Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I just want to let y'all know (all 3 of you) that my Handsome Husband is the best there is!!!

I've sort of been in mourning because of having to drop out of group lessons which have been so much fun and have taught me so much. All because my Small Son will be starting his musical career with private lessons on PC. I haven't exactly been weepy, or even sad outwardly. At least, not that I know of. Two mornings ago, driving HH to work at oh-Dark-hundred he asked me how much my lessons were. I told him they were $75 a month. Then he asked me would I sign back up again if he paid for the lessons. What?!? Yes. Of course. It's hard to jump up and down with excitement at oh-Dark-hundred in a Hyundai. Can I just say . . . Wah-HOOOOOOOO! I'm probably going to have to take a little gaff (or is it guff?) to get back in, and perhaps pay the pittance sign-up fee, but WHO CARES! What a sweetheart my husband is. Getting ready to play with the Grade III tonight. Little nervous.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Our prophet and president, Gordon B. Hickley, died today of caused related to age. He WAS 97, after all. His wife had died 6Apr04, and he made no secret of the fact that he missed her immensely. He probably would have wasted away sooner if he hadn't had so much stuff to do.

I will miss him. When they were both younger, he and my father-in-law looked a lot alike. Score one for GBH. He also started and ended his conference talks with jokes. Score two for GBH.

He was not uppity at all. He was a common guy, just like anybody else. Score 3 for GBH.

But he, with the Lord's assistance, moved figurative mountains in accomplishing things in the Church in the last 75 years. Movies, broadcasts, filmstrips, the website, genealogy tools, 50+ temples, the list goes on and on and on. Score 50+ for GBH!!

I am not sad. I figured he would be taken quickly, after all the work he did for the Lord, and he was. He is no longer in pain, or stooped and using a cane. He is with his dear wife, and his beloved mother whom he hasn't seen since he was 7 or so, and his father. Rumour has it that his dear friend, who promised he wouldn't die before GBH, died instead a few minutes after he died. I'm sure he got a very warm welcome when he went through the veil.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I am a Scoutmaster, among other things.

One time about 3 years ago . . . OK, it was March 28, 2005, and I was getting ready to work my 2 hour shift from home, and while I was waiting for my computer to warm up, I was working on a walking stick that I was carving for Scouts. It had a piper on the top, and a dragon just above the handle, and has since gotten lots of celtic decoration in between.

You know the rules, of course: Carve away from yourself. Make sure there's nobody in your immediate vicinity (called the "blood circle") you could accidentally cut. Use a sharp knife.

I was doing all those things, especially carving away from myself. I neglected to notice, because in general I do not pay attention, that my left HAND was out there in the line of fire from my right hand holding the knife and carving outward.

Did I tell you I am a Murphy??

Murphy's Law, to which I am a slave, states that if anything can go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment.

Yes, the knife slipped. And I was scheduled to start work in 5 minutes..

I cut a clean 2.5 inch cut across my left palm at the base of my index finger. Blood like you have never seen!! I ran to the bathroom and ran cold water on it, to no avail. A washcloth pressed on the wound did seem to stop the blood, but I couldn't take the pressure off, and I had to start work. I grabbed a . . . tie or something, I forget what . . . tied the washcloth tightly to my hand and worked my shift one-handed. Everybody was at work or school, so I had to drive myself to the emergency room, where I got 13 stitches. I now have a rather large scar. Luckily I didn't cut any tendons, so I can, of course, still play.

This is where my nickname comes from. Now you know the rest of the story.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I have one more lesson before Small Son starts to get the lessons instead of me, for nearly twice the price.

Nothing much happened last night except that I had it in my head that I was doing so much better because of Jack's compliment on Tuesday, and then I flubbed up nearly everywhere..

I had noticed that Jason's carrying case (I don't know what the official term is) is coming apart at the seams, and the zipper is failing him. I had suggested I could replace it for him, and said I'd do it for the cost of the materials plus $15. He said OK. Last night after the lesson I went to a fabric store and finally found a zipper long enough to fit, plus the twill tape needed for finishing it. I sent him an email, but I've heard he isn't an email kind of guy, so we'll see if I get any response..

I'm sure going to miss those guys..

We got the rest of Brown Haired Maiden last night: Sean poked his head in and handed it out. Turns out the composer of this tune really got carried away and wrote 6 parts. Six!! So instead of playing the two parts we have learned so far and the jig, we are going to play 4 parts of Brown Haired Maiden. I like the tune, but . . . Can I learn all these new tunes before March 8 and the concert?? And competition season?? Guess I better get cracking. . . Battle of the Somme, 2 more parts of BHM, and Bells of Dunblane, to say nothing of Blue Bonnets perfected and possibly Clumsy Lover perfected.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Yesterday was my friend Connie's birthday. I wanted to do something special (yet cheap) for her.

So I hatched a plan..

I waited until I knew she would be at work and called her home number, planning on playing Happy Birthday in her voicemail so she would have it all year..

