bunrab: (me)
I was discussing the phrase "ye gods and little fishes" with boyfriend the other day, and I swear I remember reading a book as a kid, in which a little girl used that phrase frequently to express her impatience with other people. I cannot remember what book it was - this odd notion comes to me that perhaps it was Cheaper By The Dozen??? Could that be right? If not, does anyone else remember such a little girl using that phrase, possibly in connection with walking to get ice cream? It's very odd what scraps the mind remembers.

I am too lazy to go to the library and find Cheaper By The Dozen just to see if that's it.

This year, our anniversary and Mother's Day came on exactly the same dates it did the year we got married, 1985. It would have been our 28th anniversary. I kept busy and didn't think about it too hard, because who wants to ruin someone else's nice Mother's Day dinner by bursting into tears?

My stepmother lost her first husband when she was considerably younger than I was when Steve died - and she had several small children to take care of as well. (If I recall, her youngest at the time was an infant.) I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for her - and I can see why she would have been happy to meet my dad, even though it wasn't that long afterwards, because she must have been so lonely, surrounded by children who were a constant reminder of what she had lost, without being old enough to be useful in helping her cope with his loss. My stepbrothers and stepsisters never talked about their father very much, though I gather he was rather strict, and chronically ill.

Saturday was our condo community's annual group yard sale. Six boxes of books and two boxes of crafts magazines out the door, along with a few miscellaneous items. Steve's three torque wrenches were the first thing to be sold - lots of guys want those, apparently. The crowd, and what they're looking for, is rather different than Austin; fewer books sold than I had hoped (the leftovers went to the charity donation truck that came at the end, not back into my condo) and a lot more people were looking for clothing, which I hadn't even considered bringing because in Austin, it never sold well - only baby/little kids clothing ever sold at all. Here; people who had women's dresses and suits and shoes were doing a brisk business. I did get a few people who each took an armload of crafts magazines, though, and a few science fiction geeks who picked up 10-20 books apiece. Did a bit of electioneering for the condo board elections this summer - I'm serving as an appointed member, right now, filling in a vacant spot, but I need to get elected to a regular term, and, quite oddly for such things, we have 5 people running for the three open spots (usually it's hard to get anybody to run at all) - so I used this as an opportunity to talk to a bunch of neighbors I hadn't met before, and do a few good deeds - things I would have done anyway, of course, but now I mentioned that I was running, after helping people.

I had my quarterly device check today, and it looks like the battery is holding up enough that we don't have to schedule replacement for July - the power level is still a bit above even the "elective replacement" level, let alone the "mandatory replacement within 3 months" level. So we've scheduled the next quarterly check for August, 3 months from now, with the assumption that at that time, the power will have just dropped into elective replacement then, and since replacement is outpatient surgery, it can be scheduled fairly quickly, probably for later that week. The question will be whether I've healed enough to play in rehearsals that start up around Labor Day - I believe the first concert any of my bands have scheduled for next season is something like September 15. By now, my cardiologist is used to hearing that his schedule comes in somewhere less important than my concert schedule :D

Hey, anyone in Maryland: Maryland Community Band Day is June 9, noon to 8 pm, at the Lurman Woodland Theater in Catonsville. Montgomery Village Community Band is playing at 3 pm, and Baltimore Symphonic Band, as the host band, is playing last, at 7 pm. C'mon out and listen!
bunrab: (me)
Things I am not catching up on:
Sewing: I'm trying to catch up on quilting projects, some 15 years old now. I am also trying to sort through fabric and reduce the stash some more, which I have been hopping to ADD-like instead of sticking to sewing - and worse yet, as I sort through fabric, I have ideas for new projects, and worse than that, I pull out fabric and start cutting it for those new projects - so I now have three more projects in pieces all over the sewing room, in addition to the already extant unfinished projects. On the good side there, I have pulled out about 40 assorted pieces of stash - from eighth-yards to 2-yard pieces - that I can stand to get rid of, and I have a group that makes baby quilts for charity lined up to give them to, next week - so I will try to find a few more pieces by then. But really, Kelly, stop having ideas for more quilts!

Blogging about books. I've read some, I meant to comment on some; I haven't found the time to both read and to write thoughtfully about what I read.

