In category Simultaneously Exciting and Terrifying

So y’all know how I’ve been talking about going to things like Fiddle Tunes, and the Andre Brunet workshop in Qualicum, and how I’m desperately wanting to go to Camp Violon Trad? And in general kind of being sheepish about it because hi, not a fiddle player?
Well, um, yeah. I might be about to change that.
Because here’s the thing: those wonderful instruction experiences I’ve been having, in which I’ve been able to crash the party and slurp up tunes on my flutes while all the fiddle players are getting tips on technique and such, have been percolating around in my brain. My brain which, I might add, has always been partial to the fiddle. There are reasons Kendis is a fiddle player, after all.
Reasons like how several of my favorite musicians at this point are fiddlers (Bob Hallett of Great Big Sea, Alexander James Adams, the aforementioned Andre, Olivier Demers of Le Vent du Nord, the amazing Lisa Ornstein, Jocelyn Pettit, and of COURSE all the excellent fiddlers in our session group).
Like how some of my very favorite recorded songs in the history of ever are ones where the fiddle just takes me right out at the knees (AJA’s “Faerie Queen” and “Tomorrow We Leave for Battle”, Le Vent du Nord’s “Manteau d’hiver”, De Temps Antan’s “La fee des dents”, and that one sweet piercing moment in the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme over the credits where one long lingering violin chord just shoots right down to my bones).
Like how some of my favorite fictional characters have been violin players. Especially this guy!

Captain Aubrey
Captain Aubrey

And Kili and Fili from The Hobbit, at least the book! (I am sad, SAD I SAY, that that detail was left out of the movies, but what music we did get in the movies was awesome enough that I forgive them that problem.)
And really, fiddle players are all over the goddamn place in fantasy novels. Any fantasy series that involves bards, you’re going to find fiddle players. Urban fantasy, too. Huff and Lackey and de Lint all come immediately to mind as having books that feature bards in prominent roles–and if the protagonists of certain stories are not themselves fiddlers, then somebody they know WILL be.
But also Sherlock Holmes. And Data is worth an honorable mention even though he was never one of my major favorite Star Trek characters–I AM a Trekkie, so he gets to count!
And all of this has finally exploded in my brain with a huge urge to see if I can actually learn how to make noises on a fiddle myself. I have in fact been moved to rent an instrument, and I have now engaged the aforementioned Lisa Ornstein for at least a couple of initial beginner-level lessons. The plan here is going to be, see if I can get used to the physical mechanics of playing the instrument, with the help of an experienced teacher. And, depending on how that goes, then decide if I want to seriously pursue taking it up as a second melody instrument.
Because yeah, I really need the help of an experienced teacher here. Flutes and whistles, no problem, I can play those! Self-taught on the guitar? ON THAT. Sprinkling of mandolin and bouzouki, sure why not!
But the fiddle is its very own strange and wonderful beast, one that fills me with simultaneous awe and dread. Dara found me the perfect GIF to express what goes through my brain when I think of trying to play one without help.
This is About Right, Yep
This is About Right, Yep

Now, though? Now I’ve actually gone to Kenmore Violins (which, as it happened, is run by a gentleman who even lives in our neighborhood), and I’ve rented me a student-grade fiddle.
And I’ve arranged to go see Lisa Ornstein this weekend!
You guys. This is going to be FUN.
All hands: BRACE FOR FIDDLE.

Medical news for me in category Kinda Cool, for once

One of the oddest little details about my medical history is a childhood injury I had to my left ankle that never healed right, and which left me, throughout my adolescence and into my adulthood, with this weird-looking lump on my ankle. I no longer have a clear memory of when exactly I injured it, date-wise. But I do still have a memory of a bad fall about six blocks away from my house, on one of those long walks when I was heading either to the little convenience store where I liked to get candy when I was a kid, or to the shopping center that required me to cross Preston Highway. (I did a lot of walking as a kid, yeah. Which contributes a lot to why I’m used to doing it as an adult.)

