May. 4th, 2016 11:14 am
semperfiona: (maple)
Last week was exceedingly busy for me. Rehearsals Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and concerts Friday and Saturday evenings. I left home at seven am and didn't get home until nearly eleven pm each day. Saturday I did have a bit of a reprieve, since I didn't have to work, and I spent the whole afternoon hanging out with Claudia. But after the show we had to load out the risers, sets and props, and then had an "after party" dinner out, so I didn't get home until one am.

The concerts went amazingly well. We sang some silly songs and some deep and meaningful songs. Act 1 was a peek behind the scenes of Charis rehearsals; there were acted skits between each song that kind of set them into context: A new member comes to join Charis, this is what she experiences. Then Act 2 was the set for the GALA festival in Denver in July which I won't be able to attend but I'm hoping that if I'm still in Charis in four years when the next one occurs that I will be able to go that time.

Here's what we sang. I can't find good examples on youtube of all of them (and we're not on there (yet?).

    Act 1
  • curtain up

  • Another Op'nin', Another Show (Cole Porter, from "Kiss Me Kate")

  • Backdrop display: 14 weeks earlier...

  • skit about pre-rehearsal chatter, new member shows up

  • Scales and Arpeggios (from "The Aristocats")

  • skit about "Sectional Identity" (altos vs sopranos)

  • Alto's Lament

  • skit about singing in foreign languages

  • Lambscapes (Eric Lane Barnes)

      This is basically Mary Had a Little Lamb in the style of...
    • I Gregorian Chant

    • II Handel

    • III Schubert

    • IV Verdi - guest soloist

    • V Orff

    • (We skipped Movement VI for having too many errors in the sheet music)

    • VII Gospel

  • skit about production and sets, while setting up for:

  • Kiss the Girl (from "The Little Mermaid")

  • skit about board meetings

  • Lesbian Second Date Moving Service

  • skit about announcements

  • Announcement Song (music from Another Opnin, Another Show, words by chorus member)

    Act 2
  • Guest soloist, two arias (that we chorus members didn't get to hear, due to being in the hall lining up for the next piece)

  • Freedom Come (sung from the aisles of the theater, social justice photo montage)

  • Women Rock the 80's

  • Singing for our Lives (Holly Near, arr. our director)

  • No Time

  • Chapo Pou Fanm (Sidney Guillaume, in Haitian Kreyol)

  • Real Clothes (Melinda Ohlemuller and Symmetry)

  • Jambalaya (Hank Williams)

  • teach a verse of Singing for our Lives to the audience, sing with them from the aisles

14 weeks earlier... (as the early backdrop for the concert said)

This January, I joined the St Louis Women's Chorus, CHARIS. One of my Facebook friends has been posting invitations to the open rehearsals for several years now, and I've generally given it a moment's thought and then forgotten about it. But this year was different.

One day I was sitting in the living room talking to Tammie, complaining that there wasn't enough group singing in my life (it's one of the very few things I miss about regular church attendance), and saying that while pagan chant is enjoyable, it just wasn't Quite The Thing for me. "I wanna sing SHOW TUNES!" I lamented. The very next day, there was a Facebook invite from Alison. (She goes by Al, but for purposes of differentiation, she's going to be Alison here.) So having been slapped in the face by my sign from the universe, I went to my first rehearsal.

After the first one, I also dragged Rosa to them. I told her she should come to three rehearsals, but I wouldn't force her to keep coming after that if she hated it. "But there's another 16-year-old that joined, Laurel, and you have a lot in common." Rosa came for rehearsals for a while, but she had told me from the beginning that she didn't want to perform. I was hoping she'd change her mind, but she never did, and after six weeks or so she also developed a wheeze that seemed to get worse after singing. I decided to let her drop out so that the remaining group could concentrate on blending our sound among the ones who really were going to perform, and because she and Laurel were becoming a distraction by whispering together during practice.

