Wednesday, April 29, 2009

#1 Son speaks

-We were pressed for time at the airport and only had twenty minutes to chow down our McDonald's take-out meal. We perched on our luggage and on airport couches in a dark corner lounge. #1 Son assessed the situation in between bites of Big Mac and gamely quipped:
"If we were a homeless family, this is what we would look like."

Conversation in the plane:
#1 Daughter: "I'm exhausted."
#1 Son: "Did you not sleep well last night?"
#1 Daughter: ""
#1 Son: "So, if you did NOT not sleep well last night, you shouldn't be exhausted, right?
#1 Daughter: "I am too tired for this conversation.

-Tufts of gray fur were scattered about the side yard this afternoon. I scoped it out and decided that a hawk probably got a rabbit for lunch. #1 Son philosophically accepted this premise and commented as he slid into the back seat of the PT:

"Looks like there was quite the tussle."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

spring here & there

The spring days open like a morning glory, unwinding delicately and unabashedly under the warm sun. By high noon, the trumpet-cup is drunk with the balmy air, swaying and dipping under the tread of bees newly-sprung from damp pine knots and clumps of huddled moss where they droned only in their winter dreams. Late in the afternoon when the sun lazily begins to reel in her spun lengths of gold, the twisted paper blossoms droop like used party hats. The birds are the last to leave the party; they dance and sing straight into the dark.

These magic days have a marked effect on everyone and everything. Stolid and bulky shapes which recently moldered under snowdrifts -woodsheds, mailboxes, compost piles- become things of romance with violets, mayflowers, and crocuses peeping out from underneath their frames.

In the heart of this yearned-for week of warmth and blossoms and singing, we jumped the gun and flew dead south to South Carolina, where they look askance at such natural phenomena. There, every roadside screams riotously with bushes of purple and pink azalea. Nary a front porch nor a telephone pole without a fair draping of wisteria. We relished the season's excesses in a dizzied state, as paupers who stumbled upon unheard-of wealth. We didn't know how to take it all in, except to draw slow, deep breaths and insist that it really wasn't all that stupendous.

Besides the distasteful display of flora & fauna down south, there are way too many waffle houses down there and churches with baffling names, like "Weeping Mary Baptist Church" and "Rapture-Ready Church" (the subtext being "we are ready and you probably are not").

We had a lovely time, though. Here are some notes of interest:

-My brother Michael from Montana was there, groovin' on the dance floor at the wedding reception. His long braid is grayer than I remember, but otherwise he looks the same. He laughs loudly and freely. He hugged me tightly and warmly. My kids were infants when we last laid eyes upon him. They were duly impressed by his hippie-coolness.

-My sister made a stunning bride. It was very touching to watch the father-daughter dance.

-An outdoor wedding needs a microphone in order to compete with an entire wall of a water fountain and screaming kids playing at a riverfront park. But we didn't forsee this.

-Mediterranean food is simply the best. The Lazy Goat outdid themselves.

-Before the reception wound down, my cousin Mitch grabbed me to participate in some naughtiness. We sweet-talked the hotel clerk into GIVING US the key to the bridal suite. We couldn't believe our luck. In a short ten minutes, the room was properly short-sheeted and festooned with toilet-paper.

-It did my soul good to visit with dear people whom we hardly ever see. (We had to SHOUT over the stinkin' loud music into each others faces. I will never understand the appeal of loud music at wedding receptions.)

-I never cease to be surprised that people read this here blog. Even at wedding receptions, they talk to me about it. They reprimand me for not being a more faithful writer. (Ok, ok already. I'm writing now, right?)

-Congratulations to Judy & Jim! It was a memorable wedding full of beauty and fun.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

two pianists

She invited me to Snell Hall to hear a run-through of her master's recital, one hour long. I was pleasantly surprised to discover upon arrival that I was to be the lone audience member. Now I could sprawl my coat, bag, arms, and legs anywhere I chose, out there in the plush seats in the darkened hall.

Half-way back, I sprawled lazily; close enough to the warmth of the stage lights and distant enough to feel enveloped by the sound of the piano. The program was perfect: Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, and Ravel.

