Category Archives: writing

Grandma’s Friendly Village

Oh no! I forgot to post something for Nov. 20! But in the interests of catching up FAST, I’m going to call this Nov. 21 entry #20, and will post #21 later. I hope you will forgive me for simply reblogging an old post. It’s actually post #1 from NaBloPoMo 2019. I was reminded of it today when a distant cousin mentioned the family connection on Facebook.

loristory

My grandmother Angeline was born in central Sicily, in a small village with the beautiful name “Villarosa.”

In 1910, at age 8, she emigrated from Sicily to America with her own grandmother, got married at age 16, quickly had five bambinos, and was widowed at 30. She later remarried and had a good life, but she never got to see Villarosa again.

Here she is at about age 30 (I’m guessing).

Grandma Armenia

I liked going to Grandma’s house. She always seemed cheerful, and she served us plenty of macaroni, ice cream, and raspberries, saying the word “mangia” practically as soon as we’d walked through her door. Her house was decorated with colorful starched doilies that she’d crocheted herself. I wonder if she crocheted the collar in the above photo. I have a special memory of the two of us sitting in a summer garden next to some pansies while…

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Listening Again

Note: The following post was inspired by a writing prompt by Scott, whose website is Mental Defecation. I don’t mean that as an insult. That’s actually the name of his blog!

This month, Scott provided 30 song-related writing prompts for November. His prompt for November 18th was to write about (a) a song you love but rarely listen to, or (b) a song from the year you were born.

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I’ve decided to write about a song I love but rarely listen to. It’s one I first heard about 12 years ago, when it was performed by Oscar Fuentes, a singer-songwriter from Guadalajara who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. The piece, written by León Chávez Teixeiro, a Mexican composer of social justice songs, has a very unusual name: 15 metros, 3 pulgadas, 8 octavos, 16.

Why I Love this Song

I love its melody, its chords, the spoken part that comes in about halfway through it, the rising intensity that really takes off in the last minute, and the way my friend Oscar sings it with so much feeling. Most of all, I love the emotions it brings out in me. The song just inexplicably touches my soul. And all of that without my knowing what the song is about.

The words are sung in Spanish, and only in Spanish. As far as I know, they’ve never been translated. And even though I have a pretty good working knowledge of Spanish, I know I’m missing a whole lot here. I think the lyrics are probably like poetry … the kind of poetry whose meaning isn’t all that obvious.

By reading a few YouTube comments (in Spanish) I’ve been able to gather that it’s a letter to someone from a worker who’s been injured on a job. But I think it’s also about love, loss, pain, and maybe even corruption. And at the end, there’s an invitation to “visit me, if you remember your friend, and I’ll give you a cup of hot coffee.” I hope I have that right. I’m guessing that, since the songwriter, Teixeiro, was known for his social activism, it’s probably a political song.

But I still don’t understand the significance of the numbers (15 meters, 3 inches, 8/8, 16) that are sung only twice during the song, and that make up the song’s title. If anyone can explain the song’s meaning to me, please leave a comment below.

Why I Rarely Listen to It

The best way to hear this song, in my opinion, is to go to one of Oscar’s gigs and hear him perform it live. But since I no longer live in Tucson, that option is out.

I do have his CD, “Esto Que Ves,” which includes this song, but I just haven’t been listening to my CDs lately. Life has gotten in the way. Isn’t that sad? I’m going to have to change my ways. I’ve been missing out on so many good musical moments.

And now that I’ve found a brand new video of Oscar performing it live in his studio (yay!) I’ll be listening to it a lot more often.

What I’m Doing Right Now

Listening to Oscar singing 15 metros, 3 pulgadas, 8 octavos, 16, of course. He’s accompanied by his music partner Mark Anthony Febbo, another talented Tucson musician.

I highly recommend that you click the link below and do the same. If you do, be sure to TURN IT UP LOUD, especially toward the end.

Oscar Fuentes and Mark Anthony Febbo – Quince Metros

Yep. It still gets to me.

