Saturday, March 26, 2011

This 'n' That

Various odds and ends of things going on lately ... What a funny week weatherwise, huh? Wednesday afternoon we go for a late lunch after getting the car serviced and we eat outside for the first time this year. Since it's spring break on campus, it is possible to park, so we go to the place with the great French onion soup.
 The outside tables are set up, and so here we are, eating and looking up at a blue blue sky and fluffy white clouds. After we eat, we run a couple of errands and an hour later we're heading home when ... the wind picks, the sky turns gray and large black clouds appear, the air smells different, and the temperature drops drastically. Yup, ol' winter came back for one more round right at that moment. Maybe the cold will keep the daffodils from finishing up too soon (a few days of heat finished off the early reticulata irises).

Spent the later part of the week finishing Joyce Carol Oates's new memoir A Widow's Story. It would be very difficult to have read ALL of JCO's books because she is so enormously prolific and wide-ranging, but I have read a good number of the novels and would say I am a fan. I don't usually go for memoirs, but I made an exception in this case. What an amazing book! So intensely personal and yet so accessible, so universal in its poignancy, its very intimacy. She lets the reader inside her mind, her heart, and her marriage in a heartrending way.

Now I've started Susan Vreeland's Clara and Mr. Tiffany, historical fiction set in NYC at the turn of the century in the famous stained glass studio where a crew of women artists are creating the masterpieces that will be shown at the Chicago exposition and introduce the world of amazing Tiffany glass art.

By Saturday night, we had to wear winter coats and hats and nearly froze coming out from the Mean Lids gig at 8:30!
Mean Lids refers to the cool hats that these guys like to wear at each gig. We had seem Miriam Larson and Ben Smith at a library concert a while back when Matt Turino couldn't join them. And we knew Ben Smith's wonderful violin performances when he played the Stephan Grappelli parts in the Music of Django Reinhardt (we miss him there!). But we had not heard the three all playing together and it was a real treat!
Ben is a prodigious talent with both the fiddle and the banjo! Matt plays a mean guitar indeed and fiddle as well. Miriam loves to switch instruments from her incredible flute to kazoo, Jew's harp, train whistle, washboard, and any number of other amazing devices. All three sing wonderfully well too! And what kind of music do they play? It's a bit hard to define, but it's an intriguing mix, all skillfully done and a joy to hear. There's a fair amount of Irish folk music, some haunting waltzes, old-timey swing tunes, even a Patsy Cline song, and lots of astonishingly good originals composed by the members of the band. They are not only consumate musicians and laid-back and entertaining performers, but admirable composers as well.
There was a good sized crowd and it was nice to see a handsome and graceful couple who not only knew how to do swing dancing par excellence but who could also waltz! A dance and a type of music with a long and noble history that isn't over yet!

They say it could snow tonight, but it doesn't look like it's gonna happen here anyway. Next week is my birthday, so I'm hoping spring will return just in time! We've got the crew from LetUsGetDirtyForYou coming on Monday to  begin the garden clean-up, put out the chairs and benches, and get the pots ready for this year's annuals. It's my favorite time of year!

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