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: (me)
My niece Hanna came to visit with me for a few days last week, and volunteered to help me go through stuff. We didn't get mountains done, but we did get a couple of very important molehills cleared. First, we cleared off the folding table in the sewing room, so that the guest bed could actually be opened. And then we listed the folding table on Freecycle and found a new home for it almost immediately. (This still leaves me with two folding tables left, BTW, which are folded and in closets rather than unfolded and collecting junk.) Then, we cleared off the dining table, so I can now have people over for tea or even a meal. A few people, anyway - it's still a tiny table, and the dining room is tinier than it should be because of the huge sideboard which I hadn't meant to have follow me here from the house. And then, we started in on a few of the boxes in the box room (the third bedroom, the one which is also home to Fern and the piggles). First, we cleared out a plastic rolling cart - and that's currently waiting for its Freecycle taker to pick it up. Then, I started in on a big box which turned out to be some of my files from the 70s and early 80s - tax returns, check registers, etc - and a whole bunch of cards - birthday and christmas, mainly, also from the 70s and early 80s. Most of that stuff went into the "shred" pile; a shoebox' worth of greeting cards still to be sorted through for personal messages is still in the room. Make a note of that shred pile.

Then, also from the storage unit, a two-drawer file cabinet, full of all of Steve's and my files from the 80s and 90s - every pay stub Steve had ever received from the City of Austin, all our tax returns, all our electric and gas and water bills from Austin, homeowners insurance documents from our houses in Austin...so again, most of that could go in the "shred" pile immediately. Altogether, we filled three bankers boxes of stuff to shred, and one box of stuff I want to scan before shredding, so that I have some small record of it.

And then we took the three boxes of papers over to Sir Speedy in Linthicum and had them run it through their big shredder in three minutes flat, instead of having it sit around the house waiting for me to run it through 3 sheets at a time in my tiny, very noisy, shredder, which would have taken several days of several hours apiece. It was worth every penny to have it disappear that fast, and every penny was still under $20. So it's not still sitting here, silently in the way, reminding me of unfinished stuff. And now I know where I can take the next load of similar stuff, instead of trying to force myself to shred a boxful myself and hating the waste of time. Definitely a victory. Oh, and the file cabinet went on Freecycle, had an immediate taker, and is now out of my way.

And we found three more boxes of paperback science fiction, out of which I kept about 30 books and about 200 went to Goodwill. Stuff that Steve liked that I didn't, incomplete series, nothing valuable or collectible or important. Just straight to Goodwill, along with the contents of an entire box which was full of unopened kits for cross-stitch christmas ornaments. Some of those were expensive kits in their day. But if I haven't gotten to even opening them in 25 or 28 years, I'm not going to - and it's not like I don't see three more similar boxes we didn't get to.

And then Hanna and I met up with Cindy to go to an art gallery opening and a fancy dinner, and on Sunday Hanna came with me to a concert the Montgomery Village band was playing at a retirement community, and then I put her back on a train to Pennsylvania. The whole process of commuter rail and Amtrak is so easy up here, and since Hanna qualifies for disability discounts, it's cheap, too, so I believe we will repeat this a few more times! Meanwhile, she starts back up in her freshman year at Temple next week, so she just has this week to get through at home with her noisy siblings. It is one of the features of being from a large family, that college dorms are downright peaceful and uncrowded by comparison! Fewer people to share a bathroom with! She's enjoying that feature as much as I did my freshman year.

This week, so far, I've done nothing except crochet. I need to take the Christmas tree down, don't I?
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: (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: (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.

