Sunday, August 30, 2009


Surprise lilies are one of the most lovely things I can think of in life. Combining the overnight-delivery of mushrooms and the elegance of something from fairy folklore, they never cease to amaze me.

Ours came from Grandmother's yard, making them that much more special.

And they have a special friend who gets to watch the full show year after year.

He was a surprise of sorts, also. I felt my garden wasn't complete without St. Francis. But so many of the St. Francis statues I see are just.....well, let's just say they're not my style, though clearly many people like them.

But one day while browsing during lunchtime among the statuary at a flower shop near my old work place, I found one that I loved. I couldn't get him that day, but I made a note of it and planned to return.

When I went back some weeks later to the statuary place to get him, he wasn't there. I couldn't find him anywhere. So I described him to the woman working there. The best St. Francis I'd ever seen. With a more ancient look, not the popularized style. Not a standing statue, but flat, for hanging. She looked and looked and finally found a mold, and showing it to me, asked, "Does this look like what you're talking about?"

I couldn't remember exactly, and seeing a mold is not the same as seeing the molded object, but it was very close if not the same, and he was holding a dove, so it probably was the same. At any rate, I liked this one, so I had them cast it for me and went back to get it a couple of weeks later.

Only after I got home did I realize that my "St. Francis" has a key hanging around a waist. I have a sneaking suspicion that I brought home St. Peter by accident.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Piedi Nudi

This is a five-minuter, to give my mind a break from other less pleasant tasks which I've been doing quite a bit of lately.

This morning, as part of an experiment, I did my morning walk barefoot. It took a bit of convincing myself, as there were quite a lot of people in the park when I went. Would they think I was crazy? Would they say anything? Look at me funny? I decided I could handle it, pulled off my shoes and socks, and walked.

The first comment I got was, "Ooh, I bet that feels good."

The next was, "Oh, you're walking barefoot?"

And the last was, "Watch out. People let their dogs do their business there on the side." (I was on the grass at that point.)

And at one point, I didn't realize anyone was around me, and I also didn't realize I said this aloud, but I saw a spot of loose, soft dirt, went straight for it and said, "Ha,ha,ha!" because my feet were in pain by that point and the softness of the dirt was so inviting. Well, a woman was jogging by and heard me and laughed.

But that was it. Some people did look, but they only smiled. No one frowned or looked at me strangely (unless they were doing it behind my back once we passed each other!)

So, yet another example of how our worst fears are rarely realized.

And a reminder of why barefoot children enjoy soft dirt so much. It felt so good!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just for Fun

For a while in college, I was an elementary education major. In our children's literature class, we were assigned to do a project of some sort that we could use later when we became teachers.

I remembered a map of Narnia that my fifth grade teacher had had on the wall, so I asked if I might borrow it. (She was also the wife of my college German professor, so it wasn't hard to get in touch with her.) She graciously loaned me the profesionally printed map, and I carefully made my own map of Narnia. Not exactly original, but I didn't know any other way to get a map like hers, which I knew I would want if I someday became a schoolteacher.

I took these pictures before finally getting it in a frame, packing it up, and sending it off to my aunt in Michigan, who actually teaches elementary school and could put it to use. I was rather attached to it, as it was quite a labor of love, but it became kind of sad to just have it sitting around in a closet all those years. I just found these photos recently (they are from January) when I was looking for something else.

Obviously, you can see more detail if you enlarge the photos. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rachmaninoff Update

Well, I did it.

After a few days of just playing scales and Hanon exercises and a little of this and that (from John Denver to old recital pieces from high school), I finally sat down the other day and pulled out Book 7 of my newer edition of the International Library of Piano Music. Opened to the prelude and made myself play through it....all the way....all the way to the end....refusing to give up no matter how many notes I missed.

And I missed a few, let me tell you! Especially in that pesante section, where your hands have to jump all the way down the keyboard and then back up to play those huge chords with all the sharps and double sharps and naturals to watch out for. And even though I have pretty large hands for a woman, I can't possibly reach those things, just have to split them and play as quickly as possible to close the gap.

And he was only 19 when he wrote it. It staggers the mind.

Ah, but in case any of my students might be reading this, I should add that I did correct every note missed along the way before going further. And next time I will divide it into small sections and work on a little at a time, rather than going from beginning to end. And, yes, I did it very--very--slowly.

And it was fun. No one else could have enjoyed hearing it. The dogs fled the room, as they often do when I play. It's never fun to hear someone else practice. But when you're the one practicing, somehow the mind doesn't seem to mind.

Anyway, I needed to do that, that getting through the entire thing. It makes it seem perhaps.....possible.

Time will tell. Thanks for your encouragement.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Minor Note

I'm going to try a new use of my blog.

For some years now I've said I wanted to learn to play (well enough to perform) Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp minor. I still haven't done it. I've played around with it and even worked on it a bit with two (or three? I'd forgotten about the two lessons with the Russian teacher till now) teachers.

But life has always gotten in the way, and I still can't play the thing.

I've also wanted to rent a cello and try learning to play it, for some time.

So, here's my idea: I'm saying as publicly as I can think to do it, that I'm going to keep working on this piece. I'll give a blog update every couple of months.

And when I do get it in performable form, then if other circumstances work out, I'm going to reward myself by renting a cello and arranging a few lessons.

Hold me accountable.