Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's a funny thing about heredity: sometimes your kids get these amazing gifts and you have no idea where they came from. Or they have this magnification of some small gift one of the parents had. For example, Daughter #1.

I have a little bit of talent in writing. I can spell everything correctly, and usually put in all the correct forms of grammar, etc. I love listening to stories, and can tell stories, but just basically. Daughter #1 can do all the spelling and grammarring, but when she tells a story, you are CAPTIVATED! Not just by the story, but by the words and phrases she chooses. She can capture a character such that you can see that person in your mind, and you know them! As her stories unfold, you hang on every sentence. So where did THAT come from, I wonder?

I am also pretty social. I can understand what people are saying behind what they are actually saying. I can keep people from getting mad at me. Usually. But Daughter #2 is amazing. She can tell what people WANT to hear, and she'll tell them that (if it's true), or she'll throw the truth in their face in a manner that does not offend them! She has more friends than would fit in a black book, and she went to every dance in high school.

Handsome Husband is very good at math. He can calculate mortage payments in his head!! Small Son looks to be the same way, although he doesn't even know what a mortgage is. We only have to explain a mathematical concept to him one time, and he gets it. He can do multiplication in his head, not even having been taught it at school. It makes me green with envy!! Addition and subtraction are cake. He can figure out story problems without any problem. He is amazing.

I'm still waiting to find out what Daughter #3's talent is.

Genetic recombination is mind-boggling. With just 4 proteins, billions of different people have been created, and billions more are on the way. Same with pipes: with just 9 notes, millions of tunes have been created and more are on tap. I guess cuz it's human brainpower behind the tunes, we haven't gotten to the extreme numbers that tyrosein, cytosein, glycine, and the other one (whose name I've forgotten. Leucine?) have got to.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Another jam-packed day.

Work was, of course, 0330-1400. Then we raced to see our Christmas Day movie (two days late) way down in the south part of the valley at 1510. That lasted until 1730, at which time we raced Handsome Husband to his Youth activity (he's a leader, not a Youth) and then Small Son to his friend's house downtown, then back to pick up HH then home to call the ailing people I'm in charge of tracking, plus 2 that I am not in charge of. Come to find out that my visiting teacher, Irmgard P, spent Christmas in the hospital, ALONE!! and my neighbor knew about it, having taken her to the hospital at oh-dark-hundred Christmas morning and never said anything about it to us (RS Presidency) so we didn't go see her. Also Sandy N had to have more fluid drained off her abdomen and her cancer is back with a Vengance and she's not feeling well at all.

Today I'll be helping my neighbor pack and clean for moving right after work. No Park City today, but probably no practice, either. Crivens. And I just got the "recital" email: It's going to be on 19Jan2008. I'll probably do the group thing, but not a solo. I don't have a solo instructor to tell me what to play. Thank goodness. I don't know if I ever told that story. I'll check back through the entries, and if I haven't, I'll tell it later.I did tell that story. See my entry from 14 September of this year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

We didn't box things up to take to the poor or our servants (Ha! Those are now called "children"). Instead, I worked until 1400 then we drove frantically an hour and 7 minutes north to Huntsville, UT, up through a beautiful canyon, through falling snow, and arrived at the Huntsville Stake Center where a friend of Small Son's was getting baptized. This is a tiny girl whose parents are divorced; her father lives in our ward and her mother lives in Huntsville. She is very quiet and I had never heard her say a word until yesterday. I think the divorce really shook her up, and her parents are going to pay for this later; for now, she is just very quiet and withdrawn and sad.

Usually at a baptism, you feel the spirit very strongly. Maybe it was just me, but I did not feel it at all at that baptism. It was probably just me.

It was pretty cold, and we were all dressed in Sunday clothes (i.e. not a lot of insulation, even tho we had sweaters on). After the baptism, I gave our present for Kenya to Small Son and he disappeared with it, then came right back. A few minutes later when I found Kenya, I shook her hand to congratulate her and asked if she remembered me. She nodded, and then she SAID, "Teancum gave me the present." She does have a voice, and she knows how to use it. I shook the bishop's hand and her father's, then we went outside to find Handsome Husband, as he had moved the car and then disappeared to try to find his brother by cell phone. We walked all the way around the building in the crisp snow and cold air and did not find him, but we DID find a flock of wild turkeys (I kid you not!) sauntering down the middle of the street, or eating old berries off the bushes next to the church. We kept walking and watching what the turkeys did. They were not very afraid of us, but still would not let us get very close to them. When one got separated from the flock and we got too near, it took off flying to join its mates!! It was pretty amazing. You don't see wild turkeys very often.

Then we drove off to Liberty, UT to try and find Uncle Jared, but didn't find much of anybody. We even tried to call all the Wheelers in Liberty and Eden (2) but got one busy signal and one no answer. So we took the scenic pass home, stopping to have dinner at Javier's in Ogden and looking at all the Christmas lights they have in Ogden on the way. We got home about 6:00 and I went to bed shortly after. No practice time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's been a Sad Christmas and a Blazingly Happy Christmas, all rolled together. I"ll give you the Sad first, so as to end on a happy note, hmmm?

My baby sister spent this Christmas in a teensy trailer pretty much alone, having filed divorce papers on her 2nd husband in October. She was very lonely, and although she kept talking about how far she was running every day (8 miles; hello Uncle Iroh), it was heartbreaking to hear her. I listened to her for a long time telling about the antics of her cat and her neighbors.

My friend Sandy N has restarted chemotherapy for her uterine cancer. The doctors predict she will die of it, as did her mother and aunt, but are not sure when. She was exhausted and nauseous for Christmas.

On the happy side, it snowed 6" on Christmas eve, and Small Son and Handsome Husband and I went out in it to shovel the driveway and sidewalks. Robert B's father, whose kidneys have been refusing to work for awhile, had them show up for work again a week ago, so that family was very happy.

My friend Lois and I have been plotting and planning all season around the Christmas of our mutual friend, Connie, who is somewhat of a Grinch and doesn't do trees or lights or festive earrings or sweaters or carols or anything, and who lost her father and a beloved aunt several months ago, within weeks of each other. Wanting to share a little of the love of the season, we got her a personalized needlepoint stocking and filled it with silly things for her 2 black labs, and little things for her. We each contributed one dog present and one Connie-present. My contribution was a squeaky rubber chicken, a chocolate orange, and a copy of Love Actually, a movie about how the people around you are the most precious gifts of Christmas. Lois contributed some chew-bones and . . . um . . . something, I can't remember what she said she gave Connie, and as it was wrapped when I got it . . . Anyway, on Sunday night, the 23rd, about 10pm, Small Son and I snuck over to her house, hung the stuffed stocking on her doorknob, and ding-dong-ditched her. We tried to see when she opened the door to get it, but since we didn't want to be seen, either, we were unsuccessful. HOWEVER, when we got home, the phone rang and it was Connie and she acted very Un-Grinchly and thanked me for my efforts and I babbled because I was so excited to be able to give her something for Christmas. It's my favorite part of Christmas: giving people things they will like. Connie seemed very touched. So that was wonderful fun.

We had enough electric candles for every window visible from the front, and even had 2 left over for Small Son's room in the back so he could have the Christmas Spirit in his room, too, and our house looked beautiful without any Going Outside and Attaching Lights to High and Cold Places. As Daughter #2 says, that made me happy.

The pie crust and dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls ALL came out beautifully!! Yay!!

And the presents I found for people were well-calculated. For Daughter #1, the first season of Dr. Who and a hand-knitted tam to replace the one that was stolen, plus a matching pair of mittens. Wah-hoo!!! For Daughter #2, two jackets and a Minnie Mouse nurse watch and some earrings that will not hurt her ears. Wah-hoo!!! For Daughter #3, a 10" Ang the Avatar action figure that lights up and says Avatar-like things when you press the secret button, plus a How To Draw the Avatar book. Wah-hoo!!!! For Small Son, a small set of bagpipes and some flannel Harry Potter sheets. Wah-hoo!!! For Handsome Husband, a new bedside radio, a balaclava for bicycling, and a mat to watch TV on the floor if he wants. Wah-hoo!!! People were squealing for joy yesterday morning opening those. As for me, I got the much-longed-for ghillie brogues, in LEATHER with rubber soles, in the correct size, plus a DVD of The Court Jester with Danny Kaye and the book Zorro by Isabelle Allende, and a cookie press machine which I have not had the chance to try out yet, and Small Son gave me a pair of kitchen shears so fancy they don't even deserve the title, so I have taken to calling them "zans" after Dr. Seuss' mythical beast--if his creations are mythical--and 2 square brownie-lifters, and I also received an apron that looks like a kilt and vest with a loaded and set mousetrap in the sporran. Wah-HOOOO!!!

It was a very full Christmas, and I am very grateful.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Last week Thursday we had a discussion about whether or not to have a lesson this week, so close to Christmas. Everybody agreed that we would all be there. So despite the heavily falling snow and other issues, I loaded Angus into the car and headed south last night.
Sande was there, and Drew showed up late. That was it. We had some guys from Sean's beginner class join us and we watched a DVD from 2007 World's and talked about birls and how to do them correctly and quickly. It rained the whole competition, so they all looked miserable. It was a subdued lesson. At the end we did get out pipes and play through our medley. It went beautifully. We played the jig so fast it felt like going down the mountain on a motorcycle where you know if you apply brakes you'll just start skidding sideways. I almost panicked, it was so fast. So I had to stop thinking aboutit, and just do it. I suspect that we sounded so good due to the fact that Garth and Lee were not there; they're still learning, and tend to mess up the tunes. Lee doesn't watch the pipe major and plays at his own tempo, which is not conducive to a good sound.

