Phew! Somehow it's December already, and I've been (as usual) horrible at keeping up with this page. So I'll try to fix some of that now. The summer was, to put it bluntly, awful - far too many premature deaths, which made July quite a tearful time. Friends old and new, but all much too young; two at 24, one 27, one 42, and all missed by many. The closest to home was Margaret Bradley, whom you may have come across elsewhere on this site and, in all probability, in the news this summer. See pictures from high school here. On 30 October, Seth Ament, the Colorado Quartet, and I performed a memorial concert in Woods Hole, which was attended by many friends, teachers, and family members, to help raise money for a scholarship in her memory. I went off of running for a while after her death (for those of you who didn't know her, she was a sub-3-hour marathon runner...), but am slowly getting moving again. For an update from my last ramble, the Boilermaker was a bit nasty - hot, crowded, and slow. It was tremendous fun except the actual running, though (caravanning, overnighting, petting a cow, post-race beer party...), so I'll do it again anyway. We got the news the day after arriving home from that, so it's all rather unfortunately linked in my mind. I was thinking as I stood at the starting line, "What am I doing here, running is Margaret's thing..." Bad July. Very bad.

Right. On to more cheerful topics. Obviously, the school year is well underway (hell, the first semester's nearly over), and in fact the Wellesley gang just had their fall recital, which went quite well. I've got a nice new bunch this year at my two schools, 9 beginners and 5 new-to-me kids, plus my usual gang from the past couple of years. It's amazing to me that two years ago some of these kids could barely hold the thing, and now they're shifting, they can vibrate, they can actually play the viola! Makes me feel like I'm finally passing on some of what was given to me. Chamber music is alive and well, I'm coaching two groups again, and my own is rolling along nicely - we've had a few rather interesting programs lately, with such oddities as Nielsen and Gliere duos, a Hummel clarinet quartet, and Bach-through-the-lens-of-Mozart. Good stuff - I have to say, it's been enlightening rummaging around in the dusty corners of the repertoire. Yeah, some of it's junk and deserves such treatment, but there are some really fabulous little-known pieces rattling around out there, and we've dug some of them up. Hmmm, perhaps a few too many metaphors...

Oh yes, and then there came kittens. Yup, kittens! There's a large population of feral cats in this neighborhood, and a sweet-but-scaredy-cat who'd been hanging around all summer deposited a couple of small furballs under the hydrangeas in Kate's backyard. Her roommate found them and brought them inside, and we all became "mommy" to the 2-week-old babies. This involved bottle-feeding (their ears wiggle!), butt-wiping (who knew kittens can't go potty by themselves?), and the oh-so-onerous chore of playing with them. :-) They went from fit-in-your-hand can't-even-stand helpless infants to torpedos in about two weeks, and before you know it they were litter-trained, then weaned, and all of a sudden I couldn't keep the little boy (roommates...) and couldn't talk anyone else into taking him and so he's gone to someone I don't know and I miss the little booger. :-( Kate's keeping the little girl though; her name is Jezebel now, and she has the biggest eyes you've ever seen. She likes to pat your cheek and give kisses, and is generally a total love-bug. But I still miss "The Burrito" (that's what he looked like as an anemic, apathetic 2-week-old). Sigh.

So anyway, happy holidays of any and all sorts (anybody remember how Festivus works?), and I'm still looking for someone to buy a viola, so if you or anyone you know needs one, let me know!

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