New Wardrobe for the Walls

DSC_0954Our home is the kind where nail holes in the wall are sacred. I normally change a picture—or even a paint color—about once a score. Score, you’ll recall, is the second word in the Gettysburg address.

And now, in the space of one month, I have three new views. This shocks me…and confuses friends for whom a total room makeover occurs with every new season. The kind of interior decorators who develop a facial twitch if everything in their house is the same for six months.

The Courage, dear heart is eye level next to the mirror in the bathroom. Befitting, eh?  I love looking at this while I prepare for the day ahead. My husband uses this phrase to gently tease me. As in, (me–>) “I can’t figure out how to get the gray scuff marks out of the sink.” (him–>) “Courage, dear heart.”

DSC_0164I saw these colorful creatures at The Potter’s House, a local store that sells hand-thrown bowls and plates and mugs. A store perched on the other end of the spectrum from WalMart. My go-to store for gifts. I couldn’t resist the whimsy. Curt calls it, “Till We Have Faces.” I wake up with the birds every morning; they make me sing.

DSC_0206My friend Faith gave me Bind my wandering heart to thee knowing the phrase came from my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. I propped this on top of my piano, testing the location before I pounded a (sacred) nail in the wall. This week I was in the midst of a talkfest in the aisle of a store when Tune my heart leaned into my peripheral vision. And now they both sing to me in my kitchen while I make dinners or type on the computer. I love the pairing.

Beauty and serendipity washed and rinsed me again. ♫♪♫ Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow ♫♪♫.

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Figaro, John and Abigail

marriage-of-figaro-program Mental Multivitamin calls it synthesis / serendipity / synchronicity. It’s that glorious connection between what you just read/saw/heard and—in an unexpected way—what you are currently reading/seeing/hearing.

The practice of reading (deep and wide) is in effect laying down a swath of Velcro loops. And along comes something that enhances, expands, expatiates on what you already know: those are the Velcro hooks.

That aha! moment brings me great joy. My husband wishes he had written down every hunting experience he’s had since he was seven…for the pleasure of reliving them. I wish I had noted each experience of synthesis / serendipity / synchronicity in my reading life; for there have been many and, alas, my mind grows dim.

::today’s synthesis::

For a year I have been plowing through Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present. It is demanding and daunting. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have had the fortitude and background knowledge to pull through. But it is rewarding in the same way that losing thirty pounds is rewarding.

Barzun writes several pages about Beaumarchais, the author of The Marriage of Figaro, artisan, wit, pamphleteer, and secret agent. Have you heard of him? Me, neither. Barzun calls him “the most effective helper of the [American] colonists in their war.” Do you find that an arresting description?

Mozart wrote an opera based on Beaumarchais’ story which challenged the French aristocracy, making Figaro, a valet (or barber), more noble than his master.

:: Pause, Barzun. ::

When I’ve been home alone this week, I have listened to Joseph J. Ellis’ history, First Family: Abigail and John Adams. After a five year separation, Abigail and her daughter Nabby joined John and John Quincy in Paris. The Adams family “attended an early performance of The Marriage of Figaro.”  Hello! I just read about significance of Figaro!! I reveled in the realization that for a time John and Abigail Adams and Mozart were both living and breathing in relative proximity.

::Pause, Abigail and John::

Three weeks ago I visited my friend Lisa in North Carolina. She had been culling books from her shelves and gave me a quaint 1913 book called Opera Synopses. In it I found more information on The Marriage of Figaro ; I learned the story is a direct continuation of Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville (created by Beaumarchais).

::return to Barzun::

Fascinating! I went back to Barzun’s tome and there it all was: “the man who wrote The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro before the librettists of Rossini and Mozart gave the two plays another meaning for the musical state.”

I had previously read that sentence, but because I didn’t have any Velcro loops of interest or connection, that fact just bounced off my brain. The synthesis, the recognition, made those words adhere.

So what? Although I am familiar with the overture and several arias, I have never seen the opera. I started to watch it on YouTube this morning, while I wrapped Christmas presents, but quickly realized that three hours of opera wasn’t on the agenda today. And if I’m going to be thorough (cough, cough) I should start by watching The Barber of Seville first.

So little time…