Getting Back On That Horse

This has nothing to do with sewing. Last weekend I walked onstage for the first time in more than 6 years and performed, and boy, did it feel great! It was a one-song-wonder, as part of a larger gala to benefit our high school. I performed “No One Is Alone” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”. I didn’t realize how much I missed being onstage. I took a hiatus due to cancer and confidence issues, but once I walked out there, it felt like home. My friend Thaïs took a video on her iPad, thanks Thaïs! The video is a little overexposed (Irish skin under bright lights, go figure) but I think the audio turned out pretty well.

Keeping it Gorgeous Fabrics-oriented, I wore the Vogue 2237 Gown and Bolero by Badgley Mischka that I made 5 years ago – as an aside, YAY! It still fits!!!

The gala was a huge success, raising a lot of money for the music program and the marching band. DH and DS the Younger did a baritone saxophone duet, but I haven’t seen any videos of that yet. They did a great job.

Afterwards, DH and I went out for Scoobies at a local restaurant. It’s kind of fun the attention you get when you show up for an early dinner at the local nice restaurant in a fabulous gown and tux, respectively.

Post Performance Scoobies
Why, yes, I would love a glass of champagne!

A good time was had by all, it was fun to perform again, it was even more fun to see all the students performing – what a trove of talent!

I think I need to start singing regularly again. Next up sewing-wise, I’ll adjust the Kwik Sew pattern so I can make my cardigan from the Italian wool.

Happy sewing!

Thanksgiving Weekend PJ Sewalong – My Fabric and Patterns

I decided to go with the 11 oz. Rayon Jersey in Black. I like the feel of it and I figure I can regulate my temperature by throwing on or taking off a robe or wrap. I think I’m going to trim it with some Ice Blue jersey that has since sold out. I have the header, and it will be perfect for the trim. I think I may also make a set in Peacock Rayon Jersey with self trim, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, so I’ll start with the black.

So how about you? What fabric and patterns are you guys using?

Parting Story: Poor Mary

A few years ago, my then choir director, Ryan, who is now the number two guy at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, asked me to do a solo for Christmas called “Poor Mary”
“Poor Mary”, Ann Steeves, Soprano, and Ryan Murphy, Piano

“Poor Mary” was written by Katherine K. Davis, who is best known for “The Little Drummer Boy”. This is one of her least known works. But Renee Fleming sang it with the MoTab (thanks for that, Becky!) back in 2006 or so. Ryan, who is one of the world’s best musicians (and I’m not exaggerating when I say that), pulled together the melody line for me, and improvised the piano accompaniment.

So with that as the background, I get calls every year around this time from people who are dying to do that song and want the music. Alas, I don’t think there is a piano reduction anywhere. We just wung that mother. However, if anyone is looking for any of Katherine K. Davis’ works, she left them all to the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, MA. I’d give them a call and see if they have a copy available.

Happy singing and sewing!

Not Much Sewing…

… But I have been singing again!

I’ve been working with Bill, my vocal coach, to pull together a recital for this fall. So far I have several arias and a group of songs for the last set. Here’s where it stands so far:

Ah, Fuggi il Traditor from Don Giovanni by Mozart
Da Tempesta from Giulio Cesare by Handel
Mi Tradi Quell’alma Ingrata from Don Giovanni 
Depuis le Jour from Louise by Charpentier

The last set is American show tunes
The Saga of Jenny from Lady in the Dark by Gershwin/Weill
Summertime from Porgy and Bess by Gershwin
The Girls of Summer from The Girls of Summer by Sondheim
What More Do I Need from Saturday Night by Sondheim

I need a few more sets, but I have lots of time to pick some out and work on them. It’s good to be singing again.

Happy sewing and singing!

This Week's Color is…..

Long red!

Larry says I look like I should have a couple of stakes in my hand and go vampire huntin’. Now the debate is which to wear Thursday – blonde or long red?

On a totally different subject, last night was opening night for the high school’s production of “Titanic, the Musical” (yeah, it’s a real laugh fest). DS the Elder plays Fleet, the lookout who spots the iceberg. He has a solo, and if I may be a proud mama for a moment, he nailed it! His intonation was dead on and his acting was great. DS the younger plays a first class child passenger. He didn’t leave a dry eye in the house in the scene where he has to get in the lifeboat and leave his “dad” behind. Here are links to the pictures of each of them, taken by

DS the Elder in the crow’s nest

DS the Younger leaving his “dad”

The shirt is all done but the buttons. Yeah – I know – it’s been a week, but I’ve been flat out running kids to rehearsals and stuff. Today. Today…

Happy sewing!

Where's Waldo?

