Sunday, December 29, 2013

is this real? does it matter?

- well, crap, the picture i really wish to display here won't upload! -- so here's a link to similar images: undulus asperatus ... they ARE real! amazing! check these out: even more seemingly-fantastic! undulating beautiful seemingly-fantastic but completely real cloud images
- today i finally got over to the MOLAA (museum of latin american art) in long beach, which has free admission on sundays. wow! what a great museum! (here's the website) on the walls surrounding the artwork were many whimsical, thought-provoking quotes about reality vs imagination/fantasy. that combined w/quotes i read today from rabindranath tagore have got my brain plonking a bit... at the dollar store yesterday, i bought a calendar that had a quote from tagore on cover. it seemed somewhat slangy/maybe anachronistic, so, thought i, hmmm: more internet bs mis-attribution, perhaps? then i read up on tagore a bit (thank you, wikipedia!) & learned he became known for bringing the colloquial to bengali poetry, & on that "terrific," the word that called me to question the quote's veracity, came into its current meaning around 1888, dead in the middle of tagore's writing career. all very interesting! here is some spiritually pleasing & lovely mental food from RT: quotes
- i'm trying to upload the museum pix to my laptop, & if i succeed, i'll plop some here. meantime, hope you enjoy the cloud images & tagore quotes.
- in more mundane news, today's events included two meetings, two restaurant meals, no exercise... implict in all of this is much love, i hope is apparent. happy almost-new year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

"i am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying." -nelson mandela

it is a miracle that i am here tonight, where i sit. here, i was greeted in a kindly & comforting manner; it is bare, quiet & clean & there are strange sounds all around, but that i am here brings me hope because that i am here is an absolute miracle. i hope that as you read this, you bring to mind miracles in your life, in your history, your today, tonight, tomorrow, in your right this very second. for heaven's sake, we've all made it this far in life. we cannot give up now!!!!
here are some qualities i admire in two people i love very much, both wounded by & blessed by a powerful love. they are only human, so they make lots of mistakes, but they love each other a lot, i believe. whom do you love? maybe you will add their qualities to these lists. thank goodness for love.
1. brave
2. tenacious
3. big-hearted
4. intelligent/nimble-minded
5. funny
6. strong
7. handsome
8. talented
9. quick-minded/clever
10. kind
11. well-loved
12. generous
13. creative
14. artistic
these are not in any order.
... in the other:
1. forgiving
2. physically strong
3. tender-hearted
4. kindly
5. intelligent
6. adventurous
7. organized
8. pragmatic
9. generous
10. polite
i think they're both very loyal, too, in word & deed, even if in past they've made blunder after blunder. i know at least one of them is working hard at learning to be near-perfect, though that will never happen. even knowing that perfection's not attainable while in this human skin, i love this quote from kierkegaard: “god creates out of nothing. wonderful you say. yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

a pic i drew of my niece in 1999

i was climbing into bed in my old room at mom & dad's, looked over on a shelf, & saw this:
since i haven't seen it in a decade or more, i thought i'd keep a semblance of it, so snapped a pic of it & place it here to look at when i can... i drew it at the kitchen table w/a pack of crayons that madeline had been coloring with. it was from one of my favorite pix of her, gazing peacefully at grandma's christmas carousel... hope your holidays are progressing well. today brings return of husband to the central valley (he popped down to oc yesterday for 2nd christmas while i lolled around here trying to stave off the holiday eating binge/resultant pass-outs) as well as sister/brother, cousins & cousins & their families, & a favorite uncle & aunt whom i've not seen in years... they are worthwhile, jolly, smart ppl & mama will alchemize christmas prime rib into tacos & maybe, if we're lucky, chile verde to go w/pozole & tamales... ah, the holidays: the most wonderful time of the year! here's hoping if you don't agree, you'll gradually or in a flash have a transforming experience that allows them to be moreso for you. cheers!

Monday, December 23, 2013

"i'm free! free at last!!!"

