Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Erev Thanksgiving

First of all, I am currently writing from my new Mac, which has been returned from its maker with a new logic board and a new heating something. I can think of quite a few people who could use new logic boards...

Whenever school vacations occur Rebecca and Jonathan get in their weird gemelli groove, spending much of their time in a fantasy world, which is these days heavily infused with Harry Potter. Africa and Mark were back today and seemed to be studying potions at Hogwarts. There was a small battle because Rebecca accused Jonathan of sitting on Africa. It made me feel better to hear another adult say “Jonathan, leave Africa alone.” Rebecca informed us that Africa was hard to see because she is a “little puddians.” After some discussion we figured out she meant Lilliputians from Gulliver’s travelers. Jonathan, meanwhile, announced as we passed a certain muffler store “hey it’s the Greek God Midas (with an ‘i’ like in pit) “you know the greek god who turns things to gold and has ass ears as in ears of an ass”

And last night we had a rockin rock band practice. Yes, I am now a complete and total cliché—the middle aged musicologist who joins a rock band. I believe I’m in some pretty distinguished company. I like to think of it as an extension of a Stony Brook style Baroque ensemble—think baroque power cords, dissonances pushed just past their limit, and French rhythmic flexibility. And, as it turns out, rock bands also do not tune to A-440. The Rock Band has some pragmatic appeal. Practices can be after the kids go to bed, as opposed to every other gig in Charlottesville, which occurs during dinner and bed-time. And if sight-reading becomes more and more of a problem with age, rock music takes care of that—there is no music to read. (Yes I did in fact sustain another head injury sight reading Pleyel viola duets the other night. Rock is apparently safer)

This has some serious dork factor going. I’ll keep my bandmates anonymous but let’s just say that I’m not the only one who has gotten in trouble for using the words “score” and “oeuvre” in practice. However, should anyone need things transposed quickly, those of us who use words like score and oeuvre can accomplish the task in a matter of seconds. And let’s just say that while I do not share my $1K glasses, reading glasses were passed around for use with setting up PA’s and looking at lyrics. The drums in the basement are of course a huge hit with the four year old set, and somehow Eli has already internalized the blank stare of the percussionist.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Birthday weekend

First, we survived Eli’s fourth birthday and this is not trivial. How by the way did my baby get to be four. The festivities began when we realized on Thursday that we had no present for him and zipped out on a date to the bike store for a push-bike. This has the double effect of thrilling thing 3 and we hope of getting him to ride a bike, which will then shame thing 1 and 2 into learning themselves. I know very little about where we are going in china but I know they all ride bikes. It is currently his favorite means of getting around the house and he wears the helmet 24/7. You can’t be too careful. My favorite arrival of the day was the fabulous Thing 1-3 t-shirts from Uncle Michael and Aunt Lynn, which the things all promptly put on. This is the favorite uncle who lets me drive his various cars and promises to visit us in China. I also loved it when Brian, a former babysitter/close family friend called me at 9 in the morning to ask how I felt about foam swords. Note that the kid turns everything into a weapon and that the 30 year old kid on the phone has been taking him out for battle practice since he was two. Too little too late? The birthday was also relatively painless thanks to global warming which allows a thanksgiving week party to be outside. The boys, Sid, Charlie, Sam and Eli did a lot of running around. (his other friend is Solomon and yes it does sound like a bunch of old men in Florida) The key item in the household for that age group is currently the drum set with the percussion player in my band has parked in my basement. He claims that as long as the kids don’t get peanut butter on it things are fine. The older siblings mostly tried to boss the little ones around and Rebecca organized a “pin the nose on the snow man” which she made herself.

The birthday boy had to sit out Harry Potter which he was very pissed off about. “I need to see the movie. I wed the book twee times. I am a big big boy” The big kids have been counting the days until this major motion picture event and can spout harry potter trivia the way their father and his buds can still quote Lord of the Rings. Rebecca has been obsessively reading the book because she wanted to finish before she saw the movie—this involved hiding in the bathtub after bedtime reading under the table at dinner etc… She was so not scared that she wanted to sit with her friend Reid not me. I was slightly nervous, as Jonathan has never made it through a motion picture. Up was to scary for him and The Frog Princess landed him in my lap for most of it. He every so often has to run out of the room in curious George but when the man in the yellow hat approaches. Remarkably he watched almost all of it though much it was facing the back of his seat with hand clutched over ears. (think Kierkegaard and Don Giovanni) and for about five minutes we had to run out of the theater. He kept a fairly constant dialogue about what was “wrong” about the movie. The girls claimed not to be scared at all. I wonder if the overall extremely dark mood with traumatic fantasies mob evil and soul searching is simply lost on them.

I haven’t decided what I think about the New York Times Counter -Tenor article from this morning. I’m used to no one outside of our tiny little world of early modern musicologists caring about what I do. So my original thought was “I’ve been scooped by the times. Dam it.” I’m working on a more intelligent and thought out response. This will come tomorrow when I’ve transitioned out of the make a birthday cake, make 24 ice cream cone cupcakes, have a total of 12 kids in and out of house all weekend, state. For this pivot chord modulation I’m turning Sunday night into editing other people’s work night. I assume I’m not the only one out there who finds it much easier to fix someone else’s prose than to generate their own….

