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Farewell, Great Lady

Clicking on the photo will take you to a pretty good iPhone video posted at YouTube of this entire talk. She speaks at a low volume, but it is otherwise clear. And I hope I haven't doomed its existence by sharing it here...but it's not like more than three or four people look at this page anyway, right?

She was wonderful to hear, and I'll never forget it.

Lily and Violet and Me: A Birthday Countdown Post

I've been writing about the Palm sisters for nearly ten years. Eventually something will come of it. Perhaps. This was from...2011? I should stop renaming files. Anyway, my supper tonight reminded me of them, except no whisky or cookies.


In the kitchen, Jack asked Violet, "Has the game begun? You wanna pretend nothing is happening so we'll enjoy it more when it does?" He was frustrated, and a little drunk.

"I was wrong. I mean, I didn't explain myself very well. Please give me a chance to do that later on?" Violet reached up and put her arms around his neck. "I'm not playing a game with you, Jack. I just have a complicated way of thinking things through sometimes. And we had such a great evening together, let's make sure we enjoy the rest of it, even if we can't get those two crazy kids out of here yet."

He kissed her lightly. "I love getting these little tastes of you, Violet. But they're making me hungry."

She laughed and said, "Let's have a snack now, and satisfy our appetites later." She went to her refrigerator and started pulling things out at random: salami, smoked provolone, olives, grapes, until Jack stopped her and said, "Are we having a snack or fortifying ourselves for battle?"

Violet said, "Oh. Oops. Well, okay, but here. Let's put these cookies on the tray. There always have to be cookies."

She started to carry the tray through the swinging door, but Jack stopped her. "Come here." He wrapped his arms around her and said, "None of my Italian aunts were sexy like you."

"Well, of course not, silly. They were all over thirty." She planted a quick kiss on his cheek, then grabbed the tray and went out before he could react.

Jack thought to himself, "Does everyone think I've only ever been interested in women half my age?" He sighed. "Well, they aren't going to think that anymore. The Queen of Seaview has me in her sights." He grinned at the thought. And decided he had a thirst for more of Robert's obnoxiously expensive whisky.

When they entered the sitting room, Robert was stretched out on the couch, and Lily was poking at the fire. Violet laid the tray on the coffee table and sat down on the loveseat with Jack. He pulled her a bit closer and put his arm around her. Lily smiled, but said nothing except, "Ooh, is this the good salami from the city? Here, Robert, try this. Wrap it around a piece of the cheese."

Robert shook his head and looked around at him. "Sometimes you all eat like you just got off the boat. And none of you has ever even seen the coastline of Italy."

"Hey, that's right," Jack said. "You're the only one of us who's ever been there. You get a look at Abruzzo? Dean Martin's family is from there, too, you know?"

"Yes, Jack, in fact, I made a special stop there just to visit the cemetery of Dean Martin's ancestors." Robert rolled his eyes. "No, I've mostly visited the north. But I did see a bit of Sicily not too long ago, where half of the rest of Seaview's great-grandparents are buried. Not that I was visiting cemeteries..." His mind wandered back to a mountainside terrace, a bottle of red wine, a lovely widowed signora who offered him her company one summer weekend...it was hot down in the valley, but the cool mountain breezes were delicious, and so was Annamaria.

He and Jack exchanged a look. Jack refilled his glass. Last night he only pretended to drink as much as his young theatre crew. Tonight, it seemed like a good idea to tie one on. He held the glass up to Robert, who lifted his own, and said, "Salute."

They both knocked back their drinks and Robert refilled them. Lily and Violet ate cookies and watched.

"These cookies sure are good with this whisky, Violet," Lily said.

"They sure are, Lily. I wonder if the Scotch distillers thought about that while they were crafting their recipe."


I remember, I remember

Visiting cemeteries on Memorial Day when I was a child. Just whoever was dead and around, you know, but of course it didn't start out that way. Here's information I culled about Memorial Day, and how it is different from Veteran's Day (and to my mind, should remain so.) I liked our cemetery tradition, I mean, I like how that's what it became. But as I grow older, I'm more connected to more history, and I like that, as well.

