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Thursday, August 21, 2014

A temporary stranger to that other me

Thursday may be a pretender most of the time, but not today; not for me. Thursday is my summer weeks' Friday. It is also the "Friday" before a couple of weeks off, so bonus points for added goodness.

It's not so much the time away as the time unplugged I am looking forward to. In our hyper-connected world the severing of connectedness for short periods of time are important. Silly is the soul who does not take advantage of those opportunities when they can.

The days in the run up to time off are extra busy. To be truly away for 16 consecutive week days requires a bit of preparation. Lots of loose ends to tie up (or at least secure sufficiently to hold for a couple of weeks), greater meeting density (I refer only to quantity, not quality) this week, some longer days.

Then, late this afternoon, I will engage my email account's away message to auto respond to all incoming email, and then disable my work email account on my iPhone and iPad so they are not even tempted to download work-related messages.

There is a work "me" and a not-work "me." They aren't worlds apart from each other, but they do require the application of different skills and both have slightly different natural stances. What requires effort in one often doesn't in have other, and vice-versa. I intend to shed the work "me" and reacquaint myself more fully with the not-work "me." If I am successful I shall become, temporarily, a stranger to that other workish me.

It isn’t me, he’d say,
stepping out of a landscape
that offered, he’d thought, the backdrop
to a plausible existence
until he entered it; it’s just not me,
he’d murmur, walking away.
It’s not quite me, he’d explain,
apologetic but firm,
leaving some job they’d found him.
They found him others: he’d go,
smiling his smile, putting
his best foot forward, till again
he’d find himself reluctantly concluding
that this, too, wasn’t him.
    - James Lasdun, from It Isn't Me


Today's playlist:

  • Yim Yames: Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp ( Let It Roll)
  • Engelbert Humperdinck: The Last Waltz
  • Augustana: I'll Stay
  • Charlie Haden: Nocturn
  • The Eagles: Desperado

Monday, August 18, 2014

Listening to the chocolate box

It's early Monday morning and the sun's reaching beams already stripe the world into dark and bright. By the time I reach campus the light is more evenly distributed.

The music this morning bounced around genres with with complete disregard for continuity. Which is, I suppose, a form of continuity in the much same way a variety box of chocolates creates a cohesive package out of difference. It's the intent that creates the expectation which, in turn, makes the packaging work.

From the driven rhythms of The Bad Plus to a bright bit of fun from Pink Martini. Bitty Boppy Betty (take a listen on this Pink Martini site) is irrepressible in all the right ways, with a melody that sticks in the head and a storyline that makes you smile:

Bitty, boppy Betty
Better known as Billy
He's the up'n'coming local D.A.
A fearless crime fighter
Political insider
Sure to be mayor one day

But after work on Fridays
Off comes his necktie
And on come her diamonds and pearls
You better get ready
'Cause now Billy's Betty
Everybody's favorite girl

What could possibly follow that in a musical chocolate box? A bite of Madeleine Payroux, that's what.  She slows the tempo right down but keeps that easy light swing. A dark salted caramel, I think. 

When Cake follows, though, you really know you're really dealing with a variety pack.

Neils Lan Doky's album Friends is a fantastic bit of Jazz camaraderie. He's joined by John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans (the saxophone player, not the pianist), Neil-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Rick Margitza, Alex Riel, Ulf Wakenius, and others. If you know jazz from the early 90's you will recognize most, if not all, of those names. 

I shut the car off with the tell-tale chocolate wrappings still littered around in my head. Oh look, I ate the whole box! No guilt here, though.

Today's playlist:

  • The Bad Plus: 1979 Semi-Finalist
  • Pink Martini: Bitty Boppy Betty
  • Madeleine Payroux: J'ai Deux Amours
  • Cake: She'll Come Back To Me
  • Neils Lan Doky: The Real McCoy

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The well-sung sun

Summer, Saturday, sitting and watching the sun rise. More accurately, watching the rising sun's extending reach, behind me and reaching over me, illuminate the valley in front of me. Like John Denver, I can feel the sunshine on my shoulders, but not in my eyes: "Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, sunshine in my eyes can make me cry."

