Hilltop Diary, October 18, 2021

Wow, I cannot believe two weeks have passed since I last wrote. I’m just going to jump into randomness here in my topics. Yet again, our plans to see the travelling Downton Abbey Exhibition have been thwarted and rescheduled. We tried to see it at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina three times, I think, but kept having conflicts, and once actually went there, either just before it opened or after it left, or when it was there and closed due to the plague, I can’t remember. So, we waited and finally saw that it was coming to Atlanta (well, Sandy Springs, not too far from Crystal’s parents) and will be there into January. So, we made reservations for fall break last week, but illness demanded rescheduling, and now we have tickets for December. If we get there then, I’ll post pictures to prove we finally made it. We watched all the show’s seasons and the movie, got the book and the cookbook, and await the sequel movie, so yes, we are fans. Fans of that era, and anglophiles, more than fans of those particular characters.

My long-awaited “Keynote” speech at the Interdisciplinary Studies Symposium this past Saturday went perhaps better than I imagined, though I confess that the first few talks by philosophy professors from various universities were so far over my head that I honestly didn’t understand them at all, due to so much jargon that I had simply never heard. I was terrified that mine (the very last talk) would be too simplistic by comparison, but I explained at the start, “Please understand that I am a musician, so I will have to speak in rather more vernacular language to you,” and they were very gracious. But the point I made, about applying a very profound quote by early fairytale author George MacDonald to music, was genuinely appreciated, and they also loved the excerpt from my new symphony that I played for them at the end. MacDonald said: “The purpose of a fairy tale is not to give people things to think about, but to awaken things in them.” I talked about my quest to discover what traits of music might awaken things that are asleep deep in people, and what would constitute a musical fairytale. At some point, they will post the audio, I think; if so, I’ll post it in a future diary entry.

I’ve been dreadfully behind in my two October articles for the Epoch Times, but will finally start working on them this week. One will be on the noble craft and profession of piano tuners, and particularly on the tradition of blind piano tuners, with interviews. The other will be on “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Bagpipes,” how fun. I had also accepted a job as music editor for another composer’s double cello concerto and edited the first two movements, only the third movement to go. Teaching one or two composition lessons a month to adult professional musicians via Zoom, which is fun, because they are quite advanced, already mature, and so eager to learn more. These last two weeks have been a concentrated period of nailing down the details for my upcoming recording sessions in February and March, of which there are very many (contracts, locations, microphones, liner notes, and personnel, etc.). I finally had my first possibly interested contact from a theater about doing a production of my Dear Miss Barrett show, and they have a committee reviewing the show now. And last in this whirlwind, I spent a whole day working as an “external reviewer” for a composition professor at another university who is going for promotion from Associate to Full Professor, and submitted what turned out to be a three-page, single-spaced written report to their dean (thankfully, I was nicely paid to do it). In all of this, I have done NO composing, but I needed, anyway, to let what I composed a couple of weeks ago rest and come back to it with fresh ears this week, to know if it’s worth keeping.

An old college roommate is coming from Wisconsin to stay and visit with us a few days this week! I am very excited, as we have much to catch up on. He has met Crystal a few times over our eleven-plus years of marriage, and she will enjoy his visit too, and he’s taking us out to dinner one night. Finally, I have been learning how to make a new dish, as I have always wanted to cook rabbit. Sorry, to you bunny lovers out there! I found just the recipe, “Rabbit Isabel,” which sandwiches between two pounded flank filets layers of prosciutto, ground leg meat, and fresh sage, dusted in seasoned flour and lightly browned in butter on both sides. Yum. The problem is that rabbit ordered online is frightfully expensive, around $150 for one meal’s worth, delivered. Won’t be doing that! If I can find some locally at a reasonable price, I’ll get it but will be practicing the recipe with chicken meat first. I leave you with this baby sloth. He appears very scared and vulnerable, and we all feel that way sometimes, don’t we? Yet I wouldn’t mind being a lazy grown-up sloth for a few days! 

baby sloth

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