Monthly Archives: July 2008

Quick Recap

So much has happened this weekend that I need to splash it all down in point form, to be expanded upon later:

1. Finally, finally I got to meet Brendan Myers! We’ve been missing one another at events for the past couple of years. It was a bad fibro day yesterday so I had to pass on the first part of the day, which would have entailed attending his reading and workshop, because I would have used up my available daily energy and ended up bailing on our planned evening out, which would have been dreadful. So at dinner time I met him and a group of dear local people (none of whom I see nearly often enough) in Old Montreal, and only got home at midnight. (People, that’s unheard of for me these days.) It was wonderful. Bren is sweet and thoughtful and quirky and thought-inspiring and has crammed more living into his life than most people our age have. I clicked with him right away, and I’m so looking forward to maintaining and cultivating this special new friendship. This gets a whole blog post of its own very soon because there’s a bunch of ideas to put down.

2. HRH cleared out the garage yesterday. Ye gods. There is space. Also, the garage door now works again. Huzzah!

3. I’ve been reading my fifteen year old issues of Strings magazine. Reading about music makes me want to play it (as if I haven’t been obsessing about it enough what with the 7/8 issue eating my brain lately) so after a couple of hours of reading I sat down and played forty-five minutes of pizzicato cello this morning while the boy played with his trains. Gave myself a blister on my middle right finger doing it, too. I played through dozens of pieces at about the RCM grade 5 level, things I’d been playing before I stopped with my lessons, messing about with them position-wise and intonation/tempo/vibrato-wise. Very satisfying.

4. We had a delightful visit with the ADZO family this afternoon. The kids are at an age where they can safely play in the next room on their own and either interact or parallel play doing their preferred thing, and it was so good to just sit and talk about anything and everything while they enjoyed themselves. (And eat. Ye gods, when we go over they just keep casually putting food in front of us, blueberries and watermelon and tea and cheese and crackers and yum. Then there was dinner. They spoil us dreadfully.) As a result of this meandering chat something extremely special might be coming into my possession, via a stroke of serendipity. More news as events warrant. ADZO and I have a date tomorrow morning to explore the situation.

5. Local freelance work. Yay! Small projects, but comfortable ones. Every dollar counts towards the 7/8. Which is important, because the second-level Jay Haide celli I’m going to be looking at in Toronto (confirmed date with the shop: Tuesday July 29!) are twice as expensive as the entry-level Eastman 7/8s I’ve been testing locally. If I like them/one enough I might right rent one/it for two or three months; it’s an affordable option with the shop I’m primarily interested in visiting.

Right. As wonderful as this weekend has been, I have used up all my spoons and have run out of available energy. I’m going to have to be careful over the next couple of days.


Libba Bray, the author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, is in the last stretch of her current project and has an amusing (and, alas, very recognizable) metaphor for the process to share in a blog post entitled ‘Writing a Novel, A Love Story’.

No, this is the part where I become convinced that I could advertise on Craig’s List for gangs of homeless gerbils to run across my keyboard in an agitated, looking-for-the-water-tube state, and they would do a better job. This is how it goes. Every. Single. Friggin’. Time.

In fact, writing a novel is very close to falling in love. How so? I’m glad you asked.

Replace “novel” with “book in general” and yes, there it is: a decent and humorous summary of the process.

Not Dead…

… just completely and totally exhausted. HRH is fighting a bad cold, the boy is taking up every bit of energy I’ve got, and I have that restless-but-hermity thing going on. I’ve lost all interest in food and eating.

The rest of the birthday weekend was lovely. The picnic was enjoyable (despite the somewhat uncomfortable experience of the sad attention-starved little girl who insinuated herself into our group because her very-not-sober father was passed out under a tree) and it was good to see people just sitting flaking out in the shade, listening to the kids playing on the playground equipment, munching fruit and bread and cheese and such. Dinner with HRH’s parents on Sunday was also lovely. Thanks go out to everyone who came by or sent their regrets and best wishes, and for all the thoughtful gifts I received (organic nibblies! gift card for the bookstore! a very generous contribution to the 7/8 fund!).

