Friday, December 29, 2006

waxing philosophical

thoughts on a new year:

my portion unwinds before me
like a skein of worsted wool nudged carelessly from grandmother's lap
lying open-faced and plaint
couching plainly on spindly drifts of carpet
resting expectantly

until Time nimbly winds and weaves my threaded marrow and
ribbons of pulsing temple and secret sweat
into socks, mittens, scarves, doilies.
-a kleenex box cover
for heaven's sake.

for heaven's sake
we number breaths and steps
words, important speeches,
litanies all
places visited
faces memorized
ticket stubs and empty packets of garden seed
unsent letters
gifts given,

check them off as you knit, Time.
heaven hangs heavy at the end of your rope
and it dangles like a brass button to me.
come someday
we won't need that darning needle any longer.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

a good one

- Lebanese meat pizzas are bubbling in the oven. The dough is chock full of yogurt and olive oil and the topping is a mixture of ground lamb, chopped tomato, garlic, pine nuts, and allspice. The picture in the cookbook looks good enough to eat. But it is a library book and they levy fines for that kind of behavior.
-There is also a large pot of turkey soup simmering on the stove.
-A George Winston CD is tinkling over the sound system.
-#1 Daughter is washing the kitchen floor.
-the guest room is prepped to receive company from Ohio and Tennessee.
-plans are in motion to visit the Birchbark Bookshop this afternoon.
-a dusting of snow reminds me to wear my new hand-knit scarf..
-all the folk under this roof are healthy & happy

Not every day is as pleasing as this. So no one can blame me for reveling in it, ay?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

one triple espresso to go, please

We (Hubby, #1 Son, #1 Daughter, Friend #12 and moi ) are traveling to Albany on Saturday to see the show Triple Espresso. We are planning on laughing helplessly for the duration of the performance. If you ever get a chance to see it, go.
That's all I have to say today. Now I must head to the kitchen to make cabbage rolls. I know, my life is one exciting event after another.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

the fruit of the vine

"This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load."

We beheld a flower in our home last evening and were intoxicated by its fragrance.
Perhaps some would have simply described it as a lovely Christmas evening with friends. Others would claim the attraction was the glow of Christmas tree or candlelight. Surely the younger set would recount the silly game of "spy on the adults" that #1 Daughter may have instigated. I was particularly fond of the carol-sing around the piano. As Friend #88 buttoned up her red wool coat, she expressed her usual wild enthusiasm over her family's social call. I'm not one to argue with hyperboles, as I use them myself far too regularly. (This is the same friend that calls my living room "The Pottery Barn".) After graciously accepting her compliment though, I knew her sentiments were a response to something bigger than us and our toy-strewn abode.
If I tended a vine only to prove my talents, I would be a self-satisfied and sorry gardener. I would also be so busy tooting my own horn that I would miss the point. By God's grace, may He allow me to tend the vine of my household in order to rejoice in the flower.

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters are anything, but God who causes the growth." (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

"I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys." (Song of Solomon 2:1)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

believe and leave to wonder

Friends #7 and #12 and I were rockin' around the Christmas tree last evening. Really, we were arranging gifts, listening to a book on tape, and waiting for the fresh paint of a homemade gift to dry. (Shhh. It's a secret!)
We are eagerly anticipating two church services today. That means double of everything that we love about Sundays. Our Christmas Eve service will feature special choirs, a small string ensemble, readings, candle-lit carols, and the cathedral-vibes of a rented organ. Top it off with good Christian men & women dressed in festive finery, and it doesn't get any better, folks. My prayer? That the festivity gives way to the nativity, and we are bereft of all but the wonder of a King in a manger.

A God and yet a man?
A maid and yet a mother?
Wit wonders what wit can
Conceive: this, or the other?

A God -and can he die?
A dead man -can he live?
What wit can well reply?
What reason season give?

God, Truth itself doth teach it.
Man's wit sinks too far under,
By reason's power, to reach it.
Believe and leave to wonder!

