Monday, April 27, 2009

Unfinished symphonies

On Saturday night, I went to the final season performance of the Boulder Philharmonic. The evening followed a program I attended which featured a very inspirational speaker. It was delightful to listen to the orchestra and think about the new things I had learned.

I don't know squat about music, but I've been fortunate enough to have attended most of the Boulder Phil's performances for the past few years, and I've discovered that my favorites are the ones that featured violin or piano soloists. This one had a guest pianist who was out of this world. The orchestra accompanied him on Braham's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major. The other piece was Schubert's No. 8 in B Minor ("Unfinished"). Yes, it actually says 'unfinished' in the title.

I'm such an ignoramus when it comes to music. Several years of piano lessons were totally wasted on me. It's ironic that one of the people I go to the concerts with is my former piano teacher!

"Unfinished Symphony" makes me think that the music must just stop mid-measure somewhere. I imagine how surprised the orchestra would look. Now what? Of course, the music doesn't do that, but instead the piece has just two movements when the traditional symphony has four. There are different theories as to why this is. Some scholars debate that there was a sketch for a third part and perhaps Schubert just never got around to finishing it. Some feel that he never intended it to have four parts, that he said all he needed to in the first two.

Apparently Schubert left behind many half-finished works. He was only 31 years old when he died in 1828 and, like many musicians who have become famous, he nor his music were very well known until after he died. In fact, and this is the part that just amazes me, he probably never even heard his music performed! Maybe that's the reason he gave up on it.

I can't imagine the dedication it would take to give your life to something, knowing that you may not ever even see or hear the finished product. It got me to thinking about other people who have done the same. There's Korczak Ziolkowski, who had a vision to carve a sculpture of Chief Crazy Horse in a stone mountain in South Dakota, back in 1938. He knew that he would never see the project completed, but he dedicated his life to it, and now his family carries on the dream.

There's the Unfinished Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. Antoni Gaudí worked on it for over 40 years before his untimely death in 1926. I'm sure he didn't intend to die, leaving it unfinished, but he must have suspected it could happen, considering how long it was taking to build.

I think about my own life and what I would dedicate myself to, even if I knew that I might never live to see the "finished product." The only thing I can come up with is my children. Supposedly our job is finished when kids reach the age of 18, when they're all spit and polished and ready to go out into the world. We may be done paying insurance and food and housing (hopefully), but people are works in progress,even if they live to be 100. We raise our children the best we can, and pray them through the rest, and hope that they become happy, healthy, contributing members of society. Much of the time, we really won't know the outcome, at least not for a very long time.

We're all given gifts to use in our lives. We can ignore them, but hopefully we'll use them to enrich our lives so that when we're gone, perhaps we'll leave a bit of a song or at best some piece of beauty for the rest of the world to enjoy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Big Thaw


After three days of cold, wet, snowy weather, which dumped 12 inches of sloppy snow on us, we're back to sunshine and 60 degree temps. The gutters on the house have been trickling with water all morning and the streets are steamy with evaporating moisture.

Snowstorms in April aren't all that unusual for us, so we hunkered down and the days were well spent. I finished up the last of the Easter ham and made ham-corn chowder, ham bean soup to freeze, and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies while I was at it. All of this on Friday, when the kids were at school and it snowed non-stop all day. I put on HGTV and watched all my favorite shows while I cooked -- Designed to Sell, Decorating Sense and House Hunters.

Yesterday, snow-bound again, Dan finished building some bookcases in the loft. It feels like Christmas, as I'm unpacking all the boxes of books that we moved last August, as well as sewing and scrapbooking supplies that will go in the lower cabinets that he built. There are still doors to be put on the cabinets, but I can still fill them up and put things away. I have a thing about shelves and storage. It's a weird fetish, but it is so exciting to me to have a set of freshly painted, empty shelving to arrange with books, framed photos and memorabilia. Thankfully I have a husband who supports my habit and is talented to be able to build them.

Here's a glimpse of his handiwork:) The back of the shelves is bead board, painted a soft green, called Rye Grass. I'm so glad I married someone who understands angles and degrees and physics, because look at how nice the crown molding came out!

Across the room, which is still in construction mode, is a large farmstyle table which will serve as a desk. The bright sunny window begs for a windowseat, so that's next on my list. Here's some fabric for curtains and pillows for the overstuffed chair. Now, that I've shown you all the pieces, you'll have to wait for the final unveiling. Which could be very soon, or say sometime in 2012.

The best part is that I now have a place to spread out my scrapbooks and get caught up. The first job will be to complete Joe's. My friend Pamela still snarls at me when we talk scapbooking, since I convinced her 19 years ago that we should do them for our children. Of course at the time, we each had one and it seemed easy enough. Add five more kids (between the two of us) and I can see why she got a bit cranky at the mention of gluesticks and stickers. I tried to get my friend Kathy in on the fun, but as I recall it lasted one week and one page, before she gave up. (How's Tyler's scrapbook coming along, Kath?)

