News for December 2008

Put Your Hands Up

Grandma = Babysitter.  Jodi and I worked this equation the other night and went out on the town to the Walhalla Inn to catch a little live music.  For a town of 1,100 to have live music on a Saturday night is fairly impressive.  (Note: There will also be live music today at 2pm over at the Senior Center featuring the musical stylings of yours truly.)  I’ll also note that it was packed.  The guy playing did a great job.  He played guitar and sang fun covers and some nice originals.  One of Jodi’s friends from high school was telling Jodi how she enjoyed him.  I had my back to the bar and was agreeing with her and saying that maybe now would be a good time to wave our cell phones in the air.  Just as I was doing the motion of quickly raising my cell in the air Jodi’s drink arrived.  From the bar.  Which was behind me.  I did not see it coming.   But I felt it as my upward shooting hand connected firmly with the bottom of the glass.  Messy and embarassing.  This is why I’ve never actually raise my cell phone at concerts.  That, and my phone only stays lit for all of 3 seconds.  Open close open close open close.  Not worth it.

I have a great cousin who grew up Lutheran, spent a few years as a practicing Heathen, then went soul searching in Montana, found God (who coincidentally had never lost my cousin) and emerged from Montana with what his charasmatic brothers and sisters would refer to as ‘zeal for the lord’ and a ‘longing to be in the Word’ it was like honey on his brain or something to that effect.  I still (and I’m not mocking or joking or sarcasing) consider him one of the biggest faith influences in my life even though my faith practice and his faith practice look very different on Sunday morning. 

In junior high this cousin came to visit us (he’s about 10 years older or so) in Seward NE.  Sunday morning we went to St. Johns Lutheran Church where we went every Sunday morning.  During the prayers of the people he started verbally agreeing with what was being said.  Hallelujah, yes Jesus, Amen, Oh praise the Lord, etc… As an eighth grader this could have been kind of embarassing to be seen sitting next to the wacko mutterer of agreeance.  But from my perspective it just made Church way more interesting.  Way.  In fact I tried it on for a while, though as a young confirmand all I could muster was an occasional and very quiet mmhmm.  But I tried.  Then the pastor must have hit on an item of praise that said cousin whole heartidly agreed with because out of nowhere both hands shot into the air and out came a louder than conversational volume, “YesPraiseYouJesusHallelujah!”  At this point I abandoned all hopes of living up to his level of Zeal.   Later I asked him about the whole outstretched arms things and he told me that he had decided (akin to his theological stance on choice) after his conversion in Montana that in his prayer and praise he could keep his hands down, do the half raised flat palms up thing, or dive right in and let loose with those arms.  He figured if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing right, hence the fully extended arms of praise to Jesus.

At our Christmas Eve service here in ND, where I’ve spent 2/3rds of my married Christmases, we recieved candles, as usual, and ended the service with a little Silent Night action.  This is my favorite part of the service.  Not just because it’s pretty and beautiful, and Halmarky, but because in my heart I am still twelve and I live in the expectant hope that someone’s overdone hair will go up in flames.  You always hear stories of that happening but just once I want to witness it first hand.  Just once.

As the pastor prepped everyone on correct lighting proceedures (ushers light end, tip the unlit candle etc.) he added “And of couse it’s our tradition to raise our candles when singing of the Christ child.”  I looked at Jodi.  What?  When did this tradition start and where was it the last 7 times I was here?  It was a little confusing too.  How long do you hold it up?  Just for the words ‘Holy Infant?’ Can you keep it up to the end of the line to sync it up with the music?  What about ‘sleep in heavenly peace?’ Who’s sleeping? Jesus.  So should we hold it up for that since Jesus is receiving the action?  I needed an editor sitting beside me just to help me deduce when it was appropriate to hold up my candle.  I had already spent two verses trying to figure out when and how long I should be raising my candle.  Or, in this case, candles, plural.  Jodi had traded her candle for a child in hopes that this child of ours would refrain from starting any fires.  (So it’s her fault I never witness Aquanets’ flammable properties).  So it’s verse three, I’ve got two candles and we hit ‘Son of God’ in the second line.  My candles are up.  It feels good.  If it’s worth doing it’s worth doing right.  I keep ’em up.  All these light refrences totally justify it.  We’re singing.  It’s dark.  I’ve got candles in the air.  It wasn’t a concious decision, they just start to sway.  Slowly.  Like I’m at a Michael W. Smith concert and he breaks into Emily.

It was beautiful.  Until Jodi jabbed me in the side.  ‘Put those down!’ in a hushed but firm tone.  Apparently everyone else had already done this.  I pulled them down.  We blew them out.  The moment was over.  And Jodi has already informed me that next Christmas Eve, unlike this year, we will not be sitting in the front row.

Posted: December 29th, 2008
Categories: family, friendship
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a week of music

Sunday morning – sunday school christmas program rehearsal

Sunday night – humble walk lutheran church

tuesday am – west seventh family center music and movement class

tuesday pm – 400 bar -fun show crappy night. 

thursday am – home day care music and movement class

friday pm – bean factory – most fun of the week as the video shows we had a lot of participation and guest musicians – harmoncicas, melodicas, accordians, banjo, mandolin, guitar, uke and drum.  party on.

