Wednesday, May 28, 2008

River Songs

My son assures me that yes, he can create slide show and attach it to my new song so I can post it to my blog.

"It'll take me three minutes."

The middle-aged me just says: "Wow." I even cocked my head and raised my ears, the way our Golden Retriever does when she's totally perplexed by something going on beyond her comprehension.

I've been dealing with computers since the late 70s - carefully following instructions, trying not to screw things up. I'm continually blown away by what my kids have figured out without ever opening a manual or help file. Fearlessness is a trait I'd like for them to pass along to me. Please.

Though I suppose I've come a long way. A few years ago, my fears would have prevented me from presenting a new song in a somewhat public forum. I'd have tucked it away in a drawer, and kept it to myself. So maybe the fearlessness thing is rubbing off a bit.

The album that we are mixing at the moment is "Sacramento River Whispers" - and the songs were all inspired in some way by (ooh - here's a surprise) the Sacramento River.

The themes of faith, redemption and forgiveness weave their way through all these tunes and this song, Sacramento, is the first one that is pretty much finished.

I say "pretty much" because in this brave, new digital recording world, I can change things, and tweak the mix, daily, even hourly, ....for the rest of my ever-lovin' life (egads!) if I so choose. It's a perfectionist's dream-come-true or worst nightmare, depending on your point of view.

From my momentarily Golden Retriever-ish point of view, this works for me.

Sacramento ~words and music by Erin Friedman

I won’t ask why
I won’t cry and make a scene
I won’t add fire
To this town’s gossip machine
I finally pulled myself together
I’ll forgive if you’ll forget her
Let’s go walk down by the river
Try to work this out – just you and me

Oh, Sacramento
Shasta snow bound for the Bay
We’ll lay our burdens by
The Sacramento riverside
Let the water carry them away

We’ll take our time
Where the manzanita grows
And the river winds
Quiet conversation flows
Toss a penny - make a wish
Underneath the Court Street Bridge
We’ve faced tougher times than this
We’ll make our promises and take them home

Oh, Sacramento
Shasta snow bound for the Bay
We’ll lay our burdens by
The Sacramento riverside
Let the water carry them away

Love so strong
So patient with us both
On and on
The river rolls
The river rolls

Oh, Sacramento
Shasta snow bound for the Bay
We’ll lay our burdens by
The Sacramento riverside
Let the water carry them away

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Pirate's Life

We just finished Pirate's Passage by William Gilkerson - a history of piracy woven into a fictional story set on the coast of Newfoundland, filled with intrigue, compelling characters and more than a few surprises.

There is considerable drinking of rum and pirate adventuring, so if that's not your cup o' grog, you may not enjoy it as much as we did. But it gets five hearty thumbs up from our clan - ages 12 to 49.

Then along comes this gem from homeschool guru Diane Flynn Keith: Be a Homeschool Pirate

So if you see the Jolly Roger flying around Shasta County -- and there WILL be one at our house -- this is what it's all about.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Anniversary Cobbler

Four years ago this week, Craig and I became Still Married.

As a band name, it usually gets us a bit of a laugh and gives folks a little information about us. Beats the heck out of "The Friedmans," the really lame moniker we used for our first few gigs.

Until then, we were a relatively normal couple -- well, except for the whole homeschool thing -- which automatically branded us as "on the strange side." But I was still writing songs alone in my music room and pitching them (with no success) via mail, to labels in Nashville and LA. Craig didn't know a single thing about music. We had cable TV, a mini van, a golden retriever.

Then I started meeting musicians, playing at Open Mic events and getting involved in the local music scene and Craig didn't enjoy being left out of what was becoming an important part of my life.

So he joined me. He learned to play bass, learned to sing, and after a few weeks of practice, I dragged him out to the Red, White and Brew, where we made our debut as a band.

Four years later, we still rush through the dinner dishes so that we can play. Our front room has been transformed into a music room/recording studio. We make music every chance we get, and while I hardly ever pitch my songs, I feel more successful than ever, because we so enjoy sharing the music with each other and with local audiences. Pickin' and grinnin' our way through this mid-life shenanigans suits us both. And watching how our kids have taken a cue from us and run with it in a whole new direction is also immensely satisfying.

According to, traditional gifts for the Four Year Anniversary are flowers or fruit. Do people really give fruit as an anniversary gift? Seems kinda goofy to me...but it's cherry season -- Oh, happy day! -- so I'll be whipping up a celebratory Anniversary Cherry Cobbler.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rivers Restaurant Website

Redding's newest hot-spot, Rivers, now has a lovely presence online:


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Harmonious Beginnings

Every Saturday morning, Craig goes through the music room instrument by instrument and tunes each one. The banjo, the fiddles, all the takes him about a half an hour, but he gets every piece perfectly pitched.

