Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

30 April 2006

"The Whiffenpoof Song (Baa! Baa! Baa!)"

Obviously we are now in the 'stupid college songs' section. Yesterday's number was boring and mediocre, this is just silly. Maybe that's the point. Don't make me sing this again.

Finally the Chopin piano piece that I've been working on is coming together. My goal is to get it 'passed' this Tuesday at my piano lesson, moving on to a new Debussy piece that I'd like to do. It's an interesting process, learning a piece. Everything seems to go through a phase where I don't want to work on it at all, but then I come back, and new insights do somehow develop while I'm on vacation from it. Today I was warming up with a sonatina that I learned last year, and I realized that it's still a thrill, playing a piece like this relatively well. I remember hearing people playing these pieces in the practice rooms at college, where I was at the absolute bottom of the heap. The thrill has not worn off, to be able to play something 'real' myself, like the thrill hasn't worn off to be able to sing through my break point. A lot of my own skills or gifts I do take for granted, limited and boring as they are. It's nice to be doing something that demonstrates my progress even to my own eyes.

29 April 2006

"The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi"

This song, thematically, makes more sense when one knows that it was written in 1912. A simpler age, in some ways. I can't imagine a young woman being entirely flattered in this day and age to be the 'Sweetheart of Sigma Chi'. Not that I personally know any Sigma Chis, maybe they put women on pedestals, bring them flowers daily, treat them very well indeed. Prove me wrong.

About a thousand years ago a friend of mine wrote a song, 'Only Animals'. It was a fabulous song to dance to, and we played very much to the animals theme: crawling over one another, growling, howling. At the time, and even more so later, I knew that we were demonstrating something of the truth of the song, which referred to humans as animals in a less than positive sense. Humankind should be more than animals, more than knee-jerk reactions, more than survival of the fittest, more than me-or-you, kill your children to feed my own. We kept howling away. But that final line stuck with me, I can still hear and see Mike singing it: 'prove me wrong'.

28 April 2006


If my name were Margie, I would be glad to have a song written about my name, I would be ok with it being this song. If that were the only thing to consider, I'd have to say that I'm very ok with my name *not* being 'Margie'. This song doesn't inspire a name change, to say the least.

It's weirdly exhausting to be a parent. Lately our daughter has seemed a little anxious about school, and we are insanely sensitive to her anxiety. We talk to her about what's going on, deliberately striking the balance between casual and concerned. We talk to her teacher. We talk to each other. We talk to her again, making suggestions. It's an education to realize that this went on with my parents as well: they considered me, discussed my life, made decisions about their own behavior relative to mine. I know that it was different for them, of course. They had five children to my one, and they were different people than my husband and I, but still, my life affected theirs in ways that I can only suspect now, as a parent myself. It's a bit creepy, really, and strangely touching all at the same time.

There really is no way to fully explain the adventures of growing older, at any stage. Like so many other things--pregnancy, birth, death, marriage--our experience will be entirely unique. We listen to other people, trying to extrapolate, but it never quite works. All the butterfly wing factors are different, by small and large bounds, and the outcome is ultimately unpredictable. I hold onto the thought that it still helps to know that someone else survived this: survived birth, growth, marriage, and death; surely I can do it as well.

27 April 2006

"The Gang That Sang 'Heart of My Heart'"

'Heart of My Heart' is an entirely different song, popular in its day, apparently, and not included in this collection, or the last one that I sang from. This song was really fun to sing, somehow capturing a real 'Barber Shop' era feel. I sang it through more times than I usually sing something, at least a half dozen times, which is a compliment in itself.

Today was a bad day. Lots of things made me want to cry, and for a long time, I didn't. I started to think about what that meant, the not-crying. I continue to learn a lot from my daughter: she remembers so much--which makes me realize how full my own brain is. She has an emotional immediacy that is often inappropriate to my adult eyes. But today I wondered about that: what if my own tendency to ignore emotions, turn them away again and again in order to accomplish my daily tasks, 'be mature'--maybe that's what's screwed up. Would it make a difference if I meditated, let my emotions come to the surface fully, before watching them fade away? My husband asked if I could do both, function in daily tasks, and meditate.

I don't know. I do know that I finally did cry, and I don't know that that made things better. Having my daughter show me caring, sympathy, love--that helped. So did the chocolate peanut butter chip cookies, and my husband coming home as a ray of cheerful light, as promised.

My moods pass: maybe that's all I need to know. Maybe that's why it's ok to attempt to function in the meanwhile, why crying is ok, why needing love and attention is ok in the moment. It's like a grand experiment where the journey is the question, the unknown and ever-new, while the outcome is assured.

26 April 2006

"Let Me Call You Sweetheart (I'm In Love With You)"

This must be the waltz section. This one was a little less interesting than the last two, but it still works. I wouldn't kick it out of bed. Maybe.

