It's a beautiful, clear day here in Southern California, on this national holiday, Memorial day. There is so much pain and destabilization in the world today, and so many people wiser (or not) than I who have comments about it that I will choose to talk about music and gardens right now.

How incredibly lovely to watch the endless coming and going of the birds who live in the trees on my tiny patch of ground in the city, and to witness the antics of the squirrels, who long ago won their war on the bird feeders and thus now have feeders of their own. Also, the great pain-in-ass (as my Polish colleagues would say) raccoons who come around and wreak havoc here, yet somehow belong as well. Then there's the hawk family in the tall pine tree. These guys have been here for years and the yearly ritual of nest building, then the birth of the tiny cheeping babies, the parents raising them together--and the funniest part of all, when the babies learn to fly in a neighboring tree and I hear them howling all day long as their parents insist that they fly. This time of year is special also because the orioles come to the hummingbird feeder and I recognize their chatter. The first time one showed up, a male, bright yellow and black, I was delighted and surprised. Now it's a spring ritual as well, lasting into the summer, and then mysteriously, they go away.

My three old cats are content to lie around, be fed, pile on top of me at night, and talk to me constantly. They feel safe here, as do all the other critters hanging around. The only time everyone gets on edge is when there's a big windstorm, a peregrine falcon in the yard, or firecrackers.

My quest to do my part in monarch butterfly restoration is coming along well. There's a ton of milkweed in the garden, and monarchs are flitting around everywhere, hopefully laying eggs. I saw a couple of fat babies about a week ago, perhaps they're butterflies now.

I transformed my entire yard, front and back, into a native habitat three years ago-well, it took a couple of years. It's amazing: when you plant local, indigenous plants, the insects and birds that depend on those and only those plants show up in your garden! It was a huge amount of work lasting, as I said, for several years, but I don't regret it for a second.

Meanwhile, back in the studio, which admittedly is hard sometimes when you are sitting there and you look out the window at the sunny garden with its busy population--so much happening in here.

The gigs in Alaska were a total blast. It was, with some intense and accelerated rehearsal, a cold plunge back into performing for me. Now, encouraged, and also seeing the end of the recording process on my own cd, I've begun to schedule some solo concerts starting in November.  I expect that the cd will be available around that time, though my advisor, Mr. Nubar and I are discussing release options.

School is over next week, with just finals to come, and that should be NO PICNIC! However, my woodwind quintet came out pretty well, and I'm so excited to have the opportunity to do more composition for orchestral instruments, with the chance to hear them played by humans! I'll be back in school come the fall, continuing music studies and composition.

Mietek and HB Barnum were in the studio with me in April: we finished tracking all of the basic tracks for the Mietek/HB/Life Choir cd, which is an inspirational project, and a lot of fun. Looking to finish that over the summer and to have a pre-Christmas release. Mietek's other recents cds are brilliant, having sold extremely well in his native Poland. He is still one of the greatest singers I've ever worked with, and a dear friend.

Now many things are wrapping up: Rob Hoffman, our great mixer (and doctor of Chinese medicine) just took the Refugees tracks to his studio to mix them, as well as some tracks of mine.

I'm also quite proud to be doing some composition of songs and instrumentals for library use, to be distributed by First Com, which is a vast music library, and friends of mine. Abraham Parker and I have begun to collaborate on cues as well--it's the most fun I've had with a collaborator since my dear and foremost partner Kenny Edwards. Abe and I have a growing, innate musical understanding, even though we have slightly different harmonic sensibilities, thank the Gods. And we get each other, much like Kenny and I did, but our work is on a different level. Abe is also related to me so there's a genetic component, but man, this guy is a very exciting, deeply educated musician and it's a blast to work with him!

So, the Longhouse is thriving and the president/janitor does her daily rounds, feeding, watering, cleaning, composing, studying, 'dreaming stuff up' and trying to get a little more wisdom each day. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

More to come, and wishing all a fine day and a fine month of June.