Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mmmm, bread.

Funny how the most joyous, prettiest time of year sort of rubs my nose in the fact that I have a lot of work to do on savoring the truly important.

Sometimes I just stuff myself with bread instead.

So, I'm heading off to enjoy my people.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow week

I can be totally smug and annoying about having grown up in Fairbanks.

You have to give me some credit for living up there through high school though, right? At the time we kids jumped at the chance to possibly sacrifice our extremities in order to wear penny loafers sockless at -60, just as God intended. Nobody complained much. Even the adults carried on as though we were living someplace habitable, allowing the formation of a football team for about 2 games before the field was flooded for its real purpose as an outdoor hockey rink. It was them, not us, who announced an Aloha Day each year in January. Don't tell me they couldn't see that prank fire alarm pull coming. Must be they secretly enjoyed seeing the cheerleaders lined up outside at -40 with nothing but their coolness to keep their flip-flopping hula-beskirted butts warm.

As I was saying, I can be insufferable about the winter weakness of Portlanders. Who can blame me when they close school for an entire week for four inches of snow received on Sunday? And the news weather men? Well, I myself have never actually seen the producer stuffing their pockets with promotion dough whenever they declare a "snow EVENT", but I'm pretty sure I can see the dollar signs reflected in their petulant eyes.

This week, though. This week those ninnies were right.

It snowed a bunch and it stuck. Both snow events (I'm picking up the lingo as best I can) are rare here. Then it sat still and developed an ice crust and then this stuff fell from the sky that called itself rain, but it was 24 degrees out so it just mated with the ice crust and multiplied. That was fun, big crunchy steps made instant jagged daggers Toby kept calling strawberry pizza as he shoveled it into his mouth. Whattaya know, weirdo genes do make more weirdos.

So up to this point I was traipsing around town, making up reasons to drive around and ridicule others. The malls were practically empty, which is my favorite flavor. But then it snowed again. And again. And now we have, like, over a foot of snow with a hard layer in the middle and I am going to have to call Uncle! and say, yes, Portland, this has indeed been the Winter Snow Event 2009.

And then he actually ASKED to wash his hands...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Toby's Year-end Round-up

It's very odd, this sensation of being totally smitten and completely frustrated with somebody at the exact same moment.

He's so amazing, and funny. He'll repeat anything you say and we do like to use that for all it's worth, a la this (slight language warning).

He's also contrary right down to his marrow. Yesterday I told him out of the blue, "Sorry buddy, no more hugs today," and you and guess who got a big fat awesome running toddler cuddle pronto.

Today we had an eye appointment. Turns out they upped the scrip again, and if that doesn't fix the problem then it's surgery time. And you know what really bothered me most about this whole morning? The two tantrums and unmeasurable decibels of whining that went on in front of two opthamologists, one tech and two nurses. Is it wrong to be embarrassed by a toddler? Does it matter whether it's right or not? Can I send him to military school only on select days?

I think parenting makes you let go. Of ideas of yourself, of images of yourself as a parent, of your selfishness and self-centeredness and of your time and money. Maybe the difficulty with Toby lately lies in me.

Or maybe he's just incredibly clever and wants to find every last one of my buttons. He likes buttons. I hope I don't show him my frustration too often, and I'm pretty sure it's because he's generally mellow that his less-fine moments undo me so quickly. Man, am I happy to know about the concept of grace because I need a buttload right now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Budget Plan for 2009

Here's a quote I put on the back of a photo in our Christmas cards, and I am sticking an extra one in my wallet to remind me not to spend all my money on junk because then when I pull it out for some cute turtle I'll be sad to realize I've only got lint*.

"The very nature of Joy makes
nonsense of our common distinction
between having and wanting."
~C. S. Lewis

Toby is eating snow and Isaac is wishing he could. I am just thinking, Man, I wish we could figure out a way to get J in this picture without digging out the tripod.

*Anybody else old enough to remember that educational cartoon, yo?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Isaac's Year-end Round-up

Isaac has been teething. He's had two big teeth on the bottom, perfect for all his lucrative exploited child modeling contracts. Now, he appears to be adding on in the upper story. Poor dude attempted to eat our entire couch the other day.

I think he's more adventurous than Toby was. He gets himself into the strangest trouble. A few months back we broke a wine glass and even with both of us cleaning it up I almost lost my mind the next day when I looked up to see him start to gum a largish shard. Somehow no blood was shed.

