Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Band...

Our word for today is "band" - it has many meanings. The first to come to mind is music - the camaraderie of music. People coming together to play instruments, sing, express joy. I'm not good enough to play my piano in a band, but my writing partner plays the flute and has joined a community band. I'm always amazed at the ingenuity of people who constantly create opportunities for anyone and everyone to continue doing what they love. In this case it's music.



I play very simple music on my piano. One of my favourite pieces is an old Irish folk song, The Black Velvet Band, with the lovely line, "Her hair hung over her shoulders tied up with a black velvet band." Here band is an adornment, a statement perhaps, maybe even an entrapment. I couldn't help thinking of another line from another song/poem, The Highwayman. It's a sad story, unfortunately much of what endures is sad. It is also a love story with a ghostly ending. It tells the tale of young woman who killed herself to save her lover, the highwayman. Her ghost still pines for him, as it plaits a dark red love knot (band) into its long black hair.



We mark "things" with bands - thin strips that allow us to identify or track items. We band birds, for example, even delicate insects to learn more about them. These creatures, in turn, have their own bands, stripes of colour that distinguish them from others of the same variety. We wear coloured bands on our writs to make statements - bands of gold brand us as married. Electronic bands now measure our vital signs - heartbeat, pulse rate, kinetic activity. In groups, we band together to protest, to march for what we believe in, to pressure for change or to prevent changes we fear.



"Band" may seem like a simple word, however, it is a very powerful concept, loaded with meaning and subtext. Use it wisely!

The pictures? Bands from the archives.

Have a together day!

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Separate...

Our writing word for a while now has been "separate." It may be used as the verb - to separate or the adjective, as in something set apart. I have been away for a while, separated from my usual routines, separated from the time zone of family and friends by 7 or 8 hours and separated from the goals I regularly work on.



It is disorienting. Maybe time away is necessary to re-align ourselves or to make us think anew of what we are doing or trying to achieve. I'm not sure. I'm always like a fish out of water, when I don't have the usually structures of work, family, friends, pastimes, etc. to fill my days. I then "tag along" with others and do what they do or take myself away and read or work on something "from home," such as this post.



I have to remind myself, that I am a fixed sign, a Leo, and I prefer being rooted in my own little rut, however limiting that might be, then bowing to mutable signs, who would have me leave everything behind for a new adventure. Sigh!

I have often thought that maybe adventure should be my routine - a contradiction in terms, perhaps. No, I have trouble constantly moving from place to place. There is this need to set down roots, get organized, "grow" something. It's hard to grow anything, but tired, when you are in constant motion.



I don't mind occasional separations - time away to think. But, after a brief respite, let me get back into the busy whirl of "things to do, people to see, schedules, deadlines," all those things that give meaning to the "ahhh" at the end of a day.

The pictures? Random roots.

Have a regular day!!

Monday, February 11, 2019

What a Shame......

Our writing word for today is "shame." I have heard it often. "What a shame you didn't come last week, the weather was perfect ... or you would have met so and so ... or ... the list goes on. Yes, I have had my fair share of disappointments. So many in fact, that I've had to come up with a strategy to deal with them. Here it is -



1. Decide that it was not a disappointment at all, but a reason to come back to a place in a better season or for a longer time or with one purpose in mind - to see or do a particular "thing."

2. Decide that you will not spoil the present by ruing something unpleasant in the past.

3. Decide that disappointments happen. They are part of life and you become stronger or richer because of them.



That being said, I don't plan to load up my life with disappointments, just to feel that since I have struggled, my life is fuller and richer. No, I try to make light of those "shameful" events or at least put them in perspective.



I can't let something that I did or said, or something that was said or done to me to ruin my enjoyment of the present or the future. If I caused the "shame." I try to be a better person. If someone else brought shame to me, I say, "These things happen. I'm still here." and set out to make the best of what's left.

The pictures? The best I could do for "No regrets." Life is about "You." But as a wise friend once said. "Don't take yourself too seriously." Life is still a game. You are dealt a hand, rolled the dice or moved the playing piece and now you must make the best of "it." Be your own judge and ignore what others think or say. Again it's your life. Mistakes will be made. That's a fact of life. Live with it and enjoy it.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Passage to.....

Our writing word for today is "passage." I always think of passage as a very grand word. It reminds me of long journeys by sea to distant lands. Wealthy people booked passages on steamships to the Orient. Or they took exotic train journeys, rail passages, to Istanbul.



The poor took passages too. Their journeys, though, were not as grand. For them the only luxury was to, hopefully, escape their poverty in a new land. In fact, people are still taking passages today in crowded boats, or trains and busses to again hopefully find freedom.

We often speak of a "rite of passage." These are markers in the journey of life. Some are grand and celebrated - birth, adolescence, marriage, death. Others are small, but important too - learning to skate, swim, ride a bike etc.



Always, though, with a passage there is the sense of completing something, or achieving something, of going through a trial and coming out at the end, a success. I think of tunnels as passages. I know bridges, paths, trails etc are passages too, but tunnels suggest a journey into the unknown. It's a time of darkness and ignorance and hope that we will come to some knowledge or understanding with the light at the end of the tunnel.



