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Spring is in its early stages up here In The Woods.

On my way to the Post Office this afternoon to mail off my taxes, I saw a few daffodils nodding their cheery yellow heads in a front yard on the main street.

The buds are appearing on the trees, but nothing is in full leaf yet. Tiny signs of life in the form of dandelions and violets are starting to peek out from the meadow grasses.

Years ago, L. planted some daffodils on the property which are about to bloom.

James took the following picture last week when some green shoots first appeared below the cabin. We think they’re some sort of mountain iris.

The air is softer now and we’ve already enjoyed some warm days; the temperature even hit 70˚F recently.

The lilac bush outside the Bunkhouse has begun to display buds:

It still gets down to freezing at night, but somehow it doesn’t feel as cold as the same temperature did over the winter months.

Cat Rupert is now spending most of the day outdoors. Here he is napping under a section of barnboard which James tore down last Fall:

James lights a fire in the morning and keeps it going until noon, at which point it’s no longer needed. For a while he lit fires again at night, but lately it’s been mild enough to get by with just the small electric heater.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been hacking out paths in the thick of the Woods near the Yuba River. Loppers have become our best friends! Here is the beginning of the path:

Further down the hill is the area where we hacked out a lot of blackberry bushes:

We’re developing a lovely scenic trail to the river; it wends its way through stands of moss-covered old trees and rocks,

sometimes entangled with blackberry bushes, then over fallen trunks and over large rocks which had been set into piles by the Chinese during long-ago mining days.

It may be difficult to gauge the proper depth perception in the following shot of the river, but it gives an idea how the path wends its way near this slate ledge:

Here’s a beautiful long-shot of the Yuba River:

The path eventually joins the trickling stream which leads down to the metal ladder to the private beach and the water.

There are some interesting moss patterns on the trees and rocks. This is an unusual rotted trunk which has kept its shape:

Up to now, we have accessed the river from the opposite direction, past the little cabin L. and friends had built in the early 1970s. It is a much shorter and steeper trail.

This new path is more level and takes a bit longer (all of ten minutes, perhaps, at a leisurely pace) but has more geographical variety than the other one.

It’s been fun to clear out the blackberry bushes and lop off small pine trees and trim branches to create this intimate trail, and then walk along it regularly to further establish its identity.

Here’s a short video of the waterfall which flows behind the metal ladder leading to the river beach:

I wanted to make sure this posted before I go down the hill to Sacramento to rehearse and perform with the Philharmonic from Thursday through Saturday. I have not played with this group since their first concert set, Mahler 5th Symphony, back in October.

While I’m playing the horn in the orchestra, James will be helping my sister-in-law redecorate the old family house in preparation for her big graduation (from college, at age forty-plus!) party in late May. The house has been in need of a major freshening for years. James is an excellent interior painter and designer, and is excited about giving the house a new look.

We may stay in Sacramento as late as Tuesday, so Spring will be a bit further advanced when we finally return to The Woods. I’m glad that we won’t be absent for too long, as neither of us want to miss anything!

Lately, I have been busy making music rather than making words.

Last week I spent in the San Francisco Bay area, playing a very challenging concert set with Symphony Silicon Valley. The program: Copland “Appalachian Spring”, Vaughan-Williams “Tuba Concerto”, Richard Strauss “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks” and “Rosenkavalier Suite”.

This ambitious program was demanding for all the instruments in the orchestra, but especially for the horns. I was also challenged by playing 2nd to a very talented young woman who holds the distinction of having contracts with nine different orchestras in the Bay area. She substitutes in many more ensembles, and has become famous amongst the freelance musicians for playing a high number of gigs in the area.

I wanted to make the best impression possible. The 2nd horn’s job is to make the Principal horn sound good. She didn’t need any extra help because she already has considerable playing ability, but it was important for me to match her well.

It could also lead to more freelance work in the future, since she is so well-connected in the local orchestra network. Hopefully word will continue to spread that I am a valuable asset to any horn section.

