heather pierson

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The Nines of Open Mic
January 28, 2011
by Mardy Seavey

We’re all dressed to the nines tonight.
Its nine years of the Open Mic!
We’re up on cloud nine tonight.
Its nine years of the Open Mic!
We want the whole nine yards tonight.
Its nine years of the Open Mic!
The nine worthies are here tonight,
One for each year of the Open Mic.
So we gotta swing to the nines tonight,
‘Cause its nine years of
Heather Pierson’s great Open Mic!

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OK, I’m still on a high I guess from participating in Heather Pierson’s Open Mic last night at our First Universalist Church of Norway, Maine. I recited/read three poems, there was a great young comedian, and the great character Wellington was there with his wife, and some of the other performers, like Nate Towne, and Harry [?], and Bob Wallace, were great too. Am I including myself under the word “great”? Ha Ha. Hardly! I think I was a bit over the top in trying to get attention for the poems I read, but I felt powerful and enjoyed getting laughs — certainly different from the old days when I was so shy and frightened up there on the Open Mic stage trying to be perfect. And to top it all off, the Rev. Richard Beal was there providing scrumptious popcorn which I couldn’t resist.

For the record, here’s the poems I read: (1) Poem XXXII from Alfred E. Housman’s Shropshire Lads (note he’s not Alfred E. Newman) with the first line. From far, from eve and morning; (2) Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens of which I read only the first stanza and part of the final, and last but not least (3) Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath. Quite a bunch! I gave my personalized interpretation of each.

Perhaps I’ll add more to this later. I’ve probably forgotten things I should mention. OH, I forgot the Rev. Tom Myorie (sp?), and Mary Uke! More later.

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Is it that mind-blowing? Depends on where you are I guess. Here in western Maine it’s a pretty normal spring. Lotsa cool rainy days with some sun, that kinda thing.

The flies (black) are out in force now. It’s hard to just stand still without a swarm building up around you. But yesterday I went for a quick walk through the woods around our property across the street and managed to avoid being bitten. That’s because I kept going.

Oh, I haven’t been doing much blogging of late, or even worse, visited anyone else’s blog. I’ve been distracted by a lot of other things. But I did change the heading picture — got rid of those porcupines and added my old Spring has Sprung header, with a new title about what Spring has Sprung means heah in Maine.

Oh, and I just added a neat colored twitter badge. But is twitter starting to loose its popularity now, just as I get interested in it?

Yesterday I found a great tutorial on the brain, the human brain. (I’m trying to find out how it works before I lose too many more neurons.) It’s a great informal lecture series in about 50 or so YouTubes by a guy by the name of Walid Aziz. And there is this wonderful psychedelic music in the background that really helps. It’s amazing in fact. I did the first 19 of them, not that I absorbed it all.

Today we’re having another Growth Group meeting over at the Bridgton library. The purpose is to plan how to increase attendance and church membership at the First Universalist Church of Norway Maine of which Cynthia and I are members. One thing we want to do is think of another name for Growth Group because it’s too easily slurred into Grope Group, and that’s NOT what it is.

Other than that I still enjoy singing in Heather Pierson’s choir at the church, enjoy the challenge of being the church treasurer, still have difficulties sleeping, still watching videos on the Science Network, but not doing as much blogging or reading other people’s blogs as much as I used to. Can’t do everything.

Maybe I’m going through a phase.

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I’m a little late in posting this but better late than never. We had a great concert last Sunday from 2 to 3pm at the First Universalist Church of Norway in Norway, Maine. It was musically arranged by Heather Pierson, the cause being the repair of the church belfry. Bernice Martin gave opening and closing words, and seeds were passed out mid-way for replenishing the earth. Heather and Mary Uke Hargreaves were featured performers along with the choir of the church. Heather was totally awesome in her playing and singing of her own music, Mary was totally delightful in singing her creations accompanying herself on the ukulele, and yes, the choir rocked! Here’s a couple pictures, taken by a friend of Heather’s named Eric, of the choir singing Earth Day songs at Heather’s Open Mic the previous evening:

Left to right, Heather Pierson (the director), Rowena Palmer, Nancy Wood, Dolores Farr, Douglas Leathem, Marden Seavey, Bernice Martin, Kevin Farr, Sallie Nealand, Cynthia Seavey

