It took me a couple of days to get around to this entry, and now my semi-clever Beatles reference is out of date. I also don't really feel like writing about this in any depth tonight. But I already have the pictures, and nothing more pressing to write about, so here we are.
As you can see from the first photo below, it rained in Tucson on Saturday. It was May, but it rained anyway--not a spotty little rain as on Friday but a good, monsoon-style late afternoon downpour. John and I were at Speedway and Craycroft when it hit. We came out of Charlie's Comics at about 5 PM, just in time to see not only some serious rain, but also an employee of another business in the strip mall standing outside, snapping digital photos of the rain. I had to wonder whether she was blogging the weather.
We dashed to the car, and drove across the street to eat at Sanchez. I annoyed John by taking pictures from both the parking lot (above) and inside Sanchez (below), trying to capture the rain and the neat Sanchez decor. It wasn't really successful, but I like this particular indoor photo. You can't really see it here, but rain was bouncing off the roofs of cars in the parking lot.
Saturday's rain is blogworthy because 1) there were power outages because of it, 2) it happened in May, and 3) it was very monsoon-like.
Now I'll grant you, nobody outside Tucson will care much if the lights go out here, but John and I had to reset clocks two or three times on Friday and Saturday.
The second point is more significant. See, the thing about May is that it only averages .2 inches (a fifth of an inch!) of rain for the entire month. Saturday's rain was a record-breaker, with .42 inches by 10 PM--more than double the monthly average in one day.
The third point is a little more nebulous. Meteorologists have specific things they look for in determining whether the monsoon has arrived, all bound up in dew points and where the moisture is coming from. Because of all this, and the fact that it almost never officially hits before July, you can bet that the weather people will fudge the May rain anomaly as "pre-monsoonal" or a "mocksoon." Nevertheless, the pattern is there. The moisture is coming from the right place, building up in the usual way, and hitting the ground at the right time of day. It's just too soon for it, that's all. Officially, the earliest monsoon start ever was on June 17th, in the year 2000.
If you've lived in Tucson a while, you know what the summer monsoon is like. I've always associated it with Alan Jay Lerner's lyrics to the song Camelot, because it seldom rains before four or five PM. To say "it never rains 'til after sundown" is only a slight exaggeration. Early in the day, it's sunny overhead. Then clouds build up over the mountains that ring the city, as in this picture I took on Sunday:
Sometimes it only builds up enough to rain over the mountains, and sometimes it dissipates, an unfulfilled promise. But other times it eventually fills up the sky in between. By five o'clock, it's raining, often with thunder and lightning. Thus (we're back to Saturday for this shot):
So why did it rain at the end of May? I'm not sure. But at least I got some pictures to document it. And tomorrow? Well, the Weather Channel says otherwise, but it may rain. Even if it is June by then.
NWS/NOAA Monsoon page
Thousands lose power in record May rainfall | The Arizona Daily Star ®
Tucson Weather History - CityRating.com
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
It took me a couple of days to get around to this entry, and now my semi-clever Beatles reference is out of date. I also don't really feel like writing about this in any depth tonight. But I already have the pictures, and nothing more pressing to write about, so here we are.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a picture of something that shows what Memorial Day means to you. This can mean something directly related to remembering soldiers and others who have served their country -- but if Memorial Day also means fun, sun, cookouts or other things, you can use that as well.- JS
Y'know, when I was a kid, Memorial Day meant a parade down Fayette St. in Manlius, followed by badminton and a picnic. That was thirty-five to forty years ago. Although I have no pictures of the parades, I was astonished tonight to find that I actually have pictures of the badminton net and the picnic table, and even of me on some patriotic holiday in 1970 or 1971. The one of me was definitely taken by Joel R. The other black and white ones may be his, too.
I marched in that Memorial Day parade in Manlius a couple of times, first as a Girl Scout, and later carrying a white, non-working, ceremonial wooden rifle in front of the marching band. The highlight for me as a marcher was at the corner of Seneca and Fayette, where I could usually see a cobblestone and a tiny bit of exposed trolley track from the early 20th Century.
Other years I'd be on the sidewalk with my family, holding a little flag or a newly-purchased pinwheel in one hand, a twist cone from Sno-Top in the other. We'd cheer on the bands, marvel at the World War I vets in their old cars, and I'd wave at my seventh grade social studies teacher, Mr. Hennigan, as he marched with the volunteer fire department.