Tonight he made his distress sound (kind of like a dust-buster's whine) when he got himself stuck under the train table. As he ramped up into the "no, really, I'm in pain" octave, I sprinted over and pulled out the drawer to extract him. Turns out he was sort of half stuck in that drawer, so when I pulled it forward his head smacked right into the table's edge. Some rescue, sigh. Parent of the year moment, right there.

Lucky for me he's an easy boss. Lucky for him he figured out how to sleep twelve (12!) hours just after Thanksgiving and has not backslid at all. We were this close to shipping him off to a nunnery.

Actually, at my last recital I played this incredible piece written for voice by Samuel Barber and the text was all based on a vision of St. Ita about Mary's nursing Jesus. Talking about breastfeeding the creator of the universe seems kinda creepy or maybe kinda Hindu, but the text is pretty cool. I know the words don't exactly come through the viola so much, but I do look at it and I usually read a bit of it when I'm performing.

My fav line: Infant Jesus at my breast, Nothing in this world is true.
There's a version on Youtube of everything these days, ain't there?

I am feeling very sentimental at night when Isaac's getting settled for bed. I guess I will miss this season... he makes little hummy sounds until I sing him something. He also giggles if I lift his feet & drop them, and bats away my hand if I play with his ears. They're hard to leave alone, who could blame me?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Almost ChristMishmash

Okay, the holidays are screaming through our calendars and I haven't had a second to think. It's just the way it is for musicians, or at least for musicians who want to buy stuff. Here are some things I've seen in the last few months that I'd like to either remember or forget.

A very bad Messiah bass singing with the face of a perpetually stunned fish.

A wind player who laughs with no sound except rushing air. And it's oddly loud and usually pretty long. Maybe it's some kind of fancy diaphramatic exercise? Everyone looks at their feet kinda when she does it, because she's a nice person with a strange laugh.

Toby declaring "I think maybe Isaac needs a nap" when he was only crying because Toby pushed him.

Toby spontaneously patting Isaac's head and saying, "I love eeyooou." He always uses his really high-pitched voice to say that.

Isaac growling & clicking his tongue at my Mom. They have their own special language, those animals.

A conductor who turned completely away from half the orchestra and then couldn't figure out why we didn't follow his strange tempo adjustments. Somehow I did not find his shoulderblades musically inspiring.

A very sweet slightly challenged man trying to give me and my pianist a copy of his paper after a recital so we could read the article about animals he had found interesting. This man (white, mid-40's, glasses & plaid shirt) had salt & pepper hair with a trim beard and a few long fat dreadlocks hanging down his back. They looked like afterthoughts, and I'm pretty sure they just kind of happened to this guy. Otherwise until he spoke you would have thought from his look that he was a professor of geology or an engineer.

An empty spot on my calendar... this Saturday! We are going off the grid to mangle us up a tree.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Step ball change, LEAP.

We are touching down occasionally in our own home lately. Between out of town gigs that take us to my parents' awesome home and visiting loved ones in Montana, and more out of town gigs for the next ten days, we are seldom in one place for long. Which is actually quite wonderful until somebody gets sick.

I think I'm getting mastitis. Do NOT google that, unless you enjoy seeing disgusting boob pictures spewed out by the internetia. It's kind of like a cold in your milktation machinery. It makes you feel like you have the flu and mono all wrapped up in one painfully hot packet. Thank you sir, may I have another? Poor Isaac can't figure out why I turn into a stone of tension and grimace every time he needs a topping off.

I am really really looking forward to December 13th, the last day of my duties and obligations thus far. This is the first year in a while when I couldn't care less that I'm not playing a single Nutcracker. We'll just get the DVD from the library and call it good.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tapped out.

I'm feeling really crusty and dried up inside, my brain is practically rattling out of my head like a stray kernel of rice shaken off a high chair cover on sushi night.

We're heading to Montana, beating a hasty retreat to the land of (another set of) doting grandparents. I'm looking forward to hours of both imps strapped safely into carseats. Don't tell any good parents, but I'm bringing earplugs and I'll be snoring by the time we hit the Gorge for sure.

Happy Thanksgiving if I don't make it back by here.

Toby would like to thank God for the bees, rainbows, Jesus, and wheels that go around and around.

He probably gets less crap than violists.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's happening again...

