Passing the time: enjoy it and do well


McZENA MUSE - Louise Swartzwalder



One of the things people don’t like to talk about very much is the progression of time.

You can put reality away, and just remark lightly that it’s surprising how time gets away.

One of the things that cheers me up, I’ll confess, is that things do move quickly when you are doing something you enjoy. It can be growing great vegetables, or playing phenomenal music on your organ or piano, or writing something that you feel is a heartfelt message.

I do all those things.

I’ve expressed ambivalence many times about my preferred way to give my time.

I love growing vegetables and flowers — and for the record selling them at farmers’ markets.

A person looking at my history would see a very solid record of participating in such markets — in Washington, D.C., Cleveland and in Wayne and Ashland counties.

I am a true farm girl, having grown up at a farm just north of McZena. I remember getting sick and tired, and bored, with all the vegetables we would grow when I was young. My mother, a teacher, was diligent about caring for her vegetables and flowers.

Hence, my interest. A little known fact I will share with you. I use mom’s fantastic old hoe. It was one she treasured, and she would sometimes have to complain to dad that it wasn’t really sharp enough. In the garage was a place where he could do much tool work, including sharpening instruments.

When I grew up, mom also encouraged me and my sisters to take piano lessons. A worthy effort, in my opinion. My love of music has stayed with me.

Then, there is the later arriving ability to report things, and write them up for newspapers or other publications.

I love all those things.

Because I am something of a perfectionist, I sometimes get angry at myself for not being quite good enough.

This is why, I guess, there is a word like practice.

I have written much, and sometimes have used that as a kind of release. If there’s something that bothers you, a good way to alleviate your pain is to write about it.

I have found myself unhappy with a situation, a family member, even a pet.

If I sit down and write about it, I can get rid of my angst.

As for practicing music: for a time I didn’t do much of that because I was so busy with what I considered my true career. That was journalism. But I had bought an upright grand piano — an Ellington — at a place outside Des Moines in Iowa. That piano has traveled with me all over the country, following me in my various jobs.

This is a killer piano. I hired a guy who knew about pianos when I lived in Takoma Park, Md. He told me the Ellington was a keeper. It was old, finely strung and yielding a strong, resonating sound.

My current project — learning Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Bach.

I heard this played on a radio station in Washington, D.C. Husband John and I would be driving to work, and a man named Bill Cerri would play it on WAMU, a radio station.

At this stage in my life, when I am closer to looking toward the end point, I am practicing that fugue.

Occasionally I will see something posted on the web that cheers me up, and convinces me that I am not crazy to be trying to still perfect things.

One little gift today was to see this photo (attached) of actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne.

Douglas is 101, and Anne, 98.

You can see the age on them. But they’re still out there.

This is the way I wish to be, when I get closer to that 101 mark.

My mother lived to be 94. She was robust, beautiful and cheery until the end.

My college roommate and I share birthday dates that are close. Hers is right about now.

So here’s to you, T. Fraker.

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McZENA MUSE

Louise Swartzwalder