Saturday, March 26, 2011

---UNTIL---

Photo by Marty Kittrell

The River holds her Secrets, flowing through, bringing refreshment, moving on.

Life and other things have been rather hectic of late, and I'm going to be taking a little break for a while---to refresh and rest a bit. I'll be checking in from time to time, peeking in on other sites, enjoying the colors and words and activities.

And Until---I'll leave you with one of the Lord's Gifts---the sublime silver voice of Aaron Neville.

Moire non,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

BLESSINGS AND TEARS



These bright, cheery flowers greeted Chris when he went for his Doctor visit yesterday. They were presented with Congratulations on FIVE YEARS Cancer-Free. That was a cherished goal, and the uplifting of many, many prayers.

Our family has recently suffered a great tragedy and loss, and so we will try to concentrate on the Good Things as we grieve---the sweet memories and the times of joy, and we know that we have been Truly Blessed.





Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SOMETHING IN THE OVEN

It's so nice to have a pork roast in the oven for an hour-and-a-half, scenting the house with the lovely smells of garlic and pepper and a little thyme, with a pool of cider with apples and onions bubbling beneath. There were two of the little roly-poly roasts, much the size of Cornish Hens, and they cooked to a perfect 180, fork-tender and delicious beneath the reduced pan juices and flavorful apples.

Sides of Braised Cabbage with a little garlic and soy, some from-a-box Red Beans and Rice, a square of dense, cheesy Cornbread, and a dab from a lovely jar of Cranberry Chutney---perfect on a cool night.

And the scents of the afternoon, with that porky succulence filling the air---just having an oven-dish in progress, whether roast or chicken or casserole, says that you're coping; you're on top of things, and can go on with chores or relaxing alike, content in the outcome: A good hot dinner with little effort and a lot of preliminary enjoyment just of the moment, as well.

Something in the oven---one of the best features of a cold day.


Monday, March 21, 2011

CHILLY COOKIES

 


Lately, there have been no cookies on the outside of my house. There were no gumdrops, or peppermint wheels, or lovely little lemony candies or tarts or pies. No cake garnished the shutters, no pretzels or bonbons or Juicy Fruit gum. The waffle walk was covered in ice, and the frangipane fountain ceased to flow, frozen in its gush by the Two Degrees on the thermometer.
All the Tootsie Roll shrubs and the Fruit-Tarts bush were encased in gleaming ice, and the Candy-Dot screens were crusted on the doors. Lollipop portholes and glazed-sugar windows stuck, unwilling to open to the frosty air, and the poor birds had slender pickings on the chimney-bricks, for the brownies were shriveled and cold.

Our Jelly-Belly cobbles were color-blurred in ice, like mermaid-shimmer fathom-deep, and the Skittle-paved patio---slick as glass in the shade. The Oreo oriel was but a shade of its glory, and none of the M&M mullions gleamed in the sun. I dare not mention the Candy Cornices---even inside, they were icicle-toothed and scraggy, and the Dove-tails of the walls rimed with frost.

It’s been dark and blungy, and no one nibbled near.

For this house is an imaginary house, built on dreams and tellings and the great bluster of the teller, with happy times and thoughts of my Godmotherhood, my Grandma credentials, my try for Mary-Sunshine.

And now with a little tease-blast of Sun on Saturday, we’re back to dim and rain to come, with a promise of snow for Wednesday.

But just you wait. Spring’s here, if timid for now, and soon the shutters and the lintel and the roof will shine with fresh-baked goodness, and the doors will open wide, to waft the scent of warm cookies out into the yard.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

VINYL QUEST

We got out early into the Cusp-of-Spring Sunshine this morning; there were several little chores I meant to accomplish here at home, but the blast of the light down the stairs fair done me in, and I interrupted his shaving to ask, “Where are we GO-ing Today?”

I seldom ask that, but his answer is always the same, "INNNNY-where you want to!"



I’d had in mind only a nice pastelly-colorful vinyl cloth for the breakfast table, for that’s where Sweetpea and I do her little art and craft projects, ice cupcakes, and have our breakfast and lunch and tea-time together. A thorough spritz from the big ole spray-bottle of Orange Pine-Sol (which gives no hint of pine, whatsoever), and a good wipedown takes care of any mess or germs..

