Monday, April 30, 2007

Take action

A terrific sermon at my church yesterday has inspired me to renew and strengthen my commitment to helping end poverty and homelessness in Canada and around the world.

I have some plans, but the first thing I want to do is draw your attention to these sites for more information:

Habitat for Humanity Canada
Micah Challenge
Make Poverty History

Please check them out. Thanks!!

Friday, April 27, 2007

R.I.P. Slava

The great Mstislav Rostropovich died yesterday.

The calm after the storm

This past week has been insane. Hence, the lack of posts. But I have made some progress:

On the left, a nearly-completed Sleeve #1 of St Brigid which will have a full extra pattern repeat in it. On the right, the Eleanor sock in Fleece Artist.

Also some stash enhancement:

From left to right: Socks that Rock Lightweight in Fairgrounds; Naturally Tussock DK, for a polo-neck pullover for DH; various colourways of Meilenweit Meeting, from the lovely Robyn of Red Bird Knits.

In other news ... planning for DD's birthday proceeds apace. I've stencilled a treasure box for her party ... costumes and the like will fill it ... but I don't want to post a pic yet for fear she'll spot it. So that will have to wait until after the party next weekend. I have a choir gig on Sunday and possibly some more accompanying work in May, but otherwise things are calming down. I've completed Week 3 of C25K as of today, w00t! I hope to be back to half-marathon form by the fall.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Schumann meets Bach in Ohio

An important musicological discovery at Baldwin-Wallace College: a collection of Bach's works annotated by Robert and Clara Schumann and possibly Johannes Brahms. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has more.


No, no weight loss photos. I have lost 7 lbs though (grin).



Fortunately it wasn't as tangled as I thought, so I managed to get through the winding without too much trauma. Thanks for the encouraging comments!

So now I've been able to start a new sock, my very first on two circulars, thanks to the great instructions by Washington KnitWit. The pattern is Eleanor, one of the excellent free patterns at Socktopia.

I am loving how the Fleece Artist is knitting up!

Playing by heart

Is it always better for pianists to perform from memory? British pianist Susan Tomes provides an anti-memory perspective. She's not the first to make this argument; Gilbert Kalish leaps to the mind. But she makes it eloquently and reasons well.

Personally, I like playing from memory; it gives me confidence and freedom. But I can certainly appreciate Tomes's POV, and I'm definitely too lazy to memorize chamber music.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Go go gadget girl

Lookie here:

That's a Palm Treo 700p. Sweeeet! It replaces my ancient cellphone as well as a Palm that died recently; the camera and wireless modem capabilities are nice bonuses. I may try moblogging soon ...

Meanwhile, the Meilenweit socks are done.

Why do the toes look different? It's a long story, but I rather like the funky look.

Now I want to get started on my Fleece Artist merino, but somehow I managed to tangle the skein:

So if anyone has suggestions on (a) how to untangle this efficiently or (b) what would be a rocking sock pattern for this yarn, I'm all ears!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Resources for freelancers

Check out the new series on freelancing over at the Collaborative Piano Blog. I will be following with great interest!

So Joshua Bell walks into a subway station ...

Jodie weighs in thoughtfully on the much-publicized Joshua Bell busking experiment. Personally, when I read the article I felt that the results were utterly predictable. Some of my fellow-students who have busked in the Toronto and Montreal transit systems have gone on to become respected orchestral musicians and soloists ... perhaps not of Bell's fame and acclaim, but solid musicians nonetheless. Their recognition and earnings were no better or worse than Bell's, and some made quite decent money. I don't think the self-preoccupation of commuters rushing to work must be a sign of the demise of classical music or Culture In Our Society. See, for example, Alex Ross on the state of classical recordings now vs. 1988.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Piano movers in the UK dropped a Bösendorfer!!

Wednesday miscellany

Knitting report:

St Brigid progress continues. 2 1/2 pattern repeats done on the sleeve. I hope I am doing the increases right. As I fold the sleeve around my arm I wonder if it will be too tight, but I'll keep going for a while.

Meilenweit Sock #2: I've finished the gusset decreases and I'm knitting on the foot now.

