Like Rabbits

Periodically I will think to myself, “Where has the time gone?  What have I been doing?”  And sometimes I will look here at this blog, hoping it will trigger my memory. Except it doesn’t, because I haven’t written anything in practically four months.  Apparently I have done nothing in all that time.

Nothin’ ever doesn’t change, but nothin’ changes much.

(I was just looking for an excuse to reference those lyrics, by the way.  OK Go is totally my new favorite band.)

Speaking of music, we had a little recital in June here at the house, with the new piano.  O8 and Nelya’s son, T8, played violin pieces.  I accompanied O8 on one of her pieces, and then Miss Tina played a duet with her on the other.  Our friend A9 played a few pieces on piano, as did S10 and I.  It was lovely, though a little nerve-wracking for me.  I wish my hands didn’t shake so much.  Maybe that’s something you just have to get over by doing it enough times to become immune.

But the biggest news is that we now have two bunnies.  S-then-9 got a rabbit back in March, named Bullseye.

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He was a lovely mini Rex but was, as we later discovered, rather elderly, and only lasted about a month.  Just long enough to get attached, it seems. He passed away the day after her 10th birthday, which was quite the bummer.

We found O8’s rabbit, Holly, at an ARBA show in Akron in early April.  She has a hilarious personality and is incredibly friendly.  We love to play soccer with her.

 

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Holly plays soccer

In May, just before our annual Kalahari homeschool trip, we found S10 a new bun at a breeder/4H leader’s barn in Meadville.  This was another mini Rex, but black instead of blue, and a doe.  S10 named her Ebunny.

Umbreon?

Unfortunately, when we went to the 4H -health and tattoo clinic in early June, we discovered that she was, in fact, a he.  S10 felt that she had to rename him/her, so now we have Umbreon (because everything is Pokemon these days).

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I totally see the resemblance, don’t you?

So that’s been fun and exciting, and 4H has been a good activity for all of us.  The kids are learning how to be responsible for an animal (always a good thing) and are also learning a lot about rabbits.  S10 now claims that she wants to be a rabbit breeder when she grows up.  Or sooner.

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Piano

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When I was about 12, I briefly studied piano with a creepy, bearded guy (not that the beard made him creepy, but it’s the one thing I remember about him, other than his bizarrely long, nicotine-stained fingers and the fact that he had this absolutely awful pedophile vibe). That did not last long, because we moved to another part of town where cheap piano lessons were not to be found (mostly because I was busy doing other things, like speech team and band, but possibly also because I didn’t want to deal with another weirdo trying to look down my shirt while I poked out a scale on the keyboard). I loved the piano, though, and kept playing throughout the years. But I am mostly self-taught, which is not always a good thing. In some instances – piano perhaps being one of them – it is advisable to have a teacher to critique and guide and encourage you.

S9 started taking lessons from a wonderful, non-creepy teacher last March.  Shortly after she began, I happened to mention my own small experience with piano, and the teacher happened to mention that she had another adult student, and it just became obvious that I should become her student, too.  Aside from a desire to improve my meager skills, it seemed like a good example to set for the kids, who are being forced to endure their own music lessons.  I am such a horrible, mean mom, making them do something so awful as playing music.

So the teacher and I started last June.  We began with some easier classical pieces that, after several months of work, I can say are no longer being absolutely butchered at the keyboard but are now, instead, only slightly maimed at each playing. The first pieces were Bach’s Gavotte from the Third English Suite and Beethoven’s Fuër Elise.  At our teacher’s Christmas party I played a version of Peter, Paul & Mary’s Gone The Rainbow.  In late December, I started working on Mozart’s Fantasy In D Minor.  I even accompanied O8 at her violin recitals the last two weekends.  Nevermind that my hands shake uncontrollably when I play in front of people.  If we are never uncomfortable, we are not learning or growing, right?

I still have my childhood piano.  It is a modest spinet, not a super-high-quality instrument, but she’s served her purpose without complaint over the years, and it’s hard to part with her.

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My childhood piano, a Nancy Hart spinet by the Grand Piano Co. We just call her Nancy.

But on Christmas Eve, my husband took us out to choose a beautiful, marvelous new piano, which was delivered two days later.  So now we have not one, but two pianos in our living room.

