.: Antje Duvekot is one of my favorite musicians. I love her writing, her voice, her songs. Here’s a new song on which she is currently working, called Gypsy, which Antje describes as a rough draft. Listen and love it.
.: I’ve been working with Christal Szebel, Holistic Nutritionist Extraordinaire, since last fall. She has been an inspiration, guiding me along as she creates a new eating plan for me, in an effort to lose weight, get healthier and manage high blood sugar and high blood pressure. She maintains a great recipe blog, Nutritionist in the Kitch.
One of her delicious meatless recipes is vegetarian chili. I’ve made it a few times and it’s delicious. Check out the recipe here and give it a try!
I had a very moving experience involving children on Wednesday, 19 December 2012. At 12:30 hrs, I went to Sarah’s school to help her with her Christmas concert the next day. Sarah is an elementary school teacher, and is also the music teacher in her school, which covers K-6. Some weeks ago she asked if I would learn a Coco Love Alcorn song, “Joyful“, teach her how to play it, and then she would teach the kids how to sing it. For the concert, I would play guitar on that song. I arrived at the school, and immediately realized I’d left my guitar at home. Well, duh. Sarah met me and told me she had her’s there, so I could use it. At least I had my amp and cables.
We went to the gym and I set up my gear, Sarah and I ran through Joyful, as well as a couple of her originals, because she had said we might play 1-3 of her original tunes for the children as well. Everything was ready and at about 13:00 the kids started filling up the gym with their various teachers. I found myself very conscious of their presence, not in the least of which was because of the recent Sandy Hook tragedy. I felt so privileged to be there amongst them. While they were getting seated, I started to play Jingle Bells quietly, and the K kids, sitting close to me, started smiling and singing along. By the time everyone was seated, the entire school was singing Jingle Bells. A little girl in the K class smiled and made me the heart symbol with her hands so I did it back to her, and she and the other kids sitting with her were beaming!
Sarah explained that the kids were there so that they could see a preview of the concert and see what the other grades would be doing during the concert, since when the concert was being held (twice that day), they wouldn’t be able to watch. We sat through each Grade doing their songs and dances and routines, all of them wonderful, silly, and yes, joyful. When it was time for me to join in, she introduced me (they all know that she and I play music together), and the kids all yelled, “HI RANDY!” I couldn’t stop smiling.
To organize them for the song, Sarah and their teachers lined them all up in a row against the left, right and back walls, with the smallest ones up front, below the stage. (This is how they would sing the song during the concert, with the parents sitting in the chairs watching). I started playing, while also basically helping Sarah, as she had to conduct them facing four directions at once, and the kids at the front had an extra line to sing at the end of the song. I played, the kids sang, and it was great fun, with me singing standing near the centre of the gym (at Sarah’s request), playing while also singing along so the kids could see me doing so and follow along more easily.
When this was finished, we were going to play a song or two of Sarah’s. The kids were excited, and Sarah told them they could all get up and dance. The K kids were smiling at me and I said, “Hey, are you guys ready to dance?”, and they said, “Yah”, so I said in a louder voice, “I SAID, ARE YOU READY TO DANCE?”, and they screamed, “YEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”
I started the song, but Sarah had no mic, so they couldn’t hear her, just me playing. So there I was, pounding out Sarah’s great song, “Gone for Good”, and an entire elementary school dancing up a storm on the gymnasium floor and having a blast. It was so much fun.
No one needs to be reminded of how special and important children are. But seldom do we get to go into a school and experience what teachers do for them, and what an absolute gift each child is in our lives, and how amazing each teacher is. The concerts held the following day were a great success, and I loved helpng Sarah and her kids with both of them. But I also wanted to share with you what an amazing, special experience today was for me. Thanks, Sarah, for asking me to help! 🙂
This time around, I’ll keep it short and sweet. Today is my 59th birthday. I was born at 01:05 in Winnipeg on 28 June 1953. I don’t necessarily like getting older, but as my Mother noted some years ago when I complained about a birthday, and I paraphrase: “Think about those who never made it to the birthday that you’re celebrating today.” Good point, Mom, and thanks for the reminder.
One thing on my mind today is that this is the last year of my 6th decade. I’m still single, still think mostly like a kid, and probably have the maturity level of a 30 year-old. I still wear t-shirts that celebrate the bands I like: Buffalo Tom, Bob Mould, Steely Dan. Hey, grow up, already! Well, maybe not.
Many things for which I am grateful: my health, my extended family, my friends and colleagues, the great career I’ve had and the opportunities it has given me to meet so many wonderful people and travel all over the USA and to India, the good fortune to have lived in Canada my entire life and in two great Canadian cities, Winnipeg, and since 1978, Edmonton. I’m grateful for my ability to make music with a guitar, and for the many fantastic musicians with whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working over 40+ years, many of whom I count as friends.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life right up to this very second.
.: On Tuesday of this week, 28 February 2012, laser stapedotomy surgery was performed on my right ear. This is a procedure in which a CO2 laser is used to cut into the stapes bone in the middle ear, so that a prosthetic piston made of composite material can be embedded within to improve hearing. I’m spending the week at home, recovering from the operation. Essentially I am simply resting, and dealing with lingering pain near my right ear following the surgery. I have a Medtronic Ear Implant, a “Fisch Fluorplastic and Platinum Piston,” inserted into my stapes bone. I do not yet know if I will set off airport security alarms, but I have a card I can carry with me that I would need to provide to any MRI facility at which I might appear.
My hearing in my right ear has been diminished since at least the mid-80s. For years I’ve been using a hearing aid and thought that would be the status quo for the rest of my life. However, two years ago, my brother called to tell me he had had the operation himself. I wasn’t aware at the time that he had a similar condition. I decided to call my otolaryngologist, only to discover that he had retired. I consulted with my audiologist, who recommended another otolaryngologist. I met with him, and he concluded that I was eligible for the surgery. When I met with the surgeon in the fall of 2010, my understanding was that it would be a stapedectomy, where the stapes bone is completely removed. I was put on a waiting list for 18 months, and when I went to the pre-op clinic a few days before the operation, I was told I would have a stapedotomy instead.
My friend, Margaret, and I arrived at the Royal Alex hospital in Edmonton at 06:00 on 28 Feb, and I was prepped and wheeled into the operating room at 08:05. I was given a neuroleptic anesthetic, which kept me awake during the surgery. I remember my head being covered in small sheets, and could detect a very bright light over my right ear. My head was turned to the left while I lay on the table. Eventually I could hear various noises – whirring, clicking, a vacuum-like sound, etc. At one point, the surgeon did speak to me and I responded.
Soon it was over and I was moved into the recovery area. My brother had told me that he was quite nauseous and a bit dizzy after his surgery. However, while laying on the gurney, I could tell that I had neither symptom. The surgeon did drop by briefly to tell me everything went well, and that the stapes bone was somewhat misshapen or out of alignment. (I can’t remember his exact words.) At noon, Margaret came back to get me, and drove me home. I was amazed that all of this could take place in 6 hours.
My ear remains plugged with some kind of packing, and I am constantly changing cotton balls in the ear. I cannot get water into it, so when I shower, I need to pack the ear with a cotton ball with Vaseline on the end of it, and keep my hair dry. I can tell that at least some hearing is working, but I really can’t hear anything until the packing is removed next Wednesday. Afterward, my hearing will be assessed again. Hopefully it will be better, and continue to improve.