Today in my voice lesson we were working on 'Lover Man' (which was also sung by the Communards? or so my husband tells me). A perfect song for the 'inner slut' exercises. Beth pointed out that a million people can sing a song well, and I know this to be true myself. So what makes a song really work: When it's believable. When the audience is moved. When it's well acted. I'm really hoping that I can pull this off. She said for this one that I should be able to sing it and have everyone who hears it ready to take me to bed. What a great fantasy. Who doesn't want to be wanted by all and sundry? Sometimes especially sundry. And certainly especially as I'm about to hit forty.

This had me thinking about random desire for my person, and I just don't get it. It's out there sometimes, I've seen it, even recently, but what other people seem to find sexually attractive about me is not what I would have chosen myself. I would say the way I move, or my sensuality, or the fact that I just like people. But I'm not sure that any of those are what draws my husband to me, and unfortunately it wouldn't be appropriate to ask anyone else. So it just leaves me wondering, and fantasizing that maybe if I sing this song right, I will have some experience of the direct relationship between action and the creation of desire.

Realistically, I'll probably be doing ok if I just don't flub the song entirely. And although I have a very small piano audience in my piano group, I don't have anything like that for my singing. The dining room walls may be veritably dripping with longing, but that's likely to be about it.

25 April 2006

"Cruising Down the River (On A Sunday Afternoon)"

It's both dated and insulting that the composers of this piece are referred to as 'two middle-aged lady musicians'. This may not be the best song ever, or the most profound, but still--they did win a songwriting contest with this tune. When I'm mentally lazy, I get this song confused with 'In the Good Old Summertime', since they're both waltzes.

I'm thinking about waltzes these days, thinking about waltzing at my birthday party, and if it would be possible to set up an outdoor dance floor in my front yard, perhaps under a tent. This would also be part of the 'Damn Bar is Finally Closed' celebration.

I do spend a lot of effort in planning my parties, and this one requires relatively little work, all in all. The Lord of the Rings party required months of preparation, weeks of painting, not to mention the sewing of multiple costumes, and wrapping of mathoms. Compared to that, all I really have to do for this one is maybe string up some lights and think of a theme drink. And make a dress. I could whip that together overnight, if necessary.

I've already gotten responses from a lot of out of town friends and family members, and I'm so excited to have them come here for this. Someone pointed out that 'You're not even dead! Or getting married, or anything!' No cantoring necessary, though I'm hoping that we'll all get drunk enough to sing. Not too drunk, though, I'd like to keep it to the level of much fun without vomiting, appropriately mature, in my eyes, for a fortieth birthday party. My goals for impending adulthood: no vomiting, minimal glass breakage, partying to a respectable hour of 2AM or so. Sleeping in the next morning: priceless. Someday, that reference alone will irrevocably date me.

24 April 2006

"For Me And My Gal"

Today we start a new section, 'Golden Favorites: Old-Time Fun and Harmony'. I'm thinking that means something important, somehow. This song was featured in Gene Kelly's first movie, and that's important here since he was a home-town boy. Pittsburgh still has movies filmed here, with our varied landscape we can fake a lot of different places, and the cost of living is not high. This song: so-so. I wouldn't throw it out, I wouldn't seek it out.

It is true that I've never been so interested in gals, and there was a time in my youth, and not-so-youth, that I thought that I absolutely should be attracted to both sexes. Some of my very best friends are bi-sexual, after all. But I never could be interested in women other than as good friends. That's all because men are so absolutely interesting to me. A little too interesting, perhaps, during my first marriage. I can never quite forgive myself for that, for what I did. But my first husband forgave me, in the end, and that did help. I've never been really tempted with the current model, he's kept me on a bit of a short lease, in a way, without being at all possessive, and that has been a winning combination. Although I've promised him that I wouldn't write here about him directly, I can write from my own point of view in a more limited way. He doesn't read my blog very often either, I try not to mind that.

It does get me thinking about point-of-view in a more general sense: how it limits us, and frees us, to experience the world in a unique way. And how it doesn't matter so much, in the end. There is just entirely too much information to take it, too many points of view articulated too clearly. Too much information, indeed.

23 April 2006


I would never have known this song from the title, I don't think I ever heard the words, and had certainly never sung them. But the melody in its entirety was familiar, and it's good to sing. It uses the bottom end of my register more, which is nice, since that's something I'm working on in my voice lessons as well ('discover your inner slut'). This song's original text is in Italian, unfortunately not included here. I do now have a version of 'Stardust' with the French lyrics, though, and in a lower key. Fun upon fun indeed.

Today I ran a 10K race that went quite well. I did not win, alas, but the storm clouds from earlier in the morning had blown away, and Spring was beautifully sprung and scenic. The race was run along a section of the local Montour Trail. This trail will eventually be 47 miles long, 40 of these are open for business currently. Last fall I did a couple races on the Panhandle Trail, which intersects this trail a bit farther up than I was today. I'm really liking these trail runs. Part of the rails-to-trails conversions, the trails are mostly flat, with a good surface, and very well maintained. Today I even got to run through a rather long tunnel--twice, since it was an out-and-back race. The dark coolness in there gave me quite a boost. Eventually we'll be able to go all the way from Pittsburgh to DC along trails, which will be great. Now that my daughter has started to ride a real bicycle, I feel optimistic about doing some family biking/hiking/camping in this system.

