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Lisa Moritz: News

A Favorite Poem - May 21, 2008

Happy Spring, everyone! I meant to post this poem prior to Mother's Day, but alas, I am a few weeks late. Even so, I think it is worth posting today, while spring is still bursting around us everywhere, and the fragrance of rain and heat and blossoms and newly cut grass summon nostalgic memories every time I step outside. I find this to be an extremely beautiful and moving poem. I have yet to read the final stanzas without tears. It is written by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Ted Koozer, and is contained in his Pulitzer Prize winning collection of poetry entitled: DELIGHTS & SHADOWS (which I highly recommend reading). I hope you enjoy the poem. --Here's to the intricate beauty of spring and to all people in our lives who are "mothers" to us.

Love and peace,
Lisa

MOTHER

Mid April already, and the wild plums
bloom at the roadside, a lacy white
against the exuberant, jubilant green
of new grass and the dusty, fading black
of burned-out ditches. No leaves, not yet,
only the delicate, star-petaled
blossoms, sweet with their timeless perfume.

You have been gone a month today
and have missed three rains and one nightlong
watch for tornados. I sat in the cellar
from six to eight while fat spring clouds
went somersaulting, rumbling east. Then it poured,
a storm that walked on legs of lightning,
dragging its shaggy belly over the fields.

The meadowlarks are back, and the finches
are turning from green to gold. Those same
two geese have come to the pond again this year,
honking in over the trees and splashing down.
They never nest, but stay a week or two
then leave. The peonies are up, the red sprouts
burning circles like birthday candles,

for this is the month of my birth, as you know,
the best month to be born in, thanks to you,
everything ready to burst with living.
There will be no more new flannel nightshirts
sewn on our old black Singer, no birthday card
addressed in a shaky but businesslike hand.
You asked me if I would be sad when it happened

and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.

--Ted Koozer
from Delights & Shadows © 2004
Copper Canyon Press

A Loss for Words - December 28, 2007

Greetings to everyone on this final Friday of 2007. I am sitting down at the computer today as Eliot takes his nap with nothing to say really, but I am starting to type anyway just to see what might reveal itself. For several weeks now I’ve been thinking I should add a new note here but couldn’t think of anything to write about. I seem to be at a loss for words these days. Recently I have come up with three new pieces of music (one with distinct verse, chorus, and bridge sections for a new song and two others with definite verse and chorus sections) but can find no words to fit them at this point. I am waiting to hear a phrase or notice an image that will inspire me to build a song from there. That’s how songs happen for me a lot of the time. A gift out of nowhere that suddenly presents itself.

A few months ago a friend of mine from high school and college died. Her name was Sara. She had just turned 43 years old the month before her death. I have been thinking about how people live on after death through the lives of others that they have known. All my memories of Sara and the things we shared together live on in me. And the same is true for all the others she knew and touched. She lives on through them as well. And she definitely lives on in her two sons, just as my mother and father live on through me even though they are a long time gone now. I find a bit of comfort in knowing that. After I learned of Sara’s death, I dug out an old notebook full of poems and stories I wrote about 20 years ago because I remembered that I had written one about Sara and the long walks we used to take on summer nights back in Tipton. As I read it now, I recognize that it is not a very strong poem in terms of the writing (I do better with songs), but since I have no new words to offer you today, I will leave you with words written long ago. And a bit of Sara will live on as you read them.

Love to you all,
Lisa

WALKING WITH SARA

Night after night
and summer after summer
we’d stroll quiet small town streets
and talk of things to come.
With mosquitoes at our ankles
and June bugs buzzing
beneath the corner streetlights
we watched the grassy schoolyards,
uneven sidewalks, and worn pavement
slide like the passage of time
beneath our feet.
The same expressionless houses,
the same faded street signs
the same remote buildings
passed silent at our sides
again and again.
The rustle of cottonwoods,
the rattle of an occasional car passing
the drone of cicadas in dry grass
mixed with our voices and floated
in the heavy summer air.
A thousand dreams were spoken
in those closing hours of dusk,
the sun sinking below the horizon
like all we had hoped for.
We’d proclaim to slumbering neighborhoods
that we’d be something special
someday . . .
an executive
a decorator
a musician
. . . or so we’d say as we passed
from streetlight to streetlight
corner to corner
summer to summer.

