Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Singing makes you happy

I love singing - I always have. My brother and I always sang in the car, and were in choirs as kids...I don't really ever remember NOT singing. There was a period in high school when we were both in band and it was not terribly cool to be in band AND be able to sing...you had to pick one or the other.

Thankfully, college didn't have that restriction. Fairly early on my music theory professor frog-marched several of us to the early music vocal group, assuring us that it wasn't really a choir, more a group of music geeks singing and then going to the pub.

I knew I had to find a choir when I moved here, to give myself a non-work anchor, and I was really lucky that I ended up with the Bury Bach Choir.

We're currently looking for new members, in all voices. Can you sing? Can you read music (sight-reading isn't necessary)? Do you want to come and sing? It's fun - we rehearse once a week (more, the week of the concert), and give 4 concerts a year. There is truly nothing like singing with a choir.

Even Eric Whitacre thinks British choirs are the best...

If you're interested, check out the contact details here, on our website, or email me.

(Picture taken on our last choir outing...Houghton Hall is SO epic that it has its own post box. Srsly.)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The family who sails together...

...drys their sailing gloves together. Also, check out that BLUE SKY! And it was WARM today! SUMMER!

We "pushed the boat out" yesterday with EAST for the RYA's Sail For Gold day, and sailed with the EAST fleet all the way (almost) to the Orwell Bridge. Apart from the wind dying in the middle of the day for about 45 minutes, it was an excellent sail.

Then, today, we raced Kanga with the EAST-ies on the (very busy) Orwell. It was our first time sailing her with 3, and James' first time afloat on Kanga. She behaved very well, and only resisted a little bit when it came to bringing her back to the dock. We need to work on that part. Wet sailing gloves all round.

We took a short walk to Stowmarket, and I brought my camera (much to the teenager's embarrassment) and proceded to take golden-hour pictures of weeds. SO embarrassing (but worth it for the light flare).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My dad is famous

My dad is one of the Barrington harbormasters (in Barrington, RI), and was interviewed by a journalist from the Providence Journal. Yay dad!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

And the sun came out

After days and days and days of rain, the sun came out yesterday evening. After supper, we walked over to the Stowupland allotments, mostly to take a picture of a quilt. We did end up with some good quilt pics (to be blogged shortly), but were distracted by the incredible vegetables.

Those two courgettes were each about a foot long and about as thick as my arm. Zoinks. 

And these? We were shown around one of the allotments by a very proud long-time allotmenter. We were admiring his red onions. "Oh, no," he corrected. "Those are shallots!" HOLY MOLY. They were huge. Apparently he feeds himself and his wife, along with his two children and their families almost exclusively on vegetables grown himself. My own-grown food so far this year totals several handfuls of rosemary, a reasonable amount of mint (idiot-proof), and 12 raspberries.

Despite not enjoying runner beans as a food, they sure are pretty when they're growing.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chickens and ducks

We thought Kanga might be chicken. All this reluctance to sail. And messing up the weather (sorry, England...it's our boat's fault).

And then, today, she took to it like a duck to water. Even in the rain.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Why I love making baby quilts

Here are the recipients of the last two baby quilts I made, snoozing (and presumably drooling) on their quilts. So adorable! I can't wait to see them in October when we're in NY...they'll be looking quite grown-up by that point, I think! (And yes, their Dad gave the ok to put them on the internets). Apparently the quilts are perfectly sized to fit in their pack-and-play. Since, you know, I planned that. By accident. Ahem.

In case you were worried that I would be lacking newborns to snuggle with, fear not. The future recipient of this future-quilt (her mom's favorite colour is red) will be very small and sleepy when we're there. The last of my Tufted Tweets, some monaluna organic midcentury chairs (also with birds!), and some more red and white stripes and solids. It's less blinding in real life, especially as I have interspersed the RED with lots of grey and white. The vibrating red stripe will be used as the binding. I'm aiming for zingy and cheerful rather than spectacularly overpowering!

The quilt top is actually finished but not yet photographed - I may need to check with future-mom to see if she wants to see the quilt in person first rather than on the blog.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What a weekend

The endlessly resistant Kanga is now one main sheet (to be procured this week) and two halyards (to be installed Thursday) short of Actually Sailing. Oh, and we need to attach the tiller to the rudder but that shouldn't take long.