It's still snowing this morning and looks beautiful but probably is deadly. Daughter #1 did not go to her midnight screening of National Treasure: Book of Secrets last night due to weather. Her friend Emily is stuck up on the mountain, snowed in. Bummer. But the world looks beautiful this morning, crystalline blue and clean. Maybe I won't have to go to Park City this afternoon because of the snow. There's always hope.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Everybody has a disability; some people's are more evident that others.

Mine is not so evident, but just as much a disability. I have epilepsy. Which means if I don't get enough sleep and take anti-convulsants every day, I go unconscious and have seizures. Sometimes even if I do take my meds and get enough sleep, I still am "shaky".

Yesterday and the day before I was shaky for no apparent reason. And I needed to go out and get some last minute things for Christmas and didn't dare drive: A CD holder for Daughter #3, and a DVD for my dear friend Connie, etc. so Daughter #1 said she would drive, and we took Small Son and went and got those things. I guess it hasn't gotten harried yet, because it was pretty calm at the stores we were at.

No, I didn't practice. Because of the shakiness. Can't focus on notes in a sequence. I stop in the middle and forget where I was.

The most exciting part about Christmas is knowing that somebody near-and-dear has a present coming and it's Really Good and they are Really Going To Like It and you Can't Tell Them What It Is!!!! It's been like that for at least a week.

Five More Days!!!! Ugh!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

They say if you need something done, ask a busy person.

I've been busier lately than at just about any time in my life, what with calling to check on people who are ill or picking up tableclothes and dropping them off and finishing Christmas presents and then wrapping them and the usual cleaning and washing and driving and shopping and cooking . . .

But despite doing all that yesterday, I did practice, both PC and pipes. On the list of tunes we have to know for the concert, I got about 4 done. I'll hopefully start at 5 today.

Daughter #1's best friend is home from Maine and will be staying with us. We are delighted to have her. Daughter #2 is bringing her . . . um . . . boyfriend? particular friend? Not sure exactly what their relationship is called right now . . . over lots, He's a very nice young man, so we are glad to see him whenever he shows up.

Handsome Husband and I got to go to the temple yesterday. I brought a disc with my grampa's info on it, so we could do baptisms and endowments for him and his parents, but the disc wasn't unzipped and they said they couldn't unzip it, so we did work for someone else. When I got to the Family History Center last night, it was closed for the holidays. Pooh. So Grampa is still waiting. Sorry, Grampa. I'm working on it.

Daughter #2 is also "working" on getting the work done for our old egg man from Minnesota, Henry Tlustosh, born and raised and married and died in Glencoe, MN. She has a photo of the tombstone where he and his wife Emma are buried, but she won't give me the info so I can get it done. Guess I'll just have to start bugging her. Henry's been waiting for 8 years!! He has no children, and no other living relatives, and I feel like we owe it to him cuz he was so good to us.

Small Son was so cute. This morning I found a note on my chair, next to his PC, that said "my reed needs more hemp". So I showed him where the hemp and wax is kept and how to put it on. He played his PC yesterday for school for something.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NO I DID **NOT** PRACTICE, so stop asking me!!!

Welll, I worked on the 2 newest tunes on PC.

No excuses. Lesson tonight. I'm gonna be terrible if I don't practice. But I have to take Small Son to get a present for his Dad right after school, then dinner, then . . . lesson. It doesn't look good.

Also, Small Son's Christmas present was supposedly delivered yesterday, and I still haven't seen the box. Gonna have to go look next door when it gets light out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What with one thing and nother, 5 days passed . . .

Family was here for Baptisms and sealings, Christmas programs happened (including dinners) that required my musical participation on an instrument I don't play much anymore, Scouts started up again, and did I tell you I have a new calling? Yesterday I realized that I was given an new tune to learn on Thursday and I haven't even looked at it. So I got it down on PC while Small Son was working on his homework yesterday.

Then last night when I came in to read to him (Silver on the Tree, by Susan Cooper) he said [whispering], "Mom! Shut the door!" So I did, and then he said, "I want to get Dad a Christmas present because he always takes me places and helps me on the computer." This is the first time he has ever thought about anything but his own presents for Christmas, so I was thrilled. I said, "The only thing on Dad's list right now is 'warm socks', so we could go get him a couple of pairs of those at the Army/Navy store where they are cheap AND warm." He thought that was good. Then he asked, "Do I have to pay for them?" I told him the secret: that the thing that makes it fun is actually putting out for something for somebody and giving it to them and watching their reaction when they open the present.

Then I read to him. And then I went out and told his father to put some more things on his list besides warm socks that his kids could get him.

We'll have to work on Creative Packaging for Socks this afternoon, too.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Nothing much happened, except we got a new tune and I can't remember what it is, but it is an aire (slower) and has some tricky parts. We played through it cold which, thinking back, I could never have done when I first started. Then it took me weeks to get to the point where I could play a tune. Now I get it in the first couple minutes, and it takes me weeks to memorize it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My nephew Cuin has a birthday every year at the end of December. He's funny that way.

At some point in time, I made an apple pie for his family and he fell in love with it. Now for his birthday every year he wants me to make him a Birthday Apple Pie and forget the present. OK. I can handle that.

Yesterday, instead of resting on breaks from work, (or practicing or sleeping) I made an apple pie for Cuin. It 's the best crust I ever made. Now I just have to keep the family and dogs off it until Daughter #2 can take it home to him.

Oh, and did you also hear that I have been called as 2nd counselor in the Relief Society of our Ward? That would be Education Counselor. We had our first meeting last night. I'm very glad the president is a crazy lady, and that the meeting was full of laughter, but we did get things done. We have already have a funeral dinner to arrange for Saturday, which I had to beg off from, seeing as that is the day of the Two Baptisms and A Sealing that have been in the works for a month. At least only 32 people are expected, instead of 100 or so. And we had to tell some things about ourselves, as a sort of get-to-know-you thing and I mentioned that I played bagpipes. They were ecstatic! And very supportive of me getting to practice on Tuesday nights, and mostly Lessons on Thursday. The two organizations seem to both want me to participate in the other, so this may work.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Just so it's out of the way right off, and you aren't wondering about it for the whole entry, I DID practice yesterday, nearly 45 minutes, and tunes that we were asked to play at band practice last night.

Handson Husband's dear family has arrived en masse at our house for 2 baptisms and a sealing on Saturday. I love them dearly, but they are pretty intimidating, even singly, and there are 7 of them, so I am trying to be invisible and am letting HH handle things that involve schedule, food, sleeping arrangements and entertainment. So far it has been easy as they have been out Doing Things. However, now that Sister-in-law #2 has arrived with her 4 kids (did I mention that I love them dearly?), I don't know that it will be so easy, as Phoebe and Small Son are thick as thieves when together, so they may be hanging around and playing a lot this afternoon. I don't know for sure, as I'm not involved in Scheduling. Maybe they will Go Out and Do Something after school. This evening they are going to Provo to a BYU football game (at least some of them) and I have a RS meeting so I won't be seeing them much.

But anyway, band practice. Our house has 6 beds and 3 Spaces on Couches for Sleeping Bodies. That leaves 3 people without a place to sleep. Luckily, 4 of them are kids that don't mind sleeping on floors in sleeping bags, and they brought their own sleeping bags . . .

What? Oh, band practice. Well, we had to play through the medley lots of times, and somebody was not keeping time with everybody else and Pipey got pretty angry that we were less good at the jig than we were last week . . . Also, we have seats in the kitchen for 9 people, and there are 12 total, so again that leaves 3 people without a place to eat . . .

So what did we do? To what? Oh, band practice!!! The medley. Well, we went over and over the jig and Pipey threatened to pull it and change it for another one. I don't like the jig, anyway, but I don't want to learn another tune and now we have a whole month to practice before the next band practice. I did vacuum but the dogs constantly are losing hair, even in the dead of winter, so there's always hair everywhere and I'm hoping nobody's asthma gets set off . . .

What? Distracted? You're talking to me? Distracted from what? Oh yeah, band practice . . . Yeah, it could have been me who was not focusing. I was pretty much all the time counting beds and chairs instead of 4/4 time. I'll try and get in more practice time on pipes this month. After the family leaves.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I have gotten to the point in my sleep deprivation where I am non-responsive to others.

I did play the tunes requested at my lesson last night, and at the right speed. I did not, however, make more than 1 comment. When Mindy (tenor drummer) said 'hello' as she was going into her lesson and I was going out, I think I mumbled something, but nothing coherent. My one comment was (you can skip this part if you don't really care) when Pete picked up his bottle to get a drink and it was empty, so he disgustedly tossed it into a corner. Into the silence I said, "The last camel died at noon." "And it's now 2:00?" he asked. Most everybody else said, "What?" I did not endeavor to explain.

The cheesecake came out, and the dogs didn't eat it because we put it in a pie-keeper. The ceremonies for Daughter #1 went well, although the heat over the candles was surprisingly warm; she seemed to enjoy her presents, which is why one gives presents anyway, so they can be enjoyed. Happy Birthday today to her. Twenty-two years.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The problem with birthdays is you can never predict when the initial one will happen, kids being as unpredictable as they are.

