Hilltop Diary, March 8, 2023

Spring is bustin’ out all over at the Hilltop! Well, more like peeking out in spots. Lots of early daffodils, pink and blue hyacinths, and even a lily and some other flowers that Crystal just planted. The trees still remain leafless and our perennial garden remains dormant for a while longer.

Flowers 1


71+7wZILJZL._AC_SX679_Along with those bits of beauty, though, have come our annual spring storms and high winds, and even our first overnight power outage in the nearly thirteen years we’ve lived in this house, but we were prepared for it and managed okay. I’m thankful to have a gas range to cook on, which you can light with a lighter when the power is out, and especially to have my steel, manual coffee bean grinder (photo at left). The front yard was really full of downed branches, but I think it must have been a good thing to get the dead branches cleaned out of those trees all at once.

As promised last time, I can now report on the status of my musical theater show, Dear Miss Barrett. Indeed, we did not get enough cast to sign up to audition for the scheduled production this May! Because it is an unknown show, we clearly need to have more time to pre-cast or do more recruiting. But I’m so grateful that the theater directors said they love the show and are committed to programming it. So they have rescheduled it for March of next year, and for a full three-week run. (This May was to be just two weeks.) So a cabaret show will be plugged into the spot this May instead of DMB, including a couple of songs from my show.

My Zoom meeting with the famous Russian choreographer (who was in Prague) went well. He and his librettist (who was in Turkey, Zoom is amazing) were helpful in suggesting some good tweaks to the music. However, whether this choreographer and his team will be the best match for the concept of our project remains to be determined. Our impresario is looking for a published fairytale author to help perfect the ballet’s story in classic fairytale form.

There is no new update yet on Oliver the cat, but he seems well enough, only still too thin. We keep giving him his Thyroid cream by rubbing it into his ear each morning and night, which is absorbed through the skin. He takes it all so well and is so sweet. We will hope for further improvement in his weight and blood test in a few weeks.

Crystal has been studying really hard to master her part in her upcoming show (see last entry). As always, she has lots of other irons in the fire, too, even though the flame on the other end of her candle is her fulltime school music teacher job. Tomorrow night will be the big spring musical performance by the students that she has been rehearsing for weeks.

My new novel has just been declined again! But it came with a nice and encouraging personal e-mail by the literary agent, and then I got a form reply from another agent to say their offices are not accepting any more queries at this time. The latter makes the third time I have sent a proposal to an agent rather than to a publisher, since my author friend gave me several agents’ names to try. I have now sent out my proposal to the fourth agent on that list. I hear young people being told now that they will surely be famous if only they believe in themselves! I laugh, because I cannot honestly say I always believe in myself. Rather, it is my book I believe in (and my music). I do think it’s good. But whether anyone else does is beyond my control! I wish someone would tell kids that real success does not require fame but can be found simply in being able to say you did the very best work you could.

Just when I thought our string of household repair woes had ended, the right-side garage door broke (the last time it was the left one). This time a whole new door is needed, ($) Ouch! The first company fell through, so another company is coming today to do an estimate. Meanwhile, the laundry room flooded yet again from a backed up pipe that just refuses to be cleared by anyone’s motorized snake. Oh no! The plumbing issue looks like we are going to have to tear out walls and/or floors to fix. ($$) Double Ouch!

P537054c2_0On a positive (if less serious) note, I’m getting excited that I will soon get to cook two special meals I’ve been looking forward to making. The first is Osso Buco – It’s the version I’ve made before with braised lamb shanks! This photo is from the internet, not taken by me, but mine looks just the same when I make it. The yellow stuff is creamy polenta. I only rarely get to make this meal, when I discover kindred spirits who actually love lamb. No, it doesn’t have to be “gamey” if you cook it low and slow and add a few secret ingredients to the pot, like orange zest. Melts. In. Your. Mouth.

paella2.width-876The other dish is a big, festive paella for eight people. I have been saving some saffron I was given and will order some large, head-on shrimp to make it really authentic. Sounds yucky, but many people do like to suck on the head section of the shrimp after they break it off, as they do in New Orleans with crawfish. (I know, ewww!) This, I have made a few times before, and it’s always a sure-fire hit and very fun for a large group, with the huge pan in the center of the table.

Finally, and at the risk of sounding hyperactive, since my last entry I have also written, narrated, and produced three new hour-long episodes of my music appreciation radio show (see the archived shows on the “Adventures” page on this site).  These were on the composers Borodin, Vivaldi, and the favorite music of the late Pope Benedict XVI, who was a classical music lover and pianist. Also, I composed the short theme music for another new radio show on that network, which they plan to use.  

I think that’s been enough things on my plate (food and otherwise)! Maybe I should think about, in the next two weeks, just sitting and doing nothing and having a blank Hilltop Diary next time? I hope anyway, to make the next diary entry as blank as possible!   


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