Beyond

I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

making rather merry, sir

What a funny Christmas.

I had no Christmas Eve service to plan.

I did not decorate my house.

I did not buy a turkey, mash potatoes, make stuffing, plan a meal, fuss over details.

Gifts among our immediate family were all opened by the 17th.

There's not even a chance of snow here.

In some ways, all is so foreign, yet... here I sit, as the girls play in their silly camaraderie among cousins and uncles and aunts, old jokes being dredged up and laughed at yet again, and new jokes being forged as we laugh our way through the holidays. And it's right.

Some of the laughter is because of the jokes, much is just because it's so easy to laugh when we're all together.

More people than ever, yet not quite all. Tonight on the way home the iPod kicked into "All is Well". About one verse in, I switched tracks. "I like that one," said D. "It reminds too much," said I. "Enough said," he replied. What an amazing guy.

What an amazing family.

I am, in so many senses of the word, ridiculously blessed.

Merry Christmas. And God bless us, every one.

Monday, 7 December 2009

nature, sort of

Sometimes we learn things here in odd ways. For example, I found out last week that we have ermine living here on the farm. They're cute little weasels, and in winter their otherwise brown camouflaging fur turns pure white except for a little tuft of black at the tip of their tail (question: why the tuft? answer: I have no idea.) in preparation for the snow that will come.

The odd way we found out? Found one drowned in our pool. Oops. Sorry, little guy.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

fog

I like fog. It's like a big grey blanket (a cool, wet blanket, I admit) that wraps the world in a bit of mystery. Maybe it's my Maritime upbringing, so when I see it here inland, it's a tiny bit of childhood familiarity that makes me like it. There's something about looking across hazy fields at the shadows of the trees, indistinct and just suggesting the land beyond.

Last night was thick fog for our area. Of course nothing like the fog that sweeps in from the ocean, "pea soup fog" we always called it. The girls, with their Ontario upbringing, haven't seen it as much and they were amazed when I told them about driving with the window down so that you could see the line beside the car to follow the road, since you couldn't make out the road just ahead of the car. Out we ventured to take a friend home who'd been here for the evening.

No problems with the drive until we were almost home and the headlights picked up something on our lane just ahead. Road kill, I thought. Nope. A seagull. At 9:00 at night. Huh? Standing there. Well, until I hit it.

Strange, that.

Monday, 9 November 2009

ouch

"Being an artist is painfully hard." (Seren)

I read a quote once that talked about how artists tend to be more sensitive by nature. That's how we see things that we then express to others. We must feel deeply so that we can take others there. It's how pictures and phrases appear in art that a lot of people might not have thought of themselves, yet when they see it or hear it they see a piece of them and their life in it. The "aah" moment happens and we connect. It can be good, and as Seren says, it can also hurt.

As I wrote and put this project together, I started to see myself as a bit of an artist. I could relate to the investment of body, spirit, emotion that exhausts and exhilarates. The desire to find a way to put to words thoughts that always seem to flit about, just out of reach. The excitement of hearing audibly what had only existed in the imagination.

There's a lot of me in The View From Here. It sounds cliche, but I did put heart and soul into it. And I'm really, really happy with it. I grew as a musician and as a person through the process. The little dream got nurtured and I felt what it was to soar. I wanted to make something that would make God smile at His little girl's efforts, and I truly think I did.

So when the local radio station said they won't be playing it, it hurt. A lot. Not to say they weren't very nice about it, the email was very friendly. And I know not everyone will like my sound or my style, or maybe the mix. I don't like every song I hear on the radio. And of course it's their decision.

But, ouch.

It's humbling. And being humble is good, I know. I will learn, I will keep on.

There are other stations. Maybe some of them will like it. I'm gun-shy now, though, and the little voice that says "you really aren't good enough" that I thought had finally shut up is fairly screaming now. It's a little conflicting, my mind running the gamut from dejected, to annoyed, to wanting to learn, to depressed, to apathetic, to frustrated, to trying to see some good from it, to trying to understand, to hopeful for other options, and back to dejected.

But I need to remember why I made this CD, why I wrote the songs. Is my Father smiling?

