Islamorada Here I come. Winter in the keys. Oh yes. My son called me last week and asked if I could come to Islamorada, one of the Florida Keys, because the kids were out of school for winter break and it was longer than he thought – 2 1/2 weeks. Could I come down from the freezing weather in PA and help out?
OMy answer was, “How fast do you need me?” and started throwing a few changes of summer clothing in an oversized purse along with my sandals and hopped on a greyhound bus. A last minute flight on Christmas eve? Me and a million other people? I thought a bus would be less stressful. I was completely wrong about that and a story about “Christmas on Greyhound” is coming up next . It was a disaster and took a day longer than it should have to get there.
I left PA in the nick of time before a severe cold front hit the northeast. I HATE WINTER! I don’t like looking at dead trees and freeze to death outside. I got off the bus in 85 degree weather.
My son lives and works at a marina. I dropped my bags and walked down the dock. Breathing in the ocean air was heavenly. When I moved from the keys in 2010 it wasn’t because I wanted to. I was sick. I needed to get near a good hospital. This was my first trip back. Leaving to go home will be hard.
We went to his favorite restaurant at the corner for dinner that night, watched a magic show and listened to live music. Every evening we hear that night’s music playing. Yesterday we went to a cove so the kids could play and the dog could run. A great stressless day.
So if you are somewhere cold right now, enjoy the pictures.
This was fun to watch. I remember watching it as a child, either before I started school or maybe on sick days. Seeing the beginning of TV advertising was interesting, especially because advertising was also done during the show as well. People were unaware that TV shows had a higher purpose than the show itself and that the money that came in from the companies that advertise. But today, I have counted up to 15 commercials thrown the watchers at one time – one of the reasons why I don’t own a TV, and haven’t for most of my adult life. I consider the sound of a TV on hour after hour an intrusion. At least with the internet, I can download and watch a program or movie and then turn it off instead of continuing to sit and watch the best of the worst – but to each it’s own. We make our own choices.
I was lying awake last night, trying to memorize the feeling of everything being right with my family. We’re all healthy, happy, and remarkably satisfied with where we are in life at this exact moment. Even Child #4 has just taken her last ever Uni final, and pronounced herself ready to go off the family payroll.
A friend asked if I ever regretted having so many kids, or the time/money/everything that it took to raise them. She said her book club (having dispensed with the required 8.5 minutes of book-related discussion) were all talking about the reasons their grown children were not producing grandchildren.
That reminded me of this blast-from-the-past I wrote a few years ago.
Top 10 reasons not to have kids
There are actually LOTS of reasons not to have kids. As a serial…
Another Thanksgiving coming up. Time for all the standard food we eat every year. So many people cook the same dinner. Turkey and dressing with gravy, potatoes in some form, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie. How did we settle onthesefoods as being a thanksgiving dinner. I know there are variations, but these are used the most.
If you buy $400 food throughout October and November you get a free turkey at my local grocery store. It’s usually only my husband and myself. Our Thanksgiving is a meal he’s claimed as his own to cook. Fine by me. We get our frozen turkey cut in half and one half cut in quarters. We have thanksgiving three times a year with all the trimmings.
Something is wrong with this picture. Just about every holiday is a reason for food. Stores start advertizing months in advance. We hate to see it but they still do it. Who wants to see Christmas decorations at Halloween? They probably think we’re going to forget if we don’t see decorations months in advance.
Holidays are probably the only time most families even see each other and talk about the weather and other unimportant things.
1. How’s the job?
2. My the kids have grown!
3. It sure is starting to get cold.
4. What’s the price of gas where you live?
5. What football team are you rooting for?
At least that’s the way it is with my family. Even though we are all within driving distance and we all have phones, family doesn’t talk to family inbetween holidays. Sisters don’t talk to sisters. Nieces and nephews don’t talk to aunts and uncles. The people have no desire to actually “know” each other. The only time they talk is to pass negative gossip, and I hate gossip.
Yet everyone pretends to care a couple times a year. It’s what families do. It’s sad, don’t you think? If anyone (aside from my mother who lives one block away from me and we see each other all the time), I would be shocked, literally shocked, if a member of my immediate family in Pennsylvania picked up the phone and called me and asked me how I was. But I’m not really any different. In my entire life of playing music and writing music, not one family member has asked to hear me play or hear any recordings. Forget reading either of my blogs or ask how the book is coming along. That’snot going to happen. Even if they see me face to face. People stick to the above points or something else equally stimulating. I don’t get it. No one is friends. We’re just blood related.
One last thing. It is common, at the thanksgiving table for people to say what they are thankful for. They give thanksfor something that madetheirlife better. I think we should look at it differently. What did we /a>Giveof ourselves that others would be thankful for? What did we do to help the sorry state our country is in, or what did you do to help someone else’s life? Now that would create a better conversation, don’t you think? Maybe if people learned how to appreciate the people around them, they’d treat their family better,too.
Everyone with a dysfunctional family, please raise your hand.
I’m heading across the street now to pick out the biggest turkey I can find!
This morning my husband showed me a computer game he saw being advertised on Steam – an engine that sells and plays computer games. It is made by Playing History From EU – (European Union) My jaw literally dropped. Maybe because it wasn’t made in America they could get away with it. To make and sell a GAME about enslaving another race, especially because it is a direct hit on our history is a slap in the face on a very high number of our population who have grandparents and great grandparents in their granules. How would people feel if the made GAME out of being a Jew during the holocaust and see how many you can send to the gas chamber? What is the difference” In SLAVE TRADE a young black boy finds out his sister has been captured and is going to be raped. He needs to try to save her.
Do you think this depicts the conditions on a slave trade? Do you see any dead bodies? Why don’t they show them being thrown overboard when they die, or is that a little too real?
