Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Foul and Fowl

These were the two themes of my recent weekend in Asheville, NC. It all began on a miserably rainy and cold Thursday night. We left after rush hour and drove part of the way there. We made a junk food stop at the Sheetz in Salem, VA and a five pack of Peeps seemed like an appropriate snack. That is until the guy rang them up and I saw this:

If you can't read what the cash register says, click on the picture!

I temporarily lost my appetite after that so I ate them the next day instead. And speaking of Peeps, you must check out the World's Cutest Peep Post at [F]oxymoron's blog. It's absolutely adorable! Go look!

On Friday we were driving through the beautiful mountains of southern Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. I pulled over at a "scenic overlook" and took a picture of the foggy mountains. The view was more subdued than usual.

On Saturday while Doug was doing his workshop at UNC Asheville, I did a little exploring. I went up Town Mountain Road to see what I could see. It was rainy and foggy but there were still fun things to see, like:

A castle!

And turkeys! I almost ran over the first batch of them because I driving just a little too fast on that winding mountain road. They were all over the road like worms on a sidewalk. I saw about twenty of them altogether at various times. As you can see in this video, they don't move very fast.

One of them kept ruffling his feathers at me.

And then he farted at me. Or at least that's what it sounded like.

Speaking of farting, on Sunday I took Doug up there to show him the turkeys on our way out of town. It was sunny for about an hour and there were suddenly no turkeys to be found anywhere. Maybe they only go near the road when the weather is crappy. In spite of the weather everything was in full bloom down there in Asheville.
By the time we got to Lexington Virginia I was getting really bored with the interstate scenery so I decided to see where one of the side roads went. We went by VMI and Washington and Lee and then continued down that road for a while and tried a few others, just for fun. Getting lost on purpose is my idea of a good time. You never know where you'll end up.

The road wound around in what seemed like a big circle. It went across a river, over some mountains and through a forest, past a graveyard and some farms, and it even became a dirt road for a while.

Eventually we found our way back to the highway again. But not before coming across one additional turkey.

So it was indeed a foul and fowl weekend. At least it was as far as the weather, and the various birds were concerned.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

DC Police swarm H Street

I decided to stay in my car and make a little video while I waited.

Also, I can't seem to make myself stop taking pictures of Magnolias lately. So here are some more:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

unbusy and unproductive

There's a beautiful song called Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most. I don't feel particularly hung up by Spring just yet - it's more like I'm hung up in spite of Spring. This week I am on spring break so I'm dealing or not dealing with my least favorite kind of schedule - the kind where I have lots to do and plenty of time to get it all done. I'm completely schedule-free for the most part. I should be happy that the treadmill has momentarily stopped and enjoy the flexible schedule.

So I have tons of work to do for school over the break and all kinds of time to do it for a change, but am I doing it? Not really. In the past few days I went for a walk, I went to a couple of movies at the AFI, I did all of my laundry, cleaned the parts of the house that have been driving me crazy, and I've been spending TONS of completely aimless time on the internet writing a bunch of long-winded comments on other people's blogs. I haven't done a thing yet that I really need to do.

But hey, now it's Thursday so the break is almost over, the weekend will be busier, and I'm starting to feel a little pumped with excitement at the prospect of having to rush through all of my work in order to do a decent job on it and still finish. And I have a rehearsal tonight which will probably be the most fun I've had all week.

So I guess I'll get started on my stuff tonight after the rehearsal. By then I'll be feeling more useful. I really hate being unbusy. It causes procrastination. I need structure!!! Or a REAL vacation.

I've been reading things this week that make me sad. On Monday some guy threw himself on the Metro tracks and was killed. But the news link said a man was killed by a Metro train and it was intentional. I wasn't quite sure what to make of that. I didn't know whether to be mad about a murderer or sad about a suicide. Then Natasha Richardson died as a result of a fall during a ski lesson on a beginner slope. She banged her head and 24 hours later she was dead. It was really kind of disconcerting to see her talk in her usual vivacious way on the presentation the AFI does on itself before the movie after just hearing that she had died.

I hit my head while skiing one time - and pretty hard too. I was skiing alone on my new skiis and zooming really fast straight down a slope that suddenly became much steeper than I was ready for and I wasn't leaning forward enough relative to my speed, so I ended up smacking the back of my head on the hill behind me. That's how steep the hill suddenly became. After the stars went away and I realized that I wasn't paralyzed from the neck down, I skiied rather shakily down to the bottom and drove myself home. That was probably a bad idea but I made it. No brain damage happened as far as I can tell.

