Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I haven't bragged very much lately!

. . . so I will share with you Jaci's post of Boston's birthday. He turned 8 on August 17, and is the absolute Holder of My Heart.

Will you look at that Ridley? She is six going on nineteen, and has the body and legs of a ballerina. People have always commented on my long legs, but this child is astonishing. If she is this beautiful, this gracious, this generous of spirit at six, I can't even imagine what she'll be like at sixteen or twenty-six. We will banish all cynicism, and expect her to be just as precious through her teenaged years as she is today.

Tyler and Jaci have done such a good job with these children. They are lucky little tykes.

(And their parents are lucky, too. They married eleven years ago last weekend. What a beautiful life—and family—they've created.)

Catching my breath

I apologize for my absence of late. Last week was Beethoven 9 Hell Week for the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. In the middle of all that activity, I caught Boston's cold, and have been suffering greatly. To top that off, my 82-year-old house has had an electrical crisis. The electrician was here for two hours this afternoon, and only got
two lights working again. There are eight more to figure out, and a switch that probably needs replacing. And my annual Broadway Weekend with PianoLady begins tomorrow night. Say it with me: "Breathe!"

There are numerous blog posts fomenting in my brain that just haven't found their way to pixels. I will make time for that next week, before we go into Brahms German Requiem Hell Week.

In the meantime, I'll give you some lovely words to read—not my words, but those of listeners to our magnificent Beethoven 9 of last weekend.


Review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Blog post by the President of the Cleveland Music School Settlement

Review at (This may not be a fixed target—if the page does not say Week of September 28, 2009, then that's what you want to search for.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lies and Emotions

I've just finished reading (listening to) "The Patron Saint of Liars", by Ann Patchett. I read "Bel Canto" when it first came out, and loved every word. I thought that was Ms. Patchett's first book, so was excited a couple of weeks ago to find several more of her works on Audible, including "Liars", which predated "Bel Canto".

The subject matter was hard for the Little Adoptee in me, on several fronts. I ached for Thomas, to not know his wife was pregnant when she ran off. I felt judgmental toward Rose, to have kept the baby when she clearly did not have the disposition nor inclination to devote any love or energy on this baby. I felt sad for Son, to have a wife in name only, a wife who couldn't be bothered to love him. I projected on Cecelia that she would feel not-good-enough for her mother, something I've felt my whole life.

I was horrified that Rose would have ignored Son's pleas to choose a name for the baby other than that of his former girlfriend. I worried about Son, unknowingly married to a woman who was already married. I felt sadness for Thomas, to never know he had a daughter, and I wondered about my birthfather—did he ever know; would he have cared had he known?

And yet, I realized there must have been something in Rose's past—I'm not sure what, as her past was pretty clearly defined in the book—that also made her feel not-good-enough. Why would she have left this man who loved her and why would she not have been able to love this baby, short of seriously judging her own abilities? It made me feel very introspective, looking at how I had walked out of a marriage when I felt I had nothing to give.

But most of all, I felt horrified for all the lies and secrets and silences. It was as if there was a herd of elephants in the room that no one would ever speak of.

There's a lot to be said for openness and honesty. The bottom line? It's so much simpler than deceit!

As I was googling the title of the book, I discovered it was made into a movie in the late 90s. It will be going in my Netflix queue.

What are you reading?

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Driving Queen

After my weekend trip to NC to attend my aunt's memorial service, I have lots of thoughts about death and dying and aging. I will parcel those out over the next week, but now I've got to hit the road again.

And how much driving did I do over the weekend? On Thursday, I left the office at 12:30, gassed up the car, drove through Wendy's for my Single-with-only-lettuce-and-tomato and unsweetened iced tea, and headed south. My brother and sister-in-law left their home in Tampa mid-afternoon, flew into Greenville-Spartanburg, and rented a car to drive up to Hendersonville. We arrived at Mother's apartment within two minutes of each other, a little after 9:30.

On Saturday night, we all gathered at my cousin's house after the memorial service for food and friendship. I left there at 7:40, gassed up the car, and got as far as Bristol, TN, before I couldn't keep my eyes open. The next morning I left the hotel at 7:15 and, after only one stop for gas and a quick pull-through the same Wendy's in Akron, arrived at my rehearsal location in Cleveland at ten minutes until 2:00. I was thankful for finding a fellow driver who had a radar detector. I tailed him for about 30 miles, making up enough time to not be late to rehearsal.

Why do I care so much about being on time to rehearsal? Because you cannot go to your seat once rehearsal has begun. And yesterday I was seated on the front row! Oh, and missing a rehearsal? Well, you have to sing for the conductor by yourself so he knows you're keeping up. This chorus is no cakewalk, People.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Readin', Ridin', and no 'Rithmetic

I'm off to Asheville, NC, this afternoon to attend and play the piano for my aunt's memorial service on Saturday afternoon. Okay, when in Rome, I'll do as the Romans do—"Sabbath afternoon". I'll return partway on Saturday night and the rest of the way on Sunday, in time to make a 2:00 p.m. chorus rehearsal in Cleveland.

