Singing and eating

March 17, 2009

On Sunday night we decided to have a party for Matias and Jenny. But Julia died and things changed; so we invited friends of Julia — her husband, Tiko, his parents, and other close friends of theirs — to our Matias-and-Jenny party.

One of the great things I discovered at the evening party/wake for my brother, is that group-singing is tremendously therapeutic for a mourning family. Bourlands are of Scotch-Irish stock, so perhaps singing and wine have gone together for a long time. But on Sunday, Tiko’s dad, Terry, and I played music for nearly 3 hours. I played my Pedullah fretless bass along with Terry’s ever-tasteful guitar playing. I whipped out my banjo and mandolin as well.

On songs I didn’t know, I shadowed songs Terry played. He thought this skill magical. I assured him that this can be taught. I held the mirror up to him and made him realize that he has the same skill — to be able to “play along” with almost anything: not necessarily processing that this chord is c diminished seven and that one is the four chord in first inversion, but you just “playing along.” You know the places chords will likely go in a particular style. It’s not magical, just as heart surgery is not magical. One learns the technique and uses it.

We played Gilian Welch (sp?), mountain music, folk music, and a long stretch of Beatles music. It was such fun to have a guitarist who can keep us with all those changes. (No, I’m not going to quit my job and form a rock band, and have a midlife exuberance.) We sang and sang, and for me — and I assume, Terry — we were singing for Tiko. “…don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better.”

I started singing Lennon’s “Julia” twice, and choked up. Finally I sang it. Tiko looks kinda like John; Julia looked kinda like Yoko; the resonance hurt.

Last night, to celebrate Josie’s 65th birthday with Matias and Jenny, we went to the fabulous new BAZAARE in Beverly Hills, and all opted for the $95 Jose’s choice tasting menu — which promised to be 12 or 14 tapas-style tastings. By the end of the evening, we were begging them to stop: we thought we’d all burst, or pass out. He warned us, but we didn’t believe him that this would fill us up, and then some, with 30 courses. A once-a-year must.

Nine-month-old Katy, who stayed with us for the past five days, and I became great friends — ok, Jenny sez Katy has a crush on me. During our visit, it appears we were good influences on her: she began four-legged crawling, as opposed the the drag-the-hip tri-crawl technique, that she has already perfected, she became more pronounced in her waving (doncha know Mary), and her clapping developed real enthusiasm (you Go girl!). Her momma, Jenny, sings to her all the time — including “K-K-K-Katy”- an old Tin-Pan Alley ‘stutter’ song from the twenties, and the lonely goat song from Sound of Music: she lifts Katy, and Katy does a puppet-like dance to our delight. One can but whistle this song to her, and she breaks into uncontrollable dancing.

Meanwhile back at school, I have weird conversations with my colleagues, the gist of some being: if your area is cut, such and such could happen. It IS responsible to have these conversations, but constantly fretting over the worse scenario doesn’t do anyone any good. We in the UC system, are doing business as usual until instructed to do otherwise. i stay optimistic that our administration will spare us the ax.

Tomorrow, I revisit FLASHPOINT/STONEWALL and finish the re-orchestration by the end of the month. Next week I retire to Palm Springs to finish it, and recharge my batteries; take in the mountain vitamins; slow down; breathe; swim and hot tub; take naps; read; work,work, work; a nice dinner every night, and one movie a day. Sounds like a perfect recharge. I won’t be joining the topless college convertible-down-Main-Street crowd, but will be goin’ it alone. Tiko will be having sabbatical time at our house.

Tonight, Mitchell and I barbequed vegies and sausage and watched a BluRay disk of BARAKA: a wonderful film to ring out the academic term.

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