Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin has been singing since she was old enough to stand up in her father's church on Sundays. She's been recording since at least 1962, about when this photograph was made. I have loved her and her music all through the years. It's not enough to call her the "Queen of Soul," though she certainly is that. She is also the voice of gospel and often the most credible blues singer since Billie Holliday. She's even pinch hit for Placido Domingo, singing in his key, not her own.

She is the voice who sang Barack Obama into office, richly gathering the hopes of millions of people that cold morning through the song she sang. She was the youngest ever recipient of a Kennedy Center Honors award in 1994. She is the first woman ever elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And she will forever be the waitress from "The Blues Brothers," asking for respect.

I should explain that I try to post videos of her work at least a couple times a week on Facebook. We don't know how much longer she will be with us, or whether we will ever hear that entirely recognizable voice again. She has pancreatic cancer.

In case, you're not on Facebook, here's a link to Aretha singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at the Obama inauguration two years ago.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas, Everyone!

A few Christmas Eve photos of the lights which shone brightly, despite the rain...

A view through our front window last evening....and

for the 32nd year, luminaries shown brightly along the sidewalks of our Ravenna neighborhood, despite the rain.

Our friend Suzie took our holiday photos for the third straight year. She is a lot more fun than Yuen Lui, and we like the photos.

This we decided to be our formal Christmas card photo, since all three of us are smiling and there are no weird twitches.

I like this one of James, whom we are so happy to have home with us for the holidays. Very best wishes from all three of us to you, with hopes for a more peaceful and brighter New Year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Deck the halls.

I think our house must look remarkably the same every year at Christmas. The piano and the armoire exchange locations to make room for the tree.

Some tree decorations move over to the mantle, and some come out year after year, like Santa, who used to grace the front counter at Delphi Computers & Peripherals this time of year.

The kids are all smiling from the piano in photos recent and old. The books for caroling are pulled out of the piano bench. The wreath, like the tree, is fresh cut from Hunter Tree Farm.

James' old train makes its annual appearance. We got that train one year in Eugene, when visiting Cassandra and Richard.

Some ornaments on the tree are very old, including one from my family tree when growing up. The box upon which the tree is sitting was made for Leroy by his father as a Christmas present. Cassandra made James the Santa ornament when he was two years old.

Most of these ornaments are old: the black sheep, the cardinals, the angel and the sleek penguin. The glass tree ornament is new, though, picked up last year on Queen Anne at a store Lauren introduced me to.

Leroy is packaging up the last presents that need to go in the mail. I am a lucky lucky woman.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Seasonal yoga.

Especially this time of year, serenity is to be desired. And if there's a way to get more exercise, it seemed reasonable to go for it. So last Saturday, I walked into a 75 minute "Yoga Flow" class at the University Y, led by an amazingly tolerant and kind instructor. I got through the class without much embarrassment, though I had not done yoga for years, by simply resting when it was clear my knees or hips would not assume the position.

I paid for my earnestness the next day, with gluts that burned and barely moved. I went in to train on Monday, feeling pretty loose -- but then saw my chiropractor (who I think is also a medicine man) later that evening. He found almost everything out of whack -- C2, thoracic region, pelvis -- and wondered if I had fallen. I told him no, the new variant was the yoga class. He asked if perhaps I wanted to dial it back for a bit.

So I started a lunchtime Iyengar beginners yoga class that meets on Tuesday and Thursday. The good news is that it's twice a week and only 45 minutes long. I'm stiff from the Thursday class, probably from tricking myself into thinking it was so much simpler than the Yoga Flow course. My ribs in particular seem to freeze and lock up at odd times. Still, it's worth seeing if I can find serenity like so many others do in this discipline.

Such virtue should carry some side benefits, so I have both a facial and a massage coming up in the next two weeks as I decorate the house to celebrate the season.