Our first beautiful and intelligent child, Daughter #1, was born on 30 November and that was fine. Daughter #2 came along, equally beautiful and intelligent, in February a few years later and that was also fine. Then it came time for Daughter #3. The due date was narrowed down to the end of November. Nearly-eight-year-old Daughter #1, taking issue with the nearness of her new sibling's impending birth date to her own, said, "Don't have the baby on my birthday! I don't want to share my birthday!" I admitted to my inability to do anything about scheduling a natural birth of a child, and Daughter #1 walked off very disillusioned with parental powers.

Monday morning, the 29th of November, dawned freezing cold and really hardly dawned at all due to the overcast skies. And I went into labor. So I woke the girls up and asked Daughter #1 if she'd like to go to the hospital today and get a new brother or sister instead of going to school. That really was no choice, so off we went and Daughter #3 arrived shortly before lunchtime. Wish granted.

Roll forward about 14 years. Daughter #1 is now turning 22 and working a monstrous schedule, including her birthday, but the two days before she is off. We have thus decided to celebrate her birthday one day early so she can attend. So as not to celebrate both girls' birthdays on the same day, we then had to move Daughter #3's birthday up one day. Yesterday we did presents, cake and ice cream (for which I was not quite ready) for Daughter #3. I did not practice except a little bit with Small Son on PC, and to play Happy Birthday To You on PC for the actual Fire Extinguishing part of the ceremony. Today doesn't look any better as far as practicing goes, as I don't have the cheese cake ready for the celebration tonight.

I also didn't get any sleep yesterday, so I hope the cheese cake sets.

This is turning into more of a List of Excuses Why I Don't Practice, rather than an impetus to practice. [groan!]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sometimes the weatherman gets it right. Yesterday, he predicted snow and WE GOT IT!!!! It's funny how a change in the weather can change your mood.

At band practice, we had to allow for extra warm-up time because all the pipes were cold from traveling. People were playing any long tune named after some ancient pipe major that they could remember to get the chanters warmed up.

We are trying to learn a new tune for the end of our Old Mill set (The Old Mill, Mari's Wedding, Rowan Tree, and 100 Pipers). Hundred Pipers is a 6/8 and tends to throw us off after the marches and slow airs that are the first three, such that we lose our competitions with shocking regularity. This new tune is called Pipe Major J.K.Cairns. I think I mentioned it before. And I know what you're going to say: "Not another tune named after some long dead pipe major that goes on and on! I hate those!" This one, however, is mercifully short and, although it does have 4 parts, 2 of them are exactly the same and they're short parts. It's also a catchy tune and fairly easy to play . . . except for the 1st ending, which has weird timing. So we were working on that part, going over and over it and continuing to get it wrong and I finally admitted that I wasn't getting it and could I just listen to it, once? Pipey allowed me to do that. Once. Dave on my left said, "Don't listen to me!", to which I promptly replied, "Oh, I have an earplug in that ear." That got a laugh. I think we finally got it, but it took over an hour. I'm supposed to listen to the website, but so far I haven't been able to get it to even finish loading.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I guess if you don't show up on a holiday for work, you get double penalties, since you get double pay if you DO work.

I got 4 points for my Thanksgiving Error. (5 means I can't apply for a better position in the company; 8 means I can't work from home anymore; 12 means I'm lookin' for a new job).

So IF i don't have any more issues such as this, 2 points will drop off on 22 Jan 2008, one will drop off on 22 Feb 2008, and one more will drop off on 22 March 2008. IF. Since this is my first one in over 2 years, I'm feeling positive.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's wife's parent's house on Thursday. We only had to make pies and cranberry waldorf salad. If you do the math, that means we have left-over pies and cranberry waldorf. Period. My husband just could not deal with no turkey sandwiches, turkey salad sandwiches, turkey a la king, turkey pot pies, turkey soup, and various other turkey meals that are traditional in our family in the days following Thanksgiving. He had a melt-down. Yesterday, he went to the store and bought potatoes, turkey, dressing, and every trimming he could think of, and we had another Thanksgiving, complete with tablecloth and candles. And left-over cranberry waldorf and pie. Now today we can start having all those turkey things he loves so much. I noted also that Daughter #1 had a sigh of relief at sight of the Second Thanksgiving Spread. Daughter #3 said, "What?!?", ate her helpings and went back upstairs without making any other comment.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Where I work, I get a (semi) regular schedule for most of the year, and on holidays I get a separate schedule (this is so everybody will have an equal chance at getting holidays off, not just the people who have worked here forever). In October, I got an email telling me my Thanksgiving schedule was the 16th choice. I looked at the wrong chart, the second one down--not once, but 5 or 6 times--and thought I started at 0600. I got up at 0530 and got logged on at 0600 and worked for awhile. When I started feeling it was time for a break, I looked on the Everybody's Schedule part of the computer and saw that I was supposed to have started at 0000!! I rechecked my email and still saw myself starting at 0600. It was only when I rechecked again that I saw the 3rd chart there that said, yep, I was supposed to have started at 0000. Crap. Now I have a big black mark on my record for not showing up, and I miss out on $150. Crapcrapcrapcrap. I guess the good part is I only had to work 2 hours, got to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and got to our Thanksgiving Dinner on time. But still . . .I haven't gotten an email back from my sup yet telling me how hot the water is I am now in. Still waiting for that.

I didn't practice on Thanksgiving on general principle.

We made pumpkin, mincemeat, apple, and cherry pies to take to Thanksgiving dinner, even though we were only asked to bring pumpkin. The cherry was for Daughter #2 as that is her favorite, the mincemeat was for Daughter #1 and Handsome Husband, and the apple was for my little nephew who adores my apple pies, and even invites me to his birthday parties only if I will bring an apple pie for him. We left the mincemeat and cherry at home, since as my daughters pointed out, we hadn't been asked to bring them anyway, and they didn't want to share them. When we got home, the crust had been nibbled off the mincemeat, and the cherry was gone, entirely. We immediately suspected the dogs. But you'd think that if a dog had pulled a cherry pie off the counter with her teeth, dragged it across the kitchen floor and down the hallway and out the dog door into the yard, there would be a trail of cherry-red, like a trail of blood, to mark the pie's passing. There was not. You'd also think that if a dog had a choice of a fruit pie or a pie that had beef mixed in with it, she would choose the beef one. Immediately we suspected we had put the cherry pie someplace other than the places we had already looked, so we looked in those other places and found them pieless. Finally I took a flashlight and looked in the yard and there the pie was, still right-side-up, with the top crust nibbled off. KoTAH!!! Daughter #2 refused to eat it--I can't blame her--and our holiday was cherry-pie-less. I'll have to make her another one very soon.

I have to give a lesson in Relief Society on Sunday, on 2 talks from General Conference. The one is on pornography, and the other is on having clean hands and a pure heart. I'm stressing out on this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Our cat, Tybault Capulet, a 3-year-old chocolate-and-cream-colored siamese, was acting 'funny'. Instead of sleeping snuggled into the crook of my neck, he was sleeping in the bathtub or the shower. He stopped eating, and started hanging poised over the water bowl, as if contemplating getting a drink, then walking away. Even tuna didn't tempt him. He yow'd continually, in a "this hurts and please please do something about it" kind of voice, instead of his usual "Hi, how're you, busy, bye" tone. He stopped cleaning himself. So I took him into the vet Monday morning, 11/19/07, crack-o-dawn. He was diagnosed with a congenital kidney disease. You can try treating it, but it takes a long time and has the same result: more pain and more money and he still dies early. The blood work along cost $189! The vet rehydrated him so that he would be more comfortable, and I took him home (both of us crying) to await Daughter #1's return from work. He is, technically, her cat, received as a birthday present almost exactly 3 years ago.

When she arrived we had a talk and (I cried) decided neither of us wanted him to continue going through this pain and that euthenisia would be the kindest thing to do. Then she went to spend a few last hours with Tyb and I cleaned, the random kind of cleaning that you can't look back on afterwards and say, "Check." It just looks a little bit less messy all over.

When Small Son arrived home, I explained the situation and asked him what would be the best thing for Tyb. He agreed that of the choices available, a teensy shot and a nap would be best, but his first choice would always be having Tyb get better and be our cat for another 15 years or so. He cried, and I cried again. Then we went to the vet.

They were very nice. We paid in advance so we wouldn't have to do that while crying. But I was already crying. He let us all be in the room and he gave Tyb the shot and we all stroked him and scratched his ears the way he likes so much and the vet went away. He came back about 5 minutes later, and Tyb was lying absolutely still but we were all still stroking him. A careful listen to his heart and the vet announced he was still with us, but only just. He rearranged Tyb so he was lying on his side more comfortably, and went away again. We continued to talk to Tyb and stroke him, and 5 minutes later still, the vet was back and listened again and just nodded to Daughter #1 and me.

We put his body in a box lined with his towel and cushion and took him home to a grave that I had already dug. It was a good grave, perfectly rectangular, square corners and everything. I couldn't play even Amazing Grace for him, I was crying so much. We usually have pipes for animal funerals -- even for lizards. But I couldn't do it. The next day, when I practiced, I played Amazing Grace for him a few times, even though he never cared for pipe music, being a cat.

