The People Raise Their Hands

Rush kicked off their latest tour at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire last Friday night. Their latest album, Clockwork Angels, has been getting mostly good reviews, and I spent a lot of time listening to it over the summer in anticipation of this concert. Having bought two tickets in a simultaneous burst of passion and foolishness (though the two do often seem to go together, don’t they?), I was glad to have one of my brothers-in-law named Randy along with me to share the experience. (I actually have three brothers-in-law, but only two of them are named Randy, though maybe we can work on Brian and change that.)

After the Time Machine tour experience in 2010, I went prepared with ear plugs to sensibly limit hearing loss while, hopefully, still enjoying the music. Pulling into Manchester and finding parking (for a hefty price!) across from the arena I threw caution to the winds and left the ear plugs in the car. Inside the arena I was a little surprised at its size, which seemed small, though I guess it seats about as many as the Mohegan Sun Arena, and about half again as many as our local Cumberland County Civic Center.

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Planning Ahead

Tomorrow morning: Coordinate roadside cleanup
108 hours from now: Drive to Baltimore
7 days from now: Drive home
9 weeks 2 days from now: 24th wedding anniversary
11 weeks from now: Tour Maine and New Brunswick by motorcycle
12 weeks from now: Turn 49 years old
4 months 1 week from now: Go to my second ever Rush concert
7 months 8 days from now: World ends, at least according to the Mayans.

Oh, right, there’s a presidential election in there somewhere. So much for ending on a high note.

Maybe a Fundraiser?

The city of Biddeford, Maine has been trying to get rid of the Maine Energy Recovery Corporation (MERC) waste-to-energy plant and out of its in-town location for years (or, for those of you from away, that’s pronounced “yee-ahs”), practically since it opened. Most recently the city came up with a way to purchase and close the darned thing and get rid of the garbage smell, which is only a problem if you happen to be downwind, once and for all.

Apparently this won’t happen right away, however, because the Legislature killed a bill that was needed to allow the deal to go forward. Maybe they can find a Pink Floyd tribute band to do a benefit concert of “Animals” to help raise the several million it will cost. There is a little resemblance to the Battersea Power Station, don’t you think? Just a little?

Journals & Blogs

I never wrote in a journal, never kept a diary, not seriously anyway, until 1998. Blogging was still several years away but 1998 was the year of The Ice Storm, the year my mother had a stroke, and the year I turned thirty-five, which I sometimes refer to as the year I was finally old enough to be President but was smart enough to know it would never happen. Those of you who were in Maine at the time know which storm I mean. And, in time, we recovered from the storm as my mother recovered from her stroke. But I didn’t completely recover from journal writing – almost, but not completely.

For about ten years I wrote pretty faithfully, often several times a week. My writing became part of an evening ritual, especially on Sunday nights. I would sit at my desk listening to St. Paul Sunday, Pipedreams, and With Heart and Voice on Maine Public Radio. I enjoyed the act of writing, putting ink on paper. At the time I was much more into fountain pens and writing was as much an aesthetic exercise as anything. And I’ve got both larger bound books, small Moleskine notebooks, spiral bound and other notebooks, some full and others mostly empty because I got them when I didn’t have any of my other journals or notebooks with me to write in.

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And Then There Were None

When we moved here fifteen years ago there were two big old maple trees in front of the house, and a stump where there had been a third not too long ago. The stump, occasionally used as a reviewing stand by our girls when they were little and waved goodbye to their grandparents, is now nearly gone.

A couple of years ago half of one of the remaining trees fell, taking our phone lines down with it. Shortly after that a tree crew came and removed the rest of it. It took weeks to get MCI and Fairpoint to restore our telephone service, but that’s another story.

Last fall the remnants of Hurricane Irene took down about half of the lone surviving maple in front of our house. Today a tree crew is here taking the rest of it down. These trees were planted probably about a hundred years ago and did an admirable job shading the house from summer afternoon sun. Now the front lawn will be bare but for the decaying stumps.

It snowed yesterday, which means the tree crew is tracking all over the front lawn, scattering twigs and wood chips. Goodness knows what the lawn will look like in the spring. Today, all that’s missing is “miles of yellow tape, silhouetted chalk lines” (playing over and over in my head) for it to look like a crime scene.

Maybe we’ll plant a couple of new trees in the spring.

Once in Royal David’s City

Advent┬áhas come and gone again. Christmas day, too, and now we count down the last of the twelve days. For more than a week, in many cases, trees (real and artificial, green, pink, white, silver, plastic, aluminum) have been taken down and thrown out or packed away with the rest of the decorations. We spent the four weeks of Advent gradually lighting candles to symbolize the coming of the light of Christ into the world. It seems a shame to snuff it out so soon, much as Scrooge tried to do with the Ghost of Christmas Past (but that’s another story, and another tradition). So, as part of our family’s tradition, we keep the candles (or what’s left of them) burning – at least for a couple of hours – every night until Epiphany.

One of my own personal Christmas traditions has been to listen to the live broadcast of the “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” from King’s College, Cambridge. I missed it this year but, fortunately, have a copy of the festival from 1998 or 1999 to listen to. I know that by the middle of December I’ve heard about enough of “Santa Baby” and “Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey” and been beaten into submission by holiday themed commercials (especially for cars, and even more especially for Lexus’ “December to Remember” sale). But even now I am still a little sad to have the season come to and end, and to pack away the decorations, and the festival of lessons and carols for another year.

In three months’ time we will celebrate the same light in a different way, at the Easter Vigil. Fortunately, at least so far, Easter hasn’t been completely overtaken by commercialism (don’t see any Easter car sales commercials, do you?). And I can look forward to hearing the Exsultet by candlelight again.

Time Travel

Monday night our middle daughter and I saw Rush in concert at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut (see my earlier post on this subject). For all the years I have been listening to Rush, I had never seen them in person and was really looking forward to it. I mean really looking forward to it, so much that I might have been setting myself up for disappointment. I shouldn’t have worried.

The concert was largely an exercise in nostalgia, though there were a couple of new songs from their upcoming album, and no little amount of poking fun at themselves and their fans. For some, poking fun at your fans might be dangerous, but Rush has been around long enough, established enough of a relationship with their fans, and gained enough respect (grudging, in some corners, like the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, for example) that they can not only get away with it, but revel in it, embracing their inner (or not so inner) nerdiness.

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