Whew! It hardly seems as though a whole week has gone by since the last time I sat down with this blog. I've missed all of you, and have so much to catch up with.
The early part of last week belonged to Greg's music. He had three performances last week: the four-part choral work April on Monday, the Quartet (Double Fugue in One Movement) for Winds on Tuesday, and an orchestral reading of excerpts from his tone poem Penobscot on Wednesday. I took Tuesday and Wednesday off from work and attended the performances. We crashed at the home of one of my college classmates and her husband (and four cats), and she attended the Tuesday and Wednesday concerts with us.
The Tuesday performance went especially well, and Greg is still on a high from it. He'd told me that the student instrumentalists were quite good, but that they'd had limited time to rehearse, so the performance might not be letter-perfect. I'm happy to report that he was dead wrong on that score: not only did they deliver a dead-on flawless performance of the work, but they gave it so much color and life that I almost didn't recognize it as the same piece I've heard only in MIDI for the past several months. Someone sitting behind me gasped, "That was GORRRR-geous!" That testimonial from a complete stranger meant a lot to Greg; he expects me to say nice things and assumes my friends will also, but to have someone who doesn't know who wrote the piece praise it so highly (if simply) gave him a tremendous ego boost and reinforced the sense that what he's doing is right.
Wednesday's performance was also very good. Because Penobscot is an incomplete work and the orchestra was reading only portions of it, some folks were a little confused about the structure and flow of the piece, but loved the sounds they were hearing. This is another work that existed only in MIDI in my mind until the orchestra brought it out and gave it color. You can synthesize all you want, but the human touch is still needed to bring a work fully to life.
Friday, it was my turn to start running the musical marathon. The chorus rehearsed one last time before the concerts on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's weather was just plain miserable, with rain that splattered rather than just poured. We probably sang to about 40 people that night, but we were ON. In spite of the empty hall, we filled the place with energy and produced a performance that was practically perfect.
Sunday's concert was a bit better attended, but it was definitely sitting room only in the hall. We probably sang to about 100 people, far fewer than the hundreds who turned out to see us at Christmas. I sure hate to say "I told you so" to the folks who wanted to change the dates and hadn't planned the program until the last minute... so I might have to clamp both hands over my mouth at the next Board meeting and say nothing, unless someone has the temerity to complain about the lack of publicity.
I have decided not to sing in the Pops concert, and apparently a lot of other people have decided to opt out as well. I'd like to be able to spend some time around the house, and I want to get acquainted with Sneakers the new dog, take Charlie the current dog out for more romps, and make my yard look presentable. I'll rejoin the chorus in the fall.
I've even made some real progress in the knitting department.
Donna has probably despaired of me, but I have redeemed myself. She's been knitting along on her Fletcher sweater, and is probably close to finished by now. Last week she had finished the back and the left front, and was working her way up the right front. I've emailed her for an update. Anyway, I am proud to announce that after many months of talking about it, I finally have the back of my own Fletcher on the needles and am making real progress.
One of the handiest tips Donna shared with me is simple, but really useful: Your pieces look neater if you try to cast on with the same color in your Noro Iro at the start of each piece. She chose one of the darker shades in the color she's using (I think it's #1, the color shown in the pattern). I opted for #16, and cast on with the emerald green shade. (Color #16 is still a lot browner in real life than I had anticipated, but no matter -- it's still a gorgeous yarn, and a real pleasure to work with.)
I have other happy knit news to report: I've felted the little red bag and the blue felted tote, and they're busy drying. All I have to do for the red one is attach the button and it's ready for its closeup. I have to add a needle-felted design to the side pocket of the tote bag, and then I can share its pretty face with you.
This time around, I started hand-felting the bags, but transferred them to the washer after I got bored with scrubbing and rubbing. Maybe I was just too flushed with success to make note of this last time, but the Lamb's Pride really shed a lot of fuzz this time around. I'm glad I used zippered pillowcase liners to hold the bags, or I'd still be picking little globs of blue and red off all our clothes (and probably, the washer's filter).
Also on the needles: I'd hoped to finish a quick peacock-colored Fun Fur scarf in time for this past weekend's concerts, but no such luck. It would have gone perfectly with the shirts we have to wear, too. The Eros Extreme is also sitting patiently in the pile. With my new-found Sunday time, I want to finish the Warm Winter Poncho that I didn't finish in time to wear this winter, and then I'll frog my poor World Series throw and re-knit it while watching something that isn't baseball.
Are We Not Men? We Have TiVo
Okay, so sue me. Here I complain that I have no time to watch TV and that there's nothing decent on anyway, and then what do I do? I just invested a piece of my tax refund in a TiVo DVR so that Greg and I can record all the stuff we complain about not having the time to watch, so that we can watch all of it in other time we don't have. Makes sense to me.
We love the thing, though: it's a masterpiece of good user-friendly design. Greg had it installed within 5 minutes, even with trying a few different connection scenarios (since we have the DVD player and VCR on the same circuit, and want to use them all with our ancient stereo receiver and its single digital input). The on-screen interface is simple, easy to use, and gives you feedback at every turn. (Greg likes to play the "no more choices" sound effect in the menu, which is a gentle "boom" from tympani.)
It started out recording "suggestions" along with stuff we actually wanted, but I figured out how to stop that from happening after the third Spanish-language program it oh-so-helpfully recorded for us. The only two words I know in Spanish are not the kind one would share in a family blog, even if I knew how to spell them. We both speak French and a few words of German, but it hasn't discovered our one French-language channel yet. (Our cable system gets TV5 from Paris, which is nice, but I miss being able to get hockey games from Quebec. Hockey is more fun to watch in French.)