TBT: Mahler’s Composing Shack

We’re getting into the time of year when my personal creativity seems to spark.  I should be way more productive creatively in the summer, when I enjoy loads of unstructured time, but I find that I work better in the constrains and confines of a busy schedule.  For whatever reason, that extra pressure helps me to eke out, if not diamonds, then at least some lesser gems.

One well from which I have drawn some considerable inspiration the last couple of years was my Pre-AP Music Appreciation class.  It was a broad survey of Western music from the medieval period to the present, with a strong emphasis on the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods.  Due to a combination of scheduling difficulties and lower enrollment last year, the class did not run this year.

On the one hand, I’m thankful—it’s given me more time to focus on other endeavors.  On the other, I do miss the almost-daily baptism in the works of some of the greatest composers in the Western canon.

One element of the course that was particularly intriguing was learning about the lives and creative processes of the composers.  Many of them lived quite tragic lives; others (rarer, it seems, among composers) lived quite contentedly.

Gustav Mahler seemed to have developed a nice little work routine, as detailed in this post from October 2021.  I like the idea of having a stripped-down cottage by the sea, with a healthy breakfast brought to me as I work.  Sounds like the good life!

With that, here is 13 October 2021’s “Mahler’s Composing Shack“:

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TBT: The Weather

Hurricane Ian is swirling about, sending everything and everyone into a tizzy (folks in Florida, please be safe).  It’s also thrown a windy wrench into my schedule, which was already planned down to the minute for nearly every day this week.

Well, no use crying over spilt rainwater.  I’m thankful for the relative safety of the inland, and that we live in a time when we have some advanced warning about the impending meteorological apocalypses that routinely batter us.

This hurricane aside, we’ve been enjoying some pleasant weather here in South Carolina—it almost feels like fall!  The mornings have been crisp and cool, and even required a light jacket one day last week.  Here’s hoping the sweater weather descends soon.

Here’s hoping my readers in Florida and along the coastal regions of the Southeast are safe.  Audre, be sure to batten down the hatches.

With that, here is 29 September 2021’s “The Weather“:

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TBT^4: The Joy of Autumn

Today is the first day of autumn.  It’s about dang time!

Granted, I realize that autumn shows up on the calendar the same time every year.  Whether (weather?) or not it makes a meteorological appearance or not, however, is a bit dicey in South Carolina.  It’s very likely to be quite warm today—in the mid-nineties as of the time of this writing.  We’re enjoying some cooler, crisper mornings, with a bit lower humidity, but it’s still very much summer here in South Carolina.

Nevertheless, pumpkin spiced-everything is already in stores, so even if it feels like we’re about to attend a pool party, we can enjoy the tastes of autumn here.

Autumn is my favorite season, even though it is fleeting.  The period from Labor Day through Christmas is a blur of activity, with nary a weekend free for all the fall activities we see on television and in the movies.  Apple picking looks fun, but who has the time?

On the plus side, Halloween will be here soon.  It seems that folks have started decorating much earlier this year than usual—or have I missed something?  Some people had decorations up in August, which seems as blasphemous as hanging Christmas lights before Thanksgiving.

But I digress.  With that, here is 23 September 2022’s “TBT^2: The Joy of Autumn“:

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TBT: The Frisson of the Night

The night has always been a time of excitement, a time when—as I wrote a year ago—music “lives.”  There’s something exhilarating and fun about the night, which is why I chose the word “frisson” to convey the tantalizing possibilities of the night.

I’m more of a morning person these days, rising early, well before the dawn.  Well, isn’t that just another way of saying “the late, late night”?  There’s not much exciting happening at 5 AM (other than reading the Bible and talking to God), but it’s still pretty dark out.  Try waking up then and you’ll see!

Still, there is a real appeal to the night.  I’m at my most alert and mentally focused in the morning and—you guessed it—at night.  Afternoons would be naptime for yours portly, if I had my druthers—and a schedule that permitted it.

Regardless, night is when everything interesting happens.  It’s the time when things go bump.  It’s probably when Bigfoot comes out to play, too.

With that, here is 15 September 2021’s “The Frisson of the Night“:

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TBT: Counting Blessings

In searching through some old blog posts recently, I stumbled upon one from April 2020 about being thankful for the blessings in our lives.  The day before I’d written what I thought at the time was a doom-and-gloom post, but reading it now, it wasn’t too bad.  I do seem to remember being in an exasperated mood when I wrote it, so that probably explains, in part, the sense of contrition I experienced after writing it.

