PAST RAMBLINGS - 24
(collection of past Homepage greetings and stories)
December 12, 2008   -to-   
September 9, 2009

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
 
December 12, 2008

Howdy Holidays to you,

I'm looking out my window onto the fright of what has become modern Christmas decorating. What I'm referring to of course, are five giant, horrifying, plastic blow-up St. Nicks. Two in one yard, a Frosty and three more Santas in another yard. Apparently, there was a sale at Costco and it has cost me dearly. Does there really need to be a gang of Santas? Now, in order to remain cheerful, I must squint my eyes when I'm coming and going. "Don't see no cheap plastic Santy Claus, don't see no cheap plastic Santy Claus. . . " is my constant mantra.

When I was nineteen years old I took a job working at a Christmas tree lot. A blizzard had come that December in Amarillo and the city was almost shut down for a couple of weeks. My little car died a horrible death and was buried under a pile of snow by the city snowplows, leaving me to ride a bicycle in the crusty snow to work every day. Now, that could have been a deeply depressing thing, but remember, I was nineteen. Nothing could hold me down. I lived in a fifty-dollar-a-month upstairs apartment. My dishes grew moldy in the kitchen sink. All my friends were in college or had great paying jobs. But I, my friends, had freedom - and the new Elton John album, so life was good. I was thrilled to work in the snowy, Christmassy outdoors every day, hauling trees from box cars, trimming them, carrying them to cars and tying them on with twine while little children fogged up the glass in joy. Life had meaning and I was filled with Christmas spirit.

I had very long hair (down to my ankles) in those days and I liked how mature I looked after the snow fell onto it and gave me that streaked, salt and pepper look. Remember when it was fun to look in mirrors? Whee! I couldn't pass one up no matter what was going on. Every shiny car window was a chance to dig my manly countenance and think, "dang! This growin' up bidnis is turnin' out alright!" Of course, when I look back at the few surviving photographs from that era, I do wonder about my astigmatism. It's hard for me now to see the great promise that I felt was reflected back to me from hubcaps and chrome bumpers around town.

I was thinking about those ancient days recently. Caught up in holiday traffic and not really feeling all that merry. I was trying to remember how certain Christmases of my life felt. The one I spent working on Big Mountain Ski Resort in Whitefish, Montana. Several I've spent around a campfire with friends in the snow, on the shore of the Skykomish River here in the Cascade Mountains. The year I was taken blindfolded up a mountain trail in the Colorado Rockies and then put on a sled as lights lit up a slick path through the woods so that I could slide all the way back down the mountain. Those were some extraordinary Christmases.

The traffic was still frozen and, as I came back from my reverie, I realized that I was looking at someone but not quite registering what I was seeing. I looked again and saw a little old lady, the wispiest of figures, stooped over her tiny walker and making the slowest possible progress a person could make and still call it moving. At first, my heart skipped, thinking about her hardship. My mom had sometimes used a walker in her last years too, and I thought of her and how it hurt to see her so slowed down. But then I noticed that this sweet elderly gal had piled a couple of Douglas fir boughs upon her walker. She was making her way home to decorate for Christmas! I was actually getting a lump in my throat when I noticed the most beautiful thing of all; stretched out ahead of her, taut and straight, was a twenty foot leash attached to her miniature, brown and black dachshund! I swear! You could not have imagined a more touching Christmas story than that little pooch tugging like the dickens, helping his sweet old master scoot that walker inches at a time back to their house, where they were clearly going to eat pork chops and decorate those fresh boughs of fir.

I don't even remember driving the last few blocks home. The sight of two of them - two true friends - still filled my eyes. I was thinking how impossibly beautiful it was that someone in her frail, late years of life, had so much Christmas spirit that she would take a trek with her sweet pooch and her walker in order to gather some lush evergreen branches to string with popcorn and ribbons. I'd bet you just anything she didn't have no dang cheap, plastic blow-up Santa at her house.

So that, friend, is my very small Christmas moment for you today. I was blessed getting to see such a sight and now you're being blessed with seeing it in your own mind. I'm hoping that it will touch your heart, give you a feeling of love and joy that in this time of chaos and confusion and fear in our world, there is also a little old lady and her loyal pooch who are going to celebrate the joy and peace of Christmastime, no matter how difficult the task. Maybe we can all do something in these coming days that will spread a little of that hope. Maybe we can touch someone or offer up a smile and a "Merry Christmas" to someone not expecting it at all. It doesn't matter what religion you are - or if you have none at all. Merry Christmas is another way of saying, "I wish you joy and love and a big, soft, open heart this season!"

That's what I wish for you and your family, your friends, your pets, every living thing you see around you. Thanks so much for your support with my music and your beautiful encouragement since I have been so blessed to have found the true love of my life. You have been extremely generous and kind.

Your grateful friend in the land of plastic Santas,
   ~Michael

PS, my love, Patricia, taped, edited and posted two of my new songs on YouTube; Things That I Don't Know & Seattle Skies
 


 
What folks have written about:

      The Way Out West       The Way Out West       The Way Out West

(you may even recognize an excerpt from your own letter)


Michael, just listened to the new CD and OH MY GOD you have nailed down some of the most beautiful songs to come down the line in ages and ages... This New CD "The Way Out West" may be the trophy of all your CD's up to date.
~ Greg

You've caused me to be up two or three times at night humming, playing one song over and over in my car, and now making me start a quest to learn every note of "One Way Through." I suppose if I have to be obsessive about something . . . But dang you, did you HAVE to make it so witty and catchy at the same time? I mean come on, one or the other! Not both IN ONE DARNED SONG?!?!?! ~ Dean
 

Michael, everything from the gorgeous art and packaging, all the way down to the booklet of lyrics, speaks of a very soulful collection of songs. After listening several times, I can't even begin to pick a favorite. Every song is amazing! ~ Anne

