Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Now I've Gone and Done It

Today just seemed to be the right day to start looking for another . I've sent an email to my friend Gill in Wales and asked her about a . Gill replied that she was planning to breed one of her brown girls next week to a stunning dark brown boy. If all goes well, the sound of little brown puppy feet will be thundering around the place in early June. She is also planning a litter sometime this year with one of her lovely dark slate girls. She may have picked out a dad already, but if so, I don't know who he is. She might repeat the last breeding she had, which was with an outstanding slate boy. We shall see. This means I'll be planning a trip to Wales for sometime this year!

I've always liked her dogs and her lines; her dogs come from some of the old English Beardies whom I've admired for so many years. Some appear in Duncan's and Doogie's pedigrees, and some others in Charlie's.

I also sent word to my friend Jane, who maintains the list of available dogs for rehoming, that I'd be interested in a good-natured adult if one should come along. I myself am used to rehabbing rescue dogs, but I want Greg's first new Beardie to be an "easy" dog.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More Good News

Greg just received an offer of a job as Music Director/Organist at the Wells Congregational Church, and he's just over the moon about it. The position pays quite well for the time and expertise involved, and the people there are friendly. (A few also sing with me, so he has a friendly audience over there.)

He has enjoyed subbing for other organists, and they've been glad to have him. After he finishes his month-long substitute gig in April, he'll start his new job in May -- and he'll have to look for a reliable sub himself! Life is good.

Home Again

My whirlwind tour of the West Coast (such as it was) is over now, and I'm hip-deep in dirty laundry and bags of fleece. (As if I needed another hobby -- I saw one of my knitting buddies from work and my friend Pam while I was out there. One gave me two lovely bags of combed, ready-to-spin roving and one gave me a bag of washed-but-uncombed raw wool. I'll either take up spinning, or felt them as is.)

I also managed to meet up with quite a few Beardie buddies and one college classmate, collect Beardie kisses from three Beardies (Pam's two blue dudes plus a darling six-month-old puppy girl belonging to friends in Santa Clara), dine at a couple of wonderful seafood restaurants (Il Pescatore in Oakland and Gladstone's in Santa Monica), visit the See's Candies factory store, and go on a yarn-shop crawl that included the Knit Cafe and Stitches from the Heart in the south, and the Menlo Park Building 17 parking lot in the north. (My knitting buddy from work met me there. We were both in a hurry, but we managed to show each other some works in progress and play with some yarns.)

I had intended to work on my Fletcher sweater while I was in the air, but my initial gauge swatch was too tight on 10 1/2 needles. My larger circulars are all embedded in other projects (including my Denise needles), so I needed to pick up an 11 and a 13 before I could continue. I took a skein of Schaefer Yarns' Elaine (in the Indira Gandhi colorway) with me to California instead, and made myself a nifty skinny scarf in 2x2 ribbing. (The skein is big enough to make two such scarves, so I'll make another one sometime.) I picked up the circulars at the Knit Cafe, and am now ready to tackle a second gauge swatch in earnest.

Lots of good knitting news to report:

  • Pam is reviving her blog soon. She's the one who inspired me in both knitting and blogging.
  • I'm making good progress on the felted tote bag.
  • Before I left town, the nice ladies in the local yarn shop explained what to do on the Warm Winter Poncho, so I'm no longer buffaloed by it.
  • My friend Susannah bought me some Twisted Sisters Voodoo yarn to play with. She gave me a skein of yellow, a skein of jade green, and a skein of blue-green variegated yarn. They should be fun to play with.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Hello from Silicon Valley

I'm in Newark, California today, blogging from my cushy hotel room across the street from the Sun building where I'll be working for the next couple of days. We're here for two days of training -- more opinions about that part later. A bunch of my colleagues, some of whom I email every day but have never actually met, are here. I met a few of them (plus two I know well) in the lobby last night, but I was so pie-eyed from exhaustion that I declined an invitation to stay and enjoy a cocktail. I'll enjoy coffee with them this morning instead.

