Thursday, December 31, 2009

Music Filing System

     Every January I am bitten by the organization bug.  It attacked early this year and I am already planning.  In the process I remembered redoing my music filing system a few years ago.  I doubt that it is anything new but it works well and I am happy with it. Thought I would share it.
     Several years ago I found a website that classified people as filers or pilers.  I recognized myself immediately.....a PILER (or STACKER).  I love to make piles.  I decided that if I made a filing system it would have to be easily accessible and quick to use.  Solution.....hanging files in upper file drawers, one folder for each composer filed alphabetically.
     Our home office has two adjacent 4-drawer high files with very deep drawers.  They are next to my desk.  I have taken over the upper two of each with music and music-related papers; it is easier for me to stand than sit when I file music.  One drawer is for papers; music is in the other three.  I have music divided into the following categories: viola technical studies, viola sonatas, viola unaccompanied, viola and orchestra, orchestral excerpts, oversized music, chamber music, violin music ( technical studies, solos and collections), cello music, church music, solo collections for viola and piano, and more.  Hope you get the idea.  I can easily add more in the future if I need to.
     Within each category music is filed by composer in alphabetical order.  Each composer has a hanging file.  It is very quick and easy when I put music away.  I REALLY like it!  I still stack but I file more because it is orderly and easy.  I have not lost music and it stays in better condition.
     Enough of this.........hope this helps another stacker!
   

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best Dog

     I am surrendering.  "No", I thought, "I am not going to be one of those persons who raves and raves about his or her dog".  Our westie has been such a joy that this post is for him.  He is so good-natured and polite....but boy, can he play rough with my husband and boys!!  He is just ssssssssso cute!!  He is begging right now (very politely) to go out.  I will obey.

The Extremes of Christmas

     Early this month I did some mall shopping.  During a visit to one of my favorite stores, Bath and Body, I heard  the most abominable selection of "canned" Christmas music I have ever heard.  My personal list of Christmas Songs That Should Be Abolished is headed by  Santa Baby (just the thought gets me going...) but perhaps I will change it. Just when I was really fed up with the music in B & B I heard an unfamiliar song about what somebody wanted from Santa.  The answer is..........and how could I not have guessed........... the perfect gift for the child who has every material thing this world can offer......an ALIEN!  Isn't that what every child wants who contemplates the nativity and learns about the deeper spiritual meaning of the season?!!!  My, how could I have missed this low point of Christmas musical lit.!   Oh, I get it...........Santa Baby is an alien.
     After experiences like this I wonder in amazement at the acceptance of this music.  My better nature thinks "maybe it is just a joke...".  But I don't think so.  A sorry situation, indeed!
     Christmas is a feast for the senses which includes both the worst junk food and the best gourmet items.  I think many of us overindulge and are ready to diet in January.  No more Christmas music for a year, and then we are ready to do it all over again.  We are "funny" creatures..........
     This past week I have tried to focus on a message from Elder Uchtdorf's talk (see my post Christmas).  He suggested that  we try to find Christ during this season.  I am sure this is not a new idea, but somehow his words caught my attention.
     I am happy to report that my search has been successful.  I saw His reflection in the great generosity of people responding  to struggles in our home.  I have seen His hand in the timing of critical events this month.  I have felt overwhelming gratitude for my viola and the joy it brings into my life, and for the great blessing to be able to play better--not worse--at my age.  I have been reminded of my wonderful family, including a faithful husband and good children in a day when many families are breaking or broken.
     Last Saturday, on the way to visit my sister who lives several hours south, we had help from a real-life good Samaritan.  They still exist on roads full of busy travelers.
     While driving south on I 65 through northern Indiana our van had a blow-out.  After making it to the side of the highway we realized that the tire had met its demise in the most ugly, boring and deserted stretch of 65.  A mile marker was the only landmark.  While sitting my husband and I wondered what to do.  Traffic was heavy, with many  trucks barreling by in the right lane.  The van shook frequently as vehicles whizzed past us.  My husband did not think it safe to change the tire because of the kind of jack we had, and he has been nursing a right shoulder injury.  We also wondered how many of the speeding drivers were TEXTING  (not a comforting thought.....).  So we sat, thought and prayed about what to do.  I thought how nice it would be if someone stopped to help us, but I also knew I was probably dreaming.  First of all, who would bother to help in this day and age, and next, what could they do?!  We called the state police and tried to get a tow truck (aren't cell phones wonderful!!!).  After sitting for about 15" a car pulled over some distance ahead of us.  He began to back up toward us, faster and faster.  I thought, OH NO---SOME KOOK WHO IS GOING TO RAM OUR VAN AND KILL US!!  Well, he almost did.  He stopped abruptly just in front of us.  To make a long story short, he was a tow truck driver taking his car south to visit family.  He offered to change our tire......he had all the right tools in his trunk.  He and my husband worked for about an hour.  There were problems, such as not being able to get the spare tire out and having a terrible time getting the blown tire off.  That poor guy worked and worked, but finally--after breaking a couple of his tools--he got the spare on.  After all of that he wanted no money ( we gave him some anyway....what a feat!! ).
     During the wait I marveled at this.  To me it was a miracle, and similar to the story of the good Samaritan.  The next day we attended church near my sister's home and the first message, given by a 12 year old girl, was about the story of the good Samaritan.  OK, I thought, I think I get the message....much to think about!!
     I think this has been my best Christmas.  Not because of material things, but because of the Spirit I have felt and what I am learning.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas

     This is a busy and emotional time of year.  I sometimes  become emotionally and spiritually depleted.  The first Sunday in December my family listens to Christmas messages from leaders of the church we are members of (Latter-day Saints) but I had to miss it this year.  I just listened to one online and felt I should post a link to it.  It was wonderful.......the best I have heard, I think.  It put things in perspective.
     The message can be read or heard online; I recommend listening first.  To get it go to the website lds.org (or  click on the link to the right of this post) and find the First Presidency Christmas Devotional message link on that page.  Click on "many languages"; when on the next page click on your language of choice.  After that you will see a list of speakers and music.  Go to President Dieter Uchtdorf's tallk. You can also click on performances of Christmas music by the Tabernacle choir...always beautiful.
     Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crazed