We stopped at the pet store for FuzzyPup’s food, at a Dollar store for some kid-cheap nail polish and to replenish the coloring book supply, and at several other stores. One had vinyl, but it was in the drabbest, paisleyest colors and patterns---not Springy a-Tall, a-Tall.

The lady stocking shelves said, “That’s all we have, right there.” I said, “They’re just such dull colors for the season,” and she replied, “Oh! I just stocked the Easter aisle with a LOT of the colors you’re looking for.” So we bought two---egg-covered and dancing with butterflies.


On to another store just for the heck of it, and there were two more, with lilacs-on-pale green---one round for the table, and a matching square to drape in the pass-through.



Out to brunch, then back past Big Lots, where we scored five more, in lots of pretty pale colors and patterns. Can’t miss with BL prices, and it’s not like they’re gonna spoil.

Chris has had a ham on the grill for several hours, I've made a nice macaroni salad with Spring veggies, and there's a from-a-mix sweet potato casserole in the oven.




And how was YOUR day?








Thursday, March 17, 2011

GREEN ROOTS

Yes, I'm wearing the Green today, in honor of my ancestors with long-ago roots in Ireland. They left the known for the unknown in 1730, when this country was still great stretches of unbroken green, wild and untrod, and those steps were taken on Faith and pure Grit. I'd rather claim those hard-working, hardscrabble farmers, leaving those smoky, humble crofts and taking only their hope and their callused hands to a new land, than anyone's born-to-the-manor family line.


In Keats' A Thing Of Beauty, the first line is widely quoted, often used, and most likely the only part remembered by most folks. But the last---Ahhh, the Last. It stands beautiful head and shoulders above any lines which come before:





I send my herald thought into a wilderness:



There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress



My uncertain path with green, that I may speed



Easily onward, through flowers and weed.





Easy it wasn't, but we're still here, still thriving, and I gladly claim my Irish Roots.
>>>>HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!<<<<



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

BOBBY AND WE

The rolling-back of the cloud-curtain which has covered us for so long is sending great gleams of sunshine down the stairs as I write, with the big panes of the storm-door admitting more light than has entered these premises in months, it seems.

I’d thought this was just another of the darkling mornings, but happy tidings of sun brought us gladdened hearts and renewed energy today.

Yesterday was not half bad, either, though it stayed dampy cold and dim all day. We started the day with a rousing jam session---Sweetpea and Ganner and I, when I checked in on Beverly’s How Sweet the Sound.
She’d featured my favorite Janis Joplin number---Bobby McGee---I’ve always wondered how it must feel to be the Piano Guy on that one---WOW! And if Kris Kristofferson never did another thing in his life---writing this one song would be enough---sheer poetry.

It just got us dancing and jumping and making all sorts of music. As I turned it on, I picked up her little floor tomtom and one of the soft-tipped sticks;

Ganner reached for the little tambourine, and we got the music going.


Sweetpea was still drowsing a bit from the before-daylight arrival, and then we could see one little foot keeping time, then a quick emergence from the blanket, to drag and wave it about like the napkins we all grab when we dance in the kitchen.

Boy, did that get the circulation moving!! She danced and danced, and we were moving pretty good for old folks, as well. She eagerly requested, “Play it AGAIN!!” and we did, feeling all energized and smiling. Then “Let’s do it AGAIN!” and after the second encore, we were so revved up, we could have taken on hordes of barbarians.

We enjoyed a single playing of it again this morning, getting all BRIGHT before the sun started streaming in, with her Daddy on tambourine today, me on the floor tom again, every so often being handed the little toy baby drum
,




depending on her whim as she danced past, and Ganner strumming on the big old Granddaddy Dobro. And the addition of a brand-new instrument, which I picked up on my own whim: The rickey-tick of the drumstick on the Jello-Bean mold,

 

scritched with one of her kid-sized Pro-Marks---that one could just turn out to be the latest edition of the Bluegrass washboard. Upside down, the tray is a treasure-trove of little protruding bellies, ripe for clickety scratching, and I predict that Jello-Zydeco may be the next Craze.

