Getting ready to hit the road

There are a few things happening. One: my youngest sister Carrie is coming to visit. Two: Louie and I are getting ready to embark on a 3 week road trip. Three: Continuing to work, of course, as vacation doesn’t start early when you have 3 weeks of it coming up.

So it’s busy times, and lots of list making. I use the “to-do” list on my iPhone to keep track of things. When I think of something, I put it on the list, and then when I have a few minutes, or longer, I check the list to see if there’s anything on there I can do and get checked off. I get a huge sense of satisfaction each time I check something off, and I get to keep track of everything.

We went to Tower Taco last night for dinner. I got a vegetarian burrito and it was HUGE. It was also pretty good and I have half of it left for lunch, which I shall eat in a few minutes.

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This week teaching has been pretty easy, and I’ve been taking it easier on practicing. I still have been doing some, but it’s hard to put in the time when you know you’re going on a vacation. Of course, the fact that I’m going on a trip and won’t play for 3 weeks is exactly WHY I should still be practicing…haha. I struggle with many of the same issues my students do!

I had to take my car in for a tire repair yesterday. There’s a shop I go to that is less than a mile from my house—convenient because you can run or walk to it. I ran home (took a longer route) and was a sweaty mess by the time I got back. It probably took nearly 30 minutes after my shower before I really felt cooled off. So I didn’t want to walk back to the shop later. I took an uber from my house. It felt a little lazy, but it was nearly 110 with the heat index. My uber driver told me that he had been playing Pokemon Go at Tower Grove Park before getting my request. I’m torn on this game. I don’t play it, but I guess it’s nice that a game is getting people out and about? But then again, I hope they can appreciate getting out and seeing the world on the level of, hey, look at all this world out here to explore! I guess if a game starts that, then it’s great. I don’t know.

I’m super bummed because my friend April is moving to DC for the fall semester. She’s in grad school and it’s a sort of internship, and she’ll be gone the whole fall. She’s one of my go-to friends for fun activities, and she’s often up for hiking, running races, and doing various other activities. She’s also a wonderful friend to talk to, is so sweet and caring, and has been there for me through some tough times. I’ll miss her a ton! We are going to see a movie on Art Hill tonight (another activity! which involves bringing a picnic, which has been a minor theme of the summer) and though it’ll be really hot and humid, I’m still looking forward to it.

And then tomorrow I have 3 weddings, one is outside (ah, the heat!), and then Carrie is here. Carrie is my youngest sister and she lives in New York City. She’s just finished grad school and is quite a bit younger than me. Louie and I realized that we had a rain check for a canoe trip from the cancelled Memorial Day trip so the 3 of us are doing a float trip on Sunday.

You might not hear from me again for awhile, I’m not sure. Don’t worry, I’m just on a road trip. We are going to Aspen, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado National Monument, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP, Kodachrome State Park, Bryce NP, Zion NP, Grand Canyon North Rim, Antelope Canyon, and Las Vegas, NM. If you have any hike or must see suggestions, let me know in the comments or email! I have all of our reservations for camping made and most general plans, but there is still room for things, and choices must be made. It would be nice to not have to have all the reservations made, but it seems like in order to camp in the parks, you really have to plan ahead. Some of my reservations have been made for over 4 months! In any case, I’m super excited to see some new places, to revisit some places I’ve already been, and to spend 3 weeks traveling and hiking and camping and enjoying the great outdoors, and enjoying the wonderful National Parks!

It’s definitely July

The heat. My god, the heat. (I’m not quoting Seinfeld, he doesn’t own the English language. I made that up on my own.)

We are under a heat advisory until Friday night! This is typical for St Louis. I did go for a short run this morning—I’d gotten new shoes on a steep discount on Amazon Prime Day and was glad they arrived just before I went out. I shouldn’t have waited until 10 am to run though, as it was a heat index of 99 already. I figure it’s good to get acclimated, but also good to take it easy, keep it short, and drink loads of water.

