Category Archives: Random thoughts

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

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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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

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

Lazy Days

Does anybody else lose all motivation in the summer? Have I blogged about this too many times already? I feel like during the school year, until the very first day of “vacation” I am a planning and organizing beast, full of grand ideas, goals, and action plans to get there. And then here it is, almost July, and I’ve accomplished so very very little. Maybe this is the ebb and flow of life.

Things I wanted to accomplish: Learn more how to play the viola. Read several very specific books on music and music history (I’ve read a dozen mystery novels, does that count?). Reorganize my teaching studio (to be fair, I’ve done some of this). Some boring stuff involving spreadsheets, oh, and learning how to use them. Oh, and finally finished blog recaps of LAST summer’s trip (to be fair, still waiting on some pictures from Louie, haha!). There’s some random stuff I’m leaving off but you get the idea.

I suppose I should cut myself some slack, as always. I look back and see that I’ve done a fair amount of working out, lots of interesting activities, read tons of fun books, relaxed a lot, visited with friends and family…also I’ve practiced a fair amount and made progress on a decent amount of rep for the summer and fall. I’ve made some new connections and friends, and I suppose, I’m resting and recharging. But I still feel unmotivated and lazy.

Resting and recharging is probably important though, right? We need the ebb and flow of life to sustain us? I have been getting a few more “around the house “ things done, and finally took care of some car things I’d been putting off. (For a long time!)

I am looking forward to a relaxing holiday weekend. I have a few gigs and only one day off from teaching, but overall it will still be relaxing. I find mid-week “Fourth of July” holidays to be odd—do you turn it into a long weekend or just take the day off? In previous cities I’ve lived I played on various orchestra concerts on the day but here I don’t have any groups I play with.  (Suddenly I find myself very sad and missing playing more orchestra music! Well, not very sad. Slightly sad. Where does the time go?)

ANYWAY. I’m now thinking of things to do, people to contact, and I remind myself, a little laziness probably isn’t too bad, particularly for somebody as high-strung as I can be! How’s your summer going?

Officially Summer

It’s officially summer (well, as of a few days ago, whatevers) and yet, the weather is gorgeous! We’ve had some of the most beautiful days of weather ever over the past few days.

I’m not even exaggerated. last year when my sister Leslie and niece visited, it was almost too hot to do anything outside. This year…amazing. We did a bunch of stuff: Grant’s Farm, the Magic House, various ice cream shops, lots of Asian food. It was a whirlwind visit, and unfortunately I had to work a bit, but it was great fun!

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I’d gotten Candy Land awhile ago with the idea of using it for teaching somehow. We opened it to play, but Athena (not 3 years) didn’t quite understand the whole board game concept. Good yogi though.

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Selfie on the Grant’s Farm Tram. I didn’t take too many pictures, but there were bison and ostriches and deer and more!

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The goats really liked Louie.

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Nothing better than getting a toddler to hug a giant poo emoji. I didn’t realize how many stuffed animals I had until I collected them all to play with.

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They have these outside pianos places. This was on the Loop. I think the moral is, don’t leave a piano outside. It kind of ruins it.

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I had to play a few weddings one afternoon so Louie put Athena to work washing the truck. She kept saying “bad, dirty truck!” and soaping over parts he had already rinsed. Gotta teach them young how to wash a car, right?

Anyway, it was nice to see Leslie and Athena (and brother-in-law Peter for one night too). Now it’s back to the “grind” of teaching and playing.

Yesterday we recorded two pieces for a CD of saxophone and string music I’m playing on, and then today I did all manner of car related things. I’m getting some car repairs (woo-hoo…wait…) and finally got my car properly titled after my divorce. (Learn from me, don’t put things off forever, especially when it turns out they are pretty easy to deal with.) Tomorrow I have another random chamber music rehearsal, and otherwise it’s just teaching, a few weddings this weekend, and reading. I’m loving this summer so far, honestly.  One month down, approximately two to go, and the living is easy and fun. Life as a musician might not be so bad after all Winking smile

Day Off

A random Friday off is always nice, even though this month is pretty easy overall.

I feel I’ve lost my motivation to do anything musical. I haven’t really practiced at all this week! Maybe I need the downtime, but I have a stack of music to be working on, at least in the abstract, so hopefully next week will bring more motivation. Then again, motivation is something that comes from within, so I’ll look there first.

I’ve been working on reorganizing my house, especially my music collection. I keep getting more music, and hate getting rid of things, so getting it more in order will be nice. I think I’m going to get some magazine holders in order to keep stuff more together, and try to organize somewhat alphabetically/by genre/category. Any musicians have any successful ideas to share? I am not organized by nature but can work hard.

I’m working on my fall schedule as well. Well, as much as one can in June. I’ve got some wonderful “borrowed” students over the summer, but definitely have openings in the fall, especially on Wednesdays. Pass it on! I’m sometimes surprised by how quickly I go from absolutely insanely busy to, well, blogging in my pj’s after spending a few hours organizing. That’s right, I may or may not still be in my pajamas. That’s what days off are for, correct?

I suppose I spend too much time here acting silly Winking smile I was thinking earlier that I’m getting to be old and should be mature soon. I’m in my last year of my 30’s now…but I don’t always feel like I’m an adult, in the same way that I always thought my parents were adults at this age. Granted, I don’t have kids, and did I mention I’m in my pajamas? But I suppose there are times I feel adult. Right now, for instance. Spending a day off organizing my house and doing laundry is pretty adult. Also the other day I gave a student advice on how to help a younger student with a posture issue. Sometimes, in fact, I completely surprise myself with my adult-ness. (Or I’m still being silly. I think I need more coffee. Even with the day off, the sun woke me up by 7:30 am and I was planning to sleep longer after having stayed up late watching an episode of House of Cards.)

Other things I’m doing: uploading CD’s to iTunes (this is a project I started years ago but never finished) in order to be able to listen to anything I want whenever. My current impetus is because Louie is putting in a new radio in my car (the old one works only as a radio because the CD player is broken, and has no accessory function) which I can use to listen through my phone and also use as a bluetooth to talk on the phone. If I have all my music on the phone, then I can listen to any of it anytime! I learn music best when I combine the visual and the aural, and I just haven’t been listening enough since my CD player broke Sad smile

Also making an omelet with leftover potatoes from my “birthday dinner” last night (one night late.) I’m doing what I call a spanish omelet where you mix up eggs and add potatoes and whatever else to it and then cook it on low heat in a cast iron pan for around 30 minutes until it sets. It better be good!

(Last night’s dinner at Peacemaker Lobster and Crab. Lobster doesn’t fit great into my mostly veggie/fish diet, but I am okay with it plus a little sausage for special occasions. )

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That biscuit is SOOO GOOD too. I wish I could eat it right now, but I already ate it.

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And some oysters. The night was quite a splurge, but was a lot of fun. Thanks Louie!

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How are you all?