24 May 2006

Flawed Wall Art

I like the fact that in ancient Chinese art the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect.
~ Unknown

A flawed painting my dining room certainly is. In case you have not noticed yet, I love art in all its forms and the decoration of one’s home is definitely an art form. So I was thrilled when my landlady came over one day a few weeks ago and said she wanted to freshen up the walls in the dining room and living room with a new coat of paint. I enthusiastically offered my talents and hands in helping. This would be especially needed in the dining room where almost all four walls were plastered with hideous granny-floral wallpaper. This (we both agreed) would need to be stripped and the walls washed before painting began. I should have stripped it that night or the next day.

After a long day at work, I was greeted at the door by my housemates with the words: “Don’t be too upset.” The dining room was white ~ with patches of blue floral wallpaper bleeding through here and there. It was with great effort that I opened my eyes again and shut my mouth.

That was a few weeks ago and last night my housemate Mary and I talked about colour and flow and the weekend. Instead of going somewhere fun or relaxing, Mary and I are staying home this weekend and painting the dining room. If we are really ambitious we might even get to the living room, but it is the dining room that is in dire need of some serious paint TLC!

So today I visited Lowe’s on my lunch break and came away with a bag full of paint chips and pamphlets and a few plants for the garden. Mary and I had decided on a shade of cranberry. But after sleeping on it (in my cranberry painted boudoir) I was not as keen on painting the dining room the same colour. I am not afraid of colour, especially dark colours. I love them. But I want to do something different with this new canvas.

Hopefully, we can look at the paint chips tonight, choose a colour (or two) and then I will buy the paint tomorrow and we’ll be good to go.

Oremus pro invicem,

22 May 2006

Unleashing the Tempest

All I try to do is write music that feels meaningful to me,
that has commitment and passion behind it.
~ Bruce Springsteen

After this weekend, I’m either committed or I need to be committed. My friend Dotto is directing a production of The Tempest and needed a score written. A score consisting of an overture (naturally) and a few song and dance numbers in the styles of 1) Caribbean steel drums, 2) Hip-hop, 3) gospel and 4) melancholic ballad. I have only written melancholic ballads (aka funeral dirges as my mother calls them). I have never written 1), 2) or 3). For that matter, I have not written an overture, nor a full score for a play. So what do I do? I say yes of course! I think my Muse fainted.

This took place on Friday. Over an excellent grilled salmon, accompanied by grilled sweet potatoes and succulent green peppers, fresh mushrooms simmered in garlic butter and red-wine and a couple of Coronas, Dotto, Sullivan and I discussed ideas, script, feel and courage. And aptitude. I brought up those last two. It is the blessing/curse of the melancholic to be able to see the big picture and every little detail that can bring that big picture crashing to the ground. I think of everything that could go wrong.

As we enjoyed grilled pound cake with bananas and rum-kissed real whipped cream in the candlelit backyard, both Sullivan and Dotto (also both melancholics) endeavored to ease my fears. However, they were not completely put at ease until Saturday, when I talked to Ann S. at the wedding reception of our mutual friends and fellow Christendom grads, Kristy and Jeff E.
Ann also composes ~ a fact I forgot until I sat down to bring her up to speed on my current doings. Then I grabbed her by the shoulder and turned to Sullivan (who also knew the happy couple) and said – “Oh wow! That’s right ~ she composes ~ we must talk to her!” This we did. And now there are three composers. I hope this does not mean the same thing as three cooks in the kitchen.

However, in this case, I do not think there is any danger of that. The three of us bring different talents and it is not as scary to share the burden of a whole score with at least 5 major song and dance numbers with two other artists.

Fears and insecurities aside, Sunday afternoon (with absolutely glorious weather!) I sat down at the piano (which needs yet another tuning! Argh!!!) and after just brushing the keys with my fingertips for a couple of bars, came up with a partial tune for the overture/Ariel’s Song. My Muse must have recovered from her earlier shock. But this is only the beginning. We shall see whether the tune stands up to replay and other ears and whether the (royal) We will be able to withstand the pressure of her perfectionist self and looming deadlines.

To be continued….

Oremus pro invicem,

11 May 2006

The First Meeting

The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading,
in order to write, a man will turn over half a library to make one book.
~ Samuel Johnson

The inaugural meeting of the American Inklings was a blast last night. There was perhaps a little more gab and less creative criticism than I would have liked. My dears, for me to read you my poems and for you to say “Well done! I love it!” is not to love me nor my work. So Sullivan (aka King Alfred) and I decided that we need to have a little more structure if the vision we have for the group is to become reality.

In order to get some true critiques going, we thought that for our next meeting, we would make it a rule that each member should pick something that they do not like about someone’s work. This forces the listener to listen closely to the words, meter, rhyme and flow of the work being discussed. So the first part of the meeting will be devoted to original works and their critique.

For the second half we decided that we would do a reading of a published writer. As all those present were fans of Shakespeare, Hamlet was unanimously chosen for our next meeting.

The second and fourth Wednesdays turned out to be in conflict with another meeting that most of our members and I myself attend. So the next meeting will not be until June 7 and from there on we will meet every first and third Wednesday. 7 o’clock seems to work well for everyone. The only other change we will make it the physical place we meet. There are a few who would need to be near a metro stop and most are closer to D.C. and Arlington then they are to Reston. So Sullivan and I will be prowling the pubs searching for a suitable place for the A. Inklings to gather.

Hope you can join us in June!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

08 May 2006

Of Steak and Friendship

You're to come away at once, out of danger. I've got a motor-car and a basket of strawberries and a bottle of Chateau Peyraguey which isn't a wine you've ever tasted, so don't pretend. It's heaven with strawberries.
~ Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

Now that I have posted that quote (ahh the memories of my junior year of college that it evokes!), it strikes me as being wonderfully suited to the text of an invitation for an impromptu summer soiree. I will have to start planning one right away! But that is for another post on another evening….

Last Wednesday, I had a few friends help me move a couch I had just purchased (a beautiful piece to help formalize my living room) and I thanked them by grilling some beautiful sirloin steaks and frying up some potatoes with rosemary and mushrooms in a red wine sauce.

I had planned on feeding them, but the date and the menu were impromptu. And I must say, that a thrown together, intimate supper with friends is so satisfying to the soul. Anyone who knows me has become familiar with the large, fun and at times boisterous parties (ranging from 40 attendees to over 100) that I have thrown or enjoy attending.

But I am a melancholic-phlegmatic introvert. “Small is beautiful.” Really. Can you truly enter into the mystery that is your friend if there are 39 to 99 other people needing to be attended to, fed or any of the other services a hostess renders?

No. The mystery and sacredness of friendship demand a respectful quiet. Time to listen, to contemplate the countenance of one’s friend and to enter into the expression they are sharing with you in that moment. To be heard is to be known and respected. And to be known and respected is to be loved.

How wonderful to be able to pick up the phone and say, I have steaks and the grill is fired up. Come on over and set a spell. And let us enter into the mystery of each other. For by doing so, we become better men and women.

Thank you for sharing a little of your mystery with me, my friends. I treasure you.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela