Catching Up

Oops, I see its been over a month since I last posted. I blame the journal app I got for the iWhatsit (Day One). So to recap:
 Mid-September: Cleaned the dining room and the front entry. I can now use the dining room, and the doorway between the front entry and dining room is actually passable. IIRC I posted on the Otter Blog about it.
 Late September – Early October: The HVAC system at work went berzerk. It was up over 90 degrees F for a couple days. It still isn’t exactly fixed, but it is back to the same chronic state of not-quite-broken we’ve been living with for something like 10 years now. Low bid system, etc. etc.
 Various personal things were personal things. There’s been angst and ups and downs and Ron’s gotten really sick of not getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night. I suppose we should just admit than the term I’m avoiding is “insomnia”.
 Otter Necessities stuff has been happening. See the Otter Blog for that.
 Also for making chocolate babka. Or rather, marzipan-chocolate babka. Yum yum yum.
 Pippin is Pippin. Elrond is old, weak in the back end, has questionable vision, and is more or less senile. Back-end weakness means we’ll be replacing throw rugs at some date in the future, but for the moment he seems comfortable and reasonably happy, so we’ll put off the replacing of the throw rugs, thankyouverymuch.
 Been calling arborists today to see about getting the Tree of Damocles removed. The one right by the power and phone lines to the house. Fortunately, the neighbors are OK with having the work done from their side of the fence (which is only inches from the tree, at best). Yes, finally. I didn’t realize how long it had actually been since the Tree of Damocles incident.
 Guitar and banjo lessons are going well. I’m up to playing 5 of my 6 strings, and I expect to be formally introduced to string #6 in tomorrow night’s lesson. Working on learning “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”. Got the triplets (faster) down, now working on the slower bits (which involve things very like chords, except they only involve two strings at a time, not 3+, and which initially broke my brain when I tried to wrap it around actually playing two notes at a time – in theory was fine, execution not so much).
 Robin seems to be one of the more dependable employees at “his” Little Caesar’s, including understanding the operation, disassembly, and reassembly of dough-mangling machines. AFAIK he hasn’t learned to run the register/customer service yet, because he’s been too busy trying to keep up with making dough, pizzas, and doing dishes. See above, re: dependable.
 We’ve discovered that there’s a pretty good Indian restaurant 2 or 3 doors down from Little Caesar’s. Unassuming/unimpressive little hole-in-the-wall with the simple name “Indian Bistro”, but clean, the food is good, abundant, and more or less cheap. Ron and I like the Aloo 65, which I’ve taken to calling “danger potatoes”, which are bright screaming red, spicy, and served with raw onions. The (vegetable) samosas are big. Like half a pasty in size.
 Last week I was watching something Bollywood while waiting for our food. Not sure what was happening because I don’t speak Hindi (I assume it was Hindi), but I was able to identify the smart (-aleck) kid, the heroine in the form of his beautiful older sister or mom, bumbling pickpockets who were outwitted by the kid, auntie/grandma and her comic-relief spouse (gargling floor cleaner instead of mouthwatch, thanks to kid), handsome hero (possibly kid’s dad?), and the Other Woman who the hero was romancing at that point. And then there were the musical numbers. I have no clue what they were about, I really don’t know the tropes. But they rival, no, exceed, any of the big Hollywood musical production numbers.
 I think . . . I think I need to watch some more Bollywood stuff, with subtitles. I expect American pop culture is equally inexplicable if you don’t know the language.
 Saturday night we went to see “Young Frankenstein”, the musical, at Cutting Hall. It was pretty good. It wasn’t a complete re-do of the movie, but it was clearly a direct descendant. Ron, Xap, and I all want to know how in the world they were stuffing all those sets back in the wings. We’ve been back there, we know how much room there . . . isn’t. And nobody was bitten by bats.
 Saturday and Sunday we worked on garb, a vest for Xap that didn’t go quite as planned, and had the side seams and front buttons replaced with lacing. But it came out pretty well, I think. Xap did the majority of the work, I advised, did a little pressing, and some top-stitching.
 Cut a Folkwear-pattern vest out of muslin, and tried it on Ron and Robin. It fit Robin with relatively minor changes needed. Not so much Ron. Teslacon is coming soon, so I didn’t want to wait to mail-order a pattern that went larger for Ron, but Reconstructing History had one I could download, print, and tape together. Which we did. And despite adding 4″ in length, it still was too short, too tight in the arms, and needed other changes. Printed out another copy to go up one size, decided what additional changes to make, and Ron and I have been puzzling over the collar. Today, after fussing about with muslin pieces and puzzling some more over the directions, I determined that the pattern and directions for the collar are . . . pretty much useless.
 I did find one blog/review about the pattern, and the author also had collar capital-I Issues. I’m going to have to come up with the collar on my own. I think I can do it, but it annoys me.
 3rd annual staff meeting for work on Thursday. Meeting stuff in the morning, in the afternoon we’ll be seeing the a project to burn off coal tar underground/under water (I think) in the City of Ottawa, IL.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Semi-Random Natter

