Tootsie Rehearsals Week 2




**Disclaimer: The content of this post reflects my own personal views, opinions, and experiences.
This post does NOT express the views or opinions of my employer.**

Note:
This week I had a family emergency, which I do not want to discuss at this time so please do not ask.
I wrote this post BEFORE that emergency occurred.
Due to these circumstances, I may be posting less often for a few weeks, or with less content because I will be helping my family during a difficult time.
Thank you for your understanding and please know that at some point regular posting will resume.


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Monday was my first day off on tour! Woohoo!

My friend Molly, a drummer that I worked with on the Ruby Princess, lives in Buffalo and came to get me for brunch!
Of course neither of us checked to see if the cafe we wanted to hit was open ^^; lol
But Molly knew of several other good cafes in the area, and it didn't take us long to find another!

We went to Tipico, which had a great selection of coffee and a pretty exciting menu of tasty treats to try.
There were a lot of vegan options, and since I'd had my heart set on a lox bagel I opted for the "vegan lox", which was large carrots sliced, cooked, and marinated in a variety of sauces and spices to taste similar to smoked salmon. Served with sprouts, avocado, dill, capers, fig cashew sauce, and pickled red onions on toasted sourdough. It was delicious!



While we ate we caught up with each other. Molly wanted to know all about tour life, and although there's not much to tell yet I shared what's been up so far. She told me about what she's been up to, considering secondary careers mostly, just like the rest of us who learned very quickly that the arts could not weather a pandemic very well. We talked about the other members of our Ruby Princess all-female band, what we'd heard from them lately and how we wished they could be there with us today :)

After brunch we walked around and explored some of the local shops. It being Monday, a lot of shops were closed, but we enjoyed browsing the ones that were open and that had local crafts and goods on display. In one shop we were greeted by this dapper young man in a tie. How professional!



Along our way Molly pointed out some places she recommended for meals while I'm in town. I took note of a ramen bar, and a hot dog place, and another great coffee shop. It's unlikely that I'll be able to visit all of these without gaining 500lbs, but I certainly want to enjoy what Buffalo has to offer as much as I can! We stopped in a local organic grocery and both got big giant cookies.
Here we are getting ready to chow down!



Too soon it was time for me to return to the hotel so I could deal with some non-tour issues that had come up during the day. We promised to meet again for wings next Monday. Man, it was so good to see Molly in person!! I'm so glad she made time to visit with me today!
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Tootsie Rehearsals Week 1




**Disclaimer: The content of this post reflects my own personal views, opinions, and experiences.
This post does NOT express the views or opinions of my employer.**

I woke up in the hotel in Buffalo, a little confused about where the heck I was.
I'd been dreaming that someone stole my trombones (this has been an ongoing theme lately) and I was trying to get them back. Yay stress dreams.

Our rehearsal was delayed by about an hour, so we were meeting at 11 instead of 10.
This was actually convenient for me to run one small errand, although I'd have to get an Uber to do it.
I scheduled the Uber for 9:50, got dressed, and went to find breakfast.

Hotel breakfast was very nice, the usual stuff: oatmeal or cereals, misc fruit and coffee and a waffle machine and whatnot.
I got myself some oatmeal and coffee, but brought it back up to my room to have with the Greek yogurt I'd bought yesterday.
At some point I'll want to make my own breakfasts, certainly not all hotels provide meals. But for now, oatmeal is oatmeal no matter who makes it so I may as well eat theirs. And as for coffee, hotel coffee can be nice sometimes too :)

After breakfast I just kinda hung out until it was time for my errand.
Chatted with the Uber driver on the way. It was only a mile and a half, and normally I would have walked it, but because this was so close to rehearsal time I wanted to play it safe.

After just a few minutes, we arrived!



This is BreadHive! It's an employee-owned co-op, meaning the owners work in the store each day and every employee has the potential to become an owner. They currently have eight owners, and it's also possible to invest in their bakery (don't ask me how, this seems complicated)

Whatever they're doing seems to be working, I mean look at that bread!
They only have fresh-baked bread available starting at 10am, which is when our rehearsals usually start. Which is why when our first rehearsal was conveniently delayed, I realized this would be my best chance to get fresh, local bread to enjoy this week!
Hence the special trip and the Uber.

I'd placed my order in advance, and got a "westside sourdough" and a soft sourdough pretzel.





Back at the hotel I cut the loaf in half (mutilated it! Should probably get a bread knife) and put half of it in the freezer, and the pretzel in a ziploc.
Then it was off to rehearsal.
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Tootsie: Day One





Another night of fitful sleep.

In the morning I got up and had breakfast, staring out at what used to be my pollinator garden and drinking my coffee slowly because my heart was already pounding. I managed to distract myself with some stupid YouTube videos and a little light cleaning before Jameson got up. As he was getting showered and having breakfast I completed my packing, cramming the last items into my backpack.

