Timing is Everything in Music

Last Sunday, after a lovely ladies weekend, I met my friend Tricia at an Open Mike event to sing together. Now, we have performed together before, but only once this year, and of course had not rehearsed anything. We got very lucky.

It reminded me a time in the late 1970’s when I came home one evening and my sister introduced me to her new friend Fred Mandel. He said “Your sister tells me you play the piano – why don’t you play something?” Now my sister was totally setting me up (as usual). My piano skills at the time were BOTH parts of Heart & Soul. “No” I said to the very young looking guest “You first.”

Well I didn’t know it, but at that time, Fred Mandel was playing with Domenic Troiano and was about to tour for four years with Alice Cooper. Oh yeah, he also went on to play live and record with Queen, Supertramp, Pink Floyd and little gigs like LIVE AID with Sir Elton John. No biggie.

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Fred sat at my parent’s little apartment size piano and played the absolute crap out of it. Amazeballs. After about an hour of stunning rock and roll, my Mom came out to say goodnight and thank him for playing. He made as if to stop, and she beseeched him to continue, (“I didn’t even know that piano could SOUND like that “) He instantly switched to Cole Porter and gentle swing for the rest of the evening. I’m glad he went first.

It was a less dramatic event on Sunday. Tricia and I got up and sang a song. They like us and asked us to sing another which we did. They wanted more and we said no and that is always the best way. Then the next group got up. Four black guys – they sounded like 3-1/2 guys from Santana. You know when a band kicks in full throttle, completely in sync, from the very first note? It was like that. I bet they rehearsed.

Music Notes; #1 and #2

Music Notes #1 – Sorry Paul.

This past summer, in an interview promoting his new solo album, Keith Richards slagged the Beatles. He referred to Sgt. Pepper as “rubbish” and stated that – “there’s not a lot of roots in that music.” I think my jaw dropped. It seemed somehow sacrilegious.

It was in response to the interviewer’s point that, in the past 20 years, he has played more Stones than Beatles music.

I have too.

In my car I have satellite radio. I play harmony roulette, (12 pre-set stations, I have to sing with one of them). This provides an incredible variety of music, from Classic Rock, to Underground Garage, to a station that plays only acoustic covers of songs and another deep cuts from classic albums. Of course, E Street Radio plays only Bruce – but it also has other people covering Bruce, and Bruce covering other people. (he sings Royals by Lorde lately – stripped down, fabulous)

The other time I play a concentrated set of music is when I hike for an hour every day with my iPod.

Here’s the thing. 9/10 times when a Beatles song comes on I switch it to something else. I’m sorry. I do it fast because I feel so incredible guilty. The Beatles are important to me in a way that ties back into my childhood like no other band or singer. My sister got a new Beatles album every Christmas for many years. We’d wait at the record store for the new CHUM chart every week – all about the Beatles songs. They used to do a double play and play them twice! It’s how we learned to harmonize.

But now when I want music, their saccharine sweetness, their almost impossible buoyancy, doesn’t thrill me. Now to be fair, the only exceptions are the later, solo John Lennon works. Other than that, no Beatles song from the ‘60s works for me now the way so many many Stones songs still do.

I think Keith’s point about roots is valid. He claims there really is nothing new in rock and roll – even hip hop and ad jingles – it all come from the Blues. And when Jumpin’ Jack Flash or Sympathy for the Devil come on, I don’t turn away, I turn it up loud.

Music Notes #2 – Inside the Music Store

I love music stores. The sounds, the sights, the people softly playing instruments, or occasionally someone really letting loose. The guys who work there are all passionate about music, and the instruments they sell. I was getting lots of assistance with an electronic piano rental, and purchasing extra guitar strings for Music Night when the young man asked me what kind of music I played.

“I’m a back-up singer in a Bruce Springsteen cover band”. I replied.

“Hey! My uncle played an amazing Clarence Clemon’s style sax. You guys should get together.”

Okay so none of that second part actually happened. But wouldn’t that have been cool?

The Wake Up Call

The 100 Word Challenge this week is “The alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. as usual”

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The Wake Up Call

I didn’t start to worry until well after midnight. No calls – “I didn’t want to wake you”- would be the excuse. Tomorrow the kids would start school and everything would be back to normal. Surely many couples have a hard time through the summer – far too much time spent together.

Later, tired of pacing, of looking out the window with every car light that passed, I fell asleep.

The alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. as usual. I felt the empty side of the bed and realized that, for me, the alarm should have gone off long ago.

100 Word Challenge Week #166: “checking in proved to be”

100wcgu-71   The prompt this week”  “checking in proved to be”.  Here goes:

The WELCOME

When their son graduated from high school, he was allowed to choose any destination worldwide for a family vacation.  Jared chose Dubai and his mother made extensive travel plans for their adventure.

After a long and exhausting flight, they arrived at their hotel and Janice approached the front desk.  “Good morning,  we’re the Lee family, checking in.”

The desk clerk, looked Janice up and down, turned to her husband and asked; “Do you allow your woman speak for you?”.  Hmmm.  Checking in proved to be only the first indicator of what would certainly be an enlightening experience for them all.

Mothers and Daughters

In grade school I had a long walk to school. At least it seemed long. I crossed Lawrence Avenue which was quite a busy street and didn’t get crossing lights until I was much older. But I was able to come home for lunch which was a treat for me. My mother was creative and I would often have interesting shapes or combinations of food, plus gourmet treats (look in the freezer – it’s Peach Melba!)

I walked to and from school with my best friend Mary Curcio. We would play Bewitched, or Lost in Space and I would carry a story line over many days.

In October when I was in grade two, my Mom mentioned at lunch that she was heading up towards my school, did Mary and I want to get a ride back with her? I said “Sure” and went to get Mary. My Mom said she had to leave right away, so if we didn’t get back in five minutes she would have to go without us. I know that she said this, but I didn’t really hear it.

Mary was not a quick kind of girl. She was very thoughtful and never ever hurried. When I tried to impress upon her to hurry up so we could get a ride, it didn’t seem to make any difference. I kept looking out to the door and 10 minutes later saw what I feared – my mother driving up the street without me.

I ran outside and up the sidewalk, screaming and waving my arms. I didn’t understand the total panic that I was feeling – but if was very real. When my Mom stopped the car, I almost laughed at myself for my overreaction, but she was actually just stopped at the stop sign at the top of the street. She started going again. I was about 4 houses back and downhill. She didn’t see me.

The desperation I felt as I ran screaming after her bumper was almost overwhelming. And I don’t know why. I had just had lunch with her, and would see her after school in a few hours. I had time to get to school on my own, as I did every other day. Yet…I was sobbing and couldn’t stop.

I had the same feeling for the first time in a very long time just last week. After not seeing my daughter for nearly four months, I had flown to the Yukon Territory to meet her in Whitehorse. After a long journey, we finally arrived to check into one of the top hotels. Can you picture a top hotel in Whitehorse Yukon? I bet you can.

10:30 pm in Downtown Whitehorse, Yukon

10:30 pm in Downtown Whitehorse, Yukon

I reminded the front desk clerk that my daughter would be arriving separately and she was to get her key as soon as the room was ready. She said; “Oh your daughter was here ten minutes ago…you just missed her.”

My body folded exactly as I imagine it would had I been kicked in the stomach. It was the same feeling of desperate loss. I burst into tears. The poor clerk was very concerned – “I’m sure she’ll be back! I told her the room would be ready in a couple of hours.”

I looked at Blaine and he kept very cool. However, he did understand and left immediately to look for her in the car while I watched from the window of my fourth floor room to try and see her on the street.

I don’t think I had ever gone so long without seeing one of my kids before. It was exacerbated by the fact that she was so far out in the wilds – two and a half hours north west of Whitehorse, past Lake Lebarge where they cremated Sam McGee!  She had no texting, no email, no phone, and limited access to Facebook only after 11:00 at night. She had a fantastic research position at the Arctic Institute of North America. It seemed she was doing great and have a wonderful summer but I really wanted to get a hold of her and see for myself.

We knew where to look – Starbucks or the book store. Blaine found her in Starbucks. When I saw our rental car coming back down the road, and I could just make out her arm showing through on the passenger side. I bolted out of the room, down four flights of stairs and out on to the street. Where I hugged her. And sobbed. And kept sobbing. I’m crying now just remembering. I am sure that I embarrassed her something fierce. But she didn’t let go.

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Treat me like a dog. Please.