It's been a lot of hard work, weekly rehearsals as well as private practice time (which for me has mostly been in the car, singing along with our practice tracks) and two full-day Saturday rehearsals. But it was only just barely enough time to learn all the songs by heart and get my part down sufficiently so as not to slide onto the next section's part instead. At the last minute (last Wednesday's rehearsal), we had to give up on memorization for one particularly difficult song and work out a smooth way to bring the music folders out for it. Too many of the chorus members just hadn't been able to memorize it. I'd gotten close, but I would have needed about one more week to get there--a week we obviously didn't have.

I am the sort of singer who really isn't naturally "good". I don't have perfect pitch, not even close, and I can only just manage relative pitch with moderate accuracy (i.e., go up or down a step or half step or a third or whatever). Inside my head, my imagined music sounds perfect, but what comes out my face when I start singing almost never matches it, and even I can tell it doesn't. However, with A LOT of practice and/or a strong singer to listen to and follow, I can sing pretty well.

So this has been something of a stretch goal for me. Something I knew I could do, but would have to work hard at. And that's been a really good thing for me.

The only bummer is that I'd been hoping to make some new friends out of the chorus, and that hasn't really happened. Yet? Everyone has been friendly at the rehearsals and such, but no one has yet clicked with me personally. It is still a source of community, though, and that's good.

I'm not going to be able to attend many of the other Charis appearances over the summer due to conflicts, but I am planning to stick with it for next fall.
semperfiona: (maple)
First actual Charis (St Louis Women's Chorus) rehearsal was Tuesday. I made Rosa come with me, and she has agreed to come back for at least the two more open rehearsals before deciding whether she wants to stick it out for the whole season. I hope she does, but it's up to her. There is another geeky sixteen-year-old newbie, so that may influence her to stay.

I am going to need a LOT of practice. It's been a very long time since I've attempted to sing in any circumstance other than 'in the car, with the radio/mp3 player'. Rosa can carry a tune much better than I can, but she can neither read music nor follow parts (she kept wanting to follow the melody or sing along with whoever was singing at the time). I told her we can help each other, since I can do both those things.


Yesterday Tammie called me around five. "Cait's inviting one of us to a musical at the Fox. You should go." "Well, I have a massage scheduled..." "You can postpone that." "Good point. And this is supposed to be my year of saying yes to things. I'll do it." Show at 7:30, pick Cait up at 6:45...I had just enough time to cancel my massage, take a shower, stuff my face with Arbys, and watch one episode of Yowamushi Pedal with Rose before I had to jump in the car and zoom away.

Cait's tickets ended up being for the Fox Club. Fancy box seats with waiter service throughout the show! The musical was Newsies, a critically-acclaimed show about the 1899 New York Newsboys Strike. Now you know more about it than I did until I got there and had time to Wikipedia the plot synopsis before the show started. More, because I've given you the links. ;-)

We had a great time, and have resolved to hang out together more often. I regret to say that it's probably been more than a year since I've spent any one-on-one time with Cait. We see each other at most of the polymunches, but that isn't the same.


And lastly...I've been filling my head with "Hamilton" lately, after seeing a dozen blog posts and other chatter about it (starting at Making Light, here, where you can find lots of other links to start with). The cast album is free for streaming on Amazon Prime Music which, conveniently, we have. I believe the whole musical is also available on YouTube although I haven't looked.

I've listened to the cast album three times now and am quite thoroughly earwormed. If you have managed to miss hearing about this, it's a historical musical about (two-hundred-year-old spoiler alert) yes, the dude whose face is on the ten-dollar bill and who got himself shot in a duel with Aaron Burr. It's rap and hip-hop and totally virtuosic and almost entirely race-bent, so comments very eloquently on race relations in the US both now and two-hundred-odd years ago, as well as featuring several named female characters who talk to one another about things which include politics--so yay, Bechdel-passing--and its various themes and plots are summed up rather well in the title of the last song: "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?"