Knitting. I'm not going to have anything new done for Stitches next week. I have not used one single skein of the yarn I bought at Stitches last April. Granted it's been an unusually busy year, but really, having some 30 skeins of yarn still in its tote bag from Stitches 2012 is sort of evidence that I shouldn't buy more yarn, isn't it? Wanna bet I buy more yarn at Stitches next week anyway?

Condo association stuff: I /am/ going to do the condo association newsletter tonight. And I /will/ fill out and mail the Business Personal Property return before I leave for Stitches, since it's due the 15th. But I am no further along in finding an auditor nor in familiarizing myself with our interesting lawsuit against our former management company than I ever was. And pretty soon the next phase of the gas bill project will be added to the pile, along with the next phase of the washers-in-units project.

Catching up on my CPA CPE: I have 64 hours of mail-order classes sitting next to the computer (out of the 80 hours I need, total, to catch up), and haven't started a one of them, though I paid good money for them.

Unpacking boxes and giving away stuff: this is going incredibly slowly. I still get these little punches in the heart and bursts of tears sorting through Steve's stuff, and I still am having a great deal of trouble picking out books to get rid of without thinking I need to re-read them first. Never mind boxes full of papers such as old bills and greeting cards and souvenirs - those I haven't gotten to at all.

What have I done, anyway? Well, a Mensa friend gave me his old clarinet a couple of weeks ago, and I am making significant progress on that. Learning the fingering from a chart isn't the hard part; learning to look at written music and do that fingering at speed as the notes go by on the page is the hard part. Especially that middle register where the F through B-flat all take place with combinations of just the forefinger and thumb using keys that aren't part of the regular fingerholes. And I have filed all my own taxes, which were a bit fussier than usual this year thanks to selling the house, investing a bit of money, and receiving the lump sum from SSA. And I'm doing a /little/ bit to help out with putting together Maryland Community Band Day which is coming up in June, hosted by the Baltimore Symphonic Band this year. So I'm not entirely unproductive. Just not keeping up, is all.
bunrab: (me)
Although there were a couple band concerts in the past couple weeks, which were fun and which I did my part in reasonably well, other than that, I can't say I've made any progress on stuff I should be doing. I did mail off my 1040 - since I owed them a whopping check because of the lump sum Social Security amount in November, I had to make the payment earlier rather than waiting for April 15, to support my case for not charging me penalties for not making estimated tax payments during 2012, which I couldn't have because I didn't KNOW I was going to get money until it was already the 4th quarter, but nonetheless needed a bit of CYA-ing. I haven't done my state taxes, though. Or the extension for the condo association's taxes, or found an auditor for the condo association. I ordered some DIY CPE for my CPA license, because I want to keep it active (there's this vague "just in case" thing in my head, plus an equally vague fear that I will somehow forget the license and let it lapse, if I keep it on inactive status, and a CPA license is NOT something one wants to have lapse) but I haven't started in on any of it yet.

And I have several pieces of music in my head that I need to get written down. And, more short-term, about ten tea reviews to write, including one of some wonderful Sri Lankan tea that Barbara and Jim gave me, that turns out to taste a great deal like an Assam.

I did order a sofa today, finally. My niece is going to take my little loveseat for her first apartment - that'll be several months yet, but I've been wanting a real sofa, and it was part of what I planned to do with the SS money after taxes, and there was a sale over at Home Decorators Collection. And, knowing that there's going to be a sofa delivered in a week or so will FORCE me to clean up one last pile in the living room of stuff that's been: waiting to be mailed; waiting to be taken to Goodwill; waiting to be properly stored in the crafts room; waiting to be moved to my bedroom. So I have those chores cut out for me, and a deadline, which always inspires me more than just knowing that something /should/ be done. The little loveseat will also go in my bedroom for a while, once the sofa comes. The living room here is tiny-ish, and I don't want to block the patio door the way the previous residents did; I /use/ the patio door a lot.

