bunrab: (Default)
Cindy came over for supper this evening - I managed to find enough counter space and dishes to cook some chicken, chop it up and put it on a salad, and then serve it at a table that had room for us both to sit at and eat. This is an intermittent thing - I get the table cleared off of stuff, and then as I unpack the next box, the table gets loaded up again with "stuff I need to sort through." And indeed, after dinner, we unpacked a few more boxes, and the table is once again buried, though not as badly. Two loaded boxes of stuff I don't need went off with Cindy for various charities - her UU church supports a homeless shelter and a transition program that puts homeless people into apartments, so they always need contributions of food and of household basics - tableware, basic cooking implements, towels, etc.

One thing that has become increasingly obvious: I have too much tea. Every single bit of it seems interesting, and I hate to "get rid of" tea. But honestly, I have five shelves of my pantry cupboards filled to the brim with tea - there are hundreds of teas there. Most of it is well-stored in airproof, lightproof containers - tins or glass - and has not been exposed to heat, so it should still be drinkable. So, if you would like a fat Tyvek envelope full of various tea, email me your address (and full name; I don't always remember everyone's), and you will get a random sampling of stuff. If there's some kind you honestly know you can't stand, let me know that too, because otherwise the sampling will include a bit of everything - black, green, oolong, puerh, flavored, scented, aged, bags, loose, possibly even partial slightly flattened small boxes of something stuffed in there.

While I'm not as bad as some people I know, I do seem to overbuy on food. It's partly the low-sodium thing - when I order by mail, I order quantities that make it economical, and when I find something in a local market, I grab as much as I can because I'm sure they'll stop carrying it. As a result, I have way more canned goods and dried soups and slow cooker mixes than would normally appear on a single person's shelves. And I still don't eat at home quite as much as I should - although my impending budget crunch will help cure that, I suppose.

Steve and I used to joke about using up a lot of our vacation time and vacation money just 2 hours at a time, by eating out most nights. It was a habit we got into early in our marriage, and it stuck. We didn't eat expensive stuff out - just sandwiches, or cafeteria, or Tex-Mex. After I got sick, we still kept eating out, even though our income was less, because, well, we were still better off than average, and could afford it, and enjoyed it. Finding the lowest-sodium thing to eat at a given restaurant became a game. And when we moved up here, from cafeteria country to diner country, Steve absolutely /loved/ diners, and we would eat quite regularly at one particular diner on the way home from Monday rehearsal every week, another particular diner on the way home from Tuesday rehearsal every week, another particular diner on the way home from Wednesday rehearsal every week... usually splitting an entree, so not as expensive as it sounds, or sometimes getting breakfast for supper, which is also less expensive than regular entrees. Well, when Steve died, it was still quite a habit - particularly since I felt so absolutely awful eating alone, and eating at a diner where the wait people knew me gave the illusion of not being alone for a little bit. And in that manner, I ran up credit card bills of several thousand, because my tiny monthly pension doesn't cover that. Well, when I sold the house, I paid that off - but I can't do it again!! And I can't keep dipping into savings for regular monthly expenses - using principle for living expenses is a horrible idea. That stuff is ALL THE MONEY I HAVE IN THE WORLD and I can't eat it up. So this is the point where I have to really, really stop the eating-out habit. I think I can do it over the next few months, if I promise myself one lunch out a week and one dinner out a week for a period; that's an extravagance but if I try to quit cold turkey, as it were, I will feel so lonely and be sitting at home alone all day so much of the time that I don't think I can stand it. So the other thing I've got to do is find volunteer work that gets me out of the house a day or two a week for a couple hours, isn't too much physical labor, and preferably offers lunch or snacks as part of the deal. I suspect that soup kitchens or homeless shelters are too much physical labor (and probably too little air conditioning - I'm far more heat-intolerant than I used to be) so this is going to take some research and calibrating. There are a couple of places I that are of particular interest to me to volunteer; now to find out if they happen to keep iced tea and snack bars on hand for the volunteers!
bunrab: (alien reading)
When last seen, other than a few short tweets,we were in Elko, Nevada, and I was complaining that there were great chunks of the North American continent that should never have been settled, and we *certainly* shouldn't be encouraging idiots like me & Steve to visit them by building an interstate highway to them. I-80 continued to enchant the next day, when we drove as far as Rock Springs, Wyoming, where tiredness, rain, darkness, altitude, whatnot, combined to say "We're stopping here instead of continuing to drive." The people in Rock Springs were very nice, both at the KOA and at the supermarket, where we bought too many desserts. Pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies!

The next day was, thank goodness, our last stretch of I-80 for the moment. From Rock Springs, we made it to Denver in time for supper, even with my stop at Cowgirl Yarn in Laramie. Delightful people in that yarn shop! They are currently at 115 Ivinson, but wanted to let everyone know that in June, they'll be moving -two doors down, so they'll be next to the coffee shop instead of the chocolate shop (don't worry, the chocolate shop will still be easily accessible). I got out of the yarn shop relatively cheaply - lower prices than Baltimore-area yarn stores! Not counting the gasoline it took to get there, of course.

