PAST RAMBLINGS - 9
(collection of past Homepage greetings and stories)
March 22, 2002   -to-   August 5, 2002
 

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 - Holiday
Ramblings 30
2014 & 2015
 
March 22, 2002

Howdy Springtime My Friends,

Yes indeedy, earlier this week we witnessed the first day of springtime sneaking in beneath snow showers and icy roads. I loved it. I am a big-time proponent of frozen moisture falling from the sky and I enjoy it in all it's forms. (though I'm less enamored of pumpkin-sized hail stones if I'm out on my bike) On the first day of spring I watched the snow settle in my neighborhood for over twelve hours. It was mesmerizing and invigorating, I can't think of anything that will take me back to childhood wonder like watching falling snowflakes will do.

As I gazed in a trance over the rooftops, I saw something move and it pulled me out of my reverie. It was a huge bird landing on the roof across the street, much larger than any I've ever seen around here and I've even seen bald eagles soaring high over these trees. I started to go and get my binoculars but before I could, he flapped his huge, ungainly wings and lofted his odd, not-very-aerodynamic body into the snowy sky and flew towards my house, then off at an angle into the trees. It was a Great Blue Heron. His wing-spread must have been four feet or more. I have never, ever seen one in the city and it was thrilling. Even out in the country you see them only rarely. I took it as a great omen, coming as he did, on the first day of springtime.

After my last message here, quite a few people wrote to ask if I was insane. Now tell me, would I know it or admit it if it were so? I think not. However, I will admit to having an unbridled imagination. Remember when you were a child and you could take a couple of popsicle sticks and a jar lid and play with them in the dirt for hours? Well, I can still do that. Not those items specifically, I just mean that I can start the wheels of my imagination turning and be a pretty self-contained entertainment unit anytime I like. That is possibly why I'm a songwriter, what more joy and fun could a person possibly have than to manifest out of thin air a song, where once there was nothing but the sound of clocks and heaters, dogs barking, cars rolling by and IRS agents knocking loudly on the door? I do it all the time.

A couple of years ago I was hosting a back yard cook out. My friends were coming over that night and I spent all morning and afternoon going through photos of the gang. I made-up word balloons for each photo, giggling like a little kid at the various scenarios and dialogue I'd created. By the time they arrived I'd completely covered my refrigerator with snapshots of all my friends saying extremely funny and crude things. I was slightly unnerved when one friend brought his elderly parents with him and I walked into the kitchen and saw his mom bent over reading the most vulgar ones. She was laughing her ass off. I guess even elderly ladies like a good boner joke now and then.

 

The last few weeks have been a mix of difficult, strange experiences and highly creative ones for me. The world seems such a heavy place since last September it has been hard to feel light and easy about life. You know what I mean, even those who are able to laugh and carry on somewhat normal lives are affected by the density of what we face as a planet of people who must find our way toward healing or . . . well, there just is no other choice. We must find our way to healing.

What I've been feeling is that as a species, human beings are in a time of awakening. It is a painful awakening because we have been in denial for so long. As Americans, we are discovering that we cannot have a separate society from the rest of the world. Really, we never have been able to, but it was easier to believe that before communications were so extensive and immediate throughout the world.

I have long believed that the same dynamic behind the tensions between nations is also at the core our individual lives. If we are insecure or angry or hurt in our relationships at home or work, in our families or neighborhoods and cities, then we can expect exactly those same dynamics to be manifested at large in the world. I used to say - as long as there are two men fist-fighting in an alley somewhere, there will be wars in the world. I don't know if that is actually true but it gives you an idea of what I mean. If we have issues to heal between us and our neighbors and families, then those need to be healed so that the same wounds do not get pushed away to be acted out in the world at large.

I have had a few experiences where something extremely painful and hurtful came between myself and someone I love, someone I consider a conscious person. We would be so filled with the pain of misunderstanding that at first, we were angry and lashing out. But because we somehow were able to remind each other that there was more to the pain than the surface issue, we were able to take deep breaths and do our own healing around it. We were able to take responsibility for our part in the turmoil and see that it was perfect in fact, that the tension arose specifically between us, two people who actually love each other and are dedicated to seeking the truth.

In every single one of these experiences, I have seen or known or somehow been given the understanding, that our healing actually released some tension in the world. That we undid some small part of the confusion alive in human consciousness. My words probably fall short, but I believe you get what I mean.

I am facing some of those very issues in my own family and relationships right now. It is scary and painful and something I want at times to run from. But I am trying not to do that, taking deep breaths and asking to be courageous enough to do this. Some days I fail, but I can see progress, too.

The reason I am sharing this is not because I feel any great release in doing so, just as anyone does, I prefer to work quietly on the relationships in my life and not hold them up to the scrutiny of the world. it's just that I believe that issues of separateness, control, love, loss and healing go very deep, they are not only at the bottom of what goes on in my life and in yours, but also, they are exactly the wounds at the core of what is happening in the world today.