Do try a Jam Session of your own---I recommend it.
". . . the most staggering leading woman in rock... she slinks like tar, scowls like war... clutching the knees of a final stanza, begging it not to leave... Janis Joplin can sing the chic off any listener." Goldstein of Vogue magazine

Monday, March 14, 2011

PP XII, MISS PEG'S BEGINNINGS

 


Long before Miss Peg Ogletree was the star member of Mrs. Carpenter’s music pupils, long before she spent countless secret hours learning STARDUST by heart, so her Daddy would be surprised she’d learnt his favorite song for her Senior Recital, and even longer before she was left on her own on to maintain the little family place, she was a long-legged little girl, lively as quicksilver, and special even then.


When she was in first grade, she was smart and clever, learning her Arithmetic and Writing in a flash, and always bringing in her take-home pages in her neater-than-most printing. She loved Rhythm Band day, hoping ever for the triangle amongst all those red clacky sticks and the maracas and scratchy boards, and when the Music Teacher sat down at the piano, Peg was too rapt looking at those graceful, competent hands on the keys to much mind her own instrument.


And when her Mama took her to her first Piano Recital that May, in a stiff-starched little dress and her wire-spring hair painstakingly smoothed down with Tame and four barrettes, she was absolutely transported.




She asked her Daddy that very night if she could take piano lessons, and she was “taken on” for the Summer, going into town two days a week for lessons at Mrs. Carpenter’s house, to “see if her heart's in it,”---Mrs. C’s euphemism for “if she can learn the notes, practice and listen to what I teach her.”


Peggy was admitted that next Fall into the two dozen or so of Mrs. Carpenter’s regular pupils, and the half hours at twelve-thirty on Mondays and Thursdays were some of her favorite moments of the week. She learned the names of the notes and their positions on the staff in the first week’s time, practicing without any prompting on the already-old piano which had belonged to her Aunt Idell when she was a little girl.

And her Heart WAS in it---she wanted to Play, she wanted to Make Music, and she wanted above all to play like Mrs. Carpenter.

For an unprecedented thing had happened at that first Spring Recital---instead of just the steady plod of the beginners, then the flow, then the beautiful rush of the progressively more practiced students, there was a special treat. Mrs. Carpenter herself walked onto the stage at the end of the little intermission. She told the audience that in honor of her late Mother’s hundredth birthday, she was going to play her Mom’s favorite song, Rustle of Spring.


The windows of that big old creaky-floored school auditorium were open, and the muggy air lay on them all like a wet flannel sheet; the buzz-bugs circled the room in the stage-lights like mini-buzzards, and a dozen little girls in stiff taffeta-and-net dresses squirmed in shiny discomfort as Mrs. C. touched that much-pounded keyboard and brought forth something that room and most of those folks had never heard.
She usually stood in the wings, her beige lace mother-of-the-groom dress stretched tight over her vast bosom as she counted out the time the children SHOULD have been playing. They had all heard her play at church, or during a little section of their lessons to give them the proper example, but this was Magic.



THIS---this was water falling and leaves swirling and fairies dancing; it was like a MidSummer Night’s Dream, with Titania and Oberon peeking out from behind those dusty maroon curtains, with that enchanted forest misty on the stage, and all those whimsical creatures arrayed behind trees and looking down from the foliage---just from being inside the encompassing circle of that perfect piece of music.

And from that moment, for the rest of her life, Peg’s Heart was totally In It.
Photo by Marty Kittrell

Saturday, March 12, 2011

NEWS FROM TONJA

We've had word from our friend Tonja, who was on a trip to Hawaii when the tsunami hit. Janie at Southern Lagniappe sent this comment this morning:

Janie's words in Italics, Tonja's in Bold:
**************************************************************************
Rachel, I saw this post on Tonja's Facebook page and thought I would pass it along:


It's the morning after, and we are well! Still under warning, so we are going to bed now for a while. Your words and prayers warmed our hearts and gave us strength during the long night. Will update more after my nap. Thanks be to God!


