Tuesdays with Mozart: Over the Edge

Photo by Micah Atwell

Not-So-Still Life with Cat

"You haven't forgotten that 5:00 is coming, have you?"

"Yeah, that's what I wait for every day!"

"Is it ready yet?"

"Thank you, but I'm trying to dine."

"Would you please just leave me alone?"


Monday is a Good Day, Really

On Friday I began what I hope will develop into another book. I'm not sure about it yet because it's so completely different from anything I've ever written. For once, I'm writing something that doesn't require years of research and a mountain of books cluttering up the floor around my computer. All it requires is my being willing (and able) to, as journalist Red Smith once said, "sit down and open a vein". The working title is White On White. I'm not really sure where it's going, if anywhere. I'm not following any rules or formulas and I'm not writing for a publisher. That just adds to the 90% crap pile that fills both the bookstores and the online publishing companies. I'm just writing. "A slice of life" as Henry Miller said...


Thank You

I love waking up on mornings like this one. It's crisp and clear as a bell outside and the cat was curled around my feet. Sleeping was nice. All night long I dreamt that I was singing Don McLean's And I Love You So, playing my guitar as accompaniment. That song used to be in my repertoire, back in the days when I did club gigs. Guess I need to do it again...


It's My Birthday!

Deni posted this on Facebook and I just had to share it with you on this, of all days. Enjoy!


Peep Show

As I predicted, it's time to open the sock drawer again. It got downright cold this morning before the sun came up. Even now, I'm a little chilly sitting here, socks and all. I put the heat on for the first time in this cottage, too. Only for about five minutes, but it counts. I find I'm actually looking forward to cooler temperatures though...


September Afternoon

It looks like summer is really gone. Today is gray in turns and a little chilly, the leaves on the old oak tree in our yard are beginning to turn, and the AC hasn't come on once.

I love September. I love the shorter days. Soon, it will be time to drag out the crock pot and to start making soups and stews. I'll put the blanket back on the bed and socks will begin to show up in the laundry basket. The wind chimes will ring more frequently and I'll be putting on fleece tops to drink my coffee on the front porch.

Lauren (who turned 21 yesterday) is coming up this weekend. We'll be giving her a small, intimate party (for adults over 21) to celebrate this rite of passage. We can't afford to take her to Zanotti's, so we're turning our home into a wine bar, complete with hors d'oeuvres ("horse doovers", as Alan says), wine, candles, and soft Jazz. My birthday is on Thursday, but I want the party to be all about her. You only turn 21 once, after all! My next big rite of passage will be 60. Ugh... let's not even go there...

Until the the weekend arrives, I'm dusting, vacuuming, and rearranging chotchkies. Oh, yeah, and I'm working on my clients' sites as well. It's great to have work again!

All You Need is Love

Before I say anything, I need to preface this entry with the following statement:

I never, ever, fell out of love with Nettl, nor did my feelings for her ever diminish in the slightest degree. Health issues took control of my body and brain, but never my heart and mind.

There. Now I can go on...


Cramped Space

The only real issue that I have with this house is that our bedroom is too damned small. It's only about 10x10, and we have a queen-sized bed, two bed tables, a chest-of-drawers, and this postage stamp sized desk. The desk is crammed into a corner, where one's back is right up against the bed's footboard. This is especially hard to deal with because the desk chair is really uncomfortable when used for any real length of time. Our good chair wouldn't fit in the space, so we have to use a smaller, less ergonomic one. Plus, we gave Joel the nice desk and we had to use this little piece o' crap. It's claustrophobic to say the least. Especially when you consider that over the past five years we've gotten used to a bedroom that was larger than some apartment's I've had—a room with its own dedicated office area...


Sunday Coffee with Henry #1

"I do think that many writers have what you call a demonic nature. They are always in trouble, you know, and not only while they're writing or because they're writing, but in every aspect of their lives, with marriage, love, business, money, everything. It's all tied together, all part and parcel of the same thing. It's an aspect of the creative personality. Not all creative personalities are this way, but some are." - Henry Miller


I Missed Talk Like a Pirate Day

Arrr! Avast, me Matey, yo-ho!