     Toyz'R'Us........I get tired just thinking about that place.  At this time of year I am grateful I do not have to shop there anymore-especially during the Christmas season!  I remember hearing stories about friends lining up early on what is now Black Friday to get really good deals on presents.  I never thought it was worth it; too many people, germs, and too much craziness!  My motto was "there must be another way".
     During the rest of the year my husband and I overdosed on Toyz'R'Us and our home looked like its Lego and Star Wars departments.  We could have put a sign in the front yard that said "Treter House of Star Wars".  We indulged our children on their birthdays and at Christmas........not a good idea in retrospect, but it was lots of fun Christmas morning!
    When my children were really young I sometimes felt overwhelmed and that I lived in craziness.  Sometimes I felt like I was on the verge of craziness myself!  On one of these days I escaped with my children to Toyz'R'Us and spied a collection of strange animals which included the one pictured below.  They were the perfect embodiment of how I felt.  Crazed. And so silly I burst out laughing. What a relief! My Pinky is pictured below.  I put her in the kitchen to help me smile or laugh on crazy days. Now she sits in the office. I still think she is funny, and I still have days that feel like she looks!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November's Palette

      A week ago I grabbed my camera just in case I found something interesting to photograph during my morning walk with the dog.  I was not hopeful.  The trees had lost their leaves and it was November--very brown and gray.  The sun was shining  and I thought if nothing else, I can take a picture of the blue sky.
     This morning I repeated my efforts and found some lovely shapes and spots of color which are posted below.  I pondered how pretty a few red leaves or berries are at this time of year in contrast to summertime when they are swallowed up in an abundance of bright colors.  I  noticed the intriguing shapes of naked trees and found abandoned nests on barren branches. I observed that dead leaves and weeds are not just brown and beige but many variations of such.   
     A memory involving Mozart surfaced. After I received my undergraduate degree I took a graduate level class about Classical music.  I anticipated that I would have to listen to many Mozart compositions and be able to identify them by ear.   That was going to be very difficult as I believed they all sounded similar--how would I be able to tell them apart?  I was relieved and pleased to discover that as I listened to my assignments my ears began to distinguish many differences in Mozart's works. It was a bit like my experience with color on the parkway.  Once the rich, lush sounds and textures of late Romantic music were gone I began to focus on the more limited palette of Classical music and found many variations therein.  It was a rich experience.
                                                                                

    
      These were taken near my home on November 15, 2009
   
 












                                


   








     The following were taken today, Nov. 22, 2009/ Parkway



Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Haven

     A special lake is where I go to escape.  My grandmother and two aunts bought a cottage there when I was 9 or 10 and it has always been my favorite place.
     It was sold many years ago but I still visit with memories. Sometimes I go when I need a dose of beauty, peace or solace.  Sometimes it is a source of inspiration.
     When my middle son was recovering from two bouts of cancer I began to do some writing, much of it inspired by the lake.  It began with simple Haiku in secret as I have little confidence in writing anything creative.  I discovered that I could get lost in writing, and it helped focus my thoughts.  It was a wonderful, pleasant escape from the trials of life and a way to record life for my posterity.
     I found myself "visiting" the lake frequently...maybe because it was a healing place. It was also a happy place. My aunts, both unmarried schoolteachers, escaped there during summers.  There was no telephone-the neighbors took emergency calls-and there was not much TV.  My aunts usually drove to their home on weekends to do laundry and check-in with the real world. 
     My grandmother and two aunts were very creative.  Between the three of them was good cooking, sewing, decorating, drawing, painting, sculpting, building, singing, and story-telling.  And they were very laid-back.  They were at the lake to relax and that is what they did!
     They were good listeners.  They were patient and non-judgmental, and as a result I could tell them almost anything.  I seemed to connect to this side of my family and felt accepted.  The lake was a refuge from my home where I often felt awkward and misunderstood .
     The cottage faced the lake, with just a road separating them.  The lake was approached by walking down  a few wooden steps.  At the bottom was a narrow, rocky beach.  After that a white dock stretched out.  In later years a small deck was built near the top of the steps to accommodate my aunt's wheelchair.  The square deck jutted out over supportive structures enclosed in latticework. 
     When young my sister and I would go to the lake together.  Many hours were spent playing with Barbies, swimming, sunbathing, and reading on the dock. In the afternoon we would play water ballet and swim with my aunts. After that we sunbathed on the dock while pouring over movie magazines and nibbling snacks. When older I enjoyed mornings by reading a good book at the end of the dock and dangling my feet in the water.  Sometimes I just sat and watched the lake, its changing colors and what I could see below the surface.
     My aunts were usually involved in creative pursuits when not working or at the beach.  One of my aunts painted with oils on the side porch.  The picture I remember best was a very large canvas covered with white wicker and red geraniums, a bright and cheerful work.  My other aunt sewed furnishings for the cottage such as curtains, pillow covers, and bed linens.  She and my grandmother were the cooks. My aunts did light gardening and always hung a few pots of colorful impatiens.
     The cottage was always changing.  It was a fixer-upper when purchased  and various improvements were almost always being planned or carried out.  I learned how to paint a wall while helping them paint.  One summer my aunt laid a brick patio by herself. A lower bathroom was put in during later years.  One year they discovered that during the off-season squirrels had infiltrated the roof by way of the front yard walnut tree, damaged it, and generally made a big mess.  Major repairs followed....
     Decorating projects were frequent.  In the 1970s my aunts discovered country-style decor and made a lot of changes, including new furniture, knick-knacks, and stenciling along the tops of walls and on the steps leading upstairs. It was charming.  I usually visited late in the summer when the projects were finished or in completion, and it was always fun to see what was new.
     In my teen years I would bring a project of my own to work on. It was usually a piece of crewel embroidery; occasionally I tried needlepoint or simple quilting by hand.  I enjoyed this very much.  Sometimes my aunts helped or encouraged me.  I appreciated this as my mother did not do handwork at that time and she hated to sew.
     My favorite moment at the lake was waking up.  My sister and I always slept in the second bedroom, a small white room almost filled by three twin beds each of which lined a wall.  It was a cheerful room.  Each bed was covered with  yellow-gold checked linens that my aunt had made out of sheets. The end bed was on the lake wall and a window was at the foot of it.  The bed I usually slept in jutted out from here and my head was at the window end.  I loved to bury myself under the covers on cool mornings and feel the lake breeze while listening to the sound of waves lapping.  It was a delicious experience.
     My lake aunts were like second mothers to me, but they were not the only ones. I was blessed to have even more who for one reason or another never had children.  Each took time to love and teach me, filling  gaps in my family education and expanding upon what I had been taught at home.  I have had many mothers.  In closing I leave a poem about my two aunts......
    


