Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving pet style

I had my own pet sitting business for nearly four years a while back. I recently got to talking with an old pet sitting friend of mine who gets swamped at holidays and would like to leave town every now and then. She contrcated out a few homes to me over Thanksgiving. I started yesterday with one which was actually one of my old clients. The Greenes and their two Boston Terriers were always a favorite - nice pups, nice home, nice people, nice neighborhood to walk.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I went to the Texas Toot (an early music workshop out in East Texas) last weekend and had a blast. I had some fabulous classes. A couple of lute classes, a couple of voice classes, a percussion class and more.... I got to play a krumhorn!! For those who don't know, a krumhorn sounds like a kazoo, is played more like a recorder or penny whistle, looks like a huge candy cane, and it has a reed so you have to blow until you think all the blood vessels in your head are going to explode. Now imagine 30 people in a big circle all playing these silly monsters. It's great.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Abby Green of Dublin

I just met Abby Green of Dublin, Ireland. If you are looking for the writer Abby Green, visit her here. I cannot wait to read her book! How can I not???

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Austin's East Side Cats

Many of you know that Dan and I live east of downtown Austin. Our neighborhood is swarming with cats. We already nursed, spayed and rehomed one kitten named Shrimp. We now have two backyard kittens. For about two weeks we were calling them Lilly 2 and Lilly 3 because they looked like my Lilly cat. Yesterday, we came to the conclusion that while we can not take on two more indoor furball family members, we seem to have attracted 2 new family members who don't seem to mind too much that they roam the world as they wish. With this realization, we gave them proper names, proper Irish names. Mairead is Lilly 2, and Niamh is Lilly 3. Sweet cats, about 6 months old. If you know anyone who would give them a good home, please, I would rather them be loved and let in on the couch, than loved only when we want to sit on the porch.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


So I've been going about this telegram business easy breezy no problems. And suddenly I have a young lady who contacted me October 2 for a telegram for her friend here in Austin to be delivered the 28th. Payment was scheduled to be made by check in the mail. We were in contact the whole time and when the 28th came and I still had no check, I contacted her once more to be sure she truly wanted to send the telegram and to get a better feel for this payment. It is now nearly 2 weeks after the delivery which she stated she was pleased with in her email. He and his roommates were certainly pleased.

When I owned a pet sitting company, I never made up policies before someone changed my mind and gave me reason to create a policy. So here with go with policy number one!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Texas Renaissance Festival

Istanpitta, like many other acts that have been practically fixtures to this fair, did not perform at the Texas Renaissance Festival. The entertainment budget suffered HUGE cuts. Which left the entertainment director the evil job of either not inviting acts to return or offering contracts with much less pay. We got offered a contract, which Al renegotiated. By the time the fair responded, we had already booked three of our weekends at other fairs. We are hoping negotiations go a little more quickly this year. Al and I visited TRF last weekend and it was VERY obvious that things were very different. The lane where Wyndnwyre and I Madrigali played was completely empty. The Wharf stage where the Flying Fish Sailors used to be was empty.... empty because Tartanic was scheduled to use that stage, but the stage does not fit that group so Tartanic used the space near the stage..... hmmmmm..... kinda odd.
On the positive, we did run into and chatted with the entertainment director. And we did get to hang out with our friends of Tartanic and Gypsy Dance Theater and Gypsy Guerilla Band and our back stage friends Mark & Betty, and Chris and Julie & the other fortune tellers. We were out there specifically to play with Alesha's tribal dance group. In the process Al has met a potential new vielle player -- A GUY!!! a very nice guy.... and as usual fun to see Alesha again.

Las Vegas!

Here is Jay and Annette lookin' pretty cute on Friday before the rain :-)

Now, I'm pretty sure we got a picture of all of us, but alas... WHERE is it?!?! So, here is our stage. We shared this frying pan of a stage with this duo pirate act, an incredible juggler act, a harpist, and our friend Owen Phyfe. This lovely stage, painted black for full frying power was in the direct sun for the middle of the day making our first two sets each day like performing in a frying pan. Later in the day, the trees would catch the sun and the stage wasn't so bad at all.
Now for the real Vegas! We did go to the strip on Saturday evening. We ate at the Venetian.
Annette gambled a couple of quarters away.

