You two look very excited!
You two look very excited!
Here’s what we know:
Spence, Juliet, Evie, and Westley are safely in Delafield, Wisconsin, and after a whirlwind road trip through New York, Canada, etc., they are resting and getting their ice cream fix at Wholly Cow.
Will, Emily, Audrey, Andrew, and Colin took a quick one-day trip up to Bear Lake to scope it out and see if the lake is in good shape for everyone to come up this year.
Marta is an honest-to-gosh programmer for Motion Control.
Isaac and Lincoln were in a play!
Kallyn likes to swim. Henry likes to swim. Ellie likes to swim. Actually, I’m pretty sure all the kids like to swim.
Elisa and Ted are in Chicago visiting Ted’s family.
Downey is the most vocal cat we ever met.
Eddie and Theo like bees. For some reason. Also they are setting up their machine shop for future adventures in making stuff.
Robert and Helene are fun to visit and have a lot of animals.
Kristen is gamely trying to play simple harp pieces like Go Tell Aunt Rhoda the Old Gray Goose is Dead.
Eddie and I are in charge of the ward Christmas party (!) We have decided to make the theme “Try giving yourself away.” (the title of a 1920s book). The concept is to make it habit to find ways to make people happy or comfortable or something, in small ways. Well, large ways are okay, too. Ideas are to write a note to somebody (I left a $20 tip and a note to the maid in my motel in Springdale, for instance. I know, I resisted leaving that much money, but it was either $1.50 or that, and I imagined her face when she saw it, which made me happy. I mean, people who clean motels aren’t exactly rich.). Other ideas: compliment somebody, even a stranger like a store manager or something; call the clerk by their name and engage them in conversation; in fact, look into people’s eyes (last night I was at the store and the produce clerk asked me how I was doing, and I realize I didn’t even look up when I said, “fine”. How self-absorbed is that??!!); look around and notice others’ needs and try to fill them; help somebody who is stranded (yes, I think about that one a lot as I speed by people by the side of the road); pray for people around you; share an idea or some inner part of yourself; encourage somebody; simply smile at someone; etc. etc.
Trying to establish this habit, I have noticed that most of the time I am COMPLETELY self-absorbed. It is a matter of making it a habit to be aware of other people. Sometimes it involves the Spirit, but other times I just think it is a matter of having empathy and interest in others.
The author of the book says that giving yourself away creates a “glow” experience for yourself and the other person. That’s true, huh? Just that little tingle of happiness when you’ve made someone happy…..
Well, I’ll keep trying to break out of my self-absorption. Here is a parting quote:
“How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers.” – G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)
so at the spur of the moment we fled our home Sunday afternoon and drove to Wendover. Yes, we went to a buffet, but really we went there to drive on the salt flats and get minimalist photos. We drove out to the smooth flats and away from everything, shortly all was behind us. Wide wide empty land. We drove out to the floating island mountains and began to climb. Rocks strewn everywhere, all kinds of rocks, lakeshore rocks, volcanic rocks, sedimentary rocks worn in fantastical shapes. Steep scree, so steep and loose that I lost my nerve. And crab walked back down. We got to the top and by then I really had dropped all the pts of the holidays. I was like a caged animal suddenly free. Eddie took picture after picture. The distant mountains, the curve of the earth. Breeze in my face, the January sun casting long shadows at noon. Sad runty scruffy desert shrubs. The shoreline of Lake Bomneville. Fossils. Speeding sort of across the salt. Oh glorious day. We talked about goals for the year. We slept a lot. We ate a lot. Welcome, 2011.
This is a test to see if I can post
Finally made it to Versaille (after getting kinda lost). Not too impressed by all the gaudy splendor. Exploitation of the masses. Ed and I talked about the solution to poverty. He wants to solve it by creating equal opportunity. I say to do that would take an infinite number of law changes, and that won't happen.
Okay, so I’m not sure exactly why we’re going to Paris. We need to find a better reason to be here than just have fun. I decide to look for love.
In front of Heathrow (when we drive up to get on the second leg of our flight) a hefty balding man in a trenchcoat is hugging and hugging a slight woman—as if he cant let her go.
In the airport, Ed says, Can I buy you breakfast? I take that as a loving gesture, but I know that he’s the one who’s hungry.
I watch a birdlike woman with glasses low on her nose read The Mail (a tabloid). Her little hooked nose and receding chin, wrinkled like mine. She sits with her knees together and feet splayed.
Ed comes back with hot chocolate, a chocolate muffin, and fruit. Ewww. I eat it and it makes nme sick. He tells me to walk around to feel better. I pass a young couple in a long motionless embrace. He steadies his bag with one hand and holds her with the other, ntheir cheeks together. When I turn and pass them again, I think I see tears or at least sadness in his eyes. A funeral? Bad news? Illness? Fragility? It was tender.
On the plane, the stewardess makes a special effort to find us a vegetarian snack. Love.
We read Moroni 7. And then….
We are here! We finally get out of customs, the info line, the train, onto the streets of Paris! An American couple with backpacks, neither of them thin, kiss on the sidewalk. You can do that here. Ed tries to, obligatorily. I try to show love by letting him take pictures.
