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Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

This song for week 20 of #songaweek2018 probably feels a little cheated. “I really have a lot of potential,” I can hear it whining, “but you barely gave me anything to work with! You didn’t even try me on piano, which would probably sound a whole lot better than that jangly guitar you insist on strumming monotonously. And really, with all the technology you had to work with, you chose to record me late one night sitting in front of your old laptop?”

Well, yes. It was a busy week and my first day of songwriting was pretty much a failure. Some scattered good ideas but nothing was coming together.

Then the next day, I was walking to pick up my son from school in the intoxicating May sunshine, and it occurred to me that even though our sun is just average in brightness and size compared to other stars, it matters immeasurably more to me than any other sun possibly could. Not because it’s the brightest or best, but because it’s home to me.

Which, of course, is a very tidy metaphor for marriage, which made for a much-better-flowing songwriting session the next day, where after a couple hours I had a mostly-complete song. As another songwriter in our #songaweek group noted recently – and I have also found to be true – if a song doesn’t mostly come together in one session, it’s usually not worth going back to for a second attempt.

So by the time I got through my failed attempt and then spent another day writing this one – all the while attending to the everyday stuff which really heats up this time of year as school winds down and there are numerous concerts and activities on the calendar – the arranging and recording process had to be streamlined, meaning pretty much eliminated entirely.

But that’s okay. Unlike the writing process, if a song’s arrangement doesn’t come together right away, that can be worth going back to, and I probably will with this one.

Once again (as in “Angel”), this song takes inspiration from the reading I’ve done in astrophysics, specifically and most recently Carlo Rovelli’s Reality is Not What it Seems. The suggested theme for the week was “future,” which did get some space here.

I wake in your light
I sleep in your glow
And all the day through your love keeps me warm
Let these moments spread out
Through the hours and days
Of our lives

There’s billions and billions of brillianter stars
But the one that shines brightest for me by far
Is the one that I’ve built my whole world around
And that’s you, yes, you.

Everything’s moving
Life is a dance
We are particles weaving a field
With the speed of the light
from the fire that we stoke
With our love

There’s billions and billions of brillianter stars
But the one that shines brightest for me by far
Is the one that I’ve built my whole world around
And that’s you, yes, you.

There are days when the clouds
Hide your face in the gray
And I’m cold and I can’t feel you at all
And there’s nothing to say
And there’s nothing to do
But hold on

There’s billions and billions of brillianter stars
But the one that shines brightest for me by far
Is the one that I’ve built my whole world around
And that’s you, yes, you.

I know lovers must part
And even planets and stars
All eventually expire
But the shimmering waves
from the love that we’ve made
Journey on

There’s billions and billions of brillianter stars
But the one that shines brightest for me by far
Is the one that I’ve built my whole world around
And that’s you, yes, you.

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Well, at last – a happy simple song! Guess I was feeling a little drunk on spring which has finally come, in full force, to my part of the northland – and remembering the spring I met Nathan and how it felt to fall so hard in love.

Just a quick rough recording on my phone, made while facing the new sheetrock in the kitchen so I could enjoy a little natural reverb.

I don’t need to say much more about this song (for week 17 of #songaweek2018), except that tomorrow my beloved and I celebrate twenty years of marriage, and I’m thankful to be able to say, I’m still a teeny tiny little bit in love with him.

Oh, and yesterday we played it with our band and it was an instant success! I’m excited to perform this one.

There’s word going round about a woman you know
They say she’s trying to hide what she can’t help but show
so I looked her up and sat her down for a talk
But she couldn’t sit still so then we went for a walk
And the spring in her step and the thrill in her veins
And your name on an endless looping track in her brain
Told me everything I needed, yes the rumors are true
I’m just a teeny tiny little bit in love with you

She said she’d meet you tomorrow, tonight or right now
Don’t matter where or why, or what or how
It’s mainly just the who that she cares about
And you know that’s you, you’re the one who makes her shout
To the flowers and trees, to the birds and butterflies
About how you make her feel like she just opened her eyes
On a world bright with beauty and this radical truth
I’m just a teeny tiny little bit in love with you

I like to think of her and you in closer quarters
I like to think you’re thinking of that too
I hope that you and she could find a place to loiter
I hope you’re hoping for that same thing too

Well I suppose I’ll have to come down from this natural high
nothing lasts forever but the wondering why
but you could come with me on my hike back down
to my everyday life in an everyday town
And hold my hand and own my heart
and share with me a house and a car
Cause while it ebbs and it flows, this current stays true
I’m just a teeny tiny little bit in love with you

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I decided to go with the suggested theme for my song this week, which was “cartoons.” I think I had just as much fun making the video as I did writing the song this time. I wrote the song first, then scanned public domain cartoon titles for any I thought might contain some of the images included in the song. Loved what I found for the “eyelashes” line! Couldn’t find any bouquets of balloons though – only wanted to spend so much time on the project.