I can totally agree with those types who want to slow down the holiday season, to take time and savor a few shining events with loved ones rather than pack in a shindig a day like a girl scout on her way to her Domestic Overcommitment badge. I see the idea of orchestrated simplicity in my family life fly past on my way to reality every November or so. In fact every single month I get a couple of beautiful magazines packed with somebody's long-massaged idea about how to make every corner of my life a paradigm of organized loveliness. Your home represents you, your schedule displays what you value, the enlightened move calmly from moment to carefully cherished moment and you better too, they confide tastefully from within their manicured covers.

Zaniness at this time of year is just the way it is when you are a classical musician. Even folks who don't have much of a relationship with the great composers and all the variety of styles within the big C will recognize bits of the Messiah and think of the holidays. They make a tradition of going to a holiday concert, so we put on a bazillion concerts at the holidays. As a Christian I think it has something to do with people's inbuilt desire to be a part of creative endeavors and to celebrate something corporately. Of course if you really want to get into worship and music in popular culture, there's always rock.

I see another striking similarity between classical music and religion in that people like it for the ceremony. There is muted controversy there, some classical musicians bucking for a collective toss to the dumpster of their formal tails and fussy hall atmospheres. (I myself let it all hang out here whenever possible.) The entire relevant church movement (from the very earliest days to right this postmodern second) are in the same kind of battle between respecting tradition and finding modern immediacy in their expressions.

I had a little epiphany the other day at a bar watching some folks struggle through a very late Beethoven movement. It's THE Beethoven movement, actually. It is life and death, consonance and dissonance all wrapped up and knitted together with complex strands the way only Beethoven and little sonny Jesus ever could. Some members of this group had a tougher time than others and yes, there are moments in any performance of this nature where the listener is just hoping they make it through to the next phrase and get on with it. But as I sat there watching them help each other through and heard them come to more than one True thing.

Whatever you do this season, however busy you get, my advice is to cling to those odd moments when things are True and run with them. For me at this season, simplicity is a myth but Truth is everywhere.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mama's leetle friend.

Last week we met Piccolo*, a student at the college where I teach who likes to babysit. She came over while I was home, I went upstairs in my slippers with my coffee and practiced for 2 1/2 hours. In a row. Alone. I also did a load of laundry, ran the dishwasher and cleaned the toilets. Alone.

This week I painted some furniture, organized dinner, went through all of Isaac's clothes and agreed to a gig. Alone.

It is so incredibly rejuvenating, I cannot tell you how much those few hours mean to me. She's great. She reads to them, keeps Toby in line and makes Isaac giggle. I made her coffee, fed Isaac (duh) and even changed both boys' diapers over the course of the morning. She would, but I'm flitting around anyway and I know they both excel at wrestling. Still, that little window of time when I know I'll be able to do my own thing... it's like a shower after camping.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not dreaming of time away from my boys and we would not have a nanny even if we were the Warbucks. There is no doubt in my mind that it's a big deal to be able to be with them and not schlepping off to some factory or working nights. But I am totally certain that this makes me a better mom. I'm pretty sure they like seeing a different face every once in a while, too.

My parents (and J's too, when they're in town!) have also had a profound impact on these first years for our family. They spend four or five hours with the boys on my teaching days- and on the zillions of other days when we make up a reason to head their way. I can't imagine doing this on my own, and I'm just floored with gratitude for all these people helping us along the way.

*Not her real name, and not a descriptor- to the contrary, she's laid-back. Seems more like a clarinetist but who am I to tell her she plays the wrong instrument. That comes next week...

Monday, November 17, 2008


I played on the most amazing student recital yesterday. This senior composition student brought together a string quartet, a random quintet, an OPERA, and a few other solo works. She rehearsed them all, got over seventy people to attend the recital (that alone is literally stunning) and made every performer a gingersnap with our name written on it in frosting. We all have a thirty minute recording slot on Wednesday.

She should run for president- this woman is organized and gets people to agree to all sorts of things.

I've been really enjoying playing lately. There seem to be phases for that, like any job I suppose. While there's always a certain functional satisfaction to performing, I savor these times when even practicing is appealing to me.