     Their souls blew through the cottage
       Like soft lake air,
        Filling it with breezes of art and conversation,
             Memories and song,

      Which grew around my heart
        Like the wild sweet peas
            Tendrilling across the weathered deck 
             And over the rocky beach.
                                                                                     



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Musiolarant

     This is more info from Glenn Beck, another quote, and this time it is from the president.  So, leave now if you are not interested!  Below is a blog posting Mr. Beck refers to; the quote I will refer to is below it.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0308/Stop_these_abortions_.html

 "Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old," he said. "I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information."

     A baby is a punishment????  Since when??!!!   Since NEVER.  To have an "unwanted " baby might FEEL like a punishment, and it certainly might be viewed as a big problem, an inconvenience, etc.--but a baby is never a punishment.  A baby is a sweet, innocent life. It does not punish, and the giver of life--God, if you like--does not punish with babies.  They are a natural consequence of the behaviors that create them.........duh!!!  Killing them is not a good solution........ (yes, I am anti-abortion)......and there are many childless couples who would love them deeply, hence adoption.
     I have a son who might not be able to father children due to illness.  There are more like him.  Someday he would LOVE to have one of these "punishments"!!
     I am so happy that Obama and his wife are teaching their girls morals and values...that sounds wonderful....but what is being taught?
     An STD is not a punishment, either.  Some people who get sick, for example a faithful spouse, are innocent victims.  An STD is a natural consequence, one which is usually connected with immoral behavior.  So it might feel like a punishment (I think many of us still have an active conscience).  I do not believe that God punishes people with STDs.  We are children of a loving God who wants us to turn to Him for guidance.  He wants to help us.  Having an STD could actually become a blessing if we seek God and become a better person in the process.
     Gee....I sure hope the day does not come that sick, elderly people are viewed as inconveniences or punishments that should be done away with by their children, or worse--society.
     What was our president thinking when he said this?  The mystery continues............
 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Falling

     Today I observed the falling of the leaves.  Sometimes a few floated down; sometimes a mother load in a gust of wind.  The air was cool and quiet, and the sunshine was in and out.
     Change surrounded me, those of colors, shapes and sounds.  We experience change everyday at home and at work, but most of it involves people and the things we own and manipulate--our stuff.  These were quiet changes of nature, unknown or perhaps insignificant  to the inattentive.
     I approached a main road  and watched a few noisy vehicles whiz by.  A nearby tree released a few leaves and I followed one as it quietly drifted down in front of this scene.  The contrast was stark.  How many of us "whiz away" our days and miss what we can find in stillness and solitude? 
     Even in quietude we can "whiz away" in our thoughts, depending on what we think about.  This reminds me of a leaf that fell today in a twirling frenzy...like a  mother hen caught up in worrying about everybody, or a Chicken Little who is anxious  about everything.  Every leaf that fell was going to end up on the ground, but some glided slowly, without a care in the world.  Others did several variations of how to fall, like people who experience much in life.
     I occurred to me that no matter how a leaf fell it landed gently and safely.  We are all "in God's arms", as the saying goes.  So why whiz by with worrying  (I am a worrier--but I am working on this!)?  We will meet our Maker, return to that Tree who gave us life, no matter how we fall.  For me, it is important to make quiet time to study Scriptures and pray.  These help focus my thoughts and my life so I don't whiz my life away!
                                     Be still and know that I am God,  Psalms 46:10
  

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Lambs

    Below are two lambs I made two years ago.  They are not my design; they are sewn from a Martha Stewart pattern in her November 2006 magazine. Fun to make---and I think they are kind of cute! The pattern can be found by going to the Crafts section of her site and searching "lamb template".  The article on Felted Stuffed Animals  has it and more.
     The gray lamb was made out of heathered gray felt and the other out of a felted wool knit sweater.  They both have a pink ribbon, but I added a jingle bell to the sweater lamb.  They are filled with poly fill.  Wish I had a girl to give them to...(without button eyes).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Deeply Rooted Tree

     A couple years ago I had the opportunity to be on the 8th floor of the State Department  in the Benjamin Franklin and adjoining rooms.  This was one of the choice experiences of my life.  The ceremony I witnessed was very special but not the highlight of the occasion. What touched me most was the experience I had while virtually alone for a brief time.  As I stood at that quiet moment and pondered where I was I felt a wonderful spirit.  There was a special feeling in the room.  Sounds trite...but I can not find a better explanation.  I was overcome by the greatness of this country and its founding fathers.  I could feel it in the room.  It is real.
     I remembered what I learned after 9/11 and felt it again. Following that event I grieved and in the process became more aware of my deep love for this country.  The best way I can describe this is to pretend that my connection/patriotism/love is a huge tree whose upper branches and leaves are where I usually stay.  When 9/11 happened I felt as if something pulled at the roots and shook the tree.  In the process I became aware of how big the roots were........they were VERY deep and VERY big!  For weeks I marveled at this...I still marvel and wonder where those roots came from.  As I stood in the state department rooms I could feel those roots and a love so deep that I knew I could have given up my life for my country right then, if needed.
     Now I am grieved again........as are others.  I am very disturbed by much of the news and feel that our nation is, and has been, in peril.
     I do not listen to Glenn Beck very often because it  is not good for my health.....I get too riled up...but I think he is a good, honest man who is trying to call attention to things most of us ignore or do not know about.  Today I listened to clips from his show regarding Anita Dunn.  I have never planned to write anything about my political views, but I just can not be quiet any longer.  I am appalled by some of the things I see and hear.  A White House Director of Communications who pretty much voices her admiration of  Mao Zedong's political philosophies --at a high school graduation--and in the same sentence as Mother Teresa??!!  Hopefully you, the reader, are enlightened enough about Mao to know what kind of a "man" he was (I learned reading Wild Swans  by Jung Chang--a book I highly recommend).  There is definitely something WRONG here!!!!!!!!!  I can not think of any reason to have someone like this working for our nation, or any level of government. At the very least it looks and sounds  bad.  Appearances are important when one is in a leadership position!  I just do not know what the president is thinking.  I never do.  I just do not trust the man.  Anyway, I have ranted enough.
     I suppose we have gotten ourselves into this predicament. The majority of Americans voted for this man.  I  don't want to explain this...it would take too long...but we are "soft".  Sometimes this is very dangerous..........especially our "soft" morality.  Some of us are SO smart and educated and so......well, what I call "morally stupid".  As if lots of education and social acceptance negates our need for God ....or gives justification for reasoning Him out of existence.  I am reminded of verses 1,2 and 7 in 2 Timothy: 1. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,...............7. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."  Sounds like a lot of us nowadays.......hmmmmm!
     My generation "loved" Him away.  Love was the answer.........we need more love.  God is Love.  If you love someone God doesn't care about you breaking his laws. He will forgive you if you love.  I was recently reminded of what the first and great commandment is (LDS General Conference, Oct. 2009).   Matthew 22:  34-40 states "But when the Pharisees had heard that he (Jesus) had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."   (King James version, New Testament).  Love of God is first.   If not first, things get REALLY messed up!!
     By the way, I am not down on education.  I've had a lot and I am very  grateful for it.  It has been a great blessing in my life.  I want to end with two quotes from the Book of Mormon.  If you have not read the B of M I urge you to give it a try.  It complements the Bible....there is no evil teaching in it.  If you read it, think of it as a collection of journal entries by religious leaders-- prophets from 600 BC to about 400 AD in America, one of which is Mormon-- rather than a collection of stories.  Study and pray about it....give it a fair chance.  Here are the quotes, the first of which reminds me of our society:  2 Nephi 9:28-29  "...........O the vainness, and the frailities, and the foolishness of men!  When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not.  And they shall perish.  But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God."
     Second quote, which is the message of the B of M:  Moroni 10:32,  "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."
     Enough.  I have probably gone on long enough......lighter posts to come!
    
