Posts Tagged ‘music’

Aside from wallowing in my own postponed Winter blues, I have been spending the last few weeks getting accustomed to my new surroundings here at Casa de Leonard.  The Leonards were more than generous with their space, giving Scott and I not only our own bedroom, but an entire room to use as my office/workshop, and space to practice and record music in the basement.  We’ve both been blessed with a set of in-laws that are incredibly helpful and supportive, and for that I think we both are thankful.  So, after a month in sunny Florida, we arrived in Connecticut during the heart of snow-season.  Cold, dark, wet, nasty snow-season.  Yuck.

On the bright side, this should be our very last Winter (at least for a while) if everything goes to plan over the next year.  In Autumn 2010 we are planning to pull up our anchor once again and hightail it to Austin, Texas.   During our trip to China we were able to sit back and take a nice long look at our lives, a luxury one rarely gets to enjoy.  While we were looking we realized a few things:

  1. We hate Winter.  Every year during the dark cold months, Bobleo and I become fatter and more depressed. We’re done with Winter.
  2. One way or another, Bobleo is determined to make music a bigger part of his life.  So, he started practicing like a maniac, and is currently taking private lessons to take his playing to the next level.  By the time we hit Austin, a major musical hub, Bobleo hopes to be in the best musical shape of his life.
  3. We can’t afford to live in Fairfield County.  Or at least we can’t afford to live here well, or live here well while saving toward our future, or save toward our future without working 2 or more jobs each.  Another thing we realized is that we’ve missed each other, and we’re tired of working 2 or more jobs each.  We’re taking weekends off from now on.
  4. Although Connecticut is filled with friends, family, and personal history, we crave adventure.  Sometimes you can’t see what you’ve been missing until you step outside your life.  When we did, we found out just how happy getting lost, frustrated, and confused can make us.  Sometimes I count the number of exits off of 84 from here to Maine that I have been down.  As the number gets higher and higher, I feel more and more like a goldfish in a bowl.
  5. You can always go back home.  No matter how far you are, your family is your family and your friends are still your friends.  Sure, we’ll miss the people we love, but a handful of miles won’t keep us apart forever.

So, that’s why we are moving to Austin.  We’re just not done shaking our lives up yet.  Plus, Austin is full of everything that we like: music, food, movies, art, and crazy people.  Our choice became doubly lucky when we found out that two of my sisters are planning to head down there too!!  So, we won’t be entirely alone after all.

In addition to making big plans, we’ve been making music, Bobleo and I.  After years of pleading, he finally gave in and sat down to write some songs together.  They are not too shabby either, if I may say so.  The first that we wrote involved several beers, lots of yelling, and intermittent mediation by Bobleo’s father.  But after many hours of head butting, we came up with something pretty good.  The second song, (and a half – we have one that’s nearly done) went much more smoothly.  No yelling or name calling at all.  I figure it’s just another of a million things that we need to learn how to do together, so like fighting or running a household of chores, we’re getting better at it.  At this rate, we may even get an EP recorded without spilling blood.  We also learned a few covers, including: Train Song by Vashti Bunyan, Bad Things by Jace Everett, and Back to Black by Amy Winehouse.  We need to streamline our covers a little and add some more stuff that focuses us a little more, but we’re getting there.  We’re going for an alt. country kind of thing, but right now I think we’re still a little dis-jointed.

Tool of the Trade

On Sunday night we played our very first open mic together.  It was incredibly exciting.  I’m such a dork, but it really thrilled me.  I could hardly wait until we went out again last night.  To Bobleo this is cake, old hat, easy peasy, but for me it’s a leg shaking, nail biting, butterfly gutted lightning-fest.  I think we did OK.  If you’re around on a Sunday or Tuesday night anytime soon your welcome to come on down and see the side-show.  Widow Browns in Danbury on Sundays, starting after 9:30, and O’Connors in Brookfield on Tuesdays at the same time.  We’ll be doing each one religiously to get some practice under our belts as we try and complete an EP’s worth of recorded originals.  I’ll keep you updated on the status of our little project.

And finally, my crafty attention has been to creating this adorable little baby quilt for my favorite CB.  She is so very preggers, and will be delivering an amazing bundle of joy (or as I call her, CB Jr.) sometime next month! My friends, CB and Brian are going to be the funnest, cutest, most lovable parents ever, I just know it, and I can’t wait to meet tiny CB.  Anyway, the QUILT.

