blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nice coincidence

Still thinking about California, San Francisco, its artistic communities and its extraordinary clouds,  I notice that the blogger of one of the "Blogs I follow" (Some Landscapes: see left hand column of this page) has just published a post about a piece of contemporary music that's inspired by the mists that linger over the San Francisco area. It's entitled Fog Tropes and you can click on the audio links to hear the music. It's good!

Talking of music, I've had an email from the Music and Beyond team boasting of the success of this year's festival in Ottawa:
Attendance this year surpassed 35,000, an increase of over 11% from 2011. Feedback from our surveys was overwhelmingly glowing with 99.7% stating they were satisfied with the event this year and 96% reporting a high level of satisfaction.
I didn't participate in the survey myself this year, but I'm pleased to hear about that.

In high cloud over the Rockies

July 21st
Written en route from San Francisco to Charlotte over the eastern end of the Nevada and Colorado deserts. We're in cloud; either we're flying low or this cloud is very high, probably the latter. It has been a noteworthy flight so far, with views of the long bridges over San Francisco Bay, of Oakland airport, the coastal ridges with their pale grassland, and the flat San Joaquin Valley, then the Sierra Nevada, beyond which are desert sands and rocks with occasional salt pans. At times, no roads are visible. Now we're emerging from the desert area, over Utah or Colorado, I think; I could see what looked like the Colorado River just then, flowing south and cutting deep canyons in the landscape.

During the last two days, we've been travelling around on the ground, in a car rented in San Pablo. Chris had finished work (talking about software for medical robots) on Wednesday, so successfully that his presence will be required in California again before the summer's out. In order to relax we drove across the Richmond Bridge to the Sausalito side of the Bay, twice making the mistake of joining the freeway in the wrong direction. so that we had to backtrack and try again. Not so relaxing after all, with the big trucks to contend with. Once off the busiest roads, heading in a more appropriate direction towards the Mt. Tamalpais State Park on Highway 1, we found a narrow road with with precipitous bends leading to Muir Woods. Chris didn't mind this kind of driving but it made me nervous, especially as some sections of the road had collapsed, reducing it to a single lane for traffic in both directions.

Muir Woods, justifiably well advertised as a place of wonder, had plenty of visitors, but parts of the trail system were quiet. The giant redwood trees there (Sequoia sempervirens) grow more than 100m tall. Birds were calling, but we didn't spot any animals other than dragonflies until reaching the café at the end of the trail where a chipmunk took an interest in our sandwiches. A stream that runs through the steep, mossy forest hardly seems to supply enough water for all that vegetation; in fact much of the moisture comes from that misty cloud we kept seeing, that's formed by damp air rising up the hillsides near the ocean. The phenomenon is known as fog drip. Tourists were taking photo after photo of the trees, especially in Cathedral Grove, awed by the size and age of them, but it's impossible to get adequate pictures.

Highway 1, between Muir Beach and Stinson Beach
On to Muir Beach, a rocky, sandy cove at the mouth of a creek supposedly inhabited by sea otters and bobcats––no sign of them; we'd have to come back at a quieter time of day. I found small jellyfish on the shore and a few people were in the cold water trying to surf on the turning tide. An opportunity for me to go barefoot, lovely. Driving over the cliffs from there, we dropped down towards a longer beach, Stinson Beach, more populated. We only stopped for ices before wandering on past Bolinas Lagoon and along Francis Drake Boulevard (another windy road with pitfalls) over the watershed in the Samuel P. Taylor State Park, through attractive scenery, a mixture of forest and grassy rolling hills which appealed to me very much, although I'm sure there are snakes in that grass. And so down the valley to Fairfax where people shop for organic veg., organic coffee, hempen clothing and magic cures for their ailments––you can picture it, I'm sure, a pretty little suburb of San Anselmo. No bookshops, however, and the same applied to Napa in the vineyard country where we stopped the following afternoon.

A blur of vineyards, on the way to Napa

Painted on a wall on First Street, Napa: famous inhabitants

To reach these places, unless you're an extreme sort of cyclist, it's obligatory to use a car and pay the tolls to cross the impressive bridges over the estuaries in the Bay. We risked a detour up the Napa Valley on Friday afternoon to see the famous vineyards and the rocky, Provence-like hills above them, but nearly didn't get our rental car back in time because of the slow-moving traffic on Highway 29 ... luckily we picked up speed on the I-80, the main road from Sacramento.