A little after 11 I was kinda pacing around, so Jameson asked if I'd like to go to the airport and I said yes.
I hate waiting, I'm terrible at it. I want to spend every possible moment with Jameson, but I also know from experience that dragging these moments out only makes it hurt more when we finally have to pull apart.

So he drove me to the airport, and we chatted about this and that. He'll be in rehearsals for RENT all week, and I'm hoping so hard that the kidney stone does NOT move up until his surgery. I hate that he still has to worry about it.

He parked in the temp parking and helped me with my luggage, waiting for me to check my large suitcase (41 pounds, yay!) and walking me right up to the PreCheck terminal. GOSH, I love my boyfriend. In that moment I felt like there was lead in my legs and my heart was being wrung out like a dishrag. I didn't want to cry. We hugged tightly, and he doesn't want to hug much lately so this was a big deal, and I didn't want to let go. But I also didn't want to hurt him by clinging, so we let go of each other and I promised we'd see each other again before we know it.

And I walked through the terminal and waved goodbye, and that was that.

Once Jameson got out to the car he wrote this up:



Have I mentioned how amazing he is? And how lucky I count myself every day to have found him in this crazy world?
It hurts so much right now, to be apart. But we did agree, that day over conveyor belt sushi, when we first started dating. And for eight years, we have been there for each other, and taken things day by day, just as he described. So to best honor the pain of being apart, to best cope with it and make our being apart worthwhile, I will try not to dwell, try not to mope, and try to enjoy the journey, knowing we'll be there for each other even hundreds of miles apart, and we'll be together again sooner than we think.

At the airport I did airport-things: wandered around, ate an overpriced sandwich, played on my phone. Before boarding started I went up to the JetBlue kiosk to ask about my trombone and the possibility of putting it in one of the overheads. To my relief they said there would be plenty of overhead room and I was welcome to try. I thanked them profusely. You might not believe how much grief I've gotten for trying to bring the trombone as carry on over the years. Any time I can do it without a fight, I'm deeply grateful.

The flight was quick and easy. I hate flying and was nervous, but tried to remind myself that I'm about to be doing an awful lot of flying and I'd better suck it up. In Buffalo I caught an Uber and got to the hotel around 5:30pm, where I checked in and unpacked a bit before going to get my nose-hole swabbed for covid purposes. This was my first time getting the DEEP sinus swab, and man, that really IS uncomfortable! Again, I'd better get used to it, because it's going to be a weekly occurrence.

After that I got an email that we were allowed to drop our instruments off at the theater if we'd like, so I gathered up my trombone, mutes, etc and headed over. We're rehearsing in a smaller theater nearby, and then moving to the Shea in a few days. But I had to pass the Shea theater on the way, and couldn't resist taking a picture. Because, oh my god, this is actually happening!



At the theater Talitha let me in (she's our Music Coordinator). We've talked a lot via email but have never met...she's the one who initially reached out to hire me. It was great to finally meet her in person! Inside the keyboardists were plugging away, they have a lot to rehearse apparently so I tried not to interrupt even though hearing the music make me pretty excited! My friend Josh is playing the Key 1 book, and he had just enough time during a rest to wave quickly before going back at it. I dropped my things and scooted out of the way. I wonder what rehearsals will be like tomorrow!

Outside I realized it was nearly 7pm and I was STARVING. I wandered around and found a poke bowl place that turned out to be pretty dang good. I got "bamboo rice", tuna, beets, sweet potato, seaweed salad, and cucumber. I was in a root vegetable mood.



Once full, I set myself to finding groceries. I had originally planned to hit a Target with Yael (trumpet), but she wasn't feeling it so I decided to walk to a Tops grocery instead. Tops ain't great in my mind, it's kind of like a Food Lion or Price Chopper, but I only really needed a handful of things. Actually, it's kind of too early to know what I need!

I did enjoy the walk though. It was very nostalgic. This is how I got groceries for five years with the circus: walking everywhere through heat and snow and rain, walking through neighborhoods and parks and rail yards, seeing some parts of each city that are off the beaten path. On this particular walk I was treated to a lot of old Victorian and Gothic homes, some with fantastic stained glass, gorgeous carvings of swans and gargoyles and flowers on their wooden awnings, and wildly unusual paint jobs (magenta, puce, etc) that drew even more attention to just how special each house was. I wanted to take pictures but it was too dark, plus these are people's homes.

I was strolling and feeling the cool evening air, savoring that strong shot of nostalgia from circus days gone by and wishing badly that Jameson could be with me, when I stepped on something weird. Looking down, I saw that I was standing among a lot of horse chestnuts, fallen from a nearby tree.



This is important. It's important to me, anyway.
When I was little--I mean VERY little, like 3 or 4--my mom would take me to the local library where there was a chestnut tree. We'd bring a wicker basket, and we'd gather as many chestnuts as we could. One of my strongest childhood memories is how they felt in my hands, smooth and slippery, flat on one side, like a very satisfying pebble. Back home we'd use them as a counting tool for me; I learned my numbers partially because my mom made me sit there and count them all out. Of course this part was way less enjoyable than gathering the chestnuts, but I never held it against them! I loved them.

