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Posts Tagged ‘Sacred Harp’

sad

It made me sad.

Finding an old name and then the face to go with it.

The couple, married before me, before any of us, straight after college.

You think a couple is a good couple because of so many things, their combined physicality for instance. Their interests. They way they make each other laugh.

They were both tall and thin. I mean, really tall and really thin. Both hipsters, not artists themselves, on the periphery, but always the right choice in music and film and clothing.

Without looking for either of them, I found them both on Facebook.

So many people are still there, in Cleveland, the art scene still alive. If I had stayed in Kent, would I have begun to venture back to the east side? Would my poetry have cropped up again? Would my daughter have wanted to go to art school and really have accepted the acceptance at CIA?

I would not have found Sacred Harp singing, that’s for sure.

*

They were at my wedding with a new baby. How little I knew of babies then, but thought I did. Thought I knew so much.

(for the first time, I’ve figured out how to put a video directly from my Photo Booth to my blog without making it public on youtube. how could this have flummoxed me so in the past? does this date mean it’s from October or November? dang dates)

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Every March in Northampton, Massachusetts is the Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention (this link is always available over in the right column of my blog, under “Music”).

You are warmly invited to the 2013 Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Singing Convention. We look forward to welcoming singers from near and far, reuniting with old friends, and making new ones.
March 9th and 10th
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
(Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday)
Dinner on the grounds at noon
Saturday evening social nearby

I missed last year’s Convention. I don’t usually make it for the whole weekend anyway, but this year I will be present for a couple of hours on Saturday morning. Come see me at the Welcome Table. I’ll draw a design on your name sticker if you want (and if I have time in all the hustle and bustle)!

After that, I’ll come home and probably schlep my kids around. Then, I will go to an Alexander Technique refresher course at my school. Saturday night, I will be seeing some funny at The Arts Block in Greenfield. Hubby has written some sketch comedy (though he and I are not in the performances that night) and the fabulous Ha-Ha’s will be performing as well.

Sunday afternoon at The Academy of Music, I will be attending Screen Test 2—a fundraiser for The Amherst Cinema.

You can go to youtube and look for videos of our Convention and yes, I could simply share one of those with you now. Instead, here I am again, singing my heart out. Because I love you.

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There was a time when I did not know what the word apocalypse meant. Then, in my late teens, I suppose I felt embarrassed or ashamed. I am older now and I realize that I will always be learning new words if I am lucky. The older I get, the less well I seem able to retain them. But guess what, my turtle doves? My memory is improving of late.

I thought that all of my friends who grew up with church or religion, who went to Sunday School and who had Confirmations, the Catholics, almost the whole lot of them (this was Ohio, after all, chock full of Catholics), all knew all of the stories and words from the Bible, New and Old Testament. I realized at some point that I knew more than they. It was all a sham. They did not know how to spell apocalypse, nor its etymology. They didn’t know what Jesus said, what the Jews said. They did not know any of it. I still wonder what people do in Sunday School if not learn these stories. I do not know what real testament is for anyone and I think most people don’t know this for themselves.

Each time I become anemic, the wear and tear on my face is more dramatic. This time I look older. Though I approach 50, I have some mistaken notion that my youthful body will last. The flesh of my face will stay. The frown lines, which aren’t so much from frowning as exhaustion, grow more pronounced. I used to push up on the apples of my cheeks with the thumb and middle fingers of one of my hands when I was driving in the car (safer than texting!), but now I’ve forgotten to try.

I wrote a bit of something just now, some words gathered around from tonight and before. There are problems, so many problems. I usually refrain from saying what they are, but now, I will tell.

There is the title which is pretentious, but which I like anyway. I like the Dutch vanitas paintings and I like the Latin.

There is always the overdoing, the more than I need. But that is what blogging poems is for. To pare down later.

There is the mixing of metaphors or images. There is the land and earth and there is the sea. But I love them both and I am not confused, only enthusiastic.

There is this which harkens to another poem, one which remains incomplete in my computer. The barn and the harvest, the emptiness and me.

