Category Archives: Random thoughts

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.


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.


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?

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.


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.


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.


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!


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


At the St Louis Art Museum


They still had a cake at Cahokia!


Carrie looks like a movie star here.


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.


The advertisement at the park.


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.


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.


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.)


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

Happy Fourth of July

Today I am reminded of how our freedoms shouldn’t be taken for granted. Let’s all work together to make our country great for everyone!


Our local park does their fireworks show this Saturday. We will have a BBQ before it. Growing up in South Carolina, we called it a cookout if you had hot dogs and hamburgers. If you had a BBQ you had actual barbecue. Incidentally, barbecue was one of my “spelling bee words”, you know, the word that lost you the spelling bee. I spelled it “barbeque”. The thing that burns me up, RIGHT NOW, is that my blog program doesn’t mark that as misspelled. But I lost the spelling bee.

In any case, it’s a big annual event for us. I don’t even really like fireworks…I think I’ve probably complained about this before, because I’ve been complaining on this blog for years, but they are loud. I’ve played many orchestra concerts in the past where we had to play while the fireworks started, really near us, or while we had to wait for them to finish before leaving, because they were too close to leave. I am like a cat and don’t like sudden, loud noises, so I don’t really like fireworks.


I’ve been dog sitting for Banjo this week too, so I’ve got the two dogs. They don’t seem to mind the fireworks too much, though tonight will likely be louder (everybody in St Louis demonstrates their patriotism by blowing things up and making it sound like a war zone around us, and then when people complain online, they further demonstrate their patriotism by telling those people that their opinions don’t matter, that they are wrong, or that they should just suck it up, that it happens every year, and who cares if their pets are terrified—you can tell how I feel, right?).

The fact of the matter is, I haven’t found something Banjo is afraid of. I used to joke that the only thing Mackenzie is afraid of is the vacuum cleaner, and that is still mostly true, although I suppose the vet ranks pretty high up there, and then she’ll have a weird instance where she refuses to walk down a particular street, but that’s not really fear. But Banjo, he’s not afraid of the vacuum. He just stares at it blankly when I use it, which is really good for Mackenzie to see, that it isn’t something scary to Banjo. Banjo likes to sleep up against the front door, for (I presume) my protection. And the other night the fireworks from various places around us were pretty loud and Banjo kept pacing from door to door in the house. Mackenzie too. I don’t mind that they are here.

They are both old though, and sometimes I get sad thinking of it. I haven’t known Mackenzie for four years quite yet, but almost. I don’t find myself to be as physically affectionate with dogs as with cats, but she has grown on me and I don’t know what we would do without her.

ANYWAY. I should never blog before having too much coffee. You guys know I just spit this stuff out, stream of consciousness, right? This is why it’s terrible and my only followers are hate-followers.

(I hope that’s not true. You all like me well enough, correct?)

What are you doing for the fourth? I’m going to stop by a friend’s house in the afternoon before going to another friend’s house in the evening. I have beer and pasta salad to share.

Have a wonderful holiday! I hope most of you get to relax and enjoy time with friends and family!

And for today’s world rather than last summer

Tonight I had to walk two big dogs all at once. I wanted to get the walk out of the way before dark so there wouldn’t be any fireworks scaring anybody. (Grr.)

It occurred to me that there are two stages of life: planning and doing. Right now I’m in a planning, and that’s why I feel unproductive, because I’m not doing. Doing will happen lately, and there is no doing without the planning. (Well, there is, but the planning makes the doing better.) There’s your motivational speech!

I had a day off, and Louie is off on a short vacation with his family. I couldn’t go due to some work commitments, but today I had free, like I said. I made the most of it by cleaning out my dresser of clothing I don’t wear, returning lots of emails (it looks like we are playing another house concert!), writing a variety of blog posts (the others perhaps far more interesting than this one), reading, and doing tons of vacation research.

We are going to the Smokies and to Asheville for just under two weeks in August, and I have the accommodations (mostly camping, one airbnb) booked but wanted to start really planning the rest. It’s mostly going to be hiking, except while in Asheville we are visiting the Biltmore House and sightseeing in the town. So I added some hike ideas for each area (I have a google doc I have all the info on) and then did some reading. Some of it will be decided in the moment, but I wanted lots of ideas to start from.  Each vacation we take I try to learn from, and I want to make sure to plan to the end this time, and not stop before I’m finished.


I’m also researching a few vacation ideas for next summer, ha! And I got sucked into rereading some previous blog posts…sometimes I get on a kick of reading old posts, especially about vacations. I’m struck by how neurotic I can be, and how obsessed with food and exercise I was for awhile. Granted, I was thinner then, but I am still trying to figure out a way to stay in shape and eat decently without making it my life’s work. I did sign up for a 10K in October, and have been trying to run regularly to get better at it. It’s nice to not be obsessed though. Balance, right?


I was a little nervous about walking both these guys at once but they didn’t give me any problems!


From a church I played at yesterday: I think I might have to join just for the photography session.