One of my Boston-based colleagues is a definite shoo-in for the Liars' Contest -- no one can tell a tall tale like this guy can. He told all my colleagues that I wear a horned helmet and dress in animal skins. Of course they got the joke, but every single one has been asking for the helmet. I should've brought the purple-and-gold velour one I bought at Mardi Gras.

Last night I met a couple of long-time Beardie buddies in Palo Alto for a Vietnamese dinner and much catching-up. They have an adorable 6-month-old Beardie girl who is just a happy little bag of wiggles. I collected as many sweet puppy kisses as I could, but she was wiggling so much she often missed my face completely.

I'll be catching up with three more Beardie friends tonight up in Oakland. It's a bit of a hike just for dinner, but one friend is coming down from Sacramento, so we agreed to split the difference and meet in the middle. I don't think any dogs are coming along, since all of us have to put in a full work day today, but we'll always have pictures.

Hi ho, hi ho... it's off to two days of compulsory training I go. More anon.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Nostalgia Still Ain't What It Used to Be

I can barely believe that my will take place this year. I certainly don't feel that old, and I like to think I don't look that old (though no one would mistake me for an 18-year-old, for sure).

I also don't feel much longing for those days. Aside from the fact that I struggled with a crippling depression for much of my adolescence, the rigidly stratified if-you-don't-play-football-you-don't-exist nature of small-town high-school society just didn't appeal to me. Some of my friends and my then-boyfriend had already gone on to college by the time I became an upperclassman, and I spent a good deal of my high school years wishing I were already in college.

Even though I've moved to another state, my friends from high school and I are still in frequent touch. My friend Sue, whom I've known since kindergarten, emails me almost every day from her office in Dallas. Other friends and I swap jokes over email and try to get together when Greg and I head south to visit my family. Those friends who still live in Massachusetts still get together every so often, and we've thrown our own "non-reunion" parties from time to time. I saw another high school classmate while visiting New Orleans in January; Sandy and I have a guaranteed date to get together every other year when I head south for Mardi Gras.

Not surprisingly, I didn't attend my 25th reunion back in 2000. Sue came up from Dallas and Sandy from New Orleans, and it's nice that they got to see each other, but I wanted no part of that scene. Fortunately, I was able to avoid the issue altogether because I was working in California that week anyway. I later saw a videotape of the occasion and literally did not recognize anyone on the screen. Who were all those old people?

The 25th reunion did have its benefits, though, I must admit. Thanks to the people who so kindly organized and mailed a class booklet to everyone, I was able to get in touch with a few folks by email, including one high school classmate who went to the same college as I did. (We had different majors and lived on different ends of campus, so we rarely saw each other until junior year, when we attended the same classics seminar.) I even ended up not-really-dating another classmate for a couple of years. That was bittersweet and confusing, and I'm not entirely sure whether I've lost the friend from that experience or not. We still exchange Christmas and birthday cards, but emails are rare nowadays.

In spite of the fact that I wouldn't attend the 30th reunion if you hitched me to a Hummer and dragged me, I have to admit that I am looking forward to this year's questionnaire. The 25th-year questionnaire precipitated a rare introspective period for me: How does one distill 25 years' worth of living into a couple of paragraphs, so that people who were practically strangers 25 years ago can get caught up as if they were old friends? At that time, I settled for a busy-but-funky approach. When I wasn't at 30,000 feet somewhere over Omaha, I lived near the ocean in a drafty old converted one-room schoolhouse with three Beardies and various foster dogs.

