Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Fine Art of 'Fessing Up

Today, I was in a snit.  A mood, as it were.  Raahhhhther unpleasant. 
Unfortunately, the snit turned into a bother, and the bother turned into a huff.  Then I had to go teach lessons. 

During my first lesson or two, I was ok.  Adequate.  But still a bit tetchy.  I had an underlying layer of grump.  Then it accelerated right into a full-blown peeve.  And sadly, the peeve crested right during one lesson. 

Oh, how I peeved.  I snitted and grumped and huffed.  No matter how I tried to ignore or rise above the mood, it washed over me like soupy slime.  This poor kid.  I'm usually cheerful -- silly and happy, but hardworking.  I make a heck of an effort to be in the moment as I teach.

Today, blech.  Not so. As I played and taught, I wondered how to handle this uncharacteristic buttheadedness.  So I tried my new favorite approach.

Candor.  That is one of my "words of the year."  Candor.  Just spill it.  Don't pussyfoot around, don't finesse it, don't sugar coat, just out with it. 

"Well, today? I was in a really bad grumpy mood.  I'm afraid I took it out on you a bit, and it had NOTHING to do with you.  I am having a bit of trouble with somebody, and I'm sorry.  You were fine.  I was the not-fine one.  Sorry."

And guess what she said?

"Ummm.  Ok?  I didn't notice anything."

So either she's a great liar or I'm a great actress.  But I really feel better having just outed myself.  And maybe perhaps, she can realize that adults have bad moments with friends and with colleagues and ... that it's ok to just say out loud "I'm sorry. I was a grump."  The world will not end, people will not point and laugh (necessarily). 

I'm a better person for having honestly admitted to being off my game. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Waves. Vibrations.


It's one of the best things in life, really.  Sailing alone on a little boat.  No motor, no talking, no ... nothing.  Just air.  Just water.

The best BEST part is that magical moment when the boat starts to hum.  It's momentary, and therefore, precious.  All of a sudden, when the wind is perfect and the waves are just so, the mast and the shrouds (the metal lines holding up the mast) start to vibrate together, and the whole thing is like a giant harp.  Hommmmmmmmmmmmm.   Then the wind shifts, or you hit some big waves, and it's gone.

When you're the one with your hand on the tiller and the mainsail line, you feel it before you hear it. You feel the vibrations building.  Then, the hum becomes audible.  Since you are holding onto the boat, you become part of the vibrations too.  And you're directing the boat, coaxing it, finessing the sail just so, like a cellist warming up the sound of a low note.  Hommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

Then the wind cuts out abruptly.  The hull rocks back and forth in the waves, and you hear the clankclankclank of the lines against the metal mast, the flapping and luffing of the sail.  You feel and hear the slapslap of waves against the hollow hull.  Then POP - the sail is suddenly full again, and off you go, in pursuit of bliss.  Trying to balance on the head of a pin.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Learning is a Mystery

I really wanted to entitle this entry "I Don't Believe In Learning," but thought that would make everyone hot under the collar.

And it's not true.  But ... it's kind of true.  I teach.  Four days a week, minimum, I do it.  Recently, I have been despairing that no matter what I do, no matter what they do, nobody can ever get better. 

BUT.  They do.  I do.  I mean, I'm better now that I was a year ago.  And so are they. 

But you NEVER see it happening!  I can practice double tonguing until the cows come home, but I don't get better. But then, two weeks later, I'm better.  And I can work with sight reading with my students week after week after depressing week, and they never learn anything.  But then, a month later, they do it better. 

How is this possible?  It's like... I have no idea, actually.  Sometimes I wonder if it's just time passing.  That time itself makes it happen. 

And I know I know I know that's not true.  How is it that I can hold both thoughts in my head simultaneously?  I get some kid coming in, worried because she has a concert on SATURDAY and she needs to learn this one solo in that piece NOW!  And I mentally shake my head. 

My brain whispers, "Dude.  There's no way.  It doesn't work like that.  If you don't know it now, nothing will get it learned by Saturday.  For.Get. It."  Yet I work with the student.  They figure out rhythms.  Fingerings.  Slurs and breaths.  Dynamics.  And then on Saturday night, I get a text "HEY K8! IT WAS AMAZING! YAAAAY!"
(They like all-caps.)

I guess they did learn something.  But  I didn't see it happen. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't Worry. I'll Take Good Care of It

Kissing Simon goodnight this evening, he put his hand on my chest very carefully. I asked him why, and he said, 
"I want to find your heart. 
Because that is where my love is."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Do Birds Like Cumin? [Edited, after more research]

My 8 year old son got into the car this morning for a doctor's appointment that was earrrrrly.  I sniffed and asked, "What's that smell, honey?"

"Um.  Indian spice, I think."

"Did you eat it?"

"Yeah.  I tasted it."

When we arrived at the doctor's office, I noticed a greenish-brown dust on the crown of his head.  Cumin.

"WHY?  Why did you sprinkle -- no, POUR -- cumin on your HEAD?"

"I wanted to see if I could get birds to land on me."

"By putting cumin on your head."



Well, turned out it wasn't quite as nuts as it sounds.  

