Archive | April 4, 2014

I never thought I’d say this but I love my Kindle HDX

If I had any doubt at all about the Kindle increasing my reading speed, my Goodreads book challenge totals blew that out of the water. Usually the last few years I have been behind and didn’t finish the challenge. I usually challenge myself to150 books. Because I haven’t met the challenge the last few years and it made me feel stressed and bad not to have met the goal, I lowered it to a 100 books.

I’m going to have to raise it. I’ve read 40 books of my 100 and it is only April. I can’t figure out what I’m doing differently. I’m still playing games and watching an occasion video. I’m still writing and blogging. The only thing that is different is the Kindle itself. So why is it so much faster?

I know the Kindle is easier on my eyes than a book. I’m thinking the Kindle favours the reading style I picked up as a kid when I was teaching myself to read. I go back and forth when I read and don’t go to the left side of the page to start a line and I can see a whole line at once and don’t have to have my eyes follow the line like you have to when reading a wide page like a hardback has.

Anyway, I never thought I would love something more than my laptop, but I do. I’m going to be screwed when the earthquake hits if the power is out.

My County, Tis of Thee and other adventures

When I was in Carol Choir, our director Mrs Charles C Hirt , (http://articles.latimes.com/2001/feb/12/local/me-24375) taught us all the necessary skills to be a good singer and choir member, like music reading, sight singing, listening to each other and breath control. The way she taught breath control was the song “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. We had to learn to sing the first verse in one breath and not blow out a candle with our breath.

This led to me always singing that song in one breath for each verse. Many years later I took a voice class in college, just for fun with Paul Mayo. The first day he wanted to test our voices so he had each of us get up in front of the class and sing. The song he chose, “My Country, Tis of Thee”. I got up when it was my turn and sang and didn’t even think of what was going to happen. I finished and he exploded out of his seat yelling at me to breathe, damn it!

So I had to stand there and explain why that happened while my brother howled with laughter in the back of the class, because he would have done exactly the same thing. I learned very quickly not to do that again but I still do it in the car as an exercise. Once I explained who had taught me to do that he calmed down because Mrs Hirt was pretty famous in her own right for her work with children’s choirs.

I loved singing for her but we were pretty terrified of her too because she had a way of knowing exactly who was misbehaving and give them “The Look”. This always scared you into submission. I found out as an adult that she was very near-sighted and she was frowning at the direction she heard something and she had no clue who was being bad. She had been badly burned in a wax fire making Christmas candles and it had melted her fingers into a unique shape and she would move her hands in the most graceful fashion and we followed those beautiful but misshapen hands anywhere she led.

She used to stick the kids who couldn’t stay on pitch next to me so they could hear and follow and because I didn’t make them feel bad about it. I remember when she put one of my friends that was a choir kid like me, next to me. L had problems with pitch and got teased a lot about it. Choir kids were supposed to be perfect and most of us did have perfect or relative pitch but poor L did not. One of the few fights I ever got in was defending L from two of the other girls who were also choir babies. They were always teasing me and most of time I ignored them because I didn’t have any choice about who I associated with but the day they went after L was it. I got mad. They didn’t tease her again. They had made her cry and feel bad and she was a really nice person and they made me mad.

When I got to Lyric Choir, Mrs Hirt switched me to second soprano and I’d always been a soprano. It made me mad and even though I was really shy them I got the nerve to complain about it to her. I had never done that ever to her. We were so scared of her most of the time even though we vacationed together every year we just didn’t. She was the DIRECTOR. Anyway she made me stay after choir practice and started playing chords on the piano and asked me to pick the middle one and sing it. I guess I hit everyone correctly because she told me that was why she had moved me and she complemented me. That had never happened before. I was thrilled and I was a second soprano until years later when I got moved alto. I have no idea how she knew I could do that but she did.

Choir was the one place I was never ever tempted to misbehave and I only ever came close once. Jolly Rancher used to make bars as well as the little individual candies they make now and my favourite was pink grapefruit which they also don’t make anymore. I got one at school and started sucking it and it wasn’t done when I got to choir so I stuck the whole damn bar in my mouth at the same time and it had to have showed as 2 bulges in my cheeks and it glued my teeth together so I couldn’t talk and we weren’t even supposed to have gum let alone candy. She came over to say something to me and I couldn’t speak. I could only nod yes or no and she knew it. She didn’t bust me for it but she asked enough questions to make me bright red, I’m sure. I think she knew I would never do that again but it amused her to torture me for doing it in the first place and she didn’t tell my mom like she usually did if she busted a choir kid.

Mrs Hirt nominated me for a scholarship to Music Camp when I was in 6th grade and it was the first time I went to camp or anywhere not knowing more than one other kid. I knew grownups that were there but the kids were in another place. It was the first time in my life I could be who I wanted to be without being in the shadow of my parents. It was the most liberating experience I had as a kid. I will always be grateful to her for that. I wasn’t a choir kid or an elder’s kid or one of some group someone had put me in because of who my parents were or my parents had decided I had needed to be in without asking me first. I was free to be me.

Today’s reading

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Lynx

King of Arrows

Still found in mountain woodlands in parts of Europe, the lynx is one of the creatures at the top of the food chain. With its speed and cunning, combined with its ability to climb trees, it is a formidable hunter as well as a fierce protector of its young.

The lynx balances powerful action with needful passivity.

A person of power, able to defend, protect and nourish their children or inner child, proud and independent.

A tendency to anger curbed by a warm heart.

Poetry Month – the most druidic of Patriotic Songs

by lyrics Samuel Francis Smith 1831

1

My country, ’tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty,

Of thee I sing;

Land where my fathers died,

Land of the pilgrims’ pride,

From ev’ry mountainside

Let freedom ring!

2

My native country, thee,

Land of the noble free,

Thy name I love;

I love thy rocks and rills,

Thy woods and templed hills;

My heart with rapture thrills,

Like that above.

3

Let music swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees

Sweet freedom’s song;

Let mortal tongues awake;

Let all that breathe partake;

Let rocks their silence break,

The sound prolong.

4

Our fathers’ God to Thee,

Author of liberty,

To Thee we sing.

Long may our land be bright,

With freedom’s holy light,

Protect us by Thy might,

Great God our King.

Additional verse to celebrate Washington’s Centennial:

5

Our joyful hearts today,

Their grateful tribute pay,

Happy and free,

After our toils and fears,

After our blood and tears,

Strong with our hundred years,

O God, to Thee.

Additional verses by Henry van Dyke:

6

We love thine inland seas,

Thy groves and giant trees,

Thy rolling plains;

Thy rivers’ mighty sweep,

Thy mystic canyons deep,

Thy mountains wild and steep,–

All thy domains.

7

Thy silver Eastern strands,

Thy Golden Gate that stands

Fronting the West;

Thy flowery Southland fair,

Thy North’s sweet, crystal air:

O Land beyond compare,

We love thee best!