Today--on the day I arrive in Buffalo, nervously preparing to begin a new job and wondering what tomorrow will hold--today of all days, I just so happened to walk down a random sidestreet, and just so happened to find myself under a chestnut tree.

It's important.

I put some chestnuts in my pocket and continued on. I got to the Tops and started going up and down the aisles, realizing that I had no clue what to get. I knew I wanted fresh fruit at least, so got some apples and oranges, then also some green beans because since I have a full-on kitchen I may as well have some actual vegetables. Oh! I forgot to mention the hotel room! It's GIGANTIC, with it's own separate living room, a small dining room table, a full-size fridge, a stovetop, and even a dishwasher! I was absolutely not expecting such a nice room! The bedroom and bathroom are fairly standard hotel fare, just larger than I'd expected.

Anyway, back to Tops. I ended up getting fruit, green beans, beets, Triscuits, pre-cooked rice cups, turkey, eggs, Greek yogurt, a small jar of almond butter, coffee, ketchup, Italian seasoning, and a box of Clipper's strawberry tea just because I was shocked to find it (they used to be a UK-only tea but apparently not any more!). Just my luck, this particular grocery was out of both totes and plastic bags, so I had to use paper bags without handles and carry them all the way back to the hotel.

Another lesson from the circus: ALWAYS bring a bag with you EVERYWHERE. You WILL need it. Laughed at myself for making such a rookie mistake.

By the time I got back it was around 8pm and I still hadn't unpacked, so I put everything away and then did a kind of scatterbrained unpacking, trying to consider that I'll be living here for more than two weeks but also trying to consider that everything will need to be packed up neatly again real soon. Eventually I at least had a bag ready for tomorrow's rehearsal, the food put away, and some clothing out for myself to wear. I took a long shower and made myself a cup of the strawberry tea, and tried to decompress.

Noticing that the blackout curtains to my room do not close fully, I went to the closet to get one of those hangers with the little pants-clips on them, and used that to pin the curtains shut. Ah, the little tricks you learn when you've traveled extensively.



I checked in with Jameson, who was just getting home from RENT rehearsal. I hope he is able to sleep well tonight, and not feel too lonely. I certainly feel lonely in this big hotel room. Of course I'm excited, and I'm nervous about tomorrow's rehearsal, and I'm still aching for my Favorite Person.

But after months of waiting, this journey has finally begun.
Whatever happens next, I'm as ready as I'll ever be, and I will do my best.

In closing, a TikTok I made for today:

TikTok by @tromboneontour

The Day Before




Tuesday.

Could hardly sleep.
After breakfast and fancy siphon coffee, started the bagel dough.
This time I was careful to measure out a QUARTER of the dough for raisin bagels!



Most of these will go in the freezer for Jameson and his dad to enjoy in mid-October.
I'm taking one with me to the airport tomorrow, though.

When the bagels were done I cleaned up, ate lunch, and REALLY packed ALL of my stuff except for the backpack stuff.
When I was finished I weighed my large suitcase: 40 pounds! Excellent!
I added one more "nice" outfit, a sweater, and my tortilla blanket. I mean why not. Once the trombone mutes are out of my suitcase I'll have SO MUCH ROOM. Plus ten pounds of leeway apparently!

While checking my luggage I realized that each of my luggage tags had a different address on them! LOL!
One was for Feld Entertainment/Ringling, one was for my parents' house, and the other was our old address in Orlando.
So, time for a final Target run. In addition to new luggage tags I got an extra stick of deodorant, a new hairbrush, a few extra pairs of underwear, some body wash for the guest bathroom, some of the spices I'd used the last of, and a mopey-looking Eeyore keychain to hold my car key (I don't have a spare key, Jameson will need to keep it). Back home I put everything away, then cleaned up the guest bedroom and started a final load of laundry.

Final this, final that. This is so weird. We haven't had a moment to think about anything, it seems, and now suddenly a tsunami of emotion is crashing down. This whole time I've been kind of in disbelief that this is actually happening. It is still unbelievable to me that someone would ask me to go out on tour again. I've been practicing and obviously taking it all very seriously, but part of me continued to suspect that I must be dreaming all of this up. Well today it feels very real.

The hardest part is upon us. The part where we have to say goodbye to each other for a long time.
I hate it SO MUCH. I wish with everything in me that he could come with me.
Yet he's doing extremely important stuff, too. Jameson is the reason we have a beautiful house to live in. His hard work has supported both of us ever since the circus closed. And he's got goals and dreams that he needs to solidify for himself, as well.

Personally, I'm trying to see this time apart as at least somewhat good. Maybe Jameson will be able to REALLY focus on himself (I mean, once all this kidney stone business is finally passed. PASSED, get it? C'mon, I gotta try to stay positive here!).
He hasn't been very satisfied with his work lately, and I'm hoping he can find a new creative outlet, or some new prospects, or something to really ignite his passion and enjoyment. It's been such a rough year for him...I just want him to find some joy, and peace, and fun.

