Thursday, June 30, 2011

Begin As You Would Go On

Those words (Begin as you would go on) are golden.  My dear friend and mentor, Wendy, told me a story of herself.

She was a young bride to an older husband.  She carefully made a tuna-noodle casserole for their First Dinner at home. 

Imagine her chagrin when her husband came home, and raised his eyebrows at the casserole, then suggested they go out for dinner.She had a choice.  Pitch a fit in a housewifey sort of way, or realize that a husband who'd rather go out for dinner than have her cook is not necessarily a bad thing.

She chose to dump the casserole in the trash and go out.  They went out to dinner nearly every night from then on.  They were comfortable, not broke.  They didn't have kids, and they each had careers.  So, dinners out it was, and leftovers for lunch.  Not really a bad system.

The point is, sometimes if you can see the prevailing current that exists, you can go with it and make it work for you.  Try to see the big picture, the long haul. 

When you are starting fresh in a new town (or just getting starting in the town you've been in), try to see as far ahead as you can.

How this translates into practical matters:
Set up a schedule for teaching.  Yes, I know.  You don't have any students, so your schedule is wide open.  Well, close that sucker back up.  Your teaching schedule needs to have form and boundaries.  For you, this will mean time that you set aside to be thinking and working.  For students/parents, this means that you don't sound like a loser with nothing going on.  Imagine from their perspective, talking about scheduling lessons.
 "When do you have openings for lessons?"
Non-structured answer goes like this:
"Oh, anytime.  I'm wide open. When's good for you?"
Structured is like this:
"I have openings on Tuesday night, between 5 and 6:30, and Wednesday after 7.  I could probably shuffle things around on other days, if necessary, but let's start there. Which sounds best?"

Who sounds like the professional who is in-demand and awesome and who sounds like somebody who's never taught lessons and is in it as a hobby?

Yeah.  So you get it.

Also, one of the tougher issues.

Payment.  How much to charge.
Things to know.
*You've GOTTA know the territory.  (Just like in "The Music Man.")  You have to know the prevailing rates.  Ask around.  Lie, and pose as a parent interested in lessons for a kid.  Ask about the education and experience level when you are asking about the rates.  Ask about attendance, make-ups, and any extras that come with lessons (access to recitals, classes, newsletters, memberships, etc.).

Me, personally? 
Well, I think back to Gerald Carey, my college flute professor.  When he asked how much I charged my 8 students, I told him.  He grimaced and said, "Double the fee."  I said," But I'd lose half my students!"  He replied, "So?"
I thought about that.  Half the work, same money. Hm.
Realistically, I only need (now) about 15-17 hours of lessons each week to fill my studio.  I usually hover between 14 and 16.  How many people is that?  Around 22?  Twenty-two families who can pay my rates. 
So I typically find the most expensive teacher in the area and add about 30%.  Crazy? Not really.  There are plenty of families who will shop by price, and not by cheapest price.  They equate expensive with good.  Who am I to question that logic?  I am absolutely qualified and experienced.  I know in my heart that I'm the best flute teacher they're ever likely to come across (unless they go see one of my mentors), and I can charge a lot with a completely clean conscience. 
Yes, I get some phone calls that go nowhere, because they can't pay my rates.  That's fine.  If I don't lose some that way, I'm not charging enough. 
Remember: would you rather teach 40 30-minute lessons a week at $11 each or 16 30-minute lessons at $30 each? Do the math. It's way easier to teach a lesson for $30 than it is for $11, let me tell you!

Don't charge by the lesson.  WHAT?  Yes. Really.  Charge by the semester.  If you want, divide it up into monthly payments, but they are paying TUITION.  You are not some spinster lady teaching piano surrounded by 17 cats in your living room.  You are a professional, offering a full-service studio.  You have a plan for missed lessons, you do recitals and newsletters, you are constantly doing research and educating yourself, and you aren't a babysitter paid by the hour.
For example:
If you think you can safely average $50/hour (if the prevailing fee is around $40ish), figure it out.  Between the end of August and first week of September (how I run my studio), you can count on about 35 lessons.  Remember, there's Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and a variety of other holidays to contend with, plus snow days.  Let's say 34 lessons, then.  Let's do 30 minute lessons
25 X 34 = $850.  If you have them pay tuition in Sept., Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. March, April, May, that's 9 months.  IF you do the math, that's $94.50 a month. 
Some months they will get 3 lessons (like December), sometimes 5 (March usually), and the last week of August and first of June are included.  That's not too bad!
Advantages:  You get paid even when the little darlings choose not to show up.  You know exactly how much you will be taking in for any given month.  Parents know exactly how much to write the checks for, so fewer phone calls/emails.  Also, it's much easier for any parent to remember to pay tuition when it's always the first week of the month (especially if you mail them a bill), and it's always the same.
Disadvantages: Some parents simply don't get the concept of an AVERAGE tuition payment and have kittens when they get to December and realize that "they're paying over $90 for only THREE LESSONS! INSANE!" and you have to explain, again, that it's an average.  And that in March, when they get 5 lessons, you won't charge extra.  Sigh.  (Hello, junior high math?)

