A Little Ray of Sunshine

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Good News

Last night our landlords finally decided they wanted to keep renting this house. They really, really, really want to sell, and we would like to buy it, it's in a good location for us. But, there's a little financial gap between us and buying just now.
It's not a perfect location, but it's a reasonably good one, right downtown where it's easy to attract students, within walking distance of the library, the university, one grocery store, a book store, clothing stores, second hand and thrift stores, and so on. It's on the end of downtown closest to my parents, who live out in the country, which saves on gas. It's within walking distance of two of the places my husband is currently working at. (The third is for my parents.) We're one block from the bus station. On the downside, we're on a major road, there are a lot of apartments of the run-down sort in the area, and at least four listed sexual preditors convicted of crimes involving minors within a block of here. There is an association working on restoring the downtown area, houses and businesses both. They offer loans and some grants to homeowners for restoration projects.
Well, I am being distracted by a little boy with books, so far today we've read about rocks, the digestive system, movement, and owls, so I'd better go.

Monday, May 30, 2005


Hemi just started walking last week. He's pretty unsteady on his feet, but he seems to think walking's a better deal than crawling, for the most part. His little footsteps are regularly interspaced with solid thumps as he unbalances himself and sits down heavily on his little padded bottom. If his big brother is too close, it is safer to crawl. If Hemi is standing, Beau often regards that as an invitation to pick him up and try to carry him.
Beau is reading more and more words, and really enjoys books, especially those meant as readers for first and second graders that have a photo on one page and two or more words describing the photo on the other page. A publisher called Capstone press prints these, and we get them from the library, books about chickens, police cars, water, and anything else that strikes his two-year-old fancy. The library is running their summer reading program now, so I signed both boys up for that.
Hemi is also talking some, not much, but clearly. Mommy, Daddy, Thank you, No, Don't, Sit, Yummy, and his own name are within his capibility.
Beau's potty training is going by fits and starts. A few days ago he actually pooped in the potty all by himself. The next day he went in his pants, and wet himself several times. He seems to find it a nuisence to have to stop what he is doing to go to the potty.
Saturday, the boys 'helped' us plant the vegetables. That is, Hemi threw dirt at them, while Beau put water on them after they were planted. Beau was actually mostly helpful and Hemi managed not to damage any of the little plants.

Child Support

A court has ordered a rap star to pay $21,782 in child support each month. This is absurd. For one child, per month? You can take care of a family of four on less than that per year!
If I were this man, I'd be telling my lawyers they could have some huge sum if they got custody away from that child's mother. She is obviously not a suitable role model for any child.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Book recomendation:

Playing (less) Hurt, by Janet Horvath.

I only wish I'd had a copy of this back before 2000, when I damaged my wrist, playing. Except it wasn't published until 2002. The author is a 'cellist, one of Starker's students, and cronicles a ton of information about musicans' injuries, preventions, and rehabilitation. Maybe . . . well, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. I'll see what I can do. First, how to get to somewhere where there is someone who is a music medicine specialist. Uh-huh. Okay, time to start saving. How does New York sound to you?

A brief quote, from page 20, in regards to questionnairs recieved from 2,212 musicians in a study done by Fishbein and Middlestadt, "Medical Problems Among ICSOM Musicians: Overview of a National Survey," done in 1988. ICSOM is the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians.

"The results show that the prevalence of medical problems among ICSOM musicians is very high. In fact, 82 percent of ICSOM musicians reported experiencing a medical problem, and 76 percent listed at least one problem as severe in terms of its effects on perforance. . . . 14 percent of the musicians reported one severe problem, 14 percent indicated two, 12 percent listed three, and fully 36 percent reported four severe problems. . . . Musicians between 35 and 45 were most likely to report at least one problem (86 percent) while those under 35 and over 45 were less likely to list a problem (80 percent). Severe problems were more common in people under 35 (77 percent) than over 45 (71 percent). . . . Medical problems were most prevalent among string players, as 84 percent of them reproted at elast one medical problem and 78 percent indicated at least one severe problem."

Did you catch that? Musicians under 35 are LESS LIKELY to report a problem at ONLY 80 percent. Is there any other field of work where injury rates of 82 percent are acceptable? Or where job related injury is a more taboo topic? I spent months walking around with a wrist brace (and still wear it often, daily at times) and never realized how many of my peers were walking around hurt. Musicians just don't admit to injuries.
I hope this helps someone. Many, many thanks to the luthier who gave me this book.