Yesterday at Kroger, veterans were handing out paper poppies for Memorial Day. They are to honor the war dead, of course, and I got to thinking about how people confuse that with Veterans Day, maybe because of how Remembrance Day is honored overseas.

You see, Memorial Day began here after the Civil War, but the poppy tradition was added after World War 1, and that tradition is followed in the UK and Canada, and a few other places, specifically on November 11. The first poppy was worn by an American in 1918 as a symbol of remembrance, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Field," by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian doctor who fought in the war. And because we already had Memorial Day, when Armistice (now Veterans) Day in the U.S. was established, it was to honor all veterans, living and dead. Of course, no one then wanted to imagine another such war could occur...

So here's some information on Memorial Day, from the VA, and from a quiz at this blog: http://carolyncholland.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/11-facts-about-memorial-day/ I left out her bonus question as it was not quite correct, though mostly.

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Why was May 30 chosen as Memorial Day?
 —The last Monday of May was chosen to coincide with the time when flowers would be blooming all over the country.
What was the first state to officially recognize Memorial Day?
—New York
How do the soldiers of the 3rd U. S. Infantry participate in Memorial Day?
—Since the late 1950s, on the Thursday just before Memorial Day, around 1200 soldiers of the 3rd US Infantry place small American flags at each of more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.
What does the National Moment of Remembrance Resolution ask Americans to do on Memorial Day?
—Americans are asked to observe a moment of remembrance and respect by pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence, or listening to taps, at 3:00 p. m.
Who presided over the first Memorial Day?
—General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant
When was Memorial Day first celebrated?
—May 30, 1868. It was observed by placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers during the first national celebration. Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which around 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.
What is the birthplace of Memorial Day?
—Waterloo, N.Y. is considered its birthplace because the residents were the first people to proclaim a day, May 5, 1866, to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War. They closed their businesses and placed flowers and flags on the graves of their soldiers.
When did Congress declare Memorial Day a national holiday?
When should the American flag be raised from half staff to full staff on Memorial Day?
—At noon.
Who was General John A. Logan?
—Maj. Logan was the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union Civil War Veterans, who took charge of Memorial Day celebrations in the Northern States. He first declared Memorial Day a special day to honor Union soldiers killed in battle.


Okay, so where was I?

Funny how that one day with Typepad Down just as I was establishing the every morning blog habit set me back so completely I was marathoning old episodes of Midsomer Murrrrhdhers before I even knew what happened to me. So, and then I was very busy all day today and tonight I found myself inexplicably involved in three different "social media" networks before I took hold of myself, and here we are. I woke up with "Divine Thing" by the Soup Dragons in my head, but that was just ages ago. And we waited all day for a storm that finally just sort of limped its way through like a silver-haired devil in a '71 Cutlass who couldn't even be bothered to swallow that pill, because he was into the road trip and didn't feel like stopping by after all.

This morning I pissed off, like, eight people at Google Plus, not people I consider friends, but friends of? Kind of ruthless at them with their lack of sense-making until I wised up and started cooking stuff instead. I should have a little strip to apply to my skin which would change colors depending on how patient I could be at a given time with other people who feel the need to broadcast stuff better kept in their heads. Like those temperature strips we put on babies before the 3 second thermometer was invented. An early warning system.

I took some really nice photos of flowers today, and the opera tickets arrived, and I noticed a bit of color on two of the Indigo Rose tomatoes, but I'm not sure they are at their optimal size yet, so that might not be great. It's weird for there to be tomatoes this early, but I'm just going with it. I figure a few can come early if they like, then the others will appear around the time they're actually meant to.

This turned out interestingly, I think.



A YouTube argument for every single thing ever, there is.

Me, I'd have quibbled more about the choreography than the extra note at the end, could I be made to care about that.

