semperfiona: (how do they rise?)
Everyone already knows what a shitty year 2016 was for the US. I feel no need to reiterate that. There are public lists of good things that happened for the world. Here are a couple:

http://helthehatter.tumblr.com/post/152910935316/good-things-that-happened-in-2016
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/31/astronaut-chris-hadfield-offers-a-list-of-things-to-be-thankful-for-from-2016/

It sucked in some personal ways, too, and I feel no need to reiterate those, either, so instead I'm going to list some good things that happened to me personally in 2016.

January and continuing:
I joined Charis (the St Louis Women's Chorus)

April:
Charis concert

June:
Family vacation at the Michigan cabin sans Internet and cell service

August:
My sister got married
I reconnected with a very old friend
Rosa and I had a wonderful vacation (San Francisco!)
Christine spent a week with me

October:
I started taking Zoloft and my mood improved almost immediately
I met a New Guy (and we're still dating)

December:
Chris and Tammie and I got engaged!!!! (You heard it here first)

Charis

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)


    Encore
  • 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)
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: (maple)
I've been doing pretty well this last week. It surprises me somewhat, but other than the first couple of days even the emotional volatility has settled down and I'm mostly content.

***

I went to Dance Journey last night with Tammie and Jasmine and had the most energy-perceptive experience I think I've ever had. Jasmine was substitute teaching and she had us concentrate on our Center and our Circumference, feeling the core and the edges of ourselves, reaching out beyond our skin to the rest of the room and even outside. I really felt my center as a ball of blue-white lightning, and when reaching out to the circumference could also feel the brushing touches of the auras of the other people in the room and the grass and breeze outside. Tammie and I both agreed on the aura-colors of everyone else, which surprised me a lot. It was very freeing for me to be "big" in the world, to be expansive and take up energy-space.

I think this is a thing I need to practice more: feeling my surroundings and connections to the others nearby and being as big as I want to be, without losing my core. In contrast, Tammie felt almost the opposite: she spends too much time being sensitive to the others around her and needs to build energy walls and shields around her core.

***

Emma told Chris last night that she and Joe are moving back to Chicago; he's got a job offer with the company his father works for. Chris is disappointed and we will miss her, but it sounds like a far better situation for a baby to come into: the new job will pay $18-19/hr which is almost certainly a huge increase on what he makes at Sonic. And it definitely means they aren't expecting any of us to step in for child care or day-to-day support, which was one of my big fears about the situation. On the other hand, it means Emma's mom gets more involved in her daily life again, which may lead to re-estrangement between Chris and Emma.

***

My longest podfic to date was published on Sunday! Nearly four hours, recorded and edited in several sessions through July and August, and I'm really pleased with it. http://hd-fan-fair.livejournal.com/106541.html

Author's original Summary: Auror Potter and Unspeakable Malfoy team up to investigate a series of missing persons, and it soon becomes apparent that Dementors are involved. Despite their initial misgivings, Harry and Draco find that they need each other's help, in more ways than one.

Rated: G (yes, really!)

I'm looking for The Next Thing to record. I'd kind of like it to be smutty smexy femslash, if someone has a recommendation. I'm open to any fandom that I have any knowledge of (or can get a base level of knowledge quickly), and I tend to prefer approx 10K in length. That comes out to about an hour at my reading rate, which I can usually do in one sitting, and then go back and edit in another. Not to say that I wouldn't do another long one, or a super short one for that matter.
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: (meteors)
Ten years ago today, Friday, December 13, 2002, at the invitation of my newish friend Pam, I went to a party/get-together of St Louis area polyfolk. I even had to call for directions, and was very proud of myself for getting past my telephone dysfunction to do it. Just going by myself to a new place full of new people was something of an accomplishment, though I’d gotten a lot better at that over the last few years.

I was the first to arrive at the house, where I met the inhabitants, Chris and Tammie. I got to spend quite a bit of time getting to know them before anyone else arrived, and then late that night Tammie and I took blankets outside and lay on the ground together watching the Geminid meteor shower. That remains the only time I’ve actually seen meteors (we’ve tried a couple of other times but there has been too much light pollution). I ended up staying all weekend (as did several other people; it was a weekend-long house party) and somewhere in there was kissing and cuddling with Chris. I remember he came in the morning to where I was sleeping and snuggled me. I wasn’t sure yet that the interest I had in Tammie was also mutual, but we figured it out PDQ.

And here we all are, ten years later, having lived together for the last nine, planning to stay for the next forever. Happy Anniversary Mine Loves!
semperfiona: (try anything once)
Two weeks ago Tuesday, Tammie had a job interview for a lab position at WashU. (She called a few minutes ago to announce that SHE GOT THE JOB!!! ***SQUEE***) When she got home, Rosa put her little hands on her hips, confronted Tammie, and demanded, "Why didn't you pick me up?"

"Because Chris picked you up today."

"But you always pick me up!"

"I had a job interview."

"What kind of job?"

"A science job."

"SCIENCE!!!! I LOVE SCIENCE!" Rosa ran upstairs and grabbed the little Kitchen Chemistry kit she got for Christmas. "Let's do some science!"

Tammie begged off for the time and when I got home from work I was enlisted. I read through the book looking for something that didn't take much prep or make much mess, and picked "Rubbery Recipes". We found two small jars, put one of Roger's fresh brown eggs (harvested by Rosa herself, like as not) in one and a chicken bone from the previous night's fried chicken in the other, and filled them each with vinegar.

Sunday, we opened the egg jar. Sure enough, the shell was rubbery. Poking it gently it bounced back. Very similar to the texture of a peeled hardboiled egg, actually. Also, little brown granules rubbed off of it at a touch.

Not only that, but the egg had expanded. While it went *into* the jar easily enough, it did not want to come *out* again. Thinking I would push it back out of the neck of the jar, I poked it again. It POPPED.

Ew. Egg goo in vinegar with rubbery popped-balloon-like shell fragments, and a nasty smell. Closed the jar back up and put it in the trash.

The chicken bone is still stewing. Updates to come.
semperfiona: (kiss)
On the testimonial from [livejournal.com profile] gremlin44, I found a local
acupuncturist that treats infertility and made an appointment with her
for this morning. All of Sunday and yesterday I was all nervous and
stuff; I knew I was being silly, but I finally asked Tammie to come to
the appointment with me and hold my hand. Doing "something scary"
doesn't always mean I have to do it by myself.

We went to the appt together. I can't remember ever having such a
detailed discussion of my medical history with any practitioner. It was
good to have Tammie there to help with objective answers to some of the
questions, and to remind me of things I was forgetting, and of course
her presence settled my nerves a lot.

The acupuncturist helped with that as well. She was a young woman, maybe
early 30's, talked to us about knitting--and might show up for
stitch-n-bitch some day--and seemed to have a really positive attitude
and "bedside manner". She says ... Gah. Didn't take notes. But anyway
she stuck me with several tiny needles, mostly in my feet and legs with
some in my abdomen, left wrist and ear. She also gave me some herbs to
take and asked that I start doing basal body temperatures to track
whether it's working.

Being "needled" felt kinda strange. The needles' entrance was hardly
perceptible, and most of the time I couldn't even feel them, but then
I'd have a funny prickly pokey sensation at one of the needle locations.
By turns, it was my ear, my ankle, and my wrist. I never felt the others
at all.

I was supposed to, but completely forgot until Tammie just asked me
about it, drink lots of water today. Oops.

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