Maybe after the parade we'd stop for milk or something at Temple's Dairy Store. Then we'd go home. I'd insist on setting up the badminton net, or else (if it was hot enough) we'd grab our swimsuits and head over to Snook's Pond. Dinner was steak or charred chicken or hot dogs or hamburgers cooked on a cheap grill outside, served at the faded redwood picnic table with Mom's potato salad (with egg, mustard, cucumber and chives) and Mom's fruit salad (mostly melon, with a can of fruit and a banana added at the last minute).
Fast forward to 2005. I haven't been to Temple's Dairy Store in over a quarter century, nor seen a Memorial Day parade in thirty years. Dad is in Wilmington with Ruth, and I'm sure he didn't grill a steak or burgers. Steve is in Cleveland, and he probably worked today. And my mom, being dead, will never make another potato salad or fruit salad. I'd make them myself, but they're too high in carbs.
For me in 2005, Memorial Day is mostly about having the day off, and spending it with John. Today we signed up with L.A. Fitness, and then went shopping at Wal-Mart. It doesn't get much more post-modern American than that. We spent $100, ninety-four cents at a time. Well, the gym bag and padlock and sweats cost a bit more, but nothing was over $15. I also finally found a pair of my Athletic Works Silver Series shoes, under which (unlike my office shoes) I can wear an ankle brace. (This ankle is NOT healing quickly, probably because I've been walking on it so much, without any support or protection.)
As for the memorial part of Memorial Day, it should surprise no one that for me, that means thinking about my mom. I've never known anyone who died in battle. Heck, the only dead veteran I remember is my grandmother. But Mom's only been dead since late 2002, and on holidays (and other times) I think of her often.
Memorial Day is a big day for cemeteries. I discovered this two years ago, when I stopped by East Lawn in the early afternoon. The staff had a tent set up near the entrance, and were handing out little flags for free. Their rules say that such holiday decorations will be removed a couple of weeks after the holiday, but in the meantime there are flags. On Mother's Day, they do the same thing with flowers.
Today I was there late in the day, almost at sunset. The office was closed, and there was no tent set up. Large flags flew above the entrance drive, on poles that will probably be back in storage tomorrow. There were a fair number of people around, but not as many, I suspect, as earlier in the day.
My problem with going to the cemetery is that I never know what to do when I get there. I don't believe that my mom is hanging out at her grave, waiting to hear from me. It doesn't seem like the right place to talk to her. Really, no place does seem like the place to talk to her. What do I say, anyway? "Hi, Mom. I graduated from college, and got a good job." She knows that already. I don't need to stand above her bones to tell her that.
So instead I make sure the marker is clean and the grass is healthy, and maybe take yet another picture with my ubiquitous digital camera. Today I take extras, specifically to do this photo shoot thing. Then John arrives with the car, back from Target, and we drive away.
Visiting the Stone
Time Traveler's Holiday Picnic, Part One
Time Traveler's Holiday Picnic, Part Two
Sunday, May 29, 2005
This is a follow-up to my entry in the
Round Robin Photo Challenge: Mysterious Doors
On Wednesday, I showed you this door at the front of St. Michael's and All Angels Church, and the antiphonal organ division that lay beyond it and up the stairs. Today I took some more pictures, uncovering some mysteries and deepening others. Let me show them to you. They concern the bell pulls beyond this door, the mysterious doors upstairs, and the part of the organ you haven't seen yet. You're not going to see the entire organ this time, either, but at least you'll have some idea where it is and how big it is.
I should explain that despite appearances, St. Michael's is only 51 years old. Parts of it have been added on in phases over the years. More on that in a minute.
One of the additions and upgrades since I got here, at least I think so, was some sort of upgrade to the bells in the bell tower. I still don't know whether they are physical bells with clappers or electric or electronic ones, but I suspect they are physical bells run by electricity. In this way, they play consistently, in the same pattern each time, or possibly on one of two or more patterns the bellringer can select.
All that happens immediately beyond this door, where two bell ropes hang down. They are used to ring the bells as Mass begins. On Wednesday, you had to take my word for this, but tonight I have a little bit of photographic evidence.
Exhibit A: The Bell Ropes
I know it's hard to tell what's inside the room here, and what's reflected from outside. All I can tell you is that the two vertical lines are the bell pulls.
