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Friday, December 15, 2006

Tom's Passing ~ One Year Ago ~

It has been a year now since we buried Tom. I visited his grave today and took flowers to his wife. I visit the gravesite often. Always bringing my problems and needs there and I stand and listen to what he has to say. I feel he is looking out for me, just like in the old days.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Being in Love ~

I said to myself that the girl I saw yesterday in church just had to be in love. Her whole being had a kind of radiance about it. She was completely concentrated and occupied in thought. After church she mingled in the crowd outside and everyone seemed attracted to her and would light up when she looked at them and spoke. Oh how love energizes!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

News from Tamara ~

Dear Charles,
People are saying the when the guns are firing the muse is silent. In my case, apparently, it is not true. I am happy that it was not taken away from me and my soul is continuing to express herself. I hope that your soul finds the way to full expression. Reading the Bible always gives me inspiration. Years I am reading several verses every day and the reading gives me strength and continuation.

Thank you for remembering me and thinking of me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Self Restraint ~

The wise old monk's perspective said: It's not just a matter of giving something up, i.e. television. It doesn't end with making a sacrifice. We make the sacrifice for some other reason. Namely, to find ourselves. To have the quiet and rest to begin to comprehend who we are and what is going on inside ourselves.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Burying a Choir Brother ~

We sang in the choir together. Bass. He was ten years younger than I. Had lost his wife three years ago. They were very close.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bitter Lessons ~

It must have been a bitter lesson for George W. Bush to learn. We learned it in grade school: America doesn't want a king or an absolute ruler. That's why we fought the Revolutionary War. It is ingrained in us.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lost Gems ~

All the beautiful, beautiful things that go unseen and unheard! Like the poem I happened to hear this morning, Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe -- read so feelingly by Garrick Hagon. Has that gem been lost, and only able to be found by chance, as if it were a random grain of sand along the Atlantic coast?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sun Worship ~

Observation: When I stand looking out my window at five o'clock on these beautiful November afternoons and see the setting sun light up the western sky, I see the crows flying past and towards that light. Likewise, in the morning when the sun rises as I take my morning walk I see them coming back from the west over to the beautiful red sphere appearing at the eastern horizon.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints Day ~ 2006

All Saints Day. I know a lot of them right around me. Like the mother who took her 40 year old son to the grave last week. The same mother who years ago lost one of her children when a bookshelf fell on top of him. That saddened woman who can never stop mourning. Quiet saints like she show us how to go on trusting in God. . . And maybe these too.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Rehearsal for a Concert ~ J. S. Bach ~ Mass in B minor ~

When God heard what J. S. Bach created in the Kyrie and Agnus Dei of that Mass with its entreaty "have mercy on us", He had to be so moved by the music that He, then and there, forgave all the sins of the world.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Myriad Everyday Distractions ~

The old monk said that I should be more radical and block out all distractions. You must be silent, he said, to be able to listen to your unique life that is going inside you.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Amish ~

Look to the Amish with humble respect. It was reported that fifty percent of the people attending the funeral of the man who murdered their children in the school house were Amish. That is a lesson.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cosmic Order Restored ~

Yesterday morning at 7 a.m. I drove to a field of flowers nearby. You cut whatever flowers you want and drop a few coins in a metal container on leaving. I wanted a bouquet of zinnias for my wife's birthday. This morning I discovered that my expensive flower shears were missing and thought I might have left them there. If that were the case, there would hardly be a chance that they were there, but I drove back anyway. Low and behold, there they were right in the middle of the path where I had left them. How many people had been there and not seen them, God only knows!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Autumn Walk ~

This morning while walking I felt my shoes swishing through the first patches of dried leaves and heard them crackle under my shoes. So now it's been one whole year already since I experienced that last. That sharp moment of awareness that time had passed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wedding Brunch Next Day ~

This delightful man from next door came by with his guitar and played. Any songs we could think of. Ended up by singing God Bless America. Yes, we are patriots, even if, or maybe because we disagree with the way our country is being run.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Wedding Day ~

It was in the oldest Episcopalian church in Pittsburgh. The bride is Protestant, my nephew is Greek Orthodox. The compromise was for an Orthodox marriage in an Episcopalian church. But there was no Protestant minister allowed at the altar.

