Here’s what I don’t understand about this song: “It was down in Louisiana, just about a mile from Texarakana.” Huh? According to what I’ve found on Google, Texarkana is roughly 35 miles away from the Louisiana state line. (Although things get weird if you phrase the search wrong, because there is actually a State Line, Louisiana, which is all the way on the other side of the state, so it’s something like 300 miles from Texarkana.)
Reinhold Gliere was a Russian composer who lived long enough to stop being a Russian composer and become a Soviet one. He was born in 1875 and lived to 1956, almost exactly contemporary with Joseph Stalin. As the last living exemplar of nationalist Russian classical music, Gliere was able to avoid the various artistic purges and seemingly random shifts in taste handed down by Stalin.
Gliere is, admittedly, not always my cup of tea. Some years ago the Buffalo Philharmonic performed his Third Symphony, a gigantic work purporting to tell the life of a particular Russian hero (“Ilya Muromets”), a work that apparently has its devotees. I couldn’t get through the whole thing. Gliere and I are not on the same page, apparently…but I do like this particular orchestral poem quite a bit. Called The Sirens, it seems to me to have very little Russian character at all; to me this is much more the sound world of French impressionism. I hear, in this piece, not the echoes of the Tchaikovsky’s and the Balakirevs and the Borodins of the world, but rather the Debussys and the Ravels. The work shimmers and seems at times to be approaching a melody without quite getting there, in what must be a simulation of what the sailors heard in those voices luring them off their ships.
As I keep adding to this post every year, and with cross-posting it and importing it from my old blog to this one, I suppose it gets a bit more ungainly each year. Well, that’s just the way it is. Today is The Wife’s birthday, and I’m celebrating. As always, new stuff added at the end of the list; also as always, I don’t edit what I’ve written before or revise anything that’s out of date. Think of some of that stuff as growth rings on a tree…part of the reason of this post is to preserve memories.
Happy Birthday, my love!
Today is The Wife’s birthday! Onward and upward, as always!
A brief slideshow of photos (some of which are already on this post, but I like them and it’s my blog, so there they are again!) follows. The song is “Live Forever” by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, a wonderful band.
And now, my annual list of memories and things from our years together. (New items on the list are appended to Number 97, alphabetically. I do this because I’m too lazy to renumber all the stuff after that one every year.)
1. Her hand fits perfectly into mine, as though our hands were fit for each other.
1a. That said, there’s a good chance that she prefers the dog to me.
2. The first time she saw Star Wars was with me. And ET.
2a. The first time I saw Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were with her.
3. She used to keep an aquarium before a bunch of moves made us give up the fish. Maybe we’ll do that again someday. But when we started dating, she had two fish, named Ken and Wanda, named after two memorable characters from A Fish Called Wanda. When Ken went belly-up, she called a friend and solemnly informed her, “K-k-k-ken d-d-d-died.” (One of the movie’s running gags is Ken’s stuttering.)
4. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but I’ve converted her from someone who hated coffee into a regular coffee drinker.
5. For reasons passing understanding, she has always found Erik Estrada attractive. She and I used to have arguments over who could best the other in a fight: Agent Mulder from The X-Files or Ponch from Chips. (I think Mulder would have blinded Ponch with the beam from those giant blue-beamed flashlights he and Scully were always toting, and then beaten him into submission with his eternally-able-to-get-a-signal cell phone.)
6. One of the first things we cooked together was Spanish rice, which is to this day a comfort dish of ours. The first time we made it together was also the first time she’d ever cooked with actual bulb garlic, as opposed to garlic powder. The recipe called for a clove, but she thought the entire head was a clove, so into the rice the entire head of garlic went. That was the best Spanish rice ever.
7. A few years ago she baked a Bundt cake for The Daughter’s birthday, but the damned thing stuck in the pan, resulting not in a ring but a mound. So she just mounded it up, glopped the frosting right over the top, and called it a “Volcano Cake”. Now, every year at her birthday, The Daughter says, “Remember the Volcano Cake?”
