Last night, we saw a DVD of Wagner's opera Die Wakure (The Valkyries), second in the Ring trilogy. My only encounter with Wagner was an abortive trip to the San Francisco opera house for Meistersinger, his only comedy. We left after the first act. Music is wonderful, but there just isn't anything else going on. The singers tend to just stand there, and go on, and on, and on. All his operas are 4 or 5 hours of this. Well, not this one, at least not all the time. The Valkyries (Wotan's daughters, who swoop down from Valhalla to bear the heroes fallen in battle to sit at Wotan's feet) leap about in their armor and helmets quite a bit. Brunnhilda is the head Valkyrie, favored daughter of Wotan, and at the end of the opera, because she has disobeyed her father and a couple of other little rules that got Daddy's wife (not her mother) all pissed off, Wotan strips her of her immortality, puts her to sleep, and calls on Loge, the god of fire, to surround her in flames till a hero wakes her with a kiss. All kinds of paradigms going on here. Well, Wagner wrote his own librettos, and was certainly a hero, in his own mind. Anyway, it was dynamite, partly because Wotan was pretty hunky, and probably 20 years younger than Brunnhilde, not unusual. Singing Wagner is so difficult, most singers don't even try till later in their careers, to keep from blowing out their voices like old rubber. So, I almost feel like attempting the Ring cycle, sometime. Maybe.
On a brighter note, all is mended, plumbing-wise. At least for the present. Problem was roots in the line, which are (yay!) the landlord's expense and not mine, because it cost $253 to fix. Gone are the days when you could call Roto-Rooter and plunk down $60 for a little clean-out job. Sigh. But what a pleasure to not have to stand in a foot of water to shower, and to flush just once! It is amazing the things for which one can become grateful.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Well, tra-la, plumbing is still all conflicted here in the little yellow house on Wild Rose Dr. Most of the time, I am delighted to be female, all ribbons and lace. Until a crisis like Saturday morning, when I made the unfortunate decision to run the washing machine before the tub had drained, and the whole thing backed up all over the place. Really disgusting. Well, it could have been worse, I suppose. Nevertheless, it has been a regular comedy of errors since then. I called the Rooter people, who couldn't come till Sunday morning. Forbearance is not my long suit, but they are the experts. Right? So, the little guy arrived early, caught me in my pjs looking pretty rumpled, couldn't find the clean-out trap (clean-out trap?) and quoted me $402 to clear the line after removing the potty from its mount. Well, no deal. I decided to grit my teeth and wait till I could talk to my landlord about this. When I got dressed, I mosied outside, and lo and behold, there was the clean-out trap, right in plain view, right where one would expect it to be. So the Rooter people are either pretty dumb, blind, or just plain crooked. I must look like an idiot. Well, plumbing-wise, I guess I am. Now have appointment with another plumber, and will get this thing resolved, hopefully for less than $402. It would be nice to be able to flush in one fell swoop. You really don't want to know the details here.
Friday, November 24, 2006
First treat, no Thanksgiving with the family. We had a birthday dinner recently for my oldest brother, and that was enough for all of us. Second treat, a Eureka marathon on SciFi channel. I picked up on this show from its premiere. It's funny and smart and a lot like Northern Exposure gone high-tech, with lots of quirky characters swirling around the central guy, who is new to the scene and pretty much clueless. A whole day of watching Sheriff Carter negotiate the vicissitudes of the techies-gone-wrong, that's delicious. Then my son came to brunch, and we ate and schmoozed for a happy couple of hours. When he left to do the turkey thing with his Dad, I headed down to the Alkathon (marathon AA meetings, 24 hours of them on holidays) where I heard a gritty chair from one of our local miracles, and hooked up with a friend to go to a movie. We saw Stranger Than Fiction. Now, Will Ferrell is not my cup of tea, but he was remarkably restrained in this, so restrained he appeared depressed, actually. And Emma Thompson was over the top, in a truly ingenius way. The whole movie was hilarious in that delightfully cerebral way, with the jokes so intellectual, you had to be in the loop to get them. The audience in the theatre clapped when the credits rolled. Now, that's a good film. Home afterward for a Lean Cuisine portabello pizza, pretty yummy, actually, and more Eureka.
I turned off the light after Gray's Anatomy, after Christine got her comeupance for her hubris, and I for one felt it well-deserved. All-in-all, a swell way to spend a holiday.
