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|Thursday, April 30th, 2015|
|Long time no post...
It's been more than 5 1/2 years since my last post to LJ. This is a function of my having switched to FB for most of my social media activity, although even there I mostly follow the postings of others and rarely post anything of my own.
I occasionally post something related to something I've done recently. I rarely post links to "interesting" articles, unless it's for an event that I'm at least partly responsible for running or hosting. I rarely participate in memes, and I rarely post anything about future plans or current activities that suggest that I may not be at home for an identifiable period of time.
Transitions have been on my mind a lot lately, especially the personal transitions we all experience, whether good, neutral or ill. We all go through them; some of them we navigate easily, while others require more fortitude. The BF and I are going through one of the more difficult transitions right now, as the BF's mother's health has declined significantly over the past 18 months, and she's no longer able to live as independently as she had been up until now; the BF and her other children are now dealing with supporting her in a manner that is both appropriate and maintains as much of her independence and dignity as possible. This seems to be easier in some ways and harder in other ways than the most recent significant transition in my own family of origin, the death of one of my sisters at the hands of her estranged husband a little more than two years ago. In the case of the BF's mother, the transition is taking time to run its course, and it's impossible to know whether it will last for a matter of days, of weeks, of months or of years. In the case of my sister, the change of circumstance was instantaneous and absolute, and the transition for the rest of us is dealing with the aftermath, particularly settling my sister's affairs and healing from the emotional shock, rather than having months or years of dealing with one urgency after another.
|Wednesday, October 14th, 2009|
|Singing, and small world
I'm planning to go to the 21st New York State Sacred Harp Singing Convention in Cambridge, NY, this coming weekend. I grew up in Berlin, the 3rd town south of Cambridge along NY Route 22. I'll be staying with my aunt and uncle in Stephentown, the next town south of Berlin.
At the first NYS convention in Ithaca in 1989, my friend Paula M. (now Paula P.), who grew up in a suburb north of Boston, introduced me to the husband of her high-school gym teacher (PF = Paula's Friend). He had never attended a Sacred Harp singing before, and Paula wanted me to take him under my wing for the evening. We did the usual getting-to-know-one-another conversation, and in less than ten minutes our conversation turned into:
"...and my wife grew up in a very small town near the Capital District."
"Really? So did I. Which town is she from?"
"(!!!) I'm from Berlin, too! What's her family?"
"She's a C****."
"(!!!) M******'s daughter?"
"(!) Yes! How did you know?"
"Your mother-in-law was the organist at the First Day Baptist Church when my dad was hired as the pastor in 1963. Oh, and is my high-school classmate C**** your niece?"
|Thursday, April 9th, 2009|
Last night the BF and I saw David Grimm's new play "The Miracle of Naples", which is Grimm's rendition of commedia dell'arte; a traveling troupe of actors arrives in Naples on the customary day of the miracle of St. Gennaro, except that the miracle doesn't happen properly, and *ALL* public celebrations are stopped until the miracle happens. Mayhem ensues as the troupe and local residents deal with lust, love, satisfaction and frustration. In the end everyone ends up either with the lover that they deserve (which may not be the one that they want) or with no lover but happy about it. The happiest match is the accidental one between two men aided by a so-called "love potion"...
|Friday, November 14th, 2008|
|The passing of an uncelebated hero
My mother called me this morning with the sad news that her friend Amparo Palacios died yesterday after years of declining health.
Mom introduced me to Amparo nearly 20 years ago while I was visiting Mom in Washington, DC. They had first met a few months earlier when Amparo found her way to Mom's church community shortly after she arrived in Washington in 1988 from her home in San Salvador. Her husband, Edgar, stayed home in San Salvador to care for their 3 children and to continue his work as the pastor of a Baptist congregation and as the director of El Comité Nacional para la Paz (the National Committee for Peace), a Salvadoran grass-roots NGO that was working to end the civil war. Amparo came to Washington to manage the day-to-day work of lobbying the US Congress and other government officials on behalf of the Committee. She spent the majority of her time in the US for the next several years, until after the peace accords were signed in 1992.