J is probably laughing at my tra-la attitude after listening to me practice the trio I'm playing Friday. It's by a nutty Romanian composer and was composed in 1990. Kurtag is a big name in contemporary classical music (not necessarily the whitest hottest kind of fame) but he put things in the viola part that are impossible to play. This is not hyperbole; it is physically not doable and would have garnered any composition student a lower grade. I guess over the last few months of rehearsing and practicing I thought I would come up with something to approximate his requests, but no such miracle has occurred. Sometimes you get the feel of a piece and can fill in a bit of musical vocabulary for the composer if he's written clumsily, but this... well. Just look:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Vrrrroooooom there goes my ego.

Lots of people have noticed that having little kids around makes holidays more fun, and it's one of the few things you hear about parenting that is entirely true. It's cool to have an excuse to spoil them and break our schedule, and it's neat to have a reminder to emphasize whatever it is you like best about each day.

It's also fun for me to indulge my crafty, time-consuming wonts. I made Toby a big diaper-box model of his favorite car (a green Dodge Charger), which he promptly refused to wear despite his deep love "It's YOUR car, for You." Pronouns are tricksters for the two year old mind.

Funny thing about Toby's costume. It actually kinda made us miss Halloween. I lost myself in the green felt and black duct tape so much that I let the boys sleep extra long in their naps and we got a late start driving to J's office for the annual cute-kid parade & candy fest. I was honestly really annoyed and disappointed about that, but there's not much you can do when you leave only 35 minutes for a 50 minute drive. Part of me was so selfish as to think I shouldn't have bothered making the dang costume in the first place... until I saw Toby playing with it. He really hasn't stopped playing with it since that night. He's asked to take it to bed. The point is, was I making it for him or to show off to a bunch of near-strangers? In the end I decided a little self-indulgence is okay, but real joy in parenting comes when you give selflessly, just like in real life. Even if he hadn't loved it, I did enjoy the making, and thinking about his cute little proclivities all along.

Isaac was a pumpkin (99 cents last year from Old Navy!), and I could have died from the cuteness when Toby kept calling him "punkin', he's a little punkin' in derrr". I am such a sucker- you'll have to remind me not to fall for their adorable scams when they're older. Like next year.

Toby had his first bunch of candy and as far as I can tell he likes berries, rice popcorn and hot dogs better. He did like the Skittles but went around the room feeding them to all of us, so it must not have been as mindblowing as the actual fruits. He also had some rad bugs to play with from Gramma.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In a wild humor

Me- That is NOT funny, Toby.
Toby- Deee dee dooooo da HAHAHAHAHA.

The above conversation happens a LOT. And he actually sings his part. And we have been awakened to Mwahahahahahaha in a surprisingly low and rhythmic voice from the next room more than once this week.

I'm just hoping he doesn't pick up any foul language while we watch election results tonight. I kid. Mwahaha!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

In honor of the day, Toby and I watched a little Youtube. We started with Jesus is My Friend (the parody song from a few posts back) and then found this:

If I had skillz I'd make a Totoro outfit for myself but instead I think I'll be a stop light, since I'm making Toby a car. If any of it works, there will be pictures.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

He works off the script.

In line the other day to buy another vat of fat free milk from Costco, Toby was jabbering away and showing his red Hotwheel to anyone who glanced toward his perch in the seat of the cart. The couple behind us totally fell for it and started asking him about it.

Toby- Whheeeeels. It's got wheeeeeels on der.
Couple- Oh wow. That's a cool car.
Toby- Yuuuup. It's wwwwred.
Couple- So, how old are you?
Toby- Blank stare, kicking feet...
I show him how to put up two fingers and say "Two".
Toby- Holding up just his index, "Fffthrrrreeee!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Patching!

I know I am perverse, but I love that first picture of us. Toby is struggling to get out of J's lap, J is struggling to keep Toby from accidentally whacking Isaac in the head with his foot, Isaac is adoring Toby and I'm frowning and my lips are all tense and wrinkly. It's been like that around here about 15% of the time, though the remaining 80% we're happy and Toby is funny and sweet. The last 5% is reserved for sleeping, but all team members have not committed to that quite yet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

We are not ourselves.

We have joined the ranks of parents whose children are not contained by mere cribs. Did I already tell you we found a toddler bed without a stitch of pastel advertising on it? I can't remember through the lack of sleep haze...

In truth our guy has not tested us much at night, mostly because we are lazy and have pretty much Toby-proofed his room. We let him galavant unless it gets particularly raucous and then start taking away hotwheels or, in the direst of situations, the firetruck blanket.

