Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Automatic Screw-Up Button

After about four hours of intense practice on Friday and Saturday I was able to play Fairy Dance cleanly up to tempo. It had even started to sound good. Then I got the recording equipment set up and spent three and a half hours today trying to re-record it. As soon as I pressed the record button, it was back to square one. I'm sure I'm about to make some great breakthrough with this but it doesn't feel like it. Arrrrgh!

Update: I actually did make a huge breakthrough.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Project 1: Big Yellow Shirt

I just finished my first ever garment! It's a McCall's pattern that was rated "easy" so I shudder to think what a difficult one would entail! There are lots of little problems, but I'm still very happy with it. I might even wear it tomorrow!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Dashing Pink Sergeant

This track presents a new challenge: it's not straight out of a Féis Shiàtail songbook! The previous two tune sets were all pre-packaged with complete instructions by the fine folks at Slighe nan Gaidheal so it was just up to me to bring them to life with plenty of cowbell.

This new tune set is from the Féis Shiàtail 2006 songbook, however it has an issue. The third of the four reels in the group doesn't belong there. It's really a march, and when attempting to play it at reel speed it became an ungainly mess.

So I omitted it. That left me with a different problem: the set was too short! These groups of tunes are carefully crafted to have the right number of measures for the figures in the dance, so I had to find a substitute.

The one I picked was Fairy Dance. It's a great tune, and the name sealed the deal. It also doesn't hurt that my favorite gay fiddler from Cape Breton, Ashley MacIsaac, has an awesomeness-filled recording of it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Willow the Stripper

Another good recording session last night. This time, a set of four jigs using my first-ever downloaded drum loop collection! GarageBand doesn't include any percussion in 6/8 (apparently not cool enough a time signature for Dear Leader) but I found some good ones.

Fiddling went OK. I'll probably do some clean up later, but it's good enough for the dance class I'm leading on Saturday. Next up: The Dashing Pink Sergeant.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'm In Stitches!

I know this is über-gay, but I have always wanted a sewing machine. I love making things, and Mom would never let me use hers for fear of my breaking it, and neither would she teach me how to use it properly for fear of my becoming even more gay (I'm guessing on that last one).

So, imagine my joy when LCDSeattle and I walked into Lingoman's apartment last weekend and he had purchased one for my birthday. It's a good one too! A Pfaff Hobby 1142, which will meet all my needs for a really long time, if not permanently. I probably won't start making all my own clothes, but I can't describe how excited I am about making things like ritual wear, casual clothes, Celtic-themed stuff, curtains, etc.

I'm thinking of signing up for a basic sewing class being offered tomorrow evening on my way home. Yeah, I know it will be me and a bunch of middle-aged women but I don't care. Thank you, Love! A childhood dream is going to come true!

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Message In A Bottle

I got this fun idea before I left for my birthday weekend which included a trip to the top of Grouse Mountain with Lingoman and LCDSeattle. I picked up a balsa wood glider and took it up the mountain with me. While having refreshments in one of the restaurants at the top I borrowed a pen from the server and wrote on the underside of the wings:

You are blessed, Honor the Gods

After lunch, the three of us walked down to a spot that overlooked the side of the mountain and I launched the glider, hoping that it would make it down into the populated areas nearby to be found by the person whom the Gods most need help from. Themselves, however, had a different idea. The plane made it a short way away from the lookout point, took a sharp left and landed almost within sight of where we were standing. On some level it was a disappointment, but I trust there was a reason. Maybe a park ranger will find it this week and change the world.

Highest Birthday Ever

My birthday weekend was over-the-top fabulous. Spending three days with one of my best friends and my fiancé in beautiful Vancouver with perfect weather was as good as it sounds. Highlights included a visit to the Richmond Summer Night Market, Saturday afternoon on top of Grouse Mountain and dinner at Mirchi Cuisine of India.

Grouse Mountain was especially important to me in the birthday department. Several times in the past I've marked my birthday by going someplace very high up and very beautiful to encourage myself to take an overview of my life and where it's going. Taking the gondola ride up the side of the mountain was very frightening for me and facing that fear supported by Lingoman and LCDSeattle was really awesome. One of the mountaintop activities on offer was a tandem paraglide back down. All three of us wanted to do it, but didn't think we could afford the multi-hundred dollar fee. We also later learned that we're too ahem heavy. We're going to do it next summer, though! Save up a special fund and lose our non-aerodynamic poundage.

So the take-away lesson for me was that I need to face my fears and put myself in scary situations. I'm not getting any younger, and there are things I want to do. One of the most valuable things I learned from the High Priestess who trained me was that if you need more power than you have, you can get it by doing something that scares you. I'll leave you all to ponder the deeper implications of that, but I can tell you that it is 100% true.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

For many years, my circle of friends has had the habit of asking what we refer to as The Birthday Questions at birthday parties. They are:

1) What was the best thing that happened to you at ?

2) What was the most difficult thing that happened to you at ?

3) What are your goals for ?

Since I won't be having a birthday party this year, I'm going to answer the questions here on the blog.

1) The best thing that happened while I was 41 was starting to work on my solo CD. I'm enjoying the process, feeling hugely enthusiastic and energetic about it and improving as a musician.

2) The most difficult thing that happened while I was 41 was by a country mile the 10 days I spent under the threat of having my federal contract slashed to the point that I wouldn't be able to support myself. I have spent the last 8 months recovering from that week. I developed central serous retinopathy, heart arythmia, and degraded pulmonary function. My doctors assure me that I can recover from all these conditions, by the way.

This experience, however, has had a couple of positive out comes. My future mother-in-law spontaneously reassured me that if I were in desperate straights that she would help. That offer of help was a game-changing event in our relationship.

I also got super-motivated to pay off my second mortage (the kind you get when you don't have enough for a down payment) which I did last week.

3) While I'm 42 I intend to:

a) lose 42 pounds
b) release my solo CD

Wish me luck, everyone! Thanks in advance for your birthday wishes. If you forget my birthday, however, you are on my list; Watch your backs.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Greek Pagans Defend Their Heritage

So, you might not have heard, but some slimy real estate dude wants to build a gods-awful museum (read: elaborate gift shop) on the fraking Acropolis.

Ellinais, however, isn't going to let that happen without making a fuss. See the story on CNN for full details.

Irish pagans are defending Tara, Greek pagans are defending the Acropolis, and what are North American pagans doing? I shudder to think what the answer to that might be.

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Punch In, Punch Out, Clean Up

Much of the weekend was spent behind the Tweed Curtain, taking counsel with Lingoman's Aged Maternal Fossil (a pseudonym she coined for herself). It was lovely. For the first time she and I acknowledged that our first impressions of each other were dubious, in the context of having firmly changed our minds on the subject. Very nice.

Monday was spent back with my friend GarageBand. I found out how to do a "punch in" on a previously recorded track. In standard Apple fashion, it was easy and elegant.

I cleaned up all the fiddle flubs in Hella Gay Gordons and got a first draft down of a tuneset for Baile Ard, Mo Rún. Both of the tunes in the new set (Hut on Staffin Island and The Clumsy Lover) are copyrighted, so I'll have to do some research on how to deal with that before getting too attached.

I can't believe how much fun I'm having working on this.