Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wow -- Didja See That Holiday Whiz By?

I can hardly believe it. Here I finally have some time to get ready to celebrate Christmas and it's December 26! The pups are outside enjoying the night air, Greg's napping, and I feel as though I've just been run over by the Christmas bus. Anybody get the license plate number?

Not that we didn't have a good time -- we made the usual pilgrimage to my brother's family's place for the usual feast -- but half the family had a bug that the kids brought home from school, and for the other half of us, the holiday came and went before we were really even ready for it. Because Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday this year, Greg had to play three services at church (I attended the evening service to hear him play). The two of us finally had a chance to have our own Christmas this afternoon. We exchanged a couple of small presents (we're saving our funds for a trip to Italy), sipped pumpkin egg nog laced with rum, and soaked in the hot tub. He toddled off a while back for a nap, and I caught up with a few mundane details.

At least having a little downtime means I have a chance to come back to my poor, lonely, neglected blog. I've been saving news and topics in draft posts, but I haven't turned anything into actual online prose since before Thanksgiving. At least some of the stories I had to tell managed to get told, no thanks to me.

related the story of the Christmas party, which has to be experienced to be believed. I am almost disappointed to report that there were far fewer really tacky gag gifts this year, but I ended up with a couple of them. I now possess a lovely figurine of a fire hydrant that I'll treasure for an entire year before wrapping it for next year's party, chuckling evilly all the while.

A Truly Vile Consort

Greg's Consort for Viols was "performed" a couple of weeks ago. I use the quotes because that day was just one of those where absolutely nothing went right. First off, one of the tenor viols showed up to the gig without his music, and Greg had to race all over the Fine Arts building to print another copy from his laptop. Greg's relationship to inanimate objects (especially computers) is tenuous on a good day, but things got really tense when his composition program insisted on printing the parts in landscape mode. About 5 minutes before the concert hall needed to close for the next performance, Greg rushed back in with music in hand.

I suppose you could call what happened next a "performance," but that would require a certain to-the-breaking-point stretch of the imagination and the solid placement of one's fingers in one's ears. The other three members of the consort were visibly rattled by the tenor's having forgotten his music, and nothing worked at all. They didn't play together, the intonation was horrendous, and you could just hear the silent moans of all of the composers in the hall collectively feeling Greg's pain. One of his friends whispered to me, "There isn't a composer in this hall who isn't just horrified for Greg. You can bet we've all made notes to bring extra parts to all our performances in the future. Talk about unprofessional --!"

At least the remaining three members of the consort offered to redo the performance at a later date and re-record it. It won't make up for the sheer freaking stupidity of the tenor viol, but at least there will be a good performance of the work at some point.

But There's More Good News

There really has been more good music news than bad of late, apart from that terrible concert. Greg's been working on his CD project with four other composers and the New Hudson Sax Quartet. At some point in the new year, everybody will be ready to sit down and record this thing, and then the CD will be available for purchase, press reviews, and broadcast. The exact dates have to be worked out, but we're really looking forward to it. This really will be an impressive commercial release -- sometime within the next year, you could search a site like Amazon and find this CD!

He has also been making some progress on his Brass Quintet bit by bit. A Beardie buddy of mine, who plays trumpet in a few different bands and ensembles around the Portland area, emailed me that one of her brass ensembles would just love to play a brass quintet if Greg had one available. This is actually the second such request he's had from a brass quintet for a piece, so he's been working out some variations on the brass chorale section in Ongiara.

America's Next Top Model is a Real Dog

Dinah Moe had her "Day at the Spa" a little while back, and we're eagerly awaiting the January issue of to see how things turned out. (She'd won a free bath and grooming when I sent in a copy of one of her "mud puppy" photos.) The editor pinged me a couple of days ago to say that he'd tried to send me some photos through email, but that his ISP had choked on the file sizes. I'm now awaiting the CD that he kindly burned for me and dropped into the snail mail.

The little princess (who currently appears on 's home page as their "Merry Christmas" photo) also appears on page 30 of the book (Oceanside Edition). The book is available at a couple of stores around the NH/southern ME seacoast area, but you can probably order it directly from the photographer as well.

And the Usual Knitstuff

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Fran and I took a class in Fair Isle knitting at in Cornish. Their resident instructor, Cheryl Hevey, is a designer for . She designed a knitted Fair Isle pillow top that I'm really looking forward to doing (I haven't quite managed to finish the sample piece yet).

