Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

In present-day Japan, they celebrate the solar new year on January 1st, but they associate the new year with the symbol of the upcoming Chinese lunar year, which begins later. 
2012, then, is the Year of the Dragon, and this is the dragon Kanji (Chinese character).
Before the new year begins, the greeting is
"Yoi otoshi o omukae kudasai"
which is wishes for a good year.
or informally "Yoi otoshi o."

After the new year begins, the greeting is
"Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu"
One blog translates this roughly
 "The year is changing...
darkness gives way to light...
new life begins...
I really like that.
or "Shinnen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu."
新年 あけまして
In writing, Happy New Year is often given as
"Kinga Shinnen."

In Japan, the custom is to write New Year's Greeting cards.
A phrase such as "Sakunen wa taihen osewa ni nari
arigatou gozaimashita," which means
"Thank you for all your kind help during
the past year" is a common text.
or "Honnen mo douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu"
(I hope for your continued favor this year.)
My wish for all of you in my virtual New Year card is this:
"Minasama no gokenkou o oinori moushiagemasu"
(Wishing everyone good health.)
For more Japanese words and expressions, check out this blog.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Season of Lights

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
I am the light of life.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness
but have the light of life.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and
glorify your Father in heaven.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
I came that they may have life,
and have it more abundantly.

Immanu El — With us, God! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Since its first performance on NBC TV, Christmas Eve, 1951, Amahl and the Night Visitors has taken its place with "A Christmas Carol" as a holiday classic. Peformed on every continent and in many languages, it has been seen by more people than any other opera in history.
The story tells of the night the Three Kings, following the star to Bethlehem, stop for shelter at the home of Amahl, a poor, crippled shepard boy who lives with his widowed mother. Inspired by the Wise Men's tale of a kingdom "built on love alone," Amahl offers his own simple gift to the Christ Child. And then a miracle happens.
In this warm and compassionate story, Gian Carlo Menotti has captured the essential spirit of Christmas. At its premiere, The New York Times called Amahl "rare art. . . tender and exquisite."

Gian Carlo Menotti was born in 1911 in a mountain village in northern Italy. He began composing at age five and had written his first opera before he was eleven. As a little boy, he was miraculously cured of lameness by a pilgrimage to the nearby Sanctuary of Sacro Monte. This was the genesis of Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera ever commisioned for television.
Sample or download the music here.

The Story of Amahl
Somewhere in the world lives a crippled little shepherd called Amahl, with his mother, an impoverished widow. Nothing is left to them of the little they ever had, and they are now faced with hunger and cold in their empty house.

Three Wise Men, on their way to Bethlehem, stop at the hut and ask to be taken in for the night. Amahl and his mother welcome them and their Page as well as they can, and are much astonished at the splendor of their robes and the wealth of gifts they are carrying with them. When Amahl's mother realizes that the Three Kings are looking for a newborn babe and that the expensive gifts are all destined for him, she becomes bitter and envious. She cannot understand why at least some of these gifts could not be given to her own child, who is so poor and sickly.
Under cover of darkness, while the Three Kings are asleep, she steals some of the gold from them - and is caught red-handed. When she explains to the Three Kings that she needs the gold to feed her starving child, she is readily forgiven. With great tenderness they try to explain to her who this newborn child is and how much he needs the love of every human being to build his coming kingdom. Touched by their words, the poor widow not only gives back the stolen gold, but wishes she could add a gift of her own. Little Amahl comes to her rescue. He impulsively hands the Three Kings his wooden crutch, his most precious possession, and in so doing he is miraculously cured of his lameness.
As dawn appears in the sky, the Three Kings prepare to resume their journey. Amahl begs his mother to let him join them, and he is finally allowed to follow the Kings to Bethlehem to adore and give thanks to the Christ Child.
(Synopsis taken from here.)

Amahl and the Night Visitors is one of our favorite Christmas stories, but we have only rarely been able to see it performed live. This year we will be seeing it in Evergreen, Colorado at Center/Stage, performed by the Evergreen Chorale.

Remaining Performances:
Thu, 12/22/2011 - 7:00pm
Fri, 12/23/2011 - 4:30pm

Fri, 12/23/2011 - 7:00pm.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

                                               Psalm 100
             1   Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
             2   Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his
                  presence with singing.
             3   Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath
                  made us, and not we ourseleves; we are his people,
                  and the sheep of his pasture.
             4   Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his
                  courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless
                  his name.
             5   For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting;
                  and his truth endureth to all generations.

