Summer Solstice Arrives

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Harp at Nature's Advent....

Found these lovely lines from "The Worship of Nature" by John Greenleaf Whittier and thought that for Christmas Eve they were just so right.

"The harp at Nature's advent strung
    Has never ceased to play;
The song the stars of morning sung
    Has never died away."

May this Season of Light and Holiness bring comfort to you all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Link Added

Just added the website ( for the Music-Thanatology Association International under the Harp and Music Therapy links.

Must point out in the interests of disclosure(grin) that Sile Harriss who is the Secretary of the the MTAI is also a dear, dear friend and former harp teacher. Along with a distinguished background of teacher and many years as a Music Thanatologist herself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thoughts for a Cold November Day.

It's been a long month since I last blogged...lots of changes. I decided to quit my 
job at St. Joseph Hospital last Monday, the 8th November. The unit has been undergoing 
a number of changes, and for me, it had become an unsafe unit with a very hostile work
environment. Luckily, my wife Kim is still working at St. Jo's and provides me with
the safety net that many folks who lose or quit jobs do not have. 
It's a new world for me, not having a job to go to, and missing my friends at work 
who I will not be seeing on a regular basis anymore. (And even though I worked 
nights, I still had contact with many of the staff at the start of my shift and the ending thereof. 
Still, it is for the best, as I am turning once more to the harp and plans to become a volunteer once more at the
hospital so that I can bring music again to the wards.

And as I have been thinking about changes at this beginning of the Celtic New Year which began on October 31st, I find my thoughts turning to the most moving and uplifting song from Gordon Bok, entitled Turning Towards the Morning which I share below, along with his backgrounder as to the origin and meaning of the song. 
Do look up his rendition of will move you to tears and bring you comfort, joy and hope as the Winter comes along on November winds.

Turning Toward the Morning
(Gordon Bok)

When the deer has bedded down
And the bear has gone to ground,
And the northern goose has wandered off
To warmer bay and sound,
It's so easy in the cold to feel
The darkness of the year
And the heart is growing lonely
For the morning

     Oh, my Joanie, don't you know
     That the stars are swinging slow,
     And the seas are rolling easy
     As they did so long ago?
     If I had a thing to give you,
     I would tell you one more time
     That the world is always turning
     Toward the morning.
Now October's growing thin
And November's coming home;
You'll be thinking of the season
And the sad things that you've seen,
And you hear that old wind walking,
Hear him singing high and thin,
You could swear he's out there singing
Of your sorrow.

When the darkness falls around you
And the Northwind come to blow,
And you hear him call you name out
As he walks the brittle snow:
That old wind don't mean you trouble,
He don't care or even know,
He's just walking down the darkness
Toward the morning.

It's a pity we don't know
What the little flowers know.
They can't face the cold November
They can't take the wind and snow:
They put their glories all behind them,
Bow their heads and let it go,
But you know they'll be there shining
In the morning.

Now, my Joanie, don't you know
That the days are rolling slow,
And the winter's walking easy,
As he did so long ago?
And, if that wind would come and ask you,
"Why's my Joanie weeping so?"
Wont you tell him that you're weeping
For the morning?
Recorded by Bok, Trickett and Muir on "Turning Toward the
Morning", FSI-56, copyright 1975.

"One of the things that provoked this song was a letter last
November from a friend who had had a very difficult year and was
looking for the courage to keep on plowing into it.  Those times,
you lift your eyes unto the hills, as they say, but the hills of
Northern New England in November can be about as much comfort as
a cold crowbar.  You have to look ahead a bit, then, and realize
that all the hills and trees and flowers will still be there come
Spring, usually more permanent than your troubles.  And if your
courage occasionally fails, that's okay, too: nobody expects you
to be as strong (or as old) as the land." - Gordon Bok

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Busy Month

Been working at going to on-call status at the hospital...given the change of managers and the settling in of the new unit, it's been rather frustrating. But hope within a couple of days to have it in place. Starting my last rotation of 7 nocs tonight, then will be done.
The Rydecki harp had 2 strings break, finally got them back in place, but now another tuning peg seems to be rather loose. Time for the "fairy dust" to tighten it up!
And from the Farmer's Almanac newsletter that I received today:

Hail, old October, bright and chill, 
First freedman from the summer sun! 
Spice high the bowl, and drink your fill! 
Thank heaven, at last the summer’s done!
–Thomas Constable (181281)

Love this time of scents and lovely colours along with the nice coolness to help the sleep. 


