Lindsay Harris Friel

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I’ll be honest. The practicing for 30 minutes a day or 3.5 hours per week thing is not 100% accurate. We were out of town for a bit. Since “30 minutes a day or 3.5 hrs/week” and “16 units of information” does not equal predictable results, I’m finding it harder to explain what the results are. It feels like problem solved or puzzle cracking, but it barely feels like music. 

Anyway, here’s Wonderwall. Plenty of mistakes. You can also hear Sassy playing in the background. 

A result I can guarantee with 100% accuracy is that no matter how well you can play a piece, as soon as the camera is on, you will make mistakes. 

The good news is that I can now move on to learning about sharps & flats, which means the work will sound less boring. Yay for leveling up! 

EDITED TO ADD: this is the next piece I have to work on, which I believe is standard issue for every high school marching band in America. 

All I can think of is the episode of Strangers With Candy when Gerri is in the school jazz band, as a scat singer.

EDITED TO ADD AGAIN: I got Half Time Band and Greensleeves in a pen. Not captured, but in a pen. I think another day of muscle memory practice will do it. 

You're amazing.
Were your ears burning? I keep thinking of you while I practice Greensleeves.
"Hen- Ry- did not write this so-o-ong, he just liked to take cred-it... Hen-Ry was an old horn do-o-og..."
(googles "rhyming dictionary")
(search search search)
"and he bought this to get Annie bed-ed."

You probably know the history of Greensleeves better than I do..
Naah, I just know it's not "What Child Is This?"

Also, I keep trying to listen to Jarnsaxa Season 2 and the sound effects + the Nazis in the first episode actually make me anxious. So ... um, good job for affecting the audience? I have wanted to tell you that for a while.
Oh, thank you! I'll tell Vince. He had a really hard time with that airplane, and complained about it mightily.

Wikipedia says that Greensleeves is too young to be a Tudor era song.
To be honest: we all had a hard time with it. I was in the room for rehearsal, and there was a lot of very uncomfortable giggling. Just a lot of tension in general.
BTW: if that one makes you anxious, skip it and go on to the rest. The only thing you need to know is that the knife is a Chekov’s gun and metal holds memories.
163 days! Wow! You're amazing.
Frederick, you're a poet.
Isn’t that a lovely book?

I practiced for an hour & seven minutes today, according to my stopwatch. 

Worked on G pentascales and stuff that seemed boring and pedantic, then moved over to this innocent-seeming li’l ditty. 

After about 40 minutes or so or practicing, my left hand can do the left hand part perfectly, my right hand can do the right hand part perfectly, but as soon as I start the metronome and try to sync up the bass clef and the treble clef, a giant concrete wall forms between all the right-hand-left-hand stuff in my brain, and I’m sitting there paralyzed, holding down two notes, while the metronome goes tick... tick... tick...

It’s not fear. It’s just like my brain can’t do it. It’s pat your head & rub your tummy stuff.  I managed to pound my way through it, and measures 3-4 and 7-8 are passable, but 1-2 and 5-6 have given me a headache and a hand ache. I even went back and did the G pentascale exercises to try and make it easier. 

At 67 minutes, I made a mistake that sounded familiar, and started picking it out, or something similar. 

After this, it’s Turkey In The Straw, a theme by Mozart in G major (your guess is as good as mine), and then...SHARPS & FLATS! Finally I can get some variety in here. 

I just realized that as of today, this has been a five month experiment. 

I can play that! I started reading the music in your post and realized, hey...I know that! I love that one! I've had it memorized for so long that I oddly didn't recognize at first what that was.

I have a piano in my kitchen (it was my mom's childhood piano, then my brother and I grew up playing it, and now I have it) and that's one of my warm-up tunes or just something when I don't know what else to do. (I'm not saying I'm GOOD at any of it, either)

I know we don't know each other but I believe that you *will* get your hands to coordinate. It will happen. I remember the exact moment it happened for me very clearly (a different tune, a Mozart something or other), though it was a million years ago, when I was a kid. I remember the day when HOLY COW MY LEFT HAND IS DOING SOMETHING *AND* MY RIGHT HAND IS DOING SOMETHING, DIFFERENT THINGS, AT THE SAME TIME OMG. Something will just click and it'll happen.

Or, it won't. :-) But I think it will.
Rachael 2/1edited
I concur. It takes time to rewire the brain, but it does eventually happen.
Oh, the rewiring! How good it feels to work around or through those barriers!
It does feel good. It makes all the work worth it.
Thank you. This is the kind of encouragement I needed.