The father-in-law and I spent Saturday morning attaching the final bits, including the v-jam for the kicker, the starboard jib sheet keeper, the backstay, and the main halyard blocks. Lucky girl...new shiny blocks and fittings all over the place! She's looking very smug and pleased with herself. I may need to get a second job if this keeps up...

Self portrait, hard at work:

I was out most of the day today, helping out at (and enjoying) a BBQ, despite the belting rain in the morning and a brief shower in the afternoon. The sun actually came out for a few hours in the early evening...we weren't quite sure what to do with ourselves. Sitting on the patio drinking rum punch and eating strawberries and cream made us feel better, though.

And now, I shall disappear into 16th century England. With vampires and witches. I'll see you in 500 pages, or so. I'm rather glad I decided to re-read the first one...there's some refresher notes in the first few chapters of Shadow of Night, but I'm already well into the Deborah Harkness universe.

The witches' house in Discovery of Witches is definitely my favorite literary house, though. It's spectacularly haunted, and keeps and returns things (and adds rooms) as required. SO entertaining. Sometimes I think my house does the same, just in a slightly less noisy fashion.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Holy moly. According to Blogger, this is post number 700 on this little blog of mine (started mostly for the benefit of my parents). Um. Now I have to say something pithy (I love that word). Or maybe something profound.

I've been rereading A Discovery Of Witches in preparation for the release of the sequel, Shadow of Night, on Tuesday. And because I loved it SO much the first time. And because I wish I had reread Graceling and Fire before I read Bitterblue.

I have NO memory for fine plot points. None at all. It used to mean that I did poorly on English tests. Now it means that I can reread my favorite books and be surprised the second time around. I'll take it as a trade-off, I think. I DO retain the major plot points and characters, and my overall feeling about a book, usually. Minor characters don't stand a chance. And murder-mystery endings? Not in a million years. Who dunnit? Don't remember!

Hmm...not terribly profound for post number 700.

Can I show you a picture instead?

Oh, good. Here you go...slates at Houghton Hall

Monday, July 2, 2012

Floating Kanga

After 18 months, enormous quantities of sweat equity, quite a few tears, more money than I care to think about, several months in a barn, a new trailer, a failed (leaking!) launch, and 3 trips across the Orwell bridge, Kanga is officially in the water! She's tucked in at the end of a long line of other Squibs, feeling very pleased with her looks-like-new deck (thank you, father-in-law and husband). Remember when we met her, back in 2010?

We are waiting on two small boat-bits, both on order and due in this week, and then...weather permitting (hah)...we can SAIL!

Applications for crew gladly taken.

And this is her view, of an evening. Not bad, really.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Choir trip to North Norfolk

A mini-Bach Choir plus assorted guests went on a day out to the north-Norfolk coast last Sunday. We went to Thornham for a quick rehearsal in the church, then down to Houghton Hall to see the obligatory stately pile. As you can see, my shoes and their fountain were exactly the same colour. They had a very tasty cafe (if rather expensive) in converted part of the stables.

There were also a number of art installations throughout the grounds. This one was a vast circle of piled slate. Um, ok. Made for neat pictures looking back at the house, though.

The Cholmondeley (pronounced CHUM-ley, obviously) family still live in the house, so we went through the 10-or-so staterooms open to the public. There were some extraordinary tapestries with incredibly fine needlework, and an entrance hall that reminded me of the main hall at The Breakers in Newport. You walk in, you gasp, you look up, your mouth drops open, and you look around in disbelief. I imagine Mr Vanderbilt was well aware of Houghton Hall (and would be pleased at the comparison).

I mean, seriously. This is the fruit cage. You know, the little tent with mesh where you grow your raspberries to keep the birds out. I thought the steel walk-in one my father-in-law welded together was intense. It's got NOTHING on this one.

After our dash through the rest of the gardens (which I'd highly recommend), we went back to Thornham for evensong. Most of the village appeared to have turned out for the evensong, which was really nice - the church was reasonably full. The vicar was great - if you look in the encyclopedia under English Country Vicar, he'll be there, waving at you, complete with booming BBC English. Loved it.

We then retired to a well-scouted and extremely delicious supper at the Briarfields Hotel, followed by a surprisingly short coach ride back to Bury. It was a VERY long day but we all really enjoyed ourselves.

And the sun even came out in the evening!