July 2010

Life used to be a big bowl of cherries. As a kid I remember devouring fruit all summer long. My grandfather called me "Miss Peach" because peaches were my all time fave. I'd always finish the bowl before anyone else had a chance. And it all tasted really really good.


Too many summers have come and gone where I've tried one more time to buy peaches, or cherries, or plums, and been disappointed and miffed because they've been picked too soon, and are dried out and tasteless.


I've finally found a source for tasty locally grown stuff. The $7.50 heirloom tomato I bought yesterday almost gave me a heart attack at the checkout counter. But I carried it home tenderly like the most precious crystal vase...and devoured it, perfect, just salt, pepper, olive oil.


And the cherries have been superb. I hear they're great for gout too.


Meanwhile, the gorgeous SQUAM ART WORKSHOPS JOURNAL is ready for order. For anyone unfamiliar, "SAW" is a beautiful arts retreat up in New Hampshire, in fact I'm doing a couple of songwriting sessions for this September's retreat.  If the trek is too far or too much, the journal might just be a sweet way to get a taste for this incredible place.

There are ladders everywhere this July. Yesterday I watched as three different families chose (and went to crazy lengths) to go around this ladder. This involved kathunking strollers off of curbs and squeezing them between parked cars...one nanny just shook her head as the mommy shrieked "NOooooo, don't go under there, it's BAD LUCK!!!"

 The guys holding the ladder were just cracking up. It really freaked people out. I wanted to be brave and just go under, but there was a guy up there with a huge bucket of grout and, you know, it could have been dangerous... so I went around too. And then later, before I had realized it, I technically went under a scaffolding one. So far from the sidewalk... did that count? That's when I saw the conspiracy. They are everywhere, the ladders are laughing at us.


When I got back to my little room, my little songs, I realized I have my mother's old prayer rug on my wurlitzer, under my notebooks and my laptops and my M-Audio recorder.  And somehow, my grandmother Amelia's bracelet ended up on top of my notebooks too.  (she could play the piano like nobody's business)


And I have a "First Lady of Fabulous" reusable shopping bag on my chair



and my lucky sock monkey looking down over me, next to the secret treasure box my brother made for me.

....Maybe we can call it even.


But I'm not really superstitious.

Who's BAD?

The graffiti seems to change year to year at the school near my apartment. This year, along with the Michael Jackson tribute


is a very colorful "EXCELLENCE."

The kid in the tableau is scribbling graffiti on one page of his notebook, and what look to be stars and planets on the next page. He looks a little tweaky and thoroughly unconvinced, but maybe it's the angle of the hat.


In fact, just last night on the bus late at night coming home, a guy was going off on an amazing list of subjects. "After Jupiter and Mars," he said "they landed on the moon, I know that, but can they land on a full moon? that's what I really need to know... can they land on a full moon? I don't know. I got to go to the library and see about that. full moon, see what I'm sayin'."  No profanity or imaginary friends, just a curious discourse about possibility.


So who IS bad? There are, apparently no bad dogs. And bad is really really good in some circles....


Last night Letterman said of Mel Gibson's woes: "I wouldn't give his troubles to a monkey on a rock." What did the monkey ever do to Dave anyway?


In other news, today, on the subway, another psycho knitter visiting from Miami caught me  working on my little malabrigo cardigan and struck up a conversation. What are the odds on the 6 train? Pippi and Larry just celebrated their 40th anniversary. Neither of them could believe it.


They'd been in Paris for the occasion, so Pippi hipped me to all the Parisian yarn haunts. Then she showed me her purse that she had just finished.



"Cascade, and then I added crocheted edges to the leaves." Pippi is hard core. They were going to the City Museum but really I could tell Pippi was only doing the museum thing to get closer to Annie and co. Knitting. Once you're in, it's worse than shoes. You just can't stop searching for that new perfect yarn fix. I resisted the urge to tag along. Home to my fledgling songs. 

