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BOOKMARKS!

Hundreds of them have accumulated on my computer over the past couple of years.

Tonight I am finally grabbing the Firefox browser monkey by the neck — ripping it off my back — and starting to go through each and every bookmark to see if:

1.) …the links still work. (A surprising number of them don’t!)
2.) …I want to keep them?

For example, I have bookmarked many blogs on people’s blogrolls that I have ended up being bored with, or they haven’t posted in forever. But I keep checking!

Okay, it’s time to throw in the towel on some blogs…you haven’t posted anything since June!

Cyberspace calling Cameron! Why in the #%@^ did you bookmark this link???

I am totally amazed at the variety of, the utter mystery of, the totally inexplicable reasons why I’ve saved most of these bookmarks.

I have not revisited the majority of them since the moment I bookmarked the sites. (Except for the blog ones.)

My personal limit seems to have settled into a couple dozen blogs. How many blogs do YOU check in with each day?

Okay. Deep breath.

I’m LONG overdue for a major bookmark purge!

This is going to take a while. A long while.

The computer is just an electronic update on the file cabinet — those myriad junk drawers that we ALL have — admit it! — those piles of crap hiding in the corners of the room. Or brazenly making their presence known right at your elbow.

Surely I am not the only one to “bookmark too much”. (Is this a 21st Century version of “LOVING too much”?)

I’ve spent several hours tonight getting rid of bookmarks and have barely scratched the surface. Cyber Powers That Be, please give me the strength to continue to the bitter end!

I am very curious to know if your experience with bookmarks is similar.

I can use some moral support right now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Out here In The Woods, nighttime temperatures have dropped over the past week.

Since our arrival this summer, we’ve been sleeping in the Bunkhouse section of the barn’s add-on, the quaint white clapboard building next to the liquid amber tree seen in previous pictures.

It’s gotten down to the mid-20s recently, which is fairly frigid for a room basically open to the elements. The thermometer in this room registers the mid-30’s when we reluctantly pry ourselves out of the warm bed in the morning.

The west wall of the Bunkhouse is almost completely open, with gaping holes where windows used to be. This leads to the “summer kitchen” area, which has no insulation. Then there’s a large square opening in the kitchen wall facing the main barn itself, where you might as well be outside.

Yes, we really do live in a shack! Or more properly, “shaque”, since James has decorated this place so artfully. It’s kind of a funny juxaposition, but we love it.

One of James’ many projects this winter is to seal off the Bunkhouse wall, but there are more pressing issues to attend to first, such as building two little “houses” to shelter the new well and its pump and pressure tank.

So yesterday we decided to move our bed from the Bunkhouse into the Music Room, which is fairly-well insulated, and where we have a wood fire going in the Franklin stove most of the day. The temperature in this room generally stays at least twenty degrees warmer than outside.

It’s very nice having the bed in our main living space; cozy and intimate. We’re used to living in tiny “all-in-one” spaces, anyway, having been in an Airstream trailer full-time for many years on the road.

We both slept much better in the warmer room last night, and I particularly liked NOT having to wear a knitted cap in bed to keep my head from freezing.

Other news tidbits:

We subsisted on turkey sandwiches all day yesterday, my favorite way of eating Thanksgiving leftovers. There’s nothing quite like a turkey sandwich made from a holiday bird roasted in the oven, complete with mayonnaise, mustard and lettuce. And freshly-ground pepper. Yum!

The Steinway grand piano (built in 1906) which had belonged to my mother is due to arrive here on Saturday, after nearly a month rattling around on a moving truck somewhere between here and Bisbee, Arizona.

What a long haul! I hope the piano will be okay after all that travel-time. I certainly will have to get it tuned after the dust settles.

The piano’s arrival will make our house truly complete at last. Its home will also be in the Music Room, along with the large table we’re using for our computers, and now most recently, the bed. (And let’s not forget my horns, harps and digital keyboards.) Yes, I will take pictures!

