Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Audits and Beethoven

(Too bad that's not "Auditions and Beethoven".  I feel that would be a much more exciting blog post!)

This morning we had our Corporate audit/inspection at the theatre.  Work has been a bit more frantic than usual the last few weeks, as we've been deep-cleaning everything, making sure it looks its best for the inspectors.  It really is a clean and well-run place to begin with, so this wasn't as bad as it might be, but even with regular scrubs, anything within a ten-foot radius of a popcorn machine gets a fine coating of grease which is a pain to shine up.

(Rick, a co-worker, as I was giving the popper its evening scrub for (my) first time:  "You have to treat the popper as your mortal foe.  It thinks about nothing but popcorn and agony."  And I would add: and grease.  Lots of grease.)

Last night I had to clean all the glass and windows in the lobby of the theatre.  If you haven't been there, I'll tell you this -- there's LOTS of it.  The whole front of the theatre is lined with floor to ceiling-height windows, not to mention the glass doors, and the windows in the party room and the game room.  All I had was Windex and a roll of paper towels.  Oh, and a ladder, because some of those windows are pretty high.

It took me three hours.  I was exhausted, and when I woke up in the middle of the night I couldn't move my right arm, but those windows shone.  I was proud of them...

And then in the morning, as I was putting finishing polishes on the cash drawers, I looked up and saw the team of professional window cleaners, armed with buckets and cloths on long sticks, and a really big squeegee -- going over all the windows I'd just cleaned.

I was struck temporarily speechless.  Then I was -- upset.  I'd spent three grueling hours the night before shining up all those windows for the inspectors -- when presumably the manager who'd told me to do it had known that the window cleaners were coming the next morning.  (They usually do come on Wednesday mornings.)  I can't help feeling that there are more useful things I could have been doing than dragging a ladder around outside at 10 pm trying to clean acres of glass with a paper towel.

HOWEVER, we passed the inspection and nobody bit anybody's head off, despite most of us having arrived at work by 7 am or even earlier.  So that's good.


So then tonight was orchestra rehearsal for this Saturday's concert.   I don't believe I've mentioned this, but I'm singing with the Nashville Symphony Chorus now.  Coming up is Beethoven's 9th symphony.  I really joined for Mahler's 8th in September, and hadn't planned to sing the Beethoven, but they had an urgent need for more sopranos, and I've sung it before, so I volunteered.  We rehearse mostly at a church but tonight was at the Schermerhorn hall with the full orchestra.  I'd forgotten how much more fun it is to sing big choral works with an orchestra!

Also, Maestro is incredibly fun to watch.  He's so very energetic, swinging his arms violently, making faces at the different sections, his long curly hair bouncing with each sweeping gesture.  At one point, to illustrate a diminuendo, he sank slowly and more slowly towards the ground until he ended up crouching on the podium.  He calls everyone "my dear" -- my dear woodwinds, my dear chorus, my dear violins.  You must imagine all this with a Spanish accent.

At one point he was trying to call out a specific point in the music for the choir.  "Look at measure five hundred and -- my goodness, there's a lot of measures in this piece!"  And again, after we had blazed through the prestissimo finale of the movement: "My friends, that is a section where your hair should be on fire!"

I am looking forward to the performance on Saturday (even if Beethoven was completely incapable of writing comfortably for the soprano voice.)  Unfortunately for you, the concert is completely sold out, but that should mean a good audience for us.  I'll report back!

For now, I'm going to bed.  I have to be at work again at 8:30 in the morning!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Today actually felt like June.  Warm but not hot... low humidity... a good breeze blowing.   I took my knitting and my tea and Anne of Windy Poplars out to the back deck for a couple hours.  (I did remember sunscreen.  Maybe not enough sunscreen though.)

The elephants seem never-ending, but I really may finally be reaching the end of the knitting.  Tomorrow: sewing up!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday pictures

Breakfast.  This has been standard fare lately.
Chocolate mug cake.  Recipe here.  (You can leave out the clump of un-mixed-in baking powder.)
I love how the evening sun falls on this chaise lounge.  And how Conrad will arrange himself oh so carefully to stay just outside of the sunlight.

I was "on call" for work today but they didn't need me.  I can't say how nice it has been to relax on a Sunday afternoon! It's been too long.  Lots of knitting (elephants, still) and relaxing music, and I'm planning to finish (re-re-re-re-re-re-re-reading) Anne of Avonlea this evening.

This melody didn't seem like much the first time I heard it but it has been haunting me for the last several days.  Lovely.

I hope you have all had a calm and blessed Sabbath.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Keane, Abbreviated

This is not quite the post I was planning to write.  I was hoping for photos with the band members, for one thing (they often speak to fans after shows.)  But it didn't quite work out that way...

