Saturday, September 7, 2013

Zuzu’s Petals & Clover Lane Coffee House

Last night it was my pleasure and privilege to get to see Cary Cooper, Brad Yoder and Jason Rafalak perform again at Clover Lane Coffee House.  I’ve been looking forward to this ever since Bart Carpenter who books the Coffee House gigs for my church told me they were coming back again this year.  After seeing them last year, I signed up for the Kickstarter campaign to support Cary’s new album, Zuzu’s Petals, which I got my copy of straight from the lady herself last night.  And she remembered that I wrote about her performance last year

I had some driving around to do this morning, so I popped my new CD into my car.  Cary played about half the songs from the album last night, and I was really impressed by how professional and polished they sound on the CD.  I also enjoyed the rest of the songs that I was hearing for the first time, especially Jump, If I Could Fall Asleep and Gandhi Drove a Cab.  Cary is a brilliant and talented songwriter.   Her songs always move me to sing along or cry, and they do it every time I listen, not just the first time.  She’s not afraid to share personal things in her music and because she’s not afraid to be that open, it opens my heart in return to let the songs inside.  Her music has become part of my personal history, especially now that I’m living in my Wildest Dreams and I have All I’ve Ever Wanted.  Her songs have the power to bring pieces of the past to the surface to be re-examined, learned from and let go.   The songs on Zuzu’s Petals that do this the most for me are the title track, Zuzu’s Petals, and Little Things.   

Zuzu’s Petals isn't your standard tune with verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.  It plays like a stream of consciousness of every thought, feeling and justification you make for yourself as you go through the different phases of a relationship.  While I was listening to it in the car this morning, I started crying, really crying, not just tearing up.  "Just like Georgie Bailey Christmas Eve/When Clarence showed him reasons not to leave/I put Zuzu's Petals on my car/So I remember not to go too far" - Yeah, that was the line that did it.  I thought, 'This is what good music does, it opens up a dam in our souls'

I remember Cary playing Little Things last year, and I am so glad to have it on the new CD.  The song talks about the moments that pass as we grow up and grow older that may not seem like a big deal at the time but as you look back you realize made a huge impact.  I cry every time I hear the third verse about her second husband proposing not only to her but to her daughters. “You got down on one knee again/And promised that you’d be their friend/Because you know it’s all the little things”  

Also now I really want to learn the ukulele – because I have tiny hands.  Thank you for coming back to Harrisburg, Cary!

We also really enjoyed seeing Brad and Jason play again.  Brad Yoder has a wonderful tenor voice and is also a brilliant song writer.   He is a gifted musician, and played guitar, xylophone and soprano sax through the course of the evening, which is three more instruments than I can play.  Everyone at Clover Lane Coffee House really enjoyed hearing his song “She Loves Jesus More Than Me” – which goes along nicely with Cary Cooper’s song “I Left You For Jesus”.  Another song of Brad’s, “Immortal” struck a chord with me as it reminded me of when you watch friends do things that you know aren’t going to turn out well but you can’t do anything about it.  I picked up two more of Brad’s CDs as well as an Excellent Trouble t-shirt and I will review them fully once I’ve listened to them a few times. 

I also wanted to mention how awesome it was that they had a friend from my church, JD Stillwater, back them up on the drums.  Having live percussion added something cool and new to the performances and made it different from last year.  I thought it was great that they included our local UCH talent.  

You can find their music on ITunes and  Please check them both out!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cracked Writing Exercise

Okay, because apparently I no longer need sleep like the rest of you mortals, I'm still awake.  Never mind that I got less than 6 hours of sleep last night, and tomorrow is going to be a long day that ends in roller coasters. (Literally - Storm Runner, Fahrenheit, Great Bear, I am coming for YOU!)  I'm still awake and since I devoted at least an hour to Angry Birds Friends, that means I have to write a blog.  As punishment. Or something.

So I read this article 5 Writing Exercises That Will Make You More Creative on  I'm wearing my NaNoWriMo T-shirt today.  And it has occurred to me that November is just a little over 3 months away.  I'm going to take exercise 3 from the article - Abandon Your Story - and do that.  I'm going to just write a little something, the start of an idea, that will never go anywhere and then NOT clutter up my head in November.  When I may be writing a follow-up to Oubliette anyway, which would be the story of two of the secondary characters, Ben and Mia. 

Little Woman, Big Dog

"Miranda, why do I always have to walk Butch and you get to walk Cassidy?   I love Butchie, he's a good little dog - oh yes you are, " Mike said, stopping to rub the miniature Doberman Pinscher's tummy, "but I think the neighbors are laughing at us."

Miranda looked at him.  She was so tired of him bringing this up.  Yeah, she supposed it must look comical to see a petite blonde woman walking a full sized Doberman alongside a broad shouldered, athletic-looking man walking a miniature version of the same dog.  She could try to explain again the special bond between her and Cassidy.  She had gotten him when he was just a puppy and refused to let the breeder crop his beautiful soft ears.  Now he had the long legs and thin body the breed was noted for, but the adorable ears of a Dachshund.  She had him long before Mike came along, and sometimes in the dark of the night suspected he would be her companion after Mike was gone.  She could tell him again how Cassidy had protected her during a home invasion, or never let her leave for a jog by herself.  That Cassidy was her dog, and he wasn't walking with anyone but her. 

She could try all that, or she could let him walk Cassidy and let Cassidy tell him, in his own special doggie way. 

And that's all folks!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

On my way!

