From Instagram June 3, 2019

I wrote this two years ago:

Carla loves gardening and working on her yard. If you’ve seen her yard you know the love and great care she puts in the beauty she creates. I’m no gardener, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve been out in our yard, pulling weeds, planting flowers, meditating, crying: devoting that time to her. Yesterday morning I was pulling weeds, Z was running around in the yard, while Reilly was working on the obituary. It occurred to me that not only is this yard work–this beautifying a space–a good way to remember Carla, it’s a quiet way to feel a certain communion WITH her. It is sacred.

For the past couple of days we’ve been working hard trying to rebeautify our yard. I really love remembering Carla this way. It crossed my mind today while pulling weeds when we first found out she was sick, I wanted to ask her about all her gardening secrets. Which I didn’t do. And I didn’t think it was appropriate as her time here shortened.

I took some video footage of some of the greenery in our yard and put it to music. A modest tribute.

The Passing Evening

It’s 11:33 PM. I totally let the day get away from me.

I do not know what to make of the range of feelings about my baby heading to 2nd grade next school year. First grade was such a blur. Like, Kindergarten blurred into the summer, which blurred into 1st grade. And now another summer is already upon us. We like summer, but time is sure being funky with the pandemic and isolation and then people returning to society. It’s weird.

This evening I multitasked between watching Game 2 of the Jazz-Grizzlies series and piecing together a recording. Whenever I exported a revised version of the video from the editing software to the hard drive, I would peek out of the office into the tv room and check the score of the game. As I was editing, I could overhear Reilly and my brother talk about different players and the bad calls the officials were making. I mean, the Jazz won, which is what we want.

And I finished the video. Could have used a bit more cleaning up, but didn’t feel like it this time. Wanted to revisit my mid-teens again. Enjoy, and good night:

Better

One the way back from dropping Z off at school, this song came on the radio:

Ah, 1990s. The song makes me feel good.

I woke up feeling better. Headache gone, but left nostril plugged.

Last night I did take a luxurious bath. We live in a desert, and I try to save water when I can, but sometimes I need a bath. Turned the water on as hot as I could stand, added some bubbles with epsom salt and lavender, let the water fill the tub to halfway, and I lay back and relaxed.

Maybe it was also the ’90s when I first heard about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. So much conflict and turmoil between those two countries. Populations. Cultures. It seemed so distant when the news reported about this when I was a teenager. For some reason now, my heart more strongly senses their suffering and yearns for their peace. The internet has a lot of resources for providing aid and support. Gotta be a better global citizen.

I recorded this today. Just wanted to include it.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

I Don’t Know What to Write About Today

Stumped. A zillion topics, and I can’t get my brain off the ground.

I’ve had a headache all day. I’ve drunk a lot of water, and I’ve made sure to take my allergy medicine. The headache has accompanied sneezing and some achiness. But I attribute that discomfort from playing the clarinet longer than usual.

The pollen count has been so high.

I very seldom get headaches. Most of the time I’m smooth sailing. I work straight through my day. Lots of water, enough food. Maybe rest? Is my rest lacking? Would that make a difference?

Maybe some stretching, too. Increase circulation.

Could have squeezed in a nap today. Perhaps I was also excited for a new clarinet barrel getting delivered today. Barrels are such interesting accessories, in that different ones affect tone in different ways. I put the new barrel on my Bb, and the cork is a little loose, so I wrapped some teflon tape around it to form a better seal. Which makes a big difference.

But yes: an early bedtime would be nice tonight.

So I won’t have to write about a headache and how my day has centered around it.

I mean, NOW I have ideas, but I’ll save them for later.

You know, when I don’t have a headache.

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.

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.

Making the Metal Clarinet Playable Again

Bought an old metal clarinet a few weeks ago. 1930s-’40s. When I received it, it was semi-playable. Notes above a certain point would only squeak. After the trial/error process of pressing on certain pads and blowing into the mouthpiece, I discovered that air leaks in the left-hand region of the instrument kept those higher notes from playing. The pads are in decent shape, but I removed what I thought were the problem keys and inspected the springs. Increased their tension. Better, but could be better still. Applied key oil to the joints so the springs wouldn’t have to work so hard. Even better! Then I ordered a cork replacement kit. Replaced my first ever cork today in my burgeoning hobbyist’s career. Now with the clarinet having proper seals, its performance: *chef’s kiss*

A few lessons emerge from this experience. Find the leaks. Address them. Make the seals tight. Take your time, get it right. The overall playability improves significantly. I mean, it’s still a second/third tier metal clarinet from the World War II era, but it’s been fun working on. And it’s fun to play.

I said a few lessons can come from this. I’m sure the analogies will become clearer at a time that isn’t now. I’m tired today.

I’ll still take my wood clarinets to the shop for tune-ups and repairs.

Practicing Stravinsky Piece 1 in A

Clarinets have become somewhat of an obsession of mine during the pandemic. Last week I found a nice intermediate model of an A clarinet. According to wikipedia:

In modern times, the most common clarinet is the B♭ clarinet. However, the clarinet in A, pitched a semitone lower, is regularly used in orchestral, chamber and solo music. An orchestral clarinetist must own both a clarinet in A and B♭ since the repertoire is divided fairly evenly between the two.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarinet

I’ve noodled around a bit on the A, breaking it in slowly. The tone is really nice. In this photo, the A clarinet is on the left and the B♭ is on the right. You’ll see the A is a little bit bigger–longer body, wider bell. Because the brand is different, the pinky keys are situated a little differently, but the response is just as quick as the B♭.

Practicing Piece 1 of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces has been way fun. Since I’ve been practicing on the B♭ up to now, I’ve gotten used to hearing this work pitched in a particular way. As I’ve been practicing on the A, hearing the music a half-tone lower was a bit weird at first, but i’m getting used to it. I’ll post two different practice sessions here: First the B♭, and then the A. And as I mentioned on Instagram regarding these sessions: Similar tempos. Some different approaches/attacks of notes. Different areas needing smoother transitions between notes. And more dynamics. Still quite a bit of work to do.

Practice is good.

Throwing Back to 2009

Once there was a band called Mechanical Violet. They were a group of four ladies who loved the hell out of life. They covered a single song, “Postcards from Italy,” by Beirut. Becky had vocals and tamborine; Eleece had trumpet; Alicia had ukulele; I had clarinet. We had fun putting it together. A really fun memory from a much-cherished time.

The other day on Instagram I posted part of Mozart’s “Waltz Fantasy,” a piece I played on the clarinet in 9th grade, when I felt most in my prime. A friend from the Mechanical Violet days more or less commented on that post about hearing some Beirut for my next video.

So I got to work.

Found some sheet music for ukulele, flute, oboe, piano, and percussion. I also had to look up ukulele fingerings to convert from the tabs on the sheet music. (I also played lines from two strings instead of all four, because clarinets can only play a single line and not chords, and because this was already turning out to be a lot of work.) I kept everything in the key of C, since only I would be playing with…me. Me and my shadows.

Recorded the parts, put them together. Not perfect editing-wise, but definitely recognizable. As I rewatched this a small sob got caught in my throat. Damn you, nostalgia. Miss you, Mechanical Violet.