April Showers

We all know that expression! But anyway. I sit here at the computer, waiting for my parents to arrive for a short visit. It’s been a hectic week, of course, but that goes without saying. I look back over the past year and am pretty happy about what I’ve accomplished, but I am finding I definitely need to stay on top of things! I’ve let a few things slide and I’m trying to figure out how to keep it all under control.

One thing I tried to incorporate last year was a monthly student newsletter. I’ve let that slide this year and, as a result, my students aren’t as up to date and informed as I’d like them to be. I had 4 students play at the Festival yesterday (so proud!) but I wanted more. I need to make sure everybody knows what is going on, because we are ALL busy and pulled in so many directions. I think the newsletter can help with that. I need to make it monthly and it needs to come at a consistent time. Maybe the first Monday of each month? I’m not going to make that this month, but I can make it a new goal.

I’ve also set up a small ad buy for my teaching website. While most of my referrals are “word-of-mouth” I know I need to be a little more proactive. I have three graduating and I’ve lost a few this semester. While I’m pretty busy at my two college positions, I still want a few more private students. A more full studio means better recitals and MORE word of mouth. All of this plays together!

This weekend has been more of a work/relax weekend than anything else. We hit up the Mexican restaurant right near our house on Friday night (they sent an email advertising cheaper than usual fish tacos so Louie and I were drawn like bugs to a light!). Yesterday I worked until 6 pm (I ended up having to judge a few students in the morning, including saxophone which is traditionally one of my least favorite instruments. I tried to be impartial and not hold it against the student though!)—Festival, rehearsal and teaching, then walked the dog, made dinner, and read. It was nice. Today I’m free until evening and am looking forward to a short visit with my parents.


My parents are pretty hard-core campers. Look at my mom standing in front of their tent in the snow! I don’t envy them too much, as it looks quite cold,  but I do envy their time to travel. (This is a thought that drives me to save for retirement..I just filed taxes and I’m currently broke because I put all my extra money into retirement savings. Fingers crossed the car repairs I sunk money into last month hold up for awhile.)

Anyway! You’re probably watching Opening Day today, but if not, come out to see me play with MOSL in Kirkwood this evening. That’s the group I’ll be solo-ing with in the fall (so excited, can’t wait, must practice!) so you’ll hear more about them in the future.

Is it the weekend yet?

Ah, Mondays. It’s especially hard to get up when it’s raining outside. Luckily my schedule is easier on Monday mornings. I wake up, have a panic of dread thinking about the state of the union and my to-do list, and then calm myself down Winking smile 

I did a good thing last night actually, and put a bunch of tasks on my to-do list. I just keep a running list on my phone and then occasionally add a date/time specific one if needed. I am often torn between making a more detailed and time sensitive list, but my method works mostly pretty well. I’m thinking of how to work on some longer term goals and if I need to revamp my routine, and I’ll ponder that some more. I’m not entirely sure of my long term goals, and I was thinking lately that maybe I should come up with some, since that’s what they say successful people do. At least some specific ones!

This week is sort of like the calm before the storm. I’m fortunate in that I have a ton of extra gigs over Holy Week, but I am considering that “the storm”. And it really starts this weekend with the Festival…so maybe it’s not so calm, but it feels it. I only have 4 students playing this weekend so it’s easier than last year. I do hope to convince more to do it next year…maybe I’ll try for a group photo and put it in the newsletter or something (also, must get back to doing newsletters!)

So there you have it, on this rainy day. I have no long-term goals and my to –do list is a mess, but I still manage Smile (I do have vague long term goals, like “retire” and “stay healthy” and “play more chamber music”)

Other randomness. We did Blue Apron last week (got a free week from Leslie) and it was pretty neat. Like Hello Fresh (which had terrible customer service) they send you a box of ingredients for three meals, along with a card for each meal telling you exactly how to prepare it. Unlike a meal where you have to figure out how the various parts fit together (what to start first, for instance) this is all done for you, which makes the meal easier. Also most stuff is already measured out, though there’s still lots of chopping and salting and peppering.


