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Since I posted, that is. Last Monday I was visiting Vergennes with Laura; now she lives there! It went pretty smoothly: loaded the truck Friday, unloaded Saturday, helped her begin to get settled on Sunday and then came home. To our delight, the curtains she bought for her New York apartment look like they were destined for their new locations in Vermont. She has lots more windows, but they all have shades; only two urgently needed curtains.

Today I went back to the NY apartment and finished cleaning; she had done her best but of course the carpets were a mess after cleaning. I also practiced today-- not normally something I do on Mondays but I didn't play yesterday. I'll likely run up to Vermont Thursday to help with assorted paperwork and hopefully her cable installation, so best to get ahead a bit.

It seemed very odd to go in and out of the NY apartment without worrying about the cat getting out!

Hoping for a quiet week this week; then things will start to accelerate towards our own move. (Loan has been approved, appraisal is good, everything is 'go' so far.)

revisiting

Aug. 17th, 2015 12:59 pm
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So, I'm in Vergennes for two days. Laura is working a special event at her past and future job, and got permission to slip a truckload of stuff into her new apartment. I spent the morning cruising around some of my favorite spots here, including breakfast on Button Point. Being here causes less of a pang now; time has passed, plus now I know I'll be a frequent visitor.

I'm working my way through things like setting up Laura's internet service, and collecting bank information-- ugh. To think we'll have to go through all this again for ourselves in less than a month!

Amazingly, I was able to get a substitute at short notice for next Sunday, so will be able to actually move Laura without a time crunch next weekend.
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So, my music convention continued well after a rocky start. One clinician was outstanding, several more very good, all worthwhile. Fantastic to get to sing through about 150 church anthems. The experience of recording 6 pieces was amazing and educational. The schedule was relentless, though, and despite skipping a couple of sessions for rest, I arrived home ill, and the next three days were just miserable. In fact I ended up in urgent care Saturday night, after waking up shivering uncontrollably. Tested negative for strep or pneumonia, so they sent me home on max doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen alternating, which knocked the fever right out. I still tired easily but feel much better.

I've never gotten con crud of this kind of severity before. The nurse suggested, for future events, thorough use of antibacterial stuff plus zinc throat spray.

Now I am gently reentering normal life, for certain values of that-- little about my life will be normal for the next six weeks! Laura is in Vermont, doing some fill-in work at her cafeteria and looking at apartments-- may have found a winner yesterday. She'll move as quickly as possible. Then we close on our house around Sept. 10, and plan to move around the 20th-- allowing some slack in case the closing gets moved back, and also to maybe do some quick work on the house first.

A very good omen today-- the current owner and one of our future neighbors reached out to invite us to a block party there this weekend. They made an extra effort to do so personally rather than go through the realtors. (In some circumstances this would be inappropriate, but after all I found out about the house because of the church connection, and my email is on the church website.) Having lived in places where our neighbors weren't at all social or even friendly, this sign of welcome makes me happy.
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Yesterday I left home with 8 hours to make a 4 hour drive, hoping to explore the Heldserbergs and Poconos a bit. Instead I spent three hours in a garage getting the car's thermostat replaced. I did make two brief stops, and look forward to more exploring going home. But in the end, arrived at my hotel much later than planned, with no time for food before Vespers. So I decided to go to Vespers and then skip the rehearsal afterwards to eat. Turns out I would have left anyway, as Vespers just went all wrong for me in my tired state. It was mostly rambly preaching, and I didn't have music for the one participatory song and no one shared with me, and someone sang a song I detest. There was also much welcoming of folks who have been coming to the conference for many years, and not one single word of welcome for first-timers like me. Back to the hotel where the hot tub wasn't hot and the pool was infested with lots of very loud children. I was exhausted and miserable; emailed the conference director about the lack of welcome and went to bed.

This morning opened with a very clear and warm welcome to newcomers-- maybe my email nudged, though I didn't get a response. Then began the fun of singing. I estimate we sang through 75 anthems today, including working on several extensively. There are about 200 of us, all pretty experienced choral singers, so the sound is pretty incredible even though we're sight singing. Some of the clinicians simply guide us through the sight ringing, but two did some extensive teaching. One-- Rollo Dillworth-- was absolutely extraordinary. He not only got 200 white folk singing pretty decent gospel, he also gave us some tools for teaching it to our home groups. That alone was worth coming. I also had some nice friendly encounters and didn't feel so much alone in a crowd.