Head down, keep trudging. I'll get to the view from the top of the mountain yet.

Monday, 26 October 2009

normal again

Friday night was, in a word (and yes, I'm biased here), beyond.

Friends and family came out to celebrate and they had a great time.

The band, after all their hard work, played an amazing set
and kept saying how happy they were to be a part of it when I kept thanking them for everything they'd done.

I expected nerves and never really got them. This was a
huge surprise because of all the evening meant to me and the fact that for a good number of the songs I was out front, mic in hand. Now typically this is not where I like to sing. I like to be behind my piano. Being out from has a level of exposure that brings on the jitters. And talking? that just doubles it. So I expected to be battling all of this while trying to remember all the vocal coaching from Maria, all the styling notes from Tim, all I had put into the CD, all that was behind it. In short, I expected a major struggle.

It didn't happen. I was comfortable, at ease. I talked without going in circles and said what I wanted to say without my voice getting that trembly sound that I hate because it screams "nervous!!". I didn't mind being out front at all. I hit the notes with the right sound. I played vocally at the end of 'Imagine' and loved it. The one tech glitch (monitor feed disappearing courtesy of a cord turning the volume way down) didn't negatively affect what I was putting out and was fixed after one song.

After the show people were everywhere, I got bouquets of flowers and was signing CDs while getting to celebrate with everyone (and thanks to Seren, I even had my beef carpaccio at the end of the evening!) and enjoy the mounds of amazing food that B and S had put together.

Wow.

It was more, it was better than I imagined it would be.

It was beyond.

So now I'm back to normal, right?

Oh, wait. CDs to Salem Storehouse today, revamping website, figuring out ordering online and iTunes, planning further contacts ... maybe not.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

sidenote

One thing I will always remember about this weekend: D taking my face in his hands, looking me in the eye, and saying, "you are an amazing woman." Aaah.

Friday, 23 October 2009

today

In some ways it all comes down to today.

Doesn't it always? The choices we make, the seeking for the right way to go and the right thing to do, can't rest on yesterday or worry about tomorrow. Today is what we have.

The journey started over a year ago (ten years ago, if you count the actual songwriting) and today all the logistics, all the effort, all the creativity and ideas and worry and elation and exhaustion and insanity - it all comes down to this. All those analogies of making a CD being like having a baby kept coming to mind as we planned and dreamed and wondered what the final product would be like.

The setup last night and runthrough were amazing. It sounded good, I felt comfortable singing and delivering the material. Granted, it was an audience of three people. The butterflies may arrive en masse tonight, knocking me over with their fluttery wings. The band sounds so good and vocally I was still trying things out, but I had a confidence in it that is surprising me a little. I was finding an ease and freedom as I sang.

The tech guys - D, GM, and Tim - had set everything up and sound checks went well. Having Tim on hand was awesome and his input, both for sound and for my own performance, was invaluable.

I got to sample some of the food yesterday for the after party and WOW, B and S have outdone themselves and I know I have yet to see the whole thing. I did a minuscule bit of helping at B's house, but it was not nearly enough to qualify even as a catering peon and just enough to get a tiny glimpse at all the work that has been going on in that kitchen.

Now all I need is for the CDs to arrive, safe and sound and delightfully on time, so that we'll have those available.

I feel good.

I feel ready.

Baby, it's time to get you out there.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

ready. i think.

We're prepped for Friday night. The band is ready. The sound guys are all over the tech end of things. I've almost finished the media. The food sounds amazing and I'm looking forward to eating it. The CDs should be done and ready for sale, after I pick them up on Friday. Family starts arriving tonight for a weekend that starts with celebrating my music and ends with celebrating Mom's 70th birthday.

I think I'm ready. I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

almost real

I have used the word "surreal" time and time again through this process. But in talking to a friend online the other day and describing what listening to the final mixes sounded like, I used the word "real" for the first time. It's starting to feel real.

We had a listening party last Saturday night. Me, D, Uberguitarist, Greggo, and the Little Chicago guys sat and listened to the CD from start to finish, taking notes and discussing changes. There were no major hiccups except for some worry on my part when I whispered to D, "so, what do you think?" and he answered, "we'll talk later". Uh oh.

