Thanks for the birthday wishes

Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes. An intersecting set is all the people who send me interesting pictures of serpents – thanks to all of them, too.

A quiet celebration

We celebrated my birthday a week early. My sister did an organ concert on Friday, February 19 and invited Anne Kazlauskas to come narrate an introduction to the organ stops. Anne has been part of our pod since the beginning of the shutdown, when she was staying over at my house a couple of nights a week to use my computer.

So we had a celebratory lunch, with kale soup (made the previous day, since you don’t run home after a concert and cook lunch) and a good bottle of wine. The Fall River supermarket hadn’t had a cake that looked good to Judy, so she bought frozen cream puffs and put candles in some of them.

The memorable part of this celebration was the exploding candle. It was supposed to turn around and gradually unfold lotus petals, which it did, but it also hissed and threw off sparks and eventually turned into a small bonfire which ended up destroying the glass plate the cream puffs were sitting on. We felt like we should have been wearing protective eyeware, and one person did in fact have an eye problem although it didn’t start until several hours later, so it might have been unrelated.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of the candle exploding. Someone told me when I first started posting on facebook that nobody would read my posts unless they had a picture, so I looked at my recent pictures and this one of Maia and Orion snuggling was the best. I took it because, while they’re quite friendly, they don’t usually snuggle like this.

House status

Unfortunately, no good news on the housing front. For those who don’t follow me regularly, there was a fire last July 14. My apartment wasn’t damaged much by the fire, but did have smoke and water damage, and is missing both a bathroom and a kitchen, so since then I’ve been living with my sister in Fall River.

The insurance company will pay for all or most of it, but because of waiting around for the insurance company to give us money, we weren’t able to hire a contractor until Christmas. When we hired him, the first thing he did was some more demolition, which turned up structural problems that are unrelated to the fire but have to be addressed.

In addition, the insurance company decided to hire an expert to advise on fire mitigation and detection, so even if our architect and structural engineer had figured out what to do about the structural problems, they still couldn’t apply for a building permit until they get the expert’s report.

I still believe things will move very fast once the actual work starts getting done, but I don’t have even an educated guess about when that will be.

Happy New Year


Figure 1: Dürer Three Genii

1.1 Not a party invitation

If things were back to normal, we would be planning our holiday party,
which has in recent years been on January 1. This year we can’t do
that, both because people don’t want to party with any large number of
people, and because I don’t at this point have a house to invite
people to.

The good news is that we have hired a contractor to put the building
back together after the fire last summer, and it is likely that I will
be back in my home by late Spring, or early Summer. The contract says
the work will be substantially complete by May 1, but of course
there’s lots of language about things beyond the contractor’s control,
so that’s likely the most optimistic date

More global good news is that there are vaccines, and it’s likely that
by then some of us will have them and will be more comfortable getting
together than we are now.

I had discussed having a zoom party on New Year’s Day with a couple of
people, but since you can’t eat, drink, sing, or play over Zoom, I
decided it wouldn’t be a very good party, so I suggest we use other
means to keep in touch. And plan for a good housewarming party when
plague restrictions allow, and there is a house to warm.

1.2 My Update

Since the fire, I’ve been living in Fall River with my sister Judy (and her
dog Orion and my dog Maia). It’s a better living situation than most
homeless refugees have, and I have friends in Arlington who are
willing to put me up when I have to be in Cambridge earlier and/or
later than I want to drive to or from Fall River.

Musically, I probably have it better than I would if I were in
Cambridge. Her group (The Delight Consort) met in her backyard all summer, and performed in
the churchyard at the church where she’s the music minister in
September. Since it got too cold and wet to meet outdoors, we’ve been
meeting in the church gym. We have a collection of music about the
17th century plague in England, and we’ve been playing a lot of

I’m also playing with a group that meets on Jamulus. It doesn’t work
for everything, but a lot of the loud wind repertoire is actually
quite satisfying. The latency problem isn’t completely gone, but you
do really feel like you’re playing with people, and you can listen to
them and they listen to you. Unfortunately, it’s a bit finicky about
who can use it, and neither of the people from the Cantabile group
I’ve discussed it with have suitable hardware.

I bought a new (to me) cornetto, at A493 by Paolo Fanciullacci. It’s
in cedar wood, so in addition to sounding good and having an easier
stretch than a 440 cornetto, it also smells wonderful. A493 is pretty
close to B at A440, so I have actually learned to play in sharp keys
with people who are playing A440 instruments.

The new cornetto is more fun to practice, since there aren’t as many
notes that need heroic lip effort to get into tune. I also discovered
last Spring that vocalizing is a good pre-warmup for the cornetto
warmup exercises, so my singing is generally improving a bit.

The serpent really misses the West Gallery Quire, but the Delights do
let me play serpent some of the time. The geometry of this house
doesn’t make it easy to get the three serpent case around the corners,
so I usually bring only the carbon fiber serpent that just travels in
a bag. I am getting better on it than I used to be.

I don’t have a desk in this room, so music transcription is not really
an option, although I did take some Lilypond code from someone else’s
site and turn it into unbarred parts for the jamulus group. It wasn’t
a total success. I certainly felt more comfortable playing from a
two-page part than from a 5-page score, and having the notation not
get in the way of the phrasing, but other people sounded like they
were spending as much time putting the barlines back as I had spent taking
them out.

In non-musical news, I spend a lot of time on condo business. The
board we elected in May thinking we might need to clean some vents and
look into the front steps again turned out not to be the right people
for a million-dollar construction project. So I’m currently the
president. (Not that I’m who anyone would pick to manage a
million-dollar construction project, but I know some things about how
to find the people who are and how to get along with them for a few
months. And I have more time than the previous president, who has
both a full-time job and a new baby.) It might get easier now that
we’ve finally hired a contractor.


