Having squeezed in two parties on Saturday, I skipped the one on Sunday. I felt as though I should go, because I am always reminding myself that with my daughters gone I have to make an effort to have girlfriends, rather than just having them handy in my house. The whole time I was bringing up four little children and working full time as well, I was too busy to think beyond my job and family. Now, as my level of freedom grows, I can have friendships with other grownups — but only if I make the effort.

On the other hand, Sunday afternoon at home with my family is a great pleasure.

At one of the parties on Saturday, there was a woman who kept saying how much she was enjoying having an adult conversation for once, since she was a widow with grown kids and taught special needs children. No, she said, she didn’t have lunch with the other teachers, but just drank a can of Slimfast at her desk. No, she didn’t go to the gym or walk the trails. No, she didn’t — in short, all our suggestions of ways to extend her social circle were shot down. And then she bored us all into submission with endless repetitions of how cute her students were and how much they loved her, regardless of the conversational topics others introduced.

Nothing wrong with telling us a story or two about her job; it was the self-centeredness. She has made her world small, complains about how small it is, but simply won’t step out of it, even to the extent of feigning interest in other people or in ideas.

I finished all the planned projects yesterday, except that I ran out of jump rings and will have to pick up another package of them and do a little more soldering. This means that I can return to my knitting UFOs. erin again

Erin for my epic project.

pipes 9 2

Pipes for my zombie knitting.

There is also a lot of baking, cleaning, decorating, practicing of music, and other festive preparation to be done. Oh, and of course work and the gym and the cursed fact-checking. Let us ignore those things and think about music instead.

Among the Advent hymns that I really love is “Comfort, Comfort Ye, My People.” Last year I was successful in browbeating the choir director into allowing me to get a quartet together to sing this in church.

“How do you want it?” asked the organist. “Like a madrigal? a dirge?”

“A madrigal with overtones of steel drums,” said I.

Although this is a 17th century German hymn (you will doubtless recall that the 17th century was a bad time for Christmas carols, with legal bans on them all over Europe and America, so the Germans were about the only game in town when it came to Christmas music. They stepped up to the plate admirably, I must say), it lends itself very well to modern interpretation, and I would like to hear someone like Beyonce Knowles do it. However, I do not in fact have any recordings to suggest to you. You will just have to sing it yourself. Or, if you have a trumpet, that would also be a good choice. A flute would also be very nice, and indeed, a flute is almost as good as a voice for Christmas music.

Our flautist yesterday in church began in the wrong key when we ran through the piece (“Carol for Advent,” a really nice new tune to which I cannot link you) in the choir room. Fortunately, she figured this out. The choir was suggesting that perhaps she wasn’t in tune with the piano, and she was saying “It doesn’t sound right.” We could not but agree with her. And yet, in a volunteer group like a church choir, you can’t be too picky. Sometimes you just have to hope that the congregation will figure it is an edgy atonal piece.

But she realized the problem in time and did beautifully in the service. It was unfortunate that the men who actually sing on pitch did not show up. Without those men to lead them, our choir men are like poor little lambs who have lost their way, bleating piteously on any note that suggests itself to them. We could hardly suggest that they hadn’t tuned to the piano.

People came up anyway and told us how much they had enjoyed the music. People are kind, aren’t they?