Turns out, in the car when I asked him and braced for him saying he didn't like it but it was too late now, he took my hand, looked at me and said "it sounds amazing. I am so proud of you". He also had me laughing when, having told me he was getting 8 1/2 x 11 ads made up for the concert, he came home with a poster-size glossy version of the ad. "I'm a little bit proud of you," was his excuse. Like I'll argue with that!

D and I sat with Tim and listened through the final mixes yesterday. It sounds better than I imagined.

The recording is done, the tracks mixed and they are in Toronto as I type this, being mastered into the final files that will be taken to the duplication company tomorrow. The artwork was another time crunch but is in the printers' hands and the final proof was approved by me this morning. It's underway.

October 23 is coming fast, the concert looms and rehearsals are underway for that. It won't sound exactly the same as the CD (what with only one of Uberguitarist and all), but we'll do our best.

One more level of reality awaits: holding the finished product in my hands.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Monday, 5 October 2009

crunch

I feel like I'm in a Star Trek episode where the time all compresses into one point. Was there an episode like that? I can't remember, but I'm sure it would be chaotic.

Everything I can do first-hand is done, and now it's on to coordinating several different sources so that the timeline is achieved. Mixing and mastering provide the audio, design provides the visuals. All this then goes to the duplication place to make 1000 copies of the thing.

We saw the initial layout of the CD liner last night, and I really liked what I saw. Will from Strivemind had taken one photo I'd particularly liked and used it for the lyrics page in a way I'd never have thought to. Very cool.

While this is going on, the other side of the coin is underway as we prep the band for the concert. So the live and recorded versions of my CD are both chugging ahead to October 23rd.

Today I had a moment of panic as to whether they will glide smoothly into the station, or jump the tracks for a spectacular mess.

And the little optimist in me, the one who always believes it'll work out, is oddly quiet.

Friday, 2 October 2009

shift happens

Tuesday and Wednesday nights this week were BGVs, the 'ooh's and 'aah's that fill a song out. Some wonderful friends from the worship team were there on Tuesday to add some, and on Wednesday I redid some of my own. One great thing was that most of what I'd recorded when we did ghost tracking was perfectly good to use, so there were just some little edits and additions.

When I got home I realized that though there is percussion, and mixing, etc etc, left to do, I am done making noise for this project. I was done. It was surreal to start doing it, and surreal again to be finished. Bro-in-law E had the perfect analogy when he said "so it's like when you write your last exam ever after 20 years of school" - and that was very like the feeling.

But the shifting happens right away. Next week I sit in with Tim for mixing, going through takes to make sure that what we have is indeed what we want - there is a point of no return. Last night many plans were made with the band for the concert. I shift from recorded music to putting on a live concert that will give the flavor of the CD with different musicians (since Uberguitarist plays six different guitars on the CD and there's only one of him, for example). Rehearsals, logistics, all has to be figured out.

I'm wondering when life gets back to normal ... or if this is one of those times of my life where I don't go back to normal, but find a new normal.

Monday, 28 September 2009

home

A day at home. I knew I was missing it, but not so much as today, my first full day home in 9 days.

I cleaned my kitchen shelves. I did laundry and even folded it the same day. I helped M go through clothes to see what she'd outgrown (answer: plenty!). I talked to my kids and heard about A's plans to set a world record along with her buddy Snowman (what record? I asked. We're not sure yet, we have to find something. Maybe with marshmallows).

I sorted through piles of papers that had grown on our sideboard and were threatening mass anarchy. I also made a compilation video of recording guitars at the studio and starting planning another such one for vocal recording. Not so domestic, but still here at home. I listened to the leaves rustle in the wind, the rain that fell on the tin roof, and enjoyed the view of the trees with their changing leaves.

I made chicken noodle soup and blueberry cobbler from scratch for supper and was here to meet D when he got home.

It was so nice.

Tomorrow is home again, and a return to regular school activity. The evening will be spent at the studio, but for the day I'll be here and loving it.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

done

I am really, truly finished recording lead vocals. What a journey.