She picked up the phone. Stupidly I asked, "Are you at work?" Of course she was not! I called her at her HOME number. I said, "Hold on," threw down the phone and struck in Angus and played HBTY perfectly. I picked up the phone and again stupidly said, "Did you hear that?" Of course she did. She probably didn't even need the phone. But she happily surprised me. This is one of the reasons she is my friend. When I explained my plan to play it on her voicemail, she said, "Call back again and I won't pick up and you can play it on my voicemail and then I can play it for my family and friends.".

Of course I did. I hope she listens to it often during the year. It turned out to be a very satisfying birthday present for both giver and recipient!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Last night was band practice.

Our Fearless Leader was late, arriving at 2030 without his pipes.

We had already run through quite a large number of tunes for the concert, and were all sweaty and tired. I was hoping he would walk in, though, when we actually WERE practicing, but instead we were taking a break when he edged through the door, PC in hand. He believed Pete when Pete told him actually had been practicing. So that was good. Sean ran through Blue Bonnets and 100 Pipers and then we did Clumsy Lover (not very well, I might add) and he crabbed at us about Farewell to Nigg, the oil rig tune.

I was listening to the classical music radio station, and the DJ was interviewing a famous conductor about preparing for a concert, and "crabbing" was the conductor's term for keeping at people to "Get It Right, Stupid!", so this is an official musical term.

We definitely deserved to be crabbed at, though, so Crab Away, Sean.

While we were paused from piping, Jack walked up to me and looked me straight in the eye and said, "I was going to tell you last week . . ." and he proceeded to tell me that (in his opinion) I have improved tremendously since fall, that I have obviously been working at it, and it was paying off, and I sounded wonderful, and he thanked me for keeping at it. I thanked him for taking the time to tell me. I accept any and all compliments. Jack's opinion is as good as the next piper's, and other people have told me this, too, so it must be true. I know I can hear other people's mistakes a lot more, and I'm starting to be able to tell when drones or a chanter note is out of tune. Perhaps the two are concurrent.I feel much better. . . all warm and fuzzy inside.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My parts in this annual recital (my fourth, I was surprised to count) included a march-strathspey-reel set with 5 other pipers of about my calibre, and a march played solo.

I much prefer playing with other people, people who can cover up my mistakes when I make them. The march-strathspey-reel went off without a hitch. Jason, the pipe major and our instructor, was very pleased and even shook everybody's hand afterwards. He must have been really relieved. I was.

The solo, however, was 4-part march called Brogues on the Cobbles, written by Dennis McMaster who was my instructor for a long time. (See Sept 14 2007) He was running the curtain, just 4 yards away. The last part of this march is so off-beat it's very difficulty to play. Part I went fine. Part II started fine and somewhere in the middle there I missed a note and got completely lost so I played some collection of notes til I got to . . . well, somewhere where I could start the third part. So Part III started fine, but the same thing happened as Part II and I did the same thing, and then I got to the Killer Part IV. This one I have been working on and I DID IT ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY! Yeah, me! I got polite applause. Afterward another student came up and comlimented me on what a fine job I'd done on a tune that has always been his Waterloo. I thanked him. (all compliments accepted). He hadn't heard any mistakes. He should probably work on that tune some more. Dennis even said I did fine. When I apologized for spontaneously rewriting the middle of it, and he said those things happen when you are performing, and at least I had kept going, so . . . good job.
Yesterday was Drive-To-Park-City day. It was very cold. I took several quilts and while Daughter #3 was riding (very well, I heard later) I wrapped up in the quilts and slept. I remember waking up once and not knowing where I was but being too tired to care and going back to sleep again. When she opened the door to get back in about 2 hours later, I snapped awake (partially) and started the car to warm it up. It took forever, and the window was frosted over until Lamb's Canyon!! But it wasn't enough sleep.

I had a RS bulletin to put together (not done yet) when I got home, and Small Son to read to. Then 3.5 hours of sleep and I had to get dressed for the recital which is TODAY!!! I have NOT practiced since Thursday.

It's time to PANIC!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

This was the last lesson before the recital on Saturday.

We went over the Battle of the Somme on PCs, then played through Scotland the Brave on pipes. Then Jason said he wanted to go over the competition MSR set without any warm-up. Lee asked if the Jig was still part of that set. I said, "There is no J in MSR, Lee." He laughed and started razzin' me.

After the MSR, which went very well, Jason checked hemping on everybody's drones. Lee hadn't opened his bag for . . . ever!! and it was filled with slime and mold and other unmentionable things and smelled horrendous!! And he had to look in there for the tip of his drone reed which fell off and rolled away somewhere. He never did find the tip, but he was emphatically urged to clean out his bag with lysol ASAP before the creatures took over the world.

I have mixed feelings. I'm going to have to quit the group lessons for 2 reasons: 1) because I just don't have time to do them with my new calling, and 2) because Small Son is starting lessons there and I can't afford both sets of lessons. I'm really going to miss the banter and the extra practicing and coaching. I think I improved a lot during the time I had those lessons.

But Small Son is starting lessons!!! I have this dream where he continues on and becomes a better piper than me. Or that we go together to England and play our gig for Robin McKinley in August 2010. That would be so cool. BUT I don't want to push it on him. He just has to do 2 years of an instrument like the other kids in the family, and he chose this instrument. So we'll see what happens.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

. . so . . . very . . . . . . . . . . . tired . .. . .