I am sometimes as frightened by what I don't feel as what I do - and it takes much courage to go into the places where those feelings will be revealed to me, brought up to experience, no matter how painful. Last September the entire planet was given an opportunity to feel, to awaken and to share with each other our grief and sorrow. Even as life goes on, that opportunity exists. As a race, as the human race, we know too much to ignore this and allow things to go back the way they were. They will not ever go back to the way they were, anyway. The healing has begun and we can embrace it, learning to love ourselves and each other, or we will go through tremendously more pain than is actually necessary. I am not open every minute of every day, but I do feel myself opening more often, willing to look deeper and feel the pain that I have denied and delayed for eons.

This probably sounds like some mighty heavy stuff for me to be addressing since I often fill this space with silly stories and nonsense. I do that because that's a part of my joy. No matter how desperate things get, you can count on me to have something silly to say. Whee! Thanks for checking in on me now and then. I feel your support and I appreciate that there are folks in the world who think of me and wish me well. I wish you well, also.

Yer ol' fren,
   
  ~Michael

~ ~ ~ Concerts and my Book ~ ~ ~

I'm working on putting together some concerts in the Northwest and anywhere else I can get them. (Florida in May - the Northwest this spring) Radio has been almost completely decimated by corporate ownership. Gigantic corporations who for decades were limited to owning no more than 14 stations, have been deregulated and may now own hundreds and thousands of them and dictate and control which songs and artists are heard in every city. Those companies own record companies, concert promotions, radio and TV stations, newspapers and magazines. They have become monopolies and our government has not only allowed this, but cleared the path. There are almost no more local stations that really listen to what you want to hear and play it - though they claim different when they announce "Playing the songs you want to hear!" That makes it nearly impossible to get played in the places where I once received radio-play with every CD I put out. Without radio, concerts are very difficult to get. Often, I have to actually rent the hall and put on shows myself. I'll do it when there is no other choice but it is a lot of work and I cannot do it often.

Fortunately, a few times a year, someone pops up and either puts together a concert for me or has a lead to some promoter or organization who hires me. That has been immensely helpful and I always welcome folks who want to put on a concert for me or guide me in some way.

This makes it all the more important for me and other artists you like to be shared via word of mouth. I cannot tell you how helpful it is to me that you tell friends about my music and buy my CDs as gifts. I would not be able to continue this if you weren't helping me as you do.

I believe it will help quite a lot when my book is out. I'll probably get some press in certain regions of the country and I think the combination of being an author and a recording artist, will lend itself to getting more publicity. Though I look forward to that, I have not been willing to just finish the book and get it out there for that purpose.

My book has become something very important to me. I have never made a commitment to a project nearly as large and complex - and it gives me pleasure to work on it nearly daily, writing, rewriting, remembering things. I'd long forgotten, and finding enjoyable and entertaining ways to write about them. I want this book to be as kind a gesture in the world as my music has been, so I am working diligently to do that. To those 300 or so folks who pre-ordered my book, thank you so much for your patience. I've only had two people ask for refunds because of my long time-line and I greatly appreciate that. I'll keep you up on my progress.

Happy Springtime to you.
    ~MT


April 14, 2002

Howdy my friends,

It's quite a wild spring day here in Seattle. I love these restless, blustery days when the wind roars up and herds the rain sideways and even back up again. I live in one of the few places on earth where rain can actually go up your nose. (wear thick pants, it can go up some other things, too) I went running earlier and every time a fierce gust would come up behind me I would sprint like a gazelle, clearing cars, fences, small houses. Well, they were dog houses. When the wind was in my face, I had no choice but to fall to the ground and claw for territory. It was embarrassing.

Now here's a problem I'll bet you never have in your part of the country. I noticed just this morning that one of my headlights was half full of water. I'm serious. You almost couldn't tell because the clear water behind the faceted glass made it less than obvious. If the wind hadn't blown me over and made me butt my head against the front bumper, I might never have noticed. How embarrassing to be driving around town with one headlamp sloshing like that. (to say nothing of the bump on my forehead).

I wondered how the hell water got in there, but that's Seattle for you - I've found rainwater and fir needles in some mighty scary places - places where nothing but Q-tips and the occasional thermometer was ever meant to go.

My dilemma was this; how do I get the water out without removing the headlight itself? To take out the headlight you actually have to take off the front grill and several other very unhandy items. (radiator, battery, engine) I gave the fender a shove and watched the water splash back and forth. Damn, it was full of water, alright. I thought of getting a long straw and sucking the water out through the hole in back but I remembered the broken bulb I'd recently replaced and thought the water might be rich with microscopic glass particles. I detest swallowing glass splinters and have made it a general rule not to anymore. The only time I'll make an exception is if there is no wine opener and I'm forced to break off the neck of the bottle with a brick. Only in such rare cases will I take a chance on jagged shards of glass ravaging my delicate stomach lining. Certainly not just to dry out a headlamp.

