Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Apparently They Need More Television

My sons just wrote their letters to Santa.

My seven year old asked for an "elf friend" (Him: I bet they're all sweaty from working hard and they could come here and not work. Me: Where would they sleep? Him: In my sleeping bag.).

My five-and-a-half year old asked for "a talking dog that wears a hat." (Dad: Who's going to pick up the poop? Him: It won't poop.)

Apparently I'll spend our breakfast time together trying to explain to them that Santa doesn't give "live" gifts. If that doesn't work, well, then . . . I'm going to plot them in front of Nick so they'll beg me for something I can drive somewhere and buy. That's my plan. Yeah, that's it--that's my plan.

I miss the good old television-induced materialism that marked my youth.

Merlin, anyone?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confessions of a Candy-Eating Pregnant Woman

1. I've eaten easily 40 - 50 halloween-sized candybars in the last 3 weeks. (I actually said, "NO! DON'T GIVE AWAY THE TWIX!" to my son who was handing out the candy on Halloween night.)

2. I'm, um, pregnant--for real! The Hendrix family is adding baby number 3 this spring. A super joyous decision to end up with a bigger band within 10 years.

3. I think my baby might come out with a Taco Bell wrapper around its head also.

4. I'm missing my blogger friends.

Thinking of you all,


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Can I Embroider This On a Pillow?

We were getting ready for soccer. My husband really said this to our 7-yr old:

"Son, getting ahead in life means wearing underwear."

I feel as though the world should know our complex value system here at the Hendrix house.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Thank the Good Lord We Have a Roadie

Okay, we don't really pay her or anything, but she's really terrific and does stuff like takes pictures of us. Thought I'd put these photos up so you could all see me in action with Daddy Pete and the Big Bass Bandalone.

(At this gig, we were introduced as "Please welcome THE HENDRIXES: GINGER AND DADDY" I don't know . . . somehow it didn't quite translate . . .)

Anyway, here's proof that we do this together and have a good time:

Thanks, Sunshine--you're the very best Band Photographer and Coke-Getter and General Cheerleader ever! She even supplied these two kids to lead the songs . . .

Happy singing, everyone.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Soccer & A Gig

Today was the first real day of soccer--you know, the whole sit-in-the-sun-and-watch-your-kids-run-into-other-kids for two hours sort of day. Here's the proof of why it's worth it:

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

We also closed out the summer season with our last gig--we sang in downtown San Luis Obispo at the old Mission amphitheatre. Very fun. It's a place I used to go to as a kid, so a hoot in that way.

And now it's time to hunker down and work on this next CD. You'll hear from me occasionally, but if you wonder where I am, I'm writing and working out songs with Pete (who will be a true partner on this next CD).

Here's a little sneak preview of the working titles of what we're working on:

1. My Daddy Thinks I'm Great
2. But I Like You ("I don't like stale croissants, cold ocean water or pants that fit too tight; I don't like grape jelly, shitake mushrooms, red apples or mime . . . but I like you . . .)
3. We Know Where Everything Goes
4. Girl Next Door
5. Sniff

There you have it. I didn't want you to think we were just sitting around over here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First Day of School

Well, here they are: the Hendrix Boys on the first day of school. Kindergarten for Theo and First Grade for Will.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

What I've Done Instead of Writing Songs

Yeah--I know. I'm not posting this summer. See below for extended angst-ridden/child-rearing reasons why.

But here's the stuff I've been doing instead of writing songs. . .

CAMPING. We've taken two super fun trips. One to Lodgepole (in the Sequoias--gorgeous, super-big trees and lots of cheeky chipmunks):

And one to Yosemite. We headed for Bridalveil Creek campground up above the valley floor (where all the tourists are) and saw more big trees and squirrels the size of dogs (well, that was when we drove down to the valley floor) . . . We're shooting to squeeze two more camping trips into the picture before school starts up again. Good times. It will be especially fun when our new tent arrives tomorrow and we no longer have to safety-pin our tent shut.