It was a wonderful weekend. Three full days of celebration. One of the highlights was the couple's fourteen-month-old daughter who had just learned to walk. She led the procession out of church, hand in hand with two four-year-olds. A wedding is a joy. Seldom affairs any more. I spend much more time going to funerals. [There is one tomorrow here in Germany for an onetime student of mine.]

Friday, October 06, 2006

Enjoying Pennsylvania

Visited Harrisburg and had an excellent guided tour along with a dozen Red Hat Ladies who thought my brother and I, the only men, were real gentlemen of old. At least that's what they said in an elevator! Visited a Capuchin friar in his church in town and on hearing that I had come from Germany he served me an excellent beer. He said St. Francis would have loved it.

Then on to Lewisburg, Pa. where we dined opulenly at a time-honored Lewisburg Hotel [1834], served by polite students from neighboring Bucknell University. Next day to State College, Pa. and Penn State University. Met my nephew there. We walked and marveled at that colossal campus. Saw the enlarged football stadion where Penn State was to host Notre Dame the following day.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Exxon ~ Hagerstown, Maryland ~

While at a gasoline pump in Hagerstown, Md. I looked up and saw three hawks gliding in wide circles just off to the east. They were coasting, without a single wingbeat as if enjoying the freedom of the sky. It was about 7 a.m. and the Maryland dawn had a magnificent orange-yellow color. I parked off to the side after paying and looked again but the masters-of-flight had gone their way.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Heart of the Nation ~ Washington, D.C. ~

Stayed outside Washington, D.C. at the end of the subway system. Next morning purchased a day ticket and rode into the heart of the city at high speed. People around me seemed anxious and unfriendly. But there is a beauty in the underground stations that I have not seen in European structures. Got off at the Mall and wanted to visit the Museum of American History: it was closed for renovations. Went instead to the National Archives, passing through a delightful garden where sculptures by American artists were in place. Then to see the renovated Union Station where I imagined the whole time how bustling it was 50 years back. Lunched there and headed for the Capitol to make the reverent pilgrimage visit I have always made when in Washington. Was met there at that steps by heavily armed guards who warned not to come any closer. Pondering that, went across to the Library of Congress and after being searched, spent the last hour of that perplexing day there.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On the Road ~ Sharpsburg, Maryland ~

On the Pennsylvania Border

Spent the first week of my stay on the road with my brother seeing small-town America. Drove south in Pennsylvania crossing over into Maryland where I wanted to visit the Antietam battlefield. Had read a book about that last year [Stephen Spears] and was so taken by it that it resulted in a poem. My nephew, who is a Civil War historian, spent two days with us there explaining in detail the battle as it took place, hour by hour. By coincidence it was September 17, the very day the battle took place in 1862.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Feeling Like a Terrorist ~

I never had anyone check me over as closely as they did it at the Frankfurt airport before I got on the plane. No area of the body was left unexamined. I felt as if they would only be satisfied if all of us had stripped and gone out to the plane naked. Chuckled about that as we lifting off and were getting above the clouds.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Back Home Again ~ Chicago - Pittsburgh ~

My American Airlines flight to Pittsburgh took me there by way of Chicago where I had a 4 hour layover. I didn't mind. It was delightful just to see the sit and watch the people, everyone in a hurry, not noticing that I was admiring them, the first Americans I have seen in a long time. Just the sight of them made me feel that we are a breed of our own, different than Europeans. Some light-footedness, some ease, some freer rein. And they were all speaking my American language.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

On the Way to the Airport ~ Mannheim Train Station ~

She must have been 60. He carried her luggage in and found a seat for her by the window. A quick kiss. Then he went out and stood on the platform close by her window, waiting. The train pulled out but she didn't wave because she was so busy storing her bags.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Across the Ocean ~

Today I'm all tickled about flying home to Pittsburgh for a wedding. My nephew is getting married!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Recital for Baby Elias ~

As I was playing the piano this morning I was thinking that the next time the little fellow comes I'm gonna' pull his crib right up close to the piano and play those Bach chorals and variations I was just playing. Those pure sounds he has got to hear, to remind him of where he came from.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Excerpt from Tamara's Letter ~

Thank you Charles for your letter. What could be more meaningful for a creator than what you have said to me.

