December 16th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

As I sit here and start typing this post I am enjoying a cup of Cuban coffee. It is one of the coffees in last batch of coffees I ordered. It is not bad but there are others I got in that order that I like better. They have so many coffees I have to keep a list of what I like and don’t like so I don’t re-order one I don’t like. I should have had a decaf but it is early enough in the day I will be able to sleep after drinking this. At least it’s not a double espresso, but I do need to order a few tubes of those and single espresso. It’s a great jolt first thing in the morning and the flavors are intense but delicious.

It’s a cold, blustery day here today and the wind has picked up this afternoon. Glad it is the exception and not the rule or I would not be hanging around here. That means today is one of those stay-in-the-house days, but I have things on the computer I am trying to do. It also means getting out for walks is only out of necessity and they are quick trips out and back in.

I am trying to organize and clean up files on my devices and on my cloud service, which I should have been doing all along but didn’t. I am also trying to get Word and Excel documents converted to their Apple counterparts. I purchased a year of Microsoft Office in August and I am really disappointed with Outlook, the main reason I spent money on the program. Microsoft just cannot make Office work on a Mac like it does on a PC. I am tired of fighting it and going back & forth between different programs so I am gonna simplify it. I don’t really need Word or Excel bad enough to pay for it and I can use the web version if I need to, but my Apple programs will open those documents and spreadsheets with decent compatibility. And I don’t need to spend money since Apple’s programs are “free” (there is that premium price on Apple products though…).

My gripe with Apple’s native programs has been that they would build a basic program and then let third-party developers do the real work on apps that you then have to buy those to get the cool features. Apple has apparently heard the complaints and is putting out some pretty decent apps for their products. Since they are doing that I find myself embedded deeper into Apple’s “walled garden” and I am fine with that. Not an Apple Fanboy; I just like technology that works; I don’t like it well enough to camp out in a line for a week in front of the Apple Store.

Other than organizing that stuff most of the day I went to town and got the new airbox for my truck. I hope this fixes it but I will still have the dealer check it Friday in case it is something else. I hate chasing problems like this with my wallet as it gets expensive fast and you may end up spending money on changing parts that were not bad. The lid on my airbox was cracked so it needed replaced anyway. I cannot really check it to see if it runs better at idle until the engine cools down. At least it is in there.

I ate the rest of my Lou Malnati’s pizza for lunch. It is odd to have room for so much food that I cooked ahead plus things like the pizza. It is convenient but cooking is SOMETHING to do during a day and on a day like today it would be a break. I took some of that chicken/broth base in the freezer and cooked up some chicken and dumplings. It is a great day for something warm and rib-sticking and it hit the spot. Another thing to make with dumplings is a recipe my mom made only once for some reason when I was a kid. Blackberry dumplings. Make the dumplings the same and drop spoonfuls into some boiling blackberries. It is sooo good and filling as well.

I don’t remember if I posted anything about my microwave or not; it is a convection oven/microwave. I bought one of these for the trailer – I had too many other things on my mind to figure it out so I never used it. When I made the Malnati’s pizza I did it in the convection mode. I am very impressed by the utility of this appliance. Two handy appliances in one! I will have to experiment with mine since it is in a tight space in the trailer so I don’t know if it will get too hot or pull too many amps. If it won’t work I have used the microwave part; next time I move into someplace I can use it for baking too.

One more eye appointment tomorrow and I think I am done with follow-ups for that. It is amazing that after 35 years of wearing glasses (and a brief couple of stints trying contacts) I no longer need glasses except to read. It is so fantastic. Everything is so clear and better looking than through glasses. I need to get laundry done tomorrow some time since I have the truck service on Friday and I also really need to wash clothes. Apparently I am back in my old habit of waking up in the mornings around 6 so I can hit the ground running to get it done and have some downtime before I have to leave.

I decided to get my guitar out and try to get back into playing now that I have room to stretch out. Having a hard time with dexterity in my hands so I don’t know how this is going to work out and for how long. I had to struggle a little working on the truck because of arthritis in my left hand and some possible nerve stuff in my right hand after tearing up my shoulder in 2019 – I kept dropping the bolts. However, a few years ago I kinda saw where my hands were headed. I thought I would play around with the keyboards and the textures and things I can do with my limited knowledge of digital music creation. I think I have come up with some interesting things for my tastes but it doesn’t mean that I would do some things a bit different here and there (I still could at some point).

