Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Exciting Day

Daughter #2 has gotten engaged!

You can look in past entries for her intended's good qualities. This evening he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. They she called me, at home in the kitchen.

D#2 "Mom, are you home?"

Me: "Um . . . . . yes." (she called us at our home number)

D#2 "Is Dad home?"

me: "Yeeesss. What's the matter? You sound funny."

D#2 "We're coming over. Bye."

So they came over and sat on the trunk in the living room, D#2 with her eyes all red and puffy. Jeff said, "I did something tonight that I probably should have asked permission for, first."

We teased him about it being easier to get forgiveness than to get permission. Then D#2 slipped a diamond (cubic zirconia) ring onto her finger. I leaned forward to look at it, but I was instantly reprimanded that he hadn't asked yet. So Jeff said, in about the smallest voice I have ever heard him use, "Can I marry your daughter?" Of course I said yes right away. HH started complaining that he did have his chance to say, "On the one hand . . . On the other hand. . . " like in Fiddler On The Roof. So it's official.

Ten hours later, as I was waiting for church to start, another churchmember asked me was there a wedding in our family coming up? How does information travel so quickly?

I think he will make her a wonderful husband. I hope they will be very happy together.

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Adventure to Ogden: A Relative Story

My nephew Taylor, now known to his co-workers by his first name, John, is a sports radio announcer. He worked for the Mankato Moondogs while he went to school in Mankato, MN, but after graduation he got a job for the Idaho Falls Chukkars. These are baseball teams.

It so happened that the Chukkars were playing the Ogden Raptors in Ogden on Monday night, and it also happens that there is a new train system going up to Ogden that a whole family can take for $12.50 round trip which avoids all the traffic and saves you all that gas.

So we took the train to Ogden and walked the 3 blocks to the stadium, got free tickets for us and Daughter #2 and her particular friend Jeff who drove up separately, and watched the game. And it was a great game, too. The Chukkars pulled ahead early, but in the 7th inning the Raptors tied them up and the game went into extra innings. The Chukkars kept making stupid mistakes. Very frustrating when we were the only 6 people cheering for them. The people around us were starting to give us dirty looks. Finally in the 10th inning, the Chukkars got 2 more points and won 10-8. We waited for Taylor, walked him down to the clubhouse where I guess he had to go interview the players for the post-game show, and then walked back to the train station. We saw the last train to SLC pulling ou of the station. Missed it by 2 minutes.

The pay phone at the station was out of service. I forgot the cell phone at home.

We decided to take the train to Woods Cross, which would at least get us within 10 miles of home. Small Son was very scared. He thought we would be homeless for the night and have to sleep under a bridge or something. He was in tears.

We called from the Woods Cross station but Daughter #2's cell phone was not ringing, so we left a message and walked to the service station 2 blocks away. We passed a motel on the way. The motel being there was a consolation to Small Son and I; it was going to be our fall-back if we couldn't get hold of D#2. It sure helped him feel better. At the service station, we tried Daughter #2 again. .

This time we got through, however, and she agreed to come pick us up, bless her. She even took us down to the SLC station so we could pick up our car and have it ready to leave for work the next day! What a sweetie. We got to bed at almost 0200 on the 24th.

SS learned that adventures are never fun when you are having them, only scary. They don't get to be exciting until you are safe home again, if you survive, and and are telling the story.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Check out Grade IV Piping 2/4 March Event B, 4th place, and

Grade IV Piping Slow March Event B, 5th Place.

Lesson learned: Practice, drink lots of water, and stay cool.

Friday, June 20, 2008

And the answer is . . .

I saw Sean at Small Son's lesson last night. I jumped right in there and apologized, in front of everybody who was sitting in the lobby of the Celtic Center. He didn't know which blown cut-off I was talking about, so I told him it was all of them. He asked if it was the March Medley or the Timed Medley. I said, "No, no, it was on the march out, Salt Lake Scots." He didn't seem to remember that. Those. So I asked if I was put on probation or kicked out of the band. He made a funny sort of face and shook his head, as if to say I was imagining things, whyever would I think that. SS came out from the cubicle where he was waiting for his lesson and asked if I was kicked out and when I told him no, he looked happy and went back to his place.

During MY lesson, we went over the judges comment sheets. None of them mentioned my blown cut-offs. [Deep sigh]

Have to work on possible squeaks on low A, ensemble, grips and tourlouaghs (sp), timing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The adventure began Friday night with a Tatoo*. It was pretty hot, even at 6pm, and Pete left early because his mom collapsed from heat exhaustion. This was a bad sign, had I but known it. All the bands lined up behind the clans. Each clan chief carried a lighted torch, and as they passed by the reviewing stand, they placed their lighted torch in a huge holder shaped like a St. Andrew's cross**. That was all very cool and everything. We got to turn around and face the fireworks, and they weren't so long that we had to play STB 14 times, only 2.5 times. Then we marched out. I was marching with the Payson, UT band to even out the massed band block, and they were crazy people, so it was fun.

