Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Mystery Lily

Last year, this plant came up and grew tall like Jack's beanstalk. Eventually a lovely pale peach lily, just one, bloomed at the top. Within two days,m it was gone, snapped up by a voracious deer. It was just one of those passing  magic moments. I had no idea where it had come from. It was just there.
This year the stalk started growing again, only this time, it has borne a whole slew of the beauties. No deer has as yet chomped on it, and it has been in bloom for over a week. It has a delicate, sweet scent and glows softly in the early evening.

I have written of my mysteriously disappearing underpants, but thtis is something that has appeared out of the blue. Could the underpants thief have guiltily decided that he/she owes me something and planted the lily in passing? I don't know, but I certainly am enjoying the sight and scent of it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Night of Shining Armor

Last year, in a spate of gratitude for (or guilt) those wonderful chamber music concerts  during the Blossom-Kent Summer program, I made a small contribution to the program. So about a month ago I received an invitation to an evening piano recital at one of those homes with a name, somewhere in the wilds of Trumbull County. I checked with my friend Ann who knows about this sort of thing and she said that it would probably be a fund raiser the the School of Music and that she knew nothing about this place or the host, but did know the name of the featured pianist, a recent graduate of the School of Music. Since the venue was rather out of the way, a small bus had been obtained to get a group of directionally challenged music lovers there in one piece and on time.
The invitation had mentioned "refreshments" and a coffee bar, so I didn't bother to eat before hand, expecting lavish hors d'ouvres one would expect at a house with a name. Down a winding driveway, we arrived at a rather large parking lot and proceeded to the recital site. First thing was a Phillip Johnson-esque pool house, without a pool in it, overlooking a grand stone patio with seats for several hundred, that over looking a pond, that being overlooked by - a WHITE grand piano! I expected Fred and Ginger to come dancing out of the shrubbery. Or at least a white peacock or two. There was a large, covered  bar, where wine and soft drinks were being dispensed by a couple of cheery young women, shockingly NOT in uniform, the sort that should have had the name of the house embroidered thereon. Well, a busy host can't be expected to cover every freaking little detail.
Said host is a gastro- enterologist and there is obviously a LOT of money in gutwotk. A wandering musician pointed out the host. The doctor was wearing a suit, the likes of which has not been seen since the demise of the Rat Pack. It glowed. Pale blue, pale greenish stripes with a hint of coral.  It shone. It dazzled. It blazed into the late summer afternoon murk like unto a Sicilian donkey cart. It could not be missed. You coulda read the Sunday NYTimes by it. I never got closer than 15 feet, but that suit was burned into the very synapses of my brain. I can't tell you how old this dude is because the glow obscured his face. And he was wearing a bright red tie.
After an hour of chatting and thinking that any  minute a phalanx of Nubian slaves would arrive bearing figs and pomegranates, it became apparent that "refreshments" meant inhaling liquids available at the bar, where our bus driver had stationed himself while imbibing quantities of wine. I wouldn't have bee too upset by the lack of noshery, except that on the bus we had been told there would be stuff before the recital and dessert and coffee afterwards. That seemed official to me, but was not to be. We immediately faulted the host, of course. It was his place where we were stuck foodless.
At any rate, it was time for the recital and the host introduced the pianist and praised the School of Music for training him. The host loves Ravel and had been bowled over by the pianist's rendition of a Ravel Piano Concert lat year at the university.  So there was music, accompanied by a few growling stomachs. The white piano had suffered a bit from its exposure to the damp air, but it was a very pleasant concert, including another music school graduate, a violinist.
Afterwards there was a not too subtle hint about supporting the School of Music, which is certainly a worthy cause. I fear it fell on empty stomachs, alas. The hope was that the host had invited other wealthy locals who would cough up some dinero and pledge to support the program. Food would have helped.
Then the host thanked everyone who had helped him put the evening more or less together - his office staff, his office manager and her daughters, his gardener, his landscaper and, in passing, mentioned that he has an art advisor, who was probably glad that no names were mentioned. He also announced that he had some big fund-raisers coming up at one of which the big draw would be one of the professional dancers from - wait for it - "Dancing With the Stars," Yay!
Now I know it's easy to make fun of tasteless rich people, so I  must say that I think this shiny man was sincere in his desire to honor this young musician and provide him with a lovely venue for the recital, along with an apperciative audience. I feel like a bit of a snob for being so critical. He needed a party planner and a suit advisor, but I am sure that the pianist and his family were thrilled by the evening, as they should be. I think the host wants to use his money for good as a responsible community member. I'm not sure that he's the one who dropped the ball, food-wise, and it certainly was an evening to remember.
Ann and I hitched a ride home via friends, not being sure the bus driver was entirely road ready.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lovely Music