It's absolutely fantastic, I recommend it highly... and fair warning: the second act will leave you reeling and devastated, so I recommend a private place for your first listen. Unless you enjoy sitting at your desk at work sobbing. To each their own after all.

So after last night's show, when I stopped at the grocery store for a couple of things requested by the folks at home, I spotted evidence of Time Magazine's finger on the pulse of the (my) zeitgeist: a special edition magazine entitled "Alexander Hamilton: A Founding Father's Visionary Genius--and His Tragic Fate". It had to come home with me.


Yowamushi Pedal: an anime series that Rosa has recommended to me. We've been watching it together. It's about high school bicycle racers, and I'm actually really enjoying it. I absolutely hate Midousuji and think he's really a demon not a person, but all the other characters have at least some redeeming qualities, even if they are sometimes irritating (like most humans, after all). The protagonist is a very ingenue-riffic wide-eyed first-year named Onoda Sakamichi whose earnestness and innocent enthusiasm are over the top, down the next hill and back up again, but he's also so ridiculously engaging and sweet. His given name means Hill Road, and he specializes as a climber in the team road races (Some of the names are rather in your face if you understand any Japanese at all. There are probably even more in-jokes in the names that I don't get, but there's another climber named Manami Sangaku--Manami Mountain Range.)
semperfiona: (maple)
My daughter, my delightful child, my impossible teenager, just turned 16. She wanted a sweet sixteen party, and she wanted to invite pretty much everyone she knows. In order to satisfy the tastes of the widest possible range of people without exceeding my exhusband's limited budget, we reserved a group of tables at the local HomeTown buffet, and had a party involving Rosa's friends from school, one of her friends' mothers, her father's family, my parents, Tammie & Chris, Emma, and a couple of my friends.

Because my parents came down from Wisconsin, they were here all weekend. As was my girlfriend Chicago!Chris. Luckily for all involved, my parents stay in a hotel when they visit us, partly due to space constraints in our house, partly due to everyone's comfort level with being right on top of one another in a small space, and, of late, partly due to my father's mobility issues. He can't do stairs at all, and until very recently had been using a wheelchair all the time. He's now able to walk a bit again, but still using a wheelchair for extended periods such as Saturday when my parents, Rosa and I went to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Saturday evening I took them to dinner with Tammie, Chris, Chicago!Chris, Rosa and a group of our friends from Conflation. As C!C said when we were making the plans, 'we know they're mundanes, we'll behave'. and everyone mostly did, although mom and dad seemed a bit overwhelmed. When making introductions, David said of himself "I'm boring, I'm just married to one woman, unlike most of my friends". My dad replied that he guessed he was boring too.

Sunday night I went to dinner with my parents all by myself, as Rosa was with her father and I wanted to give them a chance to spend time with just me---and grill me with questions if they wanted to. As it happens, they didn't ask me anything difficult. I hadn't really expected them to; at this point they really seem to be willfully ignorant of anything non-conventional about my life. Well, they did ask about Emma's pregnancy, as they had overheard some conversation about it at the party. But that was all.
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (music)
Sitting in the living room while Tammie is choosing music. She has been playing blues and bluegrass, some local talent, some well known. Just now it's been selections from "O Brother Where Art Thou?" All three of us are singing along.

When "I'll Go Down to the River"came up, I was reminded that for several months when she was about six, Rosa had been obsessed with that song. We had to keep the CD in the car's player, and I can still tell you that it was track eleven. I had to play it rather a lot.
semperfiona: (demon baby)
Rosa doesn't swear. At all. Which is pretty weird in that she lives in a household of people who swear all the time, but she says she just doesn't see the need. It's probably just as well for her, since I wouldn't put it past her father's family to punish her for it.

Instead, she has taken to using absurd multisyllabic multi-word phrases as insults. I think the surrealists would be proud.

