Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Truant Chorister

Welcome! and pull up a chair, for the first test-run of a new series: Tales of a Truant Chorister. 

It really belongs on a new, dedicated blog, but in the interest of actually getting it posted, will live here for the time being.

For health reasons I tend to bat about 50% in terms of choir attendance, but I am lucky enough to belong to a fun and welcoming and supportive and incredibly patient group of singing church members who, when gathered together, are: The First Presbyterian Sanctuary Choir.

This Week:

We were honored to be joined by the estimable and delightful Marion Pratnicki for a final voice lesson masterclass, leading us in breathing exercises and bestowing such excellent wisdom as:

  • Dehydration is the enemy.
  • Apples and grapes are preferred vocalist-approved snacks.
  • Caffeine, mint, chocolate, and cinnamon are the devil. 
At which point, I'm afraid M Dodds very nearly lost half the choir. 
Swearing off Pumpkin Spice Lattes this early in Fall is a bridge too far, sir!  
Not to mention harpooning my planned Early Service Social Media event: 
 "Will Sing For Coffee"

Thankfully, a tentative truce was reached by vowing to never be further than 3 feet from a water bottle from now until Christmas Concert.

Regarding the standard course syllabus: 

If you have never had the good fortune to crash a choir rehearsal with M. Dodds, then you have no idea how many nuggets of knowledge you are missing.

We are weekly treated to all sorts of wisdom musical, historical, ecclesiastical. You sing, and you learn.

Fun Facts:

Among the most often played congregational hymns, words that start with "guttural" sounds (like, ya know.. "God") almost never appear in the middle of a line. Because awkward.

We know this because there was a research study.

And now I have this vision of groups of grad students combing through old hymnals, counting 'G' sounds.

Lessons in Music Literature:

Queen of the Night Aria, as performed by Diana Damrau and Parrots.

Coloratura is the type of singing involved in said aria.

Rage Aria is a type of aria to which said aria belongs, and the fact that "Rage Aria" is an actual thing might be my favorite fact about operas.


This Sunday is World Communion Sunday! Expect some world music at most every service anywhere, and enjoy the feeling of unity between your faith community and believers world-wide as we celebrate "The Lord's Supper", as the kids used to call it back in my Baptist days.

But be fore-armed if you're planning to hit early church at 3rd and Cherry; you might want to review the Anthem Of The Week.

I'm not saying there might be audience participation, I'm just saying there will definitely be audience participation.

Reason Number 17 for joining choir:

Music Therapy May Alleviate Psychological, Physical Symptoms Related to Cancer 

Seeya next week, with more fun-facts and helpful hints for hacking choir rehearsals (hint: there's an app for that.)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Music Monday: First Air Of Autumn

The weather around here has just started to turn... It's still pretty muggy, but topping out in the 70's. Almost time to dig out the sweaters and mittens.

Drive By Truckers
First Air Of Autumn

More Music Mondays

Monday, September 19, 2016

Music Monday: I Want You To Be My Love

One last song in honor of the Wedding Weekend Extravaganza: a long-time favorite from the Cincinnati duo Over the Rhine.

Over The Rhine -- I Want You To Be My Love

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Resources And Recs: Medical Supply Companies in Winston Salem

During the Great Search for a good set of crutches, I realized that others might be able to benefit from my (many) Goldilocks experiences through the local medical system.

I've written a short review of my encounters at the medical supply companies I visited, which I will share here, but have also posted on a new page: Resources and Recs.

The link to Resources will always be available at the top Nav Bar, so it will be easy to find.

One caveat: I struggle with sharing my many frustrating, strange, sometimes hilarious encounters with specific medical providers.. It doesn't seem fair to the individual to 'out' them this way. So whenever possible, I may relate my experience and refer to the office or group they refer to, and encourage readers to contact me directly if they are looking for more info in a provider search.