I know we’ve been doing things since I last posted, on Wednesday, but my brain seems to have turned to mush.
 Wednesday evening we had our guitar and banjo lessons. The Music Room is having a recital for adult students in October, and my instructor asked if I’d like to try to have something ready. I’m brave/foolish, so it looks like I’ll be working on “Scarborough Fair”. In preparation, I’ve been working on learning my first two chords. The excitement, it is incredible.
 Friday I meant to go to work, but was tired and whiny and had a bad case on don’t wannas. So Ron came home about mid-morning. I was feeling better in the afternoon, and my noon conference call ended in time to make the first matinee of “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Robin had to work at 5:00, so it was that show or go without him). In the evening Ron took me out to dinner.
 And then Ron didn’t sleep much at all (an hour or so?), for reasons.
 Saturday morning we went to Woodstock to pick up two tabletop printing presses and other letterpress things. I drove.
 Ron was pretty much a zombie, so not a lot else got done on Saturday.
 We did go see a Gershwin musical, “Crazy for You” at Cutting Hall. In 20/20 hindsight it would have been a better one to start with – real sets, good costumes, not much of a plot, but happy and fluffy, and a very full house. OTOH, I’m not a dancer, so not sure if I could have gotten a part – lota and lots of dancing.
 And yesterday’s matinee featured an un scheduled appearance by a bat, who reportedly bit an audience member. Bats don’t scare me, but I can’t say I’m sorry we missed that.
 Yesterday I made sweet refrigerator pickles – AB’s summer fruits (plums, pears, and lemon), with added starfruit, key limes, and peaches. I went a little overboard, as pickles are won’t to do, and ended up with five quarts.
 I also have most of a quart of thinly sliced red onion soaking in the citrus sweet pickle juice from last summer’s pickling attack, and a quart and a pint of key limes on their way to becoming pickled (brined) limes, ala “Little Women”.
 After re-reading “A Little Preserving Book for a Little Girl”, a book from Project Gutenberg that’s a combination storybook, instructions, and recipes, I may try some jam or something next weekend. A SMALL batch. I also got two modern books (ebooks) of small batch preserving recipes by the Food in Jars blogger.
 Just exactly what I play with next weekend may be left to Robin to see what looks good at the Farmer’s Market.
 I have a board and brackets for another shelf in our room, where I’m going to move my dolls. Once somebody does three edges of the board with the router, which he didn’t do yesterday, for no adequately-explained reason. Hopefully that has been rectified, and Ron can get the shelf up this evening.
 – Posted using software from hardware

