Friday, December 2, 2016

Public Enemy #1

(glances at lineup of glowering mortals)  I think I might have made a few enemies tonight.

It all started innocently enough:  Darchala and I had agreed to get a mixer for the kitchen, as our mutual Yule gift to each other, and while on My morning coffee break I surfed over to the website of a local vendor known to sell such contrivances.

Lo and behold, there was the mixer we wanted, on sale for the weekend at a really good price.  There were about a dozen left in inventory.

When I got home from work, instead of making a cup of tea and kicking back for an hour so as to avoid rush hour traffic near the store, I got an overpowering urge:

Go to the store.  Now!

So I jumped in the car and I drove over there.  Got an excellent spot right near the doors.  (Thank you, Parking Gods!)

Wrestled with a shopping cart that was tangled up with another.  Liberated them both.  Headed over to the kitchen section.

There was exactly one mixer left, and amazingly it was in the colour I wanted.

And this is where the really weird part starts.

I got in line and the cashier rang up the purchase, using card "A."  The system hiccuped and had to be rebooted, but it finally took My money.

Decided to take a break and headed across the street to have coffee in the mall.  Amazingly, a parking spot right near the doors opened up just as I got there.  (Thank you again, Parking Gods!)  Coffee was very nice but comparatively uneventful, except for the fact that I was still giggling nervously at the serendipity of getting possibly the last on-sale mixer in the whole city, and the card reader glitch at the till.

Suitably fortified, I went to pick up a few groceries down the street.  Sure enough, when it came time to pay for them, I crashed a second card reader using card "B."

That's right:  In the space of a little over an hour I managed to cause Random Equipment Malfunctions in two different debit/credit machines, running two different operating systems, using two different cards.

On a busy Friday night during the Christmas shopping season.

(checks wallet)  I think I'll pay cash for coffee tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The darkness of memory

I was thinking about a couple of incidents from the recent past, specifically a 2013 trip to the International Music Camp and rehearsals with a band I no longer belong to.  What I found odd, and blog-worthy, was that the lighting in both mental scenes seemed wrong.  It was dark, as if painted over with shadow.

This isn't to say that these experiences were unremittingly bad; they were not, and in fact I remember some truly awe-inspiring moments such as the Intermediate Band's performance on the last night of band camp.  What I do remember, though, is emotional tension -- unease, weariness, perhaps even a touch of fear.  Visualizing them again, I feel a subtle heaviness in the chest.

I was conflicted, happy and unhappy at the same time.  I wanted to play the music, but at the same time I was exhausted, aching all over, and just wanted to go home and curl up in bed with a whole pile of purring cats.

Another odd thing about these "dark" memories is that they're like islands.  They seem to be cut off from what I see as the real world, almost nightmarish in their separation.  There's a sense of being trapped in the scenes, unable to just walk away.

But then there are the memories that are polar opposites, the memories of light and lightness.  I remember at the Pinawa Band Festival in 2011 actually starting to cry in the closing bars of a Lord of the Rings medley.  The realization that I was actually performing with a real, live band was a dream come true, in the highest sense of the phrase.  I remember Kurt Elling singing "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, and I was completely blown away.  The auditorium was dark but the memory shines.  Joe Satriani at the Centennial Concert Hall in July 1990, playing the opening chords of "Flying in a Blue Dream" -- again, musical light piercing the darkness of the room.

What I find fascinating about this is this darkness/light effect seems to be exclusively in musical settings.  It's almost as if the rest of My memories don't count because they don't come with a soundtrack.  This may be because I have a "phonographic" memory, with the ability to instantly recall a piece of music at will once it makes it to long-term storage.  (And yes, I am definitely the person you want on your Name That Tune team.)

Going forward, to swipe a line that may or may not have been the last words of Goethe, "Mehr licht!"

Friday, October 21, 2016

End of an era

It's been a bad year for cats, and by extension for this particular Crazy Cat Lady.  In July 2016 I lost two kinetic furballs, the inimitable Frey Kittehson and the erudite and chatty RJ-45, less than a week apart.

