Kristyn's Once in a Blue Moon Blog

Horse moments - reminiscing 

The round pen sits stagnant. Freshly mowed, but abandoned all the same; the barrels inside blown askew and the gate hanging open like it might've rusted that way. 

A background theme of muttering tree locusts and a partially baked evening stillness solidifies this melancholy. 

This mood...that conjures up sweaty, euphoric, frustrating and rewarding memories inside those round paneled walls. Perhaps also it conjures up the mood of an eerie movie scene, like a gunfight brewing in the deafening streets of a ghost town. 

But mostly it reminds me of soft eyes and long brown lashes, feathered feet and a lowered head, and lots of hours that felt like minutes. Lots of try, lots of love and lots of circles. 

I freeze up facing toward it, mind's eye cast inward but outwardly comforted by the west invasion of heat, and not unaware of an attached shadow fleeing eastward and grandly extending my stature in the process. 

The perfect time of day to be inside the round pen, one on one with a powerful four legged, frightened or obstinate or unsure. Or, as often the case with my girl, eagerly willing. 

The pain and surreality of the present forks through this image in a heartbeat, and my inward vision becomes outward and glassy. 

My attention swerves to the hitching post, then to the tying tree, and then out to the pasture where soft grazing snorts waft timidly within earshot. 

The girl that stole my heart. The horse that rescued my childhood. The horse that waited at the fence for me to finish schoolwork. The mare that outsmarted and tested me. The mare that could have been a human in so many instances. 

I suddenly see the years behind me billowing out of reach like the changing scenes of a sleep induced dream, and I mourn them. 

Where did those moments go? When time would stand still at the lick of her lips, signaling victory of an intense goal. At the leaping of my senses when she leapt obstacles to run to me from the pasture. At days when she and I were the only two on planet earth together.

Dog Days of Summer 

My yard is drowning in tennis balls. Yet they are so effectively hidden in the like-colored grass and unlikely-to-be-looked-at treetops that upon first glance, one would never guess it. 
While indulging repeated rounds of fetch, I hazily philosophize: the temporary comfort gleaned from gazing at such an ideal layer of outward ease lasts only until the realization dawns that underneath exists nothing but insanity - and the fact that I am gifted at getting things stuck in trees. 

But such seems to be the general trend of life... 

Despite this, my tennis ball infested yard makes me very happy. 
(One could argue that this is because I am not responsible for mowing.) 

The real culprit of this chaos is now sideways sprawled on the cool concrete by my feet, panting and sleeping in such an efficient multitasking manner that it will only be a matter of minutes before she is both energized and cooled enough to go for another manic race around the house and out the doggy door, not failing to decimate a forlorn flip flop or two before I even summon the forethought stand up. 
My life feels so cartoon-like at times that I picture her as a roadrunner and myself, most often, suspended in air off the edge of a cliff trying to keep up. 

Suspended or no, though, I am assuredly of the non panting breed; instead, this Texas summer day has my shirt sticking to my sides and stray hairs bedspringing from my brow. I have convinced myself that ear tagging cows this morning in full ferocity of the sun only added a friendly layer of freckles to my face, but still have yet to remove the dirt (perhaps mistaken as freckles) to reveal whether a sunburn exists underneath. I feel, in either case, that my prolonged contact with the cloudless heat has squeezed most of the energy from me... or whatever could have been left of it, after changing 3 time zones in a week and lately being chewed up and spit out by the shopping mall due to an annoyingly necessary list.

Songwriting Blues 

I lament the brevity of warm and happy afternoon sunshine.
It has already begun its withdrawal from the living room window, and from my back, as minutes tick closer to was just the thing I needed to chase the almost-winter-chill and almost-winter-blues. 
Dark chocolate crosses my mind as replacement, or maybe a hot bath. 

The dog paces vacantly in front of me, perhaps fighting her own case of winter blues and lack of vitamin D. I scoot closer to the window, blinking at her empathetically.  She's 14 years old and mostly deaf, but her company makes me happy. 