 weird american-culture irony that hyde speaks those words as he is wrenched from jekyll in all his evil splendor by poison/potion, for in print, they bring to my mind the climax of dr king's most famous speech... this story & dickens' "christmas carol" as my two favorite novellas. that's just an interjection; what i want to write about is that before & after tonight's show w/big manny, whose heart, talent, & sense of humor are as gigantic as his frame, i've been thinking about this movie, this version, w/fredric march so handsome & imploringly good as jekyll, so easily, terrifyingly evil as hyde. the man is split by poison/potion, made bad (manifesting the either-or problem of the binary system; what if there had been a trinity here? jekyll, hyde, &… someone in the middle? i guess that could kill the horror somewhat, detracting from the two men's/alters' stark contrast)…  for some ppl, the poison is the cure. i know bc it used to be for me, & still would be, were i to imbibe tonight. many alcoholics drink to self-medicate, like i did, when i couldn't handle my thoughts, my feelings, my brain, my life, my totality. even when physically abstaining, a dry alcoholic may not be able to stand "life on life's terms" & can suffer mightily/cause mighty suffering in those who love him, inevitably (?) returning to the panacea/killer drink, finding instant  tho temporary ease & comfort in the bottle (or, for the addict, in poison ingested via various methods & through vein, nostril, mouth, or places more sordid). i struggle -- & always will, i think, as long as i get to live --  w/why humankind has need for intoxication; i have to tell myself it's the misplaced search for god & the innate human need for transcendence -- especially when the person next to me is holding a drink that, after 18.5 years, still elicits from me a drool. to think otherwise, like the origin of intoxication was just accident; that humans are hapless creatures doomed to touch it & die (spiritually/physically/somehow); that addiction & death via intoxication exist to "thin the herd," as james has said… i can't think that way. maybe it's realistic thinking, but it seems so bleak. what do you think? to live happily, i think, means remaining oblivious, to some degree… jeez, that's kinda depressing, too...
yes, can't safely touch it & i know that, but how nice it must be to have the release that booze brings to alcoholic people like me… instantaneously. how easy. the quick fix. but the cost for me would be too, too high, so i won't do it, tho i look lately at people drinking & have that moment almost of envy. then i have to remember my tools that can help me approach g.o.d. w/o poisoning myself. then maybe i use one or two. maybe. yes,  thank the good universe that i have learned, in spite of myself, methods to try to touch g.o.d. that don't involve me having to pump poison into myself. i'm not here forever, not in this form, anyhow. i could live to be a healthy old lady. you & i, we could have long & beautiful lives. we could become wise. we could share with our fellow sufferers & have great happiness & serenity. we could really live, not just exist. "granted that i must die, the question is this: how shall i live today?"

Saturday, December 21, 2013

wacka wacka wacka wacka

last night we took the young man & his young woman to this japanese place where the pages like to eat… i like the warm, wooded, vernacular decor in there; it reminds me of this really cool place i used to go w/my brother-in-law paul (r.i.p.) in denver. the young woman is quite pleasant & vivacious, the meal-experience was generally agreeable, & afterward the father (my dear husband) & i talked for a long time in the parking lot about exciting news & plans & our lives & just this & that, & talking... james was lit up by the show thursday with manuel, & i was shocked & pleased to realize the classical i've been practicing for mama's christmas gift is freeing up my dumb right hand to play much better! james said, "manny is such a sweet guy. he's so  f***king soulful!! now i know why you love the guy so much!" and then, "he plays chuck berry just right. when you & him were playing together, it was like listening to chuck & johnnie [johnson] live, & even better!" james doesn't idly throw out compliments, so i was thrilled to hear this. i know the piano was "ringing like a bell" a lot at that show, & it just thrilled me to death to know that sound was coming from MY fingers! james just told me that sal, the extra guitar player, was smiling & smiling as james got up & did a few: "i've always wanted to play with you!" said sal. "i got to play with big manny AND you!" he was over the moon, as was i… james & i agreed, the people that night were unusually nice; it was a crowd of mensches (i wonder if there's a spanish equivalent word? simpaticos? queridos? hmmmm…)… anyways, we play again tomorrow, sunday, at liquid kitty, which is in santa monica right off the 10.  right now i'm coffeeing up so we can go play some music for wounded vets, then we head out to the inland empire for some holiday visiting & antiquing… may your december be merry & bright.
Sunday, Dec 22: Big Manny Band(featuring the Blazers' front man, Manuel Gonzales on guitar and vocals & Johnny Palmer on drums, these roots rockers from East LA play American roots music with a latin flair.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

tonight & sunday night!

sunday's show actually is at the liquid kitty, which i think i remember being in hollywood… happy holidays! :D
thank you, bobbi, for telling me that tom shadyac would be at pepperdine university today. to those of you who don't know, he directed "I AM," the movie mentioned below… that's it for now.

Monday, December 16, 2013

living in the profane: my name is j, & i am a consumer.

