A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy ending!

The firefighters open the grate

Stormy right after he was rescued

Stormy 10 days later

On Sunday, June 14, Charlie Dewett of Oakland was driving to Laney College to watch his tennis team play when he stopped at a stoplight at the corner of Oak and 7th streets.
" I hard this unbelievably loud cry," he says. "It was like some creature was yelling, 'Help me! Help me!' I pulled over, and I could hear it was coming from a storm drain. I looked down, and there was this baby orange tabby kitten crying."
He managed to squeeze a little food and water through the grate – no easy task, believe me – to keep the kitten alive while he sought help. He called Animal Control, but they're closed on Sundays. He called the police, but no luck there, either.
This went on all day long. Charlie kept going home and coming back to check on the kitten. He was worried because it was turning into a cold night. But when he came back the next morning, the little guy was still alive.
Then he remembered meeting a woman named Gail Churchill, who volunteers for Island Cat Resources and Adoption in Alameda. A quick phone call later, and she was on her way to Oakland with a humane trap.
"We had two problems," Gail says. "One, could the kitten be enticed to go into the trap? And two, who would raise the 300-lb. metal grate on top of the drain? Oakland Fire Station No. 12 to the rescue! Charlie called them, and within 15 minutes they were there with the tools to raise the grate."
They baited the trap with cat food and waited.
"Monday came and went," says Gail. "Tuesday came and went. All this time, Charlie made many trips a day to check on the kitten's well being. Then we noticed the food in the trap was always gone, but the trap stayed open. It became apparent that the kitten was too light to set off the trap door.
"So on Wednesday morning we brought in a different and smaller trap. This time Charlie, along with two very nice BART policemen, lifted the grate, and the trap was lowered into the hole. Success! Within two hours we had the little guy, by now named Stormy, safe in the trap. Firemen from Station 12 again came to lift the trap out of the hole, and Stormy was on his way to my house for a good, warm bath and all the food he wanted!
"Stormy is settling in nicely and will stay with me until he is old enough to be neutered, about 2-3 weeks. At that time he will be put up for adoption, and we will make sure he gets the kind of 'furever' home where he never again has to think about his terrible start in life. Stormy wishes to thank, most of all, Charlie, for hearing his cries, and for never giving up on him. And those of us involved in this three-day ordeal wish to thank BART Police and the dedication of Fire Station No. 12 for their, many trips to move the grate for us."
If you'd like to adopt Stormy, you can check him out at ICRA's website, www.icraeastbay.org, in a couple of weeks. That's also where you can make a donation to this very worthy organization.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Music Hath Charms

                                         (Above: Maestro Cleve)

There will be many "mostly Mozart" music festivals throughout the country this summer; but there's only one dedicated exclusively to Mozart. And it's right here in the Bay Area.
It was founded in 1974 by Maestro George Cleve, one of the world's foremost Mozart intepreters, and his friends one night when they were kicking back with a few beers after rehearsing Mozart's opera, "The Abduction From The Seraglio."
"Wouldn't it be great if we could play nothing but Mozart all the time?" someone idly mused. They all looked at each other in amazement, and voila! The Midsummer Mozart Festival was born.
For more than four decades it has been serving up the greatest music ever composed – sorry, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms fans, but it is what it is - played by world-class musicians.
Two different programs will be presented over a two-week period. The first program will be at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford on July 16, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on July 17, and First Congregational Church in Berkeley on July 19. The second program will be at Stanford on July 20, San Francisco on July 24, and Berkeley on July 25. Visit midsummermozart.org to buy tickets and find out program details.
One of the most delectable offerings will be legendary pianist Seymour Lipkin playing Piano Concerto No. 27, K. 595, which happens to be Cleve's favorite. (Not for nothing does his email address start with gcleve595@........)
But for me, the highlight of the festival has to be Mozart's final symphony, No. 41, better known as the Jupiter Symphony. Mozart never actually called it that; it was nicknamed by an impresario named Johan Peter Salomon a few years after Mozart's death. But never was a moniker more appropriate.
The Jupiter is not only the greatest symphony ever written, the final movement is one of the most sublime moments in western art.
It's a marvel of musical virtuosity, in which Mozart attempted – and succeeded! - something nobody else ever dared: combining a fugue with a sonata in the same movement, with five different themes going all at once. Nobody could pull it off but him, but you hardly notice the skill because you're too busy being bowled over by the emotional impact.
Sir George Grove, who founded Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, wrote, "It is in the finale that Mozart has reserved all the resources of his science, and all the power, which no one seems to have possessed to the same degree with himself, of concealing that science, and making it the vehicle for music as pleasing as it is learned. Nowhere has he achieved more."
Let me put it another way. I've been hesitating to write this because you might think I've gone off the deep end, but I confess to feeling a stab of fear whenever I listen to that final movement because I'm always afraid I'll be turned into a pillar of salt for having listened to the voice of God.
There, I've said it. I know it sounds completely over the top, but listen for yourself and tell me if you don't feel that same apocalyptic rush.
But if you get turned into a pillar of salt, don't say I didn't warn you.