She hasn't posted an update since then, but, hopefully, they are in a safe place.
***************************************************************************


I'm so glad to have word of my friend and those dear to her, and continue to pray for their well-being and a safe journey home.

Friday, March 11, 2011

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS

My thoughts and prayers right now are with the people of Japan, in their mourning at the loss of life and the devastation to their beautiful country. Godspeed in their rescues and rebuilding.

And for everyone in the line of danger in the magical islands of Hawaii, where my dear friend Tonja, her sister Joy, and another friend are vacationing---may they all be safe and well, and may our dear ones return home safely.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

COOKIN' SHOWS

Speaking of chefs: Ina Garten has such a warm presence for such a totally COOL person. Her easy, comfortable laugh and her pleasant personality are just perfect for a cooking show, and she's a wonderful cook, with a perfectly marvelous kitchen of her own:




Miss Nigella is a marvel of wit and sassy charm, with just the right amount of bright-eyed lusty joy in the cooking AND the eating of the food. She certainly DOES seem to enjoy all of life:

They are both on my DVR schedule, so I have about ten of each saved up on hand most times, just for whiling away a moment with lunch, or whilst the little one naps, or just on an EARLY rainy morning, when their shining kitchens and cheery personalities carve a soft door into the day.




I've loved Jamie's young banter, his knowledge, his up-to-his-elbows way with the ingredients, and it's been a treat to see him easing into a gentle maturity, with much of the competent, smart rowdy-boy still grinning impishly across the courgettes and rocket.

And I miss little Sara Moulton's quiet confidence and immense knowledge; she certainly knows her way around a kitchen, and the way she could cook live with a talkative guest muddling about underfoot or a questioner on the phone---phenomenal.


There is just something so much fun about Nathalie Dupree's slap-dash, spill-the-sugar hands, as well as her soft speech and thousand-watt smile. Plus, who can NOT love a lady who lives in Social Circle, Georgia?




And then---OH, MY!! Then there’s Jacques Pepin's perfect mastery, his courtly manners and charming accent as he absolutely rocks a kitchen.







And I MISSSSS Jennifer and Clarissa!! They were bawdy old broads, with recipes a little too sharp and old-time Mrs. Bridges for the family table, but they just OWNED the kitchen (and the trout stream, and the army tent, and the cloister kitchen and the cricket pitch).

I'd have hopped in and ridden that sidecar with her anywhere.


But for a chilly evening drawing in, when the day's been long and supper's not started, and the beckon of a cozy chair and the warmth of a soft lap-spread and the lamplight siren me in, I turn to Sandra, in her beautiful, unpredictable kitchen, with its dollhouse colors and her cheery voice and things-in-boxes. I watch her chop and mix and sprinkle and sip, and I LIKE her. She BRIGHTS me, and I can cope.



And of course, Mario, the Great Aslan of the magical Country called Cuisine.



Who do you watch, and who do you MISS?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MONKEY BUSINESS

It's been Quite A Winter, folks, and to quote my friend Ouiser, "I'm not as sweet as I used to be." At least I don't plan to be in a bad mood for forty years.



Internet photo

Aunt Lo had a monkey. Also a brothel, as referred to in Family Forest IV . JoJo was a skinny little monkey, all arms and long tail, and the only one like it I've ever seen outside National Geographic is the little Ebola-carrier in the movie “Outbreak,” with Dustin Hoffman and Dr. McDreamy, when he wasn’t so very.


The monkey rode, wrapped around her neck, peering over her shoulder, sometimes mingling perfectly with those appalling three-minks biting each others’ tails. He was a little white-bearded cutie-in-appearance-only, with a propensity for rarin’ back and opening his mouth widewide, showing all sharp teeth and shrieking to High Heaven, a place which also figured prominently in JoJo’s bodily habits.


When it was Aunt Lo’s turn to host the family Christmas gathering, I don’t think it was by accident that we all took “pot luck” to the party, which in our neck of the woods didn’t mean you partook of whatever was in the pot when you were invited to dinner. Our pot luck was more like a potlatch, involving everyone’s bringing something, usually their best dish, to a “covered dish” social. But it’s still a mystery to me, that in that day of dishpan-on-the-counter, heat-the-water-in-a-kettle-for-washing-and-scalding, how ANY female of our family ever agreed to eat a bite in that house.




