twisted mystery tree (friday foto finder: tree)

This remarkable tree is in Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco.

I took this photo on a visit there in March of 2009. (The lovely greenness and sunshine are a far cry from the weather we had today here in Massachusetts.)

I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but I love the way it twists around itself.Anyone have an idea of what sort of tree it is?

This week’s friday foto finder theme is “tree,” and I have successfully found a tree photo. On a Friday, even. (Actually, I have oodles of tree photos. It was once again hard to choose. ) To see what other trees have been found, pay a visit to the fff blog.

And since today happens to be International Women’s Day, it seems an appropriate time to share Shaking the Tree by Peter Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour:

There’s nothing to gain when there’s nothing to be lost
There’s nothing to gain if you stay behind and count the cost
Make the decision that you can be who you can be
You can be
Tasting the fruit come to the Liberty Tree
It’s your day – a woman’s day
It’s your day – a woman’s day

Happy International Women’s Day! Go shake some trees.

Note: if you were to shake the trees outside my house right now, you would end up with a lot of snow dumped on your head.

high strung


John and I sometimes joke that the violin is the right instrument for me, being that I can be a little high strung.


When I get too tightly wound, I do sometimes snap.


It should also be noted that I have a tendency to fine tune things.

In case you didn’t see yesterday’s post, I wanted to draw attention to it. (It was the Big Thing I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.) These are some portraits of my collaborator in that endeavor.

Hey diddle diddle

It was the day before the big blizzard was expected to hit Massachusetts, and people all over the state were scrambling to buy their eggs and milk and bread and wine. I found myself in a school, in front of a crowd of several hundred people. And I played the fiddle.

I wasn’t wearing my pajamas, and I wasn’t late for a final. It was not, in fact, a nightmare. It was real, and I was actually supposed to be there. I was one of a small group of parent musicians accompanying the elementary school concert.

Flash back to December. Phoebe mentioned that her school music teacher was looking for an adult to play small violin part in the upcoming February concert. I was intrigued. I’ve been taking violin lessons for a few years, but I have never labeled myself as a violinist. I mean, I take lessons. I am, if anything, a student violinist. The only performances I had ever done with violin were a handful of recitals with my violin teacher and her other students, playing a single song in front of a moderately small audience composed mainly of the parents of the other students. (Who were mostly kids.) And the last of these was 5 years ago.

After some rather fruitless efforts trying to communicate with the teacher via Phoebe, I tracked down the teacher’s email address, and let her know I was interested in learning more about what she needed. She wrote back that another parent had already responded, and she was waiting to hear back. She decided to send me the music to look over, anyhow, in case the first parent decided not to participate. It turned out that there were more violin parts than I had expected, with violin parts to accompany 9 of the songs that the kids would be singing. Nine. On the bright side, they were fairly straight-forward. They were American folk songs, including “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” and “Skip to My Lou.” Phoebe really wanted me to play the violin part of “Fiddle-I-Fee,” one of the songs her grade would be singing, and which featured a prominent fiddle part. I started to learn the music, and became really taken with the idea of playing in the concert.

In the end (and there was a lot of back and forth and waiting and anxiety on my part in the meantime), we worked it out that the other parent and I would both participate, and we’d split the songs. We each took on the violin parts for 4 songs, which were grouped by grade, and then both learned the final song, which was a number sung by all the grades.

I spent a lot of time practicing, and worked on the music with my violin teacher during my lessons, in place of the classical music I usually play with her. I pretty well immersed myself in those songs. I played the CD, provided by the school teacher, of computer-generated instrumental versions of the songs in my car for a month straight. (I mean, when I was driving. I didn’t go out of my way to sit in the car to listen.) I played along with the CD. I played without the CD. I watched YouTube instructional videos on fiddling techniques. I worked myself up. I talked myself down. I played till my fingers were sore.

The concert came, with its two performances to accommodate the crowds of family members of the 400 students of the school, and felt I did pretty well. At the very least, I didn’t embarrass myself (or Phoebe).

I had a great time.

I could write loads more about the whole experience, but I should probably just move along. But I will say that I’d love to find more opportunities to perform.

Anyone need a fiddler?

The Hey diddle diddle image is from wpclipart.com.

Tidings of comfort and joy.

For the past several years, Neil of Citizen of the Month has put together a remarkable online concert to celebrate the many and varied holidays of the winter season, and he has graciously hosted once more. Please go check out the amazing musical and photographic stylings on exhibit at The Seventh Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. As always, the entries are varied and wondrous.

I didn’t manage to get my act together this round, for a variety of reasons, but I hope to again next year. You can find me and my voice in several of the past concerts, but I’m too lazy to see which. Last year was one.

I have been in a dark place since Friday, but I’m not yet ready to share those thoughts. Too many thoughts. I wrote something on Monday, but it is still too raw to post. In the meantime, I have taken comfort in many things, including music. Most of all, I take comfort in having my little ones with me and holding them close.

May they remember only joy this holiday season.

Saving All My Pants For You

 
This edition of National Pants Radio is dedicated to those who seriously love pants: a playlist of classic pants songs to fit all body types.

  • All You Need Is Pants – The Beatles
    However, shirts and shoes are also required for service in most establishments.
  • Pants Me Two Times – The Doors
    Pants me once, shame on you. Pants me twice, shame on me.
  • Pants Will Keep Us Together – Captain and Tennille
    Especially if they are stitched well.
  • Pants Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
    At the seams.
  • Can’t Buy Me Pants – Beatles
    I’m not buying that. Money can buy many things. Even pants.
  • Making Pants Out of Nothing at All – Air Supply
    Would these be invisible pants?
  • Do You Believe In Pants? – Huey Lewis & the News
    Yup. Except maybe the invisible ones.
  • You Give Pants a Bad Name – Bon Jovi
    That style is really unflattering.
  • You’ve Got to Hide Your Pants Away – The Beatles
    Just toss them in the hamper.
  • Tainted Pants – Soft Cell
    I don’t even want to know what those stains are.
  • Where Did Our Pants Go – The Supremes
    Did you check the dryer?
  • A Man Without Pants – Engelbert Humperdinck
    Is he, by any chance, wearing a trenchcoat?
  • Need Your Pants So Bad – Fleetwood Mac
    Um, I’m using them right now. Can’t you get your own?
  • They’ll Never Take Her Pants From Me – Elvis Costello
    That’s just creepy.
  • Addicted To Pants – Robert Palmer
    You and me both, Robert. Better than heroin, though. Or leggings.
  • The Power of Pants – Huey Lewis and The News
    Sustainable. Renewable. Fashionable.
  • Saving All My Pants For You – Whitney Houston
    Um, thanks. I’ll be sure to make space in my closet.

Today marks the 6th anniversary of this blog and a special day for me to reflect on the meaning of pants.