Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Messiah ...

We performed Handel's Messiah Sunday. Bliss, goosebumps, and tears. Our logistical arrangement at the venue was as such: Conductor, epicenter, facing out towards the audience surrounded by the string quintet which was, in turn, surrounded by we, the string orchestra with oboe, trumpets, and timpani. The whole instrumental ensemble was surrounded by the choir. Audience members sat on the sides, or in back of the choir. It's the first time I've seen or experienced playing facing away from the 'house' and it worked wonderfully in the setting. When the choir sang, their voices fell directly upon those of us in the orchestra, vibrating our souls and lifting our spirits. It was overwhelming at times--such as in the Hallelujah chorus--I could barely contain myself! I'm so grateful for having had the good fortune to experience this glorious, shattering elation.

The whole episode was wonderfully orchestrated (pun!) by the conductor and the choral director, who ensured the choir was upstanding and ready to lift their voices on cue. Soloists were ushered to the right of the conductor in time to preserve the continuity of the performance without undue hindrance. Soloists--local vocal students--were drawn from the choir--an ensemble of community participants--and I was most impressed by the polished efforts on all fronts. It was, again, most inspiring. Mind you, when we rehearsed it was just us, the string orchestra. We had not heard the quintet, or soloists, or choir until the actual performance! So it was as much a thrill for us as for the audience, I would venture to say.

Oh, it was tremendous! A very big congratulations to the instructors, conductors, and organizers.

This picture showed up on Facebook. If you look the the center, right, you can catch a glimpse of moi-self. I should note that this picture encompasses just a fraction of the choir and, in fact, it was a mighty congregation indeed!

Oh, what an event. What an evening! I shall never forget it, being my first Messiah performance. Very happy here.

Handel's Messiah by King's College, Cambridge Choir. Most definitely worth a listen to:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A walk... and a Christmas tree...

For the first time in several months, I took a walk yesterday. Out the drive, and right, down the hill. Stopped at my neighbors near the historical society building (which used to be a schoolhouse). They live in an 1800s Colonial and it is so romantic. I've purchased a number of items from the antique shop they run during the summer months. It was a nice day for a walk and it was a much needed walk. I need many more. Since the weather turned cool I've been spending much too much time sitting. Sitting at the piano, sitting at the cello, sitting at the organ, sitting at the computer. The calories don't know where to go! So they've been sticking around. In my case that means the midriff--something inherited. Walks will need to be on my schedule for a bit. I've been on the same size pants for several years and would just as soon keep it that way.

Took a few pics along the way. I do just love it here.

I put a tree up this week whilst the piano technician was in working on my antique pump organ. This year, a 'floor model'. :)

The LED lights on the ceiling I put up a month or so ago. Since there is so much wood in the room, and my windows are on the small side, I've been trying to think of ways to brighten things up a bit. One idea I have toyed with is whitewashing the ceiling--and I may eventually do it. In the meantime, I thought putting LEDs up would bring in some atmosphere and they sure do! Quite magical indeed!

I have another small tree upon which I've hung some vintage and antique "baubles" (as they say in Britain).

We had our last rehearsal for Handel's Messiah this evening before the concert on Sunday. My word! We had 3 basses, 4 cellos, and the violins and it sounded wonderful! I think it's going to be a special event. Joining us at the concert will be a string quintet, trumpets, timpani, and of course, the choir. I think it's going to be heavenly!

I ordered a bit of pork and a bit of beef from the farmer's market last week (along with a slice of smoked ham!) so I can make the ever-so-special tourtierre for Christmas. I can smell it baking in my imagination as I write. :)

Unseasonably mild temperatures. Oh yes. And no snow yet. Quite a departure from my first two years here. I can't say I mind terribly much this year. I'm looking forward to the exquisite beauty but for now, I'm in no hurry. After the holidays I'm sure we'll be blessed with some crystalline splendor.

An acquaintance of mine, married to a high school classmate, has a new children's book just out. Take a look, and order it for some special child in your life... Growing Up On A New Hampshire Pond. I've ordered mine; can't wait.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cute and clever ...

I stumbled upon an idea today for something called "Unpaper Towels". I think it's just brilliant. Basically, ~10"x11" sandwiched cloth towels rolled up just like the paper versions. They are super quick to make, loads of fun what with picking out colors, inexpensive, and useful! How much better does it get?

I purchased a bundle of terry cloth wipes in the auto department of our local superstore this afternoon. They should make a good first layer. Time will tell. If they ravel or disintegrate too quickly, I'll look for something sturdier. I made four towels so far and will probably put together a set of seven or so. Enough to last a week or more.

