In spring 2020, I registered for the University of New Mexico Early Music Ensemble. When everything shut down in March 2020, our semester essentially ended. However, in Fall 2021, we were back together, albeit virtually. Then in Fall 2022, the Early Music Ensemble started meeting again in person. I was not altogether comfortable meeting in person, so I skipped the Fall 2022 class but I rejoined the ensemble in Spring 2023.
We practiced, masked, in person.
We presented a concert, in person, on Sunday May 1, 2022: The Merrie Month of May.
We also played a small set and accompanied some small vocal ensembles for the Concert Choir concert on Friday April 22, 2022: The Wishing Tree.
This summer, I once again attended the Sacred Music Intensive at Indiana University. This yearly workshop began in 2014 and I attended it in both 2014 and 2015 while I was living in Indiana. I had planned to attend again in 2020 but it was cancelled for the next two years. This year, the workshop was once again held the first week in June
The Sacred Music Intensive is a collaboration between the choral and organ departments of the Jacobs School of Music. In the choral track, Dr. Walter Huff offered practicums in choral conducting. All participants were encouraged to join the workshop choir as we rehearsed several pieces to sing at the final concert. In the organ track, Drs. Janette Fishell, Chris Young, and Marilyn Kaiser coached students in private lessons as well as offering several classes. Marilyn Kaiser held a service playing class every morning. Janette Fishell offered a class on 20th and 21st century compositions suitable for preludes and postludes throughout the liturgical year. Chris Young took us to the Fritts organ at First Presbyterian Church where he discussed Baroque registration. New this year was instruction on the carillon by instructor Lynnli Wang Hall.
Throughout the week, we had all 14of the Jacob School of Music pipe organs at our disposal. Many of the organs are mechanical action, a real treat. I spent hour after hour in happy practice throughout the week.
The event culminated in the final Friday night concert. Participants accompanied the choir anthems and hymns and played solo organ pieces. Altogether it was a wonderful immersive experience and I plan on returning next year.
I am in a seemingly never ending search for the perfect bag. At the farmer’s market, the renaissance faire, REI, I gravitate to those vendors or to those sections of the store that sell bags.
But I have since realized that there is no perfect bag. It isn’t that perfect bags don’t exist. Rather, it is that my idea of perfection is a moving target. What is perfect today may not be perfect tomorrow.
What I need in my “perfect” bag has changed over the years.
Back in my college and graduate school days, I had few needs. I needed to carry some cash and my school ID card. I only had two keys, the key to my apartment building and the key to my apartment. To carry these items, all I needed was a very small bag.
This tiny leather bag was perfect. My keys and change went into the front zippered compartment. My cards slid into the pocket. My (very small) wallet went into the main zippered compartment. The strap was long enough that I could wear it as a cross body bag. Everything was secure and everything fit.
But then my needs changed. In addition to apartment keys, I now had a car key. My wallet got thicker. In it, I had a driver’s license, a couple of credit cards, a library card, a bank card, a grocery store card. It was no longer that easy to cram the thicker wallet into my tiny bag. At another renaissance faire, I found the “perfect” replacement for my little bag.
My new waist bag had the added advantage of being hands-free. When I got my first cell phone, a tiny little thing that was about the size of a lighter, it fit nicely in the smaller outside pocket. My second cell phone, a slightly larger flip phone, also fit in that same pocket. Things were perfect.
But then I got more technology: a smart phone, a iPad. My perfect bag no longer worked so well. I needed to find something else.
Enter the Ristretto by Tom Bihn (my newest favorite bag maker). It had so many organizer pockets: a padded pocket for the iPad, two pockets that were perfect sizes for my little to-do notebook and my iPhone, a couple of pen pockets, a zippered pocket where I put my wallet, a main compartment which could hold a book or notebook, and a back pocket perfect for loose papers or a magazine. It also had several o-rings onto which I could tether my keys.
This new bag held much promise to become my Every Day Carry Bag. However, I soon discovered the main problem with this bag. Because it fit so many things, I tried to make it my one and only bag. But with everything that I wanted to carry at times, the bag became much too heavy. Even with its padded cross body strap, one shoulder was carrying more weight than was comfortable.
Maybe one bag will never be my perfect “Every Day Carry Bag”. My solution now is to have two bags.
a backpack for my MacBook and/or iPad, books, and binders; all those heavy things that were weighing down my Ristratto.
a smaller bag for all the other sundry items that I carry: wallet, keys, a pen and a pencil and my little to-do notebook, the iPhone, my earbuds,
I pulled out my absolute favorite backpack, my 40+ year old Jansport. They do NOT make backpacks like this any more. A piece of leather secures the straps in back. The buckles are metal – they will never break like plastic ones do. And Jansport, true to its lifetime guarantee, replaced my broken zipper for free about twelve years ago.
And I purchased a smaller bag, the Sidekick, from Tom Bihn.
My Jansport is a relatively small backpack. It will hold my laptop, a textbook, and a thin binder. So it never gets too terribly heavy. Carrying a backpack is easier on my shoulders than carrying a cross-body shoulder bag.
The Sidekick is a perfect small bag. It has lots of organization. An outer zipped pocket has my keys, tethered nicely by the o-rings and key-straps. Inside are more o-rings and multiple pockets. The interior o-rings tether my Tom Bihn wallet and other organizational pouches. This means I will never accidentally leave my wallet somewhere ever again. There are pockets for my phone, to-do notebook, a pen, a pencil, sunglasses, and more. I can nicely fit a paperback in the main compartment.
So for now, I don’t have a perfect bag, but I do have a perfect bag combination. The operative word is “for now”. Things might change. Who knows what I will need in a year or two?