There are the too many and the mixing images, again, of the body and death. This is what yoga is for and this is how the poem takes shape.

And there is stealing. Or snatching. Sneaking the words that came before, sometimes knowing whose, sometimes only vaguely.

Here you go. Here are the words.

Memento Mori

After I am vaporized
the imprint of my body will remain
flattened on the wooden slats
the barn
barley-filled

swing  open  the  gate
swing  open  the  gate

After the apocalypse, the burning off
I am drained of blood
my skin deflated
my bones a fine powder

My skin sinks
but finally

I  remember
I  remember

It boils down
to this

Goldenrod, my ovaries
the shining
harvest
in the hollow
of my groin

I  remember

the coiled snake
the quaking stalk
the base of my spine

Plough  the  ocean  blue
Plough  the  ocean  blue

*

Tonight, I got to hear Tim Eriksen play in a small coffee/deli/bakery in downtown Amherst, The Black Sheep. (The Black Sheep, btw, was one of the first things that caught my eye and attracted me to Amherst. OH! the bakeries. OH! the bookstores. OH! the bakeries. OH! the bookstores).

I have been in Amherst since August of 2000. I have put down a few roots. I can feel them.

I have been singing shape note since August of 2004. I am rooted in tradition.

I didn’t go to this particular concert, The Newport Folk Festival, in late summer 2006. I wanted to but somehow didn’t manage it. Tim organized a big group of people from our local Sacred Harp sing. Here is one of the things they did on the big stage. He played it tonight at the end of the concert and we all sang again. This is NOT a song from the Sacred Harp, by the way. It’s something Tim likes to refer to as “Northern Roots Music.”

And just so you know, my turtle doves, I don’t believe in the apocalypse.

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And am I born to die? To lay this body down!

Easter is not a holiday I feel much of an attachment to. However, I was reminded this week of a specific time in my life, a new friend I once had, her life and death.

8 years ago, I began singing Sacred Harp every Tuesday night at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel on the Smith College campus in Northampton, Massachusetts.

I got to know Mirjana Lausovic at the Tuesday night sing a few years later after she moved back to the area from Minnesota with her husband and 2 young children.

Minja, as she was known, was one of the strongest women I have ever met—happy, practical, full of joy and life, big in presence and physicality; loved her kids, huge heart. Everything about her was open and present—she was buxom, full-lipped, had big eyes and a big smile, and of course, a powerful voice. Formidable was the word that came to mind the first time I saw her. She was easily approachable and had a humility I draw from to this day.

Minja had beautiful silver hair and it was cut short. I, too, kept my hair short and we joked together about haircuts, how it didn’t really matter who cut it or how: no muss, no fuss. I never knew why her hair was short and gray; she was, after all, a couple of years younger then me.

When I began to sing in the Sacred Harp group, in 2004, I had a difficult time socially. If it hadn’t been for my fierce love of the sound, my determination to add a creative endeavor for myself after years at home raising my daughters; if it hadn’t been for my training as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I would have bagged out. I found the group strange and clique-y; I didn’t understand the social dynamics. I heard a lot of talk of “welcoming the newcomer,” but my presence seemed less than welcome. I was baffled and spent many a Tuesday night filled with the joy and satisfaction of learning a new, powerful way of singing, but with an undercurrent of my own sadness and anger at feeling on the periphery of a group [supposedly] dedicated to a communal tradition of song.

Minja was a remedy for all of that, a breath of holy spirit.

She died less than 2 years after I met her. It was a shock to me because I didn’t know her history—she had had breast cancer and pulled through several years earlier and this was apparently a recurrence. They left town one day in July of 2007 and she died 2 weeks later, on my birthday, something I recognize as a great gift.

I remember the evening before Tim and Minja and the kids were leaving town. I had prepared a little card and a bundle of ribboned lavender from my garden. When I handed the card to her, my instinct was to walk away so she could open it at her leisure, no pressure to say she liked it in case she didn’t, nor to respond to the words therein. But she said, emphatically, “Can I open it now? I want to open it NOW.” It was so much her, living for the moment, taking a bite out of whatever life presented.