I got book-happy on Audible last night, lest I get bored for a moment while driving. I have a very eclectic book list at the moment. See what interests you here:
  • Julie and Julia, Julie Powell

  • Loving Frank, Nancy Horan

  • The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett

  • Run, Ann Patchett

  • Ted Kennedy, Edward Klein

Left over, not yet read or not yet finished, from my last purchase are:
  • Alex Cross's Trial, James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

  • FREE: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson

  • Homer & Langley, E.L. Doctorow

And one more to reread when I'm bored with all else:
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

I've been reading the Patterson/DiLallo for several days, but parts of it are very hard to listen to. I hate and despise, loath and abhor cruelty, and to hear what man was capable of doing to man at an earlier time in our history is excruciatingly painful.

So this morning I paused "Alex Cross" and turned to "Loving Frank." Oh, how I love the artistry and engineering of Frank Lloyd Wright. I fantasize having the wealth to hire an architect to design a house inspired by the work of FLW. In almost one hour of listening this morning, I'm smitten with this book. I think I'm going to be sorry to turn into my mother's driveway tonight, as I won't want to stop listening. This book was recommended to me by a sorority sister and new friend I met in West Virginia last weekend. I saw her twice, and I think she mentioned the book to me three times, so I think she liked it as much as I do.

What would you read, given my list? Or what is on your nightstand that you can't stand to put down?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Big Fluffy Lump of Lovin'

Rudi came home from the Tucson Humane Society eight years ago yesterday. I've occasionally told the story of how I chose him: I walked into the "cat room" to see what they had. Most of the cats and kittens were sitting up on the shelves in their cages. Rudi, on the other hand, jumped down and walked right up to the door when he saw me walk in. He kept standing at the front, saying "Pet Me; Love Me; Take Me Home."

So I did.

He has been a wonderful cat, and I celebrate the day I got him.

Oh, his name? He's named for a character in my favorite opera, La Boheme. However, I thought the character's name was Rudolfo. Several years later Tyler told me it was really Rodolfo. Oh well, I'm not changin' his name to Rodi. He'll just have to continue answering to Rudi.

(Yes, he's overweight. When he again becomes the only cat in the house, I'll put him on a diet. But not a moment sooner!)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Old Friends, Like Comfort Food

I spent the weekend in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, with my friends Maureen and George. Maureen and I became friends when we worked together in the Tucson Alumnae Club of Pi Beta Phi. We are both writers—she much more so than I (she's published two very well-read books; I've published one that was obsolete six months after publication). We both love classical music and quilts and all things handcrafted. Besides those bonds, we are both former Washingtonians. There's a special bond, I believe, among all people who reside or have resided in that magical city. So we became friends and maintained our friendship after I left Tucson.

Maureen and George have a lovely home on top of a ridge looking down on a river, surrounded by trees and fabulous views. Being surrounded by all that beauty felt restorative to me. Maureen had a neighborhood pot luck on Sunday afternoon, which enabled me to meet lots of interesting people who are spending either their weekends or their lives in those mountains. Both food and conversation were fabulous at this party.

But the best aspect of the weekend was being with old friends. There's nothing like it! Maureen would lie on her new leather couch and read, I would sit on the couch opposite and bead or knit or read, and George would sit in his den and read or watch television. There was a sense of comfort, of all's-right-with-the-world. No one felt like he or she had to entertain or be entertained. After eighteen months of trying to make friends, of being on my best behavior at all times, I could totally relax and be comfortable with friends who had known me for almost ten years.

Aren't old friends the best comfort?!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Point System

When the recycling truck driver woke me at 4:00 this morning, I pondered the work practices of the organization that picks up our orange bins every other week.

It seemed this gentleman (and I use that term loosely) was making as much noise with his truck as was humanly (truckly?) possible. He was revving the engine, slamming on the brakes, yanking the lever that moves various clanky portions of the truck. I wanted to stand at the window and yell, "What are you thinking? People are sleeping in here!" Of course, he wouldn't have been able to hear me over all the noise he was making.

Do you think his job performance rating and potential for merit increases depends on how much noise he makes in the morning? Does he get 5 points if he wakes me at 4:00, 10 points if he wakes me at 3:30, and 155 points if he rouses me from a sound sleep at 3:00 a.m.?

Why in the name of every deity known to humankind must recycling pickup begin at 3:00 a.m.? (I think there was even one day earlier this year when he passed my house at 2:30. That hour is kinda still yesterday. Three a.m.? That's today and every respectable person should be asleep or, if awake, cuddling with the one they love.)

Is it a Bona Fide Occupation Qualification to be able to make excessive noise when driving a recycling truck? Or is the driver for my neighborhood just an angry human being? Maybe he simply thinks, "If I've gotta be up at this hour, by God, everyone's going to be up."

Whatever it is, I sincerely wish it would cease.