I went to school—Kindergarten and First Grade, that is, in the late 1950s. It was a golden age of the United States of America. We had, with our Allies, beaten back the forces bent on world domination in both the European and Asian theatres in the 40s and had contained the forces of communism above the 38th parallel on the Korean peninsula in the early 50s. Eisenhower was in the White House, and the U.S. was at peace and prosperous, beginning its climb to a position of preeminence in the latter half of the 20th century. These are events for which I am thankful
I don’t remember this, of course; I was in Kindergarten and the First Grade, after all. In fact, I don’t remember much from this time, least of all how those wonderful people called teachers taught me how to read and write and cipher (actually, we never called it ciphering; it was just plain, old arithmetic), some of the most important events of my life. For those people and those times, I am extremely thankful.

I do remember, however, that this was a time before God was exiled from the public schools. I remember vividly during the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday that we would read Psalms and sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator. That was a thankful time, indeed.

I know as surely as my name is Jim that we read at least Psalm 100: "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD." Of course, at that time we memorized the psalm in the King James or Authorized Version of the Bible. To this day I remember and love this psalm. I am very thankful for the Psalms, which show us how to praise and teach us of God and the truth of God.
I remember, too, the harvest hymns that were part of the remembrance and celebration of Thanksgiving in public schools in those days. These psalms and hymns are among the reasons that this holiday is my favorite of the American holidays. It has always been about praise and giving thanks to the Creator of all. The feasting and family get-togethers are important, joyful, and treasured corollaries, but the premise of the holiday, its reason for being, is thanksgiving to One greater than ourselves, one worthy of our thanks, who gives us the breath of life and the ability both to enjoy the fruits of creation and to return thanks for them.
Here are some of the hymns I think I remember from school, and that I know I remember from church and from this holiday season. (I won’t bet my life that we sang all of these in the public schools, but I know we sang some of them.) I love them all. I have given the first stanza of each. For the complete lyrics, click on the title.
                               Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
                     Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
                     All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
                     God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
                     Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home. 

                         We Gather Together
                    We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
                    He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
                    The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
                    Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own. 

                           For The Beauty Of The Earth
                    For the beauty of the earth,
                    For the beauty of the skies,
                    For the love which from our birth
               Over and around us lies,

                    Lord of all, to thee we raise
                    This our hymn of grateful praise.

                        Now Thank We All Our God

                    Now thank we all our God,
                    With heart and hands and voices,
                    Who wondrous things hath done,
                    In whom his world rejoices;
                    Who from our mother's arms
                    Hath blessed us on our way
                    With countless gifts of love,
                    And still is ours to-day.

                        This Is My Father's World

                     This is my Father's world,
                     and to my listening ears
                     all nature sings, and round me rings
                     the music of the spheres.

My Thanksgiving thanksgiving 2010
Thinking and Thanking
Thankful to be so Thankful
Thanksgiving 2005
A Turkey by any Other Name
Give Thanks in Everything

Thanksgiving Quotes 2011

Discovered a great Thanksgiving quote this year...
...and an excellent quotation blog.
More quotes from Chesterton:

"When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?" ~G.K. Chesterton
"You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink." ~G.K. Chesterton

Monday, November 21, 2011

Boutique Judaica

Editor's Note (09-30-2013): Sadly, for those of us who loved this shop and the people who owned and operated it, Boutique Judaica is now closed for good, sold to another business. Thus this post now goes into the nostalgia file.
Boutique Judaica, just west of I-25 on Hampden Avenue, is one of our favorite shops in the Denver area.
A look in the front window provides a glimpse of the myriad of items inside. Books, Kippot, Hanukkiot, Greeting Cards, Challah Plates and Covers, Shabbat Candlesticks, B'nai Mitzvah Gifts, Mezuzot, Tallitot, Fine Jewelry, Candles, Music CD's.
You name it.
The appeal is not just the cornucopia of wonderful merchandise they stock.

It's the warmth and friendliness with which every visitor is welcomed. If you need to hear a good word, visit Boutique Judaica. You'll be treated like family. Here's Roz, showcasing a few of the items available.

Kathy stands by the front window display, chock full of Hanukkiot for the fast-approaching holiday.
Boutique Judaica
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Thursday: 10:30 - 6
Friday: 10:30 - 3
Sunday: 10:30 - 4
Closed Saturday (Shabbat)

5052 E. Hampden
Denver, CO 80222

If coming from I-25, watch for the Starbucks on the corner and turn left into the Happy Canyon Shopping Center. You'll see Boutique Judaica on your left.

