Jabberwocky for 2001 September

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: Debbie Cantrell, my former office mate from when I worked at the college before talked me into playing in the college band with her, so I borrowed a sax from Tom Jackman, who didn't take it off to BYU with him. I brought it home and played a few scales last night while Gretel howled. Amazingly enough, I remembered how to play the thing, but boy do I get winded quickly, and my whole lower face is s-o-r-e. Faculty get to take classes free, so there are a few of us. We meet from 9:00 to noon on Saturday mornings, plus football games. Last Saturday was audition time and this morning was the first rehearsal. We had the time of our lives mixing with the students and being kids again. The college is providing our uniform, except for black shoes. I have the good fortune to sit next to a girl I had as a student at EBHS last year-- it was fun to see her again, but she sure plays a lot better than I do. After rehearsal, I went to the music store and exchanged the beginner book I had bought for Book III and bought a new ligature and some softer reeds. I also ordered a stand (like the ones they use for jazz bands) so I can leave the instrument sitting out in the living room. I think I'll be more likely to pick it up and practice that way. Fun fun fun! I told the band director -- he's the guy who asked me NOT to audition for HAIR several years back-- about my euphonium from the neighbor's yard sale. He would like me to learn to play it, but I don't know. a) It's all I can do to blow that sax. b) It would probably cost a pretty penny to get it overhauled, and c) I looked through euphonium books at the music store and apparently this one is so old it's entirely different from what they use today. The newer ones have four valves, like a tuba, while mine has only three. One of which is stuck. Therefore, I suppose the fingerings are entirely different, and I've never played a brass instrument anyhow. Old dog, new tricks, you know. I hope to be back up to being good enough for the symphonic wind ensemble by Christmas concert time.

: This is the travelogue of last weekend's trip to San Francisco; I wrote it once before but somehow it went into a black hole instead of onto my weblog. Arrrgh! So here goes again.... I got up very early on Friday, September 7 to finish grading my papers and pay the bills before leaving. This was not, of course, the ideal way to begin a trip, but it had to be done! I wasn't even packed, because I spent Thursday baking and Thursday night with Duane Black trying to hook up our new television (an ordeal that involved searching through the garage and the garden shop by flashlight for a cable that I "thought" I might have but never did find.) This expedition was made scarier by the known presence of black widow spiders, which I have seen in there and which ate me alive last Wednesday night when I was moving lumber from the old fence to the dumpster. Anyhow, I never did find the cable, but Duane– bless his heart– had an extra at home, so we now have a VCR set up and can watch movies. I need to get my Disney Dinosaur videotape back from the Smiths.

Said black widow bites have kept me from sleeping well all week because of the itching and burning, and I am looking forward to cleaning out the garage to the accompaniment of puffs of Raid.

Rachel packed up the brownies and I cut some brugmansia cuttings for Doug and we headed off up I-5 about one p.m., Rachel driving and me grading baseline writing proficiency exams. We made really good time to Santa Nella, where we stopped at Pea Soup Anderson's for a late lunch/early dinner. (Lunner?) I had brought only my digital camera in my rush to pack for the trip, but I convinced Rachel and Red Doggie to pose behind the cutouts of Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee for a picture. One advantage of the digital camera (which doesn't make up for lesser print quality than 35mm, but oh well...) is that one can check one's shots immediately and therefore one doesn't need to expend breath in an effort to convince the subject into posing for a second "just in case" picture. Red Doggie looked especially handsome on the preview, so we hung the photography up and took him in for pea soup.

In the gift shop I bought a signature restaurant china bowl featuring the characters splitting peas on the bottom– always a treat as you get to the bottom of the soup and find the cartoons of Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee staring back at you. I had seen these bowls on previous visits but inexplicably never realized that they were for sale.

We decided to approach the city via Pacheco Pass and through San Jose– always my favorite way to go, and since the 85 freeway now connects Mountain View and Gilroy I really believe it's just as fast as going on the 580 through Livermore and Oakland. I drove up Blood Alley while Rachel napped, but I woke her up for the tour of San Andreas Fault sightings (shades of my long-ago geology class at DeAnza College!) We made a pit stop at the Crystal Springs rest area off the 280, where I took another brugmansia cutting from one that was growing in a pot by the ladies' room door. The plants I bought in Davis after the Benson family reunion this summer (cuttings of which were requested by Doug) are white and pink, but this one growing at Crystal Springs was a pastel yellow. I cut an extra for myself as well, and I hope it grows. Making a mental note that I should not use my pocket knife again, for fear of Datura poisoning, we loaded up our contraband and got to San Francisco, where Leonardr was waiting for us, just at dusk.

I put the cuttings in water in a Clinton/Gore coffee mug and Leonardr entertained us with some new videotapes of P.G. Wodehouse and eventually Leonardw came home and I went to bed after unsuccessfully trying to talk Miles into letting me pet him. You would have think that by now he would remember me between trips.

