Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First Date

I was just about to ask Michael for a date when he invited me to a Grand Pianos Live concert. My friend Glenn and I were having a competition for who could reach 50 dates first (with different people). Michael was around #12 or so, and that's about where I stopped, too. :)

I remember that I wore my black fuzzy slippers, barely disguised by the wide leg of my dress pants. Hmm...Old Me wore slippers a lot, and it wasn't necessarily to act cute, either. Slippers were my preferred footwear, and I didn't care to keep them in the appropriate shoe boundaries.

*After we got married, I somehow elevated my dressing standards (oh, a little before we married, too), but no campus rules enforcers could stop me from pulling out those slippers again when I was pregnant. What a sight! Pregnant woman in nice clothes...except...oooh dear, except for the slippers. Those bedraggled, holey, black blobs of fluff leaving shrapnel in my path. Wow.*

The date could have been like any other date, and I was extraordinarily comfortable with that. I settled cross-legged into my seat. My poor chiropractor...the only time I sit "normal" is when I'm at attention for a harp performance.

The first piano number started, and Michael whispered that he'd tried out for the concert and hadn't made it; apparently, the judges wanted a different flavor of music... and that comment opened the windows to a new date experience! I dared ask "You mean...you think this music is dorky?"

Now, sadly, that was not verbatim. Would that I had such perfect memory. But once we had this understanding that the music being performed was indeed cheese-pooh to the max for both our sets of ears, we were free to laugh conspiratorially together and whisper our criticisms. Our "evil" sides matched so well it was bliss! (I say "evil" because I realize a lot of people think we're awful for not liking their fluffy feel-good music). I'd never met someone who understood my music feelings like that outside of my family!

My favorite part:
Some show-off who'd gone on a Spanish-speaking mission decided to sing in Spanish (Yeahhh, I'd probably sing in French if I knew enough of it). Michael decided to translate.
Michael speaks Russian, not Spanish.
So the translation went like this (and it gave him an excuse to lean close and whisper in my ear):

"He just lost his car keys...
Hmm, I don't know what that next part meant...
But now he's asking his mommy where they are, I think.
Oh, she says they're in the tupperware."

I laughed SO hard I had to try not to SNORT! It was becoming a disturbance to the rest of the audience!
But I save us: I think everyone else was only mildly enduring this particular song. Especially the guy in charge of the lighting, because what was once a very Cool orange backlight switching to manly colors of Blue and Red (really, there was not ONE girl performer, now that I think of it), Mr. Lightsguy decided to practice his skills and started switching the colors to pink and purple with flowery shapes moving across.
Poor Spanish-speaking boy. I do feel bad that he might have been embarrassed if he noticed the feminine backlights.
HAhahha, but keys in the tupperware!!!

After the performance, Michael took me to a piano room to play a sample of what he'd auditioned with. Our bonding over cheesy music had braved him up. And his music was amazing. He did this cool thing where his right hand was actually on top of his left hand so he could do this ripple-y many-fingered chord thing that I've never seen anyone else do. I was baffled! And he felt shy after being so amazing. ;)

And then he had to go do some Home Teaching and take me home. *sigh* Oh righteousness. It left me wanting more! (Which he confides was his plan all along). (Really, I have more stories where he did the same thing).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just Call Me..."Smokin' Fingers"

Do birds share their birdhouses?
Have you ever seen a Senior Cat be miffed at the introduction of a New Kitty?
You know how sometimes when you have two goldfish so they can keep each other company they just swim around, bored with life, and somehow manage to avoid each other even in that little bowl?

Hmph. Today I wanted my own space. And...if I'm not a dunce at reading body language, so did Michael's mom. I wouldn't say the hackles were raised, no--but our personal space bubbles were a little more imposing than usual.

So I sat down at my harp. Mostly to look more useful than sitting down at the computer or the TV or my book.

I stumbled through a berceuse, which was not really depressing, but not really inspiring, either. The arpeggios just sounded like some maudlin soap opera.
So then I played Passacaille. But I think maybe I had some little anger issues? Because it was booming right from the start. And I LIKED it. >:) Too bad if the few people home thought I was strangulating the harp. It felt SO good.

And honestly, it was pretty beautiful. I have to admit. It felt pretty cool to let my fingers whoosh back and forth over the strings.

I finished with an uproarious slash of a chord (a HUGE one, reaching all across the harp).

And I didn't muffle.