And don't forget PRE-CAMPING (which is stuff like roaming thrift stores for plastic pancake flippers and Camp n Pack for a new axe) and POST-CAMPING (which is mostly just 45 loads of laundry).

SINGING IN A WEDDING. Man, I thought I practed a lot for shows. How about a wedding? You just don't want to be the wedding singer lady that everyone is going "Oh--wow--it's too bad they had to have a relative sing . . . " so I practiced my guts out. And it was worth it. A beautiful song and no one groaned.

SWIMMING LESSONS. Um, the boys, not me.

GENERAL SUMMERTIME HOOPLA. This category is for things like going to the library, driving to Target, swimming at the community pool, watching movies, playing video games, thrift shopping--you know . . . hoopla. The sort you drive around for. This sounds fun and sometimes looks like this:

. . . and other times looks like this:

So, while I thought I'd be writing songs, I've been doing this stuff instead. It's not what I expected, but it hasn't been half bad. I broke out the board shorts and bikini at the beginning of the summer and don't think I've really combed my hair since June.

Anyway, I hope your summer is bringing you the unexpected too. And if you want to sing, come and sing with us at our next two shows:

Thursday, August 23rd at the Cayucos Library (11 am) and Saturday, September 8th (2 pm) at the Mission Plaza in SLO-click here for the deets.

Friday, July 13, 2007

About summer and how cold it is.

Well, we played in Cayucos and then two shows in Paso Robles all for great kids and parents. And then we went camping.

Somehow that whole "summer" thing made me think that since I'm not teaching I'd be able to spit out scads of songs to share--I did, however, not seem to account for the whole "your kids are also not in school, Dear" factor. So we're having a fun summer together, but I'm really hurting for time to work. . .

And then there is the thing of wanting ENOUGH time to do REAL work. My chances to dive into my creative life seems to come in these strange 29 minute increments and I have this constant longing for something like 7 straight hours.

And, of course, it's about BALANCE. Which is an annoying thing to say since even Plato (or somebody old wearing a sheet) already said it. But I mean it in a "not too much sacrifice / not too much much sacrifice" sort of way Sometimes I feel as thought I'm not leaning toward as much as I'm leaning away--I am veering away from the inner deadness that comes when I don't point myself toward my creative life, and then I look over after a while and see that wild-eyed look my children get when I've been physically present but otherwise absent for too long and then I veer back away from the desk and throw myself over there. It's a little whiplashy.

And, I realized too, I've needed a PLACE to work. I was feel all agitate-y and crabbed out and finally my husband had the wherewithal to say something sweet like "Honey, um, what's wrong with you?" And after some flipping about, I realized that I don't have a spot in our house to deem WORKING SPACE and while I'd love for my house to be lovely, my sanity seems more crucial.

So I made one. And it's smack in the middle of my living room. And it's not super cute or anything, but it's a place. And I'm writing here to celebrate it. And even to say something more Streisand-like in the level of drama that I feel about it: I'm celebrating commitment and perseverance for my creative life.

I have been convinced for a good while now that the people who get to live out their creative lives--really live them--pull it off because they decide to. It's not really because they're popular or published or recorded or rich--it's because they decide to. Like those really cold people who are at the top of mountains and about to freeze themselves to sleep but decide to walk out instead.

And this desk in the middle of my living room is my walk out of the cold.

And there's more to say here--about going this creative life with kids; about doing even creative work FOR kids WITH kids--lots more thoughts. More later. My 29 minutes are up.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Never Actually Saw Enzo Eat Breakfast

I'm just saying--he probably DID eat breakfast, but we never actually saw it.

He DID, however, play some super nifty instruments--Pete just kept STARING while Enzo played the accordion because he had serious Accordion Envy and would love to play like that. The thing I loved about watching Enzo was that he works at the just-right pace of his little-kiddie crowd. He wasn't afraid to be quiet here and there and sing softly and pause a bit--and he had a room full of mesmerized pre-kids. It was a great sight. We were glad to have the chance to join in. Frances England will be joining him this Saturday. If you're in the SF locale, get yourself over there. Really.