Those years were difficult ones for the Palacios family; death threats from both the government and FMLN, the kidnappings and killings of some of their colleagues and fellow peace activists, the kidnapping and severe beating of their son, Edgar Junior, and sending Edgar Junior away to live with Amparo's family in Monterrey, Mexico, and multiple visits from Salvadoran troops to "search" their home.
On two occasions I accompanied my mother and other friends of hers on 2 different 1-week trips to El Salvador to visit the Palacios family and to learn more about the situation there, and also to help celebrate the high school graduations of their daughters Amparito and Xochitl (SO-chee-tul).
We made our first trip in October 1991, about 18 months before the peace accords were signed. We took rooms at a chain motel in San Salvador (Hotel Siesta), and we spent the week attending Amparito's graduation celebrations and making day trips to different places in the capital and around the country; we visited some tourist spots and met with different groups of local peace activists. The signs of the war were everywhere, even though we deliberately avoided going to any conflict areas. I saw:
-Armed soldiers stationed 24-hours a day in front of our hotel, in front of every public building, at every bridge or overpass, and at major intersections.
-Scheduled daily power outages of several hours duration every day rotating throughout the country.
-Rifle, shell, and bomb damage everywhere; damaged walls, boarded-up windows, temporary wooden bridges over rivers next to the twisted metal beams the bombed-out originals.
-Random stops and searchs by soldiers (I was stopped and searched on two separate occasions).
-No screens on the hotel's windows, and the only television was in the lobby.
-Helicopters coming and going at any and all hours from the military base next door to the hotel.
We made our second visit in October 1993, about 6 months after the peace accords were signed. We took rooms at the same hotel. In addition to attending Xochitl's graduation celebrations, we toured many places in San Salvador and around the country, visiting some of the same places and meeting some of the same people as on our first trip, and also visiting some new places and meeting some new people. The signs of war were still visible, but many things had changed since the signing of the accords:
-Very little military presence on the streets and roads, and no random stops and searches.
-Electricity was supplied 24 hours a day.
-War damage was being repaired everywhere.
-The hotel had screens in all of the windows, and televisions installed in every room.
The peace was not an easy peace for at least the next few years after the accords were signed; Edgar continued to work for Salvadoran NGO's that worked to reduce government corruption and bring perpetrators of atrocities to account, and he continued to be harrassed and to receive death threats. By the late 1990's Edgar and Amparo no longer had the physical and emotional strength to continue that work, and they moved to Washington, DC when Calvary Baptist Church offered Edgar a position as an associate pastor ministering to the local Latino community. Their children live in different countries: Edgar Junior and his family live in Mexico; Amparito and her family live in Santiago, Chile; and Xochitl and her family live in the family home in San Salvador.
|Wednesday, November 5th, 2008|
Nearly 6 years ago I agreed to my father's request to co-sponsor his permanent residency applications for his wife and the youngest of her 3 children, who was the only child who was still younger than 18 years old. Co-sponsorship made me legally liable for their support in case they were no longer able to support themselves, as permanent residents are not eligible for welfare until after they have paid FICA taxes during a total of 40 quarters (10 years).
My step-mother became a US citizen 2 years ago, which completed my obligation to support her. And today my step-sister passed her final citizenship interview; she will swear in as a US citizen in mid-January, which will finally complete all of my sponsor obligations.
|Monday, June 16th, 2008|
I am part of Norumbega Harmony
, a community of friends that gathers every Monday evening to sing shape note
(or shaped-note) music from The Sacred Harp
and related tune-books. This evening we commemorated the first legal same-sex marriages in California by singing "Harmony", a tune attributed to Amariah Hall (Raynham, MA, 1758-1827) and set to verses from one of the Lyric Poems
by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), printed in The Northern Harmony
Say, mighty Love, and teach my song,
To whom my sweetest joys belong;
And who the happy pairs,
Whose yielding hearts and joining hands,
Find blessings twisted with their bands,
To soften all their cares.