My fingers smarted just a little. Whenever I play like this I have the image of a smoking gun in my mind--and sometimes I really do blow on my fingertips (my fervor is probably the reason they put me with the 300+peopled band that one year...surely the other harpist wasn't better than me? Oh no, I'm not bitter*).

The piece served its purpose. My homesickness, both for my own place and my childhood home, abated. For a while at least.

I miss the way my mom listened to me practice from her study. She'd comment once in a while (or sigh at the close of a song--very flattering). I also miss her hugs.

*yes I am. I conquered that Capriccio Espagnol cadenza! It was my dream to play it! And she played an altered version! On a smaller harp! With no passion! GAAAAAHHH!!!!! I still remember her flowery harp name. Olyvia Dellagardelle. Yeah.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The New Header for the Qaptain

If you read me in Google Reader, *coughABBYcoughcough*, you'll never see my amazing masterpiece of a header... ;)
Here's how it came to be!
My sister Rae asked me to do an illustration for her header and thought I should do one for myself as well.
Once I get into an art project, I'm completely immersed. Life zips by without my notice. Ender's diapers rank higher in ripeness by the minute. Michael actually misses me for the great lack of my company (aww...I love him). Mealtimes aren't just ignored--I don't even think about food. Or the bathroom. I'm all zoomed into my art.
So after a long time of doodling my picture (long time = who knows how many hours, honestly), I started to hate it. Everything about it was wrong. I looked weird, Ender looked creepy, the harp looked stupid, the laundry was dumb...but Michael looked pretty good. That was never a problem. But I started to think maybe Rae was wrong? Maybe I was wasting my time. Stupid picture.
But I finished it anyway (which isn't always advisable, because you should probably like your picture while you draw it or else you could do something irreparably vengeful).
It took maybe three days to share it with Rae.
And about five days before I liked it again.


This section of my predoodle sketchings made me laugh aloud!

A. Michael's telescope is rolled up music. WHY: that's the tool into the future for him! That will be his career and passion no matter what.

B. My captain hat is a book (labeled S.O.S.). WHY: well, first, a Book of Mormon on my head would be sort of dorky (er, dorkier) and somewhat sacrilegious. It also represents knowledge, which is one of the great ways I can be a leader. Also, I love reading. Feather: nothing. Makes it look more captainy.

C. Harp tipping...WHY: I don't know, because sometimes I feel like my skills are tipping if I don't practice as much? But notice I'm not grabbing the harp, I'm grabbing Ender. So as much as I love it, it's okay sometimes to sacrifice it for mothering.

D. Lipstick in my hand (it's there, look closely). WHY: because I feel that beauty is important. If I can look my best, I am respecting myself and others. And duh, it makes me feel better!

E. My risqué leg! Woohoo! WHY: why not? :D Have fun in life! Stand on the edge once in a while, flirt with your husband and be free! Yay!

F. Michael's hot white uniform. WHY: heh hehh heh. Because I like it. Okay, also because to me, Michael defies labels and societal molds. His "uniform" is blank. It is white, pure, which is to me like a blank paper--so deliciously ready to be written/drawn on. Michael can and will do that with his music, defining the soundworld. Seriously!

G. Michael is at the helm! WHY: I may call myself Captain, but Michael really does steer this ship.

H. Laundry in the crow's nest. WHY: hahahah! WHY??!!!! For one, I think it's hilarious. But aside from me laughing hysterically at my drawings (it's probably more fun to watch me because who would laugh at a drawing of laundry? Pooh), it's a number of things... I don't have a laundry room--this can fit in to a lot of things, though, as in some rooms have multiple uses...as in...I don't have the luxury home of my daydreams with a room for every purpose, but I'm happy. Took a while to spit that out, but that's what I mean. Did that make any sense??

I. Roiling water. WHY: Life. (Not everything is a calm sea, got it?)

J. "HMS MOTHERHOOD". WHY: Motherhood really is divine, so I'm happy to be on His Majesty's Ship.

K. Doodles on the sail (not just the baby's!). WHY: I love to draw! And I hope I won't be irritable and mean about drawings on the wall. Yeah, it's not good, but I hope I can laugh, too. Anyway, it also represents involving creativity in anything I do. Paintbrush and stuff tucked in a slit conveniently so I can draw any time.

L. Dishes in a pile. WHY: But guess what, they look clean, don't they? Mwa ha hahah... either way, they represent something that's always there. I'll always have dishes, every day. But I'll still wash them. It's just something I have to do. And that's okay.

