RomeFountainMan

Operas we've watched since January 9

Since January 9th we have watched 31 MetOpera streams. Coupled with 52 earlier in the series we've watched 82. One of the few good features of the pandemic. They do one every night and into the next day.

Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro
Strauss Capriccio
Bizet Carmen
Puccini Tosca
Wagner Die Walküre
Mozart Don Giovanni
Gounod Faust
Wagner Die Fliegende Holländer
Verdi Rogoletto
Verdi La Forza del Destino
Mozasrt Le Nozze di Figaro
Wagner Das Reingold
Poulenc Dialogues des Carmélites
Verdi Un Ballo in Maschera
Verdi Falstaff
Mozart Don Giovanni
Bizet Carmen
Pucdcini Turandot
Tchaikovski The Queen of Spades
Verdi Il Trovatore
Mozart Die Zauberflöte
Britten Peter Grimes
Dvorák Rusalka
Puccini Manon Lescaut
Giordano Fedora
Puccini Tosca
Tchaikivsky Eugene Onegin
Handel Agrippina
Mozart Idameneo
Mozart Don Giovanni
Wagner Die Fliegende Holländer

Of course we are about to have time conflicts with the modern opera: RougeSauxania - tedious plot, uninteresting music, lots of prima donnas, at least 9 acts, can't read synopsis ahead of time....
harp

My mother's knitting



My mother was a serious knitter. A significant portion of her clothes were things she knitted - sweaters, blouses, skirts. This picture is of three sweaters she made for me that I still have and wear. The yellow one on the left was made in ~1960 and is still in good shape. The two others are a bit later.

She often knitted while doing something else: watching TV, reading a book,... Once I saw her watching TV and reading a book and knitting all at the same time. When she died I donated all her clothes that were in good shape to a charity shop. I hope some people got to enjoy wearing some of them. She had a large supply of wool, knitting needles, and knitting books. I sent them to one of her friends because I remembered they had been knitting companions and she was pleased to get them.

I tried knitting myself, but was never good at it. I did have my own collection of wool and made an inkle loom and made some sashes and mini scarves on it. I also tried crocheting some granny squares with the intent of making a blanket but never did. I gave away all my wool. Considering all the stuff from ancient days that I still have it is amazing that I actually got rid of that stuff.
Us May 09

Music is important to me: Contra Dance and English Country Dance



Several our friends suggested that we try Contra Dancing and in January 1997 we went to the Gender Free Contra dance in Jamaica Plain (JP). We were hooked immediately. This dance was twice a month and we have hardly missed any since then (excluding the pandemic when it has been shut down of course). Unless there is an enticing concert or we are travelling we always go.

There we learned about the weekend gender free dance camps organized by Lavender Counntry & Folk Dancers (LCFD) - also gender free. We went to the first one in the fall of 1997. At these camp there iss lots of Contra Daning and some English Country Dancing and variouys other activities. They are twice a year until 2020 - and I haven't missed one - that's 45 + 1 virtual one. Robert missed one because he was ill. In 2008 the west coast group (people who were regulars in LCFD camps) started one - called Queer Dance Camp. We missed two of them - one because we were on an English Country Dance trip in Florence, and once because it conflicted with NEFFA - more about this later in the post.

And there is a gender free English Country Dance in Jamaica Plain - twice a month - and we are regular there. Robert and I are members of the organzer groups of both JP dance series and I am a board mmeber and treasurer of LCFD.

There is also a twice a month contra dance in Cambridge and we go there regularly as well. In Concord, MA at the Scout House there is a contra dance every monday and every thrusday night as well as one on the first friday of each month. We go to some of these. Other spinoffs of the JP dance are Village Contra in NYC and Rainbow Contra in Northampton and we go to some of these. And also to the occasional dance in Gloucester. And we did a litle contra dancing in Boston Pride - in the march, on Boston Common, and Boston City Hall plaza.

Every year the New England Fok Festival (NEFFA) is a weekend event near Boston with lots of all kinds of folk dancing including Contras and English. Our group has run a food booth there selling on-site made italian food, cookies, coffee, teas, etc. as a fund raising event for the gender free dance grouops - 3 days, about 30 volunteers and lots of fun. I always say I like my career as a food-service worker for one weekend a year with lots of nice customers.

