Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are you scarred for life?

A friend recently solicited stories of scars in her blog. Let's see if I can get some responses to a similar query - tell a tale of your favorite scar or scars. I'll start:

I've got several tiny scars (lotsa moles removed at various times) but the one with the best story is the "seam" from the side of my nose past the corner of my mouth (with a few "extra" fillips around the lips) down to my jawline, where my friend's brother's dog bit me in the face. When the plastic surgeon finished sewing, my face was so full of black sutures that I looked like the bride of Frankenstein, especially a few days later, when the bruises started turning that lovely greenish-yellow color they get when they fade.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A woman of many parts

Soon to include "Hungarian pronunciation coach". A local theater company is doing Chicago and a friend volunteered me (with permission) to help them with the Hungarian dialogue. Not that I speak Hungarian, mind you, but when I was with a Hungarian folk dance troupe, we had to sing in Hungarian while we danced. That meant lots and lots of pronunciation drills led by the group leaders, who did speak Hungarian.

One more oddball credit for my theater resume, along with having sewn a 25-foot muslin cyclorama and coached members of a Patience cast in the playing of finger cymbals. Come to think of it, I've contributed finger cymbals to two Patience productions, along with a tambourine or two. You just never know when it'll prove handy to have a bellydancer in your cast. ;-)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Working weekend

The Chief & I spent the day cleaning and trying to put things away. Added a few more things to the give-away pile, the recycling bucket is full already (recycling day was just yesterday), and the dust is receding, slowly but surely. I was able to get all the linen & cotton napkins into a single plastic bin (with itemized list of contents so we don't have to empty the thing to figure out what's in there), which went into the rebuilt closet. This made enough room in the bottom of the china cabinet to stash the 12 Limoges dinner plates & 12 coordinating bread-and-butter plates Dad gave us when he moved to the smaller apartment. At this rate, we'll be able to see the top of the dining room table by tomorrow night, or Monday at the latest.

Tomorrow we're taking 2 of the Chief's orientals to be appraised before donating them to one of his favorite charities as auction items. We may also do a bit of dishwasher shopping, since ours died on Thursday. The repairman diagnosed the problem today as a bad mother board, but won't know how much it'll cost until he can check the price on Monday. Won't be cheap - the repairman thought it could run $250-$300 - but if it's less than half the price of a new one, we'll fix the one we've got.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Maybe now we can start relearning the service music...

A friend posted a link in his FB status to this article. For those of you who aren't Catholic, or who are but aren't language geeks, the Catholic church has been preparing a new English translation that adheres more closely to the Latin in the Missale Romanum (Roman missal).

This has been hanging over the heads of everyone involved in the liturgy, including church musicians, who can't order new copies of current hymnals because the service text is going to change, yet haven't been able to get new versions because the publishers and composers couldn't print any until a new translation is authorized.

The lumps get silly.

This only runs 3 times a week, and here I am posting 2 of them:

I'm a what?!?

My current and previous 2 teachers have all gone through the same exercise - trying to figure out where my voice sits so they know what music to have me work on. Soprano? Mezzo with an extension? My last 2 teachers finally settled on mezzo, but NA has decided differently. Last week she told me she thinks I've got a lyric soprano inside me trying to break free, that If I've previously been "diagnosed" a mezzo, it's because I was "under-energized" and not supporting properly and therefore not singing to my full capability.

Perhaps to start to stretch my vocal envelope, as it were, she helped me pick a new audition piece: Offenbach's Hymn to Bacchus, from Orphee aux Enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld). It's quite range-y - goes down to an A below middle C and up to the A below high C, a full 2 octaves. The lower A is no problem, but that upper one? I'm gonna hafta work to get into training for that one, but my teacher seems to think that if I get on track with "focused practice", I'll be fine. Sure hope so; I anticipate needing it sometime in October or November.

Good day at work

This morning I finished up a week-long class at work (how to get a coupla new apps to do their very neat tricks) and didn't just pass the final, I aced it - 100%!

Better, my HR rep is now working on the electronwork to lock in my next assignment. It's a good one that I hadn't even known was out there, and a colleague who knows a few folks who work in that office told me they all love it there.

This bookends a work week that started out on a high note: I got in Monday morning to find an auto-message from HR that I'd been given a cash award, and not a small one! Good timing, as we just got the bill for all those funerals we've been traveling to lately.

"And now that you've departed, you leave us broken-hearted."