I like to think of myself as a musician who “brings a lot to the table”, so to speak. For risk of blowing my own horn (pun intended), I pride myself on a high level of professionalism and I am easy to get along with in the orchestra.

My horn teacher in college insisted that I develop these qualities in order to be a successful musician, and I thank him for emphasizing this into me early on.

I had the privilege of playing in an excellent horn section in the Sacramento Symphony from 1982 through 1996. Our playing was in sync and we got along well professionally. Over a decade after the organization’s demise, people still talk about how good our horn section was.

Spending time in the SF Bay area is so very different from being In The Woods. The pace is crazy-fast; there are so many people (seven million in the metro area) and the physical environment contrasts sharply with the higher, woodsy elevation of my home.

At sea level, many flowers and trees were already in bloom in the Bay area, although the air still had a cool neutrality about it last week; not quite Spring yet. But you could tell it was coming soon!

I am very fortunate to be able to stay with my violinist friend R.A. in the house she shares with her father, in Lafayette which is only an hour commute north of San Jose where the orchestra rehearses and performs.

I have my own room and access to the internet in the adjoining room which is being used as an office.

I adore both R.A. and her father, and always look forward to seeing them.

Still, my heart is home in The Woods with James, who stays behind to take care of the cat and the place.

He’d accompany me on these trips to the Bay area if we were able to bring Rupert, but R.A.’s father has made it clear that he doesn’t want cats in his house. He is a retired veterinarian and saw his fill of pets during his long, successful career.

When R.A. first moved in with her father a couple of years ago, she brought her old cat Jazzy. It was sometimes incontinent and was kept in R.A.’s quarters upstairs, which was the only real alternative but not an optimum one “for man or beast”.

When Jazzy passed on, Morrie said something along the lines of “Never again!” as far as cats were concerned.

So James stays home with our puss, while I work intensely with the orchestra and shuttle back and forth to San Jose from Wednesday through Sunday.

Sometimes Morrie cooks dinner for us, and other times R.A. and I grab a bite out, or I buy a few things at the grocery store to nibble on. I made R.A. peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on two occasions. Other sandwiches over the course of the week included sprouts and tofu, and tuna. This was often supplemented with carrots, apples, pretzels and a little cheese.

On Saturday evening before our first concert, Morrie made us shrimp louie salad, accompanied by a fresh, crusty baguette. I supplemented this with ready-made veggie minestroni soup from the store deli. This nice. light meal sent R.A. and me off to San Jose in good style.

I don’t like to eat heavy foods before performances. I’ll leave it to your imagination to think of why this might be so, for a horn player — or any wind player for that matter. 😉

This gives you an idea of the food I eat when I’m away from James’ excellent cooking. It’s fine, and particularly good when Morrie cooks, but I’m always glad to return home. Yes, I’m very spoiled!

I arrived back In The Woods late Sunday night, after a successful week with Symphony Silicon Valley. It was wonderful to see James (and Rupert) again, enveloped by peace and quiet and the smell of pine trees, and to sleep in my own bed.

I woke up the next day, exhausted from expending all that energy down in the “flatlands”. But it was a good kind of tired — a satisfaction which comes from a job well done.

However, I didn’t have much time to rest; James and I have been busily working on various recorder arrangements and compositions for the local recorder group in Nevada City.

I have been expanding some of my recorder duets for the larger ensemble. One piece requires eight players and two other pieces use seven. I had finished the largest one last week, and completed another at R.A.’s over the weekend. Then I worked most of Monday and Tuesday on the next piece, which I finished in time for last night’s rehearsal.

We recently bought a basic black&white laser printer, which is fine for music. I’m very pleased with its output; the music score and parts look professional.

I printed out the three pieces yesterday before we went down to “Big Town” for our weekly Wednesday grocery shopping/errands and recorder rehearsal in the evening.

