Sunday, November 18, 2007

Photos from Man Paradise and Other Stuff

(photos in this post by Ann Northrup)

Greg's been having the time of his life in Wyoming this week. He gets to work when he wants to, run when he wants to, and his lunches get delivered to his cabin while he's working so he won't be disturbed. The Foundation employs a professional chef who makes some incredible meals. They treat him so well out there he might never come home!

He did ask the Foundation whether he could stay another week, but another composer is coming just after Greg leaves -- so there's no room for him. He has to come home. In the spirit of fairness, he's not allowed to apply for 2 1/2 years after he's done a residency there, but you can bet he'll have his application ready to go the minute those 2 1/2 years are up.

He also mentioned to me that the other artists he's met there are all folks who have been turned down multiple times by Yaddo and McDowell, so he no longer feels like he's the only one they've turned their noses up at repeatedly. That makes him feel better about being rejected.

He's promised me some photos of the outdoors today, if the wi-fi connection there cooperates. Here's one of the hills outside the Foundation:

Here are a couple of interior shots:

This one shows Greg playing the piano in his work cabin. There's one in the main building, too (a converted railroad depot that now contains the bedrooms for all of the artists and the communal space). It's a 7-foot Kawai, and he loves the heck out of it. He likes the piano in his cabin well enough, but he looooooves that Kawai.

The one photo I have of the living room is kind of dark and not really good enough to post, but there are quite a few pictures of the kitchen and dining area. I wish mine looked like this...

I promise some pictures of the Bighorn Mountains and the big sky when he sends them along.

Greg was feeling uncertain as to which of his works to concentrate on while he's out there. He had three pieces on his "to do" list: Ongiara, There and Back Again, and Les sept merveilles. He's finding in practice that he really only wants to concentrate on Les sept merveilles, and he was feeling a teeny bit bad about not wanting to make progress on the others. Les sept, or The Seven Wonders, is a piece for solo piano and very involved, so he's decided to take advantage of the time and the two pianos at his disposal to work on that one. He can pretty much work on the other two anywhere, since he already has the basic architecture of both pieces figured out, and all he has to do is write the music to fit the scheme. The Seven Wonders still needs to be constructed before it can be filled in. He describes it as "incredibly dense, denser than the usual Man harmony."

Here's a photo he took of The Seven Wonders on the piano in his cabin, facing out the window:

Quick musical aside: He says that The Waking will be premiered in NYC next June at the ACA concerts.

Meanwhile, Back at the Homestead...

It's been deadline time at work, so things have been just too wacky for me to get very much done anywhere else. I had grand visions of carting half the crap in the house to the Treasure Chest at the transfer station and cleaning the house so well that Greg wouldn't recognize the place. Neither thing has happened, though I'm making progress in reducing Mount Laundry and in replacing stuff that really needed to be replaced, including a dying lamp in the living room, a busted window blind in the bedroom, and my worn-out moccasins. I've also ordered the new storm door. I'd hoped to be able to just point at it and have it delivered, but our door frame is about 5" too short for the standard size. It has to be a special order... ka-ching!

I'm looking forward to finishing up the dog-show year next weekend. There weren't enough entries in Fitchburg to bother going down there (mainly because some genius decided to hold the Minuteman Club's 35th anniversary party that weekend, so no one from Massachusetts will be going to the show). I wish I'd known that before I paid the entry fees. There goes another $50+ that could have gone toward something worthwhile, like yarn.

While We're on That Subject...

Fran and I were able to get away from our respective packs long enough to attend an Open Knit Night up at Rosemary's in Cornish on Friday night. I've never minded knitting by myself, but it's nice to be able to get out and join a group every so often. The knitters up at Rosemary's are all congenial, and we had ourselves a fine time. I brought Jody's Jawoll socks to the party. Fran worked on a pair of mittens. There were a couple of people working on Cat Bordhi's Moebius cowl with help from Cheryl, the resident instructor, and a couple of other folks knitting the same sweater from Knitting Pure and Simple.

I was strong -- I didn't succumb to the lure of all those rooms of yarn singing "come hither." That's not only a good thing, but a necessary one. I've just had a good hard look at my own stash, and I could probably open my own store.