It is approaching weekend, with no gigs at all. I fight the guilt that creeps in when I'm not busying myself, being productive somehow...going somewhere or battling the thing I fear to even look at, the to-do list.
But it is has given my brain a chance to un-flurry itself...  and write.

Time off is an interesting phenomenon; like a gift card to the feed store, or Guitar Center. There's so many good things to do with it that are not ordinarily within the realm of possibility, I don't know how to spend it first -- and it's easy to sit around deciding so long that it eventually expires.
Sitting around could be a kind of nice phenomenon in itself, though...

I've been in a writing mood all day. My eyes drift and fall onto the guitar, off its stand and leaning against the sofa, where I laid it down moments ago -- alluring me, as it has been since this morning. 
Though right now I'm disinfatuated. Almost indignant; as a kid sticking out their tongue.
It has strung my brain and my emotions through a lot in one day, promising songs -- new ones, good ones -- or at least one; not letting loose of my being as I wrestle for the perfect lyric and chord, knowing I'm within reach. 
And I ponder, now, whether perfectionism is an inherent or learned characteristic. I'm pretty sure I must have gotten a dose of each. 

My indignance comes to the rescue. Not justifying forfeit, but allowing a timeout of sorts; easing the pressure for this evening and letting my brain simmer...
Which it will: in the shower, in bed, in the barn, at the wheel.  
And thus I sit, staring at the guitar in its seductive glory, admiring but not moving from my sun absorbent huddle. 
Released from its immediate creative writing assignments, my mind defaults to sticky Christmas songs, though it's well into January. I start humming, something resemblant of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and the mostly deaf dog stops her pacing to peer at me. 

Christmas has a way of sneaking up on me. This December, no exception, blew by in an awful hurry. In fact, it felt almost distant and surreal, as if Christmas season and everything that goes with it descended on everyone except me this year.  

Christmas music usually helps put me in the yuletide mood more than anything. Not really the mood I was looking for on this January day... 

Next weekend I get to launch full force back into gigging and traveling, and I'm already dreading the 6am plane flight. As usual, I'm a little nervous. But so much more, I'm excited. And truthfully, it's easy for gigging to become so routine that I forget to be excited as I once was. I do believe hum-drum will take over anybody's life if they let it. 
Sometimes, too, it’s hard to grasp ownership of the title “musician”. 
Until I try to imagine myself doing something else instead, and then realize that ownership was never up for debate in my mind.

In the meantime, I take advantage of the rest of the evening. Muddy cat prints on the toilet seat and spending a full 45 minutes grooming dirt clods off of my two horses are sure signs of winter in Texas, if nothing else. Ponying Roy next to Velvet has been good for him lately...
We head out, him rearing and leaping and lagging and spooking and firing forward, while Velvet calmly and steadily jogs on. I can almost hear the sarcastic mare comments parading out of her brain. 
 A quarter mile or so later, he learns his job and settles into an easy gait beside her, only once in awhile showing his rebellion through a nip to her hiney. He has the kind of baby face you can't hate, though, and even Velvet puts up with him cheerfully. A breeze plays at the tail of my braid, and steady trotting for the last mile has pumped rosiness through my limbs and my smile. This beats dark chocolate or a hot bath, I reckon. Both horses are relaxed, hardly even raising a head when the posse of bicyclists pass down the FM road. We find a steady rhythm, and a setlist begins to form in my head for next weekend.  

Hope to see y'all there. 
Kristyn's Schedule

p.s. The song is finished.

Home Again 

(after 28 shows in the last 30 days, 4 states and 1 foreign country....)

Carefree, intermittent tail swishing. One horse standing at a comradely nearness, eyes closed in a 3 legged stance, contentedly soaking the morning sun into his coat and head cocked to create a perfectly backlit outline of his shaggy chin hairs, viewed from my angle.
Cat rolling euphorically in the dirt, never straying too far from the spot he knows I'm perched...perched in my pjs, upon the cement block neighboring the water trough. A spot of happy childhood memory, as it was once the cow milking station where I found myself each morning for daily chores, usually crooning or belting or yodeling...
This morning though, just perched; while I, like horse and cat, accept full enjoyment from the autumnish morning and the sun rays' beautifully catatonic effect. The light and warmth, the companions, the memories and the smells, all triggering happy endorphins.

