Tuesday, April 29, 2014

music education


Lately I’ve been feeling so much more sophisticated than I have any right to be. For years we’ve intended to attend a performance of the symphony because that seemed like something sophisticated people do.  We always managed to find an excuse not to go.  The cost of the tickets was usually the main reason that we stayed home instead of entering that new world of sophistication.  But the symphony has had a special low cost series of concerts intended to lure new fans into the concert hall.  There went our excuse.

It’s not that I don’t like classical music.  It’s just that I don’t really understand what I’m hearing when I do listen.  I don’t know one composer from another.  I don’t know the various eras represented by the music.  Who came first, Bach or Beethoven? Where does Mozart fit in the long scheme of things? I am intimidated by all the music I don’t know. So to avoid the embarrassment of my educational lapse I stay away from anywhere where a discussion of the Romantic period or the  decline of the clavichord might break out and suck me into the black hole of my ignorance.

 But now I have discovered that my ignorance of all things classical is really no handicap.  I’ve found that if I just sit back and let the full force of the live  orchestra’s sound wash over me  I can lose myself in the music and enjoy it the way the composer, whoever he may be, intended.  There is really nothing sophisticated about it. The music is the same whether you are formally dressed in a tuxedo or wearing your faded blue jeans. 

 Now that I’ve put aside my fears of the symphonic experience nothing will keep me away from the concert hall. Except maybe those high ticket prices.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

back pain or pain in the butt


A couple days ago I strained my back while lifting and moving some heavy boxes in the basement.  I’ve done that before—lifting heavy objects improperly-- with the same result so I should know better.  You know how they always tell you to lift with your legs and not with your back?  Well, I’m not good at following advice, especially really good advice. Consequently, I hurt my back.
There has been a lot of moaning and groaning and grimaces since that incident.  All of it by me. I have to play up the hurt –even exaggerate a little-in order to get the sympathy I so richly deserve.  Unfortunately, my whining has fallen on mostly deaf ears. I think se may be onto my act. But not to worry, I have a few cards up my sleeve to play whenever I need to pump up the sympathy meter.  There’s the frightened gasp that escapes me whenever I rise from a chair and momentarily lose my balance and fall/sit back down. That always gets her attention and elicits a few “be carefuls” and offers to help me get up. I can usually count on an offer to take my arm whenever I employ the feeble old man act. And there’s always the reliable PD shuffle if I want to sit in a wheelchair and be chauffeured around instead of having to walk. Soft and nearly inaudible whimpering in a corner of the next room is sometimes good for “what’s wrong, Baby.” Since I have a compromised sense of balance her antennae twitch anytime I approach a stairway. If I really want to get her riled up I can “stumble “ on the stairs.  The coup de grace would be an actual tumble down those steps. That’ll boost the sympathy quotient off the charts.
I just wish I could get all that attention and sympathy without actually hurting myself.  I haven’t quite figured that part out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

trust and stuff


Yesterday we, Mary and I, met with an estate planning attorney to get a new trust established to deal with the consequences of our inevitable demise.  The meeting ran smoothly and most of our questions were answered, so now all that’s left is the paperwork.

But it all seems so trivial.  Here we are, deciding what to do with all the “stuff” we’ve accumulated over the past 45 years.  Stuff that has meaning and value, both fiscal and emotional, to us, but, except for rare instances, means squat to our heirs.  By designating certain objects to go to particular individuals, we are hoping that they will cherish and appreciate them as we did and add to the continuum of family heirlooms.  At the same time I know that styles change, taste and sophistication change, and our valued stuff becomes their trash.  In trying to do right by them, we will have burdened them with the task of disposal of all our treasures that they don’t want and probably won’t need. 

I think a better way to do this is to let them take whatever they want and agree on and sell the rest or donate what might be useful to others.  Selling as much as possible puts more money in the kitty to be divided among them and relieves them of the burden of accepting stuff they don’t want.  Of course, all this conjecturing assumes that Mary and I are going to drop dead at the same time, and real soon, before we have the chance to use all those assets by living too long.

What I hope we can pass on to our children and grandchildren, that will mean more than all the stuff, is our value system and sense of respect for others. The intangibles that we leave them with, our living example of how to conduct a good life, are our most prized possessions.  How can we put that into the trust?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

another miracle


While cradling my three week old granddaughter I was once again amazed that this little jumble of  bone and muscle and nerve could be arranged so  perfectly into the purest  of miracles.  That she might one day be fully grown and have a little miracle of her own to wonder at, just compounds the amazement.  The circle of life continues.