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.

24 October 2006

"Stop and Smell the Roses"

Starting a new section today with 'Faith and Joy with a Country Flavor'. Country music is not my main interest, and I was actually glad to have a few days on this song, as much as I was also highly impatient with my lack of blogging time. Come the end of the day I've been too tired to do anything but fall into bed. I'm probably still singing this too 'straight', but it got a bit better as I played with it for a few days. These older, more classic country songs are close enough to folk to please me. I doubt that I'm going to find any songs about trucks, or women's butts, in the Reader's Digest Faith and Joy collection, thankfully.

We found out a little while back that my grandfather, my father's father, is dying. Finally. He has what amounts to systemic cancer, as well as leukemia and emphysema. He's 88, and pretty much crazy. [See 8 December 2005 for background on dear old Granddaddy.] Because I haven't seen him in so long, and I will most likely not see him before his death, this news of his impending mortality is a very strange itchy feeling.

If this were an optimistic book or movie, all of this would end with a lovely death bed forgiveness scene, with my father on the forgiveness end. My grandfather would apologize for how badly he's treated him all these years, and write him back into the will, the whole shebang. None of this is going to happen. Somewhat morbidly, I just want it to be over now. I want to go to the funeral, and see all the other relatives from that side of the family, people I haven't seen in decades, people my daughter has never met. I want to see people with my face. I want my grandfather to be dead, so that my father can start to heal that wound, as much as is possible to do so.

I want to take my daughter to see her only living great-grandmother. I want to visit my grandmother once a month for the rest of her life (she's ninety, that makes me nervous as I weave this plan of mine). I want to have her bake me a pie, teach me in person the secret of her fabulous crust. I want to ask her about all of her family stories: maybe she'll tell me, when my grandfather is finally gone, how she came to have two children out of wedlock before she married my grandfather. Maybe she'll tell me what happened to her oldest child, my uncle. Where did he go? I want to know what her life has been, not just how badly things went with my grandfather, but the other stuff. What is the other stuff, Grandmom? I want her to see my daughter, and to have my daughter have memories of her great-grandmother. I want to take pictures, have pictures taken of us all together. I want to ask my grandmother if her body is like my body, what growing old has been like for her in this body that might be like mine. I want to ask what her childhood was like.

This state of limbo is okay, as well. I know it won't last forever, and until then, I can hold in a tiny part of my heart some fantasy that my grandfather will make peace with my father, will make peace with me, my mother, my siblings. I can try to forgive him, even a little, while we still share the same planet.

18 October 2006

"You'll Never Walk Alone"

Don't. . . make. . . me. . . sing. . . it. . . again. (pant, pant) Must. . . find. . . time. . . to. . . write. . . blog. . .

It wasn't so bad the first time I visited this song, through the graces of a previous Reader's Digest volume, but I got tired this time. It's another song to bring home the realization of the existence of better keys for my voice to sing in. I do feel compelled to sing the blog song in the key that it is written, though I am playing with some past songs in alternate keys, just for kicks and giggles. I'm learning an awful lot in my voice lessons, and I'm just hoping that I'm not learning it all too late. I'm not sure why that's my worry right now, besides the general feeling of being utterly overwhelmed by everything that permeates my existence at this point. Fun and games in my life, indeed. Or something.

I was. . . ok, I was complaining about all the things I have to do, and my daughter innocently said, "Well, just do them." "I do, honey, all day long I do things, and at the end of the day the list is still somehow very long." I'm holding my own, at the moment. Sometimes I see how easy it would be to literally go insane. I get so tired I just want to sit down on the ground and sob, or escape into a dream. I know that I don't have it all that bad, comparitively speaking, but all that I know is what it is to be in my own skin, my own life. No shame in being the center of the universe, as long as we all know that we're all the center of our own.

10 October 2006

"Sunrise, Sunset"

A classic of musical theatre, and I do like it. Even though it's still somewhat overdone, I like it. Maybe it's that whole parent-thing, seeing my daughter grow so quickly, and having no idea how it's happening this fast. Speaking of which--tell me again, how is this happening so fast? Wasn't she just a toddler yesterday?

Today I started knitting a moebius strip scarf, which is very satisfying. Of course, I still need to finish the latest baby blanket, but I really needed to take a brief break and work on something for me. I'm working from Cat Bordhi's second book of Magical Knitting, which is incredibly inspirational. The scarf is knitted on a very long circular needle, wrapped back upon itself so that the scarf is knit from the inside out, and twisted. The first half a round was challenging, as Ms. Bordhi predicted, but now it feels like smooth sailing. Considering the next two days are fairly long, arduous and potentially stressful, I'm very glad to not only have started on this satisfying project, but also to have practiced both piano and mandolin, as well as sung, blogged, ran 5.28 miles (that was totally exhausting! am I still recovering from the 5K on Sunday?), and gotten my dog to the vet today. Wow. I'm practially accomplished enough for two people today, at the very least. Yahoo. I need to sleep now.

