Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Done deals

After weeks of work, last month I finally sent this 9 x 6 foot handpainted floorcloth to it's home in California. There was no other way to paint it than to kneel, and those calluses have finally softened. The color palette was tailored to suit the client's home decor and overall was based on an older design. To see a project like this installed in the place it was intended is my favorite part!

Still settling in the client's home after having
been rolled and tubed for cross-country shipment

In the wee hours of many nights, the internal argument about realism vs. design raged; tulips as we know them simply do not exist as perfect egg-shaped bulbous blooms, floating in a sea of white, surrounded by atypical foliage folding in upon itself.

Tulips from another dimension
But I'm proud of it. Even when photos don't quite capture the details and true color.

The staircase project, a precursor to installing the desperately needed floors, went from "fugly" (official contractor term) to fabulous thanks to more than double the time and money estimated. I agonized over this.

Before -- pointless wall, unnecessarily steep fiberboard steps

After -- unfortunately all this trim really is necessary.
Wall removal, extra step and proper grade on this set
as well as the second, veering up to the left.
Asparagus fern in a blue pot makes it all better.
Yes, there were some unexpected issues that arose, like discovering part of the upper level floor was connected to a beam that had been mysteriously sawed off and closed up in the lower level ceiling. The upper railing had to be moved a foot or more over to the corner of the wall to assure enough head clearance -- for others taller than me -- for the first set of stairs below. The result is the multi-color masterpiece you see here.

B the cat could care less.
Poinsettia banner is maybe one of three
Christmas decorations up
while the rest await in the kitchen just beyond the new pass-through.

I have no problem paying for a job well done, but it's difficult to budget with incredibly inaccurate information.

For now, the stairs are covered in cardboard except for the bare spots the cat requires to navigate them. Nothing in this house is square; I was told there was only one cut in the entire project that could be. I believe it.

My computer is burdened by pictures from multiple projects that are far from perfect but are finally done. The paperwhites are blooming and the amaryllis is trying. Onward and upward.

Let's not even talk about what I need to do to the fireplace.
Happy Holidays.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


At exactly 10 am today, I heard my battery-operated clock explode off the bedroom wall -- I found it face up on the edge of a prized pillow where it had stopped working.

Work, inner and outer, lots of it. Picture time, which captures approximately 1/4 of recent goings-on.

The harp needs no amplification
in the monster space of First Congregational

I'm playing differently as a result of this year's workshop in Maine. This is extremely important though I'm unsure where this is headed. More on this later.

One of the highlights here included getting stuck
with my harp in their tiny and ancient elevator

Big projects are in the works. And they keep coming... or going.



Tree removal and shingle removal / replacement that took way too long. Yes, that's right, the roof is now WHITE.

Before and after gigs and teaching and yet another meeting I t
ry to remember what day it is and crochet a few more rows and bake focaccia or orange bundt cake with chocolate ganache and don't exactly follow recipes. And then dive into working on the massive commissioned floorcloth that required tearing up the art room while listening for what Pandora deems similar to my entries of Radiohead and Nick Drake.

Floorcloth clampdown hem-gluing and
blue blob of a kneeling towel -- highly technical

And if the sun shines through the turning maple outside, the workroom is washed with a nearly perfect ethereal hue that for as long as I can remember has inspired me to
keep going.

B gets tired of all this and curls up quiet
when I pull her bed up next to me while I work

What's your work?

Monday, September 28, 2009

How to catch a falling harp

1. Let go of everything that does not matter.

2. Throw yourself completely, unequivocally, under it.

3. Repeat 1 & 2, without hesitation, for all that is precious.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Writings / Sitings

A friend asked me to contribute an article to the July-August 2009 edition of Journey Magazine; the topic was "Old Wisdom, New Age" to coincide with a feature on Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. Follow the links below to the online pdf version of the magazine to read how my submissions turned out.

Bios of Contributors -- page 5.
(Yeah, would have chosen a different photo here, given the chance.)

The Wisdom of Remembering We Are Enough -- page 10.

Somewhere between Summertime and Stairway to Heaven
at the last concert. Thanks BD -- better than the other photo
of my elastic face at the harp. Looks like a squint, eh?

