Monday, November 30, 2009

Trying to Catch Up

I really do not understand how the days slip by so quickly. I could have sworn I just did a post a couple of days ago, but it's been more than a week. I've gotta start keeping better track of time.

On that note, here's a catch-up post from our vacation mumblemumble weeks ago. We headed south on Saturday, October 17, and the first stop was in Dry Ridge, Kentucky at The Quilt Box.

It's located at the end of a winding dirt road, and the setting is just gorgeous.

I did what I do best, namely, shopping for fabric:

The shop cat kept me company:

Meanwhile, The Husband relaxed outside, where there's a bench conveniently located for relaxing and enjoying the view.

I took more pictures inside, including one of the three gracious ladies who kindly cut my fabric choices into fat quarters, but you know how my picture-taking skills are. FAIL.

It was a lovely way to start our vacation, and I left with a bag full of lovely quilt fabrics. No, there's no photographic record (I know, I'm sorry!!) but I can assure you it's worth a trip if you love quilting and shopping for fabric. They don't have a website, but here's a link to help you find them. I don't know what the hours are, so you may want to call first to make sure of the time they're open.

In other news, I'm still trying to finish projects, which is slow going, but I'm making a little headway. Next time I'll have some pictures, even if I have to bribe The Husband to take them for me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Frustration Abounds

I've gotten some dyeing done recently, and need to get the pictures taken so I can upload them to Etsy. The Husband helped me find the right settings on the camera so I could do them myself, so today I got up determined to get the pics and update the shop. Epic FAIL.

Now, I think of myself as a pretty patient person. I just finished a 5-inch quilt block that contains 32 pieces, so you can imagine how small and fiddly each little piece was. No problem. I hand quilted and trapuntoed a queen-size quilt for my brother and sister-in-law a few years ago. Loved it. I've knitted lace shawls with super-cobweb weight yarn. What a blast. So in some areas of life, I hold my own against what would drive the normal person completely nuts.

Not so photography. I fussed and fiddled with the camera this morning, called The Husband to ask for help, fussed and fiddled some more, then realized I had better just put the camera down and leave it for him to do this evening. I hate to admit defeat, but as I was getting the strong urge to throw the darn thing as hard as I could, I figured walking away was the option TH would suggest.

So no Etsy pictures today, which really bugs me because the Phat Fiber boxes with my samples in them should be arriving at people's homes, and I don't have (in my opinion) enough stuff listed. Just thinking about my inability to figure out the stupid camera makes my blood boil and my teeth clench. I think I'll go piece some more 5-inch blocks. I'll feel better.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank you, Joshua Bell

Ok, so I know I've been away from the blog for too long. I still haven't shared any pictures or stories about the vacation and the trip to SAFF. They're coming--we finally got what we needed to be able to upload the pictures from the camera, so I'm partly there. I still need to get a few pics from the husband's computer, so I'll futz with that soon and have something about the fun stuff I did.

Today, though, I have pictures from an wonderful, thrilling, glorious, dazzling event I attended Saturday night. Joshua Bell (the virtuoso violinist, in case you don't know) played with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and I had a seat right smack in the center of the floor, about 6 rows from the stage (and the Hilbert Circle Theater has no orchestra pit, so the musicians are right there in front of you!)

That was beyond excellent--I was so close that I could hear JB breathe as he played. That's not as weird as it sounds. A good musician has to regulate his breathing as he plays, and JB plays passionately and athletically. He was dripping sweat when he was done.

And what he played--oh. my. goodness. First the ISO played some music by Hector Berlioz (and the ISO should get a big mention here because they are a tremendous group of musicians.) Then Joshua came on to play Maurice Ravel's Tzigane, which is a pull-out-all-the-stops piece of fiery virtuosity. That alone was worth the price of admission. But that wasn't all. After the Tzigane got everyone's heart pumping, he played Meditation by Jules Massenet, a gorgeous, haunting melody. He took a break while the Symphony played music by Richard Strauss, then after a short intermission came back for the headliner piece: Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor.

That's one of my favorite, if not the favorite of all the violin concertos I've heard. It has everything a big piece of music should have: power, lovely melody, technical fireworks, all in a harmonious and beautiful setting. Even if you're not a classical music fan, you should take the time to listen to it once or twice because it's gorgeous. (If you scroll to the bottom of the page, JB's album of Bruch, Mendelssohn, and Mozart is the first one listed on my widget. It's worth every penny.)

Not only was the music beautiful just because of what it was, JB played it flawlessly. I know that recordings made in a studio are probably "tweaked" a bit to take out wrong notes or other mistakes, but I'm telling you, he made no mistakes. I can't even come up with the words to describe how wonderful the whole experience was. Hearing it while seeing someone pour his entire being into the playing was...well...I have no words. Sigh. Give me a minute...

