Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A weekend to remember ...

I left for NYC Friday, in the early afternoon; on the bus. Made my way from 42nd St. to Greenpoint and spent the night at my friend's apartment. He was kind enough to lend us one of his two electric keyboards for our recital Saturday afternoon and I packed it and my cello into a hired car and headed over to Windsor Terrace, for the church where we'd be holding the recital. We were allowed use of the hall and it was a very nice space, complete with raised stage, lights, etc.

I quickly ran through portions of my piece with the pianist for the first time, as did a few of the other students who were playing with piano accompaniment. It was a nice ice-breaker and helped shake off a few nerves. When everyone had arrived, we ran through a group piece a few times and deemed it suitable to play at the end of the recital.

I was the next to last student to play so I had plenty of time to experience butterflies, and practice centering. It went well and I am happy about that. Might even have video to share next week some time. :)

Back in Greenpoint I celebrated at my favorite Thai restaurant, then spent another lovely evening visiting with my friend. He is a composer, pianist, accordionist, organist, and gay--like myself, so there is never a loss of topic for conversation.

Sunday was a very special day. I left the apartment early and got to our staging block before the commotion began. Equipped with my camera and video recorder, I was set to capture the day for posterity.

The Supreme Court decision which came down Friday was cause for celebration, and there was no lack of jubilation in the streets on Sunday! Oh what a joyous occasion. What a long road it's been from Stonewall (1969) to today. There were definite moments of emotion at the March. As always, turning on to 5th Avenue causes a welling up, as does passing in front of The Stonewall Inn where it all began. There were other moments as well, during the parade, at the realization that the roaring crowds are cheering the end of an oppression. It is overwhelming and very fine indeed.

A day at work yesterday and back home today. I'm thrilled to be able to partake of these events in the big city and then return to a place where it's a bit quieter. :) Without further ado, here's my 6 hour Sunday experience condensed into 9 minutes. Following my video is another video about the March that I really like, so there it is too! It was a very special day indeed! :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Grosbeak ...

Firstly, the chamber music recital is over and done. It went well, I am happy to say. We (my duet partner and I) had a few glitches but nothing catastrophic. We were there to learn and experience performing and that's what we all did. I'm really glad I signed up for the festival; it leaves me in a good place for Saturday's upcoming performance in my teacher's recital. Feels hectic, I'll say that. Practicing for 2 recitals and the orchestra which meets on Wednesdays! But it's good to get immersed now and then.

It's been a while since I picked up one of my spindles, but I started a yarn last Saturday evening knowing that it would be something I could do in the practice room before the recital began. It's a great occupier and helps me deal with nerves when there's little to do but be aware of performance butterflies!

It amounts to 48 yards of 2-ply yarn. Bought the top at Vermont's Sheep & Wool last fall. I think I'm going to keep the spindle within reach for a while. Its therapeutic effect won't be amiss at this time.

Thrill of thrills! A rose-breasted grosbeak has been visiting my bird feeder. I caught a glimpse of him/her last week and spied him again the other day from inside the front doorway. It faces directly upon the feeder, so I quickly dashed off to fetch the camera and managed to catch a few good portraits. So exciting! Years ago I purchased a porcelain figurine of a rose-breasted grosbeak but have never seen one in real life. There is a slight fuzziness to these pictures because they were taken through the screen in the door.

Much rain overnight and today. And hail! I read an absolutely horrible joke today... What's worse than when it's raining cats and dogs? Hailing taxi cabs. Yes, that deserves a great big groan! :)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Space perception ...

I became aware, this week, of the way I perceive the space around me ...

When I first arrived here (or more accurately, return here after a 35 year sojourn in NYC) the edge of the front lawn seemed a field away! It felt very far from the house, and removed; on the edge of safety. The lady slipper appeared up near the stone wall woods--which location seemed very remote from the house! I noticed the other day, however, that the lawn no longer seems an expanse, and that even at it's furthest reaches it's still just the edge of the front lawn--practically part of the house! And the lady slipper made it's appearance in an area which is becoming part of my garden.

It fascinated me, this observation, and it makes sense. In NY one's space is very confined and it is rare to even have a back yard as I was very fortunate to enjoy. Even with a backyard, one's space barely reaches a hairs breadth beyond one's nose! It makes sense that when I first got here the edge of the lawn would seem far from the house, but it makes me chuckle because I can now see that it's not very far, and my lawn is not that expansive. HeeHee. My sense of space has changed for moving out of the dense city.

It's good.

An intense few days of chamber music festival (the inaugural season of the Hanover Street Chamber Music Festival). We rehearsed last night from 6:30 to 9:00, with a break, of course. We reconvened this morning at 10:30 (10:15 or so for those of us who wanted to partake of coffee and donuts--yes, please!) for another hour and ten minutes followed by a break for pot-luck lunch--ever so yummy!--followed by another hour and ten minutes. Whew! It takes me about 50 minutes to get to the school from here so last night I stayed over at my cousin's house. She lives just down the street from the school.

