I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Friday, 29 May 2009

clean and dirty

Yesterday was an all-day session at the studio, with Uberguitarist laying down electric guitar parts for the songs. Here's where some of the tedious side of things starts to come - not tedious as in boring, but there are all these minute little changes that Tim was making to the speakers and amps and other nifty sound things that baffle me. Small adjustments make a big difference in the final sound, and to get it just right takes a lot of know-how and patience and trying different things.

The morning was the 'clean' guitar sounds, the electric (Les Paul ... I love this guitar and I don't even play) sounds with no distortion. Sustained chords for the most part, these parts can still be edited in production to get effects like the tremolo sound Tim was trying out - very cool (think the original 'Crimson and Clover' and you get the idea).

The 'dirty' guitar was next. Here's where distortion comes into play, making a grungier sound that was filling out the choruses so well and taking the songs up yet another notch. And all distortion is not created equal, so again it was adjusting, trying, changing, and trying again to get it right. UG handled some very tedious playing with his usual sense of humor and ability. He's such an asset to this project.

And boy, does it sound good. We've booked another couple of days in two weeks' time to finish (hopefully!) the guitars. The piano is being scheduled for the first tuning before its time in the spotlight. I was just sitting and listening yesterday, approving and suggesting and helping with note ideas, but my real work is coming.

Band rehearsal last night had me pretty much brain-dead, but the crew were forgiving and laughed with me, not at me.


I suppose I was laughing at myself, too.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

the divine miss m

M is nine today. When I figure out where the time goes so quickly, I will grab it and put it somewhere safe, maybe in a bottle as the song suggests.

We woke her this morning by singing 'Happy Birthday', which she listened to, smiled, then said "sleepy time!" and dove back under her covers. She's enjoyed the treat of having Grandma and Grandpa S here today, and is looking forward to a shopping trip this afternoon (carrying her new purse and wearing her new shades) before her family party at supper tonight.

Our little girl is sweet, silly, loves the spotlight and yet enjoys just sitting and playing with kids who are younger than herself. I believe this afternoon's foray will result in the addition of many pink things to our house.

Happy birthday, Meeka.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

foxy lady

I couldn't resist that title. No, it's not a self-reference.

The fox decided that this was a great local take-out place and came back a week later, again before dusk and this time heading right into the chicken coop to take two more. The hens had been out in their run, and when R went out to close them up before it got dark she found the feathers, chaos, and three very scared-looking survivors. So in just over a week, we're down seven hens. Grrr.

It was bold, to be sure, but we were thinking a mother with kits to feed. Then last night D came to the house to get hockey gear while we were out, and saw not one, but two foxes patrolling along the driveway. One made the circle around the coop, which since the last attack has been almost hermetically sealed. Plans are afoot for a sniper's nest, or napalm, or something like that.

Time to close this restaurant.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

the irony worked

Adding extra words to the song about not enough words did, in fact, make it better, however ironic it was.

When I get beyond ghost-track stage I'll post an mp3. At Tuesday night's session, the third verse was readily approved by Uberguitarist and Tim with a few little timing changes, and ended up being a sort of bridge in the middle of the two other verses. It also let me play a bit vocally, and when I heard playback I was shocked at the sound of my voice. Shocked in a good way, because I'd always wanted but never hit that particular quality. It's a very low song and hits beyond what used to be the bottom of my range, also a cool thing.

As Uberguitarist was laying down some twelve-string on one of the faster songs, I sat there listening and again marvelling at how much each additional layer of sound was bringing the song to life, how something only heard in my head is now becoming truly audible, and how Tim was able to hear all this from just the piano and vocal I first gave him.

Next week we plan a full day of studio time to start the electric guitars. I am so looking forward to that!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

another reason to be glad to live on a farm

... as if I needed one!

I am a person who needs times of solitude. It's how I recharge. But sometimes I'm glad we live out here because I'm glad nobody can see me make a fool of myself. Is there a story here? Of course.

Yesterday I set out to mow the lawn. Our tractor has four attachments for the back: the grader blade (smoother of potholes), the snowblower ('nuff said), the brush cutter (big nasty hacker and slicer for rough terrain and shrubs, used for clearing fields and paths through dense growth), and the lawn mower (like a push mower, but much bigger, used on our lawns). These attach to the tractor via a hitch system of one central and two side points.

Aligning these is always fun. This assumes you define "fun" as "annoying shifting of a big tractor back and forth until it lines up the little hole in the hitch to the little post on the attachment and oh, I just missed it again and ah! there it goes, now to line up the other two and oh, moving the tractor now also moves the attachment. lovely"

Once that is done, the powered implements also have a drive shaft that connects the tractor's PTO (power take off) to the slicing blades of doom. This was, I believe, designed by the Institute of Making Things Difficult and Potentially Embarrassing. Straddling the drive shaft, bending way into the tractor and connecting the things without being able to see it is always good for a few laughs.