I pulled out the little light bulb in back and tried to figure out how to get that water out. Maybe if I were to drive straight up a wall real quick, you know, not long enough for my truck to flip over backwards, just long enough for a cup of water to drain out the back of the headlight.

I suddenly got a better idea. I went inside the house and brought out my vacuum cleaner. I found a piece of half-inch rubber tubing and taped it to the end of the vacuum hose, slipped it through the hole in the back of the headlight and turned the vacuum cleaner on. Slurp! It sucked out every drop of that rainwater. Of course, I have probably ruined my vacuum cleaner, but first things first. I am happy to announce that I have now solved my headlamp problem. Sometimes, to problem solve, you have no choice but to allow other problems to arise in the process. You may then deny these new problems as long as possible. (it's an idea I learned from the government)

Hell, I only vacuum once a year anyway, my Hoover will probably dry out well before my Christmas cleaning.

NOTE; I make up a lot of shit when I write these little ditties, but I actually did vacuum out the water from my headlight. Try it sometime, I think you'll love it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I'm about to start a big construction project with my good friend, Rick Grant, and I feel certain I'll need to write you about it just to blow off some steam. Rick and I are the greatest of friends and we work very well together, but we have different approaches to problems. My approach to something like major structural home repair would go something like this; Look at the problem from all angles. Take notes. Talk about how we are going about the project and what tools and supplies we will need. Perhaps, sketch a few simple drawings so that we are completely clear on how it's all supposed to work. Now, I would never assume that this preparation means that there will be no problems once we get started, I just feel that there will be less disasters and we will be more able to adjust quickly and meet the challenges.

For instance, when we were renovating Rick's covered front porch recently, despite our repeated measurements, checking and rechecking our figures, somehow it turned out that we cut a major support post about six inches too short and caused the entire roof, overhang and deck to slope drastically downward on the right side. This is no problem if you live in Tennessee or Alaska. But in Snoqualmie, where Rick and his wife, Ruth, and their children live, having a front porch that looks like a slide is frowned upon.

So see? Even when you draw up very clear plans, it is still possible to seriously screw up a person's home. I'm not for that.

Again, my method; study, talk, draw, plan.

Now let's consider Rick's methodology, which I call the Nike School of Home Repair - Just Do It! That's Rick's way. When I showed up to help him install a new shower and bath enclosure, I found him removing wall board and tiles, pipes and wallpaper amidst a tiny bathroom full of all the normal things a family keeps in there; magazine rack, baskets of toiletries and hair doo-dads, blow dryers, brushes, soaps, potted plants, tricycles. It never occurred to Rick to make some room to work. I immediately removed all of these items, giving two goodly-sized grown men a little more room to hammer and yell and cuss and harkey. I asked Rick how long he'd allowed for this job - it looked to me like a four day job.

"Well, let me put it this way," he said, grinning. "Ruth and the kids will be home at about 8 o'clock and it we don't have this finished, I'll be bathing the kids in the yard with a hose."

"You're shittin' me, Rick! You think we'll finish this today?!"

Rick's expression was priceless - and sad, really. "I've GOT to finish it - it's our only bathroom! Why? You think it'll take us longer?"

I couldn't believe it. "Rick, there's no way in the world this is a one day job. I bet you anything it will take at least three."

Poor Rick looked so dejected. When Rick feels dejected it can go many different ways, most of them dangerous. I looked at him and glanced around the room to see what he might hurl. I recalled the phone booth in Colorado he'd nearly destroyed before I could tackle him. It was bright daylight on a busy street and he was hammering the receiver with all his might against the sorry piece-of-shit phone that had eaten his two quarters. Yes, the phone deserved the beating, but I didn't have bail money and felt I should nip it in the bud.

Rick hates to disappoint his wife with stuff like house repairs that take days longer than he estimated, causing her and the kids to go a week or two without a working bathroom. Personally, Rick doesn't mind washing up with a bucket in the back yard, but most women don't see the adventure in it.

A week later I called him and asked how it was going. He wasn't finished yet.

So sometime in the next week or two we will start again, this time, replacing several floor joists under the house and the entire bedroom floor, which has been eaten by some kind of bug I've never heard of before. The two of us crawling around under the house with manly powertools should make quite a story and I'll be sure and let you know how it works out.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I've had a few folks write me that they were worried about me after my last rambling on this site. I mentioned that there were a number of personal challenges in my life and in my family's lives. Things are much better. For the most part, I am honestly a person who wakes up singing and joking, I believe there is alway some way to solve a problem. Nonetheless, the crisis in the world this last year, from terrorism, to wars, to hunger, to devastation of our eco-system, bears down upon all of us at times. I'm just working my way through it like every one else. I am dedicated to doing it with as much love and with consciousness as I'm capable of. I fail some times, but I'm getting better at it.

My songwriting has been very strong lately and my work on my book has been, also. I'm very dedicated to taking the time for the best work I'm capable of to rise to the surface. I've always done that with my music and as a result, I have a body of work that stands up still, as something that means something to me and seems to often inspire and soothe the people who listen to it.

