An Excellent Music Blog

Once before I reblogged a post from Manuscript Notes, but that was with the old editor. I clicked on the reblog button on this site, and absolutely nothing happened. Next, despite following several leads from the question mark at the bottom right of my screen, I have no clue how to reblog with the new editor. Sorry. Rant is over. Let’s concentrate on the positive.

Following are two paragraphs from the home page of Manuscript Notes:

“I have given myself the challenge of posting from time to time, in an aim to introduce classical music to people who either profess themselves to be tone deaf or simply insist that they will never like it.

“It is positively not a classical-music-for-dummies blog! The hope is to inform, and simply share my love of these pieces, in the same way any of us likes to recommend a good book, play or film.

The subject of today’s blog is Cesar Franck’s violin sonata. The link:

I read through the notes and clicked on the link to one movement of this marvelous piece. What a treat! The world was suspended as the music danced and wove its way through my head. Please try it!

Second Family Gathering

We had our second family gathering of this series. The people were relatives of two of our nieces, Kathie and Julie – their parents, all their aunts and uncles, another sister, and several offspring. We met this time in the their ancestral home. My family married into theirs, so don’t have delusions of grandeur about my roots. The house was built in the late 1700’s, and was acquired by their family in the 1930’s. Several of us took the tour, starting on the ground floor. A number of pieces of furniture were carved by a great great uncle. Most of them have hidden compartments Tour guide Myra told us the one in this dining room photo has seven secret places.

We looked at things in the living room, while grandson Nathaniel checked out the chandelier.

On the second floor of the house, the old phonograph caught Nathaniel’s attention in the guest room. Myra played the record on the turntable and handed the young generation shellac records to inspect. I was impressed when I noticed how carefully and reverently they handled the old 1/4-inch thick disks. Myra said Thomas Edison had been in the area for some reason and came to the house. He was given the tour, seeing many of the things we were looking at.

After Myra pointed out some of the features in the master bedroom, she handed Julie a printed copy of the pirate story they usually include on the tour. Myra went in the next room. When Julie read aloud about the death of one pirate by the hand of another, several of the books in the bookcase began to slide in and out. We laughed, knowing Myra was behind the wall.

On the third floor of the house, I was impressed with two paintings in my late sister-in-law’s bedroom. She wanted to dress up the area of the built-in drawers and painted two panels for it. I never knew she dabbled in painting.

Nathaniel was told not to bring food, but his offer of grilling was accepted. Donning his brand new apron, he cooked burgers and dogs in the carport. As several of us talked to him, he jumped into action, twisting the controls off. He saw a surge of flames that shut off. His hunch was correct; the tank was out of gas. There were three uncooked hamburgers, which he finished cooking in the kitchen.

People in town know the ancestral home as the shoe house. When my late sister-in-law was little, her grandfather and great uncle built a shoe out of concrete. Note the details – laces through the holes, seams of the shoe, and a curved sole. Nathaniel and cousin Kate adorned the top.

The teens stood on the bench at the top of the shoe.

Flashback to 2004 where David is on the shoe. In 1973 nieces Julie and Kathie are with daughter Lise and Julie’s and Kathie’s grandmother Mama Sue

Two, who usually tangle feet under our table, came out in the open during the afternoon. The friendly warfare took place in the sitting room, the most-used room in the new addition.

Rick agreed to do a magic show for us, using John, Julie, and Nathaniel as helpers for various illusions. Most impressive was a rope trick that his niece Susan saw and recommended. Rick learned it this past year and amazed us by cutting a piece of rope into pieces and ending with a whole rope. He did several several variations of this. At one point, the rope had multiple knots in it, which he cut off and tossed to the floor. Even that segment ended with a whole rope.

Flashback to 2004 when magician Rick was doing a card trick. David was wearing a hat and glasses having to do with Harry Potter.