I turned off the light after Gray's Anatomy, after Christine got her comeupance for her hubris, and I for one felt it well-deserved. All-in-all, a swell way to spend a holiday.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Phoebe-bird does not hesitate to express her disdain if one of the selections on my listening disk is not up to her standards. First it was Orff's O Fortuna that sent her into paroxysms of squawking, then Berlioz's March to the Scaffold, and now Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. We agree on the second and third selections, Berlioz's angst was way over the top, and Wagner is always so puffed up and self-important, but I like the Orff, wonderful and fresh, nothing else like it. We are in our choral and ballet mode, so opera is on deck, along with the Brahms German Requium. Most of this music I have known for decades, like the Carmen Suite and, give me a break, the Nutcracker. But clever guy that he is, the teacher has thrown in some Mahler, who, surprise, has a tender side, and that wondrous Debussy Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and some sparkling Ravel, too. And how much I do love that Carmen Suite, even after 6 decades of familiarity with it. Bizet could really write that Spanish stuff, even though he was French. One of life's little paradoxes.
Monday, November 20, 2006
As happy as I am that my knob came, and the dryer is now all sparkly again, that is how unhappy I am to report that the toilet is leaking. It is now shrouded with towels, awaiting attention. Now, I need my toilet. I only have one, you know. Tonight it going to be interesting, to say the least. And, let's see. I got 100% on my art exam (yay, me!), but only 88 on my algebra test. Now, that's a good grade, yes? And, it is my cumulative grade in the class so far, 88.2. Only 1.8 points from an A. Think I can pull that off? It would be something of a miracle, I think. I will try, of course. Whatever.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
It was a week to celebrate. I got the highest grade on the midterm in music class! In fact, the only four to get an A were our little group of four muskateers. We sit together, but got different ones wrong, thank goodness. None of us need to cheat; we study. And, even though we didn't get the algebra test back, I am pretty sure I did well there, also. I went to my appointment with my counselor expecting her to frown at me for changing my major from psych to art. Instead, she literally jumped up and down in her seat, she was so happy for me. I was pretty happy, too, because I no longer have to take statistics to transfer, just Math 9 or 10, both of which are easier than the next leg of the journey, Math 155. So I can look forward to two more semesters of lots of art classes, with a little math sprinkled on for tartness. Today, I am celebrating the completion of the draft of this hellacious outline for my final speech, the rhetoric. That's persuasion to you not in the communication loop. I always thought that meant spin, but it was originally the vehicle for persuasion, because it used to be based on truth rather than fallacies. Anyway, now I get to paint for a while, a real treat. Our final project in art is to copy a masterpiece, so I am going to practice with a Monet. Oh, and my knob arrived yesterday, so I can do my laundry sans pliers. How good is that!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Algebra test at 7:30 AM today. It was not too brutal, just one question that had me spinning, mostly because I am not very neat and tidy with my figuring, and tend to get little things like positive and negative numbers mixed up. I knew how to do everything, though. Just a matter of if I did it right, and so far, there is usually a surprise booboo somewhere in the mix. Then we had a test in art, like, what is a complementary color and what is a primary color, stuff like that. It was pretty breezy, actually. And after, I got to work on this page of one-inch squares, all different colors. It wound up looking like a quilt. I just tried to not make the same hue twice, and to put one complimentary color and one analagous color next to each other everywhere. That didn't work out exactly as I had planned, but I am not unhappy with it. We also went over to the museum in our new library, an compilation of works both by and collected by an African American woman who has a very strong message to impart. She is pretty pissed off, I think. Well, she was brought up in Berkeley. Need I say more? Now, I am sipping more coffee, just trying to stay awake for the afternoon appointment with my counselor, and music class tonight. Nuts, I think a nap would be nice, since I don't have any homework. There. A plan.