    .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dashees Garden

       Several months ago I decided to open an Etsy shop in the future to sell things I enjoy making.  I originally had planned to call it Musiolarose, the name of my other blog, but I thought something related to Dashee was more personal and different.  As I pondered the name I came up with more ideas for the shop.  I decided to name it Dashee's Garden because I love nature-especially flowers and gardens- and Dashee is also a reflection of me. 
     You will not find any sheep--at least not yet.  So far the shop only has items related to the Dashee theme or inspired by it.  The shop is new so there will be changes and additions as it evolves, especially this week.  The address is dasheesgarden.etsy.com.
     This blog will also have posts showing items I love and some that I make, including the process.  There will likely be some personal history connected to my activities.  Thanks for stopping by...hope you enjoy!
  

Dashee


     When I was very young our next-door neighbor had a dalmatian dog named Dashee.  I have vague memories of the dog, but I have been told I really liked it...so much so that I named my "teddy bear", a stuffed black lamb, Dashee.
     I loved my Dashee and could not go to sleep without it. I especially liked to smell it's nose (imagine that aroma after a few years....my poor mother!).  Hmmm...I think it might have been a musical lamb that played Baa baa black sheep, Have you any wool?.  I have not thought of that for MANY MANY years  (Yup---the piece to wind it up shows on the photo below!).  I do not know why I received a black lamb, but I think it might have been because I really liked that particular nursery rhyme.  So there you have it........the origin of such an odd "teddy bear".

     I began thinking about Dashee a few years ago.  At the time I thought, "Oh no...I am turning into my mother!". When my mother reached middle age she began talking about her childhood Patsy Ann doll and how she wished she had it.  I remember hearing stories at that time about other childhood memories, too; I thought it a bit odd.  Now I think I understand.  It is a way to connect to family and childhood, and it seems related to recording memories and genealogy.  That is at least part of it.
     I now have a small collection of black sheep.  I tried to find  one for years and finally found a black lamb in the gift shop of the hospital in which my mother spent the last week of her life.  That black lamb also connects me to her.  Since then I have made a few and found a few more...and maybe there will be more to come.
    

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wonders

     Last weekend I attended a wedding reception.  At one point a few young people walked up close to the head table and took pictures with their phones.  I know about the ability of cellular phones to do this, but as I
watched I was overcome with amazement.  It was almost as if I was watching a scene from a futuristic movie.  The amazement turned to an awareness that I am alive at a time when I can experience this, and then it turned to gratitude.  Wish I could put it into words....there are none.  I love living now.  Yes, there is much gloom and doom and many problems, but at that moment I could only feel joy.  To me the technology we have is millenial and hints of things to come.  And ah...the internet!!  A library at my fingertips!!  So many wonders.......and I am not too old to learn them!


     October..........I think it is my favorite month.  I love the crisp, cool air and rich colors of autumn.  Below are some pictures of nature's wonders that I have recently taken, along with a few from last year.  Last fall the colors were especially beautiful!





     The following pics were taken this fall.  They are near my home.











          The wind brings 
Enough of fallen leaves
      To make a fire.
             -Ryokan   *






  
       









     The following are from 2008.






     Should it have such worth,
          What would I not give
     For the scenery of autumn?--Soin*














































                            Autumnal Plants, 2009
















            





















               Silent flowers
          Speak also
                  To that obedient ear within--Onitsura*



















   September mist
        on the fir











          *Haikus are from the book  Silent Flowers:  A New Collection of Japanese Haiku Poems  With Original Paintings by Nanae Ito.  Edited by Dorothy Price.  Copyright 1967 by Hallmark Cards, Inc. and Hokuseido Press. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fairlane and Sapphires

     My mother had a blue Fairlane Ford (guess that dates me...).  I think she acquired it after being left with two young girls, my sister and me, following my dad's sudden death.  My Uncle Frank gave it to her and she named it Frankie.  We were a home of women in the 1950's, a time when only filling station attendants pumped gas and women did not know much about cars.  We were no exception.  When there was a car problem my mother took the car to Marion at the local Marathon gas station .  He was the fix-it man.
     There was another solution to car problems.  This one would probably only exist in a household like ours..... it was simple and successful on cold mornings when the car would not start.  "OK girls, kiss Frankie and maybe he will start."  That is what my mother said; that is what my sister and I did.  After a few attempts at starting the car, varoom.......every time!  I know....it must sound silly...but as a child I only knew that I loved that car and the kisses helped.  Like magic!
     A few years later I broke one of my front teeth and had a silver cap put on.  It was there until about age 14, when my mouth matured enough to get a false tooth.  I made wishes on my tooth.  I do not know why...I suppose someone told me it would work.  I also made wishes on stars, inspired by the Walt Disney show and the song When You Wish Upon a Star.
     One of my wishes was for a sapphire.  At some point I received a birthstone ring, I think, which was a pretend sapphire.  I believed that my wish had come true, even though I knew it was not a real sapphire.  There were other wishes which came true in some way.
     When I was older I knew that one could not wish on teeth and stars, but somehow my desire to believe transferred to God.  I think there was a connection.  Now I began to pray in hopes that God would answer the pleas of a girl on the emotional roller coaster of early teen years.  These prayers were answered (see Best Gift post).  I am grateful for my experiences wishing and where they led me!
    
