Saturday, June 25, 2016

Remembering a music teacher

I'm quite a fan of Turner Classic Movies, even though most of the time I forget it exists.  But during an idle moment (I have many of those) I'll occasionally be wandering through the vast wasteland that is television and remember to check TCM.  

I'm not that big on movies, really.  I'm usually not willing to commit two hours of my time to something that forces me to sit and watch a show that probably isn't going to impress me.  If I'm going to see a movie, I prefer to watch an old favorite rather than risk wasting my time on something current I'm pretty sure I won't enjoy.

I like "It's a Wonderful Life", "Little Big Man", "Christine", "It Happened One Night", "The Shining", "Casablanca", "Grapes of Wrath", "Stand By Me", "Easy Rider"... see?  There isn't much to connect any of those except that they're old.  A couple of those date from the thirties, long before I was born.  I am willing to sit down and watch any of them again, at any time, knowing I'm going to enjoy myself.

The other day I was checking Turner Classic's schedule to find something to record for later and saw "Music Man".  I hadn't watched it or thought about it in ages, but decided to record it to watch when Cliff's busy in the shop (he hates musicals, says they don't make any sense).  I first saw the movie in 1963 at one of the big theaters in downtown Kansas City.  I went alone, because I had no social life and nobody to go with.  But I digress.  

I would never have considered watching a musical, ever, had it not been for a music teacher I had in, I believe, the eighth grade.  I was attending the brand new Northgate Junior High School.  I think the class was called "general music".  Oh, that fancy new music room in the new school was something!  

I don't remember the music teacher's name, although I vaguely recall what he looked like.  Occasionally he would put a long-play album on the record player, and our entire time in class that day would be spent listening to a Broadway musical soundtrack.  Some of the songs were familiar... I watched The Carol Burnett Show, after all, and she featured a lot of classic Broadway songs... but they weren't the type of music I would have voluntarily listened to as background music, given the choice.  Forced to listen, I was fascinated by the songwriting skills of Rogers and Hammerstein, and amazed to learn that with the exception of the leading man and lady, not everyone who sings a song in a famous Broadway play is all that talented a singer.  Whoever sang "Everything's Up To Date in Kansas City" wasn't even trying to sound good.  I laughed at the comic songs and fell in love with "Some Enchanted Evening".  I nodded my agreement to "You've Got to be Taught".  

I used my allowance to buy some of these sound track records from the Columbia Record Club.  My country-music-loving parents, used to my usual fare of Elvis, the Everly Brothers, and Rick Nelson, thought I'd taken leave of my senses when they heard the voices of Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin coming from behind the closed door to my room.  

As all things go with teenagers, it was a phase that didn't last too long, but those songs reside in my heart to this day.  Sometimes when I step outside on a lovely morning, I just can't keep from belting out a few lines of "Surrey with the Fringe on Top", or even better, "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning".  

I wish I remembered that music teacher's name.   


Friday, June 24, 2016

morning discoveries

I'm still coughing.  At this point, I try to step outside to cough if Cliff's in the house.  It's a deep, rattling cough that goes on and on, and he can't help commenting:  "Oh yeah, you're getting better.  Right."

I point out to him that Cora is still having coughing fits, and she's had this mess ten days longer than I.  

This morning, I can honestly say that I do feel a little energy.  I've been weak as a kitten through this whole thing.  In fact, that's how it began, with two days of barely being able to put one foot in front of the other.  My self-diagnosis was low potassium, because I take water pills for high blood pressure.  I remember my mother having this problem.  Of course I consulted Dr. Google.  However, when the sore throat developed, I realized I had caught Cora's bug, which was probably causing my weariness. 

I have managed to sit on the back deck every morning, which is like a tonic.  We've had very hot temperatures, so the one time it's comfortable to be outside is in the morning hours.  Most times there's been a pleasant breeze.  That keeps the mosquitoes that love to feast in the morning hours from destroying my serenity.

Today after soaking in the perfection around me for a few minutes,  I left the deck and went to the garden, where most things are doing well.  This year I am not fretting about crop failure.  The garden is half the size it used to be, and has straw covering areas between rows.  Actually, it seems to be someone's failed oat crop, because all the grains are still on the straw; I guess it's very dry oat hay that perhaps was ruined by an ill-timed rainstorm.  This has presented a slight problem, because those little oats like to sprout and turn into new oat plants.  I knew this could happen when I spread it, but since it's no big deal what happens with the garden this year, I went ahead with my plans.  As it turns out, those sprouted oat plants pull easily, and there are fewer of them than there would be of the weeds that would come up without my mulch preventing their growth.  Since my garden is small, I've been doing a fairly good job of keeping up with the unwanted oat crop.   

A Facebook gardening friend has been mentioning "JB's" a lot on her status, saying they were a big problem.  I puzzled at what those initials stood for... all I could think of was June Bugs, and I always thought they were harmless.  I finally checked into her status more thoroughly and realized she was addressing her Japanese Beetle problem.  I even saw a picture of them she shared.  Hmmm.  OK.  

Yesterday morning as I strolled along the sidewalk in front of the house, I glanced at the Hibiscus plants, which will soon be blooming, and saw hundreds of those same shiny green bugs I had seen pictured by my friend.  I looked closer and was shocked at the lascivious acts being committed on my plants!  There had obviously been some gluttonous acts, too, since there had been huge holes eaten in the leaves of my prized plants.  Sevin dust to the rescue.  

On my garden stroll this morning, I noticed a few tomatoes are really getting some size on them.  Maybe by my birthday I'll be able to have a BLT.  Ah, but wouldn't you know there was trouble in paradise.  Tomato hornworms have started eating leaves of some of the plants.  Again, Sevin dust to the rescue.  There are lots of bugs and pests that aren't bothered by Sevin, but thank goodness it still works on Japanese Beetles and Hornworms.

I only wish it worked on raccoons and opossums.  There's been no sign of a problem with them yet, but I recall last year when the little varmints started pulling tomatoes that had barely started to ripen off the vines, eating a bite or two, then going after another.  As I said, I'm not stressing much over the garden this year, but I do have a problem when I miss out on my earliest home-grown tomatoes due to a useless varmint.