Butterworth Is Not Just For Pancakes

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Hubby and I were driving home one day, the light of dusk darkening what had proved to be a stressful day.  My old knee injury was bothering me, so at one point I was waiting in the car while Hubby ran into a store.  I pushed the radio button and started flipping through channels.

I like most styles of music but for a car ride I usually settle on soft rock, classic rock, or country.  Occasionally, I listen to classical, but the problem with classical in the car is the road noise when you drive.  Classical music tends to have very soft sections and very loud sections, all in the same piece.  So you’re bumping along down the road, can’t hardly hear it, and turn up the volume until you do.  All’s well until suddenly the brass section comes blaring in with a forte, and it just about blows you out of the car!  Which is why I tend to keep my classical listening outside of our vehicle.

This particular day, while Hubby was in the store, I couldn’t find one song I wanted to listen to.  Except, there was a particularly nice piece by Claude Debussy playing on WFMT.  So I let it play… and by time Hubby came out the Debussy had ended and a narrator was discussing pre-WW1 music.

It was the tail end of a two-day program highlighting music before the Great War came along and changed the face of composing.  As we drove home, the narrator gave a summary of his playlist and introduced the musical piece he was ending the program with.  It struck me funny, because the musician’s name made me think of the fancy skirted bottle of maple syrup fame.

It was an English composer, George Butterworth, who has little music to show for himself as he really had only gotten started before the war broke out and he joined the British Army.  Before he was deployed, he destroyed many of his musical compositions himself, fearful he wouldn’t return from the war and have the chance to revise them to his satisfaction before someone else heard them.

I think it’s safe to say he must’ve been a perfectionist.

Some of his music, however, had been previously published and he had already gained a reputation as an important musician.  It was generally felt that he would’ve become one of England’s finest composers if he hadn’t died in the war (he was only 31).

Hubby and I pulled up in our driveway and turned off the car engine just as Butterworth’s orchestral rhapsody, A Shropshire Lad, began to play on the radio.

I haven’t the words to tell you how truly peaceful and calming this pastoral rhapsody was.  From the very first notes, lovely images of a sunny, summer day in the English countryside came to mind.  We both just sat there, mesmerized by some of the most beautiful music we’d ever heard.

It could be that the contrast between a stressful day and the salve of the music was so vivid.  Or it could be that I don’t often hear a piece written in the Dorian scale (also called Russian minor).  Either way, it was an unexpected blessing I won’t soon forget.

It also made me sad, thinking of his destroyed compositions.  What beauty have we been deprived of in Butterworth’s quest for perfection?  And I wonder… what gifts do each of us have that we purposely squelch, because we are embarrassed by not meeting our internalized standards?  Who could we have helped with our ‘meager offerings’?

I went online and found a YouTube recording of the whole rhapsody, performed in 1944 by the NBC Symphony Orchestra (Stokowski conducting).  I listen to it now, from time to time.

What if it wasn’t a co-incidence that my knee was bothering me that day?  Or that Hubby wanted to stop at that store?  And maybe Debussy was playing at that time to act as the proverbial dangling carrot, drawing me to that station at just that moment.  (Doubtless the good Lord knows how I feel about impressionistic music.)

I realize not everyone thinks everything happens for a reason.  And maybe it doesn’t.  But be it luck or blessing, isn’t it amazing when you get exactly what you need, exactly when you need it?  Perhaps someday, when we are in heaven, we will all have the opportunity to hear Mr. Butterworth’s destroyed works.  I like to think that heaven will include concerts by our favorite musicians.  Heavenly music the likes of which are heard nowhere here on earth.

If you are having a stressful day, or you just need a reminder of summer, I highly recommend you listen to Butterworth’s music too.  I hope it will be a blessing to you as well.

 

 

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands.   Psalm 66:1

 

… singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.   Ephesians 5:19


Traditions Of Love

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Valentine’s Day elicits strong feelings in people – positive and negative.  There’s the V-Day haters (who’ve had bad relationships or feel pressure because they aren’t currently in a relationship), and the V-Day lovers, (who go about annoying all the haters by declaring how wonderful love is).

I confess, I’m in the lover group, and I live with a romantic man (Mr. Romantic), so there’s no ignoring V-Day even if I wanted to.  Which I don’t.  So sue me.  I believe in love.

Nevertheless, I haven’t always been happy in love, nor have all my relationships been good.  Some have been pretty darn awful, and I’ve put in my time feeling irritated with the whole February 14th “rubbing my nose in it” day!

Plus, as I’ve said before, I think our modern Valentine’s Day is harder than ever on couples (see Love Is Harder Online).

But all that aside…  does anyone even know how this red-filled, expensive card, long-stemmed roses, dinner out, pressure to express our love event even started?

According to the “experts” (whatever that means), apparently not!

Ask most people and they’ll tell you it’s because of Saint Valentine.  But did you know there was more than one Saint Valentine?  I sure didn’t.  Until I looked it up.  No one seems 100% certain which saint it was.  Not to mention that the stories of how it all started are just that… legends… about priests performing forbidden weddings, doing miraculous healings, and spreading the gospel of Christ.

Then there’s the folk traditions and various customs that link Saint Valentine’s with the advent of spring.  One earth-type version has Saint Valentine doing something mystical with the roots of plants, and causing the season’s new growth.

They weren’t all priests either… there’s a ‘Jack’ Valentine that left sweet treats for children at their back doors.  Not sure why he did this, but apparently the kids were scared of him.

My favorite story is that Valentine’s day is when the birds sing songs of love to each other, pick their forever mates and get married.  S-tweet!

