Category Archives: Music

Blackbird, Bye Bye

We have some very noisy black birds in the spruce trees in our front yard. I don’t know if they are Blackbirds, Starlings, or Grackles.  I know they aren’t Crows or Ravens. We have Crows in town. They are bigger than the other black birds, and like to harass and chase the local owls. Husband sees Ravens up on the Reservation. They are quite culturally significant for our native friends and are portents of various things.

The black birds in our trees have hatchlings in a nest who make the most terrible harsh noises when they want to be fed. The parents follow us around the yard and scold us and sometimes swoop. I am ready for the black birds to go bye bye!

Tell some bird stories. Talk about Miss Peggy Lee.


Anger Management

My husband is a gentle, scholarly person somewhat lacking in manual dexterity and mechanical know-how.  He married into a family of impatient, dexterous, mechanically inclined hot-heads. The Boomgaardens are famous for their tempers.  I have a farmer cousin noted for throwing tools. I have great aunts who had hair pulling fights in ditches. I have great uncles who shot at each other with rifles.  I manage to keep my temper pretty well, but last weekend was a challenge for me. I am thankful no one got hurt.

It was hot last weekend. We did a lot of outside work in the yard over a four day period. It involved planting seeds and shrubs, spreading mulch, laying out soaker hoses and sprinklers, digging holes, and maneuvering around piles of bagged topsoil, composted manure, and bales of peat moss with tools and wheel barrows. For each task I saw clearly how we had to do it, in what order, and what physical and mechanical actions had to be taken. I was pretty driven to get it done as fast as we could before the heat of the day made it unbearable to work outside.  When I get like that, I forget my theory of mind, and assume that everyone around me sees the tasks and the procedures that need to be accomplished exactly the same way I see it. I get impatient when the people I am working with don’t seem to get it the way I get it, when they fumble around and look ineffectual and dithering.  As Husband said “You do things and you don’t explain what you are doing until afterwards.”  Why should I have to explain what I am doing if it is plain what has to be done?!! Why can’t you think like I think?!!

A very alarming ear worm took hold last Friday as I became increasingly frustrated with Husband and his inability to read my mind.  I decided I had better sit down and have glass of water and reel in my temper. I have no idea from what odd recess of my brain I dredged this up:

The chorus from this went through my head all weekend.  It made me laugh at myself and my irrational assumptions, and forced me to see how unreasonable I can be.  Perhaps all anger management classes should include Broadway musical soundtracks.

How do you manage your temper? What is the angriest you have been? What is your favorite Broadway song at the moment?

Music to Bake By

Photo Credit:  Very Vanilla Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer

I’m a cookbook reader. When I see a cookbook (usually online) that looks interesting, I ask for it from the library and can spend a lazy Saturday afternoon or an evening flipping through the pages, reading through the ingredients, looking at all the photos.  Every now and then I see a recipe that I want, then I mark it with a post-it note and make a copy.  And rarely I will decide that I really need to have this cookbook in my collection.  (This is a hard decision, because my current cookbook shelves are full, so if a new cookbook comes into the house, an old cookbook has to go!)

Yesterday I picked up Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer.  Some very nice looking recipes and I did have a couple of post-it notes, but wasn’t really thinking this was something I needed to purchase… until I got to the back of the book. There, on page 323 was “Music to Bake to”.  She even had two columns, one for Morning Tunes and one for Night Grooves.  A lot of jazz as well as some Joni Mitchell and Peggy Lee.  Even some Over the Rhine!

Here’s one of her morning tunes – a wonderful song, although I would probably never have come up with it on my own for baking background music!

Now I’m re-thinking whether I need to get myself a copy of this cookbook.

Any cooking tunes of your own?



Planning the Pageant

I always look forward to the MPR airing of the Festival of Nine Lessons  Carols from Kings College in Cambridge, England.   I have been in the chapel at Kings on a couple of occasions and sat in the choir stalls next the choir during an Evensong service.  This Sunday, our church is having its second annual performance of  Lessons and Carols, and I am really excited because I get to plan it.

Our bell choir director asked me to finalize the program for the service again this year.  She is more interested in the music than the lessons, and you have to take both into consideration when you plan the service.  The hymns and musical numbers need to reflect the meaning of the lessons. For example, the first lesson is about the Adam and Eve story, and the music that follows needs to reflect the Fall.  Hence, the musical number is will be that of the choir singing Lost in the Night, a mournful and serious (but kind of hopeful) Finnish Christmas carol.  The Kings service always starts out with a lone boy soprano singing the first verse, acapella, of Once in Royal David’s City.  We don’t have any boy sopranos, but we have a female high school Junior who has a pure and high voice and who is willing to give it a try.  Local people from other denominations will read the lessons, and our bell choir and vocal choir will perform songs.

