Posted tagged ‘music’


November 18, 2018

(Sorry for the absence;  “body” failure again.   I’m getting better, I think . . .)




For my “record,”   that is.    We  have about one more month of official Fall on the calendar, but around here in the Far North I was reminded how wintry and short Fall can be.   Just a little while ago  I was washing my windows at a gas station  and having a little trouble . . .  the window washing fluid was freezing on the windshield!

(I thought they made that washing fluid with anti-freeze or alcohol or something,  something that doesn’t freeze.)

So with time passing so quickly,  I wanted to make a record of Fall things here on the Spruce Tunnel so I can remember what this year was like.

Here was one hint of the presence of Fall:

Fall Geese in sky

The geese are overhead practicing their V formations,  above  our local Big Ten university crop fields.   (This university started out as an agricultural college.)    I was in my car when the sky filled with V’s .   By the time I got my camera going this was all I could capture,  but believe me,  it’s an impressive sight.  A force of nature, replayed twice a year, for ages and ages.

(I know;    I’m not supposed to take pictures when I’m driving but . . .  I think I was stopped at a stop sign on those country roads for this picture. )

My own wild “bird” in the back yard:

Fall Blue Heron in b yard 370


A few weeks ago it was Harvest Time on the old back deck:

Parsley Picking

I grow my herbs out there where they’re handy to add to my salad bowls (or sieves, sometimes.)

I looked down and was surprised to see a  beautiful  “modern art” type view of the parsley:

Parsley dots

You must take beauty where you can find it.    Fortunately,  beauty is all around us,.

I cannot forget this Fall  harvest activity:

Pumpkin The apple orchard apples.jpg 370

My Recorder-Friend (see next paragraph)  told me about an apple orchard just a couple miles from my house.    My little family drove over there and picked galas,  honey crisps, and a new honey crisp hybrid developed by the orchard owner, who just happens to be an agricultural professor at out “local Big Ten” university.    The most delicious apples!   guess a doctorate in “apple growing”  produces good results!!

SAMSUNG     Because of kitchen work  and my own not-feeling-too-well this Fall,  my friend and I had to miss a few of our recorder practice sessions.  We tried to have as many outdoors in her gazebo as possible,  knowing full well the weather was going to “turn” —  “permanently”  for the late Fall and winter.

But we managed a few practice sessions, and as usual, my friend set a beautiful table for our après music tea time.

Fall Recorder Table

Simple, elegant, and oh-so-apple-y delicious!

There is much to do outdoors to get ready for our Winter freeze.    I tried this summer to Do As The Romans Do:


That is,  spread salt over vegetation (crops and fields) of their enemies so that nothing will ever grow there again.     Like moss.

Salted  bricks.  We’ll see next Spring if that worked.

Then there was Fall weather for sure:

FALL Day.jpg 370

Snow on fallen leaves.   It’s not neat.  It looks messy.   And it reminds me that I cannot (must not)  rake leaves right now.

(I will remember this Fall as a frustrating time of not being able to do one of my favorite activities: raking leaves.   It was not “advisable.”   Not yet.  Not this year.)

With snowfall one day and “warmer” weather the next,  the little forest behind my yard was strewn with “white logs.”

White logs 350

Now the serious holidays are coming:    Fall to Winter –  Thanksgiving to Christmas .   Football to football playoffs!

Fall to Winter;  days of darkness —   but here’s where I  live,  this is what I see when I take my long walks and I’m just about to return home:

Home and Heart Trees.jpg 380

See the heart?     The almost heart that the trees make?    That’s where I live,  for all the seasons.

Deo gratias.












September 12, 2018

We’re all looking at the hurricane charts and diagrams now.   (I’ll get to “him” in a minute).

Experts estimate that at least 20 million Americans will be affected by Florence’s arrival.  Perhaps you know someone in her path.