That fall, as I recall, either badly sprained my ankle or maybe even broke it. I had to limp home. And since my family was poor, we couldn’t really afford to get it properly treated. So it healed up weird and has had this lump on it ever since. I have a band picture of me holding a flute from sixth grade, and the ankle bump was showing in that. And that’s been why I’ve always been a little self-conscious about wearing sandals and pantyhose, because it makes my weird-looking ankle really obvious. This has been the main reason as well that I wear hiking boots, aside from how I do a lot of walking on my daily commutes–high-topped hiking boots give good protection to my ankles.

Over the years I’ve had to explain the ankle to various doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists. It’s been x-rayed repeatedly, and the overall verdict was that I’d developed a bone spur in there. But it’s never interfered with my walking, so I haven’t bothered to get it seriously treated. It’s never really hurt either, though historically, it has bugged me if it takes a direct impact.

Which brings me to why I bring all this up in the first place. At Thanksgiving this year, I happened to slip on the floor heading into the kitchen, since there was a slick spot right in front of the oven. I let out quite the yell when I hit the floor, startling our various guests–particularly when it became apparent that I had a nasty bruise right on the bump on my ankle. And I had to explain to said guests that actually, the lump had already been there. I wasn’t as badly injured as I looked.

The bruise faded away after a few days. And in general it didn’t even hurt much at any point–again because of those hiking boots I wear providing the ankle good support and protection when I’m out about my daily business.

But here’s the thing. I’ve noticed in the last couple of days that the lump has been shrinking. Significantly. It’s not entirely gone, but the shape of my ankle has distinctly changed. I can also feel much smaller bumps in the greater bump, which I don’t recall having had there before.

In other words, an injury I’ve had since childhood has shown some signs of actually maybe finally healing. This is weirding me right out, though in a good way. And it hasn’t been hurting either, though I can feel periodic weird pulses in there–something akin to how I felt nerve pulses when my hand was healing, the summer when I broke my arm.

I’m not expecting the bump to go away, though it’d be really neat if it did. It’d be nice to have symmetrical ankles for once. In the meantime though it’s kind of a neat mystery, trying to figure out exactly what’s happening. I’ve been wondering whether the bone spur in there happened to take enough of a hit that it broke up some. Dara is wondering whether the new medication I started taking in September, Singulair, is contributing to reducing lifelong inflammation in the surrounding tissue.

(I got put on the Singulair to reduce some of the chronic rhinitus problems I’ve been having, and it’s been helping with that considerably. But it’s also been addressing various other dermagraphia-type problems I seem to have, so I apparently have issues with inflammation all over the place? So it wouldn’t be entirely out of left field if the Singulair’s having an effect on the ankle, too.)

It has come to my attention that LJ actually FIXED something

Namely, Bandcamp embeds! So here, have a couple! (Does this also work on Dreamwidth? LET’S FIND OUT.)
Like “Manteau d’hiver” by Le Vent du Nord!
Tromper le temps by Le Vent du Nord
And “La déroutée” by Yves “Most Badass Accordion Player in Quebec” Lambert and his trio! A song which rattles me around every time I hear it. I LOVE the repeated chorus.
Le monde à Lambert (Yves Lambert & le Bébert orchestra) by La prûche libre
And last but MOST ASSUREDLY not least, Dara’s got some tasty previews up for the WE SWEAR TO ODIN IS ACTUALLY FORTHCOMING Bone Walker Soundtrack!
Bone Walker (Preview Tracks) by Crime and the Forces of Evil

In other news: a present for ME!

YOU GUYS. Remember this blog post, in which I described how I had this picture in my head of all of my various fandoms over the years having a kitchen party in my head?

My friend Yngvar in Norway, crafty devil that he is, commissioned no less an august personage than Sonny Strait to sketch it for me, as a combination Christmas/birthday present! Sonny Strait, comma, who’s best known to me with his background in Elfquest! Behold!

