Wednesday, November 28, 2007

stealing music

I found out today on one of my LiveJournal groups (psych folk) that someone had illegally uploaded the tracks from a recently-issued music compilation called John Barleycorn Reborn, curated by Mark Coyle of The Unbroken Circle and Woven Wheat Whispers. I saw it posted and thought, naw, they could not really be offering this for free when Mark and his group have only recently offered it for a nominal fee?

But then Mark posted to the thread and said it was an illegal download that needed to be removed immediately. So far the thread is still there with links, and no response to Mark's request other than my own admonishment that people should buy this collection, especially given Mark's generosity and tireless efforts to promote and distribute music by contemporary musicians who perform psych folk music.

I see this sort of thing and then think of how many of my students and other people I know think nothing of "ripping" movies and copying music illegally...who do they think pays these musicians and filmmakers and other people who create this stuff? Not every film or record is made by some huge corporate entity. To steal creative output from artists who already live hand to mouth is unconscionable.

What makes it worse is that this album was created in part to appeal to pagan minded folks, and the idea that such folk would consider stealing something that could be had for a reasonable price, especially when it meant making it difficult for such music to be on offer in the future, makes me sad and angry.

ETA: the original poster (who is 19 years old apparently) took the upload down and apologized. Mark posted a polite reply explaining the delicate dynamics of how his group works to support and promote contemporary music. I wish the LJ psych folk community would stick to uploading and file sharing only that music that in long out of print and widely unavailable, and save their sharing of current music for private use among their friends.

Monday, November 26, 2007

November musing

(The photo is "Pomona" by Julia Margaret Cameron)

Goddess of the orchards: where do you go in winter? Do you merely sit beneath a favorite tree and let the frost and ice and snow preserve you until springthaw? Are you hightailing it to the tropics? Are you hoarding bags of grain and bushels of fruit in your cold cellar? Do you order pizzas and pore over gardening catalogs by candlelight? I hope your winter is warm and healing. Thanks for the fruit.

November weather is confounding. Robert Bly evokes some intriguing thoughts in this simple poem:

The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!

My last walk in the trees has come. At dawn
I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.

It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odors that partridges love.

- Robert Bly, "Solitude Late at Night in the Woods"

I love the golden beauty of November, the winds that carry the mist of heavy dark mornings, usually warmer than seems possible, then turning cold and mean in minutes. I love the way colors meld into one another until some daring hues burst forth in a last passionate yelp of life: the rich yellow beeches, the bright pink fothergilla, the deep crimson Japanese maples, the last vivid blooms on die-hard snapdragons, asters and chrysanthemums. This sonnet describes the month's beauty in familiar and warming images:

I am rich today with autumn's gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold;
Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod,
A goldfinch on a milkweed pod,
Huge golden pumpkins in the field
With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield,
Golden apples heavy on the trees
Rivaling those of Hesperides,
Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread
Over all like butter on warm bread;
And the harvest moon will this night unfold
The streams running full of molten gold.
Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!

- Gladys Harp

I love the multitude of crows at dusk that gather for their soiree of screeching song. I see them on my daily walks this time of year, watch them fly from all across the area to a wooded spot behind the orphanage/school in my neighborhood, I stand beneath the trees they sit in and watch them flit to and fro. Their chatter comforts and intrigues me. The sight of them against the greying sky and naked branches makes me catch my breath.

Apples are freezing on the trees. Thank the gods for cold storage but the time of fresh, crunchy apples that have just been picked is gone now for the season, and there wont be more until the cheeky early varieties blush and crisp in August.

I planted a few bulbs the other day, thinking I had not more opportunity since the ground has had its upper layer frozen several times now. But it rained this morning and now the ground is soft again. Do I put those last few tulips and daffodils in my yard here or bring them to Boston? It is still somewhat warmer there.

I have cleaned and oiled the tools,clipped shut the bags of bone meal and bulb booster, I have stored the dahlia tubers in sand. The begonias got wet and I need to dry them before storing. The back room smells like compost and carrion.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving thanks for beautiful food

Ah, the holiday of food and family and cultural imperialism!

Let us all be thankful for the abundant riches we enjoy in our daily lives, and think on those who have little on this day.

