You are currently browsing the daily archive for December 5, 2007.

We had houseguests from Friday through Monday and greatly enjoyed their visit, but James and I are still tired, several days later.

Being hosts and guests requires a lot of energy. Hosts try to anticipate every whim, every dietary need of their visitors, provide entertainment etc. while guests have to sleep in someone else’s bed, be away from their routines and in a completely new environment.

Our visitors were from Tucson, where the daytime temperatures are still in the 70-80 degree range, sometimes higher. They arrived here In the Woods on Friday evening — we drove down to Sacramento to pick them up from the airport — and the thermometer in the barn read 28 degrees when we brought their suitcases in from the car.

It was very fortunate that James had a feeling that it would get below freezing that night, and started the water faucet trickling before we had left for the airport.

How ironic that we experienced our coldest temperatures to date this past weekend, while entertaining visitors from the Southwestern desert!

They brought warm clothes, thankfully; they had been advised of the general temperature range here in the Sierras.

They slept in the Airstream trailer parked in the barn. The trailer has propane heat and keeps the space quite warm, but it is sometimes a challenge to adjust the thermostat to achieve that perfect medium between too-hot and too-cold.

We took walks through the Woods, ate delicious food — James did a lot of cooking while I washed the dishes. We visited our dear friend L. and partner D. in Nevada City on Sunday; ate breakfast at a Cajun-California cafĂ© and then toured the quaint downtown shops.

On Monday before we took them back to the airport, we played through some music that I had composed for three recorders and horn.

MA plays a number of instruments, including horn and recorder, while M. plays the horn. Since they flew here on a small plane, they left their horns at home.

When they used to visit us in Bisbee, they always brought their horns, and we would play through my horn trios and also MA’s trios. (She’s quite a good composer.) So their visits always included horn ensemble activities, which was great fun.

It was a definite challenge to write for recorders and horn, because the former instruments are soft while the latter can be very loud. For weeks before their visit I worked on some new pieces which included three recorders and horn. M. would play my horn while she was here, while the rest of us played on our extensive collection of recorders.

First, MA, James and I played through a recorder trio that has three movements, before tackling the piece which included horn. There’s some good moments but I need to adjust a few things, including range and some orchestration issues.

It’s always best to have LIVE people playing these compositions, rather than just relying on the music-notation program on the computer.

For example, both MA and M. offered very helpful suggestions when we read through my horn trios in Arizona. As a result, those pieces are now more playable for the “general horn public” when I finally do publish them.

The quartet for 3 recorders and horn was very interesting. The combination actually does work, as long as the horn stays in the middle and low range where the tone is softer and doesn’t overpower the recorders.

There were flashes of excellent writing, but only for a measure or two here and there. I’ll have to build on and develop those more successful spots.

I’d like to write two more movements for this Quartet, and try them out with MA and M. when we visit Arizona sometime in the next few months.

It’s always stimulating to have house-guests. It was also good to have these good friends see us in our “new digs”. Now they can picture us sitting at our diningroom table in our Shaque In The Woods, with our matching Macbook computers, keeping the fire going!