Archive for the ‘Music to my ears’ Category

How to reward a knitter…

August 29, 2014

I neglected to show the prize I won for the double-knitted baby blanket at the Yarn & Falafel Annual Fiber Fest this year.  I must remedy this oversight.

knitting prize - blanket

Knitting needles, stitch markers, 3in1 needle gauge tool, Knitscene Summer 2014, and yarn!  Lots of yarn…

Alize Superwash, a whole pile of Soul Wool Safari (cotton/viscose), and two skeins of Valley Yarns Huntington.

I have been spoiled.


And as we move into the Sabbath:

Shabbat Shalom.

O Mio Babbino Caro

November 3, 2013

That’s the aria from Puccini’s opera “Gianni Schicchi” that blew me – and evidently quite a few others -away this week,

There are many reality music/talent shows these days.  Too many.  The “idol” shows, which started in Britain and then spread worldwide to umpteen countries – known in Israel as “A Star is Born” – has been around for more than a decade,  This year Israel changed the format entirely and it’s known as “The Next Star”, complete with interactive home audience real-time  participation.  “The Voice” began in Holland, and quickly spread as well.  We’ve had two local seasons of that so far.  The new show around here is the Israeli “X-Factor”.  More of the same, but we keep watching it, because there’s a lot of raw talent out there and we love to discover it.

One show that hasn’t yet made it to Israel is the “__’s Got Talent”  (another show born in Britain, but this one is for all kinds of entertainment, not just singing.  Although singing is certainly there.)

This week on “Holland’s Got Talent” a young girl named Amira Willighagen stepped onto the stage.  She’s 9 years old.  As reported in the Huff Post:

It’s hard to believe how young Amira is, but even more surprising to learn that she is completely self-taught, and used only YouTube tutorials to learn how to sing.

She told the judges, “My brother Vincent plays violin, and I also wanted to do something…  So I thought, I’m going to sing… and then I heard opera songs, which I found very beautiful and that’s when I started singing,” HLNBE reports.

And this is what happened.

I don’t know if the judges’ reactions were real or staged.  Truthfully, I don’t care.

Remember this child’s name.  She is going to be very famous.   And rightfully so.

Perspective, Pain relief, Parenting, and Potluck Pasta

February 21, 2012

I was late to work today. I overslept. Never heard the alarms. (Yes, I set two alarms, in case I drift off again after the first…) I slept through both today. So I missed my ride, had to take the car. (Which is actually more convenient since I had to race around a lot today. Also more expensive. There is always a flip side.) Then once I was on my way, I discovered that in my haste I had left my cell phone at home. Normally I would say Fug It, I refuse to be a slave to technology, and keep on going, but there were too many destinations with too many arrangements to be made en route today. So I had to go back and get it. Didn’t help that when I realised it was missing I was stuck at a long traffic light with no option but to wait, then go past and find a different way to turn around… Got it, hindered by a possessed catbeast who was zooming around trying her best to trip me. I got stuck at the same traffic light the second time around too, which added to the aggravation. Those few minutes of backtracking made the difference between fairly empty streets and streets beginning to fill with erratic drivers, arrogant road-hogging truckers, and one terrified learner who got in the way of all the others. (Come on, seriously, who the hell takes a driving lesson in morning rush hour???) I was developing a nice case of road rage, and when the tissue holder on the visor suddenly fell on my head then bounced off into the farthest corner of the car, I knew I had to do something to ensure that it was not going to be one of those days. I pushed in a John Lennon CD, cranked up the music, and it put everything into a different perspective.

I love how music can do that. Thanks, Mr. L. Shine On.

After the usual insane day of work I headed for physiotherapy. I’m going twice a week now, they’re using short wave ultrasound to ease the hip pain. It’s actually helping a bit, there are brief periods where I can walk normally without limping.

After I left the clinic went to pick up partner and we headed for kidlet’s school. This school offers all kinds of wonderful things, not only for the kids but for the families. One thing they offer is a workshop for parents on how to work with teenagers during this volatile time. I’m always eager to learn, so we signed up for the weekly workshop. It was also a chance to meet other parents, which is hard to do with a regional school.

Teenagers. They’re moving from childhood to adulthood, way too quickly for us and way too slowly for them. A friend of mine once compared adolescence to our wonderful kids entering a long, dark, difficult tunnel where they forget all the lessons we’ve taught them and all we can do is wait until they come out the other end, hoping that those lessons have survived. I would compare it more to them going through one of those carnival “funhouses”, with dark mazes and things jumping out at you and all those mirrors that constantly distort everything you know, all making you freak out. Some kids navigate it easily. Most don’t.

