Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mr. Kittehson goes a-viking

Late this afternoon I was sitting at My desk in bare feet, a pair of fresh socks at the ready, as I was doing paperwork and making phone calls.  A certain fuzzy-butted cat by the name of Frey Kittehson was My lovely assistant, dusting the keyboard with his tail and strolling in front of the tax guide I was trying to read.  In due course, said fuzzy-butted cat was airlifted from the desk (under protest) and relegated to the floor, whereupon he stomped off in a huff.

Work finished, I went to put on the socks and get ready for this evening's band rehearsal.

"Funny, I could've sworn I brought a pair of them..."

I searched on the desk, under the desk, under the chair.  I retraced My steps back to the bedroom where I had picked up the socks, thinking that perhaps I had left one in the sock basket or dropped it on the floor.  Nada.  I shrugged, donned a different pair, and headed downstairs and out with My clarinets.

Several hours later, upon My return to Astrejurhof, I found the missing sock.

In the middle of the living room carpet.

Covered in burrs.

I'm not quite sure why Frey decided to steal one of My socks, and even more puzzled about how it wound up 50 feet away, on a different floor of the house, covered in plant matter that to My knowledge does not grow inside the house.

He's good.  He's real good.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


For some reason, I am terrified of arpeggios.  I suspect this started back in the 1960s when I was taking piano lessons.  They were the Weird Chord Things, totally unlike the solid and broken triad chords, and seemed so much harder that My brain just froze and never did thaw out.

It's telling that I can whip off a C# minor harmonic scale, 2 octaves, on piano and clarinet, from memory.  Show Me a C major arpeggio and plunk the sheet music right in front of Me, and My brain just goes "Uh... no.  Not doing that."

This is something up with which I will not put.  Stay tuned for Springy G Versus the Arpeggios from Hell.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It kinda grows on you.

It's taken over a week to sit down and craft My traditional "Welcome to spring!" message.  It's not that I like procrastinating; it's that --

-- Oh, I admit it!  I've been stalling for time because I couldn't think of anything charmingly divine to say about this somewhat lacklustre season.  Everything had nicely thawed out, the crows were high up in the elm trees building their nests, and I was chatting with the DeeDee Birds and the robins and that obnoxious little red squirrel who sits on the Hydro line and screams bloody murder at the cats.

This being Winnipeg, of course it had to snow.  That can really take the spring out of Springy G's step, especially when I'm tiptoeing across a sheet of ice in the twilight gloom with a knapsack full of clarinet gear and two bags of groceries.

What else could I do?  I made the rounds of the usual places that I cause trouble on the Internet, and  tootled melodiously on My clarinets, and played round after round of Mah Jong and FreeCell and Spider solitaire, pausing occasionally to sigh heavily, look out the window, and go "Meh."

I think the tide is finally turning.  The snow we got last week is almost melted, and I've heard a few cautious caws and chirps from My avian neighbours.  It isn't time to roll up the sleeves and start mucking about in the garden -- still too much muck for My tastes -- but I can see the light at the tunnel.

And it isn't on a snowplow, either.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sir, I shall always be in your debt.

Upon the occasion of the death of Sir George Martin, I'm reminded of how his work changed My life back in 1963.  The first seconds of "She Loves You" by the Beatles erased an actual terror of music -- possibly caused by hearing a pipe organ in a church when very young -- and replaced it with love.

I went on to spend over 50 years listening, studying, performing, recording, DJing in college radio, and trying out one instrument after another before finally deciding upon woodwinds and keyboards.  Playing clarinet, saxophone and piano in community bands for the last 5 years has opened up something so huge that I now can't imagine not having it as part of My life.

I owe George Martin a debt that can only be repaid one way -- With music.

Okay, I'm crying now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Deus wrecks machina

I'm not exactly sure when or why I became the Goddess of Random Equipment Malfunctions.  I think it was largely a matter of "It's a dirty job, but Someone has to do it."

Or not do it, as the case may be.  If I have any divine power at all, that power consists largely of finding things to be in charge of that don't actually need My help.

Exhibit #1:  The Vernal Equinox, but only in the Northern hemisphere.  Essentially all I have to do is a ceremonial "Ta-Dah!" whenever a northbound sun crosses the equator, and then get back to playing Minesweeper or whatever the heck I was doing the moment before the Equinox.

Exhibit #2:  Chocolate.  Chocolate happens, whether or not I'm there to buy it, eat it, cook with it, or wax poetic about it.

Exhibit #3:  Punctuation.  This is mostly under control, thanks to wonderful books like The Elements of Style (Strunk & White) and Eats, Shoots and Leaves (Lynne Truss).

Now, about those random equipment malfunctions...

It's appropriate that I drive a car with an intermittent trunk latch release lever and a digital dashboard clock that only shows the time near the end of a really, really long drive.

Speaking of clocks, the digital clock on My microwave is apparently conducting some sort of relativity experiment in cahoots with the cable TV box and the stove, because it consistently sneaks a minute or two ahead of them no matter how often I adjust it.