It's been absolutely grand. I'm in a duet, playing with another cellist, and we have enjoyed coaching from 2 instructors at the music school. They are both wonderful teachers and I'm learning a whole lot. I love the music we're playing: Early baroque; it's a great pleasure.

Tomorrow we have a dress rehearsal at 12:30 and a recital at 2:30.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

A big spring ...

Yes, it has been a big spring. A few good items have been crossed off my mile-long to-do/wish-list. More than half the brambles are cleared, the second garden bed is filled with compost, an arbor now graces the south side of the garden, three dead and/or dying trees have been felled.

After a slightly rocky start what with no rain for several weeks, we are now receiving rains regularly. The rainy days have been book-ended by beautifully sunny, warm spells. Yet, it's still cool enough--especially on the rainy days (in the 50s)--as to keep the peas and radishes pleased. It also dips into the 50s at night. The wool works are useful up here and that feels good.

I was recently challenged to share my garden with friends on the ubiquitous Facebook: 3-5 pictures a day for 5 days, so I'll share the same pics here for those who don't see me there. Below.

I'm enjoying salad from the garden this week and it's been good to lunch on arugula/lettuce mix and spinach with fresh radishes topped with some peelings of parmesan cheese. Good for my waistline as well, it wanting attention for some time now. Not to say I'm trim from 3 days of salad lunches, but one needs start somewhere! My efforts, sadly, are somewhat undermined by the lemon meringue pie, and the banana cream pie I made on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Yes. But I'm being as good as I can and they'll be shared with others tomorrow so the threat is temporary, so long as I refrain from baking anything more. But I really had my heart set on some fruit tarts and have the ingredients, so they will happen, but I'll share around.

The banana cream was still awaiting it's cream in the picture.

Do you know there's a trick to making meringue? Yes there is. When adding the sugar, it must be done slowly--a few tablespoons at a time and those few tablespoons need to be dissolved before you add any more. Pinch and roll a bit of meringue between the thumb and finger after each addition; if it feels gritty, keep beating until it feels smooth before adding any more sugar.

The secret to the deep yellow color of the lemon curd is farm-fresh egg yolks!

The garden picture challenge pictures:

Friday, June 5, 2015

A new project ...

Yes, continuing on the quilt craze, I've decided to make what's called a "watercolor quilt". As the term implies, it's a technique for piecing in a way which creates broad washes of color. The first step is to cut lots and lots and lots of 2" squares of many varieties of fabric. There are a few rules to help in the selection of fabric, one being that it should contain strong contrast of color, two: not have a small repeat, three: not be a solid, and possibly a few more clues to help in selection.

When the squares are all cut out the task will be to sort them by value--not by color--into dark darks, medium darks, medium lights, and light lights. When that is all done then I can focus on a design and use my palette of 2" squares as an artist might use a brush and paint. I'm hoping for the best.

I was able to get some cutting in a few days this week. Since the squares are 2"x2" it's going to take a lot of them to make a quilt.

The garden and the yard has been a major preoccupation for the past few weeks. I feel my vision is taking shape and I'm quite pleased with the way it's coming together. Pretty much what I had in mind, at least as regards the smaller stuff. The bigger stuff (deck, driveway repair, drainage work, etc.), well, that has to wait a bit.

In other news, June and July are turning out to be filled with musical activity. I signed up for a 4-day chamber music seminar in the neighboring town of Lebanon, and we meet for the first time next Thursday for 3 hours. I have received the music I was assigned--a cello duet by a composer named JB de BoisMortier from around 1737. It's lovely and I'm excited about playing a duet with a fellow cellist from the orchestra. The following week we'll meet for 3 hours on Friday, ditto Saturday, and on Sunday we'll appear in a small recital. We'll be coached by the cello teacher at the UVMC.

Starting next Wednesday is a 6-week summer orchestra season and I'm signed up for that as well. It will be lead by a guest conductor and the program will feature lighter fare; a "Pops" type of affair. Should be fun! The concert will be July 19.

Finally, I'll be in my teacher's student recital in Brooklyn the last Saturday of June. The date is perfect as it means I'll in NY for the big Pride Parade on Sunday. I haven't marched in it since I moved up here and it will be nice to reconnect. Lot's of fun, celebration, and excitement!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Strawberry moon... and a few other pictures...

Last night was the strawberry moon full moon. I went upstairs for my slumber around 1 a.m. and the light from the window was extraordinarily bright, so of course I had to have a gaze. There was fog and mist in the air diffusing the light of the moon in most dramatic fashion.

The other pics. This beauty was almost run over by the lawn mower last weekend; I spotted it just in time. There were 2 plants right close to each other. Fascinating flora...