(L. Moritz – circa 1986)

Tea and Talk - September 27, 2007

Today I had the opportunity to play a few songs and talk about my songwriting process to a group of retired professors (and others) at the Sauder Alumni Center at ESU. This group meets weekly on Thursday afternoons for “Tea and Talk” and invites various guests to come and speak on a wide variety of topics. The program is unstructured and includes an informal question and answer session where the featured speaker and the audience can interact. It was truly a pleasure for me to get to share my music with this group today. I love to talk about my songs, about the stories behind them, about how they evolve slowly or come quickly as a gift out of nowhere. And as someone who focuses a lot on lyrics, it was wonderful to play for people who listened to every word and who were thoughtful and attentive and intelligent. I was thinking on the way home how age is often invisible in terms of the greater human experience. Many of the audience members today were more than 30 years older than me, and yet connections were still being made. Then I thought about my poet friend, Laura Myers, who is nearly 20 years younger than me, and who comes to nearly every one of my Java Cat gigs because she connects in some way with my words as well. Life is beautiful that way. There is something universal that unites us all. Tonight I am grateful for having had the chance to share myself with others and tap into that connection. I go to bed feeling blessed.

Love and Peace,
Lisa

New Look - September 22, 2007

Hey all,
I'm up late tonight setting up my new web site through HostBaby.com--hope you like the new look! I'm looking forward to having a site that I will actually be able to update quickly and easily (no HTML required!), and hopefully I'll do a better job about keeping in touch with all of you out there. Look for more "News" soon.
Love and Peace,
Lisa

Summer Note - August 19, 2006

Wow, it’s already mid-August. I can’t believe 2006 is already heading toward it’s end. Only one quarter of the year is left. The past eight months have gone by quickly, and as I think about it now, I really have no recollection of the spring. Summer has been busy with many events--a family reunion (my mother’s family) in my hometown of Tipton, two weddings (my niece Erin in Omaha, and our good friend Tim Behrens in KC), two birthdays (both Eliot and Kevin in July), and a literary conference (with Kevin) in Manhattan, Kansas. I have not given any performances over the summer, although Kevin has continued to play with his group THE PETROGLYPHS every third Saturday in Lawrence. My favorite venue at which to play in Emporia, a place called EUPHORIA, closed in May. I’ve been hoping someone would buy the place and re-open it, but now such luck yet.

I’ve also started the process of making my next CD. Early in July I made a rough demo recording of about 10 songs that I will use as something to give to other musicians who are playing on the new CD to help them learn my songs. I’m planning to record in Kansas City again, which will be closer to the other musicians who are playing on the album. My friend, Laura Cossey, is going to be adding Mandolin to a few songs and we got together last weekend and worked on my song called “Ruby”, and I really LOVE how it sounded. It’s amazing how much fullness and beauty a second instrument can add to a song. Scheduling rehearsal and recording time still remains a challenge, but I’m plugging away. My goal is to get the album recorded by the end of the year with release sometime early in 2007. I’ll continue to post updates here in the coming months to let you know how the CD is progressing.

On a more somber note, I must confess that I have been feeling a little blue for the past several months. Perhaps it’s just taking some time for me to adjust to our life in this new town, as well as adjusting to getting older. In addition, it seems our whole world is at war, and although I am not immediately affected by the conflicts, an underlying sense of grief and uncertainty stays with me most of the time. Every day the news block on the Yahoo home page lists the number killed in Iraq or Lebanon or elsewhere. Josh Ritter, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, has a song on his latest CD called “Girl in the War” that I think is a great bit of music for these times we’re living in. If you’re interested in checking out his music, just click on his name on my Links page and you’ll be connected to his web site. The name of his latest album is “The Animal Years”. It’s great stuff.

I had hoped to write more on this entry, but alas it is now after midnight (I started to write this in the early afternoon but got pulled away with the duties of a Saturday at home with a 3-year-old) so I am going bring this to a close. I hope this note finds you well when you read it and enjoying the summer--even with all its relentless HEAT. I’ll try not to wait another eight months before writing again.

Take care, and drop me a note anytime. I’d love to hear from you.