And now Pete and I are both a regular couple of Dorothies--there's no place to play like HOME. We head 5 miles north to Cayucos on Saturday and that will be all fun. No worries. Just a big barn full of people who we mostly know and who mostly know our songs and are mostly still loving to sing them (a phenomenon that I never stop being grateful for).

We pulled out the recording junk last night and started fiddling with it all in the living room after the kids went to sleep. I think the first post will be a little lullaby-ish love song called "I Love You Every Day." If I've figured out anything from this music (ad)venture, it's that everything takes about 7 times as long as I want it to. But you just don't want to be the girl saying, "HUSH---MOMMY'S TRYING TO MAKE SOME KIDS MUSIC!!!!!"

So I'll put that song up as soon as I can manage it without being crabby about it. And then you'll all like it better--knowing that I was friendly and all.

I'm glad for summertime. It's the air and the park and the pool and the puzzles and the toys and the friends. All good times.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We get to eat breakfast with Enzo.

Hey--we're heading up to San Francisco next weekend--Saturday, June 23rd--for a nifty chance: we're special guests for BREAKFAST WITH ENZO, a terrific every-Saturday musical hoopla that he puts together for the lucky kids of California's best city.

If you're in the top half of California, come on over--Enzo offers two sets on Saturday mornings: 10 am & 11 am. It's all B.Y.O.B. (Bring your own breakfast). Details about the where and the how-to-get-there here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wait--I'm Not Finished Not Being Finished Being Inspired

I posted a week or so ago about my big Jonathon-Coulton-inspired dreams for putting up my songs as I record them at home so that we can all at least be singing in the car together (that's me and you--not the royal "we"). But getting my home studio together has been a bigger task than I guessed.

I've got: Garage Band; fancy usb-ported Pre Amp; mic; mic stand; pick-up-ready guitar. I'm set, right? Wrong. I didn't have that THINGY that connects the mic-holder to the mic stand.


So here's the big news: I went and got the Thingy from my buddy Ed at Central Coast music, so now there's real hope for getting these songs down.

That's my update. More to come. . . . some time after I find the disc with the driver software that I've misplaced somewhere . . .

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reading Cookbooks

In an effort to avoid writing--which, as a writer by trade, hobby and temperament, is my prerogative a good part of the time--I have been reading cookbooks lately. I'm also waiting on the set up of my little home studio and have had to do something to keep myself busy while I obsess over having to wait so long to work on recording my songs.

You can't imagine the meal I made last night: sweet chili-crusted pork tenderloin with homemade mango salsa. Come on. It was delicious.

If you're killing time or maybe just putting off doing what you're meant to do, take a look at Pam Anderson's (um, yes, unfortunate name for a cookbook author who's trying hard not to be imagind by readers in a bikini) How to Cook Without a Book and CookSmart. I'm telling you, they've been absolutely wonderful. They read like novels and take away the mystery of adding flame to meat (something I've always been stumped by.)

I'll let you know when we're back to frozen pizzas and more new songs.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm Not Finished Being Inspired

I'm not finished chewing on what I read last week in this NYT article about Jonathon Coulton. And then today I found this--Coulton's own play-by-play of his accidental (well, not really accidental--just not exactly perfectly planned out) rise to success. He figured out a way to dump his software job (always a good idea) and dive full on into songwriting. And playing. And troubadouring. (A very good life choice in my opinion.)

And I love his honesty that he didn’t have some Dr. Evilish Master Plan that deployed him right over to where he is now.