Lest anyone imagine I’ve somehow managed to actually keep the thrill alive for twenty years so that I really do feel my heart leaping into my chest every time my beloved walks into the room – no, that’s not true. Not literally, not even metaphorically like it was when we were first together. *But* it’s totally true cartoonishly – like, if I were to make a caricature of my feelings for my husband – the joy of sharing everyday life after all these years and still having fun together – it might look something like that.

(I could also make, as part of that same cartoon, a scene where smoke blows out of my ears and I breathe fire at him – because sometimes I feel like that too! – but I was going for sweetness and light here, which is just as real and where I prefer to focus most days.)

Here’s my song for week ten of #songaweek2018:

It’s been a long time since our first kiss
But we’re still holding each other
We’re not as cute as when we were kids
But that don’t mean the show’s over
Let’s dance around let’s jump over the moon
You know, like they do in cartoons

My heart leaps out of my chest when you walk in the room
And my eyelashes grow thirteen feet
And they sweep sweep sweep
For you

Most days are not any big to-do
But honey I’m so glad you’re here with me
We take a walk, we play a tune
We contemplate life’s countless mysteries
Let’s float away on bouquets of balloons
You know, like they do in cartoons

So on we go towards our setting sun
Awake, alive and happy together
This love is so good because it’s true
You know, like the heart of cartoons

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This May my love and I will be celebrating our twentieth anniversary. I can still remember that feeling of terror mixed with hope the day before our wedding. Like running towards a cliff, knowing I’m going to have to jump. I read this week that Ray Bradbury once said, “go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.” That’s a fitting description of marriage, I think.

My song for week two of #songaweek2018 reflects on my own marriage and any long-term committed relationship. I feel I must say upfront, this is a song, using metaphor, to describe the ups and downs of love. When I say “love is prison, love is refuge, trap and sanctuary,” I am not condoning abuse, or for that matter, the expectation that my partner will provide me with refuge and sanctuary.

It’s not the people in the relationship who create prison or refuge for one another – it’s love itself. Anytime you commit yourself to another person in love, you are likely to at some time feel at least a little trapped – not by the person, but by your commitment to them. And other times – and often even at the same time – that commitment is a sweet refuge.

I sang in the stairwell for the acoustic effect. Words are below the video.

 

Pins & needles in my chest

Love forever my last breath

We are really doing this

Strength today bright hope tomorrow

Road before us rough and narrow

Find me always at your side

Love is prison Love is refuge

Trap and sanctuary

Believe me

I believe you

Hide with me inside these shadows

Of our doubt

Richer poorer sickness health

This day forward till the bell tolls

Better, worse, monotonous

Year on year and day by day

Hearts on fire hearts’ dull ache

I am never letting go

Love is prison Love is refuge

Trap and sanctuary

Believe me

I believe you

Search with me deeper still

Wider yet, steady on

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Day twenty in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

Is this really the first microbrewery I’ve posted in this series? Well I’ve got some work to do to get ’em all in before we leave!

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We walked to Verboten this afternoon while the kids were at school. Happy hour over “Quaffee” – a coffee quad, “Belgian style Quad with an infusion of locally roasted coffee. Collaboration with SnowBank Brewing of Fort Collins.” This was a big beer, 10% ABV. Glad we were walking!

I’ve got some poignant memories of Verboten, which just moved to downtown Loveland from its former location in an industrial park about a year ago, and has quickly become a favorite spot. Sitting out on the patio with our Wisconsonian friend James when he came to visit; one very low moment for me crying into my “Music Maker” beer this past February, feeling depressed and homesick and purposeless (I wasn’t alone, I don’t drink alone – I was with Nathan); and then a few weeks later drinking a beer whose name I forgot with Nathan, after we decided to move to St. Paul, and talking about the future and our ideas for our new life back in Minnesota.

My favorite regular beer here is “Killer Boots.” “Angry Banjo” is very good too. In fact I haven’t had anything I didn’t like here!

Footnote: that cut under my lip is from an unfortunate music stand adjustment-turned-attack at my church’s Good Friday service. It looks a lot better in this photo than it did that night!

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Day eleven in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

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Nathan and Cody and I hiked at Devil’s Backbone today. This place is just on the west side of Loveland, miles and miles of trails that connect up with other hiking areas north of here to Fort Collins. Nathan loves to go mountain biking here. One time he killed a rattlesnake that wouldn’t leave the path. Today we only saw birds, grasshoppers, and some mule deer.

Today was a perfect day for hiking here. In the heat of summer it’s scorching, because there is practically no shade to speak of. Today the sun was warming instead of withering. And since it was a Monday, the trail was pretty quiet, unlike the crowds that descend on the weekends.