I just finished listening to your new CD, The Way Out West, and wanted to let you know how thoroughly I'm enjoying it. The songs are truly a beautiful compilation of lyrics and music. A very moving CD. ~ Harvey

Your CDs arrived in the mail yesterday and I spent my morning drive to work, tears rolling down my cheeks and smiles on my face, listening to your songs. Flag of Human Kindness is a deep and simple and truly beautiful song, one I will share with many friends, an anthem for our times, for our hearts.
~ Jeri

It is a beautiful album, bright, colorful and such a gift to the world, Michael . . . we all just sat in the living room that first night, mostly with our eyes closed, and we absorbed it all into our souls while your music floated around us. ~ Kandi

What a gift you have given the world with your new CD. 'The Way Out West' is a sheer joy to experience. And I must tell you, a truly emotional one at that. ~ Charles

Hi Michael, I received The Way Out West in the mail the other day. Like all of your other cds, and I do have them all, this one did not disappoint me. I love it!!! Your music never fails to remind me that life doesn't have to be like running on a treadmill. ~ Doreen

Hi Michael, Think you should include a pack of Kleenex with your CD or at least post a warning to have some nearby...I can't stop crying while listening...It's rather embarrassing at the gym...try to pass it of as sweat. Thank you for enriching my life with your beautiful music!!
~ Sincerely, Dennis

Dear Michael, today I finally had the time to listen to your new CD from start to finish. It's wonderful, absolutely wonderful! Your new release lifts my heart and soul. ~ Wendy

I have been listening to The Way Out West since I received it a couple of weeks back. It is excellent! It may end up right up there with my long-time favorite Face Up in the Rain. ~ Philip
 

Buying CDs Buying CDs Buying CDs


What if you could get everyone on your holiday gift list something you could be absolutely sure they do not already have? (it's only available to my mail list up till now) And better yet, something joyful and rich that would comfort and inspire them? Yep, I'm talking about The Way Out West. It's an album for everybody, every age and walk in life. I've heard from kids and teenagers who love it - and people in their late 70s.

Also, if you need several gifts, on my CD ordering link there is a special category called, The Hunnert Bucker, where you may buy 10 copies of any one title for $100. That is a discount of $70 and allows you to give to ten of your friends and family for only ten bucks apiece. Plus, when you order, if you give me the first names of the ten you wish to give to, I'll sign and personalize each one.

If you don't like online ordering, you may go to the printable form or the Hunnert Bucker printable form print it out a mail-order form and pay with a check. And if that doesn't work for you either, just email me. We'll work it out.

NOTE: if you want a copy of my new CD but are going through a difficult financial time, just email me and we'll work it out so that I can send you a copy now and you may mail me a check a little later, when you can. It's a small gesture, I just know that my music has been a good friend to a lot of folks over the years, and if you want it I'd like you to have it - whether I'm paid yet or not.

email: mt@michaeltomlinson.com

January 29, 2009

Howdy my friends, after weeks of snow and rain and ice and wind and floods, it occurred to me that it might be about time to wash my truck. I know, it sounds insane this time of year, doesn't it? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no finicky car owner. I once drove a car seven years without washing it. Even went two years without checking the oil, but that turned out to be a costly mistake. Anyway, I've recently begun to notice people starting to stand and gape whenever they walk past my vehicle, so I thought maybe I should hose 'er off a little and scrape some of the muck off the undercarriage. Yesterday I drove to my favorite self-car wash. I say "favorite" because it's the only one I can ever remember how to get to. There were half a dozen other tortured souls there too, all sprayin' and scrubbin' away, not for themselves, but for the benefit of family and neighbors, I'm sure. There was a measure of satisfaction in our shared misery and I made it a point to nod knowingly every time I'd catch someone else's eye who was also chipping away at hard sticky stuff on the bumper.

My pooch does not like car washes. She does not like to be enclosed in a vehicle when there is a fan of high pressure soap scoring the paint and blasting the windows. I've tried holding her while I do this, but it is incredibly awkward to do and besides, it looks like I'm using her as a scrub brush and I get lots of honking and angry yelling from folks driving by. Of course, I'd never use my little Bungee Dawg as a scrubber. Though I'll admit that I did once sop up some water in the kitchen with her. She didn't mind, it was a hot day and the water was clean.

I always try to insert as few quarters as possible whenever I go to the car wash. I could easily go to a real car wash where the vehicle goes through a shower and workers dry it off and vacuum it out, but that wouldn't be manly. I don't even know why I think that. I believe it dates back to my father and how he never paid anyone to do anything he could do himself. Though I don't go that far - I'm happy to pay someone to cut my pizza into bite sized pieces, for instance - I do somehow associate washing one's car with the act of being a man. Please don't question me too extensively on this, I'm aware that it's sexist and cannot be backed up by any logical thinking. Still, it's just me against the machine that eats my quarters: machina a mano. You absolutely have to put in a minimum of $2.75 just to begin. Which is stupid, I think. What about all the business they're missing with people who just have a little something to spray off, a coke spilled down the side of a car door, a big squishy dog turd smashed into a floor mat? These are matters which, if a person could pop in say, fifty cents, and spray off in a minute, I think would be considered a highly valued public service. But no, you've got to put eleven quarters in just to spray anything at all. Years ago I could do a whole car on that initial investment. I'd strategize before I put in the quarters and get a running start. Sometimes, and I swear this is true, I'd stop first as a gas station and, using the windshield squeegee, would give the entire car a quick going over. Bumpers, fenders, hood, trunk, windows and doors. Other gas customers would look at me in awe. Then I'd dash next door to the car wash, put in my eleven quarters and whisk that puppy clean as a whistle just as the last mist leaves the pressure nozzle.

