Tuesday: encounters with books (and blogs)

April 6, 2021 @ 8:37 am | Filed under: , , ,

August 2008

I’m chuckling over the word “encounters.” In my Rule of Six (or Seven) list, that word flows naturally: encounters with beauty, encounters with living books, encounters with ideas to ponder and discuss…

But when I lift the phrase out of the list, it becomes comical. My entire day is a series of “encounters” with books. I might as well say I’ve had an encounter with air, or that my feet have encountered floors.

Actually, come to think of it, my feet have had plenty of encounters with books, too, because there is never not a stack somewhere in kicking distance. Right now: beside my bed, next to where I leave my slippers at night—i.e., exactly where I groggily aim my toes in the pre-dawn darkness every single morning. You’d think I’d learn after the sixth or seventh stubbed toe, wouldn’t you?

Narrator: she wouldn’t.

But okay. With what books have I had a particularly close or meaningful encounter in the past week?

When You Reach Me

Well, I finished our readaloud of The Wind in the Door, the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time. And for once I wasn’t tormented with indecision over what the next readaloud should be: I had Rebecca Stead’s lovely When You Reach Me waiting in the wings. It’s a natural next book after Wrinkle. (But we’re studying the parts of a cell in our biology lessons, so OF COURSE I had to read Wind in the Door first. After that book, you’ll never forget what mitochondria do.)

When You Reach Me is, as I expected, going over like gangbusters. Scott listens along with us, and since it’s set in 1979, with a narrator only a year or two older than Scott and I were that year, it feels like home. And Miranda’s Manhattan neighborhood is familiar to us from the years we lived in Queens and worked in Manhattan.

For Huck and Rilla, this setting and time period are new territory, an interesting backdrop to an incredibly gripping story. Miranda’s favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time, and she quotes from it or narrates bits and scenes quite often. I love love love internal references like this: they’re the best kind of organic connection, and our brains loooove connections. I’m always talking about giving kids hooks to hang other knowledge on, like the way the Horrible Histories English monarchs song is a useful set of hooks for us to sort other historical events by. “That happened around the time of King John,” I might say, and the kids burst out with: “Poor King John, what a disaster, rule restrained by Magna Carta.”

Anyway, we’re about a third of the way through When You Reach Me and I’m beside myself with happy anticipation of what’s in store for my listeners.

Tiny Habits

I’ve also been spending a lot of time with B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits, which I devoured when it first came out and have been enjoying revisiting more slowly. One of my 2020 achievements was becoming a certified habit coach via Coach.me, because—as you know if you read Bonny Glen back in the beginning—habits have been a subject of particular interest to me since the day I first picked up a Charlotte Mason book in the mid-’90s.

Tiny Habits adds new layers to the subject through Stanford professor B.J. Fogg’s research on human behavior and what he calls “behavior design.” His premise is that you can coach yourself into any behavior you wish if you approach it incrementally, taking advantage of certain hardwired aspects of human behavior—and that willpower has nothing to do with this process. He explores prompts, ability, and motivation—motivation being the least powerful factor of the three, when it comes to creating a habit.

James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before also unpack this topic and explore related strategies. Gretchen incorporates her unique and highly useful theory about the Four Tendencies into her discussion of habit formation. I loved her book, because she zeroes in on the importance of understanding yourself (your tendency) in establishing the right bite-sized habit and the best-for-you prompt.

A very long postscript

This post could go on and on, but I’m trying a new practice. I have hundreds of unfinished draft posts sitting in my queue—because life is so full that if I don’t publish them right away, it’s hard to come back later. The momentum is gone. The energy I have for persistent, gradual progress on a piece of writing goes entirely to my books and to my working creating Brave Writer literature guides. But whenever I let my blog slip, I start to feel twitchy. It’s an important chronicle for my family and an important vehicle for my own learning and exploration. I need to write in order to know what I think. And I need to share that writing—narration is such a crucial piece of learning and critical thinking!

So what I’ve decided to try—and I’ll be evaluating the success of this plan in real-time, as I go, probably out loud—is writing for a set amount of time (most days, 45 minutes) and then hitting publish even if I had more thoughts to think, or (as with this post) more books to dish about. I’ve rearranged the day to allow this pocket of time (swapping it out with my Morning Pages practice, because the truth is, Morning Pages bore me silly after about the third day) most mornings. And when the timer goes off, I’ll give it a quick scan for typos and then smash the publish button, even if I had more to say.