There’s something quite hilarious about visualizing a moving truck lumbering up this steep, rutted dirt road to our place out In The Woods, bearing a Steinway grand piano. Modern pioneers!

 

James and I went down to our dear friend L.’s house in Nevada City for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday afternoon. It was also wonderful to see her old friends J. & S. who spend this holiday there almost every year (along with July 4th).

We had not seen these friends for six years, at a July 4th picnic. J. lives in San Francisco and S. lives in Oakland.

We arrived around 3:30 and the huge turkey was still in the oven. We chatted around the huge island in the kitchen, sipping wine and catching up.

 

 

 

Both J. & S. commented on how “mature” I look — yes, it’s been six years and I’m going gray! — J. said, “You’re all grown up” which made me feel anything but.

Many of the people who have not seen me in several years have made similar observations. Hmmm. My favorite comment was “Wow, you look different”. This was from a musician in San Jose who hadn’t seen me since I last played with her orchestra in 2001.

Thanks a lot! She looked different too, but I decided not to say how much weight she had gained.

 

ANYWAY…back to T-day! The food was absolutely delicious. I liked the fact that there were not a lot of dishes to choose from; just the comfortable, traditional Thanksgiving fare of turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. The only extra dish was a spinach soufleรฉ, made by J. from San Francisco. Major yum on that!

 

 

 

James was asked to carve. We joked about the (straight) man of the house, L’s long-time partner D., who chose not to carve.

 

 

 

He arranged the wonderful centerpiece, however! How straight is that? ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

 

The only two things that I would have done differently at this dinner:

1.) Not mix white and red wine. I had several glasses of white before dinner and then had a glass of red during the meal. Not a particularly congenial mix in my stomach.

2.) Have a smaller piece of pumpkin pie for dessert, with NO ice-cream. This, too, kicked back on me for hours afterwards.

Today, James and I head down to Sacramento to spend time with my brother, his wife and two kids. Well, one of them is a junior in college and the other is a senior in high school, so they’re not exactly kids now, but somehow it sounds better than “offspring” or “spawn”.

It will be great to see my niece and nephew.

Just after I wrote that sentence, my nephew actually called to ask me to bring my horn; he just got a loaner horn from his high school and wants me to check it out, and then give him a horn lesson!

Ben is already a fantastic musician; he plays bass (both upright and electric), regular guitar, piano and trombone. He’s getting paid-gigs in the Sacramento area, and is still in high school! (He’s way ahead of me…)

He also has a comprehensive grasp on music theory, and has started to compose and arrange.

He is carrying on the family musical tradition, which is very gratifying to me. I have no doubt that Ben will become a successful jazz musician. It seems to be the only thing he wants to do; he has real passion for music, and thinks of little else (until he hooks up with some girl, that is! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

He hopes to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston next year.

But wouldn’t it be cool if he takes to the horn too? I’d enjoy teaching him!

My oldest brother and his girlfriend are also coming down from the Placerville area to visit tomorrow.

We’ll stay overnight and then stop at Home Despot on our way back up the hill.

It rained most of the day yesterday, with banks of mist rolling over the wooded hills surrounding our barn. It was one of those magical, atmospheric days; cool, but not not cold in the mid-50s.

Then the skies cleared around midnight and the temperature dropped twenty degrees, to just above freezing.

After building and lighting our usual fire in the Franklin woodstove in the Music Room this morning, James went out with the camera and captured the mist, which wove its way through the foliage close to our little compound. He also got some shots of the liquid amber tree out front, which is actually still hanging in there with strong colors. They are especially vivid in the clear morning light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Outlook for Thursday November 15, 2007
Assertive Mars turns retrograde today, reminding us that progress cannot be rushed. We benefit from being patient and waiting to see where feelings lead, until Mars turns direct on January 30.

Gemini Horoscope (May 21 – Jun 20)
The next couple of months bring up financial concerns as Mars extends his stay in your 2nd House of Money. You may need to reconsider a budget that you thought would carry you through the rest of the year. Keep in mind, though, that some of your concerns might be based upon an irrational fear of not having enough, rather than on the real facts.