Every winter we make "bird treats" by gathering pinecones, spreading them with peanut butter, and then rolling them in bird seed.
Simon apparently spread PEANUT BUTTER on his head, then thought he was sprinkling seeds on top.  He read the container which read "CUMIN SEEDS" but didn't notice the little word "ground" under the first line.  He thought, 'hey, seeds are seeds.' 
He was trying to make himself into a human bird feeder.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rodent + Radioactive Substances

Simon has a hamster named Coco.  Up to now, he's not had the best relationship with said rodent.  I believe it's because he didn't get how to hold her gently.  She let him know that she was unhappy by chomping him.

HOWEVER, he recently figured it out, and now they're the best of friends.  Like last night at bed time, I came in to kiss him goodnight, and he was on the bed, holding Coco and reading a science book.  He beamed up at me, saying, "MAMA!  I'm teaching Coco to read!"

Then he proceeded to plop her down on the book with each syllable, "Plu- TO- ni- um!"

We will have the smartest hamster ever.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

FB: It's Like Anti-Amnesia

I think we (40-somethings etc.) are in a rare, wonderful group. We are the adults who can still remember what it's like to grow up NOT knowing what happened to Mary Judd from 5th grade, or Becky from kindergarten.

And then we DID. 

We have been on both sides of the divide. Remember fantasizing about how gorgeous our first crush might have grown up to be? Or how ugly that snotty girl might be? And having it still be fantasy with no real (easy) way to confirm?

And now, there's so little unknown. My memories of Ricky Martinez still show him as a 9 year old boy who usually wore shiny dress shoes and would ride down the big metal slide on the soles of those slippery shoes, then LEAP into the air at the last moment. But if I wanted to, I could look him up and that memory would be covered by an image of (probably) a chubby, balding middle-aged man with three daughters.

I kind of like my first memory of him better.

There's no question that to have old friendships rekindled is a wonderful thing. But there's also a kind of uncomfortable 'tetheredness' when the mystique of childhood and all the stories and myths and memories are open for confirmation or rebuttal. Did I really hit Clint Vestal on the forehead with a rock that day? And did he really fall flat on his back like I remember? What if I discover that after 38 years of thinking so, I discover that I missed? And that he tripped on his shoelace?

There was a sweetness in knowing that you'd never know.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Steely Dan -- Oh, the Possibilities

Today while driving with the family, we somehow started to make spin-off joke names from Steely Dan.

A tire shop?  "Wheelie Dan's"

A sushi place?  "Eely Dan's"

A shoe store?  "Heely Dan's"

A church?  "Kneely Dan's"

A compost supply store?  "Peely Dan's"

Fishing supply?  "Reely Dan's"

Deli?  "Vealy Dan's"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Journey From Sloth and Despair, Pollock Edition

Remember how I'm continually (well, on-and-off continually) striving to eat "cleaner" and more whole-foodishly?

Yup.  Still doing it.  BUT.  Today's lunch was one of the best examples of how fresh food can be incredibly vibrant AND furkin' HEALTHY!

I have no pictures except for that of an empty plate. It was too good to stop and take pictures.

I'll write this in the order you'd need to, to serve this for yourself at lunch.

POLLOCK FILLET (about 100 grams, or a typical portion). 
Thaw it in the nuker.  Don't cook the hell out of it, just make it not frozen.

CAULIFLOWER: (about 1 cup when chopped)
Cut 1/4 of the head of a cauliflower off.  Cut off most of the stemmy part.  No need to go crazy,.  It's going to get all blended up. Chop into teeny bits.  SHOMPSHOMPSHOMP with your big knife.

[REMOVE POLLACK FILLET FROM MICROWAVE, then heat a small cast iron skillet or nonstick pan to medium]

Put CAULIFLOWER into a microwave safe bowl with a teeny sprinkling of water and microwave for a few minutes until soft.  If it starts to brown, take it out.  It's slightly overdone, but ah well.

Put fish into the pan.  If you like, put in a bit of olive oil first.  I didn't but that's just me. I don't care if it sticks.

CAULIFLOWER into a blender with a few TB of milk, some salt and pepper.  Add other herbs if you want, or some horseradish (you could add cream or butter or cheese too, but I"m goin' healthy here).  BLEND, blend, my friends, until all the lumps are gone.  No, really.  Like mashed potatoes.

When fish is nice and flaky (just like YOU! ha.), set aside.  

Put on your plate about 1/4 cup of fresh pico de gallo (I get this from the produce section of our Kroger.  It's chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and cilantro with a bit of lime juice and garlic).  Then top THAT with 1/2 of a PINK GRAPEFRUIT, supremed (that's fancy-talk for "cut in half, and cut out the good stuff in chunks and leave the grody white stuff in there").  You may want to sprinkle the grapefruit with a teeny bit of sugar or Splenda-ish stuff.

Then put your fish on top of that.  Squeeze out some of the juice from the grapefruit carcass onto the fish. 

Spoon the cauliflowertatoes onto the plate next to your pile o' healthy yum, and taste to see if it needs more salt or whatnot.  **NOTE, added later.  Before you spoon the cauliflowertatoes, CHECK to see if they are still hot.  Mine cooled off extremely quickly, and could have used a quick 30 seconds in the microwave.*

Seriously?  Only about 235 calories, and that's if you USE 1 TSP OLIVE OIL.

I give it an A+ for flavor and health.
It's a 3 out of 5 on the "pain in the butt to make" scale (5 being lasagne with homemade noodles and fresh ricotta, 1 is scrambled eggs EDITED: 1 is a PopTart)