Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

October 26, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 1:22 pm on Thursday, October 26, 2006

A week ago we flew to southern California so that Charles could prepare for a HymnFest at Concordia University in Irvine on Sunday. The air and sunlight of that place remain strong in my mind as I look out this morning over a dark and damp Sanctuary where few branches move and even the birds are very quiet. The concert was splendid with a choir of 90 student and community singers and a highly competent brass group and timpanist adding to the whole. Charles was in fine form from the first notes of his opening Bach to the last pedal glissando of his own composition on “What a Friend” [click to listen] that he played as an encore. Many friends, family, and former students were there and this time that I had greatly looked forward to was far grander than I had imagined it would be.

Vignette: There is a small Chapel on a high ridge on the edge of the Concordia campus that has glass walls so that you can be inside and look out over Orange County to the east, and across the campus and the nearby hills to the west. The chapel is very still inside and plain and cool; the pipes of a small organ are in the back, and a single beautiful stained glass window is over the altar; you can step out through the glass doors and look down over the entire area. The duel sounds of finches singing in the eucalyptus trees nearby and the constant traffic moving past at the bottom of the hill where you are standing are unique expressions of this time and place. The sky above is a perfect blue, and the air is soft – how anyone gets any work done here is a wonder to me.

Vignette: At pre-dawn I leap out of bed and say, “Let’s hurry! I want to see the sun rise over the Pacific!” We get dressed, get in the car, and I direct Charles down the street called Jamboree toward the brightening sky. Charles says, “I don’t think we are going the right way” and I say, “Yes, we are, see, the sun is coming up ahead” and he says, “Those are mountains ahead, not the Pacific. . . you don’t mean that you think the sun is coming up over the water?” He sounds incredulous and I am suddenly faced with the realization that my center of the country child’s imagination always had the sun coming up over the Atlantic AND the Pacific oceans equally. I say, “Well, actually, I did think that for just a moment, and of course, I realize that is completely silly, we have to turn around and go back.” He takes a breath and I know he is going to explain some basic geographic truths which will be painful to hear so I say, “I know that you have every right to tell me about east and west and sunrises and such, and I will listen, but if you can refrain, it would be nice.” He says, “Perhaps we can try for a sunset” and finds a place to turn around.

Vignette: Another morning comes and this time we have son John-paul with us and this time we go westward on Jamboree flying along with the traffic up and over the Pacific Coast Highway, down the hill, over a little bridge and onto Balboa Island, a small bit of land inside of a cove and surrounded by piers with boats of all sizes nearby. We have breakfast at Wilma’s, a wonderful café that is homey and filled with “locals” greeting one another and not needing menus. After we eat, we walk all around the island past all the lovely little houses and gardens facing out on the water. There are great ospreys sitting so quietly on poles out at the ends of piers that at first I think they are carved, but then their heads turn as we walk by, for they are watching us even as we are watching them. The whole place is quiet and remote from the teeming traffic that is in constant motion not far away. Walking in the sun in this enchanted place with dear ones, I mentally note that I am experiencing perfect happiness.

Now, home again, another excellent blood count, late October skies around, Halloween ahead, and a reunion with Alphie coming very soon.

October 18, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 1:50 pm on Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yesterday’s CBC, the weekly blood check, had a readout that was so fine I would be getting a blue ribbon at the State Fair if there were a category for such things. The blood was normal in every way for the first time since the beginning of this new life; I walked out of the Specialty Clinic at the hospital clutching my paper and grinning like an idiot.

In the afternoon, we were invited to visit Alphie and see the improvements in his behavior. He did very well and walked and sat and waited for us as well as for the trainer. We got our instruction sheets to study so that we too will modify our behavior when we get him back home. Mostly it is like classroom teaching; have an expectation, be consistant in enforcing every rule and unacceptable behavior has “consequences”. I think for Alphie the consequences are no petting, no treats, and “time out” in his kennel. When we left without him, Alphie had the look of supreme sorrow which is pure canine heartbreak – it was very difficult to walk away from him. Now the trainer will be taking him “out and about” to PetSmart and other such places where dogs are welcome. We will be reunited upon our return from the California adventure.

In Alphie’s absence Cataboo, the little gray and white striped cat that lived on our porch for a while last winter, came back. He was sitting on a chair out there and he purred and smiled when I petted him. He was thin and fit and today, while we were watching out of the window, he came down the path, pounced on one of those squirrels that have been putting away pounds and pounds of sunflower seeds and caught it even though it appeared to be as large as he was. He hauled his prize off into the bushes and we were left to consider the latent jungle properties of this little cat which is definitely not a pet.