I have plenty of outlets for more polished writing. Patreon, Medium, Darts, Arrows, my books. For the first ten years, blogging worked brilliantly for me as a catalyst for discovery and analysis. I resisted the shift toward professionalization of one’s blog and I bristled at the trend toward prioritizing the inclusion of beautiful photos, creating a magazine effect. (Do you know what I do for images here these days, most of the time? I click the “Add Media” button and type a word, loosely related to the content of the post, into the search bar. Then I pick one of the zillion photos I’ve shared here in the past. Thus the ancient snapshot at the top of this post.)

Because social media favors posts with a captivating and properly sized “featured photo,” I kept leaving drafts in the queue to await a moment when I could take or find the right picture. And of course you’re supposed to use keywords and subheads or your SEO plug-in yells at you. Mine loathes the length of my sentences and paragraphs.

And I find that I no longer care. I seldom bother to share links to Bonny Glen posts on Facebook or Twitter any more. I use subheads sparingly and mainly because I love that shade of blue.

This shade

Now, I realize I’ve gone and written a whole second post to explain why I’m publishing the first one practically mid-thought. Once again, I’m thinking out loud, firming up my vague notions by articulating them to you.

This practice—which, again, is an experiment I’m testing to see if it clicks for me—will mean more frequent, less polished posts. If you’re still here reading Bonny Glen after all these years, and through my long silences, I’m guessing you won’t mind. If you ever feel I’ve given short shrift to a topic and you’d like to hear more, please let me know! I’d be happy to tackle it the next time I set the timer.

P.S. No time today for adding book links! If you’d like to give me the affiliate credit, here are links to my Amazon & Bookshop.org portals.

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Monday: encounters with beauty

April 5, 2021 @ 7:47 am | Filed under: ,

This category is such a gimme—in Portland—in spring!

Scott and I take a walk every day after lunch—longer and longer, as the weather improves. And I often take an earlier walk with Huck or Rilla or both. Some days, after Scott and I return, I go back out, another ramble through the streets of Northeast PDX, by myself. With music or with silence. I love walking to a soundtrack, but a quiet walk provides the white space I’ve been seeking. I sometimes find it hard to choose.

In bloom this week: daffodils (the earliest risers now fading, but big lush clumps of them still nodding in full glory); cherry blossoms and tulip magnolias; a few flowers left on the flowering plums & Bartlett pears, but those are mostly leafing out; tulips beginning to open; a profusion of grape hyacinths (my favorite bulbs); wild violets in the lawns; camellias already dropping petals in a thick carpet on the sidewalk and grass; vinca and lantana; a few early rhododendrons.

Bees ecstatic in the cherry blossoms.

Last year’s green onions, neglected, fattening with bloom.

Poems by Thomas A. Clark, who continues to delight me.

to feel while the wind
  howls over stones
or tears at the meadow grasses
  quiet in your bones

The captivating videos of Abe Haruya, porcelain artist

Oh and so much spring

 

Applying my best parenting advice to my own self

April 2, 2021 @ 9:04 am | Filed under:

In a recent blog post, Austin Kleon quoted Tiersa McQueen‘s spot-on insight about parenting:

And I burst out with a delighted laugh, because moments earlier, I had scrawled in my notebook: I need to Rule-of-Six myself.

Long ago and far away, I wrote a post here on Bonny Glen about the six elements I tried to make sure were a part of my children’s days.

encounters with beauty (in art, music, nature);
encounters with living books
meaningful work (not busywork, but work that makes a real contribution to one’s mind, one’s home, or one’s community);
imaginative play; and
big ideas to ponder and discuss.

That’s five. The sixth was prayer, which I would frame differently now, fifteen years later, as meditation/contemplation/white space. Time outside the hustle of time. Time apart from the barrage of stimuli that has become 21st-century life. Time to sit (or walk, or stitch, or garden) in quiet thought.

After this past year, I think I’d add a seventh ingredient to my recipe for a good day: connection with others—something I certainly took for granted back then, in my years of lively inter-blog discourse, and daily breakfast phone calls with Alice, and nature club and Shakespeare Club and Journey North club and group piano classes. How different life is now, rolling into this pandemic’s second spring! Huck and Rilla take piano lessons via Zoom, the same platform on which most of my face-to-face connecting happens these days, in daily afternoon coworking sessions and occasional friend-group meetups.

