Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16, 2012

Breakfast was a multigrain bagel with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and lowfat cream cheese. Dinner last night was 96% fat free cheeseburgers and salad. Lunch was Buffalo fries and some Hungarian goulash. Temperature extremes since last update 22.6 and 66.6. Music Going Through My Head as I Type This Mind the Gap Large Expenses since Last Update hôtel in Saratoga Springs, $74; Christmas gifts, $630; Pickles from PickleLicious and The Pickle Guys $129 including shippingCompanies That Have Not Covered Themselves in Glory Holiday Inn Ithaca— breakfast not included, and sl-o-o-o-ow internet.  Companies That Have Covered Themselves in Glory Max London's restaurant in Saratoga — tasty, inexpensive meal! Facepalm All incidental hotel expenses were covered by Ithaca College, and I bought my own lunch there. Pointless Nostalgic Reminiscence My sister had a killa Atala bike when she was in college, and naturally one night it got stolen. It was insured(!), so she was able to get an identical replacement bike. Meanwhile, the actual bicycle thief had been arrested for other things, and her old bike was found and returned to her. Technically, the insurance company owned the bike because they had paid an insurance claim on it, but they said the resale value was too low and the trouble to sell it too expensive, so they let her keep it. I promptly became owner of said bike, at age 12, and when the parents and I took it to a bike shop for a tuneup, the technician looked it over, looked at me, and said, "so you like skidding and doing spinouts!" I denied everything.  Number of Haircuts I got last week 0. Cute Cat Things to Report they get aggressive and start play fighting when I use the Cat Sounds iPad app (there's a sentence that made no sense ten years ago). This week's made-up word stirickage, the study of the visible knots in commercially produced baseball bats. Recommendation and professional letters written since last update 24. Something I did recently for the first time had Ithaca Amber Ale on tap. Yummy! Fun Davy Fact you won't read anywhere else In eighth grade, my allergies tested as cats, feathers, dust, mold, and peanutsPhotos in my iPhoto Library 22,465.What I paid for gasoline recently $3.89 and $3.87 in New York state, $3.69 and $3.67 in Maynard, $3.49 at BJ's. Current projects vernacular dances for piano, 100 préludes for piano, small ensemble piece for Verge Ensemble.  Est! Est! Est! sticky gold stars, the corner of the bedroom, some wainscotting I forgot about, a head of steam.

It is the Friday before Thanksgiving, which means that a mere week from today, it will be the day after Thanksgiving. I like my coffee like I like my days after Thanksgiving: black. But digressing is being done by me, and what it is being, too.

In an unusual turn of events, it is a mere two weeks since my last News post, which means I must be typing in a much more comfy chair, and contextualized by a far, far better operating system. Or is that just me? Yes, I'm in a comfy swivel chair — which means the cats occasionally jump onto the back of my chair and we rub shoulders and they leave fur behind— and I actually like the computer I am using. Especially since it doesn't spend the ten minutes after startup doing fairly loud disk access for mysterious reasons. I have gone on too long. Too long, this going on thing.

As everyone knows, there was an election since the last update. Our yard sign had made us immune from Republican canvassers, and I was glad, for once, to be on the winning side (in 1976 I voted for Ford, in 1980 for Carter, 1984 for Mondale, 1988 for Jesse Jackson and then Dukakis — I didn't vote for a winning presidential candidate until I was 34). Elizabeth Warren, you're no Martha Coakley. Given that the Scott Brown yard signs were in a greater density around here than Elizabeth Warren signs — I'll leave that as a dangling modifier. Which almost sounds like a gangrene modifier, which is much funnier, and way more tragic-sounding. I could Lully myself to sleep with it.

I did not wait up for the election results.

Meanwhile, teaching has been going mostly as it should. Species counterpoint is so two weeks ago, and four-part writing is the new me. This makes for harder grading, but I am so worth it. In orchestration, the strings have all been covered — and Emily Koh, our grad student composer who came in to demonstrate the double bass, played a harmonic with the assistance of her nose. Fun times, and then some. Tori taught the two full classes this week, for reasons soon to be revealed, and she was charged with covering "other" — harp, celesta, tromboon, farm animals, and mouse trap.

