Purple Facial Hair

I have the Trollope book The Prime Minister sitting on my shelf of “waiting to be reads”

Odd Bits About Books

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope is weighty tome, getting on for 1000 pages, but is mostly an easy read – lots of characters living their lives, all interesting folk and many of whom are deeply morally ambiguous, against a backdrop of political satire and a biting response to the recent financial scandals. Some of it has aged rather well and is certainly relevant to modern day politics.

A warning though: while it is mostly an easy read, there are a couple of aspects of the plot which I didn’t expect and which made me deeply uncomfortable. I suspect that’s what Trollope intended and is no way a criticism of the book, but it’s worth being aware that there are a number of references to domestic violence. The violent fathers and husbands are portrayed very unfavourably, but it does seem to be considered very normal.

And the anti-Semitism…

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The Best Linen And Cambric For Her Underclothing

Thoughts on Middlmarch

Odd Bits About Books

Middlemarch by George Eliot (or rather by Mary Ann Evans writing under that pseudonym) was published in 1871/2 and is about the lives of characters in a fictional English Midlands town. There’s a lot of focus on marriage, family, courtship, hypocrisy and disgrace, and it’s generally considered her best work, but today I’m just going to talk about knickers.

Rosamond Vincy is a young woman who is well educated and stunningly beautiful, but is ambitious and therefore certainly not the heroine of our tale. She can also be described as vain and shallow, far more interested in social niceties and improving her standard of living than actual emotions.

She decides that she is going to marry the handsome town doctor – and he falls in love with her, of course, and proposes.

But there’s a problem – despite his initial agreement, Rosamond’s father decides to revoke his consent to the…

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Villa Gustavo

Twists and turns of family genealogy.


At the border between the towns of Meran and Algund in the South Tirol, there is a house located at 66 Via Goethe Strasse. It was built between 1860 and 1880. It stands adjacent to an AGIP gas station and in front of the Tappeiner Hospital of Meran. It looks like many of the old period houses which occupy Meran and suggests better times. Indeed, years ago, those better times surrounded our family there in that house, the Villa Gustavo.

The property was once a well to do villa on the then outskirts of Meran. The many acres that now occupy the hospital were in fact a large vineyard in the years preceding World War I. My grandmother Anna Rizzi lived there for some years after the death of her husband in 1913. The house, or villa, was the property of Anna Rizzi (Flor) and her brother Valentino Flor between…

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Ave Verum Corpus

Our small chorale group in the remote Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan sang this at a reception in the Druk Hotel in Thimphu more than 30 years ago.


Ave Verum Corpus has often been described as one of the few perfect pieces of music ever written. It is a mere three minutes long and simple in musical structure but ranks among Mozart’s best works. Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, True Body), (K. 618), is a motet (a short piece of sacred choral music, typically polyphonic and unaccompanied) in D major composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791.

Mozart composed the motet in 1791 in the middle of writing his opera Die Zauberflöte. He wrote it while visiting his wife Constanze, who was pregnant with their sixth child and staying in the spa Baden bei Wien. Mozart set the 14th century Eucharistic hymn in Latin, Ave Verum Corpus, to music to be used in the Baden church. He wrote the motet for Anton Stoll, a friend of his and of Joseph Haydn. Stoll was the musical director of…

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Recorder Workshop

Morning consort group with Jack Ashworth

Making music at Port Townsend/Pacific University – near Tacoma. This was one of the workshops at a Recorder Playing Week that I attended shortly after we moved to Seattle nearly 11 years ago. I drove down in my new Subaru Forester. Just stick to the middle lane my son told me. The amount of high speed driving I had done on any freeway system was minimal. Plus the fact that I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. But I arrived safely, not a bother.

(I was actually a very experienced driver having driven extensively in New England and cross-country – before the big interstate system was built. And I had driven in many foreign countries, etc. But as I grew older and I got slower and everything got faster, driving was no longer the pleasure that it once had been.)

I cannot remember the name of the college where this Recorder Playing Week was held. The week itself was called the Port Townsend Music Festival, only in 2008 0r 9 it had relocated to the college near Tacoma. This added to the confusion for beginner and newbie me.

It was a wonderful week! for beginner/intermediate recorder player me. It widened my horizons, to say the least. I met so many interesting people from locations up and down the West Coast. And there were even Irish people there from British Columbia. One of this Irish contingent had even attended the school on the corner of Zion Road where we lived when we first moved to Dublin in 1968.

Most of the players, if not all, were more skillful than I was, but that did not deter my enthusiasm. People were more than helpful and friendly as we navigated the week. And it was good too to explore the campus of this small college, compared with my previous college experiences in Middlebury in Vermont, Northwestern in Illinois, UC Berkelley in California,, and University College Dublin.