Thursday, March 27, 2008


I love that word. Melissa used it last week to describe her current blogging activities, and I felt right there with her.

It was still snowing on Easter morning when I hied myself off to play in two church services. About six new inches, total, by Monday morning. Then...

It melted! My friend D- says that this is a sign of Spring here in the Frozen Tundra - snow falls, then it melts. In Winter, snow falls and it stays forever.

The white you see is still Winter snow. Big stretches of frozen, compacted, Winter snow. The biggest collections last until Summer. Another week of 40 degree weather and my yard may melt, though.

Bring on the mud!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I'm dreaming...

of a White Easter? Well, I wasn't until I woke up this morning to two more inches of snow.

I looked back through my photo catalog, and the last time we saw green grass was December 1st.

It finally warmed up this week, and we had about a 40% melt in the snow cover. Then our hopes that Spring was about to arrive were dashed overnight with two more (so far) inches of snow.

I heard the statistic on the radio this week that we have had over 100 days with snow on the ground this season, compared to an average of 94 days.

Fortunately, I have wise teachers in the house demonstrating the best thing to do when it keeps snowing - find a buddy and cuddle!

Cricket and Sharae

Seri and John

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Solos for Young Cellists

The pro hired to round out the cello section for our church Easter program recommended that I check out the series "Solos for Young Cellists," and specifically the piece Julie-O, which she thought was in Volume 3. Turns out she was wrong about that, but I couldn't tell until I had the volume in my hand, because I couldn't find a listing of the Tables of Contents. (One of my pet peeves when buying sheet music on line.) With a little more digging, I found vol 1-6, but not all on the same page. Looks like it might be in Volume 5.

The cool thing about this series (so I hear) is that you can buy a CD for each volume that contains the pieces played on the cello with piano accompaniment, and also the accompaniment alone, for practice purposes. Prices vary from $9-17 for the books (buyer beware!) and about $12 for the CD, so about $25 for piano score, cello part, and CD per volume, depending on taxes and shipping for where you decide to buy.

As another public service gesture, here are the Tables of Contents of Solos for Young Cellists.

Volume 1
Simple Folk Songs (8)
Scherzo, Op. 12, No. 3-Schlemuller
Forward, March!, Op. 14, No. 6-Schlemuller
Livi's Blues-E. W. Cheney
Clock Tower Bells-C. Cheney
Budapesto-C. Cheney
Gondola Song-Schlemuller
Concerto in C Major, III. No. 6-Vivaldi

Volume 2
Cradle Song-Squire
Drei Leichte Stucke-Hindemith
Running of the Bulls-E. W. Cheney
At Twilight-Squire
Neopolitan Dance-Marcelli

Volume 3
Serenade Basque/Adorian
Sonata in E Minor, Op. 38, No. 1/Romberg
Sonata in E Minor, Op. 38, No. 1/Romberg/Farrar (quartet arrangement)
Fond Recollections, Op. 64, No. 1/Popper

Volume 4
Sonata in C Major/Handel
Suite Francaise/Bazelaire
Le Basque/Marais
Orientale from Kaleidoscope, Op. 50, No. 9/Cui
Etude-Caprice, Op. 54, No. 4/Golterman

Volume 5
Salut d' Amour, op. 12 - Elgar
Pieces form the 10th, 12th and 14th Concerti - Couperin
* Prelude
* Siciliene
* La Tromba
* Plainte
* Air de Diable
Adagio & Allegro, Op. 70 - Schumann
Mazurka - Popper
Meditation - Bridge
Julie-O - Summer/Cheney

Volume 6
Song Without Words, Op. Posthumous 109 - Mendelssohn
Sonata in C Major, G. 4 - Boccherini
* Allegro
* Largo
* Allegro
Piece pour violoncelle, Op. 77 (Papillon) - Faure
Prayer from "Jewish Life" Suite No. 1 - Bloch
Eclectic Suite (Pops' Cycle) - Forsyth
* Potpourri
* Song of Light
* Ripsnorter Finale

(I haven't been able to find a listing for volumes 7 and 8, but will append them when I do. The Alfred Publishing site only lists CDs for these volumes (with no contents!), so I am surmising the sheet music may not have been published yet.)
(Update: it took a lot of digging, but I found links on Carey Cheney's web site. I'd still prefer to see them all listed on one page - so here it is!)