But, take heart, Pamela! Matty and Joey are all grown up now. Save for weddings and their election as president/VP of the United States, I'd say we're about done. After all, there's only so much a mother is obligated to do, right?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday, Monday

For Today...Monday, April 13, 2009

Outside my window...Sunny and moderately warm. Very much an April day.

I am thinking... of how nice it's been to have #1 son home this weekend. How much I loved having 20 of my favorite people for Easter dinner. How much I love Easter.

I am thankful for... Sandals. Homemade rolls -- when someone else makes them:) Comforters on beds. The Sound of Music playing on Easter night.

From the kitchen... Ham. Sliced, for sandwiches. Bone, for soup. Diced for quiche. More ham.

I am wearing... Jeans, flowered print blouse, sandals.

I am reading... The Dark Lantern, by Gerri Brightwell

I am hoping... to get some curtains hung this week.

I am creating... order out of chaos among my books.

Around the house... dining room table is stacked with china to be put away. A fridge full of leftovers, chocolate bunnies and stale Peeps.

One of my favorite things... coffee. I like the beverage, but really that it means taking time with family or a friend, talking and catching up.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Three baseball games, soccer game and practice, "Bible Study".

Here's a picture I'm sharing with you. . .

For more Daybooks, go see Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Baseball and bunnies and such

I am typing this with just one eye open, as it is late and I'm waiting for my son to call and tell me to come pick him up. The baseball team had a game wa-a-a-ay out in eastern Colorado. An hour and a half drive one way. And the bus was an hour and a half late coming to get the kids after school, so the game was delayed. Thankfully, both of my kids have a 'late start' tomorrow for school, so we can sleep in a bit.

Speaking of late starts, Spring seems to be having a tough time getting itself going this year. We had some beautiful weather in March -- in like a lamb -- and then towards the end of the month, the snows came. And stopped. And started again. And the month went out like a lion. I'm to the point where I just enjoy each beautiful day that comes along, as who knows what tomorrow will bring? I used to think that the expression, "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change," was unique to Colorado. But from reading other bloggers in different parts of the country, it seems that spring has the same, fickle personality everywhere.

I love it when Easter falls during the month of April. It seems that is where it belongs. Easter heralds the arrival of spring and has a better chance of doing so in April. Trudging through snow and slush to get to church, and hiding eggs when it's snowing outside. . . it just doesn't seem right.

There's a bunny that has been in residence in our back yard since we moved in last summer. He hides under the back deck and every so often I see him in the front yard, snuggled in beneath a potentilla bush. I'm surprised he hasn't moved out and found new digs, since our dog would like nothing better than to capture him. Not out of meaness, as Abby doesn't have a mean bone in her body. But, chasing critters is what dogs do, and she has been stealthy enough to capture birds and even a squirrel. I'm sure she'd love to add rabbit to her list of conquests.

Meanwhile, Luke texted me that the bus would soon be arriving, so I drove over to the high school to meet it. About a dozen cars waited under the lights in the otherwise deserted parking lot. Parents in the driver seats, leaning back and resting their eyes, longing for sleep. The bus lumbered in and a group of weary boys, lugging baseball bags and backpacks dragged themselves off and to their respective cars. On the way home, I got the play by play of the game, which was their first loss of the season. Bummer.

It's past midnight and time for bed. 'Night all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Favorites

Thanks to Susanne for doing Friday's Fave Five. Here are a few favorite parts of my week and some favorite things all around.

1. ER. What a great show. The series finale was on Thursday night. Thank goodness for Netflix, we'll get to watch it all over again.


2. Paint! I'm on a roll again, and spent Thursday painting the upstairs hallway and landing. In a matter of hours it was transformed from flat white to a soft, warm "Ripe Wheat." Now, I stand up there and feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair and imagine I'm out in a field. I live a simple life. Or is it that I'm really simple? Don't answer that.
3. Cookbooks. The small binder filled with copies of recipes written in my Grandmother's hand. A set covered with red check paper that belonged to my Gram. The Betty Crocker Cookbook that my mom got at one of her wedding showers. My own collection of Tea Recipes, Southwestern cooking, the Better Homes Cookbook that was a gift from my Aunt Sheila for my wedding shower. Souvenior cookbooks. Some of the books are worn and the pages are splattered from being used so many times. Others have been used only a few times, but I love just browsing through them. Cookbooks. Definitely a favorite.
4. Friday's have become a special day because it's when my aunt and I work together in our parish library. As the librarians, we've been sorting through the collection, and finding space for new books. It's satisfying to work side by side, accomplishing much, talking as we go or working in companionable silence. After a few hours, we go to Panera for lunch. Then, if the spirit moves us, we do a little shopping. Lovely way to end the week!
5. My new favorite drink. Starbucks shaken iced tea lemonade. Tastes just like the kind Mom used to make:)