Wikipedia picture of a bluebird
I also took Chris for walks through the eucalyptus trees on Point Pinole on both the Thursday and the Friday. To my delight we saw herons (grey and white), low-flying hawks, jays, junkos, a hummingbird, goldfinches and bluebirds (the first time I've ever seen those) and we picked ripe blackberries by the shore.

We never made it to the Golden Gate Bridge ferry ride we'd planned for Friday, due to trouble with our on-line bookings and the printing of our boarding passes for this flight. The hotel's computer, running a Microsoft OS, kept breaking down and held us up too long to catch the boat. Never mind. It was a satisfying trip, even so.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Point Pinole

I have just come back from a 4 mile hike under the eucalyptus trees on Point Pinole, the nearest Regional Park to our hotel; though it cost me $30 in taxi fares to get there and back, it was well worth it. The weather's very fine and warmer, today. The eucalyptus trees were planted in the 1920s as a safety measure to reduce the effects of explosions from the production of dynamite at the plant once situated here.

To go further back in the history of the headland, it used to be where the Native Americans camped on fishing expeditions for crabs and shellfish until they began to die of cholera and smallpox in the 1830s. The Spanish called it the Punta de Concha and Francisco Maria Castro was given the first land grant in this area, raising longhorn cattle and sheep on the grass here, with his residence, the Rancho San Pablo, some way inland. (The part of Richmond where our hotel is situated is still called San Pablo.) Then Irish-American farmers bought the land and in the 1870s a Croatian fishing village established itself. Until World War I this was a popular weekend fishing retreat for wealthy gents from San Francisco.

The explosives manufacturing began in the 1880s, with the powder companies building a shipping wharf at the end of the Point, the remains of which I saw on my hike, next to the pier, which is still there (used now for fishing, again). From here, barges were loaded with dynamite that was carried to freighters and hence exported to the Philippines, to Central and South America and to Alaska. During the first World War, Point Pinole, under the jurisdiction of the Giant Powder Company, had its own railway station, school, bungalows and boarding houses for the explosives workers, many of them women and some of them Chinese; they were given "a privately owned recreation area called Giant Park with a dance hall, saloon, barbecue pits, bocce ball court, playground and picnic gazebos." After the stock market collapsed in 1929 the owner lost his fortune and closed the recreation area.

The Atlas Powder Co. then took over, planted the eucalypts and dismissed the female workers; the only women seen here after this were the so called "Dynamite Dorothys" of World War II.

Very quiet, it was, today, with very few other hikers and the wind blowing in the pale yellow grass and the leaves, the scent of eucalyptus and seaweed wafting over. I saw hawks, jays and goldfinches and a small lizard raised its head at me over a log. The views from the point of cliffs, beaches, marshland and the hills across the Bay were splendid.

Next door to the parking lot is the entrance to a large Detention Centre (prison).

Thought-provoking variety

I took the No. 76 bus from the Hill Top Mall through Richmond to El Cerrito del Norte station; the ride took nearly an hour and took me on an educational tour. Around the hilltop shopping area, which is predominantly extensive parking lots, are cosy, residential streets with irises, roses and palm trees in the small gardens of the bungalows. The bus winds around many street corners to Contra Costa College, a large secondary school complex surrounded by playing fields and Afro-American or Mexican faces. The Mexican people here, the slightly better off, perhaps, all speak Spanish and the girls, elaborately coiffeured, wearing tight patterened leggings and carrying puppies and prettified, pink cellphones, enhance their eyelashes in the bus. There are young mums too, very young, with less time or inclination to apply the makeup. A main thoroughfare through this area is called El Portal and the shops have names like Chico's Market & Meats and Fiesta Latina. Catholic churches abound and there's a big Catholic cemetery, also several casinos and liquor stores. In the Afro areas near the freight rail tracks, are "Missionary" and Baptist churches. I think religion must be what keeps people going here; observed from where I sat, the poverty was very apparent and the black people on the bus were very courteous to one another. I noticed a Foreclosure Help Centre and what looked like a junk yard, with a notice outside saying "Pick 'n Pull--freshest cars in town!" There were several warnings on the streets about a $1000 fine for littering, not a very effective threat, it seems. The houses round here, tiny clapboard shacks, reminded me of the houses on First Nations reservations in Canada; here they have a wealth of morning glory in bloom over their fences. I rode through a Drug Free (I hope) School Zone and passed an elementary school that was shockingly ugly, a sort of concrete warehouse with hardly any windows. However, it had a large poster on its wall promising a renovation job on this building: "Your bond dollars at work."

