Monday, November 21, 2011

Fill their Stockings

My friend, Lisa, at TheLongRoadtoChina (and back) is having a fantastic giveaway/fundraiser to help Half the Sky, who look after orphaned children in China. Lisa's story is amazing, culminating in the family adopting their little girl, Reagan, from China last year.

The easiest way to explain it is to post this piece from Lisa's blog...

" So, here are the details. Starting November 25th and running through December 23rd, each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we (Diana, Stefanie, and I) will feature a special product on each of our blogs. That means 3 items each giveaway day, for a total of 9 items every week. The gifts will range from $50-$500 in value – and all of them are fantastic.For a chance to win the item featured that day, all you need to do is leave a comment on that post and then click a button to donate $5 to the organization that we each represent: Stefanie for An Orphan's Wish, Diana for Pearl River Outreach and me for Half the Sky. Your donation will go directly to the charity featured, and we will be notified of all donations made. For every $5 donation you make, you will be entered to win the item posted. "
Lisa has pictures of some of the gifts on offer, as well as beautiful pictures of Reagan and her other two children, Sarah and Nick. If you feel that you can help, I think it's a very worthwhile cause...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wish me luck, please.

Tomorrow is my first "gig" with the new band, and I'm a bit nervous. It's at a Mass, and most of the music is fine, but there are one or two pieces that I've seen for all of 3 minutes, then the rehearsal moves on to the next piece! Honestly!

I bring my camera to rehearsals and take a quick photo of the pieces, so I can practice in between. Most of the players think this is hilarious!
I have decided that I'll just play what I can, and count through the rest, but in my heart I really want to play most of the music.
So, please keep your fingers crossed that I don't make a "holy show" of myself!

In other news, look at what our garden is STILL November! can't believe it!
This raspberry bush was a Mothers' Day present and this is its first year. I cannot believe how many bowls of raspberries it has given, and as the weather is still very mild here, the bush thinks it's September!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today was the recording of the Christmas cd.
Oh my, what a day!
It started in the beautiful setting of this church in Lucan, Co.Dublin.
A 9.30 start would not normally be my scene on a Saturday morning, but today was different. I jumped out of bed!

I'm giving the Full Monty in one post, so if anyone wants to jump down to the end, that's ok. I just don't want to leave out any detail. This is one of those days that I will remember for all of my life. There was a lot of preparation beforehand.
Musicians need lots of water..
People were moving seats, candles, reading stands and all sorts of other church stuff.

Then we started and the sun shone through those beautiful stained-glass windows onto our music During a break in the morning session, in a piece where French Horns had no part (what kind of piece is that?), I went down to the village for a walk...

can you see a heart shape in this photo or is it just my happiness radiating?.
and it was funny to see the normal things going on in the village, such as children feeding the ducks..

When lunch-time was called, there was practically a stampede for food. Stands, instruments and music were abandoned in favour of food!

Many women had brought delicious sandwiches, wraps, rolls. And then there was home-made apple tart, yum! Sorry, no photos of that, too busy eating it!

The recording/sound guy was amazing; he could detect one single mistake, one single wrong note, over all the playing! That was a bit unnerving, but he was really nice and very encouraging to all of us.

He took on the role of "shop steward" in the afternoon, and negotiated a 10 minute tea-break for us!
It was much needed; 5 hours of playing certainly uses calories, and all top-ups of blood sugar were very welcome.
Back home, I'm on a high! I'm so very appreciative of the many wonderful, patient, generous people who have all helped me along the way and brought me to today's high point. I know that the journey continues, and the great thing about this is that there is no destination, it's all about the journey!

And I'm loving it!

p.s. just heard that the cd will be for sale, to raise funds for a church roof, and we're invited to play at a launch, with the choir, on 8th December. It gets better and better!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Walking in the Air

I'm beyond excited!

Just had a most amazing day! Regular readers will know my journey with the French Horn, and especially how nervous I am playing in public... and those who read my last post will know that it was difficult for me to be the only French Horn in the band.

Well, folks, today there has been progress! Lots of it!

This morning, I was (again) the only French Horn in band, and I wasn't even nervous. I can't believe it! All thanks to the lovely conductor from 2 weeks ago, whose words put me at ease. Different conductor today, who at times focused on me, and I was fine with that. I'm learning, learning so much!


This afternoon, I was playing with an orchestra, who rehearse just once a month. At the break, the conductor told me she thought the French Horns were sounding really good today!

After the break, we were rehearsing Christmas Carols with a choir, cos guess what? on Saturday, we're recording a CD with the choir! All the usual suspects will be on it..Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come all you Faithful, Silent Night etc.

We had such a good time today, well, I certainly did! The guy beside me probably thinks I'm a lunatic, cos each time a new piece of music was called I'd go "oh, I love this one!"...

But really, I adore Christmas music. I was totally happy, playing away, choir singing behind us; it was bliss!

I'm really hoping that the CD will be for sale, I will buy a copy for everyone I know, and I'll be putting a video clip on here, I promise I will!