Saturday, April 19, 2008


Spring... not yet

Spring (or what we call breakup) is really late this year. After a cooler than normal winter, with somewhat more snow, I guess it's no surprise that there's still a lot of the winter snowpack still on the ground. There's also a lot of ice on the lake; in fact, last weekend I saw a pickup truck driving out on it (a risky venture this late in the season, IMHO). Today, though, we had a lot of sun with temperatures in the upper 40s, and we're hoping breakup will be finished in another week.

With the high oil prices, Alaska is awash in royalties and getting ready to spend a good part of that windfall on capital projects. I sure was surprised to open the paper the other day to find that the legislature had allocated money in this year's capital budget to pave our humble road!

We were one of the first half a dozen families to re-settle this area in the mid-70s. We'd escaped as far as we could from town while still being able to commute every day to my job. In those early days I was the only car on the highway at 6 a.m. on that long 35 mile drive to work, often making the first tracks through the overnight snows. Although the area was first "opened up" by homesteaders in the 50s, few remained by the time we showed up. At the time, our gravel road was barely two lanes wide, but with so little traffic, it was in good shape. Over the years, we've watched more and more houses and subdivisions spring up around here as the state's population increased and people realized the 20+ mile trip to town was more than worth the benefits of living out in the bush. But that growth has taken its toll on our once-isolated country road. I'd sure be glad to see the last of the dust clouds, the ever-present potholes and the worn-out suspensions; and waiting weeks for the grader to finally smooth it all out just as it begins to rain and turns to muck.

I'm trying to imagine having a place right here to rollerblade and ride my bike! After all these years! Still, I'm not ready to believe it will actually happen. The governor has yet to sign off on the capital project list - she was quite scrupulous last year about trimming out all the fat. Even if our road project survives her veto pen, we'd still have to get DOT to actually do the work. As the primary agency responsible for most capital construction in the state, they've become bloated, arrogant, and generally non-responsive - usually taking many years to get even the most simple projects done. If only one of their supervisors lived down our road and had to drive it in and out every day... that would do the trick.

Still, wouldn't it be nice...

I've spent the last several days using Finale PrintMusic to consolidate the three parts of each of our trio's current pieces. The OCD part of me really likes this kind of detailed work - carefully checking to ensure every note is correct, that all the dynamics and markings are accurate, and that the finished product is a faithful reproduction of the original scores. At the same time, I've continued to record and convert my LPs - I've done about 100 so far.

Tomorrow the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra will play a wide selection of pieces in its spring concert. As I get to know more and more of the people involved with the KPO, each of their performances becomes more interesting to me. I'm still hoping to become part of their music one of these years.

I've mentioned several times here about how much I enjoy starting out on a new piece in my lessons. I just started working on the last piece in Suzuki 3, Allegro Moderato. Although my learning process evolves with each new piece, the basic steps still include working on small phrases one group at a time, patterning the shifts, and repetition, repetition, repetition. It's so neat to hear the music coming together, and that feeling of accomplishment...

I enjoyed your story about settling in the wilderness. It sounds exciting, but it is really not for me--it is supposed to be 80 degrees here tomorrow, and I think I prefer that. :-)

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