Tomorrow- five more reading sessions plus some rehearsals, and then two long sessions recording seven anthems, with a true professional recording setup. I look forward to learning how all that goes! Thursday we have two more reading sessions before dismissing at lunchtime; then I'll meander my way home.
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gypsy

Gypsy has taken her last trip to the vet. She was approximately 12 years old.

She was a rescue. She had been found, profoundly ill, in a dumpster. We think she was barely full grown when we adopted her. When my husband first picked her up, she squirmed up to bury her face in his beard; they have been deeply attached ever since.

Two weeks ago she sprained her hip, and reacted very badly to the pain. We sedated her for 3 days, and she seemed to perk up some, but then went into a downward spiral-- probably organs that were stressed when she was small failed under the more recent stress.

More pics

Pics

Jul. 21st, 2015 10:27 pm
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coneflower

Purple coneflowers

One more )

Holy wow!

Jul. 19th, 2015 05:05 pm
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We just made an offer on a house!

No, we haven't been looking, and we didn't plan to do so until next spring. But my church's weekly email included a link to the for-sale home of a past member, and wow... dream house. Easy bike ride to the church; decent commute for the hubby. Utterly charming older house, with (so far) none of the red flags one expects with an older house. It's on a short dead end street, and there's access to a 9 mile long rail trail at the end. Picturing ourselves living there is absolutely easy.

I figure our chances of getting it are slim, but we had to try. Will likely have an answer or counter offer tomorrow.

Pics

Jul. 9th, 2015 09:52 pm
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Doe, a deer...

I saw a doe walking through a field, and waited for the moment to take this pic... do click through to see what happened next.

Four more )
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One major reason for my love of Vermont was that my daily environment was so soothing, centering, relaxing... my home, my commute and my workplace were all incredibly beautiful and peaceful. That did a great deal to sustain me during the last two years when my life was stressful in other days.

I don't have that here. Our apartment isn't bad, but there's no acre of land, and no river out back, nor deck and bird feeders. My new workplace/church is quite uninspired architecturally, and tends towards cluttery. And while there are beautiful spots along my commute, mostly it's urban and definitely not soothing.

Recently at a craft show I encountered Cynthia Schmidt and her "cranky cats." I treated myself to several of her notecards; and though cranky or scared cats are her trademark, I realized when I got home that I had chosen the few contemplative, peaceful images in the collection. My deep reaction to the pretty little cards made me realize how much I miss that peaceful surrounding. So I framed up my two favorites, and created a little meditation spot on my dresser. There's also a rose fashioned out of thin metal, my "Buddha board" and a teacup of water. (The board is fun-- you paint on it with water, and the painting fades away within a few minutes. I sketch or scribble something every morning while I'm getting dressed.)

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Pics

Jul. 1st, 2015 08:51 pm
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A lovely young deer on a recent walk.

Three more )

Stuff

Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:07 pm
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It's been a while.. what's been going on?

Last week the kidlet was offered her old job back, in Vermont. It was a tough choice, she spent days on it-- and decided to stay here in Albany. Main reason, in the end, was that she doesn't want to be a cook all her life, and the Vermont job is so comfortable that it would be hard to break away. Here she's got a less comfortable cook position, but forward momentum in a couple other areas of her life.

My arm is still healing, but there's still a little crater that hasn't closed. I see the doctor again tomorrow; he has mentioned the possibility of restitching it. It is small enough now to cover with a large adhesive bandage, which is a relief after a month of wearing a gauze pad held in place by a stretchy mesh tube (which my piano student calls my elbow sock). Saturday there was a large funeral at church, and during the reception afterwards probably a dozen people chummily linked arms with me as we talked! So the elbow sock is coming back for big church events for a while!

After months of planning and negotiating the church has a new sound system. It's been a very challenging process for me. Attempts to upgrade the system had been dragging on for years before I came, and there was a grim determination to get the job done this time-- and I felt deeply uncomfortable with the sound designer they were working with. Professionally, he's very invested in contemporary praise band style worship, and I felt he was pushing us towards the kind of system needed for that; and personally, he was very LOUD and longwinded, so that it was hard for me to even be in the room with him. I gave in to the inevitable, and just pressed to get everything I could possibly use added to the system.