I suppose that JoJo was upset and frightened by all the folks milling around and talking loudly in the house, though he “knew” us all from visits over the years---just never in such numbers. We were gathering and taking off coats, hugging and laughing, setting down our food, and making ourselves at home in HIS house.

He began to do his grimace and shriek, jumping on the furniture and racing around the room---then he swung up the living room drapes, wildly defecating all the while, and bounced around up there on the curtain rod, still pooping like mad, throwing any bits he could manage to pick up, and giving those monkey-war-cries to the High Heaven he stank to. I thought it was hilarious
---like a Saturday morning cartoon---I was maybe eight, and that kind of humor was right up my alley.


I have not the faintest recollection of whether we ate that day or not, and it’s mercifully passed from my memory. I also never inquired, nor had any curiosity of, the cleaning and fumigating process. Aunt Lo also had a grumpy old dog which once had lifted his leg into the gas space-heater right before she was to host the WMU monthly luncheon. She did the first thing she could think of---she sprayed the heater full of Avon to cover the smell, which must have given the whole house quite an atmosphere, and probably did a LOT for those ladies’ diets that day. It’s a wonder they didn’t all die of suffocation and sheer disgust, and probably also a blessing that Baptists don't excommunicate.

We all disliked and feared that monkey, but I was saddened at what was probably a painful demise---the only death-by-lamp I’ve ever heard of. He took to sleeping curled around the top of a lampshade on a tall floor lamp, so that the heat rising from the bulb kept him warm in the Winter---drafty old country house, dog-peed heater, smoky fireplace---any old torch in a storm.



Somehow, he must have become desensitized to the heat on his tail, and it finally burnt clean off,
and he got sick and died. Poor JoJo, but he had a good life, after a fashion. He was warm, he got lots of petting, and I guess bananas bought with whorehouse dollars are as good as any.







Internet photo


Sunday, March 6, 2011

FROM OTHER PLACES

Photo by Janie at Photography with a Southern Accent---her pictures are just breathtaking.


This year's first little jottings from my journal; when words strike me, I write them down to savor and to remember:


I’d rather have thirty minutes of Wonderful than a lifetime of Nothin’ Special.
Shelby Eatenton Latcherie Steel Magnolias


"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall use my time." ~Jack London




And, even in the rock-and-sing cadence of this old poem, the one we learned by heart in our first Literature classes, the one in which we were learning da-da-DA, da da da DA da on our way to all the enrichment of rhyme and meter, beginning with this ancient saw---I wonder what Longfellow would have thought of a whole mixed class of Mississippi third-graders, reciting and rocking in time like a shul of kippahed boys:

Lives of GREAT men all re-MIND us,
Let us MAKE our lives subLIME;
And dePARTing, leave be HIND us,
Foot prints ON the sands of TIME.



And it concludes, with a hum and a haw and a homily, one that will out itself at the strangest times and places---over the dishpan or trying on shoes:


Let us THEN be up and DOing,
With a HEART for any FATE;
Still aCHIE-ving, still purSUing,
Learn to LAbor and to WAIT.




Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
Victor Hugo


On singers who sing themselves, not the song:

As for Christina, what a disgrace. Our anthem is beautiful as it is... it doesn't need to be dragged around by its hair! A Comment on Tom and Lorenzo








The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away - Joy J. Golliver


"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." E.M. Forster


The cake has a wonderful rainy afternoon quality; the crumb of a great pound cake but multiple times more moist. Smitten Kitchen.

Sweetpea's first marmalade pound cake.

On returning from a trip:
. . .home with new memories, carefully folded and put away in the drawers of sweet yesterdays. KELLE HAMPTON of Enjoying the Small Things


Kelle's blog is a wonderful mix of the extraordinary and the everyday---thoroughly lived, thoroughly enjoyed, thoroughly enchanting. Once you go there, you'll keep going back.
It feels like Spring here. like Warm and Cool have exchanged vows in a beautiful blue-skied ceremony and have brought forth a love child who dwells right here, right now. She is splendid, this love child, and she brings with her breezes that send our curtains fluttering and call the babies outside. KELLE HAMPTON



I live my life in exclamation points. Connie @ Living Beautifully
Exclamation points it is---as much as Spring, I think we all NEED some Exclamation. Let's go have some!!




