PAST RAMBLINGS - 20
(collection of past Homepage greetings and stories)
December 2, 2006   -to-   
April 3, 2007
 

Michael Tomlinson - Past Ramblings
Ramblings 1
3/13/99 - 7/11/99
Ramblings 2
7/27/99 - 1/8/00
Ramblings 3
3/6/00  - 8/7/00
Ramblings 4
9/18/00 -  11/19/00
Ramblings 5
12/17/00 - 4/10/01
Ramblings 6
5/9/01 - 6/25/01
Ramblings 7
07/23/01 - 10/07/01
Ramblings 8
10/19/01 - 2/18/02
Ramblings 9
3/22/02 - 8/5/02
Ramblings 10
8/27/02-12/22/02
Ramblings 11
1/24/03 to 5/31/03
Ramblings 12
7/18/03 to 12/24/03
Ramblings 13
1/11/04 to 5/28/04
Ramblings 14
7/03/04 to 10/1/04
Ramblings 15
11/03/04 to 2/22/05
Ramblings 16
4/01/05 to 7/1/05
Ramblings 17
08/21/05 - 11/16/05
Ramblings 18
12/20/05 to 6/11/06
Ramblings 19
07/19/06 to 11/13/06
Ramblings 20
12/02/06 to 4/2/07
Ramblings 21
5/21/07 to 9/4/07
Ramblings 22
11/9/07 to 3/1/2008
Ramblings 23
5/16/08 to 11/8/08
Ramblings 24
12/11/08 to 09/06/09
Ramblings 25
11/01/09 to
10/21/2010
Ramblings 26
5/10/10 to
12/4/2010
Ramblings 27
4/01/11 to
10/1/11
Ramblings 28
2/1/12 - Fall 2012
Ramblings 29
Spring 2013 - Present
Ramblings 30
Spring 2014
December 2, 2006

Howdy Holidays, my friends.

This morning I was anxious to get outside and show off my new ergonomically correct snow shovel. You've probably seen one - it looks much like a regular snow shovel but the handle has a big bend in it so as to allow you to shovel without stooping so severely. I'm for that, brother. The older I get the more foolish stooping for anything but to pick up hundred dollar bills seems to me. Anyway, I timed my shoveling to coincide with the moment that most of the folks on my street step outside to get in the car and drive to work. I wore fantastic shoveling attire: biking tights, ski goggles, a snug, junior high school cheerleading sweater I found at a Goodwill Store, and my new K-Mart cowboy boots. Oh yeah, I also wore a hat - well, not so much a hat as a bowl. A plastic cereal bowl that fits my skull like it was custom made for my noggin, podna. I listened for front doors to open, knowing that once I got to scoopin' real fast with my state-of-the-art shovel, I'd make quick work of the snow in front of my house. I didn't want to run out of snow before my audience could appreciate me so I waited . . . and waited . . . and whistled . . . and hummed and finally! Two neighbors stepped out almost simultaneously. So synchronized in fact, that it seemed suspicious to me. Hmm. What the hell were two neighbors, three houses apart, doing stepping out onto the porch in exactly the same instant!? It just seemed highly unlikely to me, but then maybe I've been watching too many spy movies. I managed to suspend my skepticism as I bent to my furious-yet-stylish shoveling, wheezing like a race horse and tossing white stuff like a high speed snow plow.

Now, I should tell you something that you may not know about me: I have remarkable peripheral vision. Yessirreee, better in fact that your straight ahead sight. I can see all kinds o' shit way off to the side, the way that, say, an eagle can spot a cricket from a mountaintop. Appearing to be entranced in my work; heaving, scooping, tossing, I was actually searching my neighbors' expressions with my super vision, looking for signs of disbelief, admiration, awe. I knew some combination of these was bound to register once they witnessed my prowess on the snow shovel. I shine in many areas my friends, but I'm practically brain-searing when you look upon my shoveling. Still, there is a darker side to my story: ol' Vanity got the best of me. I'll admit it - I'm a vain snow shoveler. I've done it in front of mirrors my whole life, trying out different outfits, poses, facial expressions. (I can look just like Clint Eastwood when I really get to scooping) Caught up in my own appearances, striking pose after manly pose with my shovel, I forgot that it was Garbage Day and the damned truck came lurching around the corner and slid sideways on the ice, ran clean over my new ergonomically correct snow shovel. And my feet. I mean, for a minute there I had feet shaped like man hole covers, only a little flatter. Fortunately, I wear boots four sizes too large. (I won't go into why I want people to think I have large feet) Man, that rogue garbage truck needs to be taken out! It ruined my cowboy boots forever. Oh, I might be able to cut the toes off and swim in them next summer, but for the most part, they are completely unwearable. For instance, they are absolutely unsuitable for use in singing country songs onstage.

