Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unexpected Workshop

Today I was wandering through the foyer of the main building on my way to return an overdue library book when I stopped and started chatting to Salima, another American bassist that I often run in to at various cross arts events. She's fun times and so I went and said hello. She was super bouncy about this project that she had just signed up for courtesy of So before long, I was too a part of this.

I had to miss the beginning of the workshop due to my doctor's appointment, so instead of telling you what their mission is- I'll tell you to go check out their website. They seem like a cool organization. In any case, our mission for this afternoon was to create a show. We had three teams each with their own theme: Salima, Laverne, and I ended up with "equality." And Equality just screams 'carrots' to you, right?

Yeah, me neither, but for some reason that is what I came up with when we were told to come up with a character- "What about a giant talking carrot?" Fortunately, Salima and Laverne were cool enough to not only go with it, but to also get excited about making a piece about a giant talking carrot.

I think our finished product ended up missing the boat a bit on the whole equality thing- the carrot, which is a "walking, talking, gargantuan carrot" is due to some magic fairy dust. The hungry bunny rabbit singing the blues spies the carrot and wants to eat the carrot after the carrot's initial introduction song (la, I'm a carrot; la, I'm a carrot) but eventually the carrot convinces the hungry bunny that he is also a person (?) and so the hungry bunny has a change of heart and they leave the stage searching for food together as best friends....(?)

So maybe we need to work on plotting a bit more.

But I had SO MUCH FUN making up the random songs. And I made up nearly all of the random songs, lyrics and all. So here's what I want to do: I want to work on a children's show, or in a children's theatre, or in a children's band or something like that so that I can make up ridiculous songs all the live long day and hang out with tiny tykes. Sound like a plan?

Also, we put bunny ears on Salima's bass. It was awesome. (Sorry there are no pictures!)

Andy: I finally had English strawberries!

And oh my goodness, they are divine. They didn't look like much, quite pale really. I bought a box and shared them around at the workshop I was at this afternoon. I think I know where any and all of my disposable income is going in the next few weeks...

Ankle Goodness

I *finally* had my appointment with the doctor at school (I've seen the nurse a couple of times and she is wonderful, but I hadn't managed to meet with the doctor until today.) She reckons that I did actually fracture my ankle a bit- like a tiny bit of bone came off when I ripped the ligament off the bone (aaahh!!!!) but she also says that it is looking quite good and I should stop using my crutch.

She poked around all the parts where it still REALLY hurts. Those portions of my ankle that I have been very careful not to touch. Then she started pushing on them (aaahh!!!!) and massaging them (aaahh!!!!) probably not very hard, but it sure felt like it.

Fortunately by the time she was done about 10 minutes later after many reminders to breathe, my ankle felt much better. I see her again in two weeks because that was the next closest time we could find.

I can now point and flex both my feet! There is, however, an amusingly large difference between what angle I can get my right and left feet into.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lufthansa Baroque

Lufthansa Baroque is a festival in London that has been going on for 25 years now. They play at St. James Smith Square and in Westminster Abbey. Peter is the orchestra manager for their house band so when they needed people to sell programmes in exchange for free tickets, he called me up. Wasn't that nice of him?

On Wednesday I had my first experience of being inside Westminster Abbey, and wow is it ever over the top with all of it's monuments and such. I'm sure I wasn't treating things with the appropriate level of reverence. My sense of history is lacking because although it was totally amazing to hear coronation pieces by Purcell and Handel in their original venue- what I was most impressed with was watching Peter fit three basses, a cello, all the stands for the whole ensemble, all the music, and two violins into his tiny little car. That was some masterful packing.

Peter invited me to come to the pub with the musicians after the show which was lovely- it turned out that one of the violinists was one that original Academy of Ancient Music tour that I saw at Interlochen- the concert that started this whole journey off.

In introducing me Peter described my coming to London thusly:

"She was coming to Guildhall to study with me but at the same time that I was deciding I didn't want to teach, she decided she didn't want to take lessons. So it's worked out well."

Catch up number whatever

1. The picture from "bass ballet" is the first still from a video we made of a practice with my dancer and I for my final project. I just thought it had such lovely lines so I thought I'd put it on the blog.

2. Ankle update: I've been using my crutch this whole week, which I think has been helpful. I've also been elevating it and icing it. What I haven't really been doing is resting it to any particular degree. Sorry ankle. I've got a doctor's appointment to look at it on Wednesday. It's still pretty swollen and bruised.

3. London has been having RIDICULOUSLY nice weather the last couple of days. I'm only inside writing blogs for you because I love you, otherwise I would be outside sitting in the glorious sun.

