Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

23 August 2006

(On Vacation, Again)

There can be too much of a good thing. But this is a chance to be with my beloved family for a few days, and the next time I'll see them all will be at Thanksgiving, which seems a long time away. Think of me driving safely, and then being on the beach. Think of me running with my sister in the morning, and then eating cannoli on the boardwalk. Think of my daughter being very good. Ah.

22 August 2006

"The Impossible Dream"

With my advanced wisdom, I recognize that this song is merely in a less-than-great key for me, in this version. Lower or higher might be okay. Meanwhile, I have been distracted with all the associations that this song has for me right now, none of them anything much to do with the text. (This song also begins the next section: 'Inspiring Songs From Stage and Screen'.)

Firstly, I'm right off twelve days at Pennsic, which, as an SCA event, is all about the Dream: living the Medieval days that should have been, could still be (without the plague, with better hygiene). It is, indeed, an impossible dream, but the striving is what it's all about. Different folks at Pennsic have different versions of this Dream: Perfect Garb, Knighthood, Laurel decorations, aspirations to Royalty, Wisdom in the Ways of Old. I'm not sure that my family had any of those aspirations, but we had a great time. The best Pennsic ever. To allude to O-So-Many Stories: Pennsic is also the place to feel comparatively thin, pretty, and well adjusted. Ah!

Secondly, though it didn't come out this year quite so blatantly, a couple members of my Pennsic camp are strangely obsessed with 'Man of La Mancha'. They know all the words, all the parts. I can't think of anything from this musical without thinking of them singing it, slightly intoxicated.

Lastly, and by no means leastly, when I was sixteen, spending the best part of my summer at the Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico, my friend Veronica and I adjusted the words to this song slightly to reflect our trip. I also can't think of this song without singing these words:

To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable bear,
To climb with incredible torture, to breathe the unbreatheable air,
To right the unrightable trail, to climb through the grime and the hot,
To try, though your feet are too weary, to reach the unreachable top:
That is my quest: to get to the top! No matter how hopeless, I shall never stop!
To fight to keep up, without question or pause: to be willing to reach for the clouds for a heavenly cause.
And I know, if I'll only be true to this glorious quest, that my heart will lie peaceful and calm, when I fall off Everest.
And the world will be better for this: that one scout, scratched and covered with scars,
Still strove, with her last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable top!

Bonus folk song: My favorite song heard at Pennsic was heard on a CD, sue me. The group was Great Big Sea, which I highly recommend, and the song is 'Come and I Will Sing You (The Twelve Apostles)'. If I could find the version of this song in Arabic, with someone to teach me to sing it properly, I would be very happy indeed.

08 August 2006

(On Vacation)

Think of me, dressed in Medieval garb, singing lots of songs that are in no way in any Reader's Digest complilation. . .

Back after the 19th. . .

07 August 2006

"I'll Never Pass This Way Again"

This song starts off not bad, page one is okey dokey. Then page two builds to a climax in a way that doesn't feel entirely consistent with page one, then it's all done. I don't get it. Maybe the arrangement doesn't do it justice, but I'm not enamored enough to search for the answer to that.

Bonus folk material: 'Ground Hog', being the story of the hunting, killing, and eating of said animal. My daughter thought this was sad, but it's obvious that the singer isn't so sad about his meal. This is another song with many short verses--nineteen--and like the others in this book (which is, by the way, 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax, a fabulous twenty-five cent garage sale find on my part), by the time I get half way through all the verses I feel somehow seduced rather than bored. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I like it.

My daughter and I leave for Pennsic in two days. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it all begins with the SCA: the Society for Creative Anachronism, an organization as old as I am, begun in author Diana Paxson's back yard, lo, these forty years ago, and now comprised of thousands of members world-wide, dedicated to recreating Medieval Life, the 'Current Middle Ages'.

I finished a great book about the SCA this year, 'The Knights Next Door', by Patrick O'Donnell, which manages to capture a fair amount of the flavor of the SCA, and Pennsic, in a very readable style. Check it out for a much more complete description of what this is all about.

Pennsic is the largest SCA event in the world, taking place an hour north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with an attendance of about twelve thousand people. You don't get a day pass to Pennsic, you pay by the week. It's not huge a fee, but participants are also expected to dress in something resembling Medieval garb for the entirety of their stay (and pack in all their water, unless you're willing to buy it all there). Most tourists are not willing to commit that amount of energy, though it might be worth it: the shopping alone is fairly amazing, and the battles are something not seen anywhere else.

I was very lucky in my introduction to Pennsic, being invited to attend by my friend, Maria, who had been camping for years with a wonderful group of people, including some who attended and helped run some of the very first Pennsic gatherings, thirty-five years ago. This will be the sixth Pennsic for my daughter and I, and the third for my husband when he joins us this weekend. So for these last two days I'm sewing garb, since clothing three people for 8-12 days in something without zippers, looking somewhat Medieval, is always a trick, especially with a growing girl. Thank goodness for being on the hand-me-down list in my camp. Think of us this week, wearing long gowns all day in the August heat!

06 August 2006

"Anyone Can Move A Mountain"

A classic, really. Ok: no. I'm split on this one: it doesn't totally suck, and it's a little catchy. But the title's a bit cliched. You decide. I'm not sure I'm up for mountain moving today, at least, but I'm satisfied with what I've gotten done, mind you.