My friend Mae texted me a month or so ago.  "Do you like Keane?" she said.  As it so happens, I do - I discovered them my last year of high school and bought two of their albums then.  I hadn't thought much about them lately, though.  But I texted back "Yes", and then she said that they were playing in Nashville (first time they've been in this part of the country for about 5 years), and did I want to go with her?

Well, that was a yes. So we bought tickets and yesterday we set off.

The drive down was uneventful.  The venue was less than a mile off the highway - convenient!  We parked just a block away and then walked a few blocks to Subway to grab some dinner.  Then a walk back to stand in the line - we wanted to get as close as possible to the stage.

The weather was gorgeous.  Warm but not scorching, and a nice breeze.

Finally inside!  The venue was a refurbished warehouse -- big and open, with a great vibe.  We ended up pretty close - off to the right side, and maybe 6 or 8 "rows" (loosely defined) back.

The opening act - Patrick Watson.  Piano, vocals, guitar, bass, violin, and the percussionist, who played everything from standard drums to a tiny marimba to the tambourine to a musical saw.  I really enjoyed their music (and also used this as an opportunity to practise my low-light photography.  Results varied.  You're only getting the better ones here.)

Finally, Keane!

Enthusiastic fans.
I have to say this is one band which is better live than on recordings.  Their albums are beautiful, but they can seem a little... aloof?  Distant?  Almost that they're so lovely they're hard to relate to.

Live, this is not a problem!  Tom, the lead singer, is so fully, incredibly into what he does.  You can tell he loves his music and loves to share it with people.  His energy really makes the band!  (I also thought it was fascinating that I could hardly understand a word of the first band, but Keane, though they're English and you'd think the accent might raise difficulties, were crystal-clear.  Every word came through.)

Unfortunately, only about an hour into Keane's set, the microphones and most of the rest of the power in the building suddenly stopped working.  They finished up their song (though you couldn't hear much, and Tom looked really confused.)  A brief consultation with somebody official looking, and they left the stage.  Tom said something but we couldn't hear - I gather it was along the lines of they couldn't carry on, he was sorry, etc.  Security and other people kept shouting things but with no amplification, and several hundred people wondering aloud what was going on, I didn't catch much.  The impression I gained, though, was that something had happened to the transformer - it had broken, or caught fire.  Shortly after this we all got shunted out of the building, and a fire truck arrived.

So that was the end of that.  The band did come out to speak to fans, but they were behind a fence, mobbed with people, and at that point we sort of just wanted to go home.  We did stick around and speak briefly with Richard, the drummer, who was lovely, although seeming a bit frazzled - well, I would be too!  Afterwards we stopped at a gas station for cooling drinks, and then drove home (listening to Keane recordings.)

This was my first "rock" concert (though they almost can't be called that...) and I really enjoyed it!  Of course it's disappointing not to hear the whole concert you've paid for, but it was no one's fault and I'm not upset.  And now I know that if I ever get the chance to hear them again, I'll take it, because I thoroughly enjoyed this!

"Sea Fog", one of my favourites from their new album.

"She has no time" - an old favourite from their first album.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Life is a bowl of cherries

Literally a bowl of cherries.  They were on sale!  Normally I can't even begin to afford them.  On a more figurative level life is going pretty well too.

Conrad is not so sure about the goodness of life, though, since I won't let him steal my cherries to play with them.

There's also been some lace knitting.  This is the Mystery Shawl, up through Clue 3.

And tonight I'm going with a friend to see Keane!  I'll take my camera, so hopefully there will be a picture-story for you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The scent of darkness

Just before the dark.
Have you ever noticed how when you walk in the dark, your other senses are heightened?  Sight isn't very useful, but suddenly hearing and smell are extra-sensitive.

I went for a walk this evening.  Just at the end of dusk, when the sunset was still a faint glow in the west.  It's a well-lighted neighbourhood, safe enough to walk alone but dark enough to make one feel isolated.  A glorious loneliness.

And the scents.  A whiff of cigar smoke.  Somebody's lawn, freshly mown.  Somebody's lawn, overgrown and full of the fragrance of clover.  From somewhere hidden, the sharp sweet scent of roses.    A bright, herby smell, and from across the street, whiffs from a kitchen.

And then the sounds.   The constant hum of crickets and cicadas.  The occasional croak of a frog.  Somewhere far away, the slam of a car door.  The whir of a bat, not far overhead.  Everywhere the whisper of evening breeze.

The world is so beautiful, even in the darkness.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Yarny Goodness

Any day that you receive three packages in the same post is a good day!  Especially when one of them is from your family, and one of them is this:

and the third contains five skeins of gorgeous wool in a suitably Pond-ish red.

