Sunday, April 27, 2008

After working 4 10-hour days, on Saturday afternoon I always feel like a wet, wrung-out, moldy dish rag. Wet, wrung-out, moldy dishrags are not capable of playing pipes. I did not practice this Saturday. I could have practiced during my half hour lunch at 0730, but I ate breakfast instead. Should food take priority over piping? I s'pose if I was committed, pipes would take precedence. It's hard to be committed when you are tired and hungry. Committed to anything besides sleep and food, anyway.

I'll try again tomorrow.

Here's an inspiring quote, though:
Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

Think about it. You're not going to do anything well right away. It takes time and practice.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My kind and wonderful Handsome Husband took Daughter #3 to Park City yesterday instead of me doing it. So I got to PRACTICE!!! I got in 45 minutes on pipes. I worked on my competition pieces and strike-ins and cut-offs

I also got 2 of 3 newsletters set up, and got to order whatever kind of pizza I wanted and watch whatever show I wanted (I never actually turned on the TV; I just worked on newsletters. I was going to read after I was done, but people showed up and turned on the TV so I worked on the pipe chanter cover I am knitting (I now have about 1 inch to go) and then went to bed.

Marjie's Mom was in such pain that her Dad took her home to San Diego yesterday afternoon. They didn't need the walker HH found for them. This means Marjie is home alone with limited mobility. I am worried about her, and checking up on her daily. I wonder if we could rig up one of those intercom systems and automatic door unlockers like they have in apartements in New York City, so she doesn't have to get up and wheel to the door to let people in.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I am already not doing well on my "Practicing In Piping Every Day" (PIPED) campaign. Why is sleep so much more important than practicing? (Don't answer that; it's a rhetorical question.)

Yesterday after work I had sleep to sleep, and dinner to make for the Carpenters, and dinner to make for us, and 40 weeks worth of dishes to wash, and a lesson to go to, after which I had more sleep I needed to sleep. That leaves no time for piping. The day before it was pretty much the same, except substitute Create a Newsletter for Dinner for Carpenters and there you have it.

Today . . .Last night HH asked me what I wanted to do after work today. I told him I wanted to look for a walker, which I do want to do, but mostly I want to sleep, so that when I drive up to Park City I don't fall asleep at the wheel. I thought that was understood. How can he live on so little sleep? I'm slowly dying on so little sleep. By the time my "weekend" rolls around on Sunday I'm Walking Dead. (I have to work this Sunday afternoon anyway.)

I sent in my application forms for the Salt Lake Highland Games in June, and the Payson Highland Games in July. I can still not compete, but I'm sort of committed now. I have to be there for the band, anyway.

Last night at the lesson, I worked on my strike-ins, and I seemed to be getting faster. I only have a half a second to make up, and the confidence issue.. .

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

So Saturday I got in another half hour of practice on PC. Again, all the tunes.

Sunday, I went to church and caught up on sleep. (heh-heh! Not in the same place or time.) Monday I caught up on errands and went to weight training class.

Tuesday, I still ran frantically all day doing things like doc appointments and visiting teaching and got no practicing done until band practice where I did horribly partly due to stiffness of muscles setting in from weight training class, and partly due to no stamina from not practicing on pipes.

Mostly, I have to work on Barren Rocks and my STRIKE-INS! Marjie seems to be doing well, but her Mum, Edith, fell down the back porch stairs and broke a bone in her back, so they are BOTH laid up. She's taken a chapter out of Tartaniac's book.

I got zip-off Scout pants that are Long Enough for my Long Legs, and a deal. And they have big pockets and lots of 'em.

Small Son had a mole on his chest that we had the doc look at, and the doc suggested we (she) take it off and have it analyzed, as he seems to have a plethora of skin problems. So she did a biopsy, for which Small Son was extremely scared, but he went through with it. Then he told everybody he met that he had had a biopsy and then fell asleep with Pancake for about 2 hours in the afternoon. He opted to go to band practice with me in the evening, despite the option of going to the library with HH and Daughter #3 where he would have access to tons of books and comptuer games. He came up only once to aske me what a tuner measured. Kind of an odd question, but typical for him, I guess.

Competition is 7 weeks away. I have to practice ON PIPES every day, including and especially STRIKE-INS.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I got 45 minutes of practice time in! I practiced everything I was supposed to. I even worked on some places where I was sloppy, tourluagh's (sp) and stuff.