One classmate just emailed me to describe how he copes with the idea that we're old enough to have a 30th reunion. He said he still tries to extract every bit out of juice out of every day, so that he doesn't have to live with regrets later. I like his philosophy.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The #2 Dilemma, Possibly Solved

We've finally found a solution for our little problem with Charlie and his fondness for crunchies. A friend of mine from work is letting me borrow her automated self-cleaning cat box. Apparently the self-cleaning mechanism waits 10 minutes before activating, in order to avoid scaring the you-know-what out of the cat... but as long as it freaks Charlie out just once with the noise and keeps the temptation away from him, it will be well worth the trouble. Patty (the friend from work) had to upgrade to a larger box when she acquired more cats, but she swears by the self-cleaning box and says her dog avoids hers. If we like the smaller box, we can take it off her hands for a much-reduced price.

(Thanks to the kind person who suggested a baby gate -- it's simple and makes sense, and like most people who have raised puppies, we have multiples. We might try them anyway; Charlie is a sensitive and suggestible , and he doesn't tend to argue with barriers. Most of my Beardies have either figured out ways around or over them or just pushed through.)

Bach for Breakfast

When Greg was growing up, it was a Sunday-morning tradition in his family to play old vinyl direct-to-disc German recordings of Bach cantatas during breakfast. His great-aunt or his mother would make Danish pancakes and strong coffee, and then they'd enjoy a banquet for all the senses. Greg has since inherited all his mother's old vinyl cantatas, and we just dug out my old turntable and installed it into the living room stereo. Even when we've skipped the effort and calories of making Danish pancakes in favor of Raisin Bran, we can still enjoy Sundays with Bach.

He's Still Realllllly Big

Greg stopped at the vet's and picked up Doogie's ashes a few nights ago. It never fails to astonish me how such a huge presence can fit into a little wooden box. The box has a nice little engraved brass plate on the front with his name on it, and it came with a little bouquet of yellow silk roses.

We always joked about how Doogie thought of himself as the biggest in the world (he did). He was a regular Doogasaurus Rex. Eventually, we would compare anything of a large size to Doogie and decide that he was still bigger: whales, tractor-trailer trucks, people's egos... You get the idea.

Even in death, Doogie is still huge. His little wooden box of ashes is the same size as Duncan's, and it weighs much more. The old boogerhead is still large and in charge.

Mr. Hall's Halling

Apparently a halling is a type of Norwegian dance. Greg's been working on a halling this week, orchestrated for two cellos or violin and cello. He's long been fascinated by the timbres of traditional Scandinavian , especially the Norwegian . (That's the plaintive-sounding solo violin you hear throughout the movie "Fargo" and in portions of the "Lord of the Rings." It has additional strings underneath the strings you play that serve as "drone strings," and which resonate when the other strings are played.)

Greg has written another piece called Hardanger for solo violin. It's scored for "regular" violin, but is open-stringed sound recalls that same plaintive Hardanger fiddle sound. He sent a copy of the piece to a violinist he knows up north, but hasn't heard back from him yet.

Greg did get some more positive news this morning. The music director from one of the local Congregational churches called and asked him to please apply for a full-time organist/choir director gig that will be opening up at the church in a couple of months. He was only too delighted to comply, and sent off his resume and his letters of reference this morning.

Postcard Confessional

My friend Helane sent me this link today -- definitely check it out.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Some Days You Blog, Some Days You Read

Spent some time last night reading reference material in Blogger Help when I really should have been knitting. There's always something new to learn there -- an overwhelming quantity, really, but it's all very useful when you absorb it a little at a time. I need to ping Peter and tell him about some of the "search engines" I discovered.

Sharon always seems to get tagged with on different subjects, and I was curious where they came from. As a Wired magazine reader from way back, I'd always thought of a meme as a concept or idea that spreads virus-like across the collective conscious of our culture (like a fad, only more scientifically described). Here in blog-land, memes are questions or questionnaires that get copied from blog to blog. If you get "tagged," then someone you know is challenging you to copy and answer those same questions in your blog. (Remember the "Getting to Know You" questionnaire going around in email about what brand of toothpaste you prefer? Yah, that's wicked revealing.)

Well, it turns out that there are a number of bloggers whose sole purpose for blogging is to think up and post questions on a daily or weekly basis. I found a by-no-means-exhaustive list of them at if you're ever interested. If you ever feel like blogging, but don't know what to write about (what's that like??), here's a resource.