I was also recently quoted in the Party & Special Events Planner 2009 (June) of the Ohio Jewish Chronicle. This article, "Professionals Are Gold: Don't Be 'Penny Wise and Pound Foolish'", addresses the benefits of hiring professional musicians to play for wedding ceremonies and receptions. And because I can't find an online version, below is what appears in the publication, page 5:

"Local harpist Trista Hill agrees that using professional musicians for weddings is important. 'A lot of times someone will get a brother or friend who plays in a band and they have no idea about adjusting the timing or tempo as the wedding party processes,' she says. 'Music is most often what pulls all the "actions" of a special event together. A professional musician knows the importance of timing and transitions, and demonstrates a level of musical skill that enables her to also pay very close attention and adjust to what is happening around her. Being present in this way is crucial in creating a seamless musical experience, and can make even the unplanned parts of an event appear intentional!"

Thanks TC and PS for the opportunity to contribute to your publications.

How often do you, as a writer / musician / creator, want to completely redo your work after the world sees it?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Every gig lately has involved successively more sky spillage.

Even if the harp did fit under the umbrella, this is no protection in a deluge.

I happen to love rain. I just don't enjoy getting caught in it, nor solitarily moving gear after gowns and heels and tuxes and leather have run for cover. Harp and bench and stand and amp and DI do not move quickly, especially when there is mud in which to slip, yellow-jacket-infested electric boxes from which to unplug, and the only real cover -- the car -- is a good half mile away.

But I love the rushing of the river after a good rain, the way the mist rolls in over field and fence, the renewed ethereal intensity of nature's palette, and the way music floats more readily over dampened landscapes -- chamber piano and horn and strings from the looking-glass home on the river, Freebird and other guitar solos from the rock band rehearsing somewhere in the woods, violins readying for this weekend's Dublin Irish Festival in the white farmhouse squatting roadside.

When certain news hits out of nowhere, and it's difficult to discern if it was better not to know at all, what remains is to notice the rush of what comes up and either edit or allow the flood.

Maybe it results in pulling out harp versions of a bluesy Janis Joplin
"Summertime" and a free-form "Stairway to Heaven" at a church concert when the audience least expects it, even when the tunes need a lot more work. Maybe pushing them out unpolished is worth the surprise and joy they elicit from fellow musicians who have a certain affinity for music from that era.

Maybe it results in excessive talking when it's obvious there can't possibly be anything left to lose.

Maybe it's diminishing the haunting by finding new homes for possessions
that quite suddenly no longer have weight or meaning.

Maybe it's trusting that you will know exactly what to do at exactly the right time.

Where and how do you safely spill?

Listening to: Imogen Heap, Canvas (perfect lyrics and video), and the gripping Hide and Seek

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lemon Chocolate

This weekend I played at one of Columbus' most beautiful venues, the Southern Theater! And irritatingly, my camera crapped out and died just as I was trying for the first shot with my harp. So, no pictures (yet).

I love this place and am eager to play there again -- the staff was so helpful and knew how to move the harp, i.e. not grab it out from underneath causing me to lurch into some subhuman twist to keep it from falling. Of course the acoustics are amazing so amplification for solo harp was unnecessary. This greatly affected how I played the harp and confirmed two Very Important Things that I may (not) expound upon later.

Some of my favorite artists have played at the Southern -- out of necessity and because time is always an issue, I quickly located and made use of the restroom just off the stage that probably many artists have occupied for various reasons before their performances. I have no idea if this decision broke rules. In that space I was reminded that no matter what we do and at what level, we are all simply human with similar needs. And oh yes, I played on the birthday of a certain Mister Andrew Bird, who was the last person I saw there and am eager to see again in October.

Playing a wedding on July 4 inevitably entails fireworks. Just over this hill at the Longaberger Golf Club (yes, just a few miles past the basket building), and after the kiss, an immense amount were launched. Because it wasn't yet dark, the goal was to create a lot of noise and vast amounts of colored smoke. Almost too-predictable comments followed about the power of that kiss.

I occasionally write about food and exercise here because they greatly influence how I show up for, execute, and recover from performances. A friend says that as musicians we are also athletes. This was put to the test at the wedding that immediately followed my playing the Southern this weekend. Rain, wind, intense sun, distance walking in dress shoes, moving the harp without a dolly (lifting!), complete setup and tear-down in two different areas, and smiling professionally (captured forever by photographers!) despite looking like a drowned river rat in black -- oh, and did I mention prettily playing unconventional music I transcribed specifically for harp? -- in a matter of two hours at the second gig of the day would leave me grim, silent, and in pain. I don't hurt today, aside from still having "Endless Love" playing in my head (truly it was endless). It also didn't hurt that I was able to play Radiohead's Fake Plastic Trees for part of the ceremony. The lyrics are entirely inappropriate but I wasn't singing and it was... Radiohead. On harp.

