Sunday, June 27, 2010

Domestic diva to go

A friend of ours finally bought his first house a couple of months ago and has been doing some major repairs in addition to the usual settling-in things. I offered to make him some curtains to help him keep expenses down, so a couple of weeks ago we went shopping for curtain fabric. He found several "candidates" for the kitchen curtains. I explained about swatches, so he piled up the bolts and headed off to the cutting table. To my surprise, the woman wielding the scissors gave him pieces perhaps 3 inches by the full 45-inch width of the bolt! Sure made it easier for him to decide which fabric he wanted in the kitchen, though I did go over there last week (at his request) to tell him my choice from among the 3 "finalists". I told him how much fabric to buy and will probably get them sewn up sometime in the next few weeks, depending on when he gets the fabric.

We had friends join us at the cabin this weekend (temps in the 90s and no a/c - we spent most of the weekend being limp and letting their baby entertain us). When I mentioned I was sewing curtains for DB, or maybe it was the costuming I've helped with, she wondered if I'd be willing to show her how to sew. Then this morning she asked me how to make chicken soup w/ a carcass; picking up on my passing reference to drippings for gravy, she followed up by saying she didn't know how to make gravy from drippings, either. I've since sent her instructions for both gravy and chicken soup, and said that if she buys the supplies for a basic sewing project, I'll help her through it. They live about an hour away so we'll have to make an effort to schedule this, but it should be fun.

Explaining my choice of curtain fabric for DB's kitchen made me feel like something of an expert, and having my girlfriend ask me for help with so many domestic things makes me feel that I actually know some stuff worth knowing. ;)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The end is near

We're finally coming into the home stretch with all these umpty-gazillion remodeling jobs. The tilers come tomorrow to start the floor and shower in the back bathroom! The Chief has already scheduled the plumber to come in on Monday to install the new toilet and sink & shower faucets. The new bookshelves are completely done, the closet doors just need the knobs installed (the Chief got some temporary ones which he'll swap out when the porcelain ones come in). The wall cabinet in the back bathroom still needs handholds cut in the drawers, faces on the drawers, and the doors (handles will ship tomorrow, from the cabinetmaker who made the vanity and medicine cabinet).

The carpenter is taking far longer to do his things than we'd ever anticipated (he sorta promised everything would be done by mid-April - 2 months later, I'm wondering how much longer this is gonna take) but at least the finished product looks really good. I'd love it if this is all finished and the workmen packed up & gone by the end of next week. It could happen - the tilers will be finished sometime Friday, the plumber will only need a few hours on Monday to do his thing, so it comes down to when the carpenter finishes. I've taken a few interim pics, but will take more pics of the finished work; I'm really looking forward to taking those "Hallelujah, it's OVER!!!!" pictures.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

One of the reasons I enjoy this strip

Frazz - June 13, 2010

That felt good...

My voice teacher's studio recital was this afternoon, at the church where she's the music director. When I warmed up at home, I was loosening a buncha crud and couldn't seem to clear my throat, so I just focused on singing past/through it. NA warmed us all up (5 of her students, plus her daughter - the two of them sang a couple of Brahms duets) and I felt pretty solid, so I wasn't nervous about going first. Had a bit of a comic moment when, just as I was breathing for my first entrance, the church's bells started to chime the hour! NA mouthed at me to "stop!" while she went to an instrument panel and did something to silence the chimes. We then started over, with no further interruptions.

I still felt that I was singing through crud, but I pumped up the energy, let myself enjoy the music ("Hear my cry, O God" by Cesar Franck and "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion" from The Messiah) and got through it with no glitches. That must have worked, because NA was very pleased with how well I'd done. The Chief also thought I'd done well. He rarely gets to hear me sing - last time was the cabaret workshop I did last summer - so he was able to hear that I'd made progress.

One of my fellow students had also sung in the last recital, two years ago. This time he sang a very ambitious program (2 Samuel Barber songs, an aria from The Student Prince and "La donna e mobile" from Rigoletto). While he forgot the words in one place in the Italian piece, when he got back on, he not only acted as if nothing had happened, but nailed the rest of the aria. I enjoyed seeing how much his voice and self-confidence have grown in 2 years.

Turns out his mother is quite the musician - big soprano voice, used to be a recitalist, has taught for years, plays violin and so on. He had been told once that he couldn't sing (!) and hadn't told his mother he was taking voice until he'd been at it for a few years. She was a bit put out, I think, that he waited so long to tell her, but was justifiably proud of how well he did.

One thing I've come to realize - the more progress I make with this singing stuff, the harder I'm working physically. It's work to keep the energy up and maintain the spin in the tone, not to mention keeping the runs in the fast parts in tempo and on pitch. But if I can keep this up, I may have a better chance of getting called back when I start auditioning for things next season.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Now open your hymnals to page...