I'm learning a lot right now. I'm seeing where I just skated upon what was easy for me in my career. When I was with record labels, I had hundreds of stations playing my music and I had concert offers all over the country. Now that corporations own radio and most of media, nearly every thing has changed and I'm in the middle of finding new ways to continue doing what I do, writing and singing and recording songs, writing books and doing workshops. It's an interesting time and I have no doubt that I will find and create new ways to keep doing the things I love and new ways to make my work available for people who would benefit from hearing a song of goodwill and love now and then.

Your help is invaluable to me. When you buy my cds as gifts for others, or just play them a song, you help me to reach someone who may listen to me for many years. Thank you for that.

I wish you well in your own life and evolution in these strange and interesting times we live in. One thing I feel deeply is that, despite the painful and often petty, evening news, despite weak and empty movies, music, books and entertainment we have thrust upon us by an industry driven by impossible timelines, profit objectives and motives of less than goodwill, there is still good work being done. There are occasionally movies of great heart and cds of songs that matter, books that care to lift the human spirit and heal the division between us. These aren't always easy to find, nor is it easy to develop a way to do such work ourselves. It can seem impossible to make time for the story you have to tell, to write or sing about, to build or sculpt or design. But now, more than ever, there is every reason to create what you feel in your heart you were meant to create. If you have longed to do something, wait no more. Find some small way to begin it. You can do this.

I had a dream at age 20, when I wrote my first song, that I would record albums and have a career in music. I didn't even play guitar until three years later but I grasped that vision with all my powers of hope and concentration and somehow, the doors to that dream opened for me and for over twenty years I've been making my living from the music and ideas that I share. Please do not think that you waited too long to follow your own dream.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This summer I will offer a couple of weekend workshops. One is a day of exploring songwriting, how to do it well, how to express yourself in music and lyrics, how to put interesting and meaningful ideas and emotions together in song.

The other will be a creative writing workshop which will be for everyone, professional, amateur and even non-writers. Writing is a joy no one should miss. I have written thousands of letters in my life. I've been writing funny stories since I was 12, newsletters and articles for 15 years and a website monologue for seven. Soon I will begin a weekly column on another website. I'll give you details when it happens.

In the last two years I have found a joy and satisfaction in the creation of my book that surpasses even what I imagined it would be. I dreamed of this for many years and always knew that eventually I would be an author. I cannot overstate the joy that comes from expressing your feelings, thoughts, imagination on paper or screen, reading it again and finding deep, soulful satisfaction in your own words and phrases. I want to encourage and share these things with more people and so I'm going to begin some writer's workshops. I'll post the date of the first one soon.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks for visiting me. It means a lot to me that you check in on me, and that you listen to my music and share it with your friends. I hope you have a sweet springtime. Take lots of deep breaths.

In Friendship, Michael


MAY 24, 2002
I'm going to start right out revealing something about myself that may scare you, but please, give me a chance to explain before you burn my records and call the police. This is difficult, so please give me a second, allow me to take a breath or two. Oh, man. I hope I can do this. Well, here goes.   I have slept at your house.   Whew! It's finally been said. That was painful.. Now, please let me elaborate. Among the many things that I am, (singer, writer, humorist, dog lover, big eater, firebug) one of my foremost personas is that of The Napper. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm a Napper-Extraordinaire, certified on seven continents, skilled at all levels and types of snoozing, licensed to slumber almost anywhere slumbering is allowed. I do it on a whim. I can do it on a limb. I can slumber on a dime, I can do it any given time. I nap at parks, in back yards, in my bed of course, and sometimes on a horse. (big mistake) Perhaps none of this surprises you. But I bet this will - sometimes I pull up right in front of your house and do it. I'm serious as spam sammitch.

Yes, I'm speaking very broadly and generically when I say your house. Perhaps it was not your house, per se, but I'll bet you know someone, somewhere, whose home I've dozed in front of. ( I know for a fact that Kevin Bacon knows someone who knows someone whose house I've napped at)

Maybe you have seen me and didn't realize it. That's understandable - I cover my face when I nap. Not so I'll be unrecognizable (hell no! One of life's great pleasures is being awakened by an old friend hollering "Hey sumbitch! Were you sleeping?" but so that not one tiny ray of ambient light may seep between my eyelids and awaken me.

I'll describe a typical napping scenario and then I'd love to hear from you if you feel you may have spotted me but just didn't realize it was a talented songwriter snoozing underneath your elm tree. I'm usually in my worn out Isuzu Trooper. (which I bought new in 1989, in the days when I felt certain that it was just a stepping stone to a series of Jaguars - I still think that) If it's nice weather I may be in my 1964 Malibu convertible, but it lacks the privacy a man needs for full-on public napping. I can barely accomplish more than a shallow slumber with my head poking up all out in the open like that. (who knows when some poorly flung frisbee might come skipping along and take off some hair? - that's no way to awaken.) Let's go with the truck, since it's my primary napping vehicle. First, I drive along looking for just the perfect spot along a curb. This means no squeaking tricycles, no yard sales, no barking dogs. Also, I must have shade. A man sleeping an hour in a black truck parked in the sun resembles nothing so much as he does a day-old pork chop.

