Power Outage

The power went out in my neighborhood today. It might have lasted two hours. We spent the time reading and playing outside.

We also went out for tacos.

I mean, it was 75 degrees and breezy. I’ve experienced worse conditions during a blackout.

The NYC blackout of 2003, for example.

But even then, that seemed like a huge party.

That was a weird blog post from so long ago.

Oh! My blog had a birthday this week! 18 years old! My blog can vote and will likely attend a two-year school before transferring to a university.

Congratulations, blog. I wish you the greatest success.

Two Cool, Regular Things

  1. Earlier this week I put our Pride flag up after seeing a neighbor had theirs up. This morning the neighbor across the street from us put up their Pride flag. This is really nice because we live in a conservative county, and I appreciate people in our community having common opinions and principles as us. Happy Pride, everyone!
  2. We are starting a Summer Outdoor Movie Series. Reilly came up with a list of solid B or better movies (OR possible guilty pleasures) that all happen to come from the same eight-year period from the early 1980s to 1990. This is a nice chance to chat with friends and not have to think too hard during a movie.

Showtime starts at 9pm. We had a microburst earlier this afternoon. Let’s hope the rain plans around us.

Damn, This Album: Outside Child, by Allison Russell

A lot of critical acclaim erupted for this album, which does one of two things for me: makes me wait until the hype dies down, or makes me super excited and listen to it immediately.

I ended up waiting a couple of weeks and listened to it yesterday, back to back. I wanted to listen to it sooner, but I wanted to make sure I had enough time to give it my full attention. And since it’s so fresh on my mind, I didn’t do what I usually like to do when actively listening to an album, which is take notes and jot thoughts that cross my mind as I experience the music.

I will do this, I promise. But for now I’ll post the album here for you listen for yourselves. It seriously blew my mind. I hope you appreciate it as much, or more.

Damn, This Album: Blue Heron Suite, by Sarah Jarosz

A friend recommended this album a couple weeks ago and added her own warning of its emotional impact. This morning I finally played it. The songs carved out my flesh and left my soul bare.

This album is a song cycle Jarosz created to contemplate her mom’s cancer diagnosis coinciding with the destruction of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. (See story here.) Jarosz explores place and nostalgia in a Gulf Coast town her family frequented during her childhood. She employs symbol in a blue heron fleeting the coast.

These songs are well-produced, yet its rawness rekindles (revisits? revives?) some of my own grief. It’s not the same initial process of mourning, though: every opportunity to remember death of loved ones lets me see how my grief has evolved over time.

I may try providing commentary of individual songs later. Sarah Jarosz is indisputably talented, both as an instrumentalist and songwriter. She can tap into the heart of our most cherished experiences, our precious memories, our suppressed and neglected heartbreaking moments.

This one’s going into the rotation.

Mother’s Day 2021, Continued: In Photos

  1. Time on the treadmill
  2. Stretching
  3. New hat Reilly got me when he went to last night’s Jazz game (they won)
  4. Posing with a clarinet
  5. Shirt that my brother got me, filter 1
  6. Shirt that my brother got me, filter 2
  7. Shirt that my brother got me, filter 3
  8. Sweetest DM from a friend

Thanks for all the love, everyone.

Weighing Heavily

Racism, hate, violence. There seems to be no end.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Yesterday I attended a Zoom meeting:

These panelists discussed the conditions of their respective Chinatowns. They shared ideas about how to revive them. They exchanged stories of very recent incidents–stabbings–of Asian hate. Please frequent your AAPI businesses. Let them know you support them. Understand that their sacrifices and hard work are integral to the fabric of our country. Please.

COVID Crisis in India

In last night’s sleepless doom scrolling, I came across this Twitter thread:

What struck me was that this thread came out over a year ago. But it felt like it could have come out last week. We take so much for granted.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

May 5 also happens to be the National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. This was something that I’ve been aware of but haven’t been keeping foremost in my mind. And it should share space with all the other serious matters in our world. Absolutely heartrending.

Back 2012 I read The Round House, by Louise Erdrich. A harrowing tale, addressing issues of violence and hate within and projected onto indigenous communities. If you haven’t read her work, doing so would be a good start.

Selfies with My Hats

I like hats. There’s not much more to be said. It’s fun how different each hat makes me look. With my hair at a weird in-between/awkward length, I’ve been depending on hats a lot lately.

The slide shows below are categorized. I dug around the house looking for some of these. This should be all of them. If others pop up, I probably won’t post them. Or maybe when my hair is long again I’ll post more.

If you like hats or are deciding whether to like hats, maybe this post will be helpful. Maybe not. Whatever works for you.

Flat caps

Running/Active caps with bills

Winter hats

Wide-brimmed hats

Fedoras

Clarinet Update

I’m in the middle of breaking in some new reeds. And I’ve just been working on a staccato exercise quartet. I’ve recorded it before, but I didn’t push the tempo. This time I’ve been practicing this cute little 3/8 piece with three eighth notes = 144 beats/minute. It feels good to play it at that speed. We’ll see if it sounds good.

Here is the next repair project, which arrived this afternoon:

The tarnish on this clarinet looks really cool, so I probably won’t polish it. The instrument doesn’t play, though. After an initial tinkering around, it looks like a total take-apart job. Replacing pads and springs. The whole thing is leaky.

This evening I also watched this discussion between Peter Cigleris and Michelle Anderson, clarinetists who play on Backun clarinets.