Even if you only have ONE student, do the tuition system.  It's far easier to just start out that way than try to transition people after they are used to paying lesson-per-lesson or a different amount each month.  I've done both, and trust me.  It's easier to just start that way.

More later

New Town, New Studio, PART 1

You just got the word that your husband (ok, since it's my story, MY husband) has just gotten a better job!  It's got a great health plan, it's at a great university, and the town is much bigger than the current one.  And it doesn't smell bad on hot days.  WIN!

But.  You've worked for 3 years to get your studio to where it is.  And your playing gigs.  And your friendships.


Gotta do it all again.  What to do? 
[Note: I've done this .. let me see -- five times now.  I'm getting good at this]

FIRST: google your new location.  Figure out the area.  Is this a single town in the middle of nowhere?  A metroplex?  Big city?  Suburb?  Good stuff to know. 
ARE YOU Planning to stay there. Like -- grow old and die there? Or is this a stop in your bigger journey? 
[Note, again.  I tend to still approach a move the same as far as intensity goes, but if you're planning a lifetime here, be even more careful not to put your foot in it.]

Then start googling, for instance, "mid-michigan flute."  You want to know who's there.  Google it as "flute teacher, flute performer, flute lessons, etc."  If you get some studio websites, bookmark them.  If there's a university or college, note who the flute professor(s) are.  Realize that these folks are your entry points.  DO NOT piss them off.

Start calling music stores and ask for the names of their best flute instructors.  Don't stop at just one call.  Call the local schools (high school, college, etc.) or email them.  Ask the same questions.  Ask, "Who's the 'queen bee' flute teacher out here?"  If you get the same one or two names, google them.  Then get their phone numbers/emails. 

Here's the tricky part. 

Figure out who YOU are first.  Are you a new, young teacher, just happy to get started?  Just a couple students?  Are you a more experienced teacher?  In it for some better money?  Or are you angling to become the Queen yourself?  (If it's the last one, keep it to yourself... you need to know the territory before you do that.)

If you're young and getting started, simply email the professor at the college (or whomever seems to be the highest on the totem pole).  Tell them you'll be moving there sometime in the next few months, and would be honored to have their input.  Be brief.  They don't want your entire damned life story.  State it like this:
"I'm a flutist and private teacher, looking to pick up a few students when I get to Middleville, USA.  I have my Bachelor's degree in flute from Okedokey U, where I studied with Ann LeAwesome, and I taught a group of beginners at a local school. My husband I are coming to Middleville because he got a job in the Geology department, and I really am looking forward to settling in there. Will you give me some suggestions on how to get started there in your town?"

That's really all they need to know, right?  It states your pedigree (bachelor of flute, with what teacher), and your history (taught some beginners), and your intent to stay for a while (getting settled in).  They won't care about your lumbago or your parakeet.  You might add a link to your website, but don't count on them reading it. 

Now, this is the bare beginning. 

Every single time I've moved, it's taken at least (AT LEAST!!!) two YEARS to get my studio to be self-sustaining.  By that, I mean that you start getting enough referrals from current students to replace drop outs and graduates.  This has taken as many as 3 years, but usually 2. 

Once you've emailed or called some flute teachers there, you need to start to take some action.  Ask ALL the flutists you know for suggestions on who to call, places that need teachers, band directors who are awesome, people you can trust. 

REMEMBER: first impressions are totally important.  When you call, be articulate.  Be clear.  Don't blather on and on.  Don't down-talk your previous acquaintances.  The music world is small and incestuous.  The band director who was an ass to you in Indiana could well be the former roommate and best friend of your next sugar-daddy band director.  Keep your negatives to yourself. 

ALSO:  nobody is your own personal self-help book.  Everybody had their own life to live. Don't constantly badger ANYONE for help.  If you know someone is a great resource, make it a point to contact them occasionally for strictly personal reasons -- to praise their work, to ask them how they are doing, to chat.  Don't give in to the temptation to add 'just a little favor' request at the end.  People feel used when you use them.  Don't do it.

