Things to Do and Places to Go

A lot of interesting events happened last year. Two that stand out are 1) I talked DH into going to Cleveland because I wanted to see the exhibit for the 2018 inductees to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, specifically The Cars, and fell heads over heels in love. Cleveland is really cool, and if I wanted to stay in the US, I’d pack up the cats and the man and move. Also, I got to interview Joe Milliken for my other blog; Joe is the author of “Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars,” a great, in-depth biography that came out in November. So for all things Cars-related, here is my heartfelt thanks to the late, great Ben Orr!

2) I decided to see if I liked the idea of teaching English (see also my previous post), got certified, certified, certified, and certified, found a job, and am having a great time learning with and from my students, even it’s mostly biology. Whoda thunk?!

Both occurrences have roots, or rather tentacles, or maybe runners, that stretch into 2019. In the summer, we’re going back to Cleveland, and I can’t wait! We would probably have planned another trip anyway, but now it’s definitely on the list because this morning, I was accepted to the CELTA course run by International House Frankfurt in July! This is a prestigious, intense, four-week training class run by the University of Cambridge, and I am literally frothing at the mouth that I got in (ok, it could be because I didn’t have time for lunch today and I’m hungry, sue me!). The two words that describe me best right now are TOTALLY and TICKLED.

Closer to home, I’d like to make it official: the Fort Wayne weather service is the absolute worst on the planet. Sure, sure, it’s kind of windy out there, but is it cold? Wet? Snowing? Nope. Balmy and sunny! Sunny, as in that golden orb in the sky, and balmy, as in the so-called meteorologists that make these predictions. Do you have to pay money to go to school for that? *snort*

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Vyv Does Oz: Cold Feet, Warm Hearts

My great-grandparents had on their wall a framed piece of embroidery with the lines “Wo man singt, da lass Dich ruhig nieder, /böse Menschen haben keine Lieder” (roughly: where there is singing, gladly rest your head /where evil dwells, no song is to be had). Taking this as my motto for the upcoming trip, I couldn’t be safer anywhere else. Most of my friends on the other side of the world are musos. Phew!

At least for a few days I’ll be staying at a fabulously beautiful place in Bassendean, nearly exactly opposite to my pad in Swanbourne. If you’d like to take a peek at Cook House yourself, feel free.

In order to provide you, my three-and-a-half readers, with the most bang for no buck, I have unearthed my old Flickr account where I will post trip pics as I go along.

My schedule is beginning to be occupied with gigs and barbecues and theatre visits and coffee meets, all of which is certainly giving me the warm and fuzzy. And yet, the first bell that rang in my head when I woke up this morning sounded an awful lot like “Idontwannago, I dontwannago!” Considering there are still five days left until departure, this does not bode well. Not that the sudden case of cold feet is entirely unexpected; I suffer from a minor version every time I’m going anywhere, and if it’s just to a local event. Even if I’m really, really looking forward to it. Not sure why it gets that way, but there isn’t much I can do besides talk myself down and carry on with life.

Vyv Does NaPoMo

Or NaPoWriMo, depending on which websites you follow. Writer’s Digest calls their version PAD -poem a day. It all means the same thing: April is National Poetry Month. Some of us take up the challenge to write a poem a day, often to a given prompt. Although I am part of a writing group and also signed up with two websites, I pick and choose the prompts. After all, I do have three different ones every day!

Because I’ve wanted to learn more about poetic structure and forms of late, I have been taking a couple of online classes. One deals with short form verse, the other with the basics of haiku. So far, I have learned quite a bit from the former (I only started the haiku class today), including reaching beyond my comfort zone: I hate to bother with rhymes, but a lot of the short forms require rhyming, so in order to avoid getting stuck in cliche, I really have to think hard about what to write… and then, edit, edit, edit!

As much as I am enjoying this poetry challenge, I am looking forward to May already. May is all about short stories, which ought to be a good excuse to empty the proverbial drawer of the not-nearly-as-proverbial partial drafts. A friend of mine from Australia sent me a flyer for a short story competition I’d love to take part in, and I hope to use what I’ll learn in the haiku class to start writing flash fiction, as well.

Are you participating in NaPoMo? Leave me a comment!

Letting it All Hang Out

This year, I will tell you honestly, has surprised me. Whether we believe in the transformative power of dates or not, I think that many of us harbour secret hopes every New Year’s Eve that things will magically change overnight, that the worries and sorrows of the old year will somehow stay behind us and we can start over with a clean slate. Just as many of us have been disappointed that merely turning to a new calendar leaf doesn’t really change anything. But sometimes, just sometimes, the whammy comes out of the blue when you’ve given up expecting it, like some mythological Deus ex Machina, to grant us the reset we’d all but given up on.