4. Do you know the term "fly tipping?" This is how wikipedia defines it:

Fly-tipping ("sneaky dumping"[2] or "dumping on the fly"[3]) is a British term for illegally dumping waste somewhere else than in an authorised landfill.

Somebody (we suspect our upstairs neighbors) has been doing so in our front yard. Currently we have an entire bed, a dismantled vacuum cleaner, multiple giant cans of paint, boxes of assorted sizes, and roughly 20 bags of garbage sitting in front of our house. This has been bringing in vermin and dumpster divers. Awesome. We're calling the council.

6. Marissa, Laine's friend from Scripps, was just in London for her first international business trip! We hung out all yesterday and ended up walking through the gigantic hordes of tourists along Portobello Rd. (Would you like a £3,000 pewter tankard? Because I know where to find one now.) then we ended up walking down to Kensington gardens through to Hyde park. We skipped Green park and took the tube to Leicester Sq. to have tasty udon and sushi before walking to Buckingham palace, through St. James park, and ending up at Smith Square where I was selling programmes for Lufthansa baroque.

I have helpfully highlighted walking for you in the preceding paragraph so that you can get a good idea of how much I'm abusing my ankle. Oops. (But it was lovely out! And I've missed walking!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Odds and Ends

1. This is probably unimportant, but I was really pleased with my lunch today. I made a turkey sandwich. Which seems really normal, and it is, but I don't normally make them. Plus, it was on fancy, tasty, deliciously chewy bread from the Polish store with nice, thick cut Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard. Also, I had cut up a bunch of vegetables (including red pepper) and I had a banana. Doesn't that just seem like a lovely, classy lunch? I enjoyed it. Part of the appeal was putting the sandwich in my favorite Tupperware container which has a snap on lid so you really know it's going to stay.

2. Go see Star Trek. Go see it now. I cried, tears streaming down my face during the first 10 minutes and then spent the rest of the movie infernally annoying the poor guy next to me with my bouncing and flailing about with excitement. Awesome, amazing movie. I've never seen any of the TV shows or movies before, so I know that there was a lot I was missing. (Like all of the reveals where they're like "My name is thus and such" and you're clearly supposed to go "Ooohh!" Yeah, I didn't get those.) (It didn't matter.)

3. My final project has a title now! Instead of being "Untitled IPE, Casey Middaugh." It will now be called "The Three Elements." Which is a bit confusing because there are either four or a whole periodic table full of them. But trust me here, it works.

4. My ankle is mending. It is still about half again as wide as my left ankle, but I have given up the crutch now and have taken to slathering my whole foot in arnica gel a couple of times a day. I don't know if that actually does any good, but it makes me feel like I am doing something for my foot.

International Day: Tykes style

This morning I was in Hackney with Kate for our second attempt at teaching a nursery class together. We had the bass and oboe out today and tried doing high and low, but instead ended up doing big and small animals- which doesn't *really* correspond to any musical element particularly. But it's cool, the kids had fun-there was lots of running around, and we'll figure out how to do this team teaching thing eventually.

I then had to rush off to the Royal College of Art for a MapMaking rehearsal. Hackney and Kensington are not, what would you say? Local? So GSMD was kind enough to hire me a taxi to cart my bass and me. I love riding in taxis. I really do. My driver was a man from Guinea Bissou and we had a good talk about what a nice area Stoke Newington was and what it is like to live in a foreign country and how there are a lot of different Portuguese accents out there. We managed to get stuck near by Buckingham Palace because of the changing of the guard. I really want to watch that at some point now. I mean, now that I've got stuck behind it. (Side note: I got stuck near Buckingham Palace in my Taxi. I live in London. How totally awesome is my life?)

I managed to get into the RCA right in time for everyone to break for lunch. So instead of standing around I took that opportunity to go visit my tykes. Want to know why? Because they're super cute. Also? Because today was International Day!

International day is both awesome and a nightmare. All the parents bring buckets and buckets of food from their respective countries (America was representing with some brownies) and the kids show up in their native costume. The tykes get super wound up, are roped off so that the parents can't actually get to them, and then melt down. It looks like a total hassle. Albeit an exciting hassle.

I eventually managed to push my way through the crush of parents and slip into the roped off tykes area where one of the reception teachers got her class to start chanting "Miss Casey, Miss Casey" which I totally dug.

A. was wearing a pink princess dress.

"Where are you from, sweetie? Princessland?"
"Yes, I am the Queen of Princessland! Kiss my ring."


