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Writing, Biking, Knitting [Oct. 30th, 2012|09:04 pm]
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[Current Mood |accomplished]

Arriving home from the NYC trip and almost immediately falling sick (a flu-like illness, but it either wasn't flu, or the flu shot taken before the trip changed its course somewhat) did nothing to accelerate writing, biking, or knitting.  Or, for that matter, house-cleaning, laundry, cooking...or anything else.

However, well at last, I'm back on track in all three areas.   

Writing--finished and emailed away an essay for an anthology.   Am mentally blocking out the next essay, a foreword for the tenth anniversary edition of The Speed of Dark, and making notes on the changes I thought of for Book V of the current series.   Unfortunately the writing I did on the way home seems to have been affected by whatever virus was about to take me down, esp. on the Chicago-to-Texas leg.   But ideas are percolating nicely.  Biking--ramped up the amount of bike-riding and associated walking (since I can't ride as far as I would like, yet--and pushing the bike along is also exercise.) Today rode almost all the way down to Main and back (almost, because of the broken and uneven pavement in the last 50 yards.)  That's almost a mile, and I also rode (or pushed the bike) on the land,  for just under a half hour.   Heart-rate monitor is helping me track progress and avoid overdoing things.   Riding the bike on the land is a lot more fun than the bike trainer indoors.   Knitting--the Turquoise One pair of socks aren't finished (they made great progress as far as Syracuse, NY on the train, and I turned the heels at my friend's house in Oswego, but slowed down after that.  However, I do expect to finish them before Thanksgiving; they're approaching the toe decreases.   (Ideally, finish them AND Red Three, so I can start on Turquoise Two and Purple One.)  I'm wearing all six finished pairs in sequence, and I can really tell he difference between the early pairs and the later ones.   Want more of the later kind. 


[User Picture]From: xrian
2012-10-31 02:18 pm (UTC)
You could get brave and adventurous and make a stripey pair ;)

(Happily pushing my favorite drug, knitting!)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-10-31 02:30 pm (UTC)
Next on the brave and adventurous front is learning to do cables. I want to do knee socks, and I want to do cables on the knee socks. Stripey socks come after I've used up all my solid-color sock yarn; the leftover yarn will be turned into stripey or patchwork or something socks.

However, before anything else, I want to get to enough simple socks, which I don't quite have yet. Three pair was better than one pair, and six pair's certainly better than three pair, but in case of illness or some other reason why I can't wash every day's socks the next morning, I want a full two weeks of socks in hand. (Also, the first pairs, in which I was learning things, are best suited for occasions when my feet are really swollen, as they're, um, larger. Both socks and feet, that is.) I want enough Superwash socks that I can wash several pair in the machine at once, along with other colors I don't mind being contaminated with the sock color. (The only non-color-leaking socks in the bunch are the medium blue ones. Although the first pair, red, no longer leak as much, they still tinge the water with a little pink.

Meanwhile, biking provides the adventures. The day I can ride all the way through the dry woods, including Cactus Flat and the hump up and over the high point of the trail, and out the View Corner...all the way without stopping--will be a day of triumph. The trail has a lot of turns, a lot of change of grade, change of surface, and moreover is bordered by things that are thorny (most noticeably the cactus), scratchy (the elbowbush and scrub live oaks,) and capable of concealing large rattlesnakes.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-11-01 08:47 pm (UTC)

I wanted to post, but not to be the first

Karen here.

I'm so glad that my favorite living author gets a chance to live a little longer -- and to enjoy life -- is precious.

Knowing that she is working on the issues that will help her live longer is a wonderful addition!
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[User Picture]From: fair_witness
2012-11-04 12:30 pm (UTC)
Self-striping yarn will save your sanity if you want stripey socks.
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[User Picture]From: shockwave77598
2012-10-31 02:26 pm (UTC)
Has it been 10 years already? Wow. I enjoyed that story.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-11-02 02:51 am (UTC)
Any comments on the 3-night marathon during the trip that you mentioned on someone else's blog? Be fun to hear about it if it's interesting to provide.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-11-02 03:54 am (UTC)
Um...now I'm having a memory lapse. Was that about the operas? My heavens, the operas were wonderful. I came out of three successive nights of opera ready for another three, except I was exhausted. I had incredible luck in being there when those particular operas were on...so very different, but such gorgeous music in all. I'm now listening to the CDs I bought (sparingly, because I'm also working on Book V, for which only the first is, at the moment, suitable music.) The CDs don't have the casts I heard--hoping to remedy that, when recordings of those come out.