So I didn't practice on Sunday or Monday because of Tyb, God bless his little heart.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I taught myself to play guitar the summer I turned 16. I did have a little help from the daughter of a friend of my mom's. We were both staying up at Echo Lake for several weeks and had nothing else to do, so she taught me and I learned. So I can play guitar, sort of. But I don't make it a habit to practice every day, or every week, or even every YEAR!! I don't go around bragging that I can play guitar. I don't wear "guitar" t-shirts or pins or have guitar bumper-stickers. I definitely do NOT have callouses on my fingertips any more.

Now, two requests in one week have come in for me to play guitar for something. How did they find out? How am I going to do this?

I got asked to play an interlude for a baptism on Dec 8 for my 2 neices. I have tried to get the day off, but so far no go, so they will have to listen to flute and bassoon and harpsicord music instead. I also got asked to play O Little Town of Bethlehem while my 3 beautiful daughters and I sing it for a Christmas program for Relief Society. I looked up the chords today, and they are fairly easy (if I can just remember what A7 is . . . ).

What does this have to do with piping? This is, after all, a PIPING journal. Well, I was hoping you wouldn't ask that. I did not want to have to say that I haven't practiced in over a week, except for band practice and that was PC only, and lesson and that was a Looooong time ago. We even got new, lower-pitched chanters on Tuesday, but have I even tried it? You guessed right.

In my defense, I have to say I was sick Sunday, Monday and a little even on Tuesday. Wednesday was filled with Things I Had To Do and did not give me time to practice between Visiting Teaching and Making Dinner and more Visiting Teaching and Working and Fixing My Computer and . . . at last, Sleeping. Thursday looks to be much the same. My work requires me to go to a 1.5 hour team meeting every other month, and this month is It. Today is It.

Life is not fair, but it's better than Baghdad so I won't complain.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I did not practice. I got Small Son and Handsome Husband off to their respective overnights, and went to bed 1700 (that's 5:00 pm) and slept til 0200 (that's 2:00 am) when I had to get up to go to work. The Math says that was 9 hours. I needed it! I feel much better today.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I was the only female at group lesson tonight. That tends to change the tone of the banter, and there's a lot of banter. When Sande and I are both there, they don't tend to get so much into wrestling and head bashing.

Drew had gotten himself suckered into doing a performance for 1500 people and a tune he didn't know, and he kicked himself the whole night. He hated everything: STB, Naill chanters, school, the army . . . We ran over the new tune, PM J.K.Cairns on PC's. I still have to look him up to see what he ever did to earn his own tune. Although I notice it was written by somebody with different first initials but the same last name. Maybe his dad made him do it.

We also went through the jig and reel several times on pipes, and the whole medley once..

Jason announced that after Christmas the uniform would change, to a grey shirt instead of blue, and grey hose instead of white, and maroon flashes and tie instead of black. Considering the tartan of our kilts is grey and marroon with a teensy blue stripe, I think it will look much better.

He also mentioned the new chanters. They are a lower pitch and Grade III has had them for months. They have been threatening to give them to Grade IV for that long, too, but never have. We'll all have to be playing them for the concert 15 March, and for any group performances. They just want to make it harder for us Grade IV's, already struggling to just keep breathing.

He mentioned the Christmas party. Last year we had a blown-up boxing thingy and Himself got his head cut open when Band Manager Ian bonked him with the PVC part of the boxing glove. I volunteered to bring Daughter #2 who is a medical assistant and can do stitches. He smiled but said that wasn't necessary.

Friend Dave emailed me back. He was grateful for my concern, but said his frustration was focused on his reed which was not fulfilling the reed-piper contract, and the band which didn't seem to be as much fun as it looked like other bands were having. I sympathized and empathized, and all those other -izes. Probably it's his attitude and I hope things cheer up for him. He's a great guy, a more careful player than I am, and . . . taller than me, which is always a plus. Sometimes you get tired of towering over people, and it's nice to not have to bend down below the cloud level to communicate with mere mortals.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Band practice on Tuesday was . . . horrific? Yep, that sounds right. No easy, PC night that night. We were on pipes the whole time, and sometimes not even the whole pipes, just drones with our thumb stuck in the hole where the chanter should have been, droning on and on, sounding like a WWII soundtrack for a bombing raid.


Friend Dave sat by himself in his best Rodin's Thinking Man pose and said nothing. I later sent him an email, but have gotten no response. Maybe today from his job.

My friend Beag, who is galavanting throughout Europe and Other Continents collecting dollars and pounds and euros for a children's home in Wales, and who had made it through England, Wales and Scotland, was for no apparent reason held hostage in Northern Ireland. For three months I wondered and worried about him and got nothing but vague hints. Then my friend General Cat marshalled the forces and sent in a SWAT team and got him out. He is still in Northern Ireland; however, he is now in a safe house with an agent whose code name is Redneck. Redneck has been ill, and Beag being the care-taking sort of bear that he is (and he IS a bear), they are going to sit tight for awhile until the political situation cools down and Redneck is improved in health before making any more forays into the melee. The reason this is on a piping journal is that the agents Beag has been staying with have all been either pipers or drummers. The PBF community has been following his story on their website.

Now, however, we have discovered a mole in the PBF community, so I don't know where we can record Beag's exploits and successes in reaching his $1000 goal by February. (He's at 825 pounds already). His own website never took off, so that won't work. Hmmm.

Well, anyway . . . I practiced yesterday, mostly blowing exercises, and I got halfway through Captain Norman Orr-Ewing when Handsome Husband got home and we had to commence the evening's activities. So that was it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It is very difficult to pipe in the cold and wind. Lucky all wars are held in desert environments so the tunes are short and easy!!


Lucky they keep pipers at the back of the confrontation so as to still have a piper at the end of the battle. Lucky the music is recorded instead of live.

So what do we need pipers for?

I took Angus up to Park City yesterday, intending to run through the medley a few times. It must have been about 33 degrees and blowing at about 25 mph and every note I played got whisked away up the mountain. I got through the first 4 tunes and then had to quit. Instead, I sat in the car and practiced on PC. A most frustrating practice session.

But I did try.

We are working on a new tune, call PM (Pipe Major) J.K.Cairns, which is a kind of lilting melody, very nice and pretty easy. I almost have it memorized.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The thing about working 10 hour days starting at 0330 is that at the end of YOUR day, you are ready to throw in the towel and go to bed, but everybody ELSE in the family is ready for the fun to start and they want you to keep on going for another 6 hours or so. I love my family and like to do fun things, so I keep going, too.

Yesterday was that sort of day. A hard day of computer problems at the "office", a bereft boy with a dead lizard at home, dinner and dishes and laundry and cleaning . . . and Lesson. I was so tired I had a hard time concentrating. Jason seemed to think we did well and had improved greatly, but I felt like I was running to catch up the whole time.

It was Lee's birthday, and he was even there, for a change. I got a cupcake but I forgot to eat it.

My plan for today is to take Angus up to Park City and practice while Daughter #3 is doing hippotherapy. I hope I can get some sleep in before then.

I'm supposed to work on the medley, specifically the Reel and Jig, and endurance. So I have to play the whole thing over and over several (hundred) times. I'd also like to get started on Item #2 on The List which is the competition at the end of this month, so I'll need to work on Captain Norman Orr-Ewing (a march) and Loch Rannoch (a slow march) for that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I was going to go out Trick or Treating with Small Son and Daughter #3, me dressed as a piper -- well, rather, Duncan from Monarch of the Glen -- and practice as we walked around, scaring people because that is the point of Halloween, isn't it? But I ran out of steam after work and the Newsletter and dishes and laundry . . . So no practicing happened.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

There haven't been posts, not because I haven't practiced, but because I haven't been near a computer that I could comfortably use.

We took a weekend trip to Idaho to visit family and to see a little-visited part of Yellowstone Park called Bechler (pronounced beck-ler) Falls, down in the southwest corner. It was very entertaining. A stellar jay followed us back to our car. Handsome Husband found a Spiderman mask on the trail. We saw waterfalls and squirrels and we thought we saw a bear track, but it was only two horseshoe prints, one on top and a little to one side of the other, so that was all right. Small Son and Daughter #3 enjoyed spending time with their cousins. Handsome Husband got to spend time with his brother. And I? I practiced!!!

Yes, I did! The first day (Sunday) I went out to the middle of a field and practiced in the cold morning air. Did terribly, but I did practice. The second day (Monday), I went into their garage (it was empty) and practiced. I did very well, but the acoustics . . . I forgot my earplugs and there was nothing in that garage to stop the sound. Tuesday we drove home early and I slept and comforted (I thought) Daughter #1 instead of practicing. (Turns out I just made things worse for her, but at least I got her a cup of tea and some tissue and some of the time listened to her.) Then I went to Band Tryouts.

If you remember, this was #1 on The List. I had to wait for awhile for my turn to come, and mostly everybody talked about other things, or how nervous they were and how they couldn't remember how this or that tune went. Nobody said how their tryout went, or if they were still in the band or not. Then it was My Turn.