I learned new singing techniques, from mental preparation (such a huge part of it!) to physical positioning. I learned to go outside my little ideas of my vocal abilities. Sometimes I laughed at the results, but more often I learned I could do something new. I learned what some of my bad habits are and how to address them. Maria gave me so many tools, I'm still figuring out how to remember to use them all. My vocal delivery has changed already, yet the learning continues.

I learned a teensy bit about the recording process through watching Tim at work. I'll never listen to a CD with quite the same ears again. So may subtleties that the producer draws from the artist, that the recording engineer pulls together. Even a solo album is such a collaboration of creative effort.

I learned (well, affirmed) that I have an amazing husband and kids, who have lived in this chaos of my making in the most supportive ways imaginable. They've exemplified flexibility, grace, and caring.

I learned that internet networking has a reach I could never have attained otherwise. Amazing how far it's able to go.

I learned that there is still more to learn.

Where will it go from here?

tightrope

Recorded two songs yesterday, and was worn out by it. The results were amazing, though, so a little fatigue is worth it.

The experience of recording 'We Hold On', written for Josh, six years to the day after the accident, was an emotional stretch I've not had to do for a long time. I wanted to get myself to the right place, remembering him and the day I heard. So I started with a few takes, thinking as I sang and in between. I found the place but ended one take almost in tears and had to stop before I could sing again. Just enough, but not too much, finding the balance was hard. Just singing it from that place was hard. Then ... we got it. The almost-perfect take emotionally and vocally. I had a sudden thought and asked Tim what time it was. 11:54. On Sept 26, 2003 at 7:54 Alaska time, we lost our Josh. And yeah, that's 11:54 EST. Call it fate, I call it providence. We did a couple more but that was 'the one'.

After listening through that one we tackled the title track, which went much better than I expected and had me drawing on all the vocal techniques I've been learning. I loved the results.

By 4:30 though, when we tried to get the last half song, I was done. We called the day and I'll finish it this morning. Speaking of which, time to go.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

six years

Can it really be? The calendar says so. 2003 seems such a long time ago and yet flashes of that day as as clear in my mind as if they just happened. Vignettes of shock?

I still miss him. I still get a catch in my throat thinking about him. I still get blindsided and cry.

Recording today. Of the 2 1/2 songs left to track, one is the one I wrote for him six years ago.

Friday, 25 September 2009

once more, with feeling. and again.

First, for the record: this is what I woke up to on the farm yesterday. Mmmm. Sunrise through the mist over the creek is lovely and worth being up early.


Ok. Yesterday felt a bit like a marathon. Well, except for the fact that I was able to do it and I didn't cross the finish line and throw up.

Maria and Tim and I were in studio from 1-6pm and tracked the lead vocal for "For His Praise". One song. How many takes? I have no idea. Getting just the right feel, finding my physical space and the right emotion, trying exercises that had me sounding and looking very silly but let me start finding vocal places I'd never
gone. I played with my voice for hours.

By the end of the day I was tired, but we had gotten it.
The dialogue was something like this:
Tim: "That was good, but try it again"
Me: (sings the whole song)
Tim: "Almost"
Me: (sings the whole song)
Tim: (doesn't say anything, just starts the song again)
Me: (laughs, sings it again)
Tim: "Okay, we got some good stuff in there. Again."
Me: (sings the whole song)
Tim: "That's it, girl! One more"
Me: "Who's the diva here?"
Tim: (laughs) "Here we go, once more" ... and so on.

It's funny, but with each push something new would come around. One line at the end we tried so many different
ways and times, but when we got it we knew it. Tim is so great at encouraging me while not letting me get complacent with what I'm putting out. I don't feel like
I'm failing, but I keep looking for the magic take. And Maria. Wow, wow. This lady is incredible, and has helped me break through some mental barriers that were holding my voice in one little place.

I'm booked for another 6-8 hours today. Some of the hardest songs are behind us. My lower side and back muscles were sore yesterday and I wondered what I'd lifted, then realized it's from singing so much.