Objectively speaking,  it’s  a gorgeous, well-formed hurricane.   I am safe here in the Far North;  I can be fascinated with the development and progression of Florence,  but just recently I received a text from my young friend V in Virginia who does not feel so safe.

I’m very fond of her.   She has a husband, a daughter,  another family member or two living with her and a house and a home —  and all will be very much affected by Florence.  Though probably not in the direct pathway,  she’s close enough that there could be some terrible damage.

My young friend V has asked for my prayers.   I’m  honored; and I am asking and will continue to ask for intercession on her behalf.     “Prayer changes things” as the saying goes.  It changes things physically,  personally, spiritually,  and prayer can change the course of people and things.

V is a believer in Christ.  I will be merely adding my prayers to hers, but I hope her faith and hope and courage will be increased, and that she is sheltered in this storm.     It is at the worst of times that Our Lord will take us by the hand and “lead us on.”    That’s not my idea!    It’s the experience of countless Christians throughout the centuries.

A beautiful hymn has been humming itself in my head.   I finally had to look up those wonderful and meaningful lyrics which I learned as a child.   I found them.

And that leads me to the “him.”    The King.    I will let “him”  sing them for you:

I hope you will remember this song for our fellow Americans during their encounter with Florence, perhaps, as I had said,  it will be someone you know;  and I hope you will recall this song when you find yourself in the eye of some storm or other.

Humans don’t live in paradise anymore!


If you can’t view the video,  here is its URL (remove the spaces)  – and there are many other fine singers who do a good job on this hymn:

https : //

“Take My Hand, Precious Lord”

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near
When my light is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home




February 28, 2018

“Music, a Meeting,  More Snow,  and a Reverse Lesson in Kindness)

(This posting will feel like  a disorganized mess because . . .  well, I feel like a mess right now.)


So,  this is me, recovering tonight:


Words actually say it better than this photo:   I’m having a quiet, relaxing evening in front of a soothing fire with a bright almost- full moon shining through the window behind me, and I’m so surprised to be able to begin my new knitting project – a thick, luscious white cabled sweater.

(“Every journey begins with a few stitches.”)

It’s a surprise because I have fairly badly injured my right thumb, slightly traumatizing, and I thought I couldn’t start my new knitting project,  but as it turns out,  because there are so many cables in it,  I’m not using the European style of knitting which would have put more pressure on my thumb.   So,  two fingers, not the thumb. . . .

I need the knitting, the fireplace, and the quiet right now.

I injured my thumb yesterday during a meeting in an office of our, uh,  professional advisor,  just a periodic meeting,  with Son by my side.  I couldn’t hide the bleeding which didn’t stop during that whole time, but I had to hide the shock my body felt and the growing pain.


You don’t give up any of your strength when you are kind to someone:

kind animals


It matters, it matters very much if you are kind to the people around you.     Thankfully,  I’ve been surrounded by kindness.   Our “advisor”  who kindly got up several times to give me wads of paper towels to soak up the blood (which I didn’t know what to do with – not thinking clearly).

And Son,  glancing at me once in a while in the office,  and then his kind attention and (distracting) conversation as we went out for a nice lunch afterwards;  and his helping with needed yard work which I couldn’t do, and patient conversation afterwards.

The kindness of these two men was not unnoticed, and I’m a bit embarrassed to say, but  it was very much needed.

And kindness today:


It was Recorder Practice today.    I didn’t think I could use my thumb.   It hurt.   I was unaccountably tired.  And I felt a little tense and shaky all over.   But I like my friend and I like playing recorder together with her.    So I went.     (“Music hath charms to soothe the “traumatized”  breast.”)    My friend kindly listened to my tales of woe and said we could stop when my thumb said to stop.

And look what was waiting for us after we played our music!

Table Whole 380

A beautiful table like this just doesn’t assemble itself.   My friend is an artist, with color and composition.   Those little  flowers grow on her property, and they’re called Snow Drops,  arranged beautifully.    They were so charming in the little crystal containers  that they actually soothed and cheered my body.


