Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pete's Candy Store Spelling Bee

Our friend Wilson is a wonderful pianist. We frequently coach with him here in the city. Not as obvious, perhaps, is that he is *literally* the best adult speller in New York. He won the title last year, and is primed to win it again this year.

Every other Monday night, there is an adult spelling bee at Pete's Candy Store in our hood. We've now attended a total of three times, and Wilson has won every single time. They've started giving his prizes to other people. In this article in Vanity Fair they call him "a mysterious fellow who was dressed in a grey sweater with a swiss army-like cross across the chest." This makes me laugh, because if I were to describe him I would say something like "a beastly speller with a quiet charm." Who CARES about his sweater?? :)

It's a fun night all around. We arrived too late to sign up to participate in the bee this time. I've gotten to round two before, but never the final round-- I'm just not that kind of speller. I do enjoy the cookies and juice boxes that you get as a prize when you are eliminated. Drake has not dared enter. This is for the best.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kavi's Baby Surprise Jacket

Remember this? Well it's finished!!

I blocked it and sewed on the buttons last night instead of going to the circus. We had plans to go to Ringling Bros at Madison Square Garden, but I made migas and black beans instead. Then I finished this :) So happy. This is the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket pattern, and it really is a big surprise. The whole time that I was knitting this I had no idea how it would ever turn into a jacket. I was confounded.

It is just blind trust with this one.

It was 100% worth it and I hope to make very many of these. The only seam in this sweater is along the top of the sweater sleeves along the back. In the future, I will sew both seams from the neck-hole out, as I found that otherwise, it causes the sleeves to encroach on the neck space.

Perhaps now it is finally time for my first man sweater...

Friday, March 27, 2009

The elephant in the room

Originally uploaded by bucklesw1
So, perhaps you already know this, but my husband has just accepted a professorship at Oakland University in Michigan and we're both really thrilled. Haven't said anything about it here, as it presents, in full light, the crisis which I've swept under the rug for too long now.

I must rename the blog.

If you've been here a while, you may remember from this post that I've moved quite a bit. This move to Michigan *may* just signal a pause in our vagabond life! That said, I can think of no clever names that surround Michigan, nor would they make sense at this point since as of yet I know little about my new environs.


Blog name aside, I'm looking forward to the move. I love New York very much, but it can be difficult sometimes. I feel like I'm always working (namely because I am) between the day job, teaching, singing, auditioning, photography... I had one full day off in February. That was really nice...

Michigan means that I can freelance more, and invest time in my career-- I can fly to NYC and take lessons (which are going really well right now! I am encouraged!) and auditions and such. We are a 10.5 hour drive from New York, so I can be here easily with 24 hours notice. I will do a lot more photography. and knitting. and cooking. I cannot wait!

I think we should get a puppy. Drake says that we should wait because if we get a puppy we'll never make new friends because we'll never want to leave the house. True, but wouldn't new friends want to spend time with our cute puppy?

Monday, March 23, 2009


Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
You could not deny that he was thorough.

A physical description of character and contents in catalogue form:

-One pair of thick dark rimmed glasses, causing the eyes to appear inset and mole-like
-One embroidered red baseball cap stating "Metropolitan Opera", declaring allegiance
-One fanny pack, containing walkman
-One small Citarella plastic bag inside of
-One medium Barnes & Noble bag inside of
-One large J&R music bag (contents undisclosed, but separate)
-One large leather briefcase, doublewide.
-Two Metropolitan Opera Season Books, front signed by Renee Fleming (pictured)
-Four Metropolitan Opera playbills, signed by respective casts.
-Four CD's (various)
-Three DVD's (various)
-Three Sharpies (for autograph collecting)

He would not be caught unawares by the sudden appearance of any opera icon. living or dead...

He was a relic collector. Signatures were kept in holy order, catalogued by name, faces, roles, productions, seasons. How many times had Renee Fleming signed his catalogue, page after page, night after night, red sharpie for the front cover, black for an internal program signature, blue for the season book...

Everything had to be in order, checked, touched by his own hands prior to arrival and returned to its appointed place in the double-wide before the train arrived at Lincoln Center. He felt envious eyes on him as he performed the pre-arrival ritual, removing each item from the bag by category (first program books, then CD's then DVD's) sorting it, checking it, shuffling quickly (if not efficiently.) He needed to act fast lest he attract too much unsolicited attention and make himself susceptible to threat of theft or violence.

