#172: HARP STRINGS AND DRAPERY SHEARS
A little story about setting boundaries plus a pie recipe to help that practice.
HARP STRINGS AND DRAPERY SHEARS
For my ninth birthday back in 1963, my mom gives me the complete score to The Fantasticks. Written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, it has the honor of being the longest running off-Broadway musical ever. Mom knows how much I love the music as I listen to the LP over and over on our record player. When I unwrap it, I run to one of the grand pianos in our living room, which doubles as her music studio, and play through it in its entirety. When I finish I turn back to page one and play it through again. For me, it is The. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever and in the years that follow, the score’s purple cover becomes tattered and worn. Bach’s “French Suites,” Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words,” Mozart’s Piano Concerto for Two Pianos in E-Flat Major, and many others earn that tattered cover badge of honor, too.
The Fantasticks is scored for piano, harp, and actor-singers. One year, a community theater not too far from me announces a month long run of the show and I am hired as pianist. The director agrees with me that the show must have a grand piano. The theater is up two flights of stairs and there is no elevator so it must be carried up. At our first rehearsal, I find it placed perfectly on stage right opposite a full-size harp on stage left. The harpist, who has spent many years as a performer on cruise ships, is a friend of the music director and it becomes apparent in our first run-through that he loves the score, too. I think, “What fun this is going to be!”
Solos for either harp or piano are clearly marked in the score. Obviously, I don’t play the harp solos but the harpist occasionally plays along with those marked for piano. When I ask him why he’s playing them he says, “It’s just so fun!” “I know it is but please, don’t.” I say. He promises he won’t play them in performance and I take him at his word, but talk is cheap and, during the run of the show, he keeps playing them with me. Backstage at intermission one night, I ask once again that he please stop. This works for a bit only to start up again after a few more performances.
2nd Anniversary Sale through July 7 on Annual Subsriptions
A skilled musician can subtly change and control tempi by sub-dividing beats and, with a smile on his face and a wink of the eye towards me, this is exactly what he does. I find it disconcerting, frustrating, and, quite honestly, more than a little disrespectful, so now I mention something to the music director who says he will speak to my over-zealous partner.
The next night, I glance over to see him raise his arms, place his hands on his harp strings, and flash me a cheshire cat grin before proceding to throw shade on the first of the piano solos. He doesn’t play on the next few piano solos, but then he starts playing with me again. Now, I don’t know when he’s going to play and when he’s not. I decide it’s time for a more direct approach.
At an estate sale a few weeks before, I buy a pair of large drapery and carpet shears. They are the largest scissors I have ever seen with heavy-duty blades that look like they could cut through just about anything. I don’t know what I will use them for when I buy them, just that someday the right project will come along and I’ll kick myself if I don’t have them. Into my sewing basket they go.
I’m about to get into the car to drive to the theater for a Saturday matinee performance when I remember the shears. I retrace my steps to the house, walk upstairs, get them out of the sewing basket. “Dare I? Hmmmmm.” I tuck them into my purse.
As luck would have it, when I arrive at the parking lot the harpist’s path and mine intersect. While we walk together towards the theater entrance, I smile and say to him, “If you don’t stop stepping on my solos, I will cut your effing strings!” Although, the actual word I use is a lot stronger than “eff.” Then, while keeping that big grin on my face, I reach into my purse and pull out those enormous shears. By the look of complete shock on his face, I don’t think he can believe that the mild-mannered accompanist who sits across the stage from him would #1— use an expletive and #2—threaten to solve the issue by cutting his precious harp strings, definitively solving this once and for all.
Needless to say, my tactic works and, for the remainder of the run, all solos, both his and mine, are executed as laid out in the score.
In order to hold boundaries when needed, learning to keep them is something that needs regular practice. Now, I don’t recommend threatening anyone with sharp shears, but practice with pie is one way that works for me. Let me explain.
If pie dough droops over the edge of the pie pan it may melt and burn on the sides—and although unseen—the rim of the crust may also burn underneath. The same thing is true when putting too much filling in a pie only to have it boil out during the bake giving both a smokey kitchen and an oven that needs cleaning. So, I practice keeping my boundaries by not letting the dough go over the edge of the pie pan or heaping my pie up with so much filling that it will boil out on to the oven floor. These simple practices help me to remember that I’d really rather not get burned.
P.S. I wish I could remember to whom I loaned out my much beloved copy of The Fantasticks as it never came back. «sigh»
Tune for Today
Kindness Calendar for July
Here’s a link to the PDF.
It’s hot out there, so remember to drink water and be sure all your four-legged friends have plenty, too.
Recipe for Clean the Oven Pie
from Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life
This is a pie we have all made, at least once.
What You Will Need
1 Recipe for Double or Single Pie Dough
1 Recipe for Fruit Filling
How To Make It
Make your favorite pie filling with juicy frozen or fresh fruit (berries, pie cherries, rhubarb, etc.).
Mound it really high.
Cover with top crust and cut vents or make a lattice crust.
Bake in oven.
You will know when it is nearly done when you start to smell burning filling.
Open oven to release smoke.
Fan smoke away from smoke alarm that is now going off. (Opening windows at this time is good too.)
Remove pie from oven when it has bubbled over enough.
While pie cools, clean oven.