CB Jr.'s Baby Quilt

The Quilt was made with a Hello Betty Charm Pack by Moda, and backed with a Pink Plume Fleur de Lis print by Tula, both of which I purchased from Quilt Sandwich on Etsy.  The pre-cut squares made the patchwork a total breeze.  I don’t know if my cheating heart will ever go back to cutting quilt squares by hand.  This was too devilishly easy for me not to repeat.  I hand quilted the blanket with pink embroidery floss, and sewed a pink fuzzy bias tape on as a lining with the same floss.  The binding took FOREVER, but the perfection was well worth the extra time.  This was definitely my best quilt to date.  It had no puckering, no funky diagonal lines, no mis-sized squares or random holes.  All in all, I think it was pretty well made, especially for me.  I hope baby CB will enjoy it.

I’ve also been cooking my head off, but unfortunately I have not been good about blogging my meals since we came back to CT.  I have to find a way to take good photos in the Leonard’s kitchen, which also means stopping to plate before throwing the meal on the table, which also means not shoveling the meal into my face as soon as possible.  I so lack self discipline.  Here’s a peak at what eventually became sausage and pepper calzones earlier this week.

Chicken Sausage and Roasted Peppers Tossed With Fresh Basil

I’m having serious photography frustrations, as you may be able to surmise from the photos in this post.  The walls in my office are sky blue, which makes (I’ll give you one guess, no wait. I won’t) BLUE!!  It also has the best light in the house – which continues to tempt me into taking pictures in here, despite the blue-ness.  But then, I wind up with an irreversible blue tinge to EVERYTHING I photograph.  Must stop.  Must relocate.  What’s the definition of insanity again? Oh yes, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Right. On that note, I’ll leave you all panting and heaving for the next installment of MaryHelenOrama. G’day mate.


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Music is one of the most important aspect of both my life and Scott's.  We've both grown up in homes where music played an essential part of daily life.  Scott's parents adored rock n' roll and the glitzy glamor of Las Vegas shows.  The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Barbara Streisand was regularly blasted in the Leonard household.  When I grew up, my parents' taste spanned the likes of David Bowie to Joan Baez.  Between my father regularly bringing home new and unique NPR favorites such as Irish Dement, and my mother waxing poetic over the genius of rock n roll heroines such as Stevie Nicks or Debbie Harry, my sisters and I were more than encouraged to blast our own records loud and proud. 

Like plenty of teenagers, we both spent our formative years obsessively listening to music, constantly searching for the next greatest song, or paying careful attention to already known masterpieces.  As Scott and I grew older this obsession never ceased.  Concerts, downloads, and bootlegs were the primary focus day in and day out.  Even now we will gladly miss sleep on a work night if there is a good show within 1-2 hours drive.

Music still plays a huge role in our lives, often surpassing all other hobbies or entertainments.  Not a day goes by where the sound of Scott playing guitar, or of me belting a tune does not echo against the walls of our small condo. The sound of Scott carefully dissecting a favorite song is often replaced lately by a single bass line throbbing in from the craft room as Scott methodically learns songs in preparation for the China trip.  As someone who is yet to master any instrument (apart from occasionally my own vocal chords), it blows my mind the way that he can listen and repeat melodies on so many different instruments.  As much as I love music, my flame for it is only a tiny glimmer in comparison to Scott's. I've never known anyone who loved music so much as Scott.

You can imagine the pressure that I felt when picking music for our wedding!  I chose a New Orleans jazzy rendition of the Wedding March so that the wedding party could dance down the aisle.  That seemed to go over really well, and had everyone in the audience boogying along. 


For the recessional, we chose "Wigwam" by Bob Dylan, a sentimental favorite of ours.  We were announced to Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddy, and the bride & groom first dance was "Sleep Walk" by Johnny & Santo.  That has always been our song, and it was a great match for the 50's theme anyway.  Countless hours of our lives were spent driving aimlessly through the night while listening to that song. What girl could help but fall in love with a sun roof open to the stars and Sleep Walk on the radio? I didn't stand a chance.

 Mary and Scott First Dance2

We opened the dance floor to Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell", and followed it with "Maybelleine" and the original version of "Woo Hoo" by the Rock-A-Teens. 


I obsessed quite a bit over the choices for this first batch of songs, trying to get a mix of the most kick ass, and soulful 50's rockabilly.  Elvis performed a 30 minute set after the first batch of music and really lit the crowd on fire.


