Music Ancient and Modern

The piece of vellum my niece sent me is authentic, a page from a fifteenth century Italian antiphonal hand lettered and notated (is that the right word?) in Gregorian chant. It’s worth about a hundred dollars. Cool!


When I was in US Navy boot camp about a thousand years ago, one of the songs we learned was “WAVES of the Navy,” which I have never forgotten. It’s a “counter melody” to “Anchors Aweigh,” and very pretty when sung with the latter. By the words you can tell this dates to the founding of Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES) in World War II. This past Sunday I was visiting a friend. She’s a musician and an avid looker-upper of things on the Internet. I mentioned that I had never heard that counter-melody outside of boot camp, and she picked up her iBook and seconds later presented me with several links. Here’s one. If you’re musically inclined, try playing it while listening to “Anchors Aweigh” and prepare to be charmed. (“. . . [He] will find ashore his man-size chore was done by a Navy Wave.”) The Internet is wonderful.

Waves of the Navy


There’s a ship sailing down the bay.
And she won’t slip into port again
Until that Victory Day.
Carry on for that gallant ship
And for every hero brave
Who will find ashore, his man-sized chore
Was done by a Navy WAVE.

Words by Betty St. Clair 
(Written to harmonize with “Anchors Aweigh”)

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It’s A Mystery To Me, Maybe

I sent a small needlepoint piece of a witch riding her broom across a full moon to my niece in Florida – but it never arrived. I didn’t insure it, just put it in a brown envelope and sent it off. I haven’t lost anything I’ve sent in the mail in a very long time, so this is baffling and aggravating.

It’s cool and damp this morning but supposed to be crazy hot tomorrow, the Grand Fourth, with a chance of thunderstorms in the evening. Bummer. We’ve got two guests coming over, will serve potato salad and coleslaw and watermelon and like that things for a light supper, then walk next door to the park to watch fireworks. I hope.

My niece sent me a lovely ancient piece of vellum that was a page in an Italian antiphonal to see if I could get it authenticated and perhaps valued. So far, no good, but I’ve got a few more places to inquire. I have a feeling there’s a mystery plot in this situation somewhere.

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Disappointed Plus

Ellen and I went to a Beer and Books event at a brewery this weekend. We sat for five hours and sold five books. Disappointed is not a strong-enough word for how we felt. There were about a dozen authors there from a number of genres – is that a word? – none of us really well known. Had some great conversations, didn’t drink any beer, but came away resolved not to do that again.

This morning I am having that broken tooth seen to. It’s to be pulled and the adjacent teeth ground to support a bridge. Ugh.

The writing has stopped again. I just can’t fall back into writing mode. Uff da!

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Tooth and Consequences

Well, it’s still Tuesday, isn’t it?

I had an early morning appointment with my dentist about a toothache that had slowly been getting worse over the past ten days or so.  I thought the worst that could happen was a root canal.  But he took one look and got out one of those teeny tiny cameras and showed me what the problem was: a crack in the tooth that had spread up under the gum.  The tooth was irreparable, it would have to be pulled and replaced with a bridge or an implant.  Either was going to cost thousands of dollars.  He was very nice about it.

I didn’t realize how shaken I was until this evening when Ellen noted that I hadn’t posted an entry on Killer Hobbies.

No, we don’t have dental insurance.  No, this won’t bankrupt us, but I’m sorry now for buying that Queen Anne Shilling.


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The Itsy Bitsy Spider

I forgot to write an entry for today because I was totally immersed in preparing a teaching job – of five-to-seven year olds. It’s a non-demoninational summer program at a local Presbyterian church, and I was substituting for another teacher, so only had to deal with these children for half a day. They were sweet children, but loud and exceedingly active. I decided to teach them how to write a story. I took “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” for my inspiration, a good choice because all the children knew the song. I challenged them into thinking what kind of spider it might be and why it wanted to climb up the water spout. I started them off by having them draw a picture of the spider, which they did enthusiastically. One boy named his spider “Death Spider” and colored it black with red horns, but the others chose less powerful names: Joe, Bitsy, Betty. After some discussion about whether or not bugs could taste good, they decided their spider wanted to get up to the roof, where there were more bugs to eat, and that’s why it started up the spout.

And that’s as far as we got with the story. We acted some of the action, rubbing our tummies in hunger, speculating whether the spider might eat worms (Ugh no!) when the bugs got scarce, struggling to climb the long, dark passage up the spout. We had only started to list the signs of a storm: darkening sky and the rumble of thunder, when we had to stop for a snack (cookies and string cheese), and then it was time to hit the rumpus room for ten minutes, and then learn some imaginative techniques for painting, before walking to a nearby park – and then the morning was ended, and I came home.

Whew! I couldn’t believe how hard it was to keep the attention of six youngsters, and these were good kids.  But it was fun and gave me a refreshed appreciation for the job of teaching.

