June Solstice Musical BlogCast

 

On this June ‘17 Solstice day, I’ve been mindful of how this BlogCast will likely be playing out to a worldwide audience… on a planet where two distinctly divergent seasons are also playing out.

As a nod to Ma Nature’s orderliness, I’ll be playing two Beach Boys selections. I’m dedicating Summer In Paradise to all who dwell in the northern hemisphere and, naturally, California Dreamin’ (on such a winter’s day) to all, who reside in the southern hemisphere. Sounds fair enough, right?

Before we get to the actual playback of this music, there are several noteworthy, song fun facts I’d like to toss in.

Firstly, the subject matter of Summer In Paradise does juxtapose fun in the sun surfing along with some sobering imagery related to how humankind is polluting our environment. We should take our cue from the Beach Boys to always honor our “Mother” by keeping her world clean and green. As the linked vintage TV commercial’s catchphrase warns…

“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

Lastly, re California Dreamin’, this is the Beach Boys’ superb, 1986 cover of the Mamas and the Papas’ instantly recognizable, 1966 mega hit. The Beach Boys’ already phenomenal sound gets masterfully enhanced by former Byrd, Roger McGuinn’s jangly, signature, electric 12-string guitar… and if their combined musical talents don’t provide an emotional boost to all below the equator dwellers now experiencing winter… i.e. if you don’t feel inspired to go tripping off to warm, sunny California (well… at least in your minds)… if this song doesn’t put you in a summery state of mind… I don’t know what will.

Well, we’re now at the point in my blog, where I usually say, “It’s time to let the music speak for itself… Enjoy!”

 

Beach Boys ~ Summer In Paradise

Beach Boys ~ California Dreamin’

 

If you like what you heard on this day, don’t forget to click back on Saturday, July 1, 2017 for my regularly scheduled top of the month BlogCast.

 

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Political Peeing Takes the “P” Out of the EPA

In the nearly half century since our very first, eye-opening Earth Day in 1970, the efforts we humans have taken towards saving our planet… saving our very lives… have been mere baby steps… i.e., insufficient to shallow out humankinds’ overall, deep, damaging carbon footprint.

And, as far as the new administration in DC is concerned… it is not concerned.

#45 and Scott Pruitt, his likeminded, malicious, handpicked Environmental Protection Agency stooge are both notorious climate change deniers, who are hell bent on greedily prioritizing currency’s green over naturally preserving chlorophyll’s green.

Instead of working diligently towards cleaning and greening the Earth, their negligence their premeditated outright, malfeasance can only serve to totally muck up our world. Ironic how politically peeing everything up can manage to take the “P” out of the EPA… and in the end… take out the Earth.

Well, Earth Day 2017 has now come and gone, but the frequent, freaky, ferocious weather strongly linked to climate change / global warming is here to stay. Admittedly, devastating hurricanes, tornados, wind-rain-snow-ice storms, lighting, flooding and droughts predate #45. Even so, it is his flat-out refusal to take any meaningful steps towards resolving this problem, which makes him a YUGE [sic] part of the problem. Stated more bluntly, some would brand him an environmental terrorist and all I can say is there’ll be no steps taken in this blog to refute such a claim.

In short, Mother Nature, who takes a dim view on all such dim “leaders”, is now fighting back… and… in the end… will win. If mankind won’t stand down, her attacking storms will intensify until she wipes us out… along with the very same, dirty, environmentally damaging technology that made our assault upon her possible.

My following true story comes straight from the frontlines of the Michigan battlefield…

Packing sustained wind speeds of 40 mph and gusts exceeding 6O mph, Mother Nature was certainly venting her anger. She had timed everything out, perfectly, so it would barrel down upon a vast area of North America on International Women’s Day Wednesday, March 8, 2017. And she did have good reason to be PO’d.

While far too many righties all across America would hotly deny it, manmade global warming / climate change was playing a major role in this threatening weather event. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa likened these forces to a Category 2 Hurricane.

This past January’s political climate change in Washington, DC was not helping matters much, either. Indeed, now calling all the shots… stepping onto the world stage we could see #45, full of bluster and hot air, thoughtlessly and gleefully stomping his YUGE [sic] “Size 45”, carbon footprints all across our nation… all over our planet.

I’d have to concur with Torregrossa’s post storm assessment. While I’ve witnessed such destructive winds during my three score and two years, this had been associated with severe thunderstorms… the type usually occurring on sultry, sweltering summer days when clashing cold fronts spawn excessively strong gales… if not the actual tornados. But I could not recall ever experiencing such relentless, overpowering gusts on an otherwise sunshiny, March day… not even as a kite flying young boy. Yep, the tempest of 2017 was nothing like my windswept days of yore.