But there are still hurdles ahead. After dinner the urologist called; Jameson's surgery is scheduled for Friday 10/8. We don't know what time yet. I'll be in rehearsals all day, but you can bet I'll be obsessively checking my phone. He already has someone to take care of him for the day of and the day after, and I have their contact info, and I will harrass them. Still, Jameson is certainly nervous and afraid. I absolutely would be. And I would want my Person around.

Fuuuuuuuuuuu.

Tonight Jameson had RENT rehearsal, so I had the house to myself. Before he left he watched as I watered the plants since he'll be the one doing it soon (not like it requires instruction) and I think i saw a little emotion on his face. It's sinking in for both of us, suddenly, tonight.

While he was out I folded my laundry, took a final shower (there's that "final" again), took photos of my covid vaccination card, uploaded my covid test results (negative), scrubbed the stovetop, made myself a cup of tea, and tried not to get emotional.

Tomorrow around 11 we will load up the car with my luggage, and Jameson will drive me to the airport.

Thus our solo adventures will begin.

Partial Resolution

Sunday. 24 hours until Jameson can FINALLY be seen for his kidney stones.

I haven't been able to sleep any later than 8:30 for this entire week.
That's still a lot more sleep than I'm used to enjoying, though!

After breakfast I make bagel dough, and this time I remembered to separate out a third of the dough for cinnamon raisin bagels.
(Wait, did I say a third? Uh oh.)
As the dough rose I mopped the tile in the kitchen and dining room, and watched a little gaming YouTube with Jameson.

I also got a great email update on my music for the show: the edits for the tenor parts are correct, and I do NOT need to bring the harmon mute (but at this point I'm bringing it anyway because now I feel bad about it.) I wrote back to thank the music director who sent the info, then updated my ipad to reflect the changes.

By that time the dough was about risen, so I punched it down and shaped it into eight little balls.

Or, I tried to shape it into eight little balls. This was a recipe for eight bagels. Why on earth did I separate out a THIRD of the dough for cinnamon raisin? It should have been a quarter, to get TWO bagels. Always gotta mess something up, don't I!

Well anyway, I ended up with seven bagels and a bagel mini-bun.
I was really careful this time to ignore the recipe any time it said, "Let rest for 10 minutes", because the problem last time was that I took too long to shape the dough, and I also handled the dough too much. Resolved not to make those mistakes again, started shaping the bagels right after the last dough ball was made.

Then I boiled the bagels in hot water and barley malt for one minute per side, brushed them with an egg wash, and added some toppings (no Everything seasoning this time because Jameson doesn't like everything bagels and these are technically for him and his dad.) Into the oven four at a time for 25 minutes.

They turned out WAY better than last time.



I don't know if you remember, but my cinnamon raisin bagels had stuck to the pan and were ruined last time.
This time they're damn near perfect.



Here's a reminder of my sesame bagels from my first attempt. Notice how flat and wrinkled it is.


...compared to today's attempt.


If you can't tell, I'm very pleased. I cut into the mini bagel-bun to taste, and the dough is lovely, the crust is chewy and perfect.
I really don't think they could have been much better. What a nice final bake before going out on tour!

After lunch I ran to Target for some cleaning supplies, want to make sure Jameson is well-supplied after I'm gone.
Plus, Target has the vampire Hershey Kisses I've been looking for! And black-and-orange-filled Junior Mints, too.

Back home I typed this up and practiced trombone for a bit while Jameson watched a Pink Floyd concert.
For dinner we had leftovers and just hung out.
It still feels weird to not be "doing" anything.

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Monday.

48 hours until I fly to Buffalo.
And time for Jameson's urologist appointment.

We both got up early, nervous. I ate breakfast and tried to distract myself with writing a letter to my grandparents, freezing some of the bagels, and making another packing TikTok:

TikTok by @tromboneontour


Part two:
TikTok by @tromboneontour


This was a two-parter because with only 48 hours left and the uncertainty of what will happen with Jameson, I am trying to wrap it up with these videos. Plus packing is just BORING. Certainly what people really want to see is all the stuff that will happen once I'm actually out there!

A little before noon I drove to a nearby CVS for my required covid test.
I waited in line for over twenty minutes, and was really stressed out because all of the testing notifications had said very clearly that you have to show up within 10 minutes of your test or it's CANCELLED. But once I got to the front, they didn't seem put out by the fact that I was late. I was given a bag with a swab, which I shoved up each nostril for fifteen seconds before dropping it into a vial with some fluid and screwing the cap on. Then I wiped everything down with some provided sani-wipes, and dropped my sample into a drop box. Done.

A 20-minute wait for a 3-minute process. 'Murica.