- we watched the worthwhile documentary "i am" the other night & i heard the crisis summed up quite succinctly (have to paraphrase): we in the united states are not molded to be citizens in a representative democracy, but corporate consumers… we are not raised to be informed & to think critically, but to buy sh*t, to  consume, consume, consume!…the ultimate pt was that we are mentally ill as a society, never finding happiness due to this (venal! oligarchic!)  profit-driven cultural training. the problem beyond that? well, i don't want to give away the brilliant climax; watch the flick!
- a few wks ago, i saw a jonathan haidt segment on tedtalks that raised similar idea, that we are living in the profane realm of insatiable material desire, therefore in spiritual/emotional/even physical dismay & dissatisfaction, that is, until we can reach the sacred realm by not just finding a spiritual path, but finding it via connection w/others, by helping our fellows… i think of the big book, as i always do: "faith without works is dead."
-  so this kinda segues into that i am a consumer, yes, tho i try to fight back & buy lots of stuff used & even just flat don't buy things, a lot of times, & i'm not quite ready for the show "extreme cheapskates," but i have learned a few tricks & tips from it, yessir… & this consumer goes to wal-mart, more than i wish, actually, & often w/that internal ping-pong going bc wal-mart doesn't allow a living wage & certainly not unionizing, & wal-mart murders local merchants & promotes cheaply-made  generica, but then i used to sponsor someone whose husband from mexico was very grateful for his wal-mart job which kept the family off the street & allowed his family (limited) health coverage (i know, i know)… so it's always a struggle up here in this coconut, in short, & i'll bet in yours, too, cause so rare is it that a thing is self-evident & clear-cut... however, this part's simple: i DID take this pic w/my wal-mart (cheapa**, planned-obsolescent) phone tonight when i went walking in the downtown of this oc town hoping to find gifts, & you know what? it didn't cost me a cent to snap this pic, & moreover, i like the satisfaction of having made something cool from something cheap & rather crappy!
- but on another different point, try to find clever, unique gifts in this downtown: impossible! i was shocked to realize its shops are overwhelmingly expensive clothiers & fooderies. are people really into just that stuff? ridiculous!  and once again, i haven't got a clue… james tells me the downtown here used to be funky & cool, but gentrification moved in, & once again, the almighty dollar ruined the character of a place! argh! gnash teeth… spit… retch… 
- anyways, here's the picture… so although there's nothing i want to purchase in this downtown, there was this neat yuletidey light reflection on a wall w/full moon framed in background of which i got a shot, & i found a shiny penny on the ground, & james & i've had a few nice night time walks w/downtown as destination, tho we don't buy anything, never never, so there still are pleasures to be found not contingent upon purchase, i guess is the conclusion.
- after walking around, i went in the gym ($11 a month since 1994!) & to a hugely fun aerobics class called "total body conditioning" where you do a lot of bodyweight movements w/large muscle groups. last wk we did 128 squats! i felt like superman in a rm of supermans! yes, just love that kinda stuff.  told james i would've done great in basic training, had i called the recruiter back when i was finishing high school, tho would've washed out in two seconds in all other areas of the military!!…. back to aerobics, i was forced to remember tho i jump & leap & squat like others half my age, my bones & muscles & tendons & the general machine, in fact, is so, so much older... i came down mid-burpie plyometrically, laughing! having a great time! wow, i'm really strong for being so old!, & was greeted by a CRUNCH in my neck. aw, crap… do you also hate when reality comes crashing down like that? anyways, if i'm still sore tomorrow, i'll have to go buy a heating pad, but that's certainly no extravagance… after that was a great meeting full of calm, gentle, wise, funny people. i've been told this program i'm additionally attending is grad school for the one i've been in for near-two decades. i like that analogy! i like grad school! i came home & had some soup & james & i split a bagel with delicious salty butter & now he's snoring & it's
time to hit the showers. so anyways, what do you say we see how long we can go w/o buying anything? just for experimentation's sake? or at least that we consider each purchase mightily before purchasing… why the heck not? all that crap will still be out there to buy once our resolve weakens or necessity strikes…

