Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Don't worry - I'm not one to wax philosophical, or at least not at length. I just hope that all 2 or 3 of my loyal readers have a good new year. May you weather life's trials, may at least one dream come to fruition, and let us know when you can join us at the cabin! :D

We wish you a Merry Christmas...

Spent Christmas w/ the family and it was good. We got in late Christmas Eve, so getting up for 7:30 mass the next morning was tough, but it was worth it. I joined Mom (organist), K and her family (3 of them playing brass for prelude carols, one son singing bass) to provide the music and it was great. Best of all was closing with Joy to the World. Mom always - always - modulates to a higher key for the last verse, which I absolutely love because it adds to the joyfulness of the music. I'd been looking forward to it, and was already happy to be singing with family. K's voice & mine blend well together anyway ("that genetic thing", as another sister quipped), and her son, well, same genetic compatibility, which added to it. By the time we got to Joy to the World and that long-awaited final verse, I was singing away with tears running down my face - glorious!

The rest of Christmas Day was a bit crazed, partly because I still had to wrap all the presents we'd mailed ahead to avoid the baggage fee for the extra suitcase they'd've needed. H and her family arrived for the weekend that day, and the boys were SO full of energy after being cooped up in the car. And of course there was all the cooking and last-minute prep that needed doing for dinner for 26, since there's only so much you can do ahead. But it was fun, everyone was healthy, my nieces' nightgowns were big hits (though the younger one's was so big it dragged on the floor), and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Friday was only slightly less quiet, partly because we were having dinner at Mom & Dad's again, this time including J's in-laws, who got into town that day. Dinner was mostly leftovers, which was just fine - I happen to love left-over turkey and the carbs that usually accompany it.

I also managed to squeeze in a visit with a friend I've known since grade school, the Chief & I treated ourselves to a coupla goodies at Williams-Sonoma, and we even got a little quiet time with my aunt & uncle (who were putting us up in their guest room) despite spending a LOT of time at Mom & Dad's cooking & cleaning up afterwards. Our last day, though, as I was helping Mom assemble dinner, she commented that she'd miss her "kitchen buddy" when we left. I gotta admit, it was fun sharing a kitchen with her.

The only down side was the "plague" - my oldest niece was the first one to come down with a virulent stomach virus that also attacked both her brothers and one of my brothers-in-law, and which hit the Chief the night before we were supposed to come home. Fortunately, it didn't hit him very hard - he was able to get a halfway decent night's sleep, and it abated enough that he was able to get through the flight home without incident. (Thank God it was a non-stop!) He then went to bed almost as soon as we got home - slept nearly 6 hours over the course of the afternoon and evening.

He also came home with a cold, which I'm now getting. Bleah! I've already sent our regrets to the hosts of the New Year's Eve parties we had planned to attend, and it looks like our weekend at the cabin will be spent blowing noses, coughing, and dining on chicken soup. Good thing we have plenty of nice, cozy throws out there, as well as a decent stash of firewood

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Then shall the lame man leap as an hart..." *

Mom was telling me about a Christmas party they went to last week, which boasted a small combo playing music for dancing. My father, who has been so crippled up by repeated major back surgeries and several joint replacements over the past several years that he still uses a cane most of the time, actually managed to DANCE a little!!! Mom admitted he was a bit wobbly, but given that at one point the doctors weren't entirely sure he'd be able to walk again, this is wonderful news!

* Recitative #19, Handel's The Messiah, quoting Isaiah, IIRC (I don't have my score handy).

Singing Messiah and getting paid for the privilege!

When my voice teacher asked if I'd be interested in helping swell the numbers of her church choir when they sang pt. 1 of "The Messiah" for the 4th Sunday in Advent, I agreed almost before she'd finished telling me any details. I haven't sung any Messiah in years and jumped at the chance; and she was going to let me sing a solo too? Where do I sign! Then came the kicker - she planned to pay me for something I'd happily do for free. After all, while I know plenty of people with paying church jobs, I'm not one of them. In fact, the running joke in my church choir when someone is late to practice or makes a mistake is to threaten to dock their salary (of $0).

Yesterday was our Sitzprobe, if you will - our sole rehearsal with the full complement of instrumentalists (violins 1&2, a viola, and a cello in addition to the organ). We'd been rehearsing with the organ all along, and the 1st violin (the organist's husband) had joined us Thursday, but having all 4 strings really made a difference! And it was SO cool to stand up there and sing "He shall feed His flock" with them right off my left hip (it's a very small chancel)!

I found the service a little disorienting. It's a Methodist church (I'm Catholic), and this was a special service, I was sightreading 2 of the 3 non-Messiah hymns, and I was relieved when they put me at the end of the processional line. Not a problem - I knew it would be unfamiliar, so I just watched everyone else - but as I joked with Mom later on the phone, it can't have been hard for the congregation to figure out that I was a visitor. The Messiah, however, generally went quite well. The first soloist had to clear his throat a few bars into his first solo but recovered nicely and sounded quite good thereafter. The first chorus got a little off track when one section made an entrance in the wrong place, but we recovered within a few bars and after that, the choruses were probably the best I'd heard us do. I felt good about how my solo went, got some nice compliments on it, and was able to sincerely compliment the others. It felt a little weird to go to someone else's denomination of a Sunday morning, but somehow I don't think God will mind overmuch if my prayers occasionally emanate from a church with a different "brand" out front. ;-)

Party, party, party!

You can tell it's December - I attended 3 parties in as many days!

Thursday was the big day at my new office, and what a partying bunch! Secret Santa drawing, and the white elephant ("Yankee swap", present-stealing) game, a door-decorating contest, a most-festive-attire contest, and a vast potluck spread with beer & wine among the beverages.

