Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Have You Hugged Your Editor Today?

I live for this, and I know you do too: The 2007 winners of the are out! Read 'em and howl!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Like I Needed Another Time-Sink

Honestly, I don't know what possessed me. I could have gone for the rest of my entire life without creating a ... but I did it just for chuckles, and now I'm finding out what a great time-sucker it can be. Don't even ask me what it's like to be a middle-aged denizen of a social network. I don't often feel old, but on Facebook, I might as well paste an AARP membership card to my forehead and bleach my hair white.

Just because I can't stand to waste time all on my own, I suckered poor in, too.

Greg has had a for a while, but he doesn't use it very often. (Go there to hear his music tracks!)

Speaking of Greg, the recording session for his Water suite went smoothly. He spoke with the conductor a couple of times and they swapped emails -- and all of a sudden, he received a flurry of very complimentary notes from the conductor and from ERM saying that the session was done and went smoothly, and that the orchestra really enjoyed doing the suite. Those folks waste very little time! If I heard Greg correctly, the email from ERM said that he could have a "proof" copy in his hands within the next couple of weeks!

The Czech Philharmonic isn't the only one making good use of time. Greg's been working on a song (for voice and chamber ensemble?) that began life as a class assignment from his time studying composition at BU with . This one is entitled Waking, and I believe the words come from a poem by .

Oh, and back to the subject of time sinks... The audio version of the seventh Harry Potter book landed on our doorstep this morning, courtesy of Amazon -- whom I thought was shipping pre-ordered books out last Saturday! Silly me. Anywho, absolutely nothing is going to get done in this household for the next several evenings. We have 17 hours' worth of Harry Potter to get through. Let the unwatched programs pile up in the TiVo and the dishes in the sink -- we've been waiting ages for this! We went to see the movie a couple of weeks ago, and that just whetted our appetites for the latest story.

(Our neighbor just called to let us know that the town's water district will be working on the mains on our street starting tomorrow, and that we probably won't have water for a couple of days. Looks like the dishes aren't getting done anyway, so it's paper-plate time.)

Dog Stuff

Last weekend had its second annual Beardie Bounce and BBQ at the club president's house. Greg and I usually bring Charlie to dog parties because he plays well with others and hangs out by the kiddie pool most of the time (instead of, say, the food tables). This time, we brought Dinah, and she had a fine time for her little pretty self.

She romped, she flirted with her best buddy Traveler (and all the boys), she hung out by the pool with all the cool grrrrls, and she slept very, very well on the way home. She'll make a fine party animal.

Now that the Great Hunt for Majors is on, Dinah and I haven't been entering as many shows as we have in the past. Unfortunately, sometimes we take a gamble and enter a show in the hopes that there will be enough dogs for a major, and we still lose. We're eating the entry for the August 4 show in Greenfield, MA because Dinah ended up being the only class bitch entered. Even if she went BOB over the four specials, she still wouldn't be able to get a major -- so we're saving gas and hotel money and simply eating the $25 or $27 or so it cost to enter. BAH. (The good news is that I now don't have to leave town while Dale and Val are at the lake. They're going to be seeing a lot more of me that week!)

That doesn't mean that The Lovely One hasn't had anything else to do all summer. She's been doing Beginning Agility at on Wednesday nights, and she should be getting some herding lessons as soon as we, Fran, and good weather are all in the same place at the same time. I'd love to enter her for HT in the Labor Day trials in CT, but we haven't been practicing very much.

Summertime Knitting

It's been so sticky out of late that about the only thing I can stand to knit is socks -- mainly because they're too small to stick to my sweaty epidermis while I'm working on them. If this weather trend continues, I might be able to keep up with all of the promises I've made to various people to knit them some socks.

Greg's gray Jawoll socks are proceeding nicely. Working on the second sock feels much better, and is going more smoothly, than work on the first sock. I'm getting more used to the feel of working socks on dpns (though I'm still a circular-needle kind of gal). I'm about a third of the way down the leg of the second sock, so The Man might have a new pair of socks relatively soon.

Because I've been steaming along on Greg's socks, I haven't been working as much on Joyce's Tofutsies socks -- but they're the easy ones, since I'm doing them on a circular. I've turned the heel and am proceeding down the foot on the first sock. Since Joyce has tiny feet (at least compared to my size-niners), it shouldn't take me too long to reach the toe.

Also in the knitting bag: one completed Sockotta sock for myself and half a skein left to knit, and two skeins of Wildfoote in colors Jody would like.

It Figures

My friend Susannah always says "There's never a 2 without a 3." Usually she's referring to the deaths of celebrities, or any other event that happens in threes. If I've counted correctly, though, things have been happening in fours around here.

First, the bottom dropped out of our rear storm door. We've been meaning to replace it with a wooden storm door and an installed doggie door, but the metal door was good enough until now.

Next, our coffee maker started acting as though it were possessed by a decaf demon. It would shut itself off at random intervals during the brewing process, and I'd have to go back into the kitchen to turn it back on. Yesterday, it kept shutting off within seconds of being restarted, and the timer/clock started to flash insanely.

