News for June 2013

focus and limitation

It’s been an interesting month.

An album was recorded. Concerts were played. Work has been good and busy. And equally so on the home front. Our family has a bit on the urban homesteader bug going around. The hops for homebrewing are starting to climb up the front of the house, the chicken coop is complete and our chickens are moving outside (I will not miss sharing an office with them), and in addition to our regular gardens my wife dug up a section of the berm and we’ve got raspberries started.
A theme in all this for me has been focus and limitation. Figuring out the boundaries and working creatively within them. This is what it looks like for me in the areas of Work and Home.
I recorded an album with my band Welaware (Micah Taylor – guitar, Justin Rimbo – bass, Graham Peterson – drums). It was the most finite recording session I’ve ever been a part of and equally one of the greatest. I knew our budget and our time frame. We recorded with Michael Morris at the Barn in Northfield MN. His studio is 100% analog. Old school. And we recorded live and almost entirely overdub free. If I screwed up a guitar part we rewound the tape and we all played the song again as opposed to all the cutting and pasting that can happen when recording digitally. I’m not against digital recording – that’s how I’ve worked in the past and will again in the future – but I will say the performances on the new album are inspired and gutsy and real and we owe that to the limitation of tape. Plus, we had a deadline. We could’ve added things to the recording as overdubs – an extra guitar, a shaker, another harmony… but at 4pm we had to leave the studio. What was done was done. The limitations brought an intense and exhausting focus to the sessions that I can’t wait to share with the world. Or at least you.
Our desire to be connected with the land as a family living in the city of St. Paul has been interesting. Mostly because of use of space. I love raspberries and berries are an easy fruit to grow yourself but they take up space. And spread by the roots. (There’s a fancy word for that… Oh well.) Last year the city of St. Paul okayed growing tall things on the berm. With the street on one side and sidewalk on the other this provides a wonderful border to contain the raspberries. If we had tons of land we wouldn’t have been forced into this use of space, but because of this limitation we’ve come upon an ideal raspberry growing location. And of course lets not forget those chickens. The city of St. Paul has a permit requirement for chickens which is kind of a hoop jumping exercise but it has allowed us to connect with a few neighbors that we haven’t connected with in the past. So kudo’s to St. Paul for helping us lonely Houges make new friends.
In both work and home there are a ton of other limitations that I’ve been embracing that have been leading to stronger focus – including clearing out instruments and getting rid of excess crap in the garage.
There is a freedom in having less and working within boundaries that I’m recognizing more and more in my life as life giving and good. Or maybe I’m just overreacting to all the stuffed animals my girls have. It’s possible.

Posted: June 4th, 2013
Categories: Uncategorized
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