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May 2014

Farewell, Great Lady

Clicking on the photo will take you to a pretty good iPhone video posted at YouTube of this entire talk. She speaks at a low volume, but it is otherwise clear. And I hope I haven't doomed its existence by sharing it here...but it's not like more than three or four people look at this page anyway, right?

She was wonderful to hear, and I'll never forget it.

Lily and Violet and Me: A Birthday Countdown Post

I've been writing about the Palm sisters for nearly ten years. Eventually something will come of it. Perhaps. This was from...2011? I should stop renaming files. Anyway, my supper tonight reminded me of them, except no whisky or cookies.


In the kitchen, Jack asked Violet, "Has the game begun? You wanna pretend nothing is happening so we'll enjoy it more when it does?" He was frustrated, and a little drunk.

"I was wrong. I mean, I didn't explain myself very well. Please give me a chance to do that later on?" Violet reached up and put her arms around his neck. "I'm not playing a game with you, Jack. I just have a complicated way of thinking things through sometimes. And we had such a great evening together, let's make sure we enjoy the rest of it, even if we can't get those two crazy kids out of here yet."

He kissed her lightly. "I love getting these little tastes of you, Violet. But they're making me hungry."

She laughed and said, "Let's have a snack now, and satisfy our appetites later." She went to her refrigerator and started pulling things out at random: salami, smoked provolone, olives, grapes, until Jack stopped her and said, "Are we having a snack or fortifying ourselves for battle?"

Violet said, "Oh. Oops. Well, okay, but here. Let's put these cookies on the tray. There always have to be cookies."

She started to carry the tray through the swinging door, but Jack stopped her. "Come here." He wrapped his arms around her and said, "None of my Italian aunts were sexy like you."

"Well, of course not, silly. They were all over thirty." She planted a quick kiss on his cheek, then grabbed the tray and went out before he could react.

Jack thought to himself, "Does everyone think I've only ever been interested in women half my age?" He sighed. "Well, they aren't going to think that anymore. The Queen of Seaview has me in her sights." He grinned at the thought. And decided he had a thirst for more of Robert's obnoxiously expensive whisky.

When they entered the sitting room, Robert was stretched out on the couch, and Lily was poking at the fire. Violet laid the tray on the coffee table and sat down on the loveseat with Jack. He pulled her a bit closer and put his arm around her. Lily smiled, but said nothing except, "Ooh, is this the good salami from the city? Here, Robert, try this. Wrap it around a piece of the cheese."

Robert shook his head and looked around at him. "Sometimes you all eat like you just got off the boat. And none of you has ever even seen the coastline of Italy."

"Hey, that's right," Jack said. "You're the only one of us who's ever been there. You get a look at Abruzzo? Dean Martin's family is from there, too, you know?"

"Yes, Jack, in fact, I made a special stop there just to visit the cemetery of Dean Martin's ancestors." Robert rolled his eyes. "No, I've mostly visited the north. But I did see a bit of Sicily not too long ago, where half of the rest of Seaview's great-grandparents are buried. Not that I was visiting cemeteries..." His mind wandered back to a mountainside terrace, a bottle of red wine, a lovely widowed signora who offered him her company one summer weekend...it was hot down in the valley, but the cool mountain breezes were delicious, and so was Annamaria.

He and Jack exchanged a look. Jack refilled his glass. Last night he only pretended to drink as much as his young theatre crew. Tonight, it seemed like a good idea to tie one on. He held the glass up to Robert, who lifted his own, and said, "Salute."

They both knocked back their drinks and Robert refilled them. Lily and Violet ate cookies and watched.

"These cookies sure are good with this whisky, Violet," Lily said.

"They sure are, Lily. I wonder if the Scotch distillers thought about that while they were crafting their recipe."


I remember, I remember

Visiting cemeteries on Memorial Day when I was a child. Just whoever was dead and around, you know, but of course it didn't start out that way. Here's information I culled about Memorial Day, and how it is different from Veteran's Day (and to my mind, should remain so.) I liked our cemetery tradition, I mean, I like how that's what it became. But as I grow older, I'm more connected to more history, and I like that, as well.

