February 1, 2018

“සුභ උදෑසනක් (subha udhāsanak)” A fine “Good Morning” in Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language that you might hear visiting Sri Lanka.

WeeHA! We have a new kitchen faucet!! Its a magnificent set up that reminds me of my professional dishwashing station at the Howard Johnson’s at the Coral Gables Bus Terminal. Its got this big stainless steel spring loaded neck complete with a extendable nozzle that will almost reach to my stove to fill pots. Oh baby! Go ahead indulge in some genuine faucet envy! I won’t think less of you. Getting it in was a challenge for me and Jess ended up rescuing my old ass from under the sink.

I saw a documentary this week on PBS. It was on the Avett Brothers and how they got started. “May It Last” is a deeply personal glimpse into the lives of these thoughtful and talented people. These guys kind of remind me of the old time country music genre. Lots of sadness and loss fills their lyrics. They realize it and have to figure out how to deal with the delivery of their inner most fears in such a completely exposed manner. I found the conflict refreshing on an intellectual level at least. Just because you have the talent and ability to do something well, does that mean you should in ever case. I remember times when I knew I could do something better than the person who was doing it and I let them do it anyway. Its not quite the same as opening up your heart in front of millions like these guys do. I believe that their driver was never the commercial success they have achieved but the need to get it said in their music. At least at the end of the recording of “True Sadness” in the documentary, they were no longer sure. The film shows how the brothers find ways to cope with it and life goes on .. weddings, new babies and they keep singing about it.

This week I learned some stuff:

• I learned that not all basin wrenches are equal. Her is a hint, but one that has an extendable handle and a jaw that will capture a two inch nut. Also not all faucets have standard 1/2 connections, some are 3/8 inch on both the cut off valve side and the faucet side ( think dishwasher connection hoses). Lastly, teflon tape is a wonderful solution to water leaking around the threads on a hose connection. It is also the antichrist of stuff to deal with laying on your back under a sink.
• February 1st is the first date that I have come across on my trusty National Holiday site that failed to deliver a day to celebrate. I find that curious because further research revealed February 1st, 1885 was the day that President Abraham Lincoln signed the joint resolution to add the 13th Amendment forever outlawing slavery in the United States to the Constitution. The Amendment was ratified December 18th that same year. Since February 1, 1942 it has been celebrated as National Freedom Day but President Harry S. Truman, signed it into law on June 30th, 1948 proclaiming that February 1st was National Freedom Day.

Website Update:
• Week 2 of the New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• I added two recipes for you guys this week – Soba Noodles with Miso, Asparagus & Ginger and Thai Fried Rice. Both recipes turned out very tasty dishes.

Writing and Painting Update:
• One more time into the breech! Some time ago, my friends , Roger and Robin took a very interesting picture of a stream that was leading to a waterfall. I asked for permission to use their pic and attempted to paint it. It turned out awful. I hung my head in shame. So some time has passed, wounds heal so I tried again. It still sucks but t sucks less than the first one. I am going to attempt a larger acrylic on canvas of chewy this week. I must love the feeling of self loathing:)
• Perhaps to add insult to injury, I obtained a 16x 20 stretched canvas to begin work on the Chewy Portrait. I realized that I had progressed in paining in acrylics to the point of capturing a pretty nice portrait of our friend Frederick on his porch on the landing of our stairs. It seemed like a good way to remember these four legged folks that added so much to our lives.
• The ceramic cuss jar went into the kiln this week for the clear coat glazing firing. Huh! I bet you never knew ceramics had such a violent vernacular – Glazing, Kiln and Firing – Hoorah! Jessica is in need of some new bigger pots for her plants so i will start on them this Friday and on it goes.

• Joe Montegna is my favorite audio book narrator so far. He narrates some of Robert B. Parker’s audio books. I was curious about Joe so I googled his 71 year old ass and found out some pretty interesting stuff. He got his start in acting on stage in 1969 in Hair. He is also a gun nut and even played Spenser on a couple of tv movies that aired when I was living in Europe. My favorite actor who played Spenser was Robert Urich but another gun nut, Tom Selleck does a pretty good job playing Jesse Stone, another Parker character.
• As someone who has made most of the mistakes and gotten lucky enough to make it through a fairly long life that I have no desire to leave, it strikes me as strange when someone celebrates the passing of a friend by focusing on the tremendous fight the made at the end of their life. First, the concept of “fighting” for my life as a disease follows its purpose and consumes healthy cells and replaces them with bad cells seems convoluted. I mean I get that we want to have enough time to say the things unsaid before and help those that you leave to cope with the changes your passing brings. I get the impression that many feel that there is a “nobility” in this futile appearance of resistance to the inevitable. When my time comes, I hope that I don’t need to “fight” for time to do those things. I hope that I will have told the stories, done the deeds and laughed as much as any of us need to call this life well lived. I hope people will celebrate how much I enjoyed and loved my life with them. I hope that they can focus on how grateful I am for the time we had together. Not how much I struggled for that last breath.

Music Update:
Click here for week’s UJT Radio program. It is still in the single play format but I am working on it. I hope you like this week’s samples.
• The Avett Brothers — No Hard Feelings — This one was featured on the documentary that I watched. For me it is an incredibly insightful song and I hope whenever it is my time, I go with no hard feelings too. This comes from their True Sadness album.
• Jimmy Buffet — Gravity Storm — I know all of my friends are familiar with the physics of potentially remaining upright but I think Jimmy covers it pretty good on this one.
• Doc Watson — Blackberry Blossom — Last week I featured some very very fine young pickers, I thought it might be a good idea to feature one who sort of plowed the field for them a bit. A good while back there was this blind fellow went my the name of Doc Watson. His real first name was Arthel but a radio show announcer thought that was just an odd name and suggested he come up with a nick name. A fan in the audience just shouted out, “Call him Doc” presumably as a homage to Sherlocks famous side kick but we will never know for sure. What is for sure is that it stuck. Doc left the building in 2012 but not before leaving a great legacy of music.
• Rob Thomas — Steetcorner Symphony — I just love this swing beat and how the good Rev Thomas pulls us all in to his light.
• Neil Diamond — Solitary Man — This was Niels first hit single as a recording star. He had written hit songs for others but this one was his first hit as a performer. It was released on his debut album, “The Feel of Neil Diamond” in 1966. It was always one of my favorites.
• Stevie Wonder — Superstition — My granddaughter started singing this one while dishing up her dinner the other night, which made me smile humming along and her mom joined in and I busted out proud. I am not real sure exactly why we are all put on this earth but I hope part of it is passing great music is part of the deal.
• Neil Diamond — America — I found this one looking for Solitary Man. I was moved by its strong message of beauty and strength about our country. It was written in1980, back when America wasn’t afraid and small minded. Listening to this song and remembering how I felt when I first heard it and how different it feels today.
• James Taylor — Knock On Wood — This is a sweet cover of a great old song by Eddie Floyd that we all danced to when we were more limber than we are today.

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember … The best is yet to come!

As always, thank you for being my friend! Happy New Year !

Under the Jacaranda Tree URL: http://www.jfmccann.com