01 December 2009

7 Loves

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I have been tagged by Skirmish of Wit to list 7 things I love. True to my nature, I find it very hard to limit myself to just seven things. Suffice it to say I love, love, love books, food, travel, classical music, and television. But those are big, broad categories and I am tempted to list seven things for EACH of them, but that seems to defy the spirit of the challenge. So, I decided to find a few specific things that serve as examples of some of the broader themes listed above. They are in no particular order.

7 (Specific) Loves

Mutts
We can’t wait to get a dog, hopefully sometime in early 2010. And although there are some breeds that I take a shine to (like Golden Retrievers), there is nothing quite like a cute, lovable mutt. Especially one rescued from a shelter.


Pipe Organs
I get a fair amount of teasing for this one. Apparently the sound of a pipe organ is an acquired taste. But I find the sound magnificent. The variety and power of the sounds available in even smaller instruments is impressive, but when you get a really big mother going it is a sound you literally and physically feel as much as hear. And I love the way they look. The pipe cases are beautifully sculptural and architectural and they are usually in the stunning surroundings of a cathedral or a grand hall. (Passau Cathedral shown below.)


Seeing and hearing organs is often a highlight of my travels. I have collected postcards from all over the USA and Europe of organ cases. And a few years ago my husband got me the best birthday present I think I will ever receive. He arranged for me to spend an hour, one-on-one, with the organist of Washington National Cathedral at the console of the one of the largest instruments in the country, if not the world. I can’t play a note, but I do look good sitting at the console don’t you think?

Excel
In general I love to organize things. I love to sort, and throw, and donate, and stack, and line up, and tidy, and well, organize. And I love to organize data in an Excel spreadsheet. There isn’t much that doesn’t benefit from a good Excel spreadsheet. From all the books I have read since 1994, to concerts, budgets, CDs, travel arrangements, you name it.

Sissinghurst
A few summers ago when John and I were in London we spent a day at Sissinghurst, once the home of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson. Between Vita’s cozy study in the tower and the amazing gardens, Sissinghurst is a little slice of heaven. Even with lots of tourists it was possible to find a quiet spot at the edge of the orchard looking across the moat to the surrounding pastures. It’s a place I could sit for hours.


Fonts and Graphic Design
I love good graphic design in general (please don't judge me by my poorly designed blog), but am particularly fond of fonts and their use in graphic design. No doubt this is tied to my love of the written word, books, letters, etc. One of the reasons I loved our visit to the Plan Museum in Antwerp in October. But I love fonts and good graphic design wherever it is, books, signs, stationary, posters, product packaging. If you haven’t been there, The Book Design Review is a great place to see some of the best and most interesting book covers out there. There is also a site called Brand New that is all about corporate branding with lots of before and after images of logo redesigns. And don’t even get me started on the brilliance of the graphic design on the London Underground. I am probably going to blog about that one of these days.

The Alcotts movement from Charles Ives’ Concord Sonata
I urge you to immerse yourself in this movement from Charles Ives’ Concord Sonata. I think this is one of the most sublime six minutes of music every written. The interpretation on this video isn’t my favorite but it still does the trick. I think she is a little too bombastic and literal with the Beethoven quotations at about 1:44 minutes, but the performance overall is pretty satisfying. There are a few commercial recordings of the sonata available. My favorite is by Canadian Marc-Andre Hamelin.

Charles Ives was an American composer (and fulltime businessman) whose output can sometimes challenge even modern ears. In his Concord Sonata he gives a movement each to American transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau.



Modes of Transportation
When it comes to planes, boats, trains, and to a lesser extent, cars I turn into a 12-year old. I am particularly fascinated with fixed-rail public transport systems. I love the variety from city to city. Light rail, heavy rail. Underground, overground. Stations, platforms, and signage. It all fascinates me. On one trip to London, I took the District Line out to Wimbledon, hopped on the light rail to Croydon, then took British Rail back into town. All just for the fun of it, and to see (and ride) the new light rail line. (The tram shown is in Grenoble, not London.)

And I am one of those people who buy those airliner magazines that are like commercial jet porn. Except instead of buxom blondes or hunky guys, the centerfolds are pictures of jets taking off and landing or showing off new (or old) livery. (That’s right, the paintjob on a plane is referred to as its livery. How cool is that?)