This particular music has befriended me over the years. One might say that we are "well-acquainted". Intimate, even.

The first piece, Bach's French Suite #5, and I go way back. I love it so very much. When friends with a taste for Bach as me to play, I always ask "major or minor?". If they say minor, I always play the French Suite #2. If major, always #5. I have played it at weddings, funerals, church services, house concerts, and in large halls. Also, one thousand times in my living room, late at night after children have gone to bed. (I always use the soft pedal then, of course.)

Hearing it played this morning was a lovely treat.

The next piece was Beethoven's sonata, Les Adeiux. I learned this when I was seventeen years old for my college auditions. I didn't know how hard it was then. Ah, youth! I know how difficult it is now, and am amazed that large sections of it are always "under my fingers". I can sit down and play it at the drop of a hat. Gone are the days when I could learn like that!
This sonata is in one large movement, but three sections. "The Departure", "The Absence", and "The Return". It is rare for Beethoven to tell a story with his music -to "program" it, so to speak. But here, he does just that. My dear young friend successfully told the tale with deep feeling. I enjoyed it immensely!

After an intermission came three of Schumann's Fantasiestucke, or fantasy pieces. I played these in college my freshman year, and remember well the voicing, pedaling, and phrasing. Such beautiful gems these pieces are! Each one is perfectly-composed. They were performed elegantly for me today.

The final selection was an excerpt from Ravel's Miroirs. I only know this music from listening to it, as I have never played it. But this afternoon, while packing stacks of musical scores for our upcoming move, I set aside my copy of Ravel's works for perusal. I don't know WHAT I am thinking -like I have two minutes for such luxuries- but one never knows. I was very inspired by this morning's performance with its Spanish rhythms and flamenco-like flourishes.

This dress rehearsal was not supposed to be about me, but about supporting the fine work of a young and talented pianist friend. But the music held such emotional weight for me personally, that it was truly applicable to both the performing pianist and the totally involved lone audience member.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

brush up your Shakespeare

This Thursday, April 23, is National Talk Like Shakespeare Day. In order to prepare for such an event, I have pasted the following instructions. If you are like most literary-loving people, you will need no such list, of course.

But just in case....

  1. Instead of you, say thou. Instead of y’all, say thee.
  2. Rhymed couplets are all the rage.
  3. Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.
  4. Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back’d toads.
  5. Don’t waste time saying "it," just use the letter "t" (’tis, t’will, I’ll do’t).
  6. Verse for lovers, prose for ruffians, songs for clowns.
  7. When in doubt, add the letters "eth" to the end of verbs (he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth).
  8. To add weight to your opinions, try starting them with methinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.
  9. When wooing ladies: try comparing her to a summer’s day. If that fails, say "Get thee to a nunnery!"
  10. When wooing lads: try dressing up like a man. If that fails, throw him in the Tower, banish his friends and claim the throne.

Monday, April 13, 2009

the scribblings of a mad man?

I love when my children share their art work with me. The following brilliant illustrations were drawn by #1 Son.

Inside the mind of this seventeen-year-old, there are stages and speakers and drum sets and lighting equipment. Detail is key. Click on the photo to note the little sound and light waves emanating from the speakers and light-stands. I love those.
As a true home-schooling mom, I offer to give him what I call "Art Credit".

As a true home-schooling mom, I can call it whatever I want.

These intricate diagrams are not to be confused with scribbles. Or artistic ranting of a mad man. Or what a five year old boy draws on the back of the church bulletin during the sermon. AND, these drawings have nothing to do with Star Wars. Or Transformers. Or even Mutant Ninja Turtle-Heads, or whatever they are called.

No, this is serious, real-life problem-solving material.

The boxes, arrows, and the strange compilation of letters and numbers all make sense to him. The long lines are wires and cables which all connect things to other things, which in turn make different things turn on, flash, and so forth. They do other things too, which I can hear #1 Son say to me as, in my imagination, he reads this over my shoulder.

"Mom. Don't you know ANYthing?"

Yes, I do.
I know that all your scribblings made for a very enjoyable concert by our favorite band.

As a special reward for these introspective, detailed, and hieroglyphical bursts of artistic expression, he has been invited to travel with them next weekend and do it all over again.

