Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I was scrolling through some Daedalus Books & Music pages to order some books to give as gifts when I got a page telling me that based on my previous orders, I might like a 170 CD boxed set of the complete music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (Fritz, don't panic—this isn't even being considered)

The label is Brilliant Classics which has a history of putting out multiple (to say the least) CD sets with encyclopedic retrospectives of a particular composer's output (the Bach collection runs to 155 CDs--they thought I might like that also, unaware that I am not a big Bach fan). What's truly significant is that the technical quality of the Brilliant line is pretty good and the prices hard to believe--the Mozart set is being offered for $119, which comes out to seventy cents per CD!


I took a break from packing and cleaning today to build a new sawbuck for Fritz. All the trees we cut down to make the road up to the new house will have seasoned for use as firewood this coming winter. Fortunately the biggest pile is located right near his house and the wood can be cut with the lighter weight electric chain saw that's my favorite. The new house will have a handsome Vermont Castings wood stove to supplement the radiant heat in the poured concrete slab floor.

We both love wood stove heat--there's a quality to it that's intimate and personal. The scent and quality of it are unique and very New England. Since there are 36 or so acres to our combined properties, there are always plenty of trees that need to be taken down because they're dying, dead, in the wrong place or crowding more desirable trees. So, the supply is virtually endless, free, and the effort required for taking them down, cutting, splitting and transporting is perfect exercise.

Otherwise, not much is new. We always knew that once I stopped working at MIT we would be able to travel during more advantageous times of the year for air fare, cost of accommodations, etc. etc. Right now we're looking at next spring and thinking about how much we enjoyed the riverboat cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam two summers ago. We're thinking seriously now about the China and the Yangtze River cruise. There are all sorts of side trips off the river and the boat looks wonderful in the pictures.

I took my daughters back to Korea, where they had been born, in the summer of 1985 (the last summer when they could both still fly for half fare). After our time in Seoul, we flew to Hong Kong and began a 12 day tour through China. It was a time of great change. Consumer advertising billboards were very new and all over the cities, while privately owned businesses had been allowed for the first time about six months before our tour began.

The Chinese have always been very savvy business people and the atmosphere in the private shops was radically different than in the big state-run stores. You,d go into one of the latter and practically have to drag a sales person over to a display case if you wanted to buy something. But in the private shops you were greeted immediately and personally, offered tea, asked what you would like to see, invited to sit and have merchandise brought to you. A movement started that has exploded into a whole new national culture. I know that if we do go over--and I think it's virtually certain we will--I'll probably have difficulty recognizing the country. I remember thousands and thousands of bicycles, farmers in Qualin bringing their wagons drawn by oxen into town, people going down to the river to wash their dishes. In Xian, women in the streets sold quilted vests they had made and decorated with fantastic embroidered and partially three dimensional animals, birds and insects. After the ritual, and absolutely required, haggling, they cost the equivalent of thirty five cents in American money (I bought many to bring back as gifts).

Now China rivals the US for traffic jams in the big cities and from the pictures I see on TV, Shanghai is transformed into a modern architecture showplace. I think China's getting to be THE place to be and I can't wait for us to see it again for ourselves.

I love it how you communicate with Fritz via blog postings...maybe you guys should stop and introduce yourselves to each other sometime.
And, I'm afraid I'd have killed you had you bought the Mozart set....sounds huge and extravagent (not that that's entirely bad, mind you). The sawing of wood and stoves talk has made me all warm and squishy inside...it all sounds deliciously wonderful! (Except for the work to get it all cut....yuck.)
Old joke, but hey - it's almost appropriate: Have you heard about the new German-Chinese restaurant? An hour later you're hungry for power!

You've been a great audience - thank you and good night....
The Daedalus warehouse is in Columbia, MD. They have a store out front. I used to live about four miles from there, and it was on my way home from work. It's a dangerous place to enter, and I would never leave without an armload. I still drive by there occasionally, but usually when they're not open.

They've been selling that Mozart set forever. I seem to recall that it was a bargain. You should go for it!
you are a bold man, to travel so.
I get that book catlog too; I miss A Common Reader. Did you get that one once a upon a time?
spo--yes, I did get A Common Reader and ordered from them with some regularity. What a quirky, and interesting catalog! Lots of great, way off-the-beaten-path stuff.

I've always had the travel bug, and Fritz loves to travel also so our future looks to be filled with adventures.
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