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Inspirations… and gifts…

July 10, 2016 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

My newest project – “Shadow of a Crow”  is nearly, officially done – and I”m just shy of sending off the final mixes and graphics to the replication company…  this is a huge milestone for me…  It’s been one heck of a long haul…   getting this crow – off the ground.

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But despite the overload of all that… I’ve continued to be besieged with creative thoughts, insights and interests.  My life boat’s been getting swamped… yet I’ve still found the time to nurture family & care for my home, flower & veggie gardens… ride my bike – and hike with the dog…  Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 1.26.50 PM

but I guess it’s all these things – that are an endless spring of inspiration for me… like candy for my mind.   I have been sent running – to write down and capture… the slide show of images and impressions that flash through my mind…  things that – if they’re not grasped right then and there…  will dissolve into heedlessness…  and be left behind in heaps of forgotten diversions… at the close of unremembered days… in never to recall again memories.

So, in simpler terms:   I write this stuff down – fast.

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I view these images of inspiration that I’m shown… as Divine rewards from above.   I believe that there are favors like this -given to everyone…  but it’s only those who open their eyes, open their hearts, soul & minds and embrace these ethereal gifts… that will be able to recognize / acknowledge them.

So… not to change the subject… but with the confirmation of the autumn “Apple Festival” at Kirby’s Mill – looming in the -not so distant future – again, for me and the band…  I will be unveiling a lot of my new songs from the new cd…  (wow… I almost said ‘album’…  how retro).   I will be bringing these new songs out… which… even as I write this, it makes my heart pound… with what?  Anticipation?  Fear?  Butterflies?

A lot of you ‘know’ me… from all the posts I put up on Facebook… but it’s not really anything ‘personal’…  not really what I hold deep within…  maybe just images of beauty,  or things I observe and choose to share…  but  my songs and how I express them – is like baring my soul.   It’s like being exposed – in a way,  that I’m just not totally comfortable with.   I rarely let people in…  and can honestly say, there’s not many who truly know me.   Some THINK they know me… but they don’t.     Just because I dance to the beat of my own drum…  some people think they have me ALL figured out.  I long ago realized, that others – more often than not – just don’t get it… or me…  and that’s fine.

“Life’s been good… and life’s been not so good at times… but I can’t say it hasn’t been interesting.”  That’s what my Mom always says.    (Here’s me & my Momma)…

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Momma taught me a lot…  but mostly to hold onto faith as best I can, and search for the silver linings in all things.  I have learned to hunt determinedly for silver linings…  and a lot of times, I’ve had trouble even finding the stars shining in the blackness of the nights…   At times I’ve wondered – why the heck I even bother… because sometimes it just gets to be too much, but I am not a quitter… never have been…  and I’ve made it to the other side of the obstacles… of what ever the mountain was at the time… whether from my own determination, or loved ones aid…  and I’ve looked back and been grateful that I found the strength to do what I needed to do.   So I keep gratitude within me…  and look for the goodness around me.  That’s what I dwell on…  not the bad stuff.   I forgive the bad stuff… but I don’t forget it.  I just keep my focus on the beautiful things… and let those beautiful things – define my life.   Maybe that’s why I’m a little nervous about my songs coming out… because  this is what’s on the cd…

Well… that’s all for now.  I’ll be posting the date for the cd release party – as well as liner notes and such… Tuesday…  exactly WHAT Tuesday,  I don’t know yet…  TBA  🙂          xoxo  Jennifer

 

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Fixed a broken heart – in February

February 27, 2016 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

The cold depths of these late February days… have become unbearably drab… and the winter has completely & wholly lost any appeal that it once held for me.   Although I’ve always loved winter – I can honestly say – I am MORE than ready – to move away from this coldness.

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I guess my heart’s just not into Winter… this year.   But I have an odd heart…  I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve… with the ability to hear, feel, see, and sense things said  (or not said);  done (or not done)  very deeply…  and it goes straight – like an arrow, into my heart.   So perhaps a life time of absorbing the incessant impacts,  is what broke it?    So 4 hours of cardiac surgery – has hopefully repaired, what all these  ‘head & heart”  experiences – have done…   Is this the cost of thinking too much?  Of being a writer? A poet? Artist?  Creator of songs? Melodies?  Prose?  Who knows… All I know is I take everything to heart… literally and figuratively.

