Friday, February 26, 2010

an Olympic Sprint to Owen J Roberts Craft Show... 8 starflowers in 7 days

coming out of the five Holiday shows in five weeks, I turned to gift making. And three of the five pieces I made were given away. Then I turned to hearts and crosses. I made six hearts and sold two of them by simply opening my mouth at work, and then at facebook. Two crosses were made with the glass used in the hearts. Here is one that sold to one of my best friends from my undergrad days...
So with one week to go, I decided I needed some starflowers. Every starflower I have made in a multitude of colors has sold or been given away. So here I am hoping to make eight five-pointed star flowers by next weekend... three in blues and greens have been cut out and are ready for copper foil, three in warm colors are waiting to come into being, and two rainbow starflowers have their cool color glass waiting for the warm colors.
So having completed the hearts I had started before I got sick, having taken on three snow storms, and having enjoyed being a fan of the Olympics... I am streaking towards the Owen J Roberts Craft Show

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ten minutes of breathing then ten minutes of jazz

I've fallen into a habit on most workdays... after rising and breakfasting and computering and showering... I crawl back into bed for ten minutes.

It started in the longest nights of winter so maybe it was a hope of hibernating, however, it seemed to be a less restful ten minutes of my mind racing. So now it has become an attempt to slow my mind and watch my breath before work.

That is quite a task as surely I need those ten minutes to plan my school day. So, here is to breathing and watching the process and letting the rest of the looming day be quiet.

I did a search ten minutes jazz...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

staying with the high places... being grateful

Hotel Bethlehem Banquet
Originally uploaded by jefg99
The other night I returned to the daily Examen with ashes on my forehead. I am sitting with something I have been trying to ignore and may very well blog about that soon. But let me be grateful for the high places in my life.

I am working on a new collaboration project with Mosaic Woman on this day of a big date. After all the snow I am grateful for the sunny day and wider roadways that have come from gradual melting... we will be able to drive north tonight without weather concerns. A short visit with my parents will be followed by a walk up a hill to the beautiful and historic Hotel Bethlehem where we will say hello to my nephew who works there. He has hooked us up with a window seat overlooking historic Bethlehem and with gift certificate in hand we will dine at 1741 on the Terrace.

You see, when we thought about Christmas gifts this past year, I imagined a big date. Our favorite jazz singer was coming to the area. So we asked my parents for tickets to see Kurt Elling and the rest of the Monterey Jazz Festival on tour. Then asked my sister for a gift certificate for the dinner portion of the evening. There have been and will be many days this winter, which I don't want to see snow. Today may have topped the list. So here is to sunny days and gratitude for dry roads, music, historic buildings, good food, a loving family, and a Mosaic Woman to share the experience.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

is this the low point, Thelonious brings back memories

I did some pre-Olympic reading and I am hoping I am at a low point in Thelonious Monk's life. 30 days in jail followed by a lack of gigs, plenty of harsh reviews, and not being around much as his first child is born. and all the time venturing into more drug use.

I know how it is to hit a low point and how it is to emerge. I am always hopeful for those in the midst of low points. Like my life his will be a roller coaster, but I am hopeful to read about some better days maybe by the time this is recorded...


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Four not so feel good movies and why I am glad I saw them.

I have friends who say that if a movie gets good reviews, they won't go to see it. I have a friend who hates movies with happy endings. (all the links will take you to trailers of said movies). I know many people who will avoid a movie if it involves an issue. There are things I try to avoid.
Fifteen years ago I was in Scranton, PA sitting alone in a movie theater. I noticed I was crying. Dead Man Walking was on the screen. About that time a test told me I lacked compassion.
I came home to an empty house. I needed to let out what I had just seen. Crash had been on the screen.
I am in the restroom after a movie and all the men are somber. Are we thinking about ourselves, our parents, or both? The Savages had just been on the screen.
Up In The Air can be added to the list. I sat hoping Hollywood would not force a happy ending, not because I hate movies with happy endings, but because this movie was not about happy endings. It was about a man's life being turned upside down. I sat watching the final scene thinking it was where this movie had to end. Did I have hope for this character? Yes. But I had no idea if what he had lived through would lead to good or bad. However, his life was unfolding.
There are reasons to not see these movies. But sometimes I need to crash into sadness by way of the movies. As one character says in Crash... "Sometimes we crash into people just so that we can feel something."
Sometimes I need a movie to stick a wedge into and try to open this stoic heart of mine, so that when real life hits me hard, I can feel something. A few years ago I stumbled upon a radio station that was having a benefit for CHOP. After each song they would tell a story of a child facing intensive medical treatments. It may have been wise to turn stations, but I kept listening with my heart aching.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It is a good thing to have a room waiting for us

The other day I blogged about the gospel tune, We'll Understand It Better By and By. It was a hymn recorded by Thelonious Monk. The biography I am reading stressed these lyrics...
We are often destitute
of the things that life demands,
Want of food and want of shelter,
thirsty hills and barren lands.

The point being made was to reference the history Monk had emerged from. I emerged from some suffering in my youth, but I have never experienced a want for food. Mosaic Woman and I did go through a year in Oregon when we were both graduate students. I look at what our earnings were that year and I wonder how we did not want... loans, part-time jobs, and frugality.

Monk did not record any of his music until he was 30. And at that time he still lived at home, or at least had a room in his mother's house. It was in that room where he crammed a piano and then a sextet, which prepared for that first recording. If it wasn't for that room, Monk would not have been able to stick to his dream to be himself first and foremost when he played piano.

