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1/1/2010 -- next page  

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Even though I haven't written a giant scrolling-page-worth of text for the last six months, I decided to go ahead and split this into another index page. The six-month split somehow satisfies my sense of "consistency" that seems to be getting more pointed as I get older. I know I'm about a week late from the Actual Six Month Divide, but there still exists a limit to my "consistency" nonsense.

What better way to start off the next segment than with a new piece? I just finished this last night:

and here is some text about it: I hope you enjoy it! What a summer this has been.


I had a nice dream last night. I think it changed me. I have fallen out of touch with someone who used to be a close friend, and I feel badly about this. In my dream, everything had all worked out. I can't recall the details of the dream (my drug dosage is still low!), but when I awakened this morning the whole situation seemed better. And somehow it was better, mainly because this is a situation pretty much of my own mental invention. I felt better all day.

I also just returned from a really good visit with my family back in Indiana. As long as I am dreaming, though, there are some things I wish I could fix in a dream-world. I wish I could make my Dad happy. I wish I could go back in time and help my Mom more. I wish I could vaporize all the stress in Jill's life. Heck, while I'm at it I might as well wish for serious health-care reform.

This is a good day for wishing too: my Dad's birthday is today. So I wish him a happy birthday!


Last week wasn't such a great week, but things (for now) have worked themselves out. Jill's mom was taken to the hospital on Tuesday to have a feeding tube implanted. A bout of pneumonia had left Ruth so weakened that she was unable to swallow. Our hope is that the influx of nourishment will help her regain her strength.

Unfortunately, Ruth had a bad reaction to the pain medication she was given, and wound up in a mild coma on Thursday. She has since recovered and is now back in her home at Medford Leas (the extended-care facility where she, and Roy before he died earlier this year, has been living).

I hate to see people I love go through such difficult times. What can we do? This is life, all the good and the bad. We did have a nice visit from an old friend (Anita Cervantes) earlier in the week, and good weekend-dinner times again with Jeff/Sharlene/Elliot (Sharlene also had a bad week -- her sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer). I guess this is what we can do. I'm working on some new music. Like that will do something, huh. This is life.


I've been noticing something about my recent postings here. Perhaps "noticing" isn't exactly the right word; I haven't actually gone back and read or analyzed in much detail what I've been writing. And true to my original intent, I haven't changed or edited anything. This is more-or-less what I've thought and experienced throughout my past 2+ year myeloma experience, winnowed (of course) by what I imagined would be appropriate for this blog.

Besides the reduction in the frequency of postings, what I've noticed is that I seem to be reporting more mundane -- read "boring" -- aspects of life. Perhaps that isn't true, but it sure feels that way to me. Earlier in this blog I had the temerity to write things like this:

Reading this now, it does capture something of the 'deeper' feelings I was experiencing, the thoughts that we all have but don't take the time to reflect upon or communicate. Of course, for every passage like this there are at least as many that are rather embarrassing. One of my annoying faux-literati habits, for example, is the way I end too many of my entries with oh-so-profound tag lines like "I start it up, I sit back, I drift away." and "The chords strum. I breathe deeply. I am downright happy to be alive." (both describing musical experiences). Here's another one: "I look down. I can walk on water. I can fly." Jeez.

But at least these feeble locutions attempt to express something beyond the surface of a prosaic reality. Lately it seems my texts have been more along the lines of "I went here", "Jill said that", "Lian and Daniel did these things." Which is fine, except I can't imagine why anyone would want to read about them. What do I want to say? Why do I want to say it?

I do realize that there is an informational function of this blog, one I had not anticipated. When I haven't written for awhile, friends will sometimes call me on the phone to see how things are going. Yikes! I'm fine! Believe me, if I'm not this will probably be one of the first places I use to unpack my emotional baggage. Still, though, I don't want to face such an overwhelming feeling of 'unfinished business' as I was when I first confronted my cancer diagnosis. I want to write good stuff. I want to say things that might matter to someone (hopefully Lian or Jill or Daniel) someday. Instead, when I'm not busy ruminating about writing this blog (which does seem to be one of my favorite topics these days), I feel like I'm reporting the equivalent of "I went out to the store today and bought some milk. I need the calcium."