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Our new piano, a George Steck. We call him… wait for it… George.

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I love that, at any given moment of the day, someone is usually playing something on one of the keyboards.   Even O8, who is not interested in piano lessons at all, plays daily.

There’s no moral to this story, other than perhaps you’re never too old to learn something all over again.

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And that music is for everyone, even cats.

Perfect Day

Not trying to brag or anything, but today was pretty much a perfect day.  It was so nice that I want to write it down so that, later this winter, when we’re stuck inside and miserable, I can look back with jealousy fondness on these past few gorgeous hours.

First of all, the weather.  Can I just say that Ohio weather is like Longfellow’s There Was A Little Girl?  Because when it is bad, it is horrid.  But when it is good, it is very, very good.

beautifulSecond, the girls are doing an archery camp this week.  My husband wanted to check it out, so he drove them in this morning.  That meant I had two hours in the house.  To myself.  I drank my coffee while it was still hot.  I dawdled on the computer.  I putzed in my garden.  I had a shower.  Bliss.

At noon, I picked the girls up from camp and we took a picnic lunch over to a local park for a few hours.  They played, I knitted.  Then we went for a little hike.  We followed the Yellow trail and found a zillion wildflowers.  They picked some to give to their music teachers.

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Next, we went to lessons.  At violin, O7 played without a single complaint.  She was excited to show off her new violin and tell Miss Tina about all the fun things she did at Suzuki camp last week.  It was like a different person had come back from Columbus with me.   She even started a new piece, Étude, which is a big deal in Suzuki method.  Students work on one piece for many weeks, even months (years, in our case) before moving on.

At piano, S9 trotted through all of her pieces as well.  She is close to finishing one of her books and is really doing well with nuances like dynamics and tempo.

Later, we grilled things for dinner and ate out on our beautiful deck in the perfect weather.  It was just the right amount of breezy: enough to keep the bugs away, but not so much so that you had to hold onto your napkin.

Funny how such an relatively uneventful day can be so sweet.

Now There’s A Weight Off My Shoulders

I am purging today.  The kids are at an all-day gymnastics camp, DH is working in another county, and I have THE ENTIRE HOUSE TO MYSELF.  Goodness, I hardly know what to do.

Actually, I have been planning this day for nearly three weeks, ever since our gym announced the waiver day camp.  I made myself a list, because if I hadn’t, I knew that myself would waste the entire day surfing, or sleeping, or doing some other non-productive thing (like, uh, blogging.)

The list almost exclusively revolved around my studio/craft room, which of late really ought to be called The Junk Room.  Or The Scary Place.

I wanted to:

  • purge the cardboard, newspaper, and other recylcables that have accumulated since the holidays
  • organize my knitting WIPs
  • clean off the horizontal surfaces so they could be used for something productive, rather than just as long-term storage
  • go through my craft supplies
  • round up the dust bunnies

And, guess what?!  It’s only noon, and I have nearly done all of that… and then some!

In my efforts to “clean as you go” and “only touch an item once”, I have been forced to address some lingering unfinished-business types of things that have been lurking on my horizontal surfaces.  And that has been very freeing.  For example, when I got to the pile that had the girls’ Camp Fire vests and the club applications for this year (which should have been sent in LAST SEPTEMBER), I emailed the Camp Fire woman and told her we would not be participating this year.  Because, realistically, we won’t be.  It’s already freaking February.  I had noble notions and good intentions, but just not enough time.  So I took that off my plate, rather than pretend to myself and the rest of the world that we would be getting around to it someday.  We still can, if we really want to.  But purging is all about being honest with yourself, and to be honest, if I really intended to do Camp Fire this year I would have already done it.

The other thing I did was to cancel my Weight Watchers account.  I lost 55# on Weight Watchers, but not a single pound of that was in the last year.  I’m maintaining, which is fine (even though I’d still like to lose a bit more).  But what I’m NOT doing is tracking, or going to meetings, or weighing in, or counting points, or anything.  So I’m just wasting that fairly pricey monthly membership fee just to pretend I’m GOING to lose more weight.  When I’m ready to actually do that, I will sign up again.

And you know what?  I already feel several pounds lighter.