But Wait, I Did Knit Too

I always feel a little goofy as a still-pretty-novice knitter, bragging about the baby steps I've taken in comparison to the fabulous, gorgeous, complicated works that so many knitbloggers proudly describe and photograph for their blogs. Still, I'm feeling a little chuffed that I figured out how to pick up stitches my very own self, and that the results look pretty neat.

I've made more progress on the felted tote and wound some more yarn for the Fletcher sweater. Until I can get to the yarn shop for help with the Warm Winter Poncho, that project is pretty much stuck.

Live from Boston University

Greg just called while I was in the middle of writing the above section. He went into Boston on the early train this morning to meet with the instrumentalists who will perform his wind quartet (flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon) in early May. Although all of them have had their parts for a few weeks now, today is the first time that they've rehearsed the piece together. Although the first reading wasn't note-perfect, it came close enough that Greg called home, all excited. Things are already looking good for May's performance.

When you're composing a piece for instruments that you don't play, you have to be content with the computer-generated MIDI playback that approximates the sounds of the individual instruments. Over time, you even get used to the MIDI. When your piece gets played by actual living musicians, though, the whole piece opens up, comes to life, and reveals dimensions of itself that get lost in the MIDI translation. No wonder Greg's excited -- in effect, he's hearing his own piece for the first time.

Today is going to be a busy day for Greg. This afternoon, his setting of the David Shapero poem After Ryokan, scored for tenor voice and viola, will be performed. I hope someone is recording the performances today. I've grown so used to hearing the MIDI playback that it will be a whole new world just to hear the words sung.

Here's a great meme that I just have to develop: Things I've learned from living with a composer.

Don't Read This While Eating

Charlie has been fascinated with Persephone the cat since we brought her home, though she doesn't exactly return that fascination. Unfortunately, his most enduring interest seems to be with the litter box. We've tried a cover, we've tried being hyper-vigilant about scooping as soon as the cat's done with her business... nothing seems to discourage him. (We have no place to put the litter box up out of his reach, or we would try that solution.)

Does anybody have any other suggestions? Can you put Accent on a cat's food to discourage doggie snacking, the same way you would for a dog who prefers the -- er -- products of his own kind? Do those motorized self-cleaning litter boxes live up to the expectations?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Charlie's having second thoughts about hiking in the snow. Posted by Hello

Enough already!

Well, it's official. Since yesterday's snowstorm dumped another 10-20" on the region, the snowfall measured in Portland for this season is 102", officially above the average of 100". Who the heck comes up with these averages, anyway? The highest recorded snowfall is 141". I don't even want to go there.

I'm not even sure how much we received here, but it's definitely at least 10", and probably over a foot. The snow is so deep that Charlie refuses to go out in it. When he needs to answer Nature's call, he goes down the front steps and under the overhang in the front of the house -- the only spot where we have bare ground. He's only 22" at the shoulder, and the snow is over his head in some places. Greg took him for a walk in the woods yesterday, and Charlie just sat there and looked at Greg as though he'd lost his mind. He waited in the car while Greg went about on snowshoes.

Greg loves the snow and the wintertime, and nothing makes him happier than watching the white stuff fall. I have to admit that I enjoy the forced break from running errands, but I'm always annoyed at the effect on my mobility -- especially when it snows on the weekends. I had hoped to take my poncho-in-progress down to the local yarn shop and ask about the next part of the instructions, the part I'm having trouble visualizing. Maybe next weekend I'll get to that, unless Mother Nature wants me to stay here and make more UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) instead. Sigh.

At least the sight of snow always makes me want to knit, so I spent at least some of yesterday afternoon with the yarn. I made some more progress on the felted tote and started winding the balls of Noro Iro for the Fletcher sweater. (Note to self: Maybe a swift would be a good idea. I always, always, always turn the skein over on the wrong side after untwisting it and end up with a tangle instead of a nice, big circle of yarn.)

