Category Archives: piano

If I had a song to play …

I would play it now.

But I don’t.

Not because I don’t love music, the sound of it, the melody, the thought-provoking, beauteous sound that it makes.

No, none of those.

I don’t because I can’t play a note.

Not one.

I haven’t even mastered Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which most kindergartners can play on their I-Pads.

It is pathetic, in a profoundly sad kind of way, that I depend of others to give me my music fix.

Ok, let’s be specific.

My piano fix.

I love many kinds of music, but there is something about the piano that takes me to that other place.

I love hands, and that may be part of the obsession.

Hands can tell so much about a person.

Being a photographer, I spend a good deal of time photographing hands as each one has a story to tell.

IMGP6190 (2)

Some are gnarled and twisted with arthritis and yet still maintain the ability to button a jacket.

Some are destined to labor and become calloused and sore as they work, year after year after year.

Some are chosen to be used to create music, others, prose.

Some are used to touch the afflicted, without fear of contamination, and to comfort the comfortless.

Some are of no use at all, hanging silently and without guilt or guile at what they, were they so inclined, could accomplish.

Some are at the ready, pressing the shutter button to capture images that will take the present well into the future in images.

Some are folded, reverently, in prayer as they pray and give thanks for all manner of things.

Hands, more than any other feature, have a story to tell but, as hands, they are too humble to say so.

Look.  See.  Experience.

And know that simply by looking at someone’s hands, you have had a small glimpse into their soul.

handsPapaw’s hands

rideforjuvenilediabetes-22A Cyclist’s Hands

fishermanhandsA Fisherman’s Hands

littlehandsA baby’s hands

violinhandsA Cellist’s hands

clarinethandsA Clarinetist’s hands

bassoonhandA musician’s hands

 

When October goes …

there is an emptiness.  A change in the air, the sky, the trees, the grass, the morning, that reminds us that time is passing.

In a few short weeks, it will be winter and before that even, all of the color of Autumn will be gone.  The trees will become bare, the landscape brown, colorless and bleak, but …

In those long months of seemingly colorless moments, there is a beauty that can only be found in Winter.

Just as each season has its own to offer, Winter is no different.

The trees will be bare of leaves and standing tall and proud, naked sentries during the cold and dreary months of winter.

And then there is snow.

Snow cannot be discounted as one of the most marvelous sights of all creation.

Mornings quieted under a blanket of white that transcends all rational thought.  How can something be so silent and still be so beautiful?

The sound of snow falling, the soft “pfft” it makes as it falls, one flake upon another until there are inches to be measured, is a sound of solace.

solitude

It reminds me a bit of a piano.  It is no secret that I love the piano and have a deep and awe-inspired respect for piano players.  And the snow, as it makes its soft sound while falling makes music that nothing else in nature can duplicate.

I look forward to the snow, laying heavy on the bare branches of the trees, covering the brown grass and leaving the road white, tire and animal tracks evident in its otherwise malevolent stillness.

October is gone, November is here and before we can be fully accustomed to the cold of winter, the tulips of spring will be blooming.

Mother Nature will have her turn again come springtime, but the here and now belongs to Old Man Winter.

He is a shrewd and unpredictable one and I tend to think he likes it that way.

Although October has officially ended, I feel the need to share one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists just to make it official.

Enjoy the remnants of Autumn, relish every day, live every moment and take nothing for granted.

There is, after all, no promise of another day so in actuality, this may very well be the last one.

Look at it, really look at it and see the beauty that surrounds you.  There will never be a moment exactly like the one we are in now.  Time marches on.

That is what time does.  Don’t hold its nature against it.  Instead, embrace it and enjoy each segment as though it were the last.

There can, if each moment is enjoyed and embraced, be no regrets for a life not lived.

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

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

If I were granted a single wish …

I know, without hesitation, what I would wish for.

And, though it is second highest on my list and likely what many of my friends will think of first, my most cherished wish is not to own a  jeep.

It is to be able to play the piano.

No, not simply play it, but to master it.  To become one with it as though it were an extension of myself; much, I suppose, in the way my camera is now.