Friday was the Chief's office party which they also made his retirement party. There were the usual serious presentations (including a certificate and poinsettia for me), as well as some pretty good friendly ("beers of the world") and gag gifts. They obviously have some bakers in the group, as the potluck included homemade fudge and Christmas cookies. They also played the gift-stealing game; I suspect my husband didn't know he had been included, judging from the look on his face when they called his name as the next to open or steal a gift. After the party, we then proceeded to prep for the next one, going out to pick up the ducks we'd ordered, then going home to continue cleaning, polish silver, start getting the table ready, etc.

And Saturday was our dinner party. The table looked lovely, the food was OK (how do I keep it from getting cold so fast even when I warm the serving dishes?!?), and the company was great. We had rather more glitches than usual (e.g., put the jellied cranberry and the Chief's homemade cranberry sauces in their dish, which we left in the fridge; loaded up the CD player then forgot to turn it on), but nothing major. It was lovely to be able to sit and talk uninterrupted for hours; if we succeed in getting them out to the cabin, we'll be able to look forward to more of the same.

Whew; chance to catch my breath.

My, but we've been busy the past week or two! I got my nieces' nightgowns finished Tuesday and all but a few presents boxed up & mailed by Wednesday. We've been cleaning and decluttering and even decorating a little for a small dinner party last night, I've had rehearsals for my voice teacher's Messiah this morning, a Merry Widow rehearsal or two, an audition (not cast but I may well tech), saw a friend's show last weekend, made a dent in our Christmas shopping, and the usual grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, etc.

Friday & yesterday were particularly busy, with all the last-minute prep for the party, complicated by a migraine-inducing front that chose this weekend to visit. (Not that there's ever a good time to get a migraine, but still...) But we still managed to clear the worst of the clutter, shoo away the dust zoo (forget dust bunnies; we were finding rhinos, hippos, giraffes and I forget what-all else!), polish silver and get the food cooked. Today we were too tired to do much more than finish the dishes and read the paper.

The party went well, for all that it was much more intimate than originally planned. Between scheduling and family emergencies, we ended up with only 2 guests. However, as we hadn't seen them in months and months, it was nice to have them all to ourselves.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Already checked out on Snopes.com.....it's for REAL! Doesn't take but a couple minutes, please send one! This is a wonderful site. Just takes a minute and well worth it!! XEROX IS DOING SOMETHING COOL

If you go here, you can pick out a thank-you card, Xerox will print it, and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them. This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you's. Thanks for taking to time to support our military!

More waiting

Another audition last night, for a company I'd love to work with. I auditioned for them once before, but this time I was able to say I'd take ensemble. (Ensemble in Thoroughly Modern Millie was out because my knees won't stand the punishment of tapdancing.) My singing wasn't great - tone not my best, though I thought my diction was good even at the brisk tempo I requested. The dance audition wasn't bad, though there was a novelty: when my group went in to learn the dance combination, the choreographer told us that it was 6 sets of 8 counts, but she'd been instructed to advise us that "anyone over 40" was not required to do the last set of 8! None of us opted out, though one of the men in my group did inquire jokingly a couple of times about an "over 48" option. I dropped or added a step at the end the 2nd time we did it for the panel so that I didn't finish in the right place, but on the whole I don't think I did badly.

Callbacks are tomorrow & Saturday; I haven't heard anything, so obviously I'm not called back. Not a surprise - I figure they had 80 or 90 people show up, so if I get ensemble I'll be pleased. And if I don't, then it's back to searching the audition notices. TW keeps urging me to audition for a straight play; that's definitely an option.

What do I want for Christmas? an extra week or so

Though I'd settle for a day or two. I think the problem is that, for the first time in years, I've got a show in rehearsal in December. And I'm learning one of the Messiah arias, and I'm making those gift nightgowns, and we're giving a dinner party next weekend and therefore have to clean, declutter and decorate. And for all that we really need to get the Christmas presents in the mail if we want them to arrive before New Year's, only about half of them are bought. Oh, and there's all those records I have to dig out for my new office. (Sure hope those last couple of things are in the safe deposit box, 'cause I can't find 'em around the house.) In addition to the usual laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, cooking & cleaning that never go away, no matter how much I might wish it.

So, yeah, if you have a spare hour or two you can send my way, I won't even ask you to giftwrap it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nightgowns, nightgowns, nightgowns

This seems to be a nightgown year for me. First I had to make a nightshirt for my Modern Major General and a nightgown & mobcap for his 6' daughter back in May. Now I'm working on the first of 2 flannel nightgowns for my 2 youngest nieces. They'll be very cute - the nearby fabric store had some lovely flannel prints. I just hope they aren't too huge - I'm making them one size larger so they can grow into rather than out of them.


TW decided we should have a small dinner party in a few weeks, which means that not only do we have to do the usual cleaning and decluttering, but we'll decorate for Christmas, including a tree. (Since we nearly always spend Christmas out of town, with my family, we don't get a tree. Most years we don't decorate at all.) So we spent perhaps an hour this afternoon shopping for a Christmas tree. There's a tiny patch of parking lot between two mom-and-pop establishments near us where an enterprising soul is selling a small number of Christmas trees which he told us he gets from a farmer in the next state over. Unlike so many such lots, where the trees were cut a week or more ago, his trees are quite fresh - the needles on all the trees we looked at were soft and green, and there were very few needles on the ground. They were obviously freshly cut, and smelled soooo good! We settled on a nice little balsam fir, which is now sitting out on the back deck. We'll probably bring it in and put it in the stand tonight, and may decorate tomorrow.