This whole learning to play piano thing isn’t “I want to be David Bowie” or even “I want people to think I’m a great musician.” It’s about effort over time, having an activity that isn’t about words, and having something where I can surprise myself. I love solving the puzzle. As frustrating as it is, I love being at the midpoint with a piece of music where I have it kind of figured out, but not really, and I can find a way to solve it.

Plus, I love the concept of people making their own fun, playing music is a huge part of that, and I want in on that. Even if it’s just pounding out a sloppy arrangement of Bad Romance or King Of The Road, I want to be able to do that.

I just realized that it’s important to me to be able to play LGBT music. Huh. Okay.
You're welcome.

And I totally understand. I'm doing the same thing right now, with Irish flute. Well. Trying. Trying to learn the flute just so I can figure it out and have fun playing music, especially with other people. I've also been re-teaching myself piano over the past few years.
You’re so lucky to have that family piano.

My great grandmother’s piano was dismantled and given to an artist this past summer. It made me sad, but it made me buy a keyboard and a lesson book.
I do feel very lucky to have the piano. It's not a fancy one--a Betsy Ross spinet--but it's got lots of meaning and memory. My grandmother paid for that thing little by little till it was all paid off, so her daughter could have a piano.

I have pictures somewhere of myself as a toddler, standing up on tiptoe to reach the keys. And of myself at probably 8, sitting at the piano looking very, like...befuddled or something. Like I was all "duhWhA?" trying to figure out the piece of music in front of me.

I'm sorry about your great-grandmother's piano.

Evil eye bead and hamsa. 

I found this on the sidewalk while walking back from the post office today. Either the universe sent me a protection amulet, a warning, or someone’s earring broke in the traditional Festivus airing of grievances on the corner this past Sunday night. I left it outside on the flagstone to see if someone needed it more than I do. If it’s still there tomorrow, I’ll keep it with the seashells. 

12/27 '18 3 Comments
So? Was it still there? It's such a lovely little doodad.
Funny you should ask. I forgot to look for it. When I came home tonight, it was still there. It's in my pocket now.

The kitties were nestled, all snug in their beds, while the humans read books and scratched their furry heads. 

I hope your day was peaceful and bright. 

12/25 '18 2 Comments
I love that book.
I am loving it, but not unconditionally. An aspect of the book that I truly do love is there huge wide margins where I can write notes.
which reminds me, I have books to return to you.

EDITED TO ADD: FTS. I’m opening the wine. I didn’t hit the button on the timer hard enough, the outside of the gingerbread was burnt, the inside of the gingerbread was cooked properly but tasted like Allspice Barf. If I can’t pay attention well enough to follow a recipe and properly use a kitchen timer, then it’s time to stop working and decide that this is it. 


I made two batches of gingerbread (which I have not made since I was so little that I needed to stand on my grandmother’s step stool to reach the mixer). 
Batch #1 is intended to make shaped or cut cookies (persons of gingerbread origin). 
Batch #2 is intended to be bars, baked in a baking dish. 

Batch # 1 called for 3.5 cups of flour. The dough was extremely thick, almost like bread dough. It’s chilling in the fridge. 
Batch # 2 called for 1.75 cups of flour. It also called for 1/2 cup of boiling water. Prior to adding the water, it had a cookie dough or cake dough like consistency. After adding the water, it became more like a soup. 

The bag of flour was a 32 ounce bag. This tells me that once I added the 3.5 cups of flour in Batch # 1, there should have been only 4 ounces of flour left in the bag.  However, there was an entire 8 ounces left over after adding all ingredients for both recipes. 

Yet I remember adding at least .75 cups of flour to Batch #2, because I remember looking at the 3/4 marker on the side of the cup. It is possible that I forgot to fill the measuring cup twice instead of once.  

I added a tiny bit more flour to Batch # 2, and it’s baking in the oven now. 

Here’s what I don’t understand:
-Did I screw up one recipe, or both? 
-Is there some magical property to King Arthur All Purpose Unbleached flour that causes a 32 ounce bag to yield 5 and a half cups (44 ounces)? 
-Is this a Hannukah miracle? 
-should I have added the cup of flour to Batch # 2? 
-What is gingerbread dough really supposed to look like before baking? Should there be a big difference between the baking sheet vs. baking pan varieties? 
-should I get a camera installed in my kitchen if I’m going to continue baking? 
-why do the holidays have to be a nonstop parade of dishwashing? 
-what time is wine o’clock?

12/22 '18 10 Comments
In my limited experience gingerbread dough is a freaking impossible nightmare regardless. Both times I’ve tried, different recipes, I’ve wound up with an almost-impossible-to-work lump that was nonetheless sticky enough to be problematic, even when I put all my weight onto the flour-dusted trilobite mold.
Paul Lord 12/22 '18
This is really interesting, because I’m using 2 different recipes and they’re vastly different. One called for many different spices, vanilla, and chilling the dough overnight. The other called for a 1/2 cup of boiling water as a final step, apparently to keep the molasses from being too stiff. I didn’t find the reason in the printed recipe, I learned it by calling a neighbor to ask if the batter was supposed to look like soup.
I don’t mind complex recipes, if they explain the reasons behind the chemistry in the recipe.