As usual I loosened up a little and it was a little frustrating doing so fumbling along. I did come up with two ideas in about 30 seconds so I recorded those. Then I started some music on the computer to play along with before I started to really work on a few ideas old and new. The next song up I have talked about before. It is an instrumental by Camel (*and that is NOT Frampton’s Camel or Sopwith Camel), and the song is called “Ice”. A beautiful, emotional, heavy/melodic guitar-oriented beautifully-constructed song with a keyboard solo. I used to be able to play along with the guitar parts fairly well but I could not do it tonight. I will not go quietly into the night. I am not giving up. Then some Metallica came on and the mellow mood got moshed. It was an old one called “Escape” off of “Ride the Lightning”. Certainly picked up the mood.

Wow. Talk about some great memories. A song that John and I wrote – actually, it is the very first one we did together probably somewhere around 2006-2008 – just popped up in the shuffle on my computer. He had written the music before we met. I threw the lyrics together in about 20 minutes as I remember and then we recorded it. Those were such great times. Some good stories from those years! Hahaha.

That’s it for tonight. Be safe!

*obscure musical group references from the 60s & 70s

September 13th, 2017

Adventure, Just things, Music, Uncategorized

I am working on another new song finally.

It’s been a drought for songwriting but I have gotten some inspiration and an idea has come to me for one of the next parts of my opus “The Neverending Suite”. I am constantly writing and adding to this piece of music that, in theory, will never really be done – hence the name. It is still currently at 13:38 in duration since I have not added to it in a while.

I am working on the lyrics right now and it is probably the darkest song I have ever written lyrically. It will be a challenge to come up with music to match it but I have been coming up with a few ideas I have recorded as notes and not in the computer yet. Living the drifter life drastically cuts back on the ability to set up a rig for recording so I have to figure out how I’m going to get around that easily. Just one reason I haven’t added to it.

Laying down the track will require some creativity. Recording the guitars and keys can be done easily – just go right into the computer. I don’t have a good solid-body electric guitar yet, no amplifier, no microphone, and I no longer have a mixer either. I will get it figured out but it will mean making a few more purchases. Cash donations gladly accepted! Or, if you’d like to send me a Shure SM58 with stand, a Les Paul, a small guitar amp, a powered mixer, and the necessary cables I would be oh so appreciative!

Not sure how the neighbors will take to recording though. It will sound strange outside these walls – just my voice basically since the rest will be recorded and playing through the headphones – so I have to really do some work figuring that part out. One thought is hanging blankets in the bathroom to deaden the echo. It is the only room not on the hallway and the easiest to fix acoustically so it is probably the best location.

I say one of the “next parts” because “The Neverending Suite” is somewhat biographical and adding this new part skips a few other things that I may or may not want to be reflected in the main work; that is another reason I haven’t added anything else yet. I have been considering adding a few instrumental passages after what is currently done to break it up a bit. After looking at what I have written tonight in the last few minutes I think catching your breath ahead of listening to a song so dark may be a good idea. I’ll see when I get it figured out!

Writing is very therapeutic. Some write poetry, some write books, some paint, but I chose to write songs.

Music

Adventure, Just things, Music

Music used to be my world. I grew up collecting vinyl and going to hundreds of concerts. I spent many dollars on CDs, DVDs, concert tickets, guitars, and other music equipment. I did concert lighting and stage production for years as well. It was my life.

Over time I lost some interest in music until I discovered new styles of music and new artists, piquing my interests in new possibilities of expression. I got bored with the crap that was being released and this new stuff was exciting and made you think about what was going on in the songs. It made me want to write more and in this more complicated style that I had found. It took off lyrically for me at first, becoming more able to express my own thoughts in different ways. It was also easier to write the words than the music that I was creating in my head since I don’t read music and am not an advanced guitar player. I know what I want to do, I just have to figure out how to get there musically so I do my best to get the feel I want in the music and have it “work” with the lyrics. Before the wreck I was working on my playing and was improving.

I think another part of not playing much is that I had a decent studio set up in my house in Colorado and got rid of everything when I moved. I actually had a full stage set-up in my basement and it was great for parties!