Saturday, December 14, 2013

i blog, i blog, i blog, i blog, i blablablablabla… & Randomly Capitalize, Too

so i just read about two young teens who rescued a little girl! called the east coast police station nearest where the rescue occurred to see about sending them gift cards. the world is not hopeless! heroes live! the jameses are sick. i told mama, & she told me, with great urgency, "get off the phone right now & go make them chicken soup!" we had to talk a few more minutes so she could remind me of her recipe. next came the grocery store, another challenge, but i got the necessary ingredients, & guess what? the soup came out GOOD!!! :D :D :D
we had a super-weird week, but all has come out in the wash, so to speak… i went to the mountain home & created a fireplace inferno that cheerily warmed the living room; once james got there, the fireplace was never lonely, the house always cozy… wednesday i hopped down to harvelle's for our show; friday we were back again for james's show…
(two hrs later)
my writing was interrupted for a bit so my hubby & i could talk about a Really Big Thing happening on jan 7 that is really, really exciting! i was actually glad to be interrupted. my gnat-like attention span & propensity toward doing What I Want To Do needs to be improved upon; the conversation was important & also gladdened my heart! … after james's friday show, candye kane & band rolled in & did a set that had us weeping, at the end. i got to meet in da flesh, finally, julie jenkins, & hear about her & beau kennan's blues book project & say hi to laura c, whom i find to be very endearing & undoubtedly prodigiously talented on guitar, & james & i were greeted like family by russell scott's family, candye fans & just all-around nice folks… candye, whom i've not seen in close to two yrs but used to kind of pal around w/for a while, looked very thin, but was decked out in typical gypsy sparkly diva fashion, her biggest decoration being, like james, her gigantic smile. that might be the icing on the cake that is a real star, i think, that super smile that warms like sunshine, the smile that, when directed toward you, makes you feel so much better… we sat in a booth side stage & my husband, dressed so handsomely in suit & dark red shirt, beamed at me w/a million watts, then sweetly, & my heart melted over & over again. afterward, we said bye to candye & she asked james, gently, "you taking care of our girl?" & i remembered how she was one of the women upon whose shoulder i'd cry, someone who's given me Important Advice over the yrs. i just hugged her & said bye & we'll hope to see her again sooner than later.
we're headed to get my car now, then i need to get the wardrobe here thinned out & organized as well as finished the christmas shopping & work on the solo part for one of my songs… hope your december is rolling along smoothly, & just because i wanna, here's my favorite picture of myself. i've probably written about it here cause this blog's now been on so long, i repeat myself & don't realize it. my dress was blue velvet, the lights were bright in my face as i looked out upon a dark room (kinda prescient of playing harvelle's nowadays, now that i think about it), & the large object that covered my back was my father's hand, holding me up. i was three months old here, & along with the soldier mobile that dangled over my crib, it's my earliest memory...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

that big lonesome

here's lyrics from a song i wrote last year, before james and i were a couple, before we were married, when i was free & lonesome & wild & sad & all over the place. when i get there, i will maybe record it at the mountain pad if i can get my head off the pavement:
"that big lonesome has got me by the soul / that big lonesome's got me crawlin' down a hole / that big lonesome takes the breath out from your chest / that big lonesome makes you long for ever-rest / i try so hard to resist it / that big lonesome, it's so damn persistent / big lonesome, please let my spirit be / big lonesome, please set me free"
it's no "heartaches by the numbers" or "home of the blues" or "i'm so lonesome i could cry" or "knee deep in the blues," but i wrote it & it'll have to do.
i recorded 6 originals at the beach pad. they sound solid enough for the work of one woman who's perfunctory at best on her main instrument... the strength is in the melody & lyric. i write good songs. (my husband said beautiful. i believe him.) before i left for up here, i put the songs all on cd. not sure what i will do with them. spose listen to those, get out my old ones, listen to those, determine which are the keepers, write more, send them out to people, get back on that horse. maybe make a "video" of some of the better ones, like "franklin motel," which i made for james back in 2011 or -12. if i keep trying to get ppl to hear my songs, maybe someone might record a few. it's happened already, you know. i don't need big time or money. i'll never be a star nor do i want to be one: i want to play & write good stuff & get better all the time. it's realistic. i just have to keep my head from getting squished on the pavement. there's the real challenge.
it's gold sunshine & blue skies & white snow around here, beautiful, quiet, peaceful here, warm & wintry. here at the library, i came to renew my phone card so no one would worry, since i'm "out of town" all alone (at the mountain home).  soon enough it'll be time to resume stuff like garbage, internet at the mountain home; for now, when i'm here, i use the dear, wonderful library.
doubt i'll do anything much except pass out once at the house, but my brain will come back to me; this has happened before. save serious illness, i figure i got 3-4 more decades to go of this. someone in my head doesn't want me around, but i will not listen to her at the moment. she doesn't have my best interest in mind, & she needs me to carry her around to survive, so i'm telling her right now to shut up. right now. yes, please be quiet. please let me be. i'll pay for this later.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

patience, patience… musica musica...

