Category Archives: Music

December Music

We have sung some hymns in church set to Welsh melodies lately, and Husband says he gets the shivers whenever he hears them. He attributes this to having some Welsh ancestors, and thinks the melodies tap at some deep primordial aspect of his collective makeup.

I tend to be more opinionated rather than shivery over church music. I like Advent music in church. One isn’t supposed to have Christmas music in church until Christmas. Advent music tends to be quiet and contemplative, which is fine with me. I find my teeth on edge when our church music gets too boisterous or when we sing hymns that have a lot of lyrics in the first person. How Great Thou Art is an example. Our Worship and Music director really dislikes Blessed Assurance, but was gracious enough to sing it the other day at the funeral of a 103 year old parishioner. Our recently retired choir director couldn’t stand Amazing Grace and refused to perform it or sing along when the congregation sang it. We have one song coming up on our December choir schedule that sounds like it should be in an old time western movie. The left hand piano accompaniment rhythm sounds like a horse ambling slowly on the trail. The congregation has loved it when we have sung it other years. I try to think of funny lyrics to it while we practice it, which reduces my irritation.

I really do like to sing in our church choir, and we have some fun performances coming up this month. Husband will play a duet on his cello on Christmas Eve with a flute player. We will do A Festval of Lessons and Carols like they do at King’s College on December 18. We won’t sing How Great Thou Art.

What gives you the shivers? What December music do you like? What December music do you loathe?

Random Thoughts

Today’s Farm report comes from Ben.

It’s December. Not too much farm stuff this week, and I have some random thoughts.

I saw SEVEN ducks fly over to their breakfast! Everybody but the poufy and the two big black ones. Rosie and Guildy, the regular mallards, and the two that I always assumed were too fat to fly. (Is it OK to call a duck fat?) But they all flew from the pond to the corn. Yay ducks!

It was down in the single digits the other night and I had to turn on the wellhouse heater again. I sure don’t remember having to do that in November or early December before.

I got the rear blade mounted on the tractor and got to use it after the 3” of snow we got on Tuesday. As usual with the first snow and the not solidly frozen ground, I ripped up some sod. Oops. Well, the chickens like the dirt. Gonna be rough mowing next summer, but that’s next summers problem.

We did get the driveway markers in and snow fence up last Saturday. That Saturday after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a nice weather day and we’ve done snow fence for several years on that day. It was a little windy, but it wasn’t too cold, and as long as we worked with the wind, the fence stayed up by itself and it went OK. It helps that the posts are still there one year to the next. Last year my shoulder had just started to hurt, leading to the surgery in February, so I wasn’t much help with the snowfence last year. We put up 400’ in about 1.5 hours this year. Next year I’m hoping to install some permanent wood posts for the ends of the sections. It’s on my list of next summer’s jobs.

Every night I give the dogs some ‘Milkbone’ dog treats. Allie has to get one first. Humphrey will not take a treat first; he’ll only take one after Allie gets hers. I don’t think it’s altruism, I’m not sure if he’s that suspicious? He won’t take pills or eat anything without sniffing it first. And Bailey. She’ll leave the treats sit all night. And when I open the garage door the next morning, she grabs a treat and heads off to bury it in the snow. She’s so weird. They’re all so weird.  

I’ve started baking Amish Friendship bread again. Just did my second batch of 6. I should be able to get one more batch in before the knee, then I’ll stall it for a bit. I’ve got a list of things that needed to be done before my knee replacement. (8 days and counting! I’m excited and scared and cautiously optimistic!) There were some big things like getting fieldwork done, and machinery put away, getting the snow fence up, and putting the rear blade

on the tractor were the last two items. But then I started adding minor things, just so I could enjoy crossing them off. I’ve added things like ‘Put up Christmas tree’ and ‘Show Kelly the well house heater’ and ‘move the piano’. We’re making progress on the list!

Music this week: I’ve been listening to the Modern Big Band channel. And on the car radio I heard Nina Simmone singing ‘Sinnerman’.



Today’s post comes from Ben

Today it’s snowing. I’ve learned from meteorology class this happens because the air is cold from the cloud all the way to the ground. I think I kinda figured that.

Glad my soybeans got harvested last week. They started late Friday afternoon and finished on Saturday. They ran better than they have in the past ending up with about 52 bushels / acre. I heard one guy complaining about his crop and the drought and how they were only running about 45 bushels / acre and not 80. Must be nice. I’m happy with 45 so to get 52 is very satisfying!