My office feels much bigger with only one cello in it. I tried playing my 4/4 the other day and, as I was afraid, it feels clunky to me now. I so didn’t want this to happen.

I’m currently slogging through a freelance MS evaluation. I know what’s wrong with it, but I’m having a hard time putting it into words (saying ‘overwritten’ isn’t precise enough, alas). Also, what’s wrong with it is making it very difficult to read and get past the wrong to the story, which is, as far as I can tell, a good one.

The boy and I went to a bookstore today (gift certificate, yay!) and I picked up a book thinking it was one kind of thing, and started reading it to discover that it’s something very different. I wish I hadn’t bought it. I’m considering taking it back and exchanging it, except providing the reason of ‘I thought it was something else’ when I’ve read the cover copy thoroughly and flipped through it in the store is really, really lame. Still, a thirty dollar book I’m not going to read is a thirty dollar object taking up room on my shelf that’s needed for other books. This is what comes of (a) having a lousy mental focus (thank you and no love, fibro fog) and (b) shopping with a three year old who is clamoring to get to the train table. I am, however, really looking forward to the other book I picked up (A Romance on Three Legs by Katie Hafner).

Because we went to the Big Bookstore (With The Trains), as the boy calls it, we were obliged to visit the Big Animal Store in the same strip. I was partially looking forward to seeing the little Senegal parrot who stole my heart two weeks ago and partially dreading it, because I didn’t know if I could stand to have my heart broken again. I was both disappointed and relieved to see that it was gone. I hope it went to a good home.

We also stopped at the library to pick up a book I’d put a hold on which had come in: Wit’s End by Karen Fowler. I am very set for reading material. For the next two days, at the very least; I seem to be inhaling books these days. I suspect it has something to do with my need to turn off my brain to some extent, and the need to absorb someone else’s words. I also feel like I’m accomplishing something when I finish a book, which is something I sorely need when I’m down to functioning on inadequate energy.

So I’m muddling around, trying to keep up with the basic things that need doing, and feeling very flat about it all. And when I feel flat and inadequate I get irritated, and I’m very afraid I’ll fall back into the ‘going to bed mad because I didn’t do anything of worth during the day and waking up irritated the next morning’ thing, a rather destructive cycle in which I was mired five or sixish years ago. I think I need to get writing and creating again, which is a challenge because when the boy’s with the caregiver I’m working on freelance stuff for more immediate (and concrete) money (as opposed to working on something uncontracted which may or may not ever sell for theoretical money in the future).

I missed the boy’s thirty-seven month post on the 11th and I can’t see it being written any time soon, if at all. I also missed marking the three-years-at-home-as-a-family anniversary on the 13th as well. I’m so damn tired.

But I do have a shiny red and white bike on the back porch. Someday I may even put air in the tires and ride it. When the next chunk of money comes in we’ll buy the trailer so the boy and I can go for rides together.

There you have it. I’m exhausted and uncommunicative. The end.


This morning I have received an aggressive kiss on the nose to wake me up, followed immediately by the boy chirping, “Hi Mama, it’s your birthday! Here, take this.” I mumbled a thank you and peered at the folded piece of paper he’d given me, with crayon all over it. “It’s a card for you!” he explained enthusiastically. “See, these are butterflies!” Then there were toys brought in and played with on the bed, as well as many snuggles. Then he hauled HRH’s guitar out and played and sang me a birthday song extempore, on the spot.