The weird thing about the week was that the 400 bar was the show I was looking the most forward too and yet other than getting to play with other great bands and be loud which I don’t get to do much, it was actually kind of life sucking.  Fun but life sucking.  Is that possible?  The crowd was small but great, the other bands were great and an honor to play with.  But for someone reason the overall night exhausted me.  Meanwhile thursday morning I was playing music at a home day care and we had a blast!  I left with money in my pocket (the opposite of the 400 bar) so practically speaking it was good, but I also left in love with music and so pleased to have spent a half hour singing with people that loved singing along, playing along, and dancing along.  I had a a similar reaction when we left the Bean Factory – we did a christmas set and on jingle bell rock we had a couple dancing in front of the espresso machine.  We had patrons and employees join on the 12 days of christmas and go tell it on the mountain.  It was so fun!  I’m still trying to figure out how this community is formed best around music.  I’m really looking forward to Micah and I’s upcoming tour to the far east (maryland) because we will be playing in a lot of churchy places, which are totally not rock and roll, but totally ripe for group interaction and community creation.  At the same time I’m looking at our Jan 6 show at the fine line and wondering how we can be just as engaging and interactive in that setting as I am with a dozen kids sitting in  a living room.  I’m serious, it may come down to Skip to my Lou.

Mary’s due.  If she doesn’t give up the basketball by thursday they may induce.

e’en so come quick.

sunday morning – christmas pageant ‘performance’

sunday pm – humble walk.

Posted: December 23rd, 2008
Categories: music
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Holy Family, Bread of Life


A crushing blow for the holy family. 

I have a writing deadline to meet.  I have a show to practice for.  So I made this bread.  Part procrastination, part soothing meditation.  Now I’m prepared to get some work done.  But what just showed up on my doorstep?  A new pickup for my Danelectro and a Bigsby for my Telecaster.  I know neither of these things should be rushed through but it’s taking all my will power not to take both my guitars apart right now and try to install this stuff before 6 o’clock load in…

I’ll make some espresso, slice into the bread, and give it a good thought.

Best of luck Nate, best of luck.

Posted: December 16th, 2008
Categories: bread
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A Biking First

The weather outside really is frightful.  That makes life inside frightful too.  I hate being cooped up. 

I always ride my bike to the music class I teach on tuesday mornings.  Usually I have a trailer with kids and/or instruments.  It’s less than half a mile away so it’s really no big deal – in fact I think it’s easier than driving.

Last week was a little dicie.  We had a ton of snow and to the best of our knowledge the city of St. Paul had hired one guy with a four wheeler and a plow attachment to take care of the entire city.  At least that was Jodi’s take on things.  She’s usually right so I believe her.  Anyways, it was nuts riding a bike let alone pulling a trailer through the sludge.  Lot’s of spinning out and fishtailing and precarious starts.  But I made it.

So this morning even though it was 8 below before the windchill I thought I’d bike again.  Good news – clear streets.  Bad news – freaking cold.  Once back when I was single and didn’t own a car and bike everywhere I actually had the condensation from my exhalation freeze one of my eyelids shut.  That was wierd.  But today I had a first.  The condensation from my exhalation (I just like typing that phrase) actually froze my goatee to my scarf.  Then everytime I moved my head it was like having someone yank hairs off my chin.  Kind of like when facial hair gets stuck in a harmonica holder.  Totally bizarre.  Totally painful.

And I’m totally driving to the 400 bar tonight.  Hope you are too!


Posted: December 16th, 2008
Categories: bike
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What’s early release?  It’s when you’re kids get out of school two hours early.  How do you know if it’s an early release day?  Easy, just look out your window.  If you see your five year old playing in the neighbor’s yard in 14 degree weather at around 2:30 than it’s a safe bet she got out of school early, didn’t have a parent to pick her up at the bus stop at 2 and so she followed a friend home.  It’s also a safe bet you won’t be getting that ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ mug.  Again. 

Posted: December 10th, 2008
Categories: family
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There’s no such thing as Fanta.

Last night I was talking to a Dad of one of my daughter’s classmates.  Our girls go to a great public school in MN that has artist residencies as part of its curriculum.  The conversation steered towards all the talk and excitement surrounding these artists and how at times we couldn’t tell when our daughters were describing what happened and what they imagined/desired to be happening.  Or what some folks would describe as lying about what happened.

Nobody likes to be lied to.  In the past I’ve found it very frustrating when my daughter says things that aren’t true, but this Dad changed my perspective a bit.  He described it as a childs way of making sense or their reality.  The line between fantasy and reality is virtually nonexistant.  When they say they flew during dance class it’s not a lie, it was their reality.  That’s a pretty great reality. 

To take it a bit further I think this is the sort of reality that allows all of us to best live through the pain and promise of Advent. 

If my goal is to have a Reality shaped by Faith than I must also admit that faith is no better friends with fact than it is with fantasy.

Posted: December 6th, 2008
Categories: fact, fantasy
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Let us good friends Rark and Roar

Good Evening Class.

I’m hoping your studies have gone well.  We’ve covored a lot this semester and I’m proud of the way you’ve kept up on your reading and handed in all your papers on time.  Your parents must be so impressed.  As your instructor I want to express how you’ve all exceeded my expectations.  I came into this thinking that you’d be a bunch of zero potential screwballs, but now I don’t think you’re screwballs at all.  What’s more, I’m cancelling the final. 

You’re welcome.

And lastly, while I still have your attentive Ritalin gaze, I’d like to invite you to join me at a few spectacular upcoming shows.

When not teaching these online classes in steel string theory I moonlight as a rock and roll star.  Yes, it’s hard for me to believe too.  On Dec 16 I’ll play at the 400 bar with my rock trio Welaware.  On Dec 19th there will be an Honest Folk/Micah Taylor show at the Bean Factory, and in January on the 6th Welaware will be playing at the Fineline

There you have it.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.  See on the 16th. 

And by the way, you all flunked.  Rark and Roar!!!

Posted: December 4th, 2008
Categories: edumacation, music
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