Posted in commute, fog, Holidays, morning, music, Oregon, photography

Some Consolation

This is what I get for going to work when most people are on vacation/holiday.

Light in the fog 12-22-14

It’s a driveway at one of the farms I pass, with their own streetlight, but we’ll just pretend it’s the moon, ‘k?

And these trees on the hill. I like silhouettes.

Trees oh hill 12-22-14

I did not set the camera to black and white, that’s what it looked like.

I did start to see some colors in the clouds a little further down the road, in places where the fog parted a bit. Mostly it was thick and gray this morning.

And here’s a thoroughly beautiful piece played by Portland guitarist Scott Kritzer. David Andrews’s “Christmas Youth” which was playing on the radio when I took that top pic. For more amazing music is into their Festival of Carols. It’s four full days and nights of incomparably beautiful holiday music. If you’re not in the Portland area, you can click on the “Listen Now” and live stream it.

Posted in 20th Century/Modern Classical, fantasy, music, writing

Current Inspiration

This piece gives me chills. I just wish it was longer and didn’t end so abruptly. I give you: Two Steps From Hell, “Protectors of the Earth” from their album, “Invincible.”



I downloaded the MP3 version from Amazon, in case anyone’s wondering.

I still don’t know if this current WIP is going to be a short story, or if I want to take it to full length novel. It’s funny how  I have real life models for some of the characters, but  not the main character, my protagonist. Sigh. Back to it.

I wonder if the CD cover is available as a poster…

Invincible CD Cover

Posted in 20th Century/Modern Classical, film scores, Holidays, movies, music, Oregon, Portland

Festival of Carols


The annual tradition of the Festival of Carols begins tomorrow on Portland’s classical station, KQAC. They play the most beautiful Christmas music composed through the ages, so many pieces and arrangements that you’ve likely never heard. It’s four days of non-stop glorious music so if, like me, you’ve had all  you can stand of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” or “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and need some real music, tune in online at and go to “Listen” at the top of the page.

Also tonight at 8:00PM PST on their program Club Mod, Robert McBride will be featuring some music by one of my favorite composers, Morten Lauridsen. Club Mod showcases modern ‘classical’ composers. Lauridsen is a particular favorite of mine, and it doesn’t hurt that he hails from this area (Beaverton). If you’re not familiar with Lauridsen, check here for a small intro.

Edmund Stone’s movie music program “The Score” will feature music from movies about Santa Claus on “A Right Jolly Old Elf” today at 2PM PST (and will repeat next Sunday at 2PM PST).

Check out all their programming. And no, I don’t work for the station, but I am a long-time supporter. I’ve listened to a lot of classical stations around the country (sadly there aren’t many left) and I think they’re one of the finest. They’re also commercial-free (apart from the old-style mentions of supporters by the hosts) which is LOVELY.

Happy Holidays, Blessed Solstice, and Merry Christmas! Click the picture for an animated card.

Christmas card 2013 for blog

Posted in Ireland, music

Hard Times Come Again No More

I’m not sure why but this song started going through my head today. This is for anyone going through a tough time.

The singers are (l to r) Mary Black, Tommy Fleming, Eleanor Shanley, and Maura O’Connell, accompanied by De Danann. For those not familiar, this was written in 1854 by American composer Stephen Foster, several years before the Civil War, but during a depression in the country.

The Irish in particular seem to have taken to this song, many Irish singers and musicians have recorded it. Small wonder, I suppose. It was just a few short years after this was written that my own great-grandparents, Ellen Lee and John Ahern, left Ireland for America. My aunt likes to say they came over during the Famine, but from the records I’ve been able to find they didn’t arrive until about 1857-1859.

Anyway, I love this song. The first time I heard it was on one of Mary Black’s albums. It almost seems like a prayer these days. If only we could sing hard times away.

Posted in random thoughts, science fiction, writing

Weird Things I Wonder About

You guys are probably used to my bizarre musings, but just in case the needle on the weird-o-meter hasn’t been pegged lately, allow me to give it a nudge.

I’m a huge classical music fan (as you no doubt know) so I’ve often felt sad thinking about people who lived before Mozart was born and never heard his music, or Handel’s Messiah, or Bach’s Brandenburg concertos. As a lover of words and devourer of books, I can’t imagine never becoming acquainted with Shakespeare, or Jane Austen. Of course the flip-side to that is: What are we going to miss that hasn’t happened yet? I  bemoan all the great books already written that I will never have time to read. I also regret all the great music yet to be composed that I will never hear. And I wonder how many geniuses, alive now or before we were born, are/were out there who will never be heard or read.

So to take this to a new level with my astronomy interest, today we have this article:

Astronomers anticipate 100 billion Earth-like planets

Holy hell. :::picks self up off the floor:::

Think of that. 100,000,000,000. One-hundred-billion planets, potentially teeming with life. Think of all the people we’ll never meet, the societies we’ll never know about.  All the fabulous beaches and sunsets we’ll never see on alien worlds. What if Mozart was reborn out there somewhere? Shouldn’t we be trying to find him?

