Saturday, December 15, 2012

Seth King-Gengler plays Piano Sonata in A minor, 3rd movement; Sidney; Bat Cat; Bobbleheads; Christmas Greetings; Surely the push reel lawn mower

Musician Extraordinaire,
Student at the Lawrence University Conservatory
played again at the Congregational UCC Church last Sunday
as he has done often to share the miracle 
of his musical gift with the congregation that has supported
and loved his playing a long time.

Here he is shown at the piano in the front of the church and the only instrument we had at hand
was the lower crustacean cell phone camera.  Thus the image is poor, but by raccoon standards, something is better than nothing.

Winding up his piece, Schubert's Piano Sonata in A minor, 3rd movement, Seth began surfacing from his trance-like playing, and a standing ovation followed.  The ushers, waiting patiently to carry the offering to the altar, were already standing.......

Sid Estenik
in a long career as a music educator and graduate himself of Lawrence University,
Appleton WI, is responsible for an important link in Seth King-Gengler's piano story.
When Seth was in eighth grade, his mother asked friends including members of 1st Congregational if there was anybody
who might give some formal lessons to her son.  

At the time, Seth was self-taught and doing amazingly well, immersed in what he could do sans music, playing as he still does - by heart (and much heart!) -on a keyboard.
Word reached Sid and Mary, his wife, that there was this boy who could really play. Would he come out of retirement and give him some formal instruction?

Sidney was not feeling motivated to take on a new pupil because he had a full career teaching young people and felt truly retired.  But he agreed to listen to Seth play.
That was all it took, for Sid recognized that this young man was t-a-l-e-n-t-e-d!

Sid taught him all he knew, and when Seth got to be a senior in high school, Sid recommended
a higher level teacher.  That chap took it from there and now, after two trips to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia to attend advanced classical piano competitive summer sessions, Seth has worked for a year and is now enrolled in the Conservatory program at Lawrence, where he receives a generous scholarship.

This is last Sunday's church bulletin.  We asked Seth to sign after his name, which he laughingly did.

This fellow is going far, no doubt about it, and we Congo-ites were here to hear the beginning stages of
the fruits of Seth's hard work and determination and artistry,and heart.  We understand that he is
interested in the Lawrence Conservatory Jazz program, too, and that ensemble is directed by the famed Fred Sturm

This excellent video of the jazzwork of an earlier ensemble, a rendition of Radiohead sent to us by Lawrence  U. as parents of an alum, follows:

Good Luck, Seth!

KD Cat enters first yuletide
dreaming of getting bat's wings
with which to .......

Our children visiting for Xmas
will see for themselves
how this new 8 month old kitten/cat
already walks daringly across
seemingly impossible surfaces
and high up.

Her black face
presents a featureless roadmap
and it is easy to imagine her
already a flitting bat.

Still Fickle Bat

A bat I thought was you
Fluttered around my head
Last night after the lights
were turned off

I opened the door
To let you find your way out
But you stayed
Would not go
Winging around my sought repose

Nibbling my ear lobes
The way you used to do
 I went out myself
And you followed me

Joining another bat
Zig-zagging in the darkness
Both of you exchanged squeaks
And left

I lay awake a long time
Wondering if you’d be back
               The only way to keep you
          Is to set you free

[DZD 2007]


A recent Bobblehead
bought at the Congo trinket stand run by Mary Estenik
after church.  Although we have purchased  several of these
$3 (or two for $5) Mexican miniature gourd figurines,
so constructed by craftsfolk that a part, usually the head, tail or wing
 of the imaginary beast moves in normal room air currents.

This one is a tropical fish.  It's about the size of a  five cent piece.
The tail member does the moving, left and right,
as drafts hit it.

It is a big hit with KD Cat, who hunts birds from that wndowsill (as is a more recent
addition of a solar-powered bobbler snowman.  See the video 15 second clip with this mailed edition.)
So far, the critter has only been watched attentively.
No batting at it yet.

