Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012

Breakfast was sliced Granny Smith apples, orange juice and coffee. Dinner last night was a Smart Choice spaghetti and meatballs microwave thingie. Lunch was Hungarian goulash. Temperature extremes since last update 22.6 and 58.6. Music Going Through My Head as I Type This the third movement of my piano concerto. Large Expenses since Last Update Roland R-26 bundle with XLR cords, carrying case, etc. $499; 2012 leaf removal, $550; emptying of 135 gallons of old ashes from chimney under the fireplace, $325; new stereo receiver, $147.14; Krups espresso maker, $214.13; wine bottle opener, $19; toaster $97.99Companies That Have Not Covered Themselves in Glory Krups, for shipping a defective espresso maker.  Companies That Have Covered Themselves in Glory UPS, for always delivering the packages when they say they will, and for the local UPS store not having long lines; amazon for getting us a new Krups espresso maker 36 hours after I reported the first one defective. Facepalm I started driving to BJ's partly for the discount gas, saw that the tank was full, and suddenly remembered I had filled up the previous day Pointless Nostalgic Reminiscence At Tanglewood in 1982 — we composers stayed in the servants' quarters at the Koussevitzky mansion, because, hey, we were worth it — some of us composers were playing works for each other, and we got to the point of playing our silliest pieces. I played my fanfare for 24 trombones, and Nami's wife Tanya asked, "where on earth do you ever find 24 trombones?" Instantly I answered, "Oh, I just looked behind the refrigerator and there they were." The laughter was nonstop for about five minutes, but I don't know why. Number of Haircuts I got last week 0. Cute Cat Things to Report they occasionally jockey for position on the bed at night to see who can get closer to my head; Cammy usually wins. Also, it used to be Cammy sitting on the back of my computer chair while I work. Now it's Sunny. This week's made-up word garosci, one of several possible decorative edge patterns on high-end ravioli makers. Recommendation and professional letters written since last update 147. Something I did recently for the first time opened a bottle of wine (non twist-top) in about 5 seconds. Fun Davy Fact you won't read anywhere else I figured out diatonic ear-training in my head while doing hikes and stuck at a summer camp when I was 16Photos in my iPhoto Library 22,621.What I paid for gasoline recently $3.59, $3.55 and $3.49 in Maynard, $3.39 at BJ's. Current projects vernacular dances for piano (title: Hotfingers), 100 préludes for piano, small ensemble piece for Verge Ensemble.  George Washington was never interested in any of these sticky gold stars, the corner of the bedroom, some wainscotting I forgot about, a head of steam.

Here we are again, on a month-at-a-time update schedule, dear reader, and you are worth it. I sit here typing (which is the only way I ever do these News updates) on the day after the semester's last day of classes, and during one of those rare blank spots in my schedules in which I have neither any pending letters to write, nor grading to do, nor time-consuming things related to service to Brandeis University. And to that I say woo-hoo! in that temporary way only I can.

Meanwhile, I found round Saltines.

And Drew Williams is memorizing When the Bow Breaks and blogging about it. I also just discovered that his preview performance of it at Fresh Inc. at Carthage College was filmed and put on YouTube, where it has been for months. It is being terrific.

Also, I discovered that my stand-up at the MTAC conference on July 4, 2010 has been on YouTube all this time without me knowing it.

It has been a fairly tranquil month since the last update. Meaning no long drives, no egregious weather of which speaking can have been done by me, and hardly any ladybugs or stinkbugs in the house. In fact, it might be a bit of a chore coming up with interesting things I've done.

Well, pickles. I've done pickles. I got some spicy pickles through an amazon link, some salty ones also through amazon, and some more salty ones from our local Stop & Shop. So palatewise, I've been sufficiently happy. Update: I have had the spicy dill chips, and my eyes popped out of my head. I put them back in, and they popped out again. I seem to like them.

Also, the Christmas packages for relatives were put together and sent out — Beth did all the work, every last bit of it in that regard — and we have already opened the Christmas presents we gave each other, I think. In Beff's case, so she could use them and make sure they work, within the 30-day return period. We also upgraded from our Edirol R-09s to a Roland R-26, in order to get more depth of sound from our rehearsal and performance recordings — it's got four microphones on board, and inputs for two more.

