Castle on a Cloud: A Musical Exploration of Clouds

I haven’t been participating much in the current musical projects lately, but the one about clouds jumped out at me. Partly because it fell on the C day of the AtoZ April Challenge. And even though I didn’t use it specifically for that post, I am happy to do a musical bonus and share a few songs I like that contain cloud references. Clouds have variety–shape, intensity, the weather they signal. The songs here show a similar variety.

It’s sunny here today, but that won’t stop me from enjoying a few clouds, including this first one, with its “clouds in my coffee.”

You’re So Vain (Carly Simon)

My cacophonous experience of last night had me wanting people to get off of my cloud, too. I could really understand the feelings behind this one. 🙂

Get Off of My Cloud (Rolling Stones)

The castle on the cloud holds the possibilities that seem so far away from Cosette’s everyday life. The castle welcomes no trespassers, no intruders. The castle provides hope for a better future, a future where she can be held and nurtured by a loving parent.

Castle on a Cloud (Les Miserables)

Check out information about the band, City of the Sun here. Even though there are no lyrics, you can actually picture the clouds parting. The energy of the song is intoxicating.

“The clouds have parted, I am free.” (City of the Sun)

There is mention of clouds getting in the way, but perhaps clouds are an opportunity to see new possibilities. Get a new perspective. Maybe needing to see them from more than just “up and down.”

Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell)

Do Nothing Day: Phineas and Ferb

Here’s a song where clouds are just light and fluffy, representing fun, freedom, and a chance to recharge.

Slow down. Look around you.
Put your to-do list away.
The clouds look like sheep and vice versa.
Let’s have a do-nothing day.

I’ll be planning a do-nothing day very soon. Something to do with quilting, no doubt.

Finally, thanks to my daughter, Kate–the Collaborator–for helping me brainstorm cloud songs and finding the YouTube videos. Thanks, Kate!

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For other Cloudy music, you can visit:

Bear: http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/clouds/

Eva: http://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/clouds-a-sound-off-of-sorts/

Did You Guess?

Ok, wonderful readers. Some of you participated in my challenge to discover which of 6 statements about me is a lie. If you missed those posts, you can still play along here, but you will have fewer answers to choose from.  🙂

I’m going to start sharing some of the answers for the 5 truths and a lie. You know you’re excited. There weren’t a lot of people who played, but those who did were fairly convinced of their answers, so let me give you the count first.

#6:   I climbed the Great Wall.

Four people think this is a lie.

#5:   I volunteered to assist with a six week quilting class.

While no one actually selected this as a first choice, one person thought this might be it if her first choice is incorrect.

#4:  I attended a Klingon convention in costume.

Two people think this is the lie. And another person was torn between this one and #3.

#3:  I had lunch with Sergei Khrushchev.

1 person guessed this one, and one person was torn between this one and #4.

2. I got married in a Chinese restaurant.

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the United Stat...
A Chinese buffet restaurant in US (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This had the most votes for being the lie. Six people voted for this one. That means six people think this is a lie! BUT THEY ARE WRONG!  David and I were married at a Chinese restaurant in Saginaw, Michigan. It was one of our favorite restaurants, which sadly, has closed since our wedding.

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market (Photo credit: roboppy)

1. I broke my toe in Taipei.

No one voted for this one. And with good reason. It is true. I also twisted my ankle and banged up my knee, which led ultimately to the knee replacement surgery I had a couple of years ago.

For the other nine of you, stay tuned. I will reveal more tomorrow.  🙂

BONUS

A few wedding pictures if you’re interested.  🙂

Deb Dave 429 Deb Sue 428 DSCF0425 DSCF0437 Jam004 Jam008

For those of you who think this was a lie, the picture above shows one of the witnesses signing the marriage license!   🙂

What Really Happened in My 40’s

BACKGROUND

I read a blog post yesterday, “One of These Things Will Not Set You Free,” In it, Aussa Lorens told about six interesting (and sometimes, downright scary) things that happened in her life. Except one of them is not true. And that’s when the fun starts. Well, actually just reading her post is fun. But in the comments, everyone tries to guess which of the six statements is not true. Some people actually go through the items one by one to discuss the probability and their logic about the likelihood of such events.

She also invited her readers to do a similar post and then include it in her comments. While I haven’t had quite the number of off-the-wall experiences she’s had, I have done some unusual things. The hardest part of my list making was writing the lie. I found it a little hard to find something what wasn’t either too far out there or too mundane. But I think I’ve got it now.

