Early Lights

Hold Your Horses People

Have you seen Christmas Lights up already? Are you wondering what these people are thinking? Me, too. My neighbor Vince down the street, a nice guy who owns his own landscaping company, had a team of people putting up his Christmas Lights last week. It’s a beautiful display, but dude, it was the first week of November! Most of us are still trying to finish our leftover Halloween candy. He has consistently set a record in our neighborhood for having his lights up the earliest. However, since he owns a landscaping company, I guess it could bring attention to his house to boost business, who knows.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Christmas-holic. However, this year I am trying to detox and not break out the Christmas jams until after Thanksgiving. This proved difficult after we got an inch of snow the other morning (in addition to more this morning). The exception to the rule is snowfall. Even if it snows in October, all bets are off! So I’ll admit it, I fell off the wagon. I was tuned into Bing crooning White Christmas, as I made my way down the street on my daily walk. I’m sure the malls loved the early snowfall as well. Early snow gives everyone a collective kick in their Christmas-behind

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with putting up your lights early. If we get a break in the weather, take advantage of it, and get ‘em up. However, please don’t turn them on until at least December 1st. Just sayin’. I remember one year, we were on our way to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. Some guy in St. Clair Shores already had his lights up and ON! Really? This blew my mind. Although nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a whole street lit up before Freeform launches it’s 25 Days of Christmas schedule. So take a chill pill people, we’ve got a long way to go. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Put up your lights as early as you like, but please don’t be that guy. Just sayin’.   

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The Magic of Wind Chimes

Do You Hear Them?

Do you love the sound of wind chimes? Do they conjure up certain images in your mind? For many years, I’ve been fascinated with them. We’ve always had a set at the front of our house. There have been many varieties over the years, but each one eventually falls prey to the raging easterly wind and falls apart. However, for me, there are few sounds in this world as magical as a beautiful set of wind chimes. They always bring up thoughts of mysterious places in the far east. Or, maybe sitting on a sunny beach patio, listening to the waves roll in. Their relaxing, peaceful sound is always welcome after a stressful day.

There is something very soothing about that music as it reverberates through the house. On a hot summer day, it lets you know a nice breeze is on the way. Wind chimes produce what is known as chance-based music. As Forrest Gump would say, “You never know what you’re gonna get.” I have definitely found that to be true. Since the front of our house faces east, there are many breezy days that produce no sound at all. We’ve had a set of wind chimes in the backyard before, but the west wind ripped them to shreds.

Wind chimes are often associated with spa retreats and new age music. The random patterns produced by these percussion instruments are wonderful to behold. Since we are smack-dab in the middle of fall, it seems like the wind has been blowing nonstop. This resulted in having to retrieve our Halloween spinner from our neighbor’s lawn a couple of times. However, the wind chimes have held up well to the autumn winds, and are a constant reminder to get outside and rake some leaves. Soon, the chimes will be predicting easterly rain and snow storms. But for now, they just produce beautiful chance-based music, which has become a treasured part of our fall experience. There they go again, time to rake some leaves.  

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The Creative Process

Pulling Back the Curtain

Have you ever wondered how artists and songwriters come up with their ideas? How does an author turn a spark of inspiration into a runaway bestseller? What process do movie directors use to transform a screenplay into a box office smash? Just how does the creative process work? I’m not sure how it works for everyone else, but I do know how it works for me. Whenever I am struck with a story idea, I jot down a quick note.

Recently, I saw a documentary about the classic rock album Machine Head by Deep Purple. This epic record came out in March 1972, when I was still in elementary school. However, by the time I reached junior high, everyone was humming the opening bars of Smoke on the Water. How did lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore come up with such an iconic song? Turns out he was inspired by Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, and as he said, “I owe him a lot of money.” 

It seems like songwriters, and writers in general, are constantly being struck by inspiration. How do they keep track of all of these little brainstorms? Some keep song or story journals. In my case, I use Simplenote. Since it’s available on the web, I can write down quick story ideas on my PC, iPad, or phone. It might be a couple of words, or maybe a paragraph or two. Just something to get the ball rolling, when I’m ready to sit down and write the article. Although sometimes, I’ll look at a phrase and wonder, “What the heck is this supposed to mean?”

Just to be clear, I don’t consider myself a writer per se. I’m more of a thought collector. However, I do share a similar process with every author from William Shakespeare to Stephen King. Being able to access that vast warehouse of story ideas is an amazing and humbling experience. Receiving a spark of inspiration, and turning it into something worth reading, is very satisfying indeed.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have enjoyed writing them. As always, please forward any stories you find particularly interesting to your family and friends. Also, please continue to like and follow this blog. Thank you!

If you like what you’re reading on this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. New articles are posted every Monday and Thursday. Thank you for visiting!