Gifts.

February 22, 2011

Today was meetings. I flew through the landscape on the red machine to North Hollywood, the Magnolia Grille, an old fashioned American restaurant. it is an american classic place, booths, homemade cakes, endless coffee. But I’m sticking to tea…

After that it was off to Altadena, to the Coffee Gallery. Another planned meeting and a few surprise ones. It was all good. Very good.

Then off again towards San Dimas, with a compulsory stop at the Coffee Klatch, I held off drinking coffee all day in all these coffee places so I could get my fix of espresso done to perfection.

I was riding thinking about the fact that so many people will never know how it feels to ride a motorcycle. Thinking that this could have happened to me… I could have gone on down the path of my life in an endless loop. I was thinking about how something like riding has become as necessary as eating, breathing and brushing my teeth. I was thinking how this magnificent gift of a BMW came to be in my life. About the man who decided he was going to part with it and leave it in my hands. I also had a thought for my Suzuki, how it took me all around the country until it couldn’t go no more, emancipating me in the process. It gave all it had.

We played Saturday night, Forrest and I in Rancho Cucamonga. The weather was miserable with violent downpours so there wasn’t much of a crowd. But it was so good. To have the chance to play my music, to hear Forrest play his, to be there with friends…

At my meeting today the lady asked me if I played with a band.. I said :

“I play with a drummer, Forrest Robinson, do you know him? He plays with the likes of India.Arie, Sade, TLC, Anjelique Kidjo…”

She replied :
“Oh! these are the shows I would go see! … He is a Gift! she exclaimed ” To that I replied :
“Oh, I know. An incredible gift from the Gods of music to me…”

so many gifts.

I wish to have the health, the strength, the vision and the steadfastness to be able to rise to the challenges and give back. I can see it…. all of us smiling, laughing.

wait… we already are..

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T’was a dark stormy night

February 19, 2011

The sounds were muffled. Earplugs. My hands feel restricted with the big, thick winter gloves. It’s a black night, a rainy night. The winds are blowing, Sam said forty knots, I have no idea what that means. But the night is awesome. It is stormy, beautiful, dark and alive and I am heading back to San Dimas from San Diego on the BMW in this weather.

I want to do this. I just want to ride. Some think I am nuts, but then I think watching TV is nuts… Yes it is a bit intense, but oh so good. It suddenly reminds me of the main reproach my husband had for me : You’re too intense… oh well there is no one to tell me that anymore so I can do, be and have intense around me without causing waves.

Waves… the rain falls violently at unpredictable intervals in sheets, pounding everything. The face shield fogs up from the inside, despite the highly touted “fog free technology” claims about the said face shields… so far it’s never worked for me… I lift the visor for a few seconds at a time, the fog clears then the wind slaps it back down.

There is foggy drizzle created by the passage of cars, the cold rain water hitting hot undercarriage, hoods… They form packs and run around me, swirl, jump in front of my head lights, playing and toying, lit by the red tail lights in the night. Those lights look like the eyes of wild animals who escaped dark fairy tales. Monsters lurking. We forge on. I breathe.

it’s not cold. I remember riding in the Northwest with this amount of rain but it would be just a few degrees above freezing, dangerously cold. This is warm. But the wind whistles differently, there are no great spruce trees to stop it. It sings a mean little song, infiltrating in the crevices of the helmet. It runs between the mountains, watching us all the while playing nice, then down a hill, picking up momentum until it hits its stride, at full speed it runs at us, and grabs us, the bike and me pulling and shaking us hard.

The night is not easily giving it’s secrets. Sexy and untrustworthy all at once. Beowulf is the hero. He races through it all. The cracks in the road trying to derail us, the wandering drivers, the fog, mist and blasts of wind…

As I crest a serious hill, the rain bursts in another exclamation of pounding drops, cars lift curtains of spray that my headlights transform into a white wall, the car ahead of me slows to a crawl, my front tire shudders and leaves the pavement for a micro second. But Beowulf is steady. I am calm. I am alive. I love this. We ride on.