09 October 2006

"Make Someone Happy"

I don't get it, and I don't like it. It's not the sentiment that isn't working, it's the song. It doesn't feel good to sing, it doesn't make musical sense to my--of course!--biased ear.

I spend a bit of time agonizing about my daughter. It's one of those parent-things. We send her to a Waldorf School, which has been fabulous for her. One of the firm beliefs at Waldorf is the belief that media (television, computers, etc) is not for children. We are strongly discouraged from allowing her any tv at all.

What can I say, it's another chance to be a bad parent, how could I resist! On a practical level, and a purely selfish one, I use tv to distract her. She's not allowed to watch it before school, or to watch commerical tv without supervision. She does watch her tapes and movies after school for a period of time. After school she's usually tired, and I am, as well. I find it difficult to cope with her anger-born-of-exhaustion. Give her an hour in front of the tube, with a snack, and our day can proceed with more calm.

In spite of my efforts to create another obese, uncreative human, my daughter persists in her rich imaginative life. She has an entire invisible world where she is the mother to eight (at last count) adopted children. At the drop of nothing she will tell me all the latest exhaustive detail about their lives. I know the names of their babysitters, and some of their stuffed animals. Beyond this, she continues to have her fairy world, her contraption creations, playtime with her dolls and stuffed animals, endless crafting and drawing, and reading books. She actually gets somewhat bored after her allotment of tv, and has been known to turn it off, leave the room, and seek me out in my studio so that she can draw or make a craft. Who would have thought it possible! Perhaps there is hope for the future!

I realized today that she has already become a big part of what I want for her. Maybe I won't win the World's Worst Parent award. (My friend, Kendrah, actually has dibs on this one, but I was hoping to enter the couples competition with my husband and at least place.)

06 October 2006

"Over the Rainbow"

I'm trying something new with my singing, with my voice, and this is a good song to practice with the new idea. My voice teacher pointed out that I seem to have this need to sing loudly, which is somewhat true, since I'll be the first to admit that I don't 'get' the whole volume thing. (It was quite a big deal to begin to get that in my piano lessons, as well.) I think, for me, singing loudly makes me feel as if I'm doing something, projecting, focusing, working. Working, in my mythic life, is a good thing. Today I tried singing in a softer, easier way. I distrust the easy, so it's good to see what happens when I go there. I look forward to the day when I go there with no fear.

I cannot get enough music in my life. I'm not alone, here, I know. The more I get, the more I want. Somehow, I am managing in my adulthood to get what I dreamed of for myself as a child: a life of singing, music-making. It's taken a long time, and I still could go very far with it, I so hope that I do. I hate it when daily chores interfere, but they always will, and I will always, for better or worse, be interested in more than music. There will be sewing and knitting and crocheting and dancing and trees and my family and friends, for starters. But ah! ah! Ah!!--when the music works! Ah indeed.

05 October 2006

"Look To the Rainbow"

A simple, pleasant song. I have the feeling that it would be more memorable in the context of its original musical, and performer. Otherwise, I am unsurprised to be unfamiliar with this one.

My husband doesn't expect to survive me. He doesn't come out and say it like that, he's a master of few words in many respects, but that's my reading of the infamous subtext. I'm older than he is, but he's an old man deep in his heart, and I don't think he envisions a long life for himself. That, or he has plans to leave me. Either way, I don't like it.

I was thinking today about the oddness of having a life partner, a spouse. I really can't imagine surviving with my husband, though I suspect that I would, somehow. Other people do, and I'm a big believer in being able to do something that many other folks have done.

I am so invested in this man--so much that I am loathe to rock the boat in many ways. I know that I should occassionally, at least to keep in practice, to keep myself from being complacent or stuck, but there are things that I just keep hoping will grow into better places, and who can I blame but myself when they don't? If it bothers me, I should speak. But speaking feels so slippery: previous words have left the ground rocky with assumptions, bad feelings, memories. I don't want to cut my feet--what would I stand on, then? I suppose they'll heal.

Nothing is simple, really. I need to keep that in mind. All sorts of stuff together in the mix, some bits I can pick out and identify, most stuff I just eat, digest as well as I can, and let what I need nourish me. Continue the analogy at your own risk. I'm going to keep cooking.

04 October 2006


Well, there's the pros and the cons. I've played and sung this song at least three, different, non-consecutive days. I do like it--and surprisingly, I still like it. The piano part was a bit challenging, and I got it a bit more into my hands by day three. Smile: it's a bittersweet thing. I'm guilty of smiling when I'm not so happy at all. This isn't all bad, and pertinently it reminds me of a recent Slate Podcast concerning the 'evils' of too many folks trying to be funny. I see it this way: the world is a very painful place lately, if one pays attention to the news. When offered the choice between laughter and tears, I will choose to laugh. Crying seems to take longer, and I have trouble giving myself permission to wholeheartedly give it to it. I remember being very proud, or some relation to proud, when I learned to cry again in college. As a bitter and cynical teenager I gave it up as oh so boring for many years. Maybe I still haven't gotten over that deep rooted belief.

Now, when I'm done laughing, I move on and try to plug away at the tasks that need my attention. There are worse ways to cope.

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