Saturday, September 4, 2010

A wonderful quote from John Muir

I found the following quote in the blog of Phillip Carr-Gomm and just had to share it:

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.  ~ John Muir
I have loved the writing of John Muir, but never saw this passage before....

Friday, August 27, 2010


Just looked at the current email from the Old Farmer's Almanac and found the following bit of poetry from Emily Dickinson:

His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
of clovers and of noon!
Emily Dickinson (1830–86)

And of course she spoke to the Music of Bees far better than I did in the last post. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bee Music

It's been more than a month since my last posting...between settling into the new unit at the Hospital with all of the "working out the kinks" trials and tribulations, trying to keep the garden going and dealing with the heat, I have been rather preoccupied.
However, as I was watering the garden yesterday morning, I found myself missing the "Bee Music" that was so delightful in and around the gardens. It is so delightful to have the constant drone and hum of bees in the Spring and early Summer, but with the increasing heat along with the fading of the fresh blossoms, the bees have come less often to serenade one.  I have tried to encourage those plants which will bring in the bees to help keep the bee population healthy and thriving, for without bees, life would be much more drab and certainly less musical.



Sunday, July 4, 2010

Harping in the Hospital---a circle comes round...

This morning after a night shift on the new psychiatric ward at St. Joseph's Hospital here in Bellingham, I took my harp and headed off for the Childbirth Center to play.
This was a special place for me when I was a volunteer with the Spiritual Care Department at the Hospital from 1998 through 2001--I found it especially delightful to be able to bring music to a place of birthing and the start of new life. I was also fortunate enough to spend many hours harping in the Neo-natal unit for premature and at risk infants.
As I have previously written in this blog, I have been harping at the hospital on the old voluntary psychiatric unit which closed at the end of June for our move to the main campus and the new ward. And I was able to play on  another locked psychiatric unit for the seven years before making the move to St. Jo's five years ago.
But as I played this morning, I realized that a circle had come full round for me...just to play as a harper with only the intention of allowing music to flow out and around to hopefully bring ease and delight to those near by.
Most definitely looking forward to harping again in other units of the hospital....

May your harps always be in tune and your music bring delight!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Sound and Music Alliance

I have recently discovered a new and important music resource for those who are working with music and sound to provide healing.

The Sound and Music Alliance may be found here:, and I encourage you to take a look.

I have recently sent in my application for the Allied Individual level and I am waiting to hear hope they accept me.

Will also add this to the set of links.



Will it never end...?

You would think that as a native Washingtonian I would be happy with the rain....but this May seems to be only rain, rain, and yet more rain with no end in sight.

Just in this Sunday morning from checking the garden and I do fear that some of the veggie plantings put in a couple of weeks ago may be water logged beyond the point of survival. We have had rain now for at least 8 days in a row, with minimal sun breaks to help the growing process. And the forecast calls for at least another 5 days of clouds and rain before a possible return of the Sun.

Still, most of the veggies are at least green and appear to be thriving. However, several of the cucumber plants that I planted in the new garden have been savaged by the slugs and won't be producing this year. Also, a few of the lettuce plants in the raised beds are a bit on the limp side, but most of the raised bed plants do seem to be doing okay. And the two rhubarb plants look comatose at best.

However the strawberries, the blueberries and the raspberries seem to be thriving.

But we need the Sun! Speaking of which, here is a great link to some Morris Dancers as they perform a May Day dance to the music of Cloudstreet (a great Australian duo) entitled "Dance up the Sun."

Maybe I should be playing this as background for a few have to say it's a most lovely tune for the harp!

May your gardens be warmed by the sun and your souls be warmed by Music.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Garden Music

Finally got the support up for the raspberries bushes--above picture. 

As I have been working in the garden, one of the composers I have been listening to has been Bantock: a Scottish composer of the late 19th C. who wrote some wonderful music and utilized harps in much of his work. At times energizing and at times soothing, perfect music for the rhythms of gardening.

