Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Baby, it's cold outside

This morning I checked the outside temp by looking at my computer: 19º F!

Until now I have avoided turning on the heat in my house because natural gas is so expensive and last winter's heating bills were exorbitant......but checking the indoor thermostat, my house was a toasty 55º . (Yikes!)

A. lit a fire in the fireplace, and we are all bundled up in flannels and blankets. Can't turn on the heat yet; it's not November! Actually, I begged A. to go get the air filters out of the furnace so I could clean them, then reinstall them and TURN ON THE DUMB HEAT! I'm breaking my own silly rule (more like guidelines, anyway). We almost made it to November! ;)

Because I am so cold, I am contemplating knitting some socks and mittens. But since I can only knit and purl and don't know how to read patterns, I think I'll just have to wear what I've already got. Not like I'd be able to finish them before it warms up a little bit anyway~!

Augh. been sitting here too long. Have to get up and move around!!

Because of the hard frost, today all the leaves will fall off the walnut tree in the front yard. Very nice for cleanup. One WHUMP and it's all done. It's rather like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree in that respect. I don't know if any other trees do that - lose all their leaves at once, rather than shedding them a few at a time in the wind and rain. Oh wait, a ginkgo tree does that too - WHUMP, hey presto, no leaves!

Mmmkay, it's time to go sit in the spot of sunshine in the living room and do some math. Lesson today is carrying over twice--though the trendy term now is "regrouping." 14 ones is "regrouped" as 1 ten, 4 ones. 12 tens is "regrouped" as 1 hundred, 2 tens. I still like "carrying over" and "borrowing" better.

MY NOSE IS COLD! I need to knit a nose warmer to tie around my head. I KNOW these have been made before because I've seen them.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fall Frolic Recital and Mummy Cookies

D and S were in a piano recital this afternoon! S played Halloween Boo by Melody Bober, and Ghosties in the Graveyard by one of the Noonas. S was in several recitals last year, so this is old stuff for her. She was poised and did beautifully. (I know, I'm so impartial, but it's really true.)

D, however, experienced his first recital today. He played Grasshoppers on Parade by Susan Ogilvy. I have been on his case all week to slow down, mind the staccatos, slow down, where are the dynamics, slow down, etc. but to no avail. And, the way you practice is the way you'll perform, right?


He was petrified going up there. Sober as an AA meeting. Bowed solemnly to the audience, then began. Perfect tempo, absolutely perfect staccatos, mindful of dynamics... was this the same piece--or the same child? D finished the song, took another solemn bow, walked with poise back to the pew where we were, and then collapsed, head on my lap. "I almost flunked the recital!!" he whispered to me.

Really? Could've fooled me!

Sometimes a little stage fright is a healthy thing to keep a presumably ADHD boy focused.

Oh, and here are some mummy cookies we made and brought for sharing afterwards:

You need some cutout cookie dough, a gingerbread man cutter, some white frosting, and basketweaving tip 48 (using the smooth, not serrated side). Then pipe on tip 3 eyes and mouth in chocolate frosting (I cheated by opening a can of Betty Crocker frosting) - voila!

For the record, I really stink at making cutout cookies. So it was good these were all wrapped in bandages so you couldn't see their deformities! lol

Friday, October 27, 2006

An unfortunate refrigerator meme event

Mrs. Blythe tagged me to do this fridge meme a couple days ago, only I'm a little bit behind on life right now! So here is my fridge, which I did not alter in any way except to straighten the detritus on there so it was more mondrian. (I've been reading too much lately!)

Only Blogger is stalling out on the photo part, so I'll edit it in later. In the meantime, you'll have to suffer through the blow-by-blow explanation of what's on the fridge, unless of course you do the sensible thing and skip this post entirely, as it will only be mindboggling dull. (I sound like Lemony Snicket, don't I? I've just finished all 13 books of his in the last week).

Okay, so for future reference (when I get the photo to upload,that is!)

