Category Archives: muician

Five years later …

or nearly so, I am still sorting through my late husband’s things.

I should be past overpowering sadness by now.

I suppose I am, mostly.

But being a writer and photographer hinders that absolution.

Just when I begin to ascertain peace in my life, words intervene; I write about him and tear those nearly closed wounds open again.

It is as though he died this day, this moment, this hour.

Sadness seeps through the crevices the words carve.

Normal humans move forward, live their lives, make something of themselves from the shattered remains.

I want that, too.

But I’m a writer.

I’m a photographer.

I keep tearing those wounds, just as they’re healing, open.

I love writing about everything and photographing God’s perfect beauty; but it has a price.

I pay dearly through my words for they rip open wounds I’ve desperately attempted to close.

I bleed, painfully, and use photography to heal me.

Each image I capture stitches the brokenness and, simultaneously, pours remembrance on not quite yet healed hurts.

If one is not an artist of some kind, time will ease your pain.

For the rest of us, those with creative pieces in our soul, time simply laughs.

When the words, melodies and images are in our head and heart, there is little time can do.

What it can do is soon undone by what we are.

Sadness is my destiny, peace my hope.

And yet I write.

I photograph.

My hope is great.

My healing never really comes.

I have to ask myself if I would be willing to sacrifice my writing and photography for peace.

No, I answer.

I can live without peace.

To live without words and images would truly and altruistically destroy me.

That which brings me sadness will fuel my hope.

I am a writer and photographer.

Therein lies my hope.

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What is it about music …

that has the ability to soothe the soul while it simultaneously sends it reeling in turmoil and heartache, joy and sadness; reminiscing and rebelling even as it brings us back, unto ourselves, full circle?

That is is the beauty of it, is it not, to touch the untouchable space in the soul and spark the imagination? To make us think beyond what we know so that we try to touch on that which we weren’t even aware we wanted to know?

Part of the mystery?  The enigma?  The fascination?

I listen to music for hours every day, various genres ranging from hard, head-banging rock, to soothing  yet heartbreaking cello, to piano concertos. There are soaring arias, operatic manifestations that vary widely from my beloved Bryn to local, struggling, yet resilient talent, all of which move me on one one level or another.

Move me to seek, to find, to think, to imagine, to embrace and learn what I’ve always wanted to know.  It, music, is a kind of courage that makes one feel worthy to not only want to know, but to feel that they have right to discover.

It is empowering, this music of which I speak and it belongs to all of us.

Listening to music and interpreting it is no different really, than developing the photographs I take and finding in each one something magnificent or a flaw that makes it unintelligible and useless on every level.

Music is the same.

There are pieces that I listen to daily because I cannot help myself.  I love them, the sound of them, the places they take my mind whether I want to go or not and that is part of its power.

The power to take one on a journey, maybe pleasurable, possibly painful, but a journey that will leave the listener feeling more than they felt before and less because now, they realize that they were, prior to this moment, incomplete.

It is a humbling experience, understanding music and feeling a connection.

Anyone can hear music, but only some can comprehend it understand it and seek it because the choice, once they have experienced it, is no longer their own.

They are a slave to the sound, the vibrations, the magic that music has to offer.

There are composers who enamor me more than others, some very well known, some known not at all.

It makes little difference, at the end of the day.

There are composers I love to hear and conductors I love to watch. Some, at their very core, are nothing less than brilliant.

There are songs that are sappy and sentimental that pull at me just as there are instrumentals that draw from the depths of my inner being and make me feel things that I had either forgotten or purposely hidden away.

I’m still not sure how I feel about those except they evoke emotions that I’m not fully prepared to embrace.

It is during these indecisive moments that I throw things at mirrors, shattering them and feeling perfectly fine about it.

Whether it soothes my spirit, fries my brain or breaks my heart, I need music; it is the language, fourth to words, shadow and light, of my blood.

I can’t play a note of it, but I have an innate understanding of it.

It moves me like the river flowing over the rocks that I so dearly love.

Without music, everything else in my life would go on as it always has, but all of the emotions would be diluted. That, to me, is a sobering thought.

ClevelandOH-34Severance Hall … Cleveland Orchestra … Mahler’s First.

tay_musicMy favorite trumpeter …

Lightning over Big MoccasinProof that nature is full of music and miraculous things…

powelvalley_windsofmtnempire-301The joy of simply knowing what music is about …

clarinethandsA clarinetists’ hands … music and beauty and awesomeness lives therein …

There is something about rain …

the sound of it, anyway, that is mesmerizing.