I have put running on hold. Pain in the left knee, hip and back aren't subsiding -- the fantastic gripping spasm that seized my middle back during a run last week had me hobbling home for several miles and rethinking the necessity of sprints. So it's back to walking and biking. My new shoes arrived and perhaps they will make a difference. Today I rode the bike earlier in the day and thus the scent from the grove of pine trees on my route that carries me back to Colorado wasn't as intense. But I had a delivery to make (no, not on the bike).

Today is my parents' fortieth wedding anniversary. FORTY years. I made chocolate and lemon (lemon added to this recipe) cupcakes, no eggs or dairy (= vegan) since I haven't had those ingredients in the house for quite some time. The chocolate are topped with a simple ganache and the lemon with a glaze that may or may have not turned into a type of lemon jelly. I wouldn't really know, because I didn't sample. It's hard to sample cupcakes when you are making one dozen. Eleven just looks suspicious. In case it's not obvious, one likes lemon and the other adores chocolate, and combining the two flavors in one cupcake would be something maybe only I'd enjoy. Symbolic cliches about this combo abound -- a long marriage requires a balance of sweet and sour, bitter and sweet, two very different entities coexisting in one happy piece of tupperware...

I am perfecting my artisan bread recipe. I'm getting closer to the bubbly pockets and crisp crust I crave. There is nothing like hot organic whole wheat bread fresh out of the oven. There is also nothing like breaking your best largest bowl that used to be your mother's as evidenced by its glowing orange color and hilarious 70's flower print. While it wasn't an heirloom, it was a relic from childhood that I'll actually miss. I guess they call these pieces "vintage" now. *SIGH*

Continuing my computer / internet fast means that if there is more happening in the world on which to comment, I don't yet know about it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer light

One of my most enjoyable recent harp gigs was the Stone Academy Bicentennial in Zanesville. The group there was so appreciative and the acoustics were perfect. My photo of the performance space was less than stellar.

So I'll also include a picture from a May wedding held in a remote and obscure area of Delaware that had me severely testing the extent of my vehicle's gas tank emptiness.

Also less than stellar are this year's administrative gig dilemmas. Let's just say I exuberantly appreciate being paid the correct amount, on time.

I love summer -- light lingers until 9:30 at night, and if it weren't for the mosquitoes, I'd linger longer with the fireflies. Light this late conjures of memories of sitting on the shores of Saint-Malo, France (and one my favorite places, Mont Saint-Michel) at 10:30 pm, watching the sun go down.

But I'm not in France, I'm in Ohio, still working on the house. Er, outside the house. Whatever, it all needs work.

I know damn well this isn't done right. No gravel, sand (except for between pavers), or edging were used for this square-paver extension of the front sidewalk, despite my knowing exactly how much and what kind of materials are necessary to ensure it doesn't heave with the ground as the seasons change. The clayish soil on which they rest -- under all that topsoil -- might save it from this demise. Ha. A gigantic crack in the original sidewalk demands the whole thing be replaced. But for now when the road and the... um, property next door aren't too loud, this makes a nice space for students / parents to wait during lessons, or for me to eat a colorful meal, especially after the plants I added today (not pictured) fill in. Oh yeah, and it uses up some of the bunk from the hell hole that is my back / side yard.

The other and more logical spot to eat a fresh meal has become irritating. This tree will probably have to go this year. I am not attached to it -- in fact, I've grown to hate it. There are dead spots and I've spotted bagworms. Any movement by wind or bird or other creature triggers a downpour of brown needles.

I picked these cherries from a tree in my (overgrown) yard! However, most of them already had a small white occupant holing up inside. Those that didn't were tossed in with a few organic peaches to make a fantastic compote.

My current fast from media delayed my hearing of the passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. Is there any graceful way to die when the entire world knows who you are?

I can't remember what to do with summer, except be outside as much as possible, running or walking or biking. Yeah, on that bike. I'd like to add more *fun* before the season slips away.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flotation Walls CD Release

It's been fifty days and nineteen performances -- including wedding ceremonies, wedding and award receptions, church services, cafe events, and more -- since my last post. Hmm.

