Keep Calm and Listen

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Julie and I were pleased with our crafty planning around this viral intruder, how we timed everything from first contact to last sniffle to coincide with the symphony. It takes a professional musician AND a minister to understand that some things cannot be missed, period, and her expertise saved the day.

Or, it was just time. That was my feeling.

Caroline Shaw is an amazing violinist, a soft-spoken, apparently kind of shy woman who also sings beautifully, and whom apparently many people did not realize had a passion for composition (which is strange, to me, considering she was getting a doctorate in it at Princeton). Caroline was one of the 8 singers chosen by Brad Wells to form the core of what became Roomful of Teeth, the Grammy-winning octet that boasts my son-in-law as another founding singer.

So he met Caroline, and she composed Partita in 8 Voices for RoT, and in 2012, at the age of 30, Caroline became the youngest person to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.

This was the day of the Boston Marathon bombing, a city that meant a lot to my daughter and her husband, and a lot to all of the members of RoT (they’re based in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts). It was a strange day for us, then.


Caroline also became BFF with my daughter, somehow, and I’ve met her a couple of times. Her new composition, Watermark, was to premiere with the Seattle Symphony (who made a recording with RoT, released last summer, and has established a relationship) on Thursday, and while we could have gone another night, we knew Caroline was heading up to Winnipeg to join her fellow RoT members and we wanted to at least say hello. So yay for the illness gods, shining on us, delivering us from congestion (or enough that we didn’t cough).

I won’t comment on the performance, which was wonderful but needs a better musical vocabulary than I possess. It was a good night all the way around, a stunning dusk over the city, good parking, easy in and out, great seats. Good music, which soothes the savage hack.


We await our version of the polar vortex, although it’ll be only a taste and not really connected, I think. Just some arctic air and moisture offshore, something close enough now to look suspiciously like lowland snow (the lowland part is always important; the Olympics and Cascades, which if I stood up I could see from my window here, are getting dumped with snow, as usual). I welcome some snow, especially now that I’m feeling better. Doesn’t sound like a lot, and maybe even a little iffy as it always is here. Wouldn’t mind a taste of winter.

Despite everything over the past couple of weeks, not to mention all the travel, my goal for January (I guess; did I make a goal?) was to work on eating more and I did. That scary low number I saw on January 1 never appeared again, and while I remain on the slighter side I managed to find a couple of tricks to keep the calories coming in (reverse years of tradition and eat a late-evening snack, for one thing, if I’m hungry). I think I may have finally just bored myself out of anxiety over this. I’m not going to starve and become emaciated. We’re back to being self-conscious and fretting over people coming up to me with worried looks, and I’m pretty much over that, too. Let’s hope you’re reading no more of this, or not much more, in the future.


OK. Pictures.

I have thoughts on photography and me. They date back a long time, and I could probably spin some stories. I actually had a darkroom in my house when I was 12, and developed my own pictures.

But those are long, self-involved stories. I’ll note that I’m just an amateur in a lot of ways, although I know my way around. I made a little one-minute film for a group I’m moderating, just as a reminder, and someone asked me what app I used to make it. Heh. It was a little beyond the app stage, but it’s still the work of an amateur. Just some video editing software and knowing where to find footage and sound to use.

Same with photo editing. I’ve got a few apps but mostly I do it in a really old-fashioned way, with open-source software, which I’ve been using (OSS) since the old days for a variety of things. I can do all the Photoshop stuff; I just don’t use Photoshop.

And something made me want to start putting pictures of my grandson in various situations. He’s just so interested in the world, and of course I’m a grandpa and I get a lot of photos of him. Occasionally I’ll be struck. I’ve been putting these up on Facebook so you’ve probably seen, but here’s a gallery of the fun.

Chuck SigarsComment