Saturday, 31 May 2008

It was a nice sunny day ...

... and I spent it indoors in a classroom. But I did get outside during the lunch break.

Petals were falling off the trees like snow, and the air was awash with the perfume of blossoms. I sat out here and read my book for half an hour. It wasn't long enough! I sure hope it's this nice out tomorrow ...

Sunday, 25 May 2008

music music music

Well! What a surprise! Here's how it happened.

First, the background of this story: I have a lovely 12-string guitar (with a checkered past but nice mellow sound), but said 12-string and I haven't lived under the same roof since I moved up north. When I came up north, I thought I would only be here for a couple of years at most while finishing my degree, and while here should remain temporarily unshackled by "things". However, I didn't completely get rid of all my material possessions. I left my most treasured "things" -- including my 12-string guitar -- in the care and keeping of good friends. I thought I would complete my studies, move back down south. However, life happened. I'm still here. My 12-string guitar isn't.

A couple of weeks ago, my buddy "L" and I were talking about music. We have similar, but not identical, tastes in music and occasionally have fun arguing about it. In the course of the conversation, I mentioned that sometimes I miss my guitar.

“Why?” L asked.

Cuz it’s currently residing in down south, I said.

“Why?” L asked.

Cuz I w as travelling light when I came here, and I still haven’t fetched it up here.

“Why?” L asked.

Cuz it never felt right to fetch it up here.

“Why?” L asked.

Cuz this wasn’t home, and wasn’t going to be permanent, so far as I knew.

“Why?” L asked. (If you’re thinking this character sounds like a broken record, yes ... sometimes that’s true! L could ask “Why?” for hours on end ... but never gets to because yours truly gets frustrated and walks away!)

Anyway, a few more whys, and yours truly changed the subject and forgot all about the whole conversation.

And now the actual story: This past Thursday, L called me at work a few minutes before I was due to leave and instructed me to a location around the corner from my office. I figured we were going out for dinner, but was a little puzzled by the comment “I just got it today” at the end of the phone call. Alright-ee then. I pictured a new truck, or some thing-a-ma-bob for a truck because I did recall a distant conversation along those lines.

“IT” was a brand new acoustic guitar (the exact model as above)! For me! I’ve NEVER owned a brand new musical instrument ... even my very first guitar when I was 13 or 14 was second hand, and I saved baby-sitting money for months to pay for it. I was SO shocked! So this weekend I'm busy getting to know my new guitar/friend. Musical instruments are like friends and lovers ... you have to get to know them, build a relationship with them. And build some callouses ...

So my new guitar got me to thinking about my first guitar and my first violin, and music that I played when I started learning to play them both. Have YOU ever taken music lessons? If so, you might agree that the music you had to learn and the "real" music happening in the world around you were NOT the same. I couldn't for the life of me understand the logic of learning to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (or whatever beginner's crap it was) when I wanted to learn to play

While pondering that particular childhood frustration this past week, I tried to remember the first "real" song that caught my attention. L recalls Happy Birthday and Frosty the Snowman. I know I heard Happy Birthday and Frosty the Snowman while growing up, but I don't consider either "real". "Real" songs are something quite different to me. My cousin Lance used to sing 2 songs that REALLY caught my attention ... my imagination ... my heart when I was 5 or 6 years old. He was a grown-up university student at the time, and I totally looked up to him ... except when he tickled me. One song was (although 30 years later he denied ever singing it):(I was delighted to find this clip on the Internet, as I could only remember the tune and the single line I'm freezing but I'm burning for the girl in Saskatoon! The second one was:I still love both songs today.

What was it that made songs like these special? Catchy melodies, for one. Pipe bands around the world love Green Hills of Tyrol, or The Scottish Soldier, because a parade never happens without that one! Lyrics that spoke to my romantic heart and over-active imagination, for another. I would sing The Scottish Solder, and sing the last verse v e r y s l o w l y ... in my mind, I WAS a stately lone piper piping his brave soldier home at last, or I WAS the brave but dead soldier being piped back to the hills I'd missed so very much while away soldiering. Sometimes I'd get so into it that I'd end up crying! (The Scottish Soldier still brings a tear to my eye, especially when I see swirling kilts.) Somehow, songs like these SPOKE to me.

So ... question: what was the earliest song that SPOKE TO YOU? (Cuz I'm thinking I'm not alone on this one!)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Tackle is lonely

From bad guys to religion to gold fish ... the unfolding story of my life! Always an adventure! And here's the latest ...