Not included in that nineteen were the rehearsals for the Flotation Walls CD Release show at Skully's in early June. What a blast this was! One of three rehearsal videos is below -- the others are here and here:

For the CD release show, at least fifteen performers packed on one stage and plowed through intricate tunes on violins, cello, viola, flute, keyboard, accordion, trumpet, tuba, french horn, trombone, harp, drums, electric and acoustic guitar and bass, and vocals.

Thanks to Jess Miller, you can view more pictures of the show here. Thanks also to Brainbow and The Receiver for their sets before us that night.

This recording is seven years in the making, and the band of four members is now on tour. You can purchase the CD "NATURE" here, and listen to tracks on the Flotation Walls MySpace page. Harp appears on the opening track "Sperm & Egg" as well as "I've Seen Death and His Tremendous Pink Eyes."

Harp appeared in every tune at the show, and was the featured accompaniment for "Timmy Twofingers" (see rehearsal video above). My notes for this tune are below, the basic chords of which were handwritten by Carlos himself! This is exactly what I am looking at in this video. For all tunes, the band graciously left the doors wide open for me to create and insert my own parts.

The place that night was packed, perfect for this high-energy band that draws out a consistent and inspiring level of audience interaction. I'm ecstatic for their success and so grateful to have been a part of this experience -- it very much informs and shapes the next steps for my own work.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Flight not form

This past weekend's outdoor wedding was beautiful because the sun shone here in unpredictable Ohio, the temperature hovered around seventy degrees, and the harp stayed relatively (!) in tune.

This is quite possibly the worst harp photo I've ever taken; however, the wedding photographer was my good friend from Comfort Photography and I look forward to seeing all her perfect pictures. This was an especially precious wedding, many years in the making.

At today's annual breakfast gig, S told the group that this was my seventh year playing harp for it. Seventh year. Each time she gives me photos she took of my playing the previous year's event. I am not posting what she gave me today because to me, last year's photos reveal how much I was dreading a frightening surgery scheduled for the next day. I am in such a better place so I (not you) can look at them now, with a healthy kind of dismissal.

I finally met the owner of Tehku Tea House and am excited about our future collaborations. Being involved in a Productive Obsession project guided by Eric Maisel will undoubtedly reveal and perhaps start to disintegrate Those Barriers. I had some big wake-up calls regarding social networking this past week -- it is NOT a trend, but a definitive and immense reality. I'm determined to make the best use of it; I'm still stumbling through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even in finding my true voice for this blog.

I made these cookies again, and attempted baba ganoush (not bad). Future blog posts will probably include more culinary information since food is, and always has been, such an important part of my life. I've gone vegan for a variety of reasons, which wasn't hard to do as I've been vegetarian consuming very little dairy / eggs for the better part of my life. I'm not punk about it, though I follow a lot of punk vegan blogs. In my impressionable past, what I ate was regarded with eagle-eye scrutiny, and residual crap from that has affected what I share about my dietary choices. But cooking / baking is a creative act and therefore earns a right to appear here.

Writing a blog post is exactly what I should not be doing right now; I have projects like arranging and recording a song that a vocalist and I will be performing for an upcoming wedding. But my mind is whirring and maybe if I "write" I will stop eating the remainder of my vegan birthday cake (...too late).

With the passing of the aforementioned birthday and the tax deadline, I am in the same place I always find myself: It's time to really do all those things I said I was going to do. One of them is getting in the Best Shape of My Life. I think I was there once, but it was so long ago. And to get back to that place it occurred to me I'll have to start running.

I really hate running. Or, I think I do... I'm not sure where this came from because when I was younger I was a sprinter and loved it. Someone along the line mentioned I had good form, or no form -- whatever it was, it made me self-conscious. I also hate how it feels; all this, shall we say, bodily material flapping on the bones, which I guess is the industry's reason for creating skin-tight apparel. My current walking / running garb consists of twenty-year-old-overwashed-tapered-leg-hand-me-down dress pants. Yeah.

What came to my running mind was a years-old photo of me when I ran track in school. I resisted digging it out of the Photo Vat of Every Life Stage, but with a half-hearted amount of rifling, I found it in minutes.


This picture is evidence that it was never about running. It was about intention, with a clear and simple purpose -- NOW. Entwined in that was the effortlessness that comes with finding a rhythm. No labored breathing (mouth closed here as I head to the finish line ahead of the pack!), no pounding, no pain. I forgot. It is the same feeling when I am immersed in my art or music, when I create.

