Saturday Songs on a Sunday

One Day Late, and All Over the Place

English: Portrait of Edmond Halley painted aro...

Portrait of Edmond Halley, 1687
by Thomas Murray (Royal Society, London)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the birthday of astronomer Edmund Halley (Just imagine this being read in the voice of Garrison Keillor). On November 8th, 1656 the first astronomer to predict the return of a certain comet, to be named later, was born somewhere in England. I really should look it up.

But that might explain why the last couple of days I’ve been singing the first song in today’s day-late Saturday Song feature. This tune by Mary Chapin Carpenter has inspired me to plan my 95th birthday/comet-return party on the porch of my as yet unknown future residence.  You are all invited.

The video includes pages from the book illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Call me cheesy, and melt me on a burger, but I find it kinda sweet. You may know that I’ve featured songs by MCP before. If you didn’t know that, just check the related posts below.

Not Waiting for the Next Storm

The next song in this eclectic weekend mix is kind of part two to yesterday. In fact I might bring Mary and Frank back for a threesome tomorrow. Now, don’t think like that! I only mean that since Saturday Songs are already leaking into Sundays, why not join up with the Music Monday feature as well. I’ve never been able to fully distinguish the two, though there was a time when one was meant to highlight poetry, meter and other musical elements related to verse. Ah well, like language, blogs evolve. And as far as doing a trio of posts with Frank, I just seem to be in one of those stages of life when I recognize myself in songs, and it’s quicker and more thorough to explain things by using someone else’s lyrics and notes.

Anyway, I mentioned yesterday that my son Jonathan had posted “Get Better” by Frank Turner on his Facebook page, making me feel proud for whatever peripheral role I may have played in introducing him to music he actually likes and still listens  to.  Then last night I remembered that earlier this week Micah, my youngest son, re-shared an old blog post of his own with the Frank Turner song, “Peggy Sang the Blues.” Great tune; you should click on it. So I realize that I’ve got a whole lot of Frank T. in my veins right now.

Photo Laurent Schwebel

Photo by Laurent Schwebel.
“The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over. ” — Aesop

This song sort of covers my last several blog posts in three minutes and thirty-five seconds. You see, I was talking to Richard, one of those people you pay to listen to your troubles–not a bad idea, because it gives you a captive audience, and sometimes you get lucky, as I did with Richard, and you get some amazingly helpful advice in return.

“Richard,” I said, “When I’m having a good day, I invariably begin to worry, wondering what’s going to go wrong. Something always does. Nothing ever goes well for long.”

“David,” said he, “It sounds like you’ve become convinced that the world is a scary and dangerous place. There is more to the world than storms and survival; there is joy and beauty too.”

The conversation went something like that, and we started to discuss the trees deep roots, and the flexible branches and a lot of other practical ways for me to teach myself that, as Richard said, “It’s not the stuff; it’s the way I react to the stuff.”

Saturday Songs from Frank Turner

Jon with the Blue Guitar

Jon with the Blue Guitar

This is the first weekend, in–I don’t know–months? The first weekend since the first interview, since the decision to start looking for a new place in case I got this job. The first weekend that does not involve travel for me of any kind. No rushing back more than an hour away to pack, or to clean, no dinners, no obligations. Just time to myself to sort out my pantry, find out what is in which box, and to put together a cart for the microwave to sit on.

And so it’s a good time for a brief Saturday song or two, or three, and for being as honest I can, like the musical artist I’m featuring in this post. I’ve been listening today to Frank Turner’s new album, Positive Songs for Negative People, and thinking about what I’ve learned, and where I’ve been these last eight years. I went back to school, got the degree, moved out of the business that was killing me and my knee, and managed to scrape by doing something I really love. I’ve watched my sons grow into men. I fell in love again, and this time with someone who never lets me forget how much he loves me back. That whole sappy-still-crazy-about-each-other thing after more than six years.

And now I have made the biggest move of my life since the Indiana years. I love my new job. I love my new home, and despite the difficulties of the last couple of years, family health issues, and fears, as Frank says in this first song, “I took a battering but I’ve got thicker skin, and the best people I know looking out for me.” And really, it’s some of those people who have suffered more than I have. And to a couple of you I want to apologize for burning out and letting you down.

English: Frank Turner at an XFM radio session ...

