Sunday, November 30, 2014

Who's Gonna Help Me Eat my Leftovers? Walk in the Pennypack - Poem: Burials

Scott and I tackled many leftovers at lunchtime.

He took the shrimp cocktail home to freeze. The curried chicken salad with grapes is delicious, but the fruit raises my blood sugar. This is the way you think when you have diabetes.

Just ate one of Sarah's fab deviled eggs, the best ever. Scott and I used to party at his sister and brother/law's in NJ, where a woman named Carole made great deviled eggs. Sadly, her husband, Steve, is being ravaged alive by cancer and has hospice at home.

Very nice man. I sent him a card awhile ago. It wasn't a get-well card. I just wrote that he had so many things to be proud of... raising a terrific family and a wife who was a great cook.

Linda Barrett lives seven minutes away from me. She and mom Jane had plenty of leftovers from Thanksgiving.

We walked the beautiful Pennypack, passing Tony's Tree, which was well taken c/o, by Tony's brother, Michael.

Look what the deer did to these saplings.

No loitering, young lady.

We saw no birds or animals, not even a single turkey, but we did see some interesting scat that we couldn't identify.

Was trying to cheer up Linda who feels she's lost her ability to write.

Said Scott, Ruth thinks that all the time. That she'll never write another poem.

We were naming things we were thankful for - our families. I told Linda she should pay money and hire a professional editor in order to help her get her work published. I told her I did dat when I wrote my novel. 

She'll never do it and it's not a question of money. It's of valuing the thing you do best and investing in it.

 Bob, across the street, put up his Xmas lites.
 He had to keep up with the Demings.

Promised myself I'd write a poem for this blog post. After dinner of delicious leftovers, I sat down and began to think. What happened today that really stuck in my mind?

Aha! I remembered. This was reported to me by Scott and was easy to visualize.


It’s a bad week for
back yard animals. Squirrel
lies in hospice, cheeks
scratched and bleeding,
lying in fallen
bed of leaves.
We grieve for him
as he takes his
last look around
the pale gray sky
his blanket

Plump gray dove
torn from flight
devoured on the run
lies, feathers scattered
on the grass
his tombstone a
reminder of life's
short run.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Musical Offering - Our New Directions Fundraiser is both fun and profitable

   Ethan and I drove, in separate cars, to the Willow Grove Bible Church at 11 am. Sarah stayed home to finish the appetizers.

I introduced him to Bob and Kim Ruby, our church hosts. Bob would act as the sound man upstairs in the sanctuary.

These are the nicest people you'd ever want to meet!

 Kim and Bob Ruby.

Behind them is Saul Miller, DDS. Saul, a devoted bike rider, had a terrible fall from his bike, including a concussion. Thanks to excellent treatment, he's back in the saddle again.

On Tuesday, the church had their Knabe Grand tuned, and they learned, for the first time that the piano was formerly owned by the Metropolitan Opera.

Nice photo, Scotty! When we were kids and living on Marlindale Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, we had a Krakauer piano.

Just called and checked with Mom about this. Krakauer produced high-quality pianos from 1869 to 1985.

We had about 22 people for Ethan's solo concert. Suffering from jet lag from a grueling touring sked, he got a great nite's sleep here at my house.

Yesterday he drove out to New Jersey, Voorhees, he thinks, to interview the great bass player

Buster Williams at Kitano, April 2008.jpg

Charles "Buster" Williams, photo from Wiki. Born in Camden in 1942, Buster told Ethan some great stories, esp how he got his first job at age 17 with Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons.

Sarah and I listened to part of the amazing recorded interview.

Sarah wrote out a list of items to make.

Spring rolls - Chocolate covered strawberries - Deviled eggs - Shrimp Cocktail - Beef in Lettuce Cups - and more


Pineapple and Bacon - Beef - Biscuits filled with Chicken Salad

Sarah dreamt about "Granny" last nite. She was her late father's mother, who used to make great biscuits back in Texas.  Pioneer Biscuit Mix. You should've tasted her chicken and dumplings.

Sarah bought a Jiffy mix to make her biscuits.

Don't you wish you were there?

After we left the church, a crew of Xmas decorators were arriving. We left them some of our food. It's always better to make too much than too little.