THAT is the goal. I waste too much time worrying about doing it right.

And movement has always pulled out my most creative thoughts and ideas.

So, now my already daily four-mile walk is punctuated with sprints. That jogging stuff -- forget it. I know the rhythm when I reach it -- everything loosens, there is no ache, no real bodily awareness, no thought of form. There is NO FORM, just flight. If I startle the herons on the river maybe we end up flying together.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Something's burning

It could be the stray crumbs of the homemade olive oil and rosemary bread in the oven that set off all the smoke alarms, or the lack of coolant in the car due to a failing hose between resevoir and radiator, or the firepit yard debris hurling skyward in orange plumes. But perhaps also it is my joints from yoga, my savings in preparation to pay 2008 taxes, and the midnight oil as I contemplate the next steps to More.

I recently had the pleasure of playing harp for a very intimate wedding ceremony and reception at the Ohio Historical Society's chapel and American House Hotel. When weddings are scheduled here, the little village is not open to the public and therefore resembles the abandoned ghost town re-creations from my Colorado childhood.

The chapel has unbelievable acoustics and thus is one of my favorite places to play. A small stained glass window above the door to the left of the harp...

hints at the chapel being made for this instrument, don't you think?

The following day I was invited to perform at the Mansfield Richland County Library. Breathing a sigh of relief in the elevator that I made it despite a smoking car (see above), the doors open *ding!* to an atrium of silent seated patrons. What was supposed to be a background music gig suddenly turns into a full-blown interactive performance presentation peppered with question-and-answer segments. Two harpists were in the audience -- I told the group I would pretend to not be intimidated by their presence. I ran out of business cards at its conclusion.

This year's Lifeline of Ohio ceremony at the Fawcett Center involved my playing pre-program harp music and again during a photo slideshow of organ / tissue donors and recipients. Those whose lives were improved or saved and those who lost loved ones shared their heartbreaking stories. I managed to not completely fall apart on stage during this experience; opting to be a donor has more meaning for me now.

The Flotation Walls are a fresh band that records in lush layers, similar, but not quite, to the Arcade Fire, so I was ecstatic when they asked me to lay down some harp tracks at Relay Recording (formerly Snaps-n-Taps! MB brought me there to play years ago) for their new release, Nature. We experimented with several "voices" of the harp and finally settled on bits that had me laughing; can't wait to hear the final product.

My mother celebrated a Very Important Birthday last month, and family came over to celebrate. Turns out the unfinished particle board floors were perfect for toy wars. Just don't let them fall through the hole in the floor that Aunt Trista brilliantly put a chair leg through, ripping out the outlet box that had been mounted underneath. I made vegan treats.

Pictured above; lemon (very) tart with toasted almond crust boasting a topping of lemon curd and candied lemons -- yes, we love our lemons (Yo Sweet J!) -- vegan strawberry shortcake with cashew cream, and vegan chocolate chip cookies. And that towering mound of white in the center? Real whipped cream. Yeah, not vegan.

And now, even more randomness...

My biggest hurdle in the tax struggle is the 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income rule. I have squelched and pinned it to the ground several times over, all to no avail. It refuses to decrease or disappear -- it just stares back, deaf and dumb.

I again met really wonderful people during the Spring Fund Drive for the local NPR station, WCBE. Those of us volunteering are also often listeners, and it seems to me we are united in a way by isolation; that is, we listen while engaged in our solitary work. So coming into the station we can collectively marvel at how close / far our mental portraits of announcers and testimonialists are from the real thing and simultaneously learn more about fellow members of this quiet community.

Seared in my memory is the Andrew Bird concert in Cleveland last week. It's impossible for me to get enough, so I'm grateful to relive moments here (scroll down for video) and here. My friend E and I made a nice trip of it -- ridiculously, I didn't get pictures. On this tour Andrew has three other musicians with him; I'm familiar enough with his music to recognize when he is trying out a new approach, or how he comes out of a seemingly wrong turn, or what parts he gave away to the other musicians to clear him for what he wants to do next. Fourth (or third??) row seats were perfect for viewing how he communicates nonverbally and musically with Dosh, on drums. This is the communication I want with whom I play -- it's what makes the music. It wouldn't hurt at all if this communication occurred with Mr. Bird himself.