Here’s the part I’m still thinking about: he makes a terrific case for releasing music for free. And the reason that I'm still chewing on this and thinking about actually doing something about it is because I've been bothered by the idea of selling my own music for a long time. WAIT! I know what you're going to say. Yes, an artist has a right to sell what they make. It's real. It's worth something. And yes we assign dollar amounts to things in our culture to deem them legit. And (not at all a small detail)—how else am I going to fund my next project unless I sell some of these CDs I’ve got? I financed my first project with money from my dear mother-in-law. That money’s not around now for the next one, so I’ve got to make it back with sales if I want to do the next project—and I really want to do the next project. This is all legit. Selling the music, I mean, is legit.

Here's the rub, though: I couldn't have afforded to buy what I'm selling back when it would have been really nice to buy it.

And I don't know if it's more true that I wouldn't have afforded it than that I couldn't have afforded it, but either way, I wouldn't have forked over the 14 or 15 bucks to myself for my CD. Not because I wouldn't have wanted it--I really would have, if you must know--but because I didn't have any extra cash in those days—all that diaper-ish money was just flying out the door and I was working hard to make sure we had enough for groceries. (In fact, there were days I was standing hopefully at the Coinstar maching during the last week of the month.) Don't start playing violins or anything--my husband and I made a choice to one-income it for a while so I could be home with our guys. And it was a good choice for a while (though I was, at that time, the proud recipient of two facial ticks and a surly demeanor). And it meant that things were tight. Really tight. (I didn't make that thing up about the Coinstar.)

And so during those years, musically speaking, I was square in the spot to have only the kids music that other people gave to me--hence the onslaught of bad kid choirs and electric synthesizers that drove me to my own guitar to try to get myself and my children out of the music-less pickle that we were in.

And this might make me different from the general Alterndad-ish community of my Gen X-ish generation. Maybe everybody else has plenty of cash for music. Maybe our generation thinks of music as a “staple” category and not an “extra”—maybe nobody else hesitates to drop 10 bucks or 30 on music every month. But I notice that even now when the belt’s been loosened a bit, I’m still not Mrs. Got Cash or anything, and I still don’t have a lot of music money. And maybe, I’m thinking, I’m not alone in this way.

So what I'm saying here is that I'm thinking about sharing my new stuff this summer. I've got all my songs written for the next CD and these really terrific plans to record them in a shiny studio--but only God's Uncle Bob knows when I'll be able to pull off the right convergence of cash and back up bands and chutspah to really do it.

So I’m going to post the tracks that I make on my own souped-up Garage Band set up. Because wouldn't I have liked to be able to download songs that I could sing with my kids in the car--for free?

Yeah, I would have really liked that.

Come back and check soon for free songs. They’ll be really terrific homegrown versions of the stuff I’ll record in the Big Kid Studio some one of these days. And I’ll sell those when they’re ready—I really will—for the next project and maybe for fancy t-shirts or something.

For now, though, let’s sing in the car together this summer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Song Help

I'm an only child, so it doesn't cross my mind much to ask for help from friends, but I just read this article about Jonathon Coulton and his ten bazillion web friends, and it made me think about those of you who hang out with me here. We're having a nice time, aren't we? Yes.

I'm working on a song right now called "Out of Town Grandma"--I've got some stuff I really like, but would love some more quirky routines that any of you have going in your families (don't worry, I've already covered she-buys-them-a-ton-of-candy). Anybody want to give me some really good tiny little strange details about the routines of life with an out of town grandma? I'm open. Hit me.

Let's write a song.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Generation Stoic

Okay, I don't really actually know what they call this particular generation of whipper snappers, but I teach college--as in:

And I'm telling you they all walk around with ipods in their heads. This, of course, does not bother me a bit. I've started doing it myself. Here's the weird part: they have COMPLETELY straight faces: all of them. Not one of them is AIR BANDING. I mean--no Karaoke-light; no smidge-of-lips-saying-the-lyrics; no occasional power chord on the book bag. Nothing. Total serious faces.

Personally, I can barely keep myself together when I walk from the parking lot to my class, listening to Toto (yes, Toto). There I am in the Campus Market buying over-priced, over-cooked coffee straining like crazy to keep from busting out "99--woo-oooo" and all around me are people managing to pull that off quite nicely.