San Francisco seen from the train on the other side of the bay
The people on the bus were in a friendly mood and I don't think I need have worried about hanging around Richmond Station (though I'd been warned to avoid this area) because it looked renovated too, with quite attractive architecture and a clean concourse. I stayed on the bus a little longer and caught the San Francisco train at El Cerrito, getting out at Montague on Market Street in the heart of downtown. I didn't need to walk far to reach the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, opposite the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Yerba Buena Gardens. I spent a long time on the various levels of the SFMOMA, seeing a wonderful variety of paintings, photographs and sculpture, discovering work by artists from Klee to Kahlo to O'Keefe.

Painting by Miro
The atmosphere in the galleries was serious and studious, with visitors, a young man with pink hair and metal studs, for instance, taking notes and gazing intensely at the exhibits. I learned something about the American abstract artists Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still, Picasso / Dali imitators, and that Philip Guston and Jackson Pollock had been teenaged school friends in LA. Their early style, under the influence of the European surrealists, was classified as Abstract Expressionism. I learned that Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had lived in San Francisco for a year and a half in the 1930s; the Mexican gallery had some striking canvasses, including a close up of faces of Mexican soldiers (Zapatistas) in sombreros, carrying guns. There was also a significant painting of a revolver placed on a bare window sill: The Window, by Tamayo. A less disturbing pair of paintings by Rivera depicted flower carriers and tortilla makers, monumental peasant figures.
Portrait by Matisse

I found some of my favourite European artists again, a semi abstract painting of mountains (Gebirge) by Marc, several Matisse portraits and scenes from the 1900s and a shiny bronze sculpture by Brancusi: La negresse blonde, whose pursed lips made her look like a fish. Luckily I was allowed to take photos on my way round the collection, which is an unusual pleasure these days.

Special temporary exhibitions featured the structures created by Buckminster Fuller, a series of rooms of Cindy Sherman photos (I don't like these--they do reveal something about the USA though) and a documentary collection of sketches and information relating to the invention of the XO laptop computer that's been designed for school children in the developing world; the photos showed them being used in Rwanda, Afghanistan, Peru and Uruguay.

After the art, I shopped for stamps in Macy's, walked across Union Square, climbed the steep hill on Powell Street with tourists hanging on to the ancient streetcars on their way up and down, passed the Ritz, the Intercontinental and other posh hotels at the top and started walking down the other side of the hill with a view of the water again, turning right to come through China Town on my way back to the BART station. The journeys to and from the city took me nearly 2 hours each way, so I had to keep my eye on the clock.

After the meal at Fonda's, photo by Hasnat Aqil
For the last two evenings we've been driven out to supper by Chris' QNX colleague who's the field engineer in this area. On Monday night we ate at the Ajanta Indian restaurant on Solano Avenue in Albany and last night we returned to Solano Avenue to eat at Fonda's, a tapas meal. Both meals were excellent, and the diners at these places very, very different from the people whose lives I'd glimpsed in Richmond. The little bungalows in Albany sell for a million dollars or more; obviously, it's the location that one pays for.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A couple more concerts

Was it only a week and a half ago that the Music and Beyond festival started, back in Ottawa? I have brought some pages of the programme on holiday with me, in order to catch up with the record of the concerts I went to, before I forget, for example, that I heard Germany's Menahem Pressler play the piano in a performance of Mozart and Beethoven Quintets for piano and wind on Friday, July 6th, the oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon parts played by the principals from our local National Arts Centre Orchestra, all tall men, especially in comparison with the venerable pianist who looked half their size when they all stood up to bow. Pressler is now 86 years old, but doesn't seem to have lost his touch at all. Such beautiful melody lines for all the instruments in these pieces.

That afternoon, after a hasty lunch, I returned to the same venue for another, longer concert, this one featuring the works of Jewish composers through the ages, performed by a large group of musicians, taking turns to appear on stage. Despite the fact that until the 18th century little Jewish music was allowed public performances except in the synagogue (as festival director Julan Armour announced), a wide variety of music was presented to us, the first piece a Renaissance style Aria d'un Balletto, from an Italian-Jewish composer, Salamone Rossi, the first violinist playing an 18th century violin for this. Very fine music it was. There followed a movement from Meyerbeer's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, like something by Weber or Rossini, but with a distinctly Jewish, folksy flavour in the penultimate variation (it was in Rondo form). In a similar style, but with a grander accompaniment on the piano, we then heard the Kihan for cello by Stutschewsky, and a Hungarian Rhapsody by David Popper, played mostly from memory by Paul Merleyn, whom I have seen performing several times before, though it only just strikes me that he looks very like Ian Bostrich. The composer was "the greatest cellist of his day," according to Mr. Armour, "the Paganini of 'cellists."

The rest of the concert presented 20th century music, an evocative piece called Quiet City for 13 players, by Aaron Copland, a Suite for Two Violins, Cello and Piano by Korngold and two preludes for the piano by Gershwin. Shades of R. Strauss in the Korngold who spent ten years of his life composing for Hollywood. What we think of as "film music" is actually late Viennese, said Armour, because its composers were not really American but European, Jews in exile during the war years. Another interesting aside was that Gershwin used to play tennis with Schoenberg in America (Schoenberg was Jewish, too). They respected one another's very different music greatly.

The concert finished enjoyably with a Canadian-Jewish piece by Srul Irving Glick, the Old Toronto Klezmer Suite, the second section including a slow duet between viola and 'cello (played by Mr. and Mrs. Armour) and the last one a lively Klezmer dance depicting The Rabbi's Wedding at the Palmerston Street Shul.

Seth and "all of human life"

I had the good fortune to see Vikram Seth in Ottawa last week. He was introducing the 3rd part of his creation (co-created with the composer Alec Roth): The Rivered Earth. I heard the famous writer introduce it at Dominion Chalmers Church himself, with the musicians ready to launch into the lunch hour performance.
A thin, small man, an aesthete, he told the audience that this part of the Rivered Earth cycle "takes me back home to India" because it uses translations of ancient Indian texts about Krishna as well as some of his (Seth's) own poems. A lady sitting in front of me was following them from his book as he read them out and as the music progressed. Parts 1 and 2 of the cycle had drawn on poems by the Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty, Du Fu, and on poems by George Herbert.
In Indian philosophical traditions, the universe was composed of five elements: earth, fire, water, air and space (sky). Not only does The Rivered Earth try to express this, but when planning Part 3 for the 750th anniversary of Salisbury Cathedral, Seth decided it should have a human element too: "Why not all of human life?" he asked himself. Quite an ambitious project! Anyhow, it attempts to describe or comment upon the stages of human life from an Indian point of view: pre-birth, childhood, youth, old age, death, with the tenor speaking stanzas from hymns to creation before each section of the music and the solo violinist adding an "etherial meditation." Other musicians taking part were a small orchestra consisting of 7 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos and a double bass, 2 percussionists and a harpist. Besides the instrumentalists there were two choirs singing: 15 children singing in unison (directed by the Cathedral choir man, Matthew Larkin), and Ottawa's elite chamber choir, the Seventeen Voyces, in prodigious harmony, who processed in from the back of the church behind the solo violinist at the start. The children's choir sang settings of Hindi nursery rhymes, like the way Mahler's symphonies incorporate young voices. One rhyme went something like "...chutney made from female frog ... drink it and you're drunk! ..." and another was about the child Krishna asking his mother for the moon (literally) that he could see reflected in a bucket. To match the Tamil classics, as I mentioned above, many of the words set were Vikram Seth's own, such as this poignant couplet about someone looking in the mirror in old age:
Who is this stranger, foolish-wise,/ Who looks at you with your own eyes?
The music and seriousness of intent from the creators and performers was so overwhelming that I came away afterwards shaking with emotion. Tremendous!