I can think of three big reasons why this is so. First of all, I'm not dead yet. As silly as this sounds, the fact of the matter is that I no longer feel the intensity that accompanied my first wild fears about multiple myeloma. The result is that my attention is no longer focussed upon 'getting it all down before I go'. What remains are the everyday acts of living. This drift of focus probably isn't warranted. My situation could change with the next visit with Dr. Pearse, and there always exists the random truck on the New Jersey Turnpike scenario. I don't know if it is humanly possible to sustain the kind of emotional passion that comes with thinking I had 18 months left to live, though. Even if it were possible to maintain that level of morbid mania, I doubt I'd be much fun to be around.

The second factor is a hard awareness of how insufficient a text can be in the face of real events. It was hard to get through the death of Jill's father, but the horrible murder of our friends' daughter Emily Silverstein left me with not much I could imagine saying. It was after that terrible event that I believe I started writing fairly flat reports of existence. Any embellished prose or reflective attempts to "make sense" of things just felt slightly ridiculous.

Finally, if I'm honest with myself, I realize that I'm not a real deep thinker. Despite my semi-literary pretensions (on full display in this blog), I don't think I have the kind of insightful intelligence that I so admire in many of my friends and colleagues. I wish I did. Don't get me wrong -- I certainly try to distill my sense of things into cogently perceptive writings that might actually do some good in the world. But when I look back, my efforts seem bland and unremarkable. Even the features of music I like (including my own, heh heh!) are essentially what is described by theorists as the 'musical surface'. I'm an ordinary, shallow guy.

Here's an example: Shortly after my initial myeloma diagnosis, I figured I should try to write Big Serious Papers again. I had (still have) outlines done for papers on "process improvisation" (a paradigm for the FUTURE!), "The Best Art is Local" (still may do this one...), one on the use of 'ambient music' as a culture of doing or a culture of commodity, etc. etc. etc. Right about this time one of the editors of the Computer Music Journal contacted me, probably motivated by a strange oh-my-god-I-heard-Brad-is-dying guilt, to write a guest editorial. I saw this as a chance to promote a few of my ancient causes, a chance to once again attempt the Big Serious Paper. This is what I wrote (you will notice from some of the topical references that it was indeed written a few years ago):

After sending off the finished version of the article, I didn't hear anything again from the CMJ editors. I don't blame them. Here's another one, somewhat older, but with a similar publication record: The preface at the top explains the paper and the publication delay (ultimately it did get printed in ARRAY). Yikes. After a few of these happy publications and the stellar reception of My Music Book and My Book of Dreams, I think I should probably get the hint. Because of a particular facility with software and audio, I happened into a remarkable position at Columbia. I don't think I have the kind of scholarly wisdom that it warrants, however.

I make this self-assessment without bitterness or rancor. I am basically a happy man. I know that by some stroke of luck I wound up in a wonderful life-situation. And I realize that going out to the store to buy milk because I need the calcium is an amazing thing to be able to do.

Yet there are times I wish I could do more. The night before last, I was outside in our back yard. The sun had set, and the light was a deep dark-blue that enfolded the trees and bushes. I took a picture of the the sky:

The August insects were singing, surrounding me with a shifting blanket of sound. I made a recording of it: I felt such a powerful feeling of peace and quietude. "Stay this way forever", I almost wanted. Cover the earth with this unity. Make this the normal way of being. How can I transmit this, share it with my friends and family?