  1. Dry-eraseable shopping list
  2. Family photo taken two years ago, where Costco's photo developing department gave my husband a lobotomy.
  3. Photo of Kevin and Tammy
  4. Photo of my brother-in-law and family (cool church web site, whoever made it.)
  5. An older photo of my son, when he still had his baby teeth. (Hey, where's my daughter's photo?)
  6. A Far Side cartoon: "Hey, everybody look at me! I'm a cowboy! Howdy, howdy, howdy!" This reminds me of my friend Wally. I think I might have even gotten it from him in high school, can't remember. In which case, it's almost 20 years old. (GACK. AM I THAT OLD?)
  7. Two postcards of the Spruce Goose purchased by my son when we went to the McMinnville, OR, Aviation Museum
  8. A year-old photo of Grandma K. and my two halflings
  9. A photo of fall color joined with a photo of Lora and Dave's wedding picture at the beach
  10. Kiddie art. Of course. Color wheel made solely by mixing the primary colors of red, blue and yellow.
  11. D's list of laws. This deserves its own post. He wrote this down one Sunday morning. It's rather interesting to see how the mind of this 9 year old boy works.
There it is!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Territorial Altos: Junior High Repeat

Last night at choir, the director voiced our alto section. Basically, we went in the Aylen band room, sang a few bars, then he'd rearrange us into power clusters so the dominant singers are in the center front.

Now, realize that this is only my second semester in this choir; but at the first, even I experienced what could only be called territorial behavior by some of the more insecure altos in the section. My first rehearsal, an alto very sweetly told me that I couldn't sit between her and another singer, because she "had" to hear the other person sing.

I smiled to myself and let her have her way. This sounds arrogant of me, but I know what I'm capable of vocally, and knew that she'd only benefit by my standing on the other side of her. Anyway, that was last January.

Skip forward to last night. New semester, new music, and most importantly, new members to fit in and voice. Of our twenty altos, eighteen were there, so the director went ahead and voiced our section, beginning with the first row. He got them all sorted out in their new places, and sent them back in to where the rest of the choir were rehearsing with the accompanist. Then he voiced my row, got us all settled, and shipped us back in to rehearsal.

When I reentered the choir, my tenor friend, sotto voce, told me that the territorial altos had rearranged themselves and bumped one of the new members back to the far end of the row - NOT where the director had just placed her moments before. So very junior high! (The guilty party/parties were the ones who had informed me where I couldn't sit during my first rehearsal.)

Clearly this was a time to be bold. And, I'm the alto section leader, so I have the clout to do something about it.

Now, the denouement of this is not very dramatic at all; I just mentioned out loud to the director that apparently the front row altos had gotten confused because they sure weren't sitting where he had just placed them... and so the territorial altos, feigning confusion and uncertainty, allowed the new member to move back to her rightful place. And the most territorial alto? End of the row.

All this figurative scratching and clawing for what? An assigned seat? Are you in choir to sit by your buddy, or are you there to produce the best sound that you are capable of? Get your mind off yourself and your insecurities and get it back on the group where it belongs. Sheesh.

Anyway, problem solved, new member's feelings assuaged, and the territorial alto? I don't know yet. We'll see if I end up on her black list. But when I know I'm right, I'm pertinacious.

Word of the day.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The latest Snopes

Recently I was all fired up about forwarded email messages that were hoaxes.

This morning I received yet another one--about how to beat an email worm (should you happen to get one - update daily, my dears) by having the email address aaaaaaa@aaa.aaa in your address book. Since worms supposedly go in alphabetical order, the first email would bounce, and thereby cause the worm to stop emailing all the rest of your real friends.

Again, a hoax.

Your PSA for the weekend. Cheers, all!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mod Math Monsters from the Id

On Monday I introduced my kids to the concept of circle math - and had no idea why. They did just fine; I went into a tailspin trying to determine what possible purpose this serves.

Since then I've been trying to figure out the WHY of circle math and it's been a brainstretcher for me. I'd never heard of it, even. Came thisclose to emailing Crystal, but then decided to snoop around on my own first. Looks like we can thank Herr Gauss for this concept (he whose name is used as a unit of measuring the strength of a magnetic field)

I still don't understand it enough to explain it (therefore, I don't have a good grasp of it yet), but the lights are beginning to come on for me.

