Tag Archives: happiness

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Johann Sebastian Bach may or may not have written his organ masterpiece, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor in 1704.  All we know for sure is that the combined efforts of Johannes Ringk, who saved it in manuscript form in the 1830’s, and Felix Mendelssohn who performed it and made it a hit you could dance to during the Bach Revival in 1840 made it possible to still hear its sublime music today.  Okay, maybe not dance to exactly…  But without the two of them, the piece might have been lost to us in obscurity.

The Toccata part is a composition that uses fast fingerings and a sprightly beat to make happy hippie type music that is really quite trippy.   The Fugue part (pronounced Fyoog, not Fuggwee which I learned to my horror in grade school music class) is a part where one part of the tune echoes another part of the tune and one part becomes the other part and then reflects it all back again.  I know that’s needlessly confusing, but at least I know what I mean.  That is not always a given when I am writing quickly like a Toccata.

I have posted two different versions for you to listen to in this musical metaphor nonsensical posticle… err… Popsicle… err… maybe just post.  One is the kinda creepy organ version like you might find in a Hammer Films monster movie in the 1970’s.  The other is the light and fluffy violin version from Disney’s Fantasia.  I don’t really expect you to listen to both, but listening to one or the other would at least give you a tonal hint about what the ever-loving foolishness I am writing in this post is really all about.

You see, I find sober thoughts in this 313-year-old piece of music that I apply to the arc of my life to give it meaning in musical measure.

Toccata and Fugue

This is the Paffooney of this piece, a picture of my wife in her cartoon panda incarnation, along with the panda persona of my number two son.  The background of this Paffooney is the actual Ringk manuscript that allowed Bach’s masterwork not to be lost for all time.

My life was always a musical composition, though I never really learned piano other than to pick out favorite tunes by ear.  But the Bach Toccata and Fugue begins thusly;

The Toccata begins with a single-voice flourish in the upper ranges of the keyboard, doubled at the octave. It then spirals toward the bottom, where a diminished seventh chord appears (which actually implies a dominant chord with a minor 9th against a tonic pedal), built one note at a time. This resolves into a D major chord.

I interpret that in prose thusly;

Life was bright and full of promise when I was a child… men going to the moon, me learning to draw and paint, and being smarter than the average child to the point of being hated for my smart-asserry and tortured accordingly.  I was sexually assaulted by an older boy and spiraled towards the bottom where I was diminished for a time and mired in a seventh chord of depression and despair.  But that resolved into a D major chord when the realization dawned that I could teach and help others to learn the music of life.

And then the Fugue begins in earnest.  I set the melody and led my students to repeat and reflect it back again.  Over and over, rising like a storm and skipping like a happy child through the tulips that blossom as the showers pass.  Winding and unwinding in equal measure, my life progressed to a creaky old age.  But the notes of regret in the conclusion are few.  The reflections of happinesses gained are legion.  I have lived a life I do not regret.  I may not have my music saved in the same way Johann Sebastian did, but I am proud of the whole of it.  And whether by organ or by violin, it will translate to the next life, and will continue to repeat.  What more can a doofus who thinks teaching and drawing and telling stories are a form of music ask for from life?

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, classical music, commentary, happiness, humor, Paffooney, sharing from YouTube, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Saturdays With Gingerbread

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This is the pen and ink start of an illustration of the novel I am working on, Recipes for Gingerbread Children.

I admit that my obsession with the benefits of gingerbread is mostly in my head.  Specifically, in my sinuses.  I find products with ginger in them, diet ginger ale, ginger teas, and especially gingerbread cookies, help reduce the tightness in my COPD-laced lungs, clear my sinuses, and make breathing mercifully easier.  Gingerbread cookies are also seasonally wonderful in that they are slightly Christmassy and help bring my family together.

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So, yesterday, a Saturday, my daughter the Princess and I executed a perfectly evil plan to commit evil acts of gingerbread and whip up some wicked little gingerbread men in a frenzy of deliciously evil bakery.

Okay, maybe not evil exactly…  but I have diabetes and the Princess desperately wants to lose some weight, neither condition being one that benefits by having the temptation of wicked little gingerbread men around.

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And, as with any evil plan, many things proceeded to go awry.  We did not have any actual flour available to make the gingerbread dough less butter-and-egg sticky.  All we had was some corn starch… which had bugs in it.  After struggling to craft sticky little bodies a few times, we decided to go ahead and use the tainted corn starch.  After all, a few little larvae that get overlooked and not picked out will only add a bit of extra protein, right?

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And we had the added bonus that you can make just as much mess with corn starch and margarine as you can with flour and butter!

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But we did get the corn-starchy little buggers baked.  (And they were probably literally buggers due to the potential for having bugs in them.  Oh well, it should fortify the old immune systems.)

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The only decoration we had was chocolate frosting, since someone ate all the sprinkles and sugar dots we bought last year for the gingerbread house.  (Don’t look at me.  I have diabetes.)  So we frosted them, prompting the Princess to begin calling them “little burnt souls blackened in hell”.

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So then the cookie cannibals could allow the eating to begin.

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Mmmm!  Good cookie!