A variety of beverages graced the tables.

Bought a couple bottles of Sparkling Wine, which I chilled outdoors in the snow.

Here's Terry and husband Mitch Tabas, who plays violin in the band Ong's Hat Band. They came all the way from Narberth, PA.

 We were delighted to see Jimmy Sutcliffe, a family friend, who came bounding down the steps of the church. He came with a little guy named Hugo, 10, and Hugo's dad. Hugo is a great storyteller. 

Next year, we've got to do a better job advertising since this was a spectacular solo performance, with food as good as you can find anywhere. I'm proud to say I helped Sarah by washing some of the dishes and sweeping the floor.

Ethan said that his audience in Gdansk, Poland drew about as many people as here at the church. See his photos, from his blog, about Gdansk. Many reminded me of the Jews being rounded up.

Ethan's comments about the music he played are always fascinating.

Some of the audience members after the concert was over.

"Dutch" and "Tree" Forstater are on the left.

Sitting next to them is Tony Creamer. His wife Mary couldn't make it b/c the plumber was over. Wouldn't you know the water backed up on the most important day of the year when they had loads of company?

 Ethan thought it was a good idea since we were at a church to begin with some Bach.

He performed the French Suites, so named b/c of the French format... Allamande (hello!).... a few other movements, concluding with the Gigue, also used by Beethoven, Mozart and Prokofiev.

Listen to this YouTube recording by Glenn Gould. 

Ethan said that Bach always ends his pieces with the most brilliant song. 

In fact, while Ethan was performing I thought to myself, he's not moaning out loud like Glenn Gould does.

I also thought, What could be better than live music?

Someone, I think it was "Dutch," asked who are the biggest fans of The Bad Plus? Dutch guessed the Japanese were.

"They're very demure as an audience," he said.

"Three voices are required for The Bad Plus."  Piano, drums and bass.

At gigs in Eastern Europe, he said, the audience is passionate and soulful, reflecting the political climate.

Goodbye Berlin Wall in 1989.

Eventually, said Ethan, jazz performers are blessed by Ornette Coleman and make their way to his pad.

Ornette asked Ethan to play the most perfect piano piece he knew.

Ethan played it for us.

Scott Joplin's ragtime "Heliotrope Bouquet."

Ornette agreed.

When Ethan was a young boy growing up in Menomonie, Wisconsin, one of the first tunes he learned was a boogie-woogie song by Mary Lou Williams. Perhaps it was this one. 

While he played, I distinctly heard Go! Go! Go! Go!

Ethan was among many musicians who were honored to erect a tombstone for the great pianist James P Johnson, who was buried in a potter's grave.


They gave what's called a "Rent Party" b/c many musicians didn't have enough money to pay their rent. Read more about James P in Ethan's blog.

Ethan played Johnson's piece The Charleston, yes, the one about the dance, written in 1925, the Roaring Twenties. Listen to Ethan play it here. 

This piece, said Ethan, transitioned into more modern jazz.

Pianist Bud Powell and

Thelonius Monk are the two greatest pianists of our time, said Ethan. Both had mental issues.

They could have used the help of Sharon Katz, owner of Collaborative Care, who was in the audience.

I couldn't believe that busy Sharon was there. We're profiling her in the next issue of The Compass. Thanks, Martha.

He played a couple tunes of each one, including Blues Misterioso by Monk.

Ever heard of Bill Hickman? He was a famous stunt driver who appeared in movies such as Bullett with Steve McQueen and The French Connection.

The question is, What did Hickman do when he was not living the exciting Hollywood life?

Ethan wrote a song about that.

He also played his original - "The 2.5 Room" - it's sort of an etude, he said.

That really had the audience going.

The first week of December we'll celebrate the Centennial of the birth of Irving Fine. 

Fine died young, 48, of a heart attack.

Ethan played a Theme and Variations by Fine, in what is "the least likely encore in jazz history."

Listen to Music for Piano here.

Fine, he said, was post-Copland and Stravinsky.

The long goodbyes....

 Kim Ruby suggested we put 'tea candles' on each table, which we did. Here's Teresa (Tree) and Gerry (Dutch) Forstater discussing music and food with Sarah and Ethan. Sarah looks great in her long black hair.

Very cool stockings with seams.


After the concert, Sarah and Ethan had to get back to NYC to return the borrowed car to Julie.

First, we stopped at mom's house to say hello and goodbye.

Mom had made a delicious pumpkin roll. At 92, this woman has no self-confidence, telling us the dessert wasn't very good.

We'll miss you Sarah Lynn.

Hey, is this still Saturday?

In the mail I received a copy of Blood and Thunder, the medical journal of the University of Oklahoma. I had five or six works published in there about my various ailments, including my kidney transplant - thank you Sarah - and back surgery in 2011.

Ruthie dressed in Saturday Best for the show.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Preparing for the shabang tomro - Sarah and Ethan arrive

    Around 11:30 am Ethan and Sarah drove up in their borrowed black Audi.

I had just woken up at 10:45, one of those crazy nites, where I was awake until 2 am, having written two flash fictions - Black Friday and Therapy - and submitted them online.

When I couldn't fall asleep in my bed, I came downstairs, lay on the red couch and watched five hours of Charlie Rose, sleeping through much of it.

Of particular interest was the family of the late Michael Brown, the 18-yo teen from Ferguson, MO, and

Carlos Ghosn - India Economic Summit 2009.jpg  the 60-yo Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, who brought it back from bankrupty. Nissan is the largest selling car in China and also at 204.

 Ghosn and Charlie Rose were talking so fast, I could barely keep up. Ghosn had a funny way about him, reminiscent of British comic Mr. Bean.

         Will the real Carlos Ghosn please......

Norman Lear was also on promoting his new book.

We were so glad to have Norman and Carlos back at this table.

Norman, who's 92, was born in 1922, is a month younger than my mom. He learned of the importance of obtaining the rights to the reruns.

Where did the day go?

Sarah's in the kitchen preparing food for tomro.

Ethan, after wrassling with Richard Parker of the glinting green eye

is working across from me in his Red Couch Cubicle.

We dined tonite on leftovers at Dan and Nicole's

 Their friend Sara-One-H made homemade bread. I put cranberry sauce on top.
Grace jabbering away. She's eating a peanut butter and jelly pocket sandwich and mac cheese. Her milk is in the cup with, she told us, the purple straw.

When we got there, she was in the family room milking her new stuffed rhinoceros. Who's the milk for? I asked.

Thinking quickly she answered "Fookah."

Who's Fookah, I asked.

"My pretend friend."

 Bath-time for the kids.
 Here's Blank, once the runt of the litter, the cat who once so loved me, that when he and Dan lived here, he nuzzled my head and then, overcome with desire, BUTTED me on the mouth, fracturing my front tooth. $800 root canal.
 Blank's brother just passed away in New Jersey. Kidney problems. Same as Blank. Sarah, who has a strong interest in kidneys, suggested one of the other 2 cats living at home, donate his kidney.
For dessert, we had home-made pumpkin spice cake with delicious frosting.

   From Internet. Nicole's cake looked just like this.

I cut four slices and placed them on the dining room table for dessert.

I ate two of them.

 Grace was hiding from Sarah, wearing her "fairy" nightgown.
 Max is so tired his photo came out blurry. "Chugga chugga chugga" is his favorite phrase.
Sarah, I said, Don't you and Ethan wish you had a playroom like this in New York?

We were discussing the site Reddit, which shows trends. Everyone is discussing the new Star War movies coming out in a year.

Dan showed us previews on his teeny tiny smart phone. I'm not a die-hard fan.

This is what Reddit looks like.

Someone posted:

Young man had sign saying, "free hugs", at a Portland Ferguson rally. This cop took him up on the offer. (
Grace and Sarah were playing with characters from the Doll House. There was a terrible father named Einstein, who said he knew he was a bad dad, but had to devote his time to science.

  The new Mary Oliver book of poems is one of eight books I'm currently reading.

There are some beautiful lines in here.

From "Good Morning"

The multiplicity of forms! The hummingbird,
the fox, the raven, the sparrow hawk, the
otter, the dragonfly, the water lily! And
on and on. It must be a great disappointment
to God if we are not dazzled at least ten
times a day.