Now I need to tag seven others. I realize you may not want to (or have the time to) participate, but if you do, let us know about your 7 Loves.

The B Files

Savidge Reads

Periodic Pearls

KyusiReader

Paperback Reader

Books and  Border Collies

Stuck in a Book

17 comments:

  1. What an awesomely thoughtful gift...that hour with the organist. I am completely biased towards Goldens. They are my favorite dogs even though they have a maddening ability to shed a whole other dog. Excel slightly scares me but only because I cannot even begin to fathom all its capabilities. I enjoyed reading your list of loves.

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  2. Super list! I agree it's so hard to pick just 7. That's a great pic of you. I am *hopeless* with excel - wish I shared your talent!

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  3. Books, Cats, Food, Red Wine, Travel, Movies/TV, Victorian dollhouses!

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  4. That's a fabulous list! I am also a huge fan of organizing things in Excel- it's amazing when you can use the formulas and so frustrating when you can't. I also like pipe organs (in theory, having only encountered them a few times).

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  5. I get the pipe organs and trains, I love trains and dogs of course but excel, that one is different, you must be a very organised person.
    By the way I bought Upstairs Downstairs yesterday, mainly for my mum but my 16 yr old and I curled up on the couch and watched it all afternoon.

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  6. What a fun post. Love the pictures and the music, too.

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  7. Yay for rescue mutts! :-)

    Lezlie

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  8. Book Psmith: I can understand your bias. If I went for a purebreed a Golden would be my choice.

    Skirmish: Thanks for tagging me. With a little tutoring anyone can use Excel.

    Paperback Reader: Do you have a Victorian dollhouse?

    Aarti: Although I feel very comfortable with Excel, I think my knowledge may be starting to get a little stale. The new version seems to have some features about which I am clueless.

    Bookpusher: I am glad you got UD and that your daugher liked it. Did you start from the beginning? My favorite episode is when the King comes to dinner. Mrs. Bridges really outdid herself that night.

    CB: Thanks, you should list your 7 Loves as well. Consider yourself tagged.

    Lezlie: We saw one this weekend at the shelter that was lab/border collie. He was really cute.

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  9. Nice list. Yay for pipe organs! I took organ lessons for a couple semesters in college and I loved how powerful an instrument it was. And you get to play notes with your feet!

    I also enjoy different modes of transportation. On a trip in France, we traveled by plane, train, subway, light rail, bus, taxi, and my favorite: the funicular.

    - Christy

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  10. Thanks for tagging me - I shall think about doing this! It was so interesting to read your list, and I am envious of your visit to Sissinghurst.

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  11. Yes, I have two and collect all the furniture and things for inside; my sister has just started to do the same.

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  12. Christy: I've played a few chords or two (making sure the both feet were engaged as well) but that is about it.

    Verity: The (female) taxi driver who drove us from the rather desolate train station to Sissinghurst had lived there her whole life and had never bothered to see what all the fuss was about. I almost gave her the cost of admission so she could check it out on her day off.

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  13. What a great list (and post)! Love it all (especially Sissinghurst, Ives, and airplanes . . . I had no idea airplane decoration was called livery!).

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  14. Thank you so much for tagging me in this. I may very well follow suit though thinking of seven would be hard, the way things are going on the blog and all need to fit in before 2010 am not sure when I will be able to do this but will try!

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  15. Babes also loves organs and fonts. He even made me go see a documentary called Helvetica in the cinema. I was the only girl there. The rest were guys. Some of them had backpacks and sandwiches. Some of them were taking notes. Best 2 hours sleep I've ever had.

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  16. Inkslinger: Yeah I love the use of the word livery. And I am glad you mentioned Ives. A few summers ago we were on roadtrip going through his hometown in western Connecticut (the name of which escapes me at the moment)and I made a stop at his house. It is only open at certain times and looked pretty abandoned.

    Simon S. I look forward to your list.

    Overdue: LOL about the film Helvetica. I loved it! But I am glad you got some sleep.

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  17. OH! I just read a book about Sissinghurst!
    It was about Dawn Langley Simmons (formerly Gordon Langley Hall) and the mystery of his hermaphroditism (not a real word). His parents were caretakers at Sissinghurst, and he practically grew up there! Great to see pictures of it.

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