So Crystal, you and your bevy of math teacher friends.....did you ever use circle math/modular math in your classes? Either teaching or taking?

I never thought I'd find it in third grade!

I think I need to improve my mind by taking another math class. I feel like I've just been submitted to the Brain Booster machine used by the Krell on Forbidden Planet.


My mom-in-law calls this afternoon, hyperventilating:


She's leaving Seattle on Saturday morning; arriving at the Detroit airport I-don't-know-when; is being picked up by my brother-in-law; and they are going straight to Tiger Stadium. Comerica Park. Whatever.

To quote Napoleon Dynamite: "Luckyyyyyyyyyy!!"

Other odds 'n' ends - piano player for South Sound Classical Choir couldn't make it last night. He emailed the backup piano player, who either didn't get his message, or didn't get it in TIME, because she was in Leavenworth. So guess who found out she was playing third-string piano a mere hour before rehearsal?

At least I didn't have time to work myself up into a nervous, barfing wreck. It went okay. And of course, the choir members were kind to me.

Today we took a field trip to the Seattle Aquarium. I love to watch the sea otters and moon jellies; kids liked the tide pools where you could touch the sea cucumbers, sea urchins, stars, etc. Parts of it were under construction so not everything was available.

After the aquarium we ate lunch at Red Robin. Woot! Haven't been there in ages. We used to take the youth group there on Sunday nights sometimes, just because their french fries have free refills. I was good this time; I had a chicken caesar wrap. Now I need to go to DWLZ to find out how many Weight Watchers points that really was!

Taught a new student this afternoon. He's new to the area and a transfer student. We will have to do some serious review. He's in a method book that I have (over time) determined I do not like AT ALL, so I'll be moving him to one I do. His former teacher seems like she took a rather "whatever" approach, so he has tons of books that he can't really play from well at all. Very nice family.

And since we ate out this afternoon, dinner tonight was on the light side of things. A. ate a bowl of grape nuts, declaring that to be his supper. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for the rest of us.

Now this evening, piano, knitting, and relaxing.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

golden watermelon

Eeeeek! I just checked my receipt from yesterday's grocery shopping excursion. I had S. with me, and I usually let her pick out a piece of fruit to buy (instead of candy) to enjoy as we drive around.

Well yesterday she chose a watermelon. :) So I said, "sure, why not?" and we tossed it (Carefully) in the cart.

I did not pay attention while checking out. That watermelon was seedless, cost $.69 a pound, and weighed 15. 9 lbs!

Doing the math for you: That was a $10.97 piece of fruit!!!!

We will be treating this watermelon as gold, yesss precioussssss.

...and I will be looking at prices before buying ~!

braintwistedness and NCTMs

You know, I DID use my college degree for about five years before having kiddoes. But now that I'm a stay at home monster, I've had to do the ol' career switch, falling back on something I thought I'd neeever, eeever use.

Referring, of course, to the fact that I teach piano lessons from my home twice a week. My dear friend Di commented to me once, "How do you expect your students to practice when you never practiced yourself?"

An astute question, that.

REGARDLESS of the answer to that, which I am still pondering in various shapes and forms, as evidenced by my weekly parade of non-practicing students.... the fact remains that there are some serious gaps in my musical education, inasmuch as I chose to major in English/science and take a break from music when I was in college.

So--skip forward a decade, and into my life enters Mimi, and lessons with her. First class lesson, she started talking about scale modes like lydian, dorian, aeolian, etc., and I'm saying...."uh...WHAT?!" Clearly, I have some gaps to fill. She just spews knowledge out left and right, and occasionally some of it sinks into my thick head.

So several of the music teachers and I are taking classes with Mimi, specifically for the purpose of becoming Nationally Certified Teachers of Music (NCTM), which is offered through the Music Teachers' National Association. As for me, I don't really care about being "Anne Cognito, NCTM" --it's really more about HOW to teach piano, pianistically. Applied technique. Music history. All those things rolled up together.

Which brings me to last night's choir practice. We were singing Mendelssohn's "Behold a Star" - and at one point, he throws in this funky chord. Some kind of augmented sixth thing, functioning as a V7. So the director and I were bantering back and forth about whether it was a German, Italian, or French 6th. Now that I look at it again, it's a diminished chord; so does that still make it an augmented sixth? This makes my brain hurt.