I followed the directions except that I added a top stitch after turning the cloths right side out. I think it will secure the seam even more and add to the finished look of the towels.

The clever bit is how they get snapped together!

These are the four I've put together so far...

The idea comes from this page: Do it yourself un-paper towels.

I used my sewing machine. The '40s White Rotary. :)

Here's something beautiful to help celebrate the season...

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas tree ...

I have kept my 1940s White Rotary busy these past few weeks making Christmas ornaments for a small tree that I'm donating to the Enfield Shaker Museum for their annual Christmas tree festival. It's been enormous fun picking out fabrics and buttons, and faux gems to finish them off with. The tree, along with several others will be raffled off to raise funds for further restoration of the Great Stone Dwelling. I pieced together a small skirt to go with it, in the style of the table runner I recently completed.

I made the garland with the ruffler attachment and a strip of fabric. It's my first time using a ruffler--what a neat contraption! It makes a perfect decorative garland. I may make more from wider strips of fabric to hang around here for a festive air.

Who would have thought it'd be December already! We had our first snow of substance this morning, minor as it was. It was only a light covering but it hung around till later this afternoon, and had me singing to myself, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..." Although snow is a little later this year, it has been cool enough on some days. These icles were gracing the rocks along Halls Brook Road last week:

Our string section rehearsed Handel's Messiah Wednesday evening and it was a complete and total joy. Oh my! We'll have two more rehearsals I believe, then we'll play for the sing-along at Lebanon's Congregational Church on the 20th. Next Wednesday evening, myself and 4 other cellists in our class, along with our instructor, will be playing Christmas music for the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce Christmas party. I think it's going to be a blast. We rehearsed some 3-part Christmas music yesterday morning.

In other news, Ciello is flying!! It took all year for enough of his wing feathers to grow out enabling him to make sustained flight. I'm wondering if he's ever been able to fly like this in his life? He may have been clipped since his early days. A sad thought, but it's a joy to see him flying now.

I bought a very different kind of Amaryllis this year--aren't Amaryllis fun!? They shoot up so quickly. It's green, not red, and the petals are thinner than the typical Amaryllis. It fits right in amongst my blossoming orchids.

I stumbled upon this video today and it's much too good not to share. The US Air Force Band in Washington, D.C.'s Union Station ...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Yes, it's been a while ...

Pause over, perhaps. I guess I needed a break. But it feels right to resume now.

Since September activity has centered--or at least tried to focus on--getting the out of doors ready for it's winter spell. I noticed this year, and was struck by how lush summer foliage is. It becomes apparent when it all bursts into flaming color then disappears. I can now see the surrounding hilltops through the barren tree trunks; the boundaries of the lawns are no longer as well defined as at the height of the summer explosion--I can see well beyond the edge of the grass into the extending forests.

The colors were very, very beautiful this fall. The surroundings of Halls Brook Road were on fire!

The front and back yards were ablaze!

And the waning days of autumn were gloriously beautiful!

The garden exited with grace and took a well-deserved bow. Job well done!

The outdoor furniture and garden ornaments are now tucked in for the coming months. I planted some new tulips and some Fritillaria bulbs but I'm unsure about those. They are sold locally, but the packaging states zone 5 and I'm wondering if they'll survive the winter. We'll find out. I decided that the now humongous rugosa patch out back has to go. It has spread incredibly fast these past 2 years but it's not producing that many flowers and tends to spend more time being an eye sore. So next year I'll have a new large, round, garden bed in it's place. I've started to pull them out--ouch! ouch! and ouch! They bite back. There's a lot of dead wood in them. The new bed will have sun flowers for sure and gladioli and so many other wonderful plants. The task of removing the rugosa's will continue in the spring at which time I'll salvage a few for plantings in other locations.

Vermont's sheep & wood festival came and went, and as always, it was glorious! Perfect weather, perfect day.

Indoors, I finished a table runner for Christmas.

And I'm in the process of making ornaments.

I finished a scarf. Knitted in 100% silk and lined with a silk-like fabric.

The orchids, having spent the summer outside, came in a gave birth. They are in blossom right now.

And the Thanksgiving Cactus is also in bloom.

Our community orchestra held our fall concert Sunday and it was a resounding success. We even received a standing ovation! I'm a little sad that rehearsals will be over now until sometime in January. However, in 2 weeks we'll start rehearsing for the UVMC (Upper Valley Music Center) Messiah sing-along which will include orchestra this year. I'm really looking forward to that. I believe the sing-along will be on 12/20. Our cello choir class ends Thursday, and that too, makes me sad. But I'm pretty sure the school will schedule another class for next semester so there's something to look forward to.

Well. Here's to keeping abreast of things "going forward"!