retirement day 13

It’s probably silly for me to count days of retirement. The job I just left was a part time one. It didn’t require near the effort that many people put into their livelihood. Being a church musician has always left me lots of time for other stuff I like to do. When I was a child, I watched my Father leave the home and go to the office at the church. It always seemed like he had a cushy job. When I was an adult, I watched an ex-policeman go about his daily duties as an Episcopalian priest with a minimum of effort and a maximum of leisure in the northern Michigan resort town I lived. We called him “Smokey.”

Granted Smokey eventually left his strong willed wife for the wife of a parishioner. But that was not unusual. In the little resort town I lived, there wasn’t that much for people to do. Fish. Hunt. Drink. Go to bars. Dance. Fuck. Take care of the kids. Whatever.

My family and I ran a local bookshop. I played in bars and the local Episcopal church for meager remuneration. Eventually we all had to leave for more prosperous jobs. Prosperous as in “make enough money to live.” This was always the goal And with children there is an added sense of responsibility.

I set my sights on a better church job. At first it was a little church in Westland Michigan. Before I left the resort town in northern Michigan, a friend pointed out tactfully that I needed my musical training was unfinished. This was a bit of an understatement at the time. There was even an outspoken Welch lady at the church who nagged me pointing out that I needed to improve my organ playing skills. I had a few years of studying piano in Delaware, Ohio. One year of college working on my musical skills in general with an eye toward composition. But I was sorely lacking in the skills I would eventually acquire.

So churches paid me to play the organ and conduct choirs. This went on for years. Usually I had a church job as I pursued my college education. I was an old student even then. But so were many at Wayne State. Not so much at Notre Dame. But church has been the way for me to make a bit of money to help support the family. But it’s never felt like a job you retire from.

Eileen and I are doing alright with both of us living on retirement and social security. If it wasn’t for the Covid plague I like to think we would be doing more during this period. We have curtailed airplane flights out of a concern for their safety. This means we have curtailed annual visits to California to see our beloved family out there or to England to be with that beloved branch of the family. The China branch came closer and relocated here in Michigan. So they are easier to see.

I’m pretty sure Eileen and I would be more adventuresome at this time of life if it were safer. We like to travel together. We enjoy each other’s company. And travel has been a part of lives together, one that has been exhilarating and educational.

Eileen noticed that we could get round trip tickets to Dublin for #300 recently. Damn! I would love to return to Dublin and spend more time pursuing literary Dublin sites. But I don’t think that’s in the cards right now.

Hell, I’d like to go to Grand Rapids and go to some of my favorite restaurants and bookstores. This would be easy. But Eileen and I are restricting ourselves to restaurants that provide outdoor seating at this point. I have no idea what we will do when the snow falls. But I suspect we will continue to restrain until it’s safe.

Mt therapist continues to ask me if I want to discontinue therapy now. It’s probably his way of giving me permission to do so. I was telling Eileen that I don’t feel anymore drawn to therapy than I did when I began. But I have found it helpful, occasionally, very helpful. At my zoom session yesterday with Dr. Birky I didn’t have much on my mind but usually I do. So I’m not quitting now.

I have scheduled eye surgery in October to replace my cataracts with artificial lenses. This should improve my life considerably. If we remember, Eileen does all the driving. I can see to drive and still do short trips like to the library or Farmers Market. But if she’s in the car, it’s probably safer since I see distant objects double and blurry.

The physical stuff made my church gig a bit more stressful than it had been. I had trouble seeing the music clearly and my hands are gradually shrinking so that I can’t reach as far as used to on the keyboard. These disadvantages are not too troubling in my living room, but in public they can add a little pressure.

Also, I’m hoping the eye surgery will make reading books and music easier.

I have altered my morning routine to end with writing in this blog. [Sarah, if you’re reading this, you are probably the only one to persist through my bluster. Hi!] However, I have toyed with doing some more directed writing of prose at this time in my life, so I’m sort of using this daily discipline to test the waters a bit.

I remain motivated to keep my daily routine of reading, studying, and playing. It’s what I want to do. Maybe I’ll want to do something else like composer or write. Maybe not. What I am doing now is pretty damn fulfilling.

Opinion | God Has No Place in Supreme Court Opinions – The New York Times

Linda Greenhouse, the writer of this article, is also featured in an interview in this week’s On The Media. I admire her greatly and try not to miss any of her articles.

On the radio program she makes clear she sees us moving towards theocracy in the US. Both in the radio interview and in the article she mentions that people who support making abortion illegal have dropped the pretense that it is anything other than their religious beliefs. She keeps suing the word, “dogma,” in the interview. I like the sound of that.