We returned the 7/8 cello Number 3 to the luthier this morning. “And?” he said. “Almost,” I said. “Almost, but not quite.” I explained that the two-week home trial had confirmed that the 7/8 size is indeed perfect for me, but that this particular instrument just didn’t have that certain something that clicked and made it mine. He asked if there was anything particular, in order to avoid it when selecting another for me to test, and I shook my head; there wasn’t anything specifically wrong. It just didn’t grab me and say, ‘You cannot part with me.’ I like the tone, the overtones, the balance, the construction, the feel under my fingers, everything; it’s just not this one that I need. He has another 7/8 in his Laval workshop and will bring it in for me, but I’m on holiday the last two weeks of July and he’s closed the first two weeks of August, so we’ll pick up again then. In the meantime there’s the two shops in Toronto, and the Scarlatti 7/8 Number 2 to take home for a test, and I’ll think about the one in Alaska too.

On the way to the luthier we treated ourselves to breakfast sandwiches and iced cappuccinos, and the we went through the car wash for the first time with the boy, who found it very exciting. Unfortunately we ran into not one but two road detours in St Lambert and Longueuil due to festivals or triathalons which rerouted us way out of the areas we needed to travel in or through, so the trip was about twice as long as it needed to be.

My birthday present from HRH was a new bike! It has been many, many years since I have owned one. As he carted it to the back yard yesterday the next-door neighbour said, “You got a n new bike?” HRH said, “It’s not mine, it’s hers.” “But it’s a man’s bike,” the neighbour replied, confused. Yes, it is a man’s bike, but I preferred the shiny red and white paint with a back rack to the blue and white with a plastic basket in the front, complete with fake flower, and with flowers painted on the seat. The blue was nice, but give me a rack over a flimsy plastic basket any day. Also, a red bike is just cooler. The next purchase is a bike trailer for kids so the boy and I can bike to the library and the grocery store, or just go for a ride together. My parents gave me a lovely blank book and a copy of Martha Stewart’s cookie recipe book. I got birthday money last weekend from my in-laws, which went to new summer shirts and a skirt (and a new bike helmet and lock!). There was a cheque in yesterday’s mail from my grandmother, which will buy a new printer. I have received numerous birthday wishes from all over via e-mail, phone, and journal posts, the weather is spectacular, and I am having a wonderful birthday so far. There’s a late afternoon picnic in my future today, and I have been promised sushi tonight after the boy goes to bed. Tomorrow there’s a birthday dinner with the in-laws, too. Life is good.

Thirty-Seven Months Old!

This is a retrospective photo post; I missed the date and was swamped with other stuff.

First of all, we have Liam cutting out cookies being baked for his third birthday party:

Here we have Liam and I playing in his pool:

Gryff may the the one with the most patience where the boy is concerned these days. Here he demonstrates just how tolerant he can be of Liam’s shenanigans:

And finally, Liam took helping his father get my new birthday bike ready very seriously:

Liam-themed posts over the past month:

~Liam’s third birthday party!
~Explaining death to Liam
~Liam demonstrates the preschool love of Great Tragedy as played by his Collection of Trains
~Liam discovers The Sound of Music
~Liam loves They Might Be Giants
~Liam has a nightmare
~Liam and Mama pay the car registration
~Liam’s first Canada Day concert!

I’ll See Your ‘Damn’ And Raise You An ‘Oh Hell’

Last night I pulled out the Vivaldi double concerto and looked it over. I was working on it a few months ago, and I thought that I’d try it out on the 7/8.

Today I played the first movement on my cello first. Then I took the 7/8 out (Number 3 for those of you with scorecards) and played it again.

Oh, hell.

See, the size of the 7/8 actually does make a difference. It’s finally coalescing. My arms don’t have to be out so far in front of me to play; the energy and motion used in bowing is more efficient when I’m using the 7/8. It’s all closer to the body and it’s easier to use gravity as an aid instead of struggling against it.

Okay, fine. I’ve proven that to myself. The 7/8 is a better size for me.

The sound was nicer too, but again, that may just be the newer strings.

And finally, I don’t feel like the 7/8 is going to twist or angle oddly under my bow. I don’t have to brace it as much as when I play the 4/4. It feels sturdier in just about every way.

The finish of Number 3 is even growing on me.