So in the Louvre, love:
Madonnas and child. Madonnas weeping over dead sons. Ghirlandio’s portrait of the warty-nosed grandfather and child. Mary and Elizabeth her cousin. Ann, Mary and Jesus. Joseph’s look at Mary at their wedding. One of the three kings tenderly holding Jesus.
People ogling and snapping Mona Lisa, loving the art that they have been told to love. A dad smiling down and playing with his baby in the stroller while everyone else looks at the Mona Lisa. He stares down with total love.
Devotion to God in these paintings. Love to create, love enough to bring something into existence.
We sit beneath the chestnut trees in the Tuilleries, while Eddie rubs my feet.
Napoleon: He loved self, power, glory. He is laughable. If only he knew how ridiculous he seems now. The picture by David of his crowning—Inwonder if David was laughing at him too.
At the Arc de Triomphe:
“love” of country. We’re number 1!
I'm kinda mean to Ed. Not loving at all. Kinda mad at him for making us eat bad stuff all day, or for being hungry and tired all day. But he didn't MAKE me eat anything. And he was hungry!! So we wander home, and get lost, and his shoulder hurts and my feet hurt, and he needs to go to the bathroom SO bad, and I'm wondering why we came, and we finally–by sheer determination and dumb luck we find the hotel and I rub him and he rubs me and I remember love but can't figure out why my heart gets so hard sometimes. What's with that?
As always, I have to try again tomorrow. And I'll look for more love.
Well….that’s love for today.
Schumann house, where they went to live the day after they got married. The sign says the euphoria of their coming together and the creativity of the two artists were brought together here (or something to the effect). Their marriage certificate is here.
People who visited them: Liszt, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Hans Christian Andersen, Wagner.
Thankfully, at the end you can put on earphones and hear the Klavierkonzert op 54, Allegro affetuoso. Otherwise, it’s not such a cool museum.
But the instrument museum! I almost didn’t go. But as I passed the Grassi museum complex, I decided to go in: Oh my goodness, such works of art: lutes of all shapes and sizes and decoration. Viola d’amore, alt viola da gamba, tenor viola da gamba. The scrolls are heads—cool faces and animals.
There is an 11-stringed (plus drone) Lira da gamba—cello-like—built in 1612. Holy cow! There is a painting of Homer playing it. Don’t think so!
Organs, processional poles (with a moon, clouds, cherubs, and bells), a bass with exquisite inlaid herringbone ivory the length of the fingerboard and tailpiece. The top is stamped with signatures and city names and dates.
These are beautifully displayed in a dim room. Renaissance music floats through.
A 5-foot-tall chitarone, like a lute but with 20 strings. Teeny clavier in a box.
Then in the next room Cristofori instruments, including the oldest surviving piano in the world! It’s a red case painted with oriental scenes and gold gilding around the edge. The keys are wooden and brown, four octaves of them.
There are tiny thin violins from the 1600s-1700s—2 inches wide! Called tanzmeistergeigen. They are inlaid delicately and intricately with mother of pearl and ivory. The scrolls are carved.
These instruments are the crème de la crème. I guess peasant instruments didn’t survive. But you wouldn’t throw one of these in the trash. They are high art. The desire to make music shines out in these instruments, the desire to make art: inventiveness in different shapes, designs, and kinds of instruments. Before we standardized everything.
A spinet by Cristofori blows me away. It’s so beautiful. I forgot to write down why.
Then I see instruments from the 1500s called serpents. Yes, they are curved and folded like serpents. Made of wood, covered with leather, trimmed with brass. Wish I could hear them.
A lute that is super-intricately inlaid all over with precious things in Moorish designs is also voluptuously shaped, thin-waisted, big-hipped and big breasted.
I walk past newer things, past Edison phonograph players, a case of Ri
Richard Jacob Weissgerber guitars. I wish Lawrence could see them! Wish he could see all of this.
Upstairs is a room where you can play instruments. Kids and moms come and play digeridoos, rainsticks, steel drum, organ (watch the stops work), piano, clavier, cembalo (watch thes actions on these, drums, guitars, a cacophony of sounds. I can’t get the organ to play more quietly. A woman wearing earphones comes over and helps me. I ask her if it’s hard hearing all this noise every day and she smiles and nods a little wearily.
I wanted to go find the toothless, disheveled old fiddler in front of Nikolaikirche and talk to him. But I can’t find him.
But I go back to the main street. In front of the Galeria Kaufhof on Grimmaschstrasse the people in drab colors wander up and down at midday. The Spanish band that played earlier is taking a break. A guitar leans against the bench, the accordion on top. An accordionist has set up instead. He has his hat in front of him and plays faster and faster. Young parents and strollers, or couples, or singles, or friends, groups all going somewhere. A bunch of teens in costumes walk by. Everyone is Saxon looking, except the accordionist. No one drops a coin.
His happy music sounds kind of desperate. A woman nibbles a pastry. A bearded, backpack-wearing wanderer pushes a baby pram. Everyone is bundled up.
The musician slows down and changes gears. A young woman in a red parka talking to her friend steps over his hat. A woman with a shopping bag averts her eyes. Two kids standing nearby eat pizza. Nobody seems particularly happy.
So—I go drop a coin in. The accordion is all beat up. His fingers must be cold. He has his jacket pulled up around his neck. The wind is cold, the sky is gray. There’s only one other coin in that hat. He nods at me and begins a new song in my honor. I look back and he’s looking at me.