Anyway, there she was, having fun and suddenly she's here one minute and gone the next. I feel so bad for her family having to deal with this so unexpectedly. And I don't feel particularly lucky about my skiing accident either. I feel more creeped out than anything. Life can be pretty unfair sometimes. I guess I should count my blessings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Karaoke Conductor

Tonight I conducted in public for the very first time. One of my duties as a teaching assistant this semester is conducting the largest jazz ensemble at UMD for a few tunes at each concert. I have no idea what I'm doing. I never took conducting, so I'm kind of bad at it, I think. I can't actually tell. Anyway I did it and good or bad, it was kind of fun. I counted them off, waved my arms and pointed at people, and announced the tunes.

This particular band is huge - all the parts are doubled. They have about 12 saxes - maybe more, 6 trombones, 8 or 9 trumpets, 2 clarinets, 2 flutes, 2 guitars, accordian, vibes, piano, bass, drums, and a vocalist. Fortunately for me, a large jazz ensemble usually does not require much in the way of conducting skills. Once you count it off, it kind of plays itself. It will keep going even if you mess up. Just like karaoke.

I love how obvious it is that Spring is on its way and you can tell that even at night. That little white spot is the moon. It didn't photograph nearly as big as it actually was. But at least the trees look kind of cool.

Monday, March 9, 2009

my kind of day

Lately I've been feeling like I'm on a treadmill. The stuff I have to do never stops. It's really too bad I don't have time to get on a real treadmill. That would actually be fun - and good for me too!

Today was an excellent day. I was playing bass all day long so I'm all happy and unexhausted and my back feels great for a change. Poor Doug had to work over at the house all by himself today. Too bad. I'm tired of being tired. I needed a break. He likes working on the house so he can just keep doing it until he's finished.

Anyway, I played in the crazy time signature big band up in Baltimore from 11:00 until 1:00 and then played the 2:30 show of The Music Man at the Atlas Theater - sightreading=fun! Then I went with some orchestra people to the Argonaut and had a lovely Portobello mushroom sandwich and sweet potato fries, followed by a fabulous latte at Sova, my favorite H Street coffeehouse. Then we all went back and played the 7:00 show.

The Music Man is not really one of my favorite shows - it's kind of square or something - and not very "jazzy" but it does have some lovely bowed string parts, so I enjoyed it anyway.

The thing that really made my day happened during the opening scene where all of the travelling salesmen are riding the train to their next destination and reading newspapers while they ride. The guy in front who I could see from the pit had an old looking newspaper with a picture on the back of a kid with an afro. I thought that was kind of odd. It was a little too 1970s-looking for a show that supposedly takes place in 1912. Then I looked again and I swear that picture was of Michael Jackson when he was about 10 years old. And that is hilarious because Michael Jackson is originally from Gary, Indiana. Gary, Indiana is mentioned a lot in the show and there's even a song with that title.

So whenever you hear "Gary, Indiana" mentioned, are you reminded more of Michael Jackson, or the song from The Music Man? I guess it might depend on how old you are.

Here's the video from the movie, which features Ron Howard in his pre-Opie days and Shirley Jones in her pre-Partridge Family days. It's kind of adorable but it's also slightly cringe-worthy. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mizell Lumber & Hardware

We recently went to Mizell Lumber & Hardware in Kensington because we needed to buy some doors and they had given us a very reasonable price quote. Mizell is one of those old-timey hardware stores that has all kinds of things no one else carries. It looks like it could be about 100 years old.

I remember when I was a kid I would sometimes get to go there with my Dad back when we lived in Kensington. I really liked being there because it was right next to the train tracks, nearly directly across from the Kensington station. Anytime I got near train tracks I would daydream about jumping on the train and going off by myself to who knows where. I don't know why, but this was a recurring fantasy during my childhood. I loved hearing the sound of the train at night. There used to be a wooden bridge that went over the tracks off of Howard Avenue. It was rickety and felt dangerous but I just loved the feeling of going over that bridge.

So as a grownup going back to Mizell, I enjoyed remembering my little childhood fantasies (which I sometimes still have) but it was also a good experience for a grown up (I think!?) consumer. The salespeople there are knowledgeable and very helpful. They aren't snotty and rude and/or dumb the way they are at some hardware stores. I got some very useful information about thresholds there.

This lovely formica display made me start thinking about how much less expensive our countertops could have been, and they would still be very pretty. But it's too late now.

They sell nails by the pound!

Their shelves are stocked full of all kinds of cool stuff. If you are ever in Kensington, be sure to check out Mizell Lumber & Hardware.