I am amazed (and a little creeped out). What will all this self-possession do to their generation? I think they're all going to grow up and have mental lapses at 60 just from the sheer pressure of all that self-control.

Maybe they're all listening to NPR. Do they not listen to Journey? Does no one know of Chaka Khan? Prince? Yes?

Tragedy. Pure generation-wide tragedy.

I think I may seriously consider re-aligning our culture's current perspective on airbanding in public. I'll get back to you on this. In the meantime, I'm feeling very thankful for my solid, 80's power-chord-loud-trap-set-with-the-occasional-sentimental-synthesizer roots.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Big Carny Money

Does anybody know of any Alfalfa-look-alike contests? I'm seriously thinking that maybe we can travel around with my son and make money at carnivals or something and eat funnel cake all the time. Then we could make friends with carnies. And we could meet somebody named Tough Harvey or something and he could tell us stories of growing up setting up carnival tents. And we could get good tips. And eat more funnel cake.

C'mon. Tell me you know somebody who looks more like Alfalfa than my son Will.

Didn't think so.

It's always good to have several dreams available for the family in case one of them doesn't work out.

I'm thinking this might be a solid PLAN B for us.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'm still thinking about song writing

I've been posting lately about what makes a good kid song--really because I'm working on the songs for my next project, and I'm (honestly) trying to figure it out.

I've hit some how-to-make-em-interesting points so far (hand-clapping, guitar strum, back-up singers . . .)

But now I'm asking the BIG question: WHAT MAKES A GOOD LYRIC? Click on over to The Lovely Mrs. Davis Tell You What to Think to check out my guest blog about this. . .

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cool Things I Noticed in a Song #3

Some people, I hear, always dreamed of being back-up singers. The Supremes for Diana. The Pips for Gladys. You know, that sort of thing. I won't lie. I think I only ever dreamed of being Diana and Gladys--but there's a special spot for really good back up.

And that's today's amazing insight into writing really terific kids' music. (And remember, I think about this sort of thing because I want to figure out how to do it really, life-changingly well).

#1 Best Use of a Righteous Back Up Band

"John the Rabbit": Elizabeth Mitchell, YOU ARE MY FLOWER

I love this song for the regular-guy-ness of it. Maybe she should have been Elizabeth Mitchell & the Yes Ma'ams . . . well, I mean, for that song at least. And try to imagine the song where Elizabeth just says those words for herself. Right. TOTALLY not the same.

A well-placed back-up can make a good song really terrific.

I think I'm going to put an ad up on Craigslist so that I can have a righteous back up band for my next CD:

WANTED: Regular people to say context-appropriate words over and over in order to aid impact of children's song. Call 1-800-BEMYRIGHTEOUSBACKUPBAND

I'll let you know if anyboy calls.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Cool Things I Noticed in a Song #2

Part 2 in an infinite series about the minutae of song writing for kids. Click here for Part 1. Or, um, scroll down to the post before this one.

Okay, so today's totally insightful insight about songwriting is all about chord strum. And I'm not going to leave you hanging with a bunch of cluttering personal sharing before I just get right to it and tell you this:

#1 Best use of dramatic chord strum:

(This is so easy to pick. I didn't even, like, think about it--I just KNEW the answer. . . .)

"I Want a Dog": Lunch Money, SILLY REFLECTIONS

Okay, now to the cluttering person sharing.

I chose this song because of its ability to make me wish I were playing it. Don't you just want to set up the microphone stand you have lying around your house and belt that soulful truth-telling line:

I want a [DRAMATIC, SOULFUL CHORD STRUM WITH A HOLD] Daahhhhh-ah-ah-ah-ah-g . . .

Not kidding. I want to sing that song everytime I hear it. Love it.

Plus, I think there ought to be more songs that address the reality of the hamster. But more on the insight of the lyrics later . . .