In other news, I'm looking into Suzuki training. Beau insists that he wants to "Play 'cello, Mommy!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Today was the annual Crusade for Strings concert. I believe it started out as a way of attracting more attention to string players and teachers. There doesn't seem to be any lack of people interested in playing stringed intsruments now, at least, not here. I've played on it many times over the years.
I was invited to play again this year, since I'm back in town, and so I did. I played Song of the Birds by Pablo Casals, and the first movement, Allegro Moderato, of the Boccherini B flat Major Concerto. Song of the Birds is a lovely, simple little tune. The Boccherini is anything but simple and little. I've been living with a wrist injury for about six years now (it seems like forever), and by the end of the Boccherini I could not feel my hand, right hand, in fact, I nearly dropped my bow during the cadenza. By the time I'd walked off stage, though, I could feel my hand again, a surprizingly fast recovery. At this point, a couple hours later, it doesn't really hurt, though it doesn't feel quite right, but that's normal for that hand. This is why I did not pursue a solo career.
The price I pay for the performance is that I have to load the boys into the car to pick up their dad after work, well past their bedtimes. We are just waiting now until it is time to leave to get Daddy; Hemi is sleeping on a blanket on the floor, and Beau is sitting in my lap. A rare enough occurance with that young man, to be willing to sit and cuddle with Mommy. Usually he only sits still with me to read, and that not for long.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A regular sort of day