Usually, there is a very short margin of time I'm allowed in which to locate my spot, pull into it, and arrange for my sleeping comfort. This has nothing at all to do with my being on a schedule, it is simply that when I'm sleepy, I mean it, man! I must gits me some rest and it must happen soon.

Once I've pulled over along the curb, I lean my seat back and try it out for comfort. There is almost always something wrong at first. I cuss and get out of the truck and walk around to the back, open the doors and rummage around for blankets, coats, perhaps an old sucker, a doggie treat, something to munch on while I'm preparing my bedding. Back in my seat, I wad up coats, towels, various items that will support my body in exactly the way it deserves. When all is perfect, I remember that my bandana is in the back seat. I get back up sputtering, turn around and search for my bandana. Who could possibly sleep without something dark covering their eyes? I just don't understand those people.

I recline once more and drape my folded bandana across my eyes. Oh, my Lord, this is heavenly. I would not have made it two more minutes on the freeway without crashing into a guard rail if I hadn't found this little napping oasis. At last I'm in bliss, gently slipping into the dream world. Precisely at that moment however, my little dawg Bungee, barks at something which has dared to move two blocks away. I try not to budge, I don't want to spoil the mood and emit a full-on yell. Under my breath, in a severe but even monotone that will allow me to stay in reduced brain rhythm, I speak the magical phrase that I taught her as a pup. "Shut up, dammit. No barking." She grumbles a little but obeys me. Miraculously, we both fall asleep and snore like soul mates in the front seat.

You know how sometimes when you're dreaming, external noises in the waking world will weave their way into your dreams? Well, that's what happened to my blissful nap. I was dreaming that my wives were serving me breakfast in bed and flirting playfully with me, giggling and kissing me tenderly after each bite. I was as happy as a man can be when suddenly there came this terrifying growl and roar of rage. At first I thought wife number three was feeling left out and reacting a little inappropriately, but then I realized that we were being attacked by wolves. I opened my eyes and saw one lunging at the window, trying to get in. I awoke like a man having a heart attack and jerked upright to find Bungee barking furiously and hurling her little fluffy self against the side window whilst outside, a large black dog was slamming against the glass, trying to get in so he could eat her like a little fuzzy Twinkee. I knew that once he swallowed her, I'd be next. Barely conscious and unable to remember in my grogginess that I was not of the canine breed myself, I snarled like a wolf and joined the fray, snapping and growling back at the hoary dog trying to get in. The three of us slathered slobber all over the glass as we growled and barked and roared in a furious tangle, the monster's fangs slamming and gnashing against ours from the other side of the glass. It was the greatest release of fury I have ever experienced and I barked like a dog possessed.

But then I came to my senses. It occurred to me in rapid, juxtaposed increments of consciousness that I was not a wolf - and I was deeply disappointed. As I awakened fully, over the span of a few seconds, I could come to no other conclusion than that I was not a dog of any kind, but merely a man barking like one. I was devastated. It wasn't merely the joyful barking, the rabid confrontation that I loved so, it was also the thought that after the barking was over, I could perhaps do some long-needed licking of the various areas of my anatomy which a man can only dream of reaching. I was crestfallen. Dang! That sure woulda felt good!

Even before I registered that there were folks watching us, I knew this was not my finest moment. But it's difficult to reign in an all-out dogfight just because you remember that you're not a dog. I slowed to a growl and then a guttural, gravelly, snarl. Finally, I broke it off altogether and grinned to the crowd, giving a short nod as if to say. "So there. That's the kind of response you get when you go barking at me."

The good news was that nobody ran away from me in terror, and they didn't seem to be waiting for the law to show up. The bad news was that the family standing on the sidewalk seemed to recognize me. They were all grinning and just standing there waiting for me to assure them that it had been all a joke, a silly skit I'd put on just for them.

To my horror, the cute little girl waved and said "Hi, Mister Tomason! I like your songs. My daddy plays them in the car." The lovely family smiled with pleasure at finally making my acquaintance.

I turned even more purple and tried to grin casually. I mouthed the words, "Thank you, are you on my mailing list?" through the glass, started my truck, nodded once more and slunk gratefully out of their sight. It was a bad end to a really nice nap.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

If you've hung with me this long, I know you're a mighty good friend and I guess I should actually tell you about some of the things I've been up to and mention some events I'll be doing soon.

You may have spotted me around town working on my book this last year. If you see a guy bent over his laptop, oblivious to anything going on around him in coffee shops and parks, well, that was probably me. I still can't say when I'll be finished but I've been reading chapters to concert and retreat audiences over this last year and really enjoying the feedback.

