Friday, July 31, 2015


My father started home hospice today.  This has been the strangest day of my life.  Good, bad, a bittersweet limbo.  I don't know quite what to do.

This is a placeholder post, really.  I can't write they way I'd like to because I need to be living these moments rather than reflecting on them.  There is much to say and much to sort out, but not tonight.

Tell the people you love that you love them.  Be there with them if you can, because we don't get to keep them.  No matter how much we want to.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Learning to Fail

People often assume since I'm a violin teacher that I instruct my own kids, and are then surprised when I tell them I'm smart enough not to.  I already tell my kids how to do everything else, and violin is hard, and sometimes having mom criticize one more thing is too much.  There are meta-messages to overcome.  When I point out a mistake, that has a weight and a history that anyone else trying to say the same thing wouldn't be burdened with.  Criticism from mom can hurt no matter how well-meaning it is or how gently it's offered.  Because no one wants to let down mom.

But for various reasons my kids' violin instruction has fallen to me this summer.  It has been trying.  At first I was kind of excited, because I love to teach violin and have lots of ideas and materials I want to share, and I've kept my distance for many years so as to not step on another teacher's toes.  This would be a chance to be involved in a way I haven't been.  I even found pieces the three of them could learn to play together.  I couldn't wait.  Unfortunately, however, most of the lessons end in tears.

I'm a fairly patient teacher, and have often been told I'm a good one, but my kids are terrified of disappointing me, so it gets complicated quickly.  I can instruct them in other things, like cooking or archery, or almost anything else, frankly.  But violin is different.  It's at the center of most of what I do, and playing in front of me makes them nervous.  It doesn't matter how often I reassure them, or praise their efforts, or tell them hearing them play always brings me joy.  When I attempt to correct an error or push them to try something harder, they fall to pieces.  It breaks my heart.

This week's lesson with Quinn, though, we had a talk about it, and it was interesting.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Escape to the Cottage

Mona at the cottage
We got a little time up at our cottage in Michigan right after 4th of July.  Ian, the kids, and the dog all headed out first, and I followed a few days later on the ferry because I had a concert to play, but it worked out well.  With everyone gone I was able to clean areas of the house and enjoy that they actually stayed clean when I walked away from them.  (Proof I am old that that made me so happy.)

It was wonderful to be at the cottage.  It's the one place where I don't feel obligated to really do anything most of the time, and I need that periodically.  It's a place to just kind of be. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lots of Noise, Lots of Bouncing, Lots of Quiet

I hope everyone had a good 4th of July!  We certainly did.  And we took note of what things have changed and what things have stayed the same.

We went, as we do every year, to the parade in our nearby park.  Some things about it are always the same: Politicians throwing candy, antique cars blowing funny horns, the lazy band on the flatbed truck, Polish dancers, accordion players, baton twirlers, Elvis....  Missing this year were the racing sausages, and there seemed to be fewer dogs.

Elvis always brings it to the very end!

Aden and her dad