I leave the slow, scared drivers and find an open car-less expanse of freeway. The engine purrs. A short while later I look to my right and I see, two lanes over, a white semi truck and trailer. We are traveling at the same speed. Zooming in the night. He is huge, massive, weighty. I am small but steady and nimble. For about two miles we go side by side as if tied by some umbilical road cord. For a short moment we are one.

A hill.

He slows, I go on. Aurevoir white truck, farewell.

Around Lake Elsinore the winds get angry, I get pushed again but since there is no one next to me I let them win and push me out of my lane. The road is drying up and we pick up speed. I stay tucked behind the windshield against the gas tank to give less grip to the wind.

Approaching the 210. The rain starts again. Hard. Stormy. Angry. We don’t mind. We are almost there. We are good at this. The instruments glow. A lone motorcycle in a black stormy night on a California freeway.

God I needed the ride.

Remembering a promise to self

February 16, 2011

reservoir on the road to Mount Baldy

I have now set up my recording gear. I have sound and recording tools. Tears rolled down my face. My beautiful headphones, my Audio Technica microphone, but also remembering the past, connecting it to the future, reuniting with the tools that allow me to express… Things… Memories… Turning on the SAW Studio software and seeing the wave files appear, stream by and the meters danced to the rhythm of the sounds. It was emotional.

It brought back the memories of a time when all this was there, all the time, then was gone and now is back again. A circle. Again.

Then I remembered the promise I had made myself after my life came down to a pile of ashes in 2009.

I had promised myself that the main, no, the sole reason for me to exist was to create.

I am a creator and that is what I do. I had promised myself to bring to the world some specific projects, one was the solo album that is now about to be done. An other was to rework some of the instrumental music I had composed for plays and record them to have on an album of instrumental music. It was on my 2010 list, was supposed to happen after the completion of the album… There has just been a slight delay in time.

The promise was about organizing my life so it would be all about creating. Facilitate that. Music, writing, sculpture, whatever medium it happens to be. If it wants to exist then do it. Most everything else is but a distraction.

Remembering that promise suddenly gave me hope. Purpose. I have been a bit shaky these last few days… Lost, momentarily blind.

Then, flooding back in my mind was the setting I had imagined the promise would take place in…. And, surprise, surprise… I am right here… the sun, the endless riding season, the great open spaces… Looks like I actually am on track… Why did I feel so lost?

Tonight, the moon is big and glowy, trying to shine through and fighting the clouds that are seriously starting to pile up as rain is coming to California.

So I took the bike out.

Beowulf

I rode quietly. Some days I get on the bike and ride hard and fast. Other days I just want to be out, on the bike, between the earth and the skies, gliding. Hear the engine. My Beowulf, I love it more and more and more. It is so solid. My protector.

“Don’t worry about the How, just imagine what you want things to be like, feel them, give them life in your soul, see them happening.” That is what Mike Dooley said. Yeah, right. Gotta follow this advice as the “How” will choke you to death.

Wow. If I can only remember that my job in this life is to be in and enjoy the present immediate moment, I will get to the light.

wind mills, Don Quixote would have quite the task

Friday morning we headed East on the I-10 towards Arizona. The ultimate destination was Tucson, where the Bead True Blue show was taking place and I was going to there to be Melanie’s helper. We drove in a… car…

a shifter... for a car...

The first stop was at the General Patton’s museum. A strange place for a museum I thought, but we got to see some military implements.

Dear General

... glad this thing is "sleeping"

Old Glory

Always had a soft spot for '70s pick up trucks

We drove pretty much straight through after that. It was a beautiful blue sky day.

the road ahead

former glory

the hills near Phoenix

at a rest area, someone was having a good time

I had never seen one of those...

We arrived in Tucson around 6 PM to the Double Tree Hotel where the show was taking place.

the hotel

Cozy room

I am now officially a Magpie :

my official Magpie tag.