While I was doing that, Jameson was waiting nervously in his car for his appointment to start.
I was nervous for him, so when I got home immediately after eating lunch I got to work burning some of that nervous energy by cleaning the bathrooms, weeding around the house, and uploading my TikTok videos to other social media sites.

By the time Jameson messaged to say he'd gotten into an exam room, it was 90 minutes later and I was finished with all of my chores. There had been some confusion, and he'd been left waiting in his car for that ENTIRE TIME.

Have I mentioned that I HATE our healthcare system?

Regardless, he was still being seen finally, and we're both extremely grateful for that.
I was finishing up weeding at the back of the house when Jameson messaged to say they'd pulled the catheter out, pumped him with like 250g of fluid, and he'd peed it all back out, the smaller kidney stone coming with it. Yay!

But there's still one more stone in there.
So he's going to have to have surgery to get it out.
A week from now, when I'll be in the middle of rehearsals.
They're going to go up his "pee hole" with a camera and a laser. Use the camera to find the stone, use the laser to blast it. And then, hopefully, please God please, this will finally be done. I thought kidney stones were a thing that got resolved in a few days. This is now going to be at least a two week process.

Thankfully Jameson has a lot of great friends. They are going to coordinate rides for him on the day of his surgery, and keep an eye on him for 48 hours afterward. And they will keep me in the loop (or else!). I really, really hope everything goes well. I can't begin to tell you how much it upsets me that I won't be here on the day of his surgery, just to f---ing BE HERE. This is, like, the reason for being in relationships: to be there for the other person when they need you most. It makes me feel sick and ashamed to know that I'll be hundreds of miles away.

Yes, I know it's "ok" and it "happens" and lots of people deal with this same thing all the time. Trust me, at CapTel I listened in on phone conversations regarding situations like this on a daily basis, so I know it's very common. I'll get over it. Just right now, this is how I feel about it.

Jameson came home, we ordered pizza and did absolutely nothing. We've both been so tense with waiting and worrying; finally there's a solution being presented, and an end in sight.

Tomorrow is my last full day at home. Now that we know (or hope) that Jameson won't be admitted, I plan to make another batch of bagels, finish packing, do one last load of laundry, run through the show one more time...and then, not sure what I'll do after that. Jameson has RENT rehearsal at night, so maybe I'll go for a walk.

Southern Saturday




Saturday. Five days to go. Or four, depending on how you look at it.

I'm having trouble sleeping, can't imagine why.
The days leading up to Jameson's appointment are crawling like molasses.
He just wants the kidney stones OUT, and to get a normal life back.
I just want to know he'll be OK if I have to leave before everything is resolved.

Before eating breakfast I poured some buttermilk into a bowl
and dropped ten chicken legs in there to soak for tonight's "southern dinner".
The banana pudding looks set, I'll hold off on adding the whipped cream until the last minute
so it doesn't deflate throughout the day.
I wanted to prep the collards now too, but that should probably wait until after lunch.

After breakfast I made a quick packing TikTok:

TikTok by @tromboneontour



Then I forced myself to SIT DOWN and address my anxiety.

I tend to worry about things that are just not worth worrying about.
I looked myself in the figurative eye and asked, "What do you still need to do before you leave?"
Here is the answer:

  • Finish packing. (Can't do that yet because I'm still using a lot of stuff I'll be packing.)

  • Take the covid test. (It's scheduled, stop worrying about it.)

  • Clean the bathrooms. (You are saving this for Monday while Jameson is at his urology appointment so you can burn nervous energy.*)

  • Weed one more time. (see above comment, re: doing this on Monday*)

  • Make bagels. (You are doing this on Sunday/tomorrow and you'll have all day to do it.)

  • Check luggage weight. (You've already done this and are only at 33 pounds, you'll be fine.)

  • Cancel old health insurance plan. (Can't do this until Monday and it's one phone call.)

  • Check in for flight. (Obviously can't do this until the day prior.)

  • ...Jameson? (There's nothing you can do but wait and see.)

...I think that's it.
I don't know what I get so worked up about.
There is still plenty of time to do what I need to do.
And a lot of things are just out of my control, so there's no point worrying or feeling like I need to be doing something.

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After lunch Jameson started watching Tropic Thunder.
I didn't have any updates on my show music yet, so decided to get started on dinner prep.
First I whipped some cream, then folded it into the banana pudding mix that I made last night. It turned out looking like silky, pale banana cream goodness. Can't wait to eat it, even though that condensed milk will cause me pain!
Then I grabbed a glass bowl and layered it with Nilla Wafers, followed by a layer of sliced bananas, followed by a layer of pudding.
Repeated it twice more, and here was the result:



I put a lid on it for now but when it's served I'll top it with a little more pudding, crushed Nilla Wafers, and maybe some marachino cherries.

When that was done I made the batter blend for the KFC-knockoff air-fried chicken. It's just flour and a zillion different spices, measuring it out in advance savess me a lot of time later.

