Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Handbell Festival DAY 2

Early this morning (4:00 AM), my household was up and moving toward the second day of handbell festival. We rose early in an effort to get showers taken and chores completed before taking my husband to work, and before meeting some fellow ringers for the commute to Rhode Island.

7:00 AM. Breakfast in the Hope Commons dining hall. As is true on every college campus, the meal was crowded (again!). Only six coffee pots had been prepared for hundreds of groggy ringers, a definite oversight on the part of the food service personnel. Fortunately, a Starbucks coffeehouse is located next door to the cafeteria. I endured a short line there as well, at the end of which was a wonderful cup of hot green tea. My sinuses and ears had been stuffy since sometime yesterday, so the steam from that cup was a real lifesaver.

8:00 AM. My daughter and I headed to the Ryan Center for a mini-concert featuring several groups, including a quartet of performers from the Back Bay Ringers of Massachusetts. This group of intrepid musicians played the theme from Beverly Hills Cop. I don’t ever recall seeing such an impressive exhibition of weaving skills by a group of ringers. Awesome showmanship!

8:45 AM. The second mass rehearsal of the conference with the same director as yesterday, a genial (yet professional) gentleman named Bill Mathis. I like him. Of course, the fact that he is from Minnesota has nothing to do with that, I’m sure. I did meet a ringer at breakfast that isn’t very fond of Mr. Mathis. She described him as “too curt.” I disagree. He is an extremely effective director. He needs to be firm, what with hundreds of ringers under his baton. While Katherine the Great rang at this practice, I started this blog entry and read more pages in Basic American Government for a course I am teaching next year in our homeschool co-op.

10:00 AM. After the massed ring, my daughter had some time to kill before her first “official” class of the festival (Handbells and Computers), so we visited the vendor hall for a peek at some sheet music should the effort to start a handbell choir at our church get off the ground before fall. Katherine the Great found some suitable selections of sheet music that she seemed to enjoy. I, on the other hand, shopped for Christmas gift ideas/items. I did find some, but I found more goodies for myself: handbell cookie cutters, some interesting handbell jewelry, and a handbell ornament.

11:15 AM. Computer class in the “Flagg” building. What an adventure to locate, and only 0.25 miles from the Ryan Center. Thanks to the assistance of a URI student, we were on time. The class was ok. I got fidgety after about thirty minutes; contrarily, my daughter found it fascinating and reported to me that she got a lot of good ideas to use when she finally gets Finale (hint!), a music notation program for the computer. Apparently, the time is rapidly approaching when my budding composer will need such an asset (or so I have been told).

12:30 PM. The first “bronze” rehearsal of the conference, “bronze” being the designation for all the advanced ringers and their choirs. Again, Katherine the Great rang and I worked on preparing a lecture for my American Government class. It was a quick hour, followed by another quick hour of massed rehearsal with director Mathis. He is getting an amazing amount of work out of these ringers. Their pieces already sound better after only two sessions. Amazing!

3:00 PM. With almost two hours to kill after massed rehearsal, my daughter and I attended our second mini-concert of the day. Sadly, this one was not as good as the morning event, but the chance to hear some unfamiliar musical selections was certainly worth the time we invested. I don’t know about Katherine the Great, but I have decided that I really don’t like “calypso style” handbells. Call me stuffy, but steel drums and a guitar just don’t seem to fit with “proper” English bells, but I digress…

4:30 PM. Dinner…finally! Miss Ringer and I totally missed lunch because of classes and rehearsals, but the wait was definitely worth it. Evening menu: maple mustard pork roast, sweet potatoes, stuffing, snowflake rolls with butter, carrots, build-your-own salad, a brownie, and a cup of tea. Another part of dinner that was definitely worth it --- the company; my daughter and I were privileged to dine with three sister ringers from Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Gales Ferry, CT. Their handbell choir is called Hosanna Ringers and is directed by one of the Shoreline Ringers, Larry Berdensy. We all enjoyed sharing ringing stories, although I must admit their stories were funnier. Larry must have quite the time with these ladies in his choir. I haven’t encountered a more good-humored, spirited group of women in a long time. Needless to say, dinner was quite pleasant.

6:45 PM. Katherine the Great took off for her last class of the day: Intermediate Weaving. For those who may be unfamiliar with handbells, weaving is a skill that is used by ringers who need to play bells that are (oftentimes) chromatically related, like going up or down the scale in whole, or half, steps. I have only ever tried this with three bells. My daughter was set to tackle more than five bells in her class this evening, a task that didn’t really thrill her. However, she realized the usefulness of her impending torture: to become a better ringer (and handbell composer). Unfortunately, I was unable to witness this growth process, as the room was much too small. Instead, I sat in on a Tin rehearsal (the beginning ringers and their choirs). Considering their lack of experience and the challenging nature of the music, they really weren’t faring too badly.

8:00 PM. We caught our ride back to Connecticut. My husband met us at Union Baptist Church so our commuter friends didn’t have to go out of their way to drop us at home. Everyone was on native turf by 9:00 PM. Some light chores and a quick gander at the incoming cyber mail for the day, and it was off to bed. Thank goodness because I was exhausted.

See you tomorrow!

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