Yesterday at Kroger, veterans were handing out paper poppies for Memorial Day. They are to honor the war dead, of course, and I got to thinking about how people confuse that with Veterans Day, maybe because of how Remembrance Day is honored overseas.

You see, Memorial Day began here after the Civil War, but the poppy tradition was added after World War 1, and that tradition is followed in the UK and Canada, and a few other places, specifically on November 11. The first poppy was worn by an American in 1918 as a symbol of remembrance, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Field," by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian doctor who fought in the war. And because we already had Memorial Day, when Armistice (now Veterans) Day in the U.S. was established, it was to honor all veterans, living and dead. Of course, no one then wanted to imagine another such war could occur...

So here's some information on Memorial Day, from the VA, and from a quiz at this blog: http://carolyncholland.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/11-facts-about-memorial-day/ I left out her bonus question as it was not quite correct, though mostly.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 8.21.06 AM
Why was May 30 chosen as Memorial Day?
 —The last Monday of May was chosen to coincide with the time when flowers would be blooming all over the country.
What was the first state to officially recognize Memorial Day?
—New York
How do the soldiers of the 3rd U. S. Infantry participate in Memorial Day?
—Since the late 1950s, on the Thursday just before Memorial Day, around 1200 soldiers of the 3rd US Infantry place small American flags at each of more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.
What does the National Moment of Remembrance Resolution ask Americans to do on Memorial Day?
—Americans are asked to observe a moment of remembrance and respect by pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence, or listening to taps, at 3:00 p. m.
Who presided over the first Memorial Day?
—General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant
When was Memorial Day first celebrated?
—May 30, 1868. It was observed by placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers during the first national celebration. Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which around 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.
What is the birthplace of Memorial Day?
—Waterloo, N.Y. is considered its birthplace because the residents were the first people to proclaim a day, May 5, 1866, to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War. They closed their businesses and placed flowers and flags on the graves of their soldiers.
When did Congress declare Memorial Day a national holiday?
When should the American flag be raised from half staff to full staff on Memorial Day?
—At noon.
Who was General John A. Logan?
—Maj. Logan was the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union Civil War Veterans, who took charge of Memorial Day celebrations in the Northern States. He first declared Memorial Day a special day to honor Union soldiers killed in battle.


Okay, so where was I?

Funny how that one day with Typepad Down just as I was establishing the every morning blog habit set me back so completely I was marathoning old episodes of Midsomer Murrrrhdhers before I even knew what happened to me. So, and then I was very busy all day today and tonight I found myself inexplicably involved in three different "social media" networks before I took hold of myself, and here we are. I woke up with "Divine Thing" by the Soup Dragons in my head, but that was just ages ago. And we waited all day for a storm that finally just sort of limped its way through like a silver-haired devil in a '71 Cutlass who couldn't even be bothered to swallow that pill, because he was into the road trip and didn't feel like stopping by after all.

This morning I pissed off, like, eight people at Google Plus, not people I consider friends, but friends of? Kind of ruthless at them with their lack of sense-making until I wised up and started cooking stuff instead. I should have a little strip to apply to my skin which would change colors depending on how patient I could be at a given time with other people who feel the need to broadcast stuff better kept in their heads. Like those temperature strips we put on babies before the 3 second thermometer was invented. An early warning system.

I took some really nice photos of flowers today, and the opera tickets arrived, and I noticed a bit of color on two of the Indigo Rose tomatoes, but I'm not sure they are at their optimal size yet, so that might not be great. It's weird for there to be tomatoes this early, but I'm just going with it. I figure a few can come early if they like, then the others will appear around the time they're actually meant to.

This turned out interestingly, I think.



All systems are go

Yeah, I'm not super good at the title thing. A sort of linear focus might enhance "readership" or whatever, but, whatever. The Birthday Countdown begins! And I am going to do something I enjoy now and then, share bits of thing I've written in the past. Actual serendipity has caused me to have indigo in my head lately. I keep running across references to it, and this bit of writing from 1997 appeared yesterday while I was searching for something else.

