We have no Saints to honor for a few days, but since today is the second Monday in October, today is Columbus Day (Observed), Indigenous Peoples Day, and Thanksgiving Day in Canada. And today is World Mental Health Day.
The Second Monday in October, is Columbus Day (Observed), a Federal United States holiday observed on this date since 1971, giving a three-day holiday to banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies, most state government offices, and some school districts. Indigenous Peoples’ Day (also known as Native American Day) is a holiday celebrated in various localities in the United States. It began as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, promoting Native American culture and commemorating the history of Native American peoples. The celebration began in Berkeley, California, through the International Indian Treaty Council, and Denver, Colorado, as a protest against Columbus Day, which is listed as a federal holiday in the United States, but is not observed as a state holiday in every state. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal observance of Columbus Day. The Second Monday in October is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada, since 1957; presumably, our neighbors to the North celebrate their Thanksgiving now, because by the fourth Thursday in November the weather in most of Canada is nothing to be thankful for. Finally, today is World Mental Health Day, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. This day, on October 10th of each year, thousands of supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to Mental Illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. In some countries this day is part of an awareness week, such as Mental Illness Awareness Week in the United States and Mental Health Week in Australia.
When I woke up for work I saw that Lisa had posted on Facebook that the kids’ hose in South Carolina was fine. I posted to Facebook that today was Columbus Day (Observed), Indigenous Peoples Day, Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and World Mental Health Day. I then did my Book Devotional Reading and put out the flag in honor of Columbus Day (Observed). Richard missed a call from Matthew last night, and gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. I said goodbye to Maxwell and Archie, as Matthew had said on Friday that they would be leaving to go home on Monday (today). However, when I asked Richard if he was leaving the back door unlocked for the kids, he said no, because they would not be leaving until Tuesday. (We did not have any messages from the kids asking us to leave the house unlocked, unless that was why Matthew called for Richard last night.) On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. When we clocked in at 3:00 am I started fasting. Richard was the relief dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow;he also broke the $5.00 minimum Blackjack table until the middle of our shift, and broke the second Three Card Poker table once at the end of our shift. On my breaks I started reading A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. At 9:30 am I got emails from our scheduling office that our vacation for November 4th through November 19th had been approved, but that we did not have enough PTO to take November 20th through November 22nd.I promptly went to the shift office, and pointed out that we would have sufficient PTO accrued, but I was told by both the Table Games Scheduler and our Assistant Shift Manager that we needed to have 120 hours accrued before the start of our vacation to take 120 hours off, even if the difference needed accrued while we were off. I told Richard this, and he spoke to the Assistant Shift Manager and was told the same thing; he then spoke to the Director of Table Games, who told him we would get all the time we put in for.
After work we went over to the Clinic; I picked up my prescription at the Pharmacy, and had blood drawn for lab work per the order from my Ob/Gyn. Meanwhile, Richard had his appointment with the Nurse Practitioner (his next appointment is on December 5th, with blood being drawn for lab work the week before), and I purchased my Sodium Bicarbonate at the Pharmacy. He then had his appointment with the Dietician. When we left the Clinic, Richard called Matthew; they will come by later this afternoon, and plan to leave tomorrow at about 8:00 am. Richard and I got lunch via the drive through at the McDonalds in Kinder.
When we got home I read the morning paper, then printed out my list of medications and over the counter stuff that I take (more anon). I then looked it up in my weblog, and found that it was on September 23rd that both the Scheduler and the Shift Manager agreed that Richard and would take our full three weeks that we put in for. I then set up my vitamins for our vacation. I was checking out Miskatonic University T-shirts online when Matthew and Callie and Kitten showed up; they visited until 5:00 pm, and left just as soon as Jeopardy! ended. And I am now finishing up today’s Daily Update. (In negative news, Mike the Tiger is now in hospice care, and we will soon need another tiger.)
Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint John XXIII, Pope (died 1963). We will leave the back door unlocked, and work our eight hours, and on my breaks I will continue reading A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay; Matthew and Callie will be by in the morning to pick up Maxwell and Archie. After lunch I will set up my detailed list of books to recommend for my Third Tuesday Book Club. And at sunset tomorrow begins the great Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
Our Parting Quote this Monday afternoon comes to us from Dame Joan Sutherland, Australian dramatic coloratura soprano. Born in 1926 in Sydney, Australia, to a Scottish family, her mother was a mezzo-soprano who had taken voice lessons but who had never sung professionally, and the young Sutherland listened to and imitated her mother’s singing. She was eighteen when she began seriously studying voice, and made her concert debut in Sydney as Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in 1947. In 1951 she made her stage debut in Eugene Goossens’ Judith after winning Australia’s most important competition, the Sun Aria (now known as the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Operatic Aria) in 1949. She then went to London to further her studies at the Opera School of the Royal College of Music with Clive Carey. She was engaged by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as a utility soprano, and made her debut there in 1952 as the First Lady in The Magic Flute, followed in November by a few performances as Clotilde in Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma, with Maria Callas as Norma. Being an admirer of Kirsten Flagstad in her early career, she trained to be a Wagnerian dramatic soprano. She possessed a voice of beauty and power, combining extraordinary agility, accurate intonation, “supremely” pinpoint staccatos, a splendid trill and a tremendous upper register, although music critics often complained about the imprecision of her diction. In December 1952 she sang her first leading role at the Royal Opera House as Amelia in Un ballo in maschera. Other roles included Agathe in Der Freischütz, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Desdemona in Otello, Gilda in Rigoletto, Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Pamina in The Magic Flute. In 1953 she sang