I found a recipe for "Cornbread For Two", it pretty much makes 2-4 cornbread muffins. I don't want us to have a lot of leftovers since we don't know what'll happen in coming days. Cornbread is easy, it's just a little flour, corn meal egg, milk, sugar, salt, baking powder, butter. I wrapped them in foil and will reheat them in the oven when it's dinnertime, maybe brushing them with a little maple syrup for fun.

Then it was time for the collards, which are the most time-consuming part of this meal.
While I washed and chopped the huge collard leaves, a smoked turkey wing boiled in a little water on the stove to create a broth. I added the collards along with seasoning salt, butter, sugar, a variety of spices, onion, and apple cider vinegar. They'll simmer on the stove for two hours.

By the time I was done Jameson's movie was over. Now all I have to do tonight for dinner is batter and air fry the chicken drumsticks, and crack open a can of blackeyed peas.

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Dinnertime, and most things came out "ok".



The batter for the chicken legs was not very good. If I try air fryer KFC again, I'd incorporate crushed cornflakes, or maybe something to aerate the batter more....baking powder maybe? I'm not sure. But it was floury and kinda bland.

The beans were whatever, being out of a can.
Cornbread, also "meh", kind of dry and not as good as others I've made.

But the collards...the collards!!
Oh my goodness, they were SO delicious.
Packed with smoky, rich broth flavor. Just a hint of heat from the pepper flakes. I think a Southern granny would be proud.
Even Jameson, who avoids vegetables, said he could eat the whole pot.
Making them with smoked turkey instead of ham hock made these much more healthy than usual, too.

Besides the collards, the banana pudding came out FANTASTIC.
I took two Lactaid so I could eat as much of it as possible.
Jameson said it was the best banana pudding he's ever had. Thanks Magnolia Bakery!



So, although not everything turned out as well as I would have liked, now I know I can make fantastic collards and epic banana pudding. Yay!

Tomorrow, Sunday, I'll be making my second attempt at bagels.
It'll be my last bake before going on tour.

Final Countdown Part 2

...(cont'd from 9/24)

Sorry everyone, I forgot that this was scheduled to post on 9/24 and not 9/25, so the entry went up unfinished.

After lunch on Friday I went back to the grocery for some things for Jameson, then came home and "deep-dusted" the house. Deep dusting involves actually taking stuff OUT of the bookshelves, like really going at it and dusting areas that I normally skip due to inconvenience. I want the house as clean as possible before I have to go, so Jameson can enjoy at least a week or two of a clean house before he doesn't clean for the next two months -_-.

I put the clean sheets back on the bed, folded my laundry, and vacuumed crumbs from under the counch cushions.
For dinner we had leftover manicotti and an episode of Great British Bake-Off.
Then I mixed together the banana pudding for tomorrow's dinner, then I tried to practice trombone but was again thwarted because MORE of my music looks wrong! Well, maybe not wrong, but "different", and the parts are labeled differently. I think what happened is, someone got confused between the original show music (which does call for bass trombone and which has different cuts) and the TOUR show music, and copied the wrong stuff into the wrong folder. Or something.

None of this is actually a problem right now. Nothing is going to be so drastically different that I won't be able to handle the changes if they're dropped on me in the first rehearsal. The main issues are that we don't want someone printing off the wrong parts too, so that the majority of my music is wrong at rehearsal. And there's also one piece in the updated folder that now calls for a harmon mute, which is a pretty large mute, and at this late date I'd have to either squeeze it into my luggage or overnight it.

Anyway, I emailed the music coordination team about it, and they've been so super responsive despite the fact that they've GOT to be insanely busy right now. If I don't hear from them, I'll just bring the mute and sacrifice some socks or something to make room for it.

Before going to bed I rescheduled my covid test for Monday instead of Sunday.
We're supposed to get the test done "Within 72 hours of travel, no earlier".
I had scheduled mine for 9/26 at noon. 72 hours from that is BEFORE my flight takes off. I don't want to risk a technicality; I rescheduled it for 9/27, same day as Jameson's urologist appointment, but earlier so I'll still be available to help him if needed.

Anyway that's the rest of that blog post that I forgot to add.

Final Countdown

Wednesday.

We are pretty much resolved to Jameson being seen on the 27th and no earlier.

He went today to get his imaging, and we checked out his guts and spinal column on my computer back at home. Cool!
Medical imaging is always interesting.

I've given up on getting my old computer repaired. I may as well save that money and deal with it after this tour, or after Jameson gets his medical bills.

After taking a VERY slow morning in which I considered, as much as possible without getting my heart rate up, what to do next, I decided the best thing I can do today is prep some things for packing, do what cleaning I can, and possibly gather some ingredients for making bagels again (I WILL have my second attempt come hell or high water). Also manicotti ingredients for tomorrow's dinner.

That decided, I got to work picking out clothing that I want to take on tour, ironing each piece of clothing, and watching TikTok videos on various folding techniques. Then I made a quick TikTok regarding the mini-items I'm taking on tour, because who doesn't like miniatures of everyday objects.