Avoiding the temptation to overload

In the days when the Rule of Six post was traveling to other homes, it was often tweaked and adapted to fit a family’s individual priorities, which I loved to see. One oft-added item was “exercise,” which I hadn’t thought to include in my vision for my own kids because they were young enough that movement was as ubiquitous as breathing, no matter what they were doing. I see myself moving to add it to the list now, and I hesitate, hand hovering over the page, because I recognize the fine line between enough and overload. Even the urge expressed above to add connection with others risks opening the floodgates to a host of other daily aspirations and habits. I have always had a hard time not including All the Things on any list.

Containers, not habits

A helpful distinction is to understand the Rule as something separate from habits (a topic I also loved to explore in discussions on this blog, back in the day, and with which I remain fascinated and even professionally involved). This past year, I gave a lot of focus to cultivating certain habits—exercise being one of them. It’s perilously easy for me to overload myself with lists of habits I mean to develop, so that over and over I have to remind myself to return to core principles: one simple habit at a time, worked at faithfully for weeks until it becomes automatic. When my children were small, it was easy to allow habit-building a long and gentle timeline: they had their whole lives stretched out before them! With myself, it’s harder to be patient.

Embracing core principles

My old Rule developed out of core values. It began, of course, with Charlotte Mason’s notion that a child should have, every day, “something to think about, something to do, and something to love.” And so I find clarity when I view the items on my Rule list as principles that inform good habits, not habits themselves. The ways in which I (or my kids) encounter beauty shift and change over time; the kinds of meaningful work each of us engages in have changed many times over the years.

And I can see the ways I’ve worked to create habits that support the Rule’s principles, like coaching a child through the formation of a habit for a household chore like taking out the recycling (a kind of meaningful work: contributing to the pleasant atmosphere of the home). I have lots of habits and practices to support my own “meaningful work,” like take a walk between lunchtime and writing time; or write down my top three work priorities each morning. From time to time I have to re-establish good habits around reading (poetry before screens, or no phone in bed) to ensure that “encounters with living books” doesn’t disappear from my list.

And so, as I contemplate my growing sense that I need to Rule-of-Six my own self, I have to keep remembering to focus on the core principles, the containers, not the granular habits that support the principles.

Why this strong urge to revisit the Rule?

I think my old Rule leapt back into my notebook because the pandemic’s limitations and stressors have, inch by inch, shoved me into a space that feels alien and incompatible, like when Mrs. Which accidentally tessered Meg & co. to a two-dimensional planet for a moment, and their lungs couldn’t expand. Perhaps that’s overstating—the essential elements on my list are present in my life, say over the span of a week instead of a day—but still, I’ve been feeling restless, yearning, nostalgic.

I’m off balance: way too much work (meaningful though it may be) and not nearly enough white space. Encounters with beauty: easy, because Portland is a fairyland in spring, and spring lasts for months and months here. But “encounter” becomes too shallow a word when I put it in the context of “encounters with art”—to simply scroll Instagram is to encounter so much deeply beautiful art that I can’t take it in, can’t fully appreciate it. I think back to the time I spent two full afternoons in one Barcelona museum, even though it meant not visiting some other sites. I gave myself time to stand quietly in one room and taste the paintings, not brush past them like people on a subway platform.

And so I remind myself that “encounter” meant a close encounter, a slow one, a deep one.

Carrying my Rule into spring

I can see the ways my ideas have ripened, matured, since I first put it into practice. I can see ways that it has slipped right off my radar as a mother—things I came to take for granted, as givens, or as items on a checklist. Revisiting the Rule nourishes me and reminds me of the core values that inspired it in the first place.

encounters with beauty
encounters with living books
meaningful work;
imaginative play;
big ideas to ponder and discuss;
white space; and, yes, I’ll add—
connection.

So, er, Rule of Seven?