The heating bills have been pretty reasonable - that was, after all, one of the major reasons for moving. They haven't been quite as low as I'd like, partly because this is the first floor so I'm not getting the benefit of anybody else's heat, and partly because when I have guests I do turn the heat up to a comfy temp for them, and I've had several guests in January and February, and partly because there's still a cold-air leak somewhere in my bedroom that I haven't managed to eliminate with the weather-stripping of the windows; I think it may actually be right at floor level under the window (I'd have to draw you a picture for you to be able to tell that that spot is a clear weak point in the overall design of these places) and the solution to that will be a runner rug and/or a door-type draft stopper - I don't think it would look right to run caulk and weatherstripping along the laminate floor and quarter-round baseboard molding. And maybe also next year I'll do that whole plastic-liner-with-the-hair-dryer thing to that window, too, since that would help with the spots I can't weather-strip such as the latches and locks for the sliding parts.

So, goals. Now to attempt to achieve some. In between more books (currently reading Nebula Awards 2012).
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
Montgomery Village celebrated Independence Day on Friday, with parade and concert. The parade was interesting: the trailer I was sitting on got a flat tire - the one nearest me - almost as soon as we started off. The band sits on two flatbed trailers pulled by pickup trucks; we are a bit too old, on average, to *march* although there are a couple of slightly insane band members who do walk alongside the trailers. I couldn't change seats to get away from the increasingly bumpy flat tire, because a baritone saxophone really doesn't fit many other places on a trailer besides that seat on the right, just behind the rear axle. One of those facts of musical life. Bassoon has a similar problem; bassoon players rarely play in parades. The bumpiness was getting bad enough that even people on the rest of the trailer were noticing it, by the time we turned the corner into the parking lot. And then the truck driver miscalculated and pulled that corner of the trailer right over a curb. That did it! Tire flopped loose from rim entirely, and we traveled a few more feet - enough to get us the rest of the way into the lot - on the metal rim. The rest of the festivities were delayed a few minutes while management figured out how to tow the trailer off for repairs.

Got to say it was beautiful weather! 66º F, light breeze - we certainly needed our clothespins for the music. And there was a good audience for a weekday; apparently the economy, and budget cuts such that lots of people got mandatory furlough days to have a long weekend, contributed to many people being available to watch a parade on a Friday morning. The concert went well, too, with the weather holding up, the audience hanging around, and only a couple of stands full of music being blown over by the wind. The bass trombone does not like playing the music from "Hairspray" but I love it, and so does the audience. We did "Armed Forces Medley" instead of "Armed Forces Salute." The usual Carmen Dragon "America the Beautiful." And the always fun "Victory at Sea." As well as Sousa marches, and Fillmore, and Kenneth Alford, and RB Hall.

Sunday we'll be playing at Fort Washington National Park, in Ft. Washington, MD, southeast of Washington DC. Check out the Montgomery Village Community Band's website, http://www.montgomeryvillagecommunityband.org, or the National Park Service's website, http://www.nps.gov/fowa/planyourvisit/events.htm, for details.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Reading: Liquid Jade (about tea); Beyond Red and Blue (about politics); Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (interminably long fantasy, which I am about 1/3 of the way through after 2 weeks of hacking away at the underbrush.)

Music: Went to BSO concert last Friday, going to another one this Friday - that would be today! - last one of this season. Baltimore Symphonic Band played at Charlestown Retirement, here in Catonsville, on Tuesday. Bel Air Community Band will be playing at Shamrock Park in Bel Air on Sunday evening at 7. Next Montgomery Village concert is June 28.


Started June 1, finished June 12! No pattern, just two rectangles, with a V-neck worked into one of them. It's knitted, not crocheted. Has baby cables in it. Craft cotton in the big cheap skeins, one skein.

And before that, there was this one, in May, same deal except I hadn't figured out as much about the shaping yet:

That, and cleaning bunny litter boxes, and cleaning up the old house, packing a bit more at a time each day - almost completely empty now, and it's already being shown!
bunrab: (alien reading)
Let's see. First, Gaslight Grimoire, an anthology of Sherlock Holmes fantasy stories (sort of) - which I've done an Amazon review of, but it's not posted yet; I'll provide a link as soon as that's posted.

Speaking of which, could some of you go read my reviews for The Magicians and Mrs. Quent and Grease Monkey and Life Sucks, click on the little Yes buttons for my reviews, and maybe even add comments to the reviews? Thanks!!

