This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

The Challenge of 2019 was the 10th! Since this was kind of a milestone year for A to Z my theme was a retrospective of sorts, looking at my 10 years as a blogger as well as ruminations about my life as it is and as I hope it yet can be. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me for this part of my journey...

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Flowing with the Current ( #BOTB Results )



It's usually easier to float with the current than to fight one's way upstream.  Though when things get a bit rough you've got to watch out for those rocks in the river...


Winter visit  to The Sinks on Little River

Flowing with the Current

         When I drive up to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park toward the Townsend Tennessee entrance in the summertime, I will invariably see tubers and rafters floating down the Little River.  A number of tube rental businesses will be found on this stretch of highway leading to the park.  For many, the float experience is a highlight of a summer vacation.

        Drifting downstream is much the way most of us go through life.  We are limited as to our destination as time only goes in one direction for us.  If we try to fight the currents we eventually wear ourselves out into that futile state of resignation or acceptance.  At some point it's time to turn in our rented tubes and get out of the river.

          Years ago--nearly fifty in fact!--my friend Vernon and I floated the Little River, putting in at the old mill dam in Walland which is a few miles downriver from the place where the tube floaters end their river trip.  It was a lazy drift of several miles down the the town of Rockford.  We'd brought lunch since the trip took a number of hours.

         There's a reason the river is called Little River.  Yet there is power in even small things.  We sometimes seem to get swept away by the smallest of influences.  Later we might look back and wonder why we were so impressed by whatever it was that carried us along in its flow.  Mountains from molehills.  Mississippi Rivers from Little Rivers.

         Vernon used to talk about taking a canoe trip from the Little River to the Mississippi River. He had it all mapped out and had done the research.  Along the way he would have to pass through a system of dams and locks.  But he was sure that it could be done and I was convinced.

         He never actually embarked on that great adventure and instead continued to work in the same factory where he ended up retiring after 48 years of faithful employment.  I asked him why he didn't keep working for another couple of years so that he could say that he'd worked at the same place for fifty years.  He just said that it was time to quit.  He was just flowing with the current which is pretty much how I guess my own life has gone.  Not in the same exact way though.  We were floating down different rivers.

         Thinking back on our float trip down Little River I don't remember much other than the peacefulness of being in that quiet small river setting on a hot summer day.  Oh, and the cows.  There were cows at the edge of the riverbank.  Their mouths chewing cuds of disinterest as they watched us float by.

         

Battle of the Bands Results


     
         My latest Battle of the Bands was a tough choice for me.  On one hand I had Van Morrison with "Queen of the Slipstream" from one of my favorite albums by this artist.  This song secures a solid place in my musical memories bringing back sweet memories whenever I hear it.  The song is somewhere in my list of favorites.

        However, the crystalline clarity of the Thompson song is striking to me.  Some of the voters also mentioned the percussion and precise guitar work of "I Ride in Your Slipstream".  This song reminds me of another favorite artist of mine--Bruce Cockburn.

        This is a very close choice for me, but in the end I'm going to opt for the Richard Thompson song given the choice between the two.  And that gives us a squeaker that might have been a tie if not for a final out of the blue vote from "Homely Design Studios".   Anybody know who this is?

        *Flash!!** :  A late vote came in from Susan Kane for Van and now it looks like it is a tie!


Final Vote Tally

Van Morrison                 9 votes

Richard Thompson       9 votes


Next Battle of the Bands on Saturday June 1st

          Since this date is over a week away I might just post something else between then and now.  Then again, I might not.   Since it's a holiday in the U.S. it might not matter.  Whatever the case, be here for whatever happens whenever it happens.

       
           Do you ever go river floating or rafting?   Is your greatest tendency to just go with the flow or to fight against the current?   What is the longest amount of time you've ever stayed in the same workplace (or worked for the same employer)? 









Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Slipstream Songs (#BOTB)


          If we can achieve the momentum to attain our dreams by being pulled along in the slipstream of another's success, is that a bad thing?   None of us accomplishes anything without some help from others...




#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge SURVIVOR badge


Another Wave of Motivation

         Another Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is now wrapped and reflected upon as all that remains is to be pulled into the slipstream of hundreds of motivated bloggers who plowed through the month with whatever they could muster.  I made it with them--as I should.  And as has been the case in every Challenge aftermath, I am riding a wave of motivation in reaching my own goals.