One of  my favorite NPR programs is "From the Top." which celebrates young musicians from all over the country, kids from 10 or so through the teens. It features singers, instrumentalists of all types and classical and jazz expertise. (I fully expect my great nephew Drew to be on it some day. After two years as a cellist, he can rip off a Bach piece with ease. He's in the Columbus Youth Symphony and quite dedicated.)
This past Saturday, the program was broadcast from Indiana, and featured, among other things, a performance by Mikael Feinstein, who has just been names director of the American Songbook Collection in Indiana. I am going to attempt to send it along with this blog, because it is just such a beautiful rendition of a Gershwin tune.
Many years ago, Alec Wilder had a program on NPR, called the American Popular Song. He featured all the excellent American  songwriters: Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rogers and Hart, Rogers and Hanmnmerstein, Julie Styne, Withing, Frank Loessor, et. al. He had the fine singers to perform those songs, too, like Mel Torme, Margaret Whiting, Tony Bennett (when he could still sing) and a lot of New York cabaret and jazz singers. It was such a fine program. I think he (Alec Wilder, a composer himself)  was responsible for creating the whole idea of honoring our songwriters as legitimate musicians, on a par with the lieder composers of the 19th century.
Michael Feinstein has carried on that tradition himself. He started out as an assistant to Ira Gershwin, annotating and cataloguing the great music of the Gershwin bothers. I guess it might have been possible that without these kinds of efforts, some of this music could have been lost, delegated to "Tin Pan Alley" hack work, instead of a valuable part of American culture.
My friend Helen Welch, an excellent singer, has made these works a vital part of her repertoire and has developed quite a following ,  singing with various symphony orchestras in Ohio , New York and Pennsylvania.
It's mighty good stuff. And Feinstein's version of "Love Walked In" is really beautiful. He's accompanied by a teenage string quartet, harpist in a superb arrangement.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wheezing Geezer

About thirty years ago,  I developed asthma. I was a smoker, as were most of my generation. At the time, I also had three cats. Well, the cats and the cigarettes had to go.  It took a while to get things under control, including a month at the National Jewish Hospital out in Denver, a month after which I was told, "You have asthma." After a few visits to the emergency room and new medications I managed to get it under control and breathing normally until I almost forgot about it. John brought the teeny Dupree home from a camping trip and he's never bothered me, although I did avoid getting too close for a few years.
Well suddenly over the last few weeks I started wheezing and last Friday night it was back to the emergency room, after years of avoiding it. They treated it and I went home, only to have to return on Saturday night and having to be admitted. Breathing is so fundamental that when you can't, it can be scary. I was there Sunday and most of  Monday, mainly because my doctor only makes his rounds after 10:30 p.m.
Since John is down in Athens, Ohio, working, Sally had to bear the brunt of hauling me back and forth to the ER. She also discovered that my living room rug, which I had just vacuumed with my super duper new Kenmore vacuum cleaner was a hotbed of Dupree's undercoat, which she diligently scraped up by hand. Apparently it was too fine for the VC. I had been using a floor fan set on the rug, aimed at my chair for weeks. So, who knows if that's what did it. I only know that I haven't had a problem with Dupree in 17 years, so I don't think that's it. Thanks to Sally's hard work, it is now fine fur free - At least for a while.
Before John left, he installed a nice AC unit in the living room, which cools off the entire downstairs, so I don't need the fan any more. Cynthia came over last night and groomed the hell out of Dupree, so he should shed less. I am full of steroids, so nobody had better mess with me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Midnight in Paris

If you love to think about Paris in the 20s when all those  ex-pat American literary greats, artists and musicians were living ands working there, you will like the latest Woody Allen movie. It is completely charming. Even though he has stereotyped the characters (Hemingway is a complete blowhard, speaking in the style he wrote, purposely funny), it is just such a fine fantasy that you wish you'd been there, too. His character even gives Luis Bunuel an idea for the movie that later made him famous. Man Ray talks about photographing a woman in the way he eventually did. Clever stuff.

