Thursday, January 29, 2015

Picking Up the Pieces

I had a really bad day this week.  It was all work related, and left me feeling kind of shattered where I stood.  The details aren't important, but the variety of ways in which people were hurt and reacting to it ran an impressive spectrum.  I failed someone, someone else failed and wanted to blame me, another person is coming apart and forcing me into an uncomfortable position, I goofed up, floundered, and was left staring at a pile of work I had to finish and no longer felt qualified to do.  I spent the day in tears on and off, and confronted with the reality that even when I do my best it isn't always enough and I don't really have much control over my reputation.  I'm at the mercy of my community and my own limitations.

Monday, January 26, 2015


I am making a point to get work done in my home shop every day, and three violins are now rolling!  It's exciting, and I'm so much happier when I get to build.  I feel productive and inspired.  (And also tired since I'm up working until midnight in order to make it happen, but that's just the way that goes.  The time has to come from somewhere.)

The main thing I'm focusing on is an Amati model I'm doing on commission.  It's a new model for me, and it's fun working with new lines and shapes and thinking ahead about what the player might like.

Aden and her maple
Aden and I also started working on her violin together.  She's making a Strad model, and I told her she can do as much or as little of the work as she likes.  I'm fine with just making the whole thing, but I'm glad she wants her own hands in it.  She picked out all her wood and I'm walking her through the process step by baby step.  Currently she's still planing her blocks, which makes your hands sore if you're not used to it, so there are many breaks.

I decided it would be helpful to Aden if I had an instrument going alongside hers that I could use for demonstration, so I'm also making a Lee model that I intend to use as my next competition instrument when the VSA meets in fall of 2016.

Aden's and the competition violin are moving along at a slow pace, but that's fine.  My real energy is going into the Amati model and that's coming together very well.  Want to see?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Freedom Ringing!

Or something.  It being MLK Day that title just kind of naturally popped up, but in terms of the actual day I will just refer back to this particular post.

And my husband did fix our bell, so that's ringing again, but that's not what this post is about, either.

No, this post is about actual rings.  Over a year ago my husband lost his wedding ring at the Y.  He's been borrowing one of mine ever since, and I've been wearing a new one.  Periodically I'll ask at the desk if a wedding band has turned up in Lost and Found, and the answer has always been no.  Seeing as the Y is closing soon, I figured I should check one last time.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pavlov's Children

Our bell came apart this week.  I haven't quite figured out a way to repair it, but it's weird not having a bell.

When we lived in our first house across the street it was about half the size and sound traveled in it a little too well.  If I called up the stairs to get the kids down for meals that worked fine.

In the current house, not so much.  It's bigger and the doors are thicker, and even though creaks and thumps carry from floor to floor, I quickly found out if the kids were in their rooms they would never hear me from the kitchen.  To call them to meals I had to walk to the other side of the house and scream up the stairs, and often that wasn't enough and I'd have to go all the way up.

But the sound of the bell carries!  We have a glass bell with a tractor engraved on it that a cousin gave us years ago that is nice and loud without being obnoxious.  I explained to the kids when meals were ready I would ring the bell.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fish out of Water

We found out today that our Y is closing at the end of the month.  It's thrown us for a loop because we've had such a nice routine going: We drop the kids off at school, head for the Y where I swim and Ian uses the gym, home by 9:30 with a little time to breathe before going to work around 10:00.

I've been trying all day to track down another place to swim.  The trouble with swimming as a chosen form of exercise is being dependent on someone having and maintaining a pool.  I wish I didn't loathe running or something that didn't require needing more than myself and maybe a decent pair of shoes to do it.  But I swim.  It's pretty much the only form of exercise I don't hate.  So I need a pool.

It looks like my only real option is going to be the local county pool, which is perfectly nice, except that they don't open until 9:00.  They also don't have anything for Ian, so we will have to split up to go exercise, which is too bad because we were able to help each other stick to the routine when we went together.  I haven't quite figured how this will work.  I may have to keep a hair dryer at the violin store since I will likely have to go straight there from the pool.  It's cutting it all very close, but again, I don't really have options. 

I'm more sad about Mona losing her Swim Team.  I don't know if I will be able to convince her to try a different one, and I will miss our whole family going to the Y on those two evenings a week.

Anyway, not the end of the world by any means, but disappointing.  Maybe once we figure it out it will be for the best.  The county pool and a gym membership will be cheaper than the Y, and both are much closer to home.

Still, I'll miss the Y.  We originally signed up when we were eligible for six months of free membership while Ian was deployed the first time.  It was a great place in the winter to let the kids all run around when I was going stir crazy at home.  We've enjoyed many a wacky hour in the racket ball courts, I appreciated the towel service, and every lifeguard was unfailingly nice.

We have until the 31st before they close their doors, so in the meantime we will just keep swimming.  Not too thrilled to have to give up a routine that's worked so well, but I'm sure we'll adapt.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Holiday Update

Happy New Year!  Welcome to a long catch-up post.

Even though I am a person who doesn't do new year's resolutions, I've decided that in 2015 I will:
1.) Buckle down and build the violin I have on commission.
2.) Edit my second novel, which I think about every day and didn't touch all last year.

At least the blocks are glued to the form.
The problem is finding time to do these things.  My assistant moved to Chicago so I'm swamped with all the repairs at the store myself, exercise takes time, rehearsals take time, my husband and kids need me.... But a violin maker and writer who can't make time for violin making or writing probably shouldn't get to claim to be either thing, so somehow I will find time.  Otherwise I'm not sure who I am.

In the meantime, I want to jot down something about our holiday break before I forget everything.  (I'm always sure I'll remember, but in the car the other day we were discussing what we did last New Year's Eve and no one was certain because it all starts to blur together.  We weren't sure if it was the year of Mona and Aden trying to stay up to midnight alone, or the epic dance party.  Going back on my blog and reading this reminded me that, oh yeah, lots of people, it was totally the dance party.  Having a blog is handy.)

The past few weeks have been so busy!  And it turns out my greatest gift was that we weren't hosting Christmas this time.  One of my brothers really wanted to go to Detroit, so that became the plan.  At first I was disappointed because I like having everyone here.  (That started because I kept having babies so close to the holidays that I couldn't travel, and the drawing power of babies brought everyone to us.)  But my Ohio relatives who usually visit were just here in the fall, and most of the rest of the family were here for Thanksgiving, so it's not like they didn't get time with us in Milwaukee.

Do you know what not hosting means?  No cleaning.  I looked around the clutter in the house each night after work and thought, "Eh."  It was a great relief.  And instead of that "make things presentable by pushing everything into closets and boxes" kind of cleaning that usually has to happen when we host and have no time to be thoughtful about where things go, we did a deep clean of Quinn's room, which was really satisfying.