-Old English (Commonplace Book of John Grimestone, 1372)

Friday, December 22, 2006

getting the boot

Can I relate a shopping-tale?
I own (and love) a pair of black boots that are sorely in need of replacement. They have been a friend to my feet for over six years, coming to me via a half-price sale at a very upscale department store. They are perfect for dressing up or down and have been my footwear of choice for days spent on my feet while shopping, sight-seeing, museum-ing, working and hanging out. But alas, they are showing extreme signs of loving wear and tear, not unlike the child's raggedy stuffed animal that needs a trip to the washing machine.
So when Hubby asked, "What do you want for Christmas?", I heaved a wind tunnel-like sigh and answered "boots".
We spent Sunday afternoon doing some Christmas shopping together and it was time to look for those fantasy boots: the exact replica of the dinosaurs on my feet. I thought I would check out the meager offerings at TJ Maxx while we were there, not really hoping to find anything. (O ye of little faith.) The first boots I spotted were my size. They fit like an old glove. They were EXACTLY like the boots on my feet, no kidding. They were on clearance. I looked around for the hidden camera or at least a small heavenly host declaring the good news. Of course, there was only the general bustle of uninterested shoppers that didn't understand the miracle at hand. Just like the shepherds in the next field who didn't get what the big deal was, star and all.
Forgive my excess. But for someone like me that doesn't love shopping, who is getting set in her ways and wants things replaced that always worked just fine, and is no slave to fashion anyway, it was a big deal and a reason to rejoice.
By the way, we all know the reason for the season is Jesus, not footwear purchases by a long shot. I just thought you'd enjoy a shopping-tale.
Is all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

the food channel

Oh boy. I like thinking about good food and menu planning.
Yesterday we welcomed a gourmet smoked turkey in the mail. One might think that sending a turkey via mail service is a strange practice, but people have been doing it for decades. Remember those vividly colored catalogues of the seventies that hawked cheese logs, glazed Virginia hams and ornate chocolates? My siblings and I drooled over them every season, wishing we could afford to order the Sampler Supreme, complete with complimentary ribbon candy. One lucky year, our dad's office sent us a red-checkered box. We had hit the jackpot, replete with tiny cheese spreads that came in foil triangles. Way cool.
This family cannot do without leg o' lamb on Christmas Day. I stuff it with cloves of garlic and coat it with fresh rosemary. Last Christmas, we threw it (whole) on the grill for the last twenty minutes. Highly recommended, as long as your neighbors don't call the fire department because of the flames. Along with the lamb, we roast cubed sweet potatoes and carrots.
I snagged a new book from the local library called Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. We're heading into new territory here, but to round out our study of the Middle East, we need to eat their food. Okay by me, as I love eggplant, couscous, yogurt, lemon, olives, and the rest. We will partake the way the Arabs do, seated on the floor while watching satellite TV.
Ah, food. It is a wondrous thing.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

of words and men

The menfolk arose early this morning, yanking up stiff jeans, tucking, belting and sniffing loudly. They are off to make a living while we girls are left behind in our drowsy beds, agog with sugar-plum thoughts.
I arose before the mist was off the morning, but not early enough to entirely greet the murky sun. I drank searing coffee from a holiday mug and ate two unfrosted sugar cookies. I read the liner notes of a borrowed CD: A Child's Christmas in Wales (read by Dylan Thomas). I listened to it with a printed copy and yellow highlighter in hand, in order to mark my favorite parts. The paper was soggy and shot through with yellow ink by the time Mr. Thomas wrapped things up.
I admire his strident disregard for sticking to dictionaried words, and with that in mind, I threw one in this very sentence. If "word-smithing" is a profession like wheel-smithing or cobbling, then sign me up for an apprenticeship. In order to learn to cook from Great Aunt Elsie, one can't be stymied by the indefinable, such as "smidgen" or "handful" or "schlump" (the latter being a family-word which means one wet gulp, and it is actually written in her donut recipe). If to smith means to form by heating or pounding, then sweat of the brow and frustration at the keyboard is truly in order. Who knows how easy it was for writers like Thomas to slap-dash his talent onto the ivory page? He probably took a pinch of this and a schlump of that and called it a day. We call it masterpiece.
This fine Christmas-y morn, I am inspired by the indefinable gift of Dylan Thomas. He was a no-account alcoholic that died ignobly at the hand of his own undoing. He was a scoundrel and not to be trusted, for sure. But he was a wordsmith of the highest and most admiringest kind, and I'm not one to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gingerbread House

Sprinkle some magic Christmas dust over this picture to see our final project.
OR press play. Whatever.

how do you see Him?

