One feature I’ll be including on Rainne’s Ramblings next year is ‘Patty’s Pick’.
Each month Patty L. Fletcher will choose one post from Campbells World and I will feature it here.
Patty Lyne Fletcher is a single mother with a beautiful daughter, she has a great son-in-law and
four five beautiful grandchildren.
Patty owns and handles a Black Labrador from The Seeing Eye™ named Campbell Lee—a.k.a. Bubba Lee or King Campbell, to give just a couple of his nicknames. she also has a 15-year-old cat named Celine Kitty and a tom named Kitty Bob.
Patty was born on November 9, 1967 in Kingsport, Tenn., where she also grew up. She was born one and a half months premature and her blindness was caused by being given too much oxygen in the incubator. She was partially sighted until 1991, at which time she lost her sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. She used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.
As we ready ourselves to end one year, and go into the next, I am going through all the work I’ve done in 2017.
The following piece, by Author Peter Altschul has made its way into my list of favorites from the year gone by.
I invite you to take a moment to enjoy this moving and thought provoking offering.
As you read below, open yourselves to the wondrous love that can be felt when reading this most beautiful post.
Until next time, this is Patty, who was moved to thoughtful tears by this piece, and King Campbell who snoozed through the whole thing saying…
“Merry Christmas! Happy Solstice!
May harmony find you, and blessed be.”
Christmas Music Romance
Peter Altschul, MS
In Part IV of my memoir “Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind,” I described how I moved from an urban bachelor lifestyle in Washington, DC, to a married-man-with-three-stepkids life in Columbia, Missouri. On a late Sunday morning in mid-December, 2005, I told my soon-to-be-wife, Lisa, about my involvement with Christmas music as we sat together on a threadbare couch in my DC studio apartment. To quote from the book:
“And every year since 1984, I have written three funky four-part vocal arrangements of Christmas carols. I recorded them using a four-track cassette recorder, mixed them onto cassettes, and used them as Christmas cards.”
“What a great idea!” Lisa said.
“And then a couple of years ago, a friend installed MIDI software on my computer and my Christmas carol arrangements featured instrumental sounds generated from a keyboard synthesizer I had recently bought.
“And then last year I got the idea of composing new melodies for carol texts instead of just arranging the more familiar tunes.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know the carol `We Three Kings of Orient Are?`” I sang a couple of phrases of the solemn, melancholy waltz. Lisa hummed along. “I created a different melody that’s more bouncy and joyful. Do you want to hear it?” She squeezed my hand, so I clicked on the carol and rejoined her on the couch as six voices and a synthesized harp filled the apartment.
“That was awesome!” she said when the tune ended. “Who sang the vocals?”
I explained that I would sing the melody on one track and then record the other parts while listening to the melody. “Would you like to hear more?” I asked.
During the next twenty minutes, I played some of my arrangements: “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star” for brass and timpani; “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” for string quartet; “Jingle Bell Rock” arranged in the style of a Tchaikovsky waltz; “Holly Jolly Christmas” for brass band; “White Christmas” with a reggae feel; “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” for brass quintet; “Frosty the Snowman” arranged as a late 1950’s rock tune; “Good King Wenceslas” for percussion ensemble; “Oh Christmas Tree” for marching band; and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” for steel drum band. Sudden silence fell as the last note died away.
“Are you all right?” I asked, sitting down and putting my arm around her.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Lisa half-whispered, putting her arm around me. “You’re amazing.”
As we sat silently on my threadbare couch with our arms around each other, I felt wrapped in waves of peaceful joy. I couldn’t believe that such a talented, caring woman would not just admire my accomplishments but love me for who I was and who I might become. For the first time, I really thought about what it might be like to move from a settled, secure space to unfamiliar surroundings where I would be responsible for supporting three kids who I hadn’t even met. Could I do it? Should I do it? All I knew was that she had given me the chance to explore love’s wonderful possibilities, and I wanted to continue the journey.
Since then, I have composed new melodies for around a dozen carol lyrics, four of which have been performed at the Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia. A selection of these settings, as well as several arrangements of Christmas carols and music I composed for our wedding, is available at www.peteraltschul.com under the link “Book-Related Information.” Please be patient, as it takes a while for the music to start playing.
I hope you can find some time to enjoy this music, and that it moves you to reflect upon these old carols in new ways.
Peter Altschul Bio:
Peter Altschul’s unique professional journey has been kaleidoscopic. Ivy league graduate. Customer service rep for the most hated federal government agency. Grants manager. Trainer of New York City taxi drivers. Mediator between pro-life and pro-choice activists. Workplace diversity and conflict management specialist. Author, editor, musician, husband, and stepdad. All with the assistance of six wonderfully quirky guide dogs.
Peter currently lives with his guide dog, Heath, in Columbia, Missouri.
Books by Peter Altschul:
Breaking It Down and Connecting the Dots:
Creating Common Ground Where Contention Rules
In this book of compact essays, Peter Altschul, MS, explores topics ranging from psychology, sports, and diversity to family life, politics, and Christianity. Peruse this book and you’ll find personal stories, political analysis, and satire. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll think. You might find connections you’ve never seen before and common ground where you think none is possible. And perhaps you’ll be influenced to behave a little differently in order to make things a little—or a lot—better.
Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind
How do a specially-trained guide dog and a person who is blind learn to work together to become a team? What lessons might those who lead others in the workplace learn from this process? These are two of the themes that the author weaves into his compelling memoir.
Altschul focuses on a thirty-month period in his life, beginning with his fifth guide dog, a Labrador Retriever named Jules, and ending with his move from his urban bachelor lifestyle in Washington, DC, to committed family man in Columbia, Missouri. Along the way, he describes his unique professional journey with assistance and companionship of five guide dogs. He also writes about his upbringing, his relationship with music, and the unexpected deaths of his stepmother and father.
That’s it for today. I hope you enjoyed reading.
Have a wonderful Christmas.