Knitting:


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: (bass)
go to http://www.montgomeryvillagecommunityband.org/video/holiday-concert--2008
scroll down to Jingle Bells Hora, and watch the video! I get to take a quick bow at the end.

ketchup

Dec. 19th, 2008 11:57 pm
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
So here's what I've been doing the last couple weeks: two weeks ago, caught a cold. Hasn't completely gone away yet. Tried taking pseudoephedrine to stop the snot, and got zapped by my ICD for my trouble. The day after that (last Friday) drove up to Philadelphia to see niece in high school play - she is a freshman, but got one of the front parts usually reserved only for seniors; the family habit of singing loudly in public at the drop of a hat has some uses. Came back Saturday afternoon; played holiday concert at CCBC-Essex with the BSB on Saturday night. Sunday afternoon, I played a holiday concert with the Montgomery Village Community Band, while [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet played one with the Bel Air Community Band, each 40 miles in opposite directions from C'ville. And at that, we missed two other performance opportunities we had for the same afternoon; since Thanksgiving was so late this year, the number of weekends available for holiday performances is scrunched down, so a lot of things were happening at the same time.

Monday, I slept. Well, woke up for meals, but otherwise slept. Tuesday I also slept, though I woke up for taking Chippy-chin to the vet for a follow-up; he is almost all healed up from Darwin's attack. Wednesday, let's see, I believe I actually woke up for a few hours Wednesday, and worked on the many homemade holiday presents I have not yet finished. Thursday we went to the library, and I finished buying the last few little things I needed to buy for assorted nieces and nephews. Then Thursday evening, Cindythelibrarian took us to see a show, as part of her Christmas present to us. The show was "Every Christmas Story Ever Told" presented by the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and it was great. A three-man show doing them all - Charlie Brown, The Grinch, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and (due to copyright issues) Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat. If you're in the area, it's playing through Sunday. My favorite part was the first act closer, The Nutcracker ballet. If you're on my flist, chances are you are familiar with Anna Russell's version of The Ring Cycle; imagine the Nutcracker condensed that way and you about have it. Complete with actual ballet dancing, done very well and very funnily. (Funnier for women my age than for men, because women of my generation, if we were anywhere above poverty level and even some below, we took ballet lessons when we were six years old or so; it was just one of those things. Ten years older and you probably didn't; ten years younger and you probably didn't, but all of us who are fifty-mumble took those lessons, whether at a dance school, or cheap group public school stuff on Saturdays in the gym, we all learned the five positions, and plies, and so on. Bit of cultural literacy there.) The second act was a merger of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and "It's a Wonderful Life" and then ended by singing every Christmas song ever written in about three minutes. We really enjoyed it.

And Friday, today (or yesterday, depending on how you feel about nights and stuff), I went to the doctor and got some stuff that's supposed to stop the nose drip without causing hypertension or arrhythmia; we'll see how that works. Also stopped at Jo-Ann's and got some yarn for one last teddy bear xmas present, and at Trader Joe's for freeze-dried strawberries; the chinchillas get VERY peeved if we run short on strawberries, and one really doesn't wish to risk the wrath of a peeved chinchilla. And now I am back to working on those presents - gotta finish place mats for Steph, potholders for Jen, teddy bear for Luke...

I have not had time or energy, outside of concerts and colds, to do any xmas shopping for anybody not part of my immediate family. If some of you normally get a Solstice/Chanukah/xmas present from me, well, this year, expect a New Year's present, or an Epiphany present, or maybe even a Martin Luther King Jr. Day present... There are a couple small things going out in the mail tomorrow to Texas, and a couple more small things on Monday, that might get there before New Year's.

One of the things we haven't done, either, is get up to NYC, which I wanted to do. Since the Museum of Natural History keeps their tree up through the end of the month, I am thinking we might go the week after Christmas; even though it'll be a little more crowded 'cause kids have off from school, a weekday should still be tolerable. Possibly Monday the 29th. (T, I'll call you about possible lunch!)

Now back to work.
bunrab: (Default)
Okay, some Amazon.com reviews - read 'em, click the little Yes button, you know the drill:
This Might Not Be Pretty (a Stone Soup comic strip collection) by Jan Eliot
Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred - already mentioned this one; it's on my "favorite books this year" list.

Briefly in tweets I quoted from A Short History of Rudeness by Mark Caldwell. It was written about 10 years ago, so the chapter on the internet is overwrought and out of date. And the chapter on Martha Stewart is just plain weird, has nothing to do with the rest of the book. But nonetheless there's some interesting reading in some of the chapters, particularly about how the rise in mobility (more and more individual transportation) contributed to the world being ruder.