Despite the residual effects of a flare-up of tendonitus (caused by hours of scrubbing soot from our floors, etc.) I situated myself at the piano last evening. I allowed myself two tunes of careful choosing: If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee followed by Some Children See Him. This latter hymn is a modern Christmas carol (1954) and a great favorite of mine. (And it is the only hymn I know of in 5/4 time!) I assume that congregations can pull it off because the extra beat at the end of each phrase feels like a lazy fermata. Only their church organist knows for sure....
I don't know anything about Wihla Hutson, the author of these gorgeous lyrics, but I would like to thank her for putting pen to paper. Even a quick read-through of this poem elicits an unbidden emotional response from me. Every time.

Some Children See Him

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heaven to earth come down;
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside,
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary's Son, to Whom we pray;
Some children see Him dark as they,
And ah! they love Him, too!

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus' face
Like theirs, but bright and heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each early thing,
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King,
'Tis love that's born tonight!

Monday, December 18, 2006

hard-knocks etc.

It is a towering responsibility to help someone sort out the question,"What am I supposed to do with my life?"
Friend #7 is here for a month, fresh from her intense studies at Lee University in Tennessee. She graduates next summer with an undergrad English degree. Together we have pored over stacks of grad school brochures. Each shiny and inviting packet looks like a winner until I learn a) the tuition b) the location c) the academic world-view (which would be mostly outrageously liberal). We have surveyed web sites that offer fellowships and internships. Applications, transcripts, recommendations, GPA, financial aid: these are the the bywords of the day. My heart leaps with excitement for all the possibilities before her; the very same possibilities that make her head hurt and eyes swim with tears.
"What am I supposed to do with my life?" moans she as her laptop hums companionably on her lap. The multitudinous giftings and talents that reside in this curly-headed girl's head and heart only make this decision more complicated. We sit and wonder which way God wants her to go. Grad school? Fellowship? Internship? Work for a year to pay off college loans? How about send some stuff to publishers? Maybe study here? Maybe not. I innocently assumed that a college degree would fine-tune her life's path like the ridged wheel on a pair of binoculars. Instead, like a child's toy kaleidescope, a thousand-faceted vista has bloomed before her, knocking her breathless with its breadth and scope.
So we explore with open hearts. We step back from the screaming details and squint quietly with bated breath. We listen expectantly with cupped ears pointed heavenward. We politely ask God to take His time and hurry up. Because these papers have deadlines on them.
But really. We think He already knows that.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

violin recital, followed by family dinner

What's buzzing at our house today, you may ask?
-the harvest table in the kitchen is decked with festive linens and trays of goodies.
-ladder-back chairs ring the living room.
-the large coffee-maker (makes up to 60 cups!) is filled with cold water and freshly roasted and ground beans.
-music stands are lined up around the piano.
-the pianist has actually played through the stack of music provided by the violin students!
-two enormous casseroles of turkey pot-pie (I can cook other things, really) rest in the fridge, transforming the question "what's for dinner?" into a non-issue.
-#1 Daughter is singing and dancing at our Jr. Church's dress rehearsal.
-#1 Son is running sound & lights there.
-Hubby is helping the men of our church winterize a friend's home.
-Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, Aunt, and two cousins are on their way here for the weekend.
-Friends #7 and #12 have allowed me to boss them around all morning, and now are probably happy that the house is finally ready for the onslaught.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

o christmas tree

a floweret bright

The electronic sign at the downtown bank declared fifty-four degrees fahrenheit. The reward of a long afternoon walk inspired me to wrap up our morning agenda cheerfully: bank, library, music lesson, music store, fast-food stop, math corrections, school assignments, and turkey in the oven.
On the hill where the maple grove stands, I met my neighbor. He is a regal pileated woodpecker and we have made an unspoken agreement: if I stand absolutely stock-still, he will calmly continue his important work of chipping away rotten wood to obtain his lunch. The riotous blaze of sentinel red flaming against gray bark held me spellbound. (I used to stay away from the word spellbound because it smacked of witchcraft to me, but now I know that the entymological root of spell originally meant any speech, including a sermon. I can live with that.)
There is no snow or frost anywhere in the woods. The wick of bright green dotted the forest floor, displayed as mossy carpet on rock and log. I was contemplating how I could lug one home to admire when I spotted a different patch of growth: a nest of verdant fern. I tramped through the spongy leaves to inspect it closely. Now, it wasn't the miraculous fern from one of my favorite books of all time (Where the Red Fern Grows), but I was impressed at its audacity to spring up in the face of winter.
A diminutive Chinese urn holds the last sprigs of summer in its grasp, gracing our mudroom hutch with the proof that people like me need to be surrounded by the promise of life. The act of walking, plucking, arranging, and displaying felt distinctly liturgical to me; the kind of Advent celebration that my soul must have been longing for.

