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.