From Doon With Death by Ruth Rendell - a re-release of the first Inspector Wexford novel. From 1964. I've never gotten around to reading any Rendell before. Eh. I could see the plot twist coming a mile away. And I find the whole thing too British for me. In order to read the story smoothly, one has to be familiar with the British school system, and with the whole "this neighborhood in London automatically conveys such-and-such a social and economic class" thing, which is not information I've ever cared to internalize. I know a lot of people don't mind it; it's a personal thing to prefer novels set in places where I know the milieu.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (yes, that's an 8.) Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. Very, very funny book. Especially the chapter on why Chinese food is "the chosen food of the Chosen People, or, The Great Kosher Duck Scandal of 1989." The history of General Tso's Chicken, the greatest Chinese restaurant in the world, and a comparison of the McDonalds model as Windows and the Chinese restaurant model as Linux. I bet almost everyone on my flist would find something to enjoy in this one.

Michael Chabon's The Final Solution - a short book that, although it never mentions the name, is clearly meant to be a sort of alternate-history "Sherlock Holmes lives to a ripe old age in rural England." A quick read, nice enough, and the parrot is a nice character.

Welcome to Tranquility by Gail Simone and Neil Googe - another graphic novel, this one a very loving send-up of old-fashioned comic books, the kind from the 1940's through 1960's, with a touch of how counterculture and Goths and Postmodernism took over from those. The plot is set in the town of Tranquility, where all the retired maxi-heroes (someone must have a copyright on "super-heroes") live. And the young African-American female sheriff who gets to try to keep the whole town calm. Probably MORE fun reading for someone my age, who read all those '60's comics books at the time, than for younger people who don't have that whole context.

Oh, and of course The Eight by Katherine Neville, already mentioned that it was in progress. Finished it. A bit silly and complicated in many spots - requires a willing suspension of disbelief for the fantasy element that sneaks in, as with any magical/religious object that exerts mysterious powers over people, even though otherwise set in the "real world." And quite a bit of the whole Freemasons/Rosicrucians/gigantic historical conspiracy wingnut stuff as part of it. Good fun, though, and I liked many of the side digressions, such as the tale the 18th-century chess player tells of meeting J.S. Bach. On the whole, a bit non-sequitur-ish, as the mystical power of the chess set at the end has nothing to do with how it was introduced at the beginning, but nonetheless a good adventure thriller, sort of "what if Indiana Jones were a woman working for a big-8 accounting firm in the 1970's?" with a whole bunch of French Revolution and other international travel thrown in.

Okay. Gotta go change clothes for yet another band Christmas concert tonight. Whee. "Sleigh Ride" till our lips fall off.
bunrab: (Default)
Last week we played three concerts - Sunday the 19th, Thursday the 23rd, Sunday the 26th. This week we both have colds.

Recent reading:
Lost on Planet China - J. Maarten Troost. Shallow, superficial, but funny. Troost's main insight into China: geez, the air is polluted! As in, makes Los Angeles or even Mexico City look crystal clear pure. And the water is filthy. And little kids squat and go to the bathroom in the street as a matter of routine, big city or countryside. And did he mention, the air is so bad you SHOULD be wearing those masks for the air, not the bird flu or SARS? What really struck me about this book is the ease with which Troost travelled through China, hopping on trains, buses, local airlines, with no problems, no police or political minders, no-one trying to steer him away from stuff the ruling party would rather not have foreigners see.
Geekspeak: How Life + Mathematics = Happiness by Dr. Graham Tattersall. Not what the title sounds like - this is actually about how to estimate ridiculous things such as how much your house weighs, whether you love someone more or less than average, and other things that most people hadn't thought to quantify. Of possible interest to Biker Skum, who frequently seem to be trying to measure things that other people don't usually think of.
Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan. The cover illustration is of a map of Manhatten island with an image of a rat, in blocks and streets and parks, overlaid. Usually this kind of eccentric focus on one animal belongs to either eccentric Brits - remember Trilobites!? - or women obsessed with primates. This, however, is an American guy who might almost seem normal until he invites you to spend an evening watching rats in an alley with him. The book is very funny, and has digressions to a pest control convention, and the history of the Black Plague, and other rat-related items. The scary part is how much we humans actually encourage rats without even realizing it; without our help, rats would be as scarce in the city as bunny rabbits.