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From: (Anonymous)
2012-11-04 12:35 am (UTC)
Yes, & glad you enjoyed it! I love opera, with little opportunity now for the live version. Always fun to hear people's comments and/or reviews. Love hearing you were ready for 3 more.
R :)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-11-04 01:37 am (UTC)
Living where I live pretty much defines "little opportunity for the live version." A few years ago, I was going to be in NYC to see my editor and agent, and asked an opera buff friend who lives there to help me have the "real opera company" opera experience. I had saved up to go to this, and it was amazing (and led to the recent splurge.) I'd seen a touring company in South Texas, and another touring company in central Texas, and one humdinger of a production of Die Meistersinger in San Antonio back when the big convention center was fairly new. Both the touring company productions had good principle singers, but the productions...kind of...lacked. And none of them (other than the one in San Antonio) were in venues with really good acoustics.

So my first Met opera was the then-new (and not much favored) production of Tosca, at which I went with two friends. That convinced me I'd like to hear more. When I was planning this trip, I planned one opera, but then discovered the Met's fiendish little "Trio" special. There's also the seats kept open for rush tickets, which those over 65 can try for earlier than others, but my opera-buff friend in NYC said they often ran out very early, and better to get the Trio tickets. Which I did. I opted for seats in the best section of the balcony and having experienced that will choose that again. Hanging high in the air over the audience in the orchestra allows the music to surround you in a way that it didn't when I saw "Tosca" from the orchestra level.

I was there the perfect week (for me anyway) with the 3 that were on the nights I could go--three very different operas by different composers that built from the lush and lilting "L'Elisir d'Amore" to the high-opera tragedy of "Il Trovatore", with "Carmen" in the middle. For an opera novice, this was perfect. When I went to pick up my tickets at the will-call office on Wednesday morning, I also went to the Met's gift shop and bought CDs of those three operas--not to listen to before the operas, but to be shipped home so I could listen at home and cement the music. These were not, naturally, the performances I would hear (L'Elisir d'Amore, for instance, has Joan Sutherland as Adina and Pavarotti as Nemorino, a 1970 recording.) I wanted to hear the operas with fresh ears, and I'm glad I did it that way.

The whole thing was magical. I was staying across the street from Lincoln Center, on a short block of 63rd between Broadway and Columbus, so it was an easy walk across the street and then through the great welcoming court toward the Metropolitan Opera. My hotel room--not furnished with a view-- had a live videocam of Lincoln center and one of Columbus Circle on the TV to make up for that. I kept mine on Lincoln Center most of the time I was there--it was fun to watch people walking by.

I did a nightly post to my newsgroup at SFF.net, but the whole trip was so frantic I didn't manage to post here. I'll see if I can copy paste those posts...
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-11-04 01:46 am (UTC)

First Night at the Opera (copied from SFFnet post)

L'Elisir d'Amour is Donizetti to the hilt, which is...chocolate mousse with
whipped cream on top and maybe a hint of bourbon.

Tonight was sheer glorious musical magic. I knew the storyline, so didn't turn on the subtitles the Met (bless its heart & understanding of the modern American's grasp of both opera and foreign languages) puts on the back of each seat. Anna Netrebko as Adina. Matthew Polenzani as Nemorino. Mariusz Kwiecien as Sergeant Belcore. Ambrogio Maestri as Doctor Dulcamara. Anne-Carolyn Bird as Giannetta. Met orchestra conducted by Maurizio Benini.

Editor and I had supper across the street from Lincoln Center (I had chicken pot-pie, sure that that wouldn't give me stomach rumbles or any other problem) and then strolled over in easy time to climb the stairs (lots of stairs) to our levels. My seat was in the Balcony level, second row, aisle seat on the far right, but with an excellent view of the stage; she was in the Family Circle.

We met again at intermission. My little pillbox I bought earlier, and packed with three cough drops and a few mints came in very handy--needed one each and having pre-unwrapped a cough drop was able to get it silently during the pause between scenes. No coughs from me (others were coughing, though not many.)

SO: the lights went down (and up, because the lower lights rise up out of the way as they dim) and the orchestra let go with the overture, and we were off. This new production emphasizes the political situation in Italy at the time--the simmering resentment of Austrian rule--and uses that to create delightful bits of action behind the main story. For instance, when Doctor Dulcamara comes to town to sell his magic elixirs--and the crowd in front of him (including the soldiers) is under his spell, out the other end of his wagon, firearms are being passed from hand to hand to conspirators in the town.

