Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hymnals

I am a little bit nuts about books. I've had to employ a points system of rewards in order to prevent myself from going on random book-buying binges. Hymn books are a particular weakness for me. These are the hymnals I have so far, in order from top to bottom:

1. Reproduction of the original LDS pocket-sized hymnal.

2. Pocket-sized French LDS hymnal. I bought this while at the MTC because it was marked down: someone had returned it, and they'd had to un-engrave it (if you look closely you can see the gold plate they glued over the engraving area).

3. 1950's edition hymnal, pocket-sized. I found this at DI for $2, still in its box, in pristine condition.

4. Pocket-sized German LDS hymnal. I plan to someday learn German.

5. Pocket-sized Spanish LDS hymnal.

6. Pocket-sized English LDS hymnal. I covered it in the hopes that the cover would stop crumbling apart.

7. Special edition leather-bound LDS hymnal.

8. 1950's edition LDS hymnal.

9. Unity Song Selections from the University School of Christianity. I have wanted to purchase other church's hymnals at many times while visiting foreign countries (particularly England), but have restrained myself from spending too much money (I usually had multiple other items I already planned to purchase). This hymnal is not foreign. I found it at DI. Good old DI. I can afford a book from DI.

10. Spanish LDS hymnal.

11. Regular old English LDS hymnal. Mother and Father Edit bought a hymnal for each of us kids when the books were first published in 1985. They even had our names debossed and foiled on the front.

Three of these hymnals were bought from the MTC, three were bought from DI, three were given to me, and two I bought from other sources.

Eleven is not an excessive number when you consider the total number of available hymnals in the world. :o)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

(French) Horn

I've got a French* horn:


And I know how to use it!**

*"The International Horn Society recommends that HORN be recognized as the correct English label for our instrument." [From the Minutes of the First IHS General Meeting, June 15, 1971, Tallahassee, Florida, USA]

I, on the other hand, have given up trying, as a lot of musicians erroneously assimilate saxophones, trumpets, and even trombones with the word "horn." I would like to call the horn something that more accurately describes its roots, such as the French-American-German horn, but as this can be shortened to faghorn, I don't think it's likely to catch on anytime soon. Gafhorn?

Maybe I should write a separate blog entry about this. :o)

**If you would like to see me use it in a local production of Handel's Messiah (select movements), come to Hillcrest High tonight at 7. It's free!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Automatic Bathroom

If you go to the ladies' bathroom in the Wilkinson Center on the ground floor near the information desk, you will encounter the following:

-automatic flushing toilets

-automatic water faucets

-automatic soap dispensers

-automatic paper towel dispensers

-automatic hand dryers

Aaaaaaaaaand...

-automatic toilet paper dispensers

For real.

All they are missing is automatic toilet seat protectors (that bathroom currently has no seat protectors at all), which I saw at an airport once. Odd things.

And maybe automatic doors. Then you wouldn't have to touch ANYTHING.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ward Thanksgiving Dinner: Four Dollars for Two Rolls

Sometimes I do silly things, like signing up to bring rolls to the ward Thanksgiving dinner on Friday night even though I don't get off work until half an hour after it starts, which means I will be an hour late by the time I get there. However, my better Betty side tells me to participate in ward events once in a while, so I signed up to bring rolls (with a note telling them I'd be an hour late).

Thus, after work on Friday I brought my two bags of King's Hawaiian rolls (delicious!) to the Institute building. Inside the gym, the tables had been pushed end to end to create one really big long table, which I thought was a fun idea. There was another long table that held the food neatly in uniform aluminum pans. Luckily, there was a lot of food left, enough that I would still be able to have a good full meal even though I was late.

But alas, it turned out it was the wrong ward. My ward was in the other gym. I think it was the bishop's wife who saw me putting the rolls down and asked what ward I was from. Turns out theirs was a catered dinner (that explained why it looked so nice), but she did offer, "You're welcome to come back if you don't like what they're having." She was a nice woman.