Tonight one of the Zumba Fitness Instructors at Golds Gym Linglestown gave me the opportunity to teach a song during her class. I was nervous all day, and I did make one mistake during the song, but otherwise it went very well. The song was En Sus Marcas Listos Fuera. I did the live version of the choreography from the DVD I got when I completed my Zumba Basic 1 training. I had fun, and now I'm pumped to do it again tomorrow. I was especially glad that the woman who always does the loudest "Woop woop!" and hollers along with the lyrics was there. The chorus of the song has this great "What, what, what!" followed by a drawn out "Yeeaaaah!" that was awesome to hear people shouting out while we were all dancing.

I want to work on some more of my own choreography. I still need to finish the cool down song I've been working on (Baby Got Back by Jonathan Coulton) And I need to finish the routine for Say Hey I Love You by Michael Franti and the Spearheads. - I love this song, Keely and I used to dance around the basement to it when I moved back home for while. 

I'm very excited and grateful for the opportunity to try teaching out and eager to teach more. I'm so glad the other people I've met in the Zumba Fitness community here in Central PA have been so kind and welcoming.  Say Hey, I Love You, Zumba!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Quietly, She begins to blog again

I was reading a great blog yesterday, Crappy Pictures - Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick. What started as a place for a new mom to vent and be creative led to a book deal, a Crappy Store and getting to meet other clever authors and Moms. But it's gotta be a challenge being a full-time Mom and taking the time to write every single day. I've struggled with it with this blog, which started off with such good intentions (It is called the Daily Rite, oops).

So let's try this again... without any fanfare or expectations.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Milk! It does a Suzy good.

So Tim saw a link on that other social networking site about the dairy industry wanting to add aspartame to flavored milks (like Strawberry and Chocolate) to reduce the calorie content and make them “healthier”. Here’s a thought - It’s healthier when you don’t add stuff to it! Or, if you just don’t add stuff to every glass of it you drink. Or drink it by the half gallon jug. There’s nothing wrong with chocolate or strawberry milk as an occasional treat. It’s creamy and yummy and still full of proteins and vitamins.

So here’s two pictures of me drinking milk, because milk is delicious. Exactly the way it is

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review of Avenge –The Patronus Book 2

**Warning! –Contains spoilers if you haven’t read Awaken – The Patronus Book 1**

Avenge is the second book in the Patronus series by Sarah Ross. It picks up a short time after the end of Awaken. Lucy Donovan and her soul mate Max are now part of an elite team of Patroni who are actively hunting vampires, rather than just defending the souls of the newly dead as they transition from Earth to Heaven. Lucy and Max are living together, but Lucy can’t completely enjoy the domestic bliss. Her sister Jessica’s soul is still lost, and Lucy fears that by the time they find her the vampires may have corrupted it beyond redemption.

Lucy is much more seasoned as a Patronus in this book. We see her taking an active role in hunting for the vampires who took her sister’s soul, and looking for a traitor within the Patronus ranks who is leaking information to the enemy. She’s been granted a new power that helps her defend herself against vampires and werewolves, a coating of silver armor she can summon at will.

The romance between Max and Lucy is demonstrated beautifully throughout the book. Sarah Ross does a great job of showing an intimate adult relationship without going into details that would make the book inappropriate for a YA audience. Max demonstrates the depth of his love for Lucy not just with words, but with caring and thoughtful actions. When it really counts, Max and Lucy are both willing to sacrifice anything to guarantee each other’s safety.

The pacing of the story is fast and suspenseful. There’s plenty of action and drama as Lucy, Max and their friends confront vampires in New Orleans. Lucy and Max are separated and suffer, but ultimately are reunited, the bond that has joined them from the beginning of time stronger than ever.

I stayed up until 1:30 AM to finish this book on mu Kindle. The action is non-stop and I couldn’t put it down. I would recommend the Patronus books to anyone who is a fan of the supernatural genre.

Awaken (The Patronus #1) by Sarah M. Ross - Kindle Edition
Avenge (The Patronus #2) by Sarah M. Ross - Kindle Edition

Friday, March 1, 2013

"We are what we repeatedly do -

Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~ Aristotle.

I sat down at my computer tonight and played around on Facebook for a bit. I remembered I had several ideas for a blog throughout the day, but never actually started one. I have a headache and couldn’t come up with anything original, but I opened a Word doc and started typing anyway.

It is better to do something than nothing. I never want to be paralyzed by the idea of perfection. Picture a painter sitting in front of a canvas with a brush in hand all day long, never putting a drop of paint on it, because he fears the first stroke will not be perfect and so the entire painting will be worthless. I joined a writers networking group on LinkedIn back in November when I was doing NaNoWriMo. I get daily updates on what’s popular on their message boards. Someone posted the topic, “Step 1 is taken, I have made up my mind to write a book. What do you suggest as Step 2?” When I read this I thought, that the first step isn’t making up your mind to write a book. It’s writing the book. Steps 2-5 are editing the book. It’s not just thinking about doing it, it’s the doing it. A step is an action. It is a thing you do.

I have had this experience with writing. A brand new journal or notebook is intimidating. What if I write something silly or foolish, that I will be embarrassed to read later? I’ve had that happen too. “How did I ever think that, I can’t believe I was so foolish?” But I try not to feel that way, and forgive my past self, because what I captured there was honestly how I felt and thought at the time. And I can learn something about myself by going back and re-reading it. So it still has value and meaning.

So let's paint. Write. Dance. Sing. We should never be afraid to express ourselves because it is through self-expression that we learn who we are. We are what we do, not what we think about doing. I'm a writer. I am not a writer because I say I am, but because I write.