Surprisingly, once he got the contract Sound Guy became a bit quieter and much less long-winded, and we began to have some decent conversations during the installation. And as he put the finishing touches on, he gave me a couple of real gifts. We decided to mike the piano, so that we can very lightly boost it in the front of the church; it sits in the back, in a really awful position, right in front of the organ pipe box (as the worst aspect of an otherwise improved arrangement back there). That boost vastly improves a not-wonderful instrument. And because of its location in front of the pipes-- we are actually doing some subtle magic on the organ, creating a hint of reverb where there is virtually none, and also boosting the rather wimpy bass (only one 16' stop).

Next challenge-- selecting a new electronic keyboard/digital piano for the church, and persuading my committee to actually go through with buying it. There's designated memorial money that's been sitting idle for FAR too long, and the keyboard will be truly useful.

Reading

Jun. 17th, 2015 10:54 am
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I've long eyed novels by Beverly Lewis at the library with a mixture of curiosity and revulsion. They are romances set in Amish society, often at the intersection of Amish and "Englischer" (non-Amish) folk. I rather assumed prettified versions of the Amish life. I finally picked one up last week, and then another (free) on Kindle.

It's worse than I thought. Lewis uses the setting to preach evangelical theology. In the first book I read she never explicitly condemns Amish theology, but does so implicitly through the way the plot plays out. The second book I chose actually depicts a schism among the Amish, with a large group of Amish discovering the wonders of independent Bible study and all coming to be 'saved by the blood of Jesus'-- and ultimately separating from their Amish congregation. The condemnation of Amish beliefs is more open here, with a second layer of implicit criticism that adds up to a pile of nastiness-- all still in that pretty setting of homey sweet-smelling kitchens and plain dress. I feel icky.

In happier reading, I picked up two nonfiction books this week, in two of my abiding areas of interest-- theology and food. (My third major interest is nature studies, of course.) It turns out that they have a common thread: the use of words, and influence of language on thinking. One is wearing God by Lauren F. Winner, and it explores metaphors for God-- asserting, among other things, that most churches not only cling to masculine language about God, but to a very small assortment of images of God out of the many that can be found in scripture. The other book is The Language of Food by Dan Jurafsky. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but so far it's a very fun look at both names of foods and descriptions of food/dishes. For example, he points out that use of French words in high-end restaurant menus has been largely replaced with descriptions of the origin of the ingredients. I am looking forward to further reading in both books!

Pics

Jun. 16th, 2015 04:26 pm
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Pics from the last few days. Here's an amazingly happy-looking muskrat having a snack!

Four more )

Vermont

Jun. 10th, 2015 11:09 pm
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So, I've been to Vermont and back again. I had offered to play for funerals, schedule permitting, since I left, but there's a short list of folks whose services I particularly want to play; one of those passed on last week.

I made arrangements to stay with friends Tuesday night so that I could practice this morning. That meant I had time on the way up to drive around my old area for a couple of hours. I drove past the house, of course, but also visited a lot of my favorite nature spots. It was wonderful to walk at the places I love again, but very painful too. I love Vermont more than anyplace I've ever lived. Though I am enjoying exploring my new area, and am finding beautiful places, it's just not the same; way too many people here, especially.

I stayed with my beloved Plourdes, and had lots of time with the children. Lillian has gotten over being shy with me, and interacted with me quite a lot. The older girls had prepared my guest room, so I had Disney princess sheets, a Winnie the Pooh blanket, and the prettiest nightlight I've ever had.

The funeral was particularly intense for me because more than ever before, I was playing for the family. I am far closer to the widow and (grown) children than I was to the deceased; and they are music lovers, so I knew they were taking advantage of the speakers in their waiting area to listen even to my prelude. I was able to time things so that I played one special request as they were waiting to enter. And the soloist lost herself in the moment; it was amazingly moving.

