Wednesday, August 29, 2012


That would be Bill’s 60th high school reunion…a daunting number, yes.  Bill graduated from Livermore Falls High School in 1952 (before I was born) and over a recent weekend we made the trek to Central Maine for the event.  I went purely out of a sense of duty and surprisingly ended up having a good time.  It certainly made for a few hours of superb people-watching!

As we arrived, a man taking photographs for a scrapbook exclaimed Hello there, Billy!  Did you bring your daughter?  I’m afraid he wasn’t joking-he was truly confused and later, during the meal, he asked Just how old are you?  The appetizer hour was full of stares and questions, but once people realized that Bill and I have been married for 29 years things calmed down.  I was at least 20 years younger than everyone in the room, but all the same I have lived a full 57 years and thought it much ado about nothing.

I was taken back to another time and place by everyone calling my husband Billy. He had long left that name behind when I met him. And it was interesting to observe these people, most of who had stayed within a few miles of their birthplace.  Superficially one could look at their lives and assume they had been dull and predictable.  But just start asking, and you hear about seeing the US in a motor home, international travel, successful business ventures and recovery after devastating loss.  When I asked one of the women at our table about her family, she volunteered that two of her four adult children had died within a year of each other.  I quickly lost my snobby assumptions about life in Livermore Falls.

Bill had spoken of one of his classmates, “the prettiest girl,” getting pregnant, going away to have the baby and subsequently giving it up for adoption.  Well, she was there at the reunion with her husband of decades, very sparkly and still pretty.  She told of their four children, a teaching career and a family business.  It struck me as a good example of overcoming a mistake, and I can’t help but wonder as I see many, many young unmarried women with a child or two, trying to make a life.

I came away from the reunion pondering, again…What would it have been like to stay in one place? Or even in one place for more than 10 years?  I have always wanted to see what’s around the bend and I thrive on bringing my particular skills and talents to a new choir, a new church and new students.  Although I would do it all over again, given the chance, I find that as I age my restlessness is subsiding. And I think that one of these days I might just stay put.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Last night I heard a breathtakingly beautiful piece of music, Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirrors in the Mirror) for ‘cello and organ.  Performed in the resonant acoustics of St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor, the notes filled every nook and cranny of this magnificent space.

From the program notes: Spiegel im Spiegel, composed in 1978, is an ethereal lullaby.  It moves at an unvarying pace and is built from the simplest of musical materials: a continuous broken-chord pattern, subject to only the most subtle harmonic shifts; bell tones, deep in the bass and high in the treble; and long-held notes moving by fundamental intervals in the ‘cello. There is not a single chromatic note in the entire work.  The title refers to the infinity of images produced by parallel plane mirrors: tonic triads endlessly repeated with small variations as if reflected back and forth in ever expanding phrases.

There are performances on You-Tube, of course, but I can find none that begin to replicate what I heard last night.  Most are with piano rather than organ, and this work seems to beg for the sustained sonorities of the organ.

Beginning with my dad’s memorial service on January 1, this year has been filled with loss and challenge.  I feel much like the plants that grow in bogs, buffeted by difficult environments and struggling to grow.  Last night the first few notes of the organ touched me; I closed my eyes and my mind to the distractions around and listened. I was moved to tears and felt comforted in a way that only music can comfort.  I am grateful.