Sunday, March 19, 2017

In the Beginning

Sunrise Over 7th Street, looking East from my store.

Before I begin, I would like to extend my condolences to one of my oldest friends, Steve R. in Virginia who lost his Mom this week.  She was a gentile Southern Lady who was charming, funny, gracious and compassionate.  She will be missed I know, but the circle of life will continue and memories of her will warm the hearts of all who knew her.


 When I first came to the offices of Stay The Course at the behest of the VA, I did so with not a little trepidation but a lot.  Was I ready to reveal all my deep dark secrets?  I did not know, but I did know that I had to change the course of my life and thoughts or I was going to end up in that rubber room with a straight jacket.  I had been seeing my psychiatrist, Dr Moradi, at the VA on a quarterly basis and she recommended I engage a therapist and pointed me in the direction of Stay the Course.  I placed a desperate phone call and of course got voice mail.  I left a message and Tempa called me back and set an appointment for our first session.  It was early in the establishment of her practice with just she and one other therapist.  I have watched her practice grow to several therapists and staff members.  Many of the staff there are either Veterans themselves or spouses of Veterans, all of whom have the best interests of the Veterans and First Responders who come to them for assistance foremost in their minds.  Tempa herself is married to a Veteran and knows first hand how difficult life is when transitioning from military to civilian life.  Our common experiences as Veterans or First Responders results in a shared bond which one cannot really understand without having been there, done that for yourself.

Tempa is a tall willowy red head with a heart as big as Texas with whom I found it easy to talk.  In our first session, she asked me what my goal was for my course of therapy.  I forget now what turn of phrase I used at the time but basically I wanted Clarity,  Stability and Sanity.  I am a classic bi-polar person.  It was either depression so deep as to be inconsolable or giddy happiness that knew no bounds.  I wanted to be somewhere in the middle with the ability to handle the daily stress that comes with life.  If there is anything I have learned in my lifetime, it is the fact that I can only handle so much stress (very little in fact) before having an adverse reaction to it.  Medication certainly helps, but the ability to handle stress for me is that core feeling of inner peace, and I had no such feeling when I began my sessions with Tempa.

I am prone to erratic behavior, irrational thought, extremely OCD and easily angered.  I am also the caring, compassionate, witty 'Uncle' to everyone.  I often try to provide the means to achieve that inner peace for others that I so desperately seek for myself.  Unfortunately for me, that inner peace has never been possible.  I am closer now than ever I have been.  Tempa has guided me in my journey to get as far as I have.  I have revealed to her things I have never told anyone, often not even myself.  She helped to pry open the cellar door in my mind, sweep out the corners and is helping me to discover what I need to keep and what I need to throw away.  She has helped me to see that staying in the here and now moving forward is the more preferable state of being.  The Past is full of pain, pitfalls and traps which lures me in and then destroy my mental state which has painful physical ramifications.  However, by taking past events in my life, examining them one at a time, then deciding whether it is a treasure to be kept or just plain trash which needs to be disposed of properly has not been an easy task.  I have had to remember things sometimes best forgotten and un-remember things that did not promote a healthy mental state.  I am by no means done with my journey, but before I can tell you where I am going, I must first tell you where I have been. I have hopes my story will help someone else avoid some of the pains and pitfalls life throws at one when one least expects it.

It will take a while for the whole story to come out and deciding to share my tightly bound and hidden secrets was not an easy choice.  However, I have learned to loose their bonds, deal with them face to face one at a time and move on.  Learning how to deal with my issues has helped me face life with a few more tools in the box to deal with whatever comes my way and the way of others in my life.  I have held some of these things so tightly and buried so deep for so long, I had no recollection of them.  In order to discover what has been hidden in the corners of my mind, I must first sort through the pile of crap covering them before I can see what is truly in those dark corners.  Next week I will begin the uncovering with events of my youth, which of course is long past at his point and not always on ready recall.  The past is never as really clear as what we think it is and only by a careful examination of these things can one retain as valuable or reject as unnecessary what it is one finds there.  I hope this will not be as painful for you as it has proven to be for me.


For your listening pleasure today, I have another of my favorites among the Italian Baroque composers, Luigi Boccherini, with this recording of 5 of his 6 Flute Quintets featuring Jean-Pierre Rampal, Flute; Régis Pasquier, Violin; Roland Pidoux, Violoncello; Mathilde Sternat, Violoncello and Bruno Pasquier, Viola.  You will find the play list after the video.  Also after the playlist is this week's visual treats.  This week we are sticking with the Art side of Male Art with 7 more paintings of young men.  Thank you for the visit, please do come again and as always, Enjoy!