When you do something like this for a friend,  that is an act of kindness.     It’s actually a command from our “Master.”

(Ephesians 4:32)   Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The Snow Drops bring me to another whole set of considerations:

Not too long ago I woke up to this outside my window – an Ice Cage!

Icicle Cage 250

Long icicles had formed across my house.   It was the aftermath of lots and lots of snow –

Snow Banks 380   –   I had shoveled the snow up into four-foot banks.

Snow BENCH 370

Everything was deeply covered .

But then the ice on the pond turned “green” signaling a change in the weather.

sea green pond 370

We had a couple days of very warm rains, causing the creek back there to rise into a raging river,  a couple days of flooded roads and detours,  and now,  though it’s “Indian Spring”  or whatever this warm weather is called,   we have some snow predicted.

A measly three inches.    Can I get back on my skis again?

Grandson Cooper has four to eight feet of snow predicted this week.    He lives right on the shore of Donner Lake,  here:

Donner Lake

And up in the pass?   Donner Pass:


It will be a white-out again.

Lucky Cooper!    He’ll be able to ski!



December 6, 2017


Part of preparation for Advent is, of course,  cleaning up!  Getting rid of the old trash –   physical, spiritual, or digital.

I’ve got to get rid of all these half-written posts with their attendant numerous open Browsers and Tabs.     My computer is a mess!

So.    Music first.   Music and Unmusic.   

  Here are the Vienna Choirboys:

vienna on stage

A couple dozen of the most pure and sweet and musically accurate voices you will ever hear.      Yes:   “angelic.”

This was Son’s birthday present to me –  tickets to see the Vienna choirboys when they came to our area –  and he came with me!   Here’s what we saw:

vienna front stage

The boys are approximately age 8 to 12 years old.    They were talented and well-trained, and their  choirmaster was at the piano leading them in a variety of music, from classical to Christmas.

The “sound”  was melodious, harmonic,  pleasant,  engaging, and –  real.    Somewhere in all my files I have kept a scientific article describing the effect that live music has on a person, as opposed to recorded-and-replayed music, whether it be on  vinyl, on cassette,  or digital, some kind of MP3.

There are specific and beneficial changes to a person’s physiology that occur with live music that does not happen with recorded music, although there is enough benefit in good music to make it worth hearing, when you cannot hear or produce live music by yourself.

So-called “modern” music does not count.   The anti-rhythmic, inharmonious,  discordant, constant off-keyed, repetitious  cacophony that passes as  modern “music”  does not have the same beneficial physiological effect.  Indeed,  in the long run  it does harm to one’s spirit.

In pursuit of more good music,  I turned to YouTube and was delighted to discover two young pianists  – boys, really –  who were new to me.      First:

PIANO Michael Andreas Haringer

His hands!      His hands go blurry in the camera;  they are that fast!    Note his name:  Michael Andreas Häringer, shown here when he was 10 years old.   I watched him play Beethoven’s  Appassionata (Piano Concerto # 23)   when he was 8 years old.     He had a teddy bear set on the lower keys as he played.

All I could say is “Now I believe that there was a real Mozart, boy composer.   It can happen.”

Then I discovered Lucas Jussen, concert pianist.  he has a different technique, using the style of holding his fingers high off the keys, yet they are just as fast and brilliant.

lucas jussen

15 years old.   Piano prodigy.     He has a brother:

lucas and arthur

Lucas and Arthur.

Now my Preparation for Advent includes music,   practicing Christmas songs on recorder and piano and guitar.   Learning new classical pieces.       Taking out my Beethoven and feeling so . . .  inadequate!

But as GK Chesterton said:  “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”     Too late for me to ever be a prodigy in anything,  but I can do it, pretty badly sometimes!      I love real music,   and music stirs up the very soul.

Alive!  Awake!   Ready to receive!

Of course, real music is part of Advent preparation!

Thanks to Son for starting it all!