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Biblical Morality and the Hungry Child

You know It’s going to be a long day when you hear your children talking about coveting and then accusing each other of breaking the ten commandments. While Rebecca and Jonathan were cleaning their room Eli was doing his usual routine of messing it up, taking their toys and generally getting in the way. This devolved into “Eli do you covet?” Eli rightly looked at them like they were nuts and they proceeded to say “yes you do covet you do not follow the Ten Commandments we’re talking about the cove one. And by the way you are not so good on the honor thy father and mother either.” I’m all for honoring the parents and I’d like to see more of it but I’m not especially comfortable with throwing biblical morality around before breakfast. The day got even more delightful when Manuel informed me that the hot water heater was out again. Once again I pranced across the street in my bathrobe to my neighbor’s house to take a hot shower all the way feeling like a cross between a wife on madmen and a UVa undergrad living on the lawn. (for non UVa folks that’s a big honor here which involves living in a Jeffersonian room without indoor plumbing. Not my kind of honor). The trailer shares that lack of plumbing and I always love getting soaked by the water falling off the metal roof on the way to the bathroom.

The pinnacle of the day was of course the call in my office from the principle, the school nurse and Jonathan’s teacher. Thing two had somehow forgotten his lunch and we had failed to check. Apparently no food in the school would do. He told me this on the phone as I was sitting in the trailer at UVA with no car and Manuel was teaching also with no car so there was nothing we could do. As I understand it Rebecca, Marietta and Ian all tried to give him food and reason with him including the girls telling him that “sometimes change is hard.” Ms Keiser and Nurse Brown are for the most part fairly unflappable so I’m sure this was a dramatic J food meltdown. This is a kid who had feeding therapy for years and about whose eating habits I lost many nights sleeping. But once he got on the growth charts and started to read I figured he could be as short and skinny as he wanted and it would some day be someone else’s problem. Meanwhile his first grade teacher happened to be in the office and asked if I cared if he ate crackers and cheese. My response was basically you are a saint and I don’t give a hoot what he eats at this point or if he eats at all……” The other irony is that I’m currently coordinating the donation of side dishes and prizes for the school sponsored Thanksgiving dinner in the low income housing neighborhood.

Now it’s time to go back to recommendations. I think we just call November national recommendation month.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bust Weekend

oopes last night i loaded up the unedited unpunctauted version...

I logged on to the preschool blog to find a dialogue featuring my husband and youngest child. The same child was recently featured as part of a rock band comprised of four short little boys with bossy older sisters. Their signature tune seemed to be Bye Bye Miss American Pie with a kind of punk grit. My kid’s active blog life combined with my actually having custody of a functioning computer inspired me to re-enter the blogosphere. This is also a weekend that features the elementary school sock hop, final soccer game, piano recital, and a baby shower dinner party for thirty-eight so there might be stuff to write about.

The sock hope has been conquered although four Lerdau men from the ages of 4-83 were done long before Rebecca was ready to leave, and we had to leave her with another family to bring her home later. Luckily only one of the Lerdau men expressed himself by lying down on the floor of the library and kicking and screaming. Next year our big PTO fundraiser should be selling moonshine on the playground. I would have happily paid $20 for a beer or shot of tequila by about 20 minutes into it. The excitement of the actual dancing is only exceeded by the scholastic book fair, for which each child has already created a wish list. While I was in the library earlier this week helping the kindergarteners I was especially thrilled to find that the most popular literature choices were Barbie, Make me a Beautiful Princess and a biography of Justin Bieber. I’d never heard of him, and he appears to have no relationship to the 17th century Biber whom I familiarized myself with while preparing or my comprehensive exams in graduate school.

Rebecca is playing her own composition on her piano recital, and it comes with many glissandos, dissonances, quirky little minimalist patters, and, most importantly, dramatic gestures. In addition to this precocious little number, she’s also developed some rather poor practice dkills. She is especially proud of having read harry potter while learning Gavotte and couldn’t understand why I didn’t think her piano teacher would find this impressive. She also, unfortunately, figured out how to cram. When I am out of town very little mail is opened and very little practicing is done. When I returned I said she had to play the recital piece ten times a day. The results of one day of this prompted the piano teacher to congratulate her on her effective drilling of the hard parts—oops.

Eli and Manuel’s dialogue is below. For the full effect imagine Eli “helping” Manuel push his collectors’ item 1980-something orange mountain bike (a gorgeous orange Stumpjumper Sport with original Shimano friction shifters [ML]). He would have been wearing either saddle shoes or red cowboy boots—the only footwear he wears these days.

dialogue between Dad and Eli...
Eli: Daddy, I'm a pwe-schooler
Dad: Yup
E: Do you know why?
D: No, Why?
E: 'Cause I go to pwe-school
D: Oh. That makes sense
E: Daddy, I'm a Jew.
D: Yup
E: Do you know why?
D: No, Why?
E: 'Cause I go to Jew school