La la la, I traveled to the other side of the building, where round tables were cramped into half of the other gym, and two tables held the remains of what had once been standard Thanksgiving dishes. I put one bag of rolls at each table, and surveyed the slops. I guess I shouldn't call them slops. There were a few shreds of turkey left, a dollop or two of mashed potatoes, and a couple dozen various rolls, which made my two dozen seem that much more superfluous. I suppose anything but dessert would seem superfluous though, if it's an hour late.

They were just about to cut into the pies. I was not in the mood for sweets (rare, I know), so I took one of my rolls and another roll, and nibbled them from a corner, staring at nothing and contemplating what to do. It didn't take long to contemplate. After a member of the bishopric approached me to ask about a substitute organist for next week, I figured it had been noted that I appeared at the ward Thanksgiving dinner, and I left.

My Hawaiian roll was good, but that homemade crescent roll, which I ate on the way to my car, that was really good. Too bad I didn't grab two of them, eh?

Hooray for ward Thanksgiving dinners.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Kill A Mockingbird

I can't remember why, but I decided I should read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee again. I'd read it in high school, but honestly... the only book I actually remember from high school is Lord of the Flies, probably because it was the one most like juvenile literature. I also remember reading not just the Cliff's Notes for Pride and Prejudice, but my friend's printed-out copy of the Cliff's Notes, made more ironic because I was acting in the play at the same time yet had no idea what the heck it was about (I've since repented, and own and love both the book and the forever-long BBC DVD version).

At any rate, I picked up To Kill A Mockingbird from the library, as well as a million Sharon Creech books and some picture books. I think I went through five or six Creech books in the same time it took me to read the first fifth of Mockingbird. I enjoyed parts of it when I read, but I couldn't see the point; I felt no motivation or compulsion to keep reading. I found the plot amusing, but not gripping.

Then I talked to Olive about Mockingbird, and she didn't even say much about it, but she told me some reasons she liked it.

When I got through with all the Sharon Creech books I'd borrowed, I picked up Mockingbird again. I decided I was just going to go with it. I wasn't going to worry about plot threads or motivation or anything, I was just going to read it and enjoy it. Guess what happened? I loved it!

To Kill A Mockingbird is beautifully written. Harper Lee paints such perfect descriptions, made even better because half the time the protagonist--as narrator--doesn't even know what it is she's describing. The children are portrayed well, and in fact, so are all the characters. I mean, listen to this description of Scout's aunt's appearance: She was not fat, but solid, and she chose protective garments that drew up her bosom to giddy heights, pinched in her waist, flared out her rear, and managed to suggest that Aunt Alexandra's was once an hour-glass figure. From any angle, it was formidable.

Giddy heights? Goodness, that makes me laugh!

When I was in high school I also didn't quite make the mockingbird connection. This was probably because I read the book too fast and didn't pick up half of what I read. (I sometimes wonder that I'm a writer when I consider the things I did in my high school English classes.) This time, however, I got it. It's pretty obvious, actually, if you read at a regular pace.

I will leave you with the few lines that drew the greatest emotional response from me:

"Atticus--" said Jem bleakly.

He turned in the doorway. "What, son?"

"How could they do it, how could they?"

"I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it--seems that only children weep. Good night."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Grad School

I'm going!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

First-timer’s Guide to the Symphony

I recently attended the Utah Symphony's performance of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony. Aside from the music, which was phenomenal, this small page at the end of the program booklet made me laugh. It was written by Spencer Clark, the former Communications Manager for the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera.

7:49 pm

You've arrived safely at Abravanel hall and the helpful ushers assisted you in locating your seat. Take a look around at all of these culturally-aware people. Can you believe you are one of them? You are probably starting to feel like you're better than the people outside of Abravanel Hall. You are. You've invested your money in more than mere "entertainment." You've spent it on a cultural experience that will enhance your life. Start thinking of phrases to use on Monday morning. You know, like, "Yeah, I decided to head over to the Symphony. They were playing some (insert composer) which I found enjoyable since (insert phrase from program notes)." Your associates will be compelled to look up to you now. But don't abuse this new-found respect.