April 13, 2017

I wrote yesterday that some   “happy, beautiful”  things happened to me.  Well,  here is the “happy” thing and what it showed me:

4 recorder j

As humans,  there are two realms put before us at each present moment:      One of great beauty and life;  one of ugliness and death.   And so on Wednesday of this week and Thursday we are reminded that these two realms are set before us.

Adherence to Rituals and Rules

I came to my friend’s house  yesterday,  and this is what greeted me —

 4 table set

It was time for our somewhat regular recorder practice on Wednesday.  The “ritual” is that we  seat ourselves in front of our music stands, allow a little  light conversation while we play our first pieces, and then we get down to some serious musicianship.   Then we begin to feel that our session is over, and we proceed to tea.

Always an absolute delight at my friend’s house; beautiful, seasonal, whimsical.   A thoughtful table for tea.

4 Napkin

My friend served mille-feuilles in honor of a book we’ve both enjoyed.

4 mille

(Also known as napoleons.)   There was a Reality at work here in our friendship and in our music,  a beautiful  Reality that flows out of one realm and into the other.


We did not mention that yesterday was Spy Wednesday  –  but it was:

4 thirty pieces

This Wednesday is called “Spy Wednesday”  because on this day the Jewish leaders met with  riff-raff.    They who were  the righteous arbiters of Ritual and the Law, had to deal with this common man, Judas Iscariot, who was willing to betray his own Friend with secret reports of His whereabouts.       With great distaste,  these religious rulers finalized their plans and sealed the deal with  the 30 pieces of silver that was foretold so many centuries ago.   But one does what one must to achieve a higher goal.

The religious rulers as well as the Romans lived in the one, material realm.

Statues,  unquestioned authority,  riches,  gold and silver, impressive robes and long fringes;  in this  material realm the use of  power of this material world could establish a kind of peace, ruling over all the rest.   This is a kingdom not founded in love and friendship, faith and true  piety,  but on Rules and Rituals to keep people in their proper places.

It is a kingdom, a realm,  that is ugly and leads to death.

So the culmination of all this spying and plotting came on a Wednesday,  but it is for Thursday to carry it out

Material Reality and Spiritual Reality

Material Reality alone fails.    There is a Spiritual Reality which gives beauty and life to our  Material Reality,  but we can’t”measure the spirit  by  material means.

 Can we measure the material worth of Friendship?   of  Honor?   of Courage?  of Love?  What is the price, in material goods,  of your love for  each of family members?     4 ruler

How many miles long is your Truth?    What color is the Respect that people have for you?   4 scales How many pounds does your Faith in God weigh?

 But these things exist.

And yet, some things can be seen and weighed and measured and physically compared. We can’t lose sight of the material world that we live in, nor of the spiritual world which give Life to it.


Just as our tea table yesterday contained a tea pot, cups, saucers,  hot cross buns and milles-feuilles,  and you could have recorded the sound of a lovely music CD, our voices,  the telephone ringing,  chairs squeaking, footsteps . . .   you could not have measured the intangible things of the actual Spiritual Realm (mutual love, friendship, respect,  faith)  which accompanied us and penetrated all our material  “noises.”

Both existed.   The material realm and the spiritual realm met and  co-existed.

This is not “above” human beings to  understand.

4 last supper reclining

Jesus met with His friends  at His Last Supper with them,   It was a supper determined by Rituals with  prophetic meaning.   It was a time for the last bit of teaching,  last time to show the means of Loving which is self-sacrifice and servitude,  last bit of instructive and loving prayers, and one thing more:

4 l;ast supper jess

With God’s creative and sovereign will,  here was the first Transformation of the material aspects of that Supper into an eternal, spiritual union with the Creator –  present from now on,  any time,  any place that this “ritual supper” is recreated.