At the JP dance we learned about a trip organizer, Ken McFarland (sadly deceased), who organized dance oriented and other trips. We went on 14 of them (sometimes several trips one right after another). Not all are dance trips - a contra dance trip on a boat in the Greek islands, English Country Dancing in Western Ireland, Florence, and a French Chateau. Many of the people on those trips are dancers and in some of the non-dance trips we did a bit of dancing: on Easter Island, in Tanzania, on a boat on the Amazon river in Peru, in Myanmar for example. Also we've been on George Marshall dance trips on St Croix and the Big Island of Hawaii. We went to a local contra dance in Paris and one in Melbourne - and English in Sydney; and several days in Merida, Mexico.

In a typical year we go dancing on about 90 days.

In traditional Contras or English the roles are labeled Ladies and Gents - in gender free Contra he current labels are Larks and Robins and people of any gender can dance in any role; in English positional terminology is used. Over time lots of other dances have been adopting gender free treminology.

Contra dances and English Country dances almost always have a small band - 3-5 musicians, occasionally 2. And a caller who teaches the dance and then calls for a few rounds. For English there is a direct relationship between tunes and dances. For Contras there are many tunes. Since in both cases the theme gets repeated many times and the musicians usually insert very interesting variations on the repeats so musically it is also interesting.

And one of these days dancing will restart again.
harpsichord

Music is important to me: early music - The Quadrivium



I had moved into what is now our house - but then just the 2nd and 3rd floor apartment and wanted a piano, but there wasn't really room so I decided to build my own harpsichord from a Zuckermann kit. It was pretty easy to build - it had a plain case unlike some of the pictures on the web site. So now I had a keyboard.

A few times a friend came over to play recorder with me playing the harpsichord. Which reminds me of a trip to Phoenix with my boss on a plane that had a piano in the back - we had brought music so we we played a few duets while flying. Some time ago after not playing it for a while I gave it away.

I got interested in playing the recorder so I bought one and went to a Boston Adult Education class. The instructor suggested that we go to the American Recorder Society - Boston chapter meeting in Cambridge. So I did. At those we all met in a big room and there was usually a mini-concert and then we divided up into little groups, consorts, to play the recorder. For several time the leader of the group I was in was Buffy Berg. Once the once the mini-concert was by a group called the Quadrivium, an early music group - Buffy was a member of it. Buffy then suggested to me that the leader of the Quadrivium, Marleen Montgovery, had classes in her house and I should go there - we did singing, recorder playing, and bowing stringed instruments and once in a while had an infornal concert. It was lots of fun.

And then Marleen suggested to me that I should join the Quadrivium. So I did and thus began a period of fascinating times. We had rehearsals every Wednesday night and gave concerts in December and May at local churches and the Gardner Museum - and occasionally trips to other places. And twice we were in the Revels. I remember one December when between our rehearsals, Revels rehearsals (both the Cambridge and Hanover shows), and the performances there was a 3-4 week period where I had something just about every night.

In 1973 I missed a couple of rehearsals early in the season because I took a trip to the Greek islands. I took my music with me and I remember once finding a spot on the Acropolis where there weren't other people and practiced.

Quadrivium did a range of early music: medieval, rennaissance, and early American plus Morris and sword dancing and other such things such as little humorous playlets. Marleen was an incredible person - very creative, somewhat disorganized, but a great leader. We were often surprised with annoucements about new music we were doing for a concert shortly before it or that there was to be another concert date. My role was mostly singing but played the recorder a bit and once a krumhorn. I remember doing Bean Setting, a Morris dance and a sword dance too. I bought a better recorder and some rennaissance recorders as well.

We made a record. Marleen suggested we meet at midnight in the Lexington church where we rehearsed so there would be minimal traffic noise. On the chosen night it turned out there was broken pipe and the DPW was there making much noise and said they would be there a while so we had to reschedule. Note the cover is a photo taken in the Gardner Museum courtyard (where you aren't allowed to go).



One of the members had constructed a harp at a workshop but wanted to sell it. I bought it and got to play it occasionally - O'Carolan pieces - for solos in concerts. I still have it, but don't play it - should try again.



At some point Marleen moved away - we tried to continue with several other directors who had been in the group but it wasn't the same so it ended. Sadly she died a few years later - we did have a very nice memorial event.
huh?