8:00 pm

The orchestra is seated and warming up, and suddenly the concertmaster walks briskly onto the stage as everyone applauds. Let's not judge the concertmaster too harshly for being the last one to show up. It is far preferable that he arrive now than skulk meekly onto the scene halfway through the first piece.

8:01 pm

The concertmaster doesn't sit until he has an opportunity to play a note and tune the strings. There seems to be an understanding between the strings and the winds that the tuning must be segregated. You're entitled to your own opinion on this matter, but I still have a dream that someday the orchestra will tune together and not base their tuning on the timbre of their instruments.

8:02 pm

Now everyone is applauding as the conductor comes onstage. Don't you wish you were applauded just for showing up? I mean, imagine walking into your dentist's office and receiving such a reception. Unlike your favorite Looney Tunes episode, a real life conductor rarely raps his baton on his stand before beginning. Sorry—we do realize the baton-tapping would be much cooler.

8:05 pm

It's time to relax and enjoy… and to pull your hair out as you desperately try to assess whether applause is appropriate at any given pause. It is important to know when to applaud so that you can smile smugly at audience members who applaud at inappropriate times. Relax. There is a simple rule for applause: You can be sure it's time to clap if the conductor turns around to face you or hugs the soloist.

8:27 pm

Most guest soloists do not look anything like the photo that is inside your program. Take time to study the photo and guess how long ago it was taken. Make sure to appear to be thoughtfully reading the artist's biography when engaging in this activity.

9:00 pm

Intermission lasts about 15 minutes, so decide now if you want to stretch your legs by strolling out to the lobby, or if you would rather bask in the simple elegance of the concert hall.

9:15 pm

Now that you're back in your seat, take a look at those chandeliers overhead. They were made from 18,000 hand-crafted, Czechoslovakian crystals.

9:36 pm

The major work of the evening is underway by now, leaving you with a few choices. You could focus on the visual aspects of the performance, examining the 85-100 musicians who are pouring their souls into this work, furrowed brows and all. You could also focus on the music alone. Your last option is to reflect on the endless inequities that pervade our plodding journey through this dreary life. I suggest you stick to the first two options.

9:56 pm

As the thrilling performance ends, some people will feel obligated to give a standing ovation. If you are exceptionally impressed by what you've heard, please join them. If not, take pride in your act of dissent as you sit while applauding. Still, you've never felt more culturally in tune. You sense that you are not only better than the people outside of the hall, but most of the patrons inside as well. I hope this feeling will bring you back to enjoy the Utah Symphony again and again.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Music Committee

I'm on the music committee at church.

Actually, right now I think I am the music committee.

Our music committee chair was released in May, when she moved out of the ward. No one else was called to fill her spot. This meant that no one called me to tell me the hymns anymore (I'm the ward organist), which is not so terrible, but it is nice to have some advance warning instead of showing up and hoping I wouldn't mess up too badly. Incidentally, she returned to the ward in August, but she's since been called to something else.

We used to have a ward choir pianist, but I'm not sure we do anymore. She might have moved out too. The last two times the choir sang in church, the people who accompanied on piano were myself (asked to do so the night before) and the choir director (I think he might have been expecting me to play that week, but I didn't show up to choir rehearsal).

We have a ward chorister. I'm also not sure who that is. She wasn't at church yesterday. Thankfully, the former music chair mentioned two paragraphs ago filled in when she noticed (as I stalled in starting the opening hymn) that there was no one to conduct.

We had an assistant organist at one point, but I never actually knew who that was. When I told the bishop I needed to stop playing for a while because of my tendinitis, he asked the choir director to play, rather than the assistant organist.

And now the choir director just sent me an email saying that he moved.

Sigh.

I'm also the music head for Relief Society, and guess what? My pianist just moved.

We also got a new bishopric on Sunday.