Four Kingdoms Fair

Moline, Illinois. This fair was sponsored by the local KOA. Because of this, we got to stay on the grounds in this cozy little cabin. It was really cool. See how Al is roughin' it with the laptop below. We had wireless internet, a little fridge, and a heater which was definitely needed at night. I thought I had a picture of us performing, but alas, can not find it right now. Michelle played vielle and used her dramatic skills in every performance. :-)

Fisher's Fair

In order of actual happening.... First, Annette and I get to Indianapolis and go get some food at the Steak & Shake.... Then we run to pick up Al at the airport and he wants so Steak & Shake, so we go back. This time Annette and I share a deliciously rich chocolate shake with tons of fudgy goo all over it..... mmmmmm
Then we arrive at our hosts' home. This is their dog, Casey. What a cutie! And what a beautiful home, and what wonderful people. This was a second year fair that brought over 16,000 people thru the gates. Our hosts were the folks in charge.This was our stage. We shared it with some great acts and invited the tribal dance group to come dance with one of our sets. We enjoyed great weather and great food.... You could get almost anything out here! And not all of it fried on a stick :-)

Colorado concerts

I know I already said these went well, but I also said we had pictures.... This first shot is of the beautiful concert hall we performed at Colorado State University. The faculty and staff were fabulous and the audience was very appreciative and great to chat with after the concert. By the way, we also enjoyed our trip to downtown Fort Collins. It was like Austin's Sixth Street, only cleaner, better lit, more variety of shops and restaurants and clubs and plenty of parking!

We performed in a small church in Denver for our Colorado Early Music Performance. They baked us a cake! An incredibly enthusiastic audience of early music lovers. Fabulous conversation and cake after the concert.... CAKE!

After the concerts, we got a free day. Well, Ginna went home and Al, Annette, and I stayed an extra day to see beautiful Colorado. Ginna and her family had vacationed in the Estes Park for years. My family did too back when we had relatives living in the area. So I took Annette and Al to the places I remembered. We went to Estes Park and ate lunch at the one place we could find remotely close parking. I had forgotten how crazy it gets in town on the weekends.
This is Annette while Al was driving! Very scary -- just kidding, Al :-)
And here is us at Bear Lake. OK.... it was SNOWING on us!!! It was pretty cold, but I wasn't complaining. Compared to the scorching heat we had left in Texas, Al and I were a little glad to be freezin' our rears off. Mom & Dad & well, everybody else in my family should recognize this spot. I also got a shot of us on THE rock that we always turned into our family portrait center.

iRiver returns

First, let me introduce another addiction of mine. This is my new iRiver. I "lost" my first one which was only plain ol' grey while I was in Las Vegas ("lost" cuz I'm not convinced that it was my fault... I am 95% sure I left it in a specific place in my hotel room). The best feature about this puppy is that it records... and it records pretty darned well for such a teensy little thing. I can then take the recordings and download them to my computer, put them on CD or email them or post them on my website or whatever.... Super easy. And of course it also acts like an iPod in that it can carry your tunes without having to carry around CDs.... the whole set up fits in your pocket and runs on one little AAA battery.... So there!

Monday, October 02, 2006

no problems

Just wanted to let you know that trash cans at the airport are perfectly OK. AND trash cans officially make great drum cases. The drum survived very well. Security asked what was in the trash can, but did not inspect it - of course there is absolutely no metal and the whole thing weighs about 12 pounds. By the way, this is not the first drum case I have designed. I have a small tabor that fits in a "Homer bucket" from Home depot. I made a canvas wrap for it just in case the lid popped off. So there you have it. A $5 solution to travelling with drums.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Checking Luggage

I will be getting on a plane to Indiana tomorrow and checking these two items... A trash can which contains a large tabor drum and my small suitcase (the size people like to cram in the overhead compartments). This is the first time I am checking the trash can. First, I hope the tabor survives. Second, I hope trash cans aren't signature tools of terrorists which would then warrant blowing up the trash can to see what's inside. Third, I hope it fits in the rental car when we get there! I'm traveling alone this time.... should be entertaining.

More Italy

One of the smaller fountains... kinda cute, huh?
From the top of the Spanish Steps looking down at the tons of tourists. It is September - I can't imagine what this place was like in tourist season!

At the top of St. Peter's Cathedral. We valliantly climbed all the way to the top... and paid seven Euro for the priviledge. It was worth it.
There are shrines on nearly every corner. Some with pictures, some with statues, some with candles....
Well, not everything Italy is pretty. Dan loves this statue. He says it is the ugliest statue in the world. I'll take his word for that.

Italian Cats

Italy has alot of cats. Italy has a no-kill policy, which for those of us familiar with animal shelter life is the ultimate goal of cities everywhere. Who wants to kill animals? So cities and organizations in the US set up spay and neuter programs and other pet education programs to get pet populations under control. Italy seriously lacks in these programs. Veterinarians there actually encourage people to allow their animals to breed. More animals means more vet care means more money for vets. Forget that there are not enough people or homes to care for all of these cats.
These cats, here in this post, live at the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. It is actually a big archealogical dig site in the city. It is below street level and has underground tunnels so the cats found that they could hide and be safe there. Cat ladies started feeding the starving scared cats and today it is a full scale rescue operation. The organization does adoptions and educates the public about spaying and neutering and does what they can to provide a safe life for these cats in a not so perfect living environment. Most of these cats are abandoned house cats (about 300 cats) and kittens. Some desperately seek attention... others seclude themselves in the ruins. Most of the cats only live a few years in these conditions.
Dan adopted Sky, the cat in his lap, in their adoption at a distance program. Sky is an OLD guy, and likes to mark his territory, so he will not be going home with anybody. But hopefully, he will find laps to lounge in and now he can buy treasures with his allowance from Dan.

