Thursday, February 27, 2014

Common Household Proverb: The Shower

Hearken to me, O woman, and learn that if, one day, you decide 
         to start a load of laundry consisting of all the dirty towels and then 
you decide to take a shower at that same time, then, O woman, 
do not cry out in surprise when 
          a) the shower’s springs of water have dried up like a wadi in the desert and 
          b) there is no towel nor any cloth to cast about you when you into the cold bathroom air step thereunto.   

Then does Wisdom cry out and laugh at your calamity.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Beethoven List

On her blog, Green Girl in Wisconsin asks what February accomplishment we are proud of.  Go there and do some bragging!

One of my accomplishments was to finish reading the biography of Beethoven that I started in January.  

Here are three things that I didn’t know about Beethoven.  I can sense your eager anticipation to read my list.

1. Beethoven was famous for improvisation.  The proof for this is found in the mall scene in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, where Beethoven improvises on a theme by Mozart.  Ludwig used to have improvisation contests with the other leading pianists of his day. Ironically, today nobody would dare improvise when playing Beethoven’s compositions. 

2. Among other instruments, Beethoven played the viola. 

3. As a composer, he was a procrastinator, often finishing the written score on the day before or the day of the performance. In one instance he decided to add a phalanx of trombones to the score of his composition (I forget which one) the day before it was to be performed, causing a mad scramble to find any and all trombonists in town.

There is also this, about Beethoven versus horn players:
Ries [Beethoven’s friend/student] was at Beethoven’s side as the orchestra rehearsed [the Eroica Symphony] for the first time. Ries states candidly that the rehearsal was ‘horrible’.  In bar 394, over extreme pianissimo first and second violins, the lone horn enters with the opening motif, before the full orchestra crashes in fortissimo for the recapitulation.
            Ries, assuming the horn player had mistimed his entry, said, “Can’t the damned horn player count?  That sounded dreadful!”  Beethoven looked witheringly at Ries and muttered that the horn player had played exactly what he had written.  Ries looked embarrassed and kept quiet.  He wrote later that he had come pretty close to receiving a box on the ear, and that Beethoven didn’t forgive him for a long time.  That horn entry has exercised musicologists and put the fear of God into horn-players ever since.                                  
                                        - Beethoven: The Man Revealed, by John Suchet.

My son the horn player swears that Beethoven didn’t write great horn parts, proof that the man just didn’t like horn players.

The book explains that Beethoven probably met Mozart and Haydn, but it did not answer the one question about Beethoven that everyone is asking: 

Did Beethoven ever meet The Doctor (as in Doctor Who)? 

My extensive google research reveals that the answer is yes, but I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, so I don’t believe it.

What’s your favorite Beethoven piece, dear reader?  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Winter of My Discontent

This is the way my day started out Thursday.
I don't understand why they never put the newspaper
in the newspaper box that they installed.
That is the newspaper, a good 5 feet from the front walk, resting on top of 6 inches of snow.  I know, prissy first-world problem, getting snow inside your boots when fetching the newspaper.  Add to that the fact that I went without my morning cup of tea, due to a doctor’s appointment, and that the week had been a trying one.  I was in a class A cranky mood. 

At noon I had to drive an hour across town to go to a church meeting, which meant, of course, that it was snowing (for the 800th time this winter).  After sloshing along for a while I got to the highway entrance, passing by a car that had smashed into the barrier. 

My directions said to get on Allegheny River Boulevard, a road I had never driven on.  There was now enough snow on the road that all-us who were foolish enough to be driving in it had to follow in the tracks of the car in front of us.  No lines were visible on the roadway.  I was in the right lane, but thought that it was going to be an exit-only lane soon, so I got in the middle lane.  There was one more lane to my left, and I thought, maybe that lane is in a better condition.  I decided to change lanes again, and then noticed that there was a car in that left lane, coming straight toward me.   Yikes!  I don’t know why I had assumed that the road was all one-way.  This near-error made me feel grateful and foolish all at the same time, and put me in me in an even lousier mood. 

Soon the road narrowed down to one lane.  The traffic stopped.  Why?  Because there was a big fat turkey crossing the road. I laughed out loud, thinking that here is God, telling me I am just as silly as a turkey. 

I got to the meeting, worshiped, listened, prayed, voted, but mostly just tried to stay awake.  After 3.5 hours of meeting, I had to leave to pick up Youngest Daughter at school, an hour’s drive away.  Just as I was getting lost on the drive back, YD texted me that the neighbor had showed up at school, and was taking her home.  Whew.

When I got home, I wearily opened the front door so I could start my next task: shoveling the front walk (for the 800th time this winter).  That’s when I saw the next miracle. The walk had already been shoveled!  My own teenager had done it!  Without being asked!  That never happens around here.
An ordinary front walk, miraculously shoveled
by teenager
The next day, Valentine’s Day, YD asked me who my valentine was.  I said, “Dad, and you and your brother and sister, and all the people who drive the snowplows.”

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Episode #357 In Which We Don't Shovel The Driveway

To hell with being a responsible citizen and shoveling the driveway first.  

WE WENT SLEDDING FIRST!  It's our version of the Winter Olympics.
A friendly wave from the Common Household Mom,
before heading down the steep slope.

Me, feeling triumphant over the snow and ice, because
for once, I'm not shoveling it.

Must walk back up.  No lift.

Younger Daughter likes sledding, too.
That's the unshoveled driveway, behind YD.

YD is especially fascinated by the layer of ice
that is under the top 3 or 4 inches of snow.

She tried to sell me this piece of ice.  I offered to pay
10 snowflakes for it.

 We did eventually shovel the driveway, after which it snowed some more.  Now we are staying inside.  Maybe until March.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Cookie Nazi in our midst

Back in January, we had this conversation about cookies.

Me:  Younger Daughter, let’s make cookies tomorrow.

YD:  No!  We should not make cookies because Dad should not be eating cookies.

Husband:  Besides, you don’t make the kind of cookies I like.

Me:  What kind of cookies do you like?

Husband:    You know the cookies at Ellen’s New Year’s Eve party?  The ones with the gooey stuff inside?  And then there were the cream-filled cookies.

[He is practically swooning, thinking about these cookies.]

Me:  No, I don’t like cream-filled cookies.

Husband:    See?!  You like shortbread cookies, cut into shapes of who-knows-what.  You like Puritan cookies.  They are flat, like boards, and can be stacked, and they have no cream.

Me:  But they are so buttery and delicious tasting!  YD, let’s make cut-out cookies.  We never got to make them at Christmas-time.

YD:  We made an entire gingerbread house.

Me:   Oh, yeah...  How about pumpkin cookies?  They are like cake.

Husband:    Those are good.  They ARE like cake.

YD:  Dad should not be eating cake!