M42: Inside the Orion Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Reinhold Wittich

I wonder if they tuck their children into bed at night, if they even HAVE beds. Do they tell stories around a campfire, or are they enmeshed in their own space race? Do they have music? Do they even hear?

Then again, if I could meet them all, just think what my Christmas card list would look like. I’m imagining something like this, neatly categorized by galaxy, quadrant, solar system, planet, species…


But, just in case you’re out there, we’ll leave the light on for you.

Milky Way large

Posted in 20th Century/Modern Classical, History, Holidays, music, writing

The Grass Where He Stood

Since I have the great luxury this year of having President’s Day off (I can’t remember the last time I had it off, maybe not since school?)  I thought I’d post a small tribute to Honest Abe, although that’s a little disingenuous. Mostly I’m obsessed with the piece of music that plays over the images, and you guys know how I get when I latch onto something. I was hearing it in my sleep all night. There are a lot of YouTube videos featuring photos from the Civil War that use this piece, although the piece was written in 1982. It’s called Ashokan Farewell and was written by Jay Ungar as a closing piece for the Annual Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp in 1982. Ken Burns also used it as the theme for his series The Civil War. It made it’s way onto the compilation album, “Songs of the Civil War” despite being written well over one hundred years after the end of that war. Still, it is much in the spirit of the times. It’s been compared to Niel Gow’s Lament for the death of his second wife, and you can hear the influence in it. I’ll have to do a post on Niel at some point for all you Scotsmen.

So here it is as the background for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln. You can thank me for the earworm later.

The credit at the end is a little confusing, makes it sound like the music was inspired by Burns’ 1990 documentary, impossible unless Mr. Ungar has a TARDIS we don’t know about…

I have an ulterior motive for the presidential tribute (his birthday is actually the 12th, same day as Charles Darwin. Both were born February 12, 1809. What an alignment of the stars there must have been). Looking at these pictures gave me an idea for a story, and not even Civil War-oriented. But I love all these images of the Pres. Was ever a man more human? I don’t mean to shortchange George Washington in all this, I truly believe he should still have his own day, rather than rolling the two into one. I’ll get around to a post on him one of these days.

I have to admit I get a little choked up looking at these images of our 16th President, and the men who fought in that terrible war. It must have felt like the world was ending. Personally, I think I have it bad when my car breaks down and I get a cold. If there’s such a thing as reincarnation and I lived during that time, I must have died young. I don’t think I’m strong enough to survive what those people went through. I’ve visited Gettysburg on a class trip in high school and I wished I could have spent more time there, with fewer people around, although as emotional as I can be I would likely have been reduced to a blubbering mass. I took a “mini-course” on the Civil War in high school, and we even made our own reenactment film with a group of Civil War reenactors. I was filmed as a dead soldier lying on the ground with faux blood dripping out of my mouth. It was pronounced awesome. I’m good at playing dead.

Hope you enjoy the tune.

Posted in fantasy, Ireland, music, Vampires, writing

Circle of Joy

Since I have no news, other than being home sick for the last three days and trying to work from home a bit, I thought I’d share some music.

Here’s a beautiful Celtic harp piece called Circle of Joy, by Lisa Lynne. Windham Hill sticks it on their Celtic Christmas collections, which is fine, but I don’t associate the piece with Christmas (all to the good). Actually there are only a couple of overtly Christmas-y songs on the CD I have, but this is hands down my favorite piece on it (there are a couple of other really good tracks by Carlos Nunez whom I adore as well).

I don’t know the story behind the tune, she may have written it as a Christmas piece. I just think it deserves a wider audience. I’m using some of her music for inspiration as I embark on a new story (yes, in the midst of revising the vampire novel) Enjoy!

Posted in 20th Century/Modern Classical, music, Quotes, random thoughts


Perhaps a counterpoint to my last post, this is soothing, rather than distressing. I woke to this on the radio the other day. Music at that hour, when I’m not yet fully awake, has a profound effect on me. I am unable to move, even to roll over and check the time, lest I miss a note. I would have been late for work if it came to that, waiting to hear the credits for the piece. I know of Arvo Pärt, I’ve heard other compositions of his, but somehow I’d never heard this, Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in Mirror). It’s been haunting me for days, and you  know what I do when that happens: I blog it. You must hear this, and enjoy the breathtaking photography and lovely quotes in the slideshow. And if, like me, music can move you to tears, have the Kleenex handy.

After that, everything else sounds like a jet engine. Come back to the world slowly.

Posted in 20th Century/Modern Classical, music, Oregon

Shining Night – A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen


You guys know I love this man’s music, I’ve posted it here before, and I’m thrilled they’ve done a documentary about him now, while he’s still with us. This is just a trailer for it.

Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen’ celebrates the life and music of the artist whom musicologist Nick Strimple has called ‘the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic.

You can read more about it here. They also have a Facebook page here. I wish I had known sooner, there was a screening tonight. I may have to buy the DVD.

Here’s the piece the documentary takes its name from, “Sure on This Shining Night”, sung by the University of Montevallo Chamber Singers.

I’m so delighted he’s getting this kind of recognition in his lifetime.