We rehearsed at one of the member’s homes, which was a treat. Hostess Vanessa was gracious and accommodating. Eight of us set up in her living room (the furniture was pushed back) and rehearsed director Richard’s arrangement of “Carmina Burana”. Each movement calls for different combinations of recorders, and he wanted to add harp and hurdy-gurdy to some sections.

So I brought my small 26-string lap harp, which has a wonderful bell-like, “folky” tone perfect for recorders and Renaissance music.

But Vanessa’s hurdy-gurdy stole the show. What a fascinating instrument! Its concept began in the 13th Century. I had never seen or heard one before. This ancient instrument is difficult to explain, but I will say that it’s basically a rectangular wooden box, about two feet long, ten inches deep and ten inches high. It has a drone sort of like a bagpipe’s and has four strings, and is operated by a crank on the side.

In fact it sounds rather like a bagpipe, but is much more subdued — thank goodness! Some of the movements in Carmina Burana are perfect for the sound of the hurdy-gurdy, and Vanessa got very excited when she was able to play the melody, after we helped her tune a couple of the notes which needed to be changed to fit the key of the piece.

I enjoyed alternating between tenor recorder and the harp. It just so happened that the movements which didn’t call for tenor work out well on the harp.

The time flew by quickly during this creative process. Before the rehearsal ended, director Richard wanted to make sure we had a chance to play through one of my compositions, so I put on the CD of the computer-generated score in order for the players to get a rough idea what the three pieces sounded like.

I was pleased at the positive reception, but even more pleased when we played through one of the selections. I’ve composed various pieces over the years, duets mostly, so it was a real treat to hear these musicians play a composition with seven parts.

In fact, I was almost overwhelmed with emotion.

Obviously, they enjoyed playing the piece, “Hymn”, which had started out as a duet shortly after my mother died in 2005. It has sort of a churchly flavor, like a quiet organ in the lower register. I’m hoping that it will eventually become a best-seller, when James and I get our recorder music website going.

Richard wants us to perform it at our upcoming Spring concert in late May. I feel very honored.

I am excited about the prospect of having my compositions performed with this group, and possibly with an even larger recorder ensemble which Richard directs in the Bay Area. James and I plan to attend their Spring concert in Berkeley on April 19th, to hear what the group sounds like. We may join them when their new season starts in the Fall.

If time permits at next Wednesday’s rehearsal, we’ll play through my other two pieces. Richard expressed interest in including another of them on the Spring concert program. So there may be two compositions by Cameron on that performance, which is exciting.

I was gratified to see that he (along with the others) seem enthusiastic about having a “resident composer” in their midst.

Actually, TWO resident composers — James has some wonderful recorder compositions too. They are quite different from mine in that they start out as arrangements of various jazz and pop songs, but are adapted and modified so that they have become original pieces.

I can hardly wait for the group to play James’ version of “Corcovado” (Quiet Nights) when he finishes it. The piece takes its roots from a version performed by Engelbert Humperdinck — jazzy, upbeat and corny, and I think that the recorder players will love it!

Ah, the Vernal Equinox arrived early today. It’s wonderful to experience the upsurge of new Spring energy.

It’s going to be a busy season — full of rehearsals and concerts with symphony orchestras in Sacramento, Modesto and Nevada City, as well as our activities with the recorder group — not to mention all the MANY projects which need doing here In The Woods!

More about what’s going on In The Woods in my next post….

Thanks, Catherine, for tagging me with this meme.


Four Jobs I have Had
Four Shows I have been to
Four Cars I have had
Four favorite Foods

It was fun to write about these things, which brought back lots of memories. I hope that it’s reasonably interesting to read.

Four Jobs I have Had

The first job I ever had was at the age of 13, delivering the Sacramento Bee. The year was 1967, and the monthly subscription had just risen from $2.25 to $2.50 when I started. I took a lot of heat from my subscribers, as though somehow *I* was responsible for the price-hike.

