28 July 2015

In Memoriam

Out of deep respect for my humble grandmother, I'll keep this short.

Florence Carlton, my father's mother, passed away early in the morning on 23 July, 2015, after suffering a stroke on 16 May that exacerbated pre-existing conditions and left her bed-ridden.  She was eighty-four years old, born 3 April 1931, and is now survived by just one of her six siblings.

Today, we buried her body and commemorated her life as family.  I'm reminded of the fact that human beings were not designed to cope with grief: sorrow is just the body's physiological response to the abhorrent reality of death.  We don't know what to do with the pain, and so we weep.  However, while we, on this side of the curtain, struggle to accept the passing of our loved one, she -- on the other -- no longer must linger in her fragile shell.  In the arms of our Savior, she now finds true peace and healing and rest.

I have so many snapshot memories of Gram.  Looking through all of our old photographs this past week has brought even more to the surface.

Gram was a lover of music, cooking, crafting, and puzzles.  She was an encourager and a doer.  She loved animals -- especially little dogs.  She was a survivor, to which the numerous tragedies of her life attest.  She cared deeply for each of her grandchildren.  I loved sharing sideways smiles with her.

If I had to pin one adjective on her, though, it would be the fact that she was a giver.  Whether she was making Sunday dinner for our family, trying to force a few dollars into my hand as a thank-you for carrying in her groceries, or just listening to me talk about life (or telling me stories from hers), she was always concerned that we were fed, cared for, and appreciated.

Gram lived upstairs from me most of my life, in the apartment above my parents' house.  So I guess I can say that she's just "upstairs" once again.

I love you and miss you, Gram.  I look forward to climbing that staircase myself one day to join you.

11 July 2015

Reviews, Part 6

Part 1 -- Part 2 -- Part 3 -- Part 4 -- Part 5 -- Part 7 -- Part 8 -- Part 9

Next on the playlist!

Here are the album reviews I've written since February.  As usual, clicking on the album covers will take you to the band's music where you can listen to and/or download the album in full.  The hyperlinks will take you to my reviews.


Hasse Fröberg Musical Companion - HFMC - (Sweden)

Of the three Musical Companion releases to date, HFMC is undoubtedly the most mature as well as the most cohesive, and currently stands as my pick for best album of 2015.

Corvus Stone - Corvus Stone II (Finland)

Corvus Stone II is an eclectic collection of songs from an eclectic combination of musicians, a varying journey through elements of funk, jazz, psychedelic rock, and Canterbury prog.

Big Big Train - Wassail (UK)

Wassail is a solid EP, foreshadowing Big Big Train’s forthcoming material.  This is just another bite-sized portion of the band’s stylistic craft, enough to keep fellow “passengers” whistling for a while longer as we wait for the Train to once again depart the station.
Rocket Scientists - Refuel (USA)

Refuel is a story that is as much autobiographical as it is universal: a tale of journeying, persevering, and wondering just when the time disappeared.  It is rich and ambitious, focused but complex, and another quality release from this trio of dedicated musicians.