THE GAME

My 40’s were a great decade, so I focused on things that happened (or didn’t happen) during that time. If you want to get the full experience, see if you can figure out which of the six things I did not really do, and post your guess in the comments.

I will post the correct answer next week (Monday or Tuesday).

BONUS POINTS

Do a post of your own, and post it in my comment section, so I (and my readers) can play.

MY LIST: 5 Truths and 1 Lie

1. I broke my toe in Taipei.

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market (Photo credit: roboppy)

2. I got married in a Chinese restaurant.

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the United Stat...

A Chinese buffet restaurant in US (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. I had lunch with Sergei Khrushchev.

Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, p...

Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, presents his books about his father in Moscow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. I attended a Klingon convention in costume.

Fans dressed as Klingons in a Star Trek Conven...

Fans dressed as Klingons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. I volunteered to assist with a 6-week quilting class for beginners.

Rosie Chan quilting class

quilting class (Photo credit: _Jill_)

6. I climbed the Great Wall of China.

English: The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Musical Animals (Musical Themes) and Unintended Consequences

ANIMALS IN MUSIC

I’m back with another group of songs based on a theme. This time the theme is animals, selected by Willow. You can check out her blog here. Others who are participating in this thematic scheme include Johnny, Bear, and Eva. Check out their selections about animals and their other themes.

There are many mentions of animals of all kinds in music, and it took me a while to think of how I wanted to approach this theme. After a little thinking and exploration, I decided to go for a variety of critters. So I have two mammals as well as one bird, one amphibian, one reptile, and one fish (although the fish might be pushing it). I even have insects, a whole swarm of them.

As I was putting the final post together, I noticed that the majority of the songs had such high energy. Not all animal songs have such high energy; many of them are more mellow, much like Wildfire below, but I gravitated toward high energy. Also, I’ve had some very interesting insights while working on this post, which I’ve written about after the links to the songs. I hope you have as much fun listening to these selections as I had putting them together.

I’ll start with the mammals

Uganda Kob (male) in the Queen Elisabeth Natio...

Uganda Kob (male) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (The Tokens)

Wildfire  (Michael Martin Murphy)

The Insects

DirkvdM orange insect 2

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flight of the Bumblebee

A Bird

Bird - Duck - Mallard

Mallard Duck (Photo credit: blmiers2)

Mocking bird (Carly Simon, James Taylor)

An Amphibian

Description: Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) †. ...

Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joy to the World (Three Dog Night)

A Reptile

English: White-headed dwarf gecko in Dar es Sa...

White-headed dwarf gecko, Tanzania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crocodile Rock (Elton John)

A Fish

A Giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) take...

A Giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barracuda (Heart)

The fish also get an honorable mention above in Joy to the World above:  “Joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea.”

SURPRISE! THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICIPATION

When I started this blog, I never thought I’d be posting about music. These thematic challenges intrigued me, and I started participating, not realizing that there was something more basic going on. This activity was calling to me at a deeper level. With this second of my musical posts, I think I understand this tug a little better.

For many years, the piano was a major part of my life and my career. Now, between graduate school and my time here in Taiwan, I have been away from the piano for nearly ten years. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve sat down at a piano since coming to Taiwan. Two of those times were last summer when I spent time at the home of my brother’s family. They have my piano there for my nephew to use, so it will be there for me someday when I return. I was rusty sitting down to play, but even in those two sessions, I could tell that it would come back with a little work.

I’ve been aware of missing music in my life. I’ve tried a few things, like online radio, reminding myself to turn on music, finding a few songs I like to sing along with, but somehow it doesn’t fill the void. There are moments when it feels like I’m almost there, but it doesn’t last. Maybe it was that I wasn’t really engaged with the music the way I have been in the past. But this activity of finding songs and building a narrative for them around an assigned theme is different. It engages me on many levels, and the deadline keeps me from putting it off.  If I put it on the back burner, I lose out on the opportunity. Until I can spend regular time at the piano again, exploring music in this way and posting the results is helping me reconnect with music, to be surrounded by it again, in a new and powerful way.

Containers of Surprise (and Delight)

Invitations: Potential “Surprise” Holders

invitation

invitation (Photo credit: Theis Kofoed Hjorth)

This blog post was not planned. The photos and words are the result of a day of surprises. They arrived in an invitation, in a new day, in a museum, and in the art it held. The surprises actually began yesterday. My husband and I were already out on an outing with our friend, Steve–an outing of “Western” proportions, involving Costco, Starbucks, and IKEA. Luckily, Steve and Dave were going to hang out at Steve’s apartment between Costco and IKEA, which gave me time to get some work done at Starbucks. That was my compromise for taking an afternoon away, to get a couple hours of work done sometime during the day, and the guys didn’t mind.

