News of the week of June 1, 2021


We meet on Tuesdays at 7:45 pm. Our regular host, Stuart, has another commitment this week, so the Tuesday, June 8, meeting will be at Wendy Grey’s in Newton Corner.

Please let both me and Wendy know if you’re coming.

News of the week of May 25, 2021


For the time being, we will be meeting at Stuart’s in Somerville on Tuesday evenings at 7:45 pm.

Please let both me and Stuart know if you are planning to come.

News of the week of May 18, 2021


For the time being, we will be meeting at Stuart’s in Somerville on Tuesday evenings at 7:45 pm.

Please let both me and Stuart know if you are planning to come.

News of the week of May 11, 2021


For the time being, we will be meeting at Stuart’s in Somerville on Tuesday evenings at 7:45 pm.

Please let both me and Stuart know if you are planning to come.

News of the week of May 4, 2021


We are meeting regularly at Stuart’s place in Somerville. Let both me and Stuart know if you are planning on coming.

News of the week of April 27, 2021


We will be meeting weekly, generally at Stuart’s place in Somerville. But Wendy Grey has offered her home in Newton Corner as a backup if the Somerville location doesn’t work some week. So the next meeting will be at Stuart’s on May 4 at 7:45 pm.

Note that for a number of reasons, most notably that the giant notebooks with all the music we’ve played for the last two decades are in storage, we can’t be a dropin group these days. You can still come to one meeting without committing to coming to any other meetings, but you do have to let me (and Stuart, see below) know that you’re coming. And not coming after saying you will is also a faux pas.

I need to know who is coming because I have to plan music and get it printed. Stuart needs to know because he wrangles parking and seating. So copy him when you send email about whether you’re coming.

Printing music

Printing is being more of a problem than I would have expected. So if you’re planning to come, and have a good printer, I would appreciate if you would let me know so I can have you do some of the printing for that meeting.

When I first thought about having these meetings without my giant notebooks, I thought one solution would be to have them in a place with good WIFI and have every bring a tablet or a laptop computer. If you had the site you would have a list of all the pieces for the number of parts we were thinking about.

But nobody seemed very enthusiastic about that solution. If anyone has an idea for how to get people more enthusiastic, it would save a lot of printing trouble.

Back to normal schedule

I have reasonable confidence that I will be back in my home with my notebooks and instruments 2-4 months after our contractor gets a building permit. The current roadblock seems to be the structural engineer, who hasn’t completed the work that would enable putting in the application. After that there are potential roadblocks while the city and the insurance company work out whether the application should be approved or modified. I do not know (nor does the contractor) why this hasn’t happened yet, so I can’t give you even an approximate estimate for when we can go back to our usual place.

News of the week of April 20, 2021

Great Fire Londons


We were all really happy to be back together, so when I said, “Do it again next week?”, there was a unanimous chorus of, “Yes.”

So we’ll be meeting at Stuart’s place again on April 27 at 7:45 pm.

Many people seem to have never thought about the organizational difficulties of having a drop in group, and even if you thought about it when we were meeting at my place with all the notebooks of all the pieces we’ve played for the last two decades, they are worse if we’re meeting somewhere else.

So you have to let me know you’re coming, and you have to show up if you’ve said you’re coming.

Let’s meet


Can we meet?

I was fully vaccinated as of April 15. I believe this article means that vaccinated people who aren’t in close contact with high-risk unvaccinated people can meet indoors in small groups. We may want to still wear masks when we sing.

I know some of the other people in the group are also vaccinated or about to be so, and presumably in a small number of months most of us will be.

Where can we meet?

I don’t have a firm date about when I can move back to my place. I can imagine inviting people to come over when there’s plumbing and electricity, even if I don’t have furniture or music, but I don’t have a good date for that, either. Things are finally happening (see picture of my new living room floor, above) so it might be sooner than you might expect from how long it’s taken for anything to happen. I wouldn’t expect it before May, though.

Stuart has volunteered to invite vaccinated people to his house in Somerville. So let’s try for a first meeting on Tuesday, April 20 at 7:45 pm.

What day of the week?

It’s been Tuesdays for close to two decades now, so I’d need a good reason to change, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. If you’re serious about wanting to come, and Tuesday doesn’t work for you, let me know what days would work and we’ll see what we can do.

Let me know

Let me know if you want to come Tuesday, and I’ll send you Stuart’s address. I would suggest bringing a laptop or tablet, but Stuart says he can print out some parts.

If we want to have beer and food, we should bring some.

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