To think I was 32 years old then! I hadn't yet given birth to the Youngest Beauty! I marvel at this. Hmm, and that means I weighed only about 120 lbs, as well. Best not to dwell on that.

mood indigo, 1997
muted music floating up from the room below
dancing, swaying, tipsy together across this creaky floor,
and you, whispering tasty lies, nibbling my ear,
tellling me all those things every wide-eyed girl
in her best blue dress yearns to hear
The Sinatra recording is from In the Wee Small Hours, his first concept album, and it was just around that time I first heard it and...was kind of disappointed. Everyone told me it was so amazing, and I didn't really enjoy it very much. But last night I was listening to Nice and Easy, and thinking about how as I've gotten older, my Sinatra taste has changed and expanded. Now it occurs to me he was still alive then! Gosh.
There's always just been something very groovy about a man in his 40s; in command of who he is and what he enjoys about life, but lately, I'm growing more comfortable with the idea that a man in his 50s might still also be pretty all right.
Epicurus said, "It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life." Can any of us honestly apprehend and apply this philosophy without having first had "that mood indigo?" People try selfishly, but they leave parts of it out. Hopefully, they grow wiser with experience. I think we can continue to develop inner reflection while still (and more) fully appreciating and embracing our personal relationships.

Sunday: serendipity, I guess

What I mean is, not really serendipity unless perhaps...but that's for a later paragraph. I mean...a collection of this and that, from the past few days.

Last night I bought two tickets to see the Cincinnati Opera perform Carmen next month. I'm going to take my son who is nearly 16, and here's why. He is the least interested in music of anyone I've ever known. In our large family, that's a considerable thing to behold, because the rest of us are pretty much fully immersed in music all of the time. He never actively chooses to listen to some. Ever. He can't name a band or style he likes, because he doesn't know any.

And yet. He often has a tune in his head, going around humming, and it's usually orchestral. If you asked him about it, he'd seem unaware. But once in awhile he'll hum something and wish to know what it is, and it'll turn out to be from a movie soundtrack or an old symphony excerpted in a cartoon like Family Guy or The Simpsons.

I believe he will like the spectacle of live music performed this way, especially music with which he has real familiarity, partly because I'm inclined to wake them by singing in a shouty falsetto voice, "L'amour est enfant de Boheme," and partly because bits of it show up in all kinds of things. And of course, it's a torrid story, with lots of chaos and carrying on. TheronMuch too tall to someday be someone's opera boyfriend, besides the fact that none of us has ever heard him sing.

The opera is pretty expensive. I buy half price ticket packages to the symphony, so I was not thrilled with the amount, but these things do cost a lot to put on. For the symphony, I sit way up high in the gallery in section Q, which is right in the center, and it's a great view of the orchestra. Also, the people around me tend to be there for the music, rather than to Attend the Symphony. I entertained the idea of sitting up there with the boy for Carmen, and had an amusing moment or two imagining a Cincinnati version of the loggionisti, up there hollering at the tenor for flubbing a phrase, and throwing cold Belgian waffles or whatever, but that's probably not going to happen. Still, the people will appear tiny on stage from the upper gallery, so I opted for the next level down, not quite in the center, for $20 more per seat. We should be just below the view on the left side in this photo.

I get it about purists, but not really. Innovation is all that will save opera. Nothing has to be all or nothing at all; it can be what it is and still move with the times.

Oh! About the serendipity. Exactly
If you saw that clue and thought to yourself, "What's 4 divided by 15?" We need to meet because we are probably soul mates. Unless you're in an institution which allows only monthly visitors.

There was more to this, or meant to be, but I'll save it for another time.

Every little thing the Reflex does

God (or Bob, if you prefer, but I'm closely related to one of those,) help me when this song pops into my head, which it does with magnificently awful regularity. It's like a stand-in, when nothing else is going on in there. I don't hate "The Reflex" or anything; prefer post-2004 Duran Duran, but we can all make our peace with the loudest part of the mid-80s if we just set our minds to it.

And this is the sort of thing which denotes why I'll never have a huge blog following. With that, too, I have made peace.

