Dominic Turns 1

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Today is Dominic Thomas’ first birthday.

He is bright and loving and joyful and curious. He laughs and smiles a lot and doesn’t cry much at all. He makes his pterodactyl sound, for everything, occasionally throwing in a yeah, yeah just so we know he can talk if he wants to, and he’s steady holding himself up but doesn’t trust yet that he can take that first step. He loves remotes and phones and balls, not necessarily in that order, but most of all he loves to be looked at and smiled at. He lights up every room he’s in. He is one of those people, those gloriously relaxed and happy people, and will always be.

Today is Dominic Thomas’ first birthday, and I love him so.

Classical – Reborn

This is not your grandparent’s cello filled classical music.

I just spent a good 15 or 20 minutes at the 2Cellos YouTube Channel listening to these guys play. I’m amazed, astonished, and astounded. I was completely bowled over by this.  The musicianship alone is incredible.

Wow.

10 Word Review – Civil Wars Self-Titled Album

I’ve been working on the blog, more info to follow, and while I’ve been at it I’ve been listening to the Civil Wars self-titled album from 2013. I’d previously posted a 10 Word Review for the song Dust to Dust from the album and at that point I hadn’t really listened to the album in its entirety. Wow. In my opinion this album is nearly perfect. My 10 Word Review: Beautiful, haunting, harmony, lyrical, writing, heartfelt, story, graceful, amazed… YES.

On Shuffle

I was perusing Facebook earlier today and noticed one of my many cousins posted a meme relating to iTunes on shuffle.  It went something like, open iTunes, put your songs on shuffle, and post the first 10 that play.  I enjoyed looking at her playlist so I thought, hey, I’m going to do that as well and see what pops up on mine.

Before I post my list you should probably know that I’m a bit of a music nut.  A collector and a connoisseur of fine sounds.  I’ve loved music since before I could walk and have had many musical influences in my life.  Those influences have insured that my tastes are broad, far-reaching, and eclectic.  There are nearly 20,000 songs in my iTunes Match and a whole passel of vinyl in storage.  I can’t regularly tap into the vinyl, sadly, but I can access all those lovely sounds in iTunes.  It’s an amazing thing, to have most of your music collection available with the tap of a key or the click of a mouse.  Heaven, for music lovers.

OK, so without further ado…  my list.  I should say there are a few more than 10 here because once I got going I kept wanting to know what would come up next.  I stopped when we had to go out and run a few errands.  While in the car we listened to music, loud.  We usually do.  Here’s the list, in order.

The Airborne Toxic Event – Half of Something Else                                                                                       Headphones on stack of CDs

Marvin Gaye – Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing

K.D. Lang – Nowhere to Stand

Marc Broussard – S.O.S.

Gordon Lightfoot – Canadian Railroad Trilogy

The Rolling Stones – Let’s Spend the Night Together

Def Leppard – Love Bites

Zac Brown Band – No Hurry

Jonatha Brooke & The Story – When Two And Two Are Five

Ben Harper – When It’s Good

Great Northern – Houses

Billie Holiday – Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)

Collective Soul – After All

Dixie Chicks – Cold Day in July

Melissa Etheridge – My Lover

Josh Groban – Vincent

Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine

Philippe Entremont: Vienna Chamber Orchestra – Mozart: Symphony #29

 

 

Music To My Ears

I just spent the better part of the last two hours alternating between watching the snow fall out the window over my desk and looking at/listening to best album lists of 2013.

I pride myself on being somewhat of a music aficionado (a word I can say and understand, but apparently not spell correctly without help).  Music has always been more than important to me and I’ve spent a lifetime making playlists on cassette, when cassettes came in to play, so to speak, followed by CD mixes, and digital mixes for the iPod.  I’ve always done this, for myself, my friends, my family, and anyone else I could get to listen to the groupings of music I’d created.  It brings me an untold amount of joy and the doing of it is a big part of who I am.