Well, I guess I've strayed from the main point of my story - which is my prowess with the snow shovel. The one thing I didn't mention to you is that my high-tech snow shovel is made of plastic. I know. Is that stupid, or what? My neighbors stood there next to their cars, (suspiciously three houses apart) and laughed their heads off at me and my plastic shovel, broken into a thousand little pieces, and my shiny cowboy boots flappin' around like big ol' pancakes on my feet. (did I mention I found out they were plastic too? K-Mart!!!)

So, the moral to my story is this: Do not create situations for yourself in the snow which are overly self-aggrandizing - even if you are brilliant with a shovel or tool of some sort and even if you look especially fetching and manly doing it. For surely, the Garbage Truck o' Life will come along and flatten your feet in front of every dang neighbor (spy?) on the block. I cannot tell you how humiliated I felt, having my neighbors point and cackle at my boots like that. I am at this moment about to hop into my vehicle and go after as many of them as I can catch. I can only hope that they will pause on a steep, snowy road somewhere nearby, unnerved by the prospect of navigating such a slick, deadly incline, and I'll be able to offer them the special kind of help only me and my big front bumper can give. It's just that it's hard to work the clutch in these boots.

     I played a concert in Denver a couple of weeks ago and it was one of my favorite concerts in recent memory. I rent a small church there every year or two and produce my own concert and this year I had the largest crowd I'd ever had - the beautiful little hall was just bursting with love and laughter that night. I'd looked forward to the concert for some time, imagining a night of songs with the theme of Thanksgiving and that's what came to be. It was easy for me to feel thankful, this last year has brought a sweetheart and much love into my life and the beautiful feelings of love and belonging change everything around me.

I'm aware that this season can bring up so much that feels painful and stressful in our lives and I wanted my songs to be soothing and comforting for a night. It's what I ask sometimes in silent prayers as I sing. I look out at the audience and then ask that something in my music be uplifting or healing for us all. I heard someone once say that every song should cause the listener to feel forgiven. I guess that's the kind of music I always hope to sing.

When it snowed here last week I sat at my window watching the soft storm and remembering my childhood in the Texas Panhandle. Recalling what it was like to be excited about Christmas. When I was seven or eight I used to lie under the Christmas tree and look up through the branches at all the colors and shapes. I loved to squint my eyes and cause the bright lights and reflections to smear into stars. Even then I sensed that there was a way to find the magic in things around us. I guess I felt already that you couldn't just go along and expect the world to seem bright and exciting all by itself, you had to participate in it somehow.

I was watching A Charlie Brown Christmas this week - I hadn't seen it in well over a decade - and I heard Charlie longing for a Christmas that wasn't so commercial. I'd completely forgotten the theme from all those years ago. I'd first seen A Charlie Brown Christmas as a boy in the sixties and it struck me suddenly that people have been bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas for well over a hundred years. Maybe hundreds. How amazing that we can start to think that the feelings we have now, the state of our world, is something so very unique to us.


Welcome to my Home

I watched those sweet cartoon characters I'd loved as a kid and thought about how much has changed in me in the decades since. I'm not nearly so sensitive now, not nearly so innocent. But at the same time, those things have not died in me. There is still something inside me that longs for the magic of a Christmas that is truly about giving generously and receiving graciously; about genuine goodwill to all. Is it possible to feel this when our nation is at war? When even Nature is struggling? I know it seems impossible but maybe it's all the more important that we find those feelings of love and hope and goodwill, those feelings of innocence and magic that we felt as kids. Have you ever thought of nurturing them in yourself again? Have you ever walked around town silently wishing everyone you pass happiness and peace? Have you ever tried it for a whole day? Every policeman, every child, every grocery store clerk, mailman, every news announcer and politician and mom and grandma and even every animal you see?

A day might be too much to shoot for. How about ten minutes? Want to try this? I will if you will. Sometime today, make a mental note that you will hold the wish, the prayer or blessing in your heart for everyone you see to feel happiness and peace and security. Keep it up, don't skip anyone. That overly sluggish, gruff ol' guy behind the counter at the post office? Believe it or not, even him. Wish him peace and love and joy. My suggestion is to do this for ten minutes and see if it makes you dizzy. If it does not, extend it another ten minutes. Then another ten. I guarantee you, at some point you will start to feel a bit delirious with joy. Here's what it feels like, in case you haven't felt it in a while: you'll feel kind of weak in your upper stomach and into your chest. You'll notice that you're almost giggling over nothing. Then you'll notice that you actually are giggling over nothing. Well, not really at nothing, you're giggling at how much you love being a benevolent being, at how much you love being alive. This is something you'd lost track of but now you're remembering it and you simply cannot hold in the laughter. Note: Another thing you possibly cannot hold in is your urine. Sorry, that's just a side-effect of the giggling that is bound to become more and more a problem throughout the day. I recommend that you just let go and enjoy. (another reason I wear rain pants this time of year)

