18 March 2010

Greener Pastures

There are very few times in my life when green polka-dotted rain shoes are acceptable and appropriate, and this past week, they have gotten their allotted yearly wear.

Not only has spring begun to arrive here in NEPA, but just in time for the annual St. Patties Day celebrations.

Now, in and around the greater Scranton area, St. Patricks Day is a sacred event. Even for the non-Irish, it's like Christmas, only with more green beer and Irish Whiskey. Funnily enough the 17th itself is not really a big deal. Yea, maybe you'll hit an Irish pub for a Guinness. Maybe you'll wear a green shirt to work. But other than that, it's just another weekday. No, in the Scranton area, St. Patrick's day comes early, and with a vengeance.

Parade Day.

You don't even need to specify which parade. You just know. The Saturday before the 17th, the streets of downtown Scranton are filled with green. Everyone from the tiniest toddlers to the oldest mobile citizens come out to see one of the country's biggest parades, ranked number 2 based on participants per population. Only Savannah, GA beats it, and NYC comes in at number 3. The bars open at 9, the parade starts around noon, the breaking of open container laws is openly flaunted, and as always, the pipers are plentiful.

I do not have many pictures of the parade from this year, because, to be entirely honest, I did not do much parade going this year. There was plenty of celebrating, but the crazy cold wind and rain kept the parade attending to the minimum for me, and when I did, my camera stayed nice, warm, and dry in my pocket.

Now, for me, the interweb appropriate celebrating came, for a change, on St. Patty's Day itself. After working as an elementary school music teacher for three days (20 third graders with recorders, while fun, was an experience that I do not wish to repeat anytime terribly soon), I went with some good friends to the Scranton/Wilkes-barre Penguins game, which we affectionately refer to as the "Baby Pens."

Now, having done my undergraduate work in Pittsburgh, I am a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. It's almost a graduation requirement out there. But the Penguin love has stuck with me since leaving, so it's kind of special for me to live in the area where their feeder team resides. And yesterday, not only did the Baby Pens have a special St. Patty's day logo and jerseys (basically a requirement in this area), but there were pipers there to help celebrate.

And what were we celebrating?

Well, the Stanley Cup of course! It came for a visit, since it is currently held by our parent team.

So a very special St. Patrick's Day week it has been.

Isn't it beautiful?


P.S. We won! The Luck 'o the Irish was with us! =D

02 March 2010

Takataka, doo doo doo, doo doo doo tookatoo, Doo doo doo, doo doo doo...

I did it! Cue John Williams!

I crossed the Ravelympics finish line, just as the closing ceremonies were coming to a close with their dancing mounties and their giant inflatable beavers, and the ever so charmingly talented Michael Buble (because it took a Canadian to bring back the Great American Songbook).

And so, I have medaled. I competed in Short-track Shawls, and also I'm still waiting to see if I medaled on the Scarf Super-G (with the same project).

Unfortunately of the two teams I was on, I only medaled for Team Squint Squad (the Bones Fans Group Team). The Traveling Woman I was working on for Team Oooh, Shiney... (the CPAAGG team) ended up totally FUBAR, and I'm going to have to spend the next spurt of free time I have tinking back to see what happened. There wouldn't have been enough time for me to finish both anyway. So I am content with finishing one, my Saroyan in Cascade Pastaza, photos of which you see below.

The reason I found knitting time so suddenly precious over the past week or so is that I ended up drafted to play trumpet in a jazz band. That's right, trumpet. An instrument with which my relationship has consisted of nothing more than yelling obscenities at (not to mention at my brother, the person behind the mouthpiece) for the past, oh, eight years or so.

Now, I do play french horn. I am adequate at it. I get by in a symphonic band fairly well, sometimes even well enough to play first. I also do a bang up job at the "pah-pah"s to the tuba's "Oom" in the German Ooompah band I am a part of. However, it's not like I'm going to run around doing anything like this:

So while I know the general basics of brass playing, the trumpet is an entirely different animal. The trumpet was the instrument invented to lay waste to the rest of the orchestra/band like no other instrument can. Between that fact and the fact that there was constant noise production coming from one in my house from the day my brother picked one up to the day he went to college (for trumpet... major conservatory at least, so all the noise did get him somewhere), I've always been a bit resentful of the trumpet. So I went into it pretty nervous. After all learning to play a new instrument is always difficult, even if the fundamentals are sort of there.

When I told my brother, I got a hearty guffaw, directions to dig out his old beginner trumpet (which had been my mom's methods trumpet back when she was getting her music ed degree in the late 70s), and a skeptical "you'll be fine." So I dug out the tarnished horn, printed out a fingering chart and gave it a shot. With all the baggage I carry concerning that jumble of brass tubes and valve, I was going to do it, but I wasn't going to like it.

However. We had our first rehearsal yesterday... and... and...

I liked it. A lot. Like, a lot a lot.

Just don't tell my brother.