It was actually a great job. I delivered papers from my bike, and the route was in my own neighborhood. I got very good at throwing the papers exactly where the customers wanted them.

I did have various run-ins with dogs but nothing which sent me to the hospital.

The only downside of being a paperboy was having to collect. It was amazing what lengths the customers would go to, to avoid payment!

I had that job for just over a year, and then we moved across the country to Alexandria, VA.

(Three years later, I delivered the Washington Post in my own apartment complex where I used a shopping cart, but I won’t count that as one of the jobs here.)

Job #2: The Village Inn Pizza parlor in Alexandria, VA. I first took this job as a high school senior and then came back to work summers while in college.

I started as a dishwasher in the back kitchen but soon aspired to “move up” to the front kitchen to make pizzas, roll out dough and watch the ovens. Being a dishwasher had absolutely no prestige; I yearned for notoriety and accolades “up front” working with the elite employees. At least they thought they were cool, and I very much wanted to be a part of the In-Group.

Well, when I finally got there it wasn’t all that fun. Some of the co-workers turned out to be bastards, difficult to work with. The customers were often drunk and rude. The ovens were blazing hot; frequently my arms and hands got burned on the doors. I periodically got my long, thin, “artistic” fingers jammed in the dough roll-out machine.

I didn’t mind making pizzas so much; I became very adept at it. I also was famous for my sandwiches, which customers clamored for. I think it was the excessive mayo I slathered on (see favorite foods below).

I rather enjoyed working the front cash register, except for the high-maintenance customers. I liked checking out the men, especially the sailors in their tight whites. Ooops.

But if I had that job to do over again, I would have stayed a dishwasher. I didn’t have to deal with the public in the back kitchen; it was cooler, and I could listen to the radio. I had slow periods in which I could kick back, in-between “rushes”. I didn’t know how good I had it until I moved up to that hot, hectic front kitchen!

That was a valuable lesson.

Village Inn Pizza Parlor really merits a long post of its own. Perhaps someday. A lot of things happened over the course of my time there, from 1971 through 1976 when I finally graduated college. That job spanned my formative years, in fact.

(At the end of that Bicentennial summer, I won my first orchestral position with the Nashville Symphony, and moved to Tennessee.)

Job #3 was at Waxie-Maxie’s record store in Alexandria, VA from June through August of 1973, which was also the first summer I worked at the pizza parlor. I was 19 and had just completed my freshman year in college. The record store was right down the street from the pizza place, close to my parents’ apartment, so it was easy to do both jobs.

The record store was more part-time than the pizza parlor; I worked there from 10 to 3 and then walked over to Village Inn at 5. I often ended up working double-shifts and didn’t get home until 2 a.m.

My mother was a night-owl and was often awake when I opened the apartment door. “Mmmm, you smell like pizza!” she always said. On many occasions I’d bring the kitchen mistakes home; I’m surprised that we didn’t get as big as a house eating all those carbs in the middle of the night.

At the record store, I spent most of my time at the cash register. The top selling albums of the Summer of ’73 were Stevie Wonder’s “Innervisions”, the Allman Brothers with the song “Jessica”, and the most popular of all was Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On”. We couldn’t stock the record bins fast enough.

As an employee, I took advantage of a sizeable record discount. I amassed a HUGE collection of 45s from the summer of ’73, which I finally put on cassettes in 1980.

In 1984 I got rid of the 45s and now wish I hadn’t. There’s just something about records which bring back memories in a way that digital doesn’t.

The fourth and last job I’ll relate is one of the symphony orchestras I played in, “La Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México”, based in the capital city of Toluca in the state of Mexico, which surrounds the Federal District of Mexico City.

To truly document this job would require many posts. It was quite an interesting experience to work in a foreign country for four years. I arrived in Mexico at age 24 and left when I was 28 (1979-82). The musicians of this orchestra hailed from all over the globe; there were very few Mexicans! Many of the musicians came from Central and South America, there was an exotic contingent from Russia and eastern Europe, several from the UK, France and Spain, and quite a few from the United States.

