Jazz Bird in the Neighborhood

So today I got to mow the lawn! (Trying on the Timothy Leary “Life is an opportunity” approach to this chore.) I got to be outside in our BIG backyard. I got to walk, bend, push, lift and carry – all great functional exercise. I got to observe butterflies and birds gracefully fluttering around me. It was cool and overcast, so all in all an enjoyable experience.

AND —- I got a huge gift for doing this. As I was mowing the front yard, I kept hearing this bird call that sounded like the first four notes of a jazz standard that I like. Over and over, this bird sang this little intro and my brain voice would fill in the rest. I thought, “I need to go get my digital recorder and catch this sample. Ohhhh, but as soon as I do that, the bird will be gone.” So I continued mowing.

Later, while I was taking a hydration break in the house, I heard the bird again. I thought, “Dang, now is my opportunity.” I ran in my studio, grabbed the Zoom, went outside on the porch and captured this:

Isn’t that cool? I love that the bird is singing the beginning of…what is the song? I can’t identify it. It has a similar tonality to “My Blue Heaven”, but the melody pattern is not right for the beginning of that song. Here it is lined up the way it goes in the song. It repeats and then changes slightly the third phrase (of course, the bird did not change, so you are hearing just the first two iterations):

So I need your help. Can anyone tell me what song this bird is singing? Can anyone identify the bird? I never got a sighting on him either. Thanks for your input.

Some Thoughts on Grief (on Paul’s 52nd Birthday)

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Today February 25th, is my brother Paul’s 52nd birthday. While he did not live to see and celebrate it, he has people who are still here remembering him. His laughter, his sense of irony, his insecurity, his wit, his breadth of knowledge, his creativity, his emotional turmoil, his love, his righteousness and doubt all are imprinted on this moment. Contemporary quantum physics points consistently toward the truth that each individual conciousness has an impact on the world. If energetic matter can neither be created or destroyed, then this impact goes on forever. Even as I know this, I also know that when a beloved being leaves their physical form, a great deep grief rises up and takes hold in the world.

One of my life’s intentions is to be light, loving joy in the world. Much of the time this is easy for me as I am buoyed by the spirit that brought me here and always guides me. My life is simple with manageable stress and I have gifts to share and a cadre of friends to share them with. Then when an event outside my well-cultivated illusion of control happens, I resist , I wail and holler, saying to myself, “I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way.” This is where I was for periods during the last year and a half as I allowed the reality of Paul’s death to bring waves of sadness, anger and anxiety to the forefront of my lived experience.

I know that resistance is a root cause of disease, so a less familiar path needed to be taken. Not numbing myself till it goes away, not holding it in, not crying in the bathroom and then putting on a good face in front of others- instead I did things that felt more vulnerable to me. I asked for help, shared my feelings in the moment and kept an eye out for any sense of victimhood and blaming of myself or others. I used all the tools in my pack – EFT, meditation, deep breathing, supportive nutrition and hydration, exercise – to stay grounded and present.

I am sad that Paul did not let me know what was truly going on in his life. Angry that he left out a huge piece of the puzzle of what happened between himself and his wife, his children and his wife’s family, and our family. Why did he have to work so hard to save face, put on a front, be so unaware of what he was doing and how it was impacting his life? I study pictures from his childhood looking for signs of angst, unhappiness, fear. He just looks happy, loving and excited by life.

He was the youngest child. As the oldest, it is hard to imagine what it is like to have, not only parents, but multiple older siblings telling you what is right and what is wrong from all our unique perspectives. All I can do is accept what has happened and honor him, his life, and his choices. From a place of unconditional love, there is no shame about the path he chose. He is a role model of surrender. He let himself go, he got himself out of a difficult situation the best way he knew how. There was a fearlessness in his giving over to his path. When I think of him with love and respect, I can only say, “well done, my brother!” I see you in your next life succeeding with love and assurance. I see you bobbing over the crest of a wave, laughing with joy.  The lessons you taught while you were here have not yet been fully realized. I feel heartened to know that the real gift of your life is yet to be received.

So while I have entertained grief in my home for a time I am clear that this is just a visit. And, as in past visits, it will come to a natural end. My home is filled with joy, love, and creative energy. While anxiety, fear, sadness and grief do build up in the nooks and crannies at times, a good cry, a loving talk, a breathing meditation, a smoke or tea of kind herbs, EFT, a belly laugh can cleanse those energies from my home. I feel a tremendous responsibility to give loving attention to this work – the work of cultivating creative joy in the world.

I do keep a picture of grief around, just as a friendly reminder of a pain that comes and goes and comes again, but for now- its time in my presence is up!

New Year, New Sounds, New Ideas

2015 ushers in a burst of creative energy with many potential collaborations hang-gliding out there, and lots of time and space in the studio. Trudie gave me an Ableton Live upgrade, so I am now using Ableton 9. Excited to explore all the new features and hear how much more expansive the audio field is in the latest upgrade. I have only upgraded twice, but each time the Ableton Team has improved the functionality and expressiveness of the software by building on the strengths of previous versions. Upgrading always makes me nervous especially when I am perfectly happy with what I am using, so it was very satisfying to jump right into Ableton 9 and be delighted with the sound immediately. The upgrade includes new instruments and samples. (I don’t use the loop libraries as I prefer to make my own loops.) Much to explore and learn as I convert all my projects over to the new platform. Plus I am taking a Coursera course on Ableton Basics through Berkeley School of Music in February. That will be helpful as the instruction will be based in the new version. It will be like a four week tutorial!

Trudie and I are committing to spending time in our studios everyday. We identified “home” as a topic we both want to explore in our art. We have had several hours of discussion about different ways of relating the idea of “home”. I keep wanting to cover home up, obscure it so that everything that home contains is set free. I started with trying to cut the fundamental tone out of the recorded wave form leaving only shimmering harmonics. (“real” sound engineers would be laughing very hard right now) I thought,”If I can cut off the attack, I can erase the fundamental tone.” But, no! Where EVER the sound begins is the attack, so a fundamental tone is always present. The tone is like an earthworm in reverse, you cut off it’s front and it makes a new front.

So I decided to back into exploring “home” by working on “New Music 4Trude” since she is a big part of what is “home” to me.This piece came about because we have seen two really fine versions of the musical, Ragtime, and Trudie loves the song “New Music”, which is about how the new music of ragtime touched and connected people. When I think of ragtime, I think of a one-two rocking feel and a simple, cheerful melody. Yesterday we listened to the song and I asked her what she liked about it. She said it made her feel like dancing. I can’t really feel a dance beat in it except for gentle rocking. I will study this song more deeply.

Right now there is SO MUCH information coming to us from the Universe/the Divine WoW/ God. Everyday I receive a new understanding about myself and my beliefs/perceptions and how we shape the world together. In meditation the challenge has been identified as feeling warm and loving heart connection with people who I do not feel love me back. You know how easy it is to love someone who is looking at you, seeing you, loving you. The heady out-of-this-world feeling of a deep and special connection with another. The kind of feeling that makes you feel impatient, bored and disdainful of having to spend time with those who are NOT the beloved. After years of chasing this felt ideal and withholding myself from anything (I perceived to be) less, I have woken up to the here and now. I WANT to be FULLY present to love in this space and time. I WANT to deeply connect with and SEE others as much as I want to be seen and connected with.

I believe this may be the path toward home.