My parents have always had a room for me. They have in the past in good times and in bad like when my first attempt at college was not quite a success. Years later, Mosaic Woman and I would return to Pennsylvania after 8 years of roaming about the US, and that return was made a lot easier by the room provided us. The other night, I searched and searched for an unknown version of We'll Understand It Better By and By. Nothing met what I wanted. One of the first I found was a bluegrass version. They skip the verse mentioned above, then skip some others, and add one not found in the lyrics I had found. But this guy made it into my grandparent's LP collection and then into mine...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

my interest in Monk takes me to Charles Albert Tindley

My last post ended with a video of Thelonious Monk playing what he called, "Bye and Bye, when the morning comes." As I read about Monk's family moving to New York City and the conditions in which he lived, I want to say, "how could I imagine." But catch myself, because if I can't imagine, I can't attempt to feel. and the Lord knows I need to work on feeling. As I read on in the Biography on Monk, I learn about the man who wrote that hymn...

Charles Albert Tindley, who also wrote Stand By Me
Tindley is known as one of the “found­ing fa­thers of Amer­i­can Gos­pel mu­sic.” The son of slaves, he taught him­self to read and write at age 17. He was a driv­en young man, work­ing as a jan­i­tor while at­tend­ing night school, and earn­ing his di­vin­i­ty de­gree through a cor­re­spond­ence course. In 1902, he be­came pas­tor of the Cal­va­ry Meth­o­dist Epis­co­pal Church in Phil­a­del­phia, Penn­syl­vania, the church where he had ear­li­er been the jan­i­tor. At the time of Tindley’s death, his church had 12,500 mem­bers. The Tind­ley Tem­ple Unit­ed Meth­o­dist Church in Phil­a­del­phia was named af­ter him. Tindley’s “I’ll Over­come Some Day” was the ba­sis for the Amer­i­can ci­vil rights an­them “We Shall Over­come,” pop­u­lar­ized in the 1960’s.

Bye and bye, when the morning comes

We are tossed and driven
on the restless sea of time;
Somber skies and howling tempests
oft succeed a bright sunshine;
In that land of perfect day,
when the mists have rolled away,
We will understand it better by and by.

Bye and bye, when the morning comes,
When the saints of God are gathered home,
We will tell the story how we've overcome,
For we'll understand it better by and by.

We are often destitute
of the things that life demands,
Want of food and want of shelter,
thirsty hills and barren lands;
We are trusting in the Lord,
and according to God's Word,
We will understand it better by and by.


Trials dark on every hand,
and we cannot understand
All the ways that God could lead us
to that blessed promised land;
But He guides us with His eye,
and we'll follow till we die,
For we'll understand it better by and by.


Well it's A for the ark, it was a wonderful boat
Build it on the land, you'll get water there to float
And B for the beast at the ending of the wood
We will understand it better bye and bye

Children, it's bye and bye
Better bye and bye
We will understand it better bye and bye
Children, it's bye and bye
Better bye and bye
We will understand it better bye and bye

One of these these mornings, coming bright and soon
Will the veil of the temple be torn in two, will it be made whole again
And when we get in heaven, gonna understand it then
We don't understand it better bye and bye


Well this old world is not my home
Got to see that city has been built by God
And Jesus remembers I am a fallen sinner
We will understand it better bye and bye

We will understand it better bye and bye
We will understand it better bye and bye

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

10 things I learned in four days of TV

In my last post I mentioned that I picked up a book. I had made it known that I had been wiped out to the point of watching TV this past weekend, a habit I had kicked for the most part. It took something like the Phillies playing in the World Series. A friend who knew I had been sucked into TV sent her husband to the rescue.

So there I was watching TV when the doorbell rang. I peered out a window and saw a friend standing there, so I opened my door. He handed me a biography of one of my favorite jazz musicians, then walked away wishing me good health and some time away from the TV.

but in four days I had learned some things.

  1. I still dig Jim Rockford
  2. I might have liked the A-Team had I given it a chance.
  3. I Spy has amazingly cool jazz playing in the background.
  4. There was a TV show called The Bold Ones.
  5. I still prefer NCAA Basketball over the professionals
  6. The jazz standard Peter Gunn was a theme song to Peter Gunn of course.
  7. I still have no desire, no matter how sick I may be at the time, to watch people shout Jerry as people attack each other on a stage.
  8. That Law and Order is still on the air. How cool is that.
  9. One can watch hours of TV without watching reality TV.
  10. I still cringe when skiers and bobsleds loose their equilibrium.
so an interest in what jazz musician could drive me away from all that...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Health update

Sunday evening around 6:30 I turned off the TV and picked up a book. Mosaic Woman went downstairs to make me dinner.

I had eaten a smaller lunch and was willing to take on a slightly larger dinner. Belly did generally OK though it made a few noises, being baffled by the presence of so much food for the first time in 96 hours.

So I made an assumption. If my digestive system had settled and my body had been fed... I was set to teach on Monday. So off I went.

Standing still proved to be less than fun as I tended to feel disoriented (how was I to know after 4 days in the bed). I was not feverish or achy. But I was not exactly sharp in mind. Students were informed of my energy level and how it related to my patience and responded kindly for the most part.

I am thinking about giving this wiped out body a day of rest tomorrow... not for bad TV. Well, maybe some. But there is a school gardening grant deadline looming, a seed order set to go but not made...

so I may take a day to rest and restore my spirit and lift some burdens from my shoulders at the same time. we will see.