The Many Fandoms of Anna the Piper, by Sonny Strait
The Many Fandoms of Anna the Piper, by Sonny Strait

And that’ll be Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer referenced in this sketch for my TV fandoms, as well as Great Big Sea and Elvis being the most obvious musical fandoms–but with the baby!me babbling in French being a callout to my Quebec trad fandom, not to mention my rampageous affection for learning French in general. :D I particularly like how baby!me looks a lot like the pic of baby!me I’ve posted before! Somebody was clearly given a reference source!

All hail Yngvar and Sonny Strait for making this happen! Thank you, gentlemen!

Fun things that showed up in the mail yesterday

We received not one, not two, but three packages yesterday, all of which deserve some shoutouts.

First of all, thank you to Scott in Kentucky who sent Dara and me a couple of pretty necklaces that he got from a vendor at a flea market local to him. The stones, he tells us, are unakite, and according to the vendor’s usual pagan/New-Age customers, they are intended for healing. Dara and I could use some healing, and this was a very sweet gesture on Scott’s part.

Unakite Necklace
Unakite Necklace

Secondly, Tiny!Flute has arrived! I am chagrined to discover that the current state of my healing abdomen pretty much dictates that I can’t carry coherent notes more than a few measures at a time so I can’t actually reasonably play this little guy yet. But quick experimentation suggests that he’s got a REAL nice voice on him. Dara tried him as well and smiled and said that he sounds like Popcorn. (Popcorn, y’all may remember, is the bamboo flute Dara lost when we lost her backpack on the way down to Oregon.)

Here is a pic of the new Tiny!Flute next to Rossignolet, for size comparison. Rossignolet is 15 5/8″ in length; the new one is 12 5/8″. Put another way, Rossignolet is just a bit longer than my forearm, while the new flute is just a bit shorter.

Little Flute, Littler Flute
Little Flute, Littler Flute

Last but most assuredly not least, my sister’s little girl made a special point of picking out a stuffed animal from her very own personal collection and sent it to Dara and me, after learning from her mommy that we’d both been not feeling very well lately! This is hands down the most adorable thing that has happened to me all year, and so I made a point of asking my sister to ask her daughter what the giraffe’s name was. Because if you’re going to have a giraffe come to live with you in your house, it’s VERY IMPORTANT to address the giraffe by the proper name!

And so, Internets, I’d like to introduce you all to Fluffy the Giraffe, now joining the Murkworks household.

Fluffy
Fluffy

A little STOMPY for your Friday!

When I commit acts of musical fandom, I learn tunes (and have a tendency to pester fiddle and flute players).
When Dara commits acts of musical fandom, major cities are leveled and the Cascadia Mecha Militia is deployed! Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, I give you my belovedest supervillain’s latest composition: Kaiju Meat, her ode to all things Pacific Rim, written for this weekend’s Jaegercon on Tumblr!
Go! Clickie! It’s a free download! THE CASCADIA MECHA MILITIA NEEDS YOU!

Harrison Hot Springs BC July 2013 trip, Day 4: Heading home

Not much more to report about the Harrison Hot Springs trip, but I do have enough to do a quick followup post!

I’d said in the previous post that there’d been an accident at the festival. Over on Facebook, Dejah threw me a link on a local paper’s website about the accident. The Agassiz-Harrison Observer reported that a family of four was involved, and that while there were some injuries and the father needed surgery, mostly everybody was more or less okay. Two vehicles were involved, and the driver of the SUV was arrested. (Dara and I and those with us at the second De Temps Antan show wound up seeing that SUV later, just after the concert. It was pretty badly banged up.)

After the DTA show on Sunday night, Dara and I took it pretty easy. We scampered over to one of the shops to get fudge (mmmmm fudge), and then saw the boys of the band, Dejah, Ginny, and Gary heading to dinner. Amused jokes were made about not stalking the band we SWEAR. And though everybody yelled farewells to us (I noted the good M. Brunet in particular yelling over in our direction), we left them to it since we wanted to hide in our B&B room for a while. And I had important pic-posting business to attend to!

