Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How is that freedom?

I just heard a piece on the news about how Arizona now has a law preventing people from destroying guns in buyback programs.  Apparently some gun enthusiasts were offended by the idea of a program that allowed people to dispose of guns they didn't want in their homes anymore, because those unwanted weapons were subsequently destroyed by the police department.  They believe that since someone somewhere may want those guns they should not be destroyed.

I'm sorry, but regardless of how anyone feels about guns, this is stupid.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Amazing Milwaukee Race: Violin Store Edition

This weekend my violin store got to be a destination on a race!

The Amazing Milwaukee Race is a local version of the The Amazing Race as seen on TV.  Pairs of people team up to run a course, stopping at checkpoints and solving puzzles or performing tasks to receive clues that get them to the next destination in the race.  I ran one a couple of years ago with my friend Linda (the name of our team was "Second Place" but we actually came in fifth), and last summer Ian and I did the version on bikes (we were "The Slow Spokes" and I'm impressed we finished at all).  This year I sacrificed getting to run the course in order to have Korinthian Violins be one of the secret locations.

Our stop was a "Roadblock" which means the team arrives and must choose one person to complete the task before they can receive their next clue.

There were 77 teams, and the violin store task was to learn to play Mary Had a Little Lamb on the violin well enough that it was recognizable and then perform it while being video taped in front of the store.  I figured it would be fun because our store is pretty and in a location off the beaten path and a lot of people would be surprised to discover it there.  I also know there are a lot of people curious about holding a violin and trying to play it who have never found an excuse to do so.  As long as we kept it fun I thought we could be a memorable stop on the race.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

In Real Life

Some blog posts I just dash off in one sitting because they need to go out in a timely manner to make sense.  Others I poke at for a long time before they are ready.  Always there are at least a few blog posts in progress in my draft folder to work on as I find time.  Which means sometimes things go out back to back that were conceived during very different frames of mind.

So if anyone found my thoughts about the value of online friendship and social media to be somewhat in conflict with the post that immediately followed about our family's relative lack of electronic devices, you were correct.  They were two sides of the same coin that I flip around regularly, and I started those posts at different times and for different reasons. (The second one I didn't even plan to talk about smartphones, that just kind of happened.)

In any case, this is one of those timely manner posts that needs to be dashed off before it gets away from me, and it relates directly to my post about virtual friendships.

I got to meet writer/blogger Jane Roper in real life on my recent trip to Boston.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Unvarnished

Just got back from my trip to Boston Sunday night.  Could I have picked a weirder week to be in Boston?  No I could not.

I was actually staying in Waltham and attending a violin varnishing workshop in Concord.  There is a lot to say about everything I learned, but there is also a lot to say about having been in Boston at this time.  So I think I need two separate posts.  The next one will be about the varnish workshop.  This one will be a hodgepodge of everything else.

Where to even begin?  I thought things were off to an inauspicious start when I arrived at the Boston airport and was unable to rent a car.  I figured how hard could that be?  Fly into a major American city and just, you know, get a rental car?  However, I was informed again and again that I was out of luck because of Marathon Monday and Patriot Day.  I had been unaware of the impending marathon, and I'd never heard of Patriot Day.  There turned out to be a car rental place next door to where I was staying and I was able to pick one up later, but the only thing they had was a Prius which took some getting used to.  (I never got comfortable with the idea that you didn't need a key to start the car and was constantly in a panic about remembering to lock the doors which is something I don't normally do.)

A friend from my college days was kind enough to let me sleep in her artist studio on Moody St in Waltham.  It was nice to spend some time with her, and I liked that I didn't feel as if I were imposing on her in her actual home which is in Watertown.  There wound up being other reasons it was good not to be staying in Watertown.

Monday, April 15, 2013

One Year in the Quiet Corner

Today is the one year anniversary of this blog.  I like it here.

It's curious, and sometimes sad, to look at paths not taken.  When picking a major for college I decided of all the areas that interested me music was the most likely to deteriorate and not remain a viable option if I didn't continue it.  So I headed that way, unsure of what I would do with it since a performance career didn't appeal to me and at the time I didn't plan to teach.  When I stumbled on the idea of instrument making it felt like finding a home, and I'm glad it's something I pursued.  I'm unlikely to reach the top of my profession, but I appreciate the challenge of trying to earn a place there.

A different direction that I had the option to take was writing.  I love to write.  It was always the easiest thing for me in school.  I was one of those (irritating) people who could put off a paper until mere hours before it was due and dash off something that the teacher would not only give me an A for, but praise as an example to other classes.  But I only wrote as part of school assignments and that was it.  I didn't decide to take a stab at writing on my own until I was in my mid-30s.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Boston Bound!