Music is important to me: late high school, college years and bit after



While at MIT I did listen to lots of records. I had a record player in my room and a small collection of records - and you could take records out from the MIT library. Also they had a pseudo-radio-station in the dorms - wires outside the window that you could connect to your amplifier. I went to a few concerts - in Symphony Hall. There was a piano room in the basement of the dorm and I occasionally played it for myself.

During the summers of high school and college I was a counselor at summer camp - first in Maine, and then in Vermont. The camp in Maine, Tacoma Pines is no longer in existance but was run by my gym teacher from Dalton. In nearby Monmouth, Maine there was a repertory Gilbert and Sullivan operetta company, the American Savoyards. A bunch of us went there every week. Most people sitting in the back of a truck and me driving for the last several years. One coincidental thing was that one year as a counselor one of the boys in my cabin was Robert' s rsc brother.

The camp in Vermont, Camp Killooleet, still exists. It was run by John Seeger, Pete's brother, and my geography teacher in Dalton; now run by his daughter. I went to Killooleet as a kid from 1947- 1951; outgrew it so I went to Tacoma Pines from 1952-1958 - evolving into a counselor. Tacoma Pines went out of business so I then was a counselor at Killooleet from 1959-1961. There was lots of folk music there - my co-counselor one year was Ed Badeaux -(deceased) a close friend of Pete, Sing Out! editor... So I learned to play the banjo. On my way home from camp that year I stopped in a used-stuff store and bought a banjo - which I still have. It's not in very good shape and I can barely play it - should try again.



In 1962 I left the academic world to start a career in software engineering. I had a roommate for a while who was very interested jazz and he got me into it. We went to a few live performances: John Coltrane, and others. To this day, Dave Brubeck's Take Five is one of my favorites.

I never was much into pop music, but then there were The Beatles - that opened my mind. And their wearing long hair began to make it acceptable. And who can forget Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival (no, I wasn't there) with an electric guitar? These events got me into a much broader range of musical performance that I liked. And yes, I still like classical music and occasionally dabbled at the piano.

And thus my record collection - and CD collection - has a wide range of classical, folk, jazz, Beatles, etc. And more as you'll see in future posts.
moi 1946

music is important to me - in my youth...



I went to a great private school - Dalton School in NYC - 1st through 8th grades. There were lots of music activities there - singing and dancing mostly but some playing too. I got to try out a violin a few times. I remember there were Rhythms classes where we moved to music. In about 6th grade they hired a very dynamic choral director, Harold Aks, and that was lots of fun - I still remember singing It's a me o Lord - very loudly. And we did square dancing. I remember in 3rd and 4th grade going on week long trips to a farm/camp in Otis, Massachusetts and we did square dancing there. Among other things I got to milk a cow there. By a strange coincidence that camp is where Robert rsc went during summers - it is no longer operational. At Dalton we had what was called Assembly every week in the auditorium and someone got to play the piano while people were entering the hall. I got to do it a few times.

My parents weren't very interested in classical music but wanted to support me. We had a record changer that played albums of '78s - strange having breaks in the middle of a symphony movement. They took me to occasional concerts. And I remember once when I was quite young going on my own to Carnegie Hall to hear Walter Gieseking, a well-known pianist of the times. And he played about 10 encores at the end! When LPs started becoing popular I had a record player/changer in my room. I remember going to Sam Goody's, a discount record store with huge collections, many times to buy records.

I got interested in playing the piano and started in about 3rd grade at Dalton. And soon after I took some piano lessons - I remember the teacher's name: Mrs. Stretch. And my parents bought a piano - a Sohmer spinet. Sixty Progressive Piano Pieces You Like to Play was the book I used in early days - and I still have my copy! The picture above is a couple of pages with my artwork.

Later I had a new teacher, Richard Willens. He was really good - he had aspired to be a concert pianist but found it too much pressure to perform in front of audiences. I still have some of the music books - Schumann, Haydn (paper in the Haydn too dried out to actually use), and others. I don't remember when I started but stayed with him through high school. Once when he thought I was losing interest in music we worked on Carmen - playing some of the parts and then he took me to the Met (the Old Met) to see it). And he took me back stage to meet Zinka Milanov, who was Carmen. Carmen remains my favorite Opera - paetly because I worked on learning so much of it. We've seen it 4 times in the past year in the MetOpera nightly shows. I still have my ancient recording of Carmen with Rise Stevens at the Met - she sung the role there many times for many years.