A part of my heart, my soul, my spirit.

A bursting forth of all the melodies that live inside my head.

I practice and practice and practice and yet never seem to make any real progress.

Oh, I can play at it a bit, but let’s, for a moment, live in reality, shall we?

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t wish I could play.

Wanted, more than anything else, to be able to sit down and just play.

Whatever.

Whenever.

I have friends who play.

My friend Randy is a genius on the piano and many times, I have watched his hands move effortlessly across the keys and found tears that I wasn’t even aware of sliding down my face at the simple beauty of the sight as well as the sound.

He played one of his original pieces at my late husband’s funeral and it was astounding.

It is the song I most request him to play.

And he does.  Play it for me, that is, because he knows I have a love to hear and watch him play.

I have other friends who play, ones I have heard though have not seen, but in my mind, I bring their hands into focus as they make music out of the air they breathe.

I hope, one day, to see it as I hear it, for while it was beautiful to hear, it would be magic to see.

It is the only thing that I can think of that I would give up photography for.

Yes, I said it.

I would trade photography, something I love more than life itself, for the ability to sit at a piano and play with the knowledge and privilege of an accomplished pianist.

Those who play often take it for granted.

That ability.

That gift.

That beauty.

I make music.  Some of it quite lovely … but I don’t read music and therefore cannot write music which leaves me with no way to portray it or save it so that I can play it again.

And so it is, though a lovely thing at the time, lost to me when I need it most.

I don’t want to depend on others for something that completes me and yet, I find myself doing exactly that.

And sometimes, I am simply left wanting, wishing and imagining.

Such is the way of it and, I suppose if I want it to be different, I will have to bring to the surface my inner pianist.

She is there, I know she is.  I just haven’t found her yet.

pianist

a pianists’ hands

I wonder at times …

just what kind of influence I have on my nieces and if it is, in fact, a good thing.

When they come over, we stand in the rain and try to catch raindrops on our tongue.

We stand on the porch in the dark of night, talking to the man in the moon and try to count the stars.

We watch lightning bugs and look for meteors.

We laugh at silly stuff and listen to music.

We bang on the piano keyboard making all manner of noise and then pretend that we know what we are doing.

I play Mahler, Beethoven and Bach for them and then we dance like mad to Crazy Train.

We watch Lord of the Dance and documentaries on Alaska.

We make up songs and sing them loudly, through a hairbrush microphone.

We burn incense and light the lava lamp.

We brew tea using a teaball and have tea parties with Irish Breakfast tea.

We sit in the floor and draw pictures using markers, chalk and crayons.

Blue is my favorite.

We let the dog in the house during a thunderstorm because I have a hard time denying them anything.

We don’t watch TV and we rarely watch movies.  There is so much that is there that they, as little girls, don’t need to know.

There is so much there, that me, as a big girl, don’t need to know.

I want to let them know how much I love them without exposing them to the things about myself that make feel crazy and out of control.

I don’t want them to know that sometimes my thoughts race, my mind falters and I don’t, more than any other hope I have, want them to be like me.

Manic and exasperated or crying and inconsolable.

I want, though, to let them know, that it is OK to be different from everyone else, to march to their own drummer, to follow their dreams and to seek what they want to know.

I want them to know that wherever they go, whatever they do, whatever endeavors they undertake, I will support them, love them and will always, always stand in the rain with them.

joy unspeakable

joy unspeakable

youthful innocence

youthful innocence

Yesterday, a particularly difficult patient said …

you are acting odd; what is wrong with you?

I, with considerable effort, put my overloaded, hyper-extended, full-to-overflowing brain pan into “be nice” mode, rolled my eyes (of this I am certain) and said “I’m sorry, I was momentarily distracted by a conversation I had with your doctor about your condition”.

An over-the-top, bar none, bald-faced lie.

I was stalling until I could catch up to their hatefulness with a smile I didn’t feel and control of a finger I was having trouble restraining.

I was, instead, desperately trying to listen to what they said, their concerns, fears and complaints.

It was a strenuous effort to hold on to their words, to hear their voice.  I was elsewhere, anywhere, everywhere.