Saturday, March 5, 2011

SPRING DREAMS

The rain is coming down again, folks---the streets are sluices, and for the second time in less than a week, we have the sop-up, mop-up going on downstairs. The basement absolutely flooded last Sunday night, with rivers and flows running all round the room. I spent all day Monday stomping on towels, throwing them sodden into the washer for a quick spin, then into the dryer, and back onto the floor, where I continued my best imitation of Lucy-in-the-wine-vat, treading those grapes. (Except my wardrobe was not nearly so fetchingly stylish---shorts and T vs. her charmingly-looped skirt and big hoop earrings).

NINE spinnings and NINE dryings, at five towels each, not to count the actual Clorox rinses and washings and dryings. It was quite a day, and I felt like I'd been to the Stair-climber class from Hell.

Good times.

Today, Chris is busy with the GULPER, and with all the anti-everything sprays---I couldn't find the thing last week, thus the towel-trauma. He's making great inroads (instreams?) in the puddles on this old weatherbeaten (in all senses) rug. When he runs the little wide flat end of the vacuum down a line of the floor, it leaves a clean-incised, pale track---I tried to think of what it reminded me of, and it came to me: Remember having a popsicle, and it was just about to drip and you'd suck on one side? That pale spot which followed is just like the lighter area where the water has been removed in a neat line.

I'm SO over this---I KNOW I longed for Autumn last year, but enough is ENOUGH. The wet and the cold and the tracked-in snow; the inches and feet of the stuff, beautiful for a while, then graying and clogged with melty-salt, and in one instance when the stores ran smack dab out of salt, Cat Litter---dark and crumbly and leaching into the snow like black pepper on grits.


I long for Spring so badly, I went in search of my own from past years: Looking out the kitchen window into the misty sunrise of the back garden:


Sitting on the patio in the Summer afternoon, with a glass of tea and a good book, glancing from time to time up into The Tree:
The uncovering of the great swathy-beds of ivy which are slowly covering the entire back yard, shiny and green:

Lush, fragrant herbs for the mere walkout and the picking:



And for one of these:


I'd tolerate several of these:



This one is from Mississippi, of course; she's six inches tall, and we had her bronzed.






Thursday, March 3, 2011

MAYO AND MUSIC


Chris came back from Alabama, not with a banjo on his knee, but with a case of Duke's---the real Southern taste in mayo---but hardly ever called by that name.

Man, this stuff is Pure-Dee MANNAZE. It makes wonderful potato salad and slaw, super remoulade and tartar sauce, and Chris' favorite: Pink Sauce---his name for a mayo, ketchup, super-sweet-pickle juice concoction which he likes as salad dressing, and as a dipping sauce for fried or grilled fish, and for things like burritos and fajitas. I know. I KNOW.

That's all I asked for---return safely and bring a case of Duke's.

And the banjo part---even better than the song:



His Dad's favorite closest-thing-to-a-Dobro guitar---a big ole square-neck with a wonderful tone, and the most used of all his string instruments. It's been constantly twanging since Chris walked into the house, and he's not the only one who enjoys it.
The looks on their faces are the best part.
In the house two days, and guess who got her own Guitar Pick this morning?




Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MUSIC VI---FINALE


Luciano Pavarotti and Kellen Esperian  Internet Photo

I SO remember the first golden notes of the first chorus in my very first opera---Gounod’s Faust, the cemetery scene with the gauzy dove-gray backdrop of the rainy day, and all the black umbrellas and singers in silhouette against that pale curtain. I LOVED it.

You know, those gifted with truly great voices are an amazing miracle to me---those stars of a firmament I can only admire, and the arias and duets and even the recitatives are unbelievably wonderful. But an opera chorus---all those perfected voices mingling and singing strong and true---when they, as we say, “cut loose,” well, that’s Something to Hear.