My siblings and I all get our love of puns & wordplay from Mom. She would've loved this little gem a friend forwarded to me today:

The Workman's Hymnal
Dentist's Hymn: "Crown Him with Many Crowns"
Contractor's Hymn: "The Church's One Foundation"
Baker's Hymn: "I Need Thee Every Hour"
Weatherman's Hymn: "There Shall Be Showers of Blessings"
Ophthalmologist's Hymn: "Open My Eyes That I Might See"
Tailor's Hymn: "Holy, Holy, Holy"
IRS Hymn: "All to Thee"
Shopper's Hymn: "By and By"
Teacher's Hymn: "Be Still and Know"
-- Author Unknown

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Remodeling update

Oy, how long has it been since the last update on the Great Remodeling Project of 2010? The front bathroom is done! Full of stuff that will eventually get stored in the (larger) back bathroom, but it still looks much nicer than it did before.

The back bathroom is still in progress. The drywall is all up, including on the ceiling, the backerboard for the tile ditto. The Chief has finished painting walls & ceiling, barring a few touch-ups once the molding goes up around the doors and window. The medicine cabinet is up and lit, and the shower light has also been installed. Still to do: door and window molding, tile on the floor and in the shower; the tile should be in tomorrow or Friday.

And in the bedroom between the 2 baths, the bookshelves are finished. The Chief just finished working in the support pegs for the last of the shelves, so they're all ready for me to load 'em up. The rebuilt closet in there is mostly done; the doors still need handles and something needs to be worked out so the left-hand door doesn't hit the doorway molding when opened. The new closet has a big light in it and the hanging bar is high enough for just about anything to hang full length. And if need be, we can even shove those things to one side to make room for whatever an overnight guest might want to hang up. ;)

The worst of the dust-producing stages are behind us. We've already started dusting the books and things on the bookshelves, and today the Chief moved the double-wide bookshelf into the front bedroom, soon to be redesignated the library. Once I get the new shelves loaded up, the overflow (e.g., all my foreign language dictionaries and other reference books) can go into the library.

Look - light at the end of the tunnel, and it looks like it's not a train!

Forget the solstice, it's officially summer

The lightning bugs started appearing a few days ago and the crape myrtles are in bloom - forget the "official" first day of summer, those are signs enough for me. There's a clump of crape myrtles sort of across the street from my building with lovely lilac-colored flowers. We've had just enough rain lately that this promises to be a good year for them. (Now watch us get no more rain for weeks...)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Switch stitiching

I helped with some costume pieces for a local show and had both my serger and sewing machine set up on the kitchen table. I needed the serger to edge 10 lengths of "tartan" as well as 10 neck ruffles and pieces for 8 jabots. Then it was over to the sewing machine to gather the ruffles and jabots and sew them to their ribbons or neckbands. It had been years since I'd had my serger out; now I remember why I thought it was worth investing in the Rolls rather than a Chevy or even a Cadillac. Not only does mine have variable-speed dogs for doing ruffles, it also does a very nice rolled edge.

I guess it's my version of power tools - the Chief has a router, table saw and so on, I've got a serger and sewing machine.

Lovely long weekend at the cabin

We got out to the cabin for Memorial Day, had lovely weather almost the entire time. Met some new "neighbors" when the Chief & I went knocking on their door to find out who installed their retaining wall, ended up sharing dinner (chez nous) and dessert (chez eux) the next night.

Dessert included some wonderful strawberries we had picked up at a farm stand on the way out to the cabin. We managed to wipe out both boxes by Monday morning, so of course we just had to stop there again on the way back and get more. My, but they were marvelous with a bit of vanilla yogurt.

I got a nice, lovely massaaaaahhhge, which I need to do more often, so my favorite massage therapist doesn't have so many knots to untie.

I picked up another spearmint plant to replace the one that didn't make it through the winter; said plant is now ensconced in a pot on the deck. Last year's peppermint, on the other hand, is coming back beautifully. I plan to take a chance and transplant it from its current pot on the deck to a bare spot down the hill from the cabin in hopes that it will spread and provide some ground cover.

We had to have several trees taken out, most of them dead or dying, with a few that were too close to the house for fire safety. One of the biggest trees removed was on one side of the driveway; the driveway will be much straighter once we get the stump outta there, but in the meantime, we've got reflectors in front of it lest an unsuspecting visitor wreck their vehicle's undercarriage on it.

The one flaw in the weekend was that something was in bloom that had the Chief's allergies reacting in a big way. With his croupy cough, explosive sneezing, and frequent noseblowing, it's a wonder either of us got any sleep at all.