Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Musical Interlude -- The ghosts of ....

Calling up the past, I'm posting a couple of favorites, and some poignant dark humor ...

The Shadows – Cavatina [1979]

Simon and Garfunkel – The Only Living Boy in New York [1970]

And finally, based on the much-loved Calvin and Hobbes comic strip which ran from 1985 to 1995

Merry Christmas!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Another inconsequential meandering ...

Today we had snow!

With the temperature now hovering near the freezing mark, I fondly recall an unusually warm September evening, two scant months ago.

My office window was wide open to cool the room, yet no breeze stirred the air. I was listening to Santana's
Smooth when I heard a rustling sound just below the window, where shrubs grow thick and flowers bloom all summer and into the fall.

An animal, I thought, perhaps attracted by the music. And I wondered, do animals hear music as music? Or is it simply sound to them, part of the background noise that comes with society?

Of course animals hear. [I discovered spiders can hear when a very large spider appeared in my basement. I said, "eek!" The spider jumped six inches into the air, then scurried on.] Animals differentiate loud and angry from soft and calm. They know the roar of a motor, the crack of thunder, children laughing.

Some dogs and cats, some wild things, too, howl along to certain tones. But do animals hear the beat, the rhythm, the shades of music? Do they feel it? Do they rock to the Rolling Stones? Sway to jazz, tap their paws to upbeat dance tempo, weep to the sad violins of Schubert's Serenade?
Was a cat, mouse, maybe even a snake listening enrapt to Santana?

An intriguing thought, made all the more possible when the song ended and whatever had been there rustled away.

Then reality, as it always does, popped my little bubble of fantasy. You see, my husband had been outside watering flowers, and the sound I heard had been him dragging the hose through the shrubbery.

I don't give up easily, though. I spent some time at You Tube where a dedicated searcher can find anything rather quickly, and found a few videos that could confirm that yes, animals hear music as music.

Decide for yourself.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011


October 31, 2011
Pumpkins and that little devil, Roxy, ready to rumble.

November 1, 2011
The party's over...


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

And the winner is. . .

New Zealand! 8-7 over France.

The same way I watched the beginning of the first game, I watched the end of the final game, and parts of many games in between.

While I still don't know all the rules, I was able to follow what was happening.

The last game was a nail biter – it could have gone either way.

Rugby is a tough sport, the toughest I've ever seen, definitely not a vanity sport. These rugged players from all over the world won my respect.

Well done, all the teams. Well done, New Zealand All Blacks!


Monday, October 03, 2011

In Memoriam -- K F Hartwell

Kevan F. Hartwell Dec. 21, 1920 - Oct. 3, 2001

I wrote this poem for the fifth anniversary of my father's death. I've revised it to reflect the tenth year. I sit at his desk, surrounded by his books and feel his spirit beside me.

In Memoriam

Ten years, Dad, since you’ve been gone.
And here’s a new October dawn.

Ten years passed like one moment in time, the blink of an eye,
a solemn whisper, a small sad sigh.

We miss your music, miss your voice, your wisdom and your cheer.
The world has changed since you’ve been gone, for you’re no longer here.

The space is dark and empty you once so brightly filled,
but we are not forsaken; you're here beside us still.

Your words still clearly echo, your hands, with love, still guide
As we reflect upon the past with tears, with smiles, with pride.

Ten years now since you’ve been gone,
And we, the living, must live on.


It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, September 09, 2011

My First Rugby Game

Last night I was channel surfing when I came across the opening ceremonies for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, in Auckland New Zealand. It was a grand spectacle, lights, music, dance, incorporating aboriginal moves with classical and modern.

After the grand fireworks display ended, the first rugby game began. I had never seen this game played so thought I would watch. I had the impression that it was like football, a game whose intricate principles I have never understood. Well, I know what a touchdown is, but because I don't get it, I am bored.

The teams from New Zealand and Tonga marched onto the field and formed a long line. The national anthems played, and it was a lovely display of patriotism for each country. They regrouped, team glaring at team. Then, with the unison of a well-rehearsed chorus line, the Tonga team huffed and puffed, made belligerent hand gestures, and shouted out what must be their team song, their voices harsh, faces mean.

New Zealand's turn. Oh yes, these men were also skillfully choreographed and showed equal fist-pumping anger. I watched in astonishment. Was this an ancient male prewar ritual? These teams were ready to do battle.

I was reminded of a nature show I recently watched where two handsome male birds fluffed their feathers and strutted about, baiting each other, cawing, their goal to impress the female bird who stood coyly waiting. They menaced and charged toward each other until one backed out of the game.

Instead of a coy female, the prize here was – The Ball.

The game began in earnest. Wow, those goal posts stood close together. This ought to be interesting, I thought. And it was. Rugby players do not wear the humongous padding that our football players wear. [Why? Is our football so much more dangerous? How can I now not think of these well padded footballers as, well, sissies?]

This is impressive. Everyone piles on the player who has the ball. That may be the same as our football, but there it seems the similarity ends. There are no whistles, no interminable stopping of the clock, no advancing two yards or two inches, or whatever. Someone wriggles the ball out of the pile and runs with it, dodges the opposing team, then throws it to a teammate, who throws it to another, and so on until there is another pileup.

