Monday, September 29, 2003

Numbers that made up my weekend:

24 = number of jars of jelly/fruit I put up on Saturday
-4 apple/no pectin
-4 mint
-9 apple w/pectin
-7 blueberry applesauce

6 = types of perennials I identified in the box that my neighbor gave me on Sunday

9 = number of pounds I lost so far on the low carbohydrate diet I started two weeks ago

3 = piano teachers I'm talking to about lessons

1 = number of knitting projects completed this weekend

3 = number of UFOs (un finished objects) left in my knitting project pile

2 = movies I watched on 'GBH 44 dealing with infidelity and murder Sunday night ("The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "The Paradine Case" - Early Hitchcock, Early Gregory Peck. Sigh.)

90 = number of minutes I got to plunk out music on my instrument

0 = how many hikes I got to go on

4 = number of kitties I was taking care of this past week

63 = number of CDs I have for my halloween costume

37 = how many more I still need (hint hint)

Hope you had a good weekend. Mine was fair to middling. Decently productive, too.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Weird feeling today. Don't know if it's lack of sleep, the atmospheric pressure. Could have been my having eaten a muffin after two weeks of next to no complex carbs. Maybe a combination of all of the above. I'm thinking about next week and all its obligations and it's making me a wee bit jumpy.

Walked home after taking care of Pablo's cats, ran into my neighbors up the street - Sharon and Cynthia. Cynthia was dividing up the perennials and offered me a lot of different things that I don't have in my garden. I happily accepted it all. Their garden is one of the most beautiful in the neighborhood, and I know that the plants will be strong and healthy.

Cut down the mint to make jelly with. I was practically in raptures over the scent and the feel of the crushed leaves in my hands. So much so that I nearly drew a bath to throw it all into. Now what sort of bliss would that have been?

Also took care of the Deer Isle apples. I wouldn't know how to describe this little windfall I found in an orchard gone feral except as nuclear crabapples. Such beautiful little greenish fruits that made the most gorgeous, pectin laden juice I'd seen yet. It almost seems like a shame to dump all that sugar into it when it tastes so good as is...

Thursday, September 25, 2003

What a sad day! The Barnes Foundation, a private collection of art in Suburban Philadelphia has been pulled to pieces and now ceases to exist as its former owner had intended.

"Art Held Hostage"

I was lucky to have had the chance to visit it while it was still in its original home and order a number of years ago - back when there were just rumors of a major upset to the foundation.

What I loved about the Barnes was the the all encompassing nature of the collection and the eccentricity of its arrangement. Ancient Egyptian bas-reliefs would be hung on a wall next to Matisse canvases. Amish hex symbols could be placed near artifacts from Ancient Sumeria. The arrangement of the works did not try to follow whatever was hitting the Art Establishment at the time, but by Mr. Barnes's personal taste. I guess that many could consider the ordering of the pieces to be heteroclite. For me, though, (and many others no doubt), it just worked.

A few years ago, a number of the Barnes pieces made their way to the National Gallery for an exhibition. I had given thought to visiting, but decided against it. I have nothing against the original pieces in and of themselves.  However, as the exhibition was ostensibly about the Foundation itself, I didn't much want to see them out of their home and that particular context. For me it would be like travelling 1/2 way across the country to see pieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum outside of Gardener's awesome Italian Palazzo. Something would be missing.

It is a pity, with the increasing corporatization of artistic organizations, to see this sort of smothering of a small, independent collection like Barnes's. The exhibitions that I have seen of late often have been put together with the notion of drawing in as many people as possible to make money off of or of pushing whatever agenda is the rage in the academic world. University galleries nowadays seem to have a run of ham-handed, politically correct exhibitions where the visitor is subjected to patronizing notes about the importance of understanding that all cultures are rich and diverse, of the role of women in such and such society, etc. Some of it could have been helpful, but, more often than not the way in which the art was presented was bland, the information given was clicheed, banal.
(Perhaps these exhibitions were showing off the personalities of the curators?   If that is the case, I would say to lay off the ego and let the pieces speak for themselves.)

Without a doubt, the works that Barnes had collected will lose their context after a generation or so.  Seems to me that letting go of this context is a pity, given the blandness that is taking its place.  Seems also an unhappy thing to divide up and destroy a remaining manifestation of a strong, original, eccentric personality like his.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I am giddy, absolutely giddy.
You know that piano anthology that I had lost? Well, I wrote to what I thought was the publisher - being the customer that I so hated to deal with - no exact title, no editor, not sure of what was in it, only sort of knowing what the cover looked like. Turns out that Baerenreiter *was* the publisher - and not only was the book still in print - the wonderful customer service person I got (Hendrik) even told me who the painting on the cover was by.

Thrilled as I was about this - I actually did myself one better the evening of the response by finding the original book in addition to a bunch of other really neato stuff.

