April 29, 2018

Thank You Mrs. Clancy

From the time I was in fourth grade until eighth grade, every Tuesday after school I walked up Sumner Avenue to Gillette, to sit next to Mrs. Clancy on her piano bench. From her spot beside me, she was my piano teacher, starting with the one-note song ‘This My Friends Is Middle C’ and ending in my final recital playing a Rachmaninoff Concerto, clearly marked on the sheet music cover as ‘arranged for small hands’. In between, the lessons moved through volumes of Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics with their familiar yellow covers, green printing and G. Schirmer coat of arms. There was Book l, Czerny, The School of Velocity, Book ll, Selected Piano Solos by Romantic Composers, and countless other similar titles, of little interest to a preteen child. Had I only noticed the Latin motto on the coat of arms I might have more fully enjoyed my ‘laborum dulce lenimen’, or ‘of work sweet soothing’. To me, it was anything but, just lots of practicing and time away from everything else I wanted to do at that age.

Throughout the years following the end of lessons, I sporadically played music of my own choosing — lots of show tunes, whatever songs were currently popular, nothing classical — on our family piano and then wherever I could find one, in my college dorms, on summer jobs, at friends. It was not until I moved to Buffalo, New York that I found myself with no access to a piano. One day I passed by a window displaying a well-used baby grand, and realized what I was missing. As a newly wed with a husband in school, I feared my chances of a purchase were slim, but the next day I went back to the store to ask the all-important question of price. It was $100 delivered, with the old bench thrown in for free, and it was mine. In the past 50-years that piano has traveled with me from Buffalo to Springfield, to Boston, to California and back to Boston, always making me ask if it’s worth the cost of moving it, and always answering absolutely yes.

In that time, I’ve gone from complete avoidance to searching out those familiar yellow and green Schirmer volumes, relishing their challenges and even, and especially, the practice they require. My current favorite is another Book l, but now it’s Beethoven Sonatas. I open the book and I hear Mrs. Clancy counting out the time and reminding me of the fingering. I wish she could answer my questions about some of the notations and help me figure out how to play triplets in one hand while the other plays eighth notes. Perhaps we could discuss, or more likely chuckle over, whether the page note is my answer. It says in part, ‘It appears advisable slightly to hasten this measure and the next, and then to retard the third not inconsiderably; the former on account of the cessation in the harmonic advance, the latter by reason of the varied modulation, with must be quite free from disquieting haste in its return to the theme’. If that is the answer and I get the timing right, then she might sense my pure joy in feeling how Beethoven’s music just flows and grows so I feel compelled to keep on playing and playing to experience the wonder of it all. I’m no longer practicing. I play because I love it. It is finally ‘laborum dulce lenimen’. And that’s why I say ‘thank you’ Mrs. Clancy. I hope you hear me.

April 23, 2018

Back to the Blog

Thanks to much urging from Peter and a bit of inspiration from Jason, I’m going to start up heyjud again. I've got a few ideas for what I want to blog about, but right now this is just a test to see if this thing still works.

October 14, 2015

Obey Decay

So it's been awhile but I've been thinking about getting back to blogging for some time now. Just lately though, there have been more small moments to share so here goes.

I often walk around the Union Square area, particularly when my car is in the shop at Mike's Auto. I time it so I can drop off the car, walk over to Atelier Pilates for class, stop for coffee at Bloc 11 and then pick up the car. Oh, and there's usually time and the need for a Market Basket stop, which brings me my right past this graffitied building on my way back to the garage.

Some time ago, I think maybe around the time there was an Obey exhibition at the ICA, a number of buildings around Boston and Cambridge were papered with the work of Shepard Fairey. I don't know how many of them are still around, but this one is, and I like it all the better for its worn and weathered look. Some spots have been tagged on top, adding another layer to the raw feel of the art work. It all contributes to what I call Obey decay.





November 1, 2013

Montreal Visit


In lieu of Paris, we'll always have Montreal - the site of a terrific visit this past month with Trudy. Our loft rental was spectacular, with everything I would want in a place of my own except for missing a spatula. Though the eggs were hard to get out of the pan, given the chance, I would happily move right in. We spent our days flaneuring, so there was shopping, museum and church visits, wonderful lunches, and one late afternoon we had drinks at the Ritz bar to reminisce about Trudy and Bob's honeymoon, spent there 52 years ago. Because it was the World Series and because the Red Sox were playing and because the loft had a giant TV, we ate in two of the nights to watch the game. The third night with no Sox on, we opted for the traditional French restaurant, L'Express, which was a lot like eating at our Paris favorite, Brasserie Balzar. I'm really glad we visited, because now I know just where to go when I need a quick Paris fix.

September 4, 2013

Sconset and Sankaty and Lunch

Not suspecting that the next week would be too cloudy for beach days, we sacrificed a glorious day to drive to Sconset at the other end of the island. We walked up and down the narrow streets, passing one after another, quaint, perfectly picturesque cottages. At lunch, the kids (and Meg) were unaware Peter was taking closeups of them, with his camera just sitting on the table. Afterwards, we drove around by Sankaty Light, in its new inland location but again starting to look perilously close to the sea. The kids got in plenty of running before we drove home. Here are some pictures.

September 2, 2013

At the Beach on Nantucket

So we spent all the sunny days on the beach, mostly in the first week we were there when Mike and Leesee were with us. Ollie got his skimming prowess from last summer back and Minna gave it a great try. She was more into the boogie board though, and towards the end of our stay, seriously got into diving in the waves at Washing Pond. During the week, swimming was led by Minna who never seemed to get cold, beachcombing involved everyone and there was lots of playtime where Leesee was the favorite playmate. The big hit was her wax animals, made from the leftover coating around the round cheeses we brought to the beach for lunch. What a treat to have everyone together at Washing Pond, not the Dionis of old, but very similar and less crowded. We also spent a cold and breezy day at Miacomet, where the pond looks very different but was still great for skim boarding and a Minna swim. See it here.

July 22, 2013

July Week in Vermont

We spent the first week of July in Vermont, celebrating Ollie's birthday and the 4th of July with friends and family. The kids show best what fun it was.

June 12, 2013

Night Light

The winds were so strong all afternoon, the trees twirled and writhed in it. Up on the deck after supper, a black sky was underlit by the still bright sun. The storm that seemed certain never came though.

June 7, 2013

When the Time Comes


So here's what I want to accompany me when I need some extra stability, that is when Peter's not still gallantly holding my elbow. They're available at A+R Global Design. I just hope they'll still be on sale when I'm ready.

Update - 7/22/13
Seems they're no longer carried by A+R but you can get them directly from the maker, Omhu.

Exploring Providence

Every year when Peter attends the EDRA conference I go along. It's been in lots of great cities but this year it was in nearby Providence, which turns out to be a truly great city as well. The whole place is especially walkable, from Down City across to RISD and up to Brown. The art school influence is strong with lots of unique and well-curated small shops and there are fabulous residential loft buildings right in the heart of downtown. Add to that great food - particularly at a restaurant called New Rivers - excellent coffee and one of the season's first Water Fire events, all of which made for a very special visit. I'm ready to go back anytime, a good possibility since it's less than an hour's drive from Boston. Here's a mixture of photos from the trip.


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