I love it.

I find myself getting lost in it.

The soft sounds or the heavy, torrential pounding that a good storm can produce.

Imagine my joy when I recently learned that there is a musical instrument that can make the sound of rain.

It is called a rainstick and, as with all things that are new to me, I had to find out more about it.

What is it?  Where does it come from?  What is it made of?  What makes it work?  How does that sound get inside?

I asked all of these questions and went in search of answers.

I found them.

I was told only that the sound of rain in a friend’s musical composition was made by a rainstick which he described as “a percussion instrument that lets pebbles cascade over small spikes”.

With that image in mind,  it was hard for me to imagine something other than plinko.  You know, drop the disk and let it bounce off spikes and hope it falls into the slot you were shooting for.  It is a game, one of pure chance, and I was not about to be satisfied with that.

After researching the rainstick, I found the history of it to be most fascinating.  So fascinating, in fact, that I almost forgot why I was looking it up to begin with.

As it turns out, the origin of the traditional South American rain stick isn’t known, not definitively, anyway.  Indian tribes in Chile, Peru and Mexico all lay claim to having invented them, and one compelling theory contends that African slaves who arrived in the New World during the Spanish occupation brought them.

The euphonious sound of the traditional rainstick were supposedly once thought to have the power to bring rain and was used in prayer ceremonies among the Aztecs as well as others.  The sound was so lovely, however, that it made its way into the making of music, something that is as old as time itself.  Music.  And, now that I think about it, rain, as well.

The rainstick is made primarily from the dried Eulychnia acida, or Capao cactus after it has lived a long and healthy sixty plus years.  The “arms” are harvested, dried, cleaned and  hollowed out.  Spines are pushed into the hard body of the cactus and many very small stones are sealed inside.  When the instrument is inverted, the stones cascade along the helically spaced spikes making the sound of rain. (There are likely other varieties of cacti that rainsticks can be fashioned from, but Capao came up consistently in my research.)

Ingenious.

As with everything else, however,  it had to be classified, reclassified and sub-classified.  It is now known to be part of the percussion/shaken idiophone family.  The shaken part is, as any music nerd can likely tell you, a sub-category of the idiophone.  Me?  I had to look it up.

I listened to the piece that drew my attention to the instrument over and over while writing this post.  I listened to it because it is brilliantly done and pleasing to the ear.  The fact that is was written by a friend was coincidental, but he doesn’t need to know that I found such favor with it.  Don’t take my word for it, though, take a listen and judge for yourselves and then decide if you can live out the rest of your life without owning your own rainstick.

I decided that I couldn’t.  I’m expecting it in the mail by next Friday.

Today, I learned …

a lesson in minimalism.

Before today, I didn’t realize it was a style of music.  The first piece I heard I hated.

“Rather be staked to an anthill than have to listen to it again”  hated.

But I am a seeker of knowledge and know that just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a genre by one artist.

So I went seeking.

I found some interesting things, fascinating sounds, hypnotic renditions, all of which had one thing in common; they put me in the mindset of waiting for something to happen.

The other shoe to drop.

On the edge of my seat, knowing that any moment, something would jump out or change or become irregular.

But it didn’t.

I found that, while it may not move to the top of my playlist, there were some pieces I liked.  I even found one by Steve Reich I found enjoyable.  (Yes, only one, Mr. Reich … I mean, I know it was your birthday and all, but I really meant that whole “staked to an anthill” thing).

The search unearthed a lovely and yet somehow disturbing piece by Jimmie Peggy called Angelus Domini.  I was most certainly waiting for something to jump out at me on this one.  I even went so far as to cover my eyes at one point … just in case.

And then there was Philip Glass.  I’m still not certain if this is the same Philip Glass, pianist extraordinaire, who takes up a lot of space in my playlists, but I was intrigued just the same.

The pièce de résistance of my experimental searching came when I ran across Dan Holland’s “Mahatma”.  I was swept off my feet by this simple, yet complicated piece of music.

One could formulate the opinion that it was because it was played on piano.

I do love the piano.

That wasn’t the reason, though.

It left me breathless and exhilarated.

Maybe even enthralled.