We toured the US several times (low-budget, many adventures), as well as in Mexico (even more outrageous adventures!), and we did a number of recordings. We played a lot of repertoire, and the orchestra was quite good. In fact, I still consider it to be the best orchestra I’ve played in over the course of my 32-year career.

Four Shows I have been to

1. Seals & Crofts in 1974, in the Fieldhouse at the University of Cincinnati while attending school there. Large glitter-balls hung from the ceiling, which sparkled with thousands of points of light as the band played “Diamond Girl”. I was amazed to see how many people smoked grass at the concert. I thought that was pretty brazen in a public place, with cops standing not too far away at the exits. But they casually turned the other cheek, and of course they didn’t inhale.

2. “Children of a lesser God” on Broadway on the night of December 8, 1980. It starred John Rubenstein and Phyllis Freilich, two excellent actors. After the show, my “date” and I took the subway back to his apartment on the Upper West Side. As soon as we arrived, we heard that John Lennon had just been shot! We traced the time of assault and determined that we had been on the subway passing by his neighborhood at the exact moment he was killed.

3. Genesis in 1983 at the Concord Pavilion in the SF Bay area. Of course Phil Collins stole the show; it was pretty much centered on him by then, anyway. My seat was so far from the stage, it might as well have been in another time-zone.

4. “Angels in America” in 1994, again on Broadway. I was on an East coast vacation from Sacramento with my partner at the time, Ken. We saw Part I on a matinee and then Part II in the evening. It was an extremely long, but moving production.

Four Cars I have had

My first car was a beige 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle. It cost $1400 used in 1976; my dad paid for half as a college graduation present. It was my ONLY car for the next seventeen years! It carried me through my years in Nashville, Mexico and then Sacramento; numerous cross-country trips and some in Mexico. I finally sold it in 1993 when Ken sold me his spare vehicle, a Mazda pickup truck, which was…

…Car #2. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven driving the used 1989 Mazda truck (in that ubiquitous late-80s metallic sky blue hue). It was a lot smoother and quieter than my trusty old VW! I used it for my remaining years in Sacramento, then took it on the road with Phantom of the Opera in 1997. Just before I left, a friend built a platform in the truck bed with storage space underneath. I put a futon on top. Not only could I bring a lot of junk with me on tour, I slept at rest stops when I got tired driving from city to city.

Nine months into the tour, I met James. He joined me on the road and we traveled in this vehicle together until September 1998, at which point we bought Car #3 in St. Louis, a big honking brand-new white Chevy Suburban to tow our recently-acquired Airstream travel trailer.

This was my first new car! What a dream it was to drive and ride in, although such a tank! It did its work very well, towing the Airstream trailer all over the USA for seven eventful years.

Then on July 4, 2005 we had a serious accident with the Suburban and Airstream; rolled the entire rig one-and-a-half times on a dangerous stretch of I-10 in southeastern Arizona. Both car and trailer were totaled, but the trailer frame held together, so most of our possessions were intact. And the sturdy Suburban saved our lives; we emerged from the accident with only cuts and bruises and a bit of whiplash.

I really miss the Suburban, although it wouldn’t be practical to drive these days with the high gas prices, and besides, we’re off the road now.

Car #4 is our current one, a white Scion XB. We bought it right after the accident. It sort of looked like a miniature version of our Suburban, so a Phantom co-worker dubbed it the “Mini Me-Suburban” car. Luckily it wasn’t expensive. It’s the best car I’ve ever owned — roomy, comfortable and economical.

Four favorite Foods

1. Tuna sandwiches. I’ve made them since the age of 7 when Mom first taught me how to use a can-opener and chop onions and pickles. James generally doesn’t like fish (and is allergic to some shellfish) so now I eat tuna sandwiches sometimes when we go out. It’s a special occasion.

