Sunday, September 28, 2008

Twyla Tharp at PNB…

Victoria and I had two opportunities to see Twyla Tharp pieces at Pacific Northwest Ballet this fall. Earlier this year (or was it last year?) we saw “In The Upper Room” which was just excellent - I actually was inspired to create a needlepoint design based on that piece (no, you can’t see it, it is being used in the MTP) The dancing and the building of the plot and tension… so wonderful. A bit after that we looked up Twyla on google and watched some videos, etc. Victoria does still remember that piece.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. Twyla has been in Seattle for the last couple of months working on two new pieces for the PNB rep. She gave a lecture and demonstration and they were very interesting. The lighting was full on and there were no custumes (although with he-who-shall-not-be-outed’s pink hot pants it could have been a costume) but the dancers were light on their feet and the lecture was informational. She had a few slides to show how the dancing on the stage is layered out, another with the music score marked to show who should get the hell to their place now. What I found most informative is that she uses video recordings of her “units” which she can then pull from when she creates a new piece. Of course, there is always improvisation with her, she reminds the audience. The two pieces were then performed in their entirety, Opus 111 and Afternoon Ball. After a few closing notes the question and answers were brief and that was the evening. Someone did ask her if she draws inspiration from other choreographers… she monologued into her daily schedule of early rising, exercise, barre, work with dancers (getting brought lunch), then a strict regiment of reading classical books until an early turn in. It was very inspiring. To ignore all that doesn’t matter and only doing what you love and need to do. That’s it, I’m done vacuuming.

Yesterday we went to the actual showing of “All Tharp”. Opus 111 (Music: Johannes Brahms) was similar - I did notice the changes in lighting and when it became softer and warmer. The costumes were beautiful and floaty and shades of purple, brown, and orange.

Afternoon Ball (Music: Vladimir Martynov), however, WOW, what a difference. Now, I LOVED the piece before, mainly because I loved the music. The incredible charismaticism of the music as it slows and then speeds and then builds and then STOPS. It was truly amazing. Add in the costumes and the lighting and it was brilliant. Very gritty and beautiful blend of costuming. When lady death comes in the lighting is so focused that she truly appears to become a star. Just wonderful.

Lastly in All Tharp was Nine Sinatra Songs. I’m a fan of Frank Sinatra in that I hear him in movies and television shows and I wouldn’t turn the channel if he came on the radio. Goodness, I could even sing along in my head if needs be. But I will say that the first three pieces of this composition just weren’t that great. Dare I say sloppy? I’m also a big fan of “So You Think You Can Dance” and I saw better ballroom on their then yesterday. Yes, I know they weren’t doing ballroom, they were doing ballet, but ya know, it looked like they were trying to do ballroom. The fourth number (Something Stupid) introduced some levity and then it got better from there. The last number was pretty good. Of course, Victoria was just thrilled about the dresses and the colors. That was her favorite thing about “Take 5″ earlier this year, too.

A last note. yesterday I used my once-a-year free pass to “upgrade” our seats. We were able to get dress circle preferred, which usually sell for at least $160 a seat. I didn’t like them as much! We’d sat there before (a few years ago when we saw “Nutcracker”) and I noticed then you couldn’t see as much detail. Worst of all was the disco ball during the Sinatra songs - the glare was right above us and at eye level. It wasn’t just me that noticed, the senior ladies behind me couldn’t keep quiet about it. So I’ll be happy that those aren’t our subscriber seats. :)

All in all a lovely afternoon. (Food was great, too.) I’m looking forward to this year at PNB.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More of the same…

It’s funny how we keep ourselves busy with stuff that “needs” to get done. I often hear adults say “It’s good for kids to be bored.” They say this in regards to kids being overscheduled and how important it is that they learn to entertain themselves. Now, I don’t think my kids are overscheduled, nor do I think they can’t entertain themselves. Certainly, though, they sometimes need to be told to “go play” or “go read”. So there, my solution to the bored child. :)
I myself am never bored. I always feel like there is something to be done or someone that needs attention. I always have a project with me to put a few stitches in or a book that I can read a few pages from. If only there were more time in the day! Or just less time to have to clean…

My star quilt is coming along, slowly but surely. Twister is making progress. Finishing is a never ending circuit, as are ebay sales and stuff to mail and kids to clean and laundry to do and… and… and… Keeping the notebook of lists *is* helping but I know I’ll never catch up.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rainy weekends, sunny weeks…

Today is looking up to be a lovely day. A bit cool, perhaps, but sunny! I truly feel I haven’t built up my vitamin stores for the winter ahead.

Saturday Brad and I took the kids up to the Stanwood Harvest Festival. It was raining so we had boots and sweaters and the like. Of the 20 or so stops we planned on visiting five. We actually made it to four. The first stop was an Alpaca farm right off exit 212. The kids looked at the animals and the bags of unspun wool. I looked at the mud everywhere. Back at the car we took off boots before getting in the van (I’d forgotten my rubbermaid bin I usually keep in the car to keep boots in) and I stood them on a rain jacket.

The next stop was the feed store. Outside they had tents with local vendors. We bought some berries and apples and looked at the crafts for sale. Victoria guessed 80 pounds on the giant cabbage. (I’d say closer to 12 lbs.)