Cigleris uncovered a bunch of unperformed early British clarinet music and recorded an album:

It sounds really lovely. And during this discussion Cigleri pointed out a lot of the composers were women, which is really cool.

May Day, Social Media Roundup

My name is May.

May is my favorite month.

I was born in May.

Today is May 1.

I tend to be in a great mood all month long.

And sort of obnoxious.

On Twitter I tweeted:

Did I do it right? Maybe I should be showing more skin? I mean, the shirt is supposed to highlight the irony of the thirst trap this isn’t. But I don’t know if people got that. I barely have over 100 followers, and I lie low not using a ton of hashtags or mentions. So I wonder if the four people who are active saw this post and got it. Probably, they’re pretty smart.

On Twitter and Instagram I also posted these:

Right? More irony, maybe? Because I’m not really trying?

But the following May Day photo was fun, because I got it on the first take. Maybe because I’ve taken jumping selfies before, and I know just when to jump before the snap. Also the angle makes a huge difference. Setting the phone on the ground at a slight angle up seems best for showing the biggest air.

Here’s one of me under the apple tree, with the neighbor’s farm and the mountains in the background. I think we may never move, because the view stuns me every time:

And, finally, to close out May Day, here’s my fair-skinned husband weeding our flower beds. He’s such a great guy, and I’m lucky to celebrate May Day with him. One of dogs keeps watch. The blooms on that tree are ridiculous. Wow.

Happy month of May, everyone!

80s Basement Lecture Series

In November 2016 we bought a house. We moved in the next month. The idea of having the space to host events or parties crossed my mind. Our basement looked like hasn’t been updated since the 1980s, and this is where we set up the TV for movies and games. In February 2017 we started a quarterly lecture series, and we would hold each lecture in our 80s basement living room. We’d invite people over, we’d eat treats, and speakers would be our friends.

2017

18 February – Satire, by Reilly Ryan

Reilly started of our series with a fun discussion about satire. He provided a few written and video examples; he talked about his thesis, which discussed whether a show like Family Guy (compared to the Simpsons) was satire. (I actually blogged about this lecture here.)

20 May – Poison Control Center, by Amber Johnson

Amber is Reilly’s older sister. She talked about the Utah Poison Control Center, where she works. She provided pointers on keeping our homes safe and what to do in the event of a poisoning. Since this lecture she has been promoted to Director of the UPCC, which now also doubles at the Utah Coronavirus Hotline.

19 August – Horror, by Jonathan Smith

Jon knows a lot about horror movies. He spoke to us about horror films and the commentary they provide about family. We watched a few excerpts from classic scary movies and analyzed them.

11 November – Introduction to Fan Studies, by Melissa Beattie (Skype)

Melissa, a professor, talked to us about the ins and outs of being a fan. We talked about fanfic. She mentioned a lot of pop references and talked about fan events and culture such as Comic Con, as well as the history and basics of fan theory.

2018

17 February – Bali and Gamelan, by Gavin Ryan

Gavin is one of Reilly’s brothers. He presented a lecture about Bali music and culture, and he brought some Gamelan instruments for a performance.

26 May – Immunohistochemistry and Libraries, by May Ryan

I talked about the app that I maintain for work. I also talked about the importance of libraries.

25 August – Semiotics and Tarot, by Bridgette Tuckfield (Skype)

We learned about tarot cards! The history and meanings behind signs. A very cool discussion.

10 November – Nigerian Literature, by Kylie McQuarrie

Kylie presented the work of several African authors, and how important they are in context of war and oppression.

2019

23 February – COLD Podcast, by Dave Cawley

Our biggest crowd. Dave had released his true crime podcast just a couple of months before. We were lucky to have booked him before all the other speaking engagements came along. For us, he told the Susan Powell story and gave background on all the footage and other artifacts that enrich this story.

4 May – Fur Foxen concert and Q&A

My hairstylist happens to play cello and sing in a band. We invited them to give a really nice, chill concert and answer some questions about their process.

24 August – Highway Typefaces, by Marjorie Smith

Very fun lecture about the history of highway typefaces, which includes some surprising drama. Everyone probably now notices the details of freeway signs now.

23 November – Visual Effects, by Ryan Sonderegger

Ryan talked about some of the technical aspects of his work. We discussed some of his more well-known projects. Very fascinating.

2020

22 February – Cheese, by Joseph Peterson

We sampled so many cheeses! Some were awesome; some required an acquired taste. We paired cheeses with crackers and breads and fruits. It’s always fun to discuss food.

We didn’t miss a quarter for three years. All of these lectures were amazing. We learned about so many really interesting things. We gained a deeper understanding of social issues and other cultures. This was also a chance/excuse to get like-minded friends to gather in a safe space, a tiny blue dot in the middle of our obnoxiously red county. We aired our grievances and frustrations with the political climate. (We closed on our house just before the 2016 election.) We loved being able to hang out with such wonderful people.

Lectures went right up to the cusp of pre-pandemic and pandemic times. We haven’t even held a lecture since then. Not even online, though I’ve toyed with the idea. But we’ve all been dealing with isolation and anxiety and everything else that came with the pandemic. We’ve been depressed and cabin-fevered; wanting to break out into society and wanting to keep the blankets over our heads at the same time. These have been difficult times. But with vaccines becoming more accessible and as more people get vaccinated, we’ll be able to gather safely soon. Hopefully.

I miss those guys.