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So I was writing out this fairly sizable email to my father, (I never have time to be on the phone lately, so I wanted to catch him up on life in general) and I thought, "hey, self, you could also drop parts of this on your journal for personal reference and actually being informative to friends." So I am. :)

I've been doing okay, though amount of busy-ness in my life is aggravating. I'm getting to a point where I need to schedule things like grocery shopping and doing the laundry. (Seriously, we hadn't been shopping in I don't know how long, so we had to schedule it, and it took like two hours this past week because of how much stuff we needed.) This gets frustrating, but at least this week is a bit less packed.

It's been busy with good things, though. The band I'm in is going strong working on our next album, and I've been doing more composition for that than I've gotten a chance to do in a good long while. Our weekly rehearsals are now basically half composition and half playing, which I'm enjoying, at least when I can get into a groove on composing. The a capella group I'm in is preparing for upcoming concerts, next one is at PiCon in Enfield, CT in about six weeks. (I always enjoy PiCon when I go - it's a fairly small con, and pretty low stress. At Dragon*Con and Arisia I always feel like there's pressure to see everything that can be seen and fit everything in and hang out with everyone I know who's there, which is practically an impossibility. At PiCon, I feel like I can actually chill in the filk room and the game room. It's a nice thing.)

A few of us also this past weekend did a short concert set on Sunday at another convention, Concertino, in the area. It went pretty well, and we got to meet (and revisit) a bunch of people, and hear many nifty concerts. I also bought about a half dozen CDs that I will have to stick into the rotation. The only real regret I had (which [personal profile] genarti shared), was that we didn't feel like we could stay until as late at night as would be necessary to join any of the open filk singing bits. They were pretty consistently the absolute end of programming for the day, and having left more than an hour before open filk started on Saturday, we still didn't get home until after 10 PM. Ah well. We did take advantage of the long drive home to sing duets together... because we are dorks. :P

I've also started taking voice lessons, which in the past I've often thought about doing. We discussed it in our a capella group and thought it might be beneficial for the group as a whole, so I think most or all of us will be making efforts to get going on that front. It's been interesting so far. There's a lot I don't know about singing, even though I have a thorough music background, so I'm picking up a lot on more of the mechanics of singing, and what to focus on, and how to most effectively produce sound in the extremes of my vocal range.

I think it'll be really useful and productive as a long term, though at the moment I'm struggling with remembering all the areas I'm supposed to focus on simultaneously.

Things I am supposed to be simultaneously working on:
1) relax everything
2) look straight ahead at a fixed point so as to make sure not to adjust stance or posture based on pitch
3) keep the back of the throat open
4) breathe through the nose
5) on low notes try to resonate through the chest
6) on higher notes keep the throat relaxed and open the mouth/tip the corners up
7) form vowels on high notes with the throat (but not by constricting too much or being tense!) rather than the mouth (and accept the fact that they won't be precise)
8) always keep resonance open in the head, rather than thinking about singing by expelling sound
9) use breath to form a phrase (and remember to breathe often enough, but not too much)
10) keep feet solid/stance steady

Basically after the first five thoughts, I notice I'm staring at the ceiling and breathing through my mouth again, then I try to mentally re-direct and drop three other mental balls I was juggling. It's HARD! Oh, and additionally, I'm supposed to not be a perfectionist and allow there to be variance in my performance. Because vocals are not like flute, where I have been trained to shoot for perfection and accuracy every time. >_<

Also, some of the exercises we do are silly enough (both silly sounding and silly looking) that I don't think I've made it through more than twenty minutes of any given lesson without laughing. I do think it's already helping, though, and hopefully I'll start internalizing some of it so that I don't have to consciously think about every single bit of it.

Work is interesting... we're trying to hire a developer, and it's the first time I've really taken lead on hiring someone. I am uh. Not so much enjoying that. I really hate being responsible for things I don't know how to do, and constantly have to ask for help on. On the positive side, though, one of the other projects I've been wanting to do, but have been annoyingly stalled on (folks at our global office were just not giving me any information despite repeated requests, but which I've finally gotten by asking different people on the team) is now beginning to get rolling.

This year we ([personal profile] genarti, [personal profile] thewickedlady and I) signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) so we get a produce box weekly, of late. Right now we have a ton of greens like a vegetable waterfall in our fridge. What I keep forgetting, unfortunately, is how unpleasant it is to do a lot of cooking when it's 80+ degrees! I'm hoping with July 4th (where I'm working from home that day), I'll have a bit more time to maybe use some of the veggies.

Unfortunately, there are only so many things I know of to do with beets, and I don't seem to be enjoying the red ones as much as I enjoy golden ones, so having made a large amount of beet and beet green salad, I'm now not really feeling the urge to actually *consume* enough of the stuff.

Any recommendations for tasty beet recipes would be thoroughly appreciated. :) We have *so many.* Alternately, live in the area and want some fresh beets? :P

I'm looking forward to making a kale and bean soup, though, which I think will be more enjoyable. I just wish there were a way to have CSA produce stretch into cooler weather more, when I'm more consistently interested in cooking (or being anywhere near a source of heat instead of directly in front of a fan).

I'm beginning to think, due to how little free time I seem to have lately, about just requesting a few days off work in order to stay home and just clean up my life. My room is a hideous mess, I need to throw out any number of things and donate others, I have fallen behind on a lot of the non-work projects I want to be doing... and sleep. I know other folks who are busier than I am, and I just don't even understand how that works. I constantly feel like life is a bit out of control, and that I'm behind on everything, and I find myself, on rare occasions when I have free time, just essentially wanting to do non-stress things (like play Dragon Age again) to give my brain some sort of recovery time. Except I can't really afford to, with all the stuff I'm behind on. I'm torn between "I should commit less time to recreational things" and "why on earth would I stop doing things I enjoy?"

