Monthly Archives: June 2007

What I Read This June

Nodame Cantabile vols 6-9 by Tomoko Ninomiya
The Violin Maker by John Marchese
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
For A Few Demons More by Kim Harrison
Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
Druid’s Sword by Sara Douglass
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
Heart of Gold by Sharon Shinn
The Highs and Lows of Being Mia by Meg Cabot
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
Nodame Cantabile vols 2-5 by Tomoko Ninomiya
Storm Front by Jim Butcher (reread)
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale


We’re halfway through Pan’s Labyrinth. The DVD suddenly started degrading fifteen minutes ago, and now it hangs and jumps chapters.

HRH is making an emergency run to Blockbuster, because there’s no way you can leave a film like this half-watched.

Dress rehearsal today left me kind of glum and in that “why do I bother” headspace. I had to ask my section principal if my intonation had sucked as much as I thought it had, because I spent the entire two and a half hours feeling as if I was struggling to blend. When I can’t grab onto the proper tuning I end up skating all over the place, unable to settle down and be focused enough to play with the music instead of against it. She (lovely woman!) said that she hadn’t noticed anything, and I believe her; she’s one who would absolutely point out something wrong. I made her promise to tell me if ever I did anything wonky anyhow. The brass sounded almost too bright to my ears today, and it felt as if their sound waves and the string waves were fighting against one another. I couldn’t settle into the string flow properly and fought against those crashing waves all morning, missing entrances, shifts, easy fingerings, and rhythm stuff. On the up side I came home really wanting to play cello all afternoon to make it all better and to remind myself that the instrument can sound pretty, but instead Liam and I went for a walk, played on the slide at the park for half an hour (it got to the point where I just stayed up in the fort part and let Liam slide down, run around the structure, climb up the stairs on the other side, run past me, grab the horizontal bar set above the slide to swing out and slide down again all on his own, chatting with him as he narrated his actions excitedly) then we played in our backyard for ages because it was such a lovely day.

HRH just pulled up. Off to finish the movie!

Pandora Update

After the general life meltdown on Wednesday, Friday proved to be much more productive.

Total word count, The Moments of Being Pandora: 70,243
New words today: 1,639
Carrots: many

80k is looking awfully close for so much to be wrapped up in time. At least I’ve finally got the main protagonist in the right place to communicate essential info to the other members of the protagonist team, the final clue has appeared, and I think now all that has to be done is the characters working out what the hell to do with it all. Remember — no concrete antagonist. The antagonist is Life and That’s Just The Way Things Happened. So no satisfying confrontation, just lots of arguing, and characters choosing future paths, and people Learning Valuable Things.

It’s going to be very hard to pull off successfully. Part of me still wants to designate someone or a selection of someones to blame and have a terrific war in return for major parts of a world annihilated and a toxin introduced into the fabric of the universe. Clean living and positive thinking seem kind of weak as general answers, but that’s essentially what the solution looks like from here. Oh, and the promise of a better tomorrow thanks to the protagonist team working to reverse some of the damage physically and spiritually, but again, it’s just not as satisfying as an all-out war.

I know, I know. This has never been that kind of story. It’s been about perception, and the definition of beauty and purity, and what amounts to racism or xenophobia, with a smattering of class prejudice and Luddism (or possibly Neo-Luddism, actually, now that I think about it). Changing an entire culture’s outlook isn’t a small thing in the least, especially when tricky tension-fraught diplomacy is the force used instead of violence. This kind of ending requires more finesse, and my inner critic is trying to avoid it by telling me I can’t handle it, that’s all.

Slight Change of Plans

The two Tchaikovsky pieces will not, in fact, be on our programme for Canada Day. The soloist has been grounded by his doctors until an emergency triple bypass has been performed.

So, y’know, if you were fortunate enough to hear him do a lovely job on the Beethoven violin concerto a year or so back with us (or even if you didn’t), keep him in your thoughts, please.

We will be presenting the Water Music suite we played at our last concert in lieu of the Tchaikovsky. I will be digging out the mp3s and listening to them in moments. Let’s hope I remember how to do the bourree and the subsequent attacca into the hornpipe between now and the dress rehearsal tomorrow.

EDIT: Er, evidently my brain was flashing back to June 2005 when I had a baby and subsequently missed playing bunch of Tchaikovsky in the 2005 Canada Day concert, including a couple of pieces with violin solo performed by this same soloist. For this concert we’ll be dropping the Tchaikovsky ‘Meditation’ of course, but not the ‘Mozartiana’. The other piece we’ll be dropping is the Kreisler.

