Every time I pass by my dresser and see Marcel in his new favorite place,
the cat-aquarium, a Beatles song comes to mind:
I’m looking through you,
where did you go
I thought I knew you,
what did I know
Yesterday, I wrote about my gratitude for the snowstorm.
Today, after trying to walk Emma who seemed so determined to make me fall on the ice that I was forced to abort the effort after only three minutes, I’m over it.
Apparently, today is #WinnieThePoohDay. I just pulled my Winnie-the-Pooh collection off the shelf in search of a passage to quote. After getting lost in the pages/memories, I chose the following:
Sing Ho! for the life of a Bear!
Sing Ho! for the life of a Bear!
I don’t much mind if it rains or snows,
‘Cos I’ve got a lot of honey on my nice new nose,
I don’t much care if it snows or thaws,
‘Cos I’ve got a lot of honey on my nice clean paws!
Sing Ho! for a Bear!
Sing Ho! for a Pooh!
And I’ll have a little something in an hour or two!
(from In Which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole)
I can’t help but feel a kinship with Winnie-the-Pooh. He finds great happiness in composing silly little songs, and the next smackeral is always on his radar.
Thank you, A. A. Milne for all the smiles and fun-to-sing songs.
Happy Birthday to you.
It’s been dry and windy, and this morning I noticed finches hopping around in the nearly-empty bird bath. As I filled the watering can I use to replenish the bath, I noticed other finches perched on the dogs’ water bowl that sits on the deck.
The birds were thirsty.
Soon after I went back inside, birds arrived. These finches (House and Gold), juncos, chickadees, doves, flickers, and magpies all came to drink at the community pool. In fact, so many birds came to visit throughout the day that I just cleaned and refilled the bath again.
Lucky me. And I mean that.
When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all.
~ E. O. Wilson
Last night while on my birthday adventure in Manitou Springs, Zippy and I discovered an old arcade with Skee Ball machines. I love me some Skee Ball. We each played two games (25 cents per game!), and rolled the nine balls. My first game, I only scored 130 points out of a possible 450. But the second game . . .
330 points, yo.
She’s a Skee Ball wizard
There has got to be a twist
A Skee Ball wizard
She’s got such a supple wrist.
How do you think she does it? I don’t know!
What makes her so good?
I’ve decided that my perfectly-respectable-but-not-at-all-astounding score is a sign of good things to come. It’s a Skee Ball Omen.
(Note: That ball on top of the net is from another, less-wizardly Skee Baller.)
After I finished my hoop-dancing session this morning, Zippy walked into the kitchen. I’d blasted lots of funky songs from my playlist and the final one was “Overpowered by Funk” by The Clash. As I danced over to pour myself coffee, I asked my mate, “Are you feeling overpowered by funk?”
Zippy said, “I think I’m immune to funk.”
“No,” I cried. “That’s just wrong! How could anyone be immune to funk?! That’s blasphemy!”
“Well,” Zippy conceded. “I do like Roger Clinton more than most people.”
“George Clinton!” I corrected. “You like George Clinton.”
“Oh, yeah,” Zippy said. “Roger Clinton is Bill Clinton’s brother.”
No offense to Zippy, but there’s no mistaking Roger’s music for George’s.
One of the very best things about running on the trails in June is the Western Meadowlark companionship. They’re all over the open space, perched on yucca or rabbit brush. The colors shown in these public domain photos might lead you to believe that meadowlarks are easy to spot. Not so.
I almost always hear a Western Meadowlark before I see it. These birds have the most beautiful song. It’s liquid and lyrical, warm and smile-inducing. A pure shot of joy.
And lucky for me, these birds love to sing.
The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
~ Mark Twain
I hope that helped. I’m definitely feeling better.
Zippy has started the task of scanning photo negatives from long ago. Right now he’s revisiting July of 1992 when we lived in Alaska and one of his sisters was visiting. We did a boat tour in Kenai Fjords National Park where we saw this handsome sea lion:
Because we have approximately one metric shit-ton of negatives we haven’t looked at in years, I’m guessing we’ll unearth more sea lion photos from our time in Alaska. That means there’s a very good chance I could begin posting one every Saturday, and #SeaLionSaturday could become a real thing. (Especially if 50 people started joining me in posting sea lion photos each Saturday. Friends, they might think it’s a movement!)