♦ ♦ ♦

Today, I watched as my daughter’s Agricultural Arts teacher introduced 5 new colonies of bees to the existing hives on the school’s campus. Nicki told us that the worker bees, all of whom are female, do not lay their own eggs, in deference to the queen’s laying.

I saw the first tulips open in my side garden bed.

I am preparing a dish for dinner with eggs from my neighbor’s chickens, a salad with greens from a local farm.

Sometimes I receive emails from a fellow parent at my daughter’s school and they close with the statement “Walk in the light, wherever you may be.” Some days I begin to know what this means.

Today is Passover; tomorrow is Easter. I know I have been delivered, here and now, to the center of a swirl of abundance that I call home, the earth.

♦ ♦ ♦

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I love our new cat

She doesn’t really have a name yet (even though we got her in December). Considerations have included Strider, Minerva, Felix, Ladybug, Jelly Bean, Little. I call her Ladybug or Little, so I think my official name for her is Ladybug Little Jelly Bean Glatter. She was in bad shape when we adopted her, very sickly and so thin. Now her belly is busting at the seams, so the Jelly Bean part and all those double letters suit her well.

I like the spring peepers’ mating chorus

I love that I found a new artist, Janet K.Miller, last week when I searched google images for “butter devil” and that Janet was completely open and welcoming about me using an image of her painting on my blog. I also really dig her work and I look forward to buying one of the pens she sells on her website.

I love that I can search google images for “butter devil”

I love using google images

heart potato (not from google images)

I love that I am finally back to singing Sacred Harp. I have now gone back 2 Tuesdays in-a-row after my long hiatus (7 or 8 weeks or something crazy like that).

I love our bookkeeper

I love that I am almost done with our taxes, almost enough to send them in to our accountant

And that’s all she wrote

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It goes like this some days:

good luck/bad luck

I find good parking spaces, often; I have terrible luck with shopping carts, the wonky wheels

I kept passing the same man in the grocery store today, 5, maybe 6, times. A regular guy, maybe two or three years older than me, not too tall. For at least 20 minutes I saw him, passing me in this or that aisle. He never made eye contact with me. I tried to make eye contact with him. A little smile, an acknowledgement. I ended up looking at the ground and smiling to the floor after about 3 times. When he exited the store, I saw that he was empty-handed.

I went to a grocery store earlier in the day. A tall, dark-skinned African woman in a dress made of traditional African cloth (if I knew anything about Africa, maybe I could say what country the cloth was from) was walking in the beverage aisle (I came there to see if the Polar seltzer was on sale, but they never carry the black cherry) toward me. She walked slowly, but with a rhythm all her own, in her own world, and she wore large, Birkenstock-like slippers on her feet. They were incongruous. Maybe they were Crocs with furry linings?

Later, a few hours later, I saw the same woman behind a grocery cart outside another grocery store. I recognized her feet first, I must have been looking down. She never looked at me, neither time.

When I read blogs in which the words are written on a black background, I can’t read. I look away and all I see are lines lines lines. This is unfortunate, I think, and I wonder if other people have this problem. Sometimes I get ocular migraines and I think these blogs could trigger one, but come to think of it, none ever has.

Today was a shopping day, a catching-up-on-groceries-and-errands day. I went to FIVE different stores and to TWO different banks. I still haven’t gone to the post office to mail a package that I haven’t yet packed, sealed, or addressed.

On the road, on my way to the third grocery store, someone in a Suburu Outback wagon was following behind my car and although the driver was not actually allowing her car to tailgate mine, I had the sense that she was in a hurry or pissed off or needing something urgently. She passed me when she could and turned ahead of me, less than half-a-block ahead. I caught a glimpse of her silvery short hair and proper, politically-correct bumper sticker.

In the third grocery store, I passed 2 women talking and I recognized the woman with short silver hair as the driver of the almost-tailgating-me Suburu. She had all of the signs of someone who lives in the Pioneer Valley, just like I do. Right then and there, I decided she was full of shit and I wanted to ask her why she drove like an asshole.