It almost brought tears to my eyes this morning when I sprinkled Tackle's favourite flakes across the water and then set the can down beside his tank. Tackle spotted the bright orange lid ... bright orange like his buddy Vido ... and promptly zipped across his tank and stared longingly at the lid.

"I know, little buddy, it's the same colour as Vido. I miss him too."

I think I heard a sad little fishy sigh. Or maybe the sigh came from me.

I either have to find a new tank-mate for Tackle ... Pleco's are not particularly sociable tank mates, and Chupa Chupa is especially anti-social! ... or find a nice outdoor pond where he can go swim with other gold fish. It just doesn't seem right to keep him in isolation. Even gold fish need friends!

And on a human note, who knew a person could get so attached to a darned gold fish?

Rest in Peace, Vido. And thank you for four and a half years of entertainment and good company.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

My earliest religious influences

Since my last post was about the "bad guys" I adored growing up, I thought I'd share some of my early religious (read "good guys") influences. Talk about conflicting values! Grams was PENTECOSTAL (with a capital P). Pentecostals -- like Grams -- did not associate with Catholics. Pentecostals taught their good little boys and girls that one could end up spending eternity in hell for stepping into a Catholic Church or even a Catholic home! (The ecumenical movement had not begun yet in the 1950s or 1960s, and even if it had, it certainly had not reached small town BC!) Grams said all Roman Catholics worshipped idols and drank Christian blood. This led to some serious confusion on my part. 1960. Roxy's birthday party. Red Koolaid. Needless to say, I didn't drink any of the stuff!

Grams dragged me to Church with her -- whether I protested or not, and usually I did protest vigorously -- and she did her darnedest to ensure I did not associate with non-Pentecostals (except for our Baptist friends -- they were encouraged). However, Grams was not with me every moment of my life. For example, she wasn't with me when "Mommy F" let toddler me play with her little porcelain dollies and pretty beads. ("Mommy F" was a good old-fashioned Catholic whose home was filled with Holy Statues and Rosaries. "Mommy F" taught me how to make the Sign of The Cross and kiss her pretty beads.) Grams wasn't with me when "Mom" (I had a lot of chosen mothers and grandmothers in my upbringing.) dragged me to this lovely little Catholic mission one Sunday. Okay, Protestants might want to stop reading at this point. Please know that I'm not criticizing Protestants or Pentecostals. Honest. I'm just relating my own experiences and the religious things that influenced me while I was growing up. The above lovely little Catholic mission had a huge and profound effect on me! For the very first time in my life, I walked into a church and felt a sense of peace. I felt like I had just arrived home. (I still have that feeling every time I walk into a Catholic Church today. Can't stand a lot of Catholic doctrine, but that's another story for another time.) I loved the service, even though Mass was still said in Latin and I couldn't understand the words. There were no fire-and-brimstone-preaching evangelists. There were no emotional outbursts of "tongues". Mass was like beautiful poetry to my ears, or maybe like soothing music. It's not necessary to understand the words if one listens with one's soul.

Grams wasn't usually around when I watched television. She preferred to go to bed (and get away from us) and read her Harlequin Romances. (Hmm ... do you suppose her Pastor would have approved of THAT?) My Dad and I watched television together, and he was game to watch most anything. (In those days, we only had one or two channels so there wasn't a lot of choice.) My Dad and I also went to the Public Library together, and he was game to let me read whatever caught my fancy (neither of us were interested in Harlequin Romances). One of my favourite stories was A Nun's Story, a fabulous book and 1959 movie. Oh how I wanted to go to a convent and become a Bride of Christ ... to have my horrible red hair shorn away ... to take the habit like Sister Luke / Audrey Hepburn! And I wasn't even Roman Catholic! Had my Pentecostal peers ... who also firmly believed all Catholics worshipped idols and drank Christian blood ... known my secret, they would have called a big tent prayer meeting with a dozen fire-and-brimstone-preaching evangelists just to straighten me out! Despite the danger to my immortal soul, I wanted a visit from -- indeed, a relationship with! -- the Blessed Virgin Mary like young Bernadette Soubirou in Song of Bernadette, the account of Mary's miraculous appearance at Lourdes, France in the 1850s. I kept those secret desires to myself -- "pondering" them in my heart -- and did not share my profound admiration for Sister Luke or Bernadette Soubirou with my Pentecostal peers.

And they turned out to be difficult secrets to keep! Back in the 1960s, the times they were a'changin' ...

