Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Over the River and Through the Woods...

As kids we really did travel over the river and through the woods ( Hudson river, Berkshire mountains) to grandmothers house for Thanksgiving ( albeit by car, not sleigh). Throw in the stop to watch the  Fox Hunt (beautiful!) and the likely covering of snow and you about had all the bases covered. This was diminished (although probably only in my eyes) only by the fact that our table held  just my brother and I, my parents and grandparents. As one who craved a big noisy, happy, well, Italian like family, my little, not so noisy Norwegian one fell just a bit short . But, it was a day of warmth and goodness and love. The chairs were full and our hearts were too. We were blessed and knew it. A place, a day, I will always remember.

While our kids were growing up the picture was similar. Over the river ( Missouri) and through the woods ( well, Loess Hills) to their grandmothers house we went. No Fox Hunt, but the table was a bigger and noisier. While still of Nordic stock, (hugs, no kisses) our four kids did their part and the "Step's" ( siblings and cousins that is) added theirs. The days were good.  Every single one.  Blessings and prayers were shared and counted. A tear or two were shed for what we had. The chairs were full and our hearts were too. We were blessed and we knew it. A place, a day I will always remember.

This year the table will hold only Paul and I, his mother and husband, and my mother.  Divorces and death, kids scattered where they live and work, too many rivers and woods, dollars and days away, have shrunk the table again.  Last year I cooked but illness and weather consipired against us. We two were alone. This year our table will be at a restaurant. But I expect, like the last 52 I've been gifted with, it will be good. Blessings and prayers will be shared and counted. A tear will be shed for all that we have. There will be empty chairs and hearts both full and empty. We are blessed and we know it. And I expect and place and a day I will always remember.

"There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all"

The Beatles

Thursday, November 17, 2011


There is something achingly beautiful about seeing the men and women, oldish and older, aptly self described as a mini UN, making, creating, a thing of beauty. A thing, a  piece of art really that they, in any other scenario, would never encounter.
The immigrants ,the aging hippys, the boy from down the block, the women who seem better suited for the rocking chair, all investing mind, body and spirit for the better part of their lives, have clearly created and received something more than a paycheck.
The story is simple. "The Making of Steinway number L1037" is about just that. The years journey from a piece of wood to instrument.
It drew me in. These people embody the power of passion, pursuit of excellence, pride of work. I don't know what their wage is, apparently enough to build a life, if modest, but not enough to own an instrument of their own but  not so little that they leave for greener pastures.  Ever. But I venture to say a wage is not their primary reward.
They clock in, punch out, sweep up after the day, exit en mass, eat lunch from their brown bags. But this is no ordinary factory.
They make instruments. I will never look at a piano in the same way. I figure we must be created in our Creators image to in turn be the creators of such a thing.
They make instruments and they are the instruments. Sort of an unbroken circle. As we, or the planks of wood and wire, submit to the duress of the molding, the instrument is formed.
Assisi Italy, a place of deep and gentle beauty produced it's insturment too.

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy"
St. Francis