Volume 7
Concerto in G Major, F.III, Nr. 12 - A. Vivaldi
* Allegro
* Largo
* Allegro
*!*Divertimento - Haydn-Piatigorsky
* Adagio
* Minuet
* Allegro di molto
*!*Vocalise - V. Persichetti
Andante - C.P.E. Bach

Volume 8
*!* The Bee - F. Schubert
Tzig, Tzig! - W.H. Squire
Sonata in E Major (1st & 2nd mvmts.) - F.Francoeur
Restful Woods - A. Dvorak
*!* Capriccio - Lucas Foss

*!* denotes copyright permission is still under negotiation.
(I'm not sure what this means, since pieces from the earlier volumes also have this annotation, but they have been published and are available for purchase.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


It has been a very busy week, complicated not by the lingering effects of URI #5, but by a reaction to one of the treating medications. I made it through two three-hour dress rehearsals for the church Passion play on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, but spent the wee hours of Friday in the emergency room with severe total body muscle cramps. After stopping the med and eating a lotta lotta potassium through the day I made it through the performance on Friday night, then two performances on Saturday. Performances were two hours, without intermission, and very little playing downtime.

I was very grateful for my Alexander Technique training this week, because my muscles were very twitchy and tried to spasm each time I contracted one "too far". All of that practice "letting go" and "doing less" really paid off. And I'm finally feeling better - the URI is gone, the cramping stopped, and I'm back to exercising and normal activities.

It was quite a production, and I'm glad I was able to play. Huge. About 35 in the orchestra, a cast of over 100, and lots of back stage crew and production engineers. Plus a donkey and at least four goats. We ran into a girl carrying one of the latter around the church on Saturday between performances - two weeks old, and totally cute. She (the goat) and my FIL carried on quite the conversation - I didn't know he spoke goat. Usually the goats rested in large carriers off-stage, and even so were the center of attention.

DH snapped a few photos for me on Saturday afternoon - very few, because he didn't want to be flashing during the performance. This photo was taken as the orchestra members got situated beforehand. There were 12 strings in two rows on the left - I am sitting below and to the right of the green exit sign. The bright line to my right (left in the pic) is my neighbor's stand light. There were two percussionists, one on snares, the other tymp, xylophone, gong, and everything else, and two guitarists in front of us, then two rows (6 or so stands) of brass and woodwinds lowest down, and to the right in the picture. Oh, and the keyboard closest to the stage.

And here is the tiniest video clip, where you can hear a bit of music and see one set and the "choir" on stage - plus a lot of shadowy heads in the audience. Sorry, It's all he got, but it does give you an idea of the scope of the production.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

'Nip party

I stopped by the pet food emporium today to buy a new wand for "Bird," and while I was there picked up a few goodies for everybody. One impulse buy was this brightly colored pillow filled with catnip. I figured it would be primarily for Cricket, who loves catnip in bags and socks, but that's not the way things worked out.

John must be feeling better, because he immediately claimed the pillow, and Cricket quickly acquiesced. We know who's boss when he's feeling good. And I guess the stripey girls are growing up, because they had never been interested in catnip before, but, oh my, it's awfully interesting now.

Here they are after partying for half-an-hour. Don't they look like a little band of juvenile delinquents?

Monday, March 10, 2008


It's been quite a long time since I have played a concert in the evening. I was just reflecting that, between that fact and the lingering effects of my URI, I had good reason for feeling tired. But other than one major coughing fit at intermission and a few unexpected detours in the music (which I attribute to mushy downbeat syndrome in an over-excited Maestro) I though the concert went well. We did an especially good job on our premier of the orchestrated version of Katherine on my Chest/With you at your Grave. But I am sorry to say that the cello section still did not get that stringedo in the 4th movement of the Brahms. Bummer. We'll have something to shoot for next time.