And with that thought my mind is racing over all the songs of sunshine that quickly come to mind. The obvious choices first:

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
   - George Harrison

And

Sun's up, uh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me

   - Bruce Cockburn

And

Sun is shinin' in the sky
There ain't a cloud in sight
It's stopped rainin', everybody's in the play
And don't you know, it's a beautiful new day, hey

Runnin' down the Avenue
See how the sun shines brightly
In the city on the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue Sky is living here today, hey

   - Jeff Lynne 

And

When the sun falls
The bird of paradise
Spreads his wings wide

When the rain shines
The earth sighs gratitude
And spreads her hues bright

You come to me
Bringing the sun and rain
Bringing my song

   - Bruce Cockburn

And

Rising like lightspill from this sleeping town
Like the light in a lover's eyes
Rising from the hearts of the sleepers all around
All those dreamers trying to light the sky
Burning -- at the gates of dawn
Singing -- near and far
Singing -- to raise the morning star
   - Bruce Cockburn

And then to the less obvious, less direct:

All over Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales
I can hear the mothers' voices calling
"Children, children, come home children"

"Children, come home on the Celtic Ray"
In the early morning, we'll go walking
Where the light comes shining through
On the Celtic Ray

   - Van Morrison

And

Squeaky swings and tall grass
The longest shadows ever cast
The water's warm and children swim
And we frolicked about in our summer skin
    - Death Cab For Cutie

And

Get a load of the light in the trees
And the sweet decay on the maritime breeze
The sun's hitching on a weather balloon
And the heat off the tarmac
Burning a hole in a gold afternoon
   - Fountains of Wayne

And, because I like it best of all:

All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea

   - Bruce Cockburn

The full soundtrack in my head this morning:

  • George Harrison: Here Comes The Sun
  • Bruce Cockburn: Wondering Where The Lions Are
  • Jeff Lynne: Mr. Blue Sky
  • Bruce Cockburn: When The Sun Falls
  • Bruce Cockburn: To Raise The Morning Star
  • Van Morrison: Celtic Ray
  • Death Cab For Cutie: Summer Skin
  • Fountains Of Wayne: A Dip In The Ocean
  • Bruce Cockburn: All The Diamonds

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Making scents of the journey

Another beautiful day in our passing window of paradise.  It is already mid-60’s on its way to mid-80’s (17-ish on its way to 28-ish). 


Driving west with the sun at my back, and at this hour of the morning, the sun dazzles the conifer tree branches in front of me, setting them glowing vivid green. It looks as if the photosynthesis taking place in each long needle glows through like fire from an ember. Flowers caught in this radiant wave of light beams have thier colors saturated and intensified. Drivers coming the opposite direction are also dazzled, many with hands up shielding their eyes from the sun's direct blast, which has erased most of the details and navigational landmarks in their path.

But pulling back for a moment: when I first back out of the garage and rolled back the canvas roof of the car the cabin instantly fills with the cloyingly sweet scent of the lilies in our front yard. I can't say I'm a fan; after a few minutes in the presence of a lily I just want to get away from their too-intense sweetness. 

Some mornings are memorable for the sounds I hear on my short commute, mostly birds. This morning was memorable for the scents.

A couple of blocks into my commute and the unmistakable, tangy, earthy smell of freshly spread peat thankfully overpowers any lingering lily.  I slip in behind an older truck and spent the next mile or so soaked in exhaust from an engine running rich and cigaret smoke wafting back into his slipstream.

At the next four-way stop he turns right so I go straight forward (my route affords many different side street paths to the same overall direction). I have only gone a short distance when the smell of cooking floats past.  It smells like a hearty fried breakfast hanging heavy in the air, though for all I know it may just be the left-over smell of a dinner cooked on an outdoor grill.

I pull onto the campus and take the service road past the golf course, athletic field, and greenhouses on my way to North Campus.  The smell of recently cut fairway grass mingles with the cherry tones of the deodorant cakes in the portable toilet there along that edge of the golf course.

Early morning sharpens scents just like it concentrates quiet, scents which quickly fade as the day warms up.

Don't want to be on no rooftop
Frying in the afternoon sun
Don't want to sit by no fountain
Listening to the man-made stream run
Just want to stand where the sea-spray
Gleams like fire with you
And I don't have to tell you why

    - Don't Have To Tell You Why, Bruce Cockburn


Today's full playlist:

  • Charlie Hunter Quintet: Whoop-Ass
  • The Kyle Asche Organ Trio: For Mike
  • Bruce Cockburn: Don't Have To Tell You Why
  • Fionn Regan: Noah (Ghost in a Sheet)
  • Rocco DeLuca & The Burden: Junky Valentine

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's not 85 Degrees here, but I hear it all the same

Thursday, my Friday this week, and it's still raining.  The forecast calls for clearing late tonight, though, and then promises at least one unbroken week of sun globes.  So it's all good for the garden and good for the id.