It is where I have been for the past few weeks and quite frankly, I was exhausted by trying to be here when I am there and there when I am here and somewhere when I am everywhere.

It is not polite to tell patients to shut the hell up … that all they do is moan and complain about things that are mundane on any ordinary day.

Never mind that, in this establishment, such activity is frowned upon.

Severely frowned upon.

I want to tell them this; listen … I got up this morning with a thousand random thoughts running through my head, barely remembered to wash my hair while I was in the shower (my legs remain unshaven because, dammit, I forgot while I was thinking about the sunrise over the desert west of Las Vegas, a sight I have never seen but hope to and the thought of shaving my legs never entered my mind during the sunrise scene.)

I washed my body simply because there was an escape clause somewhere in my brain that says you must take a shower daily, wash your hair and wash your body (with soap, not just water), but there is nothing that says “you know, you really should shave your legs”.

I suppose I realize that is a necessity once the hair starts being evident through my clothes.  Do people notice?  Probably.  Do I?  Not until I cause myself hair-inflicted injury during a nightmare (or on a good, though extremely rare night), an erotic,  racy dream of some sort.

Talk about a downer, when in the midst of a truly wonderful dream full of potential, my unshaven legs decide to speak up and thus take precedence over more pleasurable endeavors.

Even then, there is no guarantee that it will be done because my brain is on overdrive and going a thousand places at once.

I would love to be able to write a manual on how to talk and deal with a person when I (or a billion other people) are in the throes of a manic episode.

It would be short and to the point.

Shut the hell up unless the building is on fire and then, only tell me if I, personally, am on fire.

Otherwise, it likely won’t register.

In my head, I told that patient, a rude and hateful individual (and would be so even if I weren’t in my current state of mind) in the most placating, compassionate  tone I could muster that I was doing my best and was hoping to meet their needs.

It didn’t go down exactly like that and it is possible that somebody will be getting a phone call.  So be it.

It is what it is.

A typical day for me where I was up until this morning consists of waking up and immediately starting the internal argument of whether to shower first or brush my teeth; is the towel warmer on and did I take off my paper bracelet.  Oh no, is  there a clean towel to dry off with and is it in the towel warmer that I may have forgotten to turn on; damn this water is hot.  Damn, this water is cold.  I have soap in my eyes and while rinsing it out, don’t want to aspirate.  Lord this water is going to burn my eyes out of my head.  It just blasted in my ear.  How much do I need my eardrums.  Did I rinse the shampoo out of my hair.  What is that sound?  Oh, I remember, I started Mahler’s First on my Jawbone speaker but now wish I had put Chopin on because he does piano so well, but then Brian Crain is my now favorite, aside from my friend who plays my favorite song, one he wrote and played at my late husband’s funeral, on piano or my other friend, who plays piano and guitar, or at least, though little proof has been provided, I have heard tales.  He played for me once, at least I think he did, but that was a hundred years ago  and I may have imagined it… well not a hundred, but, at any rate, a long time; anyway,  maybe Brian would be best because he is predictable and while that can become tedious, it is, at times, soothing to know that what I hear will be similar and nearly indistinguishable from the last thirty things I  heard him play.

I love Brian, but  he has a one track mind and little imagination.  That is, of course, only my opinion and even though I am only now learning to play piano, I know what it should sound like.

If anyone sees a run-on sentence, feel free to comment to yourself because if you tell me, that restrained finger may very well break free.  Take no offense, however, because you have been warned.

I proclaim the fifth and refuse to incriminate myself even as I am incriminating myself.

Thank God I have some Barry and Sir Elton mixed in with it, otherwise, I would be imagining my myself in a mysterious musical Brigadoon where everything sounded the same and I would relive the same moment over and over.

God forbid.

I need to get dressed but the clothes I washed three days ago are in the dryer; if, however, I turn the dryer on refresh, they will be as good as new unless I left lipstick (which I rarely wear but for some stupid reason carry in my pocket) or one of my much beloved, blue ink, sharpie retractable pens.  They can make a mess on a uniform top that even a Tide Pen can’t fix and ruin a perfectly good pen at the same time.