I'm making something here. No, WE are making something here, me and Tim and Maria and the musicians. Something beyond me - beyond us - but not beyond God. I keep coming back to Eph 3:20, that he is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or even imagine. Ooh, yeah.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

meekaisms

M is a creative little girl. She's growing up fast, though. I always think that she has a bit of faeries in her, the way she flits about in her elfin ways.

She makes up words, the most famous in our family being 'Meekasodo', which quickly became our nickname for her and inspired a character in Seren's soon-to-be-published book (side note worth mentioning: Seren is a brilliant writer and her book is a gem. When it is published, buy a copy for every kid you know. Seriously.).

The latest one I heard: "flitterbits". Pardon me? I asked. With a grin, she repeated, "flitterbits!"

What's that mean? I pursued, expecting a vague answer. Without a pause: "Oh, that's what you call pieces of butterfly wings".

Of course.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

spent



Two days of piano, two days of vocals down. I'm exhausted. Oh, and a photo shoot in there, too. And planning and all that other fun stuff.

New laying hens arrive today, meat birds need to have their final trip scheduled. Life on the farm continues even when I'm in the thick of my music.

Vocals. Wow. Maria was in studio with me yesterday, and the on-site coaching was AMAZING. Some physical technique, some of the mental and emotional setup, and what a difference. I'll write more later, I'm still a little overwhelmed by what we were able to get yesterday. Lead vocals have been tracked for Lament, Imagine, Let it Go (lovin' it), and Only You. It sounds better than I thought possible.

Derek has been his usual awesome self, covering supper and coming home early from work to help with the kiddies. The girls are wonderful and understanding about going to people's houses. I do love my family.

Back at recording today, after the laundry and hens.

I keep thinking, this is all too big for me. It's little me, writing my songs in my living room or in the car or in a field. Just me, nothing outstanding. And here I want to put this out on the market, put on a concert, get people to listen to my little stories and thoughts. And I feel like I'm pushing too far. Then I remember that just about every song has the word 'beyond' or 'more' in it, and I think: It is too big for me. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Yes, it is.

Monday, 14 September 2009

diva ... or not

Perhaps it's supposed to feel more like work, and I do get worn out by it. But the studio with Peter, and Alex, and Tim, has just been so much fun that it doesn't seem like I should get to think of it that way.

Today was recording the final synth string parts for the last two songs. These were the trickiest of the songs for timing, so I needed to hear the clicking that keeps me on tempo loud and clear.

me: "can I have more click track?"
Tim, feigning impatience: "oh, you are so difficult! I suppose so"
me: "look, this is my one chance to be a diva and I have to make the most of it"

So now I am the diva. I really need to work on my attitude and make it more diva-ish.

Or, not.

Friday, 11 September 2009

flexible

Just when I think I have things figured out, they change. Yesterday turned out to not finish recording synth, so next Monday and Tuesday afternoons were booked. A call came later in the evening to tell us that a friend's mother had passed away and asked, could I play at the funeral on Tuesday afternoon? Up early this morning to rearrange studio time and child care, and now it's all day Monday at the studio, then playing at the funeral on Tuesday.

Thursday afternoon, my piano gets tuned and then wrapped up like a baby to keep everything in tune. Blankets over the windows and entryways to the room will keep temperature changes minimized.

Friday is the Richmond Fair. I'm not entering anything, but the girls are and we do need to take in the Midway, after all.

Saturday and Sunday the 19th and 20th I'm recording piano all day. Monday 21st to Sunday 27th is booked for vocals, both lead and backup, from 10-6 each day. Arranged for someone else to cover the music in church those two Sundays. Plan to pretty much not talk outside of recording time. Oh, what a quiet house it will be...

Master copy available on Oct 14th, duplicated and printed and ready for the launch concert on October 23rd. I have a due date for my baby. There's no room for delays, so we make sure to keep the schedule that's under our control and then hope and pray that all goes smoothly.

And somewhere in there the kids get taught school, I cut the grass and do laundry and those mom things I do.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

looming

Tim and I sat down with calendars at the studio last night and looked at what's to come.

It's been nice knowing you.