From the Netflix Queue

Greg and I watched The Motorcycle Diaries last night. It was definitely more than just your average road picture, even aside from the fact that it was based on Che Guevara's diaries from that period. It starts off as a see-the-country trip taken by two young men who want to experience something of the world before settling down, and instead becomes a major transformative experience for both of them. You can see how the poverty and injustice they encounter helps to form Guevara's character and his resolve to help South American people, but one is still a bit surprised (as the assembled crowd seems to be) at the thank-you speech he gives on his birthday at the leper colony, when he proposes a toast to a great united people of South and Latin America. Not having read the diaries, I'm not sure how much of that was Hollywood and how much was fact, but it appeared in the movie as though he'd just suddenly come up with the notion, after helping people one or two at a time.

We were both still little when Guevara was killed in Bolivia with the CIA's help, and we both have to confess to complete ignorance of the whole story and the attendant politics. This probably means that we've missed some important context.

All the same, the movie itself is worth watching, no matter what your opinions of what Guevara did in his later life. The transformative nature of the journey, with its humor and pathos, is the main theme here, and the stunning South American scenery makes a glorious backdrop for the story.

Next in the queue: We still haven't seen the second half of Kristin Lavransdatter, and it turns out we also have The King of Marvin Gardens.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Charlie looks forward to another romp in the snow. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Herding Cats

I caught a break today! The Chorale's Board was supposed to meet tonight, but the president and vice-president were both out of town, leaving the task of chairing the meeting to the past president. Since half of the directors were sick with colds anyway, the past president called to cancel the meeting. Woo hoo! I have some time tonight!

I'm considering resigning as publicity chair, simply because I've had enough of herding cats. Some publicity-related activities go smoothly -- the guy who writes the press releases and does the media contact has been doing it for ages, and his wife did so before he did. He works with the guy who takes all the photos. You can pretty much wind them up and let them go.

On the other hand, people who are program managers for our events just go off and do whatever they feel like, and only really let publicity do its job when they either want something, or let something fall through the cracks. The program manager for the tsunami concert felt that he just didn't have the time to work with publicity, so he went out and did his own. The program manager for the latest event asked one member of the publicity committee to do the tickets, and instead of telling that person that there was someone on the committee who does tickets, she did them. Long story short, we ended up with two sets of tickets for this one event, and the person who is supposed to do the tickets is dropping off the committee.

Anyway, I've had enough. I already dislike managing the projects I get paid to manage, and I've decided I don't need to take on more of that stress for free. I've advised the president, and of course she'll try to talk me out of it, but it's time to find another cat-herder.

Back to the Needles

Ahhh, back to knitting. I'm almost done with the first part of the Lion Brand Warm Winter Poncho, but I'm not quite experienced enough to be able to visualize what to do after joining the second ball of yarn. I'll take the whole lot down to one of the local yarn shops and see if they can help me make sense of it.

Once I'm done with tonight's blog entry, I mean to do a little more work on the Fiber Trends felted tote. I haven't started Fletcher yet because I need a little time, space, and quiet to think about the knitting before I get started. I can't really start a sweater while sitting in front of the TV in the semi-darkness with all that yammering going on. If I'm relatively unencumbered on Saturday morning, I'll start it then.

Hope on the Maple Front

Apparently some maple farmers would like to take Easter Sunday off, in spite of what tradition dictates for the last Sunday in March. The maple farm from which we buy our yearly supply of syrup placed an ad in the local fishwrap, stating that they planned to have their open house on March 20, one week earlier, so that they too could have a holiday. Greg and I will be there, of course. Now all we have to hope for is enough sunlight and warm weather for the sap to run.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Now.