  

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nightclub 1960

     I love the viola with guitar.  Several months ago I found this piece on You Tube......a performance of Nightclub 1960 by Astor Piazzolla.  The performers are Duo Macondo, a duo made up of guitar and viola.  The performance is beautiful...very expressive...I want to learn this piece!!  Here it is (hover and it will show up).....www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5zik9dA-bY

Saturday, September 19, 2009

pizza

     Think it is about time to add a food entry...........I have been trying to sneak spinach into different things to add some nutritional punch to our suppers.  One easy, yummy way is to add it to frozen pizza.  I buy an inexpensive thin crust version that is plain or pepperoni; I try to get a brand that does not use a lot of cheese or salt. To prepare two pizzas I saute 2 large chicken breasts cut into small pieces.  While these cook I drain a box of thawed, frozen chopped spinach.  Squeeze out most of the moisture.  I put half of the chicken on each pizza; then half of the spinach.  Next I put half a container of grape tomatoes, each left whole, to each pizza (yum-they squirt open in your mouth after being baked).  I sprinkle the top of each pizza with a small amount of mozzarella cheese; it helps "glue" down the ingredients.  Bake according to package directions.  My family really like this pizza!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Leaders or Dictators?

     Orchestra conductor........just the title was intimidating when I was younger!  He was the tempermental ruler, and the one to obey.  Follow him and don't "make waves"--especially by making a mistake.  If you goof, hope he does not see or hear you.  He might throw something or give your section a verbal lashing. You might have to play a solo to reveal whether or not you practiced your part (now I ask--how could you play a practiced part well in those circumstances?!).  Remember...you are only a lowly string player among many!
     There are definite problems with this.  It is difficult to play confidently when one is scared of making a mistake. It is difficult to play well when you are afraid of being singled out by the conductor for making a mistake (it has happened).  The resulting self-consciousness leads to wondering if others are making mistakes, and if you perceive none your confidence is eroded more (even though it is ludicrous to think you could possibly hear everyone!!).  And how can you possibly be really involved in the music with all of this in your head?!
     Conductors who breed this kind of attitude are part of the problem.  I call them "dictator" conductors.  Until my mid-twenties I did not know there was any other kind!  I often felt that I was walking a tight-rope during rehearsals......even if I was well-prepared.
     The end to the tyrants came with a conductor change in an orchestra I played in many years ago.  The new man rarely seemed frustrated, and he was never angry.  He never picked on individuals in front of the group. He was always nice--pleasant!!  I remember one time he was very unhappy with the orchestra.  He just seemed VERY frustrated--and it was not directed at us in a personal way.  He was SO patient!
     There was a change that began to take place in me.  First I began to relax.  I was less afraid to make a mistake; I knew everything would be OK if I did.  I soon began to feel liberated--like I had been released from jail!!  It was wonderful.  At the same time I saw how my progress as an orchestral musician had been held back because of previous experiences......but I was on the mend!
     Since this experience I have never encountered conductors like the early ones.  All have been more self-controlled and patient.  I appreciate this kind of leadership so much!!  I believe string players need calm, supportive conductors.  Playing our instruments is a balancing act, both physically and emotionally.  Abusive behavior only weakens an orchestra and that weakens the music........which is what it is all about!

Fishy

     Gill--that is, Blue Gill, was an unwanted visitor at my aunts' lake cottage.  My two aunts hated fish.  Occasionally a fisherman friend would drop off a few blue gills to fry.  My aunts would graciously accept them and promptly put them to rest in the freezer.  My guess is that they eventually became either completely freezer burned while hidden or met their demise in a trash can at the end of summer.  No fish for them.......EVER!!
     My aunts were the two unmarried schoolteachers of my first father.  While growing up I heard a few stories about their childhood experiences on Lake Wawasee. The best was a prank (one of many) pulled on my aunts by my dad and his brother.  One of my aunts hated snakes and the boys decided to terrorize her by hiding slimy, wet iris leaves under her bed sheets.  Upon their discovery she screamed and howled.  Hmmmm.....fish are cold and slimy, too.  A possible connection?!
     Many years later, following the deaths of my dad and grandfather, my aunts and their mother bought a cottage at Lake Gage.  My sister and I spent time there almost every summer. The three women had many talents that were put to use fixing the place up.  They planned, shopped, sewed and painted every summer for quite a few years, I think. One summer my younger aunt laid a patio.  Another summer the lower bath was updated.  Another year they fought squirrels on and under the roof, and at some point they had a deck built which overlooked the lake. Our vacations there usually began with a tour and discussion of changes both past and future. 
     The lake was my favorite place to go.  There is much to tell, and there will be more tales to come. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bonds