Italy pictures

Rome, the land of a gagillion HUGE statues.
The Colloseum.... Take note of the huge crowd of tourists waiting to go in.
What would Italy be without it's fabulously rich food.... mmmmmmm.
Ah, such teensy cars.... and driven more like bumper cars with nine lives.
Ruins ruins everywhere.... so many that they really don't know what do with them all.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


We got home from Italy last night. We stayed in Rome the whole six days. With our hotel downtown, we just walked and walked and walked all over the center of the city. We did take the subway a couple of times, but only because it seemed like fun and I had never been on a subway.

I think Rome has more statues than people. Statues, fountains and shrines to St. Mary were the constant theme of the city. And sure, that seems fairly obvious, but until you see the AMOUNT of these things. It really is incredible. Oh and the mosaics and paintings were rather abundant too. The city is one huge museum. It makes it difficult to believe that people actually live there. Of course there are ruins from the Roman times of Caesar, and we visited those. I'll be posting some pictures very soon :-)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

new website

I won't go into the psychotic episodes that it took to get a new website going.... I'll just say, it's now partially on the web! Woohoo. I have tons of things to do to it, but I only have the rest of the day to do them as I leave for ROME tomorrow :-)

Hopefully, today I can put new buttons on the page and get the buttons to link properly. AND I will take off the song I put on the page. I like it but alas, it's not mine and I didn't mean to put it up there.... It was labeled "track 2" and so is a song that I am singing which I thought I was experimenting with....

When I get home, I will hopefully add music and fill in the text blanks that I have left.

We had a great time in Colorado and took tons of pictures. Both concerts went really well and had very wonderful audiences.... I'm ready for another round!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Website down

Hey! I'm in the process of putting my site on a new host. It was all going well until I arrived in Houston and looked to see if it was still there.... and it seems to have fallen off the web.... oops. There's not a thing I can do about it until I get home next week. So I'm posting here in case anyone is curious :-)

Singing Telegrams of Austin: That's me :-) I am unavailable for telegrams thru October 17. I'll be back in town between stops for only a couple of days during this month. Feel free to email me or call if you have questions... I will return your call / email as computer and phone availability allow. 512-905-2783

OK... That's it for now. I might try some audio blogging while I'm out on this journey. I won't know how they sound till I get home. hmmmm....

OHHHH Did you check out my new MySpace? I just put it up about a week ago! Michelle Levy just put on up too, so click on her picture in my friend space when you get a chance.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The pictures

Here's Al & me with Constantia, Ailsa & Conna. Love you guys!! That's the really cool Flemish coif I got from Historic Enterprises!
Kevin and Al walking off the battle field after marching Dark Moon into battle. That's a big drum, huh?
A very fine looking couple.... Richard & Melanie
The tiniest tent in the entire place. Forever known as "The Chastity Tent" as only one person can actually fit into it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back home

I made it back to Texas on Saturday, however, I had stayed up until 1:30 AM drinking David's home-made Braggot (beerish thing with 8% alcohol) and then had to be up by 6AM to pack up wet tents and make it to the airport where higher security meant hanging out in lines for even more time. So.... I got to Al's house (in Houston) where we had to unload and re-sort our junk. After we finished that, it was time for a nap. I slept from 7PM till 7:30AM. There is a Panera Bread near Al's house so I made us go over there before I drove my way back to Austin.

So, the trip.... Pennsylvania. We had a blast and learned alot. This event was huge. More than 11,000 people camping, living, eating, breathing, showering, singing, battling in a space of about one square mile. They call this Pennsic War XXXV. We wore some sort of medieval garb all the time except for those 4 AM bathroom run where my garb was reduced to a wool cloak and neon green fuzzy slippers. Various "kingdoms" from across the country had encampments - some very elaborate with guards posted by the stone gates of thet kingdom's camp. Other kingdoms were more relaxed, but whether relaxed or formal, most were very welcoming, friendly and quick to share their beer or food with us wandering lowly musicians.