It was a very valuable collection, anyone could see that. Even if the value could not be surmised by an amateur, they could still see it in the care with which he handled each item and the suspicion with which he viewed each and every one of us with him on the 1 train. There was one other passenger who required particular scrutiny. The gentleman directly to his right was wearing purple sunglasses, tight black jeans with cowboy boots with a seasoned jean jacket, and carried a large wicker basket which clearly contained a collection of his own. He was definitely an opera fan and was regarding the whole ceremony with a queer interest (as it were).

When the programs and season books slipped from hands (why! why did he not handle them one by one but rather so entirely awkwardly as a group?) the man with the wicker basket was all too eager to grab at the favored objects. Who could surmise if his hands (or intentions) were clean? A great scuffle ensued in which the all items were restored to the hands of the owner minus one notable exception- a program which was splayed underneath the subway bench (sensitive at this point to corrosive hazards of the highest caliber.) The man with the wicker basket knew it was there, but had encountered such scrutiny on his first gesture of assistance that he hesitated to chance it again.

I sat in the balance, again, cosmically placed just across the way from where I wanted be, where the action was. Occasionally I caught the eye of the man with the wicker basket and smiled. He raised his eyebrows. The collector's eyes remained fixed on his collection, occasionally surveying the potential threat level.

We both exited the subway at Lincoln Center, and I followed him for a block or so until our paths separated, his (at a rather quick pace for such a portly man) to the Met of course where if he hurried he would be exactly one hour early for Saturday's matinee performance of ,a href="http://texification.blogspot.com/2009/03/la-sonnambula-booing-nyc-booing-really.html">La Sonnambula.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finally some recognition from the NY Times

"For nearly 60 years, the guns of Alta have shot down menacing snow crusts and ice sheets before they can slide and set off the devastating avalanches that once gave Little Cottonwood Canyon, atop which Alta sits, a reputation of danger and dread."
-via NY Times March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So many things, but I'll just start with two letters.

I wrote two letters today. One that I taped to our neighbors door and one that I kept for myself. I'll leave it to you to decide which is which.


Dear Apt. 1.

The rest of the house would appreciate it if you separated your recycling properly as outlined in the poster hanging in the vestibule. You've mixed your papers with plastic again which has resulted in all of our recycling being left at the curb again. This will often result in a fine which we all have to split. Also your cardboard needs to bound with twine or clear tape and not just shoved into the recycling bin. Also you can't recycle dirty pizza boxes.

ALSO-- we are all supposed to share the duty of taking the trash to the curb and back on M, W, F and the recycling on W. I guess that the loud banging that I do outside your bedroom window whenever it is my turn has not alerted you to the fact that you are being remiss. I also suppose that every time that I've physically REMOVED your trash from the recycling bin and put it into the trash bin and then left the cover off the can so that you can see that your trash has been moved has gone unnoticed.

In short, since you do not respond to my passive aggressive promptings, I'll have to out and out ask you to please do your chores. I've copied your mother on this letter. She's very disappointed in you. She also says that you should permit us to share in your outdoor space. You never use it, and our hammock would fit nicely.

We're glad to know that you're not dead. Last week the smell of fish which usually seeps out from under your door was replaced by the very distinct odor of rotting flesh. Fortunately, your cigarette smoke has continued to bellow up through the chimney and soothed our consciences in that regard.

:) Your neighbors

Our recycling was left behind because some of your items were sorted improperly. Please fix this-- it could result in a fine that we'll all have to split. Also we're supposed to all take turns bringing the trash/recycling to the curb. We would appreciate your assistance.
:) Your neighbors.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Another reason to love the internet

This was hands down the best one. Click here

Refresh often

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My new favorite thing (of the moment) on the web

This is almost better than puppies, but in a reality show way, not in a cute way. DO NOT click on this link if you don't want to waste a good portion of your day wondering
1. If these people are for real
2. Why this type of trash is such an endless source of amusement.

On this site, people write out their side of a story, then send an invite to the person that they're in conflict with and invite them to do the same. After both sides are gathered, they are put up to the community to vote. My favorite so far?
Abge and Brian. A married couple. They've been married for 27 years or some such. She suspects him of an affair, (on substantial evidence) He says it's all in her head. Normal stuff for such a site. BUT! They are allowed to post updates as the votes come in and here's one of hers.

""Brian I think the results speak for themselves don't you? Being in hospital for the last 5 days has really made me think, even though I have temporarily lost my short term memory, I can still think Brian! Also my memory is improving all the time even if a little hazy, I am not stupid Brian.

I saw the way you looked at that nurse 'Sonia' when you came to visit me yesterday, what was it you put in her hand? I saw you and I saw the way you smiled at her! You really have a nerve don't you. But if you think you are something think again, when you smiled a dribble of saliva came out of the edge of your mouth, you looked like a dirty old man, that's what I saw, a dirty old man chatting up a 23 year old nurse, you should be ashamed of yourself, I most certainly am.

