Keagan the Tenor

Keagan used to sing with me whenever I got to an Eb (the one a tenth above middle C). It has been a long time since I could reach that note. But today, Sharon came over for coffee and started playing a hymn my father loved, In the Garden . I joined in singing, and sang as high as I could (nowhere near Eb.) At the upper range, Keagan joined in. Later, after Sharon left, I tried it again with the recorder on. Here is the result. First you hear me trying to get to the top of my range, then Keagan joins in. I love his singing.

But Thinking Makes it So …

As Hamlet says There is nothing either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.. Dec 16 I am thinking about my harrowing year. About a year ago I found a tumour in my leg. I received radiation therapy for it in February, followed by surgery in April. Just as I was starting to walk comfortably and feel human again in August, we went to camp and I had an abdominal attack that turned into an emergency appendectomy. I had to be tractored out of camp to the wharf, poured into the boat, loaded into the car, and driven to the emerg department about an hour and a half away. I recovered from that enough to attend a family destination wedding in the Dominican in December. Half of this time we spent visiting my daughter in the Bavaro Hospital, who got salmonella poisoning in the resort. So it has been a hospital year, and not an easy one, though all these disasters were survived, so I guess I have to say it has been a good year, in its own odd way. Today I sit in a warm dining room watching the squirrels raid my bird feeders, while I am alternately working on websites and knitting. Last January, I did not think I would still be alive to any of these things.

So a good year. IMG_20151216_150119969

I wish you all a good year to come.

Dream Spirit

Last night was the first night since my MRI results came back that I did not have any dreams that disturbed me, or indeed, any that I recall. My worst dream ever happened 10 days ago, and since then, the dream intensity has reduced – no more burying people alive, but lots of mine shafts or underground tunnels with unknown locations of entrances and exits. Three nights ago I had a nightmare that woke me, but then I went back to sleep and I actually woke up in the morning giggling from a dream, so finally my nightmares had started to turn into dreams. Two nights ago I dreamed of a knitting pattern I have been trying to design. And last night – no nightmares or dreams of any sort. So good progress there. Whatever my dream spirit was trying to work out, it has worked out to its satisfaction for the time being.
Odd how that happens. My worst dream ever was 10 days ago, and immediately things began to improve, like when your illnesses break with a night of terrible fever. Maybe the child in that dream – the one who had to be sacrificed for me to live – was a part of my psyche my dream spirit had to let go of so I could get on with my recovery. At any rate, my mood has been lighter and more positive daily since that awful night and the following anxiety-filled day, so something has changed for the better. I hope I can hang on to that optimism and the energy that goes with it. Radiology almost over – next step , surgery.

But I have bad dreams…

I am journaling this because my oncologist suggested it  might help.  I don’t like taking drugs ( unless they are recreational ) so I don’t want to try the alternatives he and I discussed.

It is now 2015 and this year, so far, is no better than last year.  In January I was diagnosed with a malignant pleomorphic sarcoma – aka cancerous tumour in the leg. It is fast-growing, but still small. It is being treated with radiation therapy with surgery to follow and the long-term prognosis is good. That is what the left side of my brain has understood of the process.

The right side of my brain is harder to convince of anything. It is distrustful of authority, of change, of technology. It understands things differently.  My right side has been giving me dreams. Some nights, one. Other nights, several. They are all about death, and some are also about being buried alive. Last night I had the worst dream I have ever had, and I can’t shake it. It has made me teary and anxious all day long.  When I tried to explain it to my doctor, I could not. The adult in me understands what is happening and is fine. But the baby in me won’t stop crying…….

In the dream I had cancer and I had a doctor who knew a probable cure. I did not live in a wealthy western culture, but in a primitive, shamanic one. So my doctor ( ie shaman) had a cure that I didn’t really understand. It required a child to help out. I agreed to the cure therapy.

The cure worked rather like that old Mouse Trap game. First a ball rolls down a channel and that triggers a lever, etc, until at last a mouse is caught in a cage.

But in this dream, in the last step, my cancer was removed, and the child was thrown into a pit. The pit was like a narrow steel shaft deep in the ground.  In the “real” world, I live in a mining town so it is not hard to imagine where my subconscious came up with that image. I did not know, in the dream, that this was how the child was to be used in the cure, and I was horrified when I saw the child thrown into the pit.  I screamed at the shaman to pull the child out, that it didn’t matter what happened to me, I was an old lady, but the child should not be hurt.

On the shaman’s face was the same look I see on my doctor’s face when I ask him questions about my prognosis – about whether I will lose much muscle in my leg, about how soon I will walk again, etc. That look that says that you are too stupid to know what you are asking , and you have no idea what you are in for, and  what you are asking is probably impossible. He and his helpers said they would try to get the child out of the shaft, but I knew they would not be able to and the child would die all alone down there of heat or water loss, or starvation, or go mad. And I would be cured.

Of course, the dream was so horrifying, I woke up.  And yes, I know  it was just a dream.  But all day long, as I go through the treatment in my Canadian health care system, I keep wondering, is there a child being hurt somewhere in the world, in order to cure me, to keep me alive past my best before date?

Here’s That Rainy Day

Time for Coffee
Time for Coffee
Here’s That Rainy Day is one of my all time favourite jazz songs. Not so much for the lyrics, but for the deliciously luscious chord progressions. The sheet music version I have (in a Jazz Fake Book) is all 9ths and 7ths, majors and minors, liberally sprinkled with ♭5ths and ♭9ths, and an occasional augmented this or that. There is only one major chord in the whole song. I have been practicing it for weeks on the guitar to get it to sound lyrical instead of like an death rattle. Today was the first day I could play all the chords clearly at a tempo approaching an even, normal song tempo. So it was time for a real celebration, which for me usually means coffee and cookies. John even picked me some flowers (from our garden) to commemorate the day. (Which cup do you think is mine and which is John’s – the melmac or the Wedgewood?)

I have been working on a whole slew of jazz songs, and for me this week has brought a few modest advances. In music, some people notice improvements every day as they practice. But I have always been a fits and starts sort of learner. I do my technical practice day after day, not noticing any differences, and then suddenly one day I will find that a song that was impossible is now merely hard, and one that was hard is comfortable, and I can focus on expression, tempo, quality of sound, etc instead of merely being just able to try to make a chord sound. So this week, seemingly suddenly, several songs started to sound like they are in my repertoire, and several others like they might be sometime this year. Very exciting and worthy of celebration.