Thursday, December 30, 2010
The Last Two Days
This week's the annual Reno Chamber Music Festival, a marathon event featuring nine concerts in four days. In the past, they've done seven concerts in four days. One year, Gary and I actually attended all seven, but this was sufficiently grueling that we've scaled back and now pick and choose concerts according to the performers. This year, we're attending five concerts. We went to two yesterday and two today, and we'll go to another tomorrow.
Unfortunately -- for us, anyway -- yesterday and today's concerts were held in a church way south of here. (Reno money has migrated south, and of course the festival organizers want lots of rich people to come, so it makes sense to have a venue in their neighborhood.) The church is about a mile from the fanciest mall in town, so Gary and I have made it a tradition, on two-concert days down south, to shop and eat between concerts.
During the first concert yesterday, it started to snow. By the time we left the church, it was really snowing. We drove to the mall and shopped. I got two comfy cotton-knit cardigans on sale at Orvis, and a pair of Isotoner gloves on sale at Dillards. Luckily, I was wearing my mother's down parka with the fake-fur-trimmed hood, so I could bundle up between shops. (It's an open-air mall, and it's huge.) Then we ate dinner at the brew-and-burger place there. Partly because I'd been wandering around in the snow for a while, I ate far too much: a large plate of fish and chips followed by a bizarre dessert, a pizza cookie type thing, basically a huge chocolate chip cookie served hot out of the oven in a small pan. We were supposed to split this concoction, but it was too sweet for Gary, so I ate most of it.
Then we got back in the car to go back to the church for the second concert. It wasn't snowing by then, but everything had frozen into the proverbial skating rink. We were approaching an intersection when an SUV lost control and barreled in front of us (missing us by a few feet) and up onto the curb. Jeepers.
My little Ford Escort isn't crazy about bad weather, and getting to the church would have been pretty nerve-wracking even without the SUV near-miss. By the time we got back, we'd decided to leave our car at the church overnight and get a ride home with a friend who has 4WD, not to mention a lot of experience driving in snow.
That plan worked out well. She dropped us off last night and picked us up at eleven this morning for today's two concerts at noon and seven. The roads had cleared overnight, so my car was fine to drive again. After the first concert, I dropped Gary at the mall so he could see a movie (the new True Grit, which he liked but thinks would have been too brutal for me; we've recently seen together, and both loved, Black Swan and The King's Speech). Because we had so much time before the second concert, I dashed back up north to my gym, where I swam for an hour to stretch out my back and burn off even a crumb of the cookie monster from last night.
There's a Japanese restaurant at the mall, so Gary and I reconvened there for dinner. He'd suggested either Italian or the brew place again, but I wanted something healthy, with a menu relatively devoid of dairy and gluten. We had a large but healthy dinner of miso soup, salad, edamame, and sushi. It hit the spot! Also, the restaurant served green tea flavored with brown rice, which sounds bizarre but is absolutely delicious. I know green tea is good for me, but it usually tastes like grass. This had a wonderful nutty flavor. I loved it so much that I used my BlackBerry's Amazon app, right there in the restaurant, to order some for home.
I knit through all four concerts. I'm well begun on Christmas knitting for next year! During intermissions, various people asked me what I was working on. I hope no one thinks it's rude to knit during concerts, but I can actually concentrate better when my hands are busy.
Most of the music, as usual, has been wonderful. Alas, neither Gary nor I enjoy the longest piece on today's program, Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. The story behind the composition is indeed stirring, but the composition itself just doesn't do anything I ask of music. (After the concert, Gary and I both found ourselves wondering how many people claim to like this piece simply because they think they should on humanitarian grounds.)
Tomorrow we're going to an afternoon concert -- this one will be at the university, blessedly close to home -- and then spending a quiet evening at home. We were invited to a friend's house, but it's a bit far. I like just staying home on New Year's, which is my least favorite holiday in most of its public forms, although our friend's party would have been fun if we'd had the energy to get there. After all those concerts, though, I'd rather stay in. The cats are starting to forget what we look like!