Denver is where we had built in an extra day, good thing, too, because after driving through heavy rain and snow, we really needed a break from the road for a while. Sunday, Vince and Chas did the driving - as we went up Pike's Peak, where there was more snow! We were only able to go up to 12,000 or so feet, as the road above that was closed. Interesting stuff: though there is no official venue for such sports, there were quite a few people skiing and snowboarding down the mountain. Absolutely nuts. Crucial thing to know for anyone else considering a day at Pike's Peak: the gift shop at the Glen Cove point has only one unisex restroom, that is one toilet, and so you can expect quite a line, especially if everyone has been drinking lots of water as is recommended for the high altitude.

Speaking of high altitude, I have to admit it did leave me a bit dizzy. Although we had been rolling along the highway at 6000 feet or so for a couple of days, and adjusted to that altitude, 12,000 feet is something else. My heart and lungs were not 100% happy with me. I recovered fully after a really long night's rest, though.

On the way home from Pike's Peak, we ate at the Rockyard Brewery and Grill, in Castle Rock, and I can highly recommend it to anyone else touring the area. Lovely Mission decor, excellent sandwiches; I hear the beer is quite good though I wasn't up for alcohol after already experiencing low oxygen, but I did have the homemade root beer, and it is spectacular. And free refills!

Since I slept in today, I missed breakfast, but made it out of bed in time to head to the zoo - where we found that not only was every parking lot and every side street full, such that even some school buses were roaming around looking, but every spot of grass in the lots was occupied by groups of schoolchildren waiting to go into the zoo. So we went to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature instead. Cool stuff! We only saw part of it, the dinosaurs and early mammals - lots of dino fossils found in Colo., so a lot of the exhibits were of local items! There is a really nice lounge in the back of the Space Odyssey area, where people can relax in armchairs while looking out a glass wall at the City park, and behind the city, the mountains. Very relaxing.

And then we went to a bookstore... well, Tattered Covers is one of the most famous independent bookstores in the country. Yes, I was bad. I was rather thoughtless, in spending unlimited time there without even wondering where the rest of our party was and whether they had other things to do. Sorry! And I spent too much, too. But hey, bookstore. And back at the Museum, the only things I got at the gift shop were one refrigerator magnet, and a bookmark for Cindy - surely that restraint balances things out?

By the way, back at Pike's Peak I only got a magnet, too, though at the Garden of the Gods Park, which is sort of an introduction area to the peak, I did buy a t-shirt because I did not have enough layers of clothing on for the expected temperatures at the peak. It's a cute t-shirt: three squirrels in the classic "hear no, see no, speak no" poses, with stuffed cheeks, and a caption that says "Birdseed? What birdseed?"

One of the books I bought is a collection of all of Stephen Foster's songs, along with a few from several other songwriters of the same era. It's funny how much we think of as being folk music was actually written by Stephen Foster.

Well. Having been extremely well-fed by C&V, and having some of our remaining cookies from Rock Springs for dessert, I think we're up to date now. Tomorrow we are back on the road, but I-80 is much greener, and fewer occasions of having to climb up mountains, from here on in. So, Omaha next!
bunrab: (Default)
Van Horn is a little this side of El Paso - a little, meaning about 120 miles - so after today's 8 hours of driving down flat straight I-10, we will continue to drive down flat, straight I-10 to El Paso, through New mexico and Arizona, and as far as Blythe, CA. The way it works for where to stop, either today would have had to have been a 10.5 hour day and tomorrow an 8.5 hour one, or vice versa; we chose to make it tomorrow.

So, since yesterday afternoon:
We had supper with Fad & Rob, and Gwen. We hadn't actually meant to crowd total strangers to each other in like that but our time limitations and driving limitations seemed to work out that way. I got to give Fade our previous cheese grater, as we recently got an even spiffier rotary grater. Rotary cheese graters are truly wonderful things! If you have never tried one, you are missing out; freshly grated cheese on your spaghetti puts that stuff from the green plastic jars to complete shame, and as for having cheese melt nicely and evenly in mac-n-cheese, well!

When we got back to Connie's, she was still awake, so we got to chat a bit more. Connie has been wonderfully generous - not just her spare bedroom, but making sandwiches and other food for us to eat on the road today - and she gave me one of her wonderful needlepoint pillows! Y'all know I do little needlepoint thingies, but I never finish anything as big or detailed as the pillows Connie makes. This is really a one-of-a-kind. She keeps all her needlepoint yarn sorted by color in clear plastic storage boxes - and even has the same kind of rolling plastic storage cart I do. Definitely a fellow needlework soul.

We were supposed to eat Connie's sandwiches for lunch, but we wound up eating them for supper, because we realized that we were driving right through Fredericksburg at the beginning of lunch time, so we just had to stop and get German food from one of the many German restaurants in that town. (Yes, let's all hum "In the Chester Nimitz Oriental Garden, in Fredericksburg, Texas, we sat and ate breakfast...") We chose Auslander Biergarten, and enjoyed our lunch.