So how 'bout it, my friends? Are you willing to look at everyone you meet and wish them happiness? Don't be afraid to tell 'em if you feel you can. And for that matter, forget all this crap about proper Holiday greetings. This time of year I'm practically bursting at the seams to shout out "Merry Christmas to you!" to folks I see around town. I can't be worrying about whether they prefer Hanukah or Kwanza or Festivus or some other dang Holiday. Name any Holiday you like and yell it out to me, I guarantee you I will take no offense. I'll just slap you on the back like a husky ol' boy and holler "Merry Christmas!" right back atcha. (when I get a little more geezer-like, I'll be doing the full-on Santa Suit)

I'll close now so I can tape the antlers on my pooch and get out on the sidewalk for a little neighborhood socializing. I hope you're doing well. I thank you for checking in on me now and again and for listening to my music and sharing it with your friends. Merry Christmas to you.

Yer ol' fren in chilly Seattle,
 
 ~Michael

January 25, 2007

Howdy my wintertime friends,

I didn't mean to get behind in my wacky monthly website ramblings, but I've just been so busy trying to dress for the weather. It's been a full time job around here. First it was sideways rain, then snow, then high wind and falling trees, then thunder and lightning, then snow again, then sleet and finally, sun. Yes, we have sun here on occasion. I try to take advantage and run outside to stand in it anytime I see it on the ground. All kinds of stuff can be happening around me but brother, I don't leave my sunny spot. So don't go to hollering "Help me!" or "Get it off of me! Please, make it stop!" or nothing like that if you see me soaking up that delicious, pale 43-degree sun on a January day. I may be your good friend, but I won't be able to do much for you 'til the ol' sun sets. As soon as it does though, I'm there for ye, my fren. Unless whatever it is that's all over you is just too scary, in which case, I'll be glad to hand you a rock or something on my way to shelter.

I've recently started recording a new CD and it's an exciting time; slowly watching my songs turn into unrecognizable blobs. I'm serious, I start out with a rather catchy little ditty and the next thing I know, the dang band has turned it into disco. I played the guys a lovely, folk ballad and went to the bathroom. When I came back it was an AC/DC standard.

Despite recent ice and snow, I can already sense spring in the air here. The birds sing differently when they sense warm days and new berries coming. And there are buds already on many trees and bushes. I know our seasons are all out of whack these days, overlapping each other in ways we never saw as kids. By now, if you doubt there is some kind of human effect on the weather, I can only say that you're possibly overdoing the water bong.

Last autumn I hosted a small gathering of folks to talk about what we can do in this time of tremendous weather change to lessen our damage to the planet and atmosphere. I sent out notice to the folks on my mail list and though I got lots of supportive messages, I also received one surly one that started out;

Oh, come on, Michael! Please don't tell me you've fallen for Al Gore's Junk Science!

It went on and on, but I didn't. I choked on my free-range donut. I read a few more words into it and then stopped altogether. I decided I'd rather do something a lot more fun: like step on a rake, barefoot. Instead of wasting my energy trying to respond to it, I typed out what looked like an automatic email response:

I am currently out of the office; performing at a junk science retreat for idiots.
I will return when all imaginary tornadoes, floods, monsoons, hurricanes,
blizzards and blinding dust storms have subsided.

I never heard back from the person who wrote me but if it was you and you're reading this; no hard feelings, podna. I just get sad sometimes when I fly over the mountains and can't find the dang glaciers anymore. I'll bet Al Gore moved 'em.
 
Guitars for Sale

Recently, I was wandering through my basement, just idling away the time until the electricity came back on and I could walk around upstairs without seeing my breath, and I noted the number of guitars I have that I no longer play. There's my Guild 6-string that I played on my first two albums. I even wrote most of those songs on it. There is my Guild 12-string on which I wrote I Will Not Pass You By on and Waves and All is Clear. It's still got a concert song list from the 80s taped on the side that is so old I was still singing the occasional cover tune during my concerts. There are three other guitars, all used on records and on my tours. I've decided to sell them all. You can take a look at them here on my site. They are for sale for US Dollars (as clichéd as they are, they're still my favorite) but I'm open to ideas for barter as well. Take a look at them if you're interested and feel free to write me about them.
mt@michaeltomlinson.com
MySpace
At the request of a surprising number of folks, I finally have a MySpace page. It took my webguy, Brian Dina, a couple of weeks to undo the damage I'd done in trying to put up my own site. Which, by the way, I couldn't regain access too. I put it up, I gave myself a password, I could never get back in. What the hell? I wrote down the password. I typed it in. "No Access." You've probably never had a problem like that on a computer and so you cannot possibly relate.
I don't know that much about MySpace yet except that folks seem to enjoy the community of friends they make and enjoy sharing good books, music, ideas, etc. I'm more than happy to have my songs used on others' sites and I'm hoping my having a page up will help a lot once my new CD is finished. You can find me by typing in www.MySpace.com/TomlinsonMichael  or just by going to www.MySpace.com  clicking on Music and then typing my name in the search box. If you have ideas for me that will help me do a better job of posting a site there, please let me know.
I have several of my CDs available for downloading
at iTunes and many other paid download sites.
The rest of my catalog is in process of being added
and should all be up and available within a few months.
I have so much more to write you about and I'll try to get back to it soon. In the morning I'm flying to Texas to visit my mom. When I return I'll tell you all the really good stuff I left out.
Thanks for visiting me, for spending a little time with me and for listening to my music. Soon I'll have a wonderful new cluster of songs for you to absorb.
I'll leave you with this meandering poem that was inspired by my lovely girlfriend.
I hope you enjoy it.
Your friend in snow/rain/wind country,
    ~Michael