So, I had to take a big, step back…  and began re-evaluating my life.  And in this mental, mining excavation, discovered that there are things I once believed to be true and real…  but upon closer, quiet, inspection and careful dissection… found these things were actually – counterfeit.  Things that I believed – melted away like morning frost, that rests on a field…   Yes, it was real… until the sun came up… and then… it doesn’t hold up to the test.

There were things, once important to me… that fell away… bit by bit, one by one… like Autumn leaves… until I came to the realization that they held no value… and were merely poor imitations of the truths I sought.   For I unearthed things that I had overlooked – and upon more careful attention… discovered  ‘diamonds in the rough’  that hold a lot more meaning and worth – than I had been lead to believe…  Thus, I stand corrected, older, and wiser.

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And on this path, I’ve learned to pick my battles… and when to be silent.   My feelings don’t always need to be expressed…  nor understood – except by me.   And taking the path of least drama… is always tons easier….  but I can never overlook – that the “hard right… over the easy wrong” – (though not always easy)… is always the best choice.

I’ve come to realize,  that there are things that deserve a greater degree of patience – than I had given.  So, all in all… there’s a lot of changes… but  I am content with cleaning the rubbish… and I’m growing accustomed – to this new outlook – and so very glad I can move onward & upward.

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So… with my broken heart – well on the mend…   I’ve put the cold winter behind, & set my sights on Spring.  I’m gathering the seeds for the gardens I am going to cultivate…  and I’m ok with the realization that I’ve accumulated a LOT of compost… both from my kitchen – and from my life.   Instead of wallowing, regretting or being remiss…  I’m taking all the “useful” refuse…  and tilling it…  changing it into better, useful, cultivated compost… to grow upon.   Think about it…  <3

 

 

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2016… Looking forward with rambling insights & optimism…

January 5, 2016 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

Well… 2016 dawned… and unlike most of the New Years Eve partiers out there… watching fireworks, cheering, toasting while sipping fancy drinks, and dancing with wild abandon…  I opted for the quieter side… watching a few good movies,  curled up with my dog on the sofa and happily shared a bowl of popcorn with his ever-wagging eagerness.  So I woke up,  to greet 2016… in the dim grey light of the morning… bright eyed and bushy tailed.

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A few weeks before Christmas, I decided… being the true, proverbial Archer – to set my sights on some new targets & goals for the long winter ahead.   I’m one of those -who, if I’m not active… I start to get a bit cranky.  The faux winter weather we’ve been having, has been a bit more than dreary and cold, so my ‘go to’  outdoor activity, being the long miles of road cycling,  has been placed on the back burner for awhile.  I loathe the indoor trainer… and find the “hamster wheel’ feel of it – pretty unbearable…  just not that kinda girl.

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And as for kayaking… passion #2… I’m a bit more hopeful.. seeing as the bay isn’t frozen yet, and the unusual “winter” temperatures have kept this – remaining on the horizon still, as an option.  With the occasional warm day here & there… and my trusty Kokotat, dry boots & gear… I can make kayaking… an unexpected, delightful possibility for sure…

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And then there’s the gym… and the allure of the Arc machine’s promise of a good, solid, cardio workout…  But the mobs of “resolution-ites”  who will undoubtedly be flooding the gym, in hopes to enthusiastically approach their new year’s goals…  have daunted my desire to even go near the gym, and cringe away from being any part of that kind of scene.  But I know if i give it a few weeks… they’ll fall by the way-side…  melting away nearly as quickly as they appeared…  leaving the dedicated ones behind…. like a surging tide… and the wave of giddy, hopeful,  stylishly outfitted optimists… rushing their way in, with churning power… tumbling, crawling feverishly onto the shore…  then, seconds later…  to quickly retreat back…  leaving in it’s recoil… the scattered shells & sea glass devotes… who remain for the long haul…  still on the shore.  Haha… wouldn’t Dylan Thomas roll over in his grave… cringing at that analogy…  sometimes I just crack myself up.

So… with these options pretty much not conducive to a good solid, day-to-day work out right now…  and knowing that although I’ve been told, I make fiddling look like an aerobic activity… it’s just not enough, nor what I need…  so I’ve turned my sights to a new…. hmm… passion – is it?    Hot yoga.