This particular race today, the 6th Annual Burgh's Pizza & Wing Pub 10K/2K Fun Walk, was a keeper. A well run race, with the new-to-me 'collapsible trail cooler' as my race souvenir. (Think 'insulated lunch box'.) I also got the somewhat ubiquitous water bottle (this one was yellow), and the very odd box of tea. Even better, and new to me, was the huge spread of food post-race: wings, fries, sandwiches, and a selection of beers. I told my husband later that this would be a good 10K to run next year, for that alone.

One last running comment: I invite all other runner-readers to join me in the 'Smiling Runners' club. Surely one can work up the energy to give a quick grin to other runners, especially on an out-and-back, beautiful day, happy trail race like this. Most people just look so darn serious, and this is surely more fun than that, or why do it at all?

22 April 2006

"Theme From Love Story (Where Do I Begin)"

I think I overcame some of the cliche of this song today, singing it. There is a part of me that remembers the repetitive accompanyment and it's not a pleasant memory. It was also more difficult to sing than I would have guessed. All that jumping back and forth. I'm also not sure about the text. Would this song be helped or hurt if I had seen, or did see, the movie? The jury is still out on this one.

The older I get, the more carefully I shop. I don't always have time to clip coupons, though that's part of it. I still gravitate towards sale signs, or clearance notices. I usually have a list, and I don't detract a whole lot from it.

But these days I also think more about politics when I shop. I think about what I know of this store's political leanings (I never shop at Walmart, or buy pizza from Domino's). What is their stand on environmental issues? (I quite like this one Thai-style noodle thing, but I never purchase it because it's so highly over packaged. Having recyclable or minimal packaging is a plus, and glass is better than plastic even if it is heavier.) Was this shirt made by a child, or adult, in a sweat shop overseas? (I'm still trying to figure out how to determine this, but it's gotten me more interested, again, in making my own clothes as well.)

On the plus side, I like shopping at Aveda, Whole Foods, my local Co-op--in fact, local stores and non-chain stores that can give me what I want are always worth it to me. I'll buy yarn from a local shop rather than order it, if I can. I think about it, about what my actions support.

Of course the next obvious step is to not purchase so much, to scale down my life. I become very disturbed when I think of how much trash we as a family put out on a weekly basis. But to not have things? I'm not ready to go there. I love my stuff. I'm not ready to become a Zen Buddhist like my brother and sell all my possessions on eBay, thereby making it nearly impossible for anyone to buy presents for me forever. I like presents. I like stuff. I'm not ready to become a monk.

For now, I'm going to concentrate on making my buying mean something, if only to me. When my actions correspond most closely to my values, then I am living the life that makes sense. The lines between politics and spirituality blur in good ways.

21 April 2006

"Pass Me By"

A lovely, jaunty little tune, written for Cary Grant, of all people. A song I didn't know, but one I was happy to learn. Given my mood today, it fit just fine, with its 'take me or leave me the heck alone' attitude. Let's all sing.

Today is my husband's birthday--but don't worry, you didn't really miss it. He's not much attached to his birthday, uncomfortably un-attached, from my point of view. I believe that birthdays are the opportunity we have yearly to celebrate people that we care about. (I have been lax in recent years in sending cards, but I'm doing my best to get back into the swing of it, please forgive me if I missed yours.) There is much cause for celebration. But today, for him, at his request, no party, no dinner out, no crazy gifts (I gave cash towards his new tattoo), just pizza and beer.

Not for me. Don't miss mine. Did I mention the whole turning forty thing? Don't, indeed, pass me by.

20 April 2006

"Pennies From Heaven"

It was very nice to properly learn more than the title tune for this song, and the brief description made me interested to even see the movie. This song is sweet, in a good way. I'm not sure what I think of the sentiment, but it just goes to show that the tune can make the text less critical.

Kind of odd to have such a positive thing to say, when my mood has hit rock bottom this evening. I think I'm going to leave it at that. I made a promise to myself to not get overly maudlin, why push it, it's late, sleep usually helps.

19 April 2006


What an entirely uninspiring song to restart my singing. Ugh. Let's put this song--which I did not know previously--into the collection with 'Tara's Theme' of 'Instrumental Songs that Someone Insanely Put Words To'. And then let's burn all the words.

