contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

My Parkinson's Journey

In which Terri shares a humorous look at her journey with Parkinson's disease and Dystonia:

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

Filtering by Tag: Christmas

Harmony and Dissonance

Terri Reinhart

"Wolcum be ye that are here. Wolcum alle and make good cheer, Wolcum alle another yere, Wolcum Yole, Wolcum!"

deep_red_rose.png

The music which always gets me in the Christmas spirit is "A Ceremony of Carols" by Benjamin Britten. It might seem an odd choice; though beautiful, it's not exactly the light, cheery music we hear in the stores or on the radio. Part of the reason it speaks to me is because our choir performed this work when I was a senior in high school. The concert came during a snow storm right before Christmas break. A professional harpist performed with us. Walking out of the school in the falling snow after the concert, the music was still very much alive in my whole being. It was magical!

Britten's use of dissonance, varying rhythms, overlapping voices, and key changes make this a challenging work for a choir. From the reverent procession in Latin to the bright "Wolcum Yole!" in middle English, to the gentle lullabies then a plunge into the dark with "This Little Babe" , to the song of praise in "Spring Carol" to the energy and urgency of "Deo Gracias", we are carried on powerful waves of emotion and beauty through these carols. It's exhausting.

This is not surprising when we learn Benjamin Britten wrote the music for "A Ceremony of Carols" while on board ship, a month long voyage crossing the Atlantic from North America to England in March of 1942. He was with his partner, Peter Pears, a well known tenor. They were personal as well as professional partners. This was also right in the middle of World War II and the sea wasn't the safest place to be, nor was England as bombs were falling on their cities. 

For the celebration of Christmas, peace on earth, goodwill toward men, Britten included both the harmony and dissonance which was the world around him. This is just right. Jesus wasn't born into a world of peace and goodwill, but into this struggling, imperfect one.

This little babe so few days old has come to rifle Satan's fold...

Dissonance occurs in music when two notes which are discordant are sung or played at the same time; a major or minor 2nd is the easiest example. It's the sound of tension and our minds want to resolve the tension by coming back to the harmony of a 3rd interval. The dissonance itself is not pleasant to listen to and only can achieve beauty by the context and harmony which is around it. 

Listen closely to the music and we can hear the dissonance in Benjamin Britten's world. We hear the joy as well, but the tension is never far away. It is interesting he was inspired by poems of Robert Southwell, a Catholic priest who was executed in England in 1595 for treason; being a Catholic priest in England for more than 40 days was a crime punished by death in those days. Perhaps Britten, being a gay man in the 1940's, understood Fr. Southwell's devotion and the danger he had to accept.

There's dissonance in our world again. Of course, there always is, but right now there seems to be more than ever. We don't know what to expect, but we dare not ignore what is happening, even if listening to the news sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. We have elected a president who has publicly made fun of disabled people, constantly and consistently puts women down, is backed by the KKK and Russia, prefers to communicate through Twitter, isn't interested in hearing security reports, among many other seriously concerning behaviors. We dare not ignore the racist comments made by the man who has been his closest adviser. We dare not ignore it when people feel empowered to harass others because of the color of their skin, their nationality, religion, or sexual/gender identity. 

We must dare to stand up to this new administration and refuse to allow a Muslim registry. We must encourage our state and local leaders to refuse to be a part of this.

There are people organizing. We don't need to do this alone. It's not one hero we need, but an entire chorus of voices. To be one voice in a chorus is to (to quote a friend) feel very small in a very big way. It's the acknowledgement that we are, and need to be, a community.

We need courage, but we also need joy. The darkest poem in this work ends with:

"If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy, then flit not from this heavenly boy"

The way a child expresses reverence is through joy. There is no other way. Whether we are expressing our reverence to God, to the earth, our home, to our families, or to life itself, to express this through joy is to give a crushing blow to those who want us to live in fear. These carols, even when the music is tense and the words speak of struggle, are filled with joy. Think of the struggle which was going on at the time Fr. Southwell wrote the poem and when Benjamin Britten wrote the music. At the end, the "Deo Gracias" is an urgent call to be thankful, but with a wonderful twist: 

"Adam lay ibounden, bounden in a bond; four thousand winter thought he not to long.

And all was for an appil, an appil that he tok, as clerkes finden written in their book.

Ne had the appil take ben, the appil take ben, 

Ne hadde never our lady a ben hevene quene.

Blessed be the time that appil take was, therefore we moun singen,

Deo Gracias!"

How thankful we should be that we are human... imperfect as we are. To stand with our fellow human beings, especially those whom our society has repeatedly tried to squash (marginalize seems much to sanitary a word) and those who need our support, and helping each other to find joy, this I believe is the work we are called to do.

