Sorry for delay! Laptop was wonky.
Monday, July 30: Took the boys for their annual eye appointments. Gaze’s vision has changed only a little, but Taz’s has improved considerably. They both need new glasses, so we stopped by Wendy’s for fast food and then by Wal-Mart, which I’ve found to have a good/cheap eyeglass service (Consumer Reports agrees with me, by the way, if you want to look it up). Gaze ate a burger called Son of Baconator – I think it’s two patties, with bacon. No cheese, because he hates cheese – one of these days I’ll make sure to have his DNA checked, since both The CEO and I love cheese! – but extra bacon. Gaze loooooves bacon SOTD: Silences. Wonderful stuff. Gaze started Official Football Practices for the middle school team this evening… all 92 pounds of him, sigh. Because of the eye appointments, I missed helping with band camp today. Thunderstorms this evening.
The marching band show this year is called “Mutiny!” and includes the Introit from Mozart’s Requiem, snippets of soundtrack from various “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, and other songs called “Swashbuckler” and “Water.”
Tuesday, July 24 – A little cooler today, which is good because we’ve got band camp the rest of the week. In the past, band camp has been “away,” either at a college campus or something like a church camp site, but for the past two years has been held at our high school, on the band practice field, for financial reasons. That is, we’re saving money for band trips rather than spending it on band camp housing and meals; the kids sleep at home, of course, and because of the lunch program through the school, lunch is provided. (When I was in marching band, eons ago, we always did band camp at our high school as well. However, instead of a nice grassy practice field, we marched ON THE ASPHALT PARKING LOT. In AUGUST. These kids don’t know how lucky they are – we only got onto actual grass for two hours on the very last day of band camp, after the football players went home.)
Band camp starts at 7:30 am, and the director has always insisted to his students that “15 minutes early is on time, on time is late,” So the kids show up at 7:15 and dump their backpacks and music and instruments in the band room, so that at 7:30 sharp, they’re outside with the band staff, stretching and doing some warmups. Meanwhile, the band parents are:
- stocking the two big coolers with Gatorade and then topping them with ice
- filling two of the medium coolers with ice
- transporting all the coolers to the field
- toting hand wipes, paper towels, the first aid kit, and the boxes of granola bars to the field
- unlocking the storage shed and setting up both shelter tents and folding tables
- doing any necessary errands, such as picking up batteries for the microphones or the infamous Dr. Beat (I hate that thing!)
After warmups, the drum majors lead the band from the band room parking lot to the practice field. What’s next is marching drill; they spend about half an hour in a parade block, marching to commands called by the drum major (forward march, right slide, backward march, halt, half turn to the right, left flank, etc.). After this there’s a drilldown – if you screw up, you’re out, but the last person in wins a small prize. Bookworm won a drilldown at band camp last year, and she was the only junior to win one that year. She was the only woodwind player to win one in four years!
Then they go to blocking out the drill on the field, first just marching until it’s solid, then with music. At 10 am, band members get snack and Gatorade, followed by more marching. At 11:30 they knock off for lunch in the cafeteria, and then must be on the stage with instruments, ready for music rehearsal, by 12:30 pm. Warmups and playthroughs of music are followed by sectional rehearsals. At 3 pm, they head back to the field for more drill. Dinner is at 4:30 pm, they’re back on the field at 5:30. Then they finish up at 8:30.
At which point the band parents take down the tent shelters and tables and store them in the shed, lock the stadium gates behind them, take the trash to the Dumpster, carry all other stuff back to the band room, and collect their kids to take home.
It’s a long, long day. SOTD, by the way, has been Moschino Funny! For a refreshing grapefruit-rose thing, it sticks around a long time.
Wednesday, July 25 – Hotter today. So far no serious illnesses with the band kids – last year we had to take two kids to the ER with what turned out to be 1) a chronic stomach disorder and 2) a case of exercise on an empty stomach complicated by hyperventilation due to nerves. This year we’ve had one kid with sun-exposure rash on her eyelid (last year it was everywhere she failed to apply sunscreen, a fairly serious rash), and the chronic-stomach disorder kid threw up once. And one kid has a venomous-spider bite, but we don’t know if she got it at camp or at home, and her doctor’s treating her. And one kid who’s been a dancer since she was quite young has chronic ankle problems exacerbated by the marching. SOTD: Olympic Orchids Golden Cattleya. Dabbing it on while sitting in the band parent area caused one of the boosters to cough and complain that he has asthma. (I’m not sure I’m buying that. I dabbed only twice, about fifteen yards away from him. This guy is a college student with a younger sister in the band, a penchant for overdramatization and a need for attention.)
Every year at band camp, I’m amazed to see how many adults are here to assist the director, Mr. Butler, with the on-field instruction. For general on-field help, there’s a retired band director, one of the middle school directors, and a local college student who spent a couple of years marching with a drum and bugle corps (the closest thing there is to a “professional” marching band). In addition, there is a color guard instructor, a percussion (front ensemble) instructor, and a drumline instructor. This year we also had a recently graduated student helping with the drumline, since we lost so many seniors last year and so many of the drumline kids are new to marching with drums. I think back to my own marching band days – and we had nothing like this. We had Mr. King, our director, and we had a former flag squad member who had marched in her college band come by to help the flag squad with their routines, and that was it.
After Bible study, I dropped by the field to see if the band boosters needed any help tearing down. They didn’t, so I stood and watched the last fifteen minutes of practice. Later, my daughter chastised me for coming to watch: “Mom, you know parents aren’t supposed to come watch practice unless you are helping with band camp!” I told her that I had been helping with camp, and she reminded me that I wasn’t scheduled for the evening shift, and it would be confusing for students to see a parent show up at that time frame. Grrr. Miss Drill Sergeant. I pointed out that nobody other than the band booster president knew whether I was scheduled to work or not, and she conceded that point. But she’s very sternly asked me not to do it again. (Wow.)