Even though Miles was certainly adverse to being petted, he was nevertheless willing to keep me awake half the night begging to go out. I didn't let him out because I didn't know if he was allowed out in front [I was sleeping on the couch], so between the spider bites and Miles I passed a dreadful and restless night.

In the morning, Leonardw and I made a project of cutting up brush to fit into the green waste bin while my children went off to the grocery store together. I observed that this was a sort of pleasant and mindless chore and Leonard said, "This reminds me of Dad", which was a pertinent observation, except that I honestly don't remember what Dad used to do with prunings and brush clippings. I can't imagine that he would have composted them, but I suppose that will have to be one of the mysteries pertaining to The Life of Our Parents.

Eventually Leonardw, Rachel and I rode the BART downtown to SFMOMA, where they are staging an centennial celebration exhibition of the work of Ansel Adams. Leonardr declined to come, even for Ansel Adams, as he is still for some reason boycotting SFMOMA. Rachel and I were gratified to learn that the august Mr. Adams was– [oh yeaah] a scrapbooker! I bought the exhibition catalog, which included a limited edition print of Aspens, Dolores River Canyon. This is the part of Colorado where we grew up, so the print has sentimental value as well. I told Leonardw that he may inherit it after I die.

We walked across to the Moscone Center, where we ate at a jook joint and rode the carousel (more pictures!). Some kind of Japanese Friendship celebration was going on in the park, so we sat on the ledge of the fountain eating cheesecake and listening to the musicians. Actually, the set of traditional Japanese music finished right after we sat down, and they brought out a jazz trio. The musicians were still Japanese (or at least two of them were; the drummer was black) but they put on a respectable showing with the jazz. I didn't in reality have cheesecake; I had some kind of concoction called "Chocolate Cloud" which consisted of white and dark chocolate mousse marbled together and piled atop a very spongy ganache and decorated with curled wings of white chocolate. I couldn't eat it all, nor did I get much help from my dining companions, so, regretfully, bye, bye ganache.

On the way to San Jose to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast musical, I entertained Rachel with stories of how, when they opened the Center for Performing Arts with a huge production of Aida, the roof fell in. I recall that my high school friend Kathy Erickson was in the pit playing flute and got plaster in her hair. Rachel became alarmed until I reassured her that no elephants were harmed. The ceiling appears to be stable now, after these many years, and Evita is playing in January and February, so we may have to go back.

Beauty and the Beast was well worth seeing. I especially enjoyed the sets and the costumes. My only quibble was that the "new" songs added for the Broadway production aren't (I think) quite up to the same level as the original music, although I could certainly see the rhetorical rationale for adding more music and dialogue in order to flesh out the characters. It certainly would be a tall order for any composer to patch in more numbers to a beloved score, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

In the morning, Leonardr, Rachel and I rode the BART to Berkeley, where we met Rachel's friend Robert and Leonard's friend Sumana for brunch. Robert had been unable to join us for the theatre because he plays in the band for Cal and there had been a game on Saturday. Actually, Cal played BYU and was trounced quite badly (to the disgust of the San Francisco Chronicle), so we razzed Robert. If I had realized BYU was playing I would have gone to the football game and screamed for them, so it's just as well. We ate at a crepe place, nouvelle California cuisine, very heavy on the pesto. I had never previously supposed it was possible to have too much pesto. After breakfast, Rachel and I rode the BART back home, Leonard stayed with Sumana, and Robert returned to his dorm to do homework.

Upon our return, we found Doug in the back yard potting up various orchid cuttings for me. He had even been to Home Depot to buy shredded bark for them, which was very sweet. We loaded up orchids, luggage, Adams print and ourselves and hit the freeway, stopping only to get gas and an elephant garlic at Casa de Fruita. Elephant garlic, by the way, is not to be recommended; I roasted it for supper and it was quite insipid, so I guess I'll never plant any.

: Today I moved cinder blocks. Lots of them. There are still a lot more to move, and I'm exhausted. I put a lot of them in the back yard to use as stepping stones with ground cover between, and square of them outlining what will be my backyard chessboard. I transplanted the Carolina jessamine, cleaned up some more mess, and laid out the rest of the back yard garden. Tomorrow I need to finish moving blocks and map out where the sprinkler lines go, so we can get Dan Romo and his tractor over here and get this show on the road.

: I am practicing the National Anthem to play tomorrow evening at the football game. (I used to have it memorized , but it's been years!) We are doing the Marine Band's President's Own arrangement, very snappy and rapid tempo with lots of brass and snare. Dr. Martinez expects us to practically stand up and salute and I keep crashing and burning-- trying to play and can't. Kickoff will go on as scheduled against West Valley College, but there will be a memorial service and moment of silence before the game starts. Today during the Church's memorial service-- one of my few chances to sing with the MOTAB and I blew it. I couldn't even sing I was so choked up.

: I finished moving cinder blocks today. Now I have to finish moving dirt.