Something I particularly love is to find new music.  Most of the time this means new music to me, not brand new to the cosmos.  Discovery.  We used to be dependent on radio stations to find something new.  New releases blasting out, spun by knowledgeable DJs who scoured the planet for the best tunes.  I’d look for odd stations, like college stations that played stuff that sounded like it came from funky back rooms and strange far off places.  I’ve also always been able to cull new sounds from family and friends and the music they love, and loved.  Exposed to very differing kinds of music growing up (big band, twang country, disco, pop, rock and roll, gospel, new age, afro-jazz, classical, jazz… the list goes on), I was lucky.  There was never any one kind of music we listened to in our house, not one kind my grandparents listened to either.  Music was and is a tapestry of sound and I was fortunate enough to get hear so many different kinds.  I had a great education in this regard and I appreciate that musical education more than I can say.  Hearing music the people in my life loved, and love, has always been a thing of beauty to me.  A true reflection of who they are, a better look into their souls.  Deep stuff, but true none the less.  Just as hearing the stuff I love probably lets the people in my life know who I am just a bit better.  We learn about each other through the power of the music we love.  We discover.  It’s a never-ending evolution of beautiful sound.

I wax on… back to mixes and music and watching the snow fall, it’s still falling.

Looking at various best of album lists for 2013 I realized I hadn’t even heard of some of the people and bands that made the lists.  For as plugged in as I think I am, there’s always a whole exciting world of unknown sound I haven’t heard.  I love that.  It means there’s a world of music, doors yet unopened, for me to explore. Today I put on my headphones, I listened, and was transported.  Music does that.  It’s a magical thing, a gift.  And since I’m always making playlists, I thought I’d cue up some of the stuff I heard today and do a playlist right here on the blog.

Some of these people I’d heard of before, and may even own some of their earlier work, some not, but all the music I’m presenting here was new to me today (except for The Lone Bellow’s You Never Need Nobody that I discovered in 2013 and just had to include here).  It’s been an amazing couple of hours.

The list is eclectic and in no particular order.  Put on the headphones, and enjoy….

Thoughts on The Grammy’s

I, along with nearly everyone else I know, save for those people who were watching the première of Sherlock, watched the Grammy’s last night. I admit, we record it and then start watching about 45 minutes after the start so we can fast forward through stuff we don’t really want to watch. What we like, what everyone probably likes, are the musical performances. Some good, some strange, some sad, and some just plain great. One never knows what you’ll see when you tune in. Some years have been disastrous, others spectacular. I guess that’s what makes the viewing so intriguing. Train wreck or triumph.

I’d say last night was a triumph, in most respects. The performances were, by and large, pretty great. We loved Lorde, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with Mary Lambert and Madonna, Carole King with Sara Bareilles, Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr., and even Beyoncé and Jay Z. The last of those was at times uncomfortable, but in a totally good way. That’s obviously one hot marriage.

Other performances made us uncomfortable in an off-putting kind of way. Sir Paul is past his prime, and should know it. It was cool seeing him and Ringo play together, but to be honest I turned down the volume. Worse, and harder to watch, was Blake Shelton with The Highwaymen. Shelton was good, as he usually is, and thank god he was there to hold it all together, because to watch Willie Nelson not play the guitar, and not know what or when he should sing, it was heart wrenching. Was it only us? Add to that a rough Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson, who for his part seemed the same as always, and it was a tough bit to get through. We wanted to fast forward, but were in so much shock we had to keep watching. Whose idea was this anyway? It wasn’t over quickly enough. We felt bad for him.

The best performance, in my opinion, was John Legend’s. Just a guy and his piano singing a lovely song flawlessly. To quote Montell Jordon, “this is how we do it”. No frills, no production, and no loud music to drowned out that he might not be able to sing well live. He can, and he did, without any of the fluff.

If production is actually something you’re into, P!nk stole that horse and rode it. Once again she was high-flying, and awesome. You could hear, at various points during her performance, that she was actually breathing hard. Who could blame her. She must have worked at Cirque du Soleil at some point in a past life. If not, they’re probably hiring. She rocked it out.

I’m sure we’ll be tuning in again, or should I say recording again, next year. Who knows what will happen, other than my usual line, spoken again this year… I have GOT to look up that artist (insert Gary Clark, Jr.) and check out their music.

Wrapping up I have to include Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (with Mary Lambert & Madonna) doing Same Love. Every time I hear this song I cry. Put all else aside, love is love. Music sometimes says that best.

