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Ebb and Flow

Hibernation Mode

Adinkra for CREATIVITY

Creativity stampMost 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.

Dead pensIn 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.

Old oil pastels 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.)

Clean Cray-Pas 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.

planning ebb and flow

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.

Cluster on FLOW

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.]

mapping out ebb and flowBased 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).

my color paletteAnother 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.

ExpansionIn 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.

Links for more information:
The Sketchbook Project — Brooklyn Art Library – Main Information page about the project
Brooklyn Art Library – Facebook page

UPDATE February 28, 2022 – “The moving trailer that was transporting the entire Sketchbook Project collection from Brooklyn to St. Pete, Florida, caught fire while driving through Baltimore….we estimate we may have lost around 7,000 books of the collection and most of our supplies that helped us operate as an organization.”

(Click on the update link for the full report and request for donations.)

My heart was not prepared for this. Other artists seem to have a stronger character about losing their book(s) to a fire. I wish I could be more like them. So now I am waiting along with everyone else for some sort of notification about the status of my sketchbook. In light of what is going on in the world, intellectually I know this is a small sacrifice. Nevertheless, art is my escape, my solace, and in this case my attempt to leave something behind that my descendants might see and feel connected to me. (Holding back a tear.)



My 2020 Notebooks

Preparing for 2020 (Keeping Notebooks II)

My 2020 NotebooksFLOW 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!

2020 Confetti

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:

Today’s the Day!

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!

Listen to “Today’s the Day!” by clicking here.

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,
marvelous, glorious,
(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!
Happy Birthday!

Vegetables in Manhattan (A summer fluff piece)

Misfits reveal
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:

1. The box arrives!
2. The box top!
3. Ice packs!
Misfits reveal 4. My first glimpse!
5. A free recipe!
6. Reusable ice packs!

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!

This broccoli was SO delicious!
Radishes on flatbread for lunch ❤








Bird Feathers

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.)

Happy Summer, y’all!

Bird Feathers

[based on a melody by Charlie Parker]

©Barry Harris


I fell in love

and felt an urge to be around
my somebody new
all of the time
This urge
to me a wonderful joy I couldn’t describe
made me feel
oh, so good inside
there’s nothing
that can stop the thrill of love
when it all comes true
and you find that special
someone for


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!

Bird Feathers

[based on a melody by Charlie Parker]

©2012 Laurie Early


You are the one

that makes my heartbeat do a dance

your magical smile

found me by chance

my love

I can’t imagine a world without you around

your voice

is just the sweetest sound

my darling

when I fell in love with you

all my skies turned blue

and my wildest crazy dreams

all came true


True love is ours

we knew it from the very start

your passionate kiss

captured my heart

so sweet

so lovely, oh so intimate and cool

Baby, we are each other’s fool

from now on

what was mine belongs to you

for you’ve given me

hope and promise for a

future that’s new

Becoming collage

Magnets and Distractions

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.

Becoming collage

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.

Pig in the Clouds

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!

Authenticity (Happy Birthday Billie Holiday)

Everyone’s got to be different. You can’t copy anybody and end up with anything. If you copy, it means you’re working without any real feeling. And without feeling, whatever you do amounts to nothing.” -Billie Holiday

This quote is so powerful. I had not heard it before this morning and it has pulled up some deep thoughts for me. I think there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between being INSPIRED by someone’s performance, and/or striving to capture a spirit that another artist has managed to achieve with a tune — through their choices of tempo, rhythm, depth of harmonic understanding, etc. (combined with the feelings evoked from within their heart based on their life experiences) — and COPYING.

I also believe it is a valuable exercise to STUDY the work of other artists and to ANALYZE why something they do well is unique and brilliant, … but, yes…it is QUITE ANOTHER THING to memorize and/or copy someone else’s performance and pass it off as your own work.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that some people who do this really believe they are talented and creative rather than just being excellent copiers*.

