Love Letters

Just something I knocked together late this evening. The lyrics are almost entirely lifted from love letters I wrote my late wife.

Early in the morning
long before dawn
I head into the kitchen
put the coffee on
write a love note for her lunch
to let her know my mind
Every note is different
but the message stays the same…

I love you in the morning
I love you late at night
I love you when you’re happy
I still love you when we fight
(making up is okay, too)

I love you right or wrong
I love you win or lose
I love you so much that in a zombie apocalypse
I’d protect you from all harm.
(or maybe you’d protect me)

Like a honeybee drawn to a rose
Like a desert dreaming of rain
I will love you in hard times,
even if loving you brings me pain.

I love you in the mountains.
I love you by the sea.
I don’t care where I go to bed
long as you are lying next to me.
(even if you do steal the covers)

Poets of old loved to write about love
I never understood those words
Once I found you it suddenly all made sense
from Marvin Gaye to Wordsworth.
(let’s get it on in the splendor of the grass!)

I love you in the morning
I love you late at night
I love you when you’re happy
I love you when we fight
I love you when you’re feeling lost
I love you when you forge ahead.
Baby, the only thing sweeter than loving you
is knowing that you love me.
The only thing sweeter than loving you
is knowing that you love me.

The Art of Frailing Banjo

If you have heard me reminisce over my days learning my trade in Philadelphia or read about my exploits in Just This Banjo, you already know that I was mentored by some amazing musicians.

For as long as I can remember, old-time banjo was about singing. Peggy Seeger and Elizabeth Cotten sang when they gave me my first pointers and every good frailing banjo player I have known since then has been a singer. The solo melody players always struck me like Bobcat Goldthwait trying to pass as a mime.

I was told from day one to sing, and never mind that I couldn’t hear. The craft is the craft. I was told flat-out to either cowboy up or take up a hobby that won’t require effort.

In these videos, I am not playing from tablature. Frailing banjo is an improvisational approach to music. I simply note the time signature, pick a key I think will work with my voice and then use my singing as a guide through the melody and chord progression. People tell me that it seems hard, but it is a million times easier than memorizing tab files note by note. I mean, I don’t have to remember anything and there is no end to the music I can make. It isn’t talent. It isn’t a gift. It is simply frailing banjo.

This YouTube playlist is not a jukebox. I am not singing for your entertainment. I am simply applying the craft so that our students can see basic concepts and techniques in action.

If you would like to learn, visit us on Patreon:

The black boxes bolted on either side of my head in some of these videos are a bilateral BAHA implant or Bone Anchored Hearing Aid. If I am not wearing them, I can barely hear my voice and I am playing largely by feel.

What A Day

Three families were fed with today’s gigantic pot of beef stew. I used the pizza stone to make fresh pita bread. Mom more or less claimed the loaf of apple-oatmeal bread as her own and Dear Old Dad has taken to ripping handfuls off of yesterday’s Pennsylvania Dutch raisin bread.

I thought about getting a stand mixer. Making bread entirely by hand is a lot of work, but the work is the entire point of making bread. So I don’t need one.

When I start working the dough with my hands I find myself dropping into the horse stance from my early training in Kenpo. My breath falls into a rhythm and I knead with the heels of my hands for ten or fifteen minutes without much effort. I like watching the raw materials fall into a shaggy mix, then a sticky mess and eventually silky smooth ball ready to rise. The very best part is handing my folks a buttered slice of warm bread.

I am happily tired. Time for some herbal tea, a terrible movie and curling up with Pooka.

This was a wonderful day.

Homemade Beef Stew and Oatmeal-Apple Bread

The stew is simmering in the pot. One loaf of oatmeal-apple bread came out perfectly while the second is being feasted upon by a flock of red-wing blackbirds and a gang of squirrels.

Tonight I will run bowls of hot stew and slices of bread (I think the granny smith apples in the bread will be awesome when it is toasted and served with stew!) to my neighbors. I can’t wait!

My Day Off!

Patrick & Pooka

I have no lessons scheduled today and my BAHA hearing aids are not working. To top it off, it is bitter cold outside! So I am using the day to make a huge pot of beef stew and a couple of loaves of oatmeal apple bread. It would be nice to have some music playing, but good food, pursuing the art of bread and snuggling with Pooka (Daisy is here too!) is not a bad way to spend a day responsibly irresponsibly.

I have to contact Cochlear once I get my bread rising and arrange for both of my hearing aids to go in for repairs. That won’t be fun. I can put a headphone over my left ear for lessons over the weekend, so it isn’t the end of the world. Still, having almost normal fearing since October makes it really hard to go back into near silence. Maybe once these are fixed, I will only use them when I absolutely need to. Going back to everything being quiet is just too disorienting.

Wait a sec… A new development! I took a break writing this post to walk to the grocery store. Between epilepsy and neuropathy, my days of driving are over. It was a chore hauling everything back home – but when I did get back I discovered that somebody left a baking stone on my front porch.

Pizza from scratch and even more fresh bread in the days to come. Wow!

Well, I have stew to make and bread dough to knead. It’s going to be a wonderful day.

I hope it is beautiful in your corner of the world.