Monthly Archives: September 2007

What I Read This September

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (reread)
Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life by Julia Briggs
Vivaldi’s Venice by Patrick Barbier
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracey Chevalier
So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld
Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss
The Steam Magnate by Dana Copithorne
The Virtu by Sarah Monette
The Adventures of a Cello by Carlos Prieto
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell

Look, Lint!

Today’s highlight: scrubbing bathroom grout with bleach and an old toothbrush.

No, actually, I had a lovely morning out running errands with HRH and the boy, and tonight is Tarasmas.

HRH and I cleaned out the garage/basement last night. Sorted through boxes, books, clothes, the whole nine yards. Now, if we can just keep it this organized…

And a final, completely unrelated, observation: I am really loving the production design for the first His Dark Materials film.


More orchestra goodness last night. There were times when I was reading those really high notes in the Grieg and translating them to fingers in the right place without thinking, and I caught my brain saying to itself, “Maybe you do deserve to be in the second chair.” Nothing like a very respectable performance in a cello-exposed theme to make oneself feel good: expression, intonation, and the right notes all combined to make a rather lovely sound. Although we’d worked the opening movement of the symphony for an hour leading up to the Grieg and my brain didn’t fully make the key signature shift, so I fumbled through the first go at it. I’m really enjoying how our conductor is working the music and the sections so far this season. There’s very obvious improvement by the end of each rehearsal. It’s terrific to look forward to rehearsal, and to leave feeling great.

My principal gave me a fingering she wants us to use for a particular phrase in the overture, and I kept trying to work it during break. She asked how it was going and when I said I was having trouble with the stretch for the last note she took my left arm and readjusted it, pointing out that by having my elbow so low I was ‘breaking’ the wrist and limiting the pronation of the hand. That’s something I never noticed. It’s odd how certain things stick in your mind from lessons ten years ago: I’ve always been hyper-aware of raising my right arm too much, as it was a problem I had as a beginner. Evidently after years of telling myself to keep it down, I’ve not only learned the lesson but have proceeded to overcompensate, thinking that I still make the mistake. On the way home I hit upon a good idea: if I think about holding my arms as I was trained to do in ballet, long and slightly rounded, then the arms will automatically balance and fall into the right place, with the added bonus of my shoulders both dropping and being parallel. I do wish I could take lessons every couple of weeks to get my technique back into shape. I talked to the principal and she gave me one of her cards, and told me not to worry, in a couple of years the boy and I could have lessons together! I love that idea. Suzuki method it may be, but going back to basics in any method can’t hurt. And I like the idea of being able to participate in a lesson with Liam: it’s less like work for both of us that way, and more like fun. More motivation to set aside practice time, too. I joked about setting up a tip jar on the floor between our stands and dropping a quarter in it every time I ask her a question or she gives me a tip about playing in general.

Also, it should not have been that hot and humid yesterday. Four days before October. Just wrong.

More laundry today. It felt like my whole day evaporated yesterday what with the late start in the morning, dropping the boy off, driving HRH to a job downtown and then running my errands. I had two hours to work at home and do two loads of laundry before I had to leave and pick the rest of the family up, then do the usual evening things before leaving for orchestra. This sample edit I’m working on is hard to wrap my brain around because there’s so much to do with it, and as it’s a sample I’m doing it for free to demonstrate to the writer how we might work with one another. I’ve got to limit the time I spend on it as a result, but it does need a lot of thought and analysis, and I want to edit it in two different ways to illustrate the choice of direction the writer has. Above and beyond that I have to transcribe the work, which is atypical in every way and so I have to keep rechecking what I’m typing to make sure it actually matches the original. Fascinating stuff, but time-consuming.

The boy is napping. Time to do more laundry. Then I won’t have enough time to get into that edit, so I may do some research on Baroque instruments (no, it’s for the Vivaldi novel; I’m not pining for yet another instrument. I think playing the cello and the fretless bass, plus planning for a double bass sometime in the next five years and wishing for a harpischord is more than enough). I’ve started telling myself it’s okay to not turn on the main computer on days where I’m not working, so I sit down with the laptop instead to mess about reading news and doing research, and it feels more relaxing, less rushed.

Right. Laundry.


I did a bunch of running around this morning. Finally picked up the sheet music to an Arvo Part piece that Sandman7 and I are considering playing together, and picked up a CD of Boyce symphonies because I enjoyed playing the first one so much last season. I also came home with Edgar Meyer’s recording of three of the solo cello suites by Bach (2, 1, and 5, if you’re curious), played on a double bass. I am so glad I have a subwoofer wired into my computer system. The volume isn’t up very high but already the lowest notes are making the window and things on my altar on the other side of the room rattle. Much is my love for Edgar Meyer. Also, much is my admiration: the intervals, stretches and shifts are murderous on a bigger instrument like the double bass, and he’s managed to make it all sound liquid. I would love to hear it played live in a church. (Now I want a double bass even more.)

The main reason for going out, however, was to get HRH’s anniversary present… which was not available. Well, one kind was available, but it was much too expensive for something of lower quality. Argh! Looks like I will have to resort to a much less exciting alternate option, which he pointed out to me in passing this morning. I could have driven to a different shop much further north in the city, but I have a sample edit to begin working on today, and there’s no guarantee the item would be available there either. (No, I can’t call, because it’s a look-at-various-ones-and-evaluate kind of thing.) Maybe for Yule.

There was also an astonishing lack of Glenn Gould recordings available, considering the anniversary year this is. I could have bought remastered recordings of two things I already own, but I’m not that obsessive.

Now, to work.

Il Maestro Update

The tide has turned. A tiny bit of information I read recently solved my ending dilemma: one of the two endings I envisioned simply cannot happen, for my protagonist would never make the sacrifice required for the associated unknown payoff. Now I know how it ends. And today I wrote the pivotal moment where she chooses her path and confirms the end of the novel.

Total word count, Il Maestro e le Figlie di Coro: 50,260
New words today: 1,354

Mousme came over to write with me, and brought milk because I twisted my knee coming up the front stairs after waving goodbye to the HRH and the boy on their way out this morning and couldn’t safely walk to the depanneur to get a litre of milk for her tea. We had plain but comfortable fare for lunch — tuna casserole, because I forgot that I was also going to walk to the bakery to get a loaf of bread for sandwiches — and lots of tea.

I didn’t realise how much those two possible endings were weighing on me. I’m looking forward to writing on.


Poking around online at all things Gouldian today, I discovered my report on that book launch and film festival that I had written for the rest of the F-Minor e-digest crew ten years ago.

It’s all still there, all the conversations we had about music theory, performance, criticism, and other things only tangentially Gould. The Internet holds on to everything.

I joined the F-Minor e-list back in the days of text-based Internet, when I was still using a telnet connection. Maybe I’ll resubscribe, and rejoin the GGF, too. Well, I’ll sort through the newer posts and things first and see if I like the current environment before I decide. Just by scanning the names of people posting I can see many of the old crew are still around.

I thought I’d pick up a couple of new Gould discs tomorrow while I’m out too, something I haven’t done in years and years. Maybe some Brahms. Or the gamba-harpsichord sonatas, if they’re still available.