Thursday, December 30, 2010

Weekend Assignment: The Gift That Keeps On Living

Ack! I got sidetracked and missed my own Weekend Assignment deadline!

This week's Assignment is short and seasonal--again!

Weekend Assignment # 350: Best. Gift. Ever.
What is the best gift you've ever gotten from anyone?

Extra Credit: To the best of your recollection, what is the best gift you ever gave someone else?
I'm tempted to say the Chinon SLR I got for my birthday in 1986, but the real answer is this:

As I said at the time: Could be my Best Birthday Present Ever!

which led to this:

Pepper, the day we got her. We were calling her Newdog.

We had to bathe her twice in two days - the second time after
she dug her way out of the back yard!

Pepper is much harder to photograph these days. Whenever I turn on the camera she turns away! But that doesn't stop her from being a great dog and a great gift.

My best gift ever given, I was hoping, would be the one I was putting together for my brother Steve for Christmas this year. John and I have put many hours into putting it together, but we can't quite seem to get it right. It's meant to be a book, or at least a pdf file, if we can ever get the pages to appear in order with no duplications or superseded versions. The title page reads,

The Ruth Anne Johnson Songbook
Version 2.2
Songs and parodies by Dr. Ruth Anne Johnson Funk
Sheet music scanned by John Blocher
Lyrics transcribed from sheet music or memory by Karen Funk Blocher

Yes, it's a serious attempt to scan every page of surviving sheet music my Mom ever wrote, along with my transcriptions of many of her song lyrics. I've been carrying at least half a dozen of her songs in my head for forty years, more or less intact, with more fragmentary memories of her other efforts. Most of them were first performed in musical revues she wrote in the 1960s, and a one woman show she co-wrote for local stage star Bea Solomon in the early 1970s. An astonishing 20 songs of Mom's, some with original music, others with mom's lyrics set to Chopin and other composers, appeared in her show DeManleyville USA (1964) and its update, DeManleyville '65.

Obviously it was all a long time ago, and the people who performed those songs would be in their seventies or eighties by now, those who are still alive at all. I don't know if any of them would remember or care about The Ending of Desire or Come Back, G.E., or any of my mom's music from her Limestone Theater and Syracuse Little Theater days. But I care, and I know Steve cares. Now he will have everything I have in my mom's old notebooks, digitized and darkened and with some of the yellowing removed from the pages. She wrote mostly in pencil on staff paper, so it's important to get legible files out of them before the originals deteriorate any further.

Now if we can just get those pages in order on the PDF, I can get it sent off to Steve. By mail, that is. The last version of the pdf was 130 MB, and Steve's still on dial-up!


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