Tuesday, January 14, 2014

reading list redux

Million Dollar Legs - the author is a bit of a fan-boy, but I had no idea that Grable's career included time touring in Hello Dolly! and Born Yesterday. Fun Hollywood read, but I've read better.

For example, Tab Hunter might not be much as an actor, but his memoir about Hollywood and being gay and the era - he's funny, he's sharp, and he's astute. The late Esther Williams' memoir Million Dollar Mermaid - frank, funny, and fully aware of her faults as well as her achievements.

I Go By Sea - I admit that Mr Banks is what inspired me to pick this up again one night. It goes quickly, and I like it better than Mary Poppins. There, I've said it.

Still working on Moon (I keep losing track of the characters) and Britten, who wrote brilliant music but whose personal indecisiveness drives me away at fifty page intervals.

Gavin MacLeod is a lot more enjoyable so far than the sub-title might suggest.

Meanwhile, started and finished The Cantor Wore Crinolines by Mark Schweitzer, which is hilariously funny for reasons relating to liturgy, Latin, and language. It's the umpteenth in his series, and the last two or three were a little flat, but this one is almost as good as the first one, The Alto Wore Tweed. href
="http://www.sjmpbooks.com/">The author's web site
Uh-oh - it appears that he has a blog. Must check that out.

Also enjoyed Death is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter - who have I read mysteries all these years and missed his books? - and just started reading, but now cannot find, a book of essays about knitting.

I'd claim that I read all of this while iced in, but the sad truth is that I spent a good part of that time playing Harry Potter on the Wii....

Friday, January 03, 2014

and another

How could I resist:

The Girl With the Million Dollar legs:Betty Grable by Tom McGee

This is Your Captain Spekaing: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life by Gavin MacLeod

Maybe I shouldn't go to the library.

Oh, wait, is this what my students might have read and so I should know about it? Because my committee members would sneer at all of what's on my list.

Let go of bitterness...


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New Year

Books in Progress:

Benjamin Britten: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

How To Moon a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale

I Go By Sea, I Go By Land, P.T. Travers

I need to update syllabi, find out what to do with my peer evaluated essays, and, oh yeah, schedule that meeting that might or might not lead to more work in the future.

A few days ago a family member, in describing another family member who is also a professor, dismissively said that teachers don't really have anything to do during their holidays. I suppose that the luxury of reading three books for fun probably doesn't count for much. Makes me feel saner, though.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

a solid B

I am a solid B. I hate it.

I am doing a perfectly acceptable job at my job... both of them. 

I am trying not to be sickened by the various insanities - I'm not going to be paid to spend hours & hours at a meeting about benefits we all know I will never have - must keep going.

I'm trying so hard to be interesting, to bring some excitement about learning.

I believe, so much, in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dayenu. I want to be a seed.

Friday, January 18, 2013

contents with commentary

A conversation on the tome of visages got around to the contents of purses. I have a feeling that I started it unintentionally, which is pretty much how most of my ideas that endure seem to occur.

I do own a purse, and many of its contents are similar to the ones in my knitting bag. However, I can and have gone weeks and even months without using a purse, whereas I use my knitting bag almost every day.

Here follows a list of the contents of my bag as of 3:45 PM, with bonus snarky commentary:

almost completed afghan on needles
wrist brace
napkins (lots)
scotch tape
various coupons, some not yet expired!
scissors, extra sharp
toothbrush in case - where's the toothpaste? argh!
two harmonicas - yes, really
Barnes & Noble giftcard
two hairties, one pink, one black
three hairclips, varying sizes, all black
book of dolphin stickers
three chapsticks
one lipstick
plastic bag containing: six black pens, three purple pens, five pencils, pencil sharpener
plastic bag containing: quarters, nickels and pennies adding up to about $5.00. Why no dimes? I have no idea.
plastic bag containing: kleenex - yes, unused!
plastic bag containing: four packages of fake sweetner, two wrappers from fake sweetner
two empty plastic bags
nail clippers
two containers of hand lotion, one empty
plastic box containing four band aids
Virgin Atlantic boarding pass
book of 3'5 index cards, spiral bound
small stuffed reindeer wearing a scarf I did not knit
extra yarn for the afghan in process
four individually wrapped life savers (smells like spearmint) yummy yum yum ^_^
three individually wrapped peppermints
two packages of two cracker saltines, slightly crushed
50P piece
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
cell phone

Several people have commented on having or not having a physical address book. The 3'5 cards do have addresses and phone numbers, but they also have, you know, memorable quotations, grocery lists, to do lists, titles of books I want to read...

