Schumann and Should Nots

I’ve always gravitated toward the piano. I play for me, not for concerts or recitals. I studied with my mom during elementary school (she was a music therapy major, sang in a band, played guitar and piano). When I played her last college piece and she wanted me to keep progressing, she arranged lessons with the wife of one the university professors my father worked with. After that another family friend, the summer musical rehearsal pianist, taught me. By then I was in college and started studying with 3 different professors there.

How is it I’m just now decades later learning technique? Hahaha. Was it passable before and no one harped on it? I set out to take lessons during my sabbatical with the explicit instructions for my teacher to help me play without hurting myself. So far I’ve learned to play some notes higher on the key to keeps gentler angle and to put my elbows in front of my body for difficult sections that would otherwise wrench my wrists.

Up next is this piece Romance in B Flat minor by Robert Schumann. I have the notes down but am working on the speed. There are parts I need to rework for positioning, when my right hand starts to hurt which I should not be doing to myself. Wish me luck!

Green Eggs and Ham

Day 5. Five days. You know those sad cat diary videos where their water bowl is only half full and they think it’s the end of the world? Two snow days wouldn’t be so bad, except when paired with a school holiday and the weekend. The cabin fever is real folks, and the only way out is by shoveling your driveway several times a day.

We’ve been going sledding down the “hill” in the backyard, playing Wii, practicing the trumpet so my son doesn’t sound like a dying elephant anymore, and running out of craft projects to do. Please, oh please, let there be school tomorrow.

We are reading too. Not everything can be screen time. It’s cute seeing the kids choose to go on author binges at such a young age. Last week was Mo Willems and the pigeon or Elephant and Piggie books. This week is Dr. Seuss. Oh Say Can You Say? continues to be a favorite… Dinn, and Blinn, and his shin-bone pin… the bed spreaders and bread spreaders buttering bedding… distinguishing between a Klotz and a Glotz by their spots or dots. But last night when I asked my son what he wanted for breakfast in the morning, he said he wanted green eggs and ham.

Whaaat?

Yes, green eggs and ham… though he said he’d settle for scrambled green eggs.

In an effort not to disappoint, his sister and I made him a green pepper, spinach, green ham, and cheese 3-green egg omelet. She doesn’t eat eggs being a picky eater, but she was definitely overjoyed to help turn her brother’s breakfast another color.

It was hilarious watching the peanut gallery’s reactions as the green concoctions were added. My son gobbled it up and was only briefly sad he didn’t have a bright green tongue after eating it.

Finished green omelet on a plate with a fork before we ate it

Here’s hoping school is in session tomorrow.

Rest and Debussy

When I was in college I loved studying — math, languages, dancing, choir, writing, piano, organ, computer science. This was before ergonomic designs were big and desks were made for different tasks. But one fateful exam week, while writing 18 page papers in German, several others in English, and practicing for my piano recital…I overdid it and my wrists had something to say about it. For the first 2 months of the next semester I couldn’t hold a pencil to take notes, I couldn’t turn door knobs, I couldn’t hold a gallon of milk in my hand without crying in agony and dropping it on the floor. My doctor told me to choose one keyboard and stick with it. I stopped taking lessons and toted my own ergonomic keyboard to and from work after I graduated and started working at a software company. I used trackballs to keep my hand at rest and my wrist immobile. The problems went away within the year and never became permanent.

But I missed playing music.

I recently started trying to play my old college pieces (and it doesn’t hurt). Today I’m home sick with a fever/cold and very tired of being horizontal and sipping liquids.

So I did this just now to see if it would help make me feel better. It was a piece I was too chicken to play for open mic night recently. My piano professor gave it to me in college because he thought I’d enjoy having a song that used the last note on a piano. (I still do.) There are some parts I need to slow down and spell out again, but it shouldn’t take long to fix the flubs, despite the crazy key changes and chords.

Speaking of chicken, it’s probably time for some soup now.

This is Debussy’s Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir (Sounds and perfumes mingle in the evening air).


Last Day of School

It’s summer officially here. The last day of elementary school was “Field Day”– lots of games and outdoor play all day. My son came home soaked from head to toe, shoes and all. With the widest grin and speed-talker voice, he mumbled “It was so fun!” [unheard] “water balloons!” I drew a bath for him and made him soak the mud off before being allowed to roam the house.

They’re growing up so fast. I can’t believe I just wrote my last daycare check ever. My littlest one starts Kindergarten in less than 3 months.

Eleven Years Later

I don’t dread April yet, but this day always makes me cry. On April 20, 2006 I lost two friends in a plane crash on their way back from a rehearsal.