Some people have trouble with even the smallest or shortest of passages. I'm sure, we all have that friend, who never left home, who never graduated, never "grew up." Then there are those who constantly set themselves up for the most challenging of passages - Mt. Everest anyone?



Being a type B personality, I fall somewhere in between. I know I have to challenge myself daily or I will never grow, however, I am realistic. This does not mean that I won't run a marathon, it means, I know I have to train before I run one. I follow a group on FB called "Growing Bolder" (as opposed to growing older). They keep posting these stories of people who are achieving the most amazing goals at 70, 80, 90 & 100+

Now where are those track shoes?


Friday, February 01, 2019

Death Be Not Proud...

Our writing word for today is "Death." Well, I suppose it's important to think about the end of the story, as we read or write along. I somehow like to think, that if my life were a book, it would be a long (maybe slow) read. War and Peace comes to mind, as do these sagas written over several volumns. Then there's Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and the never ending sequels.



Thinking about Death, is not something I do on a regular basis, but I have read and remembered what others have written on the subject. Mainly I remember the poets. Poets have a way of eulogizing almost anything - I often read "To A Mouse," which contains probably the saddest lines in all literature -

"The best laid schemes o' Mice and Men gang aft agley
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain for promis'd joy."

But, I digress. I was writing about a poet's distillation of Death. Here are some of my favourites.

Because I could not stop for Death -
He Kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just ourselves -
And Immortality.

Emily Dickinson



Death be not proud, though many have called thee
Mighty and Dreadful, for thou at not so;
........
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

John Donne



and my favourite

Do not go gentle into that goodnight,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Someone asked me once, how I thought I should die. I said I just want to hit a brick wall at full speed. My mother died dancing. We were celebrating my father's 90th birthday. She was wearing her sparkly dress, her silver dancing shoes; she had her make-up on, her hair done, in fact, she looked like a million bucks at 83. After the anniversary waltz and a fast jive number, she was two steps into a tango when she died in my father's arms. We were all there to see her go. She was always a bit of an actress and I won't say it was staged, but it was a convincing performance!!



Well,  February 1 is Imolc, often celebrated in Celtic mythology as the first day of Spring - the rebirth. Ogden Nash had a great retort for someone worrying about growing older. He said, "How old is Spring, Miranda?"

The pictures? Many reasons to send flowers

Have a lively day!


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Some assembly required....

Assembly is our writing word for today. Given that I have recently assembled a few purchases from Ikea, I'm not surprised that this word, just popped into my head :) In fact, if the truth were known, I have, over the years collected (and assembled) more than my share of Billys, Gronlids, Ekeros, etc, etc.

My living space (not my life), I owe to Ikea. No, my life, I've had to assemble on my own. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of simple parts, neatly packaged with detailed instructions, to get me started, though, there were times, when I wish there had been. Oh, to unlock the mysteries of life with something as simple as an Allen's key.



No, in life, you have to write your own instructions, which may be very complicated. However, this is how discoveries are made, diseases cured, countries formed and ideas realized. Someone or some group was able to get all the parts in working order and "Eureka" - not necessarily synonymous with "Ikea," we have a wheel, insulin, a European common market and a man on the moon.... just a little assembly required :)



Somehow, I don't see myself launching someone into outer space. However, I would like to create something that is greater than a Janinge bar stool, standing in for an elevated piano bench to reach a key board raised over a radiator with the help of two Olov legs and a Besta shelf. (fig. 1)

Yes, some more complex assembly will be required, if I am going to make it past the pre-cut forms, half a dozen or so nuts, and an angled bracket or two. Wish me luck!

The pictures? Recent assemblies.

Have a "together" day!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Shadow

Our word for today is "shadow." I've written about shadows before - The shadow knows. Shadow is an old word, from the mid 1300s in Old English via Dutch and German and possibly, Greek. Such a word will have developed many meanings. Ultimately, shadow means the interruption of light by something opaque. This is its technical definition - block the sun and create a shadow. It has, however, developed a deep, emotional subtext.



To live in the shadow of a person "greater" than yourself, must be a sad existence. Always an after thought, the second to be hugged, congratulated, remembered or not, as the case may be. Some very shy people might welcome such an existence - "She didn't mind living in her husband's shadow." For others, this would be a second-hand life.

Evil has always lurked in shadows. We hide in the shade, when we have something to hide. Mysterious figures wear dark glasses to mask their eyes, their souls. Shakespeare referred to ghosts as shades, the spirit or shadow of person who once lived.


At one point, in your childhood, you discover your shadow. Some elementary school teachers build whole lessons around this discovery. In fact, for some the fascination with their shadow never ceases. I remember once reading a proviso on a photography site that accepted images for sale. The line read - Please, no pictures of the photographer's shadow.

One of my favourite lessons, when I taught Theatre Arts, was shadow plays. Somehow removing the body from the performance created something surreal. Even vignettes with hand shadows were magical.



Peter Pan lost his shadow. Does that mean he has no dark side, no lurking evils - the innocent child, forever? Then there is the enigmatic quote from Ursula Le Guin, "To light a candle is to cast a shadow."

Have a brilliant day!!