If you look at them as a mentor, acknowledge that.  It's flattering, and it defines your relationship.  If they know that they are your mentor, they will be more likely to be forthcoming with advice and suggestions.  Thank them.  Give them credit.  Praise them to others.  What goes around, comes around. 

Right now, as you are getting to know the territory and the inhabitants, (if you're anything like me) you're going to forget who is who sometimes.

Be a dork.  Make a chart.  Seriously.
Keep a notebook or something.  Use your smartphone. 
Name and title (Dr., Mrs, first name basis), and position (band director, principal flute in orchestra, etc)
Date of first contact
Method of contact that seems to work best (phone, email, text) and BE SURE to write down the info so you can call them again
*Important: keep track of who introduced you or gave you their name.  You'll want to thank them!  (old fashioned ? YEs.  Good plan?  Even yesser.)
Action: here's where you write down what to do next.  Need to call them back in September?  Can you send them brochures?  Can you come visit their school? Do you need to leave them the heck alone because you got bad vibes?

You won't need this past the first several months, but it sure helps out at first.  It's SUPER bad form to email a band director, make a good contact, set up a meeting, THEN leave them a voicemail as though the emails had never happened.  Makes the person realize that they are not memorable at all to you.  FAIL.

Get a nice stack of those big envelopes that you can send your brochures out in.  You will be sending a lot, if you do it right.  Do yourself a favor and print out the labels with addresses.  If you are snazzy, make attractive return-address labels in some distinctive color or font.  NO COMIC SANS, please.  You just want to have some brand-recognition, if possible.  I use the same watermark on all my pages that I send out (a simple stylized eighth note, nothing too girly or dorky or schmancy).  It's been easy to keep that going for years.

I sent out over 200 envelopes my first semester or so.  I researched all the local schools (elementary, middle, high school, both public and private), and got the names of all their band directors, orchestra directors, and choir directors. 
Why orchestra and choir, you might ask?  Well, imagine this scenario.  A kid is in choir.  She loves choir.  At the end of the year, her mom is at the choir concert and mentions to the director that Kid is interested in learning an instrument.  Probably flute, since they have one under the bed.  Suggestions?  Who could they call to do some lessons over the summer?  (They like the choir director, trust her.  And they don't know the band director.  Who are they going to ask?  Choir director.)  It doesn't hurt to cross-pollinate. 

I googled (and asked everybody I met) the biggest churches in the area.  I looked for their Director of Music.  Sometimes it's listed as Choir Director or Music Minister.  They each got emails to introduce myself, and I followed with an envelope with a brochure to hang in their lobby or jsut to hang on to.  I also added a business card.  THIS is a great way to nab some church gigs.  The business card might just go into the Music Minister's rolodex.  Volunteer to play one free gig at their church (I always specify "regular service or mass, not holiday" because I don't want to take a paying gig from another colleague or myself.  Christmas Eve is not a gig I'd want to play for free, either.).  If you TAKE a gig with a church, I don't care how much you are bored, STICK AROUND afterwards to schmooze.  Don't put away your instrument.  Keep it in your hand so they know that YOU were the flutist they heard.  Keep business cards in your pocket, so they can say, "oooh! My susie is looking for a teacher! Are you taking students?"  Remind them, too, that they can always get your contact  information from the Music Minister.  This ensures that at some point, someone will ask the MM about you, and will keep your name in her mind.  Devious, I know.

More later.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's The First Lesson

I have gotten lots and lots of students over the 20+ years I've taught.  The first lesson is SO important. 

Things to remember:
If the kid/adult (let's go with "kid" for simplicity's sake) has never taken music lessons ever before, that's pretty easy.  They're excited, nervous, and incredibly unsure.  But a lot of reassurance usually settles them in. 


If they have taken flute lessons before, you are being held up to the memory of the previous teacher for quite a while.  Even if they left the previous teacher on bad terms, you don't want to ever EVER talk them down.  Don't encourage it, don't do it.  Use lots of "well, we all have different approaches" or "sometimes, no matter how good the teacher or student, the chemistry isn't there, and it happens to everybody at some point." 

There are plenty of ways to prove that you're the superior teacher/player/person.  Being a bitch is NOT one of them.  And even if you don't really know the person, say, "Of course I know her!  I think I met her at... "fill in the blank with some big concert or class or something).  "What a gal!"  General statements can cover a multitude of non-comments. 