Guess what we did today? We saw Ryan and heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! What a thrill!!! But even more thrilling for me was that they invited me to rehearse with them. How fabulous a birthday present is this?
Okay – quick, can you spot the Catholic girl?

Hint: she’s the one not in a blue dress….

Happy singing!

Cottons, Classes, Cameras and a Crisis of Faith

It’s been a busy week, and I haven’t had much time to post. But just to bring you up to speed, here’s a rundown on what’s been happening.

First up, cottons, linens and shirtings are on sale at Gorgeous Fabrics! We have some great fabrics on sale for 15% off, just in time for warm weather. And I’ve been adding some spectacular silks to the mix too. Check it out and have a ball. The sale lasts through Sunday.

Tomorrow’s Saturday Seminar is all about designer seam finishes. We have a great crew taking classes, and it has helped reboot my sewing mojo. Now if only I had more time this week.

Cool Toy! Thank you to LindsayT for introducing me to the Eye-Fi Wireless memory card. It plugs into the camera and once it is set up, badabing! It automatically uploads pictures from your camera to your computer. I asked for it for Mother’s Day, and it arrived just in time. Alas, my camera takes a ScanDisk memory card, so we had to get an adapter. But last night DH got it all working. No more dealing with cables. Hooray! Here’s a picture of Hoover taken with it.

According to DH, you don’t have to be in close proximity of the computer to download. You can be one or two rooms over, or upstairs. Kewl!

Now for the not-so-fun part. Last June, the priest at my church, Father Lenny, left to become pastor of a church near Harvard University. We were without a permanent pastor for 6 months. I referred to us as The Island of Misfit Toys. We had a temp guy, Father John. He seemed nice and funny, and ultimately, he became the pastor.

Well, be careful what you wish for. Not to put too fine a point on it, the guy has turned out to be a psycho. He’s dismantling everything that Lenny put in place over his 14 years at the church, and he’s driving away many of the parishoners. Our choir director is leaving in June and he has told the parish council that we’re not going to replace him. And this guy is an angry, angry man. I could tell all sorts of tales about his atrocious behavior towards people who don’t “yes” him all the time. And he keeps telling people that he can’t wait to get rid of the people who come from other towns and just make this a “Burlington parish”. Alas, it is his type of priest that prompted me to give up Catholicism for 17 years. I’m not a holy-holy type of person, but I had found a home and community in this place, and now he’s destroying that for the entire parish. It’s sad and I’m really pretty upset about it. I’m going to start shopping for a new church this weekend. My DS the Eldest is going to be a confirmation candidate starting next year, and I don’t want him confirmed under the tutelage of this guy. It’s frickin’ depressing. Maybe I’ll go back to singing with the Anglicans.

Anyway, that’s what’s been keeping me occupied. I hope you all are having a good week. Oh! And my Marfys finally arrived. Yay!!! So I’m tracing off the muslin for the jacket and I’ll start on it this weekend.

Happy sewing!

Weekend Pictures

The video of the concert isn’t supposed to be ready for about 2 weeks, but DH and DSons took pictures at the concert.

Here’s Ryan conducting the chorus

Here’s The first song of our set – “I Can’t Sit Down”. I’m sitting next to Dick Frost, who is a wonderful baritone. I love singing with him, we always have a great time. We weren’t singing for this one. But the funny thing is that I was singing along silently with the chorus, to stay warmed up. You don’t see it in this picture, but there’s one picture where my mouth is closed while my throat is obviously working. You see that a lot with singers.

And MTV videos notwithstanding, singing is not an aesthetically pleasing endeavor if done right. Watch any good singer and you will see that when they open their mouth, they have a lot of stuff going on at the back of their throat that doesn’t photograph well. Usually when you see stills of singers, they aren’t really singing. Same with videos. You’ll see people lipsynching, and keeping their lower jaw set so they don’t get a double chin effect. Not so when someone is really singing.

Dick was up next. He sang “I Got Plenty o’ Nothing”, and nailed it.

The audience just ate it up. What fun!

After that, I sang “Summertime”. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t nervous at all. I think this was the first time in about 20 years that I didn’t have butterflies when I stood up to sing. I was even sitting there while Dick was singing, thinking, “Wow, my mouth isn’t drying out like it usually does before a performance. Whazzup with that?” I think it went really well. I love this song, and I can’t believe I never performed it in public before.

It was a truly wonderful moment. I’ve said before that the closest I ever get to a religious experience is when I sing. This was it. Allow me a little navel gazing for a moment. When I sing, I really try to interpret and internalize the text. The music is beautiful, but it’s the words that make it communicate. “Summertime” is a lullaby, and when I sing it, I immediately call to mind holding my children and rocking them to sleep or comforting them. I try to float the high notes, not blast them. It makes the music that much more lovely to me, and I hope that comes across in my singing.