From StitchKnit.
Actually this is the third delivery of Amy-coloured wool in the last week.  I have so far restrained myself from beginning any actual knitting on either of Amy's scarves, but I could not resist the yarn hunt.  An hour or so on Etsy turned up several good possibilities.

In addition to the vintage Wool and Shetland Wool which arrived today (a DK/light worsted, probably), we also have the three skeins of Peace Fleece worsted, scored at a ridiculously low price,

Which really is a beautiful deep red, contrary to this photo.  From Thoughtful Rose Supply.
and the merino/cashmere/angora/nylon blend, which is not only beautifully cuddly and is going to be perfect for the lace scarf, but is recycled from a sweater and is therefore also good for the world.  (Because, recycling and stuff.)

From Sweet Pea Fabrics.
I also have to show you the ridiculously adorable owl stitch markers (also from Etsy) which came last week.  I really need to find another project that needs stitch markers, because really?  How could you resist these guys?

From JL Yarnworks.
Also, this is probably one of the best dedication pages I have ever seen.

I am however coming to the conclusion that having a regular pay cheque (and therefore, a small amount of disposable income) is a really bad idea.  At least for the stash.  I was going to try to pare down my stash this summer, and so far I have not made any progress in that direction.  AT all.  I'm self-imposing a yarn ban as of now, though -- no new purchases unless necessary for a commission until I have my current stash down to a reasonable size.  "Reasonable size" as yet to be defined -- first I have to find out what I actually have.

I'll leave you with one more picture of owl markers, and the vague hope that I might post about something non-knitting-related at some point this week!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

So much garter stitch

Conrad thinks knitting needles are the best kind of chew toy.
Elephant in progress.
Making progress on the Mystery Shawl!  Also, aren't my new stitch markers gorgeous?  From the shop Absolute Wonder on Etsy.

It's been all garter stitch, all the time around here lately, with just a little lace thrown in for good measure.  It's surprisingly not boring.  Plus I get to play with colours!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Amy's scarf

It's possible I've mentioned this before, but I find the wealth of gorgeous knitted accessories in British TV and films delightful.  I am always filled with enthusiasm and the strong desire to rush out and knit ALL THE THINGS I see.  (Witness the number of Hogwarts house scarves I've knit.)  I wonder why American shows never seem to feature hand-knits.  Are we too cool for that?

Recently, it's been Doctor Who.  (You will have noticed this if you read my blog with any regularity.)  I came up with the pattern for Rose Tyler's fingerless mitts, I'm deep in the throes of the 4th Doctor's scarf (so. much. plain. knitting.), and now I've become fascinated by Amy Pond's red scarf.

Or actually, scarves.

I'm watching grainy images on Netflix which never, ever, ever pause in focus, and most of the photos I can find on the web are similarly pixellated.  But there are definitely two distinct scarves - one is a bit heavier and more solidly knit, with a narrow cabled border and the centre probably a wide "braided" fabric.  It also has long fringe at the ends.  She wears this in several episodes.

Definitely cables/braided fabric.  No lace in sight. 

The edging cable/twists are very prominent here (look at the right side, where it has folded up on itself.)
And this one has fringe.
Definitely fringe.
The other is lacy, with what seems to be a wheat-ear type stitch pattern and a slightly dressier feel (less "I need to stay warm outside" and more "a scarf might be a nice addition to this outfit.")  I don't know why her scarf changes.  Maybe one was damaged and they replaced it?  I'm not sure... The cably one shows up in earlier episodes, with the lacy one later, but only once or twice.  Both are quite long - long enough to go around the neck at least twice, or once with ends down to the knees.  And both seem to be fairly wide and of fairly thin fabric, since despite the width they're not bulky.

You can see the "wheat-ear" effect pretty well here.

Several people online have suggested that the lace pattern is "Frost Flowers" from Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and someone else suggested "Tilting Ladders", which looks quite close except that the edges of Amy's scarf look straight, not wavy as they'd be with that pattern.  There's also your basic "Lace Ribbon Stitch", which is probably a bit lacier than the actual scarf, but would give a similar effect if knitted on a small enough gauge.  (All links go to Ravelry.)  However I also suspect that we're seeing the "wrong" side of the lace at least part of the time, so it's hard to decide what it should look like.  I would need to play around with swatches.  (Oooh, my favourite.  Sarcasm hand raised.)

I found one more photo which I am almost positive ID's the stitch pattern as Frost Flowers.  Certainly, it's so close that the overall look of the scarf would be almost identical!

Anyway, I like them both!  I originally was thinking cables, and I still love that scarf, but the more I look at pictures the more I am intrigued by the lace scarf and want to figure it out!  I guess my only choice is to knit two red scarves...


(Also, I have used/written/read/thought the words "scarf" and "scarves" so often in the course of this research and then writing the post, that they have ceased to look or sound right.)