Years ago we had an iguana. I loved him--presuming that it was a him, I never could be really sure. I remember going to get him at the pet store, and this was before we had a car, so we carried him back on the bus in a cardboard box. We even had to transfer. Neither of us had ever had a reptile (my mom was decidedly against them) but we had done our homework the best that we could, and we were as prepared as one could be, I think. We started him in a small fish tank, then moved up to a fifty gallon tank, and eventually I built him a 4 ' x 2' x 8' high enclosure of wire mesh and 2x4s, with a large heated rock and a heat lamp (it took up most of our dining room, in a very small house). Psyandar (that's him) grew to be six feet long, and relatively active. He would escape occasionally, and we'd find him sunning on a window ledge; in the summer he would climb the screen back door. We were very glad that he and the cat never harmed one another. It was always a little unnerving picking him back up: his claws were sharp, but his tail was even more deadly, and it was fully half his overall length, his swinging it back and forth was a powerful weapon.

The last move to the cage was probably not for the best, though at the time it seemed a good thing. But our house was never warm enough, and although he survived that last winter, he never quite got the hang of eating again. We force fed him vegetable juice near the end, but he died in the two weeks before we moved into the new house we had bought. We buried him in a cardboard box in the front yard. My husband drew a picture of him as a lizard angel flying up into the sky, and us waving to him.

I miss him, and someday I'd like to try again with an iguana. It was nice to see them wild in the Virgin Islands last summer. Next time I'd purchase a better made final living enclosure, something where he/she could be kept warm through the Pittsburgh winter.

When Psyandar was unhappy--or when we imagined him as unhappy--he would tip back his head and open and close his mouth. We would tap him gently on the nose, and his tongue would dart out to lick our fingers.

Today, I felt a lot like making the unhappy lizard mouth. I resisted, but that's where I was. I feel a little better after felting my hedgehog. Life is full of small changes, little pleasures possible everywhere.

18 April 2006

(Out Sick)

Sorry, breathing and singing still an issue. But I'm on the upswing, as I thought, so things should be better yet tomorrow.

17 April 2006

(Out Sick)

Yesterday it was possible to croak through a song, today it's too hard, the breathing, the throat thing. If I get a good night's sleep tonight--didn't happen last night--I think tomorrow might be better. I will sing then.

16 April 2006


This was a movie song that Maurice Chevalier made famous, though I've certainly never heard of it. In the accompanying text they do mention the fact that there always seems to be a name song in the popular consciousness. I did try to think of what the contemporary song would be today, but my decongestant-addled brain is not working all that well. It does seem like I'm not dying, though, and merely have a cold.

Today my daughter took large leaps towards learning to ride her bike without training wheels. I felt almost as thrilled as she was. This is the third day straight that my husband has had her out practicing, and her progress has been exponential. I imagine by the end of this week she will barely be able to remember when she didn't know how to ride.

I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was twelve, and it was a bit traumatic to not know up until then. Living in the country, we didn't have ended stretches of paved surfaces, or sidewalks, to help with bike riding. The gravel road outside my parents's home was too unnerving, and this was a long time before mountain bikes were readily available.

I did learn eventually, though it wasn't until college that I came to love biking. Inspired by my boyfriend, I borrowed a friend's mountain bike for the winter, and rode everywhere on it, though snow and ice and bitter cold (thanks again, Liz!). When Liz took her bike back in the spring, I put a down payment on a bike of my own, a sweet little dark green Cannondale mountain bike. It seemed to take forever to pay for it; I finally did so with the help of my friend, John. I immediately hopped on the bike, and went to DC, from State College, Pennsylvania.

Ok, I did hitchhike most of the way, since I was in no shape to bike that far. That was a challenge all on its own, but it did start my adventures with my bike on a good note. I've thought a couple times through the years that I should upgrade somehow, but I've never been able to give up this bike, and there's probably not much reason why I should. I named her 'Artemis', and I used to joke that she was the dearest thing to get between my legs. Until I was pregnant, I rode my bike everywhere, and I've missed it very much. Having my daughter learn to ride a bike herself feels like a gift to me, too. Not only can I share in her joy of accomplishment, but I sense many family trips on bicycles coming very soon.. . .

15 April 2006


This song is tricky to sing because of the inherent pauses in the phrases, I wonder how the decision was made to handle that in its initial recording or performance, whether the composer had any say in the process, or if it was up to the performer.

Here, I'm inclined to say, it's all up to the performer. Maybe some infinite Being does talk to some people directly, maybe She communicates with me. I am listening, maybe I'm even responding, adjusting my actions according to some inner sensation that initially comes from a Deity. But consciously I'm just trying to do my best, be the best person I can, raise my daughter well, be a good friend, and wife, and sister, and daughter. If the Goddess speaks to me through my intuition, more power to her. I like the subtlety of it. If we're on our own, to make or break the world, it serves us right if we screw it up.

People have said that we're screwing up the world for thousands of years, though. I think we've gotten better at it, mind you, but it's not a new theme.

