Friday, January 30, 2009

Dennis, My Prison Pen-Pal –

Can you picture a flute made out of five cardboard cores of toilet paper rolls and scotch tape? He has fashioned the instrument as a close-to-exact replica of a real longitudinal (ala Native American) flute. He says "It was tuned to C , with the embouchure hole 48 mm from the closed end", adding "I took off (with a nail clipper!) about 1.5 cm to bring it up to a D". The five cardboard cores were saved and accumulated over a period of time, probably while the concept formed in his mind. A while back, he was attempting to root orange seeds in dampened paper towel, but he had to scrap the project because prison policy did not allow it. Imagine what life must be like for a prison inmate who, like Dennis, is a creative and talented musician. The tedium must be very difficult; yet, he’s come up with some remarkable art work, too (see picture of treble clef). I’ve been exchanging letters with him now, through a church program, for almost a year; I’m sure I get as much out of it as he does.

“Requiem For Animals” –

Five score sheets written in my brand of musical shorthand on pink note paper mounted on taped-together cereal box panels, are the original notation mode of my classical piece, "Requiem For Animals". The piano piece (which will easily and beautifully lend itself to full orchestration) drifted into the creative side of my head during late December and early January. Honoring the lives of animals, it is comprised of several interwoven segments that tell a story ... and characterize states of being and consciousness, from the perspective of an animal. The musical drama attempts to portray the moment of birth, early life in the natural environment, the advent of danger (by way of man), death, the following quietude, the re-awakening, the celebration of life in the cosmos.

I would love to have a humanitarian organization use this musical piece for a documentary, film score, or fundraising effort. It will be my gift. That was my intent from the moment of its conception.

And –

Five (5) cover songs, too! I recorded them the same evening as "Requiem". I did not get mechanical licenses for them, so can’t market them, but will play them for personal enjoyment. They are songs that have special sentimental meaning for me. One of them is a jazzed-up version of a song my mother sang to me when I was a young child. Some of them could be in or approaching the public domain – they are old.

Please Take A Moment –

Here are some sites you’ll want to visit if you care about animals –

Voice Of The Animal (education)

Wolf Haven International

The Golden Carrot (horse rescue and retirement)

Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue

Higher Ground (animal advocacy)

S.A.V.E. (education)

Last Chance For Animals

In Defense Of Animals

Horse Haven Of Tennessee

American Anti-Vivisection Society

Justice For Shadow

International Aid For Korean Animals

Defenders Of Wildlife

Thank you for caring :)

Believe It Or Not ~

Believe it or not, it's time to haul out my "Spring Is In The Air" classical song. I know it’s cold outside and many areas have snow and ice and power outages; yet, spring is in the air if you look and listen closely to Nature. In many ways, this is the most delicious time of year ... the very anticipation of early Spring! You know the saying "It’s always darkest before dawn"? Well, we could also say "It’s always bleakest before beautiful".

New Endeavors –

"Women In Music with Laney Goodman" is aired on many NPR stations across the country. I’ve just mailed in my 2nd submission and hope my music will be on her program.

I recently purchased the software for Music Time Deluxe, to make sheet music for at least 30 of my original songs. It comes with a 281-page user’s manual and is reputed to be easy to use. I need to get started with it soon.

A New Old CD Masterpiece –

"Chicago Blues Masters" – a Muddy Waters & Memphis Slim CD – what a find! I got it at McKay’s Used Books & CDs last week.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A New Year, Promises, Resolutions, House-Cleaning –

Welcoming 2009 by watching several marathon "Twilight Zone" episodes and then switching to Anderson Cooper’s Time Square gala television show a few minutes before midnight to watch the ball come down when the clock struck 12, I woke my dog to let her know it was an important moment. Yes, a quiet way to usher in the new year, but it works for me!

I was happy to bid farewell to 2008. Although I feel all the shoes haven’t yet dropped regarding the extent of economic woes – and all the broken systems and ills in our country and in the world, I’m hopeful that things will begin to get better and more humane.