Also since the last update there was a Nor'easter, or Northeaster, depending on where you are from and how many hats you have owned in your lifetime. Them what make have now started giving alphabetical names to winter storms as if they were hurricanes, so this was Athena. More dire destruction predicted, with flooding and big gusts, and it pretty much was a non-event. There was a completely unpredicted inch of snow (which was finally predicted, instead of rain, as it was snowing, and the overnight amount upgrade to 3-5 inches, which was off by a factor of 200 to 400 percent). There was no wind of which speaking could be done by any of us, and by the afternoon of the day after — during which time more dire predicted winds failed to show up — all the frozen precip had melted.

Beff was actually at home for a more or less normal weekend — which currently means the opposite of what it means — and we did the usual frolicky stuff, so far as I can tell. Then she had to stay in Bangor for the weekend, and this weekend is a short one, indeed. Indeed, as I type this, she is in the car and on her way, and will be here for less than 24 hours. Why, pray tell, and why, pray tell, do we have the expression "Why, pray tell?"? She's going to San Diego for some sort of quick meetings related to being a music department chair at a state school, and then she'll be back late Monday night. So, and, the, instead of driving back to Maine for a half-Tuesday of teaching and driving back for T'giving with the masses, she will be staying for a six-day weekend. Zounds! Zooks!

Meanwhile, Seung-Ah was in town for a performance, and a rest stop on her way to the Netherlands, so we had lunch at the River Rock Grill, since it is what we did. Beer was ingested by both of us, as were zucchini chips and other various foody foods. Then we stopped eating and started walking. And she drove to the airport, apparently.

So after the less normal weekend, I prepared to go towards Ithaca, New York, since I was set to be the Karel Husa Visiting Professor thing at the School of Music in Ithaca College. For what would be accurately described as too much money, I am to be there twice, in November and April, giving lessons and masterclasses and talking about my music, etc. So packing was done, in the passive voice, by me, scores were put together, many redundant systems assembled (computer, iPod, CDs, etc.).

Plus, my friend Leslie, who lives in Ithaca, and whom I know from Yaddo 2010 is in Ithaca! (see "who lives in Ithaca" earlier in the sentence). Old home week, said I, not knowing what I was talking about. Well, gee it turned out that Leslie was at Yaddo again when I was to be driving Ithacawards, and James, also a homey from Yaddo 2010 was there, too. So I arranged with sis-in-law Ann for a heavily discounted hôtel room in Saratoga Springs on Monday night so the three of us could rêvêl. And rêvêl we dïd!

I looked at Leslie's current work in her studio, we went to Max London's in Saratoga Springs for a very nice dinner and drinks, and took this picture. Well, I took the picture. More pictures were taken at Yaddo, and having them is not being done by me right now. Then back hôtelwards went I, because I had to be in Ithaca by 12 on Tuesday, and rain was coming, and there was the issue of driving through Albany rush hour ...

So when I woke up in the lovely hôtel with fast wi-fi and free breakfast, I saw on the Them What Make page that lots of rain was around, and indeed, even some frozen precip between Albany and Ithaca. Woo hoo! I said, never. I made my way in the dark and in the pouring rain, and in the very thick (already!) traffic making its way headlong towards Albany, all the while white-knuckling it (dark. rain. fast.) until the turnoff for 90 and then 88, at which point nearly all traffic exited and I pretty much had the highway to myself.

At which point I noticed that it was snowing. Woo hoo! again I didn't say. So I maintained a civil speed and enjoyed the genuinely breathtaking mountain view scenery as it got lighter. I also stopped and went to the bathroom, but why am I telling you that?

The GPS was going to be taking me an inland route, so to speak, after my exit from Route 88, and still 65 miles shy of Ithaca. So just before my exit from 88, I exited from 88 in order to get some orange juice, coffee, and a hash brown at MacDonald's in Sidney, New York. They had free wi-fi! So I FaceTimed Beff, who was duly impressed. Her colleague Chip delivered coffee while we were speaking, and he was not at all duly impressed. By this time the snow was long over and there were a few breaks in the clouds.

And so did I do the back roads things to Ithaca, which included twisty roads along gorgeous rolling hills, and people in back of me that were pretty sure I could have been driving faster. I pulled over at one parking area and shaved, with the help of my mirror, and, and, and...

