Thursday, January 15, 2015

With a little help from my friend ...

To be honest, it's not all that helpful. But it is fun and he's just so adorable and sweet.

At rehearsal last night we read through Schubert's 5th symphony. I've had the music for a bit and worked over it with my teacher so it wasn't a cold reading for me. Ever so beautiful.

Last week we read through Beethoven's 4th symphony and it was an utter and complete joy. I found myself tearing up occasionally over the exquisite beauty of it, and the realization that there I was, playing along and contributing to this glorious music. Oh what a joy it is to play a stringed instrument in an orchestra. I can say I know no other experience like it. Sure indeed, I dropped out a few measures here and there -- it was, after all, a cold read and I've only been playing four years -- but for great chunks of it I was there. Such a happy experience.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Red cloth ...

The cloth that stood still. Honestly, it was on the loom for months and I simply was not making progress. It was a most uninteresting material to weave, for reasons I cannot quite fathom. My suspicion falls on the fact that every row was doubled, in other words, every treadle was used two times in a row with a shot of tabby in between. The effect was to make it seem twice as slow to weave as would be otherwise. That's the only thing I can think of.

At any rate, it's off the loom and I made enough for a vest. Indeed, it's an attractive material. Shown here draped over my Pfaff sitting on my prized 1910 Singer. (Thank you Aunties. :))

On a New Year's Eve visit to my neighbor (the woman I purchased my house from) I was introduced to a program called Local Foods Plymouth, an ingenious set up whereby we can browse the web site and place an order for locally raised and grown produce, meats, dairy, baked goods, confections, etc. The window for ordering is Sun. to Wed. and pickup day is Thurs. at the local UPS store (in the summer, pickup is at the farmer's market). I'm calling it "armchair farmer's market" and it's fabulous! I just love it.

I placed my first order last week, and seeing how the meat is locally and humanely raised, I requested a pound each of ground beef and pork (also on my list was some delicious granola, a dozen eggs, and some cheese). Today I made tourtiere. Yes, it's post-holiday but "better late than never" couldn't be more true! Oh my my, the house smelled good while it was simmering down over the course of 3 hours. The pie is delicious of course. Ooooh, I do love these.

The day ends on a good note seeing how I got the kitchen sink unclogged earlier in the evening. It clogged up last night and I couldn't budge it. Very hot water, baking soda, vinegar, and a plunger finally did the trick.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Not knitting ...

Being on a short break from the needles doesn't mean I'm void of projects to work on. Au contraire.

I've picked up the third of the medieval needlepoints by Candice Bahouth. This one is a pheasant (squirrel and rabbit are done) but in fact, there is no pattern for it in the book. There is a picture of a finished canvas on the cover of the book and it's just clear enough that I can follow it. Since it's in the same series as the other three patterns that are in the book, the palette is similar and I don't have to guess too much. It's quite a nice looking pheasant and in my opinion, it's a little bit more challenging than either the squirrel or rabbit:

My favorite time-of-day to needlepoint are in the morning, either with, or just after coffee; and also at night after the day's work is done. Ciello has shown a keen interest in every task I pick up and the needlepoint is no exception. I'm becoming smitten with the adorable little creature.

Also in the works are a couple of scarves using some yarn I spun up last summer. The fiber is wool/silk from Ashland Bay. The weaving pattern is called "Gothic Cross". There are a few versions of the draft based on the order of treadling one uses. The one I chose is more open and less condensed than the others I've seen. It's difficult to distinguish the pattern in pictures of the unfinished cloth:

But progress has been a tad slow since Ciello's arrival due to the fact that it's considerably cooler upstairs where the loom is. I can't take him up there and I'm not keen on having him sit in a cage all alone while there's a flock of birds in one room and me in another. Poor little thing. But I have a plan: Some years ago I purchased 2 very large and beautiful bird cages. They are meant for large parrots to give you an idea. They almost went up for sale when I made the move but I ended up taking them with me and now I'm glad I did. I'm going to move one of them into the bird room and Ciello will be able to spend time in it whilst being protected from the other bird's possible aggression. When his feathers are grown in I'll slowly start to introduce him to the flock.