My notes are extensive and must, without fail, be written in blue ink in the form of a retractable sharpie pen.  Anything else leaves me bewildered because, for no other reason, it just isn’t right.  Not now.  Now while my brain is on a vacation to Uranus, which has recently been deemed as nothing in particular which means, in essence, that my brain is just hanging out on the outskirts of the universe with the outcasts.

Perfect.

And now back to the patient who wants to know what is wrong with me … In the end, I think I will introduce him to the finger after all.  I think he could use it and since I have a stellar record as a nurse, I feel it is time to shake things up a bit.

So, in my mind, I give the patient the finger, tell hem to go jump in a lake and walk out of the room whistling.

I will know Monday if I actually did that or simply fantasized about it.

Secretly?  I’m hoping I did it.  I am feeling reckless and rebellious and find that my “give a damn” has a dead battery.

It is what it is and life, be it good, bad or indifferent, goes on.

As mamaw Daphne said, this too shall pass but when it does, it will leave a mark.

Thankfully, when this morning dawned, I found myself to be on the north side of sanity.

It’s all going to be ok.

So I am back to me until I find myself not myself the next time.

I am always thankful that Jesus loves me even when I am in a most unlovable state.  He is my rock and I have complete faith in Him that He will keep me no matter where my mind has gone.  He blesses me most often, it seems, when I am least deserving.

My life … it is always an adventure and (for the most part, except when it isn’t) a fun one.

Frenetic in China Town, NY … I can relate to thatNYCchinatown

sudden, immobilizing sadness …

is one of those emotions that catches me unawares.  When I least expect it, am most vulnerable to it, haven’t the strength to fight it; it strikes.  I don’t feel sadness everyday.  As a matter of fact, I rarely feel sad and yet …

there are moments.

Moments when it feels as though the whole of the world is upon my shoulders and my soul is stripped bare.

Then, out of the blue, a thunderstorm approaches.   I find myself on the back porch, tripod in place, waiting patiently for the the lightning; the strains of piano from my favorite music playlist resounding through the darkness as the photographer in me readies for the beauty that seems to be displaying itself just for me ….

And then ….

much to my surprise and unexpected, heart-lifting joy …

the first lightning bugs of the season appear in their magnificent beauty.

I wonder, as I watch them flicker playfully among the trees and grass and rocks if they they know how much I have longed to see them.  How much I have missed them.

They are magical, as they blink and fade before my eyes.  I feel, at this moment, that they are here for the sole purpose to encourage me.  To give me hope and to lead me to a place that is full of light and beauty.

Do they know that I have been looking for them … waiting for them … wishing for them?

The lightning that encompasses the oncoming storm dims in importance as I find myself mesmerized by the display of mother nature’s incredible display of magnificence.

I am encouraged.

They encourage me.  I wonder if they know that … if they understand how much comfort they bring to me.

I wonder if they understand that I have been waiting for them, if they know how much they calm my overstimulated system, my aching heart, my yearning soul.

I can do this.

I can face that which paralyzes me … that which takes me back to a  desolate time when my heart shattered in my chest …. when time stood still.

We all have those things that bring us joy in the midst of sadness … friends who listen to our laments and judge us not.  We have them.

We often take them for granted, at least I know I do …  take for granted that they will be there in our time of need, but we have them; and they are there, without fail, when we are vulnerable and struggling simply to breathe, to live, to move from one moment to the next …not to judge but only to hear our thoughts and fears.

No judgment.

No harshness.

No rebuke.

No unsolicited advice.

No condemnation.

Only understanding , often in silence, as we fight our demons.

I am thankful for the lightning bugs.

And I am thankful for the friends who tolerate me, even when I am intolerable.

I am blessed well beyond what I deserve.

Thank you, Lord, for the lightning bugs, for friends who understand me and for loving me even though I am, many times, unlovable.

I count my blessings and they are many.  While I am sorry that there are others who have stood in the rain, blinded by the sheer magnitude of the sorrow, they, as I have, have made it through the rain.

We are one, we are many and we are survivors in the midst of adversity, sorrow, death and pain.

We made it.

Amen.