In case you were wondering, a tourluagh (sp) is a low G-grace note followed by a high D-grace note followed by a low G-grace note followed by an E-grace note. Then you finally get to the main note. And that's not the smallest number of grace notes you could possible have in piping, either. A gen-bren has 5, and there's one other that has 5 but I can't remember what it is called. Gen-bren's are fairly easy, but the other one is tricky. As you might expect.If I could do this kind of practicing every day, I'd be really good.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Last night was my lesson. Drew, who has been sick with HepB or something, showed up all pale and weak and quiet. He normally is constantly making quips about anything. We did pretty well, 'cept I have to work on the Bells of Dunblane, the 3rd and 4th parts of Brown-Haired Maid, Bonnie Dundee, and Barren Rocks of Aden. Along with my competition pieces. Nothing much. I "know" them all, just don't have them memorized to the degree they need to be memorized to play well and fast and under pressure.

Marjie, the RS President, had her surgery yesterday morning. It went well. Yesterday evening just before I was going to leave for my lesson, her mom, Edith, called up and said that the doctor told Marjie that by the way, she will need a walker. So Edith called me and said could I have it there by tomorrow morning. HA!! HH and I were going through the list of all the disabled people in the ward and nothing looked good, when suddenly he said he knew who would have a walker: The Stake President! So I called the Stake Pres, talked to his wife, and she said sure Marjie could use it for as long as she needed to. Bless HH's heart for thinking of that!

After practice I yelled up the stairs that I was going to run the walker over to Marjie's house, and HH called back down, "You better walk it." Ha. Ha. So I took it over, and also put a welcome home message on Marjie's TV screen, using letters Cat gave me on our trip. I got an hour-and-a-half nap, again thanks to HH who cooked dinner, so I'm doing pretty well.

It's still chilly out, but the tulips are blossoming. Hope the kids next door don't pick them all like they did the daffodils.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuesday band practice went as well as could be expected for not having practiced much. Dave was there at last, and in a good mood, too, so we talked and joked a lot. I have to work on Bonnie Dundee and Barren Rocks of Aedan. We are going to be playing those every practice now, as they are on WUSPBA (Western United States Pipe Band Association)'s list.

My spring allergies are back. I found some meds from last fall in the cupboard, and they keep the itching and sneezing down, but do not completely eliminate them. And the meds make me sleepy and my eyes still water. So I look like I have been crying for a long time.

It's still cold. I wonder when it will ever warm up. I'm sitting here with my legs encased in a sleeping bag, and a wool cardigan on, I'm that cold.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

At tonight's lesson I admitted to not having picked up my pipes all week. Jason joked that sometimes not playing for a week improves you. He said it had happened to him before. Several times.

Then we picked up our pipes.

It did not happen to me

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I forgot to tell you about Pancake.

During our stay with Cat, she presented me with a little brown dog who is made like a pillow with legs and a head, but you can fold her in half and she becomes a brown dog with spots. HH said her name should be Pancake, so it is. Pancake was my pillow while camping and while on a flight I could sleep on. She has been my companion when it gets difficult to think about Beag alone in Northern Ireland. She has bright black eyes and dark brown ears, and darker brown spots here and there, including her tail and her left eye. She's very cute, and very helpful. And now Cat has her twin, named Squash.
After months of negotiations, we finally decided on a date to go out and visit my friend from the PBF, Cat (aka Tartaniac, Catherine, My Cat) who we did not visit when they were living relatively close in CA, but waited until they were 3000 miles away in NC to work this all out. We timed this visit to coincide with a tour through the White House (you know, where the President of the US lives?) that Handsome Husband's brother's wife's sister got us. We were to meet up with his parents, Leonard and JoAnn, and several small-ish cousins/neices in NC.

Cat and I met on Bob Dunsire forum ( ) about 2 years ago or so. She is a snare (side) drummer and was playing for the Los Gatos Police Dept Pipe Band when they lived in CA. She was one of the instigators of Beag's trip 'round the world. We knitted hats for our soldiers in Iraq. We scraped up $$ for a set of pipes for a piper in trouble. I did the play-by-play when she and Chuck and her Mom and Dad drove cross-country to NC when they moved last summer. We've been partners in crime for quite awhile. But I'd never met her in person. Here's how it went:

Firstly, Handsome Husband and #3 Daughter went to the east coast on Thursday night, and spent a day seeing 8 (eight) Civil War Battlefields. I inquired whether they were viewing these battlefields in chronological or proximal order. They just laughed, becuse two of the battles were Battle of Bull Run I and Battle of Bull Run II. They also saw Crater Battlefield and I don't remember the others, if they ever told me. Friday night, the 5th, Daughter #1 and Small Son and I checked availability.