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cool Things I Noticed in a Song

The (always) Lovely Mrs. Davis has posted a fabulously-specific and believable list of kids albums for parents who want to break into listenable kids music (and break out of the primary colored t-shirt thing). I've broken into and out of it all myself, but I'm still going to buy some of the albums she lists.

And she's inspired me. See, I've been listening to kids music in a strangely specific way myself these days. Since a good handful of my earliest songs can all be traced back to single melody that was the theme song for a show starring someone named Uncle Jed, I've been paying really close attention to how other artists add interest to their songs. Really cool lyrics, I get. That to me is the real fun of song writing. But how do you make your guitar and the rest of the stuff sitting around your house turn the song into something even better than just the lyrics could make it. (A real stretch for me as a poet by training.)

So, here's the first in my list of Cool Things I Noticed in A Song.

#1 Best use of non-irritating hand clapping:

"Oh Well": Scribblemonster, CHOCOLATE MILK

album cover

Click for a listen to see what I mean. There just aren't that many hand-clapping songs out there that actually make me want to clap. I always practically wreck my car when this song comes on.

Stay tuned for more scintillating insights on the minutiae of song-making.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Nifty New Show

We just booked with WEEKEND RECESS in L.A. for August (8/18). Mark your calendars, all you L.A.-ish people. (I think I know three of you.)

Weekend Recess is a once-a-month kiddie-music frenzy with games (there's even kid karaoke. C'mon.). They've been doing this event monthly at Hollywood's Knitting Factory and have just found a new venue. Pretty cool thing they're pulling off for kidlets in southern California.

We're excited. It sounds like a hoot--which is the standard for our travelling out of town to sing. "Will it be a hoot?"; "Um, yes, Maam, it promises to be a hoot."; "Okay, we'll go."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

While We're Waiting Patiently

I can hear that Jeopardy music in the background--you know, the song they play while everyone's writing their answer. While
Mrs. Davis and Bill the Rocker rest up from their Brooklyn Escapade (that fantastic everybody-was-there concert in Brooklyn Saturday), I thought I would keep us occupied so that we don't become cranky with them and tell them to drink some coke and hurry up and tell us what happened. So, while we wait, let me tell you about some nifty blogs I've been watching. They have nothing to do with kids music, but they are cool (And hey, I'm the girl out here on the stage juggling while the real show sets up behind the curtain . . .)

First, go check out Puttermeister ("I write. I knit. I teach. I putter.")

My friend Amy writes all kinda crazy smart stuff about knitting . . and movies . . . and literature . . . . and moving her furniture around for the carpet cleaning guy. If you like pictures of creative process and the weird/true insights of a mega-brain mixed with coffee talk, take a blog stroll on over there.

If knitting's not your thing, but you like Egypt or travelling with small children [now THERE'S a transition], go see my friends' blog about their family trip.

Well, it's actually a geologic/historical sabbatical study mixed with kids climbing pharaoh statues. They're going all over the place--Egypt, Greece, Italy, England, France . . . WITH THEIR THREE CHILDREN (did I already mention that?) If you left your early history education with nothing more than the phrase THE CODE OF HAMMURABI like I did--or you want to see a family completely go for it with their life--check it out.

I'm here for you while you wait.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Our gigs are coming together

We're not completely booked for the Spring and Summer, but here are some fun shows coming up:

Thursday, April 12th

Saturday, April 21st

(We get to sit in and sing with the SF Kid-Music-King)
Saturday, June 23rd

Thursday, July 5th

For all the details, click here.

And if you're looking for something super terrific to check out, be watching Spare the Rock for reports about tomorrow's super-concert in Brooklyn of everybody that's anybody with their own guitar who's ever paid their own money to record anything that's ever been recorded for kids that is cool.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"What's with the perfunctory blog entries?"

Okay, now that hurts. It cuts to the quick. I won't lie.

"I posted that picture of those love boat people."

"Yeah, but you didn't say anything about it."