My tenure on Earth is noteworthy for devices spontaneously breaking or un-breaking for no apparent reason, and sometimes for no reason at all.  I've had elevators stop and wait for Me when I called out "Wait wait wait!"  Street lights blink out just as I'm driving underneath them.  I've sweet-talked a photocopier into giving Me copies when everyone else thought it was broken.  I once walked into a computer lab, and the computer I had come to fix started working the moment I appeared in the doorway.  Coffee machines jam.  Printers catch fire.  Ovens regard the control panel as some sort of choose-your-own-adventure book, baking the cake at 214°F instead of 325°F.

I also get a feeling of impending doom every time I get a new day job, pay raise or other financial windfall.  That's the cue for a whole wave of Random Equipment Malfunctions as moribund machinery and ancient appliances seize the opportunity to demand divine intervention.  January 1989 was particularly bad, costing Me a water heater element and a pump for the washing machine.  I managed to fix the toaster for free, by giving it a good cleaning and bending a lever back into place, but it was a close one.

No, I have no clue how this works.  I'm not omniscient.  I do, however, know exactly where My toolbox is at all times.

Friday, December 4, 2015

You like... what?

(Springy G comes limping in with two chocolate-covered graham cookies and a hot buttered rum toddy, and slouches into Her desk chair)

I have a confession to make.

I love baroque music.  Bach, Scarlatti, Lully, Vivaldi.  Love, love, love it.

I can't stand Handel's Messiah.

Tonight, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra played the aforementioned Handel oratorio. I'm not a stranger to the piece -- In fact, back in 1973 in My last year of high school I sang in the choir, and we performed the Hallelujah Chorus at the Christmas concert.

I had no idea the whole thing was so long.

And dreary.

And monotonous.

Oh, and did I mention 'long, dreary and monotonous'?

Essentially what you've got there is a string section condemned to play a 17th century ringtone loop, soloists with bafflingly complex vocal acrobatics, and a very well-meaning chorus singing lyrics that, while purportedly in English, are mostly incomprehensible.

In fact, in Part the Second, in a choral section entitled "All we like sheep have gone astray," My brain decided it had had quite enough of that and started rewriting the lyrics of the oratorio.

From that point onward, all I could hear was an 80-member SATB chorus cheerfully proclaiming "We like sheep!"

That's when I started to laugh, stifling the giggles in the sleeve of the long overcoat I had draped around My shoulders (+3 protection against Concert Hall air conditioning system).

After that brief candle in the darkness, it was back to the baroque ringtones for a while.

Then came the Hallelujah Chorus, and to My utter amazement, virtually everyone in the hall stood up, blocking My view of the stage.  Apparently standing for the Chorus is a thing, but I was not impressed.  I also stayed seated.  (It also didn't help that My right leg adductors had gone into spasm, so for the remainder of Messiah I was alternately massaging a sore lump in the leg muscles and trying to avoid kicking the seats in the next row.)

I finally did stand for the ovation at the end of the show,  as there was some very fine musicianship this evening.  The bass soloist, the trumpet soloist, the choir and the tympanist were particularly good.  As soon as the applause died down, though, I was out of there.

Next time Messiah comes up in My season ticket package I'm swapping it for something else.  Anything else. Literally anything else -- Tuba klezmer, impressionist punk, Finnish death metal played by a chamber music ensemble.

Hallelujah indeed.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

I didn't mead that sink anyway.

Well, that was interesting.  All I wanted to do this evening was bottle the midsummer mead -- which I did.

I wasn't expecting to spend part of the evening under the kitchen sink, 'though.

And I hadn't even tasted the mead yet.

You see, I have a useful little brass gizmo called a bottle washer, suitable for power-rinsing empty bottles before sterilizing and filling them.  In theory, you unscrew the aerator from a tap and screw this thing on instead, and then you can just fit a bottle neck over it, press gently, and bombard the inside of the bottle with hot water to rinse it out.

In theory.

Unfortunately, My kitchen faucet doesn't work like that.  This is the first batch of mead that I've brewed since the kitchen renovations, and the first time I tried to use the new sink for preparing the bottles.  I took the bottle washer out of My box of brewing equipment, unscrewed the head of the tap...

...and the hose attached to it immediately retreated up the spout and around a very long bend, taking with it the fitting that actually secures the spray hose to the spray head.  I tried fishing it out with a souvlaki skewer.  I tried banging on the pipe in various interesting ways.  I tried feeding the spray hose back up from the bottom in the hopes that it would catch on the trapped part and pull it back down to the end of the spout.  I tried poking, prodding, and even duct tape.


Then I sighed heavily and actually removed the tap, in the hopes that I'd be able to shake the part loose.  I got the correct screwdriver on the third try, an evil omen if ever there was one.  For reasons that remain a total mystery at press time, first I thought I saw a slot-head screw.  Then I thought it was a #2 Robertson screw.  It was actually a Phillips screw, so after trips downstairs and upstairs and downstairs again I had an appropriate star-head screwdriver and was able to loosen the retaining ring for the faucet.

To make a long story short, the faucet is in a gazillion pieces, the stuck part is still stuck somewhere in the pipe, and I managed to twist the hot and cold water feed hoses into such topographically improbable knots that I'm scared to use them lest they spring a leak.

In the end I washed the bottles in the bathroom sink, filled 22 of them and put them in a safe place, cleaned up the kitchen, and raised a mug to the Æsir and Vanir and called it a night.

Tomorrow morning, when the hardware store opens, I'm going to buy a new tap.

One that works with a bottle washer, of course.