June 10th, 2016

Mino gigizheb ! (“It’s a Good Morning” in Algonquian, spoken in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and in the US states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota !!!)

We had the 19th Rock & Roll Marathon this week. I was moved by a story about two firefighters who ran the race in full gear in honor of a friend and fellow firefighter who lost his life to cancer this year. To me this feat is monumental in their demonstration of their love for their friend and personal code of honor. I am amazed they both lived.

This week ended with an interesting interview of President Obama by Jimmy Fallon of all people. The President gave us some insights on his time in office, the elections, the Republican Party and his view for his future. I thought his remarks about the Republican Party in particular were interesting. He actually worries about the other party as he feels (and I think he is correct on this) that the 2 party system only works if both parties are functional and though presenting different philosophies pursue the good of the country. He feels that is missing now and gave several examples of why is detrimental to the greater good. As you know, I have been a proponent off disengaging the 2 party system from our democracy for some time. He didn’t go that far but underneath his remarks, there was a sense of foreboding about what happens if there is not some systematic correction soon.

This week I learned some stuff:
• This was a week where I bumped into some personal limitations. I don’t have the strength nor stamina that I once did. We have a lot of projects working around the house. I am whittling them down but I find that I have to do some of them in increments. So a job that used to take me an hour or two of dedicated work, now is spread over 2 days. Getting old sucks, but its still much better than the alternative:)
• I learned how to make Sushi. It was a fun family thing. We all made our own rolls. Jessica and BJ seemed to have a special affinity for making sushi.

Website Update
• Whoohhooo! We have a New Vocabulary quiz! Its exciting but try to remain calm.
• Fixed some typos on the Poetry Page. It was great revisiting that part of the site. I watched the TED special that featured Sarah Kay. That is one very special lady. Do yourself a favor, if haven’t seen or even if you have seen Sarah’s, “If I should have a daughter…”, watch it.

Painting Update:
• BJ continued to impress us with his colored pencil work. Once again, I failed again to wet a brush.

Writing Update:
• Working again on finishing the Grandpa Stories edit. I am having a lot of trouble getting into it again (as if I was ever into editing!). Going back to the Reading section of UJT, I found my update on my now abandoned book, Artifacts. I wonder if my attraction was one of those distracting bright colors that catches your eye or something more substantial but lost in the blurry places in my life? Hmmm.

• “A Pinch to Grow On”. Whenever my Grandma Margret used to measure something like a tablespoon of coco for each mug of milk she warmed for my little brother and I, she would add a “Pinch to Grow On”. This morning when I was making the coffee, I dutifully counted out my 10 spoonfuls of grounds and added a “Pinch To Grow On”. How do we hang on to these things so well and dearly?
• Going back to the Reading section of UJT, I found my 2013 update on my now abandoned book, Artifacts. I wonder if my attraction to that story was one of those distracting bright colors that catches your eye or something more substantial but lost in the blurry places in my life? Hmmm.
• I started smoking a pipe at the age of like 14 in the fall and winter when the Miami weather would try to be crappy for days at a time. A bad Miami fall or winter had temps from the 50-40s and hard cold rain that would beat the windows and roof. Perfect weather for a fledgling romantic to read his Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Of course, to enjoy the moment fully I had to buy a pipe not a Meerschaum like Sherlock’s but a much more modest one in both size and price. None the less, I would find times when I was home alone, with the night and rain pressing down as I produced that wonderful layer of smoke that smelled so sweet and caught the light just so. A completely perfect atmosphere for following the signs with Holmes as he pursued the Hound across the Moors, except that I wasn’t a robust man. I was this skinny seriously too tall for my age bibliophile, years from having any whiskers at all, who looked completely ridiculous puffing on this pipe. Well, I finally grew into the old “robust” (if robust means well fed:) bibliophile that no longer looks like a boy imitating his great uncle, Basil. In fact, when I found my old pipe and tobacco in the stuff that I was unpacking in my move, I found that I do a great Uncle Basil now. Anyone need one of those?

Music Update:
I really didn’t get to play much music this week. In fact, I want to thank you for the opportunity to pick the selections for the UJT because with just a couple of exceptions, it was my only chance to listen this week.

• Derek and the Dominos – Mean Old World — Duane and Erick doing their best impression of the old slide players of the 1920s and 1930s. Sweet old time blues guitar playing.
• Joey Alexander – Ma Blues — I hope you all got a chance to see this 12 year old prodigy play on 60 minutes last Sunday or maybe you were fortunate enough to hear him on a TED talk in 2015. If you aren’t impressed by this kid from Bali, who taught him self from listening to his dads jazz records, then there is something very wrong.
• U2 – With or Without You — From their Joshua Tree album, this song just expresses the total commitment of love that simply cannot be explained or justified but none the less is a force that cannot be denied resulting in a lifetime of hopeless despair or a completeness and intimacy only dreamed of by most. The magic is that we are all quite capable of this kind of surrender.
• Bruce Cockburn – After the Rain — Here is another song from this amazing artist that I told you all about last week. This jazzy tune is just magic. I had to listen to it 3 or 4 times to get all of the subtleties woven in. As always Bruce’s guitar is impeccable but so are all of the other players.
• Tom Petty – Crawling Back to You – This one is from his Wildflowers “solo” album that almost all of the Heartbreakers play on. Its just a nice song about surrender, forgiveness and hope. Hey wouldn’t life be great if we all had more of those features.
• David Pack – Your the Only Woman — I first heard this song when I stumbled on to the great band Ambrosia early, like in 1975. He has been a force of one ever since those days not only as a performer but as a Grammy winning producer as well. His charitable work is just as impressive as his musical accomplishments. This is perhaps a less polished, more soulful version of a song that has always been a favorite of mine.
• The McClymonts – A Woman is a Flame — I have always been a sucker for great harmonies, and these three sisters from Australia deliver. This is a cut from their, “Wrapped Up Good” album. Its a bit different for me, but I hope you enjoy it.
• Jackson Browne – Lawyers in Love — This is a cut from the 1983 album of the same name. Its a well written and played tune that seems like a testimony about the Regan years.

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!