Crawling out From Under a Rock

The other day Louie asked if I felt like I just had so much free time now that my recital is over. I thought about it, and realized, well, no. BUT before the recital I was putting off a whole bunch of things and just barely getting by. Now I don’t have any extra time but I’m actually accomplishing what I need to get done instead of just kicking it down the road. I’ve been working on a variety of projects that I’d been letting pile up.

We hear a lot these days about busy-ness and how being “busy” isn’t good. I do think that a certain amount of busy-ness makes one feel productive. I am not looking to be busy for the sake of being busy, nor do I think that “busy” is a great answer to “how are you?” but I definitely feel more productive and useful to society when I’m doing things rather than sitting around watching TV. I assume that’s true for most people.

I had a dream the other night that Louie became president. Of the United States. Over Hillary Clinton. She was his vice-president and was pretty ticked off that he entered the race at the last minute and beat him. I was pumped because I was the First Lady and we moved into the White House. (Louie was less than excited about being president.) Anyway, in my dream what happened was a lot of folks started asking me to play various things on the violin—concertos with orchestras, and lots of concerts with my quartet. Really, it was quite funny. Suddenly as First Lady (which is also funny since I’m not actually married to Louie) I was in great demand as a violinist. And our quartet was playing so many concerts, using all our repertoire and having  a great time!

We are going to a wedding this weekend in Owensville, Missouri. I’m looking forward to getting out of town for a few days (just a short time since it’s not terribly far away.) I’ll tell you about it in a few months Winking smile . The wedding is for some friends of Louie’s, though I’ve met them. It is at a winery and should be quite fun.


Friday night we went to an event at the Ritz-Carlton for Louie’s job. We had decided to go because…free dinner at the Ritz! We sat through some interesting speeches (well, ranging from interesting to not-as-interesting) and then had a very nice dinner with salad, salmon, and dessert. We didn’t know anybody there, really, but another couple joined us (and then some more) who were VERY friendly. I’ll tell you though: please feel free to talk about your kids but don’t assume you know my situation. Not everybody wants to have kids, not everybody plans to have kids, not everybody CAN have kids, and when you’ve just met somebody, you don’t know where they fit in and I think it’s rude to assume. Personally I think there are more interesting things to talk about that my relationship and uterine status…then again, it’s not like this blog is that interesting either, so maybe I’m wrong!


A handful of students participated in the Arch Cup over the weekend. They did a great job! I played piano with them all, and I did okay too. I’m thinking I need to consider getting a real piano soon so I can improve my skills more. I used to play pretty well, and now I can accompany Twinkle Twinkle and such easily, but the harder stuff is beyond me. I also don’t use the pedal: that was always kind of a mystery and challenge for me. But I’m proud of my students for pushing themselves outside their comfort zone—many of them were VERY nervous, but they played anyway! It’s really all about that: not giving up. People think professionals don’t get nervous. We do. We just deal with it. Just like adults in other fields—I imagine plenty of people get nervous for meetings or presentations at work, and you just do it anyway. Don’t let fear keep you from following your dreams. (I went there.)


Mackenzie is doing well. She loves violin music, as always. It’s great to have such an avid fan!

I’m almost to the point of pulling out my notes and info from our trip and blogging about it. I almost did yesterday but then remembered I had some work to do for something else. And then I needed a little nap and then it was time to teach…but I’m getting there. Chipping away at stuff. Technically this Saturday is a day off work but I’ll be out of town at a wedding. And it’s only one day off.

The rest of the semester should be a blast though. Four quartet concerts, a piano trio concert, a trip to Washington D.C. (to visit my friend April!), Thanksgiving in Phoenix, Christmas in California…plus loads of teaching and other random concerts. It’s all mostly at a manageable level of “busy-ness” so it’ll be good. Somehow September and early October (somehow: Bach Fugue) ended up being like a black hole…

On that note…off to run errands, then teach, practice, and teach. Really looking forward to our concert tomorrow night at Washington University: An Evening with the Schumanns. (Check it out, local readers!)