Well, imagine my disgust yesterday, my uncontained irritation, as the warning beeper started in after only getting the front end washed. I'm not kidding one bit! I ran back and stuffed in four more quarters. If you wait until the water stops, you have to do the whole eleven quarters again and there was no way I was going to be that stupid. You should have seen me. I was running in circles around that car. Switching out from wetting down to running that awkward soaping brush-on-a-hose that they force you to use, I doubt anyone could even see me, I was moving so fast. Then the beeping started again and I couldn't believe I had to put more quarters in it! A big handful. I hurried back to the nozzle and started spraying away huge piles of soapy bubbles. Unfortunately, I noticed something I hadn't before: my wheels. Now, a really manly man, a man raised on Nascar and overhauling his own engine, will tell you that a car with dirty wheels and tires is a shameful thing to drive. I didn't know this for the longest time. I thought you could get the paint and chrome clean and shiny and that was that. But no, my friend, Carson, informed me one time as he looked pityingly at my tires and bent down with his own scrubber and began to scrape away what he clearly thought was the most shameful part of my character. He even had a special soap for wheels and tires. Really? There is a special soap?

So what I'm trying to tell you is that I cannot forget that day. And so now I feel less a man when my wheels are dirty. As I sprayed off the last of the soap and grew proud that I was not going to have to put in any more quarters, that damn beeper started up again. My wheels were not nearly clean. I don't know how they got greasy, do you? Have I been driving over hamburgers? Pork chops? I just drive regular streets and stuff man, I don't drive down no alleys where they toss out french fry grease. I reached into my pocket and pulled out another dozen quarters and stuffed them all in, cussing the damned machine as I did it. "What a scam! The sign says, 'self car wash - $2.75!' but you couldn't even wash a bucket for that!"

I worked on those wheels until the beeping began again. After the first beep you have about thirty second left. I went into triple high-gear, running that soaping brush over the wheel I was on and dashing to the next one like a gazelle. Then the pressure went off. I had no choice but to accept that I am not much of a man. Those greasy soap bubbles were all the proof needed. I had no way to wash them off. I knew guys all over town were going to be laughing at me, pointing, pronouncing me a pansy. But there was no way I was going to go for more quarters. I just put on my sunglasses, pulled up my collar and held my pooch up by the steering wheel. I gunned that engine and took off, running over the soaping brush, water and soap spraying in my wake. I leaned my seat way back so I could see just under the wheel and let the whole world think my dog was driving that dang greasy, soapy truck. Instead of laughing at the half-a-man spraying soap bubbles, maybe people would just think it was a pretty smart dog driving that rig.

This part I really don't want to admit to, but if I'm going to ever get through all twelve steps, I guess I have to fess up. Hi, my name is Michael and I just spent nine dollars and seventy five cents at the car wash.


Videos on YouTube.com Videos on YouTube.com Videos on YouTube.com

 


with my true love on Orcas Island

Though none of the above seemed to have anything at all to do with it, I'm very, very happy to have just released my CD, The Way Out West. My sweetheart, Patricia, has produced three videos of new songs and posted them on YouTube. It's been great fun to collaborate together and to find that we can create something visually beautiful and interesting to accompany my new songs and help share them with the world.

If you could see us at various film locations, me, the mule carrying all the gear and my guitar, constantly checking my nose in the mirror for "stuff"; her, contorting into the most bizarre positions possible for that perfect camera angle, well, you might think we were a circus. We try to keep unsightly things out of the frame, but every once in a while there is a little flaw. (like the distant dog taking a poop in one of the videos - I'm not telling you which one, though) But the outcome has been something we're really proud of and I hope you'll take the time to watch them. If you enjoy the music videos, please pass the links on to your friends and family on your mailing list. We need lots of help getting my new music out there in the world. Below are the songs and YouTube links.


~In Honor of Barack Obama~ ~In Honor of Barack Obama~ ~In Honor of Barack Obama~

Flag of Human Kindness Flag of Human Kindness Flag of Human Kindness

 
 
Like so many millions of people in America and around the world, I feel deeply blessed that we have Barack Obama as our new president. When he speaks I hear love and honesty, honor and integrity. I hear a calm center. These are qualities I admire in anyone. To have a president who embodies such qualities is beyond our dreams.

I look at our new president as a brother, a father, a leader for our nation. Not someone who will do it alone. Someone who will inspire us to do the right thing more often in our lives. Someone who has long seen the value in neighbor helping neighbor and who still does. That is what we need in our neighborhoods and cities, in our nation. We need to remember that we are connected, a part of something together. And that we are the change that we are waiting for.

The first time I played Flag of Human Kindness for Patricia we both wept. I knew then it was a song I needed to share on the new record. It took many months to find a way to record the song that gave it the emotion I felt when I sang it. In recent weeks Patricia and I have wondered how to present it in video form so that the images do not define the song, but compliment it, help the message to be received on a deeper level. She spent many hours editing, exploring images and ideas, sharing with me each version until she'd found exactly what we both felt was a beautiful accompaniment to my song.

For months we'd imagined it as a tribute to Barack Obama but we did not realize it would be ready precisely on the day he was to become our president. Patricia posted it on Inauguration Day, 2009. Please watch and listen to it. Maybe a few times. If you love it and feel that it is something beautiful to share with others, please send a link to your friends. It is my hope that it is a true reflection of our growth as human beings in this nation and an inspiration for our new beginning.

And may I say to any of you who did not choose Mr. Obama to be our president, I understand your feelings. More times than not in my life the candidate I voted for did not win. Whenever that has happened, I have always said a prayer, asking God to help make this person a magnificent leader and to help me to be able to support him. Whatever your previous feelings, I ask you to be a part of this new great swell of hope for humanity and even life on our planet. Don't waste one second on nay saying or being cynical. Instead, imagine having a trust that something very good can happen, that we can now become more connected to each other and more and more a part of this whole world of humans and other living things. Imagine that we, you and I, can become better human beings than we have been in the past.