Before the new year rush,  when everyone else was out frantically holiday-ing…  I gave this Hot Yoga a try… and being the “all or nothing” – addictive kinda character I am…  I did it again,  and again…  and I think I can fairly certainly say – I’m hooked.   It’s certainly not the high end, hard core, physical activity I’m generally drawn to… but it’s delightfully challenging in the stretching… especially when added with the cerebral focus and joining of mind & body that I love.   I was blessed with “Gumby genes”… so the bending & stretching is just a great personal joy I truly like… And a ‘real live’ class… sure does beat my old Rodney Yee dvd’s hands down…  as much as I love him.  The open minded, meditational edge also appeals to me tremendously.

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I know I think too much… and tend to be a high intensity type person…  So when faced with the situation to clear my mind,  focus on my body, and stretch my muscles out – in heated, enveloping temperatures… that make my pores leak like a sieve…  I grab onto it.  I love feeling like I’m cleansing myself of toxins at the same time… I think too, it will put me in a beautiful frame of mind and body for Spring – so I can climb back on my road bike… as soon as the weather gets more amiable for getting back to my cycling.

So, does this introspection…  and seeking to refine my fitness levels, while enriching self awareness…   change me?  Does it make me a better person? a better fiddler? a better writer?  better singer? a better anything?    That’s wholly & completely up to me.    I know in order to utilize the benefits of  these passions,   I need to be as deeply balanced as I can be…   and in finding that balance – I will find the ability to calm and expand my mind so I can write and open the channels in my heart to create,  and clear the junk away so I can expressively play my fiddle, guitar, dulcimer & mandolin…  and pour my purest, best self – into all things… and hopefully – in that way… I can be better…

Note:  This is not a goal to be  “the best”… oh no.    That’s never my goal.   I don’t compete… plain and simple.  I don’t compete with anyone else… and trust me,  there’s not a living soul – who can compete with me… worse or harder than I compete with myself.   My goal… is to just be – the best I can.

So I guess, in examining the gifts I’ve been shown – and given – this year…  and knowing that giving back – is oft times… the best part of the reward…. I can honestly say,  in retrospect… that I have done my best this year… for friends – new & old, strangers and family alike… many times, without hesitation.  If I thought it was right, or good, and I believed I could do it… I did it.   Whether it was to lend a hand,  give support, or of myself – I tried my best… and… though I’m not gonna dwell on this…  as I know, I need to become better at it…  and some who know me, and are reading this…  won’t believe it… but I have held my tongue and said nothing – more times than not…  especially when I really wanted to cry out in frustration, aggravation or anger… I can say…  I did not.

So in conclusion… gazing back through all of this, I ask myself… what have I done?  What have I achieved?

I’ve reached farther into seeking fitness.  I’ve learned when to hold on, and when to let go.  I have recognized things I should have done – and things I shouldn’t have done… yet hold no regrets.  The list could go on and on, and I think I’ve written enough today…   But mostly, I learned this year,  that the heart is an ever expanding, endless plane… and when you let yourself  go,  and you give yourself over to love…  “to love with a love that is more than love” (Edgar Allen Poe)  and then… sadly, you lose that love… it feels unbearable…  but I’ve learned – with patience & by keeping the heart open…  that a wonderful, new love – a love even greater… will flood into that empty space – that was left in your heart.

Love – is fluid.

It will come flooding in – if you allow, and fill the spaces in your heart.  So if you focus on the beautiful, the joyous, the good, the kind, the gentle, and the loving things that surround you… then that is what you will receive…  love is everywhere… you just have to look…

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In the hot summer daze…

August 18, 2015 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

Temperatures have risen as Summer’s reaching it’s peak.  As a winter loving person… I don’t like it.  I much prefer to have the windows open – and the curtains blowing in the breeze… that’s not to be had in these stifling, August temps.   So… I seek the shady spots… with guitar, fiddle, mandolin… a strong fan… and just try and stay cool…

The muse to write and create – has been moving strongly within me – over this past month or so,  and  I’m writing with something more like an insatiable desire…  & I need to let this well run over…  and so far, two new songs have been born…  and though I’m very pleased with both of them…  I can still feel the muse stirring… and I know I’m not yet satiated.

I’m sure this rogue muse seeped into my soul,  somewhere in the mountains, or perhaps,  in the woods when I was gypsy camping… which is one of my greatest pleasures.   For  just being up in the mountains with my little camper – makes me so joyous…  ahh… or paddling on the bay waters with the kayak… listening to the tall grasses as they whisper and the osprey soar over my head,  or evenings at the lake, playing tunes… while the Loons – sing along… in the deepening shadows.