You can also hear a wonderful recording of the song’s composer, León Chávez Teixeiro, performing it at age 83, here (with a beautiful piano accompaniment):

León Chávez Teixeiro y Guillermo Briseño – 15 Metros

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This is post #18 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Featured image (girl with guitar) by Saydung89 @ pixabay.com

Bugfest at 10 p.m.

Time for another set of photos inspired by my camera. Yesterday was a slugfest. Today is a bugfest. But don’t worry. They’re only pictures!

First up is a pine white butterfly (Neophasia menapia), as seen at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. This lovely creature, also known as the pine butterfly, feeds on the needles of pine and certain fir trees when it is a caterpillar, and on nectar as an adult. This butterfly is sampling some butterfly milkweed nectar at the moment.

Next, we have another butterfly, photographed in a quiet park in Tucson, Arizona on a bright, sunny day. This one has a long name: Ministryomon janevicroy. It’s perched on an upright prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera, or Mexican hat). The Ministryomon janevicroy gets its name from the spouse (Jane Vicroy Scott) of its discoverer, Jeffrey Glassberg. I think this is my favorite butterfly because it’s so powdery white, with thin, orange, wavy lines. Its most unique feature is its OLIVE GREEN EYES. If you zoom in, you can probably see them.

Working our way from pretty to a little bit scary, we have this little bee. Or is it a wasp? I’m not sure. It’s feeding on an Echinacea flower, which is in the daisy family. You can just scroll right past it if you have a fear of bees.

And you might want to scroll past the next one, too. In fact, I recommend it. It’s a horse lubber grasshopper (Taeniopoda eques). Believe it or not, I was able to take this photo up close without getting (too) grossed out. There were four or five of these big lugs, or should I say lubbers, hopping around on my fairy duster plant one day (again, in Tucson), so I did what every dedicated photographer does when they see a huge, disgusting insect: grab their camera and snap away. Then they yell “Ewww” and run screaming into the house. At least that’s what I did.

I enjoy taking pictures of butterflies and then identifying them via Google. It’s not that hard. You just have to be persistent. It’s not like identifying birds, which are hard to photograph in the first place, and then have so many variations within species. At least that’s been my experience.

On the other hand, I’m not wild about staring at pictures of insects for very long, but that’s just me.

The above pictures were taken some years back. Now, with my newer camera and a bit more free time, I’m hoping to capture better butterfly pictures in the future (and probably no more insects, if I can help it, except maybe a dragonfly … or a caterpillar … but no more horse lubbers, I promise!). All of that will have to wait, though. It’s currently 33 degrees out where I live now, and snow is in the forecast.

I think I’ll stick to indoor photography for the next three or four months. Then maybe I’ll start bugging people with pictures of bugs again.

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This is post #17 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Featured image by ArtsyBee @ pixabay.com

Slugfest at Midnight

As midnight approaches on the 16th day of National Blog Posting Month, I find I’m at a loss for words. I’m likely to do something wild and unpredictable.

Well, this blog is supposed to be inspired by my camera, and I do have a photo or two in my collection. Let’s see what I can come up with.

(Pause while I pull up my photo app …)

Ahh. Okay. Fortunately, I’ve found something: a portrait in vibrant purples and golds. It shimmers. It moves. It practically jumps off the page! The model reminds me of a graceful Flamenco dancer. Her dress is as soft as a petal.

Unfortunately for you, the model is a slug. A literal slug.

Introducing: Señorita Iris Maria Ariana Slug! (I.M.A. Slug, for short)!

I told you I was likely to do something wild and unpredictable. And I did!

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This is post #16 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Cover photo (clock) by JESHOOTS-com @ pixabay.com

Song about a Homeless Cat

Someone reminded me tonight about “My Name is Romeo,” a song I wrote 7 years ago. They wanted to hear it again. What a nice surprise!

And since I didn’t have anything else planned for this evening besides eating cookies and watching Netflix’s Crash Landing on You, I’ve decided to take a few minutes to share “My Name is Romeo” with you.

