WE ARE ENJOYING one of those lovely Indian summer days that blot out the memory of the summer heat. My daughter Christina is recuperating from surgery on her toes. She (and consequently all of us) had a rough night on Friday, but things have improved, and today she is glued to the TV set, which is mostly off limits here at home.
It is amazing to witness how TV dulls the senses: Christina feels hardly any pain at all while watching her favorite programs. Jeff and I are spending a good part of the day outdoors, getting the garden ready for winter and painting window frames. Our house is not very large, but at times like this it seems to consist mostly of windows and trim, all of it in need of attention.
It has been only three weeks since I returned from Brazil, and I am still getting organized as far as recorder lessons go. Most of last year's students are continuing; some new ones are beginning. I decide to run an old ad in a local newspaper.
Today I have students in the afternoon and evening. That leaves me the morning for practicing and studying. I have decided to put to use the skills acquired while getting a doctorate in comparative literature. Since my greatest interest lies in music, I am trying to combine musicology and literary studies. I am doing some research on the baroque opera in Hamburg; more specifically, I am studying libretti for their didactic content, since it is believed that the ruling classes used the opera to educate -- or perhaps enlighten? -- their subjects.
I have already sifted through a tidy pile of secondary sources. This summer, I finally got a number of libretti from the Library of Congress collecton. The one I have read so far offer a fascinating mixture of historical facts and literary invention for the sake of romantic intrigue.
I have my own recorder lesson today. My teacher is a specialist in the French baroque style, which is quite different from the more lyrical Italian that most people learn when they become more involved with recorder. The French enjoyed subtlety, precision and intracacy. Hoteterre, one of the musical masters of the 18th century, fills pages with tables of fingerings for trills, ornaments and different ways of articulation for recorder and flute.
I tak metro downtown, then stop at the Library of Congress on the way back to check on a source.
More students in the afternoon and evening. A lot of my students are children, and one of the things that give me pleasure is to follow the growth of their musicianship and share their enjoyment of music.
I spend a good part of the day reading about Cleopatra's woes and Antony's downfall. The libretto spices up the story with two romantic intriques as sub plots: Cleopatra's son and daughter fall in love with an Armenian princess and a Mauitanian soldier, respectively.
Welcom break: a friend who is a singer comes for lunch and a rehearsal. We are putting together a selection of medieval cantigas to be performed at a church next month.
In the evening, Jeff and I go to the Silver Spring Unitarian Church for a meeting of the social action committee. We are trying to establish an intergenerational project: parents and children joining in some kind of community service. We have contacted several volunteer agencies, but nothing definite has been worked out yet.
The first week of the month I do a lot of grocery shopping. This simplifies things for the following weeks, when I intend to zip in and out of those supermarket aisles in record time. Jeff always helps me with the shopping, which makes it faster perhaps and more enjoyable.
The afternoon is dedicated to music for recorder and Celtic harp. I have just become acquainted with this instrument and am pleased to see how well it blends with recorder. The harpist and I are planning on a few performances together. He is also a composer, and some of his melodies are tuneful and quite pleasing.
I finish hurriedly to get to the Bethesda School of the Ballet on time. I taught in an arts workshop there the past two summers, and some of the students are continuing with recorder lessons.
Tonight, I phone my mother in Brazil. Since my father died last January, I have been talking to her regularly every two weeks. She is managing very well by herself with help of her friends, but I regret being so far away, and I still, after 15 years of living in this country, feel a little twinge of homesickness for Brazil every time I hang up.
I do not want to lose touch with the culture I grew up in. Christina and Jeff are both fluent in Portuguese, and even though sometimes Christina can hardly wait to leave the dinner table so that she can say something important in English to her father, she only speaks Portuguese with me. Well, almost . . .
I belong to a women's book discussion group which meets once a month. It is very satisfying to be able to discuss a book you have just read with a number of people who have done the same, have a lot of opinions and are quite articulate and outspoken about them. We read Proust over the summer, and everyone felt so stimulated that we have decided to tackle another volume for next month's session.
In the afternoon, I do a lot of cooking and freezing. As I spice up my six meat loaves with sesame seeds, soy powder and wheat germ, I remembe overhearing Christina telling a friend the other day that her mother was a "natural foods freak." Actually, I am pretty sure she does not mind too much, especially since she loves meat loaf.
Christina is feeling much better. She no longer hobbles along on crutches, but they have served their purpose well as a status symbol at school. She spends a good part of the day working on her science project. Jeff is showing his mastery over the recalcitrant window frames. I follow Cleopatra to the bitter end, bake a cake and set up a rehearsal with a singer and a harpsichordist with whom I am working on some baroque cantatas.
Later I take the cake together with dinner to the family of a friend who is spending much of every day at the hospital with one of her sons. It is a trying time for all of them, and I know her husband will enjoy eating a meal that he did not have to prepare.
In the evening, we celebrate the fall weather by making a fire in the fireplace. Christina and a friend roast marshmallows. It makes for a lovely picture, provided you have not read the list of ingredients on the bag of marshmallows. Jeff and I relax and look forward to a recital by an excellent Brazilian guitarist tomorrow. We plan to go early and sit up close.