Nothing Else is Enough

She pulled off the main road and parked
Turned the key off and sat for a
Moment in the quiet, following with her eyes
The fog along the shore
Or where the shoreline must lay
Down the long steep stairs to the beach
She reached the sand and the soft give
Of earth under her feet was reassuring
Comforting to a girl who so gracefully
Waves arms and fingers
About the sky, sifting through breezes for
The presence of owls and hummingbirds
Gravity is good too, but not her favorite force
Best when soft underfoot and conforming
Gently to the shape of her
The gradual slope of sand pulls her toward
Water and mystery
It is a natural draw, her own heart as filled with
Mystery as any ocean current
She parts the fog with her presence
It rolls off of her in curly motions
Roiling silently in her soft wake, not quite
Closing behind her because they cannot
Imagine fully enclosing her
The sand shapes to the request of her feet
Even the air seeks to please her
She leaves light footprints in an undulating
Path, weaving slightly to the rhythm of
Roaring waves that crash and fall, sending tongues of
Shining water up the steep shore
To lap at her feet
When she has ventured a specific but
Unmeasurable distance in soft fog
She turns toward the water and discovers
Who called her here from the highway
Insisting that she leave the road and
Walk this wet sand
There are dolphins, scores of them
No, hundreds of them, swimming, leaping, feeding
Pelicans accompany them, soaring, diving
She stands there breathless, chills
Traveling her limbs, heart ignited
What can you possibly do at such a wondrous sight
But cry? Nothing else is enough
After such a long struggle, such a painful journey
Of growth and change and healing
How holy to be blessed with such a
Display of God's creatures and
Watery demonstration of Hope
Love
Gratitude
After a time
She must go and turns to leave this
Magical space when she thinks
Father, are you here? Please show
Your dear daughter your glorious self
And in that instant arises from the sea
The face of a sea lion
Laughing

   ~ for my sweetheart, Patricia

March 2, 2007

Howdy, my pale winter friends.

Have you noticed that there seems to be a tendency for the sun to go down a bit later these days? Apparently, from what I can glean from Sesame Street, that's a natural seasonal progression. After three months of 4:30pm darkness in Seattle though, I tend to forget that it was ever any other way. Now that I can still see my own hand in front of my face at 6:00 in the evening, I'm starting to feel all hopeful again. Why, just three weeks ago I'd stand outside at that time and ask myself, "Shay there dude, how many digits am I holdin' up?" and I'd get it completely wrong. "Uhhhhhh, sebemty-sumpthin'?" I'd answer weakly. It was disheartening to be so terribly off, but in my defense I always thought that you counted knuckles and elbows. That probably explains why I do poorly at Bingo and other complex counting contests. (Man, I love that game, but I just can't master it!)

 Speaking of which, when is the last time you clicked on a link just to read more about Bingo?  Huh?  Well, don't feel too bad about it, I once clicked on a link that said "to find out more about dog shit, click here!" Damn, they got me. I felt like such a fool. It turned out to be just a story about the importance of wearing shoes at the doggie park. There were hideous photos of people in bare feet who had learned their lessons the hard way. I couldn't eat sloppy joes for weeks.

~ Snow & Muffins ~ ~ Snow & Muffins ~ ~ Snow & Muffins ~


The best I could do with what I had

This, my friends, is the last day of February and all morning long I've been watching it snow here. The ground is too warm to allow it to accumulate, but it's still beautiful to see the air filled with wispy snowflakes settling against a backdrop of dark evergreens and early-blooming cherry trees. I put my truck in four wheel drive just in case a couple of those dang flakes stuck together on the asphalt and got me to spinning out of control. Plus, it just felt manly. I know women can push the four-wheel drive button too, just not as good.