I have done my damnedest not to get attached, and to be as objective as possible. I think I’ve finally proven to myself that the size is important. I’m still not completely convinced about this 7/8 being The One!!1!, but I am convinced about the size. I’d like to try a couple more. I’ll sign the Number Two (AKA the Scarlatti) out from Wilder & Davis in early August. It may be a thousand dollars more, but it’s worth a listen at home. There’s a 7/8 four grades higher than Numbers 1 and 3 for sale through a private luthier in Alaska too (an AE405, if anyone’s dying of curiosity) that come with the hard case I want and a bow three times better than the one that comes with this SE/VC100. It’s had finessing work done on it (including a carbon fibre endpin! and a new French style bridge!) and is $1,100 cheaper than the list price (and the basic list price doesn’t include the upgraded bow or the bonus hard case, only a mid-range bow and a soft case). Of course I’d have to order it on trial, and I’d have ten days to decide at home if I liked it or not. If I don’t, I’d ship it back and absorb the shipping cost ($100 each way, which sounds like a lot but is cheap for this kind fo thing, I assure you, wow!). But here’s the kicker: the cost of this several-notches-higher 7/8 with upgraded bow and hard case is only five hundred dollars more than good old Number 3 here, with its soft case and bottom of the line bow. If I added the $500 hard case to the cost of the VC100 here, I’d be looking at $2,000 anyway. Normally I am violently opposed to buying instruments over the internet, but the numbers are very persuasive, the luthier is reputable, many people have dealt with her among the online community and they say nothing but good things. I’ve chatted with her in forums and on bulletin boards on occasion and she’s honest.

It’s an option. And I’m serious enough about this that investing $200 in a cello I might not keep is acceptable, because the payoff could be wonderful. And if it ends up being only as good as the VC100, well, I’ve still snagged myself a deal. I find myself measuring things in freelance work now: a new printer is one evaluation, a new computer will be five, and so forth. So if I tried this and wasn’t happy with the cello I’d only have invested two evaluations in it.

Not that this is a done deal; I want to visit The Sound Post while we’re in Toronto to play some of their stock, and while we’re there I may as well swing past Remenyi as well. I have all summer to do this.


My life just keeps getting more and more interesting. Unfortunately it’s in the Chinese curse sort of way.

Yesterday my internet access went down, thanks to Microsoft sending out an XP patch that didn’t play nicely with ZoneAlarm, the firewall I and millions of other people use. I spent sixty-nine minutes and 28 seconds on the phone with an unintelligible person manning an outsourced help desk last night. We finally got things back up and running.

And then this morning, the laptop died. It’s dead. D-E-D.

For those of you keeping score, that leaves me with no computer. None. I am stealing time downstairs on HRH’s computer to tell the world that yes, I am actually alive, but I sure as heck can’t work down here. I may come down to check Gmail tonight, but apart from that, nothing. Looks like I’m writing longhand during this afternoon’s writing jam with Jan.

Mitigating today’s severe technological ARGH was the wonderful wedding ceremony I performed yesterday for Scarlet and Blade, with the assistance of HRH, Jess, and Winterwolf in the ritual. It was a wonderful day with perfect weather and a lovely potluck buffet afterwards. I like performing marriage ceremonies for friends; I’m allowed to play with them during the ritual.

Right. I can’t stay here any longer. It’s claustrophobic and very damp. If you need to get in touch with me, do it by phone.

ETA: It’s 11:14 and Blade has just finished closing up the ADZO tower HRH borrowed ages ago and has been hanging on to in order to transfer the last few files to the second ADZO tower he officially acquired. I have internet (and proper browsing via Firefox, thankyouverymuch, first thing I installed), a functional computer, and thanks to my external hard drive that I love with much love I’m fine backup-wise. I can even use my external monitor again! I have a whole desk in front of me instead of a laptop! Speaking thereof, we’ll try a reinstall XP on the laptop and kick it back into shape. I’ll lose a couple of pictures but that’s about all. Muah-hah. I’m still installing Thunderbird and setting up my email addresses even now. Did you miss me?