On another note, I went all day without going online and lived to blog about it. To tell the truth, it never even occurred to me to log-on, I was having such a great time cleaning, baking a cake, and putting some flowers in pots on the front porch.

So maybe being without my laptop for a couple of weeks will be good for me? Arrr!


And Then There Was...

One of the reasons I don't believe suicide is an answer to anything is because just when things seem their very darkest, another morning dawns and it all turns around. The worst day turns into the best day and I'm back singing, A Shine on Your Shoes again. Such was my last couple of days. From bleak and utter despair I was lifted out into the contentment that I've gotten used to since we moved into the cottage. I know that I shouldn't let things get me down, but hey, I'm a musician and a writer... I'm thenthative that way.

One of my clients, a professor in the music department at the university, called me around noon, asking if I could meet him in his office at 3:30. No problem. I spent about an hour and a half with him, discussing four web jobs while the chamber orchestra rehearsed next door. It was squeak-fart music, but it was live, and if felt good being back in music professor's dark, tweedy office. While he was on the phone, I sat, looking around me. Books, music scores, baton cases... it took me back to the years I spent with Frank. Not a bad little stroll down Memory Lane, and one that will pay!



15 Things I'm Learning During Our Financial Crisis

1.   How to make 4 large ice tea bags stretch to make two gallons of iced tea.

2.  Vegetable oil works just as well as olive oil, and when the vegetable oil is gone, I can always use butter or margarine.

3.  How to cut meat into bite-sized pieces so that a stew/soup doesn't look so meager.

4.  Bread from the Wonder Bread day-old store is just as good as what is on the supermarket shelf. And it's half the price!...

Patrick Mozart? Wolfgang Swayze?

Many years agowow, when? 1989?a friend gave me this revamped 1920s lamp that she thought looked like Mozart. People were always giving me things like that in those days. Back then, it had an ugly, white, modern shade on it and "Mozart" was painted in the original pastel blues and whites that had faded over time. It wasn't very pretty, but it meant the world to me.

Through the years it has been painted a number of ways, in bold jewel tones, in life-like colors, and then my ex (when we were still together) tried to bronze it, which made it look like a weird Remmington. More recently, say, in the early 2000s, Nettl and I decided to gild the little guy and thus he has remained...

Review: Ringo

Last night I finished reading the book about Ringo Starr. I hesitate to give the name of the author because last time I posted a not-so-favorable review I was attacked by the author who was so vitriolic and hysterical, I could only believe that she was unstable.

Anyway, the author of the book on Ringo has written many Rock 'n Roll biopics, which I'm sure are good—I just have a hard time reading run-on sentences that make up entire paragraphs (I'm not exaggerating). I also have a hard time with writers who use vocabulary in a pretentious manner. Still, I learned a few things and was able to set a dateline to things I already knew about Ringo and my generation of rockers.

I may read the book again one day and if I do, I'll add more to this review. But right now, it just doesn't seem worth the exertion.


Oh, Behave!

Yesterday, I only got three BSoDs. But then, I wasn't on my laptop very much. Still, I learned long ago that computers have rhythms just like we do. Something will quit working, then it starts to feel guilty and goes back to running smoothly for a while. Next thing you know, it's down again. So it goes. Hopefully, the laptop will behave for a while now. I'm beginning to wonder if it has something to do with the power outlet. It's suddenly loose and wobbly. Well, as I wrote in an earlier comment, it's under warranty until February and the nearest repair place is only 233 miles away...


C'est Fini!

I wish I had taken a picture of the garage right after we moved everything over from the other house five weeks ago. I'm not kidding, it was floor-to-ceiling boxes, furniture, and household crap. Thankfully, we have a huge garage.

Knowing it was going to take us a while to unpack everything, Micah made it easier for us to find stuff by forging a path that wended through everything, rather like those paths you see in scrapyards...