I am just so cross right now. I wasn't going to bother updating but since coming out of hospital and being crippled with my ankle you still continue to go out. Where are you going Brian? yesterday you went to get a loaf of bread at 2pm and you returned at 9pm with lipstick on your collar...or was it really rust from the fire engine you said you had helped push up Crannolk Hill when Maggie was trapped in her car? And how come you were that side of town? Anyway I thought Maggie had gone to Stoke.

Melanie said she wouldn't be surprised if you had left the tool box at the top of the stairs on purpose....you knew I was in the bath you bloody idiot.

As for nurse Sonia, she told me you had given her a voucher for Avon, you back doing that again are you? Why Avon Brian???""

Seriously, Brian. Why Avon.
I am now convinced that this whole site is fabricated, but that doesn't mean that I won't check in. Just wait till you read what Brian had to say that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The delicacies of pet ownership

"A Cavalier puppy with a lovely face and less than ideal topline, cowhocks, straight stifles, gay tail, or single testicle will fit your bill perfectly. Gay tails, cowhocks, and so on are important to judges and breeders, but they will make little difference to you. "
via Coronation Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

I didn't even know what a gay tail or cowhock was less than 15 minutes ago... I guess I still don't. But as they mention, it makes little difference to me.

The delicacies of dog ownership.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Better luck next year

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
My dear friend Val alerted me to the existence of World Nutella Day which I have tragically missed this year.

I am a big fan of nutella, let it be known. I banished it from our home a year ago due to my entire lack of self-control, but last week, when it forced its way in I welcomed it with open arms.

The WND roundups which are linked on the WND homepage will lead you to countless delicious Nutella recipes (which you don't need.) Eating this would probably be better than a kick in the shins.

Curse you, Val, for this invaluable hazel-nutty dissolution of self-control :)

"Be careful. Later she try to kill you, maybe."

Originally uploaded by signs and wonders
For a time in bygone years I was a nanny here in NYC. I would travel to the upper east side for 4-6 hours a day to assist in the care of two lovely children, "A" who was a 3 year old boy and "N" who was 7 months old. A lovely time it was, truly, although it took a great deal of time and personal investment to win over the "Nana" (grandmother) who was primarily responsible for the children's care and rearing....

Nana spoke very little English, and distrusted me at first. She didn't need any help with the children and didn't like the fact that I was brought in. Every time that I would try to take A for an outing in the city she would say- "No, we are family we stay together." But frequently she didn't want to go out, so we stayed together inside while A fidgeted monstrously in the tiny apartment.

Within the first week I was tasked with A's baths, which he DESPISED. I've never seen a three year old who hated baths, in my experience that was always the very best time of day, fellow nannies-- testify?! Am I right? Nana came in and said "2 times, the shampoo on him. Make 2 times." OK... no problem, I'll double wash his hair-- which he protested. Loudly. During the first wash we developed the "waterfall" system, where in he tipped his head back and I gently poured the water while shielding his eyes. This is how my mom did it. He decided this was tolerable and I was permitted to wash his hair a second time (as was my charge). I then discovered why he hated baths, when Nana busted in and *literally* dumped a bucket of water on his head. And then said "wash again"

That boy's hair glistened like the noon day sun. I've never seen such frequently washed hair.

Eventually Nana ventured out on some trips and we would talk a little but. We went to the Central Park Zoo, and to the Sheep's Meadow (where she declared that the man sunbathing--"In my country, he is killed for this. At least prison.")

I'm not sure exactly when the bond of trust developed, though I think it was about the time that she was changing the baby on a park bench and I turned around just in time to see the baby fall through the back slats and dove to catch her just in time. There was a "we don't tell about this" moment and a knowing glance. Then came the advice and warnings.

She knew that I was a singer and she knew that I had a boyfriend. She asked me about "Boy you see" and inquired after his family. I told her that he was an only child and she gasped and struck her head. She said:
"Be careful-- his mother? She try to kill you."

"No no no no no... I've met her she's wonderful. She would never try to kill me"

"Now, no. But he is only boy. Later, you marry and she try to kill you, you take her boy from her."

"Really, nana, she is NOT like that at all. I promise."

"You think so but be careful. Later she try to kill you, maybe."

This warning was issued many times, and each time it inspired fits of hilarious giggles on my part, which were strongly chided.

Eventually, to stop my gleeful dismissals of her very serious concern for my life she related to me her own story. She and her husband came to the US and both worked very hard to live in NYC and sent money back home to get other relatives out. Her husband then returned to their home land for a time and left her here to work, take care of the children and continue to send money back. Over time he returned with his mother who took over their bedroom while they shared the living room with the children.