TikTok by @tromboneontour


The video took longer than planned because I still don't totally get TikTok, and then for some reason it uploaded without any of my added text or headers, so I had to do it all over again. By the time I was done goofing off, it was already late afternoon. Jameson was in a meeting (camera off, lying in bed), so I took myself to the grocery for manicotti ingredients, came home and ate dinner, and went into steno class.

So much for getting any cleaning done, or trombone practice for that matter.

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Thursday.

I woke up a little early so I could take my final two steno tests right after my cup of coffee.
All grades are supposed to be in by Friday. Our teacher has extended it to Sunday, but I am just so frustrated with how things turned out with the tests that I may as well end this now.

Test 1: 89
Test 2: 92

Great. Whatever.
I'm in the 100wpm class for a third semester. No big deal just hundreds of dollars down the drain.

A few deep breaths later, I cleaned up from breakfast, dusted everything in the common areas, got dressed, and drove over to the Orlando Premium Outlets. Before Jameson got kidney stones, I had planned a Retail Therapy Day for myself to look for new bras, a black shirt, a dress, and possibly a bathing suit. I don't technically "need" any of those things, but many of my bras are cheap and uncomfortable, I could use an extra black dress shirt on this tour, and since I ruined the new bathing suit I just bought recently I may as well see if I can find another. Really this is just my last chance to get out and give myself a distraction before I go into a frenzy of pre-tour housekeeping, and covid testing, and Jameson's urologist appointment, and then abandoning him to go on tour.

Shopping was less therapeutic than I hoped it would be, possibly because I didn't actually need the stuff.
I did get two new bras and some Yankee candles for Jameson, but by the time 1pm rolled around I was too hungry and cranky to continue.

Back home I unpacked and showed Jameson the goods, we lit a candle and I whipped up the manicotti.
It's a nice easy recipe: mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parm, parsley, an egg, and some spices.
Brown some beef or turkey, let it cool, and mix it into the cheese mixture.
Cook some manicotti noodles, let them cool, and fill them with the meat and cheese blend.
Put in a casserole dish and cover with marinara sauce.
Cook for 30 minutes, add cheese on top and broil to toast it.
Served with a salad.



After dinner I meant to practice trombone, but the touring company had sent out a music update and mine included bass trombone parts! After a small panic attack I wrote to inquire about this (am I doubling now? Lol) and quickly got a response that there had been an error and this would be resolved soon. Regardless, I ended up not practicing because there have been changes to the music that I don't have yet.

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Friday.
STRESS DREAMS.

I dreamed I couldn't find my trombone, and I had to use my large-bore, and the slide was absolutely terrible and I could barely get a sound out, and no one would help me look for my trombone. Then I was trying to take a bus back home because Jameson needed help, and the bus kept taking me to the wrong place and finally stopped so the driver could sit there and have a smoke while I was screaming and crying in the back that I had an emergency, please could we GO.

Argh.

Once I was fully awake I had breakfast and filled out an instrument insurance form, then shot out the door to get the back of my hair trimmed because it was already headed into mullet phase. While out I grabbed groceries for tomorrow's "southern dinner", which will be air-fried buttermilk chicken legs, slow-cooked collards with turkey necks, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. And banana pudding for dessert!

Back at the house I packed some more clothing, washed our sheets and a load of my own laundry, and swept and weeded the pool patio.
While out there I found a little gray rat snake, just a baby, hiding under a potted plant.



After lunch....(cont'd next post)

What is Normalcy

The crazy events of Saturday left me reeling. And I'm not even the one with the kidney stone.

First thing Sunday morning after making sure Jameson was still alive (he had a terribly rough night), I unpacked the new computer and got to work setting everything up. It only took about an hour because so much is stored in the ether any more.

After lunch I reinstalled my steno software and got it to recognize my machine, then did a little steno practice.
I should have done tests, but tbh even though I'M not the one who's sick, I'm terribly worried about Jameson and way too stressed and distracted with all that's going on. It's hard for me to even think about packing. What if he's not better by the time it's time for me to go? What should I do then??

Trying to wait until we get to that bridge to cross it.

After steno, some trombone practice. I didn't run through the show but instead focused on some trouble spots, playing them slowly and then faster and up to tempo. Around that time I also got a link to a new tour website, where I'll be able to access the route sheets for each city and see important info about how to get into each theater, where laundromats are, where buses will pick us up, etc.

For a while Jameson seemed to be better and was thinking about trying to perform with his band tonight, but shortly thereafter he took a turn. That's the problem with kidney stones, you have no control over the pain. Every time the stone shifts, agony. I had planned to make manicotti for dinner but am worried the smell might make him nauseous, plus he won't want to eat much until this stone is out. It'll probably be very simple food around here for at least a few days.

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Monday, I am still waking up at 6:30, my body all confused about whether it's time for work.
Careful not to wake Jameson, I made myself breakfast and did a little goofing off online.