This is scaring me. Why? Because a) I explained the situation to the bishopric (we need a music chair!), b) they asked me to pick the hymns for next Sunday, and c) because of a and b, the bishopric knows who I am.

Could this be premature worry? I really hope so. I'm sure there are lots of people in the ward who know how to direct a choir or pick hymns or coordinate musical numbers and those sorts of things. I enjoy my calling as organist. It's just the right amount of stress for me.

This has happened to me a few times before, actually. I move to a new place, they find out I can play the piano/organ or conduct, I get put into a decent calling like choir pianist or ward organist or choir conductor... then someone moves and Super Betty is called upon to fill in while they can call someone else (which usually doesn't happen until I move a few months later).

Hopefully in a few weeks we'll have things settled down and have a new committee chair and choir conductor and Relief Society pianist and all that. And if I happen to receive a new calling too, well... it may just be time to move.



P.S. I would not actually move to avoid a calling. Sheesh.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trick-or-Treat!

Father and Mother Edit never knew this, but... Queen Tuffet and I sometimes went trick-or-treating twice on Halloween when we were kids.

We were so excited to get some candy that at about 5:00 or so, we'd put on some stupid costume--rubber hairy hands or spider legs or an ugly mask--then go to the bottom of the hill and work our way up. Then, after dinner, we got into our real costumes and went trick-or-treating again.

The only problem with this was that the people on our side of the street didn't give out that great of candy, and we were always too chicken to go to the other side of the street and really make an afternoon of it. Plus we had to be fast because we didn't want Mother Edit to notice we were missing...

Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure Queen Tuffet did this at all. I wonder if it was just me. Hmm.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cat's Meow

video

Last week I took Anya to get her claws trimmed. This is the sound she made all the way there (with various photos for added interest).

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Can Do It!

Today I decided that I really can set goals and stick to them. Want to know how I know?

When I was a baby, I was so helpless I couldn't even walk. That fact notwithstanding, I learned to crawl, and from there learned to stand, and finally learned to walk. Everyone was so proud of me, and you know what? I haven't given up walking since.

See? Setting and accomplishing life-long goals just comes naturally to me. I can do it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

What did Betty buy today?

A. Chocolate
B. A kitten
C. A bowling ball
D. A book
E. Sheet music
F. Dinner
G. Fins (for swimming)
H. Pens
I. All of the above
J. None of the above
K. a, d and f only
L. b, f and h only
M. d and e
N. c and g

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beethoven's Fifth: My Proudest Moment

duh duh duh DUN!

That was an exciting opening, don't you think?

I took a course in college on the Romantic symphony, which was a truly enjoyable class, and our teacher had us listen to recordings of certain pieces. Most of the recordings were performed by the
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. For those of you who don't know, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique seeks to perform each work with as much historical accuracy as possible, including playing on period instruments and using a lower standard pitch than today's orchestras use.

The recordings are fantastic. Whenever I listen to music, I prefer the John Eliot Gardiner version to any other recording. Over the months of the class and beyond, my ears grew trained to those recordings. I didn't realize how accustomed I was to them—or that I could really tell that much of a difference—until one day a couple years later.

I was in a classic Classical mood, if that makes sense, and wanted to listen to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (because it's a classic, see?). I decided to mix things up a bit and listen to one of my old recordings instead of the Orchestre. I put the cd in my car's player and was reaching for my seatbelt when the first notes sounded (see the first line of this post).

"BLAGH!" I cried.

THE MUSIC WAS IN THE WRONG KEY!

I ejected the offending cd and put in my old favorite with Gardiner. Could my ears really detect the half-step (if that) variance in the two recordings of Beethoven's Fifth? I listened as the Orchestre began the first movement: it was definitely lower-pitched. I put in the other cd again. It sounded weird. Besides the pitch, the conductor took the movement slower than Gardiner, which was not nearly as exciting. I couldn't listen to it. It just wasn't right.