Regardless, it yielded “Counting Blessings,” a post giving thanks for God’s many blessings in my life.  It’s rather serendipitous that I stumbled upon this post again the other day, because the theme of counting one’s blessings is one I’ve been contemplating quite a bit lately.

Life is going well enough for yours portly (I’d better not say that too loudly!).  Work is clipping along and I’m hustling big time with lessons.  I have a great (and godly) girlfriend, dog, and house, and a supportive family.  Things could be worse.

With that here is 29 April 2022’s “Counting Blessings“:

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TBT: Road Trip!

Note—when I first scheduled this post, I was still scheduled to go to Florida.  Due to The Virus afflicting one of my girlfriend’s sisters, we’ve postponed that trip.  So, instead, we’re going to do a little road-tripping around South Carolina this weekend.  We’ll be getting down to Florida in December, though, so while my return to Florida is delayed, I’m looking forward to visiting down there later this year.  Just pray for my sweet girlfriend—while we will have fun this weekend, I know she is heartbroken that she won’t get to see her family as planned.  —TPP

Tomorrow after school I’ll be riding down with my girlfriend to visit with her family in Florida.  After The Year of Universal Studios back in 2020, I haven’t made it back down that way in awhile, and I’m looking forward to a few days over Labor Day weekend in sunny central Florida.

We’ll be taking the Interstate Highway System most of the way, and I doubt there’ll be many backroads, but I’ve always enjoyed cruising the less-traveled pathways to see what little bits of Americana are out there, waiting to be discovered.  There’s still plenty of what John Derbyshire calls the “old, weird America” out there, and I love finding it (and, perhaps, living in it!).

Well, even if we aren’t hitting many backroads, I’m excited to be out and about on another footloose adventure!

With that, here is 22 July 2022’s “Road Trip!“:

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TBT^4: Back to School with Richard Weaver

We’re back into the swing of things with the new school year, and as of the time of this writing, I have not yet made my annual dip into the introduction to Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences.  That’s due in part to my morning Bible study, which has taken precedence over other, non-work-related reading, and because I’m weary with how accurate Weaver’s prophetic scribblings are.

I’m by no means black pilled, though.  Sure, things are not good at the moment, but life goes on and God Is in Control.  The solution is not to embrace the black pill, but to take the Christ Pill.

Regardless, we can take some joy in our daily lives while recognizing the real dangers facing liberty and civilization.  Being a Christian shouldn’t have to mean accepting the erosion of religious liberty and the secularization of our culture.  Indeed, we’ve probably been too complacent, especially on the latter point.

As such, Richard Weaver’s insights are still worth pondering today.  Studying the diagnosis could suggest a cure, or at least a course of treatment.

With that, here is 20 August 2020’s “TBT^2: Back to School with Richard Weaver“:

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TBT: Rebuilding Civilization: The Hunter-Gatherer

Yours portly is back at school, which always gets me thinking about the future of our civilization.  Children are the future, allegedly, and the Bible pretty much says that if you’re a bad teacher who leads kids astray, you’re going to Hell—yikes!  In short, there’s a big responsibility to do the job well, and not to screw up the kids, since they’ll be running things in thirty or forty years or so.

Of course, our mode of living is quite different from the hunter-gatherers of yore—and those of today.  Their lives are substantially different from our own, to the point they’d likely survive whatever catastrophic event might destroy the rest of us here in the “civilized” world.

Still, for all the problems that come with civilization, I rather like it.  Air-conditioning and Hot Pockets are pretty nice luxuries, and I like knowing I can get a pizza in thirty minutes if I really want one.  The only hunting I have to do is hunting for a coupon; the only gathering is picking my figs (and my neighbor mostly does that).

Nevertheless, we’d all do well to take a page from the hunter-gatherer’s playbook and appreciate the simple things in life—and maybe work a few less hours each day.  Well, maybe.

With that, here is 25 August 2021’s “Rebuilding Civilization: The Hunter-Gatherer“:

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TBT: Preserving Old Varieties

On Saturday I wrote a bit about an arrangement my neighbor and I have regarding my fig trees and grapevines:  I grow them, he picks them—and makes them into delicious preserves.  He’s also provided me with heirloom broccoli plants, which I shamefully think have largely died (though two stalks have somehow soldiered on through the hot summer months; I’m surprised they survived the heat!), and he grows an impressive garden himself.

So when casting about for this week’s TBT feature, this post about the Bradford watermelon—a variety thought lost to the world—fit neatly with what was already fresh on my mind.

There is so much variety out there compared to what the supermarkets put on offer.  We’d probably all be a lot happier and a good bit healthier if we tried some of these old varieties.

With that, here is 24 August 2021’s “Preserving Old Varieties“:

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