Who's bad?

time gone by

This week.... the TODAY show came to my yoga class. Ugggghh. I hope they didn't get me, lobster red, deflated, spent, raccoon eyed from leftover mascara. This is torture Bikram yoga, after all, not for the vain, or faint of heart. It is not one bit pretty.


Joe Sample has been at the Blue Note all week, so we got back to work on our musical.


Randy Crawford came to town and sat in with Joe, and again I was transported by the magic that she and Joe create together. When she nails those high "Street Life" refrains at the end - chills.


Then Anne Marie Milazzo came over to demo two of our new songs. Oh MY! You remember Annie from the "Live in New York" DVD. Well, she brought these new Joe/Jonatha songs to a whole new level. Annie did all the vocal arrangements for "Spring Awakening" and "Next to Normal."


I also flew to Boston to visit my mom. Our new tradition, our visit to SUPERCUTS. Dennis, we'll call him, took such good care of her. Of course she asked him every ten minutes, "Am I beautiful yet?" Then she'd whisper, "You know my mother would get stopped on the street when I was little because I looked so much like Shirley Temple!!"


But I've been strangely without my camera. And strangely incoherent, incohesive. Regathering for this touring coming up, and the next creative explosion. I can feel it.


So, here, my pictureless journal! Sometimes the pictures in my imagination are way better anyway.

writing, knitting, reading, writing
Writing, when it's flowing, is better than chocolate. It is effortless, and magical. It's like the songs just appear. "Je n'Peux Pas te Plaire" was like that..."Little Bird" flew right in my window. When I'm stuck, I am unbearable, tortured.

I'm not complaining, mind you, I am luckier than lucky to do what I do. I just have to laugh at the pain that some songs bring. ok, Torture.



All I can do is something mindless, to get away from that excruciating BLANK. Yesterday I hand-washed every possible dirty thing, I ironed all my husband's beautiful shirts, I purged our closets in between attempts at a new song. I worked on two sweaters in progress.



Then, as usual, I found some little gems in the twenty notebooks this year has yielded. And that set me running, except I got stuck with this mind boggling pattern on the wurlitzer in 5/8 time. I could never sing it the same way twice, but it kept me mesmerized...


Back to knitting, I tried to think back into a normal metre. Why can't I write in 4/4? Why must everything be odd?

Well, who needs four beats to a measure, anyway? I say the waltz is KING. Back to my inspirations, the wordsmiths that keep my engine humming. And then, back to my 5/8 torture!

Too Much


Comme La Cigale et La Fourmi... "Que faisiez vous au temps chaud?...Nuit et jour, a tous venant, je chantais, ne vous deplaise..."


Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's my favorite city. There's such abundance in the simplest of things. So much happiness. More vivid after loss. Happiness is all the new songs in my head. They are waking me each morning. Happiness is wandering Paris with my true love last Thursday night, everyone out picnicking by the Seine.



De Gaulle, Hotel de Ville.


Happiness is the bottle of 2002 Chateau Pavie Macquin St. Emilion that managed to survive the flight home. Happiness is the Michel Cluizel chocolate truffles that didn't survive the flight home because I ate them ALL. Happiness is dancing til I dropped last night at a friend's wedding, a second line New Orleans brass quartet rocking the house....


In fact, I am working on a song called "Too Much Happiness" first inspired by Alice Munro's title for her book of short stories. In fact, happiness is an Alice Munro short story... Happiness is a Billy Collins poem, a skein of perfect baby alpaca yarn in midnight blue, coming home replenished, re-inspired. LOVE is happiness.


So the La Fontaine story goes, "et bien, dansez maintenant." Alors, j'y vais. I shall.

My Louvre

The Louvre on a Sunday in July. PACKED, crazy. OK. We were tired, the throngs made me a little slappy, and so my eye kept being drawn to the corners of paintings, to little side dramas that I found quite entertaining.



The Lilith Fair Cruise


Sarah didn't say we'd have to row AND sing.