 
     My sister and I have almost polar opposite personalities.  When I think of us growing up I remember lots of fights.  The photo does not reveal everything!!  We just clashed and butted heads, so to speak.  As we grew older we went different directions in life and saw less of each other, often only at Christmas due to travel and schedule differences.  
     My mother would tell us that she hoped we would be close because she and her sister were not.  I remember hearing this from early childhood!  It never made much sense to me.........how was I supposed to do this?  We were so different and so far apart.
      Our lives began to converge when we raised our families.  My sister and her husband  married in their early twenties but waited ten years to start their family (two boys).  About that time I married and within 1 1/2 years had my first of three boys.  After very different lives we began our  families within a couple years.  We still saw little of each other and did not communicate much, being hours apart and busy with children.
     Things began to change again around  the infamous date of 9-11.  Our dad was slowly dying from a lung condition; he passed away on Sept. 10, 2001. From that date my mother became a mutual concern, this being her second time widowed.  
     In 2003 Mother was hospitalized for weeks due to post-surgery complications and our lives converged again. My sister made many trips to be with her because she was closer distance-wise, but I went a few times.  Occasionally we were both there.  My mother was incoherent due to her illness and we had to keep close tabs on what was happening medically and care-wise.  We had to make decisions and prepare for the worst.  My mother recovered better than expected, but it was a long process.
     During this time I discovered that we made a good team.  It seemed that our very different personalities were complements!  What one of us had trouble doing the other could do.  What one did not want to deal with the other could handle. 
     One of my sons was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease in 2004 and not long after that my sister was diagnosed with cancer....a second experience with it. She was nearing her five year mark of recovering from breast cancer.  This time it was a different kind, but it had been caught early.  Another convergence of our lives through adversity.  Everyone recovered........in retrospect I believe these experiences helped us grow and mellow.
     My mother passed away two years ago this month from pneumonia, among other problems.  Our lives converged at that time for a week as we planned her funeral together and cleaned out her assisted living apartment.  Once again we were a good team, covering about all the bases between the two of us.  
     Cleaning her apartment was kind of  fun!  I suppose that might sound inappropriate, but Mother's death was not a tragedy.  She had suffered a great deal since my dad died--both physically and emotionally.  Although hard for us, I was glad that my mother was finally released from her struggles.  She had been a rather private person and not one to let anyone go through her things, and I had never felt comfortable doing that without her permission. There was something liberating in being able to freely sort through  them, and  we learned more about our mother in the process.
     The best part was cleaning out her jewelry.  She had a large collection which she kept in a cabinet of several drawers.  We went through each one, dividing pieces up between us and setting some aside in piles designated for others.  There were mysteries.......some old pieces that seemed to have sentimental value but no notes or labels.  We oooed and ahhed, laughed from fatigue, shared memories and had fun guessing who would like what.  The finale was a gift of inexpensive costume jewelry to two young granddaughters of my mother's best friend.  It was fun watching them examine the pieces and wear them.  The girls loved it, and my sister and I agreed that my mother would have enjoyed it, too.
     It is fascinating to me that after all these years we are finally closer, and in part because of our differences.  In working together cooperatively for a concern outside of ourselves we have grown closer. We have gained appreciation for our respective strengths.  It is wonderful to have a sister....I love her!
    
    

Monday, September 7, 2009

Light Musings II




This morning the light was just right for these pictures...and I even had my camera! It was a treat to try to capture what I saw...........it was really beautiful.
The first photo is the chalice tree mentioned in Light Musings. It is a hackberry.....I like the shape of the branches as they ascend.
I find it interesting that light rays are visible in particular circumstances. I do not know the scientific reasons for this......but I have been pondering the possible spiritual significance of this. We usually do not "see" light........it is everywhere and is often perceived by its absence (ex. i.e. shadows). If "veiled" we can look directly at the source without harm to our eyes. We can see reflections of light, too.
We can feel light. Leaving the shade of a tree on a hot summer day, for example. How about a bad sunburn.........a burning imprint of the reality of light! Our bodies can only benefit from light under certain conditions!
I find that spiritual light is comprehended under certain conditions. First we need to seek it..........be aware of its existence and try to find it. Certain conditions make this easier, and sometimes they are absolutely necessary. Learn about the source of light....God. Seek for it with prayer and study, preferably the Holy Scriptures. Live a life worthy of receiving the Spirit. Learn about right and wrong and live it; seek the Light of Christ on his terms, not yours. My experience and learning have shown me that these work.
Well, enough. I have more to think about..............later!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Parkway Flowers




Guess I am on a roll..........some more photos from walks on the parkway in the past couple of weeks.

Bees


Another shot while walking on the parkway....... I really like thistle flowers (maybe my Scottish heritage??). This shot is for bee lovers.

September Roses



Just some pics of my roses......... I wanted to "save" the last of them. In the photos there is no reminder of the infamous Japanese Beetles that have damaged them. UGH UGH.

Morning Mist


September mornings are here............cool temps and mist. So pretty! Below is a photo I took yesterday.........the pond near our home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Light Musings

While on my parkway walk this morning I had a "Kodak" moment but no camera! Coming up on my right was a wooded road, and as I looked that direction I could see the sun rising. As I approached a favorite tree at the intersection I saw a large beam of sunlight streaming near it. Then I saw another similar beam nearby. I backed up and positioned myself so that the tree, a hackberry whose branches ascend in the shape of a chalice, was centered between the two beams. It was really cool.........and no camera!!
The sunlight triggered a recent memory of watching part of the movie Ghosts. If you have not seen it, near the end is a scene where the main character finally "goes to the light" after completing unfinished business. I have read and heard much about the experience of tunneling to light following death. This morning I pondered the idea of not going to the light, but riding it. Interesting idea..........surfers ride waves and Harry Potter rides a broomstick........I suppose we can "ride" emotions at times. What does it mean to "ride the light"? To me it is connected to becoming Christlike and literally being pulled to the light as light attracts light. Maybe it is riding the light........what a ride that would be!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vocal Percussion

Several years ago Fort Wayne Philharmonic performed Bolero by Ravel. My memory of that performance is of another very embarrassing moment. A very long moment, as I recall.
Bolero opens with lengthy woodwind solos accompanied in part by soft pizzicato in the strings, including the violas. The piece is virtually one very long crescendo, and it is quite a while before it even begins. Time seems to drag on forever in the strings because the pizzicato notes are very repetitive.
The viola section was placed directly across from the first violins, where the cellists usually sit. I was sitting third chair, which meant that I was near the front of the section and on the outside, near the edge of the stage (no, I did NOT fall off!). The audience could see me quite well. As the piece slowly advanced I began to feel a tickle in my throat--one of those tickles that means an approaching coughing fit. You know.....a light cough that crescendos into spasms, choking and a purple face.....the kind that gets you politely kicked out of a concert.........of which I was a part at that moment! I had no cough drops (never go on stage without these!!!!!!). How to control this, I thought. About the only option at the moment was prayer...........
I tried SO HARD to stifle the coughing!! I probably was getting quite red in the process and surely annoying the audience. I was absolutely mortified. There was no hope of a loud moment in which to get one really good, loud cough out. And no place to hide. What I would have given for that!! Instead .........things got worse. The woman behind me caught my cough and we alternately punctuated the accompaniment with our "lovely" squawks. It was just AWFUL.
The music eventually got loud enough for some strong coughing and the tickle disappeared. Now I ask.......what was I supposed to do?! I have wondered since then what someone on the edge of the stage should do. Whatever it is must require lots of courage because EVERYONE will see you get up and leave. And do you dare come back?? I have never asked someone what the proper protocol is, probably because I have not wanted to remember the incident. I suppose it would have been better to just leave......one short, big distraction rather than several annoying small ones! In any case, I was virtually frozen in cement from embarrassment. There was no way I would have moved!!
I lived through the experience and kept my job.........PHEW! Maybe someday someone will discover a cure for these annoying coughs.....in the mean time ALWAYS CARRY COUGH DROPS.

