Archive for November, 2007

Friday Cat Toasting

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

…about the music

Hot Mud, for a hot flame.

Now, THIS is my kind of fire!
And Smudge’s, too.
Here is my sphinx, praying to the Great God of Benevolent Fire.

(yes, on the left, that’s a roll of carpet padding for the stairs and other items still waiting to be installed… the seemingly endless process of turning this house into a home continues… and every time I begin to whine, I remind myself how fortunate I am to have a place to call home.)

Up to the sky

Monday, November 26th, 2007

The driveway and what had been the front of the home I lived in for five years until 2002, and its garage, now a gaping abyss. I look at the firefighter with only a garden hose, and recall the hundreds of times I stood on that exact spot, watering my plants with that same hose.

…about the music


Two more photos to accompany my previous entry, because they are compelling and meaningful to me. And possibly to my many friends who walked across the threshold and down the three levels into this special house between 1997 and 2002. This is the kind of personal narcissism that leads so many blogs astray, and I promise to return us to our upright and locked, sunny, wildlife-filled position after tonight. But a highly unusual event like this one is worth a few more sentences, especially given the touching comments and emails I’ve received. Thank you all.

My heart goes out to the owners of the house. Above you see my former landlord standing dazed amidst the flattened, defeated rubble, in a photo that was the huge front page lead for this morning’s L.A. Times. And I feel terrible for the renter who had just moved in a mere two weeks ago and lost all of her belongings. That could have been me, and it was so many others this weekend. Close to 60 homes were destroyed in the firestorm and many, many badly damaged. The numbers represent an enormous percentage of a small neighborhood set among state parkland that was idyllic and will be again, with time and patience.

The weather is brisk here on San Juan Island, and our wood stove is a primary heat source. It’s an uncomfortable sensation to peer into these photos of fire ravaging my past and someone else’s present, and then rise from my chair to purposely stoke the neatly contained blaze in the living room.

Back to the earth, up to the sky, and onward to the future.

Back to the earth

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Throughout my life so far, I’ve probably changed addresses slightly less than many adults. For 18 years I lived in the same very tall building in Manhattan, followed by three more in another shorter one across town. At 21 when I headed to the Great West to seek my joy, I didn’t know that I would spend the next 24 years in Los Angeles and its environs. Fully 20 of those were split between just three addresses: 10 years in the same place in Van Nuys, and the next 14 in Malibu. After renting a couple of places there short term, I lived in two that were very significant and dear to me, for 5 years each.

One of those very significant places, pictured above from my time there, burned to the ground today in Malibu’s terrible Corral Canyon fire.

The oddly shaped stucco and tile architecture clung to a steep, oak and eucalyptus laden hillside. With no immediate neighbors it offered me tremendous peace, and abutted one of the best hiking trails in the area. But what became most special about this place to me was that it represented enormously key personal and professional turning points in my life, each of which altered its direction for the better. The amount of drama I experienced at this address– very good and starkly otherwise– is indelible many years later. So indelible, in fact, that when I came across this sad photo on the L.A. Times website of my beloved former residence melting into the earth, I was flooded with details and memories of every room and all twenty seasons of my life that they sheltered.

I have written in these blog pages before about impermanence, and it is a constant truth. But despite my own imminent melting back to the earth someday, as long as I’m here and of sound mind, my memories remain. They are all that I truly possess.

…about the music

Elegy for five years of memories.

Happy bird day

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

…about the music

I’m thankful.

You were expecting a turkey?
Meet Petey, one of the Pileated woodpeckers who comes ’round to bang away on our trees.

We do have wild turkeys on the island, but since none has waddled onto my property yet, you get served woodpecker instead. Well, virtually. I’m a vegetarian, and I doubt this guy tastes that good anyway. A happy holiday to all my e-friends!


Friday, November 16th, 2007

…about the music

Two sounds weigh in against each other.

Balance is often a good thing. English is a weird language because while it’s easy to get off balance, one never gets on it.
But I try.