By Sunday evening, depending upon the weather and how much chaos has ensued, things may be all out of whack again. But it is a pleasure and a blessing that, thanks to a patient man with an electronic tuner, we get to begin our weekend in perfect harmony.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cheating Wives?

Google generates random clickable ads on this site, based on the content of the blog. Usually they pertain to songwriting or homeschooling. But I had to laugh this morning when this ad popped up: "Meet Local Cheating Wives."

Geez - that one kind of misses the mark, don't ya think? The site is "Still Married" not "Still Married, Miserable and Looking for Some Fun on the Side."

I supposedly make a few cents when someone clicks on the ad - but I'll gladly forgo the revenue and hope nobody clicks on that one.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Fable of the Struggling Snake

Our evening music-making was interrupted by Maggie (our golden retriever) barking frantically outside the bedroom window. I know her various barks, and this was her “I found it, I cornered it, now it’s time for y’all with the opposable thumbs to deal with it.”

The “it” was a snake – a beautiful gopher snake -- doing his very best diamondback rattler imitation. He was making menacing hissing noises in his throat, shaking his tail and flattening out his head -- it is the kind of complicated, mind-boggling performance that’ll make you believe in God.

He was trapped -- tangled and wound up tightly in pile of bird netting. And from the way the nylon net was cutting into his skin, I guessed he’d been stuck for awhile.

So I brought out some long sharp scissors and offered them to the 49-year-old husband and the two 12-year-old boys who’d gathered around to watch the critter. (If you’re keeping score, that’s 73 years and three Y chromosomes.) They unanimously declined.

I mumbled something about wimps and started cutting the netting away, while the snake writhed and twisted, hissed and squirmed and did his level best to thwart me. At one point he wrapped his head through a wire fence and just turned and stared at me. He calmed down enough for me to snip the last bit of nylon away from his scaly skin and slithered through the fence and into the tall grass. Never even looked back.

As Tevye said, "All good stories have a moral." This one has several, but here's one:

When you find yourself hopelessly tangled up, posturing and struggling will only make things worse.

I'm sure there are better ones - profound? funny? twisted? C'mon - chime in, please.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oh, Man, Rivers!

Delicious food, huge menu, spectacular view, servers who seem bound and determined to please their customers...... Oh, yes, this place is going places.

When we want to eat on the river, Craig and I usually pack a picnic and head out to the river trail. Not bad, but sometimes we crave a riverside meal without the bugs and dirt.

So it was with great pleasure that we enjoyed a "preview" lunch today, at Rivers. (at 202 Hemsted Drive, Redding, (530) 223-5606)

What a treat!

The spinach salad with pears, blue cheese and candied walnuts was yummy. Lovely to look at, the dressing was just tangy enough, and the portion was more than I could eat.

Craig enjoyed a cream of asparagus soup that was rich, flavorful, and a seafood kabob served on a generous portion of scrumptious mashed potatoes. I watched many beautifully presented dishes go by, and heard lots of rave reviews from happy diners on their way out.

Dessert was one of my favorites - Bananas Foster. Again, presented artistically and just right for sharing.

The lunch menu offered a huge variety -- salads, panini, burgers, wrap sandwiches, pastas, seafood and more.

I also happen to be a connoisseur of restaurant Ladies Rooms -- and the one at Rivers is outstanding - decorated in muted blues and browns, lovely tile work and flooring, and soft (read "flattering") lighting. All good. Someday I'll stop being surprised by automatically flushing toilets. Soon, I hope.

A great new Special Occasion Place for the North State. And since I'm a big fan of the Sacramento River - I do a lot of my writing out there -- I can't wait to enjoy drinks out on the patio.


May Day Surprise

Small flower-filled baskets, left secretly on the doorstep, are a May Day tradition.

I received a modern-day, electronic equivalent of a basket of posies this morning, when I discovered I'd been named a finalist in the Sandra James Music Foundation songwriting contest for the song "I Never Knew I Could Fly."

The foundation was established by singer-songwriter Sandra James "to convey hope to children and adults alike that together we can make a better world," according to the web site.

I was inspired to write the song by a letter from my cousin Patrick Richwood, who was in New York City when the towers fell on 9/11. On the one year anniversary of that event, he wrote to friends and family describing the tragedy and the city's recovery. One of the details that haunted him was the replayed images of terrified people leaping from the buildings -- and the fact that some held hands as they leapt. Their last act was to reach out.

Alan Jackson said all songwriters and poets had to write about 9/11. And that is where the song started. But since "I Never Knew I Could Fly" came a year after that horrible day, it ended up being more about hope and recovery than tragedy.

The song can be heard on our myspace web site: I Never Knew I Could Fly Or on our band site:
Still Married.