 I dressed warmly and tucked my pooch under my arm and drove to the Grateful Bread Bakery, a half mile from my house. They have a partially-covered outdoor area and in the middle of winter I'm often the only person sitting outside. Their outdoor furniture is constructed of a lovely metal grate, so I bring a warm fleece jacket to line one chair for my little dawg, Bungee, and a big parka to place on my own chair. No matter how cold it is I can sit leisurely back and enjoy my coffee and scone and pumpkin muffin and oatmeal cookie and quiche and bagel and bag o' potato chips while I read the paper. Man, that morning paper is a wealth of happy information, isn't it? Ever pick up the paper and decide you will read only the uplifting stories? Good luck. The only wonderful thing I could find this morning was an article about a possible collapse of the stock market. Hey now! I'll be honest though, I had to force myself over and over again not to look at the story right next to it pertaining to some kindergarten kids who bought a baseball bat with their lemonade stand money and burgled a real estate office with it. That's thinkin', kids!


Lookin' for a bit o' quiche

As I enjoyed the paper and my morning coffee, I noticed that people were lining up inside the big front window of the bakery, staring in my general direction. I smiled and nodded, tipping my steaming, gurgling mug towards them, figuring that surely they had recognized me as the famous troubadour who pens sensitive ballads an' shit. It took me some time to realize that they were instead, lined up at the glass to enjoy the vision of my little pooch woofing down big chunks of my quiche in syncopation with each time I'd bury my nose in the paper. When I was finished reading a fascinating story about some rare coins somebody had discovered with their teeth in a donut, I finally reached around the paper for my first forkful of delicious quiche - and my cutlery hit nothing but plate. What!? The plate was slick with doggie slobber and the crowd on the other side of the glass was going crazy with howls and cackles, their contorted faces all smeared against the foggy glass. Bungee took a bow and let out a couple of courtesy barks. Damn, I felt taken. From now on, the pooch gets no fleece jacket on the metal chair. It'll be all cold steel under her little belly from here on out.
 

~ The New CD ~ ~ The New CD ~ ~ The New CD ~

A couple of weeks ago I brought musicians into the studio and began laying down basic tracks for my new album. The working title for the record is The Thrill of the Wind; referring to one glorious time when a brisk Texas wind blew some tumbleweeds up against me in just the right way. Wow. How did it know? Along with my guitar and vocal tracks we began laying down bass (Dan Mohler), drums (Steve Salamunovich) and percussion (T.J. Morris). It was exciting to hear my songs open up in space and rhythm with their accompaniment after so many years of playing mostly solo. 

You never really know when you bring in players if they're going to hear the song the way you hope they will. These guys really understand what I'm after and have brought the wonderful energy and enthusiasm that I'd hoped they would. In three weeks we'll do the rest of the basic tracks and then I can start bringing in other instrumentalists; dobro and lap steel, flute, keyboards, electric guitar and more. No chainsaw on this album, I overdid it in the past, I think.

I have no specific finish date on this record - which is a blessing. I've really taken my time in writing the songs and in arranging them for the band. Each one feels like a home I'm building and it's a joy to be able to get each foundation just right before we move on.

 

~ Sideways Sleet ~ ~ Sideways Sleet ~ ~ Sideways Sleet ~


My front yard this winter

Wow. In this very second I am watching a swirl of sleet/hail fall out my window and blow across the yard. Spring is definitely on the way. I love weather that changes half a dozen times a day. There is just something so invigorating about the glorious shifts of mood and atmosphere this time of year. The way the icy pellets are hitting the bushes and then dancing around makes them look like they're jumping out of the foliage instead of falling from the sky; like popcorn is popping out of the ferns. If I was a little kid, I'd be out there crawling into the deep recesses of the bushes to watch the storm. I still love to watch from only a slightly protected spot, but I'm less of a dirt crawler these days. 

One of my favorite songs on my new record is called Seattle Skies. Only a few times in my life have I been moved to tears while writing a song but when I got to the lines. . .

I loved the thrill of the wind
Oh, as early as I can recall
I thought of weather as my friend
Whether sun or snow or rain
I was born to love it all

. . . tears welled up. I think it was just the gratitude I have for these achingly beautiful seasons we are given on this planet. Weather and the seasons and the natural world have all nurtured me through every era of my life. As a boy I was enthralled by storms and wind and clouds and completely lulled into peace by rain. Changing leaves were a language of their own, I could watch them, listen to them, walk or fall down in them and be immersed in the most beautiful world I could imagine. Something in my young self longed for the achingly lovely mix of happiness and melancholy that came with the dying of the garden and the starkening of tree branches. (starkening didn't used to be a word - but it is now)

To this day I find that my life is not full unless I am exposed to the weather and the evolution of seasons and natural elements. I need to be in touch with them for my own well being. Much of the time there seems nothing we can do about war and illness and chaos. Like anybody, I can lose sight of possibilities and hope, I can lose faith. But then I get up early one morning and hear the sounds of birds singing melodies that are clearly songs of winter transmuting into springtime and I am lifted and soothed and given hope again. It makes me remember that healing is possible in all of us - and then in the world.