All I’m saying is that #Caturday isn’t the only catchy hashtag.
Yesterday and today have been frigid in these parts. The kind of cold that makes my teeth ache and my nostril hairs stick together as soon as I step outside. I’ve toted my space heater from room to room while waging an internal debate on the pros and cons of life in Florida or Arizona or Texas. (Okay, that’s melodramatic hyperbole.) However, the stuff about my nostril hairs is true.
But at this moment, I’m thankful for the promise of better things:
That’s a 29 degree swing in the right direction, and I’ll take it!
As that Little Orphan Annie with the freakishly blank eyes is fond of saying:
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow ….
This is an Eurasian Collared-Dove, an exotic bird species that has been making its way west since its release in the Bahamas during the 1970s. We’ve still got Mourning Doves in our neighborhood, but the most common dove sighting in our backyard is one of these.
It’s hard to be anti-bird because, well, they’re birds. On the other hand, these birds are pretty pushy and spend a lot of time camped out in the feeder tray. Pink Floyd’s song isn’t about gluttinous birds, but whenever one of these doves bombs in and scares everyone else from the feeder, I can’t help thinking “Pigs on the wing.”
Leon Russell went to the big piano bench in the sky last night. When Zippy told me the news, I felt deflated. But I didn’t realize how hard his death had hit me until I put on “A Song for You.” I couldn’t finish listening because the grief was too intense.
Leon Russell was a singer-songwriter who created music I was ALWAYS thrilled to hear whether it came on the radio, popped up on an iPod shuffle, or was background music in a shopping mall. I never wanted to tune him out. Leon Russell’s music made me smile, made me feel, and inspired me to sing along. His voice was unusual, his phrasing could trip me up, and his piano playing made me want to dance.
These two albums reside in my record cabinet. I don’t remember when I bought the Best Of, but have a very clear memory of buying Looking Back. I’d spent the day at the beach and was in the neighborhood supermarket in West Los Angeles when I passed a bin of deeply discounted albums. (I remembered this being a cut-out, but when I pulled it out of my cabinet just now, I was surprised to see there are no notches in the cardboard). This particular Leon Russell record was being sold for about $2, and I snatched it up. Any Leon Russell is great Leon Russell, right? He could sing the phone book and I’d listen.
Well, I got home and discovered that Looking Back was purely instrumental. Leon didn’t even sing! Not only that, Leon didn’t play the piano! On Looking Back, Leon played the harpsichord!
I have to admit I didn’t listen to that album a whole lot over the years (and I doubt any radio stations ever played cuts from it), but I’m still glad I bought it. That record represents an enduring memory from my time in LA. Also? It’s fun to think of Leon now playing in that super-band in the sky, shredding on his harpsichord while Leonard Cohen plays piano.
Thank you for all the music, Leon.
Rest in peace.
As has been documented here over the years, I’m a long-time Dylan fan, so wasn’t completely surprised when it was announced today that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. (Although, as I said in an email to a friend, I do wonder whether Bob should’ve been disqualified from consideration due to his Victoria’s Secret commercial years ago.)Nonetheless, this year the committee chose to honor Bob Dylan’s work which, on a personal note, feels very fitting because Zebu is studying in Sweden right now. The award also feels fitting because of one Dylan song in particular that tragically never, ever goes out of style. For “Masters of War” alone, I’m good with Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Zebu and Wildebeest have been avid Spotify users for years, and now Zippy and I also have access to ALL THAT MUSIC.
It’s great to have a song pop in my head and then seconds later, I listen to it. It was years since I’d heard Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and then the other morning her voice gave me chills.
Spotify is also great for quickly checking out bands and musicians I read about in Rolling Stone, plus I discover new music while listening to other people’s playlists. Case in point, Earl St. Clair. Spotify = MORE MUSIC TO LOVE.
But the absolute greatest thing about Spotify is how it’s rejuvenated my hoop dancing. In the dark ages, I’d cobbled together a playlist of songs that were mostly good for dancing within my hoop. And while Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” are kick-ass hoop dancing songs, I was bored.
I’m now the proverbal kid in the candy store. New songs every day to inspire my hoop dance. New favorites to sample again and again without fear of getting in a permanent rut.