A few yards distant - alpha mare, the last to clean up the breakfast hay morsels; rhythmically and audibly chewing, until she steps over to the water trough, eventually raising up a dripping muzzle that puddles its flow directly onto my bare feet.
The water temperature is daze awakening worthy, but not at all disturbing of the lovely moment for me...rather, an addition to it.

Not willing to part with this sweet morning hour, and deciding the best photographs are taken with my mind, I turn my phone face down. Welcome home to me.

    Road Travel, Ride Travel, and Other Random Stuff 

    The banks of the road are white. Not in a fluffy and pristine way; but even with its secondhand, sun-shriveled look, the snow excites me. I am a Texan, after all.
    We are driving home from Albuquerque, where the WMA Convention and Awards took place.
    Rather, Daddy is driving, while the upright bass, my new Taylor guitar and I are sharing seat space. I just barely claimed the shotgun spot.
    Daddy has his headphones in with the ball game broadcast, and I am getting my first listen of Randy and Hannah Huston's new CD, via the car stereo.
    It is close to dusk, and I have a lighthearted feeling that I can't quite identify. The award win really hasn’t sunk in yet, though the notion of it hovers.
    It doesn’t often get to happen that he’s along on a trip, so I’m grateful Daddy is with me. Even without conversation, there’s something very comforting in knowing he’s there and doing such daddy-like activities as listening to basketball and driving. Nothing much has changed since I was little, in that department.
    I love the CD. Randy has a songwriting style that hits me at my core... perfectly timed and phrased lyric, full of reality and depth.  Impeccable cowboy humor. They are a cowboy’s words straight from a cowboy, as only Randy can string them together.
    As each new song line puts me more in awe, I wistfully realize that, had I been writing the same song, I could have never come up with such clever lines.
    But I’m grateful for knowing people who do what I can’t, for that’s what inspires me (and, on certain days causes me want to quit on the spot).
    With a blissfully silenced cell phone, I ponder.
    Music is fascinating. Versatile at affecting people, expert at dabbling with emotions – my own musical hunger is so varied, even within one genre.
    Dave Stamey's songwriting style is different than Randy’s, but it’s just as captivating and real. His lyric, voice quality and guitar work combination gives me goosebumps.
    Sons of the San Joaquin are their own kind of stellar; they, too, affect me profoundly, with their deep voices, head swimming harmony, arrangements, and the stories Jack Hannah tells with his own brand of songwriting.
    Then there is Bob Wills, The Time Jumpers, Carolyn Martin. Western Swing done right – it perforates me as deeply as anything could.
    Not the lyrics so much, but the in-the-pocket, swinging Sound – is there even a word for it? 
    The twin fiddle lick and the solid rhythm section, pulsing with life; the band working as a unit, and the masterful, exhilarating chord movements; it makes my whole body tingle with delight.
    And here I describe merely the listening side of it.
    As all these thoughts meander through my brain, and Randy's CD continues to accompany them, I grin at the endless blurred flatness passing by.
    I grin because this music feeds my heart and soul.
    A waltz comes on, Hannah's voice. A waltz I have recorded and sang myself over the last couple years, with her permission: Guardian Angel.
    My older gelding, first horse, and best friend for much of my life, passed away this year. He taught me so much. He was really the starting point for discovering my two biggest life passions.
    Still, I've continued singing the song at gigs, in auto mode I guess.
    But hearing someone else sing it...