Very little fascinating in fiction, just the usual next books in series, fantasy that turned out to be not worth finishing, re-reads, etc. One new entry: Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, best known for their space opera set in the Liaden universe, have written an entirely unrelated fantasy, which is obviously the first in a series. Starts out Regency-romance-ish with a vague hint of being another planet where humans have colonized and then regressed to Regency/Victorian era, but then rapidly goes to full fantasy with elves both nice and very nasty. A few unusual types of characters, mainly the Wood Wise - I like them.

Now back to snuffling and coughing and crocheting place mats and dish cloths.
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: (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: (alien reading)
All those concerts went off just fine. It was fun doing the show at CCBC Essex - and, at intermission Saturday night I bought a few raffle tickets before heading back to the stage; I wound up winning two wreaths! I picked them up from the box office today. Artificial wreaths, nicely decorated. Now all I have to do is find the wreath hanger I *know* I bought last week, so I can put one up at the front door. I will take pictures once I get it hung.

Sunday's concerts also went well. Cindy came with me to Montgomery Village; [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet went up to Bel Air. Both concerts had more people in the audience than in the band - always a good thing! S had a solo in one of the pieces in his concert. The MV concert collected over 7 large bins of toys for the Marines' "Toys for Tots" - good thing they sent three Marines to pick them up!

I got all my cards printed up for the PetBunny list rabbit-themed card exchange, and half of them actually mailed out. Possibly I'll get the rest mailed out before the end of this week!

Recent reading:
Faye Kellerman, Burnt House - latest in her Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series. Starts off with a *very* scary plane crash.
G.J.Sawyer and Viktor Deak, et al., The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans - well, it's stretching it a bit to call all of these human. It's the pictures of the reconstructions from skeletons that are the draw of this book. I'll admit, a whole bunch of the australopithecines look the same to me. The text has some flaws - a rather gory focus on prehumans being killed by animals and/or cannibalized by their own kind; the annoying use of the term "apemen," references in a couple of places to Oreopithecus as though that were one of the species in the book, when it isn't. Includes Homo floriensis even though as far as I know the jury is still out on whether that really is a separate species.
Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas. Nothing to do with the alleged "war on christmas," this is about the history of celebrating christmas and how it reflects economic class struggles. I think I'm going to do a detailed review over on Amazon - I'll post a link when I get that done.
bunrab: (saxophone)
So Tuesday night we played a concert at the Charlestown retirement community here in Catonsville. Audience loves it. By the front entrance of the building we played in are large plant pots, chock full o' ornamental cabbages. So of course, [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet and I starting substituting "ornamental cabbage" in all sorts of Christmas carol lyrics. "Walkin' in an ornamental cabbage" almost even scans correctly, whereas "Hark the ornamental cabbage sings" doesn't, not really.

Wednesday was rent-a-car day since I had to be at rehearsal in Montgomery Village and S had to be at rehearsal in Essex at the same time, each of us with our large conical brass instruments. And it was snowing. So I got to drive my rented Ford Escort (I hate automatic transmissions!) through the snow to MV. About 60% of the band made it to the rehearsal, which happens to be the dress rehearsal for Sunday's concert. The surprising thing? It wasn't a difficult drive. I decided discretion was the better part of valor, and instead of taking the short route I usually take, consisting of 2-lane roads through rural areas, took a much longer route which kept me on interstate highways for all but the last 2 miles: Interstate 70 all the way west to Frederick, then I-270 south to the Mont. Village Ave exit. Yes, it was 20 miles longer, but worth it. The highways were surprisingly orderly - everyone trucking along at about 40-45 mph, no idiots, very few trucks, no accidents that I saw on the 64-mile trip there. Came back via taking 270 the rest of the way south to the DC Beltway which is I-495, took that east, then came north on I-95 to I-695, which is the highway we live 2 blocks off of. That route is about 54 miles. It was also orderly, slowish but steady, and free of accidents. So in about 118 miles I circumnavigated Central Maryland in the snow, in the dark, in a strange car. Was happy to return said car to rental place this morning. The windshield wipers on it sucked mightily - bear grease might have worked better.