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012 in Review

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

I didn't so much try a new activity as much as I pushed myself to try a little harder in several areas that are, to use a tired phrase, outside my comfort zone. In January of 2013 I will automatically at least attempt to sightread in Latin without parsing the pronunciation first. Hell, I sightread Psalm chant in English without parsing it first. (I'm definitely braver about my chanting abilities than I was in January of 2012.) This is brand new and wild in its own small way.

I also got better about following up on invitations from people who asked me to meet up for coffee or pizza. I'm starting 2013 with friends who text me from time to time, which is a good stretch for me.

I knitted, knitted, and knitted, and gave it away with a bit more confidence that I created something others really would enjoy. Hearing from people who love what I made, who find it comforting or happy or warm or everything all at once startles me in good ways.

I also said "no" a lot more often.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

The resolution was to put my head down and just keep on going. The challenge, of course, is that when a big fluffy dog charges into your life, it's impossible to look only at the ground. My dog has taught me to be joyful, if not as exuberant as a dog, every time that I wake up, and I think that's my goal for 2013, too. Meanwhile, I have taught the dog to allow the mistress to be a tad groggy before the joyful bit.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No one close, but a lot of people whom I wish well became parents this year, and watching their joy is beautiful.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, just a few days ago, and I'm still coming to grips with her death. It wasn't a surprise - years of addiction and dangerous lifestyle choices meant we all knew her death was coming - but still very saddening. Thirty-two is too young to have given up and too old to believe you're invincible.

I'm staring down the barrel of a family's member's cancer diagnosis from a few days before Christmas, too. There's every reason to believe that treatment will be successful, but the double mortality whammy is, well -

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Teeth - I'm in pretty much daily pain from years of unaffordable dental work. I'd like to be able to eat apples, broccoli, steak, etc. properly again. Fingers crossed that I can afford to at least get started on all of this in 2013.
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 12, 2012 - a big fluffy dog, Fritz, galloped into my life. I have learned a great deal about life from this dog, and he is a daily reminder to me that there's a lot to love about my life.

December 14, 2012 - Connecticut. Twenty-eight people.

I don't remember the date, but I will always remember that President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage on a Wednesday, because I went to choir practice that night feeling like I could look all of the homosexuals in the group in the eye after the previous night's election.

My summer whirlwind - no dates, just one very fuzzy, happy blur, one worthy of Fritz.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finally starting to get the sense that I can pick out the harmony line. Sometimes.

No, that's not true - more often than I could a year ago.

In 2012 I also read a great deal more than in 2011, which gives me a pleasant feeling of satisfaction as well as pleasure and pride. I read a few books I didn't much like, but only a few. I even reread a few pages of Moby Dick... but only a few.

9. What was your biggest failure?

My right arm - that old weakness - I know that massage therapy helps a lot, and I had an offer of very inexpensive massage therapy for it, and I spent my time elsewhere. I like where and how I spent the time ("It's not so much do what you like/ as it is that you like what you do" - Sondheim) but I really need to remember that the time invested in health is just as well spent.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Other than exhaustion, no, for which I am deeply grateful.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Does dog food count? It's so wonderful to be looked after by a dog again.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

In my life or in the world? In my life, an old friend who sent me some out-of-the-blue care packages of unexpected but thoroughly delicious surprises, such as seasons one and two of Downton Abbey. In the world - the Duchess of Cambridge, nee Kate Middleton, for redefining class and grace, President Obama, for voluntarily signing on for four more years he knew would and will be difficult.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Congress. Students and "real people" who refuse to learn the difference between it's and its.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Debt. My undergraduate loan almost down to three figures, which is exciting.

15. What did you get really excited about?

England, but the music of Holy Week was a close second. (see #16)

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Sure, sure, I heard a lot of "Dynamite" "Gangnam Style" "Call Me Maybe" but really, it's this setting of Ubi Caritas that will forever be this year:

Ubi Caritas

First of all, it's just ethereal, gorgeous, incredible, breath-taking... and I can sing the second soprano line without a single hitch.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– Happier or sadder?
Neither, but I'm getting better about noticing the joyful bits. (Thanks, Fritz!)
 – Thinner or fatter? Thinner. (Thanks, Fritz!)
– Richer or poorer? Financially or emotionally? ;-) Musically, I am far richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Sitting quietly in beautiful spaces.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Day? Quietly. Joyfully.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

See #16

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Downton Abbey

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No, but I am feeling a bit less frustrated with a few folks. (Thanks, Fritz.)