In effect, he has quiet time in the afternoon from 2pm to whenever, and while we prefer him to sleep we'll take non-damaging letting off of steam. At night if we hear him past 9:30 (he goes in at 8pm) then we start making with the stern voices and removal of beloved objects.

Last night I realized with a laugh that outside his room there is a collection of confiscatia: a big blue toybox once use to climb to the windowsill and the changing table (ONCE!), an impressive pile of... well, here- take a look:

And here are the miscreants in person. Isaac has just sneezed and is tipping backwards but don't worry, he missed the wall and didn't even cry. You would be a happy guy, too, if you got snacks at 2am and 6am. Someday he'll thank me for telling the internet all about his infantile habits.

Monday, October 13, 2008


...crickets, I know.

I have pictures to post and a door to door sales person to tell you about and even a couple of thoughts I found that had rolled under the sofa. They're a little linty, but they're mine. I will probably get around to scrutinizing them soon.

I have to go to bed now because in the morning I have to convince a two year old that having your eyes dilated isn't annoying and that you should leave a funky eye patch alone while the opthalmologist makes you look at little pictures of phones like you've never seen (OLD SCHOOL, with a receiver handset and everything) and then accidentally plays a scary section of Cars. Right after accidentally playing a scary section of Snow White (remember, with the trees and the old hag?).
Did you know they use movies to get kids to focus on a certain distance? Well, now you do.

And that's something.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Also, Dave Crowder Band* has a version posted. But watch this first.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Canned goods.

It's funny, but not, how when Isaac wakes up that THIRD time each night my brain starts to leak out my ears.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Sorry for this short and empty post, but I just canned a kapillion tomatoes and played an opera. I figured a crummy post is better than no post at all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Playing Softballs

We're doing La Traviata (it's about hookers!) over the next few weeks here in the Land of Port, and it's been completely enjoyable. I think the orchestra sounds like a different (different better!) group this year.

The music is mostly stupid-easy in the viola parts and that can sometimes mean it's also physically painful. When you are the Oom or the pah-pah for two pages straight, your body tends to get tired of it. It's not bad music, thankfully, but it could easily become tedious in rehearsal if you had a dumb conductor.

We don't!

This guy is great- I don't know how I've missed him, and I'm glad to be playing for him now. First and foremost, he doesn't talk at us when he could be conducting but he does tell enough charming anecdotes to be human. Secondly, he is musical and loves his job. Third, and sort of a rehashing of point one: he actually told us not to write in too much as he may do something different the next time through. And he does! Clearly!

I also finally feel as though I am getting to know some of the area locals. It's hard when you're freelancing to feel much of a connection to any community but I think maybe I'm on the brink of something there. Such a one-eighty from last fall.

Friday, September 12, 2008

If my blog falls dormant in the woods...

Dang! I can't believe I've devolved into one of those blogs. Posting infrequently, mostly fluff and kid pictures. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I had sort of enjoyed thinking I was writing something more every so often.

I have been thinking a lot lately about audience and motivation. Every little thing I say to Toby (tons of jabbering, pleading and whining happen in our house daily and much of it is on my end), everything I play, stuff I write. It's interesting how those things are all changed by their audience or my perception of them. Since I believe Jesus Christ was who he said he was and that what he did enables me to actually converse with the creator of the universe, well... I'm having trouble finishing that sentence. And not just on my blog.

Yep. Interesting. But it's 1:36am and I need to go to sleep... now.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Truffles revisited

I am making these truffles for the reception after a recital tomorrow. They're fun to make, nice & messy. I briefly considered letting Toby help, but came to my senses when I thought about the many food safety issues and the potential for a kitchen encrusted with Oreo goo. I am nowhere near that much fun as a mom.

I found out yesterday that students at my college don't have any casual performance opportunities. They practice all semester and perform only when they are being evaluated at the end, either for a grade or for scholarship funds. That is a shame, and I think I'll try to do something about it by instituting some kind of noon performance time.

Music is for performing, or nothing at all.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


We're currently experiencing busy days and sleepy nights. An actual post will be up soon.

Meanwhile, look! The weather is perfect, and the train table is finally painted.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Tim is feeling better and is finished with some unpleasant treatments, so yay. We're still praying for Rachael to be able to relax and not obsess about the darker possibilities of the past few weeks. The doctor believes it was a one-time thing and that Tim should never ever pick up a cigarette again. Well, duh, Tim. (We love you!) He isn't even much of a smoker, but there it is.