         As always the wave will dissipate in the coming days--I have felt it already in a slowing of the energy current around me, within me.  There is still the A to Z Road Trip (sign up opens May 20th) and the lure of the open road always catches my attention.  Of course, I have my real road trip to look forward to in summer.

         The open road is calling.  Riding in the slipstream provides an illusion of relaxation--no need to expend energy to keep moving forward.  The slipstream in the wake of a semi-truck can be dangerous.  The slipstream in which I wish to ride is a metaphorical one.  And I can't depend on riding the slipstream forever. 

          But I can have a "slipstream" Battle of the Bands post...



Battle of the Bands


Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.



Van Morrison  "Queen of the Slipstream"  (1987)

          I didn't start following Van Morrison's music until I heard his Poetic Champions Compose album in 1988.   His name first came to my attention back in 1965 when his group Them released the song "Gloria".   A few years later I was captivated by his solo release of "Brown-Eyed Girl" and though many of my friends who played in bands covered "Moon Dance" and "Tupelo Honey," I never got overly enthused about Morrison--until 1988.  One of my favorite songs from the PCC album is this one...






Richard Thompson  "I Ride in your Slipstream"  (1994)

        A contemporary of Van Morrison, Richard Thompson came onto the music scene in the respected folk-rock band Fairport Convention.  I'd long been interested in knowing more about Thompson's music since I had read so much about it over the years, yet I didn't hear any of his albums until I bought one of them in the 80's.  He's a great guitarist and he writes some excellent songs.  Here's his "slipstream" song...

     






Time to Vote!

     Two great artists with two great songs!  Decisions, decisions.  I like both of them, but I'm going to pick one as a favorite.  What about you?   Have some fun with us.  What's your favorite between these two choices?   You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

         Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.




Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced Wednesday May 22nd

        That post will be likely my next post unless I feel an overpowering urge to put something up before that time.  No need to announce the A to Z Road Trip on the 20th since I already did it in this post.  I'll just be riding in this slipstream for now.

            Did you ever feel caught up in the slipstream of another person or some movement or event?  How long does the motivation of your completing a major accomplishment take to wear off?   What one thing would you like to accomplish in your life that would give you an ultimate sense of reward?









Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Résultats de Combat ( #BOTB Results )


I took two years of college French, which included reading books in that language and countless hours in the language lab reciting in French, and now I can say that my aunt's pen is on the table...



Aerial view of the Eiffel Tower and the rest of Paris
Paris France (Viking River Cruises)


Eric Satie: The Velvet Gentleman

      For the past several years it's been nice to see several A to Z participants blogging about France and French culture.  Getting educated is a nice thing about reading blogs.  The posts about France are interesting to me since I have never been there nor is it likely that I ever will be.  But I can dream can't I?

       These days, eating at a good French restaurant is a bit out of my league, but I still enjoy French Fries on a regular basis, order French onion soup if it's on the menu of a place where I'm eating, and occasionally purchase the French roast coffee if it's darkest boldest one on sale. 

       More than anything though I sometimes like to immerse myself in French classical music.  Eric Satie became a favorite composer of mine around 1970 or so after seeing a documentary about "The Velvet Gentleman" as Satie has been called.   In the documentary they played Satie's "Trois Gymnopédies"" which I recognized from the version that appeared on Blood,Sweat and Tears' second album.   

       From that point I started researching Satie and buying any music I could find by him.  Compared to other composers, Satie has a rather limited catalog of music--mostly solo piano music.  Still, as I became more familiar with his music, he became among my favorite "classical" composers though more legitimately he comes from the movements of Impressionism and Surrealism.  No surprise that I liked his music--it's often quirky and sometimes hauntingly beautiful.

        So that's one more point about my personal tastes and that's what Battle of the Bands is mostly about.   That's why my previous Battle was chosen.  Three versions of music by Eric Satie is like a buffet of desserts for me...

Battle of the Bands Results

        This Battle was another exciting horse race (if that's an okay analogy after the Kentucky Derby fiasco).  Apparently I offered a fair balance of something for everyone not unlike the mash-up Battle I offered in the middle of April.

        Any one of these Battle selections is a winner for me as it was a somewhat difficult choice for me to make.  But like those who voted, I settled for my absolute favorite--mine being the jazzy version by the Jacques Loussier Trio.  A few years ago this album stayed on replay in my office for many weeks.  It's great music to write by at night.