Speaking of graphic novels, which the last two mentioned above are, I continue my efforts to decide whether graphic novels count as real books for grown-ups, not just comic books with too much self-esteem. One of the funniest is Rex Libris: I, Librarian by James Turner, which is an intergalactic space opera featuring a librarian who will go to any lengths to recover an overdue book. First published as 32-page comic books, this book is a collection of 5 of those, which comprise a complete story arc. Great dialogue, good characters, fun light-science-fictiony plot. Don't miss out on meeting Rex's boss, Thoth! (Especially funny to me since I have recently been to see a bunch of Egyptian mummies at a museum.)

The source of the amigurumi lemur is a book called Tiny Yarn Animals by Tamie Snow. Of no interest to anyone who doesn't crochet, but if you do crochet, you gotta try a couple of these critters! The lemur is the cutest, of course, but the beaver is also tooo cute, and if you're a fan of Kitsune in Japanese stories, then you'd like the little red fox.

OK. Off to band rehearsal in Essex. Tomorrow: saxophone lesson. Note to self: must buy more La Voz reeds; Bill's here in Catonsville doesn't carry La Voz bari reeds, despite that it's a large store; the much smaller L&L in Gaithersburg has a much better selection of reeds, as well as a fantastic repair department. So tomorrow is Gaithersburg on the way to Montgomery Village rehearsal!
bunrab: (alien reading)
After we got back from Europe, I was only home for a couple of days before I turned around and went up to New York to help my friend Sally-the-hoarder throw some stuff out. Just got back this Thursday. Did not have computer with me while I was there, and didn't have much chance to use Sally's computer. We did get some stuff thrown out, but it's a battle - while she knows she's got a problem, she doesn't like to think that any individual thing is a problem, and so every single piece has to be looked at, categorized, and a decision made about it. We couldn't even compromise about putting some stuff in boxes and sticking them in the POD that I rented for her and then deciding about them later, because the stuff in boxes *might* be something she'd need within the next couple months. The fact that many of said things were things she's done without for years because they were buried under other stuff does not in any way alleviate her anxiety that she might need it, that she can think of a possible use for it, and therefore it can't get stored somewhere where she can't get at it instantly, let alone thrown away. So we debate that need to a standstill on every receipt, every tennis ball, every bag of candy purchased in 2004 and long since past its expiration date. Despite all that, we DID make some progress. And I got a chance to talk to a couple of her other friends who live up there, and started enlisting them to help out with one small chunk of STUFF at a time.

Wait, here's a picture, so that this post isn't just whining! This one is me on my travel scooter, on the road leading to the beach in Opatija, Croatia; the bikes behind me are Kawasakis, which seemed to be the most popular motorcycles in town, though still far behind motor scooters in numbers; there are a couple other band members, too - we were on our way to the amphitheatre for our first performance!

Anyway. Reading. Let's see. Re-reading some Terry Pratchett - so far, Guards, Guards!, Men at Arms, and Feet of Clay. Also have progressed through Matriarch and Ally in the second trilogy of Karen Traviss' Shan Frankland series. Now on the final book, Judge - I'll give a more thorough report on that one when I'm done. Also have started the latest Harry Dresden book, Small Favors (Jim Butcher) - I won't give anything away, don't worry. Um, Carolyn Hart's Death Walked In in her Annie Darling series - eh, she's recycling plots lately. There's been other stuff as well - I know a bunch of library books have wandered in and out of here - but I can't remember what.

Wait, I am drifting into boring, must be time for another picture! Here are some bikes and scooters parked under the palm trees along the sidewalks of one of the main streets. I bet you never thought of Eastern Europe and palm trees in the same breath - but Croatia is a seaside country, this is a seaside resort town, and yes, it has lots of palm trees!

We got most of the remainder of the stuff out of the old house yesterday - there's still loose odds and ends in the kitchen that we can carry over in the car, but all the big stuff's out of there, and we can call in the carpet shampooers and the general cleaners and probably have that house ready to rent out for September 1! This house is messier than ever now - but the electrician is coming next Thursday to do the rest of the work on the outlets, and then we can push all the bookcases against the walls and really get to unpacking the books.