So yesterday, feeling very purposeful, I unhooked the grader and proceeded to grunt and groan my way through attaching the mower. Just to up my multitasking, I also fed the local blackfly population. The things were swarming everywhere. R was a huge help but I did still have to do some heavy lifting and somehow got a pretty nasty bruise on my palm. But, success! I got things fired up and set out to cut the lawn.

Then I realized I'd hooked up the brush cutter.

Monday, 18 May 2009


I have shifted from hot rage (Friday, post-carnage) to cold revenge. If that sounds sinister, maybe the fox is reading this and is now shaking in his mangy fur and oh yes, I do mean you. Watch your back, buddy, or your hide may end up as a little throw rug. Mwahahaaaaa.

The hen who I expected to die the first night has surprised me by slowly recuperating, eating and even laying an egg. She's being kept separate from the others for now, in case her bare skin is too much for the others' curiosity and they decide to start pecking. They can be nasty to each other. The other four seem normal and were hopeful about going outside the next day. There's a reason their heads are so small; their brains don't retain anything.

Today is Victoria Day, and in honor of the queen I plan to mow my lawn. Not sure how that ties in, but I'm sure I can find a way. I'll have to wrestle with the tractor to hook up the mower for the first time this year and choose my mowing areas to avoid any remaining soft ground (mired tractors are just no fun. No fun at all. Or so I've heard), but the grass is getting long and thick out there.

Friday, 15 May 2009


I am a pretty level-headed person. I have a fairly long fuse, I think. I don't go looking for conflict.

So when I heard R shout and run outside, calling Sam to join her, I was surprised at the change that I underwent when I ran out to see the cause of her yelling. I caught the words "a fox!" and ran outside. Piles of feathers dotted the lawn, and hens lay in the piles, not moving. "No, no, no," I kept saying as I ran across the grass. One of the hens moved as I went to her and realized she wouldn't make it. I had to make it quick for her and gritted my teeth, apologized to her, and did it. One more was found on the driveway, one in the garden by the house. By. The. House. She was breathing very badly when we got to her, and died while I held her. Three hens, gone like that, with no attempt to eat them. Just killed, then on to the next one.

I wanted nothing more than that fox viewed through the sights of a gun and hoped to chase, but of course it knew playtime was over when Sam entered the scene and made a quick getaway. I have not felt so furious for a long, long time. Anger at the fox (and concern: in daylight? Within the circle of the house and barns? Just killing, not taking away to eat? Too bold, much to bold for my liking) and anger at myself. We'd kept them in the run lately after two hadn't returned, and I thought a little time out for an hour or so couldn't hurt them as they'd stay close to the buildings. Wrong.

The five survivors were rounded up, though one of them isn't looking too good and I don't expect her to make it through the night. Two are unaccounted for. I know it's a part of farm life. It's a part I don't really like.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

and back to life on the farm

There! Done with the poems. Glad I posted them, but real life has been continuing on its merry way.

The new batch of chicks arrived yesterday, fourteen little peeping balls of fluff with bright dark eyes and dainty little toes. We called them the chicken nuggets and reminded the girls the rules about these birds: no cute names! They are currently living in a washtub with a heat lamp over it to keep them at the required 32-33C. I change the paper towel under them multiple times each day (and I thought you had to change babies a lot? No comparison.) and keep their food and water clean and available. Until they feather out, they'll need pretty consistent monitoring.

And in 10 weeks we'll eat them. Still strikes me as strange.

Spring has continued as usual, the blackflies emerging and the June bugs (shudder) smashing into my window screen last night. The grass is thick and the ground too soft for the tractor to venture onto the lawn yet.

I got it the other day, though: I walked out at 6am in hopes of finding a chicken who hadn't returned the night before (no luck. two gone in the last couple of weeks. trap is set but no results yet). The sun was just cresting over the trees, diffused through the mist that hung in a band across the fields. With only birdsong and the rush of the creek for sound, I just stood and looked for a while and got my "aaaah" moment of spring.

last of the poems

One phrase our little writing group worked with was "when we were in Rome". That one piqued my attention because of an earlier journal entry about how my thoughts often seemed to wend their way back to JB and that it seemed that all roads did lead to 'Rome'. It became a word between me and goaliemom that meant talking and remembering about him, little reminiscences that we shared.