 

Nature and the Typewriter

Yesterday we went to our local metroparks with friend G, who I met years ago when she taught me and my SIL how to bellydance.  G had invited several friends to join her for a nature party at the park, with the idea that we would do some birdwatching, beading, seed trading, and get in a little hike.  As it turned out, we were the only ones able to attend, so I guess it was more of a nature “date” than a party.  No matter.

The girls and I got there in the early afternoon to find G on a lawn chair, with a nearby picnic table laid out with items for our afternoon.  She had brought a beautiful laminated bird identification guide, which helped immensely since my guide was an unwieldy National Geographic tome that was not particularly novice-friendly.  We had binoculars, and took turns watching a female blue jay and a few robins hard at work.  The girls also spotted several butterflies and damselflies.

After a quick snack, we got out our beading materials and made necklaces and bracelets.  I never knew how to attach the findings properly, so this was a fantastic little lesson for me.  G was generous enough to send us home with not just our jewellry, but also several crimp beads which I never understood how to use before (and therefore didn’t have any in my collection of supplies!)  As I have come to learn, crimp beads are pretty much essential to making jewellry you can actually wear.

We also traded some seeds; I had several extra packets of basil and borage, while she had some interesting baby zucchini and some coriander/cilantro.  Then the girls were insistent that we went on a little hike, so we put our things into the cars and walked down the asphalt trail.

It was really hot out, although the shady path and breeze made it bearable.  But the girls were thirsty, and after just a short while of walking they started complaining.  We kept encouraging them to keep going, and bribed them with the promise of a big, cold drinking fountain a little further down the trail.

The drinking fountain ended up being a lot further than either G or I remembered, however.  And just as we were about to wonder if it was a figment of our collective imagination, we rounded a little bend and saw the familiar kiosk area of Halfway Point.  Water!  Benches!!

We also saw something in the middle of the path that piqued our interest:

Write Yourself Here

“Write Yourself Here”?? We went closer to find out what it was about, and discovered a typewriter in the middle of the trail. Yes, a typewriter– a real one, with a ribbon and the little “ding” that chimes when you reach the right margin. A manual carriage return. No backspace key.

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We discovered the typewriter belonged to a woman named Maya, who calls herself the Type Rider. She is riding her bike, while trailing this typewriter and its host table on a little trailer behind her, from Massachusetts to Milwaukee. Along the way, she is stopping in smallish towns and talking with people and asking them to poke out a few words or sentences on her turquoise machine.

Maya was talking with a few other ladies who had stopped to Write Themselves Here. She was very gracious and asked the girls, who were practically jumping to try out the machine, if they wanted to type something. S8 wasted no time in sitting down.

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She tried out a few keys by typing her name. It was work for her to press them hard enough to get a good impression on the paper, but she managed. She wrote:

I love thiis typewritee r!111!!!

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Then O6 had a turn. She was a little unsure of what to say. Poor kid had a serious case of writer’s block.

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Finally, she wrote:

O6 was he re.

(Of course, she didn’t call herself “O6”, but that’s beside the point.)

After that we talked with Maya and a friend of hers, whose name I have completely forgot. The friend had been talking with G while Maya and I were discussing the project, and now she asked me how G and I knew each other. When I said she had been my bellydance instructor long ago, everyone’s ears perked up and they started asking lots of questions. So G ended up doing a very impromptu lesson in the park, and a few other people gathered around, and pretty soon about eight of us were doing (bad) hip circles in the middle of the path. It was quite incredible, actually.  And I would have taken photos, but I can’t do hip circles and operate the camera at the same time.  Pity.

Safe travels, Type Rider.

Encore Performance

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Two years ago, I bought this “Bleeding Heart” from a community plant sale.  I dutifully took it home, put it in a shady garden spot, and watched it wither away to nothing.  The following year brought neither hide nor hair of this cool-weather plant, and I assumed it had been lost forever.  However, I spotted something pink in the shrubby brush that is my main shade garden this spring.  Lo and behold, the bleeding heart has come back!  Its blooms are now gone, since this picture is about a month old, but the plant looks lush and green.  Maybe it was just lost among the weeds.  In any case, welcome back, little plant.  Hope to see you again next year.