MuseCon Report

Looks like my last post was the “Titanic” report. After TtM finished we had one free-ish weekend, then last weekend was MuseCon.
 I’d planned to take the Thursday before MuseCon off, requested it, and even had enough leave time to do so. Then I forgot I had, and had enough work piled up from all the time off I took in July that I worked Thursday. Which meant I had to go back and do corrected paperwork yesterday, but there are worse mistakes to make than working when not expected to.
 The dogs were out late enough in the afternoon Thursday that I went to the hotel after work and had dinner with Ron, Xap, and Robin, and hung out for a bit before doing errands on the way home, finishing up athe last bits of signage and handouts, and sent them off for printing.
 Friday morning I packed up the last odds and ends (almost everything went in the trailer, in one of the Otter Necessities Things), picked up Marmaduke, dropped the dogs off, another errand, and then to the hotel.
 Put up signage, hand-wound yarn into balls (silly person didn’t think to bring it in from the car and use her ball-winder), and kept an eye on the Open Build (including blinkies) room setup. Eventually I got my stuff for my Japanese-style doll clothing and Turkish braid knitting open builds and settled in to be room coordinator.
 It was a MuseCon. Didn’t have some issues we dealt with last year, a repeat or two, and a couple others came up, nothing horrible.
 Our panel talking about Japanese-style clothing for Cosplay went well. I’ve been asked about repeating it Maneki Neko Con, which I can do, as long as I get a dummy or two to dress up, since Ron and Xap will be busy with our vendor booth. Making doll clothes was not such a success, only had one person, although a second person was interested but our mutual timing was incompatible.
 Only had 4-6 people for my Turkish braid knitting hands-on demo, but that was ok. If I’d been willing to dig in the stash it would have cost me nothing (I was lazy and picked up yarn and needles). I forgot to make up a little handout, but the process is simple enough that once you’ve done it once any directions you find on-line should be enough of a reminder.
 Dramatic Readings of Poetry was a definite success. With Marmaduke’s help, we got the audience involved. Pieces I did included “If I Were a Rich Man” in a southern drawl (worked really well), a song about the Titanic (not from the musical) in a happy cheerful perky voice, and the “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” in a sad and tragic manner.
 I think the letterpress overview/intro went well.
 Worked on lots of doll clothing, finished a couple things, and now I’m working on the samples I had gotten to various stages of completion.
 Packing up Sunday went pretty well. We left the trailer at the hotel and sent Robin and Marmaduke home with the truck (really need to teach Robin to drive stick shift, so he can also use the car); and Ron and I spent the night.
 After dinner Sunday (at the hotel restaurant, as Happy Elephant is closed Sundays, alas), we went up to the Necro-Muse post-con music party, and performed really-solo in public for the first time.
 Ron started out with “Puff the Magic Dragon”, with some flailing. I tried accompanying myself on ukulele (chords) for the “Mingulay Boat Song”, but ended up doing it a capella. Next round I tried “3 Jolly Coachmen”, with just hitting the chords on the changes and an intermediate word or two, and that went much better. Probably the best thing I did. Did three verses of “Ronald, Where’s Your Trousers?”, dropping the uke out again. It would have been better if Ron had been wearing a kilt, of course. The last thing I did was “Rivers of Texas”, where I flailed on when to play the chords.
 Overall, it wasn’t too bad. It would help I’d actually, y’know, practiced more. I think “3 Jolly Coachmen” was the best in part because it is first line twice, second line three times, then the last line, and the verses and chorus all have the same rhythm/chords.
 Sunday afternoon I’d looked to see how bad the guitar chords would be for some of the songs I plat on ukulele, and discovered that while the F chord on uke is an easy 2-finger one, on guitar it’s an ugly barre-chord 4-finger thing. And lots of the songs I know for uke use it. And also I couldn’t pick up the other chords fast enough to play anything on guitar that evening.
 Which reminds me, a week ago Ron and I started lessons at The Music Room, our local music store. I was waffling, and then decided that the opening with a guitar instructor at the same day/time as Ron’s banjo lesson was a sign. I’m doing classical-ish guitar, because I’m hoping learning single notes first will help with the flexibility of my weird left ring finger. -Ish, because classical guitar is properly done on a nylon-strung guitar, and mine is steel, and I’m not limiting myself to strictly classical music. My instructor is good with those caveats, and suggested fingerpicks (which classical purists don’t use) before I brought the question up (steel strings are harder on fingernails).
 Not sure if I’ll make it to my lesson tonight, as I’m writing this from the juror’s waiting room at the Daley Center, in the loop. The summons says plan to be here until at least 4:30, and my lesson is at 5:30. OTOH, the other times I’ve been summoned I haven’t been here past midday. So I’m waiting until lunchtime to decide on re-scheduling (when I checked the calendar this morning my instructor had an open slot tomorrow evening).
 Monday morning I picked up the dogs while Ron dropped off the refrigerator con suite used, and the blinkie supplies and Mr. Slushie. Partially unloaded our belongings, and brought a few more in last night.
 Robin went to a session at MusCon on Friday (IIRC) on drawing Celtic knotwork, and enjoyed it. So he spent much of the weekend drawing knots, and other general sketching. As the head of and one half of the staff of Logistics he worked his butt off, so Monday evening I took him to Dick Blick, and got him a couple drawing pads and some colored pencils (he already has some other pencils and supplies). I also said I’d dig out the book I learned to draw knotwork from, so he can see the method I use.
 Running around Monday evening also included getting Robin black shoes for his new job at Little Caesar’s (first shift is Friday, had orientation/paperwork-filling before MuseCon), and finding a replacement for the pseudo-milk care I keep,patterns in. It fell apart over Robin’s head, after over 20 years of use, so it lasted pretty well. I replaced it with three smaller metal mesh file thingies, which will be lighter, and let me sort things more.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Mostly Weekend Natter

