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Pauline Lerner

May 5, 2005 at 6:26 AM

Today was a great day for playing hookie. I neglected all the things I was supposed to do indoors and enjoyed spring. Sunshine, clear blue sky, and comfortable temperatures – an unusual and welcome threesome. I ambled around with my camera, noticed things, and photographed a few of them.

Tonight we had a string sectional, and we needed it, too. Our concert is only a month away, and we’d better accomplish a lot in that month. Some of the music we’re playing is downright challenging. My favorite among our current pieces is Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. There is so much going on within that piece. It is so personal and so emotional. I also like Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Haydn. Parts of it are challenging, especially the Finale, which is in Presto, but it’s well worth the effort because it’s so pretty. We string players had a good time playing Wellington’s Victory tonight without the rest of the orchestra. We could actually hear ourselves. At our previous rehearsal, I couldn’t cope with the sound of four trumpets just behind my head.

The venue for tonight’s rehearsal was very interesting. Instead of the church where we normally practice, we were in a nursing home. We had an open rehearsal and the residents enjoyed the opportunity to hear us. We normally have snacks (junk food) for our break halfway through the rehearsal. Tonight I didn’t eat dinner before the rehearsal so I brought an apple with me. When we stopped for our break, we had a wonderful surprise. The staff at the nursing home invited us to have hors d’oeuvres with them. We went into an elegantly furnished room with long tables with white tablecloths and wonderful food. There were several kinds of cheese with crackers and also sliced fruit to dip in a large serving bowl filled with melted chocolate. Wow! Then someone told us that we could go to another room for hot hors d’oeuvres and dessert. The hot hors d’oeuvres included shrimp toast, stuffed mushrooms, sesame chicken, and Beef Wellington. I had some of the latter in honor of the Victory music. The dessert table was incredible. Everything was delicious, even the non-chocolate items. I must have consumed twice my monthly dietary allowance for carbohydrates. I asked the staff why we were being feted this way, and I was told that this was an annual event for the residents. I didn’t think they did all that just for us.

The nursing home was large and lavishly decorated. The residents must come from wealthy families. I talked to one of the staff members about who stays there and why. She said that most of their residents come in ambulances from local hospitals and stay for a limited duration for rehab. However, some stay for long term nursing care if they can not take care of themselves or be cared for at home. The opulence and the needy were quite a contrast. There was an excess of gourmet food tonight, so everyone benefitted from our presence.

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