November is one of my favorite months. It is autumn. Colors are at full, or are nearing full, mornings are crisp; afternoons and nights are cool. First frost here was Monday, Nov. 3. The Full Moon of November, the Beaver Moon, is tomorrow night, November 6. The month ends in celebration of Thanksgiving, a gathering time of friends and family.
Walking to vote, I saw a woman coming toward me in Buick. She was the Great Stone Face. As she approached, I remembered a high school math teacher, whom we named the Great Stone face, and smiling at the remembrance, I waved. The Great Stone Face melted into a beautiful and dear smiling face!
In a fenced meadow there are free-roaming goats and chickens. They are watched over and protected by a Great Pyrenees dog, a white, long-haired, impressive animal. He was friendly toward me as I approached, and leaning on the other side of the fence for me to pet him, he stood taller than I. The owner tells me he protects the chickens and goats from possums and coyotes. “A couple of possum got in there the other night, and that dog shredded them.”
I did not enjoy the Metropolitan Opera’s live broadcast of Carmen. The sets were massive and crowded, perhaps to suggest the oppressive political environment of the setting of this production 1930’s Spain. The blocking of the action was crowded; in fact the children’s chorus of the opening was blocked by the soldiers’ chorus. The actress singing Carmen lacked charm and presence to command a flirting seduction. Her seduction was raw: leg and thigh and later full body thrust on Don Jose. Don Jose and Micaela lacked convincing acting skills to show any change in their attitudes or character. Don Jose’s murder of Carmen, lacking conflict and believable passion, seemed just to be something he needed to do at this time in the opera. The singing and dancing were glorious. I was annoyed by the woman who sat next to me. She gave a merry chuckle in her throat at actions in which there was no humor. I once stared at her to no effect. I concluded that something was wrong with her. At intermission I changed seats.
Annie Lennox, in her latest CD, “Nostalgia,” chooses twelve standards. Each is interesting. Favorites: “Memphis in June” is performed with a pleasing lilt; “Georgia on My Mind,” is joyful; “I Can Dream, Can’t I” is performed as a lament; and “Mood Indigo” is presented as a jazz strut approaching transcendent joy in its lamentation.
Reading. Nonfiction. Kathryn Harrison, Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured. Doubleday, 2014. This new biography includes a chronology, a useful index, and a handsome portfolio of images. Harrison shows a historical and social understanding of the life and times of the heroine. I especially enjoyed discussions of religious beliefs of the time, the political background of the Hundred Years War, the presentations of battle strategy, including the science of armor for protection and comfort. Harrison focuses on the spirituality of Joan and presents throughout parallels in Joan’s actions and speech with those of Jesus. It’s intriguing and interesting reading.
Quotations from readings of the week:
“The voices Joan heard, speaking from over her right shoulder and accompanied by a great light, had been hers alone, a rapturous secret. But when, in 1429, they announced that the time had come for Joan to undertake the quest for which they had been preparing her, they transformed a seemingly undistinguished peasant girl into a visionary heroine who defied every limitation placed on a woman of the late Middle Ages.” (Kathryn Harrison, Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured)
“I don’t think there’s anything more pathetic than a man on a diet.” (Billy Joel, quoted in Nick Paumgarten, “Thirty-Three-Hit Wonder,” The New Yorker, October 27, 2014.)
Thank you for reading. I hope all is well with you and yours and that you are enjoying a beautiful November.