I can't keep them all straight in my head. I have to see it on a sheet of paper and plunk it on the keyboard. The German sixth SOUNDS just like a V7 chord, but it's spelled as a sixth on the staff, and it resolves up and OUTward, instead of down. The Italian is like the German, except no 3rd degree... I think? And the French is something entirely different altogether, which I'm sure would please the French. I think it involves a tritone. I've been looking at a Wiki article to try to nail it down in my head, but so far, no dice.

ARGH. So all this braintwistedness in my head had better be straightened out if I'm ever going to have those four letters after my name.

Enjoying the journey...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Where in the World?

Yesterday at the Best Store Ever (Value Village), dear hubby picked up a CD-ROM of "Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?" for the kids.

Last night and today, all I'm hearing is, "Mama, where is Mobile? Mama, where is Annapolis? Mama?? Mama??"

And sometimes when they ask, I DON'T KNOW!

(For the record, I do know where the two places above-mentioned are located!)

I rot at geography. But I live with someone who's a whiz at it. Just ask him where anything is and you get a dissertation on climate, ecosystem, flora, fauna, and geopolitics of the region.

In family news, something big just happened. The Detroit Tigers have made it to the American League Championship Series. My daughter is proudly wearing her Tigers cap (provided to her by Grandma Karen, of course), having virtually no clue about the game of baseball, but it's all good with her. In two weeks when Grandma Karen is here, we will be watching baseball. This afternoon she grilled me as to whether I would be supporting Oakland or Detroit. No worries, Mom! Detroit! (On principle, Seattle fans hate Oakland). I think we got three long-distance phone calls today during the game with on-the spot updates: "It's the top of the 4th, 4-0 Tigers!!" "It's the bottom of the 6th, and 6-0 Tigers!!!!!!"

And I got a private (well, not now) chuckle about Alex Rodriguez being 0 for 4 today and getting the last out of the division series! Gee, stiff two other teams (*coughSeattlecoughTexas*) to claw your way to the Yankees to earn a ring, and perform like bollocks! Woot. Veeeery nice, 8-Rod!

So I wonder if my brother-in-law is following this? He used to be rabid about the Tigers, but when the players' strike of 1995 happened, his fervor cooled. His quote: "I didn't leave baseball; baseball left ME."

We shall see.

Don't be so gullible, McFly,..

If there's one thing that irritates me about the vast majority of Christians, it's that they're sheep.

And I don't mean sheep in the Biblical sense, as in "The Lord is my shepherd [ergo, I am a sheep], I shall not want." This is the proper position of the child of God: Following his/her Master, trusting that He will provide.

What I'm ranting about today is The Lemming Factor. The blind following of the Masses, no matter what cliff they're heading toward (or over). The group-think.

All right. I'll spell it out plainly. HOAX EMAILS. Nothing makes Christians look more stupid than their use of the "Forward" button for every heart-tugging, emotional slosh that comes down the 'net--or even worse, the hyped-up panic about some incorrectly researched article.

This morning I received one of the emotional glurge emails, about how AOL and ZDNet are tracking the number of forwards, donating $.30 each time to a family whose daughter has leukemia. Usually there's a statement like "if you delete this, then you have no heart" or other such rot, but unusually, this one did not have that.

As I scanned the header, I found no fewer than ten people I knew on there. It originated from a well-meaning but MISINFORMED Christian who didn't want to be considered heartless, I suppose.

THINK before you hit "forward." AOL will never know or CARE about what happens to this email.

Another notorious one that made Christians look like blithering idiots was the furor over a supposed interview with J.K.Rowling and the children who read Harry Potter were becoming satanists. This interview included such infamous statements as "Jesus died because he was weak and stupid," and "Harry is an absolute god send to our cause," (from a supposed Satanic High Priest in Salem, MA). (Erm, did you catch that? "God send" ?? hel-LOOOO. can you say... "irony" ??)

And Christians were in a tizzy. HOW DARE SHE SAY THAT!!! Hysterical emails flew back and forth across all American Christendom.

