So close

I’m done teaching for over two weeks! This is the longest I’ve gone since Christmas Break, so I’m really pumped. Two more opera performances and then BOOM vacation time!

The bad news is the weather forecast doesn’t look fantastic. It might rain every day of the first week, at least. But I’m hopeful for scattered showers, and I do have a nice raincoat, and lots of tech fabric clothing to wear that dries. I’m not going to worry, as there’s absolutely nothing that can be done.

I am going to worry about the usual, fitting everything into the car, leaving the dog behind (not alone, obviously!), being out of touch and having people not be able to get ahold of me for a few days. But I think it’ll be a fun trip, less epic than the past two summers, and I’m thankful for that. We will explore, hike, camp, relax, and sightsee. We have tuna and beans and couscous packed (well in bags, among other excellent camping meals), sparkling water, hiking shoes and sticks, and of course a lot more. I’ve printed the itinerary already, so I’ve decided the advance planning is done, and now it’ll just be the doing and any in the moment decisions. My kindle is loaded with library books, and I’m ready!

6 more hours of work until then, not counting practice.

Oh, and we are going to try to do this hike again! Such fun!

Traveling People

It seems like the entire summer is one big vacation for most of my friends on facebook. And I’ll tell you: I love it. I love seeing the pictures! I also know that most of them aren’t actually spending the whole summer traveling, because I’m old enough to know that facebook isn’t real life. Though Louie and I start talking and we start dreaming about taking the summers off to travel…it IS possible. I’m teaching a few students this summer that are taking with me because their regular teachers are out of town or taking off for various reasons. This summer we haven’t traveled as much as previous times, and that’s okay. But I’m daydreaming about going to New England, to Glacier National Park and Banff, on a cruise, and to Japan. There are reasons for all of them, but I don’t think they will all fit into next summerSmile

Time hop is fun for this reason also. This is the time of year that I traditionally take vacation, and so I get to relive those memories.

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Isn’t Colorado the most beautiful? I always want to return there. Maybe I should seek out a summer festival after all…the older I get, the less I want to stay in one place. Then again, I’m torn, as a pet owner, because travel can be hard. Do I want more pets or do I want to be able to run away?

On a more home related side: I’ve been running 3 times a week and actually started running a little faster (shocker!) and feeling better about it. And I made these muffins and they are really quite delicious.

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I’ve been practicing every day too, teaching, and getting ready for my next trip. I’m looking forward to meeting up with April, my parents, hanging out with Louie more, doing some beautiful and challenging hikes, going to the Titanic Museum, the Biltmore House, and an electrobike tour, among other things, and of course, surprises and adventure I’m sure. (Please no bears. Please no bears!)

Off to get dog medicine and a hair cut. How’s your summer going?

Transfer Students

I’ve had a few “new to me” students this week. I enjoy transfer students because somehow it’s easier to teach a student that is already used to being taught. The ones I had this week seemed wonderful and really fun, and I’m looking forward to continuing with them.  I get new ideas from seeing how they learned in the past, too, and feel like I’m always learning and improving. Let’s not pretend: I often feel like I’m not as good of a teacher as I should be, so I’m constantly trying to figure out how to improve.

This week flew by, mostly, because the nights were full of Opera rehearsals (and last weekend.) I’m playing Carousel with Union Avenue Opera, and it opens tonight. And might I add how great it has been sitting in the back of the second violin section rather than having to lead as in other gigs I play: it is SO much easier and less stressful yet still enjoyable.

Fridays have been an interesting day in the summer, because I’ve been teaching only in the mornings, so I’m done for the day, except this whole “opera” thing later tonight. The question is, what to do this afternoon? I’ve spent 30 minutes catching up on emails and a few other items, and now, practice, read, or nap? Maybe a little of each is ideal. I am definitely on my third cup of coffee.

I have a lot things in my head, and I feel like summer is nearing an end…what else can I actually accomplish this summer while giving myself a little more time to relax before the fall hits…I’m starting to get excited, but when you basically double your weekly workload, or more, it feels a little overwhelming to look at. I do have a lovely vacation in between too!

If I sound lazy to you (which I’m sure I don’t, but in case) remember that during the school year I basically work everyday. Sometimes I think I must be crazy, but I don’t know that I chose this life: it chose me, and I kind of love it, even though I complain. I love the hustle, I love the bustle, I love feeling like I’m really pushing myself to do all these things, and I love having a varied schedule full of different things in different places. I just also love traveling, having relaxing days, and reading. It’s a constant battle.

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One last Blue Apron meal from the other week. We both loved this meal—it was absolutely delicious. Purple Rice and Miso Spinach Bowls. I do love the Blue Apron meals, but it’s a lot of work cooking each one. I’m thinking of trying something called “Platejoy” that is a meal planning service next. I do enjoy cooking but some nights want and need a 20-30 minute meal rather than a 45-60 minute meal.

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I don’t have any particularly fun plans for the weekend, just working a bit and starting to assemble what we need for the camping trip. I think it’s usually best to pack ahead of time so you know if you are missing anything! The itinerary is basically done (if you have any suggestions for Asheville/Smoky Mountains, do share in the comments though!) and it’s just a matter of loading the car and hitting the road. One more week!

Getting Ready

As you know, my work schedule is quite irregular. Some weeks I only have my students and get to have a “regular” schedule, but other weeks I have extra rehearsals and concerts which makes for a very busy week. A good skill to have is the ability to look ahead and figure out what needs to be done ahead, and also to figure out what can be done ahead to help out when work will be too busy to do anything. Since the past two weeks have been very light weeks, I’ve been working on a variety of projects to prepare for the fall. I’ve been updating my syllabi for the courses I teach, I’ve prepared new “interview” forms and questionnaires for new and returning students.