* * * * *

Yes, I think that Astrology has some merit, although I don’t know how much to believe. It does seem to ring true, though, more often than not.

In any case, today’s general horoscope and the specific one for my sign hit the nail on the head.

Lately, I have been getting on myself for not “doing more” and making more progress in my life. It seems that I have been in a resting phase ever since I stopped playing Phantom in mid-February. My, how the time has flown! And what do I have to show for it?

Well, MUCH has happened and a lot has been accomplished in those nine months, in fact. James and I tried Bisbee on for size, went through a lot of experimentation and drama and ultimately found the town lacking. (For us, anyway.) We then undertook the long process of moving to Northern California over the summer, and fixing up this place In The Woods enough to be habitable.

Along the way I have continued to practice horn, which is a very high-maintenance instrument. I’ll paraphrase an old musician saying which goes: “If I don’t practice for a day, I notice it. If I don’t practice for two days, my section-mates notice it. And if I don’t practice for three days, everyone notices it!”

This is really true. The lip muscles very quickly get out of shape if I don’t play the horn every day. So even though I’ve had very few gigs over the past few months, I have diligently practiced the horn. Sometimes I take one day off per week, which doesn’t set me back much.

Most successful musicians are truly married to their instruments. Thank god James is not jealous. He knows that it’s the way I’ve made my living for thirty-one years.

But if I were to take off a week or two….it would take that amount of practice-time to regain what I had lost.

During the past few months, I have also managed to compose a few pieces, and have done a little work on harp and recorders, just enough to improve on those instruments a bit.

My financial situation is not dire at the moment, although I do miss working regularly. Not just to earn money, but I always enjoyed the social aspect of playing in an orchestra. It’s a team effort, and musicians form strong bonds with one another. It’s an important part of making music together.

I keep telling myself that I need to be PATIENT, and make the most of my current “resting” phase while it lasts. Patience has never been one of my strong suits, however, so I am feeling particularly challenged now, especially after yesterday’s phone call.

This was from a music contractor in Sacramento, who offered me a day’s work in the orchestra backing up the group “Mannheim Steamroller”, which is giving a concert in Sacramento on December 6th. Unfortunately, this gig conflicts with one I have already accepted, with the Sacramento Choral Society.

This is the eternal dilemma of the freelance musician, being offered better work after accepting something else. Many people “play one gig against the other”, finding a sub or calling in sick for the original gig while accepting the more lucrative one, but this ends up backfiring more often than not. I definitely do NOT want to get that kind of reputation; I have seen too many musicians get burned.

So my professional integrity remains intact. I will play the gig that I originally agreed to do, which is five services (rehearsals/concerts) and pays only marginally more than the one I was just offered, which is only two services.

But over the long haul, it is better to stick with the Choral Society, who will hopefully offer me more work in the future. Meanwhile, the Mannheim Steamroller show is just a one-shot deal.

I thanked the contractor for offering me this work, and apologized for not being able to accept. I asked him to “keep me in mind” for future shows, and he responded positively.

So I take the message of today’s horoscope to mean that I need to “chill” and be patient, and not be hard on myself. And not to worry about money! I’m doing all right, at the moment at least.

Many times this Fall, I thought about taking pictures of the unusually vivid colors of the trees in the area, but then put it off…and again…

Many people don’t think of California as having good Fall colors, but there are indeed areas of excellent displays, especially in the northern part of the state. Nevada City/Grass Valley and surrounding environs is especially nice.

I was thankful to capture the most variegated tree of them all, right in our own front yard!

It’s called a liquid amber in these parts, while it is known as the American Sweet-gum in the Eastern and Southeastern areas of the United States.

A dear friend of L.’s, who was very involved with this land for years, planted this tree in the late 1970s.