Best Finds of 2013

I’ve been reading a lot of best of lists in the last several days, everything from albums of 2013 to recipes involving bacon.  Everyone seems to be making a year end list.  I thought, why not jump on the bandwagon.  So here we go.  This isn’t a top ten or even a list with any sort of theme.  These are just things (songs, movie houses, art, tv shows, food, etc.) I discovered in 2013 that will stay with me long into 2014 and beyond.

Let’s get to it….

The Lone Bellow came into my life via iTunes and a free download.  I instantly became obsessed with them.  Great lyrics, excellent harmonies, and catchy tunes that stay in your head for days.

The Cinnamon Crunch Bagel from Panera.  This thing is addicting.  I’m so glad we discovered them, and so sad at the same time.  It’s all kinds of deliciousness in a small round baked good.  Toasted with butter… so damn tasty.

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Kickapoo State Park, Illinois.  We’ve lived in Illinois now for nearly two and a half years.  Surprisingly there are many things we’ve come to appreciate and even truly like about living here.  One thing we haven’t is that there isn’t as much water as we were used to living in Oregon.  We’ve done our best to travel to nearby towns with river walks (there aren’t that many) and to find state parks and such that have a decent amount of water, in whatever form we can find it.  One such place, to our delight, is Kickapoo.  First, you have to love the name, c’mon, it’s kind of awesome.  But more importantly, it has water.  All sorts of little lakes and a stream, running through it.  There are canoe rentals in the summer, and loads of trails.  We went in the fall, when the colors of the foliage were stunningly beautiful.  We will definitely be going back.

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The Golden Harbor Restaurant.  With a huge menu, free tea by the pot, and a cool old school vibe, this place rocks. Plus, the food is great.  How can you go wrong with spicy green beans, salt and pepper mushrooms, and plates full of sweet and spicy chicken.  The menu on the wall is enormous and all in Chinese.  You can pick up an english language menu from the little table by the front door if you like.  Write down the numbers of the things you’d like to order, take it up to the counter, and moments later your tasty hot food starts coming out as it’s ready.  We love this place.

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Season tickets for the University of Illinois women’s volleyball and basketball.  What a great deal.  We’d been to games before, but this all inclusive $35 dollar ticket package gets you into all the home games for both sports.  We’ve had hours of enjoyment at these games.  The atmosphere, the competition, supporting the local university, and eating an occasional stadium dog… all worth it.  Can’t beat it for good sporty entertainment.

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Cris Cab.  I can’t even remember how I stumbled on this young gent.  All I know for sure is that his music is catchy and I’m semi-addicted to it.

Dominic Thomas was born.  I don’t know if you can call him a discovery, but as he grows, and has one discovery after another of his own, we have discovered a little more about him, and ourselves.  I think that’s part of the beauty of little people.  As they grow and change and develop we see the world through them, and it is an amazingly wondrous place.

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The fun of riding steam trains.  Taking a five mile ride on a steam train isn’t exactly something I would choose to do on my own.  Maybe an over night or a several night journey, one with sleeper cars and a nice dining car, but not a shorty ride on a steam train that goes one way forward and then backs up on the return trip.  But, somehow, with the help of the excitement of a three year old, short trip steam trains kinda rock.  We went a couple of different times and I’m sure we’ll be going again this year.  Our mini engineer in training loves it and, consequently, so do we.

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The Blacklist.  James Spader is just plain awesome.  He’s an amazing actor.  In lessor hands this role, and the tv show connected to it, might not be as riveting and interesting as it is.  But with James Spader at the center, a decent supporting cast, and top notch writing, Blacklist keeps you hooked.

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Portland, Maine.  We took a little road trip for our 10th anniversary to Portland by way of NY, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, etc.  We loved New England.  It’s beautiful, it’s people are great, and it’s beautiful.  Portland, the destination for this trip, didn’t disappoint.  We met in Portland, Oregon.  It’s our city, as we like to call it.  We love it there.  I had, however, always wanted to go to the other Portland.  To check it out.  To see what it had to offer.  My honey felt the same.  Seemed fitting that on our 10th we would take a trip to that other Portland to see what we could see.  It was great.  Good restaurants, excellent scenery, really nice people, and funky in it’s own way, we enjoyed it very much.