I've been enjoying my Typepad home again quite a lot since I cleaned out the closets here. It feels fresh and welcoming again. I added a new page you can look at, but won't be sharing links from it often; it's just big pictures I take or arrange to capture a thought or a moment. Visual haiku. I tend to use the supplementary pages in seasons or spells, so right now I aim to have at least a weekly update on the garden one. You could look at it this way: this page is the main area where I offer your coffee or a cocktail, because I always have a room in my house just for that purpose, even though I never have any real live friends to put in it. I have the albums in here, and some interesting books and old magazines to look at. Sometimes we talk about what's going on in the world right now.

But then once in awhile we go back to the living room to watch an old movie, or I feed you (because I really like feeding people) while fussing a bit in the kitchen. Now and then we head straight for the deck to watch the light glint across the pool or pick some cherry tomatoes or flowers.

And that's this blog with its four side pages, linked at the top.

I have the house to myself all afternoon, and if I hadn't been fairly useless the past couple of days, I'd add tiny flowers to this canvas I painted years ago in a fit of black anger. I have never since that time bought black paint, because if you don't have it, you can't use it, can you? And it's better to mix the right dark, anyway. However, the main floor is starting to sulk from lack of attention, and the chicken in the refrigerator won't fry itself, so all that comes first. And therefore, I'm determined to listen to some good music while attending to it all, so that "The Reflex" is banished from the old thinking pan for a few days, at least.

Last weekend, I saw La Cenerentola, again alone because of timing, and it was wonderful and so disappointing. Here is a screenshot of how one of the interviews looked; I found it online. Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 7.24.31 PMThat's Deborah Voigt speaking with the stars, Joyce DiDinato and Juan Diego Flórez. This was Ms DiDinato's final performance in the role, for which she is well-known. And she was beautiful to hear. He was excellent. However, this is how we saw the entire thing at Milford 16:

MilfordviewIt was just awful to watch; the entire performance rendered so, and nothing the technician could do would fix it. We were in a different theater than usual, and somehow that must have been the key to the trouble. But they didn't offer a partial refund or discount or anything to me and the half dozen elderly in the audience. And it's too bad, because if they had, I'd have returned on Wednesday to see it again and see who else was in the audience...

And for some reason, this is now the song floating through my head, and I can now go make peace with all the rest of the day.  

Friday Five: Cowboy Bill

Okay, sorta. This kept morphing into one idea, then another. First, a huge young portrait you can see larger if you click on it.

Three from Alvarez Kelly, 1966.
An odd one from Escape from Fort Bravo, 1953
And this brings us to five, but I feel I owe something to dear old lostie, who's been patient with me about DINAO, and also is tweeting the most hilarious European vacation travelogue ever, so here's a comparison, and anyone who cares to may choose which Holden chest they prefer.


I much prefer the real thing to the shaved version, but it was considered a more youthful look. I resent Picnic kinda like I resent Sabrina, except backwards, maybe. Humphrey Bogart as Linus Larrabee was absurd. David could have run me over with his car and I'd have stayed with him over that guy. But if Joseph Cotten had played Linus, as he did on Broadway, I'd be satisfied. In Picnic, though, my boyfriend Bill is kinda like Bogart as Linus; he did a great job but it was all wrong.

Bloodied but unbowed

I take being cold again very seriously, is all. I've lived in intemperate regions before; Kansas City was worse than Cincinnati, though they're on the same line of latitude. Still, I had the thermostat set to cool 77 Tuesday night and it's currently set to heat 70, because indoors, I have a fairly narrow window of comfort. I can live with me this way, and everyone else has to if they like it otherwise.

By the way, "intemperate" means having a lack of self-control, and I think that describes midwestern weather very well. Everywhere I've lived and visited, and I've been to half the states, someone says, "If you don't like our weather, just wait x time and it will change." But if they haven't lived right in the middle of the country, I can't take that seriously. This is only a little weird for Cincinnati, but in Kansas City, they'd be like, "Oh, remember that one February when it was 19 in the morning and 91 at night, and we had hail?" "You mean every February?" Or something like that.

Only, because of some changes I experienced, and the condition I now have, cold just blows, man. And cold now means below 60 (just over 15) degrees. I could talk about this for a long time, but I won't.

