Fifty

Today’s the 50th day in a row that I’ve blogged. Not that a lot of those posts actually said anything important. But it seems significant to form a thought and write it down. Real action. Sort of. Whether those thoughts develop into something more substantial is a different story, but looking back at the past 50 days, all those posts had potential to become more. It’s encouraging to see the potential in things.

I can’t decide whether the past 50 days passed slowly or quickly.

The next 50 days are summer days.

Should be interesting enough.

Ten minutes left in the day. Cutting it close.

Here’s another clarinet video. Still in the mood for cheesy love songs. I’m a real sucker for those.

Cemetery Time

We visited Nana again last night, June 1 being the second anniversary of her passing. In addition to the many bouquets of flowers left at her gravesite, we launched some balloons in her honor.

It’s a lovely idea, really: the releasing, the floating. The beauty of the symbolism.

And the evening was perfect: the coolness, the breeze, the perfect sky.

Reilly’s sister picked up the balloons. She chose colors that match Carla’s favorite rose from the front flowerbed. Reilly’s dad; his sister, her son; his two brothers, his sister-in-law; a close family friend; me, Z, and he. Each of us held two balloons.

Z counted us down, and then we let our balloons go. They drifted away together. Upward, joining the heavens, becoming sky.

From Instagram June 3, 2019

I wrote this two years ago:

Carla loves gardening and working on her yard. If you’ve seen her yard you know the love and great care she puts in the beauty she creates. I’m no gardener, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve been out in our yard, pulling weeds, planting flowers, meditating, crying: devoting that time to her. Yesterday morning I was pulling weeds, Z was running around in the yard, while Reilly was working on the obituary. It occurred to me that not only is this yard work–this beautifying a space–a good way to remember Carla, it’s a quiet way to feel a certain communion WITH her. It is sacred.

For the past couple of days we’ve been working hard trying to rebeautify our yard. I really love remembering Carla this way. It crossed my mind today while pulling weeds when we first found out she was sick, I wanted to ask her about all her gardening secrets. Which I didn’t do. And I didn’t think it was appropriate as her time here shortened.

I took some video footage of some of the greenery in our yard and put it to music. A modest tribute.

The Passing Evening

It’s 11:33 PM. I totally let the day get away from me.

I do not know what to make of the range of feelings about my baby heading to 2nd grade next school year. First grade was such a blur. Like, Kindergarten blurred into the summer, which blurred into 1st grade. And now another summer is already upon us. We like summer, but time is sure being funky with the pandemic and isolation and then people returning to society. It’s weird.

This evening I multitasked between watching Game 2 of the Jazz-Grizzlies series and piecing together a recording. Whenever I exported a revised version of the video from the editing software to the hard drive, I would peek out of the office into the tv room and check the score of the game. As I was editing, I could overhear Reilly and my brother talk about different players and the bad calls the officials were making. I mean, the Jazz won, which is what we want.

And I finished the video. Could have used a bit more cleaning up, but didn’t feel like it this time. Wanted to revisit my mid-teens again. Enjoy, and good night:

Monday Morning Movie

Sunday night someone decided not to sleep through the night, and she woke up at pretty inconvenient times. The first time was not long I’d fallen asleep for the night, maybe 11:30pm. I heard her crying and went to her room and lay next to her until she calmed down. Then I returned to my bed and fell asleep. Then around 3:45am she started complaining again. This time I went to her room and told her how important it was to sleep, because she had school in the morning. I curled up at the end of her bed with a blanket she wasn’t using. I slept, sort of. She didn’t fall back asleep. So at 6:30 I got up and we started our day.

Z wanted to watch a movie. She wouldn’t need to be ready until two hours later, so I listed off some choices. She asked for Disney Pixar’s Coco. This movie calms her, and she needed to be as calm as possible with the little sleep she got. I couldn’t say no.

While the movie played in the living room, I brought Z some breakfast and her water bottle. I looked at work emails and made sure nothing was too pressing. Toward the end of the movie, I brought down some school clothes, and she changed clothes. I also brushed her hair.

It came to the part where Miguel has come back from the Land of the Dead and finds Mamá Coco at home, looking very depressed and not responding when he describes seeing her Papá. His family come after him; he sees the guitar on the floor and starts to play for Mamá Coco, “Remember Me.” Coco slightly moves her finger, and after a moment she joins Miguel in singing.

That part always makes me cry. For all the reasons.

We finished getting ready for school. As far as I know, Z had a pretty good day. Last night we tucked her in. Then we watched some tv before bed. When we lay down and closed our eyes, we did not open our eyes until our alarms went off. Which means Z slept through the night, too. She felt the effects of not getting enough sleep the night before. Poor thing.

But I love when she chooses that movie. Every time she asks for Coco I’ll put it on.

Better

One the way back from dropping Z off at school, this song came on the radio:

Ah, 1990s. The song makes me feel good.

I woke up feeling better. Headache gone, but left nostril plugged.

Last night I did take a luxurious bath. We live in a desert, and I try to save water when I can, but sometimes I need a bath. Turned the water on as hot as I could stand, added some bubbles with epsom salt and lavender, let the water fill the tub to halfway, and I lay back and relaxed.