The story continues with the Mother in law confronting Nana saying: "You don't make love with my son. You are a horrible wife." To which Nana replied:

"How do you know this?"

"He has mistress at home in (home country) that is where money goes. If you make love with him, he doesn't have her."

"We make love now in the bathroom, as you are in our bed!"

"This is a lie. My son told me it's not true."

"I say, if this is not true, you throw your shoe at me!"

And she did. She threw her shoe at Nana. Then Nana threw her shoes into the hallway. Then Nana threw her husband and his mother out of the house (go NANA!!!)

I don't know how often Nana told that story. I get the impression not very much. She was surprised, at least with how much I cheered for her at the end of the story. I get the distinct impression that she didn't get that reaction very much. I cheered her like a hero-- I cheered like the crowd cheers when the family comes back to see their new house on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I could see it made her feel glad and proud.

Shortly thereafter she stopped randomly dumping buckets of water on A during bath time. She even let us leave without her from time to time. We started taking daily walks to the park, which I think we both enjoyed. She enjoyed pointing out people's punishable offenses and the daily perils that we faced because of the laziness of our government (potholes, traffic violations.) I enjoyed her stories, my remarkably well-preserved naivete, and the confidence I had in the privileges I had been born with not to be "killed, maybe" here in America.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Now I'm a believer

Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
For a while I eschewed Fresh Direct and their delivery of groceries... My store is only a few blocks away and my mom bought me one of those rolling carts which revolutionized my shopping trips. (if only the cart could mount stairs...)

I saw our lovely neighbors happily trotting up the stairs followed by delivery men with boxes of food and I thought, "that's nice, but I like to browse."

I do not like to browse. I like to eat food, and I like it even better when it arrives like magic at my door.

I was positively gleeful when our first delivery arrived at our door, and then my Fresh Direct love was set like a tattoo on my heart when one of the boxes inexplicably contained an (unordered) jar of Nutella!! I had to show Drake the invoice to prove that I did not break my own no-Nutella-in-the-house ban. They just knew. The good ones always do...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

La Sonnambula-- Booing, NYC, Booing? Really?

La Sonnambula
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Drake and I have gone to see two operas this week at the Met and couldn't be happier. We would love to be able to go once a week all the time.

On Saturday we saw Adriana Lecouvreur grace of the Met Weekend Ticket Drawing wherein you can enter to win the right to purchast two orchestra level seats for $25. Such a deal. Then last night we waited to buy rush tickets for the premiere of La Sonnambula.

This is the second time that I've encountered booing at the Met. The first (I thought) was an entirely warranted after a very bad (flat, and poorly sung) aria in last years Macbeth. This time it caught me totally off guard.

Since the moment Sonnambula was announced last winter I've been psyched to see it, mainly because of Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez in the leading roles. The music is beautiful, and they are at the top of their game. I had no idea that this was a "concept" production, and I'll admit that I rolled my eyes as much as eyes could possible be rolled when I read the Director's note in the program as the lights dimmed last night. I rolled my eyes, but I kept watching...

It's not that horrible a concept, actually. It was diverting, only *occasionally* distracting (as in while sleepwalking Dessay dreamily scrolls "ARIA...." across the blackboard.) Critics are saying that director Mary Zimmerman is insensitive and has done the opera a great disservice. I suppose I have a more theatrical bent than many bel canto fans, but if you're not open to new interpretations, why not just buy a recording? If you didn't know it was a concept interpretation (I didn't) I can perhaps see why you might be upset, but at the same time, you've just heard two really great artists give really great performances. Their singing sure didn't suffer.

Maybe it's because I very distinctly feel that we're in the process of defining the landscape of the next 10 years of opera that I resent the fact that this production was booed. The financial stakes have changed. The past 10 years have seen many new productions, and companies have been able to take chances on more 20th century work, and less "popular" work. We can already see that for the 2009-2010 seasons many opera houses are streamlining their seasons, and bringing back the classics. I bet that in addition to less focus on 20th Century opera, we'll also see a whole lot less Handel, and a whole lot less of whatever people run around booing.

Was it that awful? If you go to the opera to hear the voices, the answer is clearly no. Both Florez and Dessay received rapturous applause and standing ovations. If you go to the opera to see compelling theater, then don't boo new productions, or we'll never get to see them. I love Zeferelli as much as the next girl, but give the 21st century a chance! This is nothing in terms of modern updates... I mean have you not seen what happens in Germany???

Maybe that's what people are afraid of. Maybe that's why they booed. I acknowledge that there is a big difference between a "modern updated production" and a "good production." But, there is also a difference between a production worth seeing and a production worth booing.