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The end of July and first part of August are always busy times here. Back in the Dark Ages, when I was still involved with the local Buddhist Temple, it meant preparing for the local Obon Festival, as well as putting together a program for the taiko drum troup that I led for performing for not only our own Obon, but travelling to at least Oxnard and maybe Salinas to play for theirs. Obon Season runs from roughly mid-July to mid-August, so it meant extra rehearsals and then travel time.

Fast-forward twenty years. Finally tiring of the xenophobia in the local Japanese community, I dropped away from the local Buddhists after our taiko group burned itself out doing 35 performances between May and August one year. I spent about five years really enjoying NOT having to get up on Sundays to play the organ (even tho it was only the same two hymns every week) and driving 10 miles to get to the temple (as gas prices rose.) Lazy, thy name art Aeärwen, I swear. Of course, about this time is when my parents both started their serious declines - with both of them dying in 2007, and then going through the grief process.

About 2003 or so, I'd started getting together with folks from the Theosophical community here in Halcyon for coffee on Saturday mornings. It was a fun group, and discussion topics could range from the sublime to the absolutely ridiculous. Then, one day, one of those ladies asked if I'd ever considered doing piano-organ duets. We started practicing weekly, and I started to find myself playing for the services at THAT temple on the occasional Sunday morning. No biggie there. When TPTB there wondered if a choir could be put together, I volunteered to be the accompanist. Again, no biggie. In 2005, the choir director quit due to scheduling issues, and I took over as director and accompanist. Again, no REAL biggie, but it was one rehearsal a week more. That made two per week.

Then, I got roped into helping with a Holiday play, nothing big - ringing a hand-bell at the appropriate time. This morphed into being the accompanist to a musical revue program for the next Convention. More rehearsals. THEN another member there decided to put together a strictly classical music recital during that same Convention and asked first Nashoma and me to play a few duets and me to play a couple of solos. MUCH more rehearsal time, as well as private practice time.

This year, they have suffered the loss of two pianists there, and I am now regularly playing a solo during one Sunday morning service (during what most would consider "anthem" time) and then a roughly fifteen-minute musical meditation prelude to the last Sunday of the month service. I was accompanist for the Holiday play this past year, and now am musical director/arranger and accompanist for this year's Gay 90's musical revue program for Convention. I am down for playing for the second iteration of the Classical Music Program again too - am playing for three services during the week, AND get to prepare to play for a wedding the Thursday before things all get started.

So... Between now and two weeks from now, I figure I need to put a MINIMUM of three hours a day into piano practice on pieces ranging from "Dream a Little Dream of Me" for the wedding to two Scott Joplin ragtime pieces and roughly 17 put accompaniments of old favorite tunes like "School Days" and "Bicycle Built for Two" for the revue program, as well as Mendelssohn's Morning Song and Debussy's "Clair de Lune" for the classical recital. I also have to come up with solo preludes for two services and practice with my duet cohort for prelude for the main service. I just finished plugging all the practices into my calendar, and I find I have rehearsals at a minimum of every two days, and sometimes two a day, for the next two weeks.

By mid-August, I think I'll need - and have earned - a vacation.

However, by the end of this, I should be back in the discipline of putting 1-3 hours a day on the piano again; and with that, I should be able to reclaim some of my "skillz" that I've lost in the years since I haven't practiced regularly. (Arthritis in left shoulder and right knee make practicing - and the aftermath - less than fun stiffness and pain-wise.) It also probably means my writing will slow down considerably, as somewhere in September, I will be purchasing a cross-strung harp and start learning to play it. It's one of my Bucket List items that I've decided to take care of.

But that means that my life is now ruled by two Masters/Muses - Music and Writing. And ya know, despite all the work and performance jitters for things coming up in all too little time, it's fun to be completely at the mercies of those two.

Life is good; tiring, stressful, and frustrating, but good.


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