Tuesday, October 07, 2008

the frost is on the pumpkin

pumpkin pie made with molasses

Some folks think all James Taylor songs sound alike. Could be, could be. Much of my musical taste was established as a teen while I did household ironing in the dining room listening to my eight-year-older brother Bennett's albums on the turntable behind me. While ironing my dad's handkerchiefs and t-shirts I listened to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sing "Suite Judy Blue Eyes." With the pillow cases and table cloths (including the very one in the pie photo, above) I was on to Leon Russell singing "A Song for You", and Dad's boxer shorts got smoothed out to the Beatles White album. To this day, the smell of steaming hot cotton under an iron evokes the warm chords of 1970s folk-rock. Too bad Dad had his dress shirts professionally laundered. Hey, I should have made a deal to launder, iron and starch his shirts, and with what he paid me I could have started my own musical library. I must have worn out my brother's albums, including multiples of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, but Bennett never complained. And I never complained about ironing.
Whenever the first frost sparkles up the pumpkins, I think of one of my favorite JT tunes:

from James Taylor's "Walking Man" -

. . . Well, the leaves have come to turning
And the goose has gone to fly
And bridges are for burning
So don't you let that yearning
Pass you by

Walking man, walking man walks
Well, any other man stops and talks
But the walking man walks

Well the frost is on the pumpkin
And the hay is in the barn
An pappys come to rambling on
Stumbling around drunk
Down on the farm . . .

Have a listen:


shicat said...

Oh thanks, I love that man... beautiful post,love it,love it,love it. Lately I've been feeling as if," I wish I had a river,I could skate away on..." Peace.

Ruth said...

I relate to that, Cathy. Been thinking about leaving this ole country a lot lately.

I think there might be a Joni song for every one of my emotions.

Anet said...

Oh Ruth! I love James Taylor!!! I saw him at MSU several years ago. It was the best concert that I've ever been to. I loved it, mostly bald and grey haired people there!
I still play his CD's in the car.

That saying "The frost is on the pumpkin" is something that has been said in my family for generations. My mom remembers her grandmother saying it and so on. One fall morning Caleb and I were leave the house and he annouced "the frost is on the pumpkin!" I just cracked up. I'm glad it will still continue.

Thanks for the wonderful memories:)

Ruth said...

Anet! Was it the "October Road" concert tour at the Breslin? Don and I were there too. :) It was just amazing. I was surprised that I fell for his "October Road" songs immediately, hearing them for the first time. It's not often I love a song at first hearing. Now I've totally over-listened to that CD and have to put it away for a while.

I'm so glad you told me about this being a saying in your family! I had never heard it before this song. It tickles me that Caleb said it.

Ohhh, I feel so warm inside!

Anet said...

Yes, it was Ruth! Brad and I went on a date to it. Brad didn't know much of him yet, since the concert I hear him playing J.T. all the time!

I have to get the October Road album, maybe for my birthday!

I love the song; Secret O' Life. It's great! I can hardly think of a song of his that I don't like.

Ruth said...

I just looked it up, and the concert was Nov. 15, 2002.

Yes, I love 'The Secret of Life' too.

Ruth said...

Oh, and I'd say 'October Road' would be an appropriate gift for you on your October birthday.

Loring Wirbel said...

Pretty ironic that last night was the first frost night in Colorado, and that yesterday afternoon I passed a pumpkin being hauled on I-25 that looked bigger than the "world's record" pumpkin shown on Today Show yesterday (the televised one was from Mass., couldn't have been the same).

Most early memories of music for me are tied to summer, when we would drive the convertible to Grand Haven/Spring Lake in 1965, 66, 67, and we kids would all listen to British pop and early psychedelia in the back seat. Just last week, I heard some 2-minute pop wonder from some forgotten British band, and realized I remembered almost every lyric!

JT I've only seen live once, in about 1988 it probably was. Followed CSNY and particularly Neil Young a lot closer.

Ruth said...

Loring, but was there frost on that big pumpkin? Hehe.

I remember you talking about those trips to Grand Haven. And were you listening on a transister radio in the back seat??

Don and I went to a CSNY concert at Lugnuts park maybe 10 years ago, and as much as I love them (and Neil Young especially - have lots of his CDs), the concert was awful. Their voices did not blend well, as if they couldn't hear each other and needed a studio to mix them.

