My posts here have been few during recent months but I have been busy. At least, that’s my story. When not sharing the domestic chores with Granny Anne I might be trying to paint a masterpiece (not much risk of succeeding but it’s fun trying). Or I might be messing about with music, or engaged in some domestic project or other, or doing a bit of gardening or just reading a book. You might even, on a warm sunny day, find me doing absolutely nothing – for a brief period only mind you – but sitting outdoors (in the shade of course) daydreaming while contemplating a large glass of cold Guinness. It is all part of the hard-earned pleasure of being retired and with, thankfully, few demands on my time but plenty of hobbies and interests to keep me occupied.
Besides, Granny Anne is doing enough posting for both of us and it’s all good topical stuff, not forgetting our daughter, Jennie, who is celebrating 70,000 visitors to her blog by running a giveaway competition until the end of the month. To enter, all you have to do is comment on one or more posts in her blog.
I spotted this little fellow in the garden the other day so dutifully dashed indoors for the camera. I think it is the caterpillar of a Grey Dagger Moth. It was one of the few really warm, sunny days that we have enjoyed recently and even Henry (our tortoise) wandered about for a few hours. This behaviour by Henry shouldn’t be remarkable at this time of year but he has started to behave strangely lately. Throughout most of the quarter century or so that he has been with us, Henry has been in the habit of hibernating from some time in early October until mid-February. Last year he hibernated early. I imagined that this was due to the dull, wet summer and the resulting poor temperature and daylight levels, that combined to convince Henry that it was autumn already. Though I didn’t quite realise it at the time, by August he was preparing to hibernate already – several weeks earlier than a few years ago. It looks as if he is doing the same this year, coming out from under his bush only on the warmest and brightest days and not going far or eating much even then. I don’t think there is any cause for alarm. Tortoises are not supposed to eat for some weeks before hibernating so that their digestive system is empty while they “sleep”. On the other hand I have to remember that he is likely to be waking again at the beginning of January and will then have to be pampered indoors for a few months!
I have started three paintings recentlyand they are looking promising so far. I like to take time with the oil paintings, building them up in several stages with adequate drying time between stages. Having started to paint it is better that I do an hour or two every two or three days. This is easy to arrange with three “on the go” together.
Music has been a big preoccupation recently as I have had a lot of catching up to do in order to keep my side of the deal to help our young friend, Maria, to start learning the violin. Maria, in turn, is helping me to tackle the clarinet. It is nearly 60 years since I started to play the violin and around 50 since I stopped playing regularly. So I have started practising and I must say that, at first, I was not that far ahead of my “pupil”! It is all coming back to me though and now, just to be awkward, I want to play the violin again as well as the clarinet – but not at the same time of course.
Meanwhile, Maria is showing signs of becoming a “Star” pupil. I don’t think Anne-Sophie Mutter needs to start worrying just yet but…
As for me, well, I can read the music fairly well and translate it quickly to fingering on the violin but the big challenge is to do the same on the clarinet.
We both have suitable learner’s books for our respective instruments and they are almost as tedious as they always were in my young days though the technology has since come to the rescue to some extent with CDs containing demonstrations and backing tracks. I have been scanning the internet for sheet music to vary the diet a bit. I have also found a lot of midi files in the public domain – or at least they are free for non-commercial use – together with software which (as I understand it) will produce sheet music from the midi files and allow both to be edited to make new arrangements. The same software allows composing from scratch. It is all on trial at present while I decide which particular package to buy, depending on how many of the functions I really need. Information about the Notation software that I am trying can be found here.