Category Archives: Random thoughts

Swinging into Things

This month is flying by…the days are short but the hours are long. So much to do!

The truth is I actually had a two day weekend, but I spent it being stressed out. Well, not entirely, we took Mackenzie to the annual Maplewood dog swim for two days in a row. She had a wonderful time swimming and pooping in the pool (not actually allowed, but on the first day it didn’t stop her. The second day Louie had a great save…everybody is happy then, because if one dog goes, more tend to follow, thinking it’s a thing to do.)

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Yes, I already mentioned poop and I was two paragraphs in. Let me backtrack and tell you some other things too.

Saturday night I was cooking dinner and I sliced right into my finger while slicing an onion. Well, my left thumb. So then Louie helped me clean it off and we spent quite some time trying to decide what to do, unable to find an open urgent care in the area other than the ER…so eventually I decided it was okay and just needed to be wrapped really tight. There were tears and blood and probably sweat too, but it seems to be looking okay lately? Where does one go when you need urgent care after hours (8 pm ish) but not emergency? I didn’t want to pay ER prices or wait for hours over possibly getting a stitch or two.

In any case, I took a day off from violin and then the next day decided I could try it. I’m able to play, though I can’t shift into the highest of positions without difficulty, so I’ve been on a lighter practice schedule this week. I’ve got a little concert on Saturday evening with a flute and viola, so I’ve been working on that stuff, and otherwise mostly just keeping my fingers and bow in shape and trying not to stress out. I’m on a full teaching schedule this week, with all of my college and regular students scheduled and showing up, so we are really IN the swing of things, and things are swinging fast!

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I realize that doesn’t actually make any sense. I’m tired, I’ve been going nonstop until I sat down to write this (kind of a lie, I did have a short lunch break) and I even have been getting up early to run! My next day off is October 8 though, so that’s how things are going now. Busy busy!

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Sample schedule…the white parts are where I can practice and respond to emails and do all the other parts of my jobs that don’t get on the schedule.

I have to admit, after having a two day weekend I starting thinking about how life would be if I didn’t work weekends. I’d have to crunch some numbers to really figure out the difference financially, and otherwise, I’m torn. I love playing concerts, and I wouldn’t want to give those up entirely…at least not now! Maybe I’ll retire from weddings in a few years, if I can get enough money saved up, or something. I don’t know. I just know I kind of liked the two days off (that’s what normal people get every week, I hear) and it was nice being able to both be social and do some fun things and also be able to run a few errands and things. But yet, even though this week is nonstop busy, I’m loving the challenge of the flute/viola trio concert music and I wouldn’t want to not be playing that! I guess I am just thinking about the future, after all, I’ve got a milestone birthday coming up next year and I’m always trying to improve my life…or at least try to make sure I’m doing what I think is best.

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At the Cardinals game over the weekend. One of the fun/social things I mentioned. The weather last weekend couldn’t have been more beautiful. My heart goes out to everybody who was affected by the recent hurricanes while we were so lucky. It makes you really try to appreciate what you do have!

Anyway, I’m off to practice. I’m still doing the #100daysofpractice challenge on Instagram. Even though I haven’t had 100 in a row due to vacation and then a cut thumb, I will still do 100, and I’m doing every day otherwise. I think I’m following the spirit of the challenge. And it really does give me extra incentive to practice, even just a little bit, because so often that little bit turns into a much longer practice.

It’s always good to be home

Louie and I had a wonderful vacation in the Smokies and Asheville. I had every intention of starting a post about it today, but I’m a little more crunched for time than I’d thought. I promise I won’t wait too long!

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One sad thing is that we had to cut our trip short by one day. Well, that’s not what was sad. The sad thing is that my dad’s brother, my uncle Sam died and I wanted to get home so that I could get to his services which were in my Dad’s hometown in Ohio. It was nice to see my family though. I got to see my grandmother again, and my parents, sister and niece, loads of aunts, uncles, and cousins, even if it was a very short visit and for a very difficult reason. Leslie and I were able to play for the service which I find is a nice distraction and something nice to be able to do.

Then I had to hurry back home to get to work, and I feel like I’ve been working nonstop. I haven’t though, I’m just not quite on “work mode” yet. I had a few new students last week, which was fun. I had a full week of private teaching, but I haven’t started up at the colleges yet. We also had a few house guests, and of course, THE ECLIPSE, which was on Monday. We got about 45 seconds of totality, and it was really neat. I kind of wish I had known more what to expect and maybe I could have appreciated it more. Mostly I was just terrified of messing up and being permanently blinded, and that was about as far as I’d gotten.

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I felt like the eclipse really signified the end of summer. Now it’s time to buckle down for the busiest fall semester I’ve had since moving to St Louis. Performances highlights will include playing Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis, playing Tchaik 5 with the Illinois Symphony (decided I missed playing full orchestra music and I needed to remedy that, so I’m playing a few concerts with the Illinois Symphony this season), and playing the King and I in the pit at the Fox Theatre. The quartet is slow getting off the ground this year, and I think that’s okay…we had a few busy years and a lot of the things we’ve done either don’t want to book the same thing each year OR have shut down for various reasons, and I think we just got tired of pushing. We have some irons in the fire and some concerts booked for the spring and somewhat oddly, next summer.

So that’s pretty much it for now. I need to get back to practicing, and then a wedding, and then I’m tired and want to stay in and relax tonight. Last night my brother-in-law stopped through on his way home to Arizona and we went to Union Loafers for pizza (yum) and the night before another out of town friend was here, and we went to Polite Society. Next weekend April is in town visiting (woo-hoo!) and I have a million weddings too…fall is here, at least schedule-wise, and my bank account is getting happier again.

How’s your August been going?

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?

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