Quintet No. 3 in C Major, G. 439 : I. Allegro vivace (Instrumental) 00:00 
Quintet No. 3 in C Major, G. 439 : II. Cantabile (Instrumental)  
Quintet No. 3 in C Major, G. 439 : III. Andante con variazioni (Instrumental) 
Quintet No. 2 in G Major, G. 438 : I. Allegro (Instrumental)15:00 
Quintet No. 2 in G Major, G. 438 : II. Adagio non tanto (Instrumental) 
Quintet No. 2 in G Major, G. 438 : III. Andante con variazioni (Instrumental) 
Quintet No. 1 in F Major, G. 437 : I. Allegro (Instrumental) 28:51 
Quintet No. 1 in F Major, G. 437 : II. Largo (Instrumental) 
Quintet No. 1 in F Major, G. 437 : III. Grazioso (Instrumental) 
Quintet No. 5 in G Major, G. 441 : I. Moderato (Instrumental 41:00 
Quintet No. 5 in G Major, G. 441 : II. Adagio (Instrumental) 
Quintet No. 5 in G Major, G. 441 : III. Grazioso (Instrumental) 
Quintet No. 6 in B-flat Major, G. 442 : I. Allegro (Instrumental) 53:45 
Quintet No. 6 in B-flat Major, G. 442 : II. Adagio (Instrumental) 
Quintet No. 6 in B-flat Major, G. 442 : III. Rondeau. Grazioso (Instrumental

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mental Health and Me

"Omaha Electrified"

Over the course of my time in absentia from these pages, I have been on a journey of Discovery.  I was seeking to plumb the depths of my mind to understand the causal factors behind my mental and behavioral health issues.  It has been a difficult journey at times and just as hard on Will as it has been on me.  In order to understand myself I engaged the services of Tempa Sherrill M.S., LPC, the founder of Stay the Course Veterans Services to guide my process.  Tempa has become more than a therapist to me, she is the friend I needed who could listen without judgment and offer practical solutions to help me as I resolved my issues.  I will be eternally grateful to her for her warmth, compassion and understanding as she has guided me to a better place than ever I have been.

There have been many painful moments in our discussions as I opened the cellar door in my mind to let the secrets out one at a time.  Above anything else however, she has helped me get to the point where I can honestly say "It is totally OK to be me".  A simple statement that has profound reverberations in all facets of my life.  To be sure the medications proscribed by my VA psychiatrist and other VA Doctors have aided the journey.  I am in fact healthier physically than I have been in a while.  Mentally I am still getting there, but I know I am on the right path with the proper support group to insure I get to where I want to be.  

As I reiterate my adventures (and misadventures) along the way, I hope to broaden your knowledge base as well as receive the cathartic recompense from seeing my life in printed form.  I will also try to make it as interesting as possible with out being over bearing or boring.  There has been laughter and tears, terror and calm and everywhere in between as I have wandered the dark corners and bright paths in my own mind.  I will also try to help eliminate the stigmatic specter that usually blossoms in the minds of people when the phrase mental health is mentioned.  Not everyone with mental or behavioral health issues is bat shit crazy or an inmate in the asylum.  But lots of folks need a little help understanding themselves and their relationship to the world around them, myself included.  I hope you stick around as I fight the procrastination bug each week in order to indeed put my life in print.  I hope you sitick around for the journey that is Nichevo.


Now for your listening pleasure, I have an excellent recording of the Teleman Double  Concerti for an instrument not often heard in concert today, the Recorder, featuring Erik Bosgraaf as the soloist.  Erik Bosgraaf has won international acclaim for his Brilliant Classics recordings of music from Jakob van Eyck (Der Fluyten Lust Hof, BC93391) to Pierre Boulez (Dialogues, BC94842). His discography includes no fewer than three previous albums dedicated to Georg Philipp Telemann, the composer who more than any other in the German Baroque elevated the recorder and its relatives to the status of a high-art instrument, capable of hitherto undreamt expressive range and technical refinement. 

This recording contains the double concerti with recorder: for two recorders or in combination with transverse flute, bassoon or viola da gamba. Telemann himself was a professional recorder player. These concerti contain some of his most personal music, his usual brilliance, wit and virtuosity alternate with passages of deep emotion and melancholy. 

Erik Bosgraaf is one of the most remarkable recorder players of today. Equally at home in early as well as contemporary music he extends the limits of his instrument, achieving an extreme range of expression and unheard-of effects.  Erik is joined on the recording by his friends and Ensemble Cordevento.
You will find the track list just below the recording.  Following that is a bit of the Art side of Male Art with these six photographs of young men for you to peruse.  Thanks for the visit and as always, Enjoy!.