8. Our first date was to see Edward Scissorhands. So, Johnny Depp’s been there since the beginning, from Edward all the way to Captain Jack Sparrow and beyond.
9. We used to go out for chicken wings and beer every Thursday night. We didn’t even miss our Thursday night wing night when The Daughter was born: her birth was on a Saturday, and we left the hospital on Tuesday, so at the tender age of five days, The Daughter entered a bar for the first time. This may have made us bad parents, but I don’t think so. A girl’s got to know how to handle herself in a bar, right?
9a. She’s not a huge fan of when I post photos of her sleeping.
10. She insisted on breastfeeding both The Daughter and Little Quinn, which in both cases required lots of pumping. Especially in Little Quinn’s case, since he was never able to eat by mouth. Every drop of breastmilk that entered his body went in via the G-tube, so for as long as her production held up, she pumped six times a day.
11. I’ll probably never completely understand how much of herself she sacrificed in fourteen months to keep Little Quinn alive and progressing. It seems, in retrospect, that every free day she had was given to him.
12. That same instinct in her kicked in again when Fiona was in danger. She didn’t question the necessity or possibility of spending months flat on her back with her feet inclined, if that was what it took. If commitment was all that was needed, Fiona would be here today. (Of course, if commitment was all that was needed, Little Quinn would be here and Fiona wouldn’t have happened.)
13. We used to associate certain teevee shows with the snack foods we’d eat while watching them. NYPDBlue was always chips-and-salsa. ER, when we still watched it, was often good ice cream. Now, good ice cream has been transposed to Grey’s Anatomy.
14. “Our” first teevee show was LA Law.
15. Subsequent teevee shows of “ours” included ER, Mad About You, The Pretender, Profiler, CSI, Firefly, and more.
16. On our first Internet account, we set up our combined e-mail identity after the two main characers on The Pretender. We were “Jarod and Miss Parker”. People familiar with the show wondered what that said about our relationship, since Jarod and Miss Parker aren’t allies. In fact, Miss Parker was initially a villain but as the show went on her character became much more complex.
17. She started roller blading, got me hooked, and then promptly stopped roller blading. Now she prefers biking.
18. It was almost without warning that I met her parents for the first time. We started dating late February 1991; a couple of weeks later was spring break, for a week, so I came home to Buffalo. At the end of that week I tried calling her, only to learn from the old lady she was renting a room from that she wasn’t home because of a death in her family. I remembered her saying something about a sick grandfather, and that’s what turned out to have happened; her grandfather had passed away from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. When I got back out to school, her entire family was there. So I met the future in-laws on the spot. Luckily, I seem to have made some kind of decent impression.
19. Our first long trip together was from Iowa to Idaho, to visit her family, a couple of weeks before school began in August of 1992. She had already graduated college, but I was in my senior year. While we were out there, the infamous Ruby Ridge Incident was taking place twenty miles down the road, so all week there were National Guard vehicles on the roads and helicopters overhead.
20. I am forever amazed at her ability to take some fabric and create a garment. This skill of hers looks like magic to me.
21. Her first pair of overalls were a gift from me. She thought the whole thing was goofy – maybe she still does! – but she wore them for years until at one point they became too small for her, and then a short while later they became too big for her. We didn’t start wearing overalls together until we’d been dating for about a year.
22. Back in the 90s, on two different occasions, we picked out Persian kittens. Both were wonderful cats, both are gone now, and we miss them both dearly. The first was a beautiful tortoiseshell Persian named Jasmine; the second was a red Persian named Simba. Both died in the year preceding this blog’s launch.
23. Adopting Lester and Julio was The Wife’s idea. I’m still unsold on these two giant lummox goofballs.
24. The Wife also took The Daughter to adopt Comet, when The Daughter was only two.
25. Shortly after The Wife moved to Western New York to be near me, she adopted a cat from the shelter she named Lilac. That cat never really liked me all that much. Lilac died a few months after Little Quinn passed.