Quick note on the previous post: it was actually written on Friday, although not posted until Saturday morning.
 Titanic Natter
 That clarified, Friday’s dance rehearsal went reasonably well. I’m one of a grou in a line (or two) behind the people actually dancing, doing some very simple steps. The choreographer has not, IMO really grokked the whole edge-of issues relating to the platform(s) we’ll be on, but they’ll get resolved some way/how.
 Ordered my shoes and Ron’s kilt Saturday morning, both were delivered yester, yay! We need to make a longer sporran hanger, butthat’s well within our capabilities. We also . . . bought a sporran. Yes, I know, but it has decent fur (although only rabbit), and a proper metal cantle, which I have not obtained any of or designed for yet. And it was on sale, <$30. So worth it on the time vs. Price curve.
 Spent Saturday morning and early afternoon working on the MuseCon program book. Then a MuseCon meeting at 2:00. After the meeting we hit Guitar Center to see if they had any thumb picks that would fit Ron better or allow more adjustment than the one he has. Nope, same brand as what he got from Sam Ash. A clawhammer (banjo technique) video did follow him home, though. On-line shopping is probably the next step in the thumb pick quest.
 Sunday I intended to spend the day on the MuseCom book. The dogs changed those plans.
 Canine Chaos
 While I was in the shower Sunday morning there was a noise you don’t want to hear if you own huskies: the scream/squeal. Elrond had gotten mad at Pippin. Robin is adult/alpha enough they broke it up when he yelled and intervened.
 Pippin seemed fine, just pawing at the right side of his muzzle – I actually suspect bee sting rather than a result of anything Elrond did.
 Not sure what the cause of the altercation was. Robin had already picked up Elrond’s uneaten breakfast. He ate very little dinner Friday night, and his abdomen seemed tight to Ron, but not sore. His previous UTI symptoms have been not eating, soreness, and grumpy, so Ron and I took him to the vet.
 Urine test didn’t show anything, but if we caught a UTI early enough it wouldn’t. Briefly discussed X-rays to see what’s up with the possible tumor on his spleen seen last year, but since at 14 we wouldn’t put him through surgery anyway, we decided to try a course of antibiotics for the possible UTI.
 Got home, and Robin said Pippin had a very sore ear. Right ear was grungy, left ear was very messy, with blood, and definitely painful. I figured it was an ear infection (Eowyn got them most spring/early summers, so I know what they look like), so off Pippin and I went, back to the vet’s. Ron had a migraine, and Pip has no trouble getting in the car, so Ron stayed home.
 Not ear infection, just normal/grubby ears. And a hole in the left ear. Just about the size to be from one of Elrond’s canines (we’d mentioned the squabble when we had Elrond in), which was bleeding/draining. No stitches, just a cleaning (and since we were there, the annual blood draw for his epilepsy meds), home with antibiotics, drops, and anti-inflammatoryies/painkillers. And the observation that he can be a drama queen.
 Huskies, in my experience, are either incredibly stoic, or drama queens. And the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Actually, the husky scream/squeal mentioned above is only bad when coupled with other problem noises. Other times it’s just a sign of drama.
 Ear is much less painful now, I can look and Ron applied drops last night with only an annoyed reaction.
 Eventually I did get some work done on the program book.
 Learning Guitar
 Flailed away at my guitar on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. Working on playing single notes to start with, hopefully as I do more my left ring finger will gain some more flexibility and chords will be less intimidating/difficult.
 Picked up an ebook about classical guitar, which explained that The Rules of classical guitar are only nylon/gut strings and other XYZ instrument characteristics, only this way of sitting, holding, hand positions, blah blah blah fishcakes. Yeah yeah, whatever. And I’m going to do it on my improper steel-stringed guitar anyway. (Although I do understand some of The Rules have Reasons, some are purely arbitrary, if not downright snobby). As long as I like how it sounds, I don’t care if it gives the purists conniption fits.
 That said, the book in question assumes a little more ability to find particular notes than where I’m at yet, so still working from another very-beginner book. But at least as of last night I could produce not-un recognizable versions of “Jingle Bells” and the basic/simplified melody of “Ode to Joy” – of which I un-simplified a couple bits, because I grok sixteenth notes, thanks.
 My mandolele called out to me Saturday night after I decided I’d passed the point of useful practicing on my guitar. So I spent some time with it, playing stuff I already know for ukulele. All chords, which is another reason to not start guitar with chords, I don’t need to get the two sets of chords confused.
 Today (Tuesday)
 Taking a day off. I just finished dishes, now editing this entry, which was mostly written yesterday. Robin is cleaning up the living room, prepatory to the Cleaning Fairies’ visit later this morning. When he gets on a roll, he does a good job.
 And Robin’s working on emptying the big freezer so it can be defrosted. Yesterday he plugged in the smaller one in the basement, and transferred some things to it. Other things were taken out to eat this week. And he’s declared that we’ll be eating sides/vegetables from the freezer.
 Now to work on the MuseCon book.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Musical Natter, Titanic and Otherwise