We went to the war as "Istanpitta" in two forms.... one was a loud form which should have been dubbed "Tar-Pitta" as it was actually a combination of Tartanic and Istanpitta. The music came from both groups, the players came from both groups, but the experience in loud stuff came from Tartanic's two players, Richard and Kevin (Nevik). Both of these palyers are also former members of a group called Wolgemut who was also there at Pennsic. Richard is a professional piper. He is (as he should be) fabulous. He has a collection of unusual bagpipes which I will not describe today as I haven't eaten breakfast yet. But not only does he own these unusual and crude works of art, but he can actually play them.... very well. Kevin, or Nevik as many know him, is the single most musical musician on percussion I have ever seen. He played a big ol' huge loud tupan. He had a fabulous energetic stage presence that was not a gimic but an addition to the music. Kevin graciously let me beat the living tar out of a little drum all week until the last day when my arm hurt so badly that I could hardly raise it. I had a blast and strangely enough, I learned ALOT just doing the simple things I was doing and listening to the changes, patterns, dynamics and stops that Kevin used. Al worked his keister off keeping up with those two. Richard replaced reeds to make Al's instruments louder which meant Al had to work even harder. It was great! hee hee. No, I'm not saying I enjoyed seeing him suffer :-) ..... It was good for both of us to be so challenged and to work so hard to adapt to new things on the spot.

The other Istanpitta was Al on saz or whatever other soft instrument he pulled out of a bag and me singing and playing riq, the nice drum. We had a great time in our comfort zone and did do a couple of evening gigs as the duo Istanpitta. Most evenings we gigged as the loud version and had an amazing time.

We met up with many friends that Al knows from past events and I have met at out various fairs over the last few years. Our wonderful friends from Calontir played with us and always seemed ready to offer us a beer :-) . No, wait, they WERE always offering us beer. Al spoke at Constantia's laureling ceremony for her fabulous musical skills, and Al & I played a drinking song for David's laureling in the art of beer making (Conna's husband). Anyway, we always look forward to hanging out with and playing with the "Calontinis" as we call them.... although I think it is formally "The Juniper Consort". I'll have to look that up. Move to St. Louis and maybe they will let you play in their musical ensemble! Just kidding - they are really very serious and strict with who plays. Unless you have a beer. No, really, you gotta be good. Eddie Izzard has entered the blog. Eddie and Elvis..... (inside joke(s) - sorry, had to do it!)

I can't even begin to tell you about all the new friends we made.... mostly because people like to use these crazy names that I can't pronounce much less spell or remember long enough to put them in the blog. But anyway, Vince the hammered dulcimer player was there (we know him from the St. Louis fair). Also met a couple of Alex's who were both very sweet. The Alex of Historic Enterprises - THANK YOU and the rest of Historic Enterprises for putting up with the noise..... AND thank you SOOOOO much for the most awesome Flemish coif. The other Alex, it was a delight to meet you - I so hope that our paths cross again. Melanie, you'll get the cool coif next year!

Al and I have been talking about returning as Istanpitta in a quieter but no less energetic form with vielle/fiddle, recorder/shawm and Al and myself..... Richard and Kevin should add another fabulous piper and go crazy. Whatever happens, I plan on incorporating alot of what we learned this week into Istanpitta's regular sets.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Great day for telegrams

I guess I had time for one more entry before I leave town.
I ended up with three great telegrams today. The first was for a man's 60th birthday. A big party was thrown, but his wife could not be there, so she sent me to sing a love song. Everyone thought it was incredibly sweet and he seemed to truly appreciate it too. Then a romantic man took me to his wife. They have been married 20 years. He brought flowers and a movie camera to capture the event. And finally a 50th wedding anniversary. The couple's son asked me to sing "The Eyes of Texas". When I asked if he would also like some love song or anything else, he replied that this is "their" song, the most romantic song they know! True UT fans.
Time to finish packing......

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

catch up

Chicago was great. It had cooled off considerably by the time we got there and two little rain bursts on Sunday kept it even more pleasant.
I came home Tuesday and did a telegram and a performance with Ceridwyn. Both went great. Ceridwyn and I worked up quite a few new songs from the last time we performed and they all came off great. I have a similar day planned Thursday.... Telegram, performance and travel. This time I drive to Houston where Al and I will combine packing efforts to be sure we can get all of our camping gear in the airline allotted luggage quotas. This Pennsylvania trip is a week of camping and music and friends. I know I will have a blast, but I plan on being completely exhausted when I return.
So about the catching up..... I don't think it's going to happen till I come home after this next trip. I have so many things to practice and study, but alas, it will have to wait. oh well. It may be a while before I blog again..... take care :-)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Next stop: Chicago

