Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


On the way home from the store this evening my beloved spouse and the baby dude and I stopped by our next-door neighbor’s house to return something we had borrowed. Our neighbors were just sitting down to eat dinner, and, claiming that they had cooked too much, invited us to join them. As they don’t appear to be the types to offer unwarranted or uncomfortable invitations, this one proved irresistible, and we sat down to delicious fresh tuna and spinach salad and scalloped potatoes, good conversation, and toddlers -- they have one 5 and a half months younger than ours.

I knew that several months ago Catherine had bought an upright piano after not having played much for many years. I’d heard stray strains wafting between our houses, but I’d never really heard her. I cajoled her into playing something after dinner by offering to butcher a Broadway tune or two in exchange. Haydn sonatas were on the CD (which I guessed correctly, which always surprises me), and so we had talked about composers. She had mentioned that Mozart’s sonatas make her feel smooth and balanced and calm, and Beethoven is stormier, and Chopin makes her feel like she wants to cry.

On the condition that the rest of us not interrupt our conversation, Catherine sat down and played a Chopin waltz, elegant and piquant though not, for me, tear-worthy; and a calm and balanced movement of Mozart; and then Traumerei by Robert Schumann. I’d heard the tune but couldn’t place it. Just beautiful, so tender and melancholy. It made me feel like I wanted to cry.

I kept my end of the bargain by butchering “Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” which I sing and play better on guitar, even though the chords rumble so nicely in the bass register of the piano -- I’m just a nothing pianist; and then part of “That Old Devil Moon,” which I’m learning. I got much the better part of the deal, listening to Catherine, but she and her husband were kind and indulgent about my playing, and my own beloved spouse is used to it anyway. The toddlers danced.

After we got home I put on a CD of Mieczyslaw Horszowski, whom I wrote about here on September 12, playing Traumerei, and although his performance lacked Catherine’s occasional stumbles, I didn’t like it nearly as well. The smallness of a stereo after hearing a big live piano; the coldness of even a highly professional recording after the warmth of a noisy kid-filled living room. Live is always better.


Real Change, Seattle’s street newspaper, will be publishing my piece on the Republican Party’s neo-feudal tax policies this week. I’ll post a link when it’s up. Meanwhile, here’s a story by my beloved spouse in the current issue.


Leavin’ town to go to a training for my job. Won’t be back till Saturday or Sunday. Happy trails.

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