Some examples:

Mayonnaise kumquat
Inconsiderate microwaved piece of soap
Pretentious crouton
Egg covered mailbox flag

Sex ed

May. 7th, 2014 11:06 am
semperfiona: (flan)
Reading my feeds page today, I came across an article about parents attempting to ban the book It's Perfectly Normal from their middle school. They are claiming it's inappropriate for middle-schoolers. The article doesn't say why, but my suspicion is that they take issue with the book's matter-of-fact chapter on homosexuality.

It is to laugh. I bought that book for Rosa when she was nine, and its elementary-age predecessor It's So Amazing when she was six or seven. Nowadays we have discussions about things like her father's incorrigible heteronormativity or cissexism in the media or the inaccuracies of the presentation of BDSM in 50 Shades of Gray. I have to admit, I did make her wait for that last conversation until we were no longer in Target surrounded by a lot of strangers.
semperfiona: (demon baby)
Yesterday, Rosa inquired, "Mom, how do you spell sha-den-frood?"

I said, "It's sha-den-froy-duh, and it's spelled schadenfreude."

I love her vocabulary, even if she's got the same 'met it in writing, not sure how to pronounce it' that is common to those of us who read widely.

She's currently reading _His Majesty's Dragon_ and loving it to bits, B T dubs.

These two facts are not necessarily related; I'm pretty sure schadenfreude doesn't occur in that book or at least not named as such. The word is too newly established in English to belong in a book about the Napoleonic Wars. (Etymonline has it dated 1922 and a reference from 1852 to its existence in German. I don't have a membership to the OED online, and our hardcopy is at home.)
semperfiona: (demon baby)
Rosa's been roleplaying on the computer. I don't think it's a named game, just a freeform crossover something-or-other (though I'm not sure, actually). Tonight she was researching snakes of Siberia for her game (there are apparently only three species of snake in Siberia) instead of going to bed when told.

I am a horrible terrible mom because I am rather gleefully gratified that my kid is doing roleplay research instead of going to bed.
semperfiona: (demon baby)
Mom Taxi, day 2: Success.

Rosa's school abolished school bus service for this year due (ostensibly) to discipline problems on the buses. I'm not sure I believe that, since it seems like there should be some other recourse than to eliminate the service altogether, but whatever. In any case, she had been riding the bus to school for the last several years, but now she can't. Prior to that, I had been taking her to school in the morning, and Chris or Tammie would pick her up. But now, we only have two cars, and Tammie's working slightly later hours, so no one is available to do pick up.

We arranged a carpool. I drive Rosa and two other little girls to school in the morning, and the mom of one of them brings all three of them home. Started yesterday, and all has gone well both days so far.

And bonus! I get to work on time!


I HAZ TIKKIT! Long time of no seeing my [ profile] mac_arthur_park is near an end. It will have been just over three months. That is way too long and I miss her like mad. Soon now, my love.


I have been rereading _Ink and Steel_ (aka "Will and Kit's Excellent Adventure") by Elizabeth Bear. Unlike my usual reading behavior, it's taken me over a week and I still haven't finished it. I don't seem to want it to be over: I keep rereading the same pages to enjoy them again. Would really like to listen to it, but it's not available in audiobook. *sadface*
semperfiona: (amber)
I finally convinced Rosa to read the Chronicles of Amber. She's just gotten to the beginning of Hand of Oberon. Tonight she said to me, "That [Ambercon 2003] shirt I've been wearing? Fiona's holding her trumps and a dagger? Now I know why she has the dagger...that wasn't very nice of her."

I said, "Innocent of all but malice."

She said, "Not really." ROFLMAO.

(when picking a mood, I started typing P..R.. and "predatory" appeared. Apropos, ne?)
semperfiona: (rosa crowned)
While cleaning out old papers, I just found some very old sheets of yellow paper on which I had written down Rosa's known vocabulary at the time.

