The Show Must Go On

I was a freelance musician many years ago.  I was hired by the Portland Opera Company to play in the enhanced brass section for the performances of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi. 

Aida is set in ancient Egypt. Its plot centers around Rhadames, a captain in the Egyptian guard, and two women; Aida and Amneris. Amneris is the daughter of the Pharaoh.  Aida is a slave.  However, unknown to the Egyptians, she is also the daughter of the King of Ethiopia.  The first act reveals that Rhadames and Aida are in love. Amneris also loves this captain. The countries of Egypt and Ethiopia go to war and Rhadames is chosen to lead the Egyptian army. He defeats the enemy and returns as a conquering hero. However, Aida secretly mourns for her native country and her father, who has been taken prisoner.

The second act opens with the Triumphal March as the Egyptians celebrate the defeat of the Ethiopian army with a grand parade.  The march had an extended brass ensemble to fill out the fanfares and the sound of the brass.   For this production, the opera company hired an elephant and her trainer.  In order to make the parade look larger, the elephant had two appearances, requiring a costume change.  It went fine in the run through prior to the performance.  


However, part of the costume came loose during the second entrance.  The elephant panicked with a loud trumpeting and the predictable defication and urination.  The smell permeated the stage and orchestra pit.  The elephant also danced about, trying to run, coming close to the edge of the stage, right above the orchestra pit. 

The extended brass was backstage right and left during our part.  I saw the debacle with the elephant unfold.  There was a closed circuit television aimed at the orchestra conductor in the pit so the backstage brass could see cues and tempi.  The conductor’s eyes were wide with shock and fear as the elephant came closer to the edge.  And the show went on.  He conducted, the orchestra and brass played, and the opera company continued the march with a slight delay as the elephant came back under control and exited the stage safely. 

During intermission, the conductor was back stage, “Did you see that fucking elephant?!”  He continued to repeat this phrase with a degree of shock and awe.  Letting out the stress, we all laughed and shook our heads, “Fucking elephant.”  “Damn that stinks.” The stage was cleaned from the elephant leavings although the special scent remained for the rest of the opra. Needless to say, there were no more elephant costume changes for the elephant during the remainder of the performances.  

It was both amusing and frightening.  The show went on without missing a beat.  Only in opera. 

The lesson: no matter what happens in life, the show must go on.  Keep going.

Still More Simple Gifts.

In the last blog, I spoke about the song Simple Gifts and the complex of simplicity.  There are two more alternate verses.

This alternate is my favorite of all versions.  It is lyric and hopeful.  It also acknowledges the earth as our home and how our actions will impact other people.

The Earth is our mother and the fullness thereof. Her streets, her slums, as well as stars above. Salvation is here, where we laugh and we cry.  Where we seek and love, where we live and die. 

When true Liberty is found, by fear and by hate we will no longer be bound.  In love and light we will find our new birth and in peace and in freedom redeem the earth.    

 The earth is our home in this lifetime.  We do have responsibility to care for it and what lives here.  Often,  religions seem to be more about dogma and judgement than a spiritual connection to each other and Deity.  There are people who reflect the positive values of the spiritual side of organized religion.  I chose a path of spirituality and acknowledgement of Deity, personal and spiritual growth, and respect.  I fall short of this at times.  For me, salvation is paths of spiritual growth, not an event.  We all are involved in salvation in some way, as we’re learning by experiencing this life.

  
The final version is an attitude towards thankfulness and being able to choose our own paths.  Although religious freedom is supposed to be a protected right, there is a strong movement to legislate religious values.  As a country, America needs to focus on how to respect individual freedom to choose our own paths.  

‘Tis the gift of be simple, ‘Tis the gift to be fair.  ‘Tis the gift to wake and breathe the morning air. And each day we walk in the path that we choose, ‘Tis a gift we pray we will never lose. 

Celebrating the holidays, ferret-style

Ferret Christmas CD


A few years ago, two friends and fellow ferret enthusiasts, gave me a CD titled “A Ferret Christmas.” The music is based on familiar songs of the season, with new and improved lyrics from the ferrety point of view.

Yesterday, as I struggled to wrap presents and clean up the inevitable messes caused by three ferrets and a kitten, I recalled the words to one special song.

The Twelve Days of Christmas.
On the first day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me… a big mess under the tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree.

On the third day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me
FIVE PEACEFUL MINUTES! four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me: six ferret kisses, FIVE PEACEFUL MINUTES! four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me: seven piles of poop, six ferret kisses, FIVE PEACEFUL MINUTES! four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me: eight minutes of war dancing, seven piles of poop, six ferret kisses, FIVE PEACEFUL MINUTES! four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me: nine dead roaches, eight war dances, seven piles of poop, six ferret kisses, FIVE PEACEFUL MINUTES! four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me: ten wet willies, eight minutes of war dancing, seven piles of poop, six ferret kisses, FIVE PEACEFUL MINUTES! four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me: eleven flat ferrets, ten wet willies, eight minutes of war dancing, seven piles of poop, six ferret kisses, FIVE PEACEFUL MINUTES! four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree!

On the twelveth day of Christmas, my ferret gave to me: twelve poofy tails, eleven flat ferrets, ten wet willies, eight minutes of war dancing, seven piles of poop, six ferret kisses, FIVE PEACEFUL MINUTES! four missing socks, three carpet sharks, two bleeding ankles and a big mess under the tree!

Some of these lyrics may not make sense unless you’re been blessed to have ferrets in your life. They can make ferrets sound mean and demented. Really, they’re not. They are joyful souls with a gift for chaos.

Take the tree. My ferrets have tubes, tunnels, boxes, and toys. Their favorite game right now? Tunneling under the tree skirt. For extra sport, the girls will periodically test the strength of the tree branches by attempting to climb to the top. I have pictures at home. Needless to say, any presents left under the tree are fair game for stealing and stashing. After all, they’re on the floor. The ferrets are only help to clean up.

Bleeding ankles: well, my ferrets never draw blood. But, Tosca has a failproof method of getting my attention when she wants something, usually her treat. She noses up my pant leg and gently nips my ankle. Predictably, I jump, then look down. Here’s this adorable little ferret face looking up at me, “Well, where’s the treat?” her little head cocked to the side. One of these days, I’m going to drop something on her. Since the kitchen is the site of this little action, most likely something messy.

Four missing socks: anytime I am missing my running socks, I know where to check; under the couch. Kaliyah regularly assists me in putting away any errant socks in their proper place, according to ferrets. Of course, she doesn’t steal the odd socks left after the washer fairy steals its partner- no she has to go for the matched pairs.

But, all the mischief is soon forgotten when I watch happy ferrets doing their “war dance” and bouncing about the room in wild abandon. Tosca often flips head over hind in her enthusiasm. And ferrety kisses are the best.

All in all, having four footed family members brings many smiles and much laughter during the holidays… now if I can only find my socks!