Thanks for visiting, my friends. I'll leave you with the lyrics to Flag of Human Kindness. I hope you find something there that you can relate to and that brings you into your heart.

Your friend in frosty Seattle,
   ~Michael

 

Flag of Human Kindness
©2008 Michael Tomlinson

From the wild Alaska sky
To the muddy Rio Grande
To the stormy shores of rocky Maine
There lies a country

I was born here in this land
Under the flag of hope and freedom
Now it seems such a faded dream
Like a dream that's lost it's meaning

In the early morning sun
There are many men and women
Waking up in more ways than one
To say where are we going?
Where are we going?

There's a time in every life
There is an age for every nation
When her patriots must stand aside
And say, "first, we are human"
Are we not human?

And in the dawning of this hour
And in a clear, undoubting voice
If we can still this ever raging noise
For our human race
I know we must
Who will mend this weary place?
It's surely us

We can cast our bitter blame
Or we can just do what is needed
Pray the embers that still remain
Become once more a beacon

It's not us against the world
No, it's everyone or no one
There is a braver flag to unfurl
It's called the Flag of Human Kindness
Human Kindess

And in the dawning of this hour
And in a clear, undoubting voice
If we can still this ever raging noise
For our human race
I know we must
Who will mend this weary place?
It's surely us

April 11, 2009

Howdy my friends, I was taking one of my springtime urban adventure hikes around Seattle the other day and just at the end of my three-mile route, came upon a steep stairway of two-hundred steps. Really, it's more like a mossy, concrete ladder, so nearly straight up it goes. There was a time when my pooch and I would head up that dark incline in a race with each other but she's a little older now and in the last few years I've started carrying her little fuzzy self up those slippery steps. She's come to expect this and sits there on the first step gazing off nonchalantly into the distance, confident that I will take care of all her travel needs.

As we were approaching the stairway I heard the sound of two boys' voices up above. I couldn't make out what was being said but it seemed a somewhat emotional exchange. I looked up through the leafy corridor and saw what had to be two brothers. There was no mistaking the resemblance between them, but even more solid proof than noses was the exasperated whine the younger one was emitting as he and his brother were attempting to lug their bicycles up the difficult steps. Young boys only dare that pitiful style of whimper in the presence of family, they would die before they would let a school mate hear them do it.

The elder brother, from the irritated expression on his face, thirteen if he was a day, was managing his portage fairly well. Pausing every five or six steps, but making definable progress. The younger, about eleven from the tone of his whining, was doing all he could just to lift his bike up a step at a time. Sometimes he couldn't even make that, straining and groaning and whimpering as he tried to clear each unforgiving right angle and gain another eight inches. "I tole you I couldn't!" he hollered up the hill. He was less than thirty steps from the bottom. We're a week into April. According to my rapid calculations, using a stick in the dirt and all my toes, I estimated that he'd be mid-May reaching the summit. I don't have children but even I know that's too many weeks for a child to be out riding his bike.

I reached down and snatched my little pooch off the ground, allowing her to ride on my forearm like she always does, her warm belly resting against my skin and four skinny legs dangling in mid-air. Then I took the steps two at a time until I reached the exasperated little boy, so nearly inconsolable he was close to tears. I didn't want to embarrass him by making a big deal of his predicament so I just said quickly, "Here, take my pup, I'll haul your bike up the rest of the way," like it was a trade and very possibly one in which he was doing me a favor. I wasn't positive that he'd go for it, since I remembered my own mind as a little Texan who thought letting on that a task was too much was the same as calling Uncle! His eyes opened wide and he gasped as much of an "Okay!" as he could manage. "Hold her very carefully, now," I said, then I heaved his mountain bike up on my shoulder, momentarily shuddering under the weight. With my eyes bulging unnaturally I began to trudge infinitesimally upward, much as a tree sloth would, only less quick. It was a heavy bike. Don't ever buy your kid a bicycle that says, Made in Mongolia.

I've climbed those stairs for over ten years now, and even without thirty pounds of cast iron on my shoulder, I'm huffing and oozing sweat by the time I reach the top. With that awkward, dead weight draped over me at back-stabbing angles, I felt like a man caught mid-torso in a bear trap. What if I lost my footing on the slippery moss steps and fell backwards? In that tangle of wheels and metal tubes and handlebars, would there be anything to stop me before I clattered and howled all the way to the bottom, trying to cough up a bicycle pedal in time to warn the UPS driver hurtling over me? Well, maybe I get a little over dramatic sometimes. I really did start resenting the eleven year old though - in a way unbefitting a man my age. What a lazy, good for nothing little tyke! I thought for a second, but then reasoned that I was a kid once too and so, with super effort, I reined in my terror and reminded myself that I could do this, that I have a so-so equilibrium and am certainly capable of lugging heavy metal up a hundred and seventy steps if need be. Anyway, it's uncalled for to curse a child and blame him for my life-long fear of abrasions.

I commenced to using all fours for steadiness, reaching out with my front knuckles to graze the stairs before me for steadiness and my powerful hindquarters to lift. I felt almost simian and much more at home in the mossy forest that way, as if I were climbing an ancient pyramid. Halfway up I grunted wordlessly past the second brother and prayed he wouldn't look directly into my eyes. I had no idea what my animal instinct would force me to do. I hoped at worst I would give him a King Kong roar.