[Still sick, though I did finish my race. It was challenging near the end, though my time wasn't too bad. Driving home felt a bit unsafe, though. My jacket was not waiting for me at the finish line, nor was anyone from the organization sponsoring said jacket. That sucks. I'm going to call them on Monday. Meanwhile, buffalo burgers on the grill: my spring recommendation.]

14 April 2006

"A Time For Us"

I love this song, which may put me in a minority. It's the theme from Franco Zeffirelli's 'Romeo and Juliet', and I have fond memories of watching this very beautiful movie. I've always liked the song words from the movie better, they sound more Elizabethean, or Medieval, but these words are ok too.

I'm still feeling a bit low today, like something is moving through my system uncomfortably, but without any spewing of any kind. Tomorrow is my last race of the infamous set of five, and I'm nervous that I won't really be up for it, but I'm going to bed very early, and I'll give it my best shot. All I have to do is finish, and I think I can do that.

So wish me luck. Finally, the jacket is almost within my grasp--just when it's getting too warm here to need it.

13 April 2006

"Mona Lisa"

This song was really fun to sing, and I'm not sure if it was all those series of eighth notes, or if just having 'Mona Lisa' in a title reminds me of how much I love to sing in Italian, how fun vowels can be. Play it again, Sam.

Tonight I'm feeling rather ill, so I'll be brief. I am so very grateful for our new dishwasher, for another relatively pleasant day with my daughter home, for beginning a fun new crochet project, for the fact that my computer was not, indeed, fried, as it first appeared to be, after we lost our electricity last night during a thunderstorm. (A new surge protector is tops on my list, since the one I have appeared to not work. Luckily, only the power cord was toast. It would be depressing to no end to need yet another new-to-me computer.)

Ah, having a fever! The very uncomfortable and yet still interesting sensation of being weirdly altered. Here's hoping it disappears by morning.

12 April 2006

"Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo"

This song is very bittersweet for me, I associate it with two of my aunts, both long dead. One of them, and I can't remember which, had a music box that played this. It's a very sweet and gentle little piece, and it makes me sad.

I'm struggling with my flaws. No, that's not an accurate description: I'm struggling with my dark places. I look at myself sometimes and I think: am I stuck? I make assumptions about what I can and cannot do, and I sense that some of these are based on nothing more than habit. Is this true for all of these things? I question my ability to have the willpower and strength to find new pathways for my actions and re-actions, or to do that hardest thing of all: be flexible in the moment to chose the right path, easy or difficult or somewhere in between.

When I am dealing with my own jealousy, or anger, or frustration, I do one of three things. I may become a martyr, which never lasts for very long, since I have no patience with it. But sometimes this is still a knee jerk reaction, and it slips through my guard. Oh, poor me, look at what my life has brought me, alas. I guess there's no hope.

Just shut up! The second, and thankfully more likely reaction is to try to accept the results of my choices, usually a whole long series of choices that have brought me to this moment. I keep breathing, keep going down all the corridors of choice in my head, how to react, what feels fair, various rationalizations sometimes, back track and try again, keep breathing. Sometimes this helps a lot, it does calm me. I think of new viewpoints that help ease my frustration. Time also helps with this option: sometimes I just need time to get over it, for goodness sake.

Sometimes this also seems like a copout. The choice involving the most energy and bravery sometimes seems to be the most creative: how can I change this situation, adapt it, warp it? This sometimes means that I get what I want, sometimes it means that I must actively seek a lot more information, and this may result in finding an extremely different angle to view the landscape. It always involves more from me: more intelligence, more leaps of faith into my own process and abilities. Because it can involve so much, I don't think that it's always the right choice, either. Practicalities of life and time do intrude, and it's not inappropriate to have those as boundaries.

Through it all, I hate the moments where my chest hurts with trying to breathe, when it's just hard. Sometimes then, it's good to sleep.

11 April 2006

"I Will Wait For You"

This song has such fabulous schmaltz. I was prepared to find it too much so, but I still really enjoyed singing it. It was originally in French, by the way. Today, while singing it, I also felt like I was starting to hear myself better, hear how action translated into sound even more. I am encouraged.

My daughter and I were watching the original Star Wars movies over the last couple of days. I'm embarassed to say that I've let her see them multiple times, though she has to wait quite a while between viewings. It is a comfort to me that she's familiar with all those characters, since they were an important part of my media-life growing up. There is no real way to explain to her how magical, how great those movies were, when I was ten years old and nothing like that had been seen before. I look at them now and find them dated, and the acting atrocious, but there is enough of that initial wonder left somewhere in me that I can still watch and remember and enjoy.

When my sister was here in Pittsburgh we did the requisite trip to her favorite local store, 'Groovy', which sells all sorts of vintage toys. The real find that day was a 'Dark Crystal' lunch box, in great condition, complete with flip-top thermos. We didn't buy that, unfortunately, but my sister patiently helped me look through a rather large box of Star Wars cards, referring to a list of 'cards needed' that I keep handy in my Palm organizer. I was thrilled to finally be able to add cards to my collection (carefully kept in binders), and simultaneously appalled that I had this list even with me.