Monday, September 22, 2003

I don't know why I bother buying the French edition of Marie-Claire, really. I think I need a good dose of Anti-Americanism with my 101 fashion tips. It's a pity, because it didn't use to be the Jenny Jones freakshow peppered with stories about why such and such a problem is America's fault. Used to be good, practical stuff (recipes, inexpensive clothing ideas and human interest - women related articles). Decent light reading material to keep up my French.

One of the headlines for last month's magazine was, provocatively enough: "DERNIER FUREUR AUX ETATS-UNIS: L'ORGASME QUI DURE UNE HEURE." Hmm, I thought - latest rage, really? Why had I not heard of this? Where do I sign up for this amazing new breakthrough?

The story talked about a 'course' held in the San Francisco area (of course!) by a couple of self-proclaimed sexologues on how to have hour or more long orgasms. The money line from this was - and I'm paraphrasing: "in a country with the reputation for its ferocious puritanism, amateurs of the art of sensual pleasure who tend to come from urban areas are filling up the popular courses.

I don't need to go much further than to say that it all sounded like a sex show that you'd see advertised in the Phoenix here couched in terms of some holistic philosophy and sketchy credentials. (Both instructors were PhDs from the Love Institute, or something like that.)

I guess I was just amused at the whole premise: Americans who are at the same time perhaps looser than the average (I had experienced this a fair bit during my time there - confusion between liberty and libertinage, no doubt) and brutally puritanical looking for something new and gimmicky. I want my orgasm, and I want it supersized! It's amazing the gymnastics that one can go through to attempt to make a point.
Sort of made me think of this:

Lileks on the infamous Guardian Olive Garden Story

Enjoy the above. It's a hoot!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Yet another day of acting as the Cog in the Wheel down the tubes. Got home last night before sunset anyway. Felt really down and out. Decided that I needed to do some gardening. After about five minutes of deadheading marigolds, I was accosted by one of my new neighbors (tenants ousted from the area where they're constructing the new CVS).
After he decided that I wasn't a 'good neighbor,' Templeton, as I will call him, decided to pay a visit to my neighbor across the street. At least I'm assuming that from the sound of a scream and of something crashing onto the pavement.

Went back indoors to vegetate for a moment or two. I never seem to veg for more than that. Too much energy. Decided that I needed not just physical or mental exercise, but both together. Went through the milkcrate under my desk and the inside of my piano bench to see if there was anything playable at my current level of technic (I've forgotten more than I've learned, I think). Picked out a collection of Chopin Preludes & Etudes, some shorter works by Brahms, a Debussy collection and some easier works by Beethoven. Dusted off my Easy and Progressive Exercises by Czerny and all the volumes of Mikrokosmos and set to work. I managed to get through the Beethoven op 49 #1 with essentially two run throughs and about 2/3 of the way through the second Mikrokosmos book. Not a bad start, but I've a long ways to go.

I was hoping to find my book of early 20th century pieces put out by Baerenreiter. I think I lost it in a move. It's too bad, because there were a couple fun pieces in it by Hindemith and a nice atmospheric one (lots of pedal!) by Britten. If any of you sees a copy of it kicking around - grab it for me. It's got a sort of German Expressionist-looking cover to it and is called quite simply, 20th Century Piano Music. Baerenreiter Verlag. Won't have all my markings or fingerings - but we can't have everything.

Just about finished up the Joan McGowan angora thong I started knitting. Turquoise. Jingle bells. Apparently she used to be a designer for Fredericks. Love her stuff. Was inspired to buy her other two lingerie patterns:

White Lies Designs

I've something to look forward to in the mail, now.

WHRB was on a roll last night!

Harvard Radio

Heard a rocking recording of William Walton's "Balthazar's Feast" followed by another Swedish Nationalist composer who was not Hugo Alfven. Solo piano work. Sigh, a girl can dream. First easy Beethoven. Then Les Six again, then the Ginastera sonata. By then, I'll have tracked down the Enigmatic Swede.

Raphaella's home again. I thanked her for her generosity in tomatoes. I wonder if she realizes how many people she's made happy with them.

That's about it for now. I've more paper to push and numbers to massage. After that, more thought on the mayoral campaign, though I think I have a good idea as to my choice. Maybe I'll look to see if he needs any volunteers.

"that's Curta-tone, Bev. Curta-tone."

Oh yes, and I need to not buy water or batteries, as Isabel (poor, misunderstood Isabel!)'s slated to not arrive tonight or tomorrow sometime. Hmm. Maybe I'll not tape my windows as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Was talking to Pablo last night about the 'ontological reality of the criminal justice system.' He quoted a friend of ours - Mark, a physicist. Possibly one of the coolest people out there. "I've trained myself to mentally delete the word 'ontological' from any sentence I hear it in, as I've found that removing it doesn't tend to change the meaning of the statement.'