And what of the door on the balcony? Well, I had forgotten that there is another way onto that balcony, without using a ladder:
Exhibit B: The Balcony
This doesn't help, though. Neither of these doors is at the end of the loft where I was last Sunday. And anyway, are you really going to come out the door on the left, just to go back in through the door in the middle? Or vice-versa? Why? I have no idea.
Exhibit C: The Main Organ
This is where the main part of the organ is. No, really! It takes up a large, oddly-shaped room, directly behind what you see here.
One of the major additions to the church was in the late 1990s, when a large room was added behind the sanctuary to house the Æolian-Skinner pipe organ. Originally built in 1959 for a church in Cincinnati, the organ was purchased in 1989 by St. Michael's to replace another organ that proved irreparable. The huge replacement organ was stored for years at a local car dealership. Money was raised, the organ was repaired and upgraded, and the addition was built. In 1998, the main part of the organ was installed in the addition behind the sanctuary.
Remember the cabinet with the slats that boxes up the antiphonal part of the organ, but lets the sound out as needed? Well, the main organ lies behind a different sort of barrier. The rounded beige wall you see here is basically a cloth scrim between the organ and the main church. It lets the sound out, while hiding the organ away--but not completely. Do you see the hole in the wall in the picture above, between the main sanctuary and the side altar on the right with the little blue alcove? That's a window into a part of the organ:
Exhibit D: A Hole in the Wall
There's another opening like it this the other side, blocked from view in the other picture by the pulpit.
Exhibits E & F: The Main Organ Unmasked.
See? There's a lot of organ up front, and you can only see a bit of it!
As for the back, where the antiphonal division is, here's how it looks from the church:
Exhibit G: Looking Back
The end - a true story!
Tomorrow: May Rain
Okay, I've been worrying about this all week, and putting it off all night. I am now two entries beyond where I got hopelessly stuck the first time I tried to write this thing, and I have very little idea what I'm about to write. But I'll think of something, I hope!
Actually, I've handwritten many pages of stuff for this story that you guys haven't seen yet. You won't be seeing it any time soon, either. It's my flashback to what's been happening in Mâvarin while all this stuff was going on in Dewitt. Problem is, since it takes place about a few months after Mages of Mâvarin, it's a total spoiler for that book / trilogy / whatever. A few of you are currently reading this in manuscript, and I don't want to mess it up for you! Everyone else, well, you'd probably be confused by it. So let's stick with our Central New York cast for now, shall we? --Karen
Synopses to Parts One through Six can be found at the top of Part Seven.
Part Seven: Cathy and her friends meet Joshua Wander, an interdimensional traveler who followed his mysteriously shrunken castle from Mâvarin to Shoppingtown. He claims to have no knowledge of the others' predicament, although a policeman who remembers being the Captain of Cathma's Palace Guard is dubious about this. Josh's castle has arrived looking a quarter its normal size, and his magical abilities are severely reduced. As the stranded mage looks through a spell book for answers, Fabian asks if he can look at the spell that brought Josh to Dewitt. Although the spell is written in an unknown language that resists translation, Josh reluctantly hands over the book--and Fabian discovers that he can read it anyway.
Part Eight: Fabian announces that the spell is written in Lopartin, the ancient, magical language used on Mâton. Although the spell's footnotes mention the dangers of two much traffic between worlds, it offers no help for the current problem. Based on a vision, Fabian correctly identifies Josh Wander as a former student of nearly Syracuse University. Josh is astonished (and not especially pleased) to learn that he's "home." Fabian speculates about whether this fact contributed to the leakage between realities, and everyone wonders what to do next. Randy advises everyone to simply "wait."
Part Nine: Randy predicts that something is about to happen that determines what they will do next. He's right. The mall starts to bend and fold itself, and yet there's no apparent damage. Everyone starts running toward Joshua Wander's castle. Josh points out that, having been miniaturized, it's too small to hold much of anyone. Fabian dashes inside it anyway. He reappears in the doorway a moment later, looking a quarter his normal size. He urges everyone to run into the castle.
Part Ten: Fabian convinces everyone to go into the castle, because it's far safer than the mall at the moment. From the inside, sizes seem normal, but everything goes dark as the mall around the castle disappears. Beneath their feet, the castle starts to move.
Part Eleven: Relocation
Cathy grabbed the nearest wall as the floor beneath her began to tilt and pivot. “We’d better sit down!” she called out, and immediately followed her own advice. The angle and movement of Josh’s castle was not so great that she was likely to slide too much once she was sitting on the floor. She just hadn’t wanted to trust her ability to keep her feet as it moved unpredictably in the dark.