Breathing in the wind or noticing the shadows of branches on the ground might seem like small things, but small events lead to powerful changes and great shifts in mood and consciousness. One smell of honeysuckle on an evening breeze can give you delightful dreams all night. And the next morning you find yourself guided to something wonderful because of your mood. A red squirrel running up to you and freezing in place, a foot from you, before scurrying off in a panic can bring a laugh to your lips that lights your face all morning and causes someone to reach out to you and say some important, beautiful thing to you. And you didn't have to do a thing but notice the natural world around you.

Over the years I know I've talked and sang a lot about breathing. About paying attention to it and practicing doing it with awareness. It's just one way, my friends. And it's so easy - and so incredibly effective - that I cannot help but recommend it. But here is another way: take five minutes to stop what you are doing and notice how the natural world, as ragged as it may be in places, is still alive with hope and determination. If you're in a parking lot before you walk into the office, look around you. I'll bet you can see blades of grass and twigs of plants growing in the only tiny cracks we've left for them to touch the earth. Listen to the birds, they are nearly everywhere and excited to be here. I can't even remember the last time I heard a bird sing with sarcasm. Feel the breeze on your face? Is that not the most beautiful touch imaginable? Doesn't it conform to your unique features? To your exact shape and curves? The wind caresses nobody in the same intimate way it does you.

If you cannot breathe yet, if something keeps you from feeling ready to breathe deeply and fully, no problem, my friend. Don't hurry it. Do what you can do. Can you pause just for a moment and touch the bark of a tree or the leaf of a bush? Can you imagine sending goodwill and gratitude to a cloud or a blossom or a child needing love? It's the most natural thing in the world. What happens to me most of the time is that I start out feeling intimately connected to a tree and the next thing you know, I soften up and I'm not feuding with my neighbors any more.

 "Ah, what the heck? Here's your leaf blower back. I'm sorry I stole it and ran over it three times." 

As I was listening to the group of songs that will be on this new album, I was deeply moved to hear what I'd written these last few years and how the seasons and natural elements continue to flow into my songs and stories. I was soulfully pleased to realize that my hope and goodwill is still intact. It's no small accomplishment to overcome all pressures and social expectations toward becoming jaded, sarcastic and disappointed with life. Not that I haven't had my periods of indulgence in those areas - I have. But I am so very thankful that these songs I am recording for you will have all of the love and heart and hope and goodwill in them that my very first album contained. And there is the humanness that comes from surviving long enough to find humbleness. When I was younger I had no idea if I'd always be able to write good songs, but I knew that I would never make a record unless I had a collection of songs that made me feel grateful to be alive. These songs do that for me and I hope they do it for you too.


My love at an earlier date

It's more than the songs and the seasons, though. A year and a half ago, I met a woman who showed me that the kind of love that I imagined as a boy was actually possible. In recent years I had grown to feel that maybe this kind of true companionship was possible only on some other plane of existence. Then I met the beautiful love of my life. She fills my songs with a light that makes them all new again. It doesn't matter where a song came from; happiness, sadness, longing, joy, every song I sing now feels like it came from this seed planted in me that she has watered with her gentle, loving rain. 

You'll know what I'm talking about when you come to my concerts or listen to the songs on my new album. 

In the meantime, thank you for your goodwill and love and for holding me in the spirit of friendship all these years. There is hope for love in your life, there is hope for happiness in your heart. I would never tell you that if I did not know it. Wish it deeply for everyone around you and it will come closer to you also. I'll leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite of my songs - it's called Cherry Blossom Wine. I hope you get wildly, hopelessly drunk on spring fever this year.

    Yer ol' fren in snowy/rainy/sunny Seattle,
 
     ~Michael

Cherry Blossom Wine
©2007 Michael Tomlinson

I was walking on a cool
Kind of cloudy afternoon
Something happens in the spring
I start to drift

Dreams are half-already real
Quiet, waiting to reveal
When at last we have the faith
They can come alive, and will

Oh, the way it all became
Is sweeter than it seems
And everything here was born within a dream
And now you and I are part
Of all that's in this yearning heart
That imagines all these things

She scatters seeds along the ground
She pours some water in a pail
When she sprinkles it around
We all think it's rain

Raindrops streaming from her eyes
Or from the sky, it's all the same
Her benevolence of life
I just live and drink it in

Oh, the way it all became
Is sweeter than it seems
And everything here was born within a dream
And now you and I are part
Of all that's in this yearning heart
That imagines all these things

For a moment I was lost 
In the cherry blossom dust 
Something finally broke spell
I'm going home
I think I'm still a little drunk
On that cherry blossom wine
I can never get enough
I overdo it every time

from the solo acoustic CD,
      Watching the Storm Roll In
Soon to be included in the full band CD
      The Thrill of the Wind