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.

It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, Who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, Who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

comments? criticisms?

There is a heap of stuff and happenings that never make it on this here blog.
As a matter of fact, if the purpose of this electronic journal was to give a comprehensive report of all my life's doings, it has decidedly failed. A person's inner workings are deep; they contain many wells. Consider my public pontificating a carefully chosen dipperful. Be assured that you won't be offered a hastily chosen quaff from my personal wine-cellar; only the fruit of the vine fit for general consumption, folks. So, which topics never make the cut?
You won't learn about someone else's problems here (exception: the anonymous lady at a church service with slime-colored hair). So stop looking.
You won't come across a list of concerns that wake me at 3 a.m.. I give that list to God.
Nothing here that smacks of gossip or disappointment in others, I hope!
I try to steer clear of presumptuous instruction, although I can't help but get the teensiest bit preachy every now & then. Sorry, it's a built-in feature.
I keep others' privacy of utmost importance. (So don't worry that my confidences will end up as blog-fodder!)

What's left to fill these glowing pages with?
Things that stir up the imagination.
Book excerpts, articles, quotes and poetry that challenge and inspire.
Skewed points of view that make me think.
Stories that I can't wait to tell. Meet me for coffee, and you'll get an earful of those!
Food-related experiences. I'm just sharing the love....
The amazing array of characters that make up my circle of friends and family.
...and other regular stuff of my day.

Any suggestions? #1 Son likes to announce confidently after one of mom's amazing meals: "Comments to the Chef!" He's a funny boy.
The box is open for comments to the chef. Bring it on.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It's my birthday, and I can take a "soot break" if I want to.
Last evening, just before sitting down to a lovely birthday dinner (served one day early because of tight scheduling) Hubby & I were chatting in the driveway with a few drop-by friends when we were treated to a light-show. Our chimney was spurting bright orange flames and angry sparks into the night sky. The men jumped into action by pulling a hose from the garage to wet down the roof. Then they inspected the wood stove and inside-chimney carefully before deciding to douse the stove's coals and shoot the contents of a few fire extinquishers up the pipe opening. This brave (yet necessary) decision sent plumes of soot and chemicals shooting through my kitchen. The floor was soon blanketed with silty drifts of ash which were consequently tramped through in order to find old sheets and towels to contain the damage. Others dashed to the windows and lifted all the sashes, threw open the doors, and employed a few fans to direct the smoke and chemical smells outside. Dinner was covered in dish towels. I closed the piano lid. We all coughed and moaned; me especially because all I was thinking of was "THE DUST."
At times like this, I need to have a bigger picture. Yes, I am grateful we still have a house! But a bucket and rag have been my constant companions today, and I feel every bit like Cinderella. I smell like her, too.
Let's wrap this post up on the "upside". Our friends Eugene and Joy Greco came over for a visit today. They are en route to Spain where they will live and minister full-time. They're not afraid of no soot. We ate bagels in the decontaminated family room. Eugene gladly played my piano (after wiping off the leather bench) and sang with the beautiful high-baritone voice that I remember and love. Joy picked up my alto recorder. #1 Son fiddled along. And I was resplendent on the antique couch, soaking in my birthday gift from God. Every sooty hair on my head tingled with birthday happiness.
Wood, hay and stubble can burn or rot away, and they are not my true portion, for sure. The Giver of Good and Lasting Gifts visited my dusty tent today and offered me a peek of heaven. Just a peek, mind you. More than enough to make me roll up my sleeves and dive back into a bucket of soapy water.
Add to our family Christmas list: a few fire extinquishers. Just in case.

Friday, December 08, 2006

things we are learning

One more week of school, and then the little darlings get a well-deserved vacation. (Come to think of it, so does their schoolmarm!)
I was tidying the bulletin board this morning and came across this newspaper clipping. When I tacked it up it in September, my enthusiasm for learning about the Middle East was just beginning to gain momentum. I wanted to have this clipping handy in case it waned! The Hull Home-school Academy is not lacking enthusiasm in our studies quite yet, but I still like what Andy Rooney has to say, so I will post it in its entirety for my online audience.

