14 December 2009
I've filled in for enough teachers that I already getting a better sense of the music education scene in this area than I had on the North Shore. Judging from the quality of the junior high choirs I've gotten to work with thus far, I'd hazard an opinion that singing has been better supported in Northwestern schools (and perhaps families) than what I saw back East. The St Leo's community has been quite welcoming, offering us a lot while showing lots of appreciation for what we each have to offer. When my mother visited, she was quite moved by the liturgies here, with their level of inclusion and participation. The two Jesuit priests [who generally prefer to have us address them by their first names] are a twinkling mix of warmth and intellect. While I haven't been involved in any of the ministries apart from music [Monica has me playing there quite a bit -- which might seem like nepotism, except that it has been so well received], we take pride in the St Leo's Food Connection -- which provides meals and groceries to the needy. Most recently, I have been rehearsing the children who will be playing strings and singing for Christmas. (I've also been getting to lead string ensembles as a sub -- wonderful children to work with all 'round). Here is a photo taken by one of the choir members.
Much of the area strikes this easterner as a moon colony: many square miles of characterless chain stores bordered by sublime mountain ranges. Streets and roads are numbered far more often than they are named for something. If they take a rare turn, their number has to change to fit the scheme. Another thing I never saw back East, when a street's course is interrupted (by an industrial park or whatever) you'll find it pick up again with the same number, even if a mile further on. It's as though the whole place was crafted by an architect in a week, rather than reflect centuries of haphazard humanity. Were it not for the general level of friendliness, the technological infrastructure would make living here something out of 1984[remember when that was the future?]: trash picked up by mechanical arms, traffic violations issued by cameras. This time of year, the sun sets shortly after lunchtime. Seems that many of the people we meet arrived during the last generation from another part of the country, which must make for less xenophobia. Whatever the weather does, people tell me, you'll end up grateful when it doesn't rain 30 days in a row.
Although I need to secure more income for us to swing it here, we're doing our best to enjoy the moment and the people sharing it with us. Saw an impressive community production of "Guys & Dolls" and had the choir over for a pot-luck afterwards. I got them to sing through my Missa Nova -- the first time I've heard it from start to finish; bless them. Let me add that I treasure every moment spent with my sweet wife. While there are certainly places and people I miss from back East, there is already much I would miss about the NW were I to suddenly return.
15 October 2009
07 August 2009
To Mom, 8/6/09 (in 12/8)
This birthday brings us to the extent
Of this home's capacity for things.
(Even if only but ten percent
Of that housed at the Von Rosenvinge's).
Generations of Eckerts, Hamiltons, Steeles,
All here well-represented,
In photographs, keepsakes, aluminum wheels,
Obsolete or as yet un-invented.
How then shall we trace back to its beginning
This ancestral accumulation?
Who first had the thought that, instead of trimming,
Old possessions just change their location?
Even J. S. Bach, cleaning out his drawers,
Sought not to store in the basement;
For he simply accepted that all his great scores
Would be thrown away by his replacement.
But we who are mortal must put off till later
The disposal of our earthly goods.
And you who were matriarch must now be curator
Till we get ourselves out of the woods.
Your patience and kindness we might have deserved;
Though we haven't made all the right choices.
But there is no other mother we would have preferred,
Or who'd have shown greater joy in our voices.
21 July 2009
04 March 2009
When first we met
You were a mere forty-seven,
Raising two boys
You thought you had reached
The end of your game;
To meet your next flame.
Yet by the time
You reached forty-eight
We’d done “Gift of Vision”,
Set our wedding date,
Repaired the roof
(To keep out the pigeons)
And started a process
To change my religion.
At age forty-nine
Little time for renewel
Each day sending off
Three boys to school.
Come to age fifty
What happened then?
If I could remember
I’d be young again
But it isn’t our memories
Starting to fail
With more years to archive
Deluge of detail.
But here I must stop
For now we are late
Heaven will wait.