I just dragged the yarn stash out from the bedroom closet (where I hid it before Greg's cousins came to visit), and I was staggered yet again by the sheer amount of stuff I'd stuck in there. In the name of home improvement, I picked up three of the biggest translucent plastic tubs that Wally World has to offer and stuck most of the stash in those. My tastes have changed radically since I learned to knit a few years ago, and I'm no longer interested in most of the novelty yarns I've picked up. I'm still knitting scarves on request, but even Susannah (who loves scarves and novelty yarn) would admit that I've acquired too much of a good thing. Might be time to put some of this stuff up for adoption.

My current "Idiot Knitting" project is a little skinny scarf for Susannah in black Berroco Bling Bling. The name of the yarn really turns me off, but the yarn is pleasant enough to work with and knits up nicely. I've hit the gusset decrease on the first of the Jawoll socks, so I have to pay a little bit of attention there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dispatches from Man Paradise

I razz Greg all the time about "Man Paradise," which is our nickname for the downstairs family room. Because I rarely go down there, Greg has decorated the place in all his typical manly squalor -- I mean splendor. He has the downstairs TiVo filled to overflowing with reruns of dusty old "Star Trek" episodes (I am the only person in the computer industry who's sick to death of "Star Trek"). The treadmill and exercise bike are set up to accommodate him. Because he'll happily eat the same things every day and likes to water down everything he drinks, I kid him that he takes his gummy microwaved spaghetti and his watered-down water down to Man Paradise every night for his workout.

This explains why I had to squelch a chuckle or two when Greg called from Wyoming yesterday to proclaim that "It's Paradise!" Not that I'm surprised. If you could put together a collection of Greg's favorite things, including mountains and grand pianos, you'd probably get Ucross. This residency is probably going to be the quickest two weeks in his entire life -- but he should be coming home with inspiration enough to last him for at least another year.

He says he took about 100 photos yesterday, and will send me some of the best ones when the network comes back up out there. Apparently the winds knocked something around last night, with the result that Internet access went down. At least the cell phone signal is strong enough to keep in touch.


As for the rest of us, we're muddling along. After I dropped Greg off at the airport on Sunday, I did what any red-blooded American woman would do when the Man goes out of town: I went shoe- and yarn-shopping. (Honest, the yarn-shopping part was an accident. I took Route 1 toward Freeport to buy a new pair of moccasin slippers, and the yarn store pulled my car off the road and sucked me in through the door, no matter how hard I struggled to resist. I was forced to buy some of the new Regia sock yarn by Kaffe Fassett, plus some black Berroco Bling Bling for a scarf for Susannah. It was an accident, I tell you!)

My mercantile-therapy excursions haven't stopped there; I stopped over at Lowes to take an in-person look at a storm door I found on their Web site. It's a Larson brand metal storm door that has a large-sized doggie door built right in! That's my idea of Paradise -- no one barking at me to open the door while I'm trying to think (this means you, Charlie Brown). This could mean a whole new level of productivity for me! Isn't technology wonderful? (Hey, Reading Public: I'm eager to hear reviews. If you have one of these doors, could you please leave a comment about it?)

A long time ago, I remember reading an Erma Bombeck column about how much she enjoyed book tours and hotel rooms, because she had the time and the quiet to do things she normally didn't get to do at home, such as paint her toenails in bed. I keep telling myself that these two weeks on my own will be filled with pedicures and bonbons, but really -- who's kidding whom here? I don't even wear toenail polish. I'm thinking I might just take half the junk in the house to the Treasure Chest at the local transfer station before Greg gets back, though.

I took The Lovely One to the beach on Saturday...

Productive People

mentions on her blog that she's learning to spin! Woo hoo! She's been wanting to try it out for a long time, and she was welcomed with open arms at a local spinners' gathering a few months ago.

A bunch of my friends have taken up spinning, including and . I'm not yet sure whether spinning is for me, even after Pam patiently taught me the basics while she was visiting. I just didn't take to it the way I'd hoped I would. Maybe that's just as well. If I'm having trouble finding room in a 9-room house (with a garage and a barn) to fit a yarn stash, just imagine what the space issues would be like with a roving stash to squeeze in someplace!