Last Friday we went to see Gaelic Storm at Durty Nellie’s. It was much fun.

TtM rehearsals continue. Blocking (who goes where/when/how) started last week, so Ron, Robin, and Xap have been coming most nights. No rehearsal last night, as the only dance rehearsal is tonight. I’ve gotten off of dancing the very active “Latest Rag”, but am still going tonight, as my 1st Class character will be Mr. Ismay’s partner for the scene, strolling about, possibly doing some less strenuous dancing.

In a move that I may pay for later, abetted by Xap, Ron now has a small speaking-but-not-singing part, Major Somebody, who is light comic relief. He’ll be wearing a kilt and fez, and hopefully she can come up with a proper Prince Charlie jacket (because Ghu knows I have no time to make one). So we need to order Ron said kilt Real Soon Now. This is the tartan we chose, with the director’s input:

I also need to order shoes for myself – I have wellies and sneakers, nothing even vaguely appropriate, and I don’t expect the costume stash of the director and/or theatre group are going to have anything. In large part, because I have large wide feet for a woman, I just can’t find women’s shoes that fit me in stores (so I cheerfully buy 10 or 10-1/2 regular-width men’s shoes). Much searching on-line later, I finally thought to look at Zappos(.com) this week. These got the OK from the director, aren’t too high-heeled, and I can wear them with a couple of my dresses that call for nicer shoes:

Took our purple-and-gold and burgundy-and-gold kosode to rehearsal one night to see if the director could use them, since there’s one or more scenes where almost the entire cast needs to be in nightwear, and in that time period kimono were very big as bathrobes. Yes, she definitely can. I also dug out three more kosode I’d spaced on, as well as a kid-sized one, and sent her e-mail about those. Pity we’re not doing “The Mikado”, I could put a good dent in the costume needs for that…

As you may have noticed if you have me in G+ circles, on Sunday night a guitar followed me home, and a banjo followed Ron home. They’ve been declared Mother’s/Father’s Day presents, and since my birthday is usually right on top of Mother’s Day, we’re going to re-purpose Father’s Day to Parent’s Day. Works for me.

Making very little progress actually learning to play said guitar, see above re: TtM rehearsals. Although on Monday I discovered why I have trouble with some ukulele chords – when I curl/arch the fingers on my left hand, the tip of my left ring finger is inclined to end up under my middle finger – it definitely curls toward the thumb, not more straight-ish down like my right ring finger.

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The result is that I can’t reach a point as far away from the middle finger as I could if my finger didn’t do that. With the closer frets on a uke I’ve been able to deal with it, first attempts at some guitar chords are not encouraging. I’m not deterred, hopefully with practice I can get it to loosen up and reach out farther. And instead of starting with chords (quicker gratification in “playing a song” terms), I’m starting with individual notes on individual strings.

Meanwhile, Ron is figuring out how to do clawhammer, rolls, and other banjo things. Pippin is underwhelmed, but doesn’t seem to actually mind. I’m pretty sure he prefers it to everybody being gone at Titanic rehearsals.