Got the main work done, now have pumpkins, cucumber, corn, tomatoes, lettuce all planted with a second attempt at some rhubarb to be done in next day or so.

Have been working on the Scottish tune Huntingtone Castle which is delightful and I want to add it to my repertoire. Hoping the night shift will allow me some time to play the harp again...been busy the last rotation.

Some pictures of the garden...and look for 2 Greenmen above the main garden!

Two of the raised beds with lettuce, chives, garlic and sage starting up again. 

Each year a bit more...and always changes...the lure of the garden.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day and Beltaine!

Ah, to truly have the Wheel turn and bring us again to this day is a joy. Spent the first part of the day on a very long walk with Kim to challenge ourselves and to enjoy being out and about.

When I came back, the sun had decided to come out and I told myself it was time to return to the garden. Last year we had a small crop of beans and lots of pumpkins and squash in a small area that I had spaded and added in some good soil. This year I decided it was time to enlarge the garden area and for the last month as time and weather permitted I broke the grass/sod over a much larger area and this is what it looks like: uh, see above. Still haven't figured out to place images in the blog. May not look all that large , but I think we will get a bit of a good return from the work.

Hopefully this picture of some apple blossoms of our new dwarf apple tree will show up in the right place: , well close.

Also got a rhubarb plant in near the blueberries and the raspberries in a cozy and warm place near the fence.
Will be a long wait until next year when we can actually harvest them, but garden time is a time all of it's own.

And of course, there was winged blackbirds, chickadees, crows a cawing while chasing each other all and about.

Happy Beltaine and Blessings of the Spring to you all!


Monday, April 5, 2010

A wee bit of gardening....

The day was much warmer than I expected during the middle of the day, so I was able to get out and plant some narcissus bulbs that a friend at work had given me a week ago. Had planned to plant them earlier with the hopes of still seeing them this spring, but the weather has been rather inclement to put it mildly this last week.

And got a bit of spading in as well, hope to enlarge one of our garden areas so we can plant more vegetables this year.

Nice to be out and doing Greenman Work!  And also have been working on some new tunes and finally learning how to play some tunes I have been struggling with for years. Nice to "be in tune" this Spring -- both in the garden and with the harp.

Happy Spring everyone!

The Green Man

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Harp Dream

Two nights ago I awoke in the middle of the night, after dreaming of being in a workshop of Harpers and leading a workshop at one point about the history of harps for the audience/participants? (one is never quite sure of dreams....).
I cannot recall much more, but the dream energy was strong and invigorating for me...just before St. Patrick's day which has also now observed in several calendars as the Day of the Greenman. So this dream carried a lot of "green" and wonderful energy.

And now Spring is just two days away...about time.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Harping for the Bread Makers

I went out this morning to the local Great Harvest Bread Company to play as they kneaded and baked their bread. I have done this on several St. Pat's's fun and honors those good folks who continue the ages old tradition of local bread making.
I played for about half an hour, to the delight not only the bakers, but the customers who came in for a free slice of bread and almost always left with a loaf or a scone or a roll.
Reminds of the tradition of the musicians who would play for our Celtic ancestors as they toiled at various and needful tasks.

May your St. Patrick's day be full of luck and grace and may the sweet Sun shine on you this Spring.



Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Sunday meditation

I came across the most well known of John Donne's poems again and thought it well to share it as a good reminder that as we look at the world around us, let is care fully and wisely for all of our companions in our journey.
And be not quick to inflict harm, but love as fully as we are able.

Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.


Friday, January 1, 2010


Ah, to be in Scotland for Hogmanay! It has been noted that while the Scots do not celebrate Christmas in the same way as other countries do (due to the religious history of Scotland), they sure know how to bring in the New Year. A brief description of Hogmany from one of the online calendars:

Hogmanay in Scotland - ritual eating and drinking and the ceremony of "first-footing" - it was believed that if the first person to enter and bless a house after midnight was a handsome young dark-haired man, good luck would come the rest of the year.

May the first day of the New Year bring you blessings and set the days aright for the rest of the year,