The principals seemed well-matched in voice and in their acting ability--Netrebko and Polenzani both took my breath away and raised goosebumps in places. Incredible. She can do things with her voice--beautifully and in character--that are just unbelievable. And he is right up there with her. If PBS shows this, watch it. Tonight's performance was being broadcast live on the Metropolitan Opera

After the opera, Editor and I went out for dessert, committing profiteroles
at an Italian place just over on Broadway, an easy walk away. WHAT an evening.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-11-04 01:51 am (UTC)

Second Night at the Opera (copied from SFFnet post)

I made it! [edit added for this: I'd had a gut disturbance earlier in the day)

And wow, what a Carmen. Anita Rachvelishvili from the Republic of Georgia...and she looks like a Gypsy, or our imagination of Gypsies. Voice--beyond words perfect. Acting--ditto. Kate Royal, an English soprano, was an excellent Michaela, but acting better than voice (in my unschooled opinion. Yonghun Lee, from South Korea, was Don Jose, and at first I wasn't sure about his voice...but
when he really let it out, it's a BIG tenor voice from a small, slight man. The "Flower Song" was what it should be--poignance and power together. Dwayne Croft as Escamillo was the weakest of the four main voices, but not weak, and again--he can definitely act.

I was in the third row of the balcony, right in the center (seat 110 if you know the arrangements) with excellent viewing and acoustics married only by the couple to my left, whom I would have been happy to *poof* away if I could have. The woman (who was next to me) wasn't thrilled about being at the opera, and chose the quieter arias to crackle paper as she ate a succession of candies and munched them noisily. The man played teasing games with the woman (and he had big white hands, so they caught the ambient light as they moved and he was also threatening to tap people in the row ahead...grrr.) In the scene
changes, intermission, and before and after, he talked scathingly about the set (that it was cheap of the Met not to do a better job so the set looked perfect from every perspective...if you want that, you buy orchestra seats, you idiot!) and sneeringly about the opera. He did finally say at the end that it was a good Carmen and he'd enjoyed it. I wish they'd both shut up and kept quiet the whole time so I wasn't distracted. She made noise even during Michaela's aria.

The couple on my right, though, were genuine opera lovers and I couldn't very well ruin their enjoyment by savaging the ones on my left. SIGH.

But even so...worth every penny and every effort to get there and stay through it.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-11-04 01:54 am (UTC)

Third Night at the Opera (copied from SFFnet post)

I am so doomed. Well, not as doomed as the poor souls in the opera, but doomed nonetheless. Recall how I said I would find out if three operas in three nights was too much? It's not too much. It's not ENOUGH. Want MORE. At the moment, my brain is insisting that one opera a night is just barely subsistence for it.

Il Trovatore is...hard to describe briefly, except gorgeous. Music. Verdi,which means very different music from Bizet or Donizetti, in ways that a musical expert could describe properly, but I can't...Donizetti was like filling the musical mind with chocolate and whipped cream and little crispy bits of something,
only instead of just wonderful flavors and calories, it was also nourishing and good for you. Bizet was sharp, distinct flavors--smoky and sour/bitter/sweet as limes, and sharp/hot like peppers. An exciting meal, even a satisfying meal, but perhaps a hint of indigestion (of course, I'd had major indigestion before
it, so maybe that factors in.) Verdi...and I was indeed reminded of both the Gloria and the Requiem...is a long, long farmhouse table piled with everything: bread, olives, ham, eggs, great clusters of grapes and apples and pears and plums...the whole cornucopia flung out at once, but all around the table are quarreling, loving, angry, resentful, happy, carefree, frightened, busy, lazy people.

Oh yeah, and this one has the Anvil Chorus. With anvils. With hammers. With bare-chested guys wielding the hammers. And such is the opera that the Anvil Chorus really is just an incident.

Must quit now, because I have to get up and get ready for Ruta's daughter's wedding in the morning.

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From: (Anonymous)
2012-11-04 03:57 pm (UTC)

Re: Third Night at the Opera (copied from SFFnet post)

Wow, you sure did get a range in your trio. I like the image of different foods describing the music. (Live) opera can indeed be nutritious, & feeds one on multiple levels.

It's always interesting to discover where a piece familiar in isolation, like the Anvil Chorus or the Toreador Song, fits into a musical story.

Thanks so much for posting these here.
R :)

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From: (Anonymous)
2012-11-04 03:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Second Night at the Opera (copied from SFFnet post)

That sounds wonderful. When Michaela is a strong character it helps the story a lot. Escamillo is a tough sing, usually cast with a bass-baritone because it lies both high & low. Croft is a baritone, but I'd agree that he can act. (NB: his brother Richard is an amazing tenor currently teaching at UNT. Don't know how much he's singing around TX but keep an ear out for him in your travels.)

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From: (Anonymous)
2012-11-04 03:31 pm (UTC)

Re: First Night at the Opera (copied from SFFnet post)

Those lights going up really got me the first time I was there in the top balcony. Thought I was having issues with being up that high & near the front. What a relief to see that the lights really *were* going up!

Goosebumps is a great compliment, always wonderful when the principals are well matched.

R :)
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