Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the 6th Day of Christmas: Randomness

I’m getting a little concerned: this morning, there were six squirrels around the bird feeder on the back porch. And a dove in the Japanese maple, waiting patiently. The four doe who’d been through the yard the other night (perhaps other nights as well, only I can’t see them in the darkness) had also discovered the Epimeium “Orange Queen” I’d planted under the maple this spring, its delicate, pale green leaves looking like they should’ve shriveled up and died after a frost long ago until I discovered it is in fact an evergreen. Oddly enough, the Epimeium (or Epimedium), also known as barrenwort or bishop’s cap, appears on a list of “Deer-Resistant Plants.” Well, it became a snack for these deer. Another source says “Cut its leaves to the ground in January or early February, for they will soon become tattered. Removing these old leaves also allows the new flowers to take center stage.” One chore, down...

Better than yesterday, it’s not that today was a particularly successful day, working on the Interludes: several hours spent at the piano throughout the day resulted in a lot of trial-runs for a three-measure passage but nothing so far definitively usable. Nothing on the two pages I scribbled over today looks like it will find its way into the final product, but that too is part of the process, working out various possibilities and trying others if those don’t pan out. The challenge is not to become discouraged. You have to learn how to be tenacious and just keep on going, even after several attempts may have proven unsuccessful when it’s easy to feel you’ve wasted hours or maybe days.

This afternoon, while getting my lunch ready and looking through some old papers from my mother’s desk, I found a letter written to my dad. Even though he’d been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for over a decade, then, he still managed on good days to draw cartoons on the envelopes of some of his letters or cards, sometimes disguising the address within a caption or perhaps as part of the graphic (I doubt the post office would bother delivering things like this, today). Rather than just write a fan letter, he might create his own original card with another cartoon. Presumably, it was one such card that got him this response: short but pleasant, it reads,

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“Dear Norm,

I got a great kick out of your card, envelope and everything else connected with your masterpiece. Thanks for thinking of us and I hope that one of these days we can give all you loyal fans a national championship.

Again, thanks. Best wishes and regards.

Joseph V. Paterno
Head Football Coach
Pennsylvania State University.”

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The letter is dated January 25th, 1973.

Thirty-six years later, the legendary Joe Paterno is still the head football coach at Penn State, recently renewing his contract for another three years. For those of you “not from around here,” JoePa (as most Penn State Fans refer to him) had hip surgery a few weeks ago, but he’s in Pasadena, California, to coach his team at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. Speaking of tenacious...

Oh yeah, in 1973, postage was 8 cents.

- Dr. Dick

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