I think something in the process of writing the chapters of my book has influenced my songwriting. I've been so happy with the new songs that have been coming to me over this last year. I feel like they are some of the best I've ever written. It's something I'm extremely grateful for, finding that as I get older the passion for writing meaningful and melodic songs has only grown in me. The subject matter shifts slightly with time, but hey, I'll be writing songs about rain until I'm an old man. I would love to record these, and have most of the songs over 90% written and ready. But I feel I need to keep focused on my book and bring it to completion before I do another record. It's already quite a lot running my little record company, filling orders, writing newsletters and website ramblings, manufacturing CDs, putting together posters, etc., all the various duties that come with a small company like this. The writing of my book has been a strong thread running through it all over this last year and a half and I've really loved the process.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There is another endeavor that has taken my attention this winter and spring that I'd love to share with you. My goal is to put together a gathering this autumn which will have as it's focus, the coming together of people who desire to create, who long to do something in life which actually calls to their soul. Over the winter I noticed that many people I'd talk to in stores, on the street, at friend's houses, had dreams that they'd given up on, a book half written or never started, a canvas partly painted, a new business idea that had never gotten off the ground. This got my attention because I am always attuned to the concept of living your dreams, the paths and challenges and purposes that call to us in our hearts and minds. I would talk with people and see them uplifted simply to have a person to talk to about this. And in many cases, I would see them walk away inspired and ready to begin again, invigorated because another person had shown interest and perhaps had an idea or two to share about how something might be accomplished.

For some reason these encounters would not leave my mind. In fact, they started feeling like they were supposed to get my attention. I began to think of the years I've hosted my weekend retreats, A Gathering of Friends. I thought of all the hundreds of people who've come over the years - from all over the US and even Europe. The numerous friendships that were formed and the countless ideas and stories shared. These memories spurred me to imagine a new kind of gathering where I would put out ads in papers and magazines; Calling Artists, Musicians, Writers, Teachers, Healers, Dreamers, People of Goodwill. Come together for an afternoon of sharing ideas and dreams. Share in small circles, one on one, in large groups. Listen to speakers who come from your community, people who have begun to live a life that truly matters and calls to them.

This is what I plan to do this fall. I have many ideas and have shared them with a small group of folks who have been sharing their insights and concepts so that this might become an event that will truly benefit all of us and raise our level of hopefulness and vitality in manifesting the lives we long to live. If this kind of opportunity for synchronicity in the community calls to you, please keep an eye on my website. I plan to make this first event somewhat small, 300-400 people. I want there to be a great cross section of people and interests, but for it to feel small enough to be comfortable to us. I'd love to hear from any of you who are interested and have ideas to share.  mt@michaeltomlinson.com

Well, this must be one of my longest website entries, ever. I have my friend and webmaster, Brian Dina, to thank for posting this for me. I must say, if you have thought of having someone create and maintain a website for you, Brian is your man. My site is HUGE, hundreds of pages and many changes month to month. Send him an email if you like what you see on my site.  His address is brian@briandina.com and you can view some of his other work by going to www.briandina.com

I hope you're having a fine springtime and enjoying the lengthening days. Thanks for checking in on me now and then.

     In Friendship,
   
  ~Michael Tomlinson


July 1, 2002

Howdy summertime friends,

I would have written sooner but I've been busy digging out all my summer clothes. I have boxes of clothes that get mysteriously smaller and smaller every year. I just don't understand it, I look in the mirror and could swear I'm still the same svelte, nimble lad I was in high school. So how come all my old clothes seem made for a stick figure? Apparently, I used to wear my jeans unbuttoned and unzipped - with my thighs squeezed like sausages. I cannot remember this, but there's just no other explanation. (Do me a favor will you, and don't write me about your theory on this phenomenon.)

It's late afternoon and an hour ago I went out in the hot sun for a run, and seeing as how it's nearly 90, people looked at me like I was crazy. I played it cool and ran on my tippy-toes, grinning in a powerfully friendly way, swerving side to side as if I were eluding tackles, sprinting up and over parked cars - and a few that were moving - all the while nodding respectfully to the elderly. Then when I got around the corner and out of sight, I fell upon the ground and flopped like a fish on land. I really must let go of my strong sense of duty in entertaining the masses. People will just have to figure out a way to be uplifted on their own. I can't be constantly doing it - it's just too hot.

My book has been slow-going these last few weeks, mainly because I've had quite a few things going on. I produced a concert for myself in Seattle a couple of weeks ago. I rented the hall, sold the tickets myself, hired a sound man, arranged the chairs, bought the lemonade, ironed my own shirt. ( I know! Where's my wife?) It was like being a kid all over again, except I didn't get $22 a ticket back then. I believe it was 5 for a cup of lemonade.

 Of course I had to rest for a few days after my concert. My audiences are demanding, as you may have guessed, and if I don't build the show to a passionate, sweaty, chakra-spinning climax, they will often chase me down, tie me up and carry me around town on a pole. I consider that old fashioned, but I understand that they are just doing what comes naturally. So anyway, this looming potential forever hovers and reminds me to give my very best in concert.