We did later emerge for dinner of our own, though, and had Thai food on a restaurant balcony overlooking the lake. Our waiter turned out to be a bass player as well and Dara chatted with him a bit about the jam session we’d been informed would be happening at the lounge next door later that night. Dara did wind up hitting that jam session for a little bit, though I opted to take one last round of advantage of the jacuzzi in our room.

The next morning, we got up in a leisurely fashion, got our stuff all packed and ready to go, and headed west to Vancouver! On the way, heading along TC-1, I spotted a road sign that deeply amused us in our capacity as massive Elfquest fangirls.

(I mean, Clearbrook must live somewhere, right? Maybe this is the exit that leads to the Wolfrider Holt!)

After that, we went over a toll bridge we’d been warned about and which we hoped would be clever enough to note that we were an American license plate, not a Canadian one, since we’d been told it worked by snapping photos of licenses and billing the drivers. We don’t know yet if we’ll get a bill from British Columbia, but guess we’ll find out! I did like one of the pics I got going over the bridge, though.

Our agenda in Vancouver was a couple of quick surgical strikes on places we wanted to get to, and the first of these was the Laser Cutter Cafe in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Because tea. And LASERS!

We had a pleasant chat with the guys in there, including a guy named Adrian who was selling his digital carving art via the cafe. And while we didn’t actually carve anything, it was cool to see the machines the guys had available and the various and sundry little things on shelves that had come out of them. I particularly liked the little Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Dara even got to talk up her music a bit and one of the guys piped “Shout At the Desert” over the cafe’s sound system. To wit: awesome.

And just to be thorough we did in fact also have tea! Which was very welcome, given that we hadn’t had any tea at all in Harrison. Our room at the B&B had included some bag tea in the stock of breakfast foods we’d been provided–but none of it was stuff we’d wanted to drink, actually!

We left kind of earlier than we wanted to, since the place was pretty cool–but we didn’t want to run our parking meter out, and we did actually have to get back on the road in order to get home in time for dinner.

Not to mention that we needed lunch, and it was critical, critical we tell you, to stop at Siegels Bagels for our obligatory few dozen bagels to bring home. Because yum.

And our last stop was at the mall that Dara likes to call Chibi Akihabara, but which is actually called Yaohan. She wanted to pop in there on general principles but also to see if she could find a replacement holder for her passport. She did not. What was kind of lollertastic though was that I found a cute new case for my phone!

I was pretty happy with that case, because it was cute but not TOO cute, and also form-fitting without adding bulk to the device. My previous case had that going on, too, but the molded plastic over the Sleep/Wake button seemed like it interfered with the button’s functionality. (Which may or may not have actually been the button wearing out on me–I don’t know! I had to replace the phone today!) I like this case better also though because it gives better open access to the top and bottom of the phone.

Only when we were aiming to get on the highway at last and head home did we realize that we had ERRED: i.e., we’d forgotten to visit a Timmy’s! Forgive us, Canada, for we did not actually indulge in Timbits! We’ll be making up for this next time we set foot in your lovely country, we promise!

Last but not least it’s worth mentioning that on the whole trip, on the way up and on the way back as well, Dara and I worked to get caught up on the Doctor Who Podcast! We’re big fans and quite enjoyed a marathon of listening to the podcast crew on the road. We’ll be doing more on our next road trip, to Clallam Bay, this coming weekend. Stand by for that report, O Internets!

AND! I was charmed to see that the Twitter account for Tourism Harrison, @harrisontourism, actually found my mention this morning of the posting I’d been doing. They quite liked my writeup! Which is all lovely, given that we enjoyed ourselves in Harrison immensely. And we will be coming back!

A bit of musical squee!