Wait.........one more thing.......my sister just e-mailed me about a YouTube video that complements this blog entry.........."The Coughing Polka" (Igudesman +) Yes.......Yes......

After the Coughing Polka, be sure to watch something even better....The Cyber Conductor. VERY funny!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Best Gift

My father died when I was seven years old. He was born with a heart defect; my mother referred to it as his "funny heart". In 1956 my parents traveled to Boston so the funny heart could be fixed, and my dad became one of the first people to have open heart surgery.
A year later he died suddenly from a heart attack. The following morning my mother called my sister and me into her bed and told us that daddy had "gone to heaven". Sometime later we were sent off to stay with extended family while she dealt with the aftermath.
My mother continued our relationship with my dad's family, even after she remarried to another fine man. My grandmother and two aunts (my dad's sisters) loved us and occasionally shared stories about my father. The aunts, unmarried schoolteachers, had time to spend with us during vacations and shared themselves and many art and music skills.
During my teen years I remember wondering where my father was. I was raised an active member of the local Methodist church and I believed in God, heaven and hell, and right and wrong. I assumed my father must be in heaven because he had not been bad enough to be in hell, but had he really been good enough to go to heaven? I did not have strong answers.
In my early teen years I began praying at night because I was so unhappy. Teenage growing pains, I guess. You know.........I like so and so but he does not know I exist, and what is wrong with me, and nobody likes me, and so forth. I was also still adjusting to family changes from my mother's remarriage. Seems funny now, but I was quite miserable at times. The prayers continued for about two years because I did not know where else to get help.
Early in my freshman yea, at age fourteen, I had what I term a "spiritual wake-up" during my Sunday School class. I only remember a few things. My mother's best friend was teaching, and she was what I call a spiritual seeker. She studied the Bible and tried to be a good person. She was trustworthy. That day she taught something about the belief that each of us is beautiful in God's eyes. Something about beauty and God, I believe. I felt a feeling come over me I had never felt before, and I knew it was the Spirit. I do not know how I knew this---I just did. I immediately knew that God was real, and I was happy. It was the most wonderful feeling! When I got home I cleaned my room because I wanted to, which was not like me at all. I was nice to my sister because I felt like it....another first! The Spirit changed me. I knew that there was such a thing as a spiritual level. I told my mother about my experience and she did not understand, but she said that my father had felt this way.
I could not keep the feeling with me. During that year and the rest of high school I only felt it a few times. When I did it gave me comfort. I could also think more clearly. I remember feeling the Spirit once when I was doing math homework; it went much better than usual and I did not make careless mistakes.
My first two years of college were spent at Stephens College, a girls' school in Columbia, Missouri. At the beginning of my freshman year I attended a nearby Methodist church. The church was very large and I had trouble breaking in socially. I felt very uncomfortable and soon stopped going.
At the beginning of my sophomore year I decided that I had to make more friends. This was very difficult for me and I turned for help in a book that my mother had given me. It was religious in nature so God was still in my life to some degree. I had changed my major from music to science, and there were two science majors across the hall from my dorm room. I forced myself to visit them and began a friendship with Heather, who was in my Geology class.
As the year progressed I forgot about spiritual things and wandered from where I had been. After some worldly experiences in January I began to ponder atheism, God, and popular opinions of the time. One day in February or late January, while listening to the radio, I had another spiritual experience. I felt the Spirit come over me again. The phrase "pricked in the heart" describes it well. I immediately remembered my knowledge of God; it was refreshed. I also knew that what I had been thinking and doing the past few weeks was wrong and that I wanted to change and not be like that anymore. The only definite commitment I remember is that I decided never to drink (alcohol) again because it was stupid.........just dumb and wrong. Not for me!!
Not long after that Heather asked me if I wanted to join her during a discussion with Mormon missionaries. I asked her about the Mormons and what they believed and I said no. I found some of the teachings offensive, such as the idea that the Mormon church is the only "true church". I did not believe any church had more truth than all the others. Two or three weeks later Heather asked me again. This was her last discussion, she said. She did not want to join the Mormons, but the missionaries were so nice that she had continued to meet with them. Maybe I would be interested? OK, I said. And so I went...........her last discussion and my first.
Here were answers to my queries. For example, this church believed in giving members the gift of the Holy Ghost, which meant that I could have that Spirit with me more. I also learned about the belief in three general "levels" of heaven. This really caught my attention; I remembered my question about my dad and felt good about what I was learning. It felt right. I also learned that all of us are children of God and lived with Him before we were born. As I contemplated that teaching I felt liberated, something I can not explain. I prayed, read and worried about the Book of Mormon..........it was either really good or really bad. If the book was written under inspiration, then the claims about Joseph Smith were true and I would have to be baptized a member. If this church was the "true church", meaning the original church of Jesus Christ restored, I wanted it. Who wouldn't want the best?
In short, I decided to join after two weeks of discussions. When I had visited Stephens a couple years earlier I had a spiritual impression that something of religious significance to me would happen while I was there. I believed this was it.
My best gift is membership in this church. I received the gift of the Holy Ghost and I have had that Spirit in my life much more than before my baptism. It has also witnessed to me that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is the true church it claims to be. The knowledge and experiences I have had from the Holy Ghost have given me the strength to keep my commitments to live the standards of the church. I can not explain this; I just know it works.
In retrospect I believe that the early death of my father.... and both grandfathers and a favorite uncle....have brought blessings into my life. I have had spiritual questions I might not otherwise have had. I have had incentives to search for answers. I have a strong desire to see these people again and I am seeking them out through doing family history. I have had many enriching experiences that the "world" can not give.
Part of faith is moving forward. I am working on this, although it is hard for me at times! Early in my life I lost almost all my close male adult family members. Now I am surrounded .........a husband and three sons .....four to "replace" four.......and their friends......and a male dog......Hey.........where are the women??!!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Abandoned