Rainy Day Thoughts

It’s been a rainy day today, hence the title. It’s rained on and off, but not too much. And it’s finally a bit cooler. Fingers crossed that fall is here!

This has been a good week for “getting things done”. My stress levels and schedule (the two DO often go together) have been at a manageable level of busy-ness and so I’m able to make progress in areas of life other than simply showing up for scheduled events and letting the rest slide. I’m getting things done around the house (this is probably an overstatement, as there’s most definitely a basket of laundry I need to fold), I’ve got the holidays planned out, I’m working on some of my commitments for SLAMTA (music teachers organization that I’m a board member of), I’m definitely caught up on paying bills, mostly caught up on some other important paperwork. OH and I’m working hard practicing for our quartet concert next week. I still need to brainstorm what needs to be done to prepare for November’s teaching and quartet commitments, but October is mostly either done or planned out.

How do you deal with your to-do list? I keep a running “to-do” list on my phone and when I have a moment I’ll check the list and see if there’s anything I can take care of. Some things stay on there for a long time, but mostly I do pretty well getting things checked off. And if there’s something super timely I’ll add a timer to it to make sure I don’t forget. For larger projects, I try to break the tasks down into manageable parts.

I never include practicing on the list—maybe I should? This year I’m trying the “binder” route where all the music I’m learning is copied and added to a binder. That way I’m not searching for things—it’s all there, and I can just grab it and start working. I have it in order of priority (what’s coming up on the next performance) right now and I’m mostly focusing on our Schumann concert next week, but I had enough time today to work on some other pieces too which was really great. It gave me the confidence that I was on track with my practicing, and also reminded me of the challenging parts from some pieces I hadn’t worked on in awhile.

This is probably the world’s most boring blog post, as it’s mostly just  a brain dump about my to-do list, but my next plan is to work through what I really need to accomplish for my private teaching studio between now and the end of the year. This weekend is the Arch Cup, a festival run by a piano teacher I know, and five students are participating. They are each playing one piece by memory for a judge, and I’ve decided to push myself with my piano skills by accompanying them. Since starting to teach at Wash U I’ve had access to a real piano several times a week in addition to a small keyboard at home, and I feel like I’m getting a bit better on a little effort. A little goes a long way, I think! Anyway, after the Cup is over then it’s time to prepare for the recital in late November…that means I’ll have to add several tasks to my to-do list, perhaps I should even do that now! (Adds: “make recital sign-up sheet” and “prepare student newsletter about upcoming performances, recital, and student accomplishments”—that’s a long one, but sometimes I’ll divide things up more later).

Nobody tells you in music school that most of your day will be spent on various administrative tasks! Being self-employed means being your own agent, secretary, president and CEO. I spend my time marketing myself and my quartet and other groups, finding places to perform, telling people about our performances, planning repertoire and rehearsals…I spend my time scheduling and rescheduling students, keeping track of payments, sending invoices as needed, figuring out who is behind on payments, finding videos and recordings to share with students, keeping current on the latest pedagogical ideas…I spend my time practicing and listening to music I’m performing or want to perform…I spend my time responding to phone calls and emails about potential jobs, gigs, and students…not to mention taking care of taxes and insurance! I love how many different things I do in my daily life, but sometimes, it can be overwhelming. Especially when then people act surprised that I do this for a living. No credit and no rest!

But I wouldn’t trade it. I live for the performances, for the “aha” moments while teaching, and for the smiles on people’s faces when they accomplish something they thought they couldn’t!

Those are some of my rainy day thoughts. Stay dry!

More of the Same

Hello readers! I’m still here, just plugging along.

I played my recital last weekend. I had a weird case of the shaky nerves. I used to have issues with shaking back in college, and took beta blockers to help deal with it for a long time, but over the past few years I’ve been playing concerts without having any issues or taking anything and it’s been great. This summer it snuck up on me. I don’t know that I want to use the beta blockers again but I did get a new prescription just in case.