If one is going to be a geek, go all the way. Especially as an adult. This is the time when I really don't care who's watching, who sees. And the thrill of putting the last card of the second set (blue) of 'Empire Strikes Back' cards in its binder, into the place that had been waiting for it oh these many years: well, it's true--priceless.

10 April 2006


This one doesn't work for me. Since I've also never heard this song, I'm assuming that it didn't work for many other people, either. The text isn't set very well, it isn't a great text to begin with (says too much, not focused) and it lacks a catchy melodic hook, or a real chorus. Blah blah blah.

Today I hadn't been feeling like I accomplished anything at all. When my husband got home I was listing off the things I had done, and he pointed out that I did, indeed, accomplish quite a lot today. I did the usual: dishes, laundry, and today that included looking after our daughter, on break all this week (and into next: who makes up this schedule? do they have children?). I did a massage this morning, and took my daughter in for her yearly physical this afternoon (I'm feeling very grateful today for our wonderful pediatrician, a real blessing to have a doctor that we both like). I loaded up our tax software, crunched some numbers manually, and realized that I'd have to do some of my filing to find one of the check registers that I needed. I installed the ironing board rack on my studio door to make a little more room in my studio, and started on sorting things to be filed. I stripped and made our bed, scheduled the plumber and the dishwasher installer, found and ordered a new bed for our daughter, and played a board game with her.

All that even looks reasonable when I see it printed out, but all day I kept thinking that I needed to not only start but finish my filing, and I had also really wanted to do some yoga today. Hurry up and relax.

Part of my anxiety, I know, is knowing that I am only beginning what will be a very long week of my daughter being on break. We have fun together, and we're not going through a particularly rough patch, even, but I know that I find my patience wearing thin at times when my momentum is constantly interrupted, and I must get it moving in a productive direction again, only to have it again interrupted by her needs.

Today our largest argument was also particularly frustrating: she saw a group of unsupervised children as we were driving home through the city, and she was very worried about them. Though I assured her that they were probably fine, most likely close to home and in each other's company, she felt that we should check on them, and she was in tears when I wouldn't turn around to do so. Ugh. Yet again: so many chances to be a bad mother.

09 April 2006

"Moon River"

A classic movie song, and more. It's more difficult to sing than I thought, when I was paying attention to it. It's certainly these kind of stretches and experiments that teach me something worthwhile.

Today my husband and I tried curling for the first time. My husband's been fascinated with this sport since the Winter Olympics four years ago, and this year's Olympic games inspired him to sign us both up for this set of instructional sessions. The classes are located at the Neville Island Sports Center, which we had never been to, and that felt like an mini-adventure all on its own, entering another little bit of Allegheny County that we had never seen. We have two more evenings after tonight to get the very basics of this game down.

My husband had never been on an ice rink for any reason until tonight. I hadn't known that. I never was a very proficient ice skater myself, but we went a few times a season while I was growing up, usually with my Girl Scout troop. My daughter's been ice skating several times so far, and I'm hoping that I'll get her out more, as she seems to enjoy it.

Curling is a rather odd game, and it looks a lot simpler on television. Stones slide along the ice, like a winter game of shuffleboard or ice bocci. The stone is moving much faster in real life than I would have thought as well, as we're somewhat frantically 'sweeping' ahead of it, or not, to increase our chances of hitting the bullseye in the center of the 'house'. When it was my turn I found the combination of balance and momentum and form a little tricky. It's humbling, not that I need much practice with those kinds of experiences. It's always good to try something really new, very different, and this was certainly it for today. It's a real bonus to have it be something that my husband and I could try together for the first time.

08 April 2006

"Call Me Irresponsible"

Go ahead, I know that it's true. It could be worse, though, I could be dangerously irresponsible with my daughter, or my own life. As it is, my irresponsibility is a bit limited. Do I need to commit more to this? Really see it through? Lay around all day, eating candy and watching soap operas while chain smoking and letting my daughter play with the circular saw? Maybe not.

This song is pure fun to sing, and it fits my voice relatively well. I caught myself in the mirror making the more relaxed mouth shape for an 'ooo' sound and felt like progress was being made. Of course, there are still many other things happening vocally that I have no clues around: why did that sound better, what did I do there? How do the sounds I hear relate to what I'm doing, and how does any of that translate to my listeners? This song, and yesterday's, are also part of a new section: 'All-Time Film Hits'.

I'm enjoying a period of feeling a tad more organized in general, and on top of things. I breathe this in deeply, and remind myself that this is possible. I did yoga this morning for the first time in a long time. I've been running exclusive of any other kind of exercise recently, despite knowing that Pilates would really help my back, and that yoga would help my entire life. But time is limited, and going in and out of phase with some things is still better than nothing. Since my daughter is on break this week, and running will be less possible, this may be the week to immerse myself again in yoga: the breath to the center of my body, the awareness of the outer edges of my feet, and the bend of my hips.