Could someone shut her up?


Who is he WEARING? I love those shorts, and the socks are killer.


The original "Brokeback Mountain."


This one really knocked me out. Bartholemew Spranger: "Allegorie de la Justice et de la Prudence." The way he captured that eery moonlight. The red next to the deathly white of her arms. The way she holds the sword. Her partner, so muted except for the moonlight on her breast.


Adam and Eve


God spying on them like a creepy old man.


In fact, there were so many creepy old men, and so much breast worship, nipple tweaking, cherubic smugness, and we wonder why the church is such a mess.


These two are sisters apparently conferring about maternity.




I loved this one too. Unusual apparently for Adonis to be depicted slain, perspective really striking.  His trusty pup, keeping watch.


Finally, "La Madeleine a la Veilleuse."  Such a powerful reflection on remorse, repentance,  'les ephemeres' the things of the flesh so fleeting. The human and divine comedies.

4th of July, no fireworks, just Paris's ever perfect embrace.

My husband and I are in Paris, but on a somber journey. A dear friend passed away last week, and we came for the ceremony. It was beautiful, poetic... between tributes by his friends, the music he cherished and championed was played. We sat, rapt, friends, colleagues, admirers in the gorgeous crematorium at the cemetery Pere Lachaise. Chopin is here, Moliere, Michel Petrucciani. It is a stunningly beautiful Cemetery. Perhaps another time I will come walk through it's cobblestones and perfect paths.

I have had a couple of days here to wander, albeit, heavy of heart. From the Arc de Triomphe


Angel at the Arc


The funeral of General Marceau

to St. Germain,


I love the encouragement society. We all need one...

to the Marais and back through the Tuileries.


Angel with little bird on her shoulder.


I'll have to go back and see who these guys are, and where they are going... a huge downpour opened up, thunder, lightning, the works right after I took this photo. Always cathartic.

I have had vivid images of our friend running through my memory. His very French pronunciation of English,  "Zeees guy was CREzzzy," his warm and generous heart, the way he used his whole body to tell a story. We will miss him so.


Walking yesterday on the tiny rue des Blancs Manteaux, there was vivid piano music pouring out of a ground floor window. The tiny corral of streets seemed to amplify the sound. There in a dark room filled with pianos, keyboards, broken things, paintings, was a man practising. I peeked through the barred windows and felt comfort - that powerful reassurance that only music seems to bring. Music is alive. Music runs through us all, and will sustain us.

ROSEBURG revisited and rollicking!

We came back to Roseburg, Oregon this past Tuesday to make things right. No truncated set, no wack job interferers.


And what a day it was. The picnic blankets started showing up around 4 am as usual.


At noon, I was lucky enough to stop by KQEN and hang out with Kyle Bailey (thanks too to Bob Larson)


Arriving at the Half Shell, I loved this particular picnic blanket because I thought maybe Mark Wahlberg had moved to Roseburg, and as a going away present his girlfriend made him this blanket so he wouldn't forget her...

I didn't see him, but you never know.


I confessed to the audience that even as the crowd was filing out dutifully after the BOMB SCARE last year, I was running back into the band RV to grab the wine I had bought for after the show. As I opened the door I was thinking, wouldn't that just suck if the RV was where this doofis put the bomb, and I was stupid enough to die rescuing my 2001 Brunello. Well, I was good to go, and our consolation prize was that some of the town sponsors and the promoter hung out in the parking lot of the Motel 6 with us in our pajamas drinking my fine wine.

(motel 6, band, brunello)


This year, we got to stay backstage with the most gorgeous, scrumptious home cooking, our incredibly warm and welcoming hosts, and a fine bottle of Banfi. Honestly, this series is the most amazing collaboration between loving local sponsors, and town passion. We were so honored to be invited back and get to do another show.

Back stage beauty!


Fresh rasberries from someone's private stash.


I will treasure my orange apron forever.  THANK YOU ALL!