Suddenly the hills stopped rolling and there was a long, long downhill. The GPS said I was 3 miles from my turn, and eventually, well, there was my turn. And so I drove a long, long uphill. People had been telling me for years that Ithaca was hilly, and — not that I didn't believe them — well, they are right. Some of it even Berkeley/Woodside hilly. Eventually I found the campus, parked in Visitor Parking, and made my way to Dana Wilson's office in the fabulously gorgeous School of Music.

The view from the hall outside Dana's office? A finger lake. We're talkin' vistas, baby.

And so. Dana and Jorge Grossmann and I did a simple lunch at a nearby cafeteria, and we talked shop. I mention to Dana that I noticed Louise Mygatt on the faculty rolls, and that I had been a grad student at Princeton with her. He then noted that he had been married to her for 20 years. Wow. The smallness of the world is a) serendipitous b) stupendous c) really round, or d) filled with chocolate. The fate of the universe depends on your answer!

So then the schedule that was scheduled was on schedule, and stuff happened. I did a talk on how I wrote Persistent Memory for the composition seminar; I taught four composition lessons (way fun, I must add), got a ride to the Holiday Inn in downtown and connected to the snail's pace wi-fi, got picked up for dinner at a Southwestern cuisine place (really good, and I got salmon. Not in evidence in much of the Southwest, but, you know), ate, drank, and gave the how I got to be me talk that everyone was expecting. This time (I'll have to do another talk in April, after all) I framed my life as a giant upbeat to writing band music, since I wanted to play band music. Then there were questions, and answers that were not necessarily related; after which there was a rehearsal of Dances in the Dark that sounded fantastic. And of course I got a ride to the hotel, where I had two Ithaca beers on draft, and paid for them myself. Because I didn't realize that Ithaca would pay for them.

Nothing was scheduled on Wednesday until 4, so around 9 I walked around downtown to find that downtown doesn't open until 10, and there are no places that do breakfast. So I was forced to use the coffee maker in my hôtel room, and that produced caterwauls of eww. Meanwhile, I then did a lunch of some really good Buffalo wings at the hôtel, and facepalmingly paid for lunch myself. And I saw, and tasted, that it was good.

For the afternoon, I did a masterclass with five very different composers, made silly jokes and all, and enjoyed that time immensely. Then off to dinner, which this time was Thai, and back for the concert of the Contemporary Ensemble. It was a nice concert, not too long, and well attended. I said a few words, notes were played, and then it was over. Back I came to hotel, facepalmingly bought myself a beer, and slept.

Yesterday I drove back. It was still lovely scenery, even moreso when it isn't snowing, and stuff. And Geoffy was at the house, because he's doing Musica Viva this week. He had been feeding the cats and scooping doodies and all, and he had a DVD of his recital at the Festival of New American Music that he hadn't had time to check out.

Thus did I check out it. It was a data DVD that had but one Windows-format video file on it that I couldn't do much with. And the video played back jerkily. Not Jamaican jerkily, which is a mixed metaphor. I got two jerky videos from it and posted them YouTubewards, and Geoffy's playing was magnificent. Not at all jerky. D'oh, I looked up some of my free video converters and one of them zoomily converted the Windows video to Mac H.264, and gas is that with which we were a-cookin'! How goodly did was having Geoff playing? Decide for yourself, homeys.

Tonight will be pesto pasta and tomorrow, a completely new thing for me. I have English muffins, Canadian bacon, Hollandaise sauce mix, and several different kinds of microwave egg poachers. Any idea? Shopping for all the ingredients was fun. I never knew how Canadian bacon was packaged (it's like lunch meat at Shaw's!).

And so. So. No more traveling for the rest of the calendar year. About three weeks of classes left, final exam for theory is already written. Teeth cleaning the day before Thanksgiving (which seems like the wrong timing, no?). All the Thanksgiving food is in the fridge and freezer, so being set is what we are doing. Hayes and Susan are coming for Thanksgiving, and Susan is making a chocolate cream pie, and apparently from ingredients. We will do the Gardner Museum the day after, and then who knows what else? Maybe I'll get some time to make my vernacular piano pieces start not sucking.

Also, the yards are clear of leaves. We pay for that to happen.

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