So on this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for:
all the incredible music that makes me want to dance,
and Spotify which makes it easy to do.
Hey, I said to Zebu, it's Three Turtle Doves.
To which he replied, "I think the song goes 'Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves.'"
So I looked up The Twelve Days of Christmas and, sure enough, it's Two Turtle Doves.
I'd rather not break up the trio so if you'd be so kind, either squint your eyes
and pretend these are Three French Hens OR miscount the birds
and end up with only Two
Mourning Turtle Doves.
Last night Zippy and I, the temporarily childless couple, went to the Denver Botanic Gardens to hear Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson play. The evening was perfect. Dinner and a bottle of wine on the lawn as we listened to two extremely gifted songwriters pour out their hearts. I laughed and I cried. Loudon was coerced into performing The Acid Song (oh happy day!) and Richard sang Walking On a Wire (a song he wrote when he and his former wife/singing partner, Linda Thompson, were splitting up; Linda sang it on their album so I’ve never heard him sing it). Wow.
Earlier in the week, R’s nurse and I were discussing the frustrations of trying to get R to drink some stuff he needed to drink before having a procedure he’d agreed to have done. R was in rare form and had dug in his heels. Big time. He complained about what he couldn’t do and complained about what he wanted to do but refused to take any action that would alleviate his complaints. It was infuriating. The nurse told me she’d worked with him on a previous hospital stay and that R kind of cracked her up. I told her she had a great attitude but that his contrariness was making me want to bang my head against a wall. She said, “Don’t do that. Then you’ll have a headache AND a pain in the ass.” That really made me laugh (I was tired!) and I felt so much better. Nurses are the best.
I’ve been disciplined about my writing goals this week and hit my word count five days in a row! I’m realizing how important it is for me to establish a routine and stick to it. And yes, I’ve had this realization before and then lost sight of it along the way so I’ll probably be back here in another few months saying, “You know? It’s really helpful when I set a word count goal and then hold myself accountable to it each and every day!” Feel free to laugh when that happens.
My other cool writing-related development is that I have a new technique for handling my inner critic. Lately I’ve really been plagued with negative thinking whispered in my ear by that horrid inner creature. I guess William Faulkner’s off drinking or having sex or something because he’s not doing a very good job watching my back right now. But that’s okay because I now have an actual voice to put to that inner critic. And that voice is………………R’s voice! That’s right, folks. Whatever nastiness starts echoing in my head (You know, Tracy, this isn’t very good. No one’s going to want to read this.), I repeat aloud in R’s rasping whisper. And then I laugh! And keep writing! I totally recommend this method for thwarting your critic. Not everyone is as fortunate as me in having a near-constant negative person in my life who complains about everything in a very unique voice (his vocal chords were damaged years ago) but I’m sure you could use your father-in-law’s voice or that nosy neighbor’s or the twit at the bank the other day. Try it, you’ll like it!
Wishing everyone a glorious weekend.
Last night as I listened to this, one of my favorite Billy Bragg songs, it occurred to me the song’s like a mini-YA. Everything you need for a satisfying story, right here. In just 267 words.
THE SATURDAY BOY By Billy Bragg
I’ll never forget the first day I met her
That September morning was clear and fresh
The way she spoke and laughed at my jokes
And the way she rubbed herself against the edge of my desk
She became a magic mystery to me
And we’d sit together in double History twice a week
And some days we’d walk the same way home
And it’s surprising how quick a little rain can clear the streets
We dreamed of her and compared our dreams
But that was all that I ever tasted
She lied to me with her body you see
And I lied to myself ’bout the chances I’d wasted
The times we were close were far and few between
In the darkness at the dances in the school canteen
Did she close her eyes like I did as we held each other tight
And la la la la la means I love you
She danced with me and I still hold that memory soft and sweet
And I stare up at her window as I walk down her street
But I never made the first team, I just made the first team laugh
And she never came to the phone, she was always in the bath
In the end it took me a dictionary
To find out the meaning of unrequited
While she was giving herself for free
At a party to which I was never invited
I never understood my failings then
And I hide my humble hopes now
Thinking back she made us want her
A girl not old enough to shave her legs
** This video ends before the song’s finished but it’s the best quality version I could find on YouTube. Just a taste….