Siege Diaries 2/5/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  Am I thinking before I act?

There’s a lot of wisdom in setting up your critical faculties so that making an assessment based on accumulated knowledge can go quickly.  The key to that is knowing your limits.  I’m classified as an “intuitive” thinker–but that “intuition” is something I work on constantly, and it’s been honed over the years by learning from both the successes and the mistakes.   So what my “gut feelings” now warn me of is when I’m lacking the knowledge to make an informed decision about something, and I trust that intuition.   It very rarely goes the other way now, but that’s because I’ve learned to recognize those warning signs–usually, where emotion barges past reason, rather than the two being in balance.

The markers I ordered arrived today, which meant I was able to spend my lunch hour mounting Shostakovich #5 on the stretcher bars and then finishing the background.  I am very pleased with the results.


The original photo intrigues me because of the cat.  I can’t quite tell whether the cat is wishing to be elsewhere and is in the process of bolting, or is in the process of zonking out on Shostakovich’s lap.  Leading credence to the former would be the extended back leg and the somewhat awkward way Shostakovich is holding him/her, as if restraining the cat.  But leading credence to the latter is the half-closed eyes of the cat and the actual position of the hands.  I’ve had a squirming cat on my lap many times, and if you are trying to restrain a cat, that’s not what you do with your hands–you’re more than likely trying to grab the cat.  The look on Shostakovich’s face (which I would call “relentlessly neutral” in the original–he’s staring straight into the camera and neither smiling or frowning; my embroidery makes him looks slightly less comfortable) shows no sign of strain.  I tend to think that this cat is good with this situation.  I am less sure about Shostakovich, but he is known to have liked cats (animals in general, actually) and seems to have owned at least one, late in life.  So he’s inscrutable, even at 19.  I like it.

I just got to enjoy the Columbus Symphony performing Shostakovich’s op. 73a, which is Barshai’s orchestration of the 3rd Quartet for chamber symphony.  Unlike the more famous op. 110a, which is often thought of as “the” Chamber Symphony (there are actually four of them, all orchestrations by Barshai of Shostakovich’s string quartets, all with Shostakovich’s approval), this one includes woodwinds and harp along with the strings.  And it works beautifully, especially having the harp play the final, quiet notes (Barshai did know Shostakovich rather well.)  Slight pangs of jealousy, however–this was played in Columbus with a limited live audience;  the entire orchestra wore masks, except for the winds, who had plexiglass compartments.  I know in my heart that our much more complete lockdown makes more sense, but I still ache to see music live again.  Sigh.

And we’ve been given the go-ahead for the scribal challenge to start.  I’m fully expecting I should be able to complete my scroll tomorrow.  I still have to make the call on using the black paper vs. the pergamenata.

Wait:  Decision has just been made for me.  My white pen isn’t working, and I don’t have any white ink that would show up on the black.  Off I go to start laying out on the perg!