Robert and Chris both did their undergraduate music degrees the same years my brother and I were in college. They were studying opera performance from our father. My brother and I sang with both in choirs, many times I was next to Robert because we towered over others and blocked their view if we were up front. Robert even offered to my accompanist when I took my own voice lessons. When I’d work backstage at the university theater, one or both of them would be on stage. I still remember a time when Robert’s villain costume was locked up over Spring Break in his dorm room and he needed to wear black on stage. Realizing this mid-show shortly before he had to go on stage and me being in all black to do scene changes, I gave him my pants and took his so he could go on stage and sing. He teased and implied all kinds of things to make my father laugh.

When it came time to do their masters, Robert lead the way and found the Music School at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Chris auditioned and made it in as well. When the educators learned they both came from my father’s studio, they invited my dad out to teach a seminar. He wow’d everyone so much, my father switched universities. When my dad got Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to undergo chemo, Chris and Robert would take turns – one holding my father’s arm and walking him through the school to the car, the other having a good hug/cry/pep-talk with my mother where she waited to pick him up.

I can honestly say, their deaths devastated every member of my family.

Every year this day, the families of all the victims get together for dinner. I did not know Garth, Georgina, or Zach, but I have had the privilege of getting to know their families since. It’s been eleven years and I’m still numb from the loss.

Vegas, baby

My best friend and I decided to spend our vacation together, celebrating halfway between our birthdays with whomever else from our group of friends who could come along. Las Vegas was planned a year in advance. We joked about all the things we’d do, but our trip took a much different spin when she learned she was pregnant a few months prior to the trip.

We filled our days with sightseeing and shows, good meals at Bobby Flay’s and up in the Eiffel, and plenty of downtime. The 4×4 trip through the mountains was going to be a bit too bouncy for the momma-to-be, so only half of us went but it was gorgeous out there and the weather was perfect. I could have used another day by the pool soaking up the heat and listening to the water ripple. It was not the trip I thought I was going to have, but it was definitely the one that I needed.

Hopefully March is better

The last month has been rough. And by rough I mean, it’s been a series of rolling crises. I had a fun meetup with my team from work in Barcelona. I was exhausted, but glad to have some downtime with friends while coworking and talking about the future. Upon arrival at home, I found out my dad’s blood sugar spiked to 400 plus while I was away and he was having trouble waking up one morning. If I hadn’t hired a babysitter for every other day while I was away, I think my mom would have lost her mind and asked that I fly back. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad she didn’t tell me about the incident while I was there.

A few days later, everyone came down with strep throat in 3 day increments and had to go on antibiotics. Most of the morning of my birthday was spent at Ready Care trying to get myself medicine over the weekend so I didn’t feel like crap and could actually celebrate. (tl;dr: I fell asleep next to the humidifier after dinner.) By that time after having everyone sick for the last two weeks, we were behind on our chores.

I boiled or replaced toothbrushes and started in on the bedding and clothes. Just when I needed to sterilize everything the washer broke. Two weeks of laundry was too much to deal with while we waited for the new washer/dryer to be delivered and installed, so I spent a day at the laundromat with my mom. The new washer/dryer arrived and everything started going back to normal. Things were great for 3 days.

This past Thursday, I went to bed late and found a puddle on my brother’s oak desk, looked up and saw the water dripping from the ceiling. I grabbed some towels and a bucket and triaged the downstairs. Good enough? Yes, ok UPSTAIRS!

Upstairs I found the leak behind the new washer/dryer. It was dripping faster than a heartbeat and I barely saw any water on the floor. 😦 After turning off the water supplies, throwing down towels and a bucket, I thought “I’m not going to be much use tomorrow if it’s 3am and there’s more hiding that I haven’t found.”

The next morning (i.e. less than 4 hours later), I got the kids off to school, kicked off my shoes at the front door and walked to the kitchen but noticed my socks were suddenly wet. Sarcastic YAY! I scrambled to go find a Bissell wet vac and some box fans at the local hardware store. Most of Friday was spent moving the sweeper incrementally by inches across the carpet for hours. The remediators who came said I could have put them out of business with how well of a job I did in the dining room. We couldn’t save the laundry room though.

So today I see bare subfloor. The cabinet is ripped out with the utility sink. All the tile is gone. The new washer/dryer are covered and protected standing guard in the hallways, keeping small children from peeking through the construction. I still can’t do laundry. The hum of industrial fans is starting to sound normal, but working with a dust mask on to keep from sneezing/coughing is the pits (especially with glasses).

Trying to find some fun things out of the house to do, I came up with a reading scavenger hunt for my kids. They loved it. I think I’ll try it again when it’s warmer and we can find flowers.

scavengerhunt1 scavengerhunt2

I’m trying to stay positive, but everything around me is like a displaced torn-up maze of relocated furniture.

I could use some happy thoughts sent my way if you’ve got them.