2/11/01 )

3/10/01 )
semperfiona: (Default)
Lazy morning snuggles with [ profile] mac_arthur_park, waffles-n-bacon made with love by [ profile] lavendargrrl, Kidlet in the corner with her computer, [ profile] ohari in the comfy chair talking to his is very very good.

Posted via


Mar. 1st, 2013 10:20 am
semperfiona: (demon baby)
This morning I went with Rosa to her school's monthly award breakfast, for kids who've been satisfying the academic requirements and character standards at her school. She's been invited to them for several months in a row now, and I've gone a few times.

Over breakfast, she told me about a conversation with a classmate:

Classmate: You're being very childish.
Rosa: You are what you eat *teeth-baring growl*
Classmate: *backs away slowly*


May. 7th, 2012 11:06 am
semperfiona: Books on a table superimposed with "There is no frigate like a book" (books)
Yesterday midday, we were sitting at home when Chris announced "Alison Bechdel will be at Left Bank Books today at 4." How'd he find out? Star Clipper's Facebook page, of all places.

We immediately reshuffled our afternoon and evening plans, because our Rosa has been a fan of Dykes to Watch Out For for years. I think she first started reading them when she was eight or nine. We had all been planning to go help with dog adoption day for Diana's Grove, but after a hard morning of yard work I was feeling pretty peaky, and Chris is still a bit tired from his recent adventure with the healthcare system, not to mention having caught something like my bronchitis, so Tammie went off to Chesterfield to do doggie assistance, Chris stayed home with the interminable laundry, and Rosa and I headed downtown.

We arrived a bit early, to be sure to get good seats. I had brought our copy of Fun Home and we bought the new book Are You My Mother?, then went to sit down. By the time the event started, there was a goodly crowd, about 80% female. People grabbed the kidsize chairs from the children's book section nearby, and when those ran out they sat on the staircase or stood at the back. Rosa was the youngest actual fan present, by about eight years at my best guess.

Ms Bechdel talked for a few minutes about the new book and what its themes and narrative strands consist of, and then read us two selections from the first and second chapters. I'd not been to a reading of a graphic novel before, but it worked quite well. They had a projector set up, linked to her laptop, and she projected the art while reading the interleaved text. Her style has a few lines of narrative between pictures, so while we looked at the pictures for any dialog, she read the narrative.

Then there were a few questions and an opportunity to have our books signed. I sent Rosa to the counter to buy one of the DTWOF books that we were missing, while I waited in line. Then I had each book signed to a different person: DTWOF to Rosa, Fun Home to me, and Are You My Mother? to Tammie. And I got a picture of Rosa and Alison Bechdel. Rosa told her "...amazingness, as my friend Breanna would say..." and AB thought it was a great word. She was repeating it as we moved away for the next person's turn.

semperfiona: (demon baby)
It's early afternoon on my Monday work-from-home day, and I keep thinking, "Rosa's bus should be here any time now." And it will, except Rosa will not be on it. She's in Washington DC today (left yesterday, gone til Friday morning). D'oh. And here I had been thinking I was doing so well with having sent my kid off on a weeklong adventure without any parents or even grandparents!

Yesterday when they left, a lot of moms were sniffly and teary-eyed. I wasn't, and I'm still not, but I'm not used to the idea that my afternoon won't have a kid in it.

She texted safe arrival this morning, and I expect a call this evening sometime. I'm sure she is having a fantastic time already.
semperfiona: (birthday)
Today is Rosa's 11th birthday. She was even born on a Thursday, so it's a complete match.

Here she is on Sunday afternoon, all dressed up for Halloween. She was an ice princess. (Her idea, don't ask me where it came from.)

Myspace Text -

Five things

Aug. 5th, 2010 05:21 pm
semperfiona: (hope)
1. In honor of Prop. H8 being overturned, I bring back the Hope icon. This morning I even had a surprisingly positive conversation with several coworkers who were also pleased by the outcome. Even in Missouri, folks, the world is changing.