If I'd been thinking, I could be in Phoenix right now with my friend Lise, sitting in the bleachers at Ho-Ho-Kam and watching the Cubs' spring training. We'd be wearing sunglasses and sucking back beers in the bright sunshine, no longer hunched over to fight off winter. (She lives in Washington State, so she doesn't see the sun between October and April either.) As Red Sox fans, we've always been warmly welcomed by the Cubbies fans, who have felt our ancestral pain. (Now that the Red Sox have won the World Series, will they feel the same way? Could they greet us as "fellow lovable losers" any more? My dream Series would still be Sox vs. Cubbies.)

We native New Englanders generally eschew hope -- whether for spring or for the baseball club -- until it's been proven that failure is impossible. Maybe that's why we watched last year's Series from between our fingers (at least that's how I did it), in case the gods sensed our hubris and sent us crashing yet again. We always know the odds, and we try not to look at them too closely. We know the difference between probability and possibility.

Even with all that in mind, how could I have awakened yesterday morning with such a terrible case of spring/baseball fever? One signals the other; I don't pay attention to the Punxsatawney Rodent. If the Red Sox have returned to Fenway, then it's time to take off the six layers of wool and face the sun. (The Sox are still in Ft. Myers, where they will remain for a few more weeks. The snow is still on the ground in drifts, and it too will probably remain for a few more weeks.)

I ordered my St. Patrick's Day Red Sox T-shirt -- green with a red logo and a shamrock -- and intend to wear it all over California while I'm out there. It's not a sign of hubris. It's a need to welcome spring, with a nod to my Celtic ancestors, the ones who built bonfires on the hills to show the sun the way back to their latitude.

Note to my Canadian fellow-bloggers: I am a hockey fan, really. College hockey is the big sport around here (Go Black Bears!) and the local professional team (Portland Pirates) is AHL, so we were not affected that much by the NHL strike. It's just that hockey is a winter sport, and I can't take winter any longer.

The coup de grace happened for me when I dropped in to the local farm store yesterday to pick up some milk. Upon opening the door, I was greeted full in the face by an enormous, colorful, possibility-laden display of flower and vegetable seeds. I have never been a gardener, and chances are I won't be this year either, but the sheer expectation in that display just reinforced the message that spring is coming. Someday.

My resolve crumpled. I can no longer maintain resistance to the weather. I can no longer keep my eyes averted and my shoulders hunched. I can no longer look outside at today's freezing rain and not wish it were sunshine. I'm afraid I'm doomed for the next month. I should have gone to Phoenix.

Maine Maple Sunday

Maine is a state of many festivals, the overwhelming majority of which have been designed for the tourists and their dollars. Maine Maple Sunday, always the last Sunday in the month of March, is a come-hither-spring festival for those of us who have endured the winter here. Maple syrup farmers around the state hold "open houses" at their sugar shacks. The aroma from the boiling maple sap overwhelms the senses, and visitors can buy the new year's maple syrup, maple candy, maple spread, maple sugar, and such. There are tours of the sap lines, and sometimes pettable farm animals and games for the rug rats. Some places offer refreshments, ranging from maple sugar poured over vanilla ice cream to maple hot dogs and homemade maple baked beans dished up hot out of crock-pots. A lot of us buy our syrup in cases of bottles to last the year, so the day is a major money-maker for these (mostly) small family tree farmers.

Unfortunately, this year's festival, through no fault of its own, coincides with Easter Sunday. I wonder how the farmers will be affected by the holiday. Sadder still, I'll be spending much of that day on a plane home from San Francisco, so there will be no Maple Sunday for me in any case. I hope Greg goes, though he won't enjoy going alone. (He can take Charlie. I used to, before Greg and I met, and I'd always bring him a piece of a maple hot dog.)

Knitting Compulsions

The nice person who posted about Noro lust turned out to be Donna. Hi, Donna! Donna's email contained a link to some errata for Jane Ellison's Noro book, and I'm grateful that she sent them to me before I started the Fletcher sweater. Here they are, for anyone else who needs them. Thanks for saving me untold confusion, Donna. I owe you one!

