Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ivories and Ebonies

I play on more ebonies than ivories... That's what we organists do!  If you aren't an organist, you may want to skip the next paragraph, because it's going to be BOORRRing.

I am employed by the local Methodist church to accompany and perform on their organ and piano.  The piano is a mediocre Baldwin, but the organ is a wonderful Casavant built in 1984.  The Casavant builder is in Sainte Hiacynthe, Quebec, and I think they did a wonderful job of putting together a great sound.  Full organ is perfect for a church FULL of singers on Easter morning or Christmas Eve.  Otherwise, I get complaints about it being too loud (and without using Full Organ).  I know that I've interrupted some conversations, and caused some hearing aids to malfunction! What FUN!  

What is it like to be relied upon to lead and keep the service going?  I try not to think about it.  From June through September I was without leadership, relying on lay people to sing hymns, which was interesting every Sunday!  Now I have a fine leader who really leads... I have to watch! (Imagine that!)

December is probably the most stressful time of year: 
1.  Everyone wants to sing carols.  Well known carols that they only get to sing once or twice a year.  With organ, and everyone else singing away, and candles... You know the ones EVERYONE knows.  Unfortunately, there are a few minor places in these carols that written differently than many people "know" them, but you know, the organ is louder so it doesn't matter.  What DOES matter is the pipe organ when it's cranked up (and not necessarily loud) is an unforgiving beast.  How many times have I stopped playing but came a little too close to the keyboard below, where I've ever so slightly touched a key to hear a gigantic sound announced for all? Or a slip in the head when I've forgotten to push cancel and my foot has touched a pedal issuing forth a nasty blatt! It doesn't happen often but it certainly is memorable! (Last Sunday was one of those.)

2.  Organists usually don't play these popular carols more than once or twice a year.  So an untimely blatt is nothing compared to stumbling on a chord in a carol!  Dang... I hate that when it happens.

3.  Cantatas!  Yes, every church has the "special program" where who is the star of the show?  The director and choir, of course!  And who could bring the mood down to a grinding halt?  The accompanist, of course!  I try not to think about how much is riding on it.  In the past few years, I've been playing with other musicians who take on much of that burden, and can cover up a multitude of uncertain notes in my part.  But this year, it's just me!  

How do I do it?  How does one prepare?  I'll be writing about that in a few weeks, but I have to warn you... I'm not a pretty picture the day of the performance.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Before there was Thanksgiving

Maybe it's because I'm expecting my daughter and a baby very soon. (Remember that surge of energy you had before you delivered?)... I'm a bit crazy.  Maybe I'm stir crazy! (Give me 3 days and no job-related commitments) or... just crazy, my mind is running on fumes!

I'm tanked and ready to go--- Renaissance!  A month ago I committed to attending a friend's "Feaste" today, with the strong option of coming in authentic dress. This morning I went to the closet and pulled out my "matron faire" Renaissance costume.   Probably 10 years ago our chamber orchestra played a gig in costume, and I haven't looked at it since.  I just remember men keeping eye contact with me and that I requested the ladies to alert me if "an apple happened to roll out of the orchard".  

First the amazing part:  With outside help, i.e. my husband, the dress could be zipped up.  The frighteningly tight part is just under the boobs giving me wonderful support, and the rest is very comfy/roomy.  
Second:  I'm adding 3 inches of concealing fabric to avoid costume "malfunction".  Three inches!!  A lot to cover up, yes sir!  You know, older skin just needs a little...concealer.

So with my gown and head piece, and Kransekake in hand... I wish I had a lute...

There were musicians too.  The wooden "lur" was used to signal the many courses.  It was truly a "feaste" and good time.  Most importantly we spent many hours at the table and enjoyed the conversations, huzzah's, and revelry!  A strange planetary site occurred which gave our brains pause:  Two bright objects shot across the sky, one chasing the other!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Welcome to the aughts!

Welcome to the 00's...
Hi, everyone! Today I'm running on few hours of sleep, and I'm pumped!
In less than 4 days my house will begin filling up with my daughter and granddaughter of 5 months. For the past 3 months I've been following developments via short movies. I wonder how entertaining they are to my friends, but I guarantee that you'll chuckle at this one!

This is where YARN comes into the picture. I'm surrounded by projects that are in various stages. To get an idea of what I'm up to I've been conscientious about updating my Ravelry page. Some would even say I have an unhealthy obsession about it, but it helps me stay on top of things!

I was up late last night because a "friend" (up for discussion later) showed me a pair of slippers that came from somewhere in Russia by way of her husband's trip. Now that's a good guy, right? Bringing home beautiful handmade slippers! The catch is: I can't resist a challenge. Now to be fair, I TRIED (a bit forcefully) to coerce two fellow knitters to help with the challenge, but they were just too smart, I guess... They turned me down flatly. What was it? To re-create these slippers; in other words write out a pattern so someone else could re-create them. I don't know about copyright laws but I looked at tons of patterns (on Ravelry) and I saw nothing like them. Please let me know if it truly is published, but in the meantime today, November 25th, 2009 was the day I wrote out a pattern. Will it work? Maybe... Anyone want to give it a try? Here it is:

Slipper Socks from Russia

Use Aran/Worsted weight yarn, and US #8 needles.

Cast on 26 st.

Knit 4 rows of garter stitch, and 12 rows of stockinette.

Knit 16, k2tog, turn. *Slip 1, p6, p2tog, turn, slip 1, k6, k2tog, turn* Repeat * to * until all stitches “live” (all stitches have been picked up and knitted).

At end of last knit row pick up 10 stitches along the side of piece. Turn and purl back. At end of purl row pick up 10 stitches along the side of piece. (27 stitches)

Continue stockinette until slipper is 3” less than the length of finished foot. Start toe.

Change to contrasting color and use short rows to taper toe.

Knit to last stitch. Wrap and turn (W&T) See below. Purl back to last stitch, W&T. Knit to one stitch before previously wrapped stitch, and next stitch W&T. Wrap stitches on each side until there are 8 “live/unwrapped” stitches in the center.

Next row (tip of toe) * knit 3, slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over [psso] (3 stitches=1 stitch, double decrease), knit 3, unwrap one stitch by knitting wrap and stitch together. Wrap next stitch (this will be the second wrap making it a “double wrap”) and turn. Purl 8, unwrap next (purl wrap and stitch together), wrap next stitch (dbl wrap) and turn. *

Repeat * to * until all stitches are unwrapped.

Continue in pattern (using double decrease in center: sl1, k2tog, psso) and pick up one stitch on each side in every other row on slipper side. At top of cuff, pick up last stitch and begin bind off row. At end of row pick up one more stitch from top of cuff and bind it off with last stitch of row.

Tuck in ends!

Good luck with it. I hope to hear from someone about their success or adaptations.
And Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm joining the blog world, and wonder if anyone really comments on things.


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