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.