Finally, I reached the top, then stood on my hind legs, wheezing, hacking, chest heaving and knees shaking. It was much harder than I'd imagined it would be. Through blurred vision I watched as the little boy made it up those last few steps and handed me my somewhat shaken pooch. I had to reach out three times to grab the real dog. Then the boy said, "Thank you, mister. I don't think I coulda made it if you hadn't helped me." Man, when a kid thanks you, it will erase all kinds of mean, blameful thoughts and unfounded fears. I felt like doing it all over again just to hear that kid thank me twice.

The boys rode away on their heavy Mongolian bikes and I was extremely pleased that I'd gotten them home before mid-May. Bungee looked mightily relieved but also somewhat scornful of me. Apparently, she'd been unsure of the trade arrangement and thought maybe it was permanent. I don't mean to do things like that, but sometimes you just plain forget to explain to your dog the whole situation in all it's facets. I'm sure I'm going to hear all about it in the truck on the ride back home.


Back when I first began writing these silly ramblings on my website, about 1996, I believe, there were not so many places for people to go and read personal stories and thoughts. Of course, blogging became massive and now that everyone you know is writing their thoughts online, it is less of an event to check out individual websites. Still, I'm really pleased that you do occasionally visit mine. It makes me happy to write you and to share stories. I think of the folks who listen to my music as friends in spirit and so this large and varied and growing community we share of goodwill and great heart is real and important to me. Thank you so much for being in it and for reading my stories now and then.

If you are on one or more of the social networking sites and would love to post my songs or videos, please do. You have my permission and I'll happily write you to give you that if you like. I need your help and welcome your willingness to share my music with your friends.

My beautiful sweetheart, Patricia, and I are working on two new music videos for posting online and on YouTube. We hope to finish Valentine and One Breath soon. We've had such a good time creating the ones we have. I'm an immensely fortunate man that my true love believes in my music and wishes to get it out all over the world. We have a lot of fun making these videos of our travels and day to day love.

In this strange and beautiful time we're living in, I hope you are well and that you are taking deep breaths, loving yourself and sharing the overflow with the people and living things around you. Thank you so much for visiting.


Your friend in sunny Seattle,

   ~Michael

Seattle Concert, May 2 - Sunset Hill in the neighborhood of Ballard. Bring the
most folks and you'll win a complete autographed 11-CD set of my music.

I'm beginning to receive radio play and Internet play for several songs on The Way Out West. Soon I'll have a list of those up and would greatly appreciate your help in thanking these stations.

My new CD and most of my earlier records are available for downloading at iTunes, RealRhapsody and several other paid download sites. If you already have the albums, it's an easy and inexpensive way to share an album or even a single song with a friend. For 99 cents you can send a friend a song you really want them to hear. 

July 11, 2009

Howdy my summertime friends,

I have become a man with many dogs…and two of the worlds largest cats. You know about my little pooch, Bungee. Many a story has been posted on this site over the years that describes some event involving my loyal pooch. We were lonesome ramblers, Bungee and me, wandering and reporting our adventures. And then of course, I met the love of all my lifetimes, Patricia O'Driscoll - who just happened to have animals galore that have now become my animals as

Kobe
photo by Patricia O'Driscoll

well. There is the magnificent Golden Retriever, Kobe, who is wise and kindly and actually the most compassionate animal I've ever met. But he is also a basket case in many ways. Kobe fears things most dogs don't and you cannot always recognize them in time, in which case you may not have a chance to tighten your shoulder muscles before your arm gets flung like a whip and King Kobe has turned and hauled ass the other direction. For example: Patricia had taken him to a park a few days ago. There was a children's birthday party going on and someone called out for her to come over and visit. She walked toward the party smiling that radiant smile of hers which, upon noting certain dreaded no-nos at the party - Balloons! - became a grimace of terror. She frantically turned to cover Kobe's eyes but was, tragically, too late. Kobe, a 90-pound golden for whom pretty balloons bring night terrors, had stretched the leash and Patricia's arm to twice their normal length and was already halfway home. Patricia, being hurtled horizontally out of the park, was unable to adequately explain to her friend why she must leave yesterday.

Then there is the highly friskilated little King Charles Spaniel, Lula. Also known as "Lulee", "LuLu", "Doody-Do" and "Don't Do It, Doody!" The latter is the one most often uttered around here. We just watched a segment on a dog show pertaining to King Charles Spaniels and their history and their nature and temperament. They are said to be the sweetest breed of dog around. And this is true. She is mighty sweet. But nowhere in the program did they mention fetching. This seems to be a singular aberration belonging, not to the breed, but to Lula and she alone. One dare not say any word that would describe a round, circular, spherical object of any kind smaller than the earth or there shall be no rest forever. Of course it started with a ball. (which I shudder even daring to type here - she is in the house now and though I have no reason to believe she has attained a comprehension of the written word, I cannot with confidence rule it out.)


photo by Patricia O'Driscoll

As I say, it began with "ball." (whispered) Oh, how very innocent seeming the word once was. A tennis ball to be specific. But oh, how we rue the dreaded day Patricia originally thought it might be fun to toss a fuzzy little yellow-green orb down the hall and see if Lula might want to chase it. A monster was born. Not monster like you're thinking; hoary, slime-drenched, gaping jawed beast of swamps and caves. No, this is something far worse. I'd take one of those swamp monsters in a second over "Don't Do It Doody!" when she's got fetching in mind.