The lack of coffee in this household could rightly be construed as an emergency. Fortunately, we had an emergency backup coffee maker in the garage. I set it up and turned it on, only to discover that the built-in grinder didn't work. I had to pour the beans back into my small Krups grinder, and then place the ground coffee into the filter.

Oh, and then I went out the front door this morning to put the mail out in the box, and the front screen door started dragging suspiciously over the doormat. Don't tell me... let me guess...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Beardie-Spotting and Some Other Stuff

Dinah (on the right) romps with her friend Angus

A belated shout out to the Chief Bookdog over at . He's a brown Bearded Collie who came from the Santa Clara Humane Society. Like the true herding dog he is, he keeps the place running.

I finally finished my part of the work on Web site. The design on this one now looks so good that it puts my current site to shame. I do have a couple of paying Web design gigs coming up and another one for barter, so the education I gained while stumbling around in CSS for this site will come in mighty handy.

The Lovely One has been making great progress in her beginner agility class up at Happy Tails. We love training with Cindy Ratner -- her teaching style suits our rather leisurely learning pace, and she's very laid-back. Dinah shows no fear of the big scary obstacles, and she likes climbing the A-frame and the dog walk. If we can get her used to the teeter and work on our tunnels and chutes, she should make a wonderful little agility dog indeed.

And On the Needles (or Off Them)

I finished the first of the gray Jawoll socks for Greg -- the ones that use the Yankee Knitter pattern. He tried it on and proclaimed it to be perfect, so I am thus inspired to finish the other one as soon as I can. The pattern itself is nothing fancy, and neither are the variations included in the pattern, but it adapts itself well to practically any yarn and any size.

If I'm making multiples of something (whether it be a knitted item or a cookie recipe), I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt the first time around. I'll follow the instructions exactly, and then I'll know where to branch out that possibly improve things on the second trip.

Thus it is with the Yankee Knitter pattern. Instead of using ssk for its decreases, this pattern calls for a knit two through the back loop (k2tbl). I've decided that I like the ssk much better; it tends to lie flatter and look much more like the mirror image of the k2tog on the other side. I'll still do the k2tbls for Sock #2 of this pair, but after that, it's ssk all the way. I'm also going back to the little circulars, even though I tried the 4-dp approach this time around. The socks just go so much more quickly on the circulars.

Joyce's Tofutsies socks are also progressing apace. This yarn is beautiful and I'm glad I've had a chance to try it, but it tends to split even more than Trekking does if you're not paying strict attention.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Thanks soooo much to for the best, most relaxing afternoon I've had in ages. I feel restored.

Here's the backstory, which you'll probably see in varying versions on , , and this one...

Every year at this time, when Ed goes off to the Speedway to watch the races, Sue throws a Girls' Day Out BBQ and bull session at their camp on Wilson Lake. This year, Kas and her friend Mary joined in, Dale and Val were already in residence at the camp across the street, and Sue's friends Kim and Jeannie also came by. As Kim and I were introduced, Sue mentioned to Kim, "This is Blogdog." Apparently Kim's a reader, and I didn't even know it! (Hi, Kim!)

I don't know whether it was the soothing nature of the lake water, the almost-perfect weather (aside from a couple of momentary sprinkles), all the dogs roaming around looking to be patted/looking for handouts (including Tucker, Sampson, Sue's four Cockers, Kassy's Cocker Charlie, and Sedona the Aussie), the fabulous groaning board of food, or the fact that we were just a bunch of women sitting around toasting s'mores and simply enjoying the day... but for whatever reason, I came home feeling refreshed and better than I've felt in a while. It's magic, I tell you. Thanks again, Sue. You don't know how much good you've done for me.

Whirlwind Tour

Last week, Pam came out to visit for a change in scenery and a chance to visit some of the East Coast's favorite fiber spots. We drove a lot, ate a lot, bought a little, and had tea with Lucy Neatby. We also got to stay a couple of nights at my friend Marilyn's house in Halifax with her 20-month-old adorable Beardie boy Marcus (whom Dinah thinks is pretty cute), pick up some fabulous pink-and-purple flowered wellies on sale at L.L. Bean, and sail home on . In the process, we managed to pay visits to Spunky Eclectic, the Loop Cafe in downtown Halifax, the , the Yarn Basket in Portsmouth, a bunch of the antique stores on Route 1 between Kennebunk and Ogunquit, and even some non-fiber places. Pam taught me how to spin with a drop spindle, though we never really did get to sit down with the wheel. I did learn that my wheel isn't one for beginners -- but Pam put a drive band on it for me anyway.

Marcus loved the gen-yoo-wine BCCME stuffed lobster toy I brought for him. He loved it so much he ran through his backyard agility course without once letting go of it!

