Or, Sweater Weather 2022, since I’ve probably used that as a blog title before.
Loving this weather, I must say. It’s going to be turtlenecks and pullovers for a while. Boy, am I glad I got that comforter on the bed, I’ve needed it. Heat has been on, but intermittently.
Looking back through my last few posts, I realize that I referenced “the Ruddigore gig”, but didn’t actually cover it here. Some background: there’s an annual Gilbert & Sullivan festival every August in the north of England. I’ve been to it several times over the last twenty years, always to work with Savoynet Performing Group, an amateur all-countries group that formed out of the G&S internet interest group Savoynet. SPG does a show every year – it’s cast months earlier (remotely), rehearsed on-site for about a week and goes up for just one performance. It’s high-pressure, terrifying and incredibly fun. (No, we don’t get paid for it, it’s amateur. Travel and lodging and stuff are all on us, which makes it a big commitment – you need to want to do this.) Many many of us have done it for years and year, and we’re a little family now – mostly Brits and Americans, with a large percentage of expat Brits who live in Belgium or the Netherland, and a small scattering of Canadians, Australians and representatives from other countries.
My first show there (20 years ago), I improbably got cast in a large role in “Utopia, Ltd.”, and that luck didn’t hold for following shows, but I did chorus and rehearsal piano and little roles. My eye was on the real prize, to conduct. And I finally got that chance in 2012, with “The Sorcerer”. I’ve conducted two shows since then: “Pirates” in 2015 and “Patience” in 2018. “Patience” won that year’s festival, and I won an award as well. (yay!) You can see various videos from these shows here.
Anyhoo, I found out on vacation, on my way back to Martha’s Vineyard from Nantucket, that I’d been selected as next summer’s conductor. The show is Ruddigore, a title which most people have never heard of, but which tends to be a favorite among G&S folks. It’s definitely my favorite, largely because I imprinted on it – it’s the first full-length G&S I did (in college), but also because it’s hilarious and the music is wonderful. The act 1 finale madrigal makes me cry with its heart and beauty.
So I was excited about that anyway, and started to make plans to go to Harrogate next summer, but then they threw in an exciting twist a few weeks later, when my dad was visiting – problems with booking the Harrogate venues caused the festival to move back to Buxton, which is where the festival had started. So the show is now a week earlier, in a different town. So I’ve been to Buxton five times, and Harrogate twice, and I like Harrogate just fine, but I love Buxton. It’s adorable, the performance space is better (the Buxton Opera House is the perfect size, lovely acoustically, and the orchestra pit setup helps the conductor, rather than being a problem to overcome), and it’s easier to get to from Manchester Airport.
So, anyway, that’s the hot fudge on the sundae of wonderfulness that this is gonna be, and I’m very very happy about it.
In other performance news, my orchestra concert is this weekend. Often, I’m not excited by the repertoire, but this program is such a great mix of warhorses and interesting new pieces I have a little solo in the Barber of Seville Overture, and featured moments here and there, and am always having a good time. But I’ve already told the horns not to count on me for the 2023 half of the season – I’ll be prepping for Ruddigore, and I may also have a show this spring – which would cast in early December, which means I have to hit the ground running with prep for that if I get it. So I’ll be busy busy – but a good busy.
Five months since ‘the thing’. Part of the grieving and processing has been realizing that it’s good and healthy to be excited and happy about the good stuff in my life, which doesn’t really have anything to do with C’s passing. The work on my new projects will be a welcome relief from the otherwise-constant sadness and uncertainty and dealing with the estate and all that.
Sure as toast falls butter-side-down, I suspect that over the next few weeks, the spring gig may fall into my lap and the will may come out of probate, giving me (finally) my executor powers, which means I can move forward with the estate, which means I’ll be (a) executing the will, getting control of bank accounts and moving home ownership, (b) prepping two shows and (c) dealing with the holidays and all that. Plus, you know, work and life and health and all that. I have to remind myself, I’ve been handling it all so far, most of this is good stuff and will be not-awful, but it will be a lot. I also have to keep reminding myself that people are happy to help when I need it. I’m not used to asking for that, but I know I can.