I did make some promises to myself about things that will be good for me and others, and have a beneficial ripple effect in general. Sometimes I do this during the year, at various and sporadic times. So I don’t know if these qualify as "resolutions". They are promises. And that makes them more important for me to keep. I mean, when you make a promise, you should always make good on your word, right? That’s the way it feels to me.

Usually during the beginning of January, I clean out my files and closets and storage areas, sorting and re-arranging things. I haven’t done that "late" this January, but it’s on the verge of happening.

Again, I am attuned. The march of the seasons! The cocoon of Winter will soon give way to the birth of Spring. How lyrical it all is!

The Dancing Pot –

"The pot is dancing!", my grandmother would excitedly exclaim. A very young child, I would respond with wide-eyed glee, as the pot did, indeed, dance to a loud, lively tempo, on the old coal and wood-burning stove in my grandmother’s kitchen. A magnificent piece of invention and wearing a handsome gird of chromed steel all around the top, the stove stood on four sturdy, fancily-curved legs and had four round steel ‘plates’ on top, which were opened with a heavy-duty latching tool. I don’t know what the stove lids and opener tool were actually called. Venting the smoke from the stove to the outdoors was a fat galvanized pipe; it had a damper lever on it. The surface of the stove would sometimes glow red with heat and the lids had to be opened with care, to tend the fire within. Crackling and popping noises could be heard, depending on what fuel was being burned. My grandmother’s kitchen was such a blessed and magical place.

Once in a great while, the modern and lovely electric range in my kitchen produces a dancing pot; it is a rare happening – comical and poetic in a way.

Have You Noticed?

Have you noticed ...

- My revised website (at

- That insurance companies run our health care ‘system’ (and decide who will live or die)?

- That women’s dresses (and other clothing) sizes have shrunk drastically now that 99 and 44/100% of our clothing is made in China? I must tell you about the special, pretty dress I prepaid (which was mandatory) and ordered, a couple of years ago, to wear at my daughter’s wedding ... and the $350 african violet plant that was what I finally walked away with. Here is the story: I was measured by the clerk and ordered a dress two sizes larger than I normally take, since I learned that the dresses are made in some other part of the world. The dress came in weeks later and was way too small everywhere and seemed out of proportion. After several alterations and refittings at the store – each costing extra – it still didn’t fit or look right. Oh, but it can "for another $35". By then I thought of the dress in terms that bordered on hateful ... it was like a bouffant, exploding, giant blade of very green grass. When the price was about to approach the $400 mark, I said to the clerk, "enough" – but, see, that’s why they make you prepay, so you’re stuck. I told them to keep the dress and I walked out of the store carrying "Herbie", the one-leafed (dried-up-due-to-no-water-or-light) african violet that was on the counter next to the cash register. I already knew Herbie's name because I'd been back to the store so many times. "Keep the dress, and I’ll take Herbie and try to help him" is what I said as I left the store, leaving the astonished clerk staring. Herbie is thriving, to the extent that I’ve had to re-pot him twice. He is, by far, the most expensive plant I’ve ever brought home. (P.S. I bought a lovely, perfectly-sized dress off the rack at Sear's at 50% off, for the wedding)!

- That music soothes the human as well as "the savage beast" (or are they one and the same)?

- That the amount of daylight (in the northern hemisphere) is noticeably increasing? A seemingly small, yet significant and reassuring sign, is that I don’t need to put the porch light on at 5 p.m. now – not even at 6 p.m. (EST).

- That hardly any trains have cabooses anymore?

- That there still are some people who care about helping others, even though life – in general – has become ever so much more crowded, complex and stressful?

Anything else you can think of, dear reader, that has changed noticeably in relatively recent times, please send it along in a comment!

Author Louis L'Amour's "The Haunted Mesa" –

On my website, I mention that I love books and that all my favorites are non-fiction. Actually, I don’t recall reading a fictional book since I was a child reading July Bolton mysteries. Recently, though, "The Haunted Mesa" came into my hands by way of Jerry, who is an ardent fan of Louis L’Amour’s many books of adventure stories and mysteries. Mr. L’Amour passed away in 1988, but his books are still very popular and sought-after. Anyway, this particular book is intriguing and unusual and I’m at Chapter 29 of the 43 chapters. The book is spell-binding and enjoyable.