Frank Turner at an XFM radio session in London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of you told me recently, when I used all the wrong words, that I was supposed to be a poet, I was supposed to be good at stringing the right words together. I guess my only defense is that it’s easier in writing. Even in blog posts I get to come back after I hit the publish button and rework a sentence, correct a typo. In poems I have an even greater advantage, as I sit on them usually for long periods of time, coming back occasionally to edit and polish and make sure I have “the best words in the best order” before anyone reads a word of them.

But please don’t think me maudlin today. Instead I am hopeful and mostly feeling positive. We’ve worked hard, and sometimes the work involved letting go and rocking with the winds, like that tree my counselor friend told me about–roots down deep and a sturdy, but flexible trunk, bendable branches. So I’m feeling mostly positive and peaceful.

My middle son Jonathan, pictured up there with the blue guitar, shared this first song recently on Facebook, and that’s just one illustration of why I am proud of him, and his brothers. Three good, and kind young men. Maybe it’s despite it all that they turned out that way, but I’d like to think that their mother and I might have done something right.

The Old Man

The Old Man

In this second song Frank uses a tennis metaphor to consider his approach to forty. I’m closer to fifty now, but I too “can well recall the day my father reached the ancient age / That’s now baring down.” And like him, I think, “I’m long in the tooth. / But I’m ready for the truth.” It wasn’t long back that I could say, “I’m battered and bruised. / And I can’t afford to lose.” Here’s to recovery, folks. Like the ten-year-old son of a friend of mine said, as we were carrying the last heavy items through the threshold of our new home, “You’ve got to believe in yourself! You can do it!” Thanks, Pauly; that honestly helped more than you know.

First Sunday “All In”

All InWe’re officially all in the new home, well, except for the Bravada, packed to the ceiling with last-minute things. I had to decide what went to the dump (Well that was easy–cracked bed frame, anyone?), what went to the Good Will store, and what childhood memories could and should be salvaged. In short, aside from the closet full of tools, and the drawer full of knives–happy Halloween!–that I had forgotten, last minute clean-up day of the old abode in Norry saw me exit with light sabers, Matchbox cars, Legos, and Lord of the Rings action figures. Oh, and an arsenal of high-powered squirt guns. The boys may be men now, but some treasures must not be lost.

Mailbox from Blues Clues started singing “Mail time! Maaaaiil time” from the bottom of the box as I handed it to the cute young man, who smiled and said, “Nice!” at the receiving deck.  Thank you, cute young man; that helped release that feeling of wanting to hold onto every last bit concrete evidence of my sons’ childhood. Well, it helped a little. And some kid is gonna enjoy a couple of remote-control toys still in their boxes (Sometimes I over-did Christmas, I couldn’t help it).

But the family vehicle remains in the driveway for now. Thing is, after the big move last weekend, living like a gypsy for two weeks before that, the travelling for two months before that, the house-hunting, the interviews, the training, and now as of yesterday, the final clean-up at the old place (I could only do it on the weekends), I needed just a little something chocolaty and rummy in my coffee this morning. Yum! Not doing anything important until after my nap today.

Before leaving the place on Front Street I did a bit of a ritual that fits with what I like to do when important events transpire. It was suggested by a dear friend, so I made it a little more purposeful. I walked into each empty room and blessed the house (well, I’m an unbeliever, but still), and wished well for those who would come and make their home in the future. I thanked the walls for the life they had surrounded there, the good, the dark, the happy, the sad. It was a rough year, to be sure, but it had it’s bright spots, and its guiding stars.

And now, I am here, the old place swept (mostly) clean. No urgent need to go back, except to visit dear friends. And this place already feels like home. The top photo was from last Saturday night, after the truck was completely unloaded, and beer and pizza were being greedily and gratefully consumed. The next photo was a “before” snap of our kitchen, for Brian’s benefit before he saw it in person. And the rest are from Monday. I’ll have more when we actually have the place more sorted, and things are hanging on the walls properly.

Now, back to writing!


Well, not the blog. That’s staying. But I’m moving for the new library job. Right now I am panicking–I mean packing! Next weekend is the big move, and I’m sure we’ll look just as happy as those smiling folks in the picture. Yeah, moving day is always joyful and sweet like that. Meanwhile I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Wilkes-Barre and Northumberland.

So this teeny post is just to say that I probably won’t see you until November. There are lots of old crazy posts you could waste your time with here in the off-chance that you get to missing me. Make yourself at home, and I’ll be back soon!

PS: Word (or more specifically, WordPress) has it that my son, The Monkey Prodigy will be posting again soon too! Isn’t this exciting!?

An Announcement: We’re Gonna Make It.