The key to being busy and getting stuff done is organization! I told Louie I feel like it doesn’t come easy to me, and he thought that was funny, because I am always working on being organized and trying new things, and I have loads of binders and notebooks, but the truth is that I still feel like so many other teachers are more organized and I can learn so much from them!

In any case, I’m also doing lots of practice, running (the heat, my god, the heat!) and relaxing. July has been a low income month, but it’s been easy and relaxing, at least. So often I’ll have busy times where I also don’t make much money, so I’d prefer this! I started a project on Instagram with the hashtag 100daysofpractice where I post a video of my practice each day. I didn’t come up with the idea, in fact, I think Hillary Hahn might have, and my friend Ingrid is doing it…in any case, I won’t have 100 days in a row because of vacation, but as I said on my first post, life isn’t perfect and if I don’t do the project because of that, then I’m already failing. Follow me there—I’m “hannahviolin.”

Other fun stuff: Some Blue Apron meals—we’ve been getting it about once a month since we started, so I believe this is our 3rd or 4th time.

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My food photography is not good, plus it’s dark by the time I eat…in any case, this was delicious: Crispy Catfish & Plum Sauce.

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And then Sweet Corn & Pepper Empanadas with Charred Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes. The radishes were amazing and I enjoyed making my own empanadas. It’s something we often share as an appetizer at Mission Taco, but it was nice to have homemade (and likely healthier) ones.  That recipe came with a side of lime yogurt for drizzling, but I wasn’t sure for which part of the meal, so we put it on everything. Sometimes you feel like Blue Apron makes you do a lot of sauces and garnishes and sometimes they are easy enough and delicious (in this case) and other times it’s a lot of effort for little. But overall, still liking the service, and we have one more meal to make from this shipment.

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The next few days are quite busy with some extra performances and rehearsals. I’m really looking forward to playing Carousel with Union Avenue Opera! And soon…vacation for real…we are going to the Smoky Mountains and Asheville. If you have any suggestions let me know! I have a lot of great ideas and a bunch of stuff already planned, but any more suggestions are welcome.

Back to practicing!

Seeing the Sights

My youngest sister Carrie visited over the past few days, with her boyfriend, Daniel, who I had not met before. We had a great time! We did end up having to bail on a short camping trip I’d planned, but I think it worked out for the best.

We visited the City Museum, the Art Museum, and the Cahokia Mounds. We went to eat at Seoul Taco, Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant (vegetarian platter is a winner!) and Bahn Mi So #1 (don’t pass up the mung bean spring rolls.) It was a short visit as they are on their way further west to visit the Badlands and Glacier National Park, but it was wonderful to see Carrie and meet Daniel. So now I’ve seen both my sisters this summer…just need to see my brother!

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Posing with some statue after crawling around the caves at the City Museum.

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At the St Louis Art Museum

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They still had a cake at Cahokia!

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Carrie looks like a movie star here.

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And then today Louie and I rode from Weldon Springs to Augusta Brewing Company, had lunch, and rode back. It was very nice! Louie said we looked like dorks in this photo, but I totally disagree.

How is your weekend going?

Vacation planning is one of my favorite things

I love planning vacations. Especially long, drawn out, and elaborate ones. I consider planning to be part of the fun of the vacation…collecting some guidebooks, reading Trip Advisor, doing other online research. I’ve gotten pretty good at planning trips over the years and I keep trying to learn from my mistakes. Currently I’m working hard on our itinerary for August, and the one thing that I always do is start to realize that I don’t have enough time EVER to visit anywhere. There is always more to do and see! There’s never enough time!

Meanwhile, I’m doing a bit of teaching (lots of people are missing this week though) and practicing, and trying to get ready for a short trip this weekend and a visit from my youngest sister, Carrie. And getting my schedule in order for fall…I’m thankful I’m getting lots of inquiries about lessons and I’m trying to fit more students in. I haven’t made too many egregious errors, but it’s only a matter of time Winking smile I find myself constantly checking my schedule to make sure I haven’t made mistakes. It’s the usual “house of cards” that violin scheduling becomes, though each year I THINK it gets easier. There’s also the wild card of not knowing what will work for my Wash U students, but that’s out of my hands. I can’t worry, I can only plan time slots to give them and hope it works out for most. I’ve got my tentative schedule for Lindenwood already set up…I have to get used to the uncertainty of the part time college teaching, I guess!

I’ve been having a fun summer though, as you can tell. We had our annual “4th of July party” which was on Saturday. The park near my house does a really nice fireworks display so we had a BBQ before it.

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The advertisement at the park.

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Getting the yard all ready for guests.

I made chocolate éclair dessert for the party. It’s pudding/graham crackers/chocolate icing treat. It was delicious, and we had two days of leftovers for dessert, which was just the right amount.

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Oh, and today I had a nice lunch with a friend. We wanted to go somewhere else, but that first choice was closed (lunch Tuesdays is a real challenge sometimes!) so we went to another place Yelp listed nearby called Papagayos. It was good! I had a fried fish.

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I should tell you guys, summer is pretty great, if it weren’t for the lack of income. I finished tonight at 6 pm, can you believe it? Oh, and I got my violin back from being fixed up/cleaned (not cheap, but worth it, I guess?) and so I was inspired to practice today. It’s beautiful! (the instrument, not necessarily my practice.)

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And now I’m going to relax and read a bit before making dinner. Tomorrow I have a few more students, and then I have visitors for the rest of the week. Summer is getting towards the end, sadly…I start opera rehearsals next weekend for Union Avenue Opera, and then that keeps me busier until our vacation. After vacation (the official vacation, seeing the Smokies) then it’s back to school for everybody and it’ll be fall. But not yet! Still time to make the best of it, to do more hiking, biking, camping, relaxing, reading, and whatever else we want to do Smile

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.