Shortly after F'burg, US-290 merges with I-10, and from there on, it's boring all the way. We made a point of stopping for gas whenever we saw it, on the theory that who knows how far the next one would be? When we stopped in Fort Stockton for gas, we took a break and sat down in a DQ for some ice cream, since Fort Stockton is an actual town with such establishments. Then it was my turn to drive again, and I got us the remaining 2 hours or so to Van Horn, here.

The campsite is rather desert-y, as one might expect. Nice breeze, though, and the higher altitude means it's cooler than Austin. Since we parked we've had the windows open, no air conditioning, and have been comfortable. We have a read a bit, computered a bit, talked to other people in the park a bit (RVers in general are a friendly bunch, and everyone wants to know about the features of everyone else's motorhome or trailer.) And finally we ate Connie's sandwiches, and she even packed dessert for us, fruit and minimuffins and candy. We'll eat the tamale pie tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow is our long day, so we're going to make at least some attempt to get to bed earlier so we can get moving in the morning.
bunrab: (Default)
LoudTwitter seems to be dead for the moment, so I guess I'll actually have to type in a post! Of course, the main thing on my mind right now is patriotic music - we'll be playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, in various locations, and I will be heartily sick of Battle Hymn of the Republic before we're done.

Let's see, photos:


The older I get, the more I look like my dad. This is from last Friday, when we went over to Delaware to visit my folks, because my brother J and his family had flown in from CA to see them. So we had a small gathering of those family members who were nearby and happened to be free on a weekday, which came to 10 adults, 10 children and 1 teenager, and we all invaded the Smyrna Diner, which coped pretty well. Don't worry, we left them a really good tip.



And here's my brother J, and me, with his wife and their two daughters.

And here's all the tweets you've missed since LoudTwitter went down:
a long list )

ETA: since cut-and-paste from Twitter doesn't give the whole link, here's the links:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=4441
http://bit.ly/XWn1t
http://www.nps.gov/fowa/planyourvisit/events.htm ~~CONCERT, you want to come to this one!!
http://tinyurl.com/l5jojm
http://tr.im/qmKs - jobs!
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=4363
bunrab: (Default)


I crocheted this sweater in less than 2 weeks. In the picture, I haven't done the row of shells along the bottom hem yet, but I did that this evening, after the symphony, while we were watching CSI, so it is truly finished! I might add some small flowers at the neckline in other colors, since spring green isn't actually my best color - figuring to add some orangey-coral and/or aquamarine flowers, should look better at the edge next to my skin.

And it was so easy to make, that while we were at the symphony this evening, I started on the back of another one, and am more than half finished with the back - that's in the dark, in between applauding, reading the program, and whatnot.

The program included Christopher O'Riley, you know, the guy from From the Top. He did two encores, including one of his adaptations of Radiohead, and hey, it sounds at least as "classical" as Philip Glass channeling Brian Eno. Then in the second half, the last piece was Prokofiev's "Romeo & Juliet" and some of the audience started applauding at the pause that comes at the end of the section of the duel, where Tybalt is killed. So the guest conductor turns around and motions with his hand to quiet down, and says "Only one person is dead so far; we've got a couple more to kill yet." And they go on with the piece.

And we had supper afterward at Sabatino's. Life is good.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Okay. Let's see. The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison - latest in her Rachel Morgan series. Urban fantasy set in Cincinnati, our heroine is a witch, and demons are - well, not necessarily the enemy, and elves are, well, not necessarily nice people. This volume ties up a few loose ends, and introduces a cool plot twist. I really still don't like the character of Rachel's mother, though, no matter what good reasons she has for being nuts. Oh, and revelations about Rachel's father - surprising but I'm not sure I like that direction.

Have I already mentioned Where the Heart Leads by Stephanie Laurens? Yes, it's a Regency romance - but it's part of a series that features crime solving (murder mysteries and other crimes) as a major feature; in this one, not only our proto-PI, Barnaby Adair, but also our proto-police-detective, get a romance going.

Right is Wrong by Arianna Huffington. Even though I'm on the same general side of the fence, this book is a waste of time, because if one reads any political blogs at all, one has already read all of this. As blog entries, fine. As a book, it's incoherent. And repetitive and redundant. Preaching to the choir. People who disagree aren't going to buy the book, any more than I'd ever buy Coulter; people who agree, well, nothing new here, just a jolly bit of self-congratulatory feeling if you want to read somebody famous agreeing with you; and as for undecideds, well, I have the feeling that most people who are still undecided at this point are unlikely to buy or read hardcover books to help make their decisions. Will be remaindered the minute after the election, and have trouble selling even at $3.99. And I say this who agree with the general gist of the book.

Also a couple knitting books - possibly I'll go into detail on those some slow moment.

Pictures: jumping around a bit, here's toward the end of our trip; we're in Vienna eating pastry at a sidewalk cafe.


And here's one from Slovenia, speaking of pastry: Bled is famous for its cream cakes. We had some, and it was indeed delicious.