I was never thinking about lecturing because I never wanted to talk about the subject. All that I am thankful for is to have the ability to transfer it the way I do.

About the recognition, it may be as my granddaughter once told me, 'people are going to recognize you after your death'. So maybe she is right and if my stories and my creation are strong enough, this is going to be sufficient to transfer a view of this tragic event in history in the twentieth century which was experienced by me.

I have started to work these days on the addresses you gave to me. I hope to have some positive response.

Thank you again. No words can express my gratitude.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Chimney Swifts Have Left Us ~

They came in June and made a summer of astounding aerial acrobatics for us. As if they were writing in the sky. Were they trying to say something? Was I too busy contemplating less worthy things?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Where is God? ~

I can still hear the old monk saying: if you love God you will see him everywhere -- in the people around you and in all of nature.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Compliment ~

There were two one-year-olds in the waiting room at the doctor's this morning. Their mothers had to wait a full two hours. The children played on the floor the whole time. The one wimpered quietly and wanted to go home, the other tried to humor him by playing with the balls on an incline plane or by setting up blocks. They got along nicely and the patient young mothers had a chance to try out all their newly-learned motherly competencies, in public -- and looked on with pride.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Choral Workshop ~

One wonderful week of singing, mornings and afternoons with a random group of men and women interested in voice training and choral performance. Gave two concerts at the end. Having to part last night was heartbreaking.

There is something about working in a group that gives you the feeling that you can do what is required. It is so much easier than when one has to do it alone. . . but then there was that tiny nagging need for recognition, that little sign of approval.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Friendship ~

Today I get news that an old friend of mine, and choir director and organist at our church back home has been arrested and put it jail for having touched a sixteen year old music student of his in an inappropriate manner on two occasions following the lessons. He also is said to have furnished alcohol to the teenager.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mental Images ~

I can still hear the wise old monk saying: Consider that things are often better in the imagination than they are in reality.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fighting Insufficiency ~

It cannot be: that he who formulates a prayer better than the other is more worthy of being heard.

Monday, July 17, 2006

In this Valley of Tears ~

The insight of the old monks stands: It is the suffering, that we are bound to bear, that keeps us turning to God.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Getting God's Attention ~

Knowing our selfishness [it was given to us by Him, our Creator], I think that God must be pleasantly moved when any one of his creatures breaks out of oneself for just a moment and sends up a word of thanks to Him — for life and what we see in other people and nature all around us.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mail from Tamara ~

Dear Charles,
I am listening to your advice and creating a lot and refreshing the knowledge of my soul. I feel more and more lately that in my painting there are actually souls - soul conversations, agreements, disagreements, stories - sad or happy. So maybe I am bringing the souls in my paintings back to life. Do you think that it is possible?

I wrote two new poems (of a sort) and one which is on my site but I had it re-translated. I would be very honored if you would read them.

About the other sites you gave to me, these days I am going to try to have some answers.

I hope that you are okay. and that your creations are flowing through you and it will not take a long time before I will have the opportunity to read them.

Thank you again for everything.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Experiencing Loss ~ Soccer Championship ~

There was a picture in the newspaper this morning of a young boy in Hamburg with the German colors wrapped around his shoulders walking along the sidewalk with his head down and the caption read: Insurmountable Katzenjammer. I have heard some people who ridicule these fans who just can't seem to get over a loss. I feel for them. They'll pull out of it eventually. Just give them time. Besides that, maybe it's not bad to get some practice at experiencing loss. There are other insurmountable losses coming. Like when you lose your son in Iraq or a child drowns in the pool.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

World Cup 2006 ~ Soccer

They have been three weeks the likes of which I have never experienced in all my time in Germany, some 40 years now. It was soccer that had brought a nation together again: in a common dream, a common hope, a common aspiration, that 11 men gave their all to bring about. And something as trivial as football had brought about that miracle. They had even brought out the flags again that they had only hesitatingly used for official ceremonies for the last 60 years. We were all caught up in the color and the gaiety.

