Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released his own Spotify playlist Saturday. Trudeau’s “PM Mix” features 39 songs. Canadian artists including Drake, Shawn Mendes, k.d. lang and The Tragically Hip are prominently featured, as well as other songs by artists like Fiona Apple, R.E.M., Peter Gabriel and Nenah Cherry. Trudeau tweeted about the playlist Saturday morning…
No need to travel to Memphis to feel the vibe
Of the omnipresent monarch of the rock’n roll tribe
He will haunt our memories and dreams
Forever flowing through the connected streams
Where music has traveled in space, breadth and time
Still it is ruled by Elvis Presley in his prime
His signature moves and deep smooth voice
Will often by copied, and for this we rejoice
Feel free to draw down his spirit as your inspiration
He will rain his blessings on your Elvis impersonation
Join poets around the globe to read, write, recite and enjoy poetry in the month of April. #NaPoWriMo website can introduce you to loads of poetic talent. Also, find more poetic fun by following these hashtags on social media. This exciting experiment is open to everyone.
The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is a destination worth a lengthy visit. I spent the day there recently in complete awe. The special exhibit on display now is an incredible collection of artfully inlaid instruments. They exhibit includes videos to show the methods and makers of this specialized art. The intricacy they achieve is impressive, and almost impossible to discern with the naked eye. The museum furnishes the visitors with little flashlights to illuminate the inlay for better appreciation of the detail. This show is all in one large room, but is packed with amazing art. The exhibit is both enlightening and inspirational. I have a new appreciation for this fine craftsmanship.
The well designed space tells the story of the history and evolution of music all around the globe. There are instruments and videos to explain the origins and uses of them arranged by geographic region. Plan to spend a long time, or go back more than once to see the entire space. I took out some time in the afternoon to attend a concert by the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra in the small acoustically perfect theater on site. The selections played were very special for the small space, and I had a front row seat with a direct view of the conductor. It was intimate and wonderfully transformative. I enjoyed the concert immensely, and would return for another matinée the next time I plan a trip. The concert/museum combination is hard to beat. The concert series offers all kinds of music, and the prices are very reasonable for the quality. The concert hall is a real treat in itself. I highly recommend this museum for an hour or a week. It is fascinating, and feeds the soul.
My father used to play this on his guitar, and sing it to me throughout my childhood. Burl Ives made the song popular. I vividly remember both my dad and Burl on television, singing the song. I knew all the words and sang along with gusto. I thought it was funny, but now I know it is also ironic. This is a story about dependent arising. One thing leads to another. It may be a metaphor in a children’s story, but it applies to many circumstances in real life.
Many are suggesting that by unraveling the election and the campaign we will learn something to liberate ourselves. I think not. If we would, however, review the path taken to arrive at this political point in our national life we would have to admit that we, the people, are apathetic. If the population pays no attention, and allows the much despised congress to have its way with us, they will surely continue to serve themselves more than they serve us. There is an established trajectory now of the congressional mission. They are allowed to campaign full time and serve the citizens very little. They have been able to use lobbyists to write the legislation they will pass with little input for constituents at home. Everyone complains about this, but nobody has voted it out of office. How do you think this ends?
The latest warning I have heard about was a big family argument over the holiday at my friend’s dinner table. Her sister-in-law is Venezuelan, which is close to my heart because I lived there in the 60’s. The Venezuelan lady was at odds with her own husband about how dangerous it is to normalize what seems to be extreme fascism. She has lived in Tucson for a long time, but is still connected to her home. My friend said the topic provided grist for the family anger mill all evening. I relate to this because I still know some friends from my youth who are living in Caracas today. Some have moved to the states to live a safe life. What was once a prosperous country is completely out of toilet paper and food. There is little security. The position in which they find themselves now was the result of a series of actions taken in the distant past. I agree with my friend’s sister-in-law, who is much younger than I am, and witnessed the demise of the economy in person. Perhaps Venezuela will swallow a horse and end the madness. It would be very sad. It would also be sad if we learn nothing from their history. We have swallowed a fly…….what shall we do about it, gentle reader?
Writing, music, art, and cuisine are integrated into my daily routine. I am inspired by creative projects of all kinds. I hope my study and practice keeps life fresh and stimulating. I am comfortable writing facts and stating my own opinions. I adore investigating my family tree because I constantly learn about history in a direct and personal way when I discover more facts about my ancestors. I also imagine myself inheriting some spark of talent from each and every one of them. I wish I knew more about the kinds of arts they might have pursued during their lives.
In April I join poets around the world to write 30 poems in 30 days. During the rest of the year I am a sporadic poet, and feel a tinge of guilt about it. This week I will go to a reading at our world-famous U of A Poetry Center. The theme for this series is poetry and climate change. The poets present in an ideal setting for the purpose, then answer questions posed by the audience. The caliber of the talent is outstanding. We are lucky to have this presented to the public here free of charge as part of the Poetry Center’s ongoing work. When I go to the center, either for a reading or to read part of the amazing collection, I feel extra guilt. My famous ancestor poet, Mistress Bradstreet, is represented in the collection. She wrote in colonial Massachusetts and wonders why I am not more prolific as a poet. Life as well as writing were not easy for her because the 1600’s were far less care free for women. She managed to crank out poems that told about historic events of the time in the language of the time. She thinks I should do the same, especially since I have all these electronic devices and twitter. She had nothing so convenient.
I have no real excuse to give to her. When I get into the practice of it I enjoy being a poet. I especially like to hang out with other poets, all of whom are better and more thoughtful then I am. Perhaps the reading this week will prime my poetic pump. Synesthesia is one of my daily goals in life. To create fusion of the senses, then mix them all into memory in order to make them verbal is a fun practice of self discovery. Poetry and music lend themselves to capturing the essence of sensory experience. I am not sure why I don’t do it all the time.
