The first Piano Practice

Bloged in General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Wednesday January 19, 2005

I motored to Valley Presbyterian Church this morning for my first encounter with the Bosendorfer. Liz greeted me in the office and went with me to the sanctuary with the Key to what turned out to about a 10 foot Steinway (woops….bad info somewhere) sitting at the front of the sanctuary but turned with the opening toward the seats. The action is VERY stiff and will require more muscle toning for the fingers, BUT….the sound is very nice and the instrument well built enough that the player has great control over the dynamics and sound. I enjoyed the practice a lot and will go again while I can. The Mysterious Organ that NO one is allowed to even peek at turns out to be top of the line Rodger’s Church Organ and perhaps that’s why Ms. Darlene (the hired union organist) won’t let anyone touch it, she’s probably afraid they’ll mess up her MANY Preset stops. I’d only been playing about 5 minutes when the newly hired Janitor walked in wanting to match the key I had with his but that began a long chat about his tough times that last year or so…..luckily LIZ came down with a call from Rodger so the Janitor finally left and I got back to work. The Rodger Call? I got to join he, Janice, and Kris for lunch at Vista Springs Cafe up near the Council Crest area, a local favorite. SO. I had a good day. Even had the dog in the back so we stopped a few times on the way back for some running and play. He NO longer seems to get sick when traveling and is enjoying the mysterious event of jumping into the back and getting out of the car somewhere completely different for no comprensible reason. Oh well. I’ll still practice a lot more.

Inn at the Mountain

Bloged in General Home Life,Pacific Northwest,TRAVEL by mark Friday January 14, 2005

We had an interesting ride due to Rodger’s work…………Once again, he’s setting up a scientific conference for next winter and the site chosen is the Inn at the Mountain (in Welches, OR, just below Mt. Hood). We drove up one afternoon this week and advised the desk we were there so they could alert the Conference Sales Office. Mid-way through a great lunch, we were advised that lunch would be covered by the Sales Contact. Janet proved her mettle with a fabulous tour of lots of 100 acres in this valley ringed by steep forested hillsides. Beautiful golf courses run along by streams, views of mountains, International Croquet Tournaments are scheduled here next year, beautiful lodgings, all in all, a grand afternoon! Maybe some of you would like to go with us when you’re in town next time for golfing at a beautiful site ??? Leave us a comment……… (we also know of another great please to dine in Welches, the Rendesvous Grill)……………

Wedding Music ?

Bloged in Scuff Boys by mark Friday January 14, 2005

:roll:Everybody knows I played the piano from age 6 to 17 and quit after going to BYU and seeing “real” piano players perform in the Harris Fine Arts Center. On rare occasion after that I played for a wedding or two and a funeral or four and in the last twenty years have ONLY played for the occasional family funeral. I have become a sloppy play-by-ear guy truly enjoying the piano JUST for fun and friends singing around it about two times a year. We even traded off the dear old baby grand for this digital electronic piano and although I missed that live piano sound, couldn’t justify getting another old used one to “hear” the live sound because I really have not been playing this electric enough to make it worth it. My sound quality slowly declining as fingers get weaker and weaker. WELL. friends Liz and Jason have asked me to play Prelude and Recessional music for their wedding February 20! I was honored, and immediately intimidated since this will be at their family’s big Presbyterian Church that happens to house a mammoth Bosendorfer Grand. I have been practicing 1-2 hours a day since they asked last weekend, and hope something comes out of this that won’t embarass them and hopefully actually sound okay. I can tell in one week, my fingers are a little stronger…..but I got a long way to go! Wish me the best!

Wheat Bread – a Success.