Well, Concord, technically.  I'm attending a week long workshop on violin varnishing.  It's something I've wanted to do for years, but after the VSA convention in the fall I resolved to find a way to make it happen.

fingerprint on one side, name and birthday on the other
I will miss Ian and the kids, but look at this wonderful necklace I get to take with me!

Our school had a fundraiser a few weeks ago, and in the silent auction was the chance to buy a necklace with a silver pendant cast from an impression of a fingerprint.  (Made by Jill Braun at Lillydip if any local friends are interested!)  I had to pay beyond my winning bid to get fingerprint pendants for all my kids done, but it was worth it.  I feel like I have a bit of them with me when I wear it.

The workshop should be interesting.  Varnishing a violin is about half the process of making one.  And in repair terms, varnish is considered sacred.  It impacts not only the look, but the sound and life of an instrument, and you don't tamper with it.  People who aren't aware occasionally come into my shop asking if I will alter the color or texture of original varnish to suit their taste and I have to tell them no.  It's not like a coat of paint that you can do over anytime fashion changes.  It's a signature and a statement and it marks a point in history.

Unfortunately, according to people at the top of my field, my signature needs a good penmanship lesson, which is what the workshop is designed to help me with.

Which is good, because I have not even gotten there and I'm already, um, feeling like I'm at the back of the class.  I'm nervous about a couple of things.  First of all, I figured out last night I screwed up the first assignment.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Having a Ball

A couple of weeks ago I found a rubber ball.  Lost in a deserted ballroom in a hotel, it was sitting in a corner after a rehearsal, and I took it.  It didn't strike me as something that would be reunited with its original owner if it went to lost and found, and rather than have it languish there it seemed better to make sure it got played with.

This is a perfect ball, in my opinion.  How can one resist?

The next evening Quinn and I were waiting in the lobby of the Conservatory before his piano lesson.  We were early and he sat slumped in his chair swinging his feet.  Normally we do a Sudoku puzzle together but he wasn't in the mood for it that night.  Then I said, "I have something fun."

"What?" he asked, interested.

"I have a ball."

Quinn looked doubtful.  "Why is a ball fun?"

"It just is."

Friday, April 5, 2013

Virtually Friends

I am very saddened by the recent death of Roger Ebert.  He may have been famous for his movie reviews, but in my mind he was a blogger.  When cancer stole his ability to speak he turned not just to writing, but to an internet community.  There is a difference between putting your writing out there, and being willing to make that an interactive experience with your readers.  It creates a connection that doesn't exist purely in a single direction.  It's one thing to read an excerpt like the one he wrote about his love for his wife in his memoir, but another to have it posted on his blog where people can comment.  My 'Happy Anniversary' wish may not have been memorable, but it was sincere, and there is something about knowing he saw it.  I will miss his writing.

Mr Ebert certainly never read my blog, and I'm not pretending he had any real connection to me at all, but on a smaller scale I frequently connect to others through blogging in a more mutual way.  There is a capacity to get to know people through this medium that to my mind is unique.

I read a post recently by one of my favorite bloggers that has stayed with me.  She announced that she and the father of her children were breaking up.  I am genuinely sad about it.

What surprises me a little, however, is that it hit me about as hard as similar announcements by people I actually know.  I've never met this blogger, but I feel I know her through her writing.  I know more details about her opinions and beliefs and what her kids are up to than I do about many people I see face to face who supposedly count as real friends by comparison.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Break--Now with More Snow!

We just returned from a lovely (if too short) trip to the cottage.  My kids' spring break didn't completely overlap with their cousin's this year, but we were able to meet at the cottage in Michigan and spend Easter together, along with my brother and our parents.
Picture of my Gram we keep at the cottage

Is it strange that coming on our second anniversary of buying my grandmother's cottage it still hasn't fully sunk in that it's ours?  (For me, anyway.  Ian's the one who sees the bills and pays the taxes and does annual toilet repairs, so I'm sure reality has set in for him by now.)  When I clean up at the end of a stay I make the beds the way my grandma liked and put things back as if she were visiting next.  Which is probably silly since she would have been the first to say that we should redo things to suit our own tastes, but aside from removing items that make my husband sneeze we've left everything pretty much the way it's always been.  It feels right, and that consistency is part of why we love it.

The cottage is a family place where we can relax and play and talk about our history while making more of it.  We brought along a 750 piece puzzle to do, the kids made up their own games in addition to playing favorites like Settlers of Catan and Set. We read, my mom cooked amazing food, and generally just enjoyed hanging out in a shared space.  The TV stayed off except for movie night when we watched Elf.  (Hey, it's a good holiday movie!  Does it matter what holiday?)

Despite the calendar suggesting it should be Spring, we had snow.  No buds on the trees yet, no flowers.  But no matter!  We were able to walk across the frozen lake and birds were easier to spot.  The interesting thing about the cold up north is that normally we can't see much past the porch for all the green, but with the trees all bare we could see straight across the lake.