Thursday, November 29, 2012


Langley Tiberius Zyne was old.

(A tug at my elbow and a small voice, “Who?” “Zyne,” I replied, “ Zee-why-en-ee, sounds like ‘mine’.”)

 The hands of long years had clutched him firmly, painting his tangled hair with frost, as well as his stubbled cheeks, and particularly his long, unkempt moustache. They bent his back and touched his joints with aches on these cold days near the end of the year. As a young boy, most had called him Lang. Most of them were now dead and gone, remaining only as hollow whispers in his dreams.

(“Did he dream a lot?” “Yes.” “Were they nice dreams?” “Not always.”)

 He lived in a run-down cabin in the woods, near a pond fed by a stream. The water was stiff now, congealed as in a photograph. He posted his small parcel with signs: “No Hunting!” but these were pocked with rifle shots left by poachers in their contempt.

(“Why did they shoot his signs?” “Oh, some men do very mean and thoughtless things, particularly if they have guns in their hands.” “Why?” “Look, do you want a story or not?” “Yes.” “Then listen, I’m telling you one.” Silence for now.)

 His hobby was carving. He had made a living as a carpenter, a very good one, too. But times were bad, and no one needed an old carpenter, so he retreated to his cabin. He cleared the woods of fallen trees in the spring and summer. He had a shed where he dried his wood, some for the fireplace, the nicer pieces for whittling. He could carve just about any thing: birds, animals, small furniture with drawers and doors that really worked. He liked to carve miniatures, particularly with wheels that went ‘round and ‘round.

(“Could he carve a train? I like trains.” “Yes, he carved trains, too.”)

 He stayed by himself mostly, visiting the village only now and then to buy flour, coffee, and sugar. He would also buy a newspaper, which he read carefully at home, particularly page two, with the obituaries to see whether or not he had died.

(“Had he died?” “Not in the ones he read.”)

 In early December he read that the state had cut the funds for the orphanage. Lang puzzled over that. Earlier in the year the new state capital had been completed, at an over-run cost. Why hadn’t they been more careful in how they spent their money? The article had no clue.

 That night, he could not sleep. He remembered his own childhood. Things were better then, he thought. His father worked hard at the mill, his mother tended the home and kept everyone safe, and warm, and fed. Mind you, though, there was never much money in the house, just enough for essentials, such as taxes, but it never was a concern.

(“Did they have a car? What kind was it?” “No, this happened a long time ago and very few families had cars.” “But there were trains?” “Yes, there were trains.”)

 Then he had an idea. As soon as he thought of it, he went right to sleep and awoke the next morning eager to start on his project. He got out his tools, went to the shed and picked out the very nicest pieces of wood. He worked all day, and the next, and the one after that. In fact he worked through the winter solstice because he still was not done.

(“What’s the winter stole sis?” “Solstice, the winter solstice is the beginning of the winter season, and has the shortest day and longest night of the year. It’s one of my favorite times.”)

 At last he was satisfied. Before him was a large pile of his best carvings. They were beautiful! He got a large burlap sack and put everything in it. He got the sled out of the shed, the one he used to haul firewood into the cabin, and put the bag on it.

As night fell, swift and silently, he started to pull his load through the woods toward the town. By the time he arrived at his destination, the town was as quiet as a lamb’s breath. All had gone to sleep. All the better, he thought.

(“Why? What was he going to do?” “You’ll find out in just a minute.” There was a young frown of concern.)

 The orphanage was at the far end of the village. No one saw Lang with his laden sled. When he reached the old building there was only a small light on inside, so the mice could see their way around without bumping into things and making noise. Lang lifted the sack and put it by the front door. On the sack he attached a note, “For the children.” He knocked loudly on the door and then ran with his sled into the shadows. Someone opened the door and gasped in surprise! It was Mrs. Mildew, the mistress of the establishment. She called inside for help and her assistant, fat as a beagle, bustled to help her take in the sack. Lang smiled and went home.

(“Did they know who gave the kids their toys?” “Not a soul. It was a mystery. The rumor spread through the village was that the banker had purchased the toys, but when confronted he admitted he knew nothing about it.”)

 To this day no one but you and I know who was so kind that night.

(“What should we do about it? Tell everyone?” “No, I have a better idea.”)