From the earliest beginnings of Christianity,  this Last Supper was not meant to be merely copied by our actions, nor imitated.   The Last Supper,  within these last 24 hours of Jesus’ life on Earth,  was meant to be entered into  spiritually,  really,  actually — and perpetually,  until He comes.   Matter and Spirit.

These last 24 hours are completed at Calvary.

The Last Supper which then  becomes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

10. STEAM KETTLE DAYS -“If I Had A Hammer . . .”

October 29, 2016

How do you feel inside when you have a close encounter with a policeman?

“IF I  HAD A HAMMER . . . Hmmm – hmm -hm – hm – hm – hmmmmm – hm . . ..



“If I had a  ham-mer,    (and an FBI subpoena) –  I’d  hammer all my Black-berries . . .

“I’d make them all-lll . . .  just dis – sah –  apeerrr . . .”



She can just keep singing.     I believe the count is  she hammered away 13 Blackberries,  two laptops,  and  used an extremely expensive and complicated software practice called “bleaching”  to make  those 33,000 emails disappear too.  (Who paid for that software?  That’s not even common among government offices or hackers.)

If  you’re Important,  if you’re one of the Elite,  if you’re very, very Rich,  and if you’re above the law,  then you don’t worry about your “hammer.”

I usually manage to stay out of trouble.   Ha ha  —


That’s my blue car in the parking lot after class on Friday.

It was the police blocking me in:


A little disconcerting to come upon a police bike and people standing near your car, talking to  a policeman.  I was pretty sure I hadn’t done anything wrong,   and indeed it was two people who had a collision in the parking lot right next to my car.     I commiserated with the one of the drivers for a while, while I was being blocked in by the police bike.

I  thanked my “lucky stars”  that my car was undamaged – and that the policeman didn’t want to talk to me.   (I wasn’t there;  I couldn’t have been a witness…)

I respect the police;  I know they represent legitimate authority over us;   and I wouldn’t ever do anything knowingly to get into trouble.

In other words –   I DON’T   have  a hammer.      Like  R.oyal   C.lintoness has. 

And neither do you.

And nor should any American citizen who is under the SAME laws as all the rest of us.

Election 2016:   Law-abiding  versus Lawlessness.



July 7, 2015

A gift of Flowers:


They come from the liberality of a friend who rejoices in the beauty of her garden,  and from which she generously shares her flowers, her musical talent, and her hospitality,  at regular intervals.

We have begun this summer to make (somewhat) beautiful music together.

I wrote a while ago about this new activity for me;   I’ve taken up the recorder at the prompting of my friend, a fine instrument for the sounds of  Renaissance and Baroque music      Earlier this summer,  one day,   she surprised me by saying we’d be playing outdoors.   I drove to her home in the country, and while I was parking the car I heard her say she’d be “on the bench.”


I got out of my car and it took me a while to locate “the bench,”  but there it was, a little distance away, surrounded by a lovely garden arranged in the “English” way;  that is,   non-symmetrical,  non-plotted,  and rather untamed at first glance.


Closer in,  I could see there were happy, colorful bunches of flowers of this and that kind,  with happy bees,  happy dragonflies,  happy all sorts of buzzing creatures going in and out of the various blossoms.

She told me to sit on the bench with her awhile, before we started the “really stressful”  activity of making music together — and perhaps she perceived in me my inheritance from my own Grandmother — a need for speed.   A need to get right to it, hurry up, and be doing it, whatever  it  was….    (What gave her a clue?  Maybe because the first half dozen times I tried to find her country home, I drove right past —  I raced right past —  and even though I knew better,  I just couldn’t slow down enough to insert my car into her driveway in time.    I was in a hurry.   I came to our music session tense and purposeful. )

One can’t be speedy and purposeful in a beautiful English garden.

We sat and talked quietly together on the bench.  At first I was filled with admiration and many questions about her garden, which extends all around her property,  not only in the “English” arrangement.

But then the quietness descended on us,  the peace and quietness that fills a person when Nature speaks, always insisting on having center stage.    I did slow down;   I did feel at rest now.   I was ready for our music.