mama asked me to record baroque piano for her for christmas, so i'm taking a break from practice… my hand was injured last month, the same day i accidentally ran over james's foot (the two incidents were not related; it was just a really really bad friggin day for us!!). his foot's recovered, but my hand's still sore, especially the wrist & third/fourth right-hand fingers, so i'm sure it's good to be working them while playing these bach & scarlatti things… i forget how calming the tempo & orderliness of this kind of music is. it's pleasing & slows my heart rate. i hope i can get them up to speed, maybe by next week… this piece i bought for a buck up at this great bookstore at westminster mall has actually THREE parts, one for 2nd piano, one for double-bass. i spose i'll need to put them all together to get the best possible arrangement. hand, heal!!
speaking of piano, the other night we hopped over to the blasters/x show at the observatory in santa ana & squeezed thru the massive crowd to land side-stage RIGHT BY GENE TAYLOR!! the young samoan bouncer was nice & backed against the wall so i could watch gene play, getting a 35 or so minute lesson. wow! his playing is so relaxed, effortless, yet jumpingly fast & musical! it sings! it soars! after the blasters' set, we went backstage & sat w/phil alvin while gene came in & asked if we'd be at the elvis show (yes) & was i still playing (yes) & told a story or two... i was tired & mentally sluggish. i met exene, who had big puffed hair & shiny mischievous eyes & wore polyester dress/cowboy boots. i grabbed a french roll & james a drink & some meat slices as we headed out… wednesday night was nice with manuel: he & james hit it off very well & he gave james the greek fisherman's hat that he'd been admiring (both men, like my dad, like to wear hats). the eve started very late; we did a baby set, then james got up & strong-armed thru five or six, then i got to get up with manuel, john palmer on drums, leo on bass & play for about 40 minutes. it felt very comfortable playing with manuel! i realized a lot of what i organically play comes from having watched his old band the blazers all those many years back in the early 90s (that same band is how i learned to play the bass, too, by watching)… i'm nowhere as nimble as ruben guaderrama, manuel's long-time best friend & musical partner til about 10 years ago, but playing with manuel nearly felt like putting on a 2nd glove that's been missing. i knew where he'd go, & he left space for me to fill. it was a happy little set for me… yesterday james took off for the toy run in long beach & i got ready & followed about 1 hr later. that was a weird afternoon cause we all were sposed to start about 130-2, but with another band on, then a protracted raffle, we ended up sitting around for many hrs -- musicas interruptus, sorta. i stormed thru about 5 songs, the best moment being during "the big g" when i found myself bouncing in a way that resulted in me playing piano & singing w/both feet off the ground! it was a superhero kinda moment! james played afterward, sounding good but looking kinda wild & ground-down (a lot on his mind). afterward, we very slowly meandered this way & that looking for a meal, finally winding up at our favorite eatery in long beach w/dishes so delicious, they nearly were obscene… today he's at a party & so now i'm gonna get back to the piano. i think i'll record some of my tunes, tho, just for variety's sake, then maybe do some christmas shopping to add more gifts beneath our pretty, fragrant, tinselly tree, which makes the downstairs smell so lovely festivey… gutta buys for now...

Monday, December 02, 2013


… this is in lieu of the post i just wrote about getting up too early, money, maturity, loyalty, love, & ethical dilemmas involving workplace:
blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla blablablablablablablabla
  • today is james jr's birthday as well as our cousin abby. later in the month is niece madeline & cousin meredith as well as little darlene. young people, happy birthdays! with christmas also approaching, let's remember the words of thoreau: "that [wo]man is happiest whose pleasures are the cheapest."
  • didn't intend it that way, but having written that in that context could be construed as pretty scroogeish. i just think of my father, the financial & other practical advice he used to give me & angie, how i heeded it & now sit pretty well (tho i'm no longer rich), even after really not having worked for 3.5 years… i'm so thankful for dad's constant reminders to find enjoyment in small & simple & even homely things as well as to conserve now, enjoy later!
  • actually, here is one quote from ebenezer w/which i strongly agree: "'it's not my business,' scrooge returned. 'it's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not interfere with other people's. mine occupies me constantly.'"
  • i love that novella. i remember making an ass of myself when in the MA program in san francisco & the prof asked if any passages made us cry & i was the only person to raise a hand. he then had me point out the passage and read aloud the parts that especially affected me & i got misty-eyed again. that happened, too, when he asked the same question of shaw's "joan of arc." why was no one else moved to tears??? what was wrong with me??? yet, my taciturn & dignified teacher, hands calmly clasped, smiled faintly, his eyes shining with what i thought to be, &, yes, later turned out to be vague pride…
  • ok, so here are some quotes from dickens' beautiful classic, in case you don't wanna read the whole thing again or for the first time:  a christmas carol quote