While I was sipping my iced latte and working on a literature review, my cell phone rang. I was surprised to see it was my regular taxi driver, Mac, calling. Surprised because classes don’t start until next week, and I didn’t really expect to hear from him until then. But as he’s done in the past, he and his wife wanted to take Dave and me on an outing the next morning. The connection was awful and I couldn’t make out everything Mac was saying, but I did get that they would pick us up at 9:00 and something about the afternoon. If he gave me specifics about where we were going, I didn’t make them out.

A New Day: More Surprises

English: Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum ...

Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I woke up thinking I probably should have declined the invitation and stayed home to get more work done, but the one thing my moratorium allows for is social events. The reason is I tend to hole up too often and not get out and do fun things. So I got ready, but wasn’t really looking forward to it. But my reluctance changed quickly to excitement when Mac greeted us with the plan for the morning. We got into his SUV (not the taxi) and headed to Yingge Ceramics Museum in New Taipei City. Dave did a lot of ceramics in college and I love anything in arts and crafts. In fact, this was a place on my “wish” list, and we were on our way! I was glad that I had not talked myself out of going.

Museums: Another Kind of “Surprise” Container

Three floors of exhibits and more out in the back of the main building. We did not get through everything in the 2 1/2 hours we spent there. Here’s a view of the open space from the third floor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beyond the amazing exhibits, there were loads of other surprises in this museum. For starters, admission is free! Not just on special days or at the holiday time, but always. Even the audio tour players and head sets were free. You left your ID card with them; you could punch in numbers at various exhibits to hear lots of details. They had the audio sets available in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, English, and one especially for children. There may have been others, but you get the idea.

Some of the exhibits were so delicate, I had to remind myself that they were ceramic. For example, this piece, Unread Books, looked so real that I could almost picture the pages turning.

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Another piece I really enjoyed. The English title is something like, Look Up and See the Blue Sky.

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And the kitty lover in me couldn’t resist the whimsical rendering of cats in the afternoon sun.

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Surprises in Art

A huge kimono type garment hung in the museum. It was exquisite. It was clearly, decorative only. It’s hard to get a sense of the scale from this picture, but let’s just say that it was too large for any one to wear. The real surprise of this piece though are the thousands of ceramic butterflies sewn (or clipped) to the cloth. (No clear indication of how they are attached.)

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Prepare to be amazed!

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The sheer volume of these butterflies and the size of this piece of art are just breathtaking. The museum makes great use of lighting to highlight many of these pieces.

Another surprise was a piece with an English title, Sad Child with Short Wings. I’m not going to try to figure it out. But it was cool looking. Stands about 15 inches high. (In this photo, it appears a little bigger than life.)  hehe

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My Personal Art Surprise

This piece had an English name of Dilemma. As I looked at it, I was baffled. People kneeling in a circle facing one another, holding their dismembered heads in their hands. Two of them had empty hands and one head was on the ground. I thought the dilemma pertained to some sick game of “Musical Heads” in which a head is taken away before they start the music back up, and that the dilemma was how to decide who leaves the game, or who no longer has a head. Like I say, I was baffled. You take a look! (The lighting for this piece makes it hard to get a good picture, but I think you get the idea.)

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I turned to my husband and told him my insane “theory,” and he asked me if I had listened to the audio for it. I didn’t realize that one had an audio, so I was excited. He told me the number of that entry, #94. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. When you enter 9-4-Enter, you hear the story of this ceramic piece. Here’s the English version.

With no more strength to move forward, those people melt down. Each looked around and found that the others were in distress as well. They had no one to help them. When looking forward, they only saw a pitch black road that led to uncertainty. When looking backward, they found the road they just took had disappeared. So where to go and what to be? “That’s too painful. Could I not think about that?” they cried out! And they pulled off their heads.

