Geez, I didn't mean to let this much time go by between blog postings. I can write them and post from anywhere, but I haven't had sufficient mental quiet and enough time in one spot to do much writing since the last time. I'll try and make it up to you here.
The Glory That Was Grease
Greg and I visit the Acton Fair at this time every year to get our fair share of saturated fats and to check out the antique tractor pull, the livestock, and the craft and produce exhibits. Compared to the Nebraska State Fair, the Acton Fair is microscopic -- but it's always fun for an afternoon. I love agricultural fairs -- I love the livestock, the jam jars, and the smell of wood smoke from the wood-burning stoves on sale.
The Man lives for the one time a year he can get fried chicken livers and onions from the Rotary Club grill at the fair. I tend to regard liver as dog show bait, not intended for voluntary human consumption; I can tolerate the smell, but I refuse to eat any. My arteries scream for mercy as I grow torn between the onion blossoms and the funnel cakes. At least the fresh-squeezed lemonade and the Hawaiian shaved ice make up for these dietary indiscretions by not throwing too many more calories after the first lot.
Sue has been known to exhibit her quilts and other handcrafted works at the Fair from time to time, though I didn't see anything with her name on it there this year. There were some lovely quilts this year, though fewer knitted items and not a lot of fine crochet. Maybe people just had less time this past year.
The Return of Rally-roo
Seamus and I haven't done a rally course together since June sometime. Our instructor's husband had a hip replacement this season and one of her Labs had a litter of puppies, so classes were suspended for a while. Between that and the fact that I've spent nearly every weekend at some dog show or other with Dinah, I haven't spent much time keeping our rally skills polished.
Since I'd already decided to eat the entries for this weekend's dog shows due to a lack of class bitches entered, Seamus and I were able to show up for class this morning. It was like Old Home Week -- all of the usual suspects were there with their dogs, and Judy was ecstatic to see us. It was hot in the sun and there were people practicing target shooting at the rod and gun club down the street, but Seamus and I managed to get through the course twice without looking too rusty. Seamus did decide to lie down and roll over in the middle of one exercise, but rally wouldn't be rally-roo without some antics from Seamus. People have come to count on him adding some comedy to the proceedings.
I've entered us in an APDT trial at the end of October at Gemini Dog Training. There's nothing lie an upcoming trial to give us a little focus. We need 7 more Level 1 legs to get Seamus's Level 1 championship (RL1X), and we might even try Level 2 for the first time. Heaven help us.
The Royal Treatment
Greg and I eat at The Weathervane fairly often. The seafood's fresh and very reasonably priced, plus I'm a major-league sucker for their highly addictive onion rings. I'm on their email list, and I hardly remember entering the sweepstakes to win a clambake for 4 people... but I won! I received an email from their corporate office announcing that fact. When I called to give them the mailing information for the certificate, one of the executives offered to meet us at the Sanford office at dinnertime to award me the certificate in person and to take my picture for the Web site.
Would you believe it -- when Greg and I pulled up there, the huge sign in the front was emblazoned with "WELCOME, WINNER CLAMBAKE FOR 4" and my name all over the place. Or something like that. I was just amazed that they'd made such a big deal of it.
We entered the restaurant, and I mentioned to the hostess that Jeremy (the executive) was waiting to meet us. Her face lit up and she said, "He's in the kitchen, and he's waiting for you." Jeremy emerged a minute later and cheerily escorted us to our table. He brought the certificate to our table, and he, the hostess, and our waitress made sure that we had a great dinner and everything we needed.
When it came time to pay, our waitress departed the table with the check and my MasterCard, and returned a moment later saying, "Jeremy picked up the check. You don't owe anything." This was above and beyond -- we'd just been treated to two dinners instead of just one. The manager snapped pictures of Jeremy and me at two of the signs -- including the big one with my name all over it. I wish I'd worn something nicer, but it was 93 degrees out, and I wasn't feeling terribly fashionable.
Anyway, Greg and I decided to use the gift certificate when his cousin from BC and his wife come out to visit in the fall. We can show them a good time and some good seafood then.
Juggling Music News
Greg has been working on three different pieces simultaneously. I don't know how he does it. Most of the time, he focuses on one at a time and develops it until it's either finished or until another piece takes higher priority. These days, he's been juggling not only compositions, but music reviews. He's been writing those by the bucketload, both for CDs and for sheet music.
One of his curently-forming compositions is an art song for voice (soprano or tenor) and piano called The Waking. I've mentioned this one before -- it's based on a poem of the same name by Theodore Roethke. Greg did a semi-draft version of the song one semester while he was at BU, as part of a class assignment from Lukas Foss. He has decided to flesh the song out more fully, so it's back in the compositional queue.
He was also inspired to start another piano piece called Les Sept Merveilles (The Seven Wonders). He had been watching a special on TV about the Seven Wonders of the World -- this happened while I was in BC and my clothes were in London -- and he decided to start a piano suite using the idea. It's going to be a big, big piece, and he'll be at it a while. He's also eager to explore some compositional ideas that mark his return to the French models (Ravel and Debussy). He's been immersed in Beethoven (and before him, Bach) for a while, but he finds that it's time for a change.
He's also still banging on the Brass Quintet some. He's asked a couple of brass players he knows from Curtis to look over the piece, since Pine Tree Brass won't be able to play it. He wants to make sure that it actually is playable by sufficiently experienced brass players before he dismantles it for parts. One horn player replied that he thought it was very difficult, but certainly playable. The other one is still thinking on it.
Dinah Moe and I have been practicing herding, as much as we can in the heat. Since she's still wearing a full show coat, she doesn't feel like doing much when the sun is pounding down. I'm hoping for cooler weather when we go to our very first herding trial on Labor Day weekend. Otherwise, she's liable to just seek the shade and let me herd the damn sheep myself. I only hope we don't stink out there. We really aren't prepared for this.
All This and Knitting Too
It's been too hot to read yarn catalogs, let alone pick up the actual physical stuff and knit. I have been making progress in baby steps on two different socks, though. I've reached the gusset decrease on the second of Joyce's Tofutsies socks. I still don't understand how two socks from the same ball can look so drastically different, but I'll try to pass it off as a by-product of that old handmade charm. At least the colors haven't pooled - they just present two completely different patterns under the exact same conditions.
For "idiot knitting," I've also cast on the cuff for the second Sockotta sock, from a pair I started ages ago. I love this yarn, even if cotton isn't as forgiving to knit as wool. At least it gives you predictable results, anyway -- the second sock in this pair is going to look just like the first sock. Quiz time: guess which brand of yarn I'll buy again...