The following quote from John Lennon was included on the program: Imagine all the people living in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

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More Fun in Church

Fun in church again today. Richard (our minister) created a “Lighter and Brighter” service dedicated to easing any growing winter blahs. This worked! My blahs were definitely eased and it appeared to me from my vantage point in the choir that the blahs of the rest of the congregation were eased as well. In fact Kathy happily lit a candle for the big fat robin she had seen yesterday, and Heather lit one for the amazing shooting star she saw last night on driving home from performing at the White Mountain Hotel. Were these premonitions of the paradigm shift we experienced in church today? Ha Ha Who knows? Speaking of paradigm shifts, Richard arrived in a light tan suit with a yellow tie and proceeded to give us opening words in jumpy jazz rhythm.

He invited Mary Hargreaves, better known as Mary Ukelady, to help us sing away the winter blues, and she was terrific as usual. She and Heather did a great duet together, and also Heather, our choir director, did her amazingly awesome new song, Make It Mine, that she did at the Open Mic on Friday. The choir put on a show of its own with an exciting do-do-wah song which Heather had picked out for it. We had the congregation jumping, yes, almost literally.

Speaking of the Open Mic on Friday, that was terrific too. There may have been upwards of 60 people squeezed into the concert hall in the church basement. Heather, leader of the Open Mic, had to cut the number of songs per performer back to two from three in order to fit everyone in. The choir did “One More Circle” by Peter Mayer, arr. Jim Scott, and I think we really bashed it. Yippeeee!

So what do all these fun and games have to do with bettering the state of the world and the people suffering in it? Are people suffering? Absolutely! But the purpose of our celebration today was to celebrate life, the world, and our amazingly good fortune to be alive in it, to be thankful, ever so thankful that we live, have life and love for this brief time on earth. And every person’s death diminishes us.

How about I close with John Donne’s famous poem?

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Many years ago at the Arlington Street Church in Boston we did a Vaughn Williams musical arrangement of this poem. Wish I still had it.

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Wow, I’m not going to take THAT again . There I was around 3am last Saturday morning, sitting peacefully on the toilet when suddenly I felt violently ill, and the next thing I knew my cheek was hit by a cold bathroom tile. A few seconds later I realized I had passed out. My wife helped me up off the bathroom floor and guided me back to bed.

It seems I had taken a 2mg dosage of the Doxazosin Mesylate (brand name innocuous enough: Cardura) around 10:30pm Friday evening. This was my first time with the stuff and I thought I’d give it a whirl. After all, I had a great time at the Halloween Open Mic Friday evening and particularly enjoyed singing my favorite song, with Heather Pierson’s great piano accompaniment, When the Night Wind Howls out of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore. But it turned out it was Cardura that gave me the whirl!

This medication was prescribed for me by a urologist because of its effectiveness in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate). But also it’s a blood pressure medicine, a so-called alpha blocker, and I’m already taking a beta blocker for my hypertension. How many blockers can one tolerate? Too many blockers and blood pressure could in principle go to zero! Not good.

The info sheet on the medication, which I hadn’t read, warns about the dizziness it could produce, due to blood pressure and heart rate drop, so the advice is to take the pill at bedtime. Of course, a person with that benign prostatic hyperplasia, like me, might want to get up to go to the bathroom. End of story.

My fall on the cold bathroom floor caused quite a bruise on the side of the head and also my back and side muscles were badly bruised, so that when I got back in bed I found I couldn’t move without experiencing severe pain. So, off to the emergency room I went on a stretcher. My first ambulance ride. The Doc on call over the weekend has rearranged my hypertension and other meds, and the day after tomorrow I’ll go to my primary care provider and reevaluate the meds.

Maybe I should go off my meds entirely!!! YIPPPEEEEE! Off my meds!! Well, only for a day as a celebration if Obama wins tomorrow! If he doesn’t, maybe I’ll just double up on them and go poof.

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I’d better get this all down while it’s still fresh in my mind. Where to start? Why not at my arrival in the sanctuary Saturday around 11am? Yes! What should I find but a group of about ten or twelve Bradley family members singing a Finnish song. David had had a long association with the Finns, starting as a newspaper reporter to cover the Finnish-Russian Winter War. The song was beautifully sung in Finnish.

