Thursday, May 24, 2012

Concert-going reflections...

Today was a very quiet one, chez the Rambler.
Did a bit of kitchen clean-up, sifted and sorted a tremendous quantity of paper, got the finances somewhat into line – read for a while, wasted a certain amount of time, and eventually picked up a friend to go to a concert.
The symphony orchestra based here in Prairie Metropolis has just returned, trailing clouds of glory, from their first ever concert in Gotham City.  Not surprisingly, there was a conspicuously larger crowd at tonight’s concert than earlier in the series.  Accordingly, many of the newcomers would appear to be concert-going neophytes.  And this has to be good news, in the Big Pick-cha, but…

They clapped at everything.  They clapped after every movement of everything.  I believe they’d have clapped a serious “rest,” if given the chance.  It was actually kind of charming.

And it was a gentle, pleasant concert.  A bit of Haydn (“The Creation” – the “tohu bohu” part) – then two violin concerti, one by Leclair (first time I’d ever heard of him but he was securely seventeenth century) and one by Bach.  Visiting violinist, also new to me but by no means new to the violin.
After the intermission, the Beethoven Sixth Symphony.  Remembering over tea after the concert how my parents bought the boxed set of the Beethoven nine, with Toscanini conducting the—I think—NBC Symphony.  Back when networks used to have their own orchestras, children.  We played those LPs until we could almost hear both sides at once.

It was a delight to hear the “Pastorale” again, live.  First-class soloists among the woodwinds, nice lively ensemble work; despite the familiarity—good energy all the way to the end.

So I have come home happy.  Some years ago I came to an agreement with the world, about music.  I like music I’ve heard before.  I am perfectly willing for musicians to play music I have NOT heard before.  But nobody is to expect me to give myself a strain trying to like it.  If I DO like it, on first hearing, well, that’s a bonus.
And that is all for today. Tomorrow, a meeting on homelessness, and then back to St. Curious Too for the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All Smiles, All the Time.

The Grandbaby-of-my-heart woke up in her own bed this morning, after mighty transcontinental traveling over the weekend, and looky here at the splendid new skill she found she had.

Got to see her little mug twice today, for a bonus -- stopped off en route to St. Curious Too, or Two, to drop off some muffins for the refreshment of the travelers, and stopped off again on the way home.  FOMC and consort now in town, visiting for a week or so.

SLUICING rain, all day long ... good for what grows.

Supper is eaten, garbage collected and set out on the curb, time for bed.  Paperwork tomorrow, bigtime.

And then a symphony concert to wrap up the day.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Amica dies...

Some discussion recently with friends and colleagues about how to occupy the 40-45 minute drive to my new assignment (and home again)…
This led in due course to discussion of personal choices of “going to work music” – or “going home music.”

I rejected the suggestion of ABBA, remembering the poor downtrodden little pastor in the Swedish movie Angel Garden – and if you haven’t seen it… I recommend it.  It’s a little like Chocolat in that the pastor gets something like the “last word,” but don’t let me spoil it for you.

In other times I have had a weakness for Rossini overtures, but they make it hard to stay under the speed limit…

And at the moment, I am listening to Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Colin Davis, and the ladies and gentlemen of the London Symphony and Chorus, tackling Mozart.  My particular favorite cut is the last, the “Exsultate, iubilate.”  It takes about fifteen minutes, so I can listen to it three times through each way.

With any luck, I can slide into the church parking lot to the sound of Dame Kiri going right over the top on the triumphant concluding “Alleluias.”  I like the “MOMMA’S HOME” effect.

But along in the middle of the cut, there are a few seconds of thoughtful recitativo, in Latin.  The same words kept jumping out at me – “amica dies”...    ah-me-ka dee-ace ... (friend? day?) – until I finally pulled over, extracted the little “book of words” from the CD case, and checked it out.  Yes.  “Refulget amica dies” – “The friendly daylight shines forth…”  But the English doesn’t capture everything in the Latin…  “Amica dies”  -- “Friend, the day,” or “The day, a friend…” 
Then while I am marveling over the delight in those two words, comes another pair – “inexspectata quies” – which again is so much more than “unexpected quiet” – “unlooked for peace,” “unforeseen tranquility”.

Thanks be to God for Dame Kiri and her crystalline diction – and for those old Romans and their delicious language.