Around Cathy, the others could be heard (and in some cases, felt) as they also slid to the floor. There was much grunting and whispering. Somewhere behind her, a child was crying to her mommy.
Cathy herself was tense but excited. Wherever they were going, it was quite a ride.
“‘When hinges creak in doorless chambers…’” Randy intoned. Someone in the back laughed.
“Where’s the Ghost Host when you need him?” said Wil, or whatever his name really was.
“I’m your host, and I’m not a ghost,” said Joshua Wander. “Usually.”
“What is happening? Where are we going?” someone else asked. It sounded like one of the Tilen brothers.
“Another world, almost certainly,” Fabian said. “Probably some version of Mâvarin.”
“Maybe, but maybe not,” Josh said. “In my experience, it’s seldom easy to get Toujours Chez Moi back to a place it’s been before. We could end up someplace else entirely.”
“Great,” Jamie said, somewhere off to Cathy’s left. “If we end up in Oz, I’m going to be very annoyed.”
“It’s theoretically possible,” said Joshua Wander. “I’ve been to a few worlds that had literary equivalents.”
“Really?” Sheila asked. “I would be quite interested to hear about that sometime, when our situation is less perilous.”
“I told you. We’re safe, at least for the moment,” Fabian insisted. “I’m not sure how safe we’ll be once we arrive, but this castle—“
“This castle is used to traveling between worlds unscathed,” Josh said. “Yes, I should have realized it would protect you folks from that bit of collapsing reality back there. It’s just that I don’t usually travel in my castle. Normally I go first, and Toujours Chez Moi follows after.”
“So you keep saying,” Carl said. “How do you do it?”
“Oh, sometimes I initiate it with magic, but mostly it’s something that happens to me,” Josh said. “It’s left over from a very foolish and dangerous series of experiments I participated in when I was young. It’s an interesting life, but not a comfortable one. I can’t really recommend it.”
Cathy noticed that the castle now seemed to be rocking very slightly as it seemed to slowly rotate, as if on a giant turntable. She hoped that wasn’t literally the case. The faces of other people were slowly becoming visible around her. Either her eyes were getting used to the gloom, or the dim light outside the heavy glass windows was getting brighter. As Cathy watched, the light slowly grew from twilight gloom to midday sunshine.
With one last heavy thump, the castle came to a stop.
“Well, that was interesting,” Fabian said cheerfully. “Let’s go see where we are, shall we?”
Welcome to Mâvarin (info on the books and characters)
Joshua Wander and other past fiction (use sidebar to get to the individual installments)
Saturday, May 28, 2005
This is the dead grapefruit tree in our back yard. I took the picture today, not because the tree is inherently wonderful or interesting, but to show you the clouds behind it.
You see, it rained today in Tucson.
It didn't rain much, but it did rain. That probably doesn't sound like big news, but around here, it kind of is. To paraphrase a book called Arizona 101, "When everyone at the office rushes to the window, that means it's raining."
The usual statistic for Tucson is 360 sunny days a year. That doesn't mean that it only rains five days a year. No, what happens is, most of the year it's sunny all day long. Then during part of the winter, and again (only more so) in July and August, it will be sunny part of the day. Then in the afternoon the clouds will build up, and it will rain, usually between 4 and 6 PM or else at night. That's part of what's called the Arizona monsoon. The monsoon is the summer storm season, and the specific weather pattern that fuels it. There's also a winter storm season, but it's not really the monsoon. The summer is when you get all the thunder and lightning and stuff.
So why am I talking about this in May? It rained today. Normally it doesn't rain much in May, if at all. Normally, it hasn't quite reached 100 degrees by May, either, but we've already had 110 degrees, repeatedly. The little sprinkle late this afternoon accompanied a much-needed cooling off.
I'm not quite sure what the deal is with the weather this year. I think we're supposed to be having another round of the weather pattern called El Niño. We had more rain than usual this winter, leading to a good wildflower season. The downside of this, according to the weather people, is that the spring flowers will dry out for summer, adding fresh fuel to summer wildfires. Now we've got this premature heat and moisture, caused by a monsoon-like weather pattern. A weather report I saw the other night called this "pre-monsoonal." One of my co-workers heard another reporter call it the "mocksoon."