So this workshop has been a real asset, team-led by two master teachers who gave us very little theory and a whole bagful of tips and tools to use with our little angels. It was a chance to bounce ideas off of each other, get advice and feedback from other parents in the same situations, share frustration and success. Sworn to silence, what was said in the workshop stayed in the workshop, not even our kids were told what we heard. They only got the benefit of our “homework” exercises as we tried out techniques. Many of the methods were not new to me, but the practice was invaluable. Tools to set boundaries, choose our battles wisely, even how to form statements and questions that promote communication instead of shutting it down. In the workshop we practiced on each other, everything from active listening to trying to describe ourselves through our kids’ eyes.

Partner and I missed a few sessions when kidlet was in the hospital, no way to both visit her and get to the school. But one of the teachers kept me updated with emails, and the other parents were happy to explain the tools. Tonight was our last meeting, so we planned a potluck party.

What do you make for a potluck when you have no time at home? (Well, other than bringing a bottle of wine or buying something ready made….) There are several dishes I like to make for potlucks, all easy. And any other quick-n-easy recipes are definitely welcome!! But I have a foolproof dish that I can throw together in no time, so little work it almost makes you feel guilty about cheating when folks tell you how yummy it is. My no-fuss pasta salad:

Cook one package of pasta. I like to use the tri-colour fusilli pasta, with egg, tomato and spinach noodles, just to make it interesting.

While that’s cooking, I cut up some bell peppers. Since the pasta is tri-colour, I cut up a red pepper, a green one, and a yellow one to match.

When the pasta is cooked, I drain it and let it cool a bit. Throw in the peppers. Then I toss in salad dressing. You can make your own, or use your favourite bottled dressing. I usually like to use honey and mustard, but citrus vinaigrette also works great. To finish off, I add some sliced black olives for zing, both in taste and visually.

And that’s it. (I told you it was easy.) Plop it into your Tupperware or equivalent, and you’re good to go. Tastes just as great if it’s in the fridge overnight, too, so you can make it well in advance.

Bon apetit. It was a hit at the potluck.

Since I started my day needing to chill with John Lennon, let’s end with him as well…

Let Them Talk

March 23, 2011

Actor (and musician) Hugh Laurie has a debut album coming out in May!  Called “Let Them Talk,”  it features Laurie on piano and vocals playing his favourite music, New Orleans blues.

He explains it all on the album website:

I was not born in Alabama in the 1890s. You may as well know this now. I’ve never eaten grits, cropped a share, or ridden a boxcar. No gypsy woman said anything to my mother when I was born and there’s no hellhound on my trail, as far as I can judge. Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south.

If that weren’t bad enough, I’m also an actor: one of those pampered ninnies who hasn’t bought a loaf of bread in a decade and can’t find his way through an airport without a babysitter. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that I’ve got some Chinese characters tattooed on my arse. Or elbow. Same thing.

Worst of all, I’ve broken a cardinal rule of art, music, and career paths: actors are supposed to act, and musicians are supposed to music. That’s how it works. You don’t buy fish from a dentist, or ask a plumber for financial advice, so why listen to an actor’s music?

The answer is – there is no answer. If you care about provenance and genealogy, then you should try elsewhere, because I have nothing in your size.

He goes on to tell the story of how he began his musical career at the age of 5, and other relevant details that led him to finally producing an album.

You can pre-0rder it now, just the CD, or a limited edition version that includes a book and 3 bonus tracks.  A great gift for music lovers and/or House fans!  I shall drop some broad hints at home about possible gifts for Pesach…

The friend’s grandbaby for whom I knit the teddy bear blanket and the washcloths was born last night!   So hopefully we will travel to Tel Aviv very soon to present the wee babe (and her parents, of course) with her presents.    A happy occasion.

The scarves for the nieces are progressing nicely, I’m alternating knitting them, so they’re about at the same place, which is about 2/3 done.  I occasionally even manage a few rows of the criss cross scarf for me too.

The beast was being photogenic the other evening, and agreed to pose.

Good kitteh.

Eek! Time for Karma check?

November 24, 2010

I worked the usual long day yesterday, was tired.  On the way home, I knitted a few rows of the Rainbow Perseverance, then put it aside to just listen to some lovely piano music on the iPhone  (Margie Adam‘s Naked Keys – instrumental).  Got home and dragged myself up the stairs to get ready for SnB.

