Happy Halloween

Six years ago today, Little Black Sam the Cat popped out of a leaf pile in Ethel's front yard, ran over to me and jumped up into my arms. It's been a treat ever since...

"I think I'll dress up as a 
very, very, very hairy cat this year...
oh wait."

"Is it over yet?
What's all this about black cats?"


Yep, there are strings attached (except for one...)

I knew exactly how much time it would take to get ready, pack up the Celtic harp and drive to my Saturday event. So that morning, I leisurely sipped a cup of tea, petted Harry the Cat, slipped out into the backyard to see if the last of the Roma tomatoes were ripe yet (hurry up, tomatoes!), petted Harry some more, called my Mom (with Harry on my lap), looked through my last issue of The Atlantic (seriously, who has time to read all this every month?), petted Harry once more.

Then I got dressed in a black harp dress, put on cute harp shoes, headed downstairs to get the harp ready to go and - No! A broken string!

I hadn't planned for this. But nothing I haven't dealt with before. I removed the broken string, which was a big, overwound nylon bass string and came apart by the sounding board with a "zzzZZZZZZzzzz" and ended up in a long strand of curly nylon Harry found irresistible.

The harpist's unorthodox tool kit.
And Harry, licking his lips.

When I went to put in the new string, something was blocking the hole. I couldn't poke it through with the new string end, so I dug out the seam ripper from my sewing machine cabinet (yes, I have one) and pushed the end through the hole out popped a little chunk of the old string. That's when I found out the new string's overwound part had been attached with a big blob of glue or melted nylon and wouldn't fit through the hole even though it had been cleared.

Panic. I had extra overwound strings, but none were long enough. (Harp builders and the squeamish - I recommend that you stop reading right here...) So I ran to the kitchen and got a very pointy serrated knife and tried to widen the string hole a little bit. Still no luck. More panic. So I dug around in my tool box (yes, I have one of those, too) and found a pair of grippy plier thingeys that also cut wire that my brother gave me a long time ago. I grabbed the end of the new string and yanked and yanked and yanked and swore and yanked and swore some more...the string still wouldn't pass through the hole.

Fine. I decided to give up and take the concert harp to the event, though it would be a tight fit in the location and wouldn't sound very Irish for the Irish music I would be playing...BUT THAT HAD A BROKEN STRING, TOO!!! What the heck happened in the night at Amy's house?

I had to get the Celtic harp string changed - the concert harp's gut strings take forever to settle in and I couldn't be tuning every 45 seconds through the event. So with a rush of adrenaline and one more heroic yank (and a really creative swear word), the string came through the hole. Victory! I wound it around the pin, tightened it up, brought it up to a little above pitch, stuffed the harp into its case and roared off to my gig.

Note to self on future gig days: check the harp first before drinking tea, freezing toes in the garden, calling Mom, petting Harry...


There was an epic battle...

...for the warmest spot in the house this week: my lap. Fall is finally here and the kitties haven't grown in their winter coats yet.

Sam The Cat won.
He may be small, but he fights dirty.

As for the losers in this particular battle, they're fine. I broke down and turned on the heat for the first time since April. Waking up to a house that's 58 degrees is even too cold for warm-blooded me.


Getting ready for Wedding Season 2012

All set up and ready for the brides.

And there were lots of them today at the Wedding Expo at the Verizon Wireless Expo. Mom, my trusty roadie / wedding show helper handed out my brochures, chatted with the brides, generally charmed everyone while I played and played and played and played. And played some more. 

Canon in D is still a top request...

I've already booked a 2012 wedding. And guess what? It's OUTSIDE!!! The books are open for more events, so get in touch with me if you're engaged, planning a party, needing a harpist for Christmas Eve, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day...

It was hard finding something to wear that wouldn't be stifling - it was 85 degrees today - and would still cover up my basement-cleaning bruises. Thank goodness for 3/4 sleeves and jet black hose. (Which I should probably wear while running because while I was out tonight, my friend Nicole yelled out her car window when she drove by, "Hey, nice tire mark on the back of your leg!")


Okay, THIS was the last outdoor wedding of the season...

I know I posted about that last outdoor wedding of the season on September 7th.  Obviously, I was so ready for this hot, humid, interesting outdoor wedding season to be over, done with, through, finished...that I didn't even look past September in my calendar.

Well, today. Today was the last outdoor wedding of the season. And wow, did it go out with a heatwave and a gust. 85 degrees and 40-50 mph winds.

 That's why the harp is lying on the ground
before the wedding. Safer that way.

And to think, when I booked this outdoor October wedding, I was most worried about it being too cold to play outside. Ha. The sun was intense; it felt more like August than October. And the winds were so strong, I couldn't even put music on the music stand - it would have blown into the next county. So I played the prelude, processional, commitment ceremony and recessional music from memory. As I did, I held onto the harp with both knees and both elbows against the gusts.

The flower girl almost got knocked over by the wind. One of the bridesmaids caught the little girl by the shoulder just in time and then nearly tipped over herself. The bride's veil was a wild flurry of white until she gathered it up and tucked it under her arm. 

And then the couple walked down the aisle and up the hill into the banquet hall in a shower of falling, blowing leaves. Nature's send-off.

Okay, now I can say it: I'm really glad the outdoor wedding season is over. For sure this time. Of course, until next year...


The Battle in the Basement: Amy victorious

I cleaned the basement.
The basement fought back.
But I won. Oh, I won.

My house was built in 1919 and has a crumbly, dusty, "rustic" limestone basement. About all it's good for is holding the chest freezer, the cat litter boxes, the bins of Christmas decorations and about 15 years worth of accumulated junk and dust and debris.

For some reason, Saturday felt like the right time to tackle the project. When the basement cleaning muse visits, don't say no. That's my advice. 

I was hauling an old, wobbly, rusty, heavy metal shelf up the stairs and out to the curb when the shelf tipped and came crashing down on my arm, knocking me backward and over a pile of old paint cans. "Ouch! Oh, darn!" I said. (ahem) You should see the bruise on the back of my knee, but it's kinda hard to take a picture of...

Even in my dazed and painful state, I managed to get 9 huge garbage bags of trash to the curb, along with a bunch of old mops (gross), some broken windows (I saved them why?) and two retired vacuums (when you have a cat as hairy as Harry, your vacuums work overtime). I also stuffed my truck with 6 bags of items to be donated to the thrift store.

Amy victorious indeed.