00:00:00 Concerto for Recorder and Flute in E Minor, TWV 52:e1: I. Largo
00:03:52 Concerto for Recorder and Flute in E Minor, TWV 52:e1: II. Allegro
00:08:07 Concerto for Recorder and Flute in E Minor, TWV 52:e1: III. Largo
00:11:47 Concerto for Recorder and Flute in E Minor, TWV 52:e1: IV. Presto
00:14:32 Concerto for 2 Recorders in A Minor, TWV 52:a2: I. Gravement
00:16:45 Concerto for 2 Recorders in A Minor, TWV 52:a2: II. Vistement
00:18:19 Concerto for 2 Recorders in A Minor, TWV 52:a2: III. Largement
00:20:16 Concerto in for 2 Recorders in A Minor, TWV 52:a2: IV. Vivement
00:22:24 Concerto for Recorder and Bassoon in F Major, TWV 52:F1: I. Largo
00:26:50 Concerto for Recorder and Bassoon in F Major, TWV 52:F1: II. Vivace
00:32:11 Concerto for Recorder and Bassoon in F Major, TWV 52:F1: III. —
00:36:27 Concerto for Recorder and Bassoon in F Major, TWV 52:F1: IV. Allegro
00:39:58 Concerto for Recorder and Viola da Gamba in A Minor ,TWV 52:a1: I. Grave
00:43:48 Concerto for Recorder and Viola da Gamba in A Minor ,TWV 52:a1: II. Allegro
00:47:54 Concerto for Recorder and Viola da Gamba in A Minor ,TWV 52:a1: III. Dolce
00:51:25 Concerto for Recorder and Viola da Gamba in A Minor ,TWV 52:a1: IV. Allegro
00:55:37 Concerto for 2 Recorders in B-Flat Major, TWV 52:B1: I. Grave
00:57:44 Concerto for 2 Recorders in B-Flat Major, TWV 52:B1: II. Vivace
00:59:17 Concerto for 2 Recorders in B-Flat Major, TWV 52:B1: III. Tendrement
01:01:05 Concerto for 2 Recorders in B-Flat Major, TWV 52:B1: IV. Gayment

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Mellow and Musical

This week has been a good one, starting with last week's concert. It was a fabulous performance that got a very favorable review in the F W Star Telegram.  The second part of the concert was the Dvorak Cello Concerto with soloist Johannes Moser.  Prior to the concert I had purchased his CD with the Dvorak on it and I was lucky enough to be first in line to have him autograph the cover for me.  I really liked the little Cellist he drew on his shirt on the cover.  His performance was a rapturous rendition of one of my favorite concerti as was the rest of the concert.

The concert energized me for the week and it turned an ordinary week into an upbeat experience topped off with another raise on Friday as well as the weekend off.  I have been house vegging all weekend just because I could.  I spend so much time on the run it is nice to have nothing to do for a change

I have a check up appointment so my surgeon can look at my surgical wound and its healing.  It looks good in the mirror but there is a depression where the cyst was that I am hoping will fill back in over time.  but I have full use of my arm and shoulder which is the important thing.

I don't have much on the agenda this week, so I am hoping for and upbeat yet quiet week at work.  They have adjusted my schedule at my request and my doctors behest to slw down.  Like I mentioned earlier, the weekend is mine as I approached their wwallet and said surely there is someone you could pay less than me to stand at the register for 3 hours while Robin did the work which is basically my function on Saturday.  My replacement makes 2 dollars an hour less and I have one less work day in my week.  They have also adjusted the Tuesday Truck Night so I am only there from 10 pm to 2 am  help with the truck and then go home.  This will make it easier for me with a few less hours (which I don't need) and one less work day (which I do need).  Let's hope my upward trend and mellow mood continue into the coming weeks and months ahead.

The play list for today contains one of my all time favorite transciptions. The Sonata for Arpeggione and Pianoforte in A minor, D 821 by Franz Schubert was written for an instrument  very similar to the Violoncello.  The Arpeggione as an instrument is no longer around and this Sonata is the sole surviving composition for that instrument.  Today it is hauntingly beautiful in the modern transcription most often heard for Cello and Piano.  The first recording in the playlist is the 1976 recording featuring Lynn Harrell on Piano and James Levine of the NY Metropolitan Opera on Piano.  However I also find it wonderfully transcribed for Viola and Guitar and just as hauntingly beautiful.  The latest recording and the second in the playlist is by the duo of Andrea Dieci & Duccio Beluffi recorded live in Parma at the Auditorium Casa della Musica on May 29th 2016 at the Niccolò Paganini Guitar Festival.  It is posted just below for your listening pleasure followed in due course by some Eye Candy below the playlist. This is for those not into man art who may scroll no further than the play list after reading my c0mmentary of the week.  Thanks for the visit, please do come again.  As always, Enjoy!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ups and Downs