Today was a pretty typical day for us. At some point I emerged from the morning fog, aided by several cups of coffee, I'm sure. The boys were dressed, there were remnants of breakfast at the table, and some beans were soaking for chili, so evidently my morning autopilot functioned correctly. There's this bit of a tune, a chorus for a song, really, that's been bugging me, oh, since Easter, at least. It's driving me nuts, because I can't get the rest of the tune, just the chorus, and there are these lyrics that insist on associating with it. I don't do lyrics. At best, the rhymes are forced. At worst, well, let's just say, I don't do lyrics. These are at the best level, forced rhymes and all. And I'm pretty sure they're ripped off from something else. And I don't, really, really, don't do lyrics.
Anyway, I decided to write it down, and see if that would either get it out of my head or shake loose the rest of the song. No luck so far. I rounded up the manuscript paper and a pencil, looked for my triangle and couldn't find it, and decided neatness wasn't really that important since this thing ought to be in the middle and not at the top of the page anyway, only I don't know where the middle is yet. I got sat down, okay, the boys aren't attempting to kill each other, and started writing it out.
"Ding Ding Da-Da-Ding-Dong!"
The front doorbell stammers. The back doorbell rings properly, but the front doesn't seem to be able to quite get the hang of it. I put the pencil down, pissed and disoriented from being knocked out of my trance. It's got to be Mom. No one else would come by the front today. See, my brain wasn't working: it's dead week at the college and there is no way we will see Mom this week, she is too busy helping her international students with papers.
Nope, not Mom, two women in skirts. Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses. Sure enough, Jehovah's Witnesses. They looked sad. They introduced themselves, but I wasn't yet quite aware enough to catch their names. June and Jane, or something to that effect, both J's, anyway. I couldn't figure why they looked so sad, I mean, the lady next door is Mormon, but she's a sweetheart and wouldn't have been mean to them. On the other side is the accountant, and he's only in his eighties or nineties, and his secretary's nice, too. I see these people all the time, and I just couldn't figure who would have made these two women so unhappy. They gave me their little speech with the Bible Verse while I stood there blinking the notes out of my mind, Beau jumped up and down being two, and Hemi came crawling up to see if it was Nana.
They wanted to give me their Watchtowers, and I said No, thanks, explained that I go up to the Methodist Church. (literally, up hill.) Then I explained what I am doing for Habitat (in ten words or less) and what Habitat is (in twenty words or less) and asked if they thought there was anyone in their church I could contact to see if their church would be interested. They were very doubtful about this, but said that there is some elder I could contact. I'm not sure elder was the term they used, but I was still somewhat dazed. I got the impression that the man (quite sure about that) was the Jehovah's Witness equivalent of a pastor, anyway. So I said good bye and herded the boys back inside and went back to this wretched little snatch of tune.
My husband came home from running some errands up at the University, and I went to expose the tomatos and peppers to the daylight. Some tulips have come up in the planned vegetable garden, and I have been excavating them and putting them in a planter for now. Still, there is a lot of digging to be done to turn over the soil there, and some of the ones down on the end are blooming. Or were. I picked all the tulips and brought them in. They are red and lavender, and look very interesting in the vases. I have a mystery plant in the future vegetable garden. The known plants are the tulips, violets, grass, hemlock, and a local weed called lambsquarters. I understand there is some sort of flower called lambsquarters, this is not it. It outcompetes the grass, and is a real nuisance. This other plant, my mystery plant, is mixed in with the lambsquarters weed, and has crooked roots like it. To me, that indicates it's a local weed, too, the native plants tend to compensate for the rocky soil even when they get in a garden and don't have to. But, the leaves are shaped like basil. It is not basil, but it kind of looks like it. It also looks a little like the hemlock, but it is not that, either. I can't decide if I should try to save it with the violets (which also have crooked roots) and tulips, or leave it out in the sun til it's good and dead, then put it in the garbage, like the lambsquarters.
So I came in and put the tulips in vases, and my husband's friend called. My husband has an invisible sign on his forehead that says "If you have relationship issues, come talk to me!!!" I swear, he does. Everywhere we go, constantly, people keep coming up to him. And they always have issues. Well, this is one of his classmates. My husband is studying computer programming. This guy is one of those geeks who has no other hobbies. And there's a girl making his life hell. We've been dealing with him for a couple weeks. He's a nice guy. He genuinely means well. He only wants to help her. This is the first girl he's ever dated. She's got a lot of problems. After today, it's over. She's pissed. She told his voicemail so, in detail. So is her 'best friend'. She told his voicemail, too. So, he spent a good part of the afternoon here. He is no longer letting them use him to get a new apartment. This is a good thing. He and I had a little chat about credit reports today. His is as squeaky clean as can be. He realized they were using him. Life sucks. He's going to go home and spend the summer with his parents and play with his nieces and nephews. He promised me he would find a hobby other than computers. You know, so he could meet real people. So the next time someone looks at him and says, "Hmm, bet I could use him," he'll recognize it sooner. And he promised not to assume that other people are only out to do good. We use our children as examples of how selfish some adults are. Pretty sad, huh? I hate having to be part of shattering this guy's illusions, but he'd get hurt worse in the long run if we didn't. I suggested in the future he save his altruistic impulses and volunteer with a charity where someone else will have done the vetting of the potential recipients. He liked that idea. Why does the world have to be such that people like him only get used and hurt?
He went home, I put the kids to bed. Hemi screamed. He's at that age where going to bed is protested vehminantly even though he's exhausted. We (me and boys) got down on our knees, I said the Lord's Prayer, Beau chimed in with the Almond at the end. Daddy works late.
My husband's employers, seeing as my husband and what remains of his coworker 'class', are finishing up this phase of training, decided in their wisdom, or lack thereof, that they will host a potluck tomorrow at dinner break. That is, instead of giving their employees the precious half-hour off that lets them come home, kiss their wives and kids, and maybe scarf some dinner, they are forcing them to stay there and bring food to share with them. This is a inbound call center. Then they turn around and whine about their employees' lack of loyalty. Well, duh! You give a half-hour break for dinner, and more than half of these employees have small children, then you take it away and tell them to bring dinner with them because it'll build 'team spirit'? These people have no team spirit! You pay beans! Your benefits are overpriced and shoddy. And then you say, Friday night, when you're working til 11:30, you can't go home and kiss your kids goodnight. Then you wonder why they quit and go work for someone, anyone else. Idiot corporations. Well, my husband's been there a month. He started at the same time as twenty other people. Training's got two weeks left, the group is already down to ten people. If you treat your workers like dirt, don't expect them to treat you any differently.
Yes, it's temporary. The ISPs in the area aren't hiring just now. Summer Break, you know, and we'll see what fall brings. It's one of those things that you do to pay the bills, keep a roof over the kids' heads, and food on the table.
So the boys are in bed, and I've done what I wanted to with all you figments of my imagination online. Read blogs, news . . . and the inlaws called. It was quite exciting to have the police at church on Sunday, and they think the pastor's the greatest. (Antioch Bible Church, this is.) So I'm bored and out of things to do. If I go practice, the boys'll wake up again. I wish that dratted tune would just cooperate . . .
OK, blogger spell check doesn't know 'blog'. Or figments, though it suggests figment. Yeah, whatever. Sorry, you'll have to live with my mispellings. This spellchecker is too dumb for me to tolerate.