Things In Yards

What ever became of Things in Yards? Not Stuff in Yards, but Things in Yards. Stuff in Yards includes boats, cars, plumbing fixtures, parts of agricultural equipment, tractor tires, and so on. But growing up in the late 1970s-1980s, I remember that almost everyone seemed to have something in their yard, a statue or figure or something. There were the (in)famous pink flamingos, jockeys with one arm extended and either of black or white complexion (for some reason most of them had green and white racing silks), a kissing couple (usually Dutch), Mexican farmers napping under a big sombrero, and concrete lions of varying styles. Continue reading


Hardcore Housecat

Until Athena arrived (wrapped in a blanket, at most 6 weeks old and projecting cuteness rays that would persuade anyone to take her in), I’d never met a cat who did not want to go Out. You see, the cats at Redquarters have all had this idea that a paradise existed on the other side of the door, a paradise called Out. And oh, how they wanted to be there.

Why leave? It's warm, and quiet, and the food and water are three feet from my tail.

Why leave? It’s warm, and quiet, and the food and water are three feet from my tail.

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Randall Thompson: American Composer

So, I seem to be in a musical mood again today, probably because of some things I’ve singing recently. Randall Thompson, the American composer, has been lurking around the corners of my mind. Some of my favorite choral compositions are his, including “The Last Words of David,” “Alleluia” (which has the hardest lyrics ever to remember đŸ˜‰ ), and parts of the “Peaceable Kingdom.” He is probably better known for “Alleluia” and “Frostiana,” some of which I enjoy and some of which I just sigh and power through. When you ask people about American classical vernacular composers, I suspect more people would name Aaron Copeland than Randall Thompson. Charles Ives might come up, although in my case it would be with a mild shudder. Dissonance is not something I enjoy.

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Arranging Things Differently

So I was out walking the other evening, trotting along to a Mormon Tabernacle Choir recording of American hymns and spirituals. Trotting to hymns? Yes, because many of them have brisk tempos, to put it mildly. When your choir has excellent diction, you can do brisk. So along comes “Down to the River,” and I did a sort of double take, because I’d never connected their version with what I think of as the original. And both work. Continue reading

The Omaha Temple

*Note: This is the weekend post. I have a major concert today (Saturday) and will be playing catch-up on Sunday*

Over a decade ago I worked in a Really Flat State. My flying job took me across the Midwest, and at a stop in Des Moines (if memory serves) I saw an article in the newspaper about a new Latter Day Saints temple being completed in Omaha, Nebraska. The piece described the significance of that particular location, and mentioned that it would be open for tours prior to the dedication. After the dedication, only Mormons in good standing could go inside. Being a curious sort, and having seen the museum in Florence, NE several times as a child growing up in that area, I decided to use some vacation time to go take a look.

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Martinmas, Armistice Day, Veterans Day

November 11 is more than “just” Armistice Day and Veterans’ Day. It is also the feast of St. Martin of Tours, one of those rather unlikely figures in Christian history. He was born in the fringe of the Roman Empire between AD 315 and 340 CE (accounts vary). He began a career as a soldier in Pannonia (modern Hungary or Slovakia) because the laws of the Empire required sons to take up the occupation of their fathers, and Martin’s father was a cavalryman. His career took him westward, crossing the Roman Empire to Gaul. Iconography shows him on horseback, dividing his uniform cloak and giving half to a poor beggar, an event that is believed to have happened near modern Amiens, in Gaul. Martin later refused to fight (battle near modern Worms, Germany) and offered to go into the fight unarmed to prove his sincerity. For these reasons, and a few others, he is a patron of soldiers and of conscientious objectors. And then there’s the geese.

A typical depiction. From wikiGallery, not for commercial use.

A typical depiction.

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Happy Birthday USMC


From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli . . .

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli . . .

We will fight our country's battles in the air, on land, and sea.

We will fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea.

Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps! 241 Years and Still Strong.

And because I choke up every single time I see this (dang it):