Two kindest souls alone must meet:
'Tis friendship makes the bondage sweet
And feeds their mutual loves.
If there be bliss without design,
Ivys and oaks may grow and twine,
And be as blest as they.
|Friday, October 19th, 2007|
|LJ sightings of new RL acquaintances
I'm currently enrolled in the Tech Squares
Fall 2007 Mainstream/Plus class at MIT. While web-surfing earlier this evening I stumbled across the LJ blogs of two people who are currently affiliated with that class; one is an MIT student who is taking the class for PE credit, and the other is the class coordinator.
I'm glad I'm taking this class at last; I've wanted to be able to participate in the Boston Uncommons
(BU) dance series since shortly after Eric Muldur founded the club, but they always have their classes on Sunday afternoons, when I frequently have other obligations that I either cannot or will not give up for the duration of the class.
The fact that Eric as well as several other BU club members regularly attend the Tech Squares club/class dances as class angels adds to the value of the Tech Squares class. BU starts their own Basic/Mainstream class this weekend, with Eric teaching; I'll be able to attend at least some of the class sessions.
|Saturday, October 13th, 2007|
|That book meme
From several people, including madknits
, and rsc
Rules: bold=read, italic=started but didn't finish, underline=saw the movie.
I marked the titles of translations from Spanish with '*'; these works I have read or started in Spanish. Two are by García Márquez, who is perhaps the most famous contemporary Colombian author: his Cien años de soledad
is one of his most demanding works to read for second-language speakers of Spanish. I've also read shorter works by Cervantes, but Don Quixote
is both extremely long and written in 16th-century Spanish; Spanish Literature programs generally teach this book in its own one-semester course. ( Read the listCollapse )
|Sunday, July 29th, 2007|
|Thursday, July 5th, 2007|
|A traditional family 4th?
Earlier this week madknits
posted a poll on how his readers planned to spend the 4th. I'm sorry I didn't participate in his poll, but...
I spent the 4th visiting with my mother, my sister and her partner, and my brother, his wife and their kids in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where all of them make their homes. My mother's home is in the section of Old Orchard Beach known as Ocean Park (aka Chautaqua-by-the-Sea), which was established in 1880. My relatives has a long history of involvement with the Ocean Park Association.
The day started when my brother dropped his daughter off with me and my mother (my niece turns 4 later this month), so that he and his son (now 5 1/2) could join his buddies in decorating his pickup as a float, as they do every year. Meanwhile, his wife went to work (she manages an outlet store in Kittery). My sister and her partner arrived about 9am, and by 9:30 the five of us started walking the mile to the beach.
The Parade kicked off shortly after 10am with the traditional throng of kids and their parents riding decorated bikes and trikes, or being pulled along in wagons. Several marching groups and floats followed behind, and 3 Fire Department vehicles brought up the rear. Most of the groups and floats have some people carrying bags of wrapped candies that they throw to the crowds lining the street.
Several of the groups and floats appear every year: my brother and 3 of his buddies dress up in red-and-white striped jackets and US-flag-themed neckties, and they stand in the back of my brother's decorated pickup truck and sing a variety of patriotic songs from both the US and Canada as a fifth friend drives. (Why Canada? Ocean Park attracts a significant number of vacationers from Canada, and Canada Day happened only 3 days earlier. So the sing O Canada, too.) Other groups that appear every year include the Ocean Park Marching Band, the Ocean Park Kazoo Band, and the Ocean Park Lawn Chair Drill Team.