My ears amaze me sometimes. I had no idea I could hear that sort of thing, but it sure makes me proud. Good old ears.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Full Moon

I sometimes wonder why there aren't more female werewolves. It seems like a monthly transformation into a vicious uncontrollable monster would more naturally align with the female sex, but female werewolves are so rarely seen.

Perhaps the closeness between women and werewolves is what attracts us to them*. Hm. Who knows.


*I was talking about Lupin there, not Jacob (though I've nothing against Jacob; he's a very nice boy).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's in a Box... In the Garage

If my life were a novel, some English teacher would be asking her students to write an essay on the symbolism of the "box in the garage". What role does this box play in Betty's life? What is its deeper meaning?

Ever since I can remember, I've had a box in the garage. It used to be just one. One box of my stuff in my parents' garage. Now it is quite a few more, though I've never actually taken the time to count. All of my horn music, dishes, kitchen gadgets and appliances, linens, Christmas decorations, some clothing, and hundreds and hundreds of books are stored not-so-neatly in boxes in Father and Mother Edit's garage.

My small consolation is that at least I'm not the only child with boxes in the garage. If you were to clear out the Edit garage of all the boxes belonging to me, Queen Tuffett, Hollywood, and all the other children, there would actually be room for a car in the garage, maybe even two.

I do feel bad about the boxes, and I really do miss my books and kitchen doo-dads. Someday I'll live in a place where I can have enough space to make use of the two beautiful bookshelves my SuperAunts gave me. For now, however, the boxes in the garage have become more of a running joke between us. Have you lost that old shirt you loved to wear? It's in a box in the garage. Are you looking for your favorite ice cream scoop? It's in a box in the garage. Has your choir music mysteriously disappeared? It's most likely in a box in the garage.

The answer to any question concerning a lost item is always, "It's in a box... in the garage."

Translated, this useful phrase means, "You will never see it again, unless you spend hours and hours, and maybe even days in the garage, sifting through boxes."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Traffic by the Block

When I drive to work I like to play a game: using the stopwatch on my phone, I time how long it takes for me to drive each block. I enjoy this game for two reasons: first, it makes me feel less impatient because I see how long each block takes, which is not a long period of time; and second, it makes me enjoy red lights because then I can look at that block and say, "Whoah, look how long that light was! One minute and thirty-three seconds!" I like to see how short the shortest block is, and how long the longest block is.

Today's numbers:

Block 1: 52 seconds
Block 2: 15 seconds
Block 3: 16 seconds
Block 4: 16 seconds
Block 5: 16 seconds
Block 6: 18 seconds
Block 7: 25 seconds
Block 8: 25 seconds
Block 9: 17 seconds
Block 10: 14 seconds
Block 11: 15 seconds
Block 12: 16 seconds
Block 13: 37 seconds
Block 14: 41 seconds
Block 15: 55 seconds
Block 16: 32 seconds
Block 17: 14 seconds
Block 18: 41 seconds

Total time: 7:45
Average time per block: 25.83 seconds
Lowest time: 14 seconds
Highest time: 55 seconds

That's a pretty low "highest time", actually. Normally I hit more red lights, traffic, construction, etc. My highest time for a single block was over four minutes. That was not a fun block.

I wonder if other people play games like this to keep themselves from getting frustrated.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stickers on my Shoe

When I was a teenager, I used to put a star or flag sticker on some of my Sunday shoes.

The end.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nightmare

I was principal horn for this semi-professional group, and we were getting ready to perform. None of the other hornists, however, had shown up yet. I pulled my horn out to doodle around a bit, but there was water in it. As I emptied the water, I was horrified to realize (and I can say "horrified" because it was a dream, and emotions are always intense in dreams) that I hadn't emptied the water the last time I played, which had been some years ago. In fact, there had been so much water back when I put the horn away that now the tubes were all crusted and covered with a thick layer of crud, kind of like an almost-blocked artery. The third valve slide had so much water, it was like I'd stuck it in a bathtub. I was trying to find my snake so I could clean out all the gunk.

