some sauce–served over linguini. It was very tasty.
Each week I have received a different mix of things. It is like a produce christmas day. I get so excited to see what is in the box! In the last shipment I received a beautiful eggplant, a bunch of red radishes and some gangly but tasty carrots which have been making me happy for days, adding color and crunch to my salads. It is also one of my favorite lunches to eat thinly sliced radishes on Wasa or other crispy flatbread. I use a little Olivio (olive oil spread) on the flatbread, spread out the radishes and sprinkle with a little salt. I make a nice hot cup of green or white tea (unsweetened) and I am all set. Yes, so happy!
A quick post this month as I have been resting and healing and generally catching up on musical and personal projects. I have learned a new song in Italian, “E la chiamano estate”, polished the vocalese on a couple of Lester Young/Teddy Wilson tunes that have been on my “FINISH THIS NOW” list for a long time: Our Love is Here to Stay, and Blues in C Sharp Minor, and started writing lyrics for two original melodies (for two new friends). I have some good starts on a few original tunes too, so there is something to be said for being house-bound another month with my sciatica issue.
Here is a bit of vocalese from 6 years ago. Barry wrote lyrics on Bird Feathers that are really fun to sing. We perform this song in his choir, but I wanted to sing it as a solo and to keep going a bit longer, so I wrote this additional lyric. The cool thing about this is that the word at the end of each section matches the opening word of the next, so you can slide into the next verse by holding on to the word. (I will post Barry’s lyrics first followed by mine so you can see how it connects.)
and felt an urge to be around
my somebody new
all of the time
to me a wonderful joy I couldn’t describe
made me feel
oh, so good inside
that can stop the thrill of love
when it all comes true
and you find that special
someone for you
Barry has a special section here instead of repeating the first A (above):
Yes, yes, yes!
Love is such a beautiful thing
(Man, you know when it hits)
Makes you feel so good
(Stars are bound to come out)
Makes you happy to shout,
I’m in Love, I’m in Love, I’m in Love,
I’m in Love!
My back is messed up. No use in going over why this happens to me periodically. I will accept that it is for me to deal with even though the initial cause was out of my control. Yes, I know what I am supposed to be doing to avoid a recurrence of this pain–yet it continues to plague me. I should avoid sitting for long periods of time in folding chairs. I should get up at least once an hour and walk around. I should not sit hunched over my computer for 6 hours straight. I should lose weight. I should practice yoga more consistently; the list goes on and on.
I understand that other people deal with chronic pain and have much more intense experiences than the few weeks I am disabled by sciatica pain and random back spasms. Perhaps they have ways to deal with it other than the ice packs, ibuprofen, bedrest and stretching exercises I use as my main healing techniques. Mostly though, I wait and DISTRACT myself with work, sleep, music, random mind puzzles, and listening to inspirational videos and other resources online.
I meant to write a really uplifting post this month, I procrastinated as long as I could waiting for the last hour of the last day to post this. And having finally gotten something written, it now seems like I have devolved into what feels like whining to me. So, in order to add something interesting and positive, I share an excerpt from my old blog “Pig in the Clouds” where I describe how to make little refrigerator magnets.
May you all have happy spines. That is what I want for myself right now, so I wish it for you too.
Mini Bubble Magnet Sets
The mini-bubble magnet sets are done! I thought about adding little embellishments to the tops of these small round bubble gems, but I just liked them WAY too much the way they were–simple, geometric, but still holding on to an organic energy. Glass and paper make me very happy.
As I was creating these latest mini gem sets I attempted to photograph some of my process. This was not as easy as I had imagined; balancing the camera; keeping glue off the lens; adding silicone and getting shots before it set; and of course making sure the magnets did not get too frisky and kiss before the adhesive set! (If this happens I have to pry them apart, clean everything off and start the adhesion part over.)
So, after I clean my clear gems, I don’t have photos of any of this part, the first thing I do is pick 5 pieces that will fit nicely in a tin. This will be one “set”.
Next, I find a background image I like. I am generally attracted to textiles and other things with a bit of light, shadow and texture. I trace each of the 5 gems and cut out the circle-like shapes.
Then, I look for tiny images that will “float” on top of the background and I cut those out.
For my latest sets I chose pictures of beads and glass shapes. I love photos of glass – almost as much as I love glass itself. This may stem from being surrounded by glass globes and other glass objects when I was a child, hanging out at my father’s industrial design studio after school. Or maybe in an alternate universe I am a glass artist creating melted pieces in my kiln. (I say alternate universe because I do not think I have the arm or lung strength for that job in this life.)
Okay, back to the how-to…
After I have designed a set, I apply acrylic medium to the back of each gem. I use a cotton swab because I have found too many paintbrush hairs imbedded in previous pieces and they are a pain to remove after the acrylic has dried.
In this medium puddle I place the “floater” images FACE DOWN. Remember. you are working in reverse and when the medium dries it will be clear. Look closely, you may be able to see that there is a little piece of blue paper near the center of the photo (directly below) where my fingers are encrusted with dried glue.
You can continue adding things upside down, keeping in mind that the things you lay down first will appear on top of the things you apply afterwards. (I meant to add some fibers but could not locate them this time, oh well, will add those to the next sets I make.)
When you are done adding your smaller images, coat the front of your paper background–the somewhat circle-shaped piece–with a little medium (it may curl, do not worry, it will relax after the medium has soaked in a bit.)
Place the paper circle on your gem (front-side down just like everything else) and rub it gently with your finger, you can add a small amount of medium to the back of the paper now if it makes it easier for you to rub. Turn the gem over and look for any bubbles of air that may be trapped between the glass and the paper and rub them out towards the edges. Do not be concerned if medium oozes out too, you can wipe it away with a slightly damp cloth, or wait until it is dry and scrape it off the glass with your fingernail. After you have rubbed out all the bubbles, apply a full coat of medium to the back of the paper to seal it.
Place the upside down gem somewhere safe to dry – you will know it is fully dry when you turn it over and it is clear – the images will POP! While they were drying, I divided my sets with swabs so they would not get mixed together.
After they are dry, add a small dab of CLEAR silicone adhesive (caulk) to the back of each gem. It will look white at first but I know you made sure to read the label before your purchase and you bought the kind that dries clear or “translucent”. In this photo you can see my other very expensive “set separating device” a folded piece of torn junk mail.
Into each dab of caulk place a magnet. I know it looks a little messy at this point, but trust me, push it down and wiggle it a bit so that the caulk comes up over the top of the sides a little – this will hold it really when when fully dried (or “cured” in caulking language.)
Let them dry – let them dry really well – let them dry upside down for about two days, even longer if they are the large gems and you have used a bunch o’caulk. You want the caulk to be clear and hard so it will work well and stay in one piece, like any child *smile*.
Oh, and while they are drying keep them far from your computer, electronics, credit cards, VHS tapes, etc. ANYTHING that would be negatively impacted by magnets. And please, really, keep them widely spaced so they do not kiss before they are dry, so annoying to repair.
When you are done you will have some unique little pieces of art to display on your refrigerator, office cubicle cabinets, or other magnetic place in your life!