First of all, the small and relatively homogenous BC town I grew up in experienced a new influx of immigrants. Catholic immigrants. Catholic immigrants from a European country that had experienced its own May 13, 1917 miraculous appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I already knew about that event. My Dad and I had enjoyed the 1952 black and white movie, Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima each Christmas. (I have no idea why CBC repeated that particular movie each Christmas season!) Then one May evening, our small town's new immigrants launched their very own candlelit procession in honour of Our Lady of Fatima. The first time I heard that lovely hymn, A Treze de Maio, something became very clear to me ... that adoration of Our Lady was much more than a young girls whims! However, I continued to bide in silence around my Pentecostal peers.

It all fell apart in 1970 when the Beatles released Let It Be. Now remember, I was NOT a Beatles fan. I was a Johnny Cash (and temporarily, Waylon Jennings) fan. I thought the Beatles were loud, obnoxious, and irrelevant ... until Let It Be (and maybe Yesterday). Let It Be spoke to me! Let It Be MEANT something! That song meant I could no longer keep my Catholic secrets secret. So I didn't. One Friday evening at a Pentecostal youth meeting with an open mike, I picked up my guitar and sang Let It Be. (Actually it was a rebellious duet. Shirley B., an age-peer and neighbour who was busy rebelling at her own Mennonite upbringing, performed with me.) The pastor's wife turned six shades of red and barely contained herself through the second chorus before informing me the likes of that was totally inappropriate!

And I didn't care anymore! I had finally acknowledged that I was influenced by ... indeed, WAS ... not what Grams envisioned for me. And I still am ... unique and religiously complex.

Music, movies, and TV shows in my past

No, I haven't given up on Significant Doors. I've been writing, but that writing seems to always happen long hand because I'm somewhere without my laptop when the thoughts occur. And when thoughts occur, I must write them down or they are gone forever ... either my "rememberer" doesn't work as well as it used to, or my head is simply too full! One of these days, I'll sit down and transcribe long hand Significant Doors stories onto my blog. But not today.

I've been wandering down memory lane again this past week ... does that naturally happen more frequently with the passing years?

It all started with Green River. The lyrics. Waylon Jennings sang Green River in the movie Nashville Rebel. I saw the movie three times, and also bought the LP (that's vinyl for CD in case you're too young to remember LPs) and played it over and over and over and over and over. And over. Oh my, how I LOVED that LP! Especially Green River. It recently occurred to me that I no longer remembered all of the lyrics to Green River, so I went googling for them. Lo and behold, I came across a Youtube clip of a very young (and handsome ... did I mention HANDSOME?) Waylon Jennings singing Green River from the 1966 movie! (Click the box in the top right sidebar to see and hear it.) 1966. I started eighth grade that year. You remember grade 8, don't you? Budding hormones and burgeoning teenaged angst? Take a look at the clip ... is it any wonder I was temporarily SMITTEN with Waylon Jennings? Please note, it was only temporary. My heart absolutely belonged to the one and only Johnny Cash!
Wait a minute! Did anyone else notice any similarities? The "bad boy" look perhaps? The guitar? The Brylcreemed hair? (It was the 1960s ... just before the hippy years when we let it all hang out.) Those similarities got me thinking about other handsome fellas that made my young heart skip the odd beat ... such as Pernell Roberts.
If you were a Bonanza fan back between 1959 and 1965, you'll remember him as Adam Cartwright. Oh sure, YOU were probably all ga-ga over Michael Landon's character, Little Joe ... the cute and cuddly youngest motherless Cartwright brother. Not me. I watched Bonanza to see the prickly brooding dark-haired Cartwright, Adam. And they never showed enough of him!
One of my favourite Western TV programs back when TV was still new to my family, was High Chaparral. Do YOU remember High Chaparral? 1967 to 1970 or 1971, I think. If you do remember, YOU were probably ga-ga over Mark Slade's character, young Billy Blue ... the cute and cuddly youngest motherless Cannon family member. Not me. I watched High Chaparral to see that wonderfully darkly unpredictable Manolito Montoya, played by Henry Darrow! Frustrated the heck out of me when they insisted on giving Blue all those big story lines and not my (obviously much more picturesque and interesting) Manolito!
And then there was Henry Silva! Henry also appeared on High Chaparral a couple of times as a dangerous marauding Indian. Ooh, VERY dark-haired, prickly, brooding. YOU were probably ga-ga over the HEROES in innumerable movies and TV shows. Not me. I always watched for the appearance of the bad guy ... especially in Westerns. And Henry Silva played many positively EVIL bad guys!
So where am I going with this odd walk down memory lane? Nowhere in particular. Just thinking about the heroes of my youth, the music, movies, and TV shows. Just thought I'd share.