 There,  just beyond the flowers,  was a gazebo,  sheltered by the tall trees.

This is where we make our music.   And last week there were three of us.

recorders threeSoprano, tenor, and alto — a full voice for the beautiful chords of the music that  was produced during the pinnacle of Western culture.  We three did well.  We could almost hear what the music was supposed to sound like!    I could almost see the people who appreciated this music.


Two hours of music pass by in an instant.

Then there is Tea, of various kinds,  with mint leaves from the garden.   And there are English tea biscuits,  or lemon bars,  or scones.    Light and lovely.

The notes of our music have penetrated every cell of my body, calming, soothing, ordering my  self.    Each color, each petal of the flowers  have done their work,  lifting my spirit upward in some ineffable gratitude.    The quiet conversation of friendship has encouraged  and strengthened me.

I go home with it all.   Some of the experience is “vased” __


— vased, so I can see and remember.      But most of the experience stays inside of me.

I’ll slow down now.   I will slow down and practice hard —  so I can do this again, next time.


October 26, 2013

I can see that this particular weekend is going to be one that stirs up my emotions.  All my emotions.   Let’s start with Happy!

I’ve had this poster on my kitchen wall for about a month now.


It’s always fun to anticipate this annual Southern Gospel Quartet concert in our area, and “O Happy Days,”  this was the weekend!    I have a “history” with this kind of music.  Not only did I grow up among Southerners who sang this kind of music just naturally “around the house”  but when I got into college,  I was the piano player for a men’s Gospel Trio.     I banged out the accompaniment  (rather badly)  and they sang out the Gospel songs (rather badly)  but we had a good time performing in little churches and once in a great big auditorium packed with people.     There’s a kind of fellowship among lovers of Gospel music.

These kind of songs stick in your mind and cheer your heart.    I find myself humming them once in a while.    I remember a surprising amount of the lyrics.    (And If I were the kind,  I’d raise my hands and clap right into the air!     It’s that kind of music!)

I might have done some of that last evening:

SAMSUNG Son and I had  a seat way in the back,  but we really could see everything and hear everything.   (Those five ghostly white people way up there on the stage are some  of the eight singers from the two Quartets which performed. )  They had the traditional sound, which is the best way to experience these numbers.

The leader of one Quartet is Mark Trammel who sang with the Cathedrals some time ago,  who our own Men’s Gospel Trio had tried to imitate.   If I tell you we also tried to imitate the Blackwood Brothers and the Imperials,  I’d be telling you my age.   Nevertheless, you can look these groups up on YouTube — and just let your feet start tapping along.      (For fun,  I’d recommend looking for “The Fourth Man”  or how about:  “This Old House”. . . Or how about enjoying J.D. Sumner and Elvis Presley singing together: “Lord Help Me Jesus.”  Oh, boy.)

The men of the other Quartet were younger in age.  They were in their twenties and to my wonderment belted out a fine strong bass voice that supported a high and wild tenor and an impressive baritone.   These guys are going to carry Gospel music successfully on down to the next generations.

I rarely listen to recorded music in my home or in my car,   but… I think I might a little more often now.


I didn’t “succumb” to their stage offers.   All along I was hoping they’d brought some CDs for us to purchase, and I was glad they had.   What a Happy concert that was!   I’m going to take some Happy along with me.

I do hope you’ll give one of these Quartet concerts in your area and enjoy something really different.    It’s home-grown American music!


November 16, 2009

I’m so lucky to have this drawing.    It was drawn by hand by a friend of my son’s more than ten years ago.   It has an honored place by my music things.   The “timing” was wrong for her and my son to get together, and someone else has the pleasure of being her mother-in-law,  but we are friends, now, just two women-friends.  

Neither of us believe angels look like this, but the picture has some beautiful elements in it.   