I do have a lot of respect for people who can write really compelling words. One of those people is Paul Lansky, a big influence in my life. Paul was asked to give the keynote address at the 2009 International Computer Music Conference held several weeks ago. Paul is pretty amazing, definitely possessed of the "insightful intelligence that I so admire in many of my friends and colleagues" I mentioned in my previous post. He is able to articulate observations I know to be true but haven't been able to organize coherently in my own thinking. He does it in such a nice, matter-of-fact way that you wonder why you hadn't been able to put it all together yourself. A big reason is because of the hard work he has done to enable his penetrating perceptions. I didn't attend the ICMC, but Paul put his text on-line: When I was looking up the link, I noticed that the address was given on my Dad's birthday. It's from Dad that I probably got a big dose of my appreciation for exceptional verbal acumen. Dad won the International Toastmaster's Speech Competition in the early 1960's. I want him to write more now. As I was pretty young at the time, I don't recall a whole lot about Dad's speech, but I do remember he talked about a watermelon (I think it was somehow a metaphor for judgment). The ability to find resonance in everyday experiences and turn them into gold -- this is quite a thing to do.

I ran across this poem in the New York Times last week. It was part of an obituary for Karla Kuskin, an author of children's books (we had some of her books on young Lian and Daniel's bookshelves) and a poet known for her oblique comments on common living:

Yeah. Maybe this is why I like 'surface' music. But to be able to find something powerful lurking in the surface; Like Paul, like my Dad, to take something simple -- a life lived, a watermelon -- and turn it into deep wisdom, that's magnificent magic.


I really like reverb. For those who don't know, "reverb" is the big, cavernous sound used in recording to create an artificial impression of a space. I could probably say something about how it helps me feel I'm making a BIG sound, probably an underlying audio production sensibility that dates back to my high school progressive-rock days, or I could talk about the early days of establishing the Zounds recording studio with Rick Thomas, and how (in those days) a Big Reverb sound was the hallmark of 'high-end' studios. Both of these are true to a certain extent. But I know exactly when and why I first fell in love with reverb.

It was the summer between 7th and 8th grade. I was too young to work a summer job, and I had just began exploring musical life in a rock band. My maternal grandparents had given me a Wurlitzer electric piano for my birthday. It was my entry into a world of electric guitars, bass and drums. Across the lake from us lived Kent Lavengood, one year younger than me and a fairly talented guitarist (I think he still performs, known now as P. K. Lavengood. Hey, I just used Google and found this web site apparently about him -- still doing music, and somewhere in NJ!). We spent most of the summer 'hanging out' and playing music together, plus Kent shared records from his collection. One of the first that he lent me was the rock opera Tommy by The Who.

I had devised a goofy way to listen to records that would now be labelled an "immersive" audio environment. My parents had a large console stereo system, the piece-of-furniture kind popular in the 1960s and 1970s. I had built two satellite speakers for it as a Christmas gift to my mom, the idea being that she could use them to listen in the kitchen. During that summer, however, I commandeered the little speakers as part of my personal listening set-up. I would lie with my head on a pillow between the large console speakers and place the two small ones on either side of my shoulders. Total surround-sound! Years ahead of home-theater systems! Although it must have been strange for the rest of my family to see me lying prone on the living room floor in that fashion. I spent hours that way.

So I came home with Tommy from Kent's house, started up the record player, situated myself in my little speaker-nest, and... Oh the REVERB! The music sounded like it came from some huge cathedral, it seemed so deep, so powerful. I couldn't imagine how they did this, the drums, the voices, the guitars, but I was totally enthralled by the grandiose sound of it all. I had never heard anything quite like it before. It was a glorious experience.

Why am I telling all this? I just finished seven more compositions, I did one-a-day last week to learn some new software:

The web page above tells a bit more about them. What the web page doesn't say is that I also used these pieces to meet a challenge. About a year or so ago, I had finished playing some new work for Paul Lansky (yikes, Paul's in this blog again!). Like most of my computer-music pieces, I had used my typical big-reverb sound. As always, Paul was quite gracious (yet astute) in his comments. He said: "just for fun, you should try doing a piece with no reverb."

