Hilltop Diary, January 24, 2022

In the latest “bite-off-more-than-you-can-chew” news, after long saying we’d like to do it, Crystal and I finally got ourselves into the car and down to the hardware store together to pick out and buy paint. It was for our indoor, yellow, unpainted brick fireplace. You have to put a special primer/sealer on the raw brick first, and then the regular paint. With our rough-textured brick, it is tough to get paint into all the crags and cracks, especially the deeper channels between bricks. With a combination of a super fat roller and a thin brush to go in those channels, we battled through the primer but still have to do the finish coat, so it’s turned into a bigger job than we imagined. You can tell it’s going to look nicely updated, though, once the finish coat matches the off-white floor-to-ceiling bookcases on either side of the fireplace. Here are some early and later “before” photos, but the final off-white coat is yet to come. The blue tape will be removed.

Fireplace Before and After

In the latest “today is actually a holiday” news, it is. It’s the feast of St. Francis de Sales. When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I had to choose a patron saint for my Catholic Confirmation ceremony. I looked on the calendar in our kitchen and scanned the names in small type on each day and came across this guy. Thinking he must have something to do with sailboats (“de Sales”), which I liked at the time, I chose him! Now, zoom ahead through my decades as an agnostic existentialist and a non-denominational Protestant and finally again a Catholic, and lo, I discover that this guy was a good choice. His book Introduction to the Devout Life is so full of practical wisdom for anyone, but, alas, it has nothing about sailboats!

In the latest “Oh my, it snuck up on me” news, it hit me last week that, after over a year of virus delays, my big (45-minute) symphony is finally coming up to begin rehearsals in February and performed and recorded, March 17-19, barring any new lockdowns! It hit me when suddenly I was asked to deliver my large, heavy box of players’ individual sheet-music parts to the conductor (those were fortunately done and ready) and a bunch of PR materials (those were not, but I scrambled).

In the latest “I-don’t-know-if-this-will-be-interesting-to-anyone” news, there will be three days of recording, with a microphone setup that will take hours on the part of our very fine professional recording engineer, who recorded much of my last album. His main center mics are a pair of classic German Neumanns, currently valued over $7,500! For two microphones! Let’s just put it this way: If the CD sounds bad, I won’t be able to blame the mics! As the producer (my fifth time wearing that hat), I will fly soon after the recording to New Hampshire to the Parma Recordings headquarters to supervise the post-production of the album. It should be released on Amazon, iTunes, etc. later in 2022, featuring the symphony and some of my original choral music, most of that already recorded and in the can, but there is one last choral piece to record in early March.  

In the latest “please-be-interested-in-this” news, the three days of recording include one free, public concert in Nashville on Friday, March 18, also recorded live – Try not to cough unless you want to be on my album! 😊 It will be in the Ingram Performing Arts Center at the Blair School of Music on the Vanderbilt Campus, with free parking using the garage entrance right across the street from the front door of the hall on Children’s Way, which is the street that runs parallel to and just north of Blakemore Ave. between 24th and 25th Ave. South. Easy in and easy out, and no concert tickets are required, just come! I don’t know yet what the Covid rules will be then, so maybe just bring a mask, in case. But there shouldn’t be any vaccine requirement. Watch for updates in the Hilltop Diary just before March 18.

Side Tidbit: A film company called 4PM Media will be on site filming a music documentary. They asked me if they could film the dress rehearsal on March 17, then film an interview with me in the hall on the 18th, and then the concert on the 18th. I said, sure, fine with me, though I honestly have little idea what the overall documentary will be like, how much of me or the symphony will be used, or when it will go public, or in what form!

In yet more “I-don’t-know-if-this-will-be-interesting-to-anyone” news, here’s a diagram of all the exact instruments in my eighty-member orchestra, placed approximately where they will go on stage: (click and zoom in to enlarge):


Finally, in the “just-about-done-writing-this” news, there is no news (good or bad) yet on other fronts I have mentioned here or another new one that I’m still waiting on. Otherwise, all the rest is well with Crystal and me and our cats at Hilltop, and I hope you are well, too!

I need an inspiring thought to close! What keeps me going, positive, and youthful in this “bleak midwinter” are four things: 1) Always try out something new, especially the more set-in-your-ways you feel. 2) Always have irons in the fire to look forward to, and be sure to include some crazy ones that are probably just dreaming, because, who knows, they may actually come true. 3) Pray daily for at least thirty minutes and at a regular time, including thanks and any worries and frustrations you have. Without this, I’d be a wreck! 4) Always be able to laugh at yourself and keep your sense of humor about the little offenses done to you by others.

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