Over the next three weeks I will be vanishing from society in general so we can get all the tracking done for our launch date. Phone calls to the piano tuner and the CD duplication house will confirm the dates, but two solid days of tracking piano followed by seven eight-hour booked days for vocals will ensure that I am utterly wiped out by the end of it.

And yet, I'm looking forward to immersing myself in music like this. I'm excited about the creativity that I know will accompany the fatigue, knowing that my mind often stretches when my body is tired.

After listening to tracks and making plans for the weeks of insanity, we decided to do a quick vocal re-take of 'Lament'. It was the first time Tim has heard me sing since vocal coaching. What a difference. After the first take, with him saying "wow! beautiful! the control is so much better! I am blown away!" and other such lovely things, I felt like a giddy little kid. The second take found even more in my performance as I tried playing around the notes and different approaches to phrasing.

It'll be a crazy few weeks. But oh, what a ride.


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

social and busy


I was struck yesterday by the fact that we go out a lot more often now than we used to. Drinks and dinner for my birthday, last night a quick supper and a movie. All with amazing friends. The situation of "wow, I get to dress up!" is replaced by "what will I wear this time?" I was trying to figure out why, and decided that with the girls at that magical age where a babysitter does not have to be picked up, dropped off and paid, we've become much more flexible for date nights.


It's been fun. Though this week, with every evening being booked and most of them out, I find I'm looking forward to a quiet evening at home. I'm still me, I guess.

Last night's movie was 'Julie & Julia', which I thoroughly enjoyed and got me wanting to cook, cook, cook. That, and visit Paris again. Beautiful.

School has started again, the girls very keen and liking the new books. Extracurricular activities will be starting soon.

Recording seems to be in the homestretch, and what remains is pretty much my show. Keyboards, piano, and then vocals. I anticipate many tired evenings. Then it's out of my hands for mixing and engineering and all those magical things Tim will do, then mastering, and finally the duplication and printing. We met with Will of strivemind on Monday night to talk through the concept for the artwork and I'm liking it.

Vocal coaching with MH continues to blow me away. She keeps finding things that make it better, she keeps encouraging me and I keep learning.

What a funny time of my life this is.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

things that make me go hmmm

Now there's a song I need to find on itunes for a laugh.

But anyway.

The kitchen ceiling is still calling me. It wants to be torn down, I'm quite sure of it. I might just need to help it a little.

Rewiring is done, and as I clean up the dust I wonder why when the holes have yet to be patched and that will of course create more mess that must be cleaned up again. But at least it'll be clean for a while, right?

The cows are mooing a lot, but all seem to be safely in the field. I did notice two little additions to the herd and laughed as they chased each other around this morning.

Camping in Algonquin Park on the weekend was great (water, stars, food, jumping off bridges) but I did learn that just because you're not canoeing through white water, you still need to drink the stuff. Dehydration and possible sunstroke = not fun.

Vocal coaching session today, two evenings booked for Uberguitarist to lay down the lead guitar parts, using Dad's old guitar. Looking forward to that!

Cover art. Definite 'hmm' there but I have a concept that I'm really liking. Now to go from the recesses of my mind to actual print work.

Ordering curriculum for this school year. Usually that's all done a month ago, but with recording we didn't finish the books before summer so will work through those and then morph into the current year. Nice thing is that textbooks always spend the first bunch of lessons reviewing the end of the last book - so some skipping will happen. Getting back into regular days will be a good thing. Oh wait, I'm still recording. So much for regular days.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

dissecting and art

Not as disgusting as it sounds.

Tuesday was my second session with vocal coach extraordinaire MH, and we spent an hour going over two songs. Line by line, word by word even we dissected them. What is the emotion? What is the message? How do I approach it so that it is delivered to get that across to the listener? Where do I stop for a quick pause where I've always sung through, so the impact falls how and when it should? Tiny little things but oh, what a difference. The songs found new life as we pieced them back together.

One thing she said stuck with me and will, I know for a long time. "This is where you stop being the singer, and become the artist". Not just a person trilling off a melody, but a storyteller inviting people along the journey. Not "listen to these notes" but "feel this emotion along with me". Wow, wow, wow.