So what does that bode for this summer? Will Mount Lemmon catch fire again this year, or will we be both careful and lucky this time? Does 110 in May mean 120+ degrees in July? Will the rain this summer mostly skirt the edges of the valley that is Tucson, as it did last year, or will we get lots of gullywashers?
I'll let you know as things develop.
Meanwhile, were are a few rerun photos I first posted last year. The rainbow one was taken in the back yard of our old house in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains west of the city, back in 1990. The tall cactus thing is a saguaro, probably 150 years old and dying by then.
The fire picture is a little older than the rainbow one. It predates the really disastrous fire on Mount Lemmon, the Aspen Fire, by over a decade. The Aspen Fire took out the village of Summerhaven a few years ago. It's pretty much all rebuilt now, and lawsuits are pending over inadequate insurance coverage. But the fire in this photo that John took in the late 1980s was farther down the mountain, in an area were only wildlife lived. And that, of course, is bad enough.
Me, I want a relatively cool, relatively wet summer, to refill the reservoirs and dampen any fire hazards, and finally put an official end to the decade-long drought. Weather like that might save lives, and give me pretty images to capture.
Well, we'll just have to see, won't we? Stay tuned.
Fun facts about the Tucson monsoon - NWS
Fire on the Mountain - More on the Monsoon
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Weekend Assignment #61: What is the most ridiculous name you've ever given a pet? Because, you know, once you've had a few, all the obvious names are taken, and I think most of us get a little slap-happy. "Ridiculous" could mean an absurd name, or a name in opposition to the pet's physical or character traits (i.e., calling a Great Dane "Tiny"), or something else that just points out that there's something goofy about your pet's title. The pet can be current or former, and -- since these are also a source of amusing names -- if you had a ridiculously named stuffed animal at any point in time, you can include that. Also, if you have a show dog or cat, their "formal" titles certainly belong in the ring.
Extra credit: Well, a picture of said ridiculously-named pet would be nice.
Okay, which is more ridiculous:
A. Naming this mongrel puppy Princess Guinevere of Westcott Street?
B. Applying the Toros mascot name Tuffy Toro to this scaredy-dog?
After nine years with us, during which she's been consistently treated kindly, Tuffy still runs away when confronted with the scary sounds of an empty can being dropped in the recycle bin, food being shifted in the refrigerator, John or Karen sounding mildly annoyed, or a pin dropping. Okay, I'm exaggerating about the pin. But she'd run from the sound of a pen dropping. I'm sure of it. Or the sight of a large box. Or the opening of the washing machine lid. Poor Tuffy! So many things to fear!
Tuffy will bark and, if absolutely necessary, growl, but if a stranger comes in the house she'll immediately run away, and do her barking from a safe distance. She tries to sound fierce and protect the home, but she's not fooling anybody, least of all us. The best you can say for the name is that it's ironic. Still, she does make a great burglar alarm!
As for Princess Guinevere of Westcott Street, I came up with the name as a bridge between the name my friend Bob gave her (Princess) and a name I liked better (Jenny). I lived on Westcott Street at the time, and was very fond of T.H. White's The Once and Future King, in which Guinevere (Guenever in the book) is nicknamed Jenny. So now you know the why and wherefore. Are you enriched?
Other pet names over the years:
- Eowyn - the gerbil that ate my prom dress
- Friskyblue - a parakeet
- Kisser and Gommis - kissing gouramis
- Mr. P.- a plecostomus
- Noodle - a mostly-white Samoyed / Spitz/ Golden Retriever mix
- Wafer / Wayfarer - a black lab puppy
The first five stuffed animals in my childhood collection, in order of acquisition:
- Trophy - a toy poodle on a red pillow. I still have Trophy (as shown here), but the pillow's long gone.
- Snoopy - a white, beagle-like dog, my Snoopy was not named after Charlie Brown's dog, but for Snoopy Sniffer.
- Percy - a panda. Or maybe a bear. I called him a bear, anyway. He was white, with black paws.
- Timmy - a tiger.
- Toothy - a giroo, I insisted, a cross between a giraffe and a kangaroo. Everyone else said he was a dinosaur, more specifically a brontosaurus. I guess we were all wrong! He's green with leopard spots, and yes,I still have him, too. I think Uncle Ed won him for me on the boardwalk at Seaside Park, New Jersey.
P.S. A few unrelated items of note:
1. Welcome to everyone who found this journal through the Round Robin Photo Challenge! I update daily, so feel free to stop by often. I'll try to make it worth your while.