And "friendly daylight" and "unlooked for peace" to one and all.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ascension Sunday, and a new pulpit

The first Sunday in the “new” parish.  What a super set of lections for the beginning of an interim ministry – somebody has left, somebody has coming, but “in the meantime”???
We had a little fun drawing gentle unemphatic comparisons between the situation of the early church, choosing Matthias in the light of their need to furnish a complete witness to the resurrection, and St. Curious Too, forming a search committee to discern a new Rector.
The congregants were gracious enough to say they found it interesting and “NOT BORING AT ALL.”
And then we had good strong coffee and cookies and the last of Chase’s birthday cake which was decorated for him (he’s three) at yesterday’s session of “Messy Church”.  The theme for MC was Pentecost, heavy emphasis on wind (blow painting, with straws) and flames, hence frosting flames on Chase’s cake, I have probably ingested enough red food colouring to shorten my lifespan.
It was sheer perfection to make the drive this morning though – about 40 – 45 minutes each way if there are no traffic nonsenses, and there weren’t.  A little suburban traffic at this end, then great long stretches with no other vehicles in sight, and finally a flurry of industrial traffic: rig supply trucks loaded with clamp mechanisms for oil rigs, double-trailer heavy haulers laden with molten sulphur and other red-flagged substances.  Yes, friends, we’re ministering now in the petrochemical heartland!!! 
And tomorrow is a statutory holiday in the True North Strong and Free!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The mysteries of malice...

Reflecting a little on the convolutions of the whole human condition thing, … (imagine what follows here with a faint French accent and a wisp of smoke from a Gitane.  Or not.  Your call.)
And more particularly on the operation of SPITE.
It seems that when we have, once, injured another person, and realize it -- there is instantly a very powerful impulse to repeat the injury, the insult, the offense, the assault upon dignity, self-esteem, confidence.
It is as if the spite or malice arises from the consciousness of our own bad or thoughtless action, rather than the reverse – despite all logic that would suggest the resentment comes first, then the action.
And perhaps when we have acted on this spiteful impulse, a handful of times, it becomes easier to say, “ X must be a bad person, because the thought of X displeases me.  X must have had it coming. 
“Quelle,” as they say, “dommage.”

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Friday Five -- BUGS!

Jan has posted this Friday Five for us today:

After lots of rain and high temperatures, the flea population has mushroomed in Corpus Christi, TX, more specifiscally in our home! We have three dogs and one indoor cat, who have had their monthly flea treatments to no avail. Unfortunately, my female body is the one the fleas love to bite. So as you are reading this FF, our pets and ourselves will be gone from the house for 3-4 hours, after a pest company sprays all the floors.

With fleas on my mind and on my body, here is an insect-ious Friday Five:

1.What kinds of pests are in your neighborhood or area?

In this part of the country -- if you're not an agriculturist coping with grasshoppers and their nefarious kin, the great pest is the MOSQUITO [insert local joke about size of mosquitoes here].  Secondary nuisances include wasps of various sorts, the bane of folks who love to spend the summer on their patios or decks, especially eating and drinking thereon!

2. Is there a time of year or day that increases their activity? Weather affects their activity or not?

Every spring there is great speculation in the media, locally, and in casual conversation, about whether the weather is dry enough to discourage the hatching out of mosquito larvae, whether the rain (also greatly desired for other reasons) has enhanced their numbers, whether a late frost might discourage them, and so forth -- along with the usual recriminations against the civic authorities for having budgeted too little for insecticide spraying, or having budgeted too much (from the environmentally-concerned), or having spent all the mosquito-budget on snow-removal in the preceding winter months, and so on, and so forth.

3. Is there any pest that was new to you when you moved to a new location?

When my family moved from the West to Northern Ontario, Pre-Cambrian Shield country in the early fifties, we were astonished and appalled to make the acquaintance of the "blackfly," notorious in story and song.  Blackflies swarmed humans and pets alike, and where the mosquito left behind a small itchy lump, the blackfly took a chunk of flesh and flew away with it, leaving a bloody mess behind -- which then also swelled up, frequently became infected, ached, and was VERY slow to heal.  I remember seeing a workman in the local Provincial Park whose hands had been so bitten that his wedding ring had completely disappeared in the swelling of his fingers.