I’m feeling a bit sick today so we didn’t go as far as we like to. If you continue taking the trail we were on, you’ll gain enough elevation that you can get some beautiful views of the bigger snow-capped mountains. (Or if you take the shorter Keyhole trail, you get those views much more quickly but you’re actually right at the Backbone formation so you can’t see it like you can in these pictures.) If you look closely at the photo above, off to the right behind the foothills you can see one snowy peak peeking out.

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There’s a line from a Rich Mullins song that has been haunting me the past year or so – “lonely even here in paradise.” Not that he came up with the “lonely in paradise” phrase, but the song (“Land of my Sojourn”) especially connects with me, with its images of roads and mountains and traveling and song.

For nearly four years our family of four has lived in what feels like paradise, where gray days are few and even many of those still have moments of sunshine. Where, when the trees aren’t fully leafed out, I can see snow-capped mountains from my back door. Where my man and I can walk to our choice of three really good microbreweries for a little after-work date and be home in an hour for dinner with the kids. Where we can get to world-class vacation destinations like Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park just by driving 45 minutes through the breathtaking Big Thompson Canyon, sometimes spotting big-horned sheep and elk along the way. Where winter doesn’t overstay its welcome, and snow melts in a day or two under the mile-closer golden sunshine. Where cars don’t rust from a six-month bath of road salt.

Yeah, yeah, you get the idea. It’s beautiful here. It’s been a four-year working vacation – emphasis on the “working” for my husband Nathan, who has worked full-time all four years we’ve been here in Loveland, something neither of us had done for nearly ten years before moving here – and something we are very excited for him to be finished with NEXT TUESDAY!! when he moves to part-time for a couple months while the kids finish school and we prepare to move back to Minnesota.

Yes, Minnesota. Oh, Minnesota. I didn’t know I’d miss you. Colorado has delivered on the rugged-yet-hip mountain man image it’s been given, but Minnesota, you are my boy next door. I just didn’t realize how much you meant to me, with your green growing everything and your ten thousand lakes and your rivers and prairies and woods.

Oh, I know about the snow – which becomes the slush and the chunks and the salty spewing splash on my car and my boots and my pant legs. And the mosquitoes. And the humidity. And the gray days, and no mountains to miss behind the gray anyway.

But I guess, after a lifetime of not really knowing where I’m from, I might just call you home. I might just say I’m a Minnesota girl after all, though I will always be eager to travel, even to leave you again and live somewhere else for a while. I’m an adventurous hobbit maybe, like Bilbo and Frodo, loving my cozy Shire, and itching for the road.

But the heart of it is, my people are in Minnesota, and I miss them dearly. It’s magnified because I have two children who are very close to their grandparents and cousins and it got harder and harder to feel so many hearts breaking each time we piled back in the car to drive 800 miles away from those people who make Minnesota home for us.

And I began to feel terribly lonely in paradise. Like living in a beautiful mansion all alone. No calling up my mom for a coffee date on the weekend, no possibility of grandparents attending soccer games or orchestra concerts. I know this is the reality for many families in our highly mobile society – it was my reality as a child – but I’ve decided to opt out, and I am grateful for a husband who is willing to leave this paradise even though he doesn’t share my feelings of homesickness. Maybe we’ll be back some day when the kids are grown. Loveland is a popular retirement destination after all! Or maybe we’ll go further west – all the way to northern California, where mountains and ocean converge.

For now we’ve decided to live in Saint Paul, because we have some good friends there, there’s more access to bike trails around the river, and we’ve already lived in Minneapolis (which was great, but why not try something new?!). It’s been eleven years since we lived in the Twin Cities (we were in our hometown of Owatonna for seven years before moving here to Loveland), and there’s a lot I’ve missed about being there. So I’m excited to rediscover the familiar, and explore the new.

But for now, I live in Colorado, and I’ve got at least two months left to enjoy this place.

Last year I wrote and posted a song a week on my blog. It’s been good to take a few months off, but now I’m ready for a new challenge, and this time I’m going for a DAILY one. I’m going to post a photo of something I love about Loveland (and surrounding area probably) every day starting today until the day we load the moving truck or unplug the wifi or whatever I deem the end of our sojourn here in paradise.

Obviously this will probably be the longest post in the series! But here we go.

Today’s little piece of Loveland is my own back yard. I just missed the full blossom, but here is our little cherry tree, next to the chicken coop (that’s our neighbor’s house in the background):

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Loveland has a cherry festival every summer – apparently there are a lot of cherry trees here! This one hasn’t produced all that much fruit, but we have gotten a few bright red handfuls each year, which never make it into the house – we just pick and eat!

I like to sit at that table on weekend mornings with a cup of coffee. It faces east so I drink in the morning sun too.

Our house is on a corner lot, so most of our yard is in front of or along the outside of the house, but I did make a small area between the garage and the deck into a more private nook (every introvert needs her private outdoor space!) I even dug up a spot and laid all these rocks down to make a little patio:

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And that’s blue-eyed grass, the first thing that flowers in our yard, the first bit of spring color we get to enjoy.

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