Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy Doings

When we got the newletter telling about the Continuing Education conference yesterday at John A. Logan College, I signed Gerald and me up to attend.  With all the cancellations and problems of Katherine’s aides, however, I had become convinced we’d have to miss it.  And we did miss the first session, but happily we arrived in time to hear Chris Villillo presenting “Abraham Lincoln in Song.”  I think it was the best lecture/concert I have ever heard.  His research on both that era and his knowledge of musical history was fantastic and presented in the most engaging way.  He had the audience totally absorbed as well as participating in his music with hand clapping and singing.  I learned more in that hour about Lincoln that will stick than I think I have in my lifetime of reading and hearing about this 16th President.

Who knew that Lincoln was a musician?  As he traveled the circuit as a lawyer staying overnight in the taverns of that day with his fellow lawyers, he not only gained his reputation as a master story teller, but he also could slip a tiny Jew’s harp from his pocket and join in as the men sang popular songs of that day. 

I had no idea what a Jew’s harp was, but Villillo gave us a demonstration as well as a brief history of the Jew’s harp, jaw harp, mouth harp, Ozark harp, English trump, guimbarde, and many other names this ancient instrument was called.  He said while Lincoln may have acquired his harp for a penny, Villillo had to pay $7 for the one he was playing.  He warned us that if we bought one for ourselves or a grandchild (my plan) to be sure to be aware that one  can take out a chip from a tooth if not played correctly.  This happened to him at an important occasion in front of one of our governors before he went to prison—a common occurrence for Illinois governors unfortunately. 

As he entertained us, Villillo played other antique instruments including a hammer dulcimer similar to one playing the waltz when Lincoln invited the lovely Miss Mary Todd to dance with him at that Springfield party at her sister’s home.  He had introduced himself by saying he wanted to dance with her “in the worst way.”  When she reported to her girlfriends afterward, who were very interested in this popular young gawky lawyer, she assured them that he stepped on her feet in the worst way.

One of the neatest things about yesterday’s conference was seeing so many friends that I haven’t had opportunity to see or have lunch with because of their busyness and mine.  It was great to be able to sit through one session with Marilyn Schild, who will soon be leading a tour to Puerto Rico, and to exchange hugs and brief conversations with Mabel Hayes, Marie Samuel, Dorothy Rudoni, Kara Webb, and others.  It was also fun to meet new people.  The noon-day meal was delicious and so was the fellowship.

A nice ending to a day, which started after I arrived back to the farm with Gerald fixing me a bowl of oatmeal,  was a sandwich supper I served to Gerald and our son-in-law Brian.  I went to bed early and slept well.

Katherine’s continued suffering is one of the most difficult and saddest things I have had to experience in life, and the joke was on us about the understanding nurse who said to come anytime before four that March 1 Friday that I last wrote about.  We hired an extra aide to help me and Jeannie and worked as fast as we could all morning  to get Katherine there that afternoon before four despite the rain outside.  About two, however, someone from that office called that an office meeting had been called, so not to come after all. That particular nurse or caller was amazed when Katherine told her what she and I both heard the nurse say  that no appointments for a couple other procedures would be necessary.  So that caller told her what we would have thought had we not been told otherwise that, of course, those procedures must be scheduled.  The caller said  someone would call her with new necessary appointments.  So far no one has called unless they did yesterday after I left in the early morning.  I will be going in soon and find out.

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