Love and peace,
Lisa

Christmas Eve - December 24, 2005

It’s the day before Christmas, Eliot is playing with his cars on the rug behind me. Kevin is in Kansas City today attending a Chief’s football game with his dad and his future brother-in-law. The whole Rabas family will be in Emporia tomorrow to celebrate the holiday. One week ago, the whole Moritz clan was here--except for my two sisters out in Western Kansas who couldn’t make it due to heavy snow. It was so wonderful for me to have my family here. Our big old house really felt like a home, and since my family is SO BIG, it was nice to have the space. We didn’t have any overnight guests but got to enjoy the conversation and presence of everyone for an afternoon and evening. Eliot was delighted to have so many visitors here (25 in all) and was especially happy to play with his older cousins, Leah and Paula. He also enjoyed the firetruck--complete with flashing lights and siren--that Kevin and I got for him, and also the 4x4 Tonka truck from Grandma Rachel. Tomorrow he will receive another big round of gifts and will be thrilled, I'm sure.

Over the past few weeks, on nights that I haven’t gotten to bed too late, I have been reading a book about the Dalai Lama entitled THE WISDOM OF FORGIVENESS-Intimiate Conversations and Journeys. I noticed it on the sale rack at the bookstore when I was doing a little Christmas shopping and decided to get a three dollar hardback gift for myself. I was epecially taken by the excerpt on the back of the book where the Dalai Lama talks about the spiritual benefits of forgiveness and proceeds to give the following example of a meditation technique he uses called giving and taking.

“I do a visualization. I send my positive emotions like happiness and affection to others. Then another visualization. I visualize receiving their sufferings, their negative emotions. I do this every day. I pay special attention to the Chinese--especially those doing terrible things to the Tibetans. So, as I meditate, I breathe in all their poisons--hatred, fear, cruelty. Then I breathe out. And I let all the good things come out, things like compassion, forgiveness. I take inside my body all these bad things. Then I replace poisons with fresh air. Giving and taking. I take care not to blame--I don’t blame the Chinese and I don’t blame myself. This meditation is very effective, useful to reduce hatred, useful to cultivate forgiveness.”

Each time I read this quote I am both moved and humbled. I think about my own life and ways that I might cultivate forgiveness and compassion, and I think of the many times that I fall short of doing so. Perhaps that is something to focus on in the new year. Forget the twenty pounds I should lose. Replacing hatred with love seems like a better resolution. Imagine how different the world would be if everyone did this.

In the time it has taken me to write the preceding paragraphs (which has included a break to fix lunch for Eliot and get him down for a nap), the rain outside has stopped and has been replaced by a strong north wind that blows the bare tree branches outside my window here by the desk. Tomorrow it is predicted to be 50 degrees and sunny. One week ago there was five inches of snow. Only in Kansas. --And I wouldn't have it any other way. Wherever you are when you read this, I hope it finds you in a warm home with people you love. Merry Christmas--and best wishes for a joyful new year.

Love and peace,
Lisa

First Note - September 14, 2005

It’s the autumn, and I’m writing my first official “Note.” It’s a new beginning at a time of year when so many things are coming to an end. The oaks and maples on our street are starting to turn and the sun hides its face early in the evening these days. While I mourn the loss of light, the cooler days and nights are such a welcome change to the heat and humidity we had here all summer and that continued to stretch its heaviness across most of September.

I recently started performing again with a gig at Hastings Bookstore here in Emporia back at the end of September, and I’m currently in contact with people at other local venues to set up some additional shows. I expect to have some dates scheduled within the next couple of weeks. Fitting in rehearsal time while caring for our active and beautiful 2-year-old, Eliot, continues to be a challenge, but Kevin plays outside with the little guy after dinner on the evenings that he is home, so that I can get in a little bit of playing time. I’ve finished two new songs in the past few weeks: “These Words” and “Tired of Red.” It feels great to have some new finished work. I’ve had several “almost finished” songs in the works for quite some time, so it was great to have two complete songs come together in the course of a month. The “Red” song spilled out of me, nearly in finished form, in less than two hours. (I love it when that happens!) I’m really happy with the new songs I’ve written over the past couple years and look forward to recording my second album. Rehearsal time, recording time, and finances still need to be worked out, but it’s at the forefront of my mind and will definitely happen sometime in the not too distant future. (At least that’s the plan!)

Kevin is enjoying his new job at ESU, and continues to be busy with all the new responsibilities that his position requires, while continuing to work on completing his Ph.D. through the University of Kansas. His comprehensive exams are currently scheduled for next spring (2006). Eliot is talking up a storm these days and is an absolute delight to listen to. He went from speaking a few words here and there in July to speaking full sentences and naming everything he sees in August and September. He continues to amaze me daily.

It’s late and I have many things yet to take care of tonight, so I’ll sign off for now. Thanks for checking in. I hope all is well in your part of the world.

Love and peace,
Lisa

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