Saturday, August 27, 2011
This is little Emmitt. Emmitt is a parotlet, the smallest domestic parrot there is. They are actually related to the huge Amazon parrots. Emmitt is around 7 years old. I've had him since he was a bald baby chick, with a huge head, dominated by beak, and a scrawny, wrinkled neck. A sight only a mother, or a parrot lover, could love. Emmitt is a total character. he's very playful and talkative. He talks 'bird', but he also talks 'human' in a tiny, high pitched voice. His vocabulary includes, 'pretty bird', and 'what's up?' He loves to play with his spinning mirror and slinky and enjoys a bath in a lettuce leaf. Parrotlets are sometimes called 'the little clowns of the parrot world', and Emmitt lives up to that reputation.
Stella enjoyed helping me get the classroom ready at the school work bee today. She would have been content just to ride in the car - she loves just cruisin'! But when she arrived at school and discovered there were children there, she just about fell all over herself and them with excitement. I have mentioned before that she was literally raised in the classroom, and all of the children are her peeps - without a doubt.
Stella loves people and other animals, but she does have a high prey drive. While she would never hurt one of the kitties, she is highly entertained by chasing them. Luna, who is Stella's match in feistiness really doesn't care too much about that one way or the other.
Stella: See my kitty? See my kitty???
Luna (sarcastically): Whoop-di-doo
Vash, on the other hand, does not like or trust Stella at all. When he met her, he hissed loudly and with lightening speed, smacked Stella's face with unvelveted claws.
Little does he know that he now has Stella completely cowed. She won't go through a doorway if Vash is in or near it.
Sometimes, we CAN all get along.
If I can twist Mike's arm hard enough, I may get another dog. When I was at the blues fest this afternoon, a friend had a papillon that she is fostering until she finds a home for him, or decides to keep him. She is fostering him after the vet rescued him. The papillon (Mr. T - of all the funniest names for a papillon) had been sprayed with Raid, and then doused with gasoline to get rid of his fleas; along with that he has been badly malnourished. He is so hungry for affection. Poor little guy stayed snuggled up in my lap. Stella did really well with him. I didn't get a photo of him to post because I didn't have my camera with me.
I am sad to report that my chicken flock had a couple of very bad experiences. The baby chick and two of the hens got caught by foxes, I think. Then a raccoon managed to get inside the coop and killed Lucy, my wonderful, ditzy red hen. We now have only two barred rocks, Eleanore and Nora, and the black australorp, Myrtle. They are doing very well, fat, healthy, and happy. We have fixed the coop so the raccoons can't get in, so at least we know they are safe at night, once they go back into their coop. As you can see, they are very friendly. I love the way they talk, especially when they are cozied up in their coop at night. It sounds like they are telling each other bedtime stories.
When Stella was little, I kept an X-pen in the classroom. The children took turns bringing their work and sitting in the pen with her. One of my favorite quotes was from a child who loved his time in the pen. Everyone was working away when he piped up with, "Hey look, Everyone! I'm the teacher's pet!"
Friday, August 26, 2011
I think my day at Montauk was a little too long! My glass looks like it was on total empty, not even half empty.
How to ruin a family outing, Chris!
I did enjoy going through old family photos with my sister and brother this past June.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Cordoba Flamenco Guitar
I find myself really looking forward to Thursdays because I get my Fernando time. I started flamenco lessons with Fernando in June, and have loved every one of them. But I need to step back a bit to tell my story.
I am new to guitar, my music experience prior to picking one up had been piano, harpsichord, and a little bit of recorder. My earliest Spark friends know this part...I think. I lost my first granddaughter, Lilee, to SIDS when she was four months old, six years ago this coming November. It was a devastating, heart wrenching, life changing experience. For many months I felt depressed, hollow, and unfixable. The pain of her loss was almost too much to bear. I missed holding her in my arms, but most of all, I missed her future which was snuffed out so suddenly. There was so much joy and life in her, then there was nothing.
Something had to change; I needed to find a way back to emotional health. On her birthday, I bought myself a guitar, and close the anniversary of her death, I started my first guitar lessons. It was maybe one of the wisest things I have ever done. Just holding my guitar, feeling the vibrations of the music, and using the kind of focus needed for learning something new was the path to my healing.
It was a year into my beginning guitar lessons that I found Dave, my first flamenco guitar teacher. Why flamenco? It speaks to my soul. I think many people think of the fast driving flamenco styles, which are wonderful, but what drew me to flamenco is the soulful, sad, laments of the Andalusian Gypsies.
Dave was an excellent teacher and I enjoyed his Eeyorish personality as well as his talents as a classical guitar player. So I was very unhappy when he told me, a year into my lessons, that he was moving several hundred miles away. I did not have much hope for finding another flamenco teacher here. I tried to keep up my practice, but the techniques are not conducive to learning on one's own, and I found that my progress stalled out.
I shifted to folk guitar and singing with my friends. I didn't have a clue that I would enjoy singing so much. I love singing harmony, and my friends and I have a wonderful time together. I don't regret that shift in music at all. It has it's own challenges and skills, but I can get by with pretty lazy guitar playing.
This past spring, I decided to google flamenco lessons in my area. Fernando's name came up, and I decided to give him a try as a teacher. Back to the beginning of the blog. What REALLY irritates me is that I didn't find him until now. If I had found Fernando back when I found Dave, I'd be so much more skilled! Everything does happen in it's own time, though, and who knows, maybe for a reason. I don't know what reason though.... darn it!