And now, several moments of musical squee from last night!
In a move that should surprise absolutely NOBODY who pays attention to what I post for more than five minutes running, a little part of my brain demanded last night, “YOU NEED TO FIGURE OUT THE CHORDS TO VIVE L’AMOUR NOW.”
Because y’all knew this was coming, right? I mean, what with all the delighted slurping up I’ve done of chords for Great Big Sea songs, working on Le Vent songs was pretty much inevitable. I’d already futzed around a bit with “Lanlaire”, but “Vive l’amour” is pretty much the other major song of theirs that’s prone to grabbing my guitar-based attention. So it’s the easy and obvious candidate for me to play with.
So I did! And there I am last night with Ti-Jéan in my lap, and I’ve got my piccolo too to try to twiddle out the melody line and make sure the key is actually what I think it is–which, for general reference, is G. And the first moment of squee is when I’m hitting note on the piccolo and the guitar strings start echoing them back at me, in this strange, lovely resonance that sounds a lot like a wet fingertip running around a wineglass. Very, very cool.
Second moment of musical squee: realizing that the chords to the song are in fact dead simple. Dara and I like to make cracks about GBS’ “Goin’ Up” being subtitled “Four Chords No Brain”, and really, “Vive l’amour” is pretty much the exact same chords in a different order (G, C, Em, and D) with occasional bonus A minor thrown in in places. What I haven’t quite gotten down yet is the strum pattern, since I keep wanting to play GBS-style and that doesn’t work with the flow of the song. But I broke out the original studio recording, the one Bernard Simard sings lead on, and it’s easier to follow that one on guitar than it is the Symphonique version. I foresee several more spins through this as I get it down. And possibly transposing into D, or maybe capoing up a fret or two, so I can get it into a better range for me to sing. :D
Third moment of musical squee: realizing that in the huge pile of sheet music transcriptions of various Quebec tunes I’ve slurped down from a couple of places, I do in fact have the reel that serves as the outro for this song! “Reel à Ti-Zoune”! WOO! Much fun to be had there as well!
And the final moment of musical squee for the evening was in fact unrelated to any of the above, but it’s also goddamned awesome so I’ve gotta squeal about it here too. Dara came downstairs with the mandolin last night and plucked out for me, I kid you not, a swing arrangement of “Road to Lisdoonvarna”. Y’know, the most basic of basic jigs in the Irish tune repertoire. She’s got a PROJECT in mind for this. And she’s jazzing this tune the hell up. She played it for me and I instantly had the swing band sound she’s envisioning pop into my head, complete with a full rocking horn section. I wanted to be able to play trumpet JUST so I could actually play that lovely thing myself. I cannot WAIT to see how her project progresses. Because this, ladies and gentlemen, is how Dara rolls.

Look what I got! :)

Y’all remember my and Dara’s friends userinfomaellenkleth and userinfosiestabear, right? The fine ladies with whom Dara and I snagged us an encore from Le Vent du Nord last year? Well, they scored themselves some of the super-fancy deluxe backstage tickets to a Great Big Sea show on the current tour–AND! Because they love me and want me to be happy, they got me a shirt!

SIGNED BY THE B’YS THEMSELVES.

Alert persons may note that this is actually the exact shirt I just bought at the Seattle show this past March. But that’s QUITE OKAY. Because seriously, if you’re handed a shirt signed by the members of Great Big Sea, I am here to tell you that the LAST thing you want to do is wash it. Because it would make the signatures sad. And we can’t have that, now can we? So my belovedest of Daras informs me that there are in fact frames for T-shirts. I will be acquiring this t-shirt one. And in the meantime, please behold the T-shirt signature goodness!

THANK YOU userinfomaellenkleth and userinfosiestabear! <3 I love you too!

A Great Big Pile of Great Big Sea!

Great Big Sea’s Facebook account announced this morning that the the CBC Radio 3 account on YouTube posted a whole MESS of videos from a concert this past November in Ontario.

Really. GOOD. Videos. Like this one of “River Driver”. Jesus Jumping CHRIST on a pogo stick, the bass on Murray in this. +50 to the sound engineers who worked this show, because I have never swooned so hard at the harmony mix on this song.

And there’s MORE OH MY GOD MORE. Enough that I must really hope that this is potential future DVD footage, because I would buy the HELL out of this.

It’s an entire MINI-CONCERT! Enjoy this, if you’re starting the three-day weekend here in the States!