You might remember the song from my blog post in 2019, where I explained how I came to write it. But if not, or even if you do remember and want to hear it again, here are a few things you can do:

  1. You can hear a recording of the song on YouTube. I sing, and Chuck Phillips (the other half of our little indie duo, Pacific Buffalo) plays keyboards. The video contains lots of cat pictures, and I have to say, it’s damn cute. Here’s the link: My Name is Romeo
  2. You can read my 2019 blog about it here: Sewing Some Song Seeds
  3. You can click this “Song Seeds” link to read the published story I wrote about writing the song.

I hope you enjoyed the song, even if you aren’t a cat person!

And now, back to my cookies and my binge-watching of Crash Landing on You, a Korean love story that actually mentions Romeo and Juliet in one of the episodes.

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This is post #15 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Featured illustration (cats): naobim at pixabay.com

Venturing Out

In my previous three posts (Souvenirs, Parts 1, 2, and 3), I reminisced about the past. I also told you about my NOT terrible, NOT horrible, GOOD, in fact VERY GOOD day spent with my grandson. But I still haven’t gotten to what I did that night … and I’d love to tell you about that now.

My Dilemma

My old friend Alex and new friend Hanna, both excellent blues musicians, were playing a gig downtown with local blues legend Joe Beard. I really, really wanted to go, but I hadn’t found anyone to go with – and for me, walking into a bar alone is just awkward. In fact, I hate it.

In the midst of my angst, I decided to check Facebook. That’s when I noticed that fellow blogger Ra Avis (“Cheer Pepper” Captain and blogger extraordinaire at rarasaur.com) had reached out to the NanoPoblano blogging group and asked how we all were doing. After all, it was Day 10 of our monthly blog-a-thon, and she knew we were probably needing a virtual hug.

After whining to her about being tired, I opened up about my dilemma. To go or not to go, that was the question. I definitely was leaning toward not going. I told myself I was tired, I’d had a long day, it was dark out, where would I park, etc., etc.. But the real problem was walking into a bar alone.

I vacillated. Somehow, in the course of writing down my thoughts in response to Ra’s thoughtful query, I found the answer. It didn’t hit me all at once, but I could almost see it congealing before my eyes as I typed, like a courage ball that kept growing bigger and bigger. I almost dropped it, but at the very last minute, I held it in my hands just long enough to tell myself, “maybe,” and then “why not,” and finally, “just do it.” “Okay, I’m going,” I told Ra.

I don’t remember her exact reply, but I know she said “go” and “be safe” and “let us know how it was.” It felt like she had my back, and it really made a difference.

As it turned out, I found a parking spot right by the door and entered the very crowded Abilene Bar and Lounge just as the band started to play their first song. I felt good, I smiled, I walked in with my head up and eyes straight ahead. And it was all good. Nothing bad happened! I’ll do it again, especially to hear my friends play. But next time, I’ll try and find someone to go with sooner, rather than later!

The Band

Inside, I was surprised to see rows of chairs set up near the stage. Sitting there seemed much less stressful than hanging around at the bar, plus there was an empty chair in row 2. I took it, and I stayed put for the next 2 hours (except for once, when I did visit the bar. I mean, it was a bar, after all!)

The music was really, really good. I was so glad I went.

Many thanks to Ra and the Cheer Peppers for supporting me, and to all of you who read my posts. I’m really grateful to have an outlet for my thoughts. Writing can sort things out, and sometimes it even helps solve dilemmas, too.

Here are some photos from last night.

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This is post #12 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Souvenirs, Part 3

Another day, another ticket stub, or maybe two or three, to talk about. But which ones? I’ll go with opera, rock, and comedy, in that order.

And no, I’m not talking about a funny rock opera, although that would be awesome. Has it been done? I don’t think so. Somebody, please write one.

Metropolitan Opera, New York City, 2002

Last time, I told you about seeing “Rent” in May, 2001. Well, a few months later, my daughter Erica and I found ourselves back in the Big Apple, and this time we were staying with my cousin Gina, an actress and dancer who lives about a block from where the story of “Rent” took place.