This summer is flying by. Much like life. We are one week away from going out of town for a few weeks. ROAD TRIP. Which was the big climax of the summer and I feel like the summer has been kind of a bummer. It’s no one thing, and honestly, there have been a lot of great moments and activities. But it’s just been a tough year, for a variety of reasons, and the summer hasn’t been any easier. Between personal and career stressors, people and animals being sick and dying, and the horrible things going on in the world and politically, it’s hard to stay positive! I do need to try to do better. Louie suggested we start meditating, and maybe he’s right. I’ve never been one for sitting still and thinking or whatever meditation is about, and maybe it would be good for me.

But as usual, lots of activities. Last week we went to the Cat Video Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a fun evening, though the sound for the movies was way too loud! We laughed a lot, and enjoyed a photo booth beforehand.

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I was a VIP. This was because I paid more for our tickets and got a reserved seat. It was annoyingly an obstructed view seat. Maybe I’m complaining too much—it was fun! I wish I had cats!

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Mackenzie is doing a bit better though. Her hair is growing back in many places and she seems to be feeling a lot better too.

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April took some nice photos during the Gateway Festival Orchestra concert last weekend. I had a solo, for which I was very excited about, until I got a giant nerve attack. I was taken aback by getting all shaky as I’ve performed a lot recently, and I do have solos with Winter Opera too! But I got really shaky and didn’t have any beta blockers left…I used to take them for auditions and stuff, but ran out a few years ago and never got another prescription since I thought I was fine. So now I’m not sure what to do. Again, maybe the meditation would help. I think I’ve been under a lot of stress, much of it self-inflicted, and it WAS a big crowd, and an orchestra of people who don’t know me well, and that I was wanting so hard to make a good impression on. Oh well! I think it was still okay, and if they want to judge me for having nerve issues, then fine. Judge me. Join the crowds.

Last night we went to dinner at a restaurant called Sheesh on South Grand. I loved the presentation, so beautiful! The food was delicious as well.

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I’m off to practice for a bit before I teach. I am teaching until the night before we leave, so no rest for the weary!

Summer Time

I am a schedule person. I like having a schedule, and following it, and scheduling things, and knowing exactly how my day and week will unfold. To some that may sound rigid, but honestly, it’s what holds my life together. You can’t be a successful freelance musician and private teacher without being good at scheduling!

Of course, sometimes things change, and I have to be flexible. That’s sometimes hard for me, because like I said, I love scheduling and planning. And I often feel that it’s not fair that I should have to accommodate those that don’t—shouldn’t they accommodate me? Isn’t this why the calendar exists??

In any case, summer time is always a little more relaxed. I looked at my schedule for this week, and next, and realized I have 3 days each week that only have 2 or 3 students. Every summer I’m unhappy with how teaching works out, and I THINK that next summer I will consolidate, and only teach 3 days or something like that, rather than having 5 days of teaching but only 1-2 hours for some of those days. It’s always hard to figure out, because nobody wants to schedule, or because nobody wants to schedule as early as I do…except for the few students that ask about summer lessons even before I’ve starting thinking about it. Really I am not even the most schedule-y of all schedule-y people I know!

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(played in a new-to-me orchestra, the Gateway Festival Orchestra. I had the honor of sitting concertmaster!)

I haven’t blogged as much lately because I’ve been doing all kinds of stuff…that perhaps isn’t that interesting. I’m working hard to get everything organized for teaching in the fall. Right now that means scheduling a recital and some other things that are kind of new for my studio (fall contest and group/studio classes) and there’s lot of thinking and emailing and planning involved. I’m still processing everything from the workshop, practicing tons of rep and etudes, and brainstorming new stuff for all my students to play. All of this is happening now because in TWO WEEKS we will be in Colorado…on day 2 of our road trip, and we are going to be gone for nearly 3 weeks. (I’m comfortable telling you that because we will have a house-sitter, so don’t try anything, but also, the house-sitter doesn’t teach violin so don’t stop by for a lesson!).

Road trip plans…it’s a crazy trip. Colorado: Aspen, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado National Monument. Utah: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion. Arizona: North Rim Grand Canyon, Page (Antelope Canyon). Home through New Mexico. There’s more driving and moving than last summer, but I think it’ll be very do-able. I’m worried about how hot it will be in Utah and we are mentally prepping to be HOT, and physically prepping by being outside a lot here and making sure we have good hats, sunscreen, and loads of water.