Figure 2: The lace pattern as it’s turning out in my yarn

I’m also knitting a Mood Cardigan. It’s a nice repetitive lace
pattern that you can do while watching tv.

1.3 Your Updates

If you’ve been doing anything you want us to know about, we’d like to
hear about it.

I’m happy to talk on the phone, or organize small zoom groups.

If you want to play duets, or larger groups, and you have the right
kind of computer to run Jamulus, that would be fun. It has to be a
fairly recent OS. I haven’t had much luck with Linux (for my laptop,
it works, but is too noisy to bother with), but there are people in
our group on both Windows and MacOS. In terms of the connection, the
important thing seems to be having an ethernet connection to the
internet, and not a WIFI one. The speed of the computer or the
connection doesn’t seem to matter much.

If you want to give the group an update on what you’re doing, you can
respond by email to this message, or comment on the wordpress post or
the facebook post. I don’t approve of using facebook, but I have to
admit that my experience is that you’re more likely to get responses
that way than the other ways.

Author: Laura Conrad

Created: 2020-12-29 Tue 12:39


Using the rain date

[socially distanced rehearsal]

It was raining too hard to play outdoors on Saturday, so we
rehearsed on the basketball court indoors, and will play the
concert in the garden next Saturday, September 5, at 3 pm.

We did put a sign in the garden saying to join us inside (with a
mask) and one person did that. (He’s who took this picture.)

So far, the weather forcast is for nice sunny weather on
Saturday, so come enjoy the music.

Laura Conrad

Concert rain date

Lightning Pritzerbe 01 (MK)

There’s over a 50% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon when
our concert
is supposed to happen. We’re going to go anyway, and rehearse
indoors if it isn’t possible to play outdoors.

If we do get postponed, we will play next Saturday, September 5,
at 3 pm.

Housing status update

They have almost finished packing out my condo, and have done
the demo on 2 of the other units. Still no word on contractors to
put the walls, ceilings and floors back though.

Laura Conrad

News of the month of August, 2020


Nothing substantive has been done to my apartment since I
wrote last, so it will still be months and not weeks before I can
move back there.

There is still outdoor rehearsal space here, if people wanted
to come down and use it. But meanwhile, Anne and I have been
playing with my sister’s group, The Delight Consort. They only
have a Facebook Page, not a real web address, so I can’t link to

Concert opportunity


The Delight Consort will be playing “Wind music from the time of
the Mayflower” on Saturday, August 29 at 3pm in The Ward Garden,
First Congregational Church, 282 Rock Street, Fall River, MA.
(The garden is actually on Cherry Street.) Admission is free;
wear a mask, bring a lawn chair. Here’s a flyer;
here’s the program. I’ll be playing cornetto,
recorder and all three serpents.

News of the months of June and July, 2020

Meeting reports

Nymph and Shepherds No.1 - William Strang

June 3

We played:

June 10

We played:

June 17

We played:

July 7

We played:


I think everybody who gets this also got my news of last week
that there was a fire in my building. I’m fine; all the
instruments are fine; as far as I know all the music and books and
electronics are fine. The kitchen and bathroom are not fine, so
it will be months and not weeks before I can go back to living

The good news is that here in Fall River where I’m staying at
my sister’s has outdoor rehearsal space. I know Fall River isn’t
very convenient for very many of you, but if you’re one of the
ones it is convenient for, or if you want to come anyway, I’d
love to play with you. It’s logistically easier to play outdoors
in daylight, so we might want to do it on a weekend afternoon
rather than a Tuesday night. But let me know if you’re interested,
and we can schedule a time, and I’ll let the list know that they
can come too.

Like a house on fire

There was a fire in my building yesterday. Everyone is safe, and the fire itself was confined to the unit where it started. But there’s a lot of cleanup to happen before I can live there again.

My unit is next to the one where the fire started, so the wall I share with that unit has a lot of water damage, so there isn’t a ceiling in either the kitchen or the bathroom. But the living room and the bedrooms and the dining room (where all the instruments live) all look pretty normal.

I’m with my sister in Fall River for for now, but email and phone should work normally.

It’s surprisingly complicated; I am currently trying to figure out who has to do what to get the electricity turned on. There doesn’t seem to be structural damage; they said we can get in and out as we feel like it, but of course until all the broken glass and fallen plaster are cleaned up, I won’t feel like it that much.

There’s a channel 7 report on the fire, with video of me and Maia crossing the street. Naturally, they were more interested in interviewing my downstairs neighbors with the three-month-old baby.

News of the week of May 26, 2020

Meeting reports

May 19

We played:

May 26

King James I of Scotland

We played:


The stay at home order is now a safer at
home advisory
. I think this means that as long as we are
fewer than 10 people and can maintain social distance, we can

Obviously, we can’t maintain social distance with 10 people in
my dining room. But we’re currently meeting with two, and I think
we’d be ok with one or two more, if there were people who wanted
to come. Of course, I trust that none of you would come if you
were sick, or had recently been exposed to someone who was.

So, let me know by Monday night if you want to come on
Tuesday. If too many people want to come, I’ll tell the later
responders that they missed their chance.

The meetings are on Tuesdays at 7:45 PM, at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

Another option would be to find an outdoor space, where the
distancing would be easier, and even if it weren’t, the wind would
disperse the viral load faster. But this raises logistical issues
like chairs and lighting and weather. But if people really wanted
to deal with those issues, we probably could.

News of the week of May 12, 2020

Meeting report

Fresco of Agnus Dei in Greek Catholic Cathedral of Hajdudorog

We played:


We’re meeting with only “family” until this situation loosens
up a little. As soon as gatherings of fewer than 10 people are
allowed again, we will resume meeting for all who will on Tuesdays
at 7:45 pm.