WOW! And I thought MY interpretation was a little odd. I think desperation of that sort would go beyond “dilemma” to something more, well, desperate. I thought about the times I get frustrated and don’t know what to do next, but pulling my head off isn’t usually in the list of options. The words of the people, “That’s too painful. Could I not think about that?” was done with such a whiny tone, too. Once I heard this interpretation, I knew that I had to include it in tonight’s post. So let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

So that was our unplanned trip to the ceramics museum. Our hosts only had the morning for the outing, but Dave and I could have spent the day. We didn’t even get through all the exhibits and demonstrations. We are already looking forward to a trip back when we can spend the whole day. Dave already found out the museum is a ten-minute walk from the train station. I’m sure I’ll have more things to share. Until then, look up and enjoy the blue sky!  :

Keyword: Fun (Compliments of my daughter, Kate)

The Non-Quilting Retreat

study time

(Photo credit: calebcherry)

Instead of a quilting retreat last Thursday and Friday, I reframed it into a textbook retreat, which took place Sunday and yesterday. You can read about what led to that decision in the posts listed below, but as a result of that shift, I rediscovered that it wasn’t actually quilting that was missing from my life as much as the experiences of play and fun, regardless of the forms they take. My life has become so crowded with tasks that I forgot to just enjoy the small moments of life. In fact, I didn’t seem to recognize small moments anymore.

Luckily, January was the beginning of my intention to set aside ten small moments a day to work with the exercises of Farther to Go! One day, in my writing, I remembered how I used to make “play” a daily practice, and even kept a journal to track the fun things I did. This memory helped me let go of the need to quilt “no matter what” and just open myself to the experience of quilting as an enjoyable hobby. If Farther to Go! can make a difference in ten minutes a day, so can ten minutes of opening myself to even small pockets of fun. But I didn’t make that connection until I packed away the sewing machine and let the small moments just be. I needed to stop planning everything.

Pinwheel Quilt

Pinwheel Quilt (Photo credit: jenniferworthen)

By letting go of the need to quilt no matter what, I reopened myself to experience the fun and exploration that intrigued me when I first became interested in the craft. So when I needed a little break on the second day of my textbook retreat, I knew instinctively what I wanted to do. I sent my daughter a Facebook message with a few quilt designs to get her opinion of them. She and I are halfway around the world from each other, but we have conversations on Facebook. Sometimes, the conversations aren’t continuous. One or the other of us puts something out there, and then the other answers the next time she is online.

For those of you who don’t know, my daughter, Kate is the youngest of my four children and she is the mother of Mr. Logan, the “not so little” guy you see at the top of the blog. When I gave Logan his quilt last summer, Kate asked me when she would be getting hers. Funny story!

The Little Quilt that Could

Several years ago, Kate showed some interest in having me make her a quilt. She had colors in mind, and I began collecting fabrics in pinks, greens, blues, and purples. Occasionally, I would see a possible pattern. But then, as now, I never had much time for quilting. In fact, when I was making Logan’s quilt two years ago, I actually found myself wondering whether Kate was still interested in having me make her a quilt. If so, would she even want the fabrics I had started collecting.

Well, last night happened to be one of those times when Kate and I were able to carry on a conversation for a bit. It was–dare I say it–FUN! She didn’t really care for the first images I sent her, but she gave me some good clues. For example, while I knew she didn’t want a pattern that was as “random” as the one I used for Logan’s quilt, one of the images I sent her was “too” traditional. That helped narrow the field.

Something with structure, but not too traditional. And something that when I get to it, I would enjoy making it. I’ve been wanting to play around with log cabin blocks. Maybe that would work. So I sent her some in pink blocks–not exactly like the ones shown here. Actually, I didn’t ask her about the “wonky” aspect, but my sense is she would like the straight line kind. Here is some of the conversation that followed:

wonky log cabin

wonky log cabin (Photo credit: MissMessie)

ME: ok, here’s another. If I did this log cabin pattern, I would incorporate purple, green, and blue as well, unless you want just pinks.

K: If you want to roll with that you can. And if you do, you should do each block a separate color.

ME: ok 🙂

K: or whatever you want 😛

ME: When I start playing with some blocks, I’ll send you pictures and you can tell me which you like best 🙂  It will be a while, but I like to at least think about quilting, and yours is the next big project I want to do

K: Do an all blue one, and one that includes all four colors.

ME: ok 🙂 that will be fun:

K: keyword: fun. don’t make it a job! if it’s a present for my 30th birthday so be it.

ME: 30th birthday present! Crap! I only have 4 years! LOL

Full Circle

Kate’s quilt won’t happen soon, but now when I do have some time for quilting, I have a pattern and a motivation. Even though I have to wait to cut and sew, I’m excited about it. Obviously, the colors are still a go. Best of all, I’m already having fun: the chat with my daughter, thinking about variations on the log cabin theme, and looking at the colors in my fabric stash. It feels so much better than those days when I was planning to quilt no matter what. And she’s got me focusing on the right keywords.

Thanks, Kate! And maybe you won’t have to wait until your 30th birthday for the quilt. But no promises. The keyword is fun!