The hard part came at 6 AM when the alarm sounded. I usually go to bed around 3 AM, now add to this the fact that we lost an hour driving East, it was like 5 AM. I could only grunt. It was pitch dark outside… then light came on the horizon and it was truly beautiful. We brought all the stuff to the Ballroom where we had a table to set up

I am here to here to help and I have to acquire a bit of an education in beads and into Melanie’s work and process, but she is immensely patient and soon we have our table up and running.

the table

Loot and jewels

We met quite the cast of characters.

the hat, costumes, jewels and more lady from Australia

Kia, from New Mexico via India, Nepal and more..

Even Charlotte came to say hi. She is on her moto road adventure

We had good times with drinks and music at night

The show went on from Saturday to Monday, it was work but it went by really fast. I managed to play guitar pretty much all day at the booth. Got a few people puzzled over what kind of instrument I was playing (the Go guitar). On Monday night we dismantled the table and ended up meeting with a few of the people from the show. It was really neat. I played some more.

We left Tuscon after enjoying coffee from what was touted as the “Best Coffee” in town and it was amazing

double espresso with a splash of hot water

It is called Saraya and they only serve coffee. Not even muffins or biscotti. It’s at 5350 East Broadway.

Long beautiful wooden bar

then it was the road again. We stopped once and Melanie drove the Caddy swiftly back to San Dimas. We had quite the light show…

Hand of God clouds

End of the ozone layer sun photo

Mountains, sun and wind mills

more windmills

trucking

detour on the 60

sunset

clouds

in the HOV lane, we're almost home

We got home around 6 PM, unloaded, shared dinner and stories. I got the Lapsteel out and realized I had missed it! played until midnight or so then went to bed.

the next day, I got out on my bike and it felt SO good… did not go too far but it was just awesome. The California sun. It was interesting to realize that I felt like I had come back “home”. I really do like it here… really do.

Beowulf

Game planning

February 3, 2011

Beowulf up the mountain road

The days are starting to feel like spring, yes it’s only barely February but they are getting longer and the shift of the planet is palpable. All is good. Really good. I am thankful, comfortable, laugh a lot… It’s beautifully simple and oh so heart fulfilling .

what's to be added?

In a couple of days I will be going to Tucson with the amazing-beautiful Melanie. I will help her with her table at the Bead show there.

Beads and shimmery things, who knew? There is a whole universe of souls attracted to the small beautiful things, jewels and hand made treasures from glamorous to quirky. They are a bit like songs, put together, word by word, line by line, inflection and rhythms to form a whole. Very much like songs…

Oh all that glimmers...

I am blessed to no end with the people I live with. The weather is gentle and good to me, I am falling in love with my new bike and I play one guitar or another pretty much everyday.

a revision on the french baguette & bicycle theme

I feel a push. A push to do some things. The book… playing..

Then there is also the album. #5, we are conspiring to find the best time to return to Nashville and mix and finish it. I have this feeling that this has to be done soon. I might leave as early as mid February… we’ll see what transpires, the wheels are in motion.

I will also need to go to Vancouver, be there by late April, personal things to handle, close, be done with…

And…

The road calls.

blue green

With all that is going on, I realize motion is necessary. Vital. With the Go guitar I now can have music with me. That is vital too. It is easy, oh so easy to start accumulating gravity bound stuff. To start behaving as if the material world knows best. To be driven instead of piloting.

The Universe gave me Beowulf… a touring machine. We are definitely getting closer. The main feeling I get from this machine is that it will take care of me.. I feel this strongly. Beowulf… strong warrior, tireless traveler, here to take care of me and the guitar. Some things need to be done like waterproofing the tent, take stock of what I need, figure out the logistics and do some… planning. Yeah, I said it, some planning. The territory I can cover is still largely dictated by weather, mountain passes but mainly ice. Ice I cannot have. As much as my summer journey was about following my nose, this time I want to find the communities, the people, where the music can live… I want to find the downtowns, the good coffee, the heart of things, of people.

and as much as the summer journey was me alone, this time I need to connect.