Putting Out Fires - Buy Me a Frickin' Helmet!

Yesterday was one of those days. Nettl tells me that Mercury is retrograde, but I don't know how much of that stuff I believe anymore. Besides, that's another entry altogether.

The first thing I do every morning is take a whiz. It wasn't always like that, but that too is another entry. I was immediately faced with having to take the lid off of the toilet tank, reach down into the water and reattach the chain that pulls up the little flapperdoodle-weird. Hell, my eyes weren't even open yet and I hadn't even had time to make the coffee. (A little warning: I do morning action verbs much worse than I hear them.) So I fixed the chain. I made the coffee, and while that was brewing I made the bed. Then I fired up my laptop to check my blog, email, and Facebook...



Who remembers this band from the late Sixties? Man, I do! I  l-o-v-e-d  this album and played it until it was nothing but scratches and skips. I first encountered them when they played at the Oxnard Civic Auditorium in 1968 or 1969, I can't remember. The next day I went out and bought the album.

Sweetwater was best known as the first group scheduled to play at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, although they eventually were the fifth act to go on. Due to problems within the band, Richie Havens became the first performer. Oh well, he was great too.

Sweetwater pioneered the psychedelic rock/classical fusion style that was popularized by Jefferson Airplane and regarded as the archetypal "Sixties Sound". They often toured with The Doors and were also one of the opening acts for Eric Burdon & The Animals in 1968.

The original members of the band were Nancy Nevins (lead vocals), August Burns (cello), Albert Moore (flute/backing vocals), Alan Malarowitz (drums), Elpidio Cobian (conga drums), Alex Del Zoppo (keyboards) and Fred Herrera (bass).

Three days after Sweetwater performed on The Red Skelton Show, singer Nancy Nevins was badly injured in a car accident, which stopped the progress of the band. Nancy experienced brain damage for a number of years following the collision as well as permanent damage to one of her vocal cords. The group reunited for Woodstock '94 in 1994.

Here is the line-up of songs on this album. My favorite was In a Rainbow.
  • Motherless Child
  • Here We Go Again
  • For Pete's Sake
  • Come Take a Walk
  • What's Wrong
  • In a Rainbow
  • My Crystal Spider
  • Rondeau
  • Two Worlds
  • Through an Old Storybook
  • Why Oh Why
You can hear the songs at Amazon.


The Beatles on 09.09.09

Hell yes I want the box set of digitally remastered Beatles albums that was released today. 17 disks! Their complete catalog! And everyone says they sound incredible. As a Beatle peatle since the band first hit the music scene and, as someone who was at Dodger Stadium in August 1966 to see them in person, I think I deserve this set, in fact. But these days, $260 is two weeks of groceries. It doesn't even help that Amazon has the set for $179.

Damn. Just damn.


Taking a Musical Whiz

Raschala is an Austrian town with a population of 348, whose main claim to fame is that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once stopped there to pee by the side of the road. They are now organizing a music and drinking festival to celebrate the momentous event.

They even had a plaque put on the stone where the composer is said to have relieved himself. So many visitors have turned up to visit the Mozart Pinkelstein (Mozart pee stone) that the local board of tourism has figured out how to bring some revenues into the town while, at the same time, celebrating Mozart's alleged visit...

This Explains a Lot

According to a study that was published in the New York Times a while back, sleep patterns change with age, anxiety levels, and many other factors. Normally, younger people have more concentrated periods of deep sleep, while older people have more periods of REM sleep.




Last night, as we sat in the living room, Ville, Heather and Lashell dropped by bearing wine. After giving the tour of the new digs, we went out onto the porch and had a GREAT time. The only downside was that Nettl couldn't stay outside due to the cigarette smoke, but she laid on the couch where she could still feel like part of the fun. Also, she still wasn't feeling well and she ended up falling asleep.

A little later, Ville and Heather walked down to the local Shell station for some munchies. I gave them my camera (which is now stuffed with all kinds of weird images) and they took this picture. Cute! It was a really fun evening -- the perfect spur-of-the-moment kind of thing that I love.