I woke up with "Feels Like the First Time" in my head, and it crossed my mind that, even now looking back nearly 30 years, I still have very fond memories of the first time. What most people who think or thought they knew me don't realize is that it isn't the first time they assume they know about because of reasons. No, the first time was with a boy named Joe, and my only regret, if I can be said to have one, and I'm not keen on those, is that I was unable to directly express then just how great I now realize was our whole time together; roughly a year, as I recall. I'd tell him now, if I could. 

From a wholly superficial point of view, Mom might have felt more comfortable with the boy who was into early 70s adult contemporary or the Billy Joel fan than the Scorpions kid with the motorcycle. But moms sometimes get things wrong. So this is for Joe, who set the bar very high, with no apologies to anyone who calls me Mom and who might run across this blog someday. I hope you all have a Joe. So to speak.


It took too long to come up with a title

I will now tell you about my morning so far, which has been carrying on in the active state for about 40 minutes, but there was some semi-awake time in bed, during which I noted my sheets really are terribly comfortable, there appears to be a reprieve from rain, and my ears are...stopped up? I don't know what you call it. It's sinus-ness. I'm not a very sinusy person, not a mouth breather or anything like that, and when I get a cold it heads straight for my throat and chest. So this here is very weird and I am standing up and saying, I don't like it!

We aren't much for medication here, though I keep the basic pain relievers around, but I remembered there is a box of our favorite meth lab ingredient, for when the boys have colds because they do get the sinus, and so I took some. Now I'm waiting for it to do the thing it does.

Did you want to know all that? I was certain you did. Also, the song "The Stand" by Mother Mother is wandering through my head. Yesterday morning it was the Charlatans' "Arise Arise." Both good songs.

So I pondered this ear thing for awhile. I have tinnitus, so my first thought was, "aren't things quite weird enough to be going on with as it is?" And I entertained the idea of not being able to hear outside noises for awhile, however, it was clear that I can. It would be frightening at first to not be able to hear anymore, I expect. It isn't like if the electricity goes out and some of the humming just stops for awhile, which nearly happened yesterday. We heard a giant boom, and one of the kids said there was a flash, and for a split second, electricity noise stopped, but then there it was again, which is a better thing than not, all around.

But a tiny part of me always hopes for a power outage now and then, just to hear the silent air.

I made some coffee. At home, I add sugar and cream. When out somewhere if I have it, I use only half and half or cream and no sugar. And I feel bad about the sugar at home, only I created such a perfect balance of flavor. So I'm trying to adjust it down little by little. My reasoning is that if I eventually cut it in half, say, by next week, what on earth gives me the idea I couldn't cut that in half? And so forth. I use a mug which contains two cups of coffee, but then I don't have any more the rest of the day, because that's what water is for. And the morning is about the brightness of flavor and mouth feel. Tea doesn't do the same thing, even with cream in it. I never add sugar to tea.

It took twenty minutes to type all that, and it will take a few minutes more to add something someone might want to look at, and then this little exercise will be concluded. But I'm in a typey mood today and it is cold out, so this could happen again.

Two photos; first, the Eastgate Hellmouth at the point I was stopped one day recently. 20140508_172000-PANO
And my son last night at Olive Garden. We hadn't been there in a long time, but it's a good place to take hungry boys now and then. They have a sort of tapas menu now and then so I tried some of it. It wasn't bad; still a bit on the salty side.


It's been 45 minutes since I took the Costco "sudafed." It feels...slightly better, I think.


Hey, I wasn't just wasting all this time, though. I had a scintillating text conversation about Enneagram, in which I tried, but partly failed, not to be rude. It led to the wrong sorts of thoughts about two of my favorite Davids; Lynch and Byrne. And so forth. Life as we hardly make it some days. I'm going to make the rest of this one with some acrylic paint, I think, and loving care toward pepper plants. And aim to take pleasure in all the usual old things.

The awful awesomeness of Bobby Darin

He wanted so badly to be taken seriously. I like to think that it was after the recording of this program that he began thinking of farther off fields to explore. (Not a linear expression, internet pedants.)


He acquits himself in it perfectly well, of course. It was just all made of awkward, even for a Jack Benny episode, and even with the understanding that Darin really was a fan. It's fun to watch, though! I didn't mean to post something with the idea that it would be just terrible to see.