In the spirit of concern and love for musicianship combined with authenticity, I say to them: “think about it, when you copy another person’s work you are not being authentic with your audience, you are not being authentic with yourself, and ultimately, you are not developing a way to tap into expressing your feelings through the music, through your performance. You are not building an authentic creative process for yourself, just a creative ‘trick’. There are intangible, introspective steps that you are skipping by simply copying. Your ego might be happy about the reaction of your listeners who believe you are fully expressing yourself, but your soul may be left wanting a deeper connection, a way forward that will transform how you communicate the energy of your true self through EVERY song, not just the one you are passing off as totally your creation/energy.”

Happy Birthday Billie Holiday. OFTEN copied, NEVER duplicated, always an authentic expression of her own truth.

7 April 2019 – Laurie Early (songwriter, NYC)

*Yes, I know there must be a better word than “copiers” which to me implies a photocopying machine. I considered “copyist” but in music that means someone who transcribes written music (and I didn’t want to confuse the issue.) “Copycat” seemed a little too juvenile a word, so I nixed that one too. Feel free to comment on a better alternative 🙂

Free Inspiration


The best things in life, like inspiration, are free. I walk down a new street and chance to see a poem pasted to a wall. The words inspire me; the random discovery inspires me; the sense of the sublime presented in a crude, common way inspires me. Someone else before me has apparently been inspired to add a red heart on top of the words, their spontaneous red curving lines spilling out onto the wall itself. I take a photo and post it here on my blog because this public display of words and thoughts and art inspires me to post my writings in public too. The domino-effect could continue on and on, depending on who sees it, who values it, who sees something personal in it, who is moved to take creative action.

The poem above speaks of dancing in the square (nella piazza), and I visualize the dancers, eyes locked to one another, performing the tango for anyone who wants to watch. Was the poem inspired by a real dance? I am reminded of lyrics I have been inspired to write about dancing [Let Me Sing This Dance With You]. Have my song lyrics inspired anyone to think of “singing a dance” with someone they love? Each inspirational trigger is like a pebble thrown into a quiet pond, creating concentric ripples. Where will the ripples travel? Who will they reach? What will be created when a handful of pebbles is tossed at the same time–when a group of people create together and the ripples merge into more exotic patterns? That to me is the ultimate “return on investment”. Pure alchemy–lead into gold. I am grateful to anyone who has created something or done something that inspires me to create. That is pure wealth.

Below are just some of the inspirational photos I have taken recently. Some just make me happy and that inspires me to be more joyful each day. Some are what I call “lyrical triggers” because I use them as fodder for my journaling, my visual art projects, and my songwriting. And, some are just plain uplifting or amusing to me, they make me laugh or make me think more deeply; that’s valuable to me too.

Time will tell which of these triggers will transform into a truly meaningful creative expression, but for now, I share the images with you here. Happy Spring! -Laurie

Carousels – Not For Me

This weekend I will be avoiding the luggage carousel by traveling light. I will also attempt to avoid any feeling of traveling in circles as just the *thought* of this makes me physically tired. I long to move forward. Perhaps I am feeling an anticipatory exhaustion because it has been so cold lately, and so very dark in the little room where I work by myself. Perhaps I am mourning the loss of the extra days that are cut off at the end of February, (I feel like I have skipped something important. Is it March already?) Or, perhaps I am just tired of the same-ness of each day so far this year. They seem to circle ’round and ’round on themselves like a merry-go-round where I am the only rider, and a calliope tune droning on in the background is never-changing. This is not a complaint, just a fanciful observation of what I am experiencing.

Tonight I am struggling to gather the physical energy to pack the bare essentials, to plan my journey, and to generally “get my ass in gear.” I will do it. I am not worried. I hold out the hope that once Saturday arrives, and I am up in the air, and off of the larger carousel called “New York City”, I will make a grab at the Universe’s sparkling brass ring and the merry-go-round will stop. I hold out the hope that this trip across the ocean will once again ignite some buried creative impulse, nourish some lyrical seeds, and inspire me to write something meaningful.

I will be carrying these lyrics with me, written for a waltz that waits for me there, in EUR. If I’m lucky, I will have a full lead sheet produced for it by Spring.