I’ll let you know how the stiffer batch of dough works out. I suspect it may be similar to what you described.

Thank you for making me feel like less of an idiot.
I want to try again, because TRILOBITE MOLDS. But I'm wary. I will also keep you posted.
Paul Lord 12/22 '18
I vote for trilobite molds. Pics or I don’t believe it.
Pics to follow when we return home. Just landed in NJ for the week.
Paul Lord 12/23 '18
Ooh! Where in NJ?
Paul Lord 12/24 '18
Wheee! I went to school in Montclair and my grandparents lived in Bloomfield. Woooot!
Paul Lord 12/29 '18edited
As promised, glazed gingerbread trilobites, from a couple years ago.
Paul Lord 12/29 '18

I’m cutting down on my screen time, but this is a worthwhile exception. 

John Leguizamo is insane and hilarious, the show is rooted in heartfelt familial relationships, and includes a viable bibliography and a lot of dancing. 100% worth your time. It’s not just about history, it’s more about integrity. 

11/19 '18 3 Comments
we watched that the other day! It was awesome.
Rabbit 11/20 '18
Yaaas. I also watched it the other day. Second the recommendation. So worth it!
Ursula Sadiq 11/20 '18
I didn’t like how he made Montezuma gay, but I can see that somebody wanted him to do his drag character. So I’ll forgive it.

A rare moment: Mahoney is tolerating Sassafrass’ advances.

Mahoney is well aware that when Sass says, “please be my friend,” it inevitably turns into a game of “chomp your neck,” so this moment of cuteness didn’t last long. 

Last night I dreamt that Chris Herdt and I were attending a black-tie gala fundraiser at the building that keeps showing up in my dreams. It’s a combination shopping mall, hospital, and transportation hub, and very easy to get lost in. Chris was totally prepared for this, he had his tux all ready to go, of course. I wasn’t. I walked into some department store, handed them my wallet and said, “I’m going to this gala fundraiser, it’s black tie, I have nothing, make me look appropriate for this.” 

I ended up in a black or navy sleeveless sheath dress with a chiffon cape and my hair was all Sophia Loren, so I looked good and I trusted these people. The shoes were light blue faux crocodile stilettos. They said, “Okay, we’re going to do your makeup, trust us, this is the style that everyone at the party will be wearing.” I said okay. I liked the shoes, so what could go wrong? 

The right half of my face was covered in glitter, with a fin of pink and orange wired ribbon flames in a line from my forehead to my chin. The left half was made up like Peter Criss from Kiss. It was as if Peter Criss’ cat face were exploding into flames. They said it was perfect for a black tie gala fundraiser because it was a tribute to the California wildfires. 

Damn if there weren’t other people at the party with glitter and ribbon flames glued to their faces. 

Edited to add: still sick. It's 100% fatigue, feels like a fever. I managed to shower, dress, practice piano for half an hour and eat dinner. I'm hoping that going to bed early will solve things. Or at least provide interesting dreams. 

11/11 '18 7 Comments
Wow. I want a photo of your dreamself.
Anne Mollo 11/11 '18
I think I have to try to draw this. I also think that all dreams are collages. Most of mine are, anyway.
The face makeup sounds like something out of The Hunger Games!
Anne Mollo 11/11 '18
You just inspired me to look up "who created The Hunger Games makeup?" and it's Ve Neill. Wow, what a treasure trove of crazy ideas..
So basically, some people dream in color. You dream in Ve Neill.
Anne Mollo 11/12 '18
Sorry to hear you are still sick. You are not alone in the fatigue-y fever-y feeling thing. I slept all day, barely could get dressed and eat, and then getting back into pajamas later required actual help. Maybe there is a case of the creeping crud going around. I hope it's not your flu shot, still. Either way, feel better soon.
Karen 11/13 '18edited
Thank you. It seems to be stepping back in the fatigue part, but the sneezing part increased.

This article came across my radar yesterday and I found it fascinating. 

Illicit Love Letters: Albert Camus and Maria Casares

I know next to nothing about Camus, but the idea of this love affair cropping up at the end of WWII, ending abruptly, then continuing for decades, almost entirely by post, has me riveted. It makes me wonder if they were really in love with each other, or more in love with the act of writing and reading? Would it have been as exciting if it weren't a secret? 

The problem is that the book hasn't been translated into any languages other than French yet. I don't speak or read French. 