The bits in Italian in these screen shots range from "Eh, it's been a lot worse," to "it's just that the recording is bad," to "if it was an unknown singer, he'd be booed instead of praise." In other words, same old thing.

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All systems are go

Yeah, I'm not super good at the title thing. A sort of linear focus might enhance "readership" or whatever, but, whatever. The Birthday Countdown begins! And I am going to do something I enjoy now and then, share bits of thing I've written in the past. Actual serendipity has caused me to have indigo in my head lately. I keep running across references to it, and this bit of writing from 1997 appeared yesterday while I was searching for something else.

To think I was 32 years old then! I hadn't yet given birth to the Youngest Beauty! I marvel at this. Hmm, and that means I weighed only about 120 lbs, as well. Best not to dwell on that.

mood indigo, 1997
muted music floating up from the room below
dancing, swaying, tipsy together across this creaky floor,
and you, whispering tasty lies, nibbling my ear,
tellling me all those things every wide-eyed girl
in her best blue dress yearns to hear
The Sinatra recording is from In the Wee Small Hours, his first concept album, and it was just around that time I first heard it and...was kind of disappointed. Everyone told me it was so amazing, and I didn't really enjoy it very much. But last night I was listening to Nice and Easy, and thinking about how as I've gotten older, my Sinatra taste has changed and expanded. Now it occurs to me he was still alive then! Gosh.
There's always just been something very groovy about a man in his 40s; in command of who he is and what he enjoys about life, but lately, I'm growing more comfortable with the idea that a man in his 50s might still also be pretty all right.
Epicurus said, "It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life." Can any of us honestly apprehend and apply this philosophy without having first had "that mood indigo?" People try selfishly, but they leave parts of it out. Hopefully, they grow wiser with experience. I think we can continue to develop inner reflection while still (and more) fully appreciating and embracing our personal relationships.

Sunday: serendipity, I guess

What I mean is, not really serendipity unless perhaps...but that's for a later paragraph. I mean...a collection of this and that, from the past few days.

Last night I bought two tickets to see the Cincinnati Opera perform Carmen next month. I'm going to take my son who is nearly 16, and here's why. He is the least interested in music of anyone I've ever known. In our large family, that's a considerable thing to behold, because the rest of us are pretty much fully immersed in music all of the time. He never actively chooses to listen to some. Ever. He can't name a band or style he likes, because he doesn't know any.

And yet. He often has a tune in his head, going around humming, and it's usually orchestral. If you asked him about it, he'd seem unaware. But once in awhile he'll hum something and wish to know what it is, and it'll turn out to be from a movie soundtrack or an old symphony excerpted in a cartoon like Family Guy or The Simpsons.

I believe he will like the spectacle of live music performed this way, especially music with which he has real familiarity, partly because I'm inclined to wake them by singing in a shouty falsetto voice, "L'amour est enfant de Boheme," and partly because bits of it show up in all kinds of things. And of course, it's a torrid story, with lots of chaos and carrying on. TheronMuch too tall to someday be someone's opera boyfriend, besides the fact that none of us has ever heard him sing.

The opera is pretty expensive. I buy half price ticket packages to the symphony, so I was not thrilled with the amount, but these things do cost a lot to put on. For the symphony, I sit way up high in the gallery in section Q, which is right in the center, and it's a great view of the orchestra. Also, the people around me tend to be there for the music, rather than to Attend the Symphony. I entertained the idea of sitting up there with the boy for Carmen, and had an amusing moment or two imagining a Cincinnati version of the loggionisti, up there hollering at the tenor for flubbing a phrase, and throwing cold Belgian waffles or whatever, but that's probably not going to happen. Still, the people will appear tiny on stage from the upper gallery, so I opted for the next level down, not quite in the center, for $20 more per seat. We should be just below the view on the left side in this photo.

I get it about purists, but not really. Innovation is all that will save opera. Nothing has to be all or nothing at all; it can be what it is and still move with the times.