This afternoon, we had a matinee performance of the "Sleigh Ride Spectacular" program that the entire performing arts department at CCBC-Essex* is putting on, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Essex Community College. Dancers, singers, band. I played; S was an usher for this particular performance, as the stage is so crowded that only half the band can actually play at a time, so sections are rotating their players. From where I was sitting, I could not see a thing, including the conductor. So I came in on the second note of every piece. I could not even tell WHO was conducting - I don't mean I just didn't have a good view of the conductor, I mean I COULD NOT SEE ANY PART NOR PIECE OF THE CONDUCTOR. At the end of one piece, some people shifted for a second, and that's the first I knew that we were being conducted on that piece by the woman who directs the chorus, rather than by our own conductor! Since the tuba, the euphonium, and I were in a back row which wound up sorta in the wings, completely out of sight of the audience, we felt free to gossip and read during the moments when we weren't playing - felt sorta like we were in Berlioz' book Evenings with the Orchestra. For a while, said tuba and euphonium were busy text-messaging people on their cell phones. Ah, the 21st century.

On the way into the college, two of the three lanes in our direction, and one in the other direction, were blocked by the overturned Land Rover (completely on its side) and the three police cars and two tow trucks that were trying to figure out how to get it off the road. And the road was clear - wasn't even a case of ice or snow causing it!

Anyway. We play there at CCBC-Essex again Friday and Saturday nights (both of us play) and then we miss the Sunday performance of that concert, because I will be playing in the Montgomery Village concert, and S will be playing in the Bel Air Community Band concert, both of which are at the same time, same day. Whee!

With all this performing and travelling and whatnot, we haven't listened to many CDs. Here's one of the few:
A Very Scary Solstice by the HPLovecraft Historical Society - xmas carols rewritten for Solstice, further rewritten to reflect the horrors of Cthulhu. Nicely sung, and clever, but if you're not into Cthulhu, you might not appreciate the album. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth."

*CCBC-Essex, formerly Essex Community College, is the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex Campus. CCBC is not to be confused with BCCC, Baltimore City Community College, formerly Baltimore Junior College.
bunrab: (Default)
The concert went well - another giant retirement community, this one not far from our house. The conductor of the Baltimore Symphonic Band tells the same awful jokes to the audience at every concert; we're already tired of them.

More CDs:
Grimethorpe Colliery Band: A White Christmas. It's bright, it's loud, it's brass. Says Christmas to me! Actually, quite a few of our albums will fall into this category. This one has a few traditional carols, a bunch of more modern ones - I rather like "Walking in the Air."

Maddy Prior with the Carnival Band: A Tapestry of Carols. Maddy is/was the soprano lead singer of the folk-rock group Steeleye Span. Instantly recognizable voice. This one's mostly traditional carols. The British version of what is in America "Angels We Have Heard on High" uses a different translation, hence the title "Angels from the Realms of Glory" which is also taken rather faster than "Heard on High." "Personent Hodie" remains one of my favorites.

A Canadian Brass Christmas. Um, it's loud, it's bright, it's brass. Canadian Brass do have some unique arrangements and harmonizations of the traditional carols, and they include the Canadian carol "The Huron Carol."

Mannheim Steamroller: A Fresh Aire Christmas. Some different choices from the other Mannheim Steamroller album we've already listened to. But all recognizably Chip Davis arrangements. Mostly traditional stuff, one original composition by Davis called "Traditions of Christmas." As before, almost elevator music but always pleasant to catch a few minutes of.
Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas. From the cartoon TV special of the same name. Instantly recognizable to most Americans - wouldn't be Christmas to most baby boomers if we didn't hear this one. A lot of original music for jazz trio featuring piano, interspersed with jazzy arrangements of traditional carols.

