Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday to me.

I was born in a heat wave in the heart of summer.

My birthday was celebrated today.

Perhaps you noticed a discrepancy. Here's the story.

About a year ago somebody recommended to me that I should not put my actual birth date on Facebook to protect my identity. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I decided to change my date of birth. But what date to pick? I settled on the closest Leap Day to my actual date of birth: 29 Feb 1960, thinking it would only come up once every 4 years. I changed it, and completely forgot about it.

Life went on: Daughter #1 came home from South Korea. Daughter #2 got married. We won the Ventura games. Christmas happened. Small Son became a honest-to-goodness Scout.

This morning I checked emails and was INUNDATED with birthday greetings from Facebook, from work, church, piping, family (?) . . . Then I remembered what I had done all those months ago.

But that wasn't the end of it.

When I got to work, my co-workers had decorated my desk with balloons, streamers, and Happy Birthday greetings. One brought me dinner from Cafe Rio. Another brought a spice cake with cream cheese frosting. Everybody who walked by wished me happy birthday.

What could I politely do? I thanked everybody and hoped they wouldn't ask questions, but of course this kind of story gets out. I was terribly embarrassed. Thankfully, everybody took it as a great joke, and passed around the cake. Other people chose fake birthdays, too. For this crowd, my official birthday is now 29 February.

The moral of this story is: be careful what you do. Even the littlest thing will come back to bite you.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Angus and Sterling

I showed up at practice late on Wednesday. It was a logistical escapade, multiplied by weather, divided by time available. It equaled disaster.

I actually don't remember what the original cause of the delay was, but it was snowing enough to indicate that the techies in charge of "snowing" on our play didn't quite have the technique down and were using up all the snow in the first 2 minutes of the scene. Then there was an explosion on a transformer in our neighborhood and the power went out. I phoned ahead to Erin to advise of my delay, then drove like a bat out of a snowstorm.

I arrived about 20 minutes late, threw my pipes together and . . . suddenly whatever I blew into the bag came right back out at me. Wah!!!! They weren't doing this Tuesday when I practiced! I searched in the bag and in the case and everywhere I could think of for the missing valve that would prevent the air from coming back out.
Checked with the Quartermaster, Dennis, to see if he could correct the problem, or just happened to have a spare valve lying around . . .

No dice. No valve.

So I sat there and played along on my practice chanter and talked to Aaron.
After practice I checked in with Dennis about getting a replacement valve from the Celtic Center the next day. He suggested I use one of the band sets of pipes that were just laying around, collecting dust. Sterling silver. Hmmm?

Well, when it came right down to it, the replacement valves he had wouldn't fit in my blowpipe, and there wasn't another blowpipe that would fit, either. So I accepted the sterling silver pipes.

They are very pretty. Sterling silver, as advertised. SLS engraved on the ferrules amidst the celtic knotwork. Brand new Ross bag. I swapped out my drone reeds and chanter reed . . . and drone valves ( I'm not supposed to have those because supposedly they make you sound terrible, but nobody has said anything so I just keep forgetting to say anything to anybody) and struck up. Very nice.

I am putting in more practice so I don't have early strike-ins at the beginning of tunes or trailing drones at the end. Hopefully I won't disgrace myself on Wednesday.

Since these silver pipes aren't actually MINE and I won't be keeping them, I have only given them a first name: Sterling.
Angus is grateful for the break, I can tell.
Meantime, I'll be ordering a new blowpipe for Angus ASAP.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Practice Makes Beautiful

Some days we can't carry a tune in a washtub.

Tonight, everybody who was there had practiced and was in top form. We sounded . . . . amazing!

I wish every practice could be like this. Practice would be more fun. We could just play tunes for fun, work on harmonies, stuff like that. Instead, mostly we have to go over and over and over some parts that people are just not taking the time to practice. It feels like beating a dead horse.

Not tonight. Tonight was a Pegasus night: our horse was alive and flying!