So here it is, the first addition to "Resources and Recs":

In my search for Lofstrand crutches, in which I needed to find not just affordable crutches, but input/advice/guidance on mobility aides in general:

Forsyth Medical Supply -- 
- did not take insurance; no discount offered
- crowded store
- not much guidance offered

Bio-Tech -- 
- genuinely helpful and engaged
- does take insurance
- does not sell crutches or wheelchairs -- only orthotics and prosthetics

Holladay Medical Supply -- 
- somewhat difficult to navigate
- does not file insurance, but offers affordable pricing
- genuinely caring and helpful; spending a significant amount of time researching options and finding the best solution
Bonus points: a friend seconds the Holladay recommendation, due to their help and assistance when she was caring for a family member.

Advanced Home Care -- 
- seems to specialize in lift chairs, walkers, wheelchairs, and breathing equipment
- helped fix the walking sticks with a few extra parts
- only offered one (poorly designed) pair of crutches
- does file insurance
- offered out-of-the-box solutions

The Blog Recommends: 

If you're specifically looking for crutches, I think the best bet is Holladay.

If you are looking for crutches and need to file insurance, the best bet is to keep looking.

But if you're looking for equipment or mobility aids aside from crutches, I'd recommend everyone except Forsyth Medical. They weren't terrible, just not as good as the rest.

More Resources

Monday, September 12, 2016

Music Monday: Heavenly Day

Continuing in the 'They Should Be Standard Wedding Songs' Genre: This favorite, well-loved by both myself and the Florida Wildcat.

And sure, it works for the ceremony walk-ins, first dances, and just about all points in-between.

But personally I love it best for lounging on the back porch on a regular old late summer evening....

Patty Griffin -- Heavenly Day

More Music Mondays

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Marking Year Plus-15

“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors,
the men it remembers.” John F. Kennedy

My annual day of remembrance tradition always includes watching the American Experience New York documentary (specifically, the last episode, on the history, building, and legacy of the WTC).

And this year, watching the CBS Sunday Morning article on the memorial, museum, and newly opened terminal at the WTC complex. [Video Link]

Last Year's: Marking Year Plus-14

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Five: Broken and Mended

Broken and Mended

Things that were either broken or needed work in the last week or so:

Glass candy-shaped chatchkies -- broken when I ran into/tripped over the coffee table, sending them flying across the floor. Unable to fix, but had to clean up the mess.

Wasps -- attempting to build a new nest in the siding just above my usual front-porch-sitting-spot.

Fixed by an adventurous trip to the hardware store in which I had to explain that yes, I do use walking sticks because yes, I do have balance issues, but I am, actually, planning on taking care of this myself if at all possible. (Gentleman employee looked suspiciously at the sticks and the phrase "not sure what this situation is" was used. He meant well and I do not begrudge him the awkwardness, but it was NOT the right day for such an encounter).

And then spraying said wasp next from a second-floor perch, after taking out the window and screen from an upstairs window. The Gato Diablo was very unhappy for a few days, as I would not let her outside lest the residual spray was still hanging around.

Hiking Sticks -- the hiking sticks were a good idea but have been problematic for a number of reasons (stay tuned on an upcoming post about the pros and cons....). But because I use them in a way they weren't really designed for: straps are broken (because I used the straps as leverage, to support my body weight.. so the sticks by themselves without them are just not as helpful), and feety-things are completely worn out, with the metal poking through. All of it fixable but in the long run, crutches are probably the safer/better option.

Cable Modem -- fixed with a ridiculous trip to the Cable company storefront, which resulted in a new modem with better features but zero instructions, taking the better part of a day to set up.

Legs -- Not literally broken, like bones or anything, but after failing to find a parking spot, walking two blocks to church, spending several hours in an epsecially physically active choir practice... well, lets just say there wasn't a lot of leaving the couch the next day. Legs felt like I'd spend an hour doing hill-repeats followed by a good round of squats and deadlifts for good measure. Painful and weak and I'm afraid this is TMI, but one of those days where I was sick in my stomach anytime I stood up. Yick.

Bonus points: forgot to turn the stove off this afternoon. A sad day for Leftovers....

Here's to a better week ahead!