April 3, 2007

Howdy springtime, my friends,

 
I have just returned from what was intended to be a nice springtime walk, but icy-cold rain drops began to pummel me and I had to turn around and scurry back home. If there is one thing I detest doing, it is to have to scurry anywhere. Granted, I'd rather scurry than scamper, but ideally, I like to enjoy a manly, cowpokish stride. But scurry and scamper I did, hoping nobody recognized me all hunkered over like that. I was hatless in the sleet storm and nearly pantless as well - at least from the knees down. I tend to be overly optimistic when it comes to deciding whether it is warm enough to wear short pants. I'll look outside and, if I see no frost on the grass, I'll slip on a pair of shorts and grab a windbreaker and go. My firm rule used to be that I would wear shorts only at 55-degrees or warmer. But my outside thermometer sometimes catches a little temporary ray of sunshine and betrays me. It will falsely read 65-degrees when, in reality, it is just barely above freezing. One day last month I took a look at the gauge, read it's happy proclamation, and decided to dress lightly, summery almost. Ten minutes later I was shivering down the road in my truck, waiting for the heater to kick in, when I heard a radio deejay announce that it is "currently a chilly 37-degrees outside." I grimaced through chattering teeth and slapped at my goose-bumped legs with frozen fingers. Then I made a U-turn, hauled back home and smashed that dang thermometer with my boot heel. I kept them shorts on though; I refuse to change my duds once I'm suited up. (remind me to tell you about the time I wore a tutu to Uncle Albert's funeral) Anyway, my revised plan is now to sit here at my cozy window, looking out on the sleet, listening to the Brazilian strains of Toots Thielemans, and to type whatever comes to me. As you can tell already, it could go anywhere.

Just next to my desk, here in my office, I have affixed to the window sill a platform for my little dawg, Bungee. This is wonderful for her - and for me as well. For her, it is an opportunity to view everything that happens on the street, yard and sidewalk outside. If anything moves - and it frequently does - she will go into full-on little-dog-barking until it goes away. The reason her window platform is good for me is that she cannot get down from it without my assistance. No, I'm not cruel. She has her water bowl there and a fresh cup of party mix. But this window seat comes in particularly handy when I occasionally (as in every time my girl friend is coming over) vacuum the house. Bungee has a complicated relationship with the vacuum cleaner. Perhaps like you do with, say, American Idol. She hates it viciously, but is surprisingly compelled to watch it. She trails it everywhere it goes. She cannot let it out of her sight. For me, this is a huge irritation; working around a little paranoid pooch that is constantly getting wrapped up in the electric cord or yelping because I've stepped back from sweeping the closet and almost trod upon her little head, is a huge pain in the ass. Hence, the window platform with no way down. I recommend you get one for your pooch.
 

My walnut tree
Looking out my window I can see the first signs of buds leafing out on the walnut tree in front of my house. It's a very hopeful sign to me because once the leaves come in, I will spend a great deal of the spring and summer out there swinging in my sky chair; which is a canvas sling-type chair that hangs from a tree limb. If you don't ever get around to sitting in a swing much these days, I highly recommend that you correct this error in judgment. I doubt there has ever been a year in my entire live when I have not plopped my extremely-toned ass (just joking, it's flabby as hell) into a swing somewhere and swung like a little kid, my head dropped way back and my eyes gazing at the ocean of clouds in the sky. I'm serious about this, my friends. You have got to remind yourself of what this is like! Want to break the powerful hold the frantic world has on your mind and body? Just sit in a swing for a few minutes. If you're afraid of wrapping around the overhead bar and falling out, then I suggest you don't swing so dang high, but just sit there and drift for a while. Drifting. That's the key.
 
Recording my new CD
I'm making steady progress with my new CD project. Last week I brought my rhythm section into the studio again and we cut two more songs. It's exciting because the songs are starting to hint at their eventual moods and shapes. I haven't begun to record the "color" instruments, electric guitar, keyboards, dobro, mandolin, horns, etc., but with my guitar and vocal accompanied by bass, drums and percussion, I can already get a sense of where the songs are going.

This project is a big lesson in faith for me. For one thing, I was pretty concerned about producing the record myself, since it has been nine years since my last full band project. I wrestled with what the best approach would be. Some of my players really wanted me to record with a full band; bass, drums, electric guitar and keyboard all playing at once. I had a feeling my songs would get lost in the mix and I didn't want that. I love these songs and believe in them and felt that I couldn't let the energy of a band get carried away and take the songs in a direction that wasn't true for me. So I came up with a plan to do basic tracks with bass, drums and percussion. The players are wonderful, sharing ideas and willingly trying new concepts. It's been a pleasure so far and makes me feel like the love I put into writing these songs is going to be matched by the love and goodwill of the musicians who are accompanying me.
 