Okay, I know it looks like the Princess did all the work, and all I did was eat them.  But somebody had to do the hard work of taking all the pictures, right?

 

 

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Filed under bugs, fairies, family, humor, illustrations, imagination, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Late Autumn Rains

20151128_092151It is raining again in Texas, and cold enough to make the leaves turn red and yellow and orange.  The cracked and useless swimming pool is filled with rain water.  The sky is gray. El Niño  is here for a visit.  And he is not a well-behaved little boy.

I am confined indoors again by arthritis pain and breathing difficulties.   But I don’t mind.  I can travel by the wings of my imagination.  Things in my world are soaring once again amongst the clouds… and dancing like kites in the wind.

I have not taken any depression medication in six months, and I seem to be happier for it.  We have hot chocolate to drink and… mmm… pumpkin pie.  The cool winds are a reminder of what is was like as a boy in Iowa in the 60’s and 70’s.  Thanksgiving now past… Christmas coming…  I haven’t celebrated those holidays in 20 years, my wife being a Jehovah’s Witness, and I myself still identified with the congregation… even though my faith is somewhat stumbled… not in God himself, but in how men make pronouncements about what to think and what to say and who to be… in the name of magical rewards that the universe is not capable of delivering.  No higher power will step in to rescue us from our fears and misfortune.  That is not what God is there for.  He does not ask for slavish devotion, or rituals, or the sacrifice of your firstborn son.  That is superstition.  He only offers the chance to live, and laugh, and… love.  It is the only reward I need.  I do not fear the coming winter.  The weather may erode my mountain fortress and the rains may eventually make the rivers of life to drown me, but I have lived, and loved, and laughed.  And not even God can take that away.

I am sorry if this sounds somber and depressed to you.  I hear a different music than that.  I hear a resounding joy.  And even if I die right this minute, I am happy, for all is complete.  “Whether or not it is clear to you… the universe is unfolding as it should.” (The Desiderata by Max Ehrmann)

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Filed under autobiography, forgiveness, humor, philosophy, Uncategorized

Let The Sun Shine!

I am sure by now you are probably aware of how much rain has been pouring down on our heads here in Texas.  We are soaked to the bone and some of us are under water.  My poor cracked and useless swimming pool, useless because five-years-plus of drought has shrunk the soil and cracked the cement in the cement pond, is now full of water again.  The ground under it is so saturated that even though the holes are still not repaired, the water has no place to go.  At least the North Texas area we live in is now greener than I have ever seen it this time of year.

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The grass needs cutting desperately since I have not had a rain-free day to cut it in so long.  The upshot is, I need the sun to come out.  If you have been reading my blog of late, a serious mistake that some people are willing to commit, you may have noticed how down and depressing my writing has been of late.  I have been writing about how the insurance pirates have been wounding me deeply in an economic sense.  I have written about dead people talking in the cemetery in an Our Town sort of scene gone completely weird.  And yesterday I wrote about dealing with my own childhood victimization through grisly Middle Ages-inspired death-art.  I have reached the low point in the valley and decided it is now time climb the next mountain.  I need my sunshine back.

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So, today, the sun came out.  Even better, the forecast for the next week has rain chances down around four per cent.  The ducks have come back to our pool.  The songbirds have returned from wherever they’ve been hiding.  The world is cheering up.  And in spite of problems with arthritic limbs aching, book publishing going in super-slow-motion, financial doom looming above me ready to swoop down like an avenging eagle at any second, and numerous other things that are hard to turn into humor, the sunshine has restored my smile.

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Filed under happiness, humor, photo paffoonies

Apple Blossom Time

When you get to be old and burdened with deteriorating health like I am, you appreciate the renewal of spring with a new intensity.  This year has been like that.  Cold weather and dehydrating cold were worse this winter than I can remember… especially since I feel it in the marrow of my bones now more than ever before.  But the inevitable rebirth did eventually come.  The apple tree my wife planted in the hope that Texas heat would not destroy it is putting out more blossoms than ever before.

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The first flowers to put out their winter-weary heads this year were relatively stupid daffodils.  They came out in February only a day before an ice storm came along to slay them for their daffy dunderheadedness.   I didn’t take their demise very well.  I suffered a lot this winter and was looking for the sun with desperation.

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But then, in March, dandelions poked out their bright, dandy heads and decided to stay.

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And, though we have had plenty of wet weather and rain, the flowers apparently all had a big meeting and decided the time had come to make their yearly assault and wrench the world out of the hands of Jack Frost and his icy minions.

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Wisteria began climbing the back corner of the house.  They like to spread their purple majesty out over the area by the cracked and derelict swimming pool.  It is moist and shaded out there, somewhat protected from our cruel Texas sun.

My wife’s bed of roses, both red and yellow marched out into the open air and began to dance gently in the wind like grand ladies decked out in their Easter best , showing off their color and their sass for all the world to see.

I am coming back now too… less seriously depressed.  I completed a doll collection last week.  The educational problems my children were facing are now seemingly straightening out.  It is a time of rebirth… happiness… and flowers.  My smile has returned.

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Filed under happiness, humor, photo paffoonies