P.S. Another blogger has mentioned this concert: click here.

Smallest rooms

Between flights at Chicago O'Hare I had time to draft a blogpost about toilets I have known. Last week we had a couple of new "ultra high efficiency" ones from the Ottawa Envirocentre installed in our house in which the flush works by a suction - syphon mechanism, involving a reservoir of air and only 3 litres of water per flush. The contractor who fitted them told me my water bills would halve, now; that remains to be seen. However, what inspired this post wasn't the eco friendly toilets at home but the seat in the Ladies' at this airport. Swathed in a plastic bag, it was, as if straight from the packing box, but the point was to keep the seat clean. A list of instructions told me to wave my hand near the sensor, at which the seat rim appeared to swivel, exposing a presumably cleaner section for sitting on. On second thoughts, it was the plastic that swivelled, not the seat: that was an optical illusion. Now this is something I didn't experience in Tokyo, though the Japanese are hygiene conscious too, with their devices that don't only flush the bowl but flush you, too. Those had more comfortable seats than a plastic bag; they were gently warmed and padded. At the other extreme are the holes in the ground to squat above in Beijing, Hangzhou and central France (at the Viaduc de Millau pitstop). Some of the cafe toilets in Barcelona were rather olde worlde as well, with a chain to pull--how often do you see one of those, these days?--and so cramped that even turning round in one was a challenge, and I'm small. For most of the people walking past me in Chicago, the situation would have been impossible. The most memorable toilet of my travels, though, was the one I sat on in a 2 star hotel somewhere in France in 1993. That was in a much more spacious room, a bathroom with floor to ceiling sash windows on the first floor up, at the corner of the building from whence, while sitting on the Throne, I had a magnificent view of the main street below and all the shoppers.

First visit to San Francisco

After breakfast a taxi to El Cerrito del Norte, where a BART train stops, at the first stop after Richmond station, said to be less salubrious. We caught a train to MacArthur on the edge of Oakland, changing there to another line that would reach the San Francisco waterfront, the Embarcadero. It was crowded in the stations with baseball fans wearing orange caps (and a little girl carried an orange teddy bear). Up to the surface on Market Street-- we'd crossed the Bay underground, underneath the Bay Bridge over which we'd been driven last night.

Our first stop for refreshment and a sit-down was at a New York bagel outlet, Noah's. Here's Chris outside Noah's, with a jazz trio, saxophonist and friends, just out of sight behind us.

Then we crossed the plaza and main road by the water's edge, to wander a long way along the Embarcadero from Pier 1 to Pier 45. The busiest was Pier 39 and in that area I remembered the Scarborough sea front. There was a whole museum (former warehouse) full of slot machines dating back to the 1890s, still in use by the masses of tourists whose tastes still aren't very sophisticated. There was an Aquarium, tour boat docks, and (as I rightly anticipated) a Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum. We had some fresh and tasty fish and chips in mock newspaper, served to us by a couple of Mexican girls who appeared to be about 12 years old. Then we walked further, stopping frequently to gaze at the superb views across the Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge (topped with low clouds) and Alcatraz prison on its island, the many and various ships and boats and the distant hills. Moored at Pier 45 was a very large Liberty Ship (built in the 2nd World War and now a museum ship) and a US navy submarine of the same vintage.

The weather all day was glorious, bright, sunny, cool, clear and breezy. Choppy waves broke against the sides of the boats; cormorants and pelicans flew by. Every tourist attraction had a queue in front of it, so instead of joining one of these we decided to walk up Telegraph Hill, one of San Francisco's many steep slopes. I have never been in such a hilly city except perhaps Barcelona. In fact it reminded me very strongly of Barcelona with Spanish vocabulary everywhere, the muddle of houses, the Spanish style of architecture, the panoramas and the long seafront. Coming down the other side of the hill back into the main part of the city we had to watch our step, the pavements were so steep and uneven. No escalators here as there had been in Barcelona. The sidewalks looked ancient as did the famous electric ("emission free") trams-- or street cars, I should say.