The Right to Die is a hot topic in Canada right now – brought forward by Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher, who is a quadriplegic as a result of an accident.  He is proposing that under certain circumstances, and with statutory requirements in place,  doctor may be allowed to help people end their lives if that is their desire.
Here’s what I think:
In Toronto in 2006, a man in a car attacked a police officer who was mounted on his horse and injured both of them. Now this was no mere horse – Brigadier was star. This is how the press covered what happened:

“A Toronto police horse killed in the line of duty last month was given a hero’s send-off at a memorial on Monday that drew 1,000 people, according to police estimates.”

 

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Now you will notice that is says the horse was “killed in the line of duty”.  But this is not true.  He was horrifically injured in line of duty, and as we treat our animals far better than our family members, he was mercifully shot.

It’s all well and good to say that there are drugs available that can manage the pain and suffering for those with life threatening or terminal diseases.  It just isn’t true.  Sometimes the pain can’t be managed and it’s horrible for the patient, his family and his caregivers.

People should have the choice to end their life when they choose.  Nobody can make that choice for them – and the ‘slippery slope’ that people talk about can surely be managed through review boards, or procedures that protect everyone involved.

Have you ever watched someone drown in their own fluids in their own bed?  I have. And felt so clearly that if my cat or dog was in such pain and fear I would not allow it to continue.  Yet still people want them to carry on.   I fear we are on the wrong side of history here – that our grandchildren will look on this practice in horror.

 

 

 

 

Screamed like a Girl…

A few years ago I broke my back coming off my horse. I was very lucky. My helmet was cracked – which was a pretty good indicator of the force of impact. Had I not been wearing the helmet, I would probably be typing this with a blower straw rather than my hands.

Six weeks after the fall, I returned to the fracture clinic at the hospital for my followup. The doctor told me that I was healing very well and could begin moderate exercise. I told him that was good, as I had already been playing tennis for two weeks!

This is just to show that I do not step away from things without good reason. And right now I am out. On the DL. This is what happened.

About a month ago in the frenzy of pre-move packing, I was carrying a large box down the stairs that was almost too heavy for me. The bottom of the box gave way, and I used only my right arm to stop the contents from spilling out. I felt something tear. It eased quickly and I carried on.

A couple of weeks after that, I did EXACTLY what my yoga teacher says is the reason many woman get injuries – I reached into the back seat, while driving, to grab my purse. As I swung it into the front seat, it caught on my tennis bag and I felt something tear. Again.

This also eased off and I was able to continue normal activities. To be fair, I was being extremely conscious of hitting the tennis ball in front of me – because hitting behind me as I am wont to do was really quite painful. My tennis game actually improved with this better focus and positioning.

On Monday, we were walking in the fields when my two stupid dogs were roughhousing and collided right behind me, taking me out at the knees. My husband laughed – I fell right on top of the two dogs and it did look pretty funny – but stopped laughing when he saw that I was crying. It wasn’t the fall – it was the surprise that had me fling my arms back. (You remember what surprised arms look like right? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bmhjf0rKe8) The pain was excruciating, but after an hour of hiking it eased off once again.

Yesterday I was walking in the fields with the dogs – alone this time – when something caught their attention and they wouldn’t heel. The two older dogs were frantically digging in the middle of the pasture. I went over to see what had engaged them so and saw the puppy in the middle looking from one to the other. They had come upon an extremely large nest of field mice. As the two dogs dug, the puppy snapped at the baby mice as they flew in the air and swallowed them whole.

I stood and watched for a second or two and then the remaining mice used another tunnel to escape their furry foes – and ran out en masse, right over my boots. I screamed like a girl. Twice. And leapt backwards, throwing my arms back once again. The pain made me weak in the knees. And this time it didn’t ease off.

I tried to play tennis later that morning. Nothing if not an optimist, I was sure it was moments away from going back to nearly normal. It did not and I could not play well at all. My signature trick shot – hitting behind me without even looking – couldn’t happen. My serve was beyond weak and I couldn’t hit an overhead with power to save my life. So I am on the DL.

Conveniently, I was already seeing my doctor yesterday afternoon for a referral for foot surgery. Isn’t getting old fun kids? He checked my shoulder and sent me for an x-ray and an ultrasound – even while noting that really only an MRI would give us any real information.

At the x-ray clinic I was unable to do up my hospital gown. I told the lady if I could do it up I wouldn’t be there! Now I have to use my other arm to position my bad shoulder to do hard tasks like reach for groceries or put on mascara. It sucks. So I am taking the weekend off of tennis. We’ll see.