Thursday, July 26 – Slightly cooler again. The CEO has been fighting off a cough for a couple of weeks now, and he says he doesn’t feel well – that his heart is beating too fast and he can’t seem to get a good breath. I told him that before his classes start at Virginia Tech is a good time to see the doctor, so he went this morning. While he was there his heartbeat sped up considerably, and so he was sent to the hospital for a CAT scan – which did not show the blood clots that his doctor was expecting. Turns out he’s got a cold, and his doctor put him on beta blockers to deal with the fast heartbeat.
The marching is going surprisingly well. They’ve got three of their four pieces blocked out and have started playing as well as marching the entire show to that point. I can remember band camps in the past when they’ve only gotten only half the show blocked by the end of the week. SOTD: Jacomo Silences. Beautiful, coolsmoothgreenserene. No complaints of asthma among any band boosters.
We did have a bit of kerfuffle today – the former DCI member who’s supposed to be helping with general marching has been full of frustrated “can’t you get this, you idiots?” attitude all week. I know he’s there to point out places where the lines are crooked and where band members are marching out of step and so on, and that is necessary. But every single thing out of his mouth has been negative, and we parents were starting to hear comments from the kids like, “Tim? I never pay attention to him,” and “All Tim says is, ‘Blah blah blah, you suck,’” and (worse) “Tim is a ***k.” So I mentioned to Mr. Butler privately that I thought Tim’s constant negativity was affecting his ability to connect with the kids, and Mr. Riddle and Mr. Anderson mentioned to Mr. Butler that they could hardly get a word in edgewise with the kids because Tim was constantly telling them how awful they were, and Jolly mentioned to Mr. Butler that the kids were starting to gripe. Nothing changed until our band booster president insisted that she would not be signing Tim’s check unless he reined in his attitude. Mr. Butler is right that the band members need to hear an honest critique – but an honest critique is fair and balanced, and I think Tim (who is pretty young, and accustomed to working with people who can march at a high level of competence) got so focused in on what needed to be fixed that he forgot that there was a lot of good stuff happening on the field too. In any case, he did spend a few minutes in the afternoon assuring the kids that they were doing very well, particularly for the first week of marching together, and particularly for having so many newbies, and everyone sighed in relief.
Went to praise band practice this evening to prep for singing at church this Sunday. Drove home with the windows down, and the air was so soft, and so full of a floral sweetness I couldn’t identify. Honeysuckle is long gone, and the wild sweet peas and Queen Anne’s Lace blooming now don’t have scent that carries over open fields. I don’t know what it was.
Friday, July 27 – Hot again. SOTD: DSH La Fete Nouvelle, which smells like summer to me – a soft hay floral with sweet musk, so pretty and comfortable. Today was the day of the “senior prank,” in which this year’s seniors went down to the field and spelled out “2013” in plastic dot markers, then changed the sideline markers so that they were out of place. Later, they attacked Mr. Butler with Silly String. Still later, they attempted to change the last set of the day to spell out “2013” with bodies on the field, but Mr. Butler caught wind of it and nixed it.
The show looks good. We still have some newbie marchers who are struggling – a baritone player and two clarinets, and several of the color guard. Only three of the twelve color guard are returning marchers, so they’ve got some work to do! PETBoy’s sister, who made it through band camp last year playing alto sax before quitting, is now marching as guard and doing very well. She seems to be enjoying herself this year.
Parents were invited to view the final field session from 5:30 to 8:30 this evening, so The CEO and Taz and I went to watch. We hadn’t been there long before The CEO started to feel awful, gasping for breath, so we had to leave. We swung by the house and dropped Taz off, swung by the middle school and asked one of the other football parents to take Gaze home after practice, and then we went to the ER. Turns out that The CEO had had an adverse reaction to the beta blockers, and the ER doctors gave him a breathing treatment and some prednisone to reduce inflammation in his lungs. We were home by 1 am and he was feeling better. It was a scary evening.
Saturday, July 28 – Hot/muggy, sprinkling rain. Feels like the tail end of July, all right. I went by the high school to turn in a form concerning congratulations to two special seniors (you know who!) in the football program, and managed to catch the band seniors in their uniforms. I got several pictures, and then went by the football practice to pick up Gaze. SOTD: Jovan Musk for Women. Funny, you know, I’ve never really noticed the lily of the valley in this before, but it’s really coming through today. Aldehydes, rose, a soft skin musk, and that muguet. Gosh, this one’s pretty.
The CEO is feeling much better today. I think the prednisone is making a great deal of difference. He was also prescribed an inhaler with albuterol, the same treatment that asthma patients get. His doctor is puzzled at the idea of his developing asthma at this point in his life; apparently that’s unusual. He’s never smoked, but he has been exposed to a number of pesticides/herbicides. I am starting to fear that exposure to my perfume may have had some effect as well.
PETBoy came over in the afternoon and watched a movie with Bookworm, but I think she fell asleep on his shoulder. The CEO’s sister J is visiting from Atlanta, so she came over and had dinner with us while The CEO and Gaze went to a Salem Red Sox game.
Sunday, July 29 – Warm but cloudy. Church service went well, and again The CEO feels much better. SOTD: Ines de la Fressange, the Calice Becker one in the octagonal bottle. It occurs to me that I’ve never written a full review of it, and I should. You can still find it at places like Parfum1 for a song, and it’s very pretty.