Recently I'd been wishing there was a recording of him doing "I've Got the World on a String," but when I found one, it disappointed me. It's much too slow, like his version of "Fly Me to the Moon," only less touching. Michael Bublé emulated him beautifully for "Call Me Irresponsible," but made the best "I've Got the World on a String," really, by doing his own thing. Only, when I hear that one, I want to hear Darin, so. I keep hoping one day another "lost" recording will appear or be resurrected from the fire. Along with "Danke Schöen," and a few others.

He did slow torchy songs right, though, no doubt about it. So for Bobby Darin's birthday, touching some of us in the special place, here's "The Other Half of Me."


I think of him as someone who put grace into his efforts, and was always reaching a little bit farther than he could grasp, which, I think, is what we should all do. Maybe in the end he just gave up, but if so, it wasn't until after he'd poured the best of himself into his life and his work and created a quiet but solid legacy.

Friday Five: Waters of March

I am sprinkling my top five favorite recordings of "Waters of March" into this blather. Because I hate when I want to try a new recipe and the blogger has to wax on for eighteen paragraphs about the rain and a shopping cart and fond memories of her first job before telling me how to make the cookies. You may now take 20 minutes for good music!

5. If you don't love this, you don't possess a soul, and I am sorry for you.

A couple days ago, my son walked in and asked me my favorite song. I went into brain-panic and could not remember the name of a single song from any time ever, except for "Mahna-Mahna." Which, you know, I actually like a lot. However, I cannot say it is my favorite song.

I'm so terrible with favorites. It's not that I have no discretion, but I don't have all that much maybe, just take joy in so many things and if you choose one thing, you're excluding the others, like sleeping with Raggedy Ann and worrying all night that Ted the Bear feels left out. And…let's move on.
4. The music for this starts after 46 seconds of exposition. It's different than the others, but I love David Byrne in the special way...

"Waters of March" popped into my head, and I decided, okay, that's the one. I could listen to it infinitely, and I could listen to it if I never got to hear other stuff as well. Not to say I would ever wish this to happen. But if it did.

And naturally, the boy has to reply, "Everyone in the world has recorded that song, which one?"

I protested, because he did not ask my favorite recording, did he? (No, he did not.)

It turns out I had only two digital recordings of it, and that wasn't any good for being able to share my five favorite versions, so I went shopping. But I knew a couple of my favorites would be available only on video, because of how they are. And then I ended up thinking they should all be from video, so it doesn't look like I'm giving away someone else's music...*
3. Rosa Passos has the lovely elegant musical instrument voice Brazilians seem to come by so often. And this is a cool performance.

Here is the thing about "Waters of March." It can't be too fast like crashing down a mountain in a panicked sports car with the wrong person sitting next to you. It can't be too slow and painfully earnest like the singer emptied a bottle of Jack into his gullet after learning his lover died in a car accident while cheating on him. It has to tumble over rocks in a creek, instead, like conversation after a glass of wine with a newly discovered and fully available love.

And it can't sound like a calculated recitation because that isn't charming at all. I tend to prefer the versions that have both Portuguese and English, but it isn't required.  
2. I'm not fully satisfied sharing this because Stevie Wonder talks for over a minute before it starts. But seeing Daniel sing his grandfather's song live is better than watching ducks on a pond set to his recording.

I could go into the somewhat interesting history of the composition, but you can just read the Wikipedia entry for that.

When you get into a song in this way, it is a very cool path to learning about artists you never heard before. And anybody who can pull off a decent "Waters of March" will get a good looking over by me.
1. I just think this is perfect.

*One more thing, though. I found this yesterday and the idea tickled me. A medley of two stream-of-consciousness songs, well, why not? But actually, it is very, very good; three sections that each stand on their own. Now I will want to hear more by Zoe Gilby.

Zoe Gilby - Windmills of Your Mind/Waters of March


Night at the opera

The Met Live in HD streaming performance of Così fan tutte had its encore Wednesday night, and all the cool kids were there. The cool kids were: a couple sitting in the row in front of me who were old enough that they probably call themselves old, and a man sitting several rows behind me who was...five-ten years older than me. Well, and me. I was wearing light grey ankle cropped pants with a sleeveless drape top in white, red, and black print, and my black two piece flat shoes.