2. My counter on this page reset itself tonight. Drat! It was up over 12,000-something. Then tonight it was 0000004. I shouldn't care--should I?
3. John signed on today as an official employee for the company at which he's been temping all year. Now we've REALLY got to get him a car for that long commute!
4. Yes, MY new job is going well.
I spent the better part of the past two evenings on the entry below this one. The second night I fixed photos, fixed typos, added the name of the organ builder, revised the text, and added and corrected links to entries by the other Round Robin Photo Challenge participants. Thanks to everyone who posted a mysterious doorway--I enjoyed all of your entries very much!
But it's almost midnight now, and I only got four hours of sleep last night. So tonight's entry will be pulled from a recent IM to Sarah K:
What's an "E" Ticket?
My parents went to Disneyland in 1968 or 1969, as part of a trip to California. For financial reasons, and possibly romantic ones, Steve and I stayed home in Manlius with a sitter named Tibby. I was terribly jealous of my parents, seeing Disneyland without me! They brought back a map of it on tan paper, and I kept it on my wall for years. I didn't get to Walt Disney World until 1976, or Disneyland until 1977 or 1978. I was in college by then.
My mom lived an hour or so from Orlando from 1976-1977 and 1978-1995. So I always borrowed her car and went over for the day. But the first time, we went together. They still had ticket books then.
SaKishler: er, what are, or were, ticket books?
Until the late 1970s, at Disneyland and at Walt Disney World, you bought tickets for each ride. Usually, you'd get one ticket book, and supplement it with individual tickets if you ran out. Depending on the cost of the ticket book, it had different numbers and denominations of tickets. I think the one I got that first time had only one "E" ticket, two or three "D" tickets, maybe five "C" tickets, and more "B" and "A" tickets than I'd ever use in a day. (I may have the numbers wrong, but you get the idea.) "A" tickets would be stuff like the bus down Main Street USA. The Haunted Mansion was an "E" ticket.
That's why the fan magazine about Disneyland is called The E-Ticket. Usually each issue's cover story is about one of the classic E-ticket attractions: the Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, and so on.
The E-ticket rides were the best ones, the ambitious, innovative ones. Of course, adults and older kids would especially want to ride the E-ticket rides, and end up paying extra for more E-tickets. But it would be totally worth the extra $1.50 or whatever!
SaKishler: yes, I suppose general admission cost a lot less in those days anyway.
I can't remember whether you could buy general admission without a ticket book in 1976. Maybe, but you wouldn't be able to do anything but walk around unless you spent additional money on tickets or food or souvenirs or all of the above.
That's more or less what I wrote last night. I was writing off the top of my head from memory, so of course I got some of the specifics wrong. In particular, it turns out that the ticket books had more "E" tickets than I thought: three or five of them as of 1972, depending on whether you got the 10 or 15 coupon ticket book. The ticket books included park admission. It makes me wonder where John's got our old leftover Disney coupons stashed! I know we still have some somewhere, from both parks.
A great illustrated FAQ about the old Disney coupon / ticket system, based on 1972 prices, can be found at http://www.justdisney.com/Features/tickets.html. A more trivia-oriented look at the ticket books, with more illustrations, can be found on on Yesterland.com. Yesterland, incidentally, is one of my favorite Disney fan sites. If it used to be at Disneyland, but isn't any more, you can find it at Yesterland.
Although the tickets and ticket books haven't been sold in decades, fans still refer to the high-end rides (e.g. Indiana Jones) as E-ticket attractions. Oh, and by the way, modern, "ticketless" airline purchases are also called e-tickets (as in electronic tickets). But those aren't nearly as much fun!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Update: my follow-up to this entry was posted late Sunday evening.
Note: I looked at this entry briefly at work today, and all the pictures were too dark. Why didn't anybody mention this? See, my laptop shows everything lighter than desktop computers usually do, and now that I've changed jobs I don't correct the problem at work the next day. Tonight I lightened a bunch of recent pictures and uploaded them again. I hope that's better for everyone! Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm going to swap out one or two of these photos for better shots, and update the links at the end. - Karen
Just a moment to explore
What goes on beyond the door
That will bruise our hearts no more
Than moonlight passing through a window
--sung by Scott Bakula in Romance/Romance (1988)
Round Robin Photo Challenge: Mysterious Doors
I didn't have a particular door in mind when I suggested this topic to our merry Robins. But the doors I seem to pass most often without ever going in are at St. Michael's. This one, for example, the one to the Bride's Room, is mysterious in a couple of ways. What's inside that a bride needs before a wedding? Why is there no "groom's room?" More important, going through that door means that one is about to embark on the much greater mystery of married life itself.