Bonus folk selections: 'Mister Rabbit', which has that spiritual quality that I just love: 'Yes, bless God, been gittin' outta sight!' Ah! Very nice. Also: 'Old Blue', a classic dog song, which reminds me of our beagle, Buford. I'm trying to not have that ruin this song for me. I really like learning this new-old stuff, the folk songs fill me up as the other book, at this point, cannot.

So about six weeks ago, or so, I got a scroll in the mail. Not a usual occurence, for me, or anyone I know, really. I saw the tube, and knew that I wasn't expecting anything this shape from my crazy eBay purchases (these days mostly consisting of old music books, never mailed in tubes). I opened the tube, and pulled out a linen roll, sealed with multiple wax seals. When I opened this, breaking the rose-embossed seal, I found a canvas scroll, wrapped artistically in multi-colored ribbons, wooden dowels on the ends. I thought: wedding invitation? some other momentous life-event? The scroll had a calligraphic text, in a very small font, with an elaborate medieval-type drawing at the bottom. I got a third of the way down, with my suspicions, before I recognized the names of my high school D&D group characters. I had been invited to join a game.

I hadn't played Dungeons and Dragons in twenty three years, and the system has changed quite a bit since my day. Even back then, I was the token girl who didn't take it very seriously, always wanting the talking chicken in the campaign and such. This, though, was my dear friend, Paul's partner's fortieth birthday present to all of us: Ken would be the Dungeon Master for an online game that would include all of the original players (plus one), playing the descendents of the characters we played oh-so-many years ago. I could only accept.

Still, I haven't played D&D in quite a while. My gaming was more in the CCG (collectible card game) and board game realm, which I embraced quite heartily for a few years. Now, I would have to learn a new system, and I wasn't up to it. Luckily, everyone so far has been very patient, and it is acknowledged that we are not teenagers any more, not able to devote hours of each day to this pursuit. Still, I've been a bit overwhelmed.

But now (thanks to Paul and Ken), my character sheet is fully filled out, with not only my abilities, alignment, race, and class; but also my feat, skills, spells, weapons, and other assorted critical information. I have also successfully posted to the online quest (after some technical difficulties) and this, further, has spurred me on to Chat Online for the very first time. I am no longer a virgin in this IM realm.

Truly, this old dog can pick up old tricks, and learn new. Fear not, brethren, I will stride ahead, wielding my bow, singing my song merrily before. . .

03 August 2006

"No Man Is An Island"

Boring, slightly martial, hymn-like thing. It doesn't help that I planned to blog on this yesterday, but then things didn't work as planned. Where do these songs come from? Do people still know and sing these?

Bonus folk song: 'The Grey Goose'. Somehow more interesting than the 'main event', even with its nineteen repetitive verses. Mostly that's because the spiritual-style of this piece is much more my cup of tea. If I liked tea. Maybe my cup of hot chocolate.

Today was a great day. Not really in and of itself, only because yesterday was the truly great day that made today possible. Yesterday friends of ours offered to take our dog for the almost two weeks that we're at Pennsic, a nice woman at the yarn shop helped me figure out what to do with the Elsebeth Lavold sweater that I've been working on for over a year, and my husband and I found out that he won't be needing brain surgery this year.

Since I've been freaking out--sometimes very quietly, sometimes my anxiety poking out in sharp, unconnected bits--for the past two months about this expected upcoming surgery, this is very, very good news. I felt so relieved yesterday that I didn't know what to do, besides tell everyone who would care, and apologize for being the 'gal who cried wolf'. Everyone seemed to understand, and they were all very glad that we wouldn't be having another fun surgery experience this fall. Two of my best friends suggested that not only did I not have anything to apologize for, but that I would have been justified in freaking out even more, if I had only let myself.

I'm just glad that for now, we can just live our lives. And maybe the lesson here is that we should just do that anyway. Yes, it is true that it's likely that my husband will need this surgery someday, but not now. If it does happen, when it does happen, we'll handle that in its time. Meanwhile, in its utter normality, in the return of my ability to focus, today was a very good day.

01 August 2006

"Bluebird of Happiness"

It's a four page song, it's perky, it has a bird in it, and I always have liked birds. Now the line 'Life is no abyss' [rhymes with 'so remember this'] is problematic, and frankly, it does jerk me out of the song-mood a bit. This wasn't bad, even so. But it wasn't good enough to make me want to keep it. Thank goodness for. . .

The Bonus Folk Songs! Yes, step right up, and receive your bonus folk songs right here! And not just any folk songs: genuine American folk songs! These are too good to try just one! Buckeye Jim! (I learned it first while learning to play guitar, I love the hammer-ons.) All the Pretty Little Horses! (one of my favorite lullabyes to sing to my daughter, heavily influenced by Peter, Paul and Mary) Go Tell Aunt Nancy! (who the heck is Nancy? I go tell Aunt Rhody, myself, about the goose thing. Tragic. Absolutely tragic.) Leatherwing Bat! (I would love to have the PPM chord arrangment for this song. It's very catchy, I really like it.)

Whew. Tires you out, all that folk music. Good to play the guitar, though.

Tomorrow we will have more information, I hope, about the state of our little world here. Today was an okay day, but I know that it's probably just a lull. I am grateful, nonetheless. More information cometh, information with which to build a plan, this is all very good. Good is also accepting that I'm not going to know everything tomorrow, or ever.

I think I'll sleep fine.

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