Monday, June 05, 2006


Cold summer, so far

We had two hot days in mid-May where it got to 75F, but since then the temperature has stayed below 60F. This morning it was 34F! Enough to kill the new growth on some of the trees, I'll bet...

Our oldest son, A, arrived yesterday for a "visit" with a hiking buddy. They already took off this morning for Mt. McKinley for several days, then on to Chena Hot Springs for a few days, and back here for one day before heading home. Our second son, B, arrives with his family the next day and will stay for just a week. We're going to go out on a halibut charter that last day with A and his friend. Mmm, mmm, we sure love that halibut (and also any saltwater king salmon if we're lucky).

We're hoping to meet them in Chena, but we had some problems yesterday with the MH and will have to spend Friday morning at the shop (assuming it will drive the 160 miles to Anchorage). We had quite a time getting home yesterday, with several stops to reset the "Check Engine" light. I'm guessing a loose wire or faulty sensor of some sort, but we'll have to hook it up to the code reader to find out for sure. Naturally, there are no code readers on the peninsula, hence the stop in Anchorage. The service guy at the shop said he expected they have most of the necessary parts in stock and should be able to fix things quickly, unless it is something unexpectedly serious.

Still, we got that old familiar dreaded feeling each time that d...n light came on - what's wrong? how are we going to figure it out? should we call for a tow? should we turn around and head for the shop? how much is it going to cost? how much hassle is it going to be? etc., etc., etc.

I'm not sure if there's something wrong - I called my cello teacher today to try to squeeze a lesson in this week, but she wasn't home. I left a message with her daughter, but no callback this evening. Now it looks like I won't be able to schedule anything until after the 21st (when B and family leave).

It has been hard finding the time for practice every day. I had to skip yesterday, and today I didn't get started till late. I find it harder to practice later in the day, for whatever reason. I've always been a morning person, I used to do my best creative thinking, etc. at work between 6am and 10am. Now, I try to practice between 7:30 and 9:30. If I delay it much later, I find it a bit more difficult to stay focused (and my fingers don't cooperate as fully, either). One day last week, I didn't get started till almost 12:30, and at one point, I almost fell asleep!

I'm still struggling with the newer pieces - I can play through the Bach Minuet with reasonably good intonation (ringing tones, etc.) but still quite slowly. As soon as I try to pick up the pace, I start messing up that opening phrase. I am getting the first piece and variation, in Book 2, pretty comfortably and have been able to pick up the pace. I've also been "cheating" by working on the second piece. I'm also doing OK on the four fiddle tunes.

I have been focusing on my bow hold - loosely holding with my thumb and first two fingers; letting the last two fingers "float". Also, I'm working on playing with the middle of the bow (instead of at the frog). And I'm working on keeping the wrist level and loose. It seems like all of these adjustments are going pretty good. Finally, I'm still trying (with less success) to keep my left arm elevated...

Yesterday in Anchorage, I scored a bunch of used cello CDs from Title Wave Books:
1) Pablo Casals (!) playing Dvorak and Brahms - a Naxos historical edition;
2) Mstislav Rostropovich playing Brahms;
3) Mischa Maisky playing Beethoven Cello Sonata Opus 5;
4) Mischa Maisky playing Elgar's Cello Concerto and Enigma Variations;
5) Maria Kliegel playing Schnittke's Cello Concerto;
6) The Best of Ofra Harnoy - playing a variety of pieces.

Then, because I had a bit of spare time, I stopped at Metro Music and found:
7) Jacqueline DuPre and Barenboim playing Elgar;
8) A 3 CD compilation of Jacqueline DuPre (the second half - only - of a 6 CD set) playing Chopin, Franck, Faure, Bruch, Bach, and Beethoven.

Also, I finally got part of my Amazon order:
9) Apocalyptica's Inquisition Symphony;
and also Coldplay's Parachutes.
I'm still waiting for another one by Kliegel playing Saint Saens.

So, now I have a ton of music to absorb over the rest of the summer. I've depleted all the cello CDs from Title Wave's inventory.


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