Playing was really extraordinary for me in other ways, too. The wonderful instrument, marvelous acoustic, really amazing hymn singing... I lost myself for much of the service too. And... more than half of those in attendance were from outside the church, and had never heard me before... and I sensed that they were listening, far more than is usual. There was chatter, which I totally understand at such a gathering; but it was very quiet, and died away entirely as I reached the final moments of each piece, and while I started the next. I have a sense that my music was actually noticed, not just background... it's a nice feeling. And someone hummed along audibly when I played a setting of "Shall We Gather at the River."

Then afterwards, much time with old friends, and many hugs, and then the lovely drive home. Very tired now, very glad I went.
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1) Took my bike out for a short spin on Saturday, with my elbow well wrapped. Discouraged at how much condition I've lost in 3 weeks, but it was nice to ride again.

2) Did a full-to-overflowing worship service on Sunday. (I played the Sunday after the accident, and was in urgent care hours later; the next Sunday was a planned absence.) I had my usual full complement of hymns and organ music. But in addition it was "flash choir" day. I had invited anyone who likes to sing but can't commit to choir to join us an hour before worship, where choir and visitors alike would learn an anthem on the spot. I had all but two of my regular choir, and five visitors, and the anthem went beautifully, so I'm calling it a success! I also had several other people tell me they would have liked to make it but overslept, couldn't get kids moving, etc.

3) Went to the 3-church combined youth group meeting in the evening to work on music for an outdoor service next week. The kids have not been involved in planning, so are understandably unenthusiastic, but to my relief they are fairly good-natured about it.

4) Practiced today for a funeral in Vermont on Wednesday. I left a standing offer to come back for funerals as needed; but I also have a short list of folk for whom I'll proactively offer, and one of those died last week. It will be an honor to do his service, and a pleasure to see my friends, but I wish I felt better prepared and more recovered!
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So, when last we wrote, I had been to urgent care with a high fever, gotten my elbow unstitched, gotten new antibiotics, and the fever was dropping again.

This leaves me with quite an unsightly mess on my elbow. I lost some skin in the accident, the surgeon had gently pulled edges together to stitch. Removing the stitches early, to clean out suspected infection, let some of the edges pull apart. So we are in a wait-and-see state right now, hoping that the arm will manage to heal across the gap. Otherwise I'll probably be having a small skin graft.

The next news was that the sample from the wound was completely negative-- no MRSA but nothing else either. Which means the source of the fever was internal and is still unknown, and I was still supposed to finish 2 weeks of broad-spectrum antibiotic because of the still open possibility of MRSA.

I continued to muddle along... arm hurts quite a lot, plus I thought I was slow recovering from the fever (which was quite scary high). Then Sunday I felt quite ill. Monday I woke up feeling really good-- and 90 minutes after taking the antibiotic I was miserable. Really nasty headache, stiff neck, fatigue, and depressed to the point of tears over feeling so awful. Called the doctor, and that qualifies for "stop taking it right away."

Looked forward to waking up finally feeling better today but no... the effects of 3 weeks of antibiotics finally caught up with my digestive system, despite faithful use of probiotics. Yet another miserable day, but I am hoping I've turned the corner now, after 12 hours.

I'd really like to get a pass on at least one side effect or complication, please! Maybe send lots of good thoughts for NOT needing a graft?

Pics

May. 29th, 2015 09:21 pm
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Native wild iris- purple flag. Yellow, which is non-native and invasive, is far more common, so this was a cheering sight.

Five more )

choir

May. 25th, 2015 09:42 pm
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My little choir at Delmar Prez is just 10 regulars, but they can do amazing things. We keep a calendar where folk can mark anticipated absences so I can plan music accordingly. Even so, when I realized that Pentecost fell on the holiday weekend, I made a point of specifically asking; 9 out of 10 said they could and would sing. I loaded up with more music than we normally do, to make rehearsal worthwhile, as this is the last time they'll sing.

When I got injured, early on Wednesday I sent email around asking folk to be as prompt as possible to rehearsal... and heard crickets for more than 24 hours. Then three people cancelled for practice. I had four women for rehearsal, and learned of one more cancellation for Sunday.

By Sunday I wasn't feeling well, and arrived at church very discouraged, expecting only the four women and one man. My husband doesn't sing parts well, but I told him I was desperate for support on the two passages that were supposed to be men only so he agreed to sit in. I told Pastor Karen how discouraged I was when I arrived, then went on about preparing... and the next time I turned around, Irene who thinks she is a natural baritone (probably isn't, but for Sunday it was fine) was sitting with the two men; Karen had recruited her. Then one of the cancellations showed up after all, and at the end of warmup another walked in, and they sang their hearts out, and even got applause once.