The trouble started on Saturday. I got to Thanksgiving Point at about 0800 so I could get checked in and tuned up before playing my solos at 0920. I was not nervous. Sean the PM was cheerful and encouraging. I played my 2/4 march fairly well, only messing up really badly in the last two measures, but crushing some doublings ***along the way. I didn't get re-tuned before playing my slow aire and was thus flat. Did OK.

Then it was hot. I drank water and wore my hat.

Things started to blur together.

We had tune-up at 1100 for another tatoo at 1200. We re-tuned everything with new reeds and our McCallum chanters, as we had done the night before, only Jason was surprisingly calm and laughing. He didn't really seem to care if we were tuned--to ourselves or to the other bands. For massed bands, it was good enough. I drank water. It got hotter.

The first Grade IV competition was the march set. We marched out fine, the tunes were fairly well played, but as we were marching out, my nightmere started. In practice, Dave hadn't been there, so I just followed Pete out of the circle#. For this day, Dave was there. So in marching out of the circle, I was supposed to move over to leave room for Dave on the outside. But I just followed Pete, as in practice, and we were off-kilter. Almost at the end of Salt Lake Scots, I realized what I had done and moved over, and in the process forgot to blow down . . . and . . . I MISSED THE CUT-OFF##!!!

I see this in my waking dreams, over and over, every time I close my eyes. I hear Sean's "Oh Come ON!" and feel the shame, over and over, day and night. Pete assured me that marching out of the circle doesn't count toward the judges score; it's only fluff at the end. But the look on Sean's face . . . I know it did count. Somewhere, for someone.

It got hotter.

That's not the end, either. On the medley, we had an early chanter (not mine) and some finger flubs (not mine, either) and . . . and . . . I MISSED THE CUT-OFF AGAIN!!! At exactly the same place! I did not remember we were only supposed to play Salt Lake Scots once, and I did not see Sean signal that we were ending. Oh misery me! Sean dismissed the drummers and kept the pipers, just to say, "You know how I feel." (Furious)I went over by Jim (drummer) and his wife and their disabled son and talked about anything but competition. In the shade. It got hotter. I drank more water.

We had another tatoo at 1800.

Sean came over and collected us all together just before tune-up, to apologize for his remarks, that he understood that we had done the best we could. I stayed outside the circle and did not make eye contact. It got hotter. More water.

I played with the Scots for this third tatoo. I didn't play half the tunes. They played Amazing Grace for all the fallen Scottish-Americans. We usually play it 2 times through. I didn't see the guy up on the stage signal for the end, so I started into it a second time, and everybody else stopped after once. I heard Jason up in front say, "It's one of our guys." They asked everybody to sit down, but of course there was no place for the bands to sit, so we remained standing while they read through names or something, I don't remember what. Something long. It was so hot and I was about ready to fall over. I don't think I played on the way out, and when we were dismissed, I walked over, got my stuff and left.

I learned later it had been 90 degrees and I had heat stroke. Overheated, confused. HH put me in an air-conditioned car and took me to Salt Lake where he bought me a shake. Even that night I still felt feverish, and took several days to recover. It is going to take me a lot longer to recover from those blown cut-offs.

We did not have band practice on the 17th, so I could not apologize to Sean and to the band, and I do not know if he wants me to turn in my kilt. I had it ready on Tuesday. I'll have it ready next Tuesday, too. Tartaniac, bless her, said there is no way they can ask for my kilt; we are not a Grade I band. I hope that's true, but I have a Plan C ready in case they do. I've gone over the scenario in my mind several hundred times, with all different results, so I hope I don't cry, whatever the outcome.

* Tatoo: all the bands participating in the competition gather together in a block and play from a list of set tunes that the parent organization (in this case, WUSPBA) has made.

**St Andrew's Cross: The big white X in the middle of the Scottish flag. So not really a cross at all.

***Crushing Doublings: Doublings are 3 very short notes (grace notes) played right before the main note and probably are more aptly called Triplings or even Quadruplings. To crush a doubling, you shorten the length of one (or more) of the short notes.

# the Circle: When a band is competing, they march into the competition area in a block and reform into a circle with the bass drum in the center, the snare and tenor drums together on one side. The judges walk around the outside of the circle where they can hear everything and everybody. I believe there is a drumming judge, a piping judge, and an ensemble judge.

##Cut-off: At the end of a tune that a band is playing, to make it sound really good, you want all the chanters and all the drones of all the pipers to shut off, or cut off, at the same instant. If one person's drones keep going, they have blown the cut-off and make the whole band sound terrible.

Friday, June 13, 2008

C minus 1 day and counting.

Jason was tense last night. Very little light-hearted banter happened, as usually does on lesson night..

Drew tried to get started, but was met with a distracted glance. He stopped trying after that.

I didn't have any tuning issues. Jason said I had good tone. Twice, he said that. I'm happy about that. It can only help in competition. Lee and Garth, on the other hand . . . . ewwwwwww! All over the place!