In the Whole Foods Market in Hadley, Massachusetts, one enters directly into the produce department. When I walked into the store (my FIFTH and final store of the day), I heard a high-pitched screaming. A mother shopping with her 2 children, the youngest still in the realm of baby-hood (13 months, maybe?), was pushing the screecher in a cart, her other child walking beside. The sound of the screeching was jarring to my system and painful to my ears. I asked the cute produce man putting up local green peppers, of which I needed at least two, “how long have you had to listen to that?” at which he answered that he was glad his wife had a boy because “they don’t scream like that.” Now that I’m not sure about. I just thought the mother was a particularly indulgent mother who was raising a child who could have been told not to scream. I heard the mother try this once, maybe twice, all the while while the baby screamed and screamed, laughing and giggling and making cutesy faces after every scream. The baby screamed and screeched the entire half-hour that I was in the store. The employees, you can tell, are not allowed to say anything negative in conversation about anything like an obnoxious screaming baby. So everyone, shoppers and workers, just nodded our heads uncomfortably. Sometimes a shopper would hear the screeching baby for the first time, as the little family approached. I could tell it was the first time by the way the shopper would jolt and startle and jump a little in his shoes. I think I jumped a little almost every time until I got far enough away that I sort of forgot about it until now.

I look at the women a lot. The women shopping, in the parking lots, in their cars, in their yoga pants and sports tops. In their good flip flops. With bouncy long hair, with beautiful silver hair. Thinner than me. More fit than me. This one’s got runner’s legs, that one has cork heels too high for safety with her small daughter walking next to her. What if she has to run after her in the parking lot? I don’t notice the men as much and there aren’t as many of them anyway. I have good flip-flops, too, but not flip-flops with bling. When did flip-flops get to have supportive soles?

I love the women at my bank. One has smoked for too long, I can hear it in her voice. She wears a crucifix around her neck. She is beautiful and kind, a little older than me. She has a pretty face and I love her.

I never remember names any more. The cashier I always talk to at WF has 2 daughters, one a new baby, and I ask and ask and I can’t remember. I know where she lives, I see her walking her baby in a stroller on the sidewalk, I know that her grandfather is from Italy, Sicily to be exact, I know the grade her oldest daughter is going into, but I can’t remember the names. What happened to my memory?

It is almost one o’clock and I thought it was only almost midnight.

I went to sing Sacred Harp tonight, as I do almost every Tuesday night at Helen Hills Hills Chapel on the Smith College campus in Northampton, Mass, and my oldest daughter went with me. She looked really pretty tonight and was very happy, but I still got ticked off at her in the car on the way home.

I went to yoga before singing and it was GREAT and I thought that sometimes good yoga is like good sex and I know I’m not the first to say or think or write this, so why bother?

When I used to do a lot of massage, this was a regular thing, someone or another would say that a great massage was as good as great sex. My clients never said this to me, just friends or acquaintances.

When I come across a new blog and I see that the posts are all long or I see a long post, I don’t read usually. So I try not to have blog posts that are too long. But I am full of words, swimming in my head when I am in the car too much or in a certain manic state and now look where it’s got me. And this is AFTER yoga! But also after singing, which can wind me up sometimes.

At a local, annual food-tasting the other day, a guy giving out samples told me I had blueberry eyes and he asked me if I do have blueberry eyes: do you have blueberry eyes? I said I don’t really like blueberries, but I wish I did. That was a new one: blueberry eyes. I’ll take it.

What about the words lush and razz-ma-tazz and linger? Can you guess who I was listening to in the car? Here’s another hint: dame.

Well, I’m tired and wired, so you know that means it’s time for my crossword. If you got this far, you may a. be married to me or b. a really good friend or c. brave and patient, more than I probably am or d. the recipient of my gratitude. I love my readers.

I even have something in common with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Whaddaya know?

