Return Home from Vacation



March 15th. A Sunny Day. The sky is blue in Tacoma.

Treetop of a tree near us that reaches right up to the height of our 7th floor apartment.

Below: On my bike to buy a present for 2nd birthday of little Simone. In background is a Tlingit statue.


Time to eat. (matter of Timing)

Coming from Tacoma, WA by way of Detroit, I was driving away with the rental car I had just picked up in Dayton. On my way to visit my aged mother, who shows some confusion, but is, at base, good-natured.

I haggled with the rental agent who said of course my world would come to an end if I did not buy their extra insurance protection. He was especially aggressive, and when I fell back on my usual excuse that my wife would kill me if I bought the optional insurance, he was bold enough to say that she would be more upset if I didn't and something happened. I dug in my heels, knowing that either way I could blame Mary.

It was 12:15 PM and my mother's nursing home was about an hour away. I had to get there by 4:30 so I could join her for dinner. It's an important event when everything else is beyond reach.

I had not had lunch, and I figured I had time to grab some in solo before setting out for my mother's. As my mother was 98 years old and was near the end of her life-span, why was I thinking in terms of how much time I had to live before showing up for dinner? Apparently I was reenacting some childhood drama of dependence visa vis independence, expressed in food anxiety.

From a long time back, it was always important for her that we eat together.

And when I showed up without Mary, there was always the inevitable question, "Where's Mary? Did you split up?" -- . No, mother, she just didn't come this time. Please don't even think that we split up.

To assuage my anxieties, I began to plan out the solitary meal that I was allowed to have in Dayton before driving on to Milford. Part of my problem is that in trying to resolve issues I overthink them.

Not being a terribly discriminating eater, I looked for a brand chain as I pulled off the expressway into a fast-food strip. As I drove up the street, on my left was Perkins, on my right Bob Evans. To make things simple, I narrowed it down to these two. Which of these was it to be? Perkins carried with it numerous reminiscences from thirty years ago, when our polka band used to stop the van there for midnight breakfasts after hall dances. Not always pleasant memories, but they can be colored that way.

Bob Evans held the attraction of being less familiar to me, as we never had them where I come from.

In my rumination, I was interrupted by the honking of a car behind me, whose driver just wanted to get where he was going. I glared at him as he pulled into Perkins, and that determined my decision to go to Bob Evans.

I was led to a booth, and began to plan my meal carefully. This does not mean I am a gourmet. It just means I wanted to have control over this meal and be able to enjoy it on its own merits. I was floating the notion of having a modest lunch, that might conclude with an apple pie.

As I looked around, I saw a surprising number of obese people there -- I mean really well-fed adults, children and babies. People in the management level also seemed to be quite hefty.

Not everybody was fat, but it seemed to be the norm. And common to all was the emphasis on sweet, buttery, fatty foods. I could hear talk of biscuits, cups of gravy, chocolate muffings and the like. I'm sure they are all good people, largely people of faith, and enjoyment of heavy food did not contradict their concept of a virtuous life. Self-denial was not a part of it, even if it was healthier.

For amusement, I started to put the guests into two categories. They could be neurotic, like the furtive office worker being seated at a table up by the window: carefully dressed and his hair meticulously combed, he seemed to move jerkily like someone damaged early in life. Or they could be "normal", but with an eating problem. I placed myself in the first category, but I had potential to be in both.

One thing you notice about Bob Evans is that they have a prominent display of cakes, pies and other sweets at the entry of the store so nobody misses them.

Most of the waitresses were skinny. One of them I observed working another table was interesting to me because she was very plain and seemed to be very earnest and a conscientious worker -- the sort of person one could imagine having a strictly platonic relationship with.

Then I set my attention to plan my meal carefully. I can be very particular about details -- I am a detail person, sometimes in things that don't matter. The cellist, whom I met at a recent wedding gig, said that at first he had had the wrong impression of me: He now knew that I was "anal". Coming from him, I sensed that this was actually intended as a compliment. He approved of my attention to detail. I don't like to see myself that way, however.

In any case, I believe this poor man should be allowed to say anything he wants, because he seems to be going through some kind of mid-life crisis, and there's no telling how drastically changed he will be when he comes out on the other side.

Anyway, I reached my decision to have just a hamburger, no fries, and a bowl of bean soup. After eating those, I was going to decide about dessert. When it came time, I thought about calling Mary for consultation, but I knew what she would say, so I went ahead and ordered the pie.

As I waited for the pie, it did not come right away, and I almost had time to realize the rashness of my decision. I tried my best to enjoy the dessert, but there was something dissatisfying.

No matter, I paid my bill and set out down the road.

As you drive through Dayton on I-75, there is a big populist "evangelical" church so prominent on the highway that it can't be missed. It once had had landmark status due to a huge oversized bust of Jesus displayed there. This made national news a couple of years ago when the bust, made of some faux plastic material, was struck by lightening and quickly melted down in a flabby mass like the witch in the "Wizard of Oz".

Now as I drove by, a new large-scale sculpture was in its place -- this time a full-body rendering of the Christ in a robe. As I gazed at the figure, it gave me great comfort to know that there was a lightning rod sticking out of the top of the new statue's head: A second apocolypse was to be avoided through practical planning of the devotees.

This new Christ figure was not very gaunt, and seemed in fact a bit rotund: he could have easily fit in as a regular customer of Bob Evans.

When I arrived at my mother's I was given a second apple pie.

For Trio Practice

D. and N., This is a quick practice demo of the "Aquarium" arrangement that we're going to play at the wedding this weekend. This is about all I had time for. Hey, at least this time I am preparing ahead of the gig instead of working on it after the wedding is over.


Rondo alla Turca WORK DEMO:   7/30/2014

For the curious, let me explain that we are a string trio, and the wedding party requested Saint-Saen's "Aguarium". Since this is a highly pianistic piece, I had to do some rearranging to boil it down to three string players. For practice purposes, I put it out here so we can get some idea how it's going to souind. In this demo, I'm playing the violin against synthezised 2nd and 3rd parts. I could work on this a lot longer, but I ran out of time and was content to fix some of the most glaring bloopers.

This is from the well-known "Carnival of the Animals". I believe Saint-Saens wrote this as kind of a vacation from some of the heavier stuff he was under pressure to complete at the time. I hope people will be amused in the spirit of the composer's intent, if not the letter.

Gigs have their challanges and their rewards. Someone once told me "I would hate to play music for money." Since this was a person who has no musical background, and he knew I played gigs, I really didn't know what to make of this dour statement.