Hard work but oh, worth it.

Last night was dinner out with local farmer friends the B's to an Italian place in the downtown market. While the traffic made us all glad we live in the country, sitting in the cobblestone patio shared by four restaurants, enjoying the live jazz being played, the food and wine, and not swatting a single bug, was a very nice thing.

Today I'm studio-bound again. It's getting there!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

celebrate



Yesterday D and I celebrated 18 years of marriage. Wow. Eighteen years. I graduated from high school when I was that old and felt like I knew so much, not realizing there was a whole world of things I as yet had not a sweet clue about. Hopefully I'm a little wiser at this point in my life. Still silly and childish (childlike? sounds better) by times, but overall a more knowledgeable me. Hopefully.

The evening was to be a youth group event at our place, when teenagers descended on our farm to swim, roast things, burn things, and otherwise enjoy the country. There was talk of capture the flag in the fields, and whether or not to warn the kids about the ... err ... land mines left by the cows, or just let them find out for themselves. Many hotdogs and chips were purchased, as well as two lobsters I planned to cook up for D and me after the kids had gone home for the evening.

Then the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in and the event was called off by the leaders. Not a drop of rain fell here, however, and the evening cleared up and stayed beautiful. So, we made a fire in the firepit, cooked hot dogs and marshmallows and had a relaxed family evening complete with swimming before and after dark. The lobsters met their end and were delicious. It really was a perfect evening with many laughs and D and I being so thankful for the life we've had together so far.


Friday, 14 August 2009

Thursday, 13 August 2009

progress

Wiring - it's almost done! I think! Bedrooms have returned to normal, without furniture piled in the room, and most of the chaos has moved downstairs. Some replanning of layout is going on, but mostly it's all going back. Of course after all this is done there will be patching holes and repainting, and that all assumes I don't tear down that kitchen ceiling.

Music - back to the studio today for what should be the last day of work on MIDI tracks. My meeting with MH the vocal coach and amazing singer was wonderful on Tuesday. We spent an hour together and talked technique, styling, but overall just the mental part of it - consciously being aware of body positioning while singing to get the best sound, knowing where to put space in the performance to prep both the performance and the listener. So much to learn, but she puts it so well. Within a few minutes of trying something I found a whole different sound I'd been trying to get for a while. Wow, wow!

Life - I'm working the closest thing I've had to a "real job" since becoming a mom, with scheduling and days away from home. I'm trying to - and mostly am - enjoying the journey, barring the annoying questions (what if it fails, what if it's all for nothing, this is too big and beyond what I can do, etc, etc) But last night I was starting up the grill and a little breeze came from the creek, and out came the kid. I ran barefoot through the grass to the creek, then waded around and laughed at the froggies as they plopped into the water. It was perfect and so pretty there, then later the stars were calling so I sat and visited with them for a while. I hope I never lose my love of simple things.

Monday, 10 August 2009

of chaos and bottlenecks

Chaos: my house right now. The rewiring should be done this week, so there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Problem is, since moving all furniture into the middle of the upstairs rooms and pulling things out of closets and off bookshelves and piling them on the floor, I'm not sure I can squeeze my way through the tunnel to reach said light. Too much stuff in the way.

But it's going well and is being done none too soon, as repeated findings of wires whose insulation had cracked and fallen off over the years confirms. Some of the light switches were the original 1940s ones, attached by brittle wires. Pulling the baseboards off the upstairs rooms showed us a few things too. The entire house is, in fact, log construction. The plaster in the bedrooms only goes down far enough to be covered by the 10" baseboards (and oh! those baseboards! Original solid wood planks, held on with the old-fashioned square nails), so through the gap at the bottom of the lath and plaster we can see those original, hand-hewn logs.

The kitchen had an exploratory hole made in the ceiling and I looked up one morning and saw a broad, hand-hewn beam. Oooohhh... I stood there looking while little pictures of an exposed ceiling started filling my mind. D walked in just then and I said, "you know ..." and he immediately said, "we're not tearing down the whole ceiling!" and we had a good laugh. He knows me so well!

