Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving here at home was very warm and a lot of fun. There were six of us for dinner at 3pm. Fritz's sister started us off with her Mexican squash soup, a nice balance of chili spice and butternut squash with corn, onions, roasted red and yellow peppers and tomato. I opened a bottle of a good New York State champagne to go with.

The main course was a twelve pound turkey with Fritz's bread stuffing with sage, onion and chopped fresh apples. I made squash, brussels sprouts and a loaf of my honey wheat bread with dried cranberries, chopped dates and walnuts. Fritz's nephew brought a baby spinach salad with mango vinaigrette. I had Burgundy and Chardonnay to accompany dinner. Fritz's teaching colleague finished the meal off with two pies--pumpkin and apple/cranberry/ginger. After dinner we cleared the table and played the word game Perquackey which drew mixed reviews from the group. For one turn I got one X, three Is, one K, a B, an R, a Q (but no U), a J and something else totally useless. Fritz's nephew commented that it would have been a perfect hand if only we had been playing in Basque.

My younger daughter had come with her honey-colored miniature poodle Poopsie, a sweet, very funny little thing without a brain in her head but lots of affection to give. My cat was not being a good hostess, but things were surprisingly calm under the circumstances.

Today after breakfast, Fritz headed back to New Hampshire and I drove my daughter to one of Boston's grand old neighborhoods, South Boston (not to be confused with the upscale, largely gay South End) where she's finishing her weekend with an old friend from high school who has a condo there with her boyfriend.

On the way I told her of the short stories of Southie native J.G. Hayes, a gay author whose first collection "This Thing Called Courage" delighted author, editor and publisher with major sales. Hayes writes not of himself directly but of a wide vartiety of Southie types he grew up with and their struggle to maintain and foster some sort of gay identity in the midst of a conservative, even reactionary, Irish Catholic culture. His second collection "Now Batting for Boston" has just been published.

Southie may lose much of its identity, under stress currently from several fronts. Gentrification is driving housing prices sky high and breaking up long-standing neighborhoods. The Boston Archdiocease is closing and selling churches and schools that had been neighborhood anchors for decades. Huge development of a major convention center, hotels, restaurants, cruise line terminals and the infamous Big Dig are pressing down from the north. Famous for its "Code of Silence" that guarantees the police will have extreme difficulty investigating crimes committed by Southie natives, Southie itself may soon be a shadow of its former raucous, bustling self.

This afternoon I and a packed Symphony Hall audience cheered loud and long for the local premiere of "Neruda Songs," the long-awaited song cycle of love sonnets by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda as set to music by American composer Peter Lieberson to be sung by his wife, the radiant mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson.

Neruda wrote the sonnets in honor of his life-long partner Matilde, and Lieberson's dedication of the score "to my beloved Lorraine" continues the tradition. The singer has been through a couple of hellish years, having been diagnosed with breast cancer during the same week her sister died of the disease. But she's been beating the cancer and today sounded magnificent in every part of her range, and with complete ease of vocal production. The poems are extraordinary, here's the last in the group, Sonnet XCII:

My love, if I die and you don’t---
My love, if you die and I don’t---
Let’s not give grief an even greater domain.
No expanse is greater than where we live.

Dust in the wheat, sand in the deserts,
time, wandering water, the vague wind
swept us on like sailing seeds.
We might not have found each other in time.

This meadow where we find ourselves,
O little infinity! we give it back.
But Love, this love has not ended:
just as it never had a birth, it has
no death: it is like a long river,
only changing lands, and changing lips.

Soloist and dediactee Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson

Lieberson's music is lyrical and sensuous, the harmonies tinged by the sound world of Debussy and the second Viennese School, while always sounding like Lieberson. The vocal line is gorgeous. The rest of the concert featured Strauss's "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks" and a strong performance of Mahler's fourth symphony, but the Lieberson love songs were the big event of the concert, wonderful works that, if there's any justice, should become as popular as Strauss's "Four Last Songs." I wished Fritz had been with me, for us to hold hands and listen to one of the mostmoving expressions of undying love I have ever heard.

After the concert, I came home and quite happily made Turkey soup from the left-overs--from the sublime to the daily grind.

Thanks to blogger Hypoxic for the information that our homophobic former Nazi Youth Pope Benedict XVI wears red shoes by Prada (and sunglasses by Gucci). Obviously, no Vow of Poverty for THIS Pope.

:-)There is a new novel, called "Il diavolo veste Prada" ("The Devil Wears Prada") by Lauren Weisberger ;-), but I don't think that the current Pope has read it ;-)

Have a nice weekend,

Though I know really little about Southie, I can not imaginewhat it must have been like being gay in that environment. I think if you openly confused Southie with the South End a Southie boy would whack you upside your head. (Accurate?)

What you say makes me realize I know very little history about most neighborhoods in boton. I sense much has already been lost.
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