Could have been the fungicide applied this year, could have been the good growing weather. If it wasn’t for all the trees shading out the edge rows, and if it wasn’t for all the deer eating off the tops, maybe I could get 80 bushel beans too. It is what it is. Price is good and we got $12.81 / bushel. It made a real good check. And it will almost cover all my expenses this year for fertilizer and chemicals. Once corn is harvested, (and that looks to be a good crop too, and price is good on them yet at around $6/ bushel), I’ll be able to pay off the seed bill and make some loan payments and have some left over. I spent a night this week figuring out next year’s crops and I’ve already ordered some fertilizer before a price increase. Urea (nitrogen) fertilizer price is down a little this year, other things are up even more than they were for this year. Man that hurts. And I need to order 500 gallons of diesel fuel one of these days. That’s over $5/ gallon.


Oh well!

The ducks, Rosie and Guildy, and the poofy and the two black ones, and the other mallard looking ones are all good. R&G still spend most of the day inside. That’s a good place to be today. Kelly had to rescue another upside down chicken.

I’m busy at the college building a set for our fall show, “One Snowy Night” by Charles Way. Based on a Norwegian Folk tale, I’m building an ice block and a fire ball that they drag across the stage.

I heard a song on the radio by the band Traffic. The song was ‘Am I What I Was or Am I What I Am’. That’s a fun question so we’ll let them set the tone. Last week we had The Turtles, this week it’s Traffic.


Happy Together

Husband and I both work for separate Human Service Centers right now. His agency is in Bismarck. Mine is in our town. The magic of technology means that he only needs to go to Bismarck one day a week, and all the other days he can work out of my office building. The State calls it “Hoteling” when you set up like a squatter at another State agency building. He works in an office I occasionally use for testing, just across the hall. We spent part of yesterday scoring Rorschach Inkblot Tests together. How romatic, right?

This isn’t the first time we worked in the same building. We worked together in the same department at my current agency for 15 years before he retired the first time. I suppose it is fortunate we get along. We have spent a lot of time together over the decades. At least neither of us had to supervise the other at any time.

The people at my work tell me they think it is so “cute” when they see us at work together. I don’t quite know what they mean by that. We aren’t lovey-dovey or anything like that. I suppose it is sort of unusual to have a married couple at the same agency. I can only imagine the drama had we been at odds or openly hostile with each other.

How do you think it would have turned out if you had to work with your partner or spouse? Any stories about couples working together at the same place? Were you a Turtles fan in the 60’s?

Where in the World is VS?

A friend of mine recently re-located here and just moved into her new townhouse; she invited me to come down for a few days to visit.  Although I have been to this state, I’ve never been to this city before, despite having sent a few groups here over the years.  I’m looking forward to a few relaxing days of sightseeing and entertainment.

    • The city is named after a Continental Army general during the American Revolutionary War.
    • The person who first called the U.S. flag “Old Glory” lived here.
    • The largest songwriter’s festival in the world is held here.
    • There is a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon in this city.
    • President Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase “good to the last drop” here.
    • This was the first city in the nation to be granted an FM-broadcasting license.
    • The first seeing-eye dog training school in the U.S. was founded here.

Where am I?  And if you know, what should I see while I’m here?

They Call The Wind. . . .Annoying

We just can’t get a break with the weather. Our home garden got planted late due to freezing temperatures in May, and then we had a hail storm in June that took out the tomatoes and peppers and shredded the beans and peas.

Our church vegetable garden is planted in six, waist-high raised beds. We planted bush squash, peas, beans, and savoy cabbages there. We planted the squash and cabbages in raised mounds just to give them ample depth for roots. That garden didn’t get the hail we did at our house several blocks away. Last Sunday the bush squash and cabbages at church were looking spectacular. Then, on Tuesday, the wind hit.

I never realized how shallow squash roots are. The wind gusted up to 50 mph, and almost entirely uprooted the squash. Husband frantically placed cedar shakes around the squash and cabbage mounds to block the wind, and piled more dirt over the exposed roots. Many of the squash stems were bent and the leaves broken off and wilted. By yesterday they looked a little better, but, again, this sets back possible harvest.

Our home garden wasn’t affected by the wind since the plants are at ground level, not in waist-high raised beds. I think we will have ample cabbages and squash to take to the food pantry if the church garden doesn’t produce.

Let’s have some weather inspired songs and poems today.

Nap Time

Our grandson is 4, and is at that stage where, if he takes an afternoon nap, he can’t go to sleep for the night until after 10:00, and if he doesn’t nap, he is a real pill until bedtime.