It's nice to be able to approach a whole new class of projects without trepidation now. I really knew less than zip about colorwork, but now I'm looking forward to cramming more colorwork projects into my "someday" list. has a few Fair Isle projects -- including socks -- that I'd sure like to tackle.

My 6-year-old niece has asked me to teach her to knit. I brought a pair of scarves to her and her brother yesterday, and they were tickled. (Scarves make lame Christmas presents unless the recipient really wants them, so I was a little reluctant to bring the kids scarves until they asked.) Emmy is a kid after my own heart -- she wanted something in purple and left all the other details up to me. She ended up with a novelty-yarn spectacular that makes her look like a little purple movie star. Her brother Max said that he'd like something in green, but he flipped for the camouflage yarn I picked up and knitted in a masculine-enough-looking 1x1 rib. He's deeply into GI Joes, and now he can dress the part.

I'd brought a sock on #1 circulars with me yesterday, so I promised Em that I'd bring bigger needles and easier yarn the next time we see each other, and I'll teach her to knit then. Cripes, hanging on to cotton yarn on those teeny-tiny Addi Turbos is hard enough for me to do!

The Knitter From S.A.B.L.E.

We've had an empty video cabinet in the upstairs hall for the past couple of years now, ever since Greg brought it with him from his house. It actually held videos in its previous incarnation, but it hasn't really had much work to do since arriving here.

In a fit of organization, I appropriated the cabinet for my skeins of sock yarn. I've finally acquired enough different colors (and requests for socks!) that I really needed to take inventory, accumulate the colors I needed to accommodate my requests, and reduce the size of the yarn stash pile in the living room. Inspired by my purpose, I pulled yarn-shop bags of skeins from the pile and installed them in the cabinet until I'd filled the thing completely.

You'd think that doing this would have reduced the apparent size of the original stash pile -- but it hasn't. The stuff does multiply in captivity!

In case you were wondering, your standard video cabinet holds 78 skeins of sock yarn, plus about half a dozen paperbacks that I had no idea what else to do with before reading them. Here's the kicker, though: I still have about a dozen more skeins of sock yarn that just don't fit in a full cabinet, plus the 6-8 in my knitting bag waiting to be turned into socks.

Cross-stitchers use the acronym SABLE for "Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy." I'm still new enough to knitting that I haven't managed to acquire a SABLE-level yarn collection (don't ask about the embroidery/cross-stitch/quilting/rug-hooking stuff, though)... but I have been doing the math. It takes me a couple of weeks to knock off a pair of socks, between watching movies and TV shows, hair appointments, and suchlike. If I start now and knit nothing but socks, it'll take me roughly 2 1/2 years to empty out my current sock stash -- assuming I don't buy any more sock yarn in the meantime. (Yeah, right. My Christmas present to myself came from Need I say more?)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pachelbel Rant

This is just too freakin' funny for words, especially if you've ever been forced to play (or sing) the moldiest of oldies...

Monday, December 18, 2006

All Dinah Wants For Christmas...

...is to not have to pose with another frickin' Santa Claus. We did it to benefit the local animal shelter and another local rescue, so she can say she did her part for charity.

Friday, December 08, 2006

First Snow of the Season

As you can see, there's been much celebrating in the backyard this morning. Seamus, our little Canadian import, thinks this is the best weather of the year.

Charlie's always loved the snow. Here, he's contemplating chasing Dinah around for a wintry version of "Get the Puppy" -- their favorite game.

Dinah loves snow -- for play and for dessert!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Where'd Everything Go?

You might have noticed that this blog's sporting a somewhat leaner, less colorful look than before. All my links and buttons have temporarily disappeared, but they will be back soon.

Here's the thing. Our local cable company used to be Adelphia. As corrupt as the company and its management were, I never had more than a few minutes' worth of trouble in all of the almost-six years I've had the service. When the local service was sold to Time Warner Cable, I was actually pleased (more, relieved that it wasn't Cox).

Unfortunately, the switchover has been more than merely rocky. I've gone entire days without Internet access, which is a Very Bad Thing if you telecommute. Time Warner apparently told our town officials that the changeover could take up to six months, and that the customers would just have to be content with appallingly bad service until then. I didn't hear anything about their being willing to wait to be paid for six months, however.

DSL has finally reached our little corner of the sticks, so I'm switching to DSL for a year or so while Time Warner irons out its many issues. Unfortunately, I hosted all of my links and buttons on my Adelphia account, so I'll have to remove them from the blog page until I can copy them to another Web account. They'll be back soon, though -- and maybe I'll have the time to create one of my own as well.