Friday, November 22, 2013

Rehearsing with Monteverdi

On November 21, 1615, Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi sent the score of a new choral work to a friend at the court of the Duke of Mantua, hoping that the friend would perform the music and that Duke would be inspired to commission more – and larger – works. In a letter that accompanied the score, Monteverdi gave detailed instructions as to the positioning of the vocal and instrumental musicians, and added, “If you could let the singers and players see it for an hour before His Highness hears it, it would be a very good thing indeed.” 

“The discomfort of thought”

“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
—John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Still Life

This really existed in my kitchen.

Photo by Quodlibet © 2013
23 October 2013

All rights reserved

Bare ruined choirs

Sonnet 73: That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold
By William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dupré: The Haymakers

D and I have been enjoying explorations of the many fine art museums in our area. I enjoy taking photos (only where permitted) to document my experience with certain works of art that move and delight me. The photo series also show how I tend to experience art, starting with a wide perspective, then focusing in on layers and details. I always read the museum placards, and photograph them, too.

Since I have a fine collection of these photo essays, I'll post some of them here. The accompanying texts are copied from my photos of the placards. 

Several weeks ago, we visited the Worcester Art Museum for the first time; it's a lovely building with a very good collection. Recommended. 

This painting by Julien Dupré really captured my imagination:

Creature Comforts

For the past several weeks, I’ve been using a heating pad wherever I sit at home, in an effort to keep my sore back from seizing up. It helps.

I sewed a large piece of elastic onto the pad, so I can secure it to whatever chair I need to use. This keeps it in place right where I need it.

The other day I was working in the kitchen, heating pad in place. I got up for one minute to pour some tea, and when I turned back, there was Ron, all snuggled in and ready for a nap.

Stepping Out

These days I am so overwhelmed with work that I’ve hardly had a moment to step away from my desk. But the other day I did step out for just a moment; I heard the blue jays screaming, and that usually means that there’s a raptor in the neighborhood. Sure enough, when I stepped out and looked up, there was our resident Red-tailed Hawk gliding away over the tree-tops. While I was looking up, I noticed the last golden needles on our larch (tamarack), touched by the morning sun:

I scattered some seed under the hedgerow for the birds, and took a moment to admire the bittersweet.

Glad I stepped out, even for a moment.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spelling Lessons


In describing her delighted response to the [supposed] “cuteness” of the trailer, the author wrote:

I heard myself emitting such high-pitched screeching noises that it was as if I were two 16-year-old girls, meeting each other after an absence of three hours. Imagine it in the key of E sharp: “Oh, my God, it’s perfect. And nobody has slept in it yet? Oh, who cares if there’s no plumbing? It’s so cuuuute!”

When I read “E-sharp,” it made perfect sense to me. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that in the comments appended to the article, many readers questioned the author’s use of “E-sharp” rather than “F-natural” or “F major.” One commenter said, “E Sharp is the same as F natural. So are the keys.”

Naturally, I couldn’t resist responding thus (edited slightly from my original posting, both for clarity and to add a link):

“The era of wild apples”

“The era of wild apples will soon be over. I wander through old orchards of great extent, now all gone to decay, all of native fruit which for the most part went to the cider-mill. But since the temperance reform and the general introduction of grafted fruit, no wild apples, such as I see everywhere in deserted pastures, and where the woods have grown up among them, are set out. I fear that he who walks over these hills a century hence will not know the pleasure of knocking off wild apples. Ah, poor man! there are many pleasures which he will be debarred from.”

—From the Journal of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), November 16, 1850.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English?


This list is described as “The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English.” Well, they are lovely words, and many of them are my favorites, but the negative connotations of some of them detract from their loveliness. I’ve highlighted in italics my favorites.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Michelangelo: Capella Sistina

[Due to technical difficulties, I was not able to post this on November 1 as planned.]

From The Writer’s Almanac:

Today is All Saints' Day, and Pope Julius II chose this day in 1512 to display Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for the first time.