...the Journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

Today's magnet comes from the refrigerator of my friends Ellen and Shelly.

Today in the Netherlands, the first legal same-sex marriages in the world were performed. So this seems an appropriate magnet to post.

Household Hints


A Medieval Home Companion:
Housekeeping in the 14th Century

To turn a boar into a proper wild boar

Take a boar that is about two years old and in the month of May or June have him castrated. In boar-hunting season, have him hunted, killed, and dismembered like a wild boar. Or do this: Take an ordinary hog that has been seared, cook it in half water half wine and serve it on a platter with this broth, together with turnips and chestnuts.

Here are some of my theatre reviews, if you're interested.

Updated 3/10/01


In a Sunburned Country
by Bill Bryson


just Branford Marsalis

That's it for today!



2 April 2001

I don’t want to make anybody feel bad or anything, but I have to inform you that in the race for terrific kids, we have the best. Sorry. I know your little Johnny is a wonderful but I have to point with pride at our #4 child.

For Christmas, Tom gave us tickets to see Branford Marsalis performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Davies Hall in San Francisco. The performance was tonight.

Our usual San Francisco Symphony tickets are mid-week and so we are always rushing, always having very little time to do much more than drive through McDonalds to grab a hamburger to eat on the road or, if we’re lucky, stop at the coffee shop in the parking garage before he pre-concert talk.

But this was Sunday, so we left early and got to the city in time for a nice, leisurely dinner at Max’s Opera Cafe. We had fantastic pesto-stuffed, cheese-topped mushrooms as an hors d’oeuvre and then we each had a salad (he a Cobb salad, with sliced turkey, mushrooms, and avocado; I a pear/blue cheese salad with pecans, dried cranberries, and raspberry vinaigrette). We lingered over dinner and people watched. We talked about what we want to do in Boston next weekend, and about making plane reservations for our upcoming trip to Cincinnati. On hearing "Cincinnati," the folks at the next table confided that they were from Cincinnati and would be traveling there next week. We wished them a good trip as we left the restaurant.

Walt ran his leftover salad to the car while I went to our seats in Davies hall.

Tom does not go second class. Our seats were 4th row orchestra. I’ve never sat so close. They were absolutely fantastic.

Until I opened the program, I really knew nothing about the night’s performance. All I knew was that it was Branford Marsalis and didn’t he play trumpet or something? (bad Bev--it’s saxophone! As the mother of a saxophone player, I should have known that!)

I was expecting some sort of jazz program and didn’t know that the chamber orchestra was part of the deal or that everything on the program would be just wonderful.

The first half of the program began with Fauré’s Pavane, followed by Ibert’s Concertino da camera for Alto Saxophone. It was just amazing to watch Marsalis’ fingers rapidly open the valves on the sax. I wished Jeri had been there to watch and listen.

It closed with Milhaud’s Creation of the World. This is a piece I’d heard of (unlike the previous two), but had never heard. It has its roots in New Orleans jazz and is an amazing piece of work. I remember Gilbert once hosted a radio program where he talked about Bela Bartok and said that Bartok was one of few composers who used jazz in his compositions. Milhaud was the other composer he cited, so it was fun to actually hear this piece after all this time.

During intermission, while Walt wandered the halls of Davies, I amused myself by reading from Bill Bryson's Australia book, which I'd brought with me ("Always have a book to read," is my motto!) I finally learned how to play cricket. I figure since Peggy is such a huge fan of cricket, this will greatly enhance our conversations in the future. As Bryson describes it:

Imagine a form of baseball in which the pitcher, after each delivery, collects the ball from the catcher and walks slowly with it out to center field; and that there, after a minute's pause to collect himself, he turns and runs full tilt toward the pitcher's mound before hurling the ball at the ankles of a man who stands before him wearing a riding hat, heavy gloves of the sort used to handle radioactive isotopes, and a mattress strapped to each lag. Imagine moreover that if this batsman fails to hit the ball in a way that heartens him sufficiently to try to waddle forty feet with mattresses strapped to his legs, he is under no formal compunction to run; he may stand there all day, and, as a rule, does. If by some miracle he is coaxed into making a misstroke that leads to his being put out, all the fielders throw up their arms in triumph and have a hug. Then tea is called and everyone retires happily to a distant pavilion to fortify for the next siege. Now imagine all this is going on for so long that by the time the match concludes autumn as crept in and all your library books are overdue. There you have cricket.

The second half of the concert began with Dubois’ Concerto for Alto Saxophone and brought lots of sympathetic snickers from the audience as Marsalis inadvertently dropped his music off the stand when trying to turn a page. The violinist picked it up for him, but he never did get it put in the right place and by the end of the third movement, he just kind of gave up and apologized, saying "I never did know that one well enough anyway." He then threw the music on the stage floor, stepped on it and said he never wanted to see it again. It was done good humoredly, but he must have been mortified to be facing a nearly sold-out crowd and to not be letter-perfect. I thought it charming, actually, to see how gracefully he handled the awkward situation.

Marsalis’ last numbers were two pieces from Debussy’s Children’s Corner and then the chamber orchestra finished off with the Pulcinella Suite by Stravinski, which was so melodic that I would have been hard pressed to guess Stravinski as the composer.

The whole evening was absolutely delightful and since it was a Sunday, the performance had started early, so finished an hour earlier than we are accustomed to, and we were home before 11 p.m. to feed the dog, who was certain we’d gone off to let her starve. (Not likely; she could live for weeks on the fat stores she has now.)

Thanks, Tom. It was a fanTAStic gift!

One Year Ago:
AQ&D Won't Be the Same

Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo

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Created 4/2/01 by Bev Sykes