Yet if they had used their God given common sense and researched the facts, they would have found that the article in question was really from The Onion, an online satirical magazine.

In other words, IT WASN'T TRUE.

There is a solution, folks. You MUST add snopes.com to your list of favorites. And you must patiently, graciously educate those who send around such nonsense. After all, I'm sure you've been taken in once or twice. I know I have been guilty of this occasionally.

And because I don't like the fashion of wearing egg on my face, I habitually check Snopes WHENEVER I get something like this. And you know what? 95% of these emails that are circulated again and again are hoaxes.

Don't be a sheep.

End of Public Service Announcement.
< /ranting font >

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Volcanoes, How Exotic!

Here you go, Mrs. Blythe; this is what I see all around the streets where I live. "Volcano Evacuation Route" !! These signs are stolen rather often, I must add. (Blurry picture from my camera phone)

Interestingly enough, on Tuesday the lahar sirens went off. I didn't worry; they always go off a little after 10 a.m. on the test days. However, none of the shorter people in the family would rest before I double checked the city web site to be sure it REALLY WAS a test. I also had to turn on KOMO 1000 news radio to prove it.

I would include a photograph of Mt. Rainier, the volcano I can see from my front yard, only it hasn't been out the last several days. This means we're getting rain soon- if the mountain's "wearing a hat" --or in this case, completely occluded.

Volcanoes and earthquakes and tsunamis--oh my! Livin' on the Pacific Rim is fun fun fun!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

must... have... coffee....

Went to a WSMTA leadership conference this weekend up at Snoqualmie Summit. I arrived late, due to a command performance at Mr. Willis' 90th birthday party on Saturday afternoon, which was a NO MISS thing. (After all, you only are ninety once!)

So after the shindig, I barrelled up Hwy 18 to I-90 and up to the summit. Made it in about 1 hr flat. Do not ask how fast I drove. Let us just say that traffic was light!

It looks beautiful up there right now! Leaves are beginning to change color, and I'd estimate that they're about three weeks ahead of us as far as fall weather goes. There was definitely a nip in the air.

I arrived just in time for dinner, and then there were meetings with the various music teacher chapter presidents and vice presidents. I was a mere acolyte, soaking in How Things Work In The State.

After the meetings I just hung out with Sharon and Mimi. I brought my camping airbed along so nobody would have to share beds :) - so I ended up on the floor underneath the open window.

Did I mention that this is elevation 3000' ? It was COLD there, sucker! I burrowed down as best I could, avoiding the draft as much as possible. As I drifted into a non-peaceful, light sleep, it occurred to me that if I wanted to be cold, I might just as well have stayed at home, where our bed is perched right underneath an open window so the cold air can drift down on me.

Let me clarify that the cold air is not MY preferred sleeping conditions, oh no. It is my dear husband's requirement. He does not like it hot. Nor do I, for that matter, but it has to be tepid so I can at least let my muscles relax, instead of having to shiver to maintain my internal body temperature~!

Anyway. The last time I checked the microwave time in the hotel room, it was about 12:30 a.m. Odd, fitful dreams. Cold air.

5:11 a.m.:

!?!??!!!!!! It sounded like the lahar sirens tests we have monthly here in Puyallup.

But people at 3000 feet are not in risk of lahar.

My two roommates slept on, blissfully unaware of this hill-shaking, nerve wracking siren. (They had earplugs, I was later to learn.)

That concluded my night's sleep. I lay there, half awake, noodling out what it could be for, and the only thing I could come up with was "avalanche warnings."

Later on this morning, the man at the front desk confirmed my theory. There's a training session going on right now for ski patrol, and they used the siren to get them up and ready to respond.

They certainly got ME up too!

The man further said that the siren sometimes goes off seven, eight times a day during the winter skiing season. Car accidents, fires, avalanche, it's all covered. yuck. I'd hate to live up there.

So, receiving only about 5 fitful hours of sleep, I really needed some caffeine to make it through the day.

However, the Boyd's coffee provided by the lodge just didn't cut it. Not even French Roast.

So now that it's 11 pm almost, I might as well just give up on the coffee idea and go to bed undrugged.