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Getting really close to Christmas. 2012 almost over. When I think back, it seems somewhat unreal. So much happened.

 

Yesterday was an amazing day. I had to be up early for my Turkish class, down in Irvine. I took the saz with me as this was our last class of the year and we were going to have a bit of a celebration with Turkish tea, cheese and simit (a kind of Turkish bagel) that our teacher Açalya baked for us. So I thought, why not bring the saz and play a couple of songs for the class.

 

It was pretty cold (for a motorcycle ride that is) at 39 degrees F, I was all geared up with tights under the leathers, balaclava, heated vest cranked up and the big thick winter gloves. I tied up the saz on my back and headed out.

 

Every time I find myself rolling down the freeway at speed, in the sun, on the open road with that California feeling that all is possible, I feel so incredibly blessed.

 

My speedometer has, once again, quit working… I wonder what it is with Suzukis and speedometers… I’ve had two Suzukis and in about two years and had speedometer issues five times…  on this bike, this is the second time within a year that the speedo breaks… go figure…

 

I arrived to class and it was decided that I would play at break for everyone… not just our class but for all the moms, teachers and everyone who was there… We all went in the courtyard, there was pizza, muffins, cakes, drinks and all sorts of food stuff.  Kids ran  around, playing with large balls. Forrest had come to play with me.  We set up to play when it dawned on me… 

 

I was setting up in front of a crowd of Turks… these people actually know this language. When I play Turkish songs at my shows, I always ask if anyone speaks Turkish and so far no one ever did speak the language. This was the real deal and I had to do a good job.  I was slightly nervous as I`ve only been playing the saz for 20 days or so…  These guys will know if this sounds good or not…

 

I warmed up quickly, getting my hands on the saz and getting situated and then started to play the song Alla Beni, Pulla Beni, a beautiful song from Bariş Manço, who is, I was told, kind of the “Elvis” of Turkey, so everyone knew the song.

 

As I started to sing, I heard voices join in. Forrest has learned the first verse so he is also singing along with me. At one point I looked up and there was a whole bunch of phones, cameras held up, they were capturing the moment!

 

We finished to very warm applause.  My teacher said she could understand everything, that was  a good thing! I have no idea how thick or what kind of an accent I have so that was very positive to hear.

 

Some days you ride and everything just gels, Yesterday was one of those days. I took the ramp up to the 57, one of those tight “20 MPH” loops, accelerating and plying the bike down into it.  On the road I felt I was one with my bike, enjoying every acceleration, every maneuvre, cutting through whatever was ahead smoothly. There is such pleasure in this blend of mathematical calculation of relative speed, distance and trajectory and the execution of those calculations on the physical plane  The guessing of the other traffic particles’ courses, and anticipation of other determined courses and one’s own path through all this.

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On the last stretch to San Dimas, I felt like I was flying. It was glorious. Just before the Arrow Highway exit a motor cop was handing a ticket and somehow I felt this was my lucky day.

 

My reward was a Klatch double espresso.

 

I am really grateful for being able to be here, in this place, at this time. My friends here are making these days a thing of wonder. To be able to ride, to see the sun, to be safe, and to be granted such generosity and love… I am thankful beyond words.

 

What else…

 

Well, looks like I finished the book.

 

Yeah, last week this feeling came over me. After re-working the ending for the nth time and doing some more corrections, this calm feeling came over me and I knew that I was done. I have been focusing on this since late August, disappearing in the work and being much of a hermit in the process, jealously guarding my time and energies for that purpose. Of course, it is not done in the sense that I have to find a way to bring it out in the world, but writing wise, it is now pretty much done.  I am waiting for comments from my `test readers` to see what they think, how it worked for them.  

 

I owe much to Ozzy for being able to achieve this work, he understands the creative process and he granted me the space and the peace to bring this thing to life.

 

That was a target of mine, to get the book done this year.  Now that and the CD sit, waiting to be shared with the world. That step is a bit of a challenge.. for financial reasons and organisational reasons. I cursorily looked at a couple of publishers and it looked so very much like the music business and that caused a bit of a cringing feeling. But I have to approach this with a new mindset.

 

And this last week I had an amazing musical experience.  I have to go back to the night we played the Klatch Forrest and I.  We were setting up the gear, I noticed this man in the cafe, he was really paying attention to what we were doing.  When I pulled out the saz from its vinyl bag, he asked me : `What is this instrument?` I told him it was a Turkish saz, he tried it and then his companion told me he was a professional oud player.  The oud is a stringed instrument, ancestor to the lute and guitar.  A fretless instrument with double and single strings.  I had tried one in a music store a couple of months ago.  It is a gorgeous instrument.  

The man then, invited us to join him on Wednesday for a community gathering of musicians who play middle eastern music.  

What was amazing about this to me, was that the previous night I had been day dreaming as I was practicing the saz, about playing with such a group of musicians.  There was perfection in the air.  

So Wednesday I went and that night was absolutely uplifting.  There was about 5 violins, 1 cello, 1 flute player (some kind of middle eastern wooden instrument that sounded so beautiful) one player of another instrument I cannot name, a sort of lying down harp with too many strings to count, then there were djembes and a sort of tambourine and many singers.  

they were rehearsing for an upcoming concert so I did not want to intrude and play bad notes all over, but I was invited to take my saz out and I attempted to join on a couple of songs.  This music is so inspiring.  the new scales, sounds, rhythms, and ways to express the human soul through music.  I could not stop smiling.