I finished the Sockotta socks a little while ago. They please me because I can reliably match up the stripes on the two socks with this yarn, instead of knitting along on faith (as I have with the Trekking and Tofutsies yarns) and come out with two socks that at least show some family resemblance. I'm a bit on the anal side when it comes to making stuff match.

Next on the sock needles: the Jawoll socks in autumnal colors for Jody. The Trekking socks were originally intended for her, but I was so put off by the mismatch in the two socks that I kept this pair and am knitting her another from yarn that won't let me down in the perfection department.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Go West, Mr. Man!

Here's a shot of Greg dancing with the lovely and talented Miss Dinah Moe. Pop Quiz: Which one has two left feet?

(Actually, they're both pretty good dancers, though Dinah's talents lie more in the realm of aerial ballet.)

The Man is headed west on Sunday for his two-week residency at Ucross. He's been packing for a couple of days now -- hiking stuff here, computer monitor there. I take him to the airport on Sunday after he's done with church, and then he's off to live inside his head full-time until just before Thanksgiving. They'll even bring him his lunch so he can work all day without interruptions, and his cabin doesn't have a TV. (Heck, where do I sign up??)

He thinks he'll be spending much of his Ucross time working on Les sept merveilles (The Seven Wonders). He says of that piece that it's possibly the most intense piece he's ever written, and that he had to finish working through The Waking before he could figure out how to approach it. He has been working with headphones on, so I literally haven't heard more than two notes of the piece. He expects to spend a goodly amount of his composing time at Ucross giving it life and form. I wouldn't be surprised if he came home with a new idea or two, either.

The Waking is essentially done, except for some minor cleanup. On occasion, I've also heard phrases from There and Back Again, which is also somewhere close to being finished -- I think. Until Greg declares a piece to be done and stamps the place and date of completion on it, it's still open for changes.

The Man has actually had quite a lot of news of late. Who's Who in America has now officially left the presses and has started arriving at every public library in the country -- and Greg's in it! He ordered a copy for himself, and it came in two ginormous volumes. Volume 1 bears his name on the front cover and contains his biography (as well as those of everyone else who is Who for 2008). I'm in it too -- listed under Life Partner. I always did love libraries, and now I'm in every one in the country, too.

Greg was so tickled when his copies arrived that he opened up the index of names in Volume 2 and pointed to all of the ones where no address was listed (he did so for privacy reasons). "Look! There's Jon Stewart! Look! There's Zach Braff!" You get the idea. At least in the second volume, the talented and adorable Mr. Hall (Greg, not Monty) rubs shoulders with column upon column of noteworthy persons.

The local papers run columns of community news for the various towns that constitute their readership, and each community has a local reporter. Greg called the Biddeford Journal-Tribune, figuring that he'd get a nice little one-liner in the column for our town, right next to the school cafeteria menu and the Cub Scouts' meeting notes. Was he surprised when the paper sent a reporter and a photographer for an interview and several photos! He ended up in the top right corner of page 1 in last Friday's edition, and the article with a huge second photo ran on page 2.

Of course, we needed to buy several copies for friends, relatives, our bulletin board, and posterity. I stopped into the Irving station and picked up four copies after pumping gas. The cashier looked at the papers, looked at me, and shyly asked, "Do you mind if I ask you something?"

"Sure," I replied, uncertain whether I'd have to give a long spiel about the state of modern classical composition.

"Did someone die? Another lady just left here with another stack of those papers."

2008 might well be the Year of the Man. The 21st Century Masterworks anthology, featuring the orchestral version of his Water suite (the one that was recorded in Prague this summer), will be available in March 2008 in every outlet from Borders Books to ITunes. We never did see a master CD from that session. It might still be in production at this point.

The Sax Quartets CD might be released sometime next year, too. It should have been recorded at Town Hall in NYC a couple of months ago, but the recording engineer has contracted Lyme disease and wasn't feeling well enough to do the sessions. He hopes to get back into the booth and get the sessions going soon. Two of the pieces have already been recorded, and the New Hudson Sax Quartet will get extra time to learn the other three works in the meantime.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Dinah Moe turned 2 years old this past Saturday. This video is actually of litter sister Buffy, but I couldn't say it any better myself. Happy Birthday, Puppy Princesses!