This is the Hotel Agava (yes, after the agave plant), which is where we were staying in Opatija.

Anyway, I'm just going to look at my flist starting now, and only go back if (a) I see something drastic that begs for explanation that may be in an earlier post, or (b) you actually put a comment here telling me that there's something I should know or would like to know in your posts of the past month. Sorry I'm being so lazy - but lazy is my middle name, right?

One more pic: This is looking out from the stage into the audience portion of the amphitheater, during our sound check a couple hours before the concert.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
Seaside resort town of Opatija is where we are staying. Pardon any odd typing - the keyboard is not set for English, so the y is in an odd spot and there are odd letters. Anyway, narrow twisty old roads, and motorscooters seem to be the main method of transportation. Currently visiting another resort town, Pula, and although it is somewhat flatter than Opatija and has some wider roads, still scooters are at least as common as cars. Western Croatia seems to like to think of itself as Eastern Italy - everything is ˝the Venice of Croatia (now I cant find the way to do quotes again) or the Riviera of Croatia - in fact our tour guide refers to the town as Opatija Riviera.

Our little OLPC XO computer isnt working; Steve thinks that repeated trips through Frankfurt security may have damaged its pseudo-memory. Right now the group is touring some very hilly area and it is very hot outside, so they have parked me at this internet cafe. My travel scooter is doing quite well, but with the heat, I just cant do everything outdoors. As you can tell, I havent found the apostrophe yet on this keyboard. And the z is where I expect the y to be.

Remind me to post later about:

Ethiopian airline helper in Dulles airport; vegan meal on plane; 5 hours in Frankfurt airport, including having to go through weird places due to being in wheelchair; 10 year old seatmate on hop from Frankfurt to Zagreb; little security at Zagreb airport. Then, bus and bus driver Toby, drive to Opatija (O PAT ee ya) lovely town, buffet suppers, hotel, first world, bathtub, key card electricity, rehearsal in hotel, concert in open air amphitheater, reception afterwards. Next day trip to Punat and monastery and winery, fig brandy, scenery, former Yugoslavian motorczcle racing. Chuck Berry concert in amphitheater, with fireworks. Today, bus to other seaside town Pula, then Poreč, where we will play a concert.

The bus driver and tour director have finally gotten the hang of dealing with me and mz scooter, and the tour guide for these day trips, too. Tomorrow we head for Slovenia, so we will acquire a new local tour guide. The bus driver is from Austria, so we are heading slowly back toward home for him.

OK, enough of dealing with this keyboard.
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
OK gang, Monday noon we're off for the Baltimore Symphonic Band tour of Eastern Europe. We will be gone July 7-17. A sitter will be taking care of the pets and the house, all that stuff, but she will not be answering our phones. We are not taking our cell phones to Europe; they're the wrong kind. We will, however, be checking our email from internet cafes, once we get to Europe. We're taking the little OLPC XO computer. So if you are trying to get in touch with us, email should get responded to within a couple of days, whereas a phone call will not get returned until the 18th at the earliest.

I probably won't have time to read all of my flist during the trip, though. I'll ask when I get back if there's anything I absolutely have to know that happened to you.

Our friend Cindy-the-librarian will also be checking on things here, and she will have our emergency numbers at the hotels we'll be staying at; she has our flight numbers and times.

If we have your snail address, chances are we'll be sending you a postcard from our travels.

Anyone have anything to tell me right away, comment or email me before 1 a.m. Eastern Daylight time on Monday July 7 (that is, about 9 hours after I post this) and I will get back to you before we leave.
bunrab: (Sniffy)
Whew. Band Day was fun but exhausting. All went well. The bands all did great programs. The ice cream vendor sold out of all flavors. After we got home, I slept till 4:30 Monday afternoon.

The house is almost ready for us to move in - the painters were doing the final touch-ups today; the new windows are installed and the sunroom shades re-loaded; the washer-dryer vent and power are up and running; the electrician just has to do one more electrical outlet in the kitchen. We have started carrying all sorts of loose stuff over there, but I need to call a mover and get a firm date in order to push me into getting really moving. I have finished crocheting one cotton throw rug for the floor, but I have to get a non-skid backing for it yet; I will take a pic once the rug is all smooth and flat.