 Like I said, I needed my rest, so I took a few days to just lie around and pet my dawg, so to speak. Then before I knew it, it was time to pack for a trip to Washington DC, where I'd been hired to play a private concert. Despite my distaste for airports and airlines, the trip went well. I met some wonderful folks and made some new friendships. And it may have been the only time this year I'll get to see fireflies. I love fireflies and have only rarely seen them outside a Disney movie. Long after the concert was over, after everybody had gone home, four of us sat out on the deck in the falling dark, talking and laughing. The raccoons started chattering over in the trees, the nightbirds grew quiet, then fireflies began to hum on and off in the dusk. The magic made me want to sing so I got out my guitar again and played two new songs, Kaylee's Mountain and The Beckoning Sea. It was so sweet sitting there with my new friends and watching the little floating lights flickering along the edge of the woods.

Now I'm enjoying being back home in Seattle. I have a front yard full of flowers I planted, rich colors and shapes hanging from my porch and blooming in window boxes and pots around the yard. I'm sure if you strolled by you'd think a little old lady lived here. But no, it's just me, a very manly sort of fellow who by some ironic stroke of fortune does so happen to have a little fuzzy dawg that some people mistake for a house shoe.

Summer in Seattle is a special time, we have these long days of sunshine that don't end until nearly 11pm this time of year. I love the couple of weeks either side of the summer solstice because of this. This morning I walked out into my backyard at 4:15am and it was just getting light. Of course, I went right back to bed because it was far too early, but still, I was out there and there weren't many souls up that time of day.

This weekend I'm taking the ferry across Puget Sound with some friends to go to a party on the Olympic Peninsula. It's been about 20 years since I was in the habit of bringing my guitar to parties but this time I'm going to. The fellow who invited us built two stages and has musical acts going on all day and into the night. I thought I'd give it a try. If the crowd is too noisy I'll just put down my guitar and gather around the keg with everyone else. I'm very flexible that way.

 
When I get back from the party I'll have no more excuses for not diving back into working on my book. Actually, I'm ready to get back to it, old memories and new ideas have been coming to me and I love getting lost in writing for hours at a time. I've probably written ten or fifteen more chapters than I'll actually need, but until I get finished, I don't know which ones that will be. So for now, I'll just continue to be a writing fool.

 I hope your summertime goes well and that you're doing something in your life that calls to your heart and soul, whether it is planting a garden, taking evening walks, working on a project, talking with friends or reading a book. I encourage you to revisit the dreams you've long held but may have lost or given up on somewhere along the difficult road of life. It's never too late for some version of your dream, something related to it, to happen in your life. I really feel we can help each other to achieve these things and become more fulfilled people in the process. It's a loving thing to listen to each other and to invest our energies into helping each other achieve what we long for. If you still wonder what it is that might call to your soul, that might satisfy your need for purpose and direction, try listening to someone else, investing yourself in their dream, encouraging and supporting them in whatever ways you are honestly able to. Sometimes your own calling is revealed in the process. If I never wrote another song or sang another concert, I know I could still find my purpose in talking and listening to and helping the people around me.

Thanks for checking in on me.
 
~Michael


August 5, 2002

Howdy my friends,

It's a mighty blustery day in Seattle, quite cool and windy for August. In fact, they say it's our coolest August in history and that got me to thinking maybe I should share some of my rich historical knowledge with my readers who have nothing better to do than to be checking out my website. So here goes.

Do you know what happened on this day, August 5, in history? Well, I'll tell you just a few of the highlights in order of historical importance.

  1. My friend Carl Johnson totaled his Oldsmobile. (with me in it) We were looking at pretty girls.

  2. Napoleon got a new jacket. (with extra room built in for his hand)

  3. Bozo the Clown became the official Clown Laureate of America (destined to forever be the clown by which all other clowns are judged) I still think his hair sucks.

  4. A tree fell in the forest. Nobody was there and yet it made the sound, "DoooHickeeeeee!!!" (I was told this by someone else who wasn't there.)

  5. I make up a list of blatantly false historical events. (except the first one - Carl's car was a total loss)

If you were to ask me why I wrote all this, I honestly don't know if I could dig deep enough to tell you. But it's absolute proof of something I talk about in my writing workshops; There is no such thing as writer's block.

Earlier this week I drove in my old Malibu convertible down to Sumner to deliver a box of fabric to my friend K for decorating her booth she was to put up at a summer festival. I wove in and out of trucks and trailers, Winnebagos and various death traps, until I found myself on the wrong exit.  Cussing the towering trucks which blocked the exit signs, causing me to go miles into the wilderness of industrial parks, convoluted highways and generally chaotic construction, I finally found my way to Sumner and delivered the goodies. I decided I'd take a path less harried than I-5 on the way home and in this precise moment of whimsical misjudgment, my fate was altered for the next seven hours. See, I thought there were still rural road in Washington State. I thought there were places where there were not yet Stubway Sammitch shops, Slaveways, KMarthas and Taco Hells. I thought that the postcards were true. Aren't there cabins and woodsy trails and totem poles and salmon leaping out of icy rivers? I honestly did not know that all little towns had become conjoined in every way. That they were now One Terrible Ugly Mass of Roads and Gas Stations and Signs and Traffic Lights and Strip Malls. This is how sheltered I've become, living alone in a house in a quiet neighborhood in Seattle. Never having to commute, seldom driving anywhere during the hours that people call Rush Hour. (did I say that right?)