Maybe it was also the ’90s when I first heard about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. So much conflict and turmoil between those two countries. Populations. Cultures. It seemed so distant when the news reported about this when I was a teenager. For some reason now, my heart more strongly senses their suffering and yearns for their peace. The internet has a lot of resources for providing aid and support. Gotta be a better global citizen.

I recorded this today. Just wanted to include it.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Karim Dabbèche Animation to Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19, II. Scherzo: Vivacissimo, Performed by Hilary Hahn

I have included watching this video into my daughter’s morning routine:

We listen to the whole thing. Z may wander during this piece, but she makes sure she watches the part where the main character falls out of the subway train. It seems she also likes to watch them stand up after falling down. Which is pretty dang cool.

The other day I scrolled through comments to this video and came across this opinion.

To be honest, I knee-jerked when I first read this. Like, I was sort of offended? But I didn’t need to be. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to understand this person’s perspective. I get it: Hilary Hahn is mesmerizing to watch. But without really knowing this commenter, maybe I’ll try unpacking what they said here.

Disclaimer: This is not a defense of Hilary Hahn, as she does not need defending. This is a rebuttal of an opinion of a YouTube commenter. That is all.

I’m a fan of Hilary Hahn. Oh, me too! She’s so talented. She has great energy as a performer. A beautiful personality, and very gracious to her fans. I mean, here Commenter is setting up for the but of their comment. I can feel it.

I appreciate her sincerety [sic] and commitment to her music. I agree! She’s very sincere! She’s very committed to her music. Both are not always simultaneously present in famous musicians or public figures in general. The way she presents her 100 Days of Practice demonstrates both of these qualities in spades: she offers valuable music and life wisdom, and in the 100 days themselves she shows her dedication to her craft. Plus she provides videos of her practicing, so we get to see her every day during this time. This would be an easy thing to feel entitled to. Even as her adoring fans we are not entitled to see Hilary Hahn every day.

That said… “but…”

I would rather… Commenter is stating a preference, which they are absolutely entitled to. People like what they like. Just like I’m stating my preferences right here. Which happen to mostly disagree with Commenter.

I would rather watch her play the music than watch animations. Commenter seems to be dismissing the work of the animator here (as a preference, but still). Hilary Hahn has made an effort to work with Karim Dabbèche in his interpretation of this Prokofiev work. This is a collaboration of interpretations. A different expression of Hilary’s “sincerity and commitment to her music.” And why not promote other artists? Dabbèche is clearly talented, and this video is legitimately cool, and Hilary testifies that it captures the spirit and weirdness and charm of Paris. This work also overflows with real representation of diverse backgrounds and cultures, which is really what we need. It’s refreshing, frankly. That she has played an active part in bringing this video to reality says a lot about her generosity and breadth of creativity as a human being. And she wanted to share it with us. I’m so grateful she did.

I mean, right?

Done ranting now.

Supergroups I’m Currently Into

I’m With Her – bluegrass, Americana: Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins, Aoife O’Donovan. Because I’m a long time Nickel Creek fan, I happened to come across their individual projects. I’ve seen both Punch Brothers and I’m With Her live, and they are fantastic. The solo pursuits of these ladies here are remarkable, too.

The Highwomen – country, bluegrass, Americana: Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires

I saw Brandi Carlile in concert a month before the pandemic shut everything down. It was a transcendent experience. My mother-in-law was listening to a lot of her music in her last months, and listening to all of Brandi’s stories and songs during her concert sort of took me out of my body and reunited me with Carla. I don’t care how cheesy that sounds.

Our Native Daughters – Black Folk, Americana, bluegrass, sort of unclassifiable? these ladies kick ass at writing about the Black experience: Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell

I’ve been a fan of Rhiannon Giddens for a while, as well as Allison Russell in her other band, Birds of Chicago.

I need more of this.

If you haven’t already, check all these groups out.

Practicing Stravinsky Piece 1 in A

Clarinets have become somewhat of an obsession of mine during the pandemic. Last week I found a nice intermediate model of an A clarinet. According to wikipedia:

In modern times, the most common clarinet is the B♭ clarinet. However, the clarinet in A, pitched a semitone lower, is regularly used in orchestral, chamber and solo music. An orchestral clarinetist must own both a clarinet in A and B♭ since the repertoire is divided fairly evenly between the two.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarinet

I’ve noodled around a bit on the A, breaking it in slowly. The tone is really nice. In this photo, the A clarinet is on the left and the B♭ is on the right. You’ll see the A is a little bit bigger–longer body, wider bell. Because the brand is different, the pinky keys are situated a little differently, but the response is just as quick as the B♭.

Practicing Piece 1 of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces has been way fun. Since I’ve been practicing on the B♭ up to now, I’ve gotten used to hearing this work pitched in a particular way. As I’ve been practicing on the A, hearing the music a half-tone lower was a bit weird at first, but i’m getting used to it. I’ll post two different practice sessions here: First the B♭, and then the A. And as I mentioned on Instagram regarding these sessions: Similar tempos. Some different approaches/attacks of notes. Different areas needing smoother transitions between notes. And more dynamics. Still quite a bit of work to do.

Practice is good.