Much more to add about all this, but I'm  sleepy. We made use of the outdoor pool for a while when we got back to the hotel and this evening had a really good Mexican supper at Chevvy's across the road from the hotel, a restaurant that has an eye catching slogan posted outside, saying : "BEHOLD! The ten hour Happy Hour." The sunset seen from our room was gorgeous, as were the flowers and flowering trees we saw today.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On another trip

We're away again! I'm writing this at the Courtyard Marriott hotel near the Hilltop Mall (!) in Richmond, CA. We explored the Mall last night after discovering that the charger for Chris' cellphone had been left at home in the kitchen (deliberate use of passive verb there). The mall has a little "train" to ride on from one anchor store to the next, if you wish, and the shop assistants are mostly Spanish speakers. In fact I used my Spanish last night. Outside our window, with a misty view of The Bay east of San Francisco, are two tall pine trees that sway in the breeze. We're on a level with the tops of the pine trees.

Moving walkway at Chicago Airport
Yesterday's flight across the continent was enjoyable, allowing us remarkable views of Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyscrapers. Chicago O'Hare airport was predictably huge and we had nearly 5 hours in which to wander around Terminal 1, which has 5 concourses. I liked the decorations in the underground passage between them -- jazzy lights and curves. Flying on to SFO on a direct flight rather than the two legs via Las Vegas that we'd booked (the Ottawa flight was late setting off so the agent rerouted us) we overflew a great river, the Missouri perhaps, the prairies and the foothills, desert like, of the Rockies, then the snowy steep mountains themselves, with spectacular anvil clouds over part of them. Orographic cloud over the coastal hills as we approached the Bay, Chris remembering the approach from the old flight sim we used to play with in Cwmbran 20 years ago, on the Atari computer we used to own. Our luggage had come ahead of us on a previous flight.

Thunder clouds over the Rockies

A long taxi ride with a Chinese speaking gentleman to where we're staying cost us $100, and it's just as well I had printed out the google map instructions or he'd have got lost. We crossed big bridges across the Bay past the container port and had good views of the city skyscrapers.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bach, Haydn and company

The first of the Music and Beyond events I went to was at Tabaret Hall on Thursday morning, a "Coffee Concert." This was a selection of trios and sonatas by J.S. Bach, the players using instruments of Bach's period. According to the programme notes, the "Baroque 'cellist" is a "vibrant presence in the Montreal early music community"––it seems musicians have to specialise these days. The oboist is an "American Bach Soloist," the violinist directs the Tilford Bach Society in the UK and the harpsichord player is Ottawa's cathedral organist (Matthew Larkin).

The "trios" were actually duets for violin and oboe, the other two players underlining their counterpoint with a basso continuo, effectively pre-classical quartets. The sonatas on the programme, one for violin, the other for oboe, were also trios, arrangements of 3-part organ works (separate lines of music for the left and right hands and the feet). The C# minor Adagio of BWV1016 was a beautifully "etherial" piece of music, as the violinist told us between items––it meant a lot to him as he'd first met his wife after hearing her play this on the flute.

After this concert I pedalled my bike over the canal and through the grounds of City Hall to arrive at the next concert with only a minute to spare; because the volunteer ushers were late admitting people from the long queue round the block it didn't matter. At this concert in the blessedly air-conditioned Dominion Chalmers United Church I heard the Fine Arts Quartet from Wisconsin-Milwaukee university; its two violinists have kept this ensemble together since the 1980s; the other two players have joined them more recently, bringing superb instruments with them. The viola's tone seemed as rich as the 'cello's and had an unusually shaped "belly." They performed three quartets for us.

Haydn's Opus 74, No. 2 is absolute magic, especially the Andante Grazioso, gracious indeed, that features a luscious 'cello line at the start, with the other three parts in close harmony, a variation in the minor with the 2nd violin given prominence and a triplet accompaniment of the two upper parts in the last variation. Haydn was a true democrat, giving everyone an equal voice. The surprise cadences in the Menuetto are also typical of him. The other two quartets in this concert were by Dohnanyi and Zimbalist writing in the Dvorak style (although they were Hungarian and Russian, not Czech), romantic, folksy music. Easy listening, I'd call it, not as subtle as the Haydn, but it's probably not fair to make comparisons.

(I wrote this post at the flying club, yesterday, while Chris was taking the German Ambassador and his wife for a ride in PTN.)