English: Postage stamp depicting the main buil...Postage stamp depicting the main building of the Tampere City Library (“Metso”), designed by Raili & Reima Pietilä (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes! Finally I can tell you some things. There are still struggles; there are still problems. Some of these I can’t talk about, mostly because I wish to maintain the privacy of those involved. Other issues I won’t bother to mention, basically because we all have these problems. The car breaks down. Your indoor cat somehow gets fleas.

And while it’s good to purge sometimes, I prefer selective and productive dumping, so as not to pollute the public’s emotional water ways. Sometimes others need to hear the specifics of your struggles, so that they do not feel alone. This isn’t one of those days. Today I need to share a bit of good news, because the gods know I have been needing some good news. And in this way, I hope to bring some encouragement, not through commiseration, but through celebration, and tangible reasons for hope.

So let’s boil this down. My beautiful 100-year-old building was bought by new owners this year. I was a little worried because frankly I’ve been living here pretty cheaply, and that allowed me to take that leap and quit the restaurant biz, go full-time at the library, and start working on that freelance editing thing. But the first time they raised the rent it was only by 25 bucks. Whew. Then, like my knee, the car broke down. No problem, we have another car and I can walk up the street to work. It will take time, but we’re gonna make it, I thought.

My table that I don't sit a often enough.

My table that I don’t sit a often enough.

Then in July we got the news that the rent would go up again, with the promise of a further hike coming in January. All totaled that’s a 200 dollar rise in rent in their first year of owning this place! Hey, if I’m going to pay that I want at least a postage-stamp-yard, not just a stone courtyard, with stones that are only there because friends and I drove the truck and put them there (with sweat, and little help from the previous landlord).

For that price I want a place with more light, not a cave tucked in between these dark buildings. I want a view akin to what I had when I was up on the third floor, when our family was smaller, a view that looked over the building toward the hills along the river, not this view of an ugly wall. For that price I want the stained tiles in my kitchen ceiling replaced, like the landlord promised months ago. A little insulation in the place would be nice too. The cheap rent only served to offset the high cost of heating and cooling.

There are nicer places (and we don’t need one quite this big now that the boys are older) for that price. But even so, I couldn’t afford the two hundred-dollar hike, not yet. The budget really was that tight. It meant a change in plans, and honestly taking my wounded knee and my battered heart back into waiting tables just wasn’t an option. I love my job at the library here. For the last year and a half I’ve been happy going to work, not dreading it (even when the computer lab tech issues seem to be conspiring to bring me down!). But circumstances were just making it clear that I needed to adjust my plans.

And to keep this story from taking up your whole day, here’s the news: After some inquiries, two interviews, and several weeks, I have accepted a job offer that (once I get past all the moving expenses–thank you to my friends who are offering assistance!) will get our heads above water again. No, we won’t be living lavish life-styles of the rich and famous, but we’ll be in much better shape and on our feet financially again.

They were a tad younger here.

They were a tad younger here.

It’s a little further from my sons, but my sons are well above driving age now, and really the few extra miles just make sense. We’ll be closer to Brian’s family, and that will save him his monthly week-long absences to work with his brother and father. And we have friends in the area too, so while we will miss our Northumberland-Lewisburg crowd, we will not be adrift or alone.

I’ll be supervising a small branch library and learning a little each week in the large home library downtown too. There is a local, active arts, music and poetry scene, and I’m looking forward to getting involved once we settle in. I’ve scouted out birding opportunities in the vicinity–it’s important! There’s even a little fall hawk watch south of town. And of course, we can pay the bills, rather than juggle them, without my having to do any more damage to my body on restaurant floors.

So that’s the scoop. The picture in the video below makes me chuckle, because while we are not exactly moving to “the big city,” for this country boy, it’s pretty close. So allow me a little artistic license here. As I’ve said elsewhere, “I’m a poet, not a historian.” EDIT: It seems the original video has been deleted, so by way of explanation, the image was a city-scape, and was meant to be a visual commentary for this well-traveled country boy. So I’ve come back and substituted this classic performance, introduced by “Hoss.” I hope you’ll call him that. ;-)

It’s interesting, as I type this post in the editing window, WordPress is suggesting tags that include Star Wars, Nazi concentration camps, World War II, and the Associated Press. These are big life changes going on for us, but thanks for the contrast, WP Editor; It’s really not that bad. Here’s Little Milton (no, my cat is not named after him) with “We’re Gonna Make It.”