I DO love Kallen Esperian---she feels like a good old hometown girl, since she was so young when she won the Mid-South regional auditions. I was invited by a lady from several towns over to go to the Memphis Opera Club luncheon, for she knew that I loved opera as much as she. And fresh from winning the audition was Kallen Esperian.

She was introduced while we were still having lunch; perhaps the newness of her position as a full-fledged singer had granted her only the status of an entertainer or perhaps one of those dress-store models who stroll and silently whisper by, whilst all the stylishly-dressed, perfectly-coifed society folks ate and drank and talked. She walked out into the center of sort of a U of tables, and climbed a couple of steps up onto a little platform; I seem to remember it as a sort of ottoman, not a stable plane on which to stand. She stood in her beautiful plum-colored gown, tilted far forward by much-too-high-heels, as if she were leaning to please, to give us her absolute best, as she sang.



And it was a MOMENT---one of those spaces between breaths that are surrounded by a golden light, and you are numb to any other sound. It was like being in at the emergence of butterfly from cocoon, almost; we heard her in her first performance after her winning the contest, and she was just so young and shy and unassuming, as she stepped up there and simply blossomed, just letting that powerful sound and melody emerge of its own volition.
A couple of years after we moved here, we went to see her sing Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly, and it was mesmerizing. We’ve heard it sung several other times, but that was the best.

She’s moved on to triumphs at La Scala, and in great Opera Houses all over the world, and she’ll never know the sort of home-town pride a stranger feels at her success.

And though NOT from Madame Butterfly, this is my favorite by any soprano---I could just float on it for days:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4mauLwl3UU


It’s one of my favorite melodies of all time, and so I’ll close this long recital of my musical remembrances. Y'all deserve a break after all these chapters, and I'll leave you to simply enjoy the music.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MUSIC, V---SYMPHONY

One of the most unforgettable times we ever had at an evening entertainment was one of our evenings at the symphony downtown. It’s right on the circle, and as soon as you start around the round, it’s like a grand stage-set---twinkle lights twined in every tree, all the way around the street, and the immense every-side stairway all around the fountain encircling the Monument, right in the center of the city. The streets fan off the circle like pie-wedges, and it’s all bright lights and people strolling, the clop of the carriages and the shussssh of the fountains, with a great WHITEness over the whole thing. It feels as if this island if bright white, this circle in the middle of all the tall buildings, could be seen from the moon. The Symphony Hall’s marquee is totally outlined in large clear bulbs which make it festive all year, and the anticipation as you approach---it’s a wonderful way to enter the theater.


It’s lovely to go in the daytime, as well; on Fridays in Spring and Summer, all the people who work downtown bring lunches or buy them from the vendors, and the entire circle of steps around the fountain and all the benches are filled, for the Symphony has a noontime program, sent out into the street on the speakers---what a NIFTY idea!! Free and wonderful.
One evening as we entered the Hall, Chris just kept going and going, right down to the stage. We’d NEVER bought tickets down in that expensive section, and I was delightfully surprised. He just smiled and KEPT going, right around to the left of the stage, and up the steps, where we entered a box which ran the depth of the stage. At that time, there were two rows of flip-up theater seats, just hanging there, right OVER the musicians---you could look right down into the horns, and down on tops of heads, with the music rising like heat from a cauldron and the bows during vigorous violin passages like waving wheat beneath our knees.


That was an EXPERIENCE. We were INSIDE the music, a part of it, of something so wild and beautiful and gently lulling, of the tempo and the volume and the notes, just filling you up entire, and leaving no room for time or place. I cannot tell you---for some strange reason, the only simile I can kindle is that it’s kind of like water-skiing---with the speed and the rush of the water and you’re traveling unencumbered and bare to the wind in your ears, and you have no control of the mad dash ahead, but it’s the most exhilarating headlong flight of your life. Like that. Or maybe if you fell into a maelstrom of pure sound, and the whirling itself was a whole section, like the woodwinds or strings.



We were just transported, and it was magical. I try to think how it must feel to be a member of that orchestra, sitting in the midst of that music every time, and to BE a part of it, with your own contribution adding to the mystery and perfection of the whole. Amazing. I wouldn’t have missed it.