M. Our subtle halos. heehee! WHY: We are children of God! I can be proud of myself and remember I have incredible potential! I'd better not belittle myself! And then, as for Michael and Ender, that's easy. I practically worship them. Ender's such an angel, and Michael is my hero. Gosh, I love him.

N. Sketchy edge only on leftish side of page. WHY: I actually really like my creative thinking here, sorry if it comes off as cheesy! Guess what it is!!! The unknown future! The past is clear cut because hindsight is 20-20. Future is sketchy--we may have an idea of how it will go, to some extent. But it's largely undrawn. :] (I need a cheshire-cat-size smile because I'm so pleased with myself).

O. Red sky at night, sailor's delight...red sky in the morning, sailors take warning...And who knows if it's night or day in my picture? WHY: I chose it not just because it looks cool with the blue water but because sometimes things are fairytale-like (accidentally typed fartytale, yikes). And sometimes, it's rough and you have to be careful in the bad weather.

P. One last thing--we're all touching each other in some way. WHY: We love each other, and we need each other.

Ender's 2nd Birthday!

Ender loves play-dough. He wants it at least three times a day. He calls it day-o.

Want to see his awesome Carousel Cake? Go here!

Everyone's been saying they can't believe my son's two! Well, I can. But I admit it's starting to dawn on me just what that means. I'm not even talking about Terrible Twos. Which, yeah, he gets cranky sometimes, but who cares? I do, too!

Ender is tall. And he talks a ton. And he's funny--his sense of humor is already quite apparent. He really is kind of growing up. I don't feel like I've missed it, that I've missed the time it took to get to this point; I know I've been a pretty good mommy, and I feel like I've been "present" for his babyhood. But it is sad that he's not so much a baby anymore.

I think he must somehow understand my feelings, because for the last few days,
he's let me hold him more.
He hugs me back, and while I cradle him, he rests his head on my chest.
He lets me sing lots of songs to him (the more the better).
He lets me drape a blanket around him when I rock him...
(he lets me rock him).
He lets me read the whole story to him, turning the pages only when we're ready.

I've always known Ender loves me, but he's such a little fireball that cuddling isn't usually on his agenda. But I've really needed it lately because my little baby's not that little anymore. So it's been nice. Very nice.

Ender got some tractors...which he LOVES...(and I could have done a Tractor Cake, but it just didn't look as fun to me...is that naughty? I figured he wouldn't know the difference, and he does love animals! I'm such a girl: "Tractors? Blah").
He also got a little collection of safari animals (loves them),
clothes (loves the triceratops on the shirt and calls it a rhino),
work gloves (he loves gloves, and they're like grandpa's),
and a Corduroy book (A Pocket For Corduroy) and Corduroy bear. He gasped with delight at the book and gave the bear several kisses.
Sorry he's not smiling very much in these pictures. He was cranky on his birthday! :)
But he did smile here and there, so we know he loved his presents.

When I put him down for his nap today, he said "Pocket! Where's Pocket?"
That's Corduroy's new name. :)

Harp Tutorial - part 3: Sheet Music and Sounds

Part 3 - Sheet Music & Sounds

I am brave. Because these clips are of me playing with very little practice and less-than-ideal technique. But I am not brave enough to include my face! These were done on a day that I had refused to shower (heh heh hehhh)!
But that's okay. Because I'll prove even braver when I include a full, beautiful harp piece at the end of these Tutorials.

The modern harp has so many different sounds; it's not all flowery angel stuff. Here, I demonstrate some of the more popular special effects.
In each short video:
Title of effect
Explanation of execution
Appearance in sheet music
What it sounds and looks like on the harp
(Watch out--there's no sound until the harp starts, and sometimes it startles me).

Pres de la Table

Double Glissando

Falling Hail

Falling Hail with Eolian Chords

Falling Hail with Gushing Chord/Glissando


Tam Tam


I do not have a video for these two effects (my camera charger is still AWOL; I cheated and loaded my stuff with another camera, but the video with these cool effects didn't work. Sad).

This Xylophonic effect is a really cool one!
With one hand, I place my fingertip on the base of the string, and with the opposite hand, I pluck.

And this is the same kind of effect you'd use to play the slinky notes of Pink Panther. It's called a Pedal Slide, and it looks so cool because I only pluck the string once--and then I use my feet on the pedals to change the pitch, so it looks somewhat "ghostly." Like the harp's playing itself because my hands aren't moving.

Selections from Carlos Salzedo's "Chanson dans la Nuit" (Song in the Night)