Oh my! It took me awhile to get around to doing this, but none of the pieces above use any reverberation algorithms at all. Ok, there is a little echo plus loads of other signal-processing, but NO REVERB! There ya go, Paul!


Two experiences have lodged in my brain from this past weekend. It was a nicely 'normal' weekend, classes started last week for Columbia, Daniel's back in school, fall is encroaching. The dogwood trees are starting to show color, and the calls of the katydids at night are beginning to slow. Tonight is just gorgeous.

We started the weekend in a fairly intense rainstorm. Half of Roosevelt lost power for more than eight hours. Our house was lucky -- we had no electricity for about an hour on Friday, and then later for a short period that night. It rained semi-continuously from Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening.

It was the rain that formed a part of my first memorable experience. Saturday afternoon I had gone out shopping for a new door-lock at our local big-box hardware stores. On the return home, the clouds were breaking up in several layers of grey, giving the sky a fragmented, unsettled appearance. I was driving through an area of sod farms -- odd enough because of the uncommon grassy flatness here in central NJ -- and the rain was misting and blowing. I was imbedded in a water-granule three dimensional space. And it suddenly all seemed so strange. I had one of those freeze/flow moments, where everything seemed to stop. The water hung, crystalline, in the air. At that very particular moment I had an awareness of all the possible pathways that led to my being there, all the impossibly improbable threads that determined that point, that time. I could almost see the potential life-routes from there, the different decisions that could lead to one lived-life or another. I thought to myself: "I wonder what it would take to completely change the kind of person you are?" Then, more darkly, I thought: "All of this will end some day." I'm on drugs.

The second experience is on-going, and points to the lie behind the notion that it is even possible to completely change the kind of person you are. As a thoughtful holiday suprise last year, Gregory Taylor had given me an on-line download gift certificate from to purchase a new release of the major works of the progressive-rock band Genesis. Back in high school, I was a major fan of band. I would listen to Genesis records for hours and hours. Driving home from teaching at Columbia at the end of the week (classes started this past week), I used Gregory's gift and put on one of their longer works, a piece called "Supper's Ready".

Various parts of that music have been running in my brain's background music loop ever since. Perhaps because I listened to it so intently when I was younger, I can hear almost every nuance of every phrase when I attend to my unconscious radio. It puts me back in high school again! I'm young! The future is wide open! Here I am now, and that thread has run, become solid. How could I ever change that?

I don't want to change it, either. This life has been good, even when it all ends someday. I do want to do this, however: earlier in the summer, my two best friends in high school, Geoff Pacheco and Pat Kennedy, got in touch with me via e-mail. Together we had formed a progressive-rock band we called "Vindication", even producing an LP between our sophomore and junior years. I wrote back a short e-mail or two, but didn't really pursue a more extended conversation. I'd like to find out more about where their threads have led them.


It's getting cooler at night. Yesterday I woke to a fresh and bright morning. Outside our bedroom window I could see vapor through the trees rising from our neighbor's heating unit. Autumn has now arrived, and it seems good.


Sometimes the temptation to see everything as a metaphor of some kind is just way too easy. Tonight I opened the door onto the back porch to take out some of our recycling, and I could see my breath. It's getting cold -- winter is coming. The leaves on our trees are beginning to turn into the explosion of red/gold/yellow/brown that marks our Northeastern autumn. The year is ending, summertime is over.

How am I to interpret these observations? What do they mean? One thing I can temporarily put aside as a constructed correlation: on entering the examination room today Dr. Pearse said to me: "I have nothing to tell you -- everything is still the same." Yes, this is good news, for this month at least.

We had an 'open house' at the Computer Music Center tonight. Even though I am very familiar with all the work our students are doing at the CMC, when I see it all on exhibit it makes me happy. One of the aspects of life I've found most amazing is the chance I've had to work with people I truly respect and admire. I really like everyone I work with! I am a lucky guy.

And I'm glad I got jolts of good news/good feelings today, because I do have a cold. Physically I feel pretty lousy. That can pass, though.