I loved this catfish!


The salad with tangelos and oranges was delicious.


The last meal I was underwhelmed by but Louie really liked it.

Anyway, we might do Blue Apron again, though it’s hard to beat the price of “free.” We are lucky to have nice friends!

Yesterday we took a short hike in Babler State Park. I didn’t take any pictures because I forgot and really it was just trees and hills and mud Winking smile Typical Missouri spring hiking, but we had a nice time. Babler has a campground and we were thinking it might be nice for a short getaway (35 minutes drive) if I ever have the time for that. (Ha!) There’s a long hike there that we want to do another time (8.5 miles), but we hiked the Dogwood Trail which was about 2 miles.

Alright! I’d better get to it. Practice, teach, teach, teach, and then maybe dinner at Lulu’s on South Grand.

Never enough

(Note to readers, I started this on Wednesday, finishing it today!)

I find myself doing what I can when I can and constantly worrying it’s not enough. Plans are made, most are followed through on, and those that aren’t I feel guilty about. I can’t change the world single-handedly, though I’ll try.

Last night I joined the Lindenwood Orchestra for their concert. On viola. It was interesting. I am glad to have something new to work on and focus a bit—I’ve been seeing vast improvements on the viola every time I pick it up, which obviously isn’t the case on violin. For violin, I had a rehearsal Monday night, went home, got my violin and music out of the backseat to bring inside and realized I didn’t have my music. I had fears of having left it in the parking lot, but I am told it is safe and will be there for me at the next rehearsal. Am I losing my mind?

The weather is getting nicer. I enjoyed the rest of my “spring break.” I read a bunch and relaxed, and it already feels far behind me. This week started with a BANG, a 13 hour day followed by an 11 hour day, but today is easier, and I get Sunday off! (If you are new, I don’t get weekends off, I’m a musician. When I refer to a day off, I mean that otherwise I work all those other days!) My arms and joints feel sore today so I’m taking a “zero day” on practice—people tell us to act like we are athletes, and athletes do rest occasionally. No practice means a little extra time (sort of, because my practice isn’t as regular as it could be, so it often means that time turns into doing all the other things on my to-do list I’ve been putting off) and maybe I’ll do a little reading. I’m rereading the Cormoran Strike books (by Robert Galbraith, who is actually JK Rowling) and I’m on the third one. It’s been long enough I forget all the details. I love rereading good books!

So life is pretty good right now. I’ve finalized reservations for our August trip and I’m working on a trip to Phoenix in May.

I haven’t been as much of an activist this month. I’ve still been making calls, faxes (resistbot, text resist to 50409) and emails, signing petitions, all that, but I haven’t shown up as much. It’s hard to do it all! I hope to do more, but I must also focus on me. I don’t want to look back and wish I’d done more, but I also feel myself getting so tired and burned out. Balance is a tough one! I was planning a thing today and then like I said, got caught up here, waiting to do something online and figuring out my grades and computer stuff. I got a run in this morning too, which was lovely. I’ve been feeling quite flabby lately, but I figure spring is a great time to turn it around and I want to be in good shape for hiking and biking! This Sunday we are thinking of taking the bikes out (I should check the weather) on the Katy Trail and enjoying a day. It’s not supposed to snow or something is it?

Friday thoughts: The week has been good, gone by fast. This Sunday it’s maybe going to rain so we will play it by ear as far as bike-riding. If Congress wants to take everybody’s health care away I’ve done my part in dissuading them…today the weather is absolutely gorgeous.

I’m happy and sad for my friend April: she is moving to Atlanta in May for a great job! I’m happy for her and sad that she is leaving. We’ve been through a lot and had a lot of fun together over the past few years! It won’t be the same without her in St Louis, but I know she will be GREAT in her new position and that she will make a difference in the world.