Great Blue Herons have again been spotted on my river route. I read somewhere that they are territorial, which means I am probably seeing the same herons each time, and this entitles me to claim them as mine. I am not impressed by the other waterfowl -- my only fondness for Canadian Geese is the flawless imitation my sister can render of their calls. My other favorites are back, too -- they are either Red-Tailed Hawks or Prairie Falcons. Last fall, one stood at the side of the road as if waiting for me to walk past. Just a few yards from each other, with heavy gazes, we took the other in until the spell was broken by a passing car. When I watch them soar, I want to spontaneously burst into flames just to join them.

Molly Gordon wrote a great piece: How to Get Organized Without Dowsing Your Creative Fire

It's the Full Moon -- that explains everything.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Making room

Last week's harp performance at the Ohio Statehouse ended with my accompanying a wonderful gentleman who asked me to play on his CD when he finally records. Please record -- you have a gorgeous voice! And I think it's wonderful to have met someone among the circular red and blue flashing name tags who so relishes music and waited all night to connect.

Regrettably, I did not run into Governor Strickland -- I already took care of that at his inauguration two years ago when I unwittingly walked in with his private entourage. It's an involved story but the two most important points: I didn't know it was Strickland, and I stomped all over that building and not one of the million security officers questioned who I was or where I was going.

A week or so before that, I had the wonderful opportunity to play for a Black History Month celebration. I followed rousing presentations by Columbus City Councilwoman Priscilla Tyson and Sojourner Truth (aka thespian Annette Jefferson) who painted beautiful examples of African American women who pushed boundaries to make a difference. I was inspired to mention Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane and their fantastic contributions to the harp world before I played "At Last."

As the weather warms here (and tonight cools again), I am reaping the benefits of feeling lighter on every level. UPS gladly took the massive amounts of packing material that had been taking up a corner of the garage. Another load of miscellany went to Goodwill. Yard supplies are exiting this property via Freecycle. And the big adventure of the day = the BMV.

This year requires a driver's license renewal, and I was looking forward to taking care of that in addition to acquiring new tags and making a long overdue name change -- yet one more step in my shedding what no longer fits.

The license was the only place the name change was reflected. At the time I had the necessary documentation for that name change, though I was changing it for all the wrong reasons. Today I had the necessary documentation to return the name to its previous incarnation by removing a hyphenated ending. The BMV folks were confused.

"We can't make this name change because nowhere in your paperwork does it say that's what you want to do."

Clearly the nature of this paperwork and my verbal explanation indicated I absolutely want this name change! I calmly said that there was no reason to state that in the paperwork as the name didn't officially change in the first place. Several calls were made and I was told I needed to go to Probate Court.

Marching up the hill to Probate Court, I decided this counted as part of my daily 4-mile walk I found myself sacrificing to take care of this before student lessons this afternoon.

Probate Court said the only way I could make the change was to fill out a one-page petition for a complete name change. That would be $84. They would then schedule a hearing in eight weeks, at which point the change would be official. But in order to schedule the hearing, I would need to submit this change to the local paper. That would be $32. And why to the paper? She couldn't exactly explain. I said my driver's license would expire before a hearing could be scheduled and my intent was to renew my license. Maybe, she offered, they could schedule the hearing six weeks from now if I filed the paperwork today.

I don't think so.

I tramped back down the hill and called my attorney. She said that this was a first and was ridiculous. There wasn't any additional documentation she could provide and she was sorry. She recommended that I just renew the license and avoid hassles by not making the name change.

I don't think so.

The word "ridiculous" was enough ammunition to drive to the other BMV, step up to the counter and announce, "I need to renew my license, get new tags, and remove this name from my license. Here is the documentation." She smiled, looked over the papers, and then muttered that it would be no problem.

My license photo sports a small smirk.

At the risk of sounding ultra-feminist and bitter -- which I am not -- I will refrain from sharing all that I feel about societal norms that involve a woman having to pay several hundred dollars and waiting two months to make room on her license and in her life.

When I turned sixteen and got my license, I sang all the way home, "I got my license -- yeah, yeah, yeah!" I sang it today, too. My eyesight may be poorer, my weight neither here nor there, and the color of my eyes and hair questionable, but I'm clearer than ever, making room for better.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Recent performance pictures were either too dark or were somehow not taken at all, so Fish #1 (out of 3) offered his environment as a stand-in.