It's Friday night, I'm over at our church again, sitting alone in the room where I wrote a lot of My Music Book almost a decade ago. Daniel is involved in a Youth Group/Full Moon thing. Back in 2001 I used to drive Lian over here for similar activities. The room looks the same. The brown carpeting and black padded church-chairs haven't changed. Many of the pictures on the wall are still the same. I'm just getting over a cold and have dosed up with decongestants and cough-suppressants. Combined with my mid-cycle Revlimid dose, I'm floating, floating; I feel like I'm swimming through time.

Down the hall a Jewish youth group of some kind is also meeting. They are singing and dancing. I'm not listening to them, though. Instead I'm playing the recordings I made earlier today with Dan Trueman and Terry Pender.

The songs I hear from down the hall are centuries old. One of the pictures on the wall is a close-up of the two 'touching fingers' from Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel ceiling (Creation of Adam) -- 1500. And here I sit, in this same room, typing as I did ten years before, listening to music we just created today. Time is fluid, and I am floating, floating.


Sometimes I hear a piece of music and it is so powerful I can barely withstand the onslaught. It plays, and I'm in junior high school, I'm in high school, I'm in college, out of college, in my thirties and my children are born, the life, the arc and sweep of it all. How can these sounds do this? I play it again and again and it washes over me. How can this all happen? Then I go down to lie in bed and sleep.


Yikes, I'm way behind in keeping this blog up to date. I get in this cycle where I have things I want to say, and then more things I want to say, and soon it all gets too much and I wind up not doing any of it. Not a good way to get work done. Plus I always underestimate how much time my actual job takes. The term has been going really well, though; everything from really terrific classes to good budget news for the CMC.

I think the best thing to do in this entry is just list a few links and descriptions of recent activities, mainly so I can look back here and imagine what life was like during the fall of 2009:

Of course there has been more, life is so dense sometimes. I owe e-mails to some very old and close friends. I'm behind in music work, and code-hacking continues (making progress on more iPhone/RTcmix programming). Thanksgiving is a few days off, the term is winding down. The fall colors have gone, although it is uncannily warm. I hope we get some decent snow this winter!


I wake up, I look out the bedroom window. The greens of summer have now become blues and grays. Sometimes a breeze is blowing, animating the leaves to create a subtle fluttering in the scene. I look at this, and I wonder: What will the future bring? What's going to happen next?

Happy Thanksgiving!


What an excellent Thanksgiving we had! Mom and Dad came out, and it was one of the best visits I think we've had with them. I really enjoyed just 'hanging out' with Dad. The farther he gets from his life in politics, the lighter his general life-outlook seems to be. Plus he's lost a lot of weight, doing regular exercises, what a role model! Mom, of course, was Mom -- I don't know where she gets her energy and enthusiasm, but I'm hoping I have some genes that will 'kick in' at some point (so far I don't think they have...).

There were only two not-so-happy things over the holiday. This was the first Thanksgiving that we spent without Lian. When I say "not-so-happy" in this case, it's definitely a selfish and short-sighted statement. The actual goodness is that sent Lian to Osaka (Japan!) for two weeks to help with the software at one of their new warehouses. Yikes! My little girl! She's handling a warehouse! (or as Amazon cheerfully calls them, a 'fulfillment center') It has forklifts and large trucks and lots of big boxes being shuttled around! What an amazing thing -- yes, we missed Lian for the turkey-event, but the pride we feel in what she is accomplishing, my oh my. You desperately want your kids to do well, and then when they do you miss them so much. Why can't life simultaneously change -- for the better, of course -- and stay the same? Is that too much to ask?

The second sadness was that Jill's mom had taken a turn for the worse. Just before the holiday Ruth was doing really well. She had even set a goal of eating Christmas Eve dinner with all of us in the main dining room at the care facility where she is living. When Jill went to see Ruth on Sunday, however, was having some respiratory problems and was quite a bit weaker as a result. She was also a little confused about the date, etc. The perplexing element is that there doesn't seem to be any root cause for the ups and downs in Ruth's condition, except for the obvious one: getting old is tough. Ruth still wants to work towards her holiday meal go, though. This is good.