After the feed store we drove out to the CSA farm we buy from. They had tractors displayed, the kids were able to ride a wagon ride with draft horses, and we looked at the vegetables growing. I made a mental note to wash things better before I eat them. The honey display was interesting and the cookies were delicious. Travis’ favorite part was the toddler hay bale maze. The grain separator was very loud and the grinder was worse. Two of the three kids were thrilled with the noise but I thought Madeline was going to squeeze her head flat she was pressing her ears so much. Poor little kidlet. They also had a petting zoo with sheep which was very popular with the little ones.

Our next stop was the “Stay Green Nursery”. There was no one there. Brad and I were leaving and the owner’s mother came out. She thanked me for coming, we chatted about spiders and I looked at the beautiful Pitcher Plants and Cobra lily. Pretty much everything else was done blooming and headed into dormancy. I’d love to say I’ll get up there again next year but it’s at least a 45 minute drive.

The last stop was another nursery, but at this point the kids were muddied up terribly, tired, and cranky. We drove by lots of lakes on the way home and it was a lovely drive.
Later that evening I finished Twister. Wahoo. (Pictures later.)

Sunday we had a really fun birthday party to attend at the giant bouncy house place here in Everett. The kids had a grand time. We met up with Diane and Hallie and Greg for dinner. It was really very good and I have no desire to know the caloric content of the lobster ravioli with asparagus in butter that I ate. Delicious. The kids pizza was terrible but the noodles and salad were good.

Today we did lessons and now we have gymnastics, and the post office…. and it’s sunny. Perhaps we’ll shove off and hit the beach.

A New Project…

Followed me home from guild last night. It’s a Pat Mazu stocking from the Chapter Project Booklet. It’s very cute and a bit bigger than her other stockings. I finished the chevron top at the meeting and did the red stripes this morning. I’m going to take it to the beach with the kids this afternoon and we’ll see how far I get! I just need a quick break from Twister.

The grass is getting pretty long and I’m out of gasoline for the mower. Perhaps that will be something I do this afternoon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

General life-y-ness (mostly needlework)

First off, Happy Birthday, Luke! Hope you enjoyed the song.
If only my life could *entirely* revolve around needlework. Sigh!

The border on Twister is coming along SLOWLY. It’s already the 11th and I’m only half-way done. At this rate it will be the 20th before it’s complete and my other master plans of stitching everything in my stash goals will be shot. Although for this month the only other thing I haven’t done is work on my MTP and I guess I’ve been doing that. Well, I haven’t actually DONE anything, but I’ve been planning out next steps and that is the important part. I’ve been in contact with my proctor and am waiting for some clarification before I get moving. I also requested books from the library on things I need to research to move along… I’d rather be in the “waiting for information” zone than the “waking up at four in the morning and remembering something due that week” zone.

Tonight is my guild meeting. I have some little finished Pat Mazu stockings for one of the ladies (will post pictures some time although they look the the loads of others I’ve done for her) and we are also mailing off Oriental Poppies. We’re starting a new Pat Mazu mini stocking (ah the irony) and I still have to cut canvas and pull threads for that…. at some point I should feed the children dinner.

There is a contemporary quilt artist guild in Seattle. They meet monthly and their next meeting is Saturday. I have it on my calendar and would love to visit to see if it would be a fit, but I don’t know how Brad will feel about my joining another guild. I don’t intend to start more projects but would love to learn more. If I could bring Victoria I think it would be ok. :) She loves to sew but I haven’t been brave enough to let her run the machine yet. Visions of the emergency room and all that. I still have my old Kenmore so it’s not an issue of my worry that she’ll break the machine.

Speaking of getting things done, the above mentioned book is very interesting. I added greatly to my files and went through my master list and updated it with next actions. Exciting stuff.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Life Marches On...

I’m starting to worry that my gladioli aren’t going to bloom this year. It would be very disappointing. *Everything* was late blooming, so I won’t be surprised. Just disappointed. The hydrangeas are blooming right now and they are lovely. The Scotchmallow looked great for about a week until the monsters in the yard stripped all three plants of their blooms. My lilies were lovely…. until stripped of their blooms.
Maybe the glads have already flowered and were just stripped before I got a chance to see them.
The girls start ballet today. Madeline is really looking forward to it. Victoria, not so much. It’s mainly because she is such a chatterbox (she comes by it honestly) and she doesn’t like not being able to talk for an hour. Madeline, I think, will have no problem being silent for an hour. I bought them both new tights yesterday. Victoria’s new leotard should be there to pick up and I’m crossing my fingers that it will fit. The girls are required to wear a certain color based on age. Last year Victoria’s was white and this year it is red. Madeline’s is white. Why on earth they put the little ones in white is beyond me.
With the first of the month I am back to stitching on Twister. I finished row 1 of the border and am halfway through row 2. My Fellow level materials for the Master Teacher program came yesterday - whew! This will be a busy year. Two new designs for submission to seminar, one to submit to the chapter project book, as well as things on continuing education. I’ve learned the important thing with the MTP is to NOT procrastinate. I’ll put it in a usable checklist this week and get going.