I'm half way into work, busy mulling over something I'd rather not be, when it dawns on me that there's no music playing.  Probably because the car's head unit (the radio-thingie in the middle of the dash) was turned off.  I turn it on, it seeks out and finds the iPhone, and my random music shuffle is off and playing.

Christine Lavin wraps things up as I pull into the campus parking lot and back into a stall. I first heard her singing her tune Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind from the (then) just-released album of the same name. That was in 1988 when I was still a banker in Ballard. The tune was catchy, the lyrics were funny, and her voice and guitar playing was unique. So I bought the album.  Well, cassette tape, actually.  It was 1988, after all. The songs on it range from today's pensive Miami Beach walk (85 Degrees) with it's bridge of:

Oh what a perfect setting
What a perfect sky
Oh a perfectly awful looking drifter
Is trying to catch my eye

To a duet of Downtown (yes, that one) with Livingston Taylor (yes, he sounds very much like his brother James), and on to a song that looks at a homeless woman and choruses, "She once was somebody's baby, someone bunced her on his knee..."

Good music and definitely worth checking out if you're not already familiar with Lavin.


Today's full playlist:

  • Eagles: Love Will keep Us Alive
  • Van Morrison: Retreat and View
  • Belle And Sebastian: Sukie in the Graveyard
  • Christine Lavin: 85 Degrees

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The good rain sways so gently

This is the good rain (with apologies to Timothy Egan), the one that stores itself up, teases for a day or two, almost comes then doesn't, then finally breaks loose like a pent up failure of admirable self control. This is a real rain, not spitting, misting, sprinkling, drizzling, or fitting any of the many other nuanced words we use to describe the various shades of rain we see here in the Pacific Northwest.

Most of us are relieved by it, and many of us will freely admit it.  Yes, we grumble when we go through long unbroken weeks of nothing but rain, and we certainly know how to take advantage of sunny days while they're here. Yet after a string of not-rainy days we also ease back into a rainy day as if it was a soft overstuffed chair at the end of a hard day.

First song out of the gate this morning:

Hottest summer in a hundred years
But summer didn't bother
Getting up this morning

I know that's taking the lyric it of context, but it did sort of fit the drive in through the heavy rains.  How about the second song up:

Money's just something you throw
Off the back of a train
Got a handful of lightening
A hat full of rain

Still a stretch.  No, I think the best lyric from today that can be aptly applied to this good rain and the feeling it evokes (even though these words have a totally different application in the song!) come from The Girl From Impanema:

When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gently
That when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Aaah…”

Aaah, indeed, this good rain.

Today's full playlist:

  • Travis: The Fear
  • Norah Jones: The Long Way Home
  • The Byrds: Mr. Tambourine Man
  • Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto: The Girl From Impanema
  • Pearl Django: Lady Be Good
  • Glen Campbell: Galveston

Thursday, July 17, 2014

All the songs I haven't heard

What a difference 24 hours can make. This morning it's only 59° (15° C) with low fog-like cloud cover and just enough wind to keep the trees jostling their limbs like the impatient foot tapping of people waiting at a crowded DMV office. Yesterday forecast a high in the upper 80’s for today, now the forecast calls for a high of 77° (25°C). Top down again this morning, but only because I'm like the dog who just wants his nose in the breeze when the car is in motion.

One of the tasks this blog serves is to capture the random playlists shuffled up from my music collection.  While that collection is a wide-ranging jumble of genres gathered over many years of musical fascination even these random shuffles of tunes bring only music I already know. So it's good to find ways to continue discovering new musicians and music.

That importance was reinforced to me just last night as Melissa and I pulled up Iris Dement's When My Morning Comes Around just to listen to it again after one of us referenced it in a conversation we were having. I have to thank our local independent public radio station (KSER 90.7 FM) for this "discovery" a number of years ago. Having been raised on a steady diet of Country & Western music growing up I confess that there isn't a lot of it in my own music collection, that particular itch having been well scratched before I reached adulthood. Had KSER not included her tune The Way I Should in their eclectic music stream that morning I probably would never have come across her.

Album Cover, Amazon.com
The first time I heard her voice, both simultaneously powerful and fragile, and the beautiful lyrics she weaves into her very compelling melodies I knew I had to hear more.  When My Morning Comes Around remains one of my favorite tunes by her or any other artist.  Garrison Keillor is quoted as saying of it, "I heard this sung at a memorial service and even people who didn't intend to cry, cried when they heard it."