Songs for download
For a few months now, my first three albums have been available for paid download at iTunes and Real Rhapsody and a couple of dozen other sites. Now two more CDs are in the mix and soon Living Things and Calling Me Back to the Wild will be up and available for download. Having a fairly large body of work now; nine CDs filled with my songs, it's exciting to know that people the world over can finally find my music when they want it. Distribution in stores has always been difficult for independent artists, but soon we'll be able to type in nearly every recording artist on earth and buy their music. I'll still be selling my CDs on my website and at my concerts - and I'm always happy to sign those for you or for your friends, but I'm also happy that soon you'll be able to order every one of my songs digitally.
 
That dang book
Every so often I try to update the 300 folks who pre-ordered my book eons ago when I thought I was merely months away from completing it. Boy, was I ever wrong. I have never given up on it - and I won't - but I've had numerous times when I was not sure just what it was that I had embarked upon. I went through an especially confusing time after my father died and I just couldn't find any real meaning in what I was writing. I guess that's just a part of grieving and growing. It took me over a year to begin again and I finished a few more chapters before I fell off again. Let me tell you my friends, I now understand why my favorite authors put out a book every decade or so. Whew! Writing stories about your own life is a difficult first book to write.

A few weeks ago I read one of my favorite chapters to my sweetheart - a chapter about being up in the mountains and writing my song, Run Like the River Runs, and it felt wonderful to revisit it and find that it's a chapter that holds up very well and feels like it's written well enough to be a part of my book. It helped also that my girlfriend wrapped her lovely arms around me and gave me kisses all over my face. Well hey! A man needs a little encouragement now and then.

I promise you that I will not forget you when this is done. I appreciate your patience and somehow, I will find my way through this project and surprise you when you very least suspect it with my book.

 

Promise of springtime
This morning I saw a rare sight that would give anybody chills. A magnificent Great Blue Heron was flapping his massive wings across the sky, heading back north for the summer. It was a thrilling sight. You most often see these great birds standing in shallow water, patiently waiting for just the right fish to come along. I only rarely have seen one soaring up in the clouds and this one took my breath away.

Yesterday it was a hummingbird that got me, and the day before, a Flicker; a beautiful red-orange woodpecker. It seems like every day now there are new birds arriving for the spring. My bird feeders are constantly needing attention this time of year. I have one that holds probably two gallons of seed and I've seen times in the spring when I had to fill it daily. It's a pleasure to do and a small price to pay for having a yard filled with warbling, chattering, singing birds all spring and summer.

As you can tell, I'm enthusiastic about springtime. I hope you are too, and if you're not, if you've forgotten what it feels like to step out on a lush spring morning and hear all of Nature singing it's song, I hope you'll make it a point to get reacquainted this year. Thanks for visiting my website and for your support and for sharing my music with your friends all these years. I'll let you know how the record is coming along. And I'll leave you with this poem I recently wrote for my sweetheart after a perfect Sunday afternoon walk in Seattle when no sleet came hurtling down and I did not have to scurry or scamper in front of her.

Your friend in big blossom country,
    
~Michael
     Seasons

It's the kind of early springtime day
When winter is still letting you know that
He is not yet so weak
That he cannot send a chill, rippling wind
Across the land and through the stark branches
Of budding trees
If he wanted, he could toss those early cherry blossoms
Like pink snowflakes upon the grasses
And stones
But willing as he is to send shivers and
Near frozen raindrops upon the earth
He loves the wonder of spring like anybody else
And could not bear to imagine holding
The land hostage to many more cold nights
And frosty mornings
That's the way it is with seasons
We all talk about which ones we love and
Why we love them
What we remember doing that autumn
In Amarillo or that winter in Mon
tana or
Even the summer we swam in the Caribbean Sea
Like otters
What we don't realize is that Winter too recalls
The New Year's Eve when people strung lights
Through the Colorado trees and
Slid down the side of a mountain on sleds
At midnight
Autumn, chuckling, tells Spring about the September when
A group of boys rode horses through Palo Duro Canyon
And galloped like drunk cowboys down the dry creek bed
And Summer has the most stories of all
Constantly bragging about fireworks and campfires and
Watermelons
I mention all this only because it is
Becoming more and more obvious to me that
We are not separate from the Seasons
Today I am Springtime
I am cherry blossoms and chattering chickadees
And front yard grass that already needs mowing
And that Sunday when we walked among the
Towering maples, those scarred and bulbous trunks
Standing like old souls along the street where we
Whispered our beautiful love songs
That timeless, perfect Sunday where I kissed you and
Held you to me a dozen times
That day we were both no more or less than
The essence of Springtime
I have no doubt that She will mention us to Summer
And suggest that He prepare some soft nights for us
Under the stars
The Seasons know true love when they see it
It is as thrilling to them as a fresh spring shower
Is to us

 

   

   

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