Today the weather promised rain, and kept its promise by mid-afternoon. I walked Beatrice in the morning around a pond full of ducks. In the afternoon, I got a sandwich at Subway and then drove over to Limestone Quarry Park. I downloaded the Radio NZ app onto my cell phone. Then I set the program on the Radio NZ National program. Then I walked the 2.4 mile round trip Taychas Trail. I listened to a story about a young toddler named Mace who died when his mother, a physician, left him in a hot car after mistakenly thinking she had dropped him off at child care. The news story was why it took days for these facts to make the news. As someone pointed out, if the mother had been a Maori woman on public assistance, the news might have been quick to trumpet her error and its tragic result.
Here in Texas each Summer we have some version of this story. A toddler or infant is left in a car in our extraordinarily hot Summer, and either dies or nearly dies. When this happens, the mother or day care worker involved becomes the lead story in the evening news, and charges of child endangerment and even manslaughter often follow. But so often the hapless parent or caregiver is not economically or socially advantaged. Would our news treat a respected but over-worked physician with kid gloves?
I have no desire to seek retribution against a heartbroken mother for such a colossal and fatal mistake. But there is a story here about inequality and class and sometimes race that exists here--and in New Zealand.
As I listened to this and other stories, I saw House Finches, an Eastern Bluebird,
Dark-Eyed Juncos, Red-Bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Mockingbirds, and a vast quantity of a sparrow whose identification I had to look up. When I logged it in, 14 Vesper Sparrows, the eBird software instantly asked me for more details, as 14 Vesper Sparrows in one place is an odd sighting. I now will wait to see if eBird has someone to contact me. I have some mediocre pictures of the sparrow, so I will be able to share those if I am contacted, and perhaps have my identification affirmed or corrected. I am eager to know just what I saw.
Before 5 p.m. we headed to Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra was doing one of its "DSO on the Go" visits to our fair region. First Dr. Laurie Schulman gave an informative introduction to each of the pieces.
This was useful, particularly to give me more perspective about Glinka. Then, at 6:30 p.m., the Dallas Symphony played a night of Russian music.
The program was as follows:
GLINKA Ruslan and Ludmila Overture
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 3
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio espagnol
The Glinka, a five-minute piece was a charming bit of light-ish opera overture, a bit as if (as was the case) a Russian composer studied Italian light opera and then went home to write a Russian opera.
The Prokofiev was grand--a complex piece with a narrative quality. Though comprised of music originally written for an opera, the four varied movements lent themselves to all sorts of different interpretations. The to and fro alternation of music styles was intriguing. We really enjoyed this symphony, which I had never heard performed.
I was familiar with the Rimsky-Korsakov, and had just heard it on the local classical station a few weeks ago. It is just what it is advertised to be, a caprice by a Russian composer who wanted to give a somewhat French notion of what a Spanish caprice might sound like. It was great fun.
The play of the orchestra, and the conducting by Jim Gaffigan, was exemplary. The program was not long--less than 75 minutes. The admission was only 20 dollars. The church was huge, and I roughly guessed that over 1,000 people were in attendance.
I do not share much theology with that particular church, but they do have a pleasant concert space disguised as a sanctuary. The chairs were movie-theater chairs. The sound buffering and lighting was perfect. A kind young woman usher even advised us where to sit for the best acoustics. We really enjoyed the concert.
We next tried Taverna Rossa, the craft pizza place in Plano. We had a "Kona Fire" pizza. I liked that it went sparingly with the cheese. We noticed, though, that the jalapenos vastly outnumbered the slices of turkey Canadian bacon. Still, we liked the place and would eat there again. The pretzel we had for an appetizer was particularly good.
The rain began just after I finished my park walk today, and it falls still.It is what I think of as a California rain--light but persistent, with no thunder or lightning.We have gotten a half-inch so far, and expect another quarter-inch by tomorrow. We need the rain in our particular slice of droughtland.
Now we are about to watch the Roger Ebert documentary, assuming we do not get caught up in a PBS British mystery instead.