Nice  to see that the Woody Allen character is played by a younger actor,  wearing the usual tweed jacket), so that you're spared the usual sight of 75 year old Allen with a 20 something woman' The soundtrack - Django Reinhardt, Sidney Bechet, Cole Porter - is just great. Woody Allen always has great soundtracks, like all that Gershwin in "Manhattan," a very uncomfortable movie about his infatuation for a high school girl - ugh! But  great soundtrack. He also has the best cinematographers and Paris looks wonderful in this new movie. I've never been there, but it looks the way you think is. Oh, and Kathy Bates plays Gertrude Stein, but looks too much like Kathy Bates to be believable.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dumber Than Dirt

Wouldn't you hope that a person in a public position would have at least half a brain? Seriously. Why is it that these bozos do not understand cyberspace or the prevalence of the kind of technology that is gong to bite you in the butt if you do something stupid, really stupid? And why would anyone assume that a picture of his crotch is appealing? (Freud was wrong. It's not women who have penis envy; it's men, who can't wait to get into "mine's bigger than yours" competitions.)

This New York Wiener dude has got to have an IQ in the single digits if he thought he could get away with such juvenalia on the Internet. Some people are saying that sexual exploits should not be that cuase of ousting a politician from his job, but stupidity definitely should be.The sexual stuff is just pathetic but lack of good sense  demonstrates  the kind of fatal flaw of leadership. Yeah, I know, Bill Clinton was a total jerk, too, and I still  don't understand how he could have been so stupid and arrogant.

Who knows how many of these idiots are running our government when they're not flashing their privates all over the Internet. I have no doubt there's a mad rush to cancel social media accounts as I write this --but once it's in there, it's in there, and somebody's gonna find it. Who's next?

Friday, June 3, 2011


Finally we have had three or four absolutely perfect June days, the kind you dream about in February in Ohio. 70 degrees, low humidity and no rain. Last weekend was very hot and humid and non-rainy, too, so John had a chance to paint his handiwork. Now a sparkling white lattice work graces the front entrance. John the historical restoration mason is now a restoration carpenter, but only around the house. His heart is still in stone and lime mortar.
And although this house is 60 yeas old, it doesn't qualify as any sort of historic property, other than being the sort that was built after WWII as a starter house foe young post-war families, which I guess is kinda, sorta historical.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I don't know if it a factor of aging, but I do seem to drop a lot of things" coffee beans, keys, pills, change. I almost never drop breakable things fortunately. What i am noticing in this dropping syndrome, is that these things have this trajectory thing going on. I can drop something straight  down, like a lead balloon straight-downess, but somehow the dropped item seems do have a life of its own. I never can find anything by looking straight down. You can have clues, like the ping on a hard surface or the fwump on a soft surface, but if there's a scrritch of a rolling object all is lost. Almost everything manages to roll, even square things, at least in my experience. Or maybe they hop.
Has it always been thus? Maybe the earth is turning too fast, thus throwing off all logic  in the retrieval of fallen things by quickly spinning and carrying objects along to a new place. I drop a pill in the bathroom, f'rinstance, straight down. However, it is finally discovered in a far corner, one that I haven't dusted lately unless I've had company recently. I drop a coffee bean in the kitchen and find it in the hall. I drop a bracelet right next to my dresser and it ends up under my bed across the room.
Once when I was visiting my sister in Corning, N,Y. and we were walking down town, she met an acquaintance, chatted briefly and when we moved on she told me he was a blood splatter expert who had testified in the O.J. Simpson murder case. A blood splatter expert! A specialty for the high tech age. So I an wondering if out there  we might find a fallen object expert who could tell where that object might fall, as surely there is some sort of trajectory pattern not unlike the pattern of blood splatter. I mean, there's gotta be some sort of physics involved here, like Newton's Law. I know that somewhere there is a nerdy doctoral student working on a dissertation about this, perhaps a scatter theory. I'd be happy to be in the experimental group.