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Everything has been an inspiration lately.  I’ve been excessively blessed to have been able to do a lot of escaping this summer…  and I’ve stretched my wings & flown high, far & wide.   When I get home, I’m sooo  happy to BE home…. but I start planning my next adventure… as it’s feeding this insatiable, wild muse – within me…   and the thoughts and ideas that gallop through my mind… are colorful, beautiful and twisted – all at once…  and I can’t get them down onto paper – fast enough…

But in all this wild creation…  I can say I miss working with my friend, guitarist, John Wilson…  who moved away…  for he had that knack of being able to slide a melody into the right feeling, drawing the right sounds from his guitar;  but I soldier on.    I still have his old 355 Taylor guitar…  and I hope – that part of the muse that graced him – still lingers in the mahogany – of that old 355…  as I struggle to combine those wickedly modal, DADGAD chords…  which I don’t fully,  technically understand exactly what they are – but I can hear that they work & compliment each other… to pull tones, notes, chords & lyrics – into an artfully disheveled creation…  Oh it’s madness I tell you… sheer madness…  and I love it!    It stokes my flame!

So… long story short – “Shadow Of a Crow”  is finally sliding through the threshold of it’s finishing stages.  Jokingly I use to say it would be done Tuesday…. (which Tuesday, I don’t know)  but suddenly, I’m seeing an end in sight.   Had a LOT of serious “stop & go” events… crop up during this project… including a house fire, moving, a massive flood,   Hurricane Sandy,  and the list goes on…   But… NOW… whew… I CAN see the light at the end of this LONGGGG  tunnel… and I”m so very glad!   I think it’s gonna be an awesome cd…  as it’s got a great feel… and I love it…

Here’s a pic from sunset, on the lake… one of my fav’s… might put this inside the jacket on the new cd…  2 fiddles,  1 guitar, and Uilleann pipes….  only thing missing from this pic… is the marvelous sound of the loons…

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My music… my life… so far…

August 12, 2013 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

My life… has been brimming to overflowing – with music…  whether it’s playing, listening, teaching, thinking about – even talking about – music.   I’ve spent my entire life, surrounded by people who are filled with music…  and I honestly don’t remember a single day – from the earliest years of my awareness…  when there wasn’t – music.

My beloved grandfather played totally by ear, and he could thump out a bass part,  play piano and guitar – and he sang… ohhh, I can still hear his voice in my head… Here he is as a young man, with his car & guitar…

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My grandmother, knowing my Grandad’s  great love for music,   surprised him with a beautiful – Les Paul guitar shortly after they were married.  He played it as long as I can remember… and he gave it to me, shortly before he died.     Sadly,  it was lost in our house fire.

I have so many wonderful memories of my Grandad…   Here’s a pic of us,  taken from an old clip… singing one of his favorite old songs   “You Made me Love You”    made popular by Al Jolson in 1946…

I love the way he’s looking at me and laughing in this pic…  We would harmonize together and do the old time   “do-doo-do-doooo”  back up’s…       It’s goofy,  I know,  but…  I truly loved it.

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My grandparents had a baby grand piano… and when I was tall enough to reach the keys… I loved to touch the keys…  and when my Grandad or my Aunt Karen, would pass through the room,  they’d always play a tune or a song,  and sing…   They’d send notes drifting into the air…  and I’d come running – to be there… to watch… and listen…

Now that I think of it… the only one who didn’t  actually PLAY music… was our Nanny.   But she was talented in her own way…  She was a wild hearted, artist… working not with notes or an instrument…  but molding things with her hands from clay;  making things in her kiln; and her oil paints of so many colors & shades, an easel, a canvas and a whole bunch of pictures that would give her ideas and inspiration, all thumb-tacked   up on the wall… wow…  I can still smell the linseed oil in her studio… ohhh… those are sights and smells – I will never forget.

When my Aunt Karen taught me to play chords on the Baratone Uke,  I would play & sing old Pete Seeger folk songs… & she let me take it with me when we moved to Colorado –  and that’s where I discovered –  & fell in love – with the mountain dulcimer.

