This Week’s Note to Eva. Labor Day, September 2, 2019. Dear Eva, We made it to September! This month autumn arrives on the 23rd. I will be sure to enjoy these last few weeks of summer. Last September we had our first snowfall on September 30. There is no snow visible on the Sangre peaks; the mountains look thirsty. You enjoy these times, too! Your friend, Bill
My Minimalist Accounting.
Henry David Thoreau in Walden gave advice about accounting, “keep your accounts on your thumbnail.”
I don’t do that, but I do use a college ruled, 70-sheet spiral composition notebook. At the end of last month, I completed the pages of one I started in January, 2014.
For each month I use a double-spread page. On the right page I list my total income from retirement sources and social security and a list of categories to which I budget amounts. I keep record there of how much I’ve spent, and at the end of the month I write down how much I’ve gone over or under budget. On the left page I list expenditures from categories I make multiple payments in a month: groceries, travel, medical, gas and car, and miscellaneous and during the month I list amounts spent.
I budget for savings, and surpluses each month go into the savings account. I find this system to be simple and effective. It keeps me mindful of expenses.
For this month, I started a new notebook, which should last about five years. I tore out the pages from the old notebook for recycling and recycled the cover and spiral. Now for years ahead of “getting and spending.”
A Downtown Walk.
Sunday morning, September 1. About 10:00. I park in the parking lot of the grocery store and follow the sidewalk through downtown, headed east. It’s in the mid-70’s; the sky is a cloudless deep light blue. There are several people milling about the open shops.
Each block is filled with flowers: hanging baskets, planters, plots of ground. There is color everywhere. Winter is long and often severe here, and I enjoy the bright color in summer as much as I enjoy the stunningly beautiful white of snow and ice in winter.
I walk east for about fifteen minutes. At a coffee shop, outside tables are filled with customers enjoying coffee and pastries. The aroma is tempting, but I smile and keep walking. One of the bed and breakfast inns is broadcasting quiet music onto the sidewalk. The liquor store is open, and I see several people entering and leaving. I pause at the used car sales to look at a 4-wheel drive KIA, but I see no price tag. At the school I cross the street and return into the main part of town.
For some reason I had not noticed the landscaping of the school grounds. The ground is gravel, and there are mature pines and firs and a beautiful, large aspen near the front door of the main building. All are shining bright green in the late summer sun. I pass the laundromat, open this time of year for business on Sunday. There are several cars there. The new ice cream shop is just opening for the day. The proprietor is opening the door and putting up the OPEN sign. Tourists are entering shops. I notice license plates from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma. The bright and sunny day makes me happy to be there.
Notes on Listening. No Strings (1962). Original Broadway Cast Recording. Angel Records CD, 1993.
The words and lyrics are by Richard Rodgers. The play is a sophisticated musical about the love affair of an African-American fashion model and a white American writer, set in Paris and other places in France. According to the program notes by David Foil, Rodgers had recently finished writing the two songs inserted into the movie version of The Sound of Music. He sought out Diahann Carroll to play the lead. Richard Kiley (Man of La Mancha) played opposite her. The orchestral score is written with no strings.
The subject of an interracial love story was controversial at the time, and Foil discusses reactions in his notes.
The only song which became well-known is “The Sweetest Sounds,” one of the several duets of Carroll and Kiley. It is beautiful, haunting, and memorable.
I particularly like the other four duets. “Maine” contrasts life in Harlem and in rural New England, the American homes of the two lovers. The other duets are love songs, “Nobody Told Me” and “Look No Further.” Both are reminiscent of and much better than the insipid, stifling “Something Good” from the movie version of The Sound of Music. “No Strings,” the final duet is a mature reflection of both parties of their relationship.
The social milieu of the characters is the fast-paced, free spirited life of wealth and leisure, and the other eight songs of the show are in the main jazzy and cynical.
It had been decades since I last heard the score, and I was not surprised that I had forgotten most of the songs. The work in the play, but they are not universal enough for popular song status.
Most of the musical numbers can be found on YouTube and some are not surprisingly by jazz groups. I don’t advise your listening to Julie Andrew’s version of “Nobody Told Me.” Your blood sugar will rise to stroke levels. She sings “lightning” and “quake” as if the words were licks on sweet ice cream. I do recommend the duets mentioned above on the YouTube original cast selections.
My time listening was well-spent.
Methodists and Catholics.
These questions have been on my mind this week. I have long known the answers.
What is the difference between the Catholic Church’s policy of refusal to give Eucharist to Protestants and the United Methodist Church’s police of refusal to marry same-gender couples?
What is the difference between the Catholic Church’s policy of denying priesthood to women and the United Methodist Church’s policy of denying ordination to gay and Lesbian people?
The Down the Field Walk.
At the west end of the street on which I live is a path through a huge field. It leads in a steep descent down to a parking lot of a Dollar Store on the highway. I enjoy taking it when I walk to the post office or downtown.
This time of year there are many small yellow daisy-like flowers and larger yellow blooms of a plant some here call Rabbit Grass. I come across a few small orange blossoms of Indian Paint Brush. There is a sage-colored grass, but it doesn’t smell like sage. Perhaps it is some kind of sage. In places ants have cleared an area and erected an impressively large hill. There are many large and small rocks, some piled into cairns. I don’t know their names.
It is fun to walk up and down the hill surrounded by open fields. I want to know the names of things. The purchase of local guides to flora and rocks and minerals is in order.
Notes on Reading. Fiction. Piers Anthony. A Spell for Chameleon. DelRey, 1977.
Decades ago I enjoyed Tolkien’s The Hobbit and trilogy, and a few years ago I spent the winter reading all of the Harry Potter books. Browsing in a book store this summer, I came across the works of Piers Anthony in the science fiction/fantasy section. I liked the author’s name, the cover of the book, and the description on the cover and saw that A Spell for Chameleon is the first book of a series of ten novels. I thought I’d give it a try.
Twenty-four-year-old Bink, the main character, has a year to discover and demonstrate a magic power or be exiled from Xanth, a magical kingdom. Urged on by this fiancé, he travels to the castle of the Good Magician Humphrey, who may be able to tell him what is power is. The plot involves his quest there, his banishment to Mundania, his unexpected return, and his further adventures in Xanth. During the course of these adventures, he discovers his powers and finds a purpose for his life.
The action is frenetic. Transformations are ubiquitous. Life-threatening creatures and plants are everywhere. Travelers must be on guard and use reason to figure out whether the things are illusory or not, for, “There was no certainty about anything where magic was involved.” There are action sequences after action sequences with little respite.
I enjoyed meeting creatures from mythology, among them centaurs, dragons, sphinxes, Giants, mermaids, harpies, ghosts, shades, unicorns, griffins, trolls, and goblins. The author creates other strange, rare creatures such as lightning bugs, which emit bolts of lightning, and cherry bomb trees, whose fruits are bombs.
There are good observations and reflections about loyalty, friendship, honor, repentance, power, integrity, and leadership. There are some good, imaginative, vivid descriptions of magic places.
I became weary of the constant and intense action, and I was taken aback by the sexist characterizations of and thoughts about most of the female characters.
Will I continue the series? Probably not. But next time I’m browsing in a book store, I’ll pick up the second novel of the series and take a look.
Thank you for reading. I hope your week has been good. I welcome comments on this site or sent in an email to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a good week.