Sunday, July 29, 2007



I've spent the last few days expanding our "yard" by about half an acre. I'm trying to clear most of the foliage around the house to limit our exposure to forest fires; but mostly to remove some of the hiding places for those #$&%^@* mosquitoes. The biggest challenge are the alder and willow shrubs. These things are amazing. They're dozens of years old with trunks two or three inches in diameter, but only two or three feet tall. Each winter the moose nibble off all their new growth, and every spring these trees try once again to grow tall enough to escape the moose pruning. Once in a while, one or two do succeed and quickly become tall trees.

But clearing these shrubs sure is challenging, with all their offshoots and massive root structures. I'm also trimming all the branches off the lower eight feet of some of the spruce and pine trees (I planted a hundred lodgepole pine seedlings about 20 years ago - randomly scattering them out in the woods. Now they're all 15 to 20 feet tall and ready for some pruning). I've used all my tools on this project, including a new gas-operated weedwhacker (with a blade attachment). After all that I cleared out the undergrowth - mostly just fireweed and tall grass - raked it up and hauled it all away.

We've had quite a warm spell this weekend. It got to 78F this afternoon! Maybe not a record but probably close. Our houses just aren't designed for these temperatures. A normal summer day usually reaches the mid-60s. Not just our houses, but our bodies also get so used to our cooler temperatures that 78F also takes its toll. I'd forgotten what it was like.

With all the yardwork, my wrists and hands are pretty sore - especially at the base of my thumbs. This has affected my cello practicing (or is that practising, Rallentando(?) - "practice" is the noun and "practise" the verb??)

Our strings orchestra is playing a concert Tuesday at the library - as part of our local Summer Music Festival. The festival sponsors a noon concert every day for two weeks at different venues - usually a coffee shop or a couple restaurants. As part of that concert three cellos (the Cellocracy) will play four trios - mostly early 17th century dances, not too difficult, but they do sound nice. We just got these pieces Monday evening and planned to meet for a rehearsal Thursday, but one of us couldn't make it at the last minute. So we had to divvy up the parts as best we could without her.

That left us with just five days preparation time (whew, I'm not used to that...) I'm also weak on one of the group's pieces. So, I've abandoned my Suzuki lessons for the week and have focused all my time on the recital pieces. For each one, I spend some time playing pizzicato, slowly; then bowing it slowly, and then work it up to tempo. It's gone pretty good, until today...

My sore thumbs and wrists from all that yardwork have made it pretty difficult... Unless I play slowly. Oh well, that's the way to learn it, right?

Er, I think I'm going to log off to go rub in some lineament...

Yard Work, Hot Summer Weather, and a Cello Recital all in one week...and I thought I was a glutton for punishment. I've found putting on kitchen rubber gloves and soaking my hands in hot water help with aches.
I too was going to recommend the hot soak treatment. It's worked for me. So does rest and aspirin.

17th century dances. I'll bet that sounds really pretty with 3 cellos.
Good job on the yardwork, you burly guy you! I like your group name Cellocracy. Cute! Good luck with the performance.
Alaska sounds so beautiful. And a library! What a wonderful place to play. The marriage of music and books! What could be better?
Yes! Full marks!
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