This week has been one of many emotions.  Some very positive and others much less so.  I was ecstatic over the fact that I had actually put pen to paper (so to speak) resulting in last week's post.  I had requested at the behest of my doctor to cut back on my hours.  She had told me I needed to slow down.  So the boss modified my Tuesday schedule cutting off 6 hours.  But then they added 3 hours on my Saturday off, so in essence, it was only a net cut of 3 hours with an additional work day.  I don't know if that qualifies as actually slowing down or not.  But I don't see a way to cut any more until we fix the short handed challenge, again.  If we are short handed, I am usually the one to cover everyone Else's ass whereas the reverse is seldom true.  However that is the price of being as good professionally as I am.  And I am a really tough act to follow for the average employee, so it is what it is.  

On Wednesday I had my quarterly checkup at the VA.  I was as pleased with my check up as the doctor was with my numbers.  The only area of real concern was my blood pressure, which is no longer in the high range, but rather looming toward the low end of the spectrum.  So I have been monitoring  my pressure with the home machine they had provided me.  Since my doctor's visit, I have only taken the lisinopril once as my pressure has been low enough not to warrant lowing it further. When I checked it last night, it was only 104 over 50, a sure sign I did not need to lower it any further.  Dr Varimi also asked me to call if it went under 110, so I will be reporting that to here on Monday.  She may remove  the lisinopril from my regimen which is a good thing. I take 10 pills before I go to bed so one less is a good thing.  

Wednesday also provided the downer of the week.  When I arrived at work that night, my good friend climbed into my car to relate the latest results of his testing.  He is fighting his second round with cancer with chemo therapy.  Unfortunately his cancer has metastasized into multiple place in his body.  He is going to be unable to endure the step up in chemo therapy required to fight alone. So he is moving to California to be with his kids and let hes family care for him during the fight.  It is particularly challenging as he is also HIV positive.  They are going to have to rebuild his immune system in order to then get sicker as his body becomes more able to fight the cancer.  That has occupied a lot of my thoughts the last few days.  When I visited him last night, I could tell the toll it was taking on him.  I am sure he will continue to occupy some space in my thoughts and prayers as he fights the good fight of which he is totally capable.

I survived the rest of my work week with relative ease but slightly preoccupied with thoughts for my friend.  However I am taking a break form my thoughts today with a ticket to the Sunday Concert at Bass Hall.  The FWSO is doing the world premier of composer Victor Agudelo's new work La madre de Agua. Then they a moving to Antonin Dvorak's Cello Concerto and the finale is the Saint-Saens Symphony #3, the Organ Symphony.  The orchestra will repeat the Organ Symphony on Tuesday night in a free performance at Broadway Baptist Church which features the magnificent Van Cliburn  Pipe Organ.  That should sweep me a way for a few hours so I can begin my week anew.  

Tomorrow is also my biweekly visit with my threapist at Stay the Course.  My therapist is more my friend, although our relationship did start out strictly professional.  Over the course of the last 14 months she and I  have discovered more about me and how to deal with my issues than I would have ever hoped possible.  I really look forward to our time together and I always feel so much better after talking with her.  I am sure she will get an earful with the gamut of emotions I have experienced this week.    

Now for your listening pleasure, I put together a play list containing the Dvorak Concerto and the Saint-Saens Symphony.  I could not include the La madre de Agua. as it has yet to be recorded (duh, lol).  Mstislav Rostropovich plays this work under the baton of Miguel Ángel Gómez Martínez with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Radiotelevisión Española in a performance recorded at Teatro REal in Madrid in December of 1983.  The Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, was completed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886 at what was probably the artistic zenith of his career. It is also popularly known as the "Organ Symphony", even though it is not a true symphony for organ, but simply an orchestral symphony where two sections out of four use the pipe organ. The French title of the work is more accurate: Symphonie No. 3 "avec orgue" (with organ).

Of composing the work Saint-Saëns said "I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again."[1] The composer seemed to know it would be his last attempt at the symphonic form, and he wrote the work almost as a type of "history" of his own career: virtuoso piano passages, brilliant orchestral writing characteristic of the Romantic period, and the sound of a cathedral-sized pipe organ.

The symphony was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society in England, and the first performance was given in London on 19 May 1886, at St James's Hall, conducted by the composer. After the death of his friend Franz Liszt on 31 July 1886, Saint-Saëns dedicated the work to Liszt's memory. The composer also conducted the French premiere in January 1887.  This performance features Organist: Michael Murray  on a Cavaillé-Coll organ with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Conductor Eugene Ormandy and recorded at St. Francis de Sales Church in Philadelphia in February of 1980.  

That will wrap it up for this week, so enjoy the music and we will once again commune next week.  Thanks for the visit, do come again and as always, Enjoy!