One needn’t have been clairvoyant to sense an imminent power outage… one that would render my natural gas fired furnace useless. Since it’d be far better to start out a late wintertime blackout with indoor temps of 70° vs. my usual, Spartan 58° Fahrenheit living conditions, it was time to become proactive. Starting around 10 a.m., with each successive heating cycle, I began gradually nudging my humble home’s thermostat upward by three degrees.

It was during my furnace’s second run that the power did go out… but, within mere minutes, it came back on. Had some power grid substation’s breaker “smartly” kicked in to isolate an adjacent circuit failure… thereby sparing me? Or had a soon-to-be, doomed-to-be downed power line simply, temporarily, arced back to reconnect?

Well, it was along about 3 p.m. when, all the sudden, my luck ran out. With an indoor temperature reading of 68° the power had failed once more. Would I be getting a second reprieve?

With each successive tick of my battery powered, quartz wall clock, inside… with each roaring wind gust, outside… where no restoration occurred, I began to feel that sinking feeling intensify and take root. That clock and wind were now the only sounds in town.

A quick inventory of my tech offered me some consolation. I could add my landline’s dial tone to my short list of familiar sounds. A rapidly fired off test text to my sister (to apprise her of my situation) and her reply meant the cell towers were still up and running, too. Of course, I already knew my laptop’s house current dependent modem would be dead as a doornail and my connection to the www would be severed for the duration.

With only about three hours of useful daylight remaining, I headed off to the kitchen to salvage whatever perishable refrigerated foods I could. Striking a match to ignite all four burners of my natural gas cooktop would not only allow me to cook but also keep my home warm. Shortly after cooking up a storm, I treated myself to a sit down, dining room table supper where I’d be gorging on ten… yep count ‘em… ten scrambled eggs sided with bacon and washed down with freshly brewed coffee. Within minutes, I had scarfed down quantities that would normally take me several weeks to consume. As for any other items that needed to stay cold, my car’s trunk had suddenly been upgraded into a makeshift refrigerator / freezer.

The changeover to Daylight Savings Time still being several days away, darkness descended far too soon requiring a flashlight to finish the kitchen cleanup. Fortunately, my no house current required, gas fired water heater could still supply all the hot water I needed.

A battery-powered radio tuned to my local NPR station, one that truly provides a valuable community service to its listeners, apprised us of the dire situation. Long news story short… of my state’s 10 million population, I was amongst the 1 million citizens cast into darkness by this massive power outage… one my energy provider later deemed the worst, most massive power failure in their 114-year history.

Conserving battery power being paramount, I soon silenced my radio. To entertain and cheer myself up a bit, I sat down at my piano in nearly total darkness. After locating “middle C”, I stuck to performing songs with “C” key signatures (those that didn’t require black key flats and sharps). As my playing got better, I added songs with “F”, “G” and “Bb” signatures… those with only minimal black keys in their scales. At that point I could truly appreciate the accomplishments of blind keyboard geniuses such as Stevie Wonder and the late Ray Charles… had a better sense of the obstacles these pianists had so completely and adeptly overcome.

After that? It was time to don my amateur astronomer cap and step outside. With such a vast area blacked out, viewing the night sky as Ma Nature had intended, was truly one of this outage’s brighter moments… darker moments. For a moment I had even considered hauling out my 90mm Refractor Telescope but several sudden wind gusts soon changed my mind. I could not risk such forces toppling and crashing it to the ground. And, as fate would have it, hours later… once the winds eventually did die down… that’s when the clouds promptly came rolling in.

With not much else to do after that, I turned in for the night. With my down parka serving as a makeshift pajama top and several extra blankets piled on, my own body heat had now become my auxiliary “furnace”. I did wind up getting several extra hours of sleep since there was little point of trying to cook my breakfast in the dark hours before daybreak.

Oatmeal, coffee, bread (untoasted) and jam were on the menu and once that meal was history I went out to my garage to retrieve most of the food from my car’s trunk. I’d need to rewrap certain items into individual portions because new weather forecasts were reporting that by the next nightfall, the temps would be dipping to the 15° F mark.

Well, 23 hours after the power failure had begun, just as I was texting my blackout update to my sister, the living room lamp came back on and I thanked my lucky stars that I had finally left the Dark Ages behind me. After waiting a few moments to be really sure this was over, I began plugging sensitive equipment back in and flipping circuit breaker panel switches back to their on positions. Getting my furnace roaring back to life was now top priority… the indoor temp had dropped from 68° to 57°.

