Day Eighteen, NaPoWriMo

Hey you don’t have complete control over what goes on in your head, especially late at night!

All the old stuff precariously stuck
in my head, there’s no telling when it may,
and it may, surface at the most
inopportune time, you know how that goes.
What was I saying? Oh yes, all the thoughts
the memories, the tales of things long past
they come back, and often do, unlooked for,
unasked and sometimes unwanted, they appear.
It is sweet to remember my grandma
the summer fireplace with my dad singing
warm days in a boat fishing on the lake
the whistling of wind with January snow
But here, an ancient song learned long ago,
comes back to ask sternly: who’s the fool now?
But having made me look up the lyrics
I’ve still no answer for that rousing line
So memory that’s butted in, who’s the fool now?

Advertisements

Altan – St. Patrick’s Eve

Last night Mom and I headed up to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall to enjoy the great music of Altan. They are a wonderful band and put on a good show and they had a very appreciative audience. I had downloaded their new album on the night it was released and enjoyed the live mix of new and old, with explanations as to where it had all come from. Also, that we could imagine what we wanted any of the gaelic language songs to be about, rather than the sad tragedies they usually memorialize.

Next up, Billy Collins reading in Manchester VT in April.

Gratitude in the Quiet Corners

I was super happy to be done with work Sunday night, and was pretty darn happy to be going to my local NaNoWriMo writers’ group. The group meets each week at a Denny’s, doing writing sprints, gabbing in between, asking for random brainstorming suggestions and eating.

Anyway I was glad to be there and I even managed to do some writing.

I had asked a poet friend if she’d throw an eyeball on something I’d written. It was a bunch different from my normal topic and although I liked it, I wasn’t sure what someone who wasn’t me would take away from it. She said yes and while I was sprinting away happily, in came the response. It was part reaction, part editing suggestion and it was GREAT! I will keep working on it and see what happens. Thanks alpha reader!

It had been a long week and I left earlier than the rest. I got in my car and turned on the radio and there it was: The Boston Symphony playing – yes! – Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. One of my favorites! And it was just an outstanding performance. Amazing. And it completely filled my ride home and a few minutes in my driveway. I didn’t hear the name of the conductor, only that he was 88. [at the time apparently. This looks to be an encore from the BSO’s 2015-16 season, led by Herbert Blomstedt.] Let me tell you – that was one of the fastest and most riotous 7ths on record. I believe this is the program I heard; the 7th starts around 1:12:00.

There was also a moment in the sprinting where I was trying to figure out where something would happen and I was looking at a series of photos that included this at Calanais, Outer Hebrides:

which I thought was pretty cool. Threw the link into the planning folder for future trips. Then I went back to writing. A few minutes later and I went to look up where a bit of story had happened and found it had included a trip to, yup, the stones at Calanais… Thank you past self!

A Generation – a musing

I was thinking about generations yesterday as most of the country observed Martin Luther King Jr Day.

My parents’ generation (and mine were on the younger side of it) – The greatest generation – born in the depression, fought and sacrificed in a world war. They buckled down at home, rationing, recycling, women working while men were off to war, building and gathering around a common cause. Were things perfect? Totally not so. There was much discrimination and inequality and when the men came back, women were sent back home or relegated to lower wage jobs.

My generation (and I’m really on the tail end of it on most scales) – The baby boomers, the kids of that generation. We grew up during the “korean conflict” and “vietnam”, neither popularly understood or supported war actions and the cold war which had us hiding under our school desks so we’d know what to do if someone dropped a bomb on us. (PS I am pretty sure the answer to that question is die, perhaps mercifully die.)

But here’s what I was really thinking about. I was pretty young when John Kennedy was assassinated. Such a clear moment even so, with all its somber ceremony and the unexpected killing of his accused murderer. Ruby died long afterward almost an afterthought. The young president, full of hope and vigor was not perfect by any means either but he was inspirational as a leader, even supported the arts. We remember his words today and his promise as a leader taken away too young.

