It might be stretching the definition of gig a little, but I did my first public banjo performance this morning, supporting a song at the toddler’s group at church. Not much more than three basic chords and not a great deal of precision on the finger picking and strumming but it was certainly louder than the ukulele I used last week, so I think the ukulele will be a good choice for this regular outing, although I will need to learn some more chords in time.
I updated my iPad software yesterday and am now on iPad OS 13.3. So far, I’ve only noticed two particular differences:
Screen icons are now smaller (in ‘more’ mode, which it switches to by default) – that means I can fit more on my home page. It looks like I’ll get about 16 more icons, which will allow me to put everything I regularly use there and perhaps even break a couple of frequent apps out of groups
The OS now supports ‘dark mode’ – I haven’t decided if I’ll stick with it but I’m giving it a try for now.
There’s probably more under the hood but at least I haven’t yet come across any reasons why upgrading would be a bad idea.
I can’t remember when we last had a microwave (certainly for part of our time in Lewisham but not, I think, at all in our Oxford residence) but we picked one up just before Christmas, as the oven in our rental property was flaky. That’s due to be replaced shortly but we’ll still have the microwave, which also happens be one of those fancy ones with a grill and convection oven built in.
Yesterday, we decided to have roast chicken. I’d bought a small bird and it turns out there is an auto setting which worked a treat. Fifty minutes cooking and a few minutes to rest and the meal was ready.
However, I think that just used the convection oven part of the device. I wonder if it could be sped up by also using the microwave function? Unfortunately, microwave books seem to have gone out of fashion and the local library hardly has any, so I’ll need to dig around the Internet for inspiration (should be easy but one has to be a little cautious of ‘clever’ online tips!).
I went to my first Café Live event tonight. It runs as an open mic event and I took my bass along. It turns out to have been a good choice for keeping busy – lots of guitarists but I was the only bass-equipped bassist in the room (and my headless, six string bass with D – E flat tuning is a bit off-putting for loaning to others!) so, as well as the set I led, I backed up a number of other songs and took part in the jam at the end.
Dinner tonight was a bit on the sloppy side. I was going for this recipe for Mushroom and Neep Pie but had the bright idea of adding polenta to the mash, not least because we’ve got quite a lot of it to use up. However, I put it in while the potatoes and swede were boiling away and so couldn’t really drain enough liquid out without throwing a lot of the polenta away.
The end result was still quite tasty but next time (perhaps when we have a working cooker) I could really do with cooking the polenta separately and adding it to the mash rather than trying to combine those two stages.
Part of my Christmas present from Jane this year was a new set of strings for my Sei bass. As a six string bass with non-standard (low D to high Eb) tuning, my options are quite limited and my go-to supplier for the two decades or so that I’ve had the instrument has been Status Graphite.
I’m not the kind of consumer to keep them in business but they appear to be still going. However, I was getting concerned because, despite placing the order in mid-December (and getting an automated confirmation), they didn’t arrive for Christmas, nor in the days following. Furthermore, when I rang yesterday to chase (admittedly not long before 5pm) I just got an answer machine.
Fortunately (and unrelated to the abortive call), the strings arrived today and, when I got back for lunch, Jane had them wrapped up and ready to give to me. Hopefully next time I order, Status will be back to their regular prompt and efficient service. Meanwhile, now I’ve got to decide when to put the new strings on (which, with the double-ball end design, is a pretty quick process – it is mainly about when I want a week or two of that ‘new string’ sound).
I love having my toolboxes and a core set of my tools up with me. It means I can get creative with some DIY projects:
We bought a large can of grapefruit the other day and it turns out it is the perfect diameter to snugly fit the bottom of a 2l plastic bottle in (cheap sparkling water). I’ve put some red electrical tape round the cut at the top to cover the sharp plastic edges and drilled the holes you can see here in the base.
The whole assembly is now sitting on the counter top with a folded cone of kitchen towel inside. I can pour in the coffee grounds and tea leaves, along with whatever dregs are left in the pot, and the water will drain through, while the solid matter is caught.
Probably once a day or so it will need emptying – dirty water down the sink and solids into the bin. It isn’t as good a solution as just composting the lot but, while we are in a rental house, we don’t have the luxury of a compost heap (or a local kitchen scraps collection) so it makes the best of the situation and builds in a little bit of creative upcycling too.