Since it is so cool upstairs but nice and cosy down here with the thermo set a little higher for Ciello, I moved my work equipment down to the kitchen table for the duration. It's quite nice to work without a blanket over my legs! Especially seeing how it was -16 degrees this morning when I got up. It was 10 this afternoon, a full 26 degrees warmer, and it felt positively balmy!!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winded ...

... seems the best word to describe my feelings coming out of the holiday season this year. Coping and adjusting to some new realities, and feeling a bit, well, winded. In the meantime,

Onward ...

I spent a lovely Christmas at one of my few surviving Aunts. She's 92 years old and I hadn't seen her in decades. She's my aunt through marriage, having married one of my father's brothers. She helped one of her daughters cook a lovely meal; several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were there too. I brought her one of the shawls I knit this autumn. She looks lovely in it:

Looking back on it, it really was a lovely day.

New Years was good for me for very personal reasons. I've continued my inward journey since my psychotherapy ended some years ago. The search for answers has not lapsed, and some of you will know by now that my search involves music making, body awareness, and what Thich Nhat Hanh calls "observation meditation". In truth, I work pretty hard at it, and in earnest. New Years morning delivered an answer to a problem going back more than 50 years. It left me feeling euphoric all day. The journey and the breakthroughs continue. Happy.

An unexpected development over the weekend. A quilting acquaintance of mine wrote and asked if I'd be interested in taking her tamed lovebird. She has recently acquired a new puppy and it's apparently a bit too aggressive for little Ciello. How could I refuse? For the second time in my life I'm caring for a sweet, charming, friendly, tame little bird. He's been perched on my shoulder almost the entire day today. His wings were clipped (not a practice I condone, by the way) so he needs quite a bit of attention until his feathers grow in again. I hope to eventually introduce him to the "flock", when he can fly again.

Since I can't place him in the bird room right now I've had to turn the heat up. For the next little while I'll enjoy it at 68 in here. Up to now, 62 has been suiting me quite well. Work at the piano and cello usually keep me feeling comfortable at that temp.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree ...

Just a table top this year. Not sure why I didn't feel like floor to ceiling; table top seems to fit my current lifestyle better I suppose. More manageable and just as beautiful.

I've been doing some work on the organ since that little video was made. The keys are now all much whiter, some dust has been removed from inside, and the Vox Humana stop has been fixed. After the holidays I will align the keys so they are all the same height and make some minor (I hope) cabinet repairs.

So far (knock on wood) this winter has been easier than last though I did get some fish-tail practice in a week ago driving back from the bus station, returning from NY. We have less snow (so far) and the temps have been manageable. The blue jays are back and they're ever so pretty to watch at the bird feeder. I absolutely delight in the chick-a-dees of the black-capped variety which also visit. Their sweet song brings pings of happiness across the cold landscape. I answer them back and like to think that their next exclamation is a response but I can't be sure it is. But it's a nice dream. Maybe, you know. Yes, maybe they are responding. There were also some mourning doves by the feeder this week. Theirs is a gentle and reassuring lullaby to my ears.

There are tracks in the snow but I don't know if they are deer or moose or something else on the loose. My neighbors have seen bobcat.

Oh!... the trip to NY. I lost my knitting! Haha, I did. Left it on the bus. I remember getting up to use the restroom and noticed that the plastic bag with my knitting in it was hard to see against the dark floor and I made a note that I'd better pick it up. Well even though I looked around my seat carefully before disembarking it was left behind. Good thing I hadn't made much progress on it yet. I called lost & found but nothing there. Oh well. On to some slippers which I need! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Is there anything more magical and beautiful than an almost full moon's rays on a snow-covered landscape? Perfect lighting, blue and black, misty highlights, artful shadows. Sigh. The spectacle hints at the depths of nature, and the perfectness of it all; oh joy in it's beauty. Debussy comes to mind. Perhaps I will record Clair de Lune soon.