I thought of it today after my Monday afternoon class.  It was a small class today, and perhaps that helped us “open up” a bit.   We were discussing Gabriel and the specific things he said to the Blessed Virgin when she was learning about the Son she was to give birth to.   (Luke 1:31-33)   

The class then began to discuss how we “know” things from the heavenly realm, whether it be an angel or the Lord Himself.    I listened in astonishment as these conservative, unassuming people began telling about the times they definitely knew that a “communication” or an “answer” had been given to them.

Oh, there was nothing sensational in their stories, just quiet confirmations of their faith in a variety of ways.    I thought, if  ordinary people like us can have gentle communications from Heaven, then how wonderful it would be to fully comprehend  that we are surrounded by such loving care and attention! 

Each little story I heard today about these angels felt like a sweet little chime that sounded, just below our ability to hear, but musical and lovely just the same;  heavenly music notes.

Now,  I have far fewer CDs than anyone else I know, but I do have two kinds of instrumental music CDs.  One is bagpipes, of course, but I also have a  CD of just chimes.     Soft, sweet, and hardly audible in places;  just a hint of tiny musical notes, not very much stronger than the hint we have of the heavenly realm watching over us.

I’m also not known to care for “modern music” very much, but I do really like the Glass Harmonica.     It too plays lovely ethereal music that sends one’s senses heavenward.  Here is a picture of one in a nice wooden case.   It’s unfortuante that the orchestras took a turn towards heavy strings and brass, but I suppose this instrument is more suited to a private home and to private thoughts.

It is said that the rascal Benjamin Franklin was quite good at it.


September 13, 2009

The musician as a boy:   Dad as boy w guitar

You’re looking at a kid with a tough, tough childhood, holding his one prized possession, the one thing that kept his life going.   That’s my Dad.    And he has given me a lot of surprises.

Anyone who knew him and his family back then wouldn’t have thought he’d amount to anything.    He not only had nothing going for him, he had everything going against him, including way more musical talent than one man can hold in.   But music is the one thread that held his life together, and it is the source of the many surprises for me.

As a little girl I was always surprised to find my Dad lying in bed, looking exhausted, eyes closed, hot and sweaty, but his guitar on his chest and fingers still playing over the strings, practicing something or other.    Something can be THAT important to someone.!

Growing up, what we heard at home from my Dad was the music of Andres Segovia, Christopher Parkening, Django Rhinehart, and various flamenco numbers.    But I learned the “surprising” fact that he made his money from jazz and big band sounds, so people could dance.     This is a sorrow to me, but this is the way the world works.    Lots of times the talent you have won’t earn you a living.    

There were amazing surprises too.   When I was about 12 my Dad casually mentioned the fact that he played for a while with the Tommy Dorsey Band before I was born.   Sheeesh!   That’s big!

And when I asked him a few weeks ago if he had heard that Les Paul had died, he said, yes, that’s too bad…and then he began reminiscing  about the times he spent with Les Paul!   He said used to listen to The Barn Dance on WLS,. Saturday nights, when Les Paul and Jim and Chet Atkins played together in a “hillbilly” trio called Rhubarb Red.    He talked to them sometimes at the studio in downtown Chicago.   

He would meet Les Paul later at music shows, and the two would sit down together and talk about how each of them were experimenting with that unique sound that Les Paul became famous for.    They were both trying different things, although I don’t think any of Mr. Paul’s  tries involved a length of garden hose with two recording heads, one at each end.  Ha! 

We met someone famous out in Denver when I was 18 and my Dad had to get a special made Gibson guitar from him, but .. I was 18, and in a state of misery of my own, at that age.  My memory is not too clear on that time. 

Now my Dad  is stil playing.  Not famous, although he meets professional musicians from time to time.  He takes it all in stride.   He seems oblivious to his great talent, it’s just something that he must do. 

And meanwhile, as we talk on the phone, sometimes I can tell, now, after all these years,  that there are other things  and other people that are important in his mind, besides his guitar.   And that is a very surprising thing to me.