What do you like to do to employ your native creativity, gentle reader? Did you inherit any of your artistic talents (of which you are aware)?
I was lucky to find a perfect celebration for my birthday this year. I just discovered my local beer garden, Tucson Hop Shop. I am not a big beer drinker but am enthusiastic about supporting local business and local craft products, including beer. This classy yet casual spot is perfect for our neighborhood, located in the Metal Arts Village, a space for metal artists’ studios. The Hop Shop has developed a following and has instigated new events that bring the community together for fun. My big birthday gift this year (besides Medicare) is a visit from two Swiss ladies on vacation. I have been enjoying showing them around town because they are really open to culture and ready to party. The SyncHOPation event not only happened on my birthday but was walking distance from home.
Spiritual Gangster is a team that teaches yoga classes around the city in pop up locations. I have never seen yoga with a DJ before, and now I am a complete fan of the idea. I have taught and taken plenty of yoga classes, with and without music. To have a creative DJ work the class is another level of wonderment. The other aspect of the pop up that can be very popular is beer. The participants in the class at the Hop Shop were presented with a pint of beer when they turned in their class tickets. The $5 fee for both yoga and beer is a screaming deal.
My visitors and I had a fine time meeting people, drinking beer and dancing. The art studios were open, the parking lot was blocked off for the event, and the crowd was in a very good mood. Pizza and popcorn food trucks were serving delicious snacks. We enjoyed both with our beverages. My friend Steffi took the yoga class while Pia and I watched from a table on the patio. We toured the studios, did some dancing to the DJ, then walked home. There could not have been a better way to celebrate. If you like beer I highly recommend a visit to the Tucson Hop Shop. It is the perfect place for a party.
I have just discovered a new music app that makes me very happy. I was not shopping for a new one, but I found the tumblr blog for 8 tracks and had to try it. Each set of tracks is selected and curated by a member of the community. Titles and descriptions give a clue about the intention of the curator. An example illustrated above is You Thrill Me when You Drill Me playlist, a collection of jazz and blues from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. This collection of 35 songs includes some very funny lyrics. The staff chooses lists that are very popular to help you select new playlists to try.
I have heard no commercials interrupting my listening so far, but I have only used it for a couple of times. What I love about the offering is a chance to hear other people’s collections and combinations that thrill them as well as a chance to hear new artists and music. I have found almost all the tunes on 8 tracks are new to me. Some of the classical and relaxing style mixes are very artful and enchanting. There is no charge to use it, and the app is free. I look forward to using it at home and in the phone while working out or walking. There is a treasure trove of new music waiting for me in this app. Try it. You’ll like it, gentle reader.
Mandolin trills with sad sounds of distant hills
Waltzing to tunes that copy ancient steps
Taken by ancestors then followed by custom
Hard times in remote poverty stricken hollow
Grist for the mill of class distinction and politics
Strength reserved for the fight against outside
Influences, foreign thinking, radical ideas of justice
Mountain fog and shadows crawl along the valley
Softening the view, keeping it narrow and dark
April is for poetry writing. Join the fun by reading or contributing here. Enjoy!!!!
Yesterday I visited the U of A Poetry Center to find inspiration for my month of writing poems. Much to my surprise I arrived in middle of a special event. Family Day is held once a month in the winter months. Graduate students lead activities designed to stimulate interest in different age groups. I was given a name tag and asked what age group I wished to attend. Since 60 and over was represented by the docents I hung out with them for a few minutes asking questions. The groups were gathered with leaders coaxing them to collaborate. The toddlers were drumming and drawing on the floor. The teens were making up ironic statements about dental hygiene (which were very funny). The middle school group was on the patio writing odes. I took a place at the end of the table where I could hear them, but would not disturb them.
I listened to them praise mother and father, bamboo and bugs. The work was brilliant and astute. I spoke to the leaders after the session. They are graduate students studying creative writing. They said that the activities here leave them completely uplifted and amazed every time they do it. The kids blow their minds, just as they had mine. I did some drawing and free writing while half-tuned into my fellow poets on the rock. That was what I had come to do, so I spent 15 minutes on the task. The snacks were being served and the band was playing in the courtyard, so I hustled on out to see what else was happening.
Chalk was provided and words had been applied to the concrete. Hula hoops and a live band made the festive atmosphere complete. The kids clearly loved Family Day. The parents were pleased too. A beautiful work of art was made on the spot by graduate students in art education. Poems written by the kids that day were written on the background. It was a resounding success. I realized that I had come at the perfect time after all because the kids have the pure innocent free wheeling creativity I want to generate next month.
There were two typewriters set up for people to try, and they were popular. The catering consisted of perfectly ripe fruit and muffins, perfect child fare. I enjoyed the ripe pineapple, strawberries, and honeydew melon. I felt like I had attended one of the best children’s parties ever. The band even included a saw player, and what could be better than that?
Sound is a powerful meditation tool. Chanting has been used around the world by all people to celebrate and honor spiritual beliefs. All the senses are engaged in the holiday customs of now, with little time to be still and know why we are celebrating in the first place. If you are a singer in a choir or caroling ensemble this is a time when you can share music with others in many ways. I love to hear acapella choral music because it requires intense listening on the part of each singer. There is much rehearsal to arrive at the harmony and balance each musical piece requires. Gothic architecture creates superb acoustics for this art form which is still popular in religious services. If you have no gothic cathedral, elegant concert hall or well rehearsed choir, please enjoy this heavenly break from your daily routine. Harmony, in my mind, is the greatest of all human achievements.