Temps in the teens tonight. The crisp chilliness adds to the sensual delight of the out-of-doors. One desires to witness an apparition--a wolf perhaps, a fox, or a moose. Spirits of these woods. Speaking of which, I spotted my third in a week just the other day. As I was on my way into Plymouth on Thanksgiving day I encountered 2 moose: One very large, and one younger lolling about Halls Brook Road. Saw another one Tuesday. My goodness! What a thrill to see them in person. I had to slow down quite a lot so as not to hit the larger one and I did fear it would try to attack my car, but no, it just wanted to cross the road I guess. Oh how majestic they are.

Changing the subject, last night was my first experience rehearsing in a string orchestra. As you know, I'm pretty new to cello--it was 4 years ago in November that I started at the ripe young age of 54. So my sight reading ability is not up to reading much beyond basics. I had prepared for the night by downloading the sheet music from the Petrucci Music Library (IMSLP)--can you believe such a glorious resource exists!!--and had started to go over bowings and fingerings with my teacher. We focused most of our attention on the Schubert (Symphony #5), and wouldn't you know, last night we spent the entire rehearsal on Brahms! (Variations on a Theme by Haydn) I did my best. Which is to say that the movements in Bb major were somewhat doable, but the minor movements (5 flats) gave me an opportunity to listen and follow along, playing a few bits here and there. They will require some practice time alone.

It was very enjoyable. I'm glad I broke the ice. It had me a little nervous coming into it--had an anxiety dream about it over the weekend, but it's a nice group and I think I'll be able to learn a lot from participating.

Such beautiful music. Worth looking up if you're not familiar with these two pieces.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This and that and a lull

Just a slight one. It's such a busy time of year and the past week has been full. Too full to do much knitting; probably 6 rows at most. But I'll catch up when the frenzy dies down.

Car inspection, registration, start the snow blower, use the snow blower, clean a bit, re-arrange a bit in preparation for the upcoming holidays, finish some home projects such as painting the upstairs bathroom, put a shelf in above my desk, and find ways to make housekeeping easier. But not too easy, joy is in the doing, after all. Just a little easier like moving the toaster oven to a more convenient location and cleaning the cast iron cookware.

I'm not worried about the knitting taking a rest. It's a good thing now and then. I must say I've been on quite a lace kick since mid-summer.

Discovered some new to me music recently. I find it enormously exciting to discover an artist I've never heard of before, even though they may have been around for some time. Such are the two recent musicians whose music I recently stumbled upon. Absolutely love their music.

A young man who goes by the name Passenger:

And a man named Jose Gonzalez:

Part of the recent home improvements has been an effort to make my Christmas cactus happier. It's in its second year with me and is blossoming just beautifully. I've had it resting on a wooden board protruding from the window sill, so on Sunday I made a brand new macramé holder for it. I'm happy because it looks so much nicer than the board it replaces, and I think the cactus is happy to have a brand new house.

Did I mention the beloved snow blower? Yes I did. I started it up this afternoon for it's first run of the season. Snow started falling around 1pm and has been going non-stop. Several inches already. So absolutely gorgeous up in these hills, and when the snow blower is not running there's a most soothing silence and stillness. Luckily I was able to get one last walkabout the labyrinth yesterday and I suspect that will be the last until spring thaw. It felt really good to walk it after a week-and-a-half, like a breath of fresh air, a bath for the soul.

I picked up some Balsam Fir incense over the weekend. Do you remember it? I love the stuff (brings back memories) and what a atmosphere it creates inside the house. In the high days of summer the sense is of wanting the outdoors to flow in, around, and out of the house--blurring the lines between inside and out. Now, approaching the depths of winter, these walls are a solid barrier creating very distinct inside and outside spaces, thankfully. Indoor heating. Now there's something I'm thankful for on this eve of Thanksgiving. And modern medicine, and transportation, and convenience. So much to be thankful for. And I, personally, have much to be thankful for.

Tomorrow I'll join some homeless students at Plymouth State Univ, along with a few professors, and my neighbor (who invited me) and her college-aged children for a Thanksgiving dinner. I think it's going to be quite lovely.

Last but not least, I'm joining a community orchestra with my cello. First rehearsal will be next Wednesday evening. I'll report back.