Our church was founded by German immigrants, and is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  I am of German ancestry, but most of my relatives were members of the  Missouri Synod Lutheran Church.  For reasons too complicated to go into now, I was raised in a Norwegian Lutheran Church.  I adore Scandinavian hymns, and planning our Lessons and Carols gave me complete control over the hymns that the congregation will sing at the service.  I made a point of finding as many appropriate Scandinavian hymns as I could. These people need to be educated.

We will sing Swedish,  Norwegian, and Danish Christmas carols, ones I  loved as a child, but none of which we sing regularly in our church. Some include:

Bright and Glorious is the Sky (In Danish, De Jlig Er Den Himmel Bla)

Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers (In Swedish Haf Trones Lamp Fardig)

Savior of the Nations, Come (A German hymn but popular in Norway)

I suppose this is sort of self-serving, but it is fun, and no one has complained yet.

What pageantry have you been a part of?  What are your  favorite carols?



Thirty Percent

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

In class the other day, the teacher said, “Thirty percent of your life is doing things you don’t want to do. If you’re lucky.”

What do you think? I think it’s probably high for me in general. I know I am very fortunate to do what I love and have my own schedule. I’ve managed to cut a lot of the stuff I don’t like out of my life.

You may recall I’ve talked about the week of Christmas concerts in December and it all just makes me grumpy. That would be a time where 80% of my life is not what I want. But wait! There are changes afoot! New (temp) music teacher. Concert completely revamped! Not exactly sure what’s going on yet… the secretary compares it to herding chickens. But at least it will be different! (We keep reminding ourselves Change is Good!)

Is 30% high or low in your life?

It’s Just Not the Same

Today’s post comes to us from Occasional Caroline.

Occasionally, I start writing a comment on the Trail and my comment gets so long that I think I should just make it a blog of its own. So here goes. This started out as a reply to the 11/7 Old Favorites post from BiR.

Something that happens quite a lot, is that I “discover” something in its early stages, when it’s free-to-inexpensive, and easy to get seats to. Then it grows and grows, until it’s expensive and you have to get tickets well in advance or buy a whole season if you want to get in at all, and finally it’s out of my price range and a long term commitment.

Two examples are Talking Volumes and the Music at the Zoo concerts. I know that if they hadn’t grown, they probably would have been gone long ago, but I liked being in the little group who appreciated what they did and the way they did it and that they appreciated everyone who was there and we knew it.

In the early years of Talking Volumes, they had 5 or 6 events per season and they were spread out between about September and May. Now there are 4 or 5 and they all fall between October and early December. Too much, too close together. It feels like a job to go and they commit a lot of seats to huge book clubs. It’s just not the same.

When my sister and I started going to concerts at the Minnesota Zoo, tickets were $12-$15 and the hard wooden bench seats were labeled for approximately 20 seats per row (that’s an arbitrary number as an example, I’m not sure of the actual numbers). Several years in, prices started going up but all the seats were still the same price and if you purchased early enough, you could get one of the boxes at the top of the amphitheater if you purchased all 4 seats in the box. You had a good view and a chair with a back. Then one year they renumbered the bench seats and a row that formerly had 20 seats, now had 25. Fine if everyone on the bench had a 12-inch or narrower rear-end, but pretty cramped if there are even 1 or 2 plus size folks in the row. And prices continued to rise. My sister started getting the standing room only passes which was a good deal and it was easy to decide at nearly the last minute to take in a show. Now, when you buy a SRO pass, you have to choose your concerts when you buy the pass. None of this is terribly out of line, but when you started when it was simple, spread out, and cheap, it’s just not the same.

I hope to discover some new start-ups to support until they price themselves out of my range. I did hit on a promising one with daughter #2 last Saturday. She lives in Lakeville and had spotted an interview with Lorna Landvik interviewing Lakeville’s own Loretta Ellsworth at the Lakeville Area Arts Center. Tickets were free and since we are big Lorna fans, she asked if I’d like to go with her. It was fantastic! The book Loretta had written (Stars Over Clear Lake) takes place partially in the 40s and features the Surf Ballroom. We were expecting a Talking Volumes-type event, which would have been fine, but this far exceeded our expectations. First, a chorus from a Lakeville high school performed a variety show of WWII-era music. They came out in different size groups, ranging from 1 to 20 members and almost all of them were excellent and all of them were well-rehearsed, enthusiastic, and charming young people. Then came the interview which was good and made you really want to read the featured book as well as Ellsworth’s earlier, young adult novels. Then, there was an excellent concert by the Hoplions Westwind Swing Band. They played a rousing set of big band, 40s tunes that was excellent. Great musicians and singers and a fun playlist. It was a wonderful show and we will keep an eye out for others like it in Lakeville, until they get to popular, too much in demand, and too rich for our blood.

 Anything just not the same for you anymore?