This week I was working on a female client, and admired the curve of her back into her hips. This is one of my favorite parts on my own body, and it has nothing to do with how it looks and everything with how it feels: under my hands, and from the inside out as I move. It was very disturbing when my running first began to change the shape of my butt, because the whole feel of my back into my hips changed. It's odd to have my body feel unrecognizable. I also really like the hip crease in the front of my body, how it reveals the action of the hip joint. When I think of these parts I'm thinking of women's bodies in general, and mine in particular, it's a very personal and sensual attraction to beautiful basic physicality.

07 April 2006

"Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"

This song was certainly appropriate here, today, with rain on and off all day long. It's an appropriately spring-thing in this part of the country, and I don't mind. Spring rain has a smell all of its own, a bit harsher than the summer and fall rains. I like it. I like this song, too, though that's mostly for the fact that it was a song I sang as a kid, though I have no idea in what context. Was it a song I heard on the radio? Did my mother have a record? Do young people today even know what a record is? 'Just drop the needle anywhere': how dated is that saying?

Today felt like a day of accomplishments, and that makes me feel so entirely capable and happy. I bought the software to do our taxes this weekend, since our accountant dropped off the face of the earth at some point in the last year. I installed a new toilet seat for the first time. I took my first knitting class (and learned two ways to decrease, two ways to increase, and how to pick up new stitches with a different yarn). We now have two more working faucets than we did twenty four hours ago, and we know a reliable, competent, plumber. (My daughter wanted to know if he 'plumbed'. Did he? Why don't we use that as a verb, if it's 'plumber' and 'plumbing'?) I got a large order of yarn, with which various small projects will be realized. I have a date for the upcoming wine festival in Pittsburgh: someone fabulous to drink with, always a very fine thing. Life is, yet again, very good. I feel wealthy with all sorts of possibilities and promise.

06 April 2006

"My Blue Heaven"

This is the kind of perky song that just makes me a bit happy. It goes a bit low for me, at least for today. I have not forgotten the freedom I have to change keys, though, as well as the gift of 'breathe whenever you need to, dear!'. Ah!

Today was a long and exhausting day of work, punctuated by my daughter screaming at me after school, as usual. ('You're picky!! I'm packing up and leaving!' 'Dear, I just said 'no' to you.') Tomorrow morning first thing I have to clean the bathroom so that the plumber doesn't run screaming from our house when he comes to fix our kitchen and bathroom sinks. Good and bad all tied in together, as usual. I did find a date to the Pittsburgh Wine Festival today, someone who can drink a bit and doesn't want to live in the land of Bordeaux exclusively and that's very exciting (No offense, Paul). Our new toilet seat came: all clear and green, and with fish all over. And I now not only have a USB hub so that my printer and CD burner can be connected at the very same time, but we also have a cable router so all three computers could simultaneously search for. . well, something obscene, on Google, say. Sometimes it truly doesn't take a lot to make me happy.

04 April 2006

'Three O'Clock in the Morning'

One of those crazy dancing-all-night songs, and I like it. For me, this song goes with the ever popular 'I Could Have Danced All Night' and 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning'. Maybe that's the common theme here, the glory of the morning after a long night.

I'm still feeling very grateful, every morning, every evening, for the closing of the nuisance bar across the street. I go to sleep with no screaming on the street outside, and that's a very beautiful thing. No gun shots, less trash, I cannot be tired of these glories.

My sister and I talked last week about loving living in a city, coming from long years of growing up in the country. I love the outdoors, love the woods, the quiet, the animals, crunchy leaves and things rotting under foot, the un-landscaped hills, water running through in all sizes of streams, runs, rivulets, moving in and out of the earth. This was growing up in the woods for me. No neighbors (at least none with kids to play with when I needed this) and much green, many trees, birds and squirrels outside my windows, quiet at night to hear the insects, darkness to see the stars in the sky.

When I went home for my grandmother's funeral, I spent more time at my parents's house than I had on other recent trips. Being inside my parents's home, I can't help but want to clean, to organize, and I remember again and again that this is not my space, not my job or responsibility. It does not have to be my life now, either, and when I find boxes piling up the hallways of my own home I start to panic a bit.

Being outside of my parents's house of late, out and about in the borough, is one heart break after another, until my chest aches and it hurts to breathe. The beautiful rolling hills, the woods, the farms, are all disappearing. The landscape is becoming one suburban development after another. The view from what was my bedroom, once unbroken trees with a deer path through the center, now has a huge house in it. The latest heartbreak was the total breakdown and re-working of an entire intersection of roads nearby--so that yet another new housing development could go in, directly next to protected land. This somehow only feels worse, like more of a violation.

