Monday, April 20, 2015

Hits and Misses (April 12-18)

Here's a look back at the week that was....

  • This week saw two more successful performances. On Thursday evening, I accompanied the Men's Chorus of Union University in their spring performance. Friday afternoon brought the last of the semester's recital hearings. Now the end is in sight.
  • My online class also reached a milestone this week. Students submitted their final papers on Friday; now I just have to get them graded and my work there is essentially over since the final exam is automatically graded! Thank Heavens for Technology!
  • I began laying out the program for my piano studio recital to be held next month. I was a little worried that the program would be quite short due to the number of students I teach. It looks as though we're going to have a nice program now that I'm putting everything on paper. I've had fun playing with the order of performances and creating a recital that I would enjoy attending.
  • I also put some finishing touches on my solo recital that I intend to present in the fall. It looks as though the program will feature works by Haydn, Faure, Brahms, Ives, Ravel, and Poulenc that I have loved over the years. It should be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to getting back to some solo repertoire for a few months.
  • After a few disappointing months, I am feeling optimistic about my job situation. I don't have anything solid to share, but I have hope that something is ultimately going to work out for me. I'm trying to not set myself up for a fall, but it feels good to once again be hopeful about the future.
  • It's been a busy week with performances, lessons, and rehearsals. To put it simply, I'm tired! I'm having a blast making music, but it is exhausting. Things will slow down significantly in early May.
  • Despite my best efforts, I have no time to consistently blog at the moment. I really hate it, too! I was thoroughly enjoying posting several times a week. I tried to put several things out this week, but finally had to admit that I simply could not do it right now. I intend to resume my blogging schedule again in May. Until then, the weekly installments of "Hits and Misses" will have to suffice.
  • Spring allergies and flying insects are not my friends. I haven't injured myself again in an effort to kill the critters, but I don't like having them swirling around. Just another reason I miss living on the beach....
  • Midnight - p. 326 of 326 - COMPLETE! (180 pages this week)
  • Great Expectations - p. 128 of 466 (12 pages this week)
  • As you can see, I'm struggling with the Dickens this month. Really need to get this month's Reading with Jacqs volume moving along. I'm running out of time....

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hits and Misses (April 5-11)

Here's a look back at the week that was....

  • Easter Sunday was a great day. Morning worship was beautiful and an awesome reminder of the blessings we have because Christ is risen! After church, I came home to find Mom finishing preparations for lunch with the family. There was a ton of laughter and plenty of good food.
  • After all of the spring holidays, it was nice to get back to a normal routine for classes. At least the routine was GOING to be normal until.....
  • I returned home from a long day of lessons and rehearsals on Wednesday evening. I discovered a dead wasp in the floor just before stepping on it. While disposing of the insect, I realized there was another one in the room. This intruder was a kamikaze. I was extremely tired and ready for bed, but I knew I had to kill the wasp. When the wasp finally settled at the base of the wall next to my bed, I grabbed a nearby shoe to kill him. My family has a history of horrible reactions to stings; I am terrified of wasps and was not going to take a chance. So the shoe headed toward the buzzing nuisance with lots of velocity. The wasp didn't stand a chance! Neither did my right hand as it smashed into the unmoving wall. The pain was immediate; after applying an ice pack, I knew I would need an x-ray the following morning to check for internal damage. Thankfully, the doctor detected no breaks or fractures....just some swelling and bruising along the side of my hand.
  • A hurt hand is no fun for anyone. I have never grown so tired of watching television so quickly. My frustration grew as the doctor informed me that I would require at least four days of total rest from the piano to allow my hand to recuperate. That has to be the most difficult part of the recovery process! I was miserable cancelling rehearsals that needed to happen. Teaching piano lessons without the use of my right hand was much more difficult than I had anticipated. My hand is healing, but I know that I'll have to ease into the playing for the next few days....but I know my pinkie will tell me when I'm pushing too hard. Wowsers!
  • As though the scare with my hand wasn't bad enough, on Friday morning I was awakened from a deep sleep at 3:30am by a back spasm. It sucks getting old! Most of the weekend was terribly uncomfortable as I hobbled around like a duck with a wounded wing. I'm just thankful there weren't any video cameras recording the comedy!
  • Great Expectations  - p. 116 of 466 (21 pages this week) - I couldn't hold the book.....
  • Midnight by Elizabeth Miller - p. 146 of 326 (146 pages this week) - I resorted to using an e-reader!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In Search of My Story

While flipping through television channels recently, I saw a program featuring an interview with Josh Groban. While he is not my favorite singer by any means, I was looking for something musical, so I decided to take a look. That episode was the beginning of my current obsession with TLC's Who Do You Think You Are.

Who Do You Think You Are follows a new celebrity each week as they explore their family's genealogy. The stories they uncover are always fascinating and begin to provide answers to their questions. For most of my life, my brother has researched my family genealogy, but I must admit that I've never been interested in the stories. My new-found fascination with this television program has me wondering why.

I know very little about my grandparents. My maternal grandmother died when I was only 5; she was the grandmother that was adored by both of my siblings. Although I spent time at the home of my paternal grandparents, I never felt that I was permitted to know them intimately since I wasn't one of the "favored" grandchildren. So I never felt I really belonged.

