January 10, 2013 — I had a long conversation about non-conversation the other day with a friend, a talented artist. We discussed the many subjects on which he doesn’t like to converse. Under one of these topics was something I had done which caught his attention sufficiently some months earlier that he gave me a related gift.
Whenever we meet or talk on the phone we begin talking immediately and talk for one, two, three, four hours nonstop.
My friend R, a very creative artist, and I have long conversations about a lot of things; we can talk on almost any subject – literature, music, movies, religion, politics, art, ideas – for an hour or two on the phone almost daily or at length in person, especially over a glass of wine, or maybe that’s more than one glass; I don’t remember. At the conclusion of our conversations, one of us will say to the other, “I’m glad you got to listen to me” or “I’m glad you got to see me.”
My friend Bettielou and I like to talk, too. They’ve cut back the ship schedule due to the present state of the economy, but when our schooners send a skiff to shore carrying a bag, one that would neatly fit inside a windbreaker pocket, of diminutive doubloons having the thickness of a church wafer, we go out to lunch together.
Bettielou gave me a gift for Christmas related to my tastes – a bag of her superb homemade scones in a variety of flavors as well as little gift boxes of other homemade sweet treats. I hid this bag of scones from my friend R when he came over for Christmas dinner, because he would have eaten the whole thing right there while he was watching me prepare the Whole Cranberry Sauce. He had his own bag of scones that Bettielou gave him, but he ate them pretty much in one sitting.
I see here in my dictionary that the word scone is Scots, the root originally derived, possibly, from Middle Dutch, schoon, meaning fine bread.
Concerning schoon, my stepfather was a successful, esteemed artist. In his youth he spent time at American illustrator Frank Schoonover’s studio in Wilmington, Delaware. Schoonover, one of the Brandywine School, helped organize in 1912 what is now the Delaware Art Museum, located in that same neighborhood, and was chairman of the fundraising committee responsible for acquiring works by Howard Pyle, also of the Brandywine School of illustrators, who had died in 1911.
Little more than a decade later on a street corner nearby, F. Scott Fitzgerald sat in his automobile and made up a fairy tale for his daughter Scottie, while wife Zelda went inside and upstairs to see about a dollhouse. Fitzgerald’s tale became his short story “Outside the Cabinet-Maker’s”, published in The Century Magazine, December 1928.
I like to talk about music, especially classical music; indeed, have enjoyed crescendoing conversations about music, composers and conductors with Emma’s Hospice music therapist and with one of my LinkedIn women writer friends. Lately, though, I made a long playlist of Electric Light Orchestra music, mostly from the ’70s and early ’80s and have been listening to that – loud. One of the advantages of living in a house that’s closed and sealed with storm windows and doors in the winter is being able to play your music really loud without disturbing the neighbors; it resounds throughout this whole Victorian house of balloon construction. I test the decibel level when I go outside, and I can’t hear it too much. Too, I have been playing Tchaikovsky’s “The Sleeping Beauty” ballet music, the complete ballet, one of his best compositions, I think and have heard said by music experts. The performance I have on disk is by Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Orchestra. Gergiev is a fascinating conversationalist and sensitively listens to the music he conducts, emphasizing phrases, instruments, dynamics and rubato as if to say, “Listen to this …”, and I am stirred by nuances, instruments and notes I never heard before or hear anew.
About ideas, Gergiev says that the only way the Russians held their country together during the twentieth century was by valuing and supporting the arts. They realized that this was the only way to create cohesiveness from imperialism, through Bolshevism and Communism to the Russian Federation. Food for thought, especially in light of the present United States economic condition and under-graduate educational system – teaching to the test in schools, whereby the students don’t have to bother to think critically or creatively. And since they exhaust so much screen time and don’t read books, their minds are little able to visualize.
One of the best short pieces of literature I have read recently is an essay written by Turkish author, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk vividly detailing the contents of his refrigerator, when in the middle of the night he opens the door and the light goes on inside.
I could serve up a word concoction of my own based upon this essay idea, but—and here I know you’ll be disappointed – I don’t feel like getting up from my computer and going downstairs to look in the fridge. Besides, I just ate.
My friend Jackie, who used to own The Gathering Place store downtown, and I like to sit on my porch and fire up a virtual burgoo of ideas, portions of which we offered as cross-promotional wine and cheese functions for artists and fundraisers when she operated her store. To house her store she bought and restored the historic Odd Fellows building downtown. Now her building houses “The Odd Fellows Café”, a charming, sunny, farm-to-table café, serving generous portions of delicious homemade dishes and exhibiting original artwork on the walls. Check it out at TheOddFellowsCafe on Facebook. I’d put a link here, but when I do, it keeps taking me to my own page, and many of us have seen that.
It’s time to bag up my thoughts and word pictures here and go make dinner. Tonight I am having homemade butternut squash soup. This recipe is in my recipe file on my blog and published in my Begins the Night Music book. Here is my whole cranberry sauce recipe.
Whole Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries – Whole, fresh – one bag
In frying pan, add one cup of water and 1/2 cup or more of honey (I like my recipe a little tart).
1 or 2 McIntosh or similar apple, unpeeled
2 Mandarin Oranges – Clementines, Tangerines or one Orlando or minneola Tangelo
Walnuts – Shelled, chopped – 2 or 3 handsful (I prefer black walnuts)
Bring cranberries, honey and water to boil, reduce heat to low medium for 10 or 15 minutes. Stir often.
While cranberries are cooking and popping, slice and add remaining ingredients, in order given above. When all ingredients have been added, sauce will start to thicken. Remove from heat and let stand to cool. The walnuts will not have had much time to cook, but they don’t need it.
— Samantha Mozart