If you’ve read this far, I’ll share with you the serious side of our gathering. A young man of the middle generation, not pictured here, is dying of an aggressive form of cancer. Julie organized us twice to come together to surround him with our love. He knows he has our constant prayers. His Christian witness is amazing, because he knows the Lord has saved him and will be with him as he passes from this life to his heavenly home. God bless you, JTR.

Vacation Finale

We didn’t intend for daughter Kate’s last day to be crammed with activities, but we had to take advantage of David’s day off. One of our favorite places to go is the Vanderbilt estate, Biltmore. Kate had never been there, and the special exhibit of the season featured trains, the garden railway size. [Note: the estate is now requiring visitors to have reservations.] After reading our shirts, a visitor offered to take our photo near the entrance.

We have always been fascinated with the swimming pool, amazed that George Vanderbilt included one in his house that was finished in 1895. The pool had underwater lighting, as well!! One of the docents remarked that they filled the pool for only a few days at a time, since it would begin to get a bit rank with no chemicals added. How cold the water must have been, since it was filled with mountain water! Correction: John said there was a steam hose that warmed the water, and that was why it became unfit for swimming in a matter of days.

Biltmore swimming pool

My favorite shot in the walled garden was of Kate and David. Former neighbor Amy and I saw the garden filled with tulips one year. I was happy to see the space filled with summery plants this time.

Kate and David in the Biltmore walled garden

I saved eight photos taken in the conservatory. All featured David and Kate with the trains amid exotic plants. I liked one with a model of the village church, where a train was running between the church and the backs of David and Kate.

A second favorite shows a train on a high trestle, going from one glass house to another. I didn’t look at how it was done, but David said windows had been taken out to give the trains access at that level.

The entrance to the outdoor garden railway had a cute engine at the entrance. David climbed in it at Kate’s request.

David’s face in the engine

My favorite photo there was of Kate and David with two trains running behind them.

Outdoor trains with Kate and David

Despite some lightning in the distance and rain on the windshield, we drove to Hot Springs for lunch at the Iron Horse. The weather began to clear as we drove on a graveled road to Tennessee, where there was a stream to swim in. Unfortunately, heavy rain had swollen and muddied the stream, making it too dangerous to swim in.

Muddy mountain stream

Across the road was a small waterfall where David waded and Kate climbed on the rocks.

Kate on the rocks

Both climbed up to a pool above the falls and posed for me.

Our scenic drive home across three mountain ridges was lovely. We had been gone for 12 fun-packed hours, leaving enough time in the day for ice cream before going to bed.

The next morning, while the mist was still hanging in our mountains, Kate hugged her dad goodbye. She expected her drive to New Jersey to take 14 hours.

Goodbye to Dad

Peaches on the Porch

Daughter Kate and I went to an antique mall in Asheville with Nathaniel while David was working. Nathaniel knew the place, having spent a couple of hours there when I had an appointment nearby. We enjoyed poking about, and I knew the bench to sit on when my back protested. They made two purchases, a jacket and a London Fog raincoat. I wish I had taken Nate’s picture when he modeled the raincoat at home. On him it looked elegant. He wore the jacket when he served us the peach cobbler he had baked.

Nathaniel serving his peach cobbler

David and Kate responded when we called out that it was time for the mirror ritual. Nathaniel put the mirror back to its normal position before we went to church.

We ate lunch in Asheville, after which John drove Nate to Charlotte. They took our wash with them, and Nate texted his three roommates to ask them to be through with the machine by 4:30. Our washing machine died, and the new one wouldn’t be delivered for a week. John met the roommates for the first time, as well as the mother of one of them. The mother had cooked for the four boys, freezing about ten meals ahead. Normally the fellows shop for food, share the cost, and cook dinner together. John said it appears that Nathaniel does a great deal of the cooking, since he works from 1 to 6 most days. John came home with one load of dry clothes and two others that went in our dryer.