South Elgin to be exact. 
In the Irish front, The Austin group is blazing thru lessons. Because I will miss the next three classes, I did several lessons this week to pre-catch up. It's going amazingly well. I said a few entries ago that I should have five songs ready for the next song session. I was kinda joking, but I have 4 songs in Irish pretty much ready to go and another 3 well on their way. I picked up another Irish song book when I was in Connecticut. So now I have tons of tunes to choose from.
In GreenGabriel news, we have 3 performances scheduled for August. We have a pretty strong set of repertoire. We've added harmonies and have many songs in the wings. Before we know it, it will be time to start working on holiday music.
Last Saturday, I did four and a half hours of massage for a WONDERFUL spa party. A group of friends and daughters got together and ate fabulous food, got massages, did pedicures, and when spa time was over the husbands and young children came over for a barbeque. Everyone was so wonderful. The whole idea was fantastic. What a way to spend a summer day!
Otherwise, same ol' practicing fun.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I'm home! Two and a half weeks in Connecticut at the Amherst Early Music Festival workshop eating cafeteria food and sleeping in an un-air conditioned dorm room and listening to nearly non-stop concerts and performances...... I had a great time and met some great people. I met people from all over the world. I learned a lot and sang a ton and even played frame drums. I danced at the party and laughed so hard I was crying at the same party when a trio of dancers decided to launch their interpretive dance careers. I have a few pictures from this party.... I'll post them later. Now it's time to get back into my own practicing and studying routine.

Monday, July 03, 2006


On the first Sunday of every month at Things Celtic, there is an Irish song session. Not a tune session where everyone sits around playing instruments, but songs.... singing. I finally got to go yesterday. It's been months since I was able to make it. Because I had known it would be this way, I had set a goal to be able to sing a song for this session in Irish because I've been taking classes since January.... and I did! My first public performance of a song in Irish. Iwon't be able to go next month, so two months from now, I should have five songs!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Greatest Vegetable

is....... GARLIC!
I have shared a recipe on my blog before, and today I would like to share another..... mmmmm.... garlic. So, I still have vegetables in the fridge. And actually, Dan and I went to the grocery store and I purchased even more vegetables. Todays recipe involves spinach, feta cheese, garlic, and mushrooms.... Sorry, Ceridwyn, I know you hate the fun guys, but I love those guys almost as much as garlic. So I started by chopping a BIG clove of garlic into a pan with just a very small bit of butter. Real butter - like the kind that is too hard to spread on sqishy white bread... well, that goes into a whole other story. And the garlic simmers..... Ahhhhhhh smell the tasty vegetable. Then throw in the mushrooms and spinach until they are good and dead. Now..... drum roll..... throw in a bit of feta cheese just long enough to warm up and oh, baby..... mmmmm...... Put this delicious concoction into a bowl and eat it with some crackers. Meow.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

8 days to go

Eight days until I leave for Connecticut. I am thankfully doing work study, and I got accepted to do the Machaut project. I got my first assignment which is to learn this song and play a drum with it. For those people with the natural ability to play guitar or drum while you sing..... I'm not one of you. I am comforted having heard from several now successful musicians who once struggled with this whole skill just like I do. I am also thrilled that this is getting infinitely easier with every new attempt. Anyway, I will be gone from the 9th to the 24th. And then, Istanpitta will be going to a fair near Chicago the first weekend of August and then, August 11 thru 19th, Istanpitta is going to be playing till our fingers bleed in Pennsylvania.
I originally thought this summer was going to be so boring. It has turned out to be very busy.... and very exciting and tons of fun.
I don't know if I mentioned this on this blog, but Ceridwyn and I have started a project called The GreenGabriel Project. We are learning songs and adding harmonies to old favorite sing alongs and stuff. We plan to go to nursing facilities, retirement homes and anywhere else that people may not be able to leave easily. Today we did our first performance as a duet. It was fabulous. We are going to continue to post our adventures on our blog.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


So Sunday night I went to a little gathering of some Texas Early Music Project people. These people know how to eat... but that's not the point of my story. About the time I was ready to head out, I was asked why I wasn't going to Amherst (a big early music summer camp for big kids). I knew it existed but really had never given it much thought. Between the distance and the cost and the time and my lightly employed state, I usually don't entertain ideas like that for long. When I got home, I decided to just look it up, check out the dates and cost. The dates are perfect. With work-study I might be able to afford it. In under 24 hours the decision had pretty much been made to go on this two week workshop in Connecticut. I've never been up in that area. The closest airport is actually in Rhode Island. I got word this morning that I've been accepted for work study. I'm thrilled. This will be alot of fun. I'll get to meet lots of people and I'll get to learn stuff about some of the music I already perform - I kinda do these things backward, but I'm slowly catching up.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Home Hot Home

This year in Minnesota was a dream come true. The weather on Saturday was almost cold. The high was about 63 after all. And Sunday may have reached about 70. I can report no sweat at all. No heat related crankiness or stinkiness!
The fair had grown very nicely since last year. There were at least twice as many vendors most of which were very unusual hand made goods.... the same for the food booths. Although turkey legs were available (they are known here as "dragon drums"), you could also order homemade "beastless sausage" that was awesome. YUM!! No cheesecake on a stick here, instead you could have homemade lemon cheese curd pie. yum!! This is one of those fairs that lacks that grease cloud in the air that you smell at most huge fairs.

