Sunday, February 18, 2007

Not your everyday pub grub, The little ice age, and a blast from the past

For Valentine's Day, Tomcat took me to a local English pub whose chef (I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but they actually do have a chef) prepared a four-course dinner that was divine.

But that's not all Tomcat had up his sleeve to celebrate this romantic holiday. The next night, we had box-seat tickets to the Symphony to hear Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet! [swoon] Actually, it was "just" the overture. They followed with a couple of Ravel pieces (not Bolero, thank God). An Israeli violinist made his Dallas debut playing a 1690 Stradivarius. [where are my smelling salts?]

Of course, for centuries people have tried to find the secret they believed Stradivari must have had in order to make his violins produce their famous "sweet" tone. Recently, scientists have postulated that it had nothing to do with the varnishes or glues that he used - dismissing the theory that he had a secret formula - but it was the unique composition of the wood itself. Europe suffered a mini ice age between 1645 and 1715, which slowed tree growth. This may have produced the ideal cell density for sound resonance in his violins. [Did "Little Ice Age" Create Stradivarius Violins' Famous Tone?]

Speaking of blasts from the past, I received a letter last week from a long-lost friend who had tracked me down after 38 years! I couldn't believe it. We were teenagers when we met, a time when a three-year age difference meant something. Since she was the elder, I looked up to her as the most sophisticated creature I had ever met: she smoked and knew how to drive. It was amazing to see her again. Here we were, both past middle-age, staying up 'til two o'clock in the morning yakking away as if no time had passed at all. People, if you've lost friends from your past, please try to get back in touch with them. It's a good thing.