Okay, enough navel gazing. The last song was “I’m On My Way”. It was a blast. I got to hit the wicked high note at the end, which is always fun. That one I did power through. Fun fun fun!

Here’s a better picture of the dress I wore. It’s Butterick 4343. I made it 5 years ago for another concert. It’s actually a little big these days – yay! It’s made from a 4 ply silk, lined with silk habotai. You can’t see it, but I did a hand-set embellished zipper with sequins and beads on both sides. It’s fabulous and comfortable!

Okay, enough about me. Here’s the parting shots from the weekend. Mother’s Day was wonderful. One of the things we did was take Hoover to a place we call “Dogtopia”. It’s a huge field in Lexington that has a cistern where dogs can swim. Hoover loves to jump into the water, so here are some action shots I took:

I cut out another knit top and am about 2/3 of the way through it. I’ll review it tomorrow.
Happy sewing!

Happy Mother's Day! 2009

I wish all of you who are mom’s a very happy Mother’s Day. We’re going to see “Star Trek” and then have a clambake on the deck with my twin, Tom and his wife. And I think I’ll make myself a quick top (still no Marfy pattern, boo hoo!) today.

The singing with Wakefield Choral Society went really well. They recorded it for TV, so DH says he’s going to get a copy. It was a little poignant, since it was the last time for the foreseeable future that I’ll sing with Ryan, WCS’ director. But I can’t be too sad, since he’s leaving Boston to become the associate director (the number two guy) at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I told him, “Hey, if any of those divas you hire pulls, well, a Diva, keep my number on speed dial. Especially during ski season.” We laughed.

So go have a great Mother’s Day and think good thoughts about the mothers you know.
Happy sewing!

And That, My Dears, is How It's Done

Photo: Robyn Beck

Many of my blogging friends have written or will write posts about the fashions our new First Lady wore yesterday. I won’t bother to add my opinion, beyond saying she looked fabulous. However, being the opinionated (ahem) lady that I am, I will give you my view on another great element of yesterday’s inaugural – the music.

I was toasty warm in my office, watching the CNN streaming video. It looked c-c-cold in D.C., and I felt bad for the crowds. But I immediately perked up when The Ultimate Diva, The Queen of Soul, Aretha billowed up to the podium like a galleon under full sail to sing “My Country Tis of Thee”. Vocally, it wasn’t her best performance. At first I thought she might be under the weather. But as she sang, it seemed more like she wasn’t suffering from a cold, but rather that she (and her pipes) had gotten cold. The opening of the song was raspy, but as she continued singing, her voice settled in more and more.

But regardless of the quality of sound she produced, that woman owned that song. From the moment she opened her mouth to the last note, she brought it, with all the confidence and gravitas that only a true Diva can bring. It’s an attitude thing. Even when she’s not on top form, Aretha puts it all out there and pours her heart into every word, every note and every nuance. Beyonce is a pretty girl with a pretty voice, but at this point, she is just a pretender to the throne. And the Queen is not going to abdicate that throne any time soon.

Oh, and I LOVED the hat.

Happy singing!

It Never Rains but It Pours

First, things first – singing! Tomorrow night is the annual Christmas concert at my church. It’s a great program of music, and the St. Malachy choir will be performing with the Bay Colony Brass (a 20 piece ensemble) and the Merrimack Valley Bell Ringers (not sure how many, at least 15). It’s a great time, and it’s free and open to the public. It starts at 7:30 – get there by 7 to get parking. I promise you’ll enjoy the show. I’ll be doing a solo: Maria Wiegenlied. It’s all taking place at St. Malachy Parish (aka “Our Lady of the Parabolas”), 99 Bedford St. Burlington

Next up, the coat is done except for the buttons. I may get too impatient and go to the local knitting store to find some fantastic buttons tomorrow. I’d like to wear it tomorrow night. What a sharp looking pattern!

Finally, the title. Some of you heard we got some wild ass weather here in the Boston area yesterday and today. I live on the North Shore, but I am far enough south and east to have missed the big ice storm. Thank you to my friends who have called and emailed to see how we’re doing. We only got rain – lots and lots of rain. Actually, for us, the worst part was Tuesday night, as the storm was starting to move in. We got a huge wind storm to start this whole mess. And on Wednesday morning, this is what we woke up to:
An 80-foot oak tree demolished our shed. Sigh… The tree guys came out. Of course, they can never come out and take down just one tree. 5 trees and a whole lot of money later, our back yard is pretty much denuded. Hoover is bereft.

Tomorrow I’ll try to finish the coat and post a review. Until then,
Happy sewing!