The plan was to fly to Raleigh/Durham airport (RDU) in NC, but the first flight was sold out and the second flight wouldn't have gotten us to NC until mid afternoon, and I was planning (and Cat was planning) on our already being in Supply by mid-afternoon! I, at the last minute, switched our flights to Charlotte (CLT) and by this time HH had already turned off the cell phone so I couldn't advise him of this change. And since he was picking us up, it was sort of important.

D#1 text'd them and left a message, and we got on the plane, arriving in CLT bright and early on the 6th. HH did get the message and was already on his way to CLT when we were changing planes in JFK, and picked us up at CLT after only about an hour wait, during which we brushed our hair and teeth and washed our faces and changed our underwear, etc.

I called Cat periodically to let her know where we were on our rather bizarre itinerary.

Needless to say, we (Cat and I) were nervous and excited to try and recognize one another from photographs and phone calls and driving directions. We hoped our families would like each other, and that we would still find the friend we had known all these years in an actually, physical person, not just electrons. Just as we (the family) were turning into the gate of their community, we noticed a Person On A Bicycle sort of craning her neck to look down the street. I asked HH to stop the car and got out, and there she was, walking up to my side of the car. I said, "Cat?" and she said, "Ròs!" (I knew it was her because she got the accent right!) and we had a big hug as we walked down the road to the house behind the car. And several more hugs on the way. We started talking right then, and pretty much kept on til we had to leave on Monday morning. And you know what? She is just as wonderful in real life as she is online. Not a tall, dark and sinister-looking bearded man waiting to trap gullible online users. We went to the beach and collected shells. We saw some really cool birds including a stork and a flock of pelicans. We tried to find the alligator, but failed. (The 'gator showed up after we left.) We went to a Chinese buffet restaurant and ate and ate and brought home the clam shells and the chopsticks. We took a ferry ride to Fort Fisher and toured the fort. We practiced while waiting for the ferry. We stayed up really late every night talking and comparing knitting projects.

We went through an incredibly long store carrying everything from aardvarks with your name on them to Zanzibarbarians that say "Ahoy matey!" Lots and lots of Christmas decorations! Luckily nobody got lost, and I found a ***************** !(can't write what it is in here yet, she knows this URL and has been known to read it, and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!) for Emily (Thank goodness the daughter I adopted has a rather common name that people actually pre-apply to personalized items.) We ate delicious foods like grits with little clouds of melted cheese and bits of bacon floating around in them and tons of butter on top; chicken noodle soup with "dumplings" that were flat and big, lots of Chinese food made with chicken (it was D#3's food theme for the trip, I guess) or anything else you could care to name . . . I know we ate other things but food didn't seem very important. Cat's Mom (she said I could call her 'Mom') is an amazing artist and has her oil paintings all over that beautiful house! Dad showed us some fly fishing flies that he won awards for. It is amazing how they make use feathers and wire to make things that look like bugs! Chuck played chauffeur and photographer, only objecting once when the kids wanted to go to the aquarium when there was a fort down the road that was cheaper and more interesting. He was a saint! Mom and Dad let us take Chuck and Cat away for 2 whole days without too many objections. We asked to stay an extra night and Cat said "yes" before I even asked her.

Len and JoAnn were supposed to call us as they were leaving their house in Charleston, SC Monday morning so we could have breakfast and then leave and meet them along the way. Instead they called us after they had been on the road 2 hours. So we played Catchup instead of making them breakfast along the way. We got to see the White House; the Washington Monument, the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, lots of cherry trees in blossom, the Marine Museum, Fredericksburg battlefield museum, the Holocaust Museum, the White House Visitor Center . . . did I miss anything?. . .most of them by walking. The Holocaust museum was very interestingly laid out. It started out all light and open, but as the exhibits progressed through the pogroms and the ghettos and the concentration camps, it got more cramped and darker. The fact that it was packed with people made me claustrophobic. Then as the concentration camps were liberated, it got lighter again. It was very well done. They had done lots of research, had tons of photographs and items from the people who experienced it all. They even had video clips of concentration camp survivors telling of their experiences. It made me want to weep for the people who had suffered.