I think connection is important for me to include because it reminds me to step outside myself and make sure I’m letting ideals become actions. And of course connection is a word of immense significance to so many of us who homeschool, whose understanding of education is centered on helping facilitate connections of all kinds for our kids.
Jocelyn Glei urges us to actively schedule time for white space (thinking/contemplating/daydreaming/staring out a window/praying/meditating) immediately after a focused “deep work” session. It’s an intriguing notion! And a wise one. If I meander out to the garden after a writing session, roadblocks I hit in the day’s writing have a way of dissolving into the air. But too often, too often!, I rush directly from a writing session to some other kind of work. In my earlier Rule of Six days, I had an abundance of white space that was organic to life in a household of littles—nursing a baby, or sitting on a blanket at the park, physically tethered and mentally free to roam.

It’s funny to hear myself think: maybe try to be a little less efficient. Stay playful. Fritter more, but fritter well. (Scrolling isn’t frittering.)

If I apply the Rule to myself, it will spill over to my family

Core principles are infectious. If you’re making space for pondering and discussing big ideas, you’re going to be discussing them with other people—most especially the people you live with. If I’m having a close encounter with something beautiful, I can’t help but share it.

The practice of the Rule itself used to provide an opening for discussion, in the days when I would ask the questions at bedtime: where did we encounter beauty today? Or: tell me about the game you were playing in the back yard. At one point I had a side-blog where I recorded our answers and my own observations. At other points, I chronicled them in a Small Meadow Press notebook or on Listography. Just writing that sentence fills me with longing!

I love the feeling of longing because it spurs me to action. And no action could be simpler than returning to my old practice of spending a few minutes at the end of each day sifting through the day’s activities and seeing where they fit into my Rule.

Do you have a practice like this? I’d love to hear about it.

Books finished in the first quarter of 2021

March 31, 2021 @ 8:45 am | Filed under:

Scanning my list, I see some threads:

Books about creative practice

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life by Twyla Tharp
Wild Words by Nicole Gulotta
Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg
Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg
Thunder and Lightning by Natalie Goldberg

Books about habits, project planning, balance

Start Finishing by Charlie Gilkey
Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Books for which I wrote Brave Writer Darts and Arrows

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland
Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Books I read to my kids (and Scott, who listens in)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle

Books of poems / books about poetry

Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku by Natalie Goldberg*
Familiars by Holly Wren Spaulding
Ikkyu: Crow With No Mouth translated by Stephen Berg

* I made a video about this lovely tome for the Book Club tier of my Patreon

And oddly, only one novel read to myself, purely for pleasure

The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden, a treasured re-read—a short novel, it’s worth noting)

As always, I started many more books than I finished. Some of them will make their way onto my next-quarter list. I’ve been enjoying choosing a collection of essays and several books of poems to savor slowly through a season (or two). Right now this includes collections by the Scottish poet Thomas A. Clark and a leisurely meander through Christian McEwan’s World Enough and Time.

Writing booklists makes me want to drop everything and read. But reading something wonderful makes me want to drop everything and write. Writing compels further reading. Research generates new booklists. I have no complaints about this cycle. It’s as thrilling to me as the cycle of seasonal growth and dormancy. Speaking of which—it’s the season for gardening books!

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Here Comes the Sun — Low Bar Chorale

March 25, 2021 @ 7:12 am | Filed under:

I’m so happy to share this with you! Our third Low Bar Virtual Chorale video: Here Comes the Sun, sung by 225 participants from around the world.

We’re making another video in April, and you can be part of it! Look for more information at lowbarchorale.com or on our Facebook page. The next song will be announced at our April 6 “Bowieversary” livestream.

Sunflower and oak

March 16, 2021 @ 8:28 am | Filed under: , , , ,
close view of a sunflower head and a bee coated in pollen

Photo from July 2011

I’ve just had a slender epiphany. For my Patreon yesterday I wrote a post about small projects—how many I have underway, and how satisfying it is to complete them—when it struck me that as a writer and an artist, nearly all the projects I care deeply about and think of as my Real Work are huge in scope.

I write novels, which can take years. Especially historical novels, with their months and months of research.

I have two separate, original, multi-piece embroidery projects underway, and if I thought novels were a slow-burning endeavor, boy howdy. I write at light-speed compared to the rate at which a stitching project develops from a glimmer of an idea to a transferable design to a finished piece hung on the wall. With embroidery, each ‘draft’ on the way to a final piece can take months. Even if, say, there’s a global pandemic keeping me housebound for a year, creating gaps of time where wandering around the science museum or meeting a friend for lunch used to live, my hands and eyes can handle only so much stitching and staring in a given day. And attempting something grand means lots and lots of iterations, lots of experimentation, lots of snipping away errant stitches so you can try something else.

