Dear friends and readers,
I hope I will not appear ridiculous by yoking together Bach’s extraordinary suite, which Yvette and I heard so harmoniously perfectly done at the Kennedy Center by the National Symphony Orchestra (as well as much more Bach music), with the Downton Abbey Christmas album, which I splurged on and discover features Elizabeth McGovern (Cora, Lady Grantham) and Julian Overden (Charles Blake, one of Lady Mary’s suitors), as well many choral renditions of traditional carols. I’m listening to the 2 CDs just now, having first found and listened to the central Bach air of the Suite on the Internet.
As I listened at the Kennedy Center and just before typing this, the music entered the rhythms of my pulse through my body. I used to say Jim was the blood that flowed through my heart. He’s gone now and I’ve nothing to flow through, so desperately seek what’s not there. I find some prose rhythms help (Austen I can hold onto), but it’s more music that is deeply harmonious, orderly so that the beat of my body can find something calming so I can remain sane as I go about my days without him there.
(Thoughts: It’s a kind of madness living without him. I don’t know what to do with my life now that he’s not here. Do I really want to write for traditional publication? Do I want to teach? (Not to those who don’t want to learn the chosen texts about which I can impart some insight and information.) If I don’t aim at those things (and I am very bad at the kinds of negotiations that go into publishing I’ve re-discovered), what then? I use routines under the pretense I want to do these things since I can think of no other I can do and need some order in the sense of when I get up, what shall I do now, and what next, and what after that?)
Music helps. Dancing at the Dance Fusion Workshop. The teacher this week encouraged us to get on the stage with her as it was the last week of the routine (3 weeks per routine). I came on to the stage for the last, the slow expressive number, and saw that she is chary around me. No high five hitting of palms. Intuitively she understood I would not react in the way desired to that. The number was Adele, Someone like you:
Now take your body and dance to this in a controlled way.
For me it isn’t over, it will never be over, never mind I might find someone like you — a dream, a dream. Sometimes it lasts love, but sometime it hurts instead. And it’s now hurting bad, real bad. Our glory days. The night we married, we went to a pub and got so drunk and just danced that night away. Broke, we had but ten shillings between us and had to part, get on buses to our jobs that first day of our marriage.
(Thoughts: I blame myself for his death: I was so angry at Skylar in Breaking Bad because she got her husband to go outside the HMO and try the outrageously expensive treatments, and I couldn’t make a dent in Jim to do this. If I had been able to get him to try, maybe he would be alive today. Was it that lethal? that hopeless?)
Yvette and I had quite a time getting to and from the Kennedy Center. It was dark out, cold, raining, and we decided that we should drive there: a ten minute drive if we could find the right roads instead of an hour and a half back and forth by public transportation with walking. In the event we managed it in 20 minutes with our google maps, Garmin (Ariadne came though for one of the turns), and remembering how Jim did it.
Coming back was not as easy as we did not go out of the garage using the exit Jim used to. It took time for the Garmin to react as in that garage under that massive building, it had lost contact with the satellite. I had to do a couple of wild turns (half-mad U-turns swinging round to another loop) but finally we were on the highway road home. 30 minutes to get home. As Yvette found herself falling asleep again while at the concert, we decided going out at night is not for us, and I hope that next week when we try the Nutcracker this year at the Kennedy Center in the afternoon, in the light I’ll find the right exit out and be able to take the route I remember Jim doing. Very easy, ten minutes, straightforward back.
So now I’m listening to my new Downton Abbey Christmas Album. I am hearing Julian Ovenden sing just now — he was a choir boy when young. McGovern has a group of women singers and does her “It came upon a midnight clear” playfully, half tongue-in-cheek . I like it. Both singing an arrangement for two together “12 Days of Christmas.”
I have nothing snobbish in my tastes for food or music. I have seen on the Downton Abbey Face-book page the usual sneers (so paradoxical — but so many people love to sneer) at this Christmas Album, but probably because somewhere in my heart there is still that young child’s longing for Christmas to be like what was promised in Dickens’s Dingley Dell, which, together with my deep engagement with these characters, is enough to make this music touch me.
Here is a good example of what Overden can do — I’m a lover of Carousel’s music (of musicals as well as country music) — with Sierra Borgess who seems to be his singing partner:
I’ve also splurged on purchasing the scripts for the third season (released on December 4th) and the British DVD version of this coming 5th season and await them.
Yvette and I talked about whether to try a tree, but agreed it’d be more depressing than cheering because we were not sure the Ian and Clarycat would not attack the tree. She said putting in the porch where they can’t get it at is silly, as we can’t see it either. Several years ago when they were kittens, the appearance of the tree by the end of the 1st week was dismaying. We have no electrical outlets outside the house so no lights out there.
So this Downton Abbey grand tree photo is all I’ve have — note the touch of the upright piano nearby.
I don’t know that the woman seen from the back is “poor-Edith” (as my other daughter remarked, the full name for the second daughter of the house) with her daughter, but very much like the pose and that of the weary sagging woman next to her (probably not Miss Baxter). I remember among Yvette’s first phrases when she began to speak again (she had a hiatus of over a year and a half from age 2 1/2 when she would no speak after an operation on her hand), “pitty tree” as she looked up at a tree.
I’m told that Maggie Smith was in this fifth season allowed to bring to the surface her gifts for poignant held-onto dignity:
I look forward to whatever it is that evoked this moment in her.