Yesterday on Facebook, I posted pictures of my Valentine’s Day dinner for the Merry Widows: Margaret Lloyd, Gloria Faltstrom, and Betsy McCreary. Missing from our “group” was Nyle Hallman, who could not make it this time. If you are not on Facebook, you can see all my pictures by clicking here.
The menu included: baked brie en croute, golden apple slices with cookie dough dip, hummus with pretzel crisp, seedless red grapes, fresh pea soup with homemade croutons, caprese salad with li hing-infused Kamuela tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, sweet corn and zucchini pie, and for dessert, a chocolate brownie with Haagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream. Yes, everything was made from scratch! (Two of our members are vegetarians).
In case you don’t remember, we “discovered each other” in January at the American Guild of Organists Dean’s Reception and what brought us together was that we had all been widowed. Actually, all of us have known each other for years and years — as all of us (except for Betsy) are organists — and Betsy was married to an organist. As you can guess, we have a special kinship and have decided to meet once a month to jazz up our social lives. All of us are in the process of going through the many treasured mementos of our husbands and all of us are wading through tons of “stuff”!
Betsy brought a poem written by Daniel Gawthrop which she found among her husband John’s things, and it sent us into gales of laughter. Even though it is more appropriate to the Christmas season, here it is for everyone to enjoy:
The Night Before Christmas (Ode to Virgil Fox)
Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the Guild,
Not an organ was playing, the pipes were all stilled.
My music was placed on the console with care
In hopes that the morning would still find it there.
I closed the swell pedals and giving a nod,
I turned off the mixtures and reeds en chamade,
And laying a finger aside of my nose
I switched off the blower and tiredly rose.
When what to wondering eyes should appear
But a miniscule console and eight ranks of reindeer!
And a little old player in bight sequined socks
I knew in a moment it must be St. Fox!
His scales how they twinkled, his mordents how merry
His pedal technique was as light as a fairy
He played just a big of a great fugue by Bach,
But stopped when he happened to glance at the clock.
The hour is late and quite soon I must go,
But first there is something I’d like you to know…
He paused for a second and brushed off some snow
which fell from his shoulder to carpet below.
You see, since I left here I’ve learned quite a bit
I’m still playing concerts, but I must admit
With Bach in the audience I’ve mellowed a tad,
I’m careful with tempos and things that I add.
He’s gracious and kindly and never critiques—
He’s humble and thoughtful whenever he speaks.
He’s quite open-minded, my point is just this:
In matter of tolerance the world is remiss.
One small example will have to suffice,
Listen quite closely and take my advice:
There currently rages a feud over trackers,
Some folks quite like them and some think they’re crackers.
This battle ‘twixt backers and electropneumatic
Will never be settled by votes democratic.
St. Fox stopped a moment to straighten his tie,
then spoke with a powerful gleam in his eye.
I wish I could give you a sample my dears,
of what Bach’s been writing the last hundred years
The interesting thing’s that it cannot be played
on present day organs at all, I’m afraid.
Your trackers, pneumatics and stuff in-between…
exposed or encased or perched up on a screen—
They’re all fine and dandy, but all out of date
Which makes your whole battle a silly debate.
Now let me propose at this new Christmastide
That arguments like this be all put aside
May the season’s true spirit help organists see
What shepherds and wise men were shown anciently.
Now blessings upon you who play on the keys.
May heaven reward you with its harmonies.
He sprang to his console and hit the “Sforzando”
And away they all flew con molto accelerando!
One thing for sure that I’d like to chronicle,
“Dear Santa” letters are asking for Technics Electronical!
And I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of view,
“Merry Christmas to all… and a new organ too!”
Hopefully, I’ll have my new organ by the end of May! Read my last post, “A babe is born,” for baby organ pictures.