We found that there is no good way to end this game of throw, throw, throw, throw, throw, heave, toss, roll, gasp, nudge - until your arm is falling off. In fact, hoping to wear out the sweet natured fetching-junky, Patricia acquired one of those plastic throwing arms with a cup on one end for the ball, made so that you could throw long distances and wear out a dog much faster than with your very vulnerable human arm. She almost had to go to the hospital after one session of throwing with that device. It seemed not to tire "Don't Do It Doody!" in the least. Patricia's shoulder was so wounded that the contraption has never been used again.


photo by Patricia O'Driscoll

Hiding the ball was tried early on but something almost otherworldly exists between "Don't Do It Doody!" and that damned tennis ball. She uncannily knows where it is! I can understand her sniffing it out behind the couch or in the clothes hamper - or even flushed down the toilet as I have done in frustration - but on top of a seven foot tall refrigerator? She's not even a foot tall but I swear she found it! She was in another room sleeping one morning and I was up early and saw the ball. I looked around and frantically lunged for it, hid it in my shirt and looked around for some place that she might never find it again. Standing on my toes, I reached back toward the middle of the top of the refrigerator. I placed the ball there. To my utter horror, later that morning she was clawing enamel off the front of the refrigerator door, looking toward the top and whining and growling. Oh yes, that's the other thing, this sweetest of sweet creatures growls when she wants you to throw the ball. So you're looking at this delightful creature at your feet, all softness and prettiness, and she curls up one side of her lip like little Elvis, and growls, looking from the ball to you over and over again until you give in and toss it. Currently, there is no resolution to this horrifying dilemma.

photo by Patricia O'Driscoll
There are also cats. Now, when I say "cats" you're thinking kitty cats. I'll guarantee you're not thinking of Cooley. Unless during a jog in the ravine you've encountered a cougar, you have never seen a cat outside a zoo the size of Cooley. There are two of these large cats and if you only saw Jimmy Fi-Fitty (named so because he cost $550 when he was a tiny kitten), your comment would lean toward beauty. That, despite his size, being the most dominant feature of Jimmy Fi-Fitty. He is a mostly white cat with a soft gray raccoonish mask and you look at him and know for sure that he must have descended from royalty. Cooley is beautiful in a different way. He is BIG beautiful. Cooley weighs 28-pounds. You got that right, podna. A 28-pound cat can do what he wants. If you're lying on the couch reading the paper, Cooley will walk right up on your body, under the paper and up your chest and purr right in your face. Then he'll plop down and that's where Cooley is hangin' out for a while, my friend. He currently has been groomed in what is called a "Lion's cut" and it is somewhat intimidating to see a 1/10 scale version of an African Lion walking around the house.

When Cooley is not wearing his summer Lion Cut, he looks at least twice his real size. Repairmen visiting Patricia's house have been known to see Cooley saunter into the room and actually jump, holler and scream out, "What is that?" It's happened. Cooley and Jimmy are Ragdolls. That's an actual breed of cat and they are known as the most docile and calm of domestic cats. That is the luckiest bit of news I can possibly imagine because if they weren't, well, I might not be here to write this.

So this has been just a little trip into my life and the animals that have adopted me since I found my true love. My sweet Bungee Girl is doing very well and has grown a little more independent with age. Let's just say she's figured out that she can take her time when I say, "come!" and there are no real consequences to her dawdling. But isn't that really something we all earn if we live long enough? Don't we earn the right to not jump quite so high or come quite so quickly when demands are made upon us? Patricia tells me that she and I have entered the "Ointment Stage of Life." I think I've also entered my "I think I'll just kind of take my good ol' time getting there" stage as well.


Thanks for checking in on me. If you scroll down I'll tell you a bit about the progress with my newest CD, The Way Out West. And I've written something I hope my serve you in these unusual times we're living in. I hope you got a few chuckles out of my story telling today.

Your friend,
  ~Michael

Most of you know that I released a new full band CD a few months ago called, The Way Out West. It's music that means a lot to me. I spent two years in the studio working steadily and lovingly on bringing this new recording to life. The response from folks who've bought it has been extremely strong and it's been such a good feeling to know that people who loved my very earliest music love this new music as well.

Promotion is a slow process, but Patricia and I are steadily finding more and more places to send the CD. There is so much that is different in what is left of the music bidnis than when I used to release my music with record labels out of LA and distributed around the world. Now, almost all the music store chains have closed and fewer CDs are sold every year. Still, there are many millions of folks buying CDs and I hope I sell many more of this one in the coming months. For independent artists, word of mouth and visitation to our websites is really important. So thanks to those of you who've told others about me.

Patricia has posted four songs on YouTube from the new CD and we've gotten really good response. We've created these together, driving around beautiful places and imagining scenes and how we might present my songs visually and still allow the song itself to tell the story. I think we've done that very well and I'd love you to see them. Several major online radio stations and music organizations have featured some of our videos and there are others who are about to. If you haven't seen them, please click on these links and view them. If you like the videos, we could really use a great comment or quote from you.
The record has been getting some great reviews in Europe. Many of them are in foreign languages so I've put the text into Google and had some of them translated. One of the best reviews was by Wolfgang Geist, a very well known music reviewer for RockTimes, who called The Way Out West, one of the "Top 10 Albums of 2009".  - I hope it holds up the rest of the year.

Another review, from Mass Music in Denmark, calls The Way Out West a "flawlessly produced record" which he says is so good people should go out and purchase it without even hearing it first. - I love a recommendation like that.
ALSO:, I've recently been asked my Sony Television if I'll agree to the use of my song, Sunlight, to be used in an episode of The Young and The Restless which, I believe, will be aired this August. They have nearly 5-millions viewers per episode so I'm excited to be given the exposure. I'll let you know when I know the air date.

Thank you for taking the time to visit.

