Tuesday, September 30, 2008


We had to clean our overstuffed house to show it to an appraiser today so we can refinance with a lower interest rate. Anyone who knows me knows how thrilled I am to tidy up. Cleaning the family room and maybe the kitchen for dinner guests is one thing. But...every corner and closet of every room...well, you know. So I paced myself perfectly. It took four days of focused dirty work to get to this point; one o'clock this afternoon - the hour of no return. So I was down to scrubbing the master bathroom and the family room, which was not that bad (so I left it for last), then a final vacuum sweep of the first floor. Whew! I am tired just remembering it! Anyway, I'm in my pj's at 11:30 am (because I want to shower AFTER I get all sweaty cleaning, and I started at 5 am, when normal people are still wearing pjs) and I'm halfway through sorting through the stuff on the bathroom counter when I go out to the kitchen to put away some clean dishcloths. As I pass through the family room I hear the flutter of wings, a whoosh of air, and a crash bang against one of the bay windows by the kitchen table. Once again I am visited by a pigeon, which has made his/her way down the chimney, out the fireplace and into the house. Sheesh, Mr/Ms Pigeon, could you have found a better time to visit? I have encountered many a pigeon this way, as our house sits in a lovely hollow full of trees and our chimney is the highest point. I am quite sure these are adolescent pigeons because #1: they egg each other on to head for the chimney, like the high dive for us humans ..."Come on Bert, you chicken!" and they head up to that way high chimney (I realize it is not really THAT high for birds). Then they sit on the edge of the chimney cap and pull faces, or tuck their wings under their wing-pits and strut around the edge until they fall in. And #2: they must be adolescents because they cannot see beyond their own beaks!
Usually I can whisper the birds to head to the open deck door, one whisper at a time, my soft reassuring voice guiding them to go toward the BIG light. All pigeons, I know this from experience, have the natural instinct to GO TOWARD THE LIGHT. The only problem is the glass gets in the way. So this pigeon on this busy and stressful morning, is the most un-whisperable stubborn creature ever to leave its sooty wing marks on our ceiling! Feathers are flying, droppings are...well, dropping. I am edgy because I have timed this morning and this was not in the plan and the dang bird just keeps slamming into the windows! Finally I stop whispering and I start yelling, the same strategy I used to try on my own adolescents. Same results, too. I try boxes and blankets and broom sticks. The dang thing even sat on the top of the back deck door and refused to look down 1/2 and inch to see it could simply fly out to his/her own personal freedom. I would have mused about the symbolism of it all; the trapped creature, the perceived enemy who is actually just trying to help, the irony of eyes fixed on the light beyond the glass when the open air is only inches away. Instead I called Libby to complain. "I can come down after I go list this house, she said" but I did not need her to fix it, I just needed her to hear me complain.
Well, ok, I did need her to fix it. So I am chasing this bird around the house in my blue pj's and the clock is ticking and the bathroom is only half cleaned and in walks Libby, who is not into whispering herself! I slide the vacuum over the floors so fast it cannot possibly suck up anything while Lib works on the winged intruder. Finally, after hearing various crashes and slam bangs, Libby declares she has liberated the bird! She runs off to do her real estate work and I head back to the bathroom, my face red as a freshly steamed summer beet. I hide the stache of unattended bathroom counter items in a basket and cover them with a towel, turn on the shower, slip out of my pjs, and THE DOORBELL RINGS! The appraiser is early! By the time I get to her there is no hiding the fact that I have had to exert more energy than I ever do in purposeful exercise just to get the place in the state where all I have to say is "Oh dear, please excuse the mess. I've just been so busy." At least the bird was gone before she came.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Encore...or is that On Cor

K, so I am headed once again into the studio in half an hour to get the final mixes for the Saints on the Seas album done. For a LIVE show it's not too bad. Piecing 9 people's microphones, 11 instruments, journal readings and lively audience response into a palatable piece is a task indeed. Mark Stephenson is MUCH more patient than I. After ten hours in the studio yesterday (on 4 hours of sleep the night before) I was HAMMERED! Hard to listen clearly under such taxing personal conditions. But what a BLAST to be back in the studio!

Our ENCORE performance of Saints on the Seas is this Friday...like 2 days from now...Eeeek! Details:

Saints on the Seas - a Musical Journey of Faith

Friday, Sept 26, 2008

8:00 pm

Tickets $8 available at http://www.coriconnors.com/ or at the door

Jefferson Hall 2604 Jefferson Ave OGDEN UT

I love doing this show. I'm not sure if its that I love the stories of my ancestors, both by faith and by blood, or if it is that I get to play music with people I love. Probably both. Last night at midnight I was listening through our day's work and each voice just made me tingle: Johnny's wonderful vocal and guitar style on The Leaving of Liverpool (I love singing harmonies with my son!) Tom's great edgy rendition of Haul Away Joe and Gael's lively hammers bouncing off the strings of her dulcimer next to him; Carla standing right next to me and feeling in tune with her, musically and otherwise--she is truly a sister-friend. And that Dave Eskelsen--he's gentle and steady and strong...on guitar, in his voice, and really, in every other way! Then of course there is one of my favorite all-time-people, Mark Robinette, whose talent is exceeded only by his kindness and great humor! His daughter Maura is getting married today and Judge Dave gets to marry them! (and I get to sing!) I can't believe Maura is this old. And what a great companion she has!