They are moving on to bigger and better things, with a baby kicking like mad and a baby shower on the horizon. So thanks for your prayer, internet. Keep it coming, we all appreciate it and need it in this crazy world.

Hey everyone who might happen by here.
Could you pray for my friend Tim and his wife, Rachael? He had a blot clot problem tonight and is in the ER. She's about 6 months pregnant and beside herself, of course. They are good friends, crazy wacko artsy intense goofball types and two of the best I've ever met... prayer would be good.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympics, Baby

The Olympics are a little sip of caffeine for my mood. I love to watch people do well, focus, do so-so, lose well, flip out, talk trash and lose it all. It's like classical music but popular.

Michael Phelps has to be one of the most spectacular pieces of humanity ever to train himself silly. All the swimmers are ridiculous. Gymnasts, too. It's impressive, really, that these people found what they are built for and then focused on it to the extent that they are able to do things no one else has.

I love the sports where things are concrete: you went faster, or not. Unlike performing in artistic endeavors, there is no room for subjective critique. Obviously, I like the arts. It's just that years (and years. And... seriously, 20 years since high school? CRAP!) of training can ALLLLLLmost squash out of a person the ability to enjoy their pursuits without constantly looking for the next thing to improve. All professional musicians I've ever grilled about this answer the same way: maintaining an unjaded love for your music is a life-long challenge. It sucks to turn on the radio and instantly wonder who is playing so you can catalogue them and anything you don't like about their playing in your own mental podium race for BEST, instead of squealing with joy that they are even playing a viola concerto on the air in front of civilians.

I used to love the done-or-not-done quality of dishes and laundry, too, but somehow that has begun to fade.

The best thing about the Olympics, hands down, is that I always have something to hum to the boys. Toby was born during the winter Olympics of '06, Isaac's 4.5 months old now but likes to sleep like a much younger man. So there are anthems, themes, all sorts of snippets of grand tunes floating around even through the clouds of sleep deprivation. I love that main theme- thank you, Mr. Williams, you hummable themey genius you.


Monday, August 04, 2008


Toby's getting glasses. They are made of flexible blue plastic and have unfortunate round rims. When they come in, I'll take pictures of us wrestling him to the ground and applying them directly to his forehead.

I think my gear shifter is broken. Toby loves to play with that kind of thing- he probably got ahold of it at some point and wrenched it clean off. I am no longer able to adjust gracefully between the roles I fill at home and those in the musical world. I'm just kinda tense about both instead. But hey, I can still get around despite my higher mileage and at least I'm paid for.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Organize and simplify

I think Toby has caught the whole Live Simply (tm) Organize (tm) Declutter (tm) fad. He's got the bug. I often come around the corner to find a row of something, like this:

Or this:

He has his priorities straight. Keeps his grandparents close and his toys closer, even when running through their sprinkler.

This is not to say he doesn't let loose every once in a while. I believe his exact words were:
I taked apart a sanwich! I would like another!!

Unfortunately for him, however, it is clear he shares our genes.
He can't hide his freak flag forever.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Going green

There is a tiny little dot exactly between wanting all the area's classical enterprises to have an audition in the fall and wanting them all to just hold their horses a bit longer (a year longer, maybe). I am that dot.

Auditions would motivate me, even though there are only a couple of groups here I truly want to join. I still have to play all the auditions in case I feel like playing or in case I feel like buying shoes.

Last weekend I did a wedding gig here. I had sworn off weddings after I started daydreaming about a car wreck or an irreconcilable fight between the bride and groom preempting the nuptials so I wouldn't have to play Canon one more time. (Strychnine in the guacamole.)

Gig quartets are like a mold, spread subtly across the underpinnings of the western world. You're never more than a mile from one. The gig books alone are some kind of hermaphroditic organism. This wedding I played Saturday included the exact same five songs at the exact same moments in the exact same kind of ceremony I have played on the opposite side of the states. They all have these sad feed-lot cow pieces in their books; most even have the same horrible arrangements.