Ask the student what the other teacher did that was wonderful.  Be admiring.  Be respectful.  Praise the student for learning so much.  Say that you hope to continue the techniques that the previous teacher did (the ones that worked), but in your own way.  What were the favorite things in each lesson?  What about recitals and such?  Remember these, add to your repertoire.  Make a note.

Then, tactfully, ask what didn't seem to work for that particular student.  What wasn't too fun?  (Do NOT give in to the temptation to be snarky or know-it-all.  You can NEVER take it back)  What did you do too much? Scales? Memorization? Band music?  What did you wish you did more of?  Sight reading? duets?  Again, make a note. 

Remember: even if the student didn't take FLUTE lessons before, they may have taken piano or violin or voice lessons.  These can greatly impact the baggage the student brings to your lessons.  Ask.  "Ever take other private music lessons?  On what instrument?  What was that like?"  If you yourself ever took piano/etc. lessons, share that.  Tell a story or two about your old teacher.  REMEMBER to be positive, funny, supportive.  Not dire and dreadful.  You can joke about how you hated a particular piece or exercise.  But again, don't go negative.  You want the assumption to be that this will be GREAT.  If they talk about how much they hated a teacher or how scared they were, be sympathetic -- but just for a moment.  Then move on to how GREAT it will be with the right teacher.  Suggest that lesson teachers have come a long way since "old school" teachers. 

If the parent is there, still address almost all of the discussion and your attention to the student.  Don't ignore the parent, but you'll be a better teacher if you maintain your focus.  Towards the end of the lesson, give a brief explanation to the parent about what you expect of the kid for the week, and how to help them.  Be sure to compliment the parent on SOMETHING about the kid.  Don't get all weird and ridiculous (this kid will be in the New York Phil by the time she's 18!), but a casual comment about how well-behaved, cheerful, fun, articulate, or attentive the kid was can go a long way toward a good relationship.  Don't lie, though.  If you can't find a single genuine thing to compliment, perhaps the thing you should be saying is, "You know, I think lessons will be a great success after she's finished the school year, and has time to focus," or "While my openings right now are mostly for advanced (or older/younger) students, I know a teacher who is accepting younger/older/beginner students right now.  She and I work together -- she sends me advanced students, and I send her wonderful beginners when we don't have room."  etc. 

An aside:  try to get the student playing as fast as you can at the beginning of the lesson.  Don't wait too long or they'll get all nervous.  Suggest they warm up on something while you rummage around in your bag, looking for handouts or a book or something.  Reassure them that you're not listening.  I usually sing to myself or something to make noise.  This really helps break the ice.
Then? Ask them to play "that nice song you were just playing" again.  BE SURE to SMILE.  I don't care if they're playing 3 Blind Mice in 3/4 and in minor.  SMILE.  And be sure that they AND THE PARENT see you smiling.  Be subtle. 
Then IMMEDIATELY, when they are done, tell them what are the good things you see.  For example:
"Wow! You've got SUCH good posture.  And I sense that you really like this song?" Smile. 
"I'm hearing good tonguing, such a nice strong low sound, and you really have a handle on your fingerings!"

Do NOT say the negatives.  Do NOT DO IT.  Just stop there.  Smile

Now, the most IMPORTANT thing you can do.  Really.  Please pay attention.


Ask the kid to tell you THREE GOOD THINGS about their playing.  This is hard because they always want to tell you what's bad.  Interrupt them, and say, "No!  Good things only!"
I usually give examples, so they don't stall out.
"What's good?  some possibilities:  good tone, good high notes, low notes, tonguing, playing fast, playing slow, vibrato, sightreading, posture, hand position, and so on?"

Now here's the important part.  These THREE THINGS are things they are proud of.  DO . NOT. criticize these things in the first few lessons.  I don't care how bad their high notes are.  If they say they're good, just don't say a darned thing today about this.  They have just shared the things that they hold dearest about themselves.  They don't know it but they did.  Be smart.

When you DO eventually hit these topics, here's what you say.  "Now, your high notes are off to a REALLY good start!  We're going to build on this strength!  What can you do, you think, to make them even better?"
(It's the "even" that saves you from being evil.)

After you've asked about the THREE POSITIVE things, you can ask them "Now, what are three things you want to improve?"
Do NOT say "three things you're bad at."  They are now YOUR student.  THey're not bad at ANYTHING.  They are awesome, and they are simply trying to bring up ALL their skills to match their strongest ones.  Period.