More to say, but it's late now. I wrote the above earlier, back in New York. Now I'm in Indiana.


So much of what I write here involves issues of mortality. After all, acute awareness of death is the motivating factor that initiated this blog. This morning, however, I woke up and I was just happy. I felt physically good, the weather was crisp and cold (no snow on the ground yet, but it is nice and December-like outside). I finished project-presentations in my classes earlier this week, and the students this term have been exceptional. The CMC budget crisis is resolved, and we now have the necessary time to put in place a great "sonic arts" program. At the beginning of the month, I got to musically-rejuvenate with Terry and Gregory again, playing and recording back in Indiana. Our Christmas decorations are all up (pictures coming here soon!), and we're heading up to sister Brenda's house for the early-Garton holiday celebration tomorrow. Yes, this is happiness. For now.



We got snow! My oh my, snow! Of course, I wasn't here to watch it fall -- we spent a very nice weekend up with my sister's family + mom and dad in Longmeadow, MA. But the snow is here!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Lian, 23 amazing years. I'm not saying much here, partly because there is so much to say. I wanted to set at least one tiny marker here, though.


The winter solstice happened two days ago, so now the light returns (or so we hope!). We still have over a foot of snow on the ground, everything still seems transformed. I took some pictures of our Christmas lights outside on solstice night:
The display was imagined in large part by Daniel. A mathematical theme this year: on the ground in a line are six logs from the woodpile wrapped in lights (barely visible through our heavy snow) and arranged so that the first and third stand up -- UP-down-down-UP-down-down. Above them hangs the symbol e and on the house is a graph of the equation for y = ln(x). Get it? It's an exhibition of a natural log-a-rhythm!. Har har har! I have other pictures of the lights without the snow, but they're a little blurry. I'll take more later.

I really love this time of year, and it takes on a special significance with Lian coming home from Seattle (tomorrow, yay!). I gain a deeper appreciation with each year of what our family gatherings mean to Mom and Dad. I mentioned in my last post here that we spent a good weekend up in Longmeadow. Lately I've really been enjoying our family get-togethers, especially with my dad. Since leaving politics he's been much more relaxed, much more open about all kinds of things. He's even doing a lot of walking and healthy eating; he lost over twenty pounds in the past few months!

The only hiccup in last weekend's happy scenario happened towards the end of our stay. Because of the blizzard, my parents' flight back to Indiana was cancelled. As I get older I understand and feel how aggravating this can be (check out my earlier entry about returning from Minneapolis a few years ago). My mom was very anxious, but my dad went ballistic. He was certain that they would never get back to Indiana before Christmas and was ready to rent a car and drive through the snow for sixteen hours, this after I had managed to rebook tickets on a flight to return on Monday, the day after they had planned to be home. All things considered, I think the airlines did a remarkable job of handling the stress on the system caused by the snowstorm (of course, this is from the perspective of someone for whom the alternative arrangements worked). Dad seemed convinced that the new return flight -- booked through Newark -- would never leave the ground, and that somehow the airline industry was targeting him especially for extended aggravation. Unfortunately, we all felt the burn of his anger.

Don't misread me, I love, admire and respect my father more than any other man I know. In an uncanny way, I also find myself knowing more and more how he feels as I age. He is a truly great leader, and I even have "objective proof" of this assertion: my dad was President of the Indiana State Senate longer than any man in history. His track record of legislative achievement is unsurpassed. Through his progressive political leadership, he has improved the lives of literally millions of people.