I could understand what these people were doing. The trick was to form a line and not let the opponent get through to the goal. [We played a kiddie version of this in grade school, without the ferocity, without the pileups.]

All in all I found it a fast-moving game, with players constantly moving about, passing the ball, or jumping into a big pile on the one who has it. I didn't watch the entire game, but I hear New Zealand won 41-10. This may have been the first and last rugby game I watch, but I'm interested enough to keep up with the results.

And I have to say, I'm impressed.

-– Cat

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Because some days . . .

. . . no matter how warm and bright, are just plain shitty . . .

Chris Rhea -- The Road to Hell
from 1989, yet could have been written yesterday/

Sometimes the world is just too much . . .

It seems to have been so forever. This was written in 1807. Wordsworth would like to return to a time when man worshiped nature and the old gods.

William Wordsworth

The World Is Too Much with Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Summer Flowers

I've been "breaking in" a new computer. (Or it's been breaking me.)
Not much time for anything else, so here's a few pix.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Saxy music

When my son was in seventh grade he was required to take Band. As he would learn to play a musical instrument--not provided by the school--he announced with great excitement he had chosen to learn the saxophone.

To the music store we went in anticipation. Ouch. Saxophones = much money. (I distinctly recall playing a triangle in elementary school band. Supplied by the school.)

The store owner wisely advised us not to purchase the saxophone outright, so we opted for the rent-to-buy plan. Yes, he knew that most kids' initial eagerness to learn this beautiful, shiny instrument waned after the first year.

Not so, Son assured us. He would learn to play like a pro. He would practice, practice, practice.

I have a fun memory of him and his buddy sitting in our living room for about an hour with their brand new saxes making all sorts of horrible sounds. I'm sure the neighbors up and down the block also heard the clamor.

Well, he learned to make the proper sounds and string them together in a progressively smoother manner. He practiced, he cleaned and buffed.

Ah, we thought. Could he aspire to the lofty heights attained by Charlie Parker and John Coltrane? Were we listening to a budding Kenny G?

Grandiose delusions aside, here comes the inevitable however . . .

His interest, although less keen, lasted through eighth grade. He reached a plateau, not the apex for which he'd once aimed. Improvements ended, regular practice sessions dwindled. He was no longer "into" playing a sax.

Yes. Puberty.

We returned the instrument to the store. No one said, "I told you so."

Somewhere, we have a picture of him and his gleaming sax. Somewhere, we have a video of his band concert.

Must find them.

Two of my favorites:

Sonny Rollins accompanies Leonard Cohen in Who by Fire

Candy Dulfer plays Lily Was Here from the 1989 movie of the same name. Dave Stewart on guitar.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Never underestimate the power

Horrifying reminder of nature's awesome power--

Heart-breaking tragedy for the nation of Japan.
We hold our collective breaths as we wait for news.

We have resolved to endure the unendurable and suffer what is insufferable.
Hirohito (Japanese Emperor, 1901-1989)


Friday, January 28, 2011

A Citizen's Duty

Today I received a summons from the Supreme Court of BC to appear for jury selection for an upcoming criminal case.

A dazzling prospect! I've long wanted to sit on a jury.

And a criminal case, yet. Would I decide the fate of a drug dealer, a thief, perhaps a murderer?

I have no doubts that I can provide a fair, unbiased verdict based on evidence. [Is not my horoscope sign Libra, "the scales," a natural judge?]

Countless courtroom dramas I've watched or read flashed through my mind.


The Verdict, To Kill a Mockingbird, 12 Angry Men, Erin Brockovich, A Few Good Men . . . .

Books by:
Grisham, Turow, Baldacci, Bugliosi . . . .

Television shows:
Law and Order, Ally McBeal, Matlock, Perry Mason, Damages, Judging Amy, Shark, The Practice, the British Rumpole of the Bailey . . . .

I enjoyed them all, the serious, the off-beat.

At last I'd personally see slick lawyers at their best. And Crown prosecutors in action. Objection--Sustained--Overruled-- words would fly back and forth. I'd see witnesses break under examination. Spectators swear, weep, faint as stories unraveled and raw facts shocked the courtroom. The judge would be pounding his gavel, calling for order. . . .

Would the jury be sequestered?

[The only courts I'd ever attended were tax court, as an employee of Revenue Canada to observe an appeal. (boring )

And when my husband was called as a witness in the case of a kid he'd seen break into cars. We waited two hours for the case to be called, then another hour or so as the parties talked. In the end we were told to go home. The kid made a deal. (double boring)]

Finally cold reality set in.

I can't serve on a jury due to health reasons.

And as fast as a computer click on the Supreme Court website, I was disqualified from ever again being summoned for jury duty.

Back to movies, books, tv shows.



When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty. ~Norm Crosby

A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer. ~Robert Frost

The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try.
~William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

People who love sausage and people who believe in justice should never watch either of them being made. ~Otto Bismark