Ok, so then, after we all stood and whooped (politely--this was a classical music concert after all) and applauded until I thought my arms would fall off, he came out and performed an encore. It was his rendition of "Yankee Doodle" with just about every virtuoso violin technique you can throw in a piece. That really brought the house down.

AND THEN...he signed autographs after the concert. Sigh again.

It was really funny, because when I got out of the car I grabbed my Bruch CD and stuck it in my purse. I had already made up my mind that I was going to be brave and ask anyone and everyone who worked in the theater if there was any chance I could get him to sign my CD after the show. This guy is the reason I started taking violin lessons in the first place--basically he changed my life--so I was going to try everything I could to at least get to say hello. Once inside the theater, I saw that a CD sales table was already set up with a little note that Joshua would be signing CDs after the show. How cool is that?

And guess who didn't think to bring her camera. The husband squeezed off a couple of shots on my cell phone, so all is not lost:

No, they're not the best, but about as good as you can get when you're in a hurry and using a cell phone camera.

I was ecstatic. He was so nice and smiled and said hello to everyone. He didn't rush anyone through the line, and another lady who was watching told us that he spent a lot of time talking to all the young people who came through, encouraging them if they played an instrument and posing for pictures.

So what do you say when you finally get the chance to speak to someone you admire so much? (And, no, it's not just because he's so darn good-looking!) I can't even tell you what I said--I mumbled something, though I think I remembered to thank him for the autograph. I hope so. There wasn't time to say what I really wanted to say.

I didn't want to tell him how great his performance was--I'm sure he knew that already, based on the standing ovation and cheers at the end. And I'm sure nearly everyone who went through the line said that, and it's not like he can't tell when he's played well. There has to be a feeling of contentment for a job (extremely) well done, and I would think that after all these years, Joshua knows in himself when he's performed brilliantly.

What I really wanted to say was the most heartfelt "Thank you." Not for the autograph, because I think I did say thank you for that, or for that evening's performance, but for the whole gift of his talent. That cannot be an easy life, no matter how much passion you have for your art. It's not just the thousands and thousands of hours of practice, the sacrifice of other interests, the money spent in teachers and schooling, the years dedicated to trying, failing, trying again until you get it as perfect as you can and then maintaining that perfection. It's the responsibility that comes with signing contracts for recordings and performances, constant travel, and fulfilling the expectations of an adoring public whether you feel like it or not. Yes, he gets something out of it, or he wouldn't continue doing it. But what he gives is inestimably more--when he's playing for you, his whole life is in that performance. It's as if all those years of dedication and hard work were for you, the listener. How do you thank someone for a gift that great?

I'm not even able to express what I mean in this post, so I never would have been able to say it when I had the chance Saturday. I would have ended up sounding like some creepy stalker fan or something. I don't know--maybe I did seem like a creepy stalker fan. (Naw, a creepy stalker fan would have asked him to sign her butt or something, right? I definitely did NOT do that.)

So for what it's worth--thank you Joshua Bell. My life is happier because of what you do.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Congratulations to Ravelry!

About a minute and a half ago, the 500,000th person joined Ravelry. I was on a thread watching the countdown, bouncing back and forth between the stat page and the thread page. Casey & Jessica have created a wonderful resource (along with their minions!) and I hope they're celebrating right now. Somehow, I suspect they are, and that beer is involved...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back Home Again

I didn't mean to let the blog lapse so long, but coming home was a total shock to all my systems. We got home Sunday evening, to a nice welcome and a great dinner fixed by our housesitters (our daughter, son-in-law, and the Rugrat.) We even got a giant welcome-home cookie!! Too funny.

The vacation was wonderful and so relaxing, but being home again was...well...kind of depressing. I had made all kinds of plans for things I wanted to do once I got home: stripping wallpaper, painting, making curtains, etc. But all that lovely planning went by the wayside once the daily routine started again. I think I was just overwhelmed for most of last week, but I'm feeling a little more in control now. I'm not ready to start painting or anything, especially since I've injured my neck and have to take it easy for a few days--doctor's orders--but I'm able to step back and breathe and not feel like I'm thrashing around under a pile of to-do lists.

What I have been doing is finishing projects! That's the good news. The bad news is that several of them are Stealth Projects, otherwise known as gifts, so I can't post pictures. Not that I could anyway, because I still need The Husband to help me figure out how to upload pictures off the new camera. I hate being a digital doofus, but I'm clearly lacking the part of the brain that can cope with electronic/computer stuff. ANYWAY, I've finished four projects in the last week, which is good because I'm way behind on my 52 Week goals. And one of those projects was a Big Stinkin' Project, so that makes me especially happy to have it done. I've put them in the list at the bottom of the page, and I'll update with descriptions and pictures as soon as I can.