Directions here.

(303) 757-1317    Fax: (303) 757-1326

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Longmont Symphony Orchestra

As I have posted in the past, one of the raisons d'etre of my blog is to highlight some of our favorite things. The Longmont Symphony Orchestra is one of those things. We first discovered the LSO at the annual Thornton Fourth of July fireworks celebration, at which they have been performing for over 30 years. Later, I was privileged to take a course in Music Appreciation from one of their musicians, Deb Corisis, who is also involved in many other musical endeavors, some of which can be seen at Ribbons and Strings Ensembles.

Saturday, we attended LSO's latest offering, A Night in Old Spain. We love Spain, which was our home for ten years. We love good music, and we love the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, one of the top amateur orchestras in the country.

We started the evening at a favorite local eatery.

The menu was varied, the service excellent, the atmosphere appealing, and the food delicious.

At the concert, the music was wonderful, and the flamenco was outstanding.

This was the program, as described on their web site.

Capriccio Espagnol has always been one of my favorite pieces of "Spanish music," although it was written by a Russian! The LSO did it justice. This is how director Robert Olson put it.

A Night in Old Spain
Nov. 12th @ 7:30
The music of Spain is immediately recognizable, whether it be from the exciting cross rhythms inherent in its folk music, or its unique scale resources that conjure up images from Moorish Spain. Spanish music is always passionate and colorful and reeks of energy, perfect for Flamenco!

The LSO is thrilled to present Longmont’s own Salli Gutierrez, flamenco dancer and teacher. Salli will be choreographing a work with orchestra, and her favorite flamenco guitarist, Steven Mullins. Mr. Mullins, also from Longmont, has written a work especially for this concert we will premiere.

As I was researching for this concert, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a wealth of wonderful music written by various composers celebrating Spain and its musical heritage. Oddly enough, two pieces I found particularly exciting were written by French composers, Massenet and Chabrier! The former contains a series of short dances celebrating the various regions of Spain (all quite different from each other), while the latter is simply a flashy, exciting work capturing the energy and romance of Spain.

No concert of Spanish music would be complete without the music of Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. El Amor Brujo is a ballet suite, a story of ghosts, magic and of course, love. The exotic sounds are remind us of Moorish Spain, one of the great epochs of Spanish history.

Oddly enough, we’ll end the evening with probably the most exciting “Spanish” work ever written, by a Russian! Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol is a tour d’force for orchestra, highly colorful, exciting, and a piece “in overdrive” from start to finish.

I’m really looking forward to this concert, and I hope you are as well. See you there.
Robert Olson
Music Director

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

It sounds incongruous to say “Happy Veterans Day.” It seems to me rather a day to say “Thank you.” It is a fine rehearsal for Thanksgiving. We give thanks for the lives we enjoy as a result of the sacrifice of the one percent who served. 11-11-11.
There is much speculation as to the significance of this auspicious date. To me, it seems a fitting date to honor our veterans.
There is something unfinished about the number 11.
First of all, it is an odd number. Odd, because it is not evenly divisible by two; it is two ones side-by-side but eternally looking for that final mate to bring it back into evenness.
It lies just beyond the perfection of the number 10, reaching ahead to the future yet falling short of an even 12. The number 11 is somehow deficient, incomplete.
The number 11 reminds me of veterans. We’re odd, first because we entered the service alone, leaving mates, family, friends, lives behind. And then again, many of us are bona fide characters—oddballs! Secondly, there is something unfinished about our lives. Our service was a phase—a very significant phase—but just a part of a life. There is a saying that “a veteran is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount of up to and including my life. That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it." Those who paid that all-inclusive price—known or unknown—had their futures cut short. There is the sense of a life unfinished, although they gave their lives that others might live, so in that sense, their legacy is complete and incomparable.

HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD For those of us who served and came home, whether for one tour or a career, we had more to do. We came out of that crucible of service with unfinished lives and were granted the grace to run the course, however long that might be. All the while, we remember with eternal gratitude, pride, and admiration those brave souls who laid down their lives that we might live, and live in liberty and peace.

To all those who came home—and most especially to those who did not—we say, “Thank you.”

Friday, November 04, 2011

Happy Birthday, Toby!

Happy birthday, Toby!

We celebrate your birth, and we are happy you are in our lives!
Looking forward to Thai Chicken Soup tonight...

...and Cottonwood Hot Springs in two weeks...

...for the 2nd Annual Jimmy/Toby Birthday Bash.

Here's a pic from the 1st Annual.

This picture? Just because I like it!