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Roadtrippers.  I love this website.  We travel quite a bit.  Most especially, in recent years at least, we’ve gone on some major road trips here in the U.S.  This site allows you to plan your route and then see what sorts of places might be along it.  From practical to strange Roadtrippers has them all.   They also have an app, which rocks.  I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

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Cafe ZoJo.  It’s a local coffee shop that’s fairly new.  I’m not sure if we actually found this in 2013 or the year before, but never the less, I’m including it here.  The staff are friendly, with quick helpful smiles, the atmosphere is eclectic and comfortable, the food is tasty, and the coffee is sublime.  ZoJo is our go to for take away coffee.  I’ve never had better drip coffee in my life.  That’s saying a lot.

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Sleepy Creek Vineyards.  We actually discovered this place by way of a thing called the Fork in the Road Tour.  A few local farms, their goods, a nice drive with good friends, and we ended up, last stop on the tour, at Sleepy Creek.  We were given a tour of the vineyard,  an explanation of the bottling process, and then a tasting.  The wine was good, but the people were great, and the atmosphere was awesome.  Later, like a month or so, they hosted the Salk Fork River Art Festival.  Again, great setting, great wine, great people.  We were hooked.  They do several events a month including things like film festivals, live music, art festivals, weenie roasts, and of course wine tastings.  It’s worth the drive east.

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Cinnebarre in Salem, Oregon.  We live in Illinois now, but we still spend a significant amount of time in Oregon.  It’s where I’m from, and where my honey lived for over 30 years.  It’s home.  My mom lives in Salem, in the same house we lived in when I was in high school.  Salem is the capitol city, and has always been considered, amongst people who live in Portland anyway, a lessor town.  But in the last several years Salem has grown up a little, and funked out a bit as well.  To prove this point they now have a movie place downtown called Cinebarre.  It’s a chain, though there are only about seven or eight locations around the country.  The fact that one of those is in Salem is very cool.  Cinebarre is a movie theater and it’s a restaurant.  You get table service during the movie, which seems like it could distract you, but it doesn’t really.  Walk in, look at the menu before the movie starts, fill out your card, prop it up, and the wait staff comes to take your order via your card and then brings you the food while the movie is going.  You can keep ordering if you want to, they also have beer and wine.  It’s a kick and a unique movie experience.  I like it.

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Honda PCX 150 Scooter.  We used to own motorcycles.  Big motorcycles.  Hogs.  We had all the gear, went on rides, and thought we were slightly above all those scooter riders out there.  That’s the way it goes.  If you ride motorcycles you think scooter riders, or scooterists as I like to call them, are slightly beneath you.  Not really in an arrogant way, it’s just that as a motorcycle rider you’re cool.  As a scooterist you’re nerdy.  Until, of course, we gave up the motorcycles and bought a Honda scooter in 2013.  It’s beyond awesome.  It hauls buns, can carry both of us, is fun as hell to ride, and seems easier.  Maybe the easier part is just because you don’t have to shift, I don’t know.  But it’s zippy, and it makes a fantastic second car.  I so love to ride it.  Who would’ve thunk, those few short years ago, we would prefer a scooter, but we do.  I guess if that makes us nerds we proudly own it.  I’m a scooterist.  Damn straight I am.

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Here Comes The Sun

For some reason this version of Here Comes the Sun by Nina Simone makes me feel warm and happy.  Warm and happy seems like a great way to start off the New Year.  Here’s hoping everyone has a warm, happy, joy-filled 2014.

Thankful Everyday – Twenty-Two

22.  I’m thankful for YouTube.  I’m not someone who watches loads of silly videos and in fact I haven’t done that hardly at all.  Mostly I watch, and listen to, music videos, live performances, and such.  Once in a while I use it for movie clips or trailers as well, but mostly it’s all about the music for me.  And what a wonderful thing it is to be able to sit with headphones on and listen to recordings of live performances.  I’m a tad obsessed with music, as I said in an earlier 30 days post, and YouTube is just another avenue for music listening.  I adore it.