His successor, Lyndon Johnson took on the social missions that Kennedy had set out and accomplished much while simultaneously getting mired in Vietnam. He and his wife underscored the beauty of our nation and pointed out that we needed to preserve and appreciate it.

Then Martin Luther King Jr was killed.

Then Robert Kennedy was killed.

I was older then, old enough that I was taken with the message of both men, too young to do much about it other than being inspired by the ideas. It was a blow to think that someone would remove such leaders from a world that so needed them.

Then Nixon. Seductive in his promise of ending Vietnam. Slimy in almost every other way. There was a summer of his VP being against the wall and leaving. Then it all began to crumble around him. It was scary and yet the process – the hearings, the news reporting, and ultimately his resignation and replacement – was all orderly and reassuring. The constitution holds because people want what’s right and this isn’t.

Like the assassination of Kennedy, everyone hoped we’d never go through anything like that again.

In the years since, government has really faltered. Too much lobby money, too much money behind elections, obviously no need for government experience to rise to a high office. Much political finger pointing, too little discussion or interest in seeing the needs of the nation. Can you imagine anyone saying right now – we should start a new space program. Or invent something that will really clean the air or oceans. We should develop non-polluting transportation and power…

I heard about a guy who wants to run for senate and he’s freaking 95. Come on – surely there’s someone younger available, and frankly I’d like to see some folks younger than me starting to come up. We need new ideas and energy and they need to start getting the experience.

We had a young fellow recently as president and he got shut down by the politicos at every turn. And the current administration would apparently like to erase all traces of its predecessor for no other reason than he was black and young and smart.

Anyway, I was wondering about the impact of losing those three leaders on our generation, with the dollop of September 11, 2001 on top. I think we are in need of new leaders to help us to action but in the meantime we only have us.

Happy Birthday J.R.R – and Happy New Year to Us All!

Happy Birthday J.R.R.!

…the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.

~~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, Book II, The Land of Shadow.

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be a Tolkien kid and have the shaper of Middle Earth read you a bedtime story? This Brain Pickings Tolkien post has two separate recordings of JRR reading aloud!

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas Everyone!

In a wonderful confluence of weird retail scheduling and Christmas I ended up with Christmas Eve, Christmas and December 26th off. This is probably the second (third at most) day-after I’ve not worked in the past sixteen years so I’ll not complain.

This morning I was lucky enough to catch the lessons and carols from Kings College Chapel on the radio which was just wonderful. I may not be in the religious mind but the music is incredible. What voices! That’s a fine tradition, up there with listening to Arlo do Alice’s Restaurant on Thanksgiving.

Had a lovely lasagna dinner with the family at Kate and Aaron’s house tonight and we’ll return there tomorrow morning for gifting. We enjoyed some lovely New Zealand wine – The Ned Pinot Noir – with our dinner and then tucked into desserts of bouche noel and a Jello-Raspberry-Sherbet recipe from Peg’s childhood.

We’re expecting snow tomorrow according to the weather guys so we shall see. Meanwhile, have a peaceful Christmas Eve and may the Jingle Bells Be With You!

Robert Siegel – All Things Considered

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to Terry Gross interview Robert Siegel, about to retire from years of hosting All Things Considered on NPR. Robert and I go way back, and many people can say the same I realize, but in 2015 I wrote about an experience I had with Mr. Siegel in 2003. I was on my way to my parents’ home on Christmas eve after working in the mall on Christmas Eve day. I was done and suddenly there was Robert Siegel talking about one of his favorite pieces of music, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, the second movement, Allegretto.

As I listened I began to cry and finally I had to pull over. I described that a couple years later in a blog post and it continues to be true that I re-listen to that segment from time to time. You can read about it and listen to it here.

I thought it was fabulous that he took time to write me. Maybe he doesn’t routinely make women weep.

So listen and then listen to him talking about what it’s like to think about doing something else after doing what you love for many many years. Thank you Robert Siegel and Terry Gross!

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/572263140/572628143