I walked into the back room, already scary because it is full of powerful electric tools and skeletons of pipes. There was the PM, behind a partition, rather like the Wizard of Oz the first time Dorothy went to see him. I expected green flames! But he was calm and smiling. I advised him that I get nervous at the least possible thing. He said soothing things but I figured he was lying. I got out my pipes and he shaved my reed and then tuned them up while I played a couple of tunes from our medley. I tried to play them on beat and correctly, in case that was part of the test. Of course he asked me to play the Smith's Set, of which I always have trouble remembering the beginning. Thankfully, all that Idaho practice time on that particular set helped me out, and I played right through until he told me to stop. "Very well done," was his comment. Then he asked me to play Farewell to Nigg, and I thought it out in my head a little bit and got through half of that before he asked me to stop. I got an "excellent" on that. Then we got out PC's and did some of the medley tunes, and I got "exactly on" and "you're even getting the nuances" comments, so I felt calmer. He also said I needed to work on:
playing less tense (then I'll fall into my style and really have fun)
Blowing is still not quite steady

Other good comments:
I've improved amazingly since the end of August when I put down the bass drum
My fingers were right on
I'm getting the -- what did he call it?--phrasing or something.
And . . . I'm still in the band, I get to keep my kilt and play gigs, and
I am NOT the worse piper in the band any more.


And The List is now decreased by one.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fridays, for us, usually involve 10 hours of working for me, starting at 0330, followed by (hopefully) a nap. Then I drive the 40-60 minutes to Park City with Daughter #3 so she can partake of her hippotherapy for an hour. Then I go home and prepare for work the next day and crash into bed.

This Friday also involved Daughter #3 going to church at the same time as her hippotherapy session to help the other young women set up for the ward Spaghetti Dinner and Cake Auction. Technology today being good, but not THAT good, we still have not figured out how to be in 2 places at once, so Handsome Husband went to church on his bum foot and laid tableclothes and centerpieces and cooked spaghetti while I took Daughter #3 to her hippotherapy and did about 15 minutes of practicing at 5000 feet above sea level. While I was up there struggling with the high altitude, a pickup truck full of people pulled up and waved to me. I walked over and we talked about bagpipes, they not knowing what those things were I was playing. The elderly lady in the passenger seat told me a story of when she was a campground somewhere and there was a Japanese guy who was a piper. The people of the campground would not let him practice at the campground, so he walked down to the beach ( I guess it wasn't far away) wearing his shorts and cowboy boots and walked on the beach and practiced. She laughed at the picture he had made: Japanese features, Scottish bagpipes, American cowboy boots. I asked if they wanted me to play a tune for them, and they were very excited about it, so I played Scotland The Brave (STB for short) and got my cut-off pretty good but my grace notes were terrible but they didn't seem to notice. They were tickled and took my picture and then drove off.

We got back at nearly 7, having had to negotiate a traffic jam, but there was lots of sauce left and they were cooking more spaghetti, and they hadn't started the auction yet. There were about 20 cakes. Daughter #3's Mickey Mouse cake went for $55 (we bid up to $50) which we were very happy about, and total take for the auction (to benefit the Young Men and Young Women programs throughout the year, including camp next summer) came to $2190!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

I had every intention of going to my lesson today. I put Angus in the car, watched the clock, and made appropriate logistical calculations. At the last minute, Handsome Husband decided his foot was too sore to take Small Son to the Halloween Party, for which Small Son had planned his Dr. Who costume down to the last button. Small Son did not feel comfortable going alone, as Dad wanted him to. Daughter #1 was not back from work yet. Small Daughter-- I'm going to change her title to Daughter #3, because she's NOT small -- could not be prevailed upon to go with her brother. Logistical Plan A, of Daughter #1 taking me to my lesson then going back and taking Small Son to the party, would mean that both Small Son and I missed half of our activity. My lip was bruised and swollen, and I was already exhausted, so I walked around the motley collection of pirates, southern belles, spidermen, supermen, ghouls, Disney characters, and pumpkins with Small Son while he collected enough tickets to pay for the pumpkin game, and then we walked home. Once home, it was necessary to go get milk for breakfast next morning, and finish the washing-up.

I did NOT practice. T-minus 5 days and counting.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yesterday was the 2nd day in a row that I practiced! And even that's cheating a little, because Tuesday's band practice I'm counting as practice. Hey! It has the word "practice" in the title and I did it, so it counts!

Yesterday I went out in the back yard and worked on cut-offs and Smith's Set and I don't remember what else because it is 0347 and I'm not awake yet but I'm working. First I had to clean up the leavings of our two dogs because I refuse to pace in that!! So I paced and practiced and serenaded the neighborhood and nobody has complained. Yet.

Today my upper lip is swollen and sore. I dunno if I will be able to make a seal around the blowpipe today. Even yesterday I was having trouble, and the spit was flying . . . OK, Too Much Information. Sorry. Maybe I will just take a nap . . . Well, no, I can't do that today either. Tomorrow is the church Spaghetti Dinner and Cake Auction. Here's a logistical secret: if you have a cake auction, the cakes have to come from somewhere. Somewhere cheap. For our church, that 'somewhere' is the local young men and young women. Daughter #3 is one of those young women. So yesterday we baked 3 cakes, one big round one and two little round ones, to make a Mickey Mouse. They are cooling, etc, on the dryer, and today we have to frost them to look like Mickey. This is going to require more artistic skill than she has, so Yours Truly will be called in to draw the lines and supervise. That's all well and good, as The Cause is Just and all that, but that means no nap, and I have a lesson this evening which is great, but that means no early night, either.


I think I'm going to count tonight's lesson as practicing, too. I don't think it matters under what setting you play, as long as you play.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I was not prepared, and so I was very afraid.

By the way, the scripture reference is Doctrine and Covenants 38:30, " . . . if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."

I had practiced one time -- well, OK, 2 times, counting my lesson -- in the past week. Despite The List.The fingers definitely had a hard time flying to the right notes. If PM Sean noticed, he said nothing. He seemed very pleased with everybody's piping. Until . . .

Working on the second part of the jig (that's Farewell to the Tay, in case you've forgotten), PM Sean told us to play the first line over and over together. We seemed to have a tough time getting that started all together, but I followed his fingers and played what he played, and I seemed to be getting it right, but somebody to my right was playing ... um . . . what sounded like random notes. Finally PM Sean did the "cut" sign and we all droned to a stop. Immediately Jack piped up politely that we were supposed to be playing the first measure over and over and that I was doing it wrong. I argued in my defense that I was matching my fingers to PM Sean's. PM Sean stated we were supposed to be playing the first line, and Jack apologized politely.

We had played through the set for about the 3rd time, and at the end, where everybody is supposed to cut off nice and crisply, I did. Gareth, to my right, did not; instead letting his drones . . . "drone on" (dang, all these piping phrases! What's with me today?) for almost a whole measure. PM gave me "The Look" for a long moment. Then another "Look" for another long moment. Finally I said, "What'd I do?"

"What kind of a cut-off was THAT?" he demanded in an insulted tone.

Before I could put 2 and 3 together and realize what -- and who -- he was talking about, Jack jumped (literally) to my rescue and said it had been Gareth's drones going on, not mine. PM Sean apologized (even profusely), which surprised me, but indicated that he had been more angry than I had originally guessed. So Jack redeemed himself.

Then PM Sean dropped the Bomb.

-This shouldn't have come as such a surprise to me, as it is on The List and he has been threatening us with it for 6 weeks. However, I'm a Space Cadet and forgot. Forgot even to read The List often enough to keep it in my memory.

Tryouts are next Tuesday. T-minus 6 days and counting.

That, in itself, is bad enough, but what adds to the disaster of next week is that it is UEA weekend, where all Utah teachers do 2 days of conferences on Monday and Tuesday and the kids get off. We were planning on going to Idaho Falls to visit Todd's brother Barney (if we can get in contact with them) and would be coming home that day. So I signed up for the last time available, and I really do have to practice every day: cut-offs and Smith's set (because I can never remember how it starts) and Heights of Dargay and Bluebonnets. It's only going to be PM Sean judging us, individually, not a panel of, say, Jason and Dennis and Sean and BJ. So that's better.

Why do I procrastinate the day of my practicing??

The other thing that struck me, outside of band practice, is my dear friend Cat W heard a rumor that my religion prevents me from drinking alcohol, what religion am I. So I dropped the "Mormon" bombshell and explained a little bit about the Word of Wisdom and Plural Marriage (which Mormon's are forbidden to practice anymore). I'm waiting for her reply. She said it wouldn't matter, as she already knows my heart. But I wonder . . .

Stay tuned for more updates.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Our cat, Tybault Capulet, a 3-year-old chocolate-and-cream-colored siamese, was acting 'funny'. Instead of sleeping snuggled into the crook of my neck, he was sleeping in the bathtub or the shower. He stopped eating, and he hung poised over the water bowl, as if contemplating getting a drink, then walking away. Even tuna didn't tempt him. He yow'd continually, in a "this hurts and please please do something about it" kind of voice, instead of his usual "Hi, how're you, busy, bye" tone. He stopped cleaning himself.

So I took him into the vet Monday, the 19th, crack-o-dawn. He was diagnosed with a congenital kidney disease. You can try treating it, but it takes a long time and has the same result: more pain and more money and he just dies early anyway. The blood work along cost $189! The vet rehydrated him so that he would be more comfortable, and I took him home (both of us crying) to await Daughter #1's return from work. He is, technically, her cat, received as a birthday present almost exactly 3 years ago.When she arrived we had a talk and (I cried) decided neither of us wanted him to continue going through this pain and that euthenisia would be the kindest thing to do. Then she went to spend a few last hours with Tyb and I cleaned, the random kind of cleaning that you can't look back on afterwards and say, "Check." It just looks a little bit less messy all over.