However, mostly what we saw in Bled was this: rain. And more rain. Frog-strangling rain.

That's looking down the street from the covered outdoor section of the very good pizza place attached to the back of our hotel.

I really do have to get these pictures up on a page so I can show you all of them without breaking anyone's fpage.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Well, I had briefly reported that we had been in Texas and were back again. While we were there we got to see a few people we hadn't seen the time before, and we also accomplished what we set out to accomplish with respect to my FIL's estate - inventorying some of the collections, and gathering up the rest of the personal papers, so the estate sale people will have a clear field to start pricing stuff, which will take them weeks - they will start this month, and then the estate sale will be in April sometime. If you're near Austin, ask me and I'll provide details, as there will be some cool stuff in the sale. While we were going through stuff, we found a few more items for other people - for [livejournal.com profile] the_curmudgn and for Jerry and for Cindy and for Connie... (hi y'all!)

Note to those in South Austin: don't bother with Cannoli Joe's down near 71 and Brodie. It's buffet-only, one price, food nothing special, confusing layout, and the cannoli are *too sweet* - you can hardly taste that it's ricotta cheese in there, tastes more like buttercream cake frosting.

Back home, we had the usual rehearsals Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I have some catty comments I'll manage not to commit to print about several things that happened at each rehearsal. Some good stuff: Monday night's rehearsal in Bel Air included having middle and high school students, who are going to perform a few numbers with us at the next concert. I got to oversee three middle school tenor saxes, who weren't bad; as there wasn't much one of me could do about listening closely to all three, I concentrated my advice on the judicious use of the pencil - "A musician without a pencil is almost as bad off as a musician without a mouthpiece."

Wednesday's rehearsal in Montgomery Village was preceded by a meeting about Maryland Community Band Day, which MV is sponsoring this year. The meeting was pretty productive, and we're actually on top of most of what needs to be done! Which is good, given that it's only 70 days out. We're getting down to the gritty details of forcing each band to decide on its program so that we can get the program books printed.

Also on Wednesday: looking at houses! And we found one we are making an offer on! We have been wanting for a while now to get a house with more square footage on the main floor, since I don't do stairs very well, and the third house we looked at was as if it had been built to our list of needs and wants - all on one floor, huge sunporch for the critters, level ground in both front and back yards, *garage!!!* (if [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet were to ever do anything so undignified as squee!, having a real garage instead of a carport would make him go squee!) Huge rooms, lots of light, neighborhood eerily similar to what we're in now - it's about a mile away, equally convenient to the same highways and all, a dead-end street just like the current one. And, the price on it was recently dropped to something within our range - the silver lining to the current troubles in the real estate market. So we've made an offer, and are waiting to hear. As soon as we hear that they've definitely accepted our offer, I'll do pictures and stuff. The goal would be to settle/close around mid-May.

Thursday was sax lesson. And today was doctors' appointments - getting some forms signed by my cardiologist, and getting my quarterly device check; the pacemaker is still working, and the defibrillator's batteries are still hale and hearty.

I want to say more about the house but I have a bit of totally irrational superstition about jinxing it in my head.
bunrab: (Default)
Tonight's Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert was quite good. I've never been that enthused about any of the Leonora overtures (which, let me remind you, are to the opera Fidelio, as there is no Leonora opera) but the performance of the L#3 was good. It was the Christopher Rouse flute concerto that really surprised me - I was prepared to not like a dissonant modern (1993) piece. And parts of it were dissonant. But parts were beautiful. One of the things Rouse (who was there tonight, and took a bow) had said was that when he was writing it, he heard about the 2 kids who murdered another kid, that had recently happened then, and so he turned it into an elegy. And indeed, the 4th and 5th movements are as stirring and powerful as any elegy or requiem in the classical literature. He knows how to use those chords, you know the ones, where the notes and the tone color all say death and hope - prayers for the dead and the hope of resurrection. Whether or not you believe in any sort of resurrection, or prayers, has nothing to do with it - those chords mean "pray for the dead and hope for resurrection." Well, they were done quite powerfully. The flute winds in and around and through there, there are lots of bassoon solos as well, as there must be in any requiem (think of Brophy's Diskworld Symphony), then the 4th movement ends with a bunch of crashing and dissonance that nonetheless makes sense, and the 5th movement starts softly, with more of a flute melody and those death-and-hope chords behind it, building, but then fading again, and the concerto ends with just the sustained flute and a very soft chord in which the bassoons were primary.

The Beethoven 5 was great. Started off at a slightly brisker tempo than the one in the template in my head, which made it sound fresher. (We all have that for the warhorses, don't we? Whichever recording we heard over and over as a kid, that's what that piece sounds like in our heads forever.) And Alsop did a signing after the concert, of the new CD release of the BSO doing Dvorak. She is very chatty and personable while signing.

We ate a bit too much tortellini at Sabatino's afterward.