the role of Lady Rich in Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana a few months after its world premiere. Sutherland married Australian conductor and pianist Richard Bonynge in 1954. Bonynge gradually convinced her that Wagner might not be her Fach (or proper vocal characterization), and that since she could produce high notes and coloratura with great ease, she should perhaps explore the bel canto repertoire. She eventually settled in this Fach, spending the rest of her career singing dramatic coloratura soprano. In 1957 she appeared in Handel’s Alcina with the Handel Opera Society, and in Donizetti’s Emilia di Liverpool, in which performances her bel canto potential was clearly demonstrated, vindicating her husband’s judgment. The following year she sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in Vancouver. In 1958 at the Royal Opera House, after singing, “Let the Bright Seraphim”, from Handel’s Samson oratorio, she received a ten minute-long standing ovation, In 1959 Sutherland was invited to sing Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House in a production conducted by Tullio Serafin and staged by Franco Zeffirelli. It was a breakthrough for Sutherland’s career, and, upon the completion of the famous Mad Scene, she had become a star. In 1960 she recorded the album The Art of the Prima Donna, which remains today one of the most recommended opera albums ever recorded: the double LP set won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance by a Vocal Soloist in 1962. The album, a collection consisting mainly of coloratura arias, displayed her seemingly effortless coloratura ability, high notes and opulent tones, as well as her exemplary trill. By the beginning of the 1960s Sutherland had already established a reputation as a diva with a voice out of the ordinary. She sang Lucia to great acclaim in Paris in 1960 and, in 1961, at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. In 1960 she sang a superb Alcina at La Fenice, Venice, where she was nicknamed La Stupenda (“The Stunning One”). Later that year (1960), Sutherland sang Alcina at the Dallas Opera, with which she made her United States debut. Her Metropolitan Opera debut took place in 1961, when she sang Lucia. Also in 1961 she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, becoming Dame Joan Sutherland. During the 1960s Sutherland added the greatest heroines of bel canto (“beautiful singing”) to her repertoire: Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata, Amina in Bellini’s La sonnambula and Elvira in Bellini’s I puritani in 1960; the title role in Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda in 1961; Marguerite de Valois in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots and the title role in Rossini’s Semiramide in 1962; and Norma in Bellini’s Norma and Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in 1963. In 1965 Sutherland toured her home country of Australia with the Sutherland-Williamson Opera Company. Accompanying her was a young tenor named Luciano Pavarotti, and the tour proved to be a major milestone in Pavarotti’s career. Every performance featuring Sutherland sold out. In 1966 she added Marie in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment, which became one of her most popular roles, because of her perfect coloratura and lively, funny interpretation. During the 1970s, Sutherland strove to improve her diction, which had often been criticized, and increase the expressiveness of her interpretations. She continued to add dramatic bel canto roles to her repertoire, such as Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda and Lucrezia Borgia, as well as Massenet’s extremely difficult Esclarmonde, a role that few sopranos attempt. With Pavarotti she made a very successful studio-recording of Turandot in 1972 under the baton of Zubin Mehta, though she never performed the role on stage. In the Queen’s Birthday Honours of June 1975, she was in the first group of people to be named Companions of the Order of Australia (AC). She was elevated within the Order of the British Empire from Commander to Dame Commander (DBE) in the New Year’s Honours of 1979. In the late 1970s Sutherland’s voice started to decline and her vibrato loosened to an intrusive extent. However, thanks to her vocal agility and solid technique, she continued singing the most difficult roles amazingly well. During the 1978 to 1982 period her relationship with the Metropolitan Opera severely deteriorated when Sutherland had to decline the role of Constanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail more than a year before the rehearsals were scheduled to start. The opera house management then declined to stage the operetta The Merry Widow especially for her, as requested; subsequently, she did not perform at the Metropolitan Opera during that time at all, even though a production of Rossini’s Semiramide had also been planned, but later she returned there to sing in other operas. During the 1980s, she added Anna Bolena, Amalia in I masnadieri and Adriana Lecouvreur to her repertoire, and repeated Esclarmonde at the Royal Opera House performances in November and December 1983. After a total of 223 performances in a number of different operas, her last appearance at the Metropolitan Opera was a concert in 1989. Her last full-length dramatic performance was as Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots at the Sydney Opera House in 1990, at the age of 63, where she sang “Home Sweet Home” for her encore. Her last public appearance, however, took place in a gala performance of Die Fledermaus on New Year’s Eve, 1990, at Covent Garden, where she was accompanied by her colleagues Luciano Pavarotti and the mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. In November 1991 the Queen bestowed on Sutherland the Order of Merit (OM). After retirement Sutherland made relatively few public appearances, preferring a quiet life at her home in Les Avants, Switzerland. She began her regular involvement with the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1993, serving on the jury five times. Joan Sutherland: The Authorised Biography, published in February 1994, was written by Norma Major, wife of the then prime minister John Major. At her 1994 address at a lunch organized by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, she complained about having to be interviewed by a clerk of Chinese or Indian background when applying to renew her Australian passport. Her comments caused controversy among some sections of the community at the time. Sutherland had a leading role as Mother Rudd in the 1995 comedy film Dad and Dave: On Our Selection opposite Leo McKern and Geoffrey Rush. In 1997 she published her autobiography, The Autobiography of Joan Sutherland: A Prima Donna’s Progress. It received generally scathing reviews for its literary merits, but it does contain a complete list of all her performances, with full cast lists. In 2002 she appeared at a dinner in London to accept the Royal Philharmonic Society’s gold medal, and became the Patron of the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2003. She fell and broke both of her legs while gardening at her home in 2008; she completely recovered and attended a 2009 luncheon hosted by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in honor of members of the Order of Merit (died 2010): “If I weren’t reasonably placid, I don’t think I could cope with this sort of life. To be a diva, you’ve got to be absolutely like a horse.”