Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Years and Brass Bands

The new year (small caps intended) strikes me as less exciting than the New Year. I feel unprepared to write 2008 on anything because I have not finished with 2007. I failed to organize my studio. I never got my closet cleaned out. My garden overgrew the backyard pond and I still have not cleaned it out. Work on my book is stalled and I have no art projects underway. I did not find the time to complete two hand-made Christmas gifts (okay, I didn't even get started on them). I could go on, but I won't. It depresses me.

Michael turned 60 last Friday. That doesn't exactly depress me, but it has me shaking my head. I truly don't feel as old as I am (57). I don't see a middle-aged person when I look in the mirror. I feel like a thirty- or forty-year-old, yet my oldest daughter is 33 herself. How did Michael and I get so old? (I am not being facetious; neither am I equating 57 or 60 with advanced old age, like my parents who are 85 and 87.) When, if ever, does one's self-image change from young to old? Mine hasn't despite my graying hair and sagging body.

Enough of that. I can't maintain grouchiness for too long because even I get irritated with myself. I'd hate to irritate my readers.

I threw a tremendous birthday party for Michael if I say so myself. I hired the Paragon Brass Ensemble to perform at the party. All of our guests save the guest of honor knew about the concert. The look on his face when they arrived, and he found out why, made my scheming and work worth while. I have attended many house concerts, usually acoustic guitar and the like. A brass quintet in close quarters produces an awesome sound. The intimacy reminded me, oddly enough, of the Tuba Christmas performances my son used to play in (on the euphonium) years ago. Although held in a large, public venue (Williams Tower here in Houston), the audience at our Tuba Christmas concerts stood so close to the performers that the vibrations of their instruments reverberated through our feet.

Our eldest daughter, Alix, and her husband, Adam, hosted the party because my house did not have the 10x10 area required for the ensemble. (Fortunately, we chose the linoleum floored dining area so the five spit valves created an easily cleaned up mess.) I had borrowed folding chairs from my friend Carol complete with chair skirts to make them pretty. Our guests had an hour to meet and greet, eat and drink, and generally relax and get comfortable before the band arrived.

With excellent showmanship, ensemble spokesman Jeff Grass walked us through a few centuries of musical history with his commentary prior to each piece. The high point of the show came when, in a effort to present "authentic" natural sounds a la the middle ages, each performer took up a plastic oil funnel attached to a long plastic hose (of varying lengths) and played a song on them that had just been played on their brass instruments. Perhaps not as melodious to the ear, the hose-and-funnel performance sounded surprisingly good.

I could go on, but I am getting sleepy and I think I need an afternoon nap. I usually resist sleeping during the daytime, but it can't always be avoided. If I try to read or do anything else sedentary, I am going to fall asleep anyway, so I may as well be comfortable.

Not one to make big resolutions for the New Year, I would like to be a more consistent writer in the coming months. We'll see.


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