So that's the chaos. On to bottlenecks. The latest stage of recording, working with the MIDI parts, was only a precursor to having live strings recorded. While I love the sound, it was another stage and more scheduling that made things go later. There is a possibility, though, that we can use the MIDI tracks since none of the strings are up-front solo parts. If they were, a live player would be a must. But since they are more filling out the sound ("musical grout" my friend G calls it) and will be surrounded by the other instruments, the computer may do the job for us. We should be confirming that this week.

Today will be spent trying to clean my house and then laughing at my feeble attempts, then dropping the girls off to spend the day with Seren while I head to the studio for more MIDI work. Tomorrow I meet with the lady who will be my vocal coach. Truth is, I'm a little nervous on that front. I haven't had a voice teacher or coach before so the new-ness of the situation has me a bit on the anxious side. I"m sure it'll be fine, and am looking forward to it at the same time.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

plugging away

Yesterday was spent in the studio - pretty much literally. It was a nice day outside from what I saw of the world out there, the sun shining and a light summer breeze. But from 10 am until 5 pm, stopping at 2:30 for a little lunch, we worked on the midi tracks from last week.

Beside the word 'tedious' in the dictionary there could be a picture of this. Songs are listened to, then fragments of songs are listened to, the notes in that segment adjusted ever so slightly for timing or pitch, the fragment listened to again, more adjustments made, listen again, move on to the next segment, rinse and repeat. I move between getting tired of the songs and being amazed, on hearing the finishing product, that I wrote such a good-sounding thing. Thankfully, I land mostly on the side of the latter and I still like my music.

But, for all this, it is a step that makes the music better and better. If we didn't do the tedious work the finished product would be sloppy and not reach its full potential. Yes, we're not going to launch it when we'd hoped. But we also won't have done a rush job on it that doesn't do the songs justice. Tim is amazing in how he brings all the bits and pieces together, adjusting and tweaking and doing all that tedious work and bringing the songs to a place that still manages to surprise me.

And I returned home to some surprises. We are getting out house rewired, removing some electrical wiring and fixtures that are probably original to the 1940s. The first switchbox he opened was certainly vintage, with the wires sautered and taped (rather than using those little things we use nowadays that screw on and for which I'm sure there is a name that I don't know). D was off for the civic holiday so was able to help with the work. One discovery: on pulling off the board-and-batten siding near the back entry he confirmed that the construction of at least that part of the house is, indeed, logs and chinking. We'd wondered about that, so seeing the evidence is pretty cool. It also explains why the house is more than just cool in the winter! Logs with board & batten, and then siding. Insulation, anyone?

Today I'm home, with more electrical work going on. It's going to be a chaotic, disruptive couple of weeks. Oh well, we'd hate for life to get boring...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

a few days

What a funny few days.

Friday night D returned home from a week away to Thailand on business. Two days to travel, two days there, to days to return home. His internal clock is still not back on track. Saturday, of course, was pretty low-key as he slept in and then tried to get back onto our time.

Sunday was church, lunch out for D's birthday, and a laid-back afternoon and evening. Sunday night was the discovery of the first loss of a chick. I knew it was bound to happen sometime; there is a certain mortality rate in raising meat birds. One in our third batch of 14-15 isn't too bad. Hopefully it's our only one, though.

Yesterday was waking up early to start the first of four loads of laundry, then clean the house from the weekend's mess. The remaining chicks had their pen cleaned, thoroughly enjoying scratching in the new fluffy wood shavings.

Tim was due to come at 10 so that we could record some MIDI tracks for string parts for the CD. Basically this lets me play the parts we want to hear, we adjust any errors on the laptop, and then my music scoring program turns what I played into neatly-written music for the musicians. Amazing, really.

So walking out to see the cows standing where they shouldn't be at 9:45 was a bit of a bother. And they just don't listen to logic. One call to the farmer later, and he was on his way over to round them up and fix the fencing.

All was well for a 4 1/2 hour session that saw 2 songs completed. It's sounding good, I'm just getting impatient and wishing we were farther through the process. But I have to remember not to sacrifice quality for my impatience. And I'm sure someday I will learn to do that.

Maybe.