They started to play at 8 and were still going at midnight, I am hoping to go back this coming week.  So much to learn…  so much…

 

To all of you, I wish you peace of the heart, dreams and adventures coming true and days that fill the heart.    

 

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Birthday, yes, it was yesterday, the 7th.

Something that keeps coming up year after year.

Am I any different?  From a year ago?  Yeah.  I think so.  This last year has been…  well, if I had been a diamond this last year would have been my carbon.  If I had been jade, this last year was my diamond file.  If I was snow, this last year was my spring sun, then below zero night wind.  In other words this last year shaped me in so many ways.

But y’all know… you’ve been following…  So yesterday, well if yesterday I had been, lets say…  a cake, then yesterday would have been Lucien’s icing on it.  (Lucien is an Uber chef… read back in August..)

It started at midnight, as soon as the calendar date turned over from 6 to 7, I was granted a rendition of the Norwegian happy song.   In the morning, I woke up to over 50 good wishes from FB and call me a sap but that moves me.  Then I was catered to and had breakfast with fresh coffee served to me.

then came the instructions:  “Today you are not allowed to work, write or such activities.  Today you are allowed to demand, be anything you want, do anything you feel like…  so I turned off the computer and donned the leathers and went up the mountain.

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After that I came back home and read a good book.  Then it was time for my “surprise”

Ozzy had asked me what I wanted for my birthday earlier this week, after thinking a bit I said : a surprise!  Why?  Because I have not had that happen to me.  I used to get panicked looks when I would ask for such a thing so it never happened.

I had clues:

Starship 7

Tower

Lights

Tunnel

Mushroom

I thought airport.  But he said it wasn’t it…  I kind of let it go most of the week but as we were driving down the 605 South I started to try : A stadium?   Disneyworld?  I could not find.

Then we turned into LAX’s entrance!  Airport!  I had said airport!!!  but it wasn’t quite the airport… it was the Encounter at the airport… A restaurant, designed and conceived to be like any good self respecting science fiction movie… the thing looks like a spaceship!  The elevator button looks like a thing out of Star Trek, inside the elevator you are greeted by a 60’s soundtrack that was also reminiscent of “the Alien” the first song on my Alien Suite CD…  Inside the decor was amazing, totally truly 60’s space odyssey.  It was awesome!

We had dinner and cake! No self respecting birthday can end without a cake…

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A cake which, despite all appearances I did share!

then we drove back, I downloaded photos and answered all these Facebook wishes, then, played my saz…

Saz or bağlama:  a traditional Turkish stinged  instrument, I had been given one by K last year,  B had gotten it and brought it all the way from Turkey to Ottawa…  but when I left Ottawa I could not take it with me, being on the bike and all…  Last Sunday, I guess you could say my birthday started then, Norman brought me the saz from Vancouver.   How did it get to Vancouver?  Well K shipped it from Ottawa on a Greyhound bus (I kept praying it would stay in one piece).  I did not have it shipped here as the costs go from $47 across Canada to $300 plus, across the USA….  yeah, they really get us…  It arrived at the Greyhound station in Vancouver where  Norman came into play for the team and  picked it up.  Then he  carried it on board his flight to LA last week, then we met and he hand delivered  it to me… then, after that the saz had its first motorcycle ride from Burbank to San Dimas.

This is a traveling instrument…  it went all the way from Istanbul to Ottawa, then Ottawa to Vancouver, then Vancouver to LA and finally LA to San Dimas.  Which is about 9 thousand miles…  wow.

and here it is:

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I have been playing it daily, hours at a time.  I love it.  So I did that last night.

Sunday morning, we did moto stuff : Arkadas has been having issues with rain.  When I would ride in the rain it would sputter and run really badly. Luckily I had only two rides in the rain since August… yeah I know, kind of bragging here, but more rain is coming so I have to make sure we can face it!

Steve had suggested di-electric grease on and inside the plug wires.  We had done one plug, the one under the tank,  that made the bike run about 40% better in the rain, so today we did the other plug.  As we did that we found a disconnected cable,  the fan cable, which I surmise, had been disconnected by the Harley mechanic who did not like “Jap” bikes when  he had repaired my started switch waaaaay back in June… that now explained why I had never heard that fan running…

After that I treated myself to a Klatch espresso… and hours of studying Turkish.  I am starting to be able to write silly little phrases like: “the hat is on the table” I am working hard on learning vocabulary, as most every word is completely foreign to my latin based vocabulary.  I came home and had what we call around here “15 minutes of Fame”  which means do some sort of house cleaning for 15 minutes, I vaccumed the floors, felt good about it, and now, I write to you.
So, all and all an awesome birthday week end.  The sun shines, all is peaceful.

I think I am finally finding my center.  It has been a dense emotional jungle to get through since last April.  I have learned much.  I am grateful.  I did ask to get lessons, to learn and they came and I did.

2013…  I am starting to dream up the next adventures, the next voyage.  It feels good.  I am alive.

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