Oh, and would you believe, I wore a dress to this concert? Granted, it was with tights and black lace-up boots, as though I were 25, instead of the stockings and heels people my age are supposed to wear, but still, a dress! I bought a couple of them last month - one for this summer, when the Baltimore Symphonic Band tours Eastern Europe, and I want to have a dress in which I can sit at a sidewalk cafe in Vienna and look elegant. Anyway, dress, and a real coat instead of my beat-up faux ski jacket. Almost a respectable adult.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
We had tickets to see Gaelic Storm at the Recher Theater in Towson (center north area of the Baltimore Beltway, home of Towson State University, about 20 minutes from our house) this evening. We went. "Doors open at 7" so we got there a couple minutes before 7. Well, first, we went in - and there were no seats. It's just a big open area with a stage at one end and bars on three sides. Not even folding chairs. Not even bar stools at the bars. So I guess one is supposed to treat it as a bar that happens to have entertainment - but that's not what we expected when we bought *tickets* - not something bars usually sell - to a place called a *theater*. So now we know: always ask first if the theater has seats. Then. We waited. Since we didn't feel like drinking alcohol, there was nothing to do but wait. No one had any idea of when the band would actually come on. Finally sometime after 8 p.m. and heading toward 8:30, we decided we had been standing around watching other people drink for long enough, and we left. Not having seen nor heard the band. We asked for a refund but they wouldn't give us one. Well. Guess where's one place we won't be going again no matter WHO is playing?

We did eat supper in Towson after that. We ate at a sushi place - apparently Towson has some sort of municipal ordinance that says that any restaurant MUST include a sushi bar. This particular one was called Olive & Sesame, which sounds more Middle Eastern to me. But it served Chinese food as well as sushi, and, in particular, what made us choose it even after discovering that it was not Middle Eastern, was that they had a section of the menu devoted to what they called "Revolution Diet" - steamed food with no salt, sugar, or cornstarch, served with sauces on the side so that one could control how little or how much sauce to add. So I got shrimp and veggies, with a Szechwan (Sechuan, whatever) sauce, and used only a minute amount of it, and thus had almost no sodium at all other than that which occurs naturally in shrimp. Great idea!

But boo on the Recher "Theater." Boo hiss.
bunrab: (chocolate)
Whew, I'm exhausted and we haven't even managed to see everybody that we hoped to see. Partly our own fault, since most of our visit overlapped the workweek; today's the only day we're here that isn't.

We got down to Book Exchange on Manchaca, to get more Bookmate book covers - they hold one's book open and flat so that one can use both hands to eat while reading. I have *not* stopped in at Hill Country Weavers, or any other yarn shop, or any fabric shop. One used book store is about all the extra suitcase room we have. We got some of the Bookmates for Kathy, as well; they'll be perfect for her murder mysteries (small size) and birding books (large size) and I predict that she'll soon be running down to South Austin to buy them for all *her* friends and relatives, as we do. We still have never found another store, anywhere, that sells them, and they cost MORE to order from the website than they cost at Book Exchange. Sheee.

We had supper with Anita and Dana, and I finally gave Anita her poncho. Pictures will be posted when I get home. We've been out to Lockhart to see some of Steve's relatives. Most of Steve's relatives I can take or leave, but there are so few left that I suppose we gotta see them. For those of you wondering, there are still a lot of cows in Texas. Moo. Lockhart, while it serves as the county seat for Caldwell County and the shopping metropolis for the surrounding farm and ranchland (and a bit of oil), is best known for: barbecue. Every block another barbecue restaurant; one's the biggest, one's the oldest family-run, one's the most historic building, etc., etc. Moo.

The people we haven't seen are the ones who are laid up with surgery/illness/etc., so I don't feel too guilty. Other than that, what's left on the agenda is tonight's ASB concert and party. Tomorrow morning, we leave here absurdly early, to return the Tomato Express to the rental people and catch a plane that will get us back to Baltimore around 1-ish in the afternoon, Eastern time, so we'll have time to catch our breath before Sunday evening's concert. Sunday being that busy, I probably won't check email at all, even, let alone catch up here on LJ. Expect that I will spend Monday the 30th reading all of y'all's posts from the past entire week (along with paying bills, paying for the storage unit, and snorgling the pets), so I'll finally find out whether anyone else has been doing anything fun and/or important.

Sam, Gwen, and others I haven't seen - next trip, you're FIRST on the list, OK?
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
Sunday the Montgomery Village Community Band played at Falcon's Landing, a large Air Force retirement community in Sterling, VA. It went well - Wednesday's dress rehearsal had been awful, but the concert went much, much better. There are still a couple percussion players who can't tell the difference between 6/8 and 2/4, but what can you do? The audience outnumbered the band, always a goal for community bands, and the facility also broadcast the concert over their CCTV to the people in the assisted living and nursing home areas who couldn't come to the community rooms. On the way home, we went looking for local food for a late lunch, and happened upon a newish Persian Restaurant there in Sterling, which turned out to be wonderful food and nice people - the place was empty except for us, so we chatted with the owners for a bit, stuff like that. (Rainy Sunday afternoon, and too new to have its name on the shopping center signboard out at the street, and 4:30 p.m. isn't a heavy traffic hour for restaurants anyway.)