Last evening, in the last 2 minutes of the match, Germany lost. Quietly now, with watery eyes, people are trying to get back to a normal Wednesday.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

An End to Arrogance ~

America is functioning again: When a court of law can rebuke the President and say that even he must obey the laws of the land.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Face of the Newly Born ~

There is no end to looking — We look and look at a baby's face and can never get enough. What is it that we see? Is it something virginal, unspotted, something beautiful that was ours that we have lost and are seeing there again for a limited time, knowing that it will soon disappear?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Solemnity in the Streets ~

It was truly magnificent! Feast of Corpus Christi in our village in Germany. 60 altar girls/boys, 30 choir members, 35 musicians of the brass band, grown ups and children in the local costume, 30 members of the fire brigade in dress uniform. The priest under the canopy with the monstrance, men carrying church banners, all marching slowly through the streets to stop at three different altars for the blessing with the Eucharist. What deeply impressed me was the atmosphere of awe and the many people along the way who would go down on their knee or bless themselves as the monstrance passed by.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Soul's Desire ~

The advice of the wise old monks stands: Avoid the things of the world, do not let them divert you from the one important thing, Him, for whom your soul longs.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Voices from on High ~

I look up into the blue but can't catch sight of the lark singing all those glissandos to thank You for a perfect Sunday morning.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

David ~ With Sword and Harp ~

The story about Saul and David [1 Kings 16 ff] reads like a drama script. Been reading only one or two paragraphs a day, but the suspense keeps mounting. There are lessons we can learn from this David!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Should Little Things Hurt So Much? ~

That sinking feeling I had yesterday when I saw that the zinnia and calendula I had planted and had been nursing along since sowing the seeds in April were gone. The snails had visited overnight and had destroyed most of the batch.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Good to See You Again ~

The chimney swifts are here again and they are having a great time this morning flitting and darting in the light breeze.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Out in the Fields ~

It was on a hillside, a beautiful long meadow where the wild orchids were in full bloom. Our group admired them at the side of the path and then ventured into the fields deeper to get pictures and get a close view. An expert told us about the many varieties and the dangers from pesticides and acids. You felt as if they were now yours if you were able to identify them and name them.

I felt the elusiveness of the beauty of flowers. It is for us to see, to enjoy, but their beauty remains apart from us. It belongs to God alone, and He is beyond all possession.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Thank You ~

How thoughtful of you, Cheryl, Pia and Bob to send me your congratulations and well-wishes. The never-expected surely does enliven. As a grandfather you made me feel right chipper again. Thank you for your kind words. Charles

Letter from Tamara ~

Dear Charles,
I hope that my letter is finding you in high spirits even though all of the events in the world are not making humanity feel so cheerful. Anyway, that is what I feel.

I have a big favor to ask and I hope that I am not bothering you. I will never forget that you helped me with the Auschwitz museum. Without you I would not have sent my art to this place. Time in general is limited and I have so much to accomplish. What scares me is that I do not have much time. I came to the realization this year that to purify my soul the paintings should be shown in Germany also. I do not know to whom to turn or what to say. Some places around the world, when I approached them with my art, did not even answer. Europe is not any more the world of yesterday of Stefan Zweig.

I hope that you are in your creative period. I am creating with a slightly different perspective which brings me a lot of satisfaction. I am not a person who thinks about time, dates and numbers. It was never important to me. But when I start feeling the limits, I start thinking about the end of time.

I am sorry to bother you. I would be very glad if you could help me with a name of something else.
I wish you a nice summer.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Gift from Heaven ~

What does a first time grandfather say when his daughter, the little baby girl I used to play with on the soft carpet in the living room, has given birth to her own baby now? She kept waiting for me to say something on the phone. . .

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Meeting with a Poetess ~

Yesterday we were sitting in a restaurant. She is eighteen and college bound. She wanted me to see some of her new poems. There was one she had written about her mother, about breaking loose and going off on her own:

"I tried to hold myself in your arms, Mother . . .", she wrote.

Beautiful, poetic idea. I tried not to show her how deeply it had moved me.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

World at the Window ~

Standing at my window in my study I can view our yard at eye level. What all can be seen there as the months pass! One foot away I have the most beautiful columbine that has shot up between the flagstones.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Treasure Piece ~

Today I disposed of an old black briefcase Aunt Martha had given me as a graduation gift back in the 1950's. I had used it through my college years and as a young teacher. When it was too worn to use I just couldn't bring myself to throw it away.