Week before last, while attempting to repair a leaning wall on one of the front planter boxes, Robin discovered we had a nesting mallard in said box. We pretended to ignore her, and she mostly-ignored us, until the babies hatched and they all left a week ago. Meanwhile, because the attempted repair failed, Robin has been demolishing the planter boxes and hauling the dirt to the back yard. We need to freecycle away the stone blocks that were the fascia and otherwise get rid the concrete blocks and bricks that backed up the stone, once the last section of the wall (where Mama Duck was nesting) is demolished.

– Posted using software from hardware

Various Natter

Tuned my soprano ukulele and mandolele over the weekend – it has been a while since I’ve played, and they were rather flat. Still haven’t played much, but now at least they’re in tune (or will be better). And I need to re-callous my fingers to play the mandolele comfortably.
 Xap and the Xaplets were over Sunday while Robin worked on the Xapmobile’s brakes, and the Xaplets agree with Xap that TtM seems, as a whole, to be rather strong on high notes. Should get the music at rehearsal tonight, since I picked up the vocal selections book Friday night.
 Finally got my birthday present from Ron and Robin yesterday, a Lego Maersk container ship. Ron had intended to get it much closer to my birthday, but one thing and another happened. Not I have to come up with time to build it, which is going to take a while.
 Saturday afternoon we went to Menard’s and got new air conditioners for our bedroom – two smaller/lighter ones to replace the big one that we sent to the curb a couple weeks ago. Robin put them in the windows (one at each end of the room) in the evening, with some help from Ron.
 Did some Otter Necessities-ish stuff this weekend, also. More natter about that on the other blog.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Titanic, and other Musical Disasters

The first rehearsal for “Titanic: The Musical” (henceforth TtM) was Tuesday night, in the form of a read-through of the spoken parts of the script, preceded by a short presentation by a Titanic history geek. The read-through was pretty much a non-event, since it was just the speaking parts. Ron and Robin went with me, to volunteer as stage crew, an offer that was happily selected.
 Wednesday night was the first music rehearsal.
 Now, once upon a time, in Junior High choir class, I was classified as an alto. For a few years following I occasionally was drafted into the church choir, as an alto. So, fast-forwarding about, um, 30 years with no significant choir-ish experience, I said I was an alto, and the vocal director put me in with the altos (and she did hear me sing and tested my range at the audition).
 And it was, well, not exactly successful. I’m told that if you search YouTube you can find all the songs from TtM. We started out with warm-ups, then the director threw us in the deep end (yes, I *did* just go there) with the opening finale, “Godspeed Titanic”. Which had all the sections straining to hit the high notes. I struggled, I squeaked, I was flat, or sharp, and felt pretty much everywhere but on the right notes.
 Eventually, one of the other altos suggested I ask the director to move to the tenors for that song, with the comment that it is a really high alto part. No problem, and I was happier.
 At one point I’d said I thought I’d be better off singing the baritone part (essentially an octave down from the altos). I also IM’d a remark to Ron that they never mentioned the guys in the cast would be castrati. One of the other altos had said she felt sorry for the 1st (high) sopranos – only one of which had been able to hit the highest note. If you find “Godspeed Titanic” to listen to, note that it is the whole cast/chorus singing, all the way down to the basses, singing. Not just the tenors and up. Really.
 Adding extra fun, I forgot to bring water. Fortunately, Ron and Xap came over to try to catch the director, regarding Xap volunteering help as stage management or whatever (our director for TtM had slipped out, but the theatre company director seemed enthused), and brought me a bottle.
 Worked a little on another song, back with the altos, which wasn’t as high, and I did better.
 Ended up with a pretty scratchy throat Wednesday night/Thursday morning. After a bit of poking about on-line regarding voice ranges and thinking about what I sing along with, I decided to give it another try as an alto, and if it didn’t seem to work out, ask for a permanent re-assignment to the tenors.
 An upset stomach Thursday morning that sent me home from work early, but settled down by early afternoon, so I made it to rehearsal.
 Made an attempt at the alto part at the hymn part of “Hymn/Doing the Latest Rag”, and did even worse than on Wednesday night – I couldn’t even squeak on the higher notes (which weren’t as high as some I tried Tuesday), and was just as horribly squeaky on those I could hit. So my defection to the tenors became permanent.
 And that’s where I belong. I can sing all the notes (and with a little less effort on some of the higher notes than the guys). I can even do it with some volume. I got my confidence back! No funny looks, and one of the other tenors said I sound good. So I’m a tenor. I did see something on-line that for every decade a woman’s voice typically drops mumble amount. I suspect if I’d had training and/or kept singing with some kind of direction regularly I’d probably still be able to (comfortably) sing alto, but now I don’t.
 It is taking me a little bit to wrap my head around, but I think its just from thinking of myself as an alto for umpty years and now finding out I was wrong about that, rather than silly gender stereotyping issues.
 Pippin was being Disapproving Dog at me when I got home Thursday night. He Does Not Approve of any of his family, and probably especially me, not being home in the evenings, nor of staying up late to wait for me. (6:30-9:30 rehearsals, usually upstairs and at least getting ready for bed by 9:30).
 The directors (production and theatre company) were eyeballing Ron pretty hard, as they have unfilled non-droppable male parts, but he (and Robin) have remained adamant. The theatre company director (who went to MuseCon, as did one of the sopranos I met last night) was asking if Ron could do lighting design. Er, no. Run lighting, yes, but not come up with the design. I suspect Ron is also going to be involved in set design – they need a large chunk of set to tilt up so people can roll down it (into the water to drown, glub glub glub).
 Still don’t have music to take home and learn from, thought we would last night, copies/printing still not completed, have been promised for Monday. I found a copy of a book of vocal selections at a local music store, so went to pick that up last night. Reviews say it isn’t the absolute complete everything, but it should have the main chorus lyrics, in particular for the two songs we’re to have memorized by the 10th. And, having bought it will guarantee that we’ll get music to take home on Monday.
 Also, some other music books followed us home. And a soprano travel ukulele glommed onto Ron. As these things do.
 So, this weekend is likely to find me singing along with the soundtrack. Which would likely get me odd looks at work.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Downtime Week Natter