Oh! About the serendipity. Exactly
If you saw that clue and thought to yourself, "What's 4 divided by 15?" We need to meet because we are probably soul mates. Unless you're in an institution which allows only monthly visitors.

There was more to this, or meant to be, but I'll save it for another time.

Every little thing the Reflex does

God (or Bob, if you prefer, but I'm closely related to one of those,) help me when this song pops into my head, which it does with magnificently awful regularity. It's like a stand-in, when nothing else is going on in there. I don't hate "The Reflex" or anything; prefer post-2004 Duran Duran, but we can all make our peace with the loudest part of the mid-80s if we just set our minds to it.

And this is the sort of thing which denotes why I'll never have a huge blog following. With that, too, I have made peace.

I've been enjoying my Typepad home again quite a lot since I cleaned out the closets here. It feels fresh and welcoming again. I added a new page you can look at, but won't be sharing links from it often; it's just big pictures I take or arrange to capture a thought or a moment. Visual haiku. I tend to use the supplementary pages in seasons or spells, so right now I aim to have at least a weekly update on the garden one. You could look at it this way: this page is the main area where I offer your coffee or a cocktail, because I always have a room in my house just for that purpose, even though I never have any real live friends to put in it. I have the albums in here, and some interesting books and old magazines to look at. Sometimes we talk about what's going on in the world right now.

But then once in awhile we go back to the living room to watch an old movie, or I feed you (because I really like feeding people) while fussing a bit in the kitchen. Now and then we head straight for the deck to watch the light glint across the pool or pick some cherry tomatoes or flowers.

And that's this blog with its four side pages, linked at the top.

I have the house to myself all afternoon, and if I hadn't been fairly useless the past couple of days, I'd add tiny flowers to this canvas I painted years ago in a fit of black anger. I have never since that time bought black paint, because if you don't have it, you can't use it, can you? And it's better to mix the right dark, anyway. However, the main floor is starting to sulk from lack of attention, and the chicken in the refrigerator won't fry itself, so all that comes first. And therefore, I'm determined to listen to some good music while attending to it all, so that "The Reflex" is banished from the old thinking pan for a few days, at least.

Last weekend, I saw La Cenerentola, again alone because of timing, and it was wonderful and so disappointing. Here is a screenshot of how one of the interviews looked; I found it online. Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 7.24.31 PMThat's Deborah Voigt speaking with the stars, Joyce DiDinato and Juan Diego Flórez. This was Ms DiDinato's final performance in the role, for which she is well-known. And she was beautiful to hear. He was excellent. However, this is how we saw the entire thing at Milford 16:

MilfordviewIt was just awful to watch; the entire performance rendered so, and nothing the technician could do would fix it. We were in a different theater than usual, and somehow that must have been the key to the trouble. But they didn't offer a partial refund or discount or anything to me and the half dozen elderly in the audience. And it's too bad, because if they had, I'd have returned on Wednesday to see it again and see who else was in the audience...

And for some reason, this is now the song floating through my head, and I can now go make peace with all the rest of the day.  

Friday Five: Cowboy Bill

Okay, sorta. This kept morphing into one idea, then another. First, a huge young portrait you can see larger if you click on it.

Three from Alvarez Kelly, 1966.
An odd one from Escape from Fort Bravo, 1953
And this brings us to five, but I feel I owe something to dear old lostie, who's been patient with me about DINAO, and also is tweeting the most hilarious European vacation travelogue ever, so here's a comparison, and anyone who cares to may choose which Holden chest they prefer.


I much prefer the real thing to the shaved version, but it was considered a more youthful look. I resent Picnic kinda like I resent Sabrina, except backwards, maybe. Humphrey Bogart as Linus Larrabee was absurd. David could have run me over with his car and I'd have stayed with him over that guy. But if Joseph Cotten had played Linus, as he did on Broadway, I'd be satisfied. In Picnic, though, my boyfriend Bill is kinda like Bogart as Linus; he did a great job but it was all wrong.