From my window, with heavy heart, I watched as the disposal truck came and drove off with it.

Valley of Tears ~

Spent the hour at the piano this morning. How consoling and quieting were the Bach hymns I played after attending the crushing funeral services for Dr. C. yesterday. I played with his wife and two daughters in mind.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sadness ~

Just four months ago he gave me my yearly checkup, Dr. C., the dermatologist. Yesterday I read in the paper that he had died. Fifty-six years old. On inquiry they told me he had hanged himself.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monk's Insight ~

The lesson of the wise old monks stands: If you have all you need with 20 of a thing, do not strive for 30.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Kodak ~ Another Icon ~

Heard rumblings yesterday that Bell Laboratories, a symbol of American ingenuity, is about to be dismantled. And now, Kodak is focusing very sharply on digital. If their late entry into digital photography doesn't pan out the whole complex might come tumbling down.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Something Big is About to Happen ~

Our daughter is about to give birth to her first child, our first grandchild. Expecting in the first week of June.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Last Words ~

I remember my friend Tom who died last December saying, jokingly, that when he was gone he would make himself felt by tugging at my jacket when I was out taking my morning walks. I didn't take him literally but started to think that the crows I see when walking might somehow be expressing that tugging. Ah, that's silly! Be that as it may, somehow the crows have taken on new meaning for me.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Starting from Zero-Zero ~

A Black Day it was when I tried to reinstall Windows and lost just about every bit of information I have stored. It is that feeling that the house burned down or the city was bombed. Having to start again from scratch. But on the other hand, it is good to be free of all the balast. Maybe a clean board will free up new energy.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Walk in the Woods ~

Every now and then one realizes things in a whole new light. For example, the notion that nature in all its forms is a being that is totally independent and that it exists all by itself and needs no help from man. Trees and flowers and birds and insects are givens. Literally given to us. One is astounded when one realizes that obvious fact fully.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Faultfinding ~

It is irking. Nobody cares to be corrected every time they turn around. To refrain from correcting is a virtue that has a definite, positive effect when it comes to the relationship with one's partner and/or children.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

At the Piano ~

Take J. S. Bach, Goldberg Variations, Nr. 30 and play it — you can do it a lifetime — and every time, every time, that electrical feeling runs through you and you awaken to the sublime.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Morning Walk ~

Stood in the middle of a field and listened to a happy twirping of a lark that was fluttering high above me. Then I saw a windhover approaching, stand perfectly still in the air, the soft white of the flapping underwings caught in the sunlight. Then I saw a crow coming from directly behind the windhover and finally the two birds swooped. The crow flew on but the windhover went down.

I waited long but saw nothing more of that noble wind-dancer.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

King Automobile ~

The price of gasoline this week in Germany: $6.38 per gallon. Are we crazy, paying that kind of money? We are worshiping the idol of mobility?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

German Youth ~ 2006

Saw this while passing a kiosk this morning:

Every fifth 14-year-older has already had sex.
60% of the High School students have nothing against a One-Night-Stand.
30% only pretend they have had a orgasm.

: Bild Zeitung, Berlin

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bell Labs ~ Pride of America ~ Gone

Bell Labs has been bought by a foreign company. Another American icon, our inheritance from Alexander Graham Bell, gone. There have been no protests, no cries of rage, not even an offer from another American company to acquire it. What has happened to our American pride?

At the Gravesite ~

We took her to her grave yesterday. She was 94. Spent a life in the service of the church. Her brother was a priest and she forfeited marriage to be at his side lifelong as housekeeper and helper. She played the organ and sang. And she could cook. She lived next door to me and I would visit her. And watch out when she would walk to the nearby post office in ice and snow without a coat.