Loring Wirbel said...

Yeah, they're all getting old and crusty, Neil by design, CSN by default. JT keeps himself more in tune and shape.

The pumpkin passage was yesterday PM, no frost then! Plenty today.

We listened on dad's car radio, but gandpa and grandma gave me my first transistor at age 8. And my babysitter, Cathy Oswill, would always bring an enormous stack of 45s, which is where I developed my love for B-sides ("Gates of Eden" is still just as good as "Like a Rolling Stone", IMNSHO).

Ruth said...

I don't know how JT manages to keep his voice as sweet today as 30 years ago. Joni sure didn't, well cigs and probly whiskey on her part.

Careful drivin on them roads.

Lucky you, your dad letting you listen to music while driving. No such luck here, only Tiger baseball on Sunday nights driving up to Crystal Lake after church for 2 weeks at the cottage.

Ohh, so that's where the B-sides began!

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

I love James Taylor songs! I don't think his songs all sound alike but his voice is unmistakeable. Hmmm, I'm not such a fan of ironing. If something needs to be ironed I won't even buy it! That pumpkin pie (with molasses!) looks wonderful. I just baked a "pumpkin pie cake" this afternoon and it smells wonderful in the kitchen. And of course I used 4 fresh eggs in the recipe! I love baking with pumpkin.

freefalling said...

Hehe - frosty pumpkins - sounds rude!
(oh, i'm soooooooo immature).

Ginnie said...

This is when I really "get it," Ruth, that you and I were from two different generations in the same nuclear family. What you have written here about Bennett's music is so foreign to me. It actually brings tears to my eyes.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Beautiful heartfelt post, Ruth...I have always marveled at how the passage of a song or a brief melody can put a person right back in the exact spot they first heard it or bring back vividly a moment in time... happens all the time...

I liked how I felt as I read the memories from everyone..

and such a coincidence that you and Anet were at the same concert... We are big fans of Neil Young... even Max plays him...

Loring Wirbel said...

Gwen, I'm so hopeless I have a four-foot silk banner/scarf hung on the wall with Neil Young logo, have DVDs of "Human Highway," "Greendale" etc which I watch regularly. Shared a house in college with several Young-obsessive types. We're not those wimpy Harvest/After the Goldrush fans, we're the serious Zuma/Tonight's the Night/Time Fades Away/Trans etc. types. Dain bramage to the nth power.

Sharon said...

Oh, I would LOVE a piece of that pie!

Your ironing the handkerchiefs and pillow cases is really amusing! I know I was raised by wolves but that still seems so foreign to me. :)

(No frost here yet although it's supposed to snow by the end of the week.)

Gwen Buchanan said...

Loring, it seems as if the Dain Bramage has healed now.. maybe that is what made you so obsessive... just joking..

Ruth and Sharon I used to iron the pillowcases and dad's handkerchiefs too(not anymore) I mostly only iron now when I am piecing quilts.

Bob Johnson said...

Love your Pumpkin shot. JT was just here not long ago,went to see him, great show, and, and we just picked up Covers,excellent cd.

Drowsey Monkey said...

Oh how I love this time of year. The pumpkins are gorgeous and whenever I see them I get a sweet melancholy feeling ... ultimately a wonderful feeling tho.

And I LOVE James Taylor! Love him! Perfect song for today and this post.

Rauf said...

He calls me charlie mason
A stargazer am i
It seems that I was born
To chart the evening sky

i wanted to know who Jeremiah Dixon and Charlie Mason were, there was no WIKI then. This is my most fav JT song bikkas he sings with our friend Marky.
Mason-Dixon line is on the WIKI now, the song as well. Since Bennett and i are of same age we have similar preferences. He would have loved to watch Forrest Gump Ruth. Gump should be five years older than us. My blog title Daylight Again is a CSNY album.
i wanted to have 'Southern Cross' , of the same album. After a days thinking decided on Daylight Again.
Blunt knife was a stupid idea, i still regret it. a blunt knife doesn't cut anything, its useless, title of my useless rants, that was the idea, but i changed
the header to 'seventh sojourn' a MB album. i was a MB fanatic, still i am.