The Big Pink and Red is gratefully over. I can't think of a better place to spend V-Day than with the harp at Barcelona Restaurant. They were slammed -- still taking reservations even after the five hours I had been there. Though I still need to work out a few kinks, I am really happy with my new Phil Jones Flightcase amp that I used on this gig. The sound is clean and I don't throw out my back or shoulders hauling it from car to venue and back again.

The other weekend performances were with Chris Becker from New York City. Chris assembled a group of musicians to improvise live to a series of silent short films by Maya Deren, Molly Schwartz, Noe Kidder, Ariane Anthony, Aurora Nealand, Ruby Quincunx, and Tom & Marta. The two out of three performances I had the privilege of contributing to were vastly different from each other -- one at Capital University for the NOW Festival, the other at Carabar. Imagine harp, two guitars, bass, trumpet, saxophone, flutes, and digital loops on laptop on one stage with a huge screen of stunning images behind them! Becker's blog entry summarizes the weekend of performances.

For me, a certain hyper-awareness is required to perform this way, which is perfect because that is a state where I tend to reside. Every moment is a new choice, influenced by what you see, hear, and feel. Being very present -- this is what the arts are all about. I am looking forward to future collaborations and more intense listening.

One of my favorite pairs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What lies beneath

Snow like this is a guilt remover. It's quiet (except for the snowblowers) and soft (except for the four-wheelers) and peaceful (except for the salt trucks) and everything sleeps (except for me).

December 2008 holiday celebration at The Vault

Last week's live NPR interview with Andrew Bird was an exercise in patience. It took me too long to realize that the majority of questions posed to Mr. Bird were taken from the rapidly scrolling chat room view window. Even more maddening was that chat room participants were more interested in talking among themselves rather than to the musician being interviewed. Common sense says you close the window to obliterate this immense distraction and just listen to the very grounded but profoundly interesting Andrew Bird talk about his music and the process of creating.

But around 1:35 pm I finally enter the chat because I really want my questions answered, as the Comments section where I originally posted them has been long forgotten. And at 1:45 and 1:46 I give up and comment on the song that is playing, Not a Robot but a Ghost, the one I relate to most and was most intrigued to hear the story behind. One of the moderators actually responds to my blip. And suddenly I get why these chats work -- addictively clicking "post" is a maniacal maneuver to get instant feedback no matter how idiotic your typed contribution.

"Ask him about his favorite snack!" the chat room screamed.


This of course means that I just need to see him in person to get my questions answered.

Andrew's latest blog post at the NY Times "Measure for Measure" and this very recent NY Times article reveal much about the man. And again, here you can hear the entire album, and here the accompanying instrumental album. Listening to musician interviews solidifies a lot of my own thoughts about music and what I want to create.

I also went to see Azur & Asmar at the Wexner this weekend. It's been out for a few years but an English version finally arrived in the States. The phenomenal animation employed three different techniques; flat color for bodies as typical of most cartoons, incredibly detailed shading and depth in character faces, and computer graphics for a lot of the light play. Steeped in beauty and intense symbology, and accompanied by a Gabriel Yared soundtrack, it touched on many massive issues our world faces today.

Movies like that stir the creatrix within. Now if only I would put together the art room that last week I tore apart.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Wrap it up

My way of coping with news of the current economic situation was to plow through more than twenty gigs in December, only three of which I managed to get photos. YES, that purple spotlight (!) remained on the harp for the duration of my playing for a holiday celebration at the Crowne Plaza Columbus North (formerly Columbus Marriott -- wish they had changed the sign prior to my sliding past on that slippery, snowy night).

This was my busiest December ever, averaging four to six gigs per week in addition to a full teaching schedule and all the best-intentioned holiday obligations. How perfect that the harp sounds like a brand new instrument and I now have an extremely trustworthy source for repair if something goes terribly awry.

Looking back on 2008 I see that I've met both named and subconscious goals, many in the last month of the year. There is something to intentional goal-setting, but the only way I can stomach the process is to use symbolic descriptive phrases and visuals.

So, last year is faded crushed blood-red velvet, heavy careless folds disguising slight hard-labor stench and disfigurement. This new year is pale blue silk, simple clean lines revealing natural curves and undulations... soft, supple and forgiving.

Listening to: Andrew Bird's new release Noble Beast streaming on NPR -- specifically "Not a Robot, but a Ghost."