I think a major reason that the family history has never interested me has been due to my feeling that all the information seems to be about the branches of the family tree rather than clearly defining our family roots. When I begin to hear stories about my parents' aunts, uncles, and distant relatives (third cousins, twice removed), I know it's interesting to them, but it's not really telling my story. I suppose that I'm mostly interested in the parent to child line -- the pedigree line. See, I'm more interested in going back in time to those men and women from whom I descended rather than connecting with distant relatives that don't share common experiences with me. I really hope that doesn't sound like I don't care about family connections; that's not the case at all. But third cousins, twice removed is really beginning to stretch the definition of "family" in my book.

I'm also realizing that I'm more interested in examining facts based on documents and primary sources rather than family anecdotes. Perhaps there won't be many of these records since (I think) most of my family were Arkansas farmers. Still, there must be records of land acquisition and other business transactions. The likelihood that all of my ancestors came from Arkansas seems highly improbable. Those are the stories that I want to did we come to be in this place and where did our family come from? Once I've established how we came to this....and even to this nation...then I may become more interested in the individual stories, but I don't want to allow myself to get bogged down in those details at this early stage of my research.

I don't know what I'll find...and I honestly don't know what I'm looking for...but I want to know more of my story. Those who went before me have made an impact on how I came to be at this place in this time and what my life has become. The researcher in me is ready to begin looking to see what I can discover. Who knows where it may lead?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hits and Misses (March 29-April 4)

Here's my weekly look back at the week that was....

  • Spring Break was a very welcome week of rest. Even though I still had responsibilities with my online class, it wasn't too much work. I enjoyed a week that didn't involve a long commute and several days of rest for my hands and mind.
  • Even though I was "resting," I did enjoy getting in some practice on solo repertoire for the first time in quite sometime. Nothing is performance ready, but it was very enjoyable to get back to the music that started this entire journey for me. I really do love sitting at my piano and playing the music of the masters of Western Art music.
  • By the middle of the week, I thought I needed to apply for dog tags! When I finally got in to get my hair cut, I felt like I had lost several pounds of extra weight from my head. It's a sad situation when you are too busy to get your hair cut. Wow!
  • Since one of my young piano students had missed her lesson for the third week in a row, I decided this was a great opportunity to explore teaching a lesson on Face Time. I had my apprehensions, but once I got into the session things actually went much smoother that I anticipated. I'm not ready to begin teaching virtual lessons exclusively, but I'm realizing that technology can be used effectively in private music instruction. I'm anxious to try it out in other situations in the near future.
  • Completing job applications is a necessity when you're in the job hunt. As much as I want a job, I'm willing to apply for any that are posted at this point. It's still not what I wanted to spend my vacation doing...but the applications are completed anyway.
  • I'm still struggling with the new wrist braces I'm sleeping in now. The extra pillow inside puts my hand in a different alignment, so I find myself needing to do a little more warming up when I get out of bed than I have been doing in the past. This could also be associated with the aging process, but for right now, I'm going to continue to attribute it to the wrist braces. (Hey, I've got to stay young as long as possible, right?)

  • Menahem Pressler - p. 282 of 282. COMPLETE!
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - p. 95 of 466

Friday, April 3, 2015

I Still Cling....

On this Good Friday, Christians around the world pause to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary's cross. This day is the very basis of our salvation and the ultimate expression of the unconditional love of God for sinful man. No wonder we set aside this day to linger at the foot of the cross!

What difference did the cross make? It provided the perfect sacrifice to redeem us from sin, but it did so much more! The cross opened the way to have a personal relationship with a loving God. It became a permanent reminder of the hope we have that death is not the final chapter. The cross teaches us that our failures do not define us and that temporary suffering is often a step to victorious living. The cross is a place of forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope. The cross is a shelter from life's storms as well as a foundation upon which we anchor our lives. The cross is everything we need.

That's why I choose to daily cling to the old rugged cross.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Egg Hunting

As a child, Easter was always an exciting day. It signaled the end of cold weather. It suggested that summer vacation was quickly approaching. The day's events were very predictable too. My family would attend church together before the kids would participate in the annual egg hunt. In addition to colorfully dyed eggs, there were plastic eggs filled with money to be found. The lucky golden egg would lead to a chocolate bunny prize....the perfect recipe for an Easter afternoon sugar rush!

Once I survived the torture of an afternoon family meal, I began the process of begging and pleading for someone to take my stash of Easter eggs and hide them again. The only stipulation was that the eggs had to be hidden really well so I would have to work very hard to find them.

Did I mention that I was not terribly good at finding Easter eggs? Inevitably, no one would remember how many eggs were hidden or where they had all been hidden. I always managed to miss one or two eggs. Frantic conversations would follow.....Did you find the one in the tree? What about the one next to the rock? In the drainage pipe? After we had exhausted our memory, we convinced ourselves that we had retrieved all of the eggs.....until our noses helped us locate the forgotten treasures in the next few days. What a stink!

This year, Easter won't include an egg hunt in the front yard. But it will always include fond memories of searches for hidden treasures. Thankfully, the greatest treasures of those Easter afternoons were the memories that I now hold in my heart.