"Yeah, but it was funny--c'mon. It was GOPHER."

"Okay, Well, I mean . . .if it was supposed to be funny . . ."

So, she's right--my officemate, I mean. (She can't help it--she tells it like it is.) My posts have been lame lately, so I thought I'd just come right out and say it: Hi. My name is Ginger. And I'm a lame blogger (lately).

Thing thing is . . .we're selling our house (as part of an evil family plot of ours to live in more than 1000 square feet). And I've been working like a manic june cleaver freak for about two weeks. Here's my kitchen on 1950's steroids:

Here's my kitchen today:

We, um, found a buyer. Sure, it's good news because we wanted to sell our house--but the real news here is that I can put down the mop and get back to blogging.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Today Is the Day I Wish I Lived in Brooklyn.

The coolest radio guy in independent kids music is organizing the coolest live show of independent kids artists. The show's gonna be in Brooklyn. And the list of artists is over-the-top wonderful. Really, everybody doing nifty independent kids music is going to be there. Click here to find out why you wish you lived in Brooklyn too.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Herman Ripp

Why would I lie about a name like that? He was my 6th grade teacher, and he used to sing.

I'm not talking about cool, early musical influence, or admitting to any sort of early musical dorkiness here. I'm just saying Mr. Herman Ripp, my 6th grade teacher who wore corduroys and had a mustache, used to sing. No guitar. No piano. No tiny little wooden recorder. Just hardbound song books and tunes like Streets of Laredo--sad cowboy songs where men died alone in the middle of the desert.

Here's a verse:

Then beat the drum slowly, play the fife lowly.
Play the death march as you carry me along.
Take me to the green valley, lay the sod o'er me,
I am a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong.

Good times. Mr. Ripp would stand in the front of our classroom and warble those songs like he was about to cry. Then we'd all put the books away and go back to math.

And I even thought to mention it because I was listen to REK's latest studio album,what i really mean, and one of the songs sounded a lot like those old cowboy songs.

And I remembered Mr. Ripp and was struck by how sometimes our early influences aren't so much inspirational as they are, well, influences.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Old Banana Freedom

Important Old Banana Update: I thought you would be so glad to hear that in an act of bold kindness to me, my husband ate a banana that was turning brown. I mean, there I was, asking myself the question "Will I REALLY be able to throw that away and not freeze it?" Everything in me was, well, clenched. And then there was the peel, emptied of my need to decide.

I'm watching the five that are currently yellowing in my kitchen and telling myself, "You can do it, Ginger. You know you can."

I put my dukes up to whatever god is in charge of banana bread-on-the-fly and threw out all the old bananas in my freezer. There were 24. I had 24 old bananas in my freezer. Because someday I might make banana bread.

It was like risking the wrath of some meaner, more survivalist-oriented version of the pillsbury dough boy.

And now I have no backup plan, no means of pulling off a homemade baked good on the spur of the moment. I am embracing the bakery. I am saying yes to the high skill level of others. I am eschewing homemade.

Who knows what will happen to me at Christmastime (which is in like 11 months). I don't know what will happen. This is a crazy I-don't-have-any-way-to-make-banana-bread sort of a ride. Hold on tight--no! Don't hold on tight. Let go. Put your hands in the air. Feel that feeling like you might fall off.

I have no bananas.

But what if you need to make banana bread, Ginger? What will you DO?

I don't know. I really, honestly, don't know. I'm shaking my head as I write this. I just don't know.

But when I peer into my freezer and see the vacated place that those bananas held, I have a feeling that seems like . . . freedom.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Standing next to the boat

I've been thinking about the way we lose them, our children, I mean --about the way some days I go into my son's room, and there is another boy there, someone more lank, who can--as if the skill snuck into him in the night--read words and share with his brother, someone who refuses to eat carrots. And I have this sad longing for the other boy, a sort of cocktail of regret and relief: so glad he's learned this next thing, so sorry I wasn't kinder to him before he did--longing, I think, for the chance to be with him in his other state like I could be now that I see it really will have an end.