Sunday, September 14, 2003

What a nice weekend. I thought I might pick apples. I thought I might climb a mountain. Was much less out and about than that, which was good. I have been sooo tired of late. Just tromped around the neighborhood, cooked, rested.

Cooking's been a joy lately. I've finally gotten it together to enjoy nature's better late than never bounty. Raphaella gave me a bag of tomatoes. Little oval shaped 'plum' ones. One night, for an unexpected dinner guest, I made a bruschetta of this little windfall. Just chopped one up and mixed it with a bit of tuna and all manner of fins herbes from my garden. Tarragon, oregano, two kinds of thyme, rosmary. It's so nice to have a kitchen garden.
Tonight, for dinner, it was a few stalks of chives and handful of mint thrown into the romaine for a salad that really made us pay attention to what we were eating. You couldn't not notice it.

Visited the Tufts Art Center yesterday afternoon. Had wondered what they had by way of gallery space there. Was sort of disappointed, as they are Tufts, after all. And they give out an MFA in collaboration with the Museum School, for crying out loud. Oh well.

Today, just quiet. Got a visit from one of the mayoral candidates this afternoon. Okay, buddy. You're cute. You know it, I know it. You mentor kids. Where do you stand on the issues, like redeveloping the assembly square mall or closing harrington due to budget cuts? I need to figure this all out before the 23rd.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Just got home from another too long day. My Fearless Leader suggested to me that it might be a good idea to water my garden, so I did. You know, though I really didn't know what in the heck I was doing when I started on all this - I am really pleased with the results. Took to nearly autumn, but what a sweet little flowerbed we have in the front of the house. The zinnias (just bought a packet of seeds because they were on sale) are now starting to flower - big, puffy, red ones. The cosmos, relegated to the little patches I transplanted them to, are as tall as I am and full of light purple, pink and white blooms. The marigolds are green bushes with *sparks!* of yellow, gold, red, brown. I like to think that my two grandmas are keeping an eye on the yard (and me) as those were their favorite blooms. The dragon's blood has taken very nicely - it's developed into a creeping patch of something like low lying hen and chickens. Very strange plants, but quite pretty and understated. Not to mention sturdy. I love my wax begonias, geraniums and firecrackers. Will have to remember them for next year. In fact, if I could bring in some of the first two to keep me happy during winter and to transplant next spring - that would be nice.

Moving around among my charges tonight, giving them their drink and deadheading the ones that needed it, I got to feeling Sort of like how I would feel if I were to take the time to meditate again. Along with this state of well-being came a few conclusions about gardening, at least on my plot:

1.) Mulch is a girl's best friend. The more mulch and compost you mix into your soil, the more water is retained. Very good when you get periods of up to a month without any rain.

2.) Starting from seeds isn't as difficult as one would lead you to believe. Some of my prettiest plants came from seeds: the zinnias, the sweet little purple alyssum, the marigolds, the cosmos. I'm going to save some flower heads like I remember my grandmas doing and see what I can grow from them next spring.

4.) Share and share alike! Raphaella gave me marigolds last year that really cheered up things this summer. I gave away at least 75 hostas all over the neighborhood and brought back some herbs in exchange. This is another great, cheap way to mix it up in the garden. It's also just fun to share. Especially green, living things.

5.) Deadhead! Deadhead! Deadhead! Your blooms come back in profusion if you keep up with this.

6.) Don't get hung up on blueprints. Let nature drop some stuff here and there. I had a little volunteer jade plant pop up under a hedge. Marigolds and cosmos peeped out in the most unexpected places. This all added to the lightly structured chaos that I was sort of aiming for. I did download some free patterns for sun and shade gardens from the farmers' almanac, but really only for a sketch.

7.) Something catches your eye and it's cheap? Go for it...Often what I'd do is, on the way home from work, check out anything new and on sale at the local gardening place. If I had a spare $5-$10, I'd buy as much of it as I could and then plant it whereever I had the space. Yes, this is the magpie approach (bright and shiny! bright and shiny! mine! mine!), and it did result in sort of an organic crazy quilt, but I always was partial to crazy quilts.

8.) You can always try again next year if you're not nuts about what you did this year.

Some stuff I'd like to try: Maybe plant some more bulbs and incorporate bone meal into the soil. I planted around 150 bulbs this year and maybe 1/2 of them came up. Of those, 1/2 of them actually bloomed. It could have been the lack of sun and all the rain we got in the spring - but I wonder if my soil's too packed. I'll give that a try. A cold frame might be fun for me to attempt to raise my own seedlings. Oh, and maybe no vegetables this time. More herbs. They're darn easy and they smell wonderful.

Yes, one must tend to one's garden.