Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Literary Day

Joe Guppy being adorable

There have been lots of blogworthy events lately – so many in fact, that I haven’t had time to blog about them.   Hence the huge hiatus. Sigh! I look at the date of the last post, and can only sigh again.  So now, where to begin? Well, maybe with the most recent and significant.  My cousin Joseph has just had a book published. That is quite significant, as anyone would agree. The grand opening  (do books have grand openings? or only grocery stores?) was a smash hit reading at Elliot Bay Bookstore.   Joseph was his usual fabulous self, and, as they say, the crowd, and there really was a good crowd, went wild. The book is memoir about a very difficult time as a youth thirty years ago, when, during a trip to Mexico, he took a tummy med, and had a terrible reaction – a toxic psychosis which sent his already angst filled psyche right over the edge and him to a mental hospital for three months.  The episode was a Boschian nightmare, which Joseph details with humor, while never minimizing  his terror and sometimes hopelessness.  Take a peek at the book’s video trailer and take a taste here!

Joe Guppy being intellectual

When I got home from the reading with my new book, I thought I would dip in and read a few pages before going night-night, but I was immediately drawn into Joseph’s hellish situation and I had to keep reading until about four hours before I needed to get up.  Then I forced myself to put the book down until the next day. 

You can get your copy at Elliot Bay or here!!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Another Humiliating Day

In my relative youth, I was at least a mediocre pianist, and actually played at Sunday services with a sweet little choir.  Then, I joined the fabulous St. James Choir, fulfilling lots of lifetime dreams, and, getting my musical fix there. That was nearly twenty years ago. My piano practice time immediately dwindled to about twenty minutes a year.  And those twenty minutes were usually a sort of torture.  This year, having retired and expecting to have more time on my hands, I decided to try to practice a bit every day as a Lenten penance.  And a penance it was.  I could not play even the simplest thing.  Soooo discouraging!  I struggled, and got so that I could schlep through a couple of easy pieces, but never with aplomb. 

And absolutely never if anyone was listening.  I could even just imagine someone listening as I played, and kaboom!  The music would go “splat!”  So I decided to make my relatives listen to a little number, just to practice having a listener. Knowing that she would still love me no matter how bad it was, my first test audience was my soon-to-be ninety year old aunt. Splat!!!!!  I could not even play two chords consistently. Utterly humiliating.  Then my daughter and granddaughter became the test audience.  This was way worse.  They could not even bring themselves to utter hypocritically polite remarks.  More like, “Hmmmm!  You are going too fast,” or, “Need to work on that a bit!”

My pal Ana recently inherited her Grandma’s piano, and she too, decided to try to resuscitate her childhood piano prowess.  We agreed to get together to compare notes and play our songs for one another.  She executed hers brilliantly.  Mine went well for one note – then – Splat! 

I was comforted by the scrumptious corn soup we made (recipe here,) but humiliated nonetheless.  

On Sunday, I invited my aunt for tea again, and made her listen to my piece.  I played it fairly well.  But I have to confess that she is stone deaf, her hearing aid was broken, and she was, in addition to that, in the bathroom.  She insisted that she heard every note and it was great!  I chose to believe her.  Sort of.

Saint Cecilia, I'm counting on you to help me out!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Painful but Exhilarating Day

Whoa!  I am in total body pain!  Well, really, it’s just shoulder pain. But it’s sort of fun pain, as it is the result of a very fun day with my girls. It was our first three generation run* almost ever.   A year ago, the three of us, with our friend Tina, ran in a charity event, but that didn’t really count, as Becca and Rachael shot on ahead, leaving Tina and me to trot behind for a while, and then with no  one to nag us, to decide that walking was really more our style.  Becca and Rachael, after waiting at the finish line for quite some time, considered calling the aid car in case we had collapsed en route, but happily, they decided to phone us instead.  They were not very polite when they found that we were not even half way around the course. 

Along the Swamp walk

On to the canoe station

Past a beaver lodge

Today, we stayed together for the most part, as they had promised not to leave me in the dust, and they knew that I was treating them to lunch, which I would probably not do if they deserted me. 

So why the sore shoulders?  Well after running four miles, from my house to the University via the Arboretum and Swamp Walk, we went for a canoe ride.  Our helmsman had a little trouble manipulating the canoe and we spent some time backing out of the water lilies.  This tended to make one of us, i.e., me, crabby.  But despite the lily pads and the grumpiness, we persevered, conquered,   and took enormous pleasure in the beauty of our watery surroundings.

Checking out the Bridge to Nowhere

By the time I got home, I thought was ready to die and I still had to work in the Cathedral Kitchen.  I felt as though I could not possibly do it, but that I had to soldier on.  What commitment!  Oddly, washing pots and pans for an hour, perked me right up.  I recommend it when you are feeling totally exhausted or are just in the dumps.

And finally to Duckville

*Read slow jog with lots of whining.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Fun, Busy Week

Whoa!  I had an exhausting but fun week helping out at the Cathedral Choir Camp - forty kids working, praying, playing, and mostly singing all week long.  I originally signed up to help with checking the campers in on Monday morning.  I volunteered because I like to be helpful, of course, but mostly because I wanted a Choir Camp tee-shirt.  However it was all so great that I stayed for the whole week.  The St James Schola Cantorum, (I may have mentioned this before, like hundreds of times) is a simply amazing group of children lead by several amazing music educators.  They sing real music, and sound splendid.  This year they sang, among other wonderful pieces, movements from Charpentier’s Magnificat! It was astonishing.  Charpentier is one of my top favorite composers, so I was thrilled. And when, during the Mass for the Feast of theVisitation, they sang Panis Angelicus, it brought tears to my eyes – and despite it being one of my top not-favorite pieces.  