25a. She is directly responsible for all the animals with whom we currently live.
26. She loves to laugh, particularly at my expense. She is convinced I don’t think she’s funny, but that’s just not the case.
27. Things with which she has a deft touch include: a pair of scissors, a needle and thread, a kitchen knife, the mixer, bread dough, a screwdriver, a lug wrench, and a shot glass.
28. It irritates her that The Daughter has inherited my tolerance for sunlight — I tan, whereas The Wife burns.
29. The Wife likes to read, albeit not quite as much as I do. She always has a book going, and she reads every day.
30. She never used to use a bookmark, until I finally decided I was tired of watching her flip through a book looking for a passage that was familiar to her so she could find her place. I bought her a bookmark.
31. She loves nuts – except for walnuts and pecans, which I love. This makes it occasionally difficult find good brownies and similar items in bakeries, since many people default to putting pecans or walnuts in their brownies or other chocolate cookies.
32. When I first met her, she was a huge Anne Rice fan and read most of what Rice wrote until she decided that Rice’s output wasn’t interesting her much anymore. Since then she’s read a lot of other authors, including a lot of unfamiliar names whose books I’ve plucked from the stacks of offerings at library book sales over the years. Interesting how obscure even the bestsellers of yesteryear eventually become, huh? Currently she really loves Gregory Maguire, the Wicked guy.
33. When we first met, she was a Washington Redskins fan. So of course, the first Super Bowl we were together was the one where the Redskins knocked the Bills on their collective arse. Oh well, at least she hated the Cowboys.
34. She prefers her KFC “extra crispy”, where I’m an “Original Recipe” guy.
35. Movies that are particularly meaningful or nostalgic to us, in addition to Edward Scissorhands and Star Wars are Dances With Wolves, Titanic, The Lord of the Rings, Singin’ in the Rain, and the James Bond movies.
36. For some reason we didn’t take any pictures when we were on our honeymoon or when we were on our vacation to Disney a year later. I think we were between working cameras at those points…but lately I really wish we’d have addressed that at the time.
37. Things we did on our honeymoon to Cape Cod, Boston, and New Hampshire: road a boat out to sea to watch the whales; visited the New England Aquarium; ate dim sum in Boston’s Chinatown; bought lots of kitchenware at an outlet strip (don’t laugh, we still have some of that stuff); visited the Boston Science Museum. While doing two days in Boston we stayed at a hotel about forty miles out and road the train into town; on the second day, on the way back, we fell asleep on each other’s shoulders.
38. Our first argument as a couple resulted from a common misunderstanding between people when one is from Iowa and one is just living in Iowa for a while. I told her we’d meet for dinner, so she showed up at noon and got annoyed because I wasn’t there. Well, duh! I said “dinner”, not “lunch”. Except, remember, she’s a native Iowan, which means instead of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner like most (ahem) normal folks, she ate breakfast, dinner and supper. Thankfully, I’ve converted her since then. Whew!
39. Our first wedding anniversary saw us spending a week at Walt Disney World. What a wonderful time that was! Even if she managed to rip her toenail out two days into the trip, thus requiring me to push her around in a wheelchair the whole time after that.
40. She had long hair when we started dating, and I had short hair. Now we’ve reversed that.
41. Before we started dating, I had a beard. When I became interested in her, I shaved it so I’d look better. Then, I learned that she likes facial hair. So I grew the beard back a while later.
42. Foods I’ve tried because of her: asparagus, squash, rhubarb, grapefruit, and more that I don’t recall.
43. She loves George Carlin.
44. She bought me my first cell phone, and my second cell phone.
45. When we were at the Erie County Fair in 2001, she wandered off to look at the Bernina sewing machines. When I came by ten minutes or so later, she was in the process of buying a Bernina sewing machine. I didn’t complain; I just stood there, kind of looking shell-shocked.
46. Leading up to our wedding, she rigidly adhered to the notion that the groom should not see the bride in her wedding dress until she comes round the corner to walk down the aisle. So I didn’t see her until she came round the corner to walk down the aisle.