Guess I was more tired than I thought, because I dozed off on the couch for a while, woke up to see that whoops,  I was late.  Whirled around getting ready to go, and suddenly noticed that my knitting bag was strangely…empty.   No Perseverance project bag.   Stunned, I realized that I must have left it on the bus seat where I was sitting on the ride home.   And we hadn’t been with our usual driver, rather a substitute for the day.

Uh oh.  I did not want to contemplate what could be happening here.   I sat down and phoned the fellow in charge of all the transportation for my company, apologized for bothering him at home in the evening, and he gave me the number of the car company.   I then phoned them, apologized again…and got the cell phone number of the substitute driver.  When I got a hold of him, he said he hadn’t seen any bag in the (mini)bus, but that he would look for it and, if he found it, would pass it along to our regular driver who would be back today.   Nothing more I could do, but it left me edgy…

So I grabbed a couple of other WIPs and headed off to SnB.  Good times, good knitting, good people.  We stayed later than usual, my tiredness was gone.  Then we headed home.  I usually get a ride with Roberta.   We strolled over to her usual public garage – only to discover that they had closed and her car was now locked in until morning!  Egads, zounds, and insert your favourite expletive here.

I was starting to worry about my karma by now, did I do some harm inadvertently?  We each snagged a cab and parted ways.

Today dawned and I was still worried.  Would the driver find my bag?  Did he have other passengers after he dropped me off, was my project safe?  To boost my luck I wore my “I knit, therefore I am” necklace that was a birthday gift from Roberta from Galia’s etsy shop.   (Yes, of course it’s purple…)

I was good.  I waited until a reasonable hour this morning to phone the driver again.  Yes, he found the project bag, and he will give it to today’s driver.  I  can breathe again.  Stress levels have dropped.  But they will only be back to the normal level of hysteria when I have my Perseverance back in my grasp.

Despite having several (*ahem*) WIPs on the needles, it happens sometimes that you get into a flow with one project, the mojo is strong, the juices are pumping, and that’s what you have to work on.  It’s what was going on with the Perseverance, and I think that’s why the disruption has bothered me.  I love my other projects too, but

Does this happen to you with some projects?  Not necessarily knitting, it can be any task or project.    (Or is it simply a peculiarity of mine??)

This Day in Music

November 4, 2010

What was the #1 hit in music on the day you were born? Or maybe on the day you graduated school? Other special days in your life?

Find out at this website.  (Unfortunately, it only has records from 1946, so those who were born before that are out of luck.  There may be an alternative site…)

The day I was born, the #1 hit in the US was Elvis Presley’s single Don’t Be Cruel / Hound Dog.

In the UK, the #1 hit was Doris Day’s Qué Será Será / What Will Be, Will Be.

In Australia, the hit song was Portuguese Washerwoman, by Jo “Fingers” Carr.

Well, I’m still looking for a way to hear the Washerwoman song,  since I don’t know that one at all.  Otherwise, I’ve gotta say, I like the US choice best.  Your opinion may vary, of course…

(I have not yet finished the bind off on the vest.  Something seems to be brewing with my health, I don’t feel well, and I chose to nap on the way home instead of knit.    Also on the way to work this morning.  I’ll see how I feel later.   I want to finish this!)

In any case, enjoy the music!


August 3, 2010

I’ve joined NaBloPoMo again this month.  They make it sound so simple:  Post every day for a month. That’s all you have to do.  It’s a challenge!

The theme for this month is Green.  As in the colour of summer, gardening, growth, ecology and environment, envy, safe passage (as opposed to red), money, lack of experience, and lots more which will probably occupy my attention over a few posts this month.

The first thing that popped into my head – other than the fact that I just finished a project in green yarn and I just found a new project that requires green yarn  – was how many songs do I know that have “green” in the title?  A friend and I used to play this game a lot.  We didn’t have a car, and spent a lot of time walking places.  To pass the time we would think of a word, then try to come up with song titles with the word.  Knowing the tune was also important, and if you actually knew the lyrics that was an extra point.  Therefore I’ll dedicate this blog post to Reuven and long walks.