There weren't many people at the funeral. All her friends had passed on long ago.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Living by Faith ~

Living by faith is a risky business. He who lives by faith runs the risk of having lived it in vain. But I must be up to accepting that challenge. By no means easy. Why does this thought keep recurring?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Johannes Passion ~ Johann Sebastian Bach

Just spent the regular morning hour at the piano. Spent the whole time on one aria of the Passion that kept pulling me into its spell. While playing I thought what a privledge it is to be able to bring Bach's profound religious emotion out of an instrument. I feel indebted to Bach for showing me the depths of sorrow and making me feel it in a way that no other medium ever has.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Wonders of Childhood ~

But wasn't it in childhood that I experienced the most wonderful awarenesses. Like that day at the age of 3 or 4 when in that wallpaper shop with mother. The vague, harmonious memory of those moments there produces an overwhelming pleasure and strong longing for the happiness of childhood that differs so distinctly from all other later pleasures. Regrettably, it is not something I can recall at will. It is a feeling that has come over me maybe a dozen times in life, and when it does I realize that I am there in that place.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Flying to God ~

I once heard someone say that the soul, in its natural state, would fly to God. We block this natural movement by allowing our distractions to weigh the soul down.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Changing Perspectives ~ On Reading Shakespeare

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
The struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

I remember reading these lines as a High School student. I was amazed at the ideas Shakespeare presented, the beauty of the metaphors, the strange new way of viewing life. On reading this now there is none of that fascination for the artistry.

What I now read is a precise description of reality as I know it to be, a satisfying statement of truth.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

Floating with God ~

Early Irish monks had an unusual way of doing God's will. They would get into a small boat and let it float to wheresoever. . . Now that sounds strange, but somehow I like the idea of floating with God.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

St. Bernard ~ Intellectual ~

. . . So surprised to find him saying this:

"You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Adapting ~

When the first passenger jets took to the air people were wary to fly in them because they felt unsafe without propellors.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Iraq ~

Today the cost of the Iraq War reached $250,000,000,000.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Parents' Lives ~

Often nowadays I find myself musing over my parents' lifetime in the '20s, '30s and '40s. How they lived such a full life. Their friends, their active social life, their successes. And now it is all ashes and dust, a forgotten story except for a few threads that still exist but will cease to when we pass on.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Question for Architects ~

Would the great medieval cathedrals ever have been built if the builders were not absolutely convinced of the Eucharistic presence of the Person that the structure was to house?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Table Manners ~

They say you can tell more about a person by his table manners than by what he says.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Letting Go ~ Letting Be

My comments about playing the piano [Fingering] and letting the fingers find their place without my placing them according to numbers really apply to life itself. What I have this to learn: let myself be directed from a source outside myself. Let that determine how things should be. Stop trying to direct everying. Let go. Let be.

Friday, March 10, 2006

America's Tarnished Reputation - 2006

Mikhail Gorbachev said that the ending of the cold war a gift to the United States. He was telling reporters on this 75th birthday that despite the great opportunity that the end of the cold war presented to the U.S. to build a safer and more stable world, it only strengthened America's arrogance and we-don't-need-you attitude.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Piano ~ Fingering ~

Strange as it seems, I am learning to let the fingers tell me where they should be placed. I always used to study the suggested fingering numbers. But if I let them, the fingers show me where they belong.

I must work at that: letting the fingers to do the thinking.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Thoroughness ~

Carl Czerny, the famous piano teacher [1791-1857], told his students that they could only then play a piece before an audience only if they knew it so well that they could play it in private at least ten times in succession without a single mistake.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Changing One's Mind ~

Today I read that an overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately. Article

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Shovelling Snow ~

This year, for the first time, I hired someone to shovel the snow. There has been loads of it. I wanted to save my back from further pains. Why spend the money on therapy afterwards? I had to admit to myself that I just wasn't able. Sitting in the house and hearing someone else clearing the walk and driveway is quite a luxury.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Succumbing to Pride ~

Stephanie Boehler, a former student of mine when I taught at St. Blasien College in Germany, is seen here with her German teammates after winning Olympic Silver in the Women's Cross Country Event.

