Love Notes



Alas, not the written kind folks.   I’ve haven’t gotten too many of those in my nearly sixty-two years.  Lamentable….I know….right?! Not to worry though as I certainly haven’t let it define my life.  In fact, the few I have received (which I could name on one hand with digits left over) were special enough to make up for any perceived scarcity in the love note department.

What I am referring to on this day though are musical notes of love.  I’ve been listening to evocative romantic tunes since before my feet hit the floor this morning.   An eclectic mix of tunes from classical music (Chopin, Debussy and Bizet just to name a few) to Chris Botti and his trumpet, Keith Urban (oh where did that come from?!) and then various cedar flute selections filled the house.  Later, it would be Hearts of Space music with  David Darling’s cello that would accompany me into the woods on my morning walk and afterwards Tibetan Bells helped me to zone out for a few minutes.  In effect, my heart has been all over the place on this day after Valentines Day…from happy to heavy and all the notes in-between.

I’ll attempt to explain but honestly, the right words elude me….

My turning (and tuning) in-ward began yesterday actually, on Valentines Day.  It started early with a doorbell ring, which naturally made The Poodle bark like crazy.  He could see who was at the door and was positively busting with Poodle joy.  I had just stepped out of the shower and was, admittedly, annoyed by all the ruckus.   When The Poodle barks it often rattles my gray matter and tests mightily my patience.  I quickly donned a robe and off I went to see what had my pooch in such a tizzy.

Through the window, I could see a car pulling out of my driveway. The Poodle’s snout was squashed against the window as he whined and barked in happy excitement.

Ah…. Okay.  I see. 

My nephew, on this way to school, had left something on my front doorstep.

I opened the door to find a perfect pink rose surrounded by lovely baby’s breath.

Swoon. My first love note of the day!

My heart swelled and feelings of love kept my steps light as a feather as I breezed through morning chores humming to Coldplay and, again…. Keith Urban.  There was a brief text consisting of a string of love emojis from my husband, who was away on business travel, and even a Happy Valentines text–the first in sixteen years– from my son who continues to be mired in difficulties that make my heart break.

And then a whisper…through cyberspace…broke the spell of love notes….

I was not surprised by the email from my beloved auntie Linda;  sis and I knew it would be coming.  Linda’s husband–my favorite uncle, Uncle Budd, was expected to take his last breath imminently.  He had been under hospice care for some time.  As I read her words I became aware that I was holding my breath….

I closed my eyes and let out a long and slow exhale.  So, I decided to sit for a spell with The Poodle curled in my lap, abandoning what I had planned for the rest of the day.

I simply wanted space to remember….

In crystal clarity I can see the twinkle in his piercing blue eyes…and, I feel his loving hugs–surprisingly strong for a man of his advanced years–hugs that he gave me when I saw him last, in 2014, on the occasion of his 90th birthday.   This man, a loving and devoted husband and father, served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  He was the epitome of The Greatest Generation.    A soulful cello piece plays in the background  as I think about that visit with my uncle.  A single tear rolls down my cheek….followed by another….and another….

And there it wasregret bubbled to the surface.

I had too few moments with my uncle because  I had allowed–consciously and unconsciously–the baggage of a wrecked childhood to define me for too long….and then later, as if awakened from a slumber of a hundred years, life and geographic distance got in the way of regular visits.  I wipe the tears with the sleeve of my shirt and caress The Poodle.  “We’re all going to go,” I whisper…”there is no time to waste.”

How blessed I feel to have lovely things to think about…memories forever cherished with Uncle Budd.  There were a string of brief visits we shared in Carefree, Arizona when I’d be visiting my mother and he’d pilot his plane in to a private airport literally around the corner from where my mother lived.  I cherished those visits with my Aunt and Uncle.  We’d imbibe on good wine and catch up on life including their stories of travel and adventures but more importantly, I treasured the loving shoulders to cry on (and cry on them I did).  I hungered for their unconditional love and understanding along with Uncle Budd’s bear hugs that sent rays of brilliant sunshine straight to the ever-present hole in my heart.    And, I’ll never forget that long June weekend some fifteen years ago to the last frontier….Alaska –the place where my aunt and uncle called home for many years.  Rocket-man and I had decided to run  the Anchorage marathon.  I didn’t even need to finish the sentence when I had called to ask if we could come to “hang out” while we ran a marathon.  My aunt and uncle made me feel like a rock star that weekend…

so now….