Monday is Bel Air band rehearsal. The youngest of our tenor saxes wasn't at rehearsal - 2 of his best friends at VA Tech, one of them dead, the other one of the critically injured. So he had other stuff to think about besides rehearsal.

The 4 tenor saxes, it's odd how we pretty much span 4 generations - Bob's 80, a "Greatest Generation" type; I'm "Baby Boomer", Alicia's Gen X (mid-thirties), and John is 20. Besides the tenor, I am also using my bari in one piece, to cover a contra-alto clarinet part in a new piece, where the composer wrote in way more bass parts than most community bands can cover. No, the range on the bari isn't quite the same, but it sounds a lot more like a contra-alto than a tuba does, and besides, we need the tubas to cover the string bass and contra-bass clarinet parts as well as tuba, and there's only 3 of them. I like getting more practice at switching between instruments.

Sunday the 22nd, we leave for Austin. Monday evening we're having supper with band friends; Tuesday evening we'll probably stop by ASB rehearsal. Wednesday we're eating lunch with Steve's dad, and possibly a couple of his other relatives (there's not many left). Saturday evening is the Austin Symphonic Band's Silver Anniversary concert, followed by a big party, which we're going to - and then, way too soon on Sunday the 29th a.m., we climb back on a plane so we get back here by 1 p.m., which gives us time to nap and change clothes and be in Perry Hall before 7 p.m. to play a concert with the Baltimore Symphonic Band. (And looking only slightly more into the future, the following Sunday, May 6, is the Bel Air band's spring concert.)

Anyway, the reason I mention the details of when we're eating with whom is so that those of you I hope to visit with (Sam, Anita, Liz...), can be ready to tell me when would be a good time, working around what we're already doing, to stop by, say hi, possibly eat a meal or at least chat, when I call, probably this Thursday evening. We'll be staying with Jerry & Kathy, which is a fairly convenient in-town location (and thank you so much, guys, for the room - Steve's dad is having problems getting enough water for even one person out there in Oak Hill!)

Our sump pump worked fairly steadily today. It's stopped raining now. There are downed trees all over the place from the winds. All the traffic lights on Frederick Road (Catonsville's main street) were out of power, and a bunch of ones on roads parallel to it as well. Which didn't help the crowd around the post office. The wait today was only about half an hour; tomorrow will be MUCH worse. So I'm glad we got that done today. Last year, paying 2005 taxes, we didn't owe much to MD as partial-year residents, but for 2006, since we were residents all year, we owed state and city taxes, which of course aren't withheld from our Texas pensions. Oh well, we really can see that we get some services for our tax money here, so it's not like we shouldn't do our part.

I'm not going to bother watching CSI:Miami any more; it's become all Hummer and no cattle, if I may mix my metaphors.
bunrab: (music)
Saturday was the Navy Band Saxophone Symposium, down at George Mason U in Fairfax. (Well, it started Friday evening, but we had those symphony tickets. Incidentally, the Baltimore Sun's reviewer pretty much agreed straight down the line with my opinions on that concert.) So down we headed to Fairfax, halfway around the nest of evil that is the DC Beltway.

Community saxophone choir rehearsal: the usual bunch of high school kids who think they're hot sh!t, attacking all notes and blithely disregarding all accidentals. But some fun stuff to play, several arrangements by the guy who was conducting the session, Rob Holmes, who plays bari sax, amongst other things, in the Navy Commodores, the jazz band. Since the saxophone is the saxophone, the whole symposium is tilted more toward jazz than toward classical/concert band.

Vendors' room: not enough vendors. But I did grab a moment to speak to the guys from L&L about test-driving some soprano saxes on Wednesday afternoon. The Baltimore SB is doing de Meij's "Lord of the Rings" this spring, and the soprano sax solo is mine if I can do it.

Interservice Saxophone Ensemble: great group, great stuff. A bass sax player, who is also an arranger; they did one of his arrangments which was called "Nick at Night" and was a medley of every corny sixties cartoon and comedy show that's now in eternal syndication. Of course he wrote some great bass sax lines into it!

Whine: next recital we wanted to attend was the Marine Band Sax Quartet; two faults with that: (1) It was in another building, way uphill from the main building, and (2) they played Albright's "Fantasy Etudes." Is there some rule that says someone has to play the Fantasy Etudes every year? I didn't like that piece 10 years ago, I didn't like it last year, and I still don't like it. It consists mainly of "sound effects" rather than music, and just because something can be done on a saxophone doesn't mean it should be done. (Words to live by for many disciplines, including HTML.) Anyway, that said, they certainly did it very well.

The next thing we wanted to go to was cancelled, so it was over to the Thai restaurant across the street for a snack. We seem to wind up there every time we're in Fairfax.