Monday, November 13, 2006
My mother's parting shot the other day was "you are taking calcium, aren't you?" And I lied and said yes, just so we could part happily. Actually, I eat yogurt, put milk on my cereal, have broccoli four or five times a week. I get plenty of calcium in my diet. And my bones are in great shape. In fact, they are 25 years younger than I am according to the scale when I had them tested. Not bad. Then I learned that it really isn't calcium that we are deficient in. It is magnesium. Well, how about that! I have some knobs on my knuckles that I know are calcium deposits, that come from too much calcium, or calcium that my body was unable to absorb, all of which is the result of, yep, magnesium deficiency. And if I get up to snuff, my arteries will all be rotorootered out, expanded, even, and my blood will just rush around happily ever after. Seems like a great deal, considering that 300 tablets cost less than $6. So I told my mother about it. And she said "don't tell me that, I don't believe that." Well, okay. Meanwhile, I am expecting that my skin will get all plumped up with all that extra room in my vessels, and I will look 20 years younger, very soon. Right.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I made a commitment to paint yesterday when I 1) bought a new bunch of flowers at Trader Joe's, 2) got down the original vase in my 2 year old, unfinished canvas, and 3) laid out a palette. There's the kicker. If I don't use the paint, it just sits there and dries up to these little, very expensive nurdles. So, here I am, in my American Artist apron (now I know why they tie knots in the end of the ties for these bib aprons, I found out after spending a happy half hour fishing the end out yesterday), smelling of turpentine, sitting at a fair distance, trying to decide if I am now happy with the color of the cloth under the vase so I can paint in the flowers I want laying at its base. And which way should the flower be laying, as it were? And which flower should I lay there? I actually don't like the yellow one, it has no leaves on its stem and looks kind of paltry all by itself there. Maybe just some leaves? Or petals? I often put a renegade petal on the cloth. I like that kind of thing. Gee, this is just too much to think about. I think I will make a pot of soup. That sounds like a fun idea on this cold gray day.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
When I was in therapy (and I was in therapy a long, long, long time), we used to do self-esteem experiences, like I would write a list of all the things are wonderful about me. "I am a good cook", or "I am friendly", stuff like that. And they were absolutely true, these sayings. Yet, I just still felt like a spare part in the Universe, something leftover from a bigger something that had more value without my participation. In the end, I realized that it was hard to feel good about myself when I was being dishonest about some rather disturbing behaviors, like drinking too much. Getting sober was a great start, but that was all it was, a beginning. There was ever so much more work to do. Fortunately, I used AA as my vehicle into sobriety. The amazing thing about AA is that it teaches that we cannot think our way into right action. Well, duh. If I could have done that, it would have been accomplished long ago. No, we need to act our way into right thinking. "Act as if" is my motto. Act as if I believe in a Higher Power. Act as if I am a person worthy of love. And, hell, act as if I love myself. What a concept! Last night, I made dressing to go with my little rotisserie chicken I bought at Costco. I ground up my excellent Oatnut bread (the heels, just perfect), toasted them in my handy-dandy convection oven, sauteed celery and shallots with some slivered almonds, added savory spices, chicken broth and the bread crumbs, and voila! Amazing dressing. Delicious dressing. Put that with some nice sliced breast meat and the gravy I made with the pan drippings in the chicken package, and I had a holiday dinner all my own, all alone here with Boo and the bird. Cooking was always something I did to nurture my loved ones. It is so nice to now be one among them.
Friday, November 10, 2006
College can't make you smart. I have learned this in various lessons. Like last Saturday night, when I put my washed load in the dryer, and it wouldn't turn on. How annoying! I spread all the wet things around, hanging them on closet doors, the shower rod, on towels on top of the washer and dryer. When they were still sopping in the morning, I took them to the laundromat to dry. Very enlightening experience, the laundromat. Busy place on a Sunday morning, for sure. And when I went to fold my load, there was this one miniscule blue sock mixed in with my load. It was kind of touching. So, Monday morning, first thing, I called the appliance repair places. One just never called me back. And the second one couldn't send anyone until Friday. How annoying! A whole week without my laundry facilities. And, I had to get up early today in case he showed up at 8 AM. How annoying! And he told me it wasn't the switch, it was just the knob. He showed me how to turn on the dryer without it, using plyers. Now, I really felt stupid. Like, where's all that education when you need it? My erstwhile repair guy did not have the part I needed, but gave me all the info to look for it myself. Well, how annoying! I tried the places and they didn't have it, so I had to order it online, a $6 part, with a $7 handling charge. How annoying! Altogether, this little knob cost me $53, $39 for the service call, $13 for the part, and $1 to dry my stuff at the laundromat. How annoying!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Last night was the midterm in my music appreciation test. I spent the afternoon alternately playing movements from Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and Dvorak's New World Symphony, making sure I was clear on the differences. I was already familiar with the rest of the selections, well, except for the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, but that solo violin is a rather big tipoff, you know. And I already knew Teach was going to play the same piece more than once, so I paid special attention to the exposition themes, and the development section, too. And he did. In fact, he played the Dvorak not once, not twice, but three times. Tricky. Well, he is. I know this from our first test, where one word in a sentence makes it false, so one must pay careful attention when filling out one's Scantron. Anyway, I felt really good about this test, like I aced it, bigtime. We were then scheduled to look at Romantic choral music, and begin our section on Romantic opera. Instead, one of the students brought a DVD of a symphony concert of Metallica's oeuvre, starring Metallica and a symphony orchestra. It was awesome, just so daring and amazing, partly because of the lighting effects, but mostly just because the music was rivetting, too. And I got to appreciate the musicianship of the rock stars. Those guys really can play, expecially the drummer. It was a bit of a stretch from my afternoon, but actually rather welcome, because I didn't have to think about it, just sink into it. Best of all, he let us go early, so I got to climb into bed and relax for a happy half hour with Boo before hitting the pillow to get my ZZZZs before geting up to do it all over again.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I learned when I was in Italy, hoofing it all over Rome on those *&^%#$ cobblestones, to be kind to my feet. As I grow older, they tend to be kind of dried up looking, and cracked around the heels. So I have been rubbing them regularly with lotion, scrubbing them with my little body scrubber thingie, too. And they are getting much more manageable and better looking. Unfortunately, they are also prone to cramping, mostly at night, in bed. It is like a wire between my big toe and my heel just tightens until my toes are all splayed out and the instep screams at me. Walking around helps, but, funnily enough, the thing to do when this happens is to put on a pair of socks. Warm feet do not cramp. Now, how strange is that? And I am happy to report that the slug that has been crawling around on my bedside rug at night has been located. And sorry to report that I found it stuck to the bottom of my bare foot. EEEEYOUUUU!