After the parade ended, my brothers kids joined a group of other kids for an afternoon of fun and frolic at the beach and at the home of some of the kids, then went home for a much needed nap. Meanwhile, the rest of us went to our respective homes to do chores, nap or cook. We started gathering at my brother's home at about 5pm, and by the time my brother's wife got home from a long day of selling sterling silver to the masses, we were ready to sit down to a fine meal of barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob, and baked beans, finished with brownies and homemade wild-blueberry pie. And then I drove home to Boston while listening to the last hour of the Boston Pops Esplanade Concert on WBZ.
|Monday, June 25th, 2007|
|On familial transitions and literature(?)
Earlier this month my great-uncle Alger Powell passed away. He was the only brother and the oldest sibling of my father's mother, and he had celebrated his 102nd birthday this past February. He had been my Oldest Living Relative since the death of his mother in December 1982 at the age of 102 years and 8 months.
After wrapping up my work day on the day that I learned of Alger's passing, I spent a few minutes using Google to search his name and the names of his parents Felix and Mary Ann, and I found an E-Bay vendor who was auctioning a copy of the first edition of The Transformation of Felix
. This slim volume is a collection of sermons that great-grandpa Felix published in 1915 while he was pastor of People's Methodist Episcopal Church (now People's United Methodist Church) in South Portland, Maine. Each sermon opens with a tale of great-grandpa's life from before he was ordained; these are about the only stories I know about his early life from before he met Mary Ann in Parsippany and married her in 1902.
I won the bidding for this item by default, as I was the only bidder. I got the book for the opening bid of $1.99 plus $2.75 shipping. It arrived yesterday, and its condition matches the vendor's description. I am quite happy to have this piece of my family history.
|Monday, May 14th, 2007|
|The Shapely Notables do (Dance) Camp
I was able to attend the LCFD Dance Camp this past weekend for the first time in several years. unzeugmatic
may be interested to hear that I signed up to lead a 1-hour Sacred Harp singing session on Saturday morning, and about 15 people chose to participate, including jwg
. As several of these people had little experience singing from the Sacred Harp, we chose to take our time singing through parts individually, then putting it all together, so that we sang only 3 songs during the alloted hour: Northfield (p. 155), Africa (p. 178) and Wond'rous Love (p. 159).
The group enjoyed themselves enough that we decided to sign up for a slot in the Variety Show on Saturday evening: we chose to call ourselves "The Shapely Notables", and we presented Northfield. If statistics matter, we were the act with the largest number of participants, and the only musical act that did not use any instruments other than our voices...
|Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006|
|May you live in interesting times?
Yesterday my father called to ask where I plan to spend Thanksgiving Day. As usual, I'm going to the BIG family feast that my uncle hosts at his home on the coast of Maine. (By my count, there will be at least 30 people present for dinner tomorrow afternoon.) He then surprised me by saying that he was planning to bring his wife with him to the same dinner party, arriving around 11am and staying for around 3 hours.
Why is this a surprise? My father was estranged from ALL of his relatives for many years during his second marriage. Since that marriage ended, he has re-established contact with his family, although his relations with many individuals remain somewhat strained. He married Vanda, his third wife, nearly 4 years ago, and this will be the first big family event that they attend together. According to my father, the deciding factor behind his not attending family events has been his wife's reluctance to meet so many people all at once, particularly in the face of her being his third wife and being a Brazilian national who has been in the US for only 6 years and who still does not speak English very well; as she puts it, she does not want to "look small" in front of his family.
According to my father, on this occasion Vanda agreed to accompany him to tomorrow's dinner provided one condition was met: that I also would be at the dinner. I don't know what else may have shifted for Vanda; I could speculate, of course, but until I hear what she has to say, nothing I might come up with has any basis in reality. Perhaps she feels more secure now than before; after all, she has been a US permanent resident long enough that she has been able to file her application for US citizenship.
Tomorrow will be an interesting day.
|Monday, October 16th, 2006|
|Wednesday, September 27th, 2006|
I recently learned that today is unzeugmatic
's jubilee birthday. Today also happens to be the birthday of one of my sisters.