2. Rosa just got back from Camp yesterday afternoon. I haven't seen her yet but I talked to her on the phone for a while and it sounds like she had a good time. She didn't enjoy canoeing but it was due more to the other girls in her canoe shrieking every time they wobbled than to the exercise.

3. Read Julian Comstock the other night. I requested it from the library after reading the thread on Making Light. It's well-written and frightening, the world-building is quite convincing, and I didn't like it. For several reasons: one, I can imagine a theocratic nightmare dystopia just fine for myself, and it's not a world I want to reside in even for the length of a book; two, preaching to the choir, dude!; three, I found the narrator's extreme and willful naivete annoying; four, hope-dashing ending.

4. This has been a very exhausting week. The city sent us a nastygram for excessive weeds in the back yard, and I spent most of Saturday, part of Sunday and part of Monday weeding. It's been the hottest week of the year, and I am only now recovering from all that exertion and the near heat prostration I suffered on Monday.

5. I got a shiny new computer at work on Tuesday, and suddenly I find the computer is actually waiting for me rather than the other way around. Wahoo!
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
Rosa and I were playing the piano together this morning. She asked if I have this song. I do not; I'd never even heard it before.

If you dance then you must have
Boots of shining leather
Money in your pocketbook
In your cap a feather

But if you will come with me
You don't need a cent you see
Come and sing together
Come and sing together
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
For finishing out her school year with a solid month of good behavior, we rewarded Rosa with an Ipod. I received a new 8gb Nano as a service award from $COMPANY, and my old 2gb Nano went to her. She has enjoyed the heck out of it.

This morning she left for a few days in Kansas City with Grandma, so yesterday I loaded up some new music for her and charged it up. She took it upstairs with her to listen while collecting her bits-n-bobs for the trip while I putzed around the internet.

Suddenly, a distressed child appeared. "I dropped my ipod down the bed!"

Befuddled mama is befuddled. Child explains that she had set it on one of the bedposts while doing whatever she was doing, and next thing she knew it had fallen into the hollow bedpost. (One should explain. She has a set of metal-framed bunkbeds which have for the last while been standing side by side instead of stacked. One of the post-connectors failed to come out right, so the post cover couldn't be placed on it. It's an open-mouthed metal tube.)

Mommy to the rescue. I went upstairs with the thought that I'd just lift the bed up and take the bottom cover off the bedpost and get the ipod out that way. Unfortunately, that end turned out to be sealed. New plan: turn the bed upside down and dump it out.

It was a good plan. We moved the mattress off, moved a half-dozen pillows and stuffies out of the way, moved the Barbie Dream House across the room, and levered the frame upside down. Noises of small object sliding down metal tube ensued.

But the ipod did not come out. Puzzlement. Climb down on the floor under the half-supported upside-down bed frame. Discover that looking up a sealed black metal tube for anything, even a white ipod, is futile. Send the child for a flashlight.

Aha! The way the bed is constructed, the large tube that forms the post has holes in it, through which pass the headboard tubes, and they cross nearly all the way to the other side. The ipod has got itself wedged between the end of a headboard tube and the side of the post tube.

Rosa offered me a twistie-tie that happened to be lying around. Not nearly long enough. I pondered for a moment and requested a wire hanger. Bend, twist, poke poke, success! Little girl can go off on the train to her own choice of music.

What Grandma will think of Voltaire remains to be seen.
semperfiona: (rosa crowned)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

I don't remember. But I do clearly remember what Rosa's was. She was about nine months old, and she said "Down!" For a month or a few weeks, it was the word she used for all transitions in a vertical direction. It meant "Pick me up!" It meant "Put me down!" It even meant "I wanna go downstairs."

She was an early talker. Didn't start walking until thirteen months, but by that time she had a couple-hundred-word vocabulary and was starting to put words into combinations.


semperfiona: (Default)

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