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March, 2013:

Sailors to the Rescue!

I occasionally uncover some really cool stuff while out meeting new people and finding new places I want to try to play. Today was one of those days.

One of my Meetup groups, the Oakland Sailing Club, posted a note about a fundraiser this afternoon at the Alameda Yacht Club for the International Rescue Group. As it turns out, these folks are a relief organization based here in the Bay Area, working with sailors around the world to deliver relief supplies and aid after natural disasters. They’re currently refitting a 57′ trawler for relief work over at Alameda Point.

They’re looking for donations and help in finishing up this new boat, and they’ll have free cruises for people who help out. So check out their Website.

The event was held at Alameda Yacht Club, one of the eight or nine “drinking clubs with a boat problem” in Alameda. I was fortunate to get to spend some time hanging out with some of the club members as well, including Clair and Mark. It might work out for me to make a bit of music over there sometime soon.

Here are a couple of pictures from the day:

Stephen_michael_band_3-3-13

Stephen Michael and his band were playing some good rock music.

 

A view from the back deck at Alameda Yacht Club

A view from the back deck at Alameda Yacht Club

Daffodils in the Morning

Spring is rapidly arriving here in the Bay Area! Fruit trees are starting to bloom, and the bulbs are starting to break through and flower after their long naps.

Picture of daffodils

At this time of year, daffodils greet visitors to my house.

Some of the first flowers to rear their lovely heads are the daffodils. Ours start to show up in early to mid-February, and by now, they’re in full bloom and starting to pass their peak.

The interesting bit about daffodils is that, without a period of chill and darkness, they can’t bloom. I think that may be true for people as well.

Think about it. Contrast is one of the most powerful tools available to the artist for a reason. Nobody oohs and ahs for hours at a picture of a polar bear in a snowstorm. :) But a picture of ocean water, with many different shades of blue and green, always changing…that fascinates folks. Including me.

A picture of the ocean

What makes looking at the water interesting is that it is always changing, and the contrasts between light and dark, blue and green.

Without winter, we wouldn’t appreciate the spring *or* the tropics as much.

Without the occasional challenges and sadness in our lives…we wouldn’t appreciate the joy.

And those challenges, if we choose, can become the vehicles by which we consciously learn to shift into a happier place no matter what we’re in the middle of. It’s a lesson I’m still learning.

I’ve written songs as a result of some of the challenges I’ve been through, and sometimes they help me in the challenges of the present. Sometimes, they help other people with *their* challenges – as the old song goes, “It’s still the same old story.”

One of my older songs, “Clueless in Key Largo,” was about the challenge of love lost, and the opportunity to heal that in a beautiful place.

One of my newer songs, “Looking at You,” is in many ways about that challenge having been met and beaten. With style.

It’s still the same old story.

New Drink Idea!

I came up with a new idea for a drink this morning, while cooking up a “breakfast skillet” of potatoes, onions, garlic, and cheese. I wanted something sort of like a mimosa, but I didn’t have champagne and wasn’t feeling like drinking this early. And fruit juice was too heavy by itself. Here’s what I did:

Daffodil in the Morning

In a tumbler, add ice if you want. Then add:

1 part orange-pineapple juice

1 part fizzy water (mine is lime-flavored)

Mix. Serve with brunch.

It’s tasty, not too heavy, and I’m not going to need a late morning nap because I had too much champagne. :)

Here’s what it looked like this morning. You can add your favorite garnishes to make it prettier, or serve it in a champagne glass with a strawberry in it if you want it to look more mimosa-like.

Picture of new drink - Daffodil in the Morning

Daffodil in the Morning