Istanpitta: Laura MacKenzie, Al Cofrin, and Me

Jamming in the pub with "Clan Tartan" A very authentic encampment set up. That coupled with very nice people made hanging out in the pub a pleasure.
Jousting!!! Too Cute! Saturday, Children wore these stuffed horse get up. Sunday, Adults were participating which was even sillier.
Miniature horse named Curtis.
Pirate down! Our friends of "My Lady's Cutlass" were often found lounging in the meadow or playing pirate with children or at the back of our audience demanding "Como Poden" a song that we both love to perform. Most of our show times were exactly the same so it was hard to support each other, but we still enjoyed their company.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

MN, here we come

We just got word that the expected high HIGH for Saturday is 62!!!! Alleluia!! I'll try to bottle it up and bring it home for everyone. Ahhhhhhhhh.... 62.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Solo Show

I answered an ad on Craig'sList a few weeks ago. The Special Care Program Director had placed an ad looking for musicians to come play for the Alzheimer's residents. She was able to offer food and gas money for someone to come play or sing for 30 minutes or so. New musicians were encouraged to contact her. This sounded like a fantastic way for me to try out singing with Molly (the Octave Mandolin). I’m not new to singing, but singing and playing at the same time....
She responded to my email and I called her. I told her the types of songs I knew -- songs from the 20's-40's, musicals, early music, and Irish music. We set a date and I started practicing. I made a list of 8 songs that I sing acapella with my singing telegrams and made a list of 6 more that I thought I might be able to strum simple chords to. It was quite a variety -- everything from "A Bicycle Built for Two" to "Amor ch'Attendi".
So today was the big day. 2:30 was the big time. I paced the house all morning. So I practiced and practiced. Then I left the house at 2:00 arriving just a little early. I was directed thru the securely locked doors into the wing for the Alzheimer's residents and into a cozy room with lots of couches and relaxing chairs. The staff brought in the people who smiled and hugged me and welcomed me and the show began…. My nerves wore off before I even started to sing. These were sweet people, friends. I sang and played my entire list telling them all about each song and how I came to learn it and why I like it, just as if this was a big performance that would warrant such banter. Some of the songs actually do have good stories, like "Begin the Beguine". A man had contacted me to sing for his wife for their anniversary. He requested this song because his wife sang it in a choir when they were both children. It was the first time their paths had crossed. Anyway, the half hour went by without a problem. Even the few mess ups I made (I know it’s hard to believe I could ever mess up), I covered pretty well or made a joke out of it. They enjoyed the songs, and sang along with many of them. A couple of times someone would tell me the first time they ever heard that song. It was really a fantastic experience. I’m looking forward to the next time. Ceridwyn and I are getting together next week to build up a duet for just this type of audience. Maybe we will turn into a worldwide tour…. OK maybe just an Austin-wide tour…. Still a tour. I’m thinking t-shirts and posters and…..

Monday, June 05, 2006

Holy Porkchops, What a Week

So last weekend was Greater St. Louis Ren Faire. I realized as the plane was taking off that I had forgotten to mail my Dad's birthday card and/or to bring it with me to put in the mail. His birthday was Tuesday the 30th, so I thought I would mail it late and call him..... to be continued.....

St. Louis was great but HOT. St. Louis does experience Texas style heat, but not usually this early in the year. Saturday the medics were very busy with heat exhausted people, and I think they said 2 or 3 people actually went away in an ambulance. Sunday was only cooler by one or two degrees, but people got smarter.

We shared the stage with The Limeybirds and with a bellydance troop (which unfortunately a week has taken their name away from my fried little brain). The belly dancers are local and they are great hosts to us every year. The Limeys are three funny, zainy, and brilliant ladies who were a lot of fun to hang out with back stage while we all tried to fend off the heat as much as possible.

Sunday night we went to Conna's house for a barbeque party. Conna and Constance play recorder and this year had a different third player with them who's name has slipped my mind, but I'm sure someone!!!! will remind me! Conna had nuns visiting from Bolivia. She took Sister Anne and Sister Clara all over St. Louis and brought them to the fair and to our show and the Limey show. We did our Santa Maria set for them and the Limey's did their R rated set :-) The barbeque was a blast. The food was fantastic and plentiful. Thank's to Conna's hubby for that. The musicians of the party showed off instruments mainly Al's new Krumhorn and Conna's practice Krumhorn. Which soon became nun party favors. Sister Anne now has an idea for the first ever Bolivian Nun marching Krumhorn band.