Yeah, the home. Now that it’s not gross and sticky-hot, it’s been nice to move forward on some of the projects. Dad fixed my bed, as I said, and also helped me move around various small tables and pedestals in the living room and dining room, which now can be set up properly. There’s a whole bookcase in the living room that I want to fill with sheet music, but it’s now getting close enough to Christmas that I’m going to have to move it out of the way for the tree, so might as well wait on that.
I am still having the repeated realizations that this is my dining room table and my china closet and no one’s going to fix the ice maker problem but me and so on and so on. Yes, this has been my home for longer than any other home I’ve had, but we had a definite division of labor and pretty much anything to do with how the physical space works, or furniture or appliances was C’s responsibility (and, to be fair, delight). Well, it’s mine now, and I’m lucky in that everything is really in very good shape and while there’s a list of issues, none of them (at the moment) are urgent. Yes, I’m annoyed that we have no under-the-counter lighting at the window end of the kitchen, and I know there’s a reason for that, but am still not sure what it is… but know that that can be addressed somehow. Yes, I have cabinets and shelves of kitchen gadgets I don’t know how to use, but I have time, the manuals and the internet. (Also, I think I am going to take a basic skills cooking class. That’s going to help. I’m keeping myself fed just fine, but would like to be doing that task a little better.)
Health stuff… the problems with my knees during my vacation got me scared, and I’d already gotten a recommendation from my GP to go to a sports doctor, so I did that last week. Unusually, after she watched me walk and move and heard my tales of knee untrustworthiness and specific leg pain, she thinks it’s actually a back problem. So I’ve been for an MRI now and had a nerve test and have a prescription for physical therapy that I need to follow up on. The nerve doctor has advised me to move more – said, after COVID, she’s seen a lot of problems from people not moving enough – and since some of what’s going on with me is a mild version of what I saw C go through over the last year or so, I am really cognizant of that problem. So physical therapy to improve my core, more biking and power-walking (although I’m going to stay off the ice for a while, I think) and, god forbid, maybe the gym… although C has left behind a weight bench and quite a few hand weights, so maybe I don’t need an actual gym.
Also, I’m going through a cold. Unusual only in that I haven’t had one in a long time, probably due to masking and COVID isolation. So maybe I need to mask more in public. (many other people seem to be getting the same cold, so it’s going around)
Entertainment! Dad and I finished “Reacher” while he was here, and he recommended “The Lincoln Lawyer”. (he’s a big Michael Connelly fan and told me how that series related to “Bosch”). I’m enjoying that so far, and love seeing Becki Newton again, who’s been sort of missing in action since “Ugly Betty”. But I’ve clearly been reading too much M/M romance cop thrillers, because every time the Lincoln Lawyer has a scene with his antagonist/buddy, the black detective, I see unresolved sexual tension that probably isn’t really there.
Continue to work my way through Drag Race. I love it, but what makes good TV for them is often annoying for me. I just finished Season 11 and wanted to throw both Silky Nutmeg Ganache and Miss Vanjie out a window. If either of them were loudly doing their thing at another table at a restaurant, I’d pay my bill and leave. (I love the queen who won Season 11, though, she’s so interesting.) Oo, though, various queens seem to be suddenly popping up with one-night-only appearances in NYC, and I’m going to see Alaska’s “Red 4 Filth” tour on Nov 4. Alaska is wonderful – my brother had recommended the “Race Chaser” podcast she does with Willam, and that’s a regular on my phone now. And there’s another drag show, “Night of the Living Drag”, with some RPDR queens coming the night before Halloween, which maybe I’ll try to see, but it’s in Brooklyn, ugh.
and travel! I’ll be visiting Dad and Sam over Veteran’s Day weekend, and going to Rochester to spend Thanksgiving as I frequently did in my bachelor days. Those will be lovely. All these little trips I’ve taken over the last few months have been so delightful and therapeutic, I think I need to keep that sort of thing up. Also, my trip to Cape Cod was clearly a success, as I keep flashing back to it and wanting to do the whole thing over again. I have to keep reminding myself if I’ve not, you know, in rehearsal 4 nights a week, there’s no reason I can’t just go spend weekends hither and yon, in any of these East Coast cities I love, in various Stars Hollows in upstate NY/Connecticut/MA/VT etc, or even hop a plan to Key West. Time to make a list, I think.
Enjoy your sweaters!