When Small Son arrived home, I explained the situation and asked him what would be the best thing for Tyb. He agreed that of the choices available, a teensy shot and a nap would be best, but his first choice would always be having Tyb get better and be our cat for another 15 years or so. He cried, and I cried again. Then we went to the vet.

They were very nice. We paid in advance so we wouldn't have to do that while crying. But I was already crying. He let us all be in the room and he gave Tyb the shot and we all stroked him and scratched his ears the way he likes so much and the vet went away. He came back about 5 minutes later, and Tyb was lying absolutely still but we were all still stroking him. A careful listen to his heart and the vet announced he was still with us, but only just. He rearranged Tyb so he was lying on his side more comfortably, and went away again. We continued to talk to Tyb and stroke him, and 5 minutes later still, the vet was back and listened again and just nodded to Daughter #1 and me.

We put his body in a box lined with his towel and cushion and took him home to a grave that I had already dug. It was a really nice grave, perfectly rectangular, square corners. I couldn't play even Amazing Grace for him, I was crying so much. We usually have pipes for animal funerals -- even for lizards. But I couldn't do it. The next day, when I practiced, I played Amazing Grace for him a few times, even though he never cared for pipe music, being a cat.

So I didn't practice on Sunday or Monday because of Tyb, God bless his little heart.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My group lesson was last night. It was a subdued group. Pete, Sande, Lee, Garth, Drew and myself attended. It had been 2 weeks since our last group lesson, and 3 weeks since I had been there. I know that I had trouble getting in practice time on a regular basis, and we did seem to have improved in playing - most of us - but we all struggled.

Somebody - not mentioning any names or anything - seemed to think it was a race to get to the end of the tune and played as fast as they could. This threw me off, too. I'm not sure I played in time or not, cuz all I could hear was the rushing notes. I tried to keep my fingers going in time with Jason's but I'm not sure I succeeded. Very frustrating. I feel for the people who had to play with me in the group when I did things like that -- when I do things like that!!

We were advised to work on the reel and jig (Brown Haired Maiden and Farewell to the Tay, in case you've forgotten. I can never remember which is the reel and which is the jig, I just know BHM comes first in the set) on pipes only. "Forget the PC this week", he said. "Pipes only."

On the plus side, Pete looked much less stressed out. Looked like he'd gotten about 10 years younger. I had heard that he was in a dead-end job under a lot of stress and that he had finally quit, but I don't know what he is doing now.

Also, Grant (another Grade IV member) has gotten himself engaged.

Getting to the lesson didn't help to relieve my stress and guilt at all. In stopping to fill up for gas at the station a few hours earlier, the car would not respond when we tried to restart it. My dear and amazing husband, Todd "McGyver" discovered that one battery cable connection had been completely eaten away. Using some tools he had in his backpack from bicycle trips, he loosened the clamp, pulled out the old (fossilized) bit of battery cable which looks now like a trilobite and does not conduct electricity, cleaned off the remaining end of good cable and clamped it back in. Sort of. All he had was a knife and an adjustable wrench, so the connection wasn't very good, but the car started and we got him to work. I was supposed to take a ratchet to the bolts when I got back home, and I forgot in the flurry of getting dinner ready and getting ready to go. So when I went to start the car again, I did get lights and dials and things, but as soon as I turned the key, . . . . everything went dark. Hurriedly remembering my task, I fetched the ratchet wrench set and electrical tape and a couple of other wrenches and tightened up all the bolts connecting cable to battery. I put the tools in the back seat, seeing how my luck was going that day. Then the car started right up. But all that fetching and tightening took up the extra time I had planned on for driving to my lesson on surface streets instead of the freeway.

See, I forgot to mention that Tall Daughters #1 and #2 (21 and 18) have taken my little trusty Hyundai (Salazar Verde: Salazar because he's a standard transmission and a royal pain to learn to drive if you're not used to standard transmissions, and Verde because he's green) to California for a road trip to visit Disneyland and friends and relatives in that area. They left Thursday morning, so we have the Speedy Grey car from 1997 to drive, and it has a terrible shimmy in the front end when you try to accelerate anywhere. We've poured $$ into this problem, replacing tires and motor mounts and tie-rods and getting the brakes fixed and wheels alligned. But it still shimmies. So surface streets are better. Safer

So I had to take the freeway anyway. I thought the car was going to come apart on I-215, bolts and springs and wheelie-things rolling away into oblivion. It did not, and for that I am grateful. But after that I stuck to surface roads as I wasn't in such a hurry. The stress of that launch did nothing for my nervousness in going to a lesson for which I had not practiced. Here's another thing I can add to The List of Reasons to Practice: Nerves are much less if you know what you are doing and have prepared. If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. That's a scripture from somewhere. I'll have to look it up later when I'm not at work.

OK, Epilogue of yesterday: The girls arrived safely in LA (if you can do anything safely in LA) last night, the car started right up after my lesson, I got to read to Small Son before going to bed myself, but I did not get enough sleep and am groggy today as a result. Daughter #3 has to be taken to Park City this afternoon, so no naps, and Park City can only be reached by freeway going uphill steadily, which the Speedy Grey car does not do. We may op out for this week; that trip just doesn't feel good.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My name is Scar, and I am a Social Piper.

All this solo practicing does not interest me, even though I have created The List and want to achieve and do well for the things on The List.. I'm much happier in a group with blather and banter and group dynamics, working together. Or better still, doing better than the others, or at least the top 10.

I wonder what the 12 steps are for Social Pipers?

Maybe this is a result of my home life with 2 Aspberger's Syndrome people who don't have or want friends or contacts at all. Piping (and church) is pretty much the only time I can get out and see people on a regular basis.

Or maybe I'm trying to blame my problem on somebody else.

I'll look up the 12 steps and see if I can adapt them.For the record, here is The List again, of reasons why I should practice every day:

* band tryouts at the end of October
* competition the end of November
* my doctor has prescribed practicing every day for my health
* I have a very important gig to play in August 2010
* practicing every day keeps my pipes in tune, my stamina up, and breaks in my new reed.
* Daily practice improves my skills

I wonder if I could practice with somebody else.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I have not practiced - even on PC.

My excuse? I'm lazy.

I'd much rather lay around reading good books than get out Angus and work up a sweat. Even after all those good reasons.

Well, I'm not going to bore you with the details. I'm going to go out there and try to talk myself into practicing -- something. Hopefully, better news next time.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My lesson was cancelled on Thursday, possibly because the instructor and all the Grade III's went to Ventura, Califorania for a competition. I was counting on that lesson for my practice on Thursday. That was a 19 hour day, with 5 hours of sleep (do the math, it works out), as was Wednesday. I did get a nap of sorts, which partially caught me up, but used up my practice time. Friday was another one, and no nap as I had to take Bethe to her hippotherapy in Park City where she did NOT fall off the horse, but didn't do much in the way of exciting riding, either. She said her hip was still sore. That used up my practice time for Friday. I am so sleep-deprived today I can't even think straight, and I have a 10 hour shift today, and a 16 mile bike ride after that to keep my marriage intact. - I may or may not be conscious tomorrow - or even later tonight

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I think I may have figured it out.

I practiced again last night even though I was veeeery tired. I walked past Angus and thought, "I'll just play a couple of the tunes I need to work on most . . ." and picked him up and started to play. I got about 15-20 minutes in, which is better than nothing. Right?

Previous mindset went something like this: OK, practice. First of all, I'll warm up with a competition tune. Then I'll play around with tuning for 10 minutes or so. Then, since I need to work on endurance, I'll play all 40+ tunes that I know off by heart back-to-back in a set. Then, I have a few tunes that I'm especially concentrating on, so I'll play those about 6 times in a row each, without stopping in between . . . Looking at that lineup from before starting, it looks way too much like work so I never start at all. - Kind of like gardening. I see that garden filled with a bounteous harvest of weeds and I think, "Well, I have a couple minutes, I'll go pull some." But when I think of all the spiders hiding in those weeds, and I see I don't have my gloves and I can't remember where I put them last, I just go find something else to do.

Now, if I can just remember to put that attitude in my head every day when I head for the pipes . . . Just a couple of tunes, that's all . . . I'll do much better.

Lesson tonight.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Band Practice last night.

Only 3 other pipers showed. Even Sean wasn't there. Our substitute was 6'8" Aaron from Grade III.

For some reason, piping with drones corked was extremely difficult, whereas piping with drones during warm-up was cake. I really struggled to get the tunes out correctly. At all, at some points. Maybe next time I won't use corks and will just shut off my drones. I wonder if it's easier. I'll have to try it at home.

Things to work on:
Bluebonnets - the first part
Green Hils/Battle's O'er - the beginning
Heights of DargayFarewell to Nigg

Everybody had to rehemp things due to weather change and central heating coming on. Me, too. My blowpipe came right out. Put some more hemp on my drones, too, as they were wobbly.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Yesterday, Sunday, I just casually went downstairs, put my blowpipe on ol' Angus, and practiced. Did about half an hour, no stress, just worked on tunes. How come it was so easy yesterday and other days I have to push myself across the room?? I think it's all attitude, but I'm not sure exactly what I have to tweak on my attitude to make this happen every day.