There's a play that's very similar to this story, called Dear Elizabeth, about the correspondence between the poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Unfortunately, it's written by Sarah Ruhl, who I dislike. 

The Camus & Casares story interests me more. It has Europe, war, absurdism, Camus' suicidal wife, the train ticket in his pocket the day he died. And I can't read it, damnit. 

11/8 '18 5 Comments
thanks for the pointer to it though. that sounds like just the thing I was looking for to practice my french reading skills on.
CM Adams 11/8 '18
want me to fill you in on how it goes?
CM Adams 11/8 '18
Please. How fluent are you?
I tried taking French on Duolingo a few years ago and all it made me was angry.
I would embarrass myself trying to hold a conversation in French, but I still read it pretty well. The decade of Latin helps.
CM Adams 11/9 '18
And by "pretty well", I mean "better than one would expect based on how long it's been since I used or studied it".

I'd need to have a dictionary on hand.
CM Adams 11/9 '18edited

My little homemade Halloween display. 

If you can’t zoom in enough to read the product labels or book jackets, let me know and I’ll explain. There are little star lights hanging above, but they’re not evident in full sunlight. 

The challenge was to spend no money, only use objects and materials I had around the house, and not make anything I couldn’t recycle or throw away. 

You know what drives me nuts? You can buy Halloween decorations that look like spell supply ingredient bottles and jars, and they’re lovely, but I haven’t found a single one that was functional. In every case, the lid, cap or stopper was molded to the object. I hate that. If I spend money on a fancy jar with a fancy label that says “Banshee’s Toenails” or something, you’re damn right I want to be able to open the lid and serve some damn Bugles out of it. 


I will see Jill Knapp’s Perfect Snack, and I will attempt to raise it.

Popcorn + sweetened condensed milk. 

There is a temperature issue here. We made Jiffy Pop, which is Basic Movie Night Popcorn at its corninest(Emphasis on corn, rather than butter and/or salt, unlike PopSecret, which is butter and salt with a hint of corn additive. YUM). I think if the popcorn is freshly warm, with the sweetened condensed milk at room temperature, then this snack would be puuuurrrrrrrr-fect. 

But this snack is perfect for the sticky sweet substance on a spoon plus savory crunchy goodness in a bowl puttin in yer face method. 

10/30 '18 7 Comments
RE: Single purpose spell components - Yeah. I'm very much with you there. I've become a bit of a minimalist for obvious reasons, and that just makes me twitchy to read - let alone if I was actually shopping for such things.
Now imagine me picking these up at Target/ A.C. Moore/Michael’s /Rite Aid/ Whatever.
“Shit! ... Shit! ... Shit!...
Shit! ...”
(Chubby ladies in kitten sweatshirts raise their eyebrows)
Lindsay Harris Friel 10/30 '18edited
You made a lovely scene
Thomas Boutell 10/31 '18
The neighbors said that the cats have been neatly bookending the display, but they didn't get a photo. I'm so bummed.
I love everything about this!

I just can't get enough.
Lindsay Harris Friel 10/31 '18edited
Dammit, now I just want popcorn. And I have some. It's the salt-and-butter-with-a-hint-of-popcorn kind, but what the hell.

I'm still a fan of your tip to put popcorn in tomato soup. Mmmmmmhh yeah.
Karen 11/1 '18

Yesterday I got really bored with the unit I was working on in my piano lesson book (pounding my left paw into a C-E-G chord has its intellectual limits) so I skipped ahead and started picking at Simple Gifts. This song was drilled into us at Quaker School (cultural appropriation: Quakers stealing from the Shakers?), and it was the processional at my wedding. so it was a more interesting way to practice chords. 

I started making mistakes, which I realized was the same mistake, and then I realized it wasn't a mistake. I remembered picking out a more complex version on the piano in high school, to learn the soprano part for choir. So I let that memory take the wheel for a bit, realizing that I can play this on eighth notes rather than quarters. I can play more of the song than the exercise called for on paper. 

Once my left hand gets the memo and stops playing chords like a hoof, everything will be fine. 

10/14 '18 9 Comments
To hoof, hoof shall be our delight....
Thomas Boutell 10/15 '18
...till by thudding, thudding, we pound round right.
For your viewing pleasure, the chipmunks, long before they were teens:
Anne Mollo 10/15 '18
That's so stinkin' adorable.
It's a shame those kids have no stage presence, no sense of comic timing, or any joy in their lives. (Seriously-- that was awesome.)
The regular beatings totally worked.
Anne Mollo 10/17 '18
“And what do we do when the audience laughs? WE HOLD FOR LAUGHTER!”
I am Dead of the funny
Thomas Boutell 10/19 '18