Thursday, November 20, 2014

It Doesn't Really Matter Anymore

"When it came time to do the occasional song of mine—although it was usually difficult to get to that point—Paul would always be really creative with what he'd contribute. For instance, that galloping piano part on While My Guitar Gently Weeps was Paul's and it's brilliant right through this day. And you just have to listen to that bass line in Something to know that, when he wanted to, Paul could give a lot. Look, the thing is, so much has been said about our disagreements. It's like, so much time has lapsed, it doesn't really matter anymore." George Harrison

I have a friend whom I wish felt this way. We're getting older now, and carrying a cross around gets heavier with each passing year. I tossed mine to the side of the road a long time ago. I wish she could, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

WTF Unsettled

Until I feel less unsettled and a little more sure of WTF life is up to, I've decided to make this blog as uncomplicated as I can without it being completely boring to look at. I need an undemanding, uncluttered environment just now, and I found that I didn't want to blog due to the artistic demands of my last design. So this is what you get.

As you see, I've removed all posts pertaining to our recent tsunami here at the cottage. She was found. She left on her own. She's doing WTF she wants to do. That's the end of that, for now.

To say that all of this hasn't taken its toll on me (it's taken its toll on all of us, especially Nettl, but this is my space where I get to talk about myself—no disrespect or minimizing intended) would be dishonest as well as out-and-out stupid. People know better. Given my health issues and my age, I would have to be made of stone for it not to flatten me, but I'm doing better than I might have predicted. I've discovered I have an iron will where survival and not falling prey to other people's bullshit is concerned. Throughout the ordeal I felt a little out of the loop, though. A step-parent is a step-parent, after all, but I think it was a good thing. If I'd been given the hundreds of well-wishes and comments that Nettl got in Facebook, I might have absorbed the whole mess a lot more and would be in bed right now nursing a thyroid burnout like never before. I also would not have been able to be strong for her when she needed me most, so I've decided that being overlooked was a good thing and exactly what had to be. No hard feelings where that's concerned, but I admit I'm experiencing a lot of resentment where the short-lived euphoria of our wedding week is concerned. That joy, simply put, was hijacked and held hostage. After waiting and working for 15 years to be granted the freedom to marry, having that joy so cruelly stolen from us is something that will take me a long time to forgive. If I speak too plainly, I'm sorry, but the truth needs to be said and after this post I won't mention any of it ever again.

There's also the Wicked Witch of the West issue that always arises when a crisis hits us. She peers into her magic ball and sends out her flying monkeys to kick me when I'm down. Every. Frickin'. Time. This blog ands the page I'd set up to find our missing daughter were crawled by her IP about every 30 seconds of every day. Site crawler extensions are easy to install via Firefox (which is the browser she uses) and she racked up literally hundreds of hits on my Statcounter reports. Pathetic, especially since she's been creepy-crawly me for 12 years now. What a waste of the short time she's been given on this planet. But you know, I quit being intimidated by her a long time ago. Bite my ass. I just installed a redirect script and until she learns how to change her IP, she can't get in here. And if she does learn how to do that, I'll just add that IP to the code. Hell, I can block the whole of Germany if I want to. Meantime, thanks for increasing my hit counts.

WTF ever.

Now, it's time for me to get back to what life was, although I know that's not realistic. But I can do my Alla Breve work, I can go back to writing my memoirs and I can get back to my album. I can stand with Nettl to make the upcoming holidays as happy as possible with or without a houseful of grown kids regardless of their reasons for not being here. We'll have three—my two sons and Nettl's eldest daughter. Her son will be busy at his job as a chef at Aria in the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. Don't ask me about the youngest daughter because I don't know. Hey, three out of five isn't bad!
UPDATE: Things got much better very quickly after receiving a phone call from our girl. This alone healed so many places in me and the anger and resentment are much diminished. In fact, I think they're morphing into a kind of "Glad that's over" exhalation.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guitars, Biscuit Cans, and Champagne

Restringing my guitars has always been my least favorite thing about being a guitarist, especially when the guitar is a 12-string. It's not only time-consuming, it's stressful. It can even be dangerous. On my personal anxietyometer it scores even higher than opening a biscuit can or a bottle of champagne.

You know. Those biscuit cans by Pilsbury. The ones that require you to peel the paper label off and you never know when the cardboard can is going to pop open. Sometimes they do, if the pressure is higher than usual, and sometimes they don't and you have to press the edge of a spoon into the seam to force it open. Used to be, they never opened until you banged the can on the edge of the kitchen counter, but these days nothing's consistent.

Champagne bottles are the same. Most corks won't pop out until you twist the bottle a bit. (I learned the trick to perfect bottle openage from a pro years ago: tilt the bottle 45 degrees, cover the top with a cotton dish towel and twist the bottle, not the cork, slowly, and gently ease it out, allowing the pressure to escape a little at a time, thus, no spewing, no waste, no mess.) But sometimes, the cork will go flying the second you loosen the bale. I've seen this happen any number of times—the ceiling of our house on James Place probably still bears the mark of one cork and on another occasion I saw a friend receive a black eye from one. And on her birthday no less.

Life is dangerous, people. Shit happens.

Yesterday, I got a new set of Martin Silk & Steels for my Luna 12-string. It being my first time to restring this beauty, I had no idea what to expect. The scariest string is the 6th string—the octave G, which is actually just an E tuned up to either F, or, in my case, G. That's a lot of pressure to put on the most delicate string of the 12. I can't count how many times in the past, on other guitars, this string has snapped while I tuned it up. I used to buy an extra just in case, but this being a high-quality, custom instrument, I exercised a little faith. The only real mishap was when I removed the old 10th string (octave A) and the curly bit that came off of the tuner lunged into my thumb like a fish hook. No matter what I did, it wouldn't dislodge and my thumb is still bruised. After putting a Band-Aid on it, I got back to work and everything went really well.

My usual method of restringing a 12-string is to remove and replace one string at a time so as not to  release too much pressure on the neck; a 12-string bears up to 200 lbs. of tension and if a string snaps, it can do a lot of damage if it connects with a sensitive body an eye. I start with the bottom strings—the heavier ones, E, A and D of which there are two each, one high and one low—then go to the top E and B (also two each, but the same gauge), saving the Gs in the middle of the neck until last. I don't know if this is the right way or not, but it's always worked for me when the time came to confront that tiny little 6th string.

They all went on great and they all tuned up smoothly with little to no slipping beneath the pegs, but to be safe I decided to tune it to D and let it sit overnight before taking it on up to E. Because of the superior truss rod in the neck of this guitar and the fact that the strings I bought are light gauge, I don't foresee any problems. Luna makes excellent instruments. Pilsbury, as well as a couple of champagne labels, could take a few lessons.