So the seeming vacation bent of the phrase was left behind by me, and it became something else. This one was, I think, my favorite in a poignant way.

When in Rome

seems I can't escape
the need to tell you
what it all means
but then I've not quite got it yet

so here we are again
same place, different time
trying to pin it down
and failing gloriously

but isn't Rome about glory?
and don't all roads lead here?
grand avenues, twisting alleys
boulevards on which you simply must be seen

so here we are again
thought we were going away from it
when we were in Rome
things made sense, somehow

I strike out in new directions
running madly anywhere else
but wait, around the corner,
is that Rome up ahead?

so here we are again
and I know you're waiting
as I look down a road
wondering if it leads, finally, out

August 2006

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

deep thought of the moment

words are often our attempt to quantify that which can't be.

new day

Last night at the studio I looked at Tim and Uberguitarist and said, "ok, guys, you do realize that having to write more words for a song about not being able to find words is pretty ironic, right?"

It was a strange balance to strike. But I think I nailed it. After a good night's sleep, I woke and bashed what may well be the third verse for "Something New" out of my head. Some tweaking may still happen and I honestly don't know where the tune will go, but lyrically it does add and completes the thought in a way that has me quite happy.

To continue on in my posting of little poems, there was this one from the phrase "a glimpse of the wilderness". I cheated on this one and never actually used the phrase, but instead wrote out paired descriptions of things that called the phrase to mind. It's not my favorite but I did like some of the imagery.

A Glimpse of the Wilderness

down a dirty alleyway
along country lanes
through strands of trees
and manicured lawns
in fleet-footed deer
and pedigreed purebreds
in cattail-laden ponds
on clipped golf fairways
in the disarray of a field of flowers
and the careful symmetry of tulips
in rocky, craggy angularity
and smooth green knolls
in tart wild berries
and sanitized, homogenized excuses for food
in the eyes of one who has seen too much
and the smile of a child

Sept 2006


Good night at studio.

Acoustic 6-string tracks done. Twelve string next, then electric and a few other goodies.

Found vocal coach who will whip me into shape, vocally speaking. Very excited.

'Something New' needs another verse. Trying to get my head on that one. May have it.

Partial sentences all I'm capable of right now.

Sleep time.

Monday, 11 May 2009

more from the poet

From the phrase "a blue suitcase" I conjured up a lady who remembers. This is as close as I come to making a story. I do vignettes, scenes. No plot lines; I leave that to those more able *cough* Seren *cough*.

I did like this one.

A Blue Suitcase

she sits quietly,
taking it all in
with a distant smile
and more distant eyes
a blue suitcase
perched on her lap
worn, battered, the hasps bent
showing its life of travel
as the lines in her face
show her own

you can't see it
but inside, held by yellowing tape
a postcard
a memory
a sunlit beach
when she was young and in love
but now she sits
watching others in their prime
enjoy the fleeting sip of sweet wine

they feel immortal
that time moves on, changing all
she was once there
laughed, and loved,
not the mere frailty
that sits,
taking it all in
hugging a blue suitcase
and remembering him

Sept 7, 2006


The weekend with its visit from goaliemom and B was wonderful. Time with them always is. They had a birthday party for their six nieces and nephews who live here, which delighted the kids, but the girls just enjoyed being with them too.

Yesterday was Mother's Day and my request for the day was to go skeet shooting. Clays and shotgun shells were bought, the throwers set up in the field, and we proceeded to blast over 100 clays to bits. Fun, though a few did get away. I'm getting good at hitting the singles, but the doubles (having to fire at one, pump the gun to load the next shell, then shoot the second one that's already airborne) still elude me. On the way back into the house D reminded me that I do still love some girlie things when he slipped me an envelope with a gift certificate to a spa. What a guy.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

my inner poet

I like to write. I can't create storylines (tried. can't.), but I can write descriptively. At least, I enjoy reliving ideas to try to capture the fragments of a moment in some words. That's the extent of my prose and the substance of most of this blog.

A couple of years back Seren, Eek and I spent a few weeks throwing phrases at each other as a writing exercise. One of us would choose a phrase, perhaps something abstract or something that seemed commonplace - and that phrase was to be the starting point of a free-written poem that we shared with the others. The goal was to just write, and it was interesting as some of the poems ended up going in directions I wouldn't have thought before I started writing.

I stumbled across the four poems I wrote that September, so I feel like posting them here. Then they shall be as immortalized as anything can be on the tenuous threads of the internet. Not quite carved in stone, but at least off my hard drive.

The first phrase was: "questions without answers".

