Photos, Sons

A Way to Make a Dog Happy

Pick up Snowman from the train, and his Tall Friend from the bus, and bring them home for the weekend, and you will make a dog happy.

Fall Break 2009 003

Of course, saying goodbye is not as much fun. We're back to being a household of one woman, one 14 year old girl, two 14 year old lady cats and just one big 6 year old boy dog. We'll have to find some other ways to make the dog happy. Maybe a cookie?

Children, Grrrls, Highbrow Family Values, Living in This World, Love, Mothering, Sex, Sons

On Love and Sex

I think I’ve written about this before, in various ways, but in answering Kristin’s post referenced here earlier today, I used these words and want to blog them here:

Here’s what I want for [my children] (who are 23, 18 and 14 now). I want them to view themselves as whole people, loved body and soul by God. I want them to love themselves, body and soul, and to recognize how inextricable those two parts are. I want them to love another person, body and soul, and to regard that person’s wholeness to be as precious as their own. In talking to them, I’ve called it a Love Ethic where sex is concerned. Love yourself, love your partner, and remember that how you live is an expression of how you love God. It’s for them to work out when that happens, and I trust them to be true to their teaching.

To go further, this is not an idea about what is good for children to know but what I hope people can know about themselves, that they have value and a responsibility to attribute that value to others and to treat them with love and care in relationships, whatever names are attached to those relationships.

I avoid discussions of marriage for two reasons. First, I think it should be available to everyone as a civil right, and until it is, I’m irritated that I can have it and others can’t. We’re coming closer to having that right in Maine, but face a campaign this fall to overturn the new legislation extending the right to all.  Second, I don’t really want to get into a scripture throw-down with anyone about marriage, because I don’t have the patience for a discussion based on ancient rules and stories that devalued women and treated them as property. That is no basis for any arrangements in the 21st century, and people who use those texts to justify a point of view are beyond debating, in my experience.

My own experiences in the sexual realm are pretty limited for someone born in the 1960s. Very, in fact. I played by the good girl rules. I’ve had sex within marriage and sex outside it, and I’ve had it with love and without it, both inside and outside marriage, and all I can tell you is it’s better with love. But that love is not about romance or even necessarily a long-term commitment. It’s about a sense that your existence matters deeply to the other person and your coming together is holy because of it.

There’s lots of sex in lots of marriages that does not meet that definition.

So even though we don’t often associate it with sex, which we want to affiliate with the “eros” love, and it’s hard to sustain a marriage without that particular connection, I want to say that what really matters is agape. What really matters is being in the arms of a person whose love you trust to be unselfish, generally, and giving, mostly, and freely offered, as much as humanly possible. To get a higher score on those, grace helps, too.

Men At Work, Music, Sons

The World is Waiting for the Sunrise

While #1 Son was home last week and sleeping in his old room, which is now the den/guest room and favored practice room for clarinet, Snowman went over to TFoMC's house to practice. Now that the room is again available, we get the pleasure of hearing him play.

Tonight I came in from walking the dog and could have sworn Benny Goodman was in my house! I heard his characteristic runs.

And here's what Snowman has been doing. He's preparing the Copland Clarinet Concerto for the placement auditions at Beantown Conservatory, and since Benny Goodman commissioned the concerto, he thought he could prepare better by learning more about how Benny Goodman played. He listened to a recording of "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise," and using the chords in his Jazz Real Book, he transcribed Goodman's interpretation from the recording.

Now that the transcription is complete, he is playing it, Goodman-style.

I wonder, do I ever break down a task the way he did? Considering the influences and working through the possibilities with such diligence? I tend to float through life relying on intuition and inspiration. I might have considered his technical approach to be overly intellectual, if I hadn't heard him explain it. I understood completely, and I heard what he took from it, both in the jazz piece and in his playing of the Copland.

It was hard to let him go away two years ago. But when I hear what I heard tonight, the music and his underscoring thoughts, I know we did the right thing.

Here's Benny:

Grrrls, Sons

After play practice

They burst through the door, faces red and teeth chattering, proceeded by a dog who hardly feels the cold.

From the couch I directed him to walk the dog to the middle school and meet his sister. Of course we cannot know what may be happening at the other end of those 7/8ths of a mile. Standardized tests and unrequited love create a sorrow not abated by two hours of singing and dancing to the chorus numbers in "Annie."

She goes into the kitchen and her brother and I respond together, as we hear the running water, "Don't put your hands in hot water!"

Discouraged she slumps to the couch and sits as far away as possible. I know something hurts her, something other than bright pink cheeks and fingers.

Emo Boy, of course. She cries, putting her hands over her face.

Sam woofs, asking to be let in, and she slumps over to the door, but only after I ask. He comes into the living room, and she kneels down to pet Molly and Sam licks her face, and she smiles.

But the moment passes, and there are more tears and "I'm going upstairs."

Brother at the bottom of the stairs turns his sensitive ear toward her sobs.

When I had babies, I heard that old advice, "Let them cry it out." I didn't have the heart for it. But at 11, or 45, sometimes we must.


A Boy and His Horn

(Edited with jo(e)'s comment in mind.)

His hair hangs into his eyes, lank as his slender body. He climbs the stairs into the chancel and reaches for the clarinet lying on the organ console. He tongues the reed, then touches the music on the stand, a superstitious gesture.

He takes a breath and begins. His slender fingers nimbly scale the keys. He breathes more than air into his horn. He pours himself in; out comes a mellow, limber melody.

The notes rise higher in the descant; the clarinet's voice changes. Notes high and sweet sing of inaccessible divine, hid from our eyes.

They move together, the boy and his horn, the breath and the bone, the reed and the reedy.