The song starts out:

When my mornin' comes around, no one else will be there
so I won't have to worry about what I'm supposed to say
and I alone will know that I climbed that great big mountain 
andthat's all that will matter when my mornin' comes around 

When my mornin' comes around, I will look back on this valley
at these sidewalks and alleys where I lingered for so long
and this place where I now live will burn to ash and cinder
like some ghost I won't remember
When my mornin' comes around

You can listen to a solo acoustic live performance of the song here, but do try and listen to the recorded version (the album at iTunes: The Way I Should) because the additional instrumentation is very, very beautiful.

When I hear this song and think I might never have heard it had I not allowed myself to wander outside my normal listening experience I wonder what else I am missing.  All those songs I have never heard, all those musicians and lyric poets undiscovered (by me).  There is clearly much still to look forward to finding.

Today's Playlist:

 - Ron Adfif Trio: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
 - Perla Batalla: Famous Blue Raincoat
 - Sigur Rós: Samskeyti (Live)
 - Cake: Where Would I Be
 - Tingstad & Rumbel: Empire Builder
 - Fountains of Wayne: Killermont Street
 - Nils Krogh: All I Want

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Up the straw

Midweek, hump day, Mr. Maliable, Wednesday. The glass is half full and the glass is half empty, so pick your outlook as you please. I know this much for certain, though: the sun is up and glorious already this early morning, on its way to another toasty mid-eighties (29-ish C) day. Top rolled full back on the Fiat and the music down low so as not to cover up the morning birdsong. Birdsong is defined as, "The musical vocalizations of a bird or birds, typically uttered by a male songbird in characteristic bursts or phrases for territorial purposes." Such competative beauty, then, the pleasant sound of little (to us, perhaps) wars.


Bruce Cockburn popped up on the playlist today (not unheard of when you have almost all of his 35 albums in your collection) with Tibetan Side of Town.  Documenting a motorbike ride into a Tibetan town to go drinking with his hosts, it conjures up that place and time in beautiful detail. For example:

Big red Enfield Bullet lurches to a halt in the dust
Last blast of engine leaves a ringing in the ears
That fades into the rustle of bare feet and slapping sandals
And the baritone moan of long bronze trumpets
Muffled by monastery walls.

Prayer flags crack like whips in the breeze
Sending to the world - tonight the message blows east
Dark door opens to warm yellow room and there
Are these steaming jugs of hot millet beer
and I'm sucked into the scene like this liquor up 
This bamboo straw

That last bit is a poetic way to think about the inexorable flow of life and circumstance, to be "sucked into the scene," whatever that scene might be, like liquid up a straw.  Of course, we don't always get to control the scenes we pass through in life, but each consumes us, draws us in. Ready or not, here we come! 

I'm reminded of another lyric quote by Cockburn: If I loose my grip, will I take flight? Well then, let's see what destinations Wednesday has up its straw today.


Today's full playlist:

 - Dave Grusin: Pistolero (Milagro Beanfield War Soundtrack)

 - Matthew Perryman Jones: Beneath the Silver Moon

 - Brad Mehldau Trio: Dreamsville

 - John Denver/Placido Domingo: Perhapse Love

 - Bruce Cockburn: Tibetan Side of Town (Live)

 - P.T. Walkley: Audrey Macy

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Version 4.0, which is more like version 2.0

Subtitle:  In which I talk to myself about this blog.

It's been just shy of five months since I last wrote and posted here, and it's time to reset things and start up again. But why the five month hiatus in the first place, I hear nobody asking. Actually, I do hear myself asking that question of myself.

My last post, from February of this year, gives one reason.  Life was as overflowing as my inbox.  I had slipped into a pattern of dog paddling, nose just above the waterline, through each day's needs and activities. One of my nose-out-of-water strategies was to come in to the office even earlier to get a head start on whatever had piled up in my inbox over night, or to use the relative morning quiet to actually get something done. There was no early morning quiet to use for writing, or rather, I was no longer carving that quiet time out for myself.

But that was only part of it. Partly, I have to admit it was because I was tired of what had become a near-daily obligation and felt that the blog had somewhat lost its way.

The first phase of this blog was way back in the early days of blogging and it was purely a chance to play with the tools and possible uses. The second phase started back in 2010 as a challenge to myself to blog every weekday morning, just for the sake of writing.  A short post-commute writing exercise in which I would, at a minimum, record the tunes that played during those brief six miles and occasionally link to lyrics or poetry that fit the mood of the morning.  Once in a while a topical post would happen when I was thinking about bigger issues. At most, reflection.