When Son and his family visited over Memorial Day weekend, we put on a vinyl recording of Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester narrated by Meryl Streep, with music by The Chieftains, for grandson to listen to one afternoon. Son listened to the same recording when he was a small boy, usually at bedtime. I was tickled to find Son and Grandson sound asleep on the sofa shortly after starting the recording. They didn’t even get to the part where the Tailor sets free the mice that Simpkin, the naughty cat, had imprisoned under the tea cups, before they dozed off. I have always liked Simpkin. Grandson was so tired after traveling to us that the nap didn’t interfere with his usual bedtime.

What helps you sleep? Who is your favorite Beatix Potter character? What do you remember about naps as a child?

Summer of Love

Today is the first day of “Summer of Love”.  Ten years ago, the owner of my company unveiled a summer employee appreciate program.  The main components are no dress code (seriously – the printed instructions say “if you can’t get arrested wearing it, it’s good”), 7 half Fridays off with pay, food trucks on Wednesdays and dogs allowed on Fridays.  There are usually three summer concerts as well on the big lawn of Building One, complete with snacks and beverages (of the alcoholic sorts).  Most years we’ve received t-shirts or hats.  It’s a lot of fun.

For opening day of Summer of Love I’m in shorts and one of my State Fair t-shirt collection.  YA actually went to the Memorial Day Mini State Fair yesterday.  Friends had gone the night before and said it was more robust than last year.  But in looking over the website, it didn’t look that much more robust to me, so I passed.  I don’t need any pretend state fairs… I can’t wait.  (I already have tickets for this year – bought them in January.)  YA has reported that the mini state fair was exactly that – mini.

And, of course, zories (flip flops).  To get ready for spring and Summer of Love, I got my zori bin out and straightened it up and re-organized it by color.  My current zori count is 45, although unbelievably enough I don’t have any red ones; the red ones bit the dust last summer.   Guess I’ll have to make a trip to Old Navy soon!

What are you looking forward to this summer?

A Comedy of Errors

I was told this story on Sunday by a member of our Bell Choir. I thought is was pretty funny.

A couple of weeks ago, a member of my Bell Choir was playing the organ at a local Catholic wedding. She was under the impression that all she had to do was accompany the singer. Well, when she got to the church the day of the wedding, the priest informed her that she needed to play for the whole wedding service, including the liturgy. She had no music for the service, and had to rummage through the organist’s files until she found it. It wasn’t in the right order, however, so she just tried to wing it.

The organ in the church she was at is in the balcony at the back of the sanctuary, and unless people looked back, no one could see her. She phoned her cousin, who had played at several Catholic weddings, and her cousin talked her through the service. It came time for communion, and her cousin remembered that there had to be a hymn as the bread and wine were brought to the altar. She told my friend to just open the hymnal and play something. My friend hurriedly opened the hymnal and played the first chord of the song on the page to which it opened, which was in D major, and realized that she had opened the hymnal to Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, which wouldn’t have worked out for a Spring wedding. She sustained the D major chord with the foot pedals as she flipped through the hymnal to find another hymn in D major, and finally found one. I guess the rest of the wedding service went ok.

I can only imagine how nerve-racking that must have been. I sort of wish she had played Oh Come, All Ye Faithful. That would have really made the wedding one for the books.

Any comedy of errors you can tell about? What are some songs you would like to hear at a wedding?

Mystery Musical Score

Over the weekend, I watched “Bunny Lake is Missing” with Lawrence Olivier and Carol Lynley.  It’s about a woman whose daughter has disappeared and many folks seem to think she has made up the daughter.  I hadn’t really intended to watch it but the opening credits listed a handful of characters and then I noticed “The Zombies”.  My curiosity about how you get American actress Carol Lynley, British legend Lawrence Olivier and The Zombies into one movie got the better of me.

At one point, Olivier, who plays a police inspector, takes Lynley to a pub to get something to eat.  The tv above the bar is tuned to a channel playing a broadcast of The Zombies.  They are not identified at all.  Then in another scene, they can again be heard on a radio playing in the background.  There is no reference to the band at all – and no indication of why The Zombies.   I looked it up after the movie was finished and apparently 3 of the songs in the movie were written by them.  But I couldn’t find anything that suggests how Otto Preminger (producer and director) hooked up with the band.  I guess since the movie was shot over 55 years ago, we’ll probably never know.

How long do you think you’d survive in a zombie apocalypse?