While hiking  one weekend, my parents & I came upon an old general store, and a bunch of old guys…  all musicians… sitting around a big wood stove – playing music.  Someone had a mountain dulcimer across his lap.   I was enchanted…  He let me try it!!!    I loved it.    That following Christmas, my father – actually MADE me one.    He finished the dulcimer, then, recorded himself playing  “Silent Night” on the old, reel to reel tape player.    When I woke up Christmas morning… I heard the music…  and ran out to see…  and the dulcimer was there under the tree…   and the air was filled with the smell of Christmas pine…. & dulcimer music…   It was awesome.     I was 9 that Christmas…      I’m 39 (and holding) –  and I still get a thrill in my heart… when I play dulcimer…

 

Here – below – is my newest addition to our instrument family –  A Concert Grand model – which is absolutely heaven to play.  Custom made by Dwain Wilder.  http://www.bearmeadow.com

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I remember I wanted to play so badly… I learned to use the old noter (ew)  and I had a Jean Richie song book,  and I’d play them, figuring it out… practicing every day.   No one I knew, played dulcimer, or even KNEW what one was…  I had no one to ask… or talk to… but I just figured out what the sounds were – that would make the songs I wanted to play – work.

And every night, for many years…  I remember saying my prayers…  and I’d always end them with…

“…and please let me learn to play the dulcimer better – when I grow up.   Amen”

I didn’t ask for much…  but I did ask God  –  for that.

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Soon,  my school got an awesome music program,  and I wanted to play the Cello…  They gave me one to use for free, and thus began  my musical  journey into the classical area of music…  I was 10 years old.

Years… no, decades later…  somewhere along the line…  I left the classical world.  I was there for a long, long time, but felt that it just became too restrictive,  and TOTALLY not expressive enough – for what I wanted from music…   For music – I THINK – should be what your feelings actually SOUND like.  I jumped over to the fiddle… smaller, and easier to fit into the car!

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So the fiddle fits, and it’s my wild passion…  But I still think classical education – is a very good, important thing for kids to have in one’s life…    Proof being – my babies all play music, and all have (or are still) in the joyful journey – of the classical & musical world…

Here’s Em & I… playing music in the woods this past summer while we were camping;  my Abbie, is first chair cellist in her local orchestra,  and my boy – Phili… lol… he’s a crazy, rockin’ – upright bass player!

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My Mom – Somehow I skipped from Grandparents to my kids…  but Mom… she wasn’t exempt from the family music that more than coursed through our veins… and we’ve spent years now, going to music festivals up and down the East coast together;  and playing & learning tunes.  Her cook book holder has abandoned the kitchen… and she uses it for holding up her music books…   Mom’s Queen of invention!!!     When Mom’s not actually -playing music… she’s  humming!  So even while doing a chore… like cleaning the kitchen, or working in her garden… there’s still the hint of music, drifting in the air!  We just took a camping trip this past weekend, and here we are playing music by the water…

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Music branches to more than just family…  I’ve somehow become surrounded by amazing friends who are brimming with music too.  I’m not even gonna GO into my fiddle students and how many awesome, talented people I have come through my door every week – for lessons!)

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I of course, can’t forget the boys in the band either, and our great gig each week at the Green!

I’ve been blessed beyond measure – with all the music, and all these wonderful friends who bring music and joy into my life…  and I KNOW…. though my best friend – Marni – who’s been my horse back / trail riding partner for more than 20 years…  would surely protest, saying she doesn’t play ANY music – except for the radio…  I say… hoof beats… ARE – a musical instrument!!!

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AND…….. Last… but not least… is Phil.    Somewhere along the long journey of this musical exploration… Philip has not only COME to the world of playing musical instruments, but he’s developed into quite an accomplished musician.  My Mom gave him a bodhran for Christmas, and thus began his intense infatuation with music….    He’s become not only accomplished with the uilleann pipes,  but plays a lovely whistle,  bodhran & bones… and flute.

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His endless thirst for tunes and his ability to combine various melodies into interesting sets – is always inspiring and exciting…  and I think the only thing he’s met with…  ‘not so much eagerness’…   is when he tries to sing…  and that’s…   all I’ll say about that…    but I will say,  he’s very good humored about the ribbing he gets for his efforts!   🙂

But I guess… I’ll wrap this up with a great quote from Ludwig van Beethoven…  “Music is the mediator – between the spiritual and the sensual life…”    no wonder music can make you come alive!  Way to go Ludwig!!!

I’m curious to see, where this fasinating, musical journey… will take me next…   stay tuned and we shall see…

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