Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas blog

Well, it is that time of the year again and in the shops and garden centres serried ranks of thousands of Christmas trees, lean against each other in their rows, sadly waiting to die slowly having been cruelly deprived of their roots. A time of year when people forget green and spend oodles of money on lights and kilowatts of electricity in order to impress the neighbours. Although to be fair, some do it for charities and collect money for good causes, but I can’t help thinking that like fireworks, our festive activities do rather blow the idea of the nation’s low carbon footprint out of the water.

At home, we do not go in for much show, but have a few decorations which you can only really see when inside the house. They are after all just for us to enjoy and any friends who happen by.

One thing that we have kept from an older tradition is this small Santa teddy. It was bought when the kids were small enough to find Christmas an exciting event and a fully decorated house was a must. Since they lost their mother one Christmas many years ago, it has taken the sense of joy a while to return and this year, teddy has once more come back from his long hibernation in the loft to celebrate Christmas once more. So here’s to absent friends… and to all you blogging types out there, a happy Christmas or Yule or whatever it is you celebrate in whatever name, have a good one.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Catchup Part 7 - Going Home

I still have not finished catching up with all my pending blogs and even though it was June when we came home, by my blog cronology, we are still in the USA.
The Son (TS) and family subscribe to The Kansas City Orchestra and they can get tickets for their performances at the Kauffman Centre of the Performing Arts in Kansas City. This concert hall is a spectacular piece of architecture and quite new.   

The programme commenced with Mozart’s 40th Symphony, followed by Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony.  This was The Grandson’s (TG’s) introduction to a full classical orchestra and was not a good programme for a novice. Unfortunately TS and The Daughter In Law (TDIL) did not have much choice, because this was the only programme we could attend on their concession tickets during our stay.  Mozart, whilst a wonderful composer, is not always beginner’s stuff and the particular symphony only had one recognisable piece that he may have heard before whilst the rest was pure intellectual Mozart.  The contrast to that and Strauss was marked.   Although I was blown away by Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, which is a very powerful piece to listen to live and the performance was first class, TG was less than impressed.  He obviously felt the whole thing went on far too long and it has probably put him off that kind of thing for a while.   I am not sure if I would have been very receptive at his age, but I grew into classics in my teenage years and anyway, I tend to prefer more modern composers to Mozart. However, I do like some in particular his requiem. 

After all the travelling we had done the final two weeks in Kansas seemed quiet and uneventful, until I had an email from my sister.  Her older son had come across one of those stories you hear from time to time about a man who lived alone and had been found dead by his neighbours. My nephew thought it may be his uncle from my first marriage.  Although he had had regular contact with me and his aunt for many years whilst she was alive, he had not had a great deal of contact with his uncle who lived a distance way from all our family, working in different places around England, so he was not sure if it really was him.  Having been alerted I found the article about him on the Internet and sure enough it was my erstwhile brother in law.  Since his sister had died, I had only had occasional contact with him and I had lost contact with him almost completely over the last few years.   He had never married and had always lived alone, his work taking him all over the country he had finally settled in a small town in Wiltshire.  It turned out he had died just before, or about the time we set off for Canada.  
The vivid and intense nightmare I had experienced soon after we arrived in Kansas, where I had dreamed one of my relations had died, suddenly took on more significance. 
I contacted the British authorities and made arrangements to take on the responsibility for his affairs, the funeral and so on and so on that sad note we prepared to fly home.
Unlike our last visit, our flight home was uneventful and on time and we duly arrived back home jet lagged and unprepared for the task ahead.