The Community Sax Choir performed in the lobby before the big Commodores concert. It went OK, for something that had had 25 minutes prior rehearsal, had several people who weren't at rehearsal show up and sight read, and about half the people who had been at rehearsal didn't show up. We had fun, anyway, and the audience applauded.

The Commodores concert was fantastic. The guest soloist was Chris Potter, who has an awful lot of awfully good notes stuffed in that horn! He plays tenor sax. My favorite was his composition "Ruminations." He was dressed in "musician casual" which means "whatever you were hanging out in, with a sports coat thrown over it," in this case an untucked shirt, worn jeans, and scuffed boots. I suppose someone that good gets to wear whatever he wants. I really admired the way he could change the tone without changing mouthpieces or even reeds. Plus, did I mention, a whole lotta notes?

A good time was had by all, and we stopped at the Silver Diner for pot pie on the way home. Sunday, we go right back down there for an entirely separate Marine Band concert, and then we're stopping by my brother G's house which is not too far off our route home.

ETA pictures of the community saxophone choir )
bunrab: (Default)
We went to the symphony this evening, which was performing Pictures at an Exhibition and Brahms' Violin Concerto. The violin soloist was young, and was wearing what people of my generation would call a Nehru jacket, in black, which looked quite spiffy. However, I was a little disappointed in the performance. I thought that the violin wasn't quite strong enough, that it sounded a little thin and soft. If it were brass, I'd have said he needed an instrument with a bigger bore. Anyway, there was nothing technically wrong with it, and other people didn't seem so picky. After intermission was Pictures, which I enjoyed. There were a few tiny flubs but overall it was good, and loud. I liked the alto sax interpretation, although [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet thought it was a little bit too moderate and should have stood out more (OTOH, he liked the violinist in the concerto just fine). For "Byddlo," rather than the tuba player, the third trombonist picked up a euphonium and played the solo part. He did an excellent job, with a lovely tone. He appeared to just switch the same mouthpiece between the two, which certainly makes it easier to use two different instruments in the same performance! I've never been sure of the difference between a euphonium and a tenor tuba, myself, and I asked [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet; his response was "Opinions vary." In other words, in a blind taste test, even experts can't actually tell the difference; it's whatever the manufacturer claims it is. (Technically, a baritone horn has a slightly less conical bore than a euphonium, but that's another one that if you put it in a lineup, you'd need a micrometer caliper to tell them apart, or else have to actually play them. With the euphonium/tenor tuba pair, even blowing into them wouldn't help.)

Afterward, we went to Sabatino's for supper. They sure have good rum cake!

Speaking of music, Netflix sent us Ice Age II: The Meltdown, which has a hysterical scene of buzzards singing "Food, Glorious Food," and also has Scrat eying the heavenly acorn to ballet music from Khatchaturian (the adagio from "Spartacus, if you're interested), even doing some jet├ęs and spins to it.
bunrab: (Sniffy)
The Baltimore Symphonic Band concert Tuesday night at Oak Crest went fine. The "Santa Comes to Dixieland" piece is a hoot; I really enjoy the tenor sax part! Oak Crest Village is one humongous retirement community. After rehearsal, we went straight to BWI to pick Cindy up.

Wednesday Cindy wanted to hang out at a library branch, so that's mainly what we did in the afternoon - she's applied for a couple of jobs with the Balto. County library system, and wanted to see what the system is like. The Catonsville branch was as good a place as any to hang out. Found several new books. We also did some yarn-buying at JoAnn's, what a surprise. Wednesday night, Montgomery Village rehearsal (concert for that is this coming Sunday.)

Thursday, [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet got hit with the worst of this cold we're passing around, so Cindy and I went to the Balto. Symphony Orchestra concert without him. It was all-Baroque - Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann. Meyerhoff is all decorated for Christmas. The guest conductor was one Robert King, who wore a black shirt and black trousers - no tux, no tie, no jacket. Exuberant and cute. Did not use a podium.

[livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet slightly more human today, so we went to the Baltimore Museum of Art for a few hours, and did a bit of holiday shopping in their gift shop. Ate supper at Salsa Grill, a Peruvian restaurant on Security right near the SSA offices. Good food, but the entrees are huge - one has to either split one between two people, or automatically save half for another meal (which then makes the price per meal more in our usual price range.)

Recent reading: The Sudbury School Murders (Ashley Gardner), a historical mystery set in Regency England, part of a series, which I shall probably go find the rest of, since it was pretty good. Hearts and Bones (Margaret Lawrence), a historical mystery set in Revolutionary-era Maine, also part of a series, don't know whether I'll bother hunting down the rest - I haven't decided whether I liked it or not. Slightly harder going than the other one, gorier and perhaps more perverse and more psychological than things really were back then? A couple of collections of SF short stories - one of them, The Emperor of Gondwanaland by Paul DiFilippo, several of the stories are fairly funny, including the title story, and the story that goes with the cover picture, which is indeed a gadget-using, scarf-wearing, giant beaver. Re-read The Light Fantastic - it's been re-issued relatively recently; I shall have to go back and find an old copy as well; it seems to me as though it is now slightly more congruent in details with the later stories than it was 20 years ago, but that could be my imagination.

