Hilltop Diary, Jan. 12, 2021

This is the time I call “In the bleak mid-winter” (after the song of that title) when we still have nearly the least daylight of the year, and light deprivation syndrome gets me down a bit. The back garden seems dead and barren and frosted over. I’m not seeing our deer or turkeys or birds and squirrels as much and imagine them just huddled together and shivering up in the woods somewhere, like cartoon animals in “Bambi”. Now, in mid-January. I remind myself that we might be only a month away from the end of the “bleakness”, to the extent we even have much of a winter in Nashville. Some years even have early signs of spring around Valentine’s Day, with warming days and even daffodil leaves peeking up around the trees in front. Maybe this will be such a year, I can at least hope, but there’s no sign of it at the moment.

churnI typically take solace by cooking (and eating) this time of year, but am on my big diet, so I am not doing that so much but just reading recipes! Last week I did make one recipe that always pleases, my Mongolian Fiery Orange-Coconut Shrimp, which has a very elaborate Asian sauce including orange marmalade and unsweetened coconut flakes. The diet progresses, but I will wait to say how much until I have another milestone to share. I bought Crystal a little butter churn for Christmas, and we have enjoyed making our own butter from heavy whipping cream. It tastes great!

I did a fun and lengthy interview during the first week of January by phone for a long-time podcast that also plays on Sirius radio, with hosts Greg and Jennifer Willits, which was published online today. To listen to it, you can click on this link:


This past week I got the pilot / demo episode of my possible radio show on classical music done (designed as a cultural offering for Catholic radio networks), and a very kind friend of mine has submitted it on my behalf to people in that world whom he knows. Now we wait to see if there will be any interest.

On a more concrete footing, I have simply spent a great number of hours editing parts for the last movement of my symphony, which I’ve been putting off. It will be time to start composing again after a break, and this needs to get done first.

My January Epoch Times article, published today, was about bad reviews given to premieres of great music, like this review of Rachmaninoff: “If there were a conservatory in Hell, and if one of its students was to compose a symphony written similar to Rachmaninoff’s, he would have brilliantly accomplished his task and would have delighted the inhabitants of Hell.” (St. Petersburg News, March 16, 1897). My article can be found here, but to read all of it you might have to sign up for a free trial subscription (sorry):


I have started a MeWe page for my personal posts and will only use Facebook for professional announcements, so if you happen to be going to MeWe, please send me a contact request. They don’t follow you and use your information to market ads to you, etc., like FB does.

We have certainly been in a strange period of historic happenings, controversies, and partisan acrimony. It almost feels like a kind of virus itself to me, so I’ve quarantined myself from most of it! It feels a lot healthier not to subject myself to all the tension and to keep the news turned off. If it is robbing you of your peace, and if there really is nothing you can do about any of it just now, anyway, I would recommend this method of (not) dealing with it all; at least take a break from the news for a few days and see how much better you feel.

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