This past Tuesday night I said goodbye to the last member of Freyja's Dark Legion, Caramon "TumTum" Handsomecat.  Caramon, the first of Freyja's five kittens, was born on My couch on June 22, 2002 and grew up to be a striper of legendary size, weighing in only a few months ago at 17 pounds -- after shedding a few pounds somewhere along the way.  Despite being twice the size of a normal tabby, nearly a metre long from tip to tail, he was a shy sweetheart with a tiny, polite. mew and a penchant for flattening catmint bushes by lying on them and rolling around.

This is the first time since 1994 that I've had no cats at all in the house.  I keep expecting someone to come rushing up when I open a door, or to jump on the dining room table and sample whatever I'm eating, or walk all over My face at three in the morning.  In time the cat-oriented behaviours and reflexes will fade, but the memories aren't going anywhere any time soon.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Holst it right there!

Or, "Chaconne à son goût."

Like a very politely ticking clock-bomb, the metronome on My desk is keeping 3/4 time at a comfortable 110 bpm to the quarter note.

Unfortunately, I'm using it as a reference for eighth-note beats.

While working on a string of 16th notes five razzafracking bars long.  In other words, in 3/4 time I have to figure out how to squeeze 60 notes into a single breath.

I cheated.  I sneaked a quick breath between notes 30 and 31.

We're currently working on First Suite in E♭ Major by Gustav Holst, arguably one of the most famous pieces in concert band repertoire -- a mixture of breathtaking beauty, egregious silliness and outright insanity.  I'm currently working on the first two sections of the Chaconne, which, as near as I can figure, means "You woodwind guys go on ahead and the rest of us will catch up with you later."

I really think the "Brillante" indication  for section B should be crossed out and replaced with  "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate," but if Dante and Virgil could get through hell, so can I.  Back to work.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

It's on. It's -so- on.

The thing about autumn is that it's Full of Stuff. As usual, I have so much Stuff on My plate that I may have to pop out to the store for larger dishes. Now playing, or coming soon, to a goddess near you:
  • Community band season is in full swing now, as is another year of clarinet lessons.  As a result, at varying times I am now playing regular clarinet, alto clarinet, alto sax, and now flute (which, for the record, is the first woodwind instrument I ever tried to play).  As if that weren't enough, I'm attending a local workshop in a couple of weeks.
  •  At long last, I managed to carve out a time slot for Icelandic lessons.  As one of the items on My bucket list is to go to Iceland sometime in the next 10 years, this is not a moment too soon.
  • Working out the logistics for a trip down to the States in August 2017 to see the total eclipse of the sun on August 21.
  • Winnipeg Symphony's starting up as well, so I expect to spend some quality time at the Concert Hall in the near future.
  • I've also been knocking off one project after another after another.  Took 2 loads of concrete to the dump.  Finished sewing a quilt.  Painted things.  Built things.  Cleaned things.  Wrecked things.
  • Oh, and it's time to think about assembling the ingredients for Yule fruitcake.
In the midst of all this I realized that I had only nominally celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19 (arr...), was vaguely aware that a Vernal Equinox had occurred on September 22 (waves to everyone south of the equator) and completely forgot about National Punctuation Day on September 24.

I think I'm going to need a bigger calendar, too.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Canada's busy. Come back tomorrow.

Currently listening to The Tragically Hip:  A National Celebration live on CBC radio.

The poutine-flavoured potato chips and can of Barking Squirrel lager fit right in.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bees that smell like Earl Grey tea?

When I was coming home from work yesterday, I stopped to admire a patch of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)  Darchala and I had planted beside the front sidewalk.

At a time when bee populations are in peril from dangers such as colony collapse disorder, I was absolutely thrilled to see fuzzy little black and yellow nectar-transporting dirigibles having a grand old time with the flowers.

If they start uttering things like "I say, old chap!" and asking for cream scones and cucumber sandwiches, just oblige them and send Me an invoice for the dainties.