Piano Tuning on I-5

April 30, 2012

Driving out of Portland after a meeting at UNICO, the Italian service organization, southbound on I-5 coming out of the notorious ‘curves’ I am listening to KMHD, the Jazz station. A pianist is hammering one key so hard and so often per bar that I am reminded of the times when the piano tuner would work on our baby grand, banging away at one note over and over until he got it where he wanted it to be. I am in the middle lane and as I am thinking this a dark grey station wagon slowly pulls past me on the left. In the panels of its rear windows is a large sign, “Piano Tuning” with a local phone number below.  OK. What is going on?

Over the weekend I attended two of my ‘spiritual’ resources; and I am using ‘spiritual’ in a very secular way. The Oregon Symphony in the Schnitzer Concert Hall,  and Saint Francis Episcopal Church in Wilsonville, OR.

The Saturday evening concert had three pieces; Copland’s Short Symphony, Astor Piazolla’s Four Seasons arranged for solo violin and string orchestra by Desyatnikov, and the big finale was St. Saens No. 3. The concert was introduced by the President of the Symphony, Elaine Calder, the Orchestra was conducted by Mei-Ann Chen, and the solo violinist was Nadja Salerno Sollenberg. It was one of the best musical events I have attended, barring Dire Straits in New York City and The Rolling Stones in Portland.

Sunday morning Eucharist at Saint Francis was presided by Christine Wysock. On the altar there were four other women helping out with the low key theatrics of the Anglican Communion.

For two events that have some meaning and power for me the leadership was in the hands of women, and I would wish for more, but not if they have any intention of following in the footsteps of say Margaret Thatcher or Condoleeza Rice.

Women are men’s equals but are they just as likely to succumb to the same temptations that power and influence offered those equals?

We Are All Poets

April 26, 2012

On a damp spring evening I joined about thirty poets and listeners at the Milwaukie Pond House. Tucked away behind the Ledding Library in Milwaukie, Oregon, this little gem of a venue sits on a widening of the Kellog Creek which runs in a quarter mile into the Willamette River. It widens a little just by the library and is generously called a pond. But with blossoms drifting by the windows and a light NW shower wetting the window panes it was a good place to sit and listen. I did not count but about a dozen or so poets rose and spoke their work or others with such a variety and personality that it made my usual cynical heart smile. I recited; I don’t really like that verb; I spoke three or four short pieces and I really enjoyed doing it, even though I was first up.

We are all poets in one way or another, trying to find some words to explain how we feel or rid ourselves of some interior tension, or sharing some joyful emotion that cannot otherwise find a voice to which anyone might listen. Poetry has that power. Ask any singer!

My hat is off to Tom Hogan and his wife and other partners and the City of Milwaukie who put on this reading every month at the Pond House. Take a look at this link for more details. I’ll see you there.

For one of my shows someone suggested that I write a love poem. I was lying on the couch at the time and noticed that the cushion upon which my head rested was less supportive than it used to be, and almost at once I thought…

Like an old cushion
Whose stuffing you removed
Excepts its me
Just a few balls of fluff
Clinging to the inside corners
Comprising my soul
Forced up against the stitching
Very Old Stitching
Ready to break and cast
The remainder of me out
But for the moment
For a long moment
The half empty pillow of me
Still offers a cozy worn velour exterior
To those who like that sort of thing.