After we get back, the fall should be fun, even though there’s a lot of stress between mid-August and mid-October.

Good news: right now Mackenzie (the dog!) is doing really quite well. Some of her hair has grown back (on her head and ears) and I’m hopeful that the new medicine will continue to help her improve. It’s been a hard year in so many ways, and having some good news is so very welcome.

We’ve been working hard planning how to make this road trip happen. We are tent camping, and we are going in Louie’s Corolla, which means space is at a premium. The goals for the trip are to keep the car organized, and to get our campsite set-up and tear-down as quick and efficient as possible! We plan to cook most of our meals at the campsite, and hope that we can manage an occasional shower and laundry—most of the campgrounds we are staying at are renowned for their locations and natural beauty but not their amenities. We do have reservations for each and every night, and most days there is only 1-3 hours of driving so we will be able to get some good hiking and sightseeing in!

Totally random post here, I know, just my thoughts. I always like to get the words down so I can look back, and you the reader can see at least what level of crazy I’m dealing with right now Smile I’m sad because my friend April is going away in the fall for an internship of sorts…she will be gone when we get back so we have been trying to hang out a lot! My youngest sister Carrie is coming to visit for a few days though, which will be delightful, and my parents might stop by at the end of their summer road trip. (They are beating our itinerary in terms of awesome and crazy by spending nearly a month on the road in ALASKA. Another time!)

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(April took these pictures last Sunday night at Wash U-Gateway Festival Orchestra. I’ll be playing again this Sunday—the weather will hopefully be nice and you can picnic in the lawn, which my friends did last week. This week Louie might bring Mackenzie so she can enjoy an orchestra concert.)

Anyway! I’m off to grab lunch with a friend/colleague. Free food from Panera, due to our having an abundance of gift cards from students.

IU Retreat for Violin and Viola Teachers

I’m home. I’ve been home for a few days.

I always forget. I forget how much you learn going to a camp or a festival or a retreat. I spent 6 days on the campus of Indiana University at the Retreat for Violin and Viola Teachers started by Mimi Zweig, and it was just amazing. I am still processing all of the information I got, and I have tons of reading and practicing, and teaching to do in order to really understand, but it was exactly what I needed. I only wish I had stayed for both parts and not left after Part I!

I was anxious going into it, but all my fears were subsided. The other participants were nice, I made friends, I wasn’t the oldest, I wasn’t the only one who had been teaching for years already. It was just a great time.

Then I had to come home, and get right back to teaching. I have just over 2 weeks now until we head out for our big summer road trip, and there’s lots to do.

I’ll write more later, what I learned (martele, we did a lot of martele…), how it was (REALLY busy! and so many meals at a coffee shop right across the street), and what I will do going forward.

It was a great experience. Next summer, part II…or both parts again.

Auntie Hannah

Over the weekend my sister Leslie and my niece Athena visited. We did all kinds of  fun stuff including the Zoo and Grant’s Farm. I took so many pictures because Athena is adorable. I felt a little overwhelmed thinking about writing about the visit, but then I realized, whatever, 1) nobody reads here anyway and 2) I can write just a little bit and that’s okay.

It was a fun weekend, though not without stresses. The dog, Mackenzie, had another allergic reaction so we had to take her on an emergency run to the vet. The good news is that she has been diagnosed with Follicular Mucinosis, which is why she’s been losing hair. As far as her red skin/itchiness, that’s mostly because of her allergies. Also she definitely has a thyroid problem, which we are treating. Since she’s gotten the diagnosis, there is also a treatment plan, which we are starting tomorrow. So hopefully she will improve and grow her hair back and be more comfortable. But we were dealing with some of that during the visit! It was also REALLY hot outside, which meant that doing outdoor activities was harder than it needed to be.

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At the airport.

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Going for a walk. I’m not sure if I was walking funny on purpose or if that’s just how I walk?

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I had to go to a meeting one morning so Leslie took Athena to a nearby park. We have one park about 2 blocks away, but this one with the giant lady bug was a little further.

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I tried to teach her the violin. As one does.