Don visited us In The Woods a couple of months ago, and appreciated the many improvements that James has already made to the place. In fact, he was almost overcome with emotion. Unfortunately, his visit was well before his tree — planted in the front yard next to the Bunkhouse — even showed a hint of color.

This tree did not start changing until just before Halloween. This was fully two weeks AFTER the height of color displayed by all the other trees in the area.

I’m glad that there were some good pictures taken of this tree at its peak a week ago Monday, because it was truly spectacular. I will share all of them here, in honor of the gorgeous liquid amber tree:

 

Please feel free to comment on how the Fall colors were in YOUR area!

We rely on two ancient, rusted-but-functional wood stoves to heat the Music Room and the Bunkhouse, rooms that are attached to the barn.

The Music Room is the better-insulated of the two. A Franklin stove dominates the middle of this space; it puts out a lot of heat once it gets going! This is where we spend our mornings, at the diningroom table equipped with back-to-back laptops.

The first thing James does in the morning, after crawling out of the warm bed into the frigid Bunkhouse, is go to the other end of the building to light the fire in the Music Room stove.

Meanwhile, I go to the main barn section where our Airstream trailer is parked, and into our little silver “pod” to heat water for tea. We continue to use the trailer’s kitchen and bathroom, since those corresponding rooms in the add-on section are not yet functional.

By the time James brews the tea and pours it into our two Japanese thermoses, the fire is well under way. Lately, the room temperature has been starting out in the upper 40s (with the outside temperature in the mid-30s), but warms up to the 70s in a matter of minutes.

The doors on the Franklin stove are usually closed while the fire is burning, but I wanted to show the flames in this picture.

We arrived here In the Woods too late this year to cut and cure our own wood (of which there is plenty, especially pine) so we had to place an order with a local woodcutter. It is NOT cheap; he charges $750 for three cords of oak. We bought six cords total, which required two trips up from Nevada City. This should take us through the winter.

I managed to capture the second delivery of wood on my video camera:

The woodcutter was impressed that we had already stacked the first load, which he had delivered the previous day. It took several hours of surprisingly hard labor. Stacking wood is rather an art; you have to place each piece in a logical way to fit in neatly with its neighbors, so the growing pile does not become slanted and uneven.

For the second day, I devised a system in which James loaded the large wheelbarrow full of wood, then brought it into the barn for me to stack. This worked out better than each of us carrying a few pieces in at a time.

Although the large pieces of wood can be burned now, we quickly discovered that they burn much better when split into quarters. At first we tried splitting the wood the old-fashioned way, but it ended up taking far too long, and we’re still sort of city boys!

So we bought a wood-splitter. It’s a very cool, simple tool, which attaches to an air compressor. The process is gradual and gentle; not violent.

We’ve spent a couple hours a day for the past two days splitting the cylindrical logs (large branches) that had not been split at all.

There’s something about being more involved in the heating process of our house which is more “up-close-and-personal” than simply turning up the thermostat.

I’ve always loved fires; my father had them going in the family room fireplace in Sacramento each winter night.

James has become quite adept at building and maintaining fires. So far, he’s been in charge of this, although I have watched him closely so that I can do this, too.

For the second day in a row, our quiet skies are being BUZZED by small planes and copters, searching the area for marijuana crops.

The guy and gal who came out to install the HughesNet satellite internet system yesterday (HOORAY! It’s definitely faster than dialup! We like that!) said that they’d read something about it in the local paper.

This is the end of the harvest season and the Gub’mint wants to confiscate every last bit of “crop” before it ends.

Regardless of what your opinion might be on marijuana, this seems like a HUGE waste of our taxpayer’s money!

Yesterday I was amazed at the non-stop drone of small aircraft above our usually peaceful neck of the woods; it went from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I just heard the first plane of this new day at 10 this morning.

Please go away. Soon.

* * * * *

(UPDATE) Several hours later: We just found out that in addition to the drug survelliance, there is a small forest fire two miles from town — which explains the copters. Strange….because we don’t see any smoke, whatsoever.