Up yesterday at 0300.

Finally got to bed at 2130.

If I CAN do the math, that makes 18.5 hours of constant motion.

Up at 0300 again today . . . . . . zzzz

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Looks like this week is going to be another good practicing week..

However, the actual playing at band practice last night was abyssmal..

First thing that happened was that Sande was having a hard time with her strike-ins, and Sean got so frustrated with that that he yelled at everybody, so I messed up the strike-in the next time and got all flustered from the yelling and the mistakes that I continued in the same vein for the rest of the night, messing up stupidly on every tune, even ones that I KNOW very well. I know I shouldn't get flustered; I need to be able to keep a cool head and just keep playing. But last night I couldn't..

Part of the problem was that Monday night I did a weight class and used 10 pound weights instead of my usual 8, and my arms, including the left, are very sore. As a result, I couldn't keep pressure on the bag to keep my notes playing because my arm was so sore. This caused me to concentrate on my arm instead of my fingers and the notes and added to my mistakes . . ..

But I did get my practicing in this week, assuming I go to my lesson tomorrow. I'm going to try to get one more in, seeing as there is a recital on Saturday. So far it looks like I'm practicing more and sounding worse. How's that for just desserts?

Friday, January 11, 2008

This week has been much better for practicing. I got in a few minutes on Sunday, a goodly session on Monday, and another goodly session on Tuesday AS WELL AS band practice on Tuesday night and my regular lesson last night. That's 4 and the week's not over yet!!

Some of the massed band tunes on Tuesday I messed up on. Especially Green Hills and Battle's O'er, because I wasn't thinking. I have to go over those 2, plus the Smith's set and the Mill set. I also have to look up how a grip goes, cuz I'm playing something else from what everybody else is playing.

We got a new tune last night, too. It's the Battle of the Somme. Catchy tune. I hope I can learn it quickly as we will have to play it in March at the concert.

I also have to play Blue Bonnets and Clumsy Lover, so I have work to do.

Recital on the 19th. Does this sound like the beginning of parade season or what??

Monday, January 7, 2008

I took Small Son to his first piping lesson on Tuesday night. Next to his chair while he was waiting his turn was a book about the Loch Ness Monster, his favorite monster in the whole world. That really helped. I found a book about Sterling castle, which looked suspiciously like a castle relic we saw in a recent movie about Nessie. His instructor is Ian. He did very well, coming out after 30 minutes being able to read music, as well as being able to play all the notes AS NOTES instead of Dying Duck Noises. On the way home we talked about practicing schedules and agreed that 5 times a week, 15 minutes a time, would be about right. I told him a couple of times that the more he practices, the faster he will get on pipes. And I told him about Nicholas. Nicholas is a young kid--about 13-- who is now playing with the Grade III band. He started with the Grade IV like everybody does, and lasted there for about 2 months before being promoted. I don't know when he started lessons, but his practicing got so that when his parents wanted to punish him for something, they would take away his PC, and later his pipes. He was practicing during all his free time. I mentioned to his mom that I felt sorry for the neighbors. She said they have a neighbor who tried to learn to play the bassoon or some other such obnoxious instrument, and he used to practice in the middle of the night, keeping the whole neighborhood awake. They asked this neighbor several times to adjust his practicing schedule, but he never did, and he finally gave it up, to the neighborhood's delight. Now the neighbor is complaining about Nicholas's practicing. Nicholas' mom doesn't feel bad at all!

Small Son also wondered when he could get his first set of pipes. I mentioned opening a savings account, putting $1 out of every week's allowance into savings--saving up. This did not sit well. But you can't have it all. I suggested he do lessons for the required 2 years and then decide if he wanted to continue. I heard a small but determined voice from the back seat: "I don't think I'm going to quit."

There you have it, right from the horse's mouth.

Band was great. I was late because I had to take Small Son home first. I didn't mess up anything too badly, and even played through Blue Bonnets 3 times fairly well. I never even got pointed to (which means "stop playing, you're doing horribly"), so I may get to play that in the concert!Wah-HOOOOOO!!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Here's the deal: I'm not going to try and practice MORE, I'm going to try to get in 4 practice sessions per week, including 1 lesson and 1 band practice. So I only have to practice 2 other times per week, and this has to be on pipes. This week is shot, as I can max out at 2 more times this week and then it's over. So starting next week, 4x per week..

Does that sound do-able?

During the lesson last night, I was told I have to work on the GDE's in the Jig, getting them all the same time duration. I bought a metro-gnome who assures me he can help me out, and he is blue, which is my favorite color, so I'll trust him for awhile.

I'm also working on doing my birls "in the shape of a number 7" which is supposed to be faster. This advice from a physics major to somebody who can hardly subtract normal numbers!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I slept through it again.

Our RSP is back, although I haven't heard from her. The other good thing is, nobody died on our watch, and although people slid downhill here and there, we were able to pull them back up by their bootstraps or the modern equivalent thereof.

I still haven't practiced on pipes, although I did put in a few minutes on PC. I just can't pull myself out of this lethargy/depression.

Nothing else seems worth noting.