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in lots of countries around the world, by lots of different names with lots of different legends and stories.

It’s not all just about romantic love either.

In fact, romance didn’t seem to be the main focus in most of the origins surrounding the celebrations.  Even now, not every country relates the day with romance.

Some interesting facts, according to Wikipedia:

Estonia and Finland translate Valentine’s Day into “Friends Day”.  It’s about showing your friends how much you appreciate them.  In Iran, it’s a festival that combines a celebration of the earth with love towards mothers and wives.

Valentine’s Day is illegal in Saudi Arabia, because it’s seen as a distinctly Christian holiday, not sanctioned by Islam.  The ban has created a black market there for V-Day shop items, like roses.

The countries that spend the most on Valentine’s Day are China, South Korea, and Singapore.

Sadly, much of the local customs and origins of V-Day are being lost around the world, as the westernized, commercialized version of Valentine’s Day spreads and trumps a lot of the original celebrations.  Still, it’s clear that Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love.

It’s about LOVE, period.  Religious love.  Love of nature.  Love of family and friends.

Just LOVE.

I definitely think that’s something to celebrate!


It’s Coming… Again!

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Am I talking about Valentine’s Day?  Or Jack Benny’s birthday?  Well, yes, those are just around the corner too.   But what I’m here to relay is information on the second annual Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden, which runs daily from February 14th through March 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you missed reading my orchid post last year, highlighting some of the interesting sexual propagation strategies of the orchid, click here to read and see pictures, then go to the show and discover more of the interesting orchid patterns yourself.

(Hint):  Guys – taking your lady to see the more than 10,000 orchids at CBG would be a great Valentine’s day outing.  Plus, if you go to the preview opening on the evening of Friday, February 13th, there are also cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a jazz ensemble playing.  Each weekend they also have orchids for sale.  Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. also feature various music performances.

Hubby and I must have attended last year’s show on one of those special days (just by luck), because I remember being serenaded by a string quartet while we viewed the orchids.

Tickets cost $8 each for members, or $10 for non-members.  Be aware that if you are not a CBG member you will also pay for parking ($25 dollars at the gate or $20 online advance parking, CBG members get free parking).

Here’s the website for more information and to pay your parking online:  http://www.chicagobotanic.org/orchid.

And just to whet your appetite, here are a couple more of the pictures Hubby and I took from last year’s show.

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Causing Trouble

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What is it about gossip that draws us in?  I recently got caught up in the gossip mill myself, and I’m still kicking myself over it.

I wasn’t born yesterday.  I know better.  Gossip and bad behavior, apparently, has no age limit.

It’s not just me.  I know that.  We all run on gossip.  Some of it is “real” news and it helps us.  But much of it is just plain hearsay.  Information regurgitated from one source to the next.  Or – worse – we filter what we hear through our own imperfect prejudices and experiences.  Like a huge game of Telephone.  (In case you’re not familiar with the party game of Telephone, click here for how it’s played.  It’s a classic example of how differently we all interpret what we hear others say.)

Not to blame everything on the internet but, while it’s improved communication, it’s also done a too-good job of improving our gossip skills.  We’re more addicted to gossip than ever.

Someone posts a copy of an unflattering letter they received from their mother-in-law.  Or an embarrassing photo makes it online, taken at a wedding.  A mother, angry with the way her child was treated, makes a public statement.

Case in point:  Remember the guy that made a video of destroying his daughters computer?  As a way of punishment for what she’d posted?  These things go viral because we all love to gossip.  We can actually get very worked up over events and comments that don’t even concern us!

It’s not all bad.  Gossip, I mean.  We learn a great deal from these things.  Avoid future mistakes, do good things for ourselves and others, etc.  Laws are created and securities tightened as a result of gossip.  Plus, some of those things are funny, light-hearted, and make our days brighter and more joyful.

We can’t stop gossip either.  It’s in our nature.  We’re always curious about what the other person is doing.

Nor is it just a human trait.  We’re not the only ones.  Take any dog into a room that holds 10 people and one other canine, and what do the dogs do?  They make a beeline for each other.  They may not even get along (and then you have a dogfight!), but the gist is… dogs are just as curious about other dogs as people are curious about other people.

Why is that?  Did God design His creatures this way as a protection for us?  Is it an instinctive urge to band together?  Safety in numbers?

Whatever.  I’ll leave that to the professionals to theorize over.  The main thing that disturbs me today, as I write this, is how destructively gossip can be used.  Like those fighting dogs, we all have an opinion on someone else’s business and, sometimes, we just can’t stop ourselves from putting our two cents in.

That’s what I did.  I caused trouble.  I stirred the pot.  I opened my mouth and let my lower brain rule my behavior before my good sense kicked in.

The damn thing is, once you sink to that reptilian-brain level of behavior, you can’t go backwards and undo the words.  Like water passing under the bridge, it’s already gone.

I apologized to the person involved.  I gave penance to God.  I’m publicly declaring myself an idiot on my own blog.

But I’m still kicking myself.

Hubby tells me that God has long since forgiven me this sin.  HE knew I was going to do it before I ever did.  This should be a comfort – and in a sense it is – I’m happy to know that in heaven I won’t have to pay for this sin again and again.  But I’m not God.  It’s more difficult for me to forgive myself than for Him to forgive me.  Human arrogance, I suppose, that I expect better of myself than I actually am.

Which takes us to the subject of:  just exactly how do we forgive ourselves from the mistakes we’ve made in our lives?  We all have regrets.  This whole subject of “forgiveness of self” impacts our health, our relationships, our spiritual life, and our happiness.

But, that’s a post for another time.