Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Short Cuts.....

...for hot days. Back in town in mid afternoon on Primary Day. Aaron and Lizzie came to vote with me, as they often do. Lizzie wanted to help, but seemed to take it in stride when I told her she would have to be older. She undoubtedly hears that often. Aaron asked first if he could put the ballot in the box. Thankfully, none of the poll workers shouted 'Voter Fraud!!' or ripped the ballot from the six year old's hand. Voter confidentiality is but thinly veiled in our little town. The workers do their duty, check our IDs and ask which ballot we want. But they not only know who we are, and which ballot we want, they could cast our ballots for us if we were deaf, dumb and/or blind. Blake is poll watching today. When we received the email with the unknown name and title "all you need to know for August 3", I opened it. What it included was a map of Atchison county with capital letters at the airport, Tarkio, Fairfax......you get the picture. I thought, perhaps some dignitary is coming into the airport and the map is being sent as an unnecessary courtesy. Nope, the map is to direct Blake to the polling places. Really now!!! Sometimes the machinery of politics gets a little ridiculous when transposed to our very elementary level. Calling results in four times today is also probably overkill.

The Color Purple

Or, more accurately, that dark blackish hue of purple fountain grass, or 'Royal Tapestry' alternanthera, or 'Dark Star' coleus, or 'Black Pearl' ornamental pepper.....it is the irreplaceable hue of hot summers. Without that color, every other plant would look washed out by the time it has endured two weeks of ninety plus days and night temperatures that stay above 75 degrees. Chartreuse? It's looks chlorotic. Reds? Sunburnt. Blue? Ha! Find any blue flowers beside scaevola. But if you plant anything with a 'Black Magic' colocasia, it looks brighter as the deep velvet just soaks up all that sun. All of a sudden, your garden has contrast again, just as if you put polarizing sun glasses on.

The Shows Go On

We took a nostalgic family outing to Omaha earlier this month to hear Lyle Lovett and his band (Its not big, its large) at the Holland Center. The audience was composed primarily of folks well into middle age for which we could find just two possible explanations: either they are season subscribers, or Lyle, whose first recording came out the year Ben was born, looks younger than his primary audience!! But then again, if you have looked like a caricature of yourself for your adult life, you deserve the compensation of agelessness. The venue was spotless, the seating spacious and artistically curved. The performers were not just mailing it in and the star was entertaining and thoughtful. There was no intermission so we certainly got all our money's worth; it was a marvelous mix of new and old tunes.
And yet, and yet.....we have also spent the whole summer practicing and now performing in a community theater production of a musical; like music can, it has infiltrated our unconscious as well as our conscious moments. We dream the tunes from 'Thoroughly Modern Millie'; particularly catchy or difficult licks run over and over as I water like a scratch in a record. Sometimes I can't even remember which song I'm humming, but I can't think of anything else; it takes physical effort to sing any other melody in my memory. And we're just members of the pit orchestra, not actors, not singers, barely footnotes in the program! That commitment of brain power, dexterity, concentration is what music is really about...down at gut level, toe tapping level, shake the stage level. It is wonderful to hear the pros perform and I admire the perfection produced by mere humanity. But I wouldn't miss any opportunity to pick up my motley assortment of woodwinds and tackle the same score the pros play on Broadway. What a blessing to be part of the artistic community, even a peripheral part! I can't appreciate the genius that produces some art, but I know just how difficult some fingerings are. Thus am I joined to the marvels of musical theater by the common language of flats, sharps and rests. I will always recognize the score of the shows I've played and be thankful for the direct link from Rock Port, or Shenandoah to the genius of American theater in New York. Its great to be in the audience, but its better yet to play!

Heat Wave

Lightening in the distance...far north about a hundred miles. This is the August weather I remember as a kid. Lightening leaping from cloud to cloud in silence; maybe part of a thunderstorm, maybe just what we called 'heat lightening.' Whatever the meteorological cause, the bottom line was more heat, no rain, another day just like the day previous. I don't remember it raining during the summer when I was young, except for a double header at Comiskey Park that was rained out. But I clearly remember dry brown grass, running the sprinklers and the soaker hose, and fighting the horseflies and grasshoppers. For whatever reason, my genetic or cultural make up is such that I dread droughts more than overly wet weather. And believe me, while this year I have ample reason to change that predilection, I just can't... When I see the lightening up north, I still have to check the weather forecast and the radar. I just do.

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