I'm still not very nervous. Too tired to be. I'm thinking about sleeping at Thanksgiving Point in the car tonight, but I won't sleep very well. HH and the kids will be sleeping at the museum down there. Hmmm. Still haven't decided.

Catherine and Chuck are safely in CA, having flown standby from NC to pick up and drive their stuff across country and have caught up on their sleep. Now they are off to do their CA business and start the trip back, hopefully stopping in SLC to see us on the way.

Haven't heard from Daughter #1, hopefully because she's frantically busy, not because she in hospital from tornado-inflicted injuries. Hopefully. If you read this, REH, please contact the family and let us know.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

C minus 2 days and counting. I just can't make myself practice.
'Course, I have a lot of other stuff to do. Family, RS meetings, Scouts (to which nobody but me showed up), lessons, work, family. Sleep. Not necessarily in that order, but it's close enough.

I can't make myself get nervous, either, so that is good.

And a lot of stuff isn't getting done. And Daughter #2 is going to speak to me about how this family is eating. I hope she is not expecting me to provide gourmet 4-course dinners, 'cause I just don't have time. She's not here, anyway.

Marjie was getting bored to tears just sitting around recuperating and watching DVD's, so I dug out my great-grandmother's hand-pieced quilt and took it over to her and 'splained how to quilt it. She is doing swimmingly on the quilt! I forgot to give her the little present I had for her. Have to bring it over today after work.

Daughter #3 needs new underwear and a bicycle helmet of her own.

I did get a sea sponge and wet it and inserted it into the moisture control system of my pipes. Also dried out the kitty litter (and burned a hole in a ceramic plate doing it!) Also hemped all my drone joints until I can hardly move them. Only just.
Drones come in 2 or 3 pieces, and to get them to fit together tightly, so that no air leaks out--air that you are blowing frantically into them--the custom is to wrap a piece of hemp string around the smaller of the 2 connecting pieces to make the 2 pieces fit together very tightly. Also traditionally, in order to make the hemp stay where you put it, you coat it, or buy it pre-coated, in beeswax.
Pipe maintenance is happening! Playing is easier, especially striking in and cut offs. If only I'd known, I'd have done this long ago. The things you learn.
After I added hemp to the drones, I had to adjust the drone reeds, as some of them refused to play under the additional pressure. I'm trying to play easier. Trying, but not necessarily succeeding.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I practiced twice yesterday!

I hope you are impressed.

My competition march is not doing very well, still. I'll keep working on it, but I may bail at the last minute.

Practice tonight. And work. Not fair on today of all days.

Tornadoes in NE Minnesota, right in Daughter #1's lap. I haven't heard how she is. I did hear Park Rapids got hit by one. Nobody said anything about Hackensack, so hopefully they are all right.

We watched a Christmas 1991 DVD last night. Daughter #2 was almost 2 and Daughter #1was just turned 5. They were so cute. They were and are wonderful kids, more fun than the day is long.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Yes, there was a lesson last night. We didn't play much, though. My new reed, as I believe I mentioned before, is flat on the F and squeaks on the low A. As we were playing through the medley the first time, Jason stopped us in the middle of a tune and asked who was squeaking!!??!! I raised my hand. So he tried to fix it but could not, and could not get the chanter to reproduce the squeak when he played it. I told him I was trying to play easier but ended up cutting out. So he gave me another reed. We played through the medley again, same finger motions, no squeak. And the F was mostly in tune. However, I was reprimanded (sort of) for having drones that needed hemping. That, according to Jason, was causing me to leak a lot of air, thus making it harder for me to play. So I hemped them up this morning. Anything to make playing easier. I haven't tried them yet, as it was 0430 when I got done, and it's only 0544 now. Probably on 2nd break at 0945 I'll try.

Not so tired, but a little sleepy. Losing appetite. Blah!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The annual concert in the park was Tuesday. Only those from Grade IV that were invited to participate, could. That was Pete and Drew. I know why they didn't invite me: I get flustered under pressure and mess up. I'm trying to be OK with that, but it's a struggle.The rest of Grade IV practiced at the HS anyway, but without Sean or Pete, we were sort of directionless. We worked on the march set (Mill set) and the Medley (CWTTNM, etc) and everybody contributed to what we did wrong, and we tried to correct those things. We did improve by the end, but the breaks were terrible still. Tuesday night I could not sleep. I lay quietly in bed with my eyes closed, but the time went slowly by and I did not fall. So yesterday was a struggle. After work I slept for 3 hours, but I still felt like I had been beaten about the head and shoulders with a cricket bat for half an hour. Today I'm just sleepy. Obviously I did not practice, even though my RS meeting was cancelled. I couldn't string two thoughts together, so playing tunes from memory just wasn't going to happen. Dunno if there is a lesson tonight, or how I'll do if there is, but I'm going to try to practice anyway. Lee asked me on Tuesday not to practice so he would have a fighting chance at winning something. He's got as good a chance as me, I think.