I stopped at three mini-marts of varying names before I found the object I longed for. I wanted to buy a map. That's all, just a single, folded piece of paper with lines and names and directions on it. I hadn't necessarily wanted to pay $6.95 for the single piece of paper but I was desperate to find a way out of the Small Town from Hell. The Little Hamlet That Ate The World. It may have devoured the countryside but if there was any possible way, I was going to get out alive, bust up some concrete and plant a tree!

I started in Sumner and without seeing any noticeable dirth of strip malls, found myself in Auburn, then Kent, then Renton, then Issaquah. It went on and on until I began to talk to my dawg like she was my therapist.

"Bungee, do I seem okay to you?"

"Well, I've been thinking something was off ever since you missed my treat time back there in Renton. You're about half an hour late as we stand now." she replied.

"I'm sorry, I meant do you think I'm losing it? Do I seem coherent to you?"  She chuckled and looked away, out over what surely was once the hinterland but now was a Home Depot parking lot. No answer. Damn, if a man's dawg can't look him in the eye, he must really be fading.  "Well, can you do this one thing for me?"

"What?" she barked. Which sounded almost exactly like other barks but with kind of a high pitched ending, as if ending in a question.

"Will you drive?"  After wasting my entire afternoon looking for a scenic way home to Seattle, I remembered a park on a lake out in Sammamish. I wasn't sure I could find it again and in fact, had to backtrack about three times before I could find a way into it. Beaver Lake. Amazingly, there was almost no one there. I got out Bungee's food, which I'd packed on ice that morning, and lifted my ass
off the Subway veggie sammitch and chips I'd inadvertently been sitting on for two hours while I looked for a quiet, cool place to eat.

We got out and walked down to the lake edge and had our breakfast/lunch/dinner at a picnic table while two young girls splashed in the shallows and hollered requests for their dad to watch them do various stunts.

"Daddy! Daddy! Watch me dunk Tera! Watch me, Daddy!" Dad was busy playing an electric guitar through headphones and wasn't overly interested in the spectacle of one giggling daughter dunking the other in a flurry of flailing limbs. I was slightly alarmed that she would ask for permission before drowning her little sister, but didn't know if I should intervene with daddy just ten feet away. By the time the older girl asked if daddy would watch her "paddle Tera with the oar," I felt I had no choice and walked over to alert the obviously talented guitarist. I couldn't actually hear the notes he played but his attitude was killer.

"Excuse me. Are those your little girls?"

He looked a little glassy eyed and took a minute to register what I was talking about.

"Oh! Yeah, them's mine."

"Well, the older one seems to be. . . well, a sadist. She keeps asking you if it's okay if she whacks her little sister and you know, shoves her head under and stuff."

He grinned. "Actually, the big one is the little sister. I'm sure they'll be okay. Thanks for your concern though."

Fortunately, the girls came out of the water before one died and they all drove home, That left the entire area empty but for me and Bungee. It was a lovely place, especially after all the asphalt I'd seen all day. I walked over to the shallow edge of the lake and stepped into it, surprised at how comfortable the water was. Despite having just eaten a foot long sammitch and chips and drinking a quart of lemonade, I decided I must go in for a light swim. I had no swim suit with me but remembered some workout shorts in my trunk and went to get them. I sat in the front seat of my convertible, changing shorts in the open air, marveling momentarily at how, no matter how old you get, it still feels frisky to get nekkid in public. Wheee!

I walked back to the lake, trying to hold my somewhat engorged stomach in. Nobody was there but me, Bungee and two towering totem poles, but still, a man has got to have a little self-respect. I slipped into the water and began to backstroke out twenty yards or so. I knew better than to swim too far with a belly that felt like it held a watermelon, so I just paddled around. I looked up and there came my little white dawg, swimming for me like she always does. The problem is, when she gets there she expects me to hold her. If you think it's difficult for a fellow to look manly with a little fuzzy seven pound dawg for company, consider the sight of a full-bellied fellow with his hair slicked back, carrying a soaking-wet seven pound drowned-rat of a dawg in his arms. Let's just say that the two of us coming out of that lake could not possibly have been a pretty sight. But then, summer ain't about bein' pretty, it's about being cool.

That swim saved my life and readjusted my attitude. Though I still had to drive an hour and a half through traffic to get back home, I was all coolness, calmness, collectedness, completely at peace after my cool swim. I turned on the heater and placed Bungee on the hump in the floorboard, directly in front of the warm current and she remained blissfully there all the way home. It turned out to be a pretty dang fine summer day after all.

     Yer ol' fren,
      ~Michael


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