October 14, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 8:25 am on Sunday, October 15, 2006

Last week I celebrated my 69th birthday with a party that included six children ages 5 to 12. The day came bearing feelings of delight and gratitude that it came at all, and it was beautiful. I constructed a Treasure Hunt for the children that took them down one path after another through the pasture and forest. Watching them running ahead of us looking for the next clue and observing their delight at the final discovery of the treasure provided a wonderful allegory for life; their exuberance and energy gave the celebration far more than any quiet gathering could have mustered. The treasure included apples and little animals wrapped in gold paper – the children seemed very pleased and continued onward into the evening in a merry mood which spread to all of us making the party an unqualified success.

This month has been a season of change – Alphie is apparently not morphing into Wonderdog because the trainer says that “he sure has a lot of puppy in him” and “he really is a big dog!” meaning, I think, that he is bounding around with his 100 pounds of unbridled and uncontrolled energy. I assured the trainer that we were not expecting a Lassie but just hoped to have some behavior modification so that we would be able to have dear Alphie meet other people with a modicum of good behavior. We work with him next Tuesday. The colors at Sanctuary have already faded to muted hues, and with the harvesting of the corn and beans, the fields around us are brown. This will become gray as winter advances, and it will take a bright imagination to find beauty there, though the grasses retain some color and texture to provide visual relief.

Another change beginning in November is that Charles will move from the position of Associate Organist at First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln to Organist at First Presbyterian Church just a few blocks away. The new director of music at First Plymouth is planning to go in a different direction with the music program there, and when the position at the Presbyterian Church became available it seemed prudent to take that since it is also a very fine venue for making music with a large and good organ. The city of Lincoln is not big enough to have many of these places to play, so Charles was very pleased at the way things fell into place. I will likely worship at both churches because we made many friends at Plymouth and our children are members there. I will then go to the Presbyterian church for my music “fix” since I am convinced that Charles is the finest presenter of hymnody that I have ever experienced and a splendid player of organ literature as well.

October 5, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 9:49 am on Thursday, October 5, 2006

The golden month has arrived and with its beginning we took Alphie off to boarding school to learn to be a perfect dog. I missed him immediately, and Charles conceded that he too missed the dear a bit, though it was quite fine to walk about without fearing the grand lunge that Alphie seemed to practice on him most particularly. Just two days before his first day of school, Alphie removed a 4 by 4 six foot long landscaping timber from beside the path and joyfully hauled it over the bridge and into the pasture. I could not personally lift it, so I kicked it to the side of the path for another day. On the return of our last walk through the forest before departing to the trainer, Alphie picked up the timber and hauled it back over the bridge and into the yard, saving us the trouble. I feel that he was already showing a growing sensitivity in this canine act of kindness to his aging owners.

Now I walk with a different focus, and yesterday discovered a most wonderful mushroom. I tried to “Google” it but there are so many varieties, I didn’t have the discipline to inspect the 1,900,000+ entries. Most of the concerns seem to be “Is it poisonous or can I eat it?” Do any of you recognise the photo? Have you ever seen a mushroom like it? On the next day, it was gone with just a black circle on the ground around the empty white stem.

The weekly blood checks now indicate improvement, so the three weeks of sinking counts were perhaps the result of the chemotherapy, and nothing to fear. We hope to find the rhythm of this illness and its remission so that we can relax a bit.

This is my birthday month, and this year I had to renew my driver’s license. Since my eyesight had been growing less keen (to state it mildly) in recent months, I decided to get stronger correction before going for the license because one must read the eye chart there. Charles said that if I couldn’t see what was required, I definitely shouldn’t be on the road. I went to the optometrist and found out that I have a galloping cataract in my left eye, with one in the right eye running along not far behind. I could get some correction for the right eye, but nothing would help the left, and when did I wish to see the eye surgeon? This left me outside the time frame required to get my driver’s license, so I spent a bit of time practicing vigorous squinting so that I might have a prayer of seeing the eye chart. I tried to remain nonchalant because I felt excessive nervousness in such a place might arouse suspicion of much more than just failing eyesight, and thankfully, Charles was right. I passed the test handily because it was very quick and non-demanding. I walked out of there with a mixed feeling of thankfulness at having gotten my license and concern about other drivers out there who can’t see all that well either. The cataract removal event will occur in the near future, and a dear friend tells me that I will be delighted in my new vision.