I'm rejoicing with you, Stephanie, and proud to have had you as a student.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hardships for Seniors ~

One of the plagues of age is this: you become aware of your own flaws and insufficiences. Those old weaknesses that you had all along but didn't clearly see. Now they all show themselves clearly. One feels shame. It takes a good portion of courage to master this troubling recognition. I learn humility late in life.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cicero ~ On Old Age

We were High School students back in the late '40s and were reading Cicero's On Old Age. Back then I didn't know what to make of his statement that it was young men who had sent the most powerful governments crashing to ruin, but it was the old men who had either kept them strong or restored their strength.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Winter Thaw ~

Our fierce cold winter has broken, the deep snow has started to melt and already a reddish shimmer has shown itself on the birch trees in the grove.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dresden, Germany ~ February 13-14, 1945

It is 38 minutes past midnight and I hear the planes flying overhead on their first bombing run to Dresden. How can I close my eyes in sleep recalling what human suffering we caused there?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

State of the Union ~ President Bush

State of the Union: $439,000,000,000 allocated for defence in 2007. When will we have a President who spends half of that on making peace in the world?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Morning Visitor ~

The joys of retirement: This morning after breakfast had time to watch a furtive nuthatch land heavily on the feeder and make off triumphantly with a single sunflower seed.

Friday, January 27, 2006

January 27, 1945 ~ Liberation of Auschwitz

Here some recently completed verses that describe the unknown girl as she passes before me . . .

To an Unknown Girl in Auschwitz

by Charles L. Cingolani

Who are you who make your way

among the crowds?

You, Two-Six-Nine-Five-Three,

You, the Flower of Jewry

proud, erect, your denuded skull

that once flowed rich black

with hair that tumbled fountain-like

around a slender neck of ivory

cascading onto shoulders

to fall divided gliding down

over breasts and back.

Alas, what noble forehead I see

above dark pools

wherein burn radiant eyes,

your soft sunken temples,

the slope of your regal nose.

Those lips, lightly pursed

above a chin held aloft,

borne with that silent certainty

of being loved already

by one yet unknown to you,

but whose presence now felt

propels your dauntless search.

Your every movement graced,

your feathered step,

your groping hands gliding

those fingers loosely stretched

that have yet to caress

a newly born babe

or cushion a lover's head

from loving spent. . .

[click here for continuation]

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ~ 250th Birthday

Attended a Mozart Birthday Concert. The first piece was a symphony by the eight-year-old prodigy. It contained the embryo of all that was to come. The pristine beauty and clarity as in his later themes, the joy and the magic. Mozart's music opens a drawer for us and there he presents us with music we somehow know but have never heard expressed. Every line of music keeps eliciting a "yes, that's it".

Monday, January 23, 2006

J. S. Bach ~ Musical Patterns

Quite aside from the sound of Bach's music there is the beauty in the patterns that the fingers must make on the keys to produce the sounds. It is a pleasure in itself to shape the fingers into the flowing geometric figures called for. Discovering these patterns, this fresh kaleidoscope of new-born forms, produces a deep inner delight for me at my piano.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lesson in Prayer ~

He was an eldery priest, humble. He said: "When you talk to God you must always start with your own ego. You must become fully aware of yourself here and now. When you have done that you should say 'Here I am, Lord, ready to hear You'. And then you wait for Him in His presence. Wait, not demanding that He speak, and satisfied, too, if He doesn't.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Sunday Morning ~

This morning at half past seven the eastern sky was tinted reddish-orange as the sun was just about to come up behind the hills, while in the western sky the bright moon was still hovering over the horizon. It was bitter cold. Five crows flew overhead, gliding lazily toward the sunrise.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Words of Strength ~

Tom's daughter found a poster that she framed and hanged beside Tom's bed. On it were the words: God spoke: I will not let you fall, and I will not abandon you. Josue I,5. Tom held onto those words in those last days.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

War ~

And this nagging thought keeps coming back: We are a nation that was duped into war. Even though we know that, we take it all in stride. Where is the rage?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Thinking Back to Christmas ~

Joy, being joyous— that was the Christmas message. Joy dispersed fear [of the shepherds]. Then peace on earth could happen. Do the suicide bombers know what joy is? Tom knew joy, as he was dying. The source of our joy is Christmas, the birth of the Savior.

Letting Days Pass By ~

How I used to hang on to the days, holding them back, regretting their passing. Let them pass— there is no holding. Allow them carry to where they are leading, giving thanks.

New Years's Concert ~

Was privledged to attend the New Years's Concert: Handel's Messiah in Freiburg, Germany. Choir of Claire College, Cambridge. Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. René Jacobs. A sublime rendering, three hours of worship. Singing to our God.