So…. Green.  Amazingly eclectic collection here, something for everyone…

Truthfully , Kermit was the first one I thought of.  Kind of scary, that….     Here he is – It’s Not Easy Being Green

On to a classic ballad.    Here sung by The King’s Singers:    Greensleeves

Green Onions by Booker T and the MG’s

I used to play this next one on the piano a lot.  I’m surprised at my parent’s patience.  Green Tambourine by Lemon Pipers

Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine by Simon and Garfunkel

The same decade, wildly different style… Green Green Grass Of Home by Tom Jones

Green-Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf

Green Door by Shakin’ Stevens

The extraordinary voice.  Evergreen by Barbra Streisand

Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival

I adore Joni.  I listened to her albums non-stop in university.  This is a song about her daughter.    Just a little Green by Joni Mitchell

OK, OK, against my better judgment, something actually from this decade.  I Love You (But You’re Green) by Shrek and Fiona Babyshambles

The problem with this next one is it tends to get stuck in my head…  I still have it in my mp3 player, though…  Bitter Green by Gordon Lightfoot

This one is kidlet’s request… Green Heaven by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sudden genre leap….  Little Green Apples by Roger Miller

And who remembers this one?  (And who remembers it not in reruns?) Green Acres

Any more you would add to the list?

A Wrinkle in Time, Ladies

July 25, 2010

Went to a birthday lunch yesterday for someone who just turned 65.  Her main complaint is wrinkles, she bemoaned them every time she looked at the pictures we were taking.

Partner and I became resigned to wrinkles ever since kidlet was about five, and mad at us about something, and sat singing a little song to herself, “I have two moms, one has wrinkles and the other is annoying.”   (I think I was the annoying one, but we’re not sure, since we never asked…)

So…this is dedicated to all of us – with thanks to Anita Renfroe.

Happy Birthday, Boss!

May 7, 2010

Wow, I’m tired.

My  boss’ birthday was actually last month – his 60th – but the party kept getting put off because people were abroad, or dates and times weren’t working out.  We finally had his “surprise” party today.  He knew something was happening, it was on his calendar, but he didn’t know what.

We (the management department) left work a little after noon and started out by driving into the north – a whole convoy of cars.  I got a car from work for the weekend, so I was a driver, not a passenger.  My colleague Tzvia rode with me – her boss was leading the convoy and he kept phoning back to us pointing out various spots and sites along the way.  It really was gorgeous countryside.

We drove to the village of Jish, also known as Gush Halav, for a fantastic lunch.  Lots and lots of hot and cold salads and spreads, hot pita bread, then I had skewers of game hen,  and madjara (rice and lentils).  I finished with hot black tea in a glass filled with fresh spearmint leaves.

Very full, we got back into the cars and kept heading north.  We got to moshav Dishon,  where we parked our cars and switched to ATVs.  First, though, we were given helmets and each got a short lesson in ATV driving.  Then we got into groups and hit the trails with our fantastic guides.

Tzvia was the only one not driving, she relaxed back at the base station while the rest of us cavorted around nature.  Up and down and around the Naftali mountains, bumping over boulders and through streams.  This was my first time on an ATV, it was quite an experience.  We took a break for coffee and cookies at a spot overlooking the Huleh Valley.

All in all, we toured around for about 1-1/2 hours.  Some of it, like on steep inclines or descents, at a crawl, and some of it, on open trails, we really opened up and sailed along.  My arm muscles were pretty tired by the time we got back!    I do have to confess, one thought that kept creeping into my head while jouncing along the mountain trails through beautiful scenery was how we were all polluting that scenery with our driving through it!!  Very distracting thought while trying to concentrate on uneven terrain.

My boss thanked us all for a great birthday treat, and we all went our separate ways home from there.  When I called kidlet, she said she was at a mall with some friends.  Since the mall was on the way home, and we had been driving a long time, Tzvia and I stopped and relaxed for a while at a café there until kidlet was ready to go home.  She and a couple of her friends piled into the back of the car, I dropped folks off here and there, and we got home all tuckered out.  First thing I did was head for a long hot shower to get all the trail dust off of me.

Tomorrow we start out early for a music festival weekend at the Sea of Galilee, the Jacob’s Ladder Festival.  We try and go every spring.  It actually started today, but there’s no way I have the energy for another long drive and then to set up a tent and campsite tonight.  So we’ll only go for two days, which is also great fun.  Some of the things I’ll pack in the car already tonight, so we can just pack the food and a few other odds and ends in the morning.   I’ll be computer-less for a couple of days. so no blogging until I get home, but there will be huge amounts of knitting time.  (Oh, and some spinning too, I think.)  And some thumping good music!!!  Stories when I get back!