I guess at least I don't have to worry that I'm not living life fully enough?

Really looking forward to tomorrow evening and grilling some delicious fruits and veggies... hope other US-based folks also have a happy fourth. (Okay, the rest of you can also have a happy fourth, y'know, just with most likely 100% fewer fireworks.)



( 12 documents — So I must leave my mark )
Jul. 3rd, 2012 11:38 pm (UTC)
I posted this beet salad a little while ago, but I don't know if you saw it. It might be too similar to the stuff you're making already. I love it though.

And taking a few days off to straighten up your life a bit sounds like a fabulous idea. It sounds like you have a million things going on!
Jul. 4th, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks muchly! That's actually I think significantly different and worth a try, and I'd missed it when you originally posted it. :)
Jul. 4th, 2012 01:18 am (UTC)
It was great seeing you at ConCertino.
You are not the only person who has told me that they wish there were more daytime open filking. I do plan some daytime circles at Pi-Con.

This year at ConCertino we were dealing with a) many talented people signed up for concerts, and b) long meal breaks were scheduled to allow people travel-time to get to outside restaurants. This didn't leave time for song circles during the day. I'll try to remember to mention that when we are planning ConCertino 2015.

Jul. 4th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
Yay thank you! :)
Jul. 4th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
It was lovely to see you as well!

Yeah, there were certainly many, many excellent concerts, and there wasn't a feeling of "well, that wasn't worthwhile" because all of it was. Glad to hear you're trying to keep it in mind for the future. :)
Jul. 4th, 2012 01:34 am (UTC)
Beet and cucumber gazpacho is a staple of mine. Thats beets, cucumber, cilantro, onion, lime and salt and pepper in a blender and chilled (roast the beets first).

I have a couple of tips for beets qua beets - roast them in their skins wrapped in foil and the skins will come off very easily when they are cooked. Also, for summer death heat, remember, you can roast small things like beets in a toaster oven. We eat our beets straight up roasted and then marinated in a splash of fancy balsamic. Ours is blueberry flavored.

Oh! And my very favorite beet salad is roasted beets, balsamic, fresh basil, and mandarin oranges. Beets pair beautifully with citrus.
Jul. 4th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Your favourite beet salad is remarkably similar to the one we made. :) We didn't have mandarin and instead just had regular oranges, but still awfully similar.

I will totally attempt the beet gazpacho - that sounds very interesting. Thank you!
Jul. 4th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
A few different things:

1. Oh man do I sympathize with the sentiment you expressed in this post about being busybusybusy and feeling constantly behind. Also, groceries are A Thing in our house too.

2. I hear you about the late hour of filk circles, too--it's the main reason I find it so hard to make it to them during cons. (Of course, I find it hard to make it to them outside of cons too, and I had to skip more than half of Concertino this year due to work and other obligations; see point number one. :P )

3. Not sure how helpful this feedback is, but I found borscht to be a useful thing to make with beets when I had a farmshare, because a) it's relatively fire-and-forget for the actual heated part (so you don't have to stand around a hot stove); b) it uses large numbers of beets, especially if you make a double-batch; c) it permits a great deal of variation, and some of those variations are super-tasty; and d) it freezes really, really well (as long as you're OK with adding sour cream when you eat it instead of when you freeze it), so it's an easy way to preserve some of the summer farmshare in the cooler months. Oh, and also e) you can eat it cold, so when it's too hot for hot food it's still useful. :)
Jul. 4th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
Heh, you're one of the people I was thinking of as "she's busier than I am... how is she possibly doing it??" Some weeks I feel like I ought to be checking if you're still successfully upright, because what you have to keep up with boggles my mind.

Yeah... with some cons where I'm staying at the con, it's a bit easier to do the late night stuff. Concertino, I think I'm just as happy to have done as a commuter con to avoid the extra expense, but it certainly did limit some options.

I think I will look into the borscht thing... I have enough beets still to make at least three different dishes, and something that freezes well would certainly be a good leg up. Our deliveries have been on Wednesdays, and we're not getting one this week because of the holiday, and oddly I think all of us have had the reaction "THANK HEAVENS," because it's just a bit hard to keep up. Though I did finish off all the kale by souping, so that's a start, and some of it will be grilled tonight, I suspect.
Jul. 5th, 2012 11:37 am (UTC)
I am a big borscht fan, although I make it without the meaty additives - don't skip the dill though, that's crucial.
I ate out at a restaurant the other month where they served soup made of golden and regular red beets - the red beets were boiled and cubed up all tiny and put in the bottom of the cup, and then the gold soup poured over, so when you dug around with your spoon you got swirls of red through the gold. It looked really fancy!

Also a big fan of Russian Salad variations, which is just beets, potatos, mayo, pickles + other random crap. I suspect I'm really in it for the mayo (just as I'm in to borscht for the sour cream topping. Mmmm, dairy).
Jul. 5th, 2012 03:14 pm (UTC)
Huh, that soup variation sounds super clever. I wish we'd actually gotten some golden beets - we just have a craptonne of the red ones. Soooo many beets. >_<

I am side-eyeing the Russian Salad concept, as initially, to me, it just sounds kind of odd. I do usually like things in combination with mayo and pickles, though. Partially because of the mayo, partially because NOM NOM NOM PICKLES.
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( 12 documents — So I must leave my mark )