I also was helped out by a talented teenager who played a prelude on violin and postlude on piano with only a few days' notice. So in the end I felt well supported, despite some bad moments.
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So, recovery seemed to be going well until Friday. I felt very washed out on Friday and registered a very slight fever in the evening. Saturday my temp still ranged around in the 99 point whatever range. I phoned the plastic surgeon and didn't even get an answering machine; phoned my GP's office but never got a call back from the on-call doctor.

Sunday morning, more of the same-- and I discovered much later that I never took my morning meds, which may have contributed to the downward slide later. I played for worship, which will get its own post. When I got home my temp was over 100, and after a nap it hit 102 so we headed for Urgent Care. It was a comfortable place and not at all busy, so about as comfortable as such a visit can be. The doctor took the stitches out, took a sample for culturing and redressed the wound. He also changed my antibiotics. I did have a wait before the nurse came to discharge me, and felt increasingly miserable. When the nurse came in, he took one look and said he wanted another set of vitals. He took my temp over and over, and checked my chart, so of course I asked... 104.6. He left, and got authorization to give me a megadose of ibuprofen and my first antibiotic on the spot (and was muttering a bit about the doctor).

My temp dropped steadily the rest of the day; I felt truly dreadfully ill for several more hours, and then began to revive a bit. Today I'm mostly back to where I was on Saturday-- fever between 99 and 100, not doing much but sitting or sleeping. Tomorrow morning I see the plastic surgeon again, and might get results of the culture and a more targeted antibiotic. I am a bit nervous because the Urgent Care doc mentioned the dreaded words 'antibiotic resistant' as a possibility.

A friend and I have been remarking on how incidents like this shed light on the way illness and injury are portrayed in 19th century literature. If I am this miserable now, where would I be without those antibiotics and ibuprofen? Also the feeding of invalids. Yesterday I ate almost nothing; and even now, anything too rich, or a normal serving of anything, causes misery.
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Carol Scott:
well, what you really need to know is that i felt worse this morning, and really worse after church, and we are in the process of deciding about urgent care, maybe after i nibble somehing
MaryAnn:
Oh, Christ.
What kind of bad?
Carol Scott:
fever is up a bit too high, very sleepy, occasional mild chills
MaryAnn:
Oh, man.
Thank God for antibiotics.
Carol Scott:
*nod*
MaryAnn:
I'm not sure whether I'm glad that you made it through service.

Carol Scott:
heading out... fever 102, mild chills, slightly elevated blood sugar
MaryAnn:
I am holding my thumbs for your speedy recovery and general comfort.
Carol Scott:
hope, have already had starter drugs
MaryAnn:
*still clutching*
Carol Scott:
so i arrived at church feeling discouraged after yet another cancellaion, leaving me with one man
bless Karen, she went and recuirted Irene who at least thinks she is a natural baritone... and I recuited David who doesn’t do parts well but can do melody, and one of the cancllations showed up
and a soprano who was a maybe came, so i had a pretty good group
i think the morning was a bit purgatorial for Irene who wants to do things RIGHT but i am grateful for her willingness
MaryAnn:
Oh, thank goodness. I had been wondering about pick-up possibilities, but expected you were, too.
Carol Scott:
we got applause for the offertory :)
MaryAnn:
Hurrah!
Carol Scott:
may i cut and paste that later/
MaryAnn:
Please!
Are you able to stay sitting up?
Youo sound wan.
Carol Scott:
i am a limp dishrag... i’m reclining, with a cold pack on my horhead
MaryAnn:
Oh, good!
Carol Scott:
i really can’t remember feeling this bad for a long time
MaryAnn:
*nod* Road rash is really terrible stuff, and can kill you.
Carol Scott:
it’s not the road rash, it’s the laceration
MaryAnn:
I include that as part of it, though I suppose it doesn't technically count. The whole thing is a very large serious injury(ies).
Carol Scott:
yup, but the road rash is nearly healed now
MaryAnn:
Already! Wow, excellent!!!!
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