Then? If they start rattling off tons of problem areas, interrupt them.  Say, ONLY THREE! And laugh.  And remind them that the things that they have to work hardest on will eventually be the things they are strongest on.  Tell an example of what YOU'Ve worked out.  I tell them how hard I worked on tone (for at least 3 years in college), and then I play a little bit of something luscious, and say, "See?  I now have a rockin' good tone, and I know how to TEACH it.  But if I had started out naturally good at that?  It would be harder for me to work with my students."

Finally, be sure to PLAY for them.  Little bits, here and there.  Memory, please.  Just a minute here or there of something you're awesome at.  And then, don't treat it like a performance.  You're just casually giving an example of something you are discussing (like tonguing techniques, vibrato, tone, high notes, whatever).  Let them be impressed, but DO NOT appear to be impressed with yourself.

Follow up the lesson with an email or phone call to see if what you discussed in the first lesson is still making sense.  Make it super quick, and cheerful. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Utter Brainstorming -- please ignore

Stories behind the music
(actual stories, invented, HOW TO teach that)

Music theory -- embracing different learning styles
(up down for kinesthetic, words for verbal, boxes for graphic/spatial, etc., numbers for numeric)

the initial interview of a student (w/o them knowing it's an interview ) -- dos and dont's

to push practice or not -- methods, incentives,

working with colleagues when they don't want to be colleagues

forging relationships betw. schools/studios/professors, orchestras

(the whys and hows)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Words: Girl Language vs. Boy Language

I'm not talking "Mars vs. Venus," here.  I'm talking about using words that imply that being a girl is lame, or that to be a boy is to misbehave.

"Boys will be boys."

Or a football coach yelling, "Move it, ladies!"

It drives me nuts.  I haven't found the words to describe why I hate it in military or sci-fi TV or movies, they call female senior officers "Sir."  My husband says that it's just tradition.  But they don't call the junior officers "Master" or anything.  Why not call the women "Ma'am"?  Is it so hard?  Why is that a position of honor and influence earns these women the 'right' to be called Sir?  Ugh.

And the whole, "boys will be boys" thing.  How demeaning to boys. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

If Only This Weren't True

Way back when, I had an uncle named Arnold.  Great Uncle, actually.  My gram's older brother.  There were three siblings of a rich Chicago family (thank you stock market crash for ending that trend), Arnold, then Emmelina (gram) then Dora.  My gram, daughter of a dentist, niece of a doctor,  "married beneath her" and married a trolley conductor.  The other two siblings lived in the family home in Chicago together for the rest of their lives.  It was a gorgeous 3-flat.  The first floor was the dentist office.  ANyway, Dora and Arnold were weird weird weird.  Siblings living together forever.  They were weird miser-cheap.  Dora had several fur coats, one of which was a full-length mink which she liked to "wear" for the holidays.  I say "wear," because on Christmas, they'd arrive at my gram's house, and Dora would be in a cloth coat with the mink in a brown paper bag.  She'd carry it in, hang it in the closet, then put it back in the bag at the end of the night and carry it home.  I know. 

They wouldn't allow anyone in their house (which was also supposed to be willed to my grandmother, but ... long story).  There were 3 generations of stuff, junk, crap and treasures in that place.  Unrelated, but fascinating:  when they'd all died, my father and his brother inherited the CONTENTS of the house, not the house itself.  So they had to go through it and sort out everything.  A full 18-wheeler full of trash -- literally trash-- was taken away.  We found the remains (cremated, luckily) of no fewer than 4 dogs.  And a jar of gold.

Anyway, Uncle Arnold had a pronounced hump.  He couldn't stand straight up for years.  He had started out very tall -- probably 6 foot 4 or so, and rail-thin.  I never really noticed the hump, as it was part of him for as long as I could recall.  It was extremely severe, but he didn't seem to mind.  Just put on his slacks with suspenders and went about his business.  He was actually very nice when you got past the dead dogs in boxes. 

Well, he was the first of the siblings to die.  He was probably about 80ish.  Now, realize I come from parents with dry and sick senses of humor, but that's a side they rarely show to anyone.  They are usually very sincere and kind and sweet.  Usually.  But when it came to Dora and Arnold, they really had to restrain themselves, because the whole entire situation was so ludicrous.

