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.

10 January 2007

"These Hands"

I brought this song into my voice lesson today. I had sung it yesterday (and not blogged, alas), and I had some trouble switching between the high and low registers. This song goes back and forth from high to low the whole way through. My teacher--while appreciating that each of these songs is an exercise for me in sight reading, song learning, and other technical matters--thought that this was the worst song that she had ever heard. I think I've seen way worse in my travels through the Reader's Digest oeuvre: this one is simply forgettable.

So many of my near and dear projects are handwork in some way. Certainly my job as a massage therapist is, and I still, fourteen years in, love my job. I play piano, something I have desired for longer than I have done it, something I do entirely for myself (I must mention, though, that my lifelong goal of having people sing along while I play 'Come Sail Away' was realized last weekend. I'm not sure what to shoot for, now.). I play guitar as well, and now mandolin, too. I crochet, I knit, I sew: endlessly attempting to leave some sort of physical legacy, something that will last longer than I will, something that will let those I love remember me. Also, something to do with my very restless hands.

These days I'm doing more of the cooking, as part of a New Year's resolution that we will eat better and more interesting food. Every time I slice an onion I remember a professional cellist friend of mine once telling me about being at a symphony rehearsal when someone broke a glass. Everyone's hands were in the air immediately. When your life is your hands you're very very careful. I cut the onions with all the attentiveness I can muster, though I still suspect that I inevitably will cut myself.

It feels like another giving up that I'm preparing for: someday something will happen, accident or age, and the use of my hands will become more limited than I could wish. I hope it's age, since that seems to be something that sneaks up on one, more slowly than a developing pregnancy, but with the same inevitability. It would give me a little space to grow accustomed to my limitations.

04 January 2007

"Daddy Sang Bass"

This is one of those songs that I only know by the title tune, with the addition of 'Mama sang tenor'. I think I liked it better that way. But, still, there is the draw of the family feeling of the song: being with my family--my husband and daughter, or my siblings and parents--is one of the greatest pleasures in my life. And if we all sang together!! I would never want to leave. As it is, my brothers always laughed at my singing. And at my dancing. And at what I wore. I'm really glad that I'm not a teenager anymore, and more glad that they aren't, either.

I haven't written at all in my personal journal in the last year, not since New Year's Day 2006. My goal was to again write on January 1st of this year, reviewing the year, setting down new and improved resolutions: but this did not come to pass. I am still catching up, always catching up. My friend, Jackie, suggested keeping my projects down to ten, or so. I balked at the very thought, even while acknowledging the supreme wisdom of such restraint.

I do know that I need to write, again, still, either here, or in my journal, and much preferably both. I also need to do some of those other projects: the things that please me, the things that make my home and family life easier or more beautiful, the things that deepen my connections to my friends and the larger world around me. There have been brief moments in this past year where I feel that I've almost acheived some sort of balance, some sort of sense, as I consider all these parts of my life. Here's hoping that I continue to locate that narrow edge, with grace, attention--and more than a dollop of humor when I fall.

03 January 2007

"When It's Round Up Time In Heaven"

[This post is for Kendrah. Just because she keeps checking. That's not her real name, by the way.]

My singing is suffering for lack of the daily song, even these songs. This one--with its catchy cowboy-esque title--is a lot more fun in theory than in practice. It has a brief homage to 'Home On the Range' in the middle, but otherwise it's entirely predictable, though it does make me want to pull out my guitar. Whatever happened to that cowboy hat I got from my grandfather?

Speaking of my grandfather--well, technically, I'm not speaking of the grandfather who got me the hat. He died a long time ago, and I miss him more all the time. But my other grandfather, the one who called me a whore, he passed away this last November. [See 'I'm Falling in Love With Someone' 8 December 2005 & 'Stop and Smell the Roses' 24 October 2006] Even though he had been ill for years, somehow it still felt sudden. I got up at 5AM to drive across the state to his funeral. The service was soulless. No one cried. No one gave a eulogy. I didn't sing the 'Ave Maria'. [See 'The Fox' 20 March 2006 & 'God Bless the Child' 27 March 2006] My nephew passed out Tic Tacs to me and my siblings at communion time. (We were discreet, if not respectful.) It was sad, but only because there didn't seem to be much genuine grief. And it's still not over: my father is still dealing with the lies my grandfather told about him, attempting to clean up the mess, trying to ensure that one man's probably diagnosable paranoia doesn't live forever in the form of continued family estrangement.

The good news is that I have seen my grandmother, my only living grandparent. I have hugged her, I have brought my daughter to meet her, I have heard some of her stories of growing up, of her siblings, of her parents, of my grandfather, who she loved, with all his flaws, and she knew them. She's one of those people who is always trying to give things away, and I did come back with a ridiculous amount of grandmother knick-knacks (mostly the result of leaving my seven year old daughter alone with my grandmother for ten minutes): I will treasure these things always because they passed through her hands. I feel that she cannot know how fully and completely I crave the gift of her, of her stories, of her presense.

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