We camped out in Prince William Park. It was supposed to be warm, but it wasn't. I got one of the polar fleece sleeping bags by default and I froze. When I wasn't freezing, I was kept awake by Disc 4 of a book on Franklin Roosevelt's and Winston Churchill's friendship that JoAnn was playing all night long, or by the hard ground I was sleeping on, having gotten the least comfy sleeping pad also by default. I slept, instead, through movies at visitor centers and museums, and during drives. I wasn't a very lively traveling companion. In fact, D#1 and I decided that since her grandparents didn't pay attention at all to us anyway, we could speak a different language and it wouldn't make a difference, so we spoke French. We got one comment from them. The rest of the time we were invisible. Sometimes it's hard to be invisible. Sometimes it's nice.
The flight home on Wednesday was somewhat tense. The JFK-SLC flight was very booked, so we changed to fly through Long Beach, CA (LGB). We had seats, no problem, from Washington Dulles to JFK. But the JFK-LGB flight was very full. The only way we got on, in the end, was because of Small Son's prayers and the fact that I could fly jump seat; meaning no TV, no tray table, no sleeping or reading or sewing. Most of the flight, I was sitting next to the forward door, which leaked the air from 30,000 feet up. My whole right side was frozen by the time we arrived. The flight LGB-SLC was very open. We cleaned 3 planes that day, and flew or waited for flights for 14 hours. But we got home.

Our dogs attacked Connie who came in to feed them on Monday-Wednesdsay, but she was brave and daring and fed them anyway. They did not get out of the yard, as far as I know.

That was our trip.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Practice last night went very well. Small Son was in attendance, having gone to his first group lesson since starting piping. I missed the first cut-off, due either to my stupidity or new drone valves, not sure which. Nailed the second one. Strike-ins are getting better . . . We as a group got lots of compliments: that we are able to correct mistakes in tunes immediately after they are pointed out to us instead of having to have the mistakes punched in our faces 100 times; that we played our MSR+ better than we have ever played it. Yay, us!!

Mostly, I am not thinking about piping. I'm thinking about this trip we are leaving on today and yesterday to North Carolina and Washington D.C. We're going to visit my dear friend Catherine whom I have never met, and Handsome Husband's family. We are also going on a tour of the White House, possibly including the West Wing, but the kids don't care which wing they see: they're just excited to see The Real White House!!

I've been to the White House before, but despite my bad memory, I don't think you will hold it against me if I say I don't remember it, as I was 1 year old. Anyway, they've probably changed it a lot since then.

Also, Small Son is taking a test this afternoon to see if he is smart enough for the advanced science charter school in 4th grade. He's nervous, but either way it will be a good outcome: if he passes, he gets to go to a cool science school and learn lots of stuff, and if he fails he gets to stay at his neighborhood school with all his friends and teachers he knows.

Gotta go pack.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Band practice last night at 7. Also Small Son's lesson at 6. For this reason, Tuesday nights are a logistical nightmere.

Plan A: Handsome Husband would ride his bike from work to the Columbia Center Including Library, which is near the lessons. I would take Small Son to the lesson at 6, wait the half hour, then take him to the CCIL (not really what it's called, but it works) where they would do homework and read interesting stuff about presidents for 2.5 hours, whilst I drove to Highland HS, participated in band practice, then came back to get them.

OK. I got to the lesson, homework and pipes in hand, and a call comes in for ME on the office phone. This reminded me of when I had lost my purse in Paris and had gone to the American Consulate to get a new passport (against all odds) and the voice over the PA announced in French that there was a phone call for ME. It was a lady who had found my purse, would I please come get it. Anyway, this time it was Handsome Husband stating he hadn't left work, would I please take Small Son to band practice and then come get him after. Plan B: Took pipes and Small Son to practice. He did his homework. It took him about 5 minutes of the 2 hours of practice. Then he strolled around and sat around and lolled around and lounged around for the next hour, and then used up 30 minutes sliding down the banisters and then we were done early and we went home. We only worked on details of tunes on PC's, no pipes.