It's something like that thing of slogging across the river in order to get to the boat you needed to get yourself across the river.

But I can't seem to see the end of these stretches of not-getting-there that he passes through--until he's on the other side, and I have, just by waiting for the hard thing to pass, missed something. Missed the chance to be the one who would be sturdy and kind enough to love him real well while he wasn't anywhere he needed to be yet.

And maybe that's why I like to sing--to celebrate those other moments behind me, those other boys behind me.

Like standing there next to the boat, pants wet and all, and singing back across the river to him--singing loud so hear can hear me.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Really Nice Big Brother

Okay--so there's the issue of Nate's niceness to his mother for dressing up in this MACARONI & CHEESE costume in the first place. (Check.) Then, there's the issue of his extra niceness, for holding up one of our postcards (his sister Coral really loves our CD). (Check.) Then, there's the grand finale of high school guy niceness that he didn't lose his, well, macaroni, when his mother emailed me this picture. (Check. Check.)

We think Nate is great.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Because I Prefer to Enter a Conversation Once Everyone's Left the Room

I'm conflict avoidant. I can't talk about it. Really, I am.

Everyone's been talking about Laurie Berkner. Okay, not everyone, but still--people I think are important are talking about her. (That was who *I* think; not, who I *think* . . .)

I haven't thrown my indie kid music hat into the ring yet because 1. (See opening line) and 2. I've been chewing on the whole thing. There's something in the conversation that I'm not sure we ever got to (maybe because it sort of heated up ever so slightly, and I might not be the only person who tends to ditch the kitchen when the stove's on high).

I think Mrs. Davis kicked off an interesting conversation about artistic legitimacy, actually.

Her bent--as this reader understands it--is not that Laurie Berkner is crummy (which seems to be how most reader's interpreted what Mrs. Davis said) but that her not-crummyness is shared by others, while her get-paid-to-do-that-all-the-time is not.

Here's a story. (As far as you know, it has to do with what we're talking about.) When I was in graduate school studying poetry, these published poets used to come to our workshops and read their work and then we'd have a Q & A and within the first three minutes somebody would ask, "How do you get published?" The published poet then inevitably launched into a sort of there-must-be-beer-in-the-air-I'm-so-relaxed kind of discussion about how it's not really *about* getting published, man.

And I always wanted to get up and yell BUT YOU'RE PUBLISHED.

I didn't, of course. I just set out to get published . . . like we all did. And it was really hard. And by the time the three years of that two-year program were over, I’d written scads more than I’d ever published. Was I a poet if I wasn’t published much? I really wanted to keep writing poetry.

Ten years later, I’m still writing poetry. I haven’t published much at all since those years in grad school. Here’s what I’ve done, though: I’ve decided that it’s okay for me to write poetry. And in my life I’m trying to point myself toward the sign that reads YOU GET TO SAY WHAT YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH TO DO and away from the sign that says IF YOU GET A CHECK, THEN THAT MUST MEAN YOU WERE GOOD ENOUGH TO DO IT AFTER ALL.

I give an absolute high five to Laurie Berkner for going for it in her wildly goofy kids music. But the cash she's made isn't what inspires me or makes me think she's great. It's the "chops" she showed for just recording her songs in the first place.

May we all have chops. May we all record our own goofy songs. May we all not wait for our bank accounts to tell us we're good enough. Amen.

Am I a Good Parent?

I ask this question all the time--to myself (don't worry--not to my kid). Here's the blessing I got the other day in the car. It was a spontaneous recitation by my four-year-old. He was apparently trying to show me that he knows what's what:

#1 (And he did announce the numbers): No tv before school.

#2: No little boys going on the computer to check emails.

#3: No going into somebody else's house

#4: No pushing old ladies.

#5: Be nice to old ladies.

My question is finally answered. You know what you need to know, grasshopper.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Have a Super New Year

From our family to yours.