Next, we danced with out parents.  I danced with my Dad to Iris Dement's "Sweet is the Melody".  Iris Dement was an artist my Dad heard on NPR one evening on the way home from work.  He instantly fell in love and made a pit stop from his commute just to get his hands on the full album.  He came home full of excitement, and made my sisters, Mom, and I listen to the whole thing as soon as he came home.  Lucky for us, we loved it too.  Since my Dad had always encouraged my sisters and I to sing, I sang the entire song to my father as we danced.  Strangely enough, he told me that one of the reasons he had liked Iris Dement so much was that her voice reminded him of mine!  Funny how things turn out.


Scott and his Mom chose "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You" by the Beatles, a good choice that came from Scott's love of the Beatles, and his Mom's desire for an upbeat song. You should know, Scott's mother is quite the dancer.  I don't think that she's ever had lessons or anything like that, but can she ever boogy!  She was kicking up her heels Tina Turner style the entire night, and was the talk of the dance floor!


The second batch of dance music was a mix of carefully chosen oldies and a few indie and alternative songs thrown in for good measure.  Elvis, who was also our DJ on top of being entertainment and officiator, popped in party hits now and again to keep people dancing.  After a good deal of dancing, he disappeared for a costume change, ready to warm up the crowd with his second set!  White jumpsuit Elvis was a huge hit.  He was swarmed with ladies, and had the entire place going crazy.


Following Elvis's second set, we did an Anniversary Dance to a version of "Our Love is Here to Stay" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.  All the married couples began the dance, and were widdled down until only the longest married couple remained. Al and Carol Barney, my Matron of Honor's parents won the dance with 50 years of marriage, being celebrated this year!  Carol remained on the floor to judge in our next game, the Single Ladies Bouquet Dance Contest!

This wacky idea for a wedding game was drummed up by The Hat City Scissor Squad girls just a few weeks before the wedding. While discussing wedding plans we got onto the topic of bouquet tosses, and decided to have dance-off instead of the traditional toss.  All the unmarried ladies danced their butts off to "Single Ladies" by Beyonce, and Carol tapped them out one by one, until she selected my sister, Sarah, as the winner.  Reports say that she may have even done a crab style back bend to win the prize.


Our last set of music spanned the remainder of the evening and let loose with a series of indie dance hits, classic jams, and good old fashioned party music.  We wrapped up the night with a last dance of "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" by Iron and Wine, and called it a night… that is until we hit the karaoke bar later on.


For the heck of it, check out this page to see a complete playlist from our wedding.  You can download Itunes Mixes of the stuff that is available at the Itune Store, or you can hunt for these little gems on your own.  Enjoy!

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Written Monday afternoon, March 16…

It is amazing how making one small change can impact your life.  By doing one little thing that you were afraid to do, you can start a domino effect. Before you know it, you could find yourself on the opposite side of the world.

Scott got his hair cut on Saturday night.  I posted photos on my Facebook account, which sparked our friend, Daly, to drop us a line, letting us know he'd be in town on Sunday.  By Monday morning we had agreed to pull up our stakes and move to the other side of the world, China to be precise, so that Scott could pursue his lifelong dream of touring as a professional musician.

Monday morning we withdrew an offer on a house that just the day before we'd been planning our lives around buying.  We spent the rest of the day at our jobs, jittery and restless, still shaken to our bones with the massive change we had just invited into our lives. We have responsibilities here, friends here, an entire life here that we were in the process of building a foundation for. It seems crazy to do what we are doing.  But every so often life opens a door that you just can't pass by.

We'll be back, Connecticut, and we'll miss you while we are away. But we are going, we are really, really going. Tonight we'll start calling parents, family, and friends, start making arrangements and plans, figuring out the elephant in the room (his name is "HOW"), and reassuring ourselves every few minutes that this is really all going to be OK, despite how terrifying it all is.

P.S. I can't believe this is happening.

It's now been about a month and a half since I wrote the note above, carefully tucking away my feelings until I was ready to share them with the world.  Since then, we have made plans, we have told parents, family, and friends.  Thanks to the unbelievable support of my parents, we have developed a plan to put our current lives on hold, so that we'll be free to pursue what could be the greatest experience of our lives.  To make things more complicated, we've decided to get married before we leave.  We'll walk off the plane in China, hand in hand, husband and wife, ready to face the unknown with enthusiasm and hope. 

Because I can't bear to part from our friends and family completely, I'll be bringing you all with me through this blog.  Stay tuned for stories and photos of our wedding, and then our adventures beyond.  Keep your comments, pictures, and emails coming. Once we've flown the coop they'll be more precious to us than ever!

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