The first thing i throw is an instruction manual. Sujith reads the instruction manual of a screw driver. But i read every word in an album jacket end to end.
Holding a new album jacket was a pleasure, i don't get the same pleasure holding a CD. I used to follow all JT recordings, some numbers were recorded in some friend's kitchen or some living room or some friend's barn. Earlier albums were not recorded in studios. Do you remember Bennett having Woodstock albums Ruth ? there were four of them red green yellow and blue. i had three, blue was missing, it had
The Who 'see me feel me' 'suite judy blue eyes' was in green album i think. in india perhaps it was a
different release. lots of scratches on the album, still i
loved it
i watched Woodstock for 18 times. Do you remember Bennett talking about it Ruth ?
Once you were very religious and one fine day or perhaps gradually, you came out of all the traps. i do not know about Bennet's influence, but are you aware
who is behind this all ? The whole new thinking ? the man who changed the course of history ?
We sometimes forget to salute John Lennon.

Ruth said...

Amy, I don't iron much now either. But I do love doing laundry on the line.

I think pumpkin recipes are the best. I can send you this pie recipe if you're interested. I would be interested in your pumpkin cake recipe. The pie is an old recipe from my sister's mother-in-law who just died last year, she was a fantastic cook and baker. And the pumpkin was from last year raised by Don and frozen!

Ahh, those chook-fresh eggs! Did you know this Friday is World Egg Day?? :D

BTW, I think one secret to French pastries is that the eggs are not refrigerated. Just a theory, but one of my gourmand friends agrees with me.

Ruth said...

Letty, teehee. I picture a cartoon Eggplant saying that.

You must get frost and snow now and then, yes? Now you're heading into summer though.

Ruth said...

Boots, you mean nookular family, don't you?

I was pretty unaware of most things in life back then. But I glommed on and opened up to a new world in Bennett's music like a tonic.

Now Donica has introduced you to a lot of the music you missed first time 'round.

Ruth said...

Gwen, I wonder if music triggers the memory cells in the brain similarly to smell? I've read that music evokes greater ecstasy than sex for some people.

I'm not as deep a Neil Young fan as Loring. I did buy Greendale. I tried to like him in "Dead Man" but when that film was released I was too much of a wimp to appreciate the hard metal stuff.

Don't you love how kids pick up music from our generation?! Does Max play guitar? And John? We relived '70s music when Peter started playing, actually discovering and enjoying artists we didn't enjoy the first time around, such as Stevie Ray Vaughn and Led Zeppelin.

Rauf said...

Ruth, Gwen, i casually mentioned Forrest Gump. This is a very good example of how music takes us back and floodgates of memory burts open. Smell does the same, kindles some part of brain and suddenly it all comes back.

Ruth said...

Loring, why you pal around with a wimpy Neil Young fan like me who couldn't handle the heavy metal stuff, I don't know. I was pure folk rock until Peter bought an electric guitar, then I had to open up to it because I loved him. You keep trying to expand my musical horizons, but I'm a bad student. I do admire Neil for many reasons, although I only know stuff from the legends, no real study. You, on the other hand, seem to know a lot about the musicians you follow.

Ruth said...

Sharon! I loved your post yesterday. :) Yes, without money we have no worries.

Well the problem with those hankies and pillow cases (and my dad's gawd-awful boxer shorts that got wound up in a tight bundle in the dryer) was that they were pure cotton with no special treatment, so wrinkle city. Fabrics are so different now, eliminating the need to iron.

I didn't know they had wolves in Westland :). (Was it Westland?)

Snow? I guess that doesn't surprise me too much for Wyoming, since we get snow in the UP here in June. I hope you'll post pictures.

Oh, and that pie is the best recipe. Since I've made it for 30 years, the molasses has spoiled me. Now other pumpkin pie recipes just taste blah. I have become a pumpkin pie snob with this one. I'd love to have you over for a piece on the porch!

Ruth said...

Gwen, haha, good one! That made me laugh. Poor Loring, we all want a piece of his brain. I wish I could store 1/10th the information he remembers.

Oh, piecing quilts. That ironing is a pleasure, isn't it? Seeing the precision of each seam.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob! Thank you. I just downloaded 'Covers' too! In fact, I'm going to listen now . . .