Deo Gracias!

Here are the carols, sung by the Copenhagen Boys' Choir and conducted by Benjamin Britten. Each song is relatively short, the entire work is about 20 minutes. Thank you to the Internet Archive for the recording and lyrics to Benjamin Britten's beautiful music and for making this available to share with others. 

 

 


 

 

A Simple Tree

Terri Reinhart

We decided to get a small Christmas tree this year, just to keep things simple. Chris would prefer to have a small tree anyway, but most years, I intervene. This year we want to focus on family and making dinner on Christmas eve and preparing for guests on Christmas day. A small tree leaves more room for guests to be comfortable in our small house. I got it. 

Off to our regular Christmas tree lot at Wardle's Feed in Wheat Ridge. They were down to 9 trees, 4 of which were large, full, and over $50; the rest were sort of Charlie Brown trees without the charm. Back in the truck and off to another lot. This one had a lot of trees. At 25 degrees and windy, we made our choice quickly. It's a small tree, about 5' tall, but nice and full.

christmas tree.jpg

Back home, we got out the tree stand only to find out it is made to hold trees which are at least 5 inches in diameter. Ours is... maybe 4 inches. Close doesn't work with tree stands. I did a quick search on google for tree stands for small trees. It came up with a few available in our area. The closest one was at a Walmart. We do not shop Walmart.

I went to Walmart. To get to the particular Walmart which had this item in stock, I had to pass two other Walmart stores... on Wadsworth Blvd, which was going at a snail's pace with bumper to bumper traffic and road work. But I got there. They had two stands, one for larger trees and one for smaller trees. Unfortunately, the one for smaller trees was made for those at least 5 inches in diameter. 

On the bright side, I didn't spend any money at Walmart. This was good because I realized I had also left my purse at home. I spent the drive home (also on Wadsworth) thinking of all the possible ways to hold the tree in place in the larger stand. In fact, I let my inner Mattheus (my soon to be 7 year old inventor grandson) imagination go and, by the time I got home, had a complicated plan involving a piece of PVC pipe, more nuts and bolts, and power tools. 

Chris looked at me and said, "That's way too complicated. How about putting some gravel in the stand to see if that helps."

Sigh. He was right, of course, and I shushed my inner inventor who was sputtering, "but, but, but...". We put gravel in. Amazing! The tree stayed upright! Right up until I put the skirt around the base. We decided to sleep on it and try Plan B in the morning. 

Next morning: Maybe we needed some larger rocks to wedge it in? We siphoned off the water. We went out into the snow and dug around where we knew we had left some larger rocks. Bennie, our chiweenie, bravely followed me all the way to the garage before whimpering and turning back. It's 7 degrees out today and we have a foot of snow.

Digging out rocks in the snow ended up being worth the effort. The tree is now standing, as straight and sturdy as we're going to get it. We'd better be careful to balance the weight of the ornaments as we decorate the tree. Chris mentioned the possibility of guy wires. 

As soon as the tree was relatively stable, it seemed to me it would look much better if we had it on a small, low table. Chris suggested this would have been a fine idea IF we had done it before putting in all the stones, gravel, and water. He's right. Moving it now would be too complicated.

And this year we're keeping it simple

Christmas Pudding - A Holiday Adventure

Terri Reinhart

Cornelius, let's arrange a signal for you to give me.

If it's really an adventure, give me a signal. Say a word.

Say, like 'Pudding'.

All right, Barnaby. For adventure, 'Pudding'.”

(from the Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder)

 

“So, what are you making?”

I was caught by surprise and didn't even look around. I didn't have to. It had been some time since Mo, aka Marshmallow the Opinion Fairy, had come to visit, but I would have known her voice anywhere, anytime. I wasn't going to answer, but she had startled me and I'd almost dropped the pot of rice.

“Horchata. Don't talk for a minute, okay?!”

I heard a small hrrumph sort of sound and miraculously, it was quiet. I made Mo sit while I buzzed the rice mixture up in the blender then poured it through the sieve. Only when it was done, did I turn around and greet my old friend.

Mo: Old friend? Come on, I'm not so old.

Me: Don't get huffy, you know what I mean.

Mo: So, what's up with the horchata? It's not your usual Christmas treat.

Me: I know, but it sounded really good this year and I wanted to try making it.

Mo: Meaning, you've never made it before? What time is everyone coming over?

Me: Not till 4. You're welcome to stay.

It was nice to see her again, even though I knew she'd be challenging me at every turn. Already she was questioning my horchata. Really.

Mo: Thank you. I think I will stay. What else is for dinner? It smells good.

Me: Vegetable soup, chili, salad, squash and apples, carrots and green beans.

Mo: Sounds awfully healthy.