47. Starting a family was her idea. Not that I was against it; I figured we’d get there eventually. She just picked the “eventually”.
48. She picked The Daughter’s first name, so I got to pick her middle name.
48a. And now, this:
49. Since Thanksgiving Break at college was only a four day weekend, I didn’t go home for T-giving my junior year; instead, I spent the weekend with her. We went to see her extended family out in Storm Lake, Iowa, which is on the other side of the state. Since she has family over there on both sides of the family, we ended up having two Thanksgiving dinners that day. Some part of me is still full from those two meals.
50. Iowa delicacies that The Wife and I share are pork tenderloin sandwiches and broasted chicken.
51. Some of our early dates were sufficiently cheap that we had to look for ATM machines that would dispense cash in five dollar denominations.
52. She bought Simba, the above-mentioned red Persian kitten, while we were on a shopping trip to Erie, PA. She fell in love with the kitten as soon as she saw him in the pet store; we then spent the rest of the day walking around the mall with me listening to her as she tried to talk herself out of buying him. (Persian kittens are pricey little buggers.) Finally, while we were at dinner at Red Lobster, she decided to pull the trigger.
53. Before Little Quinn, the most heartbroken I ever saw The Wife was the day we finally had to end Simba’s life. His kidneys were in failure.
54. Great gifts she’s bought me through the years: my current winter coat, a cupboard-full of drinking vessels of all types, candles, incense burners, the Star Wars original trilogy on DVD, my anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings with paintings by Alan Lee, my star sapphire ring, my current wristwatch, and many more.
55. The first thing she ever gave me: a stuffed bear, around whose neck she tied a lavender ribbon. I think she doused it with perfume. I named that bear “Bertrand”, after philosopher Bertrand Russell.
56. The first thing I bought her: a little two-inch high figurine of a laughing Buddha. I think this confused her a bit.
57. Despite my best efforts for a while, she’s never much warmed to baseball. That used to bother me, but these days that doesn’t bug me much at all. I’m pretty cool to baseball myself now.
58. For a few years we went to Cedar Point each fall. We haven’t been there in a long time, but I always found being there with her in the fall, in the cool air, pretty romantic. I loved riding the Giant Wheel after dark, sitting up there with her hand in mine, looking out over Lake Erie.
59. At Cedar Point, she decided that she liked this one coaster that does loops, so I stayed on the ground while she rode it. I’m terrified of those things.
60. Why don’t we play mini golf more often? We both love mini golf. The Daughter loves mini golf. What gives?
61. One day in 1996, we were eating lunch in Buffalo when we had “The Discussion”. Any guy who’s ever been dating the same girl for a period of time measurable in years will know what “The Discussion” is. So I agreed, it was time for us to take the “next step”. Later on, while she was having her eyes examined at LensCrafters, I bopped over to Penney’s to buy her a ring. I chose a nice emerald one that looked really pretty. Sadly, they didn’t have it in her size, so they had to order it, which would take three weeks. So I figured, OK, I’ll get the ring in three weeks and make this thing official. Yay, Me!
62. The next day, she proposed to me.
63. Three weeks later I showed up to get the ring. They had it, but they couldn’t find the paperwork, so some poor guy at the pickup counter at Penney’s spent his entire lunch hour trying to find the paperwork so I could give my already-fiancee her engagement ring.
64. I don’t remember exactly when we picked out her wedding rings, but we each have an Irish wedding band, and each ring is set with the other person’s birthstone. So my ring is set with four amethysts, which is her birthstone; hers is set with four sapphires, which is mine.
65. For years I wore my ring incorrectly. Apparently there’s one way to wear an Irish wedding band that signifies being married, and another that signifies being single. I was wearing mine the “single” way. I was alerted to this by a guy I worked with at The Store; he said, “Yeah, you’re telling all the women that you’re available.” I replied, “Yeah, and I’m beating them off with a stick.”