At this time of year it is a wonderful thing to wake up to birds singing, starting before the sky has even begun to lighten. It's another reason that living in the city is good: I can still hear the birds, they still will live here. My part of this city is coming to life in good ways. Living elsewhere, seeing the rapid encroaching changes, might hurt too much, might break my spirit as well as my heart.

03 April 2006

"Who's Sorry Now?"

What an excellent song to practice getting that 'Oooo' sound working as it should. I still can't seem to keep my tongue where it belongs while keeping my mouth a bit more open in that sound. I'm still enjoying the challenge, though. Interesting side fact: this song was, indeed, a song of the twenties, even though we know it primarily from Connie Francis's version about thirty-five years later.

When I first went to see a counselor in college, I was reluctant, to say the least. I saw no reason why someone else needed to help me think, or figure anything out. I don't remember why I went, in the end, but I did go, for the ten sessions I was allowed. As a bonus, my counselor was a good-looking man, easy on the eyes. I liked him, and it was worth it, it did help ease me.

It would be nice to say that I learned a lesson, and didn't resist when the need came again to seek help. But I did. I still hated the whole idea of needing help in this way, or perhaps in any way. With the help of a friend, this time, I found a therapist who was a good fit. She worked with prisoners, and people working through active addictions, and it was comforting to know that nothing I could say would shock her. I was familiar with the process of facing my demons, I knew that the things that I resisted with that certain flavor of denial were the things that I most needed to face. I understood that other things might exist to be dealt with at some point, but I could have faith that I would be aware, on some level, of what I needed to accomplish here, with her assitance.

When it was time to finish that time, I knew it. It was also good to know that if she had disagreed with that, she would have let me know. I did take a break, and then I was very relived to go back, when life threw me a curve. I was doubly happy to finish again, to be able to say 'I'm cured!'.

Lately I've been thinking that the need is coming again, and it's good to know that there's someone out there who would again take me in, listen to my stories, try to understand, and tell me that sometimes it's really ok to ask for help just because it would be easy, or even fun. I don't have a need to be in therapy all the time, it is good to take myself out for a solo spin for long periods of time. I find that talking to a professional can make me a little less brave or creative when it comes to addressing issues with my loved ones. But I am so glad to know that this is something I can do, a place that I can go. I figure the next time I have to go I can direct her here, for a beginning understanding of where the journey of the recent past has taken me.

02 April 2006


I didn't take to this song as quickly, or at all, actually. I gave it a good try, but it just didn't grab me. I did find out that the lyricist's full name is Andreamenentania Razafinkeriefo, who was the nephew of Ranavalona III, the last Queen of Madagascar. That's worth knowing.

I think if I stopped watching television I wouldn't be obsessing so much about death. It seems as though every tv show somehow features death, and usually death in some weird way that normally I wouldn't be worried about. I feel sure that death is waiting around the next corner, because surely so many shows wouldn't feature it otherwise. I thought that when I stopped watching BBC criminal dramas (which my husband and I both love) this would ease. It probably doesn't help that now we've started to watch Season One of 'Six Feet Under' on DVD.

This ongoing obsession also features wondering about the individual deaths lost in mass deaths: when those 66,000 people died in Chile in that earthquake (--a while ago--I'm reading National Geographic, too, never a cheerful endeavor), that means that 66,000 individual lives, with dreams and visions and beginnings and realities just suddenly stopped. It boggles my mind. All these people being born and dying every day, and I'll never get to meet even a significant percentage of them, much less have coffee with them. There is absolutely a part of me that wants to do exactly that: who are you? what are you leaving for the world? what makes you laugh? who do you love?

I've been trying to get a handle on issues of differences around race, or sexual preference, or financial status, and it occured to me that I can't escape my basic feeling that we are still more similar than not: we deal with family, friends, money, and the inescapable issues of life and death. This keeps feeding my belief that surely we can be kind to one another, be patient with our differences, for the brief period of time that we have here.

01 April 2006

"I Can't Give You Anything But Love"

I never knew more than the title phrase of this one, I was surprised at what a truly 'Roaring Twenties' tune it was. The songs in this section continue to be fun to sing. Yahoo for that.

Today I survived my daughter's seventh birthday party. We had about seventeen children here, and I wasn't at my best, though I was aware when I entered the zone of not caring enough to panic. Just keep going. So what if the fairy craft isn't working as well as it should. Continue to move ahead. At four o'clock they will all leave, it's just three short hours. Sit down, Liam. Stop running, JD. No hitting with the balloons, no indoor tag. I'll be there in a second to help you with the glue. Why, again, did we invite this many children? And boys?

The best idea, and one we've used before, is the end-of-party story time. While waiting those last twenty minutes I read aloud from one of my daughter's presents, a wonderfully illustrated book called 'The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone' by Timothy Basil Ering. It managed to keep them all wide eyed and paying attention, and made me appear to be somewhat in control when the parents all arrived. All the adults who stayed--and it appears that seven is old enough for most of the children to be dropped off and left--had a good time, and no child bled. Always a plus in my book.

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