: I'm going to plant a chitalpa in my front yard -- it blooms 10 months of the year. Gardening friend Jill Langley warns that a chitalpa grows open and leggy, ("ragged" she called it) but that's okay by me because I'm putting iris, daffodils, and lilies under it and they need sun. I went to the nursery today to scope out Japanese maples for the Japanese garden outside my bedroom window and they didn't look so great--not nearly as nice as they were this spring. At the nursery they have them in a lath house with misters, even, and if I put one where I want it in my yard it will be on the hot seat in the western sun. I think I'm going with a brachychiton populenis. Okay, so it won't be an authentic Japanese garden, but this ain't Japan, after all. Does anyone here in California grow peonies? They are rated for my zone, but I don't recall ever seeing them in anyone's yard anywhere in the state, except for the one that Aunt Jeuney transplanted from her sheltered patio in Sunnyvale to my sheltered patio at Comanche Point and Rocky dug it up after its first bloom. So, I'm looking at 7 redwood trees, the chitalpa, the brachychiton, and four fruit trees, in the 15 gallon size at around $50 a pop. Accck, aaaack!

: Got up early today and went to band practice. The football game for tonight is changed to October 13, so I will be able to work in the yard when it cools down this afternoon. I guess I'm playing a little better, but need to graduate to a harder reed now. I made friends with the kid who is playing first. I'm playing second. Sabrina didn't show, and poor Debbie was all alone on tenor. We got our uniforms today and I took Tom's sax to the hospital (Armas Music) to see if they could overhaul it by Thursday night. I won't be able to practice before our public appearance then, but oh well, maybe I'll sound better once the loose felts and bent springs are fixed. They are supposed to call me if they can't get to it by Thursday so that I can come bail it out to use as is if it's not overhauled. Dr. Martinez accused me of playing an "almost" A major instead of B flat concert. Sheesh. I had it pushed in as far as it would go.

: Today I stupidly locked my keys and wallet in the car. Susan McQuerrey took me to lunch after class and then I spent most of the afternoon out in the hot sun waiting for a locksmith. I'd be dangerous if I only had a brain.

: I finished cleaning up in the front yard and then Gretel and I went to White Forest Nursery and bought 25 bags of steer manure. Had a really nice conversation with Charlie there, and Gretel and I explored the nursery while they were loading up our manure. Marlene drove up just as I was getting home, so I made a late lunch and then we went to Cooper's to look for some crape myrtles for her. Everything looked overheated and wilted, so she didn't buy anything. We noticed a paucity of United States flags lining Stockdale Highway (in preparation for the annual business conference) and wondered if someone is stealing them.

: Today we got gates! Yay! The yard is coming along. I got up early and made breakfast for the missionaries, who then spread my manure for me. (Now the neighborhood reeks.) I also got lattices to put up against the west windows and solanum jasmodium to plant to grow up them. That's for tomorrow. Tonight was the annual Bakersfield College athletic barbecue, and I got a free steak dinner for playing in the band. I knew where I was in the music almost all the time, even if I wasn't playing the right notes. My uniform is way too big. Tom's sax is playing better since I took it to the hospital. I had to beg them on bended knee to get it overhauled before tonight since they (Armas Music) are so busy this time of year. They re-glued some pads, replaced some corks, tightened some springs, and did some word I've never heard of-- swinged the neck. The American Heritage Dictionary says that to swinge is an archaic form meaning to punish with blows, thrash, beat, but I seriously doubt Mr. Armas did that to Tom's saxophone.

: How cute is this? I found flannel at JoAnn's that had pizza, leaning towers, and maps of Italy. Annnndddd.... it is on sale! I'm going to make Jonathan some jammies.

: Sigh. I took Rachel off to college yesterday and moved her into her dowm. Listened to Les Mis on the way home. CD #1 has a scratch, and I barely bought it six months ago. The real bummer of the day, however, was the telephone call from Susanna that was waiting on the answering machine. Jamie Manty, from our old ward, is dead of a brain aneurysm. She was only 19 years old, and a lovely and intelligent young lady. I just talked to her and her mom, Judy, at a baptism a couple of weeks ago. I talked to David Rasmussen and Mary Sue Ellsworth about it. Nobody knows when the funeral will be yet. Today I bought a sympathy card and when I got to the car it wasn't in my bag. I retraced my steps and found it on the floor of Albertsons sans envelope. The bagboy offered to go get me another envelope, but he was sick and sniffling, so I told him just stay there and I would get one myself. Then when I got home I dropped the card in the gutter. I also got a call from Bob at American Car Specialty. It seems Rachel's car is overheating because someone tried to patch up a leak with stopleak stuff and the stuff is clotting up the whole cooling system and it could be a very, very big repair. I got a letter from AAA saying we've used up our alottment of service calls for the year. What else can go wrong? I think I need some chocolate.

Jabberwocky for 2001 September

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© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.