66. On our honeymoon, it was important to her that she at least get to dip her toes in the Atlantic Ocean. So she did. The water was very cold, though.
66a. She replicated this moment years later when we took a trip to the Jersey Shore.
66b. We returned two years later.
67. It always bugged her mother that she saw Niagara Falls before her mother did. Later we took her mother to Niagara when she was out for a visit.
68. During the summer of 1991, when I was at home and she was still in Iowa, she came to spend a week with me. I took her to Buffalo and to Toronto, on the way to which we stopped to see Niagara Falls for her first time.
69. She was really confused the first time a Japanese tourist asked her to take his picture in front of the Falls.
70. At the time our beer of choice was Labatt’s. It’s pronounced “la-BATS”, but we had a family friend at the time who liked to say it “LAB-uhts”, which is how I said it at college just for fun and habit. So when she visited me that summer, we went to the bar where this friend hung out, and he was so impressed when she ordered a “LAB-uhts”.
71. Our favorite mixed drink in college was the sloe gin fizz. A few years ago I tried making these again, discovering that her tastes had changed and she now found them sickeningly sweet. I like them still, but yeah, they’re sugary. (And pink. When I told a friend at work who knows everything about liquor that I’d bought some sloe gin, he laughed and said, “Oh good! Now you can make pink drinks!”)
72. She taught me the right way to do laundry.
73. I taught her the right way to crack open crab legs so as to not mangle the meat.
74. Our first major mistake of parenting was taking The Daughter to a fireworks display on the Fourth of July in 1999. The Daughter was all of fifteen days old. This was the big display in Lakewood, NY, which is right on the banks of Lake Chautauqua. The Daughter did not respond well to the fireworks detonating right over our heads; the sounds were bad and for years afterwards The Daughter was very scared of loud sounds.
75. We always say that we should go camping. We never actually do go camping. We need to do more camping.
76. Once for dinner I made some frozen cheese ravioli with sauce, a favorite meal of ours that we hadn’t had in a long time. She said that she was looking forward to “eating some cheesy goodness”. Unfortunately, the raviolis were a bit on the old and tough side, and the cheese never got nice and melty, so after the meal, she commented, “That wasn’t really cheesy goodness.”
77. She likes eggs over-easy. I’m not a big fan of those, but I try to make them for her when she’s getting over being sick.
78. She makes fun of my over-reliance on boxed mixes in the kitchen.
78a. I’m much better about this now. Her main kitchen complaint about me is that I make way too big a mess when I cook.
79. In 1993, when Cheers aired its final episode, she bought pizza for my roommate and I.
80. She only swears when she’s really annoyed.
81. She is not happy that her nine-year-old, fourth-grade daughter is now the same shoe size as she is.
82. A while back she had her hair colored a brighter shade of blond than is her natural color. It was awesome.
83. Before that she experimented with red. I’ve tried talking her into doing that again, but no dice.
84. When my aunt met her the night before our wedding, she made a comment to the effect that I was to be commended for adding blond hair and blue eyes to our gene pool.
85. The Daughter has blond hair and blue eyes. So did Little Quinn.
86. I’m not sure there’s a variety of seafood she dislikes.
87. I love the way she looks when she’s just come home from work and changed into her PJ’s.
88. Adopting Lester and Julio was her idea, but she claims the upper hand on that anyway because she was helping out my mother.
89. For some reason, The Daughter and I like to bring up at the dinner table the fact that The Wife, as a kid, had to help the family out on Chicken Butchering Day. I don’t know why.
90. She thinks Orlando Bloom is really attractive. I don’t see it, myself, but you can’t argue these things.
91. For my birthday in 1992 she drove me to Dyersville, IA so I could see the Field of Dreams.
92. If I want to spoil her, all I have to do is buy her blush wine, cashews, olives and chocolate. Cake helps, too.
93. She spoils me by looking the other way when I go to Borders; by making me waffles or French toast or Spanish rice; by cleaning the kitchen after I’ve messed it up; by indulging my love of pie; and a thousand other ways.