Religiosity goes a long way to explain why so many people in the US talk and act as though they have no brains.

The Untold Stories of Wes Studi, an Overlooked Native American IconĀ 

This is an article by a writer I admire, Tommy Orange. It’s a good read since he is a skillful writer writing about something he knows. It’s in the Gentlemen’s Quarterly. The pictures of Wes Studi are hilarious. He is a prolific actor, but in the pictures he models fashion clothes. The captions enumerate what he is wearing and the cost, which is eyebrow raising. As below, most of the captions I read said “hat, his own.”

The Untold Stories of Wes Studi an Overlooked Native American Icon
Jacket, $975, by Schott NYC. Hat, his own. Sunglasses, $1,170, by Chrome Hearts.

book talk

Eileen was surprised that I made time to go over to Grace Church yesterday. She thought that with the influx of so many new books I would want to stay home and read. I am definitely in the mood to read. But I have been planning on going over and doing some filing. I motivated myself with the idea of checking out my old CD player sitting in a closet there.

Janice Ian writes about the need to own the music you love. The main way to do this effectively, she says, is to own CDs. Since I have had experience with Catholic missalettes and copyrights, I know that physical property doesn’t translate into legal ownership. Those little pamphlet things that Catholics sometimes use have some very interesting small print. You don’t actually own the little booklets. You are licensing them from the publisher.

Likewise digital recordings are often accessed via a sort of licensing. Ian noticed this when she found one of her favorite recordings remixed and remastered in a way she found annoying. When she attempted to find the old recording online, she failed.

Record ownership falls under this rubric for me, but I don’t remember Ian mentioning that.

Like an idiot I parted with most of my favorite records a long time ago. But I had so many that the remnant is still a significant part of my life now that I realize how valuable and important certain recordings are to me.

When it came to replacing CDs I had at least learned that technological lesson: don’t jump on a Technological bandwagon with both feet, you probably will regret it. Thus, my CD collection is on my porch gathering dust. I only have broken out CDs to listen to in my cars which I always make sure have a function player.

When Eileen and I arrived at Grace yesterday, I grabbed one of those CDs in the car. It happened to be Rattle and Hum by U2. But inside was The Joshua Tree which is also a recording I love.

I dragged out the moldering CD player and put on U2. It crackled a bit as I adjusted the volume but it did play the CD. Eileen and I listened to it as we both sorted and filed music.

My church gave me a $200 gift certificate to Readers World, the local bookstore. I now have about $40 left after ordering a bunch of books. I like shiny new books. But I also am developing a consciousness of liking old musty books.

My recent foray into Charles Ives led me logically to thinking about and reading Emerson. I have the portable Emerson.

The Portable Emerson by Ralph Waldo Emerson

These thick paperbacks from the past are wonderful. They are usually well edited and have thoughtful selections from the featured writer. I am still in the midst of the introduction by Carl Bode.

But when I fetched the Portable Emerson, I pulled out an interesting thin blue box sitting next to it on my shelf sporting the hand lettered title, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Reading.

The box neatly unfolded.

Inside was a worn paperback copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Reading: A Guide for Source-Hunters and Scholars To the One Thousand Volumes Which He Withdrew from Libraries.

The copyright is 1941. The publisher is Thistle Press, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Eileen being a retired library thought this was a violation of privacy. Me, being who I am, I thought it was very, very cool to see what books Emerson read.

Another book came in the mail yesterday. It qualifies for a bit of mustiness itself. I haven’t been able to find my copy of The Peloponnesian Wars by Thucydides. I decided to replace it but didn’t want a new glossy edition.

Mustiness was preferred. I manage to get a line on a Great Histories edition from 1963. This fits in nicely with my other books.

I started reading Jonah’s Gourd Vine by Zora Neal Hurston yesterday.

Jonah's Gourd Vine | Zora Neale Hurston

One of my Readers World purchases was two volumes of Hurston published by the Library of America. I like these editions even though they are new.

Library of America Zora Neale Hurston Edition Ser.: Hurston : Folklore,  Memoirs, and Other Writings - Mules and Men; Tell My Horse; Dust Tracks on  a Road; Selected Articles by Zora Neale
Library of America Zora Neale Hurston Edition Ser.: Hurston : Folklore,  Memoirs, and Other Writings - Mules and Men; Tell My Horse; Dust Tracks on  a Road; Selected Articles by Zora Neale

Jonah’s Gourd Vine is the first novel in one of them. I think Hurston is an amazing writer. Time to go read.