Wednesday was Part One of our anniversary (we had separate legal and ceremonial bits), so Ron took me out to dinner at Siri Thai. Pot stickers, cucumber salad, and the house fried chicken, which is strips of boneless/skinless white meat with a tempura-like batter. Very yummy.
 After dinner we went home and read. It was nice to be a vegetable for a change.
 Last night I took the MuseCon grid Excel spreadsheet and made it into a handout for the WisCon party tonight. As I mentioned about this time last year, the plan was that Someone(s) Else would be in charge of the MuseCon party at WisCon, as ACen and WisCon back-to-back exceed my capacity for socialization.
 It was a good plan, and it was proceeding along smoothly, until the person who’d volunteered to be in charge of the party had a work-related monkeywrench happen. A good one, fortunately, but it took that person out of the picture. Someone else stepped up, but there were still insufficient bodies volunteering.
 The result is/was that Ron and Xap headed up about lunchtime to get day badges and help with the party. Bleah. I’m trying not to be cranky about it, but not entirely succeeding, since that means Ron probably won’t be home until late morning or mid-day tomorrow.
 Yesterday I started attacking the pile of clean laundry that’s been accumulating for a week or so. I’d gotten it down to a manageable size this morning, we’ll see if Robin made it bigger over the course of the day. I know he was baking this morning for the party, so he may not have done laundry today.
 Getting fed up with the mess in the living room, which is better now that Max has moved out to the trailer, but is still suffering from the pre-ACen chaos. Had Robin make a start yesterday, I’ll probably attack it more this weekend, especially since the Cleaning Fairies come Tuesday morning.
 Still waiting to hear about the result of my “Titanic” audition. I used a contact form on the theatre group’s website this morning to ask what kind time frame I should expect, with the excuse that I forgot to ask at the audition. First rehearsal/read-through is Tuesday evening, so presumably they need to let people know Real Soon Now.
 The network fascists at work have locked down internet access fairly tight, which is in keeping with the internet use policies, but that seems to include almost completely disabling anything but IE. The stated reasoning for the lockdown is to prevent malware infections, so by that logic they should be killing off IE and encouraging use of Opera or Firefox, not the bass-ackwards way they’ve implemented. Which is about par for the course for CMS. Grumble.
 – Posted using software from hardware


Opened up the woodwinds and brass this morning and discovered that the (silver) trumpet mouthpiece had grown little feet. It was last seen in the case when it was checked in at Sam Ash. Unfortunately, we didn’t go through a similar check-out procedure when we left, the guy who checked us in just walked us out to the door carrying the information slips and the brass. Our bad for not checking, his bad for not following procedures.  Double-plus un-good for whoever stole it.

