Random Stuff

Behold, mushy peas. Yes, they come in a tin, or you can make them at home. (Marrowfat peas can be used instead of green peas.)

I’m getting the edits and comments back for what is going to be titled “Lord Adrescu’s Sword.” It is a short story, around 20K words or so, and I hope to have it out by the end of the month.

I’m also working on several short stories for a Familiar Generations story set. Protagonists will include Mike, Nikolai, Jude, Imré Farkas and Csilla (the Hungarian piano-restorer mage and his Familiar), Art, and maybe Deborah.

I will be returning to work on the non-series Scotland book shortly.

Research has begun on a Merchant book about an herb healer. I will be staying in town this summer, so I should be able to release the book in the fall.

It has been so warm that the roses are budding out, and daffodil shoots are appearing. MomRed wants dad and I to go out and dump ice cubes on the flower beds to try and calm the plants down. Even with the ice maker now working again, that probably won’t accomplish much.

The Shen Yun dance company and orchestra were in town last week. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was quite pleased. (No, I”m not going to do a review, because I do not care to be overwhelmed by attacks or spam from those who would prefer that the group disappear or at least stop performing.)

The long-range forecast has February and March being very cold in my part of the country. If they are also wet (but no ice, please oh please. BTDT, had a tee-shirt) I won’t mind as much. Unless snow pulls down the power lines. Then I might get a touch irked.

I wish certain people in public life would grow up, get real lives, and disappear from my news feeds. I also want a legal source of tax-free income guaranteeing sixty-thousand a year, and low-cal chocolate that tastes good and won’t upset my insides, and a computer that does what I want, not what I typed. Waking up and discovering that I’ve lost 12 pounds of fat overnight would also be good while the Universe is at it.

Most of what I’ve been reading has been reviewing material for Day Job. However, I recommend Cedar Sanderson’s new short-story collection if you have not gotten it yet. She has a nice mix of story types and “flavors.”

I put out suet and woodpeckers appeared. I think they were keeping the house under observation.

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Filing, Sorting, and Relaxing

For various reasons, one of the choirs I sing with has been inundated with unfiled music. These are pieces we’ve done but that didn’t get pulled out of folders and put back in the archives, or music that we’d planned to sing but had our plans changed,* or pieces that individual musicians checked out of the library and returned but that didn’t get sorted out of the “General Turn In” stack. Said stack was starting to rival the Empire State Building in height. Since I didn’t want our director, or our secretary, to end up pulling out their remaining hair or being flattened by a cascade of crescendos**, I offered to sort the stack and pull what isn’t needed at the moment from the Boxes O’ Bach. I’m not sure I’d finished the sentence before the secretary informed me that I was welcome to attack the Augean Mound.

I had the office/library all to myself. Just me, a multi-colored mass of sheet music, and some of the containment vessels, er, storage boxes. My task was to sort the music, put it in number order, and slip it into the boxes. I cleared a long flat space and started by color. Pink one here, pale blue here, darker blue with star, dark blue without star, white with big letters, white with small letters, Oxford University Press music division . . . Then I went back and forth, back and forth, just stacking the scores by title. For the first while I listened to music*** since I didn’t need to pay 1000% attention, just go by color and make sure all the nooks, crannies, and cubby holes had been emptied.

Then I attacked each pile and put them in number order. Some numbers were missing, but the secretary will go through and account for those (director, accompanist, other accompanist, sound-tech for mike cues . . .). It took several hours of steady work, with a few water and stretch breaks, but I got everything done.

Time flew. I wasn’t analyzing anything. I wasn’t worried about finishing by X time, or meeting a certain standard. Sort, organize, and pack. A heap of chaos turned into ten tidy boxes, plus a few random odds and ends of solo music or older compositions that got slipped into the mound but not reported. Those went into a basket on the secretary’s desk.

Sometimes, a simple, repetitive task is just what a person needs. I accomplished something, used my hands and not my brain, cleaned up a mess, and had 0 pressure. I wouldn’t want to do it every day for years, but I think I needed a productive physical job. I could see progress and knew I’d accomplished something useful. There’s satisfaction in a mess cleaned and a workload eased.

*When the string section music is ordered in May, the concert is in early December, and the rental place says they’ll ship in late January . . .

** Think of Shel Silverstein’s poem about “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout.” But not as much of a public health crisis.

*** I had no expectations about the album. It turned out to be a good album. Snowglobe by Erasure.

Desert Island Stuff

It’s one of those questions that interviewers toss in every so often, usually when interviewing a cultural figure. “If you were trapped on a desert island, what music/book/painting would you want to have?” I was thinking about that, because I loaded a new-to-me recording onto this computer, and found myself listening over and over to a few songs. It is an album by the a capella group Voces8. Mostly a capella – no piano or organ or orchestra, just an occasional cello and saxophone. I put Morten Lauridsen’s “Magnum Mysterium” and Bruckner’s “Os Justi” on loop as I wrote a scene.

If I were stuck with a limited amount of music and books, also known as “being in the real world for most of human existence,” I’d want the Mozart Requiem, Gjiello’s “Luminous Night of the Soul” and Lauridsen’s “O Nata Lux,” along with Lauridsen’s “Sure on this Shining Night” and Bach’s B-minor mass. In other words, things that lift the soul, or at least lift my soul, and speak of eternity. And that I can’t sing that well on my own. Maybe Avantasia’s “Raven Child,” just because it so shaped how Arthur’s character ended up developing. Maybe.

Purely instrumental? Ralph Vaughn-Williams “Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis,” and some medieval and Renaissance compositions. I’m not sure about which classical compositions make my “desert island list,” because there are a lot to choose from, and I’ve not had (or not taken) the time in years just to sit and listen to instrumental classical music. My selection for that used to be the Brahms German Requiem. Which is vocal as well as instrumental, so it doesn’t count.

Books? King James translation of the Bible. The Blue Sword. Wilson’s The Thirty Years War. One or two other great histories, perhaps. Rudyard Kipling’s Complete Poetry. Novels? I’m not sure. I’d have to go digging in my list. An art book of great works of Western art would also be good.

Assorted Musings . . .

What exactly is a “slim-fit parka, perfect for layering?” Does one wear it over a birthday suit, or put other garments over said parka? Why would you want a “slim fit” heavy-weather outer garment, anyway?

What was the designer smoking or drinking to make a down vest or coat “with slimming patterns?” Fluffy insulation is supposed to fluff, and looking slim and trim comes second to being warm. Or did I miss yet another memo?

Please explain the reasoning behind long-johns that are to keep you cool in winter, no matter your activity level.* What happened to layering, and taking off a layer as you start to get warm (snowshoeing, cutting wood or ice, shoveling wet snow . . .)?

Who counts all the bacteria in the probiotic capsules that claim to have “X million bacteria” in them? Do I want to know?

What motivated the cow to jump over the moon in the first place?

And perhaps most important, does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

*These are not the wicking-type long-johns, but supposed to have special cooling minerals in them [jade?] that kept you from overheating. I don’t recall jade suits working all that well in ancient China, but technology may have improved over time.