Ah, the doors that open when one has a gift with a pencil.

p.s. The photos were snapped by #1 Daughter. But that's another post.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Today, I link to a post from last year's Holy Week.

Good Friday thoughts

At Home, Holy Week

I ready myself for His resurrection
by listening over the phone
to a poem about grace
while rinsing asparagus in the sink.

I prepare dinner and all other kinds of feasting
with an eye on my unschooled and naughty soul.
While I stir and chop and fold and whisk,

Like David does in the Psalms, I address my own soul
with straight-talk:
"I'm getting to you," I insist.
"You are next on my list."

I ready myself, leaning against the kitchen sink,
bracing against the cold stone
that is lodged fast over the portal
which leads to the astounding proof that He is not there.

The dousing truth of His rising
can wash clean the gutters of my slovenliness
if I dare allow.

Is not this the reason for a week such such this?
The reflection, the posing, the remembering,
the sadness we don like a costume?

Amidst the clutter and common steps,
and the untended garden
to every weeping disciple holed up in shame-

He comes
fully risen, once again.
just as He said.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


We certainly did visit the president last evening. In the white house. On Main St. in Canton NY.
The Class of 2013 of St. Lawrence University was invited to an evening of fancy-schmancy desserts and hob-nobbing, and we participated willingly in both activities.

After this photo was snapped, President Sullivan impressed #1 Son with a silly joke, delivered with aplomb. Kassarian Dane, art professor, is a friend of ours from church. We met some other parents who are emptying their bank accounts in favor of their child's education.

Actually, I was greeted at the door by a very nice lady whose name tag informed me that she was "Director of Financial Aid". She looked like the kind of person that would appreciate my sense of humor, so I asked her if and when I could kiss her feet.

Here is #1 Son with the Dean of the First Year Program, a program specially designed to help freshmen adjust to college life. We also found the only other student from Norwood, who at first insisted that he was the only one from the 'hood. He hadn't taken into consideration the fact that there was a family who home-schooled just down the road apiece.
His earrings matched his sweater though, which endeared him to me.

This is banana cream pie. I don't know how it got here. Guess I'll just have to eat it.

We attended the Annual Crane Chorus Concert last Saturday, where we were treated to a fantastic performance of Mendelssohn's "Elijah". #1 Son played second fiddle in the band. He cleans up nice, don't he now?

It was lovely to see peeps we know backstage. Here, #1 Daughter poses with a sweet girl who needs to come decorate cookies with us again. Soon.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

new is good

April is here, and with it comes a rush of new things.

1. new music: rehearsals for Suessical are well under way. Tuesday evenings, Thursday evenings, Friday mornings, and Friday afternoons are filled with teaching voice parts to mostly eager students. The band parts are being distributed. I myself have many notes to learn. Rhythm & blues, 12 bar blues, pop ballad, light jazz, ragtime, and motown styles are being honed at the piano. Our ever-positive director makes the work so very enjoyable.
Under this heading, I will include new clothing (a.k.a. "costume") for #1 Son and #1 Daughter. Too bad this clothing makes them look like an elephant and a bird, respectively.

2. more new music: this week, I begin playing for two classes a week at Crane. German Diction II means more advanced German texts sung to wildly wonderful piano accompaniment.
This means Brahms, Schubert, Wolfe, Beethoven, Strauss, and other dead white guys who wore beards, composed by candlelight, and ordered their beer in German.
This is happiness for me, the humble pianist who sits on the bench and plays whatever comes her way.

3. a new brother-in-law: My youngest sister gets hitched this month to Jim. The whole fam will be in South Carolin-ah (where nothin' could be fin-ah) to witness this great event. We will also have new clothing for this event -but nothing in the animal-department, one would hope.

4. new apartments: Hubby is working his magic on one of the Madrid properties. In the Extreme Home Improvement Department, he rules & reigns forever and ever. Photos to come.

5. new brake pads, bushings, and alignment: it's new and it cost me a truckload of money. So its making the list.

Here's wishing all kinds of new things come to you in the month of April. For those who have braved yet another North Country winter, doubly so.