(Photo: a reflection, and a bad pun)

The third (unintended) phase was when I started taking the blog a tad too earnestly. The poetry was taking over (not that poetry is a bad thing!) as were the topical posts. At that point, it became a chore to find something to write each day that had enough meat to it to be "worthy" of posting.  I had allowed my simple daily writing exercise to morph into something that felt more like a published column, complete with deadline. At that point, between more pressing demands on my morning time (or misplaced priorities) and the increasingly obligatory feel to maintaining the blog I let it slide altogether. That was both a relief and a nagging loss.

So, version 4.0. I'm going back to the roots of version 2.0.  A near-daily post-commute record of what I listened to on my way in to work and whatever that stirs.  An occasional foray into the topical forest if the fancy strikes me, but only if. Writing, as before, only to an audience of one.

I have also wrangled my inbox and all it begets back under control, mostly. That creates the necessary space for this totally unnecessary exercise.

Today's commute playlist:

  • Nothing. Just my thoughts and the sounds of birds and early morning activity on this beautiful top-down morning.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A call for the Great Email Purge Day

Thursday, overcast but not quite dripping and still dark enough to warrant headlights this early morning. While Thursday is usually pretending to be Friday ("The weekend is almost here!"), on holiday-shortened weeks he feels more like Wedneday. Surely we cannot be so close to the end of the week already?


I'm hustling into the office again, specifically to tackle email before the formally-scheduled day kicks off. Why am I doing this? - a question I ask myself frequently.  Not why am I doing my job, per se. I love the job.  But why is more and more of my time required just to manage a neverending flow of email? I know I am not alone. The time stamp on many of the messages in my inbox tell me folks are facing this same challenge at all hours of the day and night.


The last couple of weeks have been exceptionally bad for email overload.  A few days ago I spent a two-hour block of time doing nothing by dealing with things that had to be dealt with in my email inbox.  At the end of the two hours as many new messages had arrived as the number of existing messages I had dealt with. I was no further ahead than when I started.  My short six-mile drive home each evening typically sees 25 to 35 new email message arrive during those 15 or so minutes.  When water is flowing into a vessel faster than water is draining, you have a problem.


Sure, some percentage of this email torrent can be quickly handled in a state of constant triage. Maybe 25-30% can be filed or glanced-at-and-filed with no further action required.  But most of the email I receive requires I do something else in responses. That can range from composing a thoughtful message in response, setting up another meeting to sort through whatever the issue is, creating an action-item for myself, or delegating something to someone else (which often means distilling something specific from the text of a vague or rambling email).


But here is my question ("I'm really not whining - I'm problem-solving!," he said with a wink.): why are we burying ourselves in email every day?  Because we are doing this to ourselves, to each other.  For every email I receive that requires some action on my part at least one more email will be generated in response, sometimes more than one. This effect multiplied over time can become, quite literally, exponential. Stop and think about it for a minute: if every email you send to someone will generate one or more additional emails being sent by the recipient to someone else (usually including you), shouldn't we handle this time-slicing sword with more care?


It is a 24-hour phenomenon, pretty much every day of the year.  For me, the real flood begins shortly after mid-day and gushes well into the evening.  The world is not, apparently, full of morning people.  That lack of schedule alignment between correspondents would seem to the be perfect justification for an asychronous tool like email, but it often only contributes to the number of messages spawned in those non-overlapping morning and evening hours. Which, in turn, means more of those morning and evening hours have to be spend reading and responding to email. For all the good we're doing we might just as well address every email to everyone in the organization. I mean, I regularly see colleagues with email inboxes indicating hundreds and even thousands of messages waiting to be dealt with!


It reminds me of the smugly wise and silent people of the planet Kakrafoon (from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy) who were sentenced by a Galaxtic Court to having the curse of telepathy imposed on them. Their every thought was then immediately broadcast telepathically to everyone else, while they "heard" everyone elses's every thought, with no checks or filters. This, in turn, drove them to talk non-stop about any unimportant thing they could come up with to keep from broadcasting their thoughts and/or hearing others'. Suddenly the quietest planet in the galaxy became the loudest. Douglas Adams tells the story more colorfully, but you get the gist.


The tool is clearly overrunning the master. Which suggests there is some underlying need that is not being effectively met and for which email is becoming an increasingly desperate compensation. So what do we do to break this chain reaction of sent email?  After all, organizations ran effectively before the ubiquity of email.  [And please don't suggest the phone, or at least not voicemail. Voicemail has to be the least efficient form of communication we have yet invented. The phone is for real-time conversation, not asynchronous message bombing.]