Monday, November 06, 2006
So, once again, I toted my little plastic bag with a veggie in it, an acorn squash this time, to art class. And, once again, I was the only one to remember it. Our teacher was way ahead of us this time. She came with a great big bag of produce for the kids. And I was excited to paint this sucker, it was just so full and luscious. Then, Stephanie drug out the slides, and we got a half hour of Seurat, and instructions to render our fruit or veggie in, gasp, pointilism. Well, I will try anything, really I will. And I paid attention and learned that Seurat used orange in his skies and lots of complimentary colors, like purple and yellow, red and green, etc. So my painting was just chock full of little dots of all kinds of colors, with the general values of the green and yellow of the squash, its shadow mass, the red mat beneath it, etc. I found it kind of tedious, and felt pretty silly, too. Then we put them up on the wall, I walked back to my seat, and almost gasped when I saw the amazing result of my tiny dots. It was scintillating, my squash. And miles ahead of the kids, who were very weinie about color, and sparing with their dots, too. I worked with mine till there were practically no holidays, those little spots where the canvas peeks through the paint, so it was jewel-like, actually. I just love this, and I learned how to be absolutely fearless in the process. Can you tell how exciting this is for me? I think I have found something very amazing inside me, that I didn't know I had. Oh, my partner used to tell me how good I was, but he slept next to me every night, it was in his best interest to be complimentary. Now, I think he might have been right! At least, I have a platform from which to leap into something new and enlightening. Wow!
Friday, November 03, 2006
Part of being in recovery is about being awake. Sobriety removes the veil that shrouds the addict, and leaves one naked in the world, anyway. So we arm ourselves with that deep inner strength that was always there to begin with, and put ourselves right in the path of life. That is how I feel as I ply the paths of my community college. Have I mentioned that it is an exceptionally pretty campus, great brick buildings (even the newest are liberally sprinkled with red brick), ancient oaks over manicured lawns. Our new library is 4 stories high and just magnificent, inside and out. So I love schlepping around with my 40 lb. bookbag. Every class is in a different building this semester, so I schlep a lot. And I notice things, like the way the birds sing so happily in the new rain, and the red maple leaves on the wet pavement yesterday. The students are just great, too. What I notice about them is that gals travel more in pairs that guys do. And when gals pair up, it is around a similarity. Body-type is popular; sleek, coltish blonds bond together, as do zaftig little gals. Ethnicity trumps body-type, though, so I see pairs of chicanas and African American girls a lot. Guys are less picky. And the most inclusive group is the geeks. There is a band of them that congregate in the Coop (our cafeteria), always at the same table, and every kind of human being possible can join them. They have an awful lot of fun at that table, too. I realize I am guilty of this as well. If I travel with anyone, it will be someone who is older than the average student. Not that I don't like the kids. Oh, nonono, I think they are just amazing, most of them. I take every opportunity to be kind to them, too. Not that I want them to like me. I really want them to like themselves. I didn't, when I was a kid. I'm still working on that one.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I went home shaking my head yesterday, sure that I had mixed up a couple of things on that *&^%$ algebra test, only to find this morning that I accidentally did those problems right! And I got 90 on this test, my best score yet. Still messed up here and there, negative and positve eludes me sometimes, and so does arithmetic. The algebra part I am pretty sure of, actually. Anyway, progress is being made here, even if it is not perfection, which would be nice, for sure. And art was a trip. I took a totally luminous pear in today and rendered it with loving care. Also copied a Weintraub painting of cows coming down a hill. It took forever, building up the cows, then trimming them back, to get them to look less like pigs, but they are definitely coming up nicely, as is the whole painting. Gee, this is so much fun! Now looking online for more ideas to work up the requisite 6 paintings Stephanie wants from us be next week. Whatever, I am so happy I decided to do this. Very exciting semester, indeed.