I think that's all. Tomorrow may be TubaChristmas, if the weather calms down from heavy rain and strong winds as it is this evening.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Let's see. I mentioned family dinner Tuesday, did I not? My newest niece (#37) is cute - and teeny tiny. Also got email from one of the oldest nieces - I now have great-nephew #3. Oops, time to make another baby blanket!

We saw "Over the Hedge" yesterday. It was cute - not great, but cute and amusing, worth the matinee price. Had some moments in it that were definitely for the grownups. ("Stellllaaaaa!") We ate lunch beforehand at a Pakistani restaurant in the same mall, and it was not bad at all - a very large lunch buffet. Some sort of Pakistani equivalent of MTV on a big screen at the back of one dining area - all music videos featuring scantily clad young women and strong young men - with the occasional camel wandering past.

It was also damn hot for here, yesterday, and I wound up sleeping a lot later than usual today, missing lunch, which I blame on the heat.

However, we are going out to supper tonight, because: We arrived in Maryland a year ago today!

We left Texas on the 14th - and so this past Wednesday, at the Silver Diner, we celebrated that by ordering the Crunchy Gulf Shrimp Platter (yes, it's a no-no on both our diets). Silver Diner, you may recall me mentioning previously, is the home of the world's best chicken pot pie. So, we had a Texas meal on Wednesday. And tonight, we will eat at the same restaurant that was the first real restaurant we ate at in the area (not a chain, not fast food), a local place called the Crab Shanty. We actually didn't first eat there until the 21st of June last year - because that's when our car finally arrived, and we started roaming around further than the chain restaurants a block away from the apartment. As it happens, the Crab Shanty is closer to our house here in Catonsville than it was to the apartment in Columbia, a peculiarity of its location right on Route 40 in Ellicott City. Anyway, I'm looking forward to more fresh seafood.

Observations on a year in Maryland:
Food is more expensive here. Classical music is cheaper and more frequent.
Water is considerably cheaper. Air conditioning is going to jump in price pretty drastically this year. It will still be cheaper to air condition this ranch house than the leaky antique on Riverside.
There are lots of wild cottontail rabbits in our neighborhood. And wild strawberries growing on our lawn. We didn't have those in Texas.
On the other hand, we don't have Schlotzky's or Magnolia Cafe here, and I do miss those.
We are finally beginning to get the house in the shape we will be comfortable with; by the time we've actually been in this house a year, we may even be mostly unpacked!
So far, so good.
bunrab: (bike)
So, we had a home inspection done on the house we've offered for, and the inspector found that the basement is loaded with mold. There are also lesser, but still in need of repair, problems with several parts of the electrical system, the drains, and the back yard - letting water into the basement, frost damage to the outside stairwell to the basement, etc. But the mold is the serious part. To remove it requires removing the wall panelling and the ceiling tiles, and a bit of the floor; one floor joist needs replacement. We don't know if it's toxic mold or not- it's been sent off for tests, but they won't be ready for 7-12 days. So we invoked the home inspection addendum to the contract, and asked for a $12,000 allowance for repairs. The seller could cancel the contract instead of agreeing to that, but there are risks for her in cancelling our contract - if she puts the house back on the market, she can no longer claim, as she had been before, that she has no knowledge of any problems. One option on disclosure statements is to just say "I don't know anything about anything" and allow the buyer to decide on the risks of that, and that's what she had done. But now, if she were to put it back on the market with that same disclaimer, and then a buyer found out that she had been informed of the mold, she and her real estate agent would be subject to quite the lawsuit. So chances are, at this point, that she wouldn't be able to get full price she's been asking if she waits for other offers. Now that the mold's been disclosed, ours may be the best offer she'll get. We'll see.

We can deal with it - it would require doing the mold remediation before we move in, not a problem, and then installing better ventilation and a dehumidifier down there as well as replacing the panelling and ceiling. And while we're down there we'd improve the sump pump for the basement bathroom and laundry.

I did indeed go around on the bike and find that Indian restaurant I mentioned in my previous post. We ate lunch there today. Not bad at all. Yesterday we had lunch in a Chinese place that was pretty good (I had complained about the quality of the Chinese restaurants we had tried so far a few posts back) and had reasonable prices to boot. One reason is that their lunch specials don't come with soup-and-eggroll-and-wonton-and-fried-rice, just with steamed rice, period. Which is fine. Especially since it apparently keeps prices down.

We ate supper last night at a Mexican place. Um, not gonna get a lot of repeat business from us. They have a limited selection of enchiladas, and the only choices for sauces on them are Ranchero and what they call "enchilada sauce" which is a gloppy brown stuff. No tomatillo/green sauce. And only refried pintos - no black beans, charro beans, borracho beans, or any other tasty options. And high prices - $9.50 for a plate of spinach enchiladas with refried and rice, nothing special, and ranchero sauce tastes really awful on spinach enchiladas.

We'll eat at home tonight, after I get back from knitting.

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