Friendship is where you find it


McZENA — Here’s a problem I gladly give you.

How do you explain to someone the why of falling in love with Gustav Mahler?

This is a sad thing to confess, of course.

Most of you probably don’t know a thing about Mahler.

I learned about this fine looking man, now gone, by playing lots of Solitaire with cards I had purchased from my friend Myrna Sislen, in Washington, D.C.

Myrna was a professional guitar player, who had a part in the Washington Guitar Quintet, playing with Charlie Byrd.

Now she owns a place called Middle C Music, in northwest Washington.

I go to her place to buy music, because in one of my other lives, I provide church music.

It’s sort of funny, actually, to consider the fact I get my music from Myrna, who is of the Jewish persuasion. The music I get is more traditional Protestant church music. But her selection is so vast that I buy jazz renditions of spirituals.

The last time I visited Myrna I bought this fancy set of Solitaire cards.

Inside is a photo and description of Gustav Mahler.

He is portrayed as in the romantic tradition of music. He was a conductor, symphony and opera director, and he did work with the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera.

He was born in 1860 in Kalischt, Bohemia, and died in 1911 in Vienna, Austria.

The reason you get to know someone like this is that in the world of journalism, there is much down time.

The poor lot of the journalist is to wait for the next meeting, wait for the return of the phone call, wait for the return of the email.

There are many times I have thought a lot about this problem, but the truth is it is not new.

For years I worked for the Des Moines Register, covering various agencies and then the Iowa Legislature.

You want to talk about a way one could do a job recumbent? That’s it.

I covered the Iowa House. To do that you sit with other reporters in a big long line of very bored journalists. One guy, who became somewhat known for his capacity to swill away his worries, would sit at his desk and write limericks.

You would form firm friendships with other reporters there, and a place fondly regarded was a joint named Kelly’s. This was frequented by legislators and journalists. Beer was one of the favorite selections for lunch.

Getting news then was easy, really. You just had to wait. And because the Des Moines Register was a newspaper of record, we took down everything. Whoever was assigned to the House or the Senate would carefully record bills which had been introduced. Every day. I had a seat in the law library, off to the side, where I could do work in private.

Now, in beautiful Bellville, I also sit and wait. On days like today, when a school board meeting is scheduled, that means waiting hours add up.

So, my fondness for Solitaire.

I have gotten pretty good at this game. Frequency will do that for you.

So while waiting I dole out the cards. There, staring up at me, has been the handsome visage of Gustav Mahler.

I even once spent time looking him up online, to find out a little bit more about him.

The reason my affections were taken by this gentleman is that he is handsome, in a Bohemian way.

And, he clearly had talent.

Every single time I play Solitaire I say hi to Gustav. He, so far, hasn’t responded.

Today I decided I could get something out of this regard for Gustav. Instead of saying hi to him every time I plunked down the cards, I decided to write about it.

I also decided I should look through the cards and find the 10 card he adorns.

I found him.

He is on the 10 card of the suit of hearts.

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