And coincidentally we usually have classical music radio on and the thing being played while typing part of this was Schumann's Arabeske - one of the pieces I used to play.
MachuPicchu

Our meals/shopping system - miscellaneous

We deviate from our standard system for various reasons.

For birthdays we usually dine out at a nice local restaurant - but didn't last year of course.

For Christmas and Thanksgiving, some special occasions, and when we have guests for dinner we dine in the dining room using my mother's (actually grandmother's) china and silverware. Bread and butter plates, separate salad plates. Candles, cloth napkins. And wine. Water is served in a pitcher.

And as mentioned in the breakfast post, on holidays such as President's day we have an egg dish instead of the usual.

And back when it was safe we sometimes ate at a restaurant - sometimes for no particular reason other than we felt like it.

For nights when we go to dances we usually eat in some casual place near the dance sometimes bringing the food back to the dance space to eat there.

We have a bunch of rotation conventions:
- weekday breakfast cerials: 4 kinds, keep in order so they don't fall on the same day each week
- cocktail crackers we have 5 different typs running and use 2 each time, rotating, so the pairings change
- for crackers and jam, I rotate 3 kinds of crackers and 4 kinds of jam
- but 7 kinds of coffee/tea cups so they map onto the same day - the Boston Cecilia cups are for monday because that is when rehearsals were when Robert was in the group.
- meat/seafood, vegetables, lunch salads, have no particular choice order, similarly for cocktails.
- my tea choices for saturday - monday are fixed, the others are random.
Us May 09

Our meals/shopping system - cocktails

Cocktail hour in our household is at 6. Just about every night - not when we are going out to a dance.

We have cheese (usually two types) and crackers (two types). Occasionally also smoked mussels, paté or something else such as octopus.

For drinks there is huge variety: single malt scotch, rusty nails, sherry, dubonnet, bloody mary's, martini's, pisco sours. Just one small deink. Robert is the usual preparer - I occasionally do simple things like sherry or scotch and I make the pisco sours.

Pisco sours: 1 oz simple syrup, 2 oz limejuice, 4 oz pisco, 1 egg white; shake in cocktail shaker with ice, pour into glasses and top with a few drops of Angostura bitters. Learned about this drink in our several trips to Peru. Pisco is kind of a Peruvian brandy.
Hippo

Our meals/shopping system - lunch

For lunch we have a variety of things that contains protein - mostly store bough such as: quiche, calzones, quesadillas, salami, smoked salmon, tuna fish salad, peanut butter and some prepared salad-type stuff and a piece of toast. Sometimes if we have excessive dinner leftovers we use them for either the protein psrt of the salad. Occasionall puled-pork sandwiches (that's what we had today). Then at the end an apple or a pear split between us and I have a couple of crackers such as AkMaks with a bit of jam spread on them. Water to drink - and I add metamucil to some of the water.
EatingInGreece

Our meals/shopping system - dinner

When we go shopping we get some kind of seafood and some kind of meat. In each case enough for 2 meals.

On the shopping day we cook the seafood and save the rest for day 3; on the next day we cook the meat, saving the rest for day 4. Seafood is usually one of: (not in exact order) salmon, shrimp, scallops, swordfish, monkfish, tuna, bluefish (rare to find these days). No exact order depends on what looks good at the fish counter. The fish is usually grilled, but sometimes roasted. The meat is usually one of chicken thighs with bones, steak, lamb chops or shanks, pork loin or chops, sausages - grilled or in pasta sauce, brisket, or lamb or beef stew. For vegetables we choose what looks good. Potatoes with the meat dish and rice with the seafood.

For the cooking days we have fresh salad of mixed lettuce types usually including tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms. Dressing is olive oil and vinegar - balsamic sometines - almost always with me, occsionally mustard vinaigrette; + ground pepper and herbs (fresh from the garden in the summer)

Beverage is water or occasionally wine.

Shopper cooks on day 1, warms up on day 3, other person on days 2 &4. non-cook washes dshes; on days 2 we save the dish washing until breakfast uless there are too many. Wine glasses get washed on the day of use. Occasionally a day of distruption of we are going dancing - not these days of course. And we always have some frozen pizza or other frozen foods - called emergency food - if for some reason we didn't go shopping or there is a schedule conflict.

We don't have dessert.