a little family time

Our internet was down for a bit yesterday. It’s discouraging how dependent one gets on the stupid thing. I called the Comcast robot in charge. She offered to text me when it came back which she did. I was reduced to taking out books to look up stuff instead of lazily googling. I was able to find my look ups in real books. Think of that.

Eileen and I watched Alex while Elizabeth taught her art class. I guess it’s sort of a painting class right now. Their model has religion. He was talking about God to the class causing a few eye rolls (according to Elspeth). He was born in England to Jamaican parents. Apparently not as obnoxious as some religious types.

Alex seemed to have remembered that she needs to ask me early in the visit (before martini time) to go to the upstairs music room. This is the room which now houses the harpsichord, the congas, and the marimba. There are other instruments laying around as well including several recorders, banjo, and guitars. Alex does not like to be up there by herself other wise she would have pretty much free rein. I don’t blame her for not wanting to be alone sometimes at this stage of her life. Her life has been quite an adventure so far and must be a bit disconcerting at times. She is a bright little thing.

So upstairs we went. I’m not sure quite what her attraction is other than the novelty of the musical instruments. She quickly tires of playing the marimba. Yesterday I put the congas on the stand which allows them a nice ring. I play too of course. I have been playing a movement of a Bach violin unaccompanied sonata on the marimba for her the last couple of times we were in the room together. Also Spanish Eyes keeps bubbling up from old memory. And we do some improvising. She seemed to get that the congas make a better sound on the rack than on the floor.

Before long we were back downstairs and I played some kids songs on the piano always checking in to see if she recognized stuff like “If I only had a brain.” She knew most of my repertoire and we all did some singing. Eileen and Alex did some dancing but dancing is hard to do when one is playing the piano.

Eileen and Alex began some elaborate pretend stuff. This may have been before the singing. But I was able to pass Alex on to Eileen and do some reading which is not always easy when Alex is in the house. It helps to put my ear phones on.

I do like it when Elizabeth and Alex spend the night and I can have some time with Elizabeth in the morning before they go home. There was a lot of processing Bob Daum’s funeral, some verbal (Elizabeth) and some nonverbal (Alex). It’s a complex family system with three families from Bob’s three widows. Only his current widow was at the funeral but Diane the first wife was around afterwards to help identify people in the pictures they shared with each other. Apparently they told each other all the stories about Bob some of which are not particularly flattering. I even witnessed some of these events when I met him at Jeremy’s graduation from Washington U with his J.D.

I have been spending quite a bit of time with Brahms late solo piano works. These are gems and my hands haven’t completely quite functioning so I can sort of play them. It’s ironic to lose facility at this stage of the game since my keyboard skills only really improved in the last couple of decades. I haven’t been working on technique at all. My playing is largely for my own satisfaction. I will have to confront if I have enough skill to play with people if I get that urge. It has occurred to me that my skills are quite diminished and may not exactly be up to some fun chamber music like stuff. I’ll have to write some easy stuff if I get the urge.

Here’s Bob’s obit.

Dr. Robert Daum, an infectious disease specialist, dies – Chicago Tribune

Bob’s last wife Susan had a daughter, Shannon Vavra, before she married Bob. Vavra is a professional journalist and did some hustling to get Bob’s obit in the Tribune. In fact, she wrote an obit but the Tribune insisted on rewriting it. Jeremy thought they probably made it a little worse which is believable when you read it.

Eileen and I watched the Zoom funeral. Shannon stood next to Susan as she gave her eulogy.

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