94. “You want me to hit you in the face with a pie?” “Sure, it’ll be fun!” “Kinda weird, isn’t it?” “Well, yeah, but still fun, right?” “I dunno, let’s find out.”
It did take her a couple of attempts to nail down her technique, but she quickly realized she didn’t need to be super gentle with the pie. And really, folks, if you haven’t taken a pie in the face from the person you love, well…I’m not sure what you’re waiting for!
95. I know I’ve found the perfect girl for me when she describes our Thanksgiving in 2006 as being perfect because, after dinner, we went to see Casino Royale. In her words: “We had a big turkey dinner, and then we watched James Bond kill people.”
96. We both love laughing at David Caruso on CSI Miami.
96a. Sadly, CSI Miami is long gone, but now we thrill to the adventures of Team Machine on Person of Interest, of Castle and Beckett on Castle, and we enjoy Alton Brown’s delicious brand of pure evil on Cutthroat Kitchen.
97. One time when we were working out at the Y, and she got so engrossed in what she was doing that when I approached her, she didn’t recognize me at first.
97a. She loves lilacs.
97b. She loves sushi, so for a while our Saturday night dinner tradition was I’d buy her sushi at The Store, and she’d eat that while I had a “charcuterie” plate of my own. (I think we can all agree that “charcuterie” is the fancy-schmancy word for “cheese and crackers,” yes? Kind of like how “grits” turned into “polenta” at some point and started commanding $15 a plate?) But she’d eye my cheese and ask for a bite or two. Over time this morphed into her and I both having the cheese plate.
But she still loves the sushi, and I still have to buy it for her! It just becomes her lunch at work on Mondays. No escape!
97c. While driving once:
ME: Huh. HER: What? ME: I know I’ve heard this piece but I don’t know what it is. HER: [into phone] What is this song? [holds phone to speaker, then looks at phone] It’s the fourth movement of Mozart’s Eine kleine nachtmusik. ME: Wow, I didn’t know your phone could do that. HER: I’m pretty sure it’s standard now! Your phone can do it too! ME: Whoa….
See? She teaches me things.
97d. For years she worked in the restaurant biz, which meant working just about all of the major holidays and struggling just to use her allotted vacation time. Now, she’s in banking, so not only does she get the holidays off, she gets off all of them, including the ones I don’t! (I have to work MLK Day, Presidents Day, and the other “lesser” holidays that are still “No mail and no banks” days. She gets ’em off now.) She is not shy about gloating about this.
97e. She continues to make fun of my previous claims that I “am not a dog person”. To my recollection I never made any claims along those lines, just that I was unfamiliar with dogs, not that I disliked dogs. She just shakes her head and keeps on being amused at how much Cane and Carla like me. What can I say!
97f. Her, a few years ago: “Hey, there’s this event where people who own greyhounds all meet up in the Finger Lakes and then we all tour around to wineries and taste wine and have fun with our dogs! Wanna go?” We just got back from our fourth time on that trip the day before yesterday.
97g. This last year has been different, I’ll say that. We’re eating out a lot and staying home and watching movies in bed and so on. Aside from our not being able to go out to eat or to see movies, and the cancellation of several of our favorite festival events, this crisis really hasn’t impacted our lifestyles much at all. I’m glad she’s the one I’m enduring the pandemic with!
97h. Exploring Oahu with her at my side was wonderful. We both kept getting amazed by the same things!
97i. Sometimes it’s hard to find a teevee show that she likes, but when I do find one, it’s a blast as references from those shows will creep into our vernacular.
97j. We tend to get mutually weepy over the more emotional reveals on The Repair Shop.
97k. This last year has had some difficulties of its own, over and above the COVID struggles, but we’ve weathered all of it and continue to weather it all.
97l. Our opinions differed wildly on No Time To Die. Hey, it happens! Kinda like her distaste for coconut. (Which is weird, let’s be honest.)