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Seems like a contradiction in terms, I know, but I am grateful for Ohio

Sun still present at 8:55 pm, sky just turning its oranges and pinks. (New England? By the end of our ride Monday at 8:20 pm, sky almost pitch).

Sun is somehow higher in the sky and less harsh on the eyes as it goes down here. I wish the sky was this high and bright in the Pioneer Valley without the intense sundown/glare. It’s something I’ve never gotten used to in New England. Why is it different between the 2 places? Amherst is only slightly farther north but quite a bit farther east, does this explain it? Oh hell’s bells, why don’t I just google it? No, that yielded no fruit. Help me.

I know Ohio is farther west in the Eastern Standard Time zone, so I get the clock part. But the quality of the sun is also different. I can hardly wait ’til the morning when the sun comes up later than usual. Ironic, isn’t it?

Once at the racetrack in Cleveland, we met a boy named “Sundown.” I’m not kidding. I bet that was 27 years ago. I thought I might name a boy Sundown some day.

Taco Tonto’s

Talking to my great friend, Sheila, on the phone in the parking lot of the Stow Target.

Walking into Taco Tonto’s and seeing 2 people I know well enough to remember all sorts of little details about even though I haven’t seen or spoken with either of them in over 11 years. One is the son of a woman who was at Annie’s birth, almost 13 years ago, and who was also part of the “older kids” component in Violet’s first (and only) play group. Wow.

Kent, beautiful Kent

The blues in Kent, nothing like feeling blue in Kent. Nothing.

Kent, my home for 19 years

My old house on N. Willow St. I drove into town, straight from the airport in Cleveland and pulled right up to the house, got out of the car, walked up to the door and rang the bell. Nobody home. New sign above the garage, the garden beds not looking terribly spiffy (where has all the coreopsis gone?), and some of the brick-work patio all busted up. Still, that is the house where my babies were born and it always will be. Labored there in many ways (“Here I have worked, labored a while,” Christian’s Farewell, Sacred Harp #347).

I suspect this has something to do with ale, but maybe it’s their last name. Do they rent or own? I’ll be knocking on that door again later.

When I left the car rental at Cleveland-Hopkins, I completely ignored the GPS and with no map was able to navigate after 11 years (yes, I’ve been back and driven around, but not out that way and not much with me behind the wheel). God that felt good. I was excited just to recognize I-480 and to remember to go East.

I was thinking of posting about sex toys and air travel, but there’s really no need. Apparently, you can pack sex toys into your luggage without embarrassment. No alarms went off, nobody pulled anything out and waved it around in front of everyone. Like Lucinda Williams said when she was intro-ing The Way You Move, “Nobody got hurt.”

I think it’s funny that sex toys are called marital aids (hey, that’s what O’Brien calls them), but maybe this can help explain.

The name of the guy who drove me from the parking lot to the terminal at Windsor Locks? Pierce Pearce. I am not kidding. He looked like Prop Joe from The Wire. Maybe it was Pearce Pierce. I didn’t write it down. Dang.

Look what I looked up this morning. Interesting, hunh?

Susun Weed says the best cure for menopausal women who have low sex drive is 7 orgasms per week. That’s her prescription. She says you can have them all in one day or one a day. Is she just fucking with us on this?

Yes, I love Kent. But there has always been the residual clash between town and University. Literally and symbolically, this has been the fight between establishment and the counter-culture. May 4 was a culmination. The town still bears it. Jerry’s Diner has been razed, but also the entire lot behind it. Gone, nothing, nada. The hardware store, Gone. Unbelievable. That’s why you can get the blues so easily here. Heart and no heart. When a place has this much heart, for some reason, it’s also easy to rip parts of it out. Right, Chrissy? (Oh, hell, I have to apologize. Sometimes that link has an ad; sometimes not. See what the fuss is all about? They are taking over).

I have a poem at home by an old Kent poet, Jake Leed, and the line I remember is

I’ve chipped away a Clark’s gas station

I lent out the little book that poem was in and I never got it back. If anyone out there has it, send me a copy. I’ll pay shipping.

The Clark gas station is still there, on S. Water St. Unbelievable.

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