I was happy the recital was done but not super happy about it overall. I liked some things, loved some, and hated others. I’m just taking time to regroup and relax now. It’s been one of those weeks since then, between some extended family health issues, the presidential election stresses, and just normal life stuff. The weekend was really nice though and yesterday I had my first day off since August 28. Really. That’s the worst stretch (or best, depending on how you look at it Winking smile) of work I’ve had in a long long time. Years? Ever?

The good news is that my bank account is back to looking good. It was a tough summer and even though our vacation was inexpensive as far as vacations go, it was still 3 weeks with no income. I do plan to sit down and start writing more about that (I’m sure you’re even tired of hearing me say that) but I haven’t quite had the energy yet. I’m getting back into running after hurting my foot (that’s part of the trip recaps) and generally being so ridiculously busy I couldn’t fathom it. It’s nice to do something good for oneself! Oh, and for the record, running is hard. Have I ever mentioned that?

Louie and I went for a hike yesterday afternoon. It was our first hike since our vacation in August and it was very nice. Hiking in Missouri isn’t like hiking in Colorado or Utah, but it still beats walking around on sidewalks! We went to West Tyson County Park and took the Flint Quarry Trail.


Pretty view! The leaves are falling and starting to look really pretty, even though the temps are still in the high 70’s in the afternoons here.

Oh, and I finally caught up on Orange is the New Black. Now watching the newest season of Longmire.

Taco Thursday

I’m still playing catch-up on life (and vacation blogging, I know, it’s seriously been like three months), and I’m still exhausted, but I am SO CLOSE. Sunday is the recital performance and then it’s all relaxing and unicorns and glitter from there on! I’m trying to stay positive and remember that ultimately, none of this matters and the sun is going to take over the earth anyway.

Last night after teaching Louie suggested we go to Olio for dinner rather than cook, so we went out for a nice meal. Olio is a place I’ve been a few times and they used to have this delicious whitefish salad that was absolutely to die for. Unfortunately it is gone from the menu. Our dinner was quite good but I’ll always miss that whitefish plate.

I’ve had the morning off, which means practicing. The joint of my right index finger is a little achy so I’ve been taking it easy. I am as ready as I’ll be at this point and it’s just a matter of relaxing. I’ve got the Bach memorized well, and I love playing it. I blame the weather for aches and pains—it feels like it’s going to rain, and we’ve finally got into some nice fall weather.

Many of you might follow me on Instagram, but if you don’t (even if you do) here are some pictures I took during the Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder run the past two weeks.




Here’s one of me in the pit. SELFIE.


I look a teensy bit creepy there, but that’s just how I look these days Smile

I know that Sunday after the performance I will feel great, and be relieved and all that, and that Monday I will be relaxed and get to sleep in and catch up on a variety of errands and all kinds of things, but until then, I’m just stressed to the max. Preparing for this concert has been much more challenging for me than I anticipated. I will probably have to give quite a lot of thought to things in the future, what went wrong, how I could have done things differently, all that.


To end on a lol note Smile

Hanging in there

This has been a hard month! So much work, so much stress. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still a small light.

I did have time to go to Trader Joe’s today. Like this time every year, a pumpkin seems to have exploded in there. I did purchase some pumpkin biscotti to enjoy with coffee as well as many of my favorite’s. Tonight is going to be salmon with maybe asparagus. Or salad with burrata cheese on top. Maybe all of the above!

The broadway show I was playing is done—it finished on Sunday afternoon. I got to see my friend April that night for dinner but was too tired and stressed to really enjoy it. This concert Sunday (2 pm! Christ Church Cathedral! FREE!!!) has just become a huge stressor, hanging over my head. I’m looking forward to being done. I don’t regret that I chose to learn and perform an incredibly difficult Bach Sonata for it, but the timing hasn’t been great. The rest of the program hasn’t been neglected, exactly, but I’m not as happy with it. Oh well.