4. How do you treat insect bites? Are you allergic to any?

The time-honoured calamine lotion, or an OTC antihistamine if they're really troublesome.  TBTG, not at this point allergic to any.  And if and where wasps/hornets/yellow-jackets etc. are a problem, there is a wide range of wasp-traps, some of them home-made, which decrease their numbers!

5. Anything else you want to write about connected with insects/pests.

It's one of the ancillary benefits of forty-below winters that OTHER kinds of insect pests are not more prevalent with us.  Remind me of this, again, come January!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"My Day"

This is how it was, today, so far.

After putzing around a bit in the morning, I got myself to St. Curious about 10:30 and then for 2.5 hours polished pieces of estate silver we've been given for a silent-auction fundraising banquet gala THING on Thursday.  Most of the silver wasn't too badly tarnished, but a couple of pieces were fierce.  There were some lovely silver-inlay heavy glass serving bowls -- my mother had a couple, back when, and I admired them then and now.  (She had an amazing cobalt-blue silver-inlaid tea service also...gorgeous.)

Anyhow one of our silver items was a "pie ring" or "pie plate holder" -- see sample photo above!  No pie plate with it, and every single person who came by to offer advice went into panic mode that "something is missing, there is a piece missing, this is BROKEN."  "No," I explained, "this will hold a standard-sized pie dish, that is what it is FOR, supply your own pie dish, all is well." 

When the silver was all done it was time to go to a funeral elsewhere, so I checked in with FabBoss on the advisability of just going and buying a simple, ordinary, everyday, Pyrex glass pie-plate so that bidders at the auction would understand what the pie-plate holder was all about.

The funeral was a BIG one, parking hard to find, they ran out of prayer books, and the homily was egregiously awful.  AWFUL.  Particularly galling because I am/was very fond of the person who died.

I escaped at the end of the service, not staying for the reception, and fled off in search of donations for the silent auction, AND the desired pie plate.  Do not forget the pie plate, Best Beloved.  It is of moment, in the unfolding of the day.

Picked up the donations (gift certificate from an elegant new tea-emporium), and set off to the closest mall, anchored by two major department stores, a LARGE supermarket, and a dollar store, besides kitchen specialty shops, feeling no doubt that it would be child's play to purchase a pie plate (DID you forget the pie plate????).
Department store #1 -- no pie plates of any kind.  Two-hundred-dollar machines to make one meezly cup of coffee, in profusion, ugly and over-priced table china oh yes, but pie dishes, not at all.
Department store #2 -- huzza, one Pyrex pie plate.  One.  Sitting all by itself on a piece of shelving, no box, no tag, no price.  Fall back on cashier's kiosk.  "Oh dear.  There's no price tag on this.  I'll have to take it to Gift Registry to find out its price."

Twenty minutes elapse... "Oh I'm so sorry, here we go, I have the code for this now".  Cllickity-click.  Price comes up on computer screen: one pie plate, cost 99 cents, with tax, $1.04.  "Woo hoo," I say.  "Oh no, that can't be right, I'll just go back and check." ... Ten more minutes... "Oh I'm so sorry, this is part of our EIGHTEEN PIECE SET, so you would have to purchase the EIGHTEEN PIECE SET" (said with bright-eyed hopefulness...).

Back downstairs and to the kitchen specialty shop.  "Pie dishes, who dat."  Leave kitchen specialty shop.

Supermarket... one vastly over-priced odd-sized Pyrex pie-dish.

Dollar store... no pie dishes at all.

So I drove home, with a stop at the closest-to-home mall, thinking, surely in the soon-to-close low-rent department store, or the neighbourhood supermarket, there will be a pie plate?  

Ha.  Nothing in the department store.  And in the supermarket, the same over priced odd-sized specimen I'd seen before.

Remember it was/is 10% Tuesday (first Tuesday of the month), I tottered around to stock up on a few basics, and the upshot of that -- the final, ultimate straw -- was being hit on in the meat department by a lonesome chain-saw mechanic.  (I misplaced my Forbidding Aspect, obviously).

I AM SO TIRED!!!!  So am having my supper, and washing it down with a beer, no remarks from the cheap seats thank you, and then will put groceries away, do some touch-up cleaning on the stubbornest piece of silver, put soup makings in the crock pot for tomorrow.  AND SO TO BED. 

There you have it.  My Day.  Me and Mrs. Roosevelt.  Yeah.