Green class nursery was melting down by the time I got there and since I was there I was asked if I could help corral the tykes past the swarm of parents and back in to the building. I ended up with five of the squirrely ones including both N and J (remember them? From the Old McDonald special instrumental lesson?) J kept wandering into the barbecue enclosure but I managed to get all of them into the classroom without losing a child. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.

In order to keep entertained I applauded hopping on one foot efforts. Also jumping *so high* in to the air. These kids have mad skills. Eventually I decided that reading them a book would be a good idea, so J went and picked one out. Darling child that he is, he ended up with a barnyard animal version of "The Wheels on the Bus" which was brilliant because it meant that I could sing the book to them.

We all sat on the floor in a big pig pile and when the rest of the class finally arrived (they thought they had lost J and were looking for him) I had a crowd of tykes making oinking sounds and singing along. I felt like when Mommy's co-worker came over when Laine and I were babies and we were all freshly cleaned and quiet and there was a homemade apple pie baking: one of those confluence of perfectnesses (that totally IS a word) that makes you look especially good.

So yeah. MapMaking was fine, whatever. The important thing here is that I saw a number of children that, for some reason, had giant yarn balls on their heads. What country could that be for?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

My mom is pretty amazing. Here's how:

1. I have this giant final project that I'm working on. It is big, scary, and tremendously exciting when I can get past those first two bits. One of the things that I have been struggling with is pulling all the disparate parts of it together- handily my mom is a bad ass program manager and has been giving me tips. By "tips" I mean lavishing huge amounts of time and effort to coach me through different aspects of the project. I can't even begin to explain how helpful it has all been. I have someone that I can ask really stupid questions to, someone I can freak out to because I'm falling behind and not only does she listen and not think I'm an idiot- she also helps me work through whatever that particular issue is with the project and also helps me realize that I'm doing quite a good job and it's all coming together. Which is pretty phenomenal. We do email updates and phone calls and I have someone to bounce ideas off of and someone who can help me to organize all the thoughts going through my head. I'm so lucky. Plus, it is really fun to work with her in this way- it is fun to see her in work mode and playing with these tools and ideas; playing with me.
2. She's secretly super goofy.
3. She taught me to feed everyone. This has turned out to also be useful in my project- I've been keeping my team well fed. The bagels this morning were a hit!

Friday, May 8, 2009


It's just occurred to me (in one of those flashes of understanding) that earrings are the weirdest concept. I mean, you stab holes into your earlobes and then you hang totally random things off of them. Things that dangle.

There is no reason for this post other than that I have a blog and I'm not afraid to use it. Also, this is my 301st post. How cool is that?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ankle update

My ankle is healing. I get confused about how much I can actually do on it or not and have been displaying a tendency to overuse it. Like when I did my usual walk through Hyde park to my bus stop after school. It normally takes about 20 minutes. Yesterday it took an hour with frequent stops to remind myself that it was okay to slow down. I didn't need to keep trying to do my normal pace with my crutch.

*The purple is now turning yellow. Weirdly I'm developing pinpoint bruises at the base of my toes.
*Pointing and flexing my foot is more or less comfortable, while side to side is something that I am trying to avoid.
*Keeping my ankle elevated means that I am starting to hurt my knee from overextending it. *People on buses always get up if you've got a crutch. (I even had an old man stand up for me once and another time an elderly woman purposefully gripped my arm in order to give me a hand on to the bus. She didn't say anything, just firmly took my elbow.)
*People on tubes do not even look up. I was unwilling to be pushy about it on the tube, so I just stood for 4 stops until a seat finally opened up.
*Seriously. Don't run for buses in flip flops.

The other Tykes are Terrific Too

This week we sang "I am the Music Man" and gave every child a chance to play a drum, shaker, and set of bells. But this is how it went:

"Seriously! You'll all get a chance to play all the instruments! Stop whining! Be patient! Trust me for, like, 5 seconds!"

I eventually made sure that all of the drums and all of the shakers I handed out were the same color so that no one could start whining or doing black market trades/theft.

After we got through the whole song three times with each instrument we did a bit of elementary ear training. I hid the instruments under a cloth and the kids could only play when they heard *their* instrument being played. For the classes that were catching on quickly we then switched it up and played two instruments at once. That was a bit trickier because for some combinations (specifically shaker and bells, which sound very similar) you had to listen for what instrument wasn't there. Isn't that neat?

I also had to explain to each class why I was hobbling around with a crutch. I told them that I had been silly and run for the bus and fallen down. So don't run for buses. "Yeah, but why were you being silly?" Good question kid, good question.