Considering how it would take the power companies an additional eight days to fully restore electricity to all of their customers… and how there would be many subsequent nights where the temps would be bitter cold… dangerously cold… to have escaped all of that misery made me amongst the lucky few.

In the days that followed, while walking through my lifelong hometown, there was one ground zero battlefield, in particular, that was truly startling and thought provoking… a huge tree that had to have been over one hundred years old got toppled in one of the parks I frequent. In fact, it had crash-landed within mere feet of my favorite park bench… the spot where I normally sit to view the oncoming river… one of its major branches slightly denting the backrest.

I suspect that decades worth of acid rain, coupled with the unnatural, bright sodium and mercury vapor city street lights altered the way this tree grew… structurally weakening it until the windstorm could easily send it crashing to the ground.

This recent, humbling experience has once again reminded me of Mother Nature’s resounding message / wake up call… namely that we humans had better clean up our act before it’s too late. We need to be taking environmentally sound giant steps forward but that would require sound minded leadership and good stewardship of our planet… and… I ask… does that sound anything even remotely like an apt description of #45?

Life’s Sounds, Sights & Scents

Not too long ago, slow loading websites involved a time-out… mine. I stood up from behind my desk for a much-needed stretch… accompanied by my inevitable yawn and barely audible, exhaled “ahh”. While feeling the comforting, shifting of my vertebrae, I realized it was time to detangle myself from “The Web”.

Wandering over to my window, I immediately noticed the dazzling rays of dawn’s early sunlight… how those beams were causing a dew dropped, flowering shrub to sparkle and glisten. Truly a lovely sight to behold all in itself… but that was merely Ma Nature’s warm up act.

As Her next scene opened… a hovering hummingbird appeared center stage… flitting from blossom to blossom… gathering the nectar for her morning repast. I marveled at her delicate features and diminutive physique… the blur and subtle whirring of her wings.

This feathered aviatrix had reopened my eyes… reminded me how admiring natural wonders isn’t really all that new to me. She inspired my poem to showcase Ma Nature’s grand performances… the very sounds, sights and scents, which have meant so much to me throughout my life.

A wealth of Ma Nature’s sounds, sights and scents is there for everyone’s enjoyment… all free for the taking. Try not to be too busy to notice these wonders… many are easily drowned out by our manmade din… rapidly disappear in the blink of an eye… speedily disperse into thin air.

 

Sounds…

Chipmunks chirp out bird impressions,

Paired morning doves coo love professions.

Geese honk and fly V-shaped arrays,

Ducks quack out, float communiqués.

Birds’ dawn-dusk venues, woods, treed streets,

Orchestral movements, caws, peeps, tweets.

 

Birdcalls, babbling brooks, blend, mix,

To flower blooms, buzzed bees affix.

One-chord cricket songs, serene,

June beetles ping, each widow’s screen.

Winds rustle tree leaves, clinging vines,

Make whooshing sounds, through stately pines.

 

Each thunder rumble, boom, clap, crash,

Downpours pool, the raindrops splash,

Fall, winter gales, numb summer heat,

Fallen leaves, snows crunch, beneath our feet.

Dusk’s shadows descend, still the land,

Night’s embracing hush, doth chill, expand.

 

Sights…

The pallet of sunrise, boasts a blended hue,

Glistens spider spun webs, all beaded in dew.

Hopping rabbits drop by, feast on lush green clover,

Swallowtails, Monarchs flit, both float by, fly over.

Red-orange-yellow sunsets, become dusky skies,

Next, luminesced flickers, pale glows, fireflies.

 

Night’s lightening doth fork, cloud-to-cloud, sky-to-ground,

Bolts strike where they please, to startle, astound.

But not to be outdone, daylight’s adlib show,

Presents a full spectrum, ROY G. BIV’s arced rainbow.

Ma Nature paints leaves, Her full-time fall showing,

Feathered flakiness next, Her wintertime snowing.

 

Connect the dots patterns, grace our starlit skies,

Orion’s Nebula, Pleiades, please our naked eyes,

As do the five planets, grouped, at times, two or more,

Clouds dance with the Moon, in phases all four.

Scopes enlarge Lunar craters, the Martian icecap,

Moons of huge Jupiter, Saturn’s Cassini ringed gap.

 

Scents…

Freshly mown grass, frees-up nose friendly fumes,

As doth month of May’s bouquet, of lilacs’ full blooms.

Summertime rainstorms, doth freshen our air,

Lightning sparks scented ozone, to aid in skincare.

Also pleasing, as well, is sea saltwater spray,

The shady woods’ earthiness, as we walk life’s pathway.