Rauf said...

Loring, i don't have any problem with getting the music i want. But once i was so desperate to get NY 'comes a time' album. i tried for years, wrote to my friends in the US. But finally got it here.

For years i have been trying to get
one number the BBC kept playing the day Princess Diana died. Its a Keith Jarrett number, i had it but lost it, i know its the first number of the album, forgot the title of the number and forgot the title of the album.

Ruth said...

Oh, Drowsey. It touches me how these elements evoke similar feelings in my blog friends: JT, autumn, pumpkins, frost. Cliche: what happened to those simple times of our youth? Gone forever, I'm afraid, except they're still embedded in our brain cells. What a joy, but melancholy too sometimes.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth and Loring and Rauf, I only meant Obsessive in a very Good way.. I enjoy and learn so much reading your exchanges...

I mean I'm one of those people who never remembers the names of songs but always remember the rhythm .. just like I never remember peoples names but Always remember their faces and their voices.. I must have dain bramage, too. or weird triggers!! I guess I think in pictures and sounds... passed it on to my oldest son, Zach, too..

Kind of a problem sometimes.. oh well we can only store so much and our brain has its own filing system.

I LOVE Stevie Ray Vaughn and Led Zeppelin... Max and John are pretty good on guitar.. We all should take lessons to pick up on all the nuances.. as we are just self-taught.. sometimes just asking a knowledgeable/experienced person and being shown helps so much....

Gwen Buchanan said...

Just one more thing, about Sharon's post... Funny we were just commenting on us Not Having any money yesterday too and thinking that if we did it would even be more stressful.. up here we have the RRSP's.. You probably have them down their too...(Registered Retirement Savings Plans)
They always seemed too risky to me but the gov't really pushes people to invest there... oh well with no money.. no investments...

I just heard of a woman in England who had just sold her house and put all $200,000.00 in a bank and now it has collapsed... what would she ever do and how many more are like her.. This is so terrible...

Ruth said...

rauf, the difference between you and Bennett and me is that you and Bennett were the primary listeners. I was a second-hand listener. I liked the music I inherited, but being 8 years younger, I was not as aware of the grave issues that already plagued the world, including what the counter-culture musicians were ranting against, John Lennon more than anyone. Bennett wore a black arm band at his college graduation in 1970, I think I told you. I was there in Boston when he graduated, but as a 13-year-old, I was only coming to terms with Vietnam vaguely. He told me as a young teen about our country's inconsistent interventions in the world. He was tormented by these things, as so many were. And this music has to be heard in that context. That was missing for me in the angst as Bennett felt it(and my brother John somewhat too).

I don't remember Bennett talking about Woodstock much, I don't think he had those albums. I did love the Moody Blues too, although that was my own discovery, not through Bennett. "Southern Cross" was one of my favorite CSNY songs.

I was in a precarious position, rauf. I wanted to please my parents, but I also loved rock music. They gave me my first radio when I was in 6th grade I think. Did they know this would introduce me to music that they didn't approve? It is still odd to me. I listened to these albums quietly in the dining room. Sometimes my dad would walk in, and I'd turn it down. They thought rock music was of the devil with all those African-witch-doctor drum beats. But they didn't talk about it outside church or prevent me listening. This must be why I listened mostly to folk rock, and not the heavier metal stuff, which would have been unacceptable in the house.

One of my favorite songs in "Forrest Gump" is "Fortunate Son" by CCR.

Ruth said...

Gwen, I loved your comment about obsession. :) I know you meant it in a good way. How could you mean it any other way? You are Gwen.

You are a sensory person, you don't see the world as linear the way I tend to. I'm working on it, feeling the world in pictures and sounds, smells, feeling it on my skin.

So you play too? Peter read SRV's autobiography, and I have to say, knowing more about a person's history makes their music more meaningful. Early on SRV turned down an offer to tour with David Bowie because it wasn't where he wanted to go musically. Ahh, life is so rich!

If I think about the money that's been lost just in the last week, for everyone, it could be devastating. I'm trying to focus on how I think these times will push us closer, to depend on each other more. I hope it will be a good thing. Funny too: I was just listening to JT's new "Covers" album and the second track is a cover of Junior Walker and The All Stars singing "I'm a Roadrunner" (also covered by Fleetwood Mac?) - the first line is: "Money, who needs it?"