In one of those seeming-paradoxes-that-make-sense, the qualities that make Dad a great leader are also the qualities that can be personally difficult. The airline ticket situation last weekend is a case in point. Dad has a vision of a better world, the way things ought to be, and he works hard to make that world a reality. When he is frustrated in doing this, his annoyance is extreme. I wonder if some of my personal failings are a reaction to this, a stupid little mini-rebellion hanging over from my youth. I procrastinate, I tend to set priorities wrongly, I don't do what needs doing. Often when I am told "you must do this now!" I instead turn my attention to something completely different.

I don't think this mini-rebellion theory really fits me, though. What I do know is that I'm not a great leader like my father. I am not driven in the same way he is. This doesn't bother me too much. The reality is that my brain got constructed differently, and the activity that most attracts me is making music. I have been unbelievably lucky in that my desire to craft new sounds, combined with my sideways-stepping approach to 'career development' resulted in the job I hold at Columbia. As a result, I don't think I've done much in the way of achieving 'greatness'. I certainly can't claim much in the way of direct life-improvement for any constituents.

Many of my colleagues at Columbia are indeed recognized 'great' people. They have managed, through hard work and intellectual/artistic achievement, to accomplish much and garner the awards and accolades that accompany such success. I really haven't, BUT when I finish a new piece of music -- even though it isn't breaking bold new artistic ground, nor does it promote exciting new modes of creative thought -- I usually really like it. Nothing else professionally gives me such satisfaction, such a feeling that I've done something good. This is enough for me: I like my music. I like my life.

To be honest, there is at least one thing I feel I've done that is truly 'great'. I got married to Jill, and together we were a part of this:
Lian and Daniel are both much older now, but what a time we've had here!


Three years, here I sit, listening again to the Byzantine monks of Christmas Eve and thoroughly enjoying it. Our home is happy, the decorations up, the gifts all set. More importantly, Lian is home!!!!!!! She and Daniel played the new "Mario" Wii game after we returned from a really good(!) dinner with Jill's mom Ruth. It's like all the best parts, happening here tonight.

On the way home, driving through the piled snow, it seemed so right. This is all a construction of my own, of course, but it was definitely one of those moments I wanted to extend, an eternity again captured on Christmas Eve. I guess I'm primed for that kind of feeling about now.

Is it possible to string these moments together? How do we get here? How do we stay here? The past year has felt like a return to 'normalcy' of sorts, although I can still feel the wiftiness. I've discovered that three years can be a lifetime. I'm supremely selfish in this case -- this is all so good now, I want more. How can this end? I can't imagine it.

Listen to those monks. This Christmas is indeed merry. And more.

downstairs tree                                                                 upstairs tree


I woke this morning to snow gently falling, and a new blanket of whiteness over our trees and yard. Snow! What a thing to happen to the world. I love the transformative effect that acts of nature can have. It seemed the perfect way to end this past week. Although Lian isn't leaving until Sunday, I'm already living a little into that eventual future, with the mixture of sadness and pride that will accompany her leaving. Daniel had a sleep-over/party with a group of his friends from Biotech High School, and Jill has been reading, shopping, baking. This has been a week of quiet joy for me.

I've been getting a lot done, perhaps working well because of the contentment that surrounds me. I've also been catching up on reading-for-fun, going through the books given to me for the holidays. While choosing some books on-line from Amazon, I ran across the work of author Scott Russell Sanders. I recalled reading his set of essays Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World years ago. He is on the faculty of Indiana University, and writes much about his life in the Midwest, especially Indiana. Yeah, just a little bit of resonance there for me. I noticed that his book Writing From The Center was available for my Kindle, so I downloaded it and began reading. In the title essay of the collection, he writes:

When I think about my music, I find I often want to write from the place that was this past week. If I can communicate in music just a little of the happiness that has infused these recent days spent with my family and friends... yes, the world has much terrible evil in it, and it is important to expose it through art or through action. But there is also great good, and sometimes it is enough to realize that we did live within this; sometimes.

I'm listening to holiday music right now. The decade is ending tonight. The past three years of that decade have been a very long time.

Happy New Year!

1/1/2010 -- next page