That was it. There are usually a couple dozen people who attend the live stream on Saturday afternoon, but I was unable to do so. And clearly that isn't the cool crowd.

As I was attending this one alone, I left home early enough to get a snack and settle in before the lights went down. One of the pleasures of being me is that I am always on time without ever being in a hurry. But I should have prepared better for the snack. My choices were the movie theater nachos, hot dogs, pizza or popcorn, or Wendy's, or Target. Normally I'd have chosen something from Target, however, protein was calling my name, and I went into Wendy's for a spicy chicken sandwich.

I'm glad I went inside to order it instead of using the drive-thru. First, if you say no lettuce or mayo, keep the tomato, add onion and pickle, without looking someone directly in the eyes, you don't have any idea what you might get. But second, the people in front of me. Two women and a man. The older woman was fumbling through her order, trying to remember what she likes and how it comes, and the man was coaxing her along. It was interesting to watch. She was tall, with grey hair, and a firm but gentle countenance. The other woman was short and had dyed black hair, and was wearing a considerable amount of makeup; the snowbird variety. The man was...every man around age 70. Pleasant. After I ordered, we were all waiting together, and the older woman took a french fry off the partially assembled tray. He told her, "You just stole that woman's french fries. Those are hers." And then he had to repeat himself so she heard.

She was so astonished, I had to tell her they weren't mine, because I didn't order french fries. Then I apologized to him for ruining the joke. Chuckles all around. They were chuckles because it was a group thing; combined age of the four of us outstripping everyone in the building. But I brought the average down more than I realized, as the tiny woman told me, "Can you believe it? She's going to be 80 soon." Well, I couldn't believe it if I hadn't heard her try to order. She hardly looked 70, and that's not just me getting older. The nearly 80 year-old said, "Well, she's nearly 69." They were all happy about this, so I said, "I think you both look terrific." The younger one said, "She sure does; she doesn't look 80."

And then they took their trays as the man said something about eating there every Wednesday. And okay, these two women looked the same age, but they both looked about 65. So that was nice.

The self-serve kiosks at the theater were not working! Nor was anyone at the ticket sales area. Tickets were being sold by the manager at customer service. Benefit of this was that he knew to hand me the printed program notes, and pointed out I saved a couple dollars by coming to the encore. I sat in the first full row of the main section of seats, with the small old couple in the forward row where there's room for wheelchairs and things. Renee Fleming did the introductions, and that's good; I like her hosting best. Just as the lights went down, the other man came in and sat near the back.

The duets and sextets were basically perfect, and also as we watched Levine direct the overture, it was easy to see how much he loves it and knows it. And I really liked the set design; it was simple but not too stark, no long fussy interruptions, and the singers interacted with it all organically, which sometimes added to the comedy, but wasn't distracting. It felt young and light, which I appreciated. It was not what you'd call perfect overall, just good to listen to, and very entertaining. The arias in Così are mostly simple to follow, yet quite engaging. Mozarty. Also, I am now a fan of the enchanting Danielle de Niese. I hope to see her in something again soon.

During the second act, the old couple moved down to the back row of the front section of seats. I felt adrift at first, but I didn't take it personally. However, the man several rows back, whose appearance I did not notice as tall and sharp with a good profile, suddenly began enjoying himself immensely. He laughed aloud at least a dozen times, at actual funny moments, so that wasn't annoying, plus, he had a very pleasurable laugh to hear. At one point he left for a minute, and when he returned, I did not notice the shirt he was wearing as he passed by.

At the end, the old couple stood to leave before the bows, and he waved, first to me, so I waved in return, and then he waved to the man in the back. This delighted me. I had the sudden sense that we really had all been watching it together somehow, one of those energy in the air things you get, like at an extra innings baseball game.  So then the two of us were in the theater together, watching the curtain calls like we were watching for Robert Downey Jr. to dig into his chicken shawarma.

And so naturally, I called a kid on the phone the moment I stood up, and had a conversation with him all the way to the car, in front of the tall man with the pleasant laugh who got into a four door Acura in the row across from me. He might have had very nice grey hair, cut just as I like hair to be cut on a man, but I didn't notice.