I have prepared hot chocolate just the way you like it. It’s quite hot, so be careful. What we shall do is propose a toast.

(“We’re going to throw toast at something?” “No, a toast is a tribute completed with a favorite beverage.”)

And here it is, my dear. Hold up your cup, so. When I am finished with the words, we drink:

We’ll drink a cup of kindness, yet

For old Lang Zine!

And they drank their chocolate.




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November Moon caught in our tree...


Click on image to enlarge... The full Moon rose at sunset and would have made a safe journey across our sky. Its plans were upset by the covetous branches of one of our trees. It caught the Moon, studied it for a moment or two. Satisfied, it released its grip and sent the Moon westward to meet the horizon at dawn.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Opera at Celebration Cinema

From Gisella Moffitt:
Hi, December is upon us which means we will be gifted not with just one opera from the MET, but THREE on consecutive Saturdays! 

On Saturday, Dec. 1 at 12:55 p.m. we will see Mozart's last opera "La Clemenza di Tito" (running time approximately 195 minutes with one intermission).  It is a highly dramatic story full of intrigue and jealousy, but also of forgiveness and mercy.  It stars Guiseppe Filianoti (Tito), Elina Garanca in a trouser role (Sesto), Kate Lindsey (Annio), Barbara Frittoli (Vitelia) and Lucy Crow (Servilia) and is conducted by Harry Bicket.  The reviews have been quite good. 

Dec. 8 we will see "Un Ballo in Maschera" by Verdi and on Dec. 15 we will be able to see again THE grand opera "Aida" with a different, but equally spectacular cast than last year.  We are truly blessed to be able to see such performances right here in Mt. Pleasant!  Gisela

P.S.  If you are writing checks to your favorite charities before the end of the year, don't forget to send some money to the MET.  You can dedicate it to the HD transmissions.  Thanks.=

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First accumulation

Click on image to enlarge. A corner of our back yard. The birds like the gingerbread man.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Global temperatures, 1880 to the present


About 264,000 results

 We are not making this up, folks. These are worldwide sources. Hundreds of charts; global ocean temperatures; land temperatures; geographical maps; photos. Copy the link given above to see it all.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Met Opera Saturday

From Gisela Moffit:
Hi, on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 12:55 P.M.  we will have the pleasure of seeing a NEW opera, The Tempest, by Thomas Ades.  Written and performed in 2004 at Covent Garden, there have been only 4 productions since.  Tom and I were fortunate to see one in Santa Fe so we are eagerly looking forward to the MET's premiere production.  Thomas Ades himself will be conducting with Simon Keenlyside as Prospero and Isabel Leonard as Miranda.  

 Director Robert Lepage recreated the interior of 18th century La Scala which imagines Prospero as a kind of impresario who manipulates people like a director of an opera or play.  The role of the spirit Ariel is the most demanding.  Anthony Thomasini says in his review that the role is "written for a coloratura soprano singing in a stratospheric  range, here the physically and vocally agile Audrey Luna. This punishing part should probably never have been written. With her radiant voice flitting about in super-high fidgety bursts, Ms. Luna can hardly make a single word clear.  It doesn't matter.  Mr. Ades's Ariel is a dazzling creation, and Ms. Luna conquers the role." 

One more exciting tidbit comes from Tim Caldwell (retired CMU music professor) who went to a NY nightclub where the cast of the Tempest was relaxing.  Peter Gelb introduced cast members, among them Laure Meloy, a CMU grad!  Tim says she is running with a heady company these days.  Way to go, Laure!   


See you Saturday.  Gisela



Monday, November 5, 2012

An image of the election...

Click on image to enlarge

Let America be safe and all Americans truly be free.

Now is the hour of our discontent...

Click image to enlarge...

Gone are the seven shades of green, the maroon and gold. Twisted limbs and twigs reach up, bewildered, to a grey sky, waiting for the snow and sleep.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reception for Artists for 2013 Art Reach Calendar

Click images to enlarge...

This afternoon, the children whose art was selected by each of 19 participating elementary schools in central Michigan displayed their original art work at Art Reach on Broadway. The artists, their families and friends enjoyed a reception that featured cookies, cheese and crackers, relish tray, and punch. Each student and school received a calendar, and 50 additional calendars were sold.