I’m not certain I have ever felt enthralled about anything, but I imagine it felt a bit like that.

And I believe it would have even if it had been played on another instrument.

I may never know the answer to that question, but the answer to the question “do I like minimalism”?  Some of it, yeah, surprisingly, I do.

I love learning new things.  They make me more than I was yesterday and whatever I learn tomorrow will make me more than I am today.

And so it will continue until I die.  I’ll never know everything, but each thing changes me, for good or bad, one way or the other, and from each one of them, I learn.

I grow.

I become.

I owe a friend who was honoring the birthday of Steve Reich for this journey.  Had I not subjected myself to seven minutes of hell, I would have had no idea this genre existed; and because I subjected myself to seven minutes of hell, I went in search of something less hellish.

A good day all around.  A good day, indeed.

Mahatma … by Dan Holland

When the wheel never stops turning …

life can become more of a trial than a joy.

The thought process becomes so discombobulated with the inundation of information and images that simply focusing on what is relevant becomes a near impossibility.

My family and friends know that some of my blogs are about them.  They are about life as I live it, so how could they not be?

This particular blog is about photographs that aren’t my own; photographs I want to take.

It is about images I want to see with my own eyes, not through someone else’s.

It is about the words that surround the images.

It is about the music I play that enhances the images and the words that describe them.

It is about the the things I dream of.

These statements alone make me sound like some kind of fanatic, but I’m not a fanatic.

I am a photographer.

I am a writer.

I am (somewhere in my soul) a musician.

I want to see, write and hear for myself.

Experience the heat, the cold, the adrenaline, the magic, the music, the inspiration, the awe.

I work for a living so that I can traipse around to places I want to see, photograph them and then write about them.

It may sound as though I am putting down the importance of nursing, something I have done for 25 years.

I’m not.

Just today, a patient made me cry when he told me that I was a bright spot in his day and he looked forward to my visits more than he did meal-time.

If you have ever been in the hospital, you know that meal-time is one of the highlights, and so I felt very moved.

But I wanted, more than to speak with him and encourage him, to photograph him.

I have been on a photographic journey, teaching myself, learning from others, finding God in the creation He so beautifully paints, for more than 30 years.

It is my center.  My sense of self.

My life is made up of images.  They rotate through my head like a never-ending carousel .

Image after image after image after image.

And the words.

Mrs. Campbell in eleventh grade gave me the courage to have  confidence in my words.

She was my favorite teacher and the one, above all, that I remember the most.

And yet, I digress. (But thanks, Mrs. C)

I can’t even begin to explain, with all of my words, what the words, when coupled with the images, does to me.

It shatters me on a level that is the most perfect shattering a person could ever hope for.

I wonder sometimes if I am vain.  I certainly don’t think much of myself, so that kind of vanity is out, but the images … I like them.  I want others to like them.  I desire, not to be famous, or even rich, but to simply be able to live out my life doing what I love.

I don’t think that is too much to ask, but therein lies the vanity.

I look at myself and see nothing special … I look at the images I see through the eyes God gave me and I see great things.

I don’t mind, particularly, sleeping in my car.  I don’t need much more than toast-chee crackers and an occasional diet Dr. Pepper.

But I need to see.

To experience.

To feel.

I want to know what a North Dakota winter looks like, what a New Orleans Summer smells like, what driving along the coast road from California to Washington State feels like.

I want to see the beauty, to feel the air, to see the endless flat road of Kansas extending out in front of me.

I want to taste the fog of San Francisco and breathe the vastness of a Montana sky.

I used to think that I wanted too much, but a wise woman (my mamaw Daphne) told me “some people want the simple and others want the extravagant  … wanting is wanting whatever the dream may be”.

She taught me to not be ashamed to want the things I want and dream for the things of which I dream.

If I can see the things I want to see, I won’t need others to show them to me and if I can play the piano myself, I won’t long for someone else to play for me.

So my dreams are this … to see my country and then see Ireland, to play the piano and to have a jeep, preferably red .

That is the extent of the the dreams I have for myself …

I have much deeper and greater dreams for those I love and cherish, but myself?  It is the simple things that stir my heart.

I have hope.

I have faith.

Nothing else is required.

It will happen when it happens.

And it will happen.  Of that, I am certain.

Until next time, be well, my friends … be well.

And don’t forget to dream.

flowersfornini