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DC-Pittsburgh trip days 1-5 - the funcrunch files


Nov. 27th, 2009 12:01 am DC-Pittsburgh trip days 1-5

Early Sunday morning, after an hour or two of sleep following a Very Fun Party, we headed to the airport for our trip to DC. We flew Virgin, which had WiFi, free courtesy of Google for the holidays, and satellite TV. Both were awesome, and, with the help of good headphones, kept my mind mostly off of the five-hour flight, the screaming baby in the back, and the sleep deprivation (though I did manage a short nap).

boyziggy's brother-in-law picked us up at the airport, we bought a few groceries and headed to Ziggy's sister's home in Virginia. I passed out pretty quickly but Ziggy insisted on making dinner, under the watchful attention of his young nephew and niece. We turned in early that night and slept a good 14 hours.

Monday we rented a bass (with amp), and hung out with a few of Ziggy's friends in the area. I practiced a bit with headphones on while Ziggy stayed up late watching TV and web-surfing.

Tuesday Ziggy and I played bass and keyboard for his niece (who was home from school early) while she sang and danced. Later we spent time with Ziggy's other sister at her home, then went to their father's house and had dinner with several members of the family.

Wednesday we packed up, had lunch with another of Ziggy's friends, then started on our drive to Pittsburgh. We went a longer route than usual, through West Virginia, and stopped for dinner at a café Ziggy found in Morgantown, the Blue Moose, which had vegan food and wi-fi. We arrived at my Mom's in Pittsburgh around 9, greeted my Mom and grandmother, and spent some time socializing.

Today Ziggy and I slept in late and watched a bit of the Macy's parade on TV. I played piano and bass. I wanted to work on Debussy's Children's Corner, and Mom had the whole score. I played the first piece, Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (which I had already worked on) and then we played the last, Golliwogg's Cakewalk, together, with me sight-reading the right-hand part while Mom played the left. We did the same for Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, which Mom had just started working on and insisted that I try to play also. Then she located her book of Bach two-part inventions, and I played on the bass the part of the one (#4) I'd been working on while she played the other part on the piano. Then we played through most of the music in my upcoming Blue Bear rock workshop, while listening to the CD as Mom was unfamiliar with most of those songs. I also played Steve's solo bass etude, which I have nearly performance-ready at this point.

We then ate the yummy vegan Thanksgiving food that Mom had picked up for us at the East End Co-op down the street (thanks to hopita for the info on the holiday menu). Normally Ziggy and I spent a considerable amount of time preparing a feast, but we decided to take this approach so we wouldn't have to spend time stocking and cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen, and could just relax and enjoy the day. We had stuffing, rice pilaf, roasted potatoes, mashed yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie - the works. Mom only tried the potatoes and yams, but enjoyed them very much. (She isn't really into cooking, eating, or food in general. Where did my genes come from??)

I spent more time on the piano in the afternoon and evening, slowly working through the remainder of the Children's Corner suite, and playing a number of Chopin, Brahms, and Beethoven favorites with varying degrees of success. I decided to try to get through the entire Waldstein, my favorite of Beethoven's piano sonatas. I knew I could play the second movement without difficulty, and the first movement very slowly (though I'd forgotten how long it was), but the third movement I always gave up on pretty quickly, though it was my favorite. This time I decided to avoid most of the trills (and those one-handed octave scales near the end, which are basically impossible for someone at my level anyway), and play each hand separately at the point where the piece modulated to C minor. After doing the separate hands work, I was able to play that difficult passage very slowly. I still made lots of mistakes, but I attempted to correct them as I went along rather than blunder through at all costs (same with the Brahms rhapsodies I play more frequently). It felt good to put in some hard work on this beautiful music, and even better to have real piano keys under my fingers.

Right now I'm in the living room with the laptop perched on the back of the couch, the one spot in the house we can usually get an open wi-fi signal (my Mom doesn't have Internet access or even a computer). Tomorrow Ziggy and I will be meeting up with some of my fellow high school grads (class of '88) for an informal gathering. My formal reunion dinner, for which I'm also the photographer, is Saturday night.

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