I'm new to knitting, having only done it for about a year, but I've been doing needlework (embroidery and needlepoint) most of my life. I've always had more than one project going at once, but I've usually finished each one in turn without having to resort to the hard discipline of working a prescribed length of time on one, and then the next, and the next.

Is the compulsion to start things worse for knitters, or have I just not built up enough resistance to it yet? Here I have the Noro Iro in hand to start Fletcher, and then what do I do? Frog another project and start a felted tote bag with the yarn. Why? "Because it was there" doesn't even cut it for an excuse -- they're both here.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

This is Spring Break?

Greg just mentioned that he has no classes this week because it's Spring Break. I razzed him about going down to Daytona Beach and getting hammered for a week, but the longer winter lingers in this latitude, the better that sounds. Maybe I should take a Spring Break!

He'll be working fairly hard all week, anyway. He has multiple tasks going at once, including orchestrating his new tone poem, working on a new fugue that simply suggested itself one day last week, and practicing the organ pieces he'll be playing at the Easter service. He just bought a pedal board, which he can plug into my Casio keyboard to produce a fairly good facsimile of a church organ.

Tell a Secret, Telegraph

The President of our chorus's Board of Directors mentioned that some confidential information was leaked outside of last month's Board meeting. Considering the nature of the information, I can't say as I'm surprised -- it's the kind of information that would get around anyway, and the fact that it's confidential only helps spice it up that much more.

Our director has decided that she'd like to work with a smaller, elite group of auditioned singers, and wants to leave the large, un-auditioned chorus to another director. The new director is someone we've all worked with before, and whom we like very much. Folks are worried that this will be perceived as "our director only wants to work with the good singers, and they're her favorites anyway." Whether or not that's true is really immaterial; she's been in need of a change for a while, and says she just doesn't have another concert program left to create for us. (That certainly explains the painfully unimaginative Christmas concert program last year.)

It's really a good move, in the long view. Not only will the new director give us a new focus and some much-needed musical discipline, but the smaller group will be able to perform in places where the whole chorus just wouldn't fit. We get many requests from other organizations to perform smaller, more intimate concerts, and such a group would answer that need quite well. Sure, it's a group that I personally will never be able to join (as I have much more enthusiasm than I do talent as a singer), but anyone who wants to audition certainly may.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see whether the "news leak" forces our director to state her intentions sooner than she was planning to. The excrement will probably hit the rotating blades of the air flow device at the board meeting this week, too.

From the Netflix Queue

We watched at least half of Kristin Lavransdatter last night. It's a Norwegian production, directed by Liv Ullmann (okay, she's a Swede). Apparently when this movie first came out in the cinemas, half the population of Norway turned out to see it. The movie is based on the first book in the series of the same name, by an author whose name escapes me at the moment. That's embarrassing, as I read most of the books 20-25 years ago.

The movie chronicles Kristin's life as she grows up in medieval Norway, with all of the splendor of the Norse civilization mixed with the wracking guilt of the medieval church, and belief in the little people. Her parents have arranged a marriage for her with the son of another nobleman. She likes the son well enough, but then, while staying at a local convent, falls in love with a knight who had once been described to her by a healer who had once cared for her sister after the sister was injured in an accident (the healer is the knight's kinswoman).

We haven't finished the movie yet -- it's 3 hours long -- but the photography is stunning, and so is the Norwegian scenery. The film is in Norwegian with subtitles. Greg speaks a little Danish, and Norway was a suburb of Denmark for many years. He keeps picking up the occasional Norwegian word that sounds the same in Danish.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

On the Wish List: More Time to Knit

Has anybody seen blogs where people have posted Wish Lists in the hope that random strangers will buy them stuff? I wonder how well that works as a gift-soliciting strategy.

If I had such a list, it would probably have Free Time right at the top. Here's one of life's great mysteries: How is it that even though I work at home most of the time, I have only as much as (or less free time than) I did when I was doing the long commute every single day? I still spend much more time thinking about knitting, or buying stuff to knit, than doing actual knitting.