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life by mark Friday January 14, 2005

Two weeks ago, we were at Bob’s Red Mill (makes about every kind of grain in the world into flours, breadings, etc. fabulous place). We brought home some fresh spelt wheat flour and I made some bread. I used my dear Mom’s classic best version recipe (her 1990 Whole Wheat Bread Recipe—that she would usually grind up her own “Montana Spring Wheat” for) but felt adventerous. I used buttermilk in this recipe and had never seen buttermilk called for when making whole wheat bread. :twisted: I also threw in a little Fava flour, Semolina Flour, Gluten flour, Vitamin C crystals…..honey, but then forgot to throw in the Olive Oil she reccomended. I didn’t use her specs at all but the result was about the best tasty wheat bread I’d ever tasted. The PROBLEM? It’s ALWAYS a little bit of a thrill to invent a new version of a recipe that works, but……….did you write down what the portions were? NO. So now…………I’m going to play with that a little and hopefully “recreate” the great bread that “happened”.

Our Frozen Weekend?

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature by mark Friday January 14, 2005

For about the fourth time,:mrgreen: forecasters are predicting a “weather event” for Portland. All previous were about some snow to fall and nothing happened. THIS time, all forecasters are agreeing with the NOAA: We are getting colder and gorge winds are just now beginning dragging down arctic air from the east side of the Cascades. This condition will keep the ground frozen today, and tonight while a pacific warm wet storm comes in over the top of this cold air. That’s the setup for our classic “freezing rain” events….and that’s what is forecast late tonight through Sunday afternoon. What are we doing to prepare? We’re moving more wood into the garage for the stove, getting a little bit of food treats since we actually may NOT be able to leave home tomorrow, and waiting with anticipation, hoping the power stays on. This can be fun IF it doesn’t go on for two weeks like last year. It WILL be fun to take Mac out on the ice…… So, dear Diary, we may just have quite a bit more to add to this lovely forecast by Monday! Oh…yes…. the birds…… they are coming in groups to the feeders with this cold air. We’re pouring hot water over the frozen bit left in the birdbaths….keep them birds alive! Our only worry right now is for our the Smiths next door who must be at the airport about 6:00 am Sunday…..it just may be they’ll have to go out tomorrow afternoon and stay at an airport motel overnight. How fun can this be?

frozen january

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature by mark Thursday January 6, 2005

We’ve been at or below freezing for several days. We’re daily cracking up the ice that solidly freezes up the birdbaths and pouring warm water over them that seems to last most of the day and, believe it or not, some birds still take a little bath now and then, but mostly, the water is important for them (we’ve had NO moisture, just wind and cold), so here’s Dad’s old bath just before I put in some warm water:

Last summer, a rural pet store was closing…in it we found a “suet post” (as plain as a round wooden fence post cut into lengths about 18 inches long with inch diameter holes drilled into it then stuffed with suet) that looked interesting…..and finally, it was on sale cheap). It’s been hanging outside now for three seasons and what birds can hold onto it love it. It is the favorite woodpecker feeder…..and with the cold, is used now by Chickadees, Juncos, and of course, the Woodpeckers and Flickers all the time. Yes, we have to hang it carefully to make sure squirrels don’t slide down the pole and munch the feeding tubes empty:

It’s a GREAT feeder. Maybe a little messy to reload (we must bring the suet to room temperature and sort of “stuff” the stuff into the holes) but fun to watch. We now have it just a few feet from the TV room windows.

And alas, the end of our freezing spell usually brings us some snow….looks like it may only be a flurry or two and then change back to rain. I suppose with all the blizzards, flooding, horrific weather all over this country (not to mention the 24 hour news favorite, the Tsunami), we’ll take what we’re getting very gladly and quietly.

Having a wood fire in the stove the last five nights has been wonderful.

Mark’s been asked to play Prelude Piano Music for Liz & Jason’s wedding on February 20….and of course the recessional as well. There are about 175 guests expected, the piano just happens to be a Bosendorfer (WOW!) and this maybe about the most exciting thing Mark’s done in a long time. The last times he has played at all were at funerals for his parents and that didn’t take a lot of time to prep for since the music was simply some quiet hymns. THIS challenge will require hours and hours of practice to get some old fingers nimble again, and even then, he hopes he can match the challenge. He’s honored that he would be asked.

And winter rolls along.

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