Feeling a bit maudlin tonight. The Chief & I went to a seminar last night by an attorney whose firm specializes in estate planning. With 3 funerals already this year, that's been on our minds anyway, so when he heard the ad for the seminar, he signed us up. Surprisingly, it was actually quite interesting. We've now got an appointment for the free consultation offered to seminar attendees (the legal equivalent of a loss leader; they're hoping we'll hire them to do the planning work for us) and have started assembling our information, such as the wills we drew up before the Chief's post-9/11 deployment. I e-mailed the appropriate people about making donations to a scholarship at my high school named for my late, lamented French teacher (one of the best teachers I've ever had in any subject) and one at my mom's alma mater which she & Dad established in the name of my late daughter.

Which has me thinking about my biggest losses to date. The Chief tries to make it happy - "your mom's finally getting to meet her granddaughter" - but in a way that makes it worse. I know Mom's death hasn't really, truly registered with me yet, and I don't expect it to until we go out to my family's for Christmas and Mom's not there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Putting things back or culling the herd

As the Chief has been cleaning up the construction mess, he's also been rearranging things. The books, of course, are getting rearranged because we have those spiffy new built-ins. We've given away 2 of the old, freestanding bookshelves but kept a 3rd. We also had a "double-wide" bookshelf which is now in the guest room, along with the guest bed, 2 nightstands, and wardrobe. We've got someone coming this weekend to take the old desk my computer sat on; now to wipe said computer's hard drive and haul it off for recycling.

We've got big plans for the "library" once the desk is outta there. The Chief moved the kitchen table in there the other day and replaced it with a drop-leaf table from the basement. That way I can leave a sewing project out while I work on it without affecting the kitchen table.

Once the desk and old computer are gone, I can finally set up my keyboard again and hang a mirror nearby so I have a practice area. I've already got my music shelved for easy access (except for the stack of loose stuff I still need to organize), so eventually the library will also function as a studio. The Chief already has his workbench and tools, so I suppose it's my turn now. ;-)

Now to dust and shelve (or cull) a few more books...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"I'm getting closer to my goal"

The built-in bookshelves are just about full, mostly with paperbacks but also with music (scores, collections, hymnals...) and oversize books. The Chief spent much of the day dusting books and shelving them. Not in alphabetical order, unfortunately, though he did try to keep a given author's books together. Quite an impressive array; I'll have to get pictures once the dusting and shelving are finished.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Acutely aware of our mortality right now

We've had a heckuva year:
  • The Chief's mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January and put on home hospice care.
  • My mom died very suddenly of cancer in February.
  • Her older brother, who's been fighting cancer for several years, was put on hospice care at the end of April.
  • The Chief's cousin learned in May that her cancer was back again.
  • I just flew out to KY last week for the funeral of KL's partner (might as well have been her husband). He was only 42 years old, so his family & friends will be reeling from the shock for quite awhile.
  • And we got the call about my uncle earlier this evening. God finally answered his prayers and called him Home. KY funeral last week, MO funeral this week. The Chief is debating whether to go with me or stay put, in case he needs to travel to his mom's funeral. We were just up there last weekend for a visit; my MIL looked pale but seemed otherwise strong, though that doesn't necessarily mean much.
And various friends have been facing all kinds of challenges, not fatal but still demoralizing - unemployment, health problems, financial straits, kid worries and so on. I generally have a pretty positive outlook on life, but lately it's been rather a challenge to look on the bright side. It all makes the joy of C&D's wedding seems like ages ago, not a mere month.

The remodel is DONE!!!

The Chief started demolition in the front bathroom in mid/late December, the first workmen walked through the door the first week of January, and the last one left Thursday. Hallelujah!!! That's SEVEN months of crews and carpenters, and 7 1/2 months of living in a combination construction zone and storage unit.

The Chief barely shut the door behind the carpenter on Thursday before starting in on the next big project - cleaning up the mess and putting everything away. We'd already done some, of course - we put away most of the bathroom stuff a week or two ago, when the cabinet was finished, and I filled most of the built-in bookshelves a month or more ago. However, now that all the tools and construction supplies are gone or put away, we can start in earnest to dust and wash and vacuum. The curtains in the living room and office went into the wash yesterday; I hope to wash the rest of the lace curtains tomorrow. Tonight the Chief & I reassembled the guest bed frame, though we won't add the mattress & bedding until we finish cleaning in there.

Two reasons for the big push - Dad is coming for a visit in mid-September and, more importantly, we can't wait to have the place looking like a home again, instead of a dusty old attic.