Before us great Death stands
Our fate held close within his quiet hands.
When with proud joy we lift Life’s red wine
To drink deep of the mystic shining cup
And ecstasy through all our being leaps—
Death bows his head and weeps.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Uncle Budd and I on his 90th Birthday in Seattle Washington

This gentle giant, in my eyes, has now passed.  His beautiful soul now makes the journey upwards –into the blue skies where his physical body once flew.  Though death had a duty to take him he lives on, I believe, through all the souls he touched during his 94 years on this earth.

There is, through salty tears aplenty,  a certain comfort in that.

I love you Uncle Budd.  Rest assured we will all take good care of your loved ones here as best we can until it is their time to take the journey to be at your side.


Time Travel

I took a short late afternoon walk with The Poodle yesterday. I’d already dragged him out early in the morning for a five mile walk when it was cooler.  He wasn’t in the mood for a second walk; I had to drag him out. But I had been on the sofa in a T.V. stupor for nearly two hours, watching first an episode of The Big Bang Theory and then the remainder of a Queen Latifah movie.

I needed to get the oil back into the joints as it were.  I just wasn’t up for a spin session nor even, oddly enough in the pleasant weather, an outside cycle ride.  A little fresh air with The Poodle was really all my body wanted.

I pulled up Spotify on my phone and decided on classical instead of pop music. As soon as I selected Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ I was immediately transported back over thirty-three years. In those days I had a little Bell and Howell cassette player that my father had given me when I was a teen along with a handful of music cassette tapes (remember those?).  Most of my tapes were of the classical music variety.  My two favorites at the time were Vivaldi and Tomaso Albinoni. My then husband was in the military and traveled a great deal so I was alone a lot; Hmm. it occurs to me just now that this seems to be a theme in my life!   Anyhow, I’d listen to Albinoni  quite a lot while I was pregnant with my first born—my son—often placing the cassette player near or on my growing belly during afternoon naps or late in the evening so that the baby could hear the music too. I’d play the Adagio in G minor piece over and over. Somehow it reflected my mood at the time. While I was thrilled to be pregnant I was filled with anxiety and fear of a miscarriage since I had miscarried my first pregnancy the year before.  The Adagio evoked so many emotions in me —amplified, no doubt, due to pregnancy hormones. Poignant, sweet, melancholy (almost funereal) contemplative, graceful, hopeful, powerful, regretful, passionate; so many emotions would pulse through my veins!  Music does that to me…to most people I’d wager.  Indeed, music is a powerful mood-altering and time travel tool…a visceral stirrer of the soul.

As I walked with The Poodle, the music transported me back in time and to a place where its significance to a moment was born. It may as well have been yesterday.  And the vividness of it all was almost overwhelming.  I may not be able to recall what I was wearing yesterday, or even what I ate, mundane as many days can be, but I can clearly see me thirty-three years ago resting in my bed in the 700 square foot condo that was our first home.  With stunning clarity I see the cassette recorder on my belly and the blinds closed to the afternoon sun as I attempted to nap.  There is the wicker bassinet I had purchased from Pier 1 Imports and the yellow ribbon that I weaved around the bassinet secured with two bows.  It stands alone in a corner… in the left-hand corner of our sparse bedroom…waiting for baby’s arrival. I see the simple, modern-appointed oak dresser with a white clay vase and silk Irises…and the Matisse, Blue Lady, poster in a silver frame above the dresser.  I’ve moved a thousand times it seems since those condo days and I’ve changed decor and rearranged stuff a million different ways.  But I can see that room with baby’s bassinet in the corner as vividly as if it were here and now.  I see my son, days old in his bassinet and there too, I had placed the cassette recorder hoping that the music would lull him to sleep (I was not always successful in this attempt. He preferred to be carried around!).

And I can clearly see too—a different movie playing—many years later as I enjoy long walks in the sand along the ocean’s edge, with ear buds and an iPhone now–that Bell and Howell cassette player a relic long gone. The salty cold water tickles my toes, dolphins frolic in the distance, surfers ride the waves…and this Adagio is playing.  It still has the power to stir the depths of my soul.