After eating too many snacks (why do we always put out so many nibbles on this day when most people are already starving for the real meal?), I had a meal that was mostly microwaved or ersatz (fake butter, storebought rolls, pre-made potatoes)...although the turkey was very nice as was the stuffing. I can understand why someone who's made a huge family meal for many years wanting to make it easier, but the difference in time and labor is not all that great, is it? I mean, doesn't food just plain taste better if it's made fresh? I guess lots of people don't care or even know the difference--this explains why so many people eat so much fast food. Personally, I appreciate my food more when it is made with care and pleasureable to behold and to eat. Not necessarily fancy, but beautiful and tasty. Here's to real food.

For my contribution, I spent a good deal of time making two desserts from scratch, a pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust and an apple crisp from a Moosewood Cookbook recipe made with locally-grown apples. The cheesecake was a big hit! I saved a couple small pieces for myself to eat tomorrow since I was too full to taste it today. The apple crisp (served warm with French vanilla ice cream) was very tasty but not as popular, and the leftovers from both will go to work with my sweetie.

I will go for an extra long walk and maybe hit the Nordic Track tomorrow to work off all the calories. I never used to be one of those folks who worried about holiday overeating but this year I want to be careful not to overindulge. I also want to focus on real and fresh food, over tasteless or artificial crap which is always in abundance at the holidays. Time to start making nice winter-hearty soups.

We had friends visiting from out of town and took them to Indian Ladders, which they loved. Bought some local sausage and honey. Most of our local apples are gone so I will enjoy the few we have left and hope to get more soon. The orchards have a few winter and holiday events planned, it'd be nice to attend. Eating local foods in winter is a challenge worth pursuing. Next year at this time I hope to be growing my own Brussells sprouts.

Hail the bounty of the earth!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gargoyles and Demons and Chimeras

Oh My.

This is the first of what I hope will be a number of photosto be shared here that I took at the Cloisters in Manhattan. My friend Rosanna and I went on a blustery autumn day at the end of October (despite there being very little evidence of autumn since the trees had not begun to change color) and both of captured many images, inside and out.

There were some amazing carved gargoyles and other figures on the columns surrounding the cafe. Devils and horned figures seemed to be a popular theme. I did not copy down theexcat information on most of these figures but they are mainly 15th and 16th century, I believe, from various countries (France, Germany, Italy). The Cloisters is a wonderland of history, beauty and sublime, quiet artistry. And they have the best museum gift shop I have ever seen. Probably my favorite feature is the medieval herb garden, where we also took many photos. The espaliered pear trees are impressive.

Many visitors did not seem to realize the quince trees were quince trees! I heard a lot of people call them apples or pears. I purloined several fallen ones from the ground and gave them to Rosanna to keep in a bowl in her apartment. They ripen and mellow and scent the room with a sweet, fruity fragrance of autumn for weeks.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pomona, thy bounty recedes...

Apples end.

I just got a bag of Macouns from a farm store (wth orchard attached) in New Hampshire but I know this is the last of them. They have not been picked fresh in weeks now and cold storage only lasts so long. We got a cold snap the last couple weeks, after what seemed like a freakishly long spell of warmth which hinted at endless harvest.

So the apples are in the fridge and I hope to get some more at the farmer's market in Boston next week and the week after and hoard them. The later varieties might still be on the trees and freshly picked if they;re not freezing. At least the Mutsus and Fujis and some other late varieties will be fresher than the fragile mid-season Macouns.


November is frosty and golden and hauntingly beautiful The colors are just past peak now, a phenomenon which usually has occurred a month earlier. I have been enjoying it immensely, here and in Boston and on the journeys in between. Today I am heading to western NY to visit my Mom. Looking forward to seeing the landscape on the journey, which will be by bus through Syracuse, Cortalnd and Ithaca. Our digital camera got broken but will still take pics (the screen is scratched) so I will try to capture some images.

The garden is a story unto itself, and I'll report on it soon.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sad and horrific

My friend Rosanna sent me the link to this story which has me shaking my head in disbelief.

How could someone kill such a magificent and rare animal? I hope the poacher gets caught when he tries to sell its head. Sadly, I am sure there is more than one eager buyer for such a trophy.

I am not against hunting, but I am against stupid insensitive butchery of rare animals that, when glimpsed by humans, lend some magic and wonder to our lives.