When uncle Arnold had died, they got called to the hospital to say goodbye with Gram and Aunt Dora.  My Aunt J. and Uncle M also went.  They went, theoretically, to comfort Gram.  Really, they went to satisfy their gruesome curiosity.  You see, my aunt and uncle are well on their way to becoming the next generation of weirdos.  They are incredibly mercenary, and love to ask inappropriate questions (what do you pay in taxes?  How much is your house worth?  Wasn't your son in jail?  Aren't you gaining weight?).  You get the idea.  So mom and dad braced themselves for what would surely prove to be a challenging experience.  Little did they know.  \\

They arrived at Methodist hospital and went up to the morgue or where ever it was they kept the body.  Mom and Dad described it like this:

"So there they were, Ma (gram), Dora, J and M all gathered around the table where uncle Arnold was laid, dressed fully, ready for the funeral home.  We (mom and dad) stood at  the foot of the bed as Ma and Dora stood at his head.  J and M stood towards the middle.  Ma kept talking to Arnold, saying things like, "now you aren't sick anymore, Arnold.  You are safe with God.  You are with our parents.  You don't have to lean over anymore Arnold. "
Dora was there too, talking to him.  "Arnold, you can feel better now.  You can stand straight now, and not have to take medicine."
All of this is so touching.  So sweet, so sisterly.  HOWEVER, what I fail to mention here is that with each statement of "you can stand straight now" and "you don't have to lean over anymore," they were gently pressing on his forehead, so instead of protruding up over the pillow, his head was flat.  They'd gently but firmly push his head down, and with their backs turned on my mom and dad, they could not see that with each push, HIS FEET WERE RISING UP OFF THE  BED.  They'd release their hands, and his head would come back up, feet would go back down.  Push head down, feet come up, let go, feet go down.  Over and over.

To make matters even sicker, when they'd push down on his head, his jaw would gape open.  My incredibly inappropriate aunt (and to a lesser degree, her husband) would lean in and peer into his mouth.  "Hey!  Did you know he has gold teeth?  I wonder if the funeral home will take them out before he's buried.  Wonder how much they're worth."

Push head down, feet come up, Aunt leans in to check out the gold teeth.  Release, feet come down, Aunt stands back up.  Repeat.

My parents were helpless with laughter.  They had tears streaming down their faces.  They simply could not stand it another moment, so at my mom's gesture, they exited the room and stood in the hall, arms around each other, tears streaming down their faces, shoulders shaking from uncontrollable mirth.  Gasps and hiccups of merriment would occasionally escape from one, prompting the other into another round of tears. 

To make matters just a leetle more impossible, a social worker, assigned to the viewing room saw my parents and understandably misinterpreted their shaking shoulders, tears and desperate embrace for grief and began to pat them, murmur words of gentle understanding, tried to guide them to a couch, tried to offer coffee or water or tissues.  This only made things worse.  They actually had to drag their sorry asses out of there, out of the hospital, far from prying eyes where they could succumb to their hysteria.

I think they still feel guilty, but ...


Post Script:  OMG.  This blog entry was MENTIONED and LINKED on another blog!  I'm FAAAAAAMOUS!
Go -- love them up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Multiple Ways To Die

Inspiring title, no?

When I first visited my in-laws' house in Maine, I noticed that the stairs were VERY steep.  More ladders than stairs.  Wowza. 

At the foot of the stairway was a gun cabinet.  (! ! ! )

I had never even SEEN a gun cabinet before.  I was a nice, suburb-raised girl.  No guns for me.  Just mafia. And they conceal.

Anyway-- it occurred to me that if you accidentally TRIPPED down those stairs, you would:
1: break your neck, legs, and possibly other body parts
2: slice your arteries and muscles on the GLASS FRONT of the gun cabinet
3: be SHOT.

So you'd be thrice dead.

Those east coasters like to kill you DEAD, if you know what I mean. 

When a Tree Falls In a Forest... What Would Chuck Norris Say?

Holy CRAP!

Welcome, one and ... well, probably one. 

I've written blogs before, but they've been business-related, or waaay too personal, etc.  But now?  Not so much. 

You know that pressure of somebody telling you, "WOW! You tell stories so well! You should write a BOOK!"?  I get that all the time.  And I'm not gonna write a damned book.  It would take training and thought and planning and dedication, of which I have ALL, but not all at the same time.  And not for months at a time.

So, I shall do this like I do everything in my life.  A bit here, a bit there.  Sometimes a monsoon, sometimes a dry, dry empty creekbed. 

I need to figure out how to post pictures and such.  (Boy.  Boring.  Off to such a good start, dontcha think?)

So there it is.