I haven't started Fletcher yet, but I have gone back over the instructions and figure that if I can get it started here at home, I'll have many pleasant hours of simple knitting while I'm on the plane to San Francisco, and more of the same on the trip back. One of the things I used to love about traveling to the Bay Area on business was that it guaranteed me twelve hours per trip of time to myself. I used to get so much needlework done on planes! One of the samplers I stitched while in the air hangs in my office at work. I'd have to check the diary portion of my inventory software Organized Expressions and try to figure out what coincided with my "bicoastal commute" period between 1997 and 2001.

As soon as the last session ends on Friday, I'm hopping the shuttle from SFO to LAX to spend most of the weekend with one of my college classmates. I fly back on Easter Sunday, which is kind of a bummer, but Greg has a gig that day anyway... so we had no big holiday plans ourselves. I'll pick him up some Easter candy at See's and make him something fabulous for an Easter Monday meal. (Oh yes, I plan to take Monday off. I'll land back in Boston at 10:30 Sunday night, and will still have a two-hour drive home to Maine.)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Noro Lust and DVDs and Stuff

A nice-but-anonymous commenter (Sharon? Lisa?), who admitted to also having succumbed to Noro lust, asked whether I'd started my Fletcher sweater yet. No, but I plan to soon. The Noro Iro for the project just arrived in the mail on Monday, and I haven't had much time to pull it reverently out of its bag, fondle it, rub it on my cheek... the usual ritual I perform when a new fiber enters the house. If I could, I'd spread the yarn out all over the floor and roll in it, just like Charlie. (Charlie would probably help!)

The color I picked (#16) is browner in real life than I thought it would be, but still gorgeous. It has bright streaks of turquoise, emerald green, and purple running through it.

Fletcher would make a nice take-along project for my upcoming command performance in California. I have a friend in the Menlo Park office with whom I trade knitting-related emails, and it would be fun to catch up with her and her projects, and maybe get some knitting done at the same time.

In the Netflix Queue

We just watched the DVD of My Architect: a Son's Journey. It's a documentary by the son of Louis I. Kahn, one of the 20th century's most important architects. Apparently Kahn had three families, and they only discovered one another after he had died. Kahn's son by one of his mistresses, Nathaniel Kahn, filmed his journey to some of his father's buildings in an attempt to understand his father better; Louis Kahn's life was his work. Louis Kahn died suddenly and without identification in 1974 in the men's room at Penn Station in New York, and he was a "John Doe" case for the city for a number of days before his [first] family could find him and identify his body.

The film is by turns touching and cheesily self-indulgent, and it does make you wonder what it was about Louis Kahn that caused these women to remain madly in love with him, even 30-odd years after his death (his two mistresses survive, though his wife has since passed on), even though he never spent much time with them or with his children.

In spite of the cheesy bits, the film is definitely worth watching, both as a chronicle of a journey of discovery and as a retrospective of Louis Kahn's works.

Next in queue: The Motorcycle Diaries and Kitchen Stories.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


We're all trying to get back into a daily rhythm here after having lost poor old Doogie. Charlie still seems lost without another dog to boss around. Thanks to everyone who sent condolence comments about Doogie's passing. He was a good old frog dog, and we miss him.

I need to take more time to miss Doogie and to catch up on a lot of missed sleep, but I sent word to my friend Gill in Wales that I'd like to import one of her puppies when I'm ready. Gill breeds from the same nice old lines that Duncan's and Doogie's father came from, and I really like her dogs' temperaments. If buying a puppy from her means that I get to go visit her on Anglesey again, so much the better.

Just received word at work today that we all have a compulsory workshop to attend in Newark, CA, during the third week of March. I've opted for the Thursday-Friday session (24th-25th) if I can get it, and maybe with a Saturday night stay. Greg has an organist gig on Easter Sunday, so he wouldn't be able to come this time. We'll go to San Francisco together some other time. (He was born there, and wants to show me his childhood haunts.)