That’s exactly what happened. Since January 1st, I have been in an inexplicably good mood. Sure, I’ve gotten cranky a couple of times, but each time it utterly failed to ruin my day. I’ve had two days of semi-depression, and even those weren’t as bad as they could have been. My long-buried and half forgotten creativity has pushed to the surface with a vengeance, and I am so swamped with ideas that every day is at least 12 hours too short. There is reading to be done, words are waiting to be put to keyboard, paint to paper; one idea is not quite finished before it yields another and yet another, and so on it goes. And above -or beneath- it all burns that joyful flame that tickles my belly like a swarm of lovey-dovey butterflies.

I’ve tried getting you, my dear readers, involved in the process but you’ve once again proven resistant to the effort. Perhaps you are shy and don’t want to share your ideas. Perhaps you think you don’t have any. And perhaps some of you do have ideas, but you’ve unlearnt the process of letting it all hang out. This year, no matter what turns may come, my creative hair is down. The cork is popped. The genie will not return to the bottle. When we suffer hard times, we tell ourselves to hang in there and ride it out. Well, the time has now come to surf this wave and enjoy it while it lasts. I appreciate you coming along.

Februart

Today, I would like to invite you, my dear readers, to join me for a little art project during the month of February. It’s easy and takes neither time nor talent, it’s for fun and the only commitment required is a tiny moment for 28 days. Here’s how it works: on February 1st, take a sheet of paper and put something on it. It can be a sticky, a line, a dot, a doodle, a word, anything that tickles your fancy. For the next 27 days, once a day add or erase something from your paper. If you feel like it, document your progress. On March 1st, take a photo of your final product and share it. Go wild. Use different materials. Let other people help. It doesn’t have to pretty or perfect, it just has to be yours. Who’s in?

Countdown to Christmas 2013, Week One

I’ve been posting a kind of advent calendar on Facebook where it is not very much appreciated, sadly. Then it occurred to me that there are more people who might not appreciate it, either, who cannot be reached via Facebook, and I decided to do a weekly summary of the advent goodies so far. This year, I have attempted to dig up some rarities and inspirational items. They’re all well worth a look or listen. Enjoy!

Sarah Brightman starts us off with a traditional tune from her beautiful Christmas album, “A Winter Symphony

I apparently forgot to post something on the 2nd, or it was removed without notifying me, but I did change my profile pic to this lovely Victorian greeting card

Image

Back to the music with a selection of joyful ruckus by Phil Spector

I had no idea that flashmobs were still done, but this one assembled at a mall and surprised shoppers with carolling

Behind the next door, we find more music, this time from guitarist John Fahey, who plays a medley of Russian music

St. Nick regals us with the reading of a poem. I had previously thought of Charles Bukowski as that dirty old man who wrote weird books, but it turns out, he also composed beautiful poetry. In this video, “The Laughing Heart” is read by Tom Waits. For those who don’t understand English too well, the video has German subtitles.

Which brings us to door number seven, behind which hide The Monkees. Yes, really! They also had a lovely Christmas episode on their television show, from which this Spanish traditional is taken.

To see the videos, just click the highlighted areas of text. Videos will open in a new window.

 

Come Together

Hoosiers are a hospitable lot. No doubt about it. If you smell a ‘but’ coming here, you are of course correct. BUT… they seem utterly incapable of making appointments in an orderly fashion. Or follow through on something previously agreed upon. Perhaps that’s my German orderliness speaking here, but it does get a bit irritating. Like this morning. Loewe’s was supposed to call when they were on the way to deliver our floor parts. I knew they were about to show when I heard the truck back up in my driveway. Also, our floor guy was supposed to call to let us know when he’s planning on being here tomorrow. It’s going on five, and nothing. I just hope we’re dressed when the doorbell rings!

Be that as it may, it’s nice to see that things are moving again.

Laminate

“When I grow up, I’m going to be a laminate floor!”

Pile of Tile

And how about this lovely pile of tile?

In the upper picture you can see a fine example of our current carpeting. I’m looking forward to next week, when things ought to look rather different! Riley, meanwhile, takes advantage of the fact that she can still get into the kitchen by catching a nap on the warm stove.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Now, I know some of you are curious what the place looks like on the inside. I hate to present an unfinished job, but here you go. Pardon the mess. It’ll get a bit worse before it gets a lot better.

Dining Room

That’s a view to the dining room from the kitchen.

Garden Room

Adjacent is the garden room where we have breakfast and watch the birds in the morning.

Living room

And our living room. You may have noticed that we have beautiful big windows all around. They are casement windows, which means that you crank open the pane with a little handcrank. The glass bit is on the outside, the screen or storm window -dependent on the season- is on the inside. The drawback to that is that every outer surface is reflective. We’ve had three birds accidentally kill themselves by crashing into the windows in the past few weeks. To prevent that in future, we’ve ordered bird strips from the American Bird Conservancy. They are clear so you can still see through but just opaque enough to indicate to the birds that there is in fact an object in the way. To my astonishment, they’ve already shipped. I hope they’ll help. Have you had a similar problem? What did you do about it? Let’s hear from you!