I've never been through that door. There could be anything in there. But I imagine that it's basically a dressing room. There was nothing like that at St. Patrick's in Syracuse when I married John--not that I recall, anyway.
But for me the main mystery door at St. Michael's is just to the right of the main ones that lead into the church itself. It's usually locked and barred, but not on Sunday mornings. Just as Mass begins, Proscovia or someone else opens it and pulls on one of the two ropes inside, setting off the (probably electric) church bells. I always wondered whether there was a real bell pull, or just a button to push. And was the space beyond the door just a closet-sized chamber with the bell controls in it, or something more? It didn't look as if there could be room for more than the bell mechanism, whatever it might be, and maybe a broom or something. Oh, and a fire extinguisher. The red and white sticker in the window says, "Fire exinguisher inside." I don't know how you'd get to that fire extinguisher in a hurry, except when the door is unlocked for Mass. That makes sense, though, because that's when acolytes and deacons and priests are playing with matches, carrying candles and burning too much incense.
Well, on Sunday, May 22nd, totally by accident, I found out what else was beyond that mysterious door. And it was much more than I could have imagined.
It happened like this. That afternoon, a nationally-recognized organist named Todd Wilson was going to play a concert on the church's Æolian-Skinner pipe organ. This pipe organ rededication performance was to celebrate the fact that the antiphonal section of the organ (the part in the back loft of the church) has been installed by the organ builder and is now operational.
I'd been seeing those shiny copper-colored pipes for months, and had tried repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) to get a good picture of them. It's hard to get a good angle on the "choir loft" (except that the choir never goes up there, as far as I know!) from ground level in the rather dark church.
Anyway, I was pretty sure that I couldn't make the concert, but I wanted to get a picture of Todd Wilson for the church web site. So I left coffee hour and Eva's gingerbread and went back into the church. Wilson was warming up with a truly glorious and complex piece that reminded me of a (much simpler) Christmas song I sang in choir many years ago.
I waited a few feet away in an empty pew of the almost empty church until he finished playing. As he played, another man was walking around, checking the openings to the main banks of organ pipes, adjusting doors and the evaporative cooler to control heat and humidity--in short, tweaking. This was the organ builder, Grahame Davis. He's important to the rest of this story, and deserves recognition for his work.
When Mr. Wilson finished his organ solo, I introduced myself as the church webmaster and asked to take a photo of him for the church blog. He recognized me from Mass (I got to read Genesis, Chapter One on Sunday) and graciously posed for me. He's a very nice man, and clearly very talented and dedicated to his craft.
As we chatted about the organ, I mentioned that I'd been trying unsuccessfully to get a good picture of the pipes in the loft. Wilson immediately suggested that I go up and get a closer look at them! The organ builder agreed, and immediately took me off on a private tour. And guess how that tour started? Yup: he led me through the mysterious door to the right of the church entrance!
From there we went up narrow wooden steps to the loft where the new Antiphonal division of the organ was installed. From the back of the loft, there's not much to see, at least under normal circumstances. Most of the pipes are housed in a big wooden box structure, called a cabinet. Grahame Davis explained that this was to help mute the powerful pipes within, so that they can be played softly and still have the proper tone and pitch. When the organist (usually Jane Haman, our choir director) wants to play them more loudly, foot pedals can be used to open wooden flaps behind and between the pipes, letting more of the sound out. The builder opened a couple of doors, one in the back and one on the side, and I took a bunch of pictures of this hidden treasure.
When I came around to the front of the pretty copper ones, I got to hear at least one of them, up close and personal!
The last of the interior pictures is of the upper door to the loft, and the completely unimpressive room beyond it. If you didn't pay attention to that long duct-like pipe thing on the floor, and the giant wooden box thing on the right, you wouldn't know there was anything special here.
I didn't take a picture of the tiny room where the bell pulls are. I forgot / didn't have time. Besides, we should preserve a few mysteries!