    I start to sob, quietly. Daddy is oblivious, headphones still in, focused on the road. I have my peace to be heartbroken, so I don't smother it. The sun takes its cue and surrenders, providing the perfect environment for tears.
    Fast forward, and I’m home. December is a much slower gig month - no out of town shows - which is timely.
    I love to gig. But there’s never enough to be said for time at home and in the saddle. One does not appreciate it half so much until they’ve been using travel sized toiletries for a good chunk of the year.
    I take Velvet out and down the road, past the neighbor’s fenceline, putting her through gait transitions – slow jog, extended trot, back to jogging. She needs this as much as I do.
    The neighbor’s horses see her from across the pasture and come at us full tilt, bucking and whinnying rudely. They slow up just in time to snort and throw their noses over the top fence wire.
    Velvet’s attention swerves their direction, but I place my leg gently behind her shoulder to keep her from veering, and she listens.
    I have a flashback to her as a young filly -- she greenbroke, me pretending I wasn’t.
    At that time she would have (and many times did) fight the reins from my hands and jerk me toward the fence to sniff noses with her pals and have her customary mare snit.
    Today my reins are loose, and she is attentive and soft. It’s the little things that bring delight.
    There is no such thing as boredom in my life. Gigs can be as versatile and varied as music can.
    One private gig last week was…unusual, for western music.
    Highland Park, Dallas. Each single house takes up the size of a cow pasture, practically.
    I get to be the bass player; Rich O'Brien and Devon Dawson make up the rest of the evening's trio.
    (Imagine hauling an instrument larger than yourself through a marble mansion, maneuvering it around crystal wine glass table settings, and not looking where you're going because your eyes are bugging out.) We are hired for acoustic background music.
    It’s true, an appreciative and attentive audience is the prayer and prize of every performer – myself included – but once in awhile it’s definite fun to simply play music, not a show. And so we do.
    We’re set up on the fire lit back porch, which gazes out at a swimming pool and full sized putting green. This is a backyard of the sort where they’ve probably even paid the fire ants to pack up and leave.
    I play the better part of the evening on songs I’ve never heard, and I love it. Devon and Rich are a storehouse like you wouldn’t believe: old songs, cowboy songs, 1940s tunes, broadway tunes, songs by groups and singers I’ve never heard of but feel like I should have. The guests never notice the difference.
    Devon names a key, Rich counts it, and off we go.
    At the risk of sounding like a grandmother…they just plain don’t write songs nowadays like they used to. Especially some of the exquisite melody and chord progressions.
    It's not needed, so I sing minimally during the evening. Although, chiming in harmony during “Blue Canadian Rockies” is slightly addicting.
    Now and again I wish I was holding a guitar.
    Rich says, “You could play a half diminished in that spot,” as Devon searches for the somewhat unfamiliar chord on her fretboard.
    I want to learn too.
    What fun is playing a half diminished (aka a minor 7thb5) on the bass?
    Not as fun as on the guitar, I can tell you that.
    The days march on as the gigs do. A cat purrs, asleep, on my lap, and I’m finding it difficult to type and pet at the same time.
    Thanksgiving is tomorrow. ‘Tis the season to fire up the wood stove (even if it’s just 50 degrees outside - see sentence #3) and gather loved ones, of which I have too many to count.
    I am indeed blessed. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Rainy Day Ramblings - First Blog Post 