The Poodle makes an abrupt stop to smell something interesting in the grass, snapping me back to the present. Wow. What a time-travel experience.

Hmm. Maybe this is the piece that should be played at my memorial? Or maybe I need to keep searching for just the right Vivaldi piece…? I think of the beautiful song that was played at Harry’s memorial just a couple of weeks ago; it’s been in my head since. Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman’s, Con Te Partirò (It’s Time to Say Goodbye).  I have the album and it’s a song I’ve listened to countless times over the years. Before I know it, I’m blinking back tears as I think of the memorial video of photos that Harry’s family had compiled to go along with the song.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the church.

Truly, I’m not being morbid folks. Yes. The end of life is a subject that I am thinking about a lot these days. And, believe it or not, more and more, I think of it without fear. I’m planning for it.  Death is inevitable. It is part of living after all.

Enjoy this dose of bliss…..Con Te Partirò…(Time to Say Goodbye)

What the …Bleep! infinity and Beyond!

Music….to infinity and Beyond!

So I’m on the spin bike at the gym doing my solo workout.  What’s different this time is that I’m not listening to music on my iPod.  Instead, I am listening to music on Spotify.  I’d only recently taken the plunge and signed up as a premium member, thanks in part to friend Lou who told me about it many months ago when I still lived at the beach.  Yes, maybe hubby wasn’t too thrilled with another monthly charge on the credit card ($9.99 a month to be exact) but still, this music service is terrific and offers more features than Pandora (which I wasn’t paying for).  With Spotify premium, I can create playlists galore from such an incredibly wide range of musical genres and even select and add songs to my iTunes library without purchasing them.  My music library will no doubt swell considerably!   Not only will Spotify music be streaming throughout my house (via iPad App), but with the Spotify iPhone App, I can listen to gazillions of songs during my long walks and gym workouts, significantly broadening my music experience.  I was beginning to get bored listening to the same iPod playlists (nearly eight years now) over and over (and, truth be told, I screwed up my iPod’s playlists when I got my new MAC desktop and I haven’t quite managed to fix the problem…or even understand what went wrong, not to mention the learning curve of figuring out iTunes on my new MAC).

But I digress!  Simply, Spotify has come to the rescue!  I’ve already created a playlist of calming sleep/meditation music a couple of days ago and can attest that Tibetan Bells helped to ease me into sleep.  Now that is bliss!

So, on this particular morning I selected the radio feature on Spotify and decided, of course, on popular music (the “hits of today”) for my spin workout.  Spinning to Mozart can be done (I have done it) but I really needed high-voltage music to get the heart pumping and blood flowing for an hour’s worth of spinning.

This is what I simply don’t understand about music today.  Many of the hit songs on the particular pop radio station that I selected (for example, songs by Daniel Powter, Beyoncé Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, etc.) have two versions; clean and explicit.  Why on earth is this necessary?  Why does Katy Perry have two versions of Firework, one clean and one explicit?  In fact, so many of today’s artists have clean and explicit versions of their hits…It makes absolutely no sense to me.

I’ll be the first to say that every once in a while the F-bomb flies out of my mouth.  In my defense, I never uttered the word until I was 40 years-old and going through a bitter divorce with my first husband.    We’re all  human and its understandable to let fly an explicit word now and then in the heat of anger, and well…to get a point across (if you know what I mean!)  In the years since my divorce I feel I can say that I do a pretty decent job of containing myself, most of the time. Still, I’ll admit that once one starts using that F-word, it becomes easier to use it more often.   So, I find it troubling that one cannot listen to music without the F-word as part of the refrain…especially when it doesn’t add any meaningful value to the music and, in fact, detracts from it.

I asked PhD. hubby about this growing trend, since he has listened to popular and country music for years and years while I had mostly listened to classical music growing up.  I thought he could shed some intellectual light on the subject.  It is his opinion that explicit versions exist because they are “edgier.”  That’s it.  Ahhh…so we must appeal to the “bad boy/dark side” of people in order to sell songs.  It comes down to that?

I’m scratching my head.  I don’t get it.