blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

With wine, chocolate and piano accompaniment

Chris and I were invited by Barbara to an unusual concert this evening; Barbara's a member of the Martin-Luther-Kirche which was hosting this stylish event.

The pews had been replaced by candlelit tables holding plates of chocolates and other treats and ladies in little black dresses were coming round to pour out glasses of wine or Sekt or sparkling water for everyone. Once we had settled in and toasted one another (Barbara, Gisela, Vija, Rolf, Chris and me around our table) the vicar came up front to introduce three musicians and a reader who presented us with a programme of romantic music, poetry and prose, the prose part being an exchange of letters between Robert Schumann and his fiancée Clara Wieck, in which she promised to be a good Hausfrau. The gentleman who did the readings in both German and English spoke slowly and expressively. We heard some Schumann sung by the soprano who later performed Ravel's Five Greek Folk Songs, as well, and the violinist (the vicar's wife) played a soulful Telemann Siciliano and Dvorak's Sonatine, Opus 100.

These ladies were very lucky to have Frédéric Lacroix as their accompanist. We've watched and heard him play before, as I mentioned in my last but one blogpost, a first class musician.

As well as the lyrics of the Schumann songs, Herr Moskau read us poems by Goethe and Rilke. I recognised this one (Rilke) from my student days, when I dare say I marked it with a pencil for having touched me:

Wie soll ich meine Seele halten, daß
sie nicht an deine rührt? Wie soll ich sie
hinheben über dich zu andern Dingen?
Ach gerne möcht' ich sie bei irgendwas
Verlorenem im Dunkel unterbringen
an einer fremden stillen Stelle, die
nicht weiterschwingt, wenn deine Tiefen schwingen.
Doch alles, was uns anrührt, dich und mich,
nimmt uns zusammen wie ein Bogenstrich,
der aus zwei Saiten eine Stimme zieht.
Auf welches Instrument sind wir gespannt?
Und welcher Spieler hat uns in der Hand?
O süßes Lied.

Creative construction

Written last Wednesday evening at the "Booking / Weather Station" in the Flying Club's temporary premises, outside "Briefing Room #1"...

The temporary clubhouse used to be offices at a hospital before it was transported to Rockcliffe airport in four pieces, then stuck back together, as it were. The doctors' name plaques have now been replaced by more suitable designations. Although the cardboard boxes have been tidied away, there's still a heap of fibreglass insulation and copper pipes lying around in the corridor and pictures are leaning against the walls. In fact it all looks rather similar to my own house at the moment; we're about to undergo a renovation there, as well.

The contractor wants to come and take another look at his construction site, our kitchen, and will arrive "at around 6:37 p.m." tomorrow, he says. Goodness, if he's that precise and disciplined with this schedule it augers well for the care he's going to take with the cupboards. I booked their delivery for the second week of February because other work will have to be done first—reconfiguring the downstairs "powder room" (where Chris is meant to powder his nose?) and reflooring the whole L-shaped area. Not looking forward to its being done, but I am looking forward to its being finished. In the meantime everything movable has to be stowed in boxes in our living room and I shall plug my ears against the sawing, drilling and hammering and get out of the way, to commune with my computer or take long walks in the fresh air. Very fresh, in fact, with a windchill of minus 33.

I'm glad to report that I finished work on Crosswinds today, the 20 page winter issue of Rockcliffe Flying Club's newsletter for which I'm chief editor. You can download and have a read of it if you click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

About time

I haven't time to write about time; that's too big a subject. What I mean is, it's about time I added something. So much for the Buenos Propósitos De Año Nuevo that we were talking about in Spanish yesterday. What's the point in making resolutions when you can't keep them, most of us felt.

All in all, not a very promising start to the New Year, failing to write my blog for three weeks in succession, but I must admit the month so far has been full of other preoccupations. I have a pile of hats to wear, both literally and figuratively.

We've had many friends round, the usual ones plus Greta and Gareth, Carola, Simon, Jean, and last weekend hosted a party for Bill, Jenny, Frank, Carmen, Rolf, Vija and Barbara who sang a few madrigals with us. Tomorrow I'm off to Kanata to visit Sue.

At the nearby Bytowne Cinema I've watched two films with Liz and Carola, first The Young Victoria, for which the theme music was jarringly achronistic (though the others liked it), and tonight A Single Man, set in 1960s California, in which the characters seemed very unconcerned about chain smoking, although that wasn't the point of the story at all. Tremendous acting from Colin Firth. I also attended a public dress rehearsal of Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children put on by the English Theatre company of the NAC. I came home in the "intermission", not finding the performance gripping enough to want to stay till the end (circa midnight). Met Beryl there (an ex-German teacher like me) and we agreed we'd both seen better school productions. As the director Peter Hinton told us, the play's the thing ("like Shakespeare," he said) and it did spring into to life at one point when the actress playing the Yvette, the prostitute, sang the song Surabaya Johnny in its original, Kurt Weill setting. Some song, that!

Too much carping criticism in that paragraph. Actually I quite enjoyed all of the above.

Chris and I unequivocally enjoyed a chamber concert at John R's house last Friday evening. This was the performance by a young 'cellist, Brian Yoon, in his 4th year at the university, with Fréderic Lacroix accompanying the last item, Shostakovitch's first Cello Concerto (the orchestral parts arranged for piano), a real virtuoso piece! The other two items on the programme were both solo works: Bach's 4th Cello Suite and a striking sonata by George Crumb. All played from memory. The young man had been at an orchestra practice an hour before the concert started with no time to rehearse for our concert and hadn't had any supper either. That was impressive too.

I have spent hours on the flying club's newsletter, writing to the contributors and conferring with my four fellow editors about the content and layout of our next edition which has to headline the two big changes at Rockcliffe Airport: new hangar, replacement clubhouse. We've been working on the construction of the hangar ourselves, from time to time. Carol and I joined the diplomats snow-shoeing by the river last Friday morning and said to each other how pleasant it was simply to go for a walk in the fresh air rather than scrape shovelfuls of ice and snow off a concrete floor all morning. There seems to be no end to it, but the stalwarts of the club are still coming out to volunteer every weekend. The leaders, Don and Laurie, haven't really had a break from this effort since November.

And any day now, workmen (when I manage to get them organised) are going to start demolishing my kitchen.