    Today is rainy. A chili type day, though I don’t have any.
    The horses are muddy. Velvet's mane curls up in the wet weather like mine's delightful. I can see her through the window; I go out to nuzzle her briefly, hurdling from the door into the dank wind, on my way scaring 3 cuddled up cats out of their cozy porch chair. I leap the fence and find quick shelter between two large bodies...I am still in socked feet. No wonder 90% of my socks are only 80% still in one piece.
    It's a day off. Feels like it should be. There are no gigs, and I am home. I have spent a good chunk of it aggressively pushing through an impressive pile of business phone calls, emails, contracts, letters, CD mailings; tirelessly date juggling, decision making (trying), organizing (attempting), letting the dog out, planning, worrying, wishing, time wasting, resetting the wifi modem, letting the dog in. I have checked off an also impressive portion of my To Do list. The current count now left on that list is 98. 23 of those items are relatively urgent. 6 of those urgent items require me to sing to practice/rehearse. The doc told me to rest my voice.
    10 or so items are floating around in my brain that need to be added to the To Do list but frustratingly won't come back to mind when I'm ready to write them down. More worrying follows.
    The house is fairly clean and neat, and that makes for a joyful yellow kitchen light across white counters, to counter the soggy greyness outside. My bedroom is a different story.
    Don't get me wrong, I love rainy days. Rain is a blessing in Texas no matter which way you look at it. I often love to spend damp and cloudy days outside. I can embrace a wet world, and a sky with personality and character, and the slightly adventurous suspense it adds to the air. But I have to be in that adventurous mood. That same cloudy day can also make me feel like the depths of the dirty clothes basket.
    Lamps throughout the dark corners of the house also cheer me. It crossed my mind earlier to spend part of the afternoon on a drawing and painting project I’ve wanted to start – perfect thing for a rainy day. Sometimes it’s hard to dedicate time and focus to something that doesn’t seem imminently required, when so many other things are. Eventually, and after searching in vain for the materials I need, it becomes too late to start. It’s now on my calendar for another day. I look forward to a day spent being artsy, in a visual way. I used to do a lot more of that before my art became audial.
    I sing anyway. Despite doctor orders, time is precious and I need to practice. Several brand new singing collaboration performances I’m involved with are drawing close – songs I have yet to learn.
    That aside, even with a sore throat, I find it difficult to stop; unintentional as it is. I catch myself absentmindedly singing throughout the day, as I'm doing … Practically everything, except possibly teeth brushing.
    Funny what you never realize you do until you're told not to do it.
    Putting my hands on the guitar makes me smile, of course. A little unsure how I sound as I practice, or if this will still be a good key when my voice feels better. This aching throat has hung around too long. It’s had no rest - I can’t be surprised. But it's wearing on me. I want to belt out in my practice, but I restrain myself.
    I feel like a procrastinator, always trying to get everything done last minute. So many things seem to never get done. But then, when would I possibly have squeezed them in before now? When will I still squeeze them in, yet? Don't answer that. The thought of being a procrastinator guilts me. The refrigerator door opens.
    Today would be a good book reading day, if I had a good book to read. A day for something fictional and utterly for pleasure...not educational. That has its place, but not on a rainy chili type feels-like-a-day-off day. I just want to be swept away.
    A can of soup will suffice instead of chili.
    I stare at the piles of papers. I wonder to myself - if the digital age of emails, Facebook and websites didn't exist, would that stack of papers be large enough to fill the entire house? It seems probable. The stack is intimidating even now.
    One particular letter sits on top of the paper stack. A 5 page letter, ever so thoughtfully and carefully handwritten by a fan in Nevada. A letter worth saving. A letter he would be delighted to receive a response to. I need also to follow up on the venue that he mentions in the letter, a theater in his hometown he would love me to play at someday.
    I have always loved letter writing, actually. Handwritten ones – though, a real old fashioned typewriter would also be very exciting. If I were collecting a Wish List instead of a To Do list...   ah, I’m silly I suppose.
    When I was younger I wanted a pen pal. That was back when the clocks ticked slower, somehow.
    And I've always been old fashioned. But right now....
    I have a weekend full of gigs ahead of me. I’m excited for each one – how many people get to work and play at the same time? I am supposed to give a workshop, as well, which sets my nerves to wracking. It’s all going to be extremely fun. Even so, I'm not letting myself think about the gigs or even pack yet. Today gets to be separate.
    After contemplation, though, it might be smart if I think about at least UN-packing from my last trip…
    My mind drifts. Get the farrier out, I can add that to the To Do list. I’m thinking of the muddy horses. My 3 year old needs some riding. Not hard, for now - just enough to engage his mind, and gain his confidence. But regular. It takes dedicated time.
    Wet saddleblankets, maybe, in one sense...
    Not today's type of wet.

    The sleeping dog drools across my feet, and I get up to throw on work boots and slosh to the barn. There's nothing like the noise of rain on a barn roof, and the smell of it at the same time. Rain amplifies the muskiness and general sweet and distinct barn odor, and I am happy. Bluebonnet seems happy too, chewing her cud. She doesn't calve for another few weeks, and she's looking healthy. At least she has the presence of mind to stay out of the mud more than the horses do. 
    The dark day is getting darker. I've spent what time I could have used letter writing, writing this instead.
    I think about curling up inside Daddy's big jacket, and the Bible lying on my bed. It's a comforting thought.
    I think I'll feed the horses, heat up some soup, and take the day off.