Monday, May 30, 2011

A Little Bit of Spring

I almost forgot. There was a brief rain-free day in the middle of May. My swamp iris burst into bloom, along with the forget-me-nots and lasted long enough for a few photos. My friend Cindy gave them to me a number of years ago and I really enjoy their color, such a lovely deep purple. They are smaller than regular iris. I probably should thin them because they are getting rather crowded. I saw a demo on thinning bulb plants a few years ago and it looks so brutal that I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. I need to do the same with my stella d'oros, too. I mean you have to take a sharp knife and just slash into the poor things and it's like separating Siamese - uh- conjoined twins or something.
At any rate, here they are in their brief glory and they and the lilacs suffuse my ssoul with shades of purple, mauve and lilac every spring, rain or no rain.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Perspective on the ##&^@@! Rain

I don't know where May has gone. I've had only one post at the beginning and here it is the 28th already. There was a disruption the second week of the month when Emily came for the Harper-Harper wedding in Columbus. That was a very fine thing, since it meant for me a reunion with my siblings, It was short, but delightful and the wedding was lovely. When we got back from Columbus there was also just a lot of hanging out - and shopping- with Emily. SO that accounted for pretty much the first half of the month.

The rest of the time it has been raining, raining and raining. My favor tie month awash, but very green for all that. I haven't got my garden in. I've only had a few rare days to hang out my laundry in that usual sweet spring air which I waited for all during the crummy winter we had. John hasn't had enough dry days to paint the lovely lattice work he construed for the front porch-ette. Life has bee sodden.

However: we have not had lethal tornadoes or deadly floods. When I saw the pictures of Joplin, Missouri, and the flooded rads and houses along the Mississippi, I decided that complaining about rain is really ridiculous. Of course, once I decided that, we had a night of terror, with tornado warnings, endless thunder and lightening and scary wind. My friend Ann had called to ask if I was planning to watch the final Oprah show and she was in the midst of getting a new TV installed and would I tape it and she could come over and we'd eat Chinese food and drink tea in honor of Oprah. I had not planned to watch this modern day Himmelfahrt, but Ann's such good company that I agreed. I DVRd it and Ann arrived bearing won ton soup and chicken broccoli and we settled down to receive Oprah's blessing and thank yous for being such wonderful fans from whom she had learned so much while teaching us how to live our lives to the fullest and all. I remembered why I had quit watching her show years ago, when she quit featuring transgendered dogs and cats and started turning into the Messiah. So we're eating and being blessed when the tornado sirens went off. Since we were watching a taped show, I thought I should check out the news and there was Kent right in the path of a tornado, with a breathless caller telling of swirling winds and flying roofs not 10 miles away. Ann, who's from Alaska where they don't have tornadoes, only bears wandering into your bathroom in the middle of the night, was getting nervous, so I paused the Ope and we descended to the basement, sitting on John.s buckets of lime...the mineral, not the fruit. I passed the time by telling her what the basement used to look like and how much time we had spent there during tornado warnings when the kids were little. The tornado warning went off finally, so we came back up and watched more self- aggrandizing crap until the power went off, before we got to see her cry. Ann left and I went to bed in the dark.

The power came on around 10:30, but then the lightning and thunder and wind started and kept up pretty much all night. There was a lot of damage scattered around the area, but nothing really serious, unless it was your personal roof that got holes poked in it.

But we were spared what so many people in the South and the Midwest have suffered. I can still complain about all the rain, but I don't feel good about it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Whole Lotta Music

This was another week-end of one musical performance after another, and a varied one, at that. It started off on Friday evening with the last "New Music" concert of the year at the university. Now I an the kind of music lover who likes to be able to whistle or hum what I hear after the concert. I was dragged to my first concert of this type last fall by a musician friend who told me that this program needs our support, especially with a university president who seems to be trying to make this place a vocational school. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. They played around with both instruments and notes in a way of exploring possibilities. At one point they turned out all the lights and the instrumentalists surround the audience, and it was a bit like being musically breathed on, only without the germs or halitosis. I think ya hadda be there. So I have gone to almost all of their concerts.

This last one was not quite so interesting, and there was an annoying Lucio Berio saxophone solo which grated on the ear and the nerves, but there was a percussion piece that was dynamite. One of my spelling group friends was there. She is my age, and she is studying composition with one of the students whose composition was featured. She said that a person can't just vegetate because of being old, and she's looking for new ways to express herself. She's a musician and has done some traditional composing, but is excited about moving beyond the traditional. I still prefer listening to traditional music, but these concerts are fun and stretch my mind as well as irritate my ear drums.

Saturday was "Il Trovatore," which I consider the "Music Man" of all operas. I mean there's not a dead moment in the entire piece. One glorious melody follows another: arias, duets, trios. The cast consisted of four of the best singers now performing. Of course, the plot is ridiculous and convoluted, involving infanticide, fratricide, suicide, gypsy curses, and the usual doomed lovers. And there was Dimitri Horotovsky who is a Russian hunk who played the bad guy, which is what baritones usually have to do, so that the tenor can get the girl and all; that is, if he lives long enough. It was just a stunning performance all around. I shall miss the last one, which is "Die Walkure," but I'm not much of a Wagner fan, unless Anna Russell is explaining it.

Saturday night I went to hear a symphony concert by a neighboring town which shall remain nameless. If you've ever heard the Portsmouth Sinfonia, you might get some idea of the level of professionalism. It's an all volunteer group with professionals mixed in. I went because a friend's son was doing Beethoven's Violin Concerto. He's a professional musician from Chicago, with impressive credentials and international performances. This summer he will be that concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera orchestra. The first half of the program I was wondering if he had known what he was getting into. I needn't have worried. He was wonderful, so good that I didn't even hear the damned orchestra. I think he inspired them to crank up their competence. I could even forget their tortured version of a selection from "The Fire bird Suite" from the first half of the program. I heard later, since this is a volunteer group of quondam players, that not everyone shows up for rehearsals and that the conductor has high hopes when the performance tine rolls around. But this violinist made the evening worthwhile. And the last movement of that concerto is one of my favorite pieces of music to whistle. Catchy.

The finale of this music est was Sunday night, with the university symphony, the Kent State Chorus and the Kent Chorale preforming the magnificent Ralph Vaughan William's "Dona Nobis Pacem," which I had never heard. It's a very powerful number, especially one part based on a Walt Whitman poem mourning the death of soldiers, sad and moving and beautiful. The Kent Chorus is a mixture of townsfolk and srudents and they practice like bastards all year, doing one concert at Christmas and then this final one. One year they did "Carmina Burana" with something like 200 singers. It was amazing. And I have to say that this year they matched it - or surpassed it.

There are a couple of Cleveland Orchestra concerts coming up in May, the last of the year, and then there'll be the Blossom Chamber Concerts starting in July. I do get my fill of music around here. Nice.