812. Annus horribilis

812annus

(The fabric on my piano stool cushion is embroidered with Latin quotations. At last I’ve got around to investigating them! Nothing to do with music… but they serve as a starter for today’s story!)

It hadn’t been a good year for Ruth. It had been her annus horribilis, from beginning to end. It had been one disaster after another; a capite ad calcem. Or it could have been a pedibus usque ad caput, depending on how one looked at it. Or to put it in a more literary way, ab ovo usque ad mala as Horace said, which would mean from soup to nuts instead of from the egg to the apples if Horace had been writing in English.

Anyway, it was now New Year’s Eve. Ruth reflected on the past year’s events. Who would’ve thought that having a husband and two sons could create such a horrid year?

In March, her son and daughter-in-law, Joel and Eliose, had split up, leaving her two granddaughters, Angeline and Cassie, all mixed up. She could still hear the phone ring in her head. She’d just gone to bed – it was 11 o’clock – and Joel phoned to say he was kicked out of his house and could he come around and stay the night?

Her husband had passed away suddenly in the merry month of May. He was just getting ready for bed, an hour before midnight, when he took a sudden turn. She phoned for the ambulance but he’d already died by the time it arrived.

Then in late July she herself was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was weeks of chemotherapy, and then weeks of radiation, followed by an actual operation. The specialist thought she would make a full recovery.

What a year! Thank goodness there was Nico, her other son, at least one member of the family, whose year had gone well enough. He had found a new job, and he and his wife, Brianna, had had a wee daughter.

It was eleven o’clock! One hour to go! Ruth poured herself a little wine.

“Here’s to a brighter New Year! Memores acti prudentes future!” said Ruth. “A toast to the future!”

The phone went.

49 thoughts on “812. Annus horribilis

        1. Cynthia Jobin

          I will have to go and find and listen to that one. The only Britten I know is A Ceremony of Carols (I did the solo of “That Yonge Child” for a concert in College). I assume that War Requiem is a non liturgical work? I think I once mentioned to you that my favorite non-liturgical requiem is Brahms German Requiem….sung in English.

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    1. Cynthia Jobin

      Jeez, you guys….you’re getting everything wrong….first of all, AGNUS is Latin for LAMB (as in lamb of God) and ANGUS is a kind of beefsteak cattle…but that silly piece by PDQ Bach is really about AGNES DEI, the prettiest girl he’s ever seen! Also, it’s the HOKEY POKEY, not the HOCKEY POCKEY…..Jeez…..You all must have already started celebratin’ the New Year and the ball doesn’t come down in New York until tomorrow night!

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      1. Outlier Babe

        I assumed Bruce misspelled Hokey Pokey purposely, due to my purposeful Angus vs. Agnus. And Angus Dei is how PDQ spelled that piece, I think–haven’t googled, but that’s how I recall it from the Rice U. program. Which makes sense, given the Western/cattle theme. Off to google it now…

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      2. Outlier Babe

        Got the answer–whew!
        My humble apology, Cynthia. PDQ named it “Agnus Dei”, just like his other “Agnus Dei” with “Ave Maria”, where he also makes the “Agnes” pun (with Doris Dei). I learned, which you probably already knew, that it is the last movement of “Missa Hilarious”. Now I am happy, for that means one can probably find a performance on Youtube.

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      3. Bruce Goodman Post author

        In New Zealand – where I come from – Hockey Pockey is indeed a misspelling of Hokey Pokey – BUT it’s Hokey Tokey in the song – because Hockey Pokey is a variety of ice cream – always has been even before the song – of vanilla ice cream with lumps of caramelised sugar.

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Nighty night, Cynthia. I know I shall wilt early – like a beautiful flower – New Year’s Eve – because the dog had to suddenly go to the vet with heat stroke and cost $99 – and I’m wrung out (like a beautiful flower without water) – she seems to have recovered but I haven’t. The Cow of God (Angus Dei) and the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) shall not upstage the Hircum Deus.

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Gentle thoughts and expressions of astoundedness are both gratefully accepted.

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