One of the reception girls invented a long involved story about how I hurt myself on the bus which involved my getting my foot caught in the door and then having the bus driver open and close the doors a couple of times on my ankle. While I am impressed with her creative and inventive ability, I am also concerned that she will now be frightened of buses.

A lot of the kids were confused by the crutch because of its arm band. They thought that I had hurt my arm instead of my ankle. Another reception boy offered to teach music class for me since clearly I was completely out of commission.

It was nice to see that a more stationary music class worked just fine. I was a bit concerned that having them sit for the entire class would cause them to completely lose focus, but it turned out that I had enough activities that I managed to hold on to their attention for the whole time.

I always end with Simama Ka, which is one of their favorite songs and involves jumping up and down. The nursery kids in particular are unlikely to do anything without having it modeled for them. So even though they've done this for a couple of months now, when I didn't jump- they didn't jump. So in an effort to get them to jump I hopped on one foot. This led to the whole class hopping on one foot. Adorable, if misguided.

This Tyke is Terrific

There is a special tyke in one of the nursery classes who I should find a pain in the butt, but instead I find incredibly endearing. We're going to call him "J." J. is always very insistent about what he wants/needs which can be difficult to deal with in a class of 21 when you've managed to get the rest of the class in a circle and J is standing in front of you saying "drum. I would like a drum." It's clear what he wants, and you'd like to help him out, but kid- there are 20 more of you!

Anyhow- he's the sort that doesn't deal totally well in a group setting, but it is clear that he gets very turned on by the instruments and by music class in general so last week I asked his teacher if it would be alright if I took him out for some one on one instrument time. She literally started jumping up and down she thought it was such a good idea.

J, however, will always be his own person- so when we asked him this week if he would like to do instruments he said no. ( Eventually we were able to convince him to come along to the staff room where I had a bunch of instruments set out, but only on the condition that he could bring a small plastic horse (that's "neigh neigh" to you) along with him. N, a little girl, followed us out of the room as well so I was like sure. Two is cool.

J has mad rhythm skills. He can keep a pulse, he can do groups of four and he can repeat a rhythm I play for him first. He *can* do all of these things, but only if he feels like it. And if his neigh neigh can be involved.

We sang "Old MacDonald" and he was doing the more complicated rhythm that I was doing: stopping at the ends of phrases instead of playing the pulse all the way through. (N did a very good job of playing all the way through, which is what I was originally going to work towards) But J would only sing along if we did horses. I suggested pigs, but no- we had to do horses again. Then I didn't ask and we just went ahead and did pigs; I asked again for another animal and after that and we did pigs I guess any animal is fine as long as they happen twice in a row? J! You're a weird little kid!

But the best thing ever? Getting a giant hug around the knees and a kiss on the cheek from J at the end of class. I'm a little besotted.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Clever Things NOT To Do

So I was on my way to dance class this morning and because I haven't gone in ages I was really looking forward to it and hoping to get there early because I received an email yesterday about how you really need to be there on time (they've been having problems with people wandering in halfway through) so because I had that in mind when I saw the bus, I ran.

This is not such a clever idea to have when you're wearing flip flops.

I got just about to the bus, made eye contact with the driver who started to stop and then promptly missed the curb, twisted my ankle and lay there on the ground in between the bus and the sidewalk apologising.

I managed to get back to the bus stop (thank GOD the bus was no longer moving!) and then started to pass out so I sank to the ground and curled up in a ball while some very nice women called an ambulance for me. The ambulance took about 20 minutes and multiple phone calls because they kept not understanding where we actually were, so the nice women went and got a couple of handy police officers who came by and started taking an accident/incident report.

Eventually I was with it enough to think to call Ella, so Ella and Josh raced up to come be with me which was SO nice of them. We all went in the ambulance with the paramedics; Tracy and Callum who were wonderful and chatty and made me feel taken care of. They gave me an inflatable brace and some sort of pain relieving gas which meant that I thought that inflatable brace was hilarious. To be fair, I might have thought that without the drugs too.

At the ER we waited for about 3 hours for the X-ray to be available, but the time passed pretty quickly as Ella, Josh, and I shared injury stories and moaned about how hungry we all were.

Here's something neat- they don't do prints of the X-rays anymore, now there is a national database on the internet so your local GP or anyone who is looking at your case can find the X-rays when they need them. Isn't that cool?

Good news is I didn't break my ankle, bad news is I did tear the ligaments. So I've got a crutch, a bunch of tape, and a promise to ice it and elevate it frequently. Already it is feeling much better.

But here's a helpful hint: don't run for buses. Especially not in flip flops.