Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spilled milk, Purcell and Schubert

So this has been an exciting day up to now. It started out
innocently, then Handsome Partner took a bad fall in the bathroom, but recovered
well enough, was eating breakfast when I left to take the car in for
routine, famous last words, state inspection and oil change.

HP is fine, by the way, I was just worrying about him while I was
out, but things turned a bit pear shaped.

First, the dealership where I get the inspection done (far better to
have friendly mechanics than rotten State inspectors at their own
station) found I needed new bushings or my suspension system was on
its way out, couldn't pass inspection that way, then I needed two
new tires, too bald to pass inspection, which meant realignment plus
the inspection fee. The oil change went smoothly.....but it meant
that instead of waiting in their cosy waiting room with the plants
and the coffee and a very entertaining little boy to amuse me, it
would be several hours' of work. I will be lucky if the bill comes
to less than a thousand dollars...

So I asked if they could give me a loaner for the day, and I could
come back later for my own veehickle. Fine, they would. Then the
Avis woman showed up, gave me a ride to their agency (they used to
deliver cars, evidently it's different now) in a massive minivan,
which hurt my back climbing up into it, very very difficult for me.

So they finally after many phone calls established that this was a
loaner, not a rental, but the dealer had forgotten to do the
paperwork....and finally gave me something that looked nothing like
an ignition key.

And said since the minivan I'd been in was a bit difficult for me,
they'd give me a different --- minivan! no cars available, just
these giant ships. Gah. I had literally never even sat in one
before. The woman had to show me how and where to put the weird
plastic thing into the ignition, I felt so dumb! and how to change
gears -- that tiny knob on the dash is the gear knob, evidently.
She assured me that handling was fine, not to worry....

So I did manage to get home, in great fear and trepidation, this is
not traffic for learning in, and stopped at the store on the way
because we needed milk urgently and a couple of other things, and I
was damned if I was gong to take this bus out before I have to go
back for my car.

Luckily they put the milk into a bag, though they try not to use
bags these days, because I had trouble lifting it all high enough to
get it into the passenger seat (could not fathom how to unlock any
of the other doors, doh), and on the way home, the milk fell over,
the plastic jug split and milk started running all over the
van....except the little amount that remained in the jug and the

Much cleanup later, at home, of the van, the console, the floor, my
coat, my bag, not able to stop safely before then, no place to pull
over, and frantic searches for containers to put the rest of the
milk away in the fridge, I finally calmed down enough to make a cup
of coffee and whine at length to HP who was hugely sympathetic.

So if this was a day for it, I'd say it's actually okay to cry over
spilt milk...

We needed firewood, too, but I absolutely dared not think what would
happen if I attempted to load wood into this huge white bus with
Florida plates....We were amused by the Fla plates, since neighbors
probably think we have someone visiting who's so dumb they come
north in the winter!

Notes from later: nearly a thousand dollars poorer but with a safe and legal car, and the Moby Dick returned to the dealer, I did get firewood, which will be welcome this evening, since it's gone very very cold around this part of the world, just like most other parts of the world.

But here's where things are better: last evening was the January meeting of Princeton Recorder Society, hereinafter referred to as PRS, and the conductor was a wonderful musician, great musicologist and performer and lucky for us, local person, John Burkhalter, one of the most generous and kind of men.

Since he put together an evening to celebrate the 400th anniversaries of both Purcell and Handel, he had had some of the pieces mailed to him from friends in Germany, other pieces faxed from England, not yet in the new edition, but special permission from the editor for us to play them. We are amateurs, and this is very very flattering stuff!

As is John's approach to conducting: encouragement phrased in Noel Cowardesque phrases, things like: let us revisit the felicities in this passage! and this piece is bucolic, try to think of bucolic things. Not rowdy. Bucolic...

I was assigned to take pix for the PRS website, so I asked him ahead of time how he was with this, and promised not to be obtrusive as he conducted. To which he exclaimed, oh, but I love it! Obtrude all you like, my dear. Since he was celebrating Purcell, an English composer, he had brought a Union flag which he draped from his conducting rostrum! and when he wanted to illustrate a way to phrase a section, he would whip out pieces of recorder from various pockets, assemble them and then play like, oh, unbelievable and beautiful tone.

If you ever get the chance to hear him in concert, wait for nothing, grab it. He is a wonderful musician, now a fine recorderist, used to be a fine oboeist, was a boy soprano many decades ago. And a collector of antique instruments.

The Art Museum on the campus of Princeton University has a fantastic pre-Columbian collection of artifacts, many of which turn out to be sacred instruments, played by priest in the course of religious ceremonies. One time John was asked to play a selection of them, gads what a thrill, to see these wonderful clay and jade and stone instruments taken out of their cases with gloved hands, handed to him, and then played like an angel. the jade flute had the hugest sound you can imagine, big and round and mellow, and it's quite small in the player's hands.

So that's John B., and no wonder he has such a following!

So it's good that I was fortified by a wonderful evening of early music last night before today fell on me.

And then, just to show that the universe can be nice at times, on the way home in my own car, the local classical music station played a great arrangement of Schubert's Ave Maria, for violin and piano, and I joined in loudly, this being my party piece from years ago, and I sounded pretty good, to my audience of one!

Some people swear by Valium and TM, but music just about does it for me!


  1. I notice that in the header I wrote spilled, then in the body, I wrote spilt. this means that

    1. I am hopelessly indecisive

    2. I am very creative and want to use all the forms of a word

    3. I thought the double l spelling worked better with Purcell....

    choose one excuse.

  2. I'll choose #2. What a day ... I feel for you...hope you managed to get your firewood - perfect weather for it eh? I'll keep mny eye open for John Burkhalter... sounds amazing.

  3. 'turned pear shape' - that's a wonderful phrase, and I've never heard it before. I'm going to make a point of using it!


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