Today I listened to this…

Even If I Tried – Even If I Wanted To

I just really listened to the lyrics of this song and it made me cry. Crying is not unusual for me, I’m emotional. It’s just that this basic message is one I want to shout from the rooftops — we are all people, all living our lives. So be kind, don’t judge, and love your fellow human for being just that, your fellow human. The end.

Thankful Everyday – Day Thirteen

13. I’m thankful for the music in my life.  I was fortunate to grow up around people who love, listen to, and play all types of music.  It instilled in me a love for all types of amazing sound.  Nothing fills the soul more than a fantastic piece of music.  My tastes are eclectic and varied, which was also a gift from a myriad of people, and thankfully I have music in and around my life every day.

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Say Something

Every once in awhile a song comes along and just grabs – at my heart, my head, my soul.  This is one of those songs.  So powerful.  Besides which, I’m a sucker for strings in a pop song.

Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

When I was growing up I watched, like many of us, the holiday film “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town”. I was five the first time it aired. It’s amazing how something so simple as a young kid watching a fun holiday movie can stick with a person all these years later, and yet it has.

For some reason, unknown to me actually, whenever I’m facing some difficult time in my life, and there have been a few of those, I hear the words of the song “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other” in my head. It pops in there, all on it’s own. Most specifically the chorus, “put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walkin’ cross the flo-o-or, put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walkin’ out the door”. It’s meant to be a song about trying and making a change. For me it is those things, but it’s also a song about moving forward, one step at a time. It says to me that as long as you keep taking one step and then another you will move through whatever it is that’s hard into somewhere new and beautiful. It’s a song about fortitude and perseverance, it’s about looking forward instead of backward. To me it’s a song of hope.

Putting one foot in front of the other gives me comfort and reminds me, in the larger scheme of things, that though life can be hard, inconvenient, scary, and awfully painful sometimes, it can also be magical and beautiful and full of wonder and love.

Today I thought I’d share the little song that’s had such an impact on my life because I love it, but also because maybe there’s a person out there who will feel the message, get inspired, get up, and put one foot in front of the other. It works for me.

Hallelujah

I love this song and it always seems sort of fitting to play it during the holidays. This is a fantastic 2009 live version with Portland singers Storm Large, Holcombe Waller, and Oregon born Wade Mccollum at one of my favorite Portland venues, the Aladdin Theater. Happy Holidays.

Pronunciamento

I love words and this is a great one. Pronunciamento. Meaning… pro·nun·ci·a·men·to   [pruh-nuhn-see-uh-men-toh, -shee-uh-] noun, plural pro·nun·ci·a·men·tos. a proclamation; manifesto; edict.

I came across this one today as I was looking around the dictionary.  Or more precisely, in this new age, dictionary.com. It’s a wonderful word found in a wonderful place.  Dictionaries are exciting, to me anyway.  I’ve been reading them since I knew what one was and found one in our house.  Words.  Wonderful.

I used to play word games with some of my work mates.  Emails going around with sentences made up of words with the same letter.  Peter picked pickled peppers.  Like that.  We’d start with A and work our way to Z and back again, or we’d rhyme, or be cute some other way with wonderful wacky words.  Fun, to us anyway.  We’d stretch our minds, our vocabularies, and we’d laugh and laugh.  Words are good like that.

Today as I looked around I came across this great word.  Had never heard of it.  And now I love it.  I am also, I think, going to use it here.  Make a pronunciamento about things I’d like to do this summer… a proclamation of sorts.  Here, publicly, live and “in person”.  Maybe if I put some things down here I will do some of them… maybe I already have.  Maybe I would anyway.  No matter… it’s a fun exercise.

(Riley is playing with her Uncle Kevin right now… he’s rubbing her belly, she’s growling, barking, and jumping up to wiggle around and play bite at him.  She’s like popcorn. It’s cute.  They missed each other.)

Anyway… back to the pronunciamento.

100 things to do this summer… and in life.

