I've been a total miscreant this past week. Except for my Saturday morning agility class with Seamus, I cut all my classes just to have more time to myself. Don't get me wrong -- I love my classes -- but the one thing I really wanted more than anything was just to sleep late, slowly reviving myself over a nice big steaming mug of coffee, and reveling in the relative quiet.
Greg's hiking Mt. Abbot in the snow and ice this afternoon. I have my giant mug of coffee, and all the pups are napping. Ahhhhhhh.
Wednesday was my 50th birthday, and I can't quite tell whether I'm more relieved or disappointed that it wasn't a very big deal. I got more mail from AARP than anybody else. When I turned 40, I was so horrified at the 40th-birthday parties some of my friends were throwing with Depends and Dentu-Creme as gifts that I couldn't wait to get out of Dodge. I spent that birthday on a business trip to Sarasota, driving around Longboat Key in a co-worker's rented Mustang convertible.
If I'd had the time and the available funds, I probably would have hied myself off to someplace warm, where I could sit on the beach with an umbrella drink in one hand and a book in the other, and with no interruptions. Greg says he has no interest in going to Hawaii or any other such place, but I remember his having said that about New Orleans once, too -- and now I think he wants to get back there worse than I do.
The Dogs of Winter
Now that we're experiencing actual winter in this latitude, it's mostly been too frickin' cold to snow. We did get about 5 inches earlier in the week, though, and the puppies couldn't wait to get out and play in it...
To Dinah, the world is her snow cone...
Charlie has always enjoyed romping in the snow...
And Seamus, our little Canadian guy, is pretty happy in this weather... eh?
Music News (Such As There Is)
Greg's been so busy coordinating the various people, pieces, and papers associated with the upcoming CD that he hasn't really had much time to do extensive work on his own pieces. Now that the initial work is done, he's been able to go back and do some work on his own compositions.
Following in Bach's tradition, he borrowed one of his own themes (the brass chorale from Niagara) and expanded it into a theme and variations for brass quintet. A friend of mine plays with a few different bands around the Portland area, and one of the groups was interested in playing it when Greg's ready for a performance. My friend listened to it and said that it was beyond the abilities of most of the folks she plays with, but that the first trumpet in the band that requested the piece could certainly find brass players who were up to the challenge.
It's a big, full, colorful piece with many shifting moods -- I'm really looking forward to hearing the finished piece.
I'm a sucker for big brass sounds, anyway. No matter how many times I hear it, Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man still gives me the chills. (I had it as a ringtone for my phone a while ago, but got tired of people saying, "Oh, the Olympics!" I now have the Blues Brothers' rendition of Curtis Mayfield's "I Can't Turn You Loose" -- come to think of it, that piece is another brass showcase. If you're a fan of the movie, this is the song they play during the big cop-car-chase scene.)
I'm not usually the kind of person who gets singled out for recognition, which is why I've never been a big one for awards. It's nice to be able to do stuff with my dogs that earns them recognition, but their achievements are theirs. In general, when it's time for the glory to be given out, I'm not the one people generally see.
Imagine my complete surprise, then, when the rest of the BCCME Board presented me with a certificate naming me Member of the Year 2006, plus an accompanying gift certificate for one of the local restaurants. I was so surprised I almost looked behind me to see who else might be standing there. That was just so nice of them, and so unexpected -- plus it's a rare pleasure to be that surprised. All I can say is, "Wow!"
Falling in Love Again
Since my PC committed seppuku, I've been forced to spend more time getting re-acquainted with my Mac -- and I must tell you, this computer makes me wonder where I've been all these years. I seriously LOVE this machine. Every day I find another nifty built-in function of OS X that I hadn't taken the time to discover before, each one makes me want to create something. I'm happiest when I'm creating, so this little machine has just been a complete delight since I started really using it. It's so nicely integrated, and everything talks to everything else. It just makes me want to MAKE STUFF all day long.
Dedicated Windows types generally regard Macophiles as belonging to some sort of cult. How can anyone be THAT crazy about a frickin' computer? I used to take that kind of abuse from the bigger Windows types at my former job (though the UNIX folks were pretty cool) -- but I was the first one they came to see when their PCs couldn't read one another's file formats. I use Windows, UNIX, and MacOS every day -- and I just don't get that fired up about Windows. I don't hate it, I don't regard it as the enemy, but there's just nothing about it that I can find compelling. Not so the Mac. I could play with this thing all day -- and it even has UNIX, so I can play with that too if I really want to.
Greg bought me a copy of Parallels Desktop for my birthday. I know the real gearheads out there are all talking about VMWare, but Parallels is pretty damn cool. It allows me to bring up a Windows XP window using my XP Boot Camp partition while running Mac OS. Like most virtual machines, it's not exactly high-performance. If I want to run Photoshop or another resource hog, I still need to boot into Windows for real -- but now I can easily find stuff on my other partition without having to drop everything I'm doing on this one.
My latest find is MacGourmet. How much freakin' fun can you have?! It not only functions as a recipe database that helps you figure out what you can cook with what you have, but it converts from metric to US and back, clips recipes from Web sites and emails, and even enables you to publish your recipe collection on iWeb so you can share it with other MacGourmet users and access it yourself. (Anyone who has ever saved piles of stuff cut out from the daily newspaper will appreciate this feature. Web pages never get yellow and brittle with age.)
Best of all, the company is located in Lewiston, Maine. Maybe it's because I've had to spend my entire career working out of state, but it never fails to delight me to hear that other folks are actually doing high tech in Maine. You go, guys!
Just a Little Knitting
I haven't really had much time to take up the needles of late, but I'm working on a few things. Susannah bought a couple of skeins of Manos cotton yarn in a sweet shade of lavender, and I'm knitting a simple-but-satisfying 1x1 rib scarf for her. This yarn is so soft and so nice to handle that I might just be sad to be finished with it.
The Seacolors sweater has progressed to the point where the back is done, and I've started a few rows of the front. This is my current favorite "dumb knitting" project, since I have to put out about 29" of simple stockinette before I really have to pay attention to what I'm supposed to be doing. Works for me. I have a lot of TiVo to catch up on.
This coming Friday, Fran and I are taking a mitten class at Rosemary's. I can probably figure out how to make them on my own, but it's good for the soul to spend an afternoon over there with Fran and some other folks, working with our local Peace Fleece yarn and having a good old time. It's just plain nice to get out of the routine sometimes. Even if it's not a real trip to someplace warm, it's a mini-vacation where I get to go someplace and make something warm. Close enough.