Getting Locked into or out of a cabin in Capitol Reef

Dearest blog readers (you know who you are),

Last summer Louie and I took a 3 week road trip. Then I got home and tried to blog about it, but as you know, life got in the way. And then I started blogging about other stuff, and doing other stuff, and leaving things behind. And here, I’m looking at a 4 day home vacation, and I thought to myself, can I still recap this trip from last August? I have notes, pictures, itinerary, some memories…so I’m going to try.

And so it begins…to Aspen

Bear Necessities

Leaving Aspen…Good Riddance

Moving Along

No Such Thing as a Dead Horse

Feeling at home in Arches National Park

Entering the Fiery Furnace

So we left off in Moab, Utah, where Louie and I had visited both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. This whole trip plan came about because I got this crazy (yes, actually maybe a little crazy) idea of seeing all 5 parks in Utah. Maybe that wasn’t actually crazy, but then adding in a few more things and making the whole trip only 3 weeks, and camping…it turned out to be pretty crazy, especially because it started with a bear attack on our car.

It seems so long ago. Last August. Pre-election nightmare. But here we are. Leaving Moab, Utah, heading the 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive to Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef was one of those places that I researched a bit but really couldn’t figure it out. It had history, natural beauty, and we would come to find out, pie.

We drove through very desolate land on our way to the park. This part of Utah (like many parts of Utah) is really desolate.


We got to Capitol Reef Park in the early afternoon. There was a welcome sign and some vault toilets at a small parking area. And nothing else. This would be a smaller, less visited park than many, and though at first we were a little confused and not sure what to do, we grew to love it.

Louie and I have a default traveling method (which I doubt is unique) where we simply try to dive into what is in front of us. So we started taking pictures, looking around, and of course doing all the pull-offs. The first pull off was a cabin that a Mormon family who lived in the area lived. It was a small cabin for a family of like, 15-20, and honestly, I don’t know how people did it back then.


The scenery was interesting. It wasn’t beautiful in a conventional sense, but it was different than anything really had been, and it was awe-inspiring.


You can faintly see some petroglyphs in this picture. The area was a mixture of Mormon pioneer and Native American history.


And strange but amazing natural features. What a weird place to live, and a weird National park, but of course it has to be a National park (for now, right? until the current administration destroys it…)


A one room schoolhouse.


We finally got to the heart of the park where there was a visitor’s center. And then drove down another road, the “Scenic Drive” which charged admission (our pass got us through of course).

I was worried about the storm though. And what I’d forgotten until this moment is that I was really, truly afraid of it. I was going through these really strong emotions about storms, after the storm at Dead Horse that looked like it could have washed us away, the crazy wind and rain at Arches that could have done the same and actually made us move our tent…I was stressed about the idea of getting washed away for real, either in our car, tent, or while hiking. So we didn’t go down a trail or anything and I kept a good eye on it all.


We passed by a place called the Gifford House and noticed it advertised pie. We went in and indeed they were selling small homemade pies. We bought a strawberry rhubarb one to have later.

I’d made a reservation at a tiny cabin for the night—it was $45 and just outside the Park in the town of Torrey, Utah. We also needed to do laundry and that was advertised as on sight.

The town of Torrey was cute and tiny and seemed only for visitors to the Park. We found our location and checked in. A little girl was working the shop when we showed up—it was a family business for sure. The place was a little bit weird but very cute. The original reason I’d made the reservation was that the Park campground was walk-in only, no reservations, and I wanted a guaranteed sleeping place. It turned out the campground had room, but I’m glad we decided to be inside for a night—the cabin was tiny and the bathrooms were across a parking lot, but it had a bed, electricity, lights, and a television which was insane! We ended up having to go across the street to another motel/store area to do laundry, but we did our laundry, used the internet, watched tv (the Olympics!) and generally relaxed. Oh, and SHOWERED. It had been awhile and the showers were great.


After awhile, we decided to have dinner in Torrey and went to a place called Diablo Café that I’d read about both on Trip Advisor and in the guidebook.


We did of course get the rattlesnake cakes. The restaurant was enjoyable and very good for the middle of practically nowhere! The chef seemed to be a creative type with a good sense of humor and the presentation of everything was over-the-top. I had tuna as well.