Today is our potluck BBQ -- there's going to be a house (and yard) full -- to which everyone's bringing food and drink. I'm sure there will be many more laughs and love.


Still Life with Saturday Evening

Happy, with a family day and the evening sun behind me. Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday weekend too!

Up in the Middle of the Night

Well, here I am awake. Usually, I haven't gone to bed yet, but this morning it's because we all went to bed at 10:30.

Ten -effin' - thirty!

After two days of intensive work around the house, I was exhausted and couldn't stay awake, although we were having a great time on the porch. Lauren was really tired as well and Nettl didn't feel good, so we all turned in. I think Joel was the only one who stayed up. Nettl woke up around two, and then I woke up. We sat here talking a while, then I decided I was up for the day.

"We'll take naps this afternoon," she said.

So it looks like I'll be up for the yard sale after all. See? This is what you get when I go to bed like a real person. You still get entries in the middle of the night.


A Full Weekend

This afternoon, Lauren will be coming home from OU to spend the holiday weekend with us, but because we presently don't have a guest room, she'll be bunking on the couch. She'll be here the entire weekend, all the way into Monday, which is the actual holiday.

Tomorrow we'll be having a big garage sale to get rid of all the stuff we either no longer need or want, or simply can't fit into the cottage. There's everything from a TV to chotchkies, dishes to bicycles. Nettl says that it will start at 8:00 am, but I doubt I'll be conscious that early. If any of my Stillwater readers want to buy some stuff, come on over!

On Sunday we'll be grilling, and we've invited Heather and her boyfriend, Bryan, as well as Dr. Kielbasa, who's bringing a dessert, his specialty.

I know that Nettl is looking forward to spending some time with her girls and I'm looking forward to hearing all the giggling and bantering. I'm also looking forward to sitting on the front porch in the evenings with my family.

Have yourselves a fun and safe Labor Day weekend!


Front Porch Observations

Although there are flashes of lightening in the southeastern sky, the nearly full moon in Aquarius (it will enter Pisces on the actual full moon tomorrow) sits very close to Jupiter in the south. As I sit here at the table on the porch, sipping my wine, I see a small cloud that looks exactly like a sperm whale. It floats between the two lights in the sky as if it is swimming between two islands in a purple sea.

Down the street a couple of students also sit on their porch, talking quietly as distant thunder rolls, hushing the crickets, frogs, and cicadas. Once it's over the choir goes back to its singing. Occasionally, a car drives past, but they're used to that and continue the chirping, croaking and buzzing.

Our wind chimes hum in the breeze and the cat scouts from the ledges that surround the porch. The trees sound like an ocean as the breeze makes the familiar crescendo that reports an incoming storm. Thunder, another flash of lightening, and more clouds pass over the moon's face. In the distance a dog barks.


Shrimp, Google and BSoD

Many years ago, when Joel was only about 8 or 9, we went into a pet shop at the Esplanade mall, in Oxnard. In the aquarium section Joel saw some Ghost Shrimp and he made a comment that they looked like they had backaches. Thus the name, "Backache Shrimp" stuck. Today I feel like a Backache Shrimp after unloading, organizing, alphabetizing and shelving all of my books yesterday. It wasn't only that which hurt me, it was the getting up and down on the floor. Funny. Over the weekend I must have climbed the attic ladder 30 times and I never felt a thing, but doing those books did. Getting older is a trip. I took a long, hot soak in our freestanding tub last night. What a luxury!


Sixties Faces: Bob Dylan

Let's forget for a moment that I consider Bob Dylan to be one of America's greatest poets. Let's forget, too, that I've been a huge fan of his music since I first heard him in 1964. Today, in this, my second installment of "Sixties Faces", I want to pay tribute to his physical appearance.

There's something about Bob Dylan's looksas well as the way he carries and presents himselfthat has always epitomized what I consider to be the height of COOL...