New for 2023! 97m. She’s had a couple of surgeries in recent years that led to some recovery time and bed-rest, which meant she watched a lot of streaming shows. I didn’t realize what kind of stuff she was streaming until one night we were watching Saturday Night Live and she started laughing knowingly at this sketch. I asked, “Are you watching a lot of murder shows these days?”
97n. On weekends I usually get up before she does, so I’ll come downstairs and make my coffee and get hers set up to go. My signal that she is getting up for good is when she actually opens the blinds in the bedroom; when I hear that, I’m to get up and turn on the coffee. (Sometimes I’m listening to music on my earbuds and I don’t hear the blinds and then she comes downstairs and gives me the “No coffee?!” look. Fellas, try to avoid the “No coffee?!” look.)
97o. No, it doesn’t bother me at all that Carla prefers to sit with her on the love seat when we’re watching teevee at night as opposed to sitting with me on the couch. Harumph.
97p. If I could go back in time and make exactly one change to our wedding day? Yup. We’re all doing the “Rock the Boat” dance made famous by Derry Girls.
97q: Related to 97n above, I’ve been up for 45 minutes while she was trying to doze a bit more. This was thwarted by our cats, who decided to have rompies all over the upstairs, including the bed with her in it. As I write this she has just come downstairs, called the cats assholes, and is now making her coffee.
97r: Stay tuned, but she has started the ball rolling for adopting another greyhound. Yes, I’m on board, but this one’s going to have some pretty big pawprints to fill. (This weekend is a little bittersweet because this is when we’d be on our annual greyhound-meetup excursion to the Finger Lakes wine country.)
97s. Maybe I mentioned this above someplace, I don’t know, but I love how she has chosen to approach her dietary restrictions with a sense of adventure and discovery. We have found more great places to eat and discovered more terrific foods to cook in the years since her celiac diagnosis than we did before, and it’s not like we were dull sticks-in-the-mud in the food department to begin with! She’s always loved trying new foods and spicing things up, which is a real blessing if you’re at all familiar with the Monument to Blandness that is the usual Iowa spice rack.
97t. I’ve come to really like coming home from work, looking up as I pull into the driveway, and seeing her in her home office. Sometimes there will be a dog looking back down at me, which is also cool.
97u. Apparently she takes some of the chocolate from the home supply that I maintain to her desk at work, and some of her coworkers know she has a chocolate stash, so sometimes that gets shared around. I do the “I’m not feeding all the kids in the neighborhood!” thing, you know, the one where your kid wants to grab a dozen freezy-pops from the freezer for all the friends on a hot summer day and despite your protest you let it happen. Because hey, it’s chocolate and that increases the net happiness in the world.
97v. Our last cinematic disagreement came after watching Top Gun: Maverick, which I really liked (despite my general lack of enthusiasm for the original movie). She was distracted by the impossibility of Tom Cruise having perfectly brown hair at this point in his life. I’m hoping this doesn’t hurt our enjoyment of the upcoming Mission: Impossible flicks….
97w. We have developed a way of simultaneously groaning wistfully whenever an unexpected reference to Hawaii shows up on teevee, like the Netflix show we’ve been watching about American street food, and at the end of one episode the preview for the next said, “Next time: Oahu!”, with a big shot of Waikiki.
While studying photography this past year, I’ve learned that the most prevalent photo-editing software out there seems to be a program called Lightroom. (I don’t want to admit how long it took me to realize that this is a pun on “dark room”, where all the photographic magic used to happen.) I figured that eventually I would need to get myself familiar with Lightroom and start using it for my photo edits; I also figured that to get the best results from this, I would need to start shooting eventually in the RAW format. I’ve been shooting in JPEG up until now, because it’s just easier for me to use when I’m still learning the ins and outs of the camera itself. I’m a big fan of segmenting the learnings, and tackling one thing at a time; right now, I’m barely starting to get kinda good with the camera by itself. Besides, I got time!