2. Mayonnaise. Is that a food? 😉 James and I share that in common. As a Southerner, he could have it at every meal, and I’m not too far from that. “Just spread it on my hips!” he often quips.

3. Collard greens, lightly steamed or sauteéd with garlic, onions and spices, over rice.

4. Barbecued chicken. We don’t eat meat at home but this is my favorite when we visit my Middle Bro’s house in Sacramento — he’s a master at the grill, and often makes the old family recipe.

Gosh, that last category has made me hungry — Bye!

It’s always a surprise to drive on the hectic, congested highways after spending days on end in the peace and solitude of The Woods.

People are nuts. Why is everyone in such a hurry?

It takes three hours to get to R.A.’s house in Lafayette from our place. Traffic wasn’t horrible, but it’s always stressful on some level. We arrived at R.A.’s in good time on Saturday afternoon.

We had a lovely visit with R.A. and her dad, who is 84 years young. He and I share the same birthday (along with R.A.’s brother, amazing!) and I’ve always felt a wonderful connection with this warm, intelligent man who is so full of interesting stories.

It was especially nice for James to see him for the first time in a couple of years. They share a cooking connection because both are excellent chefs.

Morrie had just baked soft cinammon spice cookies, and also oatmeal fruit bars, which were cooling on racks in the kitchen. Delicious!

After visiting for a couple hours, James, R.A. and I drove to the BART station to catch the train to downtown San Francisco, a 35-minute ride.

In all these years I had never taken BART, and of course it was James’ first experience too.

The Lafayette station is right next to the highway. We ascended the escalator to the upper deck and were greeted by the whoosh of cars whizzing by, only a few feet away.

The train arrived a few moments later with a screech and expulsion of air. Bing-bong went the bell as we passed through the sliding doors and found seats.

I’d never been on a train with carpeting and upholstered seats before. That’s where the musty, rather dirty smell came from! It seems that with fabric on a train, more regular cleaning and maintenance would be required. Ah, but this was not the case here.

I was also surprised at how NOISY the train was, especially going through the tunnel under the Bay. It was positively ear-splitting! I’d have to wear earplugs if I took the train regularly.

The BART stations looked like something out of a futuristic science-fiction movie in which the world is about to come to an end. The walls were stark and dingy, and the faint flourescent lighting flickered uncertainly with a buzzing sound.

I’ve been in the subways of New York City, Boston, Chicago and Washington D.C. (and Mexico City) which were all more interesting than BART. Some were not terribly clean, but at least they were “atmospheric”!

We emerged above-ground at San Francisco’s Civic Center. I had not been in the City since Memorial Day 2001, when James met L. & D. to see a concert, just as we were doing now.

(On that occasion, I didn’t attend the concert, because I was playing one with the San Jose Symphony at the time. I met the others in the City afterwards.)

San Francisco is almost always cool and damp, but at least we were greeted by clear blue skies on this late Saturday afternoon. The silver-white sunlight angled low through the corridors of buildings as we walked towards Davies Hall where the concert would take place. We were to meet L. & D. at a nearby coffee shop to share a long visit beforehand.

As we approached the square in front of City Hall, James suddenly stopped in his tracks. “Look at that!” he said to R.A. and me, pointing towards the line of cars parked at an angle along the street bordering the grass.

At first I didn’t notice anything unusual, but suddenly we realized that all of these cars were at least thirty years old! There was an orange Gremlin, a ’76 Lincoln Mark IV, an early ’60s Mercury Parklane station-wagon, a ’64 Ford station-wagon, a Pontiac Bonneville and many others parked in an unbroken row along the street. There were NO newer cars in the area.

The most amazing thing is that none of these vehicles were in mint condition; they looked like “regular” cars that ordinary people would drive. There were dents and peeling, faded paint on some of them. That’s why I didn’t notice anything special at first.

When James initially set eyes on this row of vintage cars with period license plates, he thought to himself, “San Francisco is even trippier than I remembered!”

