March 13th, 2008


.99 of Perfect

Today has been .99 of perfect. We had planned a trip to Champaign with janetmiles and her husband Dale, who are visiting from out-of-state; and it turned out that my cousin and her boyfriend were also in town, so they got added in, along with several other friends, in varying combinations through the day. We had lunch at Manolo's.

Then we split up for a while, with me and janetmiles going to the fabric store. My habit of sewing while talking has netted me another "Could you make...?" request. We found three suitable patterns for her, and picked up fabric and notions for a blouse and a jacket. The only place the day lost a point was that there wasn't enough of the violet fabric I'd picked out for a project of mine. Ah well. We picked up Dale, whom we'd dropped off at Barnes & Noble, and discovered that he'd gotten me a book for my birthday, early. Squee!

Then we went to Priceless Books, a favorite used-book store in Champaign, where we met up with other folks. I came out with an armload of books. I love it when they put textbooks and stuff in boxes out front, cheap. This time I found a reader that had all the explanations in it about what to look for in each type of writing -- fiction, poetry, and so forth. That's going to come in handy for Grey School class development.

On the way out of the bookstore, we stopped at Heartland Gallery. They carry local art, jewelry, and other delights from local artists plus Celtic imports. Featured artists who had business cards on the take-one table included Joe Ethridge (photography), Brock Peoples Photography, Sharon Collins-Masel (watercolor), Jan Chandler (photography, paintings, calligraphy), William R. Roy (artist), and Sherry Corbin (stoneware & porcelain). This place is new to us; it's been there about a year; and we will be going back. We also discovered that there was a harp concert scheduled for the evening. Instant addition to our plans.

We had supper at Mandarin Wok, mostly dim sum. We got to order a lot of different items. The hazelnut cakes and the king shrimp dumplings especially stuck in my mind, but really it was all terrific.

The harp concert featured Claire Roche (harpist, harper, and singer) and John of Celtic Ways (storyteller). Claire played both folk harp (the large kind that sits on the floor, and is played by a harper) and orchestral harp (the gigantic carved and gilded kind that also sits on the floor, and is played by a harpist). In fact, the grand finale involved playing both at once! Her music was warm and mellow, with a magical ambiance that fills the available space. (Or what space was left between the people: we packed that little store wall-to-wall.) She sang in English and Gaelic. I love the delicate gliding vowels of Irish-flavored English and of Gaelic. Ordinary pronuciation guides don't really do them justice; you have to hear the real thing. So at the first break I scurried forth and bought two of her three CDs, and then later Doug bought the third one. Favorite songs from the performance included "The Rose of Tralee," "The Clergy's Lamentation," "Down by the Salley Gardens," a hymn to Bhride, and "Brian Boru's March." I was also impressed with the elegance of "The Robin's Jaunt," one of the original tunes. Claire even got a roomful of people to sing along with "Molly Malone" and a couple of others; I love the community resonance of group singing. John's performance of Irish myths put me in mind of times long past; his voice really carries the history. If you enjoy Celtic music, follow the links. Also, these folks lead tours of Ireland's mystical places. I haven't had the pleasure of that, but I suspect they do a rare fine job of that too.

Finally, we went out for dessert at Culver's, which is a favorite place for separate dessert. Doug and I had the Bananas Foster sundae, which was splendid. janetmiles had the flavor of the day, "Turtledove," which involved chocolate, marshmallow, and pecans. Culver's actually does a different flavor every day; they had a whole menu for the March flavors.

There are days you know that you'll remember forever. Days that will be there, pressed like rosepetals in memory's album, at the close of life. If you're lucky, you know those days before they're over. Today I was lucky.

When Not To Post

e_cunningham has posted a useful list of times and topics not suitable for posting to LiveJournal. This applies mainly to professional blogs, rather than personal blogs, but in any case is a good prompt for starting discussions. I was amused to recall, for instance, that in my last poll three different people asked me for more personal posts.