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May 21, 2012
Sometimes it’s so quiet here that all I hear are birds. This morning is one of those times. I wonder where everybody is? There’s no traffic. (There rarely is anyway). No phones ringing, no email messages dinging me as they come in. The dogs are asleep. Wally has his hind legs sticking straight up in the air as though he has not a care in the world. Tasha’s cold sore has finally settled so there’s no licking sound coming from the corner of the room. Brent’s gone for the day. He’s cutting up trees that have fallen on his mountain property. I don’t have one thing on my calendar that has to get done today, so I’m simply sitting here listening to the birds sing. The sound of my fingers tapping on these keys is their only competition.
I spent yesterday trying to learn a simple piece of music that I wrote years ago and that I’m hoping to record soon. It has a shuffle feel with a blues chord progression that’s been written a thousand times before. The reason I spent so much time on it yesterday was because, for all its simplicity, it's incredibly difficult to play. I turn on my metronome to 116 beats per minute, then I slow it down and speed it up trying to find a tempo that I can keep. It’s a little embarrassing actually. What I need to do, I think, is to break the piano part down to its smallest parts so I can figure out where I’m speeding up and slowing down. Most of the time I enjoy this process, but sometimes I just want it to be easier. The song’s not good enough to warrant the amount of time I’ve put into it. But it’s a fun song and I need a few of those. I’m looking forward to playing it live more than anything else.
Our friend Annie spent last night here. After dinner and 3 firey games of ping pong (Brent won 2 out of 3) I sat at the piano while the two of them caught up on their emails. I was grateful for the audience. I haven’t played with others around for a long time. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was playing for them. I didn’t feel comfortable enough to sing at first – I just played and hummed to myself. But gradually my voice got its nerve back. That’s when Annie looked up and came over and Brent stood quietly and really listened. No applause, just an understanding between the three of us that gifts were being given and received all around. A few minutes later, Annie was sitting next to me on the piano bench trying to remember how to play “Heart and Soul.” Then she sang a couple of my songs with me, a compliment that I can’t thank someone enough for giving me.
We all slept well. Annie was up and gone early. Brent was in his garden by 6:30 making sure the overnight chill didn’t cause too much damage. When I got home from walking the dogs, he told me that he’d just found out that his friend Diane Glen, his high school sweetheart and someone that he holds dear, will die today. Her family had announced this morning that she’d suffered several strokes recently, and that it was time to end life support. Both of our hearts grew heavy with the weight of that decision, and the sadness of saying good-bye. News like this puts our own lives in perspective. The quiet of today is a welcome backdrop to our thoughts.
I hope that the peace we are feeling here today is also with you wherever you are.