For some reason there were green-painted wooden boards set up as thin walls--perhaps to act as baffles?--but they were in front and on the sides of the horn section (who still hadn't shown up yet), not the back. I really wouldn't have cared about the boards except that they were too high: I couldn't see the conductor. As first horn, I had an important part that was key to the music we were to perform, but I couldn't even see unless I stood on tiptoe on the chair--not a safe position in which to play.

The saxophones showed up and told me I was in the wrong section, and was supposed to be over there. I contemplated the logistics of how to move my horn, which was in pieces on my lap (so I could clean it).

Then my roommate woke me up and asked if I could give her a ride to work since her car had a flat tire.

What a weird dream.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rebecca Reads

Blast.

I was going to post a blog about how one of my relations, Rebecca, was a finalist for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week's Best General Review Blog award for her blog, Rebecca Reads.

Then, however, I was interrupted halfway through writing the post and didn't come back to it until now, and the voting is over.

Congratulations anyway, Rebecca!

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Love, Moleskine

There is nothing quite as exhilarating as a new Moleskine planner. I've been infatuated with Moleskine products for some time now, and still, after all these years, a new Moleskine anything never fails to delight me. A new Moleskine planner is just sheer joy.

My heart is all aflutter.

Sigh.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Aquafresh

I use Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste. I only started using this brand fairly recently, so I'm still figuring out flavors and varieties. It's more difficult than you would expect. Do you ever just stand in front of the shelves of toothpaste and stare? WHAT is the difference? Here were my choices:


This is an old package, but on the new one it says:
WHITENING ACTION: FOR WHITER TEETH
____________________


POLISHING ACTION: POLISHED TEETH STAY CLEANER LONGER
____________________


FRESHENING ACTION: FIGHTS SOURCES OF BAD BREATH
____________________

DEEP ACTION: SEEKS OUT HARD TO REACH PLACES

Ok, so I can either have whiter teeth, cleaner teeth, good breath, or clean hard-to-reach places. To me, this is confusing. Why can't I have all four? Why can't my teeth be white AND clean for a long time? I decided to go online to get to the bottom of it. Here's what they said about the Extreme Clean line in general:

Because your mouth is completely unique, Aquafresh Extreme Clean has a micro-active foam that gets into hard-to-reach places--from in-between teeth to the back of your tongue--to give you smoother, cleaner teeth that stay that way longer.

Then it lists these four amazing features/benefits:

-Contains all the power of triple protection plus special micro-active foaming action
-Protects teeth and showers your whole mouth--teeth, gums and tongue--with thousands of germ killing bubbles.
-Rinses clean and clear, leaving nothing behind but clean, white teeth.
-Has a distinctive, refreshing mint flavor that leaves an icy cool, sparkling feeling long after you brush.

Swell. Now, what is the difference between all these different types of toothpaste, then? They give the answer to that, too:

WHITENING ACTION: FOR WHITER TEETH
includes gentle whiteners for a brighter smile

POLISHING ACTION: POLISHED TEETH STAY CLEANER LONGER
micro-polishing system carefully polishes teeth

FRESHENING ACTION: FIGHTS SOURCES OF BAD BREATH
has an icy cool mint flavor

DEEP ACTION: SEEKS OUT HARD TO REACH PLACES
has a distinctive citrus mint flavor

I must say I am confused. I really don't know what to believe anymore. I ended up buying the "deep action" because hey, if the toothpaste is going to seek out hard-to-reach places, I hardly have to do a thing. My toothpaste does have a distinctive flavor, but I didn't realize it was citrus mint. Good thing I'm not writing their blurbs.

I think I'm going to buy one of each over the next several months, then save the tubes to compare ingredients and such. I wonder what they put in that "gently" whitens, and what they put in that "carefully" polishes, and what they put in that seeks out hard-to-reach places. Sounds pretty sneaky to me. The only one that makes sense is the Freshening Action: fresh breath, minty flavor. Got it.

And I thought toothpaste was just toothpaste.