After dinner we went back and ate the pie outside of our cabin by a picnic table, which was maybe a little weird because the family who owned the cabins was doing work, the kids were running around, and one of the men was trying to get them to help and also kinda yelling at them…while we sat there eating pie and trying to watch the sunset.

Early the next morning, Louie got up and went to the bathroom. I suppose we had noticed that the door handle was a little funny but hadn’t given it too much thought. Until then he couldn’t get back into the cabin! It was maybe 6:30 or so, and there was a small window and we were trying to decide what to do–Louie wanted to crawl in the window and worry about it a little later, but I thought we should wake somebody up to help since they’d said to let them know of any problems—I guess we were making a bit of noise, because the man from the night before stuck his head out the window of the house and asked if we needed help. We did, so he was out a few minutes later. He jiggled the door and tried a few things, but he realized the handle was just totally messed up, so eventually Louie crawled in the window with a screwdriver and the two of them took the handle off entirely. We were leaving that morning anyway so the guy said just leave it for now and they’d deal with it later. So the door didn’t totally shut, but that was okay. Since we were pretty much up at this point, we decided to just pack up and leave.

We had plans to go hiking, but first we got breakfast at a nearby restaurant called the Capitol Reef Inn and Grill. It was very cute and also advertised places to stay for $45—that seemed to be the rate in town!.


After a filling breakfast, it was hiking time. I had two short hikes planned for the day. The first was called the Chimney Rock Trail and was about 3.6 miles and then I wanted to hike at least part of the Grand Wash Trail.

We were among the first to get to the Chimney Rock Trailhead, though oddly it seemed several cars arrived at once.  The hike started with a nice big climb and had some great views, but took awhile to get out of sight of the road.


This is the “chimney rock” that the trail is named after.IMG_5885IMG_5894IMG_5898

There were a few places along the trail that we could have taken a much longer hike, but that wasn’t in the cards for us. The hike was very nice and after we got apart from the other hikers we didn’t see anybody else until we were nearly back. We saw some petrified wood along the trail as well, which was pretty neat.IMG_5911


After that hike we drove back towards the Visitor’s Center and down the Scenic Drive to the Grand Wash. The sun was rising and the day was heating up, but we wanted to keep going, as usual! We planned to hike in a couple of miles and then back. This trail was a point to point, but we didn’t have a shuttle or a second car, so we just wanted to get an idea of it. The whole trail was in a “wash” which is basically where water goes when it floods, but otherwise is pretty flat.


After awhile, we weren’t sure how far we’d gone. We’d planned to go to the “narrows” and then turn around, but we didn’t realize at first that we had definitely already gone that far. The sun was getting pretty hot and I probably wasn’t drinking enough water so it was hard. I think we estimated we hiked 4 miles RT and then…we went to go eat lunch, and get coffee, pie (mixed berry) and ice cream.


The Gifford House is in what seems like an oasis! I don’t believe I mentioned that the reason there is pie is that there is a fruit orchard, which was (I think) started by the Mormon pioneers and now kept up by the park service. The campground we didn’t stay at is called the Fruita campground and evidently you can pick and eat the fruit from the trees around, if you like.

Overall, Capitol Reef was really unique and fascinating. Our next stop would be Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, after a short but continually scenic drive—basically on Highway 12, which is an amazing drive! Along the way we got coffee at an adorable place in Boulder. The thing about Utah is also: we passed by so many trailheads. We were now in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument—amazing stuff, really. I know I keep saying that, but it’s true.


Next Stop: Escalante Petrified Forest State Park (then Bryce and Zion)

Nights Camping: 8

Miles Hiked (estimate): 54


Ooh boy, this has been a week. Winter Opera is in full swing with Carmen (rehearsals are finally DONE) and I’ll tell, opera is physically taxing. I find I am unable to do any other real practicing during opera weeks, so that I’m both busier and oddly less busy.