Cindythelibrarian has brought us an armful of flattened boxes so I have no excuse not to start packing!!

Recent reading:
Lisa Scottoline, Daddy's Girl - plucky law professor up for tenure gets caught up in giant prison plot. OK, if not great.
G.M. Ford, Nameless Night - amnesia, the NSA and NASA - it's a thriller. Not my usual cup of tea but this was good, and the beginning, with the amnesia patient, tied in interestingly with that book about traumatic head injury I read a couple weeks ago.
Justin Scott, Mausoleum - latest in his Ben Abbott series; as usual, real estate developers are the bad guys. I have a quibble with this series, which is that its protagonist supposedly has a felony conviction and multiple-year jail term in his past and yet somehow had no trouble getting both a PI license and a Realtor license?
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
It has been a musicky couple of weeks. Friday a week ago, we went to a BSO concert. Piano soloist for the Prokofiev was spectacular; it must have been exhausting for the concertmaster just sitting next to her. She did two encores, each one faster: first an arrangement of Rondo a la Turk that sounded like something that Horowitz might have done, and then Flight of the Bumblebee, faster than I have ever heard it on any instrument whatsoever. The second half was Symphony Fantastique, and it was great - the tubas nailed their solo, and they got to stand up and take a bow for it, and the entire thing was just wonderful.

Tuesday night, we got to watch the BSO rehearsing for the upcoming concert - it was the first rehearsal where all the choruses and the orchestra were together, for rehearsing Carmina Burana. It was fascinating watching Alsop's rehearsal technique - and also impressive to see the professionalism of the orchestra; any community band musician will recognize what I mean when I say that when she stops, they stop - if she stops on the first note of an eight-note triplet, NOBODY plays the second note. And nobody starts talking immediately, either. Wish we could get even 1/100th of that into our community groups.

And Friday we attended the performance of Carmina. The first piece was actually a piece of Samuel Barber's Medea, and Alsop gave a short lecture on the plot and had the orchestra play a couple of measures of the meaningful themes. THat is one scary piece - which goes with the plot, yes - if you don't know it, look it up (small hint: she eats her children.) The Carmina went off beautifully. The baritone was slightly more restrained than in rehearsal - he had to be; he had several people cracking up a bit during rehearsal with his gestures to accompany "Ego sum abbas;" there still were gestures that were nicely expressive of the segment, though. He will be worth watching - anyone who can be that expressive and who clearly is having that much fun doing it, while singing well, can probably get work anywhere. The program notes translated "wafna" as "woe." The tenor was an excellent roasted swan. And the soprano wore a red dress that rustled, to go with the lyrics in one of her verses. Alsop also had a Q&A session after the concert - I enjoy those; we've stayed for them several times in the past. Turned out there were people from the Cincinnati Opera in the audience, among other things.

Saturday morning we had a dress rehearsal in Bel Air. I do not rehearse well at 10 a.m. And Sunday afternoon was the concert - it went off reasonably well, though not perfect. The audience liked it. Well, it's hard to go wrong with "Four Scottish Dances" with that drunken bassoon solo, and then the music from the 3rd "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.

Monday night, Bel Air starts rehearsing for Maryland Community Band Day, and Wednesday night down in Montgomery Village, we have our last Band Day committee meeting, before rehearsal; my part is pretty much finished, except for playing bari sax in three of the eight bands that will be performing! Between those three bands and my committee/volunteer t-shirt, I will have five clothing changes that day...

Oh yeah, we settled on the house, it's ours; the painters and electricians are doing their thing and should be finished by the end of next week, and the windows should be here by then, so we can probably move in right after band day. We haven't started packing yet.
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: (squirrel_sweater)
Okay, the last post that wasn't a meme or something was while we were in MA for my cousin's wedding. So here's some pictures:
the George Washington Bridge )

My cousin gets married )

Knitting )

Oktoberfest )

back in September )

That catches us up, I think, on everything except books. I've gotta catch up on those yet.


