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weather and TV report

The house is getting back to order after our Thanksgiving events – good dishes put away, large serving bowls washed and stored, my grandmother’s damask tablecloth ready for the dry cleaner – though I’m still behind on chores like laundry and bills, let alone my own work. There’s a reason today’s busy families just can’t go the whole hog, so to speak, (the whole turkey?) on these occasions – there just isn’t time or energy. We only managed it here because of so many willing helpers. However, I’m still eating leftovers and enjoying every bite.

It’s cold, feeling not just like fall but like winter already, a vicious bite to the wind. Got my potted plants inside just in time, the hibiscus and jasmine looking grey and withered, perking up again with some indoor shelter. Only the cheerful geraniums seem to flourish through just about anything. But now they’re safely inside too.
Last night was veg out TV night – the finale of the British series “Doc Martin,” which was a delight, and then a dilemma – a retrospective on Joan Baez on PBS, or a documentary about Prokofiev on Bravo? I did what I usually do and flipped back and forth, though stayed mostly with Joan. What a generous, brave, gorgeous woman, still stunning, still singing and socially active in her sixties. I spent countless hours of my adolescence with my Joan Baez songbook and my guitar, singing soulful folksongs (“The river is wide/ I cannot get o’er,”) and pretending to be her.
She said that her son Gabriel, as an adult, told her that he’d felt left behind by her career, that he didn’t see enough of her – she would be reading him a bedtime story when a call would come to join another march, and off she’d go. There she was, saving the world and neglecting her son. “I wish I’d been there more. I’d do things differently if I could,” she said with regret, and someone else replied, “So would we all.”
It comforted me to think of a woman so vastly accomplished and admirable, aching with that mother guilt we all feel. “I wish I hadn’t …”, “If only I had …” We know there’s no point, but we do it anyway. As I watched my son turn 25, I thought about all the mistakes I made during his childhood. I was there, yes, but making stupid mistakes nonetheless. I wish I hadn’t. If only I had.
I wish I’d done more to save the world and could sing like Joan Baez.
In the Thirties, Prokofiev was safely settled in Paris but decided to go back home to the Russia of the Soviets, where eventually his music was censored and his wife was sent to a gulag; he died while she was imprisoned there. What a mistake to go back! And yet much of his most sublime music was written back in Russia, including Romeo and Juliet. Would we have had these if he’d stayed in Paris?
His son and grandson were interviewed. My guess is that of all the things Prokofiev might have regretted, neglecting his son was not one of them. That kind of guilt, I think, is the exclusive territory of mothers, even the wise, famous and beautiful.



2 Responses to “weather and TV report”

  1. Carolyn says:

    NOW YOU HAVE DONE IT! This is Stan, not Carolyn, but your last few blogs have opened a flood-gate (not as a federal sponsored program).

    First: Bob Rae was clearly the right choice for leader. However, he was handicapped by his NDP government that got blamed for the general down-turn in the economy when there was nothing they could have done (when will NDP governments learn?) Besides which: if S.Harper is showing such a spike in polls for minimal piano ability, where would he be beside a REAL piano-man: B.Rae??

    Now: the main event— I watched the same TV as you did last night. Prokofiev has been my favourite for a long time (only challenger: E. Satie). Perhaps one can do one's best in adversity, surrounded by friends who speak the same language.

    Speaking of which, my memory of the 60's is similar to yours except that, though I liked and still do like, Joan Baez. She has been, for some time, the only other lady (go ahead, guess—careful, she will be editing!!) who looks better with age. There is another hero: Pete.

    In about '62 I decided everyone must play the 5 string Banjo. I ordered one from T. Eaton Co for 49 dollars. It was sent but, how do you play it? T.E. apparently didn't know, so I did the obvious: I sent a letter with money order to Pete Seeger. Two weeks later, the famous book arrived in an envelope addressed by his wife,Toshi. Apparently you are no Baez and I am no Seeger. Oh well.

    As an acknowledgment of the power of advertising not long after, I arrived in Haight-Ashbury in '67, Mr. Seeger was playing UC Berkley so I did the pilgrammage and was there for "Big Muddy".

    But speaking of Joan: go to Youtube and type "Baez Sosa"(gracias a la vida)for something truly sublime!!

    There, I done it!

  2. beth says:

    Stan, I feel so lucky to have you you and Carolyn as bloggees that I'd like to clone you, so that every writer with a blog could have readers as lively and engaged as you. As you may know, I am also a teacher of memoir writing, and as I read your 60's stories my senses were tingling. Have you ever thought of putting those wonderful memories on paper?

    Pete Seeger is a great man; I'm sure you saw the documentary on him, too, which ends with him at age – what, 89 or something – standing by the side of the road with a sign about peace. He made me cry.

    I was in Ottawa in the early 80's when the Liberals had a leadership convention during which they rejected Jean Chretien for the rich personality of John Turner. So we've been here before. I've watched Bob Rae at several meetings – he listens and watches intently, taking everything in, the wheels always turning. And then he comes up with solutions, answers, puts his heart into the fight. A fine man – and as you point out, also a musician.

    And, Stan, I also was in San Francisco in 1967. Only I was with my parents and didn't do anything exciting. I'd love to hear about your adventures. Just open a file on your computer and write it all down.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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