Unfortunately, the sale of these items is now closed, but there
were myriad opportunities to secure tens of them as gift items
or home amusements.

Church member Jim Barron, presently wintering in Florida,
 has an Hispanic daughter-in-law with a connection
to the place in Mexico where these toys are made.
Jim has bought around 200 of them to help the community industry
and for the purpose of allowing his late wife's Plymouth church circle
to use them as a fund-raiser at the Congo.

We've seen them being lapped up by helpful and curious members.
There are a few left but the sale is over unless a raccoon reader
wants to ask us how to get to view the remainder.

We here have giant spiders, caterpillars, dragons and wing-flapping
birds, but they are ours and are not for sale.  We placed the fish shown above
on a fossil we bought in AZ in 1972.  The fossil is a prehistoric fish
lodged in the eventually hardened sediment rock.

Next to it is a painted by us lead sinker, symbolically
carrying out a germain OF and piscatoric theme.



(card printed on Plowshares recycled elephant dung Sri Lankan paper)
Below, a reprint
a non-profit magazine published
by DZD in 1980:

For ease of reading:
"Our centerfold for the month of August in this our maiden issue is an old friend of mine, Surely, the push reel lawnmower. She was recently discovered in the cob-webby stairwell of the basement in our old family home in Waukesha were I grew up and to which I returned earlier this year.

Surely and I went around many times together in my youth when it was my job to mow my grandmother's lawn, and I always had a lot of respect for her, although there were moments of antagonism when I was forced to take her out against my will.  That was before I felt old enough for her.

When I came upon her in the stairwell not long ago while sweeping, we struck up an immediate conversation, even though it had been years since we'd seen each other, in fact years since Surely had seen anyone due to the advent of the easy and fast gasoline-powered younger models.

I was up front with her right away, and owned that I too had taken to the grasses with these brash and noisy lawn sirens, but I also told Surely truthfully that there had always been something missing.  It was just going through the motions to cut grass with them;  I never had the feeling that I was in control of any of the action, walking along subserviently, having little input and more than once getting hurt. Surely never threw anything at me in her life.

As we talked, I began to fantasize what it would be like to take Surely out again.  Granted, we both had some years behind us since we tried anything together, but I still felt capable of making her go.  Also, I mulled - not merely euphemistically - the grass wasn't getting any shorter out there.

"Listen, Surely," I began uncertainly,  "you wouldn't want to, ah, you know, it's been a long time and everything, but how's chances of you and me, well, you know.  Whadda you say?"

She got my drift immediately.  "Dave!  Wouldn't that be fun!  I could be a little rusty, but I don't think so.  If you don't mind how I look, Let's roll!"

I felt a wave of confidence come over me at her enthusiasm.  That was something else I liked about Surely, I remembered.  She was always ready.  Not like some others I could mention that have to be gassed up before they'll do anything, and then their exhalations make it down-right unpleasant to even walk behind them.

As uncomplimentary a term as 'cheap date' may be, it goes far toward describing Surely.  A couple drops of machine oil was all she ever asked for, and if I didn't mind her squeaking she didn't even insist of that.  Why did I ever let her get away?  Fuelish, fuelish me!

I rolled her from her unworthy repository beneath the stairs and listened for the old purr, or whirr.  It was still there.  Surely had few moving parts, but from where I stand today, the clip! clip! clip! of Surely's reel blades as they skim over her stationary cutter is far and away more inspiring in its simplicity and predictability that a complicated mystery machine you have to have a manual to understand.

As I lifted Surely gently in my arms for the trip up the steps to the waiting lush and long greenery beyond the door, she began to softly croon "Seems like old times."

The stairway seemed surreal and endless as I carried Surely.  She might have put on some weight but that didn't matter.  I knew I was in for a mowing I'd never forget.

(To be Continued)
This was the inspiration for this year's Xmas card........

The rubber stamp, a gift from John and Cindy Helt
presented in 2003, is shown above, much-used by now.

  It pays to hang onto things.