As it turned out, the old cars were part of a movie. James recalled that Sean Penn is currently filming “Milk” — the story of the San Francisco supervisor and his assassination (along with recently resigned mayor George Moscone) at City Hall in November 1978.

We crossed the street to look at the relics more closely. There were placards inside the windshields with dates and times for filming over the weekend.

What a trip.

It was one of those moments when you’re looking at something from a bygone era but in the back of your mind you assume it’s the present — then suddenly the realization dawns that it’s NOT!

We met L. & D. at the coffee-shop and had a nice visit with them for well over an hour; then we strolled over to the concert hall.

I hadn’t seen the San Francisco Symphony in many years, since they played a concert in Sacramento in the mid-1990s. And I had never heard them in their own Davies Hall.

They performed a couple of compositions by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, one of which featured flute soloist Paula Robison, followed by the Sibelius Seventh and Shostakovich Ninth symphonies.

As professional musicians ourselves, R.A. and I could easily see that this orchestra is one of the best in the country, definitely in the Top 10.

It was a treat to be in the audience to hear an orchestra for a change; usually we’re on stage playing in one!

After the performance, we parted company with L. & D. and enjoyed a late dinner at the Hayes St. Grill. R.A. and James had a green salad with goat-cheese while I had greens without the cheese. R.A. and I both had the sole with yellow mushrooms and fingerling potatoes, and James ordered a dish of big homemade sausage links.

We took the BART back to R.A.’s house in Lafayette and arrived at midnight. We had just enough energy to watch the the documentary “Freeway Philharmonic” that I’ve described in a previous post. R.A. had taped the 50-minute program and I looked forward to seeing it.

I know many of the musicians featured in this film, along with many more former colleagues playing in the various orchestras in the footage. Following each musician’s story was fascinating, but it tired me out to watch them schlepping up and down the highways for their various gigs. I am very glad that I don’t have to depend upon the Freeway Philharmonic circuit for a full-time living. It would be extremely challenging, especially coming from such a distance.

But as I mentioned before, it would be nice to have about two gigs a month. Little by little I am approaching that quota more consistently. There have been a handful of months with two gigs, and then other months with nothing. It takes time to work into the freelance scene.

I’ve got two gigs coming up this month; the first in San Jose beginning a week from Wednesday, then one with the Sacramento Philharmonic, where I haven’t played since their first concert set of the season in October.

James and I left R.A.’s house late Sunday morning, and drove to Sacramento where my brother and sister-in-law hosted a brunch for some of her relatives. It was great to meet one of S.’s sisters (from Boston) and a cousin from San Francisco and his family. Then Middle Bro’s good friends Dave & Elaine were there, along with Oldest Bro’ and my nephew Ben.

The food was good and the company excellent. I must admit that I got a bit carried away with visiting and didn’t pay attention to James’ subtle requests to leave. But he politely “went with the flow” and we finally did depart two hours later.

We discussed the situation on the drive back up to The Woods and I apologized for not being more attentive to James’ signals. Our life up here does require certain adjustments, such as allowing time to do grocery shopping in Nevada City on the way up, and hopefully arriving home before dark. Then there’s usually wood to split and then building a fire, and later on, dinner to be cooked. We got home well after sunset and were tired, but had to do these things before we could relax.

Lesson learned.

As always, we treasure our time at home, especially after being in “civilization”. We’re basking in it today, and don’t have to be anywhere until Wednesday evening for our weekly rehearsal with the recorder group.

I practiced horn this afternoon after not having played for two days, and luckily my lip is not the worst for the unusually long break. Sometimes I can take a couple days off without getting weak, and other times even one day off wreaks havoc. Luckily now, I have more than a week to get into tip-top playing shape for the next gig.

Today we took our lunch out on the Sky Deck in the brilliant, warm sunshine. The bluejays made their raucous calls in the meadow pines while monarch butterflies flitted here and there. The smell of pine needles is gradually getting stronger as the weather warms up.

Ahhhh…life is good.