ON THE EVE of the solstice moon yesterday, a Great Horned Owl relayed a message to me from atop an old gray pine near the wood barn.
I could hear the flutter of her wings as she dropped down to a lower branch. Her message was relayed in a series of hoots. I am a fluent hoot translator.
She said, “Wise owls answer questions that haven’t yet been asked, they do. Hmmm?”
It was reminiscent of something Yoda would have said. More hoots followed.
“Honorary owl, dear Yoda was, yes.” She paused, and then, “As are you. Hmmmmmm.”
And this is how I came to think about Yoda and his wisdom and ponder some questions. Not by way of Star Wars but from a feathered hunter, who spreads her wings and flies by moonlight and drops wisdom fodder on the forest floor for me to step in with my bare feet.
But I am not very wise, not like Yoda — and so brace yourself, folks. The moose is feeling frisky, and the poetry of the owl and her crinkled green friend hasn’t seeped into my bones just yet.
Now that that’s all said and done, let’s jump to some questions.
YES. HOW’S THAT for an answer. Geesh.
It’s like my imaginary friend Maynard has turned on me and suddenly decided to play tetherball on the other side of the fence. Who are you really, Maynard. See what I did? No question mark. That’s because I’m not asking a question.
But since Yoda has been invoked, your luminous question, pondered and answered, shall be. Herh herh herh.
And since this is a short question, it has a short answer. Not all short questions get a shorty answer, as you well know if you’ve spent more than a hairball of a second hanging out in the Moose Kingdom Hall. But this one does.
So let’s hand things over to Thelonious Monk, who sums it up better than I ever could:
The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.
And I know tetherball doesn’t require a fence. That just now occurred to me.
Okay, move on to the next question, shall we, hmm?
THANK YOU FOR your awesomeness, Yoda-Speak Generator. I couldn’t do this without you. I suddenly feel wisdom pearls dispensing out my fingertips like gumboils.
It took so long piecing this one together I had to rest my head on one of the dogs and take a nap. Then a flea jumped in my ear, and I sat up and suddenly had an answer:
Two very different sounds, but two gloriously linked histories and interwoven landscapes, to this is my response. Hmmmmmm.
The Bach-Monk connection was an accidental discovery, as of just a smattering of seconds ago. This is exciting stuff, folks. Just you wait. I have plans for this newly acquired nugget. Plans, I say. Magnificent plans!
And now a quick note on gumboils.
Dumb cheeks spellchecker auto-corrected gumballs to gumboils. Three respected dictionaries all recognize gumball as a legitimate word: Oxford, Macmillian and Collins. And one doesn’t: Merriam-Webster. Guess which word tops their list of gumball alternatives? Yep, gumboil.
Anyhoo, let’s tackle one more question and I’ll wrap up this fried coon fritter and call it a day done decent.
IT’S GOING BEAUTIFULLY, thank you very much. The single-note pecking is gradually softening into something that my husband says is beginning to sound like very pretty music.
Maybe two weeks ago I sat down at my piano so I could work on Bach’s first invention in earnest — instead of romancing the piano and talking about learning how to play — and unearthed a bit of magic that has transformed my relationship with my piano.
What did I do, you ask? I simply folded back the fallboard, thereby exposing the keys, and stumbled through the first couple of measures, and then walked away without pulling the cover back down. And that was that.
I always cover the keys. I spent hours pulling that piano apart and vacuuming out tons of derelict dust bunnies and various odds and ends that had been accumulating in there since Truman was in office. And with lots of fur flying around the house and clay dust from outside, I was very protective of my shiny clean keyboard and religiously kept it covered whenever I was done playing.
But there was a problem: When the fallboard is down and the keys are hidden from view, the piano feels heavy and unwelcoming. When it’s open it feels radiant and irresistible, and I can’t wait to sit down and play Bach. That pull I feel is magnetic, and the pearly gleam of all those white keys, set against the ebonies, is very alluring.
So each morning, on my way to taking the dogs out for a potty, I open the fallboard. When the dogs are done and I’m back inside, I grab a cloth and wipe down the entire piano, including the keys, and then sit down for a few minutes — one of several playing sessions for the day — and work my way through the first six measures of the first invention.
There is so darn much to learn in just that small stretch of Bach, it’s awe inspiring. Truly. It’s teaching me how to read and memorize music, how to feel the notes and anticipate what comes next, and how to merge the left and right hands into one overarching story.
And so that’s how my chicken pecking is going. Very well, now that I keep the keyboard open throughout the day, and how nice of you to ask!
AND NOW EXCUSE me while I shed a tear or two.
If I don’t throw all hooves on deck and just launch this dang writing career already, I’m likely to find myself as old and green as Yoda. Here I am, writing my wee little heart out on an essays blog no one knows about, and the moose still can’t afford to buy herself some proper udder holders.
That’s code for hire me. You won’t regret it. I am a book author just waiting to happen, and a freelance writer and editing marvel.
But how does a gunshy, unknown and totally invisible moose secure work?
As a writer who waved farewell to social media — and yet who writes to be read — I’ve introduced a bit of a quagmire into my work: no audience. And so my only recourse is to write for high-traffic publications and hope some curious eyeballs wander on over to the moose corral and read an essay or three and come back for some more.
The freelance pitch-a-story process has rules, though. And rules give me itchy welts.
So maybe I should just chuck the whole freelance thing and throw my hide at a literary agent and see if they see any merit in turning Moose Notes into a book of essays — with totally fresh content and organized around a central theme. I’d love that.
But that’s where the quagmire goes from kind of charming and quaint — “She abandoned Facebook? That’s so cute!” — to dang problematic. The book world is likely to snub its schnauzer at me and decry, “She won’t tweet? What do you mean she won’t tweet? Retract the contract, Franz. RETRACT THE CONTRACT!”
A quick aside: Misspell schnoz (fancy talk for beak) as schnauz and spellchecker presents you with schnauzer.
When I was a kid, we had a schnauzer. We named him Archimedes but mostly just called him Archie. I couldn’t have survived my childhood without him. He would eat anything, including the world’s most vile food: stuffed green peppers.
But I digress. Tears, a sad moose, too broke to afford udder holders. Okay, I’m back on track. Well, actually I think I’m done. I’ve said what I needed to say. Okay, then.
Just a quick public announcement and I can go eat a cookie.
ON MY ABOUT page I mention that new essays are posted and ready to be read every Sunday morning.
And they are — sometimes, and often more often than sometimes. But Sunday for sure, pretty much.
I love the accountability of setting a deadline. It inspires me to write, even when I feel like my work goes unread and I get sad eyes and need to take a little break.
So please know I’m not going anywhere. This here essays blog is kind of my life’s work. But occasionally I might play hooky and not post for a week, and other times you may discover a Sunday essay posted on a Monday, like today.
And on that note, I’d like to hand things over to Yoda for some parting words of inspiration. My unspoken question has been asked, and here is my dear green friend’s response:
Enough done good, sometimes good enough is, to you is my response, my dear moose. Yeesssssss.
See you next Sunday, folks — or thereabouts!