Pam has mentioned reviving her blog, and I hope she does so to showcase some of the beautiful photos she took on the trip. Here's just one example (this is Lunenburg Harbor, NS):

And Even Some Knitting

I really, truly, honestly didn't need any more sock yarn, which is why I only bought two skeins of the stuff during the course of our trip. My sister Joyce had taken a shine to a couple of the colorways of yarn (plus, as a vegetarian, she was tickled to be able to wear something made with soy in it) -- so I picked up a ball in Tender Foot, the black/pink/purple/white colorway, and started a pair for her. It knits up in lovely spirals of purple/white "tweed" punctuated with a spiraling "stripe" of black and pink. I'm almost done with the first cuff, and will be turning the heel any time now. This yarn is so cool, I may need to go back and get myself another ball of it (which I also won't need, but which I want). The Tofutsies socks-in-progress accompanied me to Sue's place.

And then there were . When we went out to Dartmouth to visit her, Lucy graciously allowed Pam and me to have the run of her downstairs stockroom. The colors were just such a feast for the eyes that I went into complete overload. It was all I could do to pick out the one skein in Fiery Fuchsia that was my one big souvenir of the trip to the Maritimes. (I am not counting the T-shirts I bought when I discovered I hadn't packed any...)

Oh, and Greg's gray Jawoll socks have enjoyed a bit of a revival of late. Since he was up in Bangor helping a friend move and I had an evening to myself, I turned the heel on the first sock and made it quite a ways down the foot while watching "The Queen" last night. A good time was had by all -- you might even call it Girl's Night In.

News of the Man

Poor Greg. Most of the time, his news gets squished into a paragraph or two somewhere in my long, rambling, always-behind-the-times blog updates. Lately, though, he's had so much going on that his news deserves a whole post of its own.

There I was, tooling down the southern coastal route of Nova Scotia toward Yarmouth and the , when Greg called. "Huge, amazing, wonderful news!" he said -- and he was right. Apparently is picking up the orchestral version of the Water Suite for . This is a fairly huge deal, since ERM has agreements with the Naxos label, with all of the big CD outlets such as Borders and Best Buy, and with practically every electronic outlet for music tracks, including iTunes and Napster. Pretty soon you can download The Man for 99 cents a track from iTunes! You won't be able to walk through a Borders bookstore without passing The Man in the Classical CDs section! Is this great, or what?!

The Czech Philharmonic and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra will be recording the works this summer in Prague. Greg says he probably won't go, but he will be able to talk to the conductor extensively before the sessions begin. If I had the available disposable income, I'd go to Prague -- not only could we sit in on the recording sessions/rehearsals, but we'd get to see .

Of course, the activity level around here has been raised to tornado status as Greg prepares all the materials he needs to send to ERM before the recording session starts. He updated his bio, and had me take some new head shots for the CD art:

(Isn't he gorgeous?!) I had wanted to shoot a candid of him playing the piano, but I would have had to Photoshop out all of the house mess in the background -- so that idea went noplace. We ended up shooting against the back of the house instead.

In more Water Suite news, the wants to perform the suite sometime in the future. Greg's in the process of getting all the parts together for the orchestra, and will get them sent off as soon as he can. For a community symphony orchestra, these folks appear to do more than their share of new music premieres. Kudos to them! So many musical organizations prefer to stick to Mozart (or in the case of the chorus I used to sing with, old tired show tunes) because it's "safe."

Water really is turning out to be his greatest hit thus far!

A couple of weekends ago he drove down to NYC to hear the world premiere of his solo violin piece Clayton Run-Around at the ACA Festival of New American Music. Minghuan Xu, the violinist, played the heck out of the piece and enjoyed it so much that she's asked Greg if she can use it as an encore at some of her upcoming performances. Greg wrote Clayton during our last trip to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. He was so taken with Cape Breton fiddling that he wrote this piece based on that style. The name "Clayton" comes from Clayton Farm (a working Red Angus cattle farm and B&B) in Mabou, NS, where we stayed for a few days. Clayton Farm is a well-known crossroads for musicians in that area, and Greg will be sending a CD and a copy of the score to the owner of the place.

Also within the space of the same week... Greg has also just found out that his bio will definitely appear in the 2008 edition of Who's Who in America. Now, not only can you find The Man in every Borders bookstore, but he'll also be available in every public library in the country. He says I get a mention in his bio -- so I guess I'll be in all the public libraries, too! (Look me up under "I'm With the Band.")

The Brass Quintet is finished, but Greg's not entirely sure what's next for the piece. He sent it off to the lead trumpeter of the brass quintet who asked for the piece, and the trumpeter (who had heretofore been enthused about it, even after reading the score) replied that it was unplayable by his ensemble, and then refused to say any more. I'm afraid I don't quite understand how this person could have been surprised by the difficulty of the piece after he's had a chance to read the score and was pretty damned chuffed about it at that time -- but either way, I'm not sure that whole Carnegie Recital Hall premiere thing is going to go off as hoped. Greg has no way of knowing whether the piece really is too hard for a brass quintet to play, or whether it's just too hard for that brass quintet to play. He's thinking of rescoring it for clarinets if he can't find ways to make it easier for brass.