And then of course there’s my epic, my life’s work—the homeschooling project, now in its 26th year, if you begin the count from the spring of 1995, when I began the read-and-research jag that has never stopped.

Pondering this, these large-scale endeavors I’m drawn to, in the context of my being a person who relishes the sudden, the new, the different, the spontaneous, the immediate—I have to laugh. We all live in various states of tension, tugged at by opposing forces (for example, you long to travel but don’t have the funds; or you’re happiest when you’re running but your knees are giving you hell); so the contrast between my nature and my aspirations isn’t unique, but it’s amusing.

Perhaps that’s why I took so readily to blogging and its later incarnations (most social media platforms are vehicles for microblogging, with twists): their quick turnaround, their perpetually changing nature. These forms of expression allow me to share ideas and experiences quickly, and to engage in immediate discourse about any topic that has seized my interest, right away, while the flame is burning high.

Meanwhile, the slow-burning project is simmering away, satisfying a whole different part of me. And it’s the determined part, the part with vision, the molten core roiling deep under the surface.

I grow sunflowers, and I grow trees.

As I said at the start of this post, it’s a slender epiphany—a morsel of self-understanding, not a revelation that changes the course of a river. But it’s a nourishing morsel, a crumb of lembas, that offers sustenance to both my practice of blogging and my larger-scale projects.

The splendid truth (to use Gretchen Rubin’s splendid term), of course, is that sometimes you discover that one of your sunflowers has grown into a towering oak. And some of your trees turn out to be bonsai. Either way, the point is to grow something.

trunk and branches of a large tree

Photo from August 2017. Not an oak.

Through this lens, I can survey my cluttered studio, my open tabs, my Scrivener files, my baskets and bins, and see the garden for what it is: abundance. Life. I grow milkweed, and I grow blueberries, and I grow river birches. (I also, let’s face it, grow a fair share of Bermuda grass.)

What are your flowers? What are your forests?

Dreaming of greasy fries and fruity drinks

March 3, 2021 @ 10:13 am | Filed under:


I’ve been reading a lot of Natalie Goldberg in preparation for a workshop I’m taking this month. She always makes me wild to write, write, write—but reading her this time around, a year into pandemic hibernation, she’s also making ache for coffee shops and sleepy afternoon pubs. Walking down Fremont Street to the sports bar whose back room was all empty tables between three and six, passing the stone retaining wall with the succulents sprouting from every cranny, the yard with the hollyhocks towering over my head, the yard with the two small dogs who tore furiously around the corner of the house to proclaim their hatred and suspicion of all passersby, especially me. Except once when the growlier of the two wasn’t around, and the other dog trotted right up to the fence, wagging, interested, asking for my phone number. The next time I passed, the angry dog was back, insisting on warfare, and our promising friendship was shattered.

Tulip trees and daffodils on the median strip. A pair of shoes neatly lined up next to a port-a-potty in front of a house undergoing renovations. For weeks, those shoes stayed exactly put. Sneakers, once white, now gray, but no scuffs, not much sign of wear. The story behind those shoes—their precise placement beside the blue metal outhouse, not a millimeter out of line with each other—tormented and entertained me during weeks of walks while I was revising Nerviest Girl.

My revision was due in April (2019), and as the weather got lovelier and the spring more exuberant, I found I wanted to walk farther, so I would keep going, past the barber shop, the tiny art gallery, the quiet pub; past Goodwill truck in the corner lot next to the cemetery where coyotes are rumored to make their home; past the family-owned restaurant that got ruined by being declared the home of the best hamburger in America; past the donut shop whose line always stretched out the door and down the block, even in rain. Past pizza parlors and yoga studios and bakeries to—of all places, on that stretch of quirky indie shops—Starbucks. Such a cliché! But a place with good light, where I could park for hours without feeling guilty. I’m not a coffee drinker and I only like good Southern sweet iced tea, but the berry Refreshers are okay, and sometimes I treated myself to an almond croissant. I got buckets of work done at the window tables in that establishment, that spring, summer, fall. And the winter before, and the whole year before that, I spent so many afternoons writing in the dim back room of the sports bar that for a while Huck actually thought I had a job there.