Several years ago a guest soloist rehearsed the Brahms violin concerto with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. She was a young Asian woman whose name I can not remember. All went well until the night of the concert.
The concerto has a long opening played by the orchestra alone. The soloist stands and waits for his/her entrance. While playing this many of us in the orchestra began to see unusual movement in the audience. People were getting up and LEAVING before the soloist had played anything! I noticed what looked like policemen or security people in the aisles. One by one we stopped playing and the conductor, having his back to the audience, just watched us drop out as he continued to lead the music (wonder what he was thinking?!). Soon he and all of us had stopped and we watched everyone finish filing out at the direction of the police. A rumor began circulating...a BOMB scare! Needless to say, I thought my life would soon be over. We and our instruments would be scattered everywhere! And the poor soloist who watched everything and never played a note!
It was not a bomb scare but an electrical fire in the basement, I believe. Such a relief--and such a bizarre concert. That poor soloist!! I suppose it was a "once in a lifetime" experience for all of us!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Magic of Horses




     While walking our dog earlier this summer I was passed by two female joggers. One of them had a long, blond ponytail that was bouncing and swinging. I was reminded of my long ponytail as a child, my horse tail. I was one of those girls who was horse-crazy, complete with a china horse collection and callouses on my knees. I spent my play time whinnying and crawling around; I even had a stall under the dining room table. I begged and bossed my sister into being my owner and feeding me there.
At school I belonged to a wild horse gang. My girlfriends and I would gallop around the playground at recess and try to avoid getting caught by certain boys.
     I loved beautiful horses. I poured over my horse book,  especially the Lippizan stallions. Horse books, shows and movies such as Black Beauty and My Friend Flicka fueled my imagination.  I was also a fan of the Lone Ranger's Silver and Zorro's black stallion.
     Being a cowgirl was the next best thing to being a horse. I remember sitting on the floor or my rocking horse and watching cowboy shows with my cowboy hat on. A special treat was watching Annie Oakley Saturday evening after baths and hair-washing. When I was a bit older my interest turned more to people such as Zorro, who was both handsome and exciting. My sister and I had fun pretending to sword fight and making Z's. Then I became obsessed Lady Marion, Robin Hood's woman. She was my favorite person to pretend to be.

     My mother tried various things to break me of my horse obsession. Once she put my supper on the kitchen floor so I had to eat like a horse, thinking that losing the opportunity to eat with everyone else at the table might get my attention. It backfired.  I've been told I liked it! She also bought me a beautiful baby doll and carriage which I promptly converted to a stroller for my big black stuffed horse. She was very disappointed.
     In fourth grade I met a girl who could draw great pictures of horses. I'd been drawing horses since I was very young, but not well. I began drawing them better with her help. I found out she took riding lessons and my parents consented to letting me have them, too. The first year I learned western style and after that English, my real desire.
     As much as I loved horses one would think I would really take to riding. I rode beautiful half or full Arabians and enjoyed them, but I was a daydreamer on the back of a horse. A horse must know that you are in charge and that was not my strength. There were a few times that while I was off someplace else mentally, the horse decided to take me out of the riding ring and dump me. Always successfully! I was never a really good rider. I wish I had exercised more courage and discipline because I really wanted to jump horses. To this day I can feel how to do it.  Oh well--such is life!!
     After reflecting on my childhood obsession I had an aha moment about one of my sons. I recognized his behavior as similar to mine. I suppose I'd never really noticed a connection to me because it was not about horses. This boy was Zorro for almost two years. He watched one Disney Zorro episode on cable and was hooked. Every day he dressed in black; you know, the black clothes, mask, hat and play sword. He drew and drew and drew pictures, all Zorro. Years later I found a few Z's carved during time-outs and strategically placed where they would not be easily found, such as on a ceiling! I remember taking a vacation with extended family and losing him during the confusion of checking into our resort room. He just slipped out and disappeared. A parent's nightmare--but he was easy to spot. How many other children would be running loose in Zorro clothes?!
     My horse obsession passed and my son lost interest in Zorro, but it was fun while it lasted.  I appreciate a beautiful horse and my son is the biggest superhero fan of all my kids. Perhaps one of them will have a daughter someday who will be a horse fanatic.  I think that is called "the mother's curse"--HA HA!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Frolicsome Frogs

Several years ago, in another time and place, I was part of a chamber orchestra that performed Handel's oratorio Israel in Egypt. The only part I recall is music depicting the plagues which preceded the expulsion of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. I have a vague memory of lice and/or flies in the viola part...........
We had a guest conductor and soloist. I do not remember the chorus, although it must have been there. The conductor seemed intellectual and stodgy, and the soloist was a countertenor. The latter was a short, sandy-haired man whose singing was expressionless. This was my first experience hearing a countertenor and I did not know much about them. I remember wondering if his lack of emotion was due to the unnaturalness of the voice (I have since heard countertenors who emote!).
The musical descriptions of the plagues were interesting and clever, but the drama of them was missing. It seemed silly to me at times.....this music was supposed to describe something horrible!
My reaction reached its peak during the aria Their Land Brought Forth Frogs. There stood that little man with his little deadpan voice singing about a plague of yucky frogs!! To make matters worse, there was NO VIOLA PART. We just sat there. To my left was a little cello section playing music depicting frogs jumping and it sounded like they were playing in the local pond! With nothing to do, humorous mental images began creeping in.........like frogs playing hippity-hop in a puddle. Or a few frogs hopping out of cello "F" holes into the audience. Or into the singer's mouth. I wanted to at least giggle, but no----not even a hint of that could be allowed! I remember telling friends about the experience and howling with laughter. I had to have some release!! It was just too weird for me, although I have some appreciation of the style now.
I believe it was after this that I had my first thought of using my bow as an arrow. In fact, I imagined all the players shooting their bows. I will leave it to you to decide where they were going...........


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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.