Questions without answers
Unbidden, come to mind
All it seems I most desire
Is gone,
Behind a wall of my own making

As rustlings and whimperings echo
Asking, always asking
But never satisfied.
Why, who, what - all is empty
So the echoes continue

I call, I beckon to something
That eludes me
I scream, I cry out
But it does not obey
Did it ever listen?
Will I ever learn?

Or worse: will I give up?
To strive, to fight is life
Apathy is the slow descent
Into mere existence, a shadow
Of what should be

So I fight. I scream.
I ask.

Sept 2006

Thursday, 7 May 2009

something else new

Most days I just go along, thinking "whatever" as to my looks. I have a wonderful husband who makes me smile by calling me his "red-hot smokin' wife" and that is all the confirmation I need. It's not like the chickens care. They just wonder if I've brought them some lettuce or tomatoes.

So this week was really fun. I got impulsive on Tuesday and called the hair place for my once a year haircut (sad, I know) and got cool coppery streaky highlights put in. But the real change was my defiance of every study on computer games that I've ever read. Since playing World of Warcraft in the evenings instead of watching TV, I have - get this - lost weight. A full size, at least. Yeah.

Bottom line is, since I've been playing, I haven't been snacking (and oh, the snacks - baguette dipped in olive oil, mmmm). So while I will admit that the real reason my pants were getting looser is the combination of more physical activity (hello, spring!) and the essential elimination of my after-supper snacking, it amuses me to credit a computer game. And so I do.

Last night we went out for Thai food with Seren, RSH, and B&E. Nice dinner, much fun and laughs, and a great excuse to dress up. And I LOVE this pic of us!!!

Today I'm back to sweats and a tshirt. The chickens are calling.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

something new

Studio time last night was amazing. Uberguitarist finished acoustic tracks for 4 or 5 songs, getting most of them in a couple of takes with the occasional "punch in". This is one of the fun things about digital recording; if the take was great except for one or two little parts, we go back afterward and Tim starts the playback a few bars before then wipes the old part as a new one is added. It's like cut-and-paste sound. A few hours' work and things were sounding great.

Then we did a scratch track of the new song I've worked up. Uberguitarist and I had never played it together before, so one runthrough was for Tim to hear it as well as for us to figure out the structure. And it did, indeed, make the cut. The twelfth song on the CD will be the aptly-named "Something New". Simplest song I've ever written, short and low in my range so it ends up sort of husky/jazz sounding - and I loved it. Tim and Uberguitarist both thought it was awesome and I surprised myself by actually liking the sound of my voice on the first rough take. We might use the classical guitar on this one, since the almost medieval-sounding guitar will have that rich, mellow sound.

Aaaah. Feels good.

Monday, 4 May 2009

wish you could hear it

Dad, this post is for you!

On Thursday night I pulled out the old guitar at band rehearsal and Uberguitarist plugged it in, just for a quick sample of the sound.

A bit grungy, and bluesy. What you might call a raunchy sound, though your choice of words might depend upon whom you're talking to. For example, I probably wouldn't describe it to the queen that way. I don't think she's a guitarist, anyhow.

I love it. Thanks for the loan, Dad.

New tuning hardware is on order; the tuning pegs are the original 1955 plastic and with any turning are likely to crumble into space age plastic powder. The new hardware is reproduction, in a nickel finish, and will make the guitar tunable and playable, while saving the vintage ones to keep the guitar valuable.

Tonight it's off to the studio to start the acoustic tracks.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

i hate when that happens

Yesterday started out well enough, with plans for the evening all figured out to accommodate R to youth group, multiple errands, and maybe even some mini golf for D and I with the younger girls.

All was set to go, I was doing a little playing online (World of Warcraft. Yes, I play that. Where else could I get to swing a sword like that and not break something or get arrested?) and chatting with my brother and a friend when I saw the type get blurry. Focus was going and I couldn't make out the words. Oh, goody. Migraine. I signed off, took the max dose of tylenol or whatever pain-eradicating stuff we have (I was trusting R on this one as I couldn't read the label), and went to bed. An hour later I woke up and, thankfully, had averted the worst of it.

I get a true migraine once, maybe twice a year. The vision thing is a little strange (apparently a very normal symptom, they call it an aura. So I do have an aura of something about me, no? heehee) but I do appreciate the early warning that lets me head off the worst of it. If I drug & nap while the vision thing is going on and before the actual headache slams into my brain, I can avoid the bulk of the misery.

The evening plans got pared down to dropping R off, picking up D from work, then coming home. But I did manage one errand that will make life lovely - picked up some very heavy car parts that D and a great guy from our church will use to make the Subaru drivable again! Oh joy, oh bliss!

Life with two vehicles. Strange after 3 months, but I'm willing to give it a shot.