Wynton Marsalis: Crescent City Christmas Card. Lessee, what was that line about loud, bright, brass, again? Mostly traditional carols, mostly in Marsalis' own arrangements.

A Nonesuch Christmas from the Baroque, Renaissance, and Middle Ages. Krumhorns! Suite #2 from Banchetto Musicale by Schein. Gabrielli. Speer - some brass fanfares (quel surprise!). Lots of a capella by large chorus. Bach. Mostly, this is not familiar Christmas stuff; a nice change of pace.

That almost catches us up to this evening!
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
Hokay. New modem installed. Old modem then shipped back to Verizon. Parcels shipped overseas. Last few holiday presents ordered on line. Almost caught up with everything.

So here's some more of our Christmas CD listening:
Golden Bough: Winter's Dance. Another one of my favorites; several secular songs including "Logs to Burn" which is a nice a capella number of advice on what kinds of wood to use for a fire. Several less-familiar Christmas songs, including some that are clearly pagan in origin, and some that involve a lot more drinking than we usually associate with Christmas. Somewhat Celtic flavored.
Sellers Engineering Band and Huddersfield Choral Society: A Christmas Celebration. An British brass band - definitely sounds like Christmas. Loud, bright, fun. Several carols that are less familiar to an American audience. Kwmbayah (Kumbayah is how we usually see it spelled; the w would be the Welsh spelling, one presumes), which I don't normally think of as a Christmas song.
Annie Haslam: It Snows in Heaven Too. Annie Haslam is the soprano lead singer from the group Renaissance. Lovely voice. Fairly standard collection of carols, some with a bit of unusual harmony, though.

Whoops, there's more, but we've got to run off to perform this evening's Christmas concert.
bunrab: (Default)
So [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet got the modem to boot up again and we have, at least for a little while, an outside collection. Who knows how long it will last? While it's here, though, let me try and do some ketchup. (Some of these paragraphs will get headings and cut tags and then have actual content filled in later.)

Recent holiday music listening )
Recent Reading )
Music performances )

Coming soon: more rodent fiction!
bunrab: (saxophone)
Monday: the aforementioned bike ride to Bel Air for the Bel Air Community Band awards banquet.
Tuesday: Baltimore Symphonic Band played at Riderwood Retirement Village, in Silver Spring, to a full house. Playing at another Ericsson community next Tuesday.
Wednesday: Montgomery Village Community Band steering committee meeting before rehearsal. Got all the details finalized for May 20, June 3, and July 4 concerts. It's nice having a sponsoring foundation that accepts as right and natural that the band needs a 20 x 40 shade tent and a few cases of cold water at outdoor concerts; you'd be amazed at the number of non-musicians who wouldn't consider that a necessary expense.
Thursday: Drove over to Delaware, where my brother JJ and his wife and daughters were visiting (they live in CA) my folks, who live near Dover. Ate lunch with JJ & Co, went over to folks' house and schmoozed; ate supper with folks. Attempted to leave Dover about 9 PM, found out after the first 65 or so miles of the trip about the accident on the Bay Bridge, had to retrace our route back about 40 miles and take a 50 mile detour from there, thereby doubling the length of the journey. Neither scenic nor fun. Delaware doesn't have a whole lot to recommend it if one is not enamoured of slot machines.
Friday: our 22nd anniversary. We went to the Kennedy Center to see Peter Schikele with the NSO. He's older than he used to be, but still funny! He does crosswords with a pencil. (Go ahead, ask me how one would discover that during a symphony orchestra concert.) The chorus wore robes - bathrobes. It was an excellent event, and we got our money's worth!

Now: exhausted.
Tomorrow: sleep late. Send [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet out to pick up mail before PO closes, because I doubt I'll be out of bed in time to do it.
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.

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