  1. Be present.
  2. Act with grace.
  3. Ride my bike around town.
  4. Use the frisbee golf set I purchased.
  5. Play with Sebastian.
  6. Eat grapes.
  7. Get my photos better organized.
  8. See an opera again.
  9. Hold hands.
  10. Be patient with people.
  11. Listen.
  12. Walk.
  13. Sing loudly in moving vehicles.
  14. Eat more whole food, less processed food.
  15. Play guitar again.
  16. Travel to foreign places.
  17. Write.
  18. Be silly.
  19. Dance suddenly and randomly at home, and sometimes in public.
  20. Be child like.
  21. Hug my honey more than I already do.
  22. Use the library more than I do.
  23. Make pudding.
  24. Sleep outside.
  25. Be less afraid.
  26. Live more sustainably.
  27. Don’t buy anything for myself, including music, clothes, videos, etc. unless it’s second hand. (related to previous point)
  28. See a few movies in the park.
  29. Stop and listen to live music (street corners, festival bands, etc.)
  30. Paint something.
  31. Go to the drive in.
  32. Take photographs that inspire me.
  33. Continue to evolve.
  34. Give more than I get.
  35. Show respect to strangers.
  36. Buy meat from a farmer.
  37. Write and send actual letters.
  38. Study other cultures and ideas.
  39. Honor my ancestors.
  40. Swim in wild waters.
  41. Walk in Central Park in New York, eat lobster in Maine, watch hot air balloons in New Mexico.
  42. Use the crockpot to make dessert.
  43. Put my feet in lakes, oceans, rivers, puddles, tiny wading pools.
  44. Do another paring down of my clothes and shoes.
  45. Eat tomatoes from our tomato plant.
  46. Sit quietly outside in the wind and sunshine listening to the trees and not talk or play on the computer or phone or any other man made thing.
  47. Live responsibly.
  48. Worry less.
  49. Try new foods that scare me a little.
  50. Use hairbrushes and wooden spoons as microphones.
  51. Give the pups even more attention than they already get.
  52. Go snorkeling.
  53. Take random day long road trips with my honey to nowhere in particular with good music playing and great conversations.
  54. Embrace my dorky nature.
  55. Go to museums.
  56. Dinners with friends.
  57. Be in awe.
  58. Make people laugh on purpose.
  59. Learn.
  60. Make and eat pudgy pies.
  61. Talk to strangers.
  62. Laugh at myself and things that might irk me, but shouldn’t.
  63. Be the nicer version of me in taxing situations.
  64. Do things I love more than things I should do.
  65. Make and drink naturally flavored sun tea.
  66. Make a fort out of blankets.
  67. Smile often and only from the eyes.
  68. Camp in wild beautiful places.
  69. Put my toes in the sand.
  70. Color.
  71. Eat more fruit and less bread.
  72. Read at least two books a month.
  73. Make stuff.
  74. Take care of my honey like she deserves.
  75. Skip, hop, and jump.
  76. See the AFI top 100 films.
  77. Know what’s going on in the world.
  78. Read poetry again.
  79. Play games and cards.
  80. Volunteer my time.
  81. Be passionate in life.
  82. Always look people in the eye.
  83. Wear funky hats.
  84. Write random and unexpected emails to friends and family more often.
  85. Love.
  86. Get paid for being creative.
  87. Take the dogs to parks and on walks.
  88. Be an agent of positive change.
  89. Travel to new places.
  90. Take the train more often.
  91. Ride a bus to Chicago or maybe some other random place.
  92. Sit around our chiminea with good company.
  93. Make a s’more or two.
  94. Say what I mean and only that.
  95. Smell flowers.
  96. Live free.
  97. Eat handcrafted ice cream.
  98. Help out friends and family.
  99. Be kind to myself.
  100. And lastly, though I could go on, laugh laugh laugh at why WordPress has famous nuns and Saint Peter as recommended highlighted links down below this as I type.  Hmmmm….

