Thursday, June 4, 2009

Weather, winds and word choices

Got off the plane in So Cal yesterday to overcast skies and drizzle.  I somehow never manage to pack correctly to come to my sister's, even after checking with Accuweather before I load my suitcase.  A few years ago, we flew down here on Christmas Day (just about the time, across the international date line, that a tsunami was creating havoc and destruction in Thailand--we didn't get the news until a couple of days later in this TV-free zone that is my sister's home), and it was cold and pouring.  Record-setting rain, in fact.  SK and I had brought clothes for sun, and had to run to Target for sweatshirts, which we wore every second for the entire week.

Up in western Washington, it's a record-setting start to June--highs in or close to the 90s.  Last night when I called home, Beve was still out watering our pots, at almost 10 PM.  We aren't in Alaska, where the sun refuses to set this time of year, but we get used to living and playing outside until 10.  There have been many times when The Dump has called me, shocked, because down here it's night three hours earlier.

So last night we went to younger nephew's band concert.  K2 (both boys are K--K1 is graduating, K2 is finishing 8th grade) plays the tuba, well enough that his parents and trombone-playing older brother are a little disgusted, because K2 doesn't practice.  K1 is a fine musician but he's also quite disciplined at daily practicing.  Anyway, dump and I sat at this concert laughing hysterically, while making sarcastic remarks about all and sundry.  Loving every judgmental minute of it.  Most of that judgment was aimed at ourselves, but honestly, not all of it.  There were gifts for the parents who have been involved in the 'band boosters' this year, and though the Dump pretended to rise at one point, she was never in the running for parent of the year...She chose the 'if you give 100$ to the band, you don't have to do any fundraising' route.  I've been a fan of that route myself a kid or two over the years, but Dump's a grand master at it.  Once, years ago in pre-cell-phone days), she got a phone call from my oldest, just asking her to call back.  Dump was so certain E was going to ask her for a pledge of some kind, she didn't return the call for two days.  Imagine her chagrin when she discovered that E was calling on my behest, while Beve and I spent our nights in the hospital with SK, who's appendix needed removing.

But as often the case, I digress.
The band teacher was irritatingly verbose.  He liked to hear himself, I guess. He spoke of how difficult it is to get beginning band members to focus for their first period rehearsal, how he was sure the concert would be a failure until just this last week, but he hoped they might actually pull it off.  Spoke, pointedly enough that I wanted to rush home and get out my clarinet, of the need to practice in order to improve.  Then said, "But I'm going to miss these kids a ton."  A ton?  One of my least favorite modifiers.  Is he implying that he wants them fat and happy musicians?  It is a measurement of weight, isn't it?  Does he want them to stay around and sit on them the way, back when she was called 'husky', the Dump used to sit on my older brother?  I'm sure R really misses that 'a ton' too.  The band teacher, complete in tails, also said, "But now they're doing really good," which seriously sets my teeth on edge.  I know, I know, people use this phrase all the time, but it's incorrect.  There's no other way to say it, good is wrong in that context.  The proper word is 'well.'    Or perhaps fine, but not always.

And at the end of every talking interlude, he'd say, "That's all," as he turned off the mike.  Kind of like saying, 'the end,' after conversing with someone, or maybe, "over and out."  I'm sure none of these things, which aren't REALLY such big deals, would have made us giggle, if I hadn't been so blasted tired.  I got up at 4 AM yesterday, after all.  For Beve, that's just barely earlier than his alarm goes off, but for me, it's a mere two hours after I've finally managed to stop thinking and start dreaming.

At the end of the concert (and the wind ensemble, for which K2 plays, and was given 'Musician of the year' award), the parents clapped lustily and even gave them a standing ovation.  The second to the last piece was gorgeous, but then they played "America the Beautiful" which is fine, but why is it that so many school bands feel the need to end with patriotic pieces? It's like patriotism is the only 'religion' allowed in public schools, if that makes sense.  But the rather un-objective crowd loved it, and just as we were gathering our purses, looking for extra programs to take home, the 'missing you a bunch' director strode back onto stage and they played an encore.  Seriously?  Oddly (or maybe not!), no one stood up after that piece.  I think the parents were looking at their watches and wondering if they'd get home for their 9 o'clock TV shows.

I have to say, I've been to a whole lot of music concerts over the years, but it's been about 6 years since a middle school one.  Last night was highly entertaining, but I'm rather glad to be beyond that stage. But don't worry, my sister and I will find more things to criticize today...or maybe I'll actually catch up on my sleep enough that I'm more merciful.  If not, I'm blaming it all on her--like I've been doing ever since I learned to talk.

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