This week I continued honing my circus skills and juggled several things at once: ongoing bang bang buzz whack bang whrrrrr smack house remodeling bang oops slam ahhh, ongoing note remodeling in the form of a concert wind band piece I’m in the flurry of composing, and ongoing thought remodeling in the form of a new essay, which was published in the webzine NewMusicBox on Wednesday.

I will admit that the presence of the bang bang whack bang whrrrrr was not especially conducive to the powers of concentration needed for the other two tasks occurring a few feet away, but having no choice I learned to stop my internal whining (which at times may have been louder than the table saw) and do my best to tune it all out. As it happens, the tune in my head is not in the same key as either the table saw or the air compressor, making this an even more, uh… interesting, exercise.

More often than not, the day’s interruptions, both home and business related, necessitate working during the only pocket of blessed peace and quiet: from after dinner until 5 or 6am. These have been my normal working hours for many years. Except that in the past, I’d sleep until about 11, sometimes noon, and after 5 or 6 deep, zzzzz-filled hours I’d be refreshed and ready to start all over again. But with workmen showing up at 8:30am, well now, it throws a vampire’s body clock waaaaay off… balance.

And so the cycle begins anew: bang bang, work work, try try, finally finally, no sleep, no sleep, good morning Bob/Michael/Howard/Jessie/whoever you are in myblurryeyes, would you like a cup of coffee??

Ah, the weekend has arrived! For two days, coffee will wait until…. noon!

Logging in

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

…about the music

Wind music.

From time to time the Pacific Northwest is hit with major wind storms, and we just had a good one. The 61 MPH winds that hit Friday Harbor are nothing compared to the 92 MPH ones that visited Seattle. Power is still out in some places, inviting those without generators to step back from their computers and enjoy the nearly forgotten rituals of reading and conversation. And many other activities that don’t require power. Use your imagination. That doesn’t need electricity, either.

It was a dramatic night. Despite the chill and roar of the dry gales, we slept, as always, with the window open a few inches, taking in as much of the charged air as our lungs could hold. Small tree limbs were tossed against our roof and unrecognizable sounds implying varying degrees of chaos filtered through our dream states. As the almost rainless storm died down the next day, Charles and I assessed the results to our property (not bad, all things considered), and then couldn’t resist maneuvering our truck around fallen trees and debris to get to the most weather beaten part of the island, the west side. Once there, we basked in the sight of the unusually large waves between us and Vancouver Island.

The beach around American Camp on the southwest end of San Juan Island is, like most shorelines here, draped in miles of forgotten timber and driftwood. This visit was an object lesson in just how all those pieces got there. There’s nothing like watching a 30-foot long log haplessly surf the waves and then be deposited hard on the sand like an abandoned kayak. One by one, these castaways keep the outer edge of paradise in a state of constant change, and me in a constant state of awe.

Friday Yin Yang

Friday, November 9th, 2007

…about the music

An intermezzzzzzo for this intermezzzzzzo.

No, I did not put them in this pose (anyone who is owned by cats knows how impossible such a task would be). In fact, as my essay readers know if they’ve scrolled down that menu page, my boys Moses and Smudge are quite fond of this position and can often be found as they were last night, happily entwined in one of their two heated cat beds.

That this occurs regularly never dampens my enthusiasm to snap more photos; it’s too darn cute and I just can’t help myself. I’m hopeless, I know.

Where’s Santa?

Monday, November 5th, 2007

…about the music

Horn music.

Maybe I haven’t lived in the woods long enough, but this is the first time I’ve seen a four point buck decide to sit down and lounge on my lawn in the middle of the afternoon. Looking like Rudolph waiting for St. Nick to come back from running a few pre-holiday errands, this fellow had been idly grazing on the grass just outside my studio door. And then, with about as much grace as a sack of potatoes discovering gravity, several hundred pounds of him chose the little knoll as a nice resting spot, in earshot of all the wrong notes I was trying to turn into right ones.

It was lovely having his company, and for half an hour there he lay, content to watch the birds flit on the feeders and the autumn sun shift lower against the sky. My notes discovered their own gravity as well, landing firmly on the staves and clinging to the expectations that the promise of holidays, wintertime and yet another finished piece always offer.