All Hallows Day/Samhain Mashup


Grumpy hummingbird in a local cemetery. Appropriate.

This is the time of year when it’s dark when we leave the house and just about dark when we arrive home. Very little sun to be seen unless we make a concerted effort to get outside on breaks (and if it’s not raining). So thoughts turn inwards. It’s an understandable time for the development of All Hallows Eve (Halloween), Samhain, Day of the Dead. Also, we might be coming down from yesterday’s overbought-for-the-trick-or-treaters sugar high. And of course the election is next week. Yep.

For truly wallowing in the experience, provoking some thought, and then moving on better for it, I recommend:

Listening to Leonard Cohen’s new album, You Want it Darker. He’s 82 and acknowledges he’s winding down but seems to be at peace with that. Haven’t formed an opinion of the album yet beyond being glad that it exists. His voice, never strong, has lost some of what was there. Doesn’t matter.

Reading appropriate poetry such as T.S. Eliot’s “Animula.”

Carving out time for the full length read, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty.

Remembering both Tempus fugit and Carpe diem.

Not one item above is morbid. Accepting, moving on, and DOING SOMETHING with the time we have. Yes.

23 More: Sounds

As I write I’m listening to my favorite recording of Handel’s Messiah: Boston Baroque‘s 1992 performance. Period instruments and the select musicians really make it for me. [What’s your favorite version of Messiah?]  I had to start with the Hallelujah Chorus (doesn’t everybody?) but I then started at the beginning. Just now “For unto us a Child is born” finished playing and we’re into the Pifa. So amazing, so relaxing.  Yet Handel wrote the whole thing in a period of three weeks from August 22, 1741-September 14, 1741. His librettist, Charles Jennens was rather disappointed by the speed, saying that Handel had “made a fine Entertainment of it, tho’ not near so good as he might and ought to have done.”

MessiahOh, and speaking of sound: I’ve been reading Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn (haven’t finished yet but so far, so good) which led me to the research of astronomer Dr. Mark Whittle who has made primordial sound audible today. Awesome. The sounds aren’t particularly musical but do check out the audio files and accompanying text on Whittle’s website.

We’re Having a Heat Wave

The next seven days look to be horridly hot in these parts.  We’re fortunate to not have the humidity that plagues other parts of the country (ours is “a dry heat”) but 100+° F heat for days on end is just plain hot–too hot–and not at all fun.

To distract myself (and, maybe, you?) from the nastiness that is the weather, I’ll be posting for the next week (or longer if this wave extends itself) about fun summery things.  I leave you today with this potential earworm.


4 Days ’til Christmas: Did you Drop?/Longest Night of the Year

After you shopped, that is? If you’re still in the midst of the madness, here’s a little lighthearted song to keep you going. The song is “Twelve Days to Christmas” from the musical “She Loves Me.”

It’s on YouTube (embedding doesn’t seem to work for me today).

And, for those of you who are starting to drag from lack of light (me!), tonight is the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere! More light coming soon. Winter solstice people!

23 Days ’til Christmas: Sounds of the Season

It’s great that, these days, we can pretty much find any music we want with a few clicks. I still have some old CDs that I pull out every December. In no particular order, the five favorites are:

Holiday Celebration by Peter Paul & Mary
Peter Paul and Mary Christmas album
Aine Minogue Christmas album
Christmas Goes Baroque by Katherine K. Davis, Franz Xaver Gruber, Christmas Traditional, James Pierpont and John Francis Wade
Christmas Goes Baroque album
 A Winter’s Solstice II by Windham Hill Artists
Windham Hill Winter's Solstice II album cover
Putumayo Christmas Around the World album cover 
 What do you like to listen to this time of year?
p.s. I frequently link to Amazon so you can get more info because of the convenience factor. I’m not remunerated for it. Nor do I think you should buy from them if you don’t want to. Just so you know. 🙂

Silver Lining

There’s a storm rolling in so the cloud cover is going to foil my viewing of the Leonid meteors tonight (as would the brightness of the moon if there were no cloud cover). So, I decided to appreciate the clouds instead:


Clouds=Not so bad after all.

And then I found this cool society, The Cloud Appreciation Society, online. They have a huge photo gallery of clouds. Heck, they even have a music player of cloud-related songs. I think I’m a fan. My local library branch has a copy of the book written by the society’s founder, too. Guess what I’m reading next?

All this is to say that looking at clouds is a worthwhile thing to do. It’s relaxing. When’s the last time you went outside and just looked up, noticed the clouds, and breathed? Try it today. The cumulonimbus to the west might look like a giant chasing a rabbit but, if you don’t look, you’ll miss it.


I love music. But not at the 80 watts per channel that The Taste Tester prefers. My ears would bleed. I’ve spent many years playing the piano and was in an orchestra for a very long time. There’s usually a song running through my head and I hum to that internal tune to the point of annoying others. The odd thing is, if there’s music playing, I find it hard to do anything else but listen unless the music itself is pretty mellow. I’ve been trying to branch out because I’ve completely lost touch with much of current music which seems like something that happens to old people (and I’m not that old yet). Pandora and the like help a bit but my stations all start sounding the same after a while. NPR and other online radio shows/stations are useful too. Where do you find your new music?

I’ve been listening to the album Sister Kinderhook by Rasputina. It’s compelling but I haven’t yet formed a complete opinion. Still listening, though.
Sister Kinderhook album cover