24. What was the best book you read?

Chains by Laurie Hulse Anderson
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I notice that my friend Freshy led me to two of these, which makes me think that I should ask her for suggestions more often.

Jeanne reminded me that it's all right to read books you dislike. In that category, I nominate Cries and Whiskers by Clea Simon, in which not a single character attracted me, not even the cats.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

See #16. A close second would be the album Lungs by Florence + the Machine, which powered me through a great many lecture outlines, paper gradings, long forms to be filled out on-line, etc.

26. What did you want and get?

A dog. To get the hell out of Indiana and just be me for two weeks. A dog. A new coffee cup. A dog.

27. What did you want and not get?

More ethnic food

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Tricky, as I actually saw some films this year and I liked all of them. Probably The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Cake with family, and not much more - it was too hot to do much, and without air conditioning, I didn't have the desire to do much, either.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not having to remind myself that life could be far worse. Financial security would have meant getting the air conditioning fixed,  eating more ethnic food, visiting the dentist, etc. I had far more than many others, and I'd rather be joyful with a little than miserable with a lot, but I would like to get back to a happy medium between mindfulness and abundance.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Rediscovering clothes I haven't worn since Sam took me for regular walks. A struggle to find dress shoes that are attractive, comfortable, and won't make me trip on stairs.

32. What kept you sane?

Music. Laughter. The book of visages. Did I mention that I adopted a dog this year?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Matt Smith. It's complicated.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The ban on gay marriage

35. Who did you miss?

My Gran. So so so many times I really wished that I could pick up the phone and call her.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Another library volunteer - see #1

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Find the good and praise it.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"I want a dog/ a chihuahua/ when I get back to my small flat/ I want to hear somebody bark"

Pet Shop Boys

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Music Chain

Tonight my heart lies heavy with the news from Connecticut.

Originally I had planned to make this chained post about worn out high notes and music heard in banks that still melts my heart, or the secret holiday music loves I play even in July. I had six songs in mind, and some rough ideas.

Then my friend Leigh Ann walked into the room, such a look on her face - not horror, not shock, not despair, but of weight. "Twenty-eight," she said, "twenty-eight."

Though I grew up in a fairly religiously educational home, I somehow missed the story of the Holy Innocents until I was about seven. I have a feeling that it was in a documentary, because I have flashes of seeing a Renaissance-y painting of the destruction and the pure implications just terrifying me. My well-intentioned parents' attempts to explain the whole matter only accentuated my feelings of guilt that so much death had to take place to save our souls.

"Coventry Carol" doesn't get programmed much, at least, not within the sacred music circles in which I have sung and worshiped, but somehow I've committed it to memory. I think that Annie Lennox comes closest to expressing the horror, the shock, the magnitude of the loss to the boys who had to die for a king's rage and fear. (Verse two)

Coventry Carol

I've tried to go about the business of Advent II this evening - I ran out to get milk, leafed through today's blue books, picked up a few gifts, started in on Christmas cards - but Lennox's voice rang in my ears for hours. That painting sprang back into my head again.

Tomorrow I will go to a two hour long choir practice - the director has already promised us that it will be grueling - and I think I need it. My heart is too full and my head too weary for much music of any sort tonight.

That's one of the great spiritual gifts to me about being in a choir at this time of year. It's so easy for me to get caught up in cards and final exams and Christmas shopping and - and - and

Having to spend hours each week preparing for sacred services, hours around people I love and enjoy, in a place that makes my heart leap, it's one of the greatest moments of grounding I could ask, and that will come form the reminders, be it the Latin I struggle to pronounce or the descant I know as well as I know my own name. I love secular holiday music too, but the moment when candles are lit in the darkness and voices break though - glorious.

The rest of the chain includes:

Cranky at It’s My Blog!
Dr. Geek at Dr. Geek’s Laboratory
Lemming at Lemming’s Progress
Readersguide at Reader’s Guide to…
Freshhell at Life in Scribbletown
edj3 at kitties kitties kitties
My Kids’ Mom at Pook and Bug
joyhowie at The Crooked Line
Magpie at Magpie Musing
and back to Harriet for a wrap-up at spynotes