Me: Well, there's pumpkin pie, too. I made it with coconut milk and gluten free cookie crumbs in the crust.

Mo: What about your truffles? You always make truffles for Christmas.

Me: Not this year.

Mo: What? Why?

Me: We've been busy. Emma and I have been to Chicago twice in the last five weeks, we had lots of parties to attend, and then everyone got stomach flu. Besides, I'm trying to keep to a healthy diet.

Mo: And making your family and friends suffer along with you.

Me: I doubt they'd want truffles right now. Anyway, I'm kind of on my own here. Everyone else is still recouperating. Got to keep it simple.

Mo: Which means making horchata?

Me: I want something special and a nice cup of hot, spicy horchata sounds really good.

Mo: Hot? I thought it was served over ice.

Me: I know. All the recipes I've found say to serve it cold, but I've only had it hot. It can't be too difficult, can it? All I have to do is heat it up. I'm going to put it in the crock pot and keep it warm.

Now, if you wouldn't mind stirring the soup, I'll pour this into the crock pot, then start getting the dishes out.

We worked together for awhile. I was grateful for the help and the company. To be fair, my family had helped with a lot of the preparation earlier in the day, cutting up vegetables and such, but for the last hour or so, I had been working alone. Now, with Mo's help, everything was coming together. She even dusted the living room furniture.

After another hour had passed, we decided to give the horchata a taste test. I lifted the lid of the crock pot and dipped the ladle into the creamy hot mixture. The ladle came up out of the depths with a “gloooop” sound and what was inside looked like congealed oatmeal. I almost cried.

Mo: Uh, oh. What happened?

Me: I don't know, but I certainly can't serve this up to anyone.

Mo: Which is too bad, considering you've got about 3 gallons of it.

Me: There's got to be something we can do. Any inspirations?

Mo: Sorry. Wrong fairy. The Inspiration Fairy is my 3rd cousin. If you want my opinion...

Me: I'll ask for it. Until then, unless you have something nice to say or can work a miracle, don't.. say... anything.

Mo: !

No, she didn't start swearing. Something started to escape, but she clapped her hand over her mouth just in time. I was pleased. I still have an effective teacher look.

A few minutes later, she crept quietly up and tapped my arm. The next thing I knew, she had flown through the air backwards and had landed on top of the dog. I turned my teacher look on the dog and Mo escaped with only an affectionate lick. I helped her up.

Mo: What did you do that for? I didn't even say anything.

Me: I'm sorry, Mo. My meds are wearing off. It's not safe to surprise me right now. I never know what my arms will do when that happens.

Mo: Okay, okay. Give me a towel. Is it okay if I suggest something?

I handed her a washcloth and nodded. It was the least I could do.

Mo: Make rice pudding. It's congealing anyway, and it smells really good.

Me: Brilliant.

So, together we looked up a recipe for baked rice pudding. My mixture was congealed to the point where it wouldn't pour into the baking dish. I added a little bit of almond milk and a couple of beaten eggs. This was going to work!

We were ready. Dinner was done, the house was clean, the buffet table was set up, and the pudding was in the oven. Time to rest a little. I poured some Bailey's into a thimble sized cup for Mo and we sat back and chatted for awhile. When everyone came, I turned to introduce Mo, but she had vanished. Maybe she was afraid of my grandchildren.

Mo: I am NOT afraid of your grandchildren, I'm just not feeling very social right now.

Her voice had come from the direction of the Christmas tree. I looked over, but couldn't see where she was hiding. Once everyone arrived and was served, I put some dinner out for Mo on the fork of one of the branches. We had a wonderful evening. The little ones played and opened presents, and the rest of us talked together.

All too soon it was time for our evening to end. We said Merry Christmas and hugged and watched everyone as they went out into the cold night. When the door was locked and my family had drifted off to their various corners of the house, Mo came out from the tree.

Mo: How was the pudding?

Me: Pudding?

Mo: You know, the stuff you put in the oven to bake?

Me: OHMYGODIFORGOTALLABOUTIT!

After startling, Mo began to laugh and laugh. I went in, turned off the oven and opened the door, fully expecting to find a rice loaf, a rice brick, or just simply rice hardened onto the baking dish. I took it out and did what the recipe told me to do. I checked for doneness with a knife. For some reason, Mo collapsed in giggles again. To my surprise, the knife didn't bounce off, but it didn't come out clean, either. I dipped a spoon in the pudding and it came out with a glooop noise and the stuff inside the spoon was the consistency of congealed cream of wheat.

We were making progress.

Not deterred, I spooned some into dishes for Mo and me. Then I added a little Bailey's. I think we just invented something new. It's not bad.

Just don't ask me how to make it.