Health report:
I'm on a bit of a kick. I am on Wave 1, Day 2 of the Sonoma Diet which I've been on and off for about 4 months now. I love the Mediterranean food and don't feel deprived at all. Also, I signed up at Runagogo and restarted the Couch to 5K running programme. I feel great already!! I hope I can keep this up.

Piano report:
Ugh. Trying to get inspired to practice. I guess it's been a heavy semester and right at the moment I'd rather be knitting, running, and playing on the computer. Nonetheless, I have a concert with a local chamber choir on the weekend and a bunch of performance juries coming up, so I need to get busy.

Blog report:
Jeremy Denk made me laugh out loud yesterday.

Fridge report:
Wendy challenged us to reveal the innards of our refrigerators! OK, I'll take you up on that:

I remember when my fridge was nearly bare (grad school) but now that I'm eating veggies and have a daughter, things are a bit different ... At least there aren't as many science experiments in there as there once were!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Sleeve #1 in progress

Some progress to report on St Brigid:

After swatching on 3.75mm circs, I found that the end result was a bit too wide, so I frogged and swatched again on 3.5mms. This gauge was near-perfect. So I forged ahead, this time deciding (like many on the St Brigid KAL) to begin with a sleeve as a secondary gauge check. This morning I noticed that I'd made a stupid mistake in the Chart B cable, so I restarted -- making today the official start date. I managed to finish a full pattern repeat this morning!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

St Brigid underway again

I have finally ripped out all of the moth-eaten St Brigid pieces, and started re-swatching with 3.75mm bamboo circulars (Kertzer) with a ball I hadn't used up yet. Tomorrow I'll wash the used yarn and hang it to dry.

I'm getting about a half-stitch wider than the recommended gauge, but I think that will just accommodate my piano butt ;) My row gauge is, as usual, short, but so am I, so that works out OK.

Today I played a song by John Corigliano for the first time: "Christmas at the Cloisters". It's really an excellent piece and I hope I'll have the chance to do more.

Last week of classes

A looong day of piano teaching at the university yesterday. This time of year is always a mix of emotions: excitement at hearing a year's work come to fruition; frustration when a student doesn't follow through on commitments; and general exhaustion after a long semester. (this last would be improved if I'd be more consistent with eating and exercise, but that's a long-term project ...)

I had an exciting breakthrough with a student yesterday. She has worked very hard all year, but today she really began to understand that music needs to be felt physically and emotionally ... not just comprehended intellectually. Her resistance was expressing itself through a stiffness in the core of her body. I got her to play her pieces quite slowly, listening to the vibrations of each note and of the transitions between one note and the next, feeling what happened in her body as she responded to those vibrations. A natural, sincere musicality began to emerge. I hope that she trusts herself enough to follow these instincts ...

Thanks again to Madeline Bruser for her wonderful book. I would love to take part in one of her Vermont music/meditation workshops someday.

OKC (obligatory knitting content): A few more stripes complete on the body of Sock #2. Socks are so great for car trips ...

Monday, April 2, 2007

ChildHood complete

Pattern: ChildHood by Natalie Wilson from Knitty Fall 2003
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 100% Superwash Merino in Crocus (535) and Mallow (025)
Started: February 2007
Finished: April 2, 2007

Claire was pretty happy with it! Thanks to Natalie Wilson's ingenious button/snap design, she can snap and unsnap it all by herself (though I fear she'll rip the wool) and she's a big fan of big hoods for her head. The crocheted koala bear puppet was an FO for Grandma today! What do you suppose Claire's favourite colour is?

I finished the ribbing on Meilenweit Sock #2 and did an inch or so on the leg.

Today was my lucky day ... I was summoned for jury selection. I waited around at the courthouse for a couple of hours (no knitting needles allowed, but I did get to read a few chapters of The Art of Practicing -- see sidebar). Then we were all called into the courtroom and told that our services were not required, as the trial had been adjourned. Woo hoo! An unexpected afternoon off ... hence the FO.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

One down...

The first Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy sock is done. I was especially happy with the stripey heel.

And, in a tribute to Wendy, I present Zorra, my Internet-ready Siamese cat.