I've only ever met one person who was born on exactly the same day as me (one of my 80 high school classmates), but I've met several who were born on the same day in different years, including the daughter of Glenn and Faith (mutual friends of unzeugmatic
and me) who is now 15.
The Sacred Harp Minutes Book, published each year with the minutes of many annual All Day Singings and Conventions, includes a section listing the birthdays of many Sacred Harp singers. I have not submitted my own birthday for publication in that list, but the last time I checked there were at least two people in the list who share my birthday. One of them is a certain young lady named Anna who is, I believe, a friend of unzeugmatic
and the daughter of other friends of his.
I always enjoy discovering new connections with people whom I already know...
|Friday, June 2nd, 2006|
|Moab: Day 2
Intermittent computer access has kept me from posting for the past several days. On Monday we drove ourselves around sections of the upper loop, visiting other geyser basins; thermal features are endlessly intriguing!
On Tuesday we drove through Yellowstone from the West entrance to the South entrance, then on through Grand Teton National Park, then out to Idaho Falls to pick up I-15 and continue on to Salt Lake City, where we spent the night in Layton. The next morning we continued on to Moab, arriving in the mid-afternoon.
Yesterday we drove into Arches to the Dark Angel trailhead, and spent about 4 1/2 hours hiking past several spectacular sandstone arches out to Dark Angel, a pillar of red sandstone a short distance beyond Double-0 Arch, then back by way of the Primative Trail (a *very* apt name!). This hike is excellent, though if you ever come here, I strongly recommend that you not hike at the same time of day as we did; we started at 10am, just as the sun was getting most hot and bright. This hike is undoubtedly much more pleasant if you start by 7am and get back to the parking lot by 11:30.
Today we went out to Island in the Sky, the section of Canyonlands National Park that lies between the Colorado and Green rivers. Shorter hikes, higher elevantions leading to somewhat cooler temperatures, and stunning views across the canyons cut by the two rivers.
This evening we had dinner at the River Grill Restaurant, which is part of the Sorrel River Ranch located on Utah Route 128 about 17 miles up the Colorado from the US 191 bridge just north of Moab. Excellent food, and an excellent view of the river flowing gently by. I found it slightly surreal, as the last time that I had supper on the banks of the Colorado I was on the last day of a 7-day, 280-mile rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.
We have two more full days in the area before we return home. We plan to hike in the Needles section of Canyonlands tomorrow, and on Sunday we plan to take an early-evening hike in Arches out to Delicate Arch, so that we can see it by sunset.
|Sunday, May 28th, 2006|
|Yellowstone Day 1
The Blond Fellow and I arrived in West Yellowstone yesterday evening, after a relatively smooth trip to from Boston through Salt Lake City to Bozeman, picking up our rental car, and driving down through the western edge of Yellowstone National Park.
As we have only 2 full days in the area before heading off to southeastern Utah, we elected to take a bus tour through the Park today so that we could both look at the same time. We're glad we did so, as we saw lots of things that we would have missed without the sharp eyes and knowledge of our tour operator, and in spite of the sub-optimal weather: snow, rain, sun, mist and fog, and geysers, in almost unpredictable order.
The tour went around the Lower Loop: into the west entrance of the park to the loop road, then south through the lower and upper geyser basins (hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and geysers in abundance), including a long stop at Old Faithful, which erupted on schedule at about 12noon. We then set out on the Geyser Loop, a short boardwalk loop past several geysers and pools on a hill just across the river.
We were very lucky to be on the Geyser Trail just as the Beehive geyser showed signs of erupting. Beehive is a bigger geyser than Old Faithful, but its eruptions are much less predictable, varying between 12 and 30 hours between eruptions. A small linked geyser a few feet away reliably signals imminant eruptions of Beehive within 2 to 10 minutes. We found a spot cross-wind of the geyser, and waited for just a few minutes before it started to spout. And as it reached its peak, the wind shifted, and we promptly found ourselves drenched and running for a dry section of the boardwalk.