Gina was appearing on stage at the Metropolitan Opera, one of about a dozen dancers in Strauss’ “Die Frau Ohne Schatten,” and we had tickets. Walking into the classy Met was an unforgettable experience. Everything seemed so polished. We climbed several steps to get to our seats in one of the balconies. It was probably the top tier (the cheap seats). By the time we’d gotten there, my daughter had twisted her ankle.

Photo by WikiImages @ pixabay.com

The opera itself was unforgettable. It isn’t the music that I remember, but the sets, which were dazzlingly detailed. There was one scene that required an underworld and a celestial world, and this effect was achieved by means of a huge mirror that split the set horizontally.

I recall the dancers, too. From my seat in the upper atmosphere, though, I couldn’t really tell which one was my cousin. And I didn’t understand the plot, either. The words were in German, and even though they were translated into English in real time, on individual screens that sat directly in front of each person’s seat, it was like watching a movie with subtitles – a movie written in the early 1900s, no less.

We had to leave during intermission. My daughter’s ankle had begun to swell. Oddly enough, the next time I went to New York, I twisted my ankle, too. I’ll save that story for another day!

Jeff Beck, New York State Fair, Syracuse, 1999

I remember little about this concert, probably because I’m not a Jeff Beck fan. I know he’s thought of as one of the world’s finest guitarists, a “guitarist’s guitarist,” even. Maybe someday my taste will change, but for now I have to say he’s not my cup of tea. I wish we’d gone to see Lucinda Williams, who also performed there that year, instead. Britney Spears was at the fair that year, too … at the age of 17.

Late Night with Conan O’Brien, NBC Television Studios, 2001

My kids and I were big Conan fans (boy, is he ever funny!), so for our 2001 trip to New York, I got us tickets to his TV show. It was exciting for all of us. Conan came out and introduced himself to individual members of the audience before the show began. He stood right in front of me (boy, is he ever tall!), and shook hands with one of my daughters. Then, during his monologue, they cheered extra loud, and his response (“Thanks, ladies!”) was directed at them. Unfortunately, he put little air quotes around the word “ladies,” which was both funny and not funny. (We have it on tape.)

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This is post #11 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Souvenirs, Part 2

We interrupt this Souvenirs blogcast to bring you this important message:

I had a good day.

It began at 6:30 a.m., when I awoke to the rude realization that I’d only gotten 5.5 hours of sleep. (Thanks, #NanoPoblano!) Once I decided to skip my 8:00 yoga class, though, I felt much better about life. I turned over and went back to sleep for another hour. 

Next, I had breakfast and picked up my 7-year-old grandson, whom I would be watching for the rest of the day. (It was a teacher conference day; no school.) 

First, we played a game of chess at my house – and when I say chess, I’m using the term loosely, since it included about two dozen plastic Army men surrounding the board and another dozen or so squeezed onto the board alongside the regular pieces. (I just go with the flow.)

Sometimes we made some crazy moves. I remember one of the knights (mine) moving in a straight line like a rook toward the end of the game, for example. We laughed a lot. By making sure not to stress him out since he’s just learning how to play, I’ve learned from him not to take the game seriously. Kids can teach us so much.

Of course, we had to have a mock funeral for the pieces on the losing side (mine). After the ceremony (during which he made the pieces miraculously come back to life), we went to McDonalds, something I haven’t done in 25 years. Yes, it was a good day for bending rules.

No, not that kind of bending!

Then we took a 2-hour tour of a state historic site, Ganondagan, a Seneca and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Indian cultural center that houses a museum, longhouse, hiking trails, and more. We both learned a lot and really enjoyed our time there.

Now that I’ve spent so much time telling you about my Not Terrible, Not Horrible, Good, Very Good Day, I haven’t left much room for Souvenirs, Part 2, the next installment of my series about concert tickets I found the other day. But here’s a little something:

Jackson Browne, Solo Concert, Hochstein Music School, 1996

It was my second or third time seeing Jackson Browne in concert, but what made this time so special was the fact that it was a solo concert in a really small auditorium (less than 850 seats). Also, while accompanying himself on piano, Jackson Browne forgot the words to one of his own songs. I’ll never forget the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face when that happened. This made a huge difference to me when, years later, I started performing myself. I had stage fright and was always afraid I’d forget the lyrics and freeze up on stage, but telling myself that even Jackson Browne could forget the words to a song helped a lot.