We returned Monday afternoon. Heather and I nearly died on the airplane that sat still with no AC for what seemed like eternity and a half. I just had to keep from making eye contact with anyone for fear I might become psychotic and then get kicked off the plane. We eventually took off and the "crank factor" reduced. Got home right at 10PM and crashed (me, not the plane).

Tuesday, made it to the Toot by 8:45 for morning coffee duty. I did work study to pay for the couple of classes I took. It's a good thing the work didn't involve many brain cells because my brain was JELLO. I took a morning lute song class and sang "Come Again, Sweet Love". Amy Brumley.... or rather, DR. Amy Brumley was really great to me and the other singers of the morning. Very good suggestions and great vocal coaching techniques.
Later I took a baroque duet class..... which proved my lack of brain cells. I was totally incapable of singing my part. Luckily my duet partner, Valerie, was kind enough not to get to upset with me. Then came the class I had been preparing for - Commedia dell'Arte Theatre Project. We ran thru the first half of the show which included my one song. My song was a complete disaster. It was absolutely the scariest musical experience of my life. I sat backstage afterward thinking, what have I done?!? How do I command the orchestra? And of course this was the first time they played the piece. We were not even in the same universe in any respect. But of course, quitting was not an option..... I meantally coached myself into just singing it as if nothing else mattered. The orchestra would either play along or not, it wouldn't matter. And I also came up with the idea of singing it in the morning lute class. Three of the orchestra members were also in that class. At least then, someone would know what my plan was.
After that class it was time to usher and set up for the Flanders Recoder Quartet concert. Oh wow!!! They were incredible. Each member alone was spectacular and their ensemble work was second to none. Afterward, everyone got Amy's ice cream.... YUM! Made it home just after 10. Dad's birthday passed.... I managed to get the card in the mail, but :-(

Wednesday.... back to the toot by 8:45. I felt better this day and was able to manage my duties without too much problem. In lute class we did practice my theater solo and Ohhhhhhh, did I feel a million times better. Baroque duet class was infinitely better as well. I think I managed to sing notes that were actually on the page this time. And the theater class was not nearly so frightening, although I'm not sure I'm ever going to remember this seven word name I'm supposed to spit out. After that, I drove to Houston. Made it there by about 9 and really only wanted to go to sleep, but we created our set list and lesson plan.

Thursday.... up and at 'em about 7:30. Gotta make sure we can make it to Panera Bread for breakfast before our gig at 10:ish. The gig was for about 60 elementary aged children at a Catholic private school. It was Medieval Day. Our plan went off without a hitch. We did both of our Santa Maria stories. The porkchop and the rabbit bone story with the greatest actor ever, 2nd grader, Patrick who played the food loving man who dies but later chokes up the rabbit bone ..... ew gross! Michelle, Al and I managed to quickly squeeze in lunch before I headed back to Austin. I gave myself 3 hours and 15 minutes, but rain made the trip 3 hours and 45 minutes. I was totally late for the theater class, and I wasn't the only one. We did what we could and got an hour break before dress rehearsal.

Friday..... 9-2 had a massage gig for a health fair. It went great- my 5 hour schedule was filled up with people within the first half hour. Everyone was fabulous. Then time for our final theater class before our real performance. Still not getting that 7 word name right..... I'm beginning to lose hope on that. 6:30 we all get dressed and made up. Me in my clown costume and mustache. We had a completely full house. The show came off fabulously. I did screw up twice.... big time..... but dressed in a clown suit, no one was really sure if I meant to do one of the screw ups (which was to forget my lines that cued the orchestra to start playing my song- I ended up just telling them to start.) And the other was the 7 word name. This being an Itallian type show, it would have been nice if itallian foods came to my mind (I could have added various Itallian foods to the name and managed to get 7 words crammed in there somehow), but instead Pei Wei came to mind and Capitano Bernardino Lemon Pepper Chicken Spavento was born - someone thought I added Pimentos in that list, but I don't really remember too much now. I managed to make it home about 10:30.

Saturday.... Ceridwyn and I went to Arlington for the Scottish Festival. Girls' weekend of kilts, bagpipes and a very cute bass guitarist with the most adorable blonde curls.
We made it home before 8 on Sunday..... more about our adventures will be posted on the Green Gabriel Blog. Lots of great bands and I did mention the curly haired bass player from Canada, right?

Now it's Monday. I have to put away all the junk I have dragged out and packed and re packed and not had time to put away. Back to my list of practicings and I'll be leaving for Minnesota Friday morning.