Now, the main reason I never knew that door went up to the loft was that I always assumed that this other external door was the way up to the choir loft (except that the choir never goes up to the loft). This door is on a balcony above the main double doors. I don't know how you would even get up to this door to go through it. Perhaps a ladder? And if you do, I'm still not sure what you'd find on the other side. I didn't see that door from inside the loft. Maybe it's where the bells are. Or maybe I just didn't notice it. Either way, the mystery of the upper door remains unresolved. I could always ask Father Smith, but where's the fun in that?
And now my story is all told. - Dr. Seuss, in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
Now go look at everyone else's mysterious doors:
Carly (OndineMonet) Ellipsis - posted!
Duane (fdtate714) Sotto Voce - posted!
Steven (sepintx) (sometimes) photoblog - posted!
Betty (rap4143) My Day My Interests - posted!
Amy (babyshark28) substance; or lack of - posted!
Mary (alphawoman1) Alphawoman's blog - posted!
Dawn (AuburnDawn) Dawns Drivel - posted!
Kat (mskatdabrat) From Every Angle - posted!
Robbie (krobbie67) Robbie's Ruminations - NEW!
And me, I'm
but you already know that, don't you? Have fun!
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Although I didn't learn the man's name until about eight years ago, I've been listening to Thurl Ravenscroft all my life. Chances are excellent that you have, too. He died yesterday of prostate cancer, and I can't let this moment pass without acknowledging one of my favorite Disney Legends. The truth is, a lot of the time when I'm watching or listening to classic Disney stuff, a good chunk of my enjoyment comes from auditory "Thurl-spotting."
If you've read or heard about Thurl today, you were probably told that he was the voice of Tony the Tiger for over 50 years. You may have also learned that he sang "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in the classic Chuck Jones / Dr. Seuss animated special How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Well, for a Disney fan, those are the least of Thurl's accomplishments. If you've ever...
- watched Mary Poppins,
- sung along to the Zorro tv show theme song,
- listened to Disney's Winnie the Pooh records,
- watched the recording of the Dog Chorus (a.k.a. the Mello Men) whining Home Sweet Home in a Wonderful World of Color segment about Lady and the Tramp
- ridden on the Mark Twain, visited the Enchanted Tiki Room, sailed past the Pirates of the Caribbean unscathed (but perhaps got a little wet) or listened to singing busts in a Haunted Mansion...
...you've heard Thurl Ravenscroft.
He had this really distinctive deep voice that I became aware of even as a kid. Disney music had a certain sound that I came to recognize as I watched The Wonderful World of Color, and later The Wonderful World of Disney. I didn't associate the "Disney Male Chorus" sound (usually the Mellomen) from Disney projects with the voice that said "They're Grrreat!"--but I should have. Finally, on a mid-1990s visit to Disneyland, on the Disneyland Railroad, another fan told me about Thurl, and it all clicked. Since then I've bought lots of Disney CDs, LPs, VHS and DVDs, and Thurl is on most of them. Somewhere I also have a TeeVee Tunes collection of old TV commercials. Thurl is there, too, singing the virtues of at least two brands of beer, and asking "How Are You Fixed for Blades?"
Several years ago, back when eBay was new and John and I were doing the yard sales / thrift shops / auctions thing every weekend, I bought an unused, kid's size Tony the Tiger costume. The idea was to send that to Thurl for an autograph, along with one of the Disney CD inserts, probably from the Disneyland / Walt Disney World CD. A heartfelt fan letter would have gone with it. But the address for him was care of Disney, I knew he was already quite old, and I was reluctant to risk losing the CD insert. So I put it off, knowing full well that one of these days, it would be too late.
And now it is.
Goodbye, Thurl. Sorry I never told you how much fun I've had all these years listening to you. Tell Paul Frees hi from me too, okay?
All Things Thurl
Thurl Ravenscroft on IMDB
Monday, May 23, 2005
Your Monday Photo Shoot: Capture a striking scene at night. The content of the picture is your choice, but it should be at night, and if at all possible it should be a cool shot.
I took these during Holy Week in March. I'd only had the camera for two weeks, but I think these particular shots came out well. Others, not so much.
Evening at St. Michael's, Maundy Thursday, 3/24/05
The cloud-shrouded moon, 3/24/05 I didn't notice the cross shape until after I posted this tonight.
Easter Vigil at St. Michael's, 3/26/05. The fire is used to light a large candle. A priest (in this case Father Ireland) then processes up the nave of the unlit church, lighting other, smaller candles (which are used to light still more candles). Thus:
The vigil continues inside.
Return of the cloud-shrouded moon, 3/26/05
I don't feel like writing words tonight.