Some people treat email as if it were a real-time communication tool, expecting a response to come back quickly, and certainly within 12-24 hours.  That way leads to frustration and certainly contributes to the overall problem.


Email also creates greater access to individuals than would otherwise exist.  Anyone, for example, can email the President or CEO of an organization and demand a slice of their time by virtue of landing in their inbox.  I see this dynamic a lot when a decision gets made that some folks disagree with. It becomes their individual right to demand change personally and directly. Usually via a long and increasingly angry/passionate email message crafted to make the decision sound like an attack on all that is right and good about civilization.  Which means that a number of individuals, individually, require some sort of response (more email!) and the time it takes to fit that into the workday schedule.  But is it really the best use of said CEO's time to answer every individual's question directly? Is that even realistically possible? Shouldn't most questions be resolved elsewhere? 


However, ignoring email is also not much of an option.  An ignored message is only going to be resent, usually with more text appended, and in some circumstances roping in others via cc or bcc to raise the urgency of the message. Sometimes (shudder) it leads to an email unnecessarily addressed to everyone in the organization.


Similarly, there are the "just keeping you in the loop" email threads with the cc's and bcc's.  Suddenly your inbox is riding along on a multi-day string of messages from and to a number of folks as they try to asynchronously resolve some issue that could probably be handled in a few minutes of direct discussion between 2 or 3 people.


I don't have the answer to this problem. I know it lies is some underlying unmet need (or needs), and the unrealistic expectation that we should always have immediate and direct access to everyone else; that we have the right to expect their time and attention to anything and everything.  But that doesn't get me any closer to any ideas for bringing this beast under control.


Wouldn't it be nice, though, if we were to select one day each year (let's call it Purge Day) on which everyone would do a "select-all" and "delete/archive" on their inbox, understanding everyone else was going to do the same.  Then, we all start fresh and (hopefully) with greater restraint to send only those messages for which email is the best venue.


Or we can continue to stay up into the late night or come in extra early every day just to work through some portion of our inbox of unread email. 


Today's full playlist:

 - BMW Band:  Morning of the New Day

 - The Traveling Wilburys: Inside Out

 - Train: Calling All Angels

 - Steve Parks: Still Thinking of You

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pausing the buzzing energy of potential and to-do

Saturday, sweet Saturday. The buzzing energy of potential and to-do. All in what order, and can I fit it into this one-day window of motivation? Up early, the Canarias yerba mate in my glass & leather gourd already exchanging hot water for smokey-sharp tea, and suddenly the to-do list slows down to a pause. 

Look through my eyes up
At blue with not anything
We could have ever arranged
Slowly taking place.
 - From Enter A Cloud by W. S. Graham

Sort of like that but with a bit more grey than blue when I look languidly out my window. Early Saturday morning, when it sits down to breath slowly like this, is a moment looking forward, inward, and backward. The pent up energy (stored, potential energy) is still there, wound up and ready to spring out into a spate of productivity.  The moment, though is quiet and in the moment the mind moves more than muscle (entropy?). And the quiet begets the past (if that's not a linear oxymoron).  The possibilities are bidirectional, if not endless.

The intriguing comfort of an imagined past
is entered through objects
the same way we continue the present
but without nostalgia
Parents so long for happiness they say
one life is not enough
and live through their children
But children also live backwards through past candles
crank telephones   carriages
the ascendant animals that lived not in imagination
but in Kansas and before
there was an Oklahoma with its spotted sun

 - Allan Peterson, from The Appeal of Antiques

Mostly, though, we move forward; the potential energy cannot be long surpressed.  The mate eventually becomes lavado, the caffeine kicks in, and the buzzing energy of potential and to-do returns.

No commute on a Saturday morning, so no commute soundtrack.

- Posted via Hermes


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Waiting...

Tuesday, and a damp not-so-dark drive in this morning. We're in the doldrums of a Pacific Northwest winter. Little dripping cloud icons as far as the weather app reaches into the future.

Maybe it was just that we were coming off several days of unusually cold weather, but yesterday actually felt warm by late afternoon. Just warm enough to stir a longing for spring. It's not all that far off now, is it?

The iPhone music app was also in anticipation mode. Specifically, it was focused on waiting. It should have been in random shuffle for today's commute, but it clearly got hung up on its strangely self-imposed theme. Five tunes, each by different musicians, each song's title beginning with the word "Waiting."