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She was giving me a little side eye. Probably because I was singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while holding her arms.

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She quickly learned that dogs will follow your directions more if you are holding part of a granola bar.

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Athena really loved the dogs (except for the short period of time Mackenzie was wearing a cone. It was a dark time and luckily it quickly passed. Not quick enough, probably, but the vet had been worried she’d rip her stitches—from the biopsy, from which the vet diagnosed her disease. Sigh.)

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This fountain was a lot of fun too.

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I love elephants! More of them kept coming over to hang out. IMG_5657

At Grant’s Farm you can buy bottles of goat’s milk to feed the goats. They love it!

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And there are camels.

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And you can feed the parakeets too.

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Unlike in May, this time Athena loved the carousel and requested to go twice.

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Some of enjoyed free beers while others looked at pictures on their phone.

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It was wonderful to have Leslie and Athena visit. Tomorrow I’m off to my workshop at Indiana University about violin pedagogy. Before that, 3 more students, then basically a week off. Except for all the classes every day!

No More Cats

Sometimes I get so sad, thinking about the poor kitties. This year I had to put down my dear Oistrakh as well as Louie’s cat, Chloe. Though they were both old, it was still challenging. I think of their last moments, and especially Chloe, who was just sitting there, looking so sweet (with her skin just a mess, because she had a skin condition) and it just makes me cry. And then poor Mackenzie, the dog, is having some weird skin condition, and she just hasn’t gotten any better, and we are waiting for the results of her biopsy. It’s been a difficult year as a pet owner, and I’m hoping it gets better instead of worse. The vet said we should know the results by Monday (she gets her stitches out then) and hopefully there is some good news.

Sigh.

Sometimes I read back through old blog posts. I’ve mentioned this before. And it’s fun to read what I was doing, but the thing that sticks out at me is that I keep talking about work the same way. I’m always either too busy or worried. I’m feeling like things are getting easier…or I’m not. As a freelancer/teacher, there isn’t a big break coming. It will likely always be like this. I won’t get to a point of feeling comfortable, because there isn’t a guarantee. I just have to get more used to it, and in a way, I have, and in other ways, I haven’t.  I’ll always be thinking of new ideas, new ways to teach, and new ways to make music. That’s just the way it is, and the way it has to be!

Several people have asked what I have coming up. For the summer, the truth is, nothing, performance-wise! Which is a little weird, but nice, and relaxing. I’m working on repertoire for the fall. In the fall so far there is some great stuff lined up: I’m playing a variety of Perseid Quartet concerts, mostly in November/early December (including one at Washington University, and one at the World Chess Hall of Fame), I’m playing another solo recital (with my pianist friend Jen) at Christ Church Cathedral in October(full of standard rep), I got asked to play with a musical at the Fox (in the pit!), and I’m playing for the First Tuesday Composer’s Club at the Dark Room in September. So the fall looks pretty fun and busy, and that doesn’t include Winter Opera and of course, my regular teaching schedule. More will be added, but that’s what I’m working on, and what I’m practicing. Some of the weeks are a little overwhelming, and mostly I’m just working on the solo Bach, because I want to be as solid on the memory of the fugue as possible, especially since I’ll be taking 3 weeks off in late-July/early August.

All that being said, I’m always up for more playing, so no one reading this should assume my schedule is at its saturation point. It’s not. I love playing concerts, I love learning new music, and I love working towards goals.

Did anybody get some vouchers from Ticketmaster? I can’t even recall what I used the site for (tickets to figure skating??) but got some vouchers. They seem basically completely useless, especially as the list seemed to have only one concert in my area, which I have absolutely no desire to see. Seems like an easy settlement, oh, let’s give our wronged customers a pretty worthless settlement. Unlike Amazon, who gave out gift card balance for the Kindle books settlement, and it’s good anything on their site, not just, say, a select amount of Kindle books, none of which you’d ever want to read or that are related in any way to the books you originally bought on the site. (It’s possible that Amazon is just a company that is far more useful to me?)

Today we have a predicted high of 101. I guess Leslie is sending part of Phoenix ahead of her Smile Stay cool my friends!

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.