So, how was your day?

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This is post #10 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Headline photo by Ylanite @ pixabay.com

Shameless Wordling

While working on Wordle this morning (see below for my pitiful results), I was reminded that I haven’t written a shameless plug recently. And so, without further ado, or should I say “ADIEU” …

Shameless Plug:

Wordle Poems: A Poem a Day for Wordle Nerds
(Books 1, 2, and 3)
by Lori Bonati

Now available on Amazon
and selling like hotcakes in England
because … I don’t know,
they’re written in English?

Each book contains 30 original, 8-line poems (poems that rhyme!) about the daily act of Wordling, along with diagrams that shamelessly reveal my results for all the world to see.

But: No SPOILERS!

Also: No words were harmed in the making of these books.

These one-of-a-kind, self-published poetry books would make great companions as you sip your morning coffee. (That’s when I always play Wordle.) They also go well with tea and scones. (I shamelessly mentioned tea and scones because of my fans in England.)

That reminds me of the time Homer Simpson complained about having to study English in high school. “English?” he asked. “Who needs that? I’m never going to England.” Well, maybe I’ll go to England someday. A book-signing there would be fab. Do any of you Brits own a bookstore?

The poems in these books are so short and rhyme-y that you’ll have no trouble memorizing them. That way, you can easily impress your friends with your love of poetry. Recite the verses (be sure to call them verses) at dinner parties, and place several copies on tables throughout your home.

Okay, I’m just being silly now. But seriously, even if you never read them, they just look cool because every Wordle fan will recognize them by the colors of their covers: fabulous Wordle Green, acceptable Wordle Yellow, and the less popular Wordle Gray.

AND, for a really special effect, you could purchase the compilation volume, which contains all three books in one (that’s 90 poems altogether!) and comes in a color heretofore unknown to Wordle gamers: Wordle Evergreen. This dark beauty will really pop on your bookshelf, especially when placed next to the other three books in the series.

You can use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon to read some of my Wordle poems. I hope some of them make you smile. That’s my main objective with the book, and with my life, too, I think.

Okay, that’s it for my shameless plug. Now, here’s my shameless Wordle result for today. My average is 4/6, so this 6/6 is nothing to brag about.

Do you play Wordle? And have you ever self-published a book? Let me know in the comments below.

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This is post #8 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

The Magic of Light

In 1666, while young Isaac Newton was quarantined in a dark bedroom to avoid catching the plague, he noticed a tiny beam of light pouring through a hole in his window. Using a glass prism, he bent the light to make a rainbow of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo. (Not violet, but that’s coming. For now, it’s just ROYGBI.)

Next, he reunited the ribbons of light using a second prism, turning them a solid white again. This was how he proved that light, which we perceive as white, is actually made up of several colors.

Newton then drew a chart of the six rainbow colors, adding a seventh one (you guessed, it, violet) by combining the first (red) with the sixth (indigo) in order to connect the arc together in a continuous circle.

And finally, he labeled his seven-color wheel with the letters A through G. Why did he choose these letters? He wanted them to match the seven notes in the western musical scale. I think he felt a connection between colors and music … as many people do. The connection is kind of magical (one could even say it’s a Rainbow Connection, especially if one were Kermit the Frog).

Here’s Newton’s illustration of the Color Wheel. Note that the sections are unevenly spaced, corresponding to the way notes on the musical scale are arranged (full steps after A, C, D, F, and G, but only half-steps after B and E).

Speaking of colors, here are some colorful autumn scenes, taken just last month. Click each one for a bigger burst of color.

Since Newton’s birthday is December 25, I’m going to go out on a limb (an apple tree limb, of course), and guess that his favorite colors were red and green. Mine are yellow and indigo. What are your favorite colors?

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This is post #7 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.