Uh-oh!  Someone is peeking into the window!

Lots of learning and lots of creating was happening, and not only creating music.  The choristers attended a presentation on the making of a local best-selling graphic novel, given by the authors themselves (or one of them, the other being at meetings), and then the group worked on their own, depicting the high spots of the week.

On the last day, there was a mini-camp for the younger children - those in the St. Gregory and St. Cecilia choirs, in training to become members of the Schola Cantorum.   Most of them looked a little apprehensive at first, but one singer,  Cecilia, was at ease and having a great time.

You can seem more photos and get an better idea of what a great week it was here.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Day Filled with Dabbling Ducks

Once summer finally arrived in Seattle, it took on a dazzling sparkle.  The days have been perfect, one after another, and have been demanding that one fill them with summer fun.  Summer fun would not be complete without at least one canoe outing, so Laura, Rebecca and I decided to hike to the University campus and rent a canoe.  Laura, a West Seattle girl, had never been on the Foster Island swamp walk, and in fact, had not really been on the University campus, so we were able to introduce her to some of our favored haunts.  First, the canoe excursion on Union Bay, through the Arboretum and Foster Island areas.  The ducks and ducklings were out in force, enjoying the day, basking in the sun, gobbling bugs, the babies scurrying across the lily pads behind Mum.

  I am always thrilled to hear and see Mr. Kingfisher, and he politely made one appearance, streaking above us over the water, with his distinctive clackety shout. Cormorants and coots greeted us as we glided by, but it was obvious that they thought we were pretty ho-hum, and were quite used to human visitors. 

En route to the restaurant, we walked through this outdoor theater, and I said that I hadn’t been there before.  Rebecca pointed out that about thirty-five years ago we had come to see a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Hmmmm!  I did remember seeing the play, but I didn't remember that it was in this idyllic spot. 

Laura was interested in the University libraries, and mentioned the famous and spectacular Reading Room in the Suzalo library. It was indeed spectacular!  Just like being in church.  Then lunch, ice cream and finally, a bus ride home.  A very satisfying day it was.

The astonishing Suzalo Library Reading Room

You can see Laura's take on our day here.  Her photos are better than mine, I think, even though her camera had took a brief swim in the bottom of the canoe. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Shopping Day

A couple of charming lamps to grace your sitting room

I had a nice little surprise outing with Samos.  I had told him I would be busy that day, but he called again on the morning of anyway, just in case.  I realized then that I had made a calendar mistake when turning from July to August, and that I wasn’t busy after all.  What fun!  We had our favorite Japanese tofu burgers for lunch and then off to junk stores.  Samos is on a spending freeze, and showed great restraint.  He bought nothing.  I am always on a spending freeze, so my willpower was lessened by the quotidian quality of my budgetary issues.  I bought a number of useless items, all things to use in the kitchen – so not entirely useless but definitely not needed.  Unneeded, but happy making.  I won’t even tell you what they are, lest you sneer at my shopping silliness. 

A prie dieu for a material girl??

These stores are always fascinating with the sometime bizarre items they have to offer.  One is forced to speculate as to what sort of person would purchase such horrors.  But maybe they (the horrors, not the purchasers) are so horrible that they transcend from horrible to kitch, to camp, to cool.  Who knows!

My new old Coca Cola bottle.  Why did I need this????   I just did.

PS  I did not buy a lamp or a prie dieu.  I wasn't that silly.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Special Anniversary

My dear, darling friend Martha and her sweet husband Joe have been married sixty years!  And they still seem to adore one another! This is pretty amazing, particularly in that they both are apparently such spring chickens – always on the go, always working on some project.  Maybe this latter has a positive effect on their spring chickenliness.  Martha does tons of cooking, preparing huge family holiday events, and a family picnic and summer celebration every year, but this was above and beyond! 

Most impressive of all, especially to me, the queen of weeds, she manages her fabulous giant garden, and her fascinating house.  She is an all-around marvelissima person.  I went to the party with Rachael and John, and on the way home, John said, “What a wonderful family Martha has.”  She certainly does, with her five boys and her daughter Liz. And gobs of clever, talented, and polite grandchildren (just like my Rachael.)

There were about ten tables set up in the garden, and people to fill them.  There was scrumptious food, and a fun talent show.  I have no talents, but a few of us did get up and sing "Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether", the grace before meals which the Cathedral folk sing at foodish events.  I thought that everyone was going to be singing or I would have been shy, but three quarters of the way through I noticed that only a tiny group of us was standing up front and singing.  A wasp seemed particularly enchanted by my song, and tried to get quite personal.  Fortunately, he went away to bother someone else before giving me time to get really upset at him. 

It was a super party!  

Another little guest, probably uninvited, was the tiny spider who spun this exquisite web.  She was no doubt lying in wait for the wasp who had annoyed me. 

Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.
 For they shall eat the labour of their hands: happy shall they be, 
and it shall be well with them.
  Martha and Joe have been as a fruitful vine by the sides of their house: 
their children like olive plants round about their table.
  Behold, that thus shall the woman and man be blessed that fear the Lord.
 The Lord shall bless them  and they shall see the good of their family 
all the days of their lives.
  Yea, they shall see their children's children, and peace upon their home.

Psalm 128 paraphrased for the occasion.