Sunday, August 13, 2006

Kick Brass!

Last night Greg and I saw in concert at the Lowell Folk Festival. Next to Seamus, screech, maple leaf cookies, and Kroy sock yarn, they could be about my favorite thing ever to come out of Canada. Imagine what would happen if Beausoleil got themselves a Quebecois fiddler and Joe Jackson on piano along with the Memphis Horns for backup. That's just a rough approximation of the La Bottine sound. They're just amazing! We couldn't stop dancing. We also picked up their new CD for the drive home.

We had reason to celebrate, for sure. Greg received an enthused email on Thursday from the alto saxophonist of the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet, saying that the guys really liked the score for the Sax Quartet and were wondering if they could get parts in time for Monday's rehearsal. Greg has essentially done nothing else but print and bind parts since then, and the whole lot went into an Express Mail package to NYC yesterday morning. It will be a while before Greg hears about the premiere, but it's a shame he won't be there to see and hear them play the piece at tomorrow's rehearsal. No matter how good the MIDI approximation might be, it never comes close to the experience of hearing your composition played live for the first time. Of course we'll be there for the premiere performance, whenever that might be.

I really hope this piece might be Greg's big break. There really aren't very many pieces scored for sax quartet and there are actually quite a few such ensembles around (including one at BU), so the piece might get some notice in those circles. The New Hudson people record on a number of labels from the boutique (Capstone) to the reasonably well-known (Koch Classical), and maybe they'll like the piece enough to put it out on CD! You never know, and Greg deserves the chance.

More Doggie Stuff

Seamus and I have started rally obedience classes with Judy again, which really pleases me. They're not strictly classes per se -- we get together with a couple of friends and practice with her one morning a week -- but we have a great time. We've also signed up for the rally run-throughs at It's a Dog's World this week. It will be a while before we're ready to enter the Advanced level trials, but we have one remaining leg to our RL1 title in APDT rally. We're entered in a trial in October, and hope to earn that there.

I'm also thinking of entering him in Pre-Novice at the trial at the end of September. There is no real Pre-Novice title in AKC, but trial experience is always valuable. We're not ready for the off-lead portion of a real Novice-level trial just yet.

We did have one breakthrough that makes me very proud of the little guy, though. He has never been able to resist the food bowls in the offset figure 8, even though he understands the "leave it" command and follows it in every other application in life. I'm trying hard to make myself a more attractive handler for Seamus so we can work effectively off-lead -- this involves moving fast enough to keep his mind from wandering and some other ways of keeping his attention focused -- and the attention is critical if we ever hope to advance in either Rally or regular obedience.

Anyway, Judy laid out the dreaded offset figure 8 and placed dog treats in each bowl. I was sure Seamus would make a dive for the bowls, but I lured him with a handful of Ritz bits, and he paid no attention at all to the figure 8. Good Leave-It!!! Of course, we'll have to practice this again and again until we can navigate the bowls without the use of treats, but the fact that he actually did pay attention to me this time is a breakthrough in our training. He received the Ritz bits and a whole pile of praise for negotiating that obstacle.

Dinah has another herding lesson this week. We're going to work on circling/wearing and when to keep back from the sheep. It will be her last chance to have fun in the dirt before she has to get prettied up for the BCCC Specialty in Canada.

Oh, and Knitting Stuff

I haven't had much time to work on the India socks, but hope to get the second sock done this week and to get some pictures taken for Lisa. I took along a couple of skeins of one of the Knit Picks Sock Garden yarns to the La Bottine concert and wound them into balls, though I haven't set needles to them yet.

Just because it's late enough in the summer that one can't help but notice that fall isn't too far off, I gave in to temptation and cast on some yarn for the first sweater of the season. Last year, I bought some Seacolors yarn at the big craft fair in Wells, and I've been longing to spend some time with it since. The yarn is lovely -- I bought a sort of raspberry heather worsted and some more in a muted shade of teal -- enough between the two shades for a tunic sweater. This week, I needed some "idiot knitting" to do, something even easier than decreases for sock toes. I cast on the back of the sweater in the teal Seacolors yarn, and will be playing with that for a while in between finishing off socks. It's very nice yarn -- a bit like Shetland wool in texture, and the lanolin's been nice to my hands. I don't crochet much at all, but will have to learn the crab stitch in order to finish off the neckline (and maybe the cuffs).

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