Lost in the Middle East

It has always seemed to me that school ends too soon. There is so much to learn that we should all be going to class every day of our lives. I was starting to learn when I was drafted at the end of my junior year in college. I spent the next four years in the Army in World War II and never even thought of going back to college. The war was an education college could not have given me.
Right now I need a refresher course in Middle East geography and politics. Too often I can't understand stories in the news. I don't know where things are happening or whom they're happening to.
The word Hezbollah is only a few months old to me but it keeps appearing in print, spelled in various ways. No matter how they spell it, I really don't know what it is or who they are. The faction known as Hezbollah seems to be at war with the Israelis although they claim to have agreed to a truce. Most Americans are on the side of the Israelis because they have Jewish friends. They have never met anyone claiming to be a member of Hezbollah. Are they called "Hezbollians"?
Americans should all know more about Islam because it's the world's fastest growing religion, and we're all going have to deal with the people who believe in it. It's not going to be easy. There isn't even much agreement on how we spell what we call the believers. Are they Muslim or Moslem, Mohammedan or Muhammedan? Why "Islam"?
I know where France and Germany are, but don't ask me to draw a map of Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Israel. Geography in school and college concentrated on Europe. There was some information in my schoolbooks about China, India and Japan, but almost nothing about the Middle East. I never knew what it was in the middle of. When I read the newspapers about what happens in the Middle East, a shade comes down in my brain.
I thought I was getting a good education when I was growing up, butMr. Hahn never told me anything about the Shiites and the Sunnis. The Shiites practice a form of Islam known as Shia.
Like most Americans, I know somewhere in between very little and nothing about Islam, and less than that about Shia and the Prophet Mohammad. Neither Hezbollah nor Hezbullah is in my dictionary. I'm familiar with the word prophet, but I looked it up, anyway. It says,"a person who speaks by divine inspiration through whom the will of a god is expressed."
I found it of particular interest that the writer of the dictionary definition used the term "a god" in lower case, suggesting that there is more than one. It is interesting, too, how much like Christianity the religion Islam is in many ways. Muhammad came along more than 600 years after Jesus Christ, but the story about the revelations made to him in the mountain cave by the Angel Gabriel is remarkably comparable to how Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai.
I want to be careful what I say here. I don't want to be the object of a jihad when they take over. I've learned what a jihad is. It isn't good. The closest thing we have to it is when the Mafia finds out that one of its members has been talking to the cops, they declare what is comparable to a "jihad" on the gang member. It means he's not long for this world.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

lessons & carols

Tonight's final congregational hymn was "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful". The rafters shook as jubilant voices, chancel choir, brass instruments, hand-bell choir, and pipe organ literally pulled out the stops. On the sills under the stained-glass windows, white candles danced along. Through my boots, my toes felt the vibration of our happy noise.
A service of Nine Lessons and Carols was just what the doctor ordered for my tired soul. Beloved familiar scriptures were eloquently and sincerely read from the pulpit. The tale of creation, Adam's fall, Old Testament prophecy, and the birth of Jesus were food and drink to me on this chilly, dark evening. This, interspersed with the choir, instrumental selections, and congregational singing, held me transfixed. Admittedly, there was the tenor in the chancel choir that was the spitting image of Mr. Bean (much to the merriment of #1 Daughter and Friend #12...) and the lady two pews ahead whose long hair was definitely a morbid shade of gray-green, but other than those few distractions, I was able to focus on the service.
Afterward, over Sergi's pizza, (extra-large, half dressed, half pepperoni, anchovies on the side) we thoroughly reviewed the evening. So, it wasn't the Potsdam Brass Quintet concert- (that's tomorrow night. I must've read the poster wrong!) but it was still worth attending. Plus, we got to participate by singing. And see a number of musical friends that we didn't expect .
Another perk: although all week I have attempted to get the house decorated and spread some Christmas cheer, until tonight it felt akin to labor. I have a feeling that tomorrow morning will dawn with a different attitude. Call it Christmas Spirit, if you will. In years past, I might have looked down upon applying such a silly term to my life. But even at age (almost) 45, I suppose I can be taught a lesson.
Or nine.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

art therapy

If I could manage a trip to a museum this week, I would go for it. But this is not the week for such outings, not according to my day-timer. So I got inventive. How luxurious to navigate the halls of online galleries! I needed an art-fix this afternoon, and I got it while sitting at our kitchen table.
Last week, Friend #7 and I basked in the presence of richly detailed medieval nativity scenes. It soothed my soul as much as pesto and tomato on bruschetta, perhaps much more so. As my Hubby would say, "That tasted like more!."
While searching for something similar online, I found this. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