People have asked me about this photo on my Spark page.
This picture has a bittersweet story of its own behind it. Back in the early '70s, Mike's middle brother, Kevin, died in a canoeing accident. Kevin was a talented and brilliant 19 year old, who loved his guitar. Mike was just back from Vietnam when Kevin died, and kept Kevin's guitar to hold a little part of his brother's spirit. Mike had never played an instrument, but over the years learned to play and now loves to entertain people with his music.
16 years ago, Mike's youngest brother and his wife brought a son into this world, and named him Kevin for his deceased uncle. When Kevin was a little boy, Mike showed him his uncle's guitar and told him he could have it when he was 15. At Christmas in Kevin's 15th year, Mike gave him his Uncle Kevin's guitar. Kevin, like his uncle before him, is a shy and quiet boy, but he absolutely lit up when he was saw it. He couldn't wait to learn some chords! This picture was taken on Christmas day, and I was showing him some of the chords I had learned.
And now, Kevin holds some of Kevin's spirit.
Music has always been part of my life. My father played guitar and sang to us when we were young children. An eclectic assortment of music was always playing in our house. We grew up on bluegrass, jazz, blues, opera, and classical music. I studied piano, and played for enjoyment, to keep from feeling scared when alone in the house, to not feel lonely... it was the great leveler.
For me, picking up the guitar has been what brought my essence back to the world when I was in emotional shut down. Since then, it has brought me great joy, helped me through other emotional hardships, and given me both a mental and a physical challenge.
"Newtonian physics told us that at base we are particulate; quantum physics, that we are vibratory. It seems that the reality is that we are not either/or, but both/and. Perhaps, in its vibratory nature, music opens us to a greater appreciation of our essential connectedness to the cosmos, our oneness with all that is." ~ Balfour M. Mount, MD
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Sure, there is the occasional person, Mozart for example, who is born with incredible and innate abilities. But when you go to the art museum, watch Olympic athletes, listen to great music, or read a fantastic book, most of the people whose talents you admire have worked hard to get there, took risks, and were not afraid to fail.
Talent, like so many accomplishments, is mostly based on three things:
Desire, Determination, and Persistence.
People call me talented. They will tell me things like:
You are such a good artist. I wish I could draw ~ I can't even draw a straight line.
I wish I could sing, but I am tone deaf.
I wish I could play an instrument.
Do any of those statements sound familiar? The biggest road block on the way to talent or success is: 'I can't___" or any of its various and prolific aliases. Honestly, those words, and the mindset behind them, keeps so many people from reaching their potential and/or their greatest goals. If you want to - DO it!
We may not be born with the innate talent of a Mozart, but if we have the desire to have a skill, achieve a goal, or build a talent, we have the capacity to do it. Desire alone, though, will not get you there. You also need determination, the mind set that you WILL accomplish what you set out to do. Couple that with an understanding that failure is not a bad thing. If we are afraid of failure, we are stopped in our tracks as quickly as we are by the negative thoughts of 'I Can't ___." Of course you will have failures along the path to success! If the goal were easy, it wouldn't be much of a goal, would it? Failures are a special learning opportunity, a chance to reevaluate and make adjustments for the next try. That is where persistence comes into play. If we let lack of progress derail us, we are done. Keep your desire and determination in the forefront of your mind and persist in your efforts.
What it looks like:
Meet our protagonist, Ike Ant, who is about to have a transformation.
Ike Ant: I can't draw - I can't even draw a straight line.
Well first of all, who on earth would want to draw a straight line? That's what we have rulers for. Art lessons would be great if you can afford them, if not .... check out books at the library to get you started. But most of all, draw, draw, draw, draw. The more you practice or engage in a skill, the better you get.
Ike Ant goes out with his sketch pad and draws.
Is it good?
Ike Ant: No!
Is it good?
Ike Ant: Nope!
Is it good?
Ike Ant: Meh!
Is it good?
Ike Ant: It sucks! Oops, negative thinking. Not yet.
Is it good?
Ike Ant: Hmmmmm...
Is it good?
Ike Ant: Hey, look at that! Cool!
Someone Else: WOW! I wish I had your talent!
Ike Ant: Thanks!
Ike Ant (to self): If only you knew!
The thing is, success builds success. I started taking piano lessons when I was eight years old. For the first year, I practiced my 30 minutes a day because I had to. It wasn't joyless practicing, but it took time to be joyful and gratifying practice. I cannot remember just when it was, but suddenly my efforts paid off. I sounded GOOD! Once the music coming from my hands and body and the piano reverberated as MUSIC instead of drill, it was hard to pull me away from the piano. 30 minutes slipped into a fast hour. Enjoying playing music became the reason to sit down at the piano instead of the obligatory 30 minutes of practice. At first, I couldn't because I didn't know how, then with determination and practice, I could.
The truth it, it works that way in every part of our lives and decision making, from artistic talent to succeeding with weight loss. Desire, determination, and persistence. Don't be sidelined by negative thought processes, fear of failure, or self criticism. Will you fail? Sure! Does it matter? Sure! Use that failure as a tool to build on your next step to success.
Go for it!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Some days I know JUST what I want to blog about, other days my day seems routine, not boring but a blog would just be a repetition of something I already posted. I post for myself, but also for you.
I am taking requests from my friends (or visitors) for blog ideas on days when an idea doesn't just materialize.
Is there something special you would like me to write about?
What is it?
Is my tank half empty or half full?
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