Friday, May 26, 2006


I just had some photos taken by Billy Baque. Last night he sent me 6 of the pictures..... I'm impressed. I was impressed before, but now.... When we met he had two books of his work. One was more or less ordinary people but in very interesting settings (nature settings, stairs, weddings, couples)... the other was purely art. They were all fabulous. I was really excited to see what he might be able to do for me. He did not disappoint. Billy has a no-nonsense approach. He takes in the surroundings and sees what he wants. He would place me in that scenery and take one single shot.... then move on to the next. I am not a model (he works with professionals as well, which made me wonder also how he would handle an ordinary, relatively shy girl like me). On the few shots that needed a little directing, he was able to direct me with quick and simple directions as to how to angle my head, how much smile to give, etc, without creating a forced looking product. We spent under an hour in the Arboretum and about 20 minutes wandering downtown. There was not a moment wasted.
Billy's website just had a facelift. He has three different slideshows up currently. It's worth a couple of minutes of your life, I promise!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

To St. Louis

Heather and I head out from Austin tomorrow to meet up with Al in St. Louis for the Greater St. Louis Ren Faire. The three of us had a great time last year. This year, I have been put in charge of navigation, because we all know I get a wee bit cranky when people pretend to know where they are going, but are actually only faking it and end up spending twice as long getting from the airport to the hotel than necessary. In Istanpitta terms, this is known as the "Crank Factor". Crank Factor is also influenced by lack of food. I have a bag full of peanut butter, crackers, single serve fruits, and protein bars to maintain a healthy level of pleasantness. It should be a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Surely I have better news than my last post. Maybe I should have presented it more as a public service announcement.
Let's see. Nope. Not much here.
I did do a very fun telegram today. It was for a 40th birthday at a fairly loud & busy bar. A really nice group of people.
The concerts went well last week, and rehearsals are going well this week for the concert on Saturday. Really well, actually. I am very impressed by the quality that is expected and the specific direction Dr. Sheppard is able to give in order to get the best out of the choir. This wasn't meant to be an advertisement, but I think it will really be worth your evening. Gotta say that my favorite beat in the whole piece is on page 163 in the chorus "Hear us, our God". The whole chorus booms the word "death" at absolutely the same millisecond, tone, volume, etc. It gives me goosebumps. There's lots of great spots, but for some reason that one note stands out above all else. Isn't that weird?!?
OK, that was pretty much it. Have a great week!

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Tasty garnish or nose hair epilator?

Not even sure if I should tell this story.... First let me say that I know what wasabi is. At least I wasn't told that it was mint ice cream like someone else I know.... or Japanese style guacamole. I've eaten my share of raw fishes with a bit of wasabi and soy sauce - YUM! Today, I decided I could handle my sushi just a little warmer than my normal wimpy white girl ways. I dabbed a bit on my sushi roll and popped it in my mouth, yummy!.... But I can go hotter. So I dabbed a bit more on the next bite. Wow! That's some bite. I chose not to eat my slice of ginger and went for bite number three with the same increased amount of wasabi. Holy &%$#@! I literally jumped out of my chair. My nose had to have spontaneously combusted. Surely, all my nose hairs are now gone. I immediately returned to my usual wimpy white girl ways and enjoyed the rest of my sushi. Although I took each bite with an air of suspicion. That stuff is nuclear (pronounced NOO-kyuh-ler.)

Now, really, how does it DO that?!?!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Masters Degree

Yes, I'm back on that subject. Here's a little talking to myself episode.

I'm beginning to think I will keep coming back to this until I truly explore the options. What's holding me back? Money, mainly. So you say, sure, but there's grants and scholarships out there..... So I say, for me? You think so? Where do I look? Who do I ask? ..... Well, I plan to solve this one. I'm going to do some visiting and asking and snooping. So what else is holding me back? I have lots of goals.... a lot of goals. If I go back to school, I know all of my time and energy will be spent researching and preparing for classes in the great neurotic fashion that I attack everything. So unless I have a class involving instruments, my instruments will likely sit in the corner collecting dust. I can't do that right now. I'm too close to actually being able to play. Once I've acheived a playing level, I think I will feel comfortable letting go of that practice time.... in maybe a year? Something else that will get placed on the shelf will be celtic music and my Gaelic classes. I don't really want to set that aside right now, but probably in a year that won't be a big problem. Next issue is the audition process and the whole "do I know enough about what I want to get into in school?". This one is solvable too. I actually would like to put a short program of material together and get a taste of research this summer. If I feel good about that, I think the rest of this will all fall into place.

Gee, I feel better. It's all possible.... It's all workable.... Fall 2007..... hmmmm..... only a few years from being Dr. Green. Ooo La La!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

And it's SOLD!

The little house is all grown up and going out on its own. There is a contract on it with about 4 people in line in case something happens to this first guy. I think Dan did good.