And meanwhile, last Saturday, Beff and I went into the spritzyville that was our weather into the parking lot of the Shaw's shopping center, and up and bought our 2012 Christmas tree. And then we put it into Beff's car, drove back with it, set it up slightly crookedly, and up and decorated it. And watered it. And Beff got a tree skirt for it, because the cats like to drink the water in the tree stand otherwise, and you know, pine needle-infused water is a perfect recipe for making them reset their counters.

Beff wanted the Christmas CD (formerly the Christmas tape) to play while we were decorating the tree, so I put it on, and then the receiver sputtered and sputtered, and finally came on after a substantial wait (but not a substantial weight, which would be silly and fake-profound). It worked okay, but sputtered again later. So I quickly got a new one, twice as powerfull and twenty-eight years younger, from amazon. It works nicely, and even has a remote.

Going further back, though. When Geoffy was here earlier, I had decided I wanted to learn how to make Eggs Benedict. Why? I had gotten microwave 2-egg poachers, so what can you do with 2 poached eggs? Well, you know the answer, dear reader. So I looked up the recipe and got Hollandaise sauce mix, Canadian bacon (packaged like lunch meat) and English muffins — so many English muffins! — because Shaw's had a Buy 1 Get One Free thingie on English muffins. So with our meager, dying toaster, I readied the three English muffins (leaving 9 yet to be consumed), made the Hollandaise sauce, and timed the pairs of poached eggs in the microwave (1 minute 10 seconds was discovered to be the correct timing) and the Canadian bacon in the microwave (20 seconds) so that we had our eggs, 10 minutes apart. And voilà! They were good. Beff also noted, "that's something we'll do no more often than every six weeks, right?" Because, dear reader, it's rich. And leaves a lot of cleaning in its wake.

Very soonly therafter, Hayes and Susan came for Thanksgiving, and we had richness of experience to burn. They arrived in the dark on Wednesday night, and we made pizzas and stuff from the fridge. On Thanksgiving itself, we used more of the English muffins, which with our slow 2-slice toaster was a time-consuming kind of thing. We broke out the many jams my sister sent us in last Christmas's packet and tried them out — deciding against the jalapeño jam, as the piano keys started to melt when it was opened — and settling on some blueberry stuff that was out of this world (which was confusing, since we had just gotten some this world the previous week). And the slowness of the process, and the near-death of one of the burners convinced me we needed a toaster upgrade. So we did.

And then was the cooking for the big meal, which went swimmagely. They brought apple and chocolate cream pies, and, and, and ... it was a nice, and big, meal. Afterwards there was watching of the Addams Family 2 movie, which amused and delighted. We were worth it. We were fatnhappy.

The next day we — all four of us — went to the Gardner Museum and poked around, and then came back, followed by a lovely dinner at J's Restaurant on the grounds of the Nashoba winery. I had great chicken and a calligraphic soup. And what it is, too.

After Hayes and Susan went back home, Beff and I did some various shopping, during which we stopped at the local Ace Hardware store for cleaners and such, and I looked for those Audubon squeezy birds I'd bought there. We had about 5 of them, and one no longer made a squeezy noise. Ace no longer sells them! So of course I looked for them on amazon, and lo and behold! they had just about every variety. I got a bunch. We now have 40 of them.

We also got a new juicer and had fresh-squeezed orange juice twice. Sacre bleu! Can we ever go back?

Then it got foggy for several days, and it was nothing but work, work, work. Work, work. The semester ended, Theory 1 got as far as 4 kinds of 6/4 chords (I gave them a fifth — the Strauss 6/4, and played the trio near the end of Rosenkavalier) and I put together their takehome final (if it were a Latin class, that would be their tecum final). And in orchestration we got to the ta-da moment of writing for orchestra! Which, given how much stuff they'd already done, was only very slightly harder. And I started inventing some banal platitudes about orchestral writing including some of the best writing for orchestra is not writing for orchestra — you know the kinds of things that say nothing but that sound ironically profound. L'Ironically profound, c'est moi.

So, with the service to the Brandeis temporarily off to the side, tomorrow I resume writing for the first time since early October, and I'm stoked, since I have a name for the three vernacular pieces piece — Hotfingers. Hey, I've got a reputation up which to hold.

I also spoke on the phone with Charles Osgood. Nice guy.

So we have a grad review meeting upcoming, Beff isn't going to be home this weekend because of end-of-semester stuff in Maine, my orchestration portfolii and take home finals are due Wednesday, and it's nothing but work, work. It's because, as I say, I'm worth it.

So there.

Also, happy birthday to my niece Candace.

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