"I am 88 years old and my mind is not as not as sharp as it used to be," he declared truthfully in that crisp familiar voice I know so well. We were leaning over his dog-eared score of the Hallelujah Chorus and I had a pink highlighter in my hand.
"Just color in the main themes as they appear," he instructed. "My eyes can't make out the notes anymore, but I can follow the highlighting!" His voice peaked with triumphal glee at outwitting Mother Nature (or Old Man Time, more appropriately). If the Good Lord lends him another two weeks, he will again conduct the closing number of the biggest seasonal concert in the area.
Every music school has its unforgettable characters and the Freshman Class of '84 met ours during the opening choir rehearsal of freshman orientation. That lively and authoritative voice, laced with proper English, came zipping from the podium straight into our impressionable ears. It came packaged in the frenetic, wiry, bristly and bustling persona of Brock McElheran, professor of choral music. The choir warmed up by briskly massaging each others shoulders.
"About FACE!" he bellowed, and we efficiently switched sides to rub another chorister's neck. He tapped his stick on a metal stand and silently zeroed in on a late-comer, giving the poor soul the "Brock Stare-Down" until he (or she) was in their seat with their score open to the proper page. Absolutely withering, it was. This was followed by a lofty speech that left me reeling with the honor of carrying on the school legacy. I wasn't too sure I was up to it, but inwardly I resolved to give it my best shot.
Conversation with any Crane alum wouldn't be complete without a "Brock Story" or two. There was the time he stood on his head in counterpoint class to demonstrate a hidden theme. Or the famous incident where he was ruddy bloody late (horrors!) for a dress rehearsal and he crawled through the second violin section while waving a white hanky on the end of his baton. His rants. His passionate speeches. Tales of conducting-gone-wrong, sopranos flowing dresses being caught on off-stage nails, tenors whose pants fell down.
Twenty-five years later, this teaching/conducting legend asks for my help. It involved picking him up, bringing him to the college, and reviewing entrances and rhythms with him.
"I'll pay you for your time!" he asserted. I had hoped he had forgotten. But after a few hours of walking through the score, he ordered me to pull a twenty dollar bill from his wallet. I protested until it became embarrassing, but he refused to budge.
"How do you know I won't take a fifty?" I countered.
"I'll know." he insisted craftily, and I believed him. After helping him with his overcoat and nervously hovering over him as he maneuvered down two flights of stairs ("elevators are for old people"), I carefully delivered him to his front door.
"Won't you join us for tea?" he inquired hopefully. I politely declined, but assured him I could stay another time. He directed me (as a conductor should) how to back out of his driveway and then took an aggressive stance while pointing in the direction of the road. He cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted something over the frigid wind, overcoat whipping around his slight frame.
"Oh," he bellowed, "and keep the change!"

Friday, December 01, 2006

flights of fancy

Just knowing that we don't have to travel this month is a comfort. 2006 has been quite a year for galavanting for this family!
-Early in the year, we attended a memorial service in New Hampshire.
-In March, Hubby & I traveled to sunny Spain. We covered Madrid, Toledo, Seville, Cordoba, Cadiz, Tarifa, Valencia, and Malaga. We also stayed in a 15th-century Parador (historical hotel) that we chanced upon somewhere south of Madrid.
-We spent an elegant (and expensive!) night in Gibraltar, too.
-Summer vacation took us to D.C., although we stayed in Virginia.
-Our rental car brought us to Colonial Williamsburg where we also traveled to another century.
-One night was spent on North Carolina's Outer Banks to visit my littlest brother and his wife. Although time was of the essence, we gazed momentarily upon their local lighthouse and dipped our toes in the Atlantic before departing.
-Hubby and the two little darlings flew to the Dominican Republic in September. I stayed home to babysit a pregnant mare and to can bushels and bushels of produce.
-The fam took a short trip to Ottawa to see Stomp.
-Thanksgiving Day was spent in Wisconsin. A day-trip into Chicago was squeezed in, for for good measure.
-Hubby flies to Colorado Springs this week.
For sake of space, I will omit detailing any in-state travel. (Trips to Albany, Windham, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, and who knows where else!)
That should wrap it up. Any other travel this year will have to be arm-chair travel.