I am not sure why, what, where, how, the finances are very limited. But at this point material issues cannot be directing my choices. The day I left in June I put my fate in the hands of the maker and it has been the best time of my life with learning and discovery and then gifts that overwhelmed me in so many ways. To be available, open to the greater forces. Use my gifts and talents. Receive others in my world. Share the moment.

I wish to see more. See with my heart. Be “electronized” and fly through the universe again, anew. I want to share. Be one. Just be. Live above the hurts of the bones and flesh and connect with the light of it all. There was so much darkness. That maybe why I can’t get enough of this California sun. That it may pour on me and remind me of truth.

the accidental photo of the adventuress

When we went and played at Taylormade Racing, I met their neighbor; Michael Flechtner (www.Flektro.com) He is a neon artist. I had stepped into his shoppe to see what this was about and was instantly caught by the magic vibe in the air. Michael has just been commissioned to create a stamp for the US Postal Service, quite an honor, he took the time, on a Tuesday night, amidst all the press and media madness to show me how to bend glass and how neon lights are made.

Human beings are intrinsically attracted to shiny things. Neon has that capacity to woo us with its incandescent bright colors filling the eye with playful brilliance. And we fall for it.

So the moth that I am went back for more.

Glass is very flexible once heated. It also keeps pretty much to it’s shape if you don’t mess up too badly (like I did!). We started with a letter design : DH, my initials, in capital letters. I

Michael built all the pieces then melted them together and I could see my initials taking shape. It looked really simple and easy but I knew better than to think it is.

The crossfire

perfecting the shape

Give me a D!

Once the glass was shaped and put together we went on to the “mad scientist” side of the shop where rare gases, electrical power that could literally fry your socks off (and more..) and vacuum system are waiting for us.

18 000 volt transformer...

Vacuum system

Rare gases and of course Kryptonite...

We decided to go for a blue color so we had to put mercury in the system, in a little “trap” to use once the neon gas would be in the tube, the mercury makes the neon go from red to blue.

a little shot of mercury anyone?

Then we have to empty the tube of all materials, air, fluids, that is when the 18 000 volt thingy comes into play, with the tube sealed, you blast the electricity and heat up the whole thing to 500 degrees F. It happens fast. It’s kind of a violent experiment but then the whole thing glows like mad. It’s beautiful. Dangerous and beautiful.

one of the few temperature gauges

the glass is set up with piece of mica over an elevated surface

the beautifully dangerous glow of burning matter

The next stage is to put the gas in the tube and put electrodes on each end to light it. after that is done it gets plugged in and the magic happens. the red neon gas turns to blue with the help of mercury and we’re all mesmerized.

just lit up before the mercury starts to create the reaction

turning blue


whoooo...

mesmerizing

love the curves and lines

After this was all done, I got my chance to try to bend glass. My first attempt was hilariously bad, when I managed to not bend the glass, blow a hole through it and collapse the shape where I wanted to bend the glass. I laughed so hard, it was just too funny. Sometimes it’s just good to be really bad at something.

The next few tries I started to understand how fast and how tensile the material actually is. There are a few parameters you have to keep under control : Heat the glass evenly, keep it centered in the cross fire, keep moving it, and be very aware of the state of the material so you bend just at the right moment, not blowing too much air or too little. After about 5 tries I was starting to get something that looked like a 90 degree angle. There is an interesting conversation that starts between you and the glass. the imposition of your will on to the matter. It was a very interesting experience.

We ended and went for a bite to eat. I then hopped back on Beowulf, balaclava, heated vest and all related warm gear as the nights are cool and I headed back towards San Dimas.

As I climbed towards the mountains. Beowulf glides into the night. We are only in January but I feel the earth turning and the days are lengthening. I feel the call of spring and the call of the road. I’m so grateful I still have a bike to ride.

What a cool little evening adventure. Neon glow in the night. Now I ride, I feel free, my head is full of bright things, as Ozzy would say : We got it good.