Sep. 1st, 2007 06:14 pm
bunrab: (polkadotray)
So, Cindy got here yesterday evening, with her cats, and they are settled into our basement. She's got 4 job interviews already set up for the next couple of weeks, so I'm confident that she'll find a job and her own apartment quickly. Which is good, because there's already stuff turning up not-where-I-left-it, which would be likely to drive me to outright anger after too long. (As in, dish soap. Have to hunt all over kitchen counter for dish soap - not returned to the spot it was initially picked up at. Coffee mugs getting hung up backward. Cans of stuff on the bottle shelf of the fridge and vice versa. Little things that add up to stress.)

Other than that, things are quiet. Rode over to CCBC Essex this morning to help the Balto. Symphonic Band librarian put music in folders for Tuesday's 1st rehearsal of the season. I'll always volunteer for stuff that I can do sitting down in air conditioned comfort; by volunteering for it *rapidly* and before even being asked, I get all kinds of good karma that helps make up for the fact that I'm a fairly mediocre musician. On the ride over there, saw a serious accident on the other side of the highway - rental truck, the 24-foot moving van kind, turned over completely on its side, the driver's side, on the roadway (not on a shoulder or the landscaping past the shoulder). There were ambulances there, but they weren't in any hurry; I suspect that's one of the Labor Day weekend statistics. First of the month, beginning of the school year - lots of people who aren't that experienced in driving are renting large vehicles and taking them out on the highways. Of course, my Biker Skum friends up in Boston are undoubtedly seeing even more of that than I am; I remember what September 1 was like in Boston, with the entire damn city playing Musical U-Hauls. Well, anyway, it was lovely riding weather. And the bike got 65 mpg this tank of gas - not the astonishing 75 mpg of one tank earlier this year - still don't know how that happened - but nonetheless lots better than the 50 mpg or so that one normally expects from this size engine.

I am working on another, more elaborate, P. motoro stingray. Which will be for me. Speaking of stingrays, if some of you are insane enough to actually WANT one, don't forget that I need your address; there's an email link over there on the right-hand side of my journal. (Hey, [livejournal.com profile] beckerbuns claims to actually LIKE hers!) Your stingray will be chosen at random, most probably polka-dot or blue-spotted ribbontail, since that's what I'm making mostly.
bunrab: (saxophone)
We're home. Lessee. The Austin Symphonic Band concert on Saturday night was great, the party was fun. All sorts of people who played with the band at one time or another were invited, so there were people there who hadn't played with the band in 20 years. One guy who had apparently played with the band for a few months in the 80's, who I didn't remember *at all*, apparently remembered [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet and I really, really well, because he cornered us for a while to talk to us about our pet rabbits! It was fun seeing all those people.

Jerry knows us really well. Sunday morning, it was iffy about us waking up in time to get to the airport in time to return the car and check a bag and go through security (remember, I have to get the fun hand pat-down), so Jerry had just the solution: put a recording of a band playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the stereo and crank the volume up. Yep, that got us out of bed! Jerry and Kathy, thank you SO much for your hospitality this past week!

More of the week than we expected was taken up by visiting w/ Steve's family and by band stuff, so there's still people we didn't get to see. It's funny how much of the week seemed to have something to do with tea. We gave Kathy a hostess gift of a sampler of decaf teas from Upton; Jeanne and Larry gave us a gift of samples of tea from a new tea shop that opened in Round Rock.

We made it back safely, and in time even to take a short nap before having to wash up and change for the concert we played in Sunday evening, in Perry Hall. The concert went pretty well, although there were several places where I missed cues because I was squinting, the lighting being aimed directly into my eyes and those of the two trumpets who sit nearest me. We did not have fun with those lights. The tenor sax did not show up for the concert. I have a few words for him...

One of the things Dick Floyd said at the ASB concert was something he had heard from someone else, to the effect that "Any band conductor who doesn't end a concert with a march doesn't love his mother." The ASB concert ended with "Washington Post." The Baltimore Symphonic Band concert ended with the band arrangement from "Les Miserables" that everyone plays, but as it happens, that arrangement does end with the rousing march, "Do You Hear The People Sing?" so that was OK. Monday night was Bel Air band rehearsal; that concert, next Sunday, will end with "Barnum & Bailey's Favorite." All the conductors we know love their mothers. Judging by what people say at rehearsal, I am not playing the bari sax LOUD ENOUGH on the contra-alto clarinet part; I'll have to try to fix that at dress rehearsal, which is way too early Saturday morning. Being on stage instead of in band room, the whole seating arrangement will be different, so it may fix itself.