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The Christmas stocking came back from the finisher and I’m still getting used to it. Without the surround of white canvas, it looks very dark. But the ornaments seem to float in the darkness. The beaded tassel at the toe needs a touch-up of added beads. I meant them to dribble off the toe and the dribblers got shortened when the finisher sewed the back onto the stocking – I was warned this would happen. So I’ve got just this tiny bit more to do and then it gets put away until August, when it goes to the State Fair to be judged. All I can see when I look at it now is its many shortcomings, and I’m tempted to withdraw. But I won’t. I think the judge’s commentary may be useful. After all, I’ve got another stocking to start working on.


And here’s the “other” stocking:


Tying the Knot is starting to speak to me, at last. Maybe it’s not a failure after all. I’ve found myself thinking about it, and even working on it here and there. Hurrah!

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Horsing Around

This past Saturday three of us went out in the noonday sun (a record breaker) to visit the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis. I wanted to see a horse made of twigs and bark I’d first seen years ago and never forgotten. The artist made the bigger-than-lifesize piece and then cast the pieces in bronze and re-assembled it. Amazing and clever.



But I had a bad reaction to the heat and so didn’t go to the Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, as the temperature climbed to one hundred (breaking a record) and I feared another bad reaction.  I’ve gone to that ceremony for several years, and found it very moving.  Getting older is not always fun.

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Royal Wedding

We – me, Elizabeth, Tanya, and Ellen – had an early-morning tea party Saturday. We got up at four-thirty am (!), and turned on our commercial-free public television channel to watch the wedding of Prince Harry and Rachel Meghan Markle. We dressed up for it, including hats We ate crumpets, which turned out to be amazingly like pancakes, and Scotch eggs, and drank good black English tea. What a beautiful ceremony! The English are brilliant at ceremony, especially Church of England services. The final blessing was the one given at my Episcopal wedding. “Let their love for one another be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads.” Beautiful.

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A Grand Performance

Wow, it seems as if we’ve barely gotten over winter and last week I filled out the forms to enter my needlepoint Christmas stocking in the State Fair. It hasn’t come back from the finisher yet, but she’s very experienced and should do a great job. I’m going to enter it in the Senior arena – I’m more than eligible – and hope to do well competing with fewer entries.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a witch riding her broom across a full moon, and no surprise, it’s taking longer than I thought. Next, I’ll finally begin that magnificent but complex big Christmas stocking for Ellen.

Work on Tying the Knot has stalled again. I wonder if kick starting it might not include an actual kick, as in the pants!

Sunday evening I went with my sister-in-law and a new friend from Aquila Commons to a special event at my church. It was called “Opera Familiare,” and it presented famous arias from operas. Ten professional singers took part, accompanied by a baby grand. No mikes. I’m not a grand opera fan; in fact, I’ve never been to an actual grand opera. But almost every aria was familiar to me. The performers were all young, though I think their voices could be called “mature.” They sang arias from Magic Flute, Carmen, Marriage of Figaro, Madame Butterfly, and others. None of the sopranos had that painfully piercing voice that is one reason I don’t go to the opera. All were trimly built except one man, who was enormous. He also had the chest development you sometimes see in male opera singers, so his clothing fit him oddly. Then he started to sing, and you could feel the heart of everyone in the audience warming. His first number was “la donna Mobile” from Rigoletto, and it was gorgeous.  Carmelita sang a brilliant version of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess; Don sang “Ol Man River” from Showboat; we were assured they were American operas, which I had never thought of before. Just before intermission all of the singers came out to sing “va pensiero” (Chorus of the Slaves) from Nabucco by Verdi. Members of the audience were invited to join them in front of the altar; more than twenty people came up. We were told that when Verdi died, and his coffin was paraded through the streets of Milan, 300,000 citizens followed it, singing this aria, which had become practically Italy’s national anthem. What a touching story!

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On Thursday members of the Northwest Coin Club are going to tour the Ninth District’s Federal Reserve Bank, headquartered in Minneapolis. I think I’ve heard about the Federal Reserve Bank almost all of my life, but I didn’t – and still don’t – understand what it is. That is, I’ve read about it, and recently looked up the Wikipedia entry on it, but I’m still not sure I know what it’s for or how it operates. It seems to be a private enterprise and at the same time a US Government entity. I’m hoping to come away from the tour with a better understanding.

As usual with Minnesota, we seem to be jumping directly from winter to summer. On Sunday, the temperature rose to 82 degrees – yet there are still protected corners of the Twin Cities where piles of snow lie. Tulips and daffodils are blooming and there are buds on the lilac bushes. Golden Dandelions dot the lawns. Yet north of here, the lakes are still iced over. I’m wearing shorts and a sweatshirt. Weird Minnesota

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