Soon they got around to rehearsing Goin’ Home and I found out their whole group expected to participate as well. This was fine with me. They allowed me to sing my beginning solo on the first few bars, and I felt I hit this really well. The reason I got to participate at all was that Dave had wanted me to sing this song. As the song went on to the higher notes, I actually found them easier to sing and I surprised myself by hitting the high Fs in what I felt was a full Lawrence Tibbett fashion!

The various rehearsals — there were other songs as well — finished around Noon and then a one hour wait began for the service to begin at 1pm. The Bradley folk were writing further notes on what they would say during the remembrance portions of the service, and some were having sandwiches. Darby Bradley passed out water bottles and others got their boxes of tissues ready. I ate a single tangelo, which I realized later was not enough.

Shortly before 1pm I sat with our choir and my water bottle handy. Right about 1pm the troop of Bradleys — there must have been 25 or 30 in all — walked into the sanctuary and took their places in the front rows. We were in front but off to the side just behind the piano where Heather Pierson was ready. The minister, the Rev. Richard Beal, gave a short and thoughtful welcome to the 150 or so people in the sanctuary, and then Ben Tucker III strode to the podium to announce the Joyous Jubilation that was about to begin. He began by warning that the service could be a long one and that we ought to feel free to move around or take a necessary break if needs be. This got me thinking, Oh oh, this isn’t going to be over in a half hour! I swallowed hard and took a drink from my water bottle.

Ben Tucker III’s speech was indeed joyous and jubilant as he described the reasons for celebrating David Bradley’s truly amazing life as a skier, sailer, mountain climber, war correspondent, doctor, author, atomic energy lecturer, legislator, teacher, singer, mentor, husband, and father of six children. And I might add, practical joker and humorist, although I think Ben probably did cover this as well.

First to celebrate was Dave’s youngest son, Steven, with an assist from Nicolette Corrao who is married to one of Dave’s sons. Steven had a tough time speaking at first with tears and Nicky had to keep pushing the mic closer, but when he got to singing, it was beautiful. He had written this music to his Dad’s poem and homage to his mother, Josephine.

Next came a teenage granddaughter, Caitlin Morgan, who had been sitting in the pew across from me with a box of tissues. She tearfully spoke and delivered a short poem. I had trouble catching it. This is partly because I’m not wearing my uncomfortable but expensive hearing aids.

Then the Family Remembrances began. These indeed took quite a while but were interesting and moving. A grandson, Markus Bradley, bearded in his early 20′s started it off. He was a charming fellow and I caught a few of his interesting stories involving his granddad.

OK, this post is getting too long and I’m running out of steam. I’ll never be able to recapture all of this amazing and inspirational event. So what about me?

After several other celebratory events, there came a time for General Remembrances from anyone in the audience. Needing desperately to urinate, and knowing that the toilet was outside the door just beyond the mic, I rushed up after the first speaker had finished his five or ten minute speech — it was interesting and about Dave’s relationship to Finland but I missed a lot — grabbed the mic and told how I used to sit beside Dave in the choir. That helped cement a friendship between us, and I told of the time there was this discussion amongst the women in the front row which I — being slightly deaf as I’ve implied — couldn’t hear very well. Dave was even deafer than me, but I asked him, “What are they saying?” He waved his hand to say, “It doesn’t matter.” This drew quite a bit of laughter from the audience. Then I headed for the toilet, and returned later to my seat after waiting for another long-winded but interesting story-teller finish his remembrances of Dave.

By the time it got to be my turn to join the group and sing Goin’ Home, I was worn out from the long wait and lack of food. So, I don’t think I did as well with the song as during the rehearsal. But still, I felt good about it, hit the high notes well, and kept from crying. Before I sang and just before the Benediction by Rev. Beal, Nicolette Corrao gave a powerfully beautiful performance of Gounod’s Ave Maria.

Finally, Ben Tucker III gave inspirational and profound Closing Remarks and everyone held hands for the closing prayer about the importance of our mutual love. We were all eager after this to sample the great supplies of food put together downstairs by church member Kathi Pewitt and her helpers.

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