My friend D- came to the concert with me, which was nice for several reasons. First, she has the same crud I have, so I was grateful that she even stirred out of her house. Second, she's from these parts, so when I heard that there were accidents on all of the major arteries into the city it was no problem to navigate around them all, and I learned a few new neighborhoods in the bargain. Others weren't so prescient, so extra pats on our backs for being on time. Third, I rarely know anyone in the audience, so it was nice to have a friend there. Fourth, I had someone to watch my coat and valuables during the performance. And fifth, she was happy to man my camera and recorder, so I have a few photos, and a few video clips, and a recording of the concert from somewhere other than under the cello section. Woo hoo! I can't tell you the last time I got to see myself in action.

So here you are; you can share in the fun. I think you can see in the photo what an odd set-up we have, giving concerts in this small church. The strings are on the same level as the pews, the winds are above us by six steps or so, and stacked far back. The tympani and harp are farthest back of all - I don't know how they can even see the conductor, who is down with us on only a step-up podium.

The video clip has my favorite theme from the fourth movement of Brahms' 1st Symphony. D- is not very familiar with these pieces, so I was amazed that one of the few clips she took caught this theme - not the first time, where the violins take off with pizzicato accompaniment in the lower strings, but later where the cellos have it. And she started the video before she could have known what was coming - way to go, D-!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Senior moments

Since the carafe for my Braun coffee maker was shattered sometime before last Christmas, I have been using an oversize Starbucks mug to make my morning coffee. I had forgotten that the coffee maker has a mechanism to protect the absent-minded from dripping coffee all over the counter – the carafe presses a lever under the reservoir upward when it is in place, allowing the coffee to flow out of the reservoir and into the pot. Fortunately, my mug is big enough to trigger that mechanism, the only cup in the house sufficiently tall.

A few weeks ago I had a coffee flood, over the counter and onto the floor. It appears the reservoir isn’t large enough to hold the whole two cups of coffee. Oops. I had set everything up, pressed GO, but forgotten to put the cup under the reservoir. I’ve only done that once though, having successfully formed the Pavlovian connection to “press button, check cup.” But this morning while I was feeding the cats I heard the familiar “gurgle, trickle, hiss, hisssssss” that indicates an overflow condition, and darned if there wasn’t coffee running down my counter again. No, the cup was where it was supposed to be, but I had apparently filled the pot twice with water.

I have no idea how I did that. My memory tracks through removing the cup from the dishwasher, filli…, well, wait. I might have grabbed the water as I passed the sink, and put it in the pot. Then I started getting the cat feeding implements together. Then I went back to the pot and put the filter and coffee in. Then I picked the cup off the counter, got water, and put the water in the pot. And somewhere in there I finished feeding the cats. Either that, or I started to make a pot of coffee yesterday and got distracted in the middle.

I don’t know where I lost the ability to continue one task through to completion, but this is a disturbing trend. And annoying. And exasperating. And fortunately, funny.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


It was an out-of-body experience. The dress rehearsal for my orchestra concert tomorrow night was this evening, and it's the first thing I've dragged myself out of bed to do since Monday. The rest of life is on hold until I recover a bit more.

Thanks to all for your good wishes. I have been following your advice assiduously, drinking copious quantities of chicken soup and tea, while surrounded by solicitous felines. It helped when I recognized I was having an asthma attack on top of this latest installment of Winter's Worst Hits, and treated it aggressively.

Tomorrow's concert could be interesting. There was a substantial article in the paper today about the contemporary piece we are playing (you would have read about that earlier if you follow my practice blog). Who knows, might be a crowd. That would be different.

Read the article. Listen to a piano recording of an excerpt.

We're also playing Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy, and Brahms' 1st Symphony. Hopefully I'll still be with the program when we reach one of the most sublime moments in all of music (IMHO), when all joy breaks loose in the fourth movement. Wish me luck.

I'd better rest now.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Calling in sick

It's cold out.
I have the flu.
Or something.
I don't feel like blogging.