Molds reproduce using spores. I suppose those could be the few self-arranged tunes a group pulls out when the reception has gotten too loud for anybody to hear anyway. Led Zepplin maybe, or the Beatles. Lots of groups keep a second binder of actual real legitimate quartet works: late Mozarts, early Beethovens and the occasional Piazzola. These are usually the things the quartet really wants to play, the things that keep them from "accidentally" driving over nails on their way to the outdoor wedding on a hot day. These give us hope that we'll be able to use some of our artistry in addition to our coping skills and keep us from all spontaneously taking up something lucrative. Like becoming a Hummer salesperson.

It's hard to get connected to musicians when you haven't joined any group full time. Most are running around, drumming up work or working every chance they get or practicing for work or looking for friends from work on facebook. You know the drill. So that made it comforting, somehow, to tuck into my very own Violin III part on Canon, to emote shamelessly through Bach's Air (not on my G-String) and come out the other end with a nice check to put toward diapers.

I was happy to be part of something even if it has the musty smell of sameness.
World Wide Wedding Quartet (n):
multiple, genetically identical nuclei and is considered a single organism, referred to as a colony. Spreading soon to a ceremony near you.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

WFMW- Labels make me happy

This post is part of Shannon's Works For Me Wednesday Series.

I have fallen in love with my labeler. It's a cheap little gizmo that smells slightly of the 70's and it makes a satisfying ca-clunk as each letter is made. Also, it can do the following:

1. Nifty looking gifts: wrap the gift in brown shipping wrap or an inside-out grocery bag. At Christmas I taped the seams with colorful and cheap electrician's tape to continue the minimalist look. Make a label with the recipient's name and slap it on there. I like them just like that, but if you add a few frills it will look... frillier.

2. Label your file folders, especially those for daily sorting use. I find myself much more likely to use a file if I like the way it looks and it's clearly marked. I suppose I'm shallow that way. Disregard the crummy focus point of this photo. Thank you.

3. If you like plain jars of hand soap, labeling is nice so visitors don't end up all slimed with lotion by mistake. I am jonesing for a bunch of one-gallon glass canning jars. I will put them on their sides on a shelf in my garage with their contents labeled on the lid: white rice, brown rice, rare gems, wheat germ, etc. It will look neat and my housewife stock will go up 2 tenths of a point at least.

4. The obvious- your name and number can go on stuff you'd rather not lose. iPods, stuff you loan out like books and dvds, it all looks more formal with a strip of brightly colored tape. This here's my car Bible, and I figured I'd better label it for when I take it into churches filled with post-modern emerging church Word stealing-types. For all I know they might take mine and hand it out to somebody on the street, and we can't have that, now can we.

5. Here's the best thing for you muthaz. Use it to label your kid's drink cups! This totally warrants that exclamation because I've run it through the washer like four times and it's still there. When you do want them off, there's no sticky gross mess. And, I think pre-readers can find their own cup more easily when you put their name on with this. Is it because nobody else's mama is nearly so anal? Maybe, but they will have their water and that's all that matters.

Epilogue: You can get carried away, so try to limit your daily labeling to one or two items.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

No good very bad day.

I didn't practice.
I don't practice enough lately.
I don't even take my viola if it's just an overnighter anymore.

And everyone was crying at naptime. Everyone.

We had such a good thing going, but then it turns out he isn't having any fun in preschool, and my expensive-ass mixer broke, and Isaac cried so long in the carseat that Toby finally joined in, and my parents are having kind of a tough time, and he wants to learn to use the bathroom but I'm not sure how to teach that yet, and Isaac bites even though he's all gums (gums of steel), and Toby climbs out of his crib six thousand times a day. I have to talk to him like Hitler must have talked to a mosquito buzzing in his ear as he tried to sleep.

I hope he doesn't remember today, but then again what does it matter: there will be more days like this. How do you ask for grace from a toddler?

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Our weekend has been unexpectedly busy, an abundance of good things to do.

Toby decided to join in by trying out some firsts.

1. First jello. Lime. I believe he would have liked to eat his weight in it.

2. First time climbing out of his bed at home. He's been in a pack-n-play since birth. It has no slats to climb, and he has not tried this with his bed yet. Once upon a mattress... Do you think this'll keep him in his room?

3. First (coincidental?) successful use of the toilet. We have not started training him, but he asked us if he could sit on the pot and who are we to say no? Maybe he read my blog. I suppose I will be googling all sorts of strange things tonight, things I never anticipated willfully reading.

Here's the dastardly duo plotting parental domination.