It should be a good performance nonetheless, and then I can focus on the next performances (LOTS of quartet stuff this fall and a piano trio concert in December as well). And focus on getting back to my own life, and maybe work on mental well-being and having friends too.

Mackenzie had an ear problem this past week, culminating with a small procedure yesterday. I’m worn out from all the pet problems we’ve had this year too, just absolutely emotionally drained. 2016 has been a hard year, losing two cats, one after a difficult illness, dealing with Mackenzie losing hair and it taking forever to get diagnosed…it’s just been a lot. Hopefully this ear thing isn’t ongoing, and hopefully she can just relax and enjoy having her hair back for awhile longer.

On the bright side (besides the salmon, I mentioned the salmon, correct?) I am playing another show at the Fox next year. It’s not for a year, and maybe something else will come up in the middle, but I’ll tell you: as stressful as getting all the other parts of life to work with the show, it was so much fun to play. And it was fun to see colleagues more often, and fun to perform at a high level and have a lot of fun doing it. I always love performing and want to do more. (Maybe less stressful stuff that a solo recital though.)

Time to get back to practicing! Today I don’t teach until early evening. (Every other Tuesday I teach at Wash U in the early afternoon, and this is the week off, small victory!) And coffee drinking. What would we do without coffee?

A Night off the Ground

And so it begins…to Aspen

Bear Necessities

Leaving Aspen…Good Riddance

Moving Along

No Such Thing as a Dead Horse

Feeling at home in Arches National Park

Entering the Fiery Furnace

After leaving Arches, we headed to Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef is definitely one of the less visited parks—I’d never heard of it before starting to research this trip, and I suspect many of you haven’t either.

Capitol Reef was an odd park. There’s beautiful landscapes—the park is based on something called the Waterpocket Fold which caused most of its unusual features. But there’s also large amounts of Mormon history and historical buildings.


On our drive from Arches to Capitol Reef, we were trying to get a handle on what to expect, and we just couldn’t. This park took a little getting used to. At first I thought maybe it had too much of an identity crisis…but in retrospect, much like this blog Winking smile Capitol Reef was interesting and amazing because of all the different things it had to offer.

The park was free to enter, and in fact the only time one needed to pay was on the Scenic Drive. Our National Parks pass covered it, but it was definitely a good deal. We made a few stops and looked at various sights, natural and historical, went to the visitor’s center, and drove on the scenic drive. There was a gravel road Louie wanted to check out, but it looked like it was going to storm and I made him agree to wait until the next day.


The area looked like it had been strip mined in places, but this was all natural. Very crazy to look at, and different from the other parts of Utah we’d seen. It had certain similarities of course(it looked more like Canyonlands that Missouri does…), and especially to Colorado National Monument, but had its own feel.


I’d reserved a small cabin for the night in the border town of Torrey. The campground in the park was non-reservation, and while it turned out it wasn’t full, we were happy to have beds for the night! Before leaving the park for the evening we bought a homemade fruit pie at the historic Gifford House. That was definitely a weird thing, that there are orchards (started by the Mormon settlements) in the National Park AND that there was handmade pie for sale. We figured we’d go out to dinner and eat it afterwards.

We checked into the cabin at Torrey Trading Post. Torrey is a very small town just a few miles out of Capitol Reef. The cabin was around the side of a small store, post office, and a few private residences. We had to share bathrooms with the other few cabins (2 or 3 others) but as there were the nicest bathrooms we’d seen in awhile, it was no hardship! We took showers (ahhhh) and did laundry at a small laundromat across the street, while relaxing. There was a TELEVISION in the cabin, and Louie and I were able to watch some of the Olympics while looking at things on the internet through wi-fi. You really start to love amenities when you’ve been camping awhile!

After the laundry was done we went to Café Diablo for dinner. It was highly recommended by guidebooks and Trip Advisor and we definitely enjoyed it. The Rattlesnake cakes seemed to be the thing to order for an appetizer, and we both got various fish entrees. The chef seemed to be a really creative guy, to the point of being a little ridiculous, but it was a fun meal and we enjoyed it.