It means a lot to me that the folks who listen to my music also check by now and then and see what I'm up to. I know that everybody in the world has a blog now so it's not the big deal it once was, but I just enjoy taking some time to make you laugh and let you know that I'm glad you're out there in the world.


playing on Orcas Island last fall

Speaking of the world, it's a time of great change and none of us knows what is really going on and how it may evolve. If ever there was a time that called to us to be open to change and ready and willing to live differently than we have in the past, this is it. Just as happens with your own body when you eat or drink too much, when you don't sleep enough or have too much stress in your life over a period of time; there must always be a leveling. A cleansing, a period when balance is restored. To me, that is much of what is happening in the world. I don't see it so much in terms of good and bad as in terms of what works and what doesn't. Ways of living that only take, that only are concerned with personal gain or fortune or freedom, by their very nature require too much energy to maintain for long. In this new balancing that is happening, in our economy, in our earth's cycles and atmosphere, in governments and corporations and in religions and communities; there is a restructuring that is beyond any one person's power to control. But I deeply believe that as humble, open minded, loving and compassionate human beings, we can each be guided in ways that will help us live with a sense of well being and kindness in this time and find ourselves grateful for what has come and what we are learning.


photo by Patricia O'Driscoll

If you don't already, please begin to breathe. Breathe in a new way. Breathe mindfully. Breathe gratefully. If you don't really know what that means, just trust and breathe. I'm going to tell you something here that sounds like I must surely know a lot. It's not that at all. If you ate a great sandwich and told me the cafe where I could find it, I too could enjoy one. That's all this is: If you will begin to pause when you feel stressed or afraid, or angry or lost, and breathe quietly for a moment. One breath, two. As many as you can muster at that time. I promise you that what fills the space where your anger and pain were will be something else, something of a higher vibration. What is that? Maybe you will feel it is God's presence. Maybe you will feel it is your childhood grace returning. Maybe you will feel it is a sense of peace and calmness. Maybe all it will be is NOT your anger or your fear or your pain. But I promise you with all my heart that this works. It's no trick, it's how humans were created and it has always worked to some degree and in some fashion. You and I don't get to judge what that is or whether something substantial happens. That is where faith comes in and will always be a mystery. But if you will try this for a while, a time will come when you will know for certain, as I do, that something good always, always happens when you breathe and pause.

Be kind to yourself. Take some moments to experience what is outside. Lean against a tree or lie on the ground or go barefoot or just stand at your window and watch a cloud. (and don't tell me you see one that looks just like a unicorn - that's just silly)

I hope this summertime is good for you and that you have a magnificent autumn heading your way.

Your friend,

   ~Michael

Sept 6, 2009

Howdy My Friends,

Ever since I was a boy there was something about September that would cause me to take a big ol' sigh of joy. Which was strange because I was born with what they call "calendar syndrome." Which is a disorder that causes you to see the months of the year backwards. To me, the month when school started each year was Rebmetpes. Doesn't that have a more romantic feel to it than plain ol' September? I loved all the months, Yam, Yraunaj, Rebotco, especially Enuj, because that was the month that school let out. Fortunately, I read most other things forward, which is a big help when you're driving and texting like I am right now. I'm typing out this new rambling as I cruise in the HOV lane of I-5, heading into downtown Seattle for pancakes. (Man, I love me some midnight pancakes!) The way I get by with taking the 2-persons-or-more HOV lane is pretty clever. See, I just.put sunglasses on my pooch. She's only 8-pounds, so if anybody looks close, they will figure me out. But so far, for thirteen years I've been able to take the express lanes with just my pooch in the car. Her little Ray-bans are darling.

The leaves of the big walnut tree in my front yard are starting to turn yellow already. I was sitting out in my sky chair yesterday, alternately reading and just gazing up into those big leaves. As much as I love autumn, I sure hate to see those leaves go each year. Walnut trees spread out expansively. So all spring and summer and early fall I have a vast shady canopy outside. I've got two canvas sky chairs hanging from branches and it makes the most cozy place to read and visit with a friend. My sweetheart Patricia and I sit out there sometimes and play footsie just 'cause we can't help ourselves. But mostly, neighbors see me with a newspaper and my pooch in my lap in the morning and just before dark at night. I think I scare them sometimes, quietly sitting out there as the sun comes up. They go outside around six a.m. to drive to work and the neighborhood is so quiet and still. Then I clear my throat and rustle my paper and they jump like something bit them. I sip my tea and let out a big sigh, making sure they know that they've really been missing out by sleeping in so late.

This autumn I'm especially grateful. Early in the summer I badly injured my left ankle and for six weeks could only get around in a hobbling sort of way. First with crutches, then later much as a man with one foot in concrete would do. Now, as of the last couple of weeks, I'm back in fine hiking form and go out most days and stride briskly around this part of Seattle. I'm really lucky living where I do. All the surrounding neighborhoods are beautiful and hilly with great long views. Less than half a mile from my house is a deep ravine with a mile long trail winding through it alongside a trickling creek. I go there often and walk the length, then meander through various trails and neighborhood roads to get back home. It's amazing to have such an oasis of calm so nearby. When I took Patricia there a few months back, we had just crossed a footbridge and stepped down onto the trail through tall trees and ferns when she said, "I'm so happy I just want to scream out." I said, "Let's do it! Let's holler like crazy!" So we did. We cut loose and started hollering "Whee!" and "Boy Howdy!" and "Yippee!" and other intelligent offerings to the wood fairies and sprites and squirrels and trees. It was quite exhilarating.