©2018 Laurie Early
(EUR – music by Nicola Borrelli)

I had a dream
I thought it was real,
something to hold, to love,
to see, and to feel,
but the dream was untrue,
left my heart tired and blue,
and now there’s no hope left in me.

I used to yearn
to travel afar,
but then I learned
that I can’t follow my star.
So, I sit here alone
in the shadow of Rome
and mourn my dream,
a dream that wasn’t supposed to be,
no, not for me.

I had, a dream
it kept me alive,
calmed all my fears, for years.
It helped me survive,
but the dream was untrue,
so there’s nothing to do
but wait for life to start again.

Perhaps, one day
I’ll see a new light,
some kind of way to pierce
the dark of this night.
Still, I sit here alone,
on these gray steps of stone,
and mourn my dream,
a dream that never was meant to be,
no, not for me.

NYC – A Day in the Moment

Certain things grabbed my attention recently as I traveled from commitment to commitment. Manhattan is full of activity, but I consciously tried to stay in the moment and keep my mind as quiet as possible. Because of this intention to be especially observant, a few small things remained in my mind long after I saw them. I noted them for further reflection, and this blog post is the result.

Navy blue confetti, Wow! One piece has survived, folded and battered, yet still intact. It is stuck to the curb on the street where I live, near the United Nations—far from Times Square where the confetti was ceremoniously released in celebration on New Year’s Eve, more than three weeks ago. How it managed to stay dry, and full of color for this long, through the cold and rain, is a mystery. Blue can be a color of hopefulness, and in this case maybe even resilience.

Each New Year’s Day I take a stroll outside looking for any confetti that was carried by wind as far as my block. I am always surprised that these little shards of tissue paper can travel so far overnight. Sometimes, if there is snow, they melt into it, creating colored patches as they dissolve. This is my way of starting the new year, searching for color on a gray winter’s day. Seeing the little blue square this late in the month felt like another New Year’s Day, a reminder that we can start a new cycle anytime, not just on January 1st.

As I wait for an E train to take me to a rehearsal across town, a trumpet starts to play Besame Mucho somewhere further down the platform. I cannot see who is playing, but I am immediately reminded of conflicting travel memories—thoughts of my trumpet playing friends in Sicily, Rome, and London (How are they? What are they doing? When will I see/hear them again?), fighting for brain space with my thoughts of Besame Muchotime spent in Madrid, and questioning why I never learned Spanish. (Big regret, I should have taken Spanish in school.)

I look up and see I am standing beneath a sign that reads, “Do not wait for trains in this area.” I realize I am an accidental rebel. I do not move. I decide to wait right there for my train.

I filmed this moment of rebellion, I mean revelation, on my phone.
Click on photo for brief video on DropBox

The only thing I wish I had not seen was a sidewalk vendor selling honey-roasted nuts. I was taking a cab across to 55th street and for a few minutes we were stopped at a red light. My window faced the vendor and I watched him stirring the nuts in what looked like a copper bowl over some sort of heat source. It smelled very nice, especially on such a cold day. It was also very relaxing to watch him cook.

Then, he paused and bent down to pick up some nuts off of the sidewalk, 3 or 4 of them that had bounced out of the bowl under his cart. As he stood up again, I assumed he would throw these nuts in the trash, but he didn’t, he threw them back in with the others that had not finished caramelizing.

At first, my “New-Yorker-ish-ness” kicked in and I wanted to shout at him, or report him to the Department of Health, to do something. But, the cab pulled away from the corner, and I started to second-guess myself—I thought that perhaps I had not seen it all correctly. I was left with so many questions: Maybe he threw the nuts into the fire and because of my angle from the cab I did not see that they were destroyed? Maybe, even if he did throw them back in the cooking bowl, the heat would burn away any germs? Would I ever eat from any vendor again? Would I hold all other vendors accountable for the actions of this one? That did not seem fair either. There must be many vendors who would be appalled by this story and tell me about how they maintain a high standard of hygiene for their product. Part of the fun of visiting a city is trying out the street food, I just don’t want to eat food that has actually touched the street—that is where I draw the line.