The weather got chilly again, even though today it is quite clear and sunny. Very nice day for a run! I don’t know how to feel about the weather. The warmer winter has been really nice, but then I worry about what it means for the world, and I also worry about the summer and the bugs. Sigh. No way to win, right?

New thing for me: I went with a group to meet with a member of my Senator’s staff yesterday to express our concerns about various things. It was really interesting. I didn’t feel I had a whole lot to offer, but I felt I learned quite a bit, both about how the Senator’s office works, but also just generally about how meetings work and how other people do things. Music can be such a lonely and insulating world and it’s good to get out of it sometimes and see how other people function. That’s an obvious statement, I think, but it’s important. Very often musicians want to live in their own world and pretend that how things are done there is how everything is done, and the fact is: sometimes it’s nice to not worry about music or who’s hiring who or who’s got what thing going on, and worry about the state of our democracy and meet some other people who are also worried. So it’s really all the same, but it’s different.


That probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense…but I don’t know how to clarify! Just that basically, I’m glad I’m doing what I’m doing, both with music and with being politically active.  And that those worlds are separate, but I guess people are all the same.

There’s a lot going on this month. There aren’t too many performances after the opera, but April is FULL of stuff and that means this is the month to learn and rehearse. I’ve got several quartet performances, ranging from a Good Friday service to a day working with student composers…a solo performance to prepare for, several other Holy Week performances, Metro Orchestra of St Louis concert and Music Club Federation Festival (same weekend!)…there’s a lot going on. I’m taking a short spring break for myself—Louie and I talked about traveling, but it worked out that he is going to visit his day on his own because I didn’t want to miss too much teaching. Basically between now and mid-May, things are in full swing other than that short break, and so far it’s all under control. I need to get a bow rehair and change my strings after this weekend though!

So there you have it, a very boring blog entry.

I’m daydreaming about more fun activities…do you ever feel like work just overshadows everything else? Sure, I love playing the violin but doing it for a living is a lot of work! Yes, I do work. It’s work, even when I enjoy it Smile


Ah…a day off! To be fair, I’ve had at least two other days off this month, so it’s not so super rare. But it’s still nice. I am not even getting paid to protest Winking smile 

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I could have done things today, but I’m doing my part, and I must rest. Today I went for a run, I did call my congresspersons (left messages, if you are phone shy, leave messages out of office hours!), and now I’m about to make lunch and then practice. I have a lot to practice and this week I didn’t do as much as I should have.

I tell my students not to say “should” in regards to practicing, that you must do what you can, and generally every week will be full of thing to do and practicing is one of them, and that there isn’t going to be a time that you have all this free time. At least I tell my older (high school/college) students that. As blog readers know, my schedule fluctuates from having just enough time left over to feel like I should be doing more, to being slightly overwhelmed…to having so much going on life is just a blind panic. Luckily that third one is just at the ends of semesters and near Christmas, mostly!

My point here is that when I say should, I really mean…didn’t. I could have practiced more during the week but I chose to spend the time on other activities. Which means that I have some work to do, but that’s okay. The truth is, nobody really notices how well I play Winking smile

(Except me. And probably a few.)

Last night I did one of those unpaid violin teacher things and went to see some of my students perform at their school concert. It was a lot of fun! I had three playing for the annual Solo and Ensemble concert at Grand Center Arts Academy, and really enjoyed seeing them perform. I learned a little bit more about HOW they perform and got to experience it without the stress of being in charge. (Spoiler alert, they were super stressed and nervous but did well anyway). And I was very proud, and very glad I went. I don’t often get the opportunity to see my students outside of studio events simply because my schedule doesn’t allow it, but I know those sorts of things are good to do when possible.

So there’s a few random Saturday thoughts from me. Here’s an interesting article about end-of-life pet care. We aren’t there right now but I feel like all my friends have had a pet die in the last year. I’m sure that’s not actually true but since I’ve had two die, I notice these things more.

Leftovers or soup? Or both? Lunch time for me!

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.