Friday, January 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday - Volume 1

I always enjoy reading other bloggers' 7 Quick Takes editions, so I thought I would try doing it myself. At the very least, it might, ya know, get me to update at least once a week.

1. I went to see my sister at the Battle of the Book Clubs last night at the Guild in Charlottetown. It was a lot of fun. There were four different book clubs competing for best book (or something), and they had to creatively present why their book was the best. My sister's group I think had the hardest challenge, because they had to present a "graphic novel". But considering that that was their starting point, they did very well! In between the presentations there were games like Mad Libs, charades, and one called Smart or Funny in which they would pose a question and you got points based on it either being right or being entertaining. The whole show was recorded for Island Morning, a CBC radio show, so that was fun, too.

2. I bought a 56 oz. bag of M&Ms at the dollar store last night. I now feel officially equipped to tackle this thesis. Hopefully my everlasting fame and glory from writing such a groundbreaking, shockingly awesome paper will make up for the fact that 3.5 lbs of M&Ms somehow magically translate into 15 lbs. when applied to the female human body.

3. I have a desk set up in the kitchen now. I think I've mentioned that already, but I'll do it again. It's great to have such a big workspace all to myself, and since it's in the middle of everything, I'm not tempted to leave (too much) random, non-work-related crap on it, so it really is just for writing.

4. My sister and I wanted to go horse riding last weekend, so she drove us up to see the lady with the horses. Except, during the 20 minute drive, it started snowing like crazy, and this lady's driveway was already pretty snowed in. So we stupidly attempted to get up it anyway, which resulted in my sister getting the car stuck just as we were cresting the hill. It was still snowing and I was afraid we were going to get really stuck, so we just stayed for 15 minutes to chat before we left. I managed to get us unstuck but couldn't get up the hill, so I had to reverse about 250 feet, down a hill, not really being able to see where the tracks were, and with drop-offs on both sides, in order to get us home. Scary, but cool that I did it!

5. I'm going back to Montreal on Feb 2 and staying for two weeks. I'm ambivalent about this. I'm looking forward to a social life that involves people my own age, but at the same time, I like being home where it's calm and comfortable and I sleep well. Also, I'm nervous about my presentations, but I'm sure they'll be fine.

6. Snowstorm coming in tonight. It's supposed to warm up to +4 this evening, which means all the snow will start to melt, before it plummets again overnight. This means that the roads are going to be giant sheets of ice tomorrow morning. I hope I can still go to orchestra!

7. I've been singing for a half-hour every day. It feels great, even though the cats hate it, and I can tell that I've improved in my upper register. I just had to let my muscles strengthen for a while. I'm keeping my eye out for performance opportunities, too. It would be so great to be on stage again.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Joys Of Country Living

I love the slowness and smallness of PEI. I've done two things this weekend that I would never have been able to do in Montreal.

First, I've always wanted to learn how to play the violin. I bought one several years ago, and last January I took it out and tried teaching myself in earnest. But I can't really afford real lessons, and I'm terrible at practicing music unless I have a group to show up to. So on Friday, when I read in the Buzz magazine about the Definitely Not The Symphony orchestra, I decided that would be the perfect thing to get me playing on a fairly regular basis. No pressure, no skills, and no commitment needed, just a toonie a week and a good sense of humor. So I showed up with an instrument that I've never really played, got placed as a first violin, and sight-read the music for over an hour. And get this: I was doing just as well as everyone else. We're talking fifth-grade band, first week of school, but with a lot more fun and laughter. One of the quotes of the day, from the conductor: "Excellent! That was great! Now, for those of you who remembered that there's a B-flat in this piece ... maybe you could play it next time." LOL! I'm totally looking forward to next week. My goal: by May I want to be good enough to be able to bring my violin out to Montreal and participate in at least one irish music session.

Then tonight, my dad and sister and I went to see Despicable Me. But not in the theater. The junior high in the next school district was having a fundraiser for their end of the year trip, so they put Despicable Me on the projector in the gym and charged a toonie a person to go see it. They spread out the tumbling mats and we (meaning me, my dad, my sister, a few parents, and a zillion elementary school kids) made ourselves comfortable with little brown bags of popcorn and cans of soda. A lot of the kids were even in their pajamas. And everyone was laughing at all the poop/fart jokes and having a total blast.

And also, everyone at the miniature horse association party last night told me that my homemade peanut butter cookies were the best they'd ever had. One lady even asked for my recipe. =)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jog

After a very long hiatus, I am back in PEI. Christmas was Christmas, spent down in Massachusetts with the various extended family. It was, as always, good to see everyone again. Then I was in Montreal for a week and had a thoroughly good time. I actually had more friends left there than I thought! (har har) In fact, I had such a good time that I'll be going back for two weeks next time, in early February. That way, hopefully, I'll have enough time to see everyone AND go visit all of my favorite pubs!

But I'm in PEI for now, and very happy to be sleeping again at night. And, miraculously, my allergies have not yet kicked in. At least not with a vengeance. So I decided to take advantage of that and get some singing in. I basically haven't sung in six months, since my last voice lesson in July. My vocal chords and surrounding muscles are out of shape, which is to be expected, but not nearly as much as I thought they would be. I still have my full upper range from before and nearly all of my lower, though I decided not to push it too much and just did exercises for about 15 minutes to get them used to moving in that way again. I'm hoping to get a lesson or two when I go back in February, since the place where I'm staying is actually a 10-minute walk from my voice teacher's condo!

The next step is to find my music binder. My dad was the last person to be picking through it, back in October, but he says he doesn't know where it is. But once I find it I can practice actual music again.

And the point of this post: Puzzle, our baby cat (she's only 2 - she came with the house because the owners didn't want to keep her) is usually not very affectionate. Well, when she's outside, she's super affectionate, but inside the house she growls and bites if you try to pet her more than one or two strokes. Well wouldn't you know, she thought that me doing vocal exercises was absolutely the best thing ever! And the higher and louder the better! I was singing and doing all sorts of weird voice manipulations that normally piss off humans and send animals running for cover. But Puzzle was wrapping herself around my legs, climbing on tables so she could get closer to my face, meowing for me to pet her, and getting me to follow her all over the house like this. And if I was petting her and stopped singing for a second to think of a new exercise or adjust something in my technique, she would start growling and getting cranky until I started singing again, and then she was Princess Affectionate.

Weird, weird, weird.