I have tons of mail to go through, of course. And I haven't read anything but magazines all this past week, and I have a stack of library books to go through sometime soon.

Sort of odd being back in our plain "Pebble Ash" colored car after a week with the Tomato Express.

The new issue of The Progressive has an interesting poem, called "Bird Seed," by Kathleen Aguero, which uses birds squabbling at a bird feeder as a metaphor for the current war, and uses quotations from Robert Fagle's recent translation of The Iliad. If you like poetry you might want to get this issue. Assuming, of course, that you are someone who would buy a magazine called The Progressive - one of many liberal mags I subscribe to.

OK, that's enough for one post. I'm sure I'll think of more later.
bunrab: (saxophone)
Quick notes: I haven't had time to read my flist for the past three days; if you've had momentous news and I've failed to comment on it, please forgive me; I'll try to catch up later, but we didn't bring our own computer and don't want to hog our friends', so I'm not reading everything.
We've seen Liz and Joe already, and we went to the rehearsal tonight of our former band. There is a tornado warning in effect, and a forecast of 3-inch hail. I didn't really MISS weather reports like that, you know.
Our rental car is an incredibly bright red; our friends Larry and Jeanne from the band have nicknamed it the Tomato Express.
Rob, you'll be glad to hear that practically everybody here is wearing flip-flops; we noticed that almost the instant we got off the airplane. (I will get around to offering my congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] landley and [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat later, I promise. Sorry we had to miss the wedding!)
Wednesday will be a visit with [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet's dad, among other things, as well as [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet's birthday. Happy birthday, you!
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: (krikey)
It's that season - something featuring loud brass instruments everywhere you turn. Saturday was Baltimore's TubaChristmas, in which [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet participated. There was a good turnout, 215 assorted large pieces of brass (or, in some cases, fiberglass - those marching Sousaphones, ya know.) And one of them was a Jewsaphone - a large white fiberglass sousaphone decorated with a huge Star of David over the bell, and lots of little blue stars of David all over it. There was also a parade of the Drunken Santas at the same time - the two events don't always coincide, but they did this time. Which included at least one Santa in a red yarmulke and prayer shawl. And a bunch of 8 or 9 TubaChristmas fans had come wearing reindeer antlers, and when the Drunken Santas happened across the Reindeer, some impromptu skits ensued. The Ravens Marching Band brass were there in their purple uniforms, with a few tricks up their sleeves. There was a helicon, three double-bell euphoniums, one forward-bell marching tuba, and a forward-bell recording tuba (which was sitting right in back of [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet). A good time was had by all - especially since there were also waitpersons from nearby restaurants circling through the crowds with little sample cups of desserts and of hot spiced apple cider, much appreciated as the temperature had decided to be in the high 40's after a week of 68-70. (Note: high 40's F = 8 or 9 degrees C.) Cindy took pictures, but didn't bring the USB cable for her camera, so pictures of this will not be available until she gets back to Austin, later this week.

And Sunday afternoon, the Montgomery Village Community Band played at the Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Rec Center in Silver Springs. The audience was small but enthusiastic. The program included my "Jingle Bells Hora" again - whee!! There was another novelty number as well - our conductor, playing the bass trombone, in a special arrangement of "Frosty the Snowman." We do good holiday stuff, if I say so myself. We get to do it all over again next weekend - 2:30 p.m. at the Lake Marion Community Center (there's a Map of East Montgomery Village here; check the map service of your choice for directions to MV via I-270, or state highways 108, and/or 124, and/or 355, all of which go through Montgomery Village.) I know that several of my flist are in the greater Washington, DC area - if you can make it to this concert, please do come! Montgomery Village is pretty easy to get to via the Beltway and 270. I would enjoy meeting you - and would love to have you hear my music!

Tomorrow, we're going down to DC for a bit of touristing. [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet doesn't think he'll do the DC TubaChristmas at the Kennedy Center, though that's tomorrow. Well, maybe next year!


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