Today, Monday, I was dragged around town on errands not my own and didn't get home til well after Quiet Time. Just got a little PC in this morning.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I really did try yesterday. I got Angus out, connected the chanter and put him through a few tunes. Then I had to take somebody somewhere. I didn't even bother taking him to Park City because it was raining cats and dogs, so I just planned to work on PC. Then Bethe fell off her horse. She was pretty shaken up. We made her get back on and ride once more around the ring, but her back was hurting and she was trying very hard not to cry (something she NEVER does) so we left early and PC didn't happen, either. I keep lugging my PC around with me everywhere, and occassionally I get some tunes in.

Did you know: kids with Aspberger's can't even handle the sound of a fairly quiet PC, some of them.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Despite my lists of the other day, I did not practice yesterday.-Face it, I'm just bad. That, or tired. Or lazy. -
I was also very upset about my bearchild, Beag. He's in Northern Ireland staying with a friend named Steve. Steve is supposed to PM me once a week and tell me what Beag's been up to so I can post a story by Beag on the PBF website (see links). That was 2 months ago.

Beag arrives in Wales--------->

Suddenly I get a PM from Steve saying he has something very important to tell me, he needs a ph# and a time he can call me. IMMEDIATELY my mind jumped to such conclusions as: Beag has been sold at a garage sale; Beag was run over by a truck; Beag was washed in the washer and now has no hair . . . Nobody called. I was frantic. My dear daughter said, "He's only a stuffed bear; what's the problem? You can just replace him."

<---Beag gets arrested.

"Well, the fact is, he is NOT "just a bear"; he is an ambassador for a children's home for terminally ill children in Wales called Ty Hafan (tee haven)(sounds like a golfer's paradise). He goes from forum member's home to forum member's home drumming up funds for these children. He's been to England, Scotland, Wales, and now Ireland, raised 700 pounds, been arrested, helped a dance troupe; talked to a dragon, some ghosts and a dead poet (albeit the poet didn't say much in return); and gotten lots of hugs, along with that 700 pounds. Finally, I got an email from Steve saying Beag is fine, another Forum problem was the subject of his email.-I feel much better. But it was too late to practice when I finally got the info.

<--Beag and the Dragon
Stronger endeavor today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sometimes in life you wish you had a video on you. Last night was one of those nights.

It was band practice, for which I had not practiced much. You know. I actually did fairly well during the first (piping) part which, on the one hand, is not a good thing because it lulls me into a (false) sense of security and an "I don't have to practice because I'm so good anyway" kind of attitude. Never good. On the other hand, I'm not the one messing up and getting "yelled" at by Pipey, which is a good thing. (For the record, he never actually yells, but he speaks to you.)Then, at PC time, we did so horribly on the jig, Farewell to the Tay, that each of us had to do it individually. There was a lot of rushing in the second part on the runs. I watched the drummer and matched her.

I did it absolutely perfectly!!!I didn't even have to do it over again. He asked me if I wanted to, and I said, "I don't want to ruin a good thing." Got a laugh..

For the record, my incentives to practice are:
* band tryouts at the end of October
* competition the end of November
* my doctor has prescribed practicing every day for my health
* I have a very important gig to play in August 2010
* practicing every day keeps my pipes in tune, my stamina up, and breaks in my new reed.
* I improve my skills-

I need to make a poster of those.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

After about 10 hours of sleep, I feel much better, but all that sleeping and church took up my whole day, very little time for practicing, and what there was of it was PC only.

Three months ago, when I went for my yearly physical, my doctor Sarah brought up the subject of weight loss. I need to lose about 30 pounds to get back to my high-school weight of about 4 children and 30 years ago. She asked me what I was doing as far as exercise. As I cast frantically around in my mind for what I could possibly call "exercise" in my current life, piping practice and the showers I have to take afterward to wash off the sweat occurred to me, so I mentioned I piped. "Good," she said. "Practice every day."Also, no more peanut M&M's. No more soda pop. One percent or skim milk, my favorite drink. Walk the dogs. And pipe every day.

How many of your doctors have encouraged you in your practicing? Mine is a great lady.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I am suffering from sleep deprivation. Five hours of sleep a night followed by 10-hour-per-day shifts at work, followed by all the usual family and household stuff and practicing . . .It's not working. I'm in my own personal fog, populated by favorite characters from books I have read and am reading, and famous pipers. It's nice, but Reality is looking at me with a puzzled expression. It won't be long before It gets out a label and slaps it on my back where I can't pull it off.

On the other hand, I went up 1000 feet in altitude yesterday while daughter #3 was at her hippotherapy and put in a good half an hour on pipes. Great for endurance. I hope. My new reed is finally getting broken in, so it's now a little easier to play.
Group Lesson last night. Only Garth, Pete and Drew were present. Because I was the only female there, we got sidetracked rather frequently into the realms of karate and wrestling and high school needling. Despite all that, we did get pipes out and NO CHANTER TUNING WAS REQUIRED!!! This is a first! Not just for me, but everybody - or should I say Nobody -- needed their chanters tuned. Drones was a different story. Garth had a lot of teflon tape on his drones, and Jason being the perfectionist that he annoyingly is, had to change it all to hemp. After that, drones were tuned in a very short time. We had trouble with the second part of Brown Haired Maiden still, but the first part, even on pipes, was pretty good. We had trouble with the whole jig - some of us rushing. I'm not sure if I was guilty, but towards the end of the lesson, I had to go, BAD! It's pretty hard to use your diaphragm with so much enthusiasm and still keep that bladder sealed. So I probably was rushing to get done so I could use the restroom.

I also have to work on my E doublings, especially from F.

Jason again complimented me that when he tells me I need to fix something, I come back the next week with it fixed. My personal, unvoiced opinion is that I am a sloppy piper and don't fix it unless it absolutely HAS to be fixed, even if it is pointed out to me with a rubber mallet. But as long as he has a good opinion of me and I don't have to know anything about wrestling, I'm happy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Did you ever start reading a book and when you had to stop, you take on the attitude and situation of the main character?

Yesterday before I practiced, I was reading the part of Blue Sword (R.McKinley) where Hari is training for the laprun trials and keeps succeeding . . . beyond her expectations, anyway. When I put down my ragged book and picked up those pipes, I could do no wrong. Everything I did exceeded my expectations. I practiced until I got blisters on my lip. I worked on everything but Green Hills/Battle's O'er, Smith's Set, and All the Bluebonnets. Today I need to tackle Bluebonnets FIRST when I am fresh, instead of at the end when I'm tired. It's just too hard.

Let's face it: my life revolves around whatever book I am reading.

I need to read a book about a piper who . . . Haven't been able to find one. [sigh]
P.S. I highly recommend Robin McKinley's books. Check her website at and her blogsite at

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I don't know how anybody else does it, but I can never find the time or place to practice when I am traveling. Even PC! Of course, when I travel, it's with my husband who doesn't like to rent a car, and he mostly doesn't like to take public transportation, either, so we walk. And walk. And walk. We walked upwards of 7 miles in the last 2 days! My legs ACHE!! My PC stayed in my bag the whole time. I took it out once to look longingly at it, but had to rush off again. Lots of people have those electronic thingies that you use earphones with and nobody hears you but you. But they're kind of expensive. For me.

Band practice was last night. At 10:30 AM I was 7 miles away from the Long Beach, CA airport. Our flight left at 11:35. As per above, we were without car or roller-blades or skateboards or ANYTHING wheelie. The bus wasn't there, either. So I called RoseE and had her report my non-appearance at band. This she duly did. As soon as I pressed the "end" button, the bus came 'round the corner and we got on. We arrived at the closest stop to the airport 15 minutes before they would close the flight (not the door, just the paperwork of the flight). As soon as we had gotten into the airport parking lot, I gave the bags to my husband and ran for the ticket counter. I got there 2 minutes before the closure!! Just like in the movies!

And I made it to practice anyway. The only person who knew what was going on was Erin McM. To everybody else, it was just another day of band practice.

We worked on the MSR and we didn't do too well. Sean tried to find good things, but he was hard pressed sometimes. 'Course, I didn't practice much at all. But I noticed some other people making lots more mistakes than me, so I felt OK. And at the end, after PC practice on the MSR, while I was writing down what to work on in my Disney Princess notebook that I scrounged from somebody's 2nd grade backpack, Sean said, "Scar! Sande! You two are really doing well!" I love it when I get compliments!!I think I work harder at finding time and place to practice than I actually work on practicing.

I think if I practice every day, I will really improve! Woo-HOOO!!

Things I need to work on:
Green Hills/Battle's O'er
The start of the Smith's set
First part of the jig

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Thursday was my weekly group lesson.

We started out on pipes, contrary to our usual practice routine. Tuning took surprisingly no time at all. I guess we have been practicing, and keeping in tune, because we all sounded very good, said Jason. We went through Brown Haired Maiden (the second part) and Farewell to the Tay (the first part), and everybody seemed to do well. There was some rushing during those parts, and I admit that some of it was me. We played for 40 minutes or so and my back was beginning to ache again. Then we went over those parts on PC's for the last 15 minutes and Teancum came in to get me and that was it.

Friday, my 3rd day of working with 5 hours sleep each day, and the kids got off school early and Todd wanted to do stuff so we went shopping and to DI and I stayed awake but only just. When we got back home at 1830, I went to bed and slept for 4 hours. No practicing. Couldn't stay awake. Too many people to anger.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I practiced.

