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first snow and other delights

Yesterday, we had our very first snow of the season! It didn’t stick, but it was beautiful to watch it fall. It started while I was in a space with other folks from my UU church who are interested in learning more about nature-centered pagan practices for celebrating the turns of the seasons, and I can’t think of a better group to experience the first snowfall with!

I had just come into this meeting late from an ad-hoc meeting that a new ukulele friend and I had with our wonderful new music director in which we plotted a uke & voice duet setting of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” that we might be able to share in an upcoming service. This friend had mentioned while putting chairs away after our most recent church ukulele orchestra rehearsal that she really liked doing more “strum and sing” pieces, which is not what the majority of our ukulele orchestra wants to play, and I said, “well, I like singing!” and that was that. Neither of us are trained singers (I don’t even know what part I would sing if I were in a choir – I’m kind of awkwardly in-between soprano and alto in terms of range), and I’m a wee bit nervous about singing in front of people in my church who ARE trained singers, but I do LIKE to sing, and I think I have a reasonably nice voice and I enjoy harmonizing even though I don’t really know what I’m doing, so we’ll see how it goes.

We’ve been doing this thing we call “connection time” after the services every Sunday at my church, where there are various options ranging from just coffee and chat to organized meetings of groups, and I’m really loving it. I’ve gotten to connect with so many people and groups in our congregation who I otherwise wouldn’t necessarily see or had lost contact with when we were fully online. I just feel so much more part of the community, and I hope that others are feeling that way, too. My kid is also really thriving there; she’s finally able to participate in the children’s services without 1-1 support from me, and she’s loving the kid-centered connection time afterwards because she gets to create art! I’m just so grateful for the community we’ve found there.

But that wasn’t the only lovely thing we got to do yesterday. A couple of my friends from the chamber orchestra that I participate in at the Hochstein school also play in a local community orchestra that has been putting on a series of concerts for kids called “We Write Orchestra Music” featuring two local composers as well as music from a variety of modern and classical composers of color. It was delightful! We actually got to meet the two young local composers, and one of the members of the orchestra had created beautiful artwork for the program, which also got projected on a screen behind the orchestra. It just makes me so happy that my daughter is growing up in a world where the idea that people who aren’t old white men compose classical music is just…normal. We’ve also been working on learning some duets from a book called “Music By Black Composers“, which I discovered after finding a video of Rachel Barton Pine teaching one of the pieces (the piece my kid and I just learned!) to her daughter; I bought both the sheet music and the coloring book, and we’ve been really enjoying learning more about the featured composers together.

Sock in progress with concert program

During church and the concert, I made some good progress on my grey DRK Everyday sock. It’s always a relief to me once I reach the point where I can start doing the gusset increases, because at that point, I can basically knit the rest of the sock on autopilot. I get nervous that I’m going to inadvertently knit past the increase point when I knit during meetings and such, so I’ve gotten in the habit of putting one of my previous socks in my little travel knitting bag for me to compare against. It would probably be smarter if I just, you know, measured the sock and used the measurement. Oh well! In any case, I am now past the point where I need to be paranoid about knitting too far, and the rest of the pattern lives in my brain now after knitting 6 previous pairs. (It occurs to me that once I finish this pair, I really will have a DRK Everyday sock for every day!)

One of these things is not like the other...

I’ve had a little less success with the Joy Mitts that I’m knitting for a friend. After ripping back and reknitting the second mitt (because I’d done the thumb increases wrong), I held it against the first mitt and realized…one of these things is not like the other.

One of these things is not like the other...

Count the rows of colorwork and you’ll see what I mean. Mitt two has the correct number of rows of dots in the blue and the magenta; the first mitt has one two few in those two colors, resulting in a mitten that is significantly shorter. So, as you can see, I’ve threaded my needle through the stitches in the last row of the blue dots so that I can rip back and reknit the first mitt. You’d think I’d be able to follow a pattern correctly the second time I’ve knit a project, but alas…nope!

Thankfully, the other project that I am working on for someone who is not me is smooth sailing so far. I cast on for the Professor Meow pullover for my daughter earlier this week, and it turns out that when you’re knitting on size 10.5 needles, things knit up very fast!

The start of Professor Meow

This is the back of the pullover, which doesn’t have any cat intarsia (and is thus QUITE boring to knit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when I just want something to keep my hands busy and that will be hard to mess up). The Knitpicks Wonderfluff is such a strange yarn – it’s very soft and, well, fluffy…but also quite drapey. It’s pleasant to knit with, though I’m not sure how well it’s going to hold up in the long term. I suppose we’ll see. I’m hoping to finish this sweater for her birthday, which is November 26th – hopefully that’s enough time!!

Anyway, all of the delightful things about yesterday were such a great counterpoint to the discombobulation I’ve been feeling, and a wonderful reminder that I really do have wonderful connections and communities both online and off, and that I’ve found most of them by just leaning in to the things that bring me joy and saying “yes”, even when I’m a little nervous.

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3 thoughts on “first snow and other delights”

  1. Sounds like you might be a mezzo, so a first alto or second soprano would be your best fit, depending on which end of things is *more* comfortable and exactly where your break is. If neither end of the range seems like a better fit, your break point (where you have to switch from a chestier voice to head voice) can also be a guide. Ideally, you’d determine where your break is and what the “usual” range of the parts you’re looking at is, and go with the one where your break is toward the edge of that range so you have to contend with it less often than if it lands squarely in the middle of everything you’re trying to sing. Like, my range is such that I *can* sing first alto. However those parts tend to sit right around my break, so it always feels awkward, even if I have no problems hitting the notes, so up in first or second soprano land is much better for me.

    None of which is necessarily helpful if you’re singing in a mixed group that mostly only has the choice between S and A, though, and your particular instrument doesn’t line up nicely with those two options. Conversely, if you ever do find yourself in a position to take any voice lessons, that can help you figure it out and learn how to safely stretch the range in one direction (or both) so you feel more comfortable leaning one way or the other.

    So that got a bit rambly with advice you didn’t actually ask for…

    Regardless, I’m happy you’re singing, because singing is great for many reasons, and I always hate when people are too intimidated to do it because they think they’re not “good enough” or whatever. So the upshot really is just: yay!

    1. Ha, I don’t mind learning more about singing from you! I suspect, if I’m understanding what the “break” is, that I’m more of a high alto than a low soprano, but I also notice that a lot of the folks I know who sing alto also have…I don’t know how to describe it but like, “darker/richer” voices than mine? Mine sounds kind of childish :)

      1. :) Could just be a matter of needing more support. As Kristen Chenowith once sang on… I think it was Ellen, you need to sing “from your hooha.” Also helps not to be afraid or tentative about what might come out — which is easier said than done when one is feeling afraid or tentative!

        I’m not gonna tell you you *need* to go out and get into serious voice lessons or anything, buuuuut if singing is potentially something you want to do more of, even taking just a few lessons, just to get the breathing down (the notion of taking breathing lessons as an adult sounds vaguely ridiculous, I know…) can make a world of difference. Or maybe there might even be youtube videos or something. I may also just be projecting slightly, because I haven’t been in a position to take voice lessons in forever, and I’ve been really missing them lately.

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