Our view from the table wasn’t too bad either.

After dinner we relaxed and shared the pie—strawberry rhubarb. Unfortunately the rhubarb wasn’t as well cooked as it should have been, but otherwise it was an excellent pie. The cabin had a little picnic table and we hung out outside for a bit and tried to angle properly to watch the sunset. It was kind of funny because there were kids who seemed to live there (it was a family owned business) running around and adults moving vehicles and yelling at each other, and there we were, on our vacation.

I slept GREAT. Sleeping in a bed was amazing.

The next morning we had a bit of a snafu. Louie had noticed that the doorknob to the cabin was a little funny, but when he returned from the bathroom first thing in the morning, we realized I was stuck in the cabin and he was stuck outside. We were having a conversation through the open window about what to do when the owner’s son heard us and called out his window did we need help. Why yes, or at least a screwdriver. After a bit of finagling (and Louie climbing IN the window to help take the door knob off) we got the door open. We were checking out soon, so we didn’t get a new knob at that time. The man was very apologetic, and we did understand. After all, we were well used to disasters! It was pretty ridiculous though, I felt. Here we were, NOT camping on the ground subject to the elements and wildlife and still managed to have a snafu.

After that excitement we headed for breakfast at the Capitol Reef Café. This was a super cute place and also advertised rooms for pretty cheap. All of Torrey was very cute, and we’d stay there again—people were friendly, and it was a VERY small town. I wouldn’t want to live there, but I would spend a few more nights on vacation happily. There was just something about the town that we both really liked—it was small, friendly, and a bit cheesy and touristy but in a totally fun way.

After a good breakfast with potatoes and veggies and eggs, it was time to hike. We started with the Chimney Rock Trail, a 3.6 mile round trip hike. The trailhead was fairly empty, except while we were getting ready at least two or three other groups were too. Meaning, all of us were leaving for the hike at the exact same time, which was sort of annoying. We managed to separate out eventually, and had a great time—the best part of seeing the parks has ALWAYS been getting on the trail.

Small soapbox: I’m a huge National Parks lover, as you can tell. But people say, oh, I don’t like all the crowds, I prefer to go to {insert place} and that means more to me. Well, of course you are entitled to your opinion—differences in opinion are important! But, if you think National Parks are simply crowded, just pick a hike rated “strenuous” or even “medium” or, that is more than 1 to 2 miles long, and you’ll get every inch of solitude you wanted, I promise! Especially at a less popular park, but even at the popular ones, like Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain, you get a lot of solitude on the trail. (Grand Canyon, I’m sure it’s only true off the main trails, but it’s still well worth doing, because there is a reason those trails are so popular.)

But I digress. The Chimney Rock trail was fantastic.


I realized this was a piece of petrified wood! Wood that has turned to rock. Don’t ask me to explain how, but you can google it Winking smile

After that hike we went and hiked on the Grand Wash Trail. This was at the end of the gravel/dirt road I’d mentioned earlier. The sun was coming out and it was getting hot by this time.


We probably added another 4 miles on that hike. I didn’t enjoy it as much—I think I don’t drink enough water when it’s hot and sunny. In any case, after the hike we had some lunch out of the cooler (I believe hummus and pita chips and fruit, we did that a lot, or peanut butter sandwiches, or bagels for lunch) AND we splurged and got another pie. This one was mixed berry and we also got ice cream and coffee to go with it.


We enjoyed our food outside the Gifford House and relaxed.


And on that note, I’m going to leave off here. Our next stop would be a campground in Escalante-Petrified Forest State Park, en route to Bryce Canyon. I’m not going to lie, I wished we were staying in the cabin another night, and I wished I’d made a slower itinerary…but looking back, it’s really amazing all the stuff we saw, all the places we went, and what we were capable of! Does that sound crazy?

(And next vacation we are spending like 3 days minimum at each place…Winking smile  and I suppose I should stop complaining about something that I brought upon us myself!)

Nights Camping: 8

Miles Hiked (estimate): 55

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.