This is the synopsis the game makers put out: Travel back in time and witness the horrors of slave trade first hand. You will be working as a young slave steward on a ship crossing the Atlantic. You are to serve the captain and be his eyes and ears. What do you do when you realize your own sister has been captured by slave traders?
One of the White man’s proudest moments!
Buying human flesh. Gee lets have fun! How much money can we make today?
This is where his little sister gets caught by slave traders. I know there have been many movies made about this part of history, but no one has ever tried to make fun and games, a way to entertain yourself. So tell me folks how does this game grab you? Does it make you want to go out and buy it so you to can pretend to be a slave trader, too?
Since the beginning of society it has been us vs them. The concept that being born into wealth somehow makes them have more value as a human being. But imagine – the boys on the right probably know the fun of kicking a ball, running and and playing with a dog, and fishing in the creek. What are the boys on the left allowed to do for fun? This picture so clearly shows the class divide. Ok, maybe having scads of money would be cool, but I think that having fun when you’re a kid is much better. My family didn’t have money growing up but we sure did have a lot of fun and I wouldn’t trade that for the world!
The Grateful Dead said something along those lines some years back. “Don’t dance to the music. Let the music dance you.”
I make music when I sit at my piano. I call myself an improvisational keyboard player, if there is such a category. I never know what I’m going to play. I have no preconceived idea beyond how I feel at the moment. I never play the same thing twice and have no idea how it’s going to sound unless I record it, which I do sometimes. Sometimes I wish I had recorded something because at the end it feels so complete, and I can’t play it again. But it doesn’t really matter because I’ll just play something else next time. I had brought to life something from inside that is completely mine and no one else. It’s not contrived. There was no plan. I didn’t practice it. If there was a way to open my soul for people understand, they would know everything they needed to know about who I was – if they listened.
Lost Inside of Me
I think a dancer, who was in control of her body, who knew all the moves she was capable of making and just danced, would understand what I’m saying. Without thinking about how she looked, she just felt the music and danced. Not dancing for an audience. Not rehearsed so it looked flawless. Not caring if mistakes were made. Just the act of stretching her body in ways that felt good and feeling the music flow through her muscles would be enough to bring a tear to the eye of anyone who happened to witness her making love to her dance.
I remember, as a child, being taught how to read the notes, how long I was to hold it down and on what piano key that note was to be played. There was to be no deviation. Play it exactly the way it was written. There are all kinds of symbols that tell you how hard to hit the key and the effect it was to have. Like a note with a dot under it, or over it, depending on whether it was on the bass clef or the treble clef, and if you saw that dot you were to hit the key as if you were touching a hot iron and not get burned. There were symbols that told you hold the key a little longer – a fermata, or bird’s eye depending on if you used the correct name. Symbols like ‘f’ or ‘ff’ or ‘mf’ and others that told you to play it loud or very loud or medium loud. Lots of symbols.
I knew I was going to teach when I was ten. When I was in my mid teens my teacher told me to not come back. I frustrated him because I practiced what I wanted, not what he wanted. The point is, I played. I returned to him when I was 16 and gave it one last year before I went to college to major in music. If I put all my lessons into one period of time it wouldn’t amount to more than about 2 years, starting at age 7. But out of all the students he ever taught I was his show piece and the only one who played pro. He really was a good player and played pro. He really did understand me. I learned a lot from him.
During most music lessons all you could do when you practiced was play the same passages over and over and over until you memorized them. All the symbols telling you how to play the piece were supposed to give it emotion. Emotion had to be written in, not felt. Very mechanical and contrived. IF your goal was to learn how to play classical music then this was the way to learn. Many talented pianists who all play the same piece in the exact same way. It takes many many years of practice to reach this kind of proficiency.
How many students taking piano lessons ever reach this degree of talent and play on the concert stage. Very few ever reach above the level of barely mediocre. Here is what happens to the rest of the would be pianists.
This may have happened to you. You take years of lessons and then your life goes on and you don’t hardly ever play again. When you do have an opportunity, you try to remember the pieces you used to play and you fumble around trying to remember. Or you get out an old piece of music you used to know but there is no way you can play it now. You would turn down any suggestions to play because you don’t want to embarrass yourself. Maybe you have children now and want them to take piano lessons, too.
You see, your old piano teacher only taught you to play “at” the piano. You were never taught about the music, how to create. Last year I talked to an 81 year old piano teacher who lives down the street from me. She still has students. She taught their parents, too. She probably plays very well.
“Can you just play,” I asked her. “off the top of your head?”
“Oh no, I can’t do that.” She responded. “I only play what’s on the music.”
She asked me, “What kind of music do you like to play.”
“My own. I just make it up as I go.” She just sat and thought about that. Many teachers took lessons when they were young and at some point thought they could teach what they knew and they teach those students exactly the way they were taught. She never thought, in all those years to make her own music. To tell her own story.
This is my granddaughter Moya. Loves her guitar. This is a video of my grandson, Bo. My son, a phenomenal keyboard player is teaching him to improvise. His body is twitching, he’s so into the music.
A teacher can teach the creativity right out of you and soon you fear you’ll make a mistake and you don’t know what to do. If you ever want to learn how to do anything in the arts, never learn from someone who has never gone pro, never performed their art. They never discovered why they wanted to learn play. Now it’s just a way to have an income. Stay away from a teacher who is stuck on method books that take you from A to Z.
This evening when I sat down to play a student of mine was just leaving. A 16 year old boy I’ve been teaching for 10 months. He is able to play things no teacher could have taught him using method books. I’ve taught for 42 years and spent a number of them playing pro. I create more satisfying music today than I ever have.
So the moral of the story is: I don’t know. You tell me what the moral of the story is. What did you get out of all this?