performance + work

I cannot let the week end without noting Julia’s doings.

When bad things happen it is easy to dwell on them, to obsess, to perseverate, to take the moment of the undesired happening and stretch it thin to see all of the possible consequences.  I do all of that.  And, close to relentlessly, worry.  And I am quite the expert at that.

But when good things happen, I find I breathe them in and then let them flutter away.  Sometimes I don’t even note them. Sometimes I note them, even write about them and then quickly forget them.  I expect that this is a common phenomenon that needs changing.  At least, in my life.

Julia had her first recital with her Berklee cello teacher on Sunday.  She played Minute No. 3 by JS Bach, the fourth piece in the Suzuki 2 book. The first half is in first position; after the repeat, the second half switches from first to second positions.  This piece has been a challenge for her.  She has gotten through it with repeats close to perfectly, but not consistently.  Sometimes the second position trips her up, sometimes the bowing.  Added to this, she played it as a duet with another student on the piano.  They practiced on two Saturdays during her lesson.  Last Saturday during lesson, I sat with Julia as she played, and Miles, the teacher, sat with the piano player. To say it was a work in progress was quite generous.

Still, this piece represents an incredible effort on her part.

Continue reading


I’m having a hard time writing.  With all that is swirling around in the greater Madison/ Wisconsin/USA world, with pipe bombs and the massacre in Pittsburg and the killing of Kroger shoppers in Kentucky–all just in the last week–I find it hard to take the petty concerns of my days seriously. Can we all vote now or on November 6?  Can we vote for Democratic candidates no matter how we’ve voted in the past?  We need to break the choke hold that the current administration has on the rhetoric of our nation.  I’m sorry to ask good Republicans, moderates, fiscal conservatives to betray your party.  But really, is it your party?  I find it hard to believe that the Republican judges I worked for and those I knew in the legal Indy community approve of what the Executive and Legislative branches of out federal government are doing.  Or saying.  It is horrifying to see a major American political party welcome Nazis, White Supremacists and misogynists into its ranks.  It is appalling to hear a president’s speak so disrespectfully of people, institutions, agencies that are vital to our way of life.  Today’s insult, to nullify the long-accepted constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship in the United States via executive order is absurd.  He must know that.  It is, however, a great way to rally the racists.  And when it proves not possible, he will lie and say he never said it and those same racists will believe him.  How can you stand his lies? 3084 since his inauguration, some possibly not intentional but for a president to lie unintentionally is no excuse.  It just means he didn’t both to find out the truth. Continue reading


DSC_9073West High School Choir concert last night.  Julia had a solo in the Freshman Choir’s rendition of Sia’s Rainbow.

There is backstory.

Julia has choir class every day.  We, the indomitable Anthony Cao and I, worked very intentionally helping Julia with appropriate choir behavior, that is, standing still, watching him and singing, not talking.  Julia and I have done a standing meditation since November to find out what her body does when it is still and lots of reminders (and lots of praise) for the other points.   Continue reading

walk out & choir concert

AB3B3B29-E24E-4D55-A30A-A54CD25329EAYesterday, on the month anniversary of the massacre by a 19-year old using a semi-automatic style weapon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 dead and 14 injured, students all over the United States walked out of class to protest gun violence and to demand action by their lawmakers.  These clear, young eyes see the NRA’s emasculation of the GOP, the party which controls all three branches of our federal government and 33 state houses across the USA.  They see that the best the GOP president can do is host a roundtable discussion about violent video games after the NRA made him walk back his gun control comments. I’ve heard and read “grown-ups” criticizing students for meddling in issues they do not understand and insinuating that the protesters only wanted to get out of classes, but possibly those “grown-ups” know a very different kind of student than I know.  I applaud the students who organized demonstrations of all sorts yesterday and who intend to demand more from the rest of us to end gun violence with gun control. Continue reading

movin’ may

4:00 p.m.: I’ve spent the day in the garden beds, digging up the last of the bulbs in the front terrace beds, transplanting ajuga from those same beds to the side in front of the fence.  This is a place where the worst weeds grow. Ugly, ugly, ugly.  I planted ajuga on the fence line last fall.  About a third of it took, so I’m trying again. Cutting back spent bulb plantings and weeding just a tiny bit. I have some mighty incredible weeds after our week of rain.

Julia is working on cover art for a class project while she listens to music. Kid bob mostly with a bit of classic rock mixed in. “I just love ‘Thriller,’” she tells me. How can I not smile indulgently?

For the cover art, Julia sketched the old fashion way and then transferred her drawings to an iPad app for coloring.  When finished, the enhanced drawings will all go into a collage app to be arranged on a background and titles. For a child who stumbles over simple directions, she has figured most of this out by herself. When she’s run into problems and asks me, which surprisingly she is doing with more regularity, she is patient as I figure the problem out and usually fully understands my solution about half way through my explanation. Continue reading

healing bumps

I am typing with two hands!  After weeks of big splint/cast/smaller splint, I was released to type last week and this week I have managed two days without much hand support.  The wrist bones are healed but the muscles and tendons of my hand and lower arm need much work to get back to normal. Continue reading


So much of life flies under the radar and goes unnoticed.  By me. Sometimes I notice a new hair cut, I comment on a Facebook announcement of a new job or I ask about an increased spring in a step, but so many times I miss much of the lives around me. I don’t know whether to attribute it to self-involvement, a teenager who needs attention or a general character flaw. Continue reading


Julia is still struggling with counting eighth notes, which is not unusual at her level, however, this weekend she wanted to leap to some much more advanced level.  We listened to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and she heard vibrato.  She has heard plenty of music with vibrato but this weekend she recognized it for the first time.

“What is that wobbly sound?”  And I tried to explain.

When it came time for cello practice, she tried to reproduce the sound by vibrating her bow instead of the fingers on the neck of the cello.  Quite ingenious really.  It looked very silly but she managed a sound that was something like vibrato.

When I explained how the sound was made, Julia did not like it as much as moving the bow around.  She tried it as she practiced and I asked her not to do it until Martha, her teacher, explains it much better than I could.

Bow hand and arm positions and directions, posture and sitting position, and recently having all of her tapes taken off, there seems to be plenty to concentrate on.  I send up a secret prayer that vibrato can wait a year or so down the line.

Still, gotta’ give the kid credit.