I got out my guitar over the weekend and did a little playing. I have not really played much since my motorcycle wreck. I have still wanted to play but the wreck has affected my left hand and arm somewhat so I now have dexterity and strength issues trying to play. It pisses me off to be affected like this but it is how it’s gonna be so I know I have to deal with it. I don’t have to LIKE it…and I don’t. After the wreck I could not really play for about a year and a half. My hand just would not co-operate. It has gotten some function back and will never be the same. But, I AM alive.

I also went back and revisited some of the songs I have recorded, either alone or with others. Quite a trip down memory lane that was, thinking about the things in life at that point in time. I have had some spark of creativity show up lately (finally!) after being stifled for far too long. It’s giving me some new ideas for my ongoing project “The Neverending Suite”, now just over 13 ½ minutes long.

One song I am particularly fond of is “Man in the Mirror”, the first song where I was able to really start to find my footing writing lyrics. It was one of the earliest my friend John and I recorded together, combining my words and music he had stashed away in his guitar for a while. It really brought back what was going on in my life at the time and was almost prophetic in how things have turned out for me the last few years.

I am going to be getting my guitar out more often. It is relaxing and the creativity is very gratifying. At some point I’ll be able to get some equipment set back up and make better recordings, but for now I will just do what I can with what I have. It still is fun to do the writing – in a sense it is a musical journal.

 

New Song – 10/30/13

Just things, Music, Uncategorized

Well, I finally got motivated and worked on a new song. Actually, I have had this for a while but it wasn’t recorded with vocals until tonight.

I started it on my iPad while on a plane. I was experimenting with Garage Band on it and recorded a few things. Two of these I kept, and this song is one of them. The people next to me probably thought I was nuts tapping on the iPad like that. The other one I am still working on but it is almost ready to record. Add to that another one I have had ready to record and I am on a roll. I will be recording and posting them pretty soon.

For those who are interested in a listen, here is the link: Asleep With Both Eyes Open

My Postings Have Been Quiet…

Adventure, Just things, Music, Outdoors, Uncategorized

..but I have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

Weather has been beautiful lately, but the showers may be back this week. I am hoping to get a bike ride in and undertake an adventure this week since I have a three-day weekend. Victoria, Canada is still on my radar and I want to go over there sooner rather than later. I am told that the museum and the gardens are something to see, as well as the Parliament building. Those would be good on a day that is overcast or rainy. Guess I need to get to checking out the Canadian weather service website tonight!

With this beautiful weather comes visitors… LOTS of them on the weekends, and the weekdays are starting to get busier here at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This translates into long days. I have also been to the lighthouse several times this past week, taking people out from the International Boundary Commission. They were doing some survey work on the Canada/U.S. international boundary (hence the name… clever, eh?). I made a grocery run for the lighthouse people since I was going to be out two days in a row. Out of kindness they gave me two packages of smoked steelhead they brought down from Alaska for doing that for them. Cannot wait to crack that open!

We have not seen any European Green Crab in our crab traps so far, so that is great news. We have seen many small shore crabs, some helmet crabs, Dungeness, and red rock crabs – some REALLY nice and huge Dungeness and red rock. Unfortunately, we cannot keep them since we are setting traps for research. July 1 is the open of recreational crab season and I am going to go out with a few different people to catch my own. My mouth is watering just thinking about some fresh crab and a Guinness. Gotta get my license/catch card (whatever it is that I need!) pretty shortly and have everything ready to go.

All this work has cut into my adventuring a bit, but just temporarily. My ride week before last was a really good ride and the scenery was fantastic. It had to tide me over through last week; since I had so much going on it was good to stay home and relax on Friday.

So, it looks like tonight I will be looking into some options for this week’s adventure – weather, location, things to see and do, and if I can ride or will have to drive. That 45 MPG on the bike is pretty damn nice!

I have been playing guitar nearly every night the last few weeks as well. It kinda goes in waves sometimes, with a lull that will last sometimes longer than I like but it is not good to force playing for me. I have had a dry spell for songwriting; I have some ideas but am not putting anything together quite yet – mainly just getting back into playing more regularly and getting my playing back up to speed. I also tried a different tuning and taught myself to play the guitar part John wrote for one of the earliest songs we wrote together. It actually came out sounding good! Open Mic Night is still happening weekly, and is another reason I have been practicing.

That is about all for this update. I hope to have something new to post in the next few days.