If I got to Starbucks by three, I had a solid hour of quiet writing time before the kids streamed in from the middle-school down the street. Then I would lose long stretches to eavesdropping. By 4:30 the students had drifted out, and the after-yoga crowd would arrive, and parents with small kids on the way to activities, and a few college students meeting their tutors. I usually found another burst of focus and wrote until just shy of six. Sometimes I walked home up Klickitat Street, a very slight detour with hundreds more flowers, and other times, especially in rain, I’d stick to Fremont, and Scott would drive to pick me up, usually meeting me on the long cemetery block.

After Daylight Savings Time ended in the fall of 2019, I stopped making the walk—it got dark so early and my studio was cozier. Then my surgery in February, and I wasn’t going anywhere for a while—dozens of stitches and two black eyes. And then, of course, March. I love my studio and spend a silly amount of hours in here—work, play, rest, even doing ballet lessons on Youtube, using my bookcase as a barre. But oh, how I look forward to venturing out to coffee shops again!

Does the little white dog still loathe the universe? Will the brown dog remember he wanted to be friends?

Are the white sneakers still lined up side by side?

A February recap

March 1, 2021 @ 9:31 am | Filed under:

For such a short month, it sure was jam-packed with projects and activities!

• We (those over 16) got both doses of the Covid vaccine. Wonderboy’s disabilities qualified him and his adult household members. Big relief. The second dose did pack a wallop, as we’d been warned, but a half day of side effects were totally worth it. I’ve never been so happy to have a fever in my life!

• A major ice storm knocked out our power, but only for one night and day. Nothing like the Texas hardships. Lots of tree limbs (and whole trees) came down around the neighborhood. I forgot to bring in my Swedish ivy from the porch and it froze to death.

• I finished a manuscript and sent it off to my agent. We’ll see what we see…

• I completed a major project for my nonprofit client. Lots and lots of reading and review.

• Read A Wrinkle in Time to Huck and Rilla (and Scott, who began scheduling his coffee time around our readalouds). One of the best parts of the month.

• Two weeks after my second dose of the vaccine, I went. to. Trader. Joe’s. My first time inside any building that wasn’t my house or a doctor’s office in a year! It was glorious and weird.

• Wrote my monthly newsletter—it went out yesterday, so if you didn’t receive it, check your filters!

• Books I read: Make Time; Start Finishing; The Kitchen Madonna; Year of the Dog; Big Magic; Writing Down the Bones; Three Simple Lines; Wild Mind (halfway); Do the Work by Steven Pressfield; Familiars by Holly Wren Spaulding; and parts of several other books I hope to finish this month. (Most of these are listed on my Bookshop.org page. And I’ve caught up my sidebar booklist here on the blog.) Most of these were rereads—some of them, I’ve read many times over.

• In bloom (as of yesterday): snowdrops, daffodils, crocuses, the odd hellebore here and there. Oh, and wild violets in the lawn!

Low Bar Chorale’s virtual choir sings In Your Eyes

February 19, 2021 @ 9:48 am | Filed under:

I’ve been meaning to share this all week! Last Saturday, my beloved pub-sing choir (still singing together, sans pub, via Facebook Live events, since last March) unveiled our second virtual chorale video: a Valentine’s-themed performance of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” It delights me that we can make music together even when we’re all scattered in our homes. And once we went virtual, people from around the world began to join us. For this video, we had over 175 contributors from more than a dozen countries.

During the next live show on Feb. 23rd, Low Bar Chorale‘s musical director, the incredible Ben Landsverk, will announce the song for our March virtual choir video. You can participate, if you’re interested! The Tuesday-night FB Live events (every other week) are a socially-distanced way to sing: Ben is onscreen, teaching harmonies and singing, sometimes solo, sometimes accompanied by a video of the Low Bar Chorale Band (which is phenomenal). You can watch quietly or sing along from home, whatever you like. (It’s not a Zoom thing—no one else can hear you.)

So—Tuesday night live shows, viewable in replay videos by visiting Low Bar Chorale’s FB page; and occasional virtual group performances like “God Only Knows” and “In Your Eyes.” Two ways to pour some magical music into your days. I would love to see your face in one of these little squares next time!