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On a fine concert and reviving a Christmas ball

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Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 12:00 am

Mother’s Day — and HOT. This day should be gently spring-like: warm in the sun, cool in the shade, with a very soft breeze.

Should be — and that’s as far as it goes. I’ve heard it said that at this point we have already had one of the worst fire seasons in history, with at least 1,000 fires, large and small.

Our weather has been so erratic that possibly the summer might be cooler than usual. Nice for humans; not so good for crops and the economy. We can’t do anything about it, so we have to just take it.

Right now, the clouds need a good scolding — but perhaps it isn’t all their fault. Last week, they put on their business suits of dark blue or gray and got ready to go to work giving us some good rains. But that old flirt of a sun teased and tantalized them into changing back into their white frilly party dresses to go dancing and flirting with him all over the sky without a thought of their obligations to the weathermen.

Meanwhile, watering is going on apace — and we’re going to have to be careful of that, too. Snowpack wasn’t all that good, so we should not use water when we don’t need to. Water doesn’t need to run down the drain while we brush our teeth, and a power shower doesn’t need to be 20 minutes long.

Yes, problems make life more restrictive and less convenient than we’d like, but we’re still way ahead of most of the people on this earth.

***

SOS: Help is needed! My neighbor’s cat, who often visits our house, has gone missing for almost a week. She is a gray-striped tabby named Tiger, and she is wearing a white collar with purple flowers on it. Her fur is more fluffy than short.

She is missing from the middle of the 600 block of Palm Avenue. If you have seen her or know where she is, please call 209-483-3555. We are all worried sick. It’s the not knowing where or how she is that’s the worst. Anyone whose pet has gone missing knows all about this feeling.

***

If, like me, you have been decrying what this country is turning into, take heart. The recent Stockton Chorale concert was reassuring and heartening, featuring as it did a variety of vocal works covering all the ages and spaces since some responsible men gathered together to frame our Republic. The music was a healing balm for the anger and angst being found in too many places these days.

St. John’s is a wonderful space for choral music, and the church was packed. We heard everything from “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to melodies by Randall Thompson, Bob Dylan and Cole Porter, plus setting for serious poets like Robert Frost.

Featured was a composition especially commissioned for this concert, built on a lovely melodic poem. The composer, David Conte, was on hand for conversation and congratulations, which made the concert special. David is on staff at the San Francisco Conservatory.

Another special touch was a presentation honoring the Chorale’s 60th anniversary. Founder Art Holton Jr. and his wife, Thelma, would be proud and glad to see their creation now.

***

Mary Ellen Beckman reports that the Friends of the Pool’s recent fundraiser at Applebee’s made quite a lot of money for the group’s project of helping raise funds to get the Hutchins Street Pool repaired and back in therapeutic action again. People with arthritis wll be especially grateful to have it back. “Waiting is the tending of the fire of faith.”

Another project in the offing for Hutchins Street Square: Charlene Lange is working on reviving the Christmas Ball, once an annual event sponsored by the Ribier Branch of the Lodi Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, first in the Gold Room of the Hotel Lodi and then at the Woodbridge Golf and Country Club. It was a grand occasion, looked forward to all year.

I went to a couple of balls when I first came to Lodi — as working press. Paul Zimmerman took pictures; I got names for captions. I hope Charlene gets the help and funding she needs.

***

I get nostalgic for my teaching days at Lodi High — well, for a lot of them, at least! — and can’t believe it’s been 32 years since I retired. Most of all, I remember the days when I was adviser to The Flame newspaper and Embers, the yearbook. There were some really great kids who worked on those publications, and we all learned a lot from each other.

I can’t believe that Lodi High no longer has a newspaper and the journalism class to go with it. So many lessons were learned as the staff wrote, edited, thought critically, sold ads, took photos and learned responsibility in the realization that what they produced spoke for and about Lodi High and everybody in it.

If I had the energy, I’d volunteer for the job, but even then I couldn’t do it because it would all be done on computers, not in the old way I knew. I know — change, a word I am beginning to hate because it is used as an excuse as well as a reason for anything and everything.

***

Thomas Sowell had some excellent remarks recently about words that replace thought. One such is “diversity.” He contrasts education in the racially homogenous country of Japan and the most diverse country on earth, India. The results are not what one is led to believe they should be. Other words replacing thought are “fair,” “access” and “affordable.”

Words can be tricky in other ways. One has to be alert. I’ve seen “eve” where “eave” was meant, and someone being “viscously” attacked (of course, this was just a typo, but still ...). Then there was “baited breath” where “bated breath” would have been correct. Bait is something used as a lure, and fishhooks and traps are baited with tasty bits to catch unwary fish and rats, whereas “bate” means to moderate or restrain, such as, to wait with bated breath. No, bait will not catch one’s breath!

And one to end with: The state which separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools — attributed to Thucydides.

Gwin Paden has lived in Lodi since 1957. She served in the Women’s Army Corps, worked for local newspapers, and taught English at Lodi High School and San Joaquin Delta College.

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