David and Kate planned to hike to the top of Purchase Knob, a mountain we see from our house, but the weather looked threatening. I took a nap as they sat on the front porch and saw two lightning strikes in front of them. Both were less than two miles away. They obviously made the right decision to stay home. I wondered how loud Kate may have screamed. A few days before, I was in the kitchen while others were in the dining room. They saw the flash of lightning and were not surprised at the thunder. I told Kate I didn’t know which startled me most, the boom of thunder or her scream. It’s an instinctive thing she cannot control, this being a warning to those who scream at the sight of a spider not to criticize her. The same goes for those who can’t deal with mice.

We’re back to six in the house, feeling a large empty space where Nathaniel had been for the long weekend.

Low Key Day after the Fourth

After grandson David went to work, grandson Nathaniel helped Grandpa work on the waterfall in the garden. We didn’t run it last year because it leaked, and they thought they could find the trouble by digging up the hoses. They couldn’t find the leak, but I took a photo of Nate with our glads. A few hours later, heavy rain knocked down five stalks.

On our way out for a drive, we checked on Jonathan Creek. John and I saw it in the morning when it was clear and a bit low. After heavy rain, it was muddy and about six inches higher.

Nathaniel pulled a money tree plant for me near the bridge. I see those plants there every year and wanted a few seeds for our garden.

We went on the Blue Ridge Parkway where the 8s, Kate and Nate, took photos of the mountains. Circling around, we drove through touristy Cherokee, and stopped at Soco Falls. The younger set quickly hiked down the mountain, where they took some lovely shots of the falls. Nathaniel said he wanted new pictures for his computer desktop. Kate got some to take home, too. I was content to look at theirs, knowing I had many similar ones at home.

Nathaniel at Bunches Bald Overlook

Gearing up for the 4th of July

Daughter Kate posed with her son Nathaniel as we picked him up from his dorm. He wore all his name tags to show us, but normally he wears only one at a time.

We went through the mirror ritual where Nathaniel hangs the mirror on a higher hook.

There was a happy reunion when David came home from work.

I wanted a photo of our first meal with all seven of us together. Yes, there is often a clown in every group. Friend Rose laughed when she saw what John $pencer had done.

We began our holiday much earlier than expected when a smoke alarm pierced the silence shortly after 4 am. I got the full story hours later. The alarm in Rose’s and $’s room began to chirp, and they couldn’t sleep. To keep from disturbing the whole household, Rose ran out to her car where she knew there was a 9-volt battery. I didn’t know that when alarms are hard-wired into the electrical system, ALL the units shriek when a battery is changed. All of ours worked perfectly and loudly. I woke, grabbed my phone and began frantically stabbing at it to stop the noise. It did stop, but not because I turned anything off. The installation was complete. Everyone was standing up except David and me. We listened from our beds and lay back down when the hubbub subsided.

Kate watched Nathaniel tie a special knot, using his phone for directions. He can tie several knots from memory, but the Eldredge Knot is complicated. He used a special tie, one with the small end different from the wide end.

A close-up shows the stars in the blue field over the stripes.

We all laughed when I pulled up a video from the previous evening. Nathaniel talked about ties as he began putting one on. I didn’t catch it all, but I began recording as he talked. You can probably see when he noticed the camera. While words were coming out of his mouth, he was asking himself if the camera was on. To find out, he stopped and posed. I don’t know of anyone who is pleased with a recording of himself, but he knew I wanted to use it and gave his permission for it to be published. Thank you, Nate.

The family knew I wanted a photo of them in their holiday clothes. We took it early, because David wouldn’t be home from work until after dark.

Thanks to blogger Ron Walker, I was able to put photos mostly where I wanted them. The spacing isn’t right around two of them, but this is better than it was.

Munchkin in the Supermarket

You see all kinds of unusual things in our supermarket. This woman coughed violently and suddenly leaned against the Crunch ‘n Munch display. I had to ask why, and the answer was, “It’s to relax my lungs so that I won’t cough.”

I didn’t think there was anything to suggest relaxation in her arching pose, but she talked easily and gave me permission to take her photograph. I’d like to nominate her to be the poster child for the Lung-Lean Organization of North Carolina.  Would you be inclined to vote for her?