Shortly after the store opened this morning I called (because Ron was less likely to remain civil) and talked to the person we dealt with, and gave him my name and phone number in case the mouthpiece “turns up”. Not holding my breath. Dammit.

Wrote up descriptions of the instruments, Xap suggested some of the filkers at Chicon might be interested.

Un-Planned Day Off

The Cause of My Day Off – Car Issues

Yesterday morning I discovered that the battery in the Kia was dead, as a result of leaving the headlights on all night. D’oh!

Robin remembered that the battery charger unit we use to power the winch (for getting Otter Necessities’ road cases up and down the ramps to the porch) is also a jump-starter.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the hood unlatched.

Fortunately, Robin had time to bicycle to Harper before his first class.

Ron came home around mid-morning, and got the hood open. The cable/latch needs to be lubricated, and Robin and I hadn’t pulled the release lever hard enough (afraid of breaking it).

With the help of the larger charger/starter unit we could jump the car, confirming it was just the battery.  Then Ron switched to the little trickle charger, which can be tucked under the hood (along with the connection between its cord and the long extension cord), so we don’t have to worry about rain, etc.

So what to do with the rest of the day?

Musical Instrument Appraisal

I checked with a couple local independent music stores, neither bought used instruments. The local Sam Ash store, however, does. We took my two clarinets and Ron’s bugle and flugelhorn.

As the guy was checking things in, he made a comment that the plastic Yamaha clarinet looked to be worth more than the wooden Noblet (possibly a Selmer Noblet). I remarked that that was odd, I always though that the wooden one had a much nicer tone.

Went off and got lunch while the guy did research, talked to his manager, etc.

Not interested in the clarinets. The first reason given was that the manager didn’t want them because both had non-original mouthpieces. Headdesk, headdesk, headdesk. I made a comment that I knew I’d bought a good mouthpiece for the Noblet, and then he said  that they already had eight (presumably used) clarinets on hand. Ok, *that’s* a reason that makes sense.

We decided to pass on the offer on Ron’s brass. They’re only student models, but the offer still seemed awfully low. Since we didn’t really need to sell for money reasons, everything’s back on the shelves in the spare bedroom.

I did a little bit of poking around on-line, and found a clarinet website with estimates from 2011 for various better clarinets, including Noblets, based on where/how they’re sold, vs. insurable value/replacement cost.  Given a replacement cost of X, the typical price for a used instrument through a music store that had refurbished, etc. was roughly X/2, and auction sites were anywhere from X/25 to X/8.  They had older numbers for Yamaha student models, but I have no memory of what they were.

I may poke a bit on Craig’s List, which I’m assuming would be comparable to an auction sites, and possibly put the Yamaha up and see how it goes, never having sold anything there before. I’d probably list it in the $100-125 range, given that I picked it up on e-Bay for $100-ish, and haven’t played it that much. Or maybe I’ll poke around one of these days and find another possible venue to sell them.

Doggy Chaos

When we went to bed last night we forgot to block the bedroom dog door. I remembered it sometime in the middle of the night, and finally did something about it in somewhere in the early hours of the morning.

This morning Robin asked me what I’d done with the bananas I bought last night. I said that they were on the counter. He said that no, they weren’t.

“All of them?!?”

“All of them.”

Yes, there are the sad remains of 5 bananas out in the yard. Pippin seems fine. After the banana discussion, I heard Robin calling Pippin a bat-eared husky-shaped piggy.

Bike Woes

Robin called when he was done with class yesterday to ask for a ride for himself and his bike in the truck. Somehow the back tire on his wheel had gotten bent. We took the into Mike’s Bike shop, and the first thing the guy said was “that’s a sorry sight”. I didn’t think it was that obvious that it was out of round, but OTOH it’s not something I look for.

Music Progress

Monday evening I attempted “Jamaica Farewell”. It went pretty well, as it’s only three of the first chords I learned, and I’m familiar with the words from our Harry Belafonte CDs. Last night Ron and I tried playing and singing it together. Not quite so successful, but there’s hope.

IIRC I’m up to almost a dozen songs I can play with more or less success. Some even to the point I can sing along with them! Woo hoo!

When we were at Sam Ash I noticed they had a new display of the spiffy iPad brackets like Ron’s, and was hoping I could get enough for the Yamaha clarinet for one or do a swap.  I still have lust. Propping my iThingy up on the bed or a table is not nearly as nice as using the bracket.  One of these days.