Driving Back From O’Hare

I took Martin to the airport on Monday. It’s a long drive, nearly three hours one way. The drive was uneventful and the weather was gorgeous. On the way home I decided to semi-document the drive. I recently found a case with a bunch of old mix CDs I’d made. We’ve been working our way around that case since the find. I had one in on Monday. So here it is… Illinois countryside, in bits, accompanied by the track that happened to be playing at the time. There are a few of these, peruse them at your leisure, or not. I find this amusing… but then I would. It combines music, driving, and a bit of the tech stuff I love. The first video is a tad long. Feel free to skip part of it should you need to move on. This is just one of the quirky things I find myself doing. Enjoy…

Fried Egg Sandwiches, Steel Guitar, and Dad

I had a fried egg sandwich the other day. It sounds exactly like what it is… hard fried egg, two pieces of bread, loads of mayo. Yum. I don’t do this often, maybe a couple times a year, but every time I do I think of my dad. He loved them.

Forrest Gilfred Parker…. born April 17, 1943, died June 14, 2006. Dad’s would’ve turned 69 three weeks ago. Seems weird that he’s already been gone 6 years. I’ve been thinking about him on and off since his birthday, culminating in the eating of aforementioned fried egg sandwich.

I loved my dad and still do. Our relationship, for those of you who know us, or me, or him, was complicated. A lot of time spent apart, a lot of time not communicating, but also a lot of love. He was a great kid of a man. I say this because he had, all his life I’m sure, the joy of a kid. He never lost it as he aged. It was fantastic. He wasn’t dealt the best of hands, legally blind, high school at the Montana School for the Blind and Deaf, a father who died when my dad was 16, but he never lost that joy. Amazing.

The thing is, what dad didn’t have in eye sight he made up for in musical talent. My dad was a musical phenomena. Able to play nearly any instrument he picked up, he chose the pedal steel guitar as his baby because it was the hardest to play. Everything else kind of came easy to him. He never became famous, though he played nearly as well as Buddy Emmons, his idol, but that didn’t stop him from playing in all kinds of bands in all sorts of venues. He played music his whole life as well. Famous didn’t matter, the music did. I loved that baby blue double neck. It was probably as big a part of him as his seven children were, and the sight of it always made me smile. I have great memories of listening to him play, laughing and smiling when all the right notes went all the right ways. He could riff with the best of them. Talented.

I also loved the way he ate, or enjoyed food I should say. He seemed to be in constant perpetual motion. He wasn’t a sit around and relax kind of guy. Projects and doing this and that. His blindness progressed to the point he couldn’t work, but that didn’t seem to stop or slow him down. He couldn’t see well, but he moved around a lot. All the time. I was always amazed how he did it without slamming into things more often. He also helped his friends a lot, like helping to put a new roof on the church he and my step mom attended. A roofing blind guy. We, all of his kids, teased him. He was a tease himself. And his laugh… oh my lordy. I could laugh just thinking about his laugh. A full blown giggle combined with a deep down in his gut kind of laugh. Uniquely his own and always with that toothy smile. Dad’s face glowed when he smiled. So he moved around a lot, always on the go, and consequently his food often was food he could eat while running around doing this or that. Loads of sandwiches, and always a cup of coffee, cream and sugar. We all drink coffee now I think, and I think it’s probably a genetic thing as drinking it seemed to be in his blood. And even though he was on the go, eating on the go a lot, he enjoyed his food. Fried egg sandwiches, banana milkshakes or better yet, malts, and sweets. I just remember the joy he got from it. The joy he got from most everything he did.

The same complete joy he got from spending time with his kids. Probably his favorite thing to do. And what a crowd we are. All gray haired, except for maybe Ken, the youngest, all with his playful sense of things, all with his corny sense of humor. The lot of us, if I do say so myself, are pretty darn fantastic. He was proud of us. And we, whether we admitted it to each other or ourselves, were all very proud to call him our father. We are still proud. So the other day I had a fried egg sandwich, and I smiled a little thinking how he would like that. He would like that I was eating it and thinking of him. He would like that I got a bit of joy from it. He would like that I ate it while listening to some good music. The whole scene would’ve been music to his heart. And for my dad, that’s about as good as it got. Music, food, and the cup of coffee I had to go with.

I love you dad, and I miss you.

To See or Not to See

This is an amazing story about beauty, perception, art, and what we see, or don’t see, as we go about our daily lives. Do you stop and notice, enjoy, live in the moment with something beautiful or do you walk past without a glance, without a thought for what’s happening right in front of you. What would you do?