From Old Faithful we continued around the loop road, crossing the continental divide twice (from Gulf to Pacific and back), along Yellowstone Lake, up to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and back west towards West Yellowstone. The entire trip lasted about 9 hours. In addition to the geological features, we saw lots of wildlife: wapiti, bison, geese, white pelicans, and bald eagles in particular. No bear yet, but at this time of year they are usually found further north than we were today.
Tomorrow we plan to drive up to Mammoth Hot Springs and perhaps over toward Tower Falls; this will give us the best chance to see bear, though we hope that it will not be too
close a sighting! On Tuesday we'll drive through the Park and south past the Grand Tetons into Jackson, then head back into Idaho and to suburban Salt Lake City.
|Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006|
The BF and I are looking forward to our upcoming vacation: we leave on Saturday for 10 days/9 nights of visiting 3 national parks: Yellowstone, Arches, and Canyonlands. We've never been to any of these parks before. It will mark our first trips to Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, as well as our first time in Utah anywhere other than the southern edge.
Neither of us owns a digital camera; I have 14 rolls of fresh film and fresh batteries for my 35mm point-and-shoot camera, so I should still be able to get at least a couple of stunning photos during the trip. I'll also get the CD along with the prints when I get them developed, so that I have the option of posting the best ones.
|Monday, May 15th, 2006|
So I happend to check my LJ homepage and profile page, and discovered you (loud4singing
) friended me, and it took barely a second to recognize who you are! I checked your profile, and I quickly figured out that I know who at least 2 of your LJ friends are. Did you know that your and my mutual real-life friend unzeugmatic
also posts on LiveJournal?
I also joined fasola
, just in case. Oh, and the Blond Guy and I are visiting Yellowstone, Canyonlands, and Arches in a couple of weeks!
|Wednesday, March 29th, 2006|
|Life in the Fast Lane?
I avoid posting during the day when I'm at work; it takes to long for me to write, and then edit what I write, for me to do it comfortably in the few minutes that I have free during my lunch hour. I often have evening plans, which stops me from posting after finishing work for the day and going home. And my dial-up connection at home shuts itself off if I take too long typing and editing a post. I suppose I should give in and arrange for high-speed service at home.
I have been double- and triple-booked on many weekends lately, sometimes in series, sometimes in parallel. This past weekend was no exception. On Saturday I went to the annual Vermont State All-Day Sacred Harp Singing, which met this year in Williamsville Station, a village in the town of Newfane located about 20 miles north-northwest of Brattleboro. I had planned to go to the second half of the Boston Gay and Lesbian Contra Dancers double header in Jamaica Plain, but after getting up at 6am to drive myself and 2 passengers to Newfane, singing from 10am to 4pm (with an hour for dinner), and arriving back at Watertown after 7pm, I was worn out.
The next day I was able to sleep in till after 7pm. I made it to Newton Highlands by 9am, where I picked up 3 passengers to drive to Lenox, where we and 16 other people presented a selection of New England hymns and anthems to an appreciative audience as a benefit concert for the Church on the Hill as part of their 200th-anniversary celebration.
On the way we stopped in Lee for lunch at Joe's Diner, a small hole-in-the-wall that appears to have been there forever that is located at the last bend on US 20 before crossing the new bridge over the river and heading uphill out of the village and on to Lenox. The food was standard diner fare, and quite adequate, and it wasn't one of the chain restaurants that dot the length of US 20 from the Turnpike entrance north through the village. After lunch we had a few extra minutes, so I showed my passengers my favorite avoid-the-traffic-on-the-way-to-Tanglewo
od route across Lee and past the Stockbridge Bowl.
About 55 people came to the concert, and they enjoyed it ethusiastically.
The return trip was uneventful, and I was back home before 7pm.
Thank goodness this week is relatively uneventful; it gives me a chance of getting over the cold that developed on Monday evening.