Which isn’t to say I haven’t been doing any editing at all! No, I’ve been using a nice (and free!) app called Snapseed to do editing to this point. It’s nice because it’s mobile and it’s pretty powerful, so I’ve been doing all my main photo editing on that app, on my tablet. I could use Snapseed on my phone, but I like the bigger screen of the tablet. My plan was to sign up for a Lightroom subscription soon, likely in the spring.
Well, I just learned when my Flickr Pro account renewed that it comes with a free three-month trial for Lightroom. I got this all set up last night, and now, yada yada, I’ve done my first edits! What follows are the original shot, followed by my edited version. I didn’t go too dramatic with my edits, but I deepened and intensified the colors in some spots, added some vignetting (I love a bit of vignetting), decreased the detail sharpness just a bit for a slightly more dreamy appearance, and I upped the contrast a bit. I quite like the result.
(The picture was taken from Canalside in downtown Buffalo, where I was able to look through the space between the ground-level and the I-190 underpass for a bit of framing. I also like framing.)
Some photographers I follow are able to use Lightroom to get some fascinating and quite dramatic results with their original photos. This is an aspect of photography that I am greatly anticipating learning!
Sometimes it’s interesting to compare performances by the same conductor, but separated by decades. Here we have Leonard Bernstein conducting his own Overture to Candide, which is likely the most enduring of his own works. The first performance is from one of the Young People’s Concerts he did in 1960 with the New York Philharmonic, while the second performance is with the London Symphony Orchestra in late 1989, less than a year before Bernstein died. These kinds of comparisons allow a peek into the development of an artist’s mind from different vantage points of their careers. Which do you prefer?
Last weekend was a good time to be out and about in Buffalo. We visited the new Buffalo AKG Art Museum, which is the renamed, updated, and expanded Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The Albright-Knox was always a favorite place of ours, and the museum got some good news back in the 2010’s at some point: a wealthy benefactor named Jeffrey Gundlach gave the museum a big pile of money, which led to the museum’s expansion. A whole new building was erected, new art was collected (the museum’s primary mission is modern art), and last year the newly re-done Buffalo AKG Art Museum was finally re-opened. (The COVID pandemic had a predictable effect on the project, that is to say, delaying it a few years.)
As one of her Christmas gifts, I bought The Wife a membership (for both of us, actually), and this past weekend we finally made it to the Buffalo AKG. And yes, it is amazing. It was always a wonderful museum, but the new addition and reorganization of the galleries makes it feel like something from a different city entirely.
The next morning–Sunday morning–I ventured down to Canalside in Buffalo, mainly choosing that destination because the weather had been warm and rainy all weekend, so my usual hiking haunts were likely to be unpleasantly muddy.
‘On one rainy night in Tokyo, three strangers experience solitude from three unique perspectives.’
That’s the description of this short film, Tokyo Solitude, which YouTube’s algorithm offered up for me the other day. I found this utterly captivating; the imagery is amazing, with one breathtaking composition after another. It’s especially fascinating because my overwhelming impression of Tokyo at night is that it is ablaze with light and packed with people, but this film suggests otherwise: darkness and solitude exist there, and neither is necessarily a bad thing.
Take ten minutes and enter another world (set your resolution as high as it will go, turn up the volume or listen through headphones for the immersive soundtrack, and put it in fullscreen):
Ozawa was best known for his long tenure as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, all twenty-nine years of that tenure–the longest of any of that great orchestra’s many amazing conductors.
In addition to his direct music-making, Ozawa was always deeply invested in teaching young musicians and young conductors. Here is a clip in which he steps in to correct a young conducting student on a matter of technique: “I try to understand you. I don’t do this…[conducts with a vague circular motion of the hand]…that’s like, ‘eighteen minutes, cook the spaghetti.'”
Here is how the Boston Symphony marked his passing:
And here he is, not too many years ago, looking perhaps a bit frail…but still able to bring the goods when Beethoven is on the program.
Thank you for all the music, Seiji Ozawa! You made the world better.