The bedroom door popped open, and Jameson came prancing out. Yes, PRANCING.
Although the kidney stone isn't out yet, it has shifted somewhere (probably his bladder) where it's causing much less pain.
That's great! I'm so freaking glad!! I'm a worst-case-scenario kind of person, and it has been very scary to see him in so much pain.
It's not over yet, but this is progress.

After breakfast I took myself back to Best Buy to see about replacing the hard drive for my old computer.
Unfortunately the Geek Squad counter was PACKED with the 55+ crowd. Not sure if a senior living bus had come through this morning or if that was just the demographic of the hour, but either way I wasn't going to be able to see anyone that day. I made an appointment to come back tomorrow, picked up a new wireless mouse for my new computer, and left.

Next stop was the car detailing place, where I didn't get a full-on detail but rather just a very thorough vacuuming + car wash.
I vacuum my car myself, but there are places that I can't reach with the vacuum I have.

Then to the thrift store to drop off a bag of donations, then to the grocery for some things I'd forgotten earlier in the week.

Back home I ate lunch, practiced trombone for a bit, made an appointment for my rapid covid test, and wrote some emails to friends and family. I was supposed to clean the lanai but wasn't really feeling it, so had a beer instead (I drink beer very rarely, but we have a lot right now so I'm doing my part.) The beer was nice, but surprisingly having a nice buzz was just the motivation I needed to clean the lanai after all. As I was scrubbing, Jameson came out to let me know he was leaving for his Epcot gig. Hopefully he'll pull through it all right!

The lanai took about 90 minutes, here is the before:



And here is the after:


I went back inside, got a shower, had dinner and a big giant glass of water, ice cream for dessert.
My steno class had been cancelled because my teacher has some issues of her own to deal with (what is it with this week?) so I took a little time to myself to watch some YouTube before doing about an hour of steno.

Jameson came home and seemed fine, but as the night wore on it became apparent that something was wrong: he was unable to urinate. So back to the ER, I didn't go with him but hung back in case they decided to admit him, in which case I figured it might be good to be able to gather things at the house for us. I made up two hospital bags, and waited. Jameson got a catheter, some morphine, and a prescription for something for bladder spasms, then was sent back home around 3am.

I just want this to be over for him. If it's stressful for me, I can't imagine being the one actually suffering the pain.

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Tuesday, I felt so stressed. Jameson at least is not in pain, just uncomfortable.
I spent my morning trying to get him a urology appointment. God DAMN our health care system. Everyone had a different excuse not to take him. One place had no openings until November. Another complained that he'd have to take the catheter out because AdventHealth had put it in and that was "a liability". Another insisted on having his scans before making an appointment, and another said he'd have to have the catheter in for at least a week before he could be seen. I was on the verge of tears by that last call. How the hell do people get appointments? Is there a secret code word? Because having a medical emergency and an ER referral apparently isn't enough!!

The final receptionist that I spoke to had pity, because she did at least manage to make us an appointment for Monday afternoon. It's double booked, I'm not sure what that means for Jameson but if he can even just get the imaging to the urologist maybe he can get some help. A week later.

These are the times that I get really, really livid about paying thousands of dollars into SS and Medicare so that other people can get medical care, but not me, not us. I'm sure it's all more complex than that, but I can't help but feel angry when someone I care about needs help and can't get that help.

Anyway, after I managed to get the one appointment, I ran to Walgreens to get Jameson's prescription. By the time I got home he was pretty much awake, and not surprisingly irritated about having to wear a catheter for an entire week. The ER had told him to be seen in the next 48 hours.

I wanted to distract myself, so practiced steno for about an hour. The semester ends this week and I only have two tests available to take. I was tempted to just take them and fail them and be done. The pressure at this point is just too much. If I don't pass both of the tests, I will have to take the 100wpm class for a third semester, and on a machine I'm not familiar with, while in rehearsals for tour. It's just too G-D much right now. I didn't take the tests yet, but I will by Friday. I don't think it's possible to pass, but I'll just do my best and watch the money leave my bank account. It's that or quit...and while quitting is a legitimate option, I'm not ready to make that decision yet.

After lunch I rescheduled my covid test appointment based on Jameson's appointment. Then I drove over to a local arts school, where I had rented a practice room for the day. Actually it was a little recording booth.

Practice was "ok". I ran through the whole show (not the dialogue parts) with mute changes and using my bluetooth pedal. I also worked on the bebop solo in the entr'acte a few times, and while it wasn't as good as I'd like I think it's "passing" for starting rehearsals.
I. Hate. Improv.

On the way home I picked up Target sushi for dinner. Jameson was talking to his parents when I got back. When they were done catching up we ate dinner together while watching Halloween Wars.

So now we wait some more.
I should be excited about going on tour, but after the past several days I'm afraid to think or breathe.
I'm going to keep acting like everything will be ok but I just don't know what's going to happen with any of this.
It's too much going on at once.