Last night (very late) I was typing up things for the CD cover and I realized what a family affair this project is! I love to hear Dave's voice in the narration. It comforts me, and I don't even care what it is he is saying! And my sister Libby does all the video work and reads one entry on the CD because the entry (read by Gael in the show) had too much distortion in the microphone on the live show. And my niece-in-love Katie Riggs Hansen is the other narrator. Before Katie it was our Kate who read that part, but she had to go and move to Houston! And before Kate, it was our Sarah who read that part, but she had to go and move to Kansas City! Good thing we have a big family! I just love creating together with these people!

So now I'd better go gather my goods and head into the studio! AHOY!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


9/11 September 11, 2008

It was morning and I had not yet showered and dressed. Late summer, with the peaches heavy in the trees and kids back in school. September always brings the relief of routine, a sort of emotional hunkering down. The flow of “back to school” having in my life only a tiny handful of years’ break between being a student and being the parent of students. I crave September like I crave the corn of August and the Manning’s harvest of early Alberta’s that I peel and chunk into fresh peach pie. I was savoring the taste of September; the independence, the freshness of being alone in the house while the kids were safe in their classrooms, the bedroom window left open to welcome crisp September morning air. Then the phone rang.
“Turn on your TV.” It was Libby, her voice a strange blend of anxious and sober. “What’s wrong?” Like a mounting wave I felt the rise of impending doom. I could sense it in her voice. Sometimes you know someone so well you can hear their message without their words. I found the remote at the side of the bed as I held the phone in my other hand.
“What channel?”
“Doesn’t matter.”
Smoke was rising from a tall building. “What is that?” I asked Libby, before I could comprehend what the newscasters were saying. A plane had crashed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Smack into it, like it meant to do it. Plumes of fire and smoke evolved in the minutes that followed, and then, as if it were a show with average special effects, another plane flew into the other tower. “Did you see that? What happened? Is this real?” We agreed to just watch, and I hung up the phone.
The morning light that washes our bedroom window crossed over the top of the house and made its way to the back deck by the time the kids came home from school. I spent that time sitting on the side of my bed, ignoring hunger, neglecting the laundry, forgetting to shower, forgetting to dress. Charlie Gibson stayed with me all morning as I shifted from the side of the bed to the chair in the bedroom, to my knees at my bedside, to standing with fists at my hips, facing the TV screen head-on in disbelief.
I don’t really remember where I was when President Kennedy died. I was 5 years old. But I remember my mom made me quit doing cartwheels in the empty living room of our new house in Pittsburgh on the day of his funeral. She made me stop and watch our black and white console, not because she had any intense desire for me to remember what was happening, but because it just felt right to be still. On September 11, 2001 I knew, as I was living it, that this was a moment to be still. I wanted to find my children and pull them into me; to beckon my husband home from a trial in Denver. As it turned out they would not let him fly home. All planes were grounded. He recalls the desperate feeling of needing to be with us and not being allowed to get there. He finally found a rental car, a miracle indeed, and he welcomed a stranger to join him when the rentals were sold out. They drove through the night across the mountains.
That next spring I travelled with Kate’s Madrigals group to NYC for some performances. We visited Ground Zero the afternoon after one of their shows. Silently we passed the makeshift wooden walls that sheltered the place where cranes and workers sifted through the remains of the tragedy. Plywood walls were covered with home-made posters of the missing, the corners of the papers curled in around the staples that held them in place. Stuffed animals sunk into the creases between the ground planks and the walls, weathered and compressed by rain and dust, their fur all matted and fading. Flower vases tipped over against them, with brown stems bent and broken, stuck inside the glass. We filed through one by one, until we gathered at the apex. Our children put their arms around each other and began to sing. Softly. Reverently. “Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light. What so proudly we hailed in the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight o’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.” We wept like babies, we parents who were there huddled around the circle of our children. They sounded like angels.
This morning I pull the drawer of my jewelry chest open and dig through my disorganization. I can feel it by its shape, a metal rectangle with a tack on the back. I close my eyes for a moment, to remind myself and my God that I have not forgotten, then I pin my 9/11 Olympics pin on my lapel. Red white and blue, and the word “Remember”.
Some things we must not forget, not because we need to recall our anger at the enemy, or the feelings of helplessness that come with attack. What I must not forget is that I am part of a large and beautiful whole. Not just an American, though that matters to me very much. I remind myself that I am part of a family of souls who share this good earth, its good and its evil. I remind myself that what hurts or helps one of us hurts or helps all of us; that I may wish to be separate but I will never be alone. By divine nature we are connected, and I make the conscious choice to embrace that connectedness, not out of duty, but out of love.

(Where were you on Sept 11, 2001?

Here's a site for the NYC Memorial: http://www.tributewtc.org/index.php)