Concert Countdown

Excellent, excellent rehearsal last night, despite my apparent inability to approximate correct intonation, and the sudden feeling that I’d never seen the symphony before in my life (this is particularly unnerving as I’ve played it previously in concert, as well as working on it these past three months). “Well,” the conductor said to me, “at least it’s… fresh.” He has a quirky sense of humour that I enjoy. I keep forgetting to record this: a few weeks ago we had a string-only rehearsal, and at one point we all sat there counting bars as he conducted a winds-only passage in silence. “This part was written by John Cage,” he said almost under his breath before we came in precisely where we were supposed to. I might have been the only person to hear him, or maybe I’m just the only one who found it funny.

This concert is, as usual, going to rock. And the weather isn’t going to be horrendous: at the moment Sunday looks like around 20 degrees and overcast. Let’s hear it for concerts at which no one melts! (Miss the announcement? Check back to this entry for all the details.)

Things I must drill into my head: I must not spontaneously decide to try a new fingering in the middle of performance. No, no, no. No matter how good an idea it seems at the time. Not that I think this sort of thing through; sometimes I just find myself with my hand on a different part of the fingerboard and I freeze with no idea how to get to the next note, and then three bars have gone by and where are we now, and being in fourth position would explain why when I played a 3 it didn’t sound like a 3 in first does, and how long was I playing in fourth position anyway? (And again I express my amazement — fourth? Fifth, okay, I could understand — but fourth?)

Tomorrow I sit down with my coloured markers and underline dynamic markings that I miss, write in easy fingerings and shifts that I always mess up (and the hard ones too), and highlight nasty key changes (the Les Miz medley is going to look like a bloody rainbow).

Rehearsal was the high point of two very bad days. I usually come home from rehearsal mildly frustrated with my inability to pull off things I know I can do, but I came home in a really positive mood last night that was extremely welcome after the day. And then I didn’t sleep (probably because of the bad day; I read half of Gaudy Night waiting to be tired). Liam didn’t sleep well either so today both of us were off, and he didn’t nap at all today. When this happens to the kid who regularly sleeps between two and two and a half hours, it’s a hugely bad thing. We went to the Chapters in Pointe-Claire for an hour or so where he played with the Thomas the Tank Engine table in the kids’ section, and I bought a book he pointed out to me while wandering about ( “Cello! Cello!”), called The Violin Maker: Finding a Centuries-Old Tradition in a Brooklyn Workshop by John Marchese. Which is what I’m off right now to read in bed with a glass of white wine and a square of Ghiradelli chocolate with caramel filling, because life has sucked lately and I deserve it.

La La La: Free Association Brought To You By Caffeine

I give up. No matter how I try, I can’t get the basic font to change on this template, or get the sidebar to begin below the header space.

Also? Two cappuccinos = bad. Focus? What is focus? La la la!

Have to sort through the basement to find a box to send baby gifts out to new parents, now that I know the baby’s name. And yet I can’t even face that because there’s too much caffeine in my system.

I am very very tired of my doorbell being rung by delivery people asking for the woman downstairs. The conversation always goes something like this:

Today’s Cute Delivery Man: [name of downstairs tenant]?

A: [annoyed sigh] No. She’s downstairs.

TCDM: [checks address on forms] This is [my address]?

A: Yes. But she is at [my address]-A. The bottom doorbell outside.

TCDM: [checks forms again] Oh. She didn’t specify that.

A: She never does.

TCDM: I’m really sorry to have disturbed you.

A: [with sympathy] That’s all right. It’s not your fault. Just please, update your records.

Because I’m sick and tired of being her door attendant, and of the doorbell waking the boy from this nap, or it interrupting my train of thought while working. I’m also tired of being disappointed that I am not getting surprise presents handed to me by mailpersons. I should be getting consolation prizes for being inconvenienced.

HRH and I are heading out to the registration bureau at lunch today, he to do the car thing and I to do the Medicare thing. Because yes, I am an idiot, for when I got both the Medicare renewal form and the driver’s license renewal form in the mail the same week, I looked at the rules on the driver’s license form (“to be done in the ten days before your birthday”) and somehow applied them to the Medicare renewal as well. Except when I looked at that form today, it said DEADLINE = MAY 13, which is not in fact within the next ten days at all but somewhere in the far distant past. So let’s just all hope that nothing happens that would require the use of my Medicare card in the next eight weeks. (I seem to remember this happening to other people and the card actually arriving within three weeks, so my fingers are crossed. I hope I don’t get a snarky teller at the bureau, though, or so help me, all my irritation at the downstairs tenant will burst forth.)

Too hot; too humid. The forecast assures me the general temperature will be dropping within the next two days to about ten degrees cooler.

In the past two days I have read For A Few Demons More (thanks Blade), Fly By Night, and Hat Full of Sky (which you may borrow if you like, Jan, as you enjoyed Wee Free Men so much). I’m not sure how I managed all of it, but I did.