Saturday, December 15, 2018

God Rest Ye Merry,

I've been dragging lately and falling further and further behind. It's time to take a good rest, except it's the holidays, so that's not likely to happen. I'm going to stop writing my blog and podcast until January and hope to return with a little more energy.

 I'll be on my sofa spending Solstice enjoying my nativity Christmas Tree.

May all of you enjoy any and all of this season's activities with people you love.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Paying the Flautist

Mercedes Smith in an even more remarkable gown than she performed in Friday night.
As the title might suggest, I am once again paying the piper. Though, since I am paying the price of going out on the town to see the symphony at the end of a busy week, and the symphony featured three flautists special performers, paying the flautist seems most appropriate. (I am also showing off what is left of my vocabulary by showing I know the word, "flautist.")

I am including the program and artists here so you can see what it consisted of.
J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Boulez: Mémoriale
J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4
Sibelius: Violin Concerto
Grieg: Selections from Peer Gynt

Lisa Byrnes also teaches flute at the U of U
Thierry Fischerconductor
Baiba Skrideviolin
Mercedes Smith, flute 
Lisa Byrnesflute
Madeline Adkinsviolin

Thierry Fischer, our conductor, may have drunk too much caffeine before the performance. He introduced the first act by talking about how much joy one feels while listening to Bach. (I listen to Bach when I need inoffensive background music and must concentrate on what I am doing.) Then he showed that the joy of Bach comes from playing the Brandenburg concerto at superhuman speed. It was truly amazing and much less stodgy than the Bach I am used to. "Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt was also played much faster than I have ever heard it.
Alicia Kim played the Boulez. 
Between the Brandenburgs the orchestra played a very modern piece that was written in honor of the sudden death of a flautist. I thought it was etherial and amazing and was trying to decide which instrument could be played in my memory (certainly nothing etherial). But during intermission my mom commented that she thought it sounded like a cat trying to cough something up, which would truly be an appropriate memorial to me and my cat-hair-covered existence.

Which brings me to something that made this evening special. I was given the gift of four tickets, which enabled me to invite my mother, sister, and niece to come to the symphony with me. There is a special level of comfort I feel when with my family, even when we are trying to beat downtown traffic and navigate streets we don't travel every day. We speak the same language, often observe things the same way. I had forgotten to take one last dose of pain pills before setting off and still was able to enjoy the evening because I was so comfortable (and because my sister did most of the driving.)

To come back to the title, we had an interesting conversation on the way home about how the Symphony members are paid. We wondered if the percussionists, who didn't appear until the second half and then took turns sitting through whole numbers were paid the same amount as the string players who sawed away frantically the whole two hours. There was also a harpsichord player who only performed during the final part of the first half and three or four harpists who didn't appear at that concert at all.  Symphony math might be quite tricky. 

I know classical musicians are usually considered underpaid,
and symphonies have been known to go on strike, but I have no idea what the actual numbers are.

Most have many side gigs--teaching lessons, playing for commercials, musicals, and in small groups. Some of them probably also drive for Uber or Lift.

(My sister lives next door to the principal bassist, who has a lovely house, and whose wife is also a musician, but it isn't considered polite to interrogate a neighbor about salary. )

If you are a classical musician or do the bookkeeping for a symphony, I'd love to hear how salaries are calculated.

THE PODCAST is a poem about a gap in the curtains through which Emily Dickinson can always see the chimney, a steeple, and a hillside. There is also the bough of an apple tree which shows the change of seasons. I thought it was an interesting perspective for people who may be stuck with a very limited outlook.

THE KNITTING is primarily custom order made for someone who wanted a hat with the Atari logo and ET from the infamous Atari video game. We communicated quite a bit about the design. I hope he is happy with the final result. If you have a particular hat design in mind, contact me through my shop.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Break in the Clouds

As I write, the sky is grey and there is snow on the ground, but my world is sunnier.

Husband's job issue has been resolved. He will be working for a different branch in the same company. Allowing him to make what seems like a simple internal transfer went clear to the VP level for approval and gave us two months of stress, but once again all is well.

We celebrated by ordering a lot of Christmas presents and buying a few more lights for the yard. It will take a while to feel secure again, which may be good. The fear we felt approaching unemployment has made us re-evaluate our finances. We should be in a much better position financially if this happens again.

Now my main goal is coziness. I want to add as much warmth and comfort as possible to nestle my little family through the winter. The house has been cleaned and Christmas decorations are up.

I'm trying to budget my limited energy around spending time with Husband and kids and baking treats for all of us.

For example, this blog will be short again because Husband has been craving chewy ginger cookies. (I call them ginger snaps, but they have the consistency of peanut butter cookies, so I know that isn't right.

We haven't been able to find the Lofthouse version of these cookies at the grocery store, so it's up to me to bake and they are relatively labor-intensive. It's weird what I have to classify as too hard.

 I wonder if I will ever get used to my limitations or if I will continue to wake up every morning disappointed by familiar pains.

But baking cookies, finding places to put up lights, blogging, and podcasting are all distractions from such feelings. The focus is on positivity and coziness. I'll try my best.

(A frustration with blogging for the last two months has been an inability to respond to comments. At first, answers I typed on my laptop disappeared when I pushed "publish,"but I could answer from my iPad. Now, that doesn't work either. I use Google Blogger. If you have run into this problem and have suggestions, let me know. I've let Google know, but that's basically yelling into the void. I really enjoy your comments, don't give up on hearing back from me.)

THE PODCAST was published on the last day of November and just before we had our first snow to stick around (only about an inch right now). The poem is a prayer for help in surviving winter, a prayer I have been repeating in my mind since I read it.

Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind--
Thy windy will to bear!

This applies to not just winter, but to any hardships that we just have to find a way to live with.
Emily Dickinson suggests a squirrel late to hibernate shares her sentiments. I hope the birds, squirrels, and deer that raid my feeder find a bit of comfort from the extra food. (Who knew deer ate sunflower seeds?)

THE KNITTING has been focused on future gifts and on coziness. I knit a fewpillow covers for the living room sofa

and a "plant" for the front porch.

I've also completed four scarves that will eventually be available in my shop.

I'm also crocheting a granny square Christmas blanket and designing an Atari ET hat as a commission piece. But now it's nap time for twenty minutes before time to cook dinner.