We hiked on down the path to the main trail at the bottom and began wandering up it, toward the west end of the ravine, which is a sort of fern and tree covered canyon in the middle of the city. About a hundred yards up we saw these beautiful decorations; flowers, flags and poles, on a little bridge over the creek. We stopped and admired it all but had no idea what it was about. Then we moved on and in another fifty yards we encountered something out of a Fillini movie. Strolling our way was a quiet parade of human beings all dressed up in finery. Many were gay or lesbian couples, one partner dressed as the opposite sex. Everyone wore something beautiful and bohemian. There were ribbons and flowers and veils and capes and top hats and tails, long dresses and bustiers. Many wore make up out of Cirque du Soleil and carried bouquets of flowers. As we passed the parade of probably seventy or eighty friendly people, Patricia and I looked on with wonder and delight. Honestly, there was nothing on earth that would have been more surprising or delightful to see on that wooded trail that morning.
Ravenna Park
Everyone was very friendly, waving at us, nodding, smiling. And I think they loved that we were there to witness them. We looked like little kids I'm sure, smiling and gazing with wide open eyes. What we were observing, we later realized, was a May Pole Parade. It was the first day of May and these beautiful people had all gotten up very early to don the most bohemian clothing and decorations to march into the woods for a celebration by a big granite rock alongside the silvery stream. Patricia and I felt so fortunate to have seen them. I said to her, "what if no one but us saw that? What if they only existed because we stood on the trail and hollered out in happiness and so this beautiful, strange, lovely gathering of people manifested right there before our eyes for our own delight?" It could happen.

Since I'm talking about my sweetheart, I must tell you this because I want to share something so beautiful with you: I have never been more in love with her than I am now. We met nearly four years ago, coming together to create a fund raising concert to benefit the folks hurt by Hurricane Katrina, and we fell in love over the weeks and months following that. The amazing thing is that it is possible to be more and more in love with another person if you continue to open your heart and share as honestly as you can what your inner life is. That's an amazingly hopeful thing to me. To know that I can love Patricia more and more in my lifetime is about as great a thing as I could ever imagine.

Singing to My Girl
Singing to my girl
I cannot help but share this with you because I so believe that we have the power and the intelligence and the heart to open up more and more as we live. I don't think people really are destined to get numb to each other the longer they are together. I used to be afraid of that when I was younger, feeling disheartened that the newness would wear off and that I'd miss falling in love and the spark of excitement that brings. Fortunately, I met my Glimmering Girl, Patricia O'Driscoll. But also, I grew up a bit and came to understand the beauty of nuance and to be grateful for the process of growing into your humanity with another person. To be in a relationship where we both seek a deeper connection with our own hearts and each others, and are willing to ask questions of ourselves, to be honest about our own healing processes and supportive of each others is heaven on earth to me. I guess the real word for all this is "surrender." When you're willing to surrender your judgments and fears - and your partner is too, well, that's when the deepest love begins to happen. It humbles you and that's where the good stuff all comes in.

Last week Patricia and I drove my 64 Malibu convertible out to Fall City and taped some footage for a new music video for YouTube. You may have seen some of my other songs there. The one we're working on now is the song, The Way Out West. I'm about to put my Malibu up for sale after 23 years of fun in it, and we thought it would be nice to get some footage of my driving it and include it in the video. Patricia is the real creative mind behind these videos we're doing. I just try to stand and sing without looking stupid. Plus, I retain the right to burn all video that causes me to look as old as dirt. That arrangement works well for us.

We should probably have the new video finished in a month or so and I'll be sure and let you know about it.

Top 10 Album of the Year Top 10 Album of the Year Top 10 Album of the Year

My new CD, The Way Out West, recently received a wonderful review in RockTimes in Europe. It was named a Top 10 Album of 2009! We are exploring a wide variety of ways of promoting this record. It's really the best overall record I've ever made and Patricia and I are doing all we can to get it out in the world. We welcome your ideas and connections. If you know a reviewer or music writer or some place where we should send the CD, please let me know.

iPhone MT

iPhone App iPhone App iPhone App


If you have an iPhone, I now have my own App. I barely know what that is, but if you have an iPhone you probably know all about it. You can upload my songs and videos, photos and more.

Seattle Concert in Honor of Healing Arts Seattle Concert in Honor of Healing Arts Seattle Concert in Honor of Healing Arts

I'm working on a possible Thanksgiving concert in Seattle, where I'll be performing with accompaniment for the first time in years. I have long had a vision to do a concert bringing together the healers in our community. Both traditional and alternative healers of all walks into the same venue, honoring the work they do and giving them a chance to connect and get to know each other at the same time. This is just in the beginning stages, but I'm hopeful it will happen this year. I'll keep you informed.

If you are in the healing community and would be interested in having a table at this event, let me know. I'll soon be looking for folks who want to have a presence at the show in order to share their own work.

Thanks for visiting my website and reading my latest rambling. I hope you're doing well this season and remembering to take a deep breath and be kind to yourself. It's one of the best things we can do for the world.

Your friend in breezy Seattle,
  
~Michael

PS, I'll leave you with the lyrics to my song Things That I Don't Know. It's about the end of summer, the dying of the garden, the passing of time, and is one of my favorite songs on the new record. I hope you enjoy it.

Things That I Don't Know
©2009 Michael Tomlinson

Take a bite of this, she said
And tell me if you think it tastes like autumn
Bright, crispy apple in the cool October sun

And then she disappeared
Left me there a lonely boy without her
Just some more evidence of things that I don't know

I drove up one summer day
Met her in the shade of Hazel Mountain
So near the end of August I could hear September falling

I loved that Saturday
The way she let her hair fall down around her
But I lost some part of me in the smolder of her gaze
Things that I don't know

I have longed to know the reason for the winding wheel of time
Ever grinding through the seasons 'til it always breaks my heart
Every year when the lovely garden dies

Every time I write a song

I start to feel like water falling
Clear, running through me
Washing all my senses open

That's how I was when I
Took a juicy bite of that sweet apple
Honest as sunshine on a stolen autumn day
Things that I don't know

When the wild geese fly from the northern sky
And the sunflowers die on the stalk
It feels like love has gone with the waning sun
As the lonesome nights grow long, Oh I . . .

I have longed to know the reason for the winding wheel of time
Ever grinding through the seasons 'til it always breaks my heart
Every year when the lovely garden dies
Things that I don't know

Take a bit of this, she said
And tell me if you think it tastes like autumn

~from the CD The Way Out West

   

   

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