           As you will see in the results, this is almost an ideal Battle due to the closeness of the voting.  Doesn't get much better than this...

Final Vote Tally

Chicha Libre                                8

Quartet Cinderella                       6

Jacques Loussier Trio                 6




Next Battle on Wednesday May 15th

         I'm going to stay quiet here until that date, but I'll keep trying to visit around to keep in touch with what you all are up to.  And if you're being quiet like me, I hope we're all productive in other realms.  Stay happy!

         What is your favorite thing about France?   Have you ever visited France?   Are you familiar with the music of Eric Satie?







Monday, May 6, 2019

10th Annual A to Z Reflections ( #AtoZChallenge )




   As another Blogging from A to Z April Challenge has passed, it is time for another Reflections post.  After having done nine of these already I'm not sure that I have much to say that hasn't been said on this blog many times before.  I will say that it was a very good year from my perspective.



#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

          In many ways I've become a lazy blogger.  More precisely I've lost a blogging fervor that drove me in my first years of blogging.  In a sense this is good in that I've created more balance in my life.  For a while, blogging became my obsession. Now I've found some other obsessions that put demands on my time. It's all a good thing so I'm fine with all of this.




           The bottom line though for the sake of this Reflections post is that I survived another Challenge and I think I did a credible job of doing so.  My thanks to everyone who commented and especially those who kept coming back again and again.

           And my utmost thanks to the incredible job done by our Team Captain J Lenni Dorner and all of the A to Z Team:
J Lenni Dorner (captain) @ Blog of Author J Lenni Dorner
Jayden R Vincente @ J R Vincente Erotica Writer
John Holton @ The Sound of One Hand Typing
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
Jeremy Hawkins (graphics) @ Hollywood Nuts

Show the World You Survived!


Arlee Bird with the 2019 A to Z T-shirt--to get yours click link below

Grab your A to Z gear, and other cool goodies from our graphics guy, here: NeatoShop.com/artist/Jeremy-Hawkins 





Watch the A to Z Blog for upcoming information about the next A to Z Road Trip!














Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Gnossienne No. 1 ( #BOTB ) ( #IWSG )


           Language has power. Words have meaning.  Then there are some words we just make up and they might mean anything.  Words like "Gnossienne"...


The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog


The co-hosts for the May 1st posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key,Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin! 


The Power of Language
         
          From the earliest times of my life that I began to grasp language, I understood that words have power.  My needs and wants were met through a persuasive use of words. Then, there were the stories I heard my mother and other adults tell.  They would draw me in to leave some kind of impression.  Once I learned to write there was no stopping me other than those expanses when I mostly stop myself from writing.  Persisting with writing has often been a struggle for me, but if I can get going with it then it feels better.

         Coming off another year of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge I'm feeling a boost in my spirit in regard to writing as well as many other things.  This year I went into the month with not much advance preparation as far as posts written ahead of time, so I went through winging it.  There was a lot of stream of consciousness writing which is an exercise that I enjoy.

       Was what I wrote good?  I liked it because I wrote it.  

       I'll write more about my A to Z April in the Reflections post that I'll do next Monday.

        Now how about some relaxing music.  Hope you'll stay and listen...

Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Gnossienne No. 1 by Eric Satie

          Since April was pretty frantic, I'm going to keep it slow and simple.  I'll just say that Satie is a favorite Impressionistic composer of mine and I love this song series.  Here is the first melody of the series as interpreted by artists from Brooklyn, Serbia, and France.  Still keeping in the international theme that I've been following in the past several posts.


Chicha Libre   "Gnossienne No. 1"  (2008)





Quartet Cinderella   "Gnossienne No 1"  (2014)




Jacques Loussier Trio   (Gnossienne No. 1)  (1998)






Time to Vote!

     Hope you can discern the differences between these--they sound very different to me  I like all of them, but I'm going to pick one as a favorite.  What about you?   Have some fun with us.  What's your favorite between these two choices?   You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

         Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.




Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced on Wednesday May 8

        I'll have an A to Z Reflections post next Monday--that's where a lot of the A to Z participants share their experiences for the 2019 event and I guess I'll do that as well.  Then on Wednesday I'll be back with the ceremonial unveiling of the winner of this current Battle. See you then--or then--or both. 

          Do you have a difficult time motivating yourself to write, then when you start, the words pour out?   Do you feel a swelling of motivation after completing something that took a lot of effort?  Or would you prefer to take a vacation after completing some project?