Those two little words mean a lot. (**whining alert!**My back went out Tuesday so any movement hurts. Including piping. (**martyr alert!**) But I practiced anyway. And my friend came. But I practiced anyway. I got in about 35 minutes yesterday in the back yard, including work on the reel and jig and Heights, and a one time run-through of the whole MSR. A couple of little girls over the back yard fence kept up a running conversation while I was doing this. Now my lip hurts in addition to my back. Lovely.

I forgot to mention that on Sunday Keith W stopped me in the hall at chuch and said that my piping at the church picnic in August had really touched him. He said he was Scottish on both sides and had always wanted to learn pipes but never had the time or money. He's still thinking about doing it. He shared some piping stories.

Speaking of piping stories, I wanted to include a couple that were key in my learning to play pipes. These both happened in college.

First, when I was a senior art student at RMC, the Art Professor took us all up to his cabin outside Billings for an afternoon picnic in very early spring of 1981. It was chilly and foggy and most everybody stayed in the cabin. But we discovered somehow, I forgot how, that our dearly beloved professor, OB1 (or possibly his son, James), played pipes, so we convinced him to play them. He went outside, of course, cuz the cabin was full of people and rather small, and started in. After one tune, everybody went back inside. Except me. I sat on a rock in the fog on the side of a mountain and listened while he played tune after tune. Until he got too cold and requested we go back inside. Sitting there in the chill and the fog on the steep side of the mountain with the skirl of the pipes, I could imagine being almost anywhere or any time: Scotland or Ireland during an uprising, perhaps, that I was a rebel making a difference to my people. It was magical.

The other time was when I was an Art Ed/French Ed student at the U of M, about 1986. It was a 5 mile bike ride from my husband's parent's home where we lived to the U, and we were both students and had a baby daughter, so we biked to save bus fare. We also both worked at the U. One day as I was biking to work, I heard a piper. He was in a kilt, probably going to or from a gig, playing as he went. I stopped and got off my bike to listen, and as he played, I found myself following him along the street, like a rat in Hamlin town! He played tune after tune, glancing back a time or two to see if I was still there, and once he even winked at me! I was late for work that day.

To this day, I prefer a lone piper in the fog to a band on a sunny day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This weekend was pretty much a failure as far as practicing goes. Finding time to practice -- on pipes -- when everybody is home and doing something that requires listening, is a lost cause, I'm thinking. I'm going to have to look for other locations to practice pipes when people are home: backyard or the Teensy Airfield are options.

Saturday and Sunday I got no pipe practice in at all. I did get a little PC practice, mostly on Brown Haired Maid, which Teancum has memorized. I can start in with the first 3-5 notes, and he can hum the rest of the tune. Monday was no better as I thought I would be gone all Tuesday and got all my housework done (with RoseE's help) on Monday, leaving time for NOTHING else.

Tuesday I got in about 20 minutes on pipes, mostly the drone tuning, MSR and Heights of Dargai. Then I got physically sick due to playing with a back that I'd thrown out on Monday doing Something Stupid.

Band Practice was Tuesday night, and I seriously debated whether to go or not. I finally decided to at least try, and was rewarded. Everybody was playing beautifully -- well, mostly beautifully -- on all the parade sets. It hurt to play, but I kept at it until I couldn't stand it any more, at which time luckily Pipey switched to PC's and when we went through Brown Haired Maid individually, I got lots of compliments on the first part. Still having trouble on the second part, skipping the note right before the birl.

What I Did Good:
First part of Brown Haired Maid
Heights of Dargai
Farewell to Nigg
I went to practice anyway

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Yesterday I spent most of my practice time running down to the center to pick up my music. I managed to run through the MSR (translation: March-Strathspey-Reel, a set of tunes required for some competitions, in our case including also 3 other tunes, a jig, a slow air, and another march) one time before I had to get dinner.

The Reel: Brown Haired Maiden (theme song for brunettes everywhere) I definitely need to work more on the descending runs in this tune, as I keep speeding those parts of the tune up.

The Jig: Farewell to the Tay. Gotta work more on pipes on this one, and loosen up my deathgrip on the chanter so I can get the next note fast enough.

Marches: Corriechoillie's Welcome to the Northern Meeting and Teribus. Both doing well.

Slow Air: Summertime, Summertime. Easy and I've known it for quite some time, so it's doing fine, too.

Strasthspey: Mac n' Irish. Still trying to hold the first note of every bar longer. Other tunes that need work before tryouts:

All the Bluebonnets Are Over the Border
Green Hills/Battle's O'er
Heights of Dargai

Five hours sleep per night is NOT enough.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Last night was my group lesson, including instructor (and pipe major ) Jason (the bald guy at right) and co-students Sande, Pete, Lee, Drew, and Garth. The funnest part about lessons and band practice is the socializing with other band members. Sande is the only other female piper in the Grade IV (the not-so-hot piping division) band besides me and is a fire . . . person. Lee is a beginner older than me, and likes to tease people. He's fun to banter with and he's a Presbyterian pastor. Dave, in band, started about the same time as I did, is about my age, and is a good friend. He's a claims adjuster. Drew is a funny kid about 14. Pete is a very kind person and can do a great Scots accent. He's also about my same age. I'm not going to tell you if they are short or tall; everybody is short to me.

We worked on practice chanters (hereafter referred to as PC's which are plastic tubes with holes for your fingers that match bagpipe chanter holes and one to blow in and one for the sound to come out of)

and then on pipes. My pipe chanter reed was a hand-me-over from Lee, who was sure it was possessed and never wanted to see it again. Bagpipe music involes only 9 notes, no flats or sharps or octaves. All my 9 notes were fine last night except high A which was flat, such that I had to blow harder to make it true. Jason got frustrated with my sliding up to high A, and gave me a new reed which is as near to perfect as an imperfect thing such as a chanter reed can be.

After practice, Jason said I was doing well, and then said he noticed whenever he pointed out something I was doing wrong in piping, the next week it was fixed, pretty much. I almost cried! Jason doesn't give compliments very often; he usually just gets frustrated and angry when things are going wrong. It's amazing how much a compliment can buoy you up. So I'm hoping with this journal to increase the number of days I practice on pipes (did you know that if you practice on pipes every day, they stay in better tune?) and chart my improvement and/or ups and downs.

I just realized I left my music at the center. . .
I've been learning to play pipes for 3 years.

It all started in May of 2004, when I was 44. People give you a lot of guff for trying to learn something difficult when you are "older", but my view is, if I start now, I won' t have to start when I'm 3 years older. I can't learn any YOUNGER, can I?

I've always loved the sound of pipes, but never even conceived of me, myself, learning until I saw a practice chanter on sale from a mail order catalog. I could teach myself!! Unfortunately, I couldn't get all the notes to play. So I looked up bagpipe instructors in the yellow pages. I started lessons, and practiced and practiced and practiced . . . I got some rental pipes about November 2004, and started practicing with the Salt Lake Scots along about February 2005. I got voted into the band in November 2005, one of the more exciting days of my life.

I purchased my own pipes in October of 2006 from McCallum Bagpipes.

I had been taking private lessons until I proudly showed my new pipes to my instructor, who is also a bagpipe maker. He hit the roof. Although there was no written agreement, he had assumed that I would buy pipes from him, and he berated me in no uncertain terms for how wrongly I had treated him and how terrible the pipes were that I had bought. That conversation in itself nearly ended my piping career.

But the good people at and commiserated and talked me through it and I'm still at it, but now doing group lessons with a different instructor. I had a little trouble with those new pipes at first. But since I'd had that big rift with my instructor, I could hardly go to him and say that something was wrong and would he help me fix it. I was on my own.

First of all, the blowpipe McCallum sent with the pipes ended in

a little round mouthpiece which many people can play, and which I tried to work with, but just could not keep my lips locked around. I finally got a different blowpipe with a flat mouthpiece and a rubber grippy thing which works much better. The other problem was that the bag was HUGE. I'd played 2 different bags, one synthetic and one a hide bag and had gotten both of them to work for me, but this one just wouldn't allow me to shut the drones off neatly at the end of a tune in a consistent manner, something pipe majors are pretty anal about. New bags are expensive, and I may not have any Scot blood in me, but I save a penny whenever I can. So instead I got valves to fit in the end of my drones, which shut the drones off sooner, and I solved that problem. . . and for a small fraction of the cost. I can now play all the way through several tunes in a row, I get most of the notes right, and can stop on a dime. But I have a long way to go to be good - or until the pipe majors do not get frustrated with me every time I play.

Now that they are working well, and I'm working fair, I've given my pipes a name. Not something every piper does, but I tend to name just about anything. So, let me introduce my set of pipes: Duncan Angus McLeod (in moments of extreme frustration referred to as DAM!!) but usually called Angus. Why Duncan Angus McLeod? you may ask. I'll tell you: Duncan after a character in the TV series "Monarch of the Glen" who is a little spacey and runs around in a kilt and stompers and is still pretty much a kid at heart like me; Angus because I like that name, and McLeod after the county we used to live in in Minnesota.
My brother and I gave a concert this summer for my Danish grandfather, who had already died by this time, and my Irish grandmother who heard the concert. We gave this concert up at a log cabin that we all spent summers in in western Montana. Here we are.

Grama really liked our version of Danny Boy, and she sang along with us. My own dear mother, who doesn't like either bagpipes or Amazing Grace, was impressed with our duet of that tune, with harmony. We did good.