Rauf said...

Ruth, Gwen, i have noticed that from passt couple of weeks no bank has called me offering loans. i normally offer them millions at low interest and they hang up. Sometimes the chat continues and in the end i say i am not even worth 5 rupees, no bank would give me any money. Sometimes its annoying when i get such calls during my precious afternoon nap.
My sister tells me that an Indian man in the US shot his family including his mother in law and shot himself after losing all his money.

Indian economy is a bit different, its agriculture based. Any crash doesn't affect india normally. but young brains have different ideas. my friend Karthik who has a computer showroom says that there has been frantic withdrawal of money by depositors and the ATMs ran out of money. This kind of panic has created problems for the banks.
Somebody has to tell me what is happening Ruth, my sister tried to explain and gave me a news paper article which i refused to read. its beyond me.
money can't disappear, it has gone somewhere, thats what i keep repeating like a demented parrot.

Ruth said...

rauf, they told us on the news last night that the executives at AIG (a huge insurance company that just got bailed out a couple months ago by our generous government) - the week after they got bailed out by the US government so they wouldn't have to file bankruptcy, these hard-up executives went and spent a half million dollars at a posh resort in Southern California living it up for a week. That's where some of the money went. They spent something like $26 thousand on spa treatments alone.

The main thing that's happening is that all these bad loans that shouldn't have been approved, and now mortgage holders can't afford to pay, are hurting the companies that loaned them and the investors in those securities, so that now, credit is so bad everything is freezing up the world over. Then of course people are panicking because they want to cash out stocks and accounts before their money is lost! Too late for many, and we can only hope it might be reversed and swing back up. But I am losing hope in that. We'll see.

Loring Wirbel said...

Ruth, what's funny is that traditional heavy metal bores me, all the pentagrams and "rawk on" and stuff. But my love for free-form jazz in the 70s and 80s migrated into a love for experimental noise in the 21st century. I'm one of the few true fans of Neil Young's Weld, which is an album of feedback noise, and I also like Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. Nowadays, there are entire labels and web sites that focus on noise artists.

Carol just wouldn't go there for the longest time - she called it "clear the room music." But then she went along to see a Cecil Taylor concert a couple years ago and said, "Oh, I get it. I absolutely get it. I wouldn't choose to listen to it, but now I can see you're not deranged." But she pointed out that one of my Abrasion Ensemble CDs is called Music for the Same 50 People.

Ruth said...

Hahaha. I like Carol.

Clearly I am afraid of what I don't know, in metal and now this new term for me, noise artists.

Loring Wirbel said...

There are even sub-genres: ambient noise, orchestral noise, atonal noise, naturalist noise, harsh noise. I run a mini-social network on Ning called Noise Annoys, but it's not very active.

Ruth said...

If I could, I'd defer upon you a PhD in Noise.

And I mean that with utmost deference.


Sandy said...

Oh, that photo, and those groups you mentioned while doing your "chores"....

I'm afraid I was doing a little more nefarious (ha!) things back then while listening to those groups! I would have been better off ironing...

fun post.

many links I need to find time to check out on your side bar, but two that come to mind is truthout, which I think I've been to, and truth dig, is it?

And by the way that Cooks Illustrated. I try to find those magazines in thrift stores because I like the sketches. I have this thing about food art.

Cloudscome said...

Thank you for that James Taylor! Great way to start my day.

Ruth said...

Auntie Sandy! And I sometimes regret not being more nefarious.

The 'truth' sites are very helpful. I like Real News too, all videos (